Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by POOHEAD189
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"Not to worry, my friend. I am just glad you're ok." Kayden said to his friend with a sweeping bow, extravagant even to those whom he was somewhat familiar with when it suited him. "Honestly I'm just as worried as your sibling I'm not certain where they are, but I'm sure they'll show up soon. A person has to eat, after all. In fact, let's head off the dining hall and see if we can grab some of that Garreg Mach food I've heard so much about. The Banquets here are said to be extravagant."

With that, Kayden led his fellow Eagle down the hallowed, winding halls of the veritable fortress they found themselves in, poking around for a bit and asking servants and staff directions until they made it just to the dining hall, which did not disappoint the debonair prince. The chamber was tall expansive, with long tables and fine silverware presented for any who sought to take a seat. The scent of food wafted toward his waiting nostrils, and an exuberant 'mmmm' escaped his lips.

He would go grab whatever food there was, but as he made his way to where he would serve himself, he saw Lienna, Auberon, and Kellen sitting with one another, and a strange fellow making his way off. He recognized him as Derec, but he had forgotten where he said he had come from. I'll find out later, I suppose he thought to himself. I need to keep better tabs on people. It was just at that moment that the thief that had flown under his radar sped past him into the dining hall, only to be tackled by the guards. Kayden guffawed at the spectacle, more than a little surprised at the sudden eruption of movement, and a thief at this place of worship, what's more! It was free entertainment, plus, he didn't see his fiance in sight!

"I'm going to go and say hello to our fellow students over at the table, Valerian." He said, and with his plate of food now full, he walked over there with a deliberate stride, poking his head over the group that congregated about the dining table. "Why hello! Mind if I join for some good conversation with my food? Don't feel pressured..." He assured them. "It might seem a bit odd for Eagles and Lions to sit together, but I thought I'd ask regardless."
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Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by ThatCharacter
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Now that Kellen was seated again, he found that his legs couldn’t remain still. The failure of his plan had an unintended consequence that he was coming to regret – his plate was empty, and that meant he had nothing to occupy himself, beyond his classmates. Instinctively, his eyes wandered around the hall. Not too far from him were Clarissa and Jorah, the two Deer. Jorah appeared to be wearing some sort of… make-up? Kellen had never seen something like it, besides a far more garish mask his great aunt had sported whenever she arrived at the keep. For half a second, he could swear the two were looking at him. What were they saying? Was it his empty plate? Or were they looking at his classmates?

It was only after a moment that he tuned back in to realize Auberon was speaking to said classmates. It wasn’t the words that caught his attention, but the tone. For the first time, he almost sounded… approving? It was this thought that cause him to sit up slightly and pay attention. He smiled feverishly as Auberon gave him a nod while mentioning future sparring sessions. “Wonderful.” He said, though it was more of a whisper. He looked down towards his plate, remembering sadly that there was nothing there to occupy him. “I’d, um, prefer not to do anything in the stables. Or get stuck on a Pegasus. Actually, if you could keep me inside that’s likely for the best.” He stopped himself short of saying he’d help Auberon with is paperwork. For one, Kellen found it difficult to work productively at the best of times, and had little interest in administrative matters. Worse than that though, Kellen knew time spent with Auberon would lead to discussions, discussions would lead to questions, and questions would lead to more displays of incompetence and anxiety.

Kellen knew better than to whip his head to the side to gauge Lienna’s reaction to Auberon’s overt comment about her table manners. He did his best to contain a smile at her quick jab back. As much as he was aware of his position, he too had trade insults about the nobility whenever his sister had started to behave too haughtily. Not that they had ever had the same bite that Lienna’s verbal barbs did. For half a moment, he felt at home, sitting around the table with a plate he had cleared too quickly and watching his siblings bicker. Nevermind if the conflict was a bit more serious. The soft smile on his face remained even as Auberon made mention of his attire. He looked down at his messy sleeves. [color=63a2e4]“I really hope they aren't all like this. I think my parents used my old measurements.”

That warm feeling in his chest turned to ice as he saw a blur whip through the door to the dining hall. Normally he would have subconsciously had his eyes trained on the entrances and exits to the large room, but he had let his guard down. All he noticed was a fuzzy bit of movement before he saw several guards give chase. A green-haired man was brought down to his knees as the Golden Deer’s professor stepped forward with a bow. As his eyes took in the scene, his body remained stock still. He immediately recognized the feeling of his chest tightening and his breath getting shorter. Were there more of them? Was he armed?

His thinking was interrupted by Lienna, who he noticed had knocked over her own chair and bumped into his. This was enough to spur him to action, as he shot up quickly and his hand instinctively went to his hip. Of course, there was nothing there. Kellen had left his blade in his room. But that instinctual motion brought him a slight bit of comfort. The rogue appeared to be subdued, and with the large number of guards in the room, Kellen realized they were in no real danger. It was only after had made that assessment that he could take in what the man was saying. Something about the Mark? Kellen had to assume that meant crests. His time out west had quickly exposed him to the way some felt about crests. But he wasn’t sure what he meant when he said when she comes… Who was he referring to? And what did he mean by bringing the world to its knees? He looked to his fellow students to see if they showed any sign of recognition.

It was as he examined his classmates reactions that he noticed Lienna was still quite upset. Looking down at his own hands, he was surprised to note that they were quite still. It was only after he took a deep breath that they resumed their customary fidgeting. He had half a mind to try and comfort her, but realized that the last thing she wanted was for her reaction to draw any more attention. He sat down slowly, turning his head towards Lienna. “It doesn’t seem as though they’re very discerning in who they let through the gate. Not that we paid much attention either, but the keep wasn’t as accessible as the facilities here.”He tried his best to muster up a smile. The speed with which the intruder had been dealt with gave him a small shred of comfort, but it wasn’t much.

He was surprised when he saw the Crown Prince of the Adrestian Empire – was it alright to call him Kayden? – approach their table. He titled his head downwards as an approximation of a bow, though his neck straightened back up far too quick to sell the façade of nonchalance. “Of course! I’m – erm -- finished, so you can grab my seat if you’d like.” Of course, there was plenty of space at the table, but Kellen wasn’t sure what level of deference he was expected to show to the future ruler of the Adrestian Empire.
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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Tony Pajamas
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« ═══════╣ Handwaving of what happened during previous events to catch up ╠═══════ »


While most other students had found other things to attend to and busied themselves, Saskia had taken to her room. Compared to how often the siblings had managed to travel prior and to what events, this was much more to take in. She found her peace in unpacking her things and making small rearrangements to the room, sorting what few books she had brought, and wandering the halls after all else was done. Compared to the estate she had resided at this place was truly expansive in some ways.

The cathedral itself would be the most obvious and sizeable difference, though given as it was a monastery after all. It wasn't extremely often she had the chance to visit proper churches either so it would be quite the stark jump. Besides the most obvious choice, the library also stood in great contrast to what the Aegir's personal library held. Diversity, quantity and quality were all improvements to what limited choice she had before. Choice that dwindled as she aged and depleted herself of new material. Something she was all too curious to start pouring into as the bell sounded in tune with the growing groan of her stomach. Her own form of excitement had distracted her from all else and hunger's reminder had finally pulled her back. It wouldn't take too long for her to find her way to the Dinner Hall, joining the others belatedly.

Finding a meal, she'd find her brother already had a place as Adrestia's Heir walked off to join others. Puzzling, but she'd seat herself beside, taking a breath as she rested.

"An... exciting first day. You didn't cause too much trouble did you brother?" She'd ask, almost sarcastically, though some of her attention still held to Kayden leaving the table without finishing his plate. "Did you... upset him or something?" Her thought drifted outward in a slightly confused tone.
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Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by Scribe of Thoth
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Evidently animals didn't like Kellen, or the other way around; the feeling was often mutual. That was actually a good bit of information to know; Auberon assumed every noble son in Faerghus - and a Fraldarius, at that - that didn't stand to inherit his father's title had aspirations of knighthood. Kellen was probably too shy to protest if Auberon had forced him on a horse during combat exercises, so better to know now than assign one of his teammates counterproductively to the whole House's detriment. He didn't know about indoor chores; Jorah only mentioned the ones outside, but surely weed pulling was within the boy's capabilities if nothing else.

