Hidden 1 yr ago Post by ERode
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ERode Meteoric

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Prelude: Children in the Darkest Season



Winter had fallen over Altera. The last week had seen constant snowfall, blanketing the streets and the roofs, the mountains and the fields, everything painted over by an all-encompassing whiteness. The docks have frozen over now, devoid of any ships as extended the shore. Only the hardiest of fishermen now walked out to that icy beach, cutting holes into the open waters so they could continue their trade. The nuns of the Church of First Light have been hard at work as well, meticulously sweeping snow off the countless steps leading up to the mountainside temple. It was in the darkest of seasons that faith burned the brightest, and braziers lined the path upwards, burning fiercely day in and day out. Though the nights were devastatingly cold, festive souls made merry regardless of the weather, passing mead and meat, singing praises to Ain-Mala for the bountiful autumn harvest that allowed them to enjoy so much food in the desolate months to come.

But bodies were always found within the Southern Districts, frozen solid in the sudden whiteouts that rush through the land. Guards and monster hunters alike work in constant fear of their extremities freezing off. The task of clearing out the roads is constant and unending, and more than just a few buildings have collapsed under the weight of the snow pressing down upon them. Monsters, seeking easy prey, attack caravans from Andeave headed to resupply the storehouses of Fort Stalwart, the fortress guarding the single mountain path that leads up to the wider lands of Altera. Life and death stood hand-in-hand during the desolate season, and souls left the body as easily as white breath.

Lethality, however, was no deterrent to the needs of the body, and even now, crowds of people gathered in the grayish central plaza of the Seaside Fortress-City of Andeave. It was early in the morning and the sun had yet to come up, illumination found only in the torches lit and the reflection of the hard-packed snow in the plaza. Huddling around self-made fires for warmth, party members discussed the work of the day, where they’d go hunting, where they’d go slaying. Some stamped warmth into their cold feet, others stood brazenly against the winter’s chill, and still more were performing the rituals demanded of them before they marched outside the safety of Andeave’s walls, whether it be holy supplication or barbarous libation. The winter season was bereft of particularly great bounties, not that many wanted to take them to begin with when conditions reduced combat effectiveness so readily, but there were still a smattering of possibilities, for those brave enough to take them.

After all, snow didn’t trespass so easily in the bowels of the mountains; subterranean monstrosities were the ones that became popular during this season. Giant worms, arachnids in their web-drenched lairs, that roving band of goblins that had become such a threat over the months, and the kobolds that made the tunnels their home. For those less-enthused about delving into the claustrophobic depths, however, there was always a need for members of the Silver Moon Army to work escort jobs bringing caravans filled with supplies to the Fort in the mountains. Equestrian skill was a necessity, however, and for most, that barred them from partaking in such quests. Ordinary civilians wanted no part in such a dangerous job either; two out of three caravans were attacked on these snowbound roads, and most of them were utterly decimated in the aftermath.

Still, for work that didn’t necessary equate to facing off a highly lethal monster, it paid well enough, and was work that never had an end to it. The dead were simply unfortunate, and when parties like Etono’s were (reputedly) raking in tons of Gold by completing this job…well, it certainly made one dream. A merchant’s life was a couple steps safer than a monster hunter’s, and perhaps one simply needed to find the correct route to make it to the Fort safely.

Perhaps…

The dark day continued, plans being sharpened along with weapons, the deliberations of the day's adventures keeping one's mind off the incessant chill in their bones.
Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Th3King0fChaos
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Argentum slowly looks around as he watches people begin to arrive, move around, and leave as he stands waiting for his less than savory comrade. As this thought comes to mind he sighs as if some weight was lifted off of his shoulders. He looks over into the darkness and watches the people walking around and talking about their quests, plans for the day, and gossip here and there. He can't hear anything of importance, but some people might be talking about the recent near TPK that befell Siwon and himself.

As he begins to adjust himself he shifts the snow from his boots and stands in the cold looking for anyone who is looking for two front-liners, or looking to start a party. So far in the dark it is too hard to pick out anyone who would be looking for such a thing. He would need to go face to face and actually ask them, and most likely need to begin to explain the situation they are in. He dreads this as it seems strange that the front-liners lived and the others didn't, and Argen doesn't want to deal with this but he needs to so he can pay of his debt. At least it is light enough to see the figure of people, as they each have a certain outstanding feature that can be seen in this dark. The same goes for his comrade as he has a hairstyle that almost no one would miss, so he can be assured he wouldn't miss his arrival. Argen now waits for Siwon to arrive so they can begin their search and hopefully before the sun rises so they can have the day to interact and get their team composition down.
Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by OwO
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Even with his carefully curated winter gear, it was still as frigid as always. For each breath he exhaled, a bellow of frigid smoke emerged. Such a cold winter made Renault wonder if his choice of spells was correct. Had he chosen fire, he would be able to keep warm. That was beside the point, though. Such petty things shouldn't trifle him. What he picked was what he picked. No amount of willpower could change the past. Actually, would it have been possible to flex in another contract with a fire spirit? That would be a question for later. He'd ask the sadistic receptionist that stood at the mage guild if he could.

Not that it mattered.

