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Interacting with: Olaf the Aged @Force and Fury
Opportunity: Everyone feels the earthquake. Feel free to say hello to waking up Arnaud!

Event: Defense of Relouse Location: The Beach

The storm raged, tugged by both sides of the conflict with the beach growing in occupation now that the traps had run their course and more Eskandr busied the forces to the point where Aheri had to forgo sentinel duties. War axe clenched tight in his right hand, he stood vigilant over the small peak that overlooked La Plage and considered his next play wisely, as distracting echoes from other fronts were keen on destabilising him. One in particular simply had the Northern man smirk behind his featureless mask, ”Le roi tombe, hein? Tombé sur son cul, oui! Ne laissez pas ces conneries vous séduire! En avant!*” he shouted at his men and those close enough to hear the executioner’s metallic voice.

Arnaud hurled his whole being forward, having since taken notice of the unnatural grove that bled from the Witch Wood. Regardless of what brought it, it was now being used against the Parrench, and thus was an enemy. The fodder was wise to not directly engage Arnaud- No amount of glory justified a swift and pointless end to the axe that could obliterate even the more heavily armoured in a single swing. Leave it to Olaf the Aged to handle these cases, as he did many times before. With a great stomp of his left foot, Aheri unleashed a focused blast of Force toward the mass of unnatural plant life, along with fissures to go with it, in the hopes to compromise the vined structure.

It dented the false forest, although it was far more resilient than Arnaud had initially thought. But the architect of this machination knew full well a few more concentrated strikes could end this peculiar endeavour– and so he attacked. A barrage of strange branches were sent toward Aheri– branches of a wood that very much defied the conventional. The executioner made the mistake of not realising this sooner, figuring a strong air blast from a swing of his axe would do, but he was wrong. Enough withstood the blast with their trajectory barely affected, hitting Arnaud at various points: The left armpit, the cheek and the hip, breaking some of his armour and revealing just a tad of his face, although one would mostly see his dark and greyed beard. Arnaud wasn’t bleeding quite yet, as his armour was endowed by the queen’s Boon. But at this rate, he would exhaust this blessing and rely only on his own power from here on out.

Olaf didn’t stop for a moment and went for his own wind strike. Aheri stands his ground, consolidating his stance to be immovable and with a mighty, lion-like warcry, prepared himself for the oncoming attack. But the elder Eskandr’s assault is far more powerful than he could have anticipated– The blast became far, far more powerful the moment it hit the ground before Aheri, prompting an explosion to completely destabilise the executioner! In this moment of weakness, the shaman capitalised with a closing of distance and tapped his wrinkled hand over Arnaud’s chest. A kneeling Aheri attempted to seize the older man’s wrist, but was too late to prevent his system from being exposed to soporific poisons. The attempt to catch Olaf was met with failure, as vines bound Arnaud’s being and the elder was allowed to retreat to safety.

The Royal Executioner feels his body waver, the poison already starting to have an effect. His size and inclination toward Essence magic delayed the effects relatively well, but Olaf’s poison was indeed potent. Arnaud knew he didn’t have much time before he would be rendered too weak, and so he charged with another war cry, but instead of swinging his axe, he performed a feint and instead stomped the ground when he was right before Olaf, who had been attempting to recover through syphoning energy via the plants. Surprised at first, Olaf’s eyes widen but he does not panic. With a strong exhale, he manages to downright deaden the air near him, preventing the kinetic blast from doing anything beyond serving as an annoying gust of wind passing by.

Left in complete disbelief, Arnaud pauses at the sight of Olaf’s raw power. He hesitated, and that was enough for Olaf to bind the axe wielder with vines and attempt to bury Aheri for good. The poison was making good work too, to the point where Arnaud seemed just about done.

Tomber, sans que mon adversaire ne connaisse mon nom? Foutaise!**


A great roar echoed throughout the Beach, and could be heard all over Relouse, some parts of the Witch Wood and very clearly for those that stayed near the Cape. A Lion’s roar, which ironically was probably unknown to most present in this conflict. What followed it was like thunder to lightning, a great earthquake that rumbled through the whole beach and the vibrations reached as far as the echoes of the scream. Aheri had slammed the pommel of his axe into the very ground that was ready to consume him, liberating him in the process and leaving the man with ceaseless steam that coated his being. His own sweat was cooking up!

”I, Arnaud Maobe, The Aheri, recognize you worthy foe. Old Eskand Warrior, will you give me your name?”

He says with quite the foreign accent. Olaf first speaks in his native tongue, something the executioner couldn’t understand, but he does honour the request with his own broken Avincian.

”Name. Old. Olaf.”

Arnaud nods. In spite of his clearly empowered state, the poison was still there and his threatening demeanour was thoroughly compromised. A shame he could not go at a strength worthy of such an opponent, but the Zuyr warrior embraced these circumstances of war. With battles continuing around them despite the grand quake, the executioner darts toward the enemy, faster and more devastating than ever, and readies a single axe swing to cleave through the coming projectiles from his equally reactive opponent. Once close, he readied another stomp, one that not only forced the sands and stone beneath to violently rise under Olaf, but was transformed through Essence magic to be as sturdy and impaling as possible. Unfortunately, Olaf was known for his manipulation of sand in particular and easily dissolves the transformed material, creating a cloud of sand in the air.

Aheri capitalises, but ends up outplayed by his opponent once more. Bound by vines through a deceitful counter by Olaf, the Eskandr sought to free the executioner from his tool of justice. The tug was strong, and Aheri’s strength was waning. Thinking it was the end, now that the big man had his mighty weapon taken, the shaman would be rightfully caught off guard by Aheri’s next manoeuvre: He simply abandons his axe and charges in, faster than ever from the lack of burden. Olaf reacts with a sprouting branch to uppercut the disarmed axeman, buying himself enough time to retreat, but Aheri doesn’t give up, even as his age and weight start to get to him along with the poison.

Confident after this swift dodge, the Eskandr taunted the Parrench warrior, ”You no good fight. Weak! Hahaha!” then he drew his own weapon, a typical sword of his people, and went to attempt a Coup de Grâce. Arnaud, too angry and battle charged to die, parries with his silver gauntlets and pushes back with enough force to destabilise the geriatric foe. Olaf stumbles, his own age also affecting his performance, and stares in rightful fear of what’s to come next.

The Parrench crouched before the recuperating Eskandr– to get at his level– and readied his right arm behind him, winding it up with a couple of spins. His left hand rested over his shoulder, keeping his posture steady as he focused on that one, decisive move. It all seemed slow, especially for such a fast paced battle, but it was all calculated, just enough to make for a devastating attack with the window Olaf had given. And then he struck, as fast as a snake thrusting its fangs onto its prey, in an attempt to lay that massive hand onto Olaf’s chest. The shaman knew he wouldn’t have a torso if this was allowed to hit.

