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Acacia Winn

"Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people."

0 · 807 views · located in Paetax

a character in “Calisma”, as played by slcam

Description

Full Name: Acacia Winn
Nickname: Usually Lute Girl or Bard because people rarely bother to learn her name.
Gender: Female
Age: 20
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual/ Straight though she wouldn't feel up to a relationship with anyone and hasn't for a long time.
Height: 5'5
Race: Human
Class Bard

Description: Acacia has chin-length, slightly wavy, dark brown hair. Her eyes are the color of black coffee with chocolate highlights that are only apparent in the sun. She has a slightly tan, olive complexion. Her usual clothing is a black, sleeveless tunic over a white long sleeve shirt with billowy sleeves. The tunic opens around her waist and goes just below her knees. It is held on with a simple black belt. Showing through split in the tunic are loose white pants tucked into folded down, knee high boots. The boots have gold colored fabric around the cuff. Over this she has a black, waist length cloak with a fur trim around the neck. Her clothes are well worn, though neatly patched and clean.

Image

Personality

Personality: Acacia is extremely outgoing and extroverted. She is easily bored and is always looking to learn something new. She has a quick and clever mind and is often sarcastic. Acacia usually stays behind a mask of shallowness because she is doesn't like sharing her true thoughts and feelings with those she doesn't intimately trust. She is very frank, extremely opinionated, and stubborn. Many times she is annoying, but it depends on the person. Music is important to her, and her singing often expresses her true feelings. Most people's initial impression of her is that she is hyper and shallow, but after hearing her sing, they can start to see just how much she keeps beneath the surface. Some things about her past haunt her, but overall, she is very happy and is almost always smiling.

Usually if something catches Acacia's attention, she is relentless in figuring it out and learning as much as possible about it. If an object catches her attention, she usually buys it, if possible. Her many pockets are often filled with random and usually worthless junk that she has accumulated over the years. If she gets bored of a particular object, she will usually give it to the first small child that catches her eye without thought of how much it may have cost. Whenever there is nothing else to do, she is usually either playing her lute and singing, or performing some kind of acrobatics. Acacia's favorite songs are those in other languages, and she learns as many as possible.

Personal Quote: "Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people."

Equipment

Skills: As is obvious, quite a bit of musical talent. She plays the lute and has a beautiful soprano voice. She is extremely flexible and skilled in acrobatics, and tends to walk on her hands when she is extremely bored. She has been know to write a poem when the right mood strikes. She also has some skill with throwing knives which she always keeps up her sleeves.

Weakness(es): She is often too curious for her own good and is easily bored. She doesn't seem to really care about making enemies. Despite her skill with throwing knives, she is terrified of blood.

Equipment: Acacia carries an ornate lute on her back, which is intricately carved, some of which she has done herself. She has many various sized pockets all over her clothing and always has some odd items that have caught her eye over the years. She has a set of ten throwing knives, five up each sleeve, primarily for protection.

History

History: Acacia was born and raised in a small farming town situated deep in the Sy Foothills (10). Her family had a good farm and they never went hungry, however it was not the largest or the most prosperous farm in the town. She is the third daughter in a family of five children, with two older sisters and a younger sister and brother. Her mother and father were average farmers. Acacia was always the most active in the family, never seeming to sit still for more than a moment. She was often an annoyance to her mother, with her hyper and often tomboyish ways, but was her father's favorite child. She would usually be out doing things with him instead of doing housework with her mother and sisters.

Eventually, as was inevitable, she became bored of the quiet farming life. She became more and more restless until, on the day after her sixteenth birthday, she left home to seek a life of her own. At first, she did horribly, just barely scrapping by and usually hungry until she was reduced to begging, but her pride wouldn't allow her to return home. Her endurance was finally wearing thin when, not long after she turned 17, she met a 28 year old bard named Taliesin. He took her under his wing as his apprentice and taught her all the tricks of the trade. She took to being a bard extremely quickly, as if she was born to be one. Acacia and Tal traveled together to all of the major towns, entertaining either on the streets or in the houses of the wealthy and making a fair amount of money. He was the best friend and confident she had in her entire life.

When she was 18, Acacia felt a strong longing to visit home. Tal and Acacia traveled to her old home. When they arrived, her parents greeted her warmly, happy that she was alive and well. Her older sisters had gotten married and her younger sister and brother were still at home. However, when her parents found out what profession she had chosen, they did not approve and began resenting Taliesin, though they did not say anything about it. After they had stayed about a week, Tal got an urgent message and left, promising to meet her in the nearest large town, Horat, in about a week. Soon after he left, Acacia found out that her parents had made an arranged marriage for her to try to make her settle down and get her into a more "respectable profession". As soon as she learned about this, she left, promising to never return. She soon met up with Tal and they resumed their travels. They were slowly falling in love, though neither of them would admit it.

About a month after she turned 19, Tal was dead. She has never talked about it, but it is apparent that the grief is still fresh.

As soon as she saw the parchment, her curiosity was aroused and she, of course, headed to the Black Vagabond.

Anything Else: Though she has not talked about the circumstances around Tal's death, she might if she became especially close to someone. However, it takes a lot to gain her trust.

So begins...

Acacia Winn's Story

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Character Portrait: Acacia Winn
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#, as written by slcam
Acacia Winn rose a bit after sunrise, quickly got dressed, gathered her belongings, and headed down the small inn's narrow stairs. She paid the innkeeper a nice tip. It really was a comfortable little inn. She would have to remember it the next time she came to Paetax. That is, if I make it through this little adventure, she thought, a slight smirk on her face. She headed out the door, the morning already pleasantly warm as she headed out. She thought back to when she had come into town, just about four days ago.

She had happened upon this little inn, the Golden Grape, and talked a bit with the innkeeper. Innkeepers always seemed to have the juiciest rumors to share in any given city, and that would usually be the first place she would visit.To her surprise, he confirmed the rumor she had recently heard of the king becoming ill with an unknown disease. As the man apparently enjoyed talking, he also told her everything he knew about the subject, from the myriad of rumors surrounding what exactly had caused this illness to the posters that had recently gone up advertising riches for adventurers who were willing to retrieve some item that was meant to make the king well.

She was intrigued by this, but thought little about it as she made arrangements with the man to play and entertain in his inn in exchange for meals and a place to sleep. She could see him already envisioning the increase in customers a bard could bring. After a bit of bargaining, they finally agreed on the terms. She headed out to wander the city a bit before she would come back to play in the small inn.

As Acacia was walking to the market, her attention was caught again and again by the posters the man had told her about. Finally, she went up and actually read one for herself. Immediately, Acacia's full curiosity was aroused.

"An hour after noon, hmm." she said quietly, still attracting the eyes of a couple passersby as they noticed her lute. Suddenly she realized the time and made her way back to the inn. However, during the entire night, her thoughts kept drifting to the poster. What if I did go, at least to the meeting, she thought several times. The inn was bustling that night, and Acacia did not go to her bed until early in the morning. By that time, she had decided to go.

Thus, Acacia had taken leave of the innkeeper at the Golden Grape, who seemed quite disappointed that she was leaving after such a short stay. She decided to get out early to browse at the local market one more time. There were several items that had caught her eye, but she hadn't quite decided yet. The time past quickly, and soon she had added a couple more items to her collection. A hawk feather necklace, an intricately carved top, nothing big or even useful, but she still considered them great finds. Acacia then hurried off to the where the meeting was going to be held, a place called the Black Vagabond. She had already figured out where it was, so she found it easily.

She quickly read the poster just outside the door once more, took a deep breath, and entered. There were already several others sitting in the room. She took a seat in a chair by the left wall near the center of the room, facing outward so she could see everyone there as was her usual style. After a few moments, after it was obvious they were still waiting for people, and Acacia took out her lute. She began quietly playing a song she had learned before she became a bard. It was a traditional harvest song in her hometown. She began softly humming the slow tune, the words playing through her head.

At the end of the summer,
When the moon again becomes full,
The people bring in the harvest,
Before the fall again becomes cool...


After several moments, Acacia became lost in the soft, slow melody of the song. She barely noticed as the room began to fill. After a while, a man she hadn't noticed before started speaking. She stopped playing, her attention caught as she realized who he was from the ring on his hand. So this is Prince Rydas, she thought, smiling and leaning forward to rest her head in her hand as she listened. He sounded so serious. It only made her want to find out what this was all about even more. Acacia smiled even wider, excited to hear more about this "Quest of a Lifetime," as the sign had put it.

The setting changes from Paetax to Calisma

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Feylon Haradas Character Portrait: Gallow Ó Tuathaláin Character Portrait: Xan Hallister Character Portrait: Hayley Furdiligit. Character Portrait: Narenia Halen Character Portrait: Callavan Sole
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#, as written by slcam
Acacia listened with great interest as the Prince described their quest. It sounded like some epic tale from an old legend where the heroes go on a nearly impossible quest and somehow, heroically manage to accomplished their goal. She nearly laughed. In any case, Acacia knew that this quest would give her many new stories to tell at the worst, if they even ended up getting anywhere. When he asked for introductions, Acacia shifted back in her seat, watching her fellow "Adventurers" as they began the process of introducing themselves. Tal would have loved a quest like this, she thought sadly. It only made her all the more determined to take part. Suddenly a man who seemed to have just come fresh out of a brawl walked in. He didn't seem to have any violent intentions and the meeting kept on without pause.

The first to speak up was a tall woman in some various armor. It all seemed mixed and matched, but suitable for defense. She was fairly well built and spoke with confidence. She then began describing her qualifications and weapons of choice. Acacia was almost impressed as she stored everything in her memory for later.
The next was a man named Xan who blantantly admitted he was a thief. Acacia admired his audacity, especially in the presence of the Prince. It seemed he also perhaps had some interest in stories. Maybe they would get along well she thought, smiling at him as he sat.
Immediately after this, a man in full armor burst into the room, quickly introducing himself. Acacia was highly entertained by so dramatic an entrance. "Maybe I should have come in like that. Would have been fun," she mumbled to herself.
The introductions again went on without pause, only a few of those present seeming to find the sudden arrival interesting. One of those at the bar, a tall, rather large, blonde man who had been one of the few to react, then started introducing himself. Apparentally, he was one of the odd characters that followed the god Deud, and a priest no less. He almost seemed to ramble on, but Acacia, wanting to learn all she could, tried to absorb as much as possible and she leaned forward eagerly.
However, one of the others, a woman in yellow robes, seemed to dislike what he had to say. The mug in her hand suddenly shattered. What a strong grip, Acacia thought with an amused smirk. Those yellow robes seemed familiar, as if she had seen something like them before. The woman explained that she was a monk. Acacia thought over the odd name as it tickled the back of her mind. She couldn't quite place it though.
She gave a slight sigh as the next person, a woman standing in the back named Hayley, introduced herself as a merchant. If she is a merchant, then I am an enchanted cow,Acacia thought, the smirk increasing on her face.
Next was a woman who was a ranger. Acacia could almost imagine just how many places she had been. She wondered how long the ranger woman had been traveling. Most likely several years.
The next to introduce himself was a mage, who also seemed somewhat forward. He openly admitted that he was in this for only the money and the glory. Acacia did laugh softly as this, before gracefully standing to make her introduction.

"I am called Acacia Winn," she said with a bow, her arms sweeping back to dramatically flourish her cloak behind her and her hair splaying in front of her face before she abruptly straightened, tossing her head to get it out of her eyes. "You may call me Bard girl if that is too terribly hard to remember," she said with a wink. "I am merely a humble bard, looking to be of assistance to her king. I do have some ability to defend myself, so that should not be an issue. I don't think there is much else to tell, but I will let you know if I think of anything."

She then plopped back down in her seat, an overly thoughtful look on her face as she tried not to break into a smile. Her chin rested on the fist of her left hand as she held out her right hand, slowly twisting it as if to pop her wrist. When her palm was again turned upward, there was a small knife in it that she proceeded to play with, deftly looping it through her fingers and around her knuckles. She seemed to not even pay attention to what she was doing as her face still bore that silly, thoughtful look.

The setting changes from Calisma to Paetax

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Hayley Furdiligit. Character Portrait: Callavan Sole
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Ive done it again

Shame was something Akdov would presume himself above of, but he had made a mistake with the monk and was now regretting it, he should not have offered a drink to the people that place so much value to the purity of body and mind, a purity that could be potentially tainted by alcohol, neither had he failed to notice how his words have triggered something on her, she crushed his token of good will, the priest realized that the lass might not be a potential believer after all, still he would try.

Then came the emerald eyed archer, she had said everything about her while saying nothing at the same time, clever girl knew how to select her words in the end she had revealed what was needed to know, she was a marksman and probably the one who would be of most assistance if the priest ever craved for fresh boar meat... then... then came the fire-crotch

O shes full of it

Akdov drank till the cup was empty as the merchant woman introduced herself, he thought it would be hard for someone to top his loathing for this shameless gut known as Xan, but Deud preached for the sincerity and the lack of secrets that his drunken visitors showed and this woman... who did she think she was fooling?

"So weve got a Triansui, a rogue with pride, a champion of foreign lands, a kula monk, a ranger..." he stopped and drank more from the cup that Vinny had passed him "- mage for hire and a bard girl and we got need of a merchant?" Akdov was saying loud enough for everyone to hear but wasn't addressing anyone in particular, almost as if he was thinking in loud voice

I'm not letting you got off this

"Supposing our prince here needed to finance his campaign I don't see why we would need a merchant, unless said merchant deals with death or..." he looked at the area where her legs joined and chuckled "Well the flesh is weak isn't it?" he then noticed some looks and continued "Crap i am thinking out loud again!" he laughed out loud and allowed the sounds from his gutter to fill out the hall

He turned to the mage for hire and said " you look like a reliable lot good man, Deud appreciates honest men such as yourself, in me you will find an ally so long as you keep true"

hopefully salvation as well

"Sweeten my mood and drink with me damned heathen!" he said in a jesting tone which he coupled with a pat to the mage´s back that he was hoping would make the mage at ease "Vinny get us something to drink, curse you I can still count to 10 without pausing!" he looked towards the bard and lifted his cup and made a nod which he coupled with a smile, if Deud willed it she would receive this as a sign of good will

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Gallow Ó Tuathaláin Character Portrait: Hayley Furdiligit. Character Portrait: Narenia Halen Character Portrait: Callavan Sole
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Now.. why was everyone looking at him so strangely? The reasons were too many to number, and he cast the thought aside.

Gallow's attention was immediately turned to the priest who had bolted to his feet so amusingly. The man's words were grating on Gallow's ears, and for good reason. He seemed arrogant and vain, like most that followed his path in the names of whatever divines they claimed to be the mouthpieces for. The Deluvians did not believe in a religious caste. All priests were good for was adding complication and bureaucracy to something that should remain purely personal. A man or woman's church was their home and they worshiped, or chose not to, mostly as they pleased in the Deluge. The man's bloated sense of self-righteousness fired Gallow up to no end, but he kept his words in his throat, no matter how badly his tongue burned for him to reprimand the oaf.

“You might call me priest, and I will look to save you from damnation both in your bodies and souls." Gallow made a sound of distaste at nearly the same time he heard the sound of glass shattering. He had to turn his entire upper body to look, and saw a woman who claimed to be a monk. Apparently he shared some amount of her distaste for the clergyman, though maybe not quite to her degree. He paid little mind to the so called "merchant". He'd seen innumerable merchants and traders before, and though they'd all had a crafty air about them something about this girl rubbed him the wrong way. Perhaps just his imagination? Possibly. He made a mental note to be wary. As the ranger began to make her introductions Gallow moved nearer the counter, minding the bloodied man behind it, and continued scanning the ragtag ensemble from the helm's thin slit. A ranger.. he'd met a few of those during his time, and they'd varied greatly every encounter. He gauged her by her words and her manner. She was concise, sparing no time for weaving flowery yarns about herself. Good, he grumbled. There was little reason to say more than needed, especially when all it did was waste breath. Both she and the monk shared that attribute. He could not tell what worth a monk would be, but kept his mind open.

Now, the mage was certainly an oddity. He'd not often seen one who looked so.. rugged? Warmages followed a warrior's path, but with Guild training, and so they kept themselves neat as Deluvian martial standards dictated. Other than them, most mages he'd seen seemed more scholarly. An interesting fellow, to be sure. And maybe it was the mead (which Gallow was sure the man was drinking), but he did speak his mind. Not always a good trait, especially so if the speaker was anything like that boastful blackguard of a priest, but in certain doses it could amount to respectability. And then came the bard. His first thought was most obviously: A bard? What use does a bard serve outside spinning tales and singing songs? They were entertainment, after all, and usually little else. Not to say that he did not appreciate the talent of a good rhapsode! Oh, no. Learned poets of high calibre were greatly valued by the Ulaid, and their songs and stories were often the added highlights of many a tavern throughout the Deluge. As for her claim of being able to defend herself.. well.. they would see about that, eventually. She seemed a peculiar one, especially with the way she fell back into her seat and fiddled with a blade. Not odd in a negative way, at least not yet.

The uproarious priest decided it would be a proper time to fire his mouth off, again. Oh, sweet Donn, if only you would see fit to silence this foolish brute, he lamented silently, deciding not to spare a word at the man's worthless expense.

"So weve got a Triansui," Gallow's ears pricked up immediately, his eyes finding a haphazardly armored figure seated elsewhere in the tavern. Another soldier.. the surprises were to continue, then. His thoughts completely deafened him for a moment, and he missed the rest of what the priest had said, although that was more than likely a tremendous blessing. He said a quiet prayer of thanks to the gods. He glanced once more at the Prince, and retired to the counter. Dropping his axe to lean against the wood, Gallow unlatched his helm, slipped it off and set it down. The priest and the mage were now fit to celebrate, and with the adrenaline gone that familiar uncomfortableness was just setting in, again. It was all just obnoxious noise, and it had his nerves on edge.

His throat was dry, and his whole body felt uneasy right down to his core. He ordered a glass of wine, paying the man who served him with a few coins, and sipped at his drink slowly. Teachings among his people made clear the proper method for the consumption of wine. If one did not assert temperance then they might be overcome by drunken fits of violence. Deluvians had a long history of wine making, and as such it was rooted in their culture. Their largest trade with northern Calisma was wine, in fact. He could recall the vineyards sprawling on for eternity under a warm sun, bordered by rolling green on all sides. The memories brought him comfort in the din, and he yearned for the peace to remain.

The setting changes from Paetax to Calisma

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Hayley Furdiligit. Character Portrait: Callavan Sole
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#, as written by slcam
Acacia smiled and nodded back at the loud and almost obnoxious priest, Akdov, the knife seeming to disappear as it went back up her sleeve. Though he was loud and somewhat insulting, he also offered a great source of entertainment. Of course his comments, along with the mage's, were obviously quite offinsive and even hostile toward the redheaded "merchant." Acacia just hoped her temper didn't match her hair.

Which apparently it did. Acacia watched, groaning inwardly as Hayley began defending herself from the priest, only to lose her temper at the mage's comments. The redhead strode up to the man, coming to a stop behind him with a dagger now drawn that she was wielding threateningly. This argument sparked several others, who either tried to quench the fight, like Mirabella, who then waked out, or others who only made it worse, such as the man who had walked in bloody before. He apparently is good at antagonizing, Acacia thought with an inward smirk. She had few doubts that this would explain his interesting appearance.

Acacia could already see this dissolving into a proper bar fight. After hearing even the prince getting irritated, Acacia figured she might as well step in between the two still tense instigators of this. They also only seemed to be getting more strained as the mage began threatening as well. Acacia watched as sparks began popping out in his palm. She quickly moved her lute where it would be out of the way, scooted out from behind her table, gracefully rolled over another without disturbing its contents, and landed beside Hayley, a small smile on her face.

"Now, stupid words from drunken idiots aren't worthy of your time, are they?" she said gently. In a lower voice, she continued, "Don't worry, I will help you get back at those louts later," she smiled a bit wider, gently pushing the dagger from its currently threatening position.

"As for you, Callavan, was it? It would probably be wise to cool your head as well. Wouldn't want to get into too much fun tonight, now would we?" she said with a wink.

The setting changes from Calisma to Paetax

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Gallow Ó Tuathaláin Character Portrait: Hayley Furdiligit. Character Portrait: Narenia Halen
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The innocent monk had thanked her and smiled brightly. It was only returned by Nari. One friendly action deserved another. It would seem though, that everything from here on would spiral downwards.
The priest had overspoken and of course did the woman with armor - Mirabella - taken offense to it. After a short verbal insult had she left the room only to have the priest trailing after her.
I wonder how that's going to turn out. Nari thought and raised her eyebrow. The 'merchant' had proved her temper to be that of...well.. She was hot headed to say the least. Not a moment had it taken for her to take offense and retaliate to everything the mage said. Nari's first intention was to go over to the unbelieveable rude man and tell him how exactly you talk to a woman. She had went from the red-haired woman to a wench and a whore in a considerable short amount of time. The monk with the wounded hand was still remained in her seat and kept calm for the moment. As she looked with her piercing green eyes, so did a few others in the room. A man that seemed troubled and acted like he didn't really care much for what was going on, the prince himself and the girl with the lute. For now at least.

The other man, the other ranger, or that was what Nari would guess him to be, spoke to the prince now. Just within earshot, his female counterpart could her what he was saying.
Either that man is stupid or he's been paid to do that. She thought, expecting a blow from the prince's sword any moment now. But nothing happened. All that came from him was a bone chilling warning, hopefully effective enough to make the foolish man step down. How quickly this had descended into a mere brawl and petty squabble. This wasn't what she had come here for, not at all. Nari wanted to stop the fighting and make everyone pipe down, but feared that because of her proud nature she would end up holding a knife to someone's throat. Especially the mage if he so much as dared calling her a whore.
A smile crept across her face as the innocent little monk stood and approached the bickoring couple in an attempt to end their dispute. How unlikely and unexpected that was.
Maybe she can stop them now that they seem to completely ignore their prince's command. Nari had thought that his words would have an effect on them, alas it seemed to go in one ear and out the other. Were they even aware of his presense still?

A deep sigh came from the female ranger as she looked around. The mage was surrounded by three women, two of them trying to calm the red-head down and the prince was companied by the foolish insultant. It still hadn't settled with her how a man could be so reckless as to insult a man like him, even Nari had more brain than that. The troubled man had spoken as well, but his words too seemed to fly right past everyone. Everyone except Nari at least. She nodded at him and tilted her head with a shrug and a sigh. She didn't say anything to him as he had already sat down.
In fear of losing her own temper and seeing this group worsen, making their quest seem even more impossible, the ranger woman walked towards the prince this time. He had this thing about him. Something that demanded respect, but Nari wouldn't give respect unless it was returned. And there was the fact that everytime someone made a quick move or the like, his hand went to the hilt of his sword.
"My prince."she started. "Pardon my interruption, but I fear that neither of us had expected the outcome of this meeting. Perhaps a bucket of ice cold water would cool their heads?" Nari smiled half joking as she nodded in respect to him, letting her piercing green eyes settle on the orbs in his head. "Or maybe we should - pardon me - you should give them a choice? If this nonsense can't be stopped, then there's no sense in going on this quest either." Nari leaned on her bow, glancing over at the other ranger. She awaited an answer as she too hoped that the feud and fight behind her would cease and end soon. Her patience was wearing thin.
Thank whatever gods that at least my temper isn't as bad as hers. her mind went and her eyes settled upon the red haired 'merchant' once again, before returning to the prince.

The setting changes from Paetax to Calisma

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Hayley Furdiligit. Character Portrait: Callavan Sole
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Hayley stood there, just behind the mage she couldn't remember the name right now with her dagger up and ready to strike. A lot of things happened quickly. The stupid, fat, old, perverted, drunken priest started his random insults. Hayley was going to switch victims and stab him first, he asked for it. That was when the warrior woman, Mirabella, or something like that. Got up, yelled at them and made a small speech to make them stop fighting then burst outside, followed by the big pile of alcoholic crap shortly after. A little stunned by the events, Hayley simply held her dagger not knowing what to do. The prince and the tall guy, Hayley had no idea of his name, intervened at their own turns. They were right, Hayley was not getting paid if she killed anyone right now. She was going to let it go when the worthless mage started some more insults.

'Enough, I'm killing you.' Hayley thought, raising her dagger for a single strike to his back. But then the monk woman appeared beside them, asking for them to stop fighting, in a gentle way. Startled, Hayley forgot she was going to kill the mage and just stood there for a couple of seconds once more. The young bard also got to them, reasoning with Hayley, she slowly pushed her hand down, Hayley let it go and put the dagger away. "Someday i will kill you both." Hayley whispered to the mage before turning away from him. "Don't stay near this pile of magic crap." She warned both the monk and the bard. Walking quickly, trying to be as far away from the troublemaker and mister beer gut as possible, she would end up killing them if they spoke again.

Hayley wasn't surprised to find herself planning another assassination when she finally sat down on a table on the opposite side to the bar.

The setting changes from Calisma to Paetax

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Hayley Furdiligit. Character Portrait: Callavan Sole
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Fueled by booze, rage and magic; Callavan was prepared to incinerate everything that stood behind him, so infuriated he was with this 'merchant'. His focus centered on her, there was no bar, no people, nothing, just him and the 'merchant'. He didn't act, instead he waited he to see what she would do. Her dagger was raised as if to strike, exactly what he had been waiting for. A grin spread across his face, what little of it could be seen through his beard. The flood gates that had been holding his magic back folded, his hand was engulfed in flames ready to burst forth. A yellow blur entered his periphery, the monk. The 'merchant' faltered, he saw his chance, an easy shot. The monk's words hit him be he took action, he faltered, the flames held study. The world returned around him, slowly at first, others had been trying to stop him he realized, their words might as well have been directed to a rabid dog.

Now the bard entered, her words shamed him slightly, but the angered still bubbled. The dagger had disappeared though, so with a begrudging sigh the flames flickered and dissipated. Hands raised over his head he said, ”Very well, I concede,” He grunted at the 'merchant's' threat, turning around to watch her go. He considered thumbing his nose at her, but didn't.

Satisfied that the 'merchant' would keep away from him, for now anyways, he turned his attention to the monk and bard. ”I suppose I should thank the two of you for stepping in. I would have likely done something foolish otherwise,” He raised his mug then paused, holding it to his lips, before setting it down without taking a drink. Recent events suggested that it was perhaps not the best of ideas. He continued, ”I wouldn't trust her, were I you. While I may be a rash, crude drunk, I've yet to pull a blade on a stranger for mere words. She is hiding something and I doubt it is in any of our interest. Tread carefully around her.”

”Enough, Thovian.” Callavan turned back to the prince, unsure if he meant him or the 'merchant'. He listened and watched as the prince left. Did he still want to take part of this foolishness? The pay would be good, but then so would his chances of having his throat slit while he slept. Of course, the former was just as likely anywhere else with the effect he seemed to have on strangers. And the prince did offer to supply new equipment. He was short on enchanting tools, not having the coin to buy more, and getting more now would make finding work later simpler. Eh, what the hell. he concluded, I can always disappear when things take a turn for the worse. He glanced towards the 'merchant'. Which may not take all that long

Swinging his pack around, he rooted through it, retrieved a small piece of vellum and some cloth wrapped charcoal and jotted down a quick list of tools starting with what he needed to stock up on.

-Vellum and parchment
-Ink, charcoal and chalk
-String and threads of varying quality

Then he finished with whatever could be useful down the road.
-Various chisels and files for stone and metal inscriptions
-Tools for leather carving
-Black and white tempera paints, as well as a brush to go with them

He didn't expect to receive all of these, but even the simplest of these would enable to create a greater variety of enchantments. The note was passed to the barkeep, and Callavan turned away from the bar. For now it seemed best to not expose his back.

The rest of the day was his to have, it seemed. He had been employed, which meant the job hunting he had planned was no longer necessary. His supplies would be taken care of for him, which meant no shopping and less coin lost. His belly was full for now, so there was little need to search for food. It seemed the self declared thief was of a different opinion and left to eat elsewhere. Callavan decided to stay at the pub for now. Perhaps he could get to know his new found coworkers better, some of them leastways.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Xan Hallister Character Portrait: Hayley Furdiligit. Character Portrait: Narenia Halen Character Portrait: Callavan Sole
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#, as written by Deallo
To be honest, Nel was terribly nervous as she tried to talk the fight in the tavern down, but was relieved as the bard, Acacia, effortlessly swooped in and managed to talk the merchant and the mage down. The monk was surprised at how effortlessly she had used her silver tongue. Not that she would know what a silver tongue is anyway. Before the merchant went off, she warned not to stay near the "pile of magic crap", which prompted Nel to check left up the heel of her foot and check the soles of her sandals. Looked pretty clean. Unless it was magical. Confused, she turned around for some explanation, and Callavan's beard started to thank the two of them and before sitting down, insinuated the merchant was hiding something. Nel wasn't as affected by his warning; mainly because she understood one would have to hide things so thieves wouldn't steal them.

During the mini-conflict, the prince promptly voiced his disapproval towards everyone, except Mirabella, and left rather dramatically, swooshing his red cape around. It was a pretty cape. His chiding, although not meant for Nel herself, still managed to pull her spirits down. Despite that, she understood fairly well that the adventure would be postponed for tomorrow, although why they didn't go now while everyone was here was still a mystery to her. Quickly though, she could see the group being torn apart, one half going out the door to see the "dancing dragon" and the other half...staying. In the midst of a clawing need for fresh air, she as well, wanted to leave but was at the counter with a piece of parchment, trying to hastily scrawl and write things that she would need. Her writing, despite her life as a monk, was atrocious...BUT! If one could squint their eyes and tilt their head to the side it would read:

Bandages

Whether or not it was illegible would be up to whoever would read it. Had it been any other time, she would have looked with awe at the feathered pen, but she quickly set it aside and joined the group just as the ranger was sharing her nickname. Nel gave a quick bow to Mirabella, having already crossed with the ranger, and since the warrior was closer then the thief. "Hello. I'm Nelinia but call me Nel." Before she could have a chance to respond, the monk ran back to her table, grabbed the quarterstaff that nearly slipped her mind, and came back to the group without so much as a huff of air escaping her. She bounced around on the balls of her feet excitedly, grin plastered on her face, eagerly awaiting the trip to the Dancing Dragon.

Although this may sound crazy she's never seen a Dancing Dragon before!

The setting changes from Paetax to Calisma

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Xan Hallister Character Portrait: Hayley Furdiligit. Character Portrait: Narenia Halen Character Portrait: Callavan Sole
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#, as written by slcam
As Hayley walked away, Acacia let out a small sigh. She was glad the monk girl had stepped in, as her simple words seemed to have as much effect as Acacia's own. Of course, the angry red head had only left after giving another death threat to the mage. Just another thing to worry about, Acacia thought as she frowned after her. She had also seemed to threaten her and the monk with her "Don't stay near this pile of magic crap." warning.
However, as she saw the monk's confused reaction to this, Acacia laughed softly. She seemed as though she thought the "merchant" literally meant crap. Acacia began to wonder if she had seen much outside of the... mone... something. Acacia frowned as she couldn't quite find the name. Usually her memory was nearly perfect.

Oh well, she thought with a sigh, again smiling as the mage began to thank them. He also warned them about trusting her, especially in light of recent events. Acacia could only agree. She did seem to have quite the temper. He then walked to the bar to write down his list. Acacia figured she should probably do so as well. She had been expecting that they would be on their way today, but she didn't question the prince's decision. It only seemed wise that they should cool off a bit. Acacia just hoped the whole journey wouldn't be like this.

She heard Mirabella's invitation to the Dancing Dragon. After a moment, Acacia decided she might as well join them since there was not much else to do at this point. She walked calmly to her former position, grabbing her lute and thinking about what exactly they would need for something like this. The prince had already said that they would be supplied with food, horse, water and supplies, so she probably only really needed to mention specifics. She walked up to the bar and got a piece of paper. She had gotten quite used to traveling during the day and staying at inns for the night. She didn't have a good bedroll anymore, so that would be a good thing to include. However, even as she checked a few of her pockets, she could think of nothing else.

  • Bedroll.

Well, I guess that will do, she thought, handing the paper to the barkeep before heading out of the Black Vagabond. Now just to figure out where this Dancing Dragon was. Acacia fortunately had enough money for a good meal and a night at a small inn, but after that she would be pretty much broke. At least she wouldn't have to worry much about that as long as they did indeed leave tomorrow. She stopped a young woman, who gave her directions to the inn. She soon found it, walked in and quickly walked over to those from the "adventurers' group" as she had begun thinking of it. At the table was Mirabella, Xan, Narenia, and Nelinia.

"Mind if I join you?" she said, taking a seat beside Mirabella as the waitress came over. She smiled at those at the table. When the server looked to her she told her in a certain voice, a slight smile on her face, "I will have venison stew as well, with some tea please."

The setting changes from Calisma to Paetax

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Xan Hallister Character Portrait: Narenia Halen
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#, as written by KuroRyu
"Venison Stew" Xan repeated out loud, still in the wandering state of mind. He wasn't quite sure what kind it was, but if they have what is deemed the best then it might be worth a taste. He came back to reality as the sound of music started to fill the air. It was soft at first, but as they came closer to the source the true volume of the music started to hit. It was quite loud, he could actually feel the sound of the music as it hit him outside of the door. He allowed the others to enter the pub first. He stood looking at the building and the sign that had its name carved into it as it lightly swung above the door. It looked as if it would be falling off at any moment, ready to hit the head of someone that entered to left at the wrong time. As those that were in front of him made their entry, he followed behind, the music felt as if it had gotten softer as they entered but it was still quite loud. He took his time getting to their chosen table, for some reason his eye kept wandering around the pub.

He was about to pull out his seat to sit when he heard a voice that came from behind. Another had decided to join the group, the bard Acacia, as she sat he wondered if anyone else were to come and looked back towards the door. In the back of his mind he was wondering if anyone leaving would get hit over the head by the sign outside that might fall. He amused himself with the thought before he sat in his chair. The server had already begun to take orders, but Xan wasn't quite sure what to get. The recommendation of the Venison stew tempted him, but he also wanted to know what else there was. He folded his legs in onto the chair, placing both hands in his lap as he thought for a moment.

"I guess I shall take some of the Venison Stew as well," he paused for a moment, "And anything that has a good amount of chicken in it was well" he said with a smile. He had only eaten chicken once or so, but he couldn't forget the taste of it. Or perhaps the flavor came more from the sauces that it was covered in instead of the meat itself, but either way it couldn't hurt to try some again. "And anything that has a sweet flavor as a drink" he finished, he wasn't quite sure of anything they had, and if this was going to be his last decent meal for a while, why not spoil himself a bit. With the amount of coin he had before, added together with the amount that Narenia had given him, he should be able to pay the tab for his meal.

After the order of his meal was complete he started to think about where to sleep tonight. It was very likely that all the money he had would be going into the meal so he knew he couldn't stay at an inn. Perhaps he should sleep somewhere close to the city gates where they were to meet again. Perhaps within a large tree near the area, he liked to be off the ground when he had to sleep outside, and if it had enough leaves those would make a nice pillow as well. He shrugged off the thought for a moment, he would find a comfortable enough place to sleep when he had to. For now it was best to enjoy the meal and the company.

"So, what is that brought you all to the decision of going on this quest?" he asked, wanting to start up some conversation.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Xan Hallister Character Portrait: Narenia Halen
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#, as written by Deallo
How could one not trust water? Nel thought as Mira told her she could trust it; a thought taking her back to the tavern sipping her glass of water. She pushed aside any worries of it for now and immediately thought of the Dancing Dragon. What did it look like? Was it a grand dragon? A small dragon? What colours decorated its skin? Music tickled the monk's ears as questions spiraled inside her head, growing louder and louder with every step she took towards the structure that advertised the "Dancing Dragon" upon its entrance. Who wouldn't advertise their dancing dragon?

To her extreme disappointment, the music wasn't being played by a dancing dragon, nor was there a dancing dragon at site in the establishment. Then she remembered the warrior's words: . “The Dancing Dragon is rumored to serve all sorts of fare, if stew and mead aren’t your taste… Of course! The dragon must be a cook! How delightful to eat food made by a dragon. Pondering what to order, the "venison stew" seemed to be a popular meal meal for everyone, despite the fact that Nel knew what "venison" was. Nel tried to look up at the waitress but immediately looked down at her feet in discomfort at the waitress's lack of...clothing across her chest.

Her head came back up as a familiar voice stood out from the music of the bards playing; a bard. Specifically, their own bard, Acacia. After she ordered, venison stew, what a surprise, Nel would put in her own order, generally playing monkey see monkey do with Mira. "Black Mead...and what's in the venison stew?"

"A little bit of everything and some deer, of course." The buxom waitress responded. Nel couldn't contain the horror that slipped through her lips in a mere whisper. Deer?
"Fresh deer from just this morning." Nel felt sick to her stomach as soon as she said that. What did the poor deer ever do to get eaten, cut into pieces and put into the fir-just thinking about it felt like she was going to hurl the lackluster contents of her insides. "Some bread please."

Amidst the sickening feeling, she could hear the honest thief, Xan, raise a question about why they were going on this quest. The monk cleared her throat and waited a few seconds for the colour to return to her face before she can speak. "If the king dies, it could be disastrous for Calisma if he's replaced with someone...else. Although most of my brothers and sisters couldn't care less. Apparently, as she's been told in the monastery, the possibility that disaster would occur in his death, was preposterous but she wouldn't believe it.

The setting changes from Paetax to Calisma

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Xan Hallister Character Portrait: Narenia Halen
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Much to her pleasure, the iron clad woman greeted her and decided to let Nari know that she also possessed a sense of humor. It fell in good soil with the ranger woman as she returned her smile and nodded, looking at the ground for a moment. How pleasant it felt conversing with this woman. Serious when need be but also knew how to lighten the mood.
"Ah yes, you're right." Nari said, delighted that she had decided to use her nickname. "Likewise." Her smile hadn't faded yet as she nodded in appreciation to Mira.
The next one to join them was the monk, Nel, who would first bow to Mira and in the next moment she ran back for a forgotten item and returned. Nari couldn't help smiling brightly at her. The innocent little girl seemed overly excited about something, but what it was remained unknown for the moment. It really doesn't take much to excite her. she thought to herself.

She had listened intently as Mira had told them about what the Dancing Dragon served. When they had all settled and was approached by the waitress, two things amused Nari to the point that she had to looked down to hide her smile. The first one was the fact that the eyes of this waitress never left Xan, which was understandable enough. The other was that innocent little Nel seemed to be made very uncomfortable by the lack of clothing over the waitress' breast. Her eyes met Mira's once and Nari looked away to settle her face again. "Black mead and stew please." Nari gestured towards the others to indicate that she would have the same as them. Venison stew seemed popular at the moment, or maybe it was because it was a nice meal and they were leaving the next day. The next voice she heard was that of Acacia. The beautiful bard smiled at the people surrounding the table, and ordered venison stew and tea.
Nari gave her a smile and a nod to let her know she was welcome. She had been one of those not to react rashly back at the Black Vagabond. At least there were a few cool heads among them.

"What is it, Nelinia?" she asked the monk when the waitress had left, only to return at some point with their orders. A smirk played at the corners of her mouth as she spoke, but Nari did her best to hide them. She didn't want to make the monk more uncomfortable, but a little fun couldn't hurt anyone. One slightly saddening thought crossed her mind. This monk seemed so unaware of how the world around her worked. What if when she found out, some things would be too much for her?

Xan had decided to strike up a conversation though, asking what they were all doing there, joining a quest like this. Nari decided to let everyone else speak first, thinking that they might forget about her if she kept quiet about her. If they all really wanted to know, she'd find out who that was and if not, well, nothing lost.

The setting changes from Calisma to Paetax

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Xan Hallister Character Portrait: Narenia Halen
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#, as written by Celedia
Mirabella kept an eye on the door for any stragglers but the only other form to walk into the Dancing Dragon was Acacia. When the Bard Girl sat down beside her, she nodded her head towards the woman and smiled once more. “Of course you are welcome to join us. After tomorrow, none of us will have much of an option in regards to the company we keep. Will we?”

Though she didn’t laugh outwardly, one would be able to tell by her tone and general demeanor that she was in high spirits. Adventure called to her like gold called to a thief and with an honorable task being their new purpose, she couldn’t help but feel a bit jovial. Especially since she hadn’t expected anyone to attempt to bond with one another after the scene from the Black Vagabond, instead she had thought everyone would go their separate ways only to meet at the gates with either apathy or distrust.

Some of the others went about their orders and Mirabella finally let loose with a small chuckle at some of their questions and requests. Xan had simply asked for a sweet drink and poor Nel had turned green the moment she heard what was in venison stew before opting for bread instead. It made Mirabella ponder for a moment if the monk was vegetarian, so she spoke up to order a few more things for Nel since she wouldn’t be eating stew like the rest of them.

“Actually, miss, could you bring her a cheese platter with bread and pears? And instead of the mead, perhaps she’d enjoy Granatus in apple wine? Perhaps two mugs full of it, I believe that Xan would enjoy its taste as well.”

So they wouldn’t think she overstepped herself, she explained the drink to both Nel and Xan as the waitress went off to fetch everyone’s food. “It is pomegranate boiled down and made into a syrup that is then added to whatever you wish with a bit of sugar. It takes away some of the bitterness of whatever you’re drinking, making it a bit easier to handle.

As the conversation turned to the quest at hand and their reasons for joining, the petite monk started out with her explanation and when silence fell upon the table once more, Mira gave her own response. “As you know, my people are fighters and warriors. Without any full scale wars, we have little to do and so our skills go wasted. I doubt we will find the Panacea without running into at least an enemy or two, so I pledge to use my skills to protect the rest of the party.”

Her eyes fell upon both Nari and Acacia next, wondering if they would share their stories but the tavern wench was back quickly, depositing a mug in front of each of the party members before sweeping back into the kitchen to gather their food. It wasn’t until the woman had come back out and set their stews and such upon the table that Mira turned her gaze first to Nari who had been quiet throughout most of the conversation thus far.

“And what of you, Nari? I didn’t expect one of the woodland folk to join us in our cause, in all honesty. It seems that even during the Wars that there was little that threatened nature. Or have you not always been a hunter?”