He didn't even have the money to get another spell. Spells were expensive. It had cost him his entire endowment from Mathers to join the mage guild. Even though his former party could make serious coinage, he had to spend all of his gold just to catch up to them. The only nest egg he could make was a total of 7 silver. An entire seven silver. If he stretched it as much as he could, how many days could he last? One week? Two at the most. Not long enough to wait until the winter was over. No, he had to get back into action. Hunt some monsters, but without the help of his former team. For a mage? That was pretty much a death sentence.

The answer was obvious. Renault had to join a new party. He was—thank the gods—a semi-experienced mage. Mages, after all, were an extraordinarily powerful force. They were weak and fragile, but a good mage could decimate hordes of monsters before they even got close to the frontlines. Even if he wasn't good enough to keep up with the big leagues, he could still make a killing if he just knocked himself down to where his skill actually was. Even if it was risky, dying from exposure and starvation in the middle of winter was probably worse than getting stuck with a sketchy party. If he could just get five silver from hunting, he would basically double his breathing room.

And there Renault was. In the middle of the square, scoping out parties illuminated by the bizarre orange glow that always came with the snow. Light from fires and the moon reflected unimpeded thanks to the snow's white nature. Even though the sun was nowhere near close to breaching the horizon, there was enough light to see everything. The less fine details, at the very least. It had been a long time since he had looked at the bounty board. His party leader would choose each bounty that his party had gone to complete. Now, it was up to Renault to finally see what quests remained in the desolate winter.

A good amount.

Purifying skeletons was cheap and easy. It was basically like fighting oversized ice cubes, just more stubborn. Skeleton mages were terrifying, though. They silently cast their magic and were generally unaffected by things. The Ravager-Wyrm was also cheap. A large worm that was misspelled? Most likely. It was more of a threat to the landscape than people, though. 13 silver was an okay amount for brand new adventurers, but if it was split between more than three people? Only enough for some food. Salamander riders seemed like a good choice for a decent party. Magic was effective against most things. The Embalming Hunter wasn't a good matchup for Renault. Had he been a fire mage, he would easily be able to torch the beast's lair. He wasn't. No point in dwelling over it. Bringing supplies to the fort was the real money maker. If you did it right, you could get ten gold every 3 or so days. It was probably difficult and soul crushing, but the possibility of making fat stacks was there. The other two were a bit difficult. Both of them were like raids; large bosses surrounded by their troops. Unless Renault got an amazing party that he could trust every step of the way, he would have to avoid those two like the plague.

Renault needed a party before taking his thoughts any further. Don't miss the forest for the trees. Would the better metaphor have been 'don't skip steps when building a chair?'

Well. He would just wait by the bounty board for now, trying to not freeze his buns off as he scoped out groups that looked like they could use another member.
Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Rondo of Blood
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Rondo of Blood a horrible night to have a curse

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Siwon marched down the snow-covered streets, his spear leaning on his shoulder and a dimly lit torch held by his other hand. His mess of hair looked more unkept than usual, and upon closer inspection, the dark circles underneath his eyes were dark bags, not the usual eye shadow (read: dirt or soot) he usually applies every morning. The Fiend Knight had woken up earlier in the morning in order to perform his daily rites to Kur-Inuus, one of which involved the ritual sacrifice of an innocent animal and the draining of its blood. As usual, he planned to sacrifice a chicken to The Jaws, but had realized he was down to his last silver. After spending about ten minutes of haggling, he managed to miraculously cut the price down to about half of what it normally would be.

Of course, Siwon did not realize he'd be paying for a sick chicken who died from the cold just shortly after he purchased it. Annoyed at the thought of offering a stale sacrifice, Siwon had spent another thirty or so minutes frantically searching for a more suitable alternative, having settled for a particularly portly mouse found in the crevices of some tavern. As for the dead chicken, Siwon decided it'd be best to cook it instead of waste such a valuable prize, the recently roasted poultry kept in a burlap sack wrapped at the end of his spear.

The chicken's too skinny! You think it's really big enough for you and Argie? Hmmmm?

A mocking, impish figure spoke, nested on Siwon's other shoulder. It was a demon, dread beings that give the Fiend Knights their power and taking the shape of the knight's inner self.

"Like I'll give him some of my food, anyway! And I told you to stop calling him 'Argie'! If you do that, I might call him 'Argie' and things will get even weirder between us!"

One thing to note about a Fiend Knight's demon is that at a level as low as Siwon's, only he would be able to see and hear such a thing. To those onlookers, Siwon would look like he was shouting to the oblivion like a mad man.

At least you don't have to worry about sharing that with the rest of your friends... since they're all dead.

Indeed, the last monster that Siwon and 'Argie' had faced was a menacing orc. The bounty was way above their pay grade and, in the end, only those two survived. It's a rather odd story, especially with how two supposed front-liners survived such an attack. At the very least, Siwon had made sure the sacrifice of his fallen allies wasn't in vain, using his half of the bounty to buy a new skill that would ensure he'd be able to assist in bringing down such a mighty foe if encountered again...

... and a new pair of threads with a sick backpatch.

"Whatever... So these are the bounties, huh? They all look like a piece of cake!" Siwon had made his way straight to the Silver Moon's bounty board, not bothering to search for his ally just yet. Argentum knows what he looks like, after all.

Ooh, maybe you should go for that 'Dragonscar' fellow! He breathes fire, maybe he can get us out of this cold!

"Nah, some other lesser party can take care of him! They'd need that bounty more than we would, anyway!"

