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Velles 5th

Location: Au Boeuf Rouge - Ersand'Enise
Day of the week: Taldes
Time: 4:XX HE
Characters: Ingrid @dragonpiece,
Maura @Ti, Zarina, Anna, Etienne, Frédérique
Au Boeuf Rouge's Staff, Carving Contestants
Mystery Player

Étienne walks through to the carving area, already holding his nose. Why he agreed to this was beyond him, perhaps the old weasel tricked him. Regardless, he is here, let’s see what these peasants can do.

He walks up to the slates, taking it from one of the assistants as he started crossing names off already. “These can go home”. He hands the slate back to the poor assistant who has to break the bad news, “Refund them and apologise” says Frédérique to the bewildered girl as she is already cleaning up her brother's messes as she sighs to him.

“Monsieur… Snood, he could taste the disgust from the tip of his tongue, but he is Eskandish at least. “Show us why you are here.”

The Eskandish man got his hammer and chisel ready, standing tall and proud before the pouncy Perrench as he easily towers over them. He shouts over to one of the assistants before addressing the noble, “Bring me th' coo”. As the animal is brought into sight, he turns to look down towards Étienne. “Boy, we are the land of the Snowsweeper, and I am a true wolf-feeder. You don’t stab this magnificent beast with a wound-hoe or shoot it with wound-bees, as it seeps with its corpse-milk.

Thorin moves over to the dairy cow offered for his demonstration as he shouts in some Eskandish, as moves to stroke his hands along the cow's head, speaking towards it gently in a relaxing manner. “Animals, when frightened, can ruin meat. It needs to be relaxed and you work with precision.” The cow looks rather content and unaware of its surrounding situation as it was being fed. Thorin gives the nod as he moves towards the back of the animal, moving the chisel along the base of the skull. He draws upon magnetic magic as he causes a sharp electric current to project into the cow along the chisel to stun the creature, then using his hammer, smashes the chisel into the back of the skull, killing it cleanly and quickly. “Meat now succulent. Now we celebrate with a pool of malt.”, he cheers as he uses his impressive strength to chop the creature up and hoist the animal up onto a hook.

“If it wasn’t so savage, I might have thought I was just witnessing you, dear Frédérique”, his lips twist as he smiles towards his sister. “Always so kind, brother.”, as she smiles back towards him, her eyes for a moment telling him a different story. Étienne does look rather impressed with the result, the man seems to know a thing or two about meat for a barbarian, making a mark against his name for consideration.

Frédérique moves along to the next on the list, her eyes looking up and down upon Zarina’s form. “Would you be Lady Al-Nader?”, offering the girl an overly sweet pleasant smile. Étienne moves up alongside his sister, looking upon the cleaned surface with boiling water, herbs, spices, and other things, “la demoiselle, the cooks are in the next room. I don’t want to see a girl like yourself around all these butchers and sharp implements getting hurt.”

Zarina perks up at the call of her name. She is just about ready to give a steaming display to the audience by dunking the carcass into boiling water, allowing for aromas to permeate the air with a variety of colors, courtesy of the spices and colorants she added to the solution, “Hmmm? That would be me, yeah.” the butcher-ready Virangish worker turns to acknowledge the twins. Etienne added his own unwarranted comment as she let the cow's body dive into the hot tank.

“There's a girl almost half my size in the next room that's also butchering,” she claims as she tugs on the chain with her kinetic magic to hoist the scalded body up. The steam is indeed quick colorful and the smells invoked strong spices from the North, “I'll be fine.” she grins confidently, with two carving knives on her palms. With a deep breath, she makes the carcass spin at medium speed while still hanging from he chain, allowing her to elegantly swing her blade whilst circling the hanging piece of meat. Precise cuts enhanced by her Kinetic magic made the skin just loose enough to fall after a final swipe to the unhooked hoof. A fully exposed cow carcass, with the head quickly lopped off along with the hooves with the exception of the hooked foot. Zarina adopts a pose and bows, “Next, I will be selecting three quality cuts.”

For a moment she pauses to acknowledge her audience, and then she points right at Etienne, “You.” she raises her chin, “Show me the cuts you wish to have served.” she smirks, “Unless you're afraid of a little blood and guts, of course.” and just as she says that, a deep cut she had made to the abdomen of the corpse opens up, with the innards seamlessly pouring into a bucket under it. All very clean, the audience did not have to see them for more than a second.

Étienne gives a wide grin as he finds himself interested in this Vigrandish girl as he eyes her figure. I wonder if she is this feisty in bed. He approaches the carcass as he points towards the sides of the spine. ”You may serve me Filet Mignon. Though I like to treat the servants well, so cut me a Ribeye and Porterhouse for them.”. It is not unexpected for a man of his pedigree to demand the rarest and most choice cut of the beef. It doesn’t bode well for the Snowsweeper.

Frédérique gives her brother a glance as she recognises the beef isn’t the flank of meat he is interested in. Étienne is unable to filter out that disgust directed towards him completely. Being a twin can be a curse in moments like this.

Zarina checks out the pieces that are requested. Butchering isn't her specialty - far from it - but she is the only one in the team with concrete experience. So she goes for it, “Very well.” her fingers hover the appropriate knife, but before actually seizing it, she actually takes the twig and snaps it, “Do you expect an actual steak for your meal, dear guest?” she turns to face Etienne, hands behind her back, and posture straight.

Étienne smiles as he looks towards Frédérique, ”I think a cut for my dear sister and myself is in order.” He aims to soothe some of that unpleasantness in the connection they share.

As the stick is snapped, there is silence for a moment as it appears nothing happened, then a music beat started. The twins looked around to see who was making the sound, along with some of the other guests who were mumbling. Only person not completely surprised was the one who activated the trigger herself.

It seemed as if almost on cue, the music began as the castanets started clapping. Zarina is prepared.

There it is, the quick succession of cord notes that serve as a prelude to a spicy theme from home. Right as the percussions start, Zarina draws both her carving knives, raising them over her head in a Y stance before she slightly tilts her body, right foot forward and flexed to have it stand on the ball of her foot and toes. And then she starts!

A breeze brushes by the guests and all the viewers that curiously peeked in Zarina's quarters. Empowered by her keen grasp of Kinetic Magic and the air filled with aromas from the brew she had been making combined with her chemical magic, she got to work. The Ribeye first. Her footwork is discreet as she was wearing but light, dancing shoes, all emphasized as she circled her carcass. The ribs were her target, and she make sure to properly isolate them, before carving them up in singular, precise slashes. They were the easiest, as the bones essentially draw the lines for her. The next was the porterhouse, and she has to be careful to not sever the tenderloin. She holds herself on one leg, the other fully flexed with the sole of her shoe pressed to her knee. And then, with a new knife in hand, she perform a quick jab and then a tugged downward to get the right cut.

All of it resembled a dance, with Zarina adding unnecessary waves of her arms and pauses to pose. When she gets a piece, she makes a point to quickly turn to her audience, blades extended and the steaks presented to them in a row of plates she had set up. Finally comes the Filet Mignon. She needs the Tenderloin she had been careful to preserve. [1:50] She does aim for the cut itself, but instead proceeds to chop down all the other bits that could be served up. Each piece is part of her dance, and eventually, with the tenderloin fully isolated, she perform a final, closing slash. The two pieces of meat rest onto of her knife, stacked, as she bows to her audience.

“A Tenderloin for My Lord and Lady, each.”

