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Long ago, along the banks of the rivers now called the Asquelle, Oreuse, Vitroux, and Meine, there lived five tribes: one for each of the Gods, though these people were as yet ignorant of the Pentad. The land that Oraphe had gifted them was lush and green nonetheless, the climate fair, and the forests rich with game. At times, it was true that Echeran raised his mighty sword and there was war among them but, more often than not, there was bounty enough for all and they lived in Ipté's peace.

Centuries passed and, as Chune granted them more of her wisdom, the five tribes began to apply her Gift of magic in simple ways. They built villages and towns, pushing back the forests with their dark, rugged reaches and savage beasts. Farms came to cover the hillsides: swaying seas of golden rye, barley, oats, and lentils dotted with thatched-roof huts and cottages. Gradually, the five peoples became one and their numbers grew. They began to call themselves something new: Parren. Dami was pleased by their sound judgement and blessed them greatly for many years.


But the five-tribes-turned-one were simple yet, compared to their neighbours from the rocky, sweltering north. These had built a vast empire on blood, gold, and magic. They, too, were many, and greatly blessed by Echeran, whom they worshipped in marble temples. Now, they turned their greedy eyes south towards the lands of those they called Parencii. How simple was the conquest.

Yet, for all of their initial brutality, these Avincians proved just and fair as masters and, in time became brothers with the Parencii and the others whose lands they had marched upon. Once again the people of the Asquelle, Oreuse, Vitroux, and Meine thrived. They learned a great deal in this time - most of all, the names and magics of the Gods - and nobody could call them simple anymore. They built their homes of stone and plowed their fields with oxen and slaves gained from conquest. Their victories became those of the Avincians and the Avincians' theirs.


However, the same was true of their defeats, for such are the Gods of the Pentad that they give and they take. The peoples of Sipente ebb and flow no differently than their world does. Too much, those of the arid north liked their gold, and their empire weakened from within. From the south now, lands cold and unforgiving, blessed only with winds, snows, and a wealth of minerals, came a new threat: the Eskandr.

Their magics were fresh and strong and their fury and lust like nothing the Parencii nor their Avincian masters had ever seen. By fire and sword, they set upon the more civilized peoples' homes, farms, and businesses and razed them to the ground. To their frigid and desolate lands, the Eskandr took the accumulated wealth of generations: the gold, spices, and marble, the strong men as slaves, and the beautiful women as unwilling wives. Those left behind howled for vengeance and, within a decade, formed the backbone of the mighty Avincian legions which struck south.





On the banks of the Meine, the two armies fought to a bloody standstill. The empire recovered itself somewhat and staggered on for another two hundred years. The Eskandr bided their time but, when the thousand year city of Avince and its civilization fell, it was not they who did the deed. Rather, among others, it was the Parench. For quite some time, they had been doing the dragon's share of the work and receiving scant little of the reward.

For their greed, Dami judged them wanting and Echeran laid them low. Plague and famine swept the lands of the dead empire. Petty kings, conquerors, and strongmen carved the great corpse into small, feuding realms. Roads fell into disuse, temples into ruins, and forests full of wolves and bandits encroached upon farmland. As they lay bleaching in the subtropical sun, bricks were scavenged from the great, overgrown bones of the old Avincian cities. Public baths, stadiums, and libraries became humble huts and longhouses. Books became kindling and the practice of magic became strange and arcane.


Now, the Eskandr returned, and they feasted on the soft lands to the North. Under many banners but with one purpose and a common set of heathen gods, they raided up and down the coast and then began to strike inland. The villages of the Parench burned once more and there were a hundred different men who claimed that they would act as saviour to their people: the one to take on and defeat this scourge of Echeran. They would not share their glory, however and, instead, they carved their own lands up in bloody warfare. Only after dozens of these would-be heroes lay dead and the heathens ran rampant, extracting tribute and taking slaves, did the remainder swallow their pride and adopt the titles of dukes, counts, barons, and margraves.

On the shore of the Étroite Sea lies the old Avincian city of Solenium, with its handsome stone buildings, cobble streets in their original grid pattern, and palm trees that sway in the maritime breeze. Renamed Solenne by the Parrench, it was here that the proud lords of the land, near to broken from their wars against each other and Eskandr alike, gathered on the Ides of Verdi. As cathedral bells chimed and the year’s first flowers bloomed outside, they bowed their heads and pledged their fealty to a new king: a first among equals.


The ruler of the unified Parrench people, Arcel, is a young man, for it was truly his father Rouis who won the crown and then expired too soon to wear it. Some say he is clever, handsome, and strong in The Gift. Others say that his are a young man's dreams and too grand to make for reality. Dukes and counts whisper and scheme. Margravines curtsy and court him. They say he will fail but, in truth, he must succeed, or the bold experiment that is one Parrench nation will fail with him and become a feast for the Eskandr.

To that end, in cities, towns, and even the largest of villages, King Arcel's agents now appear. For those few who can read, parchments are hammered onto posts and church doors while innkeepers and town criers relay the king's message for the many who cannot. Arcel, first of his name, King of the Parrench, calls all willing and able warriors skilled in the use of The Gift to the town of Relouse, on the southern frontier. Knights, Wizards, Rangers, and Scoundrels alike, he calls them to fight for the future of their people.





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Act One: The Defense of Relouse____ __ _ _

Chapter One: A King's Call_________ __ __ _ _






𝅘𝅥𝅮 Meldheim, Eskand: One Week Previous




A seagull glided across the fjord, wheeling and bleating upon the cool evening wind. Each flap of its wings was measured as it rode the fast-cooling thermals. Beneath it were a great many humans standing by the water. These were of concern to the animal only insofar as their detritus provided an easy source of food before nightfall. Beyond that, it gave little care for the rituals of those strange land-bound animals.

They stood there in multitude, though, in a place called Meldheim. Before them stretched the cold grey waters of the Veldskyr. Yet, one could almost walk upon the sea for so many longships called it home. Behind them, a city roosted upon a hill where it rose to meet the walls of the fjord. Smoke spiraled into the darkening sky from a hundred chimneys and forges, black and wispy against a vast red sun. Finally, it sank from view and the glow of fires licked and flickered amid the burgeoning twilight.

It took a dozen strong men to set the longship going. The king could’ve done so himself, using the Gift, but he did not. This would be the last chance for these loyal warriors to act in service of their Jarl before they met again in Grønhalle. He would not deny it to them.

Without oarsmen, a vessel meant for them is directionless. Silently, King Hrothgar, a man many called ‘The Black’ for the armour he had earned slaying the legendary Mørkt Fjell, reached out with the immense power given to him by the Gods. The lone longship went still some ways from shore and there it sat in open water far from its brethren.

“Into the darkness, brother, you voyage," spoke the king solemnly. A rose of flame blossomed on the craft and spread quickly. "The journey from this land to the next is long, but we know that your deeds will go before you and guide you."

“It wasn't right that you fell in the Greenlands,” Hrothgar continued, “That unholy place with its crowded stinking cities, false gods, and greedy, grasping men, but you fell fighting in Bróðir’s presence, with bravery in your sword arm and the names of the gods on your lips.” He bowed his head.

“Though we will not see you arrive at Gestur's table, we know, one day, that we too will hear the call, and we will meet you there to drink and feast until the time of the Giving.”

“Let this fire of Faðir cleanse your vessel from this mortal plane,” the king said. “So that your spirit may voyage."

The longship was fully ablaze now. "Voyage well, my brother and my friend." He bowed his head and, from behind him rose a cry so loud as to shake the heavens, as to let Gestur know that a warrior worthy of a seat at the table was coming.

“Til Grønhalle!”
“Til Grønhalle!”
“Til Grønhalle!”


It echoed into the darkness, off of the cold stone walls of the fjord. The fires guttered and the stricken timbers smoked and steamed. Then the longship was gone and Einar, King of Juiskarn, with it. He had met his end bravely, overwhelmed by the superior numbers and treachery of the Greenlanders known as Parrench. It was those who were craftiest of all and as many as the pebbles on this beach. Always, Hrothgar knew, they were sending their art, their spices, and their music to the lands of the south. Most of all, they sent their priests to corrupt his people. Already, they had corrupted the kings of Kehreland and Feske and they would turn yet more of the Eskandr and their Drudgunzean kinsmen from the true gods. Less bloody than an axe but with the sureness of disease, they would destroy his people if he did nothing.

When the priests come to Hrothgar, however, he had welcomed them into his halls. He had given them bread and salt. He had allowed them to bathe in the hot springs that nestled at the foot of the Eldfjall and its liquid fire. Hrothgar had entertained an entire colony of these Somnians, Stresians, and Dordians and his people had begun to doubt him. When he had called a great feast and invited those noblemen who he knew were wavering, who had friends in the Greenlands, they were waiting upon him to betray his fathers’ faith. Instead, he’d had the priests seized and placed in chains. He and his most loyal of men had carved the blood eagle upon all twenty-five of them. Their screams had filled the night and he had staked out his position in no uncertain terms: his ways were his ways. Eskand was a place for Eskandr and not these northern fools.


Now, having made his statement, the King of Kings had called for his banners. Einar’s death had been as brave as it was tragic, but Horthgar would be remiss if he did not admit that its timing had been fortuitous. The Parrench and even some Drudgunzeans had begun to refer to the Eskandr as heathens. So be it. What Hrothgar had then gathered - what stood about and before him - was a Great Heathen Army. Tonight, they would feast and confer and celebrate the life of their brother. Three of his four children - two sons and a daughter - had made the journey and were among the army’s number. One would earn the crown, drenched in his enemy's blood, per Einar’s wishes. Tomorrow, they would set off. They would land upon the rugged shore near the rich walled town of Relouse and take it for their base camp. There, Hrothgar would make a king of one of his loyal Jarls, for he himself had no desire to wear a Greenlander crown.

The Great Heathen Army would march on from there and extinguish the grasping, spreading kraken that was Parrence while it was yet in its infancy. Eskandr would burn those people out of the fertile lands that they claimed. They would break the nascent kingdom, they would break its people's will, and they would crush the Greenlanders’ faith in their greedy-eyed gods that would not live peacefully alongside those of others. The Army would steal the treasures of the north for Eskand and push the borders of Hrothgar’s empire once more past the River Haskell and the River Mejn.

Yet, even as he stood there gazing out over his horde and glorying in their might, something came to him that he had felt only once before in his forty-odd years of life: a flicker of doubt.








𝅘𝅥𝅮 Luderrich, Kingdom of Lindermetz: Two Weeks Previous




King Otto of Lindermetz, called the ‘Just’ by his people - it may have been intended as ironic; it may not have - was not necessarily an easy man to reach. Yet, Frida was an unusually persistent woman. Her quarrels with Folcher, the petty cloth merchant whose market stall was beside her husband’s, were the stuff of town legend at this point.

That grasping, beady-eyed schweinhund was always displaying his wares over a vast area in front of his stall and - more importantly - in front of Hermann’s! So it was that Frida had taken her concerns at this blatant disregard for neighbourly decorum to the local bailiff, but he was the cousin of Folcher’s wife and had dismissed her concerns with some false words and a laugh when he had thought she wasn’t listening. In truth, she hadn’t been, but one of her daughter’s friends worked as a servant in his house. She had heard everything and told Frida.

Next, she had gone to the magistrate and he had spoken sympathetic-sounding words. Yet, he had also refused to override the bailiff. He claimed that it was not his prerogative and that no good would come of such an action. For that, Frida had left three rotten eggs on his doorstep. The Quentic faith was supposed to be compassionate, or so she had been told time and again by those who were determined to convert her. Yet, Folcher kept the new gods and he was anything but. So had the King’s Justice, and he’d refused to act against a fellow Quentist in favour of a ‘pagan’. Where, Frida had thought, was the justice in that?

On up the chain she had gone until she was here, in Luderrich, awaiting her audience with the king. It had been two years. Folcher’s booth had since moved to another, more affluent area of the Großer Markt, but she had seen matters through this far and she was seeking damages. She had many witness statements. The local New Somnian chapter had even helped her. Perhaps, she admitted grudgingly, these Quentists were good for something. Though a part of Frida pushed back at the idea with the sort of stubbornness that had defined her life, she had even thought of converting. Pragmatically, she had prayed to both sets of gods for a resolution. She would see how matters settled and then decide. Certainly, it seemed ever more of her neighbours had been hanging those hourglass signs upon their lintels.


Yet, it appeared that, were it justice she sought, Frida would have to wait a bit longer. She was in the great hall now, where Otto of Lindermetz, a marginally plump little man with a stressed out pinkish face and chin-length blonde hair greased back beneath his crown, sat uncomfortably, shifting every so often on a great wooden chair.

The cheese merchant’s wife had gone so far as to buy a new dress - though never from Folcher - without patches. She had been practicing her bow and address for some days now. So, imagine her annoyance when a couple of guards stepped in front of her and barred her path - and, incidentally, those of everyone behind her - with their crossed halberds.

Men with fine robes and funny hats bustled about, then. They whispered in the king’s ear and Frida craned her neck to get a better look. “Bring in the musician, too, I suppose.” He shifted again on his throne, scratching at his bulbous little nose. “Time to give her a test run, no? See if she can keep us entertained.” The men in hats whispered some more, glancing down at the scrolls they held. The king heaved a much-put-upon sigh. “And the swamp witch.” He looked annoyed. “Bring in the swamp witch. Why not? What other manner of freaks shall we enjoy today?”

Frida caught a bit of the exchange as one of the scribes raised his voice a little. “It’ll move things along quicker, my lord.”

“Enough so I can enjoy my evening hunt?”

“In theory, my lord.”

“I want quail tonight, Humbert. I have been too long without it.”

“You’ve one more petition waiting in the hall.” Humbert’s eyes slid towards Frida and she straightened, trying to look dignified. “She’s been at it for quite some time.”

Otto sighed. “A lengthy issue?” The merchantwoman had excellent hearing, but she kept her expression neutral.

“No, something rather petty. We can fold her in with the others, after the lady knight. Give the woman her moment.”

Her expression slipped somewhat, but only briefly. Count on some powdered noble wanting to play knight to take up the king’s valuable time, and just when Frida was finally about to make good on two years of effort that had nearly made her a figure of fun. She saw the king nod, and then he waved for the guards at the side chamber to open the doors.


“Make way for Lady Hildr der Rote,” shouted the crier, “Slayer of the Vulkanischer Drache of Vigholm!”

Volcanic Dragon. Pfft! Frida nearly rolled her eyes. If the dragon was a volcano, it wasn’t particularly mobile, now was it? She did not find herself impressed. She had once fought off an entire pack of Smiling Dragons with nary but a broom, some gloves, and a sturdy pair of boots. Give her a sword, armour, and some training and she likely could’ve dealt with the problem herself. When the stout merchantwoman saw what marched in from a side chamber, she let out a snort. Some ridiculous lady knight in men’s clothes. To Frida’s eyes, she looked half a girl: far too pretty to be any sort of fighter.

Next came a strange pale girl in a dark robe. Her hair was… green as if covered in a slight film of moss, and Frida found herself making the signs of both the Family and the Pentad. Ungodly creature! To have a swamp witch in his very throne room, King Otto was either brave, strong, or courting disaster. Finally, came a bard, dressed in harlequin robes and carrying a lute. Pretty young thing, Frida mused, looking her up and down. Too lucky, lazy, or promiscuous to get a real job or a good husband.

The king stood, pushing off his throne’s armrests and stepping down so that he was near eye-level with the three new arrivals. He was a good deal taller than he had looked while seated, and not entirely without charm. He rubbed at his chin for a moment. “You will state your business: each of you,” he said briefly, pacing along in front of them. “You, I know, were caught trespassing on my land. You are but a girl and…” he paused and studied the young witch’s face for a moment, “and not fully human by the looks of you. Apologize, pay homage, and you may work off your owings. No punishment will be necessary. I have, perhaps, a task for which you could be of use, and we would consider your debt paid upon completion.”

He stopped in front of the lady knight next. “And you, Lady Hildr, your reputation certainly precedes you.” It does? thought Frida. “Yet…” he glanced down at his boots for a moment and, when he looked up, annoyance showed on his face. “I have heard disturbing reports that you still keep the old barbarian gods. That you have not found the light of the Pentad.” He furrowed his brow. “Truly, this is a shame. Why,” he continued, spreading his arms apart, “even now the Eskandr make preparations for war on Parrence. Our misguided brethren in Kressia join them, striking at our friends and trading partners from the south. Should I send you to that green land, how is it that I know you will not join your fellow pagans? Certainly, I have heard that you are very… close with some of them.”

He moved on, coming to a stop in front of the bard. “Tilda, is it? Of Ullmer?” He looked her up and down, glancing at her lute, and then he smiled. “I’ve heard you do not sing of heroes.” His voice warmed. “And it is just as well, for I have seen precious few in my lifetime.” He shook his head. “Better to sing of the shrewd businessmen who keep this country running, of the gatherings that give it light and life, of the fine hearty peasants who are salt of its earth. These are my thoughts and, I hope, yours." He paused and nodded. "Yet, I have heard that you have some martial skill to you. If this is true, then we may speak at length in the coming hours, for there is a task for which your king needs you and may compensate you handsomely.”

“All three of you may now address me,” he declared, after a moment of silence had passed. “State your cases, demonstrate your skill, and pledge your allegiance. Then I shall tell you what you are here for in earnest and provide for your travel.”

Frida had opened her mouth to call out to one of the robed men who fluttered about the throne room, but then the king’s guards barred her way once more. One of those very same men caught their eyes, shook his head, and the merchant was escorted out. “Tomorrow, ma’am,” said a guard brusquely. On the one hand, Frida was incensed. On the other, she had waited two years. What was one more day?








𝅘𝅥𝅮 𝅘𝅥𝅮 Relouse, Royaume de Parrence: The Present








It pained Arcel, deep in his chest, in the place that he would show to no others but dearest Eleanor and faithful Talit, what circumstances had forced upon him. Yet, he would not flinch from his duty as king. For many years, the Eskandr and, occasionally, Drudgunzeans had harried his land and killed the people who Orpahe had charged him with protecting. Myriad had been the alliances, treaties, and shifts in power that had characterized the past two centuries. The Parrench were a peaceful folk by nature, and would that he could rule them as a peaceful king, but it was not in the offing. For as long as the Parrench kingdoms, duchies, and counties had stood on their own uncertain feet, Skandergeld had flown from their coffers into those of the paiens. They had sent priests to live and work among the Southern peoples and spread the light and salvation of the Quentic faith. At great cost, they had sent south great works of art and culture, finest silks and spices, truthful good will. Yet, still, the barbarians raided. Still, they menaced monasteries, convents, and villages. They remained intractable.

First, the Eskandr had murdered their kings when these had seen the light. That had brought the new kingdom to the brink of war with them but, then, they had savagely killed the holy men who had embraced them as brothers in a bloody pagan ritual. It was plain that there was no peace to be had now, and Parrence stood as a bulwark. If it was to be war, Arcel had decided, then he would hit them with the unified might of Parrence: greatest of northern nations and heir to the traditions and steel of empire. The Drudgunzeans would join him in the light and hope of Ipté, Chune and Oraphe or else be crushed under the boots and hammer of Echeran and Dami. Heartily, as he knelt down beside his wife each night, he prayed for it.


Now, they prayed not alone, however. The fifty-five banners of the Parrench people snapped and fluttered in the stiff maritime breeze. On the very rock where Sainte Defrois had invoked the power of Echeran and slain the Dawn Wyvern those many years ago - the stone still stained with its black blood - King Arcel stood before the Grand Armée. To one side stood his beloved, Eleanor. To the other was the newly-elevated Archbishop of Relouse. The King knelt and kissed the holy man’s hand. Beside him knelt the Queen. “Father,” they said as one, “I ask you for the blessing of the most holy Pentad.”

