Hidden 4 yrs ago 4 yrs ago Post by Goldeagle1221
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The Imperial Forest -- Day 5


Josephine studied the minotaur carefully, and the trees themselves fell silent as their conversation halted before it truly began. A leaf fell before Josephine and her eyes followed it, as her mind could not believe the myth that stood before her as alive and real as the forest. Spears of sunlight that bursted through the green canopies illuminated the beast's massive body, and lightened his brown fur.

The princess parted her red lips to speak but simply closed them. For once in her life she didn’t have a response, let alone one of wit for this savior. She puffed out her chest with a deep inhale and sighed, “you can show us the way?”

“Te,” The minotaur grunted, “yes.”

“Why would you,” Josephine squinted her sharp blue eyes at the monsterous figure. The beast flared his nostrils as if almost dismissing the question as silly, “Ruvv Hinan, to protect the hornless.”

“Why?” Josephine continued her questioning.

“Gar,” The minotaur boomed, “because it is good.”

“How do I know you won’t betray us,” Josephines eyes fluttered to the mounds of stone and dirt that had charged them as Kafshe monsters, realizing how obvious the question might be. Even if she refused, she figured there was little they could do to convince this beast to leave. Besides, if he was going to attack them, better in front of them than behind.

“Ri gar,” The monster seemed almost amused, “because I am good.”

“What is your name, good beast?” Josephine said taking a brave step forward.

“Ri Freg Gerntef,” the minotaur boomed, “I am Freg Gerntef.”

“Very well then, Freg,” the princess pursed her lips, “you will lead us as our guide, but according to our maps. There will be no funny business or changing the plans without my approval.”

Freg bowed his great horned head and slung his mighty axe over his back. The great mysterious metal weapon clanged against the cage the massive tome on his back was held in.

“Not trying to be rude,” Das called out as he pulled his head from the window of one of the beaten up carriages, “but I think we may have a problem.”

Josephine spun on her heel and trotted up to Das and poked her head where he had his. Her sapphire gaze glanced over the interior of the carriage (what does she see?)

Zach was pushing the body of Flint off of him and taking short and quick breathes. Josephine could see blood had covered much of the inside along with a gatt bullet hole through the roof. She could also see a knife in Zach’s side and blood pouring out of Flints body.

Zach was finally able to push the body off and look up he saw Josephine and said “Oh...My lady..Flint attacked me in the middle of the fight…before he did though his eyes went dark purple...I couldn’t call for help over all the fighting and…..when it was all said and done this is what happened...he nearly would have gotten me too if I didn’t find some loose blade and was able to get him…” Zach then looked down and saw the knife in him even though he put it there and knew he wasn’t going to be seriously damaged he continued “I seemed to have been stabbed...if I could get a hand that’d be great…” Zach said as he leaned himself up against the carriage wall.

Das quickly dove in through the window and squirmed to his feet. He hooked an arm under Zach and looked at the blade. With a frown he slapped a rag around the protruding object, “how the hell did he manage to stab you after you stabbed him?” Das joked as he applied pressure.

Josephine turned to call the others while Das worked on the wound.



Hidden 4 yrs ago Post by Darkspleen
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The Imperial Palace -- Day 7


The dining hall was decadent, even more so than usual. Today for the first time formally in a long while the court of Emperor Wilhelm the Mad had congregated into one spot for a formal feast and festivity. Purple banners were hung all along the sunlit walls and draped above the open windows that all but surrounded the large marble room. The great wooden table sat long in the center of the decoration, with cushioned seats prepared for the court.

The robust smell of poultry and herbs wisped through the air and danced alongside the bittersweet smell of liquor. A small raised platform that stood backed to a marble wall and flanked by two ancient suits of armor was dusted and glossed for the lute players upcoming performance for the Imperial Court. The lovely smells emitted from around that direction through the creases of the door to the kitchen, almost as if the architect of the palace had planned such an inviting lure for the nose as well as the eyes and ears to focus on while dining.

Wilhelm himself, dressed in his white and purple robes already stared in that general direction while sitting at a very throne like chair. Even if the music had yet to start he seemed curious about the musician who sat waiting for the festivities to start.

In return, flanked to his left sat Sophia, also staring at the musician that which George had invited himself. Besides these two not many others of the court paid much attention and prefered to sit among themselves and chat. Behind the Imperial Marshal of Stromism, who had chosen to remain quiet as he sat next to the coiled Euphemia stood Reginald, stalwart and ready to serve.

George himself had just arrived and was settling into his spot to the right of his father while servants rushed to serve the diners hearty and generous plates of duck and vegetables. Warm fluffy biscuits of bread were passed around as Reginald foresaw the serving, and soon everyone was faced with a steaming pile of exquisite cuisine, including Skyler who had arrived a little after George and snuck a seat next to the prince.

The lute player, Akakia, looked over the audience before sweeping into a low bow. She then began playing her lute without preamble, beginning with a tune from Xoskea but quickly transitioning to other styles from around the Empire in quick succession, jumping from Xoskean to Gattannian and then to the styles favored in the Imperial Provinces.

Wilhelm seemed content with the music, shifting his eyes from the musical lamia and instead shifting it to his plate, where he started stabbing a breast of duck with his spoon. After the hunk of meat was obliterated by the blunt utensil he shrugged and used the spoon to simply scoop the meat into his mouth.

Skyler watched intently at the lute player, the way her fingers moved across the strings created a blur that Skyler found amusing. She wasn't usually interested in music, but the skill of this player had the Priestess intrigued. She sat in silence, ignoring the food as she gave the player her full attention. The lute player, seeming to sense her gaze, looked at Skyler and gave her a warm smile as she picked up the tempo of her song for a moment. The song turned almost melancholy as her gaze shifted to the Emperor.

Sophia watched the lute player with barely concealed wariness. Memories of the last time a person had come to play a lute in the palace were still fresh in her mind and she was ready to ensure that history did not repeat itself. Every once in a while, though, her gaze would shift to Skyler for a moment.

As Sophia continued to glance at her, Skyler gave a small wave and a smile, making sure to keep her bandage arm securely hidden under the table. ‘I know you have a secret, and I will figure it out, then I will crush you’ She thought, her face not changing from the pleasant smile. Sophia narrowed her eyes, more in thought than anything else, before giving Skyler a wave of her own and turning back to Wilhelm.

Euphemia watched the exchange from the back, raising an eyebrow as she looked at Reginald. She had never spoken to the lamia Sophia before, thus didn’t know what to think of her. What she had heard, however, had caused her to raise an eyebrow previously. She almost opened her mouth to say something to Reginald, but chose not to.

By this point Akakia’s tune had picked up pace and she began to sing about some mostly forgotten battle in the Empire’s distant past. Her soothing voice seemed to fill the entirety of the dining hall and it quickly became apparent that she had more than a little skill.

After a few moments George shifted his gaze from his father who had been struggling with a soggy asparagus on the end of the wrong side of his fork and unto the Imperial Marshal who returned the glance with lifeless eyes behind an iron beaked mask. The Marshal shrugged, as if completing a thought George was transmitting to the soldier. George shook his head and looked past Skyler who sat to his right and towards Akakia. He raised his glass of liquor slightly with a smile as if congratulating her; Clearly he had made the correct decision inviting this lamia.

The dinner lasted a while longer, and George managed to sneak in a well overdue conversation with his Imperial Marshal of Stromism, Gregory. The conversation didn’t last all that long when compared to the life of the dinner after Wilhelm had somehow managed to flip Sophia’s plate completely upside-down, and apparently by accident. Sophia hadn’t seemed particularly bothered by this as she gave him a pleasant smile. What mess there was, was quickly solved by the surprisingly deft handed Reginald and before long the party was separating to continue what affairs they had laid before the party had begun.

As the Marshal gave George a nod before leaving, the Prince returned it with a slight salute before touching Skyler’s arm to get her attention.

Skyler turned to George “Yes?” She asked, smiling slightly.

As his father and most of the guests left the room George spoke softly, as if urgent, “Can you do me a favor? I wouldn’t normally ask this of you but you did say you wanted to help me out today.”

“Of course, what is it honey?” She replied quietly.

George motioned gently over to Euphemia with a thrust of his chin, “could you work with my steward for a little. There are an abundance of papers to file, they are pretty sensitive, but I figured if there was anyone I could trust with my work it was you.”

Skyler seemed a little confused at the request, she wasn't someone who was used to filing paperwork. She then suddenly smiled and nodded her head “Suuure, watch the ... ‘paperwork’ ” She gave George a wink “Don't worry about it, I will make sure it is done correctly.” She then stood up, glancing back to George “See you soon” She whispered as she left to follow Euphemia.

“Be easy,” George almost laughed back at her, “it’s hard to find good stewards now a days.” Behind his smile he was contemplating what exactly he had done to Euphemia, but thankfully, perhaps more than he realized, it was a great idea of his to also send Gregory to secretly supervise.

With Skyler preoccupied with both the Marshal and his steward, George slipped into the halls. He straightened his posture as he walked, feeling the ache from the stiff wooden chair. This is why he prefered his large cushioned chair in his room, he had thought to himself as he made his way to Cressida’s thick wooden door.

He nudged his cape from his shoulder and free’d his hand to give it a sturdy knock.

“Your Grace” Cressida said as she opened the door, gesturing for George to enter and take a seat next to her desk. The desk itself was covered by a collection of maps and written orders. At one corner a mostly empty bottle of wine and a half filled glass could be seen; the strong stench of wine seemed to waft from Cressida. “I hope the day has been kind to you thus far.”

“As I see it has been kind to you,” George raised a teasing eyebrow as he walked in. He slapped a hand on the table and quickly ran his vision over the maps, even if his mind was on the potent stench of grape and alcohol.

“I’ve already sent word to Taryn to send a vanguard of five thousand soldiers as soon as possible” Cressida said as she slithered to the opposite side of the table. “It shouldn’t take too long for them to arrive. Another twenty thousand will follow as soon as possible. I expect them to be ready within the month. It’d be best to decide what route to take now. Sea or land?”
“Xoskea borders only by land, so I suggest marching them. The Khazad as well as the Imperial Province will make sure they are well supplied into the heart of the Empire,” George said glancing up at Cressida with the look of a general.

Cressida eyed the map for a moment before asking “Will we be marching alongside Imperial troops or do you intend to have us operate as an independent formation?”

“For the sake of ease, they will be ordered with the Imperial troops until deemed necessary to split them,” George answered.

“Good” Cressida said with a nod. “It’s been a long time since Xoskean soldiers have fought in large formations like what I’m expecting. And honestly we’ve never been that good at it to begin with. I imagine you’ll be best served using my troops in a supportive role.”

“I would think so as well,” George concluded, the images of possible formations scaling his mind. He stopped suddenly as a thought crossed his day dream, “what of you, will you be marching alongside me?”

“Naturally I’ll be with my troops. This is the largest amount of troops sent out from Xoskean in… decades. It wouldn’t do for me to sit back at home and wait for news.” She shook her head. “I’ve… heard of this thing called cavalry before, but since I’ve never really seen it in action… well it’s hard to really comprehend what it can do.” She shook her head again.

“I’ll have to show you, it’s best to be prepared,” George said thinking back to his own horse. He nodded as if agreeing to a statement asked by someone else, “if you would want you could always visit the capital garrison to view the soldiers in action.”

“I’ll have to take you up on that offer” Cressida said after a moment. “I can give you skilled ranged infantry and powerful melee soldiers. They may be able to help fill any gaps that form in our formations once battle has been met.” She frowned before asking “What can you tell me about the terrain we’re expecting to fight in?”

“Both flat and forest areas are expected,” George stated.

“Ok. I’ll want to scout out those forests once we reach the area and see how dense they are. We’ll take the front in the forests, if you don’t mind, and play a supportive role on those flat areas.”

“Of course, but we should probably keep our minds open to changes on the various fields of battle,” The prince added.

George leaned back in his chair and shoved a fist under his chin in thought. Everything seemed to be going well, and to add to it Williams should just be completing his journey soon. His eyes twitched over to the wine bottle and his mind reminded him of the sweet scent of the liquor he and Cressida had shared in the tower. He inhaled and shifted his vision back to the map.

“What can you tell me about our enemy?” Cressida asked as she grabbed her glass of wine, taking a quick sip before setting it back down. “I haven’t kept up with what’s been going on in the north as of late, so I’m not quite sure what to expect from them. Anything specific we need to worry about?”

“They will be tricky, and try to maneuver in ways so that they can survive a war against a larger army. Expect a lot of strange battles, and even stranger politics.” George mentioned absent mindedly, as if somewhere else. “I would study some of the northern culture’s past tactics. I’m sure I have a few books in my office I can lend to you. However,” George snapped back to the conversation, “it’s their pride that will make them the most dangerous. They are tough people in the north, and they know it.”

The door swung open, slamming into the wall beside it as a feminine figure dressed in white stepped into the room “AHA I.. oh..” Skyler proclaimed then seemed to slouch in confusion as the two people who had been talking purely professionally where not, as Skyler thought, engaging in sexual acts.

“Can I help you with something… Lady…?” Cressida’s expression was not quite annoyed. She shifted her gaze from Skyler to George and back again.

George lifted an eyebrow, what shock he would have felt was already numbed by his learnt expectation of Skyler’s misadventures. Suddenly his eyes darted around the door frame as if looking past Skyler. Gregory was no where to be seen. A soft drop lulled in his stomach as he concluded that Skyler must have slipped from the Marshal when he was out gathering more paperwork for Euphemia to in turn give to Skyler. He knew it would take the man longer to find her now that she had left, and he knew whatever was to happen next would be rather unpredictable. His stomach tightened as if ready to receive a blow.

George’s reaction had not been lost to Cressida. She narrowed her eyes ever so slightly as she looked at the woman who had so rudely burst into her room. She slithered around the table, placing herself beside George, and slightly between him and Skyler, before placing a hand on his shoulder. She let her tone turn just a bit acidic as she said “Nevermind, could you please excuse yourself.”

“I don't see why I should” Skyler defensively replied, deciding instead to walk into the room and close the door behind her. She looked over to the near empty wine bottle and raised an eyebrow “you two have been celebrating it seems, Who even are you?”

“We are in a private meeting,” George said with much emphasis as he directed Skyler to the door with quick eye movements.

Cressida’s eyes narrowed as she looked at Skyler. There was something about the woman had her instincts screaming danger, but she couldn’t pin it down to any specific thing. She certainly didn’t look particularly threatening. “Where I’m from it’s considered rude to barge into someone’s private quarters. Not to mention demanding they name themselves afterwards.”

“Where I come from it is considered rude to drink when important matters are being discussed, but here you are drinking up the place like some sort of Wine goblin!” Skyler spat back.

George put up his hands to interject but was over ruled by Cressida’s own interjection.

“Wine goblin! How dare you!” Cressida’s grip on George’s shoulder tightened . “Why don’t you be a good little girl and find some corner to play in?”

“How about this stops now and we return to our individual business?” George said rather sternly, not particularly taking a side in the outburst.

“LITTLE GIRL!” Skyler stomped over to the pair “Listen here missy, just because I don't lug around a ton of snake wherever I go doesn't mean I’m small!” Skyler replied angrily.

Cressida used her lower body to prop herself up so she towered over Skyler. “Why don’t you listen to His Grace and allow us to return to our business?” There was more than a little smugness in her tone.

“Ooooh look at the big woman being all scary!” Skyler replied sarcastically “and what was that business? Hmm? You seem to be awfully defensive over simple political talks” Skyler stood her ground, standing inches in front of her.

The prince stood up, he looked down at the two and he barked, “enough. There are military matters to go over, and I won’t sit and watch the work of the Empire be ignored for this petty argument.”

Cressida eyed Skyler for a moment before lowering herself down. “Sorry your Grace,” She said after a moment, “I let myself get a tad hotheaded.”

Skyler closed her eyes as her teeth grated. She opened them to stare at Cressida for a few seconds, she then spun on her heel and began to walk away.’I’ll show her ‘hotheaded’ She thought, leaving with one last scowl towards the pair.

George inhaled deeply and suddenly he felt like he was going to regret this entire moment later that night, particularly around bed time. He rolled his eyes and banished the worry with cynical thoughts as he plopped himself back down into his chair. He brought a wide hand to his face and rubbed his temple, completely forgetting he was in company.

“I think I pissed her off” Cressida said after a moment, reaching for her glass of wine and taking a quick sip. “Want some?” She held the glass out to him.

The man jumped slightly at Cressida’s voice, remembering the lamia. He silently wrapped his fingers around her glass and brought it to his lips. The bitter sweet wine tickled his throat as he finished what was left in the already worked on cup.

Cressida grabbed the bottle of wine and refilled the glass with what little had remained in the bottle. She watched George for a moment, a look of worry etched across her face. “Who was she anyways?”

“A Gattanian guest from the wedding party,” George answered vaguely, “The priestess.”

George turned his blank stare into one of focus as he faced Cressida. His sensitive ears perked at the sound of heavy boots stomping past the room. Gregory was on Skyler’s trail. A small satirical grin almost formed as he thought about how too late that was.

“Damned Nachtist” Cressida muttered. She raised an eyebrow as George smiled. “Something amuses you your Grace?”

“George,” the Prince said as he looked Cressida in the eye, “call me by my name.”

“I’m not entirely sure that’s appropriate” Cressida said after a moment. She grabbed the glass and took a long sip, draining half of its contents in the process.

“I would prefer it,” George stated simply.

“What is it you want from me?” Cressida snapped, surprising herself for a moment. She forced herself to keep going “You made it quite clear that night that there could be nothing between us and yet…. I’ve tried to be professional with you, to be that loyal vassal you need.” She slowly shook her head and as she continued her voice took a somber tone “Is this some sort of punishment?”

“No,” George replied, taking a more defensive posture in his chair, “not a punishment. I’m sorry if that is how you were taking it. I just… prefer my name over my title, it reminds me that I am human.” His eye nearly crossed in confusion as he pondered what he had created between himself, and Skyler, and what he had done to Cressida, and he sighed a hot sigh, there was little doubt in his mind about his humanity.

Cressida brought the glass up to her lips and tipped it back, emptying the rest of its contents. She took a deep breath as she gently set the glass down and looked at George. She eyed the prince for a moment before reaching towards him, wrapping her arms around him and leaning in for a long kiss. She held him in her embrace for a moment before pulling back. “Sorry I… Look I-I wanted to be clear about how I feel.”

George felt light headed as her soft lips grazed his. Even as they parted a certain wanting overcame him and with her words rattling in his head like bumble bees covered in nectar. He was overcome by her scent and by the urge he had buried the day he descended from the tower stairs, and without thinking, without reigning in control over himself, he silently pressed his own lips back onto hers.


Hidden 4 yrs ago Post by darkwolf687
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The Imperial Palace; Well met by candlelight

Zarali pushed open the door for Richard and the stout man strutted into the room with a huge smile on his face though it quickly faded when he came face to face, or rather face to helm, with Chief Zufai. Zarali watched with a thin smile on her face as Richards wide eyes looked the armoured Chief up and down and stumbled over his words as he began to speak, in clear terror of the being that was over 4 times his height and wearing armour so thick it might crush him should he try to lift it. She knew he was in no danger, but clearly he didn't...

"M-Mi lo- Chief! I meant Chief... Uh..." Richard stuttered as Zufai folded his arms, apparently displeased with the man’s presentation. Richard quivered slightly as Zufai spoke in his deep and powerful voice

"Zarali informs me that you believe yourself to have something that belongs to us. The Ring of Simaki Grace. Present it to me, pellan, or forever be shamed." Richard nodded quickly and took the bag from off his back, taking out a stone ring covered in ancient carvings. Although it was a ring to Welbali, it was far to big for human fingers and Zarali guessed it could easily have sat on Richards had like a crown.

"Here it is –michief; your ring of Grace." Richard said as he passed it to Zufai, who took it from him and examined it... Or presumably examined it, it was hard to tell with his helmet still on. It irked her, to tell the truth, his helmet was certainly not required in the imperial palace and yet here he wore it as if he were about to ride into war.

"You appear to speak the truth."

"Then... About a reward?"

"Do not fear, pellan, I am a just giant. I see that good deeds are rewarded. You have made me High Chief. Zarali tells me you have administrative skills that were unparalleled among your peers, at least in her youth, and are privy to some rather dubious connections. You will join my court, I appoint you Seneschal of my household. We have a realm to unite. In addition you will be-"

The door flung open and a giant rushed in, carrying a twitter message in his right hand and dashing towards the Chieftain
"Chief! Word from your Ceyealasil… A large host of Elves marched to Aaldorenfeald."

