Hidden 7 mos ago 5 mos ago Post by Denny
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Whispers brought many people to the edges of the Desert of Death, all searching for answers to their burning questions. Most are seeking a truth they believe to be hidden beyond the ocean of sand in the safe haven known as Hatari, a Utopian paradise that was once known as a fable. These days travelers seek out as much information as possible to make the pilgrimage to the dreamland, which is supposedly full of wonders and peace.

Bandits and highwaymen use the dreams of others to find their own riches as people are often bringing their whole lives with them for a chance at paradise. There have been many attempts, many lives lost in the sand as the Desert of Death holds no favors. The whispers speak of one caravan that has made a successful pilgrimage and has yet again returned to the small outpost that hides away at the feet of the mountains, where the rocks meet the sands, beyond the lands of Daein and Begnion.

The small outpost is only known as Palmyre and to find the outpost means you deserve a chance to join the pilgrimage across the Desert of Death, lead by a man known simply as Cyprus. He offers a way to Hatari with protection from the dangers of beorc and laguz alike, but does not promise survival for those who are too weak to handle the trials set by the sands.

It is said that there is only one day left before Cyprus and his grand caravan known as the Desert Hare set off on their journey. Hundreds have flocked to find the location of Palmyre as the story of one of the first successful pilgrimages spread like wildfire. Still, with the location of Palmyre not on any known map, only those lucky enough to find the outpost are allowed to travel with the man who walks the sands.
Cyprus stood silently as he watched the sunrise. Peacefulness was on his mind as the rays of the sun began touching the edges of the tents that were dispersed before the small outpost known as Palmyre. To some he was a savior, to others he was known as a monster, but to know him and to have his support in this moment would mean the world to most.

Cyprus was much more than just a shepherd, he was also a bridge for his Queen to the mainland, bringing her news of what was happening on the continent of Tellius. He was not alone on this pilgrimage though, the man had followers, protectors of the dangers of the wild.

"My lord," a low voice bellowed. "The last day is here, final preparations have began for our travels tomorrow."

Cyprus paused for a moment staring blankly at the large, olive-skinned Laguz, finally giving off a faint smile. "Thank you, Yusef," he said.

He returned to the sunrise, slowly breathing and feeling the warm breeze whisper news of what was to come.
Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Lord of Evil
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The campsite was busy, as expected. Even this early there were a good many things to do to prepare for the journey ahead. Garret had done most of his preparations so he sat by his tent, sharpening his knife. It had been a few days since he'd arrived and even then there had been a good many people, more so than he imagined. There were even more now, which Garret found hard to believe. He'd been chasing after leads for quite some time and he'd never seen a crowd like this. Granted, most of the previous "guides" he'd had the pleasure of meeting had been fakes, and he made his grievances known to them in due time. Still, the crowd indicated that Desert Hare had something, and Garret couldn't let the opportunity slip by.

He didn't really believe that Hatari existed, but that didn't matter so much to him. Garret had chased after most rumors concerning Hatari in the hopes that he'd find his targets who were no doubt also looking for Hatari, but if the Desert Hare caravan could really lead them to Hatari then he'd change tracks. If the city did exist, and the convoy actually led them there, he could use their route to draw in his targets. And if they didn't get there, then he'd go back to his original plans. With that being said, getting there could be tricky.

Garret scanned the horizon, watching as the sun slowly crept higher. They were close to the desert of death, and while Garret had generally only skirted around it, he knew it wasn't a good place to be in. He wouldn't go if he had a choice, but the fact that the caravan were willing to brave the desert lended credibility to their claims. Scammers taking advantage of people's desires to find Hatari were certainly morally bankrupt, but they weren't stupid - they tended to stick to the outskirts of the desert before trying to rob him. It took a special someone to go directly into the desert, either someone who knew what they were doing or otherwise didn't have any attachments to their life. In other words, this was Garret's best chance at finding Hatari, which would be very beneficial for his goal.

Garret frowned and slipped his knife back into its sheath on his belt. Best not to think about that now. He rose from his seat and began walking around. They would go soon, so Garret would take the time to look around some more. This was a part of his preparation, to see what resources he could exploit and prepare an exit strategy should he need it. It was true that this trip had a higher chance of being legitimate, but if it wasn't he couldn't afford to be caught out. Not before he finished his goal. This was possibly another step forward but he couldn't afford to risk everything on it. Even so, it was a step forward, and Garret was determined to make it work for him.
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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Eisenhorn
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Even this early in the morning, the warm airs rising above the busy camp as one could pick out the flying form of some sort of beast, if one had sharp eyes. Such warm airs were surprisingly comfortable to fly in, certainly a pleasant change from what one might expect from maneuvering about mountain ranges, far as the flyer happened to be from such places. Weiland Voss had been making his way out towards this rumored camp, having paid good coin on leads and rumors that had finally pointed him in the right direction of this Palmyre. He knew that Altena had been wary of this path to begin with, the Desert of Death was known on an instinctive level as someplace both foreign and hostile to both of them. Yet his hunters had forced his hand, and it was a small boon that the camp was at the base of mountains, so he led the pair of them, Wyvern and Branded, in the direction of this camp.

