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Valanor Accord
Itillia
City of Hesper's Rest

The eloquently named city of Hesper's Rest was nestled on the coast of the provenance of Itillia, the political heart of the Valanor Accord.



The merchants went about their business, as ships came and left from the port. The Cohort of the Royal Guard patrolled the city streets, arguing over jurisdiction with the local city watch; as a kind of micro expression for the greater political battle within the Accord.

Hesper's Rest, was said to be the place the Wizard Emperor Hesper first landed with his 100 Acolytes after he arrived from the east. However, many coastal cities made similar claims before the Orduin collapse years ago.

The so called "Imperial Palace" known as the Keep of Azurefall (named after one of Hesper's favorite acolytes) was a marvel of castle design, beautiful in its own right, yet it was nothing in comparison to the "True" Imperial Palace in the capital. One day the Accord would have it for themselves.

The halls of the Keep of Azurefall felt darker than the color palette would suggest. As the members of the Imperial Court, ministers, and courtiers alike gathered and whispered in anticipation of the Emperor's arrival.



Prince Nero did so hate these courtly gatherings, finding it easy to doze off. Still he understood the importance of the affair; especially with the Legionary Council gathering later that day.


"Did I miss anything brother?" Asked Princess Cipher popping to Nero's side.


"No" Replied Nero. "Ancel has yet to arrive."

Would he even arrive? There was a chance the Queen Mother, one of the ministers, or the Legionary Council had already taken steps to avoid his presence here. It would not be the first time the young Emperor had been excluded from political discussion.

"Maybe we should just go find him." Suggested Cipher. "I'll get some of my men and if anyone tries to stop us we-"

"Patience Cipher." Nero whispered. "We must not do anything that drastic unless the situation calls for it. We need more allies, but more than that we need the Legionary Council to help us win the war against the Duchy of East Orduin, and the northern lands. There is no point of securing Ancel's rule if we fail to revive the Orduin Empire."

Cipher groaned. "Very well, but sooner or later we will have to draw our lines in the sand brother."

Nero noticed from the corner of his eye Lady Reval looking at them, the Minister of Laws, gesturing for Lady Marriane and Lady Arial to take notice.

What was she up to this time? Or was it simple gossip.

Lady Marriane noticed Nero staring back and gave a little wave; while Lady Arial simply continued to stare blankly and undaunted.

Lord Talbot and Lord Calben smirked at each other, likely mocking someone for their own amusement as the two tended to do. Or maybe they had just arranged a trade deal that filled their pockets with even more coin.

Lord Peyton quietly coughed, causing Lord Ethalheim to silently move away from him, while getting the attention of Lord Hamon who offered his fellow elder a small elixir of some kind; which the Minister of Ships accepted graciously.


Lord Rolan tapped the handle of his weapon impatiently, with Archbishop Arleo standing menacingly behind him, quiet and unemotive as usual.

Lord Salazar the Imperial Court Mage, stood silently reading a book in his hand, a devilish smirk on his face.

Suddenly the throne room doors opened, and out walked an entourage of attendants and bodyguards. In front was the Queen Mother, who immediately gave an unimpressed expression to those in the room.

Behind her stumbled a young boy, wearing a crown that barely fit his head. Nero's younger half-brother and the Imperial Emperor Ancel, looked around sheepishly as he was lead towards the throne.

Flanking him were two of his attendants. The Royal Chamberlain, Lady Talia walked confidently with her hands behind her back, not giving any in the crowd a passing glance. Yet coming off more confident than rude despite it.

On Ancel's other shoulder was one of the Sisters of Song, Sister Lelettia, who served as one of Ancel's bodyguards, attendants, and a sort of spymaster for the Queen Mother's faction.

Behind the entourage was a lager armored man, Ser Gleedoll. A high ranking member of the Royal Guard; who as per usual seemed mostly indifferent to his charge as there were no current threats to his life.

The boy emperor climbed onto the throne, giving the court a blank expression. The Queen Mother sat herself in one of the chairs at his side.

Immediately Lady Reval began walking up to him but just as she began to speak she was nudged aside by Lord Salazar who gave a quick bow, that some how still managed to come off condescending.

The games had already begun.

"Your excellency" Spoke Lord Salazar. "The Legionary Council will be gathered here soon enough. I presume you intend to be there?"

Ancel seemed confused and rubbed his arms nervously. "I-I wasn't aware of that. Thank you Lord Salazar for bringing this to my attention."

"No need to thank him, my son." Cut Queen Mother Selene. "You were not made aware because it is not your concern. That is why the Emperor has ministers and servants."

Nero could hear Princess Cipher click her tongue in disgust. "So they couldn't even be bothered to inform their emperor? The Queen Mother, or at least the Chamberlain was supposed to inform him."

Lord Rolan stepped forward, shouting over the crowd. "Allow me your excellency. As the Minister of War I should-"

Before he was finished Lady Reval once more shot forward. "Your excellency, if you do not wish to be bothered I would be more than happy to take on this burden for you."

Rolan shot her a look of annoyance for stealing his thunder, and Salazar gave a wolfish grin that seemed both angry and impressed at the same time.

Before Lady Reval could continue her pitch, the Queen Mother spoke up. "I will be handling this Lady Reval, so let us not bother with it any longer."

Lord Rolan once again spoke. "But my lady is it not my duty to-"

"Please Lord Rolan." Smirked the Queen Mother. "It needs to be someone the Legionary Council will actually listen to."

Some of the court smirked, giggled, and chuckled. Lord Talbot and Lord Calben all but laughed openly, and Reval looked as if she would of joined them had she not just been denied the position as well.

Rolan grinded his teeth and looked as if he was ready to walk out of the throne room all together, but Archbishop Arleo stopped him, leading him to the back of the crowd.

Nero felt sorry for the man, but he was a political enemy; one of the Legionary Council loyalist. He had hoped Rolan would be a tad more self-serving or spiteful but in the end, even with the insults, he always has acted in favor of the Council's decrees.

Ancel had an uncomfortable look on his face. Clearly not happy with what he saw as bullying in his presence. Least of all from his own mother.
He looked around the throne room as if looking for someone. "Where is Laughy?" He finally asked.

The Queen Mother groaned in resignation. "Fine, fine, very well." She turned towards Lady Talia. "Where is that charlatan? She is never around when needed, yet the moment you want her to go away she sticks around like a fly."

Suddenly a figure came tumbling towards the throne, doing flips and cartwheels, before landing before the young emperor.

"My young lord!" Shouted Laughy with an excited squeal. "You have called and I have appeared!"

The elven jester did a little twirl and an over the top bow.

Ancel could not help but clap in excitement while the Queen Mother failed to hide her annoyance.

"I apologize for my late arrival." Said Laughy, pulling out some cards. "I was busy juggling for the city watch."

That was code for she was informing them of a potential crime her spies had uncovered. Laughy doubled as the Imperial spymaster which for obvious reasons was not an official title on record. She had many codes hidden in her jokes and gags, when she needed to inform someone of something in a more subtle way.

She would often sprinkle many real jokes in there so even knowing who she was ahead of time wasn't enough to know what she was reporting unless you already had prior knowledge of what she was talking about.

Almost as if remembering where he was, Ancel stopped clapping and nervously looked back to the court, ashamed of his own excitement.
Nero hated that look. To feel such shame for something so innocent? It was not something a child, let alone an Emperor should be feeling.

The court smirked and chuckled. Happy to see their ruler was still a vulnerable child that could be exploited. Others stared on blankly, too afraid, cynical, or dispassionate to do anything without being told. Snakes and cowards the lot of them.

Nero nodded at Cipher and stepped forward.

The Queen Mother stared at Nero inquisitively, almost taken aback by his very presence.

Nero kneeled before Ancel, his sister and some of her men kneeling behind him. "Your excellency, my brother Ancel. I shall be attending the meeting with the Legionary Council in your stead."

The people of the court began to mummer to each other in confusion, annoyance, and even anger.
The Queen Mother looked at Nero with that same look she has always given him. Not hatred or disgust as one would expect. But wariness and...pity?

Why did she have to be like this. It would be so much easier if she simply hated him. Why didn't she hate him? She was so much crueler to everyone else. It always left a sour taste in his mouth every time he made moves against her.

She feared him but not enough to hate him? She pitied him but not enough to aid him? What did the queen mother see when she looked upon her husband's first son? The one born out of wedlock before she even showed up at the castle. The one who would of been Emperor had his father married the woman he loved instead of caving into the demands of the Legionary Council.

She would often give Cipher the same expression; albeit with a tad more unease due to his sister's more violent behavior.

"I am already handling this Nero." Said Queen Mother Selene almost softly yet coldly.

Nero stood up; Cipher and her men following suit. "Be that as it may, I shall be attending the meeting all the same."

The Queen mother looked over Nero with a small frown. "Why can't you just leave this be?" She said quietly.

Cipher pushed towards Ancel, putting her hands on his shoulders. "Please little brother, let Nero handle this. This is very important to him, to you, to all of us."

Ser Gleedoll awoke from his vigil and immediately stepped towards Cipher. "That's enough little princess." Spoke the behemoth.

Cipher turned towards Ser Gleedoll, grabbing her mace. "This is a long time coming Gleedoll."

Gleedoll chuckled heavily before raising his own weapon, ready for combat. Members of the court began pointing and shouting in concern.

"It-it's alright" muttered Ancel, turning to his sister. "I really want to Cipher, but I-everyone else also wants to attend the meeting so I-"
Ancel glanced at his mother, then at Sister Lelettia and Lady Talia.

"You can trust Lady Selene to handle this princess." Said Lady Talia. "The Legionary Council only need the Emperor in cases of a stalemate, I doubt there is anything to gain by you or Prince Nero attending."

"Well, if it really doesn't matter than let the Emperor decide." Said Sister Lelettia, turning to the young ruler. "I know it may seem daunting, but you can't make everyone happy your excellency. I'm sure whoever doesn't get picked will understand your choice."

Nero had not expected that from Lelettia, but even if her words were meant to encourage Ancel, he could not leave it up to chance.
"I do ask for forgiveness my brother. However I'm simply declaring my intentions. There is no need for you to have to make such as decision at this point."

Nero turned towards the court. "I shall speak with the Legionary Council, do you understand? Those of you who serve them might as well inform the Legion Generals to expect me."

Nero stared at the queen mother who looked as if she had something to say. "With all due respect your grace. You do not posses the authority to stop me. If you wish to attend the meeting anyways, I will not stop you either. But, no matter what, I will be there. I would have the emperor accompany me."

Queen Mother Selene bit her thumb contemplating before speaking. "I shall allow you to do as you please. Only so that you and your posse do not cause any unneeded chaos. However, the Emperor shall not be there. This is not something for him to have to deal with. I will not forget this Nero, the Legionary Council will hear of this outburst, and we shall have words on it at a later juncture."

Nero looked to Ancel one last time to see his reaction. The Emperor looked like he had more he wanted to say but could not bring himself to speak it. He simply nodded at Nero, the closest thing he could muster to open approval.

Sister Lelettia frowned, clearly upset Nero had taken the choice out of the Emperor's hands. She eyed Nero suspiciously. Nero was no fool, he understood how this looked. However, it was necessary to pave the way for the greatness that was to come. To reform the Orduin Empire and pave the way for his little brother's eventual rule. Nero, Cipher, and those with him bowed one last time and began marching out of the throne room.

Right outside the throne room door, a young girl leaned against the wall, her arms behind her back.

"I could of convinced the Emperor to choose you my Prince." Said the girl. "It would of saved you all the chicken dancing, and would of made you look less like you are trying to seize power."

Nero turned to the girl. "I told you not to go near him Luci."

Luci pouted. "Why do you have to be such a bully? I was only trying to be nice."

Luci let out a giggle. "Besides, you're too late. Ancel and I are already the best of friends. He loves listening to my stories. I've even started telling him about all the wonders of Dumas."

"You little witch." Said Cipher, stepping forward.

Suddenly a gust of wind came from behind Nero and Cipher, they both turned around to face a band of robed figures, having seemingly come out of nowhere. Cipher's men stood ready to draw their swords, but Cipher raised her hand commanding them to stand down.



"Why won't you play with us any more Nero?" Said Luci, tilting her head. "You were the one who invited us here in the first place. I thought we were friends."

"A mistake I regret with each passing day." Shot Nero. "The mutilated animals being found all over the castle, and the strange symbols drawn in blood. That is you doing isn't it?"

Luci gave another giggle. "Maybe? I-Don't-Knooooowww."

"Just don't become a liability. And make sure you do what you're told." Said Nero, turning away from Luci and her cultist.

"The love of Dumas stretchers to all Prince Nero." Said Luci. "Even the Emperor, even the Legionary Council, even you." Luci let out one last childish laugh before walking off with her people down a nearby corridor.



"And none can deny it for long."
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Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by OddlyParanoid
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Former Imperial Capital

POV: Ralof

There was still smoke in the air when Ralof woke up that morning, he had something of a hangover and felt like he could hear screaming in his ear...

Fortunately for him the screaming was coming from somewhere in the city, unfortunately... he still had a hangover.



Ralof breathed a deep breath, his eyes barely open. He watched his chest fall as he released air from his lungs.



It was then that Ralof, High Chief of the Roaming Hill Tribes realized... he was sleeping in a wine storage. With a moan he climbed to his feet, body aching from poor sleeping posture.

Ralof grabbed another drink to ease his hangover; he would pay for it later, but what had future Ralof ever done for him? It's current Ralof that does all the work.

Striding in the room outside his eyes squinted at the sudden blur of light, before falling upon the Throne room.



The Eastern Duchy must've refurbished this room hundreds of times, the throne itself while nice and certainly ordinate, was lacking something he was expecting from a seat that once held the asses of Emperor and Empresses prior.

It could've been destroyed all those years ago when the Chitijians made work of this place, but he was still holding out hope that the original throne was still somewhere in the palace.

He looked to the side and saw the lovely lady Airis Vallie looking rather uncomfortable, perhaps even miserable as she was trapped in a one-way conversation with his youngest daughter Thrie.




"You hated those men right? The one's I beat! The one's I killed! You were basically a prisoner here so you should be thanking me since I saved you!"

Thrie spoke at a rapid pace, her voice was high pitched and excited but rather than making her appear cute she came off sounding more... hungry.

"Th-Thank you" Airis said in a dejected manner.

It was clear to Ralof that Airis was none too pleased with the current state of affairs. True she had been in a political marriage with a man she hardly spoke to; and she was barely surviving the variety of harassment leveraged at her from the various memebers of the court.

But at least she could predict what the future held, she was of an allegedly valuable noble linage, and was on track to become the Arch Duke's wife. Had she bid her time, those who had mistreated her could've eventually been punished. Now though? She was a guest in the palace that she was fully expecting to one day call her own, at the mercy of a group of savages who had slayed her fiance and seemed to question the value her blood allegedly held.

Luckily for her, Ralof was both a worldly man, and a gracious host. He would go cheer her up and win her over all in one fell swoop.

"High Chief... brother, a word."

Ralof sighed, it would seem the lovely lady Airis would have to wait, as there were boring old men who needed attention.

"Brother!" Ralof boasted arms wide to offer a welcoming embrace for his elder brother Tharneld.



"Is this about the Arch Duke's socks? I suppose you can have them if-" Ralof started.

"No brother, this is about how we've essentially toppled the entire Duchy of East Orduin just yesterday, the realm is in chaos and-"

"Brother... BROTHER! You worry too much! The capital city is ours! The other dukes and nobles of the Duchy will scramble to our banner or they shall meet similar fates."

"By what right!? Right of conquest!?" Tharneld was yelling now.

Ralof slapped him on his back for good measure "Because I have a plan to further establish us as the legitimate rulers of this kingdom."

"Ki-Kingdom? Brother we might hold the city now but our warriors will wish to return to their tribes eventually."

"This is true" Ralod admitted

"Unless, we move everyone here"

"Move everyone here!? To the old imperial capital?"

"Hahaha! Now your getting it brother! As of this day, the roaming hills tribes after hundreds of year of wandering! Will finally have a home!"



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Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by Crusader Lord
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Crusader Lord A professional, anxiety-riddled, part-time worker

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The Kingdom of Thakis


Morning, Throne Room, Pharess' Palace





...Undead had no need for sleep, and yet she found this behavior of the living to be relaxing in some sense even now.

The top floor of the palace was a place that few ever trod, and among those were herself and her servants and occasionally some of the royal guards. Even so it was her bedroom, a grand room in a large rectangular shape with smooth marble walls and flooring that were peerlessly shined and cleaned each day. Grand rugs and carpets made of the best hides and materials sat symmetrically around the floor on either side of her grand bed and especially before the grand door to enter her chambers on one of the smaller side walls in the far east of the ballroom-sized bedchamber.

To this end it was to be noted that her own grand bed lied against the long back wall to the south of her bedchamber, the bed itself oversized and covered in soft silks and velvet sheets and gold/silver trims and so forth and standing upon a specially carved and strengthened Dracis stone bed frame with embedded jewels. Even so the bed was as soft and fluffy to lie upon as only the grandest of kings and dukes and emperors could hope to ever know. Likewise, opposite of this long back wall on the other long length-wise side was then a large wall of windows in turn, shielded by soft and luxurious curtains that effectively blocked out light. A few side tables sat on either side of the ruler's grand bed, though more notably on the far western side of her chambers sat tools and alchemical appatari and shelves of supplies and books and ink and quills and other desks or shelving filled with messy tomes bound in leather and sewn together with a fine and very careful touch. A work station for a scholar, yet fit and stocked for a queen no less.

On this note the undead queen, after sitting up and scooting to the edge of her bed in her velvet red silk nightgown, pushing pure white sheers underneath the velvet top cover, gave a snap of her fingers after letting out a yawn. By the time her legs swung over the edge and onto the soft rug-covered marble flooring next to her bed, two of her servants had already rushed in and began to open the curtains with a careful but trained haste. It wasn't a haste built on fear, however, but rather a sort of...disciplined reverence. Sunlight flooded in as the curtains parted, though, with the gold trimmings of the curtains and bed slightly glowing in the radiant yet harsh light of day. The Pharess didn't even have to squint, but even so softly stood up and stretched her arms and so forth.

