Hidden 3 mos ago Post by VitaVitaAR
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VitaVitaAR King of Knights

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“They say it’s bandits once again, or at least that’s what they suspect.”

He had sighed heavily as he spoke to her, his hands clasped behind his back. He was a tall, slim man, his dark hair cut short, his fine clothing sporting silvery embroidery, his features as slender as his overall build.

“To tell the truth, I tire of such lawlessness,” he continued, “To take advantage of a period of strife to lose all sight of decency and common good is bad enough, but it’s also a distraction from the true threat of those who encroach upon our borders.”

“Nevertheless, Lord Ostaric, no matter who it is who threatens our people, it is our duty to defend them.”

Her voice was high and clear, and her tone firm.

“Tiring of such lawlessness does not mean it can be ignored,” she continued, “Bandits are a threat to the lives and livelihood of our people, and thus it is our duty to ensure that threat is ended.”

While her appearance was that of a girl only just beginning her proper education, and her age was truthfully not very much older, her conviction shone through with her words. To her, it did not matter how commonplace or how strange a threat to the people may be.

It was simple fact that it was the duty of the nobility to handle it, for the sake of those whom they governed. Indeed, the duty of the nobles and the duty of the crown was to the country and its people.

“That Hraesleg conviction, hm?” remarked Lord Ostaric with a smile, looking back over her shoulder, “I suppose that’s to be expected. I can’t say I disagree, no matter how I tire of such matters. But you don’t always have to be so stiff, you know.”

The blonde girl cocked her head, her golden hair shifting. Compared for Ostaric, not only did she look quite young but she was far shorter as well, her sharp blue gaze married with youthful features. Those who only knew her by her looks would perhaps compare her to a doll.

“If such matters tire you, then you must be tired rather frequently,” she replied, without hesitation, “Should you not perhaps rest? My, perhaps a healer should attend to you, if you are so feeble.”

Lord Ostaric chuckled.

“I’d forgotten how sharp that tongue of yours was,” he commented, “A razor behind your teeth with the same edge as your sword.”

“And I’d forgotten that you were so prone to complaining,” she replied, without missing a moment.


He was her ally, and he was making such complaints? Didn’t he hold the very same beliefs that she did? Then why not hold himself to at least a higher standard?

“The Steel Princess is quite an apt title, isn’t it?” remarked Ostaric, “Regardless, I do agree that something needs to be done. But that’s why you’re here, isn’t it?”

He paused for a moment.

“Still, I’m surprised you’re devoting the full force of the Lions to chasing bandits,” he remarked, “Given the threats to our border.”
Velvetica shook her head.

“They’re no less a danger to our people than anything else.”

But that wasn’t the entire reason. The frequency and brutality of the night raids of late… Her scouts had reported that the damage was much more then they’d excepted.

From ordinary bandits, at least.

“Then, while I expect it won’t be required, my forces will be ready and able to assist you in any way you need,” Lord Ostaric responded.

At last he had stopped complaining.

The golden lion’s head roared against the crimson background. It was the colors of not only the Hraesleg family, but of Reon.

It flapped in the wind above the camp.

The borderlands of Velt were frequently windy, and here was no different. The plains gave way to far rockier terrain, here, white stone jutting up from the countryside in various jagged formations.

Some were said to be haunted by strange fae, others housed ancient tombs of those who dwelled in the times of Talderia, or even beyond that.

The red tents that composed the Lions’ camp were not even so far from one such formation, said to conceal the tomb of an ancient heathen king whose spirit rose to lead the Midnight Hunt.

Such tales didn’t give the Steel Princess pause for even a moment. Ghosts and spirits and unseelie fae were not of her concern.

It was near here that the raids had first begun. Always at night. Fast. Brutal. Crushing. Not only supplies, but people, living and dead, were taken.

While no clear picture had been painted of the perpetrators, Velvetica had her suspicions.

Ordinary bandits were rarely interested in the dead.

With the assistance of her scouts, they had pinpointed the raiders, whatever their nature may be, to these rocky regions.

Were they truly bandits with a twisted interest in the dead, they would be cut down.

Were they soldiers of Ithillin attempting to mask their presence by stealing corpses, they would be cut down.

Were they of another nature, they would be cut down.

The Hraesleg Lion preyed upon the enemies of Velt. It killed for the sake of Velt’s people.

Velvetica took her spot towards the center of camp. While the Lions should have already been well aware of what was to come, it would soon be time to give them the final word.

When her scouts returned, and reported to her the nature of their enemy, or at least enough information to solidify her final attack strategy.

There were far too many unknowns, indeed, but these raids had persisted long enough.

She would ensure they ended.

@Raineh Daze@Rin@AzureKnight@Psyker Landshark@The Otter@VKAllen@Eisenhorn@Crimson Paladin@Conscripts@HereComesTheSnow@Octo
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Octo
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Octo Tentacular Cephalopod

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A good deal below the crimson flag of the roaring lion was a much smaller, much lower-budget flag emblazoned with the image of a melon-cake that said "Matayannah Trading Company". It was just under this flag that Lirrah had set up shop, standing behind a long table full of snacks and confections. The tiny Nem was nearly obscured behind all of her offerings, but her honey-sweet smile and loud pink hair could not be ignored.

"Treat your nerves with something tasty! If it's the last thing you eat, make it something good! For our amazing soldiers about to join compat, we have a special deal for you! Purchase a savory snack now, and receive a free pastry to enjoy after your hard-fought victory!"

Lirrah had been scolded before about loading soldiers up with candy pre-combat. Adults can make their own choices, she had thought, and whether it was a good or bad one wasn't her problem. Though Lirrah still believed this, that scolding gave her the idea for this special: incentivize purchasing a snack better for your stamina now by throwing in a sweet for later.

