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Roth Ursuul

"I'm sure we can find a peaceful solution here."

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a character in “Crowns, Empires and Swords”, as played by Roku Mushabuki

Description

Name: Roth Ursuul

Age: 12

Appearance & Build: Roth is unlike many Ursuuls. He has fair smooth tanned skin without hardly any blemishes, only a few freckles on his cheeks. His hair his brown and often messy as he hardly ever takes care of it. Like his father he has blue eyes, but they are very light. He has long eyebrows and very red lips. Unlike his other kin, Roth is small and frail.

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Personality: Roth is a creative, curious, and idealistic to a T. When he finds something that he doesn't quite understand he tries to figure it out or at least try to firmly grasp the idea. He likes the idea of creating a cultural exchange in Khalidor and opening friendly relations with the South. As a pacifist he strongly believes that all life is sacred and should never be taken from anyone. HHe does, however, know that sometimes war is necessary even if he doesn't like it. He is also strongly against human bondage.

Roth knows that his father is very harsh, yet he still loves him even so. Though he does not believe his father should sit on the throne as he thinks that the country needs a kinder leader instead of a feared one.

Who are they: Roth Ursuul, heir to the Godking of the Empire of Khalidor.

Where they live: Though he had lived in Khalidor for most of his life, Roth is currently in Galapagos city overseeing a smugglers guild.

Past: When Wanhope traveled south to visit foreign lands after he took the throne, he took a fancy to a baker's daughter in Galapagos City. Upon her pregnancy he took her back to Khalidor to raise his future aethling. That was Roth's mother. Most aethling were thick with only Khalidoran blood, but not Roth. he had the blood of two nations in him and his mother constantly reminded him of that. Growing up he was not like his brothers (Those that Wanhope had sired with various other women). He took interest in academic studies instead of traditional studies of war that future Godkings were taught. His tutor was Fayvus, the last known elf in Khalidor who had been enslaved by Roygarris himself and watched over the royal library.

While the other children studied strategy, he would study mathematics. When they tested magic, he tested science experiments with his tutor. He became well versed in the history, geography, and languages of various countries not only his own. He studied trade, diplomacy, and philosophy as well. Fayvus hoped that these studies would guide Roth to the path of becoming a more fair ruler than his ancestors.

Wanhope assigned Roth to his rite of passage to become an heir when he reached ten. With the help of an advising meister, he was to establish a smuggling operation in Galapagos to smuggle grain into Khalidor. Roth and his adviser worked relentlessly each day to gain a high status in already existing smuggling dens. After one and a half years, as well as merging three thieves guilds too, the mission was a success. Although many smugglers died when caught by the patrols they did send much needed grain into Khalidor. Thus Roth became the only current heir to the throne.

Unbeknownst to his father, Roth's guild also gained much profit by smuggling people in/out of Khalidor. Political fugitives could find the country safe from their enemies and smuggling Khalidoran slaves into Galapagos to be freed.

equipment: Padded cotton with leather straps, a flute, a lute, and a dragon glass dagger that his father gave to him for show.

Spells: Roth knows only minor spells such as healing cuts or helping fevers. Mostly he uses illusion spells to improve the sound of his music and to tell stories.

Skills:

-Flute/lute playing: He could sooth a wild bear with his music.

-Diplomacy: Roth has a way of words with the way he speaks to others.

-Bluffing: Sometimes only silver tongue can get him out of a situation.

-Alchemy/invention- He often spends his time trying to create new things, though most of the time he fails.

-Persistence: Roth never gives up. No matter how difficult the challenge is.

So begins...

Roth Ursuul's Story

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Beneath the grand city of Galapagos was a sewer system used by the criminal underworld. What was normally a place bustling with smugglers, thieves, and pirates was instead pact with civilian men, women, and children who were trying to escape what looked like an eminent hostile takeover. There were a couple hundred smugglers organizing the frightened people. They were to escort as many as they could through what were once secret tunnels used to smuggle goods out of the city. This was by their their leader who was examining a map of the city with his allies.

"The Atlanteans to the east, my father from the north, yet no reinforcements for the city. We can't take the people north or else Jorg will slaughter them. We can't have them in the city or hold off the assault. The only solution that I can see is the go south. The Atlanteans will be focused around the city. Thus if we cross the river and head for the smuggler dens in the mountains we can travel to the South Pacific. We'll use our own funds to give to the government there so they'll allow the refugees to stay there." Roth was explaining. He was in a pickle. Resources were stretched thinner then the time that the city had left.

"We've barricaded the major choke points around the slums and entrance points to slow the invaders should they get in. The civilians are being escorted here and I've sent some men to get our boys out of the prisons. They'll leave the bad ones to their fates. Traps have been set near the choke points also. We should begin evacuation now." Lazy Pete got his name from his left lazy eye. He pummeled anyone who mentioned it.

"Alright let's go! I want everyone to carry as much as they can. Food comes first!" Roth shouted. With that hundreds began to file down the crowded tunnels.

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Music filled the dark camp where the refugees lie. They were mournful as any would be. Their homes were destroyed and their friends or neighbors had been butchered. Thousands that were lucky enough to escape were now in a packed in camp nestled in the hills of a forest across the river. The light from the fires bled deep into the night as did the cries of those around it. Only the music gave them comfort, giving them memories of a simpler time.

Roth had been playing his lute to sooth them. His lute was custom design that Fayvus gave him. He said it was an old Elven variant that had long been forgotten by the world when his kingdom fell. The lute was strangely designed as it was built to play various forms of music when imbued with magic. For this tune he had a stick that was called a bow that he weaved across the strings. Fusing his illusions into the notes, he created a powerful glamour that would bring vivid images of a persons best memories to them upon listening to the music. It was different for all of them. Some were weddings, others were reunions, many were births of children.

After the camp fell into a silent slumber Roth met with his advisers. They all knew that a path straight south was the best answer. Their mules carried their silver and gems that they had brought with them. One hundred chests of silver and four bags of gems were the entire guild's treasury. It would be more than enough to persuade the South Pacific to hold the refugees there. They had plenty of food and supplies to last the year. After all the guild was smuggling the grain into a rivaled nation for quite some time. They would let the people sleep for a few more hours before they break camp. Roth wanted to be in the mountain range in a few days at the latest.

