Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by HereComesTheSnow
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Unreal.

Gerard grit his teeth as that impossibly huge mass of metal turned his blade aside with ease. Even at the start of its wide arc, the Bandit King's strength was beyond belief, as though the young knight had thought to stab a hurricane. Truthfully, he was lucky to have been the first man parried— once all that weight got going to real speed, there was no doubt in his mind that Jeremiah would have snapped his humble longsword clean in half. "Knight's Doom Jeremiah"... He had, in one swing, deflected all of their attacks, not just Segremors' own. Be it hard-earned skill, ferocious instinct, or that truly nightmarish combination of both at once, the man had something beyond mere brute strength. That much was clear.

"Fine, I'll take you all on!"

All of that with one hand, no less. One hand, the other unable to properly grip his blade, and still fighting viciously enough to force that heap of metal around into another blindingly powerful arc. Bad. Gerard had fully committed to that thrust coming out of the roll, putting every ounce of strength he had into covering that distance with one long strike. Even though the massive fighter had knocked his sword off course, the knight himself still had all of that momentum propelling him inward— and straight into the middle to long distance that Jeremiah's blade smashed through with wild abandon.

He knew, having seen the speed at which the man moved firsthand, that starting and stopping and starting again spelled certain death. Catching his own momentum and changing direction now, when the other man's blade was already moving— he would not get out of the way in time. Gerard had trained enough, he had fought enough, to know this.

He knew that nothing he could do would alter that thing's course. Interposing his blade between Jeremiah's would have normally worked, if the Bandit King had been using even a "normal" greatsword, but against this monstrosity that tore through a full harness of plate in one cleave it would stand no chance. If another one of those thunderous arcs came, he would not have the good fortune of meeting it before it had full extension, full power.

He knew that he was by all rights dead if he took defensive action. No time to reposition, not enough durability to block or parry, a very slim chance of changing levels that would only leave him open to a follow-up. There was no defense, no ultimate protective measure, that he could take... Save one.

An old philosophy hammered into him at an even greener point than where Jarde or Fanilly stood now. The first thing he learned to keep himself alive as a mercenary. Something any artful swordsman would call crazy, any traditional duelist would see as mad beyond reason. As simply as you could boil it down:

Stop the enemy's attack by killing them.

"Fire."

It all happened at once.

Rather than retreat, than stop himself, Gerard stepped forward, riding the force of his initial drive off of the ground.

Artificer Elodie, from within some concealed position to the front of them all, sprung forth, holding one of her inventions that was aglow with arcane might, filling the peripheral of his vision with a crimson luminescence to match the flaming log on the other side. Steely and determined, she levelled the device at their foe.

Rather than fight the momentum of his parried sword, Gerard welcomed the motion, using the lateral force as a starting point to seamlessly draw a clockwise arc over himself, blade glinting with decisive intent as it soon returned to his strong side.

Bandit King Jeremiah, rather than following his prior whirlwind with another bone-crushing, wide swing, stabbed his blade deep into the earth at his feet. Gritting his teeth in a pained, enraged snarl, he used that one good arm of his to wrench it through the dust and soil, kicking up a cloud that quickly began to obscure his form.

Across Gerard, on the other side of that mountainous man, Renar Hagen's taciturn appraisal of the exchange of blows had come to an end. The poleaxe-wielder was charging straight in, much the same as he, with the deadly tip of his weapon primed and ready to lash out from maximum range in one definitive strike. Knowing him, he too intended this to be a gamble on putting their enemy away for good.

Using all of that rotational velocity, drawing power from both Jeremiah's parry and his own muscle, Gerard cast his own die on this final thwarting hew. If it meant putting an end to this, he would willingly force his luck. He did not don armor to avoid danger.

That was the last the young knight saw of any of them, before the world before him became sound, force, and flame.

The artificer's rod had produced an explosion from its maw that fully engulfed "Knight's Doom", assaulting him with a blast that could have very well knocked aside a fortress wall— to say nothing of the man's attempted smokescreen. The roar of fire and wind howled in his ears, the dust he had kicked up blew back in his face, the sudden burst of light had doubtlessly blinded him. A blast like a barrel of gunpowder, focused and given direction straight at the Bandit King.

It had very nearly engulfed Gerard himself, but he didn't care. It would have been nobody's fault but his own, and it was less important than the opening it had given him. Light to conceal his form and blade, a burst of sound to mask his armor and footfalls in the approach. There would be no better opportunity today than this.

Perfect timing.

Reon bless her.

Now take it.

Squinting through the light that engulfed his field of view, braced against the wind and heat that blasted against his body, a raw howl escaped his lips as he brought the blade through where he knew Jeremiah's side to have been with every ounce of his being.
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Crimson Paladin
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Fleuri Jodeau

Fleuri drove the two bandits further back, swinging his sword and dagger with seemingly wild abandon. He was determined to ensure they would neither escape nor come to their leader's aid. The brigands had the sense to stay out of the reach of his greatsword, and continued to back away from the aggressive knight. One of them seemed to be looking for an opening, several times stepping forward in hopes of striking Fleuri while his greatsword was being swung back around. Every time she did, however, Fleuri stepped forward as he swung his dagger, threatening to strike her if she drew any closer, causing the bandit to shrink back rather than take the risk.

"Perhaps it would be a good time to surrender?" the other, more wary bandit asked as Fleuri's swings slowed and his aggressive assault subsided.

"Why? So you can have another week of life before you're hanged from the gallows?" the other berated him. "Or even worse, whatever Jeremiah will do to you after he's finished with their captain? Look, our foe is already tiring. Work with me and we'll take him down."

Indeed, Fleuri's movements were slowing. He was momentarily fatigued, for sure, and assumed a more defensive stance. The more aggressive bandit moved around to Fleuri's right, seemingly intent on giving her companion an opportunity to flank him.

"Are you paying attention?" the other bandit shouted, "Even Jeremiah can't kill all of them! And even if he kills their captain and calls that a win, it won't save us!" Fleuri breathed a sigh of relief beneath his helmet upon realizing the man's panicked hesitation.