And so Siwon spent the morning loudly discussing with himself the pros and cons of each bounty. Woe be unto the poor souls who would dare speak to such a wretch...
Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Th3King0fChaos
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Argen looks out into the dark as his eyes slowly shift between each person to see if he can find his companion. 'He would have been here by now. His rituals shouldn't take this long...unless'. Argen shakes off that notion as he continues to look out in hopes to find Siwon. Hoping he doesn't do that kind of ritual.

As he watches groups pass, he spots a lone person head towards the bounty board. 'Either his team sent him to grab it by himself or he has no party. He doesn't seem to have an imposing silhouette, and no evidence of a weapon they might be a theif, preist, or Mage'. For Argen if they don't have a party any one of those might be useful.

In all honesty he is hoping they are a cleric as they would be able to get through the cold ass forest without contracting any deadly illness, but a thief might be alright. Maybe.

Argen begins to look off back and starts to try and find...'There he is'. As Argentum spots Siwon heading towards the bounty board, he begins to shake off the snow.

He finds his legs slightly stiff just standing there as he stretches slightly for a moment and then starts to head towards the bounty board where he finds his Comrade...talking to himself? With the light in near the other person he can see they are a mage as they have the colors of the guild. 'Hu still can be very useful as fire spells will be nice to keep warm'. As Argen fully makes it over he calls out to Siwon, "Siwon, hello" as he begins to look at the bounty board.
Hidden 1 yr ago Post by GreenGoat
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Ettamri Belarence

She giggled, her hands wrapped around Ettamri, a pleased look upon her face. A wreath of branches, leaves, and one flower sat upon her head, the voluminous white dress she wore billowing unnaturally to unfelt winds.

"Ehehe~, you're finally here. I've been waiting so long!"

A singsong voice, her hand pulled by her, the red skinned child with a pure innocent smile. Ettamri could hardly refuse a small child like this, but she feared of its [ ].

"Come on! Its finally time to [ ]!"

***


With the letter to her family finally written up, sealed and given to a courier, Ettamri sighed, as she moved towards the bounty board.

She walked through the crowd, parting it as if by her sheer presence alone. For indeed, for someone of her stature, and muscles visible through even the cloth wrapping all over her body, many would deem it wise not to rouse her ire. Even with her less than full plate of armor signifying her lack of funds for a full plate, the crest still identified her as one of the House of Belarence, sporting the blue and white field behind a single thorny rose.

A new quest.

She needed another contract. Ettamri had been humbled before, having sought out small time adventurers, thinking she could do most of the job while she used them as extra hands. Her own hubris in thinking they were at least competent enough to finish the task given to them. Perhaps she should have been the spearhead with Gwyn. Perhaps, she should have been trapping the place and luring them there. Perhaps and maybes swirled around her head, until she once again dismissed them.

"Don't forget the past, but don't drag it around neither!" A faint memory of the apple trees she trained under, the gruff old guardsman that had seen a few wars before, the tricks he taught her as well as proper fighting techniques.

Finding a distinct looking person that seems to lack a party, she snapped out of her reminiscing, moving towards him while the crowd parted like water. Those who didn't move away was simply and rudely pushed away. A few looked angry for a moment, before realizing where they were and how big she was.

"You." She spoke to Renault. "From your garb, you seem to be a magician. Join me on the caravan escort quest."

@OwO
Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Searat
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Searat The Aqueous Rodent

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A cold and bitter wind hit his back and unintentionally caused him to shiver in his vantage point. His cloak and attire did little, if any, to protect him from the chills of the wilderness. But he refused to turn back now, he had been here even before the sun rose. Setting up the bait, masking his scent, and covering his own tracks before waiting patiently for his mark to appear with his bow on hand. His sole focus was on the ambient sounds of the area; from the sound of the winder wind blowing through, to the faint sounds that birds and distant beasts produced occasionally. Those two sounds were the only thing he heard...that is until he heard the sound of crunching snow.

Oscar slowly turned his head to look at what caused the aberrant sound. He saw his intended prey. A rather fuzzy looking rabbit with almost pure white fur. This was it. The culmination of his efforts. He held his breath, not wanting the rabbit to notice his presence by the smell of his breath, and nocked an arrow. The rabbit hopped cautiously towards the small pile of berries, pausing in intervals to spot for dangers. As it closed in for its apparently easy meal, an arrow embedded itself in the small mammal's neck. It struggled slightly as it realized the danger but it was too late for it to run, in seconds the small creature laid still atop a small patch of reddening snow.

Finally moving from his position, Oscar hopped down the he had been standing on for hours and let out a content sigh as he approached the rabbit's still body. Crouching down he retrieves his arrow and wipes clean the blood from the metal tip before returning it to the quiver. He then grasps his hind legs and uses his trusty machete to begin skinning and cleaning the animal in preparation to be sold at the local butcher shop. As per routine that his mentor had taught him, Oscar leaves behind an offering to Kur-Inuus. Particularly the rabbit's head, paws, and innards as his offering. The walk back to the city from the reserve was uneventful, but he was just glad that he had finished earlier than expected. He was more excited on the questing he was going to do afterwards.