The setting changes from Paetax to Calisma

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Xan Hallister Character Portrait: Narenia Halen
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#, as written by KuroRyu
Xan sat and listened eagerly to everyone's own explanation for joining this quest into the unknown. He was happy that they were opening up themselves to this small group of strangers turned comrades, and his face showed it. He turned his attention to the mug that had been placed before him, he sat and stared at it for a moment before reaching out for it. The explanation about the drink did make it sound sweet, and so did the smell, but he was still a bit hesitant to drink it. He wouldn't know if he would like it or not, but to take a taste is the only way to decided such a thing. He brought it up to his lips and filled his mouth with the drink, swishing it around in his mouth a bit to get a complete taste of the drink before swallowing. It wasn't bad, although a bit of a bitter after taste, it was drinkable. He set the drink down on the table just as the food they had ordered was set down. He was glad that he could finally get something into his stomach, and his enthusiastic way of eating showed it. Although his mind and stomach may have been on the meal, his ears were still open to hear the talk around him, he himself didn't talk much, mostly because his mouth was usually full.

His stomach full, and the sun gone and the moon out, Xan thought it time to go. He enjoyed the time he had spent with the group, but it had to come to an end, a good nights sleep was needed for what was to occur the next day. His hand shuffled around his pocket for a moment before pulling out all the coin he had and setting it on the table.

"Should be enough" he said as the coins scattered about. "I should be going, finding a good place to sleep won't be easy" he stretched his body as he got up from his chair, a yawn escaping his mouth. He gave a smile and a wave as he turned to leave the group, "I'll be seeing you all tomorrow, I hope" he said as he made his way to the door. As he pushed the door open, the cool night air managed to sneak it's way in, stopping when the door was fully open. The sun had completely disappeared and the moon was clearly visible. He looked up at it for a moment, taking in the sight of the moon, it looked closer than usual, but that could just be his imagination. Another yawn escaped him as he started to walk off, towards the city gates where everyone was to meet. He knew sleeping there would be the best idea, whether he would sleep in or not he would be awakened and in time to go without the fear of being left behind.

He stopped his travels in front of a medium sized tree just to the right of the gates, it wasn't to large and the lower branches seemed more than thick enough to bear his weight. Not only that the fact that it wasn't to far off the ground would mean he wouldn't be injured should he roll off the branch, which had quite a good chance of happening. He found a small bush nearby, it was young, the not only the leaves, but the branches as well were soft. He pulled it from the ground, and stuffed it into the hood of his cloak, a make shift pillow for himself. With a few slight grunts he pulled himself onto a low branch, pulling up his hood and laying his head on it as he laid back on the branch. He gave one last yawn before closing his eyes and falling into a deep and comfortable sleep.

--------

Xan was awoken by the loud toll of a bell, the first bringing him back to consciousness, the second nearly causing him to fall out of the tree that he had been sleeping in. Somehow, he managed to catch himself with his right leg before his body made an impression on the ground below. Quite the way to wake up, his right eye opened to look around, his left eye of course closed and it felt as if a dream was still being played within the darkness of his dead left eye. He looked around, towards the gate to find that the Prince was already ready and waiting for those to come, as well as a cloaked man with quite the beard.

"Good morning" Xan called, holding in a yawn, he gave a forced smile and wave. He had just awoken, he wouldn't have the same level of energy as he did yesterday until another hour or so had passed. The look in his good eye said it all, he would be dead to the world till he fully awoke. He freed his right leg that was hooked to the tree branch, causing him to fall to Earth, a twist of his body he landed on his feet which soon gave way and landing him in a sitting position. His back was to the awaiting men as he gave a loud yawn, reaching back he pulled the remnants of the little bush that he had used as a pillow for the night. He pushed himself up off the ground with a grunt, one final yawn as he scratched the back of his head. Pulling several leaves and twigs that had settled in his mess of hair he made his way closer, taking a look at the well equipped horses that had been prepared. He had never ridden a horse before, so this should be an interesting, if not quite the embarrassing, experience for him.

"It's finally the day" he said with a stretch, "I'm so excited" the words not really matching his sleepy and dull tone. A sleepy smile was spread on his face, it was an exciting day for him from today onwards he would be able to call himself an adventurer, if he survived that is. Truthfully he wasn't worried about dying along the journey, he was quite confident that he would be able to hold his own, even in the midst of battle. He wondered if there were any monster out there. Although childish, he still dreams and hopes that the creatures that he had heard in myths and stories existed within this world. Even though the realistic part of his brain told him that it was impossible, the child within him kept the dream alive. His smile widened a bit as he looked out the gates, "The unknown is calling" he said to himself with a happy laugh.

The setting changes from Calisma to Paetax

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Xan Hallister Character Portrait: Narenia Halen
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#, as written by Celedia
Mirabella continued on with their meal after allowing both Nari and Acacia to respond to Xan’s inquiry about their reasoning for joining this epic quest. A ranger and a bard, both would have to have entertaining reasons for joining and as the warrior continued to listen to and feed into the conversation, she couldn’t help but feel a little curious.

These four seemed a personable bunch but what of the others that had stayed behind or gone their separate ways? Were they devious and trying not to befriend the others in preparation for their subsequent betrayal? Were they simply shy? As a matter of fact, after she had left the Priest outside of the Black Vagabond and returned inside to pledge her sword to the Prince, she never saw him slip back inside behind her. Odd, that.

Still, she didn’t let such things worry her and after the meal was finally over with, Xan tossed some coins upon the table and took her leave whereas Mirabella held up her hand to the remaining three to prevent them from doing the same.

“Please let me pay for our meal. In celebration of newfound allies and for safe travels on the road we have ahead of us.” As the waitress came by, Mirabella pressed a good bit of coin into her hand and then stood up, stretching her aching muscles.

Bidding good night to Acacia and Nari, the warrior argued a good bit with Nel who apparently felt guilty about the larger meal that Mira had asked for and provided for the young monk. Yet, the warrior knew that the first day of travel was always one of the hardest and the tiny yellow-robed figure would need more energy than a simple loaf of bread would have provided. So she quieted her fears and eventually they settled upon an agreement that they would share a room to save coin. There had been no way that Mirabella would’ve allowed Nel to wander off on her own to find lodgings. The girl looked like she could hold herself in a fight but she also screamed of innocence and naivete. Protection was one of the few things Mirabella was good at, so she extended this to the younger monk and they climbed the stairs to their accommodations.

Though Nel fell quickly asleep, the Triansui stayed up a bit longer to take care of her armor before she turned in for the night. Taking off first her breastplate, then each remaining piece of plate, she sat down at the small table provided by the inn and polished each piece. Cleaning it and inspecting it for any repairs she might have to make in the near future, the warrior did the same to her many weapons until finally the candle was almost burning out and her eyes were growing weary from being up for so long. The last piece of armor to remove was the chain shirt which she wore under her breastplate but over her muslin tunic and she draped that upon the back of the chair, yawning once before she slipped into the bed on the side furthest from the monk. Sleep took her and she did not awaken until the sun was already high in the sky on the following day.

When her eyes fluttered open, she first noticed that the monk was gone. With a practiced ease, she slipped into her armor, strapped on her weapons and shield and gathered her meager belongings into her rucksack. Feeling refreshed from the night of rest in a fine and comfortable bed, the Triansui went out of the tavern and found the stables first. A few more easy errands came next after retrieving her steed and by the time that the bells were tolling their trio of tones, Mirabella was already riding up to the gate upon her chestnut mare and the crowd that had gathered around the Prince dispersed for her to join the rest of the mounts.

Finding that a trio of familiar faces were already in attendance, Mira nodded to Xan and Nel before moving her horse so that she was closer to Akdov, the Priest so that she could speak with him.

“I am glad to see that you have decided to join us, Priest.” Her countenance was unreadable as she prepared for the journey ahead and her demeanor didn’t seem quite as celebratory as the evening before. “Shall we have you as a true ally, from this day forth, Akdov?” She wanted to know that they could all trust him. That he wouldn’t try to fracture and plot and plan as he had done the previous day. She wouldn’t judge any man for watching out for himself in times of turmoil but she also did not want to turn to him for assistance only to be rebuffed.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Xan Hallister Character Portrait: Alice Sangera Character Portrait: Narenia Halen
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#, as written by slcam
Acacia nearly burst out laughing at Nelinia's apparant embarrassment, and after Narenia's comment she did. Her laugh sounded almost as musical as her voice, causing a few in the inn to turn and look for the source of the sound. "Yes, I couldn't imagine what the problem could be," she said, still chuckling sofly, her dark eyes shining. Her thoughts tuned back to Mirabella, however. She seemed to easily take charge, quickly figuring out the needs of others and taking care of them. Acacia knew this was a quality of a great leader, but she instead focused on the possibly irritating side of having someone directing what you did. Hopefully she doesn't get too bossy, Acacia thought, a slight smile on her face. She listened to the music for a moment, noting the song before focusing her attention back on the group.

Soon the food was brought and Acacia eagerly smelled the stew. It was not bad at all and left her happy at least. The same went for the tea. This would have to be another place to remember when she came again to Paetax. She listened with interest to the answers of the others, especially Narenia, before answering for herself. "What brought me into the meeting was pure curiosity," she said, a grin on her face as she pulled out her new top and spun it on the table a couple times. "What kept me there is a different story. Sure, helping out the Prince and saving the kingdom is nice and all, but what really drew me in was the entertaining people. It is sure to be quite the adventure, I will tell you that much. Might even get a good story or two out of it." she grinned, snatching the still spinning top off of the table and stuffing it back into one of her pockets. Not exactly all my reasons, but hey, who needs to know everything right away, she thought, a smile on her face keeping her thoughts from coming through as usual.

She finished off the rest of her tea and was just about to pay and leave as Xan had, even standing up halfway, when Mirabella offered to pay. "Thank you, that is very kind. In that case, I will be off. See ya tomorrow," she said, sweeping a dramatic bow before spinning around and exiting the inn. Hmm, nice little group, she thought, breathing in the cool night air before heading off. I guess it is back to Golden Grape, but this time as a paying customer.

The plump innkeeper was surprised to see her back again, and asked how long her stay was extended, an almost greedy look in his eye. She quickly explained she was only staying for the night, rented a room, and headed up. She did her normal stretches before preparing for bed. She fell into the small bed with a sigh, thinking about her exciting day before falling asleep.
---------------------

The next morning she woke a little later than usual, a couple hours before noon. She went down to the main room, ate breakfast and relaxed a while. When it was closer to noon, she headed out. She quickly wound her way through the streets. Her attention was caught by a small girl with dark hair who was running exuberantly past her, suddenly falling to the ground just ahead of her. Something about her seemed familiar, but Acacia couldn't figure out why. Before she could check if the girl was alright, she got up. She seemed to also be headed to the gates. Acacia quickly walked up to the group, just behind the girl. She gave a small wave to those gathered. Now she was beginning to remember. This was the girl, a mage probably by her seal, who hadn't really introduced herself. Acacia walked up to the boulder where she sat, quickly introducing herself, though less dramatically than at the meeting.

"Hello, I am Acacia Winn. I suppose you're also going on this 'adventure,'" she said, her lips turning up in a friendly smile. "You're a mage right? What is your name?" After a moment she added in a more hushed voice, "I could show you how to fall a bit more gracefully if you would like," with a wink and a smile.

The setting changes from Paetax to Calisma

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Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Alice Sangera
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The random groves of the boulder kept Alice entertained as she waited for the Prince to start speaking. She wanted to know, would she get to ride a horse? The thought itself haunted her. What a horrible fate it would be if she had to walk instead. A sigh escaped her parted lips. But there was also that sickening feeling she was getting in the pit of her stomach. The first meeting had not turned out well, and the priest didn't seem very happy. Was this going to futile? A waste of time?

Alice hadn't even notice the woman that had walked in behind her, nor when she came up to her. The first thing she thought was, does she want to sit? When the woman spoke, Alice looked up. She remembered her instantly. It was the bard with that beautiful instrument, the one that had offered Bard Girl as another name. The woman introduced herself again, but there really was no need. She knew the girls name but it seemed that she did not know Alice's name. Well, that wasn't surprising. For a moment, Alice said nothing. She stared at the bard with her brown eyes but finally, her lips parted and a sentence came out. "My name is Alice Sangera." She smiled. But that smile was soon replaced as a red flush crept up her face. The bard had seen her fall! What a horrible thing. But her mind soon went on what she said next.

Gracefully?

In a house full of men, graceful wasn't something she focused on. Nor was it when she was practicing her magic at the guild. The Mage grinned. "How fun is it to be graceful? Wouldn't you rather whip out your sailors tongue and watch as people think you're the devils child?" Alice giggled. "It's much more fun, Bard Girl... but... I guess... graceful falling wouldn't be bad..." She shuffled to the side, leaving enough room for anyone that wanted to. Alice had guessed that she wanted to sit and that was why she was talking to Alice in the first place. But she wasn't complaining. For a moment Alice was silent. "What good what it be if I fell gracefully in the middle of battle? Will it leave my opponents speechless or memorized?" Alice tiled her head. "More importantly, will it be easier on my skin? I think I'll damage it if I keep falling like that." She looked over at her arms that were covered with her gloves, all the way up to her elbows. There wasn't much of a worry getting hurt. Her eyes trailed over to the bard. A question bubbled up, "Why are you going on this quest Bard Girl?" Alice smiled. "I'm going for fame." Now that her mouth had opened, it was going to be hard to shut up. "Why do you want to go? And, more importantly, are you going to play your instrument? I would love to hear you play. It looks beautiful." A smile fell upon her lips. "Acacia, was it? That's a lovely name. Your hair is lovely too. I tried to do that, but I can't wield a dagger, I recently found out." Alice giggled at how she was behaving. Like she would on a normal basis, really.

At the corner of her eyes, she spotted the red head that had been the center of attention at the bar fight, only yesterday. Oh, how was this going to turn out? Alice turned her head over to Acacia once more. She smiled.

The setting changes from Calisma to Paetax

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Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Alice Sangera Character Portrait: Callavan Sole
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#, as written by Celedia
Mirabella sighed deeply as the Priest replied. She had thought that he would take her words from the day before to heart and wake up with a renewed interest in the group as a whole... But perhaps she was asking too much of him. His last words spat out at her with a vehemence that she did not foresee and the shock of his reaction was apparent by the uncontrolled arching of her brows. Still, she let him respond to Nel before bothering to respond to him. Whatever he said angered the poor monk, causing her to clench her hands once more and set her jaw quite snugly before stalking away from them. Her eyes followed Nel for a moment before she spoke.

"A true ally, Priest, is one of the few things in life that you can explain perfectly and some people still would not understand the gist of what you are saying. A true ally, to me, is someone that you can count on and trust. Through roads both clear and sunny or murky and frightening. Someone that you can forge a relationship with that few others know. It is not only borne of battle but of any situation of strife or prolonged travel or even torturous endeavors. Yet, if you close yourself off from people before you truly give them a chance, then you alienate yourself. Tell me. Would your God of merriment wish this for you?"

She shrugged, an action that was barely perceptible in her heavy torso armor and another soft, forceful exhalation escaped her lips as more people began to filter into the clearing. The young mage had moved to sit upon a large boulder and Acacia, the Bard girl, had sidled up to her and initiated conversation. Then the other mage appeared, chewing on some sort of odd pastry as he nodded towards both herself and the Priest. With little left to say to either of the men, she clicked her tongue, urging her horse forward as the Prince began to speak.

Rydas mentioned packs prepared for those with mounts already and Mirabella rode forward to the small pile, dismounting easily and picking through the saddlebags to find what was hers. She had a small list so when combined with the basic necessities such as food and water, there were only three packs that were hers. Loading them up onto her chestnut mare, she climbed up into the saddle once more before trotting casually over until she was closer to the Prince.

"Not to start this mission off poorly or with any hint of disrespect, my liege..." she started, keeping her eyes forward on the others as they gathered either their mounts or their packs and began to prepare for the quest at hand. "But which way are we riding? What information are we going off of?" Finally her honey brown gaze settled upon the Prince with curiosity. "I must admit I have never worked with so little information before."

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Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Feylon Haradas
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#, as written by Deallo
Arms behind her neck, legs reaching all the way up to the air, back arching all the way to the ground until her hands caught the ground before her head, the monk stretched, twisted and turned every muscle in her body. The practice revealed how immensely flexible the seemingly tiny girl was and the euphoric relief of the exercise managed to stay her conscious off the priest.

It was official. Nel would despise the priest for many, many days to come.

Amidst the stretching, the red haired merchant had arrived, and a good morning escaped her lips. "Morning" Nel volleyed back to her, peering back to Beardman -Callavan who was being greeted by the priest. How could he even stand him? Nel's ill-tempered thoughts were interrupted by Rydas' short speech, where some thought to be inspirational, and other thought it to be dribble, she thought it to be okay. Which brought up the next problem. Feylon now looked less bloodier then usual as well.

Which horse would she go on?

Matter of fact how did you get on a horse? Their skin certainly wasn't hard enough to scale. Use their head as a step? Before Nel could make a choice, she turned around to see how everyone get on these animals, and saw how they raised one leg above the other to achieve the goal. The monk took some deep breaths before she could face her mount; a honey-sun colored horse with a dark mane. She knew it was hers because no-one was making a move to mount her. Nel put a soft hand on the horse's body and a huff from it's mouth startled her indefinitely. She closed her eyes as she awkwardly mounted the horse, the feel of leather rather comfortable, but when she opened her eyes the monk realized she was on the wrong side. About to turn the other way, she swore someone call her name, Acacia, and waved her arm from atop the horse, instinctively pressing down her heels on the horse's side. The horse galloped and the reins jumped up and wrapped around Nel's neck, viciously forcing her off to the cobblestone, dragged.

Without truly knowing what transpired, Nel's shock was overridden by her training as hands gripped the reins around her neck while tumbled painfully against the floor, and somehow got on her feet. The heels of her sandals were dragged across the small distance, getting choked out by the rope now fully twisted around her neck, until her hands managed to find the reins again. Suddenly, she pulled on them to get slack on the vice-like grip the rope had on her in order to wiggle out, the horse's head pulled into the direction, stopped it's gallop, and stood on it's hind legs neighing, pulling Nel inches up in the air, literally hanging her. In this suspension by the reins, Nel pulled her body up with her arms that pulled her up from the dangling reins that connected her to the horse, swung her left leg back as far as it could reach, to her right shoulder and released the strike on the exposed throat of her torturous mount.

The horse dropped like a rock, leaving the monk to drop to her knees, quickly unraveling the reigns that blocked her air, and took a gasp of relief as soon as it was peeled off. Beads of sweat rolled down her crown as she promptly got back to her feet; obviously disturbed by the horrified look on her face. Her first taste of actual combat.

The setting changes from Paetax to Calisma

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Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Alice Sangera
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Alice had been disappointed, once more. Thirst for adventure? That was all? That was why she was risking her life? Sure, fame was a shallow reason to go, but adventure was the most played out. She never understood. Why was it so exciting to go on a suicide mission for only the adventure? It might make others a think of that person as a hero, but to Alice, they were always just... stupid. It didn't make anyone a hero to run around fighting beast of all kinds and coming back with scars just because they love going on an adventure. That wasn't something people did out of good will, it was their own selfish want. Alice liked to knit... that didn't make her a hero, not in this world, nor the knitting world. And if she thought she was one, then she was just silly. But Alice choose not to let the Bard in on her conversation that went in her head. Instead she just smiled. At least the Bard was going to play. That made it all the better. Who wouldn't prefer some entertainment while trying to kill themselves? Her grin enlarged when the Bard asked about her hair cutting techniques. It wasn't like she had a barber to cut her hair for her. Improvise! But before a word could get through her lips, the Prince started speaking. The Mage gave the Prince her full and undivided attention, that was more than she had ever given her lousy good-for-nothing teacher. She knew that it would be a matter of seconds before she forgot every world the man said. That left her with a could of options. To white what the man had said down, much like the Bard was doing, take her chances, or just follow everyone else. The last seemed the safest. The way he spoke left Alice in a dream. He was a Prince, he was used to this type of speech, he made it all sound like a fairy tail. Like every dream would come true if you went down that path. That no matter what, we would succeed and find our way back with that item of mystery. Even though she was in a trans sort of state, she still heard every word he said clearly. And in that little speech he made, there was no reference of where the destination would be. Only, that we would be going North, down that very path. The moment she snapped out of her dream, with her bearing a giant smile and the Mages looking at her with awe, she felt nothing but irritated. We were going on a quest for the King himself yet there was no information that truly mattered even hinted to them. Only that they would look for an object that would help the King come back to full health. Sure, they were not of the best of teams, sure they were not getting along with each other, but dammit, they deserve to know more... Or at least Alice did. She didn't get involved in the fight. Of course, she didn't really plan on getting involved with any fight... They were strong men and women, they could handle themselves. Alice would be there ready with bandages when they got injured. Someone needed to do that, Alice volunteered herself. Maybe... she didn't deserve to know the information.

The Mage sighed. There was no helping it. Others had stated their opinions on the amount of information they had as well. The Priest had even volunteered to stay. What a nice old man. With a smile, Alice swung her legs, leaping off the boulder. She was ready for a horse! This would be only her second time riding one. The first time shouldn't really count, since her brother had been riding with her. She had to go to the Guild somehow. When she came back, she rode one all on her own. At that time, her smile was stretched across her face. It was so exciting riding a horse. But thanks to her limited knowledge on horse riding, she rode... a little different that others would have. "Yes, Bard Girl, I cut my hair with a dagger. A mistake on my side, but my hair was in the way and there were no skilled hands to offer some assistance." Her eyes traveled to the row of horses that just stood there. "Let's choose one!" Giggling, Alice ran to the horses, grabbing Acacia by the hand, she herself went to a jet black mount. There was no splotch of any other color but the black of the night sky. It is beautiful! Excited as could be, the Mages hair flew up and down along with Alice that was now jumping in her spot next to the horse. Just when she was going to climb on, she spotted the rare yellow robed monk who was now battling with her own horse. At first, Alice waited. Someone would do something right? But no one stepped up. Images of getting trampled by the horse found their way into her mind. She couldn't help the monk. What if she died? She couldn't go near the beast. Her legs were already trembling at the thought. But the monk was no one to mess with. She kicked the mount where it hurt and the beast went down. Alice let out the breath she didn't even know she was holding. The monk was a strong one, that was for sure. She was almost tempted to pat the monk on her head and tell her what a wonderful job she had done. Alice loved it when people did that to her. But she didn't know the monk, so she had no right. The warrior woman would do it. She would calm down the monk. But for now, Alice faced a challenge of her own. Trying to get on the horse. Her height was no help!

The smell of burning wood circled around the Mage, the iris of her eye glowing, only a bit, no one would be able to see with the sun glaring at everyone. At a habit when she used Magic, her fingers twitched, hardly seen unless you looked close enough. She took in a large breath of air. Exhale. A faint glow surrounded her body. The little figure was hoisted off the ground, making herself float into the air and place herself on the horse. Afraid that she would too have to bare with the same experience, the Mage patted the long neck of her mount. "Don't go mad with me now boy. I'm going to name you even though we will part ways later. The name I shall bestow upon you is... Eclipse. Now that we have a mutual understanding, let's care for each other." Alice nodded, happy with the way things went, her smile had returned. She took the reins in her hands and she did only that. It was if she fell. "Go, Eclipse, in a circle." She spoke to the horse in her mind and the response she got was a full circle.

A also a "Worthless human." comment from the mount. That made Alice only giggle.

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Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Alice Sangera
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#, as written by slcam
Acacia was immediately pulled, more like dragged, over to the horses by Alice. For one so small, she did have some strength. Acacia gave a laugh at the small mage's excitement at her horse before quickly looking around for her own mount. Most of the horses had already been claimed so it should be easy to find the one that was hers. Suddenly, she noticed Nelinia having what seemed like a death match with her horse, the reins tangled about her neck. Acacia stood there shocked. She hadn't expected the monk to have such trouble, but it made sense that she wouldn't know much about horses. As the horse dropped, Acacia snapped out of her moment of shock and hurried over to the monk, only to be beat there by the priest. He, of all things, began lecturing the poor girl as the prince began explaining how to mount a horse. Acacia gave the priest a slightly disapproving look before brushing past, a concerned look in her eyes as she kneeled down by the monk.

"Are you alright Nelinia?" she asked softly, not caring about or hearing what Akdov said as she made sure the girl was alright. When she was sure she was alright, Acacia stood and offered a hand to help her up. She caught Akdov's offer to either lead Nelinia's horse or have her ride with him of all things. Acacia almost found this ridiculous not to mention a bit wrong. Already from yesterday's meeting and this morning, it was obvious that the priest had ticked the monk off. Not only that, but Nelinia was a young woman and he was practically an old man. Acacia began to wonder if the man liked young women as much as he liked his beer. She soon realized that she was staring at the priest with an almost disgusted look and she quickly averted her gaze.

And if she would prefer, she could ride with me. She quickly glanced at the priest to see if he had any reaction before continuing. "It might be more comfortable that riding with ...a man," she said after a moments pause. She looked around, quickly figuring out which horse was hers and smiling at Nelinia, trying not to look at Akdov. She still needed to figure out just what she felt about the man. She soon found her horse, a light red-brown mare with a mane of about the same color and a white blaze down her face. Since the prince seemed ready to leave, she mounted, ignoring his instructions without meaning to and mounting the horse more like a wall, putting both her hands on the saddle and lifting herself up, gently swinging her leg over, and then situating herself. The mare shifted slightly, looking at the girl before looking forward again with a huff and a foot stamp. It was just like she did at home, except the brown mare wasn't quite as wide as their old plow horse. She then realized that she needed to grab the reins, and she carefully leaned forward, holding the pommel tightly before gathering them in her hands. She then turned and waited for Nelinia's decision with a slight smile on her face. She was glad that they were finally starting this journey.

The setting changes from Calisma to Paetax

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Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur
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#, as written by Celedia
Mirabella narrowed her eyes in annoyance as the Prince ignored her query and began, instead, to lecture people on the proper ways to mount and ride a horse. Never before, even on jobs that were horribly managed, did she ever feel so uninformed as she did now. We ride north... That's helpful! She thought to herself somewhat sarcastically and drawing breath deeply within her lungs, she held the air momentarily before puffing it back out in a short burst.

North was quite vague, as far as she was concerned. There was a road heading out of the northern wall of Paetax, sure, but then it split off in a dozen different ways at a hundred different points along the road. They could head towards Vaekor, Orranli... Or if they were avoiding settlements of any kind they could still wander towards the Soch Mountains, Kon Falls, the Perpetual Frosts, the Lakes, the expansive forests.....


The Triansui stopped herself and instead, focused on the scene playing out before her. Hadn't she already reprimanded several people for their dismal attitudes? She put a stop to her train of thought before it soured her mood and waited for Nelinia to make her decision about who to ride with. Quite honestly, she didn't care either way. She had seen the little monk moving before and she had enough agility and grace to probably backflip right off of Mira's horse if the warrior was needed elsewhere in the midst of battle. And with the way she uppercut the horse, Mirabella was also pretty certain that Nel could take care of herself.

Though she mourned the loss of the fine steed that the Prince had no doubt paid handsomely for, the warrior still had a ghost of a smile playing across her arid lips. Surely the bard would have a hilarious tale to tell of the beginning of their adventure and the monk who had killed her own horse.

You just couldn't make this sort of thing up.

Listening first to Akdov plead his case, then Acacia came forth with her own proposal. All eyes seemed to be on the petite monk and/or the Prince. Either waiting to see who she would ride with or to await further instructions from the man in charge.

"I have no qualms, if you wish to ride with me, Nel. But perhaps you should ride with Bard Girl. Who knows? Perhaps she will need a bit of protection out there on the open road." Her tone had once more turned quite teasing and she winked at both the bard and monk before laughing out loud. With a soft click of her tongue and a gentle nudge of her foot, her own mare began to move so that she was at least turned towards the gate, ready to start this caravan to the north.

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Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur
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#, as written by Deallo
As distraught as Nel was, there was a small sliver of excitement flowing through her veins, but immediately the worry overwhelmed her. The Prince's instructions on how to mount a horse went over her head as she looked at the unmoving horse. At first, the monk thought she killed it, but it was breathing, bare breathing, but breathing none the less...or was it just her eyes? Still shaken up, she needed to be comforted by someone, anyone.

Thus, the priest's presence was surprising as it felt like he was chiding her at first. Sure, she was the one who almost got killed by her horse, but it wasn't her fault! Lest she kept telling herself. "I don't have an apple." Nel said bitterly, eyes glued to her feet, keeping the suggestion to ride her own horse by being lead by him, almost reeling back at the priest's little tidbit about riding with him. If she was ever forced in such a position; she'd probably jog along the side of the trial of horses for miles to come.

Thankfully, Acacia's concern managed to wash away the anxiety and anger she held up, knowing someone at least sounded concerned for her. "I'm fine Acacia...but as for my steed..." Her eyes were cast low for a second before she brought them back up and flashed a tender smile to the bard to feign normality. Nel wished she could hear some sweet music and did when Acacia said she could ride with her. She waited until she mounted her horse yet before the monk could utter a word she could see Mirabella standing tall from her horse and making a slow trot towards her as well. It felt like for a brief moment, talking to so many people at once, being watched upon by either her unknown companions and the people from the crowd around the group as a whole, the world was revolving around her, and the feeling was not an enjoyable one.

The warrior's little joke about Nel protecting the bard gave her at least some imaginary comfort in the awkward position she found herself. It was fairly easy to choose which person to double up with. She definitely didn't want to get in Mira's way and be a hindrance if she was near her. "I think I'll ride with Acacia, Mira." Nel said, nervously picking at her collarbone before looking up. "After all, who else would protect her?" The joke was accompanied by her own form of laughter, obviously forced, and was extinguished with a quick clearing of the throat before she looked up at Acacia and then down at her quarterstaff. She grabbed it from the ground and stuffed it into the bag, most of it sticking back up, but luckily not falling over. Nel looked up, literally, to the bard, and hoped she understood the simple fact she needed her weapon.

Without bothering to hear anymore advice from her companions, she jumped on Acacia's horse, used her arms as leverage, and easily swung a leg over the horse. For a moment, it seemed she was going to fall, arms flailing back backwards, the momentum pushing her forward to wrap around the torso of the bard.

"We should be gong now." The entire fiasco with the horse made her nearly forget that she was going to go on an adventure out into the big wide world ad she held Acacia a little tighter.

The prospect was still terrifying.

The setting changes from Paetax to Calisma

Setting

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Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Feylon Haradas Character Portrait: Gallow Ó Tuathaláin Character Portrait: Xan Hallister Character Portrait: Alice Sangera Character Portrait: Narenia Halen Character Portrait: Callavan Sole Character Portrait: Icareau Sauveterre
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It had stricken him then and there that the man was not only one of mere authoritative status. The whispers were true: the Prince of Calisma, through his weariness, led him to the tavern. Easily impressed as ever, Icareau had been wrought with awe, the admiration hidden by the shadow of his hood. Never would he have fathomed being recognized by royalty, not without startled gestures, no matter how brief. Strange and invigorating, that was, enough to send him dashing away to the Vagabond. Predictably, any meetings had adjourned, yet information was readily known through the barkeep. His needs were hardly demanding: a handful of spare whetstones, flasks, and rope should prove sufficiently; that, or his trek thus far had been fueled by pure instinct and luck, not to mention half a whisker or two.

He had not pursued comrades, nor had he basked in the grandiosity of the capital by moonlight. No one needn't remind him that he was not meant to enjoy it. Leering eyes cast him elsewhere, past the gates, up the hills, and down the dust trails to the cottage he called refuge. The elderly farming pair, who in time had been kind enough to lend him shelter in exchange for working hands, would tend to his belongings. Sleep eluded him. Hacking at the oak in the backyard ensured a good swinging arm—quicker, more agile, a tad more spirited, that'll do. Hours not spent in faux training were devoted to homely letters, though based on the lack of responses thus far, his efforts were made in vain. But Icareau kept at it for the sake of letting ink flow. He was as desperate as he was sad.

...And his cape was so red!

Love,
Chaton


Dawn met the city of Paetax.

Curious were the adventurers gathered at the gates, not in the least of which was the yellow-clad female who stirred heroic notions within him (for what better way was there to start a quest with a damsel, and he was ever so noble), but he remained hesitant, lying in wait until the Prince began to depart. Still others arrived after his instruction; Icareau took comfort in knowing that one was not as timely, although another's boisterous invitation to drink, however humorous, he could do without. How tragic it would be were he too inebriated to steer his mount!

"Sorry to keep you waiting!" he said to the venturing band, tail trailing loosely 'neath the folds of his cloak. One more delay and he'd be the subject of a running joke. He would not reveal himself, not entirely yet. In spite of uncertainty, the cat spun round to face and greet them all, with prolonged consideration given to the Prince. Paws were cupped demurely as he bowed, rattled off apologies, and sought the pack horse that held his requested items. The quips came rather quickly—"I am Icareau Sauveterre of the Feledine in Rousillen. We're not all bad, really, just a bit stingy. I'm so elated to travel with you all! Just think of the trouble we'll get in to. ...!"–which, in all his excitement, did not seem so detrimental. Such an array of scents and sights and sounds must be cherished. And he spoke as he swung atop his found steed, a young thing richly dark in pelt that appeared to huff bemusedly at his presence.

Less curious were the horses themselves, sans the victim of the reins incident. The forest of Taphon bred trackers, raiders, expert beasts who stole fine stallions from their trespassing owners. His riding was competent, his mounted combat skills a bit less so. Most dire was the image of his kind, especially one so small, gripping the reins so tightly, so eagerly. Had a few of the women not been shorter in stature, he might have been too flustered to attend.

To the lady in yellow, he smiled a meek smile, relieved that she was to be accompanied on her mount. To the rest, to those clad in armor or robe, to those weathered or bearded or bruised, he beckoned them as their leader had done, grinning as he directed the horse northward. Subtlety was needed, but it was hard being subtle.

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Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Feylon Haradas Character Portrait: Narenia Halen Character Portrait: Icareau Sauveterre
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She smiled as she looked down to hide it. Nari's first impulse was to go help poor Nelinia. Her innoncence and naive mind had struck a soft spot in the ranger, although she probably wouldn't admit it. She was proud and didn't really know the people present very well yet. Before she could do anything though, several people had come forth to help the girl, and some spoke words that only tired her. She clenched her teeth and looked at Mira at first, who'd made a generous offer, and so had the bard, Acacia. The Priest however. Maybe it was fueled by the tension between the four people, or maybe it was simply just Nari thinking him to speak too quickly. To speak before he thought.
Looking down again at her beautiful mount, Nari tilted her head and thought. "Vanir. That's what I'll call you." Strong and proud. And he really was. He was dark, with muscles like nothing she'd ever seen before. But something assured her that he could run fast as well, if need be.

Give the girl a chance, she can ride. Was her first thought, but apparently Nelinia decided to ride with Acacia. She frowned for a moment but then trotted forward towards them, very slowly. Nari had faith in the monk. She was sure that she could ride if she wanted to. Gods... She probably hasn't seen a horse before, let alone sit on one.
Was the priest always drinking? Now he proposed to toast to all of them before the journey. Nari didn't mind, but it was just the way he did it. She dearly hoped that he would change and be easier to be around once they knew him better. Otherwise, this would be a long journey. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the other ranger. He had appeared very suddenly, and hadn't done anything to earn trust. Not in Nari's eyes anyway. She'd keep her distance from him.

She reached Acacia and Nel, her face serious. Once she reined in her horse to be next to theirs, the ranger unwrapped her cloak around her and reached into the satchels for something. Narenia retrieved an apple and handed it to Nel with a smile. She wrapped her cloak back around her and winked, briefly looking at Acacia too, also with a warm smile.
What the prince had said about their mounts and how to mount them, honestly went over her head. Nari knew how to get on a horse and stay on it. She could fire her bow from it as well, and even do it when she was hanging on its side. It had been a long time since she'd done it of course, but the knowledge still remained. The horse trotted forward slowly, passing Mira and riding right behind the prince. He looked like he needed to clear his mind at the moment, so she wouldn't disturb him. Nari was sure that if she decided to do so, he'd keep his head cool. No need to cause him to think less of me because he thinks me annoying. She thought.
In the back, she heard the voice of a stranger. One that hadn't even been there before, or at least someone she hadn't seen before. If the prince knew him, he'd most likely adress him. If he didn't.. Well, they'd know. Nari thought of the priests proposal of a toast. If he hands me the mug, I'll drink it. Her mind told her. Nari wasn't mad at him, but no one else had given any reply to his offer to toast, so neither would she. The two of them hadn't exchanged a word yet. Nari returned her eyes to the way ahead of her, looking at the prince for a second and then back at Mira behind her. Nari smiled warmly at her for a short moment and then turned again, wrapping her big comfortable cloak around her. Her bow was strapped to the satchel of the horse and her quivers were there too. So was the food and water they'd been promised and all her other needs. Everything had been taken care of, and she was set to go. So here it begins.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Narenia Halen Character Portrait: Icareau Sauveterre
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#, as written by slcam
Acacia gave a small laugh at Mirabella's comment before returning her wink. "Yes, you just never know when I might turn from a bard to a damsel in distress," she said dramatically, putting a hand to her brow as if she suddenly became faint before smiling broadly at Nelinia's decision to ride with her. As Nelinia somewhat awkwardly stuffed her staff into a bag, Acacia wondered how she would manage to get up. Maybe she could use the stirrup? She then realized her own feet weren't even in the stirrups. She really needed to get use to actually riding and steering a horse, not just hanging on while it plowed a field. Well, hopefully it will work out, she mused, scratching her head and giving a little chuckle. However, she didn't need to worry about Nelinia mounting since she easily jumped up on the horse, causing the mare to give a little start as she did a little half lurch forward. Acacia tried to put her hand back to catch the monk so she didn't fall off, her knees instinctively tightening so she wouldn't fall off herself. The monk quickly grabbed on to Acacia and gained her balance and Acacia relaxed.

"You okay back there?" she asked. Not really waiting for a response, she continued, "If you feel like you're losing your balance or are about to fall off, just grip with your knees, not your feet. Trust me, most horses will not like it," she said, thinking of a time or two she had been bucked off. "Of course you can also hold on to me a bit tighter, that will help too. Let me know if you need to stop for anything too, okay?"

When Nelinia suggested that they should get going, Acacia shot a grin over her shoulder before confidently saying, "On Ha!" to the horse while softly flicking the reins. The horse merely gave a small huff, stamped her front feet, and looked back again before bending her head down to munch on some of the plants growing through the cracks in the street. Acacia shifted to adjust with a small sigh, and wondered what she had done wrong. That is what Father always did, she thought, a confused look on her face. As Narenia came up beside them, Acacia's mare lazily lifted up her head and gave a soft neigh, maybe a greeting, to Narenia's dark colored mount. Acacia unconsciously shifted again, as she looked to the ranger with a small smile, wondering what she was digging for. She then pulled out an apple and handed it to Nelinia and Acacia' smile broadened. As Narenia's horse trotted off, Acacia realized what she did wrong. She then remembered the prince saying something about putting your heels in the sides. She tried it, and to her delight the horse started off. She then realized afresh that she still hadn't put her feet in the stirrups. Oh well.

She then hear the voice of a stranger, a man she supposed and turned to look as he walked toward them. She couldn't quite figure out what was different about him, since he was covered in a cloak. In his introduction, she caught two names. One, his name Icareau, and two, his species, Feledine. She had never seen one of the Feledine, but she had heard of them. It was odd that one would come on a quest like this. Acacia was surprised and didn't even stop the horse to turn and ask the... newcomer questions, though she soon wished she had. However, they were quickly off, following after the prince and starting their odd quest.

"Oh, Nelinia," she said after a moment. "We still need to name her." She gave the horse a small pat on the neck. "What do you think is a good name?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Icareau Sauveterre
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#, as written by Deallo
Nelinia looked at the red apple with confusion for a moment before realizing Narenia, the ranger, had given her a gift. "Thank you." The monk said softly, lips curved slightly upwards to return Narenia's smile before she left. Nel took the bard's advice about holding on with her knees, albeit without it, she wouldn't have an arm to grab the apple in the first place, and slowly let go of Acacia to slowly yet surely establish her balance on the horse. The new arrival prompted her to turn around on the horse, an uncomfortable position really, and take a look at the ecstatic creature.

The monk had no idea what a Feledine was. Upon looking at Icareau, an odd sense of curiosity stirred in her as she looked into his furry face. He reminded her of the many stray cats in Kiron; which Nel always scratched behind the ears upon seeing. It took a moment for her to register that he was smiling but once it did, the same meek smile appeared on her lips as well. With that, she turned around to relieve her back from the discomfort and wrapped one arm around Acacia, while the other was busy stuffing the apple into the folds of her yellow robe.

It was then that the bard asked what Nel though the horse should be named and Nel pondered on the question for a moment. "How do you know if it's a her?" Nel asked, curious to how she truly knew, as all the horses looked the same to her. "Perhaps...Maria?" The monk said, almost a question. Coming up with many names was difficult for her.

The ride was arduous and long, spanning the entire day, in which the monk drifted to sleep a couple of times, and half of the apple in the morning, then finished the other half in the evening, leaving only the stem behind. As soon as evening came, the line of horses stopped, and the Prince told them they were going to rest, Nel groggily unmounted the horse. When her feet left the ground, the monk took a deep yawn, bended back one leg, grabbed her ankle, and pulled to relieve the tension in her thigh, doing the same for the other leg. The lack of walking for hours on end left her feeling lethargic and the pain of inexperienced horse riding was there, albeit not severe, but an annoying element of an uncomfortable ache as she walked.

With the Prince's assistance, she unclipped her bag, retrieved her quarterstaff and bedroll. There were a collection of banadages in the bag as well, per her request, and she hoped that she wouldn't have to use them all during this journey. After setting the sheet, by watching others do the same, she flocked to the light of the fire like am moth and sat around the flames, entranced by the twisting flames and crackling of wood. Nel briefly brought up her head when the prince asked Acacia to grace them with a song, though how does anyone "grace" someone with a song was unbeknownst to her.
"I thought people can only have grace?" Nel said, conversation amongst them beginning, and yet already confused to what everyone was talking about.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Xan Hallister Character Portrait: Narenia Halen Character Portrait: Callavan Sole Character Portrait: Icareau Sauveterre Character Portrait: Attica Ninethorn
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#, as written by Celedia
While waiting for everyone else to gather their bearings, the Triansui sat proudly upon her horse as she watched the proceedings. From the depths of the crowd emerged a cloaked figure, one with a tail trailing loosely behind him or her and the sight immediately brought about Mirabella's warrior instincts as she clasped a hand onto her sword, preparing to draw steel. Yet, the voice that emanated from the figure was anything but imposing, as stories and legends of her people should suggest. In fact, the voice was almost as naive as poor, lovable Nel's was which caused her to stay her hand for but a moment.