This might not be as hard as I anticipated, No, not nearly as hard, he noted as he noticed a knight approaching the female bandit, unnoticed.

"Then if you're going to die, die with a weapon in your hand, not with shackles on them," she indignantly shouted, her rage with her companion's cowardice and wariness of Fleuri blinding her to the approach of the fourth combatant. "And maybe take down a few of our killers with...aaahh!"

The approaching Iron Rose knight skewered the bandit woman on her sword, and tossed her expiring body to the side. "Do you need any help, Sir Jodeau?"

"Affirmative, knight-sister," Fleuri nodded, turning to who looked like he was ready to soil himself.

"I surrender!" the brigand cried, dropping to his knees and throwing his axe to the ground. "I don't care if I'll hang, I just don't want to cut in half!"

The second Iron Rose Knight tied up the capitulating foe while Fleuri watched their backs. "It looks like some of them aren't giving up," Fleuri observed. "Let's leave him and take care of the rest."

As he rushed to join the battle to contain the bandits, Fleuri wondered how Fanilly and the other knights were faring against Jeremiah. Depending on how fanatical he was in his hatred of Thaln, a man like Jeremiah might consider it a victory simply to kill the captain, even if most of the knights survived and he and his entire gang were wiped out. Or perhaps he was a megalomaniac with dreams of ruling his own kingdom.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by VitaVitaAR
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Suddenly, fire had engulfed Jeremiah. For a few moments, Fanilly didn't even understand what had occurred, until she realized that the blast had come from the artificer, Elodie. She stepped back, out of range of the raging flames, her blade held at the ready. Surely, surely, he was going to perish swiftly now, wasn't he? That intense fire, his entire body engulfed in it, surely there was no way even a man as enormous and powerful as Jeremiah could survive such an attack.

And yet...

Even wreathed in flames, he was still standing. With a roar of pain and rage, he raised his enormous sword.

"I'LL KILL ALL OF YOU!" her snarled, bringing it down with enough force to shatter the earth beneath his weapon, forcing Fanilly to spring back. This man's tenacity, he was still standing, still fighting, even as his entire body burned No wonder he had been able to slaughter three hundred people in a single battle! But that tenacity meant nothing. They were the Iron Rose Knights, and a monster in the shape of a man like Jeremiah had to be stopped here and now!

He raised his sword once more, his barely-visible eyes burning with fire even as his entire body burned too. It was as if the flames had simply enraged him even further... but they'd also blinded him! There was no way he could see clearly, and with the combination of attacks targeted at him now...!

His blade swung in an arc. Fanilly immediately ducked low, feeling it sail over her head, the edge hurtling just past her, wind rushing through her hair. The heat on her face from the inferno... But there!

Her blade bit into his armpit, below his arm, and sank deep inside. At that moment, the blows struck by the other knights hit home, though one pierced lower then expected, through his chest as Jeremiah leaned back. Needless to say, burning and pierced all over his body, Jeremiah was not going to survive.

"... Damned... magic..."

Fanilly drew back.

The huge man's body began to fall.

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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by ghastlyInc
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Gillian


Gillian had followed Tyaethe's lead when the charge had started, comfortably jogging behind the vampire as she tore into the bandits with contemptible ease. It took all of about thirty seconds before he became bored of the whole..brawl wasn't really a word. These bandits were an honest to Reon joke. "Kerfuffle." He said to himself, deciding that was the more apt phrase as he darted away from the evolving melee, only just catching a quick glimpse of something akin to sexual climax flash in the vampire woman's eyes as she spotted her next victim. ...good for her.

Darting into the small labyrinth of tents (now somewhat bisected by a tree fire) Gillian found little resistance, but he'd largely accepted that was going to happen. Adding further to the slaughter was hardly going to be productive, and with Tyaethe around...he didn't really see much point into finding this Garry-mima or whatever his name. The more pressing (or atleast interesting) matter to attend to was freeing the hostages of the bandits before they were endangered further. Either from the fire or the bandits.

"Mayon's slick button Garric hurry up!" someone yells over the din of combat, drawing Gillian's attention as he skidded to a halt to duck behind a small stack of crates. Peering over he spied a trio of bandits, attempting to smother a small blaze that had begun to encroch on their tent. "I'm trying man!" One of them whines, presumably the aforementioned Garric. "This is bullshit. If those whores die Jeremiah's gonna fucking kill us..." he continues, throwing a heavy blanket over a growing patch of flame.

"Correction. He'll kill you. I aint fuckin' telling him." the third says, standing guard with his spear held casually to his side while his companions worked to snuff the flames before they became a problem. "The fuck I got to tell him?" Garric whines back, shooting the spearman a heated glare. "Cause fuck you. I'm a virgin, I got shit to live for." The spearman snarks back, smoothing back his dirty blonde hair.

"Cram it both of ye." The oldest among them barks, smothering the last of the blaze before wiping the sweat from his forehead. The other two go quiet as he reaches into his pocket, pulling out a small set of keys. "We're movin' the three of 'em to the meetin' spot." He says, voice firm with a borrowed authority.

"Actually..." Gill says, stepping out from his hiding spot and watching as the two of the three men draw their weapons. The oldest, a human with salt and pepper hair mumbled darkly to himself, though it was impossible to hear him at this distance. "I think I'll take ove-." He says, his stride towards the trio being interrupted as he threw himself to the ground, narrowly dodging a spear of ice as it flung itself from the oldest mans hand.

"Sloppy." He thinks, quickly standing to meet the other two as they charged him. The third remained back to begin his chanting again. He should have known better. The crossbowmen from earlier were clue enough that these bandits weren't without their few brighter minds. He'd written off a witch being among their ranks out of arrogance and only Parnella's panache for surprise attacks and the mans lack of aiming experience had saved him from an embarrassing death.