As Weiland's eyes scanned the camp as he approached, and guided Altena in lowering and slowing so they could land and approach on foot, as to avoid causing a stir of having a wyvern and scarred man landing in the center of camp, he considered what little he had been able to learn outside of a proper direction. Some man named Cyprus was leading this group, though some had been quick to deride this man as a monster in man's guise, and that this caravan had made the trip at least once before. Of course, it had taken a great deal more coin, and arm twisting, to get a direction, but as the wyvern's claws made contact with the soft ground and jarred him out of his thoughts, he turned his thoughts to the now. He had seen a man observing the sunrise and, likely, spotted his approach, so he made no attempt in dallying or wasting time, and with an affectionate pat on the side of Altena, the two began walking the remaining short distance to where Weiland had seen the man observing the sunrise.

Finally Weiland laid eyes on the figure of a man he had seen during his descending approach, and could get a bit more detail. An elderly looking fellow, though age meant little in one's capabilities these days, as he certainly could likely handle himself if this was indeed Palmyre. He would come to a halt a respectful distance away, a hand coming to rest on the neck of Altena to inform her to halt as well, a subtle hint at the unspoken bond that no words need be spoken to understand intent between the two. Rather than stand about and wait to be addressed, the wyvern rider spoke up, only loud enough to be heard plainly without needless shouting. "Hail there, have I had the fortune to finally track down Palmyre?"

Besides greeting, Weiland was straight to the point and minced no words about his question towards the fellow. The rider himself stood steady, his attire not unusual for a sellsword that had operated across several of the sovereign nations of the land. Though what likely stood out was the oversized eyepatch, covering up some of the damage that had occurred around the socket that had once held an eye beneath the patch, and his stance, while steady, remained wary all the same for the moment. He had not, after all, confirmed he had reached his destination yet and should this not be the case, he would have to fly hard to check the other places he could think of that had matched the descriptions he had managed to gather. All of this before the days end, as it was rumored that they were about to depart the following day, and attempting to brave the Desert alone would be a slow death indeed. One he would certainly not wish upon Altena, given her rough life so far as well.
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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Denny
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Noel had begun to pack up some of his belongings, the little knick knacks that he had gotten along the way to Palmyre. Most of the settlers who arrived were given a free tent and some blankets, most had brought their own along with large wagons of their own in addition to the few that the Desert Hare had with them. Noel knew better than to bring everything with his, his life was a simple one, he didn't need much as he had already lost everything before. The knight wasn't willing to lose it all again, so he figured it was best to not hold all his cards in one hand.

The sun's warmth graced his skin as he took a deep breath, eyes grazing across the fields of tents filled with many people all wanting the paradise known as Hatari. Noel had the same dream as the rest of them, to live in peace, to have a life where they weren't constantly running and hiding, looking over their shoulders just in case there was a dagger there to pierce them.

Snapping back into reality, Noel called out to his daughter, "Éowyn?"

"You have," Cyprus said as he was soon greeted by a man and his wyvern. He quickly raised his hand in a warming gesture, both towards the wyvern rider and to command Yusef to stand down as without even having to look he knew what raced on in the laguz's mind. "If refuge is what you seek here in Palmyre then we will grant it, otherwise we must ask you to leave."

Cyprus was old but he was a talented user of light magic, knowing full well the extent of his powers, he stood confidently that if need be he would strike down any man or beast who wanted to harm those within his caravan. "I am Cyprus, I lead the Desert Hare. Might I ask for your name and the name of your beautiful wyvern?"

Éowyn had been wandering the camp, slipping away from the sight of her father as he was busy in a little world of his own. She was a bright six year old girl with a curiosity that expanded many horizons. Her youthfulness and bright innocence carried her strongly as did the brand that marked the nape of her neck.

The girl skipped along with a bag full of honey-covered candies, flashing her charming smile as she waved to the others who had come to Palmyre. There were other kids all running and playing around the camp, but Éowyn was told not to mingle with them per orders from her father. Tossing another sweetened candy into her mouth she stopped in her tracks as a feeling in her gut made her freeze.

The feeling wasn't a painful one, the feeling felt more like the warmth of a fire on a cold night, where the heat dances across your skin, etching every inch of you with warmth. That sensation caused the girl to stop and stare, blankly at the man who stood before her. He was a stranger, she knew that was for certain, but there was something about him that had a familiar aura.

"You shouldn't be wandering alone." The man said. "Even this camp has wolves in sheeps clothing, young one."

Éowyn stood there silently, taking the advice of the man to heart. She felt his words etch into her brain as she figured he knew what he was talking about. There seemed to be no ill-will in his advice, but she nodded, turning right back around the way she came as she began sprinting towards their tent.

Not paying any attention to where she was going, Éowyn didn't notice when she bumped into a caped man, knocking her to her feet, dropping her bag of candies along the way. "Ooph, s-sorry!" She muttered as she picked herself off the ground, dusting the dirt from her dress. She looked up at the man, bright-eyed and innocent, then down to her candies that had fallen out of her bag, sniffling beginning and tears forming.
Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Count Cuddles
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The fire before Cam flickered to and fro as the fatty pork's belly in the pan she held above it popped and boiled, sending bits of hot grease arching into the air, the small sting of it on her skin no longer bothered her, it was something you go use to. Her eyes stared unfocused at the meal she was preparing, while her true focus was upon the peripheries of her vision. Where danger was most likely to hide.

