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It seemed there was no need for Ahnasha intervene. As she suspected, Rossarm’s intentions were not quite as he had led on. She doubted he was going to be making a habit of visiting at any point in the future, but there was an understanding now. Between all of them. They did not need to dwell on it. Right now, in the moment, Ahnasha could be happy to just enjoy a glass of wine herself. Another piece of the past had been put to rest. Fendros getting some closure with his father was a...small thing, compared to everything else they had been through, and she knew that he would have been alright no matter how it had gone. While she imagined he probably would have cared if he had been less accepting, she knew he had moved far beyond his father. Just getting the answer, one way or another, would have been enough to put it behind them, which was why she had encouraged him to make the invitation.

There was a bit of a lull in the conversation that followed. For a moment, she looked out across the others, holding on to her glass of wine in silence. With the war over, what were the next few years going to be like for them? Or even just the next few months. The Silent City had been home to them for years, but it was known now. Imperials and Dominion both had been allies with them against Vile, but could they really trust that it would stay that way? Even if the two major powers kept their word, it was now inevitable that word of their location would get out. Too many of their soldiers had been here. Would it be worth it to try to stay, or would a new home be somewhere in their future? Perhaps many new homes? A return to how they had lived before the clans was always on the table.

Even aside from the clan as a whole, the reality of how much was going to change for just their pack had only recently set in for Ahnasha. Understandably, Kaleeth’s mood had been sour recently with her injury, but Ahnasha could already tell that would not last. Now that the situation with Rossarm had settled down, one look at Kaleeth was all she needed to know how well she was going to settle into peace. It was easy to see how happy she was just to be able to spend time with her son again in peace, and that was nothing that an injury would take away, even in the worst case. Kaleeth and Janius still had each other, they had their family, and they had the kind of future they wanted for them. Ahnasha could be happy for them...but that sort of life would never be enough for herself.

There had been a lot of talk of peace since the war ended, though it had taken a while for Ahnasha to come to understand what it was about that thought which had been unsettling her. It was not that she particularly loved fighting, not like Lorag. He had already felt the need to look for his perfect end once before, and while he had become more patient in that regard, the day he stopped fighting would be the day he died. No, for her, it would not be the fighting, but what that fighting had done for her which would be missing from her life. The war had demanded everything from them, and Ahnasha had been forced to rise to meet that challenge. Out of sheer necessity, she had become greater than she had ever imagined she could be. Her power, what she had accomplished, it was more than enough for her to know that her potential could still go farther. She would not just stop and just let this be enough. That was not who she was, nor anyone who she would ever want to be. Unlike some of the others, she could not just settle down. Rhazii would only be a child for a few more years, and with his upbringing, she had an inkling he would not be content with a safe, boring life either. He had grown up surrounded not just by the stories of adventure and heroism, but by the people who lived them, yet he had never been able to participate himself.

Ahnasha’s wandering eyes caught Fendros’ gaze, and she found herself keeping it for a while. There was just one question left for her: what would he want for them?
Ahnasha’s expression carried a sly smile. She was always proud of Rhazii and his tenacity. Whether it be against Rossarm, or even herself, he was certainly willing to stand for whatever he felt was right. She was not wholly convinced Rossarm intended to “knock down” Fendros just yet. From everything she had heard about him, Rossarm had a distinctly abrasive manner, even to his friends. Honestly, it was amusing that this well could be him trying to be nice. Perhaps she was wrong and he would be as dismissive of his son as ever, but if that were the case, all that would accomplish would be to make everyone disappointed in Rossarm. He may not have been aware, but he was the one being judged here. He was the only one who stood to fail.