The spearman was the first to close the gap, planting his feet firmly and thrusting. Gillian swatted the blow aside, before stepping back as Garric charged in, swiping at him with surprising speed. "They've got training." Gillian noted, throwing an elbow that clipped Garric's shoulder and sent him into a roll before returning to his feet. Not the sort of recovery a bandit just learns through trial and error.

Gillian swatted away another thrust by the spearman, who had circled to the left to cut him off from charging the witch. "And they're familiar enough to work as a group." he thought, having to quickly draw his arms in to block another swing from the swordsmen. Normally he'd just set himself on fire and tear through them. But...the risk of setting the tents on fire and accidentally killing one of the prisoners made that not an option.

As much as it pained him to admit it, and though he doubted it was an intentional manuever on the bandits part, they'd actually manage to put him into something of a bind. The spearman and swordsmen's spacing and pressure were perfect. They lacked the technique to really land a blow on him, but he couldn't really deal with one without the other attacking and diverting his attention. The witch though...that was a different problem. That spell wasn't exactly high art, even to Gillian's rather abysmal knowledge of the arcane, but it had power behind it.

Looking over at the old man, it was clear that it wasn't without its draw backs. He was still chanting, carefully attempting to muster forth the energy needed to cast the spell again. So smart enough to know how to cast, but not smart enough to know how to fine tune his control. Good. That was a weak link Gillian could exploit.

Gillian kept on the defensive, blocking blow after blow as the two martial bandits slowly drove him back, only occasionally swipping out at his assailants. "Fuckin hell Barnaby!" The spearman yelled as his spear pinged off Gillian's arms once again. "You fucking napping back there? Kill him already!" He added, stepping back as Garric rushing the knight, swinging for Gillian's neck.

Gillian had to resist the urge to thank the nameless spearman for being so kind as to provide a cue, stepping back out of the blades reach and shooting his hand forward, clipping Garric across the shoulder once more and sending him into a roll towards his companion.

Barnaby the witch flung his spell forward, a lance of frozen hate propelling itself towards its target...before slamming into the back of Garric, who was just popping up from the roll he'd just entered. Gillian took in the look of shock on the poor swordsmen's face as his eyes glanced down at the blossoming pain in his chest before he crumbled to his knees, the ice lance wedged between his ribs holding him aloft as his torso began to lean forward.

His surprise spread to the spearman, who turned his gaze away from Gillian to shout at his remaining ally. The knight wasted no time in rushing the distracted man, his three clawed hand slamming itself through the mans throat and silence the protest before it began.

Barnaby stared at the scene for a moment, his knees buckling from beneath him as the last of his mana left him. His eyes widdening as the knight before him inched closer, a demented grin spreading across his lips. "So as I was saying..."

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

Escorting the prisoners to the edge of the camp was uneventful...if a bit worrying. In the tent Gillian only found three of the four supposed hostages. Bruised and perhaps a bit irritable from their rough treatment, but otherwise healthy enough to follow him to the camps perimeter. It was a boring couple of minutes, mostly consisting of the older woman reassuring the girl that they were safe now that the knights were here and no, the man covered in gore who let them out is definitely not a bad person. Gillian wanted to argue that point, if only to kill time as he watched the melee unfold before them.

All in all, not a horrible showing by the baby captain for her first venture...he supposed. Admittedly by the time Gill had brought the three to safety the fight against the bandit leader had descended into an obscenely one sided dog pile. The lone male prisoner, a fine dandy of a man with a well trimmed mustache that seemed no worse for wear despite his capture, seemed somewhat amused by the whole display, asking Gillian if the Roses were always this passionate when they, quote, 'saw fit to bring low the enemies of goodliness.'

Gillian really didn't have the heart to tell him that this was them exercising restraint...
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by PaulHaynek
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~ The Bandit Camp ~


The Bandit King repulsed all their attacks with one, wide swing from his humongous blade. Jarde backflipped away to increase distance and avoid any counterattack possibly attempted.

Now it was Jeremiah's turn to attack. He drove his blade unto the ground and kicked up quite the dust cloud to obscure his next powerful swing. Aimed at who, the obscuring cloud of dust and debris made it hard to tell. Nevertheless, Jarde was ready and acted as if it was aimed at him. He wouldn't be surprised if it was, he looked the most easiest to kill among the knights.

Suddenly, Jeremiah just... exploded. Jarde had to raise his arms to shield his eyes and himself from the abrupt blast and so did not see the actual explosion. Next he saw, the Bandit King was covered in flames. Someone must have cast a spell of some sorts to set the Bandit King on fire. Jarde kept his distance, not wanting to catch on fire from the raging inferno that was now Jeremiah.

But it was not over, Jeremiah stood still seemingly undaunted by the flames. He roared his declaration, yelling that he would kill them all and swung his massive blade down upon Fanilly. The Knight Captain sprung back to avoid it and that was all Jarde needed to get moving again. The Bandit King may already be good as dead but he could still take one or some of the knights down with him and that will not do.

Jeremiah swung at Fanilly again but she avoided it with a timely duck and retaliated with a stab through the lower arm. The others had made their strikes as well with Jarde going for the human being's most common weakness. He leapt with his sickles and swung them into Jeremiah's neck, the two weapons driving into the Bandit King's flesh. Jeremiah was still burning though and the flames stung at Jarde, forcing him to pull away immediately.

The young knight's short range weapons meant he had to get really close for the attack. So close that parts of his apparel caught fire, Jarde only realizing it once he pulled away. "Ah! Ah!" Fortunately, he managed to put them all out before they spread and grew too strong via some vigorous patting and blowing.

Jeremiah, the Bandit King, Knight's Doom, began to fall. He was finally dead.

Jarde sighed in exasperation as he released his sickles, letting them hang from his arm. "He's dead, right?"
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by HereComesTheSnow
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"We should hope." came the weary affirmation from Gerard, blade still very much in hand. "Maybe not totally dead yet, but if he could survive a thrashing like that, it would simply be inhuman."