The deal was not only cost-effective for her captive customers, but it had the added benefit of inspiring them: they need to live through combat so they can enjoy their free pastry. Sometimes, even something as small as the promise of a free sweet can have miraculous effects. Lirrah knew better than anyone that great things can come in small packages.

Also, such a deal would spare her from further scoldings. By meanies.

Lirrah gestured grandly to the goods laid out before her. She had bottles of nuts and dried berries, some quality meat pies, and a selection of jerky. All of which could be eaten immediately, or taken on the march to eat later. With each purchase came a claim ticket for one pastry, which she would provide when they returned. Her pastries couldn't last in a soldier's luggage, so this system was in place to maintain the standard of quality that she held herself to.

And so she didn't have to waste any of her pastries on someone that didn't come back. It was more economical like that.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Eisenhorn
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Eisenhorn Inquisitor of some Note

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"What do we do with a drunken soldier..."

The mercenary Urden was currently half humming, half singing an old working song his previous mercenary company favored when doing menial work like weapon's maintenance, setting up camp, packing up camp and other such idle behavior mostly spent just passing time. Sure enough, having spent the morning counting and verifying that his coin was both good, and in the proper amounts, for this pay cycle, he had turned to preparing for the upcoming conflict. In time with the hummed, occasionally sung, working tune, he ran a whetstone along the main blade of his two handed axe, honing its edge to as keen as he could given the circumstances. It was no blacksmith's work or anything of the sort, but it wasn't like they could expect a forge to follow this warband around so readily. The merchant who had seen fit to attach herself to the band was hawking goods, food with a voucher for pastries after words. He'd already eaten, or the offer might have been more tmepting.

"...Dock his pay with extra duty, dock his pay with extra duty..."

Urden appeared to be in a pleasant mood as he worked away, hefting the axe with practiced ease, examining the main cutting edge of the blade. Setting aside the sharpening stone, he tugged a loose hair out and let it fall on the axe blade, splitting neatly with little resistance. Nodding in approval, mostly to himself, he turned the axe over and started working on the opposite end, the spike that would be far more suited to punching through armor than it was for hacking away like the main axe head would be. So he would work, the sound of the whetstone running over well used, but well kept, steel. Nothing about the weapon was for show, the haft sturdy enough to catch incoming strikes, both ends of the axe head having their own uses. Even the other end had a sturdy steel cap on it to make for a nasty surprise for anyone who thought they were safe from a surprise strike while the obviously dangerous end was away from them. Just one of many different tricks he kept in mind when dealing with your average trouble.

"...Twenty strokes of the captains whip, twenty strokes of the captain's whip..."

Nothing about what Urden had heard so far sounded like bandits to him. They struck fast, sure, but looked for coin and valuables, maybe some living hostages to sell back later or to prevent immediate attacks on them for fear of losing even more innocent lives. Near as he'd heard from around camp, it was anything that wasn't nailed down. If you could pry it up, it didn't count either, apparently. That...that was odd. Corpses weren't worth a lick on their own, and most bounties per head only needed proof. Ears, fingers, things like that, grim as it was to some. Whole bodies though, that was a lot of dead weight, pun intended, to be lugging about. Something was amiss, though end of the day Urden got paid the same. Didn't matter what kind of out of their head bandits, soldiers, whatever was waiting out there for them. Nothing good steel backed by good pay couldn't sort out.

"...Early in the morning..."
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Raineh Daze
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With the camp bustling around her, Gisela felt that there was very little for her to do on a day-to-day basis. Any injuries that a small-sized force such as this might sustain outside of combat were a matter of minutes to address, and once that was done... well, she was a mage, and that meant a level of respected treatment, despite the lack of nobility in her treatment. Powerful mages were in high enough demand to receive consistent payment and be spared the indignities of manual labour, so long as they continued to fulfil the obligations that nobody else could.

Soldiering was seemingly boring enough even with monotonous tasks. Without... well, she couldn't even indulge in games of chance or similar. Nobody wanted to play with the odd suspicious mage, who knew what cheating might happen? None, really, since Gisela couldn't do subtle, but even she couldn't completely discount that something might go wrong. All the sides on dice might come up six... even the ones face down.

So, instead, she had summoned Krysia to have someone to talk to... and also so that the others could at least become accustomed to the towering demon, rather than thinking it was an enemy in the middle of battle.

Not that over eight feet of armoured inhuman muscle was doing her reputation much of a favour.

Who had taken an interest in the goods on sale. Which Gisela would be obliged to pay for, of course, and she gave a sigh as the demon tapped her chin thoughtfully.

"But what if I only want the sweet pastry? The rest doesn't interest me," the red-skinned demon wondered allowed, voice surprisingly melodious--deep, for a woman, but a lot less raspy than someone with a rather loud approach to battle.

Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Octo
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Octo Tentacular Cephalopod

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Lirrah looked up, wide-eyed, at her newest customer. Her first instinct was to run and hide, but she was stuck to the spot. As her brain processed the fact that there was, indeed, a gigantic demon woman standing in front of her, a few extra pieces of information clicked into place.

No one seemed to be panicking, at least not any more than one would panic before a confrontation. Some were maybe uncomfortable, but they weren't drawing their weapons. Searching her memory, Lirrah alighted upon a tidbit she once heard about a demon that she might see around one day. Apparently, one of their finger-wigglers could summon one, and she usually did this on the front lines. Since Lirrah tended to stay at base camp, it figured that she wouldn't have seen this woman before.

Lirrah had honestly thought it might have been a joke.

But even so, they didn't mention how damn big she was supposed to be. Ila-Nem, this demon was as tall as three of Lirrah standing on each other's shoulders! And so red!