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"Why does she need to be so cruel! Challenges meet me every corner and Khali never has any mercy!" Roth was screaming in anger within his tent. The local leaders that were with him who organized the refugees looked very uncomfortable as many knew Roth yet none had ever seen him anything less than calm. He was furious because a night raid on their camp by bandits. Fifty people were killed and nearly half the silver reserves were stolen. The same silver that he was going to bribe the South Pacific with. Now he would need to find another way to get the funds.

When all the leaders were gone, Roth addressed Pete. "Our funds are low and with Galapagos going up in flames there will be refugees pouring across the border. The only option is to send the funds from Khalidor. Since my father has made an alliance with the Atlanteans, they won't attack the ship carrying the aid. With it we can drop off medicine and food too. I'll return to Khalidor and send the aid from there. Give them the Ursuul Royal Seal to prove that what you speak of is true. Then I can go to Labrador for personal business. I leave the camp to you Pete, take care for me. Okay?" Lazy Pete was one of the few who knew of Roth's origin, that he was an Ursuul. He was leaving everything to his friend while he was gone. They said their goodbyes before departing. Roth rummaged around for a teleportation scroll that his father gave to him for emergencies to use it right away.

In a big flash of light Roth appeared before the Ursuul Citadel, alerting a Vanguard on duty. "Roth?! Where did you come from" He asked. After vomiting the boy replied "No time to explain. Organize a small party of Vanguard to escort me to the south and bring a cart of medical supplies. My father has summoned me and you know you don't want to be on his bad side. I'm going to rest for now. Inform me when we will be ready to leave." The Vanguard hurried to complete the task as Roth walked to his chambers within the citadel.

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When the boy said he needed to rest, it meant that he wanted to relax and see the city. It had been a while since he wandered through the streets of Khalidor. So he grabbed a purse of Ursuuls and headed out of the palace. The streets were different from what he remembered, then again he had been gone for nearly two years. People were happy. Before the war food was scarcer and often vendors would go without any goods to trade. Now the city was overflowing with food that came from Labrador and shipped in from Galapagos. Even pigeons, which were a rare sight on their own, were own the ground eating crumbs. Roth went up to a vendor and handed him an Pine Ursuul for a cinnamon roll. Then he overheard some talk about the Colosseum holding a game. "This is waaay too be holding the games." Roth thought to himself as he ran there to find out.

Roth sat in the front row. He had purchased some wine at the vendors to enjoy with his roll. He made a bet on the berserker would win, he always won unless a highlander was in the match. In Khalidor, a Colosseum only allowed volunteers to fight. Once they have killed all other competitors they would fight in a district tournament. The winner of that district would then become an honorary Vanguard. It was an easy way to fill in the ranks, however, normally the games only lasted one month with very selective hours. Now the games were going twenty four seven. That hadn't happened since the rule of Draven.

After he lost his bet from a highlander entering the match, Roth went to the bathhouse before returning to the citadel. The bathhouse had been established by Godking Dug as a way to create culture and hygiene in the empire. It was cheap to bath, the house was connected to a temple, a garden, a theaters, a shopping area, and a library. The interior was paved in fine marble and stones. The water was Bathhouses like these were erected all across the empire, creating a habit of excessive bathing. Even the slaves bathed at least once a week. The Baths of Draven in Khaliras was the largest.

After swimming for a bit he returned to the citadel to sleep for a bit. A few hours later a Vanguard knocked on his door. "The caravan is ready my lord." Roth awoke and quickly packed his things. He was excited to see Labrador.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Godking Wanhope Character Portrait: Roth Ursuul Character Portrait: Moloch Markus Character Portrait: Grigori Blint
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"We lost about half our men. What is left of my men number 50,000 and what is left of your men is 40,000. In all, we will have 90,000 men to defend this fortress. I have already sent a raven to Drake City to request more artillery and Magi. If we play our cards right, we can break the enemy before these walls."

Ninety thousand were quite a few. Combined with the fort's defense and the reinforcements they could easily hold off the enemy. He turned to the commander. "I want you to begin rationing goods and to increase the guard limit for the city. Ready the weaponry for attack and send patrols to the farms. Also send one hundred horsemen to the enemy to ask them if they can give our fallen comrades a proper funeral. If their answer is yes, our men will make makeshift pyres." Wanhope told the man before turning back to Moloch.

"Get your injured to the temple district. There they will be healed to the best of our abilities. Let the rest enjoy the city for now. Tell them to enjoy the liquor and brothels, my treat. Morale is key here." He told his ally. Glancing at the injured, then glancing at the mountains he got an idea. "You do not have any Rangers by chance, do you?"

*****

"To find the crops you seek, we must climb the mountian's peak." Blint glared up at the mountain. The view alone was intimidating enough, let alone the idea of climbing it. "Why couldn't I just have to ride ten miles without a saddle?" He thought to himself. He really hated climbing yet he knew there was no other way to get to the top since he didn't know magic.

"I'm ready."

*****

It had been a long time since Roth tasted venison so it was always a treat. He and his Vanguard were feasting on a hunted deer in a barn owned by a local northern farmer. They were trying to avoid settlements as to not tip off any hostiles in the regions. Only the farmers knew and they were paid handsomely to quietly, but he was sure some would spread rumors. The farmers treated them kindly at least. They were probably the only profession that was always treated well under Khalidoran occupation. Since they grew the food that Khalidor valued, farmers became significantly wealthier and the distribution system gave them the land that they worked on that would normally belong to their lords. Even religious freedom was granted to those in the agricultural professions.

The plan was to travel to a small settlement called Pigs Town to stock up on supplies before they continued to New Castle. Once they were teleported to Khaliras they were only able to use a minimal supply of food since the city, like many others, were frantically using resources to turn the economy to wartime production. He knew the capitol district alone was making a thousand weapons a day. That's what happens in a country where steel and labor is cheap. The fact that the first frost had already fell didn't help either.

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Character Portrait: Roth Ursuul
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When Roth reached New Castle he had the treasury emptied and as well as the storehouses. He had been made the protectorate of the city of White Harbor and he intended to bring reforms to the occupied city. Much to the count's pleas to reconsider Roth simply told him "These people are now citizens of Khalidor and we will treat them as such."

When he rode into town with his supplies, word of his coming had already spread across the city. As ordered many had been gathered towards the town center. He used a pinch of magic to amplify his voice over the crowd. "You have all sacrificed much through the transition of power and I assure you that the hardships are over starting right now! Food, water, medicine, clothing, and coin will be distributed here for all! Please take as much as you need." He shouted over the crowd. Soon there was a rushing crowd frantically grabbing supplies. There were many who look starved and famished. I sight that saddened him. The point of the invasion was to feed Khalidor, not starve the North in the process.

