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Glola Heavyrider

"Understandable."

0 · 687 views · located in The World of Ambar

a character in “Ambar: Chapter 1 - Snow & Ash”, as played by Baby

Description

""It's better when you take the Shortcut.""



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INTRODUCTION




Nickname(s): Shortcut, Short, Glo

Gender: Female

Age: 80

Race: Dwarf

Origin: Caeld - Dimholt

Occupation: Jeweler/ Enchanter







APPEARANCE

Image




Hair: Glola's hair is a muddy brown that glows into a chestnut color whenever she is using her magic. She has multiple braids entwined in her thick and matted hair, with a few hidden braids in the back holding beads of certain gemstones. When she is pursuing her craft, she ties her hair up in a high bun.

Eyes: Matching her hair, Glola's eyes are a dark shade of brown, with no real distinctive feature in them. Her eyebrows are thick and black and her eyelashes are very short and spread apart.

Complexion + Body Markings: Her skin is particularly drab. When she was younger, she had acne all over her chin, forehead and arms. And in her twenties, the acne was replaced by burn marks, cuts and spots of off-colored skin. Naturally brown and unnaturally bruised, there were many times when she was offered makeup to cover up her complexities, but only one stuck: Elven meal. Not that it was used to conceal her splotches of white and red skin, but Glola's keen sense of quality knew that this Elvish invention could hold (and even amplify!) her numerous gemstone powders. She even reduced it's viscosity with a mixture of her obsidian and moonstone powder. All so she could tattoo her left and right wrists with the dwarvish lettering of "Maker" (Left) and "Murghul" (Right).

Height: 3'6", she's small, even by Dwarvish standards and she usually has a stiff pain in her neck when she makes frequent eye contact with customers and cohorts.

Build: Glola's got guns. Her arms look almost comically swollen with muscle and popping veins. Her neck is short and thick and her thighs carry almost as much muscling as her arms. She has small and moderately uneven breasts but her hips are very wide, complimenting her equally wide buttocks.

Weight: She clocks in at a hefty 75lbs. With most of her weight contributed by her heavily muscled limbs.


[DESCRIPTION]

In general, Glola wears a sea green sleeveless cloth dress with wide exposing slits on the side of her thighs. She coats it in her modified Elven powder once a week to keep it flame-resistant and strong enough to rival the likes chainmail. She covers her lower legs with her long, black dwarven boots and conceals most of this simple attire up with her trusted brown apron. The apron's built in belt holds a variety of tools that she uses with her jewels and the apron pockets usually sag with the weight of her bagged powder. There is also a concealed pouch in the chest of the apron, which holds a fair amount of silver and precious gemstones. When she walks, she is a marching band of clanging, shifting and tinkling from all that is on and in her apron.

Up close, Glola's mixed features makes her strange to look at. She has patches of red and white skin everywhere on her body, including a white diamond-shaped one on her cheek and certain areas of her body are downright rough to touch. She has a wide and flat nose, large ears and pale brown lips. But as unkempt as she is, a feminine flair surrounds Glola. She moves like a swan through crowds, she spins on her toes whenever she swings her hammer, and she holds her jewels with nails that are intentionally manicured into small claws. And outside of her shop, she wears an expensive and strong perfume, that likens that of cane sugar and cinnamon bread.


PERSONALITY


[P E R S O N A L I T Y]

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("I'm holding it correctly...right Unc?")

“I can understand that.”


The trademark statement of Glola. Some may take it as a sign of sympathy, others may even interpret it as a form of agreement, but in reality, it’s just a statement of truth. Even if she doesn’t care or doesn’t agree, she can understand someone’s pattern of thought and actions. Either she’s imagined herself in the same scenario or she’s actually experienced what the other person expressed, Glola’s open mind and reserved demeanor makes her a great listener. And while she isn’t particularly wise, and outside of her trade, she isn’t naturally intelligent either, her careful choice of words and vast reserves of empathetic patience make her seem like a sage.

The part that few people know of though, is Glola’s capacity for vengeance, deception and chaos. Even when the cogs of mischief turn in her mind, her blank facial expressions betray nothing of what she really feels and plans. To her enemies, she is the perfect pushover and dimwit. She shys away at intimidation, stutters when insulted and makes frequent blunders...because she knows the right eyes are watching. And when competing shopkeeps lose their customers, wisecracking lords get robbed on their way home in the dark, nobody knows the wiser that Glola pulled all the strings to make it happen.

And if she’s pleased with someone, her good side is a subtle experience. To the few people who’ve chipped at her walls with their mirrored patience, kindness and polite speech, she opens up to them in particular ways. She will give them discounts in disguise of a ‘seasonal sale’ or something of the sort, she’ll strategically seek background proximity so she can be within their peripherals if they need something and she’ll share her favorite foods by ‘buying too much to eat’.

Friends close and enemies closer? Bullshit. Glola only prefers the company of people with a soft heart and open mind. Adversaries can keep their distance.

[FEARS]
  • Heights - "I understand how you found that to be humorous." Glola's always been close to the ground and that's exactly how she likes it. Walking up mountain sides are a big 'NO' from her and she'll freak out if she's picked up. Even when it comes to a mount, Glola’s stomach churns if the animal’s legs are too high up.
  • Drowning – Was it mentioned that Glola likes land? Feet planted on dry earth? Well if that wasn’t clear, try putting her on a boat. Or try to get her to go near a large lake or deep river. It’s not going to happen. She’ll scream or fight and will do anything in her power, even if it means a serious injury to either party, to prevent herself from being submerged. She can swim, but it’s more of a frantic flail to the surface than an actual attempt to maneuver in water.
  • Failure – She used to live in fear of her father, but after being summoned into human lands and called on for a greater purpose, Glola's biggest fear is failing in the eyes of the Maker. If this journey is her call for greatness, she wants to be sure she's not in the back pages of history.
  • Being Overpowered – The first two go hand in hand with this. Glola can’t punch a freefall, or swing her hammer at the deep blues. Gravity is an assured threat and no one’s lungs can hold water. They are the vast superpowers and Glola can't compete with that.

[QUIRKS]
  • Seeing people she hates succeed makes her physically ill. She once threw up uncontrollably because she saw her childhood adversary become knighted.
  • Likes looking at beautiful people. Even though she doesn’t put much effort in her own appearance, Glola finds it soothing to look at women dolled up and men with trimmed eyebrows.
  • Can move her eyes independently of another. Never used for anything but accessing gemstones. And to creep out her little sisters.
  • Greatly admires engineers/creators. She once fell in love with a hunter simply because they created 10 different traps for one species of giant rabbit. Where only 3 were known of for that breed at the time.
  • Mentally color codes information to remember and understand it.
  • Secretly thoughtful. She would never bring it to anyone's attention, but if she remembered that you hate spiders, she'd casually kill any that comes into view before you noticed.


[LIKES]
    • Trading - More than she likes money, Glola loves to barter. Beautiful and strange things are often offered in a trade when currency is not an option. And there’s just something in the simple fun of it all that puts a smile on her face.

    • Haggling – Sometimes transactions can be simple and that's just fine. But there are days when Glola craves the social interaction of seller and buyer, nitpicking at the nuances of prices and quality. Even if she’s the one that got haggled down into selling at a cheaper price, she’ll come out happy knowing that she traded verbal swords with someone at or above her level in the art of dickering.
    • Money – Though she loves the thrill of trades and haggles, she still enjoys coin. She earns well enough and spends it mostly on food, comforts and schemes.
    • Kindness – Drawn to it by the lack thereof in her dominating father, Glola has a soft spot for people who can be selfless and thoughtful.
    • Sweet Treats – Milk mixed with honey, strawberry cakes, or just sucking straight from a sugar cane, Glola’s sweet tooth is the main cause of her gut and butt and she’s happy enough with her body to not give a damn.

    • Gems – Awed by their natural and magical properties, Glola loves finding, trading and imbuing rare and powerful stones.
    • Vengeance – A guilty pleasure and something she’d never openly admit, Glola has a penchant for revenge. Whether it’s immediate retribution or a long awaited retaliation, the pure high she gets for seeing her enemies fall is the only reason why she’d go against her general moral code to reach it.

    [DISLIKES]
      • Loud People – “Please keep your voice down.”

      • Rudeness- She ignores it in public and doesn’t tolerate it at all from customers in her shop. Is it too much to ask to not be blatantly disrespectful?
      • Bitter/Spicy Foods- Bitter foods are for people who are too sick in the mind or too poor to do anything about it. Spicy foods…she’d rather die than suffer the burning in her mouth then and the soon to follow burning in her rear.
      • Excessive Cruelty- She isn’t above bashing a few heads in or mild torture, but anything other than a quick death and a few broken bones is a bit much for her.






ABILITIES

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[Skills]

Hand to Hand: If there was ever a time to get scrappy, Glola's the resounding champion of a street fight. She'll climb a cocky orc like a tree, scratch at the eyes of any elf that thinks their reflexes are superior and knock a human out. Cold. Of course, this type of fighting is only utilized in rowdy taverns and rarely in actual combat. And trained martial artists, unless they get too sure of themselves, can outmatch her in this.

Armed Combat: Blunt weapons like clubs, maces, hammers and the like are her specialty. She isn't particularly skilled with them to call herself a master at arms, but she wields her hammers well enough.

Utility: Moreso out of combat, Glola can use a multitude of gemstones for a variety of purposes. She can lower the temperature of a room by activating a beryl and create a camp fire from a ruby. She's pretty handy to keep around.

[Spells/Magic Affinity]

Enchantment: Though she has cheated a little bit in this department, this is where Glola truly shines. Her vast knowledge of gemstones and decades spent enchanting them makes her one of the most skilled enchanters in all of Caeld. She can take a common tiger's eye, enchant it, secure it in a weapon and have someone's sword create small twisters with a simple swing.

Energy manipulation: Magical energy is everywhere, and gemstones are certainly no exception. While she is great at amplifying and activating their energy, through years of study and a bit of cheating, she can also diminish, extract and even merge the energies of gemstones. Ever seen a lightning firestorm emerge from a Khan's great axe? Take a guess on how much they had to barter for Glola to enchant that weapon. Then multiply it by 3.

Bombardier: If a gem has been damaged or most of it's magical energy has been spent, Glola can cause them to explode, making last minute bombs.


[Weaknesses]

  • : Melee-short range- "Fight toe to toe you bastard!" Glola isn't a bowman and apart from her enchanted shield, she doesn't have much of a defense or retaliation to people who fight at long distances.

  • : Celestial/Light/Holy Magic- Though she can (cautiously) use this magic in rare gemstones, if used against her, it does far more damage than it would a normal dwarf. Her body is corrupted with blood magic and imbued ink, so it amplifies light magic to a lethal amount.

  • : Limited Reserves- Because she is a dwarf and her magical prowess is limited as is, she can't expend it very well outside of enchantment and activation. Extended combat with an enchanted weapon can drain her to a faint.

  • Slow Reflexes: She usually comes prepared when she thinks there will be trouble ahead for her, but anything she hasn't expected already can throw her off guard. By a lot. She usually has to hide away for a moment to get the time she needs to come up with a retalition.






EQUIPMENT




[ARMOR]

When in combat, Glola switches out her imbued cloth dress for a sturdier, long sleeved one, and a matching silver head armament. Her brown apron is replaced with a knapsack that sits on her hip and her boots are switched out for armored clogs.

[ITEMS]

Silk Cloth- She always keeps one or two silk cloths to thoroughly clean any gems she may acquire for appraisal. She also uses it for a quick polish before enchantment.

Chisel- For a on-the-go cut.

Refined Elven Meal & Gem Powder- Used for small enhancements to any gemstones already enchanted.

[Primary Weapon:]
Weapon Name: Shatter
Weapon Type: Hammer
Length: 1'6"
Weight: 20 lbs
Extra: Crafted by her uncle for the the lump sum of 5 gold pieces, it was tailored to her grip and height and has 5 tiny pockets on it's left side for the insertion of small gems, and one large pocket on it's right side for one large gem. It currently has 3 small zircons, 2 small tourmalines and 1 large Razuaki Jasper.

Combined, these create a 'shatter' element. If the hammer makes contact with bare skin, it will vibrate so violently, it can and often will shatter bone. If it hits a tree, it explodes into multiple pieces. If it hits solid ground, it will create a fissure.

[Other weapons:]
Weapon Type: Shield
Length: 2"0'
Weight: 15lbs
Extra: A standard iron dwarven shield, with a large pocket in the center to hold a cat's eye.

Cat's Eye increases the sturdiness of the shield when activated.

Weapon Type: Poisoned dagger.
Length: 0'6"
Weight: 2 lbs.
Extra: Nothing special. Just an additional piece of defense in case she's in a tight spot.






Glola 's Story




[RELATIONS]

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("No funny business, Unc. We could be outnumbered out here."
"So now would be a bad time to tell you about me messing around with your enchantments?")

[Family]

| Nefaek Redchin II |
Glola's father and her worst enemy. The only reason she isn't dead is because of a miracle, her uncle and her changed name and appearance. Otherwise, there would be a mark on her head. Apart from his cruelty and desire for dominance, Glola and Nefaek have a lot in common. They speak and think alike, enjoy the same food and comforts, and even have the same preference in weapons. She's done well enough in consciously forgetting all of this.

| Sazolyn Redchin |
Her mother and Nefaek's 2nd and oldest wife. She's also small by Dwarven standards and not particularly beautiful, but she is his most cherished wife, and probably the only wife he took in because of love. She's kind, timid and obedient to a fault. Glola hates how subservient she is to Nafaek but it isn't a genuine hate, since Sazolyn is too sweet of heart for anyone to truly hate her. But it is a strong repulsion. Sazolyn is also the reason that Glola subconsciously grew to have a soft spot for kind people, is a good listener, and a considerate thinker.

| Thraket Redchin|
Glola's uncle and also her best friend, trusted advisor and often times, her bad influence. Thraket is cunning, careful and strong. Monstrously so. He has a deep love for the Redchin family line, even though he understands how dangerous his younger brother can be. With his help and influence, Glola was able to learn how to become a jeweler and an enchanter.

|Nefaek Redchin III/Junebug|
Usually called by his nickname Junebug, Nefaek the Third is Glola's older brother and Nefaek's first son. They disagree on a number of things and have very different personalities, but they are still close and share an unspoken sibling love. Though they rarely speak or see each other face to face, they still send each other gifts. He sends her baked goods, she sends him custom crafted jewelry.

| Younger Redchins |
Glola has over 10 younger brothers and sisters and most of them believe her to be dead, or don't know about her at all. Almost all of them enjoy the luxurious life that Nefaek gives them and obey him without question.

[OCCUPATION]
Glola first learned how to be a jeweler while working under Thraket. He taught her everything there was to know in order to master the craft. Later on, she also studied under him to enchant the very same gemstones. She has mastered both professions by the age of 60 and is one of the most sought out merchants for fancy jewelry and enchanted weaponry.

[Outlook on life]
Orcs – Her favorite race that isn’t her own. They trade far more than the others and their aptitude for war and combat make them top customers in her shop. Not to mention that they have unique and rare gems to trade for that are only found in their lands. And since the lot of them don't care for shiny rocks, they bring well enough to give her the perceived better end of the deal. She even advertises specifically for them and hired her own attendant who can translate for her.

