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P A L A C E E N T R A N C E
S O U T H E R N J E W E L
K R O N - N E S I S

"We were fighting in a state of realism, sir, without our proper equipment. It is rather difficult to not get hit when you have armor as heavy as mine on your shoulders." The Dark Knight already knew Illyarion wouldn't take this as an excuse, but at least wanted to try get her point across anyway. His armor wasn't nearly as heavy as hers, and while he surely would still be quite mobile even with her armor, it wouldn't be enough to stop the former mercenary completely. "That isn't to say I won't master how to not get hurt one day, it's just I need more practice."

Maryvale made sure to silence herself as the princess began reading the note, as attentive as ever. Unlike her mentor, she actually listened to the apothecary, though she knew it wouldn't take long for Sir Myriavin's patience to go out the window. Azymn shot a disapproving glance at Illyarion and sighed, before attempting to remedy the situation. "Please don't try to roughhouse my future doctor too much. I'm sure the Grand Marshal will explain. We shouldn't keep him waiting any longer, so let us make haste, yes?"

It was only a short walk to the armory, with it being by the entrance of the palace itself. Inside, a variety of chests, stands, and lockers filled the room, some displaying weapons and armor, some with labels and the contents within. One such locker, titled "Retainer Maryvale", housed the suit of armor the Dark Knight had become accustomed to, as well as her personal blade. Azymn had already collected her own battle dress, and as such, was in need of only her blade: Consaire.

The two went into a private room to help Maryvale get the armor on, leaving the rest to do as they would for about ten minutes. As they emerged, the two looked like they were ready for combat, capable, and prepared.
"The Grand Marshal will likely be waiting in the War Room nearby." Azymn spoke with clarity and conviction, as though a general giving orders. She certainly could pull it off, if need be. "If not there, then likely the Marble View above. I take it everyone is prepared?"
Nods all around.
"Very well. Then let us be off."

The group of individuals who followed the princess were now quite large indeed, from Illyarion's band of Ravenguard to those who protected the palace personally, Maryvale included. All followed after their guide without question, and all would eventually answer to the Grand Marshal, Azymn herself included.
The Grand Marshal, as Illyarion and Maryvale both knew him, was a wise man with a gifted sense for battle tactics. To those he saw potential in, he gave chances, and in return they would give loyalty to him first, the kingdom second. Many under his command didn't necessarily respect Kron-Nesis nor its royalty, but would live and die by the words of the Grand Marshal. He, unlike many other commanders, was kind, hence his eventual (and some would call inevitable) rise in rank. Though some would consider this a weakness, his gifted sense of tactics has always lead to an outcome of very few casualties, even if it would mean a lesser victory.

Under his guidance, Kron-Nesis' army has grown the largest it has been in decades, with formidable warriors filling each and every rank. Though not entirely due to him alone, it is in no small part that the Grand Marshal's influence has been a contributing factor in this growth.
And now, Azymn and her company were right outside the War Room, where such a man would be waiting.
The swift knock came not from Azymn, but from Maryvale, her covered glove making a rather audible rap. She added: "Father? If you are in there, it is I, Maryvale. We have come at your request, and include company."

... There was silence.
"You may come in."
Maryvale gave a nod to those present, and the doors swung open...


Before them stood the Grand Marshal, the one man who oversaw every military action Kron-Nesis would make. He stood overlooking a map of the entire continent, pins and figures set about to symbolize what one could only assume were real units. He seemed to be looking over the map, and began shifting pieces, apparently deep in thought.
He looked up for a moment, then back down at the map.
"I see you're not alone, Maryvale. Good."

He looked over the map some more, gently rubbing his head, as though he had a headache. Finally he looked up to address the group, picking out faces of particular interest. "Illyarion, how have you been doing, friend? I hope the winds have been keeping you alive and well, as well as your Ravenguard. It is good to have you." His attention turned to Pox. "And the renowned apothecary. Pox, I believe?"
There was a pause.
"There's no need to hold him hostage. He has been vouched for."
Hidden 6 mos ago 6 mos ago Post by Claw2k11
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Claw2k11 The Eternally Tired Reaper

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Illyarion Myriavin

Southern Jewel, Kron-Nesis


As Illyarion entered the War Room and saw the Grand Marshal, his anger towards him was diminished. At least enough to not ask him the question he wanted to ask right as he entered. "Aye, those winds have been keeping me alive for over a hundred years, what's a few more years to add to that." he said as he approached his long-time friend, signaling for his two Ravenguard to let the apothecary go. "You're planning to go to war, am I correct?" Illayrion asked his friend as he joined him by the tactical map, looking at the various pieces on the board there, studying each one's location.

However, he did not even allow the Grand Marshal the time to answer the question, because it was quite obvious to the many commanders of Kron-Nesis what was going on. "Though that is not my main concern, nor is it my main question, you know I'd support you in any war you'd start, even if it was the king's idea to start it in the first place, you would always have my blade and the blades of my Ravenguard." The moment the two Ravenguard heard their name, they stood at attention, as if already waiting for combat orders.

"What I wanted to ask you, is if both you and the king have lost your minds, or have both of you gone senile?" he said, quite calmly, knowing that Lenius would not take it as an insult, though he did turn towards the princess briefly "I apologize, my princess, but you will find out in a bit why I am angry." And with that, he turned towards the Grand Marshal once again. "I hear that both Maryvale and Princess Azmyn will participate in the war with them probably fighting in the front lines, I assume, to teach both of them warfare and true combat experience and to show to common soldiers that the Princess is with them and all that."

Now, he stared straight into the Grand Marshal's eyes as he asked his final question. "Are you trying to get both your daughter and the Princess killed in this war?" he asked. "Because if you wanted them to get combat experience, then you should have sent them over to my lands, where they would gain that and they'd be safe under the protection of my Ravenguard."
Hidden 6 mos ago 6 mos ago Post by Girlie1Bomba
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Girlie1Bomba Kisses the girls and makes them sigh.

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~Bradles Worth, Lake Victorine.
~The Percullin Main Mansion.


Gianna was undoubtedly involved in this tangled web of shattered hearts and twisting daggers.

And so what now then.

The old blind man was disheveled, distraught, and disgraced. Not only had he been aggressively manhandled by Wicked One, but he was also being blackmailed by Wicked One's Underhanded brethren, Gia. This most likely was the Matrons doing and thusly she had no right to interfere with the matriarch.

She could however ask questions and glean some knowledge here; she was an Assassin's guild member afterall.

The man had been released and was collapsed in the corner of his study, weeping softly and weakly. The handwritten note returned to its resting place. And like abyssal black water the assassin's cloak chased her movements as she strode over to the fallen man. By the lapels she held him now.

"So then, orchard keeper..." The mask of the Wicked One brought closer to the blind man's face. The voice of nightmare that much closer and reverberating in his ears and heart, "re-iterate to me what was asked of you. Re-iterate the 'agreement' and re-iterate to whom you must confirm your allegiance."

She waited long enough for him to answer before releasing him. To the floor he fell as the loud banging upon the door, and, the even louder plaintiff and desperately worried voices commenced.

"And what Mercie will you have then, wine-maker? For there is another from your orchard that goes missing. Your other 'daughter' named Ouna. Shall the same fate befall her? If there is anything else you withold and would now like to air out with all truths, then your chance is now."

At the open window she now stood and reached into her cloak. "If not I leave you and your Fate. Know who is responsible when you receive this Enna-leighs hand and this Ounas heart."

From the depths of shadow in her cloak she reached. An arrow she readied and slipped into her bow, long rope readied to be unraveled for her escape.

A few more heartbeats passed.

If he spoke not she would fire her arrow and make her escape. If he did speak more she would listen for she had another means of escape; she was the Wicked One afterall.
Hidden 6 mos ago 6 mos ago Post by sly13
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Aldon Athan

Somewhere in Telduria


Aldon Athan stood in a field gazing at his opponents standing across him on the opposite side of the field. Aldon looked at each of them sizing them up trying to find weaknesses in them. Oddly there was 4 hunters standing ready for the fight as opposed to the usal three. Looking at them closely it was easy to determine what their roles were in the team. The man with a great sword was clearly the leader and would most likely challenge him head on. The hammer wielding one would try to catch Aldon off guard while in combat with their leader. And final while he was busy with the first two the one in robes would surely be charging some powerful magic. But then his eyes fell on the last and youngest of the group. A wicked smile crept across Aldon’s face.

“You're new at this aren’t you?” Seeing the poor boys reaction all but confirmed it. “Let me guess you’ve barely completed your training at one of the churches. If your wondering how I know it’s easy.” His expression grew darker as he let a small amount of his vampiric aura flare. “Your shaking. Not enough for your friends here to notice but I can. I can feel the fear coming off of you.”

As soon as he had finished the two older men charged him timing their attacks remarkable well. Unfortunately for them however Aldons vampiric speed allowed to easily dodge even as he was holding back. Looking up he could see the hammer coming down at him and he simply raised his hands to catch it. As soon as his hands touched it however he felt a burning sensation and he pulled his hands away allowing the hammer to strike him in the chest hurling him a few feet away from where he was standing. Looking at his hands and feeling the pain in his chest he became angry. “So the hammers consecrated. Good to know.”

Pulling his sword from its resting place on his back he charged back into battle clashing with the hunters. Locking strikes with the leader Aldon simply held the position waiting for the right moment to strike. He found it when the hammer weirder ran behind him the hopes of strike in him in the back only to see Aldon disappear at the last second. Shocked by hitting his leader he turned around only to see Aldon shoving his sword straight threw the his chest. Cleaning the blade off a bit Aldon settles his gaze on the leader beckoning him to charge. “Surly now you see you challenged the wrong opponent. You wish you could run but you know you can’t because if you do I will catch you without breaking a sweat.”

Barely finishing his statement the leader charged once again. The sound of swords clashing together was all that could be heard as each tried to subdue the other. Once again their swords locked as they both leaned into their strikes. Kicking the hunter in the stomach and smacking him to the side Aldon walked over to the prone hunter. Just as he was about to deliver the striking blow he felt something. His head snapped to the side as his eyes grew wide. He was sure what it was. He hadn’t felt that power in a long time. He had been so distracted by the power he was feeling he had even notice the man had grabbed him holding him place. He was broken out of his trance by hearing the man shout “NOW” and feeling a sting of lightning striking him.

After the attack there was an ereri quiet across the field. Aldon laid face down in the grass unmoving. Trying to steady himself the leader of the group looked down upon the what he believed to be a dead vampire. He smirked at the sight of Aldon barely moving. “So you still have some fight in you? Well I can fix that.” He said ready to stab his sword straight threw Aldons chest. The sword however never found its mark. The leader didn’t have to think long before he heard the voice of Aldon right behind him. “You think something like that could kill me, Aldon Athan, The Blood King!” As soon as he had finished his statement he wrapped his arms around the neck of the now frightened man and twisted snapping his head clean around. As the mans lifeless body dropped to the ground Aldons gaze settled on the young one. In a display of blinding speed Aldon appeared right behind him snapping his neck just as he had done to the leader. Settling his gaze on the wizard he could see that it was in fact a woman under the cloak. Looking at her he could tell she seemed exhausted from the last spell she had used against him. With a smirk he began to slowly walk towards her with his sword drawn. To her defense she did her best to put up a fight hurling spell after spell at him only to see them be absorbed by his blade. “I will give you credit, most by this point would have given up. But you for some reason insist on fighting.” he said as she slumped down to her knees from exhaustion. Standing over her he had to say he was impressed by her will to fight. “I'll tell you what. If you promise to leave here and forget what I look like and never tell a sole I'll let you live. But if you think for a second you can trick me I'll kill you and everyone you have ever met from a lover to a beggar you merely glanced at, is that understood?” after nodding slightly she passed out from over use of magic and fear.

Sheathing his sword back in its holder he looked off in the direction where he had felt that power coming from. With a wide smile he began off in that direction. “It's been a long time…. Zakhul
Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Delta44
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The Grand Marshal chuckled at Illyarion's perceptiveness. He was most certainly a sharp one. But he continued before he could answer, and Lenius listened careully. He understood his friend's worry - he himself was worried for the safety of not only the princess, but his own daughter. But alas, things were never so simple.
"I suppose I've gone somewhat senile, what in my old age." Replied Lenius with a smile. "But I'm afraid this isn't a result of that particular problem. The king has ordered it so, and I won't disobey."

