Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Gisk
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"Of course not," Faira answered earnestly. "I only wish you didn't feel the need to keep it a secret. Anyway, I'll meet you by the gate."

They parted ways for the time being, and Faira made her way back to the southern gate, where she had left Steak. She found that a stable hand had taken the liberty of stripping his saddle and brushing him down, for which she was thankful. She gave the beast a pat, he was restless being stuck up here when he heard the cannon and rifle fire, and she saddled him with a promise that he'd get some more action.

Her way back to the eastern gate brought her across the path of Acrius and... was that the same girl from before? Well, he would get no rescue this time.

"Acrius, who have you been beating up?" It was only a guess, but she thought it a good bet.

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Leonidas listened to Balthazar's update and it unnerved him a bit. A few times he wanted to butt in but the Prince held his tongue and let his advisor speak. When Balthazar had finished Leonidas sat silent for a moment thinking. "... I... I agree we can't leave this city and split our forces as is. Things don't add up here and I don't want to leave these people on their own. We will see to these greenskins and after that we can take the royal guard and investigate." He said finally Leonidas knew what he wanted to do, but his duty to his people outweighed his selfish desires. "Thank you for informing me though, please let me know if something comes up. Otherwise I bid you a good night. Lets hope the scouting missions turn up something actionable by the morning." He said before giving a nod to Balthazar and seeing himself out of the room. After his meeting with Balthazar Leonidas swiftly returned to his room. He would have to sort himself out and be ready to give 100% to the battle the next morning.

----

Fullar hung on every word Rudolph said taking it all in. It was hard to read his reaction as Rudolph listed off the members of the royal guard at least until after he finished. "Sounds like an interesting group of characters. And even a Drow you say...? Tell me do they have that Majestic Beauty that I've heard about from Elves? Think I would have a shot with her?" Fullar asked dead faced. "You gotta set me up man, It's a once in a lifetime opportunity. Especially in the Empire" he continued as they walked with a big grin on his face. "You don't seem to phased by it though, thought you hated Drow like everyone else around here?" Fullar continued to prod as they walked. "You know it has been a while, I got a good vintage stashed at the barracks we should sit and share the bottle pass around some stories how's that sound?" He said finally just as the two were making it to the Barracks.

----

Elizabeth's grip on Acrius' arm tightened and she gave a little squeak as he "promised" to protect her. For a moment he thought his arm was going to snap before the pressure was released a bit. "I can't believe it I'm going to have a great knight protecting me!" She squeaked out and as Acrius gave his options a grin came over her face. A grin that quickly turned to a frown as she saw Faira approaching. "He didn't "Beat up" anyone He was demonstrating his martial prowess for us new recruits" Elizabeth answered for Acrius. This woman, why is she always around... She doesn't like Acrius does she? Elizabelth thought to herself before returning to a cheery disposition. "Acrius was about to give me some Private tutoring on my technique. I'm sure someone of your caliber can hold your own so please let us continue." She said in a very passive aggressive tone to Faira.
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The oranged-eyed boy grimaced as Elizabeth's grip seemed to tighten even further.

"I can't believe it I'm going to have a great knight protecting me!"

"Have to stop you there," Acrius said in a somewhat serious tone, "I'm probably the furthest thing away from one of the Empire's knights. They don't take kindly to self-proclaimed knights. Boring lot really, but some of them are strong, atleast."

Acrius' mind was elsewhere during the confrontation. In his mind he was just shadow-training with Lancelot. Anything to keep his mind off his current 'predicament'.

"Acrius, who have you been beating up?"

Faira's voice snapped him back into reality for a second. "Not many of note," Acrius replied nonchalantly, "It's honestly been pretty boring."

"He didn't "Beat up" anyone He was demonstrating his martial prowess for us new recruits"

It seemed like everyone just observed Acrius and his nightly-exercise excursions. He simply disliked idleness; he doesn't like feeling his bones and muscles stiffen from inactivity. Martial prowess was his only strong suite after all. Still, he'd go along with Elizabeth's explanation instead of the real reason.

"Acrius was about to give me some Private tutoring on my technique. I'm sure someone of your caliber can hold your own so please let us continue."

"... Or sleep, a very valid course of action too," Acrius continued, "... on an unrelated note, has your mother sanctioned this?"

Acrius actually had no idea what was happening in this situation. His mind silently retreated back to his shadow training with Lancelot. He hoped whatever 'this' was would pass over and dissipate like a silent oceans wave.
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Merik Roak



After the excitement boiled down Merik stayed at the gate while everyone else left. Stoic in his presence he lingered on the gate looking out towards what lay beyond in the forest and fields. He was left to his thoughts, some of the human soldiers lingered about but mostly kept to themselves other than the odd stare. “The orcs hadn’t come out yet. Maybe proposing a challenge to their chieftain in one on one combat was out of the question then.” His large tail wrapped around him as he sat down in a meditative pose.

He was flexing his magic while he sat and thought. Balthazar said this would help him train his magic. The small seed that sat in his hand slowly glowed green and with the occasional small crack and twitch of movement. A small flower began to grow and flourish to even bloom in his rough hand. The small thing made him smile. With a deep breath he began to process what had happened, what was happening.

“Then they must be clever, the bombs, the tactics, the caves, the tunnels…” quickly he stood startling one of the guards that stood watch nearby. Towering over the young lad Merik began asking many questions. “What do human lords do when approaching army come?”

Startled and stuttering, I.. I.. Uhh yes whenever something like this happens all the surrounding villages re-retreat to the keep.

Not seeming to care about the lad or how he felt he continued. “Humans stay in fort even with small attacks yes?” his voice bore excitement, his tail flicked back and forth, the frill on the back of his head began to rise. The voice in his head that had kept the lizard alive was screaming at him to run.

Um well yes. The uhh well… he didn’t seem too confident with what he was saying and shifted nervously. The uhh… the citizens of the empire will stay in uhh in the city walls until the threat is over.