"Hmm...this sleep spell works generally well," she muttered to herself, standing up on the right side of her bed and turning to face the side table, grabbing an enchanted quill and inkwell left sitting there as she opened a tome left there last night to the next clean page, "For undead has its merits, simulating the experience of sleep for the living. The dream experience is, however, still rough...ah.

I'll introduce this to the University Head later today, let them conduct further research on the matter. Willing test subjects from a larger pool, under controlled circumstances, should allow us to find the root of that issue to fix it. Likewise it will allow other issues to come to the forefront with observation and usually proper procedures put in place..."


Scribbling notes down with a sleepy expression, the enchanted quill magically re-coating in ink smoothly as she wrote with all the grace and care of a ruler and all of the haste and rapidity of a busy scholar. The inkwell near the quill itself was disturbed every so often as ink was magically transferred to the quill and the correct amount was transferred to the tip without extra mess. It was a marvel of magical craft on a personal level, an intricate if not fancy things, but in fact it was one tool the Pharess herself had put to more than a 'bit' of use over the last several hundred years.

Then after she was done, she returned the quill, dried the ink magically with a wave of her hand, and gently re-closed the tome once more.

"My Pharess. I come bearing the morning's messages."

The undead queen turned her head toward the entrance to her chambers, a servant having popped her head in and asked of her before stepping in and bowing deeply before her and hurrying over. The younger servant was decked out in a red, velvety with golden trim uniform, one which hugged her arms and torso with long sleeves in a neat but fashionable stylet, yet simply had a strip of cloth in front and one behind with golden frill on the edges to accommodate a sense of comfort in movement (at least for a Dracis). A Dracis this servant was indeed as well, even persistent in her duties and willing to learn for one of her youthful age. Diligent to a fault in regards to her own health at times, yes, but she'd promised the girl's parents back in the mountains that she'd be well taken care of and educated in the palace those several years ago. After all, a bad staff was only asking for a bad result! Likewise she wanted her people to learn, to know, to grow and become more. Such was herb belief as ruler and scholar both, and even as a mage when it came to magical learning.

"Come, Hina, speak with me as we walk," the Pharess said, giving a wave of her hand as her nightgown removed itself from her and neatly flew over to hang itself softly on a rack, whilst a golden dress of superbly regal design floated over in turn and donned itself onto her body, softly accentuating her curves and lovely figure even as a serpent-topped crown of gold (with silver on the bottom border and jewels about its rim in a neat pattern) gently floated down onto her head.

The young Dracis briefly blushed at the sight of her Pharess, but all the same didn't avert her soft blue eyes from the scene as she rapidly scrambled to regain her tiny bit of lost composure back. It brought a smallest of grins to the undead queen's face, but even so her smile softened back into a look of stoic neutrality and regal posture once more as she donned her royal golden sandals and grabbed her golden mage's 'staff' adorned with a fan-like blade at the top of its sturdy and magically-reinforced smooth wooden shaft with a gold and silver-rimmed metal 'cap' at the bottom. She then began to walk to exit her chambers, the young Dracis moving to keep stride with her and stay by her side as they moved out into the servant-filled, guard-stationed, and bustling palace halls and stairwells.

"Y-Yes! Ahem. The first message I was sent with was from Royal Counselor Thothas, who sends a requests a meeting about increasing border and internal garrisons for security in his provinces sitting on the Eastern border. Next is a message that the head of the Royal Guard wishes to speak with you in the throne room before it is opened for other business today. There is also the matter of General Sylvan, who has amassed and sent the latest border reports and scouting details from the south and primarily southwest provinces."

"Hmm...first send word to Caeldari that I am already heading to the throne room as we speak.

Next have the couriers send a message to Thothas that he shall have his meeting in four days' time, and to be here promptly just after sunrise. Add that his magi must coordinate with the Royal Guards to prepare a magic portal ahead of time, or else he must find another way to get here using those four days. I will hear him out, but he must provide sufficient evidence to back his demands.

Finally I want the reports from General Sylvan brought to Caeldari for review, before being brought to me alongside her thoughts for further review and considerations to be made. Depending on the content we might take a few days to return a response to the General."


"It shall be done! Then...ah...let's see...the final message has come from the far western ports, sent by Overseer Amitana, who tells that the 'special fleet' has been finished in final."

The Pharess stopped for a moment, taking a glance over at Hina and giving a nod of thoughtful approval before walking again.

"Very good. Ensure a message of my approval is sent to the Overseer by messenger magi in this case. Notify the overseer I will visit by portal tomorrow morning just after sunrise, primarily to inspect facilities and each ship going on the voyage myself.

Then message the Commander to ensure proper guards are stationed to protect the ships, as well as that he is to check and quadruple-check that he and his men's supplies and rations and so forth are in order. Likewise inform him that High Diplomats Yuki and Varanian to proceed to the western coast to board alongside the other specialized personnel and traders.

These priority messages, with my permission given and an emphasis on the urgency of these being sent."


"Y-Yes, my Pharess!" Hina would say once more, with emphasis, giving a deep bow before rushing ahead, her smaller legs jotting along at a rapid pace and notably greater haste. The undead queen could even see the girl put her right hand to the side of her head, a means for focusing on using the communication magic she'd taught her long ago.

Not breaking her stride this time, however, the undead queen moved with grace and vigor toward the special stairs and halls going all the way down to the throne room on the bottom floor. Four of her Royal Guards (two on each side) stood there at the entrance, saluting her staunchly with weapons in hand as she approached. They would naturally escort her along the way, switching off with select sets of guards along each segment of the narrow but grand passage. It was normal procedure, among many other things, but security was kept tight always as a general rule of thumb among the myriad procedures and processes and protocols she'd set in place long ago here in this converted and renovated 'former' royal palace built first by Thakis' former royalty pre-revival.

It would be a long day ahead indeed, though, if the messages and bustle and first meeting in the throne room were of any indication.




Later That Day, Western Docks, West Coast of Thakis


"Sh-Sh-She's coming tomorrow?!"

Overseer Amitana paced back and forth in his simple office near the docks, hooves clacking on the wooden floor as the male Satyri's face twisted in a look of sudden panic after the message from the palace had been received. Yet he would suddenly stop, slap himself in the face, take a deep breath, and with his hands behind his back approach his assistant standing near the doorway of his office. The tall elf woman stood there, eyepatch over her left eye, leaning on the doorframe with her arms crossed, before letting out a small sigh and looking her boss dead in the eyes.

"Boss, this was a big order from on high when we first got it. There is no denying that. All we need to do is finish our end and hold up our end of the deal. Just breathe, before I have the men drag you to the bar by force and I have to pass on the orders."

It was something to report back to the Pharess directly via a messenger magi, albeit one sent there months ago as a royal representative no less, but the stress of the situation was something she did not envy either. Especially in the case of the ever-anxious but detail-obsessed overseer of their ship-building company here on the coast. It was no wonder he'd been chosen for the task, he was the best damned shipwright in the port city itself and even one of the very best on the Thakisian Coast, but all the same the last few months of meticulous work had made her and her boss almost ill with the raw stress alone along the way. Especially given her boss' ship-building company had been chosen to be the group to direct and lead the whole work of making this strange fleet the Pharess wanted. Hell, it was a top-priority job that had taken all their work for the last six months to bring to the best possible quality their workers and more could muster without quitting or dying on the job.

Rumor on the docks had it this was a diplomatic mission heading south, others said it was some kind of military-related task stopping by Karynia to assist in the succession there, and frankly even more eerie and ludicrous ideas lingered out there among the workers and locals she didn't want to think about right now. Military had sent troops there ahead of time only a month ago, which had at least kept crime down a bit more. Drove some of the shadier traders and the black-market sellers out of the waters for the moment being, or at least to the edges of town. That was how the port city of Ramouth was run, however, and had always been. Order was well enough kept overall and trade flowed splendidly on the average throughout the year, with the ice crews and ships working hard and traders flowing in from Karynia and out from Thakis to Karynia, but where the wealth was there was always a darker side to it.

For example, she'd gotten smashed a few months ago with some sailors at the bar before some wife later that night stabbed her left eye out with a rope-cutting knife for supposedly 'flirting with her husband at the docks'. More like it was the damn worker from a rival company who'd been trying to sweet talk her, before she gave him a black eye and a few less teeth when he'd tried something on her that night and been kicked out by her mates from the same company. Idiot Caeldoni man. Idiot human wife of his. Either way it was a long gone encounter, nothing to ponder on right now as her boss tried to compose himself whilst they were on the cusp of the best payday in any of their combined years of experience in shipbuilding and repair. Even the men were excited at the promised pay to come, and their customer was as wealthy and reliable as they could come in all of Thakis.

"Y-Yes, you're right...I-I was just going to ask if you had anything for...a-ah...the nerves? Please, Navarrae?"

The silver-haired elf woman rolled her eyes, but even so reached into her coat and withdrew a worn metal flask. Popping the cork out of the top, she handed it over to the shorter male Satyri. He seemed to look at it for a moment, hesitating, before finally taking a proper swig and handing the flask back. Navarrae too took a swing, before re-corking the flask and stuffing it back into her coat before gesturing to the doorway.

"By the gods that feels a bit better!"

"Let's get moving, Boss, before we waste any more daylight."

"R-Right!"

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Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by Medium Light
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A Letter Received at the Valanor Border.

To the Honorable General Glazer.

It comes with no small effort on my part that I must ask you for aid and mercy in these trying times. Tis is true that for many a year my house has stood against your armies, keeping the Duchy of East Orduin out of the Accord’s grasp; however I must post-haste inform you of my intentions to defect and swear fealty to his Imperial Majesty Emperor Ancel the 2nd. If you are hesitant to trust my words please allow me to explain my decision.

The ArchDuke had seen fit to hire on savages to support his war effort against your forces. The Tribes of the Roaming Hills, answered his call and as one should have expected from men and women of their ilk, turned on the ArchDuke claiming the capital and the Duchy for themselves. While this claim is laughable and holds no true legal binding, they do still pose a dangerous threat.

The ArchDuke, having died for his foolishness, has left the remaining nobility in the duchy to deal with the aftermath of his decision. The savages have already destroyed most of my forces, and have defiled and taken over the ancestral home of my family. I see now that this is a sign from The One that the Duchy of East Orduin was a false state, and I myself unknowingly supported a rebel to what was the true Empire. Thus I and my dear sister ask for asylum within the Valanor Accord.

I shall be arriving with what few loyal subordinates I still have and will be approaching the border within the next day or so of you receiving this letter. I do hope that you receive it before our arrival. I of course expect to be treated with the respect and accommodations fitting for one of my station, as is my dear sister.

Once we are settled we may begin discussion on how my family and our magics may best be used to retake the Duchy of East Orduin, for the glory of the one true Orduin Empire.

Long Live the Orduin Empire, Lord Alester Emberfall
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Scouting Report from the 5th Legion Rangers.

General Gaius,

The northern regions are still hostile and dangerous. My scouts and spies have had many a close call gathering this information. The Bestia Horde has begun moving, their beastman leader, the so called King Auguba, has called fourth the creatures and savages of the region to his keep, Castle Dire. For what reason we do not know, although it may just be a grand feast to build bonds with vassals; we are hesitant to subscribe such forethought to a beastman, even one like Auguba.

Whatever that case is, it seems only a handful of the leaders are traveling and the majority of their forces remain spread out throughout the Bestia region. Any hopes we had at taking territory while they were away will have to wait; although this is ultimately your call general.

With this in mind, we can’t seem to track the gnolls at all. They are concentrated in the dryer regions, but that is all we can say for now. One of my scouts reported seeing some heading to Castel Dire like the rest but there is no sign of the gnoll warchiefs. They may be preparing a separate attack on The Accord, please take heed.

Ranger Captain Hoskrell, 5th Legion.
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Slagar Lord of Disappointment, Witch King of Saltmar

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Caslan
Tomb City of Scribes
Assembly of the Kycer


The Tomb City of Scribes sat in the southern mountain ranges, the massive stone towers thick walls of gray and weathered stone shot up across the range like a vast and untamed ruin, with a central courtyard of stone mixed in with grassy hills and small cliffside shrines. To the naked eye, it was difficult to spot, as the towering trees mixed in with the ancient Tomb City, even as it was occupied. Skeletal guards stood with motion at all corners of the city, all while in the recess of the priests who meandered around them who were deep in thought or prayer. Living amongst the dead did not bother them, nor did the smell of the undead workers tirelessly working away at expanding the city give them much distraction. It was during these hours did the priests of the Assembly began to file towards shrines, giving praise to their gods via sacrifice. Of those most noted was Shov Coladdic and Dylon Geuder.

Both Kerks were similar in many regards, but yet polar opposites. Shov was true to his traditionalism as ever, his gathering of aligned clan members all gathered at the shrine of Saokuv. The shrine was on a raised pyramid-like platform, where Shov laid down a lamb before the shrine and cut into it, spilling its blood and guts expertly onto the ground, spattering on his purple cloak. Shov turned his attention towards the shrine, depicting a deer’s skeletal head fixed to an emancipated figure. Shov coldly began to pray to the god before him, asking him for his mercy and power. A necromancer came over and waved his hands, chanting as he did, and a blue flame consumed the body of the sacrifice. Shov joined his fellow supporters, silently filing into the central structure, but lazily looking over at where Dylon was.

Dylon Geuder was at the shrine dedicated Tenera, and was surrounded by all manner of figures. For a creature such as Dylon, he was constantly surrounded by Kerks of import who were both a mix of vicious loyalists and curious onlookers. Pelkov Elkwood was near him, observing the ritual close by, but scoffed as Dylon took a priest’s knife and cut into a lobster and spilled it onto the shrine. Shov could not see it, but he had known Dylon had brought such a cheap and insulting sacrifice which bothered him to no end. He stopped, staring out as Dylon’s priest burned the sacrifice. Before Shov filed inside, he was soon joined by two other figures.

Approaching Shov was a minor priest and representative Lavar Brav, who had been curiously watching Dylon’s sacrifice unfold. Joining beside him was his servant and slave Lila, an Okan who was quick and clumsy in bowing to Shov and his fellow priests, nearly forgetting the customs. Shov ignored the Okan and turned his attention to Lavar and was quick in his tongue to mock.

“For a clan as rich as the Geuder’s one would think they would have the consideration to at least bring a proper sacrifice. Lobster. Practically an insult if you ask me. Join me Lavar, we have much to discuss.”

Lavar and Lila followed Shov’s group, the Coladdic priests were petty in their mockery of their Geuder-aligned peers. However, Lavar was quick to note a couple things to Shov “You may mock him, but it is smart what he does. As the elections come up, Dylon is set to win the vote amongst the Okan once again. Maybe even the Beurians. He relies quite heavily on it. The slaves and poor along the coasts sacrifice sea urchins and crab to the gods, and ever the populist, Dylon simply follows suit.”

Shov scoffed “He should focus on the Kerks then. The election is coming up, yes, but it years away.”

“One can never start too early, Shov. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t even Mel Coldfinger himself preparing his protege for such things?”

“Do not remind me, Lavar. My meeting with Naya did not go very well. She is studious, yes, but hardly material worthy of the Kycer. I need loyalists to the cause of the gods, not upstarts who think they know how to run things. Our society is dependent as ever on our fealty to the gods. Pretending we are overly political and petty fools like those on the mainland only drags us down to their level.”

Lavar kept his mouth shut as the two walked into the main chamber. Lavar stopped, as if knowing his own servant was shocked by just the sheer size of the assembly's main room. The dimly lit parts of tomb city’s insides were normal for any other, dirty caverns and stone hallways with little light. Yet, the main chamber was massive, a central square where the entire assembly of the Kycer met and casually discussed. On each side of a grand stadium, overhanged by a rock ceiling, stood four braziers. Coladdic necromancers chanted into them and light bursted from them, and filled the room with illumination. Then she saw him, a figure which shocked her a bit when she saw it. Mel Coldfinger himself.

Mel levitated on an upper balcony near a stone throne, above the entire Kycer itself. He was wrapped in a faded purple and dark green robe, lined with black silk. Dangling cloth swirled around him, his arms folded as he stared off into a book which levitated in front of him. His massive fur cap comically nearly reached out towards the ceiling, and the pages in front of the lich magically flicked. He looked mummified, but it was sometimes difficult to tell, as a great scarf covered his mouth and nose. Only his dry eyes with a dim light shone through the eyeless sockets, peering without care as he continued to look into his books.

Lila was terrified at first, but Lavar comforted her “Come. He is more friendly then he looks. Just be sure to take down the Kycer’s business, and pry your attention away from. . .the pettiness.”

The Okan only nodded. She had not been brought along as an observer, but as a writer. Lavar wanted to bring back the court’s business due to a fading memory by the time he was back in their home down south. Lavar took his place, giving humble bows to his peers. Lavar took his place and began to intermingle amongst several others in the assembly. It wasn’t until Dylon Geuder and his own confidants entered that things truly began to pick up pace. Dylon laughed and joked with his fellow Zupans and aligned members, but Pelkov Elkwood was pushy and more grim. Despite those in the assembly referring to Dylon as ‘The Grim’, he Kerk was vibrant in personality and humor.

“Zupan Geuder, you must take this matter most seriously. The Hazels have no intention of joining the Kycer, and their infernal family continues to hound at my borders, and yours by default!” Pelkov complained openly “You must see some reason in all this? Can you not?”

“Pelkov, you worry far too much about them. I have talked to the Hazels on both of our behalfs, and their new Zupan does seem rather open to talking at least. Duman Hazel has reassured me that he will not fiddle with your underbelly of a country, in turn you will not do the same! Trust me Pelkov, it will take time for that family to join us here in the Kycer.”

Pelkov shook his head, partly in anger. Lavar listened in on the conversation, amused that of all of Pelkov’s complaints, the Hazels being slow to join in the Kycer was his top issue. Lavar could only guess, and rightfully so, that Pelkov was trying to pry Dylon’s interest away from aligning with the growing Hazel family. Lavar himself had even talked with Duman, and made trade deals on their behalf. As Pelkov and Dylon took their place in the Kycer. There was a loud and obnoxious slapping of a book, closing with vicious intent. Everyone turned to Mel, as the book that was once infront of his face began to float down to the ground and took its places on a small pedestal.