He had once again sobered with the finality of the blow and subsequent fall of Jeremiah. He felt the lightness and heat in his chest and frame leaving him, his fullness of reason returning. The battle was by all means won, and there was no need to match its heat within himself. He breathed deep as he took a step back from the burning man's frame, pulse following closely behind his departing fierceness.

He had felt the resistance giving way beneath his sword when he'd swung, even through the roaring flame of the Artificer's blasting rod. Skin, muscle, viscera— he had not swung through empty air, surely. He doubted, though, his ability to point out the wound he had left upon the Bandit King's body. Somewhere upon his left side, of course, but the man was still covered in lingering flames and embers. There would definitely be no bloodflow to attribute to his name. Fire had a way of welding wounds closed much as it could steel.

However, it did nothing to mend the torn structure beneath.

"So saying, is everyone well?"

He had little time nor presence of mind to extend his concerns for the others before this point— one of the many reasons he was a devout Reonite, after all, was that the Sun Goddess's philosophy of whole-heartedly taking down the evil before you meshed well with him. He had turned all his focus onto "Knight's Doom" and ending him rightly from the moment he'd seen the man, after all. The chaos that followed did little to give him any opportunity to divide his attention elsewhere.

Though... It's not as if I am much good for more. I hold no shield to protect with. I would have likely died if I hadn't given my whole being to the fight. With how easily he cut through our fellows... This was the right path for me. So I believe.

He would still have much further to go and much more to learn before embodying the chivalric ideal he dreamed of, but he had made sure the task at hand was done today. As he regarded the burning body of that titanic murderer with slowly steadying breaths, he offered what small prayer he could muster to the Goddesses for the man's twisted soul.

It was a good deed to strike down the wicked. That was why he had joined this Order.
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Elodie kept her eyes on the Bandit King as well. Despite being aflame and injured, the man certainly did put up an effort to not go down like a pig. Which he did anyways, once the rest of the knights stuck him full of holes and his boiling blood steamed out. It didn't make for a pleasant smell, for sure. Three hundred knights slain, but the mountain of a man must have never encountered a mage worth their salt. Lucky piece of shit. Her brown eyes, underneath the opaque lenses of her goggles, flickered towards Tyaethe, before shrugging.

"Pigs don't talk shit and swing slabs of scrap metal," Elodie said blithely, "And I got four more shots."

With that, she strolled towards the smouldering body of the Bandit King, casually assembling a halberd out of her Blasting Rod. Runes were connected and remade, the moon-sickle edge sparkled against the fire-light surrounding them all, and with a tight breath, the brunette hefted her weapon up onto her shoulders. She shifted her footing a little bit, and then, remorselessly, casually, beheaded the blackened remains of the Bandit King.

The executing axe sank deep into the earth, slicing through bone and flesh as if it were naught but a rotted log. Her brow furrowed at the stench, but that was the extent of Elodie's disgust. "Well, now we know for sure." A lax comment directed towards Gerared, before her gaze was upon their Knight-Captain once more.

"Should be easy enough to lift now. Care to offer them a surrender, Fanny?"
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Tyaethe Radistirin


The paladin just rolled her eyes, swinging the sword onto her shoulder as the carnage came to a standstill, "Don't say I didn't warn you; there's worse than him out there and I can't fight them all." Not for want of trying, but it was simply impossible to be everywhere there was a strong opponent or the like.

Red eyes scanned the increasing gloom of the camp, noting that everything seemed to have come to a halt now. Whatever resolve the remaining bandits might have had was definitely broken with the collapse of their leader and they were just standing around awaiting their fate. Good thing that she wasn't in charge of prisoner management, that was always pretty boring.

Tyaethe kept pace with Elodie, looking at the fallen Bandit King and his opponents, "We've definitely got room for improvement. Should have only needed two of you at most."

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A wet and heavy crunch sounded, as Artificer Elodie took it upon herself to expediate the death of Jeremiah, to leave no doubt as to whether or not he still drew his final breaths. Beyond a mild bunching up of her brow, the woman showed no great emotion in the act— nor had Gerard in witnessing it. They were both veterans of combat, and for all of his adoration of the ideals of knighthood, the sight, sounds, and stench of death would never elude them. Even the most righteous, lionhearted, and merciful knight was still a warrior who donned armor and rode to battle.

Fair enough.

He would be wrong if he denied having the thought cross his own mind, but while he shared her disdain for the man and willingness to fight him with full intent to kill, it seemed she did not share whatever it was that stayed his hand. He wasn't sure what that restraint stemmed from, either; he knew he'd been ordered to stab corpses as a mercenary before and did so without issue. He certainly didn't balk at the thought— it had kept countless men alive in war. He had plied battles as his trade for seven years.

Maybe his expectations of himself as a knight were unrealistic.

...He would consider that once they were done here. The unofficial surrender of a majority of the bandits was already unfolding before them— their young Captain's command was likely all anyone was waiting for. It was simple enough when you said it, but that was still a lot of weight upon small, inexperienced shoulders.

Well, she hadn't abandoned her role nearly so much as he, once the rightward detachment had entered the fray.

"I definitely still have much to learn." he responded to the diminutive and ancient Paladin's frank review of the engagement. "Though compared to your experience, I fear I always will."

He wouldn't demur that fact either. If he was to lead again, he could not lose sight of the task so easily. That they faced little more than thugs outside of the Bandit King would not be a privilege he could count on in the future. If skilled troops met skilled troops, it would be the chain of command that utilized theirs better that won the day. He knew that he would need to be ready for that in his future. He believed himself so as one of those fighters, at least, before today.

But now that he had both met this man, who quite possibly overshadowed him in battlefield ability, and been chosen, be it just as a matter of haste on Fanilly's part or otherwise, as someone embedded within that chain of command— he could be much less prepared than he had believed just an hour before.

The ride back would be a contemplative one, victorious or not.

Oh, speaking of.