Merik nodded, turned, and left. “Tell Rudoof that Merik went hunting inside the city. Merik will come with bell.” The soldier didn’t really seem like he understood what was happening and just shook his head.

Quickly Merik removed the shoes of his armor, pulled back the rock and leather hood, then made sure that the giant sword was secured to his back. Some soldiers mulled around but he did not mind watchful eyes never bothered him. He was strange and awkward so he would be strange and awkward.

Merik was hunting now, he knew the smell and the taste of orc and goblin alike. The meat of sentient beings was always more savory and flavorful then lesser beings, yet the prince told him it was not acceptable to eat such things. The notion confused him at first, what is dead is dead the spirit has left and the body means nothing. Placing his hands on the ground he began to move on all fours. His tongue occasionally sticking out to taste the air, his head occasionally pressing to walls or stones or the ground. Feeling for odd vibrations, smells, or sounds. Merik did not care about making a scene, he did not care about who he pushed or nudged out of the way.

Merik is a predator, a predator hunts prey and this predator was searching for goblin and orc. If they were using this as a distraction to keep them in the city, to throw small forces at them to keep them here. He will find them and he will do as the prince said, Merik will protect the humans and find those that could very well be digging tunnel's into the city.
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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Fetzen
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It had taken a while for Manald to return into his somewhat more 'normal' shape, if one could say so at all if everybody else around him was perfectly human, but it had not helped to make anything less... boring. It was far from the beastman's intention to discount the fact that they were under a damn siege, but there also was no way to deny that his options on top of the wall had been rather limited.

Pull some guts out of a goblin's belly ?
None of the little squeaky things had managed to reach him and he had not been able to simply go down.

Have some small talk with the soldiers around him once things had become calm and quiet again ?
Maybe the prejudices and anxieties about beastmen were not as prevalent and obvious as those about Zatana's race, but they were there still.

Just abandon the place clearly stating that he'd be more useful as a furry bartender in the tavern than blocking everyone else's way on top of the wall ?
The prince would not have been happy about his troop's reputation being pulled into the dirt that hard.

As long as the goblins did not put considerably more men and effort into more than a probing attack throwing stones down murder holes was not very entertaining either. The vast majority of the attackers had been taken out by the archers. And on top of things even one of soldiers himself had said something accusatory about Manald's lack of 'usefullness' there. So, to put it in more short words, Manald obvious had more than just a bad fur day when he ducked his way through the doorframe into a tavern he didn't even know. A good binge was in dire need, definitely!

However, the place was packed to say the least. Some of the visages he saw felt oddly familiar to those whose owners had just left the same shift as he had, but what he didn't see was a free table or even just a free chair. The lycan trudged his humble self forward, people staring at him all around both in admiration about his sheer size and animalistic features and in disgust about pretty much the same. Having reached the counter, Manald slammed his flat hand on the desk in an attempt to get some attention in all this mess. A quite average-ish looking man turned away from a large fire, approaching him and picking up an empty tankard for cleaning in the process.

"Ah... you. I've heard people talking." He sniffed quite pronouncedly. "You don't smell that bad. Seems like some claims are badly overrated... So. What can I serve you ?"

"Beer! A lot!"

The man sighed. "Why am I even asking... At this rate it'll be the first thing we'll run out of. Alright..." He put the tankard aside and grabbed a fresh one, filling it with the juice from a wooden barrel.

Manald took it and now it was his turn to sniff, even though much less noticeable. He did not need to inhale a lot of air to smell something, and in this case he was quite happy about that. "It seems like you've run out of good beer already... Why don't you serve the bad stuff first if you have the unique chance to ?"

The man just shrugged his shoulders, not even putting on as much as a disappointed look while polishing the tankard again. "I don't subdivide into good and bad stuff. I just have this and I didn't have any complaints about it so far. Drink it or leave, but not without paying for what you already got!"

Now the beastman took a very carefully executed sip. "Just like expected... tastes like one quarter pig piss." As if this day could go any worse...

"Hah! Does your kind come as pigs, too, or how can you tell how pig piss tastes ?"

Manald looked at the man askantly with a facial expression that was clearly devoid of any amusement. "No, my kind only comes in shapes capable of tearing a man's head off. And the felines can't even purr, very sorry for that!" He now just stared into what felt like an abyss filled with liquid, homogenous horror in a single shade of amber. Then, with some considerable and no less visible hesitation, the beastman took a larger portion of it and let things roam around in his mouth for a little bit before swallowing. It didn't help either. Not at all.

The tavern owner became a little triumphant in his words: "You will drink it, I'm sure. Simply because... you won't find anything better in Berkhoff right now. What the hell did you expect in a siege ? Very sadly though..." - and now there was nothing but sarcasm in his voice - "I don't have much of a chair left for you. So... you stay ?"

It was exactly the kind of words Manald did not want to hear, simply because... The man was probably right. So maybe just focus in on the alcohol ? The lycan decided to empty his tankard in one go, rapidly washing away bad taste with more bad taste and taking the time to breathe again only after it was all over. Presenting his razor-sharp teeth, he made clear what he wanted: "More!"

What else should he do this evening... He'd be capable of sleeping sonner or later anyway and his body had always been quite fast when it came to digesting liquor.

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

"Ugh! I can't... lift this man. He's just too heavy!"

"Then just drag him around on the floor. I don't want any drunken heaps in my main hall waking up in the middle of the night and putting on a show because they can't get out! Also I have to clean this place!"

A scream was to be heard, following by a very nasty curse. Some blood noe was dripping onto the ground.

"That's what you get if you're an idiot trying to hold his hands! Didn't you see those claws on them ? Now get moving!"

"Where shall I go with him ?"

"Just drag him to the others, around the corner where less people will see him! They'll warm each other in the night so no worries!"

