Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Rune_Alchemist
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"Ahaha, easy!" Cecil laughed heartily as her arrows found their marks. The creatures knees being severed, its arm ripped nearly in twain from the burst of wind. Fleshy undead were no more tough than men, really. All could be taken care of pretty easily...as long as well, they both stayed dead.

"Cecil! Stay alert something's not right!"

Was all the warning Cecil would have as the undead beast seemed to mutate. Tendrils of red exploding from the beasts body, coiling through the air and reaching outwards, immediately reaching towards the captain and those near it. Frowning, she'd quickly take a moment to assess the situation. Its weapon had been dealt with. Momentarily immobilized. Maybe if they took out its torso? She could do it, but it'd take a few arrows.

Which meant...its head.

"Don't have to tell me twice!"

An arrow, quickly knocked. An exhale. It wasn't often she pulled on the full extent of her magical abilities from Shael...but she might as well make the most of it, here.

"O Guidance of the wind, guide, strike true that which is impure - Shael, Windburst!"

Instead of a twang, there was a solid fwoosh as the arrow was loosed. A simple spell of both guidance from the wind, as well as the Windburst. Supposing it didn't move, it should hit. Should.

The man from Barukstaed
@Crimson Paladin@Conscripts@Creative Chaos

The axe swung, intending to strike Fleuri down. It might have met its target too, at least the blast damage might have...had it not been for Vier stepping into the Axe's path, despite it glowing with explosive, arcane might.

A metallic clang was briefly heard followed by a boom as the blades connected. A flash of light, dust and debris billowing from the area as Vier would find his vision suddenly jolted upwards as his feet left the ground, his sword arm straining from the impact as his blade took the full force of the axe's explosive might. He'd hit the ground, hard, rolling a few feet along the cold ground of the mausoleum and blade clanging to the ground next to him, his arm throbbing with pain.

He'd heft his axe once more, swiftly, intending a follow up strike on Flueri, but Steffen had other ideas. He couldn't stop Vier from taking the blow, but Vier had no doubt at least saved Flueri the misfortune from being on the receiving end of the explosive enchantment as Steffen rammed the man, hammering his shoulder into the warriors body, earning a grunt from him as he'd be forced briefly off balance, having to change his stance to prevent himself from being knocked over.

"Tch," He'd grumble, attempting to raise his axe only to find Steffen preventing him from doing so, grunting in mild pain Flueri would make a move to impale his neck on the knights blade. Unable to properly deflect or avoid, Flueri would find his blade barely sinking into the mans flesh, a shallow cut as he'd barely manage to move his head to the side.

He'd respond by simply raising his axe with one hand, arcane might glowing once more as he'd move his hand right up the haft to where the blade met, intending on bringing it down on Steffen's head at close range.

Of course, this was only a small feint. Even if Steffen moved, he'd immediately grab the end of the axe with his now freed hand, swing it around and slam it into Flueri.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by ERode
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"Far more desperate. Far more forward." Words echoed, their fight stalled for a brief moment. Serenity narrowed her eyes incrementally, hollow light within the cerulean gaze. There was nothing pleasant about such laughter, even if Damon wasn't a blood-thirsting zombie. "You would compare yourself favorably against the common people of Thaln, yet ignore that unlike them, you were born into House Cazt."

Born to privilege and education, to mannerisms and the noble's obligation. To be an exemplar that common folk aspire towards, to be the paragon that common folk shelter before. And that was not a duty one was freed from in death, for their life has been blessed many times more than the son of a peasant, a merchant, a craftsman, a servant. If they were a steward of the land, it was their duty to see it flourish. If they were gifted the swordhand of a war-spirit, it was their duty to restrain it, to lash out only against foes of the realm.

Your Ancestors rest in the Elysian Fields.
Die they may, but forever stand as humanity's shields.

She would not understand Damon. Damon could not understand her.

So onwards, the shadow-dance continued, wind whistling and sparks clashing as steel met steel, boots sliding against cold stone, dust kicked up into clouds of haze with the blasphemed crypt. She could see it in his face now, curiosity and thought behind the veneer of a vampire-noble. But so long as he remained within the realm of a duel, she could follow along. His manual of swordsmanship was centuries out-dated, and as for herself? The lion was ready to try.

Steel sang its deflectional parry, the longer blade's tip flicked aside by the forte of the shortsword. In the same motion, Serenity released her grip on the mace, momentum sending the flanged head towards Damon's face without any telegraph. It wasn't a maiming throw. Just a distraction for what happened next.

A step to the side. A spin of the wrist. Shortsword slicing towards the extended forearm, angled so that even if retracted, flesh would be drawn against the edge. Free hand now, grasping the blade. Pulling at it, pulling with the intent of disarming a vampire who would hopefully have just had the tendons of his arm severed.

And if not? Then that was fine too. The more weapons Serenity discarded, the lighter she got.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Raineh Daze
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Down in the Mausoleum

Serenity's opponent raised an eyebrow at bringing up the house of his birth, but didn't say anything as Serenity finally made her move. The mace was avoided with the unnatural ease that came with magical enhancement, head twitched aside in the space between one blink and the next. His response to the attack on his wrist could be considered... inspired. There was a peculiar foolishness in trying to block it with his wrist, the sword going much deeper than tendons. Almost too easily, the long blade dropping to the ground, still in hand.

