Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by ZB1996
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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Klomster
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Klomster The man, the myth, the legend.

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Ressurection.


It hurt to open his eyes, the light was very bright even as he realized it was just two measly candles lighting the room. The orbs of light was shooting spears of light into his vision.
He shut his eyes and took a deep breath, a decision he immediately regretted since it hurt like crazy.
The wince he uttered alerted the people in the room, which was one of the fist's barber surgeons and Katrina.

-"CLAUS, YES!!!" Came the overly joyous shout from Katrina whom ran up to the steelhead pushing the surgeon out of the way assaulting Claus with a hug.
-"OW!!!" Claus yelled out with a penetrating voice which was heard several rooms over. He grunted and sat up, forcing Katrina off him as she suddenly got a massively sheepish look on her face.
He was going to shout at her when Roogel came through the door, got a look of happiness on his face followed by his deep and hearty laugh as he too rushed forth with arms outstretched.
Claus actually panicked, this was the moment he dies. Hugged to death by Roogel, that damnable oaf.
Roogel however stopped right at the side of the bed and offered his hand, just after pretending to go through with the bear hug.

-"Hahahaa! I've never seen that sort of fear in your eyes in battle! Am i that scary?" Roogel boomed out as he and his captain shared a well practised handshake.
-"The prospect of combat is a relief compared to your affection Roogel." Claus said to his friend with one of his telltale smirks on his lips. This time, it was much of the left side of his face which was yellow with bruising.

Clearly annoyed the surgeon spoke.
-"Seeing you don't need my expertise to allow yourself to move the perhaps mortally wounded patient, i'll just say that your wounds are miraculously mostly bruises sir. You were lucky that the elephants head didn't land a bit different. Or its skull would have crushed your torso. Now it was only the trunk and parts of the mouth which had laid upon your body. The armour helped keep the weight off your body but you would not have survived much longer had our young blacksmith not pulled you out."
Now both Roogel and Katrina looked a bit sheepish, Claus gave the surgeon a nod before speaking.
-"Thank you for your skills. I probably need more medical personnel like you in the future. And you two.... status report!" The order was barked in his usual tone, his bandaged torso hurt a little but he felt that nothing was broken.

-"You have been out for most of a day, the Manshrew forces moved out the same day you went down sir. We have reports they will join with concord forces in battle at any time now." Roogel answered.
-"Right, seems like we will be late for the party. Surgeon, can i move?" Claus said while sitting up, it hurt but it didn't hurt too much in the bad ways.
The barber surgeon just gave a look like he gave up before the Remonnets to the throne before history, like he was taught that look by the dwarves.
-"Yes, as you have proven you can move. Miraculously nothing was broken, your wounds are mostly bruising from jumping off a castle gate and then being trampled by the largest elephant in Formaroth followed by being flung into a stone wall. There was some damage from not being able to breathe properly for almost a day as well, but that will fix itself." Now Claus felt a bit sheepish as well, but the surgeon was right. Claus had miraculously not died while pulling that insane stunt off, hearing it stated like that also reminded him of what a stupid idea it was.
The surgeon then saluted and left with a shake of the head and a deep sigh.
Katrina opted in at that point.

-"I looked over your armour, it needed a bit of bending but most of the pieces are mostly right.... mostly...... SIR!" As she spoke she sounded happy, when she was done she noticed Claus staring at her with that skeptical look and added a mostly. A short moment later she realized her fault and shouted sir at which he was satisfied and stopped staring.
-"Good, since i want out of this place sooner than later. Lady Tuania will be all too happy to see us disappear and i will be happy to oblige." Claus stated while beginning to stand up. He had been undressed to only his breeches and began to locate his clothes.

-"We are moving out? What about the fortress?" Roogel questioned, followed by his captains answer.
-"The manshrew army will need all their men to face the army of the concord. Which means even if he wanted to, Andrew could not leave a part of his force to keep the siege going since splitting his forces would weaken it too much. So his plan is to face the concords army and then return to siege Clarm."
He paused while taking on his boots, then went on.
-"So i think while he is out fighting, we can strike him from the side. And then retreat back into Clarm quicker than his army can follow us. Provided he even has an army after the battle that is."
Roogel rubbed his beard and asked.
-"Risky, won't his light cavalry harass us as we retreat back to Clarm?"

-"Good point, but the thing is that we will move through the forests. We are far better suited for that terrain than cavalry. We can probably make good our escape with ease." Claus put in as he moved up to his now scraped armour. It wasn't just the visor that looked a bit sad at the moment.
-"Fair enough, your intuition usually works out boss." Roogel put in seemingly satisfied. He began to help Claus into his armour. Getting a few winces here and there.

Moving out.


The order was given, the Steel fist was moving out from Clarm. Marching with a brutal purpose in mind and it was noticeable. The fist was going to strike at Andrew's forces for putting them through this siege. And alliance heads would roll in vengeance for their comrades.
Claus simply stole a great sword from Clarm's armoury, hoping they wouldn't notice. Seeing he had made sure the stronghold held in the face of the entire army of the alliance, he figured they owed him at least a bit.

It wasn't with any remorse the Telmarian's watched the Steel fist leave Clarm. Cathryn was hoping to never see the brutes ever again and the troops never got along too well with the mercenaries.

The march was a quick one, and Claus was alerted that he was closing in on the battle from his scouts.
They arrived at a crucial point of the battle, as the concord forces were enveloping the Manshrew forces. This formed a plan in Claus's head.
The steel fist set up in the forest line in the distance, they were sure they hadn't been detected.
-"Do we engage immediately?" Roogel asked getting ready for a fight.
-"No, i have a better plan. Redeploy to the north." Claus ordered, sending out runners to try and keep themselves hidden.
-"The north?" Roogel asked. Followed by Claus's grinning answer.
-"Their forces are beaten, look at them. So we are going for..." Claus kept the ending of his sentence up for guessing, but Roogel quickly got it.
-"Their supply train!" Now Roogel was also grinning. He added.
-"Strike them where it hits the hardest, suits them right."

Terror.


Andrew was hurriedly keeping pace, while simultaneously trying to make sure his forces were getting away from the concords army gorging on the poor souls which were trapped in the imperial ploy.
If he stopped to think, he was sure he'd be overcome with sadness. So he never stopped, helped one man, gave orders to others. But as time went on they were closing an area of road close to a treeline, the northern road. They were getting away.
Relief was setting in for a few, for most the edge of the panic was smoothed off, they could see a few of their supply wagons which was already beginning to move.

Then the all too familiar war horn sounded, a three voiced call.
The unmistakeable call of the master of the Steel fist. As it felt like time was slowing down Andrew looked to the tree-line as black banners were the precursors of the line of gleaming plate armoured halberdiers. With a great sword in hand the form of Claus himself stood out pointing his commands. Which would echo in the memories of hundreds of people. Nightmares from the time when they almost got away.

-"Seize the supply train, capture as many as possible! They stand no chance!!!!" The voice of Claus echoed across the area, a volley of crossbows went off. Exhausted, many were knocked out as blunt wooden tipped bolts slammed into the fleeing soldiers and people of the supply train.
With a chilling single shout in perfect unison, the arrayed wall of halberds charged in a perfect line. The drill and skill of the fists corps-men was an unnatural sight to many.

They slammed into fleeing people, hammering people down with the shafts of their weapons, hooking their legs and arms and thus felling many. Crossbowmen ran up to those that were felled to tie them down as the halberdiers didn't even stop after felling their quarries.
Panic was now widespread within the fleeing alliance forces, Andrew saw how some of his troops were running directly west to try and get away from the terrifying mercenaries instead of keeping up north.
This would ultimately trap them, thinking quick Andrew began to shout orders to make sure as many of his people followed him personally north.

Claus then saw him, Andrew.
With sword in hand, desperately trying to rally his forces to make a break for the northern road. Typically the honorable sod Claus thought. His liking of Andrew slightly tarnished after the siege.
He was the perfect price, and Claus would seize it personally.
-"Andrew! We meet again!" Claus boomed out, took a spear lying on the ground and threw it in front of Andrew so it stuck just a metre or so i front of him, waggling menacingly in the ground.
Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by Wraithblade6
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Wraithblade6 Interrogator Chaplain

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Fate in All Things


Morning had just broken over the imperial camp and the first few rays of sunlight crept their way over the horizon. Despite this the encampment was already bustling with the many tens of thousands of Imperial soldiers preparing themselves for battle. It was chaotic to say the least. Patrick had ordered everyone be ready and in formation by the crack of dawn so they could arrive at Clarm by mid-day. Evennis was busy nursing his hangover that he had gained from the night before. The battalion officers were making this very difficult with them constantly yelling at their soldiers to get in line. Evennis hoped that the march to Clarm would clear his head, after all fighting with a hangover was never a good idea, he had once tried it back when he was fighting in the Grand Arena and it had made the battle considerably harder, not that his opponent had a chance either way. As Evennis looked out into the encampment a figure caught his eye: A man clad in full plate armour riding into camp. Judging from his armour and appearance it was clear he wasn’t part of any of the great houses armies nor was he a mercenary. Perhaps he was part of Lycaon’s brigade, though Evennis doubted it. Either way he had peaked his interest and Evennis decided it would be best to investigate, after all it beat just waiting around for his hangover to heal.

Horse: i.skyrock.net/1426/77991426/pics/2998…

The rone white fur in the otherwise chestnut coat of the tall, young steed shimmered like gold in the early rays of the morning light as it bore the knight aloft at a lazy stride. Unadorned silver-colored plate shone with the image of the eclipsed sun, the corona radiata, upon its chest. A simple white cloak draped partly over the rhythmically shifting hips of the animal like a harlot's skirt, reaching up to the knight's shoulders in a caress that offered a degree of warmth to them both as the cold, night air began to give way to the dawn.

Eclipse rode with his helm fixed behind him, but within easy reach. His own, lion-like hair put his sunlit horse to shame. He carried a sword and shield as was typical for many of the knights and soldiers preparing for the grand battle. A retinue of knights rode at his sides, seemingly oblivious to the minor divinity that appeared to be in their midst. Either by enchantment or by order, they were under his command, and Eclipse regarded them as both soldiers and brethren in one.

So perfect was this visage that one might have thought he had stepped out of one of the classical paintings that so often hung in the grand halls of nobles. In reality, such picturesque warriors more often than not amounted to little worth on the battlefield, yet a trained eye could appreciate the lethality of this assumption. Inconsistencies in the light's play across the armor could be seen where previous dents had been hammered out. The easy sway of the knight's hips in time with the steed's stride, the broad shoulders, and the fine lines in his hands all spoke of years of past experience and training. Nothing about this knight was new, except perhaps for the banner of the Order of St. Elenor he rode under.

Eclipse cast his gaze about the thousands of troops gathered before him and marvelled at the vastness of the king's army. If this was any sign, then Duncan DeRemier was surely loved. Eclipse reflected. It had been the same with Lord Manshrew many years ago, the very man that they now rode to suppress, perhaps even, to slay. Eclipse tarried his horse and allowed his gaze to drift upward as he subconsciously sought divine reaffirmation of his purpose. Order. Order must be established and maintained. Even the gods will this. He recalled his meeting with the king and with the reverened Lord Lycaon. As far as he could tell, they were sane and honorable men, and he struggled to see why the great Manshrew would oppose them. Perhaps the old war hero, and his own former general, had lost his mind.

Eclipse dropped his gaze to find a pained expression on the face of a man approaching him.

As Evennis approached the man it was clear that his initial assumption was correct. This man was indeed part of the church of Klebrithy, though his armour and sigil were different from the Elenor knights that accompanied him.
“Well met friend” Evennis said with a slight smirk as he gave the man a over exaggerated bow “may I ask whom I have the pleasure of addressing” he continued with a slight hint of sarcasm in his voice.

Eclipse looked down at the man who had spoken, regrettably unable to do anything about their difference in stature from horseback. At first glance, the man appeared to be well built, a good fighter, perfectly caught between the ages of youthful vitality and aged experience, and exceptionally polite. His exact demeanor was difficult to judge in light of the early hour and impending inevitable bloodshed, and so Eclipse withheld any. Only the naive and insane could ever be comfortable before battle. Eclipse understood that such tensions could only be soothed with grace.

“Hail brother.” The knight replied with even tone. “I am Eclipse, servant of The Eight. I am in command of this regiment of knights loyal to the Order of Saint Elenor and to the gods’ chosen king. Please tell me, friend, when I praise the gods after this battle is won, who should I tell them fought righteously by my side?” Eclipse gave a slight smile as he creatively asked Evennis to identify himself in return.

Evennis gave a sly smile as he responded “I am Evennis, some random guy with a hangover. Tell me do you plan to join the rest of the churches forces on the front lines, or is a man of your...rank required elsewhere” Evennis said. More than often the fancy knights who spoke the loudest and stood out the most were the ones who would end up the furthest away from combat.

Eclipse’s expression was appropriately solemn. He respected the men that were about to die and expected nothing different. After a moment, he replied with all seriousness as though he were reminding himself with his own words, ”The only true worship of Timtos occurs in battle, and so this is also our duty. My place is by my brothers’ sides, and together we will not falter.” Heartened by these words, the knight suddenly broke out an unexpected smile, a unbidden sparkle of hope that shot through the ice between himself and Evennis. It was small, but carried with it a sense of understanding and promise of trust.

Rumors had it there was a knight among Lycaon’s men that had come to him with a great following from the west, that this man had thrown away his former identity and titles, and bore a unique name that could only have come from the southern lands. So far, this Eclipse had said nothing of his rank or titles or lordships. He hadn’t even spoken of himself as “sir.” Could this be that man?

“Lord Evennis.” Eclipse interrupted any ongoing thoughts. “I am in search of my brothers and of the Lord Lycaon of the holy order. My men and I are ready to fight and to fulfill our oaths to gods and country. If you can, please direct us to the front line.”

Evennis was surprised, it seemed he had misjudged Eclipse, this man truly intended to fight on the front lines where the fighting would be at its fiercest.
“I am no lord, sir but I too will be on the front lines. Afterall this will be the biggest battle in decades and I do not intend to disappoint Timtos by cowering at the back of the battlefield. If it is Lord Lycaon you seek he and his men have already taken position on the front lines, just outside of the encampment. It will be easy to recognize them, afterall they do stand out a bit from the rest of the militia” Evennis returned a smile to Eclipse as he spoke. If Eclipse did intend to fight on the front lines there was a fair chance he wouldn’t survive. Most of Lycaon’s brigade was poorly equipped and had next to no training. Evennis himself planned to fight near the Blackwell dragonguard, his chances of survival were much better fighting alongside them.

“I thank you my friend. I go now to join them, and I leave you with the only words of salvation that I have to give. Remember the gifts of Jykher and Othys, and the commands of the most holy Leplo, ‘Once your enemy lies defeated, you should also avoid hurting him.’” Eclipse saluted with a fist across his chest. “For the Eight. For order.” Then, the angelic sun that was the blonde paladin turned with his company and made for their place beside Lycaon’s poorly prepared brigade.



Eclispe sat mounted aside his ragtag cohort of knights from Ralda and his new brethren from within the Order of St. Elenor. He beheld with stoicism Sir Lycaon as he began an inspirational speech to prepare the uninitiated for their first, and possibly last, battle. The grandmaster of the order was very much like himself, in a way. He was fair of hair, a righteous and noble figure, and capable of inspiration with but his unwavering glare. Yet there seemed to be a hollowness to his words in that stark morning light, as if the man didn't didn't hold any true belief in what he was saying.

Eclipse showed no outward sign of reaction as he questioned the validity of Lycaon's claims. Andrew Manshrew was ignoble? A slaver? This wasn't the man he had known. Of course, such things surely had to be said of the enemy when going to war against them, and Manshrew had in fact chosen war. Perhaps it was true, and the man had fallen from grace. The dark gods have unfortunately broken once noble men many times before, may their souls find forgiveness. Try as he might to hold out for a worthy excuse for Manshrew to act as he did, Eclipse couldn't think of any legitimate reason for him to have turned against the good King DeRemier. The grating curiosity nonetheless wouldn't leave him in peace.

Seeing the elephants successfully dispatched with the miracle of magic heartened even virgin warriors, and under the halo of flying arrows arching down upon the light infantry before them, the men and women of the holy order bravely began their charge. Steed, and armor, strength, and skill gave Eclipse a disproportionate edge against the enemy among his allies, and he was keenly aware of it. He felt a sense of displacement as the fighting began at the front, that even though he charged and struck and trampled, he didn't belong there. His duty was not to waste himself grinding the rabble and fodder that the enemy threw in front of itself like a shield of meat. No. He had to be more effective than that. He was made to do more than that. "Gods use me." The white knight whispered in prayer as he looked up in an opportune moment of stillness between attacks, straining to see whatever it was the gods wanted him to realize. The motion of hundreds of bodies and flashing blades all around him was blinding, causing friend and foe to blend with each other in a visual cacophony. Quickly, Eclipse made out the images of Sir Daeleth and Lord Lycaon, a young woman defending herself with axe and shield, and just beyond them, the approach of Lannistark soldiers. He knew what he had to do.

Manshrew's reinforcements had arrived, the heavy infantry influx causing a vigorous surge in the fighting. Soldiers were falling at an accelerating rate and the line began to push back in favor of the Manshrew forces. As unexpected as a bolt of lightning in the blue, a gleeming silver streak of metal atop rippling golden muscle burst at full charge from an odd angle past the forward melee and careened directly onto a Lannistark commander. "For Timtos!" Like a lance, Eclipse' halberd drove mercilessly into the flank of the man and instantly unhorsed him, the jarring impact bringing the man's steed down on top of him to follow. The surrounding enemy soldiers struggled to control their mounts as they prepared to deal with the foolish knight who had dared to dive so deeply apart from his allies into their higher ranks. Having lost his halberd, Eclipse drew his dwarven steel sword and raised it high as his adrenaline-fueled horse reared up to strike at the other horses around itself, driving them back. "For Formaroth!" A heated mounted combat ensued as Eclipse was promptly joined by a few of his fellows that had followed him closely ever after events in Ralda and took his lead to unsettle enemy command.

These valiant break-aways were few, however, and the distraction they provided was brief, although they did manage to sap some of the momentum of the enemy's sweeping advance. Instinctively coalescing into a defensive formation, the knights held their ground for the most part, aside from the constant jarring and drifting that occurred as they circled around each other and their enemies. Blows were traded, and wounds given and received. Yet, despite their efforts, the call for a retreat sounded behind them. The knights of the holy order were pulling back. Alarmed by the unexpected order, Eclipse stole a glance at the surrounding battle for a tactical assessment and realized that he and his men were about to be left stranded behind enemy lines.

Retreating. It felt like a betrayal. Was any cause worth taking lives over not also worth giving your own? Of course it was, for that was justice. That was honor, and it was owed to the enemy. Yet turning tail and beating a tear back to safer waters wasn't without its complications and costs. A sudden flash of steel in the corner of his eye, and Eclipse deftly parried an attack aimed at the back of his head behind himself at the last second. Doing so, cost him a moment of precious time that he hadn't given an order. In a moment of personal indecision, one of his knights suddenly broke formation and darted off for Lycaon's brigade, but his steed was tired, and he was immediately surrounded and felled, unable to defend himself from two sides at once. "Kenneth!" Eclipse cried out in vain, unable to spare his sight to even watch the man's demise as he was forced to continue his own fight for survival against one of Manshrew's mounted combatants. His circle was now reduced to five. "Hold your ground!" The paladin ordered at last as he realized what they must do. He kept fighting. "Our lives belong to each other! To the Eight! We fight to the end!" Like an infection, Eclipse's unwaivering conviction spread to everyone around him, his words causing an awakening of dormant strength in even the animals they rode upon. They didn't want to die, but somehow fear of it drained from thier blood in acceptance of the inevitable. A resolution solidified in their hearts, and an uncanny confidance steadied their hands. Maybe a man would eventually go down, but he'd die before he saw the brother next to him go down. With the prayer for deliverance unspoken on their lips, the Knights of Eclipse turtled up with the glint of mad zealots in their eyes.

The men of Cawanor came, as did the Anjervine cavalry, former enemies now turned ally in common purpose, and the tides of war shifted back as the trap was sprung. Time passed infinitely slowly. So many had died. The Manshrew forces had gone into full retreat, fighting no longer to advance, but only to escape. The battle was over, the victor declared, and it was only right to allow this enemy to slink back and lick its wounds. They were our brothers afterall, people of Formaroth, not some invading, non-human species, and they deserved mercy. To deny them this would be to curse the entire country forever to be fractured, brother against brother, depending on what lands they had been born in and what side of the war those lands had been on. Hard feelings would linger for centuries like an illness, poisoning the future kingdom and feeding the spread of dark influence.

"Stop!"

A voice cut straight into Claus' ear with the heart-stopping boom of an angry father. A lone knight, armor battered, both he and his horse tainted with blood, strode up suddenly to come between the mercenary captain and the target he had only ever dreamed of killing. Eclipse was alive, and although he bore the pattern of the holy order on his barding, it was against Claus that he faced off. Putting his back to Andrew, Eclipse glanced over his shoulder at the would-be rebel king from atop his bleeding but still beautiful steed. The knight's look was knowing, and disapproving, yet he said nothing to Manshrew except to unexpectedly dismount and push the reigns in his direction, offering an easy escape. Not even looking back to see if the man took them, the blonde knight stepped toward Claus with sword in hand. "You are Sir Rotstein, leader of the Steel Fists, are you not? You enrage the gods with this act of dishonor! To prey upon the wounded and fleeing after their defeat! These are people of the future kingdom of Formaroth, our brothers and neighbors! The battle is over. There is nothing to be had here save for the seeds of resentment and bitterness. Leave these people their food and belongings so that they may survive this. Heed Leplo the Mercygiver, call off your men, or I shall be forced to remove you from command."
Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by Klomster
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Klomster The man, the myth, the legend.

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From nowhere, a paladin had come, stood in the way of capturing Andrew and had the nerve to threaten him with relief of command? This was highly unexpected and in a way funny to him, were it not for the fact the fool was hindering his men from getting their hard earned loot and the capture of lord Andrew.
-"I am Claus Rotstein, commander of the Steel Fist, second son of Adolf Rotstein, general of the concord forces in the east... who are you to take away command from me?" Claus boomed out.

-"I am Eclipse, sir Eclipse Kornova, Justicar, The Merciful, The Brave, Oathbreaker, Rider of Unicorns, Lightmaker, Favored of Leplo, Tideturner, Defender of Legon Pass, The Patient, Battlefield Redeemer. Knight of the order of st Elenor." The paladin voiced with power, seeing this was a good delaying tactic.

Claus rather annoyed right now added in.
-"You forgot massive twat!... Get out of the way or it's you who will need the blessing of Leplo!" It was here he noticed a bunch of his men had stopped to watch the exchange, furious Claus roared.
-"What are you doing!!? Don't listen to him, Andrew is getting away!" His troops were already moving but it seemed that the fool might have halted them long enough so Manshrew would get away.
Especially as this Eclipse fellow was moving to intercept one of his corps-men. Claus had quite enough of this guy.

-"What do you think you are doing?" Claus had jogged forth and with his right hand put his greatsword between his soldier and Eclipse, he was almost fuming with anger. Now there was no chance he himself would get it even with Andrew.
-"You know full well what i'm doing general." Eclipse voice was far calmer than Claus liked.
-"That's it, you have halted the capture of important materiel and personnel in combat. I'm apprehending your ass!" Claus roared out as he finished by twisting his torso and brought his sword at Eclipse in a large horizontal slash aimed at his midsection.
Seeing the massively telegraphed blow, Eclipse jumped back and as such easily dodged the blow.