Before Illyarion could speak, the Grand Marshal spoke up; now it was his turn to talk over him. "That said, I have no intention of letting either of them die before me. Maryvale is a competent warrior, a knight of my own blood, and the princess is hardly a fool when it comes to the blade. They will be under my direct command, and I will therefor ensure their safety."
He seemed to speak as though he were giving an order - a no-nonsense kind of approach. Despite is stern words, he softened slightly as his eyes turned back to Maryvale and the princess. "That said, I have no intention of allowing them onto the field without the appropriate level of caution. If you insist on taking them under your protection, then perhaps you and your Ravenguard could ensure their survival? My heart would be at-ease knowing that."

Maryvale was silent while her father spoke. She often kept quiet during times such as these; Lenius had instilled an obedience to authority within her. Azymn, on the other hand, liked to ask questions and make statements, given her own authority. She was glad to hear the Grand Marshal's confidence in her and her retainer, though Illyarion's skepticism made her frown. "Sir Myriavin, I can assure you, I am no typical princess. I know how to defend myself, and under your Ravenguard's protection, I see no reason we will not see the end of this campaign."

"She isn't Maryvale, but she's stronger than your common soldier, I can vouch for her." He gave the elven man a look of understanding, hinting that the two had trained before. Though, this would be news not only to Illyarion, but also to Maryvale. "That said, she will be a target both on the field and off, so you will need to keep an eye on her at all hours, should you accept." The Grand Marshal's attention then turned to Pox, who had yet to speak up. "If something were to happen, however, I've word our friend here is more than capable of handling her Highness' ailments. Terrible apologies for my lack of mannerisms, by the way: I am the Grand Marshal of Kron-Nesis. I'm hoping you live up to your reputation, Pox. While I don't doubt the skill of her company, you are almost certainly needed on this expedition. If not for the princess, then my daughter, Maryvale, will require your assistance time and again. Her magic is self-inflicting, so keep that in mind as you treat her."

He gave Pox room to speak his mind as well as anything else Illyarion wanted to say, before immediately following up with: "Before we get into anything else, let it be known why you're here. A warcamp is being amassed to the north, which is where you'll be headed. Head to the border town of Lyserene. That's where many of our army will be headed." Many knew Lyserene to share the border of Kron-Nesis and Eamonvale. Going beyond that town would lead to a direct act of trespassing, and could provoke a war. Unless...
"I will explain more about the situation, strategy, and formations of our forces once all is accounted for. Until then, don't press me for questions I cannot answer."


@Claw2k11@ShwiggityShwah
Sorry it sucks ;-; Not been doing much writing lately. Trying to get things moving again, though! XD
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Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Zhaliora
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Zhaliora Fallen Angel

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Everton


"Blasted daemons...." a gruff voice said as he looked at the aftermath of the fight in the inn. He slowly made his way over to the different corpses and inspected them for damages. A greater daemon indeed. The damage to the hunters was substantial but he could also tell that they had dealt some damage back to the daemon. The slightly different blood told him all he needed to know. The daemon had been hurt, more than just the spell the innkeeper had used. This was good. But it was also terrifying to him. The daemon had been able to subdue all of these hunters, got injured, and kept going and ran away.

No matter though, the purgation squad was already here. Good fortune was that they had been just a few minutes out of town. "Gentlemen, and My Lady," he said and bowed slightly towards the heavily armoured group that walked into the inn. "The mark is on the daemon," he said as the innkeeper walked over and handed them a stone that shone bright on one side.

"Go and get that bastard, most of these hunters were my close friends." The lead woman nodded and accepted the stone before signaling for the squad to move out. Now, there was nowhere for the daemon to hide. He would be found, sooner or later.

Bradles Worth


The old man sobbed and sighed. He knew that either he was going to die and perhaps have a chance to see his daughter again. They could flee once she was back. Hide from the Underhanded. Somewhere far, far away from here. Or he was going to do what he was told and help them in their dealings. Neither was very promising for his or his family's health. "They want me to act as a safehouse. To provide a safe haven, an outpost for their activities. I refused. Once you let one in, they'll take it all soon enough. But I don't see any other options at this point... And I know of your reputation, even though I can't see, Underhanded. I guess you're not as unified as it seems."

His voice was tired, but had a little bit of fire in it. "Please....keep my family safe, save my stolen daughter if possible. I'll give in to your demands, whatever they might be, as long as they are safeguarded. I'd stake my life on it under oath spell." The old man slumped down and placed his head in his hands. "Tell your brethren that I agree to their terms.."
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Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Claw2k11
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War Room
Southern Jewel
Kron-Nesis


"And there's another thing, they have absolutely no field..." IIyarion wanted to say more about how the two girls had absolutely no field experience, making the use of their actual combat experience somewhat limited, however, it was Lenius' turn to interrupt him. Illyarion listened to the argument and the proposition of his friend without as much as saying a word and he when he did, he found several problems.

However, he realized as soon as he spoke that Lenius had most likely thought about all of these problems ahead of time. Instead, he turned towards Maryvale and Princess Azmyn and studied them for a moment, to see if they would perhaps be ready for a bit more than just fighting on the front lines. So, giving the two a brief smile before turning towards Lenius, with an idea for the Ravenguard to be more than just bodyguards to the two girls before him.

"I admire your generosity my dear friend, but I have a slightly better idea, instead of the girls just fighting on the field of battle like a common soldier, why don't I make them temporary officers within the Ravenguard and allow them to lead men into combat as well, it would give the girls some much needed experience as commanders, experience which they'll both need if they are to become Queen and Grand Marshal respectively, am I correct? he asked his friend with a smiled on his face, though soon a thought came to him that he already had such a thing in mind for them, and his smile diminished a bit, though he did not ask Lenius if that was the case.

As he waited for his friend's response as he looked on at the map. If they would take the path he thought they would take through Eamonvale, then they needed someone who would know the lands beforehand at least and though he did not like to admit it, he had done his fair share of raiding deep into Eamonvale back when he worked for the Crow King. "I also think that I should mayhaps serve as the vanguard of our forces, considering my special knowledge of the terrain." He said, not even saying what he meant to say. The Grand Marshal would know what he meant by this, however, he did not want the two girls to find out that he had been part of some of the atrocities that the Crow King had committed, it would be likely that the girl's opinion on him would change a bit if they found that out, and not for the better.

"So, is there anything else we need to know, my friend, or shall we be on our way?"




I apologize if the post is a bit sub-par, but my creativity is a bit down-under at the moment.
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Hidden 6 mos ago 6 mos ago Post by Denduris
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Denduris

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A collaboration between @pandapolio and @Denduris

Uriel Aethyn walked at a leisurely pace beside his daemon captor, the not-so-elated young man appearing out of breath. They had needed to slow down, not only to prevent arousing suspicion from the common folk they passed on this oft-traversed road leading in to the Kingdom of Vesh, but for the mortals sake, as he didn't have very much endurance. Uriel's lungs burned with every breath he took, and his rosy red cheeks were accented by sweat. His hood was now pulled up to help obscure his face, and his brown knee-high boots were marred by mud of similar color. He stole a glance of his captor, before getting enough air in his lungs to speak to him while they were on the move. "When will you release me?" He asked in a diffident manner, looking to Zakhul as he did.

Zakhul looked down at Uriel as the boy spoke to him. “What makes you so confident that I will ever release you?” An animal smile came to his lips as he scanned the area around him. Messing with the boy helped alleviate Zakhul’s boredom as they walked. “I will probably release you once you cease to be entertaining. For now you are a mystery to me, and a mystery is interesting.” Zakhul watched the people they walked by. Many of the people on the dirt road they were on were poor peasants or farmers. Most walked with their eyes pointed downwards, hoping to avoid conflict. This was the part of humanity that he hated, the part that was willing to bow it's head to every challenge. Hopefully the boy will prove to be different.

“Where do you believe we should head? I have very little knowledge of these lands, so I will leave our destination up to you.”

A tentative moment passed after Zakhul spoke his words to the scholar, Uriel walking in silence as his mind reeled at the possibility of being executed as soon as he leaves his service. He would grind his teeth and shake his head, lightly, as if to disagree, but spoke no venom towards the daemon in response. Digging in to his satchel for a moment to pull their map, he'd start planning their route. His voice took on a note of apathy as he spoke. "It's lucky that we ended up heading south of Everton, I know a sanctuary we can stay in to evade any further investigations if those monster hunters are still pursuing us." He paused to hand over his map to Zakhul, briefly gesturing with a finger to one of the southern-most kingdoms. "I was raised in the Archclericy of Valon, I can tell you the most power they have is through the followers of their religions, not in their faith. Very few of the priests have significant divine abilities, but they'd rather use the masses to do the bloodshed for them. So long as you are disguised, they won't know you were there." He explained, every word flowing out of his mouth as smooth as honey.

Nodding Zakhul handed the map back to Uriel, he patted the boy on the shoulder. “I would prefer to avoid any fights for now seeing I am yet to recover from my slumber. Let us hide now.” As they walked Zakhul began to mutter under his breath and his form seemed to shimmer. If one was looking closely they might have seen flesh of a deathly pallor replace his current shade. Then his feature seemed to warp. Wrinkles began to form on his face while his skin became tanned. His posture lost its pride as his shoulders rolled forward into a slouch and his hairline receded. His eyes changed from their regal crimson into a muddled brown, and his teeth lost their perfect form and grew dirty. Where there once was a proud specimen of perfection, now stood a middle-aged farm worker who had never looked up from the end of his pitchfork. The clothes became ragged and torn, becoming much like what many people around them were wearing.

The old man spoke in a kind tone to Uriel, “We can’t get caught because of those eyes of yours, now can we?” He then waved his hand over the boy’s eyes causing them to change to a pearl green. Grinning at his handy work Zakhul grabbed a large stick off the road and began to use it as a walking stick. “Tell me where were you heading originally.”

Uriel's face changed from an expression of unreadable apathy and exhaustion to one of noticeable apprehension as he saw Zakhul change form in front of his very eyes, appearing now as nothing more then an elderly man. Combined with the reassuring pat he had been given, chills went down his back and made him visibly shiver. He held his map in his hands for a minute, trying to digest what he had seen, before placing it back in his satchel. When Zakhul waved his hand over his golden eyes and changed it to a pearlescent emerald, he could feel the change come over his features. He'd take a hand and cover his right eye, keeping his left on the road in case of any changes. "What did you do?" The young man asked with notable frustration and a hint of anger, despite already knowing the answer. He'd shake his head at his asking of such a question, the daemon could do whatever he had wanted to him and nobody would be the wiser. "You're right." He'd quickly add before Zakhul could reply, correcting his disloyal tone and letting his hand rest at his side.

Glancing down at his boots, he'd find the knot he had tied for his boots unraveling. Lucky for him, there was a flattened rock on the side of the road coming up that was commonly used as a bench so travelers could rest their legs for a time. He would slow down and seat himself on the rock, gesturing to the open space beside him for Zakhul to seat himself. "I was headed to Ithell, the 'Court of the Stars'." He would lean over and begin tying his shoes, fumbling with the laces. His mental nerves were shot, and it showed in his frustrated sighs as he continued working on his laces. "It's considered a land of scholars, and they have the most expansive archive of knowledge on the continent. Ancient texts, modern works, the scribbles of ancient mages, I'd imagine they are all there." He would get more excited and focused as he spoke of the nation, a small smile forming on his face. Finished with tying his shoes, he would reach in to his satchel to pull out some strips of dried meat. His stomach grumbled as he parted the cloth covering the ration, and bit off a piece of the rough meat. He hesitated as he looked between the food he had, and Zakhul, before setting it down between the two.

"I'm not familiar with your eating habits, but if you're hungry, feel free to help yourself. We should take stops in various villages along the way to pick up more food for our journey, and rest." He watched his wording around the other common folk as people passed and took to heading towards Everton. "I know you're not a fan of this, pa, as you prefer the outdoors. We'll pick up camping gear in the next town over, and continue our journey to the Archclericy. We may have to stop by the outskirts of Kron-Nesis and pick up more supplies if we need to keep moving with more urgency." He said, playing his part of the dutiful son with stellar accuracy. Someone had taken interest in this conversation after overhearing their urgency, and walked over to Uriel for a brief moment. The stranger appeared to be in his mid-to-late thirties, and was dressed poorly by comparison to the scribe, his own teeth mirroring the old mans. "Is everything alright?" A great deal of empathy was present in the stranger's dry voice as he looked at Zakhul for a brief moment.