Manald was left asleep in a small side street, accompanied by a few other patrons who had maneuvered themselves into a similar fate. By now it was the middle of the night, but he would probably be awake long before those around him.
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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Borosev
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"Sounds like an interesting group of characters. And even a Drow you say...? Tell me, do they have that Majestic Beauty that I've heard about from Elves? Think I would have a shot with her?" Fullar asked seemingly serious. Rudolph's eyes widened in surprise at his old friends comment. "You gotta set me up man, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity. Especially in the Empire. he continued. Rudolph exhaled unsure on what to say. Is he really serious? he thought. "You don't seem too phased by it though. Thought you hated Drow like everyone else around here?"

Rudolph sighed, "I don't know what to say mate." he began, thinking back about what happened, "I suppose I only hated them because I were brought up with it." he shrugged, "I realised that I don't really have much of a reason, so whats the point eh?" he continued.

After a moments pause. "You know it has been a while. I got a good vintage stashed at the barracks, we should sit and share the bottle, pass around some stories, how's that sound?" Fullar said as they made their way. "Sounds like a plan mate." nodded Rudolph as they just about walked in the door.

"Evening Sergeants." the voice was that of Captain Helt, given how he looks and sounds, he could be seen as a stereotypical politician of this time.
"Captain." Rudolph greeted in turn. There was some tension in the air as per usual, Captain Helt often exuded it as though it were an aura.

Helt sat at one of the tables reading a report and occasionally sipping some of his ale. He took a glance at the two men as they made their way across the canteen.
"I hear Captain Fenne died during one of the attacks this morning." Helt said pretending to read his report papers. "Aye sir, he'd been one of the casualties from one of the bombardments." replied Rudolph as he stopped by the stairs to the troop personal quarters. "And you didn't think to give word to one of the other Captains?" he asked with a somewhat condescending tone that he normally had. "I was busy trying to maintain the defences as we were under attack. We needed everyone we had at the time." Rudolph replied.

"Indeed. I shall make a note of this insolence Sergeant. Make sure you make the right decision next time." followed Helt before he took another drink of his ale. Rudolph clenched his fists trying to keep his anger in check, Arrogant Prick he thought to himself as he then began ascending the stairs.

The rest of the evening was reasonably relaxed compared to the rest of the day. The two men brought up old stories, and caught up with eachothers more recent news. The rest of the troop were slowly returning to the barracks themselves, some were more drunk than others. It wasn't till the early hours when Rudolph went to sleep, and it was a long needed one.
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"You be careful, Acrius' 'teaching' has been known to leave men with broken bones," Faira actually didn't know if this was true, but it tallied with her experience of the young man.

She looked the girl over, sizing her up before stepping very close and speaking to Acrius in an undertone.

"Zatana and I have work outside the walls tonight. The Guard will be two short, so be extra vigilant. But don't spread that about."

She clicked her tongue at Steak and made her way toward the Eastern gate.

The cannon that had been moved here was quiet for the time being, but Faira was pleased to see that the guard here was as alert as ever, despite the lateness. She saw at least two who were tousled haired and had clearly gotten out of bed recently.

She waited here for Zatana.
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Satisfied the Record Keeper was going to record things, Zatana patted the little figure on the head with a finger. "Record as much as you can, dear one. I shall bring thee more on which to record." Not bothering to wait for an answer, Zatana swung herself over the lee of the roof and kept on her way. It would be no hassle after all to retrieve the small familiar, and this would prove amusing while she went about her business. Yet, Zatana was too aware that slowing down would mean her ability would be seen as lacking something the dark elf was not keen on. It was a point of pride for Zatana that she was very good at what she did. So it was thus, she did not see Faira ride up.

The roofs were easy to cross over, and she was even able to slip into a small office above a shop. Whoever thought it to be locked well, was deluded. Stepping into the room, she plucked some plain parchment from the desk and a piece of twine used to hold stacks of books together. Slipping out with just as much ease, she hung upside down from the roof while her fingers closed and locked the window. Holding the twine in her mouth through the mask, she dropped to the street. It was a straight shot to the Western Gate, and she soon found her mare. The guards were eyeing the wicked beastie with some temptation as she began saddling the horse again. The knife-like ears hidden under the cowl caught the disgusted whispers of 'drow', 'dark elf', but it was the comment 'wicked horse, wicked elf' that made her smiled from behind the mask. Swinging into the saddle, she wrapped the reins about a small loop of leather in the front and set the mare towards where she had left the squabbling couple. Urging the horse to a fast pace, and the mare delighted at the sound of her wicked staccato on the cobblestones. Guiding the mare with her knees as she rocked with the movement of the horse, Zatana set about folding the paper into a tiny little booklet, her fingers flick a knife into her hand as she carefully cut any folded page free so it would be accessible. Two holes were bored into the 'spine' and a the twine was threaded through as she slowed the mare to a walk. It was a 'book', if the tiny one-inch thing, could be considered a 'book'.

Sighing, she saw the two were still at the same spot they had left them. Nodding to Acrius, she raised a brow as she paused the mare. Pressing to sidestep the horse close to the building and raising a hand for the record keeper. "Acrius." She greeted softly. Her dark eyes watching the young woman with a warning sharpness. What Zatana didn't add was the 'wench' thought she was thinking about the young girl. The drow were loose with their morals, it was true. But this girl was trouble and Zatana had seen that look before on a face. It rarely ended well for the men.

Perhaps she would have some mercy and claim he was needed by the Prince's decree?

Then again, she thought as the record keeper slipped into her hand and she lowered herself in the saddle, perhaps not. Offering the tiny familiar the book, she nudged the horse on.

Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Hawthorne
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The Record-Hunter sat upon the shingles as Zatana dashed away, completely content with recording this conversation. It did its work in silence, eerily quiet as it wrote down what was being said. Although it did not know them personally, the familiar knew enough from its master's dossiers. It filled in the names of Acrius, Faira, and even Zatana... but it did not recognize the girl who was speaking. Thus, it noted down her most distinctive feature and listed her title down as a "redheaded woman".