After things had calmed down the crowd watched Roth intently as he named off the new acts that would be put into place. "Children will be educated. Instructors will teach them how to read and right your own language, not Khalidoran!" Khalidor was multi cultured to begin with, the only thing unifying being the religion. "All those accused of heresy are to be pardoned, healed, and compensated. Any soldiers who have done harm to any citizen is to stand trial in a mixed court of both northerners and Khalidorans. Religious freedom will be granted in full." The locals seemed in wide disbelief of the words Roth spoke. Obviously the count hadn't been very keen on taking care of them or standing up to his father. "A great festival will be held here tomorrow and all are welcome to come!"

There were many slavers in the crowd, frowning at his new laws. He decided to give them a real ball buster. "As my last decree, I proclaim that all Northern slaves in the city of White Harbor are to be freed at once. All bought slaves will be compensated for by the Ursuul treasury and refusing to do so will result in purging." He shouted and turned to leave. There was a mix between a few angry shouts muffled by a roaring cheer.

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Character Portrait: Roth Ursuul
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New Castle was a busy place since Roth announced that a festival was to take place. Dozens of barrels of liquor was being taken to the town center as well as all the food stocked in the castle. Soldiers were frantically trying to organize caravans to go to the city. The new governor of the city was discussing the arrangements of the festival with a very angry Count. Reginald argued that the funds had to come somewhere else but Roth insisted that it was not his place to decide. Should he decide anything at that point, it would be whether to be crucified or purged.

"Oh and one last thing Reginald..." The Count, who had been staring downwards in frustration, looked up at the heir to Khalidor. "I want to spend a night with that Stark girl that my father gave you. You know, the one that you dragged to that abandoned keep" Roth told him.

The Count stared with wide eyes. "How did you..?" Before he could finish Roth interrupted him. "I have eyes and ears everywhere. What you thought you could just waltz her out of the castle and walk by Khalidoran troops without anyone noticing? I already sent my Vanguard there, she's in my quarters as we speak. They killed half a dozen of your men getting to her. More importantly even after my reforms took place, you violate them anyways. I just can't have somebody do something like that without consequence." Roth drank rest of his wine and threw the goblet at the door. Then two Vanguard and a green meister came in. The Vanguard took a hold of the startled Count.

Struggling the count demanded to know why they were handling him. "We're going to teach you your place here. Do you prefer you fingers or your cock?" He asked taking out his dragon glass dagger. The Count looked at him in horror before screaming for release. "Don't worry, the meister will heal anything taken off. You'll just have pain to deal with. Enjoy."

After many minutes of loud screaming the Count was released. He had not a scratch on him due to the healing yet was covered in blood from the waist down. As Roth turned to leave the room he spoke one last thing to the Count. "You still own her you know? I don't even have the authority to release her. I do not, however, tolerate deception or torture. Should you do this again we shall practice the northern art of flaying for a day or two. Understand?" To that he left the man to his scared experience.

*****

Roth waltzed into his chambers where the distressed Julia was. He looked up at the large map of Khalidor that had been glued to his wall and began to undress. Remembering that she was still in the room he spoke up, back still turned. "Don't worry I'm not going to touch you. You're just here to be away from that awful Count Reginald. He won't be doing that to you again. Not as long as I'm around." He told her.

"You'll remain here until the festival starts. The room off to the side has a bath that you can use to wash up. You can use the bed to sleep in, I can sleep on the couch. Khali knows you need it more then I do. In the morning we will eat a large breakfast and discuss how we will get you out of this city." He had been smuggling Khalidoran slaves who had not yet been indoctrinated for years through crowded soldier infested hot spots many times. He was sure that he could sneak one out of a drunk city now, especially given his current resources.

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Character Portrait: Roth Ursuul
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The festival had began and it was a grand sight indeed. Khalidoran cuisines from cultures across the empire lined the tables. Anything from pork to beef to succulent fruit and spices such as cinnamon were poured onto the desserts. Both Khalidoran vodkas and northern mead accompanied the food. Roth had even brought nearly all of the castle's supply of coffee and vanilla that came from the capitol to the festival so that the northern commoners could catch a taste of Khalidoran luxury.

To entertain the crowd the meisters took old northern legends and history and reenacted them using powerful illusions, making the performance that much more spectacular. The tobacco from Khalidor had been distributed to the locals and they were enjoying them on Khalidoran water pipes.

While the crowd was drinking, eating, smoking, and singing, Roth was serving shot after shot of vodka to the Count in hopes that he would be intoxicated before the night was out. After the tenth shot and the seventh time that Roth had apologized for his actions, the Count was as hammered as a nail. He then carefully left the festival to journey off to a trade shop not half a mile away. There he would meet with Julia and his ally, Davos.

"It's high time that you got here, my lord." Davos said to Roth as he entered the shop. "I appreciate the favor Davos, I owe you one." He told the old smuggler as he went to work on using his illusions to make Julia look like a man.

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"After you got my brother out of Khalidor when he was caught smuggling, this is the least that I can do." He replied. He stared in concern as the young girl's face turned to that of a young boy's. He never really liked magic, even though most nations didn't have unethical spells. In Khalidor, however, only necromancy had certain banned spells but he had still seen many horrid things done to people.

"I'm done. Nobody should know the difference and you look quite handsome if I do say so myself." Roth joked to Julia as he got the supplies together. "Davos here deals with the northern resistance and will take you to your people, far from this city. The disguise will last for only thirty minutes which should be enough time to get to the outskirts of the city. Most of the guards will be drunk tonight so you don't have much to worry about. I've packed some things for you two to take on your journey there. Food, water, clothing, bedding, weapons, and gold. I packed a scroll of invisibility in there that will last for a short duration. Use it should you absolutely need to. I wish the best of luck to you. Now I need to get going before I'm missed at the party." He handed her the bag and started to walk off.

"Best leave now mam, we got to get our distance from this place." Davos said as he guided here off in the opposite direction. "Don't you worry now. We'll get some steppe horses that Roth has set for us in a barn just outside the city. With those we should reach are destination very soon."