"Sir Jarde— I still owe you a horse, don't I?"
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Fleuri Jodeau

Fleuri advanced upon the remaining bandits ahead of the other encircling knights, sword in hand. Most of the flank leaders had gone to confront Jeremiah, but the remaining knights didn't seem to need any special instructions. It was fairly simple at this point- kill the bandits, don't let any of them escape, and rescue any prisoners in the camp.

He was unsure of how the battle with Jeremiah was playing out, but the continued lack of his presence on the rest of the battlefield did not bod well for the Three Hundred Man-Slayer. The brigand had probably expected, or at least hoped, for him to slaughter his way through the encircling knights and from there lead them to another victory. Unfortunately for them, no such help arrived, and with the Iron Roses assailing them from all directions, there was little hope of survival, let alone victory.

He did not let down his guard, however. While some were surrendering in hopes of bargaining for a few more days of life, others would likely fight for their lives like cornered beasts. Such was the consequence of completely encircling them, but Fleuri saw the reasoning in the captain's choice to do so. The Iron Roses were warriors without peer, not trackers, and their ability to defeat a band of cornered bandits was far greater than their ability to track down and catch those that would otherwise flee.

By Mayon, by Reon, and by the crown of Thaln, it is our duty to ensure that none of these murderous marauders escape justice for their crimes, he silently told himself, as he steeled himself for the fighting to come.
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Fanilly winced when she saw the axe come down and remove Jeremiah's head. But, in the end, it wasn't an incorrect move. To bring a stop to the fighting immediately, and to ensure such a monster was truly dead... That was an ideal way to swiftly end this conflict.

The Three Hundred Man Slayer had desired nothing more then death and violence, and the eradication of an entire Order of Knights. For what purpose? What reason? Fanilly couldn't fathom it. It simply wasn't something she could understand. Was it pride? Was that the reason for this?

In the end, Fanilly had no way of knowing, and she wasn't sure if the answer would have been anything she wanted to hear.

In the end, Jeremiah perished at the hands of the order he had sought to destroy.

Striding towards the no-longer burning log, Fanilly spotted a good handhold on the thick trunk. Placing her hands upon it, she pulled herself up and got her feet under herself, standing where she could be seen fully.

"Your leader lay dead, bandits," she began, her voice high and clear over what little fighting remained, "Lay down your arms."

Moments later, any of them that remained fighting were in their knees in surrender. Fanilly took a deep breath. It had quickly become clear to her what had happened here. On their own, the bandits were weak and unskilled. But with Jeremiah as their leader, he had bolstered their wills. The whole time all he thought of was killing the Iron Rose Knights, however, and when he finally had a chance at his goal he abandoned them to whatever fate they would meet.

"We have met victory. These criminals have either been slain, or subdued, and will never hurt another innocent again," she began, "Well done, Iron Roses. But first..."

"I need a report from each flank leader I have not already spoken to, and we must arrange transport for the wounded in order to return home."

Fanilly knew at least one soldier had died, but she could not be certain if any others hand. She felt a pang of sorrow at the thought of the man who had been sliced in half, and the potential fates of others if they had perished, but felt hopeful that Jeremiah's victim was the only casualty. No-one aligned with the Roses should have died here, but hopefully it was only one man.

She was trying to think as positively as possible. To be thankful that, from her position on the log, it seemed as if there had only been one casualty. But that man had still died. Nothing could change that.

... Was it her fault? Could she have done something better and saved his life...?

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Tyaethe Radistirin


"You've got my report. You're pretty good, could be better; enough of a grasp of tactics to handle this lot. Just don't have us charge uphill in a thunderstorm in swampy weather and it's good," Tyaethe stated, shrugging again and turning away from the battlefield. Was the paladin supposed to assist with corralling the surrendered and managing the dead? Probably, but she didn't think there was anyone that could make her.

Nor was she particularly good at it when she only came up to everyone's chests. Manifesting armour just to help with logistics was a pain.

She'd just go check on their supplies and prepare for the trip back to the capital.
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"I'm sure there is," Elodie replied sardonically. "Got Three Hundred Man Slayers popping up like rabbits these days, huh?"

Whatever conversation they'd have on the durability of mortal flesh would have to wait though; the bandits had surrendered quite handily, and now all that was left was the drudgery of binding them up and transporting them to the capital, where their necks shall meet the kiss of an executioner's axe. Dismantling her Blasting Rod once more, the artificier went off and began busying herself with her own work as well, picking through the battlefield and wrestling good steel out of the hands of bad men.

Can never get enough material for her work, after all.
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~ The Bandit Camp ~


Interacted with: @HereComesTheSnow


Jarde flinched when Elodie sank her axe unto the Bandit King's neck, decapitating the corpse. Now they know that Jeremiah was really, certainly, most definitely dead. The stench of dead flesh permeated the air and Jarde found it best to vacate the vicinity.

Moments later, Fanilly climbed atop the burning log from earlier, now doused, and announced to the entire camp that Jeremiah the Bandit King was dead and that the rest of the bandits, what's left of them anyway, should surrender and not make things worse for themselves. What little fighting remained immediately halted. The Iron Rose Knights stood triumphant this day. Not that there was any question.

Now it was the aftermath, wrapping things up. The Captain had begun speaking to the flank leaders as the rest of the order began tending to their wounded, securing the prisoners and preparing transport. Jarde was reminded that his horse, very unluckily, died when this whole thing started. He figured there was a free horse here somewhere that he could use and his eyes began scanning. Surely there was one since this was a bandit camp with all the bandits dead and gone.

"Sir Jarde— I still owe you a horse, don't I?"
Gerard Segremors


"Haha! You do, don't you?" Jarde laughed as he remembered the earlier offer. "My thanks, sir. Don't mind if I do."
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He chuckled in kind with Sir Jarde, before giving a small nod to the blonde jokester knight.

"I'll see to it, then."

He was fairly certain he'd noticed at least one or two tied up near a fence, but if push came to shove— his own was well-behaved enough to manage a different weight on his back without trouble. Walking alongside the caravan wasn't something Gerard would mind overmuch— a long march in armor was, in a way, good for the soul. Nice and humbling. Good time for introspection.