Étienne claps to the beat of the music as the girl twirls around in front of him. Frédérique, despite a desire to dislike the girl, cannot help but be impressed by the performance.

What before them was something most certainly unique, butchery to music. Some of the competition simply walked out in protest at the judges reaction, others that they feel they cannot compete at such a level. It was almost as if Zarina was having the judges eating out of her hand if she had cooked the steak as it was served to them.

Frédérique led the clap at the end of the performance as blue rose petals fell around the girl who well and truly stole the attention away from the room. ”Fantastique”. Étienne handed Zarina two notes as he took his sister's arm, guiding her towards the competition who were fleeing from the pair.

Nia showed an incredible display with her sword work as the metal sliced and dices upon the flesh. Her honed swordplay was certainly better than Zarina’s own, but without the music and fanfare, it just seemed to pale in comparison. Destined to be second best as always.

The Huulendamn boy chose venison as his choice of cut. He was able to expertly skin the creature, showing great masterwork and consideration of that of a practised gamehunter. His knife peeling away the layers like they were nothing. Except this competition was no longer based on skill, but who can do the prettiest dancing. After the unimpressed boredom upon the judges faces, he lowers the tools and leave.

The Eskandish Beserker, Thorrin was the only other to get a ‘passing grade’ after Zarina’s performance. The man swept his blonde hair to the side as he looks upon the cuts at the end. “Sloppy. Perhaps you’ll be a dancer as I work the meat.”

Anna looks a little deflated afterwards but cheered on Zarina during her dancing.

Zarina looks down at the notes within her hands. The first is recognition of her passing the judges inspection, the other is… an address. “Baignes-toi et viens ici ce soir" bathe and come here tonight.

With her ploy delivering greatly, Zarina takes the time to prepare different plates to be delivered to Ingrid. Given what has been said, she figures making more than one dish is the way to go. She sends the following:

-Tenderloin, Makes a Filet Mignon typical dish
-Ribeye make something fancy.
-Make Bourgignon with with Porterhouse meat.
-Not Eskandish

Then comes the note for her. She raises a brow as she reads, "Fucking Prenchies." she shakes her head, and goes to witness Ingrid's work.

Velles 8th

Location: Ersand'Enise
Day of the week: Lepdes
Time: Post-Auction and Rewards
Characters: Ayla @Ti, Gina
Zarina, Riesco, Nibbler, Arlo

With the chamber of greed long passed and the auction recently finalised, the students scattered about to finally get a breather from the tiring five days they had gone through. The rest was as rewarding as the prizes for quite a few, although many ended with nothing but the relief of liberation. For both Zarina’s and Ayla’s groups, however, they were greatly compensated for their efforts with the former walking out with a vacation at the Forked Tower, three big Eskandish cows and a literal diamond-shitter. What was there not to love?

“So, you’ve become quite the big, bad lion, eh?” a voice called out behind Ayla. It was Zarina, who was prepping Riesco for the return trip to the dormitories as he had been parked at the school before the beginning of the final trial. “Waiting for your time to strike, and taking your prey from behind. Never thought you’d be so ruthless.” she smirked as she turned her head while her hands went on auto-pilot while readying the saddle, “When I even sweetened the deal too!”

Ayla looked towards her as she tilted her head, her hands stroking Gina’s nose as the pony is busy nuzzling her muzzle within her long hair. “Offering to trade votes was my idea, that is true. It seemed Silas seized the opportunity to offer the deal to everyone without informing us.” she sighed out as it appeared Zarina was not the first to accuse her of foul play with the last minute shenanigans. “Don’t think anyone expected that outcome.” She fed Gina a delicious carrot from her hand, offering another one to Zarina to take. “Disappointed you didn’t come second, at least. You played a mean game out there.”

“So it’s Silas, huh?” Zarina’s lips parted slightly, showing her tongue pressing behind her left canine. The gears in her head were turning, a scheme was being formed and malice accumulated but controlled. “Doesn’t surprise me. I’m going to pay the shit a little visit.” she warned her friend whilst seizing the carrot to feed flat-handed to an eager Riesco, “I want those points. I’m getting them one way or another.” the horse was then dragged out of the pen and to the outside. The Virangish girl chuckles, “Even in our worst, we still rose to the top. No wonder we were the favourites~”

They started to pace through the city, making way for the dormitory area Merchants and Nobles more-or-less shared, “Well, now you’ve got a fancy cape and a sword. What’s the next step, kitty cat?” she hopped onto her steed after giving the beast a couple of neck-pats. It looked as though she was already convinced of whom the culprit was.

Ayla is somewhat fortunate that team Zemana had got ahead, especially as she has her lovely cloak, which would have not been an option otherwise. “My big ideas seemed destined to be unsuccessful during the trial, and often the plans were forgotten about. Can count on many blessings that we succeeded as well as we did.” She offered her friend on a warpath a smile, “Wish it were you, Kaspar, Yalen, and Jo… now that would have been an unstoppable team.” She sighed as she imagined the so-called wonder teams performance at the trial.

She strokes her hand along Gina’s neck similarly to those neck pats. The pair certainly looked like little and large upon the choice of horses. “The next step… that is a good question” a few ideas ran through her mind at such possibilities, though not fully able to share them all. “Would happily settle to have a long sleep… haven’t been able to rest at all during the trial. See these dark patches under my eyes?”, she gives a grin towards Zarina, though make-up is able to do wonders.

“Nope.” politely replied Zarina in a very performed lie. Even herself, the master of hiding her chronic insomnia, couldn’t hide just how much of a toll the event had taken on her, “I could use a bit of sitting on my ass, actually. Especially with the birds that are going to hatch.” she facepalms, “Fuck me, I’m going to be raising five monkeybird-babies. That’s like, three times a human child.”

Ayla grinned as she imagined Zarina as a mother, the picture was a very amusing one, as Zarina ended up as more the father role, whilst Kaspar was the… she blushed and looked down, perhaps he did deserve one of his tall girls after all, they have both most likely grown closer during the trials, much like the rumours spread about Jo and Yalen. “Do you suppose your motherly instincts will kick in when they hatch?”, she coo’d a tease toward her.

“Eh?” Zarina squinted over at Ayla who matched her horse’s pace with Riesco, “That’s such a fucking weird thing to say.” she turned to look forward, perplexed over the notion Ayla had just shared, “Now you’re making me imagine it. Babying them a-” and right on cue, Nibbler emerged from her bag after having taken a small nap and sat on her shoulder, “There he is, the little naughty bugger!” she reached out to seize the creature. It looked at her with the most innocent, beady eyes imaginable, pacifying her night instantly, “Awwwh. Who’s the cute little heroic Nibble, hmm?” and now he was cradled in her arms with little scritches given to his exposed tummy. His little paws opened when her hand was off, and closed on her hand when she went for the belly rubs.

Ayla could only smile sweetly as the dormouse was now tucked up within Zarina’s arms and cradled like a baby. She guides Gina closer as she takes a closer look at the cute creature, “Looked like they have awoken already~”, she reached forward towards Nibbler as she waggled her fingers to him in a hearty hello. “You have definitely taken lost animals under your wing this last week, from blueberry dragons, this cutie, those moo’s…”

Nibbler playfully reached out to Ayla’s hand, although his limbs were much too small to get anything, and his position kept him from rising, “Bad little boy snuck into my bag when I went to Greed. Tsk.” despite the scolding she couldn’t stop herself from petting the creature. He was clearly very content. “Yeah, uhm, I might have a problem.” she awkwardly tittered, scratching the back of her head, “Don’t have anybody telling me NO to all these cuties and awesome lads.” she sighed, “Then again, most of these poor things would’ve died. And I’m not one to stay on the sidelines for long, even toward Oraff.” Nibbler’s floofy tail rose up to her belly as he adopted the legendary sleeping position of the dormouse. Looks like he really was tired.