After standing dumbfounded for almost a minute, she managed to drag herself back to reality. If she was going to go near the front lines to help, she couldn't let things like this freak her out.

But she was so big-

"Puh-puh-pweased tomeechu!" she found herself stammering like an ignoramus.

She looked around in a panic, and bolted back into her tent, quickly bringing out a few fruity pastries in her tiny, trembling arms. She was good with diplomacy, but not with bravery.

She wanted to tell the woman [on the house], but there wasn't a single bone in her body that would allow her to string those words together in that configuration. As if on instinct alone, she blurted out the inflated price she charges everyone.

"S-s-six hundred each! D-don't tell anypody I let you have some! I m-mean, i-if that's OK with you!"
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by The Otter
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Cadmon Demet

@Psyker Landshark@HereComesTheSnow

The constant influx of information—useful or not—that came with his position was starting to grow tiresome. Subordinates constantly coming to report to him, day in and day out, and rarely was it on any topic more important than the weather. It was grating, even more than the armour he was currently being aided in donning. His sigh, though, was cut short with a wince as the strap of one pauldron was yanked tight around his upper arm.

The second soon after. Thank the goddesses for padding.

"That is quite enough, thank you," he interjected, cutting off one of the sergeants of the force he'd brought with him to the Lions. "You haven't told me anything new in the time since we first made camp here. Go join the guards around the perimeter and keep an eye out for those scouts—I want to be sure they get to Lady Velvetica as quickly as possible once they arrive. Don't let them be distracted." He wasn't even entirely sure who was out scouting; if the griffin-rider was one of them, at least there was one person who could be trusted to follow through properly.

Cadmon tugged at the belt around his waist uncomfortably, though he knew it was better that than to have all the weight of his brigandine resting upon his shoulders. "If any of you should happen to find István, tell him to meet me at the Lady's pavilion." Though whether or not the warrior would listen was another matter; Cadmon doubted he'd ever be able to command the man who half-raised him. "Have my horse, weapons, and helmet waiting for me there. I'm not wandering around the camp with them all at once." With his own cadre of servants and aides so dismissed, Cadmon gathered up his gauntlets and made his way out of his tent into the wider camp.

Silently ruing the fact that he hadn't left his bevor off for them to take alongside his other gear, he kept his head on a swivel as he took a meandering path towards the Steel Princess's center of command. Ostensibly, he could be said to be inspecting the forces; in truth, he had his eye out for one person in particular, hoping she wasn't deciding to practice her own skills at the current moment. A quick flash of blonde hair catching his eye between a pair of tents gave him all the notice he needed that she wasn't trying not to be found.

"Miss Lambert?" he called in the direction he'd seen the assassin woman going. "Care to join me?"
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by VKAllen
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Darkness falls. The night clouds shroud the camp and whipping the burning torches with a cold breeze. Flames flicker in defiance; keeping its warmth and light from snuffing out. The onslaught of the night wind is relentless but the fire roars alive. The fire's light scatters as a helmetless knight emerges from a tent.

As the knight approached the Hraesleg Lion's banner, he could feel the eyes of his fellow peers upon him. He took a deep breath, letting the cool night air fill his lungs before exhaling slowly. The sound of his own breath echoed in his ears as he continued to fasten the straps on his armour. His movements were deliberate and purposeful, a sign of his years of training and discipline. He could feel the weight of his mission bearing down upon him. He knew that he was about to face an unknown and strange enemy, one who would not hesitate to take everything, including the dead. But despite the gravity of the situation, he remained calm and focused, his thoughts centered on the task ahead.

The men near his tent were raucous, their laughter and banter filling the air. But as the knight approached, they fell silent, their attention drawn to the imposing figure before them. "Excuse me, coming through," he nodded briefly while speaking in a gentle yet sincere tone, urging them to make way for him before carefully squeezing past.

It was a rather narrow walkway.

"Watch it Guillaume," they warn, "We don't want to miss seeing your blonde arse take on those bandits with your sincere strikes."

Guillaume ignored the jibe, knowing that the men were just trying to lighten the mood before the battle. He continued on his way, his eyes forward and fixed on the towering figure in the distance with two noticeable horns on their head. He quickly recognised her as the demon attached to the healer mage Gisela. The presence of a demon would normally alarm an entire holy crusade in the area-- but the existence of Krysia is a strangely welcome and reassuring presence.

A merchant from the Matayannah Trading Company had set up a stall at the camp, offering a wide range of savoury goods to help satisfy the hunger needs of the people for the coming battle. It stood there unguarded... Perfect for any thieves to try to steal from. Where was the merchant?

@Raineh Daze "But what if I only want the sweet pastry? The rest doesn't interest me," The demon's deep and melodious voice could be heard as Guillaume arrives at the stall. A feeling of dread and terror washes over the knight. Not from the presence of a demon, but rather from Gisela. It's a feeling that Guillaume hasn't gotten used to. He held firmly and adjusted his emotions.

"Good evening Gisela and Krysia." He greeted the two and calmly browsed the savoury snacks before him. Only now that Guillaume was able to see a pink-haired Nem shopkeeper behind the table, terrified of the demon while holding a tray of sweet pastries.

@Octo "S-s-six hundred each! D-don't tell anypody I let you have some! I m-mean, i-if that's OK with you!"

"First time meeting Krysia?" Guillaume's jovial voice resonated. "The first time I met Krysia, I nearly summoned the local paladin. One mutton pie please!"
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Psyker Landshark
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Kayliss Lambert

Strangely enough, life as a Lion had been far less eventful than life as a Crownsblade in her months of service thus far, even with the border tensions. Then again, Kayliss had overheard some of the veterans saying war was at least half waiting. Kayliss could wait, certainly. But even having patience didn't stop the waiting from being monotonous. She'd not been tapped to be a scout this time, so she was simply waiting around camp, taking a seat as she did another check on her weaponry. Her crossbow, knives, shortsword, and dagger all proved themselves to be in good condition, just as they had been the last time she made this check but mere hours ago.

