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Dominic Adams

"Black and White are pointless terms for anyone who really wants to get something done here."

0 · 553 views · located in Blackpond

a character in “Shadows of The Forgotten”, as played by Mr_Doomed

Groups

Queen and White Knights.

Description

Gender: Male

Age: 36 (Sagacitus 21, 2520)

Rank: White Knight/Black Knight

City: Newhaven

Ability (if Enlightened): N/A

Description: Dominic is a dark skinned man which is considered very rare in Valcrest. He's tall; about 6'2". He is also rather heavy, weighing just over 200 pounds without his armour on. The weight is a healthy balance between mussel and fat although he does enjoy a hearty meal every once and a while. If he doesn't work those meals off, he is always bound to look a little more plump than usual. He has Brown hair and green eyes. His hands and feet are abnormally large as well, even for his size. Some people think he's some sort of monster when they see him, but that doesn't happen too often because he most often has his armour on.
His armour is the traditional White Knight armour. The one thing that makes it unique, besides it's size, is just how beaten up it is. It has been hit and battered so much that people have joked around calling him the walking tin can. The people who made his armour insist that he can fix it, but Dominic doesn't see any reason why it needs fixing. He likes to think that it gives him character. A lot of people of the Newhaven council think that it soiled the prestigious name of Newhaven. He doesn't care all to much about that.
He likes to keep his Black Knight armour looking perfect. He thinks that it helps make sure the public doesn't figure out the Black Knight and White Knight are the same people.
Reference photo

Personality

To explain Dominic in simple terms, one would have to think for a while. At least the people who really knew him would. For him, he is always stuck between two different groups with differing missions. With those two lives comes two personalities to go with it. You could almost call him the original alter ego. Both egos are cocky, believing that he is the best at everything he does even if he doesn't know the skill too well. He also likes to brag about his achievements and tells his over exaggerated stories to all people.
As a White Knight, he tries to keep a uptight composure and rarely acts out in rude ways unless something triggers him. He is noble and honest; chivalrous and carries himself with great valour.
As a Black Knight, he looks to keep the reputation going. He was trained under the old leader and believes that some things that Mageria has tried to adapt are ridiculous. To him when they say a Black Knight can do anything, he takes it to heart. Everyone is guilty and one day has to face their crime. If that means killing a civilian to save more important lives, then that's what he will do.
He drinks on occasion, but only about once a month when he goes out with friends and co-workers to tell stories and just have a good time. He is just like any other human being in Valcrest in that respect.

Equipment

Like described before, he has very beaten up White Knight armour and clean Black Knight armour. Other than that, there are no special features that define him from the other knights. He doesn't believe in sentimentals or material wealth in general, so he doesn't have many things that he would carry around either.
As a weapon, he will most often use a claymore, but in the most desperate of times, he does have an interesting little backup plan. Will I tell you what it is? Not yet... ;)

History

Dominic was a shy child from the moment he went to school with all the other noble children. His mother and father were some specialty advisers to the king in council that was eventually to be passed down to Dominic when he was old enough to take on the duty. Dominic never really complained about it, but wasn't all too excited for it either. Because of his shy nature he never really said anything.
While Dominic had potential to become an adviser, things didn't seem too promising as he wasn't doing well in the school. His parents couldn't understand why their child wasn't able to fulfil their expectations. They decided that it would be a good idea to put him into sword training to maybe give him more reason to do good with schooling. This backfired on them. Dominic found interest in this sort of stuff, and picked it up fast. By now it was too late, and his family estranged him, leaving him without any formal training or anything. This is when he was picked up by the former Black Knight captain who found interest in him.
He trained under the captain for several years, but the White Knight captain at the time also seemed to have caught interest in him. He is officially a White Knight, but a Black Knight as well when the goings get tough.

So begins...

Dominic Adams's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mageria Talsheir Character Portrait: Dominic Adams Character Portrait: Ess Character Portrait: Darren Hearst
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#, as written by Essence
“....Ebony....” Ess breathed, the color from her irises draining to a dull grey before flashing an iridescent violet, shadows circling her eyes. With a subtle pat, Shockwave had turned about, so that they faced the three figures directly, coming to a halt, staring long and hard from Xypher toward the haggard older woman. When Ess had heard her name called out, her form went rigged, recognizing the man’s voice yet not believing her eyes that either of them were standing before her. Ess absently glanced over the tall man in full armor, her attention focused mostly upon her old Mistress. It wasn’t possible. How was she found? Most importantly: How the hell was Ebony still alive.

“Lady Death spit you back from the bowels of hell, hmm?...Mistress...” Essence spat mockingly, her tone low, still soft as always but with an icy edge. She remembered the day the woman was found, gurgling and vomiting her last breaths...or so she thought. Ess saw the woman, wide-eyed and motionless hanging off her bed and she couldn’t understand what she did wrong. Over and over her mind retraced the steps she took in researching, preparing, and administering the poison into Ebony’s dinner. She had given more than was necessary for death, basking in the lengthy and torturing amount of time it took for the woman to pass...”...Guess I have ghosts haunting me as well, Luckas..” Ess mumbled to herself, sliding off the horse who was neighing and stamping uneasily, his head lowering as if listening to the group. Without a second thought, Ess drew her dagger and matching sword, the relic blades reflecting off the light, shining a beam across the trampled snow, a reflection of the strange markings written upon the white. Holding the blades in a relaxed position at her sides she took a step forward, noting how time and the aftermath of Ebony’s ‘illness’’ had only been fittingly cruel. The woman dressed as always, showing off the wealth she had accumulated from the slums of her business, her form pointy, the skin falling off the bones practically matching the skeletal appearance of her sunken in turquoise eyes. “Since you lost your way, I’ll be more than happy to send you in the right direction....about six feet that way..” Ess gave a short laugh, nodding towards her feet, Shockwave snorting an agreeable whinny.

Ebony lit up like the stars, clapping in her excitement. “Seems Lady Death couldn’t handle me, aye Birdie? I know....about your involvement, and Derrik and I had agreed to keep my...recovery a secret...you understand...” Ebony’s eyes narrowed, her amused expression fading as she stared at the weapons in Ess’ hands. “Those...are not yours, Pigeon....” The hag’s fingers clenched as the realization of her brother’s death came clear. “..So YOU thought you could take out our entire family....and steal from us? You still belong to me....you may believe you’ve changed..” Ebony gestured to the woman’s attire and black feathers dangling in her hair, “..prancing around like...a ...warrior? Only fooling yourself. Honestly, can’t blame you though.” Ebony’s voice hissed like a snake, “Revenge...seems rules us both...I took your family from you..and you took mine in return...”

Ess glanced from Xypher, to the man beside him, and back to Ebony, raising the blades higher at her sides. Her eyes flickered side to side, as she stepped forward thinking on the woman’s last words, not quite understanding. “You stole my ability to have a family...yes..”

Ebony suddenly laughed, interrupting Essence. “Oh! You still don’t know? How delightful....” Ebony slinked closer to Xypher and his guard as she continued, still smiling menacingly. “He didn’t die that day, Birdie...but what does it matter, hmm? You’ll always be a whore!”

Essence felt like someone had just hit her in the head, her knees shaking a bit, taking a step back as the memory came back to her. After her encounter with Luckas only earlier that day, her patience was in no mood for riddles or games. “No...you lying...bitch..”

~ 17 Years Ago, BlackPond~



“Puuush, Essence!” Jodi cried. “I can see the head, keep pushing!”

Ess was scared shitless, since she was only twelve years old and having a baby when she was still practically one herself. Living the life of a ‘working woman’ in the body of a child had not weighed lightly upon the young girl. This may have been her first child but she had been pregnant three other times and was either forced to end the pregnancy or it didn’t last through the second trimester due to the stresses of her profession. Not knowing what to do or what to expect, she did know that she wanted this one to live. The ideal of becoming a mother, even in her ignorance, gave her a new found hope that she had thought she lost over the years.