Though he would certainly miss the wind through his coal-colored hair. So sticky...

He returned his gaze to Captain Fanilly, meeting her eyes for a moment before he spoke. They seemed... searching. As though attempting to puzzle out an answer that continued to elude her.

So that was what it looked like from the outside, then?

Probably not. Her responsibilities were a wholly different beast from his idly daydreaming.

"As for our flank, we largely fell upon them like wolves, Knight-Captain." he began his report with an affirming nod, in spite of his mouth having settled into a much more stoic line than moments prior. "No real unexpected resistance, and nothing I believed any one of our number couldn't handle. I'll have to verify it wholly now that the battle is done, but before I..."

It fell further, into a bit of a frown. He'd lost sight of his position quickly. Worth acknowledging, but he didn't need to put distrust of her own choices in the girl's head. Not now,in the direct aftermath. Emotions ran high, everyone questioned whether their decisions could have been made better... it would be ill-advised to press the issue before she had a chance to really process everything. He had seen companies of fighting men fall apart many times when their leaders hadn't the necessary faith in their judgement.

The Iron Roses would not be one such.

"...rushed to be the tip of the spear, as it were— we suffered no casualties to our number. None that I could see. If that's all you need from me right now, ma'am..." he started forward, stepping one leg up onto the ashen log before looking back towards her. "I'll get a certain number back to you as soon as I can. Additionally, we did find one of their prisoners— I'll check on her as well."
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Sir Jerel Ban

"ENAN UO ILSIR!"

With the battle-cry, Jerel sank down into the Stillness; he was a river-stone in his mind, sinking, sinking, down and down away from the surface of his thoughts. He was shielded. Calm. Doubts flickered like minnows, silver and far-away. Unmoved by the current of his emotions, he sat at the bottom, amongst silt and quiet, weighed down by duty.

So began the slaughter: in perfect apathy.

Removed from the battle in part, the rhythm, the beat of feet upon the earth, sword upon shield, flesh upon steel. The cries: the discordant melodies of pain, war cries for glory, for justice, all wove into the song above that beat, that drumming. The knights were a symphony, harmonious, with voices rising above: Tyaethe sang a solo of destruction, a dervish of notes and rent limbs. The bandits were a counterpoint, contrasting chords that exaggerated those of the Rose. This was what battle was, when viewed through an uncaring lens; not a dance (Jerel agreed with Sir Gerard there) but a song (here they might not agree). A song of death, played with weapons and wills. Jerel knew the tune well; he plucked along.

His arrows flew into the flanks or where a target was clear. Anywhere else was too risky, too much chance for the wandering tune to shift an ally into his sights instead of a foe.

Ter harried crossbowmen from their perches or distant positions, and whilst they batted at that flutter of iridescent feathers and jet talons, Jerel would pick them off, injure or kill them, or a mage would send a bolt of suffering at the unfortunate.

The twinge of pain deepened as Jerel went on, dimly aware of his suffering; his aim was less steady, his bow took more time to rise and be taut, and he had to abandon too many shots in frustration. Even then, he was missing more than he struck true.

It was the crack of fire and moaning timber that snapped Jerel from the trance.

His shoulder flared, the wound torn fresh and staining its linen bandage bright red. The smell was a wall. Shit and piss, the sour sweat that poured from the dying and death-dealing, the blood that bloomed in arterial roses, churned into slurry beneath pressing feet. The groans, not music now, but agonised. Sobs, cries, desperate pleas aimed at the heavens cut short, the voices of those who had a choice, and chose wrong. Suddenly, it was obvious that this was just like the ambush. They fell like wheat before farmers’s sickles, easy and fast, the seeds of their misdeeds finally reaped. Jerel pitied them and gave prayers in both his old and adorned religion.

Smoke. Billowing pillars, quickly swamping the other smells as the blaze towered. Sir Gerard and Renar were moving away, following Paladin Tyaethe, Jerel realised, which likely meant one thing, a threat worthy of attention: the Bandit King.

He moved about the edges of the fight, a slower route, but his arm was injured and his arrows ran low; he would be no help penning the bandits in. He saw Elodie move through the camp, and Gerard hand a spear to a tent. The prisoners!

Loose bandits, fleeing or frenzied, were there too. Jerel tried to lift his bow, to shoot them, but his arm complained and the strength drained. He cried out, but was too far. Sir Renar dealt with them.

Jerel came to the tent when the flank leaders had already passed through the flames. There was an urge to rush after them, but it was foolish, born of ambition and curiosity; he wished to see the Bandit King, and help slay him. He was responsible for all the blood, for the corruption of men that might have been good, had their hardships not caused them to doubt and stray. Perhaps if his arm stayed for long enough, he could line up a shot; he still had some charges of his bow left and...

No. He would help the prisoners; their lives were paramount.

The girl screamed and almost skewered him when he rounded the tent. Half-expecting this reaction, he rolled backwards, narrowly avoiding the tip.

“Easy,” He said, weapons dropped, palms open, “I’m an Iron Rose Knight, I’ll keep you safe.”

And that he did; he slew two bandits who ran from the clotted mass of bodies, swords meeting in brief combat. But they were not soldiers, not even fighters. Just men. And they died, one silent, the other screaming, just men.

Gillian dispatched three bandits easily a ways off in the camp and escorted the prisoners to safety. Jerel contemplated following suit, but thunder shook his eardrums and sent tremors through his feet. It came from behind the dying wall of fire. He could see the forms now, all focussing on one that towered tall, even whilst slouched. Not much longer then. This was finally drawing to a close.

It came with Fanilly announcing the death of the bandit’s leader, their ‘King’. Long live the king. Jerel grimaced.

He slumped next to the tent, a hand clamped to his shoulder as red seeped through his fingers. The shuddering impacts and ignored pain must have mashed it into a worse shape than when he first got it. It didn’t feel deep, but wounds were deceptive.