Social activity wasn't much of an option, either. Certainly, Kayliss was familiar with at least a few members of their force. Some even rather high up. But word had gotten around that she was an assassin of some sort, and thus the common soldiery was rather leery of interacting with her. Fortunately, whoever had been responsible for that information leak didn't bring up the Crownsblades at all, or there would be far more cause for concern. Her working theory was that Lady Velvetica, who was one of the very few that knew all the details of her story, mentioned her status as an assassin off-hand at some point, and it had spread. At least she knew not to mention the fact that the throne of Velt had an otherwise secret organization of shadowy killers. An organization that was shattered now. A frown marred her face at the thought, and how she was no closer to an answer after several months.

Just then, she was interrupted by one of the aforementioned acquaintances she knew. Cadmon Demet. A decent sort for a lord, even if he was barely a man. Still, from what Kayliss had gathered on the moody earl, well, she had good reason to believe he had rather poor reasons to be so sullen all the time. Regardless, it wouldn't quite do to antagonize him without reason.

"Earl Demet." Kayliss nodded back, her ponytail waving behind her as a slight breeze kicked up. "Am I to receive orders, then? Is there a target?" At least, she hoped it was a chance to get back out into the field. Goddesses help both her dwindling patience and Cadmon should this turn out to be something especially foolish.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Conscripts
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Conscripts An Atom Trying to Understand Itself

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Irian Sinewell

In this desolate, barren rocky lands, the sight of dark brown soil was definitely worth a look at. No creatures, even faes or the dreaded Midnight Hunt were to cause the earth to be this disturbed. And it wasn't nice and easy either, so much of these were either intentionally upturned or something else big had caused this phenomena. Increasingly, the notion that regular bandits were behind these raids grew twisted. From the beginning, the wood elf could somewhat entertain the idea. After all, bandits could be just as organized as any professional assassin attacks if they were led well. However, this felt a little off to him. According to reports, they were also stealing the deceased as well as the living. He wouldn't discount unrelated freaks and crazies involved, but for his often alarmist and cautious mind, he had to be prepared that it wasn't what he or they wanted.

The elf silently moved inbetween the jagged white rocks, each step simply eased into the earth softly, bow in hand, an arrow in another. While many of these rocks looked natural, shaped by the unforgiving river of time, there were some rocks with sharp edges that were clearly broken by force.

'More unnatural activities.' Irian grazed the rock as he neared. It was beginning to feel a little bit unpleasant.

A couple more steps forward and a rather disturbing sight came into view. A skull of some unfortunate souls atop a stick. From a distance, the elf could not really discern if the skull was real or not, and he did not even want to touch the possibility that the skull was just a disturbed creature robbed from its grave, or was someone tortured and beheaded on a stick. The thought of someone being put through that kind of atrocity, it disgusted him.

Either way, he needed to head back to the Princess. He had seen enough. Their settlement would likely not be that far off from there.
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by The Otter
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Cadmon Demet

@Psyker Landshark

The effort needed to resist rolling his eyes was nearly herculean. What was needed to keep his jaw shut for a moment was even greater.

No, no, I just thought I'd take a romantic stroll around the war camp with my favourite assassin.

As much as he wanted to say something sarcastic like that, it would be pointless. Antagonizing her would be no help at all with what they were soon to face; beyond that, he had little doubt of his low likelihood of waking up in the morning if she decided she disliked him enough. Not that she seemed inclined to harm an ally, certainly not in that way, but he only trusted an assassin as far as he could throw them.

Given that Kayliss was a somewhat tall human woman rather than a Nem, that wasn't very far at all.

"With any luck," he said after a moment. No true confirmation for her question, yet, but he was hoping. "Assuming they didn't meet with an unfortunate fate, our scouts are due to make their reports to Lady Velvetica today. If they bring back something useful, I'm hoping that we could make use of your talents."
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Crimson Paladin
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Crimson Paladin "Progressive" Techpriest

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Roger Falkner and Shortclaw

There's is something strange about the ground down there.

From above, Roger could see splotches of terrain taking on a different color as they got closer to the bandits' hideout. They had been flying low to avoid detection, but it was still high enough to see a stark difference from the surrounding land.

It wasn't unusual to see land of different colors whenever they flew over farmland, but this was no freshly tilled field, ready for planting, and it was far too extensive to be the work of small burrowing animals. This was...well, he had no idea what it was. Even stranger, he glimpsed a few objects on the ground that looked a little like scarecrows. Surely the bandits couldn't actually be trying to work the land down there, especially in this rocky area, right?

It was a curious enough matter that Roger opted to take a closer look. He circled around, then signaled his mount to descend and land. The griffin slowed its flight and touched down on the suffiently large clearing of disturbed earth, bounding off the ground once before coming to a stop, causing Roger to bounce in his saddle. The first thing the rider did was take a few moments to glance around the area to ensure there was no trouble awaiting them.. He hadn't seen anyone when flying overhead, but it paid to be cautious. Shortclaw turned his head around as well, also on the lookout for trouble.

If he doesn't see anything, we should be clear. His eyes are keener than mine. As he looked around, he noticed one of the "scarecrows" he had thought he spotted.

That's no scarecrow, he thought to himself, uneasy at what he beheld. It was a crude, macabre effigy of some sort, crafted with bones and topped with a humanoid skull, creaking eerily as it rocked in the strong wind. Just what were these bandits doing out here, and why would they create such twisted totems? He already knew that these bandits were doing some strange and unsettling things, and the fact that they'd construct these things raised some questions as to just what they were up to.