With every bit of energy running through his being, Olaf propelled himself back whilst sacrificing a large amount of vines in the process. Aheri’s strike was so that the simple act of his palms and fingers grazing the side and shoulder of the elder caused bones to break: Shoulder and rib. If anything, Arnaud had succeeded in getting this veteran out of the picture for a while, even if it wasn’t through death, as these injuries were certainly dangerous, especially at that age.

In a cold stare, Olaf silently took back the taunting words. Having flirted with death so closely, far closer that an elder of war like him was used to, given his survival thus far, he knew it unwise to call Arnaud weak. Before Aheri can pursue and put an end to a now very wounded Olaf, he begins to lose control of his legs.

”Merde.” he cursed, now on one knee. He could barely see straight, and his armour was weighing far more on him than normal. Before long, he fell unconscious, in the middle of the battlefield, although was conscious just long enough to fall on his back, ”Next time,” calls the shaman, staggering away, ”We play again, big man. Next time, I no play with me food.” Arnaud heard it all, the last words he would hear before blacking out.

One of the most powerful warriors in Parrench was now ripe for the taking. If it weren’t for his squadron arriving on time, now missing two bodies from the initial six, Arnaud would have been a free claim to glory. Although perhaps the fact that Olaf didn’t finish him off was potentially enough of a warning to the lesser that it wasn’t wise to pursue the issue. Regardless, with Olaf out of commission, the Beach was just a tad safer. Safe enough for Aheri’s faithful men to drag him back into Parrench lines for recovery.

Interacting with: Abdel
Location: Tethered Refuge - Stables and Lounge

They made it back mostly intact. Well, except for two guards and half the camels. But the survivors weren’t particularly injured or distressed beyond Jocasta’s exertion from what Zarina could tell. The Virangish took it upon herself to tend to the animals once they had returned to one of the stables, making sure none were hurt and removing the load they were carrying while ensuring they were with food and water. On the side were multiple Tethered children curiously watching– a familiar sight to their first night here, although with less energy. Spirits weren’t as high.

Ayla went on to meet with Laella, and Zarina took notice of the same pre-teen boy that had approached her the other day. She recalled his name to be Abdel and wasn’t exactly appreciated by some of the staff. She gave him a knowing glance but didn’t do anything beyond manifesting her acknowledgement of his presence. The camels were first– they had done a lot of work– and he could wait a little bit.

He did take a step forward, potentially a little shy to take the initiative with such a tall and good looking girl, ”Are you a stable girl?” he asked somewhat sheepishly which prompted Zarina to raise an eyebrow while peering at his direction, ”Do I look like one?” she replied with a loaded question and a focused gaze that could be mistaken for a glare. She didn’t look particularly classy at this moment, being covered in bloodstains and sand, one could confuse her for just about anything. Abdel was wise to fumble with his words and not give an answer, ”Pass me the brush, Abdel.” the imaginary crisis had been averted, her eyes returned to the animal before her and her hand extended out in wait. Abdel smiled– she remembered his name.

With the brush in hand, the Virangish girl went on to clean some of the stains on the beast ridden by Jocasta and Marceline. There was an awkward silence– Abdel didn’t dare interrupt her, not when she looked as bloodied as she did. It didn’t take long, and soon she would be at his disposal, standing straight before the younger teenager with a hand on her hip and the opposite arm rested along her side, ”So, what’s u-” she paused, shifting her eyes from side to side, recalling that the walls did indeed have ears. She spoke in her mother tongue, instead, ”Did you need anything, Abdel?” she asked calmly, gaze peered downward and kept soft to not overwhelm the kid or make him feel scrutinised, ”I wanted to-” he reached for the same satchel he had the previous night, and Zarina cut him off when he made his intention clear, ”Yeah, that. Pass it here.” she stepped closer to him, shielding the item from the view of any potential onlooker.

The medallion was placed into her gesturing hand by a somewhat surprised Abdel and she looked into it. She had memorised the seal, but it was good to get some confirmation that one’s memory served well. Her thumb brushed over the symbol as she got quiet, feigning reflection even though she already had an answer, ”Okay.” she says in Avincian this one time. From this close, Abdel could definitely feel the not-so-pleasant odours of dried blood, sweat and dirt all mixed together, and yet he could also distinguish the unique lavender aroma that almost seemed natural to her, ”I know where this comes from.” she plainly answers, sliding the item back in the small bag for Abdel quickly enough before they’d get any unwanted attention, ”And I’ll tell you. In exchange for something.” she smirked.

Abdel squinted, rightfully suspicious of this proposition and teetering close to the same look of defiance he had given to one of the Refuge’s staff, ”... It’s just soap. And a book for the night. The nights here suck and I want something nice.” she relented on the teasing and just cut to the chase with what was a fairly simple ask to a resident like Abdel, ”O-oh. Yeah, I can do that.” Zarina interjects quickly, ”And a place to sit real quick. Saddles destroy ass, I tell you.” the kid couldn’t help but snort at that comment and nodded in agreement. A spark of hope lit up in his eyes and he got to work. Zarina almost felt bad for making him move with that cane of his, but then she realised he would use the gift to get most of the job done.

A nearby couch in a lounge was chosen for Zarina’s little break while Abdel made his way to the library to handpick a book himself. The gift was used to nab one of the better soaps used by the staffers, a soap that would fit nicely with the subtle smell he caught from Zarina’s figure. When the ingredients were gathered, the goods were offered, ”Shit, you’re fast.” Abdel grins, and even blushes a tad at the compliment from the clearly pleased older girl. She first smells the block of soap and happily fits it into her bag she dropped by the couch, ”The Marvellous Vagabond, Don Canas del Molino.” she read, a Torragonese book by the looks of it and quite a popular one, ”Fast, efficient and an intellectual~” she winked at the lad, adding fuel to the fire within as his heart beat a little faster, ”Thanks.”

She tapped by her, inviting the Tethered boy to join her. He sat normally, letting his cane lean against the couch’s arm and rested his hands over his knees, ”Are you … Happy?” Zarina was letting her side lean against the backrest, elbow just over it and supporting her cheek. Her golden gaze was fixed right on him as she stayed silent for a brief moment, ”Very.” she answers plainly, taking mild amusement at the subtle reactions that came from the poor boy. It was cute, ”And I’m a lady of my word.” she peers downward and muses for a moment. Abdel’s legs grow increasingly restless– he is eager to know the answer to what’s been working his mind for so long. As long as he can remember, actually.