But Damon... he didn't seem bothered at all, for all the space he'd suddenly made between them, merely giving a reproachful tut. "That is the classic rookie mistake when fighting against vampires, my dear. Most demons, too. All this sort of crippling injury does is ruin our clothing."

He held up the stump for emphasis. Slowly oozing blood--not nearly as much as such an injury would warrant, but enough to stain the sleeve around it and drip in a thin line to the floor, a trail leading back to the severed hand.

That was the warning before said hand whipped around, a baleful red flame flickering into life along the blade as it made a lunge for Serenity's back. Clearly, all concepts of a normal duel were out, now, the vampire dissuading any rush for his person by firing the now-reloaded crossbow between them.

At this point, it exploding into more of that barely-illuminating flame couldn't be a surprise at all.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by HereComesTheSnow
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Gerard Segremors


The jarring of the impact carried through his grip, cross his elbow, and down the length of his arm, and with it came the knowledge that his strike was sure and true. In its instant wake, the billow of white-gold flame of derelict flesh meeting aggressive purity, and the deep, ugly crack of a shattering knee twice the size of any man's.

As the momentum of his rush carried him further, in his peripheral he saw the hulking mass of reanimated flesh shift, waver, and then sag to the floor. A breath later, the mighty crash of the massive hammer falling to the floor, the arm carrying it in tow. Crippled. Nearly dead. Not quite yet—

Before he could pivot and skid to a full stop, something flashed to his front, and before his eyes could pull the form from the blurring metal his shield rose to intercept its path. Reflexes acted faster than thoughts and commands. The speed and direct path meant that there wasn't time to rely on anything else.

A deep, thunking report— thrown knife. Had to be. Too common a sound in his old profession— it was a rare mercenary that didn't try to learn the skill to pass the time, if not add it to their arsenal.

His instincts told him to pry it free and sling it back at the enshrouded figure near the stairwell. Occupy the threat, pin him in place to defend or throw him off his retreat course to dodge. For it's own sake, even, there always was a certain satisfaction to harassing ranged fighters with the sudden surprise.

However, fate did not allow this.

He heard Dame Cecilia's incantation, the growling winds that surrounded her next arrowhead.

He heard Lein's hastened warning, before the hammering thrum of his bowstring, sending arrow after arrow downrange.

He heard the Captain's yelp of surprise, panic creeping into her tone as, with a sickening squelch—


He whirled, bringing the blessed morningstar to bear with another mighty swing. A hit to the spine to freeze it in place was the general notion. Instead, he was greeted with the sight of Dawn's Break smashing into red threads of animated muscle that were extending from the severed shoulder, towards his neck. Another moment and it would have choked him.

His eyes followed the tendrils from their root point, the burning flame warding off those that sought his end.


He burst into motion. Even one second wasted, and the Order would be tarnished with yet another fallen leader. They'd already brushed with death, her and he, just two days prior— and already, he had made up his mind. She was young, inexperienced, thrust into a station few could be ready for. None, he would argue, none her age would be. A kid. No older than he when he first became a faceless grunt.

Dawn's Break flew, hurled in the direction of the stump's base. He needed his hands free. If Reon smiled upon him, the weapon may even have grazed the mass of tendrils in its flight.

An instant behind came the shield, cast in the path of the remaining tendrils that would check his movement. They grabbed, snatched, reached for things to crawl along, devour, and choke— the disc of wood and metal would occupy them for the crucial moment he needed.

If he, so convinced of his battlefield tenure, allowed her to die under his watch...

He could never call himself a Knight.

Pulled free from the scabbard on his back, his longsword was a steely thunderbolt, crashing down upon the trunk of sinew with all the cutting force its blade and wielder, oldest and purest of allies, could muster.
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by VitaVitaAR
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The muscle tissue tendrils groped and snatched at the shield, blinding scrabbling for anything they could wrap around and finding little purchase. It allowed Gerard to push his way through them, forging a path directly to Fanilly.

Her heart was pounding, her free hand grasping for the dagger on her hip only to be stopped by further tendrils of crimson flesh. It was trying to find her throat, to find anything that it could crush or constrict to kill her. She knew that. She knew. It was trying to pull her in at the same time, to drag her into its ragged, decayed, corrupted form as kill her that way instead. She could see the tendrils sliding around beneath its decayed skin. See the way its hulking body twisted.

Fanilly's heart was faltered, her body trembling, and-

Sir Gerard's blade struck true.

The muscle tendrils, as strong as they were, could not hold fast against steel, and were cut apart, allowing Fanilly to free her arms and pull away as swiftly as she could manage.

"Thank you, S-Sir Gerard!"

She tried to stifle it, but she couldn't resist the hitch in her voice, the moment of fear that had nearly taken her.

The Knight-Captain of the Iron Roses couldn't allow herself to be taken by fear.

Inwardly she couldn't help but curse herself for coming so close.

In the moments that followed, the hulking undead attempted to follow them only for the flesh of its torso to be rent open by Lein's single shot barrage, cutting through skin and muscle and exposing warped and deformed bone. The massive undead's motions were disrupted, the hood nearly falling back-

And its head was gone moments later.

The compressed air of Cecilia's arrow had struck its skull and erupted outwards, practically disintegrating the vile, decayed flesh and bone.