Ayla smiled as she watched it get off to sleep, continuing to ride upon Gina at that gentle pace. “Not been so innocent as well, brought back a puff lion cub back from Revidia with me from the Doge’s personal zoo. He does have an almighty roar. Named him Asier, after my great ancestor.” she ponders a moment as she considers the geography, “Who may have ridden through here 800 years ago. He most likely rode a lion through these very streets, adorning shining metal armour like that Thierry of yours.” she mused as she directs the topic into girl talk.

Zarina snorted, “On a lion? With armour and everything? You know that’s not possible, right?” she raised a brow and then rolled her eyes, “Haven’t heard from the guy, actually. Nor have I seen him, as a Century.” she replied, looking somewhat dejected by the remark she had made, “Anyway, a Lion’s a bit complicated to raise. Gonna keep it in your home as some big house cat?” she asked as Nibbler was slowly but surely tucked closer to her chest while one hand got back to Riesco’s reins.

Ayla frowned at the remark, “There are paintings. He saved Relouse by burning the Eskandish fleet. Angry at what they had done, he travelled to their capital, Meldheim, rescued the fruit of Oraff as the Eskandish burnt down their own city in trying to stop him. They formed together another large army, then at Solenne…” she could tell Zarina was not interested in a history lesson, “He was a brave man. The Perrench tried to write him out of their history books, saying it was a myth. Clearly they had not seen the fruit trees that sprung from those seeds, for they would know it to be true.” She rode quiet for a moment before she addressed the other question, “They don’t grow as large as the Arslanian Lion, so should be okay to keep as a house pet if given plenty of opportunities to roam.”

Zarina was indeed only half-interested in the historical feats of a long dead man. A lot of history was exaggerated, after all, and she had yet to see a feline rider. Ever. “Prenchies do be like that, I agree.” she conceded, as they entered an alley shortcut while nearing the dorm area, “There was a big orange tree in the middle of ass-nowhere in the desert. If it wasn’t the big, special tree seeds, you certainly had strong contenders for the best.”

They neared the Merchant dorms, where a blue reptile hovered over both of them, only to land onto Zazzy’s shoulder. It was Arlo, and by Zarina’s petting and lack of reaction, this appeared to be a common experience, “So. What about that Mantolien guy. Been talking to him?”

Ayla shook her head at the question, “Things tend to be one-sided in our conversations as he talks at you, not with you. He is currently writing a treatise on Nikan and has been updating me on how that is doing.” she sighed out, “Imagine this is more of a ploy by my father than a serious betrothal, he is most likely after something he feels only Alexandre can get for him. If he was serious, he would be offering him Maria” she curls a finger around her the curls in her hair, “The family runt is only good for her name”.

Zarina raised a brow, “Family runt?” then a moment was taken to perform an exaggerated ‘check out’ of Ayla on Gina, “The little tart that won the Trials is the runt of the Arslans?” an exacerbated cocking of both of brows followed, “Don’t be too much of a victim, Ayla. You’ve got way more going than most people do.” a little neigh escaped Riesco, prompting Arlo to briefly take off, and land onto Ayla’s shoulder next.

“What do you think he actually wants- your dad, I mean?” Zarina leaned forward over her horse’s mane as she continued the talks, just as they were nearing her stables.

Ayla raised an eyebrow as she looks up at Zarina as the girl and her horse towers above her and Gina, being the runt is an obvious statement of fact. “It has been rather liberating out here, and been to more places within the last week than in my entire life.” Her fingers reached up to pet upon Arlo as he landed upon her shoulders, stroking along his bearded neck, and reaching around to scratch the back of his head.

As the topic drifts toward her father, she only offered a shrug of her shoulder. “He is after someone or something, given Alexandre is a scholar with knowledge of Callanast continent, it must be a legendary artefact of some kind, perhaps a tool he can use against Casa Frannemas, or his goal is on the continent itself.”

“Uh-huh.” Zarina listened attentively, but her response put distance between her and the subject, feigning disinterest. Arlo flew back up and hovered over the two after Ayla’s impromptu shrug, “So, do you intend to go along with it, or are you gonna show off these Arslan fangs?” she chuckled and hopped off her steed to open the gate into the stables, “Wanna park Gina with Riesco tonight? I’m sure it’ll make them both happy.” she suggested as she gestured toward the entrance, keeping her own horse back for now.

Ayla brought Gina into the stables before she dismounted from her, and spoiled the pony with warm affection as she nuzzled upon her neck. “Five years to consider, and besides, he may decide to elope with one of those Virangish Striped Manatee he spoke so fondly of during our betrothal.” she bared those Arslanian fangs towards Zarina with her mischievous smile. She moves under the cover of the thatched roof as she goes towards the bag seated upon the saddle to bring out the horse brush, to use it lovingly upon the creature.

Zarina tended to her own horse now that he was parked and sticking his head out expectantly. As was routine, she offered him a carrot to indulge in, caressing his cheek simultaneously as he nibbled rather than swallowed up. Then, she snorted, “He did love those dugongs, didn’t he?” a complicit smirk was returned to the Torragonese, “By the way.” she chimed with a higher pitch, “That Coldfire class I sold to Dory, I’d like you to join.”

Ayla considered the proposal with superficially, “That is Alizée’s magic. Da would pay a lot for that book.” she sighed for a moment as she thought deeper, she wrestled with the thoughts in her mind. The silence lingers for a moment as she puts down the brush as she approached the other girl. “The truth is… the last time we used fire, people were hurt.” her face distorts as she recalls the memories of the event in her mind, even that of her recent night terrors. The sound, the sight, that smell. “They were hurt, Zazzy… I hurt them.. She approached as she moved her arms to hold upon her friend. “We don’t want to hurt you.”.

Zarina flinched, arms opened from the surprise. It took her a moment, but she eventually coiled them around Ayla’s frame. Her hands reached over the cub’s mane as she pushed against the smaller critter’s back to tighten the embrace, “You won’t hurt me, kitty cat.” she cooed over Ayla’s head, chin rested upon her scalp, “I’m indestructible, after all.” a back rub was warranted, and she’d keep her friend there for a while, until Gina went on to nip Ayla’s wavy top and tugged on it a little.

“One thinks Gina is getting jealous now” She laughed softly as she wiped her tears. “One needs to confront her. Alizée. Will you help me?” she looked up towards the Virangish girl expectantly.

Zarina paused, arching back a little to properly peer down at her distressed friend, “I’d love to help, kitty cat.” she forced a confident smile, “How can I help take down your bitch of a great-great-gran?”

Ayla smiled playfully in response, “You shouldn’t say that so lightly about a so-called Grand Demon. Especially when you are playing around with their magic”. She feels Gina’s head nuzzling it between them as she stepped back to allow it to come in. Her hands move to stroke upon the pony, giving it an ear rub. “Thanks. We will attend your class. If you will have us both.” she playfully references to Gina who is now moving her nose into Zarina’s pockets in the sure for food.

As luck would have it, there was a spare carrot by the sack she had carefully stored Nibbler in after the dismount. The dry but still tasty veggie was fed to the pony, prompting many crunches and a jealous Riesco flapping his lips as she outstretched his head to get a bite, “Nuh-huh, you’ve gotten enough, bud.” she gave a couple of pats to his snout and he eventually conceded, “Alright, I’ll see all three of you soon, then? Like … A few days. I’ll tell ya’.”