”Every year I see that emblem. One of four, I think, that lead the pilgrimage to Inipor for the Annual Festival.” her features soften, her gaze vaguely directed toward the boy, ”House Bukhari. Imam Buhkari is particularly known in Northern Virang. I’ve attended a couple of his prayers.” she exhales from her nose while Abdel listens with great attention, ”Well-known? My family is … Important? Is he my dad?” clearly excited to get some answers, Zarina didn’t quite share that enthusiasm, ”I’d say they’re important. I don’t know if he’s your dad.” it looked as though there was more she wanted to say, but she kept it to herself.

Abdel had taken the medallion back out and stared right at it, clutching it close. For a moment he seemed happy, but as this newfound discovery mellowed in his mind, the unjust reality of it all hit the young teen’s sensitive mind. He started to clench the item, a squeeze tight enough to nearly break it. Zarina could feel it– his frustration and disappointment, ”And they were ashamed of me.” he said in a mumble. Zarina pursed her lips, knowing full well the signs of growing rage, and reached her hand out to his shoulder, ”They’re assholes.” she says with the driest of tones, ”They preach about you, y’know? The Tethered. How your bodies are bound to an endless dream.” she squeezed on his shoulder, and in turn his own grip on the medallion loosened.

”But that’s not enough to be accepted, is it?” he aggressively retorts, his eyes burning with an anger he had likely bottled up for a long time, but couldn’t quite articulate it nor have a direction to hurl it toward. Zarina exhales from her nose and keeps her body language open, letting her hand slide down his arm and just gently rest over his hand, ”They’re no different than anyone else, important or not.” she replies, eyes locked into the teen boy’s, ”Do you want to meet them?” she asked, but before he could answer out of emotion after hesitation, they’d be notified of the meeting at Amanda’s room, ”Raincheck,” she stands and uses her hand over his to help him up, ”don’t get too pissy over this. Most parents are total fucking assholes. Focus on getting through the next few days, then we’ll see what you feel and what you want, yeah?” she gives him a final expectant stare which he responds with a nod. He clearly was still distressed by this inevitable truth, and he likely knew it deep down, but now it was given form– a name.

Interacting with: @Dao Ma Maerec @Pirouette Camille - Any Parrence Aligned at the Beach! - Any Eskandish wanting to take on the Big Guy.
Opportunity: Arnaud is leading the defence of the Beach and using a squad of Force Mages to blast away the Mist and obliterate ships with waves of force. Anybody is welcome to attack or help!

Event: Defense of Relouse Location: La Plage

The Silence before the storm– A storm he was keen on ushering in himself. Many were already praying before the horizon was littered with the enemy, high and low-borns alike. Aheri never wasted his energy on such things, not from a standpoint of superiority, but rather he would never consider the possibility of falling to battle. And should he meet his match, the euphoria would be immense and the clash grand enough to shake the five moons themselves. The featureless, armoured executioner who bore the title many more noble than him spent a lifetime to earn stood tall at the top of a stoney hill bordering the sandy beach and the green lands surrounding Relouse. With him were a recently arrived troupe of men and women, all clad in an armour similar to his barring the lion symbol and the extra decorative touches. They were the few of his people that followed him, and all bore the gift of Force with them.

One that stood out was none other than one of those that did earn his title. Maerec de Solenne, a man Aheri would have remarked on how ‘pretty’ he looked, just like Asier, had it not been for his scars. They had never formally met beyond crossing eyes on various occasions in the King’s court. The stoic Arnaud stood at the peak of the small hill, just barely turning his head to acknowledge the younger man, ”Oui. On m’a informé de ton arrivée*. I’m all ears.” he mixed his Parrench and Avincian in a cocktail of accents that were honestly quite difficult to makeout for those uninitiated, and many rarely dared to make him repeat, if only due to his size and a lack of facial features to gauge his metallic tone, slightly muffled by his helm.

Maerec proposed a plan that coincided nicely with Arnaud’s own standards. To sabotage the enemy through drainage of Force energy, and feed it to Arnaud and his squad of mages to retaliate full-force. An interesting position to have as a Knight, being a full-on support, as most had the tendency to simply want to prove their worth. Many of which would attempt and fail in the coming Cap battle. Perhaps Maerec’s wisdom would be what keeps him alive through the coming ordeal. The Blood mages and the Yasoi female were preparing the beach, some of which were specifically designed by Arnaud. The sands at the extremes of the beach were made into quicksand, similar to the many he had encountered in his treks in the West to claim the land that would one day be Virang. Most fodder and weaker mages were essentially doomed without a plan to handle them, and how often did the Eskandr ever raid the deserted lands of the North and West? The only safe landing area was at the centre, where troops were already positioned, and the shoring ships would be funnelled into.

”Dame Camille de la Saumure.” he called out in the ranks, ”Come.” the massive figure extended his hand out and gestured his fingers for her to come. From her position she likely only saw his back, and would only find a fully-armoured giant the closer she got with no distinguishable human features, ”Quand ils mettront les pieds sur la terre sacrée de Parrence, je peux compter sur ta volontée? Ainsi de m’aider avec tes paroles divines?**” he turns his head ever so slowly to look into her direction, gauging the youngling’s reaction and resolve. Such a young Knightess, so clearly out of her depth. It reminded Arnaud of his own youth. Thrust into battle as a prodigy, and perhaps she too would become a war-bound hound like he did.

Here they were. The Southern Armada. An army bigger than anything Aheri had ever seen, whether it was in Rettan or Belzagg, he had never seen such a fleet in one place with this level of coordination. It was impressive, but nothing that would make the metal-clad executioner flinch. He stood firm in place, stalwart to the cause he had taken and unmoving in his resolve. He brandished his axe from over his shoulder and roughly slammed the pommel over the stone below him, causing a mighty thud to reverberate throughout the Parrench lines and the lines of sand they had carefully prepared for the occasion. It was a signal: The enemy was here, and they had to step up.

Archers and ranged mages went first, blasting away at one another. Lightning strikes from a considerably powerful Thunder mage terrified the many, even some of Arnaud’s close men, but he didn’t budge. Should he be struck, his own accumulated Force energy was enough to repulse a stray bolt, and he could perhaps even draw from it to return the favour to the source. But then came the Mist and the visible destruction of Redane from even Arnaud’s position. Something had happened, something that would have made a younger Zuyr king rush into battle, but he knew better now. Only by holding his position would they have a chance, and he made sure neither his men, nor Maerec, nor even the young little Camille would seize the misguided initiative.

”Trickery already, eh? Very well.” he chuckled while clenching the metal bar that held his weapon together.

Dark clouds began to form above them. A bad omen or maybe a signal? In any case, as the battle commenced and longboats began to make land, the experienced warriors on the beach would not be the only ones to notice a major discrepancy. Arnaud could feel it ever since the mist came about, but now that he could witness the Eskandish tactic unravel, he wordlessly raised his poleaxe, holding it as close to the pommel as he could. He swung it in a circular manner over his head, prompting a considerable amount of air to unleash from the motion. And then another, with the accumulated air getting bigger and bigger. Aheri’s men began to draw from that very air while simultaneously slowing the enemy on the beach with similar forms of drawing with Maerec spearheading the endeavour. With more and more gusts of air concentrating over Aheri and his men adding to it and ‘containing’ it in a small area, it was becoming more apparent that his goal was to conjure up a small storm– a very localised hurricane to not only attempt to dispel the mist with violent winds, but also focus enough of it to unleash a devastating blast to the fleet.