As Zatana passed by atop the horse, the familiar recognized her presence and hopped down from the roof, its cloak of parchment billowing in the wind as it descended. It landed atop her hand without so much as a sound, before looking up at the Drow and the scene before it. When offered the tiny book (or rather, appropriately-sized for the origami figure), the Record-Hunter gingerly took it in its papery hands, examining it with curiosity. Although she could not spot anything telling in the figurine's featureless visage, she could detect a bit of gratitude as it nodded wordlessly.

With quill and book in hand, the origami man would spend the rest of the journey transcribing the conversation into its own folds, before copying those over to the book that was given to it. It even spent some time capturing the expression on Acrius' face whilst he was talking to the redheaded woman. The face of a man who was desperate for an exit. A Record-Hunter was not the greatest at drawing and sketches, but its work was more than serviceable.

It would show Zatana what he had written down if she asked. After all, knowledge was meant to be shared.



Balthazar gave the Prince a nod of approval. He did not smile, but the spymaster was pleased nevertheless. This was a difficult decision to make, but to know that the Prince had his priorities straight was a good thing. "...As you wish, Your Majesty." The old man stood from his seat, before bowing deeply once more. "I bid you good night." He did not take his eyes off the Prince until he had left-- he was not Emperor, but he was the Prince, and such a title, required, no, demanded respect.

It was only after the Prince had left through the door did he turn to back to his business. As Balthazar awaited the servant's return, the man walked over to the window. Procuring a lacquered wooden pipe from his pocket, the man packed it with some tobacco, before setting it alight with a whispered incantation. He breathed deeply of its contents, before blowing it out into the cold outdoor air. He did not like to partake of it often but after the death of his family, he found such a practice calming, in moderation. Detrimental to his health, perhaps, but it wasn't like he had much time left on his hands anyway.

There was a knock on his door. "M'lord, I've brought the water..."

"Enter."

Sure enough, the serving girl from before had arrived, a bucket of water in each hand. She still seemed intimidated by his presence, but it was not Balthazar's job to make people comfortable around him. "I'm going to need to heat this on your cauldron, m'lord." She squeaked. The man nodded dismissively, prompting the girl to move towards the hearth in the room. She poured water into the cauldron over the fire, her hands shaking from the exertion.

Still, it wouldn't do for another lord's servants to be on such guard around a guest like him. Someone as young as her must've been a lower servant-- nobles were not expected to know her name. But Balthazar was not an ordinary lord.

"...What is your name?"

"Uhm, me?" She asked nervously.

"I don't see anyone else around here." Balthazar commented, not unkindly.

"...Mary, m'lord."

"Miss Mary." Balthazar nodded. 'Miss' was the appropriate title for a lower servant. For a proper housekeeper, the title would be 'Missus'. "...you're doing a fine job. Please, carry on."

"T-thank you, m'lord!" Mary rushed to curtsy, nearly tripping over her skirt in the process. Balthazar couldn't help but shake his head at this.

"Go on, then." His face was impassive, but his tone was relatively friendly. "...It's going to take more than two buckets of water to fill the tub."

"R-right away, m'lord!" With that, the girl curtsied once more, properly this time, before running off to see to her duty. She would leave and return with more water three or four more times, growing increasingly tired as she did so. By the end of it, there was a full cauldron of water, which she then transferred to the wooden tub. All the while, Balthazar simply idled near the window, occasionally blowing smoke from his pipe.

When she was finished, Mary gestured to the tub, a hint of exhaustion in her tone. "The bath is ready, m'lord. Would you like me to wash your back?"

"Thank you, but that won't be necessary, Miss Mary." He might've been an old man, but he could wash his own back. Balthazar reached into a nearby coinpurse, before holding a pair of silvers in his hand-- a large payment for unskilled workers.

"I-I can't accept this, m'lord."

"Consider it payment for a job well-done." Balthazar let the barest hint of a smile shine through his stoic exterior as he dropped it into her palms. "...I'm sure that Duke Karstilli pays you well, but I suppose it should go without saying that you must keep this secret from the other maids."

She was silent for a moment, before accepting the money. "Y-yes, m'lord."

"I may call upon your services again in the future, Miss Mary." Balthazar said. "...but it is late, and I'd like to enjoy my bath in peace. Rest for now-- I'm certain you will have much work to do tomorrow."

"Of course, m'lord. Good night." She bowed properly, before exiting the room and closing the door behind her. The man nodded as she left.

Balthazar sighed. The seeds were planted-- perhaps with a bit more coaxing, she would make a suitable informant within the keep. For now, however, there were things even he could enjoy. The man emptied his pipe, disrobed in silence, and then moved to enjoy his bath. The old man clicked his tongue as he dipped his toe into the water.

The water was not as hot as he liked.
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Elizabeth smiled at Acrius. "Oh your not tired yet are you? You seem to be like someone who would have a lot of stamina. And of course my mother has allowed this." She said to him looking at Faira. "Thank you for the warning, but I'm Sure I can handle myself. Stay safe out there." She said to her waving as Faira left. Elizabeth was then about to pull Acrius away from the main street when another of what seemed to be Acrius' companions came up. Although this one was covered up the voice gave it away another woman, Elizabeth once again held onto Acrius but it seemed this woman was merely greeting him while moving on and didn't stop to chat. Alone once again Elizabeth finally decided to let go of Acrius' arm and then went to look him in the eyes, "Hey Acrius, you don't have a girlfriend or anything at home do you? Are you involved with one of those women?" She asked him while standing in a kind of shy pose arms behind her back while standing mostly on one leg turning back and forth.