She didn't trust the people here at Palmyre, mainly because she found it a wise policy to not trust people in general. But those hear were desperate, foolish or crazy enough to search after some lost legend of peace and paradise, a right load if you asked her. But here she was as well, working of course, the Old Man Nocello paid well, and had been fair and kind thus far. She would label him under 'Foolish', abandoning the safety and security of his tower and studies to what? Adventure the world at his age? No she was sure he was simply guilty of never doing more to help others, or scared his life would end without seeing more of the world. He wasn't so benevolent.

The sound of the canvas tent being moved aside alerted her to his approach, the tiger ears atop her head perking up for a moment at the stimulus before relaxing again. He took fair and measure steps for someone his age, though he was always slow to wake in the morning, Old man had a habit of staying up late, probably picked up from watching the stars all his life.

As he sat upon a pillow beside where she crouched he sighed rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

"I swear, there's no reason for the young to be up so early, you lot are always bustling about far to much for my taste." his hands moved from his eyes, fingers trailing down his face to grasp and comb through his beard. "I suppose that it's excusable today, best to get moving through the desert before the sun reaches its apex."

The Fallen woman could only muster a grunt in response, at least for now. She hadn't been sleeping well either, not because of the activity in camp, but because they had arrived earlier and stayed in the presence of others to long for her own liking. And the old man preferred to stay in towns rather than the out doors. Cam truly wished she never lived so long that she could not live out under the sky and among the wilds.
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Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Lord of Evil
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Garret walked around the campsite as if he didn't have a care in the world, but he was keeping a keen eye out for people of interest. It was difficult, not because the people were hiding something, but because there was quite a variety. Beorc, branded, and many more Laguz than he'd ever seen in one place, perhaps more than he'd ever seen in his lifetime. In the end though, that just made his job harder. He didn't know what to look for, what was a threat and what wasn't. Garret would do all he could but it seemed like he should be extra cautious.

Suddenly Garret heard something of a ruckus and turned to look at what had caused it. A man with a wyvern had appeared and was talking to the leader of the caravan. He couldn't help but frown and furrow his brow as he moved his hands toward his dagger as he watched. For Garret, wyvern riders were generally enemies. It wasn't as if there weren't wyvern riders outside of Daein but there was no nation with as many, so he couldn't help but be on edge whenever he saw one. Even so, it wasn't as if there was anything he could do from here, and it looked more or less like the caravan was on top of things. If the wyvern rider wasn't immediately attacked by the caravan guards then Garret would have to keep a close eye on them, but until then he had nothing to with the situation. With that in mind he promptly turned on his heel to go on his way, before being bumped very suddenly by something at around waist height.

He looked down and saw what appeared to be a child, uttering an apology before looking downwards. He followed her gaze and saw what appeared to be coloured balls of some sort. He bent down and scooped one up for inspection, blowing the dirt off the sticky orb to reveal...
"...Candy?" He muttered out loud.
Indeed, it wasn't something he saw often but it was unmistakably candy, a solidified sugar ball flavoured with honey. He had never had it in his childhood and he had never bought it himself because he'd been too old for it at that point. Well, actually, he had tried it once but it was too sweet for his liking. Children went crazy over it though, so evidently the being in front of him was indeed a child. Obviously, but he didn't know what to expect, nor what to do with the one in front of him, currently lamenting the loss of her sugary treats. He scratched his head for his moment but he was losing his patience. He had never liked children that much, and he wasn't used to dealing with them. Garret would have to get out of this situation quickly before he messed up. And he'd do it like he always did it, with condescending words and a warning.

"Oy, if you're really sorry 'bout bumping me then keep your head up." Garret grumbled, flicking the piece of candy he held to lightly tap the child on her forehead head.
He rose up and dusted himself off before giving girl another glance. He couldn't help but give an annoyed grunt at the tears streaming down the voice and opened his mouth once again to admonish the child.
"What're you crying for? Just give it a wash and the dirt comes right off. Nothing worth sobbing over." He said churlishly.
With that he whipped his cape around and began walking off into another direction, leaving nothing but a muttered "kids these days", just loud enough for the girl to hear.

As he walked away he tightened his grip on the sticky, round object he held in his hand before putting it in one of his clean pockets. He briefly wondered why he went to the trouble of taking one of the candies from under her nose, but he chalked it up to habit. It probably wouldn't help but it probably wouldn't hurt either. Besides, if the child noticed then she would get a small taste of reality, which would surely count as a service in the long run.
"Welcome to the real world, kid." He muttered as he walked away.
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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Eisenhorn
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"That is some small miracle then, given the trek to track this place down..." The remark was not made in hostile tone, rather, seemed more relieved than anything else. The gesture being dual intended was not lost on the Branded rider, as he noted that it wasn't just this elderly fellow and that another had been present as well already, and the gesture kept things at peace. The man's remark on seeking refuge being a welcome thing, otherwise he would have to depart. Refuge, he turned his gaze to the camp in question for a few moments before answering the unspoken question in whether he sought refuge or not. "Aye, I would not have come this far out of my usual way if I was not here for refuge."

