Hidden 3 mos ago Post by World Traveler
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For Country and Princess


D'artagnan walked out from the tunnel and across the arch bridge to the massive castle ahead of him. It was late evening, with sunrise closer than sunset, and the moon and its reflection seemed to light up the lake. The city surrounding the lake seemed to sleep with most of the hills and cliffs quiet and dim with only every other street torch lit. Only the sound of the waterfalls could be heard, but though they raged even they felt muted. He made his way to the guarded gateway and was stopped by a heavily armored guard. Their exchange was short with the guard mentioned that he was expected and he should make his way to the throne room. The guard also made a quip about how D'artagnan should remember how to make it there. Without retort the mage made his way into the castle grounds.

It had been almost a year and a half since he had been to the center of the kingdom. The last visit had been one of a contemptuous dismissal from the Magical Military Intelligence where he had been placed after his graduation from the Military Magic Academy. His time with the MMI was volatile to put it mildly. A disregard for tradition put him immediately at odds with many of his superiors and a stubborn personality he inherited from his mother never helped. D’artagnan was dismissed from the ranks after barging into an intelligence meeting with what his mentor called a doom and gloom theory or as his late father would describe as "cockamamie".

Since his dismissal, D'artagnan had worked as an independent contractor of sorts for the rich. The military had given him a set of skills and he knew how to play the cards he had been dealt. At times, even now, he could be seen working with the military in an unofficial capacity but a vast majority of his day was spent helping solve the rich and powerful of the city's problems.

Some anti thief work for a local dukes art was D'artagnan's in with the wealthy clientele and since then they had paid enough for him to live a mediocre lifestyle and keep his bed warm and glass full. Before he had gotten the summons from the King he had been doing some readings and research on a rather troublesome haunting of a house that he suspected was more of a cloak and dagger situation than a full on haunting. The distraction of the summons was wanted, but the degree of the disruption was not.

In his lifetime the only time D’artagnan had ever ‘met’ the King was at his inaugural show of arms where the military paraded around for a visiting dignitary. Really it was just him and others helping the King puff his chest out. Outside of that, the man might as well be an unknown.

Thankfully it seemed D'artagnan would not be facing off against his Royal Highness alone. Waiting for him at the top of the stairs, but before the doorway of the throne room was his old mentor Oliver Stone. "Stone." He said with a half smile. Since his excommunication his old mentor had done his best to stay in touch, but a mage of his magnitude was busy often and it had been some months since their last meeting over ale.

"It is good to see you D'artagnan. I wish it was under better circumstances" The older man said with a faint smile. His body language showed clear as day that it was a forced smile. This was the first of several hints that this call was not made with pleasantries in mind. Skipping the small talk the two walked into the massive throne room which was eerily quiet. Normally followed by two scores of royal guards and even more assistants and councils the King was standing by his throne with two other people making the room, which had enough space for 200 was very quiet and very deep.

"Your highness I present to you D'artagnan Bardot, former Intelligence Agent of the MMI." Stone said quickly once they reached the three. D'artagnan recognized the King; however, the two with him were not known to him. Familiar with protocol he went down on one knee and thanked the King for his summons. He waited until he was given permission to stand and quickly looked to Oliver to hopefully begin whatever explanation was needed to make sense of this situation.
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by KatherinWinter
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Roxy followed the guards as they lead her to the King's throne room. She could have told them she didn't need their guidance but she didn't think they would take that very well. She smirked at the thought. While she wished that she had her knives but she didn't need her knives to but dangerous so she said nothing. She would see what his arrogance the king wanted with her. There were all kinds of possibilities that she was curious enough for her to allow the king to capture her.

The walls of the tunnel had once been made of stones of different shapes and sizes but concrete had been but over it because some of the areas had been crumbling and had needed reinforced. A tall pair of granite doors marks the entrance to this dungeon. Beyond the pair of granite doors to pass many different passages, most of which she had explored since she got there. Roxy had made sure that they knew that she was there because she chose to be not because they were able to keep her there.

Once they were out of the dungeon they headed to the throne room. They started to pass people. Which made Roxy a little uncomfortable. She usually stayed out of sight. She heard people whispering as they passed. Most people didnt know who she was or why the guards were escorting her through the castle. They would know soon enough and when they did her life would come a lot harder but she had known that would be a risk when she decided to see why the king was looking to hire her.

Eventually they reached the door to the throne. The guards opened the door. Inside were three men. Roxy recognized the king but not the other two. One who was on kneeling before the king. She stormed across the room right but to the king. She heard the guards draw their weapons as if they could act before she kill him if that had been her goal. She glared up at him. At barely five foot tall she was used to looking up at people. "I want my knives back." She demanded and held out her hand.
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by World Traveler
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A King with no audience was an interesting thing to witness for D'artagnan. While holding a respect for the power the crown held the actual person under its weight never much concerned him. He had only been the subject of one monarch in his lifetime and though his influence was fast it wasn't intimate. Rarely did anything done at that level of government directly affect D'artagnan. The politics he had to muck through was a whole different animal.