Uriel had raised an eyebrow at the question by the stranger, but nodded and went to explain. "We're okay, yeah. My grandpa here is traveling with me to the Archclericy to see his separated wife in her final hours." Uriel explained, followed by evading the civilian's vision, features of grief tinging his face. "Of course, I understand. I'll be praying for her." The stranger replied, evidently feeling guilty for the innocent question, and walked away. Uriel took a minute to finish up eating his portion of the food, before covering up what was left and putting it away in his satchel. He leaned in to whisper in to Zakhul's ear, trying his best to appear inconspicuous. "People have likely seen you earlier on the road, those eyes are hard to mistake for anything else. Having a solid alibi is a must, and killing more people is going to arouse more suspicion. I've seen how strong you are, but the strength of kingdoms will crush us if we aren't careful." The young man got up and checked his belongings, making sure everything was present and accounted for, before starting on the road again, walking at Zakhul's pace. Their speech would be less restricted as the commoners on the road thinned, leaving them alone to their words.

“Quite the wordsmith are we my child?” Zakhul had a cheerful grin on his face as he walked with Uriel. He was honestly enjoying the the company more than he thought he would. Nodding to any who would meet his eyes as they walked Zakhul began to hum a cheerful tune. As he walked, Zakhul sniffed the air as if he had caught a whiff of a bad smell and wrinkled his nose. “Bat.” Turning his attention back to the road he focused his mind on ignoring the pain in his arm. While the arrow would leave no lasting harm it would take a few days for the wound to heal.

“So tell me of how the world lives on these days. Do humans still slaughter each other over farmland? Such small minds, though some of you manage to be different and think big. They manage to think of more than themselves, more than this second.” Zakhul closed his eyes as they continued to walk. All the little ants were following the each other on their little roads. Attempting to block out the background sounds he listened closely. Placing his hand on Uriel’s should so he would not run into anyone he continued to focus on the sounds around them. He picked out the smaller sounds around them that most phase out or ignore. Focusing his mind on those he was able to create small pictures in his head of what he was listening to. Connecting those images he began to form a portrait around him, using the smaller noises as frames for the picture.

Opening his eyes Zakhul was pleased he had not lost any hearing in his slumber. Now that his eyes were open he let go of Uriel’s shoulder and grinned at the boy. “Never let your senses become dulled. They are the foundation on which all skills are built.” Now that he was sure in his abilities Zakhul began to wonder about the boy.

“So, are you a noble of some kind? You seem much to well spoken for a commoner, along with the fact you can read. Though you do not seem as proud as the normal pompous fool would be.” Leaning on the staff he let out a deep sigh and wiped his forehead. “All this walking is taking a toll on my old body. Do you know if there are any places to sleep nearby? A bed wouldn't do these tired bones any harm.“

Uriel trained his eyes on the road as he kept a slow and steady pace alongside Zakhul, mired in thought. He wouldn't acknowledge the daemon's compliment or unusual comment about a bat, instead keeping to his silence for the time until a question was asked of him. Snapped out of his thoughts by Zakhul's words, he found the old mans hand on his shoulder. A subtle hint of disgust graced his lips, and he decided to look forward to the road they were traversing instead of thinking about it further. "Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't talk about current politics, but yes, people live and die by the declaration of men with too much power. Kingdoms rely on slavery to be the backbone of their working force, and consider them lesser for burying their fingers in the work nobility can't be asked to do." His words were laced with a venom Zakhul hadn't seen yet, the young man not pausing to mull his words over. "I imagine what a slave rebellion would be like. One way to start it would be educating their youth, their elderly. From there, they should be recognized, and..." He had trailed off before long, realizing that he was rambling, speaking of treason.

"... I'm sorry, ignore that. A more virtuous world would allow such a thing." Uriel uttered in a low cadence, before moving on to the next question that the daemon had asked. "I'm no noble by any means, I was taught by many tutors in Valon thanks to my parents. Without them, I wouldn't have gotten to where I am today." He came to a stop as he added, "Pride is worthless, humility proves itself time and time again to be more valuable." The scholar reached in to his satchel to bring out the map, unraveling it and giving it an in-depth look. "Your 'old bones' are not going to have a rest for a while yet. Those hunters saw us running in this direction, and are no doubt on the move to mobilize against us." He said as he rolled the map back up and put it back in his bag. "There is a town coming up ahead, I passed through it on the way to Everton. It's a quaint, quiet little place with a small market where we can get what we need. If you can change my eyes, change my clothes, and give me something to cover my face to make sure they can't recognize me."

“Of course we are being hunted, it would be foolish to think we weren’t. That is exactly why we should rest up. I would much prefer to engage them rested and healed instead of tired on a dirt road.” Zakhul began to mutter under his breath and Uriel’s clothes shifted into threadbare garb most peasants wore. Frowning at Uriel’s face he traced out a symbol in the air then waved his hand towards the boy’s face. Grinning at his success Zakhul looked over his shoulder at the path behind them. Nothing looked out of place, but that was bound to change eventually. “Never let your enemy choose the battlefield. Retreat if you must, but always know your surroundings. I didn’t change your face, but people will feel an aversion to looking directly at it. If they really want to they probably will, but it will prevent people to randomly glance at your face.”

Walking further Zakhul decided to inquire about the boy. “What combat skills do you possess if any?” It would be strange for someone of the boy’s bloodline to be so unprotected, so either he was a fighter of some kind or he had snuck out. Zakhul wondered how the hunters would treat the boy when they came to kill him. Uriel would likely be in danger of being seen as an accomplice and be attacked. That of course would have to be prevented. With a smirk Zakhul had a job for Uriel, “When we reach the town purchase some rope please.”

Uriel brought up a finger as if to protest Zakhul's plan for rest, but thought better of it. He would pay no mind to the illusions that were applied this time, appearing calm and collected as it were. "Thanks." His words came out as quiet and bitter as they entered the village. Leaning in to whisper in Zakhul's ear, he would speak. "This is the first place they'd look, you're asking for a confrontation between those hunters. That hunter that ran away saw you use illusory magic, so chances are high that their searching will be thorough. We might get a night's rest, or you may not wake up tomorrow. You are in control here, so I shall do as you order." Uriel's logical mind demanded that they keep going, yet he found no way to insist without the potential outcome of Zakhul disciplining him to remind him of his captivity, or worse, striking him down where he stood. He believed he was already riding a line with his tone.

The young man set a reasonable distance between the two as they walked within the villages limits, his tired voice returning to its normal cadence. "I have no skills in the art of combat." He admitted, a disappointed look appearing across his face, evidently not satisfied with that answer. He didn't elaborate any further, but in the following minutes Uriel could be seen with an unmistakable expression of melancholy. His posture remained dejected as he rummaged through his satchel to bring out a brown pouch of coins, untying it and looking through what he had left. He took a couple of coins and handed over the rest to Zakhul, gesturing to the nearby market. "I'll get us a room at the inn, and you can get what you need. Be frugal, we need to stretch that amount out over our journey." He'd walk away from Zakhul, storing the coins in his satchel and headed toward the tavern. Given where the town was positioned, Uriel wasn't surprised that they had one, as many travelers, tourists, and other civilians must pass through this comely little village to reach Everton and head further northeast.
Hidden 6 mos ago 6 mos ago Post by ShwiggityShwah
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ShwiggityShwah Good Diet, Sleep, Excercise, and Leeches

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Pox took off his hat and lowered his beak in a respectful little bow when he was addressed. "At your most esteemed service my liege. Tis a honor to be recognized and a pleasure to work under your banner again." He looked back up, lenses showing nothing to everyone, but one imagines he was smiling behind the cold bits of glass and leather. He kept the hat folded down near his waist, and then waited to be addressed again.

It wasn't Pox's place to speak in this instance, he was among royals, and more importantly, he was among his clients. Interposing in such matters without proper permission simply would not do. Pox wasn't a savage after all. It is manners that separate men from beasts. But while he didn't speak, he did listen, gleaning what he could from the exchange.

The elf, Illyarion. It was good to know that the warrior knew that safety and security was more important than allowing essentially civilians to go into battle. Pox knew first hand that these were wicked and bloody affairs. All wars were, but there was subtle differences in the hells you can be a part of. He nodded his approval slightly with him challenging the Grand Marshal's decision, subtly quing that yes, dont make them fight. The less people involved, the better. Preferably there would be no fighting at all, but then he might be out of a job.

The Knight Maryvale. She seemed competent, she stood tall proud, full of confidence in the trials ahead. There was a familial bond, and the Marshal saw fit that his daughter was ready for the task at hand. Pox could detect that there was a bit of sadness to this, worry. That was to be expected, but he was a man of duty. Maybe the king figured his daughter was to be a true ruler one day and not someone's spouse on the throne. It was a wise if dangerous lesson.

The Princess joined her knight in telling everyone of her readiness. The poor dear, if only she knew, she would not be so eager on this fools errand. Still, Pox kept his lip shut tight on that. She had a kindness to her though, and that was something he held onto to encourage him to stay fixated on his duties. Seeing her come to harm would break his heart. She'd be a wise leader.

The marshal addressed him and he immediately straightened up, fulling facing him. "A most esteemed of honors my lord Grand Marshal." he listened carefully to his expectations. "My lord Marshal, I've watched over entourages in a dozen petty battles. I will keep lasting harm far and away from both these brave young ladies as well as any valiant lords whom are gracious enough to accompany them so that there are as many sheilds that stand between them and the dangers ahead as possible."The Grand Marshal spoke of Maryvale's gifts and he nodded with a gentle understanding. "There is nothing that she can do to herself that I cannot fix. Rest well my Lord Grand Marshal. The Apothecaries will continue to provide the service you expect." Always sunshine and flowered words with this one it seems.

When finally excused, he would bow again and place the hat upon his head. "What a delight." He would say, perhaps slightly louder than he intended.
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Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Torack
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Torack The Golden Apple

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Logan Thetch

Tarantis
Kron-Nesis


Logan approached the elk hanging by its legs from the tree; a majestic creature, massive with wide horns. He'd been hunting this particular beast for the better part of a week, and now that he'd killed it he felt a small sense of sorrow. Not for the creature, but for the hunt and the challenge that it provided; it was a wonder that a creature this size could be so elusive, and yet mixed in with that sorrow was a sense of accomplishment. He approached closer and laid a hand on its thick hide, feeling the heavy muscles underneath and gave it a small pat then cut the rope that held it onto a branch.

With a grunt he lifted it onto a shoulder and began his trek back to Tarantis.

The massive marble and whitewashed stone gatehouse came into view several hours later, its polished walls shining in the sunlight as if to awe those who approached the capitol of the Grand Kingdom. To him however it was little more than a nuisance, he'd been in the city long enough that he grew almost tired of the way the city seemed to show itself off, as if it were somehow the greatest kingdom in the world. He wondered, not for the first time, if it was even defensible, if that gate was actually as thick and strong as it looked; in the north, they made their castles with rough stone. Defensible structures. Squat and thick, nothing so flashy, perhaps even ugly things, but their walls were a bitch to break down. But perhaps the Kron-Nesi were so secure in their power that they didn't think they needed such defensible walls; after all to these particular southerners, it seemed appearance was far more important than functionality. It made sense then that a proclamation of near absolute power would be to have structures such as those before him as if to dare anyone to try and break them down. If they could even get near.

"You planning on entering the city with that thing?" A guard said as he approached the gate, pointedly looking at the massive elk dripping blood on the white cobbled road.

Logan simply stared at him for several long minutes and as the silence stretched on, the guard began to shuffle and looked at another guard uncertainly.

"He probably doesn't even understand you," the other guardsman offered with a smirk.

The first guard closed his eyes and let out a sigh. "That," he said loudly, pointing at the elk. "Do. You. Plan. On Entering. With It?"

"Aye," he said.

The guards looked at each other again as they realized he wouldn't offer any more.

"Would you rather carry it for me?" He asked with a raised eyebrow.

The guard looked at the elk, then at him and spat on the floor and waved him in, mumbling something about foreigners under his breath.

Logan walked through the wide streets of the city and as he drew closer to his destination he was well aware of the stares he was getting, young children pointing at him, others looking at the blood the carcass was dripping in indignation, and pedestrians making way as if to avoid him or the carcass on his shoulder. One particular woman screamed when he turned a bend, staring at him wide-eyed and pale faced. He ignored her as he passed by, making his way to a large white and marble building, the stench of meat and blood wafting from it's open counter as he slammed the carcass onto the marble surface. The butcher came out soon after from a postern door, a thick brown apron stained with blood and gore over his fine clothes.

"Logan," the butcher said, eyeing the carcass. "I see you've got me a fine beast. Took you long enough."

"It put up a worthy chase," he said in a thick accent and deep voice.

"I'm sure it did," the butcher said and placed a bag of coins on the table. "You have my thanks, northman."

Logan grunted. "The head," he said. "I'll need it."

"Whatever for?"