Elves- Probably the race she cares least about. She doesn't hate them or discriminate against them, but they just don't appeal to her very much. Often times they are beautiful and well-adorned, which makes them wonderful to admire at a distance, but their language/accents, strange smells and dull foods don't give her much else to go off on.

Humans – They make the best sweet foods and Glola is always happy to see them come in at the port. They are the most talkative and she can always expect a good dickering or two from them in her shop.

Dwarves- Her people. Her lands. What else can she say?

[HISTORY]

0
Spoiler: show
“Isn’t she beautiful, dear?” Sazolyn cooed at the babbling baby wrapped up in her arms. She smelled Nefaek come into the room and knew when he was right behind her, even though he tried to hush his footsteps.

“Hmmm.”

“I haven’t even thought of a name. But I can’t stop holding her. The wetnurse said she’d never seen a baby so quiet.”

“Hm.”

“ I love how she has your eyes! And look at that hair! Nefaek!” Sazolyn quietly exclaimed, trying to contain her extreme happiness while not alarming their daughter. She wrapped her index on the small tuft of bright red hair on the baby’s head. Nefaek ‘s voice didn’t match Sazolyn’s excitement, but he admired their child nonetheless. He rested his head on Sazolyn’s shoulder, enveloping her arms with his as they both watched the infant glow in laughter as she tried to reach her mother’s finger.

“Her name will be Nefa.” Nefaek decided.

Sazolyn’s small blue eyes teared up. Her husband squeezed her closer to him, cloaking both her and the babe in his cinnamon scent. “I love you both. So much.” Sazolyn whispered as her tears started to flow freely. Nefa wrapped her soft hands around Sazolyn’s index, bringing it to her mouth to suckle on the tip.



19.
Spoiler: show
“Where is that insufferable child?!” Nefaek roared as he shattered a few painted glass figurines posted around the garden. Sazolyn winced, thinking of how much they cost and how long the sculptor took to make them.

“Dear…she’s so young…I’m sure there’s been some misunderstanding! Teenagers just go through-”

“I’ll kill her! I’ll break every bone in her body!” Nefaek growled, not even listening to his pleading wife as she clung to his arm to keep him from damaging the garden further.


-

“Uncle!” Nefa cried out to her uncle as she ran towards him, tears streaming from just her open eye.

“Nef..? Woah, what did you do this time?” Thraket put down his book on a nearby stump as he turned to his niece who had a purpling, swollen eye. Her right wrist had red marks imprinted on her sandy brown skin and he noticed similar markings on her neck.

“What did I do? You mean that monster you call a brother??” Nefa screamed through her sobs, kicking away her uncle’s book so she could sit on the stump in the middle of the clearing.

“Nefa…” Thraket lifted his niece around her waist and placed her on his lap with a swoop of his arm. “Talk to me, little one. Tell the truth.”

“I’m NOT little! And I’m not seven anymore uncle! You can’t just-“ Nefa burst into new tears all over again as she cried loudly into his shoulder, dampening the cloth shirt in just seconds. Thraket sighed as he patted her gently on the back, knowing she’d try to speak with snot clustered up in her nose and salty tears pooling on her tongue.

“Hezgunakilmeeeeee” Nefa wailed, feeling her chest tighten with fear and the physical strain of crying so fiercely.

“It looks like he already tried to. Do me a favor and take a breather before you finish telling me what happened.” Thraket listened to his niece try and control her breathing to an even pace as he took out a hermatite from his shirt pocket and used his thumbnail to cut into his index finger. With one hand holding his niece steady and the other one coating the black gemstone in his blood, he whispered a few words and the two were covered in a dark shade.

“I pushed Maca.” Nefa whispered quietly, her tears slowing down to a trickle.

“Maca? Isn’t she pregnant?” Thraket felt anger rising in his chest. That was too far.

“Yes but she burned Junebug! He didn’t do anything to her and she burned him with one of the coals from the fire pit! She hates us! She wants me, Junebug and momma gone!”

“Truly? It wasn’t an accident, Nefa?” Thraket already knew Nefa was telling the truth. Maca was Nefaek’s newest wife, but everyone knew that she was a close second when it came to favorites with Sazolyn, and her children would be heirs after the two oldest. She was young, beautiful, and mean as all hell. She was fertile though, and in the three years they had been married, she was already bearing Nefeak a second child, while Sazolyn was struggling through several miscarriages due to her old age. Thraket was aware that Maca could be a honey-whispering angel around Nefaek, but when he turned his back, it was as if Maca was replaced with a different woman. Thraket lost count on how many times he’s seen Maca verbally abuse Nefa and Junebug, even just for looking at her the wrong way. If she was moving on to physical punishment, it was high time to start.

“It wasn’t an accident! I swear on the Maker’s hammer!” Nefa almost screamed in her rage, and Thraket felt her hands squeeze his shirt.

“Okay, okay…I hear you. What happened next?”

“I ran up to her and asked her why she burned him. She pretended that she didn’t hear me and she was calling a maid over to bring her some fish! While Junebug was just on the floor in so much pain! She didn’t even ask the maid to help him!”

“So you pushed her?”

“I pushed her as hard as I could! I…. I didn’t think about the baby. I was just so mad…and when she fell on her stomach, she made this weird sound and I knew I messed up. But I figured, ‘what’s done is done’ so I tried to help Junebug off the floor and that’s when daddy came in…” Fresh tears started streaming down Nefa’s flushed cheeks.

“I wasn’t joking uncle… When he saw the blood coming from Maca, he wouldn’t even listen to me. Maca even told him that I was the one who burned Junebug. He almost choked me to death…I couldn’t breathe….my head was spinning…”

“You’re right. He will kill you if you go back home. You two were always at each others throats but if he believes you burned Junebug and pushed Maca…he won’t forgive you. There was blood, you said?”

Nefa nodded. For a few minutes, there was nothing but the unnatural silence in the shade of the hermatite.

“I’ve been studying on some things.” Thraket cleared his throat and went silent again. The inner cogs of his mind were turning slowly, hotly. He could feel the start of a headache coming along. When he was ready to continue speaking, he didn’t notice how almost ten minutes had passed, and his sudden voice woken up Nefa who had fallen asleep in his lap.

“I think…I’m sure, that I can fake your death. I can change your appearance too, and you’d get a new name and can sign up in the military. You won’t be seen by the common people for a few years, and I have a few friends high in the ranks. I can get you sent far away from here.”

“Really? How?”

“We’re going to need some of your hair. And your blood. Lots of it.”



43.
Spoiler: show
“Where did you get that benitoite? “

Glola leaned over her uncle who was chiseling at the monstrously large mineral with delicate care.

“Some orcs came in today.” He muttered, too absorbed in his work to bother with details.

“Can you even enchant something that big? What do benny’s do?” Thraket put down his chisel and turned his torso to face his niece.

“You’re really into this?”

“Yeah! I spent all week trying to enchant that ruby you lent me! Look!” Glola reached into her dress pocket and pulled out a small, oval shaped ruby. She clasped it with both hands and squinted her eyes as she tried to release her magical energy into the stone. After a few seconds, a dim red light trickled out of her palms and she opened her hands to show him the glowing gem.

“That’s supposed to heat up into a kindling fire, at least. You said you spent all week just to do that?”

Glola’s bottom lip turned up into a pout.

“Your father wasn’t too good on magic either. And I’m pretty sure Sazolyn wouldn’t be able to do even that if she spent the rest of her life trying. You’re magical potential is shot. Just stay a jeweler, you’re doing well enough there.” Thraket concluded his death sentence to Glola’s dreams as he turned back around to continue cutting the benitoite.

“Unc… I really want this. I like being a jeweler but I want to be able to enchant like how you and those old guys do down at the port! Isn’t there something I could do?”

“Well…”

“You’re gonna need some of my blood?”



70.
Spoiler: show
"Another wedding gift for you, Lord Redchin?" Glola handed the finished necklace to Nefaek, as he simultaneously gave her his last payment of twenty silver. He had been an on and off customer the past twenty years of the Shortcut Shoppe, with Glola usually sending assistants his way or pretending to have to go to the back room for enchantments when he came. But this time, he had requested the head jeweler, which was whenever an important event had come up. And Glola was forced, but always prepared, to converse with and serve him.

"Hm."

'Glad you're still the same old prick.' Glola thought, giving Nefaek a small nod as she began to turn around as to make herself busy until he left the shop.

"You've got some new tattoos."

Glola stopped mid turn, suddenly frozen like the blood in her veins.

"Why, yes! I'm glad you noticed!" Glola smiled through her lies, wondering how she could feel dead cold from fear while also sweating like a blacksmith.

"Never took you for a religious person. And it's strange to have Murghul, don't you think?" Nefaek spoke casually, his green eyes were dull with the flair of his nonchalant attitude. The necklace disappeared in his back pocket and his hands were joined together behind his back. He was waiting for her to say more.

"Well I'm a strange person, lord Redchin. But I wouldn't want to keep you with those tidbits, I'm sure you're busy." Glola's smile was gone, but her collected voice wasn't. She was nervous, but still quick on the defense, the fear of a mistake primed her like a wildcat.

"How old are you again?" He quizzed, with no ounce of curiosity in his voice.

"Next month I'll be a hundred and eight." Glola even celebrated her birthday at a different date to complete her new persona, and the magic rituals she's been through had given her an older look. Internally she was smiling, she knew this was one of her strongest facades.

"You're enchantments have gotten better these last few years. Some of my companions have told me so." Nefaek was hardly hiding his the accusatory tone in his voice, but he stayed still, with the same emotionless expression on his face.

'You've been keeping tabs on me?! You ugly fat-'

"You should be careful." Nefaek turned and began to walk out the store, and Glola could feel all her muscles relax from the tension of the two minute conversation. "Blood magic is dangerous."



80.
"Unc..." Glola groaned as Thraket squeezed her wrist a bit too hard in his examination of her newly acquired mark.

"And you haven't been talking to those mages from Stormgard?" Thraket questioned again, letting his niece go after he had memorized the pattern in his head.

"I said no. What do you think is happening?"

"I can't be certain. But don't go back to the port. I'll watch over the shop for now. I want you to keep a low profile, and wear something that'll keep this covered up at all times. Nobody else needs to see this. Understood?"

Glola sighed and nodded, rubbing the place where her uncle's monstrous grip had left a reddening print. What was she going to do now?

So begins...

Glola Heavyrider's Story

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Character Portrait: Callion Lightson Character Portrait: Garos Sharad Character Portrait: Ragnar Greymany Character Portrait: Glola Heavyrider Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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#, as written by Baby
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"Nefa."

In the shade of the hermatite, where sound and shape were blurred into a voiding darkness, Glola didn't respond to her birth name. It had been decades since she heard it, and the last time she responded to it, her uncle kicked her so hard in the gut, she couldn't bend for days. After all of the painful training to never respond to that utterance again, Glola kept polishing her diamonds, waiting for Thraket to finish whatever spell she assumed he was beginning.

"Nefa." Thraket started again, this time with a light push to Glola's shoulder. Without diverting her eyes from the diamond, Glola flicked her hand for her uncle to finish the spell.

"Nefa!!" Thraket grabbed his niece's shoulder roughly, and instinctively she spun and punched him square in the jaw. A hard enough punch to knock some teeth out, if her uncle didn't have the fortitude of a mountain. He nodded at her response and wiped the trickle of blood that escaped from his burst gums.

"Still got it. Good. So, down to business. Do you want 20 silver?"

"Yeah." Glola released some of her magical energy, not able to fully see without making the gem shine a bit through the darkness.

"Okay. I'm turning you in."

"Wuh?" In the time it took for Glola to even comprehend her uncle's sentence, she was tied in a thick rope and the shade of the hermatite disappeared, bringing them back to their original spot in the woods. "What's the meaning of this?!" Glola tried to break through, but the rope was strong, and Thraket was even stronger. He tightened his hold and threw her over his shoulder.

"Well, the king sent some guards over because a lot of people saw you with the mark. Then there was a ransom of 20 silver for anyone who could locate you. And 40 if they turned you in. So it was either get some coin out of this or wait until your assistant that you trust so much to get greedy and tell them about where you were hiding."

"Ah. The rope?" Glola relaxed into her captivity, accepting her own mistake of telling her long-time friend Dilka that'd she be out in the woods for awhile.

"The king of Stormgard."

A second of silence.

Thraket tightened his hold on Glola to an almost painful restraint.

When Glola registered what that meant, she went into a full-blown panic. A human king?? Where she might not even get a fair trial? And would have to be sent over in a boat? "NO!"

"Yeah, I figured you'd say that. I have some friends over in those lands. They'll raise hell and then some if you're executed, but from what I know, you won't be."

"AND THE BOAT‽" Glola screamed at the top of her lungs, feeling her chest tighten and heat up from fear.

"If they pay 40 silver, I don't think they'd turn you over in the water. I have a sleeping draught I bought down at the dock. I took it out of your cut, of course. I'll have one of my men board with you and your things to make sure you're taken care of. That also came out of your 20 silver."

"Curse you! Curse you and the bastard you came out of!" Glola spat out hateful words in her panicked rage.

"…Did I say your cut was 20 silver? Huh. Meant to say 15. So, you can cry and scream and then throw up and faint every five minutes when they load you on the boat or, when I give you this vial to drink, you don't talk about my father, you don't wake up for the next three days, and when this is all said and done, you'll be around 15 silver richer with the same end result. Take your pick."


-

"Gotta give it to ya, Unc." Glola said aloud, chomping down on her 5th slice of cake that day. "This ain't bad at all..." An understatement. The beds in the human lands were bigger and softer than what she was used to, the food was endless and exquisite, and the peace and quiet of her quarters was a delicious wine to sip on while she lazed around for hours at a time. For the first day, she was so overwhelmed with how much sweets they bought at her request, she didn't bother to bathe until the smell of her sugar-frenzied sweat was even too much for her. And when she was escorted to the bathing rooms, she poured the soothing hot water over her body for at least two hours straight. If this was how humans treated their prisoners, Glola might’ve pleaded guilty.

“Hmm…” Swishing her tongue around on the chocolate icing clotted on her tongue, Glola thought of her current situation. The guards told her nothing, but from what she could infer from the treatment she was receiving, execution was out. For now. The king likely wanted information, but she wasn’t sure how he’d react if she claimed to know nothing.
For sure, two things were non-negotiable. She could never give out her birth name and she couldn’t tell them her body was permanently corruptly with blood magic. But what then? What if they want to examine her body? See her other tattoos? Would they be able to tell? Wouldn’t they have experienced clerics?

“It was the mark.” Glola countered the hypothetical argument out loud. That could be it. If they found out anything unusual with her, she could blame it on the mark and say she hasn’t felt the same since it showed up on her arm.

“Patience is definitely my virtue.” Glola smiled to herself, remembering how she had previously planned to escape her confinement to find a place to hide. They confiscated her hammer, dagger and apron but they didn’t know about the beads hidden in her braids. She contemplated crushing them into a powder to create a small fire or combine them into a bomb to blow a hole in the wall. But neither of those options took her far in her head.