"I am Icareau Sauveterre of the Feledine in Rousillen. We're not all bad, really, just a bit stingy. I'm so elated to travel with you all! Just think of the trouble we'll get in to. ...!"

Feledine.... she repeated to herself and her hand clenched a bit tighter while still allowing the weapon to remain sheathed. How in the hell could the Prince allow a Feledine onto this quest?

The Feledine were a race of cat like people which had descended upon her homeland in ages past and before a treaty could be forged, many from both sides of the war with the Feledine race had been lost. Though her people were a proud race of unequaled warriors, they could not have expected the bestial ferocity of the cat people and some of their best had been murdered by the nomads.

Her eyes narrowed at poor, unsuspecting Icareau and stayed upon him until her attention was turned elsewhere- They were finally moving.


As the adventure began in earnest and the Prince led the group out of the city and to the north, Mirabella allowed herself to fall behind and bring up the rear. She was used to playing bodyguard for both nobles and merchants and knew that being attacked from the rear was more likely than a head-on assault. She wouldn't allow any of her new found friends (or new found comrades, for those she didn't quite trust) to be wounded on her watch. From this vantage point, she watched as her fellow travelers interacted. So much could be told from a person's actions for they were usually more truthful than a person's words.

Nari, the ranger, was quiet, friendly and gentle. She had offered an apple to poor Nelinia, which had seemed to brighten the young monk and before she rode off to follow the Prince, she had offered another smile to Mirabella. It wasn't a calculating smile that most other woman seemed trained in but one that, once delivered, made the recipient smile as well. This strengthened Mira's perception of the slender ranger.

The one thief, Xan, had a sweet interaction with one of the younger townsfolk as they were heading out of the city. The crystalline orb that he had toyed with in the tavern yesterday was now being passed down to a girl that couldn't have been more than 8 years old. Obviously shy, the girl took the orb from Xan, her large eyes growing wider with excitement as she took her new treasure back to show her mother.

It was these little scenes that entertained Mirabella throughout the day long trip. Little things, such as one of the riders grumbling about their butt being sore from the riding thus far or another one claiming they were parched barely an hour's ride out of the gate. A smile threatened her otherwise neutral countenance as they all became accustomed to the life of riding on the open road.

The ride was thankfully uneventful. She had hoped that no one would be idiotic enough to attack them so close to the city but she did honestly expect it at some point in time. There were quite a few people in Paetax that would like to see the mission fail and for the King to slip into the oblivion of the afterlife. Yet they made their way to a clearing that they would use as their camp and everyone began to dismount and prepare for the evening. Mirabella dismounted with a practiced ease, unloading her horse and slipping the bridle off of the mare so that she could roam nearby and graze. Her mare was her companion and had been for quite a few years now. The Triansui knew how to fight while mounted and Blaze, named due to her sorrel coat, seemed to be able to anticipate her moves. This all led to a remarkable relationship between horse and rider which allowed Blaze more freedom than the Triansui might normally give to an animal and she patted Blaze on her side before telling her to roam off and eat.

Looking around, everyone else seemed to be settling in for the evening nicely. The Prince was cooking and serving stew, the other riders were all working out their aches and pains with the exception of Van, one of the mages, who appeared to be walking a bit bow-legged. Laughing, Mirabella dug into one of her packs and pulled out a jar of ointment that she had bought from an apothecary before this mission and walked over to the mage to hand it to him.

"It treats saddle sores and prevents new ones from forming. Keep it as long as you wish and share it with those that may require it as well." Her attention was caught during the small verbal exchange by one of the rangers, who crouched down and gestured to one of the tents.

Intruder...

Dropping the jar of ointment into Van's hand, the Triansui drew her blade fluidly and began to circle around to the back of the tent. If the intruder, or beast, happened to fly out of the front of the tent then they would be greeted by the dozen or so people surrounding the campfire. So the Triansui moved slowly, trying to keep as stealthy as possible in her mismatched plate/leather/chain armor until she had a clear view of the back of the tent.

The fabric was parted by a sharp slit, allowing both sides of the manmade entrance to billow slightly with each breeze that passed through the area. Without warning and with little regard to stealth or safety, Mirabella popped through the same slit that the intruder had passed through with her sword arm ready.

Her eyes fell upon a rather wild looking figure donning rather naturalistic looking armor and her brow arched as she spied the woman moving about the tent. She looked like one of the forest dwellers but wasn't one that she had traded with in her past travels so Mira remained vigilant as she asked, "I will not harm you unless you attack... What are you doing in this tent?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Feylon Haradas Character Portrait: Narenia Halen Character Portrait: Icareau Sauveterre Character Portrait: Attica Ninethorn
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No more did she see of the creature that had arrived as the last person in their group. Nari was still unsure of what his race was called, but as far as she remembered it was called a Feledine. She knew he was there in line with the others, but it wasn't exactly courteous to fall back and stare at him, asking what kind of creature he was. The ranger woman wouldn't care if anyone asked her the same, if only they kept it to asking and not judging her of what she was and where she came from. After all, her proud mind wouldn't allow insults to pass unnoticed. Mira fell back after Nari had placed her horse right behind the prince, much to her displeasure. She would have liked to speak to the woman. Not long after they had been underway, the thief did something unexpected. He handed the orb he had been studying when she first saw him, to a little girl that passed them by. Nari tilted her head she looked back at him, wondering where such kindness came from. He hadn't shown it before. Not as far as she could remember at least.

Although she had been trained to ride a horse and had done so many times, she was still sore when she dismounted her horse at the end of their ride. Nari stretched and led her horse over to a tree. "Vanir," She whispered his name and leaned her head against his. The horse neighed lowly and exhaled. "Hungry?" Nari asked and smiled. She found another two apples in the bags on the horse, feeding them to the horse. Apparently it pleased him. "Here, I'll give you a little leash so you can eat." Then she tied to the tree and let him eat. After that, all there was to do was follow the prince's example, setting up tents and making the camp as they wanted it to be. She helped making the fireplace and making it so it was possible to cook there. When she was done with her chores, the rest of the camp was already set up. Either I work slowly, or some of these people have set up camp before. Nari thought to herself and shrugged, her face serious now. As a ranger, she was used to staying on her toes and be alert, especially when out in the wild. It didn't matter to her if they were close to the city.

Nothing could have helped her when the Prince of all people, started cooking for them. Nari raised her eyebrow in wonder, half expecting that she was the one to cook. Not that she thought none of the others knew how, but because she was a ranger. In her experience she had usually been the one in charge of food whenever she had travelled with a group. "Thank you." Accepting the bowl and looking at him, she gave a warm smile and a nod of appreciation.
As she ate, Nari spied the trees around them. Force of habit. Only when the Prince requested a song from the bard did she come back to their small gathering. But before anything happened a noise alerted her of a presence in one of the tents but before she could do anything, the other ranger who she hadn't noticed very much motioned for silence. As Mira moved to the back of the tent, Nari stood up and nocked an arrow. She nodded at the other ranger and watched Mira go around to the back. If whatever was in the tent decided to come out the front, not only would she run into their midst, but Nari would have a clean shot. Did it decide to run, Nari was ranged and could still pose a threat.

She stood with bated breath as she waited for what would happen next. Her green eyes, even more visible - almost glowing - caught Nel's, and then the Prince's. She exhaled to calm her breath and then drew the string of the bow back and pointed it at the front opening of the tent, drawing her breath calmly. A voice came from inside, and Nari guessed it to be Mira's. What the intruder would reply was the only question that was on her mind.
What's the next move.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Xan Hallister Character Portrait: Icareau Sauveterre Character Portrait: Attica Ninethorn
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#, as written by slcam
"Hmm," Acacia replied, her eyes lightly closed as she envisioned the name, "Maria sounds about right. It seems you have a name, Maria!" She finished with excitement in her voice, though she didn't finish talking. She continued chattering on about a variety of easy topics, nothing too deep, and making various observations which she sometimes wrote down. She spoke of some of the places she had visited and some of the adventures she had in them, though she was careful not to talk much about Tal. She speculated on what the people passing by them were going to do in town, and also what kind of occupation they had, though most seemed to be farmers. She talked about how it was "so kind" of Xan to give his bauble to the little girl they passed, also hastily writing it down with some other things she had documented about the ride. She spoke just loud enough to be heard by Nelinia, or so she thought. She would have been just as happy to talk to her self though, as traveling always put her in high spirits. She noticed Nelinia fall asleep a couple times, but the almost steady stream of words never stopped.

She even recited a story she made up while in Paetax waiting for the day of the meeting. It was a sort of sad story, one that she would probably turn into a song later, about a young woman whose lover had gone off to join the army. She spoke of all the things, the little things and big things, that she would tell him when he came back. It ended with the woman telling about how she would always wait for her lover, though she had already grown old and frail. Acacia supposed it seemed so depressing because her thoughts were on Tal quite a bit during the wait, but she didn't express this thought and moved on to happier topics.

After what seemed like a short time to Acacia, the day was almost over and they were finally stopping to make camp. After Nelinia dismounted and Acacia moved to get off, she realized just how sore she was and quickly joined Nelinia in her stretches, adding a couple more of her own as well. With her soreness eased, she began following the Prince's instructions on taking care of the horse and setting the camp up. She finished setting up and gratefully grabbed a bowl. She watched the Feledine over the rim of her bowl, wondering again at his intentions. She responded to the Prince's request with a quick nod of her head and a smile. "Of course!" She smiled at the others who also responded and gave a little giggle at Nelinia's query. She grabbed her lute and began softly tuning it. She noticed it was a little off after just one day's ride.

She was still tuning when she heard Mirabella's voice coming from a tent. She looked up to see the tent collapse and a wild looking woman try to run off, only to be caught by Prince Rydas. She realized that she was already standing with a knife in her right hand and the lute in her left when Akdov spoke. He was quite right, she did seem to have just taken some food, but they really didn't know for sure. Nevertheless, her knife quickly disappeared back up her sleeve. I wonder if he will also offer to let the woman sleep in his tent. The thought flew across her mind, but she paid it no attention.

"Who are you?" she asked gently, as if talking to herself. In the now mostly quiet camp, however, it was easily heard.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Feylon Haradas Character Portrait: Narenia Halen Character Portrait: Attica Ninethorn
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As she stormed out of the tent, the Prince had placed himself right behind her, briefly making Narenia wonder why the wild girl had hit the Prince and not her. She came out so quickly that she didn't get to let loose and arrow. If only Rydas had allowed her to pull back the string. Technically he hadn't told her not to, but he raised his palm to have her show caution. If there was a target - or even just a pontential target - the ranger always nocked the arrow and pulled the string back. She was such a trained archer that never would her arm fail her, and let an arrow loose by accident. The only thing she trusted in completely was her ability with a bow and arrow.

The girl collided with the Prince and knocked Narenia away though she quickly regained her stance. This time she pulled the string back and aimed the arrow at the girl, but it seemed that the Prince was stronger than she had expected. Though she wouldn't admit it, Nari was quite impresssed. Granted, the girl wasn't nearly as big as he was, but he brought her under control so quickly. She put the arrow away and held her hand on the shortsword under the cloak, the blade that she hadn't shown to any of the others yet. She quite liked to keep it that way. Having a weapon no one knew about could save lives.

Acacia's wonderful voice sounded from somewhere behind her and asked who the girl was, but Nari didn't pay attention. It seemed though, that her voice could soothe most people. A pity they didn't get to hear a song. The bitter taste was still in her mouth. The fact that she had failed in protecting the Prince, though he didn't really mean anything to her, still stung. She would have to apologise later. She did respect the group (some more than others), but respect was earned not given. She treated everyone equally if she didn't know them. They would have to earn her trust. Narenia had pledged her bow and arrow to the cause, and her proud mind wouldn't allow her to abandon them.

Although the situation was serious, Nari had to fight a smile when Nel spoke up. Obviously she thought they were doing something completely different. She was so innocent and naive. If Nari ever told her the entire story of her life, the little monk would walk away scarred for life. The ranger had had her share of lovers through her life. Nari glanced at the Priest when he spoke, noticing that his bowl of stew was untouched. How does anyone survive on naught but beer? She thought.
She ignored him and walked towards the girl, brushing her hair out of her face and looked at her with furrowed brows. "Wildling?" Nari asked as she looked at the Prince. When she stood next to him, she noticed how tall her was compared to her. Rydas looked even bigger in his armor. The ranger leaned in and sniffed her hair. "Definately from the forest." Had it been Nari, she would have tied the girl down and asked her questions. Firstly, explained to her that it was unnecessary to steal. If the girl had asked, Narenia would have most likely given her a bite of bread, albeit skeptically. The scent of the woods were on the girl, easily picked up if you were close to her. Nari knew, she was a ranger. Feylon would pick it up too. But why was this girl so feral and wild?

He's the Prince, you're just a ranger. She reminded herself and took a step away, still close enough to interact though. "Rope?" Nari asked the Prince. She didn't want to instantly tie her down if it was against his wishes. The odds for this girl to stay and not run the first chance she got, were not good at all. At least not in Narenia Halen's mind.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Narenia Halen Character Portrait: Attica Ninethorn
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Her knuckles connected with flesh and she was about to launch another blow at him when she found herself being swung around, her wrists grasped tightly in his hands. As the prince had predicted, kick she did but a vicious jab at his shin did nothing but shock her foot against his armour through her thin hide boots. Trying to tear herself away from him, twisting and turning her body any way she could, she aimed another volley of kicks but still she could barely decrease her proximity to him enough to do any more damage.

As the man tightened his grip, she glared at him unflinchingly, her dark eyes meeting his lighter ones. She was panting with effort now and her fingers were tingling from the pressure he was putting on her wrists. Up close she could see that though his armour was finely made, his hands were calloused and his face was scarred, a pale sliver of skin running down one cheek that had undoubtedly been made by a blade. Soon though, her glares were diverted to those around them and she attempted a few more times to struggle away from her captor before sullenly giving in to her fate.

At mention of food by the older bearded man, Attica scowled then rolled her eyes at the shrilly naive comment that came from somewhere over her shoulder. Though she could not see its owner, she surmised they must be a child or stupid indeed. After what the warrior in the tent had asked her... Perhaps she had stumbled upon an entire camp of idiots.

Idiots, but well-equipped idiots. Not only was almost every single one of them armoured or armed, but their horses (tossing their heads from where they'd been tied to graze at the edge of the camp) were of good stock and well-fed and judging from the rich smell that rose from the pot over the fire, not lacking in food either. They were here for some purpose and Attica suddenly wondered what that purpose was. Given what was lurking in the forest, searching for her trail, it might be a good idea to stick with these newcomers. At least for the time-being.

"I am Attica," she spat, twisting to face the woman who was edging towards her. She jerked back as she came closer, apparently to sniff her hair, and her mouth tugged upwards into a sardonic smile at her assessment of her. "But 'wildling'? That will do..."

Her cruel smile abruptly flashed into a scowl at her suggestion of rope and her gaze darted back to Rydas' before she began to struggle again against his grip, more desperately this time, now her strength- already greatly drained by her flight from her pursuers- was waning.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Narenia Halen Character Portrait: Attica Ninethorn
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Attica looked up at the Prince in surprise and suspicion as he voiced his intention to let her go. When he did loosen his grip, she tore away from him as soon as she could, stooping to the ground to pick up her knife in one fluid motion. But even with the familiar grip of the blade in her hand, she found herself encircled by the rag-tag group and she turned this way and that, trying to ascertain which would be the biggest threat should they change their minds and turn on her.

She wanted to refuse their food, spit a few choice insults at them and disappear back into the trees. She did not want charity; she had left all that behind long ago. And yet, there was no guarantee she’d find food again so quickly with her pursuers closing in on her tail. She needed something to eat; her stomach was gnawing dully at itself and the struggle with the man in the red cloak had left her feeling a little light-headed. Another long-distance run through the trees would be near-impossible.

“I-“ she began, in reply to the man’s guarded question. But she was interrupted by the rustling of grass near the tree-line and the grey fox shot out into the clearing, skidding to a halt near her feet. It looked up at her with urgency and let out a short bark before shivering at presence of the band of people standing around them and backing away in a manner that was remarkably reminiscent of Attica herself just moments ago.

“I was. Not any longer…” she growled. “Bandits razed my settlement two nights ago and they saw me escape. They’re still after me.”

She pointed to the north with the tip of another knife that had miraculously found its way into her other hand. Already she’d dropped into a half-crouch, the slender sinew of her legs and shoulders tightening in preparation for fight or flight. Across the camp there came the sound of a branch cracking and an arrow flew from the undergrowth, burying itself in the ground by the fire. A dozen figures melted out of the trees, faces smeared in black paint, in scaled leather armour hung with knots and blood red beads.

“And now they’re after you too!” Attica laughed brutally, sending a knife flying into the neck of the nearest attacker.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Xan Hallister Character Portrait: Alice Sangera Character Portrait: Attica Ninethorn
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#, as written by slcam
Acacia gave a little laugh at Nelinia's comment, and was quickly joined by Xan. She was very interested in this new woman, this wildling. She walked back to where she had eaten before to pick up her lute, now that the Prince decided that this Attica was no threat. However she stopped short when Attica told them she was being followed. Seconds seemed like hours as Acacia stood and looked around, seeing bandits dressed in all black seem to sprout all around them. An arrow landed near Acacia's foot and she sprung back.

Quickly, one after another fell, as Akdov, talking as usual, pulled the Prince to the ground and took on some bandits. Unfortunately, he was soon hit with a spear, though his staff continued attacking, and he collapsed. He was soon aided by the male ranger. Acacia noted this before diving into a roll behind one of the tents, dodging yet another arrow. She came up into a crouch and soon had a dagger in each hand, her back against the rough canvass of the tent.

She cautiously peeked over the tent, noting several of the others fighting, but no longer seeing the male ranger in the dark outside of the campfire's reach. He seemed to have been replaced by Xan. Acacia could recognize that scruffy form anywhere. As her gaze continued, she saw one of the bandits had also noticed her. She quickly ducked and edged around the tent as he rushed to where she had been. She stopped by the front corner of the tent and dashed away, passing by the fire as he spotted her again with a shout.

Her searching eyes found Alice, pinned to the ground by another of the big men, who soon was flying through the air and hitting hard against a tree. Acacia noted Alice's disappearing with relief. Now, hopefully, she would not be hurt. She realized she should be worrying about herself as the man ran after her with a large sword, quickly gaining. As soon as she left the light of the fire, she dropped to a crouch with one leg sticking straight out. The man ran on, not sure where she was and went flying as he tripped over her leg. He hit hard against a tree head first and didn't make a move to get up. Acacia saw another bandit coming up behind Nelinia, whose back was toward both Acacia and the short bandit. With a sweep of her arm, a knife lodged deeply into the man's back and attracted his, no, her attention, Acacia noted with a grimace. The woman bandit hefted her ax to her shoulder and charged.

Acacia threw another of her knives as the woman dodged. The knife sliced through the woman's left shoulder as she gave a shout and swung sloppily. Acacia doged the blow, another knife in both of her hands. Only eight left, she thought, Can't throw them all. However, she threw another knife that hit the side of the woman's throat. The woman gave another swing, unexpectedly harder this time, that Acacia almost dodged, the edge of the ax grazing her forhead. Acacia stumbled back a couple steps, hitting a tree and collpsing to her knees, her hand on the shallow cut over her left eyebrow. The bandit let her ax fall to the ground as she roughly jerked the knife from her neck, causing the blood to flow almost violently. A confused look crossed her eyes as she stared at the knife like a snake, her other hand on her throat. She took two wobbly steps and fell to the ground.

Acacia sat still as she could under the tree, now a bit away from where the camp, and most of the battle, was. She slowly brought her hand down from her head and suppressed a shriek when it came away bloody. She quickly slapped it back to her head causing a grimace. She watched, hoping the battle would soon end as she tried unsuccessfully to not hyperventilate.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Attica Ninethorn
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#, as written by Celedia
It took Mirabella but a moment to release her self from the confines of the collapsed tent and though she should probably be angry at the wildling’s reaction, she actually felt quite sorry for her. The woman’s actions had been one of a scarred animal, notably so, and even as the leather-clad figure struggled in vain against the Prince’s grip, Mira could only feel pity.

Then, a myriad of reactions from the gathered members of the group left her with other emotions. Amusement at Nelinia’s oh so naïve outburst, a swift grin at the Prince’s response, skepticism at the newly introduced Attica and…

And that was when bandits began to pour out of the surrounding woods.

Everything happened quickly after that as her party clashed against the invaders. Mira had no time to babysit or keep track of the others, praying silently that the other members of the party would see to such thing as she did what she did best.

Fight.

Throwing knives flew passed her as she tore across the small clearing, sword still in hand from the inspection of the tent and she slid towards the pile that held her packs so that she could snatch up her shield. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the Priest fall with the shaft of a spear in his back and within seconds she had slipped her arm through the leather straps upon the back of her wooden shield. Standing, her gaze swept across the scene to pick out where she might be needed.

Already, there were several people injured and the warrior saw, with great relief that her companions were already tearing through the bandits easily. Bodies littered the ground and she was thankful that none were those that she recognized as she made her way towards the bulk of the group. An arrow flew into the neck of one of the men running towards her and she took the opportunity to run forward, full speed, with her shield held in front of her. At the last second, she extended her shield arm out, bashing it into the already wounded bandit and sending him reeling backwards. Once upon the ground, she drove the tip of her blade into his belly and leaned into it for leverage, driving the sword deep into his flesh.

With a practiced yank she released her weapon from his musculature and looked elsewhere. Another bandit was circling behind an apparently wounded Bard girl and Mira’s protective instinct carried her towards the man even as he raised his mace towards the bloodied Acacia. Leaping to cover more ground in less time, Mirabella crossed her blade viciously through the air so that the finely honed blade slashed across the man’s back to draw his attention towards her instead of the seated bard.

“Pick on someone your own size,” she growled and the man spun around, blocking her next swing easily with the hard steel handle of his mace before twirling it once to throw off her sword. Yet, he had obviously been trained poorly because the movement left him wide open for another slicing motion, this time catching him right across his midsection. The man stumbled back in surprise and the Triansui kicked out with one of her feet, landing it on his already bleeding stomach which caused the figure to crumple over in pain.

“That’s better. Now, die for me.” Her voice was cold and harsh, a surprising change from her normal demeanor as she drove her blade down through a chink in the bandit’s poorly crafted armor between his neck and clavicle. The crunch of bone was barely detected through the already chaotic noise of the dying battle and she planted her foot on his chest, kicking him back once more to push the bandit off of her blade so he could bleed out.

The Triansui stared at him for but a moment, making sure that he wouldn’t be getting back up any time soon before she turned to Acacia and knelt down beside her. The warrior’s eyes were now soft once more, though her face was now as bloodied as the bard’s though the wounds were not her own, thus far.

“Do you need assistance standing?” She asked, moving the shield onto her back so that she had a free hand which she used to inspect the other woman’s wound. “Scalp wounds always bleed the worst but it looks as if you’ll be quite all right.” A smile followed her words as she reached into the pouch on her hip and dug out a strip of muslin and thrust it towards Acacia as her gaze lifted to search for their party members.

“Let’s go find the others and see if they need any help. The battle appears to be dying down." A quick smile flashed across her lips as she stood up, looking down at the bard girl while extending her free hand should she need the assistance to stand. "I just realized. I saved a damsel in distress. Shall you sing songs of me now, bard girl?"

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Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Acacia Winn
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#, as written by slcam
Blood, so much blood, Acacia thought to herself. However, her thoughts were not on the blood streaming down her face, nor the blood from the bandit woman, but on a different time entirely. Her left hand was still pressed against the bloody wound, her breathing shallow and fast, her eyes closed to keep out the blood still coming from the shallow wound. Memories from a time that Acacia had tried so hard to forget flooded her mind like a nightmare. The slash, the cry of anguish coming from her lips...

She was jerked back to the present by an almost familiar voice. There was something about it that was too harsh, but it still seemed as if she should recognise it. Acacia dabbed her eyes quickly with her sleeve to get rid of any blood on them and opened her eyes to look around. She glanced at who the voice had come from, Mirabella. She was fighting a bandit. Acacia realized she had probably just saved her life. The realization helped her calm down as she forced herself to quash the panic the had overtaken her. Mirabella quickly finished off the bandit and came back to Acacia with genuine concern in her eyes. Blood covered her face, but she didn't seem injured. Acacia tried to focus just on the woman's eyes and ignore the blood, but it was difficult and her eyes kept nervously glancing at it.

"Maybe, thank you,"Acacia said in responce to Mirabella's question, her voice still slightly shakey. At least she hadn't burst out sobbing, yet. Acacia took the muslin from her, barely keeping her hand from trembling, and pressed it to her forehead. At least the flow of blood had slowed. "I don't much care for blood," Acacia stated, a slight, forced smile on her lips.

Acacia reached out with her free hand and took the help to get up and sprung lightly to her feet. She paused a moment to gain her balance and let the lightheaded dizzy-ness pass. "Well, you can't say I didn't warn you that I might turn into a damsel in distress," Acacia laughed, a genuine smile on her face. "Perhaps I will. Then everyone will know of Mirabella, the courageous warrior in shining armor!"

As the Prince called for them to fall in, sounding like an army commander, Acacia gave Mirabella another smile and shakely began walking toward him. She would have to get her knives at some point, but she pushed that to the back of her mind. It would have to be taken care of later. When she got close, she responded to the question of injuries with a simple, "I'm fine". She stood near the growing group, nervously shifting from foot to foot. She was determined that she would not panic again.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Geraint Magdohl
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#, as written by Deallo
About to unleash another strike on the paralyzed figure, Nel noticed the white beard attached to the body, and stopped in her tracks. It instantly reminded her of the Elder, the leader of the monastery, and for perhaps a split second, thought it was him she hit. The thought immediately caused her to stand up straight and abandon her fighting position; inspiring both a mix of fear and respect. However, it was easily disregarded as the man didn't have the same shiny bare head, nor the voice as he raised his arms and spoke that he meant no harm.

Now any reasonable warrior, human being, animal wouldn't be as quick to believe him as the monk did. Whether this was Nel's secret weapon or her greatest demise; only time will tell. Just as she put that trust in him, a bandit decided to take the opportunity to attack, and the events that transpired still shocked her. She shifted her weight to her left foot and was about to unleash a kick to the knee when all of a sudden, the old man hissed angrily at him, and the bandits sword came alive. Nel stood in awe, mesmerized by the blade that acted like a metal snake, chasing the owner left running with just the hilt in his grasp.

The eerie silence returned to the camp once more, attackers either slain, unconscious, or fled, the air was tinged with the smell of red. Nel looked at the old man, albeit considerably bulky and muscular, with a grand sense of curiosity. Did he make the sword into a snake? Was he a magician? She could hear the Prince calling for them but still pinned her attention to the man in particular.

"Forgive me, it's...hard to tell who's an enemy and who isn't." Nel admitted, panting with beads of sweat rolling off her crown, looking at the floor in shame, bending down to grip her quarterstaff once more and looked up to the eyes of the old man once again. "My name is Nel. Excuse me, but I must go." The monk said hastily, turning around to the group, and walking to the small crowd that was gathering.

Nel made the mental note to arrange the bodies after.

The yellow monk scanned the members for injuries, immediately turning to Acacia and Mirabella, running up towards them with worry. Nel nearly screamed at the copius amount of blood upon both their faces. "Are you two alright? Are you hurt? Where does it hurt? There's so much blood, wait here, I'll be right back! The bombardment of questions led Nel to forget about the cut on her right bicep, staining her yellow cloth as she ran back to her pack, grabbed a couple roll of bandages, and ran back to to the two. Instantly, Nel tried to promptly wrap Mira's face with the roll, as the warrior seemed to be the most urgent and bloodied.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Lance Elgard Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Narenia Halen Character Portrait: Attica Ninethorn
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#, as written by Celedia
Mirabella


Mirabella wouldn’t have wiped the honest grin off of her face that had crept upon her lips in response to Acacia’s comments, even if she could. The Bard, despite the fact that she had most likely never participated in battle before, had held up quite well. The Triansui was shocked that even with the surprise attack and having no time to prepare that the group had fared as well as it had. She looked around briefly, walking a few steps behind Acacia as they made their way towards the Prince and before they could come to a complete stop, Nel rushed to their sides.

The tiny brightly colored monk was quick, that was for sure, and before Mirabella’s lips could part for her to address the girl’s concerns, the petite Nelinia was already clambering about with gauze in hand to patch the warrior’s wounds. Laughter spilled from her lips as she went to stop Nel’s hands so that she didn’t waste her supplies and she warded off the tiny monk until she could speak properly.

“Nel, love, I am fine. Honestly. Thank you for looking after me, though.” She smiled at the yellow-garbed girl before turning to Acacia as well. “It is good to have people such as your selves by my side after a battle.” If this was the kindling to true friendship, then let it come. The warrior had not trusted any one before in her life but that didn’t mean that it couldn’t happen either, right?

“Speaking of such things… Where is Nari?” Her golden eyes suddenly went wide with curiosity and a touch of fear as she pushed away from the small group, her eyes seeking the red-haired ranger even as she passed by others. Mira made sure not to pass by anyone that looked injured but she didn’t happen upon anyone with more than a scratch until she approached the group of wounded. It seemed that two had fallen and Nari and one of the mages had held watch over them until the end of the battle. A smile of relief passed over Mira’s face until she noticed that Nari was, indeed, injured. Lips parted as if to call out for the cleric until she noticed that he was one of the ones upon the ground and she gritted her teeth, moving beside Nari. A grimace now replaced the smile upon her lips as she looked at the wound. It was in a bad place and it looked deep as well.

“Look at you, Ranger, getting yourself in to trouble our first battle. I thought you would be dancing among the treetops and shooting from above.” The Triansui managed a brief smile and upon closer inspection, realized she could do nothing for Nari and it was then that she remembered the wildling, Attica.

“Forest dweller!” She called out, trying to find the woman that had brought the battle upon them. “If you are knowledgeable in the healing arts we could use your assistance.” Her eyes held worry though she obviously tried to look positive when facing Nari. "If she refuses, I will try to raise the Priest. Don't move, Nari." With that, she knelt beside the prone figure of the Priest. That was when a new figure caught her eye, wearing the shiny and well-tended armor of a Knight but his words as he addressed the Prince marked him as a holy man. A Paladin. She had heard of their kind before and she prayed silently that he was trained in the arts of healing as well.

"Paladin!" She addressed Lance as such because she had not overheard his name. "We have many wounded. Could you leave the introductions for later and help us tend to them?" She didn't even bother to see if the man had agreed and she assumed he would hear her since the Prince was only a few feet from herself, tending to the other ranger. "We have a cleric which is unconscious and another ranger with an arrow in the belly."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Feylon Haradas Character Portrait: Xan Hallister Character Portrait: Hayley Furdiligit. Character Portrait: Narenia Halen Character Portrait: Callavan Sole Character Portrait: Icareau Sauveterre Character Portrait: Attica Ninethorn
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As she tried her best to patch up the Priest, Nari could feel the arrow in her stomach. It was hard for her to concentrate on what he was doing through those wracking pains. The Thief looked like he was beginning to tire, and as it looked as if their darkest hour was upon them, the Mage came. He wrapped them in a kind of light pink transparent shield, which held Nari in awe and made her momentarily forget about the pains. Next was the Prince. The Priest had tackled him - much to Nari's confusion - but he was down and now the Prince fought along side them. She cursed herself for rushing to the Priest's aid so quickly. Nari would have been a greater help at distance, raining arrows upon their enemies. Fortunately, their ranks were thinning now.

Elsewhere on the battlefield, she caught bits of conversations from her travelling comrades. The Thief disappeared suddenly. One had to admire his fighting style. The way he used his two daggers was more than likely exhausting, although it was effective. He ran and as far as Nari could guess, he ended the lives of those who hadn't yet fled the site. Her mind again wandered to the big brute of a man, although he seemed old, that had made his presence known by swinging a great big log at his enemies. In the heat of battle, Nari had called out to him to heal the priest, but he hadn't made it. He must have been caught up. The Prince, Akdov, Acacia, Alice, Hayley, Nel, Mirabella, Xan, the Mage, Feylon. Her mind went over the core members of the group again, should they be missing now that the battle was ending. Nari had managed to stop the bleeding of Akdov's wound, so he wasn't in danger of dying unless the wound was left unattended now.

Her hand found it's way to the wound again. It was bleeding badly and Nari's was a little dizzy. In order to get the arrow out, she had to get her armor of first. The light plate adorned with beautifully ornamented leather, would make it impossible to get the arrow out. It had to come off, but all Nari did was sit back against a tree. The next thing she heard was the Prince's voice. He called for them to gather, but Nari didn't move. She looked at them though, and watched the new arrivals. Attica from before, who she hadn't noticed during the battle, the man with the log and a new one. A heavy armored man, kneeling before the prince. The Ranger woman was relived to see that only the Priest and Feylon were down and wounded, along with herself but she was still concious. The others seemed to have minor wounds as far as she could see.

She let her head fall back to relax a bit, taking deep and steady breaths. Not long was she allowed to rest though, as the warrior woman Mira had come to her and spoke. I would have thought so too, but apparently I was foolish enough to rush to the aid of that oaf. She said, serious at first and then giving Mira a faint smile. She let her hand wrap around the arrow and tried not to move, trying to get rid of the jolts of pain. Mira called for aid to the wounded, and Nari's eyes found the newly arrived Paladin. She wasn't going to have someone she didn't know treat her wounds. "Mira." She called, reaching out and grabbing her shoulder. "You have to help me get the armor off." Nari spoke between gasps and jolts of pain, her blood trickling between her fingers. "You ha-have to-" A grimace flashed across her face. "Just pull it out." Narenia leaned forward, revealing her back where the armor was tightened to fit the armor closer to the body. She had to loosen that and then lift the armor off the arrow and then over her head. "How do you know that Paladin isn't another assassin?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Feylon Haradas
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#, as written by slcam
Acacia looked up, her left hand still holding the muslin to her wound, when Nelinia came up and began firing off questions. Apparently she was concerned that they were badly hurt and Acacia wondered just how... messy her face was. She decided she probably didn't want to know as Nelinia hurried of to get bandages an came back to bandage Mirabella, who Acacia thought wasn't even hurt. Acacia gave Nelinia and Mirabella a wide, if short-lived smile.

"I am glad you feel that way Mirabella. I feel the same," she said her smile slowly fading as Mirabella strode off and began yelling out orders. Acacia rolled her eyes, I knew she was going to be bossy, and turned her gaze back to Nelinia. "I am fine as well. I mostly need to clean up." Glancing down slightly, Acacia's eyes were unavoidably drawn to the blood staining the monk's right sleeve. She gently put her hand on Nelinia's shoulder, her eyes nervously jumping back to meet Nelinia's. "It seems you are the one that is hurt." Hearing the Prince, she looked up, noticing a large, old looking man had joined them. Since no one was attacking him, Acacia figured he must be a friend. The Prince then gave some instructions, and Acacia decided she should probably go clean up since her face was already beginning to itch from the drying... mess... on her face. She took in a shaky breath and said,"I think I will go clean up." She realized she might seem rude just walking away like that and quickly added, "Sorry, but I don't do all that well around blood." She gave a quick smile and quickly walked back to where she had set her lute.

Thankfully, the lute hadn't been damaged in the fight, and Acacia strapped it up on her back where it belonged. She went up to her packs and pulled out the canteen of water and a cloth, which she wet and used to wipe most of the grime off her face. She tenderly wiped around the cut on her forehead and pressed the muslin to it again to make sure it wouldn't open again. That might complicate things. There were still stains on her shirt, but those would be difficult to get out without a larger source of water. She replaced the canteen in her packs and set the cloth down on a patch of tall grass to wash out later.

Feeling a bit more presentable, and still trying not to pay to close of attention to the various bodies lying around, Acacia found a spot by the fire. She gratefully took some wine, taking a large gulp to take the edge off the still present fear. She wondered if she would ever get over it. A warmth spread through her as the sour liquid reached her belly. After eating a bit, a peaceful sort of tiredness swept over her as she calmed. It seemed a bit quiet around the fire until the Prince spoke. He introduced himself to the newcomers and went into more detail on their mission. Acacia now knew where they were headed, the Citadel of Idvassa Del Reyanth on the Pyzer Lake. From the stories of the ruins, Acacia guessed this would not be their last battle, or their worst.

She listened to the various comments and questions in silence, her eyes fixed on the Prince, waiting for his answers.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Alice Sangera Character Portrait: Geraint Magdohl
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#, as written by Deallo
"Your welcome, Mira." The monk chimed, relieved that Mirabella was alright, despite how disconcerting the blood on her face was. Her words brought a smile to Nel's face The mention of Nari brought the monk to whip her head around and search for her ranger companion; when she found her currently patching up the wounds of the priest. Nel had to judge it wasn't the best use of her time, already knowing too well she wouldn't cry for his death, she would've visited her if it wasn't for the thought that Acacia might have been hurt. The hand on her shoulder, caused Nel to jump, then realizing it was the bard's before she did anything hasty.

Emerald eyes widened on sight of the wound, in a mix of surprise and shock, at the red that stained her yellow garb and stuck to her skin. "Oh." was all Nel could say, the pain seemingly invisible to her, as if she was watching someone else bleed. The bard had to leave in order to clean up and apologized shortly for being unwell around blood. As any person should be, for it should be either guilt or pain, they should feel. Pain was euphoric, the natural instinct to run away, and to ignore pain is to dull it's capabilities, transcend it. With the absence of Acacia; there was nothing to distract her from the mess of bodies around the tent. Nell closed her eyes for a moment to block her surroundings and turned away from the camp until she reached a tree.

Rolling up her right sleeve, she painfully lifted the fabric from the wound, the pain shooting up her body once more. Nel looked at the old bandages that were on her arm and unwrapped them away, assorting it into a pile, and a relief came over her as she felt the cold wind across her bare arms. Her eyes gazed down at her calloused hands for a brief moment and then dressed the cut with gauze. The monk was no expert in medicine but she knew her fair share from multiple incidents in the monastery. Awkwardly twisting the gauze into a knot with her teeth and left hand, she sat down, and closed her eyes.

It was surprisingly different to meditate. Not difficult, just...odd.

She stood up from the tree and could feel the beads of sweat upon her brow. Sweat? No, this was all wrong. Meditation was supposed to be harmonious and peaceful.

Just forget it. Nel told herself, rushing to drag the bodies together. She was familiar with this only once before and it was to show respect to the deceased in the battle as they rode away. The monk had no idea they were going to burn the pile in the morning as they left. For now, she sat near the fire, her yellow robes still stained with the blood of her right arm, beside the body of the tiny mage. Nel almost woke up the tiny ball of fur before realizing she was fast asleep. The words of the prince reminded them once more why they were here as well as some extra information. There were new faces around the campfire, the old man who Nel thought of as an enemy, which the priest seems to know, and two more armored solders. Questions were tossed at the prince and even Nel needed an answer to a rather confusing statement.

"I'm sorry, but what do you mean by sorceress? And restore back to life?" Nel said with curiosity. Of course, she had more questions and concerns, but these were questions she needed to know the answer, for her mission.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Narenia Halen Character Portrait: Travian Zarel
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#, as written by Celedia
Mirabella had moved like a spectre after everyone had been healed from the battle with the bandits. Silently, she moved off from the crowd to the patch of forest she had seen Xan exit from previously. He had been soaked from head to toe and carrying equally drenched clothing so she knew there had to be a stream or lake nearby which she could use to wash up.

As she pushed through the last bit of brush and into the clearing, her eyes widened at the sight of a waterfall and a hint of a smile played across her lips. Even here, after seeing so much bloodshed and the worry and fear in her newfound friend’s eyes, there could still be a hint of beauty in the world. Droplets which were cast off by the rush of the falls hitting the lake beneath spread into the air like tiny crystals and formed an ethereal rainbow in the air. For a moment, just a single moment, Mirabella knelt by the pool of water and closed her eyes.

Rest and relaxation were not on the itinerary for the evening, though, and the Prince had mentioned that he wished to speak with the group at the campfire so the Triansui hurried her movements. Using the crystal clear water, she easily cleaned her face, hands and hair, slicking her blond tresses back away from her face as she stood up and wandered back towards camp.

As she made her way to the campfire, everyone else seemed to already be seated and she caught the middle of the Prince’s speech about the Panacea. A single brow lifted upon her forehead at the revelation of their intended destination but she did not utter a single inquiry afterwards. Too many already filled the air around her and she listened intently to each response the Prince gave before allowing them to disperse if they wished. Only when Ian stood up and gave a formal introduction did humor play upon her countenance once more and as he settled down close to the fire, she neared him after grabbing a sweetcake, nudging him with an elbow before taking a seat herself.

“Sorry our greetings earlier were cut short…” Her eyes sought and found Nari, watching the ranger to make sure she was all right before returning her attentions to the Paetax Paladin with a smile. “But I’m glad you finally decided to join us.”

At the first hint of silence, Mirabella called towards Acacia with a teasing grin curving her mouth, “Bard Girl. Did you not promise us a song with our dinner?” If the bard were to look her way, she’d wink at her then fall silent just in case Acacia decided to play.

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Character Portrait: Acacia Winn
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#, as written by slcam
As Acacia sat, pleasantly tired, her mind began getting restless despite listening to the questions and introductions. Though it had been a long day, in more than one way, she still had quite a bit of energy left. It would be a shame to just go to sleep so soon, as she noticed Alice doing. She made sure to properly note the names of the new additions to their group. There was Attica the wildling, Geraint who seemed to be an old friend of Akdov's, Lance the paladin of Thoav, and Travian Zarel the paladin of Paetax who seemed to be a friend of Mirabella. She said the names over in her mind a couple times to be sure that she would remember. Now it seemed that their party had grown to sixteen members.

Once all the talk had died down, Acacia figured she might as well do something or she was likely to run screaming off into the woods, just to blow off some steam. She realized she did still need to retrieve her knives and clean her clothes. She wondered if there was anyway to put it off, but she knew it would just be harder to do in the morning. "Well," she said, standing and stretching, "I am going to retrieve my knives and wash up a bit better. If anyone wants to join me, they are welcome to."

