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You get to live out your dreams of world domination, dictator and commander of men, however a series of rebellions by extremists will dethrone you a quarter of a century through your reign. You are left to your own devices, alone, in a nuclear bomb shelter, enough food and power to to last you the rest of your life. Through the walls there is no access to any forms of outside communication however.

Right then, my wish... probably a rather cliche and common one, but oh well. I wish I could possess a body that is attractive, and that I can finally be happy in.

An uneasy air breezed through the room, tension building, stress and adrenaline coursing through their systems. As eager as he was to draw his hidden blade, Eomer hesitated, knowing that any sign of aggression would be playing into their hands and turn their party into the antagonisers. After all, who would the settlement guards trust more, local heroes protecting their home or some ragtag band of mercenary types?

"This is why you don't make good as the person to lead in situations like this" Eomer said calmly, slowly walking towards Ezlan. "You need to read the room more before you react" he finished. Any other time Eomer would have relished the opportunity to show up Ezlan doing something stupid, but being in a room of armed men does kind of make you put aside petty rivalry. Turning quick on his heel he turned to face the man who he assumed had spoken, the wealthy looking man in blue. It made sense, in his mind at least, that the one in charge would be the wealthiest.

"For who we are it shouldn't matter as we are here out of courtesy and politeness, however due to the fact it appears we may have wandered into what is a guild outpost, along with the fact that you're all holding some rather dangerous weapons" he added a gentle smile, a poor attempt to try to break down some of the tension, but an attempt nonetheless. "I guess it is only right for us to oblige. The six of us," he paused momentarily to glance at his comrades, and lifted an arm in their direction to further illustrate his point, "well, 5 and a half at least, were sent by our guild master in Gallant to seek Dagston, and to ask his permission to work a job inside his territory". Eomer took another few paces, this time closer to the man in blue. "We are not here to fight, do you not think if we were I would have left my weapon on your doorstep as an act of peace? The only thing I carry on my person currently is a dull utility dagger, barely useful for cutting meat, let alone a person".

His heart continued to flutter wildly in his chest, he met the gaze of each of the six men in turn, hoping to at least something he had said appealed to their humanity. If not... well, Eomer would have to very quickly come to terms with the fact one of the other guild's members was planning to turn him into a Badlander kebab, or was considering tenderising him for further meal prep later.

The following morning seemed to hold with it some sort of weird elation for Eomer; be it down to the warmth of the night, the nicer weather that seemed to be gracing the party with its presence, or just simply a small remnant of the alcohol left in his system. No matter the cause, the warmth seemed to follow him throughout the morning, and his disposition seemed much more amicable than it had the previous two days.

Rising much earlier than many, if not all of the others, the Badlander took a brief walk around the outpost to get a solid grasp of their surroundings; something which he had found impossible to do the previous night through the dense rain. It was a small place for sure, but with almost accompanied the feelings of security and comfort in an otherwise hostile area.

It wasn't long however before Eomer returned to the Muddy Ghoul, waiting for the others as he sat outside cleaning the equipment he had neglected to do the previous night. He let out a rather unimpressed snort when it came to his knife, which had once again lost the majority of its sharpness along the bevel. It wasn't surprising considering the constant stress he put the blade through, most likely a result of using the blade in a very makeshift way to cut firewood, but even so frustrating nonetheless.

When the others eventually joined him, they took the short walk to the inn they were looking for. Taking the couple of steps up to the porch, Eomer gently unslung his weapon and rested it against the wall, straightening it hastily as it began to slowly slip to one side. After all, they were at someone else's place of meeting, it would be rude it enter brandishing weapons like they owned the place. It was admittedly a token gestue as, judging from the boards, those inside couldn't see it, but the feeling was there.