In contrast to his increasingly uneasy rider, Shortclaw seemed completely unfazed and uninterested in the effigy, probably because there was no meat on the bones.

"Let's get back to the camp," Roger spoke, signaling the griffin to take flight. Shortclaw began to run forward and flap his wings, leapt into the air against the wind, and began gaining altitude. There wasn't much else to do here, so once they climbed above the treetops, Roger directed his mount back to the camp. He wasn't entirely sure what these strange effigies meant, but whatever it was, it wasn't good. Perhaps the Steel Princess or one of the Lions' more learned members, or one of the other scouts, would have a better idea.
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Raineh Daze
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At the price, the demon turned expectantly to look down at the hundi, who only sighed before rifling through her pockets for payment. To be so easily overcharged was galling, especially when she wasn't even the one who was going to be eating it. But the coins were passed over nonetheless, and the massive demon warrior took the pastry and thoughtfully started eating it.

"You don't have to be so afraid. A merchant like you could hardly put up a good fight, so why would I want to bother?" the demon said between bites, offering reassurance in the least reassuring way she could. "This pie's good."

"Oh, good evening, Guillaume," Gisela said, giving a slight curtsy. A mage she might be, but she was still a commoner... and far too many of even the lesser nobility got annoyed if not shown the proper respect. Guillaume seemed to be above that, but why take the chance? "No new injuries to report?"
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Octo
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Lirrah practically jumped when she was addressed by a newcomer, her nerves already agitated by the presence of the world's tallest demon. When she looked up, however, she was greeted by the sight of the sort of person that might be described in a heroic storybook. Tall, golden-haired, with a sort of reassuring joviality.

Lirrah had read one or two of the more popular Veltan stories to get a sense of what does well over there, though she had not grown up with them. She was neither starry-eyed nor enthralled, but his presence was nevertheless a comfort. She forced a smile up on her face, which was almost indistinguishable from her genuine one.

"A-ah, yes, this is our first meeting," she replied, producing a mutton pie and indicating a price of 1200. As she leaned over to give the man a ticket for a pastry later, she added in a conspiratorial whisper, "I certainly would have called for help myself if my voice hadn't gotten stuck in my throat... ahaha..."

She quickly turned her attention back to the demon woman (not that she had left Lirrah's vision since she showed up) as she took the Hundi's money. Perhaps the demon's summoner? Either way, the Hundi quickly busied herself with the knight. They seemed to be on good terms. Lirrah had yet to clock all the dynamics in this location, so it was good information to have.

Lirrah gave the demon woman a big smile, still forced, and still almost indistinguishable.

"T-thank you. I, ah, make all the food myself. C-cooking and selling! My skillset is hardly suited to compat. I'm just a weak little Nem~"

Lirrah didn't mention that she wasn't bad with a bow or a sling. She doubted that would be enough for the woman to take an interest in her, but the further beneath notice she was on that front, the better. If this was a woman who only enjoyed a fight against those with combat ability, Lirrah should be safe with her... probably.

"Ah... and if you like the pie so much, please do stop py the Matayannah Trading Company tent at home camp, and tell your friends. I am sure to put my nerves aside if we get more acquainted~ I really do appreciate your custom!"
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by HereComesTheSnow
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István Shilage

@The Otter@Eisenhorn


Above one of the many fires set in the Lions' camp beneath those crimson banners, burly hands navigated a task far more delicate than they'd ever been built for. Though pale in a manner diagnostic of reduced sunlight, suggesting time spent in the range of years to the heights of Velt's colder north, they'd been quick to regain their old color closer to home— and had never once lacked in the gnarled, robust structure, all callused palms, thick fingers, and overdeveloped knuckles, that so encased the horn-carved spoon in their grip. Made to grip things firmly, take the shock of impact, a soldier's mitts— not those of an alchemist. If you looked at them, you would think them lost for subtlety.

We've had that merchant bandying her wares about for a while now. Loud as ever tonight— if this proves the goods aren't worth the racket, then I'll have to kick her over to the western flank— to say nothing of the librans.

Regardless, looks were oft deceiving, and the man's movements carried within themselves the tightly corralled precision and dexterity that so belied the broad and strong physique he carried— clear and exacting in cadence and force. One, two, three spoonfuls, each the same mass, fell into the long-handled pot balanced upon his knee, cast from copper. His eyes could read the structure of each mound, his fingers could feel the weight, and his body remembered the motion almost as well as his mind could recall his own name. Three, and no more. He needed sharpness when battle approached, not jitters, not a half-cocked buzz. Three would serve best, having ground the beans so fine in his pestle beforehand.

A gust of wind broke upon his broad back, carrying with it the smoke of fires like his own and the odor of roasting meat. Some of their liked to enter battles like the one they'd soon undertake with a full stomach, citing it gave them strength. In István's mind, it made him sluggish— he always preferred coffee to stave off the rest digestion desired. Any loss in physical capability would be overcome by the mental gain.

Additionally, he did like that it made him a touch meaner. Good for war.

In circling back to their mercantile accoutrement, he did in fairness have high hopes— the smell of the grounds was right once he added a pinch of grated cardamom, carefully retrieved by his cook from a heavy iron spicebox, and shook. This was a Nemish method of preparation, and so Nemish beans were preferable— Lirrah's sources were wide enough to feasibly have exchanged something authentic for his coin. Having swung down here, to the southern end of Velt's territory, the Lions had brought Istvan far closer to home than he'd been in the years prior— Demet territory was on the other side of the nation from the small holdings of the recently-risen Shilage.