Hunting the critter was one thing, haggling for a better price at the butcher was another. "26 copper." Oscar offers the butcher. "No deal Oscar. 22 copper." The ranger groans slightly. "C'mon I already skinned and gutted the rabbit for you." "And I appreciate that but, if I buy it off you for 26 copper, I'll just barely break even. I have a wife and kid to support. You're killing me here." Oscar stares at the man before raising his hands in defeat. "Fine. Fine. 24 copper and I'll skin the next one I bring in. Deal?" He then extends his gloved hand across the counter. The butcher contemplates on the offer and after a brief moment and grasps the other man's hand and shakes it. "Deal." He then takes out the agreed upon amount of money and hands it over to Oscar. The ranger takes the coins and puts them in his money pouch before giving the butcher a wide smile and takes off his hat and gives the butcher a bow of gratitude. "Many thanks, ser butcher." The butcher in turn gives Oscar a dry chuckle. "Ha. Ha. Just don't forget the deal, ok?" Oscar just nods to him as he leaves the shop. Now with his task done, he heads off to the central plaza of the city.

On the way there he grabs some loose snow from the ground and uses it to clean off the blood and bits of guts off his gloves, in hopes that it would clean the smell of blood off them. Finally reaching the hustle and bustling plaza he makes his way to the quest board to look for some quests or maybe even parties that would need a ranger in their team. From the corner of his eye he notices a familiar face along with a not so familiar face talking to him. "Hey, Renault! It's me, Oscar!" He greeted the magic user with a wave and a smile on his face. Approaching closer he got a better look at the person talking to him. An extremely tall and heavily armored individual looking like she could bench press a cow for fun. Admittedly she was intimidating to the shorter man, but none the less he looks to the towering figure and takes off his hat as he introduces himself. "Hello. My name is Oscar, a somewhat infrequent member of Renault's party. I am a ranger by the way. Well, none the less. Nice to meet you." He completes his introduction before putting on his hat atop his head again. Hopefully he could join Renault's party again for a quest. If not maybe he and this new person could help him find another party to join up with.

@OwO@GreenGoat


Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Skyswimsky
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It was futile.

Or maybe simple karma. Her refusal to commit, finally having caught up to do more bad than good. The season of winter, treacherous to any adventurer alike. For most, a party of adventurers were like (second) family — going through bad and good times alike. For others, it was a simple short commitment to make some easy money. If one had the freedom of choice then there was no need to tolerate these kind of people.

But now, with Winter having finally settled in, the weak were weeded out. And those that survived the treacherous cold forged bonds than brought them closer than ever, with no place for the occasional drifter. Of course that did not hold true for every party, but finding work now was certainly more difficult than before the first snowfall.

Sure, there was, in theory, still plenty of work in the form of jobs outside these cold regions. Something that newly formed parties had no problem committing to. But the pay was questionable. 13 Silver? 25 silver? Splitting it up? The Undead quest stirred her flames of vengeance, but beating a mage without a priest was out of the question.

No, the Blade Dancer~s choice had to fall on one of the more difficult missions. Those that paid more by taking the harsh weather into consideration. But finding a party for that was difficult. Unless...

A blessing in disguise? The brunette, who could have assumed to be frozen considering how still she stood in front of the quest board, slowly tilted her head to the side. It was the voice of a woman she could recognize miles away. A person she detested, yet couldn't deny her skills. Muu would have given her everything if the other survivor had been Gwyn instead of that bitch.

No.

Tightening her huge and comfortable winter-mantle around herself some more, the girl now fully turned around before taking some steps towards the small group that formed. She didn't like Ettamri, yes, but she certainly didn't hate her. Now, however, they certainly shared the same goal, and Muu was confident enough she could see eye to eye with her.

"I'll be taking on that quest, too." Muu spoke up, more of a statement than a question. "Please let me join." She added, somewhat courteous, nonetheless.
Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Rondo of Blood
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Rondo of Blood a horrible night to have a curse

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Seeing Argentum approach, Siwon turned over.

"What did I say about showing up before me? Now it looks like I'm the one that's late!" Siwon hissed, before bringing his spear down and unwrapping the sack containing the roasted chicken

"Whatever... do you want breakfast, or what? It's small, so you can only have a leg and maybe a wing. Oh, and the bird was sick when I bought it! If you start bleeding out of your eyes, that's just The Jaws taking its course."

Hmmmmm? You're sharing after all? Liar.

Siwon held the chicken out for Argen, ignoring his demon as he glanced back at the board, taking a better look at the jobs.

"Purify the Undying? Pointless! The Ravager-Wyrm? Someone spelled 'worm' wrong! Salamander Riders? By The Jaws, imagine riding a salamander while it's shedding..."

Siwon was always the type to think out loud in most situations. Thankfully he made sure to stay silent during hunts (aside from the occasional praise to Kur-Inuus or chatting about the inevitability of death) and other times where the lack of silence would reward a monster hunter a swift demise. To those who have worked with the Fiend Knight, one would call this yet another casualty of the mostly thankless job that is middling-level monster hunting.

"What do you think, Argen? I know I always make the right decision at every given moment, but your opinion is also equally valued. We should decide soon though, so then maybe we could find a priest or at least a mage to tag along with us!"
Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Th3King0fChaos
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As Argen begins to listen to his companion he starts hear the people nearing the mage start to talk, and one of them seems to be near demanding the mage to join them, 'Hmm, maybe I can somehow slip me and Siwon in as well. I'll have to figure out a way in the moment'.