Ess gave one final push, sweat pouring down her neck, curly locs matted against her skin as her head fell back against the pillow. ‘In cleansing breath..and out...” She recited to herself as the midwife cut the cord and took the baby across the room to Ebony. Ess closed her eyes, listening to the sudden silence. “What is it? Why isn’t it crying? Is it ok?” Her eyes peeked open in tired slits as she continued to mutter questions in exhausted whispers.

The baby didn’t cry. It didn’t appear to move as Jodi began smacking it along it’s back, her eyes fluttering from Ess to Ebony with an empty look on her face. Ebony took the tiny baby from the midwife, wrapping it in a white cloth, now spotted from the after birth, and disappeared out the room with a sadistic smile curling her lips. Jodi came over to Ess, resting a hand sympathetically along her shoulder. “I’m so sorry darling...he didn’t make it.”

Ess’s eyes widened, her purple iris’ glistening as tears began leaking across her face. “He?...Where...is Ebony taking my baby...?” She whispered sadly, almost in a whine, gradually her tone growing louder as the realization that she would not be holding her baby finally seeped into her. “Where....is that BITCH taking my baby??!! Why can’t I see him?!” She began screaming and thrashing in her bed, Jodi pressed to hold her down afraid she would injure herself. When her screams and pleas faded into wails, she had managed to slip away from Jodi’s grip, falling onto the floor, her pale flesh stained with a rust like color. “Why....is she doing this to me? Jodi?!”

Jodi hugged the young girl close, gently rocking her back and forth. “Shh...now sweetie. It’ll be ok. Shhh....rest...I don’t want you bleeding out.”

“I don’t care....” Ess muttered between sobs.

Some time passed before Ess ran out of tears, her body still trembling in her despair. “Essence...what would you have named him?” Jodi whispered soothingly into her ear. “What name do we send with his soul to the Twins to watch over?”

Ess narrowed her brows as she thought through the few different names she had chosen, but that when she got to see the baby she thought one of them would speak to her. Now, she wasn’t sure what would be fitting for her son; that she had no memory of. With a sigh she muttered, “Aldwin...he could of been an Aldwin....”