Projectiles were beginning to lose efficiency on both ends, as the winds became more violent in the Beach area, while those in Relose and the Cape were definitely feeling powerful drafts coming their way. Arnaud had no issue continuously drawing and unleashing more Force via his axe’s movement. And when it was time, his second hand came to hold his poleaxe as well. The massive weapon, readied and now still with a great concentrate of energy and air held together by his men and Maerec right above it, was to descend down the same manner he had always done to exact the King’s Justice. He purposely aimed it toward a ‘trapped’ area of the Beach, aiming slightly to the direction of the Cape where there had been a confirmed assault already. The blast was massive, more than what a Third Wheel could normally unleash. Although he was not only a Leadvein, but it was a group effort too. A straight, vertical wave of pure force blasted through the sands and waters alike, unleashing a horizontal shockwave in its wake akin to multiple explosions occurring in that one slash.

Any boat in the way would likely be obliterated, those just shy of the main blast would be propelled so harshly, survival was unlikely, and those far enough to survive but feel the full might of the shockwave would capsize and be devoured by the ocean’s waves prompted from the mighty attack. With that, Aheri banked that the blast would be enough to dispel the mist, if only temporarily, and get proper sight of the Eskandish machinations. The blast went as far as about 200 metres, matching many other mage attacks, although the shockwave extended much farther (albeit losing its lethality beyond a 15 metre distance from the epicentre).

The conjured mini-storm had made communication difficult for that brief moment, and would only be now that word would come to Arnaud regarding the Cape and the Witchwood, ”Hold. Your. Post.” he called out for all those nearby to hear. Without an order from the King, or a high ranking official, it was foolish to expect anything good from questioning authority and battle strategies now, ”If Le Lion needs help, he can come and get it.” he bellowed out as he raised his weapon once more, going for another round of storm conjuring with his battle-induced laughter of excitement muffled by the gusts of wind surrounding him. So long as Arnaud remained at the top with his support, safeguarding La Plage, the divided Eskandish had little chance of breaking through the middle by brute force. Not without a proper mage to take charge.

Interacting with: Yalen @pantothenic, Jocasta & Escarra @Force and Fury, Ayla @Ti, Kaspar @Wolfieh, Ysilla @Pirouette
Location: Torragonese Desert

With Ysilla gone, Zarina could return to caring for the beasts she thought would be their trusted steeds for the next venture in the desert. The sunrays from the window Hoopoe had come from had since thinned, indicating the sun had moved a bit since she had last checked. It was nearly time, and hopefully the staff had the steed ready for them in the next minutes or so. A few more things were packed, notably her two blades and a second gourd containing a nice mix of the refuge’s coffee and the goat milk that had been freshly taken from the livestock. A Café au Lait. Finally, a very brief morning prayer– it wasn’t too unusual to get it done quickly, as few were morning people, and they were not in a place of worship. When Zarina walked out to meet the party, it would not be the guards and the head of the expedition that took her attention, but the animals.

”Camels. Huh.”

She remarked, eyeing one of them that she would claim as her’s, ”Then a long journey is to be expected?” she inquired out loud, to see which one of the three unknowns would step up and present potential plans. It would likely be Escarra in this case, a man that definitely looked the part of a veteran desert ranger. All the while, she slid her hand over the snout of the tall breast, immediately letting the relatively young but strong male take a good sniff of her scent and grow used to her touch. Similar to a horse, it seemed to be more intrigued to see if there was food in her palm, flapping its lips a little over it before returning to its docile state, looking around and awaiting its rider’s orders, ”What’s your name, handsome guy, hmmm?” the camel’s neck got a couple of pats before she walked to the side and eventually hopped onto its back between the humps. Clearly she had rode one before, ”Daoud. That’s your name, okay?”

The caravan was to set off, and Zarina’s experience as a horse rider made it easy for her to adapt and steer the camel to her liking, although she abstained from pushing it before a calm pace. It was also a habit of her’s to keep to the back, especially with inexperienced troop members and supply animals, ”That’s right, Yalen. Nice ‘n’ steady.” she called out to the young priest with a grin, ”Hold the reins tight, but don’t pull unless you wanna stop, yeah?” it looks like she had regained some vigour after spending some ‘alone’ time.

Their first hurdle: The Halassa. Well, as much of a hurdle as they were the previous night. Zarina was ready to act, but the squad leader had his way of dealing with it. A method she approved of quite a bit and took note of the means to efficiently scare off these big beasts. But the real jump in adrenaline came with a Rhinodon of all things charging right for them. Why? It was anybody’s guess, but one would suspect it could be from invading some territory if it wasn’t madness. Without any comment on it being the latter, she started to manoeuvre her camel to steer clear of any path the angered beast would take. The fact that some of her peers were not too experienced with riding, however, prompted her to step up in this mini-crisis.

”Hey!” she called out, tapping the sides of Daoud with the soles of her boots to prompt a trop and maybe even a canter if it came to it. The Virangish girl even whistled to get the Rhino’s attention, but it seemed tunnel visioned. It didn’t help that riding a camel at such speeds for the first time stressed Zarina a tad, but she did her best to at least help her teammates not get run over by the bulky creature. Luckily, or maybe the contrary, a storm seemed to hit them minutes after this issue had occurred. A wall of sand was coming onto them, and it was enough to have the horned animal to cease its assault and seek safety. The group did the same in a mountain of sorts, taking refuge until it subsided just moments later. No casualties so far.

When they emerged, an interesting sight came about from the residue of the storm: Ruins! Architecture Zarina didn’t recognize, although she did not think too much of it either. What took priority in her mind was a little break to eat and drink with plenty of shading to be had in these forgotten stone buildings. The animals were parked and given some feed, with Zarina lagging behind to ensure all was good with Daoud.

They were back on the hot sands, marching forward to a destination she could not see. The break was soothing, if not jam-packed with conflicting feelings that plagued Zarina’s restless mind. The fact that she still hadn’t gotten some shut-eye was weighing on her, even if her mood was kept in check with other positive stimuli. The more her mind got hazy, the more the unsettling thoughts came to be.