Monks rang their handheld bells and the smell of incense drifted on the wind. The archbishop spread his arms and addressed all of those present. “Ipté, Chune, Oraphe, Echeran, and Dami bless all those who would embrace them. The blessing is yours if you will speak the words.”

“I shall,” answered the king. “I shall,” replied the queen.

“Then let us pray,” said the holy man reverently.

They gathered beneath the grey walls on the bright green grass beneath the clear blue sky and they prayed. Some, with greater fervour than others, but pray they all did.

Thousands made the sign of the Pentad.

“Lover, Learner, Creator, Destroyer, Judge,” they began. “All magics and all of creation pay homage to the divine Pentad who brought them into being. Thy existence is beyond human understanding, thy ways both arcane and divine, and thy gifts the foundations of life itself. May thy will be done now and forever.”


“Amen,” declared the archbishop, his robes flapping in the wind, his aged face serene. Arcel stood, and Eleanor a moment later. The former placed a hand upon the holy man’s shoulder and thanked him quietly. He stepped to the edge of the promontory. “Today,” he announced, “we set out upon the holy endeavour most blessed by Echeran: that of war!” His voice carried across the plain, raised to the ears of those gathered through the work of the Gift. “It is a grim business that we have set ourselves to but, as you are all here, I am satisfied that each of you know how it has now become a necessary one: an inevitable one.” He bowed his head momentarily. “Look around you, now, at the brave men and women who stand upon this sacred ground where Sainte Defrois once slew the Dawn Wyvern that so menaced this country. You do not stand alone. Nor do you stand as Tourrares, Legalles, Vitrouennes, Chambroix, or Servignans! You stand, today, the fifty-five nations of Parrennce: a fighting force blessed by the five gods, a fighting force such as this world has never laid eyes upon!”

Arcel’s heart was pounding with the emotion of the moment. This was history being made. It would be retold for many hundreds of years and, for a flicker of time, the pressure of it chipped away at the edge of his resolve. “You know well the danger,” he proclaimed, pacing now. “Some of us will be called to the five heavens, to live in the grace and peace of the Pentad, far from these mortal concerns. That is an outcome that we were all aware of when we heeded the call to come to this place. You know well the enemy,” he continued, pausing and facing the army. “Their deeds go before them: their prowess in battle, their unholy, barbaric, and murderous ways!” Eleanor stood to the side, hands knitted in front of her, expression resolved and serene as she gazed out across the crowd: the nobles in front and the hommes-de-roi, the petty knights behind, and the soldiers behind them still. The king continued. “Yet, I tell you this, people of my nation: do not let doubt stay your action this day, for I have met them on the battlefield. I have crossed steel with their steel, and we are every bit their equal. Now, with our peoples combined and the Gods to lend us strength, I tell you further: by Chune’s light, by Echeran’s sword we shall carry the day!” He drew his greatsword from its scabbard and thrust it into the air. “Vive la Parrence!!!”

A sea of burnished steel glowing under the stresian sun, fifty thousand weapons rose. The five tribes and fifty-five nations of Parrence roared, then, their voices a fearsome cry echoing off the old stone walls of Relouse. When the volume had died down somewhat, the king raised a hand. “Now, once more, brothers and sisters in arms and in faith, let us raise our voices in prayer!” He collapsed to his knees, locks of golden hair spilling over his crown.


“Oh heavenly Pentad,” he proclaimed, “who hath crafted the heavens, the sea, and the earth beneath our feet, who hath brought life, love, learning, and laughter to us, who destroy so that we may be renewed, who give us choice, magic, and freedom, we beg this of thee:”

“First,” said Eleanor, kneeling beside him, “Of Ipté we beg love for our brothers and sisters in this nation and those under your protection, that we might always remember what we are fighting for and why it is worth so very much.”

“Second,” said the king, “of Chune we beg wisdom and keenness of mind, that we may outwit and outplay the enemy, that we might recognize dangers and opportunities more fully, that we might be strong in our tactics and our strategies.”

“Of Oraphe,” said the queen, her breastplate shimmering in the sun, “we humbly ask for light, life, and good health to our bodies and minds, that we may fight with vigour and bring the light of a lasting peace to this land once all is said and done.”

“Of Echeran, we ask for the blessings of war,” Arcel declared. “We ask for courage and strength in battle. We ask that our restraint be removed, that mercy not stay our hand when facing the enemy, that we should move across the field like a great scythe among the chaff.”

“Finally, we beg sound judgement of Dami,” concluded the queen, “that we will exercise it at all times and that it will serve us well. We humbly pray that he will look with favour upon our actions here today, and for evermore.”

The king bowed his head. The queen followed. “This we pray,” declared the former. “Amen,” finished the latter. They made the sign of the Pentad and rose to their feet. In the distance, beyond the town, the fields, and the rough, stony seawall that tumbled towards the water lay Cape Redame. Sometime soon, all of those gathered knew, in perhaps only a handful of hours, the thousand longships of a Great Heathen Army would round its headland. From the deep, cloudy waters of the Océan Venteux, the Eskandr would make their landfall on the beach just there. The soldiers of the Grand Armée would meet them and they would fight: the first battle of many for the survival of Parrence.





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Interacting: King Arcel @Force and Fury, Arnaud @YummyYummy, Nameless NPC.
Opportunity: Parrench-aligned Players.
Event: Defense of Relouse | Location: Relouse Encampment, Parrence.


Parades, banners, and soldiers marching. Tents springing up everywhere outside of Relouse. The colourful display which would rival a carnival is now before him as he rides towards the meeting point. He swiftly rides upon Espirito, with Arpegiar and Peonia following close behind with his luggage in tow, galloping quickly through the field. The fields were different to the more arid steppes, with the seas of corn, wheat, and food a plenty adorning the fertile plains. It is no surprise to him that those within the heartlands can afford to live in such huge towns and cities. Tensions have always been simmering between the Tourrare and the rest of the four tribes, a reputation for being late to the party, from the initial creation of the nation, surrendering to the Avincian Empire, and converting to the Pentad. They are seen as backwards folk, sticking mostly to their plains in a pastoral lifestyle, the arid lands home to their herds of cattle, horses, and goats, living each moment in comparative simplicity. However, these simple folk do have a strength which is their strong sense of communal justice, to attack one Tourrare is to attack all Tourrare, something that foreign oppressors fail to understand when their tyrannical actions are met with an overwhelming local response. It is this strength that keeps the Northeastern borders secure, their meat filling Parrench bellies, and their horses keeping the knights charging strong on the battlefields.

Asier passes many men and women of Parrence as he transverses along the outer tents. Whilst not many women fought in battle, they served a great use in cooking, making camp, and keeping the supplies running. It also encouraged the men, knowing they would have to stand up proud for their womenfolk behind the lines, whilst those without may find solace in those interested in providing them with their last meal. He politely declines various generous offers to become a real ‘Man of Arcel’, a term that was starting to spread on the tongues of folk. The King in his wisdom has decreed to expand the nobility by ennobling those who have proven merit and valour in their duties. This has greatly expanded the officer classes within the armies in preparation for this upcoming war with the Eskandr, one which was probably far sooner than any had foreseen. Whilst this is a great honour to any who have been chosen, it had resulted in some mockery from both the existing nobility and peasant classes as wild rumours spread that Arcel has even taken after a late Avincian Emperor and appointed his prized stallion Coursevent as head of the Grande Armée. Asier merely shakes his head as he slows down to a trod as he begins to find the directions to where he was supposed to be.

“Oi, get ya horsies out of ‘ere”, a pudgy Parrench watchman seems to be making his big stand at the entrance as he makes his way to the nobles’ area. “Ya dirty horsemen should know better by now, ya stables are over there”. Whilst Asier is used to such treatment as a Tourrare, however he is surprised at how vigilant this one appears to be around his presence. “My presence is required…”, as he speaks, he was cut sharp again “Your presence is in those stables over there, under orders of Ser Pair-Pee-Nyaw”. It seems that was met by a timely chortle from the encampment as a bunch of knights around a smirking blond looked on. The watchman was getting more flustered with the laughter, getting more handsy as he started to try to shove the horse to the direction of the stables. Asier sighed as he dismounted, his travelling clothes did not do much for his image of nobility, as he guided the horses to the stable.


Collab: Arnaud @YummyYummy

Heavy footsteps reverberated throughout the small portion of the camp Asier found himself in. Familiar steps, too. None had quite a stride like this one, and nothing could ever stop it. The same man that talked down to Asier became noticeably quiet when he took notice of the hulking piece of metal, wielding a massive axe over his shoulder and a featureless helm that hid his entire head, making his way to the stables. There was no intention of sneaking up to the Lion Knight, quite the contrary, he wanted to be noticed! ”T’jours aussi mal élevé, vieux chat.” a thick accent accompanied this otherwise correct Parrench, one that none would recognize if the hadn’t ventured far north, ”J’dois t’apprendre les bonnes MANIÈRES!” raising his hand opposite of the one on his axe’s pole, he’d aim to descend it down upon Asier’s shoulder once close enough. This would break his arm if it actually hit, but both men knew how this would go down.

Asier grinned widely at the sound of the voice, as he seemed to duck his shoulder at the last moment, the use of the thunder gift making it look more effortless than it should have been as he slips out of the way seemingly for the display, “Merci, great one… but this camp cannot suffer too much after it has just been built. The foundations have shook, the womenfolk frightened, and the chickens have escaped the coop”. He takes an opportunity to circle around to gaze up into the featureless helmet of the goliath, showing that massive grin, “Manners maketh man… are we going to stand around all day, or are we going to fight?” The lion bares his claws as he tugs three throwing knives between his fingers.

The missed smack left quite the blast of air pressure in its wake. A light show of the Force magic Aheri could use with little to no effort. The wooden planks below were bent and dust accumulated in the air around them, ”HAH!” Arnaud was amused, ”I would say none is more mindful of manners than Ser Arnaud Maobe.” a few more titters came from his helmet that he’d then remove with both his hands, ”Although since you’re offering,” a bearded, long haired man with old, pale tattoos on his face emerged from this unveiling, although he lacked the piercings he once kept proudly on his features, ”I’d love nothing more than to clash again with the Southern Lion.” he smiled a toothy grin, although he didn’t have many teeth to begin with, ”It has been too long, Asier- No, Ser Arsling.” and with titles respected, he’d hold his axe once more and bang the pommel to the ground, causing some light and harmless seismic activity, ”His Majesty the King awaits you, Lion of Tourrare.”

Asier grabs hold of Aheri’s hand and pulls in him, as much as anyone could,“Vieux taureau hargneux”, gripping tight as he embraces him, the other hand smacking upon his back. “Too long, my brother. For now our fight must be put to rest till we have taken care of these Eskandr folk. Hope you won’t be dying on me, or will have to come and drag you out of the afterlife.”, he returns the five finger salute to signify receipt of the king’s commands. “Pardon, now must dress pretty for the King”.

For such a burly man to be taken into a brotherly embrace, one had to have courage. To have it reciprocated with a tap of his own on Asier’s back was tempting fate. The now jovial Arnaud returned the feelings abundantly, ”I am unkillable.” he boldly claims, ”Not even you could kill me.” he then takes a step back and sets the helmet back on, ”Let us meet the King with haste. The more dangerous-looking men around, the safer the boys in the brass feel.”



Now dressed in his blues, Asier made his way in time for the speech, nodding towards his fellow knights as he passed them. Some of these warriors have fierce reputations which rival or exceed his own, not backing out of using the opportunity to look out for these individuals for greetings on the way to their seat. He had a big interest in meeting Ser De Solenne, another ‘Man of Arcel’, not wanting to waste an opportunity to encounter him, though the reputation of the Paladin of Oraphe proceeds him too. He would go amiss with his daughter who insisted on him meeting Dame De la Saumure and take an opportunity to greet her, Maëlle latched onto those tales with fervour and passion, whilst he would prefer her to take after Lady Chalamet. He eventually settled into his seat for the prayers.


After a dutiful sign of the pentad after the prayers, he followed the others summoned to meet King Arcel at the gathered war council as he listened to the plans to battle the Eskandr at the beaches. It was a solid plan where lessons were learnt at Sarnia, a distastor, where the Parrench held themselves in the garrison as the Zuyr raiders were allowed to secure themselves a camp on the beach. As he examined the map, there was an opportunity which seemed not to have been exploited. “Lord King, if we quickly lead a small expeditionary force to the Cape here”, finger indicating Cape Redame, “We have a good opportunity to provide them a warm Parrench welcome before they reach our shores”. Asier stands up, indicating with his hands some urgency, “Pardon, now must prepare. Those willing, join on your horses shortly as we make great haste.” The Lion gives the five finger salute towards the King before parting, changing into his battlegear then riding out with two of his horses.





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Interacting with: King Arcel@Force and Fury Asier @Ti
Opportunity: Parrench-aligned Players - Potential travellers that have seen what Arnaud left in his travel to Relouse

Event: Defense of Relouse Location: Provincial Parrence


”Another! Another!”

The tavern of St. Jérôme-des-Voyons was bustling with joy. What was initially a grim arrival of the notorious royal executioner quickly turned into a fiesta overflowing with mead and women. Arnaud’s unique appearance to the Parrench did little to deter them from enjoying the evening– If anything, it got people even more interested in hearing what he had to tell. Some touched his hair, others tapped his belly (mostly women) and even some tried their luck in taking him in brutish games such as arm wrestling. They would all know defeat in the case of the latter. But the party went on, ending with once Zuyr King leaving at first daylight from a warm and populated bed.

Aheri had been making the voyage to Relouse on his lonesome, as he often did. Riding was nauseating and company tended to hamper his desires for exploration and hedonism. He moved on foot, at his own pace. Some days he would traverse miles without any effort under an hour, some others he kept a slow pace to just enjoy the beautiful day in the pastures of Parrence. Highwaymen and other bandits never dared to get in his way, for all knew what the Lion emblem and the featureless helm represented. Arnaud Maobe was the executioner because there was nothing he couldn’t slay.

What a curse it was. Little adversaries these day, no stupid kid to try his luck against the Aheri. He felt himself getting old, even with war on the horizon. Many will be after his life, a thrilling prospect to be sure, but he would no longer be the lord that presided over the battlefield, instead a tempest to wipe out the enemy of the one standing above him. It was as if the five Gods had heard him, as the dire state of Bérignac came to his attention. A lot of smoke coming from a nearby farming village. As a royal enforcer and anointed Knight, it was his duty to aid the people of Parrence, after all.

Had the five heard his plea? It was a raid from thieves. Petty pillagers taking advantage of the recalled soldiers that were being mobilised by the King. Arnaud, with his partially cleaned axe over her shoulder, calmly made his way into town. They were nine and the village’s men were either killed or crippled. Perfect. The hulking beast of a man stood quietly at the edge of town, staring down the gang, both hands wielding his axe.

”*Dites vos prières.” he took a singular step forward, his helm distorting his voice somewhat, ”Tenez près vos precieux souvenirs.” then a second step, the wrongdoers were sweating profusely, shouting various obscenities that fell in deaf ears, ”Et mourrez comme des hommes!” and then he lept in the air. The sun blurred his figure, and before they could see anything, his swirling axe landed onto not one, but two of them. One was essentially sliced in half by the blade, the other terminally wounded by the metal pole that collided with his torso.

Then he landed by his axe just as it hit the ground, obliterating a female of the group with his feet and pulling his weapon out. The simple act of whipping it out created a blast of air that’d pin two others against a stone wall. They were helpless to being cut down by a single swing of his axe. Only four left. One begged for mercy, and was met with the King’s justice. The penalty for thievery didn’t always entail death, but murder was on the table, even if this one didn’t directly do it. He was granted a swift decapitation. The last three built up the courage to fight, and behind his mask Aheri smiled. They stood no chance and were judged like all the others.

When the deed was done, Arnaud didn’t stay to help the villagers. He didn’t say another word. He merely cleaned his axe with one of his rags and then departed back on his journey to Relouse. His duty was fulfilled, the King’s Justice was delivered and peace returned to the people. Now they needed to fight to reclaim what was lost by the will of the Gods.


Location: Relouse Encampment


When Arnaud arrived at the camp, things had already been set in motion. Not everything was set up just yet, but enough was done to avoid having to need his assistance for anything. He knew what he had to do, though, as he would be one of those spearheading the defensive manoeuvres and counter-attacks against the Eskandish menace. From his own experience as a Northern raider and the suffering Parrence had previously experienced from attacks from the South, Arnaud understood how to prepare a battlefield.

The sand dunes of the beaches were to be turned into death traps. Unstable patches of quicksand that would swallow up fodder with precious seismic strikes from his stomps or axe. Some holes would be tombs for enemies, some others basins separated from the sea where Thunder mages could quickly cook entire groups in a matter of seconds. And of course Arnaud himself found the best vantage point he could find to not only send concentrated Force waves onto incoming ships, but also create gusts of winds to slow and halt the downpour of arrows.

With most of the setup involving his own abilities ready, it was time for Arnaud to attend the King’s speech, although not before sniffing out a certain misfit old feline among the brass …




His place was not by the King, nor was it among the many men conscripted to give their lives to the people. It was further back, among many King’s Guards. It made sense, as the King’s executioner and an iconic figure that flexed the might of Perrance. They had such a massive and scary man in their ranks, how could they possibly lose? He remained unmoving during the whole speech, shouting a powerful ‘Amen’ came from him.

When the time came for praying, he too got down and on one knee. The prayer had a particularly martial tune to it, and with each beckon to a specific God, Arnaud hit the pommel of his upright axe against the ground, causing a controlled and long-reaching echo to reverberate throughout the entirety of the forces. They could ‘feel’ the Pentad reaching into them, in a way.

”Amen!” he said right after the queen. The formalities were done, and now the big players gathered, with Asier being one to take the initiative. The massive Zuyr chuckled, ”**Un lion rusé.” he had removed his helm the moment he had entered the council, ”The preparations on shores are mostly complete. It will be difficult for them to secure entry point should we keep control of the terrain.” he spoke with his usual, thick accent and somewhat still broken Avincian, ”Have we got new word from our scouts and infiltrators?”

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Introduction:
Remembering St. Ascelina
(Present Day)




Time: Early Morning, Location: Ruined monastery of St. Ascelina after the defense of Vitroux
Mood: Dust and Light
Current Event: Defense of Relouse




“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of Oraphe. Consider deeply their fate, their way of life, and imitate their faith.”
The Book of Carnest, 3:11


Six heavy feet silenced by mossy-covered grounds. The monastery of St. Ascelina extended security to all those who’d come to find refuge within its rib cage made of stone. However, the ruins of St. Ascelina only saw wild growth, rain, and the skittering of creatures who chose this place to be their home. A 100-year monastery, torched and marred by the Eskandr savages who believed in lying gods, and fairy tales. Three men stood at the East side of the monastery, each with their eyes on the elevated stone circular platform that once held the book of Oraphe on an altar for all to read the daily prayer. Now, dust where the monuments of St. Ascelina. And, the light was the memories of those beloved souls who once called this monastery home.

Each man took their steps from one another to triangulate the spot where the altar once stood, each man taking their knee to give thanks to Oraphe and open the door to allow Oraphe’s will to show them their path with clear eyes. They bowed their heads, closed their eyes, and knelt in silence as the visions of their history spoke to each man’s purpose. Their reason to fight what comes next.




Chapter I:
Calm Before the Storm
(Memory)




Time: Morning, Location: Monastery of St. Ascelina before the defense of Vitroux
Mood: Be Brave
Current Event: Defense of Relouse




The sun of Vitroux was kidnapped behind the dark heavy band of clouds above. There would be no light for Vitroux on this day, no warmth, no overhead protection. On an open hillside, three miles West of Vitroux, a monastery named after Saint Ascelina managed by the Brothers of the Unconquered Sun, was becoming occupied by peasants, local militia, and city dwellers. The monastery was always open to those who observed and practiced the Quentic faith, but today, today was not a matter of observation or practice, it was a day of asking Oraphe for protection. In and out people paid their respects to the daily prayer, words to help soothe the soul. A hulking-sized man nearly ducking to miss his head from hitting the top frame of the monastery door stepped out of the monastery’s shade. He approached another man who sat on a rock fastening small plates of armor to his body and wrapping the last line of leather around his guard.