~Present~

There was no warning, no hesitation. Ess didn’t even realize she was lunging at Ebony as she screamed in a hellish fury, darkened veins pulsating around her eyes as they darkened spreading out like branches across her cheekbones. “I AM NOT A WHORE! TELL ME WHERE MY SON IS?!! I’LL KILL YOU....KILL THE BOTH OF YOU!”

~~~~~~~~

RAVEN'S NEST

Darren followed the Captain, keeping in stride with Irvin, he playfully pushed back against the boy’s nudge and snickered. He couldn’t hold back his series of chuckles at the boy’s comment and simply nodded as the chuckles continued, his eyes trailing after the red head curiously. Leaning towards Irvin, his attention still in front of him he whispered, “...I dunno about trying to handle that one, buy hey, there were a couple more I saw in Jake’s head...maybe you’ll run into them here too?”

Darren didn’t realize how hungry he actually was until he began spooning the stew between his lips, a satisfied grin curling his lips. He waited til he got a few bites in before rummaging in his pack for his father’s journal, waiting for a moment to grab the Captain’s attention.“M’am? This..here was/is my father’s, which Irvin here and your man Jake was able acquire for me. Maybe you've heard of him? Asher Hearst?... I can only assure you..I am nothing like the man. I did not take over the family business...involving in his war profiteering or the people he involved himself in.” Darren took a breath, his expression serious yet his gaze was still soft, pushing the journal towards Mageria. “I know he’s involved in more than the obvious..and everything is in that book. Transactions...his own personal thoughts...and last up to date ‘inventory.’” Spooning the last of his meal into his mouth, he tilted back the bowl to drink the broth. “All of that is encoded. As you can see, each section is encoded differently and the bits I’ve started, I discovered are of his personal logs. I would be willing to share any and all information discovered within those pages in exchange for your assistance.” With a sigh, the young man absently began cracking his knuckles. “I believe I’m in well over my head...”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dominic Adams Character Portrait: Ess
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#, as written by Essence
With only a moment of hesitation, Ebony backed up. She couldn't outrun Ess while going backwards, but she was a distance enough away to allow herself a few more moments to react.
"You heard the woman, Dominic. She wishes to kill me. See to it that this doesn't happen." Xypher said, in an arrogant and obnoxious tone which made Dominic roll his eyes underneath his helmet. He drew his sword and prepared.
"It would be nice if you helped me too!" Ebony shrieked as she hit her back on a tree, ducking to the left to avoid having her face become a piece of meat to butcher.
Dominic didn't say anything, waiting still for the perfect moment. That moment came when Ess had finally ran towards Ebony enough that she had her back to Dominic. He dragged his claymore across the ground and swept it above his head, attempting to strike so he could perfectly cut the woman in half. Given the momentum of the swing, he probably could as well


Ess’ left hand held the dagger, which she thrusted hard in Ebony’s direction,since the woman dodged her sword she brought her right arm up blocking an exit. Again the hag ducked by falling to the ground and rolling away, coincidentally Ess giving chase in time to avoid the whistle of steel that slashed through the air, cutting off a stray curl the floated down towards the ground, appearing a blood like stain against the white snow. “Perfect...just perfect....Xypher you pick some interesting company I must say, course you both must have bonded over torturing children, hmm?” Ess spat over her shoulder as she kept on Ebony’s heels, the woman running full circle behind Dominic where Essence came to a screeching halt. It must of been comical to see her chasing an ‘apparent defenseless’ old woman. “Still a coward, hiding behind this one just like you would Jasper....” Stretching her arms, she flexed her wrists, the blades spinning in a fluid motion as she readied her stance but remained still, now staring up at the large knight in white armor that appeared to have seen better days. “Do you find honor in defending those who’d sit by while children are raped? What about him?” Ess pointed with the dagger in Xypher’s direction. “Do you know what that old man has done? What he did to Jason?” The darkness in Ess’ gaze lightened some so that the enlarged veins beneath her lashes didn’t appear so swollen, the glow of violet blinking in waves, sizing up the man before her. Her disadvantage was her size and minimal experience but again that was also her advantage. Again she attacked, trying to sidestep around the giant only to be blocked, her series of attacks low and quick, the shivering echo of metal against armor as the blade sparked along his greaves.


Dominic allowed for Ess to get her shots in around his armor, only adjusting his body slightly to avoid getting hit in the vulnerable spots. It was all part of the game though. It was just like a man hitting a castle wall with their bare hands. Eventually, they will look at their bleeding knuckles and accept defeat. Dominic didn't want to let that happen, but he did want to see a certain defeat in the amateur's confidence. When he had enough of the constant clamor of dagger on his armor, he swung his sword around his side--pointing down--and blocked the next attack. He saw the dagger skip across the snow. He then held his sword in one had. Reaching around his back with the other hand, he drew his dagger and pointed it at her, handle facing her. He waited for her to grab it.
"You speak of honor, but you fight with disrespect. The late Captain Morgan would have liked it. Mageria would probably chastise you for it. Trust me, I knew them both well." He dropped the dagger on the ground and walked back a couple of steps, turning around to face Essence again.
"Yeah! You fight like a bitch!" Ebony shrieked.
"Shut up before I choose to shut you up!" Dominic pointed at Ebony with his free hand. When he stopped pointing, he put his hand back onto the hilt of his sword and again started speaking to Essence again. "I'll just let you know how I fight. I fight with Morgan's style. There is no honor in killing and so no honor should be put in the moments before the killing. I instead fight with duty. My duty, as bestowed to me by her Lady, Queen Page of Newhaven, which was to protect the noble Xypher. I wont be too worried of killing that old twig over there if she gets in the way of my duty." Dominic crouched slightly and gripped his sword and stared at Ess. "Now pick up that dagger and let me see if you choose to fight with or without honor."


Essence almost ran after her dagger as it slid along the icy snow away from her, realizing she wasn’t fond of parting with it, noting the way Ebony practically licked her lips as she memorized where the strange blade went. The shadows lifted some around her eyes, fingers clenching the hilt of her sword, tilting her head curiously upon the Knight before her. Snickering at the way he shot down the annoying squeal of the woman, Ess began to loosen her stance, forcing her breathing to slow so she would regain her composure. In that moment, she had almost forgotten about Xypher, and honestly only wanted one thing: To wipe that grin off the Hag’s face. Keeping her focus upon Dominic she slowly squatted for the dagger, only to roll forward to close in on the bit of distance between them, sword and dagger crossed in defense with a piercing clang.

“Fighting, with or without honor I guess depends on one’s definition.” Essence smiled. “I truly doubt giving that pathetic excuse of a woman, a weapon, will make killing her honorable.” Ess jested, chuckling as she pushed herself to her feet, retracting her blades she spun, attempting to strike yet theirs blades collided in an expected parry. “I agree though, about not finding honor in killing....although I do find much satisfaction if well deserved.” Ess skipped back a few steps, eyeing Ebony out the corner of her eye as the woman began to circle outwards, in an attempt to obtain the fallen dagger. “Pick it up then....” She wanted answers, she wanted the woman dead and didn’t care much at the moment for Xypher per say or Dominic whom she decided she really did not want to fight.

Ebony froze, not realizing Ess was keeping such a good eye upon her. “It’s mine....” She hissed under her breath, waiting til the sound of battle continued before slinking around a tree towards the silver dagger.

Again, Ess attacked, easily blocked yet she retorted with a twist of her wrist, the hilt of the dagger rattled the side of Dominic’s helm causing perhaps slight annoyance if she was lucky. Ess spoke, her usual quiet tone stretched in pitch , addressing all in earshot. “Dare I ask...” Her brows narrowed, a tricky sneer curling her lips, dropping in height a second to avoid a broad swing of the claymore. “Why find me, if not begging to rub something into an old wound?” She paused waiting for one to answer.

Dominic found it bothersome that he had to be dragged into something like this. He wished for nothing else but to drop his sword and let the woman go at her business. It wasn't possible for him to. It wasn't the sort of thing that he would ever do without direct permission from someone who had authority over him. Given there was no one there that would ever give him that permission, he was sort of stuck. He didn't really want to kill the protégé to Mageria. Although, her fighting was rather annoying.
While Dominic continued to block the attacks of Essence, he heard Xypher reply to her question. "You think I'm rubbing something into my own wounds don't you? Well let me tell you something Essence! You have your own wounds, and the way I see it, you've opened up those wounds today. You might to check your own wounds before you start checking other's."
Dominic just rolled his eyes, and went in for his first real attack since he cut a piece of her hair off. His leg swept up, trying to knock Ess off her balance.

Essence quirked a brow in what appeared to be awe at Xypher’s words, quickly overtaken by a fit of giggles. Her breaths quickened in between chuckles, barely jumping out of the way of the leg sweep, she parried left, dragging and lifting the sword in another defensive stance, her body veering in the opposite direction of Dominic while she continued to face him. Leaning back, the relic thrusted again towards the helm, wanting to penetrate the slits with expected failure, foolishly opening her torso, knowing the second she did so she would be a second short in deflecting a kick to her mid section. The wind had been knocked clear out of her, yet she didn’t stall, rolling aside from a boot to the face, she groaned at the mocking laughter of Ebony from behind.