“Hmm...” Reaching for her 6th slice of that morning, Glola paused when she heard the lock on her door shift. Now the time she mentally prepared herself for had come.

"Your presence is requested." The armored guard stood at the front of her room, waiting for her to get ready to move. Minutes before she’d already made the resolve in her mind to not waste her energy with fighting or arguing. So she wiped the crumbs that accumulated on her cheeks and stood up to follow.

What was the dance?

‘When did this mark appear?’

‘Two fortnights ago.’

‘Do you know what happened when you got it?’

‘I had an intense burning feeling and then I passed out in the tavern I was in. One of my close friends carried me home. It burns still to the touch.’

‘Have you been doing anything unusual during that time?’

‘No, just enjoying a few drinks is all.’

‘What about your other tattoos? Any burns?’


Glola’s chocolate eyes had glazed over into an almost milky almond color as multiple scenarios and questions coursed through her mind. Questions she’d readily expect, questions she didn’t think would ever be asked.

When the guards had stopped walking, her body did as well, but her mind was not in the present moment. She had gone so far as them asking her family history, her lineage. She came up with cousins, brothers, sisters that all fell under the ‘Heavyrider’ lie. Names, appearances, relations. She came to when the one of the guards lightly bumped into her shoulder with their hip and realized that she was in a room with three other men.

‘Is that…?’

“Names Garos, if there’s to be introductions.”

A wave of mixed emotions filled the color back in Glola’s eyes. She was so grateful for a familiar face in such a trying predicament. Besides just recognizing his face, Glola recalled fondly his long stories and cheerful smirk. She wanted to walk up and tug at his shirt, yet she doubted herself. Would he remember her…?

‘Why wouldn’t he?’ Glola thought sharply, almost angry at Garos for something he didn’t even do. Yet. Not wanting to make a scene or to impose her presence, Glola stepped lightly into Garos’ right peripheral and kept quiet. She prayed that he would keep talking. And in a deeper part of her secret prayers, she prayed that he’d see her. She’d watch his face to see if the emotion of recognition was there when he did. And if he didn't remember her, well, he could say goodbye to any enchantments she would have offered.

‘Is someone snoring?’ Glola blinked from her concentrated stare at Garos, thinking she had heard something she knew she couldn’t have. The other two men were standing upright.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Callion Lightson Character Portrait: Emily Austringer Character Portrait: Garos Sharad Character Portrait: Ragnar Greymany Character Portrait: Glola Heavyrider Character Portrait:
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"Bored."

The word was uttered without frills nor inclining of tone. Just a monotonic observation of of her situation. Emily was, without a doubt, bored. She'd staved off the cabin fever for the first few days by reading through the various books on the bookshelves, from the historical to the trashy, to at least try to fend off the inevitable for a few minutes more. When those began to fail, she managed to talk her guards-- and no matter what they tried to tell her, they were her guards-- into supplying her with a empty journal and a charcoal pencil. Half of its pages were already filled with artistic sketches of the furniture that filled out the room she was placed in. Though cozy, she could tell a cell when she saw one. Rooms usually didn't come with locked windows.

She sat on the very same windowsill, her head resting against the wall and her leg pulled up close to her, the other dangling freely to the floor below. Lazily, her head rolled over and she reached out to tug at the window. It rattled, but otherwise did not budge. Just like it did the first time she tried it. And the second. The third too. She stared at it for a moment before she shook her head. "Bored," she repeated, and though still monotonic, managed to somehow sound even more deflated.

She couldn't even pull rank on her guard. The king trusted his life to the Royal Guard, meanwhile she was basically a messenger with a fancy name. A really fancy name of course, but fancy names meant little when locked up in a cushy prison. She had woken up in the comfy bed about a week or so ago. What proceeded the waking up was probably got her under lock and key-- though damned if she knew what caused it. She glanced at the mark burned into her wrist again. Whatever it was or what it meant undoubtedly was what put her in this position. Which wouldn't be so bad, if he damn guards had the decency to tell her what it meant. And she thought that they were all on the same side.

The window rattled again, this time a bit more forcefully, but just as before it refused to move. Granted, it was just glass, and had she a mind, she could probably just toss herself bodily through it. She weighed enough, she could probably make it through. Of course, she figured that the room was situated somewhere high, and that meant a long fall down. She'd give it a couple of more days before the cabin fever sets in, and it would seem like a much better option than sitting cooped up for another day.

Fortunately, it looked like it wouldn't come to that. Out of the blue, the latch to her door clattered open. Emily reined in the desire to bolt for the open door like some sort of feral animal and instead kept her perch on the windowsill. She couldn't let them see her desperate. Instead she greeted the guard with a rather bored expression. "Sooo... Going to let me go now? Or are we going to keep pretending I'm still a..." She glanced at the guard's armor, and deciding that she wasn't too high of a rank, continued, "goddamn guest?"

The guard sighed and shook her head, "I told you once before Emily, you are not a prisoner." It wasn't the first time Emily heard that excuse.

"Bullshit. Unless other the guests have their doors and windows locked," she said with a chuckle, jiggling the window for effect. "If you do, then, well, I think your problem lies elsewhere."

The guard sighed again, but opted not to answer her. Instead, she deftly steered the conversation elsewhere. "If you'd follow us to the audience chamber, the king has a few questions for you."

"Oooh, the King. How fortunate am I," she said sarcastically with her hands raised, her fingerings wiggling. Eventually, she shrugged and hopped off of the windowsill, "Whatever, as long as I get out of this room," she added, crossing the room to the door on the other side. Fortunately, they did not throw the manacles on her, instead she simply had an entourage of one other guard follow her.

Eventually she was deposited into the promised area, though not alone. Another eyebrow rose as she scanned the faces of the others that'd been brought in before her. "The... other guests, I guess," she said to herself, before shaking her head. She settled into military rest, spine straight, and hands locked behind her back, before she patiently waited for the king to arrive. At least for a moment. Until she noticed one of the other guests gently swaying on his feet.

"Is... Is he fuckin' asleep?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Callion Lightson Character Portrait: Emily Austringer Character Portrait: Garos Sharad Character Portrait: Ragnar Greymany Character Portrait: Mara Timbers Character Portrait: Glola Heavyrider
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She was clean. She was fed. So understandably, Mara was assuming she had died.

It must have been around the time when the local guardsmen had caught her, wandering the wood after fleeing her father's home in terror. They must have killed her--she did bite that one man rather hard on his hand when he'd caught her. Maybe he'd drawn his sword then and run her through. Maybe it was so traumatic for her eternal soul that she just couldn't remember the actual part when she died. But there was no other logical explanation. No reason to keep a farm girl in a comfort that she'd never before known. With a soft bed (No fleas at all!), and a warm fire, three meals--THREE!--each day since she'd arrived in...wherever she was.

They even sent in other women to her room ; higher bred ladies than she--with colorful dresses of handmaidens, and clean straight teeth like graveyard headstones, smelling of essential oils; to bathe her (somewhat forcibly, scrubbing until Mara's skin was a stinging pink, like an animal hide rubbed raw). She tried to explain that she was perfectly capable of cleaning herself, thank you, but the ladies simply grimaced in reply and dumped scalding water over her head, raking their fingers through her hair brutally as they took to their task. The handmaidens eyes had a look unfamiliar to Mara--was it pity? No, Mara knew that look. The one she got from the priests as they saw her tiny frame, engulfed in her old frock. No, it was something else--something between great dislike and disgust.

When the ladies felt they could scrub no more from her (Mara's hands permanently stained by the earth beneath her nails and scarred from a horse bite, her skin tanned past what might be considered beautiful in a high lady's court, her hair naturally unruly) they took away her one dress and apron, mentioning cleaning--but Mara suspected, they were more likely to burn it based on the looks on their faces. Instead, they gave her a different dress. Maybe not new--but the newest Mara could ever remember having. A brown simple shift and a green bodice--of the likes she had never worn before. This must have been plain by the look on her face--for one of the ladies took pity on her and helped her into the strange, rib-crushing device, tightening it from behind until Mara wondered why breathing was not fashionable any longer.

In the few days--or was it weeks?--that Mara had been housed in the fine room, she felt herself for the first time in her memory; well-rested and she knew what it felt like to be "full". Unused to heavy meals (or any meals at all, really) she rarely could finish all of the food that was brought to her--but just in case the food stopped, she would squirrel anything she didn't eat away in various parts of her large space. Apples went hidden in apron pockets, cheese and bred were tucked under her pillow or hidden in the folds of a curtain. Her food hiding didn't go unnoticed for long, and the ladies tutted at her angrily as they cleaned out her stashes. Mara did not know how to protest this, so she watched them take it all away in silence. Mara did not cease the habit of food hiding. She just got more careful about it. Her face became a little less gaunt, her body felt a little less fragile to move--though the awful mark--the mark that appeared when she'd been illegally practicing magic--still burned to the touch no matter how well she was fed.

In the time between meals, Mara was left alone. Beyond the closed door she could hear footsteps and sometimes voices. If she was not dead--she was not sure what she really was. This did not feel like any prison she had ever heard of, though it seemed she was not allowed to leave either. She had heard the ladies who fed her now and then mention with some malice that she was a "guest"--but of whom? She remembered little about arriving in the room. If she had not died upon her capture--then she could only assume she had lost consciousness either from physical retaliation by the guards she struggled with or her own exhaustion. She only recalled fighting, biting and scratching in the woods--then waking in this room. There were even books here--much to her deep pleasure. And no one had told her she could not read them.

As contented as a cat, she curled up by the window in her large room with a new book each day. She was a very strong reader, and her mind devoured the book as hungrily as she devoured each meal she was brought. Some of the books seemed simple, like children's fairytales, or some cook books--but others were filled with complex poetry like she had never read before or thick tomes with heavy histories. Mara read as many as she could unscrupulously. Who knew how long she would be allowed this leisure if she were not dead? And it seemed this intuition was right enough as her door opened one afternoon and a heavily armored guard stood framed in the doorway. Mara looked up from her book, eyes sharp, body taut as if she'd been caught doing something she shouldn't. (And indeed, her father would have thought as much.)

"You're to come with me, Miss." the voice seemed younger than the face of the guard who spoke. Mara said nothing, watching him. When he did not move to forcibly escort her, Mara gingerly closed the book and placed it with a forlorn expression on the table before obediently moving to the door. What right did she have to refuse? She'd been more than well taken care of. If they meant her harm she did not think they would bother. Why not just lock her in some cell to rot? If they were punishing her for her illegal magic use--surely, that would have been where she would have found herself. The guard nodded her ahead of him, where a second guard waited, but again did not move to touch her, and Mara obediently walked ahead of him now between the two men. Maybe they had heard she was a fighter and were keeping a respectful distance.

They walked for some time, arriving at a large door that opened into a huge room--which Mara could only compare to the largest church she had ever seen. Her eyes went wide with awe. Was she...in the castle? She realized this with a bristle of horror. Mara was led to stand beside a group of five others, all very different--most dressed like nobility. Ahead of them--a throne sat heavily. The king? She swallowed dryly and tried to make herself seem small. Had all these others also committed the crime of learning magic without a proper teacher? One in particular looked very advanced for someone who shouldn't be learning...he also seemed to be asleep...had he been tortured? Kept awake for days? Mara wondered if they had only been gentle with her as she was so unskilled in her crime. But the others seemed not to be frightened--one man even seemed to laugh at the sleeping man.

"Is someone snoring?" one woman asked.
"Is...Is he fuckin' asleep?" another voiced with skepticism.

Mara watched all of this in silence, as was best in situations involving people above your station, she knew. She stood apart, body tense, picking nervously at her apron as she waited to see what fate would befall them all.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Callion Lightson Character Portrait: Emily Austringer Character Portrait: Cecilia Floros Character Portrait: Garos Sharad Character Portrait: Ragnar Greymany Character Portrait: Mara Timbers
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Once this type of luxury was foreign to Cecilia; now, it only served to further annoy her.

Well, perhaps it wasn't the luxury itself that was annoying, but more of the way they simultaneously treated her as if she was both a guest in their castle and a prisoner in their dungeons. Every need was catered to, well beyond the expectations that she initially had, though she was also prohibited from leaving the room she was confined to. Not to mention the fact that the windows themselves where barred and she was prevented from using any sort of magic to free herself. Left without her equipment, and with every exit to the room closed off, Cecilia was stuck in every way possible.

In some ways, she could blame herself for the situation. She didn't have to willingly go with them, but doing otherwise would have created a whole new host of problems. The fact that they didn't ball and chain her as soon as they could proved that she truly wasn't a prisoner, although that helped little whenever she was still restricted to what was essentially a cell.

Without a doubt, this was all happening due to the mark that had appeared on her wrist. She knew what it symbolized, but she was completely lost when it came to why it had appeared, or as to what the king himself knew about it. When Cecilia had first arrived she spent quite some time considering the circumstances, yet now the only thing she was focused on was to not let the mind-numbing boredom consume her. Initially, this was done by reading whatever books were provided, which were aligned neatly on the bookshelf.

The contents of said books ranged from interesting to utter garbage, nevertheless, it was an efficient way of passing time. Eventually, she exhausted her resource of books and the boredom slowly started to set back in over time. Cecilia had then resorted to tearing the pages out of the books, folding the paper into whatever shape or object she could think of. It would've been simple enough to just ask for a journal, and admittedly it was a thought that had crossed her mind – after she had already started tearing pages out. She wasn't too concerned, it's not like anyone would miss the reprehensible literature that some of these books were. Plus, they were the ones who had driven her to such high degrees of boredom, she was merely taking advantage of the materials provided to her.

There was also one more aspect that was keeping her on her toes during her lengthy imprisonment, and that was the prospects of what was to come of all of this. Her specialty was in documenting history after all, and to find herself right in the thick of it made her more excited than it probably should've. Whether or not she would actually live to be able to record all of it was an entirely different matter.

It was in the middle of her little arts and crafts project that she heard the latch on her door being opened. The guard said nor did anything except glance at the torn books and then back at Cecilia. She, in return, only shrugged at the look on the guard's face, which was a mixture of contempt and slight disbelief.

Letting out a deep sigh, the guard finally spoke, "You're to follow us to the audience chamber, the king would like to see you."

Cecilia gracefully stood from where she was crouched over the books, strolling over to the door, "Finally letting me out, huh? Hopefully, it's for something worthwhile. I wonder what the king has to say about all of this."

The guard remained silent as they turned around and headed in the direction of the audience chamber, Cecilia closely walking in tow. Once they arrived, she was graced with the sight of six other individuals, one of whom seemed to have fallen asleep right in the middle of the chamber. There was only one conclusion that could be drawn from this, and it further increased her expectations of what was to come. "So, I assume that everyone here is marked as well, yes?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Callion Lightson Character Portrait: Emily Austringer Character Portrait: Cecilia Floros Character Portrait: Garos Sharad Character Portrait: Ragnar Greymany Character Portrait: Mara Timbers
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Through all his past failures and the days he had tasted nothing but dirt, Thomas Burgundy had not experienced shame as he did now.