The muscle tendrils slackened, as the great hulk fell to the floor with a resounding thud. It lay still, oozing unspeakable fluids but unmoving.

Fanilly took a deep breath, steadying herself.

But one opponent remained before they could move deeper.

@Rune_Alchemist@PigeonOfAstora@HereComesTheSnow@Raineh Daze

"Indeed, your conclusion is correct," Heartwood responded to Fionn's statement, "It's difficult to tell now that its form has been destroyed, but I can surmise that it was likely a curse placed on her person. Perhaps the intent was, in case of her capture, to kill her and produce a second assassin. If she were alone in a prison cell, it would have been difficult to prevent her death and the wicked spirit's movements."

The Court mage paused a moment, as if remembering himself.

"Forgive me for my tardiness, I was reinforcing the castle's defenses in case of precisely this sort of occurrence, albeit from outside rather then from within," he sighed heavily, "I understand your haste, but if the prisoner had been brought to me first I could have put a stop to this, you know."

He motioned to one of the Crown Knights, but it seemed that he'd already been producing a broom in order to sweep away the faintly-glowing pile of ash that lingered in the wake of the wicked spirit's death.

The nem had remained on the floor, now, sucking in air desperately as she did, her eyes wide. Given she had been directly possessed and attacked, it was likely whatever she had experienced was more intense then Fionn, tears still at the corners of her golden eyes as she quivered on the ground.


Quietly, Princess Elisandre nodded. She'd been curious, wondering what the commotion outside was, only to find herself in danger once more, and having placed her younger sister in danger as well.

The smaller girl had yet to speak, or even look up, still hugged tightly to her body.

At the very least, the patting seemed to be somewhat reassuring for both of them.

Heartwood, who had sampled some of the dust left behind by the wicked spirit using a small glass vial before it was swept away, looked thoughtful at Tyaethe's proposal.

"I assume you mean to take them to Candaeln? I suppose our enemy wouldn't expect such a move, and illusions sufficient to confuse are hardly out of my repertoire," he responded, "However, I have just finished strengthening our magical defenses."

Sir Adeforth, too, considered the suggestion. He seemed somewhat frustrated, likely due to the fact that much of his experience and skill had been incapable of changing the situation. No matter how capable the elder Crown Knight was, he possessed no capacity with the supernatural.

"I can see your logic, at least," he admitted with a heavy sigh, "I cannot say it sits well with me, to take the Princesses from the Castle, even to somewhere as secure as Candaeln. But I agree that our opponent certainly wouldn't expect it. Mmm..."

He stroked his moustache as he thought.

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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Raineh Daze
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Down in the Mausoleum (Lower)

Largely ignored, the shifty figure finally succeeded in smashing the gem occupying his attention as the undead monstrosity went down, releasing an eerie blue light that engulfed his figure... and froze, speaking in a much different tone of voice as he straightened. "No, no, you're just... eugh, is there a single pleasant thought in your head? This won't do at all, I'm not keeping you around."

There was just enough time to see him sprouting a pair of horns before he gave a jaunty wave, a deep purple ripple in the air engulfing him--

And then he was gone.

Down in the Mausoleum

Behind Damon, the air turned an unusual shade of purple, depositing a shifty-looking figure that leant against one of the many statues lining the room. "Of all the people you could have supplied the gem to, you had to choose him? He's thoroughly ugly, both outside and inside. Everything about him is all... sneering and gangly. And it's a man, to boot!"

The vampire's attention didn't wavor from his confrontation, although he easily answered, "Alfried and Fierense neither deserved a passenger nor a contest of wills for their own body. And if I had given you to that necromancer, who knows if he would have been gullible enough to use it? You needed a vessel, Reddiel."

The distinctly feminine pout on the other man's features was rather out of place. "But still! You could have told Torranz something. Have him try to throw it at someone. I'm sure these knights would be interesting to watch."

"Yes, just throw the magical, reinforced gem at the less than fully armoured knights and hope it breaks," was the sarcastic reply, "You just wanted a stronger body to start with. You'll fix everything else in short order, my dear. I'm sure you're already working on what little manliness Torranz ever had."

"Hmph. See if I don't leave you here."


"Well, then, maybe we should ask the princesses what they think?" Tyaethe wondered, looking at the pair, "Do you want to stay here tonight, or come with us to Candaeln until it's safe?"
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by The Otter
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Fionn MacKerracher

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If Fionn was surprised that Renar had even heard what Maletha had said to him earlier, he didn't show it. "Stalwart ball knight," he corrected, doing his best to maintain a perfectly straight face—at least the humour would hopefully be to the princesses' benefit. Assuming they didn't find the ability of two experienced veterans to crack jokes so shortly after the shock of a sudden attack utterly offputting.

He turned away and stood back up, looking over to Adeforth. "This necromancer already has us on the back foot. While we might have given them something else to deal with, we don't know the capabilities of any of their co-conspirators, or the fullness of their own. Anything we can do to retake the initiative is worth it, I think." He gestured over at the court mage. "He's just finished strengthening the defenses, and could make illusions to cover our leave. If nothing happens on our way to Candaeln, that at least makes this place the perfect decoy after we've gotten out. Unless they're watching the exit or have everything between here and Candaeln crawling with undead and assassins, we should all be more than enough to escort the princesses to the rest of the Roses."

