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    1. Ithradine 6 yrs ago
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Bolstered by Neve's magic, the few gaps in Arton's defence disappeared as sword and shield moved like natural extensions of his body. His shield slamming against one of the monsters was enough to fracture a few bones and disorient them long enough for his blade to finish them. The swordsman favored drawing the enemy in close and overwhelming them with firm defense and raw strength. It was thanks to the artifacts he inherited that he had no trouble trading blows and coming out on top. Arton looked around the battlefield as the fighting appeared to die down and the remaining threats were either fleeing or being dispatched by the rest of the party.

Arton lowered his stances and took a few deep breaths"Anytime." He responded to Izayoi. He took the moment to glance over himself for any wounds that adrenaline might have hidden from him. His clothes were mildly damaged and drenched in the beast's blood but far as he could tell it was the typical assortment of scratches and bruises. The ache in his shoulder was dying down as well which put him more at ease. It was a uncomfortable warning system to put it mildly, not that it was always reliable to begin with.

"No one appears to be missing..." His head swiveled around the field in case anyone was injured and were laying on the ground "Where is Goug?" Arton asked to anyone who might be able to answer, nearly forgetting their caravan driver. With the daylight quickly fading, they would need to find a place to camp soon or they could be facing something worse in the dark.


Arton's eyes had briefly looked to his side as Izayoi had darted past him, barely registering in his vision before he refocused on the beasts before him. She did him the favor of taking out two of them when the rest decided they were done waiting. Two were behind him and one came from the same direction that Izayoi had struck down the first two. Arton made the decision to face the two charging his flank, trusting in her to eliminate the other one. He was about to turn his back to faced them two shots ringed in his ears. One beast fell immediately and the other dashed off leaving Arton free to move. The steady burning in his shoulder told him the battle was far from over.

He had begun to move to regroup with Eliane and Izayoi when he noticed Neve take to the field as well. Arton had no lighting bolts or blades of wind to offer...just his flesh and blood. He felt himself humbled even further when Izayoi took down the largest of the creatures with both power and grace. A living work of art. The attack seemed to take a bit of her breath away so while Eliane moved to intercept the rest. Arton pressed up and positioned himself next to her. It was presumptuous to think she would even need his protection, but it was he knew.

Arton's eyes caught sight of a blight beast that weaved and practically skimmed across the ground towards Izayoi, likely sensing the momentary lapse in her defense. Whether or not it was true, he placed himself in between them and braced for the attack. The creature crashed into his shield and using its momentum Arton hurled it over his head. In the same motion, he plunged his sword into its stomach and cut a large gash along its length before it fell back onto the ground motionless. He had barely enough time to react to the second which appeared suddenly. The edge of his shield smashed into the beast's neck just in time to avoid a fierce bite. Arton kept the beast pinned which squirmed and twisted trying to free itself. The tip of his sword plunged just below where the shield held the monster and twisted in place. These attacks were far more savage than the ones he had dealt with deeper into areas afflicted by the Blight. They were lucky.

Roland had been rather surprised with his roommate's candor about their living situation. Their first real conversation was more like a negotiation between two nations, discussing the rules of their shared border. A divider wall served to separate their living spaces and grant them privacy. He wasn't exactly comfortable sharing a room with a woman, much less one he didn't know. Roland resigned himself to dealing with the situation as is, praying to the goddess that a dagger wouldn't end up in his chest one night.

The next morning he woke up rather early to prepare for the day. He then went over to her highness's room and knocked on the door so that he could escort her to class. Her highness had apparently got an earlier jump on the day than he did, so he decided to head to class on his own. Roland was already seated when her highness arrived "How was your night, your highness?" He attempted to inquire as she sat down, but it seemed other matters had her attention. Whatever had gotten her in this mood he hoped it would pass once their professor finally arrived. Roland being the punctual person he was had arrived five minutes early to the class. The tardiness of their instructor was not something he would be quick to forgive.

"Nothing was out of the ordinary." He chimed in. Roland was fully aware of the pressures her highness was under. It was his duty, after all, to bear some of the burden. His father had trained and instructed him to be her highness's right hand man, not just her bodyguard. Her will and dreams superseded any of his own "I agree that it has been a rough start, but I'm sure it will only pick up from here." He did his best to console the princess, even refraining from directly using her title. The only time one would ever hear Roland call her highness by her first name would be if they eavesdropped on a private conversation between them.

"You two seem to be getting along." Roland noted towards Doric after relaxing back into his seat after being ready to intercept the flying sandwich. Truth be told he felt like time was being wasted waiting for the professor to show up. He had plans to try out the training grounds and if there wasn't going to be class he'd know right now.

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Roland checked the board once more to confirm her highness's room number and excused himself from the larger group. He would need to be swift and efficient if he wanted to perform a proper sweep, unpack his things, and be in time for dinner. Roland knocked firmly on the door when he approached it to measure its sturdiness. Content with the results, he examined the lock and gave the doorknob a few rotations. It was not the most advanced security system he'd seen but it'd suffice against basic intruders and delay them until he arrived. With that finished, he entered the room but advanced no further than a few steps.

The furnishings and design of the room were of passable grade for her highness, knowing that the academy did its best not to cater to the nobility over commoners. Roland wasted no starting his examination. His first target were the pair of beds in the room. He had an idea of which one her highness would take but even so his duty required him to check both. Tripwires and magical runes came to mind first followed by secret compartments. Seeing her highness's luggage in the room, Roland was tempted to check them as well for sabotage. Her highness, however, was quite adamant about leaving her belongings alone so he relented.