Auberon politely chuckled at Lienna's joke - at least, he assumed it was a joke. If there was some strange peasant custom of crawling around on one's hands and knees, it was certainly barbaric enough to be genuinely laughed at and he shouldn't feel bad regardless. He almost responded, though the sudden clattering of metal promptly cut him off. That sounded like quite the kitchen accident - no, that wasn't right, it continued for too long. It sounded like a fight. His head swiveled toward the doorway, where he caught a flash of some fleeing figure and a procession of guards in pursuit. Did one of the students already get into enough trouble that he needed to be wrangled by armed men? He could only imagine the disgrace that would accompany being dismissed from the academy on day one over a grievous breach in conduct.

The chair falling drew his attention back to his housemates, where Lienna had gotten to her feet in record time. Honestly, Auberon was impressed with her reflexes, even if she looked more akin to a startled deer there. On the other hand, Kellen surprisingly didn't look like a startled deer for once. Auberon couldn't begin to fathom what strange mental gymnastics was going on in his head that ranked introducing himself as scarier than confronting the source of that commotion - Goddess above, he even reached for his hip like he was ready to stab the poor culprit - but he could only assume Kellen really was serious about physical training. Good for him.

The shouting was Auberon's first indicator that something serious may have happened; those words weren't the mewling of a student who got caught doing something he shouldn't, it was a rambling madman. Maybe a crazed pilgrim that made the trek up Fodlan's Throat and finally snapped at the splendor of it all - Goddess bless his heart. Still, the young lord could hardly find much sympathy for a doomsayer that had the audacity to defile such hallowed ground with his crimes and spout off ominous heresies when brought to justice.

"Disgraceful. Garreg Mach should be a welcoming place, but blasphemers like that likely ruin it for everyone," Auberon muttered in agreement with the other Lions' comments, "At least the guards handled it quickly. I hope that isn't a common occurrence."

The approaching crown prince seemed far less shaken by the spectacle than most in the dining hall. In fact, if Auberon wasn't certain that Kayden was present, he would have assumed the Adrestian simply missed it all given his casual demeanor. Perhaps the Imperial Palace had a regular issue with deranged intruders and he was just desensitized. Either that, or he was desperately trying not to seem out of place while he dined with the enemy, as it were. Surely the Eagles didn't tire of their own prince so quickly that he needed to search for other dinnertime company.

"You can sit back down, Kellen, His Highness doesn't need his seat warmed for him," Auberon offhandedly advised before giving Kayden his full attention. Respect was fine, but outright capitulating to a foreign noble just looked weak. He gave an inviting, open-palmed gesture toward the unoccupied chair beside him as he continued, "By all means, Your Highness. We were discussing chore assignment, I think. Will the other Eagles be joining us or have they banished you from their table already?"


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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Obscene Symphony
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Jorah raised his eyebrows at Clarissa’s comments. She’d already been talking to some of the Lions, eh? Well, if the Officers’ Academy welcomed commoners alongside nobles, then it came as no surprise to him that one of them was “behind on a number of social and academic skills”. Outside the walls of Great Lords’ estates back home were hundreds and thousands of everyday peasants in the same boat; if anything, it was the nobility’s pathological attachment to ceremony and procedure that was out of place. Of course, he’d been banging that drum since childhood and no one ever bothered to listen, so he doubted he’d change any minds now. So what if his point was tangentially related to worming his way out of etiquette classes? It was a good point!

But doomed and silenced as ever, Jorah elected to use his mouth for chewing rather than talking, starting ravenously on his second plate before it had the chance to get cold. That was, until a scuffle broke out just outside the dining hall and some lunatic started shouting about the end times.

A spike of panic rang out through the dining hall like a scream at the sound of a struggle, but while the thief himself was radiating a fair bit of it, he wasn’t the source; if Jorah had to guess, it was more likely the white-haired Lion - Lena? - Clarissa’d been talking about, who jumped to her feet in record time at the first sign of a struggle. That wasn’t the lightning-fast reaction time of someone who “felt out of place”; the closest thing Jorah could compare it to was the behaviour of the sailors he drank with on the Derdriu waterfront. Some of them would jump up at the first sound of trouble, be it the crack of a breaking chair leg or a peal of lightning; he learned it was a reflex honed by years at sea, where pirates and storms could converge on a ship at the drop of a hat. He doubted this Lion was the seafaring type, but if he had to guess, he’d say she’d spent a fair bit of her life on the lookout for something.

Not that the thief wasn’t interesting in his own right. He had to have a set like bronze to try stealing from Garreg Freaking Mach in broad daylight, if not a bit light of head to compensate, and it was clear to Jorah that he believed every word he said: the man was a storm in his own right, a swirling maelstrom of dread and panic and feelings of doom, all amplified like a horn in an empty hall. The poor man must have been out of his mind with fear; maybe that was why whatever affliction he clearly suffered from prompted him to do something so stupid.

But the man was quickly taken care of - though Jorah was sure it didn’t feel that way to him - and after a moment, the thrum of conversation in the dining hall resumed, tensions starting to ease as students and faculty alike shared commentary. Clarissa spoke up as well, earning her a mischievous look from Jorah.

“I don’t know…” he hummed, eyeing his friend. “You heard him. The Mark will be our downfall when she comes. Maybe he’s really our saviour warning us of our impending doom.” Jorah waggled his fingers at Clarissa like a nursemaid telling a ghost story before resuming his work with his fork. “That better not have been a shot at my face paint,” he added, slurring with his mouth full.

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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Obscene Symphony
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The dining hall seemed to calm down faster than Lienna did, her heart still thundering in her ears even as conversations resumed. She was largely deaf to the ensuing conversation at her own table, eyes locked on her unfinished food as she tried to ground herself. She was starving when she got here, but she’d definitely lost her appetite now; if that sort of “excitement” was what she could expect on the very grounds of Garreg Mach, she wasn’t sure if it would ever return. Wasn’t this supposed to be the holiest ground in all of Fódlan? The safest place in the world? She knew they’d be expected to venture beyond Monastery walls to fight, but she presumed that with nobles sending their children here, they’d at least be safe where they ate and slept. Goddess above, she’d uprooted her life and come here to escape the sudden swarms of soldiers in the middle of meals. She left everything she knew so that she wouldn’t have to live on her toes, ready to bolt at a moment’s notice. She thought that was a curse of the borderlands, but once more her ignorance reared its head; perhaps this was just a dangerous world and she was doomed to live in it.

Of course, if that was the case, then everyone bragging about the wonder of Garreg Mach had some explaining to do.

By the time her heart finally slowed, the approach of a new figure stirred her from her thoughts, and she looked up to see a tall, dark-haired boy with a plate standing over them. Kellen jumped from his seat with apologies on his lips, but Auberon, to his credit, had none of it. He referred to the new one as “His Highness”, but if not for the newcomer’s comment about Eagles and Lions, Lienna wouldn’t have had a clue who he was. Memory jogged, she did remember the future Emperor of Adrestia being in their introductory class. She was still helpless as to his name, but frankly, that ventured beyond the limits of her interest.

Ugh, but that was no way to think, was it? Now that the fright of the thief’s capture had passed, she was reminded of her other reason for coming to Garreg Mach; it wouldn’t do to sequester herself away from potential future allies, and like it or not, the Emperor of a neighbouring nation would be a good contact to have.

Taking a sip at her water, Lienna finally opted to speak. “Good evening, Your Highness,” she greeted the Eagle, for once grateful that pompous highborn honorifics relieved her of the inconvenience of having to admit she forgot his name. That was about all he’d get from her, though; she didn’t raise from her seat or even nod her head, and quickly moved her attention to Auberon. Right, Kellen had said something about chores.

“As for chores, it sounds like I’ll be in the same boat as Kellen,” she told him. “Animals don’t seem to like me; you’ll get better results if I can give them a wide berth.”