Clash after clash of metal on mettle as attacks were continuing to be passed between the two until he managed to ground Ess. This was his chance. He went in, putting one attack after another without restraint. He couldn't give a moment of opportunity to his opponent, even if she didn't hold the years of experience that Dominic did. With kicks, stomps, and swoops from his sword, he continued while Ess rolled out of the way. It went on until they had traveled a good way from where she had been knocked down. Finally, she stopped rolling and looked up, waiting for the next strike. Dominic was sure that she had something up here sleeve, but he continued in his predictable fashion with another attempted stomp to the face.
Essence moved out of the way, just barely and grabbed hold of Dominic's trunk of a leg. She used it to propel herself underneath Dominic to get behind him. Again, he heard the horrendous shriek of Ebony behind him and a thud. From the sound of it, she was attempting to come up to join Dominic in his attack, but had gotten kicked while Essence propelled herself instead. Before Dominic could turn around, he felt a sharp kick to the back of his knee, which forced him to fall onto his knees. He didn't stop his fight though. He pivoted on his knees, and threw a punch.

After Ess had knocked Dominic to his knees, Ebony, who had retrieved the silver dagger from the ground, made an attempt to stab Essence at the base of her neck. Using the older woman’s weak strength, Ess pulled the woman into her and was about to headbutt her when Dominic’s fist knocked first into Ebony, who was between Ess and the knight and then comically into the side of Ess’ right cheek bone. Both women landed hard on the ground, Ess silent and already recovering to her feet, while Ebony simply whined upon the ground, having dropped the dagger and was cradling her skull. Ess wobbled a second, before she ran straight at Dominic, stepping hard on the fallen Ebony for an extra ‘bounce’ in her step, her right arm holding the sword was in an outward crossing defence while her dagger hand moved an upward punch back into the knight’s helm, in an attempt to knock it from his shoulders.


Dominic didn't get up after he threw his punch. He waited to see what would come next from his opponent. She had her sword held defensively, meaning that it wouldn't be much of a threat towards him. Her other hand however, was obviously more free. Maybe she was anticipating for him to react to the punch so she could position her sword for a well placed attack, but Dominic had taken enough punches to the face to know that although, he was going to be slightly phased from the hit, he would still be in good enough shape to protect himself. It would be especially so as he honestly believed that she wasn't planning on actually connecting on such an obvious punch. As it flew up, Dominic used the hand he wasn't holding his sword with to pretend he was attempting to block the attack. Instead, he placed his palm up against the back of Essence's sword. When he heard the ringing in his ears and as his helmet fell off, he pushed the sword towards Ess, hitting her right in the stomach and pushing her back a couple of feet.
Dominic cracked his tense neck from one side to the other and moved in quickly to grab Ess off the ground. He swung her around like a rag doll and placed her in a one handed choke hold while resting his other arm by lowering his sword, letting the tip drag back and forth along the ground as he breathed heavily. "Stop right there! Don't kill her yet!" He heard Xypher yell and so Dominic loosened his grip a little.
"Mageria still had a lot to teach ya. Too bad..." Dominic said, deciding not to finish his sentence as he saw Xypher appear from the corner of his eye. He had his own dagger in his hand and as he placed himself center to Ess, he gripped the dagger tight.
"You really are something Essence! I'm going to be excited to kill you!" Xypher said.
Ebony's ever annoying shriek rang out through the forest again. "We had a deal! Now I'll kill you if you lay a finger on her!" She started approaching Xypher with a dagger which she raised up above her head as she approached Xypher.
Dominic, who wasn't really in any position to protect Xypher raised his sword towards Ebony as a way to intimidate her, but it didn't work and she continued to approach. "Trust me, you witch, I will kill Essence right now and then come after you next if you take another step towards Xypher!" Essence, struggled to break free from Dominic's grip, so he flexed his muscles and tightened his grip a little to make her feel a little light headed. After a few seconds, her struggles became weaker. It was a clear indicator that she wasn't getting blood to her head. He loosened his grip again before she blacked out.
"Thank you Dominic." Xypher said. "Now Essence. You seem to have your own form of justice. You believe that you should be allowed to kill the people who wronged you or your friends. That is why you tried to kill both Ebony and I. Well I guess in a way, you wronged the both of us too. Ebony grew ill from the attempt you made, which caused her business to tank. She struggled for money for years after you tried to kill her. For me, you almost killed me. You gave me an illness of the brain and cost me a chance to dethrone the Queen, ever!"
Hearing what Xypher said, Dominic dropped Ess, not too worried as to how she fell. He did however place his sword to her neck so she wouldn't try anything funny. "I no longer have any business with you Ess. Xypher on the other hand... you are under arrest for conspiracy against the throne."
"Don't be ridiculousness! I own you!" Xypher yelled.
"My alliance belongs to the Queen. You are just a power hungry rat." Dominic walked in front of the small old man and knocked him right out with a single punch. He then lifted him up and placed him on his shoulder. "Good luck to you Ess, and watch out for Ebony." He said and walked off towards Newhaven, but not before picking his helmet up.

Ess had been clinging onto Dominic’s massive arm, using her arms to keep her body weight balanced, lessening the pain and strain of her neck. In an attempt to keep her eyes open she was focusing upon the Knight’s green orbs, legs kicking freely until Xypher foolishly spoke his mind and Ess fell upon her knees. Trying to catch her breath amidst a series of coughs, her voice was raspy and almost inaudible, yet she still smiled even when Dominic held the sword to her throat. “..Knew......it.” She gasped, shaking her head when Xypher tried to claim Dominic as a possession. “No one....has the right to OWN another...” Pushing herself to her feet when Dominic had socked Xypher in the face, she picked up and sheathed her sword, eyes locking upon Ebony who had decided at this point she was screwed and was making a foolish attempt for Shockwave. Ess took her time, slowly following the woman with a venomous stare, while addressing Dominic. “Thanks.....friend....”Absently rubbing at her throat she muttered, “No...hard feelings....thanks for the lesson.”

She was giggling between coughs, her lungs no longer screaming for air, yet her giggles erupted into laughter, her stomach aching when she almost doubled over in amusement. Shockwave was having a bit of his own fun. When Ebony was close enough he would rear up enough to startle her and trot away, closer to Ess, the older woman griping and complaining as she tried to grab onto the stallion. Again, the horse paused, this time letting Ebony start to climb up onto his back, only to take off into a canter, Ebony half hanging off the horse so she was dragged along the icy snow before falling to the ground. Ess stopped her laughter when she spotted her dagger nestled within a messy bun of salt and pepper hair. She appeared behind the woman as she stood, instantly retrieving her dagger, the blade slicing off a layer of hair is it left Ebony’s skull. Ebony only screamed and began to run, shouting in mockery. “Your son probably doesn’t want anything to do with you! No one wants a whore for a mother!”

Ess smiled again, a dim glow growing within her irises, acting as if she ignored the hag’s words, she simply shouted. “I’ll give you a two minute head start, and then I’m coming for your head!”

The setting changes from valcrest to Blackpond

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Evin Bana Character Portrait: Dominic Adams Character Portrait: Lamya Character Portrait: Ella Page Character Portrait: Alexander
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Some would find it crazy, others, just plain stupid. Leaving a woman all alone in the most dangerous place inhabited in Valcrest while she was being threatened by an insanely rich, insane woman. Most people would like to stay with that threatened person no matter what if they were supposed to protect them. The only thing was that Evin had already sent her to the party. She was one of the first of the guests to arrive. Evin had nothing to worry about. If there were Wolves at the party, Evin suspected that they would be a little cautious before making their move. It would just seem too easy.
The reason that Evin left was because he wanted to go wait for Crystal. He didn’t want to waste time at a stupid and annoying party that was bound to be filled with hellish thoughts and hellish people who would be willing to act on those thoughts. He didn’t want to wait for Crystal there. It wouldn’t be nearly as fun as waiting all alone with his own thoughts would be. Of course, he wasn’t going to allow his presence to be known to Crystal right away. He wasn’t even sure if she would visit where he was waiting for her, but he expected that she might be compelled to go just for nostalgia’s sake.
He perched himself on the top of a roof near the building he was waiting at. It was the building that he recalled as the place that Crystal’s father died. What a great man he was, and to think that he would be killed so heartlessly, by Perry of all people. In that moment, the fate of the Wolfpack and the rest of Valcrest was sealed. Without that moment, it would be very unclear to foretell the events that transpired after. There would be far less motivation to go looking for the False King. Theron might not have been as motivated to join the Wolfpack and the Wolves might have actually gone into a regression as they might have been too afraid to re-enter Newhaven for a while without some sort of excuse. It was a sad thought, but not even Dani would have had the courage to face off against Newhaven without merit. From experience, Evin knew how much of a threat Newhaven was to the Wolves. With the state that Newhaven was in at the moment however, the Wolfpack could easily take down the entire infrastructure of the city if they wished to and after that, Blackpond would probably easily do the rest if they really wanted to.