His nostrils flared as he breathed, loudly, his mouth incapacitated by the metal rod that was fixed between his teeth, held by straps encircling his head. Just like the bit of a horse bridle. The reigns used to direct him came in the form of cuffs clamped around his wrists and a chain. The whip, the eyes trained on his back and the hands hovering above their sword's hilt. He was an animal. A filthy, snuffling, mute animal that was being paraded around the castle of a King. He didn't belong here.

Where he belonged was the place he had been dragged away from: the executioner's block. Everything in these halls screamed at him that he was unworthy. The dirty smears left behind him - like the muddy prints of some mutt - tarnished the perfection of the place. What was he doing here? All he could remember before he'd been whisked away to this place was becoming helplessly ill before the crowd at the execution deck, watching his hands blacken... but that was a hallucination from fear, surely, that didn't happen. The chain was tugged as he lost his pace and Thomas quickened his steps. He could feel his face reddening beneath the dirt masking it. Perhaps this was to be a private execution before the King. He should feel grateful that his death would be worth as much, an assassin who was caught so young.

Finally, they were out of the halls. Thomas had noticed that they were moving in a meandering pattern around the castle, trying to make him lose track of the exits no doubt. It was a valiant effort, but a useless one. He'd never started to map the area. Whatever awaited him at the end of this journey, he would accept. The doors before them were opened and Thomas was led into a large audience chamber, beautifully crafted and the stuff of a poor man's dreams. Before he got a proper look at the others already there, he was forced to his knees before a throne missing its King. With his head tilted down he glanced around the room, and the tips of his ears turned pink.

There he was, starving, covered in dirt and wearing nothing but ragged trousers. His assassin brand, scars and the wounds of his most recent torture bared for all to see. His usually nicely trimmed hair matted to his forehead with sweat and in his eyes. Oh, his eyes. His lustrous blue eyes the only remnant of the beauty that was before such mistreatment, shining through the grime on his face. He kept his head down, discretely observing the company in the room. A snoring wizard, a soldier, a dwarf, a towering woman, a pale elf, a well dressed human girl and a... what? No matter the diversity of the crowd, there was one thing they all had in common that he didn't. No chains. He shut his eyes and tried to block out the feeling of eyes on him, the slight breeze on his naked back and how horribly vulnerable he was, displayed before them.

His prayers that somebody crash through the window and lop off his head right then were not answered, however he felt his cuffed hands be lifted and heard a clink as they were released. His eyelids fluttered open in confusion and he stared at his raw, blistered wrists - mark. There was a mark, some sort of rune. How did it get there? The bit was removed from between his teeth and he gnashed them together, bringing his hands up and massaging his cheeks. He sucked in a breath and prodded the inside of his bone dry mouth with his shriveled tongue. He couldn't try to speak like this. The guards left his side without a word and he looked after them in bewilderment. They were just... dumping him here? Without bondage? He stood, avoiding making eye contact with anyone in the room. On his feet, he forced himself to not hunch his shoulders and cower.

Something was happening here, and it wasn't Thomas's execution. But it wasn't time for celebration yet.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Callion Lightson Character Portrait: Emily Austringer Character Portrait: Cecilia Floros Character Portrait: Garos Sharad Character Portrait: Ragnar Greymany Character Portrait: Mara Timbers
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#, as written by iCakez
Ragnar was not left to his own devices for long. While he’d spent the first few minutes alone, he’d inspected the room he was in. It was large, but not immense as other parts of the castle. It had a high ceiling, and nearly every surface was beautifully ornamented and painted and adorned. There was a throne sitting on the dais, raised about three steps high. Ragnar felt strange. He wasn’t wearing his usual attire – his armor. He only wore his tabard over his shirt and pants. No sword either, but given that he was to see the king that wasn’t so strange.

As if to interrupt him in his studying of the room, someone abruptly entered the room. Well, someone was escorted into the room. Ragnar turned and watched. What followed was a series of rapidly spoken sentences, too fast for anyone to follow. This man seemed…. Odd. Ragnar shook the man’s hand but almost recoiled when he pulled up his sleeve. But it was over before he could react, and the man was talking again. Ragnar sighed almost inaudibly. Execution? Exciting?

A brief respite came as the man introduced himself, but Ragnar couldn’t do anything but nod. Before he knew it, the conversation had changed from their demise and the short, depressing time that led up to it, to the room they were in. It went on for a few minutes. At one point, Ragnar had to actively close his mouth as he watched Callion. Strange encounter as this was, Ragnar’s confusion was complete when the man seemingly fell asleep. The silence that followed felt heavy and thick after this curious man’s ranting.

“What in the name of….” He shook his head but didn’t move. His brain used so much of its capacity to process what had just happened. Ragnar had never met anyone this eccentric before.

Soon after the words had escaped his mouth, the door to the audience chamber creaked again.

Oh, please no. I ca-

To his great relief, this man seemed to be… Less extrovert. But he did seem to find the situation curious as well.

“Ragnar.” He offered in return and sighed with relief. He looked at the man who had introduced himself as Garos and thought for a moment. He looked like an orc. And then not. Ragnar couldn’t quite place him. He gestured toward the sleeping rake and shrugged. “Don’t ask.”

The next person to enter the room as also of a smaller stature. But in an entirely different way. While she was not as tall as any of the other people present, she was wide and strong to look at. Ragnar wasn’t sure he would win if they arm-wrestled. A series of emotions flickered over her face, but it was hard to make out what she was thinking. Ragnar gave her a small nod by way of greeting.

More people arrived, as if they had planned on delivering each person with a two-minute delay. A woman arrived, who was quite pleasing to the eye (in Ragnar’s humble opinion). By the way she carried herself, he guessed that she had to be some form of soldier. He chuckled at what she said when she saw Callion.
The next was also a woman who seemed desperate to let her presence go unknown. She seemed frightened and tense. Lastly, a woman arrived who did not seem so concerned. She waited a moment but then openly asked a question to everyone present. Brave he thought. Ragnar locked eyes with the young elf woman and nodded, a crooked, brief smile appearing on his face.

He had remained relatively quiet throughout, watching the people that arrived. There was seemingly no connection, other than the mark he figured everyone had on their wrists. Two of the people present had openly spoken about the marks, so it was safe to assume that this was the link between them.

The very last person to arrive, did so in spectacular fashion. No other person in the room seemed to have undergone the same treatment as this man. Everyone had been calmly escorted to the audience chamber. This man was dragged. He was dirty, chained, reeking and not until he was on his knees was the bit between his teeth removed. He looked like a wild animal and by his initial presentation, it made Ragnar wonder what he was doing in the same room as them. He stuck out like a sore thumb.

Ragnar watched the man for a moment before sighing and crossing his arms, moving to lean against the wall. There was a chair beside him, but he felt that it wouldn’t be proper to meet the king on your ass.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Callion Lightson Character Portrait: Emily Austringer Character Portrait: Cecilia Floros Character Portrait: Garos Sharad Character Portrait: Ragnar Greymany Character Portrait: Mara Timbers
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#, as written by iCakez
While he’d had enough time to think on what to tell the 8 that would be gathered before him in a few moments, the king was not entirely sure how to say it. This was new for him. He’d always known what to say and how to approach certain topics, but this was such a different subject and such a strange situation. And he didn’t even have something specific to tell them. He only had a request.

For a king, I find myself in a strange position. He thought to himself. No royal was used to asking subjects.

He paced his chambers, stroking his beard and thinking. He’d been seeing his granddaughter this morning. Her situation hadn’t changed, but that also meant that it hadn’t gotten worse again. She could eat, but she was still weak and tired. Maybe it was due to the fact that she was so young that she didn’t withstand whatever illness the mark had brought with it. Maybe hers was different?

There was a knock on the door.

“Yes!”

The door opened slowly and a young soldier stepped in.

“They’re ready, sire.” He said and waited.

“Thank you.” The king said and nodded, waving the soldier away. He waited for a moment and sighed. He was still equally prepared, having failed to find better words.




He opened the door and stepped through with sure, determined steps. He appeared from the right side of the throne in the room and slowed down in front of it. The king looked at the ragged band assembled before him. He recognized the first man they had discovered with the mark; a soldier in his own army. There was also a woman there who had to be a soldier. But they were rather different, all of them. He had decided against dressing in something overly royal for this particular thing. Balian had dressed himself in a way that exuded confidence, royalty, but also openness and that he was approachable. He carried himself much in the same way.

“Welcome.” He started. “I hope that your stay here has been to your liking, though I can understand why some of you might be puzzled or offended, as you haven’t been told much.”

He looked at all of them and folded his hands behind his back, stepping down from the dais and began walking back and forth in front of them. He seemed to consider his words carefully. Suddenly he stopped and seemed to relax, faced the group and was serious. Balian looked at the ragged group before him. Upon closer inspection, he noticed that while most of them had their eyes on him - probably glad to finally get an explanation to all this - one fellow seemed utterly uninterested. Before he continued, the king looked at this young man and paused. His mouth opened and closed a few times, but the sight of him stopped the words coming out. Was he sleeping? Incredulity and anger flickered over his face very briefly, but Balian managed to compose himself. His words had to retain their weight and importance.

“If you haven’t already reached the conclusion that you all have a mark on you, and that this is the reason you are gathered here, then I can assure you that this is exactly why.” He said and sighed. “May I see your marks?”

Patiently, he watched as they pulled up their sleeves and revealed the same mark he had studied so intensely on his granddaughter. The king paused at each person and made sure to look them in the eye before he looked at their wrists. When he had seen them all, he turned and moved to the foot of the dais.

“This mark you bear…” He paused. “It is very old.”

The door from which all the members of the group before him had entered, creaked again. A very old and hunchbacked man appeared, carrying a very large and very old tome. The king watched him and waited. The time it took for the man to put the book down on the table on the right side of the foot of the dais, was almost awkward. The silence was thick. When he had rid himself of the book, he seemed almost ten years younger, and he stood and smiled at the king. He was sent off with a nod, and the time it took for him to leave was a little shorter. Still slightly awkward.

“Now. You are here because…” The king paused and brought himself to say it. “Because I need your help.” He let that sink in. “My advisors have found old scrolls and dusty old tomes, such as this.” He gestured to the large book. “And found a page that is blank, except for that very mark.” He pointed at each of them. “They have also translated a partially destroyed page from this book,” he gestured to the tome again. “And discovered a passage that mentions the mark and the Heralds in the same sentence.”
King Balian stopped and cleared his throat. He wanted to make sure that he still had everyone’s attention.
“I realize, of course, that this has still not provided you with an explanation as to why you are here.” The king offered them a small, apologetic smile.

What he was about to ask of them, was something that would make them risk their lives for him. He knew that he had to approach this carefully, and not stand tall above them as another king might do. No, he had to show them that he needed their help, and that he was as curious as they were to find out about these marks.
“As I said before; I need your help.” Balian’s brows furrowed. “You see, strange reports have come in from the far corners of Stormgard and other kingdoms, things that chill even my old bones to the core. Things I don’t want to believe. At the same time, you have been found bearing this mark.”

For a brief moment, he contemplated telling them about his granddaughter, but couldn’t bring himself to do it.

“Far to the north-west of here, a town has been razed to the ground. This happened two days ago. Two days ago, there was not a thing resembling a threat to this town, and today….” He paused and looked at them. “But the strange thing about this whole affair, is the rumors that follow. Folk speak of blue fire and even the walking dead.” Balian emphasized these things, silently hoping that these people knew their mythology and religious history. The dead walking and blue fire were both linked strongly to the Heralds.

“All of these things happen at the same time. While I value caution and thinking before action, I cannot help but feel that this coincidence is… Peculiar.” He added. The difficulty of presenting the subject left him, and the king seemed relieved. It was obvious that this truly troubled him. Perhaps that was convincing enough? He looked at the tome for a moment before he looked at each member of the group.

“I will not command you, or demand this of you. But I will ask and pray that you will help each other, Stormgard and me. Go to this village in the north-west, see what you can find and bring back proof that the dead walk, or find out what might have happened.”

As the words left his lips, he felt more desperate and the likeliness of these people accepting seemed lesser by the minute.
“If you do this, I will reward you all handsomely, you have my word. I can’t send my own troops, as I don’t want word to get out. If rumors of the Heralds and the walking dead slip out, who knows what panic might follow. No. You here gathered before me… You must do this, to find out what these marks mean.”

Never had he ever had such difficulty expressing himself and explaining something. This was truly difficult, and the king realized at that moment, as he was looking over each person in the room, truly for the first time, that he was frightened. The otherwise great man seemed to shrink a little in the room and he looked a few years older.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Callion Lightson Character Portrait: Emily Austringer Character Portrait: Cecilia Floros Character Portrait: Garos Sharad Character Portrait: Ragnar Greymany Character Portrait: Mara Timbers
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Mara eyed each new person as they entered the large hall. The hall which she now understood to be a throne room.

She suddenly felt hyper aware of her bare feet on the cool stone floor. The women that kept checking in on her had brought her shoes and forced them on her feet after her first bath--but the shoes were terribly crammed and made her movement hobbled. She hated it. So as soon as she was able to, Mara ditched the uncomfortable things and went bare as she always had. She had never worn shoes before in her whole 22 years of life--and had seen no reason to start. Now, she understood the reason. A proper lady didn't wander around the castle without foot attire. Mara was most definitely, not a proper lady. That much she was sure was clear to those around her now. Anxiously, she picked at stray strings on her apron, making a small hole much larger.

Mara's eyes took in the elfish lady--or so she seemed to be, Mara had never met any non-human before..yet, here the room seemed to have more than one. She took in the tall, beautiful woman that had just entered with her eyes as if memorizing her and in turn her eyes moved to each individual in the room with the same veiled intensity. A tiny woman in heavy armor--a dwarf? How brilliant! A dusky-skinned gentleman, who comparatively seemed a giant--but no was he an orc? But with fine features? Hard to say. The rest seemed at a glance as human as she--but all of them were fascinating in their own way. Especially the one that came in chains. Mara had stiffened at the sound of the chains, fearing they had come to put her in them. She felt herself unwillingly tremble and gripped her apron more tightly in her worry. But when they released the man, covered in dirt and gore and left him with the rest of them--Mara felt more at ease. At least they weren't here to shackle her too. Though, she thought watching the previously chained man with curious eyes, what had he done to earn his chains? Despite this..Mara ached at the sight of him. He looked injured and dirty--he looked like she surely did before the handmaidens had gotten to her. She could feel the lump of cheese she had hidden in her apron pocket and thought perhaps she would offer it to him...but just as she had started to move gingerly toward the previously chained man the elfish woman spoke up.

When the elfish woman mentioned "the mark" Mara's green eyes seemed to sharpen. Momentarily, Mara looked back to the elfish lady before shrinking away again. Make yourself small, you're not here at all. Something she'd taught herself to survive long ago. Staring too intensely at people can get you into trouble. Especially if you're caught. Faintly, Mara touched the stinging mark on her wrist. They all had it too? Was that perhaps why? And just as if in answer to her question, someone entered the room by the throne.

Mara felt her knees shaking. That was the King of Stormgard. The King! She was the guest of the King?! The food she'd just eaten felt suddenly heavy in her stomach and momentarily threatened to come up. Mara thankfully, stifled the urge. Should she kneel? Curtsy? She'd never met royalty before! And the only book she'd ever read about how one should treat a member of royalty was a fairytale--so was it even correct in its' instruction on manners? Mara was not sure, so she simply tried to politely incline her head and look obedient, much like she did with her father.