Assuming they agreed to it, of course, but allaying Adeforth's misgivings and giving Elisandre more information to consider should help in making the decision. "I'll even take point if we go. Make sure the way is clear."
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Conscripts
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Steffen Gravinir

Steffen found himself staring eye to eye with his fellow landsman as yet again both of them engaged in a test of might. The Ingvarr could feel the bone surfacing on his skins making contact with his gauntlet, as he gritted his teeth to suppress the fierce resistance of the Barukstaedian man. Visibly, Steffen was superior raw strength-wise, but it was not clear, as there were still movements that his opponent could do that would later manifest into a proper retaliation. But that was when Sir Fleuri came in, and also when Steffen was quite disappointed that despite it, he was able to dodge the lethal blow, moving his head to catch the blade slightly off the artery. It was progress sure, but now the warrior from Barukstaed had a legitimate opportunity to counter-attack.

The first sign for Steffen of danger was when his opponent shifted his hand over to the blade, slowly finding the foothold to raise the axe against the Ingvarr's tremendous strength. The second and the last sign that he needed to disengage was the arcane power flowing through the axe once again. The explosion that sent Sir Vier flying was now threatening to do the same for him. He was forced to let go of that axe and jumped back from the axe that was slamming towards his head. That axe did not make contact with the ground though. His opponent was smarter than that, as he stopped the axe as soon as the Ingvarr moved away from its movement path, turned around and trying to engage Fleuri instead, knowing that they were the pain dealer, but much less resilient to the Barukstaedian's advances.

This time though, Steffen was not stunned by the attack. His jump got him close to the nearby wall of the mausoleum, to which his hand pushed against with his full might for momentum to charge right back at the Barukstaedian once again. Continuous pressure, leaving him no room to breath. If he were to catch his opponent from behind, Steffen would immediately grapple him, one hand around the man's neck and the other reaching for his dagger strapped to his belt, aiming to accomplish what Fleuri could not earlier. Otherwise, he'd continue his barrage of both fist and knife-play, smelling blood in the wound that was dealt.

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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Psyker Landshark
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Renar Hagen

Renar would have sassed Fionn further, but it seemed the time for levity was over. Tyaethe's proposal was something that he wholeheartedly agreed with: any shift in momentum was to be taken at this point. Ever since the initial attempt, all the Iron Rose and the Crown Knights had been doing was responding. They couldn't depend on the squadron sent into the mausoleum to take care of everything, or even survive. Moving the princesses was a reasonable precaution, so long as it was done with absolute stealth and haste. The plan could backfire should the enemy catch wind of it, but that risk could be mitigated should they commit immediately and catch the crown's enemies flat-footed.

Moreover, Sir Adeforth's hesitation rankled at Renar. Why? Because clearly, the old man was too hung up on the princesses' rightful place to look at facts and reason. Had Renar thought any less of the commander, he'd assume that Adeforth was more concerned about the Iron Rose butting in and stealing glory from the Crown Knights, but this wasn't his brother. If nothing else, Sir Adeforth legitimately had the royals' interest in mind. It was just that his view conflicted with reality in this case.

"Highnesses. Sir Adeforth." Renar stepped forward, hoping that he could swap their opinions. "If I may, my fellow knights and the Court Mage speak true. This is our one chance to catch the foe off-guard. Should the necromancer escape the knights sent to the crypts, the safety of the crown is paramount. Everything we've seen tonight indicates that they have only made plans to assault you within the confines of your home. If we move swiftly and quietly, they'll be none the wiser about the switch. Princesses, every knight of Candaeln will do their utmost to ensure that your stay will be as comfortable as possible should you agree. Please do consider this." One last idea came to his mind, even as he spoke. Renar sideeyed Tyaethe before his gaze shifted to the younger royal.

"And besides, Princess Maletha." He softened his gaze as best as he was able. Likely not very well, by his own estimate. Renar wasn't exactly the best at dealing with children, outside of his younger brother. But an attempt had to be made. "Wouldn't you like the chance to converse further with Dame Tyaethe? She does live there, you know. And could even show you her chambers."
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Crimson Paladin
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Fleuri Jodeau

Thanks to Vier's intervention, the warrior's axe never reached Fleuri. Unfortunately, this resulted in his fellow knight taking the blast, throwing him across the room. Fleuri wasn't sure how injured Vier was- that explosion might have merely knocked the wind out of him, or it could have shattered every bone in his chest.

We need to end this before anyone else gets hit with that attack.

The Barukstaed man had avoided Fleuri's attack, but his sword was still close to his neck. As he raised his axe, once again glowing in preparation for another explosion, it was immediately clear that Fleuri wouldn't have time for anything elaborate or risky. Instead, the knight stepped back out of the range of the axe, sliding the blade of his greatsword against the man's neck as he withdrew. He wouldn't have enough leverage to decapitate, but he hoped that there'd be at least sufficient force to inflict a fatal laceration.

Unless, of course, the Barukstaedian's neck was protected by mail (Between the tomb's lighting and his helmet, Fleuri couldn't quite discern whether it was), in which case, it would at most annoy him.

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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Creative Chaos
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Vier was sent rolling across the ground by the Barukstaedian’s explosive axe, losing his sword and most of the feeling in his preferred hand. The good news was that he was mostly ambidextrous thanks to practice, but without his shield or a defending hand, it wasn’t going to make much of a difference. He propped himself up onto his knees, then pushed to his feet, whirling his remaining blade.