Perched just out of sight, Evin watched as Crystal walked up to the old Wolfpack Inn. Just as he had expected. The attraction to places with bitter histories always seemed to be too much for most people in Valcrest to handle. She stood there, probably having similar thoughts to Evin’s about that night and how things changed because of it. About her life the way it is was now and finally, about her father. The great man with a million great and insightful thoughts.
He forgot the reason he had been waiting for Crystal in the first place. His thoughts of Bastian had distracted him for a moment. Obviously that moment was just one brief moment too long. He saw Dastan walk up behind him just as he was about to exit from his perch. While it wasn’t the worst thing in the world that Dastan was there, he rather he had a chance to talk to Crystal in private. Crystal to him was his confidant. She was someone who he could share anything with. That absolute trust in her and her decisions is what allowed her to talk openly to her. It didn’t matter if it was a negative or a positive; she would listen and would only tell those who needed to know as to the matters which he discussed with her. It was much like the constant trust that everyone could have in Time. No matter how much someone could attempt to change things, Time would continue, unwrinkled and pure. Nothing could contaminate the trust that people had in mind. Dastan, to Evin was more like water. He couldn’t exactly do go on without him, but is easy to contaminate. He didn’t want to discuss anything with Dastan nearby.
He continued to watch Crystal and Dastan until the two of them were gone. For about ten minutes after, he got off from his perch and made his way to the party.
At the entrance to the castle, there were six guards right at the door to welcome him in. On each side of the wide path that lead to the door, there were about five or six guards at attention. To any untrained eye, that would be all that anyone would see. This was a mistake. At the lowest windows and the lower two towers that protected the entrance, there were several men trying their best to be out of sight while still being ready to shoot their crossbows at anyone who even tried to enter. Even harder for the eye to catch, several hundred feet, directly above him at the top of the castle were just more archers ready to air their crossbows directly down on anyone who would try something funny. Finally, there were the true shadows of this party. Those were the shadows of what he could only imagine were the group that was known as the Shadow’s Conflict. Ten people who believed that they could hide themselves in plain sight. They were very skilled in the art of blending. Behind the stationary guards, in with some of the groups enjoying fresh air before entering the party, there was even one that was so perfectly still that only the blinking of his eyes is what tipped Evin off to the fact that he was standing there. The most deadly part about these assassins was that he knew that the moment they decided to come into the party, they will not be recognizable at all. People who were this skilled at blending in, that the moment they blended into the party, it would be nearly impossible to discern them from a regular guest. Evin was certain that they would bring him a good show when the actual party got started.
Evin gave a quick wave to the one who had blinked to let the rest know that he meant business and he wasn’t going to allow himself to be tricked by any simple mind game that they would plan to dish out at this party. He would be cautious, as they were capable of almost killing Crystal, but he wanted to show them that he had gained the first edge on them and not the other way around like they had expected would happen. He instantly saw the heads of the nine other assassins look his way when this happened. Evin then looked at each individual one of them. He placed his finger on his temple and tapped it a couple of times in a gesture of knowledge. Evin instantly regretted this decision. The assassins didn’t do anything, but he knew that by being so cocky, he was putting a huge target on his back.
He continued his walk down the path until he reached the six guards that were there to welcome him in. Shaking one of their hands, he spoke, “I’m so happy to have been invited to this party. I know you didn’t do it personally, but I’m still glad and would like to show my appreciation. Now I understand that there are no weapons checks here as I’ve seen a couple before me who weren’t even checked for weapons. You guys are so considerate, you know that. Thank you.”
Little did any of the guards know, but while shaking the man’s hand, he had grabbed the guard’s war axe as well as the holster for said weapon from right off his body.
This is when he moved himself into the party. It was the most beautiful of ballrooms… filled with hundreds of people. “Oh what fun!” Evin sarcastically exclaimed as he dipped himself into the fountain of madness that was going to be this party.

------

Alexander stood himself just in sight of the castle. His hired swords, the ones he had left, were walking their way along the road just ahead of him. He was a little nervous to go to this thing, but he knew it had to be done. If he wanted to bring Blackpond back to its former glory and possibly put a peaceful ending to this war, then he would. Damn it Grim, he thought as he continued thinking about the possibilities if everything was to work out.
“Hey, Alexander, what’s up?” One of the hired swords said, seeing that Alexander was sitting still.
Alexander jumped out of his thought to respond. “Oh, yes nothing. Just thinking.” He started walking again. “Now men. The odds are that the entrance to the Ball will be heavily fortified. Don’t act suspicious as you walk through the guards. Just act as if you are like any other party guest, but carrying a sword out in the open. When you get to the door, they will probably ask you to relinquish your weapons. At this point, it will be pretty easy to force our way into the door. After that, we target the red-head. I created it, so I will destroy it. The Shadow’s Conflict will suffocate under our feet as we re-take control of Blackpond.”
The two men and woman nodded in unison and fell into silence as they got close to the door. Alexander looked at every guard individually as he walked up the path. The whole idea of acting nonchalant about things wasn’t really working out for him. For the first time in over twenty years, the idea of fighting made him nervous. His heart pounded ten times faster until he reached the door, where six guards were there to welcome him. His heart stopped and he found it nearly impossible to catch his breath. It was like the feeling that he felt when he heard the sound of war drums out in the distance. At this moment, the hired swords looked just about ready to draw their weapons to attempt what Alexander only imagined would be a historic moment. Something that, whether it worked out or not didn’t really matter. Historians would still have some interesting things to write about. In a moment where everyone who is anyone in Valcrest sat themselves in one room for festivities, a small revolt was under way.
Alexander reached for his sword, but was stopped when one of the guards said. “What are you’s doing? This is an open invitation party. You can enter you know.”
The four looked around at each other with confused eyes. There was something wrong here. Why would anyone ever allow so many angry people into one room with swords when there was just so much conflict in Valcrest? The four revolutionaries passed through the doors and into the Ballroom. It was just as Alexander remembered, just with more people.
“Ok men, we will keep a low profile from now until we find the right opportunity. Know our enemies, they already know that we’re here and what we are here for so there is no need for surprise. Enjoy the night for now and we will attack when opportunity arises.”

-----

The instant that Ella’s parade made it within a mile of Blackpond, the news had already made it around that the Queen of Newhaven was actually personally visiting Blackpond. This was the first time that royalty had visited Blackpond personally since her father, from what she could remember. It was very important to the city of Blackpond. Despite the fact that these people were her enemy, she understood the needs of the people. When something exciting happened to them that didn’t involve a public maiming or some random rape, it brought joy to the citizens. The city’s dark and menacing demeanour brightened up for a change as the parade followed through.
“Dominic!” Ella called from her closed carriage.
The carriage continued on at the same pace and in a couple of seconds, then the door opened. The large White Knight took a few quick steps until he jumped into the moving compartment. Dominic, had to crouch as to not hit the roof, his head barely fitting as he sat down. The behemoth of a man then said, “What do you need?”
“I have a request for you Dominic. While you may not agree with it, I want you to wear this.” She hunched over to reach down to the floor and grab a handle. “Could you please move your feet?” She asked. When Dominic moved his feet, she opened the small compartment under the floor.
Dominic looked at what was in the compartment and just shook his head. “I don’t think that this is a good idea. If the council finds out, and trust me, they will—”
“I don’t really care what they think of it. I actually want them to know. I want the council and Blackpond to know that my loyalties are still strong, despite what it may seem.”
“There are other, more subtle ways to do this m’lady.” Dominic frowned.
“Just put it on.”

The trumpeters serenaded the party goes with their melody to signify the entrance of the Queen. Each note a beautiful representation of the delicate, yet demanding nature of Newhaven’s flower. Then the promenade; the grand march into the room was what made Ella the most important person in the room. It was true too. She was the attention to everyone’s eyes.