Mara watched as the king paced back and forth before the group, confirming that these marks were indeed the reason they were all here--but they were not all illegally practicing magic. This mark was not a punishment for that, though she felt little relief in learning this. Much of what the king said to them all--was anything but relieving.

He needed their help.

The king--needed her help? Mara felt her eyes go wide in surprise.

Mara listened raptly as the king described the situation, absorbing the words like a thirsty plant might absorb water. He spoke of terrifying things. The dead walk? Blue fire? Heralds? What did all of this mean?! Mara picked at her apron more furiously than before, pulling long strings out and snapping them softly in her callused fingers as she listened. When the king mentioned wanting them to go investigate a town that involved all of these stories...rumors he called them...he asked them to help. All of them? Surely, not her? She was a farm girl. Poor. Scrubbed clean just to be presented to him like a gift--but usually dirty and dim. Sure, she could read and knew some things about the local plants. She could survive and do what she needed to live meagerly--but this was not a job for a farm girl with a painful burning mark on her wrist. Surely, the ones in armor were only meant to go? Mara knew no more about battle, or self defense than most rabbits did. She didn't even own shoes! (Save the ones that felt too small that she'd hidden in her room.) But he'd fed her and clothed her (though she'd never asked for as much) and how else would she ever repay this? Would she be killed if she refused? She would probably die even if she went--though even the thought of taking on some dead that walked seemed somewhat less daunting than returning home to her drunken father. Could she tell the king that there must be some mistake? She was utterly useless for such a venture. She took a deep breath, her throat feeling dry as speaking was not something did often.

"Your Highness..." Her voice was surprisingly bold and she wore an expression that seemed greatly in contrast with that voice. "I am no warrior...I fear that I may cause more harm than good to such a venture. I have never held a sword. Nor have I worn armor...I know nothing of battle...and little of other than farm work..." Mara said, her voice carrying though she kept her eyes to the ground in deference. "I think some great error has been made in my inclusion... But if you have needs of me, I see no fit way in which to refuse you...for what little I can offer in help, My Lord, you have it."

Mara was trembling from head to toe despite these bold words. Her heart was full of terror--but what choice did one such as her have before such a summons? Command or no--she surely could not decline. Her knuckles were white with the force in which she gripped her apron, trying to calm herself. It was strange...for one such as her to be the first to speak. But the strangeness of the whole thing seemed to silence or stun the room and she felt if she hadn't hastened to say her piece than she may never speak at all.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Callion Lightson Character Portrait: Emily Austringer Character Portrait: Cecilia Floros Character Portrait: Garos Sharad Character Portrait: Ragnar Greymany Character Portrait: Mara Timbers
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It was nice to have a little confirmation that the rest of the others also bore marks, even if the conclusion was a little bit obvious. Just at a glance, there was little all of them had in common, and if it weren't for the marks, there'd otherwise be no telling why all of them were gathered. There was just one other person who entered — well, honestly he was dragged — and they were left to await the king, who entered shortly after. Of all the things Cecilia had expected to hear a request for help was not one of them, especially not from the King of Stormgard himself. What was even more unexpected was the link the strange mark branded on their wrist had to the Heralds, and as Cecilia continued to listen intimately to the king's words she felt her previous excited and carefree demeanor starting to turn grim.

There was the small hint of disappointment that she didn't learn more about the nature of the mark. Not only that, but she'd have to go on what was essentially a suicide mission just to find out what it truly meant. Though that was but an aside to the sudden realization Cecilia had of what all of this could entail. If this truly had something to deal with the Heralds, it was more than distressing to think about the future of the world.

Following that realization was unprecedented levels of eagerness, despite how incongruous it was.

Cecilia initially waited before she had spoken, taking in the atmosphere of the room and attempting to compose herself. Shockingly enough, it was the woman who seemed keen on making herself disappear that had broken the silence first. She had said nothing that was less than expected of someone answering to a king, but it still caused her to raise a brow. Truthfully, Cecilia expected her to pass out from the shock first rather than speak. It seemed as though today would just be full of revelations.

She then glanced at the rest of the people that were gathered in the audience hall. All of them had stories of their own, lives that they could very easily lose if they had taken up the task the king had offered to them. No doubt they were all aware of such a thing by now. The only thing left up in the air is whether or not the rest of them would accept the task or turn their backs on everything presented to them thus far.

After the frightful woman had finished speaking, Cecilia decided it was best to voice her mind sooner rather than later. "If I may speak next, this is truly a consequential task if you're asking us in such a personal manner. Despite that, you leave the decision of accepting up to us instead of threatening imprisonment or execution should we not accept." She paused, her jovial expression and voice suddenly turning cold, "Although I can speak only for myself, I do not possibly see how I could deny you. Any hope of returning to some semblance of normality was dashed the moment I was branded with the mark that you speak of. It'd be foolish, and frankly halfwitted, to think otherwise."

She gave a slight bow before returning to look the king directly in his eyes, "To end my little spiel, I'll accept this task of yours." Cecilia smiled charmingly, her previous demeanor returning before she spoke once more, "Of course, this is under the pretense that I'll be allowed to document any and all occurrences that we experience whenever we reach the village."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Callion Lightson Character Portrait: Emily Austringer Character Portrait: Cecilia Floros Character Portrait: Garos Sharad Character Portrait: Ragnar Greymany
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Seven other people, in varying states of dress; and occupations, if their posturing was anything to go by. Eight, including himself. A varied group that made no sense to him, the assemblage was too random. Seeing how some clearly seemed to belong to some sort of militia, while others looked as if they’d stepped straight off farmlands, there was little to no connection between them. None that Garos could make, anyhow. Besides the stinging marks branding the inside of their wrists, they were a motley crew, indeed. Hardly warranting an audience with the kingly sot himself; regalia dimmed down on their accord, no doubt. Make ‘em look less like they were being sent off to the block for heresy. Smart move.

He allowed himself an unabashed view of the others, taking them in as he would potential clientele. They were not, of course. Guests, as the tall woman had aptly put it. His gaze lingered there, sizing her up. Lass was nearly as tall as he was—something he’d never experienced before, he wasn’t sure if he should’ve been impressed or a little intimidated. Colorful tongue, too. Someone after his own heart. From her squared-up shoulders, and the stiff upper lip, he guessed his soldier assumption wasn’t far from the mark. He pursed his lips, slipping his eyes away from her. ‘Course, he’d been wrong before.

The last one was dragged in like some sort of wayward pup from the gutter, a half-drowned rat or a fish on land. Uncomfortable. Dirty. Obviously treated more poorly than the rest, though he couldn’t fathom why. A ragged street-urchin? A hapless individual unlucky enough to land himself in unmerciful hands? Both were equally likely. Not all guards were sunshine and soft hands, treating their guests with mild neglect rather than outright violence. From the looks of it, he’d suffered the later. Poor sap. He hm’d softly. A tutting sound, rattling from the back of his throat. Looked like he could take a scrap well enough. A formidable quality, if there ever was one.

A meek kitten. A wily, sharp-tongued elf. And… a dwarf. Onyx eyes snapped onto the top of her head, then met her eyes. She was staring hard, mouth pursed and eyes squinted as if she were trying to see straight through him. The height difference was laughable, but that’s not what gave him pause. He blinked. Once. Twice. Narrowed his eyes, studied the woman’s minute features; set into a face that was just as scrunched up at his, trying to puzzle out her expression. The realization made him snort aloud. Glo—the wee lass that escorted him through Caeld on one of his many excursions, rubbing elbows with people who didn’t quite mind where he was from. He gave her a pretty penny for information about the place, and even sat down for a drink or two; she could hold her own. Could tell that from the first time he laid eyes on her.

“I’ll be damned,” he nearly stooped, hands planted on his thighs, before he remembered himself and reeled backwards, eyebrows jolting up his forehead, “never woulda’ thought I’d see your face here, Glo.” A pause, reflective. “Wish it was under better circumstances—”

A cough came from behind them, where two guards stood by, hands stipled behind their backs. Gaze drawn ahead, staring straight through them. It was only then that Garos swiveled his attention back towards the empty throne… and the King. He straightened his back, moving one hand onto his hip, letting the other hand down at his side. Would’ve felt more comfortable with his axe strapped to his back, but beggar’s couldn’t be choosers, and the King looked as if he had something important to say. Important enough that he’d keep his gob promptly shut. For now, anyway.

He listened. He absorbed. Even if he wanted to roll his eyes, hard. A King was asking them for help? Lowly sots; thieves, soldiers, people who obviously hadn’t held a weapon in their lives… to do, what? Check out a razed village. Heralds. Walking dead. Blue fire. He could feel his lip curling because he already damn well knew what his answer would be. How far would this thing spread? Where would this particular phenomenon stretch its fingers? To his borders, maybe. His home. Even so. The larger, stupider part of him laughed at the challenge; bared its teeth against it, because even if there was no handsome price twinkling just beyond his reach, his answer would’ve been the same.

The mark felt as if it thrummed in response, burning. Itching. He rubbed it against his trousers. And he wasn’t alone. The brown-haired mouse with the downcast eyes stepped up first, much to his surprise, presenting her answer in a startlingly clear voice. Brave, bold. She reminded him a little of a deer. A doe; they were strong, in their own right. Graceful. A lot stronger than she looked, that was for sure. He watched her hands tremble and tighten into fists, smothering into her apron. A toothy grin broke across his face, baring small tusks that poked up behind his lip. If someone who’d never even fought before was accepting this sort’ve dangerous task, what right did he have to refuse? None, none at all. His gaze flicked to the side, lingering on the fair-haired elf.

A puzzle, she was; hard to tell what she was thinking with that sharp tongue of hers. Cold as ice, for a moment. A glimpse into something. Though, she was quick enough to smooth it over with flowers and softer words, following it with a simple request. He wasn’t made from any of those things, no sir. He arched his eyebrows, inclining his chin towards the King. He studied the bearded man for a moment longer, before clearing his throat, “’Course, I’m in. Like she said, doesn’t seem like anything’s gonna be the same for us anymore, not with these marks. Reckon this’ll be the only way to find out more about it.” A hum of assent and a final nod, “Never heard a King ask for a favor before. Good a reason as any.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Callion Lightson Character Portrait: Emily Austringer Character Portrait: Cecilia Floros Character Portrait: Garos Sharad Character Portrait: Ragnar Greymany Character Portrait: Mara Timbers
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“Well this is odd…”

Callion muttered to himself as the room seemed to melt around him, leaving him standing on a platform surrounded by darkness, which was then quickly illuminated with flowers that seemed to bring with them a light that shed a bit of vision on his surroundings. His space, roughly a five foot diameter from where he was standing, was made of hardwood which then seemed to meld effortlessly into a pleasant petal filled meadow. Callion scraped his chin, looking everything over with a calculating eye. “Dream or vision...vision or dream?”

“Why not both?” Callion heard a high voice ask, turning around and being met with a wagon wheel that had sprouted arms, legs and a face.

“Dream.” Callion stated, earning a ‘psh’ from the wheel.

“My man, you should know when this happens by now, c’mon!”

“I suppose, but it always takes me by surprise...wait, I’m not getting into this conversation with my subconscious!”

“What argument?”

“You know damn well! That existential ‘are we real or a fabrication of a dream’ talk. I have one nearly every time I drop in here. The last time it was with a teapot with a penchant for top hats.”

“Sounds classy.”

“He was droll.”

“Gasp, you would say such things about me?!”

“You’re a wheel!”

“You’re arguing with your subconscious again.” Callion pinched the bridge of his nose.

“I assume I just fell asleep standing up? Not the first time I’ve done that honestly.” The wheel shrugged...or what could be called shrugging for this particular creature.

“I don’t know, it’s not like I have eyes on the outside here.” Callion peered around a bit more.

“Well, I will say that this is a bit more...lucid than my previous incursions into the depths of my mind. Tell me, will there be any other inanimate objects gracing me to talk witty repertoire with?” It was this moment that a 'ding' came from behind Callion, causing him to turn around and witness a deer materialize from nothingness, it’s buck teeth large enough that they could have been mistaken for tusks. It smiled, opening its mouth to talk.

“Witty yah say, well I dun know ‘bout that, but I can make a mean cabbage soup.” Callion pointed at the deer.

“No...No I refuse, that is not me, that is not my subcon-” Whipping around to yell at the wheel, he found it absent, cutting himself off mid sentence. “Huh.” Callion turned back around, and the deer was gone as well. “Odd...but it is a dream I sup-” It was at that moment that the floor beneath Callion disappeared and he fell, landing on his butt in a big comfy chair surrounded by books which also occupied the seats as if they were people. The seats were arranged like an amphitheatre, with a light suddenly turning on and showcasing a rather diminutive squirrel wearing an adorable king’s crown. “What now?” Callion asked, folding his arms.

“Welcome.” The squirrel stated, his voice deep and regal. Callion raised an eyebrow, but he also knew this was par for the course. “I hope that your stay has been to your liking.”

“What the...where...I’m confused, how long have I been out?” The Squirrel stared at Callion before jumping off the stage and landing on his lap.

“You will be silent when I address you...or are you nuts?” Callion stared.

“I know my mind can come up with better jokes than that...I’ve read many books.”

“As evidenced by this theatre.” The Squirrel motioned, to which the books applauded and cheered despite not having the actual capacity to do so.

“I should probably wake up, there’s a king about to address us and I assume me sleeping isn’t exactly going to be a good first impression.”

“SILENCE FOOL!” The Squirrel yelled at him, jumping back up onto the stage. “You know how this works...besides...I need your help.” The Squirrel bobbed his head, the crown shaking with each movement. “Far to the North-West of here, a town has been razed to the ground.”

The theatre changed, the chair disappearing beneath Callion who was left to once again fall on his behind like it was some kind of cushion. Callion stood, dusting himself off and muttering some dirty words which then became a visual representations floating out of his mouth, giggling as they disappeared into the blackness. Suddenly there were buildings encased in blue fire, undead zombies were walking around...but they were acting like regular citizens. Buying obviously decayed food, tending to their dead crops and vampire cows. It was then that Callion noticed a perfectly normal baby at his feet. He stooped down, holding it up and at arm’s length. “Well, aren’t you just perfectly out of place.”

“I think some great error has been made in my inclusion...But if you have needs of me, I see no fit way in which to refuse you.” Callion stared at the baby, which then reverted back to a regular pooping machine as it burbled and tried to eat it’s own foot.

“Well spoken for a baby...when did I see a baby last?” A woosh blew past Callion’s face, causing him to drop the baby. As he scrambled to catch it out of reflex, the baby hit the ground and splashed as it turned into what looked like ale. It was then that he noticed the blade embedded into his arm. “aaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH” Callion started screaming before stopping himself. “Wait...this is a dream...or is this a vision? Reality is confusing!” Callion screamed at the blackness before pulling the knife out of his arm. As he pulled, the blade elongated to bend and form a sword which he held in his left hand. Before he could comment, a mouth formed on the blade.

“If I may speak next, this is truly a consequential task if you’re asking us in such a personal manner.”

“I’m not asking you anything at all...blade?”

“Of course you are, who else would be asking?”