He simply stared at the butcher, and the bulky man shrugged and brought out a cleaver and began slamming it on creature's neck until it came free. "There's your head, then."

"My thanks, Barthem," Logan said and lifted it by its antlers and walked away, Sorin flying down and landing on his shoulders, looking at the elk head with one curious eye.
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Hidden 6 mos ago 6 mos ago Post by Girlie1Bomba
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Girlie1Bomba Kisses the girls and makes them sigh.

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~Bradles Worth, Lake Victorine.
~The Percullin Main Mansion.


The man was wise as he was blind. A hint of a smile could not be stilled as she nodded once at Jono. As far as the assassin was concerned, the fracturing of unity between the Underhanded, as the man saw it, was a good thing; this insight of his gave him a glimmer of hope. And he cared not that his 'other daughter, Ouna' the servant girl did not return to him. That left Mercaidi's persona as the 'other daughter' in the clear; 'Ouna' was going to die. The Wicked One had all the info she needed.

"A safehouse for a safe return then. You will have your daughter, of which one returns to you I cannot promise. But you have my word that we will keep our end of the bargain so long as you keep yours, orchard keeper."

A soon as her words were spoken the door shattered open. The servants and guards would see Jono on his knees, weeping softly. At the window they would see a mithril armoured form slip a cowl over its head then slip further into the hue of night. The black form then flowed like liquid black into the dark gathered between the trees. Only the perceptive would see it streak away, like a bladefish through inky black waters.

~~~


The following day, Mercaidi met up with the horse bandits and paid them the handsome sum for two falsely branded riding stallions and a simple carriage. But she was not dresssed as Mercaidi this day. No, her garb was made of rather fine finery and her face was shrouded in dark veils; today, Mercie was 'Ivonnia the Widow.'

She left an encrypted note in the well for Gia to find and made sure that her Underhanded partner would meet near the Darlington Bridge come nightfall. As she waited, Mercie-- 'Ivonnia' made good use of her time placing and tying weapons and other such useful items all over the carriage. These were standard placements that even Gianna would know when the time came. And the time would come, they were two lone females headed by their lonesomes into the dangers of the northern lands afterall.

Mercie considered making an excursion to hire out a driver and scout, but decided that the less witnesses, the better. And so Gianna would have to play driver instead and so she had decided to travel light and pick up supplies in the next town over.

Normally, the mixed-blood would be calm and sit at the ready, half-meditating, half-preconceiving. Strategies, pitfalls, dangers, exit strategies and the like would be mulled over, de-constructed, re-thought out, perfected. But she just could not concentrate. No, it was because of Gianna. And not because of the interference she played in Mercie's life as 'Ouna' but because...

Because Gianna still had Mercaidi's heart and oh, how Gia heated Mercie's heart and other parts.

~~~


~Bradles Worth, Lake Victorine.
~Near the Darlington Bridge.


It was nighttime now, and Gia would be here soon. And up until now, Mercie could not concentrate. And so finally, Mercie gave in and did what she had to do. In the back of the carriage, the ashen-skinnned woman decided to 'take matters into her own hands' and promptly began to 'calm' herself. Oh, but how she wished Gia was the one 'calming' her right now--

Two taps on the glass interrupted her. Orange-yellow eyes popped open wide and met the gaze of sky-blue ones.

"Oh. Gia...! H-hail, sister... I was... w-waaaas just... um... oh but how this gown itches. Aye. So itchy... s-so I was just... I was juuuuust. Scratching."

Mercaidi Kin'Myla, nearly one hundred years old, a killer, a murderer, a survivor, high-ranking Underhanded membere, a woman who fought daemons of the Abyss in her Shadow cloak, stammered away like a little girl, embarrassed and high pitched in voice. That and she told her just-as-deadly-sister that she was 'scratching there' of all places.

"How... h-how are you this fine eve, Gianna...? Shall we speak of plans up n-north then?"

Mercie looked just like a little girl that got busted with her 'hand in the cookie jar'. Blushing and eyes shining, she gave the blonde Fae-Elf a weak and forced smile.

~~~
Hidden 6 mos ago 5 mos ago Post by Zhaliora
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Zhaliora Fallen Angel

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Southern Jewel


The grand marshal eyed the people gathered. He wondered if everyone would make it. They probably would. It was an old habit that probably mever would leave him. Worry about your men, care for them, treat them like family. Support them in their needs and they'll follow you into and beyond he'll itself. A lesson from his father when Lenius was just a simple squad leader. It had stuck with him because he had seen the loyalty and respect that the men had showed his father. Or perhaps he was just getting old and sentimental.

Lenius chuckled at his friend's remark. "I don't believe in the noble privilege of buying yourself into an officer position. No matter who it is," he said and glanced towards the princess. "My father, myself and indeed the King himself only started out at squad leaders after showing leadership skills during training." He looked up and locked eyes with Ilyarion. "Bloodlines rarely mean anything on the battlefield. Even the mightiest bloodline warrior may be felled by a chance strike. Even a bloodline of commanders might produce an incompetent leader. I do not intend to repeat the mistakes of the past."

Lenius looked at his papers and maps and sighed before looking up and spoke with a slight smile. "As for the position of Grand Marshal, it's not bound to a bloodline, but to whomever the King deems fit for the position." He looked at his daughter, his sweet daughter. He wondered if she would take up the mantle sometime. The princess might name her out of friendship, but would it be the best for the Kingdom? He honestly didn't know.

"We should be leaving tomorrow when the last portion of our troops here are ready. You can either wait or leave early. If you travel by horse you should arrive a few days early. And your request to be assigned as the vanguard has been duly noted, my friend. But at this point I can't tell." He sighed to himself. This would either make or break their country. While no one but him and the King knew just the scope of the endeavour, if it leaked out it might spell doom for them all. The King really went all in on this. He had a hard time keeping the worry from showing on his face as he studied the maps once again before rolling them up.

He turned towards Pox, nodding. "It's reassuring to hear. While I've seen you around the battlefields and have heard of your reputation, sadly I've not seen you in action myself. However if word is worth anything anymore, her Highness and my daughter could not be in better hands on this side of the continent. I have high hopes in you, that's why we requested you personally for this venture." Lenius had been most things in his days. Way stranger things than this apothecary, and most of them were brilliant at their craft. Something with strangeness, quirkiness and excellence seemed to go hand in hand.

Runner in The Southern Jewel


He was running quickly, sent out from the hunters guild. He hated these missions. Run here, run there, collect that, drop that off. It sucked. But such was the life of a novice. Being used while calling it 'training'. "Mister! Mister Logan!" He finally caught up to the man. Word had spread that the great hunter was back. Ugh he reeked though. "The guild requires your presence for a coming expedition for the army. If you are interested, otherwise please let me know now."

Bradles Worth


Gia had been able to smell it before she knocked. Heard it even. A positivly evil grin was plastered on her face as she considered her options. What would be the most fun? What would induce the most torment upon her sister? She shivered with delight as she made up her mind and knocked after getting a good view of the 'situation'.

"Uh uh? Itches huh? I think I've got the cure for itchy crotches." she turned and looked towards the one she was dragging along before opening the door and pushed said person inside. "I caught this one while I was here." she said and pushed the girl down on her knees in front of Mercie. "I can personally vouch for her ability to resolve itches. Go on, help my dear sister."

As the girl looked up, Mercie could see that it was the very person she had sworn to protect not too long ago.

Purgation Squad


"Its heading South. Strange for a daemon to head that way. Normally most of them stay clear from that area." The lead scout had been following the pair, already been given a second tracker. He wondered if they would veer off somewhere else or keep in going. There was a slight thrill to the whole hunt. Tracking, stalking, and then finally killing the prey that was a danger to them all. The elf stood up from his vantage point and relayed his report to the main group. Soon enough daemon blood would flow. But before that...the young man the creature was with.

He circled around the town and used his magic to follow the boy. He detected nothing daemonic from the boy, but it was best to make sure. And what if he was a hostage? Kaleb decided to act on the hopes that the man was innocent. It always sucked to kill mortals.

Kaleb appeared behind the man as he was talking to the innkeeper. "Excuse me young man, but we have matters to attend to." He said as he placed a hand on his shoulder before they both vanished into darkness. Uriel would feel an intense sence of vertigo and nausia before popping into existence in some nearby woods with Kaleb sitting on a rock next to him.

"So...what is a young man like you doing with a dangerous criminal? Don't bother bluffing, I see through illusions and spells." Kaleb's piercing, slightly glowing green eyes stared at Uriel from behind a mask made out of purple silk. His clothes a mix of greens and blacks that seems to shift in colour to the surroundings, making him difficult to pick out against the background. On his back is a longbow made out of a sliver looking material and strapped to his hips are two scabbards made out of leather and metal with intricate patterns.




"Targets have been separated. We move as planned." the woman in front with the other eight members of their ten man squad was making their way towards the daemon. "Standard protocal, bind, drain and subdue. We know where he is, so there is no escape. Prepare bindings while we wait for the results of the interrogation. Might find out something useful." The squad was making their way to the town in an orderly fashion with layers upon layers of spells on them, making the group near impossible to spot unless you were actively looking for them. And even if you were, it was like they were just another set of travellers. Like as if you should not pay any attention to them. As if your eyes just slide off them.
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Hidden 5 mos ago Post by Girlie1Bomba
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Girlie1Bomba Kisses the girls and makes them sigh.

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~Bradles Worth, Lake Victorine.
~The Forest near Darlington Bridge.


From heated heart and other parts to utter disarming shock.

There she was right at her feet, the daughter of Jonothan Percullin, 'Ouna's sister,' none other than Miss Enna-Leigh.

Instinctively, Mercie drew the dark veils over her face to hide her identity from Enna-Leigh. A heartbeat after that, she scanned the girl to see of what harm had become of her. The springy auburn ringlets that framed her heart-shaped face were damp and matted against her head and there was some patches where it looked as if her hair had been cut. Hands were dirty and fingernails torn and broken yet all fingers were intact. She was barefoot and Mercie could see the bruising, bleeding and swelling of her feet and ankles. The girl’s clothes were torn, dirty and cut, but no blood stains. The redhead held her hands to her face as she wept, but Mercie would see the state of that loverly teen face soon enough.

Seeing the girl’s face was a blessing; unable to see the teen’s green eyes, Mercaidi’s shock ended and the ice in her blood and steel in her nerves returned. A deep inhale and a long drawn out exhale the mix-blood assassin gave and held out her hand to Gianna. She did not even have to glance over to see the expression upon her sister Underhanded’s face to know what it looked like in this moment.

Mercie could just feel the haughty smugness and triumphant grin ooze right off and into Mercie’s own face.

One boot Gia put into Mercie’s hand. The other she whipped at the redhead. The boot bounced off the side of the girl’s head and she let out a sharp but short whimper. One of the stallions snorted in response. Mercie just shook her head.

“You know better than to look at us, child,” the pang in her heart beat against the iron walls that contained it. A handful of auburn hair she grabbed and shoved the teens face towards the well of the carriage and thrust the girl’s nose into her own boot. “I say this once. Once only… Eyes down if you want to see your father, your home, your safety again. Dare you to even cast a split-second glance upon us and you return home with bloody sockets where your eyes once were and with no hands to wipe your tears away. You know better. Now put on your boots, child…”

Mercie gently laid down the other boot. Enna-Leigh sobbed now, shivering and shaking as she slowly put on her fine suede footwear. She fumbled and once more the pang in Mercie’s heart beat against the iron walls that contained it. And once more Mercie grabbed a handful of hair and this time screamed into the teen’s ear.

“I SAID PUT YOUR BOOTS ON! NOW!!” with more than enough roughness, she tossed the girl’s head back down.

The girl kept sobbing heavily, shoulders rocking up and down as she hastily put on her boots. When she was done, she knelt before Mercie as snot and spit fell off her chin. Gianna had conditioned Enna well.

“Out.” Mercie growled the word at the teen then she turned to Gianna, “I’ll take it from here. Get changed if you would be so kind, sister. Garb and gear in the case under that bench in the front of the carriage.”

Mercie was so happy that she chose to wear veils, dark ones at that; her orange-yellow eyes burned the hue of murder as she looked Gia over. But in the dark of her mind, she knew Gianna was not to blame… even though that blonde Fae-Elf revelled in being such a tormenting bitch. No. She understood that they were still sisters and they were to follow out their orders to a tee. Orders given out by Matron herself. Oh, she knew who was to blame alright…

“March, child.”

~~~


The pang in Mercie’s heart no longer beat against the iron walls that contained it.