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Character Portrait: Roth Ursuul
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"Wait!" Roth stopped when the girl called out to him. Had he forgotten something? He was wondering that until she ran and hugged him, sobbing as she thanked him. He felt stiff as he didn't expect that reaction. He was even more surprised when she kissed him. It was his first kiss and his face turned bright red. "I was suppose to be yours you know, I suppose it wouldn't have been so bad after all." He felt more uncomfortable at the thought of being forced into a wedding against his will. Personally he couldn't stand the thought of being around a copy of himself, let alone be married to one. "Please be safe." She called out to him as she went away with Davos. For some reason he felt as if they'd see each other again someday.

Roth stepped into a pub near the town center that had been cleared out for only Khalidoran guards. In the corner sat the Captain of the Guards and the General that held command in the city. He sat with them and neither lifted their gaze. "So what's the plan?" The Captain asked silently.

"We need to incorporate the northerners into the ranks of the guards. They'll never be willing to work with us unless we allow them to govern themselves. Khalidor does not want to rule this land, we only need a friendly government to take root. That will never happen if Khalidoran's run their government. That's why Reginald rules this city and that's why the Boltons are in charge now. It's because they live here. Before we can achieve that point we need the North to police itself, then defend itself, and eventually rule itself." He told the captain. "I want twenty five percent of the guards to be northern by the end of the week. You think you can get that done?"

"I think so, but it'll be difficult. Your new laws will lift their spirits so hopefully we'll get more recruits." The captain replied. Then the general chimed in. "I can start recruiting the locals into our ranks. Nothing important, for now anyways. Just as basic grunts."

Roth smiled at the responses and held his cup of mead that he ordered for a toast. "For the glory of Khalidor and the reconstruction of the North." He said to the two officers. They all banged their cups together and drank as the festival raged on.

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Character Portrait: Roth Ursuul
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Roth stood atop an inn's balcony overlooking the marketplace. Since slavery had been outlawed in the city and the people were given coin in their pockets again, business was starting again. Khalidoran merchants were selling their wares and buying crops from northerners. Among those many bought another delicacy that had been missed since the embargo. Northern mead was enjoyed by the inhabitants of Khalidor and the alcohol was valuable. In fact it was what the prince was drinking as he discussed plans for the city with his council.

"If this is going to be a Khalidoran city then it needs to function as one. There are three things we need to improve here. Sanitation, waste disposal, and the water supply. The last one come first. We've discovered a large aquifer miles outside the city. Using our workers I believe that we can build a tunnel to connect it to the city. It's large enough that it should secure it's water supply during future growth and won't be targeted by any enemies. The costs will be high." He told them, pointing to the area on the map. He then shifted his finger to a map of the city, pointing out key areas.

"Bathing needs to be encouraged as well. If we build bathhouses then the public will be able to use them. They will start out free and as it becomes more popular they will be charged at a low price for maintenance. Once we have the large water supply from the aquifer we can build those. Also we must build more apothecaries and a hospital where our meisters can heal the population." He took out another map of an area just south of the city. "I have chosen a stream to be dammed into a lake. From there we shall build a series of aqueducts that will carry the wastes of the city to that lake where it will be far away from the city."

The council continued to discuss the matter. It was agreed upon that the subject of medicine would come first as it took the shortest amount of time. Next would be the tunnel, then the bathhouse, finally the waste management. The tunnel would take the longest amount of time given the expanse, however, meisters were to be used in its construction.

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Character Portrait: Roth Ursuul
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(Ignore)

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Character Portrait: Godking Wanhope Character Portrait: Roth Ursuul
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When Wanhope awoke from his slumber he sent for a servant to get him parchment and ink. He would be incapable of moving for at least a week, perhaps even longer. His son had sent him a letter marking his arrival to White Harbor. Perhaps it was time he was entrusted with a powerful mantle in his place. Upon receiving the parchment he began to write.

Dear Roth,

My business in Drake City will take much longer that expected. I have fell ill to a magical strain of the plague. I fear that it is the work of the Melville. Seeing as I cannot oversee the North from down here I hereby pronounce you "Lord Paramount of the North" until the House of Bolton establishes full dominion over the land. I will send messages throughout our holds there so all will know that you rule in my stead. Do what you think is best and beware of the Melville. There is no doubt this war is filling their pockets. I think it is about time we rip a hole in those pockets.

Your Father,
Wanhope.

******

Roth was eating in the halls of New Castle when a messenger brought him a letter that came from the Fire Pitt. He opened it and read. It was amazing news yet vexing as well. On one hand he could bring mercy to the land, however, on the other hand his father was gravely ill. If the Melville were up to it, which they probably were, they would be banking on the slaves coming from the North and Galapagos. While he couldn't do anything about Galapagos, he could start with his land.

"Good news." He told the messenger. "I have been declared the Lord Paramount of the North. Send messages throughout the land. The country is to follow the same laws that I have placed in White Harbor. Slaves heading for the border shall be seized and freed by order of the state. Any slaver to refuse shall be crucified along the King's Road. Flaying shall also remained outlawed with no exception." The messenger took note of what was said and went on his way. Roth sipped his mead as he thought of how pissed the Melville would be to learn the slave trade in Labrador would die.

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Character Portrait: Roth Ursuul
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The streets were crowded with people rushing about. There was screaming and shouting throughout the city. Word had just come through that a massive army was heading towards the city and was only hours away. The new Paramount had ordered the evacuation of all Khalidoran citizens and soldiers. The boy himself was preparing his own defenses outside the city.

Roth had amassed all the cavalry at his disposal. Fifteen hundred in all. The plan was simple, use the cavalry to buy time for civilians to escape. It was only to buy time though, he had no hopes of winning with such odds. The best he could do was to wait outside its walls and wait for the enemy to come.

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Character Portrait: Robb Stark Character Portrait: Jon Stark Character Portrait: Da'Karro Misantri Character Portrait: Captian Robyn Sheva of The Harbinger Character Portrait: Roth Ursuul
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"FORWARD!"

Jon roared as his army surged. The walls of White Harbor were not as defenseless as they appeared when his massive host stepped out of the tree line. Hundreds of massive balls of flame soared from the battlements, to sear the land and engulf the men. While each blast obliterated those unlucky souls caught in it's radius Jon's army was massive and the fire was barely slowing them down. He assumed catapults, Da'Karro had been the one to see the truth of it. Meisters, Khalidorian war mages hurling balls of magical flame down on the advancing Northern army. Jon looked to the head of the column, Robb was commanding admirably, pushing his men through the hail of magical fire and suffering minimal casualties considering the onslaught. Lord Umber brought up the rear, his reserve units filling in the gaps where men went down to wizard fire. Lord Karstark had been gone for the bulk of the fighting, gods willing doing what Jon asked and rounding up the fleeing Khalidorians.