As his comrade offers him a piece of a small chicken Argen accepts with a, "Thank you I would take just a leg. I wouldn't want to take too much".

As Argen continues to listen to both his comrade and the group forming near them he begins churning through the information he has. They have a Mage, a Ranger, and 2 unknowns. As Argen looks towards them and begins to try dissect what they have and determine how he could do this. A large brawny...woman? Based on the voice he can say so, who has a fairly large weapon, must be a warrior. Maybe a higher focus on offense? 'If I was that size that would be my idea'.

Then Argen's gaze moves over to a small girl who seemed to not have much weapons showing. She could be a thief, a mage, or a priestess. "Perfect" softly comes off of Argen's lips. Once Siwon finishes with his spiel Argen says to his comrade, "We absolutely should make a decision soon. However, I think before making those decisions we should find a group. And I think I found one brewing, and it seems in need of some defensive fighters". As Argen points back towards them he continues, "I'll go see what I can make happen, while you follow behind. Also we'll eat in a moment, we'll take care of this first".

Argen begins heading over towards the group being formed taking a last minute assessment of the situation, other than the large one the situation seems light at the moment. The ranger, with a very peculiar hat seems to be in a good mood, as the mage seems to know him, this might make for an easy way to get them both. The small girl will be easy as well as she seems to be by herself as well and timid, the only stick in the mud for him is the large woman as she seems slightly brash, and with strength and brashness it can be hard to talk to them, but Argen is gonna try.

As Argen makes it over he clears his throat and says, "Hello, my name is Argentum and I was nearby and heard a party seems to be brewing here. I would like to ask if me and my companion could also join on this quest. I am a phalanx, and my companion over there is a Fiend knight". As he points back to Siwon, as Argen returns his hand to his side and adjusts his feet to get rid of the snow.

Argen stands relaxed, yet slightly tall as he watches everyone's reactions but the most important one being the large woman's. His hand resting on his spear as it is sunk into the snow and his shield on his back, with his sturdy, yet very rough, bag.
Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by OwO
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Well, that was easy. Renauld had already found a party. At least, people who wanted him to join. An extraordinarily large woman had parted the crowds of cold loiterers to directly confront the lackadaisical looking mage. Her size had only been dwarfed by her personality; curt and surly. Rather than a greeting, she offered a job. Well, less 'offer' and more 'demand.'

"Ah, me?" Renauld paused as he took a brief look around. He was indeed the only mage that she could have been talking to. "Er, yes. Sure. I'm Renauld, by the way. To whom do I have the pleasure of speaking to?"

Before the large warrior had a chance to respond, a familiar voice emerged from the crowd. Someone who Renauld had worked with in the past. He had introduced himself, most likely looking for another job.

Then more emerged. Like moths to a flame, three more people arrived. The first of which was a forlorn looking woman with a red scarf. Forlorn? No, there was something else in her eyes. Maybe it was nothing. The second and third were much more... noticeable? One had an appearance that could only be described as unique and iconic. The other was a talkative one who made an elevator pitch. His name was Argentum. What kind of name was that? Renauld kept his thought to himself. He was a phalanx which... was a strange class? His previous party had been composed of the standard roles: two warriors, a priest, a paladin, a thief, and a mage. He didn't really have any experience with working with other classes.

Well, it was probably better to let the big girl who called him out choose the party members. For now, he'd just stay quiet.
Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by GreenGoat
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Ettamri Belarence


"Oh?" Almost immediately after she tried to recruit the Mage, a Ranger sauntered up, all familiar like, wanting to join. And another one, and another one. In a short span of time, she had managed to gather a Mage, a Ranger, a Blade dancer, a Phalanx and a Fiend Knight. The Blade Dancer was, of course, Muu, someone she had met before.

All of this seemed like déjà vu to her. How quickly people had gathered around her, with even one that was in her old team. She felt a sense of impending doom, but... now there were two people who could fight in close quarters as well as divert attention from their less armored party members. A knight, whom she was interested in, considering he was a fellow knight, as well as a spearman holding a shield.

Standing proudly, she announced her name. "I am Ettamri Belarence, daughter of Bocas, son of Camlarant, who fought alongside his father Geval the Wise in the old war, proud heir to the name of Belarence, and bearer of the Rozen crest."

"There is no objection to taking this escort quest, right? I've been to Fort Stalwart before, having participated in the battle to retake it from Tithemal and his orcs. Of course, I should be the leader of this party. If there's any objection to the quest taken, or me leading, speak now or forever hold your peace."

She crossed her arms, waiting for them to choose. If they wanted some easier lower leveled quests, they would be welcome to choose, but she had no time to do menial quests the lesser adventurers should be doing. And if they wanted a new leader... well, then they'd have to prove they were capable of leading.

@OwO@Th3King0fChaos@Rondo of Blood@Skyswimsky@Searat
Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Rondo of Blood
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As Argen introduced the two of them to another party, Siwon took his time to observe the currently gathered bunch.

A monstrous Knightess, a reticent Mage, a tiny Blade Dancer, and a jovial Ranger, hmmmmm? Still nobody to purify your breakfast of disease!

"Whatever! I cooked this chicken to perfection! Whatever parasites that plagued the chicken in life have all been burned off. My cooking is impeccable!"