Ayla giggled gently as her friend was overrun by all her animals. “Sounds like a time and date. Look forward to spending it with you.” She moved towards the building after putting Gina away for the night, waiting for Zarina to finish to return to her place. “Next time, we’ll introduce you to Asier, and no, you cannot take him home with you.”

Forged in Blood and War

The Unrelenting Soldier of Dami

INTERACTING: Sidi, Chamonix People
EVENT: Ebbs and Flows || LOCATION: Chamonix

Arnaud had come to this war with around a dozen men that had followed him since he had been converted into the Constantian fold. Only one remained alive. Sidi. A woman that was neither his best nor the eldest. Just one that was lucky enough to not get torched or impaled in the cruel battlefield, but just as loyal as any of his men. It’d come to no surprise that she would be the first to zip through the fields once she took notice of her Lord’s pained approach to Eleanor’s fold. With Sidi’s help, both Sir Bobignon and the Aheri himself would avoid the worst, with the latter’s heart just barely withstanding the strain.

The massive man whispered to her concealed ear, “Chamonix. They come.” Sidi’s helm nodded as she held her master’s head near her’s and then gently posed it back down onto the ground and delivered the message herself to Queen Eleanor. All the while, the behemoth of a man stared up at the sky, the same way he had as he had slain Olaf. It was all repeating itself again. Him at the precipice of death, bodies littering the battlefield and a maiden to judge whether he would live or die - Here she was again, Sidi. Over his head, her expression hidden but her body betraying her true feelings. She feared for her fallen King’s life. She was no healer too, and the few the queen could dispense were lagging behind the extremely swift soldier of the North.

“You are not destined to die yet, Arun,” she muttered as she clenched the dark man’s cheeks with her leather gloves, “Darhanna has foreseen this fate for you.” she cleared the long, greasy hair that got in the way of his visage, that was itself partially veiled by his since grown and greyed beard. Not the clean shaven man he had been at the start of it all.

“Do not call me that.” he uttered every word with a loud exhale, “I am Arnaud. And only Dami will decide my fate.” he replied with apparent surrender, leaving Sidi with no words. The help soon arrived, and by this point the Aheri had closed his eyes. A wave of panic washed over the armoured woman, prompting her to remove her helm and call out for her lord. He was still breathing, but he had hoped he could finally rest. He had been through enough.

Neither Darhanna nor Dami would grant Arnaud reprieve, as he was back on his feet in about an hour. Not fully recovered, but functional enough to be equipped with new armour and command the same authority and intimidation he had always done. The Queen had gotten his message, and now he had his own mission to pursue: Ensure the protection of Chamonix, and kill all Eskandr.

An aggressive push was made to gather men, although the success rate was underwhelming. The reputation of an executioner, especially one known to not be originally Parrench, never inspired much trust. His very concealing gear did little to help, as only Le Bourreau Royal wore these colours and odd attires, as well as his soldiers. Well, what remained of them anyway, with the rest of the few men that could be spared to him wearing the flame of Parrence. A low turnover overall, but given they were looking at a siege, perhaps less mouths to feed was a boon in a way.

A call was made for all able bodies to retreat and defend the major city, and he heeded it without hesitation. The doors to Chamonix hadn’t locked yet, and opened gracious to the massive man’s arrival, axe held in one hand while his other hid its wounds that hadn’t fully healed. There were no speeches or theatrics. The Executioner was here, Arcel’s main guard and the one to shed blood for the King’s Justice. He did not need any introductions. He was the death of the enemy. The one that killed an Æresvaktr member by himself, and nearly killed another while facing down their ace. No, this was not a man that needed to assert anything anymore.

Velles 6th

Ersand’Enise - Perrence - Belzagg - Eskand Loft
Ersand’Enise - Virang - Eskand - Mudville
Day of the week: Pandes
Time: All Day
Characters: Too many people

Zarina woke up to claws digging into her itchy scalp. What was once an irritated eye migrated to her head. At first she thought nothing of it, it was very early in the morning still - even for her - but as she got a tad more lucid, the pain awakened with her. What she was scratching wasn’t just her scalp but a very unusual lump that was mirrored on the other hemisphere of her skull. Not only did just touching that tender mass make her want to scream, but the ‘scratching’ was more like clawing with dried blood leaking all over her face and hair. It was gross, it was atrociously painful and it was terrifying.

She rushed to the restroom in pants of pain and drool oozing from her lips. The nearby, half-melted candles were immediately turned ablaze in an intensity she didn’t realise was far too much. The mirror reflected a stained face and a very red eye. Although if she focused, she could see that her pupils were cloudier than usual, yet her sight was completely unaffected. Not that the details would matter much to someone in as much pain as Zarina was. Just a minute of panic later and her sink was shattered from the enormous physical might she was ‘blessed’ with. The ceramic shards lodged into her hands brought attention to them, and there she noticed the claws along with the black, little scales running through her fingers and the back of her palms. Easy to miss, looking like little pricks were actually thick scales of obsidian that tugged on her skin like infected growths. Her whole body was inspected throughout the hours of Ipte, with only her feet and chest looking to be the most affected. The thickest of the scales were near her breasts, and the sight made her vomit. Well that and the unending soreness that came with her transformation.

The why of it all was very secondary in the agonising mind of the Virangish half-dragon. All that mattered was getting rid of this pain. With a quick cleanup and fixing of her visage, she didn’t bother to do her hair or even pick out proper attires - she just had to GO. And the best place was where she had gotten shit-faced last time: The Hegelans. When she sniffed them out, the jovial party was to come to an end between Vyshta’s Favoured, Shortlisted and the guests. She gobbled up what she could find.

“More.” she demanded, “MOAR!” she bellowed.

The patrons too exception to her behaviour and were preparing for violence as the furious beast that had downed three mana shots was now threatening to bring down anyone who denied her the drinks. They did little to help, but that didn’t matter, they at least did something. The day would be saved by Penny, who extended an empathetic hand toward Zarina despite their history. Their gazes met, and the afflicted Zaz recoiled from her overly aggressive state and hoped only for some sort of salvation when Penelope appeared to at least understand. The offer of putting her to sleep was eagerly accepted with rapid nods before Zarina was brought to a slumber and a tragedy was thankfully avoided.

What happened during the ten minutes of slumber was very much a blur to her. Flashes of Penny explaining things to Ingrid, Mister Secto making an appearance and collaborating with Penny to get Zarina on her feet and her ingesting a cocktail that, while it didn’t remedy her of anything, dulled her senses enough to make existing somewhat bearable. For now, it seemed there weren’t too many eyes on Zarina’s new predicament, to her great fortune.

The matches were without incident, for the most part. Both Teams Afraval and Colloy made it to the final brackets, where they would be facing the usual rivals. While Colloy simply fell short in terms of points, Afraval would end up succumbing to a different problem: Itself. The favourites by a considerable margin, it’d be a shock for many to find out they would be disqualified in their final game, costing them the necessary points to qualify to the five-way finals. A tremendous shock to the betting rings, many clamoured foul and a recount was necessary. However, neither team Solstice nor team Afraval had a desire to revisit this issue.

For now, though, the treasures for each of their arenas had to be addressed! Abdel himself had a relatively mundane morning and started off with a Zeno Bucks Breakfast and immediately got to hurling Neskals with his magnetic talents. And then of course, he too would hoard a few riches during the event.