Eclipse realized he probably made Claus a bit more angry than planned, seeing he was attacking him with a greatsword. But having a fight with their captain, Eclipse thought that the lack of orders would let even more escape. Eclipse brought his sword into guard position.
He didn't have even a split second to defend himself as Claus had quickly spun his sword above his head, grabbed it with his other hand and brought it down hard towards Eclipses left shoulder.
Being a proficient swordsman, the paladin saw it best to push the blade away from him, letting Claus's momentum work against him. It worked, the greatsword was pushed enough so only its tip skidded slightly upon Eclipses armour and then it swung so its tip pointed behind Claus left side.
What Eclipse didn't expect however was that Claus had mid swing changed his grip, moved both his hands so he was now in a half swording stance and immediately swung the blade at Eclipses right arm. The strike was strong and jarred the holy knight slightly but he was mostly unharmed, even if it would probably leave a nasty bruise.
Claus kept up his speed and ferocity, he followed up with a pommel thrust, an upward slash with the blade tip and a downward stroke after that. Which Eclipse dodged parried and narrowly avoided in turn.

Eclipse felt he was outmatched, but had a trick up his sleeve. Claus did probably not know of his swords origins.
As Claus made another hefty strike from his left, Eclipse struck with an elegant upward stroke at the middle of his greatsword, which promptly broke in half under the might of the dwarven metal.
Claus was slightly taken aback with this but didn't falter, he tossed the guard and handle of the sword at Eclipses face which struck hard, in the same motion Claus also dropped his sword blade and picked up his mace with his left hand, brought it to bear on Eclipses helmet and struck the knight to the ground.

As he fell Claus jumped after, launching himself so that when Eclipse slammed into the ground, Claus was sitting on his torso and pinning Eclipses arms with his legs. Roaring he brought the mace down, then drew the misericord stiletto and slammed it down. Then Claus gave Eclipse a good right hook in his face.
The mace had left an indentation in the ground where it was struck, the stiletto sticking out of the ground near Eclipses throat. The punch however had stung really good.
After a few heavy breaths, Claus screamed out.
-"Why!?... WHY! He was that close!" Claus figuratively made some arbitrary measurement between his fingers.
Rather battered, but very much alive, Eclipse said with a slight wheeze.
-"It was the honorable thing to do." He even smiled a little.

Claus was almost done with his anger, he yelled.
-"May you take a sniff of Hizreus hairy balls for that one you damn chivalrous twat!" Followed with spitting the good knight in the face.
He then stood up and ordered some of his men to apprehend Eclipse. Damn paladins, always so honorable.
He just wanted to get even after the first skirmish with Andrew, then this heroic oaf just had to get in the way and save him.
Claus watched Andrew get away, his corps-men had taken many prisoners and several wagons. But Eclipses brave ploy had allowed several wagons and many people to get away.
The captain shook his head. He didn't even care much for the ransom. He wasn't greedy.
-"Well sir knight, be happy i got a good amount of loot before your little trick there." Claus had walked up to the hand tied Eclipse who had been seated next to the pile of boxes being gathered from the alliance baggage train, overseen by Katrina and a few corps-men.
-"Otherwise i think my men would have you flogged for that one." Claus was trying to calm himself, even managing one of his smirks.
-"You be happy i also respect lord Manshrew, i can have a fight with him some other day..." Claus added in. Tired after a long march and the brief battle and the duel, the adrenaline was not pumping any more and he was getting rather tired.

After a couple of breaths, Claus sounded his horn. To order his men to return and begin forming up.
The steelhead would need to talk to Patrik after this whole affair. The man owed him a bunch of drinks. There was also this knight character that needed evaluation.

Claus sat down next to Eclipse, mostly since it was the closest.
-"You have some guts to stare down the entire fist. You are stupid, but have guts. I'll give 'ya that." Claus was now drinking some water. Shaking his head. Bloody paladins he thought.
Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by TheDuncanMorgan
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Suddenly a runner came up in front of Claus as he sat and watched his men gather up the prisoners and the loot.
Or more specifically a mounted Cawanor soldier rode up close to him, dismounted in a single trained movement as he stopped and walked up to Claus with a scroll in hand.

-”Message for general Claus Rotstein.” The man said in a non nonsense kind of way, Claus got all boastful of being called general and smiling stood up and asnwered.
-”Yes, that’s me.”
-”You are to meet king Patrick De’Reimer, please follow me.” After he said that he gestured with his arm and went to his horse to mount.
To his annoyance Claus didn’t call for a horse, instead he walked alongside the rider.

After a while the mounted form of Patrick could be seen next to Evennis whom was also mounted. They were currently inspecting some imperial dead whom had been neatly gathered and put in a couple of rows. Nearby a pile of alliance troops were being stacked with little heed.
Claus was gonna make sure he didn’t mention his troops going around pilfering things from the dead when they thought no one was looking.
The Steel Fist didn’t loot the dead, but what people don’t know doesn’t happen after all.
Patrick looked rather troubled until Claus with a smile yelled out.

-”Ey boss, you wanted to speak with me. Damn mess you made of the Manshrew folks.” Followed by a grinning smirk.

Patrick scowled at Claus’s carefree attitude, Evennis on the other hand tried his best to hide a smirk from Patrick’s disapproving eyes.
“I see you survived your encounter with the alliance” Patrick replied sternly “I suppose you should be thankful, if you had died you would never have been able to spend that money I gave you” At this he turned to Evennis “Have the prisoners moved into makeshift cells, execute any of the enemy injured, our healers need to focus on our own soldiers” Evennis gave short nod in response before riding on to pass on his orders. Once again Patrick turned his attention to Claus

“I must say my opinion of you has improved considerably”
Claus thought a moment about the execution of injured, but then banished it from his mind. After all, they couldn’t give them proper medical care and it would be worse to have them suffer.
-”I try my best.” Claus said with his jolly mood and made a tip of the hat gesture on the cap of his helm.
-”I am however sad to report i couldn’t get Andrew, an…. Obstacle… came in the way.” He kept on, being a bit sour about the fact that lord Manshrew escaped his grasp.

“An obstacle”? Patrick said with a raised eyebrow “What obstacle could possibly get in your way to prevent you from catching the concords greatest enemy”?

-”Some paladin. Physically kept me from chasing after Andrew. So i physically stopped him from doing that.” Claus answered while gesturing punching his palm.
-”Was an honorable one too, to a fault. Kept preaching about how i should let the defeated go in peace.” He shook his head slightly.
-”Anyway, when i had knocked him about a bit i saw that Andrew had gotten away.” The bitterness was showing in his voice, but he cooled off as quickly as he had gotten irritated.

Patrick tried his best to contain his anger, the knowledge that such a fool had prevented them from ending the war there and then was enough to have him fuming.

“I, understand” He said through gritted teeth “You cannot be blamed for the idiocy of another, the man shall be executed for his betrayal and that will be that” as Patrick finished he had calmed down a bit “However that is not why I called you here. I am here to congratulate you on your many achievements, from preventing the eastern army from being wiped out, to defending Clarm, to even joining the concord army now when there was nothing in it for you. Such actions have not gone unnoticed, and are worthy of an award”

Being genuinely surprised about Patricks seemingly good intentions Claus first looked a bit surprised but managed to dispel most apparent skepticism in his eyes and followed with.
-”Just doing my job, i say we are the best, therefore we try to deliver the best.” Claus swelled a bit with pride and laid his clenched right fist on his heart symbolically.
While simultaneously ignoring that there would be some loot in the alliance baggage train that was of course ‘never part of the official baggage train inventory’ that would go directly into the Steel Fist baggage and thus most of it would go into everyone's pockets.
Something he realized he’d have to talk to Katrina about.

-”So what is this reward you speak of sir?” The steelhead asked curiously.

“You have proven to be skilled in both tactics and combat, far more so than most of my own commanders. As such I have decided to offer you a title worthy of such a position. I wish to appoint you as advisor of war on the high council and have your steel fist company to become the new royal guard”.

At first Claus couldn’t believe what he was hearing. The offer so unexpected he would never have expected it.
-”Advisor of war….. That is one fancy title.” Claus nodded as he said it. He kept on.
-”I am however unsure on how the fist would react to the offer of being royal guards. Not to mention what the old royal guard would think of that. We are mercenaries after all.” The skepticism in his voice was notable as he stroked his chin.

-”But, i do hope there’s some time to think over all this. Right?” Claus regained his usual good mood.

“Certainly, the Imperial army will rendezvous with the Wulfrick up north and route out the last of the traitors. You are to report back to the high king who will see that you and your men are fairly paid for your services. You will have plenty of time to decide by then. No need to worry about the royal guard, they were nearly all wiped out while in service to Helyot. King John viewed them as too expensive to replace, hence you won’t receive any resistance from them”.

-”Fair point, didn’ know that the royal guard didn’t exist. Explains why i had to work on your fancy party last time.” Claus pondered and then asked.
-”So sir boss, i’ll need a ride home. I assume you can hook me up with a transport back to Nyhem? Would take a fair while to walk over there.” His smirk was deep and grinning.

“Certainly” Patrick said as he gestured to a Cawanor soldier who promptly marched to Patrick’s side “we managed to capture a great many horses from the alliance, you and your men are welcome to help themselves, this man here will take you to them”

At first he was gonna say his men are infantry and don’t need horses, but then realized the opportunity.
-”Sure thing boss. Was that all? If that’s so i’ll take the fist to Nyhem. Oh.” Claus asked but then realized.
-”The Steel Fist has taken some heavy casualties in the last month, you wouldn’t mind if i tried to recruit some from the other mercenaries? Some of them seem to have gotten the hang of it. The ones that live that is.” Ending with a smirk.

“Help yourself to them, I currently have no further need of them. Afterall with the-” Patrick paused for a bit as he thought about what he was going to say, though Claus was a competent commander he didn’t trust him enough to give away his plans “with the preparations I have made, the invasion of Uzgob is certain to be another massacre for the alliance” he finished before riding off to meet with his commanders.

-”Have a good one then…. Boss.” Claus spoke mostly to himself.
He then began the preparations for returning to the Sypius plains and gathering the necessary things for that, see if the alliance sacked his first camp and make sure to keep the looting down.
If it was one thing he had learned, it was that you can’t keep mercs from looting. However he could keep it down, but most importantly, he could keep it low profile.
Especially now when he had someone who would be better at doing the number magics.
He’d have to have a chat with young Katrina though, as he realized that the young and still a bit naive girl would not know how things were run in the fist, especially after a field battle.

This would be a long day he thought, as he inspected some of the horses to see if he liked one. He ended up picking a brown one with ‘white socks’ to ride.
He didn’t think much of Patrick probably keeping secrets from him. Lords were secretive types after all, and he’d probably get to know what he needed to know should he accept the offer.
It was probably a good first step in getting his own landed title, the thought alone made Claus grin wide and even chuckle, probably grossing out several of the concord soldiers. He didn’t mind, he was a mercenary after all. War is business, and now, business was good.
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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by ZB1996
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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Fallenreaper
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Fallenreaper ღ~Lil' Emotional Cocktail~ღ

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~|Meeting with the High King|~

Location: Nyhem
Time: Present Day, Afternoon
By: @TheDuncanMorgan & @Fallenreaper




The next day’s morning caused both Dyril and Kiseo to engage into a bustle of activity. The first order of business was to removed all the wares from the ship into a storage building and finally pay the captain the rest of his funds for his services. When the money exchange was over, he would set sail and return to the dangerous sea for his next employer. The realization of how much Dyril missed Captain Brys weighed on her a bit as she began to count out coin to pay Horus.

Both men were very different from each other. One young and trusting while the other was aged and cautious, the latter practicing traits she had noted in many Elven politicians. In fact the fashion he held him had been comparable to her grandfather. It was unsettling to see such common aspects in another individual not apart of her race causing her to to focus on her counting of coin.

Meanwhile, Kiseo directed the sailors to carefully remove the goods into a nearby wagon. Many knew it would likely be the last time they would see her. They joked and poked the small feline with insulting jests while they worked, taking her cautious words into account during their work over the items. Having handled these mysterious wares, mostly enchanted accessories, mandrake oil and very few seeds, they were willing to bend their pride to prevent paying for any expensive damages. If it wasn't for her otherworldly features, the Mao might’ve blended well into the motley crew as one of their own.

Unknown to Dyril, a messenger had boarded the ship. He had been tasked by the king to seek out the elf who was doing business with the new magisterial advisor. It wasn’t a particularly hard task, after all the elf stuck out like a sore thumb amongst the sailors.

“Excuse me, Lady Eilan?” Though he spoke as if it were a question, it was pretty obvious she couldn’t be anyone else. “I have a letter for you from the High King himself” He said as he handed the letter over. Though he tried his best not to stare he couldn’t avert his eyes away from her. This was the first elf he had ever seen, and she wasn’t what he had imagined.

Dyril had finished her counting then turned her attention to the new arrival, noticing the messenger for the first time.Her eyes took him in for several seconds then nodded, “Yes, I am.”

She cautiously took the letter and ignored the stares burrowing into her from the young man. Mentally, she prepared herself for this and expected it. Her fingers carefully peeled away the letter’s upper flap then began to read the letter’s contents. Silent shot through her upon noting the signature as a coldness began to swell within her, a mixture of fury and pain surged into her. However, on the outside she appeared to taking in the words and debating her options.

Several moments passed before she turned to the messenger then spoke, “Tell the High King I will arrive within the allotted time and with a few select wares to demonstrate.”



Duncan was once again sat behind his desk. He was currently reviewing the various documents that had been sent to him by Asgher Raudhfell. All of them confirming the same thing; that Urd was indeed his niece. If Duncan received confirmation from Patrick then the legitimacy of Urd’s claim would be certain. However Duncan was already certain as the situation stood already. There was a knock at the door and Alenius walked in.
“Excuse me your grace, but the elven noble you enquired after has arrived”.
“Very good, show her in” Duncan said as he put the documents to one side.

Dyril had decided on three items out of her stock, namely ones she was confident would draw the High King’s attention and prove magical items were worth investing in. She couldn’t waste this chance. The moment her grandfather discovered the Maltzoff were no longer able to supply the dwarven metal, he would end any future business transactions with Formaroth. Including her. It would trap her permanently within her family’s cruelty and she wasn’t about to allow that to happen.

Nervously she fought the desire to pace during her wait. Her eyes absorbing the surroundings and decoration so foreign to the more Elven setting she was use to. Her eyes snapped up at the servant gesturing for her to come as she stepped forward, Kiseo in her wake and holding the trinkets in her paw like hands.

Her figure calmly edged into what appeared to be an office, her hands folded in front of her. Wasting little time, she bowed at the waist and greeted the High Lord, “High King Duncan, I assume?”

She used a cautious and questioning tone, through she was fairly confident this man was the High King from the Magister’s illusions. Dyril straightened back up. Her attention, momentarily, shifted back to her peripheral vision and noted Kiseo had mimicked her.

“Welcome” Duncan said with a fake smile. Though he kept up the pretense of being friendly, the truth was he didn’t like elves. They always had a smug and arrogant attitude to them, and whenever he had been forced to do dealings with them in the past, they had always acted as if they were above him. The creature besides Dyril was completely alien to him, it looked like a feline of some sort and was obviously a slave of Dyril. “From what I gather you have a demonstration that you believe will be worth my time?”

Dyril was no stranger to hidden disgust. It was obvious in the High King’s tone, despite the sugar coated words, as it was in her own family. Her eyes inwardly flinched in realization she was at a disadvantage even before this demonstration had began. Such behavior, even sugar coated, didn’t escape her since birth as she faced them head on throughout her life and well into her adult years. Setting her growing anxieties to the side, she continued to rein in her emotional stress and continue like nothing was out of the ordinary.

Continuing to push her best face forward, there seemed to be no altering in her expression upon realizing the facts. She inwardly hoped the High King’s opinion would change over the course of her demonstration, but it was a fragile one.

“Yes,” Dyril answered then moved toward Kiseo.

Her four digit hand reached for the nearest item: a small travel pouch. It looked average and about the size of any expected coin pouch, its size big enough to hold a week’s worth of money at best. The leather was well made with tints of blue, giving a rich appearance, showing the animal hide wasn’t native to Formaroth. Several sharp flourishes darted along in a flowing pattern and filled in by a silverish metal, adding an elegant contrast and beauty. Dyril began to then walk back toward toward High King Duncan. She extended the item in her hands toward and spoke again.
“Would you be so kind to examine this item before I display it’s qualities,” When he took the item, she withdrew her hand and made careful attempt to avoid any skin contact with him in the most natural way.

As Duncan took the pouch he closely examined it. Undeniably is was of a very beautiful design, but entirely normal. Once he had finished he gave it back to Dyril

“Very well, show me what it’s capable of” said Duncan, so far he remained unimpressed.

“Apologies for the inconvenience but what I’m about to show, many individuals have believed to be a parlor trick rather than magic. I assure you, it’s not some trick,” Dyril continued.

She opened the lip of the pouch and reached into it, her arm pushed casually into it. A simple word escaped her lips in a soft tone, “Videtur.”

Her mind imagined the item she wanted to withdraw. In truth, there was several inside but she chose only to show one: a simple walking staff. When it began to materialize after a few seconds, she began to tug it out. The wooden, sanded end slowly pulled outward and instead of it stopping, the item continued until a full length staff stood within Dyril’s grip. She passed it to Kiseo, who needed no gesture, and promptly brought the staff for Duncan to examine if he chose to.

As Duncan took the staff his eyes slightly widened, though he hid it he had to admit he was impressed. Such magic had never been performed in his presence before and the capabilities of said magic would be very useful.

“Very impressive, tell me how is such magic possible?”

“It’s created though a very complicated and lengthy process, which also includes a mage to cast the magical effect and mandrake oil. This particular item took about seven years to create,” Dyril treaded carefully over her words then offered the bag once more to Duncan.

“Would you like to learn how to work it and try it yourself by placing the staff back in?”

Duncan’s smile dropped a bit at the mention of how long the process took. Seven years was a long time and Duncan wondered if all such ‘Mandrake items’ took just as long.

“What else can Mandrake oil be used for” Duncan said as he carefully put the staff into the pouch, to watch something so big effortlessly disappear into something far smaller was a surreal feeling.

Before Dyril addressed the question, she instructed the High King in how to activate the bag. Else he would rip and damage it, “Say the word, Abscondit. Then insert the staff. When you want to withdraw it, imagine the staff then say Videtur. Otherwise, you'll damage the merchandise your Majesty.”

When she finished, Dyril moved quickly forward.

“Mandrake oil is primarily used for creating magical items, purely because of its properties and ability to mimic and absorb spells. You don't even have to know magic to be able to use it. Other uses are mostly either health benefits or superstition, the latter I have little information over due to my lack of faith.”

She paused to take a breath, “The health benefits, unless combined with magic, are very minor. It can extend a creature’s life span by one or two years at best.”

It was clear, due to her heritage, she didn't see the extra year or two to be worth it. Her tone even seemed to show it, “I have a restoration necklace I would like to demonstrate if you have a plant or creature who is nearing death?”

Despite Dyril’s dismissive tone Duncan was intrigued by the potential two year increase in life. Afterall there was a lot a man could accomplish in two years.

“Perhaps” Duncan said as he called for a servant. Upon hearing his call two maids walked into the room before bowing “Please fetch one of the dying plants from the keeps garden, anyone will do” Both maids bowed again and left. They wouldn’t have much trouble finding a dead plant, now that Auerlia was gone the entire garden was devoid of life. Perhaps Isabel would find some way to rejuvenate it, though now she would have to wait till next spring.

Duncan and Dyril waited in silence, there wasn’t really anything he cared to discuss. Instead he choose to read a letter that he had received earlier in the day, one from a very unlikely source; Uzgob. As Duncan read the letter a smile grew on his face, it would seem that honor in Uzgob didn’t run as deeply as Andrew claimed. This would surely be the end of the alliance. The maids returned shortly after he finished the letter, each carrying their own plant.

Strangely, as far as Duncan could tell both plants originated from quite far into the flowerbed, and both were much bigger than he had expected. Furthermore both of them were covered in dirt; what on earth had happened? Had they tried to outcompete each other for the king's favour? He pointed over to a table near Dyril.

“Um, just put them down over there” he said a slight hint of surprise in his voice. Both maids did as they were told before bowing again and leaving the room.

Dyril had to stop her eyes from rolling at the women’s reaction and obvious display of trying to gain the high king’s attention. Her hand extended toward Kiseo who then placed a small, simple necklace within it. A bright, yellow ember flickered and glowed within. It seemed to be collecting energy as she approached the first dead plant. Her hand extended and touched the nearest leave. Her mind focused into the necklace and softly her lips mumbled an incantation. Unlike the prior item, it required a much more complicated system of words to operate.

As the ember jewelry glowed brighter, her skin bumped. The goosebumps danced and sprung up from the energy rupturing through her veins. As she forced herself to relax, her eyes watched her target closely. The leaves become greener, its stem rose higher, and obvious signs of life pour back into it.

When finished, she retracted her hand for Duncan to see. She expected he would’ve liked another demonstration but she wasn’t going to automatically volunteer one.


“A most impressive display” Duncan said joyfully, after reading the letter his mood had greatly improved “Tell me, what are the requirements for growing Mandrakes, does Formaroth have the correct climate? Is there a particular technique” After the demonstration and the various benefits that Dyril had described to him, the more convinced he was that this was a worthwhile investment.

Dyril relaxed. She was thankful that the High King didn’t request another demonstration of the necklace, her body slightly weakened and drained from the first. Some artifacts had a price or took their toll on individuals. Kiseo quickly stepped up to her mistress as Dyril passed over the necklace, removing it from her hand and dripped it into the paw like hand. Kiseo then moved back to allow the pair to have their conversation.

The mood improvement wasn’t lost on Dyril, but knowing if she acknowledged it might lead to her present advantage being taken away.

“I’ve just arrived so knowing for sure is difficult. I originally came to establish trading negotiations with a family native to Formaroth, but I received word they will not be coming. It places me into a position to find new buyers or determine if trade with Formaroth is profitable again,” Dyril explained, careful over what details she revealed. She was still very aware about her family being on the opposition of Duncan and any slip that indicated she was with them could’ve resulted in something terrible.

She decided to focus on the price such a journey would require and answer the High King’s question honestly as she could, “As for the techniques, Mandrakes are very delicate plants. One wrong thing, either weather or neglective care, and you’ll lose not one but the whole crop. The most important areas used to grow Mandrakes are very arid and desert like climate.”

“I see” Duncan said “So what is it that you wish to offer?”

“Officially, I’m only authorized by my family to peddle items of magical nature and premade mandrake oil,” Dyril began as she stood comfortably nearby, her eyes studied Duncan for any indication her words were unappealing to him. Now would be ideal time to determine what would he would be willing to fund at this point or make any additions to the prior negotiations that would allow her to remain in Formaroth.

“A thing to note is these terms were in regards to the old trade negotiations and now are subject to change based on what gains are available and will benefit the family. Things I’m in position to determine,” Her tone shifted at the word family, mostly a subtle slip that there was slight tension. Even more that if they suffered a slight loss for a gain, it wouldn’t necessarily hurt her heart as long it didn’t backfire upon her personally.