With his chest puffed up, Siwon marched over to the center of the new gathering, pointing to himself with his free hand as he held his torch in a matter where its light would accentuate his good side. (Trick statement, all his sides were good.) To Argentem, he would have a clear idea of what was to come, as it was this particular hook that Siwon had rehearsed with his traveling companion quite a few times the past week alone. Perhaps Argen should stop his partner before it's too lat-

"Behold all ye who cling to the fragile rope that is life!"

And words are coming out of his mouth again. Great.

"You stand before the Fang's Shadow, a Devoted Disciple of The Jaws of Death! Deliverer of Doom, Reaper of Sorrow, look on and rejoice all lesser creatures, for it is I, the Fiend Knight Siwon!"

Siwon took an extravagant bow to his new companions, before quickly rising and looking upward to the horned noblewoman named Ettamri.

"If you know of our destination, then I agree with your assessment, Ma'am Knightess. Traveling in the open wilderness will be the perfect place for me to demonstrate the deft agility of the famed Fiend Knights of Kur-Inuus, especially with a heretical Hunter guiding us through! All we need now is a Priest on our side, and our combined might shall be nigh unrivaled..."

Siwon began to ponder the possibilities of recruiting a priest to their cause. Perhaps this was a moment of reprieve for his "future allies" to flee before their doom is sealed?
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Oscar looked at the group before him and gave a quick nod to nobody in particular. It seemed that he needn't ask for Renauld's help in forming a party. He turns to the mage and speaks to him. "Hmm...I suppose we won't be adventuring with your usual group, huh?" He finished with a lighthearted chuckle and a pat on the wizard's shoulder. The tall intimidating one had just announced that she would be the party's leader for the quest, and he had no intention of objecting her. Even by simply looking at her, Oscar knew that she has experience in leading a group before. "No questions here. Just by listening to you, I can agree that you are leadership material."

He glanced to the side and looked at the others to see if they were going to voice any complaints or objections, but took note of the armored silver eyed knight. He had heard of rumors of a shield bearing knight with silver eyes that apparently was a bringer of doom and misfortune due to the unaccountable number of the knight's party mates meeting their end while with him in the party. It lead to suspicions that there was foul play in the deaths, but no official reports had been given and it was left to word of mouth to confirm or deny the guilt or innocence of the aforementioned knight. Perhaps Argentum was the infamous knight that the rumors spoke of?

His train of thought was interrupted when a short dark haired man had gone to the center of the group and announced himself. Siwon was his name, probably the fiend knight friend the shield bearer talked about. He worshiped the same god that Rangers paid respects to due to Kur-Inuus representing the natural cycle of life and death. 'A little too eccentric, but I suppose he may be an alright guy.' The ranger thought to himself while observing the strange little man speak.

Then Siwon called Oscar a heretic.

The comment caused the smile on Oscar's face to dip ever so slightly. They both revered Kur-Inuus. It mattered not the method of showing reverence but only the intention of the action. It was rude and uncalled for but even though he wished to correct the fiend knight, it would only lead to more complications. Instead, Oscar held his tongue and just nodded when Siwon mentioned that they needed a priest.

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"You leading..." Muu spoke up after having fallen silent for a while only somewhat noting the newcomers as she contemplated with herself if she should or should not. "I don't mind. But you should treat your comrades nicer or, otherwise, everyone might die again." Harsh words for someone who didn't seem to put much emotion into the words she had just spoken.

"But then again..." Muu didn't give Ettamri a chance to respond, just yet, as she continued. "If not for you, I would have died on the very same day, too. I haven't thanked you for that yet. So, thank you." Gratitude, on the other hand, was something nice, wasn't it? Even if Muu didn't sound grateful (or honest) at all.

With that matter done, Muu now actually examined their companions. Two new faces had joined, one... weirder than the other. Yeah, weird. Although him being weird wasn't as much of a problem as these silver eyes of the other. But before that— "I should introduce myself as well. The name's Muu. I'm a Bladedancer." There, done.

"As for you..." Her somewhat dead eyes stared at Argentum. Right, he actually had an ally at his side, did he not? Someone despicable as to what she had heard couldn't possibly be... "Nevermind." Even though this Siwon could as well just be a drunkard he had paid some coin, there was no reason in stirring up likely unnecessary conflict.
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Ettamri Belarence


She nodded as the Fiend Knight spoke. Perhaps he wasn't an actual knight? In any case, he sure sounded confident. Still a priest would be useful to find as he suggested. The ranger wisely agreed to her being leader, giving no sort of objection or sign that he will be difficult to handle. Good, that sort of attitude would help immensely; sometimes an order needed to be taken immediately without question.

"You leading... I don't mind. But you should treat your comrades nicer or, otherwise, everyone might die again."

Ettamri laughed loudly at that. "Whether I'm nice or not doesn't matter, now does it? Ah what was it... Yeah, I asked three of you, to help our priest destroy the undead mage first didn't I? You can't even do that, and everyone else paid the price, while you scampered away alive. GAHAHA, BUT TO THINK YOU'D BLAME YOUR OWN INCOMPETENCE ON ME?"

"Are you picking a fight, you trash!?" Her mood turned a quick 180 as she slammed down the large iron club on the ground. "I did not come back to be accused of leaving them to die!"
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Argentum had stayed close by Siwon as everyone was talking. He shifted himself so he could be more centered and let Siwon into the circleish area they are in. This however seemed to back fire as Siwon passes the chicken over to Argen as he says, "Thank you".