As gleeful as Eomer felt, even he could feel the cold tension that seemed to appear as the group entered the room. A cold shiver managed to make it's way down his spine before, to the very contrary of how Eomer felt this situation should be handled, Ezlan strode on in with as much confidence as you please, acting as light hearted as it seemed he always did. Knowing he could do nothing to actually stop Ezlan, Eomer just quietly pursed his lips, glancing at each of the grizzled adventurers in turn and just hoping that they found this situation as funny as Ezlan seemed to think it was.
For those interested, the "Under Construction Post" has been filled in with the collab between myself and @Moskau Spieluhr, and details the night 'enjoyed' at the Trading Post's tavern between Eomer and Nem.

The crackling of the wood fire and the loud conversation of everyone else in the inn seemed to be drowned out rather suddenly by the tiefling's words. A small amount of panic rose within Eomer's chest, and he could even feel his heart beating much faster in his chest. In a mild attempt to quell his newfound nerves, he reached, somewhat clumsily, for the drink in front of him and took a few deep draughts in a weak attempt to steady himself. Even he knew that such a small amount of such a weak drink would do barely anything to help, but even this was better than nothing.

"'Was a bounty hunter'?" He asked somewhat shakily, if nothing else just to reassure himself. "As in no longer a bounty hunter? Not even for guild jobs?" As he asked this, he made a mental checklist of all his personal equipment, eyes darting around towards each location just to double check they lay where he left them. Svärdstav by the door, knife on his belt along with his coin pouch and diary, and his carry sack sat alone by the fire with some nonessentials strewn beside it to dry. He didn't care she knew the area better than him, a little hope was better than no hope.

"Nah, not anymore," Nem replied with a rueful grin, mistakenly attributing the smallest hints of panic in Eomer and his sudden clumsiness to the ale. It wasn't very strong, but after a day of marching, even a weak ale could feel stronger than it normally would. "I'm retired, at least that's what I promised my father. He wanted me to do something else, something a bit less dangerous, so I took up being a bodyguard. But watching leading members of society as they wiled away their days safe in their castles wasn't really my thing, so here I am, off seeking the next great adventure."

Rubbing a hand lightly against one of her horns, as if thinking, she smiled even more broadly in Eomer's direction, "However, if it was a guild job...then sure, I'd do it. I'd go chasing some fool bounty down the entire length of the Swamp Road again. A job is a job after all, and orders are orders."

"Yeah, guild job" muttered the Badlander somewhat incoherently, his heart beginning to slow down now, not back to normal yet but slowly getting there. Even the panic began to slowly ebb away, as he looked at her. Somehow Nem's words managed to being some relief to Eomer, that or the alcohol was beginning to enter his system, either way, maybe even both, but he was far more at ease than he had been before. Finishing the last of his first tankard, he hesitated momentarily before lowering the container to the table with an unimpressed thud. No more alcohol, he told himself resolutely, no more alcohol or there is a chance I'll say something I'll regret.

A smirk crossed his face before he rekindled the conversation. "I just can't imagine you being a body guard for some uppity fool. I mean, the way they behave, they almost asking for someone to stab them". A small chuckle escaped his lips; as startled as he was, even with the unknowing reassurance the tiefling had provided, morbid jokes still held their humour. If nothing else, it was a poor attempt to hide his discomfort, just pretending it was as normal.

"Still though, I can't imagine someone wanting to approach one of them with you around, no offense. As pretty as you are, I can just imagine how intimidating some folks'd find you". Another laugh permeated the air as Eomer forgot about his steadfast "no more alcohol" decision. Whether it was her words or the booze that calmed him down, it worked. Catching the attention of a barmaid who removed his initial tankard from the table, along with Nem's first one, the barmaid took orders for more. "Another one, Nem?" He asked quietly. As long as she stays drunker than I it's fine, Eomer reasoned with himself.

"Sure, another drink it is," Nem replied with a grin as she tossed a coin to serving girl. Eomer had bought the first round so it was only right that she buy the second.

Grabbing a hold of her new, freshly filled tankard, Nem nodded wisely, "Yes, it wasn't exactly my favorite sort of job. But it paid the bills. And what steward doesn't want his own pet demon to keep the peasants in line?"

Although she hid it well, there was a spark of anger in her eyes as she uttered the familiar insult that had been hurled in her direction so many times.