----

Merik's hunt through the streets seemed to create a little bit of a commotion but it wasn't anything major that would stop him from his hunt. As he ran through the streets it took a bit, about half a hour before he found something, the sent of goblins. Immediately he would follow the sent rushing through the city his pace increasing as he did until he came to the point where he assumed the sent originated from a manhole cover leading into the sewer system underneath the city. It wouldn't take much effort to open the cover and continue the chase if he so pleased, but in making it this far would he really stop now?

----

Faira and Zatana would soon leave the city on their scouting mission heading to the east. There was little cover to hide their approach to the mountain side, but everything seemed quiet as they road. It wouldn't take them long before something would catch their attention. A hammering sound, sounds of conversation just around the corner of the mountain. Something was up, The pair quietly got off their horses to sneak a peak at what was going on. And after getting a look they would see a bit of a surprising thing. The goblins were making siege ladders from what they could make out about 20 ladders in total, and over 50 goblins out working on them. If they sat and watched for a bit the would be able to get a rough location of a tunnel entrance. Or they could try to sneak into the area and find an opening. But there wasn't any fires or light sources around to impede their vision, and goblins had decent vision at night meaning it might be a dangerous play to try and move around in the open.
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"You be careful, Acrius' 'teaching' has been known to leave men with broken bones,"

"That's a tad mean... even if somewhat valid." Acrius said the last part in a whisper.

"Zatana and I have work outside the walls tonight. The Guard will be two short, so be extra vigilant. But don't spread that about."

Oh was this an easy out? Acrius could simply excuse himself back to the keep in the guise of guarding Prince Leonidas. "Got it, report back to the keep to keep an eye on dear old Leo."

Zatana would soon appear on her mare, seemingly glaring at the red-headed girl. The drow greeted him and would leave as soon as she appeared however. Acrius would stay silent at the girl's exchange with Faira. His arm was squeezed on-and-off during their conversation, like a child's plush doll.

"Hey Acrius, you don't have a girlfriend or anything at home do you? Are you involved with one of those women?"

What in the hells is a girlfriend? The boy thought, Something like a friend whose a girl? Somewhat arbitrary but...

"In a way... yes? I would say Zatana and Faira to an extent?" Acrius said, confident that her quandary was answered. He took no heed of her spinning back and forth, simply excusing the movement as exercise, "With that said, I'd have to take my leave, the prince has summoned me."

The boy's voice was pseudo-confident at the end; hopefully she would buy it.
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Faira, unsure how the record hunter worked, borrowed a quill and ink from the guard house at the eastern gate, and while she waited for Faira, set about muffling the metal fastenings on her saddle, using bits of cloth to prevent noise as they rode. She assumed Zatana would utilize a similar trick. When the elf arrived, the two set out silently toward the mountain.

Faira got off her horse as they approached, and practically laid down on the ground to crawl into position to watch. Though she was far from known for her stealth, she moved like a beastman when hunting, and did what she could to lower her large profile.

While watching the scene play out, she pulled the record hunter from a pocket and gave it ink and quill, taking care to open the bottle for the small creature. As the paper familiar went to work, Faira murmured to Zatana.

"Bad. And who's directing this? Goblins aren't this smart. Do you think we should skirt the mountains west? See if others are doing the same?"
Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by LadyRunic
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LadyRunic The Laughing Raven

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"Must be the Orc influence." Zatana agreed, her soft tone ever more hushed on the night air. A wraith in darkness, she was comfortable in the cloak of night and lay on the ground next to Faira. Goblins had decent night vision, something that made the mission all the more dangerous. Though, having a background she did, Zatana had to admit that humans lacking night vision were good targets. Especially since the dark put most on edge. If it had been up to her to design the attack she probably would attack at night. When humans had a disadvantage and she had no need of fires that would outline archers. Something that made assassination, thieving and other little bits of nightwork so much easier. In truth, what was a siege if not a thug's way to garner themselves territory?

Uncivilized brutes. There was an art form for taking what was desired, and she had perfected it.

Then again, Zatana thought, that was pride talking and pride never did when you were not known as the best. When you were? It was expected, and it was your job to look the part and not be prideful. Her grandfather was as ever an exception to the rule. Perhaps she should question it, but there was no reason. The dark elf had seen the lesson in action and it had proven true. Shifting slightly, she had tucked the record keeper and his little book into her armor. Nowhere near the grimoire, but she eyed Faira's.

"Too many to get into the tunnel. Leave the horses and go on foot? We are in enemy territory now." Zatana suggested, nodding towards the direction Faira had suggested they check out. "This could be a diversion." A feint. Zatana wanted to check out the tunnel in truth, the orders of the Prince held her back as did caution. She had been reckless enough. Another foray into foolish action and if she didn't lose her nose from poking it too far? Zatana did not want to be known for her reckless actions. They had the hot-headed man and his drowess-esque girl for that. Her job was to see the Prince was alive, this mission all the others? They were only to build trust, to allow her to prove she was useful, and to remain in the Royal Guard.

But Zatana really wanted to find where the orc leader was. Mayhaps she would be able to stick a nice long stiletto into his heart.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Arthanus
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Arthanus Grey Jedi

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Elizabeth gave a little frown hearing Acrius' words. "Both? I didn't think you to be such a playboy. And if you have a duty to the prince I understand." She says while letting go of him. "But first." She moves in and kisses him passionately. "If you already have two I don't see the difference in one more." She says as she walks back "Have a good night, I'll see you on the walls tomorrow" She says walking away from him leaving him alone for the night.

----

Merik's hunt leading into the sewers was quite uneventful although very informative. Although he doesn't find any goblins or orcs he is able to track the sent to a sewer grate outside the city that has recently been removed and it seems just inside the sewer sets of sapping supplies were left for use at a later time.

----

After scouting out the Eastern front Zatana and Faira returned to the city reporting what they found. It wouldn't be long before Balthazar would be given the reports. The attacks on the tunnels were delayed and an emergency strategy meeting would be held in the morning.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Inertia
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Inertia Pretty Lackadaisical

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Acrius nodded at Elizabeth's words. It seemed that his ploy would work out. He almost left when she muttered;

"But first."