The elderly man introduced himself as Cyprus, leader of the Desert Hare, and inquired after the names of both himself and his 'beautiful wyvern'. After a moment, Altena seemed to huff briefly and almost shake her head, which elicited a chuckle out of Weiland as he rested a hand back on her neck and patted a few times. "She's not much one for flattery, if it wasn't too obvious. I would be Weiland, and she is Altena. A pleasure to make your acquaintance." Weiland left his arms sitting idly by his sides, well, the one that wasn't preoccupied resting on the neck of Altena, while he stood at, while not at ease, more relaxed than he had been for quite some time now. Even if he would likely be on the road again before much longer, if the rumor of the departure occurring soon would be proven true.
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Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Denny
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Noel paced throughout the camp, briskly walking at a very fast pace, not wanting to raise any alarms. The knight was sure that his daughter was around the bend as she was still small and probably wouldn't and couldn't have gotten too far. It wasn't until he heard a very familiar sniffle that his heart perked, but it was quickly disheartened as he noticed tears in his daughter's eyes. "Éowyn, what's wrong?"

The young girl looked up at her dad, wiping the tears from her cheek. "No-nothing!" She hesitated, remembering the words of the man she had bumped into. With a deep breath, she cheered herself up, taking in his advice of not crying over soiled candies. "I... I'm sorry for walking away."

"I just need to know where you are." Noel said as he knelt beside his daughter. "I can't have you wandering off, especially here. We need to stick together, alright?"

"Until we find momma, right?"

"...Right." The young knight said hesitantly. A deep sigh came afterwards as he hugged his daughter with a tight warmth. "I just need you to stay by me, okay?"

"Yes, sir." Éowyn replied, hugging her father back with love. "Can we get more candy? I dropped some and I want to share some with my friend!"

"We can get you some more," Noel said as he picked the girl up. Carrying her, he began brushing some dirt off of her clothes, chuckling at the fact that she probably was running around and rolling in the mud, something that Alyse probably would have scolded her on.

"It is good to hear that you are here as a friend rather than a foe." Cyprus said easing his spirit. "And Altena is a beautiful name, matching her perfectly." Taking into account her personality as Weiland pointed out the old man huffed and puffed a bit of laughter. He still had a sense of humor to him, even if it was sometimes sarcastic.

He turned to Yusef with a nod, giving him orders without saying much of a word. "My friend Yusef here will show you were you and Altena can camp for the night as we are heading off this next sunrise."

There was a low grunt of dissatisfaction from Yusef who took a step forward, respectfully bowing towards the wyvern rider. "If you'd like to follow me." The laguz waited for a few seconds before turning back, strutting towards the direction of the main camp. The view of the main camp was still there, but he stopped in his tracks near the edge of the camp, turning to Weiland with some rules.

"If you could keep your friend outside of the main camp that would be very kind. Wyverns are of course welcomed, but they tend to cause a fuss with some folks. Reminds them of Daein, not that they smell or anything either." The last comment was a bit of a joke, reflecting that the laguz had a horrible sense of sarcastic humor like the old man who lead the caravan. "Do you have your own tent and equipment to set up here? We have a few tents left that I can have someone bring over otherwise."
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Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Count Cuddles
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Nocello looked up from the fire, watching the exchange between Noel and Eowyn. His hearing wasn't what it use to be but he picked up on a few things simply from watching, the girl was obviously distressed, though the man was not a stranger. But he caught something about candies and he was sure he could work out the rest.

"Dear Yasha," the old astrologer started. "We have another pan yes? Still have sugar and cream?"

His companion only responded with an absent minded shrug followed by, "If we don't it means someone stole from us, and I'm going to skin someone. Why?"

"Candy." was the simple response as he stood, bracing one arm against a knee and pushing with the other against the ground for support.

"C-candy what..." the Fallen woman shook her head dismissing it, everything here belonged to him pretty much so it didn't matter to her.

Nocello walked at a measured pace towards the Father and Daughter, giving a respectful bow as he arrived. "Greetings, I'm sorry, I did not mean to eavesdrop. I can hardly listen sometimes when I'm trying. But I do believe I know just a spot of the right 'magic' to fix this little problem."
Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Eisenhorn
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Altena huffed again, though she seemed more amused than before, and Weiland patted her again before letting his arm drop back to his side. Once he was given and indicated to the fact that Yusef would show both of them where they would be going to be staying for the night. Altena moved with surprising grave behind of Weiland as the two started following after the Laguz. "By all means, lead the way. We will be right behind you." He wasn't going to simply leave the laguz without a response, considering he would likely be traveling with them for the forseeable future, there was no reason to be hostile or at least unpleasant towards the others present right now. He was asked about keeping Altena outside the camp whenever possible, and he frowned briefly despite the fair reasoning, though the question on his supplies brought his mind back.

"She's no friend of Daein, though the concerns are understandable all the same. We have our own camping supplies, in terms of tents and the like. We had to travel a fair ways to get out to here, so it would of been remiss of us to not have our own camping supplies." Weiland spoke honestly, glancing back at Altena who had been carrying the tent and other miscellaneous supplies before continuing to comment. "If it is preferred for Altena to remain outside the main camp, I will be camping by her as well. It will also save space in the main camp." Weiland continued strolling after the laguz who was leading the way, still speaking in mainly business for now. There would be time to finally relax after things were settled for the evening.
Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Denny
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Day soon turned into night as the camp filled by a quarter of the size. News had spread like wild-fire that they were about to head off into the desert and more people found their way to the pilgrimage led by Cyprus. They were going to be gone early in the morning, not waiting any longer as they had a long journey before them.