"Enough about me and the souls I've drunk," Nem continued making it clear she was joking. "You sound and look like a man of the North. How did you end up so far South and in this humble company of adventurers?"

"Pet demon? That's something I'd almost pay to see. Two days and I cant think of anyone who'd have a chance to tame you a little" Eomer laughed, muttering a quiet 'thank you' to the barmaid who brought them a fresh round. The Badlander again drunk deep, this time however using it as an excuse to mull over her question. She won't trust me again if I tell her truthfully, he thought to himself, I mean, who'd rightfully trust a bandit?. No, I won't say that...

"Aye, is it that obvious?" He answered quietly, buying himself a little more time to think. "You'd've thought the dialect would have faded from my voice a little over the last few years. Maybe it has, but not exactly many people around here to compare it with, no?" A small smirk crossed Eomer's face.

"I used to lead a small militia up north. Mainly men, some women, and a few children" he added. "It's not a good place to raise children, it's too dangerous, and you don't always know who's going to wake up when the sun rises, especially with the amount of bandits in the area. My mother bore and raised me there, so the dangers of the Badlands are something that created me just as much as she did if I am honest."

A pause came as he took another drink before continuing. "The problem is, with leading a group like that, you become a target. Both in the literal sense of people taking hits out on you, which you can see worked so successfully" he laughed, "but also become a scapegoat for the things that go wrong. Not enough food for the winter? My fault. Disease taken loved ones? My fault. I became fed up and bitter with everyone trying to blame their problems on me, and fed up of sleeping with an eye open in the night watching for assassins. One night I just packed up the essentials and left, heading far enough south until my name no longer held any weight, and began to forge myself a new name."

"What else is someone with skills like ours meant to do? Odd jobs, such as guarding trade caravans was what I ended up specialising in. It suited me, moving constantly from place to place, no one knowing who you were; it's safer that way. I found myself in Gallant though, about a year back, trader went bankrupt not long after arriving, and ended up talking to a man in a pub about jobs around the area. You can probably imagine which direction he pointed me in"

"It is hard to lead, that much is true," Nem agreed with a solemn nod as Eomer told the story of his past. She knew well the struggles of guiding others through the wilderness, through lands plagued by bandits, and forgotten places long since consigned to monsters or worse. She had rarely lead more than a couple of other bounty hunters in the pursuit of a fleeing criminal, but on occasion, when the mark was dangerous or powerful enough she had been given command of a small number of sellswords. Many had not made it. The Swamp Road showed little mercy towards the weak. It was why she preferred to work with a few others she could trust. A small unit could be flexible, they could adapt, they could move stealthily, as quietly as the great predators of the Swamp Road, and they could run if things took a turn for the worse.

As Eomer continued to spin his tale, Nem felt an itch, an old familiar feeling gnawing at her bones. She did not believe him. His story was believable enough. Plausible even. But she couldn't shake the feeling that he was lying to her about something. The scent of the lie sent a shiver down her neck and filled her stomach with newfound dread that she carefully buried beneath a smile and softening eyes. A life as a bounty hunter had shaped her, it had molded her, and she had not forgotten the tools of her past. Hunting wanted criminals required an ability to gather information and a talent for spotting a lie.

Hiding her thoughts in another pull from her tankard of ale, Nem reminded herself that Eomer did not owe her the truth of his past. Few men managed to live their lives without some modest regrets. He might have been a coward, perhaps he had run from a battle. He could have been defeated, losing his subordinates. The Badlands were infamous for the criminals that plied their trade far beyond the sharp sword of the law, perhaps Eomer had been a band-.. No, no, he couldn't have been a bandit, Nem quickly thought. Surely, the guild wouldn't allow criminals in their midst. And even so, maybe had been pardoned? Maybe had paid his debt? She wanted to trust him. It was a dangerous hope, but he had been reliable, he had been friendly, and he had stood up for her. She had met few in the Lowlands who were willing to suffer her company in private, much less support her in public.