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Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by POOHEAD189
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Kayden hadn't realized his approach would cause a stir. For the life of him, he thought Valerian was behind him, and so he strode up to the table with an imperious nonchalance, wearing that same easy smile. Truth be told, despite being on different 'teams' he quite enjoyed the Lions before him. Kellen seemed an extremely swell fellow and Auberon, though brash, was as dedicated a leader as Kayden was, he was sure. Lienna he couldn't quite gauge, but he wasn't going to assume the worst unless she proved it. If nothing else, she was attractive and hadn't immediately proven to be aggressive, which was more than he could say about other noblewomen.

The Prince began to speak before Kellen nearly leaped out of his seat for him.

"No, no, no, Don't get up, my friend!" Kayden chuckled earnestly, speaking almost simultaneously with Auberon's same rebuke. "I'd rather sit with you than take your seat-"

He halted when Auberon's words caught his attention. Kayden turned and saw Valerian over at another table and...Saskia!? He hadn't seen her in quite awhile. Strange, he hadn't yet sat down but he supposed they wanted to make an Eagle's only nest. At Lienna's words, he fully spun in her direction and gave an impressive bow with his full plate. "Good evening, my lady. It brightens my day to see such beauty amongst us. As for myself, it seems I was just mistaken in my team's sitting intentions, Auberon. Perhaps we can visit later?" Without skipping a beat, he inclined his head to the Lions, as if everything that transpired was either intentional or simply amusing.

"Have a lovely day, my friends. Perhaps we'll speak tonight. Pardon my sudden intrusion."

With that, he bowed low once more. Evidentially the training of courtly etiquette included balancing. His food remained stationary upon his plate, well in his hand. He turned and strode over to his teammates once again. "My apologies, I went to say hello to the competition. How's the food?"
Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Achronum
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“Why would he be making a comment on your decoration? They suit you quite well, in my opinion.” Clarissa spoke absently before she really heard what he said. “Oh yes, our savior stealing from… Jorah, that is absolutely disgusting. Please finish chewing before you speak.” She chastised him, nose wrinkling in disgust. She could ignore the vast majority of the irritating habits he found so dear but that one she couldn’t stomach. Who wanted to see mis-colored mash spilling out of someone’s mouth while they garbled through half formed sentences? No one, that’s who.

They were too far away from the table to hear the conversation as the room buzzed back to life but Clarissa couldn’t help the surprised rise of her brow as the heir to the Adrestian throne wandered to the Blue Lions table and then shortly took his leave. Goddess help her, she wished she could have heard whatever exchange led to that. She couldn’t imagine Prince Hersvelg merely stopped by to greet them and then return to his table. She certainly wouldn’t have. It would have been such a wonderful opportunity to connect with the other students and she’d only have stepped away if the other party was firmly disinterested in her conversation.

“Now, I regaled you with the excitement of our time apart between class and now so it’s your turn. What mischief have you managed while I wasn’t around? I meant to wander the grounds more than I did but I was distracted with my room so I certainly hope your time was more enjoyable.” Clarissa sighed, mourning the missed opportunity.
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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Kestrel
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The word of his party in the hallways made Raimund worry about the size of his dorm, as he stared into the room that was even tinier than he remembered. In hindsight Rai should've asked Jorah to help him move the furniture, as he sat down on his bed in front of the entrance of his now mostly empty dorm to catch his breath. Save for his night stand and the carpet, all of his belongings were arranged into a makeshift porch. Rai shivered to think what certain Blue Lions, should they attend, think of this set up. On the other hand, imagining some of his… Stiffer classmates, dancing to one of Jorah’s sailor shanties under the moonlight made him snicker.

As his heart rate slowed down and the evening breeze swept through his hair, Rai noticed the dining hall gradually emptying out by the students returning to their dorms and the staff to their quarters. He brushed a lock out of his face and pushed himself up. It wouldn’t do to receive any of the guests while seated, after all.
Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Hero
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Fourteenth Bell, 6th of the Great Tree Moon
"Keep those chins up! We're about halfway there!

The call had come from the front-most carriage, Michail's voice booming all around. While it was common knowledge that this would be the Rose Unit's combat orientation, the distance from the Monastery to the Knights' battle campground was not anticipated. The definition of nearby from knight to student had been underestimated--the trek didn't seem that long, really, but when seated in uncomfortable carriages with little space and a bumpy road that kept sending your shoulders and knees into the person next to you, the novelty wore off quickly. They had been trucking along for two hours already, the horses showing impressive endurance. The first carriage held three out of the four professors: Michail at the helm, Euphemia who sat towards the back with a map splayed out on her lap, and a last-second swap from Lysander to Kaira. The latter had to spend her time switching preparing a few last-minute kits and driving the second carriage, though she made sure to hand out the occasional water pouches, a little concerned that the heat would get to the students before they'd arrive.

The second carriage was where all the students had conveniently been stuffed into. It seemed fine when they first were all packed in, with Derec initially volunteering to sit on the floor when there weren't any more seats, but it was hard to debate which was worse once they were actually off, especially as the redhead seemed to go from back to front repeatedly, slowly sliding with every bump in the road. Anyone on a seat had to endure avoiding getting smacked against the back anytime a horse was suddenly spooked and decided to stop (which happened far too frequently for anyone's taste). Tomai drove the last carriage holding the group's weaponry behind the students, though it was obvious he didn't seem to have too much sympathy, looking more bored than anything.

"Ah, the Airmid River is just up ahead," Euphemia rolled up the map, storing it away before carefully standing to make sure everyone would hear her. "We'll be making a brief stop to let the horses drink and everyone can stretch their legs."

"We won't have much time for practice if we stop now," Tomai called back.

"Yes, but we could always camp out for the night and return tomorrow," She pointed out, kneeling down. "Besides, it's been a rough trip, I think the students would do better with a little break."

Trudging along, once they reached the river, everyone was free to get off. Kaira and Tomai charged themselves with checking on the horses while the Kalonic pair double-checked the map. The river wasn't too wide, though it wasn't advisable to cross as its depths couldn't be seen. There was a small, rickety-looking bridge that could support a few people, with a much sturdier stone bridge in the distance.

Tomai shrugged in response, although he looked to his left. "Luin Village is right there, we could get supplies, too--" He paused, squinting. "Hm. I see a rider on a horse coming this way."

Euphemia mimicked Tomai as she squinted, trying to get a better look. "There's two of them," She said, patting Michail to get his attention.

Kaira frowned, looking over to Michail. "Should we get back to the carriages?" She asked him worriedly.

"No. Worst-case scenario, we'd do better making a stand than trying to run away," Michail stated, hopping off as he pulled out his spear. "They look like they're in a hurry, though. Maybe they'll just cross."

"Optimistic, but it looks like they're headed straight here," Tomai pointed out.

"Maybe they need help?" Kaira suggested.

"Then why not go to the village?" Euphemia asked.

Michail frowned as well, eyes narrowing for a moment before he realized something. "Because they're coming from the village," He realized. "They might be under attack."

"And they think three carriages might be helpful?" Euphemia gasped. When Tomai wordlessly gestured to the Knight of Serios' banners on the sides of the carriages, she let out a sheepish laugh. "Oh...well, we have one knight here. What should we do?"
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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Achronum
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The monastery was everything she could have dreamed of and more. She certainly had a number of adjustments to make. For one, the bedding didn't hold a candle to her own in terms of room and comfort and there was an appalling lack of pillows but to be fair, even her own bed barely had enough room to hold the frankly absurd amount she preferred. She ought to have brought another trunk with her just for more pillows; she couldn’t expect them to accommodate such a trifling detail so she’d just have to make due for the time being and hope that perhaps some merchants stopping at the village would have a few to sell, though she wasn’t terribly optimistic. Thankfully, Lienna’s prediction about the chill air creeping into the room didn’t seem to come true so at the very least she could still wake up in a room without the chill biting at her feet. She always found it that much harder to slip out of the comforting nest of bedding when her feet were in danger of freezing.