The battle between Team Afraval and Team Solstice was going as expected. Both were powerhouse teams that would need to chip at one-another before dealing any sort of heavy damage. For all the flashiness going on, it was relatively uneventful overall with roses being displaced and rarely even damaged. The monsters at the front of both teams were simply ushering a stalemate that bored even the most fervent followers in the audience. They didn’t have the courage to boo them, however. Eventually, a break is taken, and in that time the Ice King had gone missing the entire period, but re-appeared just as the match started again.

Something had changed about the Godly behemoth that defined their team’s power. They could all feel it - the unnerving cold that stagnated in the air rather than being brought in by a swift gust. The Ice King locked his shining eyes toward one in particular: Brother Ash. The Sanguinaire stared back, a tad confused and probably not in the mood to rumble with a monster like him. But nobody was asking for his opinions.


He uttered as steam escaped his wide grin. He had moved so fast, none had realised the Clanger he was holding was hurled. The shockwave was delayed and repulsed all those around and nearly flung the audience away too. Ash, being the powerful being that he was, mustered just enough strength to survive and take it, and his regeneration would allow him to get back up after a moment downed. A clear foul that baffled the referees and ignited the fans into cheers for more.

Benedetto was getting none of it and immediately charged for the Ice King with his ‘hero of the people’ zeal at full swing (plus a bit of booze in his system). Zarina denied him that and went for her own smack, “Get off my lane, jagoff.” she growled.

And then it became a downright brawl. Brother Ash rose back from his ‘slumber’ and duked it out with the Ice King who had abandoned any half-hearted attempt to keep it confined to the game. He had a bone to pick with this man. Obvious team Covenant wasn’t going to let this slide and were doing their best to control the situation, but they would have to then handle a second Sanguinaire seeking to get some revenge on the one that had done her wrong twice now.

It was a mess, and a very dangerous one at that. Jomurr in particular would be targeted by the Mudville audience, prompting him to fume up and threaten to lash out at them. Marci and Benny were not going to have it and went at him whilst Zarina attempted to shrug off Cadence’s and Marly’s illusions. Given her pain and current state, she was much harder to pacify than expected, nor did illusions particularly help in stopping a rampage.

Augusto pulled Penny back, warning her that this wasn’t worth getting involved with, while the rest of CUBED somewhat retreated back with Kaspar, avoiding the clash of the titans going at the front. Eventually, Covenant would manage to put a stop to it without Wolf’s drastic measures, which came with separating Ash from the Ice King whilst the Trials Staff urged all those involved to get out of the field.

In the end, Team Afraval had thrown the first clanger that led to this mess, essentially disqualifying them. They’d take 6th place, but Solstice would gain the final spot in the finals.

All of Covenant, The Sanguinaire, Sunny, Luna and Abdel @Force and Fury, Evander@RezonanceV, Desmond@Th3King0fChaos, Ymiico@Salsa Verde, Silas @Tackytaff, Yuliya @Suicharte, Trypano @A Lowly Wretch, Khaliun, Viktor, Lissanon

A being as bright as the sun itself gracefully shined a beam of light that consumed all that stood against her word. Born-on-Solstice had stepped forward into the battle just as the vampiric monster had begun to show murderous tendencies. The youths stood strong, but they were clearly no match to this man - A man without a clear goal or purpose here. How could they possibly defeat what they clearly did not understand?

The light was finite, however, unlike the sun. The glimmer faded more and more as Sunny obliterated her way through the enemy’s defence and pushed him to a point not even Abdel’s perfect strike could. More and more, the heat steaming out of her outweighed the energy output, and soon Sunny appeared to be at a complete disadvantage to the hooded beast that laughed. That was until …

The sun shined a bright Zenith for the third time this day.

How could she suddenly have this much energy? The answer was going to appear far quicker than expected. Behind the Sanguinaire appeared a figure of the same size and build as the bright mass of energy that was assaulting him. One that immediately stabbed him in the back. If it weren’t for his immense power, he would be dead already. It didn’t matter. The monstrous 10 RAS twin levitated in the air, both hands charged with orbs of light that were condensed with as much power as the swift foe could muster up with his entire being. He had to escape.

Fades-in-Moonlight, the woman who ruled the shadows and dove into the secrets of Dark Magic nearly as deeply as Paradigm himself, would not let him escape. Bound by her powerful Kinetic and Chemical magics, the Sanguinaire did not have the ability to escape. Not with the intervention of the students that withered him down even more.

With a clap of her hands, Sunny conjured a massive serpent of pure, gold light that slithered around and above their one enemy. Maw agape and descending down onto the one that dreaded the very sun she mimicked, he was blessed with searing light that no being could hope to normally survive, let alone a Sanguinaire. After the bright flash that turned the sky blue for a mere three seconds, only a black, scorched spot was left where the target was previously, looking to have been vanquished …

My Gods. What is this demon?!

A panicked Viktor was watching half a block away, sitting behind a corner and only peeking from time to time. The warnings from some of the other volunteers and the sounds of battle had brought him to rush over, only to hide when he saw Evander he ejected from the stadium and into a home. He clutched his gun and utilised his most advanced skill: Concealment. A worthy skill for a hunter, and a coward. Although who could blame him? He clearly had as much experience as the students with this.

Lissanon you fuck. What have you done?!

And then came the great lights. One that dimmed, and the one that flashed throughout the whole city, and was visible from Relouse. And suddenly, he was gone. The monster was gone, replaced by two Zenos, Oh thank the Pentad. Never thought I’d be so happy to see a Zeno., although that relief would be short lived. The very one that had ‘slain’ the beast suddenly turned on the others, “Wh-” his heart sank as he saw the chaos unfold. Three other students were nearby: One with a bandana over his eyes, one with a gun, and one that was far too tall for a girl.

His grip on his gun loosened as he witnessed something extraordinary. Something he had seen once before. All of them, upon hearing an echo he had managed to just barely capture, fell to their knees, many of which staying unconscious. This included the spectral Zeno that could even catch the Sanguinaire off-guard, The Holy See! he saw them and their magic. The five of Covenant, breaking off from their patrols to handle this matter, Which means they have eyes here! he kept perfectly still, making it nearly impossible for Charity to sniff him out thanks to his concealment. Although if she really focused, she could detect how much he profusely sweated.

A traitor. The Volti. And the Traveller … he overheard it all, as he was just at the edge of Cadence’s bubble, We need to leave now. This is getting way too hot. In the wake of many inhabitants stirring on the streets to see what was up and the Holy forces working their way to mind-wipe, Viktor found his chance to slip through and make it back to the distillery early.

“Arch Zeno?” inquired Lissanon at the arrival of a clearly panicked Viktor, “Holy See.” he replied as he gathered the little bit of gear they had brought, “And Zenos. Very powerful ones.” he quickly briefed his partner, “Who gave you this lead? This is a madhouse!” he growled at his partner as he flung his bag over his shoulder and prepared to book it. Lissanon didn’t appear in as much of a hurry, “The liaison did. What did you see?” he calmly inquired. Viktor stopped his frantic preparation and glared at the other Magusjager, “A monster.”