Duncan remained silent for some time as he considered his options. Mandrake oil could turn out to be a huge boon to the advancement of magic here in Formaroth, yet having it constantly shipped over from the imperium would likely turn out to be very expensive, he would have to try and convince Dyril to grow and sell it here in Formaroth.
“I have a proposition for you, you will give me the means to grow Mandrakes here in Formaroth, in return I will pay you well for your services and even grant you the title of a comte here in Nyhem. This new title should give you higher political standing here in Formaroth. A fair deal wouldn’t you say”?

“The deal is fair but as you learn more about Mandrakes, it will become clear this project can’t be ran by an ignorant individual. Not without it becoming costly. Seeds are only produced from fully mature and healthy Mandrakes. I was serious when I said one mistake can cost the whole crop, including the crop’s lineage and future planting,” Dyril stated firmly. No seeds meant no future plants and every farmer knew this could easily bankrupt their livelihood. Hoping to place herself into a much higher valued position, the half elf decided to offer an additional term to the agreement.

“Both myself and Kiseo has grown up around the method all of our lives so we know it inside and out, making us the most experienced in Formaroth. For the best possibility at success, we will need to supervise and teach anyone under your employment the correct care and harvesting methods,” she pointed out. She doubted Duncan would ‘purchase’ slaves, even when they would become free the moment they hit Formaroth, to ensure his crops would thrive to their fullest. Her culture valued slaves with unique skills which increased both their master’s status and income options, the freeing of such slaves only served to harm that.

“Most Mandrake slaves are raised and trained from their coming of age. We don’t have that easy option. This means you need to purchase surplus in case of crop failure and risk this becoming costly in the beginning, but the benefits will gradually overcome when done right.”

“Done” Duncan said without hesitation. Having Dyril watch over this was the best possible scenario, if he was going to invest in Mandrakes he didn’t want the money to go to waste by having an amateur ruin the crop. Furthermore if something went wrong the blame could be placed solely on her, meaning he could demand full compensation should his investment backfire “I will purchase your full stock, I trust that will be enough. My sister, Lady Isabel De Reimer will oversee the transaction” Duncan paused for a moment as he started to consider something “Out of interest, which family was it that you originally planned to do business with. To buy such a expensive product in such large amounts, they must've been quite rich”?

Dyril knew what she was getting into, or rather who would suffer the most if things went wrong. It was partly spite at her family for the past struggles they forced her to endure throughout her life.

“Not precisely, but wealth helps. It is more what my family could’ve gained from being associated with them. I don’t find it matters much now because s far as I’m concerned, their business with me is finished,” Dyril commented, avoiding mentioning the name of Mazeltof. She didn’t want Duncan to become too suspicious over her and assume she knew more than she claimed.

“Is there anything else you require?”

“Nothing relating to business, although something has peaked my interest that I wish to enquire” Duncan said. Something about Dyril stood out to him, while he had only met a handful of elves in his life they all had a distinct and similar appearance. There were several characteristics to Dyril that were noticeably different.
“I notice your hands are different to most other elves, could you explain to be why this is”? While Duncan acknowledged that the question had come out of nowhere he was curious to see how an elf would deal with such a sudden personal question, if only for his own amusement.

“My family would’ve insisted I claim a defect from birth, and in a way it is. I’m actually a hybrid. My mother was eleven but my father was human,” Dyril explained as she held up her hand for Duncan to fully see. She spread her fingers through the middle two didn’t spread from their neighbors despite her attempts before she pulled it back to her side.

“I get the impression, from personal experience, that you’ve had the experience of being in the presence of a few ‘superior’ elves? I’ll reassure you, it’s much worse when you actually live with them. You can likely imagine what they thought of me.”

Duncan was surprised by Dyril’s seemingly willingness to discuss her heritage. Most Elves got very touchy whenever you asked anything even vaguely personal, though as Dyril pointed out, she was only half Elven.
“I see, I was unaware such hybrids existed. I thank you for your honesty and I look forward to doing future business with you”

“As do I. I was primary chosen as my family believed having someone on ‘equal’ footing with those in Formaroth would allow them to relax and be more open to our trading negotiations. I accepted mainly to escape a situation,” Dyril admitted openly. She saw no reason to lie about her motivations or what she was, at least not while here. The logic was sound based on what she told Duncan earlier because back in the Elven lands, her life was nothing but hell. One bit, however, she didn’t reveal was the fact the family felt it was beneath them to even attempt trading negotiations with humans.

“Very well, my bodyguard Alenius will be waiting outside. She will guide you back to the keep's entrance” Duncan said.

Dyril nodded, then gestured for Kiseo to follow her to the exit. The Mao nodded and adjusted the bag slightly, briefly pausing to ensure all of the items were within the single bag, before she quickly caught up to her mistress. Her tail was mindful to keep wrapped about her leg when she passed the High king in order to avoid accidently swatting at him and causing insult.
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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Sundered Echo
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Sundered Echo

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Nyhem docks region - Flayed Eel Inn

“I’ll have another!” A man said loudly, but respectfully to a passing barmaid, waving his tankard at her as he did so. “Hey Jones!” He continued, apparently addressing his companion. “Did you see that fine lady down at the docks before?” He asked.

“What, the elf girl? A bit blue for my tastes.” The response from Jones sounded a little inebriated.

“No you moron. The ship she came in on. Real ocean going beauty from the elven lands. They don’t make ‘em like that here.”

“Sure.” Jones began, slurring his words, but obviously appreciating the sentiment all the same. “She was pretty, but my eye was on that mage ship… The cat- catam-” Jones grasped at the word, but was not able to find it until his companion corrected him.

“Catamaran.”

“Yeah. That. Can you imagine sailing on one o’ them? I hear they can top fifty knots on a flat sea! It’d be like… like… being a bird!”

“Sure Jones, fifty knots. I think you’ve had one too many. Even the mages aren’t that good. But it was certainly a good looking boat. His majesties war galleys have got nothing on some of the ships in harbour today.”

Behind them, the doors opened - as they often did - but this time, for well armored guardsmen. Heads turned, but quickly went back to their drinks when it became clear the guards manor was casual. The sailor, however, stood from his chair, leaving Jones confused. “What, you got business with the law?”

“Yeah Jones, I sure do. Lucrative business at that.”

The guard, clad in green and gold livery, walked up to the pair at the bar. “You had something for me?” He asked, gruffly.

“If what I heard about that Magister woman paying people for sightings of little mages is true, then I sure do.”

The guard looked at him for a moment, then pulled a pouch off his belt. It jingled. “Magister Dionisa will see you rewarded if you have information leading to the rescue of children with magical talent. One silver now, and the rest of the bag once we’ve confirmed you aren’t messing us around.”

“How kind o’ you. I saw a little girl playing with what could only be a little ball of fire a few streets away - here let me show you where.” He said, pointing towards a map of the docks district that hung in pride of place on the wall. Then he held out his hand.

The guard dropped the silver piece into his hand, saying as he did so “The Magister thanks you for your service. We’ll be back with the rest if it's true.”

By this time, Jones had dragged himself up to stand next to his friend. “Oh I could think of a few ways she could thank us…” He slurred, earning an annoyed look from his far less drunken friend. The look said that the sailor had been thinking that, but was too bright to say it, weary of losing his coin to a guard that took exception with an insult of the lady’s honor.

The guards reply was droll as he turned away. “Don’t get your hopes up gents. You ain’t her type.”

With that, he turned and left the Inn as quickly as he’d arrived.

-

Captain Moros, of the House Thale guard, strode purposefully out of the seedy dockside tavern and into the street. He didn’t much like having to deal with the people in this part of the city, but it was necessary for the job. And the job was far better than any of the alternatives. He’d rather be searching Nyhem for young mages than fighting on the front in the war. This one was far safer, and he had to admit that he did feel a bit of pride and almost fatherly protectiveness when they did manage to save some of the less well off kids.

He motioned to the two men accompanying him to follow as he began down the street. This had been a solo job originally… But then the Manor had been all but attacked by an angry mob. Since then, the Magister had ordered groups of three or more to be assigned to this task - just in case they had to save someone from the stake.

A few minutes down the street Moros caught sight of something. Faintly glowing witch-light from around a corner - a sure sign that who he was looking for was close. He made haste towards the light, unslinging his shield from his back while he did so, just in case the child was caught by surprise and threw a firebolt at him. It was unlikely, but one of the more gifted ones had done that before.

He was just about to turn the corner when he heard a scream of surprise and shock ahead of him. He wasted no time, surging around the corner before bracing his whole body and angling his shield down - just as the Magister had taught him. He was expecting some kind of magical carnage. What faced him was all too mundane in nature, yet no less horrifying for it.

In the narrow street, four cloaked and hooded men loomed large. The rear two seemed to be in the process of restraining a young girl - one held her from behind in a bear hug while the other tried to push a sack over her head - being held at bay only by her wildly flailing legs. The others were standing nearby, keeping a lookout down the street.

“Keep her still.” The one with the sack said angrily. His voice was smooth and his words proper, his accent marking him clearly as a Nyhem native. “I’m trying boss.” The one holding her replied, his voice much gruffer and more guttural. “They found us!” One of the others shouted, again in a rough voice, as he caught sight of Moros and the other Thale guards.

Moros rushed forward, drawing his sword as he did so. For a moment there was indecision between the four criminals, the leader seeming to want the rest to carry the girl away anyway, while the rest seemed to wanted to run. That was just the opportunity Moros needed, as he leapt forward at the closest hooded figure, shield held close to his shoulder. Slamming into the man before he could brace, Moros’ shield tackle sent his target sprawling. The man that had been holding the girl dropped her and turned to flee, the girl managing to land unsteadily on all fours.

Rather than give chase, as the city guard might have done, Moros stood protectively over the young girl, staring down the posh sounding sack man. Next to him, the other Thale guards briefly fought the remaining criminals, quickly gaining the upper hand due to their training and equipment, thoroughly outmatching the criminals, whose primary goal had apparently been stealth.

The criminal leader seemed to reach for his weapon, but then, behind Moros, the sound of running boots could be heard. A City guard patrol, drawn by the commotion, came around the corner and upon seeing the House Thale heraldry, immediately stood by Moros’ side. Now outnumbered by better equipped me, the criminals chose to cut their losses and run, the leader grudgingly choosing not to draw his weapon at all. The other guards gave chase, but the criminals were quick on their feet and escaped into the dying light.

It was then that Moros put away his sword and knelt before the young girl, though his stature meant he was still looking down at her.

“Thank you mister.” She said sheepishly, seemingly still unsure of the intent of her apparent saviour.

Moros put on a smile and replied “Just doing my job lass. Did those men say anything about why they wanted you?”

She stared for a moment, then shook her head. It wasn’t very convincing. Moros spoke again, trying to keep his tone as reassuring and friendly as possible.

“Is it because you have the gift of magic?”

Again, a sheepish look, but this time defensive as well.

“It’s alright lass… I work for Magister Dionisa, who works for the King. My name is Moros. What’s yours?”

She seemed to relax a little then. Whether it was because the King was mentioned, or because it was calming to be exchanging names, Moros wasn’t sure, but the result was welcome all the same.

“Miriam… But my friend call me Miri.”

Moros nodded. “You’re very brave Miriam. Do you have any parents?”

She looked a little distant then. “My Ma is dead… My Da went away on a ship a long time ago.”

Moros wasn’t terribly surprised, and while it was sad, he was also relieved, because it would make his job a lot easier. “I’m sorry.” He replied immediately, by way of formality, before moving towards his real goal. “Would you like a chance to meet a new family? My mistress, Magister Dionisa, sent me to look for you. She is very interested to meet you. You could come and meet her tonight if you want, at Thale manor up in the noble district. There is more food there than you can imagine, and the softest of soft beds.” He held a gloved hand out to her then.

For a moment she looked scared, seeming to think things over. But this lawman had saved her, and she had very little to lose. After a moment, she seemed to make up her mind. Putting her hand in his and nodding.

-

Thale Manor

When Captain Moros and Miriam arrived at the manor, both Dominus Thale and Lady Dionisa were waiting for them. Evidently, word had gotten back to them of the evening's events.

“Ah! Moros! My good man! Tell me of your travels! And who is this?” Dominus bellowed in his enthusiastic, good natured voice.

“My Lord. My Lady.” He nodded to Dominus, then Lanaya. “This is Miriam. A young mage from the docks.” The girl scowled up at Moros for so blatantly revealing her secret, but upon noticing Lanaya’s face lighten, seemed less concerned. Evidently that was not quite the response she had grown accustomed to.

He looked down to the young girl, who was still clutching his hand fiercely, and spoke “This is Magister Dionisa, a great and powerful mage from the Circle, and advisor to the king.” Lana held out a delicate hand to Miriam then.

“I’ve been looking forward to this. Come, let me show you something.” Lanaya spoke with a warmness Moros had only heard in her voice rarely, and never to him or the other servants. He had to tear his eyes away from her, as usual. He wasn’t normally so easily entranced by beautiful women, but the Magister always had a touch of the fey about her, an otherworldly glamour that demanded attention beyond what her physical features might otherwise command.

Fixing his eyes firmly on his Liege-Lord, he began to report the evenings events, in order. As he did so, the two females stepped off to the side. Every so often there was a flicker of witch-light as a minor magical display was put on. Moros presumed it was the Magister’s way of helping to let the young mage feel more secure and comfortable talking about the subject.

When he came to recount the events of the apparent attempted kidnapping of Miriam, he noted movement out of the corner of his eye. Lanaya’s flowing crimson hair shifting as she turned her ear to their conversation more pointedly, even as she continued speaking in hushed tones with the young girl.

When he completed his report, Dominus clapped him on the shoulder and said “Another job well done Captain. Excellent.”

Moros turned away, a satisfied smile on his face, but then stopped. “My Lord, there is one other thing. One of the thugs… the one who sounded like a noble… Something about his voice and his posture. It seemed… Familiar. I cannot place a name, but I swear I must have met this one before, without his cloak or deceptions.”

“Interesting. Yes very interesting.” Dominus said thoughtfully. “Inform me immediately if you recall a name to fit our mysterious attacker. We cannot have children being abducted off the streets… And by a noble no less!”

Moros nodded, then, with a wave to the young girl, left the room. His job was done today, it was now up to the great and powerful to figure out what came next.




Alice hated Nyhem. The city was too loud, crowded and no matter where she went there was always some sort of unpleasant smell. Had she the choice she would have continued her research in Cawaport. However certain matters here required her immediate attention and she couldn’t afford to leave them be. Alice was currently making her way towards Thale manor where magister Lanaya Dionisa resided, though the meeting had be planed to take place at midday Alice had chosen to leave at night so as to avoid the crowded streets. Now that Aurelia was dead Lady Dionisa was the newest member of the high council, but more importantly she had inherited all of Aurelia’s research regarding Alice’s work. This meeting would decide whether Lanaya would be more of a help or hinderance to her work. As Alice approached the door she signalled for the two Cawanori soldiers that had accompanied her to wait outside, she then made her way over to the door before knocking a single, incredibly hard, knock on the door.

The maidservant - Mary - opened the door, flanked by a house Thale guard. She was surprised to see this guest at this time, but showed her in all the same, past the Knight of St. Elenor, who still faithfully stood guard in the hall. She led Alice into the manor and up the flights of stairs to third floor - which was dominated by Lanaya’s room. A short knock on the door followed by an announcement of Alice’s presence - then silence.

On the other side of the door, Lana was caught unprepared, not expecting this meeting at this time. She wondered briefly if this was a tactic from Alice to achieve some unknown end, but quickly dismissed the thought as she cast the usual glamour of a courtly gown over the warm nightdress she wore.

As she walked to the door she quickly ran through what she had been able to read of Aurelia’s notes. The discovery was fascinating - yet she couldn’t help but feel key elements of the project were undocumented in the notes she had. There was no way such a thing was accidental - if Alice and Aurelia had wanted people to take the project seriously they would have to have had everything recorded for peer review. She had questions… But she wouldn’t be so blunt as to begin with them.

She opened the door and waved Alice in. “I’m sorry to have kept you waiting. I was not expecting guests at this time of night. Is there something amiss? To have you arrive so early?” Her tone was respectful, and only slightly concerned. After all, she was speaking to a High Magister.

Before responding, Alice took a long detailed look around the room. Judging from the amount of parchments and scrolls that were piled on Lanaya’s table, it would appear that the magister was a very busy woman.

“Nothing is amiss” She said as she continued to look around the room “I simply thought it I would save us both time and get this meeting sooner rather than later” At this she finally made eye contact with Lanaya “So you are the one who has inherited the late High Magister Aurelia’s work. My condolences, I was informed you were close” Though she offered sympathies her voice was without emotion and almost distant.

“Thank you.” Lana said, subtly relaxing at the news that nothing was wrong. “Her passing was a great blow to me… But I will not let my grief get in the way of this research.” Lana noted Alice’s simple appearance - a plain dress and the simple, tidy arrangement of her hair. It was evident Alice cared little for the fashion of Nyhem, but that was hardly a surprise. Most mages were interested in research first and keeping up appearances a distant second. Lana kept up her illusion anyway.

“I have read most of Aurelia’s notes. This is truly a fascinating discovery.” Lana couldn’t stop a small degree of schoolgirl excitement slipping into her voice despite everything. This could change the world after all.

“Of course it is” Alice said as if Layana had just stated the obvious “For years Formaroth has neglected magical study and as a result we a far behind any magic found in the Imperium. With this power we could finally rival the mages of the Imperium, a feat I am most proud of being a part of.” Alice took a pause as she eyed a fruit bowl atop a table. Without saying another word Alice strode over to the bowl before helping herself to a apple. She took one large clumsy bite out of it before continuing “Now that you have taken Aurelia’s position am right in assuming you have inherited her quarters in the keep”? She said with her mouth still full.

“I have…” Lana replied cautiously. She was still getting the measure of the other mage. So far she could tell Alice was blunt, perhaps to the point of rudeness - yet it didn’t bother her nearly as much as it might’ve had Alice been a mundane. Her voice took on a slight steel edge as she spoke again, turning towards the political reasoning of her actions over the emotional ones. “I prefer my current location however, at least for now. I have enough suspicion leveled at me already without moving into her quarters in the castle right away.”

Eager to move away from the still painful subject of her departed friend though, she latched on to something else Alice had said. “Of course we are behind the Imperium. Our kings have allowed the burning of mages and the destruction of precious arcane lore for hundreds of years. Court mages are lucky to be treated as anything more than glorified entertainers across the majority of Formaroth. How can we keep pace with Elven research when the average mage must worry about survival and basic rights instead of research?”

“Glad you see sense on this matter, many of the other High Magisters have dismissed my comments and have continued to keep their research limited to the circle. Squandering the true potential of us mages.” Alice said as she took another bite of the apple “Fortunately now that those ignorant Remonnets are off the throne we actually have a family that gives a damn about magic. A surprising turn of events, though I suppose it is to be expected from a family that has a history of magic.” Alice paused as she realized what she had said “Though if you're asked you didn’t hear that from me.”

Lana’s eyes lit up at the mention of the De Reimer’s apparent magical lineage. That was extremely valuable knowledge. It seemed that Alice’s disdain for courtly demeanour had a useful upside as well, in the form of a less guarded tongue.

“A welcome turn of events all the same. Alas, Aurelia’s death robbed us of a significant political coup. His majesty was quite smitten with her, and she reciprocated the feeling. She’d’ve been queen within the year I expect.” Breaking it down into the political reality made it easier to discuss without feeling a little hollow inside.

“But the future is looking up for our kind. Myself and a number of other mages across Formaroth are working towards the establishment and enforcement of proper law to protect and eventually empower mages. A Mage's Collective… If you will… That seeks to play the nobles own game against them. Does such a thing interest you?” Lana was wasting no time in ramping up her rhetoric. Alice already seemed to share her views, and if she could secure the High Magisters support, it would do much to aid the legitimacy of her group both inside and outside of the mage community.

Alice’s eye’s shot up as Lanaya talked about how Aurelia and Duncan were lovers, She quickly averted her eyes before replying. “Indeed I have heard of your mages collective and I must say it has peaked my interest. If you allow me I would be most interested in joining your group.”

Lana noted Alice’s reaction carefully, though it was not far from the expected. It was a surprise to most people to find out the relationship between the former High Magister and the King. Both were very private people after all. Still, it wasn’t pure surprise Lana had seen, and that bore further investigation. Yet, for now, she was simply happy that Alice was on her side - and without so much as a single justification beyond the initial one.

“Excellent. Your support, even if you do not act directly at all, is a significant boon to my… or rather, our - cause. We will see magic brought to its proper place in Formaroth soon enough. But here I am talking politics - that isn’t why you came all the way to Nyhem. Let us speak of the gem. What can I do to assist you?” By now, Lana’s initial trepidation at meeting a superior mage had passed. She was returning to her usual demeanour, confident that she was the superior politician and conversationalist.

“Right now I wish for you to continue with Aurelia’s work” She said once again making eye contact with Lanaya “While I have managed to create the gem I haven’t been able to test it’s true capabilities” At this Lanaya reached into her pocket and produced a small locked box. She fumbled around with the lock for a bit before finally opening it. Inside was the red gem that Alice had been speaking about “I want you to test this and let me know everything of use; how powerful it is, how long it lasts and whether there are any potential weaknesses”.

“I’d be honored to…” Lana said, reaching for the box with the gem. Her initial surprise at being so directly integrated into this project did not last a moment, giving way to thoughts of the power that would be at her fingertips when she had that gem. Taking the box and cradling it in her hands, she looked up at Alice again. “Are there any dangers we are expecting? Or other aspects I will not find in Aurelia’s notes?”

Alice paused for a moment before she answered with a clear “No, none at all. Now I don’t wish to waste anymore time, unless you have anything else to ask me I must be on my way”
“Nothing else springs to mind…” Lana said, looking down at the gem once more. “A servant will show you out. It was good to meet you High Magister.” She spoke the platitudes absently, still trying to fully process what had just occurred. The amount of power and knowledge that she now held in this room was staggering.

Alice written by Duncan
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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Wraithblade6
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Wraithblade6 Interrogator Chaplain

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The Paladin and The Mercenary Lord

.................... A brief flaskback.

"I am Claus Rotstein, commander of the Steel Fist, second son of Adolf Rotstein, general of the concord forces in the east... who are you to take away command from me?" Claus boomed out....

Eclipse narrowed his eyes as he scrutinized this mercenary commander and lowered his swordpoint beside him. "I am Eclipse, Knight of Klebirthy, General of the Knights of Ralda, and brother to the Order of Saint Elenor. I swore myself to the Eight Gods of righteousness during the war against the mad king, a war lead by Andrew Manshrew!" The last words rang in the air for a long, stark pause, the emphasis of the man's name removing any doubt that the knight knew who he had just allowed to escape.
Eclipse heaved a heavy exhalation. "It was a war that many seem to have already forgotten."

"You are a massive Twat! ..." The rest of the encounter had gone for wrote (as described above) in the minds of the Steel Fist onlookers who witnessed it. Their valiant, and generous, leader besting the haughty representative of the lofty and unpopular ideals of religion.

In truth, despite their conflict of ideals, Eclipse could no more have brought himself to slay Claus than he could have Manshrew behind him a moment ago. Finding himself in a bind mid-battle without specific direction from the gods, the best he could manage was to sunder Rotstien's weapon. In between exchanges, Eclipse hesitated, turned lethal strikes into near-misses, and served as much non-lethal battering as he could, but didn't make it obvious. The Steel Fist general was undoubtedly strong and utterly refused to yield. Eclipse subconsciously made note of Claus' effectively sinister fighting style, and wondered briefly if he would pay for his ideals with his life against this man. Certainly, it had been laid on the table.