Enna cringed when she heard the wicked blade being slowly drawn from its sheath. As she marched along, she literally had to bite her tongue and stuff both hands nearly into her mouth to keep from screaming. The auburn headed teen could hear the swishing of the blade and she swore that, with each swipe and swish of the blade, she could hear her name called out.

And then the swishing blade stopped and so did she.

“End of the road child,” said Mercie as she reached over to stroke the hair of the girl. It was more than Enna could bear. A scream she let out, but only for a split second. But a split second sealed her fate nonetheless.

“You should not have done that,” said Mercie with the sound of tender regret in her voice, backed by a wall of sheer murderous red intent, “oh no… nonononononono… you should have not. You should have know better than that…

“Kneel now, child…”


The flat of the blade pressed firmly upon her shoulder and Enna bit down upon her right hand as she wept, trembling and sweating, green eyes bulging wide.

“Do. Not. Make. Me. Ask. Again. Now then—awwwww… that’s a good girl…” at once the girl kneeled and at once a hand stroked her auburn hair. This time the scream was stifled. Now both green eyes closed, scrunching up her face as if trying to hide any traces that this fresh, heart shaped face ever had eyes, “aye… that’s a good girl… ayyyyyyeeeee… such a good girl. Would you like to remain a good girl, Enna-Leigh? Would you like to do that for me?”

The teen nodded. And held her breath.

“Such a good girl. Are you a good girl…?” The flat of the blade tapped twice upon the girl’s shoulder, each time inching closer to that pale, yet heated tender white neck.

The teen nodded. Her breath was still held, but her shoulders rocked up and down with each withheld sob.

“But even good girls make mistakes, do they not? Yet good girls will always pay for their mistakes, will they not? So. Will you pay for your mistakes, child…?

The sobs could no longer be held back. She had feared for her life ever since she had been kidnapped. But until now, she thought she would have a chance to escape. Until now. Until she made the mistake of crying out. More snot, more spittle. The teen was truly a pathetic, quivering kneeling mess.

“Of course you will. You will not cry out again once my blade tastes you. You will not cry out again, will you…? Now then. I see you have two feet. Which is more important to you… left? …or right?”

The blade tapped one, then the other. The girl shook with tremendous force each time she was touched by the wicked steel. And now a high pitched whine tried to escape from between the fists that she crammed at her mouth.

Several thudding heartbeats Enna heard in her ears as she cowered, closer to the forest floor, yet still kneeling. Still a good girl.

“Such a good girl you are, you cannot decide which is more important. Fine then. I will decide for you…”

Enna-Leigh braced herself, teeth clenched and eyes scrunched closed tight. The anticipation of having a foot severed was worse than the actual act, she felt. She could hear the swishing of the blade as it was lifted. She could hear it as if it called her name. The blade held in the air set to chop at her legs for several thudding heartbeats too many. She could bear it no longer.

“Neither! Cut from me NEITHER, you wicked BITCH!!!”

Oh, but the awkward silence.

Oh, but how long did such a silence hang in the air.

Oh, but what was that sound that broke such silence.

Was that laughter than fell from the mouth of Mercaidi?

“Such a good girl…” whispered the voice of impending doom into the ear of the teenaged auburn headed girl, “I like you. I do. Such fire. Such spirit. Such indignance in this moment. At the end of the road and yet still you burn like pyre.

"I will release you then. You will return to your father…”


A gasp. A glimmer of hope. A sigh of relief.

“But you will still pay. For all good girls pay in the end. Good-bye, child.”

What—”