As He sees Siwon continue walking out in confidence he sighed out, "Here we go again". Once Siwon finished Argen took his shoulder and started to slightly pull him back out of the center as he says, "Sorry about him. He has a little bit of a thing for doing this".

As Argen looks towards the ranger he then says, "I'm sorry for him, for the heretic comment. It was uncalled for. Right Siwon". As Argentum is now slowly squeezing Siwon's shoulder.

Once he finishes with dealing with Siwon's little speech he goes back to everyone else, and it seems they're looking at him. Not him and Siwon just him. Argen stops for a moment and thinks what could that mean. Then it clicks and he just keeps a cool head. As the small girl begins to try and speak to him she stops herself, then the Large one immediately comes in yelling. Argen missed part of that trying to deal with Siwon so he doesn't know the full starter and story. Even then this sounds like it's about their own misadventures so he won't butt in, he just won't get Siwon involved as he shifts both himself and Siwon away in case she starts swinging.

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"Ettamri." Muu kept calm, indifferent. She wouldn't be so stupid as to start a fight in the middle of broad daylight? Besides, the woman wasn't as tall as some orcs. "What happened, happened." To a degree Muu was surprised herself of how calmly she was able to mutter these words. Did she, after that uneventful meeting with Ettamri before, finally get over it? Well, she couldn't deny she couldn't keep herself from throwing some shade just now, but...

"It's not as simple as being able to pin it down on a single reason, and while you shouldn't be so certain about you being able to beat me, I'm certainly not looking for a fight. Save your strength for the task at hand." Hopefully, the giant would cease her tantrum now.

"Anyway, the reason I brought this up is simple. Ever since your... absence? I've been in a lot of parties. I've experienced it first hand. If you treat people like trash, baggage, disposables, cheap meat-shields — call it whatever you like — you're only going to endanger the mission. It's not helping these people, at all, even if it may be the truth. I've seen it. And now, with winter at hand, it's going to be that much worse." Sighing at first, Muu now smiled somewhat empty.

"Speaking of Winter, it is my first time experiencing it. I wonder if I prepared enough? I'm sure a seasoned..." What was she again? That long fancy title or whatever? "... warrior noble like you has some wisdom to share about that?"
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In the presence of the warrior-lady who parted the scattered groups of Silver Moon soldiers with her girth alone, no one noticed the shadow that trailed behind her, pensive and quiet. Despite her dark, priestly garbs and the pure white staff she clutched in her mittened hands, it was hard to see the girl as nothing more than a child, with her rosy red cheeks and her wide eyes. Well, it was hard to see her at all, when she stood 4’9, stuck up to her ankles in the snow. Shuffling forward ardently, she stopped right behind Ettamri, took a deep breath and said, “Um, ex-”

"From your garb, you seem to be a magician. Join me on the caravan escort quest."

Immediately, the girl’s eyes glittered, her face raising up. “Oh, really? Gosh, I was just about to ask if I cou… oh.” She wasn’t a magician. The big strong lady wasn’t even talking to her at all. Despondency flashed over her features, but before she could get too sad about it, she shook her head and smacked her cheeks. Round two? Round two! “Um, ex-”

"Hello, my name is Argentum and I was nearby and heard a party seems to be brewing here. I would like to ask if me and my companion could also join on this quest.”

Survival instincts immediately kicked in as the girl shut right up. Was there an order here? Was there a queue? She swayed from side to side, but with her own lack of height and the great heights of literally everyone else in this profession, she couldn’t very much tell the difference. One thing she did note though: something smelled like chicken, and now her stomach was grumbling.

"There is no objection to taking this escort quest, right? I've been to Fort Stalwart before, having participated in the battle to retake it from Tithemal and his orcs.”

Oh, wow! The young girl brightened up again. She knew Mr Mathers was super smart and all, but to think that his advice was this good? Tithemal and his orcs meant nothing to her, but from this, she could conclude at least that this big warrior lady had fought something before and survived! That was great! That was awesome! Pumping herself up again, she began side-shuffling around Ettamri. If her voice couldn’t draw the armored woman’s attention, then there was nothing to do but move herself into her field of vi-

"You stand before the Fang's Shadow, a Devoted Disciple of The Jaws of Death! Deliverer of Doom, Reaper of Sorrow, look on and rejoice all lesser creatures, for it is I, the Fiend Knight Siwon!"

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a black mass rushed up against her. Random and ostentatious and overblown as it was, the priest didn’t even realize a Fiend Knight was unleashing a killer blow upon her before it was too late; like a battering ram, Siwon’s buttocks bumped right into her, a hip thrust potent enough to send her tumbling onto the snow. Drunk on his own hubris, Siwon surely didn’t notice, and the soft ‘eep’ that escaped her as cold snow got underneath her robes was drowned out as well. With a thunderclap, Ettamri suddenly began yelling.

"Are you picking a fight, you trash?! I did not come back to be accused of leaving them to die!"

What? Why was she yelling? Did she do something wrong? Survival instincts told the young child to curl up into a ball and roll away, but no, she couldn’t do that! Mr. Mathers told her that since she was alone, she had to be brave enough to assert herself into a party! They didn’t have a priest, after all, and everyone needs a priest. “C’mon, you can do it! You can do it! I can do it!” Soft whispers became a powerful mantra as she rose up again, a bright light in her blue eyes. First off, assert dominance! A strong, independent young lady like herself isn’t going to be pushed around by anyone!