Okay, that was a bit of a bad move. Who am I kidding, I’m monoplegic. That was an amateur mistake. Time to think, Alma.

He took in everyone and everything that had occurred in the last few minutes, building up a general idea of what the Barukstaedian was capable of. That axe would most likely kill Steffen if it hit him in the head, and Fleuri would be right in the line of a second attack if the Ingvarr decided to move. The giant man was also smart, and more durable than any of the knights. But the axe seemed to be his ace in the hole, and his lack of real speed was obvious. Throwing the Barukstaedian off balance seemed to be what worked best.

Vier forced himself to focus past the pain in his right arm, folding it behind his back. After a few moments of concentration, he imbued sharpening magic on his blade and ran at the Barukstaedian to take a stab at his neck. He used his forward momentum to make the thrust that much more precise, twisting his body to keep his frame small. Regardless of his speed, that axe was always a threat to keep note of.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by ERode
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At his words, Serenity simply gave him a look. If it was a mistake to disarm an opponent, if it was a mistake to even bother injuring an opponent, then what, exactly, was one supposed to do against the foul denizens of the dark?

Well, from the perspective of someone who had so heartily acclimated to that other side, perhaps that was simply the way things ought to be. There were, after all, immortal monstrosities that even now are better left alone than challenged. Far too many, in truth. A host of crones possessed with the high-minded arrogance that their age-addled minds granted them. Someone ought to cast them from their lofty thrones, someone ought to return them to the history books that they belong to.

As Damon continued with his theatrics, Serenity simply staked her shortsword through the dismembered hand. Watched it twitch and bleed, writing like the disconnected thing it was, as he began his puppeteering. Blood turned to flame, and flame melted steel into slag, burning with such intensity that dwarven forgemasters would question the purpose of coal and bellows. She could imagine now, where his confidence in facing against the Paladin stemmed from. A magical flame that could melt metal like wax was certainly a more effective weapon against an immortal than a greatsword. All the better then, that it was Serenity here rather than Tyaethe.

Her shortsword was lost in the pursuit of knowledge. Her mace laid beyond her reach. Three daggers and a hatchet. Enough for a mortal foe but worthless against a vampire. As she was, there was no hope of catching him if he sought to maintain distance, and considering his predilections, his confidence in his immortality, his boiling blood would always earn him more in an exchange of blows.

But she was resolved for that.

Dust sifted from the ceiling. Those three were still fighting, against a foe not nearly so insurmountable as this one.

Wind whispered through the gap. Those four were still advancing, purging what evil lurked within the crypt.

Another bolt sang through the air, its trajectory read at a glance. She shuffled through the tomb now, slipping past the thrust of the flaming longsword. A dagger swept out against the line of blood that connected the severed hand to Damon's arm, but as one may have expected, a reconnection was established within the instance of a breath. Parrying was no longer possible, and if the sword could pass through tempered steel without pause, armor was useless, no matter the price one paid for it. Even the air itself was heating up, the dampness of the crypt replaced by the heat of a sauna, and freed from the limitations of elbow and shoulder, from even the necessity of requiring proper edge alignment, the flying sword became an opponent like none else.

It was an experience like none else.

Serenity no longer left room for thought. She weaved and slid, daggers flashing to buy instances of reprieve as her mind burned at the sheer focus that her task required. The vampire lurked in the corners of her vision, arbalest loading and firing in concert with the nonsensical movements of the blood-flame sword. She reacted in turn, sound still surpassing the swiftness of the bolts, giving her enough time to instinctively shift out of the way of both blows. Patterns emerged within those eternal seconds, the flex and flux of the bloodline hinting at future directions of hand and sword. Pinpricks of pain pulsed up and down her joints, protests at the frenetic duress she placed them under. Sweat stung eyes that she could not afford to close. Blood trickled down from her nose and stained her lips. Another appeared, a proper demon, but she had no reason to acknowledge them now. Names slotted themselves into her memory, phrases stored away for future contemplation.

Now, however, it was a challenge alone to evade.


And yet, evade she did.

Serenity did not advance, but as seconds crawled onwards in the death-dance of blood and body, of conflagration and circumstance, she also did not truly retreat. Even now, her pride remained. Even now, she stood at the center of the chamber.

Even now, the tombs and statues of the departed Cazt remained unscathed, except for marks left by errant arrows.
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Raineh Daze
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Down in the Mausoleum

"You seem rather... confused," the vampire pointed out, raising an eyebrow. On his end, the fight was remarkably stress free--while the floor was increasingly marked by scorches of flame, the disconnected hand was the only thing that needed to move. His voice carried a note of disappointment, but at the same time, there was an undeniable tinge of amusement to it. "Did you think to challenge a vampire without knowing the bare minimum of our capabilities? My dear, such overconfidence is going to get you killed some day."

His other hand, still holding the crossbow, tapped against the neck, "Decapitation. Fire. Going for the heart. Holy magic or the power of the sun more directly. Those are the things you need to fight us, and many others beside. Anything else is to engage in a battle of attrition, and, why--I can't imagine you haven't seen or heard of the paladin's approach to combat. She has enough of a reputation for myself to have heard of it."