The camp was lively, people cheerfully enjoying their last night before the sea of sand was all they were going to have for some time. It was all going to be worth it in the end for everyone though as Hatari was the final destination.

Noel and Éowyn had taken refuge with an older man and a laguz woman, with the man seeming friendly enough to even offer them some sweets. Of course, the young father was cautious, but it was a good thing finding some friends among the crowd as the more eyes he had to help with Éowyn the better he felt.

"Thanks again for the candies," Noel said as he playfully tugged at his daughter. "She was causing a bit of a fuss that she dropped some this morning."
"The caravans are ready for the morning," Yusef said as he returned to the senior leader of the pilgrimage. "I'm having Saleh do one final scout, but the roads are clear thus far."

Cyprus deeply exhaled, taking in the clean, cold, crisp air. His eyes were closed as he focused on his breathing, attempting to relax after every breath. "The wind is quiet tonight."

"Clear air means no trouble," Yusef said with a smirk. "It means as long as we listen we'll hear danger."

"If it was that simple, my friend." Cyprus nodded. "It means we must listen to the sands if the wind doesn't want to speak up."

"The sands can't always be trusted."

"Neither can the wind as someone is always whispering in its' ear."
At the edge of camp stood a hooded man, one that was familiar with the camp, who whispered to the wind. "The wolves among us will devour the weak, but bring no harm to the young ones."
Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Lord of Evil
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Garret stopped at the edge of the camp and scanned the horizon. His eyes looked over the rolling sand hills and found nothing out of the ordinary, which made him wary. He had more or less completed his sweep, and found little to be suspicious of. Of course, for a man like him, that made things even more suspicious. There were people he hadn't so much as glimpsed, and there was the matter of the wyvern rider. He couldn't smell blood so they had evidently either accepted him or chased him off. If the latter was true then he had nothing to worry about, but if the former were true, he'd have to be more careful. And from the chatter he heard going from place to place, it seemed that it was the former.

As with every trip headed to the illusive desert city he'd been a part of, what he was worried the most about - or perhaps he looked forward to it - was the possibility of Daein spies hidden amongst the travellers. The wyvern rider had rung a few alarm bells for Garret because of their heavy presence in the empire's airborne forces, but he was sure that a Daein agent going undercover to find the illusive city would not so obviously put such a target on their back. Even so, there were a few possibilities. If the wyvern rider was an agent then there would definitely be more, as they would likely use such a distinct figure to draw attention away from themselves. If the wyvern rider was not an agent then the actual agents could still use that distinct figure as a distraction. After all, there were probably a good many branded and Laguz traumatized by the empire's wyvern riders, and seeing a wyvern, even if it didn't belong to the empire, close to their camp, would not give them much peace of mind. Worst came to worst they could accuse the wyvern rider of being an imperial agent and things would only get more complicated from there.

Garret sighed and muttered darkly under his breath.
"Where's a goddamn drink when you need one?"
It was shaping up to be a bothersome trip and he could use motivation, even though he knew he should be in his right mind for the journey ahead. There were certainly a lot of things that could happen but without solid evidence he could only wait and see what could happen. It was entirely possible that the journey would be a peaceful one but he doubted it. If there was one thing he understood about Daein imperials, it was their stubbornness to uphold their mission at all costs, a stubbornness Garret often saw in himself. So he would do as he always did, move furtively and quietly, drawing as little attention to himself as possible while keeping an ear out for trouble.

Garret turned away from the horizon and began walking back to his tent. This trip had the distinct possibility of having an answer to his revenge, and he wasn't planning to blow it now.
Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Count Cuddles
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@Denny

Nocello returned the man's appreciation with a tired smile. "Ah, it was quite a pleasure. I'm no confectioner, but a little bit of sugar and cream can whip up a simple sweet in a jiff. Besides I have never had much of a sweet tooth so I'm unlikely to use this sugar for myself." he looked at the young girl, now tired from the long day and his thoughts drifted for a moment as he turned his gaze to the stars that were beginning to show in the dieing light of day.

"A blessing is it not though? When a child's worries are so scarce that a few candies can bring tears? Signs of peaceful times I would think. I have seen many a years, and many generations of children, those that cry when a candy is lost, those that would only dream of having one in their life. Why, in my younger years I knew of people who didn't know what chocolate was, so much a delicacy that the poor had no inkling of what it was." he reached up and ran his fingers through his beard silent again before shaking his head and looking at the young father.

"It was a pleasure, and I apologize for rambling like that, I find the older I get the more the words just fall from my lips."

Cam only sat silently. After all she was not pleased by the presence of the two humans. She had barely spoken a word throughout the day, and that was mostly to answer questions or request from Nocello, her employer. She could only internally thank whatever god may exist they were finally leaving, and all because the old man couldn't bare to see a girl cry out a few candies? Ridiculous. He wasted good sugar and cream, even if he wouldn't use the sugar it would be a commodity worth a hefty sum once they set off into the desert. And true the cream wouldn't keep long it was wasted on something like candies.

She perked up for a moment, a smell on the wind... strangers... of course there were strangers new people seemed to join this caravan every day, she eased again, leaning back and staring into the fire, one of her knifes cutting away at a knot of wood she had cut from one of the logs. Something to keep her hands busy.
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Silence filled the air as the winds blew through the campground of Palmyre. You could feel the zephyrs intertwine with the tension in the air as a howl pierced through the night sky, causing the stillness of the black blanket that encompassed the grounds to inch closer and closer to the pilgrims who longed for the journey to paradise.