"A host of elves marching to the side of a man burning imperial flags, Sounds like a rebellion to me." Zufai sighed and turned, leaning over a table and mumbling as he examined a map of the world "If it is an anti-imperial pact, Redbady and ourselves had best keep our watch in case they should march into the imperial province."

"Or into us, to destroy the northern loyalists." Zarali said, half to herself as she approached him.

"There's more... The Spiritual know of the ring, they saw it in the glass; They have declared you High Chief in absentia, to receive full blessings upon your return home. They sent this with the letter." The retainer took a small pale white vial from his pouch and passed it to Zufai, who stared at it in awe for a moment, before taking it. He removed his helmet slowly, almost shakily, and pressed the vial to his lips, tipping back his lips and drinking it, before lowering it again and placing it on the table, drawing a triangle with his hand.

Zarali watched him in a mixture of joy and trepidation. The newly anointed high chief placed the ring against his finger and slid it on, and instantly there was a presence around him, like an intense aura of greatness...

But them he let out an almighty cry and clutched his head with both hands, clearly in agonising pain, collapsing backwards. Zarali dashed to his side, catching him as he fell backwards and lowering him to the ground as he spasmed, holding his head close against her chest. Her joy was replaced with terror, having no knowledge of what was occurring to her chief and lover...

Suddenly his body broke off of her and hovered into the area, an echoing voice that sounded like several overlapped spoke from his lips in foreign tongues, before in a clatter the armoured giant crashed to the floor

She watched him as he stirred, rising slowly to his knees, his eyes dull and his face bearing a look of fear.... She noticed he seemed even taller and that he just seemed… greater, more impressive, more majestic and above all more powerful. She Retainers felt it to, she could tell by the looks on their faces; They were all in awe of this giant

"Haelia Alasil... A fallen city sits upon the roof of the world, that is where I must go first, though the reasoning escapes me..."

Zarali watched him with evident concern for a few moments before she approached him and he gave her his arm as she pulled him to his feet "Are you okay, my love?" Zufaii nodded slowly

"I'm fine, Angua larreilles." He replied with a weak smile, drawing her closer to himself as he stood and pausing for a moment. "Maralok will remain here as our liaison with the Imperials. I will ride to this city from my visions. You will ride for Riellalasil to act as regent while I am away."

"And if Riellealasil falls apart without it's leader present? You are the first concrete leader your people have had in over half a century, you cannot walk away and-"

"It must be done. I cannot ignore a alasil-el, Zarali. You are more than capable of keeping Riellealasil in one piece, without your counsel my own clan wouldn't run."

"He is Zufai a Welkynd, High Chief of Riellealasil, Clan father of Welkynd, Keeper of the Dark Waters." The guardsmen cut in "By the grace of the Simaki and his reign, we shall endure!"

"I'm quite aware of the name of the man I am sleeping with, thank you." Zarali said dryly as she approached the table, taking the white vial and examining it with marked annoyance "If you are going to be the supreme ruler of a vassal state, we're going to need to make a few changes. I have some reforms in mind for Riellealasil, whether the Welbali much like them or not. In terms of agriculture we lag so far behind it is embarrassing"

"Irrigation canals freeze up. The ground is hard. There is nothing we can do."

"Not true, a certain mutual friend of ours ensures me he can help us construct a system to counter act it..." Zarali cast a glance to Richard who quickly nodded in response

"If we thread a series of pipes through the ground underneath the crop land, we could pour water through it and use that to water the crops, as irrigation canals are out of the question... It would take us some time but it means you wouldn't have to manually water the crops, meaning you can plant more, grow more and expend less overall time in the fields..." Zufai looked at him sternly, as if the man had just made it up

"Pray tell pellan, how do we get the water through these pipes."

"Well, pumps of course mi lo- My chief. If we arrange the set up right, one man... Er, Welbal, could use the pump to pump the water through while the other pours the water into the pipelines. Its rather elementary, I'm unsure why none of you thought of it..."

"Dig the first whole through the frozen earth of Riellealasil yourself, then you will have the answer to your question, pellan."

"Well, I never said it would be easily to install but..."

"And when the pump freezes over? When the remaining water turns to ice and slowly blocks the pipes?"

"I never said all the details were worked out..." Richard said, raising his hands defensively "But I am sure we can find a way to heat the pipes to keep the water from freezing over..." There was a raucous laughter from Zufai

"Clearly you have never been to Riellealasil, Pellan. If you can find a way then you have my blessing.” Zufai said as he turned to the guardsmen “Ready the Ice Wolves, we ride an-“ Their conversation was interrupted by a snort from the door way, and the room turned to see Hufai there. In his right hand he held a brown sack, which he tossed forwards and into the room. A head rolled out of it and across the floor, stopping at Zarali’s feet. The cold dead eyes of Julok a Welkynd staring up at her, lifelessly

“This one attempted to tear my sails. Your little pellan whore gave that order.” Zarali darted towards Hufai, swinging her fist towards the Ogre’s face and landing the blow directly on his nose, sending him stumbling back in shock. The Ogre quickly came to his senses and gave her a thin smile “Oh, you want to die now?” Hufai turned his attention to Zufai "I told you if you threaten me again, I'll chop off your cock and feed it to her. Bet she enjoys eating your cock though, doesn't she?"

"I'll chop yours off and shove so far up your arse it replaces your tongue, if I can find the damn thing in the first place." Zarali snarled and launched another blow towards the Ogre's face, but Hufai grabbed her hand and grappled with her. She broke away quickly and for a moment it look as though the two were going to fight, but Zufai stepped between the pair quickly.

“Hufai, Zarali, sepredia… Hufai; You know the laws. The Anyammisdelle is set at 15,000 pieces, with a deduction of 2 for the price of your sails” A deathly silence fell across Hufai and his two retainers, as they kept their gaze fixed on Zufai. Zarali quickly felt a wave of embarrassment come over her; She had previously admonished Zufai for his 'savagery' when it came to disputes, and yet her she was threatening to castrate an ogre... Then again, if anyone deserved it, he did.

15,000. That was the blood price for the unlawful killing a clan-cousin of the ruling clan. It was a massive price, even the richest on the continent would see it as a blow to their finances. As Welkynd were not known to now be the ruling clan by Hufai, the price should have been 10,000. In Hufai’s eyes, she knew this would seem as though Zufai was attempting to claim the title of High Chief without rights. Zarali kept her mouth shut, half hoping the Ogre would try to attack Zufai. However, Hufai apparently managed to keep his temper under control

“You may not set the delle. I call it defence as he assaulted my ship and I will not pay the delle without a suitable authorities judgement.”

“As High Chief, I declare my judgement. You will pay 14998 to my clan or you will be taken in chain to Hectahame to pay the nagadelle.” Silence fell again as Hufai glared at him. Zufai raised his right hand slowly to reveal the ring slid over his gauntlet. Hufai clenched his jaw so tight Zarali thought that his teeth would shatter. Once several seconds of painful silence and tension had passed, the Ogre fell down to his right knee, crossing his arms over his chest and bowing his head down to the floor slowly. The two retainers that flanked him also fell to their knees

“Av artca ni ry angua Mala Aran av nou kyn. Arctanevoy anyadena a Varlais, sunnabe Riellealasil, sunnabe Welkynd, sunnabe Mala Aran Zufai!” Hufai swore while on his knee. Zarali’s mouth dropped slightly in surprise; she had not expected Hufai’s submission. She knew that he would obey an ordained High Chief, but Zufai had not received all the appropriate blessings to be decided as the chosen of the Simaki and yet Hufai has just sworn a life treaty, the longest and most sacred treaty any Welbali could make.

“Av arctane sou anyadena.” Zufai replied slowly; Though his face was obscured, his voice made it clear that he was slightly shocked by Hufai’s sudden acceptance as well. The Ogre and his two clansmen rose from the floor “Aran Hufai, I am thankful that you will put aside our prior disagreements for the good of our people.”

“Angua Mala Aran, I accept the Anyammisdelle of 14998 for the life of your Clan-cousin.” Hufai replied dejectedly. There was no doubt Varlais, as one of the biggest clans in Riellealasil, could afford 14998 pieces, but it wouldn’t make Hufai popular amongst Varlais Clan-Siblings. Hufai acknowledged that there was little he could do about it; Now Zufai had been selected by the Counsel Spiritual as High Chief, he would have support of the Temple, and the temple had the support of the people. If Varlais rose up against Welkynd, they risked their own people turning against them, their vassal clans betraying them and even their own Kinsmen and Retainers switching sides out of loyalty to the Simaki Temple.

“Scribe!” Zufai called, and a goblin rushed across the room with a long piece of paper and a quill, nodding excitedly and dipping the quill in an inkwell “These are who I appoint to my Privy Council; Zarali a Welkynd, Hufai a Varlais, Kurali a Welkynd, Maralok a Weyana, Nufai a Welkynd, and in accordance with the wishes of the Simaki the three leaders of the Counsel Spiritual. Send it.” The goblin quickly rushed out of the room and, with almost perfect timing, Maralok and his two retainers entered, peering around the room slowly and then to Zufai… Maralok’s eyes slowly moved to the new High Chiefs hand and then he quickly fell to his knee’s

“Av artca ni ry angua Mala Aran av nou kyn. Arctanevoy anyadena a Weyana, angua Mala Aran. Sunnabe Riellealasil, sunnabe Welkynd, sunnabe Mala Aran Zufai.” Maralok swore, his two retainers falling to their knee behind him

“Av arctane sou anyadena, Maralok.” Zufai said as he approached the goblin, who rose up to his feet and looked up to the Giant “I have appointed you to the Privy Council, Maralok, but time is of the essence. You will remain here as our liason with the imperials. I have decided in my time here that an eye must be kept on the Emperor; the anti-imperial sentiment floating around due to his condition gives me reason to fear for him. You are the one I trust best to manage our diplomatic affairs."

"So it is said, so shall it be done." Maralok replied, lowering his head slightly

"Ready my ice wolf, I ride."
Hidden 4 yrs ago Post by Drunken Conquistador
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Imperial Palace -- Day 7


Shahzada Kambujya strode filled with renewed purpose through the halls of the Imperial Palace, his Orc bodyguard Yazen following closely behind. Today he would do something useful with his time, for a change. The Shahzada had wasted enough time and money drinking, whoring and lazing about. Besides, with Mardunyia somewhere in that dreaded forest these activities lost part of their appeal in the eyes of Kambujya. After all what was the point in doing it without a friend there with you? But enough of that, he was getting distracted and he couldn’t afford that. Not when he had decided to carry out such ambitious (at least for him) plan: He would secure a marriage between himself and the Xoskea royalty.

It was a sound plan. He had to secure an advantageous marriage for the Shahdom with some foreign royalty. And Xoskea was a good start as any, at least he had talked with one of them already in the garden just before the wedding. And if he couldn’t convince Karissa to go forward with the match, well, there’s always other chances.

“How long until we reach her quarters Yazen?” Kambujya asked, half turning to his slave.

“Not far master.” The Orc replied. “The servant said that her quarters are in this wing of the Palace”

After a few more minutes of walking and turning around corners the duo finally reached their destination. Yazen went to the door and knocked three times before announcing:

“Shahzada Kambujya desires an audience!”

“Shahzada Kambujya may enter” Karissa called from the other side of the door. “Its unlocked.”

Yazen immediately shoved the door open and soon after Kambujya entered the room. As soon as he crossed the threshold he bowed to Karissa.

“Your Grace.” He greeted cordially while Yazen took his place in a corner of the room.

“Please make yourself comfortable” Karissa gestured towards a pair of chairs that occupied one of the room’s corner. The princess of Xoskea had not been alone. Slightly to the side rested a lamia as of yet unknown to Kambujya and Yazen. “Allow me to introduce my cousin, Baroness Cressida.” The other lamia, Cressida, gave the pair a nod before giving Karissa a look. “Yes, yes. I know you have a war to prepare for. Give the prince my regards.”

“I’m not meeting with him,” Cressida responded, “but should I run into him I’ll pass it along.” She gave Kambujya a low bow as she said “Good day” and then slithered out of the room, closing the door behind her.

“Now” Karissa said as Cressida closed the door “what is it I can do for you?”

“I have come to negotiate Your Grace.” Kambujya replied as he sat down in a chair. “I’m here to inquire about the possibility of joining Sughben and Xoskea in a marriage alliance.”

“Oh?” Karissa raised an eyebrow. “What exactly do you have in mind?”

“What I have in mind is to marry with an esteemed member of your family.” Kambujya smiled. “To be honest the only reason I was sent to the capital was for the chance to set up a royal match for the good of the Shahdom, as my mother would put it. And since that whole dreadful business with the thief, the Emperor and the quest I’ve been delayed in this task.” He leaned back in the chair and cleared his throat. “My sister may have forgotten that she also ought to return home with a husband, but I still hope to salvage this trip. And since we had that lovely talk in the gardens some days ago I decided that it would be best if I started looking for a possible match with Xoskea. I don’t need to point out just how advantageous this would be our respective lands would I?”

“Hmmm… Perhaps” She said after a moment. “I am a bit… worried? Perhaps that’s too strong of a word - concerned about the depth of the Shahdom’s loyalty to the Empire. Our earlier conversation left me with some doubts.”

“Of course.” He half mumbled. “But I assure you that your doubts are unfounded as of now Your Grace. Innerzik has ensured that the horses of Sughben will ride under the flag of the Empire. My own sister has been talking with Prince George regarding these matters of war and an Imperial force has marched into our lands to drive off the rebels.” Kambujya paused and leaned towards the Lamia. “We are now tied with the Empire’s cause because of the Usurper’s actions. And if I end up marrying into one of the most outspoken loyalist dynasties of Jerrovia we will essentially be bound to the Imperial side in any further conflicts...that may soon come if rumors coming from the north have any grain of truth on them.”

“Very well, so long as you understand that any union between our families will not obligate Xoskea to help the Shahdom should it come to odds with the Empire.” Karissa paused for a moment before continuing “What is it you hope to gain out of this union?”

“Me?” Kambujya asked. “Personally I look for a bride that will not flee to Gattania with her lover.” He laughed and then continued more somberly. “Twice in a row would be too much.”

“Scum” Karissa muttered under her breath. “I understand, but perhaps I should rephrase. What is it your family hopes to gain? Is it a high ranking wife? Certain obligations from Xoskea?”

“A wife of prestigious bloodline. And of course closer ties with Xoskea, both diplomatically and economically. And an ally in the future.” Kambujya replied. “Not against the Empire of course, but if this most recent rebellion has proven something is that the future holds no shortage of conflicts for us. And of course we would do the same for you. Just as we would expect your military support in our times of trouble, we would offer the same courtesy to your nation whenever you needed.”

“Very well. I see no fault with that.” She nodded once, more to herself than to Kambujya. “How would you like to proceed from here. If you’d like you may come with me to Xoskea where I can introduce you to a few potential partners. Or if that won’t work for you and you are will to trust my judgement I can find a willing partner and send her to meet you in your homeland.”

Kambujya leaned back in his chair and stayed silent for a few seconds before finally replying: “Personally I would take your first offer. But for the sake of formality I must write to my mother and seek her official authorization to take this trip.” He paused again. “Though I wouldn’t worry much about it, there’s a war going on back home and Empress knows that as a soldier I’m an excellent waste of space.”

“I’ll be heading back to Xoskea tomorrow.” Karissa leaned forward slightly. “Of course you are free to come visit at a later date.”

“Then I will send a twitter as soon as possible.” Kambujya replied as he stood up. “My own seal ought to be enough to catch my mother’s attention and prompt her immediate reply.” He then turned and gestured to Yazen. “As for me, I’ve decided to stay here in the capital for some more time. Probably until Mardunyia and the rest return from the Imperial Forest.” He turned back towards Karissa and bowed. “It has been a pleasure and a honor Your Grace. Now, if you do not have anymore need of me I must take my leave.”

“If you have need to contact me after I’ve left speak to Cressida or, should she not be available, my niece Euphemia.” Karissa gave him a bow of her own before saying “I look forward to seeing you again soon.”

“The feeling is mutual.” Kambujya replied with another bow before walking out of the room through the door held open by Yazen. The Orc followed his master and gave a short bow and a grunt to Karissa before slamming the door shut.

"That went extremely well Yazen." Kambujya said to his slave as they walked away. "Don't you think so? I've ought to thank the Celestial Court for that." The Shahzada stopped in the middle of the corridor and turned towards his slave. "We must prepare a sacrifice to Burkhemir to show my gratitude for this match."

"Very well master." Yazen replied in a deadpan tone. "What do you intend to sacrifice?"

"Let's head to the market and buy perfume, some jewels and a silk bag to bury them." Kambujya commanded. "We shall do so as soon as I send a twitter to my mother."


Hidden 4 yrs ago Post by Goldeagle1221
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The Imperial Forest -- Day 5


Das slowly pulled the knife out of Zach’s side with expert hands and the sharp eyes of a surgeon, making it seem almost as if he has been in this situation one too many times. As the blade clattered to the floor Das studied the bloody wound. With a scrunch of his nose, as if offended by a smell, he slowly brought a flaming hand up to the open puncture, melting the wound closed. As he worked, Sir Gennisberg covered in mail and shining plate fiddled with the discarded gun, the look of a confused child on his face as he bit his tongue and tried to figure it out.

“So,” Das mentioned idly as he continued to burn this man’s flesh shut, “how did a dead man stab you anyways?”

Zach hissed as Das pulled out the knife then said “Well he wasn’t dead when he stabbed me.” Zach then leaned himself up against the edge of the carriage and said “Thanks for the help Das.”

“That makes sense” Nicia said as she slithered up, her tone neutral. “How exactly did you manage to kill… Flint was it? While having been stabbed yourself?”

“With the same knife,” Josephine interjected as she climbed through the entrance to the carriage, her hands on her hips in suspicion. Being the only one who actually knew of Zach’s past as a brothel dealer, she knew he was shady as best, especially when compared to Flint Whiteshorn, one of the most pleasant men she had ever met.

“If I’m honest then I’m not even sure. After his eyes turned dark purple and the gatt went off. I kinda blacked out. I’m not one for violence exactly. I’m a resourceful business man, usually have guards when issues like this arise.” Zach said as he took a breathe from the pain.

“What in the good Graces is a gatt?” Josephine said incredulously, trying to make sense of Zach’s story.

“Hmmm… And how did this… gatt go off? Where did it go?” Nicia questioned.

“More importantly,” Das said suddenly as he picked up the rather modest knife and started going off of Josephine's vibe of suspicion, “How did you get multiple stab wounds into Flint’s back with precision and force if you were blacked out, and from the pooling of blood compared to your own bleeding, I’d say he took it a few more times than you ever did, and maybe even before.”

“Can I get some water I’m a little thirsty” Zach said with a dry mouth. “As for a gatt...well the way he explained it before he attacked, it’s like a crossbow but seems to do more damage close up and longer to reload. I’m not entirely sure how it’s done though as he apparently never shared his secret with anyone.” Zach then grabbed his side in pain from the knife wound. “As for the rest of your question as to where it went and how I fought as I said after the fight broke out I blacked out and only came too after I’d been stabbed and Flint was on me…” Zach said then looked to mephistopheles for a little help.

“No,” Sir Gennisberg said as he held an empty pot in one hand and the gatt in the other, “you can’t have any water, someone spilled it all over the place.”

Mephistopheles sipped his still warm tea as he reclined in a rough pillow, a sense of sophisticated amusement curled his lips at the sides of his porcelain cup. His pencil thin mustache seemed to twitch with glee as he simply shrugged, “I am the bearer of knowledge, sent to serve you on that note. If you want my help, I would suggest asking before throwing your neck out for the blade. Twenty three years might be shorter than imagined.”

"That must have been a terrifying experience for you” Nicia oozed sympathy as she placed a hand on Zach’s shoulder. She turned towards Gennisberg as she asked “Do we really have no water?”

Gennisberg tipped the pot upside down as if testing his own statement for falsity before nodding solemnly, “afraid so, at least not in the carriage, perhaps the baggage or canteen?”

“Sorry” She said as she turned back to Zach. “I believe you, really. I mean surely you wouldn’t lie to all of us, Princess Josephine included, right?” She flashed him a warm smile.

“What reason would I have to lie. I’m the one who’s been stabbed here...though could be worse I suppose, I could be Flint or one of those goblins out there.” Zach then looked her in the eyes and smiled showing nice shiny teeth.