Jocasta …

The ‘On Two’ Tethered of the group. A mysterious one that had so far merely been a light risk of emotional breakdown, but now a whole new angle was provided. Zarina kept at the back and could have a good look at everyone, and she narrowed her eyes onto the blonde first. What was it she had planned? How did she have a rapport with Marci? Why did she not just come clean with her origins? The more she thought about it, the more she started to piece things together. Slowly. Before any conclusions could be made, her weakened mind ended up focusing elsewhere …

Marci …

The young teen she had reconciled with, and in turn was let in on some insight that made Zarina’s head spin. She wanted to help Marceline. Help the one willing to fight for what’s her’s to get what she’s owed. It was almost a sort of honour thing, to the point that it drew from Zarina’s indignation and emotional nature and led her down this rabbithole of revolution. Would she partake in this potentially disastrous ‘revolution’ to help a friend? Or is she just way over her head? She blinked a few times, having nearly fallen asleep on her camel.

Yalen …

Did they all know each other? Was this some sort of coordinated thing and Hugo was the mastermind? Or was he fooled too? After all, two Tethered pupils attending this mission was objectively a boon. He did not look well at all this morning, even worse than Zarina herself. Had he been involved in something as well? Or was it one of those nightmares her sister had brought up? So many questions, and the Virangish insomniac would get little from them in her current state. Although with the way he killed those Halassa, Zarina was not going to bank on some Quentic pacifism to hold this one back.

Kaspar, Ayla …

Two with family names that mattered. One from this very land, one from another where potential ‘Clovers’ like Marci could be sold to. What would disrupting a factory of Mage Snipers potentially do to their reputations? Would they go with it, and maybe risk their families’ wellbeing? There were many patients in that Refuge, many children. But how many depended on these families too? Would a two or three hundred ailing youths be worth the many impacted by the harming of big names? The thought was nauseating, when Zarina realised how complex things could get with stopping something so clearly ‘wrong’ in many ways.

Ysilla …

And finally her own sister. Her own blood. What applied to the two previous applied to her own family. In a sense, her mother was likely not to ever falter over petty geopolitical cabals, but to bring shame to her family’s name, and subsequently harm her very blood was a frightening prospect indeed. It was all mentally taxing, to the point where she just let go, and slumped over the first hump, and entered a micro-sleep. Luckily the camel was content with just following the herd, letting the rider get a bit of rest. No dreams would be had, thankfully.

And then suddenly, she woke up to growing tremors in the sand and stone. They were getting close to the aberration. The Tethered trio could sense it. But it would obviously not be made easy. Another Wyrm came into play, or maybe it was the same one as before? It really did not matter, they just had to leave. Rushing toward safety, the animals were clearly spooked by the ordeal, but Escarra could lead the flock away just in time while Zarina took notice of the one supply camel panicking. Pumped with adrenaline and refusing to lose a precious source of goods, she went into a full-on gallop with Daoud to retrieve the panicked beast, seizing its broken rope and calling out to it. It actually calmed down once tugged and heard the calls of the girl despite the chaos going around it.

Successful in her rescue, she kept the camel bound to her own and quickly joined the party before she ended up Wyrm chow. They were safe … Until one crisis ushered in another. A meat feast had awakened within the canyon, and the predators were now all on high alert. Forabasses, a lot of them, first picking off the easy targets, but then taking interest in the party. Coming in waves, the clouds of pseudo-dragons began to pick off their group, ”Hug the wall!” she called out, employing some of her Kinetic magic to push the supply camel to safety and close to her own.

The Froabasses were limited, for a time, but they would end up winning. First was one of the guards, and the scene unfolding before her eyes had Zarina’s heartbeat at a headache-inducing pace. She was clearly scared, but not helpless. One hand drew a sword, and the other picked up some knives she had brought along for the trip. The guard was already long ago, taken by the carnivorous beasts, but the second was about to be devoured right before them. As he was being ripped apart, she instinctively hurled her blade toward his head. She missed, hitting the throat instead. Her attempt to end his life painlessly before the gruesome end had only partially failed, as he would likely not feel much after losing most of his blood in a few seconds. Still, she whimpered at the sight, but didn’t give up. A few camels were taken too, and while her aim wasn’t the greatest, she did her best to pierce their skulls and end it quickly, until it was her turn to be greeted by the predators.

”Fuck it.” if it was going to be the end, she would go down with a fight. Both blades were drawn and she hopped off Daoud, keeping the terrified beast behind her as she began to swing at the monsters while shouting at them. And when she was in the right state to just go all out, her mind serene and committed, one of the creatures downright attacked another and served as a shield for Zarina and those near her. This bizarre turn of events had her completely stunned, ”What the …” her body felt cooler than normal, and she couldn’t shake off the sensation that the moment she felt that coldness, the beast felt it too and acted accordingly, somehow.

The group attacking them retreated after this strange occurrence. They were not safe, but a moment of respite was generously given to them. Enough time for Zarina to actually approach the draconic being and slowly attempt to rest her hand on its tail. Any thoughts of her actually connecting with the beast immediately vanished as it reacted with a slap to her core with the tail. Not breaking anything, but she would get a bruise. It growled at her, seeming ready to attack, but then just flew off with the flock.

That same flock was going to come back to them. At least two dozen massive flying beasts, and they had to chance. Zarina took this time to peer over at her sister and Ayla. Then at Marceline. She frowned melancholically, but only briefly. Inhaling strongly, she raised both her blades and stared down the coming swarm with defiant eyes. She screamed a powerful warcry, bracing herself for the worst and standing between the attackers and those she cared for most. She would not die today, however.

A massive draw was taking place. One that even the Froabasses were sensing and halted their attack over. All this energy– it converged toward one person: Jocasta. The intense power was enough to have Zarina kneel and stare in awe. She had only seen one person display such power before, and even then this seemed exceptional by that standard too. The thought of inevitable death was superseded by a fear of the unknown. What could possibly come of such a concentration of power? And then she felt a familiar feeling. The same that came from solving that first riddle in the tower, and when the Paradigm opened a tear in space and time. The Froabasses were then all gone. Poof. Like they weren’t there in the first place, along with their meals.

It took a moment for Zarina to fully grasp what was going on, her eyes shifting about to see if anything else had changed. And then Jocasta explained. The threat was gone, taken somewhere else via a magic that few knew. It didn’t hit the Virangish teen right away what all of this could imply. No, she was first and foremost thankful to Vashdal that this did not turn into the nightmare it could easily have been. Her hand reached for her pendant, her thumb tracing the lines upon it. She had so nearly died, and yet here she was. It did not stop a creeping bad feeling to take root at the back of her mind, however.

[Ending is at Ayla's post above!]

Interacting with: Yalen @pantothenic, Jocasta, Marceline and Tavio @Force and Fury, Ayla @Ti, Kaspar @Wolfieh
Event: The Deserted Location: The Refuge

Zarina gave an appreciative nod to both Marceline and Jocasta before heading into her temporary quarters. She really wanted that bath, and it would be the first thing she hopped into without even familiarising herself with the foreign room. Her sweat and sand covered skin appreciated the warm, pore-opening water. A good half-hour was spent in it, until it eventually entered lukewarm territory and the Virangish could only bear so long with only her thoughts and nothing else. She smelled of oranges, a flavour that was quite common in this Refuge, it seemed.

