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For a scant few moments, the chamber was completely still.

The first thing to break this stillness was Tili, who immediately ran to her sister's side before the girl could even begin to speak and threw her arms around her, burying her face in her shoulder and sobbing. In short order, her twin sister returned the embrace, and in all honesty speaking more to them at the moment was unlikely to receive much of a response.

Fanilly took a step back, casting her eyes around the room.

"... Ah, yes, Dame Maritza, good thinking," she said, between deep breaths to try and calm her own mind. The conspirators above were dead. The mercenaries slaughtered. Had the Necromancer had even a little more room to act, he could have bolstered his forces with the slain or released his other liquid undead. But they had pressured him, and the surprise betrayal of the lightning mage had opened the path for Tili's crossbow to deliver the final blow.

They had successfully rescued the hostage and put and end to the plot to kill Princess Eliabelle.

The blonde knight-girl's shoulders sagged as she took another deep breath.

"We shall be transporting the prisoners-" she hesitated for a moment. While Tili had been coerced into her attempt on the Princess's life, that did not mean she was not still a prisoner in the end. Certainly, her sentence would be greatly lessened due to the circumstances and the fact her involvement was quite cut and dry with little room for questioning, but that fact remained undeniable.

"-so that they may be questioned. We should inform the local guard as well, so this place may be cleaned of the dead and searched for any foul sorcery or other irregularities."

Her eyes fell on the lightning mage, who had quite willingly put her hands behind her back in order to allow herself to be bound. Was the fact that the Necromancer had casually threatened to end the lives of everyone in the room, including herself, the reason she had changed her mind about fighting alongside him? Or was there more to it?

"My loyalties?" the mage cocked her head lightly, an empty-seeming smile on her face as she regarded Sir Gerard, "My loyalties were to the man who carried that axe and to myself. Most certainly not to a man whose plotting lead to his death."

The conspiracy was dismantled, and the hostage was saved.

But many questions still remained.

There would be much business to handle in the coming days.




And so, the next morning, Fanilly awoke. Her blonde hair pooling around her head, she blinked her eyes blearily before slowly sitting up and yawning. Ah... She hadn't slept in late, had she? Glancing upwards, and seeing the morning light filtering through the curtains, she decided it was unlikely that she had. With another yawn, she slid out of her bed. Her morning routine was carried out with little incident. Her maids came in while she was in the middle of trying to change herself, undressed her, brought her to the bath, cleaned her, and dressed her.

The outfit was one commonly worn by the Knight-Captains of the Iron Roses. A frilled skirt, a fine jacket, and golden epaulets. All of it was blue and white, reflective of the Order's Mayonite origins.

Fanilly proceeded downstairs.

Today, it seemed, would go without incident. They would have to sort out what to do with the Nem, but... certainly it wouldn't be like anything yesterday. As she understood, the Princess was now under heavy watch, but there had been no further attempts on her life.

Thank Mayon.

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Tyaethe Radistirin - Candaeln


From somewhere, the diminutive paladin had managed to wrangle a reasonably sizeable blackboard and set it up, along with steps so that she could actually reach closer to the top of the surface. Already drawn onto it were three childish drawings of humanoid figures, oddly contrasted with neatly written, almost scribe-like labels: alive, sapient undead, and vampire. A fourth sketch of a skeleton was left unlabelled, assuming that what it represented should be obvious based on the context. Having produced some coloured chalk, a blue ring had been drawn around the humanoid figures and a red one around the undead.

With a long pointer in hand, Tyaethe finally hopped off the steps and indicated the first group, then the second. "Can anyone tell me what these groups represent and why something would be in it?"

She was probably the smallest lecturer they'd ever see.
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~ Candaeln ~


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After the main event, the battle against the necromantic conspirators and the rescue of Tili's sister, the night seemed to pass quickly. The remaining conspirator as well as Tili, who had after all attempted to assassinate the Princess, were taken away to be interrogated and to serve their sentence, respectively. The Iron Rose Knights went back to Candaeln to rest. Jarde had ruined the armor that he had borrowed but surely, circumstances excused it right?

-

Jarde had a good night's rest, exhausted from the previous night's ordeal. He was about to his usual routine of training when he was suddenly asked to come to a lecture by Paladin Tyaethe. Jarde dutifully followed and soon found himself in a classroom with the Paladin drawing stick figures on a blackboard. The stickmen had labels: 'Alive', 'Sapient undead' and 'Vampire'. The fourth one had no label, but was a drawing of an obvious skeleton.