She would give him a chance Nem decided as she drained the last of her ale. She owed him that much, but only that much. Stretching as she rose Nem feigned a deep yawn and slapped Eomer good-naturedly on the shoulder,"Many thanks for the drink and company Eomer, but given the hour and my weariness, I do believe it is time for me to find my room and bed. We will no doubt have a day full of adventure ahead of us and I don't want to slow us down."

Half disappointed, but also half relieved, Eomer bade her a good night. At the very least it seemed she bought his story, so that definitely put his mind at rest. He stayed in the main bar area for a while longer, sending longing looks towards the entrance. Rain still poured down, unyielding even this night. A sullen sigh escaped his lips. Hope still lingered that one day he could find a way to forgive himself, but until then, he had to live the lie; hoping no one else got hurt along the way.

Dark looks followed those who walked away to shelter, each stared at disapprovingly by Eomer. None of them had decided to listen to what he had said it seemed, and as nice as warm comfort and security would be after the day they'd had, he had refused. It also left him slightly aback however, as he was not used to people ignoring what he wanted in favour of their own ideas, even though he knew it would be something he needed to learn to live with for as long as he remained down south. Even so, to literally turn your back on someone in your party...

It wasn't long though until the group found somewhere close by to their companions settlement to settle; a copse with some large trees that could be used for shelter from the elements. Dumping most of his equipment bar his knife, Eomer left the others in search of some firewood before the darkness crept in to such a degree it was no longer possible to see.

Darkness arrived much sooner than had been expected by the Badlander however, brought on mainly by the opening of the heavens pouring as much water from the Narrow Sea as it believed possible. The clothing he wore offered no protection to the elements, and was only protected slightly by the foliage hanging on the trees, but unfortunately there is only so much water that leaves can hold back. Wet to the bone, firewood beginning to get damp, Eomer gave up searching for anything else and slowly tried to make his way back to the camp through the darkness and the rain.

Several trips later there were several stacks of wood organised by size, from small kindling up to a few proper log sized pieces Eomer had managed to find in the wood. By the time he returned from the final excursion he saw little different than when he had left the first time, mainly just a fire with a rather damp tiefling sat at it. Even from the distance between them however, he could read her face through the flickering flames; the anger buried within her could outburn even the hottest fire that could have been produced by them that night. Eomer could only imagine the reason why she was angry, and assumed it was for much the same reasoning he was annoyed at the others for too. Still though he sat with her, not so much to talk, not that she really seemed to want conversation on the occasions he tried, but to almost reassure her that although the others were willing to leave her out here to suffer, he was not.

He retired eventually, leaving the first watch to the tiefling who honestly seemed in no mood to sleep at the moment anyway. It was a difficult sleep, compared to the sort Eomer had been used to in Gallant, however far easier than most nights he had experienced in the Badlands. At least down here you can trust, to a degree, someone to watch your back and ensure a bandit doesn't put a knife through you whilst you sleep.

He awake though a while before dawn, at that point where light was just beginning to crest the horizon. If he had to guess, it was maybe four in the morning. As nice as the sleep was, water had managed to seep everywhere, through everything, and Eomer sat there chilled to the bone for a few moments before slowly walking over to the little one and relieving him of his night duty. As hungry as he was, he still took his time pacing around the camp, assessing both how well their equipment had survived (his staff could most definitely do with cleaning, it had fallen into the mud at some point whilst he slept), and just attempting to keep warm. The embers had seemed to long died down, and the wood was far too damp to start a fire.

When the time came to travel again the group met with the others, Eomer refused to even acknowledge their presence in his ire, but did notice Ezlan to be surprisingly quiet, well, except for him screaming at mud. That sure made Eomer chuckle. Comeuppance to a degree. Still, as far as they had to go, it almost seemed like no time at all passed. But somehow he was happy, whether that was the ability to actually sleep somewhere warm, or just the feeling of being able to relax without being on edge fearing bandits or animals.