Of course, even if that were the case, her first morning watching the sunrise made all her concerns seem so trivial. Waking up before the sun was a routine she’d had since she was young and a change in altitude wasn’t about to change that. She found herself crossing the quiet monastery grounds in the early morning darkness, amazed at the difference from home. Even if it was a slow morning on the docks, the sea winds always whisked the creaks of ships at rest into her window, the heavy footfalls of guards and the pleasant scent of morning bread following closely on it’s heels. The thrum of the city was never far away, never fully gone, but the monastery was so still and serene. There was a weightlessness, sitting so far above the world, that slowed her step and evened her breath. She’d felt it briefly, staring far beyond the horizon on the bridge, but here and now, with the world still asleep and a comforting silence draped across her shoulders, the world seemed so much kinder, so less judgemental, so less demanding.

She expected her mornings in the cathedral to be like that; full of reverent reflection and easy awakenings but instead she found her breath stolen from her as the sun rose behind the Cathedral. Sunlight poured in through stained glass and she drank the sight of it like a woman parched from the desert. It reminded her of a lesson from years ago, when she struggled to find reason for the burden of this mark and she nearly became the very shade her mother sought her to be. The sun rise was beautiful because they, humanity, made it so. From the Goddess’ first step sprouted all life and yet in the appreciation of creation, were they humanity the only ones who see greater beauty, greater meaning. The hawk and the rabbit both use the sun to mark the new day but they do not see comfort or beauty in the simple act of light breaking the horizon. That was humanity’s decision. And she thought she’d understood that but now, watching sunlight pour like water through the windows of the Cathedral of the hallowed grounds of Garrag Mach, she found she hadn’t understood it much at all.

The experience moved her to tears.

Classes… were less moving. They were interesting, she wouldn’t deny that. Learning history without the lens of the Leicester Alliance proved a thought provoking exercise but she couldn’t deny reviewing things she’d already known was monotonous. She understood that she’d had access to some of the best tutors in the Leicester Alliance and not everyone had the privilege but they could have made separate classes. They already had the format for it; with the classes changing between Unit and House, the Academy could easily make it happen.

Which was why she was so excited about this training camp. It was something exciting and new and she’d been so wholly enthusiastic the mild monotony of her classes couldn’t bring her down. Not even Jorah’s incessant need for attention and frivolity could dampen her mood. She even found it adorably childish most of the time, even when he threw a fit about her room change instead of just convincing Imogen to switch (which he later did with all the eloquence and grace of a toddler). And if he couldn’t temper her excitement, then nothing could.

Which is what she believed until a two hour carriage ride soured her mood immensely. Honestly, how did anyone manage to travel like this? Every bump and shift made her jam uncomfortably into Jorah and the seats were hard and unforgiving. They ought to have told them to keep their transportation. Using her own carriage would have proven far more comfortable and would have significantly reduced the strain on everyone involved. Or at the very least advised them to bring cushions! She’d remember this for the future because she wasn’t sure she could handle another two hours of this, much less an entire trip.

She’d practically launched herself out of the carriage when the opportunity presented itself, stretching out the soreness in her limbs from being in such cramped quarters for so long. Absolutely dreadful. Why anyone chose to travel like that was beyond her. At least if she’d had the opportunity to ride horseback, she wouldn’t have been fighting anyone for space the entire time. She took in their surroundings as she stretched, wincing as the soreness stubbornly fought her.

“I think I’d rather be on the receiving end of Duke Gloucester’s archaic rambling than suffer through this another two hours.” Clarissa grumbled to Jorah. The gentle hush of flowing water proved a pleasant background to their rest stop at the very least. “Next time I’ll remind everyone to bring a cushion.”
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Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by ThatCharacter
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They were only halfway there? Michail’s announcement had easily carried to the second carriage. Not that he was in much of a rush to get there, but this carriage ride almost changed his mind. He had never much appreciated the Fraldarius horses, but they had been far less jerky and generally prone to making their vehicle a bouncing box of bruised backs and achy knees. Between the turbulence of the carriage and the fact he was crammed in with a bunch of classmates he still hadn’t taken great strides to acquaint himself with, he was ready almost ready to engage in whatever exercise the faculty had prepared for the Rose Unit.

Almost.

Even if the carriage ride had been smoother, Kellen wasn’t sure if the knots in gut would have untied. Those were just as much due to the jarring motions of the carriage as it was by the thought that it would stop and Kellen would have to engage in the Rose Unit’s first “combat exercise”. Whatever that meant. Despite Kellen’s many attempts to cross-examine his teachers for information, he knew very little about what was to come.

For the past two days of class, Kellen had been successful in avoiding the training ground. While the students had had some introductory history courses – material Kellen had learned and forgotten before – he had yet to be coerced by any of the faculty into combat. That lucky streak had seemingly come to an end early in the morning, when Auberon had shown up at his door, eyes ablaze as he told Kellen to grab his blade and meet him at gates. Ever since he had hung his blade and its scabbard on the wall, he had hadn’t touched it. Even wearing it on his hip for the short walk to the caravan made him feel a bit queasy, and he had been grateful to leave it in the cart now trudging along behind them.

Anxiously, he looked down to his hands that had subconsciously curled into small balls. He gently tapped the left one on his leg, only for his sleeve to slide comfortably past the end of his hand. This would be another issue. Kellen had finally stirred himself sufficiently to bring his jacket to the Garreg Mach’s tailor, a middle-aged man who had instructed Kellen to add it to the pile of similarly ill-fitting garbs from other students. After Auberon’s appearance, Kellen had been quick to rush over to the tailor’s and relieved to find a hemmed sleeve laying atop his folded jacket. It wasn’t until he had sat down in the cart that he had realized that the tailor hadn’t finished his work. The left sleeve still remained unhemmed, and somehow appeared longer, perhaps due to the right. The cursed starboard sleeve had been hemmed certainly, but somehow the blasted tailor had gone too far. It now, despite Kellen’s many subtle attempts to stretch it out, sat about two-thirds of the way down his forearm. He had tried to compensate by rolling up the left farther, but even with his experience from the past few days, he found himself unable to keep it up for more than five minutes. With a sigh, he tried again to roll the boulder back up a hill that he knew it would come sliding down on.

“Sorry – I’m sorry!” The moment the cart had stopped and the door had opened, Kellen clambered over Imogen to spring out of the carriage. The moment his boots touched solid ground, he took a few deep breaths, squatting down to stretch his legs and calm himself. His momentary vertigo subsiding, his eyes were quick to dart over the immediate area. Any new locale prompted this reaction in Kellen, though when his gaze ended at the weapons cart, it stayed there for a few seconds too long. Satisfied, he looked back to the group of students who were emerging. Absently, he noted that the Gloucester girl and her House Leader were back together. She looked every part of the advisor to an unruly duke, and it reminded Kellen of the stories of the many Fraldarius’ who had counselled Blaiddyds through the ages. Looking at himself, he supposed he could understand why many had long lost track of the notion that Kellen might be like them, particularly with a sister as capable as Rhiannon.

While the stop had seemed natural enough, Kellen was quick to pick up on the faculty all staring further down the road. His anxiety peaked as Michail armed himself, but Kellen did his best to remain calm. He knew intuitively where his sword sat in the carriage, and even if it had been jostled around on the ride he was sure he’d be able to find it quickly. Trying to remain calm, he took a few steps to the side to get a better view of whatever was causing the consternation amongst his teachers. It was a single rider -- No. Two. Was this part of the exercise? Without thinking, he took a few steps closer to the adults to hear what they were discussing. “Should we, um, arm ourselves? ” He said, though it was barely louder than the sound of the river. He looked back to his fellow students, his body remaining still but his eyes darting about behind to see if anyone else might be coming up the road.