The giant spoke, “Are you ready, Caelum?” Intimidating to his enemies, and soft to his friends. His enormous shadow cast over Caelum prompting Caelum to stop. Caelum looked up to his Brother-at-Arms, “Is that really a question, Oleric?” Oleric’s broad shoulders relaxed while supporting his thick neck that appeared to support the weight of a dragon’s head, “Yes.”

Paladins were not known for their light personalities. Most of their training involved a heavy indoctrination against fighting corruption and losing their closest relationships to tragedy and purpose. This did not mean the emotions shared deeply between these two men did not tether their souls from two to one. When one felt pain, the other felt it too, and when one felt unease, the other could sense it.

“Are you sure this question is for me Oleric?” The titan stepped to the side of Caelum and joined him on the large rock, “Something is different about today, I feel it.” Oleric’s admittance took Caelum slightly by surprise, he had never known Oleric to not stand confidently in the face of battle, “What feels different?” Caelum questioned.

Oleric took a deep breath and exhaled, “We are missing something, I do not think this is a typical Eskandr force, but I can’t put my finger on why.” Caelum turned his head to face Oleric, “Is Oraphe speaking to you?” Oleric shrugged, “I do not know.” There was no time to figure it out. Caelum finished fastening his gear to his body.

“Oleric my friend! No matter the boiling in your belly, we will prevail over the southern heathens, and you will without a doubt protect us as Oleric the Titan has succeeded to do since I became a Paladin of the Unconquered Sun!” Caelum praised, it was an attempt to raise the spirit within Oleric through admiration of his ability and previous good works, a reminder of who’s flesh he was wielding. Oleric, a modest titan, brushed off the praise, “No, it is good we have Oraphe’s will to protect us.” Caelum respected the re-direction, “Yes brother, may Oraphe keep you.” Oleric nodded back, “May Oraphe keep you.”

Caelum turned to face the monastery entrance. Forward into the main chamber, he entered. Symbology of Oraphe decorated the walls, while candles burned strong on both ends of the hall filling the room with an aroma befitting of Oraphe’s Kingdom. Caelum continued into the monastery’s embrace until he met an elevated circular stone platform, at the center was a stone altar of Oraphe extending his arms up which held the Book of Oraphe. The St. Ascelina monastery always had the Book of Oraphe opened to the page of the day’s daily prayer.

Caelum - like those before him today - walked up to the altar and read from the book,

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of Oraphe,
will rest in the shadow of Pentad,
I will say of Oraphe, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my god, in whom I trust.”
In your protection, prepare my hands to protect.
In your steward, prepare my feet to follow.
In your name, prepare my mind to see right.
In your love, prepare my heart to rest.”


Caelum finished his reading, exited the monastery, and met Oleric standing outside waiting with two horses in hand.




Chapter II:
Defense of Vitroux
(Memory)




Time: Mid-day, Location: The bridge of Aix-en-Vitroux
Mood: Batten the Hatches
Current Event: Defense of Vitroux




Sharp drops of rain fell from the dark gloom above cutting through any hope of light. Caelum, Oleric, and the defense force of Vitroux stood boldly across the Aix-en-Vitroux bridge where a building power of Eskandr savages gathered. Caelum’s face guard was up revealing clean white eyes behind the lid of his helmet, if one watched Caelum long enough, one might see his cheekbones under the lightning shatters above. Thunderous raptures cracked through the heavy rainfall, and each man who stood on the bridge gripped tightly to their weapon of choice. Hell had arrived, and it came with an army.

Oleric broke the silence between Caelum, jabbing Caelum in the shoulder with his elbow, “Your kind of weather, eh, Brother?” The height of Oleric was two feet above Caelum’s, if Caelum had jabbed back, his elbow would have simply crunched into Oleric’s rib. Oleric referred to Caelum’s natural affinity to thunder. He was a thunder child who had been trained extensively by the Unconquered Sun to harness and forge his natural talent into something devastating. A strategy that was wise, but one Caelum still had not yet reached the limitations of. His abilities continued to grow as he continued to push his ideas of what was possible.

“It certainly appears that Oraphe chose the right element for me but I cannot agree that it is favored by the rest of our men. Fighting on a bridge against Eskandr is difficult enough, to do so with slippery footing and a deafening sound from above only hinders our defense.” Caelum paused and then continued, “Not to mention, these Eskandr will have thunder children of their own.” Oleric laughed, “You may be right, but none of them possess the strength of Oleric the Titan and the might of Caelum the Rambunctious!” Caelum turned his head and laughed with Oleric. The title was a call back to Caelum’s and Oleric’s time together at the monastery in Solenne. A name that followed him in punishment and praise.

The beating of shields broke the moment of camaraderie between Caelum and Oleric as Eskandr began to form and move.

“It looks like they are up to something, what do you think Caelum?” Before Caelum responded, the news broke to the front that Eskandr forces had rallied behind their flank. The countryside was being torn apart as the defense of Vitroux was about to begin.

No. Caelum thought. The odds of Vitroux standing against two fronts greatly reduced his confidence. The defense of Vitroux had to split their forces to meet the other Eskandr group in the rear. The only reason Vitroux stood advantageous was because of the bottleneck that narrowed the size of the Eskandr forces. Caelum and Oleric clinched their blades as the Eskandr formation broke into a sprint toward their position, these bastards were waiting for the flank hit us first.

“Prepare our defenses!” Shouted the commanding officer of Parrence. The men of Parrence lined up on the bridge as the Eskandr crossed it, “Wait until you see the white in their eyes!” A command was given by the commanding officer as spears lay down in front of each soldier readied at the front. The Eskandr about to smash into the first line were instead abruptly and surprisingly met by those spears, “Lift!” The commanding officer yelled, each soldier in the front dropped their bodies to pick up the spears creating a spear wall that Eskandrs had no choice but to run through as momentum carried their invading force forward. The commanding officer yelled again, “Hold!” The defense of Vitroux started.

Shortly after the first half-hour of engagement, Eskandr began breaking through the second line. The first line fought with shields and swords but reduced in number quickly, the second line using axes and whatever they could get their hands on were still holding strong with some Eskandr trickling through, and the third line, or rather, the third group was there to immediately swallow up any that passed through. Caelum and Oleric were fighting at the second line with their swords in hand.

The sounds of searing flesh and bones breaking echoed on the bridge as did the clash of steel against steel. Armor took dents, swords chipped, and helmets broke. Jaws dislodged, ribs pierced, and men cried for the comfort of their homes. Hell gnashed and heaven roared.

Oleric cut down an Eskandr with a great lofty swing of his sword, “Caelum!” Oleric’s attention was caught by a massing group of ridiculous-looking pagan priests directly across the river, adjacent to his location on the bridge. Oleric yelled again, “Look!” He pointed to the group for Caelum to spot. Caelum's offensive front kicked an Eskandr in the gut which forced the Eskandr to bend forward after impact. Caelum with one fluid motion cut upward which broke the jaw and orbital bones of the Eskandr’s face like an uppercut of a boxer, except his blade took a chunk out of the Eskandr’s head.

Caelum heard Oleric call and he looked to see where he was pointing to after finishing his counter against the berserk. Caelum saw across the water a formation of shamans gathering energy, we are going to be overrun, Caelum said to himself.

There was only one other time he had ever seen a group of shamans ritualistically “getting off” on each other’s worship, it was when he saw a large transmutation of blood into physical objects.

Caelum shouted to Oleric, “They are going to build something to cross!” Oleric twisted the neck of another unfortunate Eskandr savage and then marched his way toward Caelum. Another Eskandr fell in between his line of sight and with one swoop of his guard, the iron that protected his hand was now used as a pick that bashed the skull of Eskandr to bits. Reaching Caelum’s position he asked Caelum, “What do we do?” Caelum drew his blade from the guts of an Eskandr and replied, “We need to stop them with casters.” Caelum and Oleric fought their way through as more Eskandr broke through the first and now the second line. The third began to harden up as the last line before the city would become the next stage of the battlefield.

The two reached the commanding officer who was managing both the bridge, reports from Eskandr in the city, and reports from the other division engaging the Eskandr in the East. Caelum addressed the officer, “Sir! We need more Gifted to focus their attacks on those shamans across the river!” The commanding officer paused his delegation to a messenger, “Why?” The officer asked. Caelum responded, “Because if we don’t, they are going to build something that allows more Eskandr to cross.” The officer thought back, “Like a bridge?” Caelum nodded, “Yes.” The two of them stared at each other for a moment as the sound of rain beating off their armor filled in the silence.

“I have no one to spare, the Eskandr tricked us into believing this was their only attack, they let off some other forces down the river to flank us. We divided our casters to meet them in the East, and we are up against Eskandrs who are getting through the bridge and into the city. I am sorry.” The officer stated frustratingly.

Caelum’s heart sank, the situation was worse than he thought, “May Oraphe keep you!” Caelum said as an acknowledgment of the officer’s will to keep trying. The officer replied, “And you Paladin!” Caelum walked back to Oleric, “Well?” Oleric asked. Caelum shook his head, “It’s up to us brother, there is no one to spare.” Oleric nodded, “What is the plan?” Thunder cracked overhead, deafening the clashing of steel for seconds. Caelum looked up and answered, “That.” Oleric confused looked up and only saw rain and clouds, “What?” Caelum looked at Oleric, “I need you to protect me, I won’t be able to do this without you keeping me from getting my concentration broken.” Oleric laughed, “Brother, you have always needed my protection.” Caelum smirked, “And here I believed that I was the one protecting you.” Oleric shook his head, “You never were one to put aside your dreams and I was never one to ruin them for you.” Both broke out into laughter.

The bond between them was stronger than the losses in this fight, and without their bond, the two would have gone mad ages ago.

Caelum accepted Oleric’s stance as the protector, “Well, big brother show me the truth because where I am about to position myself is going to make you Vitroux’s legend if we survive.” Oleric grinned, “Let’s go.” Caelum took off toward the bridge, he was positioned on the edge of the river 30 yards from the mouth of the bridge, directly across the blood shaman summoning. Oleric set up a defensive stance to take out Eskandr that broke through the third line and tried to attack Caelum.

“Remind me of the plan?” Oleric asked. Caelum looked up into the thundering sky, “That is the plan.” Once again leaving Oleric with no definitive idea of what Caelum’s intentions were. He assumed thunder would play a role since that was Caelum’s school.

The rain continued to beat on the armor, loosen the dirt, and raise the river by inches. Oleric watched as thunder snapped across the dark heavy clouds, “What do you intend to do with it?” Caelum pointed at the shaman again, “I intend to give the shaman a bridge, but not the one they are looking for!”

Caelum raised his sword up as more thunder cracked, and then again, and again. The intervals between each thundering crack shortened if one paid close enough attention. Caelum could see through the heavy clouds clearly where the thunder broke sound, and where the branches of lightning shattered across the heavens. A sight he praised Oraphe for as it allowed him to focus intently on the energy he needed to attract.

The line broke, and Eskandr poured as Parrence soldiers holding the back tried stepping up to close the gaps. There were too many. Oleric yelled, “Caelum! Whatever you are going to do, do it now!” The shamans began transmuting the beginnings of a bridge across the river from where Caelum and Oleric were positioned.

Caelum was halfway to his benchmark based on how much energy he wanted to transfer across this river. The cracking and shattering of thunder and lightning became so loud that the battlefield had a hard time exchanging steel. Fighters on both sides were losing their balance, some falling into the river, and others unable to move at all. Caelum was drawing in all of the thunder and lightning he could to the bridge, before…he let it all go.

Caelum’s eyes rolled back as his vision became almost ethereal in essence. He could see light without texture, a direct link to the energy he drew in. As soon as he felt the immeasurable intensity of what started from outside of him was now within him. It demanded a target, and Caelum asked, a little longer…

More thunder and force drew into Caelum’s body. Oleric took a cut to the thigh as he cleaved his great sword across three Eskandrs trying to take their position. He decapitated another and stabbed through a fifth. As Oleric pulled his blade out, a sixth Eskandr thrust their blade into Oleric’s shoulder rendering his right arm to drop. His two-handed great sword became useless, “Caelum!” He roared.

Now…

The most chaotic lightning bolt struck Caelum’s blade and charged his entire being. A feeling Caelum would never find words to describe. Upon impact, a shock wave emerged around Caelum’s center line to about 15 meters in diameter. Oleric and Eskandr were all tossed into the air. The water line to the river where Caelum stood evaporated, and Caelum pushed all of this energy toward the shaman across the river. A chaotic, yet the consistent stream of lightning arched across the water as smaller branches of electricity dispersed connecting along the surface of the river. The end of the lightning strike hit the center of the ground breaking into several charges that exploded the earth below. The lightning struck the shaman, tossed debris up, and some currents chained across the ranks because of the water falling everywhere from the rain. Eskandr shaman and warriors were either badly burnt, seizing up, or their very hearts stopped beating.

The enormous gravity of the lightning beam from the heavens, the deafening sound, and the seismic shock wave had stopped the battlefield in its tracks for minutes. There was no eye in sight that was not affected by the intensity of visual effects that Caelum induced onto the battlefield. This pause however only lasted briefly as the orientation of everyone’s minds was recaptured.

Caelum dropped to one knee as his blade became a crutch to hold his body up, “Did we get them Oleric?” Caelum asked as he tried catching his breath, but Oleric did not respond, “Oleric?” A sudden shot of adrenaline perked Caelum up as dark thoughts of his friend dying entered his head. He looked up to see Oleric had been launched 20 feet from where he was supposed to be standing.

Caelum picked himself up and walked to Oleric, “Brother! Are you ok?” He peeled Oleric over to his side, Oleric coughed up air, and tried to catch his breath. Caelum had only knocked the wind out of him, “Hey, Brother are you with me?” Oleric shook his head a little while laying on his side, “Y- Ye- Yeah, what happened?” Oleric asked. Caelum answered, “I am sorry, I must have caused some sort of blast around me, I guess I did not realize how much I drew in.” Oleric was now on all fours still coughing, but finding his sight to be right side up, “Next time, just give me a heads up.” Caelum agreed, “Will do.” Oleric then asked, “Did we get them?”

Caelum looked across the river, the group of shamans was decimated, but a new group was already filling their place. Then, the order was given immediately as Caelum realized what he did was no match for what had already happened.

“Retreat! Fall back!” The commanding officer yelled after spotting several blood bridges forming on the other side of the bridge. The group Caelum had struck was one of many, there were too many to defend Vitroux.

Caelum and Oleric dashed into the city of Vitroux, and small fights broke out at different intersections as Parrence forces navigated to get out, and Eskandr forces navigated to get in. The two would find a few skirmishes between Eskandr and their Parrench countrymen before reaching the gate that led West to safety. Approaching the door, the rain began to stop.

“Damn,” Caelum said as Oleric and he made it to the gate. Without rain, the city will burn.

“Do we stand here Caelum?” Oleric asked. “Until the last man is out,” Caelum answered.

The roaring Eskandr brutes grew louder as their distance closed. Clashing of steel began to die down, and all that remained were seven Parrence soldiers running around the corner of a building directly across from Caelum and Oleric. One of the soldiers yelled, “RUN! THEY ARE HERE!” The soldiers moved as fast as their will could carry them.

Caelum and Oleric dropped into their fighting stance. But, Oleric looked awkward as his one hand tried holding his two-handed great sword. His injured shoulder would not allow him to raise his own blade, but he had a plan. The first visible arm and head of an Eskandr savage rounded the corner of the same building following the soldiers. Where one Eskandr appeared, a wave appeared thereafter. The last Parrench soldier escaped, Oleric looked at Caelum asking, “Ready?”

Caelum nodded, “blind them all!” Oleric stepped out from his position and twisted his body, pivoting his feet to create a centrifugal force with his greatsword. He charged the greatsword with Arcane magic and made several turns with his body like a shot-putter. Releasing the great sword up into the sky, the charge blew the sword up into a blinding light that stopped any Eskandrs from advancing. Oleric and Caelum took this opportunity to slip out of the gate, snatch their two horses waiting outside, and make their escape to St. Ascelina.




Chapter III:
Fall of St. Ascelina

(Memory)




Time: Late Afternoon, Location: Monastery of St. Ascelina
Mood: It's Happening Again
Current Event: Defense of Vitroux




Arriving at St. Ascelina the scene was grimacing. People from all walks of Parrence who acted in defense of Vitroux or lived there were faced with the harsh reality of losing husbands, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters. The monastery was overcrowded and the wounded were triaged on whatever ground they could find outside. The monks and nuns of St. Ascelina did their best to mend the wounds using Blood and Arcane arts to either coagulate the blood, move it to keep it pumping, or cauterize wounds.

Caelum dismounted at the entrance of St. Ascelina where the Prior stood, “Prior De Paun, we need to get you and the others to safety.” The Prior finished mending a poor young girl with her mother next to her. He stood up motioning for Caelum to follow him slightly further away from the family, “I cannot go, but take those who are able to walk under their own weight, the rest I will comfort until Oraphe comes to meet us.” Caelum was not about to listen to the Prior surrender, “What are you saying, we can get everyone to safety if we get them up now.” The Prior without missing a beat in his temperance, “Nervous child of Solenne, Paladin of the Unconquered Sun, Son of Oraphe, Caelum, there is no time…Oraphe has chosen those of us to stay and meet him, and he has chosen those who will continue our memories through their words.” The Prior placed his hand on Caelum’s shoulder, “You must protect those who can be protected, leave the rest to me, please.”

Caelum swallowed his pride. He wanted to save them all. He believed he was capable of it, but he also knew the likely hood of succeeding was greatly reduced if he were to try to take the people who could not walk on their own. Caelum nodded to the Prior, “As you wish.” Deep down Caelum felt the truth if he had denied the wishes of the Prior. At least this path gave those able a chance.

Caelum mounted his horse and rode back to Oleric, who asked, “What did he the Prior say?”

Caelum replied, “The Prior is not leaving, there are too many who are badly injured that cannot be saved. He has ordered us to protect those who are able, and he will comfort those who are not until Oraphe comes to meet them.” Oleric bit his lips, “Damn. It was not supposed to be like this!” Oleric’s fist pounded his armor plate protecting his good thigh.

“I am sorry Oleric, we need to go round up the able men, women, and children. We need to get them moving now.” The two fell silent.

Moments later after rallying the able bodies, Oleric and Caelum tallied them up. Oleric gave the command for them to begin their march, and the Prior came out of St. Ascelnia to bless the two before their journey.

“Thank Oraphe for both of you, please, get them to Relouse safely. I have sent word to the monastery of Solenne, which will effectively begin the organization of our entire order. When you arrive in Relouse, find Prior Maris -” Caelum interrupted, “Maris of Viennes?” Prior De Paun answered, “Yes, he is Prior Maris of Relouse, tell him what has happened, let us pray.” The three bowed their heads, as the Prior began a sharp sound bit through the silence. Caelum and Oleric opened their eyes to see the Prior drop to the floor by an arrow.

“ESKANDR!” Caelum yelled as he looked at the tree line slightly below the open hillside from where the monastery rested. The caravan of abled bodies had already started to move forward, but the men in the back could see and hear the immediate commotion. They shouted forward, “DEFEND THE REAR! DEFEND THE WOMAN AND CHILDREN!” Caelum helped ease Prior De Paun onto the soft ground. The Prior clasped Caelum’s hands as he choked on blood from internal puncturing, Caelum looking into his eyes, “May Oraphe keep you.” The Prior’s struggle drained quickly as his eyes closed into the afterlife.