A circle was drawn around the stickmen 'Alive', 'Sapient undead' and 'Vampire'. Another circle was drawn, this time covering the skeleton, 'Vampire' and 'Sapient undead'.

"Can anyone tell me what these groups represent and why something would be in it?"
Tyaethe Radistirin


Jarde raised his hand, eager to answer the question. "Ahh, the first circle are living beings and the second one are..." His earlier enthusiasm faltered as he could not make heads or tails of what the second circle meant. "...dead?"
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Gillian shrugged off the glares of his companions, not really threatened by the heat of their ire. Partly because he was more or less used to such reactions and partly because...well, if they were going to actually attempt to hurt him, they would have done so."Eh. Not really a formal meeting. We're just shooting the shit as it were." he sighed, lounging back in his chair as the evening willed away into further mundane conversation.
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Gillian woke the next day, spiritually no worse for wear than the night before. Somehow he'd managed to NOT get executed in final duration of his stay as royal bodyguard, which frankly had left more than a few of his fellow knights more than a little surprised. "No faith, these people. I can have tact when I need to." he thought to himself as Tyathe wrote on the blackboard. He'd been dragged to this little lecture, ostensibly, as punishment for his behavior at the ball the previous evening. He wasn't going to complain. If the worse the Paladin was going to make him do was listen to her lecture about undead then he was getting off easy enough that just skipping out wasn't worth the effort.

Gillian stifled a chuckle at Jarde's...technically correct answer, though perhaps the wrong one for this situation. "Got it in one kiddo, but no partial credits here. The blue circle: alive, sapient undead and vampires, are all beings with active independent cognitions. Largely due to natural functions in the case of the alive subject." He said, leaning back in his chair far enough to be sitting on two legs. "For the sapient undead and vampire its because they've got something called a mana reactor....basically they're big natural storage units for life giving energy which is why they don't actively rot. As for the last one..."

"Unintelligent dead DON'T have an 'internal' source of mana. Animated either through necromancers or ambient mana in places that have seen some seriously fucked up shit. Mass graves from wars are a good example. They also don't generally use weaponry, what with being mindless, and come in a variety of interesting odors." He leans forward, his chair audibly cracking against the stone floor. "My personal favorite being 'fetid' by the by. All three undead types can be the product of necromancy, but sapient and vampires do occur naturally on their own." He added as he rattled off the cliff notes version of what little lore Parnella had drilled into his skull. Albeit he was fairly sure even THAT was abridged. "I miss anything there Ms. Radistirin?" He asked with a mock tone of a sweet school boy.
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Fleuri Jodeau


After departing the mausoleum, Fleuri returned to his own family's mausoleum to return the remaining flask. He would need to remember to inform his family to restock the cache, lest they be caught unprepared if anyone were to ever desecrate his honored ancestors. Perhaps this time we should include a blessed dagger or a magical scroll or two, he thought as he hurried back to rejoin the other knights. Before leaving, however, he checked again to make sure the entrance had remained locked and undisturbed. When necromancers were involved, you could never be too careful.

The trip back to the Crown of Thaln was uneventful, yet Fleuri spent the entire journey filled with dread. While he was still a little shaken up from the battle with Damon, he was more concerned by the realization that Gillian- that foul-mouthed, uncouth, irreverent living reliquary- was the one who had been keeping the princess company. There was no doubt that his mentor Parnella- the person whom Gillian had picked up on all of those nasty traits- would have a good laugh when she heard about this. Fleuri's embarrassment over this was such that he couldn't even look at the Crown Knights in the eyes when he returned their equipment. It was a bit of a surprise, and a relief, when he got back to Candaeln and was able to confirm that Gillian didn't manage to get himself thrown into the dungeon.

Fleuri spent the rest of the night pondering about crime and punishment. Tili would not go unpunished for her attempt to commit regicide, yet it seemed likely she'd be given some degree of leniency or mercy due to her having been blackmailed into doing it. However, it made Fleuri wonder if any of Jeremiah's bandits had similar sympathetic motives or sob stories. What about others, like that still at-large guard captain who sold her town out to bandits? Were any of them, in the committing of their crimes, simply trying to provide for or protect loved ones? Would they receive similar leniency if captured? If offered an opportunity for partial redemption like Tili was, would any of them take it?