“I call the Kycer to order.” Mel began.
_____

Lila may have been writing down conversations and summaries of the Kerks in the Kycer, but could barely understand the politics. Lavar would occasionally interject as the day dragged on, as many in the Kycer made speeches. There wasn’t a lot happening in Caslan, and every small issue was overblown into a major trouble simply to pass the time. One such trouble was the debate over the rising minor family known as the Hazels.

The Hazels had a long time ago fought a war of independence from the Elkwoods, and won with stunning victories. The clan was deeply militarized, and was perhaps the 2nd most organized clan next the Geuders themselves. However, the Hazels were poor, distrusted, and they lacked a great deal of ambition. For years the clan had been content, but only recently did the clan seek to slide its way into the election cycle for the coming years. Pelkov made speech after speech decrying the small clan, and mocked them openly, but few were listening to his constant complaining. More so, Shov showed open concern that the Hazels would disrupt the delicate balance of the Kycer. More accurately however, it would disrupt the Coladdic’s majority within it.

What had prevented the Hazels from joining the Kycer before was their trouble with money. They were not even present in the Kycer itself, and their single representative was a meek messenger who was simply there to inform the Kycer that family matters kept Duman Hazel at home. Lavar was disappointed that the Zupan again shirked any and all opportunity to join in the politics of the country, but he understood fully his caution. Duman was a great warrior, but a terrible speaker. A trip to the Kycer would have been costly for him, and Lavar blamed himself for disillusioning the young Zupan far too early to the pettiness of the assembly.

However, the calm of the Kycer was suddenly interrupted by a sudden speech by Dylon Geuder.

“My Lords, and fellow priests of the Kycer. When I was leaving for the Kycer last week, my party stopped by the cities of Kel Felgord, and what I saw depressed me. The north has ports, but we have shit ports, manned by shit sailors. Our ports have little more then fishermen, as Orduin robbed us of any means of building up proper drydocks and shipbuilding. We have ships in the south, sure, but they are used far more for trade. The defense of this island and the Kycer relies on a stronger fleet of galleys and warships, and our forests remain almost entirely untouched. So I have a proposal for our dear Heads of the Ass--” Dylon Geuder was pulling out what looked like a tome at first, but before Dylon even could present it to any of the heads of the assembly, Shov shouted out a very meager and bored “Veto.”

“My good lord, you jest.” Dylon fumbled his words, creasing with anger.

“I do not remember you having poor hearing, Dylon Geuder.” Shov mocked, and continued “Now is not a year for drastic reform. We have no need for warships, and we certainly do not need to spend the Kycer’s coffers supplying your clan with those ships. I hardly need to ask or guess what you will even do with them.”

Dylon shot back, accusingly “Perhaps if you read my proposal first, rather then casting it aside, you would not need to gues--”

“I will hear no more of this, let us continue.”

“Continue what?” Dylon had a rather sudden realization as Shov was looking primarily at the silent Pelkov. Shov was biding his time, trying ever so silently and unmovingly, trying to see the Geuder’s coalition of Zupans break apart. Pelkov’s anger towards the Hazels had already been in debate throughout most of the day, which only made Dylon mad himself. Dylon looked back, knowing full well what Shov was doing.

“My head of assembly, when did our republic become so wretched you would have us endlessly debate over the troubles of my aligned clans rather then the good of this republic? Do you care so little for the Kerks?” Dylon shouted back. The murmurs in the Kycer became shouting as Coladdic and Geuder aligned minor priests were soon shouting and accusing one another. Fists were raised, and only the Ceremonial priests kept themselves away from the small fights already breaking out between the two groups. Shov was looking on in amusement, up until Dylon was descending the stairs upward towards him.

The Braziers of the assembly hall suddenly turned a bright blue and dimmed, and the Kerks fell silent once again and stopped. This had a specific meaning, for Mel was about to speak.

“Enough of this pettiness, the both of you. I have watched worse things in days long gone, and as I had not tolerated it then, I will not tolerate it now. Back to your positions, or I shall curse each and every one of you till you act less like children.” The groups stopped and calmed, as the brazier’s fire returned to normal. Mel levitated off the stand, keeping his pose as he came in front of Dylon Geuder and reached out his mummified hand to him. Dylon gave his proposal to the Lich’s who then levitated back to his chair and spoke.

“Shov Coladdic, I Veto your Veto as of now, you will read the proposal and debate its merits, and you will vote on the Geuder’s proposal. Then you are all dismissed.”

Shov turned in a confused state towards Mel “My eternal patriarch, we have only just arrived.”

“You will understand in time, young Shov. Now please. Do as the gods demand, and read.” Shov had Dylon’s proposal float to him and reluctantly began to read it.

The proposal was massive, far more than what Dylon had marketed it as. The proposal went into many details, from the construction of lumber yards, to the assignment of ship builders, to the buying of galley slaves, and even the apartments for sailors and captains. Shov sighed as he read aloud each individual thing, and the Kycer began to groan as debate continued to rage for what felt like days over each individual piece of legislation. Shov tried his best to rally his faction against every aspect of the bill, but soon found many being intrigued by it. Lavar was vehemently against the bill, speaking out against it alongside Shov, much to Dylon’s personal fury. Lavar didn’t wish to see his own clan get put down, and seeing Dylon’s deathly stare at him, he proposed a mutual exchange. However, this only infuriated Shov, who wanted to shut down the bill entirely.

Dylon could read the room, especially amongst the very skeptical Landarric Kerks who did not wish to lose their specialization to the Geuders. Dylon spoke and debated for the new ports to be purely drydocks and shipyard buildings, and that the Kycer would pay effectively for a new fleet on the northern coast rather than a general overhaul. Shov’s immediate agreement made Dylon’s stomach drop, but Lavar was happy with the change and was soon singing the proposal’s changes. Shov and his faction next began to speak on the costs of the bill, and complained of how expensive a new fleet would be. Dylon fought back, claiming these new warships would be primarily used to protect trade and defend the isle, and would in fact boost the income of all clans. Shov was naturally skeptical, but his clan was growing discontent. After hours upon hours of debate, the vote came. With Lavar’s support, Dylon Geuder’s shipyard proposal had passed.

Effectively, the proposal would have the Kycer pay for the construction of shipyards, forestries, and support structures in the cities of Helgave, Kel Felgord, Kel Gaven, and Kel Gargath. Individual clans would pay for the wages of workers or pay for the buying of slaves to fill most of these positions. Okan captains would oversee the training of sailors, with Kel Felgord being the main naval training ground. Southern Caslan in turn would no longer need to pay for the maintenance cost of the Caslan fleet, but instead the responsibility of both fleets will go to the Kycer. The Northern fleet would also be captained by both a member of the Geuder and Coladdic clan. Dylon suspected Shov would try to sabotage this as well, but he was satisfied for now by the passing of his bill.
____

As recess was called, Dylon and Lavar spoke to one another with Dylon openly questioning the expert statesman of his neutrality. Although both of them were annoyed with one another, Dylon had a strange respect for Lavar, as much had a strange respect for Dylon. As the two spoke in length, there was a call for a return to the Kycer. Lavar was unsure why the Kycer would meet only to be dismissed so early, and asked Dylon on this. Dylon could only guess, believing it had something to do with Mel Coldfinger himself.

Dylon was right, as when the Kycer met again, there was no speeches, only Mel standing above them all and looking down at them. Beside him was Naya Coladdic and a skeletal elven sorcerer named Gra’vyen. Mel looked over them, especially at Shov and Dylon with critical eyes, as he spoke directly to all of them.

“For a long while I have lived amongst you as Overwatch, and when I left the Kycer, I had hoped they were as mature as me to not need my position as Overwatch. However, your petty feuds today only reinforces my beliefs in your inabilities. A shame before us all. However, fret not, my protege Naya Coladdic will be taking my place as Overwatch, alongside my elder companion, my librarian Gra’vyen. You will come to know them well, and will respect them as you respect me. Shov Coladdic, Dylon Geuder, stand in the middle.”

“I will be leaving soon, on a journey across the whole of the world in the ruins of the Orduin empire, and I will be gone for a time. Many of you will see me off at the docks of Kel Trach. I will be looking for many older tomes and magical lores, and I cannot oversee you from a ship let alone on the continent. I will be ever watchful however.”

Both Zupans and members of the Kycer dared not disobey the ancient Lich. Taking a silver knife in his dry and crinkly hands, Mel cut into his palm and furled his black blood into two stone goblets. He snapped his fingers and two skeletal figures took the goblets to both Shov and Dylon.

“Drink.” Mel ordered.

Shov was the first to drink, without question and coughed a bit. Dylon was next, smelling Mel’s blood, and gulped down the vile liquid. Both coughed and gagged as Mel told them of their fates.

“My blood is cursed, for so long as you live, no harm will come to my protege by your hand or any hand you command. If you harm even a single hair upon the head of my temporary replacement, you will dissolve and become like ash. I had have you both swear onto the gods, but I felt it wasn’t enough. You are all dismissed.”

The Kycer began to file out as Dylon angrily stomped out. Shov looked at Mel, confused and distraught that his own patriarch would curse him with such distrust, but he meagerly accepted and joined his fellow priests. Lavar and his servant Lila were the last to leave. Lila was dumbstruck by the whole thing, but dutifully wrote down what had happened. As they left, the tomb doors closed as Mel turned to Naya who gave a humble bow to him.

“Thank you, my eternal patriarch. I wish to not disappoint you, but you think I am ready?”

“No. That is why Gra’vyen will be aiding you, my good Naya. Now, I must make my preparations and give some final, makeshift lessons.”
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Valanor Accord
Itillia
Hesper’s Rest
The Keep of Azurefall


The chamber was comfortable if nothing else; natural light came through the windows and sturdy chairs, aligned along a table in the corridor. One could almost forget this is where the most powerful men and women in the Valanor Accord gathered to discuss the future of the nation.


General Giaus looked around the empty room, these thoughts flowing through his head. It was not often all six of them were gathered at the same time, away from the fronts, but the war effort against the Accord’s various foes had been going well enough.


The only other person in the room was General Hexilda the queen of Gathland and head of the 6th Legion. Giaus meanwhile, was from a family of nobility so low there were a great many peasants richer than him. What would a queen have to talk about with a guy like him?


Nothing was the answer. The two of them sat there and awkwardly tried to make small talk. But, the Queen of Gathland, clearly wasn’t interested in breaking pointless words. Or maybe she just wasn’t really good at it.

Hexilda was a woman who kept herself busy. She had both a kingdom as well as a legion to run, and she also had to review and vote on policies presented by the rest of the Legionary Council. Impressive for such a young lady.

Giaus on the other hand really wasn’t anything outside the Legion. He didn’t even own a home technically. He had joined the legion when he was young; having failed to find a lord to serve as a hedge knight.

He ended up doing well in the Legion, his uncle was a centurion; and taught him a strong foundation for tactics. Giaus had also led levies and city guardsmen in a few minor battles against bandits and raiders so he already had some recognition when he signed on.

Before long he was rising in the ranks; although it felt more like it was because the right combination of people died or retired rather than him impressing his superiors. In the end the position of 5th Legion General just fell on his lap.

Hexilda meanwhile shot up the ranks just six years after joining. Partly because of her political position, as the rest of the Legionary Council felt it would ease tensions with the vassals to have one of them on the council. However, it was also because she had quickly stood out amongst her peers for ability to lead soldiers into impossible situations.

“Settle down I can hear you two laughing from three floors down.” chimed General Hyperion, overly amused by her own attempt at humor.


Giaus appreciated it, giving the woman a smile. Hexilda raised an eyebrow “We weren't talking; I believe you’re mistaken.”

Giaus and Hyperion shared a glance at the Gathland queen; who returned an expression of genuine confusion.

A look of realization washed over Hexilda. “Oh, you were joking….haha. Yes, very humorous.”

“We will have to work on that dear.” Said the General of the 2nd Legion.

General Hyperion was considerably old for a woman of her chosen profession. There was a time when she lived a regimented and organized lifestyle, which helped in building a healthy body that could carry her into her later years.

Hyperion could not seem to get comfortable in her chair, readjusting her position a few times as she spoke. “So we still seem to be missing half our number.”

“Actually we are less than half.” Said Hexilda. “Prince Nero will be here representing Emperor Ancel at this gathering.”

“Prince Nero?” Hyperion mused. “Glazer won’t be happy about that, the two of them have never hid their dislike for each other.”

“The dislike is one sided.” Giaus chimed. “General Glazer has never paid Prince Nero any devoted thought, at least not openly, and never for long.”

“I suppose you’re right.” Said Hyperion. “Still Prince Nero has always been a temperamental boy; you two may not see it, but I can tell he’s the type who bottles things up, letting his emotions explode at junctures beyond his control. Isn’t someone like that a danger to the council? He is a prince after all, bastard half-brother he may be.”

“He thinks he knows what is best for the Emperor.” Spoke General Zeal, entering the corridor, flanked by two of her fellow elven warriors. “He is a spoiled child. His excellency, Emperor Ancel needs the guidance and protection of the Legionary Council to secure his life and rule. Nero threatens our glorious Emperor with his poisoned words.”


The general of the 3rd Legion, General Zeal. Was a member of elven nobility from one of the Light-elf city states within Accord territory. True to her name, she fought for the Empire with a devotion few could match. Her lineage could be tracked all the way back to the first Navarros colonies in Valanor, having distant blood relations with nearly every elven ruler in the region.

General Zeal looked to her elven soldiers. “Leave us.”

The two other elves nodded and left the room, as Zeal took a seat near the head of the table. “I don’t much care for the queen mother, but she is at least in agreement with the council. Nero is actively hostile, and he likely intends to bring the Emperor down that path with him.”

Giaus rubbed his chin. “You believe he intends to turn the Emperor against the Legionary Council?”

“Impossible” Interrupted Hexilda. “The Emperor derives his power from this council, not the other way around. The Accord has always operated in this manner, since before it even had a royal line to fight for.”

Hyperion tapped her fingers against the table. “Indeed; even if Ancel were to try and turn against us what can a child do? His father was a grown man with a strong support base and even he caved in to the council’s demands, he even took the wife we picked for him. Remember Zeal?”

General Zeal looked at Hyperion with an eyebrow raised. “I would not put it so crasley General Hyperion. What we did for the late Emperor Palen, may he sit with The One in the heavens, was for his own good, as well as the good of the Accord and the Orduin Empire. Although admittedly we should of put more thought into the fates of the Emperor’s children.”

“I’m sorry?” Questioned Hexilda. “Care to elaborate?”

“Neither of us were on the council at the time.” Said Giaus. “Same with Apocrypha and Glazer, although Glazer’s father was there if I’m not mistaken.”

“He was.” Said Zeal. “Me, Hyperion, Glazer’s late father, and the rest of the Legionary council at the time were preparing to defend against a host from the Duchy of East Orduin, as well as fight off the Free Emirates of the Northern Wastes, and secure our borders against northern barbarians and the Bestia Horde, as well as coastal pirate lords.”

“On top of that we had internal conflicts to deal with.” Said General Hyperion. “It was a chaotic time indeed, and our hands were rather full. Meanwhile the Petty Kingdom of Hortshire was growing distant from the rest of the Accord, dragging their feet or ignoring our decrees.”

General Zeal folded her hands. “Thus, the council decided it would be best if Emperor Palen married a Hortshire princess, that of course ended up being Lady Selene the Queen Mother.”

“Unfortunately.” General Hyperion injected. “Emperor Palen already had a sweetheart in his life. Lady Grey, who as you may know was little more than a political prisoner from a minor noble family in the Duchy of East Orduin, with barely any real value as a hostage much less a wife to the Emperor.”

Hexilda nodded in understanding. “So Lady Grey was set aside, for Lady Selene and the children she bore with Emperor Palen we removed from the line of succession.”

Giaus turned towards Hexilda. “Actually they were never married. So Lady Grey wasn’t exactly set aside. Nero and Cipher were always going to be bastards. There was nothing to remove them from.”

Hyperion shook her head. “Emperor Palen certainly wanted to marry Lady Grey, he tried many times but the Legionary Council wouldn’t allow it, it would be a waste of such an important political bargaining chip; or so that is what the others argued. Had the Emperor married Lady Grey as he desired, Nero and Cipher would have been the legitimate prince and princess of the empire, at least here in the Accord.”

“Which brings me to my point.” Said Zeal, arms folded. “Prince Nero is likely spiteful that he lost the throne and seeks to usurp the title from his younger half-brother, and do away with the Legionary Council. He is a danger not only to the Accord but the Emperor himself. Only we of the Legionary Council can guide the symbol that is the Emperor down the righteous path; Prince Nero is a corrupting influence on-”

“If he was a threat to us he would have been killed a long time ago.” Spoke a thunderous voice from the end of the corridor, every word sounding like a muffled screech, that managed to be both deep and raspy.

General Apocrypha, walked slowly towards the table, his fists clenched and folded behind his back, as he slouched forward, staring down the rest of them.


Giaus had always felt something was off about Apocrypha, he could never bring himself to stare at the man directly for any more than a moment.

The Valanor Reaper, the leader of the 4th legion. Otherwise known as Apocrypha “Mage’s Bane” he was a man few sought to make an enemy of. Many were ought-right terrified of him, and those who weren’t saw him as unapproachable to an almost cursed degree.

“You are wrong to subscribe such malice onto the young prince General Zeal. Your evidence is nothing but conjecture.” Spoke the Valanor Reaper. “Although I do understand your beliefs, and how you would come to that conclusion.”

Rather than sitting down, Apocrypha began walking in circles around the table, one arm behind his back, the other flailing around dramatically. “True, Prince Nero likely desires to get one over on us, however he would never hurt the young Emperor, at least not intentionally.”

“He may hurt Emperor Ancel in ways beyond his limited understanding” Said Zeal. “Let's say I agree with you, that Nero does not seek to kill and replace his younger brother. He still will corrupt Ancel, turning him into a bullheaded barbarian with nothing but hatred in his heart for the council.”

“I see.” Muttered Apocrypha. “The thing with you Zeal, is that you view what is best for the council and what is best for the Emperor as one of the same thing.”