They had a big day tomorrow and there was little chance of sleep. Still, Zarina clung onto a modicum of hope. Dried and fitted with a fresh set of common, dark clothing provided by the establishment, she had set her pendant over the nightstand by her bed, improvised a carpet with the spare towel and got on her knees before the stand. The third and final prayer of the day- even if it was probably the start of a new one. Hands over her thighs and head lowered, with her hair modestly tied to not hide her face, she started off silent before reciting it in Inipori.

”Dreamer, the one and only above all.”

Thoughts of home and the Al-Nader estate flooded her mind. Her mother, in particular, and the affairs she had to leave behind.

”I embrace the three envoys of the one great Vashdal.”

Yalen came to mind, and her assumptions toward his person. A cleric in a group with at least on Hexaic, and her mind immediately drifted into suspicion. A cruel and unjust thought, unworthy of the dreamer. Unworthy of a kind man either.

”Let us dream. Let us dream. Let us dream.”

Then came Ayla, along with her sister. Envy reigned supreme in Zarina’s heart, for many reasons. A jealousy unfitting for people she loved. It was so hard. She paused, but the prayer had to continue.

”Until we see you, Great Vashdal, freed of …”

The first thought went to Kaspar, the one she began to admire. The serenity of that young man and his way to talking, it made Zarina think of just how bad things had gotten with her. But then, as the prayer ended, her thoughts drifted toward Jocasta- toward the one she was the most concerned over.

A nightmare.

”A nightmare.”

Cold sweats mixed with the humidity of her hair, making for an uncomfortable coldness throughout her upper body. Something felt off, to the point where she forgot to finalise her prayer. There was nothing, in truth, and yet that last thought caused her to just stop for a good moment. She did end up finishing the last lines and bowing to finish the ritual, and complete the final prayer of the day.

Sleep was not an option, not in such an unfamiliar place and with so many things running in her head. Zarina was going to have to kill time while keeping her mind busy. Grabbing a chair from her quarters and opting to step out, she placed herself by a nearby corner where her field of view covered all the rooms of colleagues who were resting in. She had brought along a weathered knife from her limited belongings and a piece of wood, about the side of her palm as well. A work-in-progress it looked like, given she brought it along with her weaponry and bag, that she carved into something. It was at the beginning stage with nothing particularly intriguing about it. A mere slab.

Her work was interrupted by a little lion seeking out the tethered girl of their group. Zarina watched, silently, and let her find out if Jocasta was awake or not.

[See Collab Post in Ti’s Response!]

Zarina was likely the first to be awake, given she hardly slept. If one could even call these micro-naps sleep. When the smell of pastries and warm drinks captured her flair and activity began to accumulate in the Refuge, she left her post and got a head-start on the others. Coffee was inevitable and she served herself with a reasonable amount. She may be an addict, but she didn’t consume in excess, or at least not in one sitting. She took this time to find a nice, comfortable spot where she could admire the rising of the sun and indulge in the fresh, morning air of the arid desert, the sweet spot between the frigid coldness of the night and the scorching air of the day. How she missed her horse and the days she rode through these very dry lands.

Worked up, tired and with a killer headache, Zarina passed both Ayla and Marceline to reach the sanctity of her mostly unused quarters. A brief breathing exercise and some water helped with the head, but as she composed herself, the all-too-common realisation of the fruit of her impulse made her slip. A weighted punch was thrown toward the wooden edge of her bed frame, causing it to crack and her knuckles to suffer some light damage. Heavy breathing became light hyperventilating- nothing she couldn’t control, but it did not help the case of her increasingly pained head.

”Fuck.” she cursed with as much restraint as she could muster before turning her head to the pendant she had left on the nightstand the whole time. It was time to pray, but how could she? So much anger, so much regret that bred even more anger. Again, she had to keep her mind distracted. Food, water, knives, rope, everything one would need for basic survival in the desert, just as she was taught by her papy, were accumulated and put into different bags provided by the Refuge. Most of all: Cloaks, adapted for the climate and made to protect from potential storms. If they had ranger getups available, then all the better, Zarina was all over them. She was almost ‘zoned out’, completely separated from all those that passed by her and tunnel-visioned on completing this rudimentary task. At least the group would be somewhat prepared this time.

And finally, she made a trip to the stables, to see if they had any mount capable of helping those limited like Yalen or even Kaspar. If anything, she would take one for herself too, even if the Gift allowed her to effectively navigate faster without one.

Interacting with: King Arcel@Force and Fury Asier @Ti
Opportunity: Parrench-aligned Players - Potential travellers that have seen what Arnaud left in his travel to Relouse

Event: Defense of Relouse Location: Provincial Parrence

”Another! Another!”

The tavern of St. Jérôme-des-Voyons was bustling with joy. What was initially a grim arrival of the notorious royal executioner quickly turned into a fiesta overflowing with mead and women. Arnaud’s unique appearance to the Parrench did little to deter them from enjoying the evening– If anything, it got people even more interested in hearing what he had to tell. Some touched his hair, others tapped his belly (mostly women) and even some tried their luck in taking him in brutish games such as arm wrestling. They would all know defeat in the case of the latter. But the party went on, ending with once Zuyr King leaving at first daylight from a warm and populated bed.

Aheri had been making the voyage to Relouse on his lonesome, as he often did. Riding was nauseating and company tended to hamper his desires for exploration and hedonism. He moved on foot, at his own pace. Some days he would traverse miles without any effort under an hour, some others he kept a slow pace to just enjoy the beautiful day in the pastures of Parrence. Highwaymen and other bandits never dared to get in his way, for all knew what the Lion emblem and the featureless helm represented. Arnaud Maobe was the executioner because there was nothing he couldn’t slay.

What a curse it was. Little adversaries these day, no stupid kid to try his luck against the Aheri. He felt himself getting old, even with war on the horizon. Many will be after his life, a thrilling prospect to be sure, but he would no longer be the lord that presided over the battlefield, instead a tempest to wipe out the enemy of the one standing above him. It was as if the five Gods had heard him, as the dire state of Bérignac came to his attention. A lot of smoke coming from a nearby farming village. As a royal enforcer and anointed Knight, it was his duty to aid the people of Parrence, after all.

Had the five heard his plea? It was a raid from thieves. Petty pillagers taking advantage of the recalled soldiers that were being mobilised by the King. Arnaud, with his partially cleaned axe over her shoulder, calmly made his way into town. They were nine and the village’s men were either killed or crippled. Perfect. The hulking beast of a man stood quietly at the edge of town, staring down the gang, both hands wielding his axe.