They sent no defenders outside the wall. Feeling it was better to hide behind their high walls knowing full well Jon's army would not risk pulling those walls down. The city was theirs, they would not raze it to win the battle. Yet as fire ball after fire ball struck the ground or the men that rushed over it Jon wondered how many men he was willing to sacrifice for this single battle.

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"Where is The Captain?"

He growled out loud. It was Robyn's team, her strike force that had been charged with dealing with the watchers on the wall. They were supposed to slip in while the battle raged on outside and deal with the cities defenders from inside. As of yet Jon had seen no legitimate weakening of the mages volley. His men did not falter never the less. Robb and his vanguard reached the walls and brought the battering ram up, ready to hammer down the gates and deal with the spell casters themselves. Jon could hear Grey Wind howling for blood from up ahead. Then he saw the fires from within the walls. Sheva had made it, her squad had hit the mages in the rear and now they were turning inward to deal with the threat. He knew her skill and he knew the skill of the Cranogmen assassins following her. They'd make short work of limp wrist mages. Now was Robb's time to push through and make a hole for the army.

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Robb was covered in mud and soot. The foul stench of burning flesh filled his nostrils but he soldiered on. His men rallied to him as he lead the charge from the front. Grey Wind raced at his side as his horse's hooves trampled through the frozen ground. Around him fire erupted in great plumes where the wizards fire struck. He was skilled enough to snake his vanguard through the incoming barrage. The enemy had killed some of them but no where near enough to save themselves. He reached the gate and brought up the battering ram as the wizards tried frantically to smote them with fire. Again and again the ram struck the great wooden gates of White Harbor. The men roared, hungry to break through and bear their steel. Grey Wind howled for the blood of the invaders and Robb Stark stood, a giant amongst men. The fire casting his shadow across the whole of the wall. The defenders looked upon him and trembled. He grinned, that wolf smile of his, blade in hand.

"Soon."

He muttered as he heard wood splinter. Soon the fire stopped and erupted from within. Robyn had reached her target, her and her frog men had clashed with the defenders. Robb could hear screaming inside and the death throws of burning men. The icy fingers of terror gripped Robb's heart as doubt polluted his mind. Their strike should have been fast and silent. As the great door splintered and shuddered from the repetitive impact of the battering ram Robb knew something was wrong. He shouldn't even need to break down the door if Robyn was successful. Once the defenders were dead she was to open the gates but instead here he was, forcing his way in. He gripped his sword and snarled.

"I want that damned door down! NOW!"

Robb roared. His men put their back into it, working in a fever pitch. The ram picked up it's pace and finally the walls of White Harbor fell. Robb let out a battle cry and rushed in. First into the fray. White Harbor's remaining defenders were there to meet him. The greeting didn't last long as his blade cut them down. Grey Wind tasted fresh meat and the vanguard surged through. Robb could hear the war horn signal the charge, Jon was coming with the rest of the army, soon White Harbor would be over run. Yet Robb's eyes scanned the battle for only one. Where was she?

Robb caught the sword of an enemy soldier, their steel against his. Robb shoved them back roughly before opening his chest. Two more charged him, they fared no better than the first. He cut them down in the blink of an eye, his sword moving faster than an arrow in flight. He pushed deeper into the fray with Grey Wind slaughtering men in droves beside him. Robb's vanguard butchered what Khalidorian's remained in the city but Robb sensed something was amiss. There was no where near the amount of men he was expecting.

"There should be more of them..."

Robb said out loud as he moved through the carnage around him. As he made his way through the battle field, under the light of the full moon he found burned bodies littering the ground. These were no Khalidorian soldiers. These were Northmen, Cranogmen to be precise. "Robyn!" Robb was frantic as he began looking over the bodies of the slain. Roasted corpse after roasted corpse he inspected them all. Any Khalidorian fool enough to attack him while he searched was brutally hacked down or taken by Grey Wind. Robb was terrified, he'd never felt so afraid in his life. The thought of her lying in a pool of blood, her skin charred from wizard fire left a pit in his gut that left him feeling hollow.

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While the city was being attacked Roth and his cavalry were riding about checking on the fleeing civilians. Nearly all were out of the city. He sent two groups of two hundred far around in the direction of the army in case any of the enemy decided to come outwards. Then after a while he saw some riders to the distance coming close to the road.

When the riders came into distance, Roth pulled the formation together. The groups from behind made their way from behind the riders and soon the Khalidoran cavalry surrounded the enemy's. Archers and meisters were at their ready while the winged hezars had their lances ready to impale the enemy.

"Who leads this scouting party?" Roth shouted as he rode in front of his soldiers.

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Character Portrait: Arya Stark Character Portrait: Jon Stark Character Portrait: Clara 'Scarlet'  Stark Character Portrait: Roth Ursuul
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Rickard Karstark cursed the gods. He cursed the old gods, the new gods. He cursed the damned red god from Asshai and the Khalidorian god. He cursed the drowned god, the wind god and even the god of tits and wine if there was one. His should have been the easy ranging. He was not tasked to lead the van into the fray nor was he entrusted with the reserves. No, instead this boy king told him to ride out with his riders and harry runaways. Might as well sent him to mind the children so easy should this task should have been. Of course, gods be damned, he seemed to have the hardest go of the lot of them. He rode with two hundred swords and found himself surrounded by at least fifteen hundred. Under his breath with a frustrated grumble, Lord Karstark cursed the gods.

"Who leads this scouting party?"

Came a young voice. Lord Karstark almost couldn't believe his eyes. A boy, no a child, no more than eleven or so winters rode out ahead of the cavalry addressing his party. A boy, he was captured by a boy. Curse the gods, every single blasted one.

"Lord Rickard Karstark, of Karlhold. Bannerman to King Jon Stark, King of The North."

Lord Rickard barked back as he walked his horse out ahead of his men to meet the boy commander. Perhaps there was still someway he'd see the sunrise, perhaps there was still a way for him to save himself from this heaping mountain of shit he just stepped in.

"Parlay?"

Rickard asked hoping the boy wouldn't out right refuse and kill him where he stood.