The men of the caravan began loosely forming a defensive position as Eskandr started to flood from out of the tree line East of St. Ascelina. Caelum and Oleric turned to their horses, mounting up Oleric unsheathed his falchion while Caelum drew his long sword. The men of the caravan met the steel of the Eskandr in the middle of the hillside, 1/4 distance from the monastery and the tree line. Caelum and Oleric rode forward charging Eskandr savages, using force magic to throw them back. Arrows tried taking down Caelum and Oleric, but to no avail, as both used their magic to glance or deflect.

Then…an explosion came out of nowhere. Caelum watched as Oleric fell from his steed to the ground below. Scanning the area to see where the explosion came from, he saw a woman who looked to be dressed in a different wardrobe than the rest of her Eskandr horde. She seemed to be more, important. Caelum having a snapshot her face in his memory palace, could not afford to charge her. He needed to save Oleric. He reigned his horse toward Oleric’s dropped position, using his force magic he tossed Eskandr out of his way while pulling Oleric’s heavy body up on the back of his steed.

Caelum continued his horse's momentum out of the fight to the furthest end West where another tree line was. Caelum placed Oleric’s body against a tree only to realize his friend was not well.

His left arm was gone and below his rips were signs of burning. The explosion had torn Oleric’s body up to the point where Caelum tried using his clerical healing abilities, but to no avail. Oleric coughing up blood knew this was his time, “Take my sword and my armor, put it to better use than I, and remember . . . Oraphe's will." Oleric reached up with his injured arm and unsnapped the leather to give himself space to breathe. Caelum’s heartbeat stopped, he could not believe what he was witnessing. Oleric was his Brother, his companion, his best friend. They had been together since their first assignments as Paladins of the Brotherhood. They had marched against Eskandr, bandits, and enemies of Oraphe time and time again. They had met in the monasteries of old and new across Parrence, Avince, Drudgun, and the lands of Eskand itself. This was a man who taught him how to wield a heavy blade as if it were a needle, the man who saved his life several times over, a man who could no longer pick up his weight, a man ready to meet Oraphe.

Oleric held out his falchion as best he could in his lump state leaning up against a rock, “Please.” Caelum stretched out his hand to clasp the falchion. Oleric let it go and wrapped his palm around Caelum’s, “You can’t save the monastery, you mu-” cough “go to Relouse, stand there…for all of us who meet Oraphe today…” Caelum looked into Oleric’s eyes. Caelum reached to take Oleric’s helmet, unsnapped various buckles, and stripped him of the heavy armor he had worn. Caelum tossed it on the back of his horse, looked back at Oleric, and then heard the screams from inside the monastery. The defense of Vitroux and St. Ascelina was over. Caelum swallowed his wrath churning like a hot forge inside his belly.

He wanted to charge. He knew he couldn’t, it would be futile. After deciding the best thing to do was to protect those who fled, he went to approach Oleric, “I am not leaving without you.” Oleric mustered just enough strength to retort, “My dead weight will slow your horse, go, do not rob me of this meeting with Oraphe.” Oleric wanted to stay. He could feel this was his time, he would never make it to Relouse alive, he could with his few remaining breaths, buy Caelum and the others time, “Go!” Oleric yelled before coughing up blood.

“Damn Oleric, may Oraphe keep you,” Caelum said acknowledging Oleric’s wishes.

“You too my Brother.” Oleric took every bit of his power to roll to one side, he wanted to face the first Eskandr who’d be trotting to join Oleric in the death.

Caelum turned, mounting his horse, a quick kick to the horse's side and he was off toward Relouse. He would travel on the horse for 3 km before the place where Caelum left Oleric erupted in flames. There was no doubt in Caelum’s mind that Oleric used his Essence and Arcane magic to create an explosion that snatched the life of not only himself but the Eskandr who were sent to finish the job. A clean tear slipped down Caelum’s cheek clearing a path on his dirt-covered face.

“You will be missed, Brother…” Caelum said under his breath as he replayed the face of the berserker who struck him down. The pattering of the horse's hooves was all that was left of the day’s sounds as Caelum rode to meet the refugees heading West to Relouse.




Chapter IV:
Oraphe's Will

(Present)




Interactions: @Ti, Time: Early Morning, Location: The ruined monastery of St. Ascelina
Mood: United
Current Event: Defense of Relouse




The three men opened their eyes. One stood up, “For all those who found Oraphe here in St. Ascelina’s monastery, given no quarter, no last rites, may we honor their names.” The next man stood up, “For the Prior and the clerics who risked their lives to save all they could, may we honor their names.” The third stood up, “For Oleric.” The other two nodded, “For Oleric!” The third man who stood up reached to pull his hood off his head and reveal his face to the other two, “For Oraphe’s will!” Caelum shouted. Dieudonne and Matheios, recent Paladin graduates of the Unconquered Sun also shouted, “For Oraphe’s will!”

“Alright, let us get back to Relouse,” Caelum commanded. The three turned to face the exit of the ruined monastery. Broken glass, charred seats, and breaking stone with moss-covered grounds. What was left of St. Ascelina was only in the memories of those who saw it before its last days.

The ride to Relouse was not far, the three would arrive at the camp before prayer. Taking their respective places within the camp to hear King Arcel and Lady Eleanor provide their words as comfort to the army gathered here today. The end of their prayer, the sign of the Pentad was made across the spectrum of people who believed in the Pentad. Caelum was one, devoted to faith, he respected the King and Queen for their public show of faith. It was an added bonus to his already passionate fervor to serve his Brothers and Oraphe.

Upon the prayer’s closing, Caelum followed those summoned to meet with King Arcel. The map and minature figurines symbolizing all the players on the field were present. The war council spoke of what was to come and a Tourrare-looking man stood out to give his idea momentum, an idea to push Cape Redame with a small expeditionary force. Caelum contemplated, a pre-emptive strike at the longships. Risky in that if they were spotted before they could set up, it could turn into a blood bath favoring the Eskandr. The Tourrare left with urgency, but not before his respects were paid to King Arcel with a salute.

Caelum pondered, the tradition of his countrymen were odd, yet familiar. A Brother does not salute another Brother, he clasps his hands as if to pray to show his respect to Oraphe’s creation and not the man himself. The way of the political road was different than that within the religious orders. Two worlds are required to dance together, but never truly unionizing as one, only ever in faith, where both can agree to a higher judgment.

When the King dismissed the war council, Caelum made his way to Mathieos and Dieudonne who were tending to the horses before combat.

“What is the plan Brother Caelum?” Mathieos asked earnestly.

“I think we will join in the pre-emptive strike at Cape Redame, I need to speak to the Tourrare, who I believe is one of the King’s commanders.” Caelum paused, then continued, “Are the horses ready?” Dieudonne nodded, “Yes, they are ready to crush Eskandr bone.” Caelum nodded, “Good, then let us meet the Tourrare.” The three crossed camp, with a little direction from other soldiers, Caelum, and his men found the gathering of the expeditionary force.

Caelum walked his horse up to the Tourrare, it was not difficult to spot him with his distinct steppe features. Unfortunately, Caelum could not recall any stories of this man. The Brotherhood kept him limited in the tongues that spread the legends of Parrence, ears for only Oraphe, were preached. He gathered the man's name from the soldiers in camp when he asked who was leading the expeditionary force, Asier, was the name. But having never seen Asier, Caelum guessed, it was the man who laid out the plans in the war council. The Tourrare he now approached who appeared to be preparing the expeditionary force for launch, “Are you called Asier?” Caelum paused. “My name is Caelum of Oraphe, this is Mathieos and Dieudonne of Vitroux, we wish to support the expeditionary force.”

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Weeks prior...
Event: - | Location: Anonymous location in Parrence, at the edge of a small forest

A mild cough escaped the Yasoi's body as a wisp of smoke introduced the acrid smell of burnt flesh into the man's nose. An agressive something was in the air, a gaseous aberration that would be identified as 'ozone' only some day in the future maybe, but that irritated Otios's poor eyes badly right now already. The latter also had to withstand the steady, unpredictable and sudden changes between the weak amount of light coming from a few candles and the violent, bright flashes caused by the discharges around his hand.

Drawing on parchment not by the means of ink and dye, but by means of scorching the surface layer using a spark was a quite monochromatic affair, but also a much longer lasting and robust one as Otios hoped. No messing around with colored glop, no worries about things becoming wet, no need to keep a lavish set of pencils, brushes and palettes in working order. A small copper needle was all he needed to go in an ad hoc manner -- and a lot of patience as emulating shades by burning a dense net of criss-crossed lines into the parchment required a very calm, steady hand.

There just was one slight issue... Otios'yyia'thala so far had not much reason to consider himself to be a man particularly talented in creating art. In fact, the drawing he created right now solely served the purpose of hashing out this electric method further and he was not even into the first dozen of these attempts, so even without considering the artistic value of his creation there still were a few significant issues to iron out. Yet another wisp of ugly smoke emanating from the parchment, for example. Too much current or too slow movement caused local overheating and unwanted incineration the Yasoi needed to put out immediately, so Otios pressed his palm firmly against the parchment repeatedly.

Knock. Knock.

His whole body twitched in surprise as the unmistakable sound of someone requesting entry into his humble dwelling place was to be heard. His field of view rushed towards the messy heap of items that was his basic equipment always ready to be picked up in a hurry, but he still had time to evaluate a few things before jumping into action, right ?

Knock. Knock. Knock.

Far too strong and decisive to come from a mere stranger who was in fear of bad weather and tried to ask for shelter politely, but also lacking the kind of aggression that would come from a soldier wanting to catch yet another wrongdoer. Otios reached for one of his silver staffs and moved his hand so it would hide the item in its grip from the individual standing outside once the door was open, then moved the heavy bar out of its locking position.

"Yes ?" Otios was used to stare into the void when searching for a face on eye level, but surprised that he did not have to crane his neck downwards that much. His unexpected visitor had the height of his own kind, just the opposite gender, and brought up a slight and also slightly nervous smile for him.

"Are you Otios'... Thala ?" her gentle voice asked.

"Otios'yyia'thala, but you can just call me Otios. May I ask who you are and what brings you here ?" Part of his anxiety about having been discovered by the wrong people vanished, but caution remained. She obviously was not a soldier and he had only seen a surprisingly low number of those around the area in the first place recently, but he also knew all too well that one did not need arms to do harm in this world.

"Voral'dan'bar. Lady Talit sends me. Well, not directly, but I've been tasked with contacting you in the broader sense. You don't know her probably, but I'm here to convince you that this unfamiliarity shall only be a temporary one. War is on the horizon and while the Yasoi are not the direct target it is in our own interest to make sure we won't be the next."

Otios gave his eyebrow a nudge in the upwards direction. A quite daring story to be utter nonsense, was it ? Also it did not slip past his attention that Voral was already fumbling around with what seemed to be a piece of parchment hidden beneath her travel clothes. The large wax sigil on it looked quite important, but who'd he be if he had not tried to fake one of these himself at least once ?

"The next ? On whose list ?"

"Eskandr."

Otios let go of a sigh. These humans...


Present
Event: Defense of Relouse | Location: Relouse Encampment, Parrence.

It had taken quite a bit more effort to convince Otios than just a short talk at the door, but the overall evidence and flanking arguments presented by Voral'dan'bar had been a bit too impressive to ignore. Just how this female had made allusions about his more serious hobbies than drawing however was a discomforting feeling. How could she have gotten to know ? So it had been with great relief when the Yasoi had seenthe huge number of soldiers, the cavalry and the many other individuals needed for waging war himself. Something very important and high level indeed had to go on when a crowd impressive enough to make even him no longer stick out of it gathered, so maybe some very serious resources and relationships had been activated to find him. It made the very fact of his discovery a bit more excusable in his own judgement

If only a similar amount of effort had gone into establishing a Yasoi-driven supply chain however then maybe he would not have had to stick with those standard issue tents of the human army! Their supporting poles and bars were a pain in his neck or on his scalp, depending on how lucky and attentive he was. Needless to add that some of the non-Yasoi men and woman had openly voiced their jokes about someone's inability to infiltrate if said somebody exhibited such great talent at involuntary collisions.

This whole, yet green field would become the stage for one colossal and no less horrid 'involuntary collision'! At least if one was with Parrench. For those opposing them it was more of a planned calamity and things did not look good in terms of espionage as long as those thousand longships had not spilled their angry cargo yet. One could not just climb aboard a moving vessel and search it thoroughly just moments before it was about to hit the shore!

So, for the moment, Otios found himself idling around at the top of a small hill together with a bunch of archers and listened to the king's speech, already fearing that the only thing he'd steal today was life itself.
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A Lowly Wretch The Listless Loiterer

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Nettle



Such a strange, frightening world that laid beyond the mire. There she sat, hands cuffed in metal with all her belongings save her robe stripped from her. Her cell was closely guarded, not that she was able to cast much without her tools let alone with her hands bound. What little she could do wouldn't help here. She was stuck.

In her misery she sat until the rough two-legged beasts threw open the hatch on this underground cage. They came clad in strange hides and metal scales bound together with leather.

"Up, you ??? ???, Time to stand before the ???!" The man beast barked at her. She recoiled slightly from the unpleasant thing but it reached down and lifted her up from the ground, dragging her with all the grace a Rodent of Unusual Size drags it's fallen prey back to it's burrow. She walked if only so that she wouldn't be dragged as their grip hurt her thin arm enough as it was.

It was a strange world. The building was a mix of grandeur and stuffy, illogical designs. It was like an elaborate cave, such a hut made of so much stone. It held many strange hides dyed many colors to form pictures of many sorts. These hides weren't like any she was familiar with.

The people themselves were a strange bunch too. They all looked very similar with what hides they adorned themselves with along with many different stones, some which glitter. Though they all dressed in one or two similar manners they came in many different shapes and sizes too. It was the one thing that reminded her of her siblings back in the shadowy swamps. No two really looked the same beneath all these bright, threatening patterns. With how fat many of them were she was reminded of the more dangerous caterpillars to call her swamp home.

_
There she stood, wrists dragged low by her heavy manacles giving her a hunched down posture as this Kang loomed over her short little body. Her large, wary eyes peered up through her mop of messy mossy hair at the imposing figure before her.

"Hhhh... Hhapologhees. I hh I hapohligize. Hno Punhish plhease. Pahy? Hhh, I p-pahy. J-just nho punhish."
*
Her voice was wispy, breathy and light. Her accent was thick, drawing out words creating strange pronunciations. She seemed fairly confused in general but especially in regards to payment. She was never taught the arts of the market in the swamp for there was no need. The siblings all shared what they owned so there was nary a need to pay or owe debt.

_
The king scowled. "You are as odd as I was led to believe." He shook his head, hesitating as another thought occurred to him, perhaps, but opting not to give it voice. "And no, girl, I'm not looking to punish anyone. You have broken a rule that we have out here: a rather important one, but you are very clearly ignorant of our ways and I am nothing if not a merciful and prudent ruler." He nodded, satisfied with his own answer. "However, I doubt you have much in the way of money, so you may instead pay with your skills." He scowled for a moment before softened his expression. She was but a child - and one of mixed blood - innocent in her own way despite her obvious talent with The Gift. Otto had a daughter of roughly an age with her and they were worlds apart. "There are some very bad people who wish to hurt some friends of ours. Help us protect them. Then, you shall owe me nothing and have gained a very powerful friend." More carrot, less stick. He was... oddly intrigued by this strange little creature. For all that she was a weapon and a potentially very useful one, a degree of fatherly instinct couldn't help but rear its head.
_
She nodded vigorously, trying her hardest to keep up with what the man was saying. It seemed closely approximate to the idea that she wasn't going to be punished which was good.

"Yehs! Yehs... Prot-hect frehinds. I- I wihll prot hect."
*2
She agreed eagerly, keen on not upsetting the man beasts surrounding her. The idea he conveyed was simple enough for her to understand. They wanted her to protect their own from other beasts. The Mother-Father had told them that these men would gather in herds and slay one another in territorial disputes, like ants from different colonies fighting to extinguish the other. This must of been it.

She didn't hold any of her prior belongings but she was so nervous being in a crowd of such violent creatures, all of them surrounding her with their gazes fixed on herself along with the other ones next to her, that she found her voice caught in her throat. She would do little aside from placating them until they left her alone.

_
"Very good then," declared the king. "It is settled." He smiled comfortingly at the strange girl, hiding any further evidence of being both unnerved and sympathetic.



Later, in the Relouse encampment...



It had been a long voyage. She had never been on a ship before nor on such a long voyage. It reminded her of the logs that would float in the mire of the swamp, only larger and somehow filthier. Still, they had given her back her belongings and thus she made do, eating the clouds to chase away the rain and tempting fish to the surface with conjured lures that bob along atop the water. The fish she fished up made for good eating indeed. Otherwise it was a fairly calm trip, albeit she still felt like a creature in a cage being looked in at from outside as she had been stranded aboard the vessel with many of these strange man beasts.

On shore things did not improve, not at all. Guided along by the other help the Kang had sent along she was taken to what they called a camp. Many of these creatures stayed in tents, great big hides held up with sticks. They reminded her of some makeshift hideaways she had made back home, useful spots to tuck away from predators and rest the while.

There were a lot of these creatures. Way too many for her to be anywhere near comfortable. Like a swarm of ants there were just so many of them, popping in and out of places as they went about their business. There were far more of the metal shelled ones too, like the ones the Kang ordered about.

Gathered as they stood she felt well and truly small amidst this crowd, so many man-beasts herded together as they called up prayers to their gods in preparation for their upcoming conflict. There was little she could do but dwell upon her own discomfort as she attempted to make herself small and unnoteworthy. Luckily for her they were so caught up in their Pranse's prayers even a creature like of her went by with only scant comments and glares.

She stuck to the metal hides Kang Otto had dispatched along with her and whoever was was along for the ride like a shy child to their mother's leg, keeping low and letting them handle all the fast word exchanges. Her Drudgunzean might of been rusty but her Parrencian was non-existent. Needless to say as she followed low along those from the boat she was unlikely to initiate introductions herself.

"Hhhhh... Hwhen do hwe prot-hect? A- An from who?"
*3


Present in post: @Force and Fury, @jasbraq, @Siber.

*:(Translation: "Uhh... Apologies. I uh, I apologize. No punish please. Pay? Uh, I pay. J-Just no punish.")
*2:(Translation: "Yes! Yes... Protect friends. I- I will protect.")
*3:(Translation: "When do we protect? And from who?")
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Atalanta lsfables.com

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Osanna, like any educated user of the Arcane, knew that darkness did not exist in the way that heat or electricity did. It could not be touched or called forth or created. It was only an emptiness, a lack of sense left behind in the wake of flames or sunshine, an absence of light the way silence is an absence of sound. And yet, as Osanna pulled darkness over herself like a second cloak, she was half-sure she could feel it, cold and silken against her bare cheeks and the backs of her palms.

In broad daylight, the spell would not have completely hidden Osanna. She would appear faded— a ghostly after image of a woman dark leathers, a black hood pulled up over her head. Now, in the middle of a cloudy night, perched in the deep shadow of a noble’s estate, she was invisible so long as she avoided torchlight.

The home of Jaquet Asselin was an old, finely built construction of cream stone with an enormous main building and a south-facing wing complete with a windowed tower, its rough facade boasting rich, red pendants only a little frayed at their ends. The grounds were simply adorned, plants and bushes kept well away from the walls to give passing guards a clear view, their torches spilling light over close-cropped grasses. The reaching fingers of light never touched Osanna where she sat crouched in the loam, her breaths full of the smells of dew-touched earth and smoke, and she smiled as she watched them leave, drawing droplets of power from the fire they carried.