“Is it not?” Dared Zeal. “Has the council not always been the first and foremost beacon that unites the Valanor Accord? Without us there is nothing. There is no accord, no agreement. Without that; there is no Orduin Empire.”

“Well Prince Nero doesn't see it that way.” Apocrypha said. “To Nero, opposing the Legionary Council, is returning power to his brother. He sees it as loyalty, and perhaps he intends to rule from the shadows, or perhaps he hasn’t thought it all through, but he is loyal to the cause of the empire’s revival, and seeing Emperor Ancel on the throne of that there is little doubt.”

“And thus we shall grant him our attention.” Spoke a deep and overbearing voice. Apocrypha turned around to the corridor entrance, a large man standing with his arms to his sides.

General Glazer walked into the room, keeping a slow pace as he made his way to the table’s head.


The head of the 1rst Legion, General Glazer was known to many, even fellow generals like Giaus, to be the true leader of the Valanor Accord. His family had served in the Legionary Council since it was founded and had long acted as a second royal family of sorts.

Apocrypha tilted his head, locking eyes with Glazer. After a single moment of hesitation he turned around with a huff and took a seat at the table, General Glazer watching him intently.

With that Glazer took a seat at the table’s head, balling his hands together in a graceful manner. “The Prince seeks to use us to secure the foundation for what he sees as his brother’s rightful empire. He knows he can’t lead the legions of the Accord alone. So if he can help it he would rather neuter our power yet keep us on as his pawns. An interesting plan if true, but it will not go that way.”

The rest of the Legionary Council exchanged glances.

“How will it go General Glazer?” Apocrypha questioned unamused.

“It is we who shall use him; Nero, Cipher, and all who support them shall be put to use. This is my decision and I would have you all give your response.”

“What is our plan exactly?” Said Giaus. “I would not cause any unneeded hostilities with our Prince, and I certainly would not approve of any outright action taken against him unless he does something worthy of such a response. However, if he does have such desires, if he truly does pose a political threat of some kind would it not be better to just deal with this matter now?”

“My thoughts as well.” Said Hexilda. “We should not allow someone actively working against us to wander freely.”

“Indeed.” Said Zeal. We should have him and his sister put under house arrest until we-”

Glazer rose a hand, silencing the others. “If we are too overte in our response, it will end in blood and chaos. Prince Nero or more likely Princess Cipher will lead men against us, and other snakes and rats shall take advantage of the situation that creates; let alone outside threats.”

“The Emperor would also be heartbroken” Injected Zeal. “That would destroy any and all trust between the royal household and the Legionary Council, saying nothing about the morality of taking a child’s brother and sister from him at such a young age.”

“I suppose.” Said Hyperion with a shrug. “I feel like that has never been a problem before.”

Suddenly a thought popped into Giaus’s head. He hesitated but Glazer immediately noticed and gestured for him to speak. The man could be a damn bastard sometimes.

“What does the Emperor think?” Gaius asked. “Where does his support lay?”

“Who cares, he probably doesn't know what to think.” Said Hyperion.

“I would not put it that way.” Said Zeal. “The emperor is a symbol of great importance, his purity and justice an ideal for the Accord. He cannot be bothered with this, and his love for those around him including that which is misplaced, leaves him vulnerable to the manipulations of those around him.”

“Do you not think that is a tad hypocritical?” Giaus questioned.

“Nonsense.” Zeal spat back. “I KNOW the Legionary Council has the best interest of the Accord, The Emperor, and the Orduin Empire at heart! The rest cannot be said for all others. Where do the rest of you stand?!”

“I agree.” Said Hexilda, in perfect posture.

“I wouldn’t know.” Said Hyperion, feet on the table.

“I don’t care.” Gruffed Apocrypha, his face resting in his hands.

“Indeed.” Bellowed Glazer. “The best thing for the Emperor is to obey the will of this council. It is his intended and strategic purpose. We all serve a purpose. The boy doesn't need to both be the Emperor AND have a say in the governance of the realm. The true purpose of kings and queens is to serve as diplomatic figureheads and if not that, at the very least symbols for the people to gather around. This idea of a perfect ruler is a flawed one, that should not even be attempted. However, what is the alternative? The Orduin Empire got close but even they failed as the senate became a cesspool worthy of the fate it received. The empire that fell was a hive of decadence, arrogance, extreme cynicism, and worst of all a shrine of total oikophobia by those in power. It was only because the very legions that the senators and nobility turned their backs on came together when they all failed that the Empire even has a chance at survival much less revival.”

Glazer was now almost standing as he spoke. “One man or woman alone, be they fool or genius, is barely capable of running a village, much less an empire. Nor can a senate of elected charlatans and tyrants who don’t even love their own nation fair much better. It is we, a council of those who have fought and gave blood to this accord, those who fight for and love the empire and what it is, what it could be, that are truly gifted with the ability to lead it to its intended conclusion, and it is the grace of the Emperor fulfilling his own purpose that emboldens us in this cause.”

The rest of the council nodded in approval, including Gaius. However, he was unsure how many of them actually agreed or even understood Glazer’s words.

Glazer suddenly stood up straight. “He comes.”

The rest of council turned to see Prince Nero standing at the corridor entrance. Princess Cipher stood at one of his flanks, at the other stood a robed Vaala.


Nero and his posse walked towards the table. “I do hope you haven’t seen fit to start without me.”

“We wouldn’t imagine it.” Said Glazer. “You are after all the liaison of the Emperor, although if you truly wanted to have a word in the council there were more proper ways to do so than stepping on the toes of the Queen Mother.”

Glazer suddenly leaned forward. “If you were to join the Legion, I promise you would rise up the ranks quickly….under my command of course.”

Cipher growled and the Vaala snarled.
Nero did his best to maintain his composure, stepping forward and touching his seat.
“Do not waste my time Glazer. We all know where we stand. Let us discuss the fate of the realm and the direction of our Legions.”

“Our Legions?” Questioned Apocrypha.

“Of course.” Corrected Glazer.

“Take a seat young prince.” Said a dispassionate Hyperion.

As Nero sat down, General Hexilda gestured toward Princess Cipher.
“Princess Cipher, may I ask what it is you are doing here? The same with the Valaa gentleman. It is only Prince Nero that has license to be here. I’m afraid you two must take your leave before we can begin.”

Cipher turned to Hexilda. “Oh my dear soon-to-be sister by marriage. Why must you be so dismissive of me? I figured this could be our chance to finally work together. We will be seeing much of each other once I marry your younger brother. We will be sisters.”

Hexilda turned angry. “What does that have to do with-”

Before she could say more Nero raised a hand. “Cipher, Keif, leave us but stay near.”

The Valaa turned to leave followed by a grimacing Cipher who shot one more pair of daggers at the Queen of Gathland.

“Well then.” Said Glazer. “I shall begin by sharing important news with you all regarding the Duchy of East Orduin.”

“I have heard strange rumors.” Said Hyperion. “Odd troop movements and mass desertion by the mercenaries who fought for them?”

Glazer shook his head. “Not desertion. The Duchy of East Orduin, as we knew it at least, is no more.”

“What!?” Shouted Apocrypha.

“What happened!?” Demanded Zeal.

“How is this possible?” Nero wondered out loud.

Giaus could tell from their reactions that no one in the room save Glazer was aware of the truth.

Glazer continued. “The ArchDuke invited the Tribes of the Roaming-Hills into his city in order to hire out their services. Instead they took over the capital and now their High Cheif, a man named Rolof claims ownership of the former East Orduin lands.”

“So their lands are in chaos? Should we not press the attack and finally claim the capital for ourselves? “ Asked Nero. “Not only did the barbarians not ally with that fool of a Archduke, but they turned on him?! This is a day of celebration.”

“It is indeed a fortunate turn of events.” Said Glazer. “And we shall capitalize on it immediately. I propose we dispatch 3 legions to the East Orduin front.”

“I suppose you will want to be there for the moment of glory?” Accused Nero.

“Indeed I would.” Said Glazer. “However, my forces have already exhausted themselves fighting the Ducy’s forces up until this point. They must return here to recuperate, and to control the hordes of refugees that will no doubt flood in from East Orduin.”

“So who shall have the honor?” Asked Hyperion.

Hexilda frowned. “Honor? There is no honor in cleaning up the trash.”

“What are you talking about?” Questioned Apocrypha. “There is little more respectable than the simple act of cleaning, someone needs to pick up the trash eventually. And I intend to clean indeed. Hehehehehe.”

“Apocrypha is right!” Shouted Zeal. “Cleaning can be an honour, doubly so when in service to the emperor!”

Glazer gestured Apocrypha. “Indeed, you shall lead the efforts against the Roaming Hill Tribes.”

Apocrypha nodded. “Of course.”

Glazer looked at Hyperion and then Gaius himself. “Hyperion, Gaius; the 2nd and 5th legions shall accompany him once they are ready.”

Gaius was surprised that he would be chosen for such a task, but he respected Glazer’s thoughts on the matter. Still he had concerns.

“What of the northern front?” Asked Gaius. “The frontier region is still full of hostile tribes and clans that raid our northern borders, and that is without the Bestia Horde uniting them against us. What land we do control is still rather lawless, even with Justicar Zamoria and her Order of Saint Justinian lending their aid.”

Gaius and the 5th Legion had been assigned to the frontier recently, fighting off countless small bands of raiders, barbarians, and even nomadic beastmen tribes from the far north. In addition the presence of the Dark Legion was a constant worry regardless of how many diplomats claimed otherwise.

“General Hexilda and the 6th legion will go there.” Said Glazer, turning to Hexilda. “Remember Hexilda, taking the coast is our main concern, take and control that part of the region and the Emperor shall grant it to you and the Kingdom of Gathland.”

Hexilda nodded, perhaps happy with a chance to increase the size and prominence of her kingdom.

“The Emperor will grant her that territory you say?” Said Nero, arms folded. “Interesting this is the first I ‘ve heard of such a thing.”

“It is by the Emperor’s will that we the Legionary Council hold the emergency powers that allow us to grant that territory to Queen Hexilda.” Said Glazer. “I have an assignment for you as well my young prince.”

“Don’t call me young prince Glazer. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I’m no child!” Shouted Nero, slamming his fist against the table.

“Touchy like a child.” Quipped Hyperion.

Nero turned to Hyperion, his face unseen but the rage felt by all.

For half a moment Hyperion lost her composure before instantly tensing up, ready to fight. “Tis has been a long time since any were hurt by my words.”

Nero sighed, turning to Glazer. “I take it you’re using your emergency powers to assign me to this task?”

“Not in the slightest.” Said Glazer. “You are a prince after all. That being said you did say you wanted more say in things. This is my compromise.”

Nero leaned on the table. “It gets me out of the capital, and into danger. And without a rank of command me being there is useless to me.”

“You haven’t even heard what it is I would have you do my prince.” Glazer turned to General Zeal. “General Zeal and the 3rd Legion shall be dispatched to the Petty Kingdom of Ivenhoe, both to deal with the Shadow Coalition, as well as reinforce our borders against any potential assaults from the Bestia Horde, along with the Yuukoman Empire and Thakis. I doubt the Exalted Prince or the Great Pharess have any aims of hostility as of yet but the same cannot be said for those under them. Border and trade disputes between us have become more strenuous as of late. I also have no doubt the Shadow Coalition seeks to create conflict between our three powers, but that is where you come in Prince Nero.”

“You wish for me to deal with this Shadow Coalition?” Inquired Nero.

“I wish for general Zeal to deal with them, and for you to assist her.” Corrected Glazer.

“It is a conflict of interest for me to be assigned under Zeal.” Nero said blankly. “I shall go there and assist Zeal with my own personal forces. Starting with the formation of a 7th legion.”

“A 7th legion!?” Shot Zeal. “You would dare to even try? You have no such authority, nor the means to do so.”

“I agree with Zeal” Said Hexilda. “Where do you intend to gather the man-power and resources for such an endeavour?”

“I need not be on par with the rest of you.” Said Nero. “However, I shall be operating as your equal from now on. I will do this with or without your approval.”

Gaius shook his head. “You play a dangerous game young prince.”

Did Nero seek death? This was yet another overt challenge to the authority of the Legionary Council.

“Denied” Said Glazer coldly. “You may go to Ivenhoe and operate outside of the Legions if you wish, but I see no reason to just give you the rank of general when you haven’t even formed this army yet much less served in any meaningful military capacity.”

Nero sat there for a moment contemplating. “Very well. I will go to Ivenhoe with my forces and assist Zeal. However, I will be building up my 7th Legion, and you will grant me the rank of general when that time comes.”

“You aren’t really in a position to make demands of that magnitude.” Scoffed Glazer.

“Not yet” Said Nero softly. “But I suppose I don’t truly need your approval one way or the other. If I make a legion loyal to me, they will obey with or without rank.”

“Fair enough.” Glazer chuckled. “But now my prince, you get to enjoy the less glamorous parts of being on this council. Let us talk logistics.”
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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Slagar
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Slagar Lord of Disappointment, Witch King of Saltmar

Member Seen 5 mos ago

Caslan
City of Kel Trach
Ports of Kel Trach


Back at home, the week-long journey to Kel Trach had left Lavar and his party in poor spirits. One of Lavar Brav’s aids had journeyed out too far during a rest in a village near Kel Loch and was ambushed by Raptors who nested nearby, his remains scattered and half-devoured before the camp could even react. It was a sad state of affairs that despite all the bluster of the Coladdic’s famed roads, built by the dead, they lacked any and all means to defend these roads. Lavar even noted to his aid and servant Lila that the roads of Hilgas were as well managed as the Coladdic ruled all of Caslan, ‘a decaying and rotten thing built high and mighty in its prime, but laid abandoned to the march of time.’

When Lavar and Lila finally made their way back home, the mighty city of Kel Trach was a sight for sore eyes, the billowing smoke from one of the temples had just signaled a sacrifice had been made, mixed in with the busy sounds of city life. To meet Lavar there, on horseback and clothed in the old red garb of Orduin imperial might, was Tesner Uman. Tesner rode up with his own entourage which was mostly parts of his family, including his son and brother. Tesner gave a quick bow to his friend and dismounted to embrace his friend. Despite being a shrewd paper merchant, Lavar was always impressed with Tesner’s firm grip.

“I see you return earlier than usual, Lavar. When I heard of you returning, I was worried they had kicked you right out of the Kycer.”

“Ha! The uproar on that would have considerably ill indeed! No sadly, we met for only one session. Our overlord and ever watchful overwatch makes a mockery of such an institution by using it as his own personal speaking platform. I have much to prepare for, as Mel Coldfinger is coming to the city.”

Tesner looked surprised “Mel Coldfinger himself? That old lich barely ever leaves Hilgas. . .”

Lila interjected out of habit “Well, not technically, Mel is known to travel to Fesdan, and of course there was his journey out of. . .well . . .Oh. I am sorry, sir. I didn’t mean to sp--” Tesner was a little annoyed, but Lavar only gave a friendly pat on Lila’s back. “She is right. You and I have only known Mel to live in Hilgas, but in our most sacred histories, he is known to travel and make his way across Caslan. His view of time greatly differs from ours I think. Being an immortal lich and all.”

Tesner felt a shiver of discomfort with the word ‘lich’. He may have sworn himself to the Kerk’s gods, but the practice of necromancery still felt wrong to him, and he had ignored it mostly. Lavar continued “I must gather the entire clan to a meeting, and prepare for Mel’s arrival along with many others. You will join us, friend?”

Tesner smiled and nodded “Of course Lavar.”
____

Mel Coldfinger’s coming arrival to Kel Trach was cause for celebration for many, but concern for others. Lavar Brav called a meeting of the clan, which may as well have been a meeting of the entire city, to discuss the coming festivities. The clan bickered loudly and violently, as all Kerkian clans did, and eventually it was decided to let the local priesthood command the effort to prepare for Mel’s arrival. The merchants from far off lands who may have been in Kel Trach soon found the Kerks making their preparations, and the dock workers, normally Okan slaves who made their home in a slum enclave in the city, were abandoning their work to make sacrifices in the local temple before the Lich arrived. This was often done in emergency festivities such as these, otherwise the Okan would not have any opportunity to make their sacrifices to the gods due to being conscripted to help set up for the coming festivities.

Lavar and Tesner paid an absurd sum for the coming games and attraction, with Tesner and his people hiring out some popular performances. One was to be a mock battle between two Beurian clansmen in a faked and highly stereotyped gladiatorial battle, more comedic then dramatic, while for the calmer Kerks, a troupe of elves from the north would perform a popular play on Caslan known as The Fool and the Prince, a dramatization of the life of Gazhain and Dezhain who invaded the isle long ago, depicting Gazhain as a naive, arrogant idiot. Lavar also planned to open his library entirely to the guests, along with providing a massive amount of ale.

The first guests to arrive were Shov Coladdic alongside many important zupans and Kycer clergy who had joined him. His procession was priestly, but his attitude towards Lavar as the two met once again was sour. Shov had come early and was quick to only make small talk with Lavar, and immediately head towards the temple to perform the rituals of their faith. Lavar could guess that Shov was unhappy, and avoided him the best he could, as an upset Kerk could quickly turn violent if not left to their own devices. The next arrivals were the Geuderians, among them was Dylon Geuder and Pelkov Elkwood. Both Zupans embraced Lavar quite publicly when they met, but in private were quick to be more distant from him. Lavar expected this behavior from an ambitious creature like Dylon, whose public appearance he felt was more important. This was usually abnormal for the Kerks, but Dylon could pull it off quite well.

Yet of those to arrive before Mel did come by the most absurd means. A Okan fishing vessel docked in Kel Trach and three Kerks made their way into Kel Trach. Lavar was notified that a zupan came by ship, and went out to meet them, only to find Duman Hazel and his brother Jaskov Hazel drinking among the commoners. Lavar calmly came to greet the Hazels, but was instead embraced by the younger Kerk, his youthful expression was cheery.

“Lavar Brav! It's good to see you again. I had originally thought of not coming, but once word reached me of Mel’s intentions, I supposed me and my brother would at least enjoy the festivities!”