”*Dites vos prières.” he took a singular step forward, his helm distorting his voice somewhat, ”Tenez près vos precieux souvenirs.” then a second step, the wrongdoers were sweating profusely, shouting various obscenities that fell in deaf ears, ”Et mourrez comme des hommes!” and then he lept in the air. The sun blurred his figure, and before they could see anything, his swirling axe landed onto not one, but two of them. One was essentially sliced in half by the blade, the other terminally wounded by the metal pole that collided with his torso.

Then he landed by his axe just as it hit the ground, obliterating a female of the group with his feet and pulling his weapon out. The simple act of whipping it out created a blast of air that’d pin two others against a stone wall. They were helpless to being cut down by a single swing of his axe. Only four left. One begged for mercy, and was met with the King’s justice. The penalty for thievery didn’t always entail death, but murder was on the table, even if this one didn’t directly do it. He was granted a swift decapitation. The last three built up the courage to fight, and behind his mask Aheri smiled. They stood no chance and were judged like all the others.

When the deed was done, Arnaud didn’t stay to help the villagers. He didn’t say another word. He merely cleaned his axe with one of his rags and then departed back on his journey to Relouse. His duty was fulfilled, the King’s Justice was delivered and peace returned to the people. Now they needed to fight to reclaim what was lost by the will of the Gods.

Location: Relouse Encampment

When Arnaud arrived at the camp, things had already been set in motion. Not everything was set up just yet, but enough was done to avoid having to need his assistance for anything. He knew what he had to do, though, as he would be one of those spearheading the defensive manoeuvres and counter-attacks against the Eskandish menace. From his own experience as a Northern raider and the suffering Parrence had previously experienced from attacks from the South, Arnaud understood how to prepare a battlefield.

The sand dunes of the beaches were to be turned into death traps. Unstable patches of quicksand that would swallow up fodder with precious seismic strikes from his stomps or axe. Some holes would be tombs for enemies, some others basins separated from the sea where Thunder mages could quickly cook entire groups in a matter of seconds. And of course Arnaud himself found the best vantage point he could find to not only send concentrated Force waves onto incoming ships, but also create gusts of winds to slow and halt the downpour of arrows.

With most of the setup involving his own abilities ready, it was time for Arnaud to attend the King’s speech, although not before sniffing out a certain misfit old feline among the brass …

His place was not by the King, nor was it among the many men conscripted to give their lives to the people. It was further back, among many King’s Guards. It made sense, as the King’s executioner and an iconic figure that flexed the might of Perrance. They had such a massive and scary man in their ranks, how could they possibly lose? He remained unmoving during the whole speech, shouting a powerful ‘Amen’ came from him.

When the time came for praying, he too got down and on one knee. The prayer had a particularly martial tune to it, and with each beckon to a specific God, Arnaud hit the pommel of his upright axe against the ground, causing a controlled and long-reaching echo to reverberate throughout the entirety of the forces. They could ‘feel’ the Pentad reaching into them, in a way.

”Amen!” he said right after the queen. The formalities were done, and now the big players gathered, with Asier being one to take the initiative. The massive Zuyr chuckled, ”**Un lion rusé.” he had removed his helm the moment he had entered the council, ”The preparations on shores are mostly complete. It will be difficult for them to secure entry point should we keep control of the terrain.” he spoke with his usual, thick accent and somewhat still broken Avincian, ”Have we got new word from our scouts and infiltrators?”

Interacting with: Yalen @pantothenic, Jocasta @Force and Fury, Ayla @Ti, Kaspar @Wolfieh, Ysilla @Pirouette
Location: Torragonese Desert


The pounding of her own heart was headache-inducing. There was so much noise coming from the growing tremors and the inevitable sounds of a famished beast coming close–all she could really hear was her own heart. Some prayed, some wanted to cower, and yet despite Zarina’s own values and attachments, the only thing that ran in her mind as she held her one-legged position was what to do when the plan failed. And given how close the monstrosity was, it appeared to be an almost guaranteed alternative.

Zarina was just about ready to intervene and improvise a last stand to salvage what she could of her team when the Wyrm just … Turn the other way? The plan worked. It worked and Zarina could now breathe, because she had just realised she was holding her breath during her standstill. A loud exhale along with a few coughs were allowed to come out as she stumbled to get her footing again. Sweat quickly accumulated all of a sudden, as if she had just done a long jog under the sun and only now had the watery aftermath. Especially on her back–it was particularly unpleasant.

”Oh. Shit.” the whole team had this moment of grand relief, and Jocasta was one of the first to downright celebrate, ”Oh SHIT.” she nodded repeatedly, ”YEAAAAH BITCH!” she wailed now that the Wyrm was quite a ways away, taken by the moment and acting like some frat boy that beat some lifting record. The adrenaline of victory was so great, she even approached Yalen and presented her hand for a High-five, which she would deliver with quite the smack, ”Yeaaaahhhh!”

Alright, it was time to cool down, Jocasta was right and they had to go. Although as they began to move, Zarina noticed the little musician had exerted herself quite a bit, as did quite a few others. The tall Virangish girl conferred special attention to the orchestrator of the initiative they had just taken. Without much warning, she swooped in to duck and nab the little lion on her shoulders to lift her up, ”There she is! ”she called out joyously, clearly not as tired as the others, "The lady of the hour. Let those little legs rest." She then turned her head toward Yalen, "I can also give piggy-backs." she winked.

During their final trek, Zarina was playing steed for the worn out little lioness. Looking over to the side, she took notice of her own sister–the person she had seemingly avoided for a while. She still didn’t speak, but when their gazes would cross, she conspicuously smiled toward Ysilla before facing forward to the Tethered Refuge.

Location: Tethered Refuge

They had made it, and the venerated lion was made to dismount now. The Refuge greeted them, and while not with the most open of arms, the little ones treated the visitors as better than the highest born of nobles. Needless to say, the sight of this many kids eager to see Zarina made the teen grin ear to ear. Without a shred of reservation, she stepped before the group of young folks, arms opened invitingly, ”Hello Refuge-Starlings! Did you like the show?” and then her hands came together in a clap, ”That Wyrm back there? Stood NO chance against our Great Mane Manoeuvre!” Ayla got a very conspicuous glance from the flamboyant Zarina.

She went on to add some spice to the events that unfolded, making it digestible for kids in the process, ”And so a Legendary Spear was made from the very sands of- Hmm?” a young boy came to her, and addressed her in her mother tongue. Whether it was her appearance, getup or thick accent in Avincian, she had been made as a Virangish, ”Gonna have to give me a moment, lovelies.” Abdel was given her full attention, scooting a bit away from the grouping youths, she’d lower herself and knelt with one knee to get at his level, ”Hmmm.” she squinted at the trinket, even reaching out touch it, ”*Azunu …”

Looking over her shoulder, Zarina’s jovial and high-energy demeanour had completely changed–the realisation of what was going on here hit her. There was no need to let the caretakers know of anything. But just as she was about to provide an answer, the young lad was downright yanked from the collar. ”The F-” her voice grew very quickly and simultaneously to her ascension, however she stopped herself very quickly The Fuck are you interrupting my discussion, Asshole? would have been her full response in a scenario far closer to home. And then potential violence.