The darker skinned man sighed, “Then our intelligence was correct. But I didn’t expect one this old to show themselves in the Free City so carelessly …” he shook his head as he reached for his rifle, “Why didn’t you warn me?” he asked with an adamant tone, “Scheisse! Did you see how many got hurt?! They could have all died! I could have died.” Lissanon shrugged, “You knew the risks.” Viktor was not having it, “I could have died! Your partner, Guy …” an air of sadness came from his voice. Viktor’s body language softened, “But you knew.” Lissanon nodded again, “I did. I just did not expect it to turn out like this. Everything indicated a young Sanguinaire. And no survivors are expected from a High or Elder.”

High? Elder? the feeling of betrayal grew in Viktor, “Did you expect me to die in that case?” he asked with a shaking voice. Lissanon, after checking his empty gun and putting it back next to him, gave a half-hearted smile at his partner, “Yes.” and with that, with blinding speed that matched Yuliya’s, he was in front of the betrayed and shocked Viktor. His hand impaled the Kerremand’s chest, “Huh?” it was so fast he didn’t even have time to cough out the air and blood in his lungs. His eyes were wide and looking down at Lissanon, “I’m sorry Viktor.” he uttered in a soft voice as he rested his idle hand over the other’s shoulder, “You were caught at the bad end of-”

Lissanon’s head exploded. Behind him was the barrel of a smoking rifle with no noise escaping from it. The impaled Viktor disintegrated into a mass of meat and linen kept together by weak chemical and kinetic magic, while the Viktor wielding Lissanon’s rifle stood firm at the back, “You were never good at tracking. Even for a bloodsucker, it seems.” he sighed and took a swig of whiskey to down what he had just experienced. The kids would be here soon - He had to clean up.

There were three vials of Holy Water of the Sanguine Order they had brought along - He seized one and poured the contents over Lissanon’s body. It quickly began to dissolve: The clothing held decently, but anything organic was melting like butter. It was an abnormally potent acid from the looks of it, and its ‘holiness’ didn’t really appear to discriminate. All that would be left once the volunteers would return would be a pile of red goo, a lot of black, decomposed matter and thin, skeletal remains riddled with holes. The very tethered clothes revealed Lissanon’s identity, and have the school someone to blame.

“Prost, little pups.” he raised his glass to the distillery. Viktor had opted to leave Lissanon’s own funds as a bonus to the group, as well as two vials of the Burning Order’s Holy Water, a Sanguinaire killing kit, and 62 Magi. They would not see Viktor in Ersand’Enise anymore and the Burning Order would have a few loose ends to tie up.


“I’ve got a question, actually.”

A tall, Virangish teen steps up among the fray with the droplets of rain seemingly avoiding her as if she has some sort of aversion field around her. Jocasta would be pleased to witness Zarina elevating her gravitational loops for everyday purposes and seemingly without any effort whatsoever. The lack of confident grin suggests that this wasn’t going to be some banter or something of a too personal nature, “Do you remember a name or a face?” she asks plainly, arms crossed and her proximity to Jocasta making her closeness to the quest giver known to the newer faces, “I remember Abdel getting some scraps back when I told him his old family’s name. Maybe we can find someone from your old town as a lead?”

As they go through the portal, Zarina keeps at the back of the group so she could catch the powerful Tethered before she’d leave them to complete the task, “Hey, Jo,” she pipes up and twists to peer down at the blonde, “Save the coin, I owe you after Torragon.” she flashes a gentle smile to her friend, “Do you remember a pet? When you were a kid, I mean.” she inquires, her voice is hushed enough to keep it between them, “No kid could resist micro-creatures.” she giggles and continues, “Maybe it’d do you good - Having a little companion to care for. I noticed you were good with them. Would you like me to find something on the side?”

Velles 5th

Location: Au Boeuf Rouge - Ersand'Enise
Day of the week: Taldes
Time: 4:XX HE
Characters: Ingrid @dragonpiece, Kaspar @Wolfieh,
Maura @Ti, Zarina, Zarra @BreathOfTheWoof
Anna, Au Boeuf Rouge's Staff, Carving Contestants

Au Boeuf Rouge, a renowned establishment that catered to the most wealthy in Ersand’Enise. Not quite a restaurant - the service industry had yet to truly blossom - but it provided chefs of considerable quality for households that sought to have feasts for the evening. Occasionally the building was used for events where servants would essentially serve as waiters with menus proposed to the rich. It was a first for Zarina, and she did take some time to absorb the many aromas coming from the kitchens.

A twig was given to her by Maura, prompting the young Virangish to blink rapidly whilst pinching it at the base, “... What exactly is it? Do I just snap it or burn it?” her eyebrows rose as she was left perplexed. Still, she stored the peculiar item into the pocket of her apron.

“Yeah, no, we’re going to get creamed by the competition.” confirmed Zarina as she adorned the fresh, white apron and tied her hair in a way that it’d avoid being a hazard for the coming challenge, “So we gotta be smart about it. Starting with our dish choice.” she peered over at Maura, “Apart from a singular Virangish pepper, the cost shouldn’t be too exorbitant, I reckon.” she then pulled the knives from the slots to inspect each one, nodding in satisfaction after a brief inspection of the equipment.

The Virangish lady’s attention then went to Ingrid, “Glad to see you’re not too shaken after earlier today.” she chuckled, “I’m going to have to insist that you don’t grace us with Eskandish delights - or anything Eskandish whatsoever - during this cook-off.” Zarina had plucked the last knife out and passed her digits over the surface of the blade. This was what she was going to use to carve the proper cut out of the carcass once she had properly treated it, “So, I propose A Boeuf Bourguignon. It’s like Beef stew, but with a specific Burgundy Wine you can buy in the winery here. Very Perrench.”

A few taps of her index to the tip of the blade left her with her lips pursed before she waved the blade in Ingrid’s direction, “I’ll leave you to decide what comes with the main meat and sauce.” her attention then went to Zarra and Kaspar, “The competition is a butcher and a chef,” the tip of the knife as pointed right at them, “So, instead I’d trust you guys to run interference on the other teams. They’re better than us, so we gotta play like dicks.”

The carving room. A very spacious set of rooms where the contestants could bring their creatures to slaughter and later butcher them. Zarina, being who she was, opted for the carcass of a perfectly average cow. Of course, as the rules stipulated, she had to butcher it, meaning the whole process had to be completed, from emptying, to skinning to carving out the perfect slice. She sighed at the sight, but winced at the sounds of hoofs and calls of animals that echoed through the rooms. This wasn’t going to be pretty.

”Hi! Food, yum?” greeted Anna as she pointed at the carcass.

“Well hey you,” Zarina replied back with far less enthusiasm, though she could muster a smile, “That’s mine, yeah.”

Kikimoras was with her and on him were various bags with supplies to prepare the meats, most likely. A convenient giant to handle dumb labour for this minuscule girl, ”Luck good! Win yes.”

“Hah! You’re on you little shit.” Zarina smirked right as Anna did the same. They didn’t need to speak the same language to understand their fiery desire to win.

Zarina’s Plan for the Carving:

❖ She is going to begin by cleaning her workspace, the carcasse and get some water boiling in the basin. The tail will be severed and the body will be dipped in the wanted to make the skinning easier.

❖ A marinade of soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, water and grated and dried Virangish pepper kept at a minimum to not burn some Perrench tongues!

❖ Once skinned, the animal will be emptied and the head severed along with the hooves. The carcass is ready to be carved. From there, she will show the world, after a good couple of months, what a dancer can do with a pair of sharp blades.

❖ Lacking a beat, she will lose her tempo. And so, she will snap the twig ...