“Yes, you could be” Nicia agreed. Her smile seemed to widen by a fraction. “So since you insist that you aren’t lying, you won’t mind if I cut something off every time we discover you lied to us, right? I mean since you aren’t lying you won’t have to experience the touch of a blade again, right?” She paused for a moment, leaning in slightly. “Is there anything you’d like to get off your chest now?”

Josephine scrunched her nose, “isn’t that a little…” She shrugged, “extreme?”

Mephistopheles laughed, “I rather like her spirit.” He took another sip of his cup and tossed it over his shoulder with a small crash. Das turned his head to the sound of the shattering porcelain momentarily before fixing his eyes on the lamia then back at Zach.

Zach smiled and said “While it is a little extreme I’ve heard worse things from my brothel. I will do that so long as every single one of my truths prove me correct you sit and talk with me?” Zach said then looking back up at where the sound shattered then to Mephistopheles then to Josephine with a nod and smile.

“See your Grace” Nicia said as she turned to look at Josephine. “He’s okay with it.”

Mephistopheles stepped over the dead body of Flint and tapped Josephine's shoulder. Without thinking the princess seemed to lean over as the invisible demon whispered into her ear. She made a face as if she was being tickled by his wisps of words. She suddenly shook her head and looked frustrated. She growled before stomping out of the carriage, yelling, “Escaen!”

While Josephine exited Das nudged Nicia, “go ahead.” The elf looked at Zach and he frowned, “I’ve seen my fair share of foul play, and this one doesn’t quite add up to you being innocent. If the princess finds you suspicious then I have all the more reason to.”

A slight fox like grin appeared on his mouth as he gestured with the bloodied knife, “being you know, the guy who yanked the murder weapon out of your side and all.”

“Is that knife the same one that brought an end to Flint?” Nicia asked. “Couldn’t it have a different blade?”

“As I said, I don’t exactly remember the fight. If I was to guess I’d assume there’d have been a second weapon. As I wouldn’t have stabbed myself…” Zach responded, then though shut the fuck up mephistopheles I’ll get out of this

Mephistopheles slapped his own face, “listen, this is terrible. I could’ve given you a better cover.”

“Obviously” Nicia agreed with Zach. “Well if there was a second weapon it shouldn’t be too hard to find. It’ll either be in the carriage or within throwing distance of it.”

Josephine barged back in right as Das and Sir Gennisberg started studied Flint’s wounds and comparing it to the knife. She held Escaen’s wrist, nearly dragging the man. She pointed at Zach, “Escaen, I’m pretty sure this shady and rather forward business man did away with good Mister Flint.” Her words spewed with frustration.

Escaen would have liked to say he was surprised, but the odd man Josephine had dragged along hadn’t rubbed him well from the beginning. With a raised eyebrow he questioned almost rhetorically, “Did he now?”

Taking a look around it was clear enough something about the situation didn’t add up, and in spite of the bull man’s appearance added to all the other strange occurrences so far, Escaen was skeptical of dead men rising to stab anyone. With a look to Zach he added, “I suppose we’ll find out easily enough. A man can only endure losing so many fingers after all.”

“Wait,” Das stopped as he shook his head, ”This knife was definitely used to kill Flint, and may I point out, there is a pool around Flint of his own blood and only a trickle from Zach. Flint was killed first, there is no doubt, and even if he wasn’t why would Zach throw away the knife he killed Flint with but keep the one Flint stabbed him with? This is ridiculous to even question the man.”

Nicia let out a soft sigh as she drew one of her kukris from where it rested on the back of her waist. While too small to be considered a sword, the blade was definitely quite large by knife standards. “Now what I can’t understand is why Flint would stab you here” She lightly poked Zach’s wound with her kurki, prompting a painful hiss from Zach. “anyways. I would have stabbed you here” She prodded him in the belly hard enough to draw blood. “Or maybe I’d try and slip it through your ribs” She prodded him in the upper chest “, the blade is thin enough to slip through quite easily. Now tell me Zach, how many times have you lied to me thus far?”

A loud thunderous bang erupted from the side of the room, shattering everyone's eardrums with a piercing tenure. The large leaden shrapnel that belched from the flaming gatt shot through the air and burst through Zach’s face in a bloody pop. Attention was turned to the confused Sir Gennisberg who dropped the smoking gun, “I swear I had no idea how that happened.”

“Looks like Good Mister Flint got his final say in the matter,” Das jested grimly as he wiped gore from his vest.

Nicia sighed as she wiped some of Zach from her face. “His death was too easy.”

Josephine who was still slightly shaking from the bang waved a dismissive hand, “let’s bury the bodies and clean the carriage we have a Quest to finish.”

With a curious glance at Gennisburg, Escaen replied, “Lets…”


Hidden 4 yrs ago Post by Goldeagle1221
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The Imperial Palace -- Night of the Seventh


Skyler lay in her bed, deciding against sleeping in Georges bed tonight as she huffed softly to herself, she was reading by candle light her red bound book and calming herself with the soft words and pictures that comforted her in dark times. ‘What was happening in there, why didn't George stick up for me..’ Skyler thought angrily as she turned a page.

The door opened softly, and what guards that were posted in Skylers room quickly and silently emptied out as George stepped in. There were circles around his eyes and his broad shoulders were holding his cape in a way to hinted at exhaustion. He slowly walked in, quietly observing Skyler.

Skyler ignored the man, pretending to not have noticed him as she continued to read her book. The prince however continued to walk towards her and sat silently on her bed, his eye brows were wrinkled in thought above stoic grey eyes that flickered with the candle flames. He slowly reached out and lightly tapped her hand.

Skyler looked up from her book, anger that once flared in her eyes soon extinguished as she caught the man's look. She closed the book and placed it on the small night stand. “Dear are you ok?” Skyler asked concerned .

A slight sigh escaped George’s nostrils but instead of answering he slipped his hands around her and pulled her from her spot and into a hug. Skyler squeaked in surprise as the man brought her close, she was unsure what to say, and so instead placed her head gently on the man's shoulder.

George’s grip tightened around her warm figure and he leaned into his own hug, pressing her against him as his lids slowly slid over his still stoic eyes. The soft buzzing of thought behind his eyes and hidden in his mind came to a stop as his heart beat relaxed and he slowly started to fall to the side, taking Skyler with him onto the bed in his warm hug.

Skyler was unsure of what to do, of what to say. Has she done this? No. It must be stress, he works so hard. “I will try harder” She whispered softly “You shouldn't do this to yourself” Skyler stroked the back of George's head softly attempting to help him calm down and relax.

George opened his eyes as slits and stared at Skyler. Her words sounded as if they were under water in his ears, the sheer force of his work load muffling his mind. He lifted a large hand from her back and placed it on her cheek silently. He softly caressed her cheek as he closed his eyes once again, giving up on any attempt of conversation on his part. Skyler decided it would be best to talk about this another time, and so made herself comfortable beside the man and closed her eyes, drifting off to sleep with relative ease.

Later that night

Under the dim pale light of the moon George rode his just as white stallion on an all too familiar dirt path through the woods of the countryside. The moonlight reflected off his drawn sword as he galloped expertly through the terrain, he and his horse knowing it near perfectly. The flat unlighted leaves slapped against him and brushed his flowing cape as he rode, cutting any stray branches away with swipes from his sword.

The scent of rain swelled the atmosphere as he flung himself through the already dampening brush and boughs. His nostrils flared and a determined look possessed his eager eyes as with a leap from his horse he bounded straight over a large bush. The sharp hooves of his animal landed deep into the grass covered soil of a pale glade that so normally sang with birds and was colored with flowers.

His eyes narrowed at the sight of a gang of hip height pigguts huddling over an indistinct figure. Sickening slurping sounds and wet munching echoed from their toothy snouts. George’s nose protested with a snort as it was stung with a horrid stench. He kicked his horse's flanks and leveled his blade. The horse started it’s charge and the pigguts spun in terror to the familiar figure charging down the glade, silhouetted by the moon's soft glow and blanketed in a forming moist mist.

Without time to react with their crude tools of torture and killing, the tiny cannibals were at the mercy of the heft swing of George’s blade. The sharp blade easily lobbed one of the piggut’s heads clean off and into a spewing arch of blood.

The prince slid from his horse and raised his sword to meet and glance away the oncoming blows from the small gang. With ferocity in his stance and swings George began to carve away at their ranks, slashing limbs and stabbing through the leathery skin of the creatures with great precision and gut wrenching rips.

Among the blackness of the night, only his sword flashed by the pale moonlight. It danced with skill and grace, despite the amount of foes he faced. As he backed up from a mighty swing that had launched a bloodied enemy into a thick oak tree with an audible crunch, he felt something press against his back.
He spun on his heel, sword spinning to attack. He paused as he blinked, face to face with the ghostly form of his uncle in full battle dress, and blood on a otherworldly sword. The pigguts squealed as more of their numbers arrived, and with a mutual nod, the two turned back to back, spinning and flashing their blades of steel and ghost as they carved their way through the hog like flesh with power and finesse.

George caught a piggut in mid jump with a quick stab, sliding the bristle haired beast down the long blade of his sword. Without clearing his blade George continued to swing at another monster who had leapt from the side, sending the body of the first flying to collide with a second piggut. Georges blade bite and cleaved it’s way through the piggut while the second who had been hit with the body of the stabbed was knocked back and impaled on Caleb’s own ethereal blade.

Under the moon, and in the light drizzle of rain, the two fought. Soon there were no enemies left to stand against the pair, and their feet were soaked with a mixture of rainwater and crimson blood. The cannibals, the criminals of the wood had been defeated. Upon this realization, Caleb seemed to disappear without mention and George ran to fetch his stallion.

As he grabbed the reigns of his horse, he heard a soft gurgle from the amorphous pile the pigguts had been chewing on so greedily. With his sword still drawn he walked over. Under the chewed and cut body of a thick man he saw the squirm of a living child. He threw the corpse off the little girl and sheathed his sword.

There was soft sobbing coming from the shocked girl, and George lifted her up from the mud and gore of what was most likely her father. He brushed a small clump of blood from her innocent cheek, merely smudging it with his own bloodied hands. She was small and dirty, like an angel found in the dirt, and her chin wobbled with fear.

“Where does your mother live,” George said in a soft comforting tone, “let’s bring you to her.”

The little girl nodded a dirt covered head of blonde hair, and George started towards his horse. The little girl clung tightly to her savior and George patted her back reassuringly.

“You’re safe now.”



DOUBLE POST DUE TO SOLA BEING A LITTLE >.>
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The Imperial Palace -- Day 8


A blade shimmered from the morning sun. Skyler twirled the sharp instrument expertly in her right hand. Her face relaxing into a smile as the small knife flowed as if it where an extension of her body. She looked onto the table, her victim lay motionless, a gnarled stump where its head once sat. Skyler walked around the carcass, her blade dancing as she continued to flick it around her thumb. As she moved closer, her arms rested to the side. Suddenly a searing pain shot through her left arm causing her to yell out in shock. She stumbled, dropping the knife and flipping the chopping board, the fish she had just been preparing fell to the floor. Skyler looked to the burn, then to the offending pan that had done the damage “Well isnt that just perfect” She remarked sarcastically, the burn had only been for a moment, but it could be seen that it had struck in the same place her other “cooking accident” had occurred.

Skyler glance to the floor, huffing angrily at the now ruined fish. “Cooking isn't for me, who even needs it! Animals don't cook anything and they do fine!” She said to herself, forgetting the trio of guards that would follow her around. She sighed audibly and decided she needed to relieve some stress, she began to walk to the gardens, thinking that there would be something for her to punch there.

Before long her rather pleasant walk ended up with her discovery of a lay out of hay and wicker archery targets. Without as much as a glance to the three following guards she decided to get to work on her new still victims.

After a few minutes attacking hay bale targets, removing the head of one of them, Skyler looked over to the three guards. She began to walk over, hatching an idea as she did so. She breathed heavily as she asked one of the men “I want you to hit me”

The guard shook a helmeted head silently, only offering the soft scrapes of his metal face guard scratching a neck piece.

“Why not? I will dodge it, I just need something to swing my way” She explained, smiling softly.

The guard stood still, the feeling of a glare emitting from the hemet, enforcing his adamant decision.

“Please?” She asked, moving a step closer.

“Miss Helton, please,” the guard waved his palms as if dismissing her approach.

“But why?” She asked looking to the other two guards “What about you guys?”

The other two looked at each other before walking to either side of Skyler while the first stood in front. A mumbled voice emitted from one of the helmets, “please continue with your day.”

“This is my day, it's standing around with you assholes looking at me all day” She groaned angrily “And then I ask for one little favour, which may I add isnt even something like ‘Let me leave’ or ‘stop staring at me when I change’ its something that George hasn't even said you can't do for me.” She muttered, almost to herself.

“We are not going to hit you, or swing at you,” the guard said sternly. He looked to the other two and one of them nodded.

“Why?” She repeated.

As the final guard finalized a thought he ignored Skyler’s question, “how about a quintain?”

“Oh?” Skyler stood back questioningly “And how would we do that?” She asked.

“We install one here,” the guard said plainly.

“Install one here? Wouldn't it require weapons, and an opponent?” She asked

“It’s a pole that spins a cross beam when you strike it, you can just use the plain fist if you desire such physical exercise. Of course it would take a while to install and must be authorized by the General to place in his gardens,” the guard stated crossing his arms, a sense of agitation could be heard in his tone, as if he was annoyed having to be pulled into a conversation with his prisoner of sorts.

Skyler rolled her eyes “Wow, you reeeeeally sold that to me” she sarcastically remarked, crumpling to the grass to lie on her back. She sighed softly as the guards stood over her. “You guys are great” She huffed closing her eyes.

The guards took a few steps back and resumed their posts, expecting little more out of the conversation.

With the guards a few feet away, Skyler took this lull in action, to turn onto her front, and jump up onto her feet. From this crouched position she pushed off of her back foot and began to bolt forward, away from the watching guards.

One of the guards quickly pulled a blunt square tipped birding arrow out of a special quiver, but one of the other guards shook his head. The three instead opting to simply run after her. She was a fast woman, but the guards luckily had the advantage of not only being athletic veteran soldiers, but knowing the dips and turns of the thick gardens.

The chase ensued, but instead of tackling the woman down or even trying to stop her, the guards all together figured it would be pointless, considering the garden was walled in completely by the palace itself, turning the jolt of freedom into a guarded jog around the trees. So the three sprinted behind her, waiting for the high paced jog to end.

As Skyler soon realised the hunt had turned into little more than babysitting she once again collapsed to the grassy carpet of the gardens, breathing heavily and wiping sweat from her brow.

The guards took post around the collapsed Skyler as if nothing had occurred. One of the guards however quickly offered the woman a small leather canteen of water in silence.

Skyler snatched the satchel and lobbed it several metres in front of her, scowling angrily at the metal plating that covered the men's faces. “You guys suck, I could have done anything whilst you guys were chasing me” She continued to breath rapidly.

Behind the expressionless metal the guard looked over to his discarded canteen and presumably frowned before returning to his post.

“What are you going to do, Hit me? Oh wait you won't because you all suck an..” Her grumbling became inaudible as she smushed her face into the dirt, laying on her chest and bunching her hands into fist, pulling at the grass beneath her.

A small rustle in the bushes caught the guards attention for a split second, dividing it between Skyler and the bush. The guards canteen appeared first, followed by a wrinkled hand and then the formal and upright body of Reginald. With his nose turned up in his usual manner he stoically returned the water vessel to the guard who had lost it. The guard nodded his thanks before tying the canteen to his belt.

Reginald turned on his heel after giving a small folded paper to one of the guards, assumingly evidence to why he was in the gardens. His old pale face looked down at Skyler for a moment. He spoke in the monotone of an old servant, “Miss Skyler Helton, I presume?”

Skyler looked up from her angry face mashing, dirt had smudged onto her forehead and cheeks “Errrm… hello?” She answered blushing softly as she slowly sat up. “I was just….” She left the clarification hang as she couldn't think of a decent explanation.

Reginald seemed unconcerned about the scenario as he continued in his upright manner, “Do you require a pillow, perhaps a facecloth?”

“Ermm, no im fine.. are you perhaps Reginald? By any chance? “ Skyler asked, George had mentioned the older man in passing a few times.

“At your service, Miss Helton,” Reginald gave a bow of his balding head.

“I think if you asked these gentleman, you would know that isn't necessary..” Skyler gave the guards a glare. “You know of me from..?” She asked

“Of course, Miss Helton, how presumptuous of me,” Reginald apologized, “I am aware of all the guests in the palace, and signed by employment and duty to serve each as wished.”

“Well if you want to help you could tell these guys to leave me alone for five minutes” Skyler muttered to herself as she stood up, her breathing now having returned to normal.

“I regret to inform you that not all decisions of such magnitude can be made by myself,” Reginald answered promptly, “but if you wish to relax for a few minutes, I can arrange a tea room for you.”

“errm well sure.. I guess… I don't have anything else planned…” Skyler replied, unsure of what to really do in such a situation.

“You are free to decline, if you so chose,” Reginald almost seemed to read Skyler's mind from her unsurities.

“No its fine, I just don't know what we would talk about” Skyler retorted “A lot of my interests are frowned upon inside the palace after all..” she added

“You don’t have to speak with me, I am but a servant,” Reginald said as he slowly started to walk, then stopping to wait for his guest, making sure to keep polite eye contact, “but I am endowed with the ability to listen to whatever you feel you wish to say, Miss Helton.”

“Well I wouldn't mind talking to you, It is a habit I seem to indulge in quite frequently, you can ask the guards and I'm sure they would have plenty to say about my want of conversation sometimes” Skyler began to follow the older gentleman “I must ask however, if Prince George has ever mentioned me to you?” Skyler asked.

“I would be a liar should I refuse the question,” Reginald said as he walked upright through the gardens with the three guards trailing behind. A certain level of respect was shown towards the older butler and the three chose a larger distance from the walking pair as to give them at least the illusion of privacy from their guard duty. The thicker canopies of the central gardens pocked Reginald's face with sunlight as he walked. Reginald finished his sentence, “Indeed he has.”

“Would it be unfair to ask what he had said about me?” Skyler asked, doubting the question would be answered.

“Only good things, I assure you,” Reginald tipped his head.

“Well I can only ask him for that” Skyler smiled softly “George can be… difficult at times…” She added, stroking the mark on her arm that the pan had left.

“Something bothering you, Miss Helton?” Reginald asked as the pair exited the shade of the garden trees and found the bright light of the open. The door to the palace was in sight at the far end of a grassy opening dotted with flowers of many colors.

“Well… I just worry about George.. he seems stressed, he wants to do everything all at once and he just can't handle it. It can't be good for him” Skyler explained attempting to not sound too caring as it was still supposed to be a secret they were together. Despite this, Skyler had a feeling that Reginald may know more than he seems to let on.

“He does indeed have great tasks in front of him,” Reginald opened the door that spilled out into the hallways and bowed for Skyler to walk through.

Skyler did so, walking ahead “I just worry, I wish I could help him… and when he gives me something to do its so he can go off drinking with some other woman, that harlot I should…” Skyler sighed. “Sorry” She muttered, remembering the company she was in.

Reginald continued the walk as he listened in silence, “I am sorry for your stress, Miss Helton. Please, no need to ask for forgiveness.”

After moment Reginald opened another door in the hall way revealing a well kept and clean room with a large window overlooking the same garden they were just in. The glowing sun lit the room almost indirectly, giving it a cool but bright feel. A ring of large chairs surrounded a large coffee table and in the corner of the room sat a small cage for fire under a burner.

“Would you care for a seat and some tea, Miss Helton?”

“That would be lovely” Skyler smiled, seating herself. “I just don't want the Prince to be… flaunting himself with these women… they aren't good for him. What he needs is a respectable woman, who knows what the man needs and how to treat him.” Skyler remarked.

Reginald started to chip at a small flint and steel device as he knelt over a small tinder in the oven. As soon as it started to light he closed the vented door and placed a white kettle on top of the burner. He turned to face Skyler and nodded, “you seem to have…”

He paused and looked over to the three guards. The three seemed to understand the stare as one announced loudly, “we are setting up post behind the door, Reginald will keep an eye on you from the inside.”

As the guards took place outside the door Reginald continued, “you seem to have quite the fascination over the Prince's personal agenda, Miss Helton.”

“Well I… errm… I….” Skyler stopped talking to think then smiled “As a political figure It is only natural to want to know the ins and outs of the imperial family” She explained.

“Of course, Miss Helton, how assumptious of me,” Reginald stated as he moved the kettle slightly to a warmer spot on the slowly heating burner.