When the night was empty once more, Osanna stood, slipping wraith-like along the side of the south wing until she came to the tower. The protrusion of the tower stone from the wall created a pocket of deeper cover, the darkness so complete that Osanna searched for toe and finger holds more by touch than sight as she began to slowly work her way up. It was a cool evening, wind stirring the long train of her cloak, but not cold enough for ice to be a concern, and the rough stone provided enough leverage that Osanna did not even have to expend Force magic to aid herself up— a good thing too. Tonight’s supplicant was a magic-user, and it was always best to go in with as many tricks as possible when facing a stronger opponent.

Near the top, Osanna moved, spider-like from the corner around to the front of the tower where a window sat latched against the chill. Flickering light from a single lard candle filtered from it, weak and tenuous against the night. She pressed her forehead to the glass, peering between the iron frame that held the individual pieces in place. It was just translucent enough to give an impression of the room— chairs, bookshelves, and a tall desk with what appeared to be a human sitting with their back to her. Excellent. The household servants had been correct.

With a tiny amount of telekinesis , Osanna flicked open the window’s latch and slid it open just an inch, a breath of warm air and the scents of paper and mulled wine rushing out to meet her. She perched in complete stillness for fifteen heartbeats, relaxing when she heard the shuffling of parchment within. Osanna drew a small, hard leather tube from a pouch at her waist and pulled it open with only a little resistance from the two pieces. Carefully she shook a single small dart onto the windowsill, leaning close to assure herself that it was dipped in white wax even as her other arm trembled from the effort of holding her in place. Another morsel of telekinesis was enough to wish the paralyzer into the room and the neck of the figure sitting behind the desk, but Osanna didn’t relax until she heard him slump.

There was no knowing why Jaquet Asselin needed to be killed. Such moral quandaries were best left to those higher within the church—bishops and archbishops and the occasional abbot or abbess. Osanna was merely a clever knife in Echeran’s hands. A blade very apt at blood-letting.

She slipped, shadow-silent into the room, taking in the friendly disarray of parchment, books, and scrolls. A quill still rested in the hand of the still-breathing man at the desk, its black-tipped feather resting gently against a signet ring on Jaquet Asselin’s middle finger. Voices came distantly from the hall, but those that passed knew better than to disturb the estate’s master. The door stayed firmly closed.

Osanna drew her long knife, pausing long enough to slip off the man’s ring before she carved open his neck, spilling a river of crimson gore over the beautiful hardwood desk. The poison kept him quiet— Osanna did not even know if he was aware until it all ended. “Safe passage, blessed of Echeran. May you find peace in the Pentad’s embrace.”

The only thing to Osanna left for those who found the corpse was a hand print in dead man’s blood




“It’s finished, your grace.”

Osanna slipped cheerfully into the private office of the Archbishop of Relouse on a beautiful Stresian morning, her hair newly braided with a few small, white wildflowers and free of her dark cloak. There was a songbird at the window, and the smell of fragrant tea wafted up from the archbishop’s teacup.

“Oh?” The archbishop looked up from his morning reading of the Menanne to take her in. He hadn’t been expecting her this morning, and as they had not yet formally met, he would not know why she’d come. Neither did he look particularly put off, probably assuming that she’d been let up by those meant to protect him.

To remedy his confusion, Osanna laid the signet ring of Jaquet Asselin on the desk before him, stepping into a patch of sunlight coming through an open window, and basking in the warmth. This was a young man for an archbishop, she thought, and he took his time examining the ring before looking up at her again.

“Osanna Le’Noir, I presume?”

“Yes, your grace.” She smiled at him winningly and gave a little bow.

“I believe your abbess told you that your purpose here would be two-fold. One, to act for Aun-Echeran, and the other… Did she tell you what it was? I must confess you are not what I was expecting.”

“I find that I rarely am.” Osanna had only been told only that this would be a task that might take months or even years. It was a long time to be away from home for sure, but she found herself enthused by the prospect. Was she being sent to Eskand to make a difference in the coming war? “But no. She did not tell me.”

“There is a war brewing in Parrence, Osanna. Even now Eskandr ships make their way to our coastline, and the Church will stand with King Arcel against the onslaught. Monasteries and convents all over Parrence are sending money, supplies, food, and warriors. Your convent has chosen to send you.” Osanna couldn’t tell if he was impressed with this offering or not. “King Arcel has already received word of your addition to his force. You will travel there and lend them your strength, and should King Arcel ask you to use your skills, you will treat each request as though they came from Aun-Echeran herself.”




There was a rumor circulating camp of a welcoming force to harry the Eskandr as they sailed to the cape, and as Osanna had no better task to occupy her time, she left the fires of the Red Rezaindians she had recently befriended and set about finding her horse and a bow unless some other distraction came along first…
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Hidden 12 mos ago 12 mos ago Post by Dao Ma
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Dao Ma sorrow made you.

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INTERACTING: Mentions King Arcel/Lady Eleanor @Force and Fury, Asier @Ti, Caelum @RezonanceV; Speaking with Arnaud @YummyYummy
OPPORTUNITY: Parrench players who will be staying at Relouse
EVENT: Defense of Relouse|| LOCATION: Relouse Encampment, Parrence



Solenne - Some Weeks Before

There was no question of doubt that Ser Maerec de Solenne would answer the young King Arcel’s call to arms. Though his years lived were less than the knight’s, his wisdom was far beyond. And really, it was because of King Arcel that Maerec was permitted to gain station to where he was today. As much as Ser Dufort loved to parade about, putting claims to the lost son of Solenne–He would have never been where he was now had it not been for King Arcel’s vision. He was considered by the streets of Solenne as ‘A Man of Arcel’, to which some nobility would see it as a mocking title, but to those that truly knew Maerec and what he had gone through to get there, it was a praise worthy of his merit.

He politely declined the final celebration before his departure that Lady Hélène Dufort suggested. It was a formality, and simply posturing from what the knight deduced. Something that Maerec had always disdained. Instead, he found his few days just before departure on the old streets of Solenne, where they had once been his stomping grounds as a child. He often went there to humble himself, and remind himself of what he truly was. He was a man of the people. He had worked just like them. He had struggled just as they do. He had dreams and aspirations that at that time felt impossible to obtain, just as they dreamed and aspired. He was a beacon to them, just as much as they were a reminder to him. They were the reason he accepted the king’s call.

“Maerec, another one before the night ends?” one man asked, pushing a drink across the table to him. “From me and my wife. Don’t dare think about paying me for it.” His cheering voice turned gruff for a moment, as if to warn the knight of an insult to come if he tried to protest. It was enough to make a slanted smirk slide across his face.

“Just this one, then no more.” He said, taking up the cup to take a sip. “I still need to make way to Maerec and Darie tonight.” He tipped his cup towards the man who in turn let out a bellowing laugh. The night so far has gone as such, and more than not Maerec received a pat on the back or his shoulders grasped in support of his endeavor. This was the world Maerec felt most comfortable in. Not in stuffy homes of nobility where he was shown off like a finely crafted piece of jewelry.



The home was small. Much smaller than Maerec remembered, though, everything else remained the same. The broom was placed in the same spot by the door as it had always been. Pots and rags neatly put away to the side of the main space. The table that had one leg shorter was stabilized by another piece of wood. Even his bed that had been made in the far corner was exactly as he left it. The nostalgia made his heart swell.

“Maerec?” A voice of hesitation called out, warranting the knight to turn and look. It was an older woman, Darie. Upon seeing the smiling knight, the dull life in her eyes brightened exponentially. The reunion was bittersweet–her knowing exactly why Maerec came here today, though, she couldn’t bring herself to be sorrowful. Her son had gone beyond her wildest dreams, and he was doing his country a great honor by answering the king’s call.

“My son,” Darie raised her hands, reaching for the sides of the knight’s face as she pulled it closer to her so she could kiss the crown of his head. “You will be missed. May Orphe-Sept be with you always.” She slipped her arms around his ribs, drawing him in for a strong embrace to which he returned in kind.

Maerec had said his goodbyes to Darie, and soon to the father that had raised him, though the couple was able to convince him to stay just a little while longer. Night had taken over Maerec spent the night in his old bed, preparing himself for the morning to come.



He needed to make one more round about the premises of Dufort before he could set out, and so he made it as quickly as possible. He and a handful of soldiers readied their horses and secured their banners of House Dufort. They were to set off that morning.

There, as he reached up to pat the side of his horse’s neck in reassurance, he felt eyes on him. Maerec turned to see Helène advancing towards him. It was clear to see the tears welled up in her eyes. She reached out for Maerec to pull him closer for a tight embrace. It was one that was reluctant to let go of something so precious. “Don’t go my son…” She cried into him, forcing a deep frown from Maerec. For as much as she longed to repair the time lost between them, he had very little interest in doing so. He was hers by blood, but not by heart.

Even still, Maerec hugged her back and held her a little bit longer than he would have liked. “Have faith that Oraphe-Sept will guide me back to Solenne.” He placed a hand on the back of her head for a small caress before sliding his hands onto her shoulders to carefully pull her back. “Without faith is a destined farewell.” He gave her a small smile, reaching to wipe her tears away.

“Take this.. For your protection.” Hélène was defeated. No matter how much she protested to her husband, how much she fought and tried to convince Maerec to stay, he was too much of a man of the people. He was truly a knight to a fault. Sniffling, she removed the green sash from her waist and delicately wrapped it around his wrist. “Wear it when you go onto the battlefield. It will protect you.”

Maerec didn’t have the strength to fight her on this. Instead, he let her tie it onto his wrist and made sure it was secure. “I must leave, Lady Hélène.” He finally said, forcing her to reluctantly create space between them. “I will come back… I promise.” Maerec was always a man of his word.


Parrence, Relouse Encampment - Current

Standing there in the sea of those that had gathered in support of Arcel and of Parrence, Maerec was humbled by the amount of faces he could see. Not only Parrench, but others as well. It gave him the slightest bit of hope. He could feel the presence of everyone around him and it just made his body buzz with energy. He could feel it at the tips of his fingers, as if trying to calm the internally brewed storm of emotions. This was a moment Maerec would never forget. A hand slipped past the collar of his shirt to tug on two cords, bringing them out to view. He slid his hand down to the two pendants and grasped them tightly as he listened to the archbishop begin the prayer.

“Amen.” He echoed with hundreds of others around him.

When King Arcel took over, Maerec hung on every word. Arcel was eloquent, even in a time that could cripple even the most seasoned of kings. His resolve struck true with the knight of Solenne and it was in that moment that Maerec knew he was here for the right reasons. This was a monumental moment, where stories will be told and retold for generations to come, and Maerec was honored to be a witness. His only hope was that they captured this very moment with the same intensity.

“Vive la Parrence!!!”

The cacophony that came next shook the ground underneath the knight, but held no notice as he joined the thousands in raising his sword up. He roared out, unable to contain the overwhelming emotion that Arcel had instilled in him. The cries and roars of those around him only fed him further, and it was an impactful moment that Maerec knew would stick with him until the day he died. It eventually died down, and just as instructed, Maerec took a knee to pray.

The prayer resonated deeply within the knight. And hearing Queen Eleanor pray as well made his heart swell. The strength his King and Queen held was remarkable.

“Amen!” He followed at the end of the prayer, making the sign of the Pentad, yet still holding the pendants of the Aun-Oraphe and Oraphe-Sept– the deity that favored Maerec the most. The moment dissolved and everyone began to go to their designated places. Groups came together to discuss their future plan of action or to mentally prepare for what was to come. Maerec would have done the same, had it not been for the Lion Knight to give him a nod of recognition.

The Tourrare’s reputation had echoed around the lower streets of Solenne as a wild fictitious tale with an underlying truth. Maerec had not had the honors of meeting the knight yet, but now, really, was the best of times to do so. He followed after Ser Arslan..

Once he was close enough, Maerec silently greeted so to not disrupt the conversation already being had. He looked closer at the map displayed, taking in what was already organized.

“Lord King, if we quickly lead a small expeditionary force to the Cape here,” Ser Arslan pointed out and Maerec narrowed his eyes as he tried to visualize the exact area. It was a good idea to take advantage of the terrain, but also risky.

He could see a hint of contemplation on the idea from a few individuals. A Brother of Oraphe, as it seemed, had that pensive look in his eyes. Understandably so.

”The preparations on shores are mostly complete. It will be difficult for them to secure entry point should we keep control of the terrain.” This was good to hear, coming from the executioner himself– another man that Maerec had yet to formally meet. He was a large man whose strength seemed to radiate off of him. It was aweing yet very intimidating.

“A moment of your time, executioner.” Maerec called as the council began to separate. Ser Arslan seemed to be getting company for his expedition. The Brother seemed inclined to follow after the Lion Knight. Maerec knew his skills would be more useful here at Relouse. Maybe he could take advantage of the preparations made on the shores.

“I seem to have arrived late for some of the preparations, though I do wish to contribute. That being said, I do have an idea that may be able to assist us and hinder the Eskandr if not be annoying at the least.” He gave a small slanted smile. “If, of course, you are willing to hear me.”

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Genevieve Chalamet



Location: Castle in the estate grounds of the Baroness Chalamet - Before

There was never any doubt that Genevieve would be going once the call to arms came to the city of Miroux. It hadn’t been all that long since the dreadful tragedy that had robbed her of her father, the Baron along with her dearest brothers and all of the household guard that she knew and grew up with. Her mother, the baroness didn’t think to stop her, for she too would like to get some revenge of her own, even though it would have to be through the hands of her eldest living child. The youngest of the family had hugged her the night before and refused to let go, especially when the lass didn’t know when or if she would ever see her sister again. It took a good long while and a whole lot of coaxing and sobbing, before the young girl would part from her older sister, reluctantly leaving Genevieve’s room to go to bed. “Promise me you’ll return. Promise me that you’ll be back. Everyone is gone now. It’s just me and mother left.” Without waiting for an answer, young Marie left the room before she started crying again.

Location: Parrence, Relouse Encampment - Current

After sleeping for a couple of hours, Genevieve woke before the rose into the sky, gathering all her essentials and belongings and readied Bernard for the journey. Once preparations were done, Lady Chalamet left the family castle and began the journey through countless sea of green fields and pastures southward towards the city of Relouse, where a vast encampment had gathered to answer the call of his Majesty, King Arcel of Parrence. When she finally arrived at the encampment, she made her way towards the vast armour of tents where a large myriad of soldiers of all kinds were gathering, chatting, and readying themselves for the battle to come. There were plenty of people looking to spill Eskandr blood, and she reckoned that none of such would find themselves disappointed by the time the battle started. Leaving Bernard together with the rest of horses at the stables, Genevieve, clad in her armour, moved on towards the huge crowd that was already gathering as the Archbishop of Relouse alongside the King and Queen took their place to face the Grand Armée. As the monks rang their bells, and the prayers started, she too began praying to the Pentad for their blessings in the battles to come, her golden pendant of Dami clasped in between her palms. Dami would guide her, just as Escheran would empower her.

“Amen.” she muttered as she finished her prayer along with many others in the crowd. Then came the defining moment, as the King gave a rather rousing and inspiring speech, which he ended with a Vive la Parrence that immediately got the crowd of warriors cheering. Weapons of all kinds rose in the air, and Genevieve found herself raising her sword into the air as well. “VIVE LA PARRENCE!” As the king and queen began the prayers once more, she renewed her prayers along with them, word for word, her own voice bolstering the volume of the crowd. Once the prayers ended and the crowd began to disperse, Lady Chalamet followed the King and a small group of others to the command tent where the battle plans lay on a map. She keenly observed the others as they spoke, and made no attempt to join the conversation yet.

She listened intently to the one that was commonly known as the Tourrare, as the Lion knight voiced out his suggestion of leading a small expeditionary force, but she decided that her skills would better benefit the defenses on the shore. Keeping her silence as others began to volunteer for Ser Arslan’s expeditionary force, Genevieve recognised the other knight as Ser Maerec as he talked to one called Arnaud. She heard him speak of the defenses at the shore, and as that aligned with her interests, she felt keen to contribute. Putting on an inviting smile, she voiced her thoughts to the pair. “I too would like to participate in the shore defenses for the upcoming attack.”
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pantothenic bored part-timer

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Location: Relouse - Defensive Encampment


Gerard was on standby at the sidelines with his two apprentices. They had been granted the honor of being part of the assembly. Tristan and Misha were bell bearers while the bishop led them with censer in hand. In just a few minutes the king and queen of Parrence would be addressing a host of thousands. There were likely more troops gathered here than the entire population of Relouse.

Tristan was visibly nervous. He leaned towards Gerard and whispered to him.

“Master, which pattern are we following again?”

“Just use your sense of rhythm and do what the others do. Do not dare screw this up. We are in the presence of the crown and the archbishop.” Gerard turned around and looked Tristan in the eyes. The younger man backed away sheepishly.

The first bell had rung. The chimes traveled through the mass of people as priests of every order shook their handheld bells and lit their censers. When the group next to theirs joined the clamor, Gerard and his students followed suit. Misha seemed to know what she was doing right away, while Tristan did his best to watch her hands and copy her. It was passable. Gerard held up his metal censer aloft and called upon the Gift. Lighting the coals gave him an instant of euphoria, but he was brought back to his senses by the scent of the sacred herbs.

The king and queen projected their voices far and wide using the power of Force. “Lover, Learner, Creator, Destroyer, Judge,” they began. “All magics and all of creation pay homage to the divine Pentad who brought them into being. Thy existence is beyond human understanding, thy ways both arcane and divine, and thy gifts the foundations of life itself. May thy will be done now and forever.”

Amen.




“Master Castello, shouldn’t we be waiting at the rear of the army?” Misha questioned as the trio hiked down to the beach. Gerard regarded her with his usual grimace. He dug his staff a little harder into the sand as they walked.

“Have you seen any Eskandr on the beach yet? Why waste the opportunity to leave a little surprise for them?” The frowning Rezaindian shaded his eyes with his hand to make it easier to see past the sun. The three servants of Echeran were not the only members of the army to have trekked down to the beach. There were knights of all sizes certainly, but many mages and lightly armored warriors as well.

Is that a Yasoi? Gerard thought to himself. He hadn’t met one of their ilk in months. “It looks like some of our associates are preparing the beach head already. We should help them for now. Let’s go.”
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Ulfhild Ulven


Interacting with: Hrothgar @Force and Fury
Opportunity: Eskand-aligned Players - Potential travellers that have seen Ulfhild entering Hrothgar’s council. And on the same boat for the siege.

Event: Siege of RelouseLocation: Cape of Redame

Two weeks prior:

The air was ice cold in the early mornings wake on the tundra known as Eskand. While most foreigners would have a haggard look about them from the blood in their lungs turning to ice, Ulfhild’s breathing was steady and almost non existent. This was absolutely necessary when being both of Eskandr blood and the pride of being a ranger. The crunching of snow under toe was kept to a minimum, as if she were passing through the soft epidermis like a snow shoed hare. She had been tracking the beast for days now. Tracks scattered from constant bellowing of winds followed by a snowstorm to make said tracks invisible, scat turned frozen unable to tell how fresh the droppings really were, it was all giving her nothing to go off of besides intuition and instinct. Her magic was powerless in the face of this crucible, but she was not ready to give up. She had been leaving traps for smaller mammals scattered around the area. Some still had animals trapped within when she arrived and others were simply remnants of what could be discerned of what once was an animal.

There was a trend to the hunting trails this beast was using to eat in preparation for the hibernation of winter. Cloaked in what shadow she could find in the series of dead trees, she followed the carcasses and carrion to what appeared to be the mouth of a cave. There was countless bones scattered across, littering the entrance and the walls of the cave. A snap of her fingers brought to life the breath of fire that jumped quickly to the tip of an arrow she had retrieved from her quiver. The arrow serving as a lamp aided in the illumination of the dark cave as she trudged on. The smell was a bit thick, betwixt the smell of blood that was new and rotten and the pheromones of what she thought to be a female. This only reinforced when she was greeted with a litter of cubs sleeping at the foot of her boot. Ulfhild was too slow off the jump to turn her pseudo-torch off when she awoke the sleeping cubs. Frozen like the wind outside she stood realizing her mistake. The cubs also in awe of both the fire and the towering predator, cried in alert to their mother. She must have been close if they were calling with such shallowness.