Damon's eyes glanced up towards the roof, paying attention to something just beyond human perception. "Well, I think that's my favour repaid, I'll leave you knights to clear up the infestation."

The flames licking away at his blade intensified, the weapon slamming into the ground between them and sending out a red line that rose into a full wall. "Tell my family that I said hello. And let little Veilena know that I'm very interested to see what she does from here~"

Already darting back from the flame, the vampire slung his handless arm over the demon and--with another purple ripple in the air--they were gone. Demon, vampire, and blood-fuelled flames, leaving only the sabre stabbed into the rocky ground.

And the now-limp hand.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Krayzikk
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"The unexpected can have merit," Nicomede spoke up slowly and deliberately, but a little softly; almost like to raise his voice would have been to strain it. He didn't like drawing any attention to himself. But the plan suggested... "But it's unexpected for us as well. Here we know the potential avenues of threat. Physical defenses in depth, layered checkpoints and choke points any assailant has to pass through. A sizeable force cannot pass. Both attempts were lone entities, exploiting singular flaws in the defense."

"That's true of the destination. More true, maybe. But in transit our vulnerability increases immensely."
He didn't— quite— meet anyone's gaze directly. "I think that's a greater risk than we have need for. At least for the moment. If the situation changes, of course, we should consider it. But for the moment I think safety and security is here."

"The Captain will undoubtedly check in before morning. We can assess again then. Moving would be safer in daylight, anyway."

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Gerard Segremors


"Give yourself two more. Deep and slow. Settle the heart."

His unrequested counsel was delivered with a flinty, matter-of-fact pitch— quite clearly, Gerard was used to similarly pragmatic reception. He hoped inwardly that she'd find it a centering bedrock, as he did at her age. Twice now it was what he could offer, in about as many days— and for all it served as cold comfort, there was occasion and time for little else.

As violet flashed in his periphery and he heard the ripple of water where it didn't belong, the knight had just enough time to affix a suspicious glare onto the churlishly waving figure that had thrown the knife his way— and grunted in dissatisfaction as they disappeared, seemingly into the aether. He listened for footsteps... but only found the sounds of fighting above to greet his ears.

A snort heralded the clap of his leathered glove onto her back, urging her to shake it off. Not much else to be done right now...

Following it was the soft squelch as he pulled the blessed morningstar, cast in a flight of frenzy at the scarlet mass of fibrous threads, free from the heap of meat it and the shield had tangled within.

"No idea where that one went, but if there's more like this further down, in the final chamber..."

His frown deepened, kicking the shield clear of the tangle of red that had, of course, coated it thoroughly in blood.

He looked back to her, hefting the spiked and blessed bludgeon.

"We'll need to keep our heads above water."

He wouldn't, of course, start assumption of command here. There was a vast gap to bridge between "a little shaken" and "unfit for duty"— and as his urging would suggest, he had every intent on keeping it from beinbg crossed. Shield and mace in hand, both bloodied, the erstwhile mercenary awaited the advance of his peers.

Much as he wanted to serve as a battering ram for the Roses, he had set his diligence on the task of rear guard until directed otherwise.
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In time, the heat faded.

From the room, and from her heart.

In the absence of conflict, Serenity allowed herself to settle into standstill, drawing in deep breathes. There had been no space to exchange any final words, and in the same way, there was no reason now to imagine rebuttals or clear up any confusions. All that remained was self-reflection, a simple one at that. On one hand, perhaps she had severely overestimated her opponent's abilities, if he had believed that she could actually threaten his life, under the premise that she was armed to the full extent of a noble of House Arcedeen. On the other hand, she was certainly lacking still, if her thoughts naturally rested upon the lack of divinely-blessed armaments, of ancient blades forged by immortal craftsmen, of shields that shone with holy light, as what was necessary for murder.

If she was where she wished to be, a shortsword that melted like wax in the embrace of bloodfire would be sufficient. One would simply have to strike faster than it could melt, pulverizing rather than cutting into flesh.

But she wasn't where she wished to be. And she knew that.

Serenity pressed her palm against her eyes, brushing away the sweat and tears. Shifted her hand lower, pressing her thumb against the side of her nose. Breathe in deep from the mouth, breath out quick from the nose. Clogged up blood splattered against the tomb, the only real blood that was spilled in that frenzied exchange. Her armor was singed at parts, but not compromised. Her weapons, outside of the shortsword, were still intact and capable. Her comrades were still fighting, both above and below. The vampire and demon that had both lurked within the crypt had chosen to excuse themselves of whatever else remained.

So really, what was there to do?

Three steps, crossing past the saber and the hand, before she retrieved the flanged mace. Seven strides, bringing her to the threshold that the four Iron Roses had descended down into. Now, just one fli-

Lein came in view, the hundi's expression a mask of paranoia and fear, dread and anxiety.

Serenity stared at him, then let out a long, long sigh.

"The axeman's still up above. Do you plan on assisting with that, Lein, and leaving the Captain another man short?"
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Location: The Cazt Mausoleum
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Lein remained with an arrow trained on the scattered remains of the monstrosity, now headless and riddled with a mass of arrows, until he was sure that it was to move no longer. A little overcautious, perhaps, but the lack of an arm had not even phased it before. As he lowered his aim, he checked on his prosthetic, slowly moving each joint to see if they were holding up. Fingers working okay. The pulleys worked fine, letting Lein pull out the few arrows that could be lodged from the heap of bone and entangled muscle. It had survived much abuse thus far. Habit, Lein reminded himself. Nothing to worry about.