Perhaps if he studied Reon's teachings more, he would find his answer.

---

Fleuri didn't get quite as much sleep as he had hoped, largely because he had stayed up pondering things. The next morning, while attending to his now blood-stained formalwear, Fleuri was summoned to a lecture by Tyaethe. He initially wasn't sure if it'd be about ballroom etiquette or fighting undead, but judging by the labeled figures that Tyaethe drew, it was clearly the latter. I suppose that fight with Damon could've gone better, Fleuri thought to himself. Tyaethe circled the figures, three with a red circle, three with a blue one, and asked what those groups represented.

Blue circle are sapient humanoids, red circle are undead, Fleuri wordlessly concluded, thinking back to his early education at the hands of Reonites. Jarde was the first to answer, incorrect about the first point, although it was true that sapient undead and vampires could easily pass themselves off as living beings. Gillian was the second to answer, giving a confident, long-winded, and characteristically vulgar explanation.

Why is Gillian here anyway? He wasn't part of the mission, and those Reon-blessed arms of his are probably quite effective against all variants of undead, Fleuri wondered, glancing at the living reliquary. Did he say something stupid to Tyaethe when they were conversing at the ball?

After Gillian finished, Fleuri raised his hand to give his answer. "Those in the blue circle are sapient beings. Those in the red circle are undead."

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Tyaethe Radistirin - Candaeln


"Well, you're all right... sort of," she said, cutting off any more answers could come in, though from the expression she directed at Gillian, she wasn't entirely pleased with the long-winded explanation or the unnecessary detail. "The blue circle contains entities that have a soul, which is why anyone in these three groups is able to think and act independently. You can also think of this as 'people I will get arrested for attacking in passing'."

That look was directed at the Reonites. "If you somehow identify another vampire in passing, you can't stab them just for existing. We don't need another diplomatic incident with the Academy of Meridan..."

She scratched her head, clearly trying to remember her train of thought. "Anyway, the red circle is undead, or beings animated by magic. Mindless undead are just puppeted by the magic animating them and most necromancers have no interest in using more to prevent the decay. You might find some that are well-preserved because they wanted to keep some combat proficiency, or whatever caused them to rise up is just oozing it, but in general they're going to fall apart.

"What sapient undead and vampires have in common is having so much mana that it replicates most of the functionality of the life-providing portion of the soul and keeps it anchored in place far beyond fatal injuries. Eating, sleeping, thinking, reflexes; about the only thing it doesn't emulate is growth or natural healing. Half alive, as it were, but never ageing. Sapient undead have the mana reactor Reynaud mentioned, vampires... well, it's something to do with intrinsic blood sacrifice. I don't know how, whatever necromancy did that happened before anyone except the gods remember."

"Well... probably. Some elves and undead are annoyingly old." Hearing this coming from someone over two centuries old but looking about nine wasn't all that reassuring.

"What these have in common," Tyaethe continued, underlining the sapient undead and vampires for emphasis before turning back, "Is that they always have a vast mana reserve before replenishment comes into it. All vampires did even before being turned. Even if a vampire is starving and can't possibly replace what they use, what does this tell you about the type of enemy you're going to be fighting?"
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With soft groan and a tight hiss, Maritza slowly came to, light gently streaming in through the window of her room. Despite taking a brief dip in the Candaeln's healing baths the night before the Naga was still sore. Rising form her "bed", a pair of mattresses shoved together on the floor, she looked over at her dress gambeson.

The poor garment was a mess. Covered in more than it's fair share of bloodstains, mostly other peoples; it had also been torn up in several places while protecting her from the consequences of her rampage the previous night. Shaking her head, Maritza muttered to herself with a chuckle. "Yeah, that's not gonna fly for another party."

Throwing on her usual sleeveless tunic and belt, the Naga tossed the battle-worn gambeson over her shoulder and headed out of her room in search of breakfast and hopefully a maid to help with her problem.
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Fleuri Jodeau

Fleuri listened attentively to Tyaethe's lecture.

Of course you can't just stab a vampire in passing. The correct course of action is to sic a few Lamplighters on them, allowing the goddesses to pass judgment upon them.