Lavar smiled as Duman and his brother chugged down the beer from wooden mugs. They may have been royalty to the common Kerk, but they looked more like ragged bandits. They both wore their armor, rusty breastplates which was covered in a dark green cloth. Another Hazel clansmen was with them, but he was already fast asleep nearby, having drunk himself into a stupor. Lavar found such behavior intolerable usually, but the Hazels were a young family, and were quite agreeable.

“I had hoped you would arrive. You were missed in the Kycer. I imagine your envoy has told you of what happened?”

“Aye. Pelkov mumbles so openly against me when I am not there.” Duman’s mood shifted suddenly, an anger in his eyes. “I am not surprised, but I am not here for festivities alone. I am to speak with Dylon soon, and get a taste of his fury.”

“You suspect he wants you to join the Kycer?”

“Yes, but I am not so certain. I am no priest.”

Lavar laughed “Neither is Dylon nor myself, yet here we are. Come, enjoy the festivities. We have much to do on this fine day.” Lavar led the Hazels through the street, the three talked like friends amongst the crowds of Kerks.
____

Mel’s arrival was quite dramatic, as a black shape of his procession moved alongside a magical mist which covered his group as they traveled, protecting them from the dangers of Caslan. Tesner watched from the ramparts of Kel Trach as the levitating lich came through the open gates, the magical mists disappearing as he appeared amongst the people. Tesner had never seen a Lich before, let alone an undead abomination, the floating mummified corpse wrapped in the decayed purple cloth of the Kycer’s highest clergy was unnerving to him. He turned to see Shov Coladdic and a procession of priests make their way through the crowd and bowed humbly before the Lich, who bowed in humility back. The ancient undead made its way to the temple in the city, and many followed.

Mel made a sacrifice to the god of knowledge, Melakos, before the temple and spoke to the crowd gathered at the foot of the temple itself. Mel’s vast cadre intermingled with the Kerks, a mixture of Bylamen guards, death knights, and undead which stood without motion. Mel preached of the need of knowledge, the will of the gods, and other typical things. It was an uninspired speech, as if the lich was in a hurry to leave, and was quick to allow Shov to take over as he made several long rituals to the point that even his fellow conservative priests became bored. The festivities continued as Mel was soon off towards the docks.

The planned festivities certainly had their effect as Lavar joined with the Hazels as they got a taste of Tesner’s planned bloodsport. Two Beurian clansmen comedically fought one another in a pretend duel, cracking jokes to the crowd in a makeshift arena. The crowd of humans and Landarric kerks were enjoying themselves, but the Geuderians got rowdy and some flooded onto the arena and began boasting loudly. Lavar was about to call guards in, but Hazel convinced him not and instead had the acting Beurians retreat from the field. Three sets of Kerkian clans of the Geuderians soon began to brawl, much to everyone’s entertainment, and much to Tesner’s horror. The viciousness in which the Kerks broke skulls and smashed each other with fists amused the crowd even more so, but eventually the normal play was allowed to continue in a more secure part of the city, as the Geuderians continued to lay down their grievances against one another.

Tesner was unhappy with such a state of affairs, but he was pleased when the Coladdic Kerks became amused by the play being performed by the elven troupe, although this was often interrupted by the scribes and Kerks who were always quick to point out their own histories. During one recess of the play, Tesner listened to a small fight breaking out between two Coladdic clergy over a dramatization of Gazhain’s recorded words, neither of the Kerks agreeing to what was said. Despite such incidents, Tesner was just glad the Kerks also decided to not turn the stage into a brawl.

However, of all the festivities, it was the opening of Lavar’s library that was perhaps the most popular attraction. Lavar was joined by the Hazel brothers as members of the scribes were soon settling down and reading from Orduin historical records, journals, and reports as if they were watching some grand play. Many Coladdic Kerks were also there, although of those Lavar was surprised to see was his servant Lila and a member of Mel’s entourage, the elderly scribe master Cragov Bystan. The elderly kerk, his white unkept beard was barely hidden beneath his absurdly rich robe of purple and green, as he and Lila were looking over an old manuscript and deep in conversation.

Lavar came over as Lila snapped back to attention and quickly tried to excuse herself “I-I am sorry, sir, I was just. . .Just, ummm. . .”

“No need to apologize, Lila. I know who this is. It is an honor Cragov.” Lavar humbly bowed to the elder who gave a bow back. “The honor is mine, Zupan Brav. Zupan Hazel. We were just discussing the older district borders of Governor Antonius, and his absurd proposals.”

Lila was a little embarrassed, she had been under Cragov’s partial tutelage before her poor parents had sold her to Lavar due to their outstanding debts. However, neither Lavar nor Cragov thought of her as a servile, nor treated her as such. Lavar sat down at a table of the library as he look to the Okan servant “Lila, why don’t you get some of the finer vodka from our kitchens. A proper drink of the high society of us Kerks, aye?”

Lila went off and obeyed as Duman and Jaskov Hazel sat next to the group. “You know each other I presume.”

“I know all of my scribes, both successes and failures. Although in the young Lila’s case, it was abnormal. It is always sad to lose such a studious scribe to such a sordid state of affairs. Poverty is quite a bane to many young and intelligent minds, as any scribe can tell you.”

“Hear hear.” Jaskov noted “So what is the leader of scribes doing here anyhow?”

“I will be joining Mel Coldfinger on this journey, of course.”

The Hazels looked surprised, but Lavar seemed rather disappointed. “I see. Who will take over the scribes while you are gone?”

“Several members will decide, a Coladdic I think most likely. Shov had been pushy on that issue entirely.”

“You are old, master scribe. You must certainly think that this journey Mel will drag you along will be beyond difficult for you.” Duman noted.

“It will be, but I am prepared in both body and soul to serve the will of Melakos. In his thrall, I serve the pursuit of knowledge to my dying days, just as Mel and many other Liches have done. I do not intend lichcraft, but I will do as Melakos commands me, for the sake of knowledge. What is not written in history will be forever lost, young Hazels.” Cragov coughed, but looked happier when Lila returned and served the group mugs of vodka. Almost without thinking, Lila looked back down at the old manuscripts and maps as Cragov leaned in.

The happy little moment as the group talked was soon interrupted by a loud crash. Two Coladdic scribes were scrambling about, as two Elkwood clansmen entered the library, partly drunk. The two clansmen, yelling in slurred language at one another, began to knock over several of the visitors to the library. Lavar shot up, yelling at the two to leave, but the two Elkwood clansmen only crept closer. One of the Elkwoods took one look at Lila, and demanded of her to grab them drink. She stood still, and the Elkwood clansman didn’t understand and yelled more harshly at her again. When the two aggressively began to close in, Duman and Jaskov stood in front of the group and silently looked at the Elkwoods. There was a silence as Lavar tried to calm everyone down. This failed as one of the Elkwood got a good shot and punched Duman.

Duman’s head went to the side and slowly returned back around to look at the Elkwoods, and without thinking and with warrior’s speed he grabbed the Elkwood clansman by the throat and threw him to the ground. Duman began to punch into the Kerk over and over again, hitting his face with increasing brutality as his brother grappled the other. Lavar was mortified as blood began to spill from the Elkwood’s head as he intervened, trying to get Duman up. The Kerk had not calmed, but Lavar stood in his path. Lavar and the group looked down at the body, the face mangled and bloody. The Elkwood kerk convulsed for a moment, coughed, and then slumped down. Only realizing what he had done after his rage left him did Duman and Jaskov quickly exit the library, as others looked on.

“Such is the way of the Kerks.” Cragov quoted from an old saying.
_____

Mel was on the docks, as if awaiting to already leave when Shov Coladdic came up to him, his face shallow and grim. From beneath the waves, there was a sudden appearance of an ancient ship coming out from beneath the water. It was a massive, coral covered thing which broke the water’s surface and docked in the harbor. The ancient wreck then began to repair itself, wood from the water creaked and added itself onto the ship and water spilled from it. It was once the ship Mel had used to travel to Caslan, and it was truly ancient, but was big enough to contain a huge crew and bigger library. Shov was unimpressed, the casual use of magic and the size of the ship did not matter to him much, and he personally seethed as his eternal patriarch began to summon shambling Drowned Lyches to make the final repairs of the ship. Of the necromancers and their pupils who watched, they were in the complete thrall of what they saw, and how little energy Mel had used to summon such a ship to his will.

“Something bothers you, Shov Coldfinger.” Mel began, looking over his vessel.

“You are open with me, so I shall be open with you, my eternal patriarch. Why have you cursed me, your own flesh and blood. Our enemy circles us like wolves, and you abandon us to go on some trip to entertain yourself. You leave some wretched niece of mine in charge? Your personal librarian? Am I a joke to you, oh my eternal patriarch, avatar of Melakos, Br--”

“Your passive aggression does not amuse me, Shov, I’d only appreciate your honesty.” Mel was used to the fury of fellow Kerks, nor surprised by Shov’s fury. “The wolves who circle you are little more than an upstart Geuder and his damaged friends, and you are of an age which should be wisened to the politics of the Kycer to keep them in line. I will be with Naya at all times, keeping me informed and versed in the schemes here. I will not make the same mistakes as last time. You will obey the directives I set before you and keep the Kycer stable in my stead. However, my distrust is towards the nature of the Kycer, not towards you alone.”

Shov sighed and took in the lich’s words. The group was soon being passed by a large number of scribes and necromancers, all hand picked by the ancient lich. Mel would be the last to board as all the zupans and members of the Kycer came to see him shove off from Kel Trach’s port. As Mel levitated onto the ship, joined to his side by his ancient bodyguard Granchkov. Mel looked down on Shov who bowed humbly to the Lich, and the Lich bowed back. After much fair and bluster, the ancient black ship was soon beyond the port, and Mel began his journey to the mainland. Shov remained on the docks, looking out at the sea, depressed as he watched the ship disappear beyond his sight.
_____

“I want their heads.” Pelkov seethed under his breath, looking over the body of one of his dead nephews. Pelkov Elkwood and Dylon Geuder were in the basement of Kel Trach’s temple, as Lavar and son Torpov Brav were overseeing the body of the dead Elkwood, being covered for the return home for burial. Normally, such a minor member would have been buried in little more then a shallow grave or thrown into a mass pit in a tomb city, but Pelkov was quick to declare his nephew another martyr in the ancient feud between him and the Hazels. Lavar tried to calm down the Elkwood zupan.

“Duman Hazel was enraged, and defend me and my honor beyond what he needed to. I know you seek vengeance, but I would prefer it not to be done in my lands.”

Pelkov pounded the table where his dead nephew was on, uncaring of the work he was disrupting with the priests. “You have much to say, you wretched snake! The Hazels kill one of my clansmen in your city, and you defend these murderers! I should have both your heads one way or another.”

“Pelkov, please.” Dylon interrupted “What the Hazels did was wrong, but we can be at least civil. More than once you and I have accidentally killed in a fit of rage and fury. I will sp--”

“No more words, Dylon. No more words.” Pelkov shouted “The Hazels have lived long enough in my ancestor’s lands as the bandits they are, and this is more than enough proof to demand their extermination. I will gather my armies and I wi--”

“And you will die, like last time Pelkov.” Dylon shouted back in authority. Pelkov held his tongue, because what Dylon said was true. More than enough times the Hazels had beaten him in campaign and the field of battle, each defeat more costly than the last. The idea of facing down Hazel clansmen did not sit well with the angry Zupan. Duman had personally defeated Pelkov on the coast years ago, using Okan slingers and skirmishers to swarm his flanks in what he thought would have been a one sided slaughter, and that Duman had some mysterious benefactor amongst the undead who gifted him and his clan some magical benevolence. Pelkov sighed and looked to Dylon “Then join me, Zupan Geuder. They live on your lands as well.”

“They do, but the Hazels are more useful to us alive then dead. They prove something which I haven’t failed to notice. Our armies are trash, our people rely on slaves to fight for us, and the Hazels are competent. That kind of clan is useful to my. . .” Dylon caught himself and looked at Lavar and smiled. “Useful to my faction. He is quite popular amongst the Okan, and their vote has proven to be influential before.”

“Quite.” Lavar raised an eyebrow. As the three talked, a Okan Ghilman came through the door, rushing to Torpov and whispering something in his ear. He nodded and went off. “The Hazels are here, looking for you Dylon.”

The Zupans went out, much to Lavar’s annoyance. He had told the Hazel brothers to flee the city, but instead the two brothers were outside the temple, meandering awkwardly at the foot of the temple. Duman looked up at Dylon Geuder as he and his cadre came down. When the group reached the Hazels, Pelkov drew his sword, which prompted Duman and Jaskov to draw their flat blades. The situation turned worse when several Brav clansmen came over, drawing their own weapons. The standoff was tense, but Dylon spoke quickly. “Enough! We are not here as enemies. Please, all of you, put down your weapons and let us reason with one another.”

“I am not letting this murderer go, Dylon. . .”

Lavar spoke up “Harm them in my city, Pelkov, and you will be a murderer yourself.” Pelkov shot a deadly glance at Lavar, but reluctantly sheathed his blade. Jaskov was the last to put his weapon down as Dylon practically dragged the two inside the temple.

Pelkov felt empowered as he, Duman Hazel, and Dylon Geuder went into a temple office to discuss. Dylon yelled and shouted over Duman as he tried to defend his actions, with Dylon practically threatening to abandon the Hazels to the Elkwoods. The Hazels were partly defended by the Geuders, although that relationship was often strained at best, and the threats by Dylon made the Zupan feel meek. Dylon then levied a compromise between the two, demanding that Duman’s clan pay for reparations for the death, and to leave each other at peace. Duman was shocked when Pelkov agreed to such a thing, mocking Duman that ‘If he cannot pay in coin, he can pay in friends’. This was a rather subtle nod to Pelkov’s intentions, planning to take the free Okan who lived amongst the Hazels as tribute. As Pelkov left the two alone, Duman was shocked as Dylon’s mood changed and shifted, as he began to chuckle and laugh outside of Pelkov’s range of hearing.

“Holy shit, the bed fellow I make. Come boy, sit down.” Dylon looked around for something to drink and Duman slowly sat down, a bit confused. “You are angry, are you not, Dylon?”

“Disappointed, not angry. Your antics are unwanted and dangerous, but I’d prefer your company to Pelkovs. I need his money, not his ideals.” Dylon found what he was looking for, Vodka hidden by some priest which he quickly took a swig of. “Now, for the real conversation.”

“Real. Conversation?”

“Aye, are you deaf?” Dylon’s mood changed suddenly again to a sneer. He poured Duman a drink and motioned for him to drink. “Taste only slightly better then Lich’s cursed blood, mind you. I can forgive this foolery, but on some conditions. You have slacked in wanting to become a Minor Priest, which starting now, you will put forward to join the assembly.”

Duman looked concerned and shaken, but nodded. It was a rare opportunity to be forgiven by his ally, as Dylon took another swig. Duman had a realization and looked up at him “And of you? Getting into minor priesthood is no easy feat. I would be stealing from your voting block I take it.”

“You would normally, but the way the Kycer works is considerably estranged. You will be up against some Coladdic nobody, which I plan to fund heavily against. You are right however, you would be dipping into our normal votes. However, this is abnormal.”

“Abnormal?”

“Aye. I will be looking to run for Head as Assembly this coming election. Everyone else knows amongst my allies, so you are the last to find out. I hope you are in on this affair, otherwise this is the last time we meet as friends.”

Duman sighed and nodded, the one thing he tried to avoid now was slapped into his face. He disliked the priesthood, and disliked the rituals they conducted. He found it boring and too far fetched from his own beliefs. Dylon could see Duman was unsure, and it disappointed him considerably. Duman was a capable leader, but lacked any ambition. Yet before they left, Duman spoke up.

“My clan is quite poor, and any run to become apart of the Kycer will be expensive. Pelkov’s reparations will be brutal on me, and my clan, and I fear I will truly have to trade those who call me friend for coin. That would hurt my chances overall, and all of us as well.”

“Explain.”

“Dylon, we align with the Okan for our vote, and although many slaves in Pelkov’s lands vote for you, they do not vote for Pelkov. Besides, a slave’s vote is only half of a commoner’s. If Pelkov is grievous towards me, he will lessen my chances. . .and yours of victory.”

Dylon grunted and then smiled. “I see. I will pay a share to pay for your. . .reparations to Pelkov. Now, return home and prepare for my instructions. This year is going to be a very long year. For all of us.”

Duman left Dylon alone in the room as the Geuder Patriarch felt a tinge of rage. He hoped all the effort he put into this young and fool clan would be worth all the effort. Sour days were ahead for Caslan.
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Crusader Lord A professional, anxiety-riddled, part-time worker

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The Kingdom of Thakis


Throne Room, Pharess' Palace







The grand throne room lied open and vast, its style 'modern' yet yet regal by Thakisian standards. Yet the foundations of it had been built long before she took the throne, and yet even by her time it had seen a great many renovations since she again took the throne of a nation as its ruler. Indeed it had been long shaped by the old Thakisian Royalty, the family that had once held the throne and worked alongside the Senate of the nation. Whilst not similar to the open temple-like structure of her old throne room, the very build of this throne room had been made to her specifications and magnificent size demands as one fit for Thakis itself to reflect its history and peoples: Stone and marble enchanted and carved and made by the best artisans of Thakis' lands both ancient and current to make the walls and floors, the finest woods throughout the land to be used for internal structures and form the outer artistic 'casing' for mighty stone pillars hidden within that all held up the ceiling proper, extravagant sets of golden curtains that closed at a gesture, a grand couch-like throne to lie or sit upon in all of its comfort, braziers and lamps and symbols of the gods of her time scattered about from an ancient age long gone dotted about symmetrically, and even old reds rugs that has been recycled from those who were about prior to her rule that bore a certain Orduin-ish style to them even when paired well with newer ones.

It was centuries and more of history, of art, of Thakis itself that had taken shape to create that throne room. As a scholar, she could not and would not forget that. It was her pride as a ruler that pushed her to create it. Even as a mage she could not help but add a magical touch to the work as well, tied to her own skills and roots.

Though that building she once ruled from in ancient times had been restored proper, but she had preferred to choose her abode to be in this place in order to make things convenient for her living subjects. Yet every time she saw the space, and every time she sat upon the throne itself, she could recall that day she first entered into the palace with such clarity. Almost like it was yesterday...