“I think the outside world is affecting my dreamscape.” Callion stated, to which the blade laughed.

“It’d be foolish, and frankly halfwitted, to think otherwise.”

“Right, that’s enough sass from a weapon of war.” Callion stated, throwing the blade and watching it turn into a sparrow and take off into the unknown. Callion gave a shrug, taking a step forward only to tumble over a barrel. Falling onto his face, the lid of the barrel fell off and gave way to raucous laughter, in fact it was somewhat deafening. Callion scrambled to get the lid back on and right the barrel before his dream ears started bleeding. Once he was successful, he gave a huff. “Could you not do that again?”

“Never heard a King ask for a favor before.” A mouth formed on the lid of the barrel, giving way to the words. “Good a reason as any I guess.”

“Well...I’m not a King but I do appreciate it.”

“He wasn’t talking to you genius.” The deep voice. Callion turned around just in time to see the Squirrel King jumping up and preparing a roundhouse kick. “Time for a wake up call.” The Squirrel’s kick connected with Callion’s face and instantly it felt cold.




Callion’s form in the audience chamber slammed onto the floor with a mighty thud. It was only then there was a slight commotion from the man as he gave a yelp in surprise, lying prone for a moment as he clinged to his face. “Ow...ow ow ow ow ow...is it bleeding? Am I bleeding?” Callion asked, repeatedly dabbing his fingers at the entrance to his nostrils as he sniffed repeatedly. It was that weird feeling like there might be a nosebleed, but he couldn’t confirm. It took a few moments for Callion to register where he was, and that eyes were on him. He stood up, brushing himself off slightly. “My apologies, a nasty condition of mine that causes suc-” As he turned, he caught sight of the King himself. There was a brief pause as Callion seemed to contemplate the many different forms of suicide before giving his nose a mighty wipe on his sleeve and dipping into a deep bow.

“My...GREATEST apologies my lord. I have a condition which...no, nevermind it will sound only like an excuse. It was not my intention to sleep so soundly upon your arrival, nor was my action to ignore you.” Some of this felt familiar...had he been dreaming about this stuff? Callion straightened, looking at the others as his eyes flitted to each. There were a lot more in here than before. It took only a few seconds for Callion to piece some things together, and rather than ask for a recap, simply went with his gut.

“Alright, I’m going to try and catch up through the powers of observation and irresponsible guesswork. The informal presentation means that you are asking something of us, on a personal level. Everyone seems more or less at ease, with the exception of our beat up friend over there who looks like he could use a hug and maybe some ointment, so I can safely say there hasn’t been the threat of execution yet. I’m seeing a couple of smiles and intrigue on people’s faces, so you have asked us something that has peaked the interest of what could only be called adventurous souls...so we’re travelling correct? If that’s the case...Ah, I remember, there was a town that you needed us to look at right? Wreathed in blue flame? If that’s true, then the squiiiiiiiiii…” Callion trailed off for a moment. “..iiiiirrell...no other words fit there, long story short I believe my subconscious mind heard some of your conversation so I would like to assume there is a town covered in blue fire that we are most likely being asked to investigate cause marks, as I can see no other connecting feature between all of us. Am I correct?”

Callion stared around at everyone as they seemed more or less in complete awe, shock or maybe some kind of flabbergasted. “Oh, and for those of you I haven’t introduced myself to...Callion Lightson, a pleasure.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Callion Lightson Character Portrait: Emily Austringer Character Portrait: Cecilia Floros Character Portrait: Garos Sharad Character Portrait: Ragnar Greymany Character Portrait: Mara Timbers
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#, as written by Baby
When Garos' face lit up with recognition and he snorted loudly at his triumph of memory, Glola quickly set her eyes to the floor and turned slightly away from him, trying to conceal the small smile playing at the corners of her lips. He spoke with the energy and cheeriness that she’d hope for, but she refused to make eye contact or indulge him in conversation. It was bad enough that she was staring at him, now she couldn’t get rid of her smile and was damn near blushing. If she spoke, she probably would’ve had a high pitch squeal. Thankfully, before any real conversation could bloom, they were interrupted with the presence of the king.

As he began to speak, Glola set aside her fading glee over her rekindled friendship with Garos and went back to thinking of her cover story.

When the king asked for the group to show their mark, Glola’s heart pounded to the anthem of her anxiety, though she kept her actions at a minimum. She gave a small glance around the room to make sure everybody was participating and turned over her arm to expose the mark. She had danced to the ends of the world with stories and excuses until her nerves were fried from memorizing all possible answers to questions that had yet been asked. And when the human king had actually turned the speech around and asked for help, Glola was rushed with two emotions.

The first was relief. Any dialogue that might go towards why she has the mark or what she may have done or even who she was related to, was thrown out the window. Everything she had mentally prepared for crashed into rippling waves of released pressure. She almost sighed, but she kept her breath tempered to kill the messenger of her private thoughts.

The second emotion, first heavily overshadowed but then growing monstrously bigger than it’s presiding cousin, was shame. With the king’s plight, she felt tested. It was as if the Maker had set her into the flame and forged nothing but a dull knife.
Even at the peak of her action, she had only considered escaping. And at the peak of her thoughts, she practiced holding up a castle of lies on the base of her tongue. This king spoke of the undead and yet moments before she was concerned of them finding out her real name. Could Nefaek even have influence outside of dwarven lands? Outside of Caeld even? Who really cared if a piss-old dwarven elite had trifles with his family? What did that matter across the seas? What did that matter to darkness enveloping the world?

Glola felt sick to her stomach. How could her fear of death taken over her like this? She was threatened decades ago, and ever since she had let her desire for survival reinvent her spirit to that of a cellar mouse.
‘Maker…’ Glola closed her eyes as she began her silent prayer. ‘I have spent my life indulging in pleasures yet hiding from my old friends and family. I feared my father, I feared my own name. I have worked for excess. But if the dead truly walk, and the heralds have begun to stir…please use me. Forge me to be your hammer, let your will be manifested through my body. I will atone for my cowardice, I will be your mountain of steel.”

Feeling herself relax in her unspoken promise to the Maker, Glola opened her eyes with a newfound clarity. As the others were starting to join in to accept the King’s plea, Glola’s chest swelled. This was her time. ‘Maker! Witness me!’ Glola blinked hard before stepping forward, clearing her throat as she was ready to make good on her freshly sworn vows.

“I will also-" *SPLACK!* “Wha?” Glola whispered, turning to see the blond man whom she noticed earlier lying face down on the floor. Her right eye twitched maddeningly as she tried to collect herself.

“My apologies, a nasty condition…”

Glola’s shock prevented her from registering his words. He spoke loudly and brazenly and didn’t even know that he was interrupting her turn to speak up and be a hero! She felt like a child for being so petty but the deed was done and her mood was sufficiently ruined. Her cheeks flamed as she rolled her eyes and folded her arms. She turned to the king and gave him a weak thumbs up to show her compliance and sulked to the back of the group.

“Oh, and for those of you I haven’t introduced myself to...Callion Lightson, a pleasure.”

“I’m sure.” Glola growled under her breath. Feeling even more childish for her extended pout, Glola relaxed her shoulders and let out a deep breath. Her vow wasn’t with the King or her soon-to-be traveling companions. It was with the Maker. And he will know how hard she will fight.

[Updated Glola's fears!]

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Callion Lightson Character Portrait: Emily Austringer Character Portrait: Cecilia Floros Character Portrait: Garos Sharad Character Portrait: Ragnar Greymany Character Portrait: Mara Timbers
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Rushed from the executioner's block to be put before a King begging him for help. This day could not have turned out any more overwhelming for Thomas. It was all a blizzard of colour and sounds and despite how still the atmosphere of this room was in its reality, everything was jumping for him, with vibrance and life. Life which he had just been given a second chance at. He was no fool, despite how the King pleaded, his kind words were not for him. No doubt the speech was rehearsed before the knowledge that he would be addressing a criminal was shared with him. If Thomas were to walk back out those doors, he would be met with an axe to the neck. And if he stayed, well... He discreetly glanced around at the present company and grunted in defeat under his breath. Honestly, it would be embarrassing... And a death sentence regardless.

Submitting to the King gave him the life expectancy he had on death row. As an assassin he had already fallen into disgrace by being caught. Nobody was coming to save him from the axe because he was dead to them anyway. But... Being made to work under the man in charge of the guards that caught him... Now he would be considered a true threat to his organisation. They'd send blades after him for sure.

...

.. . But nobody here needed to know that.

He had told himself he would accept what was at the end of this journey, and if it was fighting hoards of undead for the King, so be it. Nobody else in this room were under the pressure to accept such a mission, however, and one - or perhaps two - in particular looked like they'd be more of a burden to drag with him on this mission. To his surprise, and slight annoyance, it was the young woman he had the greatest concerns about who offered her aid first. As he listened to the strangers around him bending the knee on their own free will, he had to wonder if he'd have accepted the king's request had the threat of death been removed from his head. How noble a person was he, really?

The wizard's scene had Thomas confused, shocked and delighted. He had a feeling that the hardest part of this mission wouldn't be the battle against unknown forces of evil but rather keeping a straight face around this... Callion Lightson. Just because he no longer had the reputation of his guild to uphold didn't mean he was going to forsake his professionalism, of course. After shaking his head at the wizard's eccentricities, the captured assassin finally attempted speech.

"I..."
he choked, sounding like the undead he was being tasked with to find. He swallowed to no avail and glanced over at a guard in a silent request for water. It was denied. He took in a deep breath through his nose and glared up to the King. He fought through the pain it took to spit out a sentence as he rasped, "This is not a request for me. If I bend the knee to your pleading, the reward is my life. Is that right?" He allowed himself to give the King a short, tight-lipped smile, knowing that his lips would split should he grin too wide. "Throw in a meal and a bath and my loyalties are yours... Your Majesty." He dipped into a small bow towards the man without lowering his gaze, the cold never leaving his sky blue stare.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Callion Lightson Character Portrait: Emily Austringer Character Portrait: Cecilia Floros Character Portrait: Garos Sharad Character Portrait: Ragnar Greymany Character Portrait: Mara Timbers
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#, as written by iCakez
While he had watched everyone else in the room and kept to himself, Ragnar had learned little from his observations. They were a colourful bunch to say the least. Everyone seemed to mind themselves, although two seemed to know each other already. Ragnar watched that encounter for a moment and smirked. They greeted each other like true old friends. The time that passed until the king came was just enough for Ragnar to become slightly restless. He’d been held long enough.

As soon as the king stepped through a door to the right of the throne, Ragnar immediately leaned away from the wall, stepped forward and took a knee. He was a soldier of Stormgard and this was his king. This would be the only etiquette suitable. In fact, he was surprised that only a few others did the same. One or two of them seemed too scared to move and then there was the sleeping man. Ragnar stood up again and put his hands behind his back. For a moment he wondered if the king was going to react harshly to the sleeping man, but he did not. That was slightly surprising as well. When bid, he put forth his wrist so the king could inspect the mark.

Soon, however, the atmosphere grew serious and sincere. Slightly sinister as well. For even though the king seemed to convey his message in a proper manner, Ragnar could not shake the feeling that he seemed the tiniest bit desperate. The more he heard, the clearer it was to him that the king really did need their help. He wasn’t commanding either. Even though he could. Or he could have their heads off if they didn’t comply.

This was new to Ragnar. He was a soldier – few people asked for anything where he came from. They demanded that something be done or some service rendered. When the king mentioned reports coming in from far corners of the world, he felt a cold tingle crawl up his spine. He sensed in the king’s voice a sliver of the same sensation. Was it fear?

What isn’t he telling us?

The question was burning in his mind, but it would never be polite of him to ask his king.

When he had heard all the king had to say, Ragnar considered only briefly. It was never a choice. A village had been destroyed and he was a soldier in the Iron Legions of Stormgard. He was here to defend her people, uniform or not. This was the obvious reason. It was his duty. But underlying, there was a curiosity and something that wasn’t quite fear. Yet. Rumours that were usually told to scare children were now reported to them from a king. Had the others in their company grasped the severity of this? In the king’s voice, Ragnar had also detected an urgency. It seemed to imply secrecy. The king was probably smart to keep this relatively secret, so it wouldn’t spread panic if it became public knowledge. One thing was the rumour, but the fact that the king was actually sending people to investigate in secret? That was something different entirely.

He was torn from his train of thought by the sound of the skinny man falling on his face. Ragnar looked at him and was at a loss for words (again). Truly curious, this fellow. The king seemed to tackle this very professionally. He hadn’t been thrown off by it too much. Yet.

The first to step forward was the one he had least expected would. This brought a sincere smile to his face. Sometimes you’d find courage where you’d least thought it possible. Ragnar watched as everyone stepped forward. The sharp-tongued elf woman raised a fair point, but accepted nonetheless. The orc. Or elf? Whatever he was, he accepted as well. Impressively, the man who’d been asleep for most of the king’s speech got almost everything right.


This is becoming slightly unsettling. Ragnar thought with visible uneasiness. He found himself nodding to the man when he introduced himself again, as he was too flabbergasted to do anything else, even though they had already shook hands.

“My king.” Ragnar spoke and stepped forward. “While I have as much interest as anyone here to be rid of this mark on my wrist, I also have a duty to fulfil. If Stormgard and her people are under threat, my duty and my oath demand that I do what I can to protect them.” He took a knew and bowed his head. “I am yours to command.”

While this might seem ceremonious, it was nothing but right for Ragnar. It was his king and country!
But he couldn’t shake the feeling that the mark had serious meaning behind it. It wasn’t because he knew what it meant. It seemed to seep into his veins with every day. As if a weight was put on his shoulders. As if something tugged at his heart. Ragnar had been the first one they had discovered, aside from the princess, that had the mark. He’d talked to the king’s advisors and met with the king a couple of times before. And he could not shake the feeling that they knew more than they let on. He wasn’t sure this mark was entirely good. He was sure, however, that something dangerous awaited them all.

And I cannot be the only one.

He stood back up and stepped back, having decided to trust his king.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Callion Lightson Character Portrait: Emily Austringer Character Portrait: Cecilia Floros Character Portrait: Garos Sharad Character Portrait: Ragnar Greymany Character Portrait: Mara Timbers
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#, as written by iCakez
The time from the last words had left his lips until someone spoke seemed to stretch on for ages. The king felt very small – a very unfamiliar feeling to him. And the person who first spoke was the one he would have never expected would. In fact, he was not entirely sure that any of them, apart from the two soldiers, would accept. The old king nearly shed a tear when this young woman stepped forward, with a voice bolder than her expression.

What she said initially made him think that she would decline. But she did not. Balian stepped toward her and put his hands on her shoulders. “You can carry a pitchfork and still have the heart of a lion.” He said softly. “And you would do me, and this country a great service.” He said and smiled reassuringly. Her display of courage was touching. “Thank you. What is your name?” the king looked at her as she answered. He repeated it under his breath and then looked at the next person that stepped forward.

His heart fluttered again.

This one seemed to have a more practical approach to the whole thing. It sounded like she was going to challenge him. But each and every word of what she said raised a fair point. She was right. Balian stood before her as well. “You are right, of course. But remember I do not demand this of you.” He said and trailed off, letting her finish. “Only if you promise to bring your findings back with you so we might investigate together.” He smiled and nodded his thanks.
“Thank you. Your name?” He repeated the gesture he’d made with the first girl.