Ella’s had on a champagne pink, A-line dress with a flared skirt, puffed out by heaps of crinoline. The same crinoline material was used to accentuate the sweetheart neckline. The main focus of the dress was the rose however. It was a real pink rose with leaves still attached to create a slight green accent. It was placed right between her skirt and the corset, which had a seem down the middle and curved around her waist so the skirt came up further around the sides. She was absolutely stunning and clearly the best dressed as well, but when you are one of the best off people in Valcrest, it was simple to look better than other people in the room.
Behind her was something that put an aura of pure shock around the people who had come from Newhaven to the party. A black Knight stood tall and proud, seemingly there to protect the Queen with all the dishonor that came with the attire.
“Ella!” A voice echoed from the top of the staircase. “Pleasant for you to join.” It was the woman. The red haired woman who had visited the Castle from Blackpond the weeks before winter. “Now we can start our party.” The woman was accompanied by four other people right behind her. One of them was definitely working with something as his eyes began to glow. A fire started to build right around him. Then, a glow from a second person. This person wasn’t as visible as the other four who accompanied this woman. The glow of this person’s eyes came from an unlit balcony just above the woman and the four men. The fire moved from the man to the door behind Ella. It let out a large amount of heat, enough that the medal doors that Ella had just entered through started to melt. When the fire was gone, they could see that the fire melted the metal to create an airtight seal around the door. “My name is Lamya, and I’m your host for the evening.” Two of the other men’s eyes lit up, and again the balcony man’s eyes lit up as well. Water moved in every which direction to every exit in the entire ballroom. Then an incredible cool air blasted through the room, cooling the water right down until every entrance was covered in a layer of ice so thick that it would be impossible to break through. “As you can all tell, this is a historic night with so many figureheads of Valcrest in one room. I don’t even know how things are supposed to work out. With the amounts of conflict between all these figureheads, I can’t exactly tell how long it will take for things to get out of hand. Well, we are probably stuck here all night with the ice storm blocking us in and all. Enjoy the evening. Carry on.” She said with a smile before walking up the stairs into the balcony area above to blend with the crowds.
That moment after she stopped talking was when the commotion started. The festivities of the party that seemed to have been happening before from Ella’s point of view all stopped. There was a quiet but panicked chatter that buzzed through the room.
“Dominic, get the string quartet to continue with the music. I’m not going to let Blackpond ruin what should be a perfectly good evening. We can’t get out yet, but we might as well enjoy the time that we’re stuck here. Conrad, come with me.”
Dominic went off and Ella walked to the center of the room with Conrad. She placed her one hand on his shoulder and the other in his other hand. When the quartet started playing again, she danced. She hoped that this would calm the crowd down a little.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mageria Talsheir Character Portrait: Dominic Adams Character Portrait: Ella Page Character Portrait: Sean Fletcher
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When the strobbing effect started, Mageria had dropped back half a pace, closing her eyes to avoid being dazzled out of instinct.
"The Council's forgotten about me huh? Maybe I'll have to come back and visit then. Like, when we get out of this bloody mess?" She neatly kicked a nearby combatant in the gut when he swung towards them, taking him out of the fight without killing him. She was about to say something else when Dominic landed beside her and took up a flanking position. Evidently he also decided that they weren't safe enough where they were, and went to grab Ella and take her to a more secure position. At least that's what Mageria assumed was supposed to happen; however he made the mistake of grabbing her arm instead and pulling her away. Mageria actually restrained herself from gutting the man by the barest of margins and only because she knew who he was. She didn't even bother with responding when he finally realize his mistake, mostly because she had been occupied with twisting around to try and keep Ella in sight. Years of battlefields had served her well; that and knowing what crazy idea was most likely to slip into her liege's head next.

"This way." She grunted, slipping between the individual fighters like a fish through water. She was headed, not to where Ella had been, but to where she was most likely to be headed. Which would be the Alpha of the Wolfpack, Sean. And there the little lunatic was, headed towards the man and slipping a small dagger out of her sleeve.

"Majesty!" Mageria just knew she was really going to regret this. With one hand she reached out and firmly grabbed the back of Ella's gown, pulling her backwards and out of the way. "Not the time or the place!" Mageria spun slightly, placing herself between the two of them. Times like this she really missed her old armor. There was a roughly equal chance that either of them was going to do their best to gut her in the next instant.

The setting changes from blackpond to Newhaven

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Evin Bana Character Portrait: Dominic Adams Character Portrait: Lamya Character Portrait: Sean Fletcher
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Simon could easily get to Rick himself, but respecting the will of Newhaven, while not necessarily simpler, was tremendously more beneficial. This pact with Newhaven gave Simon added protection from the people who may wish to stop him. It also meant that Newhaven would have to try a lot harder if they wanted to be one of those people who wanted to stop him. As f they even knew what he was doing though. The number of people who even knew of what Simon was after was so insanely minimal that the fact alone made protection that much more important.
“They didn't tell me much about you.” Dominic, the White Knight said. “Think they thought it'd be fun for me to figure it out myself. Not fun if ya ask me.”
The two continued to walk through the courtyard and around to the back of the castle. Despite Dominic's attempt at conversation, Simon didn't speak. He wasn't as up to the conversation as the White Knight. Yet he continued.
“You know, when I first became a White Knight, I thought I'd be understanding a lot more of the things that go on in this city. It has more than enough surprises. I probably understand less now than when I was infantry. Though, I didn't have the job for very long. It wasn't soon after that that I was taken in by the Knights and taught their ways...” Dominic stopped to mull over a thought. “Not much is different between the Knights training and all other training. We're a little more specialized and put more hours into the work we do, but overall, I guess, its just a matter of talent. You either have what it takes, or you don't and if you don't, it isn't really your fault. Well, maybe it is.”
Dominic stopped, Simon stopping right behind him. The Knight turned around. He lifted his helmet and looked down at Simon. His vacant stare read like a story about a questionable reality. “You don't like to talk?” That was it? The face of a thousand questions, confused about a simple observation? It was no wonder that he went on about the little he understands. “If I'm going to have to follow you around for the next few days I expect to at least be graced with a small conversation from time to time.”
Simon rolled his eyes and opened his mouth as if to say something. He raised his hand inquisitively, but quickly shot it back down and closed his mouth before letting any bit of air escape. As if he could actually say anything to Dominic anyway. Being telepathic mute had its advantages. Being able to play pranks like this was one of them.
Dominic shut his helmet with a loud clanking and turned away from Simon to continue the walk towards the dungeons. “That's alright. If you don't want a conversation, you'll just have to deal with me speaking to ya all day. Where was I?” He continued. “Oh right. Training isn't all that diff—”
“By the Twins, I'll speak with you if you promise to shut up after!” Simon exclaimed.
Dominic stopped in his tracks. Simon knew why. The man of confusion was confused once more. This time, however, it was for a fairly good reason.
Simon said, “I'm a telepath. I don't speak because I can't speak. I was born without vocal cords. Now quit mulling over this discovery of yours and bring me to the dungeons. I'll talk to you along the way.”
“Interesting. Never stops being amazing, the things you see on this job.” Dominic spoke.
“You do realize that you don't actually have to say things aloud. You can speak to me in complete private through thought.”
“I'll speak aloud. I'd prefer it that way.”
“Suit yourself... what do you ant to talk about?”
“I don't know. Got any ideas?”
Simon cuffed his shoes as he walked along the cobblestone. “I wasn't the one who wanted a conversation.” He remarked.
“That's alright. I can keep talking to myself if you've got nothing.”
“No!” Simon quickly jumped in. “No! Please”
He looked around the path to give himself inspiration. The dungeon was a little ways away from the far side of the castle. It was a part of the city that had seen better days, but had also managed to avoid poverty. This made for an interesting little dynamic. Being close to the castle, it was pretty well kept and beautified. A privilege that few part of the city probably had. Its people, weren't as well kept. They were nothing like the slime of the earth either. The people's mostly wore things in the brown ad grey hues, with a few more fortunate adding simple colours such as red sashes or green-feathered hats. Nothing extravagant, but rather, humble.
“I've got a question for you.” Simon finally said. “You've got a duty to uphold as a White Knight to remain lawful. Surely, like all good men, you lose your way sometimes. What's the worst thing you've done as a White Knight?”
“As a White Knight?” Dominic chuckled. “I'll tell you right now that I follow the duties assigned to me by Newhaven perfectly.”
“No one is perfect.”
“I'm not calling all my actions perfect, but as a White Knight, I do my job properly.”
“Don't play games with me.”