As the minutes passed, a ring was formed around them. The gathering mercenaries cheered and jeered, but none dared intervene. With the preceding events jarred from his memory, Eclipse felt cold hard earth hit his back as he fell. His skull rang and his awareness wavered briefly before clearing. He was breathing hard, then he felt a cruel weight settle on his chest and pin him. He grunted against it but didn't struggle, rather accepting his inevitable defeat, fully aware of the fact he had been spared. "Why?" The blonde knight panted and lolled his head as he thought of the answer. "It was the honorable thing to do."

**Some time later, with Claus sitting next to the tied-up Eclipse.

"You have some guts to stare down the entire fist. You are stupid, but have guts. I'll give 'ya that." Claus was now drinking some water. Shaking his head. Bloody paladins he thought.

The blonde knight's only answer seemed to be an exasperated sigh as he squeezed his eyes shut and let his head fall back against the crate behind him with a pained expression. He swallowed, leaning there with his hands bound behind him. His eyes remained closed for the moment, as if he had no words to explain himself. Finally, an answer came in a calm voice, "I do what had to be done, Claus Rotstein. The Gods do not come to Formaroth to manifest their will themselves. They steer us, like captains steering ships in a storm. It seems there are times those ships will inevitably clash." Eclipse looked at Claus then, his blue eyes vacant of malice but belying a resolute determination within. "Despite your vile orders Rotstein, I believe you are not a man without honor. I can see it in the eyes of your men. They may follow you out of their own avarice and pride, but for many, there is something more, a noble respect that flows from belief in a man's soul. This is why I could not kill you when we fought, and this is why you spared my life."

Claus was a bit surprised when Eclipse spoke, looked like he was only half listening but was in fact all ears and followed with sitting down next to the paladin offering some water. "You are right there sir, while i ain't a fancy noble i'm not part of the rabble either. Comes with being a burgher, fathers usually knock some sense into their kids." He paused. "I don't have to be a bad man to do bad work after all." Followed by one of his smirks. Katrina was standing a few steps away gave him a smile before realizing Claus had seen her and returned to her duties. His response was shaking his head before returning his attention to Eclipse.

"Thank you." Eclispe said as he took some of the water. He noticed Claus exchange looks with the woman as he contemplated what he should say next, given his position. Thoughts of gods and kings came to mind, of history, justice, scripture, yet none of it seemed to carry enough weight to matter in this particular moment. King Duncan had been the one ordained to rule, yet Lord Manshrew apparently wasn't yet meant to die. Why would Eclipse have been thrown into the man's path otherwise? Manshrew was something more than an enemy. He had to be, for there had to be some reason why Eclipse had been moved to give over his reigns. The paladin's brow creased slightly in consternation. He was now in a precarious situation of dubious loyalty. He didn't have the answers he would have liked at that moment, but his faith remained strong. The Eight always had a plan, even if he did not yet know what it was.

"Who is she?" Asked the knight, forsaking everything else to attend to the one spark of light he had seen flicker between this woman and Claus in the darkened moment. He considered it was probably better not to think about himself any more, and to instead step aside and let the gods do their work with human hearts.

"She? Katrina Nikos. She joined the fist just before the Telmarion campaign. Came in all high and mighty to a inn and declared she was what the fist needed." Claus smiled. "She got everyone a good laugh at it. But she wasn't too bad with a sword when i tried her out and she seemed to want in. So i let her." He then Scratched his right arm and stretched his neck a bit. "Young lass got some fighting spirit, but lacks experience." Claus followed with taking another few gulps of water.

Eclipse's expression warmed genuinely for a moment, but a solemnity slowly sapped the sympathetic smile from his face. He sighed and shifted uneasily with his wrists still bound behind him. "Gods..." He slipped an utterance before he realized it, which then had to be followed. "I wait, on you." He said, stilling himself and remembering to be patient. A scuff on his cheek where Claus had punched him suddenly seemed to be gone, and the knight was resting quietly.

"Wait on what?" Claus asked out loud, having missed the gods part and thought Eclipse was adressing him. He then got a bit confused when a scuff on the paladins cheek which was there a moment ago was clearly gone. "You some sort of mage or something?" He asked Eclipse with a slight frown.

Eclipse looked up at him and blinked a moment, then he realized after following the man's gaze what had happened that had spurrned the question. "Ah. I see now why you ask. No. I am not a mage. I was praying, and sometimes Jykher or Leplo see fit to bless me, or others, when I do so. It is a gift and a sign to assure me that I am on the right path, to reassure my faith... or possibly yours." Blue eyes turned the attention back onto Claus, putting him unexpectedly on the spot and narrowing at him with an accusatory, lightly amused smile. "They watch us all, Claus, and they are not nearly as uncaring as many would have you beleive. With even a little faith, Nidanke can move mountains."

Claus gave Eclipse a raised eyebrow and spoke with utter skeptiscism. "Riiight. Jykher just fixed yer chin up." He resumed a more natural look when he realised how he must've looked. "Don't have much need of them to be honest, i however shout at Timtos from time to time. Either he's scared of me or finds me funny, either way seems the old chap is looking after me seeing what i've gotten through."
Claus recalled his latest mad stunt and laughed out and shook his head. "Ever jumped off a castle to attack an elephant?" He was smiling dumbly while looking at Eclipse as he stood up to strech a bit.

A blonde eyebrow raised. "No... That sounds like quite the story. Surely there is purpose intended for you."

Clause continued. "The siege of Clarm, Andrew had sent a massive elephant bull to tear down the gates to the fortress. Which was still making headway after i had had it shot with ballistas, crossbows and insults was still tearing down the gate. So i was forced to try and kill it myself, I shouted at Timtos there that if this didn't work i'd kick his ass in the afterlife..." Claus paused and looked at Eclipse. "That's the sort of prayers i do, anyway i climbed the fortress roofs, felled a flagpole and used it to ramp myself towards the bull... I sort of slammed into it and broke my sword in half." Claus paused and seemed to gaze into the distance and stifled a laugh.

"I somehow managed to kill it, it then fell over me and i miraculously wasn't crushed by it." Now he looked at the paladin. "So no need to preach, i've already got Timtos on a leash!" Which was followed by a massive smirk and a laugh betraying his humour.

Eclipse sighed heavily after listening to the story and shook his head. "Such irreverance." The mercinary captain was abrasively cocky, and his flippant association with the great god of war and honor was shocking for the holy knight to behold. "In any case, Sir Rotstein, I will not be your final judge. Your relationship with the divine is your own to define. I am merely glad you lean in the right direction." Eclipse shifted, once again growing uncomfortable with his bindings. The irony of the situation hit him as he finished his last words. A paladin, a servant of the Eight and yet a traitor, lecturing a morally ambiguous mercinary from a seat on the ground... He contemplated his captor for a moment. "What do you intend for me?"

Claus eyed him from top to bottom and then gave his answer. "Don't know, someone probably wants to have you back, so the best thing to do is simply ransom you. It's the best option after all. One does the right thing, and get paid for it." He made the classic rubbing money gest and smirked. "One can even pretend that i am one of the good guys when i heave down the beer that the ransom money bought."

"Very well then."

Suddenly a rider arrived, a Cawanor horseman bearing a missive. "Message for general Claus Rotstein." The man said in a non nonsense kind of way, Claus got all boastful of being called general and smiling stood up and asnwered.

”Yes, that’s me.”

”You are to meet king Patrick De’Reimer, please follow me.” After he said that he gestured with his arm and went to his horse to mount.

To his annoyance Claus didn’t call for a horse, instead he walked alongside the rider......

With that, Eclipse was left with some guards. Some of the steel fist vanguard.

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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by AndrewCooper
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The Manshrew Alliance was on the run and the morale of the soldiers was low. Dearon was dead and Serala hadn’t been seen since the Lanistarks charged into Patrick deceptive maneuver. Andrew was tired he had not slept properly for three days and as he turned to look at what was left of his ‘Alliance’, he could see that everyone was as tired as him. They needed sleep. Andrew stopped as did the rest, he slowly raised his hand with most of the strength that he had left.

He shouted “We rest here tonight!”

As he said this most of the soldiers collapsed to the ground with relief. But Andrew could not rest just yet he need to see what the path ahead was like, so he could prepare. But before he could he heard Maror calling for him. Andrew turned to see what he wanted.

“Andrew what are you doing?” said Maror.

Andrew could see that Maror’s was struggling to stand. “What do you mean Maror?”

“The enemy lies in the other direction. Why do we run from them? We should make our stand and die in glory.” Maror replied as he continued to walk to Andrew. As he did, his foot was caught be a rock. Maror who was so exhausted at this point began to fall. Andrew with what little strength he had managed to catch him. The two of them steadily sat on the ground to catch their breath.

Andrew who was struggling to catch some breath replied “Maror, I understand your need to fight, but with the numbers we have and the state that we are all in, we wouldn’t last two minutes against the Concord. That is why we are heading to Uzgob. I told Lady Neptuna to take her fleet and meet us at Fort Scarab. If we can get to Uzgob then we can hold the advantage.”

“And do what?” as Maror snapped back “To die in the desert all so you can get back to your castle.”
“If we have to!” Andrew shouted “It’s been weeks since I’ve heard from Alun. I left him in charge before I left to fight this damn war. If somethings happened to him, then Uzgob might be in danger. Also, if we get to the city we might have a chance to plan a counter attack against the Concord.”

Andrew started to see that Maror was starting to fall asleep. “Go, get some rest and we’ll talk about this later”.
Maror nodded and slowly got up and walked off back to his soldiers. Andrew sighed he knew that he was delaying the inevitable. The Alliance was over, and Andrew had lost the war. The only thing that he cared about now was getting home and seeing his family again. As he thought about Diana and seeing her beautiful face again he slowly began to fall asleep.

“Lord Andrew?” a voice whispered, but it was enough to wake Andrew up. He had no idea how long he had slept but the slowly rising sun soon answered his queries. He looked up to see Lady Grim standing over him.

“Lord Andrew? Are you awake?” asked Lady Grim.

“I am now” replied Andrew as he got up.

“Good” she said “I need to tell you that I am taking my company away from here before you meet the concord for the last time. I am sorry for your losses and I hope the best for you in the future.” Lady Grim started to walk away but Andrew quickly pursued her and grasped her shoulder.

“Wait!” yelled Andrew. “My men need your mages.”

“You have plenty of men in your army that are capable of tending to your injured.” Replied Lady Grim.

“Yes but the injured will never survive the journey through the desert” said Andrew.

Lady Grim turned to face him. Andrew continued “With your mages they stand a chance and that is why I need you. Once you help me get my men to Andromeda I will give you a year’s worth of pay in hand and then you and your company will be free to do as you wish.”

Lady Grim thought over this offer. That was too much money to turn down, she would have to be mad to reject it. She also respected Andrew’s admiration for his men even though most of the injured may not survive the journey even with the help of her mages. But the thought of a big bag of coins in her hand was too tempting to turn down.

“Very well.” Said Lady Grim “I will help you but as long as you hold your end of this deal.”

“I promise you Lady Grim, I never back down from a promise.” Said Andrew while holding out his hand. The two of them shook hands to confirm the deal. Lady Grim walked off to reconvene with her company. Andrew looked over his Alliance and as the sun rose he began to feel the warmth of it on his back he turned to look at the path ahead. It wasn’t going to be easy but soon Andrew would see his home and family once again.
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Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by Wraithblade6
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Suffer no Fear


At the Steel Fist camp, nightfall:

Evennis had been assigned by Patrick to take care of the traitor who had allowed Andrew to escape. In some way Evennis was grateful; had Andrew been captured then it would have been the end of the war and Evennis hadn’t been in a proper fight in years, it would be a shame for it all to end after his first battle. Either way the man’s actions had been foolish and now he had to pay the price. Night had fallen over the Steels fist’s camp and the majority of the fist’s soldiers were already drunk. Evennis made his way over to the tent that held the Paladin within, or at least he thought he was; the directions the drunk mercenary had given him had been vague to say the least. When he entered he immediately noticed the man who sat before him; it was the same paladin whom he had met on the morn of battle.

“Didn’t expect to see you again” Evennis said with a laugh.

The blonde knight was being held inside tent guarded by two watchmen outside. Evennis found him still dressed in the armor he had fought in, now dented and tarnished from the battle. He appeared to be resting, albeit uncomfortably, but appeared no worse for wear as far as any serious injury. His wrists were bound behind him and his sword lay out of reach, unrecognized for what it was. A light came to his face upon the sound of a familiar voice, and Eclipse lifted his head. "As I praise the gods." He said with a ring of surprise. "If it isn't the brother who fought righteously by my side. It is a relief to see you alive and well my friend Evennis. I regret I cannot rise from my place to properly greet you." Eclipse wasn’t certain how much the man had heard, but his laughter put the paladin at ease for the moment, giving him the courage to make light of the situation. Surely there were many who would rather see Eclipse beaten or killed in repayment for his crime, and without Claus’ protection that very easily could be his end. He was well aware of that fact.

“I just wish we could meet on better circumstances” Evennis replied with a grimace on his face “from what I gather you allowed the enemy king to escape,An act my liege has not taken too kindly. I’m afraid I am not here today is your friend but as your executioner”

“Executioner? Ah. So the mercenary Rotstein has already found a buyer for my life. That was… quick.” The knights handsome face frowned in disappointment. “I suppose I must forgive him for his part in this. The plans of the divine are often not immediately apparent, and even I for one cannot claim such clarity except through faith. And faith is different in all of us isn’t it?” Eclipse leaned his head back acquiescently, the emblem of the radiant circle easily visible on his breastplate.

“If I am to die, then let it be so. The Eight above have the right to take my life, and I have no doubts that they would do so only if it best suited their purposes. I have done what they have asked of me. So now, I am given to you Evannis, and I forgive you for dutifully carrying out the order of whatever lord has paid to see it done yet lacked the honor to carry it out himself. Such pre-emptive judgement.” Eclipse’s brow furrowed disapprovingly, for he was trained in law and a Justicar in his native lands. He knew he was being deprived of a proper trial and consideration by appropriate moral authority. He sighed, reflecting on his life’s meaning and searching for the spark of hope in the darkness as he always did. “Perhaps in time, Rotstein will be moved into changing his ignoble ways, and maybe this war will end with a truly peaceful resolution rather than ending in an eternal schism of hate between the people of Formaroth. That is what the gods truly will to happen, Evannis. Let that peace be my epitaph.”

“I fear you hope for too much” Evennis said with a sign as he lifted Eclipse to his feet “This way” He gestured to outside the tent, he allowed Eclipse to move freely of his own will. He doubted he would try and run away. Despite what Eclipse did, Evennis couldn’t help but feel sorry for the man. He was a warrior through and through and had fought well in the battle, and now he was to be killed like a rabid dog.

It's true it wasn't fair, but this was the kind of thing that happened every day. How much sway did the gods really have in the world when things were so far from perfect? Eclipse rose and walked ahead of Evennis with no resistance. Although his hands were tied, he still might have been able to shrug off a few men and make a run for the trees under the cover of night. Certainly others in his position would have tried it, but the paladin made no such attempt. He had a unique agreement with fate, and it required the utmost in self control, to trust that which could not be seen. To deviate from that path, to doubt even for a moment, would break that contract and not only forfeit his life, but worse, it would render him useless to his divine lords. Eclipse maintained his dignity in silence as his fellow led him across the encampment.

Evennis led Eclipse out of the camp into the dead of the night, the mercenaries were all too drunk to even notice. As Evennis continued to walk with Eclipse his doubt increased. Did Eclipse deserve to die? As far as Evennis could tell the steel fist had dishonored themselves, afterall there was no fun in attacking a fleeing enemy. Even from a strategic point of view Eclipse was worth more alive than dead. He was a capable leader and a strong warrior who could serve the Concord well. Eventually Evennis brought Eclipse to a halt, they were now secluded away from anyone else. Evennis drew his sword and pointed it at Eclipses neck, he hesitated as he continued to debate what to do. Eventually he made his decision, he moved the sword away from Eclipses neck and instead slashed at the binds at his hands.

Eclipse had to blink a few times before he realized what was happening. This man, this warrior and brother, was setting him free. At first, he said nothing, silenced by the sudden rush of contemplation as the future unexpectedly opened wide again before him. Carefully, he rubbed his wrists, turning his blue eyes, now dark grey in the dim light, on his warden. “Son of the gods, child of Leplo…” He kept his voice down in his exclamations. “Evennis, I swear to you that your choice will not have been made in vain. The gods smile down upon us both this day.” Rather it was night, but terms of expression.

The man then held out a sword to him, knowing the paladin would need it. Of course, it was Eclipse’s own sword, which Evennis must have gathered upon their exit from the Iron Fists camp. The words, Spem in Tenebris, ran in stylized script down its length. Eclipse took it graciously, and a knowing smile graced his dusty features. “Thank you my friend. It always finds a way to return to me, you know, this sword… but that is another story for another time.”

“Blessed Nidanke pave the way, we have work to do!” Newfound energy surged through the holy knight. He put his hand on Evennis’ shoulder in a brotherly fashion. “May the gods show you their favor and lead you always. I am going back to the capitol, back to Nyhem, to reconvene with my order. I shall keep the details of my little ‘escape’ to myself, should anyone ever hear of it or know what knight it was who had spared the enemy. Suffer no fear for doing the work of the divine, dear brother. Fear is the sword with which the dark ones battle the light. I bid you fairwell.” With that, the lion-maned knight turned and vanished into the night.
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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Sundered Echo
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Sundered Echo

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As soon as the all powerful gem had come into her possession, Lana immediately began to consider ways to keep it safe but available at the same time. Eventually, she had come to the conclusion that it was most safe in only one place - on her person. And so, she set about arranging for it to be placed in a necklace for her to wear at all times. It was easy enough to commission a piece from one of the many jewelers in Nyhem, yet getting it done immediately instead of after the other projects the nobles and occasional well off commoner had commissioned before her was more difficult.

Yet coin solves many problems, and after she had showered her chosen jeweler in silver pieces, he brought forward the priority of her request. It was hard to give the gem to someone else, even for this, and even for such a short period of time. She found herself unwilling to leave the shop while the man worked, regularly bugging the Jeweler’s assistant for updates on his progress. It was quite rude and unbecoming behavior by her standards… Yet she hardly noticed she was doing it. All she could think about was the fact that some mundane fool was poking at the most potent magical artifact in the city without the first clue of how important it was.

Eventually, the man was done, and brought the necklace with the gem - a simple, unadorned piece that consisted only of a fine silver chain, a plain silver ring housing for the gem, and of course the gem itself. She quickly put it on, and only once she could feel the cold stone against her breast did she feel secure again. She paid the man without incident - giving him a frankly exorbitant sum for such plain work - and promptly left to attend to other business.

~| Some time late - Thale Manor |~

Lana had been studying much of late. Aurelia had kept many notes, and it had taken a great deal of time to get through them all… But she had finally done it. It had cost her time in court, and time frolicking amongst the waves or trees, yet despite the cost, it had been worth it. The gain in theoretical knowledge of the gem alone was significant. There was even more than that, Aurelia had had several projects running and independent research as well. Lana had devoured that knowledge too, but unfortunately some of the higher order theory was beyond even her. Despite being several years Aurelia’s senior, Lana had never quite kept up with her friend in theoretical research.

Time in her past spent politicking and accidentally creating myths of forest nymphs, mermaids and other such playful yet elusive creatures was not time spent studying. And even had she restricted her appetites for fun and manipulation in favor of study, she was no prodigy in high theory.

She reflected upon this as she began studying Drevala’s works - another mage who’s dedication and natural talent outstripped her own. Of course Lana had contributed a little to the Circle’s ever growing library and catalogue of magics… But she knew she would never be remembered for these meager cantrips or subtle mergings of illusion with other schools.

Her latest work, which she had found only the time to, with the aid of the Gem’s raw power, brute force into existence, was the merging of timed glyphs with short illusions. Replacing the stored elemental energy of a glyph with a static image or a short sound would be useful for communication, but without creating a method that could be easily replicated by others it was not even worth sending a letter to the local mages about, much less the Circle.

No. She would be remembered… But not for that.

As she leafed through Drevala’s book, she noticed something land on the small balcony outside her third floor room. Moving swiftly, but not so much as to look like she was hiding something, she closed the book and sheathed its drab cover in an illusion as she stood and moved to put it back on the shelf. When she noticed that the bird on the balcony was shape shifting not into a local colleague, but Drevala herself, she slowed. There was no need to hide the book from its author after all.

Drevala was, as usual after most non-combat shape shifts, completely naked. Lana immediately felt her cheeks and ears heating up - not so much at the sight itself, but at the idea of someone on the street below seeing a strange naked woman on her balcony. Thankfully, Drevala quickly opened the always-unlocked balcony door and entered the room. Lana only waited to put the book on the shelf before rushing to embrace her friend. Drevala returned the embrace, holding on longer than Lana expected. When she finally pulled away, she couldn’t help but notice that her friend looked… distant.

Stepping to the side and opening a draw with some of her travel clothes for the shape-shifting mage to put on, Lana spoke first. “My friend, it is good to see you. What news from the front?” There was concern, but also gladness, in her voice.

Drevala replied as she pulled the simple but warm clothes on. “Lana I… I’m afraid you will have one less new sister.” Drevala spoke softly - it seemed to Lana that she had not yet fully processed the loss.

“Beatrice has fallen in battle.” Lana said. It was not a question, for it was the only logical assumption under the circumstances.

“Yes.” Drevala replied unnecessarily. “The victory of our armies seems hollow when it comes at such cost.” It was strange for Lana to see her normally quietly exuberant friend looking so dejected.

Lana stepped forward and put her hand on her friends shoulder in a comforting gesture. She knew it must be hurting Drevala deeply to suffer such a loss, and her heart skipped a beat in concern for how Eli might be handling it. Yet she felt little over Beatrice herself; for Lana had barely known the, by all accounts, rather simple and brutish woman. “Drevala I’m so sorry. Who…” She hesitated a moment, wondering if this was the right question to ask, then pressed on anyway. “Who bested her? Was vengeance claimed at least?”

Drevala reached up to put her hand over Lana’s, glancing down at it for a moment, then stepping away and sitting on the end of the bed. “It was Andrew. He is relentless in his hatred of my family. Father was there too - he would’ve taken Andrew’s head, but was slowed as the coward sent his men to die for him on the Old Man’s blade. Andrew escaped certain doom many times that day.”

Lana poured two goblets of clear water as Drevala spoke, taking in the news. She handed one to her friend, then took the chair across across from her. “That man has caused your-” She stopped, then with a quick, halfhearted smile corrected herself. “Our family much sorrow. One day, he will pay for that. I promise you.” She let the words hang in air, her eyes taking on an unnatural fire to them for just a moment.

Drevala did not notice the vicious expression that momentarily overcame Lana’s face however, for she was staring into her own reflection on the surface of the water in the goblet. “Maybe if I had been faster…” she began, slowly.

Lana was no expert on grief or counseling those struck by it, but she knew that this line of thought would go nowhere good. “No. It was not your fault. If your father could not save her with all his might, then you would likely have had little chance either. Think no more of this.” After a brief moment she thought it better to move the topic on. “Tell me, what of the armies mage contingent? Were there injuries?”