The swipe of the blade was so precise and so swift not only did it slice at the girl without her feeling it, but it cut the words right out of her mouth.

~~~


Mercaidi returned to where Gia stood, a stark white kerchief in her dusky hued hand, blood staining one side of said stark white kerchief.

“If you are ready and changed proper, then we should begin our ride, sister. Night has just fallen and the deed is done. ‘Ouna’ is dead. The girl is gone. And we must move. Now.”

The dark veils shrouded the eyes and expression of the mixed-blood from Gianna, but Gia would note that the breathing of her Underhanded sister was not completely even. It sounded as if Mercie hid the fact that she was winded, or was frustrated…

…or had been crying.

Mercie slipped into the driver’s bench and waited for Gia to sit beside her. And if and when Gia was seated beside Mercie and Gia was ready to take the reigns to get the horses to ride out… it happened.

Ol’ Lady Bear, the spirit that had cursed Mercaidi in the mixed-blood female’s youth was right. It would happen and it was here in their reality now.

The undeniable ripple across their continent hit both magic wielding females as they sat side by side. There was a daemon re-spawned into this world. And Mercaidi did not know how to tell her Fae-Elf sister, Gia, that Mercaidi had to go meet this daemon.

How would she word it? How could she tell Gia that Mercie could not deny Ol’ Lady Bear. If the ancient spirit said she had to go, then she had to go. The demands of Matron to ‘deal with the Duke’s snubbing’ had to wait. How do you deny the will of Matron? But the compulsion to sate Ol’ Lady Bear’s demands was too over bearing and Ol’ Lady Bear was telling Mercie that she had to delay her orders to go meet this daemon.

And kill it.

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Hidden 5 mos ago Post by Strange Rodent
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Strange Rodent Rodent of Unusual Size

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Nar Zalaam and Toradeen Folgamer


Tarantis hadn't changed as much as Nar had hoped. It was still... well... Tarantis. To him it was a hometown, but not home. Regardless of this, he was still glad to be back. The streets were absolutely packed, which was nothing new. Around the milling masses, the dizzying glare of the marble scorched its way into Nar's retinas. Nar pondered how drunk the architects would've been to consider building this.

He walked through his old neighbourhood. A fierce nostalgia drew closer with every step he took, before rearing its head in front of his parents' old house. Posted on the exterior wall was a sign: For Sale. His parents... The meekly furious thought floated by, Is despair contagious?. He hadn't even been there for their funeral. Had they a funeral? It wasn't that he surprised that they weren't around anymore, it was that he wasn't there. He curled up in front of the house for an hour until a guardsman told him to leave. He didn't want to start shit, so he left. Spilling blood on his parents' doorstep wasn't something he felt inclined to do.

Wandering pointlessly for a time, he found himself outside the arena. Two meatheads were going at it in the center with wooden swords to cries of "No, X is the greatest warrior in the kingdom!". It seemed pointless to him. One duel isn't enough of a sample size to determine anything, let alone the greatest warrior. Saying that wouldn't prove anything, so he let them have their fun.

Something much more interesting happened in the market district.

The black carriage stopped with the grey horses skidding to a halt making strange rasping breaths which released plumes of almost smokey exhales, similar to how breaths are visible a cold day, all while the air around them was reasonably warm.
As the carriage had moved through the district the people had gone silent, several had moved inside and were nervously peeking through windows and doors.
The door opened and out from it stepped two smoldering daemon knights who oozed ember filled smoke, they stood ever at attention, holding the blade down in front of them like statues, their movements rigid and inhuman.
They stood at guard on each side of the door. From the same door, an ancient wizard clad in deep blue robes had trouble moving down the stairs of the wagon, his shaking hands guiding the staff and cane which he used to balance himself.

It was none other than Toradeen Folgamer, perhaps the most renowned battle mage alive. Or perhaps one should say infamous.
Many recognized the stories, some were terrified, some were simply spooked.
The aura of despair could be felt all around him, his old gaze still held a precision and purpose which made even the most resolute waver.

Folgamer recognized the reactions, always the same. The reason he had stopped was simple. Men have many needs, and right now one of his was to go to the loo, he hoped he could borrow the one at the inn which he stopped in front without making too much of a fuss.
With troubled steps he moved forth, the hellknights moving in perfect synchronisation to flank him on his sides.

Nar watched this wizened man with something that could only be described as wonder. He was ancient, but still held immense power. That despair was instantly recognisable. There was no doubt that he was the mage in Fool's Pass. He felt a fresh, deep sorrow rise in his throat for Fiona, and for Teth. The sorrow from his parents had never left him. He would have retreated into the faux comfort of loneliness to escape these horrid feelings, but it never worked for him in the past. Instead, he scrutinised these emotions, hoping to glean some insight. As with before, just a clean slate of nothing. That's okay. Maybe this man would have his own insights into despair?

Deciding it would be a good idea, he strode up to the Old Man. Despair was slowly backing off, but it'd never be totally gone. He was now only ten paces away, and in the least startling voice he could manage said, "I saw you at Fool's Pass. It was impressive, to say the least.". The soft words seemed loud against the backdrop of silence that had previously surrounded them.

With mirrored movements, the knights took two steps forth and raised their weapons to a guard pose standing between their charge and Nar.
The heavy footfalls and creaking metal overpowering the scene and some would have ran on the spot.
With a sigh, Folgamer muttered, pushed on the shoulder of one of the knights with his staff, and let something akin to 'Can't have a calm second in my life can I' and 'Get out of my way you oaf' before standing in front of his bodyguards, quickly adjusting his clothes and facing Nar.

After a good examination with a blue light dancing across his eyeballs, Folgamer spoke with a gruff voice.
"Impressive? Murdering weak people is impressive? I guess one could see it that way, see it as a sign of honor or glory.... pyromancer.... " He gave a slight pause and coughed slightly before resuming his response.
"I don't recall any mages that day, when I think of it I recall me sparing about ten people, and none of them were you... I also come to think of that I probably shouldn't be spouting military secrets... so, who are you? What do you want from me? If it is help in a battle you can forget it. If it is an enchantment to claim vengeance on some bullying fool the answer is the same. You are wasting your time."

Nar watched the old man turn. It would've been pitiful if you didn't know he was the greatest warmage alive. Or rather, the greatest warmage with one foot in the grave. He noticed that the older mage was putting him under much scrutiny, and allowed as much information to ooze into his body language as would fit. Folgamer spoke pure spite. Words full of suspicion and contempt. Nar figured it wouldn't be a good idea to act indignant, so he attempted to seem wise. He leaned to the right, and looked straight down into the old man's eyes.

"It is impressive. Maybe not totally ethical, but impressive.", he raised his right eyebrow and gave a slight smile before continuing, "I wasn't in Fool's Pass, luckily. I was several leagues away, but I still felt your power. And don't worry, I wouldn't ask others to do my dirty work. I'm far more than capable of dealing with that myself.". He cast a few furtive glances around, before reaching into his back to pull out the Book of Ishamel, and presenting it to the old man to ponder. "So... this is something I'd rather discuss without so many ears around. Do you know a spell to hide our words?, he said in a lowered voice, before putting the book back in his pack, and taking another glance around.

Folgamer raised an eyebrow and took a second glance at the younger mage.
He wasn't intimidated, that meant he was probably a fool. No matter, he didn't want things killed and was reasonably polite. On top of it the pyromancer had presented a rather interesting spellbook he seemed to want to discuss.

"I know the best spell, choose a good table in that inn, we'll buy some cider and we can discuss... but first... I have business to attend to." With that, Folgamer moved past Nar with the hellknights close. One of them turned its head ever upon Nar while otherwise mirroring the others movements. It was able to turn its head just a bit too much, further betraying its inhuman nature before it resumed a look straight forward.

With that Folgamer got inside and demanded access to the facilities, so to speak. The whole scene looked a bit odd with two hellknights guarding a toilet. Luckily it was out of sight.
After a while Folgamer returned to see if the pyromancer had gotten a good table or left because of boredom, many pyromancers tended to be impatient like the flame so Folgamer expected this one to be no different.

The disapproval was practically oozing off the older mage, but actions speak loudest. Nar decided the best way to prove this man wrong was to... well... prove him wrong. He sat at a windowside table that allowed the occupant to see the inside and outside of the door, just in case they needed to hide the book quickly. He called over a barmaid and ordered two glasses of an above average cider. He wasn't poor, but he wasn't filthy rich either. He thanked the waitress when she brought the cider around, and made a point of waiting for the old man to return before he began to drink. As he waited he contemplated his next line. He figured an introduction would do it. A handshake, too.

The old man slowly shuffled across the room before taking a seat across from Nar. He took his time, but it was only a few minutes tops. Absolutely no price to pay for a master's opinion. Nar waited for him to settle in his seat before speaking up. Wouldn't want to anger him. "So, before we talk business, let's talk introductions. My name is Nar Zalaam, and some call me the Wandering Pyromancer.", he said with a smile. He held out his sooty hand for the old man to shake. He didn't want to introduce the old man for him, and he really didn't want to feign ignorance as to who it was, so he let Folgamer take the initiative.

After eyeing the hand Folgamer returned the handshake, it was firm and with a single shake. After it he did pull out a handkerchief to wipe off the soot.
"I am Toradeen Folgamer, I am known by many names, you probably know many of them Nar. I prefer magelord the best though... one of my least known titles..." The old man's last words were bitter and quite.
He took his glass of cider and took a hearty gulp, exhaled loudly and looked in a remarkably better mood suddenly.
"Ah, finally i can sit down and simply drink some good cider... so, that book you had, you wanted me to evaluate it? Explain a complex part? Translate it?" His voice was that of man straight to the point and honestly a bit tired.

The meeting could have appeared like a normal meeting between two old wizard friends, if it wasn't for the two hellknights which stood guard at the table, smelling heavily of sulphur and adding to the glum atmosphere.
There was not a single cheer, hearty laugh or song in the inn. Just a few other patrons far away who kept to a low tone discussion.

Nar watched the old man wiping off his hand, slightly more than amused. Over his glass of cider he glanced at the doors, making sure nobody new was walking in. He looked at the hellknights, then to Folgamer.

"I've heard of you. Didn't want to introduce you for yourself though. I'll spread magelord as best as I can" he explained. He reached into his backpack, and hoisted the Book onto the table. He turned it so that it would be facing Folgamer, and opened it to the exact page he needed to with a practiced grace. "First off, don't spill cider on it. And yes, this is a spellbook, but a rather odd one. You see, it details the life of an old pyromancer named Ishamel, as opposed to explicitly instructing you on spells. You have to work it out yourself. I've had it for fifteen odd years, and read over it hundreds of times. Until I thought about this passage, I thought I had a good understanding," he points to a line near the top of the page. it reads:

And Ishamel watched the sun settle. Inevitable cycling would kindly allow it to begin again, but until then horrors would reign. Despair hollowed him from the inside out over this night, and he learned: The coldest ruler can never be warmed by a loving embrace.

"You see, I used to take it to mean that every hero has their fallen points. Their dark hours, so to speak. Well, when I faced mine I learned a lesson, too: This passage doesn't mean that. I am of the belief that it alludes to something far more profound. A flame powered by Despair.", he elucidated.

The air around the mages was charged with thought and contemplation. Strange, how time seeks to slow down in anticipation of something. The next few seconds that Nar waited for Folgamer's response were torturous. He took another sip of cider, and felt properly nervous for the first time in this conversation.

Folgamer suddenly got vastly more interested, a perplexing conundrum, a task for the mind. He took a hearty sip and put away the glass so as not to even risk spilling.
He murmured, read the passage several times as he ran he shaking fingers over the words while muttering the words. He pondered for a while before speaking.
"You have surprised me, I didn't see such an interesting topic coming from a mile away. As for pyromantic essence being fueled by despair, the idea is preposterous, ludicrous!" He paused for effect.
"Which is why it so interesting! How did you come to this theory? How do you think it will manifest?" Folgamer reached for and drank his entire glass before realizing there was no more.
"Barmaid!!! Bring us a bottle of this!"

Nar watched the old man fill with wonder at the sight of these words, and took a sip of cider. The glass met the table again with a hollow thunk. He looked at the book, reading the passage a few times as he gathered his theory into something succinct.

"Hm. Well I'm glad to have surprised you. As for how I came to this theory... It's a long story that winds up with me lost at sea, suffering from heatstroke. I think it undid me a little, to be completely honest", he laughed. The crows feet at the corners of his eyes showed that he was genuinely amused, too. "From a more logical standpoint, I believe that disparity is a law of nature. Light and dark, earth and sky, flora and fauna, you get the picture. However, something that you'll notice about all of these is the pairings. You see, the pairs they have are dissimilar from them, but not totally removed. Fire... fire does not have one. Water pairs better with shore, ice pairs better with lava, et cetera.", he said, in a respectful, but lecturing tone.

His brow furrowed as he moved to the next part of his hypothesis, "Now imagine, what could be the disparate twin to passion, the root of pyromany? Apathy was my first thought, but the thing with apathy is that you're still passionate about staying apathetic. No, despair made a lot more sense to me. It leaves you hollow, and totally devoid of anything. On the other hand, passion fills you with exactly what you need. Only thing is, something is off. It might be my approach to the casting of this magic. It may even be the whole thing was based off a fallacy from the start, but I'm not willing to give up this late in the game.".

At just the right time, the barmaid had brought back the cider. She was good at her job, and placed the bottle by the glasses, so it wouldn't spill. She filled them with a generous portion, to which Nar smiled and thanked her for accommodating them.

"So. What are your thoughts?"

Folgamer didn't even turn to look at the obviously nervous barmaid when he slid a silver dinar on the table in front of her and rubbed the beard over his chin.
He took another gulp from his glass and spoke.
"Ah yes, the importance of emotion. How a person can get inhuman strength, just from feeling the strong emotion to save a loved one. How spite can fuel your strikes and how loyalty can have you stand far longer than what seems natural. The same way emotion can be used with magic. However, is it really passion that fuels the flame? Or is it any strong emotion? Does not the flames of hatred burn bright as well?"

"Yes, exactly! Any strong 'fuel' emotion. Which is to say emotions that give you drive. The thing is with some of them, like anger, is that they burn hot fast, and unreliably.", he stops himself here. He was about to dive into how it can cause undesired collateral, but that was an inappropriate topic to breach with Folgamer.

"My problem is that despair is as far from a fuel emotion as you can get...", Was what he continued with, trailing off as if he had become lost in thought. He shook his head, blinked a few times, and took a sip of his cider.

"It is true, despair is not something you fuel yourself with. It drains you, hurts you, until you give up. I assume it would be possible to take despair from other....." Folgamer realized where his train of thought was heading, he did not like it.
"No, that is not an option. Even if it would be useful to ease the fear they feel..." He leaned back and drank some cider, he looked all so very old at that moment.

Nar's eyes widened at Folgamer's suggestion. It was simply genius, although potentially unethical. He let his train of thought run long enough to get through a mouthful of cider. That'd be worth saying, if only to cheer the man a little. The other patrons were starting to give them dirty looks. Even the weakest man can be made brave by alcohol.

"Ah, but if they give us their permission first. Either way, do you wish to make an exit? These fellows don't look too happy with us. I'm sure we could take them, but I don't think starting a scene would be a good idea.", he said, eyeing off the other patrons. He squirmed in his chair, and finished his cider in one long gulp.

Toradeen only now realized the grim looks of disdain coming from the other patrons, mixed with fear, mistrust and revulsion.
As he met some of their eyes, they turned away, but one didn't relent, the two held eye contact for a while before Folgamer's eyes rolled with blue energy.
This made the other patron look away, but begin to prepare his things, most alarmingly he fastened his sword belt. A metal plated belt with a nasty looking falchion upon it.
The old wizards reaction was simply a shake of the head.