Apple orchards, Thalnic river salmon, properly roasted coffee— this assignment had in some respects spoilt István with the tastes of his childhood. Of that which his heritage sung within the heart. Even here, in his battleground ritual, he was following a grandfather's, then father's teachings. He would too teach it to his son— as he had a little brother, or perhaps cousin. He'd need to find the boy soon, whatever he might call him.

A gooseneck drew the swirl of endlessness into the pot as he poured the water, all that ever was and ever would be in the details. Reon's light was found within them, embossing flaw, strength, method, madness. Attention paid meant result earned, simply put. He poured slow, and deliberate, saturating the savory dust with ninefold its weight in water. Then, upon the opposite axis, he repeated the motion with the spoon, never exceeding twelve rings drawn.

Less would make it weak. More would ruin its balance.

Finally satisfied, his eyes at last turned up to gaze upon the fire he was seated aside, beholding a heavy pot of cast iron filled with, of all things, sand. This was the method that turned a wild flame into a smooth, gentle blanket of heat that the Nem had taught his ancestors. The trick to allow the contents of the shining copper pot to foam and simmer, instead of boil over and scald, scattering bitterness about a drink that was to be robust and rich.

Two minutes. The simmer rising up the sides would tell him it was done. His gaze remained affixed to the pots through the time, stony mask unchanging even as a familiar subordinate (Jakob, if memory served) appeared in his peripheral.

"Sir Shilage." the man began, disciplined yet quite overeager to carry out his task. This must be a summons, then— István'd noticed the young man pounding a footpath directly through camp to his tent. "The Earl wishes you to meet him at the Lady's pavilion—"

"The boy isn't the only Earl Lady Hraesleg has caught up in the storm of her rise." He preached in reply, unwavering in gaze or expression. "You're lucky I recognize you as one of ours. Next time, a name."


The servant, in spite of himself, flinched as the older man suddenly burst into motion, reaching forward to quickly pry his cezve free from the sandpot, spooning the foam into the pair of waiting mugs that lied upon a cloth rag before deliberately pouring the contents in, a dark brown liquid akin to melted chocolate.

"He asked for me, then. Where was he last?"

Accompanying the query, the rightward mug was thrust into the servant's hands, insistent and accompanied by a smirk that, in Jakob's mind, might have been a welcoming and pleasant smile on another face. Obviously the man wished him to drink the fresh brew... but to what end? What was it he clearly meant to gain? He was known to the Demet troops and underlings of almost every stripe as serious and harsh, not one to freely share his precious potions. Was Shilage giving him thanks for the relayed message, or about to test him?

Suppressing a shiver from the breeze, he brought the warm ceramic to his lips...

Satisfied that Lirrah's beans wouldn't be poisoning the only real heir of his honored mentor, István would shortly douse the flame and order the men under his command to prepare themselves after packing out camp. He was already halfway suited himself, gambeson on his body shielding his torso from the cooling breezes that raced through the grounds. it wouldn't be long before the operation kicked off, so apropos of nothing, he intended to ensure the Earl enough awareness that he'd survive the eve.

He made his walk beneath the banners, mug held level and rigid in either hand. Another skill borne of long, long practice. As his long strides carried him through the sights and cacophony of a wartime encampment, every bit chaotic as it was regimented, his ears picked upon a jaunty, familiar tune wafting through the air.

Urden, a mercenary, was also in preparation, as the high rasp of whetstone on honed steel laced itself between the verses of his voice. Jovial and underhanded in equal measure, the dark-haired man was as archetypal of his profession as it got— the free spirit of a man whose vice had been leveraged into a trade, with it freedom. Loyalty to coin was quite fluid compared to that of blood, and István made no pretensions that he didn't consider it of equal value— but by the same token, each libran that had bought his services had been earned back double in bloodshed. That, any man could respect.

A fellow soldier from a martial lineage, all the more so.

As he passed, István raised one mug in greeting, a bassy rumble of hummed rhythm settling beneath that of the mercenary's lyrics.

"Any chance you've seen Earl Demet wandering off somewhere?"

He'd been hoping to intercept him, but found his tent barren. From the sound of it, the boy didn't intend to meet until the moment of briefing.
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by VKAllen
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@Octo "A-ah, yes, this is our first meeting," Lirrah stumbled in her words initially, but recovered herself well with pie in hand. Guillaume took note of the price indicated of 1200 librans and reached into a small sack he had prepared for payment. It was always difficult to discern the face of a vendor when they're doing their line of work; making a sale. Their expressions never betray their true emotion of the situation at hand. He watches Lirrah's face with her eyebrows rose to an arched bloom... Eyes as round as the full moon... Pupils contracting at the sight of librans in his hands. Her lips curl a smile that soothes the eyes and her dimples light the heart with a warmth of a friend's embrace. This is a genuine smile as a result of a successful sale. He gently handed librans to the Nem and accepting the mutton pie happily on his left hand, the free pastry ticket in the other. Lirrah then leaned in with a hand covering the side of her mouth and whispered secretively, "I certainly would have called for help myself if my voice hadn't gotten stuck in my throat... Ahaha..." Guillaume chuckled in return at her remark. Perhaps he and she are birds of a feather.

"Thank you Lirrah." He examined the golden brown pastry before his eyes. The skin is perfectly molded and the hot mutton filling inside was at the right temperature-- he can tell this from a simple touch. He took the pie into his mouth and ate a part... And the flaky crust crumbles into his tongue and brought homey warmth. Cold night winds have indeed not been kind to the body. What followed after was a rush of rich flavours with the aroma of its contents zealously bursting to fill the nasal cavity. The bits of pie travelled down into his stomach well and spread its warmth to his belly. It was excellence in the palm of a hand. "This pie is an experience of its own, and is indeed delicious!" He roared, but not too loudly to the merchant. For a moment there he had forgotten about Gisela and Krysia. Stuck in a world where only two existed; Guillaume and his mutton pie.