And fatigue was a minor problem in perspective. Lein looked over at Gerard steadying the small Captain, the tendons that nearly engulfed her strewn on the ground. That monstrosity was no small fry. Though they had ultimately got the upper hand by Cecilia's well placed shots, it had taken all four's focus to break its advance. Lein himself was lucky that he could find a mark that ate iron. Haste, yet again, had plunged them in turbulent territory. If the necromancer was anything worse, they'll have to hedge more than just luck and more arrows.

Lein perked his ears up, trying to rinse out the remnant ringing of Cecilia's explosive arrows and strained to catch the sound of footsteps and clashing steel. Apart from the few echos that crept around the stairways, nothing. Serenity was left alone with a vampire, and even if Serenity talked big, Lein had to land on 'probably dead'. "Gimme two. I'm checking to see if our dear Lioness is still kicking." Or more likely, kissing the ground. Should've shot that vampire putain when I had the chance. Losing her meant the group was riven in two; and worse, the advance group would have a vampire trying to nail them from behind while facing down whatever awaited them below. That was not a plan Lein would even pretend to follow along.

Hoisting his bow on his shoulders, he ascended swiftly up the stairs, steps light to disguise against whoever was waiting up above. As he approached the doorway, he lowered toward the ground, and silently knocked an arrow. Steady - pull back, swing around, shoot - Lein caught his reflexes moments before he loosed his arrow at the blonde figure around the corner. Just Serenity, still intact and standing before a disembodied hand. Seeing her not only breathing, but not a bloody mess on the ground was quite the welcome surprise. Lein grinned at Serenity's almost welcome tone of disappointment. "Just checking how your date with your vampire boyfriend was going, but now I owe you an ode to the Vampire-Slaying Lioness! We met some kind of bloated tentacle monster below, and frankly you got the better half. At least you don't smell like a rat drowned in Veltian ale."

Lein nodded toward the stairs leading back down. "Go on. You'll get more chances to stare daggers at me after we cut this necromancer and get out of this delightful place." As he let Serenity pass by, he tilted his head to look for any bite-marks on Serenity's body. Did vampires leave hands behind? He only knew Serenity survived, not slain. That could mean a lot more, though Lein didn't have the luxury of acting on suspicion right now.
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No sooner then she had prepared to strike at the living figure that remained in the chamber, then that figure had suddenly sprouted horns and disappeared.

Aside from her knights, it was now.

Her heavy, shaky breathes were quite audible.

Fanilly drew in another. And another.

"... Thank you, again, Sir Gerard," she said, her blade lowering as she tried to steady herself. She was captain. She was a knight. She lead the Iron Roses.

She couldn't let herself give in to panic, not even for a few moments, simply because of something like that undead abomination.

There were plenty of unanswered questions remaining when it came to the disappeared figure. Had she seen horns on his head? The way he'd suddenly ceased to do anything in spite of clearly being their opponent and then exhibited what she knew was quite advanced magic to whisk himself away...

It didn't make sense at all.

But they didn't have time to waste on contemplating what he'd been doing, or where he went. Even Lein's decision to head back up for Dame Serenity was something they couldn't afford to stand around and wait for. There was no way of knowing what lie on the bottom floor, and they had to do all they could to rescue the hostage.

"Take positions," Fanilly ordered, her voice far less shaky now, "Archers-archer to the rear. We can't afford to take any more time."


As they came down the steps, voices could be heard. One female, high, sharp, and the other deeper and masculine.

"You've been manhandling that girl the moment she arrived," the female voice said, accusingly, "That doesn't help your plan, does it? She's already terrified, does she need to be in pain too?"

"A hostage will make us a far more difficult opponent, Fierense. I should think you would be wise enough to know as much," replied the male voice, calmly.

"That so? So you're proud of terrorizing a young girl? I knew you were trash, but I didn't think you were that low," the female voice swiftly shot back.

"I'm merely using all tools at my disposal, Fierense, unlike you."

They had almost reached the bottom floor.

"Rotten bastard," the female voice spat, "I wish I'd never even laid eyes on you, and I definitely-"

The air suddenly seemed to vibrate. A brilliant flash of light tore across Fanilly's vision, ahead of her, stopping her in her tracks. It took a few moments for her to understand what had happened.

Lightning. A flash of lighting had crossed ahead of her, to halt her advanced. There was no way it could have hit unless she blindly rushed ahead, and whoever unleashed it would certainly know as much.

The faint electrical crackling could still be heard.

Within the chamber were three living figures.

One a tall man clad in dark clothing, a white half-mask obscuring much of his face. The dark, hooded eyeholes made it difficult to see where he was looking. One hand gripped a long staff with a green sphere at the top end, and the other was holding a nem girl, gripping her arm tightly enough to hurt. Her facial features, her stature, they were all similar to Tili's, making it immediately obvious who she was.

She was gagged, her arms and legs bound.

To the right was what had to be the source of the lightning.

Her clothing faded blues and greys, her sharp blue eyes framed by white hair, and a wide-brimmed hat atop her head. The slender girl held no catalyst in her hand, lighting instead crackling between her fingers.