He was already familiar with most of what Tyaethe went over. Mindless undead and their generally pitiful physical state, sapient undead and their mana reactor, they were things his Reonite mentors taught him. He knew less about vampires, however, aside from the usual common knowledge- they were immoral ageless undead that possessed fangs with which they sucked blood from mortals to sustain themselves, they usually burned in sunlight due to Reon's hatred for them. Tyaethe was a notable exception, being only mildly inconvenienced by the sun due to Reon's higher opinion of the immortal paladin compared to most other vampires. Fleuri wasn't entirely sure if the mild discomfort that the sun continued to inflict on Tyaethe was due to the sun goddess' unwillingness to completely let go of her hatred for vampires, or if it was due to centuries worth of irreverent ranting about Reon whenever it was sunny outside.

According to Tyaethe, all vampires had vast mana reserves, even before being turned and even when starving. This was relevant to their recent scrap with Damon Cal, explaining his ability to control his own blood to piece himself together.

"It means that they have a lot of magical power, right?" Fleuri answered, raising his hand. "Does that mean that only those with sufficient stores of mana are capable of being turned into vampires?"

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Nicomede didn’t sleep well. Not from a crisis of conscience but more than misdeeds could disquiet the soul. Returning to high society, even briefly, had been novel. But it dredged up some unpleasant memories too. More, after Damon Cal.

Cleaning himself up had brought some quiet. Removing and cleaning his armor, what of it remained. Wiping away the blood, the grime, and the dirt. Cleansing it helped him cleanse himself, washing away the turmoil and the violence. Then his espada. Wiped, honed, and returned to its sheath. Then he cleaned himself, but still the disquiet remained. His banishment was an old wound, stanched if not well healed. But the fight with Damon Cal was galling. The vampire was stronger, faster, and his magic was enough to overpower the force that Nicomede could put into his own. Not surprising, perhaps, but… He needed to be stronger.

By the time he was done, spent a few fitful hours in bed, he accepted that no real rest would be forthcoming. He rose again before the sun and donned simple, functional clothes and made his way to the kitchen where he brewed a cup of tea. From the pot to the cup with only magic, a reminder to keep his skills sharp. And then he retired to the courtyard to practice. Magic, first, drilling his control with a bucket of water. Shapes, speed, movements in line with simple physical exercise.

Then it was time for the sword, once the sun began to rise. Simple movements first, escalating to footwork, sequences, and lengthier drills. He barely noticed that sunrise had come and gone.
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Gerard Segremors

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Yesterday had started with technique, borne of a furious drive to escape the shadow of a towering opponent. A spectre of a mountain looming over him, insurmountable in strength and only conquered by strategy, when not even skill could close the gap. It had pushed him to grind out cut after cut in the open air, simulating an endless horde of foes in the mind's eye as each challenged his understanding of space, his form, his speed. Replicating every fight his body had remembered, to try and refine what he could for future encounters. Structureless training, chaotic as the battlefields he had known for years.

Today, Gerard sought to further his condition. One of his strengths, he had discovered, was a refusal to relent. Practically an inability. To foster such a pressure, and overwhelming surge of force, he needed twice the endurance of his foes. To break a man with pace was to pit will and stamina against him. He had not failed in it, not yet— but that was no excuse to become complacent. If his condition tapered off, his breath would leave him.

It wasn't lost on him that he had felt like death upon their return that night. He was a man of swiftness and brutality— fighting like hell on the field and leaving nothing in reserve. Such an act would have starved him before knighthood, to take a half-measure was to receive half the pay. Undeniably effective. Undeniably taxing too, once the rush of swordplay faded.

So, at his usual waking time of just after first light, Segremors began the first of many laps round the inside of Candaeln's outer wall with his sword upon his back, forcing his burning muscles into a steady jog. If you could keep a run, or at least a trot, going for hours, your ability to march, ride, and fight would have a broader baseline. Simple wisdom of any working man— the longer you could exert yourself, the more dividends it paid down the road in your craft.

It was grindingly slow compared to the dead sprints and charges he had displayed the night before, but it was not until his dozenth circuit of the Iron Roses' massive compound that he allowed himself to drift to a stop in the courtyard, wiping sweat from his brow with the plain black shirt he used for training.

The flash of steel quickly caught his eye, drawing the young man's amber gaze as he forced his breathing back under control. Sir Nicomede. A study in contrasts with Sagramore if there ever were one— stately, poised, and refined in both court and field. He quietly observed the elder knight as he comfortably flowed through long, practiced sequences with that longer, thinner cut-and-thrust blade of his, its ornate basket hilt catching the midmorning sun as the Spada answered every question asked of it.