@Raineh Daze "Oh, good evening, Guillaume," The mage returned his greeting with a half-curtsy. "No new injuries to report?"

He lowered his pie and placed his gaze on Gisela with a gentle nod in acknowledgement to her gesture. "You're too kind, there's no need. What you did for me deserves much more in comparison." He of course is mentioning the one time he had suffered a grievous injury that almost cost him his life a few years ago, saved only by Gisela who happened to be around. "No new injuries to report. I made full recovery after that incident. Not even a scar was left." He raised his pie again for another bite. "How goes Krysia? Still looking for a fight every chance she gets?"
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Psyker Landshark
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Kayliss Lambert

Cadmon's words revealed that there wasn't anything of substance for her. Not yet, at least. Disappointing, but not entirely unexpected. It was at least refreshing to hear that someone wanted to make good use of a valuable asset for once. Not to disparage her actual superior here, but the thought still lingered in her brain. Still, she couldn't exactly fault Lady Hraesleg for that. The line of reasoning was obvious enough.

"Perhaps. But I doubt I'll be given the honor of cutting the head off the snake. Our objective here will always be at least partially political until the Lions are foremost in the realm. Sending an assassin to take care of matters quickly and quietly is counterproductive to that regard. At best, I might be used to soften them up somewhat. A lieutenant or two would serve, to say nothing of their supplies."

Kayliss shrugged, seeming unbothered at that. While the lack of opportunity for her personally wasn't very exciting, there was still the big picture to consider for the nation as a whole. As it stood, the Steel Princess had her support given that she was one of the few forces in the realm taking proactive measures against dangers to it as a whole. Not that Kayliss would be fickle or disloyal enough to betray the girl unless she did something treasonous. A Crownsblade had better convictions than that. But she still had a conversation to continue. Or what passed of one with a surly tactician barely into his manhood, at least.

"In any case, where is that massive brute that advises you? I'd have thought he'd be at your side."
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Eisenhorn
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Urden raised a hand in return greeting to the gambeson clad István. Now there was a man that the mercenary could respect, he'd heard stories of the Shilage family well before ever having crossed paths with the lineage themselves. Soldiers who rose up to nobility, and had been making moves to establish themselves. All that wouldn't have meant a lick if it had turned out the man had proven to not be an effective fighter. Fortunately, any concerns had been wasted considerations, István was skilled with both shield and flail. Notoriously tricky choice of weapon, and proved to be the kind of implacable pillar in a battle crush that could stand out in the finest shock company, and could charge such a fee as well if it had suited. Of course, not everyone had the mercenary outlook, not something Urden particularly blamed anyone for of course. End of the day, if all he looked for in life was a good fight alone, he could do far worse than seeing where the scion of Shilage went. Still, a question posed deserved an answer, and he gave his weapon a once over before setting the whetstone back in its place.

"The good Earl, I do think I saw him a bit ago, as well as one of his servants looking rather busy with a message no doubt paramount to deliver. Looked like he was heading for the Boss' tent, least that was the direction he was wandering while giving the troops a good once over. Tell you what though, I won't get much else done preparing so I'll help track the lad down."

Urden hopped to his feet, already practically dressed for the no doubt battle filled evening. Compared to some in the camp, the mercenary fought and travelled light, a single shoulder guard providing protection for his non dominant side. The heavier armor got, the slower he moved and, more importantly, the more expensive upkeep got. Full plate was all fine and well for nobility and knights who had a nation footing the bill for them, but it took an exceedingly successful mercenary to be able to afford the upkeep and time spent conditioning and training for how to move and fight in armor. Wearing it was just one aspect, one had to be comfortable in armor, know where it could take hits and where it couldn't. Tightening the strap on his one piece of armor, and shouldering his axe, he casually addressed the low bass that had complimented his own tune nicely.

"Been quite sometime since someone knew that old work ditty, call it a pleasant surprise. Anyways, shall we?"

Urden's mind wandered briefly while getting underway to make the search happen. He suspected a night raid on whoever was up to no good this time, it was a clever idea with soldiers who could pull it off. Night raids were tricky affairs though, it was too easy to mix up friend and foe in the gloom, even if the night sky was kind enough to not obscure what light it provided. However, that was a matter for the briefing to come as he focused his attention once more. At the leisure of the Shilage, Urden would take the lead strolling the last known path he had seen the moody lad wandering off on. It reminded him of just how....varied a band this group had become. From merchants and mercenaries to lords and noble heirs, you could find near anyone in this merry group. Urden chatted with soldiers and camp staff in passing, playing that seeming pleasant demeanor to glean where the Earl had gone. A bit of luck they'd find him in no time at this rate.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by The Otter
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Cadmon Demet

@Psyker Landshark@HereComesTheSnow@Eisenhorn

He'd been in agreement with her, up to the end; they had the same opinion of how likely it was she would get used, and what use they might get out of her skills. At her last words, though, the young noble stiffened perceptibly, his eyes narrowing towards her.

"Sir Shilage keeps his own counsel in such matters. He comes when I send for him, but if not, he's perfectly free to do as he wishes. It is my hope that he meets us at Lady Velvetica's pavilion." As much as some in the camp might wish to levy insults against his own face, Cadmon was just as content to let them come and shrug them off; to speak in such a way about the man who'd become just as close family to him as his own parents had been, however, was something he refused to let pass without some comment or correction.

Neverminding that István likely wouldn't care one bit himself.