The next one was a tall man. Orc? Elf? He really couldn’t decide. Maybe half each? Either way, this one was ready from the get-go. His point was also fair. In fact, he suspected that their lives would change forever. This man had a delightful approach to his request, which further increased the king’s mood. Balian put out his hand and for him to shake. “Delighted to hear it! Your name?”

What came next was not – initially - another person accepting or declining. It was the form of the sleeping man, who Balian had forgotten about for a moment, collapsing. He turned and watched as flailing limbs calmed and he was standing again. The room fell silent as this person looked at Balian, who in turn just stared back. He’d never experienced this before. Apparently, it was a condition?
At least he had the decency to excuse himself. He gave a nod when he did so, but couldn’t get a word in before the man started talking again. Surprisingly, he was right in what he guessed. Balian’s mouth opened and closed a couple of times. “I…” No words would find their way. Instead, Balian threw his head back and laughed heartily. Part relief and part amusement. “I take this as acceptance, Callian Lightson.” The king smiled and nodded, patting the skinny man on the shoulder with his big hand.

Out of the corner of his eye, he caught what he only assumed was a gesture of acceptance from the dwarf woman. He nodded in return and put his hand over his heart. He made a mental note to get this one’s name later.

The man that had been brought in in chains spoke up next. He seemed parched and in pain. Balian approached and put his face level with his. “Your reward will be your life.” He nodded. “You’ll have a meal and a bath. Two if needed.” The king was not without humour. He nodded at the man, indicating the state of his appearance and smirked. “And you’ll have gold and my thanks, if you serve well.” He nodded again to reinforce his seriousness. “Name?” When he’d given his name, he moved away.

His old knees cracked as he stepped back.

Then the soldier stepped forward. Well, one of them. Ragnar, was his name if memory served. His display of loyalty was also moving. In him, he had a good soldier and one who would serve well in this task. This had gone better than he could have hoped for. “Thank you.”

“Thank you all!” He said louder as he stepped back so they could all see him clearly. “Truly. I am grateful to each and every one of you.” The king looked around at everyone. “You will be escorted back to your rooms, where a list awaits you on which you shall write any and everything you would need for the journey. Be it a sword, arrows, whetstones, shoes…” Balian pointed at Mara’s feet and gave her a smile. “When you have done this, you’ll find a squire outside your door who will escort you to the baths. When you come back, there will be clothes ready for you, and you are invited to dine with me in my quarters. Tonight we feast.”

The king paused and looked around at everyone. “There is no time to waste, my friends. My final request is that you leave on the morrow. It’s a 5 day journey to your destination.”

Before anyone could raise their voice to this, he cut them off. “But waste not your thoughts on this! Go to your rooms, fill the list and bathe. I shall see you tonight. Thank you all.” The king smiled before he nodded and turned on his heel and left the same way he’d come in.

When he reached his chambers he sat at the same desk he’d had supper with his chef the previous night and put his head in his hand. He sighed with relief and nodded. They’d accepted.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Callion Lightson Character Portrait: Cecilia Floros Character Portrait: Garos Sharad Character Portrait: Ragnar Greymany Character Portrait: Mara Timbers Character Portrait: Glola Heavyrider
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Mara felt strong hands press into her shoulders and her trembling, momentarily ceased. These hands were oddly reassuring. Not like the hands of her father (heavy, slothful, and usually full of the need to hurt her) but firm and strong. Assured hands. Confident. When she chanced a surprised glance up, she found these were the hands of the King. She should not have been surprised such hands would belong to a king--but mostly, was surprised that such a man would touch a person of her station without malice or obvious disgust.

Mara gazed at the King before her (and slightly above her as he was still a rather tall man) she saw him smile, and heard him praise her. Mara flushed pinkly, unused to kind words or smiles or words of thanks. When he asked her name, she lowered her green eyes demurely, realizing she'd been boldly looking the King in the eye in her surprise.

"Mara Timbers is my name, My Lord." She managed softly, and she heard him repeat her name equally as soft before moving on to the next woman who spoke.

Mara listened carefully as each voice spoke up in agreement one by one--only looking up again when the sound of someone hitting the floor echoed in the room. Mara blinked, watching the flailing man, Callian Lightson as he regathered himself awkwardly before the king. In her head, Mara was torn between pity for the man's condition and stifling laughter at the spectacle of it all. Outwardly, she readjusted her eyes again, forcing herself not to stare at anyone too long. Stay Small. Stay hidden. Fade from the eye and mind of the rest. Though, Mara could sense she had surprised the room as much as she had surprised herself by speaking up first so boldly. The King took Sir Lightson's outburst in stride, laughing rather than scolding. Mara was impressed by the King's good nature. She had never imagined someone of high station could be so kindly as well. He even spoke somewhat gently to the man who had been in chains--who had also accepted.

Mara listened as the King thanked them each and all, and announced that they would be returning to their rooms. Mara liked this idea--the memory of the book she'd left behind flitting temptingly past her mind's eye. She was doting on the idea of more food and curling up to read when the King brought attention to her bare feet. Somewhat cowed, Mara flushed her shame and curled her toes in, as if it were possible to hide them. She nodded her assent as the King invited them to join him to dine and requested they bathe and create their supply list. What sort of supplies did a journey require? (Other than shoes--which the King had made plain) She thought on this as she was led from the Hall by the same old-faced, young-voiced guard back to her room.

As promised, a scroll of parchment was stretched across the table in her room, along with a quill. Mara nodded to the guards, who promptly left her to it, and settled into a chair. She could write--but little. She hoped her somewhat childish scrawl would be still legible to whomever needed to gather her list. At the top she wrote her name, as seemed fitting. Her slanted, tilted letters crowding like old men at the shoulders.

First on the list she carefully wrote, "Shoes" before carefully adding beside it "--which do not pinch or hobble". Then she stared at the daunting white page. "A loaf of hard bread and a bit of hard cheese sayfe to travel" she wrote, knowing food would be always important. Was there really anything more? She could not wield any weapons, nor had the stamina to wear heavy plate. She pondered a moment before scribbling, "A bag of sturdy mayke for stowing" which seemed to be the last thing she would need. The bag would hold the bread and cheese--and any other herbs they came across in the wood on the way. She didn't suppose she would be allowed to read during this journey--though wished she could.She had her water skein and she had her mother's cloak with her still, having hidden it from the ladies who looked after her. But was a red cloak going to be too flashy for travel? As an afterthought, Mara added "A plain cloak in which to travel for warmthe"

She read this over several times, fretting about her spelling and her awkward handwriting before setting the page aside. A bag, some bread and cheese, a travel cloak and proper fitting shoes. That seemed enough. More than enough. She gently blew on the wet ink to dry it, before setting the page on the table at last. Done with her first task, she moved to the door, opening it gingerly. The young boy beyond it looked startled by her appearance. Perhaps he had not expected her so soon? Perhaps she really did not know what one needs for such a journey? But this was all she could think would be proper. The boy hastily bowed, gathering his wits and began to lead her to the baths.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Callion Lightson Character Portrait: Emily Austringer Character Portrait: Cecilia Floros Character Portrait: Garos Sharad Character Portrait: Ragnar Greymany Character Portrait: Mara Timbers
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An interesting cast of characters, they all seem to have their own reasons for wanting to help out. Curiosity? Duty? Escapism? Boredom? Oh how wonderful all their explanations must be! Callion mused to himself as he stood with a slight smile on his face as the King reacted to his awakening with a laugh and a clap on the shoulder. That was good, the last thing Callion needed was to be in the bad books of yet another King. Instead, Callion looked around to the rest of the room, considering he had only met the soldier before apparently disappearing into his own dream state.

He first turned his attention to the younger woman who looked like a peasant or pauper, if slightly more dressed up. She seemed to hold more courage than her initial impression would give, although Callion wondered if it was truly bravery or simply a wanderlust that was full to the point of overflowing causing her to accept without truly understanding her predicament? She didn’t look like she had any formal training in anything except maybe to pull turnips from the ground. She could be a liability should there be any fighting...or she could prove to be a surprise! Imagine if she suddenly pulled a blade from mid air and sliced her way through the hordes of the undead to the chorus of a thousand angels! Or if she picked up a bow from a battlefield and was a hidden savant, nailing a target in the face from a thousand paces off! Oh how wonderful and exciting that would be! Now Callion couldn’t wait to see what she was capable of.

Next was a woman of smaller stature but larger presence. A dwarf, without a doubt, and built just as one would expect of the rock digging race. With arms that were larger than Callion’s legs...which he supposed wasn’t that much of a compliment considering his own physicality, she looked like she could hold her own in any fight. She seemed a bit miffed as she purposely looked away from him. Did he slight her? What did he do that he could have possibly offended her? Maybe she was just an angry person in general and this was her general demeanor. OOoooooh, if it was that, Callion wanted desperately to see her in the thick of battle! Maybe she was a berserker! Wouldn’t that be exciting! Wading into battle with the roar of a thousand lions...Callion paused for a second. His imagination was truly getting ahead of him today. Better to move on to the next person.

A half elf, half orc if Callion was correct in his inspection of the racial features. These were indeed a rare creature, as Elves were often times more concerned with race purity and Orcs were too busy trying to be ‘Strong’ to bother with the often perceived weaker race. Still, it looked like he carried a bit of both traits, with small tusks and an air of swagger that had Callion immediately thinking of all the stories the man most likely held in his head. Would they be about danger? About love? About a love of danger? About the danger of love? Oh, how many things could he learn from this one man, someone born on the extreme spectrum of grace and barbarity? Callion looked forward to it with nearly uncontained glee.

Next up was very obviously another soldier, although this one was a woman. That in itself wasn’t surprising as Callion had known a fair amount of women who were often tougher than the men they encountered, himself included. She, however, towered above a height one would expect of her gender, and her sharp features indicated either a very oppressive personality...or open one if the laws of opposites were to attract one another. She was a striking woman Callion would say, although he doubted she seemed interested in such a thing considering her profession, not to mention her eyes broke the monotony with unspoken harsh wit. What kind of person was she? Was she a tough on the outside, soft on the inside kind of woman? Was she a crass soldier with no filter? Was she the kind of person who wouldn’t lift a finger unless ordered? Was she running from a previous life of weakness? Callion couldn’t wait to figure out!

The next woman was undoubtedly an elf. Everything about her spoke volumes to the stereotype of beauty, grace and finesse that the race was often attributed for. It was impossible to tell the age of an elf without either asking, or Callion performing a scrying spell that would most likely end up with either a very harsh beating or even death...it was a pretty invasive thing to do, as he had learned the hard way. Still, without staring over long, he could tell she was trained and had some fight in her, which would indicate some level of age. Her face seemed to be chiseled in stone, not allowing any sort of emotion to truly shine through, another staple of the elven race it would seem. Still, if she did have a number of years behind her, maybe Callion could ask her for a history of the world from her perspective? Maybe some insight into the development of elven culture? Maybe she had some stories of heroes long gone that she could regale him with? Oh, or maybe she knew some magic from her homeland that Callion had yet to read and learn? The possibilities were endless!

The last person in the room, aside from the King and himself, was one whose story was immediately evident. Easily a prisoner or torture victim turned into a last minute soldier whose only real choice was immediate death, or potential death. His scars, dirty appearance, slouched posture and hesitant speech told volumes about his life, treatment, and potential path going forward. Would he come out of his shell? Who was he really? What kind of skills would be brought forward? What was he in for? Was he truly a noble soul at heart turned evil? This group of people was so interesting and the adventure was going to benefit from so many varied individuals for sure!

It was then that Callion noticed that the King was wrapping up and Callion refocused his attention back to the matter at hand. They were instructed to head back, clean themselves up, request whatever they needed for the trip and to join the king in his chambers for supper. Such an extravagant offer that Callion wouldn’t pass up, considering he had never really been in a King’s chambers before! This entire ordeal was turning into quite the adventure, and he could request anything from the King? Oh, his idea filled with wants and desires as magical formulas and alchemical ingredients filled his already boggled mind as he followed the people out of the room.




Callion was lead to a different room than he was previously held in, and while they looked similar the main difference was the lack of sigils preventing his use of magic. ”Oh, so now I am truly a guest I suppose! Where is my g-” As Callion asked the question, walking into the room, he noticed all of his supplies lying on the bed. This included his staff, a side travel back and a belt filled with pouches, all of which carrying very specific ingredients for his craft. ”Ah, question answered. Well then, I can take it from here.” Callion said, turning around and closing the doors on the escort that had shown him to his new room.

From there, he immediately went to his gear to make sure everything was there. Sure enough, nothing had been touched and everything was accounted for. Callion took a breath and released it in a content sigh. There was going to be so much to learn and experience in the next chapter of his life, he only hoped he lived through it all to truly appreciate the opportunity that he had been given. Not to mention that everyone seemed to have accepted, no begrudging party members here, everyone was willing to explore and understand!

A cursory glance around revealed the parchment and writing materials sitting on a small table. Walking over and taking a seat, he dipped the quill in ink then proceeded to tickle his chin with the feather as he thought things through. There were so many things that he could wish for, that he could use to further his magical studies...and why not ask for them? After all, the King was offering, so might as well go for the moon. With that thought in mind, Callion went about writing with fervor as the parchment soon quickly started fill up.

A few minutes later, Callion opened the door to a steward, standing there and ready to receive his request. Callion handed the paper over, and as the Steward reached for it, he raised an eyebrow. To him, the paper seemed unintelligible, with miniature scrawlings on it. “Uh, sir...I can’t seem to read this?”

”Hm? Oh right, my mistake.” Callion wandered over to his bag, digging around for a moment before pulling out a magnifying glass. He walked back to the Steward and handed him the instrument, to which the Steward went about holding it up to the paper. Sure enough, the words became legible. ”Now then, everything on that paper is essential if the King would like to maximize my potential on this excursion.” Callion exclaimed, puffing his chest as if he was proud of his achievement of asking for an absurd amount of items.

“I...will do my best sir...To clarify...does that say ‘Twenty seven bars of soap’?”

”Twenty seven exactly, not one less or one more. Soap contains a specific ingredient that, when mixed with a weed known as Hertalin, creates a potent aphrodisiac.”

“Why...would you need an aphrodisiac?”

”Don’t know, but it never hurts to have one on hand, right?” The Steward looked at Callion for a moment, not sure if the man was serious or having a laugh at his expense. ”Now then, enough explanations...where are the baths?”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Callion Lightson Character Portrait: Emily Austringer Character Portrait: Cecilia Floros Character Portrait: Garos Sharad Character Portrait: Ragnar Greymany Character Portrait: Mara Timbers
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"Cecilia Floros, pleasure to be of service." she said, giving her name as soon as the king had asked for it. She watched as the man that had spoken after her had also accepted the quest. So far it'd be three of them journeying to the village, and although Cecilia was sure the orcish elf man (or would it be more appropriate to say elfish orc man?) seemed the type to hold his own in a battle, she was less sure the same could be said of the bare-footed woman who had spoken up just moments before her. Then again, it was a surprise that she had even spoken up at all; perhaps she had more surprises in store for them.