Drevala looked up at Lana then, her expression pained. “Lana I’m sorry…” She said, her tone hesitant.

Lana’s face went pale then as her mind rushed through worst case scenarios. She was silent, but kept her gaze on Drevala, willing her friend to continue.

“Two thirds of the contingent were killed, and half of the survivors injured.” Drevala eventually managed, meekly.

It was all Lana could do to control the energy sparking at her fingertips - she gripped the arms of her chair to avoid her hands balling into fire wreathed fists. Suddenly the gem felt heavy on her breast. “Which fool allowed this disaster to occur?” She asked, her voice deathly quiet but filled with venom.

Drevala looked very uncomfortable, recoiling from the sight of her friends fury - a sight she had not witnessed before. Her hand fidgeted with the goblet and she avoided eye contact as she answered. “It was Patrick De Reimer. He deployed them to counter the Alliance Elephant charge. They did, but the enemies light cavalry overran them before they could withdraw. I tried to save them all, but the enemy was too fast.”

“De Reimer!” She stood abruptly, her voice raising several octaves. “Why didn’t Eli stop him from using such a dangerous tactic!” She near screeched, her rage boiling over. “Patrick! I’m going to -” Her voice broke and as she repeated her unformed threat the intensity dropped off sharply. For all the fire of her rage, it was short lived. She wanted to hate Patrick for his actions. She wanted to hate Eli for his inaction. Yet she could not escape the nagging truth - she had sent many of those mages to that battlefield herself.

When she looked at Drevala again she saw her friend recoiling back with a shocked, almost afraid, look on her face. The sight brought her sharply back to present. She forcibly relaxed every muscle in her body, then blinked in surprise as she felt tears rolling down her cheeks. “I’m sorry Drevala.” She said, dejected. She began to turn away, but stopped as Drevala stood and put her hand on Lana’s shoulder. Turning back, she stared for a moment, then tentatively took her friend into an embrace. She was relieved to feel arms around her back as Drevala returned the gesture.

Speaking softly, and without any emotion at all Lana could only say - “I hope this is all worth the price in the end.”

Drevala spoke then, her voice confident and reassuring now. “It’s alright. I’ve got you. We will all be alright.”

Lana and Drevala stood then for a long while, each taking solace in the arms of the other, grateful, even if for entirely different reasons...
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Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by ZB1996
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ZB1996

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Written by me and TheDuncanMorgan
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Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by Klomster
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Klomster The man, the myth, the legend.

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The after-math of the battle.


The battle had been immense, dead everywhere, corpses laid in massive piles and mass graves being dug just to get rid of all the corpses.
War was a bloody business, but a lucrative business. Claus knew this full well as he strolled around in his makeshift encampment where his men were doing all sorts of things. Some were peeling potatoes, some were carrying firewood, others carried bags of loot. But Claus didn't see that.
He however bumped a trooper so that he was made aware that his captain was eying him, and got the hint.
The Steel fist doesn't loot.... officially.
Meaning all looting is to be kept professional, no obvious things.

In the distance Claus saw the multitudes of covered wagons comprising Manshrews baggage train, they were being prepared to be sent to the Concord baggage train and Katrina was hard at work taking inventory and making sure the right amount of things were sent off.
Claus had also had a talk with her about how things were done in the company, she had been slightly taken back by it all but in the end accepted it.
After all, no one really got hurt by it and the dead weren't mocked, regardless of origin.

Seeing the covered wagons also reminded Claus of the jackpot this whole battle had yielded.
Running straight into the Manshrew rear, nabbing basically the whole baggage train, massive amounts of food, weapons, horses and last but
not least.... money.
Being the frugal individual he was, the food and weapons were dutifully given to the concord, along with the Manshrew warchest.
It would be long after the battle, perhaps even the war until some coinpushing scribe with inky fingers figured out that three fourths of the money had disappeared. Along with the better looking swords and armours from the wagons.
Right into the pockets of the Steel fist, oh how they would rejoice after they got home.
Something else he noticed was that as darkness fell, his troops were beginning to show signs of inebriation. This was something that fascinated Claus, drinking on duty is prohibited to a single mug of light ale or cider per meal, water could be drunk in any quantity. Yet somehow the men always managed to find, get or otherwise smuggle with them enough drinks to have a party after almost every victory.
He shook his head, at least they were not singing drinking songs loudly...... wait, scratch that. Claus thought as he heard the bawls of some troopers from up left.
He ignored this as he moved to where his prisoner would be, some Evennis person would come and execute the poor sod apparently. Too bad Claus thought, that meant he wouldn't be getting his ransom, he had dutifully acknowledged Patrik De'Reimers descision in the matter.
Now he just wanted to see the mess left after it.
On the walk he thought of the other mercenaries, they would have to learn proper Steel fist conduct if they accepted his offer tomorrow. The Steel fist is the mercenary company with the highest standard of drill, equipment and individual skill in the whole of Formaroth, rules were never broken and orders were followed without hesitation....
Well, a few rules were a bit vague on purpose, others the captains had a tendency to 'miss noticing' as they were broken.

As Claus reached the prison area he noticed a lack of both guards and prisoners. Both alive and dead.
After a quick search he found his guard rummaging through a chest, apparently trying to find a new left glove. Claus called out to him.
-"Where's the prisoner?"
-"The paladin? Wasn't he ransomed?" The soldier answered with a question with a genuine surprise.
-"Nope, excecuted. Looking for the corpse, he had a fancy armour and sword after all." Claus was starting to look here and there, the soldier joined in as he noted.
-"No idea then, perhaps George knows. GEORGE!!!"
-"What?" A slightly sleep drunk voice replied.
Claus went to the source and found George in a pile of clothes with a bottle of wine. Claus took said wine and asked.
-"Where's the prisoner."
First George looked annoyed, then realized it was the captain that took the wine. Making a pathetic attempt at straightening up he slurred.
-"Strange, this fancy concord guy came and they left. I thought it was to pick him up for ransom. They went that way."
As he pointed he passed out, Claus shook his head as he took the wine with him, sipping it to calm his nerves.
He walked in the direction George had pointed out. It took Claus out into the tree line, the lights and the noises was easily made out from the distant camp a few hundred yards away.
There was no blood, no grave, no secret meeting. Just a few bent branches and a suspicious amount of flattened grass.

Did he escape? Was he taken? Released? The blood cleaned up? Or killed with poison?
Scratching his chin, he pondered for a while before realizing that no matter what, Eclipse wasn't here. Nor this Evennis type.
Taking a large gulp of wine, he exhaled strongly baring his teeth before tossing the bottle and returning to camp.

Next day.


The following morning Claus brought some of his vanguard and moved to the encampment of the other mercenaries. He spoke to their captain and arranged a meeting where most of the troops would hear out what Claus had to say.
-"Hello again troopers, i am sure you remember me. I worked my ass off so that not everyone died in the first battle against the alliance." The response was some nods and murmurs. He wasn't lying.
-"Seeing i got most of you through that one, and sent you to support this army, ensuring its victory, i'd say i've shown you i'm at least a decent commander.
So my proposition is simple. Anyone here who wants are encouraged to join the Steel fist. Since i see you all as damn fine troops." He made a dramatic pause.
-"But do remember, the fist is the toughest merc company around, the work is hard and the drill is harsh but the pay is high. So what say you?"
-"If you feel like joining up, we'll be moving out later today. We'll return to Nyhem. There we'll deck you out in the proper gear and you'll work your ass off training.... after the victory party that is." Claus finished with one of his telltale smirks, he got a few jeers and cheers.
-"So if you feel like it, just come by the Steel fist camp. It's up north. If you don't want to join, i'll think no less of you. Now i'll bid you farewell."

With that Claus stepped down from the makeshift speakers podium made from a crate, a few followed there and then, a bunch more would come around during the day.
This was all good and fine, but Claus knew that this was a drastic measure. The Steel fist had almost been halved, perhaps more during this conflict. He was in desperate need of reinforcements and he had no time to train some poor sods from the ground up.

As he was returning to his own encampment, he noticed a procession of men carrying a casket with a beautiful banner covering it, followed by other dead in a grave procession.
Looking at the colours, the heraldry, he realized it was Blackwell troops.
Curious about the fancy chest, he moved up to some blackwell soldiers who stood with no helms but with heads straight in respect of the fallen.
Claus took off his own helmet and joined in, just now noticing the old man Blackwell himself at the fore of the procession.
Makins sure to not disturb the grand picture, Claus dared to whisper to a soldier a question.
-"Sorry for asking, but did someone of the Blackwells die in the battle?" The soldier at first didn't answer, but as Claus was about to give up he got a truly melancholic but not depressed answer.
-"Lady Beatrice Blackwell, died fighting the Manshrew bastard Andrew in personal combat. May he die the most gruesome death at the hand of lord Giles."
Claus thought for a moment, then remembered the name, the war maiden, the mysterious warrior princess with the wooden sword. He felt honestly sad that she had died before they could have had a sparring match and a good drink.
-"Damn sad, she said we should have a drink sometime unless we have to fight each other in the war. I was looking forward to that one... she seemed like a woman worth hanging out with." Claus said silently with a heartfelt melancholy.
-"Yeah, she was." The man spoke with reverence.
-"I'll have to drink one toast for her memory then... 'death comes for us all' was it? Your saying?" Claus tried to remember the Blackwell motto.
-"Death's no stranger." The soldier corrected him without looking.
-"Ah, sorry... death's no stranger." Claus said with an honest feel, it was a good saying, it fit well with his own company as well.
He staid for a while to pay respect to the fallen, then returned to other duties.

A bunch of troops, new recruits and several wagons moved out in that afternoon. Claus had made sure every single one brought a horse, so the entire company was actually mounted at the moment. Something that no one was sure had ever happened in Steel fist history before.
They took a detour past the landing camp set up near the shore when Claus first arrived in Telmarion.
Picking up some of the things, a few tents and cettles. Surprisingly, not much had been taken. Manshrew apparently didn't loot, or he saw no need for tents and cooking utensils.

The trip went west, to where Patrik De'Reimer had prepared ships that would take the Steel fist back to Sypius plains.

Arrival at the capitol.


The trip across the Inan sea was uneventful, soon the Steel fist disembarked and marched upon Nyhem. Some of the scouts were sent beforehand to warn the city about their arrival, something the nice city folk apparently appreciated, somehow they don't like a large portion of elite troops randomly arriving and taking over their taverns and inns.
Something that was worrying though was the columns of smoke that could be seen in the distance, it only became clear that something was really wrong as they came within a miles range and the scouts returned.
-"The city is in riot sir, apparently religious." The head scout reported to Claus, whom found the situation troubling.

A large uprising in Nyhem, wars all over Formaroth. These were dark times indeed.
Claus was beginning to set up camp outside Nyhem when a royal messenger arrived, with his nice yellow jacket, with the green beret adorned with a red feather fastened with a silver brooch.
He had a slight fatigue to his voice but rigorous etiquette and proper conduct training made it barely noticeable.
-"Message for the captain of the Steel fist." His voice was heard almost as well as Claus own, the steelhead moved up to the messenger and took the letter he held out for him.

Claus read quickly and murmured 'i see' close to the end. After finishing he turned to the messenger and said.
-"Tell the good king he got himself an expert riot suppression force." The messenger gave a sharp nod and then with with a 'hiyaa' spurred his horse into a fast ride towards Nyhem.
Claus wasted no time and began to bark orders.
-"Alright men, there's a riot in Nyhem, that letter offered me the job of stopping it which i have accepted. Go bring the cudgels and the training polearms, this operation is to be made with as few deaths as possible... on both sides. NOW MOVE IT!!!" Claus boomed out and was answered with salutes and yes sirs.
-"Katrina, you're in charge of setting up camp, use the new guys since we haven't got their kit yet. Roogel, you're with me." The two acknowledged him from where they stood and quickly moved out.

It didn't take long until the Steel fist was set up in their usual spear wall formation, ever with the perfect ranks of drilled soldiers. The look was however a bit odd seeing they were armed with staffs with wooden striking heads with a layer of thick leather around. Simulating roughly the weight of one of the halberds, along with cudgels in their belts.
Claus and Roogel got hold of a sturdy battle staff each and set out to lead the excursion into the city, a horn call was made to the gate guards who opened the gates seeing the Steel fist banners.
-"Right Roogel, time to go to work." Claus told his old friend, who nodded in response and spoke.
-"Yeah, it'll be like a right 'ol bar fight, except even more fun." He was grinning, Claus shook his head, Roogels love for friendly bar fights was legendary and this would surely be a right good stomping. Poor sods he thought as he envisioned the city folk trying to fight his soldiers. He knew how much more skilled they were than militia, and militia at least had some training.
Good thing he had ordered training weapons only, otherwise it would be a massacre.

"Bar fight".


The last time they had arrive in Nyhem it had been with great fanfare and joyous music, this time was massively different.
The city was even more mellow than last time, instead of banners raised halfway to grieve a dead monarch, several of the churches and houses were on fire and scores of people were rampaging through the streets.
-"Roogel, i'm starting to think there's something wrong with this place. Seems they can't keep a good mood even for a second." Claus shouted so that everyone present including the closest rioting mob could hear.
His answer was a shuckle from his lieutenant and several of the troops, the company a strange sight. Perfectly arrayed halberds and synched footfalls, laughing at a silly joke made in the most unsuitable of moments.

-"It's you guys! The iron fists!" A peasant shouted and pointed with an actual falchion he had managed to get hold of at Claus whom was in front of his formation. Claus was annoyed and sort of growled as he stretched his neck.
-"That's STEEL FIST you ignorant fool. Now stand down, drop the weapons and we can all go home without you getting horribly beaten and thrown in jail."
-"HA! We outnumber you, you're just merc scum! We can take you on! Come on lads!" The man shouted and managed to rile up the mob enough to approach the steel fist formation in a menacing way.
Had he been a drunk ganger, alone in an alleyway, this might have been intimidating, Claus however was sorely impressed and simply raised his fist and shouted once. The troops behind him with a simultaneous shout went into a perfect wall of arrayed training halberds.
-"Final warning, one more step and you are dead." Claus shouted, one or two here and there in the mob actually broke off now to hide, but many more were far to angry to stop.
-"You are just here as the snakes lap dog! We don't fear him!" This and other shouts and jeers were made, it was obvious these people felt betrayed.
These guys weren't religious fanatics though, which slightly confused Claus for a second but he quickly dismissed the thought.
-"Ver well then, MEN, READY!" Claus ordered and stepped back a step and thus was within the arrayed shafts of weapons, as did Roogel.

The mob charged in, tossing things and trying to smash the corpsmen with all manners of weapons and some even their fists. The effectiveness however was a lot like a child tossing eggs at the walls of Clarm. The spear wall making a perfect job of keeping the rioters at a distance.
-"STEP!" Claus boomed out and was hailed with a shout as the formation pushed forward a step with such force that the rioters were pushed back.
Every three or so seconds Claus repeated the order, and every step pushed the mob backwards.
The mob soon routed, Claus and Roogel ran in and felled and knocked down several of the fleeing while some crossbowmen tied the hands of the downed, both in front of and behind the line.

With ruthless efficiency, brutality and imposing presence and commands, Claus went around and took out all major groupings of rioters he came upon. Many fled as soon as they saw his force, many met the same fate as the first group, clobbered and beaten.
At one point the fist was ambushed, at one point they were stuck in a schiltrom and assaulted from five sides. But overall the fist once again showed its skill and efficiency.

They detained many, and to Claus's great pride, there wasn't many deaths, just two. And none even went down in the fist. Sure many were bruised and battered but the armour and skill of the corpsmen made sure they were fit for fight still.

But several hours later, Claus retreated back outside bringing his men with him. Along with a bunch of prisoners.
Who were sat down and guarded by the regular mercs while the steel fist rested.
Hard work, gruesome hard work. No one really liked it, but it was better than going in and killing people. Especially when it was civilians.
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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Sundered Echo
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Sundered Echo

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The scene outside Thale Manor was chaotic as the riot erupted. A crowd had formed, including many who had been present the last time such an event occurred, though few would notice that fact. Some shouted Johannia’s name, others railed against the hoarding of wealth. Others still roared in a more wild rage, caught up in the crowd and the city's general unrest. Unlike the crowds elsewhere in the city though, this one was being egged on by a very well armed man. He had a fine mace at his side and wore a fine chain shirt - though this was somewhat obscured beneath his dark cloak and cowl. A few others also stood out amongst the crowd - big brutish men with crude but effective weapons and rough leather armor. Hired muscle to be sure - thugs that would give the crowd more punch if, or rather when, violence broke out.

Before the Manor’s grand doors stood Captain Moros and several House Thale guards, shields raised, but weapons still sheathed. Alongside the Captain, Sir Hansen of the Order of St. Elenor stood, longsword tip down… For now. He was sworn to safeguard Lady Dionisa from exactly this kind of threat, just as Moros and his guardsmen were sworn to safeguard the Manor and its occupants.

“Disperse! Go back to your homes!” Moros was yelling, though even his booming voice was drowned out by the din the crowd was making. Even the hooded man could barely be heard now as he whipped the crowd into frenzy. They shouted and pushed closer to thin line of armored men before the door - two sword lengths away, then one. Then they were pressing up against Moros, not yet attacking, but pushed forward by those behind. He shoved them away with his shield, many falling to the ground only to be trampled by the mass.

It was chaos. Seconds dragged on, then minutes, as the crowd shoved, shouted and roared. Then there was a clang of metal on metal as a hammer struck the shield of a guard. Swords were drawn - some of the front of the crowd tried to scramble away, though to no avail. Others saw it as provocation and struck at the guardsmen. Sir Hansen’s greatsword rose into the air - and was about to strike when a female voice cut through the roar of the crowd. It was commanding and proud. Powerful beyond the capacity of mortal lungs. It simply said “Stop.”

Above them all on the small second floor balcony, Lady Lanaya Dionisa stepped forth, and the crowd was silent. All eyes turned to her, some burning with hatred and rage, most fearful.

Someone in the crowd shouted “Kill the witch!”

Several rocks flew, aimed squarely at the fragile looking lady on the balcony. Apprehension filled the crowd for a moment. But then something unexpected happened. The rocks sparked off a glowing white barrier, being repelled back over the crowd’s heads at great speed only to shatter on the stone walls of the buildings behind them, showering them with shrapnel. As quickly as it had appeared, the barrier faded, only now two arcane glyphs, one each to either side of the balcony bled harsh witchlight out over the street.

The crowd froze, shocked into silence once more. This time, primal fear was etched into their faces. Lana spoke again, her voice still magically amplified, only now her eyes blazed with power and light radiated around her.

“This House is protected. This City is protected. Go back to your homes, lock the door, and await the dawn if you value life and limb.”

The crowd remained transfixed by the beautiful, yet terrible sight before them, though it was now evident many sought to leave. Lana continued, her voice now taking on an edge of challenge, and of wrath.

“To those heretics among you, to those who would see all mages burn. Come now, test your faith, your hate, against my will. My power is a gift from the true gods, and I will eagerly do their will by scourging your falsehood from this land!”

At that, there was motion in the crowd. Three of the thuggish brutes and two men with torches pushed forward, taking her challenge. She reached one hand up to the sky, then purposefully made a fist. The word of power she spoke split the sky itself. A great fork of lightning snaked down from the cloudless sky in an instant. It split into five tendrils, each sought one of the men moving towards her. The bolts struck perfectly. All five targets were charred to a cinder instantaneously, the blackened remains falling to the ground. The silence persisted only a moment longer as the events of the past seconds sank in.

Then the mass of people broke, running, fleeing as fast as they could, their faces masks of abject terror. Within seconds, the street was empty, save for the five charred corpses and the thin line of the houses guardians.

Moros had barely begun to congratulate his Lady when he noticed more witchlight from the balcony above. Then a swift bird with a streak of orange-red around its neck took to the air. It circled for a moment to gain altitude, then soared in the direction of the palace.

---

Lana circled above the city for a few minutes, quickly confirming her suspicions. It was a city-wide riot. From the shouts she had heard outside her own dwelling, it seemed to have two distinct elements: one religious - the mad heretics of Johannia, an apparently more capable foe than she had first thought… And the discontented general populous. With the recent string of monarchs being bled dry by the Ironbarks, the people had begun to feel the financial pressure as well. The war had only worsened matters. Nyhem had been a midsummer bonfire just waiting for a spark. A spark Lana was eager to lay at the feet of Johannia.

The scene below was horrific. Lana had never seen the sights of war herself, but this is how she imagined it would be. Fires, thankfully still fairly small, dotted the city. Mostly churches, but several manors in the garden district were ablaze as well, and someone had evidently accidentally lit several smaller structures in the market on fire as well.

The masses writhed through the city, clustering around a few locations consistently but otherwise on the move. The Market was filled with looters and the Garden district was being hit hard - the people evidently deciding to take out their displeasure on the wealthy nobles. The bank of Nyhem was besieged, but the Ironbark guards seemed to be keeping them at bay, at least for the moment. There was a notable absence around her own Manor - her display of power had apparently been effective. She could see the banners of the Steel Fist merc company proceeding through the Field and Stone Districts, wooden staves in hand, displaying all their famed efficiency as they set about quelling the riot.

The final conspicuously empty place, however, was the courtyard before the Grand Temple. The stones there were slick with blood, and the waterways and drainage systems were already beginning to flow red. It was then she spotted yet another massacre just as the last rioters were being cut down - virtually on the steps of the Palace. Glistening plate armor and barded horses covered in gore could mean only one thing. Lycaon’s men were slaughtering the heretics wherever they found them. Even from on high, the sight horrified Lana to her core. Such bloodshed as she had never seen. The streets ran red with a river of blood - and already the harbor was taking on a crimson hue as it began to drain away. She could not imagine what it was like up close.

She decided she had seen enough, and began to swoop down towards the Palace. She spotted Duncan and Isabel atop the wall and vectored towards them, but changed course at the last moment when she spotted Lycaon emerge. Instead setting down out of sight, but within earshot, she remained in bird form and eavesdropped on the King’s conversation… As one sided as it was… With Lycaon.

When she heard Lycaon leave she flew back up and, landing several meters away from Duncan, re-assumed her normal form swiftly. “My King” She said, stepping towards him, barely stopping to hurriedly curtsy as she did. “The harbor runs red with Nyhem’s blood. The bank is besieged and the Bazaar is being looted. The garden district is suffering badly as well.” She wasted no time reporting what she had seen from the sky in a clipped tone that almost, but not quite, hid her horror at it all.

Despite his best efforts to calm himself, Duncan was still furious. However, his anger was now not only directed towards the riot, but towards the realisation that Lycaon had far more power than Duncan had previously thought. Now that he had killed the heretics, Lycaon had complete support of the people of Nyhem. A feat that the Duncan could only ever dream of. Right now the man was untouchable; even after committing a bloody massacre in the center of the city. If Duncan attempted to apprehend him then the people would be in an uproar. Lycaon's power was becoming a threat, and it was all of Duncan's own doing.

Duncan was surprised by the sudden appearance of Lanaya, however his surprise did nothing to cool his temper.
"You think I don't see that" he snapped at Lanaya as he violently gestured towards the city "The entire city is burning right in front of me, or do you perhaps think I am blind"? He knew that Lanaya didn't warrant any of Duncan's fury. Right now he was simply venting his anger and Lanaya had been unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end.