The field of hollow eyes, of frowns and ragged, clouding breath. They had won. They could have done better, but that was for later. They had put an end to a murderous spree, and saved those they could. That was enough for now.
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Phew.

Her sigh was that of relief. Atop a definite mess of corpses stood the blood-covered Aria. Fighting so many bandits at once wasn't difficult. It was really more like child's play; a slaughter more than a battle, really. Acting as the vanguard against a retreating force was always brutal on one's stamina. There was no time for rest; only a constantly stream of goons that one had to fend off. For a veteran such as Aria, she could fight on. However, by the sounds of the loud explosion and all of the battle cries and cheers, it was over. The bandits were thoroughly crushed. Those lucky enough to not by crushed by the slow advance of spears had thrown down their arms. Their deaths would wait for the capital.

With a great big stretch, she ascertained the men under her wing. They were fine. Mostly. Their armour protected them from the brunt of flying arrows and shattered steel. Save for one man who was temporarily blinded from blood splatter and a few cuts and bruises, they suffered no injuries.

Well, it was more or less time to report to their leader.

The carnage of where the bandit king had perished was considerably worse than elsewhere. Elodie sure must have done a number on that massive corpse... Not to mention that tree! A burning tree fell during the middle of a fight. Nearby the tree lay the corpse of the knight split in twain. Shame. Walking up to Fanilly, Aria gave her report. It was only the basics. No casualties, the bandits were unable to break through, not much else. With a whistle and a gesture, she called over one of the knights that she was in charge of. She curtly asked of him to gather a cart and blankets. She punctuated it with one final question to Fanilly.

"What was his name?"
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Gillian

Gillian trudged through the smoldering battlefield about as casually as one might expect him to, occasionally punting a lost scrap of armor to the side to clear a path towards its heart. Though strangely his gait was...a little faster than it normally was to those that knew him. Perhaps the dismissive way he treated the carnage hefted upon the area was a mere facade to hide a deeply hidden empathy for his enemy...more likely though it was the chittering noble man at his flank. The man's manner of speaking was grating at best, seeming to have divorced itself from common tongue in ages long past despite still using words from it. Not helped at all that the man was apparently an avid collector of 'knight accoutrements and paces of valorous noteliness' and VERY much eager to speak to the closest knight at length of his collection. The knight in question, sadly, being Gillian.

"I can see why these ruffians did set up camp here, old boy!" Mortimer said, continuing on a rant that Gillian had largely relegated to white noise. "This particular cleavage of land has something of a history of being the dogs where staging grounds are concerned."That caught Gillian's attention, if only because it the only half coherent thing the man had said in the last few minutes. "What do you mean?" He asked hesitantly, unsure if he dared wake the sleeping giant that was this mans ability to talk his ear off. On his other flank, Gillian could practically feel the other two prisoners eyes on him, their warning silent but far too late.

"Oh my yes. Good wood in these parts you notice? Lots of hardwoods..." He said and Gillian took a quick look around. The man was right. The bulk of it was oak, but a few birch trees were stubbornly poking through the shrubbery. "A biggin part of the local eneconomy's tide to the timber craft. I fancy a bet a good portion of the capital her self source its timbers from here around."

Gillian nodded his understanding before speaking. "Doesn't explain why this is a good staging ground." He said flatly. "More over, if the lumber here is so profitable why hasn't this area been cleared? I see a flaming tree atleast a thousand years old that would have turned any mill an obscene profit."

Mortimer shrugged. "Would if either side could. We're on a boarder between two major groups of holdings, so jurisdiction on who has ownership of the land is a bit...fuzzy. None helped by the highway that runs through 'er. Trust me, if'n there was any way I could give the go ahead and strip the land without four or five other nobles having a giraffe I would. If any of us tried to kick up a fuss about it, the Royal family is liable to get involved. Or worse...the buggers at the chamber of trade..." He added, spitting the last words as if they were particularly vile. "As it stands we mostly use it for sourcing saplings for larger plantations and game for the peasantry. "

"So nobody can work the land and everyone stands to lose a profit if too much attention gets brought to it. And as a result, even though a highway runs through it, the local nobility doesn't really monitor it closely. So its a great spot to organize troops without being too cut off from a supply line..." Gillian finished running a hand down his face. It was so calming to find out that this was, atleast in some small part, due to people not wanting their coin purses to be short a few silver.

"We give as good as we get." The Dandy huffed, obviously having told this particularly tid bit of info enough times to know what some might think. "Since none of us commit troops or resources this far out of our holdings, if the surrounding villages or even our estates are captured, its still a good days ride to here. Its just as good a staging ground for the capital as it is for invaders. If not better." He said with an air of certainty.

"Why, during the Red Flag Wars your previous captain even used this region for her own ends." He added smuggly, twirling his mustache with no small amount of pride. Gillian stared at the man for a moment, eyes widening at the implication. "Captain Sylvia fought here?" He asked, somewhat stunned. While he'd never met the woman, she was still a hot topic among the order. Especially these days.

Mortimer deflated a bit. "Ah well.." He began, the characteristic enthusiasm of the man dulling a bit as he was caught in the white lie. "Less fought and more commanded forces here. A few minor skirmishes only I'm afraid. It was why I was out here in the first place. I was out getting the old elbows greased and looking for historical pieces when I spied the camp. Thought I'd found something important and decided to have a dekko." He explained halfheartedly.

Well...that certainly explained how this idiot had gotten caught. Gillian wasn't really sure if he should chalk that up to good or bad luck.

He was about to ask more when he spied the child captain, currently being loomed over by several others. Gillian's hand practically shot out, grabbing another knight by the collar and quickly (and unceremoniously) dumping babysitting duty on him. Mortimer, for his part, looked immensely pleased just to have someone new to talk to.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
@HereComesTheSnow@OwO@VitaVitaAR

"Don't think the tree had a name Larette." Gillian said, sauntering up to the group and only pausing to give Jarde a brief (but respectful) nod. "But if you're asking about the half a man under it,...Rick?...Mack? It escapes me at the moment but I remember it being short for something..." He said as he spared a glance to their fallen brother in arms. He rubbed a claw across his chin for a second, as if to think hard. "Ah no wait. It was Jack. Poor Jack. To be felled by lumber..." He said, eyes lighting up with amusement.