Before anyone else even had the chance to speak, the man who had previously fallen asleep standing upright had unceremoniously fallen over. She could only watch as he tried to recall all of the details that he had missed. Cecilia wasn't sure if she should role her eyes or break out into laughter. Truly it was a ridiculous occurrence, made even worse by the fact that it was in front of the King of Stormgard. Even after making an utter embarrassment of himself, he seemed to have accepted the quest that the king had set out for them.

Callion Lightson. That was one name that she'd be sure to remember well.

Though the king himself didn't seem to be as perturbed as she had expected him to be, laughing it off as he continued on to the next person, one who happened to be a dwarf. The dwarf merely gave a thumbs up as a sign that she would join them on their journey. The next to speak was the man who was dragged into the audience chamber like an animal. As someone who looked to be more of prisoner than the rest of them were, he had no other choice but to accept, lest he actually end up dead and left to rot. One of the last to accept was one of the two out of the group that actually seemed to be a trained soldier. His acceptance wasn't unusual, as he was a soldier meant to serve this country after all.

She watched as the last soldier had accepted and the king graciously thanked them all. She looked over the group that had gathered so far; five of them that seemed to be human, a half-orc and half-elven man, and a dwarven woman. It was a strong group to be sure, but it seemed to be just the type of group that would be taking on a mission like this in the first place. She didn't know how well they'd be able to cooperate with each other given that they'd all clearly came from very differing backgrounds, however, Cecilia was certain that the trip wouldn't be a boring one. She made sure to keep track of all of their names, or at least the names of those who had spoken, for future reference.

The king would have them sent back to their rooms in order to prepare for the journey, and that they'd be able to request any items that they'd need for their travels. Cecilia brightened up a bit given the knowledge that they'd be able to bathe, as it was something that she had been waiting for the chance to do for a while. Not only that, but they'd actually be given a real meal after their short time of being locked up in their "guest" rooms. It was also a blessing that they'd be leaving tomorrow as there was no need to delay with such an important task at hand. With the king saying all that he'd had left to say, he'd dismissed them all back to their rooms.



She was led back to her room and upon entering she immediately say the parchment and quill that had been placed on the desk in the room. They had also cleaned up the little mess of origami that she had made out of the pages of books that she had torn out, taking the ruined books out of the room as well. Cecilia was more disappointed by this than she should've been, but had merely shrugged and surveyed the rest of the room for anything else that might've been touched.

The gear that had been taken from her when she had first arrived at the castle was laid neatly across the bed. After checking to make sure that every vial, scroll and weapon that she had on her when she had arrived was still present, she sat herself down at the desk and began to write out everything that she thought necessary for the trip.

Ink flowed out of her pen as she wrote out her list in beautifully intricate calligraphy; empty vials of all sizes, to take samples, and copious amounts of parchment, to record anything note worthy they would happen upon at the village, were only a few of the items that could be found on her list. Of course, there were also other essentials like extra bed rolls, cloaks and simple fire starting materials were also scrawled across the paper. After she had finished writing, she meticulously rolled up the parchment and left it on the desk so it could be retrieved by whomever. Feeling content, she left the room to find the servant who had been waiting for her and made her way to the baths.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Callion Lightson Character Portrait: Emily Austringer Character Portrait: Cecilia Floros Character Portrait: Garos Sharad Character Portrait: Ragnar Greymany Character Portrait: Mara Timbers
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Garos’ grin was telling—or so, he’d like to think. As soon as the king rounded on him, he extended his hand to shake, clasping at the elbow instead of palm. It was their was of doing things, and so, he’d do it here, as well. No point bending at the knee, or curtsying as if he were fancy frills. No, it wasn’t in his blood. Besides, the King seemed to understand that they came from all sorts of colorful backgrounds. This was a pleasantly-spoken request, not a demand or threat of axe poised against throat. Pleasant, for once. He gave a tight squeeze, lips pulling back from small tusks, “Garos. Garos Sharad.” He looked him in the eyes, searched and found what he’d been looking for. Genuineness. It was there, it practically bled from his pores.

Good. He wasn’t all words, all breathless air. He meant what he said. It was enough to give weight to his words, and that he made no promises bore far more authenticity than if he’d swept a hand to treasuries, assuring lordships under the guise of fealty. ‘Course, he’d never admit to understanding how these things worked. Kings and their queens, with little princes and princesses swaddled at their feet, borne to replace them once they were tired and wrinkled. Destined. He scoffed at the idea, because it was foolish; an old bygone tradition that still clung to its place in this world. Once you lived between two very different realms, it was easy to understand that they were just that… traditions. Little more, little less.

Ebon eyes slunk back to the wee one at his side, swinging her gaze away from him and the others, expression momentarily obscured. Glo. The grin hadn’t left his face, only pulled up more, amused. A silent thumbs up, buried in something that he could only imagine as a pout. That her obvious attempt at her own admonition had been interrupted by the sleeping rake hadn’t been lost on him—that she was irked to the point of silence hadn’t been either, though he merely sidestepped towards her, closing the distance enough to bump her shoulder, expression tempering itself into something a little more comforting. It was hard to wrangle the smirk from his lips, however.

Each person had their own admission of the situation. Accepting the terms, in varying degrees of bravery. Some probably felt as if they had no choice, drawn by curiosity or… dragged in like a dog in chains; a cell or fresh air on their face, it was an easy decision, really. He glanced over at the one who’d been pulled in like a prisoner, filthy and bruised; a bath wasn’t much to ask for. His life? A better appeal. Interesting. He’d have to wrangle that story out of him down the road. He hm’ed softly, rocking back on his heels to get a better view of the others. Here he was with a mottled assortment of people, no two the same. Perhaps, it was intentional with how divergent they were.

Glo. An old traveling companion, his wily dwarf-lass. He was sure that they’d be laughing wherever they went. She’d put many a smile on his face, trying to steel her upper lip. Tough as nails, that one. Callion. The sleepy rake, a mystery. Tongue filled with slanted words, bustling to be heard. Where he came from, or who he was, tickled his fancy. He wanted to know more, if only to sate his curiosity. Ragnar. A straight-line soldier, drawn up as if he was heading for battle. The only one who’d bent the knee, perhaps filled with a purpose he didn’t feel himself. It was admirable, if anything. A tall, broad-shouldered woman, sharp-tongued and sharp-eyed. Cursed like a sailor. He liked her already. A nameless prisoner, dragged in silence, probably pleasantly surprised he wasn’t biting his tongue at the guillotine. Mara. A soft-spoken farmer girl, meek as a mouse but far braver than he’d given her credit for. Lastly, an elvish lass he couldn’t seem to figure out; cool as snow, with edges there, somewhere.

He'd have to ask the others their names. He'd like to remember them, after all.

It was finished, this little meeting. Now, they were being sent back to their rooms, finally treated like guests. Garos smoothed a hand over the front of his bare chest and exhaled softly. A breath he hadn’t been aware he was holding in. Suppose he had been rather nervous of what was going to take place here, it certainly hadn’t ended the way he’d expected. Maybe, he just got lucky this time. He raked a clammy palm through his dark hair, and turned on his heels, thumping Glo one more time on the shoulder, before quick-stepping away with a tusky-grin. A bath? A chance to dine at a fancy table, with fancy food? It wasn’t an offer he’d turn his head at. No-siree.

An adventure, that’s what this was.

There was a bounce to his step as he retreated back down the hall.


As promised, all of the essentials were set neatly on his bed. Garos rubbed at his scruffy chin, eyeing the assortment. Extras, too. Parchment paper, quill and ink for requisitions; things he’d need on the road to wherever the hell they were going. His extra clothes, as well. Hood, scarf, leathers. His lovely lady, Bludger, freshly whetted and sitting pretty against the straw-filled pillow. He quickly donned his gear, stretched out his shoulders, and adjusted the strap to the large axe resting between the hollow of his shoulder blades. It felt nice, nestled there. An old friend, comfortable. Without it, he felt naked as a wee lamb.

Snatching up the parchment paper, he pressed it up against the nearest cobblestone wall. The smoothest patch he could find in the chamber, since he hadn’t been given a writing desk—could be they thought him too much of a dullard to read. Stupid half-orc, too busy thumping his chest in the darkness, snuffling past tusks. ‘Course, he hadn’t brought any books of his own in his satchel. Too burdensome to carry when trying to swing an axe, and besides, suppose he wasn’t the best writer, or reader in the world. A slight frown pulled at the corner’s of his lips as he settled the quill in his hand, freshly dipped in ink, hovering above the page with shaky fingers.

Chicken-scratch was an understatement. It was… atrocious, even he could tell. Legible? Somewhat. Through pursed lips, and furrowed brows, he tasked himself to write as smoothly as he could manage, words big and blocky. A child’s script. No grace at all, this one. Even he could admit to that. He could spell at least, his father had seen to that. Dried strips of meat, sliver of cheese, knob of bread; rations, enough for a few days, until he hunted something up himself. Most of what he needed to survive on the road, he already had. He’d been doing it for ages, so this was no different. This was, however, an opportunity for niceties he might not get otherwise. A sprig of vanilla, a pouch of turmeric, saffron, and the spiciest pepper they had on hand.

Perfect.

Garos blew across the page until he was satisfied it was dry. He dragged his thumb across the first line, and grinned wide when it didn’t smear. Rolling up the parchment paper, he strode to the door, drew it open and shoved the unwritten end of the tube halfway between the door, causing it to remain stuck outward. A clear indication that it was finished. He turned towards the opposite end of the hallway, scratching at the back of his head. Where were the baths?

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Callion Lightson Character Portrait: Emily Austringer Character Portrait: Cecilia Floros Character Portrait: Garos Sharad Character Portrait: Ragnar Greymany Character Portrait: Mara Timbers
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"T..." Thomas uttered when the King asked his name, straining to make them heard. His jaw seemed to seize up, his body arguing against sharing this information. It was only natural. He hadn't shared his name with anyone for a long time now. "Thomas Burgundy," the words slipped from defeated lips and hung there. He watched the King move along with a guarded gaze. He had a decent air about him, for one so powerful.

When it came for the gathered party to disperse, filtering out through the doors back to their rooms, he just stood there. He'd been rushed through the castle to make this meeting on time, there had been no talk of rooms. He glanced over his shoulder as each member of the rag-tag group left with purpose in their stride, then heaved and looked to the guards that dragged him there. He held his wrists out expectantly, waiting to be dragged to the next destination. He had a hunch that this was how the entirety of their little adventure would feel for him.

Soon he was led back through the halls with steel weighing down his hands once more, but no bit restraining the movement of his mouth. There was the pattering of footsteps bouncing around the hall coming from behind them, though it was difficult to tell with the echo. As Thomas found himself yanked around a corner, a high female voice called out to them.

"Sirs! Excuse me, sirs!" Thomas turned his head around as the guards stopped, catching the eye of a flushed maid with her curls falling out of the cloth covering her head. She inhaled sharply and darted her gaze to the ground before focusing solely on the guardsmen. "We have a room prepared for him, sirs. You're headed the wrong way," she said, hands gripping her apron tightly. One of the guards scoffed.

"We are taking him to his room. This is the way to the dungeons, isn't it?"

The maid shook her head. "By the King's request, rooms have been made up for all of his guests, and all are to dine with him. Even... him." The more outspoken of the guardsmen clicked his tongue in annoyance.

"Does he look like a guest to you?"

The maid gazed up Thomas's scarred, dirty, branded and... well-formed back, her eyes lingering a little too long on his shoulders before she caught herself and jolted, stammering, "I-It's King Balian's orders. If you lock him up until morning, I will have to explain why he is absent from the feast to our King!" The guardsman that had been quiet placed a hand on his friend's shoulder to calm him, then gave a nod to the maid. She broke out into a relieved smile and made a gesture to follow, "Thank you! Thank you. This way, sirs."

The cuffs were removed from Thomas's wrists as the maid opened the door to his room. "Here it is," she murmured nervously, "I will return back with wa-"

Before she could react, Thomas had lunged at the vase of lilies on the writing dress and ripped the flowers from their arrangement, throwing them to the floor. He swung the vase up to his lips and tilted his head back, gulping loudly until all of the water from the vase was emptied, either into his stomach, on the floor or running down his chest. The maid stared.

"O-Or you could drink that! The flowers were going to die soon, so..." Thomas shot an icy blue glare at her and she immediately began backing out of the room. "I'll leave you to settle, sir." She shut the door with an unintentional slam then yelled through it, "Do not wait for a squire! The guards will take you to your bath when you are ready!" The sound of her quickened footsteps seeped through the crack beneath the door and soon, Thomas was left in silence. He shut his eye and took a deep breath, soaking in the smell of lilies, books and fresh sheets.

His assigned room was small, with a small bookcase and a small bed and a small window, but what it made up for in its smallness was the quality of everything around him. Never had he slept in a room with so many things that glittered that weren't crafted with intent to harm. Never had he slept in a bed that looked so... oh, that bed. The pillows, stuffed full to almost bursting with the feathers of young geese. The furs, ripped from the corpse of some majestic beast. The silk, stripped from the bodies of worms boiled before their wings could unfurl. This bed... it was the most beautiful pile of dead things that Thomas had ever seen.

He flopped face first on top of the sheets, disregarding his filth and gripping one of the pillows to hug it against him. Burying his face into the softness, he let out a loud groan, letting out all of the thoughts on his situation:

"Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck."

Once his vent was done, he moved to the window, poked his head out and decided 'no'. It would not be a smart move to attempt to climb down from this height while so weak. He wasn't going to let himself die from a stupid fall. He sighed as he recalled the fall he had after assassinating his first contract. Just fifteen years old, shaken from the kill - out the window. Even if he was the son of the late guild leader, he should have been put down for that, like any other. Ugh, his fellow trainees at the guild must have been currently celebrating his capture. All those whelps jealous of him being favored. He wondered if they were competing over who would be the one to kill him. It was definitely the smartest to abide the King for now, with the safety of group he was to assist. Most looked like they could handle themselves.

Thomas wrote his list in prettier handwriting than one would have expected, requesting all of the equipment that had been confiscated from him at the time of his capture and (with a smirk and an evil chuckle) an apology letter from his torturer. Not very professional of him, he'd admit, but the thought of having something like that in his position was too tempting to not give it a try. As he tried to think of something else he desired he ran his quill over his dried lips. Lip balm, he added with an underline.

After drying the parchment he came out of his room, handing the rolled up note to one of the guards waiting outside his door. "I'm ready for my -" he began, when the cuffs were clamped back on. He looked at them in exasperation. "... The sheets need changing," he grunted as they began to lead him away.

While they dragged him, he noticed a familiar looming figure ahead in the hall. He was one of the members present in the King's audience, Thomas recognized, the Orcish looking fellow with the air of a troublemaker. Garob or something. He was stuck halfway out his door, like something was inhibiting him leaving. Ah, that was it. Unlike Thomas who had men forcibly drag him to his location, Garob didn't even have a squire to point him in the right direction. Thomas sighed, debating ignoring him, but he couldn't see any benefit to not assisting in something so mundane.

"My bodyguards are taking me to a bathing room," he said plainly without a glance at the directionless half-Orc as they passed his room.