"Yusef," Cyprus said as their eyes met instantly after the howl ended. "Go, now."

The large, stocky laguz instantly lunged into action, darting off to the darkness as his body began glowing brightly. A roar escaped his lips, followed by a howl, deeper and grimmer than the one that first was howled.

"Follow the light as we will guide you to safety," Cyprus began chanting. "Follow the light as it will be our savior. Follow the light. Shine, shine on." Raising his hand into the air, a bright, golden orb shot straight into the sky, exploding and sending a wave of light across the black sky. The spell was a signal, a warning to those who were attacking the camp and for those within the camp to run to the caravans.

The bishop's spell lit up the surrounding area, revealing peerless eyes that surrounded the camp, all belonging to both beorc and laguz who thirsted for blood.

"Go."
Battle cries and howls filled the air as the ground began shaking from the heavy stamped that charged after the wave of light lit up the sky, with shrills and screeches followed, catching the young father who was enjoying himself around the campfire off guard.

"Daddy!" Éowyn said as she ran towards her father, feeling a grim, sharp pain in her gut.

Instinctively, Noel looked to his new-found friends and simply said, "run." Thinking as quickly as he could, Noel swept his daughter off her feet, heading towards his tent further in the camp grounds of Palmyre. He needed a weapon, he needed his lance, that was the only way he knew that he could help protect his daughter.

The scent of blood soon followed suit after more screams filled the air, with Noel carrying Éowyn and sprinting as fast as he could. He weaved through the crowds of panicked people, as the howls began inching closer. His tent was no more than two feet away when his spirits dampened at the sight of a bloodied wolf before him appeared.

It growled lowly, flashing it's sharp teeth that were stained red.


Hidden 5 mos ago Post by Lord of Evil
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Lord of Evil Body of a man, heart of a Chupacabra

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"Oh come on now..." Garret grumbled to himself.
He watched from his hiding place as chaos spread through the camp. This would almost certainly spelled trouble for the expedition. He could respect their timing - when dawn broke and the caravan was ready to move out. A large caravan was more alert for nightly threats since that was their most vulnerable point. A few days in and ready to go, most people would let their guard down. Still, it was a little strange. He couldn't imagine that the caravan would have much in the way of valuables, so he didn't really understand why they were attacking this camp in particular. Harried refugees were an easy mark, certainly, but surely there were easier targets. Nevertheless, while such reasoning may be beyond society's dregs, experience taught him that they wouldn't attack the camp if they didn't think they could take it. And that meant that they at least had enough fighting men to match the caravan guards and then some, which would most definitely be troublesome to deal with.

Soon enough, he could hear hurried beast-like footsteps as a laguz came running towards his hiding place. Garret silently unsheathed his knife, ready to fight. The wolf laguz kept running, past his hiding spot, and Garret peeked out to see what had drawn the bandit's attention. It looked as if they had cornered some poor sad sack behind some tents, sword at the ready to do who knew what. Almost without thinking Garret took aim, drew his arm back and threw his blade. The wolf laguz fell forward, Garret's dagger jutting out from the nape of his neck.
"Have some standards, why don't you?" He mutters to the dead laguz.
Ignoring the erstwhile victim's words of gratitude Garret crouched down and took his knife. He flipped the body to face upwards and examined it, looking for some markings indicating his alignment. He knew most of the major bandit groups operating in the area but for the ones that could complete an operation of this size he wasn't entirely sure. He knew even less about laguz banditry as they were especially hostile to Beorc like him. Not that he could blame them. At any rate, he couldn't pin down the laguz's identity nor their organisation so he decided to leave them be. But they were definitely laguz, so he'd have to make the proper preparations.

Garret looked up and saw that the victim had run away. A good thing, because what he was about to do could be somewhat embarrassing. Garret dropped to the ground and rolled in the dirt for a bit, before getting up and brushing the dirt out of his eyes. He knew wolves had a keen sense of smell and he was pretty sure wolf Laguz were similar. The smell of dirt would hopefully mask his scent to some degree, which would be conducive to his game plan. Crouching low, Garret began creeping around the tents. There were bound to be a fair few bandits, probably a significant number than there were guards, so it was his time to shine. This was a good chance to have the caravan owe him something and he wasn't going to let that slide.

Garret moved like a ghost, ignoring fights that went well and lending a helping blade to losing ones, all the while looking for the bandit leader. It was likely that things would get worse for the expedition as things went on so he needed to end this fast. If he didn't then it would be more difficult for the group to survive the trip.
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Hidden 5 mos ago Post by Karkinos
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Karkinos enfant terrible

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𝕱𝖑𝖆𝖗𝖊𝖘. Až-breath and aspen branches.

An evening lit in celebration. Smell of incense and cooked fowl.

It is a fearsome crowd of politicians and pedestrians alike. And everyone, even those embittered rivals, are calling her name--

“Afra, get up...! Oh-hh Heaven-above-I-request-a-divine-light, a-divine-light..."

“Afra! Afra! You said you'd do something! Please!”

“Why the hell— Some ‘protector,’ this one. Get up, Afra! Afra! Damn-ation!”