The boy turned around in anticipation of her saying one last thing before they were enclosed in a kiss. Acrius himself had no idea what in the world was happening and stood there stupidly. With an arched brow, he thought back to the past; he had seen men and women do this exact same action in public. Mostly Lancelot with different women every time Acrius went to visit him. As such, in his mind he surmised the kiss to be some sort of specific and odd pleasantry exchanged in the Empire. Otherwise he'd have no idea as to why she'd done so. A mental note was made in his head; ask Balthazar about the pleasantry.

"Err- goodbye." Acrius said as he wiped his lips on his sleeves. However he counted his lucky stars; Aside from that whole exchange, he was finally alone. However the night grew darker and it was best to get some rest. The amount of stress he accumulated over the stress-release was imbalanced. It's best to call it a night and end the day.

Acrius made his way back to the keep. A few soldiers and even citizens were out and about; mostly drunk and eager to make their way back to their beds. He tried to keep his mind off what in the hell happened that night.

The gatekeeper was wary of him but reluctantly let him into the keep after Acrius showed him the (admittedly dirtied up) Royal Guard emblem. The boy would soon realize he had no idea where he'd be allowed to sleep; he flagged down one of the serving girls. She too seemed to think him a low-ranking soldier and treated him somewhat crudely. It was no skin off his nose, however, as he came from a rather poor background (ex-sellsword and gladiator) and was used to similar treatment. He wasn't really one for formality or rankings- atleast in terms of needing to 'respect' those above you because of (what he thinks are) arbitrary rankings. Being born into nobility and being born as a commoner was a simple coin-flip.

As Acrius was being led to the soldier's barracks he remembered he had actually left his armour and weaponry in one of the private rooms- his room, probably. He asked the serving girl where the private rooms were but she scoffed before he showed her the emblem aswell. Her demeanor changed rather abruptly and she curtly apologized before leading him to the private rooms.

With a weary sigh he sunk into his bedding and ruminated on the day. He considered the day more stressful than fun. Was it just karmic fate, but what had he done wrong? Pushing those thoughts away, he thought of battle tactics and strategy. With these thoughts he slowly drifted off to sleep.

Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Arthanus
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Arthanus Grey Jedi

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As night became morning the City of Bergkoff was a buzz with soldiers retaking their places while those from the night watch made their way to rest. As things in the city start to kick off Leonidas called a strategy meeting calling in all of the royal guard as well as the captains of the city. Once everyone had gathered he started. "Everyone, Thank you for coming this morning, Our reports from last night pointed that the Orc forces are planning a large scale attack today from every front. That being said I wanted to get you all together before this happened so we know what we are up against. To the west they are bringing Battering Rams, probably aiming to break the weakened gate. Reports from the North says that the Orcs are planning to join the fray and attack in full force from that side. Siege ladders to the East and finally it seems that they were trying to use explosion to hit us from below from the sewers. Luckily we confiscated the explosives that were left in the sewers, but that is still s weak spot. We have fortified the area for now, but I don't think it will hold long. With that being said we don't have much time. Imperial Soldiers report to your positions we don't know when the assault will begin. As for my guard we will spread ourselves across the city to assist on every front. I have thoughts on where to place you, but if you have a preference let me know now." He explained letting the Captains leave the room before turning to his guard looking for their answers.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by ReusableSword
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ReusableSword The Mighty.

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Merik Roak



Merik continued on his trek, the scent of goblin drawing him through a grate and into the sewers below. The smell didn’t bother him much when it came to hunting goblins one should always expect them to go places that humans would not. The dank and dark depths of the sewer system reeked of goblin and Orc, Merik kept in a ready position keeping his senses high they could be around any corner. However, although the scent was fresh but there was nothing down there with him. The only thing he found was an opening to outside the walls and supplies meant for demolitions.

By the smell he knew that it was similar to what they had used against the gate earlier today. Slowly the large lizard poked his head up and out of the hole looking around carefully. He could see the walls of the city and the forest a ways off as well as the grate that had kept them out at one time. Merik slowly reached out gripping the metal bars and pulled it back into place. With a mighty yank and a twist Merik tried to jam it into position, this would make it difficult to reopen.

Merik had taken as much of the sapping supplies as he could with him back up to the nearest guard post and alerted them to what he had saw and gave them what he had brought. With a few gags they quickly pushed him out of the way and towards the stables to clean himself up. It wasn’t the first time he was told to do something like this but he understood that smelling nice was pleasant for most humans.

It didn’t take him long to clean up, the other animals in the stable where a little upset that he had been in there. The giant had found himself closer to the keep then the west gate by the time he was done and knew he would have to get some sleep before the day’s events ahead. The guards at the gate reluctantly let him in towards the keep but he found a nice place for a nap nearby.

Still in the darkness of the night Merik was able to find a large fountain in a decorative garden. The Lizardfolk found that the waters where cool and soothing and soon the beast was somehow completely inside the fountain. With his large head resting just above the waterline Merik found that he could not keep his heavy eye lids open in the cool waters and fell asleep.

---------------------------- The next morning ----------------------

Merik was awoken rather rudely, a few guards that had seen him once the sun began to rise had been poking him from a distance and telling him to wake up, "Oi! Wake up you oversized lizard. The Prince requested all of you's to meet him inside." Merik was in no mood to leave the waters just yet and at one point even bit the pole in half with a grumble. The lizard almost seemed to be acting like a young man that didn’t want to get out of bed. Still, the guards where persistent and eventually he slithered out onto the ground to stretch. Then made his way toward where the guards said the prince summoned him too.