Tapestries had long lined those stone-crafted walls, with colors of royal purples and crimson reds and golds and silvers all aplenty upon them. Servants had been donned in simple red attire to designate them had once walked those halls serving the royal family, well-trimmed and fitted, and even the further attendants and cooks and so forth had been adorned in red servile attire befitting a royal family indeed. Well, one of that era a few centuries ago at least. Shining sets of armor sat upon the walls, weapons hung in a symbolic crossed arrangement like an "X", cabinets displaying ancient treasures and imported valuables from afar, and even family portraits hung upon the walls.

Such an old style...she was glad to have renovated the palace extensively since. Yet even with the aristocratic airs, the grand entrance, the mighty it didn't feel 'truly' Thakisian. It was as if the palace of old was distant, foreign in design, and made for those who sat above the land and away from. This rather than sitting upon a great throne that felt as if it was rooted in the land, in the people, in the nobility, nor did it feel as if it stood as the central pillar of the very nation itself. Perhaps it was simply her own antiquated ideas, scholarly thoughts, and so forth that had shaped such a perception of it back then and even through now, and yet she had to be true to her observations and feelings about it all the same.

Yes, the old Thakisian Royalty had been decadent, backed by the Orduin Empire and virtually put on the throne to ensure alongside the old Senate of Thakis that the land was run smoothly. To ensure that resources that got back to the Orduin Empire. To ensure the peoples of the land were kept orderly and civilized. According to the old records this had been their charge and kept up well enough for many generations, imitating the Orduin structure...both in its advantages and eventual faults.

Oh how the corruption had run deep by the time she stepped in. Oh how deep the cruelties exerted, with Senators and the royals hand in hand hiding themselves away in the seclusion of high walls and isolation. They had left the fighting to the military, to the noble children tossed into positions even if they had not the skills, to a few old stubborn veterans who clung to their old titles and ways so closely, and in the least amount by far the few commoners that had rise in rank only to be shot down bye those of a 'higher blood' who did not act properly in line with the burden of those bloodlines and duties held to them. They had been happy to send orders given to military leaders in the field, let the commoners and lesser nobility fight. They held out looking for Orduin to save them when times got tough for them in turn eventually, and as the war had approached their grounds they were trapped in prisons of their own design.

It was...poetic in a sense. Very few had fled for shelter away in foreign lands, only to die along the way for the most part, fall to vice and their own weaknesses in some vain attempt to live the same lives or regain 'what was lost', or in the end linger on distant soils simply to preserve themselves in some vague and most meager of senses at best.

The armies had stormed inside as she led them with the other rulers of old, and she in particular set many of the soldiers within aside...akin to a child putting up their messy sibling's toys. Men donning armor polished like plates, royal magi attempting to combat someone far out of their league, and servants simply hiding for the sake of their own lives, and desperate attendants trying to flee with riches in their arms, among others, littered the halls and rooms. Many were slain for resistance or other crimes, others surrendered and were given mercy, and yet the most shocking was that a small handful of the very royal guards themselves opened the doors to the throne room for the leaders of the enemy army. Even they had been among those disaffected, and such was only tragedy to see at best. Still she and the others had all come that day to subjugate the throne, for that was their right and imperative and very nature at heart.

Ah, even the executions after had been something of note afterward. Fattened nobles that burnt on the pyres of execution like fuel for great braziers, stinking for days until finally consumed in the flames. Cocky fools who were torn asunder by being tied to several beasts, all for their crimes of abandoning their people. Ancient justice was cruel, perhaps, but all the same order was needed for a land as scarred as this one. It was hard to think the kingdom of old had become a land of war, of death, and of scars cut deeper into the world than any mortal invention or magic could hope to.

Yet they...yes, they had brought order once more. Order, stability, and safety for the people to thrive. Without them they were not rulers, without the people there was no nation to guide to greatness! Such was her personal outlook on it all at least...and the gods had returned to them once more in turn to help bless the land with the gods of the people.
Pharess' Recollections/Memories


"My Pharess."

Sitting upon the throne itself already, the Pharess snapped out of her apparent daydreaming and looked to her right side at the sudden source of the voice. A tall Caeldoni, female, with six intact arms, who knelt before her at the throne very comfortably. This was because the height of the throne room eclipsed even that people's raw size. Upon the female's frame was donned shimmering golden armor, with six mighty blades of the finest Thakisian metal sat sheathed at her sides, and her musculature was both lean and yet more than mighty enough to heft all of those blades with such an ease it was as if they were lighter than air. Even so her still rather curvy and shapely body and shoulder-length-cut white hair were radiant, beautiful in their own ways and forms and manners even in the Pharess' eyes....had ever been so since.

This was the head of the Royal Guard itself, whose name evoked the pride of her peoples' name for themselves: Caeldari. Her very name meant "Greatest Warrior", just as the name of her people meant "Greatest Warriors". A fitting thing for one of Caeldari's status, no? Despite her beauty, she was a warrior worth a whole Taimla unit on her own in battle. That wasn't just saying something either, or boasting up her reputation to ridiculous heights. It was a raw testament to her raw skill and capabilities at the very least.

"My thanks...I find it hard to not reminisce in this room, one so very different from those centuries ago. But let us not waste time," the undead queen said, giving a gesture of her hand and a sigh before having the arches of golden curtains be pulled together to give her and Caeldari privacy before continuing, "Now rise to your feet so we may speak business. I take it you received the reports from General Sylvan?"

"Indeed," Caeldari said, standing up and putting her three sets of hands staunchly to her sides as she stood at attention, though even so her shoulders seemed to relax a bit as she listened to the Pharess' voice, a soft smile almost creeping up on the sides of the Caeldoni woman's mouth listening to her before she lightly coughed to get her professional composure back and speak further, "His reports speak of the usual centaur movements and movement of border guards and forces, and to my mind he seems to be keeping things in well order. Local cities and garrisons have been prepared for next potential incursions, and their usual doubling of temporary levy training and increased local garrison sizes have held well. However, his request for doubling garrison training and patrols is...worrisome, given the rumors of his men and especially the Hercuis ones considering him 'a slave driver' as I have heard it said about his training regiments."

The Pharess felt an imaginary headache bubble up, as if memories of ones during her time among the living were haunting her for a moment. Even so she simply sighed and shook her head slightly.

"He does not need to drive his men and the garrisons into the ground. The doubled yearly levy practices have been fine, and the 50% increased garrisons were approved because the resources were manageable for it in those provinces. Yet I fear his feelings about the Zentaeri League, as deep-seated as they are, will drive him to overstep his bounds one day...and whether his Hercuis troops again or others otherwise there will be many who pay the price in the end."

"...Indeed."

Caeldari seemed to pause for a moment before replying once more, though did not break the professional stance and look she took on. The General had a rather bad history centaurs, that was nothing of surprise to anyone in the Royal Council or in the military chain of command. As talented as the elf was, as skilled as he became, as loyal as he even now was to Thakis with a zeal and a true fervor, he wasn't the same after his son's death and desecration at the hands of centaurs now living in the League.

"His wounds run deep, but he refuses to let me assist his mind somewhat with magic. However, he hasn't gone off of the deep end yet and has been kept from the brink. His use is necessary, his skills are great, but if I must protect my people by replacing him I will make that clear as the emptiest skies and the best of Karynian glass can. So truth be told, I more am speaking and pondering over a 'what if' at best right now rather than a current problem.

In line with this, and returning to reality, I will later today look over the reports more properly myself to ascertain the situation before calling you to my chambers to discuss once more. If such an increase in training and practice drills is indeed necessary, I will perhaps send him a response that he must hand training over to his lower officers if he desires to double their practice and drills. This might mitigate the issue somewhat, at least to make a potential assumption about the effects of that."


"It will be done as you request then, your Grace. I shall save the rest of my thoughts for the later time as well, as my late arrival has cut short our time together..."

The Pharess paused...then after lightly shaking her head leaned up and gestured for Caeldari to learn down to her face-to-face. The undead queen let her fingers gently caress the chin of the Caeldoni woman, and the smallest of smiles came to her face.

"Do not worry Caeldari, my loyal guard, there shall be plenty of time later to talk of this business and speak of many things more. Now go, perform your duties as is fitting of your station. I shall go about my business here for the day in the meantime~"

For a moment the guardswoman seemed to ever so lightly blush at the soft, gentle teasing, and yet the reassurance it gave her seemed to put her heart at ease again somewhat. Still, as the Pharess hand fell back down and the warrior stood back up Caeldari gave a deep bow before swiftly exiting the throne room from the hidden back entrance. Her pace was somewhat quicker than normal, though as she passed through she would run into the two equally as well-armed-and-dressed Royal Guards, one a Dracis and the other a human woman, stationed to protect the other side of that entrance.

"Hey Captain, can I ask ya' something?" the familiarly jovial yet exasperating voice of a certain Dracis Royal Guard called out, albeit almost teasingly as she greeted her captain with a one-handed salute and toothy grin.

"Don't disturb the Captain, Akari! She has business to attend to-!" the human woman began to say, berating her comrade before Caeldari held up a single hand and the human fell into a sudden silence once more.

"Akari, if this question is about myself and the Pharess I must remind you to hold your tongue. All other questions are acceptable. Might I remind you to not prod into mere rumors passed sadly along within the Royal Guard's very own-"

"So did you two finally choose names for your future young yet or what?"

"..."

"..."

"Akari, you will now report to Commander Yui this evening for a one-on-one all-night training session. Full wartime gear. You say anything like that again after this, and I will personally drill you for three days straight until you pass out on your feet from exhaustion, then have the mages revive you, and then drill you three more days until you collapse again."

"...So what I'm hearing is that you are struggling for any 'good' names at the very least. Look, I have a few names I've heard suggested if you need ide-"

"AKARIII!!!"

Meanwhile, a soft but knowing chuckle could almost be heard on the other side of the wall. Well, if there wasn't the very brief shouting going on anyways.
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@Crusader Lord
A Letter Received at the Thakis Border.

To the Honorable Pharess of Thakis

May the light of The One touch your heart, and may your own gods grant you comfort. I Marcus Ordaius “He Who Seeks” the head of the Church of the One, would like to humbly request you allow the knights of the Truelight Order to enter your territory. Pilgrims making their way through the lands of the Bestia Horde to and from Thakis are in need of protection from beastmen, bandits, slavers, and other such threats, and I felt an organization not affiliated with the Legionary Council would be more palatable than an Accord Legion serving as guards. Likewise, the Accord Generals would not allow Thakis forces to enter the territory they believe to be theirs by right on account of it belonging to the former Free Emirates. Truelight Order Grandmaster Lucius has already been informed, and is agreeable to the plan. This will not be a particularly large force, but more so multiple moderately sized ones that were going to make the pilgrimage themselves anyways. I understand you have been reinforcing your borders recently and would hate for any misunderstandings to occur on either side. I am a gambler you see, it is my weakness as all living things (and undead) have at least one. I am willing to bet my money that a few words from you can make this whole process infinitely easier not only for the faithful of the Accord, but those living in Thakis as well. I await your response; hopeful for a compromise.

Marcus Ordaius, “He Who Seeks”
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The Bestia Horde
High Chiefdom of Bestia
Castle Dire




Auguba took a large sip of Khudarian wine, savoring every moment of flavor. As soon as the last parcel of wine left the goblet his slaves immediately moved to refill it, without a single gesture or order leaving his mouth.



If that was not proof of dominance and strength what was? And yet Auguba knew that many of his fellow kinsmen, the great Beastmen, would view this as weakness. As if fine wine, a luxurious chamber, and loyal slaves was something to be ashamed of. Truly they were envious, dimwitted animals by every margin. If they were smart they would feign friendship and acceptance, before killing him while he lay drunk.

With this in mind Auguba glanced at the door to the outer chamber, where his so-called loyalist all slept drunk and fatigued from last night’s feast. He needed to get them hooked on this good life, enough where they would do anything to remain in his good graces. Yet there was also the danger of them deciding they liked this life enough to take it from him, make it their own. Which was why he never slept in the same room as any who wasn’t a slave of his. That and Auguba believed he was above the barbarity of sleeping in a public chamber amongst the stanke and debauchery of his fellows.

Auguba was a High-Chieftain after all.

“Sire!” Screeched a decrepit beastman, scurrying towards him. “What is your will?”

Auguba finished another goblet of Khudarian wine. Once more it was refilled. “Awaken this lot, Bobogi!”

Bobogi kneeled “At once sire!”

Bobogi grabbed a large stick and began poking and even hitting the sleeping occupants. “Up! Up you animals! Party is over, it's a new day! Get up!”

At once the snarls and insults began, his guests clearly unhappy at the sudden disturbance of their until now peaceful slumber.

From another private room that had beads and string rather than a real door, emerged a she-beast who examined the commotion with little amusement. She imminently walked to Auguba.

“Witch” Spoke Auguba. “I trust the festivities were to your liking as always.”

“I suppose they were.” Said Xandla, a Malum-Satyri/beastman halfblood with some interesting physical features from her long beastmen heritage. “I do prefer the company of my slaves over your guests. Speaking of which.”

Xandla snapped her fingers and three slaves emerged from her chambers. Well two slaves and her apprentice, but the girl was basically a slave with extra steps in Auguba’s eyes.

The other two slaves were both young men, one a human and the other a kerk. Between the two boys was the so-called apprentice, a human as well. Twiddling her fingers in worry.


Xandla handed a small sack to the girl. “Take this to the altar and prepare it, I shall be making another sacrifice today.”

“Yes master” said the girl with a bow.

Xandla looked to the Kerk. “Go with her.”

The kerk slave bowed his head and walked off with the apprentice; eyeing the girl with some vague expression of annoyance.

Keeping kerks as slaves was a near impossible feat. Auguba could only hope that Xandla knew what she was doing.

Auguba took another deep sip of his Khudarian wine and shouted. “Bring me my horde captains!”

He moved to his throne that stood at the forefront of the feasthall. Another slave refilled his coblet.

Xandla shooed her human slave boy away and stood by Auguba’s side, much to the irritation of Bobogi, who took his position at Auguba’s other shoulder.

Suddenly a figure jumped down from the rafters, landing elegantly on the throne’s head.

“Yes Auguba?” Question Cito, the Impius-Vaala, and one of Auguba's horde captains.


“Off my throne.” Said Auguba bluntly. “It was expensive.”

“No fun.” replied Cito, cartwheeling off the chair and onto the space in front of Auguba.

Behind Cito stood 3 other figures. The other Horde Captains.

Klepper the gnoll.

Gorag the beastman.

Amberall the Malum-Satyri.


Horde Captain Revain was nowhere in site. As per usual, the man must have not deemed it worth his time.

Auguba took yet another sip of his Khudarian wine. “My compatriots, I’m sure you have all indulged in the pleasures I have to offer.”

Amberall’s face lit up with a big smile and nodded. “Indeed your greatness. The food and wine was tantalizing to the tongue, the music heart pounding, the company most worthy, and the slaves easy on the eyes.”

She must have been up all night rehearsing that.

“I agree.” Spoke Gorag, the large beastmen tapping his claws upon his blade. “However, I feel that one thing was missing.”

Oh here we go.

“DEATH!” Gorag boomed, all others in the room jumping or staring in unease.

“Death indeed.” Cackled a clapping Cito. Auguba could never get a read on her. The Vaala freak.

“My lord.” Klepper managed to get out. “Is there any work that needs doing?”

Auguba took another sip of wine and nodded at Bobogi; who pulled out some ragged scroll and began reading.

“As of now collecting tributes from the elven blood clans to the north is all that remains to be done until next season’s collection”

“Well then my lord.” Interrupted Cito with a devilish smile on her face. “May we have permission to raid southward? Pretty please? I’ve been soooo bored lately.”

Auguba took another sip of wine this time unamused. Again? Raid the Valanor Accord again? These guys had no taste.

“Do as you please.” Said a bored Auguba. “But don’t blame me if something goes wrong. I’m not assembling a great horde for your whims, only my own.”

With a gitty laugh Cito and the other captains left to prepare their warbands.

Xandla and her remaining slave returned to her chambers to gather ingredients or some such.

Auguba returned to his chambers as well, to sit upon his balcony and watch as his soldiers scurry about like ants. Bobogi followed him and began speaking of political matters.

“Warchief Jukon speaks of your weakness my lord.” Said Bobogi. “He believes you to be a milk-drinker. A piss-a-bed scum of the lowest sort.”

“Thank you Bobogi, I get the point.” Auguba said, trying to get his servant to shut up.

“He says you are nothing sire! Not better than a human he calls you! Fat, lazy, and weak hearted on all fronts!”

“That is enough Bobogi!” Auguba raised his voice. “You may take your leave.”

“Y-yes sire” said Bobogi, whittling out of the chamber. Auguba wondered if Bobogi was just dense or if those were his own thoughts given words. The little bastard.

Auguba contemplated the Jukon situation.

Warcheif Jukon was one of the many savages out there jealous of all Auguba had obtained. Him and his whole bloody herd of axe-dragging animals; who felt they should rule just because they figured out how to attack defenseless farmers and know the best way to kill a man slowly while only having just figured out basic concepts such as clothes and baths.

Uncultured swine.

Auguba went to take a sip of wine but found his lips dry. What was the meaning of this? He turned to his slaves who frowned, the women shaking their heads as if to tell him no.

“We have ran out of Khudarian wine my lord.” said a slave girl with a frown.

Auguba was silent.

“Shall I fetch you another brand?” Asked a different slave near the chamber entrance.

No more Khudarian wine? NO MORE KHUDARIAN WINE!? Was Auguba not a great high chieftain? Was Auguba not the master of these lands, of these halls? Yet he was powerless in the face of an empty goblet.

This was an outrage! This could not be allowed to stand!

Suddenly an epiphany came over Auguba. Yes this was perfect. This was exactly what he needed. The inspiration for greatness and the means to deal with Jakon and any others who dared to defy the canvas of Auguba’s majesty.

Auguba began laughing out loud, causing the slave girls around him to join him nervously.

“Bobogi!” Auguba shouted, continuing his laughter. “Bobogi come here now!”

“You called sire!?” Asked a worried Bobogi, scurrying into the chamber.

Auguba held out his goblet, pointing at his fellow beastman. “Bring me Revain at once Bobogi.”