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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Scribe of Thoth
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It was times like these Auberon was thankful his family rarely travelled. In his earlier years, Auberon often lamented that his father owned no southern manor where he could spend the winter in more temperate climes. If little Aubie spent more than ten minutes on this carriage, he was certain the boy would've been more content with shivering. To make matters worse, Auberon - ever the chivalrous one - had even foolishly volunteered for a seat in the middle rather than one of the more stable seats on the outside, with nothing to hold onto when the carriage lurched but the fellow students packed in next to him and without even a decent window view to preoccupy his attention.

It could've been worse, he reminded himself, as he quickly darted a hand downward to provide something of a cushion for Derec's poor head when they hit another bump and the redhead swayed dangerously close to knocking himself out on Auberon's kneecap. Forget combat training, he'd be concussed before they even arrived at this rate. His only reprieve was the muffled sounds of the Kalonics discussing where to take a break over the clattering of hooves and creaking of the wagons. The earlier mention of this being only half the trip was quietly vacated from his mind, and the realization that they'd have to weather this again on the way back was locked away in the deepest part of his subconscious, never to emerge. Better to focus on the destination - they'd be doing combat training at last. Well, 'at last' was a stretch. It had only been a few days, hardly a significant wait, but history was a poor substitute for the rush of even a simulated battlefield, of shaping his Lions into the proud killing machines their banner portrayed, of crushing the other houses underfoot. His divine lineage demanded nothing less than unconquerable glory, and that couldn't be achieved in a classroom, no matter how inspiring the great men of old being taught were.

When they finally came to a stop, his choice of seat took one last opportunity to spite him; Auberon was practically the last one to be allowed off. Despite the uncouthness of the act, Kellen seemed to have the right idea simply vaulting over the people between him and the great outdoors. Good timing too, he'd been sitting on Auberon's cape and it made any movement of his left shoulder incredibly unwieldy. He'd have to get used to managing that thing. The rest of his new uniform was sleek and closely tailored, with little bagginess or room to be caught on anything, but that new cape had proven to be nothing but a headache so far. Twice he'd gotten it snagged on a doorknob now. The brilliant azure was a fine addition from an aesthetic standpoint - it made his rank clearly identifiable and compensated for the lack of gold embellishment that his old uniform had possessed - but functionally? It was a mess.

The boy rotated his arm for the first time in a few hours to ward off stiffness as he finally climbed down from the carriage. "If this keeps up, I might have to beg the professors to simply let me walk back," He complained to no one in particular. He'd probably be less sore than if he actually took the carriage, too. Though grabbing a drink from the river was tempting, Auberon stuck to a quick stretching regimen as a way to unwind from the trip, at least until he had a chance to make sure they weren't downstream from the village latrines. Wouldn't do him any good to show up to combat practice wound up and ready to pull a muscle with every sweep of his axe. He needed to establish himself quickly in front of the prince and anyone else who thought they might have a chance in the year's competitions, because the rest of his House certainly didn't look like they'd be turning any heads this early. Derec and Lienna probably had no formal combat training before this, and peasant levies weren't exactly renowned for their skill or even ability to survive outside of a shield wall if they had been trained. Kellen was his saving grace and, Goddess willing, the boy would be far more impressive than his demeanor suggested.

Coincidentally, Kellen's talk of the students arming themselves was probably the best thing Auberon had heard from him yet. Well, not really, because that implied they were in trouble, but the sentiment behind it was comforting. Not that it sounded too confident either- it didn't matter; he was nitpicking. He followed the others' gaze to where the riders were approaching. The professors looked too tense for this to have been scheduled. Michail had grabbed a weapon, but if the students hadn't been ordered to do so, it was likely just a precaution. But would the staff really ask a bunch of untrained kids to defend themselves even if there was danger? Whatever, better to be safe and look foolish than to get caught with their pants down by potential brigands or whoever was brave enough to charge right toward a passing caravan. Michail was doubtlessly capable but he couldn't be everywhere at once if multiple assailants came to join their two friends. Assuming even half of the students in the Rose Unit had what passed for combat aptitude, though? They could hold off any number of common highwaymen. Especially ones dumb enough to approach a group that size with hostility.

"Couldn't hurt," The blond responded as he paced toward the weapon cart with less urgency than the situation might've demanded. "If we're wrong, I'll repack the wagon myself."


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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Obscene Symphony
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Three days in, and the Officers’ Academy had already lost most of its lustre.

The way people talked about the fabled Officers’ Academy of Garreg Mach, Lienna thought they’d spend their days learning to fight and command armies, with some convenient noble elbow-rubbing on the side. But if that really was the case, then it must have been a slow start: Half their days were spent in lecture halls learning Fódlan’s history, either with their respective Houses or the oh-so-special Rose Unit, struggling to stay awake as professors rattled off dates and names through the dust of old tomes. Those books also lost their enchantment pretty quick; at first, Lienna was wowed by their age and value, but now she was just choked by the smell of ancient parchment, eyes glazing over long words in loopy script she could scarcely make out. Though, if she was being honest, it wasn’t that the classes were boring. On the contrary; it was Lienna’s first time hearing most of what they taught, not having had the luxury of a proper education back home. But they were frustrating. Be it the indecipherable passages they were expected to read, or getting called upon for simple questions she couldn’t answer, history classes were one big reminder of just how far Lienna was behind the rest of her peers.

There was strategy, too, but somehow the school managed to take the chaos of battle and turn it, too, into words and figures on a page—dead, silent, and utterly non-threatening. Even as he carried on like a teenager at the front of the class, Professor Michail still made strategy straight and narrow: start with surroundings, add in the enemy, factor in resources, and out pop formations and plans. As if it were just that simple: a game of logic. But Lienna struggled to see it. Where was the logic when the roof above your head caught fire in the middle of the night? How was a step-by-step process supposed to help you find safety when the bestial shouts of barbarians echoed through the smoke from every direction? Battle wasn’t logical; battle was running for your life, choking on smoke with your body wedged under a fallen tree, your heart slamming in your ears as you prayed for faster reflexes than whichever attacker tracked you down. It wasn’t an art form, it was a nightmare.

Maybe it was different for soldiers, but something about them teaching battle like a game of wits rubbed Lienna the wrong way.

But while history and strategy classes left her fuming in her seat, the other side of their military education—the real, hands-on combat training—at last managed to prove worthwhile. It had been some time since she last practiced magic, but to her considerable delight, it came back to her like an old friend, and she was thrilled to find herself already starting to grow with guidance from Professor Tomai. He even told her he was impressed with her ability, which flattered her more than she’d like to admit. She'd yet to get a proper read on the man, but he still intrigued her; he taught black magic with the same wisdom-born authority that he carried when he talked about crests, and even when magic lessons turned to ever more complicated figures and equations, he managed to draw her interest unlike any other professor here. Maybe she’d ask him more about his research, if she ever thought she could stomach the answers.

Then again, a seat atop the weapons cart listening to the disturbing realities of Crest research sounded a hell of a lot more palatable than where Lienna found herself now, squished between Auberon and the wall of the carriage, craning her neck to get as much fresh air from the window as possible. It was the trip from Gautier all over again, with the added discomfort of significantly less comfortable accommodations. The hard seat made her painfully aware of how bony she was, and Auberon’s hulking form pinning her uncomfortably against the carriage wall was the only thing keeping her from pitching out of her seat at every sudden halt. Additionally, she was just as laid up as she’d been on her trip down from Gautier, once more having to cinch her scarf tightly around her midriff as every bump and sway threatened to bring up her breakfast. She was green the whole way there, eyes squeezed shut and deathly silent as she focused wholeheartedly on keeping her food down.

When at last the carriage came to a halt, Lienna was one of the first out, stumbling on shaky knees to the nearest bush to promptly purge herself of the stones in her stomach. When her nausea finally subsided, she hauled herself to her feet, making a beeline for the riverbank. If anyone had reservations about the river water, Lienna didn’t share them; she wouldn’t drink and agitate her stomach further, but she definitely made a point to rinse the foul taste from her mouth before finally making her way back to the group.