Ulfhild flicked the fire off her arrow and knocked it onto her bow, racing for the tiny circle of light that was expanding into the exit. Once outside she felt the swipe of something likely four times the size as she. The blow to her side was enough to force all the air out of her lungs and send her flying into the fresh snow adjacent to the cave. Mother bear was angry and roaring angrily that the flaps of her lips wavered in the display of ferocity and jagged teeth. Coughing just as loudly, Ulfhild rose to her feet giving her lungs no chance for reprieve as she barreled off in search of the bow that was forced from her hand. The bear with no warning gave chance to Ulfhild in double the speed. Knowing she had no chance of outrunning nor out climbing the bear, she resorted to her arcane magic to give her time to find a moment to gather herself. A dazzling spark of light rose into the air before the bear before exploding into a wave of blinding light. Ulfhild covered her eyes with her forearm before finding the shadow of her bow. Rolling into the bow and planting her knee deeply for stability she knocked three arrows that were set ablaze.

The bear rushed through the light only to be met with three arrows lodging themselves deep into her skull. Though this wasn’t enough as she charged Ulfhild knocking her back once more. Her fur began to turn red with embers erupting all over. Still the pain was second to her will to protect her children. Ulfhild retired her bow and retrieved the silver from her waist. Once more the bear charged Ulfhild, with only one chance to land a deciding blow for both parties, Ulfhild waited until the last moment to slide beneath the bear, plunging her wolf’s fang in the soft flesh of her gut as the bear charged and consequently disemboweled itself. Her own blood trickled down her face and body from injuries unaccounted for. A scream echoed through the wilds showing her triumph over the hunt once more. Her legs carried her to the defeated hunt where she would stop to pray to her gods and for the bear who gave its life to her so valiantly in defense of her kin. The rest of the day would be spent skinning for what she could salvage from the charred hide and packing the rest onto her sled that was a ways away. Ulfhild simply turned once more to look at the cave hoping the cubs could survive the winter, praying for them then setting off.

Upon arrival to her home she was confused at the greeting of laughter and merriment. While there were times where they would have song and mead, those events were typically reserved for celebrations of their gods or the successful raids of Quentic lands. A bit annoyed that she wasn’t privy to this knowledge and the bath she so desperately needed, she sough to confront her father. Instead before she could make it even a meter from the entrance she was met by two very inebriated brothers she had the pleasure of sharing blood with. “Arvid, Haldor, what is the meaning of this?” The two brothers who were practically twins, born just minutes within each other, were conjoined at the hip. Arms half wrapped around each other while they swayed back and forth spilling mead from their goblets all over themselves while singing some old folk song. “You two reek of piss and mead, now answer me before I stack both of you onto this hunt of mine.”

The song stopped with a frown, “Uufhill-da, you made i-“ Arvid burped, “it sister, huwhy so grim?” Haldor finished.

“Father didn’t speak of this to me before I left. Get out of my way you two and give me that” she scoffed, parting Arvid from his mead. She took a swig, spat it out, and threw the goblet behind her. She left the remains of the bear on her sled with confidence that her clansmen in the longphiurt would know no one else would be daring enough to attempt such a feat. She entered the longhouse where she was greeted by ravenous cheers at her arrival, with her father at the helm. There were assorted fruits, meats, and cheeses surrounding the table with an overflowing amount of mead.

“Welcome home Ulfhild! How did the hunt go?”

“Sloppy, if my ragged vestments couldn’t tell you otherwise. Now what is going on?”

“Oh my child, Brother and Father have brought us good news. Hrothgar has called for war and is calling upon all of Eskand to support him.”

She was a bit taken aback, she knew of Hrothgar, but never expected him to call upon them and their small village. “And what did you say?”

“I said yes of course, your brothers were the first to volunteer and they will make me and the Gods proud.”

“You can’t expect me to stay here. I will fight for glory alongside them.”

“Father’s hammer of course!” He erupted with boisterous laughter, berry juice staining his beard a dark red. “I expect you and Sister to watch over them. You know they aren’t as smart as you.”

Her father’s consignment put her at ease and let her tense body ease, allowing for the pain of her battle to seep in. Her legs buckled under her, forcing her to sit alongside her father with an attempt to gather herself. One deep breath pushed her back up and toward her room where she would rest a good while.

Later that night after sharing in the festivities, bathing in the nearby lake, and tending to her wounds she had made it to a nearby temple that their clan had erected. She lay flowers in front of the statue of sister while she gripped Father’s hammer and her wolf totem in hopes her gods would hear her prayers and give her the strength to fulfill her role in the ensuing battle, along with the protection for her brothers. Statue after statue she prayed to the five gods before leaving and preparing for the journey ahead.



The Feast before War

Ulfhild would have been delighted to take part in the feast, but her priorities eschewed her from them. The mead was good and the food even better, but while her brothers feasted she wanted to speak to Hrothgar himself. For a man she was about to risk her life for and the change of having glory, she wanted to speak to him first. If the legends were true he was a man considerable of the title and the armor that came with it. Perhaps she was being too critical or too used to ensuring that her plans were fleshed out with an inclusion of a contingency. She intruded in his planning, not before knocking of course, “Hrothgar, I am Ulfhild Ulven daughter of Ulfbjørn Ulven. I believe I could be of use to you in the upcoming battle” she said with a slight touch of pride, some might say arrogance.


Drums of War

There was a tinge of excitement, half of her still wondering if this was real and the other half beginning to grow anxious. She had her fair share of excursions and raid’s but nothing compared to the grandeur presented before her. The air was thick was black smoke, to the point it felt intentional, like the spirit of Hrothgar was watching over his encampment. Banners of every sort with mascot a plenty flew across the fjord, some which she had never seen nor heard of. It’s what happens when you’re tucked away in your own hamlet thinking you knew the world. Her brothers didn’t share the same sentiment, the allure of etching your name in chronicles and legends was too great for any other point of reason and logic to enter and for that she was grateful. Arvid and Haldor were just a small representation of the war parties present. Hrothgar finally emerged, true to his name, dawned in all black armor.

The waters seemed to calm almost instantly in wake of his voice. Everyone was silent, losing themselves in the conviction of his speech. The crescendo of his voice delivered the besmirching of their enemies that rallied the troops in their wooden seats. And there it was, the finale and the promise of Grønhalle. While the others cheered she stretched her vision to the steady approach and appearance of Cape Redame, most likely protected by men of Parrench. She grabbed her hammer necklace once more before steeling herself for the battle to come.


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Siber A Creature of the Cybernetic Universe

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---


Tilda sighs at the notice of people whom she knew judged her. Magician. That is what they think of me? Just because the goddess blesses me does not mean that I am worthy of battle, let alone to be instructed by anyone other than my Goddess' will. What they assume martial prowess or entertainment is but a force of habit - a way of living. My ancestors, once pure, have turned against the rest of humanity. Very few of them are seen as "good" in this age. War and conquering, what fuels their ambitions so? Simple religion? Are we not all of flesh and blood, of our own beliefs? They send a "Magician" to represent the peacefulness of their home, only to be told to fight amongst soldiers? Then again, where reason has failed, where else is humanity to turn to against a tyrannous nation? Often I wish societal norms and traditions did not clash as so. I believe I have taken a side, may Dami understand that I have taken the lesser of two evils.

The bard places her right hand over her heart, her left arm bent behind her back as she bowed ever-so-slightly. "Ipté enchant you", is muttered from her lips, one of the more audible things to have ever been spoken from the hushed Tilda besides her songs - though rightfully, in her eyes, not hers to claim.

She had been given time to prepare. With such time, she had brought upon herself darkened armor for hiding - something Tilda only wished she could do better. Besides this, she had brought basic herbal remedies for the travel, should the sea, mild wounds, or illness starts to affect one of what she would assume would be her allies in whatever endeavor Ottis had planned for them. The "swamp witch" and the knight were certainly odd, the only one of the trio of them she considered remotely normal was the knight. Whether or not this person had the true spirit of a knight, despite her meek appearance, remained yet to be seen, however.

Tilda drew interest into the "swamp witch", for what would bring someone such oddities but The Gift of the Gods Themselves? She wondered what role this "witch" would fulfill.

Finally turning to Ottis, she gives a respectful nod. "I am not one to tell fabricated stories; the decisions of our ancestors were made to teach the people of Today. Our ancestors, though not all heroes, paved the path for whom we are now. Their stories, no matter their size, must be remembered and honored by our kind. That is my duty, sir." Though she sounded traditional in her speech, she showed no hostility toward either side of what she knew was a dispute, at the very least, between nations. One thing was clear, however: Tilda did not like the hostility of the other side.
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Hidden 12 mos ago 12 mos ago Post by Th3King0fChaos
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Th3King0fChaos The Weird

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Prologue I: Calm of the Storm



Mentions/Interaction: Hrothgar the Black @Force and Fury







Prologue II: the Dawn of War



Mentions/Interaction: Hrothgar the Black @Force and Fury, Vali, Twice Born @Wolfieh, Ulfhild Ulven @Salsa Verde, Hildr The Red @jasbraq







Prologue III: Feast at the Gate



Mentions/Interaction: Hrothgar the Black @Force and Fury & Ulfhild Ulven @Salsa Verde










Chapter 1: Drums of War



Mentions/Interaction: Hrothgar the Black @Force and Fury, Vali, Twice Born @Wolfieh, Ulfhild Ulven @Salsa Verde, Hildr The Red @jasbraq




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Hidden 12 mos ago Post by Tackytaff
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Tackytaff

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Lyen'Ivhere'Zulc


Defense Of Relouse I


It really was a beautiful place to start a war. From Lyen's place on the walls of the city proper she could see across the far empty plains stretching west only to suddenly stop at the cliffs of Relouse, where the land made a sudden drop into the sea. The morning mist was clearing and far on the eastern shore she could see the final remaining friendly ships making their arrival. It was a magnificent view, a paradise only beginning to be transformed into a battlefield with fortifications being placed at the city's base and the fabric signaling the tents of the army encampment barely visible from her current line of sight.

"Yasoi!" The Captain she'd been assigned to that morning had re-appeared and shouted for her attention while still on the approach. His manner was arrogant and name such a jumble of Parrench syllables she'd opted put as much effort into learning it as he had her own. It had done little to aid their extremely short but already strained relationship.

"Captain."

"Finished here?"

Her assigned task was to help with minor repairs of the city walls: Small cracks and holes acceptable during peace times were to sealed and reinforced in effort to breaching as difficult and time consuming as possible for the expected invaders. Lyen rested her hands on ramparts and let the final remains of her drawn magic leech downwards to fill any of the remaining weaknesses."The south-side wall at least. Haven't run into the others."

The Captain gave a single nod of approval and continued his tour of Relouse's walls. "They've requested more binders to help set traps on the beach." Apparently having already given up on her ability follow the traditional formalities of military command he hadn't even slowed his stride to speak with her. Wariness and distrust of strange outsiders was a problem that had become as familiar to Lyen as her own name, but not one that had no clear remedy. She found humans often close-minded, but rarely hateful, it was fear that fueled their prejudices and with looming war there was plenty to go around.




Not having been given a direct order, Lyen took her time leaving the city. It was something of a marvel to witness how the streets had emptied themselves in barely two days: The able bodied were helping in the camps, while the unable that failed flee to city stayed locked in their homes with their prayers. Only the odd squadron of soldiers crossed her path, each giving a second glance over their shoulders before disappearing around a corner. It wasn't until reaching the gate that the eerie quiet was replaced with arguing men; an integral part to war-making it seemed. The discussion hinged on whether the gate was to be operated with magic or the installed pulley mechanism. As was habit, she listened without comment, at least until a higher ranking officer arrived to sort out the disagreement. Reluctant get roped into more glorified city maintenance work, Lyen slipped away with as little remark as she'd come.

By the time she arrived that the edge of the camp a small crowd was gathering, and without invitation she followed to the center of the mayhem at the stables. She ducked between jogging squires and servants carrying around weapons and riding equipment until she found the stable-master she'd met two days before.

"What's going on?" She grabbed his arm, interrupting his work and earning a quick look of surprise that quickly turned to scorn as recognition dawned on the man.

"Advanced scout team. Taking the fight to Cape Redame." With a sharp tug away from her and a short, gruff response he made intent to be done with the conversation clear.

A pang of regret hit Lyen; she'd have liked to join them, had she not sold her horse to the same dismissive man two days prior. The lightness of her purse had outweighed both sentiment and forethought when she'd first arrived and the faithful beast was sold for too small a price. Ignoring his tone, she continued to follow him, hopeful they could renegotiate. "And I don't suppose we could discuss..." But the stable-master was already deliberately putting bodies between them, both horse and man, to get away from her. Not quite fast enough for his barking laugh to be out of Lyen's earshot. Apparently he'd not been impressed with her bartering before.

"Short lives, long resentments." She muttered to herself, watching with great envy as the group of horses set off north. Only after they passed the limits of her vision did Lyen to remember her original directive to attend to the beach where she found a group large enough to call into question how much her aid was truly needed.

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Hidden 12 mos ago Post by Wolfieh
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Wolfieh eternally terrified / he/they

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L O C A T I O N | Northern Eskand
I N T E R A C T I O N | None

Several Weeks Prior

The pale sunlight dappled over Vali’s eyelids between the swaying leaves, and he groaned awake. Rolling away from the harshness of daybreak, the ranger reached a hand out in search of his waterskin, palm pressing into cool grass as it slapped against the ground. He groaned again, stretching further out but refusing to open his eyes and search for it.

He felt a pouch of leather kicked into his hands and heard a laugh from somewhere above. ”Searching for this, O Great Hunter?” a woman teased, finally plying the ranger into opening his eyes.

He rolled over, staring up at the dark-haired figure framed by the deep green of leaves from the forest floor. ”I see you’re up with the sun, Estrid,” he remarked groggily, bringing the waterskin to his lips and drinking from it.

She crouched, smirking down at him. ”One of us has to be. Our camp won’t uproot itself.” With that, the woman turned, stepping towards her own bed of furs across the burned-out campfire.

Pushing into a sitting position, Vali watched her begin to roll the pelts and tie them. The leathers of an Eskandr ranger suited her, though he knew she hailed from the Drudgunzean midlands. She’d gone North with some of the raiders, despite much preferring to hunt animals—and as the roving horde had turned back south, fracturing as their collective purpose came to an end, she had followed him in hopes of some worthwhile hunts.

They’d only been traveling as a pair for a few days, having finally departed from a small hunting party seeking elk and their ilk in the great green forests. Yet, she’d been much more comfortable with conversation since then. In many ways, she reminded Vali of his Bloodsister, Hildr the Red—Drudgunzean and good with a spear, but quiet in many situations.

Still, he knew there was nothing sisterly in the way Estrid felt about him.

He hoped, as they wandered farther south into the cold homelands he dearly missed, that she would turn tail and retreat to what she knew—or simply find a more appealing hunting partner.

He did not dislike her; in fact, Vali found her company to be quite agreeable. But he knew what she wanted of him, and he could not offer it to her—so he hoped someone else might, or that she might choose to search for it elsewhere.

As the sun rose, their horses ambled along the dirt path beneath it. Conversation was light as the hunters surveyed the land around them. They’d been perhaps six hours out from one of the northernmost cities of Eskand when they’d stopped the previous night, and Vali hoped to resupply and set out before sunset. He wasn’t fond of cities and preferred not to spend the night in them, instead seeking the comfort and quiet of untouched land.

Lunch was an affair eaten from horseback, tough-smoked meats and hard cheeses that kept well in a pouch. In truth, this was a common meal for the ranger; he could barely cook a meal for himself—not for lack of trying—and if someone wasn’t feeding their fellows, he’d often be eating trail rations.

He didn’t mind so much; he was used to the taste and texture, and found something in it comforting after subsisting on it for so long. It wasn’t as good as a fresh roast and full cups with his Bloodbrother and Bloodsister, as in the years past, but it held its own kind of home.

The day was at its hottest, though it held nothing against Parrench lands, when they rode into the city. It was alive in a way Vali had not expected; more than simple buyers and sellers or the denizens of the place. There was steel and leather, horses and weapons being gathered by Eskandr warriors. He wondered if another raiding party was set to go North and harry the Greenlands.

He questioned a merchant, having dismounted to lead his horse through the stalls. ”Are our armed brethren setting out for Parrence?” he called softly over the drone of the street, palming some cheeses out of a basket and laying them out on the wood for the seller to see.

The man, fair as an Eskandr but growing old in years, barked a laughing response. ”Soon enough—But first they’re South to Meldheim. Hrothgar the Black has called his banners,” he offered up, laughing at the blatant look of surprise on Vali’s face.

”Hrothgar’s called his banners? He’s marching on Parrence in earnest?” the ranger replied, something nearing hesitancy in his voice as the merchant counted the cheese and muttered a sum.

He looked up, holding a hand out for the payment, and smiled something wicked. ”Truly. To burn out the damned Pentad and reclaim what Bróðir calls for.”

Vali fished the coin out of his pocket and dropped it into the cheesemonger’s hand. ”How long ago did he call?” he asked, voice quieter but pale eyes far sharper.

”We heard it here only two days past. Most look to set out on the morn of tomorrow, but they’ll be leaving for weeks to come.” There was something in the face of the man that told Vali he’d not yet been dissuaded from joining the march himself, and a kindling of fire sparked in pride for the Eskandr blood they shared. He grasped the man’s wrist, squeezing tightly as he felt fingers wrap around his own skin. ”May Systir watch over you, my friend,” he said, voice soft but sure.

”And Bróðir you,” he replied in like, the connection flashing between them before Vali pushed on into the crowd.

He didn’t hear Estrid’s voice until the fifth call, as she pushed her shoulder into the haunch of his horse and shoved it toward the empty and narrow side road they walked past. Turning around, he found her much closer than expected, and raised a brow. Hesitant, she stepped backward, her own horse tossing its head.

”Did he say Hrothgar is going North?” she asked, nearly breathless. Vali nodded, but before he could offer any explanation she exhaled sharply and hissed, ”Gods, I’ve… I need to return to Drudgunze.”

It was not surprising, but the words stung at something in Vali, though he nodded. ”You should be safe, so long as you stay out of the fight. But your family may have need of you at home,” he said, smile sad.

Estrid studied him for a moment, something flickering through her eyes, before reaching out and grasping his forearm gently. ”Vali… Come with me. Help me protect them,” she whispered, voice desperate.

He sighed, feeling the sting grow into a prickling pressure in his chest. ”Estrid… I can’t. You’re a friend, but Bróðir calls me to Meldheim. I will not ignore him.”

Faster than a conscious thought, as though she didn’t mean to, Estrid snapped back, ”Hrothgar calls you. Not ‘Brother’.” Her face went pale as Vali recoiled like she’d slapped him, eyebrows furrowed. Hurriedly, the woman added, ”Vali, this is war. It’s not a raid. They’ll fight back. They could kill you!”

”If I’m called to Gestur’s table, I will not ignore that either,” he replied slowly, something guarded in his voice now.

”Damn your heathen gods!” Estrid hissed in frustration, her grip tightening on his arm.

”My Gods have kept me so far,” Vali snarled, yanking his arm out of her hold.

”I could keep you, too,” she whispered, guard dropping in desperation as she stepped closer to the ranger. He backed away, keeping a cold distance between them, and scoffed.