“Well, it is fine.. You do not need to apologise for everything you say, I am not any higher than you in this room. You see It is not like I am here on my own accord.” Skyler paused to think if she should be telling the man this, but at this point it seemed pointless to attempt to hide it “You should just strike my name of that guest list of yours..”

“Do you plan your departure?” Reginald questioned as he tended to pouring the hot water into a small wide brimmed cup.

“I can not, don't you understand, Those men do not follow me for fun..” Skyler rubbed her temples, relaxing with a sigh. “Its making me crazy!” She snapped.

“Perhaps you need to talk with Prince George on alleviating the situation,” Reginald mentioned as he slowly handed Skyler a small dish that held her cup of tea, “he is very reasonable, especially to those he thinks highly of.”

“He is also stubborn when it comes to his beliefs..” She remarked, taking the tea and nodding a thanks. “I doubt I can get him to give up on the guards.”

“We are all stubborn in our beliefs, are we not,” Reginald offered, “if I may be so bold, perhaps finding a middle ground or medium would help lessen the stress of the situation.”

“Such as?” Skyler asked, wondering if the tea was supposed to be drank without milk, a strange custom to the Gattannian.

“I suppose you would have to debate that with Prince George,” Reginald paused, “but perhaps suggest a more delicate procedure than three armed guards.”

“I could always, not be imprisoned… that would be nice..” She remarked, sipping at the black tea and hiding her disgust behind a forced smile.

The well trained eye of the old servant didn’t fail when he asked, “cream?” He started towards a tray kept under a shelf and filled with ice, as if this room was expected to be visited by the two before they even got there. Reginald started to answer as he worked on unscrewing a tiny glass bottle of milk, “only the Emperor and the Prince can suggest that, I am sorry, Miss Helton.”

“Well I suppose I already knew that… Do you know where Wilhelm is now?” She asked placing her tea in front of the servant.

Reginald slowly tipped the bottle of milk into the tea before stirring it with a small metallic spoon, “I believe he is in the throne room trying to construct himself a ‘room of kittens’ as he put it. A noble albeit fluffy endeavor.”

Skyler smiled at the image “Do you know if Sophia would be with him?” She asked, wondering if she could hit two birds with one stone.

“I can only assume, Miss Helton,” Reginald answered.

She nodded, sipping at her tea and smiling softly.”This is nice, I feel like I can relax without worrying about doing something ‘wrong’... it is a shame George isnt here to enjoy this with me… i suppose tonight we…” She stopped suddenly and instead gulped down some tea.

“If I may suggest,” Reginald said in his monotone, “a face cloth before meeting with the Imperial Family.” He tilted his head as to remind her of her previous escapade.

“Good idea..” Skyler sipped at her tea to hide her embarrassment.

From under the tray Reginald pulled out a drawer of fresh folded cloths. He procured a small dyed purple one and handed it to Skyler.

The Priestess took the cloth and rubbed away the dried dirt off her face, she then rubbed at her hands and finally gave the servant back the towel. She finished her tea and stood up gracefully. “Thankyou for the tea” She chimed, nodding her head slightly as she moved towards the door.

“Anytime, Miss Helton,” Reginald said as he began to walk towards the oven to tend to it. As Skyler started to open the door he continued with one last comment, “I would be easy when you talk to the Emperor, he is in one of his moods. I would then also advise against mentioning your conundrum to him, as I’m sure Prince George wouldn’t find it too appeasing. Words of an old butler I suppose, excuse my forwardness, Miss Helton.”

Skyler nodded with a smile and was quickly out of the door, making her way to the throne room.





Hidden 4 yrs ago Post by Afina
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To Sleep Perchance To Dream


Sleep…. A supposed restful vacation from the days turmoils, especially when someone is trapped in a cage of their own making, that space of time where dreams are supposed to lift us through the veil of reality to a place of peace and reflection. Many things in life do not happen as we wish and such was the dreams of Regalia as of late. Slowly each evening came and she sought solace from the life around her, from the walls of the garrison and the constant watch of the guard. Each night she was denied as she wandered into those dark places of the mind. They had come and gone over the past ten years but ever since her false arrest for treason they had grown more real; sights and sounds becoming as if she was hearing them and seeing them for herself, awake. Feelings, touch; it was all so real that when she awoke each morning it was as if she had been ripped through the walls of life and death. It was all too much now, so overwhelming that she didn’t think she could cope another evening, fighting the rest she desperately needed each night but always succumbing to it in the end; tonight another dream for Regalia.

The waters surface, so calm that it looked like glass that had been blown for ships to glide upon rather than through. So far out the land was gone behind the horizon, hidden behind the curve of the world. Gusts of winds picking up and there she stood, ebony locks whipping in the air currents that surround her. A hand coming to her face as she gazed around her, lost and confused, trying to push the strands from her features; nothing could be seen in any direction that she looked. Just barren sea lay before her. Taking a step, pushing her foot forward carefully as she stood on the still water; feet refusing to go below the surface another step was taken and then another and another. Always walking to where she knew not but she walked. Thirst would come and it could not be quenched for all that know the sea know not to take part of her illusion of quench. It would only make it much worse. So she walked, parched and ragged, she walked.

“Regalia,” a voice would whisper. Did she know the voice? She couldn’t be sure for it was caught on the wind. The voice danced around her and it called to her.

“Regalia.”

“Stop!” she would scream. She wanted the voice to stop. It only ever said her name as she kept moving. The walk not breaking to a sprint, trying to place herself further from it but it never faded; only growing stronger with each fall of foot. Turning she would run away but the voice still followed. “Keep moving Regalia, keep running,” she would whisper to herself but she could not hear herself. Her voice being lost as it rolled over her tongue, the winds catching it and calling back to her.

“Regalia.”

“Please stop!” she finally screamed as hands came to her head to cover her ears. “Silence!” she screamed as she stood frozen in place. Then it happened. Silence. Hands would lower and she would look around, the voice was gone. Heart pounding in her chest as her head turned this way and that, wide eyed. As quickly as it came it left. Sighing relief she looked down and noticed a tiny imperfection in the once glass like surface. Paralyzed in her place, she could not move. She tried to run but fleet of foot was but now foot of stone. The winds carried on it a new sound, the sound of the crack of ice and Regalia plunged into the waters below. A cry of help trying to come from lips but it was too late, one could not cry with frigid waters surrounding her, flooding her lungs; causing the bitter sweet burn as she fought for surface.

“Kick Regalia, kick!” the voice would say, the vibrations of the water pulling the voice back to her ears. The voice once caught on the wind that frightened her so now was her solace. Urging her one to fight to live and she did. Each legs moving, each arm reaching as she followed the light above her, ever up; the cold reaching her bones, making each movement painful; each stroke excruciating. She wanted to stop, to give into icy death but the voice kept calling to her. The further she swam the stronger the voice became. Pushing her ever onward, giving her strength she thought long gone.

Then the crash came. Hands meeting ice, there was no way out. The whole in which she had plunged was gone, sealed over. Fists beating against the ice as air left her lungs with each strike of her fist. There was nothing she could do. She tried to call out. But why? To what? To who? The voice? The voice was just a voice, just a call on the winds. A figment of her imagination. Slower and slower the fight to free herself from the watery grave became. Weary palms pressed to the ice in one last desperate attempt but it was all for naught. The ice did not budge. And she fell, slowly descending downward. There was nothing more she could do.

Another crash, or was is a slice? She didn’t know, she didn’t care, she didn’t look, she didn’t see. She didn’t see as the ice was broken, as it was pushed away and as a hand descended down and wrapped around her wrist before pulling her to the surface. Feeling arms wrap around her as she was cradled against a strong form, warm and comforting.

“Regalia?” the figure spoke, the voice from beneath the ice spoke and now she could feel it. Warm breath falling over her frozen features. Eyes drifting open as her fingers clung to the figure, head tilting back. “Regalia…” the voice whispered.

“Tseng?” Regalia whispered as her eyes fell on him. Her heart racing to see him again, she thought he gone, lost to the waves below. He smiled lovingly at her as he pulled her closer. Encircling her form in his arms and holding her tight. He leaned down, his lips but a feathers touch away.

“Wake up Regalia,” he would whisper.

And she would, before she could taste him, she would wake from the dream again. Gasping for air, shaking from cold and looking around frantically as she searched for him. Her fingers only found rough sheets and her eyes only saw rougher walls. She was still in her gilded cage.
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Hidden 4 yrs ago 4 yrs ago Post by Goldeagle1221
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The Purple Road (The Imperial Forest) -- Day 8


After a few grueling days along the precarious purple road, the announced and labeled safest path along side the Imperial forest the party of heroes were nearing one of the coveted Imperial Checkpoints. Stuck between the Achians and the forest the road squirmed through the dangers of both, giving merchants and pilgrims alike the most protection near and in the forest they could ever hope to get, and even then Imperial checkpoints were posted along it to ensure the terrible beasts of the forest didn’t spill in on the unsuspecting travelers. Several incursions of nasty and horrible creatures had slowed the way, but with the support of Freg, the group had finally arrived at the last checkpoint before they turned their backs to the safety of the road and plunged into the deeps of the Imperial Forest.

The checkpoint wasn’t too grand, but with the arrival of the Princess, the garrisoned troops and stationed employees of the small fort had done their best to fluff it as much as they could for the fanciful tastes of Josephine. The princess had found herself sitting in the nicest chair available in the middle of the courtyard, surrounded by tall wooden walls and platforms, as well as the stone keep of the garrison. Beyond the walls were the endless shadow draped trees of the forest on all sides save for the parting of the thick trees for the road to cut through. Tents and tiny straw huts were pitched and dotted around the spacious courtyard, as the homes of the wayward locals, mostly Tagschlict elves sworn to a life of religion or the lone Kafshe looking to escape civilization.

It was definitely a unique scene for the princess and gave a small feeling of helplessness, like they were just ignorant ants among a greater scheme, animals in the middle of the food chain. She did not let such thoughts get to her however, and instead waiting patiently on her chair.

She had been waiting alone, and for the first time in days, free from pants and back into the familiar comfort of a simple blue dress that fell to shoed feet, rather than the binding boots she had been forced to wear. A content smile seemed stuck on her red lips as she hummed softly to herself, thankful for once being able to relax and pretend she wasn’t on a dangerous quest into the fringes of civilization. The others had split up along the fort to do their own thing, but she, despite her relaxed appearance, had some business to take care of, and luckily she could do that business in a dress.




Hidden 4 yrs ago Post by solamelike
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The Imperial Checkpoint -- Day 8


What sun the tree’s did allow to spear through the thick leaves and onto the fort, Das avoided, feeling that the cool shade of the trees was much better and so he took his place outside the walls rather than inside. His back was flat against the rough wooden exterior and his ears where filled with the soft trill of birds and hum of insects. The forest was alive with harmonious songs of leaves brushing the wind and animals chattering to one another. If it wasn’t for the deadly encounters and the forest always trying to kill the group of heroes, Das figured it would be an alright place to relax.

He sat with his hands between his knees twiddling his grey thumbs this way and that, humming an old song to himself as he tried to enjoy the blissful sounds of the dangerous forest. The soldiers had warned him of beasts in the area that could hunt him down outside the walls, but Das figured there was nothing a ball of fire couldn’t fix should the situation call for it. No, his stomach was full, and he himself was content, nothing was going to ruin his relaxation time.



The elf’s eyebrows suddenly perked as one of the bushes lining the road gave birth to a smaller more slender bundle of dirt and shrub. Another one of the forest’s disgusting tricks, Das figured as he slowly rose to his feet, preparing himself should the bush of great stench and mud decide to throw it’s twiggy and rather disproportionate appendages into combat with him.

The mound of dirt and foliage moved elegantly, creating a slightly confusing sight. The mound rose up, reaching a few feet as if to look Das in the eyes. A part that could possibly be recognised as a head moved, and two brown eyes opened from deep within the dirt.

“Got any food?” The creature said, the voice feminine in tone.

Das raised a fist and growled, “Das the elf is not on the menu you bushy bastard.” With a confident leap the Kafshe dove at the monstrosity, eager to tackle his enemy to the ground. With a breathtaking force, his chest and shoulder collided into the figure with a wet slap, sending mud flying along with the now connected pair. Loose dirt kicked up from the impact as the two landed on the road outside the walls. Das quickly straddled the bush so that his thighs pinned the beast to the ground, while keeping his torso and arms free to defend himself.

He squinted his flickering amber eyes as he noticed the powerful smack had launched a cake of mud from the face of the creature, revealing instead, an extremely dirty woman. Das narrowed his eyes even more, he growled again, “Das the elf is on the menu.”

The woman smiled, the air in her lungs quickly returning. “Well, no-one has ever been this forward with me, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't into it” She purred, attempting to wriggle her arms free of the man's powerful thighs.

“How about we talk about this over a glass of water, perhaps a bucket?” Das gave a vulpine smile; if this was a clever forest trick, it wasn’t half bad.

The woman laughed, freeing more dirt from her head and revealing her pointed elf ears. “Talk? What are you a woman?” She continued to laugh, slowly creeping her arm out from her side.

“Those are wrestling words, lady,” Das’ smile seemed plastered onto his face With a quick amber glance he recognized her ears and he reconsidered; alright, not a quarter bad.

With a giggle the woman’s arm was free. With this newly freed limb the woman smashed an open palm against her holders chin. “I doubt you want to just wrestle” She said teasingly, smushing the man's face with her dirty hand.

Das’ head snapped back at the blow, sending a sharp pain along the back of his neck and down his spine. He instinctively reached out in a wild swing to capture her wrist. His grip slapped around her wrist. A spout of disappointment huffed from his lips as he stared back down at the elven woman, his amber eyes now dancing like flames.

He shook his head and closed his eyes, “more of a boxer, I see.”

“I hit stuff until I am satisfied with the result, I just don't see you as a threat right now, and so I have no need to stop you from grabbing me.” The female elf cracked her neck. “You will give my arm back soon, and then I will hit you again, or maybe not. Im hungry. Didnt you say you had some food?” The woman seemed to be speaking her mind almost as immediately as thoughts popped into her head.

“Sounds complicated,” Das said thoughtfully, “well, I’m bored.” He jumped to his feet and took another look at the elven woman squashed under piles of dirt and leaves, his own butt print on where her stomach would be.

The woman hopped back onto her feet. “So I presume you came with the others? Sounds like you have walked for quite some time. “ The elf began to remove the larger clumps of dirt and leaves from her body, soon revealing her slender form, seemingly stained with the grit of the forest. “They don't like me getting mud in the base” She explained “And I don't want them to throw water at me again…” She added. Despite her best efforts, the elf was still completely covered in a layer of muck and grass stains, not an inch of skin could be seen on her body. “I’m walking back, I need some food. Maybe a sandwich… or a roast....or both…” The elf pondered.

Das lifted his palms as if slowing the conversation down physically, eager to get closure with the talking bush lady, “speaking of going, and throwing water at people--” he paused,” and coming: have we decided that we are not having sex?”

“My mother always told me, don’t fuck on an empty stomach” The elf began to walk away, towards the entrance of the checkpoint.

“Hell of a woman, I’m sure,” Das remarked as he decided to follow, “perhaps lunch is in order then.”

“Sounds like a great plan, I’m surprised you could think of such an amazing revelation.” The elf girl began to walk backwards, facing the following man.

“Please, please,” Das said as he flashed his fox’s smile, “your compliments are too much.”

The woman rolled her eyes as she turned back around, walking ahead of the man as they began the quest for lunch.




Hidden 4 yrs ago Post by Drunken Conquistador
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The Imperial Checkpoint -- Day 8


Mardunyia walked uneasily through the halls of the small keep. The ambush and the subsequent confusion have set him ill at ease. Already their little group had lost not one but two members, though to be honest he had counted the pimp as dead the moment they rode out of the capital. What were they thinking anyway? Bringing the princess was already a stupid risk since all she could do was cower behind someone. But at least she had an excuse to be here.

The brothel owner on the other hand, what was his deal? Kill Flint? Gather information for a third group? Mardunyia thought that the latter was more probable but it didn’t matter anymore. Besides, he still wanted to talk with the Bull Man, and maybe talk some sense into his fellows and send the princess back home before she killed someone or herself with her complete lack of fighting skills. There was still a lot to do. But even with the small tinge of regret for coming he would not give up. He was the Champion of Sughben and he would return covered in glory and shut all those who dared to imply that he was too old for the job!

Mardunyia was so busy with his internal musing that he didn’t even notice the elf on his path. The elf in question was engrossed in a book, the spine reading “The Lusty Lamia and the Antics of Emperor Frederick”, and inevitably the two bumped into each other, the elf leaving a large trail of wet mud against the man's front. The woman’s book fell and she sighed angrily “Look what you did!” She complained, pointing at the book.

Mardunyia looked at his dirty armor and at the elf and then back at his armor, finally understanding what had happened. He looked contemptuously at the pile of crap and dirty in elf form that stood in front of him before schooling his features into a pleasant smile, after all it could be useful to pass a good first impression to who knows what was this thing:

“I’m sorry. But you’re not exactly blameless in all this aren’t you?” He finished with a low chuckle.
“What do you mean? I was walking along and you purposefully tackled me to the floor in an attempt to cover yourself in my grade A dirt!” She huffed, bending down and retrieving her book, its pages stained with many uses with dirty hands.

Mardunyia took a deep breath and forced himself to maintain his friendly expression, either this elf was insane or a Kafshe. But then again, as far as he was concerned the two were the same thing,

“I’m sorry but I did not see you.” He replied with a small smile. “Just like you didn’t see me coming.”

“You owe me” The elf added “What is your name, armoured fellow” She tucked the book under her arm as she began her questioning.

“I am Mardunyia, son of Peroz of the House of Karem. And you are?”

“That is not important, you owe me, what do you have on you?” The woman asked bluntly, itching at her back. Crusty dirt and leaves fell to the floor as she did so.

“Well, if we’re going along this route…” Mardunyia smiled as he stepped closer to the elf, trying to impose himself with his size. “You also owe me because you smeared dirt on my armor.”

The elf looked up to the man “You stole my dirt, I could easily say you smeared your armour on my dirt!” She defended. “Now if you like I could take the armour off your hands…” She trailed off at this last thought.

Mardunyia laughed at the outlandish proposal: “I don’t think you can convince me to do that elf. But you’re free to take your dirt back.” He finished gesturing to his armor.

“Well it's ruined now” She huffed “You owe me! You specifically said ‘Yes, amazing elf lady, I owe you big time, maybe I will give you my armour or something else of value’” She deepened her voice, attempting to copy Mardunyia’s tone.

Mardunyia laughed again. This damned elf was getting on his nerves but he had to admit that she was kinda funny in a retarded/insane sort of way:

“I think you need to have your ears checked.” He said as he tugged on her left ear with his gauntleted hand. “Or maybe your head as a whole.” He then poked her in the forehead.

She looked at the man angrily “You are just beating around the bush here. Give me what I deserve for the inconvenience. Or else. “The woman stood a step back with the latest threat, shaking her arms to loosen them up.

“I’m not giving you my armor elf. Nor anything else until you tell me your name at least.” Mardunyia replied as he stepped back and scrutinized her stance.

“Why would I want your armour, it's filthy!” She teased “As for my name, I don't know it. Forgot it years ago. Call me whatever. Thats what everyone else does.” The elf stated, cracking her knuckles.

“Are you really going to fight me elf?” Mardunyia asked as he dropped into his usual wrestling stance. Of course there was no oil pit neither he was naked this time, but the same principles applied. “Maybe you ought to be more polite with strangers.”

“What?! No!? What makes you think I want to fight you?” The elf remarked, stretching her arms to her sides and softly jabbing at the air with her fists, her feet jumping from side to side. “If we did I would win though” She added with a smirk.

“You’re in a fighting stance and trying to distract me with your talking.” Mardunyia replied now more seriously. “ And I’m the Champion of Sughben I’ve killed things far more dangerous and skilled than you with my bare hands.” He added with a huff. Who was this pile of shit to dismiss him so easily?

“And yet you hide behind that armour?” She asked with a laugh, stretching her legs up to her chest.

“I’m merely protecting myself. Only an idiot fights without armor if it’s available to him.” He replied.

“Only if you plan on getting hit” The elf mocked, rolling her neck and shaking her upper body. “Ok, I’m good” She said breathing deeply.

“Good as in good for a fight or good as in you’ve seen your mistake and is ready to apologise?” Mardunyia asked. Just for the sake of protocol, he doubted that the walking pile of dirt would apologise.

Without a response the elfs fist was flying through the air, heading towards the man's head. But the man in question had been expecting the elf to make the first move and quickly dodged the fist before trying to kick the elf in the knee. The elf clumsily hopped backwards to avoid the blow, then swung another fist at the man.