“Saints as my witness, the very second I am Countess I am smashing the wheels off every one of these things,” she spat to no one in particular, raising the back of her hand to wipe the last few drops of water from her chin. She glanced around at the others for a moment before she realized they all had their eyes trained on the horizon; following their gaze, she caught sight of a few dots in the distance, gradually growing into figures on horseback. Murmurs bounced around the unit, a few students inching toward the weapons cart, but Lienna, for once, wasn’t quite so antsy. This was no nighttime raid on unprepared villagers; this was two people on a road riding toward a caravan flying the Knights of Seiros’ banner. They’d have to be colossal idiots to try and mount some kind of ambush on that, and pitting idiots against a bunch of armed students spearheaded by combat professors was a pretty easy outcome to foresee.

Besides, Michail seemed to think they were seeking help. “Is the village on fire?” Lienna absently asked, fiddling with the buttons on her sleeves. She drew a deep breath through her nose, closing her eyes. The faint, acrid smell of smoke was usually the first warning of an oncoming raid back home, spewed forth from whatever vile substance those Srengese savages used to fuel their torches. But there was no such scent on the air here, so she shook her head.

“Doesn’t seem like it,” she answered her own question, crossing her arms. “Maybe they’re delivering a message.”

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Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by Eleven
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Ever adaptable, Imogen found it easy to establish a new normal in the monastery. Sure, she burst out crying when a wave of homesickness struck her, but that also happened when she camped up in Fódlan’s Throat for three days, so that wasn’t anything new. Her room was still too big and too lonely, even more so after the switch, so she made it a point to spend as little time in there as possible.

In the mornings she ran. Partly because she loved everything about it: the cool morning breeze tussling her hair, the early sunlight warm on her skin; she greeted the fresh day with unbridled enthusiasm, always. But mostly, she ran because otherwise, she would be bursting with restless energy for the remainder of the day and it would be those around her that would suffer for it. Throughout the day, classes took up most of her time and she was happily surrounded by her classmates. At night, she'd find someone to keep her company and it was only after they go back to their own rooms that she would relent and return to her empty one as well.

Now having to actually be in class was more difficult than she realized. Imogen was so used to skipping lessons back at home that she had to retrain herself to stay in the room until class was over. History classes proved to be the most challenging, and as of now, she has yet to remain awake for the duration of the class. She’s trying hard, though! The more hands-on ones weren’t too much of a problem. Aside from the occasional slip into her daydreams, learning about weapons and strategy kept her engaged.

Today's outing was currently one of her favorites things to happen so far. It was almost up there with the night of Rai-Rai’s party! Idly, Imogen wondered why he didn’t join them on their field trip, but didn’t dwell on it for too long. She figured he had a lot of fancy noble business parties to attend.

Probably better for him, too. While she didn’t have any issues with their cramped carriage--being small had its perks! She never needed a lot of space to be comfortable--everyone else seemed less enthused. Poor Lin over there by the corner looked like she was ready to hurl, and she felt bad that she was kinda curious to see what would happen if she did end up puking all over Mr. Holy Aubie.

Imogen wondered if she really was the only one having fun. She supposed it also helped that she was lucky enough to get squished into the window seat. During the first portion of the trip, she had excitedly stuck her head out the window and took in the view. She got tired after a while and knocked out, falling asleep on Kel’s shoulder for some time. There was a chance that she had accidentally kicked Der at some point as well; it was a habit she’d had since she was a child that she had yet to outgrow.

She woke up with a start to Kel’s rushed exit off the carriage. There was split second of disorientation as she allowed the last vestige of sleep to ebb away, and then rising alarm as she echoed Kel’s urgency. “Ahh, are we under attack?” Imogen all but shot herself out of the carriage, raising her fists defensively as soon as she landed, eyes darting everywhere in search of the threat. She made sure to stand by Kel just in case he needed protection.

Instead of a horde of bad guys surrounding them, there were only two riders in the distance. They were heading straight towards their group, though not in a menacing way a bad guy would. Imogen decided that was enough to discount them as threats... at least for now.

Beside her, Kel had quietly called for them to be armed and Aubie seemed to agree. Lin had the same idea as her, at least so far as in she didn't think they were a threat either. “They kinda look like they’re running away from something.” Imogen thought out loud, relaxing from her defensive stance. “Oh! They might need help! Let’s go!”

Imogen sprinted forward, though not too far from where the teachers gathered. She waved her hands to get the riders’ attention, even if they were probably still too far to have heard. “Hellloooo! Are you guys okay?”
Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by POOHEAD189
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"You'd think at such a prestigious school, they could afford humane transportation." Kayden muttered as the carriage leaped yet again over what had to be a rock the size of his head. He nearly bumped into Derec's back with his knee, but caught himself on the side of the opened window, seeing his fellow classmates look as miserable as he felt. He wished the teachers had asked the students if any of them could ride a horse. Kayden would be enjoying a bright day rather than this unending nightmare. He could also do without the smell, though whether it was the horses up front, someone's nighttime sweating, or someone decided to perform biological warfare, he couldn't guess. Perhaps that was the smell of peasant up close, though he would like to think he gave them more credit than that.

The morning had begun delightfully, with a full breakfast and a sword routine in the courtyard. It always helped to practice the basics, his master-of-arms had iterated to him every day. It was why he didn't mind hearing the same boring thing over and over during his history lessons or Michail's military education. Yes, he knew most of what they taught, but he was reminded of crucial aspects and there were a few kernels of new knowledge he did well to note. Though the announcement of a trip had him ready and willing to leap out into the world, seeing it as a grand way to get to know his classmates and hone his combat skills. Now he just wished that the Goddess would show mercy on a handsome, humble prince such as he. He did have to admit he admired the fortitude and restraint of the other students during this haul.

Once the cart halted, Kayden awaited as patiently as he could for the others to spill out, giving Derec the right of way because he couldn't imagine sitting ass first on the floor of the carriage. Though he did decidedly step out before Auberon just to be petty, even if he chastised himself silently for such a childish notion as soon as the sun kissed his skin again. At that, his mood and demeanor gradually seeped back into the intelligent, skilled, and intensely good looking man that he was.

"Agreed," He said, referring to Lienna's declaration. The debonair prince strode up to stand beside her, placing a hand above his eyes to shield the sun so as to better view what the others were looking at. "I think an edict on the construction and distribution of carriages is way overdue, judging by our recent journey." As he spoke, the riders drew nearer. He didn't think they meant harm, but he didn't entirely blame Auberon and goodman Kellen for being concerned. He noted there were two riders, likely fleeing from somewhere. Not that it dismissed them as a danger, mind. Kayden tried to read their expressions and clothing, for he had sharp eyes, but he was somewhat distracted as the sweet girl Imogen found the inclination to leap ahead of the group in the path of the approaching horsemen.

Kayden blinked, looking at the others and wondering if anyone had the same sinking feeling he did. He gave a harsh sigh. "Ugh, dammit." He breathed, and suddenly realized he was now running. He hoped no one saw him in the act and thought he was charging headlong into combat, because they'd either join him or think him an idiot. Rather he was using his long legs to make good time to Imogen's position, skidding to a stop in front of her. He could feel the riders bearing down on them, but he couldn't just have her here exposed!

"Imogen, we need to go back. This is business for the professors." He said breathlessly, looking between her and the riders. She might not be on his team, but she was a fellow student and a damsel in possible distress. Kayden attempted to keep the concern from his face and voice, so he uneasily offered. "Um, allow me to escort you back? Preferably immediately to behind the teachers?"
Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by Obscene Symphony
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Jorah preferred the ride from Derdriu.

Sure, it was longer, and his retinue weren’t the cheeriest bunch, but it was leagues ahead of this. Unlike the miserable seething of the students around him, his guards were bored at best and grumpy at worst, and he could at least get some distance, either by riding a tethered horse for a while or sitting on top of his carriage, singing a tune. Hells, even if they wouldn’t let him out, he could at least recline on the cushions of his own carriage, whiling away the hours by goading guards to snickers through the window.