Within the crevice Zarina had detected during the Halassa race, there was a trap door that revealed a chest containing ancient Darhannic relics. As always with lost treasures, there were traps as well with the Virangish adventurer nearly succumbing to a pitfall. The hole clearly led to something much deeper. Her attention was first on the contents of the chest she had bothered to find:

❖ One Half of a scarab with a left eye engraved onto its shell, representing the Seer of What Has Been. It is blue in colour.
❖ A six-pointed star.
❖ An old bronze hourglass with sands that start red and turn black as they flow through the middle.
❖ A Parchment Scroll with writing similar to what is inscribed on the nearby wall.

Zarina then peered down into the hole. It wasn’t too deep, as even with the dim lightning she could distinguish a floor a few feet down, Like fuck I’m going down there alone. with the newly acquired items stored in a leather bag she had brought, she set off to gather a few people she could trust to not completely mess things up as they snooped around.

Ayla, someone I think I can trust with anything. If anything, she’ll keep our spirits up in these dank and lonely passages.
Jocasta, a powerful person and someone I very much consider a friend. If things go south, she’s reliable to at worst get us out of the gutter.
Ingrid, another powerful individual and someone that at least has a reason to not fuck me over. Decent person, no reasons to overthink.
Desmond, I know the least about among the four. Said to be competent and can handle himself without magic. Probably has the skills to handle creepy undergrounds.

The team was gathered and they were now back where Zarina had left off, with Jocasta suggesting a translation of the parchment, which matched what was written on the wall. Zarina revelled in the fascinating goodies she had acquired. All of which would make fine additions to her future home. The parchment got her to raise a brow, “I uh, I can try to translate. Can't promise much, though.” her Zaqhory was rather underwhelming, let alone ancient Zaqhory. Nonetheless, they all shared roots to Inipori languages.

As expected, she wasn’t able to make out everything, but she noticed that the matching lines are prefaced by a word that meant something like, "read" while non-matching lines refer to the matching lines. They all have a word that she thinks essentially means, "respond." They were since down into the ruins where the walls held even more scriptures, and dangers lurked at every corner.

“There are Hundreds!”


Velles 5th

Location: The Proving Grounds - Ersand’Enise
Day of the week: Taldes
Time: 1:05 HD
Characters: Abdel Saqqaf Aziz @Force and Fury,
Evander @RezonanceV, Khaliun, Leander @Creative Chaos,
Ymiico @Salsa Verde, Yuliya @Suicharte

Flames, left in the wake of Evander’s and Abdel’s furies, danced throughout the arena, progressively lighting the dark skies above with an orange tint that made the black flames more noticeable. Of course, the mild fire was not enough to get all eyes on the South-Western portion of the city, not with most of the patrols taken care of. With such powerful blasts, said to be the weakness of the Sanguinaire, it would be to the group’s horror that the shadow emerged, seemingly unscathed by any of it, and stood facing them, "Oooh," he teased. "ouch." he was toying with all of them.

A curved line of white teeth glowed in the darkness of his cowl. "My turn."

The bloodsucker played along with the kids’ attempts to get him. Illusions and superior speed allowed the monster to make the battlefield his stage, and only the Gods would be his audience for all the living were merely the instruments - vulgar cogs - to his catastrophic plan. The levity of it all was perhaps a good sign for them, until Yuliya caught his attention. The Sanguinaire larvae struck “true”, decapitating the “Sanguinaire” with “blood” squirting about. Of course, it was all but a farce. The consequences were not.

Something like a hand reached out of nowhere. Only, Yuliya could neither see nor stop it. It took her by the neck and slammed her face-first into the ground. With blinding speed, she was lifted and rammed into it again.

And again …

And again.

"Rule one, infant: do not underestimate your quarry."

An enraged Khaliun immediately intervened. An attempt to noose the vampire’s neck with a concentrated ring of pure force was tightened around his neck. There is no restraint, with the Tethered’s wide and refracting eyes painfully focused on her one enemy.
"Oops!" came a response. "Pop goes muh head!" it popped off cleanly, squirting a little blood, executing a turn in midair, smiling, and rolled to a stop before her. "Guess I'm ded." It stuck out its tongue before disappearing. Khaliun was left unimpressed, but did not waste time questioning it. Taking advantage of the creature’s taunting, she sought to employ her blood magic to tend to her royal better-

As Khaliun approached, Yuliya's prone form exploded, spraying bits of blood and gore everywhere. When Khaliun instinctively flinched, she found that she was losing feeling up past her midsection, her chest, and into her fingertips! "Hue hue hue," laughed the Sanguinaire. "Why so serious, girl?" Left shocked and distraught, Khaliun just stared at the puddle of blood as the creeping feeling spread through her.

Leander emerged from his hiding spot and helped, along with Evander snapping from his illusionary bindings. Still, despite their best efforts, they were not even grazing the revolting affront to life itself that taunted them so confidently. That was until …

The Sanguinaire had a very clear weakness: Hubris. He was very much stronger and held powers that even made his natural weaknesses less reliable. His provocations of the Nobleman and the Merchant child as well as having dealt with Yuliya made him oblivious to the growing storm occurring right next to him. Feeling the power of Eshiran and Vashdal coursing through him, Abdel called upon six perfect morningstars of light. They blazed in the night sky like so many moons.

"Be cleansed in fire, demon!"

The morningstars hurtled towards the Sanguinaire and he bolted from his place, recognizing the real and present danger. The air itself seemed to waver as he left the confines of the colosseum, but he proved too slow and the colossal attack crashed down on the sanguinaire's new position nonetheless. "Ejjiran akbar!" Abdel bellowed, bounding up onto the arena's lip. A great plume of dust and smoke rose from the Sanguinaire's landing place, but no signs of sound or motion. Flames blazed and heat rolled off of the area.

Buoyed by the furious spirit of Eshiran, the paladin called upon a lance of fire and thunder from the heavens. Leaping down for the finish, he found himself halted in midair. A deep, frosty laugh emanated from the wreckage and a tall lean silhouette emerged from it, wreathed in ghostly white flames. He seized Abdel by the neck and squeezed.


"Это моя добыча. Отъебись!"

The young Sanguinaire, once predating on the captured paladin, was now his saviour. A massive swing was brought down upon him, enough to make him lose interest in his prey and simply drop him. Abdel was freefalling twenty metres down, bringing Khaliun to go for a last second save. Ymiico and Yuliya held their own, but Khaliun was busy rescuing her ally, and wasn’t ready for the Kinetic fist that plucked her out of midair. "If I break your back," the Sanguinaire wailed, hysterical with laughter, "will it even matter?" He drove her into the ground to act as a brake for Abdel.

It was now clear that this monster was not going to let another slip-up like with the Darhannic Fireblood occur again. And despite peak performances from Leander, Ymiico and Evander, they couldn't even scratch the shadowy figure. However, play time was about to meet its end.

Approaching them, at an impossible speed from the north, came a gargantuan energy. Those conscious enough reached for their temples, grimacing, staggering, and even retching into the dirt and the ruins. Even the Sanguinaire winced. But, after a moment, he smiled.

A great, toothy grin.

It had arrived within moments: a supernova of energy, burning and blinding. People had no choice but to flinch away, to shield themselves; they were compelled to. The Sanguinaire, busy making sport of biros, quickly found his smile fading and he snarled from beneath his cowl. Lips chapped and skin cracked. The water in the fountain and the lead coating on ruined roofs boiled away. So fantastic was the heat that timbers smouldered and fires flared spontaneously from nothing. Clearly audible was the hungry hiss and snap of the flames that wreathed the silhouette at the centre. It was a woman. Her presence was overwhelming - humbling - for, in it, night became day and demons turned to dust. She was the Sun.