Mardunyia managed to block the blow with his arm, letting the fist connect with the armor before using his other arm in an attempt to punch the elf in the chest. The elf seemed to crumple as this second blow hit hard, she stumbled back as her breathing became more struggled. “ow” She winced coughing loudly as she sucked in more air.

Mardunyia did not stop and pushed on, trying to land a punch on her head. The blow barely missed, but caused the elf to stumble back and on to the floor. She began to laugh as her breathing became more rapid.

Mardunyia then lunged on her. Pinning her down with a knee on the stomach and one hand holding her neck.

“You’re a Kafshe aren’t you?” He asked applying pressure to her neck, half-angry half-frustrated by the whole ordeal.

“Maybe” She smiled, gagging slightly.

“Of course you are.” He mumbled to himself. “Now that I got you down I have some questions. First one being what are you doing here? You’re certainly no Imperial soldier.”

“I am the local flavour, I help these soldiers by showing them where not to step and not to eat some mushrooms or plants that will kill them” She explained, her hands creeping to the man's hands to attempt to let some more air in.

Mardunyia tightened the grip on her neck and shifted more weight into the knee pressing her stomach:

“I suggest you keep your hands to yourself elf.” He snarled as he tried to grab her hands with his free hand. “Second question: Will you apologise for picking a fight with me?

“Apologise? I thought this was a nice bonding experience.” She joked, her hands now held by the man “Now the big question is what the big man is going to do with me.” She teased “You plan on killing me with this choke or tickle me?” She smirked.

“I plan on doing this.” He replied as he tightened his hold even more. “And if you plan on continuing being an insufferable bitch, I assure you I can do worse.”

“Sounds scary” The woman remarked, gasping softly as the air began to become thinner.

Mardunyia merely sighed as he gave her neck another strong squeeze. “As I see that you’re either too retarded or insane to show me proper respect, and since I don’t think that the Princess will approve of me beating you up, I will release you. Very slowly and if you even think of fighting more I swear by my mother’s blood that I will cave your head in. Do you understand me?”

The elf wheezed softly “I…...suppose….” Her voice was stressed and gasping, her arms involuntarily began to twitch.

Mardunyia nodded as he took his knee away from her stomach and lifted the elf with the hand on her neck. Still holding her arms over her head he spoke:

“On the count of three I will release you. And remember: if you try anything I will tear you apart. One...two...three.” He then released her and took a few quick steps back.

The elf gasped in mouthfuls of air, her eyes welling with tears as she coughed loudly. “Wow…. I like you” She laughed softly as her breathing continued to be rapid. “I cant wait for the quest now” The elf collapsed to the floor, giggling softly as she looked up to the ceiling.

Mardunyia made a sound that sounded like a mix of a groan and a whimper as he facepalmed:

“You’re going with us?!”

“Well the other elf mentioned it, the one who makes awesome sandwiches and seems centered around having sex, and I am assuming I will be told soon by some man with an important sounding name that I must help guide you brave men and women through the forest.” She explained, stroking her neck and wondering if it would bruise.

“I’m sure it will be a delightful experience.” Mardunyia replied through gritted teeth. “You made such an amazing first impression already.”

“Would you have preferred me lying to you?” She asked.

“I would’ve preferred someone more stable to be our guide.” He replied exasperatedly. “But I guess you must be good in what you do. Otherwise they wouldn’t have entrusted the task to you.”

“You have to be a little crazy to do the job, the forest… it has its way of getting in to your head..” She replied, her tone turning serious

“I guess you’re right.” The Champion spoke, surprised over the sudden change in her mood.

The elf shook her head, smiling once again. “Anyway, I have lost half of my second layer having this little scuffle with you. I need to reapply, I am sure I shall be seeing you around Mr Champion of Sughben” The woman stood up quickly, turning to leave the man and head towards the walls.

Mardunyia waited until she was out of sight, not trusting her to not attack his back, to turn and go towards the kitchens for a meal.


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Hidden 4 yrs ago Post by darkwolf687
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Rufai rode into the camp on the back of his grey Ice Wolf. His was wearing armour that was decorated with various runes and other carvings, and was wearing a thick white wolfskin cloak, fastened by a broach of circular bone with a rune carved into it. Hanging from his neck was an inverted triangle, with a small symbol carved into each of its corners. The helmet he wore on his head obscured all but his eyes, ice blue and filled with a zealous vigour. If anyone was familiar with Welbali culture, they could probably tell that he was one of the Wanderers, the militant order of the Simaki temple.
His swords hilt protruded from its sheath, the silver pommel a large circle slightly bigger than a mans fist. Judging from the size if the sheath, the sword was as long as a pike. Along the rest of his belt were multiple pouches, all strapped tightly shut.
His Ice Wolf looked old and battle scarred, but none the less vigorous and none the less dangerous, its large teeth visible as it snarled when the pair entered the camp.
Rufai turned sideways and swung his leg over, sliding off the Ice Wolf and onto the ground, patting his mount on the head gently as it slowly followed after him towards the checkpoint, the Giant striding across the land. And he was more than worthy of the title of giants, being slightly taller than 20 foot and looking as powerful as one might expect from such a being. He was oddly careful, checking where he placed his feet so as to avoid treading on any small creatures below him, be they rabbits or small foxes...
He turned his attention towards the Imperial Checkpoint again and marched into it, feeling his presence required no formal introduction and setting himself down heavily against the floor, reaching a mailed hand up and placing it on his head. He had rode several days without rest and one could tell both he and his mount were exhausted, even if they were trying not to let on to it. The Ice Wolf slumped down beside him, and let out a whine as the Wanderer looked around the Imperial Camp, grunting weakly and seemingly forgoing all form of introduction
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Hidden 4 yrs ago Post by Goldeagle1221
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Army camp outside of Nibiru -- Day 8


The Shahzada’s tent was the largest of the camp. Spacious, well furnitured and well lit, Khamul’s quarters were attended by a staff of servants and slaves brought directly from the Palace of the Celestial Empress, along with a host of guards. And in the middle of the tent, stood a table by the central support column. And on the table a map of the northern Satrapies of the Shahdom and Innerzik represented in great detail.

Around the map were gathered the commanders of the Sughbenid and Imperial forces. Shahzada Khamul himself sat at the head of the table, flanked by two armored bodyguards. On the left side sat Spahbod Shiren Pahren, a short woman with a round face and black hair tied in a ponytail and behind her stood several lesser officers of her command. On the right side of the table sat Spahbod Hakam Ibn-Anwar, a tall and tanned man with aquiline features and a brown beard braided and decorated with silver trinkets, surrounded by his own aides and a Dwarf standing over a stool. Opposite to Khamul was Ben Arrow and his lieutenants standing in simple surcoats of purple.

“Now that we’re all gathered here.” Khamul started. “I declare this War Council officially started. Lord Arrow, please share with the rest of us the information you brought.”

With quick recited words and thorough explanations, Ben Arrow quickly brought the rest up to speed on the location and strange motivations of Peter Marshal’s rebel army.

“Now that we’re all up to date with the situation.” Khamul spoke as he gestured to the assembled officers. “I want to hear your thoughts.”

“Your Grace.” Started Hakam. “It’s my opinion that this Peter Marshal is desperate. He doesn’t command the necessary strength to truly threaten Yenaven or even pass through our forces before it. But he placed himself in a position that he has to make such outlandish promises to keep the loyalty of his followers.” Hakam paused as he looked around the table, weighing the reactions of his fellows. “I propose that we proceed with caution, Innerzik can’t afford to keep the war going on for long. Specially not with the entire continent against them. I say that we wait until the Hokks prepare their hosts and launch a coordinated assault with them.”

“Your opinion is noted Spahbod.” Khamul nodded towards him and then spoke to the rest: “Anyone else?”

“I’m curious then,” Ben Arrow started, “should we meet Peter’s army before it reaches Yenaven or wait for it?”

“I say we meet him on the field.” Spahbod Shiren spoke. “He already knows that we have superior forces and an open path towards Yenaven would simply arouse his suspicions. That is even if he actually advances. I doubt that he would try anything so soon after losing 2 000 men at Pasarghi.”

Ben looked at the map, “where would you meet him, where would he be advancing from?”

‘ “The problem is we don’t know where his army is or even if they are advancing.” Hakam replied. “So far our scouts have reported nothing new on the borders. It could be that this Marshal is simply waiting for us to advance in hopes of using popular support and the terrain against us.” The Spahbod paused for a moment. “And I don’t think I need to remind everyone here just what happened last time we were in this situation…”

Several of the assembled officers grunted and shifted uneasily on their feet. Spahbod Shiren gave her counterpart a murderous glare and the Dwarf by Hakam’s side looked worriedly between the two. But before the situation could develop further Khamul interrupted:

“We may not need to wait for him or even fall into his trap.” He announced triumphantly. “Earlier today I’ve received a twitter from Hokksulgug. They have seven thousand soldiers ready to march into Innerzik.” He paused to oversee the reactions of the assembled officers. “I’ve refrained from replying until this meeting is done. But I plan to tell them to march right to Shenben. I believe that such force heading straight to his capital will force Peter Marshal to act and take the bulk of his men north, leaving his southern flank unprotected and free for our advance.”

“A boon indeed,” Ben nodded, “I would like to see Peter try and snake himself out of such a guillotine. So we wait?”

“Not entirely.” Shiren started. “We have thousands of mobile soldiers at our disposal and we can use them to wreck the southern provinces of Innerzik. Dozens or maybe hundreds of bands of mounted raiders raping, pillaging and burning the villages and farms of Innerzik will surely hamper their war making capacities and will prevent others from accusing us of waiting out the war.”

“The Imperial forces will not condone war crimes,” Ben Arrow grunted while raising an interceptive hand, “rape and pillaging is unacceptable.”

Shiren merely laughed, a few of her aides joined in:

“War crimes Lord Arrow?” She asked. “The people of Innerzik have thrown their lot with a rebel and a usurper. When this war is over their lands will be ours and they will either be dead or chained in the slave markets of Sughben. Besides, looting is an integral part of warfare and without it I assure you that most of the tribesmen will simply ride back home.”

“I also don’t’ think that raids in that scale are such a good idea.” Hakam said, casting a glance towards Arrow. “For one it will affect the discipline of the Savaran if we simply allow them to go looting as they please. It will also cause unnecessary casualties among our cavalry. It will turn the locals against us too fast and will inevitably tie down enemy forces which is not what we want.” Hakam paused for breath and continued. “Instead I propose we keep the idea of raids but on a much smaller scale, let the desert warriors and hillmen go into Sughben. Let them burn a few farms and terrorize a few peasants while also gathering information about our enemy.”

“Burning is an accepted tactic of war,” Ben nodded, “but civilians will not be harmed, not under the Empire’s standard.”

“This is war Lord Arrow.” Khamul finally spoke. “Civilians die by the hundreds in every conflict. It’s unfortunate but it’s how the world works. It will do no good to hold to such idealistic position. People will die either by accident or by simple raiding. Besides, we can’t simply let the burning of Pasarghi go unpunished. I will not let the Shahdom look weak.”

Ben Arrow looked over to Khamul, “this is war, and we are dealing with a man who has the power of influence over the people who feed your noble bellies. They saw you slaughter your own civilians at Pasarghi, killing theirs only proves their message to the people that they need to end the nobility of the Shahdom.”

“No civilians will be put to harm purposely,” Ben Arrow leaned back in his chair, “the Empire will not be made a fool by the hands of a snake.”

“The rebels slaughtered the peasants at Innerzik!” Shiren exclaimed angrily. “Not us! And for your own sake Lord Arrow, I hope you remember this.” She snarled.

“Quiet Spahbod!” Khamul ordered, raising one of his hands. “Nobody here will threaten anyone.” He then turned to Ben Arrow. “Though I surely hope that Lord Arrow isn’t putting his faith in these slanderous rumors.” He cleared his throat and continued. “As for the civilians in Innerzik, I do not intend to be cruel with them. Only make examples. Those who surrender will be treated fairly and mercifully. While those who resist will be crushed and enslaved as it’s only fair.”

“As a man of war, I would hope you knew that rumors are all rebels need to triple their ranks,” Ben Arrow said calmly, “let’s not give Peter any fuel for his fire.”

Ben shook his head,” we have wasted time arguing, and we are no where closer to deciding what is to be done at this very moment.”

“Peter Marshal will get fuel for his fire regardless of what we do Lord Arrow.” Hakam said. “The moment Sughbenid and Hokks soldiers enter Innerzik his rhetoric will do its work and bolster his ranks. But if we show the people of Innerzik just how futile and painful resisting will be while also showing them that we can be merciful and generous to those who recognize the error of their ways. It will be much easier to advance.”

“Well said Hakam!” Khamul replied as he turned to Ben Arrow. “That strategy served us well in the past and I see no reason that it won’t work now. Worst case scenario we will all make a fortune with loot and slaves.” He chuckled.

“Is something funny to you?” Ben Arrow asked, a serious look of concern on his face.

“Just the thought of putting these upstarts in their place Lord Arrow.” Khamul replied. “But it’s as you said, we’re losing time. So to wrap things up I say that we go with the idea of sending small raiding parties into Innerzik while also writing for the Hokks to threaten its capital with their host. Once the Innerzik forces move to defend their seat of power we strike and crush them between our two forces.”

“Very well,” Ben Arrow concluded without emotion.
Hidden 4 yrs ago 4 yrs ago Post by Afina
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The Country Of Galaysyia – The Morning Of Day 5

The waters had been calm since Yursuyp had cast off from Innerzik and the winds where in The Titans favor as they had sailed to their delivery destination in the nation of Galaysyia. It was a good thing too, for he was already a few days late for delivery due to pirate raids and having to stop off in Innerzik to meet with Regalia to find safer passage. A light snow fell on the waters as the merchant vessel pulled into the harbor of Sleshpoul, the capital of the small isolated nation. Taking a deep breath a large grin fell on the man’s features. He was not able to deliver here often but when he did he always marveled how beautiful it was. Lush tree lines scattered over jagged peaks and low valleys that gave access to the shores that surrounded the southern island. The air was crisp and refreshing compared to other harbors further southeast. Carved out of the peak along the water’s edge he could see the cities royal palace where the family of Delmore ruled from.

He had met some of them over the years and was always impressed with how they received even the most common. There was never an air of superiority or distance between even the King and his people. This hard earned the respect of the entire nation, ever loyal to the house of Delmore. Stepping off the main deck of his ship and onto the gangplank that led to the harbor below he raised a brow as he saw the guards of the palace waiting for him. This was a change, they were never here. He simply off loaded, the merchants guild would make payment and he would be on his way. This couldn’t be good.

“Can I help you gentlemen?” Yursuyp inquired as he made his way down the gangplank. The head guard said nothing and simply handed over a rolled up piece of parchment that was secured closed with the royal seal. Tilting his head he took it and broke the seal, unrolling the parchment and reading over it. It seemed there had been a rather large amount of items missing from his last shipment and he was to report immediately to Prince Varun, the Master of Fleet, to discuss this. “There is no need for this, I have what was missing with me. An error from the merchant I purchased the good from. Just take them and I will be on my way,” he said before turning around to leave. A sword was placed on his shoulder and Yursuyp stopped, taking a deep breath. “Very well. Lead the way,” he grumbled slightly as he followed the guards towards the castle.

Yursuyp had been trading with the country for years and there had been other mishaps but nothing that couldn’t be straightened out at the docks. He figured it was something as simple as they wanted to speak with him personally because of his late arrival. Yursuyp was never late but these were rare circumstances. He hoped the prince would understand; he didn’t know though. He had never met the man, only heard rumors. Rumors that he had run off as a child only to return years later. Shaking the thought from his mind he made his way into the palace under armed escort. The halls were not as grand as some palaces but it was no less impressive and a welcome change to see more function than decoration within the walls.
He was quickly lead into a large room decorated plainly with a single large round table in the center of it. Papers and books were everywhere, stacked against the walls and maps were hanging above them; letting out a low whistle as he was introduced to the figure that was leaning over them. The man’s head was down and his back to him. He assumed this must be the Prince and tugged slightly at the bottom of his sash to straighten it out. He went to speak but a single hand rose in gesture to silence him and Yursuyp quickly closed his mouth and waited. The hand lowered and then his finger seemed to trace a route on the map that was on the table once he was done he motioned for Yursuyp to continue, still not facing him or speaking.

“Your highness, I am terribly sorry but it was a mix up and I have the supplies. I would have been here sooner but the pirate raids have increased in the southwest oceans. I was forced to dock in Innerzik and find an alternate route,” he explained quickly. As he spoke the Prince righted himself and shook his head slightly, a tsk tsk echoing through the room.

“I would think a man such as yourself could handle pirates well enough considering you used to be one,” the Prince said with lilt to his voice in jest before turning around and revealing his features. The man stood tall and proud, older than so long ago, but very unchanged over the years. Thick black hair framed a regal face with strong features and deep eyes. Yursuyps eyes widened and his skin went pale as if he had seen a ghost.

“Tseng!” he shouted. The prince just laughed and waved the guards away. Once they had left he walked over to Yursuyp and shook the mans hand before giving him a friendly hug. “I thought you were dead! What are you doing here?” he clamored as he returned the handshake and hug, glad to see his old friend again. Leaning back and shaking him slightly. “Come on man, explain!” he said excitedly.

Tseng laughed and motioned for him to sit down at the table with him. “It is a long story but to sum it up, a ship picked me up off the coast of the last battle of the Maelstrom.”

“And you are Varun? Prince? Well I will be damned! No wonder no one ever found you!” he laughed as he sat down and leaned back in the chair, making himself comfortable.

“Like there were any left to find me. I was the sole survivor it seems,” he said looking away, remembering how he was rescued; searching frantically for the crew and Regalia for weeks only to find no trace of them. “I finally gave up and returned home. There was nothing left of that life for me.” Yursuyp listened and even though Varuns words were sad and his tale sadder a smile grew larger and larger on the mans features. Varun looked at him as if he had gone nuts. “What on the seven seas are you smiling about? I lost her that day!” he sneered.

Yursuyp just shook his head. “No you didn’t,” he said in a hearty voice. “She’s alive.”

Varun froze in his place at the man’s words. He had to be joking, he looked, he searched every port for weeks and kept track of all merchant vessels that came in for years for any sign of her but he found nothing. “Don’t play with an old man’s memories,” he said as he rose from his chair and walked around the room.

“I’m not Tseng,” Yursuyp said in a stern tone he rarely ever used and stood up. “I spoke with Regalia not a short time ago in Innerzik,” he said as he stepped over towards Varun. “She is alive and well and as commanding as she ever was.”

“Stop!” he bellowed and pushed passed Yursuyp. It was all too fantastical to believe.

“You are as stubborn as ever. Don’t believe me? I have proof,” Yursuyp said as he rested his hands on his belly before letting out a long laugh. “Come on Princey, let me show you,” he said as he walked towards the door.

Varun turned and looked at him. “If you are lying to me, I will have you beaten in the streets,” he warned before pushing out the door and down the hall. Waiving the guards to stay back and leave him and Yursuyp alone. Yursuyp and Tseng made their way towards The Titan in silence. Yursuyp preferring to let proof do the talking and Varun lost in thought. Could it actually be true? Making their way onto the Titan and into the captains quarters Yursuyp picked up the maps that Regalia had made his new routes on over to Varun and then took a seat.
Taking the map he looked at the man as if he was nuts before looking at the maps and slowly collapsing into the nearest chair. He knew that script, only Regalia had as much flourish with quill as she did with sword. His fingers traced over the ink slowly, taking it in before looking over quickly at Yursuyp.

“Where is she?” he demanded to know.Yursuyp got comfortable in his seat and explained everything he knew to Varun. About finding Regalia in Innerzik and going into contract with him to help him find safe passage; about the battle that had broken out in the town the following night. Telling him of Regalias return for information and how she ran off to collect more. Yarun nodded slowly, trying to process it all. It was all too much too quickly. Leaning back in his seat his hands came to his face and he rubbed his features slowly, letting out a frustrating huff as he did so. “Is she okay? I mean…” he trailed off.

“She was perfectly fine the last time I saw her and no, she never married if that is what you are getting at,” Yursuyp said as he leaned in his chair and rested his arms on his knees. “So, what are you going to do?”

Varun sat there for a moment and a sly smile came to his lips. “What am I going to do? I am going to rescue the damsel and make her a princess. Isn’t that how the fairy tale is supposed to end?” he said as he rose from his chair. Yursuyp slapped his knee and rose as he laughed. “We leave tonight,” Varun said before taking off back to the castle. He had business to attend to and a father to speak with. He wasn’t going to take no for an answer. Not now.