But no, on this cursed trip he had no reprieve. Instead, he was jammed with nine other students into a carriage made for four, with a rough wooden seat up his ass and beset on all sides by bad moods. Jorah might have made the best of the trip, maybe sing a song or tell a torrid story that may or may not have been true, but he was just suffocated, choked by the foul moods around him like so much acrid smoke. Not even his particular brand of stubborn optimism could clear the cloud around the carriage, so eventually even he had to resign himself to misery.

On the bright side, maybe if he collapsed on arrival, Kaira would give him some medical attention.

After a veritable eternity of swaying to rival any ocean vessel, Professor Euphemia’s announcement rang out like a cry of liberation, bringing with it a grateful stir in the carriage. That little shot of relief in his fellow students was to Jorah as a ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds, and he heaved a breath, feeling like a stone had been lifted off his chest. Of course, like anything, from that little inch of wiggle room he was given, he took a mile, a wry smile cracking across his face at the news.

“Camping out, eh?” he hummed suggestively, “Well, I certainly know what my tent arrangements will be.”

When the carriage finally lurched to a halt, Jorah remained uncharacteristically patient, letting most of the other students disembark first—gracious and charitable behaviour befitting a House Leader, he’d add. Wasn’t that something that turned out to be a mixed bag. He’d been making the best of it so far, though. The new uniform was nice enough, its longer jacket and loose trousers reminiscent of the styles of Alliance nobility he knew from the Roundtable. He wasn’t sure how he felt about that, looking like the well-trimmed official his father so dearly wanted him to be, but it was a fair sight more comfortable than the closely tailored uniforms forced on the rest of the student body, and the short yellow cape draped across his left shoulder was a sharp touch.

Of course, leadership was more than a snappy new uniform: there were shoes to fill, too. And with those shoes came responsibilities. There was the hard work, the setting a good example, the burden of authority and duty to lead his House to glory—or, more aptly, the complaining about the paperwork until Clarissa caved and helped him with it. That diplomatic brain of hers was being put to very good use; it had only been three days, and she’d already proved herself an invaluable advisor—even if that suggestion that Jorah assign himself some weekly chores to set a good example wasn’t all that well received. No matter. She’d learn.

“I think I’d rather be on the receiving end of Duke Gloucester’s archaic rambling than suffer through this another two hours. Next time I’ll remind everyone to bring a cushion.”

Speaking of Clarissa, Jorah followed her example and stretched a bit, shaking his head. “Screw that, next time I’m bringing my own horse. You and I could do laps around these carriages—just like old times.”

That familiar glimmer of mischief twinkled in his eye once more, the last remaining tendrils of everyone’s misery finally starting to loose their hold in favour of relief. Or was that… curiosity? No; apprehension, perhaps?

A borrowed anxiety just barely started to nudge at Jorah, and he followed the feeling like a scent, turning from admiring the scenery to face where everyone seemed to be looking. Two dots on the horizon seemed to be the culprit, and taking a step closer, Jorah overheard a few snippets of conversation, shedding light on the reason for everyone’s concern. It seemed they worried the riders might mount an attack—or otherwise be bringing one on their tail.

And of course, leave it to Auberon to be the first to make for the weapons cart. A bit of an overreaction in Jorah’s eyes, but after bi-daily challenges from both sides over House competition, he wasn’t about to let the Lions’ leader get the jump on him.

“As I always say, can’t hurt to be cautious,” Jorah agreed, letting the irony hang as he sauntered his own way to the weapons cart and pulled out a steel bow. There’d been exactly five minutes that morning where he considered bringing his personal bow along, but after taking one look at the pile of beat-up weapons in that rickety cart, he resolved to keep his own bow safe and locked away for as long as he possibly could, far away from whatever monsters would treat perfectly good equipment so inhumanely.

Of course, no sooner had he clipped a quiver to his belt and dipped into the trunk of arrows than Imogen raced beyond the caravan, apparently bent on being the first to meet the approaching riders. Jorah couldn’t fault her enthusiasm, but… really? They were on horseback, the extra ten feet of proximity in case they sought help wouldn’t make any difference. And now the damn Eagles’ leader was the one rounding her up!

Admittedly a little miffed, Jorah rolled his eyes before hopping down off the weapons cart, rounding the corner with his trademark grin and placing his hands on his hips.

“Relax, Your Highness, no need to come to the fair maiden’s rescue so hastily! Unless Milord doth seek the damsel’s attentions!” he called jovially, chuckling as he waved the two over. “I’m sure everything’s fine, but I would recommend getting out of the road. The Empire won’t be happy if their heir apparent gets trampled by a spooked horse, I’m sure you understand.”

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Hidden 2 yrs ago 1 yr ago Post by Hero
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"Dear Goddess, my back."

Derec wasn't a stranger to making mistakes--he had hurt himself physically more times than he would admit in training, and he still had a scar from the time he accidentally stabbed his own foot--but Great Goddess had this taken the cake. The seats in the carriage had been so cramped that he volunteered the floor to give some reprieve to both sides, and honestly, he genuinely believed it wouldn't be so bad. He had done it once or twice as well, so he had experience. Then again, it wasn't for two hours, and it certainly wasn't in a carriage where he could feel every single bump in the road. He was also generally fond of horses, but he was pretty sure if a monster came and attacked the animals, he wouldn't be as enthusiastic in saving them.

It was only by a miracle that he hadn't fallen out of the carriage, albeit the pain shooting up his back definitely made him feel much older than he was. All those years of training were apparently nothing to one bumpy ride. He stretched out as best as he could, ignoring his protesting muscles as he forced himself to walk around a little. He managed to catch Auberon's complaint, letting out a hollow laugh. "Here, here," He mumbled an agreement, genuinely preferring a long hike to that ride.

He nearly walked into poor Isolde, watching her grimace. "I know some healing magic, maybe it can alleviate you?" The timid girl offered, clearly sympathetic.

"Please," The word came out before he would even consider her offer, all too glad to let her usher him to a nearby stump.

As Isolde tended to Derec, the professors seemed to debate on how to answer Euphemia's question. No one seemed to want to offer their opinion first--except for Tomai, who decided his time was better spent making sure the horses got to drink some water and wordlessly left it to the rest. Kaira teetered on voicing her thoughts, albeit she let out a small gasp.

"Ah--No! Come back here!" She called after Imogen.

Michail clucked his tongue, looking over to Kellen, Auberon, and Jorah as the latter went digging around in the weapons cart. "They're coming whether we like it or not, but I'm willing to bet they're looking for assistance and think we're an entire unit of knights," He finally spoke first, frowning.

"Then we should get the students as far away as possible," Euphemia suggested. "Once they're safe, we can go over and see what we can do to help."

"How much help could the four of us really be?" Kaira couldn't help but ask. "Not that I'm doubting anyone's skill, of course, but..."

"The best thing to do is take the students to Luin with us," Michail stated.

"Absolutely not," Euphemia immediately protested. "TIt may just be a bandit attack, but they have no real experience. Someone could get hurt, or worse."

"They could also get attacked while we're away. I'd rather keep them close and use whatever skills they have."

"They're not soldiers, Michail, they're children," She reminded him. "Commoners, nobles, royalty--none of them have actually seen a battle before, you're telling me you want them to experience death and bloodshed on what's supposed to be a training day? They aren't ready for this!"

At that point Tomai rejoined the trio, frowning at the growing group of students gathering. He knocked on Michail's armor, gesturing to the other trio. "Whatever we decide, they're coming whether we like it or not. I'm going to get the carriages ready," He said, gesturing for Kaira to follow him.

Michail watched Tomai for a moment before looking at his sister again. After a few seconds, she let out a heavy sigh, giving him a shrug. With a decision made, he flashed a grin. "Come on, let's go," He told Euphemia, ignoring her mumble as he took her map and rolled it up. He jogged over to the prince, the duke's son, and the crazy girl, making sure each one got a good whack of the map. "Didn't you three go over the basics this week? There's no segment on being the Welcoming Committee." He scolded all three of them, handing the map back to Euphemia.

"He's right. Get back to the others and standby while we see what they want," Euphemia ordered, making sure she stayed in front of them as Michail walked forward to meet the duo. "You can't be too careful on the road."