Lana was taken aback by the sudden rage directed at her. She was only trying to help the King with accurate information, not rub in his apparent failure. “My King.” She began, her tone mild. “I think no such thing. Not all the city burns - already the Steel Fist begin to clean up the outer city. I can descend to the streets and subdue the populace as well, but I can only be in one place. Which would you have me prioritize?” She spoke as a humble servant, imploring him to direct, as was his role. Yet deep inside, an irrational anger began to flare.

Duncan paused for a moment as he tried to compose himself, to no avail. It was flaw both he and his siblings suffered; once his anger started it spread like wildfire "fly to the steel fist and order them to secure the garden and then proceed to Bazzar. And be quick about it" He shouted before mumbling "perhaps you might finally be of some use to the Concord".

Lana began to turn away and prepare her shifting spell again - it was an errand unworthy of her, yet it was the king's order. But when he called her worth to the concord into question, she whirled back around to face him. Who was he to question her value? Just a mundane with a fancy chair and circle of useless metal. When she spoke her voice was icy cold.

"My use to the Concord? Hah! My work will unite all of Formaroth, then force the Elven Imperium to acknowledge us as their equal."

Both Duncan and Isabel were taken aback by Lanaya's retort. Isabel was the first to reply
"How dare you speak to you king in such a way" She shouted as she looked at her brother, expecting him to punish Lanaya for her insolence

"Your work" Duncan coldly laughed as he walked towards Lanaya slowly "The credit of your work doesn't even belong to you, it belongs to Aurelia. I would be careful making such bold claims for someone who is merely riding the coattails of her betters".

"You're right." Lana replied, cold fury overcoming her. What had been a heat of the moment retort now led to words of icy and hurtful intent. The Gem upon her breast flickered and glowed as she continued. "Aurelia was better than me. Better than all of us. You didn't deserve her. To think I ever encouraged her feelings for you. Madness."

Duncan's response was almost instant; without a second thought he punched Lanaya squarely in the face, breaking a couple fingers as he did. Duncan had never punched someone before and the sudden realisation of what he had just done was enough to bring him out of his anger. Even Isabel stood in shock at what had just occurred. It wasn't the first time she had seen Duncan anger but she had never seen him like this before.

Lana staggered back from the unexpected blow, her cheek stinging like fire. It hurt more than anything she could remember. She fell to one knee as she lost her balance and looked up at Duncan, stunned. She had never considered this a possibility, and for once, she was completely without words. All she could manage was to bring one hand up and gingerly touch her cheek where the blow had landed.

Duncan was stunned. It had been years since he had let his anger take control of him, and the last time it happened he had sworn he would never let it happen again. Duncan just stared at Lanaya, not with malevolence this time, but simply with shock unsure what to do or say. In the end Isabel was the one break the silence

"Consider yourself lucky, you deserved to executed for your vile words" Isabel said. She tried to sound confident though she was clear still shaken by Duncan's actions "Now do as your king commanded and be quick about it".

Lana barely heard Isabel’s words as she stood. If she had, it wouldn't have made much difference - she already despised the De Reimer sister. She turned and began to walk away half in a daze, still running her fingers over her cheek. It hurt so much… Yet really it was barely a noteworthy blow at all. It only hurt because she was so unused to such physical pain.

After a moment she gathered her wits about her again, and in the midst of wondering why she had done something so stupid, transformed back into a bird. She would do as the king said and inform the Steel Fist of their new orders.

Written by TheDuncanMorgan and Myself
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Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by Klomster
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Klomster The man, the myth, the legend.

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Collab done by @Klomster @Sundered Echo @Fallenreaper

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Reunion Among the Riots


Starring: Dyril, Lanaya and Claus
Plus some charming fellows.

Time: Night (peak of riot)

Location: Little Reed Inn




Dyril listened to the scritch-scratching of her quill along the rough parchment. Her eyes studied the small list of things. Occasionally she drew a line through a name. Noting the faded end, she paused long enough to dip the tip into the inkwell. As she resumed, little number notes were written at the ends. All were left marked.

She added them together at the bottom indicating the sum of her sells made in Nyhem. In the Elven Imperium, any merchant would've considered the amount excellent.

It seemed magic was highly valued in Formaroth than the Elven lands. Possibly since it was far less common here.

Dyril sighed then placed her quill back into its bottle. She leaned back in her chair as she thought about her progress. More specifically, how to convince her family that this endeavor had potential. Her eyes darted to the letter she had yet to write.

The most difficult part to deliver was the prospect she acquired. Yes, it held some risk but most business opportunities did in the beginning.

Unable to phrase things properly in her head, Dyril stood upright. Her hands reached to put away the disorganized mess.

A dim, yellow-orange light poured in through the window. It engulfed her table then spread throughout the whole room. Surprised by it, Dyril’s eyes scrunched in thought. Surely it wasn't morning already. There had been several times she had worked up until the early hours of the day, but something was off. The light usually took minutes, not seconds to fully envelop her room. It also flickered like torchlight. Her attention turned to the window.

As she walked toward it, her ears caught the muffled screams and crackling sounds. Her hands extended to grasp the handles. With a slight pause, she collected her bravery. She gave the panels a sharp shove.

Her eyes widened in shock.

Fire engulfed the building across the street. Below her window's view, crowds of people rushed about. Some brought buckets to put out the fires while others ran off in their panic.

Deep down, Dyril hoped Kiseo wasn't caught up in the utter chaos below.

A small knot of men with torches stood out like rocks in a river from the chaos. One spotted her, pointing directly at her, causing them to raise their heads. Even this far away she could feel their wolfish gazes before they began whispering among themselves. It didn't take a genius to figure out who had instigated this hellish nightmare. Now their sights were set on her.

Acting swiftly, Dyril ducked back into the room. Her eyes shot to the door when she heard a woman holler in the main room. Possibly the inn owner trying to save her small establishment. Any further conversation ceased when the woman screamed. Then followed by sounds of a scuffle. Dyril’s heart froze in her chest.

Oh...shit...oh shit.

The words sounded in her head when she frantically glanced around. As the brawl died down she caught footfalls making their way up the stairs toward her. Her panic increased tenfold. Dyril’s eyes fell onto the window. Before she could race to it, she caught the click of the door handle slowly turning.

The door flew open. Kicked from the other side as the man lowered his foot, the torch raised to search the room. Cautiously, he entered. He snorted in frustration when he found no one. Soon, the squarish man was joined by two others. One a rather thin and weasel-like individual with a long face. The other was average in appearance, his front covered in a butcher’s smock stained with fresh blood.

“Oi, where de lil blue witch git to?” Asked the door kicker, his broad figure edged deeper into the room’s center.

His feet kicked the modest rug toward the bed. He continued to growl under his breath as his eyes noted the open window, drawn to it.

“She couldn’t have gotten very far.”

The second answered as he moved to the corner. His hands ripped open the cabinet doors. He started to rummage through the small selection, tossing dresses into a hasty pile. The smallest of the three spied the papers on the desk. He snorted at the scribbles as he helped his companions search.

Underneath the bed, Dyril watched the feet scramble about. Sounds of her room being violated made her heart pound, her pulse thundering in her ears. She couldn’t stay here long. Only a matter of time before they discovered her. Then only the gods knew what they would do to her if they did.

Driven by the thought, the half-elven woman cautiously began to slide herself out. All three thugs had collected over by the open window now. It was the only obvious exit, aside from the door, giving her the perfect opportunity to escape.

While she nervously navigated the wrecked scene, she continued to eye the distracted thugs. Silently she prayed they didn’t turn around.

So focused on them, Dyril didn’t watch where she stepped. A board squeaked under the weight of her step.

Betrayed by the sound, she tossed caution to the wind and bolted. She felt the thugs’ eyes rake her back just after she disappeared around the corner. Desperate to get away, she took the steps two at a time when her ears caught one of them shout.

“Git ‘er!”

Not wanting to stick around, Dyril sought the inn's exit. Upon reaching the bottom, she found herself unable to ignore the scene.

Signs of a struggle were all over the place. From toppled tables to fallen bodies, Dyril averted her eyes. She couldn’t face the possibility she might end up like these unfortunate souls. The thought brought a sour bile to her throat, forcing her to swallow it.

“Well, lookie ‘ere at wot I found.”

Dyril’s eyes snapped to the speaker’s direction. It was a mistake to assume all thugs were upstairs.

A grimy, smallish man leaned against the doorway. In his hand was a club. He tapped it against his other palm casually, eyeing her up. A rhythmic beat that silently threatened her.

Dyril’s right foot retreated backward but stopped in her tracks. Her other visitors had come down during her distraction.

Amused by her predicament, the fourth man pushed himself off the frame.

“Now, ye elven 'ore… we're gonna to kill ye nice an' slow.” The man’s tone was a polite mockery.

At the camp of the Steel fist.

-"Alright fellas, that will do for a break." Claus stood up and clapped his hands twice to get his men going, it wasn't really a motivated rise, more like barely wanting to stand up and then forcing oneself up, just like getting up in the morning.

But the Steel fist began to move out, darkness had fallen during the hours that had passed since they began the riot suppression. A warm meal was a welcome sight for his men as they returned to camp for a break. And to lock up a bunch more people of course.

They were rather many at the moment, but the new guys were keeping an eye on them. Also the prisoners while only sitting on an harvested field, didn't really feel like trying something when they had their hands tied and being surrounded by scores of skilled and heavily armed mercenaries.

Then again, one or two had tried to make a run for it. One got tackled to the ground by a shield bearing soldier, another got shot in the right calf with a bow, that put a stop to that guy.
Even if it wasn't overly clean way of stopping him, it worked.

Some of the fists barber surgeons were checking the prisoners, while not receiving first class medical treatment, getting a wound cleaned and bandaged was all that was needed for the few that had real injuries.

For those that had a bad bruise, they were told to sucker up. This aint a fancy inn, so be glad you're not worse off.

The Steel fist got into formation and was ready to move out, Claus on his way to the front row and was joined by Roogel along the way.

Before any orders could be given however, a Falcon with a decidedly unusual band of orange plumage about its neck swooped down and perched in front of the mercenary Captain. It turned an eye to gaze at him for a moment, then, in a surge of witchlight, it disappeared - only to be replaced by a copper haired women wearing an elegant green dress very much not suited for the outdoors. There was a rather noticeable bruise on the side of her face. It looked quite out of place compared to the rest of her otherwise immaculate attire and presentation.

"Claus, leader of the Steel Fist?" She asked expectantly of the men. She did not wait for an answer before continuing however, some degree of disdain evident in her voice. "I am Magister Dionisa and I bring orders for your company directly from the King."

Not really used to magics like this, most of the corps-men were a bit taken aback, however Claus himself stepped forth looking like this was part of every days routine. Which it was not, and even he himself was impressed with how confident he appeared.

-"Greetings magister, from the king ey? What does our dear snake want?" He spoke as he closed, stopping two yards or so from Lanya stretching out a hand either for a handshake or a letter, he cared not.

He cought himself staring at the bruise that was clearly visible on the otherwise spotless and rather comely appearance. He forced himself to look at her eyes as he noticed, but it was evident that he was curious as to how it happened.

Lana cast a haughty glance at the mercenaries offered hand. She wasn't here for meet and greet with her lessers. Normally she might also have corrected him on refering to the king as the snake, but at this moment she was very close to joining him in use of that term.

It was then she noticed that he, and his approaching second, seemed to be staring rather pointedly at the side of her face - certainly not where she expected such brutish men to focus their gaze. She glanced surreptitiously towards the shiny polished breastplate of Claus's second... And was shocked at the reflection she saw. There was an ugly purple bruise marring one side of her face. She couldn't help but blush as she mentally chastised herself for failing to realise that would happen and covering it up. She then took a moment before replying to quickly weave an illusion over it, that she might appear her usual beautiful self.

All the mercs would see of it, of course, was that one moment she was bruised, and the next she looked perfect. Only then did she reply.

"The King would have you and your men focus on securing the Garden District. The rioters there are not as concerned with heresy as they are with railing against the nobility for their wealth. Once you have done that, he wishes you to go to the Bazaar and secure it against further looting from the populous."

Claus kept a good eye on the woman before him, especially when she began to cast magics without warning. Luckily, it was just some healing spell or illusion or shapeshifting effect that took away her ugly blemish.

Roogel eyed Lanaya with hungry eyes as he saw her blush after looking at him, completely missing the whole reason behind it.

-"Alright, give the fellas at Garden district a good spanking followed with the bazaar." Claus acknowledged and took the oppurtunity to take in the form of the mage in front of him. After all, most of the people in the Steel fist were men and of those most weren't the prettiest sort usually, so a nice view to keep the boredom at bay did no harm to anyone.
He didn't stare like Roogel though and turned to him and jokingly reprimanded him.

-"Roogel, be careful your eyes don't pop out with ya staring like that, especially when it's a mage. Also.... you can easily get finer women than her anytime."
Roogel was taken out of his trance and grinned broadly.
-"Sorry boss, an' milady." He turned to Claus.
-"And yeah sure i can find finer women." Roogel questioned Claus while not so sneakily throwing a wink at Lanaya hoping for the best.

Lana listened to the exchange without much care until the line about 'finer women.' What a foolish man Claus was. And what made it even more ironic was warning about the dangers of a sorceress in the same sentence.

Subtly, she layered on more illusions, a faint glow and an ever so slight accentuation of color and other features that men seemed to find most attractive. Then she stepped towards Roogel looking very sweet and, raising onto the tips of her toes, lightly kissed his cheek.

In one fluid motion as she came down, she turned and cast a deathly stare at Claus. If looks alone could kill, this one most certainly would. With that, she turned and strode away, shape shifting back into a bird mid stride.

Claus looked at Roogel who was looking possibly beaming with joy as Claus made a grimace and shook his head.

As Lanaya was moving Claus wasted no time, barking orders and informing of the next location of work, the weird exchange put everyone on a good mood though so a few smiles and grins were visible here and there and the spirits were high.

Close to Little Reed Inn.

The whole ordeal with Lanaya and the food break meant that darkness was setting over Nyhem, Claus procured lanterns to ensure that he had good vision as he kept on working into the night.

He'd decided to make a good impression and work until midnight. Which just happened to be how long he expected to be able to have his men work, have time to return to camp and then get to bed before he himself and his men getting cranky.

Dyril’s eyes desperately flipped through the inn’s remnants. There was so little at her disposal. Most of the furniture was in pieces causing her heart to abuse her ribs, a panicked and frightened bird trapped in a cage. A broken table leg was certainly not going to be effective against the four that had gotten the drop on her. Not with her pitiful strength.

Mentally she cursed her earlier foresight. In past days, she had placed all her magical items into storage when she should’ve kept one or two for her own protection. Now she was faced with a life or death situation. There was little chance of her coming out unscarred, let alone alive, from this predicament.

As if to remind her of their presence, there was movement behind her. Her head tilted over her shoulder to spot a thug’s hand reached for her.

In a thoughtless motion, Dyril’s heel stepped back. It stomped down hard on the owner’s toes. The man blinked then chuckled, unaffected by her efforts. So much for that idea, she mentally chided her ‘brilliance’.

Just when his fingertips finished curling at the sleeve of her dress, the half-Elven woman jerked away to the side. Riiiip. The seams easily gave away from the stress. The man snarled in frustration and glared accusingly at her.

“Stay away from me!” Dyril demanded, surprised she could speak at all.

Suddenly a fist curved into her peripheral vision. The largest of the four had bolted forward, a blow aimed at her cheek. It landed instantly. A loud yelp escaped her lips. Pain erupted from the contact point then spread to the side of her face, numbed by the painful shock. It was enough to disrupt her balance. Her right foot tangled with her left, toppling her into the ground.

With a surprised jerk, Claus stopped in his tracks. He was sure he heard someone he'd met before.
-"What's wrong?" Roogels deep voice was wondering, Claus only answered with.
-"I'm gonna check a thing, think i heard a scream." With that the steelhead jogged off through an alleyway, out upon a street littered with broken things along with the door shutters for the inn he was standing next to. The entire scene was lit with the fire of a burning building from the other side of the street.

The sign with a reed upon was dangling in only one of its chains and from inside he could hear a commotion.

With his iron shod staff in his right hand, he opened the door to the little reed inn, the fires light from outside accross the street showing only the contours of his armoured form. To those inside one could for a moment mistake him for some sort of ghostly avenger here to claim those who fled from battle.

The gloomy inn was a scary sight, broken things, blood, possibly even dead bodies and in the middle of it all, some brutes preparing to do some rather unethical things to a woman.

-"Who do' fo'k are u' suppos'd to be?" One of the brutes called out to Claus, whom were just going to answer as another thug hit claus in the head with a sturdy stick, possibly a stools leg.

This put Claus off balance, he stumbled a bit, jarred his head and gripped the staff tightly.
The blow had put Claus in a groggy state, and when that happened one of two things were happening. Either he was drunk, and all was fine.

Or it was a battle, and all restraints and thinking would need to go. Since thinking got you killed in battle, groggyness got you killed. Instinct and instinct alone kept you alive and it was in that millisecond that he gripped his staff that instinct took over.

With a quick motion, he let his left hand grip the staff as he struck his assailant over the back, he sunk low heaved with all his body and actually flung the man across the room into another thug with enough force a bunch of tables and stools were broken from the impact.
As the thugs stared in awe they didn't see Claus move in, the closest barely had time to react as the steel clad warrior had closed the distance and swung the staff two-handedly, more akin to a sword-strike which hit the jaw of the man with such force that the lower jaw splintered into pieces and the neck was twisted and broken with a loud crack.

Two of the people charged in with a knife and a fire poker, with expert ranging, Claus feigned a strike, which had the guy with the knife dodge prematurely which let Claus put his entire strength into the downward blow which crushed the skull of the man.

As the staff hit he let go with his right hand and simply punched the other guy with his armoured fist, teeth, blood and saliva flew and glittered in the fire-light from outside as Claus drove the nose bone into the mans brain.

It would take Claus several seconds of just standing there to realize what had happened, to figure out what he had done. Another man might have broken down, but so many battles and deaths had jaded him so he didn't know what to think.

He finally managed to look upon the woman in front of him on the floor.

Dyril felt like throwing up. The ground churned underneath, moved an invisible wave, as her mind trying to gather itself up. Even the air around her cheek inflamed it. Gently she rubbed it, caressing the bit swollen muscle. Mentally she knew it would bruise later. However, the hybrid was lucky she was alive.

Every joint in her bones ached with a new vengeance as she cautiously pushed off the ground. Her legs curled under her then forced her to stand upright. Not recognizing Claus’ image, she began to praise his intervention.

“Thank you, I thought I was seriously going to die.”

She twisted on the heel of her foot to face Claus.

Even as it took a few seconds before he recognized the voice and could properly place it, it was rather quick considering that he never expected to meet her again, even less so in Formaroth.

-"Dyril? Is that you?" Claus asked with a surprised sound.

Dyril’s eyes examined him for a moment. Her mind struggled until a hazy, old memory surfaced into her attention. He was much younger back then.

“I was about to ask the same thing about you. I’ve forgotten how quickly humans age.”

-"HA! You calling me old?" He did one of his telltale smirks.

Dyril’s head swiveled from side to side, ensuring they were alone. Suddenly her posture shifted. Hands rested on her hips, cocking to apply weight to one side. Her torso leaned forward and her lips curled into an obvious smirk. For a moment, she barely resembled the refined woman who arrived in Nyhem on business.

“Yes, you’re old. Do I really need to give you a biology lesson over an Elf’s superior lifespan? Those lessons were boring enough to receive so I dread giving them.” Her tone was light-hearted, teasing and welcoming for the old familiarity of Claus’ face.

Claus however regained his bearings on the situation.

-"However. This is no place for a get together though. We should get out of here. Safest place is probably my camp outside town." Claus informed with a hint of urgency in his voice, pointing outside.

When his expression becomes serious, she straightened her stance back into the puppet. One trained and forced on display to purely save face.

“I agree, lead on. I’m pretty sure a half-Elven merchant makes a good target from the last encounter.”

The two exited the sad looking inn and went out in the street, fire light still basking the area in its warm glow.

Claus reached for his signal horn and gave a four note signal and shortly after two Steel fist corps-men could be seen joggin to their position in the distance.

-"You still got that slave, Shini was it?" Claus asked.

“Shinx,” Dyril’s tone became defensive over Claus’ mispronunciation of her first slave’s name.

Her eyes avoided his gaze, if he looked, as she inhaled. Placing a mask over her facial features to hide the pain, she answered in a blank tone.

“No, she died before we arrived. Discarded by a mysterious killer while running one last errand for me. Her daughter, Kiseo, is currently serving in her place and arrived with me.”

As she began to step past Claus, she paused long enough to add one last request.

“Keep an eye out for her. She was the last one to leave the docks before this all happened and I worry something might’ve happened.”

-"Huh, i see... sorry about that." Claus felt a bit stupid for getting it wrong now.
But he had other things to focus on and kept going.
-"Oh well, these two will escort you to camp. There you will be given room in a tent. Possibly mine, it's large enough for two or three. An extra bedroll can easily be arranged by Katrina. Alright, see you later." He notioned to all present before making the most half arsed salute this century and then moved off.

As the half elf disappeared around a corner Claus let a glance stay with her a bit longer than planned. Now was not the time to get stuck with memories. Now was time for work.
Sure i'll keep an eye out for Kiseo. He doubted he would get which one incorrect, seeing there probably is about one mao in the entirety of Formaroth.
He returned to his formation, the garden district awaits. Followed by the Bazaar.
There would be many heads being knocked before this night was over.
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Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by Wraithblade6
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Wraithblade6 Interrogator Chaplain

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A Time For It All


The night settled cool and peaceful in the wilds, a stark contrast to the human war and calamity he had so recently known. As a boy, Eclipse had spent a lot of time outside surrounded by nature, and even now, with years advancing upon him, he could still appreciate its beauty. Rider of Unicorns they had dubbed him. Nowadays, it seemed like nobody ever saw those white beasts anymore. Eclipse doubted he'd be so lucky tonight, especially this far north, but oh how he longed for such a creature to come and relieve his burden. He was exhausted.

It wasn't long before he found a trail, that led to a path, that led to a road. Roads lead to farms, which lie on the outskirts of villages, which always have a chapel... Yet the pious knight never made it to any sanctioned house of the gods.

--

Dogs were barking.

"Gertie? Wake up Gertie. We's having compneh!" A stout farmer in faded, worn, and stained overalls came into the farmhouse bearing a blonde man in armor leaning agaisnt his shoulder.

"Bert! It's an hour before sunrise, and I ain't milked the cows yet. Whatcha mean we got compneh? A guest? Is it another one o' your drinking frien's, because I have had it up to here with... Oh my stars!" The countrywoman gasped mid speech as she laid eyes upon the weary warrior being dragged into her kitchen.

A multitude of children of varying ages suddenly also filled the room, gawking with interest. Despite his taxed condition, the knight smiled at the sight of them.

Gertie put one of her hands on Bert's as Eclipse settled into a chair with the deepest gratitude. She whispered to her husband, "Bert... He's from the war. We can't..."

"He's with the church dear. Can't ye see his cloth? Now I'm no saint meself, but I can't just leave a man in need on the side o' the road where ma pigs shit."

"Bertold!" She was using his formal name now, with her fists firmly pressed against her hips and giving him a pointed glare. Her husband's cursing was an embarrassment.

"Sorry honey. Hey, you kids got chores to do! Now get out there an' do em! We adults are gonna talk a while." Bert then took a seat himself and looked across the table at his guest. Fearing their father's wrath, the kids scattered off. "And Jesse, milk the cows."