"If anyone starts anything it will be their undoing, none here have the ability to stand against my bodyguards, let alone me... but I don't want to ruin this nice establishment, it'd be a waste." He studied the beams which held up the upper floor, he was almost serene, the fact that an armed man was preparing for something probably regarding him didn't bother him the slightest and if it did, neither Nar or anyone present was able to tell.
"So Nar, how do you think this power would manifest?" He asked this while taking a sip of cider, seemingly ignoring the possible danger.

"I... I have positively no idea. It may be an ice blue flame, but that's a wild guess. But... maybe we can finish this in your carriage? While I'm absolutely sure we can handle these guys I'd very much rather not have blood on my hands here. Of all places.". He paused, and he seemed to retreat into himself a bit. "At least,not this soon after...", he trailed off, then glanced around the room. The other patrons weren't making eye contact, but every single one looked away when Nar looked over his shoulder.

Anxiety shuffled into his head, making itself as comfortable as it can get. It's never truly comfortable because there's always something wrong. Shadows darkened, and the glances thrown their way seemed that bit more hostile than they might've otherwise. In a terrific hurry, he packed the Book back into his bag and left a tip for the waiter. "Come on. We're not killing anyone today.", and with this he hovered near the doorway, waiting for Folgamer.

As the ancient wizard saw the pyromancer scurry towards the door, Folgamer simply looked with a tired sigh upon his cup.
It was like it always is, no place welcoming, no place filled with rest.
A loud sigh was heard and he stood up with a few grunts.

As he moved out flanked by the hellknights the guy with the falchion, yearning for a fight to prove his worth ran up and shouted.
"That's right mage filth, run from us proper men, you are cowards anyway!" He had a cocky stance where he showed he was ready to draw his sword in a mocking way. Straight back and a smirk, positively gleaming with nervous pride.

Folgamer stopped in his tracks, the knights did a full turn and in sync assumed guard stances. The old man turned, took a good look upon the youngling while the pale blue magelight danced across his eyes.
"Filth... I suppose that is a fitting way to describe me, murderer of men, terror of war, archmage Toradeen Folgamer." With his strong loud words several of the patrons grew pale on the spot, one guy seemingly got panic and ran out while panting frantically.
"He seemed to have heard about me, while you young weak one have not." Folgamers words confused and angered the man with the falchion who now drew it, albeit with a slight shake to his grip.
"Although I don't appreciate you calling this gentleman over here filth, nor is coward a good way to describe me." His words completely calm as he gestured towards Nar, who was visibly freaking out over how the old fool was starting a fight.
"You don't scare me you old bastard!" The voice of the young man noticeably was filled with doubt as several of the patrons were hiding and some were gesturing for the man to stand down, hide and apologize.

He began to draw a throwing dart with his left, the motion was fluid and trained. But not as fluid and trained as Folgamers hand forming a circle in front of him which he blew into, blue energies formed a visible magical circle which shot out a pale dart which hit square in the chest of the falchion guy which went stiff, eyes rolled back, straightened up into attention and like a log falling over he fell to the floor with a loud thud.
As the sound startled the guests Folgamer was already leaving.
"Paralysis, works well on those few with such a weak magical essence as that poor excuse of a man. Let's leave." He said to Nar.

"Ah, lovely... Well. Why don't you folks put this man in a chair so he isn't on the floor when he wakes up. And uh...", he paused, taking a deep breath. "Next time it may be a good idea to show some decency to the other patrons, hey? Grow some fucking brains. Bartender! I'd like you to remember the faces of the ones who tried to start a fight in your tavern! We were just trying to leave and this man threatened us with a sword... My associate here was merely acting in self defense. Get him on a bloody seat!", as he raised his voice for those last words the other patrons scrambled to pick up their comrade and allow him some dignity.

He followed Folgamer out the door. When they exited the building, Nar spoke, "While they were the aggressors, maybe it would be helpful to utilise your defensive magics in situations like that.... He tried to be polite about it, but his disapproval was still somewhat evident. He was happy that Folgamer hadn't disintegrated the younger man. That was good of him. He walked slightly behind Folgamer as they walked over to his carriage, attempting to stay out of the way of the hellish guards.

Folgamer made a troubled smirk filled with regret as he said.
"Defensive magic... you clearly don't know me. Don't you know the old saying." He turned to Nar as he finished his sentence.
"Attack is the best form of defense."

He went a few steps and let out a slight giggle of sorts. Pulling forth the cider bottle to study it.
"At least I get to finish this one." He boarded his wagon with a bit of difficulty, being helped by his bodyguards.
"Young pyromancer, I feel we haven't really finished our discussion, care to join me on my trip to the military camp?" Folgamer was gesturing at the seat opposite him, the side with the back towards the horses.

"Well if you want both parties to end up dying, sure.", being a pyromancer, Nar had to say that one a lot. Aggression is fine and dandy, but when you put yourself at risk, a keen opponent will end you then and there.

"Of course. Huh... Maybe we could enroll. You could try and save your unit, rather than destroying the enemy's.", he said, spur of the moment.

As Nar boarded, Folgamer answered.
"It all depends on who you are fighting... saving my unit? Oh right, other mages usually work inside the units. It's easy to forget the trivial things. Haven't done that for years."
With that the door closed without input and the carriage began moving after the horses released a large burst of steaming breath.

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Torack The Golden Apple

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Logan Thetch


Tarantis
Kron Nesis


He walked back out of the alleyway and into the main streets towards the better part of the city, which wasn't saying all that much considering the entire city was a spectacle. There were portions of the city however where the richer folk and the nobility would reside, far more decorated and ridiculous than the rest of the city; the buildings were obnoxiously tall and wide some surrounded with their own walls as though it were a small city unto itself, even more ludicrous were these particular walls had their own guards walking the ramparts and standing at the entrances. But worse were the people, who rode in carriages and horses and carpeted the cobblestones they walked upon, as though better than everyone else. As if they didn't take a shit that morning. The nature of man and society was something he was curious about ever since he returned from his time lost in the woods; he would have gone to scholars for such things, but conversation was a weak point for him. Having lived in seclusion for so long with nothing but himself to talk to wasn't exactly grounds for great conversational skills, and even on the few times he tried it seemed awkward and forced on his part. He'd much rather pursue his curiosity on his own, pondering things in his head as he had grown all too accustomed to.

Feeling someone approach him from behind, he turned and saw a young man running towards him from a long distance, red faced. Logan stood and waited for the runner, recognizing him as one of the novices of the Hunter's Guild when he eventually got near. He couldn't recollect the boy's name but he'd seen him about a few times running this way and that, always with a frustrated look on his red face just like the one he had now, as if he'd rather be somewhere else or doing something else. "Mister Logan! Mister Logan!" he heard the boy cry out. He came to a stop in front of him and took a moment to catch his breath, then: "The guild requires your presence for a coming expedition for the army. If you are interested, otherwise please let me know now."

Logan looked the boy in the eyes for a good half minute before grunting and walking away, his mind racing as a worried knot formed on his brow. A war. He'd heard about this, or rather had heard rumours of one about to start. Something about a king of straw or a straw king or some such madman that the nation deemed a threat. Enough to waste resources on. But Kron-Nesis if anything had a surplus of resources and they needed to go somewhere, and wasting them on a war was as good as anything else. The worry however came in the choices this presented before him. Would he join this army and fight in this fool's war for a nation he had no allegiance to? More, Kron-Nesis were the aggressors and he didn't know if they were marching for the right reasons. Would they march to oppress, a powerful nation stomping and exploiting a smaller, weaker nation just to flex its own ego?

If that were the case he couldn't join the army, he'd be morally bound to fight against it and join the oppressed. Not that he had any business in the silly war in any case.

He approached a rather large building made mostly of wood, one of the only few buildings of its kind, but an exotic sort of wood that seemed to shine and glow in the sunlight, its somewhat earthy nature accentuated by the stone framework. As he got closer he saw the wood wasn't flat, but rather it had been etched into forming large exotic swirls and runes all intertwined together as though the building had been transported from the Northern Alliance and placed in this southern Kingdom. On the stone framework were set large gemstones nearly as big as his head in a variety of colours that emitted a sort light of their own, pulsating weakly as if power ran through the building like blood. He entered through the large wooden door and stepped into a storefront of hunting goods. Bows, arrows, traps and heads of various games were set on the walls. Skins and hides of various animals. And the place a pine smell to it, not the natural kind one would smell deep in the woods, but synthetic and more sweet.

"Logan," a man poking his head from the counter. A Northman like him, but finer dressed and dark haired. If one didn't know who he was he could have easily been mistaken for a Kron Nesi. "It's good to finally see you."

He grunted and placed the head on the counter. "Here's the head you wanted," he said reverting back to his mother tongue.

"It's beautiful," Bjorn said with a wide grin running a hand on its massive antlers, still speaking in Kron Nesi. "Eighteen antlers. Tell me it put up a chase, old friend. Tell me it sensed your intention the moment you set foot into its woods."

"Bastard seemed to cover its own tracks too. That or some goblin decided to amuse itself by making my life harder."

The owner laughed and took the head to the back and returned moments later and started putting coins into a pouch. "So, how're you getting along in Tarantis?"

"Well enough."

"Still the silent savage, I take it?"

Logan frowned.

"It's what they're calling you, you know. These Kron-Nesi."

"Is that so?"

"Aye, it is. They think you strange and dumb, some savage from the woods. I even hear a few say they were going to petition to get you out of the city."

He clicked his tongue and waved his hand dismissively with a soft growl.

"Logan. Seriously, you have to learn to socialize with them. You're not in the woods anymore, people need to be reassured that you're civilized."

Logan got an uncomfortable look about him as he turned away, examining a rather interesting piece of string on the table. "It's not as easy as it looks, you know," he mumbled.

"Coming from the man who survived in the woods. Alone, as a child on nothing but his own wit? Can't talk to people?"

He looked up at Bjorn with a frown.

"Look, all I'm saying is you have to give it a shot. It's only as hard as the effort you give."

"Being lectured by a shopowner," Logan grumbled as he grabbed the coin pouch. "I socialize well enough to get by. If they don't like it, they can kiss my Northern arse, the bastards."

Bjorn grinned. "Wonderful! Now say that to any passing man in the street and they'll all be relieved!"

"Fuck off," he said and walked out.
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W A R R O O M
S O U T H E R N J E W E L
K R O N - N E S I S

The subtle thud of a closing book pulled those who may not be listening out of their daydream.
"And that concludes this little meeting."
There was not much else he could say to those present. Not without challenging the king's authority, something he felt no need to do. The lecture was short, but important, and best be said for the sake of Illyarion and Azymn. He knew Maryvale understood perfectly, though doubted her highness to follow the same mentality. Even if they asked, they would not receive the information they so desired.
Not yet.
There was a time and place for everything, and one leak, no matter how small, could spell disaster for everyone.

He left without another word.



The Dark Knight understood the role of duty well. She had been raised by principle, discipline, and order. No matter how her heartstrings wished they could embrace in a temporary hug, now was not the time nor place. There was a rule among when you could show yourself a soldier and show yourself a human being. It was only in private, outside of her line of work, that Lenius embraced Maryvale as his daughter; all other times they would maintain a strictly professional attitude to one-another.
That didn't mean, however, that she enjoyed the professionalism all the time.
Even so, there would come an opportunity for them to meet again. Her father was the smartest and strongest man she knew, and not only because of how he acted as a leader. His person as a human being, outside of the duty of Grand Marshal, was compassionate, loving, and incredibly approachable. Personal. It was why so many would much sooner ride under his name than the King's.

With Lenius gone and their orders provided, it was now just a matter of when. The Dark Knight, still formal in stance and attitude alike, referred to her liege for guidance. "I would suggest leaving early. I see no reason not to leave, and your life would be in more danger here than on the road."
Assassins, as most referred to them, were a common threat to the royalty, particularly to Princess Azymn. With Maryvale's blade by her side, they would forever be unable to claim their mark, so long as her retainer was always attentive. That was one of her specialties.
Azymn, it would seem, couldn't help but agree to the plan.
"Maryvale, I know you hate it here, but you don't need to hide it around me."
"Your sense of humor is blander than this entire palace."
"Charming as ever."

The princess gave a light chuckle before expressing a more serious attitude. "Sir Myriavin, I suppose you and your men should get equipped, assuming you wish to join us?" She was quick to divert attention, however, wanting to make sure their doctor was properly addressed. "Likewise, doctor, unless you have anything in particular you would like to pick up now rather than on our way?"
It wouldn't do if nobody was prepared, especially their most important companions. Despite Maryvale's skill as a knight, even with her raw magical power, she couldn't protect Azymn and fight back simultaneously. With their answers provided, those who needed preparation went their own way. Those that were ready needed only wait...



N O R T H G A T E
S O U T H E R N J E W E L
K R O N - N E S I S

"I hate riding."
The northern gate of Kron-Nesis was attracting a small expeditionary force, and, as one would expect, a crowd of people. With such faces as the Princess of Kron-Nesis and the Strongest Knight, it was hard to avoid the publicity. Many expressed their worries of whether they would be seeing the Princess again, to which she always replied in kind that she would - she would promise them.
Those who worried for Maryvale generally didn't speak up for fear of pissing her off.

Never the greatest rider, Maryvale couldn't quite handle horses well. No matter how much her father tried, she could never escape the realm of mediocrity when it came to riding horses, both on and off the battlefield. In fact she was often noted being better on the field than off, for some strange reason. It was frustrating to her that a royal retainer, one of the strongest in Kron-Nesis and arguably the wider world, couldn't even ride a damn horse well.
"Ugh... End me."
"You'll be fine," cheered Azymn, "it's not like this is your first time riding. Like with your literacy, you've made many, many improvements!"
"And many, many mistakes."
"Yes, well, failure is the best teacher! You'll find your secret someday, Maryvale."
The pep talk didn't make her feel much better, so she decided to change subjects.
"How much longer must we wait?" She quizzed, doing her best to not sound impatient. Though many would find it hard to tell behind her helm, Azymn could easily pick out the smaller details to understand Maryvale's mood. It had been a small challenge in the past but a useful skill now that the two had grown up and Maryvale more commonly used her helmet.
Unfortunately, the princess couldn't give her a definite answer.

"That is hard to say, but I wouldn't say long. Our comrades seem to be getting the last of our foodstuffs. This journey, despite our smaller size, will still be a long one. I hope you're prepared to ride a lot."
Maryvale groaned.
Catching her retainer's discomfort, Azymn attempted to remedy the situation by pulling her over to a map. The ride from the Southern Jewel to Lyserene was a relatively simple and straightforward one. Caravans and roads were well-established along the plains of Kron-Nesis, allowing a swift transit from point A to point B. The real issue came from bandits, denizens of the dark, or even scouting parties from the Darakeene Protectorate. While not necessarily an issue around the capital, the further from the Southern Jewel one got, particularly to the north, the worse these instances would occur, both in severity and rarity. Even with the Ravenguard with them, one could always be careful along any road, no matter the kingdom.
Of course, the plains were the faster option, and would serve as how the bulk of the main forces headed north would be reaching Lyserene. Presumably the larger divisions would operate under the cover of darkness, however a smaller band didn't require as much secrecy, as it was less likely to attract the eyes of the Protectorate as well as bandits.
However, there was always the fear of particular fae which could slaughter the likes of them...

"The inland path is the best." Maryvale announced in a confident tone of voice, a finger trailing along the center of the large Teldurian map. While each of the three primary paths -- mountains, inland, and seaside -- each had their respective dangers, in Mayvale's mind it was the inland which almost guaranteed safety and speed. "It is well-developed, and though susceptible to bandits, we are less likely to encounter scouts. Though all three will possibly have creatures of the wilderness, our horses should be able to outpace and outmatch them. Because of this, we can afford to travel with the sun overhead, however we wouldn't want to run out of supplies while we're out there. Plus, we can clear out any problems the Grand Marshal's forces may come across, so-"