Michail waited patiently with his spear in hand, though as they neared, it was obvious his initial guess was right. One of the men had a few sharp cuts along his hand--he had narrowly avoided archers, he'd wager. The desperate looks on their faces turned to relief once they were close enough, with the unharmed man practically throwing himself off his horse to greet Michail.

"Thank the Goddess you're here!" He huffed, stopping to catch his breath for about two seconds before continuing. "We're in desperate need of the Knights' assistance. Our village is being plundered by bandits, they've only just started, but they were bringing barrels over in a cart to do something--"

The words no sooner left the man's mouth as a distant explosion caught everyone's ear. Smoke billowed out in a thick, gray cloud, growing in size as Michail watched.

"Th-They must have blown the cart up!" The other man gasped.

Euphemia caught Michail's expression, shaking her head at him. Still, the blond turned to the men. "I suggest you keep going to the west, Mirestone Village will likely offer some help as well while we drive the bandits out," He suggested.

The duo immediately took his advice, riding off. "Michail..." Euphemia's voice took a warning tone.

"It'll be on a voluntary basis," He said, patting her shoulder as he walked past her.

Rolling his shoulders as he approached the majority of the students, he brought his free hand up to his mouth, blowing out a loud, shrill whistle. "Listen up!" He called out, his voice practically booming. "The village nearby has requested the aid of the Knights of Seiros. As the only Knight here, I'm honor-bound to go and do whatever I can. That being said, I can see some of you already itching to jump up and tell me you're willing to fight, but I'm going to stop you right now."

He threw a small smile Euphemia's way before continuing, "Doing the right thing and doing what's best for the situation is something you're going to have to decide for yourself. Because of that, for this one time, I am giving you a choice to make," He stated. "You can stay here, away from the village and the majority of the action. That said, I can't guarantee your safety--Euphemia, Kaira, and Tomai will be joining me, and while it's only a slim chance, the bandits may decide to target you if you stay here. However, if you think that your skills are good enough to ensure your own survival, if you're willing to put your life on the line for people who are nothing to you, if you think you're ready to see a man bleed to death by your own sword, then this is the time to see if you have what it takes."

Michail turned to the other professors, pointing his spear towards the village. "We move out in sixty seconds! Get those horses ready!" He commanded. "Anyone who chooses to come along had better get their asses back in that carriage if they don't want to get left behind!"
Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Scribe of Thoth
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Scribe of Thoth It's Pronounced "Thot"

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Auberon paused his dig through the weapons cart to send a brief glace back toward the professors. Just as he'd expected, the students were going to be coddled. At least Michail stood up for them, though he wasn't quite sure how much good that would do, judging by how often he saw Euphemia whacking her brother with the nearest blunt object. Though after Imogen's display and utter lack of caution or sense, he supposed he couldn't really blame them for thinking of the class as children. At least she had the enthusiasm down - if Kayden could keep her in line well enough to keep her from walking into an ambush, anyway.

The blond finally fished his axe out of the cluttered pile of sharp implements and weighed the weapon in his hand contemplatively. If they were ordered to keep moving, his hands were tied, but surely the professors weren't suggesting that a mere three people could take on a gang of bandits large enough to overtake an entire village. Knight of Seiros or not, they needed more manpower. Besides, a band of ruffians that made their living through intimidation of half-starved militiamen were no threat to a son of Daphnel. Even an irresponsible layabout like Jorah seemed to agree, unless he'd grabbed that bow solely to pick off anyone else that travelled in the caravan's direction.

When the thunderous boom in the distance suggested ordinary thieves weren't the culprit, Auberon was undeterred. If anything, that only strengthened his resolve. A thief might hold the bare minimum of virtue in that he simply wanted to survive, but the level of destruction that warranted a blast like that went beyond extorting some farmers for grain. To rid the world of that was both a spiritual and municipal duty. Violence for violence was the only answer in the face of the unrighteous. Thankfully, Michail didn't make him beg. Mention of taking the carriage was almost a convincing argument as to why they should stay behind, but he supposed there was wisdom in flying the banners of the Knights on their approach. Maybe the bastards would rout before the class even got there.

Auberon reached back into the wagon to grab the only sword with a scabbard he recognized before he marched over and pushed the sheathed weapon against Kellen's chest. There was a pause in his movements, long enough for him to meet the other boy's gaze with a serious but not quite stern glance. "Come on," He said firmly, then paced past without expection of an argument. Similarly, he turned his head toward the other two Lions and cleared his throat pointedly as he stepped up onto that accursed carriage again. He wasn't going to outright make them go; as Michail had noted, this was a choice that carried some baggage, and an absent coward was still preferrable to a present liability. Still, if he found out Derec or Lienna was secretly competent and still avoided helping these poor people, they'd be getting an earful. He already had the scripture he was going to cite picked out.


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Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Eleven
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Eleven things are strange

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In the countless dangerous situations she has put herself in, both willingly and accidentally, Imogen learned that trusting her gut was the only way to go. One time she ignored it and she very nearly died, falling down the side of a mountain. When attempting to explain this to Caius, she ended up likening it to something sitting on her shoulder, always on the lookout, and she sorta just stuck with the conceit. It would alert her when there’s something wrong, way before she’d even notice it. She liked to imagine that ‘something’ as that funny-looking creature she uses as a keychain for her bag: a green bear-like thing with wide eyes good for spotting things and a silly name like Dogberry, because why not.

Anyway. Sometimes, Dogberry just whispers for her to be careful. Sometimes, it seems likes he’s tugging on her ear, telling her to look a certain way. Dogberry didn’t do anything while the two riders approached so Imogen believed they meant no harm. She meant to tell Princey as much, because he had seemed worried enough to come running after her. And Jory too, because he sounded like his usual playful self but also somehow like he was scolding her and that stung.

“Don’t worry, it’s safe--” she started to say, but then Dogberry whispered and it was followed by a thwack on the head. "Ow!" It was mostly reflexive—getting hit by rolled-up paper wasn't that big of a deal, even if the one doing was decorated knight who gave it his all—but also partly in protest. Wasn't she showing initiative or whatever it was they were taught in class last time? Why was she being punished for it?

As Professor Euphie shooed the three of them back to the group, Imogen caught parts of what the two riders were saying. "They do need help!" she exclaimed with short-lived enthusiasm as she processed the rest of the riders' news.

Then before she knew it, she was hurtling toward Kel, her hands firmly pressing against his ears as soon as she reached him. As if on cue, a loud explosion thundered from the distance. It wasn't anywhere close, like she initially thought it would be, but still she looked helplessly at Iz, who was a bit further away from her. At least Der was near her! Of their so-called Rose Unit, Imogen had picked out Iz and Kel as the ones to watch over, skittish as they seemed. In her head, she had unconsciously associated them with a bunny and kitty respectively, and that had made her all the more protective.

When her internal warning bells seemed to have turned off—in her Dogberry explanation, this is when he says 'everything's fine, you can relax'—Imogen patted Kel on the head to reassure him, tiptoeing in order to reach. Although, she figured that wouldn't help much in making him feel better, seeing as Aubie was looking especially strict at the moment and she could only imagine what that meant for the Blues. Imogen hoped he didn't mean to force them into tagging along, at the very least. Like for her fellow deer, she had a feeling Jory and Clary wouldn't pass something like this up, but she wouldn't be forcing Iz to go if she was frightened. That hardly seemed fair.

"Jory, Clary, I'm going first!" she called out as she jumped into the weapons cart and dug through what's left in there.

After retrieving her own sword, she followed Aubie into the carriage and sat across him, staring at him idly as they waited for everyone else to join. More than anyone, even Professor Mik, Aubie had fit the image of a classic knight in her head. Like the ones from her childhood storybooks, except crankier. Normally, she would have told a couple of bad jokes by now, in her ongoing endeavor to see if she could make the ever-serious Lion crack, but it didn't seem right with actual lives on the line.

Instead, she offered him a sheepish grin. "Ready to kick some bandit butt?"
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