She strode off to where she had been fighting the bandit woman, waiting a moment to let her eyes adjust before looking through the grass. She quickly found one of the knives, the one the woman pulled out of her throat, holding it by the handle with two fingers. Further away she found the other that had grazed the bandit's shoulder, but despite her searching she could not find the last one. She assumed it was still stuck in the woman's back, somewhere in the pile of bodies. She gave a sigh and decided not to worry about it.

She walked back through the camp, grabbed the dirty rag she had used earlier, walked off in the direction where Xan had come from, and soon came to the same river. It was a bit further down, just a shallow pool, but Acacia gratefully stuck the two knives and dirty cloth in to clean them. She was glad it was dark, except for the moonlight, and she could pretend she was just washing off dirt. She washed and wring out her other stained clothing, cleaned her face, and put the damp clothing back on. Feeling much better, she went back into the camp.

After sitting by the fire until she was no longer dripping wet, she said, "I think I will grace everyone with a song now." She smiled and winked at Nelinia before removing the lute from her back and cradling it in her arms. She decided to do a funny little ballad that was very popular in Paetax. It was made by a songwriter known only as Conor. She began playing, the lute sounding out the clear, quick notes as her fingers danced on the strings. She sang,

There once was a warrior from Paetax,
who's wit was as sharp as his tongue.
He joined with the army to avoid paying tax,
and was sent off to war with his axe.

Fighting battles far and wide.
Against foe's tough and sly.
With his sword he hacked into their thigh,
and managed a few in the eye.

Then one day a solider said:
What do you miss from home the most?
He thought until an answer came into his head,
and he said of course I miss my bed!


She ended with two short strums, the notes of the song quickly dying away as she smiled and laughed, looking at the faces around the campfire and feeling truly happy. All the cares, worries and fear of the day were forgotten, at least for the moment.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Lance Elgard Character Portrait: Xan Hallister
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She heard the Prince's reply and just nodded faintly as a reply, closing her eyes. Nari was tired and wanted sleep, though part of her mind wanted to thank the Paladin that had stitched her up in the battle. She hadn't even seen the wound so she didn't know how well he had done, or if he had healing powers to close it up on the spot. Either way, it didn't feel so painful. The last she heard was the beautiful voice of Acacia when she started to sing, playing on her lute as she did. Nari was thankful for having her with them on the journey, her music brought a soft relief over her. Then she passed of to sleep.

Her next sight was the ground on which she lay. Nari was on her side as she was woken up by the noises from her fellow travelers. Leaves in her tangled hair and with her cloak around her, Nari hurried to get up on her feet. There was no way she would let the others do the work as she just slept the morning away. She had just been worn out by the wound and the battle. "Vanir!" The ranger called and watched her horse trot toward her. "I'd half forgotten how big you are." Nari smiled and patted him, planting a kiss on his head. She reached up and stroked him, winking at her horse as if to tell him 'Good morning'. "Go. Go eat the days first meal." Vanir walked off, toward the trees and started searching for food. Nari turned and walked toward her tent, the scent of the jerky being cooked over the fire reaching her nostrils. It was a heavenly smell. She hadn't expected their food to be of this quality, but then again, they did travel with Royal purpose. And a Royal member. She could feel the wound on her belly, but it didn't pain. It felt as if the skin pulled at the stitches a little, but that seemed only logical. At her tent, she found her armor and her bow from the battle, the night before. She praised herself lucky for the fact that it was still all there. Slowly and with a little struggle, Nari began packing her tent down.

Once she was done, and everything had been put in it's right place, she called Vanir again, and packed her things on her horse. All but her armor. At the moment, Nari was only wearing the cloth on her body. None of her light plate, or the mail was on her shoulders. Or anywhere else for that matter. She sighed and took a deep breath, feeling a little dizzy. Her hands found the edge of her shirt, pulling it up to reveal the bare skin on her stomach. Nari traced a hand over the wound from the battle, where the arrow had gone in. The Paladin had done a remarkably good job, yet it nagged her that she couldn't remember his name. I shall have to thank him later. She thougth, setting her direction toward the way Xan had disappeared after the battle. Once she had found the small stream, or river, Nari knelt down and splashed water onto her face. It felt nice and cleared her mind as the cold water seemed to freshen her up a bit. Nari hadn't spoken a word to anyone all morning, and wouldn't notice if anyone was watching her for the moment. Maybe this is reckless, unarmed and alone. Her mind warned her, but she thought nothing more of it.

Her clothes were clean and her spirits lifted, and Nari headed back for camp. She walked straight to Vanir and put her arms around his neck, resting her head against him for a moment. That was until she noticed the Paladin that had saved her. Nari walked toward him, no smile but just a neutral face. "Thank you, Paladin, for coming to my aid." She said, bowing her head slightly. Although he had saved her, Nari held no ill will toward him, but neither did she trust him. He may have sworn fealty to the Prince, but that wouldn't make her drop her guard. Respect is earned, not given. The words had stuck to her all her life. With a nod, Nari turned again and made sure she had nothing left to pack. She would also have to thank Mira as soon as she spotted her, and had a moment to do so. Her ears caught the voice of the Prince. Nari looked at him, and shook her head gently. In her proud mind, their enemy deserved no prayers in their death. Not these cowardly dogs who had ambushed them from the trees, fighting with cheap tricks and low blows. As she couldn't find anything else to do, and most of the others seemed done with their own packing, Nari sat down near the fire opposite Xan. Should anyone need help, they could call for her. Starting a fire to burn the bodies couldn't be very hard, and she doubted that they'd light it while they sat and ate.
"Was it difficult getting on your feet?" She asked Xan with a smile, tilting her head at him. Due to her remembered manners and nobel birth, Nari didn't start eating before the last of them had arrived, or the Prince had given them permission. It was a strange thing to see herself not in her ranger attire, but in the clothes she wore underneath. Her shirt was a dark green, nothing special about it. It was short sleeved and made of cotton. Her legwear was a dark brown, made of leather, fur on the inside to keep her warm. The boots were the same though, reaching halfway up to her knee. Nari ran her hand through her hair, closing her eyes again. "Are you alright? Did you sustain any injuries from the battle?" If she was sitting there, Nari might as well talk to the man instead of just stare at him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Geraint Magdohl
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#, as written by Deallo
The monk absorbed it all in, the sorceress Idassava, her evil powers over the dead, the obsession with immortality she had, and the possibility of something guarding her tomb. It's the telling of an adventure that's been spun so many times before in books and stories but it was unfathomable to Nel. She began biting her knuckles; an awful habit picked up as a child whenever she was uneasy.

The identity of the new guests were revealed as Paladin...s. Warriors of fake gods. Hypocrites. Liars. Nel glared at the paladins and her mood soured; instantly resentful towards the prince for accepting them into the group. They didn't need more people, they had...what, ten people? No, it made no sense. She'd have to sleep with hands around her throat with this many crusaders of "Gods" around. Luckily, Acacia played a song, a nice one with lyrics that Nel swayed back and forth to. Delighted, the monk clapped her hands together in applause, asking the bard how she knew how to play.

It wasn't until after, when she went inside her tent, and snuggled in her bedding that she realized something was wrong. Having been caught up in sweets and music; she tried to pin the moments that were bugging her. The image of Mirabella's bloody face came to mind. "I'm fine" she said, voice echoing inside the monk's head. "She's a warrior too...like the paladins." Nel thought, nuzzling herself in the sheets once more. She actually liked the warrior though. "I'll...make her see the error of her ways." Nel decided, knowing it'd take a lot of work to convert a warrior, ignorant about where to even start.

The yellow figure slept for a few hours and woke up shortly after; a biological mechanism built-in her mind after countless years of waking up early. She got up and exited the tent, an average tent that may or may have not been hers to begin with, and breathed in the cold morning air. The sun hadn't even thought of peeking over the horizon yet the priest, who will forever called the priest if he never introduces himself, was up. He was still speaking to the tall old man, the one who was Nel mistakenly took for a bandit. They talked as if they knew each other. The monk made sure to avoid them she was in their view but was far enough not to be approachable. The last think she wanted to do in morning was to speak with the righteous and holy.

She found an appropriate spot and began her morning regiment. First, a series of stretches that would loosen her arms and legs, and then a run. The camp provided an open space unlike the city of Paetax. The jog ensued, evolving into a run, then a sprint around the camp for what seemed to take span in three hours until she slowed down to a halt. Covered in sweat, she walked towards the stream, looking back every few seconds or so, and found a secluded spot where the stream bended behind the trees. In a matter of seconds, she unwrapped the yellow cloth around her body and jumped into the freezing cold stream, nearly screaming at the sudden change in heat, the slash in her arm reacting with pain before settling down. Just as quickly, the jumped out, and covered herself up with her unwrapped robes, which was now a long yellow cloth, and dried herself up in them.

The Monastery was fickle in the lack of necessary possessions, which included towels, and instead made the robes of quality to act like one. They taught the children to wrap the robes nice and tight to keep them from falling off and if they didn't; well...it was embarrassing none the less. Partially clothed, she dipped the segment that was covered in her dry blood, and wringed out the blood using her hands. After repeating the process a few more times, the blood finally came out from it, only a slight stain left that can be seen up-close.
Feeling slightly damp, Nel adored the cleanliness over her skin, a feeling which was almost forgotten in the three days of travel to Paetex. To think back on it gave her a shudder for how long she went without a bath. The sun shone and the morning officially arrived as Nel treaded back into the camp, tempted by the smell of cooked meats but avoiding them, just in time to see the Prince gathering tinder around the pile of corpses.

It took a minute or two to understand what the prince was doing and Nel stood dumbfounded until she noticed the fire in Rydas' hand. She wanted to voice her concern for the bodies to the prince and did so when he mentioned of a prayer for the deceased; cutting off anyone who may be speaking.
"Excuse me, but shouldn't we dig the graves first before a prayer?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Lance Elgard Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Callavan Sole Character Portrait: Geraint Magdohl
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“I am quite alive Callavan, if poison, the gallows a serrated blade and a Riftwalker could not be my end I don’t think a stick stuck on my arse is anything to worry about, besides I have got an old friend to drag me back to safety if things get messy”

Now that the prince was done he figured it was time to tell them about Geraint “Ladies and gentlemen id like to introduce you to Geraint Maghdohl or… G for those who are close, in any case he is a shaman the kind that you would not like to find in a dark alley or anywhere really… he is strong as a bull and just as stubborn never argue with the shaman because once he is set on something only Deud could strafe him away… but few friends are as true, reliable and fierce”

Geraint had told him how he had not aged a day –That’s because I didn’t…- “Well I wish I could say the same about you, before you didnt look so goddamn wasted you old fart" he laughed as he spat the words... Geraint probably knew or at the very least suspected something... every time they met he always made the same remark

Akdov smirked at the paladin, this was one of the nice ones it seemed “Lance, good man we share a common goal and that makes us allies I will put all my abilities to our endeavor” it wasn't necessary to add how many times Akdov had been cornered and barely survived to the blades and clubs of the so called defenders of the faith “Fear no betrayal or secrets from me, you will see it coming if there is anything you should be worried about” there was however also something he wanted to ask of his fellows but had quite got the nerve to speak, but a Paladin was just the thing "Might I ask a little advice of you later lance? I am not the most formidable or sensible fighter maybe I could benefit from your directions"

The round up afterwards came easy, with the singing of the bard to sweeten their moods, she was good at it and made the priest realize that while she had no weight or utility in combat or practical purposes the others might as well see him as that, but she knew how to play a song and it soothed him, as everyone was making their ways to sleep he would go sleep under a trunk or something of the like, probably Geraint was going to sleep like a wild animal and snore loud enough for everything in a 20 kilometer radius to hear them all.

The priest mind came back to Ryja, never had something had pushed him so far, had she lived he would have probably forsaken his responsibilities to Deud for that maiden... but as they say... Deud has a plan for everything and if he willed for her sacrifice then it was simply meant to be,besides she made her choice and he had accepted it long ago

Even if I never agreed to it

It was good to have Geraint show up again, but memories of an unwelcome nature had surfaced as well... so many had died to stop the Vradakah and he knew it had been worth it all, even if a whole continent had to die to stop the mad goal of the Riftwalker it would be called a god damned good bargain, he was proud of what they had achieved... but it had left him full of sorrow, a survivor guilt and the longing of their company

He wasnt going to get any sleep so he might as well stand watch, he approached the prince and told him "prince, you might want to get some sleep I already got enough from that wound so im not in the right mood if you catch my meaning" the man didnt look in the right mood either, but as a priest it was the right thing to do, he figured he could lighten his mood too "You know, having two paladins a prince and a priest we could easily make a knighting here and there or who knows even a wedding ceremony" he gave a chuckle at his own joke, one the prince did not seem to share

Holy brew, the court of this one is going to be boring as the underlands

"Go catch some sleep your highness, Ill sleep when im dead"

The next morning he woke up to a discussion about what to do with the corpses, the monk wanted to bury them "lass you can not afford yo be so naive!, next you will have us tracking their family members to return any heirlooms, we`ve dallied here long enough as is and frankly we dont know if they have any friends in the area and if this is the case I wont be bothered to dig them a grave" he made a nod to the mages "let the flames purify them, they lived by the sword and died by it, only fair way to go" but a prayer was needed no matter how wicked the men and women might have been " Lance I think you, who did not drawn their blood would be the right man to say anything in the rites of passage for this wretched or..." he looked at Geraint "Well G could do a ritual for them... but they're not worth the effort of the man Id say" he scratched his beard and said "Ready when you are your majesty"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Xan Hallister Character Portrait: Narenia Halen
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#, as written by Celedia
As the bard played her tune, Mirabella allowed her gaze to settle onto the dancing fire, imagining that the flames were keeping time with Acacia’s melody until the last note drifted off into the otherwise quiet night. A few people had already gone towards their tents and with the night watches already being called upon, the warrior found herself with little else left to do other than retire for the night.

She bid everyone that remained around the campfire a good night as she stood, then brushed off bits of dirt and brush from her legs. Instead of a using her tent, she had opted for simply sleeping a bit away from the other tents so that she had a full, unhindered 360 degree view around her. This was the way she was used to sleeping while traveling and only if it rained would she bother with setting up any sort of canopy for protection.

As she neared her bedroll, a small smile formed as she recalled the night before when the small yellow-clad monk had shared her bed. The memory caused the Triansui to worry over Nel for a moment because the monk had seemed so worried about her earlier when she had thought the warrior was injured. Mira felt badly for leaving Nel’s side so quickly.

I will have to remember to catch her tomorrow before we mount our steeds to make sure that she is doing well… The Triansui repeated the thought several times to make sure that she would recall it the next morning while she settled in, cleaning her weapons and removing her chest piece so that she would be comfortable when sleep finally decided to overtake her. It was far easier to sleep in her muslin undershirt, leather pants and boots than in her full gear.

Mirabella did not even recall how long it took her to fall asleep but her eyes did not flutter open until the first tentative tendrils of dawn’s first light found their way onto her face. Giving herself a few moments to stretch and awaken, Mira then began to methodically don her armor once more and pack the meager belongings which she had unloaded from her steed the night before. If she had been riding alone, she would have given a sharp whistle that would have had Blaze running over to her side but instead, out of respect since others were still sleeping, Mira grabbed her bags and made her way over to the small clearing in which her mare and some of the other steeds had been placed.

As if sensing her presence, Blaze whinnied softly and trotted over to the warrior, leaning her head down to receive a kiss and a nuzzle upon the nose as Mira spoke to her softly. “Hey, love. Good job keeping an eye out on these folks. Have you been eating your fill?” The warrior ran a hand down over the mare’s neck once more before turning away. “We’ll be leaving soon, Blaze. Another day of travel it seems so be ready for it, aye?”

The smell of breakfast wafted through the air towards her nostrils and she breathed in deeply, deciding to double back into the forest for a moment to see if she could help out with procuring a bit of extra food since they were still in an area where fresh vegetation was abundant. She had traveled extensively before and some of that time had been with woodland people like the rangers that had shown her edible versus inedible berries and the like. Using one of the cloth pieces from her bag, she gathered up enough blackberries and raspberries until her makeshift pouch was overflowing then carefully made her way back towards camp.

“Anyone want fresh fruit with your morning meal?” She arched a brow at both Xan and Nari as she took a seat by the ranger, picking out a few of the raspberries for herself and popping them into her mouth as she finally realized there was chatter surrounding her.

The Priest mentioned burning the bodies and her nose wrinkled in disgust as she turned, seeing that the Prince already stood near the pile of corpses with a torch. “I do despise the scent of burning flesh. Don’t know about you but I am going to eat quickly before they light them ablaze.” Her words were conversational, directed to whoever was seated nearby and she held true to her statement, quickly starting on a bowl of grains and honey topped with a few extra berries.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Feylon Haradas
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#, as written by slcam
Acacia was happy to see that many had enjoyed the song. She felt it was a fitting to end the long day on a happy note, literally. She bid those still sitting around at the goodnight and went to retrieve her bedroll. She found a bedroll near her bundles and decided it might have been hers. It was somewhat dirty, but otherwise unharmed. She moved it a bit closer to the fire, dusting it off, and lay her lute gently by her belongings. She took a folded piece of cloth that unfolded into a waterproof sack out of one of her bigger pockets and slipped the lute into it, firmly tying it shut. She would have to buy a real case eventually, but she had yet to find one that was good enough. She took off her cloak, tunic, and boots and snuggled into her bedroll.

She quickly fell into a deep, troubled sleep. Nightmares plagued her as they hadn't in months. She woke up in the morning feeling more tired than when she had gone to sleep. She wasn't the first to wake up or the last, but she could already smell breakfast cooking. She wriggled out of her bedroll and put on her boots, still only dressed in her white shirt and pants. She began packing, still only half awake gathering everything so it could easily be packed back on the horse. She went to the river again, this time finding a small waterfall, and washed up before returning to camp. Now more fully awake, she returned to the fire, got dressed the rest of the way, and ate breakfast, smiling at Xan as he sluggishly got up. It seemed she wasn't the only one that was not a morning person.

She paid little attention to the various conversations around the camp, her mind still foggy with tiredness. She quickly finished the breakfast, noting how good it tasted but not really registering it, and lugged the various packs and lute over to the horses and arranged them with the Prince's help. Soon after, the Prince was ready to burn the bodies. Obviously, and surprisingly to Acacia, Nelinia thought this was barbaric and wanted to bury the bandits. Acacia did not have much care either way, though burning them would take less effort.

Quickly bored, Acacia decided she might as well get some exercise to wake up a bit more, and began to do some quick stretches. A moment later they were still arguing, a few others joining in, and Acacia put her hands on to the ground an lifted her feet in the air, her cloak, tunic, and hair hanging crazily around her head as she easily balanced on her hands. After a moment, she began walking on her hands around those arguing over the bodies, feet pointed gracefully in the air. The action was very much like a child bored of his mother chatting with friends and trying to find something to do. When the argument finally ended, Nelinia deciding to stay behind and bury the bodies, Acacia gave a relieved sigh.

Tipping forward so her legs began to fall, she tucked them in and rolled to her feet. She wondered what Nelinia would even dig these graves with, she hadn't seen a shovel among their packs. She supposed that while Nelinia had decided to just catch up later, it would be difficult since she had no horse, not to mention she would be digging the graves alone and without a shovel. Nelinia seemed a bit angry, yelling at Prince Rydas, but Acacia thought little about it, seeing the argument as unimportant anyway.

Walking over to the monk with a lighthearted smile, Acacia put a friendly arm around the angry monk's shoulder, turned to look at the prince with a silly smile on her face, and said, "Well, I suppose that means I will stay behind as well. Can't leave my riding buddy behind, now can I?" She winked at Nelinia. "Anyway, it seems like she could use some help," she said, looking at the pile of bodies with a sigh. Nelinia began digging and Acacia joined her, squatting down and pulling a dagger out to make digging a bit easier. She looked up as Feylon came over and tried to convince Nelinia to just leave. She sat with her hands on her knees and waited for the monk's response.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Callavan Sole
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With conversation dieing down Callavan took his leave of the fire's warmth. He faded into the woods for a bit of privacy as he applied the ointment from the Triansui. It took a lot of the bite from his sore legs. With that taken care of, he returned to his tent to find that it had been trampled in the brawl. Taking a closer look, he saw that it wasn't too damaged and was still usable, but he was tired and didn't much care for setting it up a second time in one night. Instead he took his bedroll and found a soft patch of grass to sleep on.


Dawn came much faster than he would have liked. The sun shone right into his eyes to wake him. A few of the others had woken as well, but there were others who had managed to stay asleep. He sat himself up and reached for his flask only to find that it was still empty. Being sober for so long was starting to sour his mood.

Stifling a yawn, he packed up the trampled tent and set it aside with the rest of his pack and tack, figuring that there was little point and saddling his horse so soon. He'd let the beast rest for now.

With what little chores he had set for himself taken care of, he made his way to the fire where breakfast was in the works. While the Prince cooked, Van pulled out some parchment and charcoal. His hand moved slowly, weaving lines together into intricate patterns. It had been a while since he had worked on any new spells he realized. He had crafted a new spell easily enough, but sticking to spells that he was already familiar with had made him forget a lot of the nuances of spellwork. This new spell was far too inefficient and weak for what he wanted. He crumpled the parchment and tossed it into the fire before pulling another sheet from his satchel. This was repeated a dozen or so times before the food was ready.

He shoved his writing tools away and sat fuming while he ate. He ignored the others mostly, sticking to his own little mindscape. So much mindless chattering, he thought to himself. It was only when the Triansui joined the group around the fire that he pulled himself from his own reverie. He retrieved the ointment from his satchel and tossed it into her lap.

”Thanks for that. It was useful,” he said. His food was finished and the prince was getting ready to burn the bodies, so he left her that and went to ready his horse.

It didn't take him long and seeing that most of the other horses were readied as well, he thought that their merry little band was set to go. This left him only slightly surprised to find them arguing over what to do with the bodies. The fact that the monk of all people was the one arguing was much more surprising. Callavan didn't much care what happened to the bodies. He found it difficult to give a damn about anyone that tried to kill him. Rather than joining in, he waited for them to come to a compromise.

When they didn't and the monk chose to stay behind, he simply shrugged, happy that they were ready to leave. A couple of others spoke to the monk, making some very good points he noticed. Then the bard joined her in digging graves. Van rolled his eyes, thinking that it was entirely pointless. Still, he thought back to the bar, where the two had stopped him from making a complete ass of himself over some petty squabbling.

”Oh for fuck's sake,” he muttered to himself before calling out to the leaving group. Oi! I'll catch up with the lot of you!

Walking over to the pile, he pulled a sword from one of the bandits. With that he dug it into the ground and started drawing out a spell. He spoke as he worked, ”I'm only doing this once and in all likely hood, I'll be the first to set fire to the next bunch that attacks us. You may be from some hole in the ground where everyone farts fairy dusts and rainbows, but out here you're gonna have to grow a thicker skin. How many innocent people do you think these bastards have killed? How many women they raped? Children's throats slit? They don't give a damn about anyone else and if we hadn't killed them, they'd have just as easily killed us. And now you want to take your sweet time just to give them whatever the hell you think a proper funeral is?”

By the time he finished ranting the spell was set. ”Alright now, back the hell up,” he said. Bending down, he placed a finger on one of the lines. He could feel the magic swell and pulse around him as he channeled it into the sigil. The spell required more power than he'd normally use at once. By the time he was finished with this foolishness he'd probably need to wait at least a few hours before he could cast anything else. When the spell had the all the power it needed he backed away. At first it did nothing, but then the earth bowed inward, towards the sigil. It flowed up and out into a neat ring of dirt around a circular hole that was as deep as a man was tall and about four times as wide.

”I'm not digging a grave for each man. If they fought together then they can rot together,” he said. ”Now help me move these bastards.”The sword he left planted in the ground, he'd need it again when he filled the hole. Hopefully they'd be done before the others got too far. At worst they'd have to ride through the night to catch up.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Feylon Haradas Character Portrait: Xan Hallister Character Portrait: Callavan Sole
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#, as written by Deallo
Anger wasn't a feeling that Nel was used to but it was something she managed to hold onto surprisingly well as she unearthed clumps of dirt from her hands and flung them behind her. Her ears were burning from all the shouting and she found herself taking deep breaths. The scene was all too familiar to her. Her hands were smaller and less calloused then, heavy droplets of rain beating against her head and monk robes, desperately trying to dig out the mud along with all the other hands. Hands of all sizes assisted her endeavor and twenty graves were miraculously dug out in the rainy weather. The small girl dragged three of the equally small yellow-clothed bodies.

The monk was brought back into present by the words of the group's self-proclaimed thief who had brought the duty upon himself to lecture Nel. She ignored every single word...unaware of the seed of doubt Xan planted in her fertile mind. His words would've been convincing enough had it not for the anger clouding her thoughts. "I wasn't kicking and screaming."[/i] Nel spoke bitterly, looking at her side to discover him already walking away. Speak and leave; it's all everyone does." she thought bitterly as her hands were immersed in earth. The hand on her shoulder caused her to jump up again and to nearly throw a blow until she caught sight of the bard's face and heard her voice. [b]"You mustn't scare me all the time Acacia but thank you for the help." Nel said, slightly happy at the fact someone decided to help her.

A shadow was cast over Nel and the shadow squatted down; prompting itself to it's owner. Feylon. From what she remembered him as; the bloody man at the Black Vagabond. His words were filled with hate towards the men they have killed. "To justify an evil by deeming it be used on evil is still evil. I cannot pretend that spilling the blood is anymore right then spilling the blood of a child." Nel however stopped digging for a moment and looked at the ranger's face, noticing all the various scars that took place and then down at his hand.
"This isn't the first time I had to dig graves." Nel quietly admitted, turning her attention back to the ground, rearing her arm back she stabbed her palm deep into the dirt and shoveled large clumps of wet earth by hand. "I shall be finished by noon." She said rather quaintly.

The next person to lecture Nel was the man with the beard. Though with such a description that could now pertain to three people of their motley group of adventurers, it was the mage who had spoken, Callavan, who was also dragging around a sword as he spoke. The harsh words made Nell stand up; to instinctively stand her ground literally and mentally to his cruel words. As soon as she was told to step back, Nel opened her mouth, ready to speak back, until she noticed no sound could come out of her throat. Nel tried again but was met with only the sound of air. A desperation to speak came over her. No matter how hard she tried; she couldn't talk back. That was when the ground started to shift, in and out, into a large circular hole.

Nel contemplated whether or not she should lash out at the mage. On one hand, he insulted her, her monastery, and her fellow monks in one fell swoop. On the other hand, it seemed he created the hole with magic, thus supporting her? Was it truly support? Was it pity? Was it contempt?

Clueless on what to say, angry enough to ball her fists, but grateful enough to accept the help, the monk went around the circle and went to the pile of bodies. She hadn't noticed the fact how hard she was pulling each body, damn near throwing them into the pit with one arm each, obviously venting her anger in each and every pull until there were no more bodies to pull. With the weapons of the dead left in a pile, Nel grabbed each sword, and stabbed it forcefully into the perimeter of the hole, any weapon that could stab was dealt in this manner, any weapon that had just an edge or shields were thrown onto the perimeter.

As soon as the monk was done with the procedure, she no longer wanted to see Callavan's face nor hear his insulting words any longer, and proceeded towards the fire to grab her quarterstaff with dirty, bloody mud-stained hands. With glazed over emerald eyes, she managed to walk over to Maria, Acacia's horse whom Nel promptly named, taking unsteady breaths, and awaited the bard to follow suit.

The monastery steeled her hands and skin but it never would've nor could've; steel her fragile heart.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Xan Hallister Character Portrait: Narenia Halen Character Portrait: Callavan Sole Character Portrait: Travian Zarel
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Travian
As Travian began eating, a girl pulled out a lute and announced that she would play. He perked up in excitement; a bard was always a welcome addition though he found himself wondering how well she had fared in the battle. He made a mental note to watch out for her. The song she sung was a familiar one, and he would have joined her if the rest of the group hadn’t been settling down to sleep. His singing was of the kind only welcome in boisterous celebrations where everyone was too drunk to discern quality.

The wine helped his exhaustion catch up with him and he dazedly prepared for sleep when the song was done. He didn’t have a bedroll so instead he pulled out his cloak and laid it out on the ground. He decided to take off his plate mail for the night since he knew it was a luxury he might not have in the future, given their destination. The back of his mind nagged him about the possibility of more bandits but he shrugged it off, “I’ve still got my chain mail on….”

As he settled in he saw that the priest and the older man he introduced were preparing to stay up and keep watch. He felt a pang of guilt for not thinking of that and volunteering himself, but it had been a long day and the two men seemed glad for the chance to catch up.

The smell of the food woke him. As he rose he saw that pretty much everyone else was up and nearly ready to go. Though his stomach rumbled, he decided it was best to get everything ready before settling down to eat. He began with the horse. The grey mare may have been dumb but at least it wasn’t intentionally disobedient or stubborn. It let him put on the saddle and packs without any fuss, “I guess it could be worse.” He decided he may as well come up with a name for it, but that could be decided later- it would give him something to do while they rode.

As he began putting on his armor the ranger he had healed approached him. “Thank you, Paladin, for coming to my aid.” She said as she bowed her head.

“No problem, I kind of shut everything out when I see someone is injured, sorry if I seemed cold.”

She sat down and he decided to join her once he finished getting his plate mail on. She gave a friendly greeting to Xan who seemed to be having trouble being up so early. Before he had a chance to address the thief, Mira joined the group with some fresh fruit. Since she offered he ate a little bit but left most of it for Mira and the others.

Xan was looking a little more awake after he finished eating so Travian decided to talk to him. “Your name’s Xan, right? I wanted to apologize for interrupting your privacy last night. I was impatient to find the group and didn’t consider that you were enjoying a moment alone.”

It was then that the Prince addressed the matter of the bodies. He knew a prayer for the dead, but before he could make his way over a heated debate broke out. Like the Prince, he was accustomed to cremation and though burial was not a totally foreign concept it was one he was unfamiliar with nonetheless. It was apparently very important to the monk though and she refused to budge on the issue. The argument ended with her attempting to dig graves by hand as the Prince and most of the party set off. He was a little torn, he wanted to help but he knew the monk was still fuming and might react with hostility to a stranger. That didn’t stop Xan and another man from giving her some advice before they left, but he could tell by her expression that even Xan’s friendly words only made her angrier.

He was relieved to see someone- the bard, come to help her. She finally seemed to calm down a little bit so he went to help too. And he was not the only one; a bearded man who soon revealed himself to be a mage used his magic to create a giant grave for them. Travian was grateful that he sped up the process but a little irked at the man’s rude words- they certainly weren’t going to make the monk any happier.

Travian and a handful of other people helped the girl pull the bodies into the hole. Once they were done the mage sealed it up again. He delivered his prayer quickly and silently before returning to his mount, giving the monk some space. He waited for everyone else to set off before bringing up the rear.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Narenia Halen Character Portrait: Callavan Sole Character Portrait: Travian Zarel Character Portrait: Geraint Magdohl
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#, as written by Celedia
Mirabella had finished her breakfast just as some of the others were beginning to trot off on their mounts and the argument that had ebbed and flowed behind her appeared to be resolved. Nel was surrounded by a few caring people who had not abandoned her to the task and the Triansui wasn’t surprised to see Bard girl by her side but she was intrigued that Ian, Van and Geraint had stuck around.

Nari spoke to her and though she agreed with every bit of it, she also had a soft spot for the monk but the small band that was burying the bodies already had a handful of capable fighters so it was with great reluctance that Mira decided to ride on after the Prince as well.

Still, she couldn’t leave the monk without saying something and she crossed the clearing and pulled the girl close, wrapping her in a quick bear hug before releasing her. “No act of kindness, no matter how small and no matter whom it is directed towards, is ever wasted. Do not let anyone ever let you believe differently.” With a smile and a nod directed to each of the others that would stay behind, Mira went for Blaze and mounted easily, clicking her tongue until the mare was set to a canter so that they could catch up to the others.

When she reached the group, she slowed her pace, settling her trail beside Nari’s where they would converse throughout the rest of the ride. Many subjects were broached but none delved too deeply into their pasts. Their friendship still, perhaps, too new for such things. Every once in awhile, the group fell into a comfortable silence, simply enjoying the sounds of nature that surrounded them.

It was during these lapses that Mira could not help but turn around to look behind her to see if the others had caught up to them yet. Hopefully, they would not be more than an hour or so behind the main body of travelers. Who knew what they would run into on the trail to the ruins since they had already had one battle less than a day after setting out from Paetax?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Callavan Sole
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#, as written by slcam
Acacia gave a small smile as Nelinia refused the ranger's hand, as she expected. Though Nelinia was naive, she was also dertermined, 'And downright stubborn,' when it came to doing what she felt was right. As even Callavan came over and began lecturing, Acacia began digging. She wondered if everyone would lecture the monk. She acted child-like at times, but she was definitely not a child. Digging, for this purpose especially, made Acacia fidgety as she refused to think of other times, times which had come to the forefront of her memories too many times in the past few days. Perhaps more that they had in the past several months.

Acacia noticed Callavan carving symbols in the ground with a sword. She decided it must have been some sort of spell and wiped her knife on the grass before it disapeared up her sleeve. She stood, and hearing his abrupt warning, backed away a bit. She thought about pulling Nelinia back as well, but figured she might actually get punched if she startled the still angry girl. Suddenly the ground opened for one large grave. Immediately, Nelinia went over and began flinging bodies in. Acacia managed to drag one body over before they were all taken care of. She was amazed at just how much strength Nelinia had. The mass grave was soon covered and it was time to go catch up to the rest of the group.

Nelinia stormed over to the horse, Maria, with a troubed look on her face. Acacia gave one last look at the camp and then at the grave, giving a small shudder. She smiled briefly at Nelinia and thought about saying something. She decided against it, the girl had been lectured too much already today, and it wasn't even noon yet. She strode over to Maria, checked to make sure everything was in place, and climbed into the saddle. She helped Nelinia up and made sure they were both firmly seated. It felt odd to be sitting there, and all the forgotten sore spots from yesterday felt just as sore again. This time, she remembered to put her feet in the stirrups, but just as quickly withdrew them. They were too high and Acacia had no desire to adjust them. When those others who had stayed behind were also ready, she set off, surprised to have no further difficuties so far.

After a few moments of silence that made Acacia antsy, she spoke, unable to bear it anymore. "So, Neli, if you don't mind me calling you that?" It came out as a question and she gave a small pause before continuing, "Tell me about where you come from. The mon..." She paused again with a sigh as she still couldn't remember. They caught up to the rest of the group quickly, and Acacia hoped the tension from earlier would be gone by now. That kind of tension was never any fun.

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Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn
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#, as written by Deallo
Nel stared at the stray strands of black hair wavering at her face and blew them forward with a huff only to have them fall back down again. Back in the monastery, this would've been the extent of her frustrations, had there been no little ones to teach as well. Mischievous little brats who'd pull pranks every so often and needed a slight punishment.

The monk wondered who was worse; the naive, undisciplined, sometimes mischievous children of the monastery or the insulting, patronizing adults of the group she traveled with now. In that instant; the latter definitely seemed worse. Nel caught the bard's smile and tried to smile back but simply couldn't do it. After being helped up onto the horse, the monk pulled up the yellow head over her head, and concentrated on her breath. She prolonged each inhale and exhale in an effort to calm herself and found the exercise, the same one which was taught when she herself was just a child, effective in finding some sort of peace. She thought back to when the warrior embraced her and gave her the words of encouragement no-one else was willing to give. The memory was comforting to have.

The horse trotted forward and Nel found herself looking at the back of Acacia, in between her shoulder blades, when she had conjured the nickname Neli. She paused for a second, having never been called Neli before, but found it oddly suitable. "The monastery?" Nel asked, somewhat surprised she had taken interest. "It's a big house where all the monks live, train, and eat in. There must be...120 something? 160 with the children?" She twisted her head, wondering what was the exact number before continuing. "The monastery is in a town called Kiron and the people are kind and grateful. We normally train our bodies or our minds through the days."

Nel paused and frowned, heaving a sigh as she glanced at her right arm, eyes focused on the area where the sword ailed her. "All this traveling to Paetex, and now, hasn't given any time to train or meditate. It makes me feel weak."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Lance Elgard Character Portrait: Callavan Sole Character Portrait: Geraint Magdohl
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Everyone seemed to be all brisk business once the bodies had been "properly" disposed of, well, with the possible exception of the bearded mage, but it was entirely possible, even likely, that the younger man had expended a great deal of energy opening and closing a hole in the earth that size. As such his relative lethargy was excusable at worst. Still, Geraint waited, for everyone to get up and ready to go and then followed, acting as vanguard for the group on their trek to catch up with the rest of their fellows.

The old man didn't have a horse, and a combination of pride and newness to the group precluded his asking to ride along with someone. He hadn't exactly been much help with the body disposal, and wouldn't he look the old crotchety fool to stay behind, do nothing, and then have to beg a ride to catch up with the others? Fortunately, and Geraint had kept this thought well in hand before making the decision to stay, he had a "Shamany way" to handle the problem. While he'd waited for the others to gather themselves together, the little bear cub, her riding companion, and the others, the aged watched had reached into one of a number of pouches kept beneath his kilt, pulling from the soft leather confines two small tokens. One was a crudely carved depiction of a spotted cat, though it's eyes seemed almost to move of their own accord if you looked at it out of the corner of your eye; the other was a much more detailed little elephant, ridges, wrinkles, trunk and all, intricately worked with obvious care and skill.

Plucking a long fallen leaf from the ground, the old Shaman crushed the brown brittle thing in the hand not carrying the tokens. He kneaded his fingers a moment or two, before opening his palm and blowing the leaf's fragments over the two animal tokens, muttering something in a gravely voice as he did so, and squeezing everything tightly in his fist for a moment or two. Then without further ceremony, he popped them both into his mouth, completely ignoring the fact that they were made of wood and sparsely covered in plant matter, and pressed them beneath his tongue. There was a tingling sensation as they seemed to meld their forms with his own "dissolving" in the old man's mouth, and then all was ready. Including his compatriots.

When they began to move, Geraint took up his caber and stayed to the rear, moving in only a light jog and yet matching pace with the horses. The dual tokens he'd used served, as one might expect, two purposes, one was to allow him to move at greater than normal speeds, the other was to give him the endurance to continue for the whole day if necessary. Like much of his mysticism they could be used differently depending on the situation. For example he could have used the speed token to grant him speeds faster than most mortal beasts, but the charm would have lasted only a few moments, a minute or two on the outside, whereas this lesser modification would last him the day. Either way, the spirit within would be spent for the rest of the day, until it had had time to recuperate.

Almost surprisingly, making Geraint realize he was getting pessimistic in his old age, his group seemed to catch up with the rest of their party with little incident, and indeed the remainder of the day past in a similar fashion. Till finally the time came for camp to be made, fires to be readied and tents to be pitched. One of the knights calling out duties shortly after everyone had grouped up in their chosen place for the night's rest.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Feylon Haradas Character Portrait: Xan Hallister
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#, as written by slcam
Acacia was content as Neli talked of the monastery. It sounded like a good place, like a family. That was something that Acacia had been missing for some time, but she pushed the thought aside."Wow, that many? Must be hectic," she said at Nelinia's estimation of how many children there were. She couldn't imagine having to look after that many, even with the lifestyle Nelinia was talking about. "I know what you mean about the traveling. It feels odd not being in a nice inn for several days, playing and telling stories early into the morning." Her thoughts continued, 'It still feels weird not sharing it all with Tal. I... it is my... my fault though.'

She was oddly quiet as they caught up to the group, a sulky look on her face though there was more than sulkiness in her heart. Through the talking and stories, she smiled and even chuckled when appropriate, but her heart wasn't in it. After a while they came in view of the lake and some of her sadness faded at the beauty of it all. She dismounted, held out a supportive hand for Nelinia if she needed it and stretched. They set up camp and Prince Rydas excused himself. He seemed exhausted.

After eating, Acacia also went to bed a bit early, rolling out her bedroll, taking off her boots and cloak, and snuggling in. It was almost as if she could feel an evil, threatening prescence emenating from the ruins. Slowly, to the sound of the others talking, she fell into a deep, dreamless sleep. All night, she tossed and turned. Eventually she was completely tangled in her bedroll.

Early in the morning, she was awakened by yelling. It was something about a situation. It sounded urgent enough to completey wake her, her mind already imagining, wondering what could have happened. Where they being attacked. She finally untangled herself from her bedroll and threw her cloak and boots on. She hurried over to where Xan had been and gaped at the tracks. She looked back to their origin, the Prince's tent. "Are you sure he hasn't come back?" she asked Feylon when he returned. "What's going on?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Lance Elgard Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Feylon Haradas Character Portrait: Xan Hallister Character Portrait: Geraint Magdohl
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The monk was a naive, naive fool there where no two ways around it her idealism would lead her to an early grave, he could only hope she was on her own when it happened.

It was better to drop the argument and ride out with the prince, he felt odd seeing how Geraint and Callavan had stayed behind with the woman, it gave him an ache he was not comfortable at all with, the journey was long and the priest kept most to himself and to his tome of truth, he was reading the holy passages of Deud´s landing and how he built the great hall which would house all of the faithful for when the end days came.