Sansa didn't have the words and even if she did she didn't wish to utter them, least of all to Clara. She bore no ill will to her cousin, she loved her yet Clara was the one Arya chose over her. How was she supposed to express her sadness without seeming like a jealous fool? Sansa tried to speak, sitting on the bed across from her cousin and failed miserably, breaking down into a pitiful laugh at her own ridiculousness.

"Clara, it's nothing. Really, I'm fine... I'm just... I'm just worried about Arya is all."

Sansa Stark was gifted in a great many things, lying was not one of them.

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"Lord Rickard Karstark, of Karlhold. Bannerman to King Jon Stark, King of The North." King of the North? That was quite a cocky title for a king without a country. Roth thought to himself. "Parlay?" Battle had yet to begun and this commander was already called for parlay? He was about to ride on unarmed civilians and yet he expected mercy. Had Roth been his father the man would pray to his gods that he received death. However, he was not his father.

"You were going to ride on civilians which is a direct violation of the Baffin Laws. By all right I should castrate your lot, nail you to crosses, and use the meisters to stretch your pain as far as your body could handle until they end it with fire." He told Rickard. Nodding over to the city.

"That's quite the army you've got there. Almost tenth of ours. So it's plain to see the city is lost and whatever the soldiers that are left will have been slaughtered. So as with all battles we must discuss the funeral arrangements as is law. So where is your master?"

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Character Portrait: Arya Stark Character Portrait: Robb Stark Character Portrait: Jon Stark Character Portrait: Da'Karro Misantri Character Portrait: Captian Robyn Sheva of The Harbinger Character Portrait: Roth Ursuul
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Rickard stared at the boy in the saddle a few yards away. The slew of threats was not at all what he was expecting. He'd been promised pains and hardships before, but by adults. When a child tells you he could have you castrated there is something deeply unsettling about that. Rickard cleared his throat and responded.

"Well... I'm not quite sure who Baffin is or what laws you think I broke but you're not with Baffin and you're not in Khalidor boy. You're in The North, your laws don't mean shit here. As for my Master, ain't go one of those neither. Northerners don't have masters because Northerners aren't dogs and we're not slaves. I've got a king and you're more than welcome to speak to him if you want that chat about what to do with all them Khalidorians we just butchered."

Lord Rickard shifted his eyes to the men surrounding him. He was glad he wasn't already dead, this lot looked poised to run him through. Yet the boy seemed keen on talking and he seemed to be the one in charge oddly enough so Rickard just hoped his luck would hold out long enough.

"King Stark will want to know who it is I just brought before him if that's your notion."






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"King Stark! King Stark!"

Jon turned around to the sound of one of his men calling his name. He had just started moving his men towards New Castle. The bulk of the army was washing over the city like a cleansing wave, washing all trace of Khalidor clean from it's streets. Jon was taking his men to the central keep to finish the task of securing the city and that meant taking New Castle. He would have his men deal with the Khalidorian auxiliary while he and Da'Karro dealt with their high command and elites. Yet as one of his men called to him and pointed he saw he was just about to start that fight on his own because Da'Karro was wandering off.

"Seven hells! Where is he going?"

Jon cursed as he urged his horse into a trot. It took him seconds to catch up to Da'Karro. He brought his horse a round in front of him, stopping him as his horse reared back.

"Where the hell are you going? New Castle is that way."

Jon asked through the sounds of the battle.






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Robb's hands were blackened from the charred skin. He must have searched dozens of bodies by now. The soot was caked to his gloves, his armor, even his hair. He hardly noticed the stench of burned flesh. He had to find her, it was all that mattered. He had not seen her when he broke through the gates. He had not seen her when he dealt with the forward guard. He could not see her now. He hefted one body off another, their blackened bodies almost fused to one another from the intense heat. He prayed silently in his mind that he would not find her hear. That she would saunter out of nearby alley way and ask him what in the hell he was doing while she gave him that impish smirk of hers.

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Then he heard it. The long and lonely call of Grey Wind's howl, a wolfs lament. He turned slowly, his eyes finding the great beast that had been his friend for so long. He stood over a bit of clothing covering a figure, every so often he'd sniff it with a whimper. Robb approached, his heart thumped in his chest, fear driving it. He looked down and recognized the cloth instantly, it was hers. Her coat, the coat she wore and once she slipped it over her shoulders she was The Captain, The Crimson Lady. Robb's hands trembled as he reached for it, they shook so badly he wasn't sure he'd be able to grasp it but he did. It was soaked in blood. He took a breath, slow and steady to steel himself for what he may find underneath. He grit his teeth and pulled back the coat to reveal the charred body underneath.






Sansa could feel the tears coming, they yearned to kiss her soft cheeks as they so often did but she refused to allow them to. She had been sad for so long, weak for so long. A stupid girl with stupid dreams. To dream of a sister who was her best friend as well as he beloved sibling was just that, a dream.

"Clara it's not you. It's nothing you did. I'm not angry with you, I promise you. It's... the other night. I had come to collect you and Arya for the feast. I heard you two talking. I heard her tell you she wished you were her sisters instead of me."

Sansa had never said the words out loud before. She'd never uttered the horrible thing she heard, she couldn't bring herself to do it yet now she had and it was all the more real for it. She wanted to cry but she had no tears left, Arya had taken them all away when she'd left Castle Black.

"I don't know why she hates me Clara, I don't know. I love her but she hates me all the same. I'm not... I'm not like her. I'm not strong and brave and wild like her but that doesn't mean I can't love her. She my sister, my sister. Why do you have her love and I don't?"

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"Well... I'm not quite sure who Baffin is or what laws you think I broke but you're not with Baffin and you're not in Khalidor boy. You're in The North, your laws don't mean shit here. As for my Master, ain't go one of those neither. Northerners don't have masters because Northerners aren't dogs and we're not slaves. I've got a king and you're more than welcome to speak to him if you want that chat about what to do with all them Khalidorians we just butchered." Roth smirked at the man's ignorance. How one could fight another without knowing their enemy was beyond him. Northerners were simple. Honor bound and prideful.

"Baffin is not a who but a what. Without it this land would be facing total war and they are the only thing that's keeping this war humane. As far as the name goes, last time I checked it was Khalidor who placed Roose Bolton on the seat of Winterfell and it was Khalidor who collected taxes. I must be wrong. Now you're bragging about killing a small garrison.." He began laughing as he found humor in the misplaced pride. "Which most of isn't even in the city?" He watched the man's eyes shift to his soldiers nervously.