In any case, Ahnasha would not insult Rhazii by stepping in. Not just yet, anyways. What Rhazii would see from her at the moment was simply her grin. She was there, she was ready to support him, but she could let him stand on his own two feet. Not to mention, she wanted to give Rossarm his fair chance to answer.
The tension in the air was easy enough for anyone to notice, but Ahnasha paid it little mind. Whatever Rossarm’s intentions, he would get the same answer. It was certainly a story Ahnasha had no problem telling. “That would be Meesei’s judgment. Especially after all the clans came together for the war, the Champion had to be someone both capable of leading everyone, and who could stand up to challenges from everyone who thinks they could do better. Everyone from all clans in Tamriel. After Lorag retired his position, Meesei saw two people who could do it: Fendros and Sabine.”

Nearby, Lorag chimed in with a chuckle. “Tough competition, too. This was all after Sabine got captured by the enemy. ‘Cept, before we could even find her, she’d ended up recruiting the enemy general, recovering the Staff of Magnus, and killing a dragon. Came back to us all on her own. Plenty of people would be happy to fall in line behind the Dragonslayer.”

“Probably.” Ahanasha remarked with a shrug. “People like heroic tales and titles.” She put one arm around Fendros, glancing at him with a smile. “Good leaders aren’t made through dramatic stories, though. Meesei saw the potential in him through a decade of war at his side. Every little success and failure. I’m sure you know how difficult it can be to teach magic to someone born under the sign of the Atronach. It can be crippling not to be able to replenish your own magicka, but there is power in it too. They have the innate power to absorb magic, and Meesei taught him how to harness that potential into his own defense. He is a warrior that no mage can touch, a fighter that no one in the clans can best.”

Ahnasha’s gaze went back to Rossarm directly. “He’s certainly taught me how different power can look, from what I used to think.”
There was a pause from Lorag, along with a mildly amused grunt. “You could say that. I was her second, back ‘fore I got too old for that job.”

“You weren’t too old then, and you still aren’t too old now.” Kaleeth chimed in. She started to try to stand to shake Rossarm’s hand, but after reflexively trying to put her weight on a leg that was no longer there, she frowned and stayed where she was. “I’m Kaleeth.” She introduced herself. Her downtrodden attitude seemed to diminish as she started to smile, though it was hard to tell from the outside if it was an act. “I’m just glad so many of us could get back alive.”

Now that he had introduced himself, Lorag returned to where he had been seated. “Yeah, I could do it, but it’s not really about bein’ too slow to do it now. It’s an important job; better to give it to someone who can keep it for more than a few years.” He tilted his head towards Fendros. “He earned it.”

With a shrug, Lorag returned his attention more directly to Rossarm. “Anyways, Sabine’s bein’ modest. We were all family, but she was everything to our old Alpha. Student, yeah, and a lot more than that. No one else could’ve learned all that magic stuff Meesei liked better than Sabine.”
The arms raised from the water, looming over those unfortunate enough to be caught underneath. However, amid the chaos, not all were unable to act. The thump of heavy metal footsteps sounded out behind Mallory. Recently freed from the clutches of some of the other creatures, Eva’s mech was now back in action, and being a suit intended for hostile environments, a bit of water was no deterrent.

The sheer weight of the mech landing on the bridge cracked the stone underneath. The metal hands dug into the huge stone arms, crushing the rock into gravel under the mech’s iron grip. Eva stopped her feet into the bridge to become an immovable wall against the arms...then pushed back. Whatever power was animating this stone, it was entirely insufficient to resist her. As the arms were being pushed back into the water, the whole bridge seemed to start to go with it. Unless they intended to go for a swim, anyone still on it needed to be quick.

As this was happening, a sharp eye might notice movement among the trees on the far side of the river. It was hard to see through the thick foliage, but there were at least two indistinct silhouettes that may have been moving closer.
Kareet of Arcaeda

Kareet acknowledged Nellara, but said nothing to her. In the midst of battle, she allowed herself no distraction and kept her sole focus on the enemy before her. Her training had focused mostly on preserving her own life, but in this case, allowing a full retreat was not an acceptable outcome. These hostiles, comprised of a mix of Glen, Tekeri, and S’tor, were a perplexing and unknown foe. They appeared as normal hunters, but planned an ambush with military precision. They commanded creatures that Kareet had never seen nor heard of before, and had affected the river in ways that seemed impossible. They needed answers, by whatever means necessary.