"Hopefully between the three of us we can convince her to set you loose. I'm not feeling like a pitched battle today—sick opponents are always easier to subdue, and I'm sure you know all sorts of ways to leave them feeling quite ill." Truth be told, he was surprised how quickly he'd grown accustomed to battle, otherwise the thought of one rapidly approaching might well have left him feeling sick to his stomach, not that he'd ever admitted to it.

Luckily enough, as he picked his path back through to the center of the camp, he quickly caught sight of István a short ways away, alongside one of the mercenaries who'd joined on with the Lions. At least the presence of others should help forestall any actual argument brewing between himself and the assassin at his side. "Well. It appears my man has made a friend. Shilage!"
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by AzureKnight
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Hraesleg Lions Base Camp

A gentle breeze blew as tree leaves rustled, blowing some foliage overhead. A large serpentine body could be seen slithering among the branches, easily moving from tree to tree with surprising speed. Coming to the top of a particularly tall oak, Valmyra overlooked the plains layed out before her. No stranger to such sights, they couldn't help but put her emotions at ease. The city life that human culture afforded did have it's fancies and advantages, but to Valmyra, it just wasn't home. Of course, now wasn't the time for sightseeing. The young lamia was doing her part in surveying the area, investigating the recent attacks on the countryside by marauders.

Valmyra had to admit, she wasn't too familiar with the way human bandits conducted themselves. Only being able to go off recounts of past raids from the local folk or information gathered from knightly defenders. However, overhearing some of her comrades talking, they seem to think that it may be otherwise in this case. She supposed that in this matters she would just have to trust her judgement.

Still looking from her bird eye's view, Valmyra took note of the various splotches of different colored ground across the terrain. It has a very peculiar odor, one that was very unpleasant to her. She could make out some vaguely humanoid shapes along the ground as well, but due to the distance it was impossible for her to say for sure what it was.

That was one of the shortcomings for her kind. Lamias are known for being very near sighted, their myopic vision not serving them well in these kinds of instances. Although, as a plus, they could see creatures and people better in the dark.

Hearing a shriek in the air, Valmyra quickly looked up and saw one of her allies was also doing some scouting of their own. It was the gryphon rider - Hector, she believed his name was? While she'd kept it to herself, his beastie took her aback somewhat. Perhaps it was her animalistic genetics that reminded her of the ways in which the animal kingdom often conducted itself, but there was something about it that set her on edge a bit. Nevertheless, she should be grateful that it should be counted as an ally rather than enemy.

Seeing the rider and his mount disembark and make their way back toward the camp, Valmyra decided that she wouldn't be of much more use in this situation and did the same. Besides, while the breeze was nice, the chilling temperature was starting to bother her and she began to feel sluggish. She was looking forward to being warmed by the fires of the base camp.

After debating for a bit, Valmyra decided to bite the bullet and take a chance. She'd have to get used to it, being a member of a team and all.

"Hail there!" She called out to Hector, hoping he'd hear. "Unfortunately, my eyesight often fails me depending on the distance. Do...you perhaps know what those strange shapes back there were?"
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by PigeonOfAstora
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Location: Hraesleg Base Camp
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"...Wlyner's latest work, in spite of all these criticisms, has responded comprehensibly to the weaknesses of his previous publications, but in such a characterization I am wary that I run the risk of implying that his bibliography had any meaningful merit above the entertainment of idle philistines..." A messily written sentence snarled up against the page it rested upon, nestled closely with a combination of unfinished notes and rough drafts of the surrounding landscape. The occasional breeze fluttered the pages of the small leather-bound notebook before being pushed back and straightened out by an ink-blotched hand.

"And I thought the breeze would do me some good." Melanie murmured, lifting her head to regard the tent she had used as a support. Beside her, a large paper sculpture of a soldier stood next to her, frozen in its dazed pose and slouching under its own weight. It was as if someone had drawn a rough sketch of what a 'soldier' was supposed to look like, and built a facsimile with bound paper by memory alone. Its featureless face stared incuriously toward the rest of the military camp. With a flick of Melanie's wrist, the sculpture animated momentarily, lumbered and adjusting its posture until its body came to loom over the elven writer, then froze once more. Simply insufficient. Melanie snapped the notebook shut and annoyed, waved her hand once again. This time, the sculpture shuddered as its structure unraveled from complicated interlocking patterns and stacks into pages, pages into strips, and finally folding unto itself into nothing.

Where was she? That was a question that Melanie seemed to ask herself frequently, both of her curiosities and of her person. She fumbled back into her memories as she gained a visual purchase of her situation once again. It was the Hraesleg camp, on the verge of readying themselves for war. War? War. Melanie retracted her choice of words. The conflict had not yet escalated into open skirmish, but she had seen how both sides had geared themselves for such a confrontation well before she had arrived in Velt. And now she had placed herself betwixt the rising hostility, riding on her paper golems alongside the march of the Veltian banner. She briefly proffered a consideration that she may have made this particular expedition a degree too deep, but swiftly cut that line of inquiry. No, no. If there was anywhere a witness had to be, this was such a place - whether or not Melanie had to make good on the promise of providing 'arcane support' where-ever possible.

Before her, the camp was lively with the camp's preparations. Oh, and was that a gryphon she spied in the distance? And a lamia warrior too! Quite the eclectic bunch! Melanie had known the Steel Princess had been quite indiscriminate in her recruitment process (in fact, it was perhaps for this very grace that the elven historian dressed in academic robes could remain here), but both were quite the rare sight indeed. Gryphons, gryphons? Griffins, was the more common pronunciation. Melanie stared at Shortclaw with a ferocious fascination as she dug through her notebook. Male, one of the western breed yes, well-kept... The griffin's bonded and the lamia warrior were exchanging intelligence it seemed, and Melanie knew to not interfere. Not yet. But the first chance she got, she was certainly going to ask after him.
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