Gertie grabbed a towel with a huff and wiped her hands. "Well, I suppose I'll fix ya somethin'." She set about breakfast.

Eclipse began to undo the bindings that kept his armor on. "Bless you stranger. As a knight of the church, I am reliant on the hospitality and generosity of others, yet I will not leave you unrewarded for the grace you have shown me, nor will the gods. When I have recovered, I will work for you, before I go. I promise I will not impose."

Bert nodded and dismissed the subject with a wave of his hand. "I appreciate that, good sir knight." He paused thoughtfully. It was clear the farmer had more than a few seasons under his belt as he eyed the lion-maned man with some scrutiny. "I know that you came from that battle nearby. Now I am gonna ask ya, which side were you on?"

The toll of his exhaustion forced a heavy sigh through the man's lips. He replied with some effort, knowing he had no choice but to answer. "If you will know the truth, I am on everyone's side. The gods do not play favorites. All they want, is for all of us to live good lives, and to restore peace and order. The Holy Order of St. Elenor lends its knights to fight against the insurrections caused by Manshrew Alliance forces and to support the present king and order of Formaroth. I myself know of no signs that show our king was not divinely ordained. He is no 'mad king,' as this land has seen before. Yet, if you ask, why does Andrew Manshrew fight? I must confess, I do not know."

Bert nodded at this, pensive, but showing no sign of disagreement, and they took their morning meals with little else said. A happy dog rested his head in Eclipse's lap the whole time.

----

*Thwack!* With one fell swoop, the two halves of maple split and toppled with a melodious knocking into the other pieces of wood below. Eclipse yanked the axe free from where it had bitten into the chopping block and turned to grab another log. The light shirt he wore for the cool weather did nothing to hide his physique, but it was enough that exercise and the sun could make up for what warmth was lacking. On he worked, splitting logs into firewood, seemingly oblivious to his curious onlooker.

A pair of young, feminine eyes peered at him from behind a bush. Finding this new man fascinating, and inexplicably attractive, one of the older girls had stolen away from her chores for a chance to witness the man who inspired thoughts of far away lands and exciting new life. Yet she couldn't just hide behind that bush forever.

"Boo!"

Eclipse rested the axe against the ground and smiled even before he looked at the girl. "I knew you were there." He placed another log, turning it to its most steady position on the block. "Charlene, is it? I thought you were to be hanging laundry."

The girl took a seat on one of the piles of wood. "With you around, mister, there's much less for me to do. I thought I'd come watch. You know, I can chop wood like that too. I even bet I could do it better. Ma says, anything anyone else can do, I can do too."

"Is that right?" Down came the silvery beak of the axe in a powerful arc... *THUNK!* Eclipse blinked and stared down the handle. The axe had bitten deep, but the log held solid.

The young lady behind him burst out laughing while he yanked the axe free for another go.

"Hmm. This one's oak. Holy Eight bless whoever it was that took this tree down, for it must have been a feat." He looked at the edge of the axe and at the rest of the unchopped logs.

"You're funny mister knight."

"Please call me Eclipse. I prefer it that way, because who I am is far more important that what I am."

Charlene nodded, seemingly fascinated by this mote of wisdom. "Sure mister Eclipse, er I mean, Eclipse."

It was close enough. Eclipse smiled and then cracked that log in 3 more swings. "I'm going to break all the oak ones, and finish this pile. That should leave your family enough until spring. Then, I will depart. The gods spurn me to move in my dreams, and I have the greatest sense of foreboding..." Considering the task before him, Eclipse didn't realize he had started rambling and that he had said more than he should have.

"You mean like nightmares?" She hopped off the pile. "Eclipse! I want to go with you!"

Wood clattered apart off the block, and Eclipse paused. The faint lines at the corners of his eyes seemed to be there again, a reminder of the wisdom that years of life had given him. He closed his eyes as he replied. "I'm sorry Charlene, but where I must go is very dangerous, and you are needed here, by your family."

Somewhat expecting this answer, the girl huffed and folded her arms. "I can do anything you can do!"

Eclipse stopped and turned to her. "Yes... You too can serve the gods, Charlene, just as I do, but keep in mind, the gods do not ask everyone to do everything all at once. There are times for it all and for each of us. There are times to be weak, and to be strong, to be young or grown..." He put his hand on her shoulder. "Listen. Trust me. You too have a destiny, and right now, it is to be here. Our paths do divide, but for now at least, we may chop wood together."

She seemed to enlighten at this as she stared at him, caught somehwhere between blushing and crying. He was like an angel.

"Take that other axe. You can toss me the oak ones if you want."

----

By the time the paladin arrived, the sun was setting, yet the smoke rising from the fires over Nyhem was unmistakable even from a distance. Eclipse coaxed his steed faster as the terrifying recognition of disaster hit him. He was already too late for whatever chaos had ensnared this city, and chaos it was. Temples were blackened, bodies and blood covered the streets, and no rhyme or reason seemed to clarify the need for so much death and suffering. Eclipse rode past the walls unopposed, save for the hesitant concerns of his farm horse. The scene was horrifying. Eclipse halted in the middle of the road, simply stunned. "By the gods.. Holy..." He couldn't finish a sentence as he stared, wide eyed. "Merciful Leplo." He finished a whisper. Tediously, his mind tried to piece together the details of what he was seeing and hearing. There were still screams nearby, still fighting, holy places were hit, looters... Yet he wasn't sure who exactly the enemy was. There were no invaders, so how could there be any reason for this?
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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by AndrewCooper
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AndrewCooper The Cooper Trooper

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An unwelcome return

Andris Mandarass (Andrew Manshrew)
Fajera Mandarass (Diana Mandarass)
Nizaar (Alun)
Saahir Mohiuddin (George LeWest)
Hamsa (Lucy)
Kabeera (Mary)
Hishma (Elizabeth)

Andromeda. It seemed a lifetime ago since Andris had last seen his home city but soon he would be back. It may not be the return he expected, but all that mattered to him was seeing Fajera and his nieces again. The remaining alliance army marched behind him, they were approaching the city gates, but something was wrong. Any other time the gates would have been opened by now. He stopped and raised his hand signalling the army to stop. As Andris approached the gate a lone Uzgobian Soldier came into view at the top of the gatehouse.

“Who goes there?” commanded the Soldier.

Andris shouted back “It is I, Lord Andris of House Mandarass. I demand you to open the gates”.

The Soldier seem shocked to hear this. “Lord Mandarass? We all thought you were dead”.

Andris was confused “Of course I’m not. Now open the gates”!

The Soldier was hesitant and showed no signs of obeying Andris’s command “I’m afraid I can’t my Lord.” He finally said, “The city is under martial law and we have strict orders to not let you in.”

Andris didn’t understand what was going on, he needed answers. “Under whose authority”?

“Under mine and more importantly the people of Uzgob.” Came another voice from atop the wall

Andris couldn’t tell who it was until Nizaar revealed himself standing alongside the Soldier.

“Nizaar?” said Andris “I don’t understand?”

Nizaar replied “While you were off in Telmarion, fighting your war. I had a meeting with the council and we agreed that for the sake of Uzgob and its people, that you are no longer fit to lead us”.

Andris couldn’t believe what he was hearing. It was even worse that it was coming from his best friend. His rage was building up inside him.

Nizaar carried on “Don’t worry about your family, they’re safe. I’ll take care of them as they were my own. Now, as acting Lord of Uzgob I demand that you and your army leave these lands, or I will be forced to make you”.

“Nizaar! You traitorous bastard! I won’t let you get away with this!” Andris shouted

“No doubt I will.” Replied Nizaar. Though he sounded sombre, his face was without emotion “But I do so knowing that I did it for the betterment of Uzgob. Archers!”

Suddenly a dozen soldiers with bows came into view all of them firing at once.
Andris immediately reacted “Shields!” he shouted whilst raising his shield to protect himself. The rest of the army did the same, though some in the front lines were too slow and were felled. Andris knew they were outmatched. “Fall back!” The army slowly moved away from the city, making sure their shields were raised at all times to protect them from the constant barrage of arrows, until they were out of range of the archers. Andris could not believe what had happened, his advisor, his closest friend, his mentor, had betrayed him.
***
As the hours passed Andris grew increasingly worried about his family. He had to get into the city, recue his family and then leave Uzgob before the Concord reached Andromeda. A seemingly impossible goal, but he had no choice, he would not abandon them. Andrew called to the soldier nearest to him who responded without hesitation
“Get me Maror and Lady Grim immediately, tell them I have a plan to get into Andromeda”

“At once my lord” the soldier said before quickly setting off to carry out his king’s order. Eventually both Lady Grim and Maror arrived to listen to what plan their leader had come up with.
***
“The main aim is to distract the army long enough for me and Lady Grim to enter the city, so I can get my family.” Said Andris as he gave them a final rundown of his plan. It had taken a while, but he had finally gotten his commanders to agree to his plan. Maror was reluctant to abandon Uzgob while Lady Grim was reluctant to undertake the insane strategy at all. However, Maror was eventually brought to see reason while the promise of more gold was enough to convince Grim.

“Maror you’ll lead the army. You’ll use Lady Grim’s mages to attack the walls, forcing the army to come out to face you then you use the rest of the army to confront them. All I need you to do is hold out against them for as long as you can then head to Fort Scarab. Saahir and Queen Freya will meet you there with the ships ready to sail.”

“It will be done.” Said Maror. I will ready the men.

“Lady Grim let’s get going.” Said Andris as he readied his weapons

“Just to let you know Lord Andris” Lady Grim said “If Maror is unable to hold the Andromeda host at bay I have ordered my men to retreat. I do not care how much money you offer me I will not risk my men’s lives for some suicidal folly” She finished sternly. Andris was silent for a while before he finally replied with
“Understood” He could only hope that Maror would succeed with holding back Nizaar’s forces, without Grim’s mages, the plan would be doomed to fail. With that Andris and Grim made their way towards the city.
***
More time had passed, and the battle was underway. Without mages of their own the Andromedian host was unable to defend against the Grim company mages, and as Andris predicted, they were forced to leave and engage Maror’s forces. Andris and Lady Grim continued to walk around the walls of the city while Andris ran his hand along certain parts of the wall.

“Are we close?” asked Lady Grim as she kept watch for guards. Fortunately, with most of the cities host at the gates, it was unlikely they would be spotted.

“We should be.” Replied Andris “I remember when my father showed me and my brother this entrance when we were young. With this we should be able to get into the castle without that much of a challenge”.

“Well you better find it soon otherwise the castle will be teeming with soldiers.” Lady Grim exclaimed as she was getting more agitated by the minute. Eventually Andris managed to find what he was looking for; a stone with one of the ancient banners of the founding families of Andromeda. Andris pushed the stone and the passage opened.

A family reunion

Soon Andris and Lady Grim found themselves in the castle library. The bookcases filled the room and were twice the height of a normal man. Luckily not a soul was in there, otherwise the mission would be short lived.

“Where do you think your family will be?” asked Lady Grim.

“If I know Fajera, she’ll be with the girls and keeping them safe” answered Andris. My best guess would be that they are in the girl’s bed chambers. It’s not too far from here but we need to be careful”.

Lady Grim nodded, Andris closed the passage way by placing a copy of ‘The Witch of the Grey Tower’ on the bookshelf in case any guards came in. After this the two of them headed out of the library, making sure they were out of sight. Fortunately, it was soon made clear that the castle was almost completely deserted asides from the occasional guard. All of whom they avoided with ease. Eventually Andris and Lady Grim arrived outside the bed chambers. However just as Andris reached for the door two of the royal guards turned the corner and spotted them. At the very least this confirmed Andris’s guess that his family was inside. What other reason would two of Uzgob’s finest have for being here instead of being on the battlefield. There was no way they were going to get pass them without a fight. As the guards drew their swords Andris drew his, readying himself. Lady Grim managed to stop him.

“Let me deal with them.” Lady Grim. Said as she extended her hands. Within an instant a wave of pure force erupted from her hands, hitting both men in the chests and sending them flying. Both hit the floor in a crumpled heap.

“They will be asleep for a few hours.” Lady Grim assured Andris “They might wake up with a headache but it’s no different from a weekly trip to the tavern.”

“Impressive” said Andris “But we must hurry, I am certain someone will have heard that”.

Andris opened the door with his swords ready for what could be on the other side. The first thing he saw was his heavily pregnant wife, along with Hamsa and Kabeera beside her. Andris immediately dropped his swords and approached Fajera. After being separated for so long Andris and Fajera embraced before kissing one another. Andris was relieved to see them safe.

“Thank the Gods your safe.” Said Fajera.

Andrew then gave both Hamsa and Kabeera a hug. “I am so glad you are as well.” Replied Andris his eyes starting to water. “I’m sorry I couldn’t be back sooner, but I’m back now and I will make sure to keep you safe”.

“Uncle, who is this?” asked Kabeera asked as she stared at pure red-haired woman that stood at the door.

“This is Lady Grim.” Said Andris as he pointed towards her. In response she merely rolled her eyes and gestured at Andris to hurry up. This man was wasting precious time and risking her life. “She’s a…friend of mine and she’s going to help us escape” At the word friend Lady Grim raised her eye brow.

“Why?” asked Hamsa. “What’s wrong?”

Andris looked over to Fajera. Fajera could tell what was wrong from his face. He looked at both of his nieces and took a breath. “We need to leave the city all of us”.

“What?!” exclaimed Hamsa.

“But why?!” said Kabeera.

“The concord’s army is on its way here and when they do they will attack and destroy the city, we need to leave before that happens”.

"What about the soldiers”? asked Fejera.

“I think they’re a bit preoccupied with the army outside”. Said Lady Grim as she turned to face Andrew “we need to go now” She exclaimed before turning around and heading towards the library. She wasn’t going to wait any longer.

“We need to get to the library and once we’re out we will head to Fort Scarab.” Andrew explained “Where’s Hishma?” he asked Fejera.

“She’s with Nizaar.” Said Fejera.

Said Andris froze as he realised what this meant “Very well. I’ll find her once we get you to the library.” As he said this he picked up his swords and led his family to safety, praying to the gods they wouldn’t be spotted.

The final lesson

Lady Grim was already at the entrance of the passage when Andris arrived. Despite the huge danger Andris had placed her in she wasn’t going to straight out abandon him; he had both paid and treated the grim company well and he deserved better than that. As Andris made his way towards the secret passage a voice called out behind him.

“Despite everything, it’s good to see you again Andris”.

Andris turned around to see Nizaar and Hishma with their swords drawn. “Hello Nizaar.” Said Andris “Hishma”
Hishma said nothing. Lady Grim prepared herself for a fight, electricity sparking from her hand. “No!” shouted Andrew “Get them out of here.”

“But what about you?” yelled Kabeera as tears filled her eyes. How could everything of gone so wrong so quickly; the war, Uzgob’s famine, Nizaars betrayal and now this.

“Don’t worry Kabeera.” Said Andris trying to reassure her. “I’ll be right behind you.”

Fejera quickly joined his side to give him a kiss.
“I love you” Andris said as he looked at her face for possibly the last time.

Fejera placed one of his hands on her stomach. She said “Come back alive for our baby’s sake.”

“I will”. Said Andris. He looked to Lady Grim. “Keep them safe.”

Lady Grim nodded as she quickly escorted Fejera and the girls through the passageway.
Andris then turned his attention to Nizaar and Hishma as he did he sheathed his swords. “So, this is what it’s come to?” Said Andris “Holding my niece against her will.”

“She’s here out of her own free will” Nizaar replied

“Is this true?” Andris asked Hishma.

He could see her hesitate, there was conflict within her, but she eventually said “Yes.” She looked over to Nizaar

“You know what you have to do” he said

Hishma readied her scimitar and charged at Andris. She took a swing but Andris was able to dodge them easily. Hishma kept swinging her sword and soon her emotions were getting the better of her.

“Why are you doing this Hishma?” Andris begged

“Nizaar said that if we stop you then we can stop this war and have peace!” Hishma replied tears streaming down her face “Did it ever occur to you that I all we wanted was just to have our Uncle back! I just wanted the family to be together. Instead you abandoned us, left us so you could pursue your own ambition of becoming king. You are no better than that snake that sits on the throne”!

She kept swinging her sword, but Andris proved to be too quick for her. “Why won’t you fight back”?! She yelled
She swung her sword towards Andris but then he grabbed it with his right hand. Soon blood was oozing from his hand and dripping off the sword. Hishma was shocked, even Nizaar was a bit surprised.

“Because a Mandarass doesn’t fight his family, but if you truly think this will bring peace do what you have to do”.

Hishma could feel Andris’s grip loosening. Soon the scimitar was free and Andris’s neck was exposed and open. He made no attempted to block or move out the way, he simply stood there waiting to see what his niece would do. The truth was she didn’t know what to do. Eventually her hand loosened and she dropped her sword.

She collapsed on the floor and began to cry. Andris lent down and gave her a hug to comfort her. “I’m sorry.” She sobbed.

“It’s okay now” said Andris. “Go find your aunt and sisters, I’ll be right behind you.”

Hishma wiped away her tears and nodded her head. She grabbed her sword and headed through the passageway. Andris drew his swords, blood still dripping from his hand.

“Now it’s just you and me” Said Andris.

“When was the last time we did this?” asked Nizaar sombrely as he examined his blade, the curved blade glimmered in the candlelight.

“What feels like a life time ago.” Andris replied as he walked towards Nizaar with fury in his eyes, in response Nizaar walked back. Both men walked until they were in a circular clearing that was the centre of the library; a space large enough for both men to fight unhindered.

“May the best man win”. Said Nizaar.

“The same to you”. Said Andris.

Both men charged at each other. Swinging their swords and deflecting the others blows. They were both a mirror of themselves when it came to the fighting style. They’re sword’s locked.

“That was a pretty impressive move there”. Remarked Nizaar, half praising half mocking.

Andris gave a bitter smirk “Thought that impressed you.”

The two of them swung swords again. Andris managed to cut Nizaar’s arm, but it was barely a flesh wound. Nizaar managed to thrust his sword into Andris’s left shoulder but his armour took most of the force.

The two of them were trying to catch their breath. “You’ve gotten better.” Said Nizaar.

“What can I say” panted Andris “That’s what fighting a war does to you. But why”?

“Why what?” Nizaar replied.

Why did you betray me, betray Uzgob.” Andris demanded as he lunged at Nizaar again.

Because Uzgob needs a leader who has her best interests at heart. I once thought you were that man, a man of honour, who would do anything for his kingdom. Maybe you were once, but now…” Nizaar paused as he ducked a swing from Andris “You led Uzgob into a war, you plunged Formaroth into chaos and for what? Just so you could become king” Nizaar struck at Andris missing him by an itch and hitting one of the books behind him, sending pages flying through the air “A title you had no claim to. I may not like the idea of being ruled by a De Reimer, but I would never lead my own people into bloodshed out of spite, the true reason you started this war”

Andris sighed deep down he knew that there was some wisdom in Nizaar’s words, but his stubbornness had gotten in the way. Had he truly been thinking of Uzgob’s best interests when he started this war? Would things have been better if he had just accepted the De Reimer’s rule? Suddenly they both heard a war horn from outside the window. Andris knew what that was Maror was signalling the retreat.

“Looks like your running out of time.” Said Nizaar, his eyes were much redder then they had been previously. Andris agreed with him.

“Then let’s finish this.”

The two men gripped their swords and both let out a might yell and charged as each other. Andris swung his sword down with his right hand and Nizaar swung his sword upwards with his right hand. Their swords found their marks. Andris’s sword cut deep into Nizaar’s face severely cutting through Nizaar’s right eye. However, it was nothing compared to the damage Nizaar’s sword did which found itself slicing into Andris’s right arm. Andris could feel the cold steel reach the bone. Both men recoiled in pain. The pool of blood on the sandstone could be mistake for a butcher’s floor.

Nizaar staggered back in pain, trying his best to stay standing, blinded by his own blood. Andris in contrast had dropped both his swords and was bleeding heavily from his arm. Even with only one eye, Nizaar still had a clear advantage. However, this was Andris’s chance to escape; Nizaar was distracted, and with that wound he wouldn’t be able to pursue Andris. With his remaining strength Andris bolted for the passageway, just before he left he took one last look at Nizaar, before replacing the book and disappearing down the passageway.

Suddenly a bunch of royal guards burst into the library. Seeing the carnage within the room they quickly turned to their attention to the closing passageway.

“Let him go.” Commanded Nizaar “He’s no longer a threat.”

“My lord are you ok.” Asked a guard.

“I’m fine, the magister will patch me up” Said Nizaar “Turn your attention to the city we must be ready for the Concord’s arrival”.

“At once my Lord.” Said the guard. The guards left the room except for one who was tending to Nizaar’s wounds until the magister arrived. Nizaar looked down at the floor before finally uttering “The student has become the master.”

Farewell Uzgob

Andris was making his way through the passageway, he was losing a lot of blood and every step now seem like he was carrying an elephant on his back. Finally, he saw the light. Once he reached the end he could see Fajara, Lady Grim and the girls. The last thing he saw was the sheer look of horror on their faces before everything went dark.

Andris woke up to the hot sun of Uzgob. He tried to look around to take in his surroundings, but he could barely move, he seemed to be tied down to maybe a cart as he was moving, he could only seem to move his head but from he could see was nothing but sand for miles and miles. He looked down to himself and that’s when he saw the bloody bandaged stump where his arm used to be.

“He’s awake!” shouted Maror. The cart slowly came to a stop.

“Thank the Gods” said Fajara.

The others rushed to his side. Andris could see that they were relieved to see that he was ok.
“What happened.” Asked Andris.

“You…” Fajara stammered as she struggled to find the words. Hishma decided to help her.

“You were losing a lot of blood” She said “The Grim company mages tried their best to seal the wound but…it wasn’t enough, the blade cut too deep for even magic to heal. We had to cut off your arm in case it went septic.” Said Hishma.

“They saved your life”. Said Lady Grim who pushed her way through to Andris we can’t have you dying yet, we still need to be paid”. She said with a smirk. Though her statement was true she was glad that Uzgobian lord had survived.

“We’re almost at Fort Scarab just try to rest”. Maror said as he started issuing orders to the rest of the army.
Andris closed his eyes and fell asleep. A couple of hours had passed and Andris woke up to the salty smell of the sea. Andris was able to sit up to better take in his surroundings. He was at the port of Fort Scarab. The port was a near impenetrable fortress and had defended Uzgob from naval assaults for centuries. In the distance he could hear the unmistakable sound of fighting. he could see many ships already heading out to sea. Each ship filled with what was left of his army.

“Hell of a day huh?” a voice asked.

Andris looked around to see Saahir standing behind him. Andris weakly mustered a smile in response “Yeah, hell of a day.” Andrew tried to stand up, but it only took a step or two before he started to fall, fortunately Saahir was able to catch him.

“Easy their friend.” Said Saahir.

“Where’s Fajara and the Girls?” asked Andris.

“There all on a ship and they’re waiting for you.” Said Saahir

As Saahir tried to lay Andris back down a soldier quickly approached the two of them. “Captain Mohiuddin, nearly all the ships are out to sea the last one is just waiting for you two. But we need to need to hurry the Blackwell army are almost though the gates.”

“Thank you Soldier. Let’s go.” Said Saahir.

Saahir helped Andris stand up and they slowly made their way to the ship. Soon the ship was in sight and they got ready to board. But before they could a deafening crashing sound came from the gates; the Blackwell army had broken through. Andris knew that the ship didn’t have a chance to escape unless someone stayed behind to distract them. Andris drew a sword from a nearby sheath and slowly walked to towards them.