In his exuberance, he bought two tankards of drink, and plopped a second one down next to Nem before joining her himself. Watching his equipment by the fire to ensure no one stole it whilst it dried, he attempted to start a casual conversation with her. Both to see if she was coping alright after the last couple days, which he could only imagine could take their toll on someone, but to also try to dig a bit deeper into the type of person she was.

"I remember, back at the guild, the Guild Master mentioned something about you knowing this place well. Why is it you know down here so well, this where you were raised?"
@Moskau Spieluhr Eomer would've stayed with you two, only to bolster the number of people out there in case something was bad happened, but there nonetheless.
@One Who Tames My areas for history are more based around more modern history, with the bulk of my knowledge being ww1 and ww2 (including the history of Germany as a nation all the way through Hitler's rise to power in the Reichstag).

Lindeybeigh actually covers a lot of topics on his channel. He covers medieval weaponry tactics, along with weapon forging techniques, a small amount of LARP (not really my cup of tea to be honest), World War tactics, and analysis of the 'effectiveness of war through time, such as 'how many bullets expended vs enemies killed', reasons for troops fleeing battle, and soldiers being scared of killing opposing combatants. Quite interesting if you want to look at history from a psychoanalytical perspective.

And thanks, I honestly just had so much to say that would be skipped over if it wasn't said now. So just watch my next posts be like two sentences long again until the anger and ranting builds up lol

Seeing as it's nearly midnight, y'all don't need to worry about me prattling on for another 10 hours or so. G'night!

Dripping a bit from a combination of sweat and spilt water did not help the badlander's disposition, but the Caerebean was somewhat right. A decision needed to be made, even if Eomer did not agree with the one Ezlan had made. At this rate, Ezlan would have them bounce settlement to settlement hoping for board for all of the group until dawn before realising it was fruitless. Was it not better, as Erevan said, to bed down now and actually prepare that which was needed, firewood, bedding, etc, before darkness fell?

Daggers could be felt in Ezlan's back as he announced his desires and turned to walk away, Eomer said nothing but glowered at the 'man' strut off into the night. He muttered a quiet curse under his breath, before snapping out slightly louder "I may not know you, or trust you, but one thing I know is that as soon as you turn your sorry hide on the rest of us, put your tail between your legs and scarper to the nearest settlement, you jeopardise the lives of the rest of us. One less man to watch through the night means we're all more tired for the coming days. One less man to protect us from some wild beast, or, I shudder to think, some nocturnal raiding band looking for some easy prey" he spat, almost growling at the Caerebean. "There us a reason why I said 'we find a settlement', and not 'you prance off alone and find shelter', whilst the rest of us sit outside. I..."

He stopped suddenly in his rant as he turned to follow Ezlan's path of betrayal when he noticed the faint glimmer of a pipe in the distance, and after the faint outline of a Man... well, a very short man. Before a word could be uttered, Erevan beat him to the punch at calling out to the stranger. Still though, the badlander quietly drew his short blade, knowing well not to trust a lone man traveling dark roads at dusk. That was a tactic often used up north as an ambush set itself up, a simple diversionary tactic. As the man came closer, he gripped the knife ever tighter, knuckles turning white as the blood circulation was cut off. At least if this traveller was to kill anyone it would be Ezlan, he silently laughed morbidly.

Listening to the dwarf's story, Eomer frowned slightly, sending a slightly concerned look towards the others. It just didn't add up. The Guild Master had specifically mentioned five, with the last being the tiefling to his rear. "Sixth member you say? We were told by the Guild there were to be five of us for this job. What proof have you that you were sent by the Brethren, and are not simply a well dressed bandit with a stolen badge of honour?" He still gripped the blade tightly, although as the dwarf had approached closer the Badlander moved to hide the blade from view. No need to incite unnecessarily violence of course, but always a need to defend yourself if it comes at you. "Like what job have we been sent to do for example?"
@One Who Tames I actually saw that video when I was researching haha. I do love Shadiversity. Him, Skaldrim, Man at Arms: Reforged, and Lindeybeigh are probably my favourite non-gaming channels.
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