“You will depart,” she commanded, “Or you will die.”

Velles 5th

Location: Torragonese Desert - The Dragon: Burdensome Beasts
Day of the week: Taldes
Time: 2:XX HS
Characters: Ayla @Ti, Desmond @Th3King0fChaos
Isabella @Pantothenic, Jocasta @Force and Fury, Marceline
Nazih @Ziegenkonig, Woren, Zarina, Zeinab, Diego

“Let’s get this party rolling!”

Wailed a cloth-covered tall teen before a duo of desert Halassa that didn’t seem to mind her presence. On board one, the male of the two, was Woren with proper precautions taken that Zarina would forgo at the start of the race: She wanted it all to feel natural, with all the risks, until the final line. Their strategies were well-established with the Hegelan, an educated high merchant that embraced new ideas, attentive to his teammate’s experiences with animals and the biome. The Virangish beastwhisperer was going to handle coordination of the animals and lead the way, while Woren’s massive RAS served as a means to defend themselves and attack adversaries.

“Ah, the swimmers have started.” she remarked as a distant trumpet announced the beginning of the Dragon. Zarina approached her own Halassa and rested a gentle hand over the beak. The stubborn but generally docile beast closed its eyes, looking appeased, “You look nice and ready, Zeinab. Hmmm? Yessss,” she began giving scritches just under the eye of the creature, where the skin was particularly dry, “and you too, Diego. You pretty boy.” she seized a thick piece of cheap porc from a bag on her back and tossed it over to the male Halassa who promptly lunged his neck toward the treat and engulfed it entirely in its beak, “You too, love.” Zeinab was giving expectant eyes to Zarina with her mouth parting a little big. She too got a treat before Zarina hopped onto her new steed.

The first leg didn’t last long, with the winning teams getting a head start. Zarina pouted, “C’moooon Jomurr you slow turd.” six seconds in and finally they could go. A light kick on the shell and they were off. Well, Zarina was but Woren struggled a little. Diego ended up following close behind Zeinab. They were not going as fast as they could, of course, but they were going at a steady pace which was more than could be said about the vast majority of others. There were some like Jocasta that simply rushed with sheer power, and those were hard to sabotage for Woren. As such, he focused more on keeping the manageable ones at bay with properly aimed stones near the eyes of the beasts to scare them while keeping guard.

A Froabas descended upon them! But they were ready. Woren’s immense capacity served them well as the dragon would be completely repulsed by a kinetic blast from a singular palm strike. Nonetheless, both Diego and Zeinab instinctively recoiled into their shells. Zarina had to act. “Hey, babies. The big bad’s gone!” she whispered to her Halassa, eventually calming it and then extended that same treatment to Diego after a quick dismount. After that experience, Woren opted to conjure blinders to better shield their eyes from distractions.

Next was a tunnel, although before they got there, Woren began to draw from the heat and form a steaming ball of ice that cooled the air around the duo and levitated over them, “Ah goh me an idea! ” he exclaimed as he brought cool air to them, but this white ball of fresh goodness also had the perk of emitting light as they entered the dark and spooky tunnel. The Halassa were not as disoriented as a result, although they were not particular fans of the claustrophobic nature of such an area either. It’d take a lot of convincing from Zarina to get them to move at a regular pace!

Both participants had agreed that the tunnel section was their best bet to find treasure, and it seemed Nazih had the same idea in a nearby tunnel, “‘Ey, Firraz!” she shouted in crude Avincian before addressing him in Inipori, “لا تريد فتاة المدينة أن تدعي النصر على الصحراء ، أليس كذلك؟” (You don't want a city girl to claim victory over the desert, do you?) she laughed loud enough for it to echo through the cave. Her minor taunting was cut off when something caught her eye, however, “Calmate.” she ordered the Halassa to take a break. Within a fissure on a stone wall, she caught the lightest glimpse of something reflecting light from the ball of frost. It was a chest! Albeit the passage was a bit too narrow to get there quickly. As such, Zarina left a piece of cloth on a nearby stone as a beacon before heading getting back to the race.

Woren had also spent some time searching, and his effort would only be rewarded at one of the secret exits of the cave, further East from the one most found, “Zez!” he called out for his partner, “This’n ouh key t’win!” indeed, they had lagged behind and the one she had previously taunted was quite a ways ahead. As such, she took this opportunity and had her Halassa pass the gold-coloured flag that signalled a “Major Boost”. Upon seizing the flag, the stone under Zeinab began to levitate, surrounded by strange runes, and began flying at great speeds through the track. Passing by a large cactus at the optimal altitude for the Virangish rider to simply pluck it out via telekinesis, “Weeeeee!”

Zeinab was thoroughly unimpressed.

Consequently, this boost would make the cliff climb somewhat trivial for Zarina and her mount, although Woren would still be left behind to deal with it himself. This was fine, though, as he had the abilities and RAS to break the obstacles. Plus, he had the PERFECT position once at the peak to begin harassing those that were contesting Zarina’s position in the first place. A lot of kinetic blasts to flip the tortoises and blood-created obstacles. Ayla in particular would meet a giant, sandstone wall before her Halassa, “Seng less gurl, quit makin’yer audience fall asleep!” Zarina burst into laughter even from where she was.

Jocasta’s struggle was a sight to behold, “Hey, Jo! Think fast!” a piece of meat was hurled near the Tethered’s uncooperative mount. It immediately went for the snack with no desire to comply with her demands, “What a cutie! I hope you gave it a nice name.” Zarina stuck her tongue out as she continued to proceed with Zeinab. She was indeed putting herself at risk with a little bit of tomfoolery with Jojo, but then there was Woren who definitely had her back with a monstrous RAS of his own.

Zarina wasn’t finished with her reign of terror, however. Next was Isabella and her duo of Halassa, with one breaking off and consequently slowing her down, although with the lead her team had she still contested the first spot. And so, a little bit of tortoise tipping was in order! The same went for Desmond, although as a more mobile individual, he wouldn’t be as impaired as a Tethered. And finally, there was Nazih. Zarina was consistently fighting with his mount for the head of the race, “قد تعرف الصحراء ، لكنني أفضل صديق لحلاسة!” (You may know the desert, but I'm a Halassa's best friend!) she grinned confidently before really pushing her Zeinab in those last fifty meters. The dragons up above were no issue with Woren’s sacrifice of positions for assistance. The big beasts were going full-speed with their big, clumsy legs.

“Yes yes yes yes yes yes …”

So close! This was going to be tight. But with all the preparations she had made with Zeinab and her abilities as an animal whisperer of sorts, Zarina pulled through just enough to gain a second on her fellow Darhannic, “YEAAAAAHHHHH!” she screeched, arms ripped out of her stony safeties to wave in the air. After a brief celebration on the shell, she hopped off her beast and rewarded it with a yummy treat. Before long Woren would arrive with a modest but decent standing.

“Good game, Mister Firraz.” she smiled and winked at Nazih’s direction. Her attention, after mellowing from her victory high, was on the animal she had stressed for this race. Many pets and scritches followed with little worry given to the next race. Augusto and Talkhan were going to do just fine. The Dragon was fun and all, but only one thing was on her mind after finishing the race: The Treasure in the Cave …

Next up: The Secrets of Zaqhoria! Witness Zarina and her friends discover the dark past of Zaqhoria lost deep within the sands of Torragon! What they will find will shock them for life. Coming soon …

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