Actual, classical training, if he had to guess. While not quite the knightly longsword nor the rapier of the aristocracy, the Spada da lato was a fitting middle ground between the two for a man like Nicomede.

That name is familiar. Probably nobility of a sort, but more than that. I wouldn't know it through ties to the peerage.

The intelligence and awareness he knew that man to wield after the ball last night notwithstanding, Gerard decided to cut the silent act from his musing. As a matter of fact, such was all the more reason to: no way Sir Nicomede hadn't realized he was being observed.

"Morning, Sir Nicomede." he said simply after clearing his throat of the last burning that came up from the lungs. "Mind if I pick your brain a bit, since it seems we both feel like training?"

Nicomede's man-to-man battle experience he was unaware of, but he clearly knew a thing or two about strategy and swordplay as a combative art.

He drew his own sword a moment after, holding it aloft and savoring how his body handled the weight, the balance. Now that things had loosened back up a bit, he felt comfortable... Up to a point. Better than where he had left himself the morning prior, at least. As a cooldown exercise, if nothing else, he could progress through the master cuts while they talked. Begin, as always, with Oberhau. Then Mittel. Then Unter.

"If you were faced with an opponent that was poised to physically overwhelm you, how would you handle them?"
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"There is probably more to the 'selection' process as it were. Tyathe would know more on that front, but from what I've heard and read...Most aren't as forth coming with the turning process." Gill said, looking over at Fleuri and hoping he was right on that front. If it were, then he had to wonder how often vampiric coups happened in the magocracies of the world. As much time as he spent giving the vampire grief, you'd think he'd have bothered learning more about her kind. If not out of casual interest, then atleast doing his duty as knight who wielded a supposedly holy relic of the sun goddess.
"Big thing it tells me is that a head on confrontation is a bad idea, if avoidable." He huffed, looking back towards the blackboard and monitoring the paladin's for hints of disapproval. "Take a hypothetical of me and Tyaethe coming to blows. Even ignoring the...considerable experience gap..." He admitted in annoyed tone, in a rare moment of honest acknowledgement of the diminutive vampire as his better. "I'd find it a difficult task to take her out in a straight up brawl, even with my reliquary. Vampire's don't fatigue as quickly and, in addition to supernatural strength, they're not as limited in how much force they CAN apply before hurting themselves. It's like getting into a dick measuring contest with a horse." He said, rolling his arms and shaking off what few phantom bruises he had from the last time Tyaethe ever graced him with a sparing match. A memory he wasn't eager to repeat anytime soon (not that he'd back down if the challenge WAS issued).

"You're better off getting them from behind where possible. Always going for the sure kill and taking off the head. Burning what is left if there is even a slight concern if THAT didn't finish them off." He finished, snorting irritably and feeling, if one would pardon the phrase, somewhat anemic when compared to the Undead Paladin. "Fucking cheaters..." he grumbled

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~ Candaeln ~




"Is that they always have a vast mana reserve before replenishment comes into it. All vampires did even before being turned. Even if a vampire is starving and can't possibly replace what they use, what does this tell you about the type of enemy you're going to be fighting?"
Tyaethe Radistirin


"It means that they have a lot of magical power, right? Does that mean that only those with sufficient stores of mana are capable of being turned into vampires?"
Fleuri Jodeau


Jarde attempted to follow the conversation, but he simply knew too little of the world at large to effectively learn anything. If he was not mistaken, then the first circle Tyaethe drew were beings that could act independently and the second circle were classified as 'undead'. That meant that vampires and some particular undead had wills of their own, while their skeletal brethren needed a master. Jarde was quite envious of Gillian and Fleuri for knowing a lot about this.

Tyaethe's next question was that since vampires were wells of mana even before being turned, what did that mean when fighting them? Fleuri answered before Jarde could, echoing what he was about to say. Vampires had vast amounts of magic on them which means one should always watch out for magic when battling these bloodsucking undead. That said, it seemed only people with high mana reserves could be turned into vampires.