Then at last they arrived at the ruins Idassava, Akdov could only help to wonder what had left it in such status... he was a bit rusty in his history lessons but he did not remembered the citadel ever falling victim to a prolongated siege or a divine intervention, the necromancer had one day simply banished, he knew that it had been destroyed in the Sortelige wars, but until a few days ago he didnt even knew its location... the most probable outcome was that Errion and his army destroyed it, but that would mean that soldiers under his employ would have good knowledge of the place, soldiers that the prince could have used and none of them showed up to give insight of Del Reyanth's property

I should have paid more attention to my history lessons


As night creped in he felt some sort of tension in the prince and his companions, maybe it was time to enlighten them with a history lesson or two "Say this reminds me of the tale of the Vradakah; Accacia maybe you have heard of it" he began "before the King was a king and magic became structured there were wars raging on the continent, it was a truly terrible time mages had only morals holding their power back, today if you dont have a guild sign you are taken as soon as they can... but before, before people could use their gift to be tyrants and have a monstrous advantage over others and their power paved the way for abuse

There was one in particular, Vradakah the Riftwalker a woman that was not entirely sane and on hindsight how could she?"
he almost dug holes with the stare he gave at the mages "As I have it understood, mages are taught in schools about how to properly harness their magic so that they dont become a danger to themselves and others, but before people did not had those guidelines... the riftwalker was threading a dangerous path... her power and magic had began to shatter the reality around her, the skills she had belonged to a domain of absolute horror, things that shattered the sanity of lesser men... yes, she was almost close to fulfilling her goal until..." he grinned and looked at Geraint, he was there, maybe he could give a better version than the one Akdov remembered, after all everyone else failed to share the love Ryja and the priest had "Some adventurers made short work of her, I wonder if those adventurers where like us... if the trials that they faced tore them apart or bound them together for a common cause which made them stronger"


***************************************************************

The shouts woke him up... he had been having a dream at the hall and there had been a most exquisite roast, well that was there and this was here "What is all the ruckus about?" he woke up with his hair all tangled, a breath so foul it would move rocks and a voice so raspy someone could swear he ate razors last day... all in all he was looking good and feeling better

Apparently the prince was missing, Akdov would have dismissed that as him feeling adventurous but if the two rangers agreed that something was amiss he was not about to question their skills "Men of god" he shouted in a thunderous voice to his paladin companions but it seemed that they were busy elsewhere, he decided it was time to be proactive

He found Geraint half awoken and filled him in "The prince is gone get up!" he ran towards Lance´s resting place "Lance, his majesty is missing! get up we need to get ready"

Damnit, not again

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Xan Hallister Character Portrait: Callavan Sole
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#, as written by Deallo
Nel was glad she wasn't the only one uncomfortable with traveling and the bard's words managed to bring peace to the fact that it was normal to feel a little weak while traveling. The monk expected the bard to rattle on with her various tales and stories like last time and eagerly awaited them as she remained seated on the horse until she realized Acacia was silent. The silence was unexpected; but Nel appreciated it none the less as silence was something hard to find these last few days and said nothing to voice her concern. They soon caught up with the main group and Nel refused to even glance at the prince's general direction; noticing the old man catching up to the horses by jogging. Nel would have called out to the shaman had she not been busy holding onto the bard so she wouldn't fall off.

The evening they had set up camp, spirits were up once more, stories floating around the campfire. Nel was the only person in the group to hold a grudge against the prince and one of two to hold one up against their hairy bearded mage. While she sat next to trusted individuals, those who didn't sport false deities to fight for, she made to sure to ignore the presence of Rydas and Callavan. The monk absorbed all the stories at the campfire, even the one that their priest had spoke of, envious that she had no interesting tales of adventure to speak of. The food was just as delicious to eat, a mix of various berries, some sweet, others sour, but each complimented the others flavor and was savored.

That night when she slept, her head was furthest away from the entrance to her tent, and held her quarterstaff in her hands. It was a necessary precaution; she wasn't going to be killed by soldiers of "God" in her sleep. Her sleep was, as always, short and sweet. Nel decided it'd be best to meditate, at least until everyone woke up and did so in the safety of her tent. Every sound was silenced, sounds including the Rydas' walk into the ruins, as hours seemed like days, and the sun gave light over the camp. The monk had felt refreshed as she left her tent and managed to take the time to stretch out her limbs and the voice of a shouting paladin, the one which Mirabella was fond of, started to shout of trouble. After a moment listening to the shouting around the camp; Nel could hear the distressed words that the prince was missing.

"Men of god!" The priest thundered for a moment, prompting Nel to reluctantly turn her head, then to turn it back and walk the other way. She wanted to be nowhere near that crowd. Then for a moment, she thought she could make out a figure across the trees, and started to move towards the brush until she made it into a clearing and saw the ruins of Idasseva. The monk ran towards the shadowy figure, believing it to be Rydas, until it turned around from the noise she made, and the face of Xan appeared.
"Oh, Xan." Nel said, somewhat surprised at how easily she mistook him. "Have you seen the prince? It seems he's walked off somewhere..." The monk didn't know if she was worried or glad. Everyone at the camp seemed to think it was the end of Calisma.

Was it?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Lance Elgard Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Feylon Haradas Character Portrait: Xan Hallister Character Portrait: Hayley Furdiligit. Character Portrait: Callavan Sole Character Portrait: Travian Zarel Character Portrait: Geraint Magdohl
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He laid on his bedroll, goblet in hand, dripping the last essence of wine that he had missed, when it rang in his head. The voices echoed, but sounded as though part of a dream. That was of course only until one rang then grew louder, even in his sleep he tried to make out hat it was saying, "Lance, his majesty is missing! get up we need to get ready". With a thunderous roar it awoke him. He rose quickly and wildly to the news.

"What? Wher- Where has he gone?" As he stood, it seemed almost in an instant that he was holding his sword and shield. It took him a second to gain focus. Seeing that everyone was in a sort of organized panic he realized that this was not a time for battle, but one of haste in action. He threw down his weapons to begin donning his armor. His eyes glanced over the party hurriedly, making it difficult to make out who was who, what he did notice though was that he is probably the last person awake.

As he struggled to quickly make ready, another voice rang in his head, that of the prince, and of his own promise to him. A heavy breath of rage and guilt heaved in his chest. Immediately he turned and began shouting orders in a way out of character of himself. "Quickly grab a small bite to eat and drink! Let us try to quickly take down camp, let us not leave too much trace. Rangers and rogues, begin tracking cautiously if you have not already. The rest will follow your lead, with mages in the middle, and the warriors covering the rear." As he was about to put on his chest plate he first rested his head on his horses saddle, attempting to gather his thoughts, center himself. "It may be best to either release your horse or walk with it, as we must be extra careful and aware from here on in towards the ruins. If the Prince's cloak is still around, someone should put it on, covered by the hood, and pose as the Prince to not raise the suspicions of any who see us."

He shouted the orders while clearing his sad excuse for a camp, reaching into his sack to blindly break off a piece of bread. The walking will have to suffice for a morning workout. The adrenaline from being awakened so hurriedly made his armor feel light as usual, but he knew it would not last. Eventually the lack of sleep and exercise would weigh on him, but he could not show it. "You're now our head of defense" the Prince's words made him shake under his armor, but he had to keep his head up and his eyes sharp now. "I will not fail you again" he whispered to himself, sheathing his sword and picking up his shield.

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Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Lance Elgard Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Feylon Haradas
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Akdov was shaken by what seemed to be a hasty choice by Lance, he had not yet had a good chance to see the group´s capabilities which made him wonder about things, was this his first time taking command?

"Lance?" Akdov aproached the man "Do you know any of these men? I was busy being unconscious on our last skirmish but from what I have seen right now we are in need of cool heads and distribute our formations accordingly.

We do not quite yet know what happened I wager it is a bit early but I think the citadel is our goal and properly manage our assets, we have two mages, a former soldier, a triansui, a professional scoundrel, a ranger huntress, one odd merchant, a monk a bard and two consecrated paladins.

By the looks of it the huntress is already on her way, she can be lead scout but until we realize what we are up against it is too early too manage our manpower, wait until the rangers get back to us.

I think the triansui and the soldier have military formation, they must be accustomed to lead in one way or the other, assign the safety of each of the mages to them, I think Xan is probably more used to urban environments and dealing with infiltration in man made edifications, well have to ask him when he gets here.

Travian or Geraint should lead our charge I can tell that they are reliable on that spot, the triansui and the soldier can be hold in our rear while we allow the rogues do their thing, whatever that is anyway, us and the mages should keep our senses keen in case there is something supernatural about this disappearance."
he met his stare and asked a much more personal question in a lower voice "tell me true have you ever been part of an exorcism before? I might be jumping to conclusions but we have got to consider the nature of the previous inhabitant of the citadel, if either you or Travian have had any run with this things before we would have chances that would make me confident, ill try to talk Accacia out of this, I would just feel better if she was out of harm´s way"

He walked towards where the bard was, currently engaged with the soldier in chatter

What was the soldier´s name again?, something about hard or felon

"Accacia?" he said looking to them both "good to see you are up, seems like most of us are, go to Lance so that he might better prepare our positions and... bard" judging by how well the monk and the woman were getting along this was probably as much of a spitfire "If what the rangers are saying is true we probably are going to plunge into peril head on, I just have to ask that mayhap you should stay in the camp if anything goes grim on that cursed place, it simply strikes me that the gift that Deud gave you was that of music not combat, id hate to see you go in and not out" she didnt looked particularly moved

Well time for advice

"Would you not agree soldier?" he told Feylon hoping to find some backup there

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Lance Elgard Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Feylon Haradas Character Portrait: Travian Zarel
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#, as written by conor
Feylon looked at the bard as he processed the question. "I highly doubt he has come back. He is not in his tent, the footprints lead to the citadel and his cloak is resting somewhere down the path" as he pointed to the red fabric on the floor. Then he acknowledged the Priests question of the bard. Feylon turned to the bard and thought for a minute before opening his mouth. "While I agree with the Priest to some degree I do not wish to relegate you to camp duty. It will be dangerous down there. If you wish to come I will certainly not stop you." He un-sheathed one of his two daggers and offered it to the monk. Surely better protection than a lute and some throwing knives. Whether she took it or not was up to her and he thrust it into the ground near her feet.

As everyone began shouting and running off Feylon grew angry, People were beginning to be reckless about the task at hand. The priest had more tactical sense than he had imagined with some tweaking it would be the best shot they had of infiltrating the citadel. His anger however got the better of him. He cleared his throat and began to shout. "EVERYONE STOP!". He would not be responsible for the ones who had already run off, that was their choice and he wasn't going to strain himself to look after the ones who already left. "Right now we are heading into something unknown. Evil creatures are probably lurking inside the citadel, all of which will poses some kind of magic. We need the mages, the shaman and the priest for a magical defence and this is how we should do it. Up front we need two soldiers preferably Mirabella and Travian. In the middle of those two I recommend the shaman however it seems he has run off down towards the citadel. Hopefully if we catch up to him he can fit in. Right behind them in the middle is where the two mages should fit in. One looking left and the other out right to protect the flanks from creatures. However each mage should stick tight to the warrior in front of them for extra protection. Behind that I will slot in and the other ranger should she come back. This should allow us adequate protection for aerial attacks with our bow's. Then behind me again I would have everyone else in a semi-circular shape protecting the rear and closing down the flank's, with the other paladin, Lance?. To hold the rear line.."

Feylon took a deep breath and wiped his forehead. He waited to see whether anyone would listen to him so they could try an ordered and structured assault on the citadel. Otherwise he feared the Prince and most of the group would be lost to them and Feylon was not done with the Prince yet. Not by a long shot.

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Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Feylon Haradas Character Portrait: Xan Hallister Character Portrait: Narenia Halen
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#, as written by Deallo
Nel wished the self-proclaimed thief would expand on saying where the prince was. Really, he could've been anywhere, just taking a long walk. The monk heard the rattle of metal and glimpsed at the source; Xan's chain and dagger weapon. For a brief moment, Nel thought about how he could use such a weapon, but it was pushed aside as she finally had a clue where the prince might've been. Xan was going in after the prince in the ruins by himself and the monk would've followed suit if he hadn't asked of her to bring the others. "I'll make sure to bring them here." Nel assured Xan before he looked inside the ruins.

The thief's next words made Nel slightly confused; as she had little to no idea what a "trap" was. His joke lost all humor by the time it reached the monk's ears and it held very little humor to begin with. The thief disappeared inside and Nel wondered if she should say anything before she left. "Be careful!" she decided on shouting out. Those words of caution felt oddly appropriate if the ruins were as dangerous a place as she thought it to be. She started to walk back to camp to tell the others and to retrieve her quarterstaff, something she kept forgetting to grasp in the beginning of her travels, when she was met with another familiar figure. "Nari!" the yellow-clad monk called out, waving her hand at the same time.

When Nel was close enough she explained that Xan had gone inside the ruins to look for traps. "I need to bring the others to the entrance and get ready myself." She told the ranger just before she started to speed up her walk, jogging towards the camp. Nel soon arrived and just as quickly, ducked into her tent to grab her quarterstaff, and went to Maria's side to pull out four rolls of bandages. While she overheard orders being barked by the man she only knew as the bloodied man, she wrapped both legs in the bandages, calves down to her feet, leaving only the heel and toes visible. It was a tradition for any monk who would soon spar with someone or enter battle to wrap their limbs in bandages to shield their skin and bone from damage.

Nel couldn't help but think how everyone was gathering their weapons and preparing for a battle. As the monk tore a hole on one end of the rolled bandages with her teeth, she walked toward the ranger that seemingly made himself in charge of the operation, and started to roll the bandage across her knuckles. "Xan went in the ruins to find...traps. He told me to bring everyone to the entrance." Nel said in a very professional manner, discipline showing in her speech as the bandages stopped at her elbows. She gave a nod to the ranger and started to wrap her right arm; walking towards Acacia, kicking her staff along, until she stopped beside her and Nel's lips pursed into a smile. "Acacia." Nel said, motioning with her bandaged hand to get her in order.

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Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Lance Elgard Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Feylon Haradas
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#, as written by slcam
Acacia nodded at the ranger's words. She looked toward the citadel, quickly seeing the cloak. Now, more than ever, she felt the evil that eminated from that place and wondered just what awaited them there. She was just about to hurry off and help pack up the camp when Akdov came up to them. It seemed he already needed to state his opinion, loudly of course, so early in the morning. Acacia crossed her arms and listened as he voiced his opinion on how Acacia couldn't handle what was ahead. At least that is what she took from his speech. Feylon, on the other hand, seemed much more reasonable. Acacia nodded her thanks at Feylon before picking up the dagger and tucking it in her belt.

She took a small breath and calmly responded to Akdov, though there was still a certain fire in her eyes. "I knew when I decided to come on this quest that it would be dangerous. If I were unprepared and unwilling to take that risk, I would have stayed in Paetax. If expected this quest to be safe, I would have left after the bandit attack last night. Despite what you may think, I did not come here on a whim, just to play music and entertain. I know enough about Idassava to understand the magnitude of what we are taking on. However, I am ready to do whatever possible to see this to completion, and that is not cowering in fear at the thought of 'perils' and taking the easy way out while everyone else enters this 'cursed place.' I appreciate your concern, but you greaty misjudge my character if you think I will abandon this quest because of the danger that I always knew was there."

Acacia turned from the man, not wanting to argue, with a new determination apparent on her face. She quickly helped pack everything up as several people suggested battle plans. She grabbed Maria's reins in order to lead her on, and Nel quickly found her. Acacia returned the monk's smile with one of her own and nodded at her. "Neli." There wasn't much else to say at the moment, so Acacia said little. When everyone was ready, Acacia steadily, set off toward the looming citadel. As they drew closer, Acacia couldn't help but stare at the large ruins that loomed before them.

At Lance's words, Acacia bore a considering look. "I may just be a bard," she glanced at Akdov before continuing, "but I would think that, though our quest is to find the amulet, the Prince should be our first priority..." 'since he is the only heir.' She left the words unsaid, but they still seemed to hang in the air. It almost felt as if she had shouted them. She looked uncertainly at the looming ruins, feeling uneasy, but determined to find the Prince.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Lance Elgard Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Feylon Haradas Character Portrait: Alice Sangera Character Portrait: Narenia Halen Character Portrait: Callavan Sole Character Portrait: Travian Zarel Character Portrait: Geraint Magdohl
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Akdov was dissapointed by Lance`s lack of leadership, if he ever wanted to be a paladin he would have to accept that protecting is part of the task but so is leading and the idea of the soldier leading was not something he wanted, the man was unable to detect supernatural presences and could not distinguish if the events unraveling in front of him were to be fought by faith or by steel

"We have to move people, those that are ready prepare to move out we already have quite the lot of people headed in the citadel while I will not have anyone enter it just yet we must judge the situation from what we see in the outside and verify if Xan is back with news" despite how reluctant he was and longing for the comfort of just following around it was too risky to let others make choices that he should be making "Geraint already moved ahead, so it is settled that he will be our vanguard I know the man and can attest that he will do fine"

He pointed at the green eyed rouge "Huntress if Xan has failed to come back to us I want you as our lead scout, while I realize that the woodland might be more to your liking I hope whatever our scoundrel has unveiled can give us an edge, besides I can judge that you have some knowledge of first aid so I will be requiring you to assist me when my mending is not enough"

O shit what was her name?

"Mages" he said to Alice and Callavan "you must not under any circumstances find yourselves alone the advantage you provide is far too valuable to risk, Mirabella guard good Callavan and soldier I will insist that you keep the other girl safe, I will be needing the paladins on other roles due to their potential to fight the unholy if the 3 of us focus I believe we can heal wounds and purify the foul taint that the necromancer might have left lingering"

Some growled, some gave an approving nod and he realized that his own preferences had clouded his judgment, he had completely left out the 3 brats they had a spine all of them he knew

"Acacia I would insist, again, that you stay behind but if you must come I have a task well suited for you, I assume bards have good memory no? I hope that someday you will make a lovely tune about our courage here but I will ask you to keep a close track of the surroundings, take note of any icons or landmarks and the doors and paths we take I would not like to get lost there and that is something that would be valuable to us"

He then looked at the monk... part of him struggled to not make a smart remark of how she should be the headmistress of the rites of passing but right now he had to make bridges not pits "Monk I will ask you this, assist the huntress in whatever she might ask of you, I trust you are agile enough to perform under her direction" then there was the firecrotch, Akdov did not want hot tempers going to the Citadel with friends like those who was in need of enemies "Id like you to stay and guard our flank at the entrance dont want the enemy sneaking on our back"

Or you for that matter

"The paladins and myself will be in the center their ability in case we need either involvements of both arms or prayer we will be able to assist either the rear or the front in short notice" he looked at the group and concluded "Those that are ready accompany me to the entrance, the others dont take too much time but dont arrive unprepared either"

He had everything he needed, the tome of truth, his staff and the cup, he walked pondering if he was fit to lead... if Xan was around or the paladin lance had been up to it he would have been more comfortable with them having to bear the burden, if these where faithful then it would be different, but right now he had to act as the elder that he was and make his best to see them all alive through

As he drew closer however, the stench of something that simply was not right permeated his advance, he looked at the hellish citadel and it occurred to him that it looked more like an unholy cathedral which was a bastion of blasphemy to the faithful "Deud`s mercy" he told to himself, he was unnerved by the realization that the place was emanating something dark... in broad daylight

The prince did went missing at night did he not?

They would have to preferably end this quickly, he found Geraint there waiting "Were getting too old for this friend" he smirked giving some humor to a truth that was harmful to the pride, however in case he indeed didnt made it out he had to slip "G, look should things go sour... remember that I told you that before I became a priest I was a man of influence in Queran? I heard that my last wife had a child who himself bore a daughter later on, they probably are living off the wealth that I left them back when... they're doing good, just..." he saw how those that had accompanied him were giving looks to them "well you will know what to do I'm sure, just being a paranoid old man"

As they gathered around he began to prepare a rite, a blessing of sorts... faith would shield him to an extent, but would Deud be so benevolent to those who did not bowed?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Feylon Haradas Character Portrait: Xan Hallister
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#, as written by slcam
As the group approched the looming structure, Acacia was hardly surprised at just how much it dominated the surroundings. Even she could feel the pure reek of evil and death when they first arrived at the lake, and now that they were coming closer it was almost overwhelming. Nothing seemed to move besides the approaching group. No birds chirped and fluttered in the trees, no bugs crawled around on the ground. As they approached, even the trees and weeds seemed as if the life was slowly being sapped out of them and everything seemed twisted oddly. The very earth seemed permeated with the sheer evil of the place.

As soon as Acacia recognized the graveyard inside the fence and the dead hanging from the trees, she tied Maria outside of the gates. She didn't have the heart to bring the animal into a place of so much death. Though it should have been a warm day, the sun already shining brightly, the entire place seemed cold. It was as if even the sun was wary of entering this place. Despite the horror at her surroundings, Acacia felt calm. She knew she should have been terribly frightened and worried as she was probably the least in actual battle experience, but those feelings seemed distant. There was only one goal in her mind and only one thought. Find Rydas.

She grudgingly nodded at Akdov's instruction to memorize the way they went so they could make it back out, ignoring the rest. The thought that he didn't think she was good enough to be there no longer irked her. She was at peace with the feeling that this was were she needed to be, had to be. She was thankful that her thoughts were so clear and was determined to keep them that way no matter what they faced. They went up the steps as a group and Acacia stooped down and carefully gathered the prince's cloak. She neatly folded it, tucking it securely in her belt as they moved forward.

As soon as they passed through the doorway, the temperature seemed to fall even lower, and Acacia drew her cloak closer around her. Though their way seemed clearly defined by Xan's marks, Acacia nevertheless paid attention to as many details as she could other than those marks made by that brave rogue. In a place like this, she wanted to be able to make her way out blindfolded if necessary. To be sure she would remember, she worked the details into a story in her head, carefully going over it when they were forced to slow as they navigated around the traps Xan had marked out. She noted the numeber of doors, high, arched windows, and details in the stonework, some of which was melted away. She even noted the weathered tapestries, many depicting horrifying scenes that fit the gruesome atmosphere of the citadel. Everything seemed dusty and untouched.

Acacia had the haunting feeling that their presence didn't go unnoticed. Something knew they were there. Slowly, she began hearing an odd noise. It didn't seem to grow, but rather suddenly appeared. Trying to find its origin was useless as it quietly surrounded them, seeming to eminate from the very stone. She wondered if she had imagined it until Mirabella spoke. Acacia's attention went briefly from their surroundings to the looks on others faces as they began to hear it as well.

Tap… tap… tap…. Crunch.

Something about the noise both drew her in and pushed at her. The desire both to rush toward it and to flee as fast as her legs could carry her resounded distantly in her mind, still drowned by a calmness. It wasn't a total calmness now, as it had been when they first entered. Now it was the calm before a storm. She was relieved when they saw Xan, glad that he seemed unscathed. However, it seemed that nearly wasn't the case, as he was sitting mere feet from a multitude of arrows, all imbedded deeply in the walls and floor.

Though he seemed to have no apparent injuries, Acacia still felt concern. When Xan noticed them, she walked near to him, kneeling by his side with a gentle hand on his shoulder. "Are you alright?" she said, her voice soft and tinged with concern. Her eyes, however were focused where Feylon now pointed.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Feylon Haradas Character Portrait: Xan Hallister Character Portrait: Geraint Magdohl
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#, as written by Deallo
The structure that towered over them, despite how malicious it truly was, fear was not the first emotion to cross Nel but confusion. The fact that a graveyard was around the ruins held no fear for her, her monastery was also surrounded by a graveyard of fallen monks, although it was more peaceful and serene. The graveyard back home was filled with greenery and flowers but the one here seemed to be dead, lifeless, leeching the energy of everything connected to it. Nel held a tighter grasp on her quarterstaff as the group entered the darkness and only shadows could be made out of the group.

The monk begrudgingly followed the priests orders, walking side-by-side with Nari, and growled in the pit of her throat. She was by no means happy or glad that the priest had taken charge of the group but it wasn't like she knew anything like tactics to contest for leadership. The talk between the priest and the shaman reached Nel's ears in particular; especially the information of a wife and child that made her mentally twitch for a moment.

"Of course. Only a priest could abandon her wife and children." Nel thought and tilted her head towards Nari, whispering in a low tone so only she could hear: "If only we were that lucky." the monk said, referring to Akdov's demise. Yet the angered thoughts on the priest seemed to disappear in smoke as soon as Nel examined the insides of the ruins. She was more fascinated by the intricate details of the stonework, high arches, and design of the cathedral. The haunting presence of the Cathedral was unlike anything she ever knew and Nel didn't know if she should be more curious or frightened by the same presence.

Tap...tap...tap...Crunch.

The noise just reached Nel's ears, causing her to make a full turn and back, in her vain attempts to find the source of the noise. It was like the heartbeat of the Cathedral was still beating but it had an illness. The sound didn't become louder or quieter but it became more pronounced with every step closer they took.

Nel looked at Mirabella as she suggested they should speed up and instantly did. Her own heart was beating faster, lungs breathing faster and faster, but she wasn't tired nor exasperated. Unable to make head or tails of what was wrong with her, the monk tried to lie to herself, saying it was just the air o the ruins. Yes. The air was heavier in a place life this. They needed to find the prince before the air would crush them.

In sight was Xan, uninjured by the looks of it, and behind him a plethora of arrows stuck in the walls and floor. When Nel was going to assure of his safety, Feylon rose his hand, and pointed to the far end of the hall past the arrows. Nel had to squint a little bit before she can see what he saw.

"That's a room...isn't it? Perhaps the prince is in there." The monk said, assuring Feylon. Although the shaman's comment about walking on the arrows was a joke, by no means did she see it that way. Nel walked up to the hall of arrows, behind Xan, Acacia, the shaman, and tested the strength of the arrows by transferring weight from her feet to three arrows underneath it. Remarkably, it did seem strong enough to support Nel's weight. With evidence to confirm the idea, she jumped up onto the field of arrows, feet on about the ends of six different arrows, and held her balance. "G's right!" She said with surprise, borrowing the name the priest used to call the old man, walking rather normally from side to side, before pulling herself up on one of the arrows stuck to the wall and flipped herself to a comfortable sitting position. Sitting precariously on a couple of arrows that was embedded quite forcefully into the stone, she looked down at her comrades, and waved them over. "We can just walk on the arrows!" she shouted confidently before jumping down back down on top the makeshift floor of arrows.

The arrows that held her fall broke on impact, losing her balance, about to crash into the ground until the quarterstaff was stabbed into the ground, granting Nel a graceful jump to another patch of unbroken arrows. The monk breathed a sigh of relief and looked at her comrades; lightly laughing from her mistake of judgement on the drop. "I'll go look for the prince in the room then." Nel said confidently, softly jumping from one part of the arrow floor to the other, no clue as to what had awaited her in the room at the end of the hall.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Feylon Haradas Character Portrait: Xan Hallister Character Portrait: Narenia Halen
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Nari sighed deeply and agreed, along with everyone else, that this was the plan. She tied her horse outside the ominous cathedral, to the broken fence that was still remaining. The ground she stood on seemed lifeless and sick. It was as if the energy that was coming from the huge building, simply drained the life from every living thing around them. That all made sense, thinking of the fact that it had been a necromancer who had inhabited the place. Had. Had. I don't hope she's still there. Nari thought to herself and shook the thought aside. She couldn't afford to worry about that now, all she had to focus about was looking out for what was ahead, and finding the prince. Even though Nel probably didn't like it, Nari was happy that she had been assigned to walk beside her.

Tap....tap...tap...Crunch

"What in all hells is that noise." She said in a low voice, but loud enough for the people around her to hear. It was eerie and an ill omen. She didn't like the sound of it, but at the same time couldn't do anything about it. The other members of the group had heard it as well, obviously. Nari looked over at Feylon as they walked, trying to figure out if he could make out what the sound was or where it came from. To Nari, it sounded like it came from, well, all around her. It was not louder nor any quieter as they moved further into the citadel. In her stomach, a knot formed from worry about Xan. She wondered if he was unhurt and hoped that he had made it through without any injuries. She had been farily surprised and impressed with the signs and clues he'd left behind, to indicate that there were traps and things to look out for. Oh, Nel. Nari had to smile, though she tried to hide it. She looked over at the Monk and smirked, though shaking her head slightly. "You behave." Nari nudged her and nodded ahead, to make the Monk focus. "How's the hand, by the way?" The memory of Nel's injured hand came back to her. When they had first assembled at the tavern, Nel had crushed a glass in her hand and Nari had picked the shards from her hand. It seemed like it had healed nicely so far, seeing as the monk was still able to fight.

It seemed like the little girl hadn't quite heard what she had said, because when they reached Xan, she was off. Acacia had asked Xan if he was okay, which it seemed like. Nari gave the thief a nod and a smile, approving of his work so far. She passed Mira, putting a hand on her shoulder as she did. In her mind, Nari thanked her for being there. It made her feel safer that Mira was there, and also the Paladins. "Nel!" Her eyenrows furrowed over the piercing green below them, looking at the Monk. "Wait! Come back, you don't know what's ahead." Narienia looked ahead and tilted her head, squinting. It was hard to see what it was, if it was another room or just an illusion. You never knew what magic lurked in this dark place. "Don't be too quick to rush into death's jaws." They couldn't afford Nel to be too reckless and rush ahead. She'd throw herself straight into the arms of some undead creature. That's makes me wonder. Why haven't we encountered any enemies yet? The thought was worrying, but on the other hand, maybe it was a good thing. "Should I fire an arrow toward the door? Or maybe one of our mages can tell if there are wards or any dangerous spells?" Nari asked everyone. Possibly the ones that had taken charge the most.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Xan Hallister Character Portrait: Narenia Halen Character Portrait: Callavan Sole
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"Very well lets get to it" Akdov said as everyone was now geard up and ready "I dont suppose none brought any torches?" he did not count with the cat-like senses that some of the rogues had, he was a man of light and he would be damned by walking into that pit just like that.

He placed firmly his staff in front of him, then knelt as he began to read out loud passages of the tome of truth "...Thus in the days of Ruglia did he found himself starved, wounded, tired and in darkness, it was only then that he dared to ask the hall lord for help, a mercy that the kind one would give but the Saint saw not fit to bother thee..." closing the book and kissing its cover Akdov whispered something in a language known only to those close to Deud, he took a dip drink of his cup and then spit out a burst of liquid that poured into his staff.

Just like in the bandit attack the staff began changing, it was nothing as drastic but it was flashy in more than one regard the index and thumb joined making a circle and in the gap it appeared, a dim and kind light that did not hurt the eye, rather than emit light it seemed to dissipate the darkness

The citadel felt hostile and oppressive, it reeked with a malign intention toward them as if the very walls were alive and it welcomed with the friendly and kind intention of seeing them all dead, and mayhap something worse in mind for some of them

Theyre welcome to try

He was walking tall and proud, fighting blades, tracking beasts, wrestle monsters, hit far away targets, throw fireballs... not one of these things he could do... but purge the wretched taint of evil was a career and profession to him, in the dealings of men good and evil mostly fell on perspective, but there was a wisdom above their understanding that could only be labeled as benign in its kindness and desire to protect and grow, but there was also something on the other ends in a darkness beyond time and space... something that held humans in deep contempt, to put it simple if you were innocent in Deud´s eyes you most certainly were guilty in theirs.

"You can feel it cant you?" he said out loud not really expecting an answer "There is something unnatural and corrupt about this place, like a festering wound in the land, corroding that which it touches... I dont think Errion had it in him to cut the source of whatever lies here, I think he might have pacified it but not quell it... and maybe it harbors grudges towards the bloodline"

Soon they found their lead scout "Xan good man!" the priest shouted with enthusiasm, he was glad to find him alive and well "dont suppose you found the prince?" the scoundrel did not seemed wounded in any way, to be able to mark all those traps without getting some noticeable damage, Akdov was developing a respect for the man.

Accacia the bard began to ask for his health and such "Indeed are you hurt? I can help you if you are injured" and then it simply happened in a outstanding and monumental moment of wonder the monk showed that common sense was not that common and it made the priest wonder just what sort of bizarre coincidences and circumstances had led her to grow so old without getting herself killed

Like a curious cat the monk simply rushed ahead of everyone disregarding the priest sensible plans

God damn

Narenia the huntress then voiced her concerns and confusion regarding what she should do "if there are traps or wards then she is already dead ahead of us, I wont have someone dying if I can help it however" he pointed at the scouts "Xan, Huntress follow her if you can but dont risk yourselves if there is uncertainty" they were lean and agile fellows surely they could chase with ease

He turned to Callavan "Cal friend I would follow her through the arrows but im too fat and too fucking old to do so, I need your help to keep up!"

Setting

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Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Feylon Haradas Character Portrait: Xan Hallister
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#, as written by KuroRyu
"I'm fine" Xan said, lightly patting the hand that Acacia had placed on his shoulder, "Although a bit peeved that I lost my cloak along the way". He gave the others a little wave and a smile to show that he had no physical injuries as he came through. He looked towards the male ranger whom was doing something with the floor, he wasn't quite sure what the man was trying to do, but still looked on. The man rose and pointed out, through the hall of arrows and towards a room at the end. Xan's eye shifted towards that door, as the joke of the old shaman rang out, soon followed by the monk actually attempting the feat and succeeding. He was unsure as to what he should say, or rather, if he should say anything at all at this point. He wasn't really willing to try such a thing even if he had thought of it since he had lost place of the trigger for the trap, buried under arrows or not it was still there and still alive. However he was concerned that the monk had gone ahead without knowing what was in store, the question of whether she knows what a trap is or not was a valid one with her.

Although reluctant Xan managed to get himself on the top of the arrows, the monk had managed to avoid setting off the trap, so he should be safe as well if he traced her steps and followed the same path that she had. It wasn't something that he was used to doing, but he still managed to get up to a good enough pace to catch up at the other end.

"What a wonderfully...unique odor" he said, on the verge of having his breakfast come up for a quick escape from his stomach as the scent forced it's way into his nose.

Xan looked back to see that the mage was doing exactly what he had hoped, another bubble had formed around the group, although they looked quite compact within it. At this point there would be no real reason to wait for the group, they were already close behind and making good time catching up.

The travel was made short as he soon found himself at quite the scene, the Monk had managed to get herself pinned by. Something. It was something that Xan had never seen before, and not only that the scent was far stronger than it was just a few paces back. He stopped his breathing completely to try and rid himself of the smell, but that didn't work, the putrid scent still managed to waft in through sheer force. Holding back his gag reflex and tears as well as he could Xan re-positioned the way he held his daggers. Instead of having the blades point outwards and in front of him, they now pointed back behind him. At this point the daggers would be useless, the creature was obviously not something that was living, or not something he would consider living at this point in time. Instead of throwing the daggers, he simply lashed out with the chains, creating a loop that would coil around the creatures neck. As the chains made their way around the monstrosity's neck Xan coiled as much of the chains as he could around his own hands and pulled outwards, causing the chain to tighten itself around the creatures neck.

'Hopefully the things head doesn't come off' he thought as he turned sideways, using all his body weight to pull the being at the end of the chains off the monk and over his own shoulder.

"Someone with holy abilities please make your way to the front. NOW!" Xan shouted aloud, as the creatures body landed a good bit away from himself and in the direction the rest of the group was approaching from.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Feylon Haradas Character Portrait: Xan Hallister Character Portrait: Callavan Sole Character Portrait: Travian Zarel Character Portrait: Geraint Magdohl
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Travian

With their now quickened pace, it didn't take long for the group to catch up to Xan. It seemed a trap had finally gotten the better of him as he sat huffing and puffing at the edge of a room that's floor was covered in arrows. The ranger guarding the mage girl began inspecting the room as the bard and priest inquired after the rogue's health. Travian let out a slight sigh of relief when he said he was okay. All together again (save the prince, that is) the group was allowed a calm moment. The noise persisted and Travian's heart seemed to pound in time with it, but at least there was one less thing to worry about now. The shaman even made a joke and Travian laughed lightly- beginning to feel himself relax a little.

The monk however, took it seriously and began actually leaping across the room from arrow to arrow. Travian simply gaped, maybe he could do that without his armor and equipment, but that was a big maybe and there was no chance in hell of him leaving those things behind in this place. Xan and the ranger managed to get across almost as easily- though they weren't quite as graceful.

"Cal friend, I would follow her though the arrows but I'm too fat and fucking old to do so. I need your help to keep up." The priest said to the older mage.

"Right then," the man replied as he unfurled a scroll, "Those of you who'd like to avoid getting shot...and the elderly, gather 'round me and stay close. Uncomfortably close."

Unsure what would happen, Travian did as the man said. After a moment, a protective aura surrounded the group. It was not unlike the kind of wards Travian could create with his shield, though doing one as complicated as this would have him on his knees once they made it across. Travian looked at the mage with a newfound respect.

It was slow going; the arrows had left little room for feet- especially so many clustered together. So far no new arrows had fallen, but everyone was sure to keep inside the aura in case the trap were set off again. Once they were about halfway across Xan's voice could be heard yelling back to them.

"Someone with holy abilities please make your way to the front. NOW!"


"Come with me, Priest!" Travian said as he raised his shield over their heads. The shield was big enough to cover both of them, but Traivan still cast a light ward as they moved away from the mage- just in case. As they stepped over the threshold into the next room a foul scent assaulted their nostrils; it was so sudden and intense that it was almost as though there had been a blast of air. The scent and the scene before him stopped dead in his tracks. The nights of his childhood that had been spent tucked tightly under the blankets came rushing back to him as the words formed on his lips. Ghoul.

Seeing the monk in danger snapped him out of his fear and he charged into the fray. She was in the grasp of the creature, and though Xan held it back with his chains and the ranger wailed on its arms with a dagger she was unable to escape.

"Don't let it touch you!" Travian shouted as he sprinted towards them. He knew they had probably heard the same stories he had, but a reminder couldn't hurt. He raised the throwing spear he had been carrying and tossed at the creature's face; he doubted it would do much damage but it did send it's head reeling back away from the monk. Travian then readied a melee spear and charged the creature's left hand. "If those arrows stuck into the ground, hopefully my spear will be able to as well" As the tip bored into flesh he kept running- spreading the arm out away from the monk and ranger. When the tip emerged on the other side he thrust it into the ground with all his might, about faced and began running towards the monk.

With only one arm to keep track of the ranger seemed to be doing better, and most importantly the monk was open. He moved in and scooped her up in his free hand while keeping his shield between themselves and the creature's mouth. Once he had her he ran like hell back to the priest, the foul air filling his lungs as the exertion forced him to take deeper breaths. He laid her down gently. "She's been paralyzed" he said in between gasps; hoping the man could do something to help her.

He glanced back at the creature and saw that it had pulled it's hand out from the spear which was still stuck in the ground.

"Well, at least it shouldn't be able to grab anyone with that hand," he thought as he pulled out his second close-range spear.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Feylon Haradas Character Portrait: Narenia Halen Character Portrait: Travian Zarel Character Portrait: Geraint Magdohl
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#, as written by slcam
Acacia was relieved when Xan assured her he was fine. His comment about his cloak, however, was enough to make her smile briefly. She stood, still straining her eyes for a glimpse of what might be making that noise. She caught her breath as Nel jumped onto the arrows, seeming to mess around a bit and even breaking some before she hurried off toward the noise. Acacia was shocked that she would be so foolish as to rush toward something that she knew nothing about. She could easily be killed!

Acacia, unsure she could do the same arrow hopping as Neli did, waited and watched a couple of the others. Her observant eyes quickly picked out how they did it and a cry of alarm from the room helped her with her decision. She couldn't wait for those in heavy armor, and just those who were heavy, to slowly make their way across. With a spry jump, she was soon moving across the arrows, at first awkward, but quickly picking up speed. She made it to the other side as Feylon began flailing at the creature with his bow.

As she came closer, her nose was assaulted with the putrid smell of long decaying flesh. It was a worse smell than anything she could even imagine. She was grateful that she hadn't had the chance to eat anything that morning, because she would have quickly lost it. A throwing knife was quickly in her hand, Feylon's dagger in the other. She hastily and cautiously went closer, immediately releasing the throwing knife into the ghoul's already pierced face, noting the fact that it had little effect before another knife appeared in her hand.

The creature was a ghoul, a eater of flesh. It was said that even a touch from those rotting hands could paralyze someone while the ghoul feasted on their flesh. Many said that ghouls were once human, now not quite dead as their taste for flesh seemed to bind them to their still rotting bodies. Physical attacks would be all but useless. Only the men of 'god' in their group would have any effect on this creature.

Acacia looked around frantically for something to get the monster off Nel when Travain rushed into the room, Akdov not far behind. The paladin pinned the ghoul's hand to the floor and dragged Nel away from it. Her relief that Neli was safe for the moment was soon overpowered by more disgust than the retched smell accounted for when Akdov used projectile vomit to attack. The main group arrived and Geraint slid across the floor, through the vomit, to attack the ghoul.

With sympathy, Acacia noted the disgust on his face as the rest of the group entered the room. Acacia let another dagger fly, hitting the ghoul in the side of the head and briefly attracting his gaze to her. She instinctively took a step back, haunted by its stare. At that moment, Callavan called out for everyone to stand back and Acacia did so. At this point, the only way she could help was to stay out of harm's way herself and help distract this thing. It would be no help to anyone if she had to be dragged out of the room with Neli.

Acacia watched with wonder as Akdov began turning golden as if on fire, pages whirling around him as he started his ritual. The ghoul seemed even more frantic, this time its goal was to kill the priest. Acacia, knowing her little daggers, and even Feylon's larger one, would do little to keep the creature from charging, began looking for something heavier that she could use if necessary. She continued to keep her distance, waiting for Narenia to fire the enhanced arrow.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Alice Sangera Character Portrait: Callavan Sole Character Portrait: Geraint Magdohl
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#, as written by slcam
Acacia gave a quiet shriek as Mirabella shoved the modified arrow into the ghoul and it exploded into bits. She turned her back quickly to prevent the worst of the rotting goop from covering her face. She quickly realized that she hadn't gotten quite far enough away from the faint ringing in her ears, and the newly strenghtened odor of decay was giving her a headache. She flung her arms back and forth for a moment, trying to rid herself of some of the unpleasantly slimy substance. A moment later, she heard a loud, "NO!" as Akdov fell limply to the ground. Acacia stared in horror, not able to see any injury on him, but it was soon certain he was dead, despite attempts to revive him. Geriant stooped over the priests fallen form, trying to bring him back as well. Acacia was unsure of what had taken the priest's life, but she greatly hoped that the shaman could help him. It was somewhat ironic that Akdov had been worried about her, yet she was unscathed and he was gone, or so it seemed.

She was moving toward the priest, anxious to help in any way she could, when a sinister voice rang out in the room, calling to a kitty that was likely to be something far more deadly such a place as this. It was a Dirlagraun, or more commonly know as a Displacer Beast. She had always heard that they had been hunted to extinction. Apparently that belief was false. Her face became notably paler at the sight of the large, panther-like monster. It looked grotesquely muscular with its six massive legs and sharp tentacles projecting from its rippling shoulders. Callavan called out for them to come to him in the corner, and she quickly went toward him she watched with fascination as he put up a web of rope, but, remembering herself, pulled out the dagger Feylon had lent her.