He stopped to turn to Saahir. “Tell my family I love them.”

Andris continued to slowly walk towards the Blackwell army who were mascaraing the keeps garrison. Andris could barely stay awake but he knew he had to do this. A sharp pain struck the back of his head before everything went black. Andris awoke to find himself on a ship with Fajara by his side.

“What happened?” asked Andris.

“Saahir hit you on the head”. Said Fajara “He had you taken on board and stayed behind with his crew to hold off the Blackwell forces. He saved your life.”

Andris couldn’t believe what he was hearing. First his mentor betrayed him, then he lost him home and now his closest friend had sacrificed himself, so he could escape. These last few days had been among the darkest of his life. He was a dishonoured exile with his enemies now ruling over his home. He had lost so much. At the very least by some miracle his family was safe.

For the first time in his life Andrew had no idea what he was doing, or where he was going.
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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Sundered Echo
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Sundered Echo

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--- Something is not Right.... ---

Nyhem, Thale Manor, Slightly after nightfall.

Mary, maid servant of House Thale, was afraid. The riot had been going on for hours now, and though the Magister had scared the mob away from the manor for a time, bands of angry people from the lower districts still came by occasionally, shouting, waving torches and clubs. Until now, she had considered herself quite lucky to live and work in the Garden District, for even as a mere servant she still had it better than most. She knew there would always be food, often good food. The manor was always warm, and she even had the good fortune of a kind master, who paid her and the other servants quite well for their station. Sure, sometimes she had to do some quite unpleasant jobs, and sometimes she would be shouted at and ordered around by the mysterious Magister, but all in all, she thought it was a rather safe and comfortable life. A good life for a farmers daughter.

But now, she was afraid. Fearful that she would be beaten, killed or worse - simply for working and living in the house of a Nobleman and a Magister. The people outside had plenty of hatred for both. If they got in, she would be just another mage sympathiser, or lackey of the nobility.

And so it was that she found herself ever on the heel of her master, Lord Dominus Thale. She felt safe near him - he had donned a chain shirt and taken his shield and mace from the display on the wall. Although, admittedly, it was less the old, fat man's state of armament that made her feel safe, and far more the fact that Sir Hansen of the Order of St. Elenor also followed him. He was a tall man wearing plate armor and carrying a long two handed sword as though it weighed no more than a feather. She knew that the gods would safeguard him and those that followed him. And if not, then the steel he wore would certainly empower him to defend her.

Just then, there was a loud knocking on the houses grand door. She nearly jumped out of her skin at the sound. She told herself that the guard were still near, keeping the streets safe. It couldn't be rioters. And they wouldn't knock anyway. Would they?

Sir Hansen went to check who it was, with Dominus close behind. Mary followed the men. Dominus was shouting - he had gotten quite worked up about this whole affair. “If those blasted ungrateful peasants have broken through, by the gods I’ll put them back in their place! My mace will remind them that it’s the right of the nobles to rule and protect, and the right of the peasants to-” He stopped suddenly as he saw who it was at the door.

Before them, in the acrid, smokey air, stood three figures. The two on the sides were gigantic men, wearing a variation of the Thale Guardsmen uniform that marked them as hailing from the provincial lands. The one in the middle was clad in black, with a voluminous black cloak about his shoulders. There was an expensive crossbow slung from his shoulder, and a sword clearly visible at his waist. His hood was down, revealing a face with sharp features that were haughty, but also somewhat weather-worn. “Father.” He said on catching sight of Dominus. “Good to see age hasn’t made you too soft on the peasants!” He said, though there was little mirth in it.

“Thanatos, my boy!” Dominus said, waving him and the guards in. They all filed in to the great hall just beyond. “What brings you back to the city? And on this dark day?” There was far more joy in Dominus’ voice than his sons, yet Mary could sense the tension between the father and son. She knew there had been some unpleasant history in the past. She hoped that would not boil over now. This day really didn’t need to get any worse. “I came for news of the war. Yet when this chaos broke out, I knew I had to come by, and make sure the rioters hadn’t gotten to you.”

“Ah, very noble of you my boy.” Dominus said. “But you needn't have worried. Lady Lanaya has the house well defended with sorcery.” Thanatos’ face took on a dark expression at that. “I see. It is good to see you safe all the same father.” They talked for a time, of casual things, and of the family holdings, yet something felt wrong to Mary. Not merely Thanatos’ calm in the midst of this chaos, but something else. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but she did not feel safe. Yet it was not her place to trouble her betters with her petty fears and worries.

“Where is the Sorceress anyway?” Thanatos said, his words once again catching Mary’s attention. There was an odd tone in his voice - It was normal enough for him to speak of the magister with anger, but this was something else. Dominus didn’t seem to notice, but replied sternly all the same. “You’ll not be picking a fight with her again boy. This is my command. She sits on the High King’s council now, and it is to his Majesty that she has gone this night. Angering her may bring the Kings eye down upon you Thanatos, and not in a good way.”

Thanatos looked cowed and… almost disappointed by his fathers reply. “Yes Father. I understand.” That set warning bells off for Mary again. Never in her time serving the Thale’s had she seen Thanatos back down from such a stern talking to by his father. Dominus seemed not to notice, merely saying “Good.” Mary thought maybe she should say something, but caught her tongue just before voicing her observations about the strangeness of it all. Noble’s worked in mysterious ways, always fencing with words and saying things they did not mean. No, it was not her place. Besides, should anything untoward truly be going on, she was sure the gods would let Sir Hansen know.

Thanatos dismissed himself then, walking up the stairs presumably to retire in his room. It was far too late for him to travel back to the Thale estate in the countryside, if he could even leave the city safely. Dominus made his way to a chair at the side of the hall and sat, seemingly deep in thought. Mary tentatively approached and spoke. “Milord, is there anything you would like?” He looked up at her, his features softening. “No thank you Mary. But if you could check on my Son, make sure he is comfortable?” She nodded and set about seeing her lords wishes made reality.

Ascending to the second floor, Mary made her way to the guest rooms. She was expecting Thanatos to have already made himself comfortable in what was once his room, but this was not the case. She stopped suddenly when she saw the man staring into the room that had been given to the young girl Captain Moros had rescued from the streets. After a moment of confusion, she timidly spoke up. “Milord, are you alright? Is there anything I can get you?” He was silent for a moment, then, without turning to face her, asked “Who is that?” Mary answered promptly, without thought as to the consequences. “Thats Miriam. Captain Moros rescued her from the streets at the Magisters request. She’s supposedly a mage.”

Only after she finished did she realise that it might not have been a good idea to tell Thanatos of all people the whole truth.

He turned to her then, a vicious looking grin now twisting his features into a rictus mask that chilled Mary to her core. He very pointedly said “Thank you. That will be all. You may go.” Then turned and walked deeper into the Manor. Mary turned and abruptly headed back to Dominus, trying to put the image of Thanatos’ face out of her head.

Fifteen minutes passed, and Mary finally began to relax. There hadn’t been any more mobs immediately outside the Manor and everything seemed to be getting back to normal - at least as normal as possible when Thanatos was in the house. Then, for just a moment, a muffled scream sounded from upstairs. For a moment Mary thought she had imagined it, but then Dominus bellowed “Whats going on up there?” And got to his feet. He was just approaching the foot of the stairs when Thanatos’ came down to them from above. “Don’t worry father. This is all for the greater good. I’m going to save you.”

He descended the stairs, his two brutish guards behind him. One of them was awkwardly carrying a young girl with a strip of cloth bound over her mouth and her hands and feet tied off with rope. Mary immediately recognised her as Miriam. Dominus immediately raised his voice and responded, a rare steely sternness in his voice. “Now you listen to me boy. I do not need saving. Lanaya is not controlling my mind.”

“Father I know you think that.” Thanatos began, his voice conciliatory. “But that is what she wants you to think. I’ve seen it. Your mind isn’t your own. It hasn’t been for a long time.” He was clearly passionate, yet it did not sway his father.

“You’re insane.” Dominus roared. His face was a brilliant shade of red now. “And how do you plan to save me by kidnapping that poor girl?”

“You don’t understand father. Your mind belongs to the witch! I’m helping you!” Now Thanatos was raising his voice. Mary could only stand by in shock as father and son railed against each other.

Suddenly, Dominus’ voice cut his sons off mid-speech with a terse command. “Sir Hansen. Retrieve that girl and bind my son as one of the rioters!” He was practically hysterical now. The Knight spared only the slightest sidelong glance at the furious Lord of the house before springing into action. He strode forward, raising his arms to act - but Thanatos acted faster even than the knight.

Before anyone realised what was happening, the young man had swung his crossbow into firing position, aimed the already primed weapon and but a bolt clean through the chainmail around the Knights neck. Sir Hansen was flung back off his feet by the force of the weapon, hitting the ground with a clank and gurgle.

Mary was frozen in shock, and could only look on as Dominus suddenly clutched at his chest and fell, as if in slow motion, to the ground. Between gasping for air, he managed to rasp “What have you… done…”

Thanatos’ face shifted as rapidly as his fathers had, from triumph to despair. He rushed to his father's side, kneeling down and cradling the large mans head in one hand, while taking a clawed hand in the other. “Father, no. No! what has she done to you! Stay with me. You have to stay alive. You’re stronger than her sorcery. Please.”

Mary continued staring in shock as tears streamed freely down Thanatos’ face. Dominus had already stopped moving. She could only watch as Thanatos’ remaining unencumbered guard sauntered up to her and roughly grabbed her from behind. She was vaguely aware of tears now flowing down her own cheeks.

Moments crawled by like hours as Thanatos remained kneeling over his father’s body. When he finally rose, it was not grief that defined his features, but fury, and the unrestrained hate of a man who has just lost the person he cared most about. “That witch will pay for this.” He said quietly, cutting the silence like a razor. He began to turn to leave, but then stopped and turned back to look at Mary. For the second time tonight he was looking straight at her, his face twisted into a demonic visage. She screamed.

“Sorry.” he said, his voice now a strange combination of sadness and disappointment, as though he were informing her she wouldn’t be getting the gift she wanted for her birthday. “But we cant have any witnesses.” He pulled a vicious dagger from its sheath and stepped towards her. Tears rolled down her eyes as she pleaded. “Please, I wont tell anyone. Please milord. I don’t want to die…” He raised the dagger up to her throat, but paused, speaking now with a tone of inevitability laced with hate. There was madness in his eyes. “I’m sure you wouldn’t. But you see, the Magister would just bewitch you as well. You would have no choice but to tell her everything. So its her fault really. She may as well wield the blade herself. In your last moment, know that it was Lanaya Dionisa that killed you. Tell the gods about it when you see them, and maybe they will punish her.” With that, he quickly and brutally drew the blade across her throat. The guardsman let her drop to the floor, and she scrambled meekly at the gash as it bled profusely. There was only pain and emptiness in her mind as her lifeblood spread across the polished stone.

--- Wrath of a Magister ---

Nyhem, Above the Docks, around the same time.

Far above the city, Lanaya’s hawk eyes searched for an ideal spot to intervene. With her petty errand for the king done, she was now free to actually make use of her full power to put a stop to this insane riot. She was not feeling particularly kind, however, after her argument with the king and his underuse of her abilities. No. She had priorities to focus on. Mages deserved help first, nobles a distant second, and everyone else would get help if they still needed it after all of that.

And so it was that she spotted the flicker of magelight below - at the docks, where one of the Summer Isles Catamarans was docked. Its crew, mostly mundanes but also a few specialist mages, seemed to be trapped on the dock, just out of reach of the swift vessel, surrounded by a crowd of peasants with all manner of daggers, torches and improvised clubs.

She swooped down, diving towards a clear spot just in front of the ship’s crew. There was still a several meter gap between the two groups, as the crowd warily eyed the mages and the unearthly light emanating from them. Lana wasted no time in retaking her original shape as she touched down, remembering at the last moment to cover up the ugly bruise on her face with magic. She would not let the mundane scum here get the idea that she could be injured.

Amplifying her voice, she spoke while the crowd was still shocked at her sudden appearance. “By order of the Circle you are to disperse and go back to your homes at once, or face the wrath of a Magister!” There was fire in her voice, and magical flames began to lick at her fingertips as she spoke. The gem upon her breast glowed a vibrant crimson.

Some of the crowd began to look uncertain, but these people had already made up their mind to attack known powerful mages. They would not be cowed by her display, and the uncertainty quickly passed. In fact, it spurred them on. Someone shouted “Burn the Witches!” and the crowd surged forward. Some of the ship’s crew fired crossbows into the crowd, their bolts all finding fleshy targets in the dense mass of people. Others prepared swords for melee. Yet they never got a chance.

Power surged through Lana as she raised her hand to the sky, her tongue twisting around arcane, inhuman words of power. Then she suddenly dropped the hand to point at the ground, marking out a half circle in front of her. As soon as she finished the gesture, a glowing half circle of runes appeared on the ground, surrounding the ship's crew in the front, with the edge of the dock behind them. As soon as the first mundane foot touched one of the runes there was an intense flash of light. A wave of force rolled outwards into the crowd, smashing them to their feet. Those near the water were thrown into the blood slicked crimson waters. Those near the back of the crowd were thrown bodily into the buildings that lined the dock with a sickening crunch.

But Lana was not done. She had not cast any destruction magic on this scale since leaving the Summer Isles. She had forgotten how much of a rush it could be. That feeling mixed quickly with her hatred of mundanes and their mundane violence. She couldn’t stop now. They had to learn. She had to make an example of them. Her hands sprung into motion as she began to cast another spell. The gem glowed brighter.

Out of the waters behind them all, long, sharp shards of blood red ice began to rise. They floated gently above the waves, aimed towards the crowd. The moment a rioters picked themself up from the ground, one of the ice spikes shot forward and impaled them. There was so much force behind the shards that they picked each victim up off the ground and propelled them into the building behind, where the spike stuck and held them aloft. Some of the rioters tried to rush the ship's crew again, and every one of them was slain in this manner. Others got up and tried to run. They too were cut down. Two minutes of this indiscriminate slaughter passed, Lana’s hands in motion the whole time. The very air seemed to twist with the arcane words she spoke, regularly punctuated by the screams of her targets.

But then, she stumbled, barely remaining on her feet. Even she had limits. The ice shards fell back into the water, and those that already impaled rioters already began to slowly melt. Many of the smarter people in what was left of the crowd took this opportunity to leap up. Many ran, but not all. Some of them were driven wild by the horror they had just witnessed. These remaining fanatics sprinted towards Lana specifically, screaming for blood and vengeance. Lana raised a hand and blasted them back with a simple wave of force. Yet this was not enough. They all began to pick themselves up again to charge.

But Lana was not alone. Behind her, the ships mages had joined hands. They formed a circle behind her, and she felt two hands on her shoulders. It reinvigorated her instantly. Standing tall again, she began to chant a new spell. Behind her, three more voices joined in the same chant in unison. The sky cracked with thunder. The clouds above momentarily took on a red glow. And then it appeared. From on high, a searing ball of what seemed to be white fire streaked towards docks. It consumed the first two of the maddened rioters immediately, leaving nothing but charred husks. But it did not strike the ground. It moved sharply, darting to each man in turn, until all fifteen of the remaining rioters on the dock were charred beyond recognition. Then, with a pop, it disappeared.

Safe at last, Lana and the other mages were free to collapse. None of them hit the blood soaked ground though, as the hands of the mundane crewmen caught them. Lana felt that she was being carried towards the Catamaran by the ship's crew, but all she could think of was how heavy the now dark gem felt.

--- Epilogue ---

Bay of Nyhem, Aboard the Summer Isles Catamaran Petal of Light

Lana awoke with a start. The world was rocking about, ever so gently, and she immediately realised she was on a ship. From the wood and construction style, she also realised it was a Summer Isles Catamaran. She was confused for a moment, and could not remember how she had gotten there. All the signs of magic induced exhaustion. She felt weary, and as she stood up from the bed she had been placed in, her dress suddenly felt so very heavy. Though it was nothing next to the weight of the large jewel hanging from her neck. Oh how she wanted to strip it all off right now. Her hand moved towards the latch on the necklace, but just before she could undo it, the door opened. It was one of the ship’s crew. “Ah, Magister. You’ve recovered. Good. The Tide Master wants to thank you. I’ll take you to him when you’re ready.”

Lana looked at him blankly at first, but then the words seeped through the weariness. She remembered that she had no time to be laying about, and though she couldn’t really muster up the feeling of urgency right now, she still didn’t want to waste time. “I’m ready now.” She said, trying, and failing, to sound energetic. The crewman smiled and with amusement and simply said. “Very good Magister. This way.” It clearly wasn’t the first time he’d dealt with a mage trying to look like she wasn’t exhausted from her magic…

She was lead through the ship to the mage in command of the vessel - the Tide Master. When he saw her, he smiled and spoke. “Thank you Magister. You saved my crew in its entirety, not to mention myself. I am in your debt.” Lana meekly returned the smile, then went to the nearest of the comfortable looking seats built into the wall of the cabin. “I just did what was right.” She replied.

“That was very impressive Ball Lighting.” The Tide Master said, sounding genuine in his admiration. “Thank you… I’m not sure how I managed it to be perfectly honest. I have never cast it before. I don't think I could’ve without you and your companions.” She wasn’t even sure if that was true either. Her memory of the whole encounter was… fuzzy. But it would make the Tide Master happy to hear it.

“Even more impressive then. I’ll be sure to tell the others what you said. But for now, we must decide what to do next. I intend to return to the Summer Isles, but if you have another directive…” He trailed off expectantly.

“No. Return to the Circle. They must know what transpired here. But tell them that I intend to step up the actions of the Collective. If even the citizens of Nyhem can embrace the idea of burning our kind for no reason than our existence… Then we must act now if we ever wish to walk the lands beyond the Isles again.”

Meanwhile, in Thale Manor

Guard Captain Moros was distraught. He had returned from his patrols to find his Lord dead and Miriam, who he had saved, nowhere to be found. He felt responsible. Maybe if he had been there, he could’ve saved them. He was ready to accept the blame when he informed Thanatos and the Magister. But what he was not ready for, was handing over the document in his hand to Thanatos. Having taken his Lords key and entered the study, he had acquired Dominus’ will, to ensure it was not ‘misplaced’ by any stray hands. In his curiosity, he had seen who the estate was left to.

It was not Thanatos.

According to the will, he and all the Thale lands, fortunes, rights and titles now belonged to Duchess Lanaya Triskell Dionisa.
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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by ZB1996
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ZB1996

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Lycaon stood outside the Grand Temple, awaiting the High King. Beside him stood Sir Glynda, who, with Sir Raeya’s death, now served as Lycaon’s most trusted advisor when it came to subtle matters. Sir Daeleth, Sir Sayer, and Tydeus all were busy with other tasks. Sir Oswyn had been left in charge of guarding the base. Lycaon had left him there per Oswyn’s own request; Lycaon could tell that what had happened earlier was bothering him. Lycaon wondered whether or not he had acted too rashly, or whether he had led his soul astray. Reactions to his cleansing of the heretics had not had the reception he had thought it would. In truth, he did not think that anyone would care. And now he had angered the King, and estranged himself from one of his most loyal and skilled lieutenants. He would have to be more careful in the future.

For the time being, however, he had other matters that concerned him. The King had come to meet them, and with a battalion of well-armed guards as well. It was certainly intimidating, considering the heated conversation they had when they had last met. Yet they were not alone when they met the King. Lycaon had come here with a hundred of the Knights of the Order, and he was hopeful that the King would not be so hysterical as to be offended that at such a royal and august meeting he had brought them along as symbols of the Church and the Order. Along with them were the Bishops, nearly two-hundred. They were here to witness the High King’s Speech, though that was not the only reason they were here. One among them would be the new High Priest or Grand Cleric. They had assembled here at the Grand Temple to choose the Church’s next leader, but had been interrupted by the riot. After the speech they would return to that task, for to them there could be nothing of greater importance. And as Duncan approach Lycaon, Sir Glynda, and all the knights and bishops bowed to the High King.

“It is an honor, High King,” Lycaon said.

"Ser Lycaon" Duncan said cordially "please rise" Duncan wasn't interested in continuing hostilities, right now he wanted Lycaon to think he was on his side. However he had no intention of giving Lycaon the satisfaction of apologizing either. He was certainly impressed by the vast host of knights clergymen that had gathered to meet him. However all Duncan could wonder was how many of them were already in Lycaon's pocket. "I trust you and your men have recovered from the riot"?

Lycaon rose to his feet. In fact the riot had not made a dent in Lycaon's forces. The recent battle was in fact what Lycaon's brigade was recovering from, and it would be some time before their numbers could be replenished.

"Yes, my King," Lycaon said. "My force emerged with few casualties. It is the great city of Nyhem that has truly suffered."

"That's good to hear" Duncan said as he walked past Lycaon into the temple "I trust preparations are ready? The people of Nyhem will soon gather outside to hear who is responsible for the chaos that took place over the last couple days. We must make sure that the people of Nyhem are united behind these hetertics".

"The announcement of it was made some time ago," Lycaon said. "And there can be no doubt the people shall wish to hear their King speak at such a momentous occasion."

"Very good" Duncan said as he turned to one of his guardsmen "make sure the plaza is secure, I don't want these heretics taking advantage of this gathering and start another riot" The guardsman bowed before making his way back down the temple steps to pass on his kings orders to the battalion waiting in the plaza bellow.

***

"-and with the help of the nobles knights of Elenor the vile heretic's have been purged from this city, once again securing the safety and security that the people of this city deserve" With this a thunder of applause and cheers erupted from the crowd gathered before him. Duncan was currently standing atop the temple steps so that the people bellow could clearly hear him. He had been speaking for what much have been nearing an hour but it seemed it was working. The masses of Nyhem had gathered before him and Duncan had given them exactly what they wanted; someone to blame. Turning the people against the heretics had worked out much better to his favour then he could have hoped. The very people who until recently had despised him were now cheering for him, now that they believed they both shared a common enemy. Duncan raised his hand and eventually the crowd was silenced,
"Amongst this chaos that has ravaged our dear city, there is one man who's heroics stood out amongst all others. Ser Lycaon" Duncan said as he turned to face him" Please step forward

So the time had come for him. Lycaon stepped forward, and bowed to Duncan, awaiting whatever honor he would bestow on to him, though he was sure that it would be of little importance.

Once Lycaon stepped forward Duncan turned to face the crowd once more "Ser Lycaon has proven his loyalty to the crown and to this city. He single handedly purged Nyhem of the heretic's and helped restore order. As such I grant him the title of inquisitor of the Concord. It is he who shall root out the seeds of this corruption and be the protector of Formaroth's faithful" Duncan raised his hands at this signalling the crowd to break into a applause.

"You have my undying thanks, my King," Lycaon said. "I shall faithfully execute the task you have set before me, and shall properly cleanse our Kingdom of the heretical menace that threatens it."

"For now we must remain vigilant and we must all be united in strength" Duncan finished as he gave his closing remarks to the crowd. They they gave out one last applause Duncan turned to face Lycaon "Do not disappoint me" He said under his breath. Though one could pass it off as a harmless jest, any fool could tell that it was a warning in disguise. With that he walked back into the temple to wait for the crowd to clear, he wanted to get back to the keep as soon as possible, word from his brother would soon arrive; hopefully announcing the annihilation of house Mandarass.

(collab with @TheDuncanMorgan)
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