The large warrior left a trail of water where ever he went within the keep. He took his usual spot at the back of the meeting as it was never really hard for him to see over the others. Waiting patiently for the prince to finish talking about his strategy and what to expect Merik spoke up, “Merik will go to the west gate. Merik requests the use of the confiscated supplies against the battering rams and more small wooden pillars to delay advance.” The lizard never really spoke too much and rarely complained during these meetings. He understood what was happening and how he could help.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Borosev
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Borosev

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Rudolph slept alright, but suffered from a slight hangover from the previous night. He decided to go get some air, and see if he could get some quiet to himself. And for the first time in a while, Rudolph was in a good mood.
In about an hour or so, there would be a troop drill. They would need to go over whos still around and who wasn't. But for now, the troop could rest.

The morning air was crisp and cool, which was welcome considering how uncomfortably warm it was in the barracks. The streets were somewhat empty, with the occasional guard patrols, and citizens tending to their chores, otherwise it was quiet.

After taking some time on his walk, Rudolph noticed a familiar figure collapsed in an alley next to a tavern. Manald? He looks terrible thought Rudolph before he turned and walked away. After about a few minutes had past, he returned with a pair of buckets both filled with water. He then chucked one bucket of water onto the beastman, "Wakey wakey." said Rudolph chuckling as he did so. It startled the man awake, and then Rudolph chucked the second bucketfull, "That ones for the smell." he continued.

Shortly after, a guard from the keep appeared out of nowhere in front of the tavern, "Soldier, have you seen a large man by the name of sir Manald Halung, a member of the Royal Guard?" he asked, and Rudolph simply pointed at the man on the floor in the alley.
The guard came over and saw Manalds shamful visage, he hesistated before speaking, "Sir Manald, his higness Prince Leonidas requests your presence at the keep in about an hours time." the guard gave a brief salute before he hastily departed.

"Sounds like the Prince is up to something." Rudolph shrugged as he watched the guard leave. He turned toward Manald and gestured, "Come on, lets get something to eat."
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by LadyRunic
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LadyRunic The Laughing Raven

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There was a slight knocking at the door to the room Zatana had been directed to by a few servants. The dark elf wanted to ignore the persistent sound and the voice that accompanied it. "Ma'am, the Prince is summoning all the Royal Guards-?" Sitting up, the woman looked at the neatly folded pile of armor. The doorknob rattled, but there was no worry it would open. As a precaution against a hostile city, Zatana had locked the room before sleeping. "I heard you. I will not be long." The normally soft voice rose in irritation, as the lithe body slipped from the bed and crossed to the armor as she began buckling the hardened leather into place. The stitching from her repairs the day before held firm, something Zatana was grateful for. 'Your armor and weapons are just parts of yourself. Care for them as you would for yourself.' The words, the practice had been drilled ruthlessly into the dark elf woman and with good reason.

The plaits of hairs were quickly pinned in place and the cloak about her shoulders. Dipping a finger into one of the pouches, she fished out the mask she wrapped about her neck and over her jaw. Observing herself in the reflection of her dagger, Zatana chuckled slightly. She cut an interesting figure, if perhaps ridiculous. Yet, the drow could not bear to do away with the disguise. It was part of the image she had built up in the Empire of Man, and extra security against revealing her thoughts to the humans and have them take offense to something. Let them wonder and question. The mind supplied itself with answers, and she honestly enjoyed listening to the different gossip. If she needed to change her image to become a character? Then it was simple. Stepping from the room, she paused a passing servant. "Where might I find something hot to drink? I had a late night." And I suspect I will need to check it for poison. Zatana thought to herself. It was nothing more than a precaution born of habit and to unlearn it would be to invite trouble and not from merely poisoners.

The servant, a young woman, looked slightly terrified. "They should have something there, My Lady."

"I am no Lady." Zatana firmly correctly, perhaps a bit too sharp as the servant jolted. "I am merely another of the Guard, miss." And to this servant, she was a monster come from the depths of tales and history to terrorize her. Giving a clear sign of dismissal as she turned away, Zatana wanted to give the servant a stern lecture that you did not run from someone higher. It was like running from a predator, the predator would find their attention drawn and thus risked a chase. Her lips twitched the hardest thing to do was to master the patience of being able to walk away. To not raise a fuss, but after over a hundred years? She had that little bit of deception down, if only she had the common sense not to jump off of walls.

Chuckling to herself, Zatana patted her pockets and satisfied herself her bow, quiver, knives, and kit were all in place. A quick mental note that perfecting the bow was the task at hand, she privately hoped the goblins would stay at a distance today and give her some more target practice. She usually could hit what she aimed at, now it was a matter of practice to master it in combination to the art of war. If she had not been sent away on this assignment, she would have been working with the bow til her fingers were raw. As it was, the idea was tempting. Wincing, Zatana recalled the incident with the gate. Oh, she hoped beyond hope that story would die in this city. It was like waking up after a bad fight, and she was going to have to explain why she had not just stuck with the bow.

'I enjoy the feel of being close to my enemies and the weight of my knives a more comfortable option.' That was not going to cut it for an explanation. 'I could hardly hit the target?' She could have hit a few of the goblins, but not given the soldiers time and spared the gate.

Stepping into the room with the others, Zatana knew her shoulders showed her stiffness. Anger with herself, for being less than what she should have been. Shrugging slightly to loosen her shoulders, the drow woman knew she had done the best option. Perfection was for those under, and could not be expected from the self. It took time to cultivate and her talent laid in knives and the shadows more than anything else. Well, aside from a few lighter pockets and a missing trinkets that found their way into darker hands. Zatana accepted a hot mug form a servant before they left, Zatana, found a shadowy spot and nursed the warm drink that kept her senses sharp and prepared her for the day.

"Highness, if the orcs and goblins are going all out perhaps it is a chance to slip behind them? See if we can discover more while they are looking elsewhere." A risky option, but it was that or sit on a wall and badger herself for her lack of perfect skill. "Destroy their supplies perhaps, yes?"
Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Hawthorne
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Hawthorne Mageknight

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Within the confines of his room, the chill of the cold morning air was counteracted by the still-warm embers of the hearth. Balthazar wordlessly sat up from his bed, before moving to stand up. Decades of experience had made the spymaster an early riser, and besides-- the old man didn't like sleeping for too long.