Auguba turned to a slave girl. “And yes, a new brand of wine will do. How about an Itillia raspberry.”

“As you command” Said the slave girl.

Auguba stood up and walked to his balcony. “I have changed my mind!”

Auguba’s captains, soldiers, and slaves looked up from the yard below, ceasing their activities.

“Call upon all the warchiefs! For we shall commence a grand raid of the south! The true south! For too long long we have wasted time on Thakis, Valanor, and the Duchy of East Orduin! I seek greater prizes in lands untouched!”

The slave girl with the Itillia Raspberry returned in a timely manner and filled his goblet. He took a big sip of it and held the girl with his free arm.

“We shall amass a great fleet and raid Caslan, Xodia, Nagintyar, Basmarra, even the bugs will quake before us!”

Auguba’s horde began to cheer and howl in animalistic delight.

Auguba raised his goblet high above his head in a almost godly manner, letting out a booming roar. “But most importantly we shall finally raid the great lands of Khudara!”

The howls of the horde were loud, the cheers of bloodlust and possibility mixed with the cries of excitement and eagerness. All eyes were on Auguba. It was moments like this that Auguba adored the most; the feeling of dominance that few of his fellows could truly understand. Fear can only get you so far. It is love that truly makes an army dangerous. And this army would love Auguba by the raids end. He just needed a fleet first.

However even this was but a secondary goal.

One way or another Auguba would have that damn Khudarian wine.
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Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by OddlyParanoid
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OddlyParanoid New to the site so be gentle. UwU

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Former Imperial Capital
Inside the Imperial Palace


POV: Vae



As the two sisters and their band of warriors made their way through the palace Vae had to admit she was pleased with herself, considerably so.

While yes it was her father who had provided the opportunity for their host to breach the city, it had been her quick thinking and knowledge of the Duchy’s tactics that allowed them to so quickly enter the palace.

Now here she was enjoying the sights within, roaming about with her warband as they saw fit. Vae’s stride could be liken to that of large night cat, carful with every step and yet on the prowl all the same.



She walked with purpose at the head of their party, each of them bearing the marks of the Shiverbone tribe, the mark of her kinsmen.

Not that she had much of a Warband to speak of, as even with all her skills her father still saw fit to once again give primary command of the Shiverbone warriors to Urikor.

‘Does he not find me worthy? Impossible’ being born with a similar mind for politics as her father, she knew him well, more importantly she knew that he knew she was one of his greatest assets.

'And perhaps one of his greatest threats’ a small traitorous voice said in the far corners of her mind.

“Hahahaha! Come fellows! There is yet more of this castle to explore! And perhaps even more enemies to vanquish!” Brikeasil screamed, heartily and without remorse.

If Vae’s movements could be equated to that of a feline, than her older sister’s were certainly that of a great bear or lion. Power and strength with the promise of speed to match.

Of Ralof’s three daughters there wasn’t a doubt in Vae’s mind which of them had the greatest battle prowess.



“Sister what say you!? Shall we venture onward in search of lost and forgotten riches?”

Vae smiled a little despite herself, Brikeasil might’ve been the strongest yes, however she was also the least ambitious of the whole family much to her father’s dismay.

It was a great comfort to Vae however as she was able to truly utilize her abilities when she worked alongside her older sister, without fear of their time together devolving into posturing and belittlement.

It was then that she took notice of a nearby room, it was adorned with a great many maps of Ishtar as well as books of strategy and tactics. A war room Vae thought.

“I’m afraid I’ll have to decline my dear elder sister, something else has caught my interest.”

Brikeasil only gave a light shrug clearly undaunted by her sisters refusal.

“Go with caution beloved sister, I shall reconvene with you later"

“Of course, just remember that father wishes for us all to meet with him by day’s end.”

And with that Brikeasil was off, the Shiverbone warriors in toe, moving onward to explore deeper into the castle.

Vae crept into the war room, taking notice of the little pieces scattered throughout the map which laid upon the table. Used to convey troop movements and locations no doubt.

Her eyes roamed northward towards the Valanor Accord and her mind immediately started milling over the strategies before her, ‘would she have gone with such a plan?’ She caught herself asking.

Still riding the high of her latest victories she pondered on possibilities for the future as twinkle of light could be seen in her eye…

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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Slagar
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Slagar Lord of Disappointment, Witch King of Saltmar

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Caslan
Nasklan-Fesdan Feud


With all the trouble in the port of Kel Trach resolved, the zupans and their compatriots began to return back home, with a sudden and dark realization. Mel Coldfinger was away, and already the gears of ambition were turning in the heads of many Zupans. The Hazels were the only clan to return home with some relative peace and stayed quiet as other Zupans swiftly began to speak of Mel’s departure as either the best thing that had happened to them, or the worst. No clan was more thrilled then the Geuders, whose leader Dylon Geuder was to call for immediate return to the Kycer’s assembly, and that the assembly should meet in a more ‘less depressive’ place, such as the grand circular hall in the formal capital of Helgave. The two heads of the assembly sent out couriers denying such a request, and firmly entrenched themselves in that the Kycer will meet in the coming fall as was tradition.

However, Dylon did not give up so easily, and did not return to Helgave just yet, but meandered in Hilgas. Despite being an ‘honored guest’, Dylon’s purpose in Hilgas was more political. He was quick to meet up with Mel’s temporary replacement, the necromancer and priest Naya Coladdic. Dylon was practically wooing the young Kerk, who was nearly 20 years his younger, but was talented in magic. She was being advised closely by the lich and ancient elven librarian Gra’vyen, whose spite for politics was obvious when he magically teleported Dylon three miles out of Kel Loch for trying to barge in on the two. Annoyed and distraught, Dylon was thankfully picked up by some Beurian clansmen who helped him back to Kel Loch.

Dylon was eventually able to get in a conversation with Naya, discovering her general anxiety in leading the Kycer, and that most affairs would be handled by Gra’vyen in his stead, but it was her voice that held final judgement. Although discomforted by Dylon’s persistence, she warmed to the Zupan who seemed genuine in his political career and pursuits, in which Dylon discovered the most important thing about Naya; her distaste for the Coladdic patriarch and his rival Shov Coladdic. Shov was more of a distant relative, but Naya’s line came directly from the children of Mel, which Mel held closely. However, her aligned clan may have bore the name Coladdic, but she Shov and his family viewed them as minor and irrelevant members, and Shov showed no compassion towards her, and often was dismissive of her family. Naya even recounted a tale of her father approaching Shov for a loan and a couple goats, and Shov dismissed him without as much as listening to him. Dylon knew from past experiences with Shov that this was fairly common with the old archconservative.

Dylon finished up his business with Naya, being reassured of her abilities before leaving for Helgave. Once back in his home, he was greeted by his adoptive brother, the Beurian Daygov Geuder and the rest of his clan. The only ones not amongst their number was his heir and his wife, who were out on business elsewhere. Dylon got to work almost immediately, sending out invitations to many of the Zupans aligned to him to meet in Helgave.

Many joined Dylon as he was laying out his ‘battle plan’ to become head of the Assembly before the Zupans of Telgan, Pemolas, Nasklan, and the surprising Zupan of Ushas. Dylon had made a deal with Zupan Molov Pinewood, a Coladdic who had sympathies with Dylon, to run on a joint ticket for the Geuderic faction to run for the assembly. Dylon figured that a fellow Coladdic would make him seem far more neutral then he actually was, and maybe even get support from the likes of Lavar Brav, whom Molov spoke very highly of. It was during this meeting, that an agreement was struck on how to plan for the election, which was divided up Shov’s voting base of conservative Kerks while retaining the support of various minorities, the slaves, and reformers.

The only Zupan who was not fully onboard was Pelkov Elkwood, who was fairly conservative himself. Pelkov wanted stronger reassurances that Dylon and his faction would not go ‘too far’ with reforms related to the slaves, or damage the economic model of the Pelkovs. Although Dylon tried to reassure Pelkov, the Zupan’s single minded fury was more directed towards the Hazels, whom he complained were ‘foxes amongst hens’. It became clear that Pelkov cared very little for his clan’s economic model, and more about damaging the Hazels, bringing accusations that the Hazels were aligned with Okan bandits who prey on the roads of Telgan. The meeting eventually agreed to give Pelkov what he wanted, not wishing to remove his vital support, allowing any reforms passed by the group to ignore Telgas and the Elkwoods in general.
____

Things seemed to be going well, at least at first, up until an incident came to fruition in Nasklan. Zupan Maryl Hydov, who increasingly has become known as ‘The Lady of the Seal Peninsula’, had been in a partial feud with the poorer Gasner clan of Fesden. Zupan Tomov Gasner. For years, the Hydov have been looked down on by the Coladdic clans for having lost their Tomb City to the undead, a misery which the Gasners were quick to exploit. Sending in necromancers from time to time, small teams of Gasner clansmen were making off with large stone pieces of the Hydov tomb city, a grave insult to the clan. Although this had been happening for years, the recent excavation by the illegal pillagers dug their way into an ancient Hydov tomb and pilfered the grave of one of the Hydov’s ancient patriarches, a hero of a long gone age which tamed the Peninsula of Seals. In cruelty, the necromancers raised the ancient dead of the grave, had it dance for them, and then mockingly broke it apart to keep as trinkets. One of the excavators, a poor Okan who was helping the Gasners, was mortified by the show and reported the desecration to Maryl.

The Hydov clan flew into a fury, and a clan meeting was called. Insulted beyond belief, the entire clan was soon shouting ‘Gasner Delenda Est!’ ‘Fesdan Delenda Est!’. Maryl called for a meeting, wishing to retake their ancient tomb city from the rogue undead, but also to take vengeance on the Gasner clan who defiled their tomb. However, the necromancers of the Hydovs were quick to remind their angry clan the reasons why they lost their tomb in the first place, as the ancient powers within the vast burrows were far too strong for their clan to handle, and that any and all burials were done in secret. It was why the excavations of the Gasners brought so many necromancers, to mask them from the denizens within. Maryl however was unconvinced and mustered raiders to retaliate against the Gasners.

Although partly experienced from several internal conflicts, Maryl was confident in her campaign against them. Her first order of business was ‘cleaning up’ the expeditions into the tomb city. Several poor Okan masons had joined the Gasners in this illegal operation, which shocked and angered Maryl to no end, especially with the clan’s close relationship with many of the Okan villages in the north. These masons were found and hanged, much to the equal shock and horror of many of the Okan clans who did not fully understand the brutality against them. Maryl’s clan then began to make their way southward towards Gangave, and were on a crash course towards the home of the Gansers.

Maryl’s retaliatory raids were beyond brutal, targeting structures more so than civilians. Maryl knew that the Gasners were poor and valued construction, and thus Maryl and her clan began a slash and burn raid across Fesdan. Her main target was the city of Gangave, home of the scribes and a smaller and less traveled city. Tomov Gasner was soon gathering his clan to counter the raiders, but was not prepared for the devastation Maryl and her clan wrought. Several smaller Kerkian clans were utterly annihilated, their sacred shrines desecrated, and many of the non-Kerks hanged in rows to mark Maryl’s advance. Tomov and an army of 1,200 Kerkian clansmen were able to catch up to Maryl and her 800 outriders, initiating the Battle of Feslow.

Feslow was a small kerkian village, although the size of a large town by normal standards, and was only a day’s ride from Gangave. Maryl and her clan were in the process of raiding Feslow when Tomov and a mostly infantry army caught up to her. Maryl’s cavalry were too busy dealing with Feslow’s militia, so Maryl and half of her raiders skirmished with Tomov’s warriors. The battle went poorly for both sides, as Maryl’s constant flanking saw severe casualties on both sides, to a point that both Maryl and Tomov were horribly injured. Bloodied and beaten, only 200 of Maryl’s clan limped back to Nasklan as Tomov secured the village, although ironically the Gasner clan raided the village anyways in a bloodlust of victory.

Maryl returned home only to receive worse news. Without her consent or order, many of her aligned clans were now swarming into Fesdan and were brutalizing the clans aligned with the Gasner. Although happy to know the Hydov honor was avenged, the border wars was now slowly killing both districts, and was now turning into a crisis affecting the rest of the country.

For the Coladdic clans, this trouble was an embarrassment, who were only made aware of the extent of the crimes Tomov and his clan had done, even though the Gasners swore their necromancers would never defile a tomb. The necromancers who did defile the tomb however were never found, likely either disappeared or fled once the fighting broke out. A Kycer army marched on Gangave and occupied the city to keep the Nasklan clans from destroying the city outright, but had to watch as the Hydov aligned clans burned and sacked their way around it. Although Tomov was able to beat back many of the raiders, the non-Kerkian populations of Beurian and Okan suffered horrifically. Both races were being captured by Nasklan clans and being dragged north in chains to become slaves, seeing as that many of them were abandoned to fend for themselves, as bandit clans slowly began forming across Fesdan. Norad Okan were especially enthusiastic to capture fellow Midad Okan, whom many blamed for the ruined relationship they had with the Hydovs.

For the Geuderians, this mess became a black spot on them politically, and only grew daily. Dylon Geuder was furious with Maryl and her actions, especially as Fesdan burned and Shov Coladdic was rumored to be preparing speeches for the next Kycer’s meeting to decry the violence by the Geuderians. The whole ordeal became quite a political scandal, especially amongst the reformer Kerks who felt disillusioned about the Geuders and their aligned faction of having any control over the country being little more then the same troubled clans with less religion involved. In order to try to fix this, Dylon Geuder sent his son Polchov Geuder and a contingent of Ghilmen to aid Maryl in bringing many of these new bandit clans down. Polchov however could not do much, even as the vast web of political ties between the aligned rogue clans and Maryl prevented him from enforcing his father’s will. In the end, it seemed the Geuders could only hope the fury of the Kerks died down.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Mel Coldfinger’s Interactions with the Hill Tribes

@OddlyParanoid

A cloud of mist and fog comes over one of the tribal ports on the coast, and a small rowing boat appears. The port bears only two living figures, and a skeletal figure in a softer armor rowing at the oars. The two figures are cloaked entirely in a purple gown, their only features showing are their eyes and the tip of their nose, but those who can get close enough to them would see their sunken in eyes, the Kerks of Caslan. They wore no fine jewelry, and have nothing of value besides their clothes and two large books at their side. When they land at the docks, they are quick to try to find a leader to lead them to the former imperial capital, revealing themselves as envoys of the archlich Mel Coldfinger, and announce only in private that their master Mel was coming.

The two figures are entirely silent, and do not speak much, but those of any magical nature would be able to catch on that they were enchanted, as their eyes were very foggy, as if they were being watched. One of the Kerks was also a user of magic, having waved his hand at their boat and skeletal rower, in which it sunk below the waters and rowed into the abyss beneath the waves, but besides this, the two Kerks did openly try not to offend. They were quite studious and self aware, telling those who may try to confront them that any harm that came to them would be cursed, and would incur the wrath of their master, and that they simply only wished to convey their message to the ‘archduke’. It was clear that the Kerks nor Mel were informed on recent events, but did not seem to care much for the changes.

The message they wished to convey was relatively simple, they only wished to inform whoever was in the former imperial capital that Mel was coming, and that he wished for safe passage for himself, his servants, his slaves, and his undead. Once they got an answer, along with any demands from the current leader who greeted them, they would return to inform Mel.
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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Slagar
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Slagar Lord of Disappointment, Witch King of Saltmar

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Caslan
Tomb City of Scribes
Fall Meeting of the Kycer


In early Fall, all the Zupans in Caslan along with the members of the Kycer were ordered back to the Tomb City of Scribes in Hilgas. On the roads to the city, danger and trouble was usually afoot, which prompted most of the Kerkian members of the Kycer to bring an assortment of bodyguards. It wasn’t usual, as the Blyamen guarded the city and the Kycer itself, but usually kept the tomb city’s inner walls. Shov Coladdic made his way first to the city, as was his habit, and began to greet his faction before the arrival of others, while also discussing political strategy in the privacy of his clan’s catacombs. What was more abnormal however was that he had brought a larger contingent then usual, allowing his Beurian bodyguard and slave Drasken, to enter. Many of Shov’s allied clans were not very sure about this, as it was abnormal for a head of the assembly to need such protection, especially with so many undead to guard them in such a neutral environment. It wasn’t forbidden, it just wasn’t done.

Shov however had his reasons, as he was quick to exclaim his intentions to them. He saw the trouble in northern Caslan between the Hydov and Gasner clans as an opportunity they could not miss, and wished to use the trouble to it’s full effect. His vicious glare soon came on Tomov Gasner, who was a member of his faction. Tomov was not a minor priest, but he was in the Zupan council, but the reveal of his clan’s actions against the Hydov’s lost tomb city had created a black spot which Shov did not want his rivals to use against him. Shov ‘politely’ asked Tomov where the necromancers of the clan who defiled the Hydov ancestor were being kept. Although Tomov continued to insist in desperation to his fellow Coladdic clansmen of his innocence, Shov nor his priests did not care.

Tomov relented, saying that the two necromancers were outside the tomb city in disguise, one being apparently a brother and another a brother-in-law, both of whom were in good relations with Tomov and had asked him to seek forgiveness. Shov was pleased by this news, and ordered Drasken to take them into custody. Tomov pleaded for mercy, but was shut down by Shov, who ‘comforted’ the Zupan by exclaiming that he would ‘take care of the troubles’.
_____

Lavar Brav was looked up towards the familiar tomb city, with a shortness of breath as he affixed his purple robes. His assistant Okan servant kept close behind him, turning from side to side in worry. Lavar may have had experience climbing the stone stairs, but Lila was younger, and was less exhausted when they climbed. Several members of the Kycer were behind them, and several more in front of them in a line of purple, red, green, and black. She saw a number of Kerks had brought bodyguards of all types. She could see several Kerkian bodyguards, two Okan Ghilmen, and a Beurian mercenary. Yet, the most common type of guard were the undead, as several necromancers walked together under the shadow of Husks.

“Keep up, Lila” Lavar politely asked of the Okan. Lila snapped back to attention and came even closer to him “I am sorry, sir. It feels like we are marching with an army.”