"King Stark will want to know who it is I just brought before him if that's your notion."

Roth thought for a bit. If he told them that he was in line for the throne of Khalidor then they might not let him go. Then again if he did this Jon might be more keen on speaking to him. He's been in worst situations before so he might as well go along with it.

"I am Roth Ursuul. Paramount of the North and heir to the throne."

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Rickard Karstark ground his teeth and frustration. Gods the boy was arrogant. The way he talked to him made him want to bend the lad over and give him a proper whooping. Lord Karstark wondered how bold the lad would be without all these men around to protect him. Worst of all he wanted to argue over who ruled The North when they both knew full well Khalidor and their ilk were interlopers looking for plunder.

"Roose Bolton is an oath breaker who will meet the kings justice soon enough! I won't hear no more about a dead man from a boy so green he pisses grass."

Rickard snarled angrily. Arrogance may have not been a solely Khalidorian quality but they did it better than anyone he'd ever met.

"If you're truly this prince we've all been hearing about you might be able to save a few lives here tonight boy."

Lord Karstark said finally calming some. Roth may have the upper hand now but his fifteen hundred men would hardly fall quicker than leaves in autumn should Northern reinforcements come looking for Karstarks missing unit.

"You've got your fifteen hundred between me and your fleeing invaders. Now you can kill me and my men but the army would come looking. Wonder how well you and yours would fair against twice your number, three times, four times?... You could run but we'd chase you and we'd catch you. You wouldn't do much more than by yourselves about an hour of a hard ride before a quick death. Or... you could do the smart thing here lad, and surrender yourself to me and be brought before the king to break words. Let your men go and escort your people wherever the hell it is they're running off to. You come with me and I'll swear that we won't pursue them. You want to debate Baffins and Paramounts and Kings, do it with someone who gives a shit. I'm just a solider who'se growing tired of arguing with a whelp younger than my daughter."

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Roth was beginning to be real ticked off by Rickard's insults. Constantly addressing him as boy or as a whelp was not customary when speaking to someone of higher status anywhere. He looked at the man's horse with a half grin. Unlike most horses, Khalidoran horses weren't bred to be fast and powerful, they were bred for long treks and hardiness. The horses would outrun the Labrador breeds long before the ran out of stamina. He waved his hand to a Vurdmeister off to his side.

"They should all be out of the city by now. Signal that surrender." With that order the Vurdmeister cast a bright beam of white light into the sky. After about a minute several other beams across the city appeared as well. Turning to another rider he spoke gently. "Go to the Castle and make sure the Labradorans don't rummage through my things. I have it in the room and I don't want them to accidentally set it off."

"Well Rickard, whether you died here or not I had no intention of surrendering myself to anyone. Regardless I will discuss the laws with your master for he should know them if he doesn't know already. However, I will not go alone. Every Khalidoran knows not to trust a relative of Edmond the Liar." Roth gave a whistle and the surrounding soldiers backed away. Ten of Khali's Vanguard, five Vurdmeisters, and twenty meisters rode up to his side. The Vanguard were all of fae decent and it was obvious in their faces. Each had their custom ebony weapons and special armor. Though he doubted that Rickard cared in the slightest. He probably didn't know about any metal besides iron or steel.

"Now take me to meet your master so we may talk."

*****

When the beams of light lit the sky each Khalidoran that saw them stopped fighting immediately. Those in combat parried and backed away. Soldiers sheathed their weapons while the meisters stopped casting their spells. Officers came out front to speak to the opposing officers about conditions while their soldiers remained still. Each one was trained to follow orders to a tee and they would rather follow their orders than face decimation.

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Character Portrait: Robb Stark Character Portrait: Jon Stark Character Portrait: Da'Karro Misantri Character Portrait: Captian Robyn Sheva of The Harbinger Character Portrait: Roth Ursuul
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Jon sat the high seat of New Castle. Lord Eddard Stark stood at his right, Da'Karro Misantri stood at his left. The warrior priest still covered in blood as were many of the men including Jon himself. The battle had been over for little under an hour and Jon was still replaying it in his mind, the final push. Jon had managed to reign Da'Karro in, even if it was only enough to guide his rage. He turned him on the men guarding the keep and he unleashed the beast. Da'Karro carved through the ranks of the enemy so quickly he soon outpaced the army. The only warrior who was able to keep up with him was Jon himself. The two men, despite their dislike of one another, fought surprisingly well shoulder to shoulder. Da'Karro wielded rage like a weapon, Jon moved through the enemy like the warrior kings of old. Between the two of them, they would have wiped out what remained of the Khalidorian occupation in the city if the call to surrender had not gone out.

So now Jon sat but he was not pleased with the victory. It felt hollow, too easy and bitter. He reclaimed a city that was his to begin with, a city that was stolen from him and his people, a city that had been suffering under the arrogant, brutal rule of a foreign nation and now when justice should have been his the enemy bent the knee rather than fight for long. It left a sour taste in his mouth. To top it all off they had captured the son of Wanhope and he was being brought before Jon. Jon didn't want to meet this seed of darkness. It was easier if he didn't meet him, if he didn't see the person he was. It was easier if he just thought of Wanhope as a dark figure, a monster in the night. Yet to know he was a father, to know he had a son, it made hating him that much more difficult.

As Jon sat there, with Nymeria and Ghost at his feet and his army in the great hall of New Castle the boy was brought in. Jon was surprised how young he was at first glance. Little older than Arya yet with vastly more power if the stories were correct. The boy seemed proud, perhaps a little too much so as he walked through the hall at the head of his personal guard with an air of superiority. The fact that he was surrounded by an enemy army howling for his blood and the blood of his country men seemed to barely phase him. One part bravery, one part stupidity Qhorin would say. Jon quieted the men, raising his hand to silence them as he looked down at the son of Wanhope.

He didn't speak right away, he just stared at him. Jon's dark eyes locking on to the icy blue ones of the boy. To his credit the boy held Jon's gaze. After a moment Jon spoke, his voice carrying out along the hall.

"I am told you hold the title, Paramount of The North. I hope you'll forgive me if I forgo stolen titles for the children of invaders."

Jon began, his voice harsh and cold as a winter wind.