"I guess that means I don't have to worry about turning into a vampire then." Jarde quipped with a stupid grin on his face, implying his lack of magical potential. "No need to resist attacking the innocent, I'd just die immediately!" It was good to know he had a brush with actually dying when he was fighting that Damon guy.
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Tyaethe Radistirin - Candaeln


"Yes, all vampires need to have exceptional mana reserves whilst still alive and I don't know of a single exception. Unlike sapient undead, it seems to be a very consistent process," she answered, wondering if there was any point going into speculation about why that might be--not really, that was more a thing for the mage college and the details they wanted were out of her skillset, "Find someone with enough mana and all that matters after that is how determined the target is. I don't know why someone would have picked Damon Cal, but I seem to still be here because I tried to kill the one responsible."

Tyaethe turned around and started erasing her existing diagram, replacing it with a grid.


"I like to think you can categorise most vampires based on how long they've had to practice and how hungry they are. Someone who hasn't been a vampire for long won't have anything on their side beyond extra strength, so you could probably take them with a bit of caution," she said, turning around and putting her hands on her hips. "If they're an experienced warrior, they're more likely to avoid fighting when starved, but if you can force it then you just need to overcome the strength difference and any healing they can still do."

Now she seemed to be annoyed, frowning and pointing at the last column, "The problem is this lot. Charging a mage with that much experience and mana head on, or getting into some magical contest with them, is a bad idea even when stabbing them will be fatal. You can bank on some predilection towards blood related magic, since every vampire seems to have some affinity for it, but they could just as easily fill a corridor with a wall of blades. Unless you have some idea of what an unknown vampire can do or how old they are, rushing in could easily get everyone killed. You need to be prepared for magical retaliation."

Though the frown did seem to go away as she looked at the diagram again, "If you ever meet a vampire who's both a powerful mage and warrior instead of splitting the difference like Damon Cal: first, why are you near Talderia; second, don't pretend you like undead or don't mind, just be honest and try to kill her. You're more likely to live."

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Fleuri Jodeau


The words of both Gillian and Tyaethe worried Fleuri as he studied the chart. The more he learned of vampires, the more unprepared he felt about facing one again. Compared to mortals, vampires were stronger, tougher, unburdened by the effects of aging, typically more magically adept, and had more time to develop and perfect their martial skills. If a Reonite living reliquary was afraid to face one by himself, what chance would someone like Fleuri have? It wouldn't always be enough to simply overwhelm one like they did with Damon Cal- if they faced one again, they needed to be prepared.

"So what about weaknesses? What sort of countermeasures and weapons exist for tilting the odds against such powerful beings?" Fleuri asked Tyaethe. He already knew about the effects of sunlight and anything else blessed by Reon (like the vial of holy water he had thrown at Damon), but it wasn't enough. He felt that, as a devotee of Reon, he needed to find out everything there was to know about how to be victorious against Her hated undead foes.

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"Jeez...sounds like there is some history there Radistirin" Gillian huffed, looking over the diminutive vampire with a teasing expression but committing the comment to memory all the same. He didn't really want to try and tussle with someone who spooked HER of all people. Thankfully, Reliquaries weren't typically allowed to wander that far a field. Too much chance to lose their reliquaries to potential enemies of the state and all that.

"There are a few." Gill said, turning his attention back to Fleuri. "None of that old house wife shit though. Garlic, holy water, running water and the like. Vampires arent FANS of those things, but its more like an allergic reaction than a weaponizable weakness....So unless you can kill a man using his own hay fever I don't recommend."

Gillian stood and walked over to the chalkboard, taking a piece of chalk in hand as he wrote (thankfully having a deal more real estate than the undead paladin). "The most obvious, and in my mind the best method, is like I said. Sneak attacks to decapitate or shred their heart. My arms are a good example of a weapon designed for the latter." He said as he wrote 'conventional methods' and 'blessed weapons', raising his free hand as he wrote, stabbing it at chest level back towards Fleuri.

"I enter through the back or through the ribs, then...Pop" He sighed, fingers splaying violently with an violent clack of metal. "Through judicious applications of massive trauma, I'm fairly likely to get a killing blow. I also wrench my hand OUT in that position so, if I didn't manage to kill them, I've atleast taxed their regenerative ability hard enough that it gives me time to line up a second strike. At which point..." He adds, whispering quietly for a moment before his frame burst into flame.

"I fall back to a flaming offense. This is pretty much the standard for any Reon based holy weapon, though Ice based ones in the Mayon tradition DO exist." He said, letting the flames dissipate as he added 'fire' and 'ice' to the list. "Bare in mind, the source for EITHER of those two need not be divine, though weapons like that help. Conventional magic or even just good old fashion oil and a matches are also entirely effective. But if you use ice, make sure to freeze them all the way through, not around them. You want it to do as much damage as quickly as possible to slow down their regeneration."