Roland moved towards the window looking out at the monastery ground, searching for potential sniper locations and/or vantage points. His face tensed up a degree as he noticed plenty of angles an assassin could make use of. Peaks, bastions, outcrops...the architecture of the monastery would make infiltration from the rooftops difficult to detect. The only saving grace was its position on the mountain. Roland turned towards the interior of the room and paused for a moment. Concentration flashed in his eyes as his eyes dart from corner to corner, trying to picture how a potential assassin might rig the room.

Arton had trotted up to the front of the caravan after finishing speaking with Izayoi, his curiosity sated from their exchange. His ears barely managed to catch some parts of the conversations behind him, but he didn't care to eavesdrop even if wasn't an explicitly private conversation. Everyone seemed to be getting along well enough, and that was all that concerned him. That was until the motion of setting up camp came up. Arton was an experienced outdoorsman used, spending countless nights underneath the watchful gaze of the stars. He had used a tent for awhile but it was ruined after a night-time attack from a blight-beast. After that, he typically would set up shelter either on a cliff-side or in a tree. There's no one to keep watch when you're alone so extra steps are needed to hear something approaching.

Despite the rising danger of the blight-beasts, Arton found himself more at ease in the countryside. The common folk out here were more honest, for better or worse, and were just trying to survive. There was no need to pretend and you were less likely to get stabbed in the back when shaking another's hand. His lips turned up into a smile at thought of passing through villages he had helped out. There was a few folks that could probably help them out with lodging for a night if they needed it.

Exhaustion had yet to reach him as they entered the tall grass, but the features of his face grew tense. His left hand rose to his right shoulder, squeezing the pauldron as he felt old scars begin to ache. Arton let go of his shoulder and slowly reached for the hilt of sword next, eyes scanning the area in front of him while carefully listening for movement. The moment he heard the grass tearing up he turned back to the rest, but the experienced Goug had already made the call. Blight-beasts.

"Neve!" He cried out as the beasts went directly for her and her chocobo. The swordsman had drifted farther than he intended from the caravan and was in no immediate position to protect Neve from the assault. Arton cursed under his breath at his mistake and had started to unmount when a larger one of the creatures leaped into the air, tackling him off the chocobo. The Sollan fell down a small embankment and disappeared into the tall grass. Arton fell into a patch of mud holding the creature by the neck that wasted no time trying to claw through his armor. His head twisted and turn avoiding razor-sharp teeth before he summoned his strength to roll the creature into the mud and position himself on top. One hand pressed against its neck into the mud as the other reached to a small hunting knife sheathed on his chestplate. He plunged the knife into the upper chest of the creature, just below where he was desperately holing it back. Pitch-like blood seeped from the wound and mixed with the watery mud, the gurgling growing muffled as its head sank completely.

Arton spit dirt back into the earth from whence it came as he stood up, leaving the dagger lodged in the beast. There was no time to retrieve it if he were to make it back to the rest in time. His slightly ringing ears could hear Galahad in the distance so he quickly oriented himself towards that direction. The grass was too thick and folded over to see through it. Lighting streaked across the sky as he heard Galahad's voice once more. However, he had no time to focus on the direction it came from this time. Arton's hands simultaneously took hold of his shield and sword, his feet tying to find solid ground as he glanced around him. Five lighting bolts had cracked in his immediate vicinity revealing five shadowy figures and five pairs of red eyes blocking off his routes of escape.

No fear shown in the swordsman's eyes as he stared down the beasts that closed in around him, even as his right shoulder began to burn. Five of the beasts here meant five that weren't after the caravan. Arton began to tunnel-vision on the enemy, lifting his shield close to his chest and drawing his sword back "WHAT ARE YOU WATING FOR?!?" Arton screamed into the night, taunting the creatures. Besides fighting better defensively, Arton did this to announce to his allies his position. The beasts, however, did not wish to wait and began to charge to answer his question with fang and claw.

May the goddess give him strength. The very first day and her highness had revealed a weakness that the others were already scheming to exploit. That was when Theodoric approached them, a person he found slightly less intolerable than most other nobles. The information about wyverns had already been spilled so he was more so ready to move past this incident "You know that I don't have the luxury of extended personal time." He glanced over at the princess briefly "Otherwise, I'm healthy and in good condition to protect her highness so I have no right to complain." He expressed with a forced sense of contentment in his assignment.

Before he could return the courtesy of the question to Theodoric, he felt the familar, chilling gaze of his liege "Of course, your highness." Roland quickly turned to Theodoric and Eleventhia and half-bowed, exchanging a look with them that he hoped expressed they would talk later. He assumed his position alongside Sherry off her right-side, trailing a couple steps behind so that she might lead. Roland's expression remained neutral throughout the rest of the tour, merely nodding and exchanging brief replies to her highness when spoken to. The monastery was a place where the promising youths and nobles of the continent would hone their futures and dreams. It was difficult to feel excitement when he was an outsider in that regard.

Despite the long day, Roland appeared steadfast and alert as they entered the dormitories. He was under the impression that he would be rooming with her highness so that he may keep her safe during her time here. His brows furrowed when he heard the names her highness spoke and moved quickly to join her in examining the list. His stone-cold façade briefly broke from the surprise that he would be paired with someone else...a stranger at that. It would seem his majesty's influence had its limits. Her highness seemed equally disturbed by the revelation of their rooming assignments.

Roland moved to break the line of sight between her highness and Leonid "I will begin moving your belongings into your room. I'll also conduct a sweep for anything suspicious. I humbly ask for you patience while I finish, your highness." He would have to voice his objection and put in room transfer request to the Arch-bishop, but in the meantime her highness would need to...parley with Leonid. Here he thought looking after the world's most spontaneous princess was already a major pain. Was it possible she would grow during her time here? The idea was almost laughable.
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