“Wait? We?” Yursuyp asked as he tripped over his words but didn’t get an answer because Varun was already gone. Rubbing his neck he sighed but still smiled. “Looks like it is time for another grand adventure. Ready the sails, we leave on the evening tide!” he yelled to his crew as he stepped out on the deck. If he knew Varun, the man would be there. It would take the All Father to stop him and even then he doubted Varun would be stopped.

The doors of the throne room burst open and Varun came to a screeching halt over the marble floor, the sound squealing through the room. An older man in his seventies looked up from the scroll he was reading over and the rest in the room froze for a moment before bowing low to the prince. Varun ignored them and walked quickly through the room as they made a path for him and up the steps to the throne itself where his father was seated. “I am leaving this evening,” he stated matter of factly.

“Everyone out, I need to speak with my son over an important matter,” the man said in a calm voice as he handed over the scroll to one of the scribes. Everyone quickly bowed and made a hasty retreat from the room. The guards pulling the doors closed, a heavy sound resonating through the room. Once they were alone Xavier Delmore, the king of country, turned his attention to his youngest son. “Still as brazen as you were as a teen. Will age never calm you?”

“Death could not calm me today,” Varun said as he looked at his father.

“And why is that?” he asked as a single brow rose in interest. Xavier was a patient man but his youngest son had never taken being the prince of a nation seriously; having run off in his youth only to return ten years ago. Even after his return, his head was never in the game. Varun was skilled, commissioning and designing the jewel of their naval fleet, but his heart was not in anything else he did. He refused marriage, refused responsibility outside of the sea. Now he wanted to leave again? When words of war where whispered on the winds. He better have a damned good reason.

“I found her,” Varun stated quickly as he tried to fight back a smile but he couldn’t. “She’s alive.”

Xavier looked at his son confused for a moment but then he figured out who he spoke of. Pursing his lips he shook his head no. “Then have her sent for and bring her here,” he retorted. “There is no reason for you to leave again. Your country needs you. You are master of fleet! If war breaks out you must be at the helm!”

Varuns eyes narrowed. “To hell with the fleet!” he spat.
Xavier rose from his chair quickly and stepped close to his son, his face red with anger. His patience had finally run out. “Watch what you say boy. Son or no son I will have you locked in the dungeon for such an outburst,” his father warned in a hushed tone.

Varun nearly snorted in anger at his father before stepping away from him. “It will take me being in a dungeon to keep me here,” he replied quickly before turning to his father and taking a deep breath and explaining everything to Xavier that Yursuyp had told him and the proof he held. “If it was mother, would you stay behind?” he asked as he finished explaining. Xavier was a bit taken aback by Varuns question and sat back down in his throne. He had to admit that Varun was correct, if it was the queen he would move heaven and hell to get to her and yet he could not just let his son gallivant off into the wilderness of another nation to search for Regalia, even if she was the reason for the crown jewel of the fleet or if his son loved her. Taking a moment he pondered his options and then came up with a solution to a very old problem.

“If you are too find her, then what?” Xavier asked.

“When I find her, I stay with her. It is as simple as that.”

“No, that will not due. The kingdom needs its prince. Its Master of Fleet but we could always use someone as skilled as the Sword Wizard at our side,” his father began with a coy look on his features. “I will grant you leave on one condition. You marry that woman and return to your place here. Understood?”

Varun stood there unmoving as his father spoke. He hadn’t considered ruling with Regalia at his side. They had been set to marry before but she had never known he was a prince because he had never considered returning. He had planned to live his life out at her side on the high seas. Would Regalia still want him after all these years? Would she forgive him for hiding who he was? Would she agree to it? He didn’t know but he had to try.

“Agreed,” Varun said as he decided.

“Ha! Very well then, you have my leave,” the king said before waving his son off. He thought perhaps this woman could finally calm his youngest down. He doubted it but he would wait and see. Varun bowed and began to run out to make arrangements. “And my blessing,” the father ended with as his son went to begin his journey to find what he had lost so long ago.

Varun wasted no time as he gathered what he needed and summoned for The Regalia to meet him offshore of the capital before making his way back to The Titan; Yursuyp standing on the deck as he awaited him. “Take me to my lady,” Varun stated as he pointed off into the distance as a ship broke the horizon. There had been rumors of her that floated from harbor to harbor but to actually see them crown jewel of the Galaysyia Naval Fleet was awe-inspiring. She truly lived up to her reputation as being a craft beyond compare. Varun stood there watching her make her approach and swelled with pride. He had not done much for his nation but he gave them this. If that was all he was remembered for, that would be enough.

Yursuyp gawked for a moment before telling his crew to cast off and make their way closer so that Varun could transfer over to The Regalia; letting his first mate take the helm as he stood with Varun. “She truly is a remarkable vessel, the stuff of legends,” Yursuyp said as he marveled at this ship before him. A Captain would sell his soul for such a vessel.

“Not near as remarkable as her namesake,” Varun said as he awaited transfer. Yursuyp just patted Varun on the shoulder and nodded in agreement. Regalia was a one of a kind woman that many a men would have sold their souls to be with. Varun had been the lucky lad to win her.

The Titan moved swiftly into place and set anchor in deeper waters, letting a lifeboat lower before the rope ladder was tossed over the side for Varun to climb down. “Good luck,” Yursuyp said as Varun climbed down. “Tell her Yursuyp still wants dinner with her,” he joked. Varun just chuckled at his words and sat down and began to row over to The Regalia.

“Yeah, I’ll tell her,” he shouted as he rowed. “After I have made up for ten years of not touching her!” he finished up with before turning his attention fully to his task at hand. Yursuyp just laughed, it echoing over the sea before turning back to his crew once Varun was close to The Regalia.

“It seems our adventures lay elsewhere. Hoist anchor! Raise the mainsail! We have a shipment to deliver!” he called out to his crew. “May the speed of the All Father be with you Tseng,” he said to himself as they sailed off and Varun made his way on board his prized vessel.

Stepping onto the main deck he looked at his crew as he was greeted by his first mate Ly’hun. “Welcome aboard Sir!” the man said as he saluted his prince and commander. “Where are we setting sail to?” he asked as he lowered his hand.

“Innerzik, as fast as my lady can take me,” he said as he handed off his pack to one of the crew. “I want to see the city soon as possible,” followed up with sternly.

“That is quiet the travel for such a short amount of time but nothing The Regalia cannot handle! Alright men, you heard the prince! We set sail for Innerzik! Rowers in position, we are to make haste. Let’s remind the sea why The Regalia is queen of the waters!” Ly’hun bellowed. Ly’Hun was an older gentleman, an elf that had been born in the swamps of the mainland of the nation. He hated the swamps and when it came time to serve he joined the Navy instead of becoming a ranger. He did well and has served as Varuns first mate on the Regalia since she was built.

Once they had set sail Varun retired to his captain's quarters and awaited Ly’Hun to join him for an evening meeting. Once he arrived he explained what their mission was and why he had called for his lady to be brought to him on such short notice. It seemed odd to Ly’Hun but he was not going to have any doubt in the prince.

“I see. Well the crew will do whatever is needed to bring the future princess back. She must be an amazing woman to inspire such a craft,” Ly’Hun said as he gestured around to The Regalia.

“She is Ly, she is,” he said before sending his first mate on his way and keeping to himself for the rest of the evening. Going over maps of the nations, cities, and all the information that Yursuyp had given him to begin. He doubted it would be easy to find her but Regalia wasn’t exactly a woman that was easily forgotten.

Innerzik – Evening Of Day 7

Between the work of the crew and the winds The Regalia had made record time in reaching Innerzik, Varun feeling that the All Father was watching over him in his journey. The seas were calm and the skies clear. Once they had left the shores of Galaysyia Varun has spent all his time going over information and prepping the ones he had handpicked to travel with him. He knew that going alone off the ship was not a good idea; a prince traveling alone in a foreign land? Not wise. Varun was impulsive at times but he was far from stupid on such matters. Having lived all over the known world when he left home, he knew the customs and lands far better than most from his nation. He planned to use that information to his advantage.

He handpicked ten men to come with him as his guards and entourage. Banners were in place, horses ready, supplies gathered. It was a small party but it was enough. He needed speed in this journey and did not need to be weighted down with carriages and footmen. He had chosen two Rangers, three Berserkers, one squire who was skilled in riding, one Alchemist, and three sword masters. They were all skilled and learned in their respective fields and he trusted them with this most important mission. They were the closest members of his nation’s military and he would accept no less in the hunt for their future princess. They would provide protection, speed and presence without looking like an attempt at an invasion. The presence of the Regalia would be enough to raise the attention of other nations since she never left her own waters. For her to suddenly arrive in Innerzik would cause questions to arise. He opted to keep those questions to a minimal if at all possible.

They would leave in the morning and The Regalia would set anchor off shore and await word from Varun for their next move. Tonight they would rest because he knew he was going to push them hard until he found her and he did not want to start this trek on land with men who were tired from the sea journey and quick call to action. He needed them at their best and he would accept no less.

Shenben - Day 8

Varun made his way off The Regalia with his small entourage and shook his head slightly. The town looked horrid and he wasn’t expecting things to go smoothly. Normally he would have cast off and set sail for another port but this was the last place he knew Regalia had been seen by someone he knew. He didn’t have much of a choice but to go at this point. The Regalia had been instructed to cast off and move to deeper water and wait further instructions. Waiting with the ones that were coming with him he watched the ship set sail and move away from the burned city.

“Alright men, let’s go. Keep an eye out and be ready,” Varun commanded before nudging his horse forward and making his way off the docks with his crew in tow. As they reached the town proper he shook his head, this didn’t feel right. Looking back he sought out his squire. “Gret,” he called out. “I want you to set up a camp outside of town. I don’t know how long this will take. Sword Masters, stay with me. The rest of you go with Gret and keep things guarded,” he ordered before he and the Sword Masters pushed further into the city.

“Yes Sir,” Gret said as he and the remaining made their way outside of the city. It took a while for them to actually get to the lands outside of Shenben. The streets were littered with people and destruction, people giving them cold glances. Gret didn’t know if it was because of their banners, or just the fact that they were like that in general. Gulping slightly the young squire pushed forward, thankful that he had Rangers, Berserkers and capable Alchemist with him. He was not ready for battle but he could hardly tell the prince no when he requested his presence. Though everyone had been given the option to opt out of coming along, not one had turned Varun down. Loyal to a fault were the people of this nation.

Varun slowly made his way through the town, dismounting his horse and letting one of the Sword Wizards take the reigns as he got down on the same level as the rest in the streets. He tried speaking to some, checking taverns and smiths for information but he was getting no where. Some would just stand there silent refusing to answer, others would yell for him to get out and that his kind were not welcome, a select few would stand there and boast about Peter Marshall and how he had freed the city. Varun found the entire thing odd, he was not used to people to be this against the Imperial Crown. There had always been disputes among the people but nothing like this. It seemed things were coming to a boil and that all out war was going to ravage the lands .

Slowly a crowd began to form behind the group and Varun suddenly felt like he was some monster in a tale and a mob was about to strike. His feelings were quickly proved to be a good warning sign of how things were to unfold. Suddenly a piece of rotten fruit was thrown at the prince and hadn’t it have been for the quick movements of one of his Sword Masters catching the item mid air with the blade of his sword the Prince would have had to wash his clothing. He really didn’t have time for laundry. The Sword Master eyed Varun.

“Your majesty, I think it would be a good time for us to depart,” he said as the group of people that were beginning to swarm behind them turned from crowd to angry mob in the single toss of fruit. Varun nodded and took to his horse, mounting quickly and spinning it around for a moment.

“I couldn’t agree more,” he said as he drew his sword and the remaining sword masters followed suit. “No killing, just get to safety outside of the town,” he commanded as his horse spun back around and they began their attempted flight from the peaceful city of of Shenben.

“Such a tragedy we have to leave, seems like a beautiful place,” Flen, one of the sword masters, said with a smile on his lips as they pushed their way through the streets.

“I know, maybe I should buy a summer home here,” Varun laughed as they galloped and weaved their small group through alley ways and destruction.

“The people are very friendly,” Flen added as his horse leapt over a cart that had been set on fire and pushed into their path. The rest following suit behind him. “And what a lovely bone fire. I could go for some grilled pheasant right now.”
“We only have red wine,” Varun said as he reared his horse up on two legs to avoid running over some children that were trying to get away from the mob and turn to gallop in another direction; the group flanking him on either side.

“Damn it man I told you to pack the white!” Flen scolded with a smirk on his lips.

“Oh well, next time,” Varun said as they made a break for the road that exited the city, pushing past the exit and thinking they were home free as they made their way to the rest of their group. Gret running up to Varun, along with the others, to see what was happening. Varun looked back and sighed. “Gret, pack up, we’re leaving,” he said quickly, not dismounting from his horse. Gret looked confused but did as he was told. It didn’t matter though that they were outside, the mob followed and came in from the other side as well before they knew it.

“I think they are as angry over the red wine as I am,” Flen said with his sword out.

“It would seem that way,” Varun grunted.

As the mob tightened their circle around the group, it became clear that the rabble of civilians had at some point been swapped out with Peter Marshal’s own militia station in the city. Under the banner of the rebellion that was painted on their leather and iron, the angry looking group raised various weapons of war and farming.

“Well, it looks like the tax collectors have joined the group,” Flen said looking over group that was closing in. “Did you forget to pay your taxes your highness? I mean, they look serious; all those torches and pitchforks. It is a right proper mob.”

“What is it with mobs and pitch forks?” Varun said as the rest of his groups closed rank around him; rangers drawing their bows, Berserkers gripping their hammers and the Alchemist lofting a small ball from one hand to the other. “Hold boys,” Varun commanded, holding his hand up.

A whistle sounded somewhere in a small shaded copse off the the side of the escapee’s and mob. Another whistle seemed to answer it from a sea of wheat stalks as tall as a giant. Then as sudden as the first whistle, dozens of arrows whizzed from each area, expertly digging bodkin spikes into the exposed areas of the mob.

The aggressive assault splitted skulls and cracked bones at such a close proximity. White feathers flashed in between the distances of the hidden archers and the defenseless victims, and splashes of crimson heralded their arrival.

The now suffering mob started to retreat back to the city, at first with ideas of defense on their minds, but after another devastating and bloody volley of mysterious arrows, they opted to simply run.

Seeing the mob retreat back into the city, leaving the causalities behind Varun raised a brow. “Hold steady men,” he said as he lowered his hand and looked around.

“Perhaps someone likes Red Wine?” Flen chimed in as he looked around.

“I hope you’re right.”

A masculine voice called out from the wheat, “anybody the goon’s of Marshal are trying to kill, are probably friends of mine.”

The reeds ruffled as a tall man with a black beard and a bow in hand emerged. He wore a friendly smile under the suppression of his bushy facial hair, “and I happen to like red wine.”

“And any man that takes care of a mob for me is a friend of mine,” Varun laughed as he dismounted and instructed his men to stand down. “Enough to share our wine with.”

The soldier stepped forward, wiping stray blades of grass and grains of wheat from his boiled leather garments. He spoke with a gruff and seasoned voice as he approached, “pleasantries aside, why were you being chased down by those vermin?”

Varun stepped away from his group and over towards the man as he wiped the sweat from his brow, shrugging slightly as he went. “Actually, I don’t know. Made port last night, was asking questions about the fight that happened and a woman. Then suddenly I am an ogre and they have grabbed their torches and pitchforks,” Varun explained. “Or maybe they don’t like my Standard,” he said pointing over to his nations emblem. “That or they are very passionate about the wine.”

“Maybe all three,” the commander offered, “the… people of Innerzik have grown very xenophobic since the open rebellion. Where are you shipping from?”

The commander gestured for Varun to follow as they talked, eager to get away from Shenben’s gates. Varun followed suit, motioning for his men to hurry up but to keep back so they could talk.

“Galaysyia actually,” he said as they walked. “I guess it is not surprising they are that way, especially towards my country. We don’t exactly get out often.”

“Far from home,” the commander agreed, stopping once out of sight from the city, “well, I’d hate to interrogate you further, but you’d perked my curiosity. If I may be so forward, who are you?”

“Prince Varun Delmore,” he said with a bow. “Interrogate away, perhaps I can play quid pro quo with you and find some answers that the good people of Shenben refused to answer.”

“Anything for a vassal of the Emperor,” the man bobbed his head into a shallow bow, “the Imperial armies fraternal Brothers of the Point at your service.”

“Where to begin?” Varun said as he rubbed his chin slightly. “I guess I can begin with asking your name, if that isn’t being too forward.”

“Imperial Commander Franklin Drevich,” the man answered, “fraternal father of the brothers.”

“Well it is pleasure to meet you and your arrows,” he said with smile. “I am looking for a woman who was here the day the city fell. Knowing her she is collecting information but where she went from here I do not know. Probably followed the trail of blood but I don’t know where the next battle was.”

Franklin raised a brow and scratched his beard, “an informat? What does she look like?”

Varun reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a small piece of canvas with her image painted in it. She was younger then and the canvas was faded from being handled far too much over the years but it was easy enough to see that it was Regalia. Unfolding it, he handed it over.

Franklin gently grabbed the old canvas. He squinted, the paint had smudged over over handling and general age, but after a few moments his sharp eyes had a pretty good idea of what the woman looked like, and his mind even had an idea of where she was. He handed the picture back and nodded slowly, “she’s in the capital. We crossed paths not long ago.”

Varuns eyes widened slightly as he took the canvas back and carefully returned it to the safety of his coat. “You’ve seen Regalia? So she is still alive?” he said before leaning over and taking a relieved breath. “You have no idea how grateful my nation is for this information,” he said as he righted himself. Then a thick brow arched slightly. “Why in the world is she at the capital? Seems a rather far jaunt from here to there.”

“She had information for the Great Prince,” Franklin nodded, “she had gotten herself caught up in the bindings of the war, I’m afraid.”

Varun sighed deeply as his hands came to his face and rubbed his skin vigorously. “Damn it Regalia, what have you gotten yourself into this time,” he muttered through his fingers before dropping his hands. “Oh well, least now I know where I need to go next it seems,” he added as he looked over towards Franklin. “I guess that leaves me with two questions then. One would be do you know somewhere safe my men can rest for the evening before we set out for the Imperial Palace in the morning? Two would be, what’s the best route to take with things being as friendly as they are right now?”

“One, I’ll take you to our camp. Two, by sea or through the commonwealth then down through the North Central,” Franklin suggested, “but I suggest sea.”

"Sea it is then," Varun said as he looked around. "Lead the way, we can break out the wine when we get there," he said with a grin.
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Imperial Checkpoint - Day 8


Freg sat on a log with his axe cradled in the crook of his arm. His massive book was still strapped by strange metal bands covered in ruins to his back, secure and solid. He stared blankly into the forest as he sat, not much seemed to be on his mind, or perhaps there was too much on his mind that it warranted a blank and focused stare. He was hard to read, his eyes large and bovine, and his muzzle too beast-like to show much of a smile or frown, but rather stuck in a stoic apathetic line. A heavy snort rushed from his nostrils and he cracked a knuckle before continuing his statue-esque stance outside the checkpoint walls, seemingly waiting for something.

“Hey!” Mardunyia called out as he approached the hulking Bull Man. “We haven’t had the pleasure of a formal introduction. And I haven’t actually thanked you yet for interfering back in the forest.” He said smiling as he extended a hand. “Mardunyia, the Champion of Sughben.”

Freg grunted and took the man’s almost child-like hand when compared to his own massive balled fist. The bull man gave it a surprisingly gentle shake, and he nodded. The minotaurs voice boomed and vibrated deep within the beast's throat, leaving deep and powerful consonants, “Freg Gerntef.”

“A pleasure to meet you.” Mardunyia replied pleasantly. “Now that introductions are out of the way, do you mind if I ask a few questions? It’s not every day that I happen to come across an individual like you.”

“Du ruk ri,” Freg boomed, “No, ask me.”

“Good.” Mardunyia replied. “Now, were you born around these parts? A local tribe maybe?”

Freg moved a massive thumb and cocked it to himself, “Harnia.”

“Harnia? And where is this Harnia?” The Champion asked.

Freg let out a few rapid booms, almost as if he was laughing. He pointed a thick finger and placed it on Mardunyia’s forehead. The beast bellowed a few words, “that would be too much for you.”

“Too much information or too much for my mind to understand?” Mardunyia asked chuckling.