Finally he writes 'Abjuration' on the board. "This last method is of note if you ever work in countries that are more...accepting of blood magic and necromancy. Counter spells and methods of dispelling magical effects are good for threat reduction of any caster, but it requires a lot of preknowlege in the same field as what you're countering from what I've been told." He said, writing 'unreliable' in big bold letters next to it. "Personally, I don't recommend it. A mage with enough mana to become a vampire after death isn't likely to have learned JUST one school of magic in their time. And with how broad schools of magic can be, all you're really doing is inviting the vampire to focus their attention on the caster. Which is the last place anyone wants to be. "
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"Sir Sagramore," Nicomede greeted, pivoting off of a final strike to regard the other knight head on. With the sequence complete he came to a sort of semi formal stop, not a salute nor a ready stance but not the lax stance of a layabout either. His spada pointed towards the ground, held loosely, but he did not plant its tip in the ground and rest his hands upon it as some might. It seemed almost a midpoint, a place from which to relax completely or shift seamlessly back to a guard. "Or do you prefer Segremors? O haven't had the chance to ask you."

"I'm not having much luck, so someone may as well pick it."
His welcoming smile faded, but clearly not because of anything that other knight had done. His eyes were distant for a moment before they focused again on the present, and he watched as Gerard practiced several strokes. The longsword wasn't his preference, but he was familiar with the school and he watched the practiced motions with an eye toward critique. "An enemy that was about to overwhelm me physically?"

He considered for a moment, grinding the dirt beneath the toe of his boot thoughtfully.

"That would depend, I suppose. If he was stronger than me I would aim to be faster. If he was faster I would aim to be smoother. But that only counts for mortal men and mortal women, where differences in style can be overcome through precision. Against a foe that is stronger and faster than me I would augment my sword with magic, but even that often isn't enough. Without the holy water one of our colleagues brought along I'm not sure I could have beaten the vampire. Where strength isn't enough, and speed isn't enough, and skill isn't enough, the only thing you can do is try to be smart."
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"Either works," he grunted, speaking through a frown both stemmed from exertion and from pensive processing. Had he named himself Sagramore in the man's presence? Poring through the few memories he had of interactions with Nicomede, Gellert... found nothing. Not that he remembered. Strange. First the vague sense of familiarity, and now a casual knowledge of his birth name— which as far as Gerard was aware, had been concealed to him by the usage of the more central Thalnic form. Once is happenstance. Twice might be coincidence. If there were a third factor, he was certainly onto something.

"Though, I can't claim to remember giving the first this far South. How'd you sniff me out as Magyarok? We aren't the biggest of tribes." the question was posed neutrally as he settled into the Pflug guard, golden eyes scanning his senior inquisitively as he in turn ground his heel in thought to mull over the previous query. He was an intellectual, surely— it hadn't been lost on Gerard that he was always observing his environment and fellows with an analytical eye.

Even now, such was the case, as he had casually eyed Gerard's progression through the master cuts and taken their measure. In Segremors' opinion, the world's most dangerous sommelier had beheld nothing special— much of his technique was forged in combat, and sourced second-hand by a mercenary quartermaster's worn Fechtbücher. Rough around the edges, compensating for lack of polish with violence.

Which brought him to the man's response, as he related it back to Knight's Doom. To counter strength with speed. Speed with skill. Skill with Sense. In theory, correct— leveraging whatever advantages one has against his foe, for it is a rare one that eclipses you in ever aspect. Gerard himself had found great success in following similar lines of thinking many a time— as would anyone who faced combat regularly and lived. And yet... remembering that fight, that looming sense of a snapped blade and imminent death...

"Interesting how it all plays back into itself." he breathed, raising to an ochs guard slowly as he searched Nicomede's expression. "For if I were faced with a foe smarter than me, such as yourself, my instincts are to crush him before he can think. Allow no time to plot, no time to settle, no time to breathe."

The shadow of the mountain loomed over him again.