The Displacer Beast began pouncing, making multiple versions of itself as those who chose to fight it directly instead of from the corner began their assault. Callavan's next spell came into effect, causing noise and making it difficult to see. Acacia stood near one corner of the net and jabbed through the openings whenever they moved near her. To her satisfaction, she heard the Beast screech in pain more than once. A moment later, things became quiet and she saw the form of the beast become suddenly still and fall over, completely frozen. A moment later, Alice slumped to the floor and Acacia hurried over to her. "Is there anything I can do to help?" A small smile briefly lit her face as she told the girl, "That was great, Alice."

Abruptly, Lance fell to the floor and began thrashing, and Acacia stared wide eyed. 'What in the world is going on?' Turning to look, she saw that Feylon was also down. He seemed to be bleeding badly as well, and the sight made her feel lightheaded and queasy. Lance didn't make her feel any better or less confused when he got up and claimed that he was now both Lance and Akdov. However, it didn't stop there. Applause rang out from a balcony and Acacia looked up to see Rydas there with the woman, calmly watching them. By now, Acacia was severely perplexed and slightly dazed. She walked slowly across the room as her eyes continued to dart back to the landing the Prince had just disappeared from a moment before. She fished her throwing knives from among the various goop on the floor until she again had the remaining nine knives. She stood staring at them a moment, taking the time to try to put this puzzle together.

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Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Alice Sangera
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The light around Alice died slowly as the beast was broken to pieces. Her fingers uncurled, letting her muscles relax. Her signature smell of her Magic circled her. The Bard came to her aid swiftly, a playful smile lit up on Alice. She was kind but it seemed that she needed more help than Alice did. She watched her expression change as she saw the wounded body of Feylon and the thrashing of Lance. "Thank you," Alice replied in a whisper of a voice. She wasn't sure if Acacia even heard her. The girl was transfixed with everything that was going around and seemed that she only needed to work things out. The Bard wandered away, Alice sat there for a few seconds just watching the body of Lance just scream and shout. That may have been her second time witnessing a soul transferred to another body but she was too tired to give it much thought. Alice smiled at the other Mage's compliment as she thought she should. She never understood compliments; they never helped her feel better. Soon the body of the priest was turned to ashes by Magic nonetheless.

Alice turned her head to the clapping sound. The mighty Prince stood at the top with a woman that had an ugly glow to her. Through the tension, Alice couldn't help but smile at the two. If the Prince is seduced with such ease, the fate of the King is only the beginning of the worries. The couple fled the scene as quickly as they had entered. She tried not to wince at the bearded Mage's vulgar words. He had a mouth on him. Was it Magic? The possibility was high but she wasn't sure of which kind. Maybe if she had paid more attention in class. She sighed, looking down at her hands. They had almost always been perfect. She hated getting her hands dirty in anyway but today they had four small slits that shed a small amount of blood. Nothing damaging for even that to be worried about but to Alice, it was horrible. The pressure she had applied just to save a few folks when she could have just saved herself and ran away. No, that was wrong. She didn't do anything to save anyone but herself. She just wanted someone that could help her get out of the castle. She was too scared to go alone and the threat of a trap was fresh in her mind. Even when she did something right, she did it for the wrong reasons. A coward to the core. But there was still hope in her mind. If she went along with the quest, just maybe, she would find a little box that had been welded shut inside of her. She would open the box and all her bravery would come to her, maybe. She had to hope.

In her moment of peace she had not noticed the warrior at all. The moment the faintly familiar voice was heard, Alice flinched, whipping her view from her hands to the blonde that was staring at her. She remembered everyone, even if they didn't remember her. Mirabella, the warrior that had sent waves of hatred to her at the Black Vegabond. She had made the mind of staying clear of her, who wanted to get into a useless argument with one that was repulsed by a Mage? Not Alice. It took her a moment to fully understand what the woman had said to her. She called her by a name that was not hers but at least there was no fight. Alice grinned at the warrior, whom she had thought to be cold hearted. She took the offered hand and helped herself up, not bothering to tell the warrior of her real name. She liked the one that she had gotten. Yet she was still confused. They were comrades, why had the warrior thought she wouldn't help in a time of need? She was certain no one knew of her cowardly status, so what other reason could there be? As much as she wanted to know, Alice kept her mouth shut. She didn't want to ruin anything when everything was going just fine, especially since the warrior was scary. You'd have to have much strength to send waves of hatred with no Magic. Alice wasn't so keen on finding out how much strength. When the warrior had gotten herself busy with her own thoughts, Alice quietly turned around and ran to the shattered beast. She fell to the ground like a rag doll and searched. There were several daggers in him, all that Alice had thrown. The petite girl waved a hand and all but one dagger had disappeared. She smiled. All she needed was the original dagger. It was her only weapon if she got stuck without the use of her Magic. "Do forgive me Demon, I bet you were a lovely kitten as young."

Biting her bottom lip, she ripped the dagger out of the beast. "You were still lovely. Loyal to your mistress, that's what matters in the end. Lovely but grumpy..." As odd as it might be Alice preferred to have conversation with things that couldn't speak back to her. That way, she never got hurt and neither did they... and it amused her. She just really liked talking, but it was hard to speak to people. Things that didn't talk back were much easier. "Like my brother! Oh kitty-cat, we could have been the best of friends! If only we didn't try to kill one another." She gave a final smile to the large beast before she got to her feet. Alice turned to see the Merchant had come back, fiery as ever, it seemed. Alice tucked her dagger back in and waved her hand. Her body rose to the air, her feet hovered off the land just a few inches. She wasn't going to climb anything nor would she risk walking and setting off any traps still left. Alice loitered around the air, waiting for anyone to tell her it was okay if she followed the path that the lovely couple had taken.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Hayley Furdiligit. Character Portrait: Geraint Magdohl Character Portrait: Cordelia Braxton
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#, as written by slcam
Acacia's contemplation was interrupted by Mirabella's inquiry after the other thief. She was puzzled for a moment before she realized, 'Oh, the 'merchant.' She noted that she hadn't seen the red haired woman for a while. Just as Mira asked this, Hayley walked in and said that she had discovered something. Acacia hurriedly wiped her knives on her already grimy cloak and replaced them in her sleeves. She then walked back over to listen. Just a moment later, she saw Nel approaching the wall under the balcony where Rydas and the mysterious woman stood moments before. With disbelief, she watched as Neli began climbing the wall. Would this girl never stop rushing headlong into danger? Acacia thought the monk would have more common sense than that, especially after what had happened with the ghoul.It was already difficult to imagine that they had defeated both the ghoul and the Displacer Beast just moments ago.

Though Acacia was worn out and confused by this already long day, she was also furious at Nel for throwing herself into danger once again. Nel stopped after getting to the ledge and yelled back down to the red-head merchant before scurrying off into the unknown. During Nel's climb, Acacia had moved closer to the wall, worriedly preparing herself to climb after and watching with a pang of emotion, mostly jealousy, as Alice zoomed up with magic. Suddenly, she was startled as Feylon sprung onto the wall beside her and began crawling up as well.

The thought that she was hesitating when Feylon, who had been injured, jumped so fearlessly into action motivated her. She carefully began her own climb, slipping several times but holding on with fierce determination. She finally made it up to the ledge, and, after catching her breath, sprung up and ran down the hall, stopping beside the doorway. The room was large, with bare walls and a large dais occupying the middle of the room. The throne on the dais was unadorned, the wall of skulls behind it giving it an intimidating feel. One skull in the wall was decorated with jewels and seemed more important than the others from how much cleaner it was kept. The scent of delicious food was so intoxicating that Acacia was immediately suspicious. Those doubts were immediately confirmed when the woman invited them to eat. Sitting at the table were various people, unconscious and bound. As more of the group arrived, Acacia noticed several of the bound 'dinner guests' begin to stir and wake up.

A moment later, Lance/Akdov came into the room and began to confront Rydas. Acacia's eyes were immediately drawn to the Prince's content face. Things were definitely more than they seemed, they had to be. Acacia couldn't bear it if the Prince had intended to betray them all along. When she decided to come on this quest, she had, in a small amount, given Rydas her trust. She had decided to trust someone who would one day be King, though she felt that the current King had failed her in the past. It was just another if only, but it was something that she felt the King should have been able to change, to prevent. Though this accusal was usually in the back of her mind, it was always overshadowed by her own guilt. Now, however, it was prominent in her thoughts, the pain of a perceived betrayal as fresh as it had ever been. For this reason, she couldn't accept that Rydas had betrayed them. It would break her, render her unable to trust not only others, but also her own decisions. While she was contemplating this, she rubbed the material of Rydas's cloak, which was still tucked safely in her belt, between her fingers. It seemed that she was considering ripping the red cloak to pieces, confusion and anger written plainly on her face.It has to be something else, Acacia thought. He could be enchanted.

Acacia's attention turned to the woman as Lance/Akdov tried unsuccessfully to disturb the meal on the table by pulling the cloth off and flipping the table. Could this be Idassava herself? Or was it merely an illusion. Acacia had no doubts that her magic was still very much alive, but whether the actual person was living was a different matter. Acacia's eyes were once again drawn to the jeweled skull. Something about the way those emerald eyes glittered in the light made them seem alive. Was this skull somehow important. Acacia felt drawn to it, as if it held the answers to all her questions.

Geraint threw his caber at the couple, causing Acacia to stop staring at the skull and remember the captive people at the now overturned table. She hurried over to one of the captives, a woman with golden hair who was struggling to get free, a desperate look in her eye. "Calm down," Acacia said softly, kneeling before the woman and working on one of the knots. "I will untie you." After a moment of struggling with the stubborn rope around the woman's arms and chest, Acacia gave up on trying to untie it and a knife from her sleeve dropped into her hand. She quickly sawed the rope, making sure to avoid cutting the woman. After a long moment, the now frayed rope split with a jerk and Acacia unwrapped the woman. Pressing the handle of the dagger into the woman's palm, Acacia said "Do you think you can get your legs free?" Acacia stood, ready to go free someone else.

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Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Cordelia Braxton
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#, as written by Adantas
It had felt like time passed in a split second but dragged out for eternity. She would have exhausted herself to the point of passing out, had not a young dark haired woman come to untie her. All of Cords muscles froze in that instant when the woman kneeled down in front of her. Her soft, melodic voice so similar to that of the spirits that she wasn't sure if she was actually there. But when moments later and the ropes fell from her arms, she sharply sucked in air as she had never met a living person with such a mystical voice. A dull spark in her hand travelled up to her brain as it registered something being placed in her hand. But she couldn't take her eyes off the woman's face. Her own features where screwed up, head tilted to the side trying to understand how there was a living person with the voice of the spirits. It took a lot of concentration, but her fractured mind managed to process the question and she looked from the woman's face, the dagger that had suddenly appeared in her hand, to her feet and then back up to those swirling brown eyes.

She quickly removed the gag from her mouth, inhaling deeply and gnashing her teeth to get the residing feel of the material out of her mouth. Satisfied she looked back to the woman. "Oats." She said addressing the woman. "Oats, I slice and tear and cut, would it be that my legs were to wonder free?" She leaned over and swiftly sliced through the ropes that had bound her legs. It was exhilarating knowing that she was no longer restricted by anything, no longer near the point of possible domination. Unable to contain her emotions she gave a short squeal and rose from the chair with a slight jump. Her arms were held aloft, like floating on air out to the side and then she dipped slightly, as if her legs gave way but then stood up tall, arms raised above her head. It was a casual stretch as if just arisen from bed but completely out of place in the commotion of what seemed to be a battle. The freedom to move as she liked relaxed her immensely but realisation struck her, causing an abrupt halt in her movements. Another bubble of terror welled up inside her and the dagger clattered to the floor. Her eyes wide, she suddenly grabbed Oats' arms.
"They've taken her! Lady Silence, they have her." The rest of the words dissolved into incoherent babble but she was still gripping the woman's arms hard enough to cause her to wince.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Feylon Haradas Character Portrait: Cord Braxton
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#, as written by slcam
Acacia looked at the woman, a bemused look on her face. The woman said something about oats, but Acacia wasn't certain whether the woman was addressing her, or merely making some sort of riddle. Though Acacia was good at riddles, she could make little sense of what she was saying. At least the woman was able to cut her own bindings. The golden haired woman then jumped up and stretched, oblivious to the confrontation going on around them. Acacia took a step away to go free someone else, only to be stopped by the woman grasping her arms with a strong grip that made Acacia wince. She suddenly became frantic, saying that the Lady of Silence was gone, but soon began to just babble incoherently. Acacia quickly began to wonder if the woman's captivity had done something to her mind.

At the same time, Prince Rydas began yelling at them, making it seem like they were in the wrong, and telling them to stop freeing the prisoners. He accused the prisoners of being part of the Tk, something Acacia had a hard time believing. The more Rydas spoke, the more she was convinced that he was bewitched by the woman sitting next to him. If he wasn't either he, or the group, was missing some vital piece of information. Mirabella attempted to reason with him, and Acacia hoped he would see the sense in what she was saying. Feylon, of course, decided the best thing to do was to insult him. Why did he like doing that so much?

Acacia's focus quickly went back to the woman who was still tightly grabbing her arms, still frantically babbling. Acacia tried to pry the woman's painful grip from her arms, but to no avail. The woman was frantic enough to make Acacia believe this Lady of Silence was extremely important to her. She looked into the woman's eyes and asked, "Who is the Lady of Silence?" After a pause, she moved her arms up to grip the woman's shoulders and, with a single shake, continued, "Where is she? Who took her? Who took the Lady of Silence?"

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Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Cord Braxton
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#, as written by Adantas
She was unseeing, there were voices all around her, but then when wasn't there? It was confusing her, never had there been so many human voices mixed with the furious howling of the spirits. She couldn't decipher any of it and the words she did catch from some mysterious person off to the side, made no sense. Instead, she had to focus on the task at hand. Getting Oats to help her find Lady Silence. Too many people, too many sounds speaking all at once, no space for her own thought. She suddenly found herself being squeezed back, and there was the sing song voice again. The spirit that wasn't a spirit, Oats was talking to her. She came into sharp focus, her chattering stopping and eyes locked onto the young woman in front of her. She had never heard Lady Silence's name spoken by another and it felt like somewhat of an intrusion, but she couldn't harm someone with the voice of the spirits. Arms falling limp by her side, she addressed the woman, her questions only then registering.

"Who? Tweet Twoo, no, not a who. No, no, no, no. Calm yourself." It was like a click of the fingers, the change in Cord was instant, she went from disjointed, energetic rambling to thoughtful, slow and deliberate sayings, she hadn't even realised that the change had been brought upon by the two simple words that Lady Silence had often told her. "There were many, a wondering, a path, following the whisperings." Her features scrunched slightly, trying to recall the memory of how she had been brought here. "Two, buzzing, so angry. Black and one shrouded, the masked one and the Vixen." She looked quizzical for a moment, something niggling at the back of her mind. She turned to the side, where the commotion was happening. It was difficult to see past the many bodies that were all addressing someone but as she just caught a glimpse everything came flooding back. It had been that man and the woman beside him. She was bathed in a darkness, something that angered the spirits. She was a sort of conniving and shifty woman, an appeal that the Lady Silence had told her was called seduction, something woman often used. But that simply wasn't just it, the spirits were telling her, they were wailing at her that there was something wrong. The man, he was not dark like her, but in the same token he had a mist surrounding him like he was cloaked in the blackness of The Vixen woman.

That fact would be of some importance, but to Cord she had no interest in the Vixen woman's doings, all she was concerned about was the fact that they were the two who had taken lady Silence from her. Calmness was swiftly ebbing away from her and the mumblings started again. Her eyes were fixated on the two, the male was standing, directing his sword to one in yellow, looking ever imposing. But that was irrelevant to Cord, who was more concerned about how she would get this strange man to give her back Lady Silence. With surprising force, she tore herself from Oats' grip and began marching towards him, her hand digging deep inside the many folds of her tunic that concealed her ornate dagger. Her voice began to rise and words began to sound clearer.

"Foolish, trapped behind the gauze, blinded don't you see? Trapped in Vixen's claws, both you and Lady Silence! Retract, retrieve and reveal!" She had her dagger out and with extended arm was pointing it directly at the man, she was still a few meters away, but was shortening the gap. She was getting angry, influence of the writhing spirits around her, but it was no longer the masked one that she was facing, instead her direction changed and she was heading straight for the woman. "They scream at you, they wail at you. Why? Donned in black, friends with death, you've cast your net now release Lady Silence!"

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Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Siobhan Brennan Character Portrait: Cord Braxton
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#, as written by Celedia
Image

The Moonmaiden’s cleric barely registered the responses of the various people that she had helped free as her eyes trained upon the dramatic scene that rapidly unfolded before her. People she didn’t know were locked in a war of words- a war that would ultimately affect the future of each and every being that had been held prisoner at this mad banquet. One woman with golden hair and mishmash armor tried to appease the Prince while others hurled words as sharp as daggers at him in an effort to break through the enchantment that enthralled him. The Prince looked wide-eyed and panicked and it would only be a matter of time until things came to a head. Battle would erupt, Siobhán could feel it in her very bones and she retreated to a far corner of the room to prepare one of her spells.

Drawing a small pouch from her belt loop, she tugged at the ties, loosening them so that she could withdraw its contents. A small reliquary tumbled into her outstretched palm and dipping low towards the ground, she set it upon the floor as she offered up a quick prayer to the Lady of Silver in her time of need. Instead of the more easily broken shield spell that she had cast upon herself earlier, the reliquary suddenly vanished and Siobhán’s form now held a Holy Aura that would ripple out into a small area around her, offering up the same protection to any humans that were close to the cleric. The spell was one of the strongest that she had and her breath left her body in a sudden whoosh as if the wind had been knocked out of her. A few moments were needed to gather her thoughts and strength once more but even as the demons were unleashed upon the banquet room, she found a sort of peace and strength in the protection provided by her Goddess. The spell’s component was priceless but the effect of the divine magic was needed. It would increase protection for anyone affected by the Holy Aura from attacks, it would ward them against evil spells, it would block possession or mental influence, and if an evil creature tried a melee attack they had a chance to be blinded.

The chance to test the spell came quickly and even before she could fully stand up from her crouched position, one of the demon creatures came rushing towards her with its appendages wind-milling in her direction. A soft, shocked gasp left her throat and even as she moved to run from the vrock it seemed to stumble over its own clawed feet and crash to the ground with a loud clatter of noise. Siobhán seemed at a loss as to what to do. Her training at the temple had mostly consisted of protection and healing spells with only a few offensive spells thrown in towards the end of her lessons to aid her in her travels. She also had a dagger but using it seemed distasteful to her even in the face of death so the cleric did what any untrained fighter would do…

She ran.

The clanging of metallic weapons and the almost musical twang of bowstrings being drawn were masked by the utterly human reactions to the battle. Gasps, sighs, grunts and screams echoed all around her and Siobhán tried to keep her wits about her. She was trained for this, by the Goddess, and she would not fail in her first true fight. A small clearing, devoid of man and beast was found and she took a deep breath, steeling her spine and setting out her senses to search for those in need of healing. A Goddess, not her own, decided to intervene at that exact moment and from somewhere along the wall that she was leaning against she heard a sharp cry with a confusing message.

”OATS!”

Confusion knit her brow but she sensed the pain within the message, following the odd voice until she practically stumbled upon a woman with hair the color of wheat with skin as pale as alabaster. A large demon hovered over the woman’s still form and Siobhán summoned forth a ray of searing light, holding her hands together at the wrists with her palms fanned out in an effort to direct the burning energy at the vrock. The searing light cut forth like a blade, vivisecting the creature as it shrieked shrilly. Bodily fluids spilled from its wounds until it finally fell to the ground in a twitching mass of scattered limbs. With foes still rampant in the area, Siobhán searched desperately for someone to assist her with the passed out Cord but everyone seemed busy. It was only then that she caught the eye of Acacia, a woman that she did not know but looked both friendly and able-bodied. Perhaps she would assist?

“I need help!” The cleric called, gesturing down to Cord but then another demon came sprinting towards her and she couldn’t discern a response from the bard. It was only then that she scooped the unconscious woman up with her hands beneath the woman’s upper arms, effectively dragging her down the remainder of the wall until they could slip out onto the balcony beyond. This would have to be a makeshift triage, for now, with the battle happening mostly through the archway and in the banquet room beyond. Taking the chance to administer aid, Siobhán began to cast healing upon the fallen woman. A soft, silvery glow spread out from the cleric’s hands and onto Cord’s skin. Wherever the light traveled, the lacerations, rips and tears all seemed to seal shut before their very eyes. Her work was almost done when suddenly, she felt a sharp pain upon her hip. Warm blood trickled down over her hip and outer thigh and the cleric knew that the Goddess had delivered unto her one of the unconscious woman’s wounds and it was a surprise that the woman had withstood so much if this was but one of the ailments that she had suffered from before she had fallen. When her spell was complete, Siobhán pushed herself back until she could lean her spine against the balcony’s railing while pressing one hand against the new gash upon her hip. A rest. She needed a rest before she could do any more. The poor girl had an infection in her blood stream too but the cleric's magic could only do so much with the energy that she had left and on top of that the infection was of demonic origin. A simple remove poison or contagion spell would have no effect on her and without preparing the proper spell for the girl, Siobhán was unwilling to risk it.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Siobhan Brennan Character Portrait: Travian Zarel Character Portrait: Cord Braxton
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#, as written by slcam
Acacia was stunned when the woman before her seemed to regain her senses in an instant, informing Acacia that the Lady of Silence was not a person at all. At least that is what Acacia got from the woman's words. She even told Acacia to calm herself, which Acacia found humorous since the blonde woman was hysterical just seconds before. Acacia had met eccentric people before, but this woman was already at the top of the list. She then began mumbling something about whispering, which Acacia thought she vaguely understood. Was this woman telling how she had come here in her own way? The woman looked to the Prince and the woman next to him and began mumbling indistinctly once more. Acacia was still trying to catch what she was saying when she whipped out of her grasp.

The woman recklessly stormed over to where the Prince and Lady stood, bearing her dagger with a threatening air. Acacia took a step, as if to stop the woman. She was already feeling like she was somewhat responsible for her, since she had set her free. Acacia only hoped that the woman would not hurt herself, or anyone else. Of course, the woman began spewing riddles again, but Acacia thought she might be getting the hang of interpreting. Alternatively, she could just be totally off. Either way, she though the woman was trying to say that the woman next to the Prince was deceiving him, and the woman next to him had him, and this Lady of Silence, whatever it was, caught. Acacia almost wondered if the woman's cryptic words were some sort of spell, however, nothing seemed to happen as a result.

Before Acacia could grasp what was happening, Nel rushed the Prince, kicking up his sword and holding it in place. It seemed like too bold of a move, but Acacia expected nothing less of the yellow-robed monk. Acacia took another step forward, wanting to do something worthwhile to help this situation, though she could not think of what. All she could do for the time being was listen and watch, taking careful note of every detail she could.

Still, her eyes continued to be drawn to that jeweled skull. It seemed to stick out more and more each time she glimpsed it. There had to be something special about it, didn't there? If not, it would make little difference. She began to edge toward it, on the side of the dais that was opposite the commotion. The woman yelling out, “Enough!” made Acacia halt. She could feel the evil emanate from the single shouted command as the complete wrongness in the woman beginning to reveal itself. Fortunately, Acacia did not think that the command was to her and she continued toward the skull. However, she was still greatly distracted by the woman’s transformation. She was a succubus! That meant she had indeed enchanted the Prince.

A feeling of relief crossed her features for an instant before the woman began speaking. Acacia remembered her undertaking to destroy the skull that even now seemed to glare at her. She sensed that she did not have much time to accomplish this. If she guessed correctly, it had some importance; otherwise, it was very strange that it was the only skull so bejeweled and so clean. Her fingers grasped the skull just as the succubus summoned her creatures. Just how many creatures did this succubus have to summon?

Acacia grabbed the skull and threw it to the ground with all her strength. The skull itself fractured into several pieces that skidded across the floor. One of the jewels chipped slightly on the corner from the force of the impact. The beast and demons began to emerge, and Acacia stumbled back into a nearby, shadowy corner. She noticed several others doing the same. For a few moments, she remained unnoticed trembling at the sight of so many of the demons. They seemed to be everywhere. She could almost remember what these horrid creatures were called, but she knew she might have heard it in a story before but she could not recall where.

Suddenly, she heard someone call out, “OATS!” At first, she merely wondered what had caused such an odd battle cry. Abruptly, she recalled that the strange, golden haired woman had seemed to call her that. She immediately sprinted toward the source of the sound, dodging and weaving through the battle, attempting to stay in the shadows. She arrived just as one of the strangers they had rescued ripped the monster apart with some form of magic. The beast collapsed, and Acacia caught sight of the golden haired woman collapsed and bleeding on the ground. The woman who had slain the demon grabbed hold of the golden haired woman and started to drag her to safety. She shouted to Acacia for help, and Acacia noticed one of the beasts rushing toward the pair.

Immediately, she leapt into action, running to intercept the monster with a dagger in each of her hands. Crossing in front of it, she released both daggers toward its face. Its arm blocked one of the daggers, but the other embedded itself in its cheek, quickly swatted off as if it were an annoying bug. Nevertheless, it turned to follow Acacia as she intended, giving the pair some time. To her dismay, she saw another take its place, but Travain quickly killed it. Acacia continued running, at times feeling the monsters foul breath on her neck, causing her to turn abruptly to buy herself time.

She noticed some weapons in a small alcove ahead of her, a long spear catching her attention. She grabbed it quickly, but not quickly enough. It was then she remembered what the beasts were called. They were Vroks. She swung the spear in front of her as the Vrok lunged. It skewered itself on the spear, giving an earsplitting shriek. Unfortunately, this only stopped its forward motion instead of killing it. It jabbed its right arm into Acacia shoulder, embedding two of its gruesome talons into the flesh of her shoulder, pinning it to the wall. With its other hand, it scrabbled at her arm, intending to make her loose her hold on the spear so it could destroy her. Slowly, Acacia was losing the ability to resist as her strength faded. She gave a harsh gasp of pain, knowing she would die.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Travian Zarel
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#, as written by Deallo
While Nel stayed the Prince's hands from delivering the potential death blow to Feylon, the monk scanned the prince's face for some semblance of understanding, finding a wide-eyed look of surprise. So far, he didn't try to thrash around, rendering Nel's other hand, reared back for a potential punch, useless. Rydas needed to calm down; and the sword in his hand was doing no justice to that fact.

"Enough!" Boomed behind her and she turned, still keeping the wrist grab on the prince, to the dismay and horror of his lover, who underwent a harrowing transformation. As evil as it was, Nel couldn't look away even with the vortex of underworld wind pushing against her face as the seemingly normal woman transformed into her true monstrous succubus form, forever etched in the back of the monk's naive mind. The vile air around the monster seemed to snake itself inside the monk's body and squeeze her heart, forcing it to nearly stop altogether, before letting it go and beat with raw fear. Just as shocked as the prince was, she slowly relinquishing the hold on his wrist, as words flew out the lips of the demon.

The purple gas clouds that slowly formed overhead was enough to make Nel slowly step back, away from the prince and succubus, and closer to the wall. Suddenly, a downpour of winged monsters came through the clouds, screeching, and attacking the party. One of them spotted the monk with her back against the wall and came down after her, razor-sharp talons at the ready to rip her apart. The devastated monk had no more space to walk back on and was forced to confront the Vrock head on as she stepped into the monster's attack; having to get within range of the foul creature's breath. The creature hadn't anticipated the move, talons grazed into the side of her right bicep, ripping into her yellow garb, drawing blood but expecting a death blow. Nelinia didn't think or hesitate, her life of training suddenly becoming instinct as she jumped up, one feet pressed up against the feathery chest of the being while the other struck it's weak long neck, the Vrock gagging on the surprisingly effective blow as it flew back. The monk landed effortlessly on her hands and took her fighting stance, fear washing off her like dirt in a bath, just as the cry of "OATS!" penetrated the air.

It was the crazy woman again. The monk ignored the call just as soon as she realized the creature she struck was up again, letting out a shrill shriek before it decided to charge the woman once more. "How did it get up so quickly!" Nel thought in surprise before stepping round into the side and grabbing hold of one of the creature's large wings. The monster started to screech louder as it started to turn and move to the monk's accord, falling head first against the marble floor, cracking it's skull open, and leaking vile blood all over the floor.

Nel put down the wing and let go of the handful of feathers she tore of it to scan the room. The prince and a couple of the prisoners were in the corner, the tiny mage was seated, protected by her magic, and everyone else was fighting. Just then, the sight of Acacia trapped in the grasp of one of the Vrocks caught the monk's eye, shooting panic into her blood as her legs suddenly ran, running clear across the room back to the other head of the table. Her speed didn't let up, she barely slowed as her feet ran up the wall in the space next to Acacia, taking three steps before jumping off the wall, her right leg raised, heel cutting the wind as it crashed into the monster's skull.

A resounding crack permeated the air and the Vrock so full of anger, hate, and viciousness, suddenly stopped it's onslaught. It's eyes glossed over and it fell over; sprawled out on the marble.

"Acacia!" Nel called out; despite the close proximity between them. "Are you okay? Hurt?" The monk said, bombarding her with questions, checking her for injuries, noticing the blood going down her shoulder just as the paladin called for anyone who's hurt to get their "ass" on the balcony. "The balcony. Please." She told the bard when all of a sudden her back was slashed with the claws of another beast. She screamed as the pain sent ripples through her body. "Now!" Nel managed to growl, disregarding her own bloody leg, arm, and back, turning around to deal with another winged monstrosity.

The monk threw three powerful blows, three punches straight into the gut, before the Vrock can swipe again with it's deadly claws, the speed consideraby slowed by the pain it just received. Closing in the distance, she stuck out one hand to the forearm of the beast to stop the strike in it's tracks, and brought her leg up to kick the elbow. As the shin connected with the elbow, it broke it in half, shooting up through it's flesh right up to it's skin. The creature howled in agony and gave another shriek as that same leg came down on it's knee and shredded it into three.

Nel just had to take a step back as the creature fell and was thoroughly incapacitated, pathetically flapping it's wings trying to get air, but just sticking to the ground. She stayed her thoughts from the monster, feelings of pity for it quickly subsiding for the abomination, as her eyes were now focused on the woman who was Rydas' lover. The fear that first overtook her was gone as she started to ball up her hands into tight fists and clench her teeth. The succubus was the one responsible for all this. It's she who's brought forth all these terrible beasts and now harming her companions. Her eyes narrowed into slits, eyebrows furrowed, mind hazed by a seething rage.

"Stop this." She whispered, walking towards the direction of the succubus, until another one of those winged creatures blocked her way, charging towards her as it shrieked a battle cry. The monk let out a hiss of air and twisted on the balls of her bloody leg, completing a turn, and winding her good leg close to her chest before shooting it out directly in the gut of the creature, stopping it's forward momentum as it's body froze in the kick it ran into. Nel swiftly took her oppurtunity as she jumped, bringing her attacking leg down, and readying her bloody one forward, pushing the paralyzed monster with her center of mass, sending it sprawling back and knocking into the head of the table. The push, forced the heavy long table back on it's four legs, the massive weight of the table held down the vrock as it pinned one of it's wings to the floor with it's sturdy legs.

For the monk it was a straight path to the demon succubus.

Nel sped up her steps to a run, body aching all over as blood trickled down her back, arm, and leg, staining her yellow garb, jumped on the table with what grace she could muster, and sprinted.

"Stop this at once!" She shouted, pushing herself on the balls of her feet, feeling just a bit faint, ready to strike the demon as soon as she could close in the distance.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Travian Zarel
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#, as written by slcam
A look of surprise crossed Acacia's face when Nel came out of nowhere, dispatching the Vrok with a single powerful kick. The monster began to fall, eyes rolling back into its head, and Acacia was almost dragged down with it because of the spear still tightly gripped in her numb hands. Quickly as she could, she pried her stiff fingers from the wood just before the carcass hit the floor. She slumped against the wall, a look of pain crossing her features as she moved her mostly undamaged left arm to better support the right. Rivulets of blood ran down her right arm and dripped to the already stained floor. Nel shouted, asking if she was alright, but it almost seemed like Acacia could not hear her.

"Thank you." Acacia said as loud as she could manage, still panting. She heard Nel tell her to go to the balcony, trying to process the words but distracted by the blood dripping from her arm and staining her left shoulder. Nel screamed briefly and Acacia eyes darted to the new Vrok behind Nel, claws bloodied. This time, she immediately, if regretfully, heeded Nel's instruction as Nel effortlessly destroyed that Vrok as well, and then hurried off despite her own injuries. Acacia felt useless as she dizzily made her way to the balcony. With her arms in this condition, it was impossible to throw any of her daggers. Somehow she managed to avoid the demons, though by no conscious effort of her own. She stumbled past Travain, collapsing to a seated position on the floor in an out of the way corner. She did not quite make it out to the balcony, but she did not have the energy to do so.

She looked down at her arms, horror welling up inside her once more at the sheer abundance of blood turning her white shirt a crimson shade. The right sleeve was entirely in tatters, as was her arm. Most of the cuts from the Vrok's claws were deep, several down to the bone. On her left shoulder were four mostly circular crimson holes. Luckily, Acacia did not think that any bone's had been broken or even scrapped badly. However, it was increasingly difficult to think calmly and logically, and even more to keep her mind in the present. The haunted memories of that terrible night long ago kept pushing themselves forward, demanding her attention. She began to gasp like a fish, staring blankly at Travain without seeing him as tears slowly began to stream down her face. She was not crying for the pain, but for the blood and the memories it brought.

Thankfully, only moments passed before the battle was over, the succubus and her demons retreating. Immediately, fighting broke out among the adventurers, but Acacia noticed none of it. A surge of energy came to her, all but unnoticed, and a moment latter all but her least severe wounds were healed. None of this made any impact on her now blank countenance. Tears streamed down her face and the occasional sob ripped from her throat. She sat in the corner as still as a statue, oblivious to the world around her.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Talsin Inicka Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Siobhan Brennan Character Portrait: Feylon Haradas Character Portrait: Iravey Inicka
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#, as written by Skwidge
Iravey Inicka


Ira remained silent, as always, while the Prince got up despite his head injury to go back into battle. ”Thank you, stranger, for the unearned kindness. Please, if you will or can, attend to the others that are more in need.” Her facial features remained steady for that moment, but as soon as he turned his back, it took on a bored and very irritated look. ’Are all Princes this stupid? Or is this one just special?’ The female twin shook her head exasperatedly before masking her emotions again.

For a handful of moments, she watched him walk along and dispatch many of the foul creatures threatening the lives and mental stability of the others within the large chamber. She leaned over and pulled a small thread from her trousers, noting that Tal had ceased in his actions, seeing them as pointless. However, the beasts were still a very prominent threat, or rather they were.

”ARRRRRRRRRHHHHHHH. Play time is over!” Iravey’s head shot up as her eyes focused on the marred figure toward the center of the room. She was obviously talking to the prince, and suddenly, the flow of Hades’ denizens ceased altogether. Suddenly a sharp pain rapped her temple, and she clenched her teeth mutely. Her hand was quickly over it, and she winced, her eyes sweeping over the floors. There was so much blood and gore splattered over everything- black and red alike.

Softly she rubbed her temple, waiting for the small migraine to disperse. Once it did, she rose from her position and walked towards the group that was amassing, before remembering that the Prince had requested something.

”Please, someone bring me the emerald, the unchipped one.” She glanced over toward where he stood, taking the blunt of many verbal blows. This group was... strange, to say the least. They didn’t work very well together, and there were so many different personalities. With a small shrug, the rogue silently moved towards the balcony where shards of bone sat scattered across the cobbles, an emerald settled to the left, and the one the Prince sought to the right.

Stooping down, Ira closed her fingers around the chipped one, and slipped it into a small pocket nestled at her side. Soundlessly, she took the other three steps to the left, picking up the emerald the Prince had requested. Her attention was alerted to someone up above the balcony, sobbing on and off. Her eyelids fluttered in a blink before she walked back to the group.

She stopped abruptly, her visual completely enraptured by the fist coming towards the face of the one who was yelling at the Prince before. Her eyes swept lazily away from the scene, and she walked over to the Prince despite what he was doing at the moment. She was unpronounced and unexpressed as always, and her fingers rested on the Prince’s own, disengaging them from their slightly clenched position. His hands felt clammy, but it was nothing more than a momentary speculation. Vey deposited the requested item into his possession, and then stepped away from him, her facial expression barren and her eyes focused elsewhere.


Talsin Inicka


Tal had ceased in his attempts with the wire, seeing as it was unneeded, and it would only be a waste of perfectly useful material. He let out a small sigh and stuffed them into his pocket. He was, of course, aware of the monsters surrounding him, but they were mostly interested in all of the warriors and the… people in the group… oddly enough. He coughed softly into his fist, and then watched as the Prince got up to go all ninja and the likes on the Vrocks and the succubus.

”ARRRRRRRRRHHHHHHH. Play time is over!” And the battle was over pretty much as soon as it had started, though of course with notable aftereffects. He blinked, and then took two steps toward one of the balconies to skirt around most of the bodies, when something rather large and wing-like smacked into the wall where he had just been. He jumped in shock, letting out a shaky ”Ehck!” while whipping his head around to get a better look at what had just made that sickly slap against the wall. It was a Vrock body part and he hunched over in a disturbed sort of manner, sticking his tongue out. ”Please watch where and what you’re launching....” He might have squeaked, had he not been so shaken up.

However, his pupils suddenly contracted as a bright light flashed across the room after rather loud yelling coming from one of the men within the hired group. Or at least Tal suspected they were hired to help the Prince, seeing as they worked absolutely horribly with each other, and any form of army would never act in such ways. Yet once again, his attention was suddenly snapped back to reality as the very distinct sound of a sob broke through the rest of the rabble.

He looked up toward the stairs leading to one of the balconies, and quickly ascended them with striding hops. He came upon a somewhat small form, curled into one of the corners, tears streaming down her face to descend into the pool of blood surrounding her. He frowned lightly, and stepped towards her, his boots probably the thing she saw first come into her vision, seeing as how her head was slightly tilted towards the ground.

She had obviously been wounded before that... bright light which had very obviously done something to everyone, as none of his own previous mars were found on his body, but she seemed pretty shaken. She also had no apparent desire to get up and move anywhere, and he wouldn’t want her to get left behind or forgotten from the group or anything like that, so he stooped down and made quick work of getting her onto his back in a piggyback fashion, though he had no idea how he managed to do so. ”There we go. See, I gotcha.” He flashed her a cheerful grin, though his face was pretty dirty, as were almost all of theirs. He then turned right around and marched happily down the steps towards the group, holding firmly onto her legs so she wouldn’t slip straight off. He coughed momentarily, and shifted her weight a bit. ”You know, you’re very heavy.” He murmured teasingly.

However, he had gotten there just when tensions were at an all time high, and he was stepping right between Akdov and Feylon. The male twin only just managed to catch the motion of a fist coming straight at him, or really at Akdov, and managed to stumbled backwards and then sidestep. Feylon's fist then came into contact with Akdov's face, suddenly knocking the brute to the ground. Tal had a look of absolute shocked relief, his limbs going all wobbly for a second. It took all he was worth not to fall over or drop the girl he was carrying. ”Hey, watch where you’re aiming that thing!!’ He blurted out with a shaky tone.

But oh, Tal wasn’t out of the woods yet. He had managed that little sidestep to land him back in the path of the two, the fallen brute oblivious to his presence as he charged in the form of a tackle to the man on Tal’s right. ”Oh seven hells!” He squeaked, his eyes wide as that very... massive form came hurtling straight towards him and the girl on his back.

However, he felt a firm hand on his arm pull him out of the way, causing him to stagger backwards and sway dangerously with the unaccustomed weight now placed on his back. He regained his stance, and let out a sigh of relief, looking towards Ira who had managed to drag him despite her strength. The most reasonable idea being that he was very sensitive and alert to her touch and normally her presence, as they had worked all their lives with each other.

”We can’t all be amazing h-heroes like you guys, some of us had other priorities. Like our own skin, or even more importantly the Prince’s. Isn’t that what your ultimate goal is? His safety? That’s where your paychecks are coming from anyway, I presume.” He took a breath, regaining his bearings before continuing. “And even if you aren’t working for pay, no one is twisting your arm to stay in this weird scraggly group!! He flailed one arm, the other still firmly placed under the girl’s leg to hold her up. ”You’re all acting like spoiled," Tal paused, his gaze uneasily flickering to the two currently engaged in a brawl before proceeding. "... and scary children- and it’s really embarrassing. And you guys are only just learning to get along and work together, so yeah, of course there are going to be bloody mistakes, because it sure as hell shows that you haven’t been with each other very long. Besides, some of us aren’t even skilled in the arts of war and fighting... ...and I’m about to be hit aren’t I?” His countenance fell into that of a comically despaired worry, and he suddenly swerved around. ”Innocent civilian; don’t hurt me!” Despite his outburst, he still managed to get in another show of humour by using the lady on his back as a sort of guarantee of protection, even though she was a member of their ragtag group.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Siobhan Brennan Character Portrait: Travian Zarel
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Travian

The succubus didn’t rise to his challenge, but the vrocks did. They weren’t actually coming after him, but rather the wounded he was protecting. They were instinctively drawn to the weaker targets. If it wasn’t for the cleric’s spell he probably would have been overwhelmed, but with it he was quick and strong enough to intercept every beast that tried to get through. With so many coming at him he couldn’t keep track of what was going on in other parts of the room, and was beginning to get a little concerned that no one was making their way towards him. Was it a sign that the battle was going well or that his allies were unable to get to safety?

It was actually something of a relief to see Acacia stumbling towards him. He ran over to cover her from a pursuing beast, bashing it with his shield and then stabbing before it could recover from the shock. Not far behind him he heard the bard collapse onto the floor, she hadn’t made it to the balcony and was very exposed. He edged back closer to her but was too busy with oncoming vrocks to turn and get a better look at her injuries. He didn’t even realize that cleric had come out until he saw the flash of the prince’s sword out of the corner of his eye.

“Dammit we’re too spread out!”
he thought frustrated that he could do nothing to help his allies, though he was relieved to see the prince back to normal. He knocked down foe after foe but they just kept coming, keeping him pinned where he was; it didn’t take long for him to loose track of the cleric. And if that weren’t bad enough he could hear Acacia sobbing behind him. Then suddenly the stream of monsters ebbed. Looking around he saw that they had all stopped flying wildly around the room and were now moving toward the center where the succubus was.