In truth, Gillian couldn't remember the name of the knight. Mostly as he never bothered to learn it. It made things...easier. Their life wasn't exactly safe and they were all aware of that. Even on milk runs like this, things happened and sometimes those things killed you for no good reason. Larette seemed like the type to cope with remembering the dead, which was fine. But he wasn't. The fact that his method probably enraged her probably also helped.

"I recovered the other prisoners by the way,...you know. Before they were consumed by the fires. You're welcome, by the way." He said flatly, waving a claw to as though to dismiss the dead man from his presence. The half corpse stubbornly remained in view of all. "They're fine. A little shaken and the girl needs some decent food in her, but otherwise fit to travel." He reported, more addressing the group than reporting to their 'captain' directly.

Looking the girl over tough...she wasn't too much worse for the wear. Apparently the battle with the bandit leader was more hetic than Gillian first thought it was. There was a light haze of purple on her neck, likely bruised from a strangle attempt, but otherwise she seemed unharmed. But there were other things...smaller and long forgotten by the majority of the Knights here. The small shake in the brats fingers, the eyes slightly too wide for the emotions behind them. The Brave mini-captain, it seemed, was coming down from her first combat high.

Gillian released an annoyed sigh, rubbing his face and biting back a back handed compliment he'd just thought up at Larette's expense. They seriously hadn't even bloodied this kid before putting her in charge? He wasn't sure if that was a product of the blind faith some had in this asinine little tradition or just old fashioned cruelty. He would bet on it being both though. "Danbalion." He huffed, voice free from its normal din of sarcasm for once and instead tinged with the brusque tone normally reserved for recruits.

"Go sit on your horse. You're gonna feel like warmed over shit in a couple. That's a good thing. It means you got the job done." He adds, locking eyes on the younger knight and crossing his arms, signaling that refusing wasn't an option. As it stood, he'd half a mind to throw the kid onto her mount before she got a chance to answer. "Jarde's got a good head for this. If he asks you something, agree. Otherwise just...ride this out." He says, voice softening just a twinge at the end as he turned his glare back to Aria. If his little comment about the other knight hadn't gotten to her, then he was pretty sure this would. The ride back to Aimlenn was going to be a long one for him, and he was pretty sure she'd make sure of it now.
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Maritza Verenna


Taking a brief moment to rest, Mari looks over the battlefield. With the fall of the bandit king, the battle was effectively over. The last pockets of resistance were either surrendering or in the process of dying. With a sigh, the Naga moved to corral the defeated bandits. The other knights could retrieve their own horses as the animals tended to spook if she got to close on her own.

"You can come out now, it's safe~ OW! Why in Reon's name did the kid try and stab me!?" "Probably because you're in full armor and covered in blood." A second voice replies with combat weary dryness. Catching the commotion, Mari leaves the bandits under the watch of another knight and moved around a surprisingly unburnt tent to investigate. Tucked into a corner, two knights were crouched in front of an opened cage. Inside a dirty, gaunt and wild-eyed kid had backed themselves into the far corner, a knife clutched tightly in both hands.

"More like they're starving, dehydrated and have suffered too much abuse to think clearly." Mari speaks up, taking off her sallet helmet. "I'll tend to this one. Fetch me food, drink and a blanket for the child and bring one of our carts around." One of the two knights gave the Naga a stink eye, but both of them moved off, leaving Mari and the kid alone. Settling down in fromt of the cage, She offers the kid a closed-lip smile, no need to spook them with a mouth full of pointed teeth. "Hello there, my name's Mari, what's yours?" She asks softly, feral silence and a shifting gaze the only response. Sighing inwardly, the Naga continues talking softly to the kid. This was going to take some work.
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Fleuri Jodeau


The battle was over. The sight of the captain presenting Jeremiah's severed head broke the morale of the remaining bandits, and their will to fight evaporated. Fleuri removed his helmet and wiped the sweat from his face, relieved that the battle was over. There was no time to waste, however, for there was still much to do, from preparing the prisoners for transport, to rescuing the captives, to tending to their wounded. Fortunately, while the battle was littered with dead bandits, Fleuri was not seeing any knights among the fallen.

For the first few minutes, Fleuri helped to bind the bandits still in the camp. He didn't like looking at their faces, knowing what fate awaited them. No doubt they were murderers and plunderers who killed and kidnapped innocents, and it was Reon's will that justice be meted out to these evildoers, but he took no pleasure in looking upon the faces of doomed, broken men and women. It never was a problem when fighting necromancers and their mindless undead thralls. Zombies and skeletons didn't surrender, they didn't show fear or pain, and killing them was objectively an act of mercy. As for the necromancers pulling the strings, it was never an option to take them alive- they were simply too dangerous, and their crimes too heinous in Reon's eyes. Perhaps it was for the best that he remain a little compassion for the undeserving, rather than risk becoming too callous to summon compassion for those that do deserve it. And perhaps it was a blessing in disguise that he had not been directly involved in the War of the Red Banner, killing nobles and soldiers for choosing the wrong side in a civil war.

While tying the hands of one of the bandits, Fleuri overheard a commotion coming from one of the tents. While he finished binding the raider, another knights- specifically, Dame Verenna (as a Naga, there was no mistaking her for anyone else)- slithered inside to handle it. From the sound of it, they were having some trouble with one of the captives. After Mari sent the two other knights away to bring provisions, Fleuri made his way to the tent in hopes of helping out.

"You said you need a blanket, Dame Verenna?" Fleuri asked as he put down his sword and helmet, then unclasped and removed his white cape, which had remarkably remained unstained throughout the battle. "Here, will this do?"

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