She rolls onto her back, stretching wide and felid as a murmur escapes in a half-conscious delirium: “About damn time I'm recognized.”

Before them — the priestesses and the little shaman girl, huddled around the Goldoan ambassador who has finessed half the floor space of their wagon — sheet tore; the head of a tawny beast glares against the night sky.

There is what would be a domino effect from youngest to eldest: Pie screaming bloody murder out of habit; Maiden Cecily clutching her habit and spewing prayer; Sister Way spewing swears. Afra swears, “I said I’d keep my word,” bounds off (shifts) hind legs, plants her weight (shifts a tail), balances — the big cat, struggling against the cloth, takes a backhand to their snout, that (shifted) oversized arm like a whip.

The bandit cartwheels, caterwauling, backwards through the gash they made.

Afra rips it further in pursuit.

Zephyrs run with her. The air in Palmyre is dry but not cold. The thrill of the chase is like an ember in her chest and it is the perfect night for a fight — when the chance is a literal ambush, when you are half-asleep and intoxicated on silly dreams, when the ‘arena’ is but a ring of wagons and dirt — SMASH! The cat upturns a water barrel and Afra splashes through its splintered pieces — when the world fades into sensations: colors, feelings, sounds. The moment you disorient your enemy, the moment you win.

The thrill of the hunt, it has a venomous likeness to the instinct which wills her kind to transform. Afra is trained, however, and knows the difference between craving and choice. So she takes a hard right, letting the fearful bandit bound into hiding.

For the first time that evening, Afra stands on her two legs. No scales and no claws, she claps dust from her hands before fussing over some simulacrum of professionalism in her kirtle — explains the night chills. Finally, in the intersecting shadows of the residence wagons, there is time for breath against the muffled backdrop of battle-cry. When Afra exhales, her nose teems with smells of cat and wolf; of blood and death.

An unacquainted Beroc mage, gnarled like a ringed tree, bronze-skinned and bearded and ultimately beaten. His teeth gritted; his final articulation like a “hss.” He rests on his knees. In his final moment, his hands have fallen unclasped and palms first onto the ground in prostration, an abject acceptance, perhaps a forgiveness. Perhaps Afra is projecting. Corpses look different on your side. This one, at least, makes her feel vulnerable; he isn’t that old for as antiquated as tomal know-all tended to be. There is a lot of blood under him. When she nudges the body supine, Afra beholds a stomach wound, gaping and festering, shredded by fangs.

The killer is close. She keeps low and rounds the corner, her body flat against the wagon closest. There, the heaving silhouette of a blood-hungry wolf — she is just in time. Haunches turned towards her, they seek a new target. Some nearby light spell crescendos and effervescence gleams off his stately armor. Afra sights confidence in his countenance. Then that he is empty-handed — no, that he is holding someone’s hand. Someone so small, she could have missed her; a child.

What a ridiculous… though she can’t finish that thought as something hot and boiling comes surging up bile-like inside of her. All the fuss about focus and concentration and ignoring the heat of battle goes ignored as the dragon comes, ablaze, out from the shadows.

Afra roars, “Bastard!” At her waist hang blackening arms ringed with off-white scales and tipped with gnarled claws. “Dare to face another Laguz!”

Spun around, the wolf regards her with circumspection. Those eyes have a look that is either cocky or calculating. They pick on smaller prey; she’d presume it’d be cowardice. Nevertheless, this bandit is not afraid, and after a beat’s time of insufferably stalling on their terms, she charges first.
______________

Initiating melee with Wolf Laguz Bandit.
Cat Laguz Bandit has disappeared into the camp.
Beroc Mage is deceased.
Pie, Cecily, Way - all presumed safe.

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Hidden 5 mos ago Post by Count Cuddles
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It all had happened so fast, Nocello at first didn't react, couldn't react as the shouts began to ring out, the light burst in the sky to illuminate the area, and the sudden rush of attackers. In his stunned state of inaction however the first bandit that approached was met with the still burning hot pan from the fire as Cam rose up swinging it in one hand to impact the side of the fools unprotected face.

She followed through with the blow before dropping the cooking implement and pouncing upon the man, howling in pain from the burned flesh covering half his face she quickly drew her knife and plunged it into his throat, taking no time to revel or think about the kill she jumped again to her feet, spinning she drew her sword from its scabbard, set leaning against the side of the tent, quick parrying another clumsy sword slash before in one flourishing movement removing the sword arm the elbow and delivering a deep slash across the mans chest.

The Fallen turned and cursing to herself grabbed the old man's arm and pulled him to his feet shaking him from his stupor. "C'mon you Bag of Bones, starting throwing fire or hide under a rock!"

Nocello hurriedly turned and moved towards the tent. "Yes yes yes of course." he mumbled to himself as he dug through is bad extracting his fire tome and moving again into the outside, into the battle.

He spotted a Wolf lunging at the back Afra as she herself charged her enemies, in that moment with memorized and practiced efficiency he rose his hand and not sparing a glance down his eyes began to glow and the pages of the tome flew open, he spared not a word as the ball of flames formed before him even as the lines of the simple magic circle formed. The magic attack blasted forwards, striking the side of the lunging Laguuz, not felling the creature but keeping it from attacking Afra immediately.
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Hidden 5 mos ago 5 mos ago Post by Karkinos
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She should have taken a low stance and held; in some gallant headspace, she’d expected her opponent to clash with her. Of course, now their composure made sense. Now, their support hurtled at her, vulnerable, from the dark — before an eruption of ethereal flame and they collided hard with another wagon in the boxed-in arena. Afra would make do with it, sticking her charge, her opponent dodging cleanly to one side before rebounding, those stained jaws hinged far apart.