Long slumbers had a tendency to dredge up old memories.

With the sun still cresting the horizon, the spymaster decided to do his morning routine while there was still time. He started by doing some stretches, followed by general calisthenics. He did not exercise as strenuously as some of the other, more martially-inclined members of the Royal Guard, but Balthazar knew that as he was getting older. He needed to keep his body as sharp as he kept his mind if he wanted to be of any use.

And so he did.

By the end of his workout, the old man had worked up a bit of a sweat. The secret to his remarkable physique for someone as old as he was was not a complex one: the body was a tool like any other, and if you took good care of your tools, then they will last you a lifetime. Balthazar moved to clean himself up with a nearby basin of water and some linens when he heard a knock at the door.

"M'lord, the Prince has called for you. He awaits you in the War Room."

He recognized that voice, even from behind the door.

"I'll be right out, Miss Mary. Allow me to get dressed." Balthazar replied as he wiped himself clean. He made himself look presentable enough, before opening the door to meet her.

"I have another task for you if you are available, Miss Mary."

She hesitated for a moment, before responding. "W-what is it, m'lord?"

"A friend of mine is waiting outside the gates of the Keep. He is dressed in a red cloak." The old man said, before handing her a token. "Give this to him-- he will know it is from me."

"...and then?"

"And then, you will receive his package and have it ready for me by the time I reach the War Room."

Mary was silent, her mind turning to thoughts of suspicion and worry. Balthazar was quick to reassure her.

"Do this for me, and I will pay you." He says. "...do it discreetly, and I will ensure you are rewarded handsomely."

She clutched the token in her hands tightly before nodding, resolute. "Yes, m'lord.

With that, she was off, and the old man returned to his bedroom to change in full. He slipped on his normal attire, a set of scholar's robes and traveler's clothes-- court finery was better suited to courts, not strategy meetings. With a sigh, Balthazar put on his glasses. He could see just fine at a distance, but he needed them to examine things up close, which was a necessary act for his profession. After securing the rest of his equipment, he exited his quarters and made a beeline towards the War Room. Breakfast could wait until after the Prince's briefings.



Balthazar was punctual as he usually was. He gave the Prince a formal bow and greeting, before moving to his side. The spymaster took a few moments to go over the reports Zatana and Faira had brought back, as well as to recall the Record-Hunters to his service. Roughly fifty Goblins working on twenty siege ladders in the dead of night. Troubling information. As well as Acrius struggling with a woman-- complete with a sketch (in a handcrafted tiny book, no less). As entertaining as that was, it was irrelevant to the current situation. The old man decided to open his other reports once it was just the Royal Guard.

For all her faults, it seemed that Miss Mary could be relied upon to do this much, at the very least.

The remainder of the city's captains, as well as the other members of the Royal Guard, funneled in, the Prince began his speech. With siege ladders to the east, Orcs to the north, battering rams to the west, and Sappers in the city's sewer systems, the defenders had quite a bit on their hands today. Soon, the captains had left, and talk had shifted as to where each member of the Royal Guard would be placed to assist.

Balthazar had an idea of where his place was to be.

"My place is here in the War Room, your Majesty." Balthazar started. "...but if my magic is required elsewhere, I believe it would find its strongest use in the sewers. " The dark, tight corridors were difficult to maneuver in, which made evading his magic a difficult prospect. In addition, while Goblins are well-suited to seeing in darkness, only those with magic could peer through magical darkness-- something that would level the playing field, so long as the frontline could hold. "Of course, I can act flexible enough to be anywhere you require, Your Majesty. "

When Zatana had broached the topic of sneaking behind enemy lines to search for more information, and perhaps to sabotage their supplies. A good enough time as any, Balthazar reached into his coat pocket to examine his parcel. Thankfully, it was untampered. He began examining the reports from his other informants, as well as the collaboration between his agents and that of Duke Karstilli's scouts. The results were... fruitful, to say the least.

"Before we discuss that, I feel I should share my findings." Balthazar began. "Firstly, it appears more Goblins have arrived to reinforce the losses they took yesterday." He said. "In fact, it's quite likely that we will be dealing with more today than we did yesterday."

"Secondly, it appears our Dwarven allies are delayed. It appears the tunnels they used to move around in the area have been collapsed." He explained. "It will take some time to clear them-- assuming nothing interferes with them, I expect them to do so within a few days, perhaps a week depending on the damage."

"Lastly, some of our scouts have managed to spot their camp." He announced, pointing to its location on the map. "While surveilling the area, they had spotted an unfamiliar figure within the Orcs. Reportedly, they appeared to be humanoid, but they were not Goblin or Orc." Balthazar stated. "Although we have nothing to confirm such things, I would surmise that this figure is responsible for the advanced tactics of these invaders."

"I'd go as far as to say that they are the brains of the operation. If we can eliminate them, then their army will fall into disarray." He finished. "...Unfortunately for us, it appears their campsite is constantly on the move, likely in an effort to avoid such tactics." Whoever was leading this army was intelligent enough to try and avoid being caught out in the open, at the very least. The spymaster then turned to Zatana. "If you wish to look for information, I'd start there, and then perhaps move to track their whereabouts."

"However... it is a mission fraught with risk and danger." Balthazar continued. "We should not overplay our hand, especially in a precarious position like this." He explained. "I think you should stay here and help us repel the next wave, and await an opportunity to strike. Of course, if an opportunity to disrupt their supply lines presents itself... then by all means."

He then turned to the Prince and the Duke. "What do you think, Your Majesty? And you, Duke Karstilli?" In the end, Prince Leonidas' word was final, and of course, Duke Karstilli could easily voice his own opinion. Balthazar was simply an advisor, and he knew it. Still, the role suited him just fine.
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