The King beckoned for the two mages to lift their heads and come to the council that was in session. The gravity of the situation could be heard in the tone everyone was using. "Thank you for your quick arrival Oliver. This is the young man you were speaking of before?" Said the man standing next to the King. D'artagnan couldn't place him, but felt he was someone he should.

"Yes Duke. This is my former student D'artagnan Bardot who was a former agent within the MMI. His departure was due to internal politics I assure you and not about performance." Oliver then continued only this time shifted to speak directly to the King. "As it happens the report you had mentioned earlier was written by both myself and this young man." He then paused as the King held up a hand in a command that silenced him.

When he spoke the King seemed as though he was trapped. Each word seemed a labor. "You said this man could work outside the confines of a normal mission and that is what we need Oliver. I trust your judgement."

D'artagnan was about to say thank you for the trust; however, before he could the doors opened once more and a woman followed by several guards arrived. Instead of the walking jibs he had to endure this woman seemed to cause the whole room anxiety. Even Oliver and Duke seemed to tighten their stance. Her first words only seemed to reinforce her barbwire reaction from the group.

"I think you can understand why we won't be returning your accessories." The Duke said coldly. Oliver and him exchanged a look and then the King spoke.

"A woman of the shadows and a disgraced mage. This is the best my inner council can summon..." He gave no effort to holding back his tone when he spoke and both the Duke and Oliver seemed to stop themselves from jumping in to defend whatever it was that was going on.

"Since the party is here we should, I think, explain to our guests why they have been summoned to a place that normally would detest their attendance." The Duke said, but before that he looked at the woman who had just joined them and gave a curt nod. "I have it on good authority that you are the gold standard in your profession. I ask that you note that is not the kind of job you have been brought here to accept."

Oliver then looked over at D'artagnan and simply said. "Don't be an ass."
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by KatherinWinter
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Roxy glared at the Duke. She flipped him off. She wasn't the least bit impressed by his status. "If you are under the impression that your safe just because you too my knives you are greatly misinformed." Just because she preferred knives didnt mean they were the only weapons she could or would use. Hell she didnt need a weapon really. She walked right up to the man. "I don't need weapons to kill you Duke." She told him. She wasn't know as Shadow for nothing. "So you don't want me to kill someone. What do you want?"

"The Princess is ill. We've been hiding it while we search for a cure." Roxy crossed her arms over her chest and waited. They obviously didn't want her to kill the girl so they must have some other use for her skills. "Unfortunately we haven't had a lot of success. A prophet arrived a week ago." Roxy snorted. She had no use for magic users of any kind but Prophets were the worse. They came out of the wood work when people were the most desperate and it seemed the king was there.

"Let me guess. This prophet just happens to know of some mysterious vague item that had been hidden years ago that could save her if we can solve the riddles that lead to the many well hidden mysterious ingredients. And we were chosen because we're the only people who met the description in the riddle 'A woman of shadows and a Disgrace Mage'." She quoted the titles the given them a few minutes ago. She raised an eyebrow. "How'd I do?"
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by World Traveler
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Subtle. D’artnange thought as the small woman flipped off the Duke.

Ballsy. He considered when she then followed up by seemingly threatening him. He noted that the Duke seemed somewhat unphased by the back and forth as well. He continued to pay attention to the woman who had a striking skill of commanding a room constructed entirely for another.

The mage was quiet, but his mind was quickly racing as the situation was explained to him. The attack on the princess was concerning; however, the fact that his mentor was seemingly agreeing with the label of prophet. This was a word that was carelessly thrown around in the streets, but a member of the magical council would never casually toss the label around.

Devin was about to finally speak, but was beaten to the verbal punch by the young woman. This time she seemed inclined to poke holes in the story, but the room stank with the words disgraced mage and that continued to bother Devin. When she finished it seemed the silence held a weight that was only lifted when Oliver spoke.

“Actually she mentioned a Reaper and a Scholar, but we felt your profession deserved a bit more credence.” He then looked over at Devin. “I must stress that this attack is not just on the Princess. We believe she is actually collateral damage from an attempt on the King and several other high ranking members.”

The three men told the tale of a dinner meant to be secret between high ranking members of the King’s court and several leaders of the surrounding kingdoms. It seemed there was military movement to the north and the meeting was meant to reconfirm their treaty agreements. During the preparation the princess had snuck into the kitchen to steal away a few of the gifts and some food stuff only to fall victim to an unknown curse.

“We have no idea if it was the food, or somehow another item. After she fell ill and was found in the kitchen the meeting was canceled and all our allies grew nervous and our relationships strained.” The Duke interjected. “It matters not that the princess was the victim, the attack itself was meant to do this. Stop the attack and we regain that confidence.”