“Eyap!” With the force of an enthusiastic child with a stick, she bapped the offending Fiend Knight on the head, before stepping up, sucking in her breath and…

“If you don’t want to be accused of leaving them to die, then leave it up to me! I’m Katya, the…” "Anyway, the reason I brought this up is simple. Ever since your... absence? I've been in a lot of…” “…bestest priestess out of all the new people who came here this month! They call me the…” “…parties. I've experienced it first hand. If you treat people like trash, baggage, disposables, cheap…” “…um…Light’s Shadow, a Devoted Desple of the First Light! Deliverer of Healing, Reaper…” “…meat-shields — call it whatever you like — you're only going to endanger the mission. It's not…” “…of…Healing, look on and know that I am Katya! So I can join your party, ple- I mean, you will join MY party…” “…helping these people, at all, even if it may be the truth. I've seen it. And now, with winter at hand, it's going to be that much worse.” “…big warrior woman! And the rest of you! Because everyone needs a healer, and I’m the healer!” “Speaking of Winter, it is my first time experiencing it. I wonder if I prepared enough?” “So, ple- just do it!” “I'm sure a seasoned warrior noble like you has some wisdom to share about that?”

Oh no. Oh no.
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"No," Renauld replied to Oscar, "not at the moment. I'm freelancing for the time being." He didn't elaborate on why the sudden change in position. He also didn't really react to Oscar's bromantic skinship. He just gave an affirming 'hm' and nodded.

Renauld also refrained on commenting on the introduction of black-hair trench coat—Siwon, rather—because he just had nothing to say about it. If you had nothing nice to say...

Then the chaos began. The girl in the scarf obviously knew the armoured giant. They had some bad blood between them. Muu, as she introduced herself, was passive aggressive and goading the aggressive-aggressive giant into some sort of rage. Maybe it was an honest mistake from someone who didn't know better, but it wouldn't matter in the end. It didn't—and wouldn't—matter why a punch was thrown. The only thing that mattered was if and when that punch was thrown. If Renauld could smoothly redirect that punch 24 hours from now and aimed at a monster instead of Muu, then the less chance a guard would come and throw them all in a dungeon.

Renauld could tell that the giant was fuming. Whether it was an impotent rage or a rabid feeling of superiority didn't matter. What mattered was making sure there wasn't a fight in the middle of town. Eyes were beginning to turn on them, after all. Yelling in the middle of the square at the crack of dawn was a bad idea.

There was even a child nearby. Wait, there was a child nearby? Renauld's eyes had been too focused on Siwon, he hadn't noticed the small girl that had been hip-checked by the unknowing fiend knight. Suddenly, she rose. In the middle of Muu's passive aggressive rant, she gave a... rousing speech about joining their party. One that had the occasional bit tongue and misspoken word. It was difficult to listen to both of them, but he could get the general gist of it. Muu was poking a hornet's nest and the girl was being as brave as she could be.

He looked at Siwon and Argentum. They weren't doing anything to defuse the situation. They were merely getting out of the way. That was, in all likelihoods, the best possible move. After all, standing between someone who could lift a horse and someone brazen enough to prod them was a horrible idea.

Had Renauld possessed a greater will, he could have gotten angry alongside them. Call them both fools for fighting each other rather than the monsters. Had he been stronger, he could have stopped a fight that had broken out. Renauld was neither willful nor strong. He was just a mage in personality and ability; standing on the backlines and firing things in. Now, he was entering the frontline. He moved from beside the board to stand between Ettamri and Muu.

"I don't know what went on between you two," he said with a slight fear in his voice, "but it doesn't matter anymore. What matters is the winter and us surviving it—all of us. I believe it would be for the best if we try to just focus on the job at hand." By now, every bit of hesitation vanished from his voice. "Rather than being a part of conflict, I think it's best if we just get the supplies to the fort. The more capable hands we have, the more likely we are to succeed. I'm not going to ask you two to become best friends or to even talk to each other. I'm not going to ask you to even make amends. But I trust you both to ride on that horse and carriage and to mess up any monster that comes our way."

Such a speech felt out of character, even for Renauld. Usually, he would have simply sat by and let it run its course. This time was a bit different. He was associated with Ettamri and Muu now. If they were to start shit with each other, he would get caught in the crossfire. Unless he decided to flee from all of them, conflict was inevitable. This wasn't an attempt at mediation, though. No, he didn't offer any solution. He was just trying to get them to stop fighting until after the job was done. His livelihood was at stake, after all. Two weeks was his absolute limit for how far his money could stretch him during the winter season. 10 gold split 6, er, 7 ways was a lot. 1 gold, 42 silver each.

Slowly backing up from his sudden interjection between the two, he turned to the small child priest. He didn't really bend over or get too close. After all, one was patronizing and the other would hurt her neck. He had his issues about letting a child come along with them, but quickly resigned them. There was no other way, he figured. What business would hire a random child? It would be the only way for a girl as young as her to survive. If she was a priest, at least she could be protected. She wouldn't have to fight on the front lines. A minor consolation to the situation.

"Katya, was it? I think we're all glad to have you aboard, seeing how important healers are." He didn't even hide his attempt at flattery. "If I may ask, what spells do you possess?"
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