“You wouldn’t hear my words,” Freg said as he turned his attention back to the forest, shifting his axe into the crook of his other arm. He snorted a breath through his nostrils.

“I wouldn’t hear your words? What does this even means?” Mardunyia asked, frustration starting to affect his composure.

Freg shook his head and pointed at Mardunyia, “it means exactly what I have said. You, as in you, will not be able to hear, as in use your ears to decipher my words, me, as in Freg.”

Mardunyia laughed as he brought a hand to his forehead. “Of course, linguistic barriers. How silly of me. But alright then, another question: Did anyone told you to help our group back there in the forest?”

Freg scrunched a grizzly brow, choosing perhaps it was best to continue with answering the questions rather than try and correct Mardunyia, “no, I decided to help on my own.”

“On your own? So you just woke up and decided to help a bunch of strangers for a change?” Mardunyia asked, letting the incredulity seep into his tone.

“No,” Freg shook his head, his deep voice bellowed, “No, I was awake the entire time.”

Mardunyia laughed again and then asked: “But you do have some familiarity with the Imperial Forest right?”

“If I offered to guide you through a land I do not know, then call me a fool rather than Freg,” the Minotaur offered.

“And what about that axe? I never saw a weapon so large. I assume it was made specially for you right?”

“You never saw an axe so large, because you never saw a warrior so large,” Freg concluded, “it was not made for my hands, but my hands have molded to be it’s master.”

“Now I take offense to that.” Mardunyia exclaimed in mock shock. “ I will have you know that I once fought a giant that had got himself lost in the desert. But we’re missing the point and I have a third question. A little more personal but I’m rather curious: What’s your faith Freg?”

Freg snorted and looked forward again, “you would not hear it.”

“C’mon, give it a try. I swear I will try to hear.” Mardunyia insisted.

“It would hurt,” Freg looked back at the man with apathetic eyes brimming with wisdom, “it would hurt you a lot.”

“You’re telling me that the sounds you would make trying to explain your religion would hurt my ears? Or is it a more metaphorical kind of hurt you’re implying?” The Champion asked, thoroughly confused.

Freg laid a rough finger on the Champions forehead and pressed slightly, “you would hurt, and I cannot tell you if you would ever recover.”

“Alright.” Mardunyia shrugged. “I still don’t understand exactly what you’re getting at but I will respect your decision.”

“Warning,” Freg said abruptly with a grunt, “not a decision.”

“Is it kind of a shamanistic thing? You’re bound by a magic oath?” Mardunyia asked, despite having just told the Minotaur that he would drop the subject.

What could almost be described as a smile morbidly formed around the beast’s muzzle. “You,” he said deeply, “you.” He trailed off and turned to look back at the forest.

“Me? Care to explain or it’s just another thing that would end up killing me?”

“You’re learning quickly,” Freg grunted with an approving nod.

“Anyway.” Mardunyia said, trying to shake off the growing irritation at the lack of results. “What do you plan on getting once this is over? I mean, you ought to have earned the right to demand a hefty reward by this point already.”

Freg thought for a moment, or rather seemed content with the change of direction. He looked back at Mardunyia, “I seek nothing your group has to offer me. What do you seek?”

“What I always sought. Glory and wealth. With any luck I will earn something from the Princess and get a few more estates and slaves back home.” Mardunyia replied.

“At the end of the road that you walk behind the princess, you will not find either of these things,” Freg boomed.

“So you’re a prophet now?” Mardunyia asked with narrowed eyes, his disposition turning a tad more hostile. “Does your big book tells you that?”

“I speak not from prophecy, but experience,” Freg grunted, “and the book says nothing unless my own hand writes it down.”

“And what’s your reasoning to say that I will end this little trip with my hands empty?”

“Because you are not the first,” Freg offered simply.

“I’m not the first?” Mardunyia asked. “Of course I’m not the first. Thousands, maybe more have already tried braving the Imperial Forest. But I’m better than them.” Mardunyia finished with a cocky smile.

“No,” Freg stated simply, “you’re not the first,” he paused and stooped to look at Mardunyia a little clearer through old eyes, “on this quest.”

“That’s something that I should have been told before…” Mardunyia replied as he started to muse on the implications of the fact. “Does the Princess knows that too? And if yes is she leading us to our doom on purpose?” He asked. Though truth be told the Champion doubted that Josephine was able to dress herself without help from servants let alone plan something like this. At least going by how she behaved during the ambush. “Or she could be simply putting a facade.” He mumbled to himself.

“They do not know,” Freg answered, “just I and the music player.”

“Well, how about sharing this little piece of knowledge with the rest of the group? Never crossed your mind that it might be useful?”

Freg seemed to shrug, “it is pretty useless in the current situation. I fear even what I have told you may even slip through the cracks in your mind and be labeled as forgotten words.”

“So is there some kind of magic affecting us? Isn’t that just great!” Mardunyia half-shouted with forced laughter. “And I presume that it would be useless to ask about the music player since I will probably forget about it too right?!”

“We live in magic, you know this, it is the one thing you can hear,” Freg gave his what would be a smile and snorted, “as for the music player, once more the words would be lost on you. Should your quest be complete, you will know anyway.”

“And this was just a big waste of time wasn’t it?” Mardunyia asked with a huff.

“Perhaps,” Freg said thoughtfully.

“And this day is just getting better. First the elf and now this.” Mardunyia mumbled angrily as he turned to Freg. “Well I thank you for your time.” And with that he gave a short bow and walked away, cursing silently the monumental and confusing waste of time that had just happened.

As soon as Mardunyia was out of sight, Freg gave a snorting laugh, “surely we live in a divine comedy.”
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Imperial City, Day 7


The train of carriages and wagons rolled lazily through the city streets under the long shadows of the morning. As her own carriage sped past a gap in the forest of buildings it briefly permitted the early light to pierce the small window Mardene had been surveying the city from, causing her to recoil in surprise. To the exasperation of countless Councillors, teachers, and aids through her life she'd always held a deep resentment for the sun at this time of day. While the responsibilities of leadership had often found her awake at these hours she'd managed to get by once it was decreed that all the windows near to her chamber were to be veiled until afternoon at the earliest. It was an unfortunate reality that no such veils existed on the royal carriage.

Leaving the Imperial city Mardene had to admit she felt far less confident than when she'd arrived. Then the plan had been simple, methodical, and ever so clear. Now it was ruined by war of all things, and even ending it had been a disaster; one to which any answers seemed lacking. With a resigned and in no small part resentful sigh, Mardene found herself wishing she hadn't left Serte behind. At the very least an amount of conversation would have eased the discomfort of the situation. Of course Mardene hadn't really a choice in that matter, Serte was a diplomat by title and nature and she was where she needed to be. In the face of what was sure to be a long war she would have been wasted in the Delta; left in the capital, she could work wonders. Contrastingly Mardene almost felt a sense of relief that Aren had elected to remain in the capital, for all she cared for him it seemed in his case the apple hadn't fallen far from the tree. Leaving him behind was a potential burden off her shoulders, even if she wished it wasn't so.

With a telltale bump Mardene was broken from her lonely rumination to note that her carriage had cleared the Imperial city. She looked back at the tawdry colours of the city, only intensified into a garish state by the morning light, and idly wondered if she'd see it again. It wasn't proper to doubt victory in a war of course, but propriety aside—she was well aware there was always a loser.

The Delta was still seasoned though, unlike much of the continent. While she knew that would only be the case for a short time it still managed to provide some comfort. In addition to George's new army it might be enough that the apital shrinking behind her would remain unscathed, and as much as she professed a dislike for it Mardene had come to think it would be a terrible shame if anything were to happen to the city.

As the meander of the road took them behind a small wood the cities gate left sight and the long road ahead took shape. The mountain lands of Khazad loomed and some ways behind them Mardene knew her home was waiting. It was a home that even as she return to, she knew uncounted countrymen were leaving. The reply to her order hadn't arrived before she left the palace, but Mardene knew her cousin wouldn't have wasted the time to write it himself anyhow; and was little point reading some adjutants confirmation. If all went well she would meet them on the road, deliver some speech, and try to pretend everything was in hand. They would all know the truth however, nothing had been in hand for a very long time. If it had been the war would have never started and they'd have been tending their farms or spending time with their families, not marching to kill men they'd never have met otherwise.

No, nothing was in hand. As much as Mardene wanted to blame the Emperor for that she knew he was merely the symptom of a greater disease, no different from the war itself.

No different at all.
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The Purple Road (The Imperial Forest) -- Day 8



After a few grueling days along the precarious purple road, the announced and labeled safest path alongside the Imperial forest the party of heroes were nearing one of the coveted Imperial Checkpoints. Stuck between the Achians and the forest the road squirmed through the dangers of both, giving merchants and pilgrims alike the most protection near and in the forest they could ever hope to get. Even then Imperial checkpoints were posted along it to ensure the terrible beasts of the forest didn’t spill onto the unsuspecting travelers. Several incursions of nasty and horrible creatures had slowed the way, but with the support of Freg, the group had finally arrived at the last checkpoint before they turned their backs to the safety of the road and plunged into the deeps of the Imperial Forest.

The checkpoint wasn’t too grand, but with the arrival of the Princess, the garrisoned troops and stationed employees of the small fort had done their best to fluff it as much as they could. The princess had found herself sitting in the nicest chair available in the middle of the courtyard, surrounded by tall wooden walls and platforms, as well as the stone keep of the garrison. Beyond the walls were the endless shadow draped trees of the forest on all sides save for the parting of the thick trees for the road to cut through. Tents and tiny straw huts were pitched and dotted around the spacious courtyard, as the homes of the wayward locals, mostly Tagschlict elves sworn to a life of religion or the lone Kafshe looking to escape civilization.

It was definitely a unique scene for the princess and gave a small feeling of helplessness, like they were just ignorant ants among a greater scheme, animals in the middle of the food chain. She did not let such thoughts get to her however, and instead waiting patiently on her chair.

She had been waiting alone, and for the first time in days, free from the scratchy trousers of a poor soldier and back into the familiar comfort of a simple blue dress that fell to shoed feet rather than the soaked through boots she had been forced to wear. A content smile seemed stuck on her lips as she hummed softly to herself, thankful for once being able to relax and pretend she wasn’t on a dangerous quest into the fringes of civilization. The others had split up along the fort to do their own thing, but she, despite her relaxed appearance, had some business to take care of, and luckily she could do that business in a fashion she was familiar with, that of a politician.

As luck would have it Josephine’s arrival was synchronized with one of the elven sages, although a tickling anxiety told her that maybe it wasn’t chance alone that allowed this. Chance or not, she had sent word to the sage and set up a time for a meeting. A lot of existential events have been arising suddenly and in quicker intervals; Josephine had a well-founded feeling that a man of the Graces might have an idea why, especially a Sage who is the named patron of the Grace of Wisdom.

Before long an elf with flowing robes of moss had settled into the grass by her feet. Pale eyes twinkled up at her past the darkness of a grassy hood. Josephine went to speak, opening her mouth, but was cut off by the aged elf as he raised a wrinkled hand for silence.

Josephine pursed her lips in anticipation for the elf to speak, but words never came. The buzzing of insects overtook the conversation as they sat in silence. The princess’s gaze darted back and forth, and finally she broke the thickening silence and started to speak, “I’m glad you were able to come to audience.”

“You have brought the herald of the end,” the Sage rasped in an elder voice, “and you seek the herald of doom.”

Josephine scrunched her nose in confusion and raised her eyebrows, “what?”

“You seek the music player, do you not?”

“I do,” Josephine surrendered cautiously. She leaned forward, “do you object?”

“I don’t know,” the Sage of Wisdom said plainly. Josephine put on a polite smile, but couldn’t dismiss the irony of the situation. She shook her head forcing the frustration out of her words, “whatever do you mean, you are the embodiment of wisdom.”

“Wisdom isn’t always knowing, but sometimes, knowing not, doing this, but not doing such,” The elf riddled before huffing, “at the end of your path it has been made clear to me that you will find more than a music player with the artifact you seek.”

“Go on, please,” Josephine shuffled forward in her seat, until she was nearly completely levitating above the grass. The sage blinked his pale moon eyes and sighed, “I was there when your mother had passed, I was there when she was suffering from her sickness.”

“What does that have to do with anything?” Josephine defensively crossed her arms, feeling a prick in her heart at the mention of her late mother.

“She is the only reason next to your father to why you are sitting here with me,” The sage said sympathetically, “your blood was not chosen by you, but I’m afraid you must live to the inheritance.”

“What are you talking about?” Josephine huffed, nearly laughing at the barrage of riddles coming from the elf of wisdom and knowledge.

“Your father,” the sage said, pausing abruptly. He seemed to wince in the shadows of his mossy hood and continued, “your father was sick with grief, he didn’t want to lose both of you.”

“And he didn’t,” Josephine cut in, “my mother survived her disease, and gave birth to me, healthy as ever. It wasn’t until George-”

“No,” the Sage interrupted, frustration in his voice. He grabbed her arm roughly and pulled her close, so that a wrinkled nose pressed against Josephine’s own. Two full moon eyes peered blankly into her worried eyes.

“Your father traded himself for your lives, and now it is time that you repay his debt,” the sage hissed, “the graces yell and scream at me, Josephine, they tell me to tell you to finish your quest. The plead that you are fine, that you must.”

Josephine opened her mouth to speak but only gurgled in horror as the Sage pressed on, “but I see it Josephine, I see it, I see you bleeding, I see the darkness that veins and corrupts your soul. Your mother was killed, but she is not dead, you were born, but you do not live. The player, the bull, they herald an end.”

“An end to wha-”

“I don’t know Josephine!” The sage spat, spittle sprinkling Josephine’s cheeks. “They say trust them… trust them… then kill them. The Dark one smiles, but the Graces do not disagree. For once, none makes sense, for once, knowledge shrugs. I do not know, Josephine. I see a golden light in my dreams, Josephine, but it stands not next to the graces or the dark one, or even myself. It stands off to the side, festering, angry, upset.”

Josephine pulled back, trying to remove herself from the old Sages vice like grip. She started to shake, but the Sage tightened his grip, “hope! hope! You are the bane of this world, Josephine, and you will be forced to pay your debts, and your father to pay for his crimes against us.”

“Stop it please!” Josephine started to yell as she yanked her arm out of the man’s hands. The sage quickly grabbed her and pulled her back in, “your father… I was there… I told him not to do it, and now he knows more than any mortal should. He has seen the Dark one, and seen the Graces, he has corrupted.”

The Sage jutted a stiff finger into Josephine’s shoulder, “you… you hold the seed of his deeds.” The Sage’s finger trailed down her arm, following her veins, “you hold a key inside of you, you herald the end.”

“You don’t make sense!” Josephine said, swinging a flat palm against the elf’s hood, snapping the sage’s head back momentarily. The elf didn’t seem phased as he finished his mad rant, “ask the music player, ask him what he knows… He can tell you, and you will hear. You are not Josephine, you’re all dead. You were all dead, I saw it “

Josephine shot up from her seat, eager to escape the mad rantings. The elf jumped to his feet, “blood trickled from your cold mother’s mouth, dead from consumption, and your father cried over her. You were unborn and in her womb, as dead as she was, I knew it, I felt it. A dark curse, an evil spell formed from your father, and you both were alive again, but not the same as those who had just died. You are not Josephine, Sophia was not Sophia when she birthed you, and it was not your true father whose eyes saw your birth.”

“Just stop it!” Josephine yelled, slapping her palms to her ears. Her head was spinning, and as much as she believed she was listening to the mad ramblings of a man who had grown insane in the forest, her mind seemed to bleed with belief and stressed his words as the truth. She choked on her breath and started breathing heavily, her chest pounding up and down. Her lungs started to burn with anxiety and her heart palpitated. She felt like she was going to float away into a spinning vortex. Her toes and fingers pricked with pins and needles as her chest grew cold, then all at once, she collapsed to the ground, her breath shuddering heavily to and fro from her open lips.


The Sage stood over the princess as the troops started to pour in from the walls. The Elf pulled back his hood to reveal a wrinkled face, etched with fear and many sleepless nights. He pointed down at the unconscious princess and yelled at the troops, waving his other arm frantically, “They hold our strings in hand! This is their game! This is theirs!”

A guard raised a notched arrow and the sage jutted a palm towards the man, as if silencing him, “come take a look! but watch your steps! It’s not real! nothing is true!”

The elf started ripping at his scalp, “we’ve crossed the line, we’ve crossed the line.”
A trickle of red graced his bald head as he started to cry, “breath it in, suck up the lies, you fools! This isn’t real!”

He turned Josephine onto her back with his foot and looked down at her, “she will breach the lie, she holds the key.”

A mind splitting sound ringed in the approaching garrison’s ears, forcing them to stop and scratch at their helmets to silence the piercing shriek. The Elves lips moved silently behind the screech as the guards started to fall to the ground. Blood began to drip from the nose and ears of the elf and dotted Josephine's dress as he continued his silent yell behind the ear cracking whine.

A loud crack rippled from the elf, and a wave of unseen force shoved the kneeling guards back with a powerful clatter. The sage's eyes rolled up into the back of his head and as he slowly fell to the ground, mouth agape in a silent yell, the screech subsided.

The elf's body landed next to Josephine's with a thud, and blood pooled around his head, and out from his ears. A soft gurgle still vibrated from his throat, as if fate granted him one last objection to his sudden death.


A soft warm breeze much like the forest's own summer gusts perched itself on Josephine's mouth. Her body remained unmoving aside from the soft ups and downs of her quiet breathing and swelling lungs. An eye flickered unseen behind her thin eyelids, and soon one burst open, trauma sketched across her visage.

Her single eye dilated and refocused with the light pouring from the azure sky. The scene would have felt almost relaxing, if not for what lead up to it, or the quickly chilling body of a crazed elf lying beside her.

Her vision flickered from the sky to see Gennisberg who had rushed to her aid, a twist of worry on his face. The clambering of guards removing the elven body, and the others yelling for the garrison medic cut the scene back into the state of panic it had started in. Josephine opened her mouth, but no words came out. Instead she rolled to her knees, eager to back on her feet.
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Hidden 4 yrs ago Post by Afina
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Day 8 - The Imperial Palace Garrison

Each day that passed seemed to drag by as if someone had stopped the hour glass from letting the sand fall; Regalia went through the motions each day. Rising, walking, sitting but nothing changed and she was becoming restless. Nights were progressing worse than the days, sleep was coming but it was bombarded by the nightmare each rise of the moon; it had become so real that she awoke in terror some mornings. Freezing from the water, drenched in perspiration; clinging to rough sheets that gave no comfort. She dared not think to what it could mean; dreams to her were just reminders of the past and some things she wanted to leave behind.


No word had come from the palace about her information and she wondered if she would ever find out what happened or if she had been lost in some shuffle of war and power. She had no ties to a nation, no one to vouch for her other than Traders and pieces of parchment that could speak of her yesterday but not today. So there she stood, another day in the making, staring out the slit of stone that was called a window; searching the sky for any change and wishing she was back out in the open, free to do what she chose once again but there she was; the caged bird and she refused to sing.


Sitting down on the edge of her bed, her back hunched over as she stared blankly at the floor; arms resting on her knees as her hair fell over her features and hid the emptiness that was a constant in her life right then. Perhaps if she had her blade it wouldn’t have been so terrible, then she could have at least done something even if that was just practicing foot techniques she had mastered decades ago. Regalia understood why she was not allowed to have it but she couldn’t help but think it was ludicrous. What, was she going to take out an entire garrison with a single blade and hope to live? Drawing a sigh between parted lips she sat there, alone and waiting for word of anything. Even an execution to her would have been more favorable than the silence.


Heavy footfalls clicked and clacked outside of the woman's’ door; this was not unusual and could be passed off as a marching guard or a rushing recruit. The slight difference to these foot falls was their abrupt stop at the door, and the faint click of the metal releasing from the latch.


The oaken door swung on it’s thick hinges and a pounding flood of light soaked through the opened portal, revealing a shadowy figure, flanked by a slightly larger silhouette. Regalia drew a deep sigh wondering what they guard wanted down, she had been fed and it was not time for her daily stroll as of yet through the lovely garrison. Righting herself she turned her head, her eyes adjusting to the flood of light that fell into the room. A thin brow raising as she saw the figures standing before her, not able to make out their features as of yet.

Slowly stepping forward the slightly shorter of the two silhouetted figures moved into the light, a broad smile coming over his features as he looked down at her; finally seeing her after all these years and believing that the seas had taken her away so long ago was more of a shock than he had expected. She looked older but had not lost any of the majesty that had drawn him to her all those years ago.