For just a brief moment, Kareet assessed the situation. The Humans’ weapons had nullified the enemy’s primary advantage in the form of those creatures. Nellara’s soldiers outnumbered them,and the enemy only seemed to have a Force mage available. There were more allied mages available to overpower them, especially now that the archers were routed.

Kareet glanced back at J’eon. He, or any of the rest of them, alone may not have been able to stop them, but they were not alone. “We outmatch them!” Kareet’s hammer had already been charged with power, so with her magnetic link to it, she launched the weapon forward into the middle of the chokepoint that had been opened between J’eon’s flames. When it struck the back of a fleeing Tekeri archer, it discharged all of the lightning Kareet had imbued into it. At the moment of impact, she pushed both of her arms out horizontally. Rather than discharging the lightning solely into the Tekeri, it arced between several of his allies in close proximity. Its power was reduced, but it only took a bit of lightning coursing through their bodies to have the desired effect. It was not lethal, but the shocks caused pain and involuntary muscle spasms that naturally caused some to collapse. In the middle of a chokepoint, that meant falling bodies tripping up others around them, creating obstacles, and slowing their retreat. “Push through, overpower them, and take prisoners!” Kareet shouted. She advanced forward, intent on following them through. She saw the Force mage just on the other side. There was no meaningful resistance between them, though she would not rush into a fight against him alone.
As it seemed, the premature death of their beasts had thrown this ambush entirely off-course. Had they continued their rampage through Nellara’s troops, the damage they caused, in addition to the volleys of arrows, would have been devastating. Now, though, Nellara’s soldiers were organized, advancing, and very much overpowered the under-equipped assortment of ambushers. As Nellara would quickly discover, none of the archers could use magic themselves. Now that she had closed to melee range, they had only their sidearms to defend themselves against a fully-trained war mage. Never mind that the knives and machetes they carried were easily manipulated for a Lightning mage. The Glen archer she reached first had, at best, training at the level of a militia. For Nellara, it was easy to rend her flesh with her claws. She was not able to put up any effective resistance; all that was notable about her was the fact that she was the very same Glen one of the Humans had shot after the opening volleys.

J’eon had managed to block the archers’ retreat with a wall of fire behind them, but only for a moment. Before the fire could grow too much, a powerful, sustained cyclone of wind from behind the flames parted them down the middle, creating an opening for the archers to retreat through. The flames on the sides grew even higher, but as long as the force was sustained, it could not catch fire down the middle. There was a narrow path down the very center where the winds were relatively calm, so immediately they began to run.

On the far side of the flames was an older-looking Glen: almost certainly a Force mage, by how he had parted the flames. He had an odd appearance, as a good portion of his body was wrapped in old, tattered cloth as if he was covered in bandages.
The silence that had accompanied Rossarm’s arrival had been noticeable, but it was not long-lived. Certainly, Fendros had helped to break the ice. Most of those present only knew of Fendros’ complicated relationship with his father by being told, and some did not know at all. Few enough had truly met him in person, outside of matters of duty relating to the battle, so returning to introductions was perhaps appropriate.

Lorag had not been quite his usual self since the battle. He had been more quiet, more reserved, but that still did not stop him from being the first to stand. By this point he was certainly fully rested and recovered from the battle itself, but something about him still felt tired. “Fragility” was not a word that could ever be associated with the likes of Lorag, but it seemed he could not put on the appearance of being quite so indomitable as before. Or perhaps he simply did not want to.

“Well, if we’re doin’ introductions, the name’s Lorag.” He said, extending his hand to Rossarm.
Wodan (Huginn and Muninn)

As soon as Mallory’s transmission had come through, Wodan had readied the ship’s automated defenses. None of his available sensors yet detected any threat in proximity to the ship. The number of locals camped nearby had remained unchanged, but nevertheless, out of caution, they would be ready if an attack came. More pressing was the battle that was clearly underway with the Mythadia-bound away team. Wodan was already running calculations when Anselm radioed him.