“Do you want the truth. Not that observant I guess. When I walked into Thomas' office, I was wearing my Black Knight armour. Guess you never saw me change.”
“So the White Knights are Black Knights in disguise?”
“No. Just me. Both the White and Black Knights saw interest in me for the job and they didn't want to fight over me. They just decided that it would be useful to have an ambassador of sorts. The two roles have never been useful though... Now, as a Black Knight, I've done things that are questionable, but not beyond my call of duty.”
“By the Twins, you are annoying. Just tell me what in the hell are you least proud of?”
“Killing children. Only had to a few times, but never gets easy.” Dominic stopped. They were at the entrance of the dungeon. “Now hold on a second. I've got to speak to the porters.”
Dominic motioned with a hand to for Simon to keep put. He then walked away towards the porter to speak with them. In the meantime, Simon had a chance to reflect on what he was just told. A knight that was both Black and White. It almost defeated the purpose of his White Knight title all together. And what actual purpose could a “Double” Knight actually serve. No matter what, if the need arose for a Black Knight while in a White Knight uniform, Dominic would still have to change into his Black Knight armour or risk spoiling the image of the squeaky clean White Knights. Maybe, however there was an administrative purpose or someone was too frugal to want to have to pay for ten Knights and opted for a loophole that would allow them t pay for only nine. Maybe it was the doing of the False King as a way to weaken the infrastructure of Newhaven's front line of defence against its enemies; namely, himself. Although, that possibility was only really viable if Dominic had joined the Knights during the False King's Reign. There were so many possibilities that it was almost pointless to mull over every single one of them.
Simon looked around at the place. It was a door built right into the ground. A little rocky cliff that had been reimagined. It was probably a cave before and was just expanded upon. There was nothing near it, save a few shops farther down the road. The reason for that was probably how cold, damp and musty it was. He wasn't even in the dungeon yet, but the entrance almost radiated its reluctance to welcome people near it as if it were a warning to people. Whether it was intentional or not, it was very effective.
“Come.” Dominic spoke from the entrance. The large, iron caste door had been opened and the two guards standing at the watch moved aside to let them through.
They stepped through the doors, which were quickly shut behind them. “If anything remotely bad happens down here while we're under, we might be stuck here for a while. Be prepared.” Dominic said as they passed though the first corridor. “Seeing as you are being supervised by a Knight while you stay in Newhaven, I reckon that you aren't so perfect either. You must've done some things that's made a reputation of yourself.”
“I've got a story for you, but don't be alarmed by how I tell it to you. Being telepathic has its advantages when it comes to telling stories. You'll be able to see it exactly as I remember it as if it were your own memory.”
In an instant, Simon started to plant the memories into Dominic's head.

-----

Blackpond- Eight years ago

Alone, Simon sat at the base of a large rock. From what he'd been told, the rock had been there for several hundred years. It had been moved from a battlefield and into the castle on orders of one of the many kings that he had neglected to study. Legend had it that a great enlightened man sat on the rock, much like Simon was and killed an entire army using just his mind. He had made heads explode, made caused people to kill themselves instead of suffer the mental torture that they were experiencing. Some even became convinced to murder their fellow men.
It was all exaggerated tales though, and Simon knew that. There was never an enlightened man that powerful. If there ever was, one of the two cities would no longer exist and Valcrest would be under one ruler. Never the less, stories had to come from somewhere and that meant that there was someone, once with rather impressive amounts of enlightenment that were later embellished on to encourage the troops. To give them something to aspire to.
“What are you doing?” A voice said. It shocked him and he looked around. He couldn't see anyone. He couldn't even pinpoint the voice. “What are you doing?” It said again. This time, however, he realized it wasn't a voice, but a thought. “You don't actually believe those stupid stories, do you?”
Simon ignored the thought. Ever since discovering his enlightenment, he never used it to speak with other people. He had lived his entire life before without ever being able to speak. He didn't see the need to speak to anyone still.
“I understand. Poor Simon was so hard done by without a voice and doesn't want to speak, even to another telepath. For the Twins, I'm speaking your damn language and you wont even speak with me! Don't say I didn't at least try to help you hone your skills. You'll end up like all the rest of them. Your useless without your enlightenment.”
“So you think.” Simon finally replied.
“And finally, I prove that Simon actually has intelligent thoughts. Everyone always thought that you were like a dog. We could tell that you understood us, but couldn't tell if you were just doing tricks for us. But finally—”
“Have you ever considered finding a hobby?”
“Observing humans in their natural state is hobby enough for me. All he other guys like to pretend to be animals and play games around that. I don't get the fascination with simple animals and the way they act. Humans are far more interesting.”
“Its all about wish fulfilment you dumbass.”
“Ah, it knows how to swear.”
“Fuck off.”
“You know, with only 30 of us left, you might want to start making friends.”
“I said fuck off!”
“Ok! ok.” Suddenly, Simon could hear where the voice was coming from. He looked over to pinpoint the voice and noticed it was coming from the next room over. “I was just trying to help.”
As he listened to the footsteps go on, he grimaced. Some help that was. Insulting Simon and then telling him what was wrong with him. For someone who claimed to 'know' how humans worked, he had little sense on how to actually apply his theories.
Ural was one of the several kids who had been picked to be in the Royal Assassin Program. Like Simon, he had the gift of Mind and as always, Ural felt superior to Simon. It wasn't hard to feel superior to a mute, but Ural always liked to push it to the next level. Out of all the kids, Ural was the most pushy and annoying. Never leaving him alone, even before they were aged enough to be enlightened.
“You should kill him.” Another voice. A girl. “Or don't. It doesn't really matter, but if it matters to you, I think you should kill him.”
Simon jumped off the rock and looked around the room. Around him was a plethora of different mythical objects. Claims of magic and unbelievable abilities from armours, chandeliers, cloths and objects. It was the hall of phantasm. Again, he couldn't find the voice. This time, however, he new it was a voice. He walked towards where he thought it was though. As he walked, he covered his eyes as the twinkling glare from the sun passed through the chandelier.
Instead of looking for the person, he pinpointed he thought. “If you don't think it matters then why even give the advice.”
“I'm not giving advice. I'm just telling you what you should do. I'm just evaluating your values and telling you what the best course of action given those values are.”
“That sounds like advice to me.” Simon turned around to the other end of the room. That was where the voice was really coming from.
“Call it what you will. I'll call it what I will. Thought that someone knowing more than you could be helpful is all.” The voice emerged fro behind a cabinet, only a foot away from him. She sounded so much further away.
Simon blinked and cocked his head backwards as if he's just been spritzed with water. He placed one foot behind him, but didn't follow through and back away. Instead, he crossed his eyes to look into hers. Their breath just reaching one another to be shared. “Lamya. Uh... hi. How are you?”
“A telepath stuttering. Interesting. Anyways, I was spending my free time listening in on the conversations of Rory and Hastings. Turns out they're cutting you... your throat that is. That's what they do with the kids that don't make it, you know. They don't want anyone to know about the program, you know.”
“I uhh... wait! Why me?”
“There are two telepaths. They only need one.”
“They picked Ural then? It figures that they'd pick that degenerate.”
“You do nothing to prove yourself to them. At least, that's what they say.” Lamya winked.
Simon ignored the word and just looked at Lamya, really looked at her. Her face was a calm lake that washed across her smooth almond skin. With Hazel eyes looking to him; long dark eyelashes waving at him with every blink. The dark lips that exhaled a candy aroma as if she'd just eaten something sweet. All of which was framed by her red hair. Along with her curvaceous body, which he dare not glance at for more than a second, she seemed perfect.
He put his escaping foot back under him and grabbed Lamya's waist. Simon leaned in and closed his eyes. A warm fleshy stick stopped him. Confused, he opened his eyes and crossed them to the point of strain to see Lamya's finger reaching above the horizon of the view of Simon's nose. He then looked up at Lamya, who was closer to him than ever before. Even up close, her features were perfect. Simon heard a ting and then a whistle as something flashed past the corner of his vision.
Lamya looked over to her free hand. Simon followed her gaze to see she had flipped a coin.
“I would love to Simon, but luck isn't on my side today.” She said in a tone longing to defy the coin's decision. She removed her finger away from his mouth as Simon backed away a step to be at a more comfortable distance.
“Is this why you warned me? Because you have feelings for me?” Simon said softly.
“No. I flipped a coin and it made the choice to tell you for me. Do what you will with what I said.” Lamya kissed her index and middle finger and placed it on Simon's lips and then ran off to the room opposite her.
Simon felt a sudden rush. He felt light and overwhelmingly happy. His face heated up and he let out a large sigh. Then he quickly looked around to see if there was anyone else in the room with him. He didn't want anyone to know about what had just happened.