A tail manifested underneath the wolf Laguz’ hind legs, rushing their ankles aside — they gallivanted into the ground. And Afra, whipped around with the momentum, drew her claws to slice across shoulder to tail — ended it.

The other wolf, with knowing gaze, kicked and drug itself beneath the covered wagon. Gilded embers fell from their flank as they disappeared to the other side.

Pack logic!

Afra’s thoughts came rushing onto her. “If it’s just Laguz, they’d be outmatched if I transformed. They’d need to recoup quickly”— to herself, then she adopted imperialism in stance and tone. Mage! I can’t stay here. The wolves will return and there will be more of them—”

Not-so-distantly, a bandit howled at the moon.

Afra’s commandeering air revealed itself to be half-so — half frustration. And between avoiding the body and avoiding eye contact with the child and her father (Daein armor?), her eyes were flashing in all directions, her senses were clogged with foreignness and blood-smell and she looked to teeter towards panic. “The damn dogs are more organized than us,” she cursed.
______________

Wolf Laguz Bandit is deceased.
Wolf Laguz Bandit is getting reinforcements.

Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Garet
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Garet The Shadoki Master

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Joram & Jayde


A few minutes before the howling began and the sky lit up, Joram rolled onto his side and opened his eyes. A single candle lit the inside of their tent, sitting on the ground next to his sister’s bedding. Jayde, however, was sitting up, reading over a piece of parchment. A few other pages were scattered across her lap.

“Jamor.” He pushed himself up on one arm and yawned. “Have you been awake all night?”

“Couldn’t sleep after a while.” She shrugged, eyes stuck on the page before her. “I had a dream that the Old Speech was dancing around me.”

Joram sat up and leaned over toward one of the pages. “Still no luck reading all of it?” He looked back at his sister. “We’re leaving in the morning. You should’ve tried to sleep again.”

Jayde finally raised her eyes and an eyebrow. “You shouldn’t have gone to sleep all dressed.”

“It’s too soon to trust anyone here,” he said, huffing. “’Sides, you’re calling the kettle bla—”

A howl split the silence shrouding the camp, and the siblings’ eyes met. Joram threw back his bedding and lunged for his bows and quiver; they sat next to where he’d slept, with the Bronze Bow unstrung and sitting inside the quiver. Jayde quickly swept the tome pages back together and into their scroll case. As another, deeper howl followed, she shoved the case back inside her pack, then grabbed both her and Joram’s packs. She walked out of the tent as a wave of light rippled across the sky, which almost immediately shattered beneath the force of battle cries.

“Have your stone?” Killer Bow in hand and quiver on back, Joram hurried out of the tent.

In the same moment, Jayde said, “I knew we were too close to the edge of camp. Do I have to—”

“Want to stay alive?” Joram asked, interrupting his sister as they stopped next to Epona and Anope. Their horses, tethered next to their tent, were both pulling at their reins even as the harsh sounds of battle crept closer. Anope in particular was trying desperately to break loose. This kind of situation was all too familiar to the former mercenaries.

“Fine. Heading for the caravans?” Jayde slung both packs onto Epona’s back. Turning to Anope, she groaned before pulling his reins loose. The stallion snorted and began galloping away from the edge of camp.

Joram loosed Epona’s reins and pulled himself up onto the horse, who had only a blanket on his back. “Yes. But we can’t abandon any—”

A yowl cut him off. He twisted his back, putting an arrow to his bow. A large Cat had taken Jayde’s place; it drew back its claws and slashed again at the bandit who’d tried to swing his axe at them. He stumbled back a step, fresh scratches on his arm and leg, then grunted as an arrow thudded into his chest. Joram drew back another arrow, but the bandit fell to the ground, dead or dying.

He glanced at the Cat, noting that its shoulder was still wrapped in bandaging. “Right. Jamor, let’s go.”

She turned and narrowed her eyes at him, giving a small hiss.

“You know me, all right? Keep a hold of yourself and stick with me.” Joram left his arrow in his bow-hand as he pulled on Epona’s reins. They needed to get closer to the caravans and find other people who were fighting back against this ambush. Hopefully they could save someone along the way.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Count Cuddles
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Nocello approached Afra, glancing slowly side to side as he cautiously watched for the return of the bandits. "Well I would expect them to be, hunters of a pack natural develop such tactics through practice, it is seen in nature and within the cultures of man kind."

His hired sword approached from behind glaring ahead as she scanned the edge of the camp. She could still hear fighting close by, it wouldn't do to drop her guard.

"What's more if they are all the way out here they are either experienced and confident enough, or starving and desperate enough to attack a group as large as ours. Either way if we don't group together we'll be cut off and taken out one by one..." Cam hated the idea of having to go shoulder to shoulder with all of these strangers, people she had no reason to trust, but better them then face the fangs claws and steel of those attacking. "There are fliers in the camp, we should get an idea of the landscape."
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