Regalia froze in her place, her complexion going pale as if she had just seen a ghost; royal blue eyes widened in disbelief as she looked at the man that was standing before her. A hand reaching out and bracing her against the side of the bed as she tried to stand up but faltered, “Tseng?..” she whispered as he stepped forward and wrapped an arm around her waist to keep her from toppling over. “No, you’re dead,” she said in a hushed voice as she reached up and touched his cheek with trembling fingers. As she felt his skin she quickly pushed out of his arms and stumbled back onto the bed, rolling over onto the floor on the opposite side.

Slowly her fingers grasped the sheets and she peaked her head up from behind the nonexistent protection of the mattress. “What is this madness?” she asked quickly looking over towards the other shadowy figure in the door.

“Prince Varun,” George said simply as he stepped in from the other side of the door frame. The Imperial Prince shrugged after that, “he says he knows you, I figured it would be better to let you two figure out by what madness than me trying to explain it, being the third party of the situation.”

“Who?” Regalia asked confused by what he was trying to get at. Varun had to place his hand over his mouth to keep from laughing outright at her reaction.

“Well that wasn’t exactly the reaction I was hoping for,” Varun said chuckling as he looked over to the Imperial Prince. Turning he looked back over to Regalia and sighed. “It’s a long story my Captain.”

Regalia slid back slowly until she was pressed against the cold stone wall of her cage, sliding up it as she righted herself and stood up fully, the look of confusion still there but the color was slowly returning to her features. “Prince Varun? I… well…” she stammered as she tried to wrap her mind around what exactly was happening. Taking a long breath, she composed herself and pushed her hair out of her face. “Then you might want to explain yourself,” she said flatly as she eyed this man who claimed to be someone she had lost so long ago. Varun nodded, letting out a slight huff, this wasn’t going to be pretty.

“Perhaps we could have a moment alone so I can explain to my fiancé just what is going on,” Varun suggested to the Crown Prince. He did not want to keep the man waiting and he knew it was going to take a while for him to fill Regalia in on the last ten years.

George nodded silently and backed out, closing the door and shutting himself from the scene. Varun thanked him and then turned his attention back towards Regalia; still keeping herself against the wall and muttering a quiet protest to being left alone with this ghost that was standing in front of her. Varun sighed deeply as he stepped over towards the chair and seated himself down, trying to figure out where to start.

“Regalia, I know it is hard to believe but it’s me,” he said rubbing his face roughly with his hands. “I had a similar reaction when Yursuyp informed me that you were still alive,” he began. Regalia perked a brow and crossed her arms over her chest as she listened. Leaning back in the chair, it creaking slightly under his wait he continued. Telling her of the battle that had taken the Maelstrom, how he was rescued; ages spent searching for her until he eventually gave up and crawled back to his country. Regalia remained silent as he spoke but gradually she pushed herself off the wall, removing her white leathered gloves as she did so and coming over to him.

Suddenly her eyes narrowed and her hand connected with his face open palmed, slapping him hard. Varun took the slap as his eyes closed. “That is for lying to me!” she snapped before turning her back to him.

“I should have expected that,” he said rubbing his cheek. “You know, if anyone else struck me they would be in the stockade already.”

“You think I care?” she said as she kept her back to him; even though she was relieved that he was alive he was livid to think that all these years he never felt it once necessary to tell her who he truly was.

“No, I know you don’t but Regalia, please believe me that the reason I never told you was because that was my past. I never intended to return to that life. It was a last resort after I thought I had lost you,” he said as he rose from his chair and stepped over to her; placing a hand on her shoulder. “I planned on living out my days on the Maelstrom. As far as I was concerned Tseng was me, not Prince Varun.”

Regalia sighed deeply and reached up; placing her hand over his and then removing his touch from her body. “You need to leave,” she said as she dropped her hand from his.

“Leave? You can’t be serious?” he said surprised.

“Do I sound like I am joking Tseng, Varun, whoever you claim to be,” she muttered. Varun stepped in front of her and saw a sight he had never witnessed; Regalia had several tears running down her cheeks. Even when her father had died, she had not shed a tear. He did not know how to react. “Get out,” she said refusing to look him in the eye.

“The hell I will. I just found you, I will be damned if I turn around and walk away now,” he retorted quickly. “Yes, I never told you who I truly was, I couldn’t. I didn’t want to go back, I was happy where I was and who I was with. If I had ever thought that this day would come I would have told you long ago,” he said as he grabbed her by the shoulders.

“So, if you had known you would have been caught, then you would have told me but if not I would have died never knowing the truth?” she said in a cold voice as she locked eyes with him. Varun was taken back and sighed as he lowered his head slightly.

“Yeah…” he muttered. “I should have told you, I just never knew how to start the conversation. Hey, love, guess what, I am a prince, want to run away together and be a princess?” he said chuckling softly as he raised his head and looked at her.

“Yes, exactly like that,” she said quickly and he looked at her shocked.

“You are trying to tell me it wouldn’t have bothered you?” he asked as he stood there.

“Oh it would have, just like it is now but at least I would have known. You know, finding out in my own stateroom, on my ship, instead of locked up here like a criminal after thinking you were dead for the last ten years and then suddenly you pop out of the ground, like a daisy with a name I have never heard leave your lips. You know, circumstances being what they are. Had I known who you were, that would have been the first place I looked,” she snapped.

“Well…you got me there,” he said. “Regalia, I am so sorry,” he continued. “I never meant for who I was trying not to be to keep us apart. And if you’ll still have me, I plan on taking the rest of my life making it up to you,” he said reaching up and tucking her hair behind her ear.

“Who are you really? Some prince from a distant land or the first mate of the Maelstrom?” she asked as she stood there, not really moved by his words.

“I may have been born a prince but I am and forever will be your first mate Captain,” he said with a reassuring smile. “I gave that up to find who I was. I found that on the deck of the Maelstrom. I just happen to be born in the right place at the right time for some stupid title I care nothing about. Never have.”

“And where do we go from here?” she asked him, wondering what all this would mean for any future if she could bring herself to trust him again.

“I…well….have promised my father that I would retrieve you and come back home.”

“You have got to be kidding me, like any nation would allow their prince to be with a common corsair. Have you been dipping into the wine again?” she asked incredulously.

“I am telling you truth Regalia. My nation is not like others. We do not care for title when we marry, we look at a person for who they are. We judge them on their merits, their knowledge and their ability; for me there is no one that can even compare.”

“So you expect me to leave her, put on some glossy gown and prance around some royal hall curtseying?” she asked, letting out a slightly amused huff from her lips. Varun laughed at the idea and shook his head.

“By the All Father, no. I expect you to be at my side as Princess and Mistress of Fleet in command of my nations navy and captain of the vessel which carries your name,” he said as he pulled her closer. “I would never think to keep you locked away in the walls of a castle or anywhere else. I know better than to place you in some gilded cage.”

Regalia perked a brow and nodded slightly as she looked at him, she wasn’t sure what to make of everything; still being in shock that he was real and not some ghost or a figment of a dream she was trapped in. Drawing a long breath she let a smile gradually fall over her features, she wasn’t completely convinced though that it was all real. Slowly her arms wrapped over his shoulders and she pressed her body to his, resting her head on his chest as she hugged him. Varun let out a sigh of relief and returned the embrace; knowing that if he pushed for more of what he had envisioned in his mind of how their reunion would have been she would have found some way to push him out the slit of a window on the wall.

“I am not letting you go again,” he said as he stood there. Regalia sighed, knowing he would have to. She was under contract with the Crown Prince and doubted this changed anything. As far as she knew, night would come, he would leave and she would still be caged.

“I am not leaving here Tse….Varun,” she said correcting herself. “I am under contract and until it is fulfilled, this is where I have to stay. There is nothing to change that and I do not know how long it will take,” she said as she leaned back and looked up at him.

“I see, well, perhaps you need to fill me in now on what all you have been getting yourself into over the last ten years,” he said with a smile on his features. “Like, how did you manage to get locked up in here?”

Hidden 4 yrs ago Post by Monkeypants
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The Purple Road (The Imperial Forest) -- Day 8


Boy was it a long trek, boring too. Fay couldn’t get that thought, that uneasy mentality that had drowned out the conversations of her comrades. She really felt alone at this point at the rear of the group. Fay continuously reminded herself that she didn’t care but of all people, she may have been far more worried than the rest.

Ahead there was a small garrison, finally a place to rest. “Not a moment too soon.” she said softly as the group entered the fort. She made her way quickly to the mess hall for a bite to eat. “Terrible” she said upon seeing the slop they had given her. Fay just didn’t seem to have any luck at this point. Long trek causing sore feet, this poor food and a gut feeling that things just weren’t right.

“Meh, fuck it.” she said before digging in. Her gag reflex was getting a run for its money as she tried hard to stomach this sludge they had happily prepared for her. Just as Fay began to adjust to the food, she could feel the stares. As her fork lowered, a tall and burly soldier made his way to her table. “Never had an elf before.” he said with a toothless grin. Fay cringed, “Doesn’t seem like that will change anytime soon.”

The soldier gently leaned over, trying to get a view down her top. Fay leaned back and with an angry scowl, “Seriously? fuck off.”

This soldier was persistent though, “Just one look.” he said, that toothless grin showing once more.

“No.” Fay said and then turned back to her meal.

“Oh, it’ll be ok little miss. no one has to know.” he said while moving around the table.

Fay wasn’t impressed at all and grew very uncomfortable when he attempted to rest his crotch upon her shoulder. “Alright, enough of this.” she said. Her moves were like lightning as her balled fist made contact with his chin and another to his groin. The soldier dropped to his knees in tears. She walked over him and gently kicked him over, “When a girl says no, you better listen.”

He never spoke after that which was fine with Fay, she didn’t need nor want an apology as the satisfaction from what she had physically done was more than enough. At this point though, Fay had lost her appetite so she took her bowl to the now scared cook. He nervously reached out for the bowl and with a shaky voice said softly, “Tha- Thank you.”

As she made her way outside, the sun lit her face and she basked in it for a while. The gentle breeze and warm air was pleasant and with the upcoming events, she tried to treasure every moment but commotion brought her from this dream. Fay piqued an eyebrow as the Sage began ripping his own face off. “What.. the… fuck” she said before sprinting towards Josephine and the Sage. Before she got close, a strange force sent her backwards and on to the ground. She shook her head, trying to figure out what was happening. Fay was quick to regain her balance and cautiously approached the confused princess and the now deceased sage.

With an outreached hand, Fay said softly, “Hey, it’ll be ok.”

A soft warm breeze much like the forest's own summer gusts perched itself on Josephine's red lips. Her body remained unmoving aside from the soft ups and downs of her quiet breathing and swelling lungs. An eye flickered unseen behind her thing eyelids, and soon one fluttered open with a wave of golden lashes.

Her single eye dilated and refocused with the light pouring from the azure sky. The scene felt almost relaxing, if not for what lead up to it, or the quickly chilling body of a crazed elf laying beside her.

Her gentle sapphires looked up at Fay, a twist of worry. The clambering of guards removing the elven body, and others yelling for the garrison medic cut the scene back into the state of panic it had started in. Josephine opened her mouth, but no words came out, and instead she lifted an open hand, grasping Fay’s, and pulling her down close slowly.

“ Are you sure?” the woman all but whispered with a labored voice parting her full lips.

Fay stared in to her eyes for a few moments, trying to figure out how to answer Josephine's question. She could nearly feel her pain from her eyes alone. “I.. Yeah, it’ll be ok. You have friends, Josephine, we’re here for you.” With a huff, she began to gently raise Josephine to her feet.

Josephine pulled on Fay as she straightened her posture until she was flat on her feet. The blood seemed to drain from her head as she was suddenly hit with a swirl of dizziness and discomfort. She took a few steps back to adjust to the dizzy momentum before standing firmly, yet weakly, in place.

She looked around, the guards were rushing here and there, while Das was seemingly arguing with a medic, the silent Sir Gennisberg standing next to him with his arms crossed. Her brow furrowed and she looked back at Fay, “I have a sudden terrible feeling in my gut about our trip.”

Fay looked about, assessing the situation. “I’m inclined to agree.” Before Josephine could make a comment, Fay quickly changed the subject. “How about some food. I know this great mess hall.” She said with a smile.

The princess put a hand against her grass stained dress, hovering it above her stomach. She frowned, “I feel as though I would throw up.” She said, whispering the last bit, as if protecting herself from embarrassment.
Hidden 4 yrs ago Post by Afina
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Imperial Garrison - Day 8

Pacing, ever pacing; Regalia swore she was going to create a rut in the flooring of the gilded cage which she had been locked in. Varun had listened to her tale of what had transpired over the last week that led to her being a special guest at the Imperial Palace and then promptly left once again, the door closing heavy on its frame and leaving her there alone once again. He had said nothing as he left, which caused worry but there was nothing she could do. Guards were still at the door and she was still secured in the garrison itself. Even if she had left the room she would have just ended up pacing in the field.

Using the time to think she began to slowly wrap her mind around everything that Tseng had told her, she was trying to refer to him as Varun but she doubted she would ever fully accept that name and knew it was going too led to a lot of confusion over the upcoming weeks and months. She didn’t see a prince when she looked at him, she viewed her First Mate. Wondering if that would ever change she left out a marginally frustrated huff from her lips that caused her hair to fluff and move out of her face as she waited; and paced, ever pacing.

“Regalia,” Varun said in a mild tone as the door opened, a soft whine of the iron hinges announcing his presence before he had. Stepping into the room he closed the door behind him and began to gather up her belongings. “Time to go,” he said as he turned his head to look at her. Regalia had a bemused expression on her face at his words.

“What did you say?” she asked quizzically.

“Did I stutter? I said it is time to go,” he said placing her bags on the bed.

“Care to explain?” Regalia inquired as she stepped over to the bed and looked over her things.

“I’m kidnapping you and taking you to another castle,” Varun said in a whispered tone. Regalias eyes widen in shock and stepped over to him, grabbing his shoulders and leaning in to speak in a hushed voice.

“Are you nuts? We are in the garrison of the Imperial Palace, you really think you can just waltz on in and sweep me away like it was nothing?”

“Yes,” Varun stated flatly as he pushed her hands away and continued to get her clothing rolled up and shoved haphazardly into her bag.

“Have you been drinking?” she asked as she grabbed his hand to slow him down from whatever cockamamie scheme he had running through that demented brain of his.

“Yes, yes I have. We brought a wonderful Red with us but I must admit my comrades in arms are right, pheasant goes better with White,” Varun said with a coy smile.

“You’re mad you know that?” she said as she grabbed her bags and tossed them back in the corner.

“Actually I have never felt happier,” he said as he turned and picked up the pile once again.

“You know what I mean,” she stated sharply. “You’re going to get us both killed,” she whispered in an annoyed voice as she snatched the bags back but Varun kept a good grip and pulled back as they ensued a tug-o-war over her possessions. “I’m not going anywhere.”

“Yes you are,” he said pulling back.

“No I’m not,” she retorted pulling the items back towards herself.

“Yes you are.”

“No I’m not,” she hissed.

“No you’re not,” he said as he pushed the items towards her.

“Yes I am,” she said as she shoved them.

“Good, we agree,” he said with a Cheshire grin.

“Ugh!” she exclaimed and sat down on the bed in a huff. “I am not going anywhere,” she said as she crossed her arms across her chest and glared at him.

“Oh yes you are sweetheart,” he said as he walked over to the door and opened it cautiously, seeing the guards were gone. “Coast is clear,” said as he glanced back over his shoulder. Regalias eyes widened, they had held their post this entire time, what had he done? Paid them off? The man was going to start a war. Seeing the expression on her face Varun could not hold back and fell out laughing as he leaned back against the door and slid to the ground, still holding the latch.

“What is so funny?” she snapped as he watched him, even more confused now than she had been. “Just how drunk are you?” Varun continued to laugh but eventually was able to contain himself as he wiped the tears that had been rolling down his cheeks.

“You,” he chuckled as he climbed to his feet. “And I am as sober as a church mouse,” he said walking over to her, still laughing somewhat. “I’m not breaking you out, you’ve been released,” he said before he erupted with laughter. Regalias eyed widened as he fell onto the bed holding his gut as he laughed. “Had you going didn’t I?”

“Oh! You! I! Grow up!” she hissed out of frustration as she grabbed her bags and shoved them into his chest. Varun just kept laughing. Her initial reaction of disbelief had been great, trying to talk him out of it even better but now, her knowing she was released was priceless. Taking a few deep breaths he tried to quickly explain what was going on but the continued chuckled made it difficult to make anything he said come out quickly. Eventually he was able to tell her that her contract had been fulfilled, she had been paid and was free to go as long as she was escorted by him.

Regalia grumbled as she grabbed her cloak and placed it over her shoulders, her eyes narrowed at him. “This isn’t over your adolescent twit!” she exclaimed. Varun just shrugged and took her arm, leading her out of her gilded cage.

“What no kiss for freeing you?” he joked. Regalia shot him a look out of the corner of her eye as he escorted her down the stairs to her horse and the rest of her belongings. “Alright, come on. My men are waiting for us,” he said as he led them out. Upon reaching the guards at the gate he handed over a piece of parchment that stated her release and they were let out without issue.

Eventually making their way to his men Regalia turned to look at Varun. “You said my contract was fulfilled, where is my payment?” she asked sternly. Varun smiled and held up a satchel before her. Regalia reached out to take it and he pulled it out of her reach. Rolling her eyes she held her hand out, demanding he hand it over.

“Payment for your rescue?” he teased.

“Hand it over Tseng,” she said as she stood there waiting.

“But I need this payment.”

“You’re a prince, you don’t need that.”

“And you’re going to be a princess, so what’s your is mine,” he retorted with a coy smile on his lips. Regalia shook her head, her blade that had finally been returned being drawn as she spun and cut it through the air. It slicing through the top of the bag and the rest of it and its contents falling into the palm of her hand as she sheathed it once again. “Good to see you haven’t lost your touch.”

“Who said I was going to marry you?” she retorted as she walked away from him and climbed onto her horse after securing her payment in her bags. Varuns men looked nervously for a moment, their weapons raised until Varun motioned for them to lower said weapons.

“Oh she has spirit! I think I am going to like her,” Flen said as he sheathed his sword and stepped over to Varun, patting him on the back slightly.

“Gentlemen, may I introduce Regalia Montoya,” Varun stated proudly as he gestured towards her.

“A pleasure to meet mi’lady,” Flen said as he gave a flourished bow. “I am Flen, sword master of our princes great nation.”

Regalia perked a brow as she took the reins and looked the group over. “If you are anything like your prince I am sure the pleasure is only yours,” she scowled.

“She always this pleasant?” Flen asked as he leaned closer to Varun.

“Caged bird syndrome,” Varun said before stepping over to Regalia. “You’re going to be mad at me a while aren’t you?”

“Yes,” she said flatly and Varun sighed. “Now, where to your majesty?”

“To my ship so we can make our way back home,” he said as he cracked a smile.

“Your home, not mine. Lead the way,” she said coldly and Varun.

“No offense, but why are you being so cold to our wonderful prince who has freed you from the confines of your imprisonment?” Flen asked and Varun shook his head, his hands motioning to shut up. Flen looked at him perplexed for a moment and then rubbed his temples. “What did you do?”

“Oh, no reason. Save lying to me for years that he was some low born man by the name of Tseng, never telling me he was a prince. And trying to convince me he was breaking me out of the garrison and kidnapping me to bring me to my freedom. No reason what so ever,” Regalia answered directly. Flens eyes widened as he looked over towards the prince.

“You didn’t…” he asked. Varun sighed and that was all Flen needed to know. “Sire…you are in so much trouble…”

“I know….I know….” Varun conceded. “But it was a good laugh, right?” Varun asked as he looked over towards Flen. “You know, looking back on it, we will laugh about this right?” Flen shook his head and slowly stepped back.

“Oh I am not getting in the middle of this. Sorry Sire, you may be prince but she’s a sword wizard. I ain’t crossing blades with the captain of the Maelstrom. I might be reckless but I am not stupid,” he said before turning and mounting his horse.

“Wise man,” Regalia said as she waited for the rest to mount up. Varun rubbed his temples before he did and sighed. Climbing onto his horse he looked over to Regalia and then Flen.

“All this to find her and I still haven’t gotten a kiss,” he grumbled.

“I have a feeling you’re lucky to be breathing,” Flen laughed.

“Ugh, okay, okay. My humor just isn’t appreciated. Let’s go,” he said as he nudged his horse forward and the rest followed suit as they made their way towards the shore where the ship was awaiting to take them back home.


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