"That is my daughter Duke Harrison." The King said in a chilling voice. "And I will see her saved." The king looked directly at the D'artagnan and put a hand on his shoulder. "You will cure her." he then looked over at the young woman "And you will deliver justice to those that harmed her."
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by KatherinWinter
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Roxy had no problem being called a reaper. It was a good description as any for what she did. She had been called worse. She pointed at the disgraced mage. "How exactly does he fit the role of the scholar?" Her voice dripped with sarcasm. She didn't mean it as an insult. She was sure that the mage had to study but so did every other magic users. Hell there were schools full of scholars. She was sure that the king had someone on his payroll whose job it was to study stuff.

"His skills match what is required." The duke assured her snootily.

"Let's say I buy that the scholar here is willing to work his way into your good graces. If your advisors have done any kind of research they know I don't kill for money or politics. I have very specific requirements for the jobs I take." Roxy knew that made it sound like she didn't care if the girl died or not but it wasn't that. While she didn't know the Princess she didn't want the girl's death on her head.

"Are you saying my daughter's death doesn't fit those requirements?" The king asked.

It was a grey area. Technically the princess had been attacked through no fault of her own. "Your daughter has people that will protect her. Heck half the assassins guild would do it just to get the price off their heads."

"We'll take the price off yours." The duke offered obviouslythinking that had been her goal. Roxy stormed over to him. She tapped him on the nose.

"You're not very smart are you?" She had had William, one of her rescues, turn her in. He had taken the bounty. She trusted him to use the money to pay supplies for the safe house. "There currently a bounty on my head."

"I'm grasping at straws. This is my last hope to save my daughter." Roxy sighed. She turned towards the king. The tears in his eyes convinced her that he cared about his daughter. That was enough for her.

"Fine. Continue." She gave in.
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by World Traveler
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Always the observer, D'artagnan continued to listen as the conversation moved towards a resolution of the woman joining to find the person or persons involved in the attack on the Royal family. He was dragged into the conversation when Oliver decided to hook him in. "You have been awfully quiet my young friend. Does this call fall on deaf ears?

Shaking his head D'artagnan didn't want to get into the specifics of what he was feeling or what he had decided on. Instead his interest was in how this party came to be. Surely he wasn't the first nor even the 12th best option for the King. The Royal Court had near limitless power and connections to call on so why would a prophet point them to D'artagnan? "You mistake my silence for apprehension. Caution is how is should be read. I am simply looking at the depth of the water before I jump in."

He looked over at the women. He could see obvious and had no doubt there were numerous less obvious places where knives and daggers could be hidden. "My major concern is a lack of immediate direction. You say this attack could have come from anyone, but has the castles security become so lax?" D'artagnan looked on as the three men seemed unnerved by the question.

"The Kings officer in charge has recently been found to have had sever gambling debts. He admitted to having allowed several unknowns bribe there way onto the grounds several hours before the dinner party event." The Duke said in a cold tone. "We have arrested him and sent him to the stixs." The stixs being a rather unfortunate hole of a place where the prisoners keep each other inline with only the most heinous of gang leadership.

Oliver then added "He was killed less than three hours afterwards. We nearly got no other information from him. We are unsure why he was sent there so quickly and not held for longer interrogation."

Turning to the woman and setting his back to the three men D'artagnan spoke to her for the first time. "Then we follow your connections. Surely someone with your fondness of blades has plenty of friends in the Stixs pit. Think we can find out if the murder was a contract to tie up a loss end?"
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by KatherinWinter
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Roxy wondered around the room as the men talked. She had never been good being still when she wasn't on the job. She randomly picked the men's pocket. She hadn't found anything interesting as of yet. When the disgraced mage commented on the becoming lax. She snorted. Security was a joke. Of course that's what happened when you depended on humans and magic. Humans could be bribed, blackmailed, tricked, or killed. And magic was just undependable.

"And why would knowing who killed this incompetent snitch?" Roxy asked. She could probably find out who had killed the King's officer and why. It might have been a contract but she thought it was more likely just payback for confessing. No body liked people who talked. "Stool pigeon don't live long."

She found a gold coin in the pockets of one of the guards. She started tossing it randomly. "I could find out. Shouldn't take me more than an hour. But I'm going to need my knives back." She could hear the Duke grit his teeth. She didn't know why he was so reluctant to give them back to her. Unless he had done something that might have put him on her radar. Not that he was safe because she didn't have them. She would get them back eventually.

The stixs wasn't a place she had been while exploring. Mostly because it would have drawn too much attention. Almost everyone there was likely to know her. Her father was head of the assassin's guild and the biggest gang in the city. It shouldn't take more than a few minutes to find out who killed the King's officer and why.

"You said you didn't need them to be dangerous." The duke pointed out.

"I don't. But I have a reputation. Do you think anyone in the stixs is going to believe I'm there by choice without them?" Roxy ask. They probably wasn't. Some of them would already knew she was here.
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