“I noticed.” Lavar looked around him as well, less impressed and more annoyed. “No doubt everyone is on edge due to the recent events in Nasklan and Fesdan, or they tire of the raptor attacks.”

The name sent shivers down Lila’s spine. They were creatures the Kerks brought over from their homeland, and have menaced the isle since. They could move fast, were intelligent, and hunted in packs. Yet, Caslan was brutal to them, the creatures hibernated in deep, warm caves, as they perished out in the snows of winter. In all her studies, she wondered where the Kerks came from to have such beasts, and yet was quick to wonder why the Kerks even brought them over to start with.

“You think the Kycer is going to do something about the violence there?” Lila meekly asked. Lavar nodded. “Hopefully, but that is not my full business with this session today. No doubt it will come up.”

Lavar and Lila continued onward, coming up to the main gates. Meeting them there was Dylon Geuder whom Lavar had hoped to see. Lavar greeted his fellow Zupan gracefully, but noticed that Dylon’s company was a bit off. Instead of his usual sycophants, Dylon was in the company of his son Polchov Geuder, and a Beurian named Daygov Geuder. To Lavar, this was abnormal. Most times, heirs were not seen with the patriarch, as they were off gaining experience or aiding in administration back home, much like Lavar’s own heir. Daygov is a Beurian, a bear beastfolk who was adopted into the Geuder clan and was Dylon’s brother, but more realistically was his bodyguard as was seen by the large cloak which covered the creature’s large blade he bit to the side of him.

“Ah. Dylon. I was hoping to see you inside, what pray tell makes you live outside these gates?” Lavar asked. Dylon looked to him, as if annoyed by something. He wondered why Lavar was being so kind to him, and was quick to ask “What is it you wish to discuss Lavar Brav. I am in no mood for jests or clever talk.”

“Normally you are.” Lavar shrugged. Lila came up to the side of Daygov as their two respective superiors talked. Daygov gave one quick glance down at the Okan, holding onto a tome for which to write down the Kycer’s business. He grunted as Lila looked a bit uncertain as the two Kerks spoke in an increasingly passive aggressive tone with one another.

“I was hoping the business in my city will be put aside for the good of Kycer, if that is your intention of course, Dylon.”

“Believe it or not Lavar, anything I do is for the good Caslan, not always for the good the Kycer.”

“Is not Caslan one in the same with the will of the Kycer, and thus the gods?”

“Ha! As if the Kycer is meant to represent the will of the gods. You are an idiot and a fool if you believe Shov Coladdic is using the Kycer to embetter the lives of us all.”

Daygov could see Lila was anxious and tried to comfort her with a tidbit of information, whispering “They are being honest with one another, they do not mean much by it.”

Lila looked up at Daygov “They practically sound hostile.”

“They are Kerks, they always sounds hostile.” Daygov lightly chuckled. Eventually, after some complaining, Lavar got to his point.

“Dylon, I know you and your Geuderians do not have much trust in the Kycer, but please I wish to discuss an important matter with you. I wish to bring forth legislation with the help of your faction, since I know Shov will already vote it down. I wish to laxen the laws towards new membership to the Kycer. A friend of mine, an intelligent friend mind you, the merchant Tenser Uman wishes to put up an election to join the Kycer itself. I would have introduced this sooner, but the trouble up north concerns me greatly.”

“As it does.” Dylon rubbed his chin “I was out here actually because of that. I await both Zupan Duman Hazel and Maryl Hydov. Your proposal intrigues me, but I wish to look over the details.”

“Duman?”

Polchov nodded and spoke up “Aye. Duman is experienced despite his age. There is trouble brewing in the north still.”

“Explain.”

Polchov did explain, and it was a sad and sorry tale. The Hydovs were being supported by Geuder clansmen who were putting the boot down on many rogue clans, but the retaliatory nature of the Kerks has made it near impossible to achieve any form of ceasefire. Gasner aligned clans, angry at what was done to them, were now making their way north. The difference however, was that these clans were not being told to not raid by the Gasner patriarch, but were being encouraged by the Gasners. Polchov was well aware of how brutal the raids against Fesdan had been, and ruined a great deal of things. The Gasners had been trying to build up their tomb city for decades, and the Hydov aligned clansmen had in their anger began desecrating and destroying much needed (and expensive) supplies which was ruinous to the Gasners. Now those clans were raiding Nasklan, primarily for supplies they had lost and to take vengeance on any Hydov aligned clan they could see.

Polchov went silent for a moment, as if he was uncomfortable speaking, and looked only temporarily at Lila. He continued, as he described many of the atrocities he had seen in the past few months. Several Okan clans, who had not participated in the attacks in Fesdan, were ultimately attacked. Polchov described in morbid detail the fate of these small beastfolk clans, with many dead or disappeared. Dylon was no phased, thinking that perhaps the ‘less idiotic’ Gasner clans were kidnapping the beastfolk to hold for ransom, but Pulchov was not so convinced. He believed that the Gansers knew of the relationship between the Okan and the Hydovs, and were attacking them specifically to get back at them.

Now the situation got complicated, as Polchov explained that he now had to make deals and alliances with many of the same clans who had gone rogue in the first place just to put down interlopers who attacked Nasklan. These bandit clans sickened both the Geuders especially, as one particular bandit chief and his clan had used the whole ordeal to attack Beastfolk clans and villages to sell as slaves and to hold as ransom. Polchov had no clue how to deal with him, as the bandit chief was helpful in defeating the raiders from Fesdan, and kept them at bay.

The description mortified Lavar, but Dylon reassured him “Duman is a lot more experienced in raids more so then my son, something Polchov and I agree on. We will be speaking to him to get his help in this whole ordeal.”

“You act as if you blame yourself, Dylon.” Lavar noted.

“I do not blame myself, but to the average clansmen, it may as well be. Shov will certainly use it, but these recent turn of events will at least keep this whole thing out of the Kycer. The quicker we deal with this trouble, the better.”

At that moment, Daygov grunted to get the attention of Dylon “I can see them both.”

“Lavar, if you don’t mind, I’d prefer that I talk to my charges amongst fellow Geuderians.” Dylon nodded to Lavar. Lavar nodded back, as he and Lila went through the open gates. Dylon looked out over the hills of Hilgas and down at the coming members of the Kycer, getting ready for a very long week.
_____

The first day of the Kycer was as Dylon predicted, as the entire Kycer got inside were immediately bombarded with speech after speech which spoke against the violence in Fesdan and Nasklan, but a lot of these speeches were hollowed out by the games of blame inflicted onto each other by the Hydovs and Gasners. However, the most powerful and damaging speech was reserved for Shov Coladdic who made the entire room uncomfortable with his vicious rebuke of the Geuderians.

“Is this the much needed reform that our fellow priests speak of, is the blood spilled and heads caved in the much needed leadership the Kycer needs?” was repeated by Shov, snidely looking at Dylon and giving a cruel grin. Maryl Hydov and Tomov Gasner were in attendance, but did not speak to each other. In fact, they spoke to no one, and stared hatefully at one another for much of the session. Lavar rose to speak against the violence as well, but the Geuderian aligned priests however had a much different take, and led a rather controversial attack.

Dylon rose to speak, condemning the violence at first, but then began to speak on how the conflict had even started. He pointed out that a sacred tomb city had been pilfered, an ancient ancestor of the Hydovs was raised, and then puppeted for amusement. Dylon then made accusations against the priesthood itself, much to the gasps and angry callouts of the ceremonial priests in attendance, who were not fully political. Lavar found this political tactic intriguing, but also despicable, as Dylon began to call out the hypocrisies of the priesthood who would condemn violence of the living, but not call out the blasphemy committed by the Gasners. Dylon did not want a debate on this matter, he wanted to muddy the waters enough for the Kycer to avoid talking of it.

Then, as if on cue, Shov ‘agreed’ with Dylon. Dylon was surprised and then immediately suspicious as Shov did call out that the Gasner necromancers had defiled a sacred tomb, but announced that the perpetrators had been caught, tried. . .and killed. The announcement was a shock to Tomov who looked up in despair at Shov, and then to the entrance of the Kycer where a skeletal barrow guard came in the heads of the two blasphemous necromancers. It was a morbid show as Shov came down off his stand, and ritualistic fashion spat upon the two presented heads. He ordered all members of the Kycer, starting with Tomov, to spit upon the heads as well for the crime of blasphemy, much to his physical dismay. Dylon and his faction relented and remained silent, but Lavar could see Tomov was shaking with grief, and after spitting on the heads of his relatives, attempted to excuse himself. Shov denied this request, no one knowing either out of ritual or cruelty.

Dylon was naturally annoyed, as his attempt to muddy the waters had been caught and quickly set aside. Dylon held his tongue as he also noticed that Shov did not offer Maryl compensation, nor did he even propose anything to solve the crises. Instead, Shov had the Kycer pray and demanded a set of rituals to be performed the next few days, asking for the gods to forgive them and to ask for retribution.
_____

By the time the Kycer had met up again, many members were exhausted from the partaking rituals. This wasn’t abnormal, and was a common political tactic Shov used to get a handle over the Geuderians. Being a master of the Kycer’s rituals, the rituals took on boring, long, and sometimes even pointless rituals performed at the tomb city’s various shrines. Various gods were approached by the ceremonial priests, and the minor priests such as Lavar and Dylon had to perform the correct rituals. Some of these rituals were complex and convoluted, such as was the case with Dylon’s patron god Tenera. Dylon would spend much of the early morning giving praise to Tenera, having a spear handle engraved in her name, and then broken apart. Each piece was then put into a sack, dropped from a cliff several times, and then melted back down over a low fire till the wind picked up and blew the smoke straight up. Any instance of this ritual going wrong would have been called out by the heads of assembly who could arbitrarily declare the ritual had been done wrong, and Dylon would have to restart over and over again till it was ‘done right’.

Once the rituals were done, the Kycer would meet for a second time a few days later. Normally, rituals were supposed to be done in between the meeting of the Kycer, but Shov had warped these rituals over the years to take up a majority of the time. This was primarily done to keep the religious Kerks from proposing more ‘disastrous legislation’, but it also kept the Geuderians from debating as Shov moved about in the shadows. It wasn’t long till Tomov Gasner confronted the Coladdic patriarch in private, angry and furious at his treachery. Tomov was a lone kerk, and his experience through the years and control over his own nature saved him from railing on the Coladdic head of the assembly, especially when the towering Drasken guarded him. Shov explained to Tomov that while he despised the Geuders, he would not have the stain of blasphemy on him or his faction, and that their deaths ‘released a stain on the souls of your entire clan’. Tomov angrily stormed out of the Kycer, something which Lavar Brav had noticed while conducting his own rituals.

Lavar sighed deeply and confided to Lila as he watched Tomov leave “The stability of Caslan is more important than life, for without it, only death and fury fill the gaps.”

“Caslan is unstable, sir?” Lila asked.

“If we were stable, neither Fesdan nor Nasklan would burn. The Kycer is an entity, like a king or an emperor, and it must act. Without action, we are useless as an insane monarch.”
_____

When the Kycer met for a 2nd time, it was noticeably more silent and grim. Dylon was peeved, and Shov smirked as the meeting did not begin until Shov called the Kycer to order. Shov noticed that of those who meandered late into the assembly was Duman Hazel and Maryl Hydov. Dylon had approached Duman earlier, but the young Zupan was reluctant to agree. In order to get Duman to agree, Dylon had twisted his arm severely, which annoyed Duman but he ultimately obeyed. However, unknown to Shov who was suspicious as to why Maryl and Duman talked quite casually to one another in low whispers, Lavar and Dylon were trying to put forward another piece of legislation, as during the recess during the rituals, both Zupan had come to a secret agreement.

In return for Lavar’s support in the coming years, Dylon agreed to help push and sponsor Lavar new edict which would open up the Kycer electorate to non-Kerks. To Lavar, this was a long time coming, as the priesthood had never barred non-Kerks from joining but had been extremely biased against them when it came to them joining the Kycer. There has not been a non-Kerkian member of the Kycer since its founding, and Lavar wished to laxen the requirements to allow his friend and ally, Tesner Uman, to join. Tesner had been more politically active as of late, the merchant wished to put forward his own legislation rather than rely on Lavar to get things done. As part of Lavar’s deal with Dylon, if Tesner won, he would be effectively a loyalist to the Geuderians in all but name.

The specifics of Lavar’s bill was debated, and it was lengthy to say the least. Effectively, it would reduce the requirements to become a member of the Kycer, and unbar non-Kerks from entry into it. When it was brought to the Kycer to vote on, Shov nearly vetoed it on the spot, railing against the bill as ‘destabilizing’ during a time of crises. However, Lavar was quicker to the draw, arguing that if the bill was destabilizing, he would not have brought it forth. He argued that if the Kycer was not acting on the troubles in the north, then he assumed the gods and the Kycer were satisfied with what was happening in Nasklan and Fesdan. Shov relented, and allowed the vote to continue, and was passed with a very slim majority.

However, before the Kycer dismissed itself to perform the religious rites for the remaining days, Shov called another vote, and on the spot ordered that a member of the Kycer lead an expedition to Nasklan and Fesdan to bring order. Lavar was open to this suggestion and was supportive of it. . .at first. Shov then called on Pelkov Elkwood to lead a Kycer army into Nasklan and Fesdan to bring back order, something the Zupan confusingly agreed to. Dylon and Lavar looked at one another, unsure of what Shov was playing at, as Dylon was already open to sending Duman Hazel to privately end the conflict.

As the Kycer ended for the day, Lavar met up with Shov, who was instructing Pelkov on the rituals of leading the Kycer’s armies, handing him (and introducing) various Coladdic lieutenants and officers. Lavar asked the head of the assembly why he did not choose himself or his co-head of council Taspov Beusdov. Shov only smiled, not answering his question and simply reiterating his faith in Pelkov as an experienced commander, which Pelkov was not. Lavar wondered what Shov was playing at, but relented, concluding the 2nd meeting the Kycer.
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Slagar Lord of Disappointment, Witch King of Saltmar

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Caslan Interactions with Nagintyar, Kengir, and Basmarra


Although Caslan has been fairly silent throughout much of its history since rebelling and leaving the Orduin empire, their presence in trade has always been partly felt as traders in paper and fish. However, troubles on the isle and political intrigue has been pushing the Kerks out of their island home, and moving more abroad, primarily more and more south.

On the large isle itself, the laxing of requirements to the Kycer has intrigued the paper merchant Tesner Uman and his political ally Lavar Brav. Tesner’s grand political ploy was to bring prosperity to the isle, proving that despite being a human amongst the Kerks, he was worthy and capable of joining the Kycer by providing jobs, trade, and wealth to the Kerks. To do this, Tesner and Lavar looked south for their goals. Tesner was especially interested in increasing trade from the south, wanting to see the Kel Trach becoming a grander trade port and staging ground for trade between the north and south. However, achieving this had many troubling qualities, and a number of political consequences.

The first trouble was the purpose and location of Caslan trade wise, as reaching Caslan was more of a hassle than just rowing up trade ships along the coasts. The other trouble was the sister county of Olgan. Port Uvan was run by a ‘peasant republic’, made up of many minor clan patriarches who ruled the city and surrounding rivers, a rich land which was less than enthusiastic about giving the Brav clan any edge in the grand conflict. Finding solutions to these issues would be difficult, but Tesner was confident that he could convince the southern nations to come to Caslan to trade.
_____

With encouragement from the Bravs, two Kerkian vessels went to the trading ports of Basmarra and Nagintyar. The first to arrive was in Nagintyer, which was already a popular spot for Tesner’s merchants to trade paper, but was also visited heavily by the Elkwood and Coladdic merchants to trade iron and gold. The Kerks who came to Nagintyar were envoys from the merchant Tesner, primarily being his son and several merchants aligned with Tesner, who wished to form a trade agreement, in which the merchants revealed they had brought gifts of vodka, seal skin, and vast sheets of blank paper. Although mentioned in passing of the necromantic faith of the Kerks, Tesner’s son avoided any and all mention of it, as Tesner feared that being a bit too revealing of the necromantic mastery the Kerks had would be damaging to the relationship of nations of cultures which was foreign to them.

The second ship sent by Lavar and Tesner was commanded by Cilov Brav, the spiteful brother of Lavar. Although a merchant by trade and an envoy of the Kycer, he had been sent mostly to keep him away from family affairs more than to trade, so when he arrived in the trade ports of Basmarra, he was grumpy and angry. Basmarra was less frequently traveled to the Kerks, primarily due to distance, but had come with offerings and gifts. Cilov wished to meet with the heads of the Zhosa Alliance, bringing gifts of iron and gold ingots, baskets of paper, and bottles of vodka. As a personal worshipper of the god Melakos, Cilov also came to present a tome of Caslandic history as well, a honored gift in Kerkian culture. Cilov’s deal was rather straightforward and overly honest, promising fair trade agreements with Caslan. Outside of Tesner’s own demands, Cilov mentioned that the people of Caslan were highly interested in the sale of fruits and meats.

The last ship was not from Kel Trach, but rather port Uvan, led by a Kerkian merchant named Syman, a farmer. Syman had wanted to go beyond Basmarra and to explore the regions of the Kengir Emirate. Bringing a trade ship full of fish, paper, and vodka, the Kerk set out for the region. When he and his people landed in the trade ports, taking in the sights and culture, the Kerks wished to present their gifts to the leaders of the emirate, and saw several notable opportunities. Syman spoke of wishing to create a lucrative trade deal, offering fish, shellfish, and seal to the Emirate at a decent cost in order to buy sandstone and other building materials. When Syman and his traders came, they had also brought along with them a number of poor Okan sailors and servants, many of them taking in the sights of the Kengir ports. Many looked and talked like they wished to stay, especially when they noticed how rich even the poorest of the Kengir was compared to their own lives in Caslan.

Universally, the Kerks were. . .interesting envoys to say the least. The Kerks are obnoxiously honest and brought tales of Caslan as they traveled abroad, and it became clear to those who talked and conversed with the envoys that their trade meetings had a secondary purpose; to get an edge in the politics back home. Although the Kerks may not bring their priests or some cadre of the undead with them as they traveled, the tales of Caslan was known enough to know all manner of dark things called the island their home, and the Kerks were all more than eager to regale tales and complain of their homeland.
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