”Not near so well as my Gods. Go home, Estrid. I will not follow you there, no matter how you plead,” Vali said, voice measured but low and dangerous. ”Leave this city and head straight for the border. Don’t talk about gods until you’re safe at home in your Greenlands, if you have any wish to make it there.”

Vali Twice-Born turned, face stony and cold, and marched into the streets, already plotting the path he would need to ride to Meldheim. He’d leave within the hour and arrive long before the packs marching at dawn—and travel much faster as a lone rider.

He did not bother looking back to see Estrid standing there, tear tracks on her blessed Quentic cheeks.


L O C A T I O N | Meldheim
I N T E R A C T I O N | Hrothgar the Black @Force and Fury; Kol, Death's Hand @Th3King0fChaos; Ulfhild Ulven @Salsa Verde


The grounds where Hrothgar’s army gathered were busy, though Vali knew many more would be arriving over the coming days. He found many faces he knew and even more he didn’t, but feasted and drank with those he could count on as brethren, strong warriors who had followed the same voice that called to him.

It didn’t take long for Kol’s message to find the ranger, as his renown made him that much easier to hunt down in the crowd—even if it was not so great as his brother’s, or his host’s. Vali had never doubted that the Death’s Hand would join the crusade, but felt a keen spark of excitement at the confirmation. It had been too long since he had seen his brother in the flesh, and longer still since they had fought side by side.

Vali didn’t spend much time in the planning—though he had a connection to Hrothgar through Kol and Hildr, it was not nearly as strong. There was a respect for the man who had killed Mørkt Fjell, and he hoped the king harbored a respect in kind for him, but Vali was not partial to the tactics of all-out war. Still, he heard that Ulfhild Ulven had made herself part of the discussions, and was pleased to hear she too had answered the call. He hoped they might find time for a hunt before the longships left, but knew she may be too preoccupied.

It was news of the King of Strumreef that interested him most. When he heard that Kol’s ship was docking, Vali wasted no time in heading to the shore, seeking out his Bloodbrother for a joyous reunion. Their time was short, though, as the Death’s Hand needed to make for Hrothgar—and they would have time enough to speak.

Over the following days, as the plans became concrete and made their rounds among the growing Heathen Army, Vali chose to attach himself to Kol’s position. He was unaligned enough, having left his home over a decade prior and having no lands of his own, and archers would be useful from any angle.

Vali cherished the feasts, drinking, and merriment to be found with the gathering army, an apprehension brewing for the upcoming voyage.

And as the longships set sail from Meldheim, he tried to reflect on those memories of happier times.

Sailing had never quite agreed with Vali—though he bore it often enough to see Kol, who was often kept by his duties to Strumreef. For one who had spent so long training his Gift to sense the magical energies of movement, the constant output of the ocean was overwhelming enough to be nauseating. He was adept at tuning out the signals he didn’t need to read, but it was much different when not even the ground beneath your feet stayed still.

It took several days for the ranger to find his sea legs, all the while trying not to show his displeasure at the journey. He knew Kol would likely notice regardless, and harass him in the good-natured way his Bloodbrother did, but sought no such treatment from any other warrior around him.

It was just as he was beginning to feel almost normal that the storm hit—pelting them with rain and waves alike. Despite his aggressive sickness, Vali took a station by the railing to draw the force energy of the water and lessen the impact of any waves that struck them broadside. He was sure there were others doing similar work, but couldn’t remember anything but the cycle of water sweeping across the deck and him aiming to vomit away from his boots, the mess always being swept away by the next set of waves.

By the end, the ranger wasn’t sure if he had spent days or mere hours drenched and throwing up on the deck; if he’d taken shifts or spent the whole storm out there; if he ate, or drank, or relieved himself at all during the ordeal. He simply knew, when he woke up in a gently-swaying hammock and didn’t feel sick immediately, that it had passed.

Or he’d drowned and was arriving to Grønhalle by longship—a prospect that was not terribly disagreeable, if the Gestur’s waves were this gentle.

But as he emerged into the moonlight to see his Bloodbrother standing strong, Vali imagined he was not on his way to Grønhalle just yet.


L O C A T I O N | Attack of Relouse
I N T E R A C T I O N | Kol, Death's Hand @Th3King0fChaos


Vali had never prepared for a war of this kind.

He imagined it would be closer to hunting than to raiding, if one considered the kind of beast who fought back.

The ranger would be following his Bloodbrother, to victory or Grønhalle, and understood their purpose well. Still, an apprehension stirred in him greater than any he’d felt before. He was accustomed to a single large target, or a pack of less than a dozen—not to a mass of men with faculties similar to his own, numbering more than he could ever hope to count. It was a daunting prospect, but Vali reassured himself that he was not alone. A hunting party greater than any he’d ever traveled with would break the shores of Relouse.

While Kol tended to his armor and readied himself, Vali sought the quiet darkness of the hold and a moment with his Gods. He had no offerings for them now, having given those on the night before their voyage started, but had prayers.

He prayed to Bróðir, the God of War, of soldiers and raiders, who had called for this crusade. He prayed to Faðir and Systir, who also kept watch over warfare—and over rangers like Vali and Ulfhild, in the case of Systir. He prayed to Móðir, who watched over harbors and the seas, for her blessing as they ventured ever nearer to shore.

At last, he lit a fresh candle and prayed to Gestur, the soft light dancing in the darkness of the hold. The moons would rise soon, and Vali prayed that he would protect them in the night.

And for those who could not be protected, Vali prayed for honor and open arms in Grønhalle.
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Hidden 12 mos ago Post by Pirouette
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Pirouette Ghoul

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Camille de la Saumure

Interaction: None
Two days before Relouse / Port Morilles


The waves rolled in a soft roar as they crashed along the beach like an invader clashing against the bleached brown sand. Slowed to a crawl, the salt water would climb just enough to caress the bare feet of Camille. It was like the beach had missed her. Was going to miss her, she mused in her head. How long had she been here? Any hour or two? It was difficult to know but she knew the sun had noticeably moved from its low perch on the morning horizon to the high peak of noon.

It was almost time.

Her toes dug into the sand as her arms tightened around her knees, curling herself up to as small as she could be. She didn't want to go. When the news broke in Lord Gabriel's keep that the Eskand and Perrence were going to war, she knew what was coming. What would be required of her. She had been doing it for the past year, fending off the increasing waves of overly zealous Eskandr clan leaders to claim an early prize. They only got what was coming to them. Those that she slayed became feed for the gulls. She let so many of them go though. Maybe if they ran back to Eskand, they would only tell about the hopelessness they faced. It was a stupid thought because now all those that she spared were coming back.

She eyed the waves, feeling their cool touch inviting. Maybe she would just lay here, let the waves take her away. She can drift along the briny surface, floating on her back like Alexandre taught her. The sun warmly kissing her face, letting her slip peacefully into a deep sleep so she'd never have to wake again.

Pentad forgive her for having such a thought but she was already tired of killing. If not her, then another would take her place. That's how cruel it could be and rather than give in, she knew she had to keep going. Spare others from having their lives consumed by violence and death. Dami-Sept guided her this far because He knew better than her. He knew she could or would do it to save others from the unfairness that the foul Eskandr brought with them. Her life of misery for a whole city, no, the whole of Perrence to live free from worry. How could she deny that?

The bells of the Pentad's church began to ring. The Pentad answering her, but it was a sound she wished she didn't hear. The bell chimed for the marshaling of Port Morilles forces to begin. They had a good day's ride ahead to reach Relouse and Lord Gabriel didn't want to tarry.

Camille buried her feet in the wet sand. Five more minutes.


Interactions: None
Day before Relouse Invasion / Grand Armee Encampment



They arrived the previous evening with enough time to set up their camp. Lord Gabriel was bringing most of his retainers and together they made a barren section of land, in the already bustling encampment, theirs. Lord Gabriel would be staying in Relouse and he offered Camille a bed as well. At the time she believed it was just him being nice and she politely declined several times but later she'd realize, rather be told, that a woman sleeping in a military camp was unusual. Men might act unusual around her.

They did act unusual around her mostly when she left the area where Lord Gabriel's forces were gathered. When she went around in a plain tunic and trousers (she didn't pack one of her dresses for obvious reasons), she'd be occasionally hounded by those that recognized she was a woman. Where's your dress girl? Can you fetch me something to eat? The poor father who had to send his daughter to war... They were probably innocent about their intentions, it was just obnoxious to hear whenever she left to walk around. She didn't even know how to cook that well.

It was even worse when she decided to wear her armor to try and look more official. People, this time including those that knew her from Lord Gabriel's camp, kept asking her if the Pentad were with them. Blessings, pleads, and all manner of wishes and miracles for Camille to perform. She didn't know how to do any of that stuff. She just prayed and her prayers sometimes got answered. How would she possibly know how to commune with the Pentad? They didn't say anything to her specifically, only answering in ways she had to decipher.

When she finally had enough she retreated to her tent where Claude and Armand were laying around. "Dami spare me, please." Camille whined as she threw open the tent flap and walked in, her full armor rattling as she stomped over to her bedroll.

Claude sat up, his expression shifting to amusement. "Heh. People are looking for any sign they are going to make it out alive, Puce1." Camille paused mid-stride and gave the middle-aged man a look. He lifted his shoulders once and then a hand through his full set of graying hair. "Can't blame 'em for wanting hope."

"Well I know that but you called me puce again." Camille turned towards the man fully now, hands moving to her hips looking at him expectedly. Ever since they worked together as knights under Lord Gabriel, Claude was always doting to her. He had a daughter and a son but to him, Camille was his flea! She never liked that even though he meant well by it. "Oh did I? Ha." The man bellowed, letting his hand message the back of his neck. "Guess I am missing my children already if I am already doing that."

"Better if people underestimate you." Armand chimed in, not bothering to stir from his laying on his bedroll. He had a lot more youth than Claude, hardly having a few ages on Camille. He kept his dark hair short and was rather built compared to the more gaunt figure of Claude. Together, the three of them ran together as Lord Gabriel's knights and had spent the past year together. This campaign was nothing new, although as Claude had said on the march to Relouse, they would be campaigning for a lot longer if this was a true war.

"I know, I know. I just want to be left alone today. I am already nervous enough and when people think I have all the answers, I don't know what to say. I can't just tell them to leave." Camille sighed, finally making it over to her bedroll as she worked to remove one of her plate gloves. "Can one of you just check on Perrin for me, at least." She asked, tossing her glove onto her bed before moving to work on the other one.

"No." Armand quickly replied, receiving a nasty look from Camille in response. Claude, however, rose to his feet with a grunt. "I think ol' Perrin is fine but I'll do it if it means so much to you. But..." Camille froze, lifting her head knowing what was coming. "I get to call you ma puce for the rest of the day." She knew it. Her head dropped in resignation. "Fine. Now go check him. Give him a treat too!"

1 = flea

Interaction: @Ti
Relouse Invasion / Relouse


Camille, Claude, and Armand were ushered in by Lord Gabriel offering them a place to hear King Arcel's speech and blessing. They had to get ready early enough and so now, they stood in full armor amid the thousands waiting for the ceremony to begin. At first, Camille wanted to reserve her prayer for Dami to relieve her of the weight she carried, both mentally and physically. In full armor, her shield on her back, greatsword propped against her shoulder, she felt exerted from just walking from her tent to the pavilion where the King would make his speech.

Under her breath she muttered her prayer for relief. "Dami judge me right and take this weight for me." A prayer she made every time she was in her full kit and the relief was almost instantaneous, the weight of her armor lifted to be like she was wearing cloth. Her shield pulling on her back, felt like air, and her sword, nothing more than an extension of her arms. She breathed a sigh of relief. The Pentad, namely Dami, could forgive her for making an early prayer.

King Arcel began and reverently, Camille removed her helmet and came to a kneel, laying her greatsword upon her knees. She closed her eyes and with every word, she recited under her breath. It might have been desperate or out of line but she believed the Pentad had to hear their prayers here. All of them. Her people were good, fair, and honest. The Eskandr were cruel, violent, and malicious. How could the Pentad judge this any differently so they had to know. Even if They had to hear it twice. She could feel the Pentad responding, her knees feeling the shake of Their touch through the ground. It was like it was surging to everyone. It was a good sign, Camille believed.

"Amen." She said loudly after the Queen, opening her eyes and raising her head. Several others around her were kneeling with her as a surprise but that was the right thing to do, she thought.

Rising now to her feet, she looked to Claude and Armand. Claude nodded at her while Armand gave her a weak smile. She gave them a nod and a smile back before receiving a bump from behind…

Asier uses the opportunity after prayers to greet Camille as he spots the woman in the gathering nearby. “Pardon, do you happen to be Dame De la Saumure? You are difficult to recognise without the golden skin.” he playfully remarks on the legend as he greets her in a friendly manner, “The Fleur de Lys gave it away. My name is Ser Arslan, Tourrare horseman turned Knight, a Man of Arcel, it is a pleasure to meet someone with a reputation like yours, my daughter loves the stories of your exploits”.

It wasn’t really a bump, more of a tap. It did accomplish the intended effect and Camille turned to witness a man she had never seen before. He knew her, though.

”Oui.” She muttered in reply, realizing where this conversation was going. It wasn’t just the common people who knew her but some of the nobility as well would come up and talk to her. Her stories preceded her, it seemed and the past year of her incursions to defend the southern coast of Perrence were apparently known even to the far stretches of Tourrare.

She didn’t like the stories of her having golden skin.

With a reverent bow, keeping her greatsword pinned to her chest to make sure she wasn’t accidentally swinging her blade in Ser Arslan’s direction, she made the appropriate sign of respect. ”Greetings, Ser Arslan. I do not know if I live up to the stories they tell. People like to make up a lot of things I do…” She resigned humbly, glancing away.

Asier grins widely as he laughs, putting his hand upon the woman’s shoulder. He was thankful she wasn’t 6ft either, as he would have been dwarfed by her size. “Si, you know as the Lion Knight, the Lions must be kept in the stables. It is always tricky when Aslan, Simba, and Leo get hungry. The noble horses don’t tend to like it. Hope your own steed is locked up safely in case they become peckish.” He can empathize with the tall tales and gossip that is spread, subject to those himself, some of them even unflattering thanks to the actions of those envious, can imagine the same for Camille too. “My presence is not aimed to bother you, but if your skill is only a quarter of what they say, we need this strength on this day. Pleased to have you by our side.” He lets go of her shoulder, moving to offer a handshake, treating his fellow warrior as an equal.

Her attention snapped back at the mention of Ser Arslan keeping lions. She had never seen one before but had heard they were vicious beasts. While he could keep them, Camille felt alarm at the mention of keeping lions with the horses! ”You keep your lions and horses together?” She inquired but got her answer from a third party. Claude behind her let out a chuckle. ”No girl, those are the stories they tell about him.”

Camille felt her cheeks warm in a blush. ”Oh.” She muttered, quietly taking his hand and shaking it. ”May Dami judge us all to be on the right side, Ser Arslan.”

Asier nods to Camille’s companions in respect, “Dami will judge us wisely. Now we must retire to the King’s council. After we win this battle, my daughter will be excited for a few days about having the padre papá after meeting you”. He smiles warmly as he departs, “May we meet again”.

Camille gave the man a weak smile. She certainly hoped he would see his daughter again. ”Oui. Dami guide you through battle.” She offered, seeing the man turn and walk. The aspect of being an encouraging figure had always been difficult to her but after a year, she had a couple of lines ready to sound like she knew what to say.

She also figured out that the nobles didn’t need as much mysticism as the commoners did. It was strange but with nobility, she found herself to be more reserved and humble. To the commoner, however, she had to appear steadfast. It was exhausting and she turned back to Claude and Armand.

Claude was amused by it all and Armand looked like his head was in the clouds. ”Always wondered what it would be like to have a reputation like yours, girl. Can’t believe you don’t have fun with it.” Claude received a dirty look and he raised his hands defensively. ”Fine, fine. We should get going. Lord Gabriel’s levy is likely to have made it back home in the time it took for the King to make his speech.”

Camille could only wish that would be the case.
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jasbraq The Youngest Elder

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Hildr the Red


It took her quite a bit of courage to even have the gall to talk back to him. With a rather shaky voice the knight responded.

"I only believe because of the man who gifted me with a life worth living..."

She tried to swallow some lingering saliva as her throat felt dry after the king confronted her about her blood brothers. It was then that a reassuring memory of her first blood brother, the death hand from their time slaying the beast. Hildr let out a soft smile.

"Do not worry your highness. If I meet them as enemies... I shall sent them to their grave honourably... More than I would give the Parrencemen."

Otto paused for a moment, seeming to consider. If anything, his scowl only deepened. "Clear a space," he commanded, drawing a mighty longsword. "Bard, let us see how well your music might follow the cut and thrust of battle." The king squared himself up. "It is clear to me that you cannot be trusted," he told Hildr. "However, I am nothing if not a fair man. You heeded my summons in good faith and so I shall give you a way to leave here in spite that you are my enemy."

He cleared his throat. "Sir Danneman, step forward." At that, a small, nimble-looking man emerged from the pack of guards. His armour was lighter than most, only covering vital spots. He held a number of daggers strapped to his person and a bastard sword in his left hand. He began circling wordlessly, eyes fixed on Hildr and yet darting about his surroundings, taking them in. "This is Sir Rodric Danneman, a... knight in my service. I would fight you myself but, sadly, I now have higher responsibilities as a king."

The guards had cleared a large space in the center of the great hall. "This shall be a duel," declared the king. "Combatants shall fight to first blood and no further. Fatal blows are to be discouraged but, in the heat of the moment, we shall acknowledge that accidents happen." Otto glanced at his chosen champion. "Should your hand slip and this pagan goes to meet Eschiran and know the error of her ways, you will not be counted a murderer."

"At stake is your freedom as an enemy of this kingdom." He turned to Hildr. "Win and you shall be given provisions and four days to cross the border into your native Kressia. Lose, and you shall be imprisoned as an enemy national." The king stepped back, surrounded by a dozen royal guards, and raised an arm. They began shouting words of encouragement to Sir Rodric: "Eschiran empower you!", "Slay that heathen!", "We shall feast after this, Rod, I know it!"

After a moment of tense silence, Otto dropped his raised arm. "Commence!" he shouted.
All at once, there was a large intake of energy. Sir Rodric disappeared and, surrounding Hildr were five of him. Each began stamping his lead foot, and the sound seemed to come equally from all directions.

Hildr could feel the stamping of that lead foot resonate through her entire body, the thrill of the coming battle overtaking her. It was invigorating, although the way the opponent was fighting got the hire blade rather annoyed.

"Rodric was it?... May I have the privilege to ask what kind of parlour trick this is? I thought this was meant to be a battle, not a dance." To think someone would dare use illusions in a duel. It made her all the more mad thinking about it. "To think Otto sets the bar for being a knight so low, I almost pity the other knights for being grouped with you." A sly smirk covered her face as she showed herself in a false sense of being open.

There was not a word from Rodric. Instead, one of the five of him plunged right for the opening, while another, moving perhaps slightly faster than the others, circled around to the precise opposite side, trying to hide his half-step forward and tensing up to strike.

There it was, that rush of adrenaline, the man didn't even try to hit her in a non-lethal spot. Hildr picked up a divergence in the sound, it wasn't only the one in front that stopped circling her.... There was also one that deviated from the other side. seeing there wasn't any more time to respond, the knight moved her body slightly to swing the arming sword while aiming for the temple, hoping she calculated his steps well enough.

There was nothing that motivated Sir Rodric quite like a good insult. Nothing more enjoyable to take down than a haughty knight who judged him based on his fighting style. That this pagan would think him so predictable!

Hildr's sword flashed through the shadow clone that he'd set up to give the the appearance of being his true self, sneaking in from behind. Meanwhile, the assassin came at her from the front, his true self the obvious 'decoy'. His sword plunged into the gap beneath her armpit and struck true, drawing a small trickle of blood from beneath her armpit.