"It's hard to be smart when faced with a raging storm, Sir Nicomede. At the very least, I found it so."
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"The dialect is somewhat familiar to me. Nothing I would call myself fluent in, but I remember how some of the names out of the northwest were rendered in the more common tongue. I guessed." Nicomede met the younger man's evaluating gaze with a frank, wry smile. Something was flickering at the back of his mind and he could guess what it was, not that he intended to explain. There was no reason that he couldn't. To conceal it was to his the depths of his failure, so within the Durant domain it had been trumpeted far and wide. If Gerard had passed that way he would have heard. But in its own way that made failing to acknowledge it its own rebellion; a small, symbolic defiance of his fate. "They used to come to the market."

"But I think it's most important to think in the face of the storm. Thinking gets a bad rap."
The younger knight's form wasn't bad, but it certainly had its rough edges. Nothing lacking in diligence, nothing resulting from sloppy work, but imperfect as though learned a step removed. Taught by someone who had himself once seen someone else taught. Flaws had crept in through the repetition, and he compensated for them by being faster, stronger, and more violent than the other guy. "You always have time to think, even if it isn't a lot of time. If you don't think at all you can find yourself in a situation with no way out. Anything beyond a personal fight will always need a touch of strategy."

"Can I show you something?"
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Tyaethe Radistirin - Candaeln


The vampire definitely seemed annoyed at someone writing directly over her, as if it wasn't already obvious enough how tiny she was next to the rest of the knights. Even if she were to appear older... well, she was still looking up towards the Captain and wasn't that annoying? Sometimes she wondered if there should be a maximum height imposed...

"You're broadly right; the housewife tales have a basis but it's just some vampire-by-vampire story getting blown out of proportion. Someone had an allergy, someone else only preyed on their friends, only an idiot would try to swim across a raging river, regeneration or no. Things like that," Tyaethe said, returning to lecture mode and raising the hand with the pointer authoritatively.

"In general, these could be considered universal anti-regeneration and anti-healing tactics. Any injury inflicted by fire is more difficult to heal, especially if the body part is burned to ash, whilst encasing in ice likewise blocks regeneration. The easiest healing is to simply reattach the offending body part; another reason many vampires focus on blood magic. Injuries to the heart should stop almost all enemies, and if you can keep someone's head away from their body then they die soon enough."

Jumping a little to reach, she scratched some amendments, specifically where holy items were concerned. "Any blessed weapon will be effective against the undead and stymie regeneration, it needn't be a flaming one. My sword would be an example, holy water can be considered a very low-intensity version of the same."

"Magic..." to this, she shrugged, "It's not worth considering; you should know whether or not you even have the ability to attempt it, and I'm guessing you don't. If you find yourself vampire hunting, then it's worth seeking out a competent mage."

She paced back and forth for a few seconds before looking at the small audience, "What I want you to take away from this is that rushing into combat with the various magical monsters of the world without thinking is incredibly risky. A powerful black wizard might not have any of the regeneration but they could make it impossible to even get close. Intelligent undead of any stripe will outlast you even if they don't have experience or vast magic. An elven Royal Guard has probably spent centuries training and on the post, even if most of their soldiers are drawn from the citizenry training in their spare time. Dragons..."

Tyaethe trailed off before grinning with a shrug, "Ah, don't worry about dragons. I like dragons."

@ghastlyInc@Crimson Paladin@PaulHaynek
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"With respect, Sir Nicomede, ours is a trade of inches and instants." came the inevitable riposte, as Gerard turned to face the other man fully. Something about that grin told him that he'd been, whether he'd meant to hide or otherwise, found out in his probing. That the deeper answer he sought was locked yet away, even if the fencer deigned to elucidate upon that which was said. Hm. Once again, it seemed proof that he had not the foresight to play such games with words...

"Surely you know as well as I that action and reaction are a world removed from contemplation."

Best keep to what he knew until he did.

It was initiative on the field that had kept him alive thus far. Each time he had ripped his life free from the battles he'd thrown it into, it had been off the back of his courage, tenacity, and split-second action. If he had stopped to contemplate Elva Fraus, her crimson lightning would have cooked him. If that man in the Bandit camp were a second sharper than he, his name would be listed alongside Rickart as a casualty, crossbow bolt through the eye. Had he not stood firm in the face of blinding heat and light, he'd have never even nicked Jeremiah. Readiness came from instincts, refined to a hair trigger. Perhaps Nicomede was the type of man to call that a form of "thinking"... But Gerard had his doubts.

His crossguard continued to float near his brow.

"By all means. If I may learn."
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