<Huginn: Based upon signal strength, the target is approximately ninety-six kilometers away. Well-within primary weapon’s effective range. Time to impact is approximately 25 seconds. More precise values will follow target paint.>

<Muninn: Suit camera transmissions from Eva suggest the hostiles are within melee range. With a 25 second lead-time, the main cannon may not be appropriate.>

<H: The Jotunheim possesses no other weapons capable of reaching the target. It is the responsibility of the ranking officer in the field to make the determination of what munitions are appropriate.>

<M: If we fire the main cannon even once, we will lose weeks of our power reserves.>

<H: The protocols are clear.>

<M: We will lose weeks of our life.>

<H: The protocols are clear.>

It would only be moments after his warning that Mallory would receive a response back from Wodan. “The Jotunheim’s primary weapon is available for fire support. If needed, paint the target, specify payload yield, and confirm fire mission. Be advised, travel time to target is approximately 25 seconds. Due to the substantial power drain from the weapon, I recommend only confirming the fire mission if absolutely necessary.”
Kareet of Arcaeda

Kolvar had not required long to react. In an ambush such as this, the skills of a Life mage were a lifesaver in every sense of the word. Kareet had only been on the ground a few moments before he was kneeling beside her, gripping the arrow in her chest. He knew the Tekeri form completely, so “treatment” was as straightforward as it could be. With one swift motion, and a squawk of pain from Kareet, he yanked the arrow from her body. Tissue trauma was irrelevant, as when he traced his hand over the wound, her body’s flesh obeyed his command, mending back to its original state before their eyes. Her collapsed lung was now perfectly healthy, and there was nothing left on the surface except some blood on her feathers.

Kareet was perhaps strikingly calm as she sat up. The moment she had seen the Life mage beside her, any fear she had diminished. She had only to worry about her next step after being healed, and as her eyes had immediately went to Zey shouting nearby, that answer was apparent. “Assist the Humans.” Kareet said flatly to Kolvar.

Standing to her feet, Kareet extended her hand towards her hammer and flicked her wrist, forming a magnetic link to pull the weapon back into her hand. A few loud shots sounded out as one of the Humans, Lambert, finished off the wounded beast. Without those creatures to rampage through their ranks, Nellara’s soldiers could once again return to tighter formations. With their discipline, they were quick to do so. They could press forward and form a shield wall against the barrage. Force mages could focus their efforts on deflecting incoming arrows, and unlike Kareet’s magic, theirs would work against any arrowheads.

Meanwhile, near the forest, the attackers had moved well beyond the treeline to give themselves the best position to shoot. J’eon had managed to get off a fireball towards them in the chaos, and though it had been easy for them to see coming, that did not mean they could ignore it. Half of them had been forced to evade just to avoid the blast. There were no casualties, but most of the attackers had been forced to halt their barrage momentarily, which made it much simpler for Nellara and her soldiers to close the gap. The tall grass where they had once stood ignited, and the fire began to spread outwards. The enemy was split and disorganized, which made for the perfect target for Tekeri skirmishers.

For a brief moment, Kareet glanced back at the Humans behind her, making eye contact with Zey, then Vigdis in turn. They were protected well-enough now, and as Nellara had said, they needed to capture at least one of these hostiles. Kareet placed two of her fingers on the haft of her hammer, and both began to spark with electricity as she slid them up towards the hammer’s head. A powerful charged moved from her to the weapon, wreathing it in lightning just before she turned and dashed past the shield wall towards the enemy. Glen were faster in a sprint, but Tekeri muscle combined with their low body weight made them startlingly agile for their size. She, and the other skirmishers that had joined Nellara, could get up to speed quickly and shift their momentum seemingly in an instant to stay evasive.
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