"You called for the surrender of the men guarding White Harbor, I thank you. You saved lives on both sides tonight. While we are at war I have no interest in needless bloodshed."

Ghost licked his jaws as he stared at the young son of Wanhope, it was as if he could smell the shared blood the son had with the father.

"You surrendered yourself so you may speak with me, for the lives you saved by wisely laying down your arms so I grant you that. What is it you'd say to me?"

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Robb was on his knees, Robyn's coat in his hands. He grit his teeth as the rage built inside him, threatening to burst. Tears welled in his eyes as he thought of her final moments, as the fire licked her skin and she screamed in pain. He clenched his fists and the coat in his grip. His eyes on the corpse it had covered. He looked at it as his body trembled. The woman he'd known, the woman who captured his heart and mind, the woman he'd loved. There was little denying it now. Now that she was gone to him he could not lie to himself when the pain was so real. He'd loved her and Khalidor had taken her away from him. His eyes seemed fixed on her as he stared at the blackened and charred corpse. Yet as he stared it didn't feel right, it didn't feel right at all.

He knew Robyn, she had a presence, a connection to him that he couldn't explain yet this corpse, this charred piece of flesh. There was nothing, no connection, no emotion at all. It was as if it wasn't her at all. Robb set his jaw as he stared, his mind trying to comprehend the storm of emotions and thoughts flooding through him.

"What do we say to the god of death?"

The words echoed in his mind, he'd heard them before as a boy when he was still learning how to fight, how to kill and how to stay alive.

"Not today..."

He muttered out loud as he got to his feet, a simple declaration of refusal. He refused to accept her death, he refused to accept that they had taken her from him. The truth was that there was a very real possibility that she was dead to him but there was still hope and it was that he clung to. He knew in his heart this thing before him wasn't Robyn. He would know if it was and this wasn't her. He sheathed his sword and stalked off to his horse with Grey Wind in tow. Something had happened to Robyn Sheva and he was going to find out what and he was going to save her. He would not abandon her to torment and death, not as long as he had strength in him. She was his and he was hers. The Wild Wolf would ride out into the night. The howl of hunt would herald his approach and the thief who stole her form him would know, The Wolf Lord Cometh.

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Roth stood before this new Stark king slightly underwhelmed. He expected a dirty, uncivilized savage. Instead he got a man that looked like he spent too much time on his hair. He seemed intelligent enough though.

"In Khalidor war is common and bloody. We've made a series of laws that prevent them from going out of control. That is why this war is so lax on our part. I ask you to honor these laws and we shall honor your laws of combat. For my soldiers here I ask that the survivors can give the dead a proper funeral so that the souls of those who died can reach the afterlife."

"We will honor our laws and my meisters will do their best to heal your wounded and ease the passing of those who are too far gone. I also request a personal audience, if your grace deems it appropriate." Roth hoped that Jon would allow a funeral. Khalidorans were more worried about their souls than their lives.

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Jon listened to the young man's words but was struck with shock at his description of the war up until this point.

"Lax?..."

Jon repeated the word as if he could not have heard the truth of it. This young man, this heir to the Khalidorian throne was supposed to be different. The son, different from the father, better. He was supposed to be kinder, more understanding, just and fair. Yet if what Roth had said was true what merit could there be in that description?

"Lax?"

Jon repeated incredulously. He was angry and justly so. That which Roth saw as lax was in short nothing less than the complete and utter destruction of Jon's immediate family. The murders of both his brothers, the torture and death of his father, the rape and murder of his mother and young sister. That savagery, that brutality was anything but lax.

"How long have you been in The North? How little of this conflict have you seen if that's what you think? Do you even know what atrocities your father has committed to begin this madness? You expect me to believe you are aware of the bloodshed, the brutality that has been thrust on my family and my people when you look around at murdered children, brutalized women and families in chains and say this is lax."

Jon looked at the young man. There was an intelligence there, an intelligence that far surpassed his years. Yet there was an arrogance there also. An arrogance born of confidence and forced self reliance. Jon knew that look for it was one he once shared. Growing up Jon had always pushed himself to be independent, to rely on no one but himself. Because of that he cast aside helping hands and was often thought of as arrogant or over confident. The choices of a boy but Jon was no longer a boy, he was a man and men were held to higher standards.

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Roth didn't realize that his choice of words hurt the king so much. While the common response would be to ask forgiveness or to rephrase the statement, the boy decided to do something else. He decided to respond not with an answer, but a story.

"When I was seven my father took me on one of his campaigns to quell a rebellion in Lodricar. He assured my mother that it would only be a week of fighting before I was safe at home. However things were different from the reports when we arrived. Apparently the enemy raided dozens of villages and took them all as prisoners. Yet for some reason, despite being low on supplies, they never once tried to touch our supply routes. After my father led a night attack on an army they found the reason. The rebels had chose to eat human flesh instead of grain or animals. The spears that they carried were carved from the bones of their victims as well as their armor. Horrified my father lifted the Baffin laws until the rebellion ended."

"The war raged on for a year until Lodricar surrendered. Khalidor lost nearly a hundred thousand soldiers and the enemy lost over twice that amount. A dilemma cam up on the issue of what to do with the territory. If it was kept then these rebellions would arise frequently, yet on the other hand if it became independent then crusades would become the norm. My father and his council decided that the only way to assure that Khalidorans would stay safe from harm in that region was to completely annihilate the country. So they killed all the babes in the land and captured as many as they could. Every man, woman, and child in Lodricar was taken from their homes and dragged throughout the empire to be crucified along the roadside so that all would know not to break Khali's laws. For twelve months that happened. Four million people crucified across every major road in Khalidor, even through the winter."

Roth paused for a bit before speaking again, choosing his next words carefully. He didn't want to share that story for it still caused him stress to think of it. He had to watch those people die even when travelling to the Holy Land. However he needed to inform the king of a recent war that could be compared to this one.

"That is why I used the word lax. Since I have been here I have not seen anything that I saw in the war that I spoke of. War is tragic regardless, but it can still be maintained so that it is conducted humanely. That is why we are speaking here right now. The matter of who is at fault can come after this conflict is finished. For now we need to assure that needless cruelty is dealt on either side for the sake of both our people." He paused and raised his brow as if to ask a question. "You have proven yourself to be a strong king who is kind to his people. But there is more to being a king than just that. It also means honoring your enemies and offering respects to their beliefs. Will you be a king who is a cruel victor or a benevolent one who shows grace?"