Yet, then, something crashed into his head with stunning force, and he staggered backwards, blinking furiously.

The stinging pain of being struck hit the knight as she realised she had guessed wrong, angering her to no end.

Using force magic to draw the blade back with unexpected speeds for such a blade. Hitting the knight of trickery in the head with enough force to draw blood, her pummel barely stained from the quickness of it.

The woman goes in to strike the disoriented knight once more before realizing she had already drawn blood.

Rodric staggered back but quickly caught himself, automatically warping the light to disappear from sight, and not a moment too soon. She had one in for a second strike, the filthy pagan, intent on unnecessary bloodshed as they all were. She was quick as she was wicked and uncocuth, this Hildr: the work Force magic, Rodric knew, an 'honourable' type of magic to the haughty types, while his wasn't. He was used to the double standards by now, of course.

He reappeared some distance away and bowed. Imperfection on his part, but he had learned much. "It appears she drew blood at nearly the same time as I," Rodric admitted. "I apologize for my failure, my king." If he'd faced her the way that he preferred, of course, without the formality of a duel in King Otto's great hall, she wouldn't have even seen him coming. The pagan bitch would be lying in a pool of her own blood, mewling for her heathen Gods to take her soul to their green groom or whatever it was. As it was, he had embarrassed himself utterly by not making sport of her. Such strength and reflexes, he acknowledged to himself, and the former for a woman!

Sir Rodric Danneman knelt before his king and bowed his head low. "I shall compensate for my failure by going in person to Relouse, should your majesty allow it, and leading our mission there."

King Otto stepped forward, now that the duel had reached its unsatisfactory conclusion. "It appears that Dami has spared you for the time being, but as halfheartedly as possible." He addressed Hildr now. "For what purpose, I cannot say, but I bow to the wisdom of the Pentad." He cleared his throat and twisted. "As for you, Sir Rodric, you shall accompany our contingent to Relouse. You shall fight in that conflict and you shall return here and advise me as to the strengths of the two armies involved. We shall speak at length this evening.

He regarded Hildr once more. "As for you, woman, Sir Rodric struck simultaneously and, had he not been aiming for a wounding strike, doubtless could've sent you to your death. Thus, coupled with your behaviour and refusal to disavow false gods, the initial generosity of my offer has been rescinded. You are to leave, immediately, with but the articles in your possession. On my honour as king, you will be given two days to remove yourself from my kingdom, unharried. Should you return, however, I expect it shall be among the Eskandr, where you shall be shown no quarter nor mercy." His guards formed up around him. They parted only to let her pass out the door.

"She will have none from me," said Sir Rodric quietly. Then, more loudly. "I look forward to seeing you upon the beaches of Relouse, my lady, though I doubt you will so much as see me before meeting your gods."

As the battle had come to a close and the tension left the room, Hildr’s normal attitude returned. Coming off much weaker as before.

“Then I thank you for your accommodation… And hope to the Father to not meet you in battle, your highness….”

Being escorted out of the hall seemed rather unnecessary to her as the knight already planned to leave. Kressia… She hadn’t been there in a while and it might be worth some coin to be hired there once more. Lindermetz, however, was a lost cause. They’d been wary but open last time. Now, a kind of dogmatic inflexibility had taken over and they were kicking her out as if she were a criminal after having invited her as a guest.

She brushed out of the doorway and there stood an array of commonfolk being ushered away for the day. One woman, however, remained, hands posted on hips. “I heard what happened in there, Lady Knight.” She was middle-aged and a bit overweight, with a leathery face and hard, flinty eyes. “It ain't right what they done to you.” She shook her head. “But they been doin’ it more an’ more lately.” She glanced sourly at the door and, rather presumptuously, reached out and took Hildr by the arm. “Now, they given you two days because they know it in’t enough time to get outta this place, but that’s if you’re you.” She grinned, displaying a crooked, yellowed, but generally well-cared-for set of teeth. “We fix you up with a traveling cloak or a nice dress - on your coin, of course - hide the weapons in a bag… nobody’ll be the wiser. I know a caravan leaving for Salterburgh* ‘round about dinnertime. We hurry, we can getcha on it and somewhere safer.” She paused, forcing Hildr to do the same. “Name’s Frida, by the way. Already got yours. Now what say you?”

"Why would you help a heathen?... Shouldn't you hate me for following the old ways?" Even though she herself wasn't even that religious, she did get the downsides of it. "But if you truly offer it from the bottom of your heart… I can't refuse… I'll pay for it all.. and I'll be in your debt.." Hildr let out a soft smile towards the woman.

Frida quirked an eyebrow. “All muscle and not much brains to you, huh?” She shook her head and lowered her voice. “Not all of us are on about Ipty, Damy, Shoon, and whatever the other two are, you know.” She sniffed and shook her head tightly. “We should be looking out for each other jus’ like the Quentists do. Anyways, fair’s just fair, you know, and you didn’t get ‘fair’ treatment at all. Bugs me.” She pressed her lips into a line, businesslike, and nodded. “Now let’s get you dolled up and on your way. You’re a pretty young thing beneath all that armour. Shouldn’t be hard.”

Hildr would blush slightly as the other complimented her appearance. "You're not a Quentist?... I never would have guessed... Alright, let's go with your plan. I Will promise to pay you well for your efforts." It seems that the woman was true to her word and after a small redressing in more feminine attire, Hildr set off to Kressia in a newly made dress. It had made her feel rather awkward.

Hidden 12 mos ago Post by Force and Fury
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Hidden 12 mos ago 9 mos ago Post by Force and Fury
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Act One: The Defense of Relouse____ __ _ _

Chapter Two: Cometh the Southmen_________ __ __ _ _



It was well into the Hours of Echeran when it began. The sun sat low in the sky, not quite setting, though it would soon begin its final plunge. The people of Relouse - those who remained - huddled in their homes, their cellars and the great redoubt of the keep, deep in prayer. Ringing out across the fields and the deep rolling waters of the Baie de Relouse, came the bells of Notre-Dame du Cap. Footsteps thundered on the wooden stairs as monks hurried up the belltower of the church of Dami, Père Sage. Finally, those of Saint. Defrois cathedral itself sounded the alarm, and the knights, soldiers, and magicians of the Grande Armée knew that the time was nigh. They said their final prayers and prepared themselves for battle. The Eskandr had come.

A mile and a half off of Cape Redame, the leading ships of the Great Heathen Army crested the horizon: over a thousand of their striped and patterned sails silhouettes in the light of the dying sun. The waves of the Parrench Sea roiled and snapped at their dragon-headed longships, spitting spray and fury in their faces. It was as if even the very waters of this place were fighting them, the strange gods of the Pentad protecting their peoples.

Clad in the great dark cloak for which he was named, stood Hrothgar the Black, king of Eskandr kings. The deck below his feet pitched and rolled in the heavy seas, but his was the Gift as few others possessed, and he remained steady and planted with a preternatural ease. Yet, this was not some mere show of strength, for on the deck with him were twenty-four of the greatest shamans, magicians, and holy men that his nation could muster. All of them were straining to their very limits in the throes of a duty that they had been training and preparing for months ahead of time. Anyone watching from the cliffs of Cape Redame would not see his ship. They would not see the colossal spell that their enemy had planned, or... rather, they would. Amid the immense strain of the Arcane, the king of kings managed a small, toothy smile. These greenlanders would not know what had hit them.


Yet, up on the cliffs by the monastery, there were some who knew all too well what was coming. Yet they stood unafraid as the enemy fleet drew nearer. They had all lived enough to be skeptical every time they were told that a 'great army' of Eskandr was headed their way. Yet, some glanced nervously amongst themselves. Others made the Sign of the Pentad. The longships just kept coming. The Parrench had expected to have a numbers advantage, as they often did, but there were not hundreds of ships. Not even so few as a thousand. A chill traveled up more than one spine. Were they to believe their eyes, the enemy fleet seemed virtually endless.

The battle was joined some three hundred yards from the grey cliffs. The longships were strung out in a great line, stretching well past the horizon. There were simply too many of them to land all at once. Nonetheless, as the leading edge of the fleet came within range, the catapults and ballistas opened fire, their projectiles empowered by the magic of Chune and Echeran. These rained death upon the Eskandr and their own magical defenses were at a full stretch to deflect or absorb as much of the determined Parrench barrage as possible. A half-dozen of the dragon-headed ships exploded into flames or splinters, masts toppling, people screaming, steam rising as they were consumed by the waves.

Yet, there were so many more, and they unleashed a withering return fire. Fireballs, lightning bolts, and telekinetic slams hammered the dogged defenders, and many were forced to take cover. Hundreds of arrows took flight, many dropping short but many more finding their mark. Great chunks were carved from the cliffs. Rock gave way and hit the seas with an erupting splash. The very ground collapsed from under a catapult and the soldiers and monks manning it fell to their deaths. A fireball struck one of the towers of the old Avincian era church, and it collapsed in a shower of boulders and dust, bells letting out one last discordant cry. Chunks shot out in every direction, spraying the defenders, and the king's banner that had flown atop it disappeared from view. This was far more than they had expected - far more than the defenders closer to the city might be ready for. More than one rider suggested sending word before it was too late and the armies had met.


Meanwhile, the Eskandr had filled the fleeting gaps in their line with ruthless efficiency, each ship's decks loaded with warriors shouting and beating their chests, rabid with the bloodlust of the coming battle and the chance to carve their names into the history books. For those who didn't live to ask in the glory awaited the Visitor's great table at Grønhalle: a fine consolation. Finally, from out among their great many number began to spread a mist: an unnatural one that left them room to maneuver close to shore but that obscured the next waves of the attack.

The small advance party at the Cape found itself significantly outgunned. In particular, there must've been a Thunder Warlock*1 of extreme power. Lighting flashed down from the heavens with stunning power and precision, striking ballistas, catapults, and towers. It cooked knights in their armour and melted spears to slag. Yet, as the mighty attacks from the sky became more frequent, others began to tail off. A final few ships trickled out from the mists, which lingered, yet to dissipate, and the fleet that had so terrorized the Parrench now occupied the Bay of Relouse in its entirety. Though perhaps not quite so large as the defenders had feared in their initial anxiousness, it was nonetheless an enormous force, far outstripping that of any conventional raid.

Racing back already from the first, indecisive engagement, some hoping to hit the landing enemies from an unexpected direction, came the surviving members of the force from Cape Redame. They watched as the very first of the enemies leapt from their longships in the shallows, struggling to make landfall in a land that was not their own.




Meanwhile, quite a ways distant, by Bridal Veil Falls and hidden amongst the swamps of the Witch Woods, a rear guard comprised mainly of yasoi and Drudgunzean allies waited, ready to defend the camp against a flanking maneuver or diversionary landing or even to be called to shore up any gaps in the line should they be needed. That the main landing was taking place some ways down the beach was evident. Already, those not too deep in the foliage could hear the sounds of battle and see the flashes of fire, lightning, and other magics being employed. For many of these people, the war being fought was not theirs, but they recognized - variously - the danger that the Eskandr posed to all should they succeed here, the opportunity for profit, or the word of Lady Talit'yrash'osmax, the fifth wheel dervish who would someday likely inherit the title of Baroness of Loriindton.

So, imagine their surprise when, from around the point of the Île Contrefort and the little cabin perched on the rocky islet there, rolled a great, all-consuming mist at an unnatural pace. From it emerged longship after longship, hurtling with immense speed toward the cliffs. The Force magic expended was palpable. Grappling hooks shot out by the hundreds and other warriors - those skilled enough in the Gift - leapt the hundred-plus feet and landed on Parrench ground. The final sliver of sun perched on the sea, its light shrouded and diffused by the mists. Then, an enormous warrior, clad from head to toe in black armour crafted from dragonscale, landed in a crouch, a spiderweb of cracks in the ground spreading out from where he now stood. There were some who did not know who he was, but he nonetheless cut a fearsome figure. Those who did, however, would recognize Kol, the Death's Hand: King of Sturmreef.

Clinging to the tallest tree that she could find with one hand and the heel-spur of her climbing boot, Lady Talit scanned the emergin force. This was it, then: the Eskandr gambit. They would draw off defenders by sending a small force under Death's Hand around the back. Attack the camps, harry the Market Gate, make people panic and commit too many troops to stopping them. Reaching out with a fifth wheel's Blood Magic, she grabbed hold of hundreds of branches within a three hundred yard radius, twisting them into a series of signals:

Fight. Here. No. Backup. Avoid. Enemy. King.

She knew who she had. None of them could match a monster like that, not with four moons in the fast-darkening sky. Better to frustrate him with movement and illusion, pick off his forces, and grind down their will. One did not face yasoi in the trees and survive. She would take out as many as she could. Then, she would deal with their king. Still, she thought, as she pushed off of the tree and latched on with her grappling chains to the next, they keep coming. This was... very large for a diversionary force.




Sir Rodric Danneman of Lindermetz had come ostensibly to make up for his shame in not besting that pagan woman mercenary in single combat. Indeed, there was still the remnants of a bruise near his temple, nearly faded, to act as a reminder.

Yet, he'd have found a way to be here regardless. His mother was Parrench. The Parrench were a civilized people. The Eskandr were not. Most of all, though, he just enjoyed putting his skills to use.

The first wave landed amid a hail of magic, projectiles, and traps, yet they were not stupid. They began with fire: great cleansing coordinated blasts of it that burned away wooden obstacles, sent defenders reeling, and even dried out much of the ground itself. Eschiran! That's some serious Arcane power! the knight thought. Yet, for all of their flash, they were still ruthlessly mauled. Mostly older men and some women, hair greying, strength fading, sons and daughters well raised, Rodric knew what they were: the sacrificial vanguard, fighting solely to die bravely and take their place in Groan-Hall or whatever it was these heathens called it. So be it, decided the Linderman. He would send many on their way.

Like a hot knife through lard, he scythed through these Eskandr, the power of illusion allowing him to step past one's guard and the next. They died screaming the names of their bloodthirsty gods, some crying tears of both fear and joy and Rodric found himself disgusted. All around him, the first line of the Parrench king's forces were engaged with the Southmen, and the line was holding. The Drudgunzean knight reached out then, with the Gift, to search for what was next. So chaotic was the battlefield that he did not trust his more mundane senses. It was hard not to feel confident. There were many more Eskandr to come, but they were being effectively funneled and had not yet gotten past so much as the beach itself.

Then, Sir Rodric blinked. He redoubled his efforts, blinking again in confusion. He cast about and, already the clamour of battle seemed to be fading. People normally had energy: essence, force, and arcane most simply, and he had sensed a great deal of generalized energy from the onrushing ships as they had approached, but he sensed none from their direction now. A cold, icy ball congealed in the pit of his stomach just as a distinct pattern of lightning strikes flashed in his far right peripheral, up near Bridal Veil Falls and the Witch Wood. We've been taken, the knight realized, as the first of the ghost ships hit shore and dissipated. Just like Vitroux: Hook, line, and sinker.




In the lee of a series of great boulders, both ancient and recently carved from the cliffs off of Cape Redame, Hrothgar the Black smiled between his gritted teeth. The first of his ghost fleet had reached shore and the hardest part was over. They'd released the miasma of heat and essences they'd conjured in the water to fool those looking for energy among the nonexistent ships. The king took a moment to let his eyes dart about. Two of the warlocks had collapsed. A shaman was throwing up over the side of the boat. It had worked, though. He breathed a bit, still focused on reaching out and bending the light. Let the illusion continue. Let them grow accustomed to it. Let it make them uneasy and afraid to commit. Kol would've landed about now, and many of the outstanding warriors his old brother in arms had drawn to himself, like the Twice-Born and that huntress of Ulven, would be with him. That his other old comrade from the days of Mørkt Fjell were here, he did not know. Things were more complicated with the Drudgunzeans these days as their kings turned sour and they fought internal struggles for the soul of their nations.

What was not as complicated, however, was what would come next. Soon, the illusion could be dispelled. The landing would be complete and he would join the battle. That Parrench boy-king with his disgusting beardless face that looked like a young girl's would be met with Hrothgar's sword. This, he swore to Brother, that the Parrench kingdom might be destroyed and his people left to live the way that they always had.







1) Sweyn Thunderspear is one of King Hrothgar's ten elite warriors: the Æresvaktr. A fifth wheel thunderchild warlock, he specializes in thunder magic, with secondary abilities in blood and force.
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Hidden 12 mos ago Post by A Lowly Wretch
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A Lowly Wretch The Listless Loiterer

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Strange Magic at Work



Nobody answered.

Not one person spoke to her in this field of shell-clad men and women clutching their shards, scurrying about their maze of tents. She instead kept to the sides of those who brought her here. They might not of acknowledged her either but wherever they might of been going is possibly where they might need her. Such is how she had found herself lead to the forest that stood upon these lands.

These woods were plenty but they were no swamp. The life here was soft, friendly trees with pleasant creatures abound. A lovely place to live but a terrible place to fight.

From what she knew most of the battle would take place down by the beach. She had overheard one of the men talking about how they're here to prevent any Eskandres, whatever those were, from sneaking through the woods and attacking the people they were here to protect. With that mind she got to work. She would make these woods tougher, a fine place to repel bipeds like them.

_
First thing's first was the ground. There was ground. A poor initial assessment as proper swamps were meant to be traversed upon the roots of the trees that call them home. She scattered about some Paralysap Tree seeds, a few here, a few there. She would hold off on the strugglethorn briars for now as she didn't want to bring harm to the others who may not have been very wary of what to watch out for in a good swamp.

After a suitable amount of these trees were planted she would begin her ritual. In order to bring the waters up and flood the ground so only swamp remains she needed rain. She produced from her satchel her censer and loaded it with a mixture to best invoke mysteries, lighting it within using a mote of flame carried upon her breath.

Amidst the many trees in the dense woods she raised aloft her crook and began to chant an unknown call in her native language. She drew from the heat in the air, the stones on the ground and the photosynthesis from the leaves around her, pulling from many sources as she anchored herself to the world, drawing on it's symbiotic network.

High up in the sky clouds began to gather. Slow at first but they built up greater and darker, the water weight within these great mixtures in the sky building as she continued to sing. Before long the sky over the forest was completely covered in clouds, brimming with the potential for a storm that laid within. All the while the trees around fed upon her drawing, growing taller and taller yet as the canopy thickened. Her new trees had already germinated and were swiftly rising up from sapling-hood into the new trees she wanted them to be.

_
With the first few drops the rain began. Even as the winds carried the storm clouds along their stream she continued to add to them, priming the ground to receive their rain while she built upon the storm she was brewing. Slowly she traveled as she continued her calls to the clouds above, invoking their mysteries through chants harkening to their place within the third egg that laid dormant in the dark, it's shell peaking through the night sky in the form of countless sparkling gaps in the great abyss through which it's light still peaks through. Her prayers unto the great dragon Father would slake this land as his saliva had done with all this world's water.

Though the rains were finally starting to pick up she heard a great crashing at the cliffs, a most unexpected place to hear such commotion. Though she continued unto her chant she could not help but look out, taking cover behind a tree that was now quite large, easily double what it was previously. Her paralysap trees were now oozing with a sickly yellow sap, the stuff being washed down by the rain and carried into the standing pools or else washed out into the many streams that were now roiling as the rains continued to build.

She kept her every sense, mundane and magical, keenly open for even though she might of been some distance away from the front of where the action was taking place with lady Talit or the others she could already feel magic that was apart from hers at work. They were bringing with them mists of their own. Were these aggressive enemy beasts to approach her she might have to create her own in order to escape a direct confrontation. She was already hiding save for a slight peak between chants to see what may be coming. She could only hope they weren't drawn to her song.

Still the sky did darken, the rain coming ever harder, the canopy ever thicker. Still she did chant.


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