He immediately went to check on Acacia. She had lost a decent amount of blood but aside from that her injuries weren’t too serious; none of her vitals were in trouble. She was still conscious but she may as well have been asleep for all the attention she was paying him or anyone else in the room. It seemed that her mental wounds were much worse than her physical ones. He took a look around the room again, the vrocks were still circling around the center of the room, he couldn’t see beyond the birds but he knew some of comrades must be in the middle of the vortex.

He had to do what he could to help them, but first he needed to help the bard while he was able to. He grabbed some water and bandages from his bag which he used to clean and wrap her wounds. It looked like they were pretty much done bleeding by this point, so with the bandages helping to stop it up she would be okay. He tried talking to her, but there was no response and mental wounds weren’t something he really knew how to heal. Sounds from the battle tugged at him, he was loathe to leave Acacia but he reminded himself that however damaged she was her life wasn’t in peril and he couldn’t say the same for those fighting.

He wasn’t going to leave her completely unprotected either. Using his shield he cast a ward around her, much stronger than the light ones he usually cast on himself. The ward came from the shield itself so he didn’t need to be holding on to it to keep the spell going. He leaned it up against the wall next to her. For about 15-20 minutes anyone trying to attack her would be repelled, though it probably wasn’t enough for a foe as powerful as the succubus it would easily stop the vrocks.

He needed to rest a moment after casting such a strong ward, the extra energy the cleric’s spell had provided was definitely used up now. But he still had strength enough to fight. He ran over to where he had placed his spears and quickly tossed the three light ones in to the vortex of Vrocks. Then taking a heavy spear in each hand he began picking off beasts from the outside. It was pretty awkward handling, spears definitely weren’t ever meant to be dual-wielded but the Vrocks were so focused on what was going on inside their midst that he didn’t need to do anything complicated. He simply thrust with both hands, one then the other; over and over again. In between the circling beast he could see some hint of the battle going on within, but nothing was really clear until the succubus howled out with pain for the first time. All the vrocks froze for a moment before disappearing entirely along with their mistress.

Once again Travian looked back at Acacia, but his attention was quickly drawn to the cleric who strode into the middle of the room where the battle had just been raging and performed a spell that healed and rejuvenated everyone in the room. Such a powerful spell took it’s toll immediately and she collapsed where she stood. He tried to rush in and catch her but was too late. The others were too busy arguing to even notice her, the woman had put all her energy into healing them and they couldn't do so much as catch before she fell on the hard floor. It really pissed him off and not just because he knew what it was like to have a spell completely drain you like that. Now that he was close to her he could see that she had a wound on her hip. At first he thought she must have been attacked when he hadn't seen her but on closer inspection he saw that the wound was very strange. It didn't look like it had actually been carved into her flesh, more like it had just manifested there. That struck a cord in his memory, he had heard of healers who took other's wounds onto themselves; but such a "gift" was truly rare. He took out his supplies to treat it but he wasn't sure how much good it would be, if it wasn't made like a normal wound than it might not heal like a normal wound either.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Talsin Inicka Character Portrait: Cord Braxton
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#, as written by Adantas
Plunging blackness that caused waves of dizzying nausea. There has no substance anywhere, an endless coursing of pain and confusion that Cord had never experienced before. Then in a sparking moment it was as if she were soaring above, she saw herself below but at the same time was completely conscious of herself lying there curled up in the fetal position. It was some unearthly nightmare and deep within herself she knew she was partly in the spiritual realm, brought on by the demons poison that was flowing through her. She had no control over anything, she was simply a helpless spectator to her own torture. Being so completely disjointed from herself it was as if her thoughts were finally her own and the timeless limbo that she had found herself in seemed to be the gateway to clarity. But with the clarity, knowledge that if she managed to return to reality, lucidity would not be hers. It struck something inside her, a deep grief that she would never be able to hold onto a firm understanding of anything. The grief and pain began to drown her. Her throat constricted and it felt as if her heart was seizing up. It seemed to magnify the utter deficiency that her life had been because she couldn't grip reality. The anguish she felt was a tidal wave of emotion burying her deeper and deeper within herself. Through hazy vision she watched as she began to slowly fall towards her limp body. She knew that should she connect with that feeble and defeated version of her consciousness, there would be no waking up.

This knowledge was just enough to cause a crack in the engulfing abuse of sehnsucht. It was as if she could see a small light streaming through the hole. Suddenly, any physically pain that she had felt before washed away, an abrupt relief wrapped around her pained limbs and aching organs. With this, the hole began to crumble and widen, letting in more light. The torment was weakening and she was slowly able to fight back. But it was hard going, having this sanity made it even harder to fight for reality. She would be giving up a lot, but if she didn't there was no chance of even surviving. She didn't know how, yet she forced her hand to reach for the light. It was like moving through syrup and having that prickling numbness all over each time she moved. There was no way of telling how close she was or how long she had been trying for, because in the next instant everything flashed white. Blinding yet she could see clearly. The pain was gone and any aching that she had for her sanity was ebbing away. In it's wake she could feel the cloudiness and strange confusion of her madness returning. She knew it wouldn't belong before she returned as before and would awaken. But before that moment, she saw two figures walking towards her, slowly losing their blurriness. Then, standing before her was Lady Silence and the man she had seen before. The same surge of power she had felt before in his presence was there but slightly dulled by the serenity that Lady Silence emitted. She knew she would only have a few moments with them and that brought a tear to her eye.

"I've missed you." She whispered, which was received by a sad smile from Lady Silence. The old woman took a step forward and placed her palm against Cord's cheek.
"I know child, but I've never been gone."
"Magdala, we have no time for this." The man's voice interrupted harshly. " She must know, future events depend on it."
Magdala turned to the man and said sharply."You have gone unfeeling for so long Seamus." A pause before she turned back to Cordelia. "I will do as I must. Sweet Cordelia, you must listen very carefully. I'm afraid I can't divulge in too many details but what you must know is that Royal blood will die but a king will live." A last deep look shared between them and then the two spirits were gone, ghostly words echoed in their absence. "Never let go of bravery and courage."


Cord woke up violently, she shot up, causing her head to rush. Blinking to take away the spots that were swimming in front of her vision she tried glancing around, trying to orient herself. She felt an emotion that she couldn't quite place nor understand why she was feeling it. Her memory of what happened only moments ago was all jumbled like pieces of a puzzle. None of it made sense but she knew that Lady Silence had spoken to her and that brought a bout of grief on. But something else pushed forward in her maze of a mind, something about blood, death, royalty and life. There was no way she could fully discern what it was but she knew it was important and she had to tell someone. Finally taking in her surroundings she realised that she was on some sort of balcony. How she got there she had no idea. There were people everywhere, but at the same time there was no one near her. She felt terribly alone and even the furious spirits had quietened down to a gentle chatter. But then rising from the quiet came the distinct sounds of yelling. Coming sharply into some sense, or as much that was normal to Cord, two men were arguing and nearby there were several unconscious bodies. Cord recognised one of them as Oats and a sudden sense to to go her aid struck her but another man quickly attended her. There was more arguing and talking which then broke out into a fight. Cord simply watched, dazed and confused.But she soon lost interest, her eyes drifting to another body. She felt a sort of tingling in the back of her head as she gazed at the man. Realisation struck her. It had been the cloaked one, but he was no longer cloaked in blackness. But that wasn't just it. There was something about what the spirits had told her. If only her mind wouldn't twist and distort like that of a disrupted pool! Feeling refreshed and rejuvenated she rose to her feet. Graceful as ever she took gliding steps towards the Prince. By this time, the fighting had been stopped and a woman had come to kneel beside the Prince. She had placed a strange amulet thats jewel shone iridescently. Oblivious to the others Cord stepped towards the two and gently knelt down.

"Of unshielded mystery and copious confusion, much blunder and triumph the knot has tied. Then, now and forthcoming all connected. Leaking blue, spilt now untold. Drawn askew but not erased. The pointed coronet which lays upon the dying will remain. But the ghastly grips of Thanatos has squeezed all of the last drop of blue. One will die for the other to live. Here or there we will see." All through her idiom her eyes never left the Princes pale and serene face. Her voice, no louder than normal, seemed to echo throughout the hall. As soon as the last resonance of sound left her mouth, she stood again. No longer interested in the prince as she knew that his life was now in the hands of something much more powerful than her, she fervently searched for Oats. Her ominousness gone, replaced with a wild eagerness. Finally spotting Oats she bounds towards them. She paid no heed to the grim atmosphere that had blanketed the room. Halting in front of the young man carrying Oats, her brow creased slightly.

"A bright glow and hearty proficiency, umbrageous no more but tucked unto languor." Cord sounded a tad impatient at the fact that Oats was sleeping soundly and wasn't awake since she had been healed. Like an impudent child, this upset Cord and wanting her way now, she swiftly removed something from her small pouch that hung to the side of her waist and thrust it under Oats' nose.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Talsin Inicka Character Portrait: Travian Zarel Character Portrait: Cord Braxton
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#, as written by slcam
When Travain bandaged Acacia, it vaguely registered in her mind; however, she still seemed to make no response. Still, she was stuck in memories of horrors that were triggered by the blood that was so prevalent in the room. She gave small trembles a couple times as he cared for her wounds, as if flinching because of pain, but in reality it was connected to the memories that were quickly turning to waking nightmares. Deep in her consciousness, she hated her utter uselessness, scolded herself for being frightened while others were still fighting, for causing Travain to worry.

Though she made no move even as Travain set the warded shield beside her, she immediately began feeling more peaceful, gradually coming back to the present as her sobbing ceased. Everything felt even more peaceful as the Vroks and succubus left, making the room lose most of the evil aura it possessed when they entered. Acacia's eyes shut for a moment, mind blank as she basked in the relative quiet that pervaded her mind. A few moments later, she felt herself being lifted, though her thoughts were somewhat confused. She thought she had fallen asleep doing chores in the barn again, and her father was lifting her onto his back to take her to bed. Something did not seem right about that thought, but she did not feel like questioning it and losing the pleasant memory to what was really happening around her.

There was a little stumbling and shouting, and Acacia assumed her siblings must be fighting about something again, perhaps getting in her father's path to her bedroom. Slowly, the scene in her head seemed less and less compatible with what she heard and felt around her. She debated whether to open her eyes and make sense of her surroundings. Suddenly, that choice was taken from her as some pungent smelling object was thrust under her nose. She took a small breath and a little cough, sitting up abruptly. She almost lost her balance and fell to the floor, but quickly leaned forward and clasped her arms tightly around the neck of the person carrying her. Once she was out of danger of falling, she loosed her grip so she wouldn't choke the person. 'The man,'she corrected herself as she became more aware. She looked to the side and saw the woman she had untied before holding some strange object. That was probably what woke me up, she thought with something close to amusement. She smiled at the woman briefly.

Her attention quickly turned to the person carrying her as she tried to figure out who he was. He had dark hair and was tall and rather lanky. He seemed too clean to be Xan or Callavan, and to lanky to be the Prince, though his hair was about the same color. Acacia could not see any of them carrying her unless she was badly injured anyway, and she felt relatively fine, if scratched up and bruised. She could think of no one else who matched the appearance of this stranger carrying her, so she decided that he must be one of the dinner guests of the succubus.

She tapped him on the shoulder, slight confusion mixed with a sort of polite confidence in her voice as she said, "Excuse me, would you mind letting me down? Thank you for your help, but I think I am fine now." Without waiting, she extricated herself from his grasp and landed somewhat shakily behind him. A light blush, hidden in the dimness of the room, colored her cheeks for a moment. To distract herself, she began trying to determine what was going on at the moment. Stepped up next to the man who had carried her, nervously looking around. It seemed that Feylon and Lance/Akdov had been fighting, but her gaze immediately went to the Prince. Several people were already around him, and she looked to the woman next to her with a question in her gaze. She wasn't sure what the woman would say, but she figured she might know what was going on.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Talsin Inicka Character Portrait: Iravey Inicka Character Portrait: Cordelia Braxton
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#, as written by Skwidge
Talsin Inicka


Tal shifted uneasily in his stance, feeling no sudden bombardment of bodies against his own, which was good, of course. He turned back around, only to be confronted by a very strange and boisterous woman stomping towards him. The male twin took a cautious step back, but it was to no avail. "A bright glow and hearty proficiency, umbrageous no more but tucked unto languor." Her babbled sentence immediately threw him into confusion, thus making her next action throw him off guard even more.

The woman suddenly grabbed something out of a pouch and brandished it towards him. ”Woah, woah, woah! Hey, personal space! W-what are you-“ The woman took no heed of his words, and thrust the object straight past him to the lady on his back.

He then gagged, his face scrunching up for effect as his eyes began to water slightly. ”It’s shin mah noshe, oh godsh, what ish that!? Aughhh, it burnshhh!” Tal doubled over, despite the woman on his back, trying to get the vile smell out of his system. However, without any warning, the woman’s weight shifted, and her grip tightened violently around his neck, causing him first to sneeze- successfully dispelling the object’s effects- but it then began to restrict his windpipes. ”Urk.” With a choke, his hands started to gingerly, though frantically, pull at the woman’s strangling grip in attempts to make her loosen up. However, he hardly had to, as she just as suddenly eased up on her own, readjusting her position.

The male twin felt the soft tap on his shoulder and he turned his head to look at her. "Excuse me, would you mind letting me down? Thank you for your help, but I think I am fine now.” He blinked, a second passing before he dropped his arms. She immediately slipped from his back and stepped away from him. He ran a hand through his hair for a moment before he realized what else was going around him.

His eyes focused on the Prince, who was just laying there silently, his breathing slowing down dramatically. Tal’s gaze was suddenly distracted by the chamber filled with treasures and his precious harp. His mind went two ways, one rooting him to where he was standing, the other desperately wanting to go to his item. The yellow monk entered the room and grabbed the amulet resting on the pedestal, rushing back to the Prince and draping it over his neck.

Iravey Inicka


Ira had returned to the place near the Prince after she had saved Tal from being mauled by two very large men, again. It had actually happened before in their lifetime. However, the Prince caught her eye once again. The bright flash of light that seemed to heal everyone didn’t affect him at all, and that troubled the female twin deeply.

Once again, she swept by his free side, as the yellow robed woman entered the chamber he had opened with his requested emerald, while another man stood by, speaking about his father. Ira placed a hand on his forehead for a moment, his blood quickly smearing across her palm. The monk reappeared, and she immediately dropped her hand. The yellow robed female dropped an amulet over his head, and Ira’s eyes fixed on his own. They obviously assumed the item would do something, though she had no idea just what.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Feylon Haradas Character Portrait: Travian Zarel Character Portrait: Geraint Magdohl
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The air had a new taste to it, he could not say if this was due to him having gone into that citadel of darkness in the body in which he had been born and having walked out as a youthful and brave paladin or if it was because the stench of evil that had plagued the necromancer´s hideout had been left behind.

All was well, the prince in one piece after the Panacea had lived up to he expectations, the king would be healed in no time and Deud would get a huge building to house the faithful and spread the word of his might, yet... How would he be able to explain what had happened to him?

He was not really sure he grasped it, for starters he could not remember anything about his life as Arthur, all the memories of Queran were left behind and he could not for his life locate it or recall it... In its stead were others the ones who were filled with the thrill of chase amongst suburbs and stealing bread, knowing hunger and devotion to a foreign god one who stood for light, strength and healing.

Akdov held no enmity to this other.. Idol of the sun, but his devotion was to Deud and Deud alone, the hall lord allow this other aspects to be tolerated, but it was not unheard of that the defenders of the faith could do just that, Deud´s scriptures were a joke to some of the other religions at Paetax, a joke they would not tolerate to compete with... Many times had Akdov had his life endangered when he worked as a missionary, the gallows, poison, drowning and stabs on the back had not felled him.

What was he now? He had the vitality to fight now, he could endure the travels that he had once made to be a missionary...but

He looked at the prince, then at the Citadel they had left behind... That temptress was a sign of things to come, the poisoning of the King might be but the advent of a greater wave of chaos, if the king was killed that would mean an imbalance to the power structure that had held the continent together, that demoness had sought to enslave the heir, she could be in league with whatever had aimed to kill the Monarch of Paetax

We put a stop to it, or did we just fought a herald of greater evils?


The priest had done a great deal of bitching down there, he had called everyone´s incompetence up when it surfaced because mistakes like that had costed Lance and Xan a price that could not be paid twice of them... But what had he done?

He had gotten himself in a position where he had to extract a soul -and gotten himself killed for it-, he had also not been able to be strong enough to overpower the succubus on his own or hold the Vulture monsters like Xan did, if the roles had been reversed the creatures would have easily killed him and he would have failed to stop the backup from reaching the demon which the Triansui and the monk had engaged.

He simply did not match the power that some of the members of the group commanded

The Triansui would absolutely trash him at swordplay, let alone the handling of shield and arms
The monk had incapacitated him with ease with only one twist of an arm
Geraint had been a force of nature and wrecked through the enemies ranks
Xan had been vital to the advance of the group, diffused of the traps and his sacrifice had saved them
Lance had not held back even when it meant his life.
And callavan had frozen the beast... Or was that the other girl?

What had he done? How would he help if the succubus was but a slight rash of a deadly disease... How would he stop it? He had to take a path that the followers of Deud rarely took... While the Hall of the merry one was open to all, there were some whose behavior inside could not be accepted, the hall needed to be guarded against supernatural entities and intolerant mortals as well, the defenders of the faith, the paragons of virtue, the keepers of the words... The Paladins of Deud.
He would have to rise up to the challenge and ask of him more than what he had already been given, this was mayhap, Deud´s secret and convoluted plan... All part of it scheming to have a champion to fight the darkness that advanced on them.

He clasped Xan´s chain daggers and told the group "We have succeeded were few would have, Panacea is retrieved and the prince is safe... While our loses were dire only a fool would have expected to come out of such unforeseen adversities without any consequences... Yet our bargain has been met and I must part ways for I made a promise to one of our companions and I will not defile his legacy by forsaking his dying wish" he faced the prince "Deliver the Panacea to your father Dazius, tell the old man that I want a statue of in my image in front of the church, he promised it last time and he never got around to it " he chuckled... The prince remained cold- smile for once you bastard, should have left you on her charm- "I jest your highness, have my reward be delivered to Azevrec my acolyte, he is the one leading the church now... I want your promise fulfilled your highness, Deud will have a great hall inside the walls of Paetax were the cult might at last have the recognition it deserves and the faithful might have the necessary room to pray without being hindered by other zealous churches"

He moved to the Triansui "See them safe to the capital woman, you do your people proud with your skills and righteousness, if you ever need divine assistance my Church will aid you or your people for what you did for us in this journey"

Then it was the turn of the mage "Callavan I am afraid that your powers are still raw, while this rune working of you is a craft unknown to me I am certain you will make a great mage one of these days, stay true to yourself and support your King, the times before the guild were dark, but mages with your promise and discipline confirm that this generation is in safe hands"

He could not let Feylon walk out on him "I will look forward to ending what we started below that accursed place one of these days soldier, who knows, maybe I can teach you how a party is really all about, consider reading one of Deud´s preaching at least once, you might find some faith in you"

The foreign paladin had also need some commendations "Travian you are the example of everything your order should be and a pride to Urusk, be safe and see the Prince safe to the capital" he gestured to Accacia "without your help we might have spent weeks in there lass, I am glad this didn't weighted down on you as much as it did to others"

He then finally talked to his old friend "G, Ill be seeing you again that's a promise, were getting too old for this shit aren't we? All this shit about sorceress, demons, undead and wizards... A man can only take it so far... Glad to see we aren't even halfway there" he chuckled as he gave him a pat on the shoulder

Then he addressed them all as he walked away "I made a promise to Xan, I told him that I would go to Systril -wherever the hell that is- and find his sister, deliver her his legacy... And while at it make sure his family does not suffer a day of hunger with all this treasure we found, I'm taking both of our horses for this reason, once I do that I shall return to Paetax... Tell them that Akdov died, that he fought and fell for Deud and the King, let others take strength in the sacrifices of the few that bought the safety of the masses today and make sure the King can hold together the peace"

That marked the farewell of Akdov to the group... He would return, but when? And under what conditions?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Senalae Errion Character Portrait: Akdov Mur Character Portrait: Geraint Magdohl
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#, as written by Deallo
Then...

"I've seen children put up better fights." Nel muttered under her breath, meant for no-one but herself, a great deal of annoyance from Feylon suppressed. Children brought up like her to know nothing but combat. As she turned to the prince, expecting his wounds to be magically put together, she was treated to a different sight.

The prince was supposed to live. Those blood-curdling shrieks of pain and the wounds that suddenly appeared on his body were beyond the monk's comprehension as she watched, horrified, slowly backing herself to a wall. She was killing him. Killing him. Through what cruel twist of fate, Nel looked at her hands, blood from the demons she killed and maimed and her own mingled together in a crimson red and black. It may not have been the prince's blood but it might as well have been. Covering up her face with her palms, she smeared the fresh blood across her eyes, and wanted to oh so badly curse Panacea. Yet she had no words to shout, to articulate, to speak. Lies from the beginning! Her efforts in saving the prince was now dealing his own death, she could see images of the mutilated prince flash in her mind, and can still hear him sing a torturer's song that grated against her ears like a banshee's scream.

Only after he stopped his song of pain did Nel peak from the corner of her bloody tear filled eye to the clean corpse. Just a sliver of doubt probed her head; telling her that he was alive. The monk had no words to respond with to any criticisms or reassurances for her. As mute as a man with his tongue cut off, the opposite state of the paladin, roused by the recent actions to speak, and speak, and speak. Yet Nel could hold no malice against the paladin; noticing the fact the he most likely failed to address her but failing to care otherwise.

He set off with Xan's body and as much as Nel had his dislike of the priest, she can trust him to take care of his body, maybe set it to pyre. It's what Xan would have wanted, she thought.

The entire trip back to Paetax was accompanied by the prince's obvious pain and the mute monk left with a sickening feeling. Sleep was nigh impossible with the visions of demons, the menacing succubus, and the mutilated prince haunting her dreams. Safe within her meditation, it did nothing to quell her growing weariness. By the time the group sans the paladin reached Paetax, they were each paid handsomely, the prince was healthier and Nel finally spoke.

"Thank you." She made sure to tell Rydas, avoiding to look him in the eye before turning to everyone else.

"It was-" Nel paused, closing her eyes to remember the word before opening them again. "-an honor to meet you all."

Managing to finally press her lips into a smile, it quickly disappeared, and her tired visage quickly came back. Her sight centered themselves on each individual. Mirabella, the warrior who felt like the closest thing to a relative, Acacia, the bard who told her of such tales of woe and happiness of the world she never knew, Travian, the paladin who protected the weak in the fight against the succubus, G, the old man who was passionate of heart and spirit. Yes, even the images of their fallen flashed through her eyes: Xan, the man who had saved her from being eaten alive, and yes, even Akdov. For some strange reason, she thought of the first day setting off from Paetax, and that oddly staff with the absurd shape of a hand with a "thumbs up" sign. "Well it is very good to draw smiles and laughs so I guess you could say it is a weapon against boredom and dull moods..." Nel managed to give a small, abrupt chuckle.

"I'm going to go home." She said and decided. If anyone wished to join her, it'd be impossible. The monastery had no care for strangers.


Corrupt.

The Elder was a short battle-hardened man, a relic from the days of war in Calisma, wrinkles a testament to his wisdom, lithe oddly muscled body a testament to his power. As he watched over the training over his assistants, the chatter of other yellow clad monks of all shapes and sizes went through the walls and grew louder when the double doors swung open to the Elder's private training room. He was familiar with the face before him, unnerved by the splotches of dry blood that surrounded Nel's cloth, while all the other monks behind her looked with a mix of wonder and horror at the scene that was going to play out in front of them.

"Elder, please tell everyone that I'm to stay." Nel said, exasperated by the countess questions by her former companions. With the edge of his sharp eyes, she looked at her with a cold almost steel look and voice.

"You've left the monastery, Nel. We can not allow you to come back."

Nel's lips parted, her eyes widened and pupils dilated in a mix of shock and surprise.

"But you sent me out-"

With naught but a swift movement, he turned towards her, brows knitted together furiously.

"Don't you lie!" He boomed, the Elder's voice slapping her across the face and wrenched her heart. While every monk behind Nel bowed, the proper custom when the Elder faced a student, Nel only noticed a few seconds after and bowed.

"A wolf in sheep's clothing, you left the purity of the monastery and became corrupted of your own fault. Get up and leave. If you come back, you will find no friends in these walls. GO!"

Tears welled up in Nel's eyes against the harsh words but her teeth clenched against each other and her hands balled up in tight fists. Some of the monk's noticed and gasped from their kneeling position. That by itself was an act of treason. The Elder motioned everyone to stand up and they did. For just a split second, Nel thought she may have been mistaken, but she pushed that aside. Nel turned from the leader and the fellow monks she now faced parted a way out. With tears streaking down her face, she faced forward and refused to break down into a weeping mess. She was right and nothing could have taken that away from her.

The monks and villagers of Kiron looked at her like a sick leper. Out of the outskirts of her home and now in the Shallen Woods; there only one more place she can call familiar.

A week after the quest of Panacea, Nel found herself back in the Black Vagabond, the pack that was given to her for carrying the gold in question stuck to her back created a spot of sickly sweat between her shoulder blades. Vinny, the bartender and former owner of the Black Vagabond, recognized her. How hard was it to forgot about the motley meeting the prince himself hosted alongside a woman who wore bright yellow? With the gold she had layed on the counter, a sack, he thought she was going to buy the Black Vagabond and brung her the deed to the bar.

Although she needed to do a little bit of explaining on what was going on, an exchange (without any sorts of haggling) was made, ripped-off she was but it mattered not. All that gold did was weigh heavy on her back and annoy her, at least now she had some home, food, and drink. Vinny was still the bartender, the old crow he was, he wasn't ready to just up and leave, and Nel did at least respect him for that. Still, he was kind enough to help her adjust to life in Paetax, she was after all his boss, whether she realized that or not. She figured out how to buy things and check the quality of clothes, though haggling was still far beyond her comprehension.

She still trained, whether it be on the roof of the Black Vagabond or on the farmlands around Paetax. Her sleepless nights were spent inside the bar, sometimes telling the tales of her adventure, sometimes listening to the tale of others, and sometimes drinking. Most nights, she had to act like a mediator between spontaneous fights, break them up, and through the patrons out the door. Though she had made acquaintances, they were by no means friends just because she knew their names. When everyone sleeps or everyone in the bar is passed out in drunken bliss she'd meditate. Memories always brought her back to the monastery, whether when she was a mischievous child, or she was a teacher and had to deal with her own batch of them, she cherished those precious mental images.

When she got the message from the prince himself, Nel was reluctant to accept it, looking back to the yellow robe that hung from a hook in her room. The faint splotches of blood were still on it, no matter how hard she tried to scrub it off with soap or water, they served as constant reminders. After shedding off her clothes, tracing the light scars around her body for a moment before replacing them with the yellow robe, she was almost surprised to see that it had still fit, despite it only being a month since she felt comfortable wearing it. She threw a couple of punches before jumping up striking the air with her legs. Somehow, it still felt normal. Dinner social, combat, sleeping, it just felt right. The very fact that it did made her happy and sad all at once.

She was the among the first to appear at the gate, clad in yellow and meditating, to pass the time. She'd easily break her meditation and welcome her friends, even the paladin. Upon the gates opening, the familiar sight of Rydas strung up feelings of guilt, and the other familiar sight of that woman brought feelings of scorn, too familiar with those that thought she was godly, though she had more then a few problems with the variety of religions in the capital. Yet when she welcomed those who've arrived, Nel took to pause for a few moments, alternating sights between Rydas and her sister, mesmerized by the royal colors for a moment before stepping forward and speaking. Life in Paetax still hasn't prepared her for speaking to royalty and in meditating; she forgot Vinny's advice about addressing royalty.

"Thank you for inviting us. It's, uh-" She cleared her throat.

"-good to see you, Rydas." It was a half lie.

and good to meet...your sister." Nel said hesitantly, forgetting her name, not prepared to call her either Mother or Saint.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Talsin Inicka Character Portrait: Senalae Errion Character Portrait: Iravey Inicka
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#, as written by Skwidge
Iravey and Talsin Inicka



Then….

Once Rydas began to mend, Tal entered the treasury room and retrieved his harp as those around him worked out their pay; Ira remained by the Prince’s side, watching him with that masked face of hers- though in her eyes worry and apprehension were apparent. Eventually they moved outside, and Ira shifted over to Tal, and he began speaking rather cheerfully about nature and how good it was to be awake and reunited with his harp.

Some departed, others stayed. It wasn’t very long before the twins were approached by one of the party members- the girl that Tal had carried a handful of minutes ago. Ira back stepped, her chin tilted down as she watched the ground while her brother conversed. ”I’m Acacia Winn. I suppose I should thank you for carrying me to the rest of the group earlier. I couldn’t help but notice your harp. Do you play?” Tal glanced up, his eyes focusing on the woman before him before he accepted her greeting, thrusting his hand into hers with a brilliant smile. “Uh, nice to meet you; I am indeed a bard, have been ever since I was a wee one.” He now grinned, his fingers fleetingly running over the strings in order to produce a gentle thrum. The female twin looked up from the ground as she heard the sound, a ghost of a smile teasing the corners of her lips as she listened to the dispersing notes. The harp was among one of the strongest links between them, and she appreciated it whenever he played, even if it was faint at some times.

Tal dropped his hand from his instrument and instead slung it back into its place upon his back, and he soon got an elbow softly in the ribs. He looked at Ira questioningly before smacking his forehead. “Oh right! Where are my manners; this is my twin Iravey, and I’m Tal. Tal Inicka.” His face crinkled slightly in his famous grin, and Ira met the woman’s gaze for a second in greeting, but Tal also added an afterthought, “That’s what everyone calls me by anyway, my full name is Talsin.”

However, the boy’s countenance fell at Acacia’s response to the information he provided her with. "Taliesin….” She mumbled before continuing muttering something else. “I need to go find...." It was obvious he had done something wrong by the way she suddenly abandoned him. Tal reached out an arm to stop her and question her, but Ira placed a gently hand on his elbow, and he dropped it. ”Was it something I said?” His sister simply shrugged, and Tal shook his head with a small glance behind him in the direction where the girl disappeared. ”But on a more pressing note, do you want to stay with this group?” His question had a lot of complications, but he expected the girl to answer rather quickly anyway. Two or three minutes passed before the female twin finally gave a nod, and then a firm shake of her head.

Despite the lack of any speech from his sister, Tal understood what she meant, and a wry smile found its way onto his face. ”So you want to stay with Rydas- to make sure he’s okay- but you’ve also come to the conclusion that it’ll be too much attention attracted to both you and I right now.” Ira rolled her eyes, and punched him in the arm. The male twin chuckled, though winced all the same. ”Alright then, sounds good to me.”


So the twins ended up travelling with the group for a few days- and just as both of them had concluded, the throngs of people were many to surround the Prince and his group on odd days. However, on one of the mornings- when the group was alone- Tal and Ira both approached the Prince. ”We’re going to split, we’re both really not used to so much attention, you see. But if you ever need us for something, send for Talsin and Iravey Inicka.” He flashed the man a sheepish grin, but Iravey wrote down both their names on a piece of parchment. She hadn’t spoken a squeak at all the entire time they traveled together. Even on their parting, once Tal had turned and exited, the only thing she did was take the Prince’s hand in her own and give it a firm squeeze before letting it slip out of her fingers. She left the piece of parchment behind through the hand grip, and she silently left the room.


Some time after then, the twins had eased back into their lifestyle, although every night Ira would sit near a window and simply gaze out. She allowed a troubled look to cross her features often when she did so, and Tal would watch her before shaking his head with a slight grin. However, one night he burst into their rented room while she sat, and brandished a piece of parchment in his hand, a huge grin on his face. ”Yo, Ira, guess what; I’ve noticed how much you’ve been worried about Rydas- well here.” He dropped the opened envelope at the table before her, and she took it, scanning over it quickly. ”Now we can go see him and the others- heck, maybe we’ll end up staying this time~” He crossed his arms and leaned against the wall, that teasing grin playing at his lips. Once again, he received a punch in his bicep, and he frowned, rubbing it and sticking his tongue out.

He looked down at the table only to find that the piece of parchment had been flipped over and turned towards him. The neat, flourishing pen of his sisters now faced him. ’You do realize we’re going to be in the court scene now, right?’ He rolled his eyes and shook his head with a grin. ”You do realize you can’t hide behind your precious paper forever, right?” A hiss escaped his lips as new pain blossomed in his bicep once more. ”And stop punching people,” He suddenly twisted his tone to match a more regal, British accent. ”It’s hardly lady like.” The male twin snickered, dancing away from the fist of his sister once more. ”Seriously though, you should try talking more often. The world longs to hear your beautiful voice; and I take it that it’s a ‘yes’ to the going of this ball, correct?” Ira let out a mute sigh, but then nodded.


Now….

Ira walked beside Tal as they neared the gates to the rather expansive castle, her head craning back a bit just to get a really good glimpse of it. Tal marched cheerfully along, whistling a pretty tune as he did so. However, once they actually got to the gate, he suddenly silenced himself, and they rounded the corner. Rydas was standing there, and Tal unabashedly grabbed his sister’s arm, dragging her up near the steps. ”Rydas!!” He called, waving frantically. He dropped his sister’s arm, still about seven feet from the Prince. His voice dropped into a coo of awe as his eyes suddenly beheld the scabbard at Rydas's hip. The male twin was instantly beside the prince, and he skillfully untied the object in one fell swoop. The boy stepped away, raising the object up to the sun and shifting it in his hands to marvel at it. The male twin turned it this way and that until something else suddenly caught his attention. He simply tossed the scabbard behind his back, striding over to the pretty lady a step behind him- one that Tal had previously completely ignored.

”Ooh, who’s this? Your promised, Rydas? Nice catch.” He muttered, nudging the prince with his elbow. The boy then let out a smooth laugh, shaking his head. ”But in all seriousness, you must be his sister; I’d know, what with me being a twin and all. I should be able to recognize one, right? What’s your name again? Sin… Seaweed… Sunway… something or other; anyway, it’s a pleasure to meet your acquaintance.” His facials gave away that he was teasing the woman without any shame, and he presented his hand to the lady.

Ira quickly took a step forward and caught the Prince’s scabbard, sending a rather annoyed look at Tal’s back. A soft sigh escaped her lips, and she flashed Rydas a sheepish smile, closing the distance between them and holding out her hand for him to take the object back from her. Tal’s voice flowed back into existence. ”Hmhm, Rydas talks about us? Oh Rydas, you chatterbox~” Tal put a hand up to his mouth and swatted his other hand downwards through the air softly, mimicking a woman’s giggle. Ira looked at Rydas, and closed her fingers tightly over the scabbard, raising a finger on her free hand before walking over to her twin. The girl swung the ornamental weapon down upon her brother’s shoulder before turning back around and resuming her former position while her twin let out a hiss of breath and rubbed at his stricken shoulder. She was smart enough not to do too much to the item, considering it was ornamental.

”Jeez, fine, fine. I’ll behave myself; for right this moment anyway.” That unabashed grin was consuming his countenance again, and he beamed brightly back at the siblings. Rydas should have been used to the man’s antics, or at least expecting them- and if he really did speak of the group, he’d possibly have mentioned it to his sister. Ira’s lips set in an annoyed line, but it quickly disappeared as her eyes scanned over the Prince’s features. She had heard the rumors of what the necklace had done, and had even seen a bit of it herself when she and her brother had been travelling with them. She had often heard the pained noises at night as well. Since then, those thoughts pestered her every night, and she was rather relieved to be near him again. It was ridiculous how large of a bond she had established- how much she bothered herself about him- and so quickly as well. It was obvious she was usually distant with almost everyone, considering her firmest- and rather only- social relation in her life was with her brother.

During the nights she constantly pondered over the abrupt new disposition- why she’d been so quick to care for this man. Was it because he was the Prince? Did he remind her of someone? Was it out of fear or was it out of respect? Or maybe it was something else entirely. Sometimes it kept her up at night, and sometimes she simply forgot what time it was. But now she was hoping that being closer to the Prince would work at the connection and begin to break it down so she could better understand just what it was that caused it.

But for now, she pushed all of those thoughts to the back of her mind. It was simply comforting to be in his presence again and good to see his face. She only gave a fleeting glance towards his sister before returning her attention to him, her fingers still loosely closed around the scabbard.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Talsin Inicka Character Portrait: Cord Braxton
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#, as written by slcam
...

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Talsin Inicka Character Portrait: Cord Braxton
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#, as written by slcam
At the Prince’s screams, all thoughts of waiting for the odd woman to explain what had occurred after the battle fled from Acacia’s mind. She rushed over, joining those gathered around the Prince. Her heart dropped when she noticed Rydas on the floor with unhealed wounds. Every sound was tortured, making Acacia want to scream with him. The blood both around and on him made her want to run, and the pain on his face made her heart hurt. She clapped her hands over her ears, but she could not rip her eyes from his contorted face. It was obvious he was feeling pain no one should experience. She noticed a jeweled necklace around his neck. It had to be the Panacea, but why was it hurting him instead of healing him? The whole scene seemed more and more like a nightmare. As suddenly as it had started, the screaming cut off, leaving behind hoarse gasps and groans.
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Within less than half an hour, the ragged group had exited the citadel. Akdov made his goodbyes, heading off to find Xan’s family. Acacia noticed one of the dinner guests with a harp, and, since they were not ready to leave yet, went over to talk for a bit. It would be good to get her mind off what had just happened. It was strange how differently the world seemed when they exited the fortress. She walked over to the man, holding out a hand in greeting. “I’m Acacia Winn. I suppose I should thank you for carrying me to the rest of the group earlier."There was a small pause before she continued, "I couldn’t help but notice your harp. Do you play?”


The man informed Acacia that he was a bard, and her face lit up. It would be great to have someone else to play and tell stories with. Perhaps even have little contest that would be sure to lift the spirits of the weary group around them. Her smile widened as he played a chord on the harp. However, his name gave her pause. Her smile faded as fast as it had come and her face paled considerably. “Taliesin,” she murmured.
She numbly let him shake her hand before abruptly turning away. "I need to go find...,” she mumbled over her shoulder half-heartedly, dropping the sentence before finishing it and refusing to look at him again. She walked away quickly, not pausing to look at or talk to anyone, pausing out of sight behind a tree. This really was too much. What were the chances that she would happen upon a bard, let alone one named Talsin. It was especially hard since she had been thinking of her Tal so often on this trip. She had hoped that she would be able to honor his memory, to get some closure, lose some of the guilt, but the sorrow had only become more painful.

While Acacia was lost in emotion, Cord on the other hand felt herself physically lost. It seemed that there was nothing else to do but for her to follow. Oats was awake and heading out with all the others, so she simply followed suit. She was rather pleased to find that outside there was a forest, something that she was familiar with and wasn't so confusing. Yet, something stopped her from just wandering straight off into the woods. She knew none of these people, their words meaning nothing to her and so she having no interest in them. She would have gladly disappeared, content to wander the forest with Lady Silence, losing herself to the thoughtless act of simply surviving. But she couldn't, she couldn't bring herself to walk away. It was Oats, the woman who saved her, the one whom she felt such a strong obligation to stay with. It was odd, after so long being by herself to actually know someone. It wouldn't be the same as with Lady Silence, the older woman always looking out for her, teaching her and helping her live life. No, it would be like a sisterhood. To Cord, this woman would be the one she would look out for, would enjoy the company of and simply be with her. Of course, it didn't occur to her that it probably wouldn't be the same but to Cord this was what friendship was. Oats simple act of kindness was all it took for Cord to wholeheartedly believe she was a good person.

At this point in time, since she couldn't find Oats she had decided to stay by the fire, lost in the sharp and twisting dance of the flames. It was captivating and magical. The simplest of thing such as a flame really was one of the most amazing things in this world to Cord. It was her innocence that made her see the world filled with a lot more wonders and mystery.

After a brief respite, Acacia walked back to the camp and began readying Maria, her horse, for travel. It was a relaxing, mind-numbing task and her thoughts were absorbed with things more simple than the torturing thoughts of Tal only moments before. Her gaze drifted to where a small fire crackled and she blinked in disbelief at what she saw. The woman from before was sticking her hand closer and closer to the flame. Acacia dropped what she was doing and rushed over to the woman who was staring at the flames like an addle-brained child. Seeing that the woman did, in fact, intend to stick her hand directly in the flame, Acacia grabbed her wrist in a gentle grip. "What are you doing? Are you trying to burn yourself?" The golden hair woman looked up to Acacia, with confusion plain on her features, but it eased slightly when she recognized the face. She rose, the flames already forgotten. "Oats! Benign and timeless, the echoes of far-fetched beliefs. Too, I fall brazened and glassy-eyed upon the weaving tendrils of burning light. Tingling sensations that raze and devour, utterly without knowledge of their destruction or giving."

Acacia gave a sigh as the woman began speaking in riddles again. It was not quite a sigh of exasperation, but of the necessity to puzzle out another unexpected riddle. She paused a moment, considering both the woman and her words before letting go of her wrist with a small smile."I understand," I guess, "The fire is entrancing. However, you are also right about its capability for destruction. By the way, my name is Acacia. You may continue to call me Oats if you wish. What may I call you?"
"Acacia?" The woman said tentatively, as if to test the sound. She seemed to consider for a moment before speaking. "Oats, the grain of sound, blissfully sweeping the heart to believe. Music. They call to you, notes of nature, life and love." Cord paused for a moment,"Of binding, lost to the world, listening to the cries of the unseen. Tied. To build inside, the thumping of life. Heart. Cor. Cordelia." She finished with a satisfied nod.

Acacia took another minute, trying to grasp the full meaning of what the woman, apparently named Cordelia, had said. After a moment, she gave up, unable to distinguish the different phrases into anything logical. Quickly giving up, Acacia realized it was time to leave. After extinguishing the fire, she made sure Cordelia was taken care of and could ride with someone. They set off with little trouble, and Acacia was glad for the time to process. She came to enjoy Cor's company. Her riddles were entertaining at the least. Overall, however, the ride was quiet and gloomy, the mood significantly dampened by Rydas's obvious pain. Acacia was relieved when they finally arrived at Paetax and received their pay. She decided to leave right away, for the thoughts of her Tal were far from extinguished during the journey, and she had decided to face his family with news of his death at last. She had tried before, coming even to the door with hand raised, only to flee again. It was time now, she had something to prove her apology was more than words; she could now help his family as well as bring them the hurt of another lost son. Somehow, the thought gave her a courage she had been missing before. It was far past time, in any case.