"Maryvale?"
"Mmh?"
The princess couldn't help but giggle somewhat. "You're talking about maps again."

Despite the black helmet which covered her face, it didn't take a genius to know that Maryvale was partly embarrassed. Her body language in particular gave it away when she turned her head to the side and cleared her throat. "S-sorry..."
Azymn shook her head. "It's quite alright, dear, just know that we're leaving now."
"Hey, why didn't you-"
Again, Maryvale would find herself cut off as Azymn left the tent, leaving the Dark Knight to pack up the maps for transport. There was no rallying speech to attend for a smaller group such as they, so she had to be quick in making sure she didn't miss anything. After a quick search, she loaded up her material, and mentally prepared for a long ride.



P L A I N O U T S K I R T S
J O S T
K R O N - N E S I S

Dressed in cloth and working metal, the small farming community of Jost lived lives of peace and tradition. Bordering a large lake, this town had been settled along the vast plains of the middle of Kron-Nesis, and was the first stop on their journey. As nightfall began to set in, the company would need a suitable place to stay, if only for the Princess. While she herself had no particular claims to sleeping in town, the people themselves held the royal family as well as the military in high regard, and was almost always the first stop north of the capital. There was no real reason not to stop in town.

Tents were erupting left and right as the group began setting up for the night. Everyone had their orders, and everyone was making sure they could help out in some way or another. However, Azymn and Maryvale had their own tasks to accomplish.
Maryvale was in search of Illyarion to discuss potentially scouting further than the town. She knew he probably already thought of this, however thought it best to ask what he was ordering his spare men to do. If there were bandits nearby, it would be best to deal with them quickly, as she overheard some of the townsfolk mention something along their lines.
Azymn, on the other hand, was in search of Pox. While her skills as a healer were adequate, she was lacking in the healing arts outside of all things magical. Some of the townsfolk of Jost mentioned a kind of sickness going around. She thought it best to see if her doctor could do anything about it, or at least give the poor souls any idea as to what it was.

Dusk was setting in, and like the dragon legend of old, destruction would soon follow...



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Uriel had placed the gold on the counter for the transaction. He had expressly chosen for them to rest in two separate rooms in the Inn, believing their choice to stop here was a foolish one. He doubted that Zakhul would disapprove, as he imagined the old daemon wouldn't hate not having to babysit him. A knot of stress made itself known in his stomach, making him feel nauseous and a little sick in his head. The next couple of seconds that had passed, a stranger spoke to him, placed a hand on his shoulder, and they were whisked away to an unknown location in the wilds before he could think. Dizzy, confused, and very much feeling like he was with plague, the young man covered his mouth and sprinted a couple steps away from the strange man to hurl. Using the support of a nearby tree to lean on, he'd throw up on the ground, what food he had eaten and drink he had now spilled out over the leaves and dirt of the forest. Once he was finished, he'd move a couple steps back toward the scout with a peaceful gait, taking a seat on the ground. He wiped his mouth and remained silent for the next two minutes as his stomach settled. As he took his time to relax and acclimate himself with his surroundings, he finally rested his eyes on Kaleb, paying attention to the unique situation he was in.

"I see he's at the end of his rope." He spoke with a reserved tone, golden eyes darting away from his interrogator as if he were guilty. "I walked in at the wrong time at Everton, right before Zakhul went on his... 'spree'." He brought his knees closer to his chest, not liking the very fresh memories he was sharing with the scout. "Zakhul took a liking to me, and kept me captive. It wasn't like I had much of a choice but to comply, so I worked with him best I was able." The thought of this being a betrayal of some sort to Zakhul did nothing to affect him, considering how deceitful he was with where they were heading, and the reasons why. He hugged his legs closer to his chest, more burdened with what was going to happen after this interrogation then anything else. He looked over the scout, eying up the stranger's choices in weaponry, a frown gracing his features. He stood up for a moment, untying the dark gray cloak from his neck, and set it beside him, allowing the scout to see where he was reaching. "I'm going to disarm." He stated, showing the sheath and the knife that was held in it on the side of his belt. Removing the pair from his toolbelt, he'd throw it a distance away, out of their sight.

"It isn't like that was useful in the slightest, anyway." He mumbled under his breath, taking a seat on the ground again. Uriel looked over at Kaleb, a hopeful smile on his face. "If you're who I think you are, thanks for pulling me out of there. Any questions you have, I'd be willing to answer with full honesty. It's been a long day."

Kaleb looked at the boy as he threw up. Guess he was just a young boy after all. A daemon would not feel it that strongly. He breathed out a sigh of relief. However that made the next question so much more important. Why he was travelling with this daemon. This boy was interesting indeed. Kaleb detected no malice, a bit of self loathing or pity perhaps. But oh the boy was foolish. But it seemed like fortune smiled upon him. The daemon has not killed him, and now, disarmed and even more helpless, Kaleb would not either. His cold and unwavering gaze remained locked on the boy the entire time. He didn't think the boy was a threat, but caution never hurt anyone.

"He is indeed at the end of his ropes. Such a foolish one. If he didn't announce his presence to the world then he would probably live for a couple of years still." Kaleb shook his head. While he wasn't fond of daemons, he didn't hate them. However, any killer had to be put to justice, and daemons had the tendency to kill a lot. "First question then," he said and activated a truth spell, "what are its weaknesses? Strengths? Other properties? Anything special we should know?"

The scholar was not unnerved underneath the scout's gaze, quite the opposite. He had sacrificed his only way of defending himself, true, but the odds were against him to begin with. There was no chance he could subdue Kaleb and run away from him without being tracked down by the squad he was a part of, much less in an environment chosen by him. With no self-defense training, no awareness of where they currently are, it'd be a slaughter. There was no denying it was a precious situation, and Uriel was not blind to who held all the cards. "I wasn't aware of how much humanity they had until I had seen it. With such a callous disregard for lives, I can barely understand his ignorance." He lifted himself from the ground, picking up his cloak and tying it back on, making sure it was secure. The young man kept his eyes focused on the scout as he spoke. "But that goes for a lot of you." He cracked his knuckles in a non-threatening manner, evidently familiar enough of a gesture to relax him. Uriel's eyes caught a quick movement of the stranger's hand and a small crackle of magic as he had begun his interrogation, prompting him to raise a suspicious eyebrow, but nothing more.

Uriel took a clinical and frigid stance describing Zakhul, keeping everything short and to the point. "Extremely fast, with strength to match. I'm not sure if he was hurt or not, but he insisted on resting at this town. Adequate control over illusory magic. There is a high chance he will flee further South, as he believes that Valon is safe. He seems cocky, and gullible, not to mention he had no idea where he was when I met him. That is all I know."

Kaleb smiled faintly under his mask. Yes, daemons could be quite 'humaine' as the boy put it. That was why there was a kingdom of daemons that even hunted down their own kind who went out of line. Most of them just wanted to get by, like any other. But racism and the general fear of them made their lives hard. Then there were daemons like the one they were chasing. A lack of morals. Killed rather than put them out of commission or running. But he guessed that was also the way of the humans. Killing others for their own gain without giving much thought to it. But enough of that.

"Thank you for the information." Kaleb said and pointed towards the boy and chains made out of shadow appeared around him and formed a cage. The cage was sized with enough movement to move a few meters and even a bed, chair, a table and even a smaller box with a toilet inside. "I'm sorry but I can't have you leave. Not yet at least. I already know that you don't have enough power to break through, so don't bother. So be a good boy and stay here until we deal with the threat to the peace." Kaleb disappeared in the next moment.

Uriel opted not to respond before Kaleb phased away, and instead took a seat. His diplomacy in this situation left a lot to be desired, even if he was given a 'room' by the scout. Nobody had seen him for what he truly was, which he was thankful for. He placed his satchel on the table made of black shadow, and pulled out a dark brown journal, setting it in front of him. It took him a couple of moments to get out his ink and raven quill, but he had all the time in the world to spend. Dipping his quill in to the inkpot, he opened his journal, pawing through the various pages he filled prior to his journey until he got to a fresh, blank page. It was usually a satisfying time-sink for him, but this time was different. He held the quill on the first line for minutes, his right hand shaking ever so slightly under the pressure of his thoughts. Black ink stained and spread from the point of contact with the quill.

His hand moved.

I couldn't understand what he was saying to me before. All that advice he gave me just sounded worthless coming from his mouth, after what I had seen hours prior. All these dead people... I still remember the bartender's throat being cut, the men that had died trying to take him down. The blood was incorrigible, seeping in to the wooden floors. I didn't realize what had happened until he was right in front of me, with my dagger to his abdomen, I saw his eyes. I didn't understand how he had such a human nature to him, I had always read in the stories about the Crucible that daemons were soulless creatures that were never meant to be on this plane. Now, I know I was wrong. Or rather, the history being taught to me was forged by the victor, not from an impartial viewpoint. Kids are terrified of these creatures, preaching urban legends about how the 'boogeymen' of the Crucible would come to take your life.

But now, I can't even consider how far this corruption has spread. Or if it has always been there in human nature, and I haven't been able to see in to that darkness yet. I had glimpses of it as soon as I had heard about slaves, been present at the family functions with my parents, heard those foolish nobles laughing about it. One noble turned to the other and said with a cruel smile, 'that he hadn't enjoyed putting someone in their place as much as that disgusting half-elf'. Politics are a parade of lies and fake smiles, and that is something that I learned acutely. My parents don't know of my beliefs, nobody does aside from Sophia. I miss that girl, there was something about her that made me feel like I could trust her, speak to her as if she was a sister. Now, I'm wondering if I continue on, that I'll ever see her again.

I had a dream prior to this journey. It was like a grand tapestry was laid out before me, before being taken in to shadow. My body was imperceptible, although I could feel it. My movements were like silk, smooth and every step taken with purpose. I had been walking for a long time in that abyss, and my stamina was seemingly inexhaustible until I came across a young man. Black hair, golden eyes, and a scarred face. His hand was made of pure aether, glowing with intense blue energies. I didn't realize it until after the dream, but that was me. I looked in to his eyes, and an unholy leviathan stared back. I can't even tell you my own nature, even if I look in a mirror and try with all my willpower to see in to my own soul. I wish I knew who I was, what I was capable of. I can't in good conscience take a life knowing what I do, and if that scout did, he wouldn't be able to live with himself. Better he ply his self-deception.


He dipped his quill in the inkpot, before continuing to inscribe his thoughts in the page.

Everyone around me is so ignorant to the causality of what taking a life means. I've read of nations, wars, holy crusades, and serial killers in the books I've read. I had many tutors that were willing to humor me and grant me access to these texts. Warriors fight knowing their actions are just, killers are shaped by their birth and past, and heroes are symbols, not the men and women you see in Telduria. I had read stories of good versus evil when I was little, I was shaped by them. As time went on, I saw how stupid those stories were. The knight does not walk across a lake of moonlight to go to the tower and save the princess, no. He strides across that lake on the backs of the dead he slain on the path leading to the lake, and thus, is no hero like the meaning the story parrots. At the end of the story, he gets the love of a princess, the presumed surrogate for happy ending he seeks. However, he is haunted by the path he had taken across the lake, he glimpses what he had taken away from those people he killed, ruminating in his old age. The simple pleasures in his life that he had come to be bored by, the comforting crack of an egg on the edge of a pan, the wafting smell lingering throughout his home, the scent of fresh bread. The smile of his comely woman. Died with heavy shoulders.

Nobody is just in the act of killing a man. At the gates to Paradise, will I be able to say that I was ordered by another person to do thus? Will that justify my actions, protect me as the shield would in my hypothetical previous life? I cannot. This society is making more murderers by the day. I know the story of the common man kissing his wife and saying goodbye, maybe for the last time, all too well. I'm comfortable with them thinking I'm a boy, after all, I appear to be. They can never see within, only without. If the daemon survives this encounter with his pursuers, he may come after me. I should welcome it, for this journey was never without peril, was it? I can't help but think back to my visit to the Inn at Everton. For all the wisdom I write here, I'm afraid of following through. My hands shook like they never had before, I felt true fear. Now that I'm out of his reach, I feel liberated.

I don't know what would have happened if my ability didn't trigger when it did. I might have gotten killed after I stabbed Zakhul, if I opted to follow through. The scary thing is, when you're fighting another human being, it's never as clear-cut as some stories make it. If you are fighting to save countless lives, taking a life to save the people you love may be worth the risk. Maybe I sound too selfish with this reserved viewpoint, not subscribing to one ideology or the next, but I know that there is always so much more to everything that meets the eye. I hadn't really lied prior to being under Zakhul's captivity, but I knew how to deceive that concerned man perfectly well. It's concerning to me. On the note of concern, I'd rather nobody suspect me of anything and allow me to keep moving towards Ithell, but with what was left of my coin given to Zakhul, I doubt I'll see a single gold piece of it back. I had already spent too much on the room and supplies coming back from Everton, the most mileage I was going to get out of my coin prior to all this happening was a one-way trip to Ithell.

I'm not willing to go back home, it is too late for that. Now, my only choice is to figure out what that man is going to do with me. If he lets me go, I can't see myself making it very far to Ithell without proper training, goodness knows that this is bound to get worse. I'll need to ask him for help on that front, while I have the chance. He'll take pity on a brat like me, I hope.


Uriel closed his journal, popped the cork back in his inkpot, and cleaned up his quill before placing them all back in his satchel. He glanced over at the bed, his eyelids becoming heavy as he stared at it. It had been a day filled with terror, blood, and ignorance, which affirmed his beliefs. Lazily lifting the straps of the bag with a hand, he'd drag it along the floor as he walked over to the bed and fell on it, falling in to a deep sleep in a matter of seconds. The bag rested on its side on the dirt. In his sleep, he would whisper a name.

"Cara..."
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Gia nodded and went to get the clothes. "Don't use her too much now. She has value as a hostage. As such her mind needs to be intact if she is to be returned one day," she said as her parting words before hopping out of the carriage and grabbed her things before moving back in after her dearest sister had moved away. She watched the slowly moving back of her sister before stripping down. By the gods that girl had been good after some coaxing and training. A shudder went through her body as she thought about it with a sinister smile. Gia wondered how her dearest sister would use the girl, now that Gia did no longer do such things with her.

"No matter though," she said and changed as she heard the faint cries of the girl. "Put to use indeed," she said and chuckled. Perhaps her sister had a darker side to her in acts of pleasure than what Gia had seen before. She laughed to herself as she once again hopped out of the carriage and waited her sister to return. However when she did Gia frowned. Mercie was alone, and there was blood.

She let out a pained groan. "Mercie....that girl...such a waste. Who will now tend to my needs?" she said and winked while smirking. "But from your breathing I guess you found out before the end." she shrugged her shoulders and hopped up next to Mercie and leaned against her softly. If she was to take away her toy, Gia was going to tease and torment Mercie for days to come. Her musings were interrupted though as something inside of her tingled.

"Daemon..." in a whisper escaped her lips. She bit her lips. It was way too close to where they needed to go. They had to risk either running into it or strike earlier. "Sister....that thing is close to our target location....proceed as planned or should we think of a new plan?"
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