But she knew better, Jocasta being the first she’d look at when reconsidering things, ”It’s fine.” she exhaled from her nose, with Kaspar giving her an idea, ”I was just showing him a trick.” in her hand, she morphed some of the residue sand all over her into a small, glass emerald she flicked over at the not-so-well treated boy. Lips pursed, she gave a final glance that showed nothing but uncertainty and concern to the boy he looked back.

Then came the Warden, or at least he introduced himself as that, ”Warden.” she replied with her arms crossed and a mere, curt nod. It’d be hard to tell if it was merely a polite recognition, or a remark. Either way, she kept herself discreet during the mini-tour and took in what both the establishment’s head and the recently introduced Marceline had to say. All the while, Zarina kept particular attention to Jocasta. The little things she had already begun to notice were only reinforcing the potential concerns she may have.

With the rundown given and ‘Marcelina’ attributing them their rooms, Zarina lazily waved at the Warden, ”It’s what we do.” with a just as passive and uninspired response. It seemed many things were on her mind and her distraction was made quite apparent. ”And where do you sleep, Marcelina? And everyone else?” she asked, chin nudging forward and eyebrows raised. There were no caretakers too close-- she was paying close attention to that too.

Interacting with: Yalen @pantothenic, Jocasta @Force and Fury, Ayla @Ti, Kaspar @Wolfieh (In intermission, see Kaspar’s latest post!)
Location: Torragonese Desert

Yalen not only complied with Zarina’s request but even went on to close the item himself. A light bit of reluctance came from the Virangish young lady, as if she were a little surprised, although ended up relenting. A scrutinising gaze was kept on the tethered blond, both arms crossed, as she watched him go. Looking satisfied after having it returned, he’d get her thanks, along with a distinctly more genuine smile than what she had been presenting thus far.

”... No it isn’t.” was her response to Ayla’s quote, with her Virangish accent slipping her and a far more typical Avincian accent taking over ever so briefly. Her expression was as deadpan as it got, especially as she gestured toward the two dead Halassa by her own blade. Perhaps a bit disingenuous, but one was certainly mightier at getting the job done fast and efficiently, ”Although this is mightier than anything you’ll find in Severa.” she commented in jest as Ayla’s coffee cup was served.

Now for Jocasta and Zarina’s insistence. She was overjoyed to see such appreciation for her favourite treat! A toothy grin reigned on her visage, ”Wallah! You should taste it with goat milk! Trades that pure bitterness for something real nice to the tongue. M’hm.” she even has the tethered imposter’s cup a tap with her own in a celebratory manner before she indulges herself, taking small and methodical sips as if she had mastered the act of drinking it down to a science.

”Aye, thanks you two.” she corrected her finger pointing. A quick glance had her make sure everyone was following with no stragglers before she essentially led the way. And before long many would take this down time to exchange, and she wouldn’t be any different. Kaspar and Zarina would end up at the tail of the group as they’d engage in a casual but ultimately information conversation, until a couple of things caught Zarina’s ear. Most notably: Jocasta’s change in demeanour and now partially-exposed history with the refuge. There was a potential loose cannon.

The chair-bound tethered could potentially feel the growing attention coming from the tall Virangish girl behind her, or maybe not. Zarina was considering all potential issues, oblivious to just how bad things could really get, and yet she didn’t actually appear to suspect Jocasta of anything beyond volatility, ”Makes me wonder what the big beard was th-” as she was going to pursue the exchange with Kaspar, a series of unfortunate events would unfold.

Torragonese was Zarina’s second mother tongue, and as a rider, the dramatic mention of the evil sands had her on her guard immediately. Although instead of reaching for her weapon, she immediately reached her arm out to get Kaspar further behind her- a pointless gesture given the gravity of things, but one that could mean a few things. A thing was for certain, she knew the slow scholar, as well as some others, would be dead if it were true and the group was unprepared, ”Fuck.” she cursed under her breath as she looked over at the direction of the incoming beast. The seismic activity made it easy for the Kinetic mage to notice and locate the massive monstrosity, even when visibility had been diminished by the night.

The natural instinct was to run, but the team couldn’t afford it– not without help. Jocasta had the same idea, which prompted a squint from the young rider, ”She has the right idea. But most of you can’t outrun that thing. Not without a horse.” she tried her best to keep her cool, but the cold sweats were accumulating fast on her forehead and neck. She could escape, probably, and so could Jocasta by what Zarina could deduce. But the rest? Her sister? The crippled Yalen? Nerdy Kaspar? They’ll die for sure.

In Zarina’s moment of intense anxiety, a position she had never truly been in despite leading quite the dangerous folks, Ayla had a solution. The first words that came prompted Zaz’s glare, ”A game …?” precious seconds were going to waste, and they were discussing a game. But Ayla wasn’t joking. Zarina didn’t get it, not entirely anyway, but simple deduction was to use a lure by how she was attributing roles, with her own being to hurl it with Jocasta toward the Halassa they had left behind.

She got to work. Or rather, she prepared. First, she marked a spot on the sand and found a proper reference point. One of the stone plateaus was recognized and she could easily determine the trajectory of the object to be tossed away. However, that wasn’t all she was preparing. The Binders had to build, and Yalen had to heat up, and with all that spare time potentially idle, Zarina concocted Plan B. There was no point in uttering it– the risk of distracting from the main plan was too great.

”If it turns sour,” she speaks to Jocasta, as they both held the same role, ”Think you can get Ayla and Yalen to safety? I can throw my sister and Kaspar far enough for them to get away. Should be able to land and handle minor injuries. Worst case, I keep it busy.” she inhaled loudly, and then exhaled.

The turning fork was ready. It looked heavy, and definitely not something she could manipulate on her own. Her Telekinesis was still budding and magnetism most certainly wasn’t going to work properly with a super-heated piece of metal. So, she looked over at Jocasta, ”Just aim it properly, and–” another big inhale-exhale, and she went for it. With the accumulated kinetic energy from the tremors, she could unleash a single, powerful and focused blast from a well-coordinated kick. The big fork was propelled at great speeds, and now all that was left was Jocasta’s adjustment of its trajectory, and Ayla’s final touch.

And then she froze, adopting even a one-legged pose she had no issue maintaining. The most tense moment had come, and all Zarina could think of was how she would have to play out her contingency plan.
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