Nelinia gave her goodbye, and Acacia hugged the monk tightly before sending her on her way. She then gave her own goodbyes. "I will be leaving as well. I hope I will meet you all again in my travels." With a final nod and a smile to the remaining group, Acacia turned and began to walk away, only her lute, her few possessions, and the gold coming with her as she decided to leave the horse in the Prince's care. She was more comfortable on her own two feet in any case.

Cord glanced to the sky, the goodbyes totally irrelevant to her and so finding the swirling white fluffballs far more interesting chose to look up. Although, when she heard Oats' voice and realizing that she was speaking of leaving, had even begun to leave, her head snapped in her direction. She couldn't leave. She couldn't leave without Cord! It was like she was being abandoned and so having all her belongings on her, she sprinted after Acacia. Reaching her side, slightly out of breath from the effort and fright of being left behind. "Seconds, minutes and hours, chaotic and lost. The burning thrust inside, dwindling. Follow the song, find the path, the task of only. But alas! Chase the evanescence, there be naught a breath. Tread on familiar paths with another?"

Acacia was surprised by a pounding of feet on the path behind her. Was something wrong? She whirled on her pursuer, only to find Cor approaching, breathing heavily. "What is---" Her concern was cut off by the woman's panting phrases. With a sigh, this time of exasperation, she waited for the golden haired woman to spout her riddles, paying close attention so she could catch some meaning from Cor's words. It did not seem like anything was wrong, but the last sentence made Cor's intentions clear. There was nothing wrong; she merely wanted to join Acacia on her journey. Acacia released the breath she had been holding, and smiled. The smile quickly faded though. "Normally, I would say yes without hesitation, but... this is a... personal trip. I...." Acacia paused, uncharacteristically without words as she contemplated the absurdity of Cor coming with her on a trip like this. It just would not be feasible. Nevertheless, the desperate look on Cor's face made Acacia feel as though she had told Cor she was going to die. She exhaled wearily, hoping she would not regret this later. "Yes, I suppose we can 'tread on familiar paths with another'." Cor's whole face lit up and she spun around gleefully. Acacia could not help but smile at the child-like gesture. At least the trip would be more interesting.

They continued down the road, making good time. Acacia enjoyed conversing with Cor, but they spent just as much time in silence as in speaking. It was awkward at first, but quickly become companionable. Cordelia continued speaking her riddles, sometimes more complex and other times clear, but Acacia quite enjoyed deciphering and even began trying to formulate her own riddles until they seemed to be talking to each other in pure nonsense. Acacia found each riddle inspiring at best, and always entertaining. She eventually began calling Cord "My Muse" and thought it appropriate for the odd woman. The days went quickly, more quickly than even Acacia realized, and they soon arrived at the village. Acacia's mood immediately fell. All the joking and riddles were merely a distraction from her nervousness. The anxiety she had buried now hit her full force. She had visited Tal's family before, a family that seemed happy and caring despite many trials and grief. Tal's father had already died of sickness years before, leaving his mother, Baerina alone to raise their three children. Then Tal's older brother, Horulin, had died in an accident about five years earlier. All Baerina had left were her two children, and Acacia was about to take Tal away as well.

She entered the small yard of the small home, her steps growing smaller. She did not even realize that Cor was still walking with her. Before she even reached the door, Baerina opened it to see who was visiting on the pleasant day. Her face grew into a hearty smile when she saw Acacia, and the hefty woman gave a small laugh of pleasure as she wrapped the young bard in her arms. "So good to see you again!” she said enthusiastically, before looking around with confusion, her eyes resting on Cord. "And who is this you brought? Where is my Talie?" Without any hesitation, she warmly scooped Cord into her arms as well. "Nice to meet you, dear. Call me Baerina." She then hustled them all inside, informing them they were just in time for lunch. She had Yauta, her youngest daughter, who was only in her twelfth year, set the table and ladle out a hearty serving on each plate. It was apparent that Baerina was well used to having company and feeding others. Acacia ate enough to be polite and listened to Baerina's chatter and gossip with proper courtesy. All too soon, the meal was over, and Baerina asked once again,"So where is Tallie? What trouble did he get himself into now?" Baerina and Yauta looked to Acacia with interest, smiles on their faces that quickly disappeared when they saw her grim mood.

Acacia took a deep breath to steel herself, deciding just to get straight to the main point. It would be better to get that out of the way first and then tell what happened instead of leaving them in suspense of her news. "Tal... Tal is dead. He was murdered. It's my fault." Her calm voice began to crack. Suddenly, she broke down into sobs, unable to continue, and hid her eyes in her hands so she would not have to see their grief, their accusing stares. Instead, she felt herself gathered into strong arms, slight tremors going through Baerina as she held Acacia. After a moment, Baerina composed herself, releasing Acacia to set a warm hand on her tear stained cheek. Gathering herself, Baerina spoke in a calm voice, "Yauta, would you take..." she looked to Acacia for her friend's name. ”Cordelia," Acacia said without emotion. "Would you take Cordelia with you to the barn. You can show her the new chickens. I will call you in later and speak to you." Baerina's words held a certain authority that would allow no disobedience, and Yauta obeyed, herding Cord out to give the others some privacy. Cord followed the young girl silently, but she gave Acacia one last fleeting glance, a mixture of worry and confusion. Something that the bard would have noticed crossed her features often. But then she turned and bounded after Yauta, her child-like voice and actions matching perfectly with the small girl.

Under Baerina's caring gaze that held a deep, calm grief, Acacia simply told the events surrounding Tal's death. Many times, she had to stop and compose herself before continuing. Through it all, both women cried many silent tears, sharing in the deep pain of loss. The nearer to the end she came, the less Acacia could look at the woman. Her guilt was too great and she was ready at any moment for Baerina to toss her out the door and tell her never to come back. That never came. Instead, when Acacia finally finished, there was only silence for a moment. Acacia reluctantly looked up, seeing Baerina's concerned gaze. She was concerned for Acacia, and there was not even a hint of accusation in her eyes. Acacia hurriedly told Baerina of her recent adventure and the fortune that she had brought as a gift. Baerina tried to refuse, but Acacia was too stubborn in her convictions and talked her into keeping it. All of it. Though Acacia was planning to leave right away, Baerina convinced her to stay a bit longer. During that time, Acacia and Cord helped around the house, doing the daily chores and just being around. Of course, Cord was quite the mischievous one and would often get up to trouble with Yauta, and it was that little bit of youthful innocence that made the loss easier to bear. Cord greatly enjoyed spending time on the farm, she found all the animals intriguing and would sit and talk with them for hours when she was following either Acacia or Yauta. The young shaman, figured that this was how life was going to be from then on and was settling in well. However, a couple weeks later, they were found by a messenger, who brought news that they were both invited to Rydas's coronation in the coming week.

Cord didn't want to leave and kicked up quite a fuss about it, she would follow Acacia regardless but when young Yauta told her that they would be able to play when she came back, her mood brightened instantly. It seemed that Cord would have made a good sister, and if she remembered that she in fact did have siblings, she would have loved them dearly, making them laugh and just be children. And so their journey started again by venturing out on the road, leaving behind a smaller, but still joyful family. Acacia felt much more at peace, and was eternally grateful for the understanding and optimistic Baerina.

The trip, while slightly somber had a serene feel to it and Cord was surprisingly content just to travel peacefully, no longer feeling the need to go off on wild tangents and stop every five minutes to look at something. They soon arrived back at Paetax, among the last few to join the growing group. Acacia smiled warmly at Prince Rydas, and his sister, Senalae, First Princess of Calisma. As Cordelia came to stand next to Acacia it was then she recognized who was standing before her. It was in fact the dying man whom survived! She grinned widely at him, showing her pleasure at the fact that he was alive. But it quickly morphed into a frown as she noticed the woman beside him, she hadn't seen this woman before, but glancing to the side she saw Oats give a grand curtsy, spreading imaginary skirts with a proper, "Your Highnesses." Her tone was more friendly than proper, however, and when she stood again, there was a pleased smile on her face. Feeling obliged to follow suit Cord copied her meticulously, even using her actual skirt. Acacia looked around and greeted the rest of the groups, carefully avoiding the bard, Talsin and his sister, Iravey. Feeling slightly uncomfortable around so many people that she only met briefly and then didn't see for several weeks, Cord let her eyes wander.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Mirabella d'Adreci Character Portrait: Nelinia Jaze Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Senalae Errion Character Portrait: Callavan Sole Character Portrait: Travian Zarel
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Travian

Travian bowed low when the princess address him. “Thank you for the invitation, it is a great honor.” He looked at each of his companions and smiled or nodded as they were similarly addressed, in several cases making note of names he hadn’t heard or remembered.

Nelinina, the reckless little monk he’d saved from the ghoul. He was glad to see that she was okay, considering she had apparently learned nothing about diving headfirst into things. Still, it had been that very rashness that saved the prince’s life so it would probably be hard to convince her to act otherwise.

If he had not known Mirabella as well as he did and thus didn’t know the significance of her mishmash armor he would tease her about wearing it to the palace. In spite of that, he couldn’t help but wonder if there was any occasion for which she would wear something else. Suddenly the image of her dancing at a ball in her armor sprung to his mind and he had to suppress a chuckle. He made a note to bring that up with her later.

He was also happy to see Acacia again. He had been so worried for her after what happened during the citadel, and though the presence of the babbling woman had seemed to act as a balm she remained troubled throughout the whole journey back to the capital. Once they made it back the two departed and he hadn’t seen either of them since. Wherever they had gone must have been good for Acacia because the smiling woman in front of him was quite different from the depressed one he had come to know.

Callavan he didn’t even recognize until the prince and princess addressed him. The man looked completely different now that he was clean shaven. He actually looked like a reputable person!

After all had been acknowledged servants guided them to rooms which had been prepared. Even though he had been to the palace before he hadn’t seen much of it beyond the great hall, and he marveled at all of the new sights. He was eager to catch up with the others but decided to change and freshen up a bit first. He changed into a lighter tabard which was still quite formal, though not quite as much as the velvet one he had been wearing. The princess had said to dress casual but he couldn’t bring himself to drop too much formality in the palace; he was a member of the nobility after all.

That’s when the realization hit him. His family would be at the coronation. In the past whenever there was an important event that might bring them to the palace he simply made a point to blend in with the other knights. But it was different now, he wasn’t just an average knight anymore he was a special guest of the prince. What if he was announced? He still held his family name, he wouldn’t have been able to become a knight without it; he had been so careful not to make so much of a name for himself that the courtiers might gossip about him.

Overwhelming guilt consumed him. So many times he wanted to write to them, or visit them when he was passing through the area. How much grief had his selfishness caused them? He’d kept track of them through the years, he knew that he now had a sister. Finding out about Kalifina had only increased his desire for reunion. He wanted to meet her more than anything. Her presence also dispelled the fear that his parents might reveal him. She was the charming debutante his mother had always wanted; she’d never find a good husband if anything were to mar the name Zarel.

Despite all of this the only response his brain could ever conjure to the idea of reuniting was “I’m not ready yet.” And now he might not get a say in the matter. More than anything he wanted to be the one to tell them instead of being revealed by circumstance. A part of him was happy, not having the courage to deal with this was the one thing he hated about himself, but mostly he was just anxious.

He had to talk with someone. Listen to someone else’s worries or even just small talk. Anything to take his mind somewhere else and banish the anxiety. He strode out into the hall hoping to find someone milling about, doing his best to keep his mask of confidence from slipping.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Talsin Inicka Character Portrait: Senalae Errion Character Portrait: Iravey Inicka
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#, as written by Skwidge
Talsin and Iravey Inicka


Talsin beamed rather brightly at Rydas’ sister as her feelings were plainly shown on the outside. The male twin only shifted slightly as she motioned to the guards, and then clicked his tongue as Rydas criticized her action. ”That’s hardly a way to treat your guests.” He mused with a teasing tone, completely dropping his hand- the princess was obviously not going to shake it.

As the woman motioned for the guards to move forward, Iravey stiffened a bit, irritation and alertness both present in that one shift in posture. However, as Rydas held up his hand for peace, she allowed her muscles to relax. Her eyes were somewhat brighter than they were as she noted how Sena’s mask cracked so quickly, and also at her tone. Obviously Tal’s first impression on the woman caused distaste, and it showed so easily through her words. Ira’s face, as always when in the presence of strangers, was emotionless as the princess gazed at her and Tal alike. However, as soon as they both turned to greet another pair, she tilted her head down and a slightly dark smirk slipped across her lips. ’How entertaining….’ And the female twin’s face was empty once more.

The princess appeared to be rather pampered and otherwise unquestioned in her commands, so Tal’s behavior was understandably upsetting; however, Ira found it highly amusing that her form broke so easily. Furthermore, it’d be even sweeter to watch how Tal prodded and teased her in the days to come. She herself could only stand by and observe, as she’d like to keep her standings neutral with the woman.

Tal found his way back to his sister’s side, still smiling innocently at those around him. He had completely ignored the harsh reactions of Rydas’ sister, and would indeed continue to subtly harass her at every entertaining point possible.”Fun stuff, eh?” He spoke in a quieter tone, addressing his sister. She matched his grin and nodded before letting it drop off her countenance.

“Again, thank you all for coming. I am pleased to finally meet you all. `Das has only the highest of compliments for each of you. I look forward to getting to know each of you intimately. However, I realize how tired you must be from your travels. Please, allow our servants to show you to your rooms. Rest, bathe, relax. We shall reconvene in a few hours for a tour and supper. There will be men and women in waiting outside your rooms should you need anything. Please, come casually dressed.” The twins’ heads shifted up to look at the princess’s face. Tal’s own face had an amused look to it, and behind Ira’s was the feeling of distaste- she didn’t want to be alone with the woman, she was too pristine and self-confident, plus she didn’t really trust her. She knew how annoying siblings could be, since she had to deal with Tal on a daily basis, so looking on that aspect for Sena, Ira had a rather discontented feeling towards it. Plus she hated people prying at her and trying to get her to open up and talk.
As the group started to move into the palace, Ira and Tal followed leisurely, he somewhere up near the front and she lingering more towards the back. Tal’s face was openly awestruck by how ornate everything was and how many halls and corridors split off in every direction. Ira’s revealed nothing, though her eyes swept across every area. It was definitely a large place, and probably held many secrets. That made her grin internally, but her lips remained a soft line externally.

Finally two servants came to the twins to take them away and present them their rooms, as were different servants doing with the others, and the footsteps of the four echoed against the walls as they walked. The servants stopped at two different doors, the rooms side by side, and opened them without any trouble. ”This is your room, we here at Castle Paetax hope you have a comfortable stay. If there is anything I can get for you, please let me know.” Both recited the same lines to each of the twins, and Tal shook his head with a grin. Ira requested only for a small cup of tea. The servants bowed and then exited, both heading separate directions.

Tal’s room was mainly colored with rich greens, golds, and greys, while Ira’s had tans, whites, and creams. They were both highly furnished, and the beds were large and had canopies. Ira blinked, letting out a mute sigh before walking around the room and exploring the different attributes. Their bags were already placed in their rooms beforehand by some other unseen servant. Tal grinned ever so brightly, walking around his room cheerfully and touching everything. Once he was satisfied, he strode out the door and into Ira’s room. ”Ever so fancy I declare!” He was about to sit down in one of the chairs before he suddenly got smacked in the face with a towel. ”What-“ The male twin looked down at the towel, and then realized there was a bit of dirt and dust on it- obviously from their traveling here. ”Oh, right, right. Well, way to ruin my towel!!” He huffed, swiveling on his foot and marching out of the room, his head held high as he returned to his own quarters.

Ira remained in her room, her palm up to her chin and her fingers spread out- somewhat covering her mouth as a laughing smile wavered on her lips before disappearing. The servant returned with her cup of tea, and set it down on the vanity dresser against the wall. Ira merely nodded in thanks and the servant bowed before leaving once again, closing the door behind her. The female twin took the cup of tea and wandered over to the linked room. The water had already been drawn and it smelled like cloves and rosewater had been added into it. She merely blinked and began to undress, leaving her dusty clothes in a neat pile before leaning down and setting the small teacup beside the pool. She then submerged herself and rested her arms on the stone floor. The cup was right in front of her, and she silently watched the tea within, enjoying the warmth around her. Eventually she began to drink it before actually washing the strains of travel from her form.

Tal bathed only to get the dirt off, and was only in the water for a short amount of time. He was quickly out and already dressed in different attire before exiting his room to go wander the halls and see what was to be seen. He wandered down one of the many corridors, and suddenly caught sight of a figure. He quickened his pace just slightly so he could get closer to discern just who it was. It was the girl he had carried- Acacia. She was just walking towards the corner when he called out, ”Oh, hey, Acacia!” She turned to look back, and her form stiffened slightly before she darted around the corner. Tal blinked for two seconds before actually beginning to go after her. However, when he turned the corner himself, she was nowhere to be seen. A small frown etched its way onto his face, and he shook his head. ’Seriously, what did I do?!’

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Talsin Inicka Character Portrait: Travian Zarel Character Portrait: Cord Braxton
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#, as written by slcam
Acacia briefly inclined her head to the Princess and gave Cor a reassuring smile before following after one of the servants. The group quickly dissapated, each heading to their own rooms, and soon Acacia was alone with the servant. She told Acacia her name was Getra, and she would be assisting her. Getra was a young woman, younger than even Acacia, and was small in stature though she still walked at a brisk pace. A moment later, they arrived at a room and Getra opened the door while asking if Acacia needed anything. Acacia merely shook her head with a smile and strode into the room, admiring the decor as she set her pack down by the large bed. Giving a small sigh, she hurriedly unpacked, leaving only a few items in her bag and laying her spare clothes out on the bed. Taking the various items out of all the pockets in her current shirt and pants, she gently set her trinkets on the bed next to her spares.

Whirling around, she sauntered over to the adjoined bathroom and was happy to see the tub already filled with warm water. She rapidly undressed, bathed, stepped out to dry herself off, and dressed in her spare clothes, stuffing her various pockets again with the possessions she had laid out on the bed. With an eager stride, she walked to the door and flung it open, excited to start exploring. It was a grand castle, filled with many intricate decorations. She was intrigued by the myriad halls and corridors. Walking through one such corridor, she took a moment to observe a large tapestry which vividly protrayed a battle scene in crimson and violet tones. Just as she began to move on, she heard a familiar voice call her name.

Stiffening, she turned and saw Talsin striding toward her. She dashed around the corner and hurried along the short corridor, watching for Tal over her shoulder. She turned to the right and continued trotting down the hall, hoping he would not catch up. Her reaction almost surprised her. She could not have said why she felt she had to stay away from him, but here she was, fleeing.

THWACK!
Acacia was astonished when she collided with a solid surface of some kind. She turned and found herself face to face with Travain. "Oh, hello. I did not see you there. Sorry about that."
"Don't worry about it I wasn't looking where I was going either...."
Acacia gave a nervous glance behind, looking for any sign of Tal. "Why don't we take a walk," she said, facing him once more before taking his arm and nearly dragging him down the hall.
"Fine by me, I've been hoping for a chance to catch up with everyone."
She pulled him along at a brisk walk, wearing an oddly cheery look. "Yes, it is so good to have the 'group' together again. It felt far too strange traveling with just Cor and I after being in such a large group for so long. It was pleasant, of course, but it took some getting used to, for several reasons." As the got further away from the spot they had met, Acacia slowly became more relaxed.
"Do you mind if I ask what you were so eager to get away from back there?"
Her steps slowed for a moment as a slight blush colored her cheeks and she looked down at the floor. Just as suddenly, she sped up and looked at him with confidence. "Oh just something silly. It really was nothing worth consideration. What did you do when everyone took their month leave, Travain?" she said, changing the subject abruptly, hoping her question would call for a long enough explanation that he would not have a chance to wonder why she was being so vague.
It was easy enough to get the hint, he wasn't going to press her into anything she didn't want to talk about. "Oh...well you know I actually live here in Paetax. So it's pretty much just gone back to the way it was before. The only difference is helping Siobhan out now and then."
Acacia gave a genuine smile, the first since she had bumped into Travain. "Oh, Siobhan, the cleric who healed us all, correct? I must find her later. I owe her my thanks. I am glad she had some one to watch out for her here in Paetax, and I am sure you did an exellent job. Have you been to the palace before?"
Now he was the one blushing. "Uh... yeah. I've been to several events and celebrations here before, but I've never really been outside the main hall before. I'm actually kind of excited for the tour later."
"Oh, do all paladins come here frequently? Well not all, but maybe the ones who live near Paetax? "
"Oh well actually I was a knight before I was a paladin, actually it's still my "job". I have to report whenever they call me which is fairly often. My affiliation with the temple is more of a volunteer thing, but because I'm a knight I was able to become a paladin."
"Oh, really? But wait, can't only nobles become knights, at least officially?"
"Uhh yeah, well I technically am a noble but my family's pretty low on the scale," he said somewhat reluctantly.
"Hmm... Zarel. I would not know much about who is who when it comes to the nobles. We only rarely performed for noble families." Realizing too late she had said we instead of I, Acacia hurried on hoping he would not catch it. "So, your family must be proud of you for becoming a knight. That is a noble profession," she smiled at her pun, waiting to see if he would catch it.
"Acually....I haven't had any contact with them in a long time. I don't really know how they would react.......and I'm kind of worried about running into them at the coronation."
"How they would react to what? They are coming to the coronation too? I think it would be interesting to meet them. I am sure they will be proud of you, but why are you worried?" Unfortunately for Travain, he had sparked Acacia's curiocity and she was becoming increasingly determined to find out about his family.
"How they would react to me being a knight.....it wasn't something they approved of when I was a kid.......I sorta ran away from home so I could be one........and I haven't talked to them since. And they're definitely going to be at the coronation. All the nobles have to swear fealty to the new king."

There was a short silence as Acacia thought about her last visit to her family. She thought about how she would feel if she knew she was going to have to see her parents. To be forced to see them. Her emotions showed on her face as she contemplated what to say. "I... I understand. My parents do not approve of my being a bard either. My last conversation with them was not what you would call cordial. I haven't seen them for almost a year. I understand how difficult the situation is for you."
Her words came as a great relief. "I just hope I get the chance to find them and sort it out before the actual ceremony. As much as I'm not looking forward to it, I'd rather it be me that tells them. I'm afraid of us being announced or something at the ceremony, since we went on the quest with Rydas, and having them find out that way." he then switched to something he assumed would be more cheerful. "You said 'we' earlier. Does that mean you were part of a troupe?" He said with a tinge of excitement. In his mind he pictured a colorful group of bards, players and all sorts of other interesting acts all living and honing their craft together.

A small smile appeared on Acacia's face, but if Travain looked into her eyes, he would see a note of sadness there. She answered in a soft, oddly melodic tone, "No, nothing as fancy as a troupe. But I did travel with another bard at one time," she paused for a moment, wondering how to continue. She gave a sigh and looked around, noticing a small door. It was too thick to be just a room door, at least for a normal room. Acacia walked over, curious, but also wanting to avoid going deeper into the current subject. She was not ready for that yet, and did not know Travain well enough to tell him something so deeply personal. Her relationship with her parents was one thing, but Tal was another level entirely.

She grasped the handle and pulled, almost surprised when in swung open. Outside was a small, round balcony with a waist high railing encircling it. It was large enough to hold several tables and still have room to spare. She walked to the railing and looked out on a courtyard that had a few people strolling about amongst the various flowering plants that circled a shallow pond. A breeze blew softly around them, and Acacia breathed in the refreshingly cool air. "Beautiful, isn't it?"

It was quickly apparent that he had chosen the wrong subject. Almost as if trying to escape him she abrubtly walked off and opened a random door to find a large balcony overlooking a courtyard. They were silent for a moment as they each took in the new sights. When she spoke again all he could think to say was "Yeah." So far everything else he had tried to ask her about had been an unpleasant subject for her. "I'm suprised to see so many plants growing right now. I don't know much about such things though. They probably have enough plants for the different times of year that it always looks this lively."

"Oh, here you are. Dinner will be served in half an hour."Acacia turned and saw Getra, the servant girl who had lead her to her room earlier. "Oh, thank you. Would you lead me back to my room so I can freshen up?" Acacia said briefly before turning to Travain. "And thank you, good sir, for the conversation. It was... nice." She hurried after Getra through the winding halls again and was relieved when they arrived at the familiar hall. She hurried into the bathroom and looked at herself in the large, gilded mirror before splashing a little water on her face from a nearby basin. The water was cool and rejuvenating, and Acacia felt ready to go to dinner. She stepped outside her room again and nodded to Getra, saying, "Alright, on to dinner."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Cord Braxton
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#, as written by Adantas
Had she been a woman of patience and of sane mind then Cord would have easily stayed with the armoured man. However, she was not and so when he took longer than she expected she simply waltzed away. Despite being plunged into that awful silence, Cord was still caught up on the feeling of spring. She could imagine the chirping of birds and the whistle of the wind. With the music of a beautiful season in mind she danced away, lured also my the muffled sounds of talking and laughter.

She would have easily wandered into the castle and gleefully gotten lost, exploring each door and every corridor. Unfortunately for the deranged woman a particularly pesky servant was adamant about getting her to the dinning room. It was frisky business, she would attempt to skirt around him but he would gently take her by the wrist and lead her to another corridor. She would never struggle against him, the middle aged gentle man was too kindly to her despite his impatience. He would always let her go when the turned a corner, gently coughing each time when she went to open a door. Eventually, without even realising it the man had led her to where the commotion of sound was most concentrated. He politely held open the door for her and gestured for her to enter. Excitement seeped into her actions as this was finally a door she was allowed to enter.

As soon as Cord entered the room she completely forgot about the kind servant far more interested in seeing the table ladled with food of all colours and topped with wonderful decorations and the people of different builds and dress. She even spied a few that she actually remembered from before. But it was the man, who unlike the others was standing, who caught her attention the most. The strong voice, defined features and the regal manner of his aura she had seen before. It was the cloaked one or now the crowned one since she last seen him. Before when she and Oats had arrived it hadn't really sunk in that she had been addressing Rydas, but seeing him as he had been back at the place of capture had sparked her memory.

She stood for a moment, head tilted to the side listening. It wasn't often that she did so but something about what he said made the spirits either excited or uneasy or both. She wished to go up to him so that he could explain but something held her back, most likely that he was standing at the head of the table with all eyes watching. But starting to fidget again she had to do something. Thankfully she spotted Oats and pranced over to where she was seated. She was oblivious to any eyes staring in her direction, only concerned about reaching her friend. As she reached the bard she knelt down beside her, looking up to her before speaking.

"A sneakery of whispered ways, vanish past sight. Lathered poultry, outgrowth, mutton consumed, time sky turns shadows. The blue blood doth a gather and the crowned seeks a cast of wonders and adversity untold to followers of shield, coin and breath."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rydas Errion Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Talsin Inicka Character Portrait: Senalae Errion Character Portrait: Iravey Inicka Character Portrait: Magna Romea Character Portrait: Azevrec
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#, as written by Skwidge
Talsin Inicka


Click click… click. Click click… click. The sound of Tal’s boot heel spread across the rather void halls as he walked, his back straight and one hand behind his back. ’Step step, hop. Step step, hop.’ He mused to himself as he acted out his odd little shuffle. A soft tune wavered behind Tal’s closed lips, pausing only when he breathed. His footfalls matched the song which he hummed, and every so often the notes would drop as he brought up his left hand, opening his mouth and then biting down on the soft flesh of some sort of fruit.

The male twin smiled cheerfully to no one save himself, and then licked at the corners of his lips where juice threatened to dribble down. His movements could be seen as clockwork- fairly precise and very continual. ’Step step, hop…. Step step, hop.’ Click click… click. Click click… click.

After having attempted to chase after that Acacia girl, Tal figured he had seen enough of the castle for one day. He had also decided it to be best not to get lost and then make a scene and cause trouble for the hidden workers of the castle. So he had wandered off and found some sort of sustenance. Click click… click-k. Tal’s ear twitched, and he abruptly stopped, retaining his content grin as his sister suddenly appeared at his side. He broke his stance to perform a small little wave to her before continuing to move.

He blinked, his gaze shifting down towards her outstretched hand. He rubbed his chin for a few seconds before shrugging. ”Don’t know,” He leaned against the wall with a mellow facial expression before taking another bite of his mystery fruit. Continuing on to elaborate more on his sister’s written question, Tal’s voice worked its way around the small pieces of fruit within his mouth, ”It appears to be a hybrid of peach and plum, but I don’t rightfully know what it’s called.” His walking- and humming- resumed and Ira followed behind. Click click… click. Click click… cli- ”Hey Ira, do you remember that little marionette doll. You know- the one from the small town… uh, Tempera I believe it was?” -ck. Click click… click. Ira’s eyes shifted over to her brother’s form, and took the extra step-breaking the merged sound of their footsteps- and her step settled seemingly perfect with his.

She neatly deposited a little puppet string into his free palm before falling back in step with him, although this time at his side. Tal smiled, tilting his head and peering down at the object. ”So you’ve still kept it, huh? That’s nice to know. Sometimes I wonder how deep those pockets of yours are… but then I remember I don’t ever want to find out. It would ruin the fun and excitement!” He let out a short laugh before humming once more.

He finished his fruit and then deposited the pit onto a small table nearby and then gazed up at the grand ceilings. He opened his lips and words came forth from his hummed song, “But alas, her string- began to fray; Alas, the little puppet girl knew not- for if that knot unraveled that day; The little puppet girl would never get to play… again.” The tune he carried on humming until they ran into a pair of servants who had been sent out to find and corral the adventurers to dine. They led the two to the dining room, and Tal entered cheerfully, his eyes scanning over many of the already-seated guests. However, there were some new faces as well- nobles, as he soon discovered from the idle chatter going about the table.

The male twin simply strode to an empty seat, his facials brightening as he realized it was next to the One-Who-Keeps-Avoiding-Me, and fell lightly into it. ”So, what do you think of the castle so far?” He blinked, his focus directed solely on her with a small smile. However, it faltered a bit when she failed to answer him. ”Acacia?” He waved three fingers in front of her face, trying to grasp her attention.

”Oh sorry, I wasn’t paying attention.” Tal let out a soft cough, squinting one eye before restating his question. After a few more moments she answered him, only to receive another subtle cough. ”Very… big and… nice words.” He mimicked good-naturedly, a cheerful smile on his face to show no hard feelings were meant in his jape. He opened his mouth to say something else, but was instead interrupted by a sharp jab in the ribs- the result of his sister sitting next to him, and the Prince began to speak. So they’d have to listen to some prayer or other. Tal’s lips pursed uneasily, but he remained polite and silent.

After the prayer was finished Tal’s eyes widened as the plethora of food entered the room. The smells were fantastic, and his stomach growled eagerly. He tucked into the food before him, but ate rather modestly for fear of being beaten by Ira afterwards and stuck to a new training schedule. He shuddered at the thought before quickly putting it away. He chewed thoughtfully and laughed often with the conversations floating around him, having almost completely forgotten about the encounter minutes ago with Acacia.

However, as the servants returned to dispose of their dishes, their attention was recalled by Rydas. A look of distaste wove itself onto Tal’s countenance, but he focused nonetheless. His eyes widened as he noted the random objects set before them- all linked by their magical properties. “These items will be sought out by friends and foe alike, and while Paetax’s own treasury is safe, I fear housing all this power in one place is asking for doom. Your task, should you accept it, is to safeguard an item and use it to protect this realm.” Blinking, the male twin leaned back further against his chair, pondering over each one in particular, his only thoughts being that of just what they did. And, since Rydas himself had one, what the consequences were.

Iravey Inicka


Ira stepped from her room, quietly shutting the door behind her- now that her things were unpacked, she wished them to remain anonymous from prying eyes. She would have to find herself a key later on, but for now, she set off on her task of finding the dining room. Unlike her brother, her steps were relatively silent- the result of something practiced for many years. Of course, she was a lot more casual about her mannerisms as she was a guest, and figured that there wouldn’t be many watchful eyes out. Being loud just wasn’t something she could make herself do anymore for fear that it would break her carefully constructed demeanor.

Her eyes quickly landed on that of her brother’s back, and she immediately advanced towards him with her steps shifting in sync with his. She was about a second off, and the ending of her footfall delayed after his, causing her twin to stop, waiting for her. Her eyes travelled up and down his form critically, and a piece of small parchment was in her hand while she scribbled something down as they resumed motion. What are you eating? She held it out for him to read, and he responded with a very vague answer.

”Hey Ira, do you remember that little marionette doll. You know- the one from the small town… uh, Tempera I believe it was?” With a blink, the female twin shifted around in her pockets before producing the small golden string, her leg stiffening to match down with her brother’s step and depositing the item in his hand before shifting back and walking next to him. ”So you’ve still kept it, huh? That’s nice to know. Sometimes I wonder how deep those pockets of yours are… but then I remember I don’t ever want to find out. It would ruin the fun and excitement!” She grinned slightly at him, her eyes shining with the emotion before it was wiped clean from her face. He continued his humming- the song he had created from the days they spent within that town and the small puppet.

Tal stuffed the string into one of his own pockets before continuing down the hall with Ira close at hand. They quickly ran into two servants who immediately led them to the dining hall- a small relief for Ira. As they entered, her eyes scanned over the faces within the room- quite a few had still to arrive, but there were new people as well. Her form stiffened for two seconds before she forced it to relax, but she was on the alert. Nobles- those who rarely should be trusted. She quickly turned and followed Tal to the table, taking the seat to his right as he conversed with the woman from before. Her gaze shifted around the room, taking in the faces and focusing on what was going on around her.

However, after a short prayer, the food was quick to arrive, and she settled back into her chair, waiting for her plate to be set. Once it was, she ate silently, listening in on the conversations going on about her. She constantly found her gaze shifted more towards the nobles, noting how they acted and how they spoke.

Once dinner was over and the servants appeared to take away their dishes, Rydas recalled their attention to himself as he spoke- changing the topic to something apparently more serious. Just what was quickly revealed as the Prince removed a cloth from a table. Twenty items of power- it boded many things, good and bad. Her thoughts immediately went to the nobles- in her opinion, it wasn’t very wise to have them there if they were rather influential. They were called the twenty items of power for a reason. Her eyes focused on the Prince’s face, rather docile towards what he wanted them to do.

Magna Romea


Her ears shot up as she heard the voices of some of the nobles of the house, and the softest of growls threatened past her vocals to lightly test the air. ’How offensive! They invite practically all the highest ranking nobles, and I didn’t see a single servant walking towards the direction of my room.’ Her whiskers twitched softly, another display of irritation. Oh well, it hardly mattered in any case- she was there after all. Her head twitched up as the man departed from the Princess to sit down.

Magna’s sleek form shifted from her seated position on the floor to the pillow which was placed specifically for her near the Princess’s side. It was rather soft and filled to just the right proportion to be comfortable and still allow her a good view. She settled into the center, her tail curling over her left haunch and stopping at her side. And then Sena announced they had to listen to some priest drone on in a prayer, and Magna’s ears flicked backwards fractionally to display her distaste.

Thankfully, it was a short one, so the food would be arriving shortly. She was rather hungry, and was definitely ready to eat. However, her head tilted up to peer at the priest who then addressed the Prince and Princess, asking for a donation. ’Tactless.’ She thought mildly towards the man, her tail tip twitching softly against the fabric of her pillow. Her eyes darted upwards, her gaze settled on Sena’s facials as her own anger showed up in some of the angles of her cheeks and countenance. A soft meow pressed past her lips and she reached out a paw to tap lightly on the hem of the Princess’s skirt before returning to her body. Rydas addressed the man, and Magna let out a short purr.

Her ear twitched as Sena clapped, indicating that food was soon to come, and Magna’s eyes brightened at the aspect of delicious food. Soon she felt the soft hand of Sena sliding across her head and back as she was stroked, and a light purr rumbled through her vocals. The feline daintily took the small pieces of meat from the Princess’s hand, being sure to refrain from actually touching her fingers. She chewed cheerfully, relishing the tastes that filled her heightened senses.

Her ears swiveled constantly, never ceasing to pick up pieces of all conversations. She was learning a lot about these people, even though they only shared a few tidbits of what they had been up to lately. Rydas soon stood once more, calling everyone’s attention. Her head swiftly edged up so her sight would rest on him, and he revealed that he had something important to explain at this gathering. Her ears flicked forward readily, eager to gain the information.

But she wasn’t expecting what he unveiled. A soft hiss escaped her vocals, and her ears fell flat against her skull. Her form tensed and many thoughts flew through her head. The nobles were here- it wasn’t even a question to think that they’d want those items. It wasn’t safe for them to be here, and she was quickly put off.

Rydas continued to speak, and her form reverted to its normal state, though still tense. So he was going to entrust his adventurers to these items. That was clever of him. Magna rose from her pillow and gingerly leaped up to the lap of the Princess and settled down, ready to depart if she showed any signs of not wanting her there. She wanted to see who would get what.

The setting changes from Calisma to Paetax

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Acacia Winn Character Portrait: Talsin Inicka Character Portrait: Cord Braxton
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#, as written by slcam
The trip to the dinner hall was shorter than Acacia had thought it would be. She would need quite a bit more time to become used to the layout of the castle, of course, but she was unsure whether they would have the time until the coronation for themselves or if they would be helping somehow. She hoped they would have at least some time to explore for themselves as well as something to do. Acacia was never one for merely sitting still.

She thought back to her encounter with Travain and began to wonder if she had made a fool of herself. It was obvious she had made the conversation somewhat awkward, and she wondered if she should have said more and what she could have said differently. However, she did not regret the conversation itself. It was nice to feel that someone understood her situation with her parents. She wondered if Travain felt the same way. On the other hand, she wondered almost guiltily if she would have even begun talking to him if she had not been running from Tal.

When they arrived at the hall, Acacia gave Getra a small nod and went inside. She sat in the first chair she came to, happy to see several others already seated. After giving a small wave, she busied herself with observing the decorations and layout of the room. She soon noticed a few people she did not know, and assumed they were nobles and courtiers from the way they were dressed. She tried to figure out who they might be, but she had paid little attention before to who was who when it came to the nobles. Perhaps she would meet them later?

She rapidly became bored with speculating on the nobles identities and taking in the room, and began searching through her pockets for something interesting. She happened upon a small metal puzzle and pulled it out for a moment. She had not worked on this particular one before, so she began fidgeting with it under the table. She had just finished taking the pieces apart when she heard someone sit beside her. Acacia looked over with interest that quickly turned to surprise and dismay when she realized it was Tal.

Acacia hastily turned her head as she replaced the unfinished puzzle in a pocket and out of sight. She tried to look as though she had not noticed him. She knew that Tal probably saw her look but kept on with the charade, feeling foolish. She did not understand why he wanted to sit by her, and hoped he would not bring up what happened earlier. She fought down a blush, quickly becoming embarrassed.

She inwardly cringed when he spoke, asking what she thought of the castle. Acacia realized he had not specifically said her name, so he was not necessarily just talking to her, right? She wondered if he would end up leaving her alone if she did not respond. She could not really think of much to say in any case, and just being near him made her slightly uncomfortable, though she knew it was irrational. She almost flinched again when he said her name, leaving her without a good excuse.

“Oh, sorry, I wasn’t paying attention.” She hesitantly looked at his face with an overly cheerful smile. He repeated his question and she paused for a moment before answering, “Ah, well. Its fine, I guess. Very… big. Nice….” She gave a small nod and a smile; however, inwardly she berated herself. ‘Big? Nice? That is all you could come up with to answer him. What a great conversationalist. Probably feels like he is talking to a four year old.’

At his response, Acacia nearly laughed. She was glad he at least had a good sense of humor about the situation, but she did not know how much longer she could stand the awkward conversation. Luckily, she was saved from further embarrassment by the entrance of Rydas and Senalae.

Acacia was glad to hear the warmth in Sena’s voice. She obviously had experience entertaining guests. She raised her glass and took a deep sip before returning her interest to Rydas. She was intrigued by his instruction to stay after the meal, wondering what exactly he had in mind. He introduced Azevrec, and Acacia was caught off guard when he introduced him as the head of the church of Deud. This man, if she understood correctly, was Akdov’s successor. She listened with great bemusement, eager to learn what a prayer to Deud would sound like. When the man briefly addressed Rydas, Acacia gave into temptation and pulled out a small book and charcoal to write the prayer. It was somewhat poetic, but not as ostentatious as some could be, or, thankfully, as long.

Her stomach began to rumble as she thought about the plentiful, delicious food they would soon eat. However, she was surprised when Azevrec continued speaking. He really did remind her of Akdov in the way he spoke frankly without care for how it would affect others. Acacia was by no means surprised at the shock and anger on Sena’s face. It must have been quite insulting to her for him to beg for money at a celebratory dinner. Rydas skillfully smoothed the situation over and Acacia laughed along with him, glad to be joined by a few others.

Finally, it was time to eat. Acacia darted a glance at Tal, but he paid little attention to her. She was happily ate and joined in the general conversation. Though the mystery of the Rydas’s announcement hung at the back of her mind, it really was nice to be together again. After a time, the meal ended and Rydas spoke again, finally telling them what he had in store for them. They would be entrusted with the items of legend.

Acacia’s gaze wandered over the various guests at the table, some familiar and others not. She processed their reactions, trying to decipher what they were thinking though her own thoughts were buzzing. She pulled out her book again, writing a couple hasty sentences before putting it away.

Amid the buzzing, Cord came up to Acacia and kneeled beside her. Acacia gave her a genuine smile. She had wondered what trouble the golden-haired woman could have gotten into, but she was not concerned by her short absence. To Cord’s questioning statement, Acacia effortlessly replied, “A wonted echo for truth, my Muse. Nevermore removed from the heart. Settle contiguous, loquacious one. Among, so inside a manner affable. Only hear and know.” She motioned to a chair beside her with a grin. Speaking in this manner had become easy for her, and she greatly enjoyed it. However, she motioned to Rydas and the objects, hoping Cord would be able to understand what was happening.