"Hah, the Iron Rose Knights," she commented, "It's like Mayon herself sees what garbage you are, right?"

She glanced towards the dark-clad figure, who gritted his teeth, raising his staff.

Aside from the three living figures, the forms of shambling undead gripping swords and axes and spears were shuffling. Fanilly could see the faint form of some kind of barrier encircling the figure holding the nem hostage.

The Knight-Captain raised her sword.

"In the name of the crown and the moon, surrender at once," she ordered, eyes drifting towards the witch once again. She hadn't made a move to cast another spell yet, "Release your prisoner and and come quietly and you will be shown mercy."

It was doubtful mercy would be anything but the most painless execution they could be granted, but at the very least it was a potentially gentler fate then dying here by the sword.

"Mercy? My, how amusing," the necromancer's lips curled into a smirk, "I'm not interested, I'm afraid. I think I'm more interested in hearing you ask for mercy instead."

The undead would make it difficult to reach him swiftly, not to mention the presence of the hostage, and of the lightning witch. In addition, she wasn't sure how strong the barrier surrounding the necromancer and his prisoner would be.

As it turned out, that wasn't the end of their worries.

The necromancer's staff gleamed.

Fanilly took her sword in both hands.

The lightning witch drew one hand back.

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As he listened to their arguments, Sir Adeforth continued to stroke his moustache for several moments. Eventually, he nodded.

"Forgive me, but it's somewhat difficult to shake the mindset of the castle being the safest place for the Princesses," he said, "But I suppose you're right. If there are more wicked spirits expecting to attack them here, then it will be far safer for them in Candaeln."

"As much as it feels like you're all simply throwing away my work," added Heartwood, "It's not as if it's not logical. Such wicked spirits are likely not operating with much individual thought. Thus, their plan of attack is preset, so to speak. They would be targeting the most likely location for your highnesses."

He gestured to the princesses. By this point, Elisandre had raised her head and was trembling far less, though the younger girl still refused to look up.

"Ordinarily," the court mage continued, "I would gladly agree with Sir..."

He paused for a moment as he glanced towards Nicomede.

"... You," he settled on after a moment, "But I suspect our opponent is not capable of more precise attacks in their current situation. Of course, and I'm sure Sir Adeforth agrees, the ultimate decision lies with our First Princess, does it not?"

Princess Elisandre's gaze had drifted, now, falling upon the prisoner.

Tili was still shaking, her golden eyes open wide, her body curled as if trying to collapse in on itself. It was clear that the exorcism's success had not removed the effect direct and prolonged contact with an evil spirit had on her yet.

"... She's still..." Elisandre trailed off after a moment, "... A-ah, yes, er, maybe we should move! Maletha... it might be for the best for both of us!"

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The vampire nodded and pushed the princesses to their feet, giving her room to grow into her clothing once more and gesture for the others to follow through the castle, along with the obligatory escort to make sure that nobody went the wrong way. Soon enough, they had passed out of the royal quarters and into what appeared to be a completely serviceable passage, albeit one that cut off at an archway into the solid rock that lay beneath.

It was this archway that the vampire approached, hand tracing down one side of it to find a socket. Something like this was impossible to keep up the entire time, but as an emergency escape... well, most would choose to power it with magic crystals, or some sort of built up mana storage. Tyaethe? She could just power it directly.

The path opened, the air wavering slightly, to a similar but unlit passage. Once everyone heading to Candaeln was through, the vampire cut the flow of mana and darted through before it cut off. As predicted, they had come out in an unoccupied building westwards in the city, not too far from Candaeln itself. Not a perfect escape route from the castle, but at least one that wouldn't lead you straight into any siege camp like a more direct exit. And it served their purposes fine.

Candaeln was well-lit as normal, and busier than might be expected for this time of night, with the knights not invited interested in hearing how the ball had turned out. Standing in the entrance, Tyaethe turned her attention back to their guests.

"So... are you hungry? Or would you like to visit the baths?" Or maybe they just wanted to sleep, but it would take a little bit to let everyone know to be on guard and work out where the pair should spend the night.
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Right. There was the slim possibility too that it was only out of concern that Lein had separated from the others.

A meaningless concern, one that fundamentally would just endanger his own life if the vampire was as bloodthirsty as the hundi imagined them to be. But for all the inherent danger of dueling with a supernatural creature possessed with magic that would make the wizards of the Tower push their tomes off their tables out of frustration and despair, Serenity had been implacably confident that she would survive, in one way shape or form. Lein, of course, wouldn't have understood that either, so there was no need to explain herself.

She passed by instead then, taking the stairs three steps at a time, her fully-armored form making it impossible to spot any bite wounds if there were any.

"Don't bother with the ode. Damon left with a demon-possessed man," Serenity said curtly. "His allegiance isn't entirely with the necromancer, though his plots remain convoluted for a creature so confident in his own capabilities. And he cut his own hand off using my sword, so don't attribute that to me either." Though she was facing away from the hundi archer, there was a smile in her voice regardless. "He doesn't make for a fun villain, really. Didn't even speak of his propensity for slavery or his consumption of infants."

One could only hope that the necromancer was of the craven sort.

"Bring me up to speed as to what had happened on your end, Lein. Any plans made before you split?"
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