Simon then went to the next room over, where Ural had been talking to him from. Whether it was from a coin flip or not didn't matter to Simon. His life was safe only if Ural was dead. They saw him as the better asset to the Conflict and therefore, he had to be eliminated. Soon, Simon would be the only choice and it would guarantee him a chance at being one of the chosen fifteen.
Through the next few halls, Simon looked inside every room to see if Ural was there. Eventually, he was lead to the hall of the castle where the potential assassins' bed quarters were. A hall full of fifty rooms that was once cramped with hundreds of kids. Now, only left with thirty, the halls were much quieter and now that there were so few, there was a room for everyone. Ural's room was the second on the left, marked by his favourite coat sitting on the coat rack outside the room.
Simon stepped into the room. He was caught by a stale stench as he walked in the room. Scrunching his nose, he tried not to think about it. At initial look, it didn't appear as if he was there, but he heard a sniffle and looked closer. He walked further into the room and saw Ural under his desk. Rotting food—likely the cause of the smell—, papers, quills, books and other such items were scattered about the floor. One such item: an ornate letter opener.
He picked the letter opener up. It was ivory with a stained sandalwood handle that had been carved out to look like a person's head. It was so detailed that the scars and each individual hair could be made out. An impressive work of art finer than anything that he had ever seen before. Not even the King had such beautiful art made for him.
Simon felt that the letter opener would be as good as any weapon. Better than most improvised weapons too. It was practically a blade. He gripped it as best he could and approached the desk, but heard a loud snort and stopped. Looking down under the desk, he noticed that Ural was crying. He didn't even notice that Simon was in the room with him.
'You idiot, just end whatever misery he's feeling and get this over with.' He thought to himself. He gripped the blade even tighter and took another step forward. Despite his desire to slip under the desk and plunge the letter opener through his heart, his body compelled him to sit atop the desk. 'Your so weak.'
“What's up? Why are you crying?” Simon asked.
“I don't want to talk Simon.”
“Just let me know.”
“How about you follow your own advice and fuck off!” Ural blurted.
Simon thought about it for a moment. 'Fuck off or kill the poor guy. It's that simple.' “I'm just taking your advice and trying to make friends.” 'Now you're lying to the man your going to kill. Great.”
For a moment, Ural was silent, but he soon said, “Fine. If you really need to know, I'm crying about my parents.”
“I get it. We all had to kill our parents. But it was kill or be killed.” Simon said remorsefully.
“It's not only that, Simon. It's about the life I could have had. The life I left behind was so much better. I come from out of Valcrest. My Father was the High King of Terra and my mother, the Duchess of the three cities Duchy in the Kingdom of the Crescent Islands. I, as their child, was a symbol of their trade alliance and Heir to the Empire of Terra. My life could have been that, but now I'm destined to be a glorified sell-sword.”
“Wow.” Simon said. “I can't even imagine. My parents were abusive slummers.”
“Do you know how hard it is to kill a High King and Queen-Duchess? Even when they are your own parents, it isn't that easy to assure that you will escape with your own life. It doesn't help that most of the time, they are on two sides of the continent. After being gone for several years, they'd thought I was dead. When I returned, the entire Empire celebrated. Even dignitaries from the Three Cities came to send their regards. It was such a big deal. Little did they all know, I'd just returned to betray every last one of them.”
Simon had to hold back tears of his own. He couldn't handle how sad his story was. How guilty the guy felt for what he had done and what could have been. It was truly heartbreaking.
“When I finally brought myself to do the deed, I went up to their room and quickly finished them in their sleep. I broke down almost instantly, but knew I had to get out of there before anyone found out. I had to leave for Valcrest immediately. The only thing I took with me was the clothes on my back and my father's letter opener. It's on the ground somewhere if you want to look at it. Do ya see it?”
Simon looked down at the High King's letter opener. He loosened his grip after realizing he'd nearly been crushing the head. “Yeah... I see it.”
“The face on it is my father. I'll always remember what he looked like. So relaxed, so stoic, even in his sleep, the moments before I murdered him, he looked like that. A blessing and a curse, that letter opener is.”
Simon's eyes were damp. He placed the letter opener on the desk, gently. 'Simon, you sympathetic bastard! Just do it! It's him or it's you.'
“How about you come out from under the desk?” Simon said. Ural did as Simon asked. Slowly he emerged from the desk. Looking at Simon with his swollen brown eyes. “How does some fresh air sound?”
“That sounds good.” Ural said.
Simon grabbed Ural's hand and lead it towards the door. On the short walk to the door, he thought about what he had to do. How could he do it? Take a life of someone while in such a miserable state. That was the job of the assassin, but this wasn't going to be an assassination. It was going to be murder. It was only for Simon's personal gain and nothing else. He couldn't swing it any other way. There was no contract, no target. No one to sneak by; no skill required. It was nothing but murder. It had to be done.
When they reached the door frame, Simon grabbed the back of Ural's head and smashed it as hard as he could against the stone wall. This only dazed him and so Simon took the chance. He looked for the closest thing to him, the coat on the coat rack, and tied the sleeve tightly around Ural's neck. The other end of the coat, he tied to the rack which in turn was bolted to the ground. Ural flailed uncontrollably, trying desperately to free himself from the deadly bind that the coat had on him. He flung until he found Simon's shirt and he grabbed onto it tightly and pulled. It was as if Ural thought that he could take Simon down with him, but a strangled man never thought straight. Slowly, his face turned deeper shades of red and eventually blue. Simon had never seen such a thing. He never thought it to be possible. Ural's grip began to weaken and he flailed far less. With his last moments, Ural looked at Simon with his fading, swollen eyes. A look forever burned in his mind, much like Ural's dead father to him. The look which silently said, “I trusted you,” and then he was gone.


Newhaven- Present time

“That is the type of thing that keeps me up at night. The only time I've ever killed for personal gain. Ever since then, I've only done it for duty. A man like you must understand.” Simon said to Dominic.
“What happened with you and the red head?” Dominic asked.
Simon took a moment. “I tell you a story of murder and betrayal and you're interested in the dame? Anyways, I'm too tired to talk any further. Whatever it is that is getting the enlightened is started to get me too and I need to save my energy for talking with the crazy that we're releasing, so if you don't mind, could we spend the rest of our short trip in silence?”
“As you wish.”
The rest of the journey to Rick's dungeon room was spent in a peaceful silence. This gave Simon a chance to rest. He used to be able to send several memories to multiple people and not even sweat. It was no longer the case and it gave Simon perspective that he didn't have before. He was inevitably fallible. He was going to die one day and it was going to come about sooner than he was hoping it would. Simon finish what he was put on earth to do. It didn't matter how long he had to do it, he needed it done.
“Stand aside soldier.” Dominic said, interrupting the silence. “Direct orders from the highest authority require me to release this prisoner.” It was the most well spoken the White Knight had sounded since Simon met him.
The guard stood aside as ordered and handed Dominic the keys. Dominic fumbled a little with the keys before finally getting the right key. He unlocked the door and opened it, making an ungodly screeching sound as he did so.
Rick sat at the very back of the room, over top what appeared to be old, rotting hay. It was cold, damp, completely unlivable. The walls had a tinge of green and black from moss and mold and moldy moss. Was that even possible?
Rick had fresh wounds across his naked body. Some other wounds looked to have been festering and possibly infected. None of these wounds had to be a problem, but they became problems due to improper care. Rick didn't know any better. Not anymore. He probably wouldn't even be able to recognize himself in a mirror anymore. Not because he was so badly mutilated, but because he was no longer capable of coherent thoughts. Rick was an animal that could speak human now. He was only useful in the sense that his animal tendencies allowed him to pursue what he wanted without any distractions that hindered humans. The only problem was that he couldn't be tamed.
“Go get clothes for this man immediately and when you bring that back, fetch a medic that will meet us at the entrance of the dungeons who will be prepared to care for him. Be quick about it. I'm a busy man.” Dominic order the guard. He immediately followed the order and rushed off.
Simon walked up to the beaten down man sitting in front of him. “Its time for you to prove your worth.” He grabbed Rick's arm and pulled him up. “Now come with me.”
Simon started leading Rick to the exit. Dominic chimed in. “We have to wait to clothe him.”
“You might want to wait, but I don't. You can follow your orders and supervise my stay in Newhaven or you can stay here and wait for clothes like an idiot. Take your pick.”
Simon didn't bother to look back to see if the Knight was following him. He assumed that he probably was.

Blackpond

The pair stared each other down as the battle waged on around them. One with a vendetta to settle and the other, an agent of chaos. Rita had little to gain besides satisfaction from a kill such as this. She knew well enough that even with Lamya dead, there would be someone to take her place. Maybe they wold have a more direct motive, but in a way, that could prove to be even worse. At least a woman without reason could be clouded by other thoughts. A woman with a direct goal, like Rita's, would prove to be more effective.
“Lady death doesn't have all day, Lamya. Choose to be the first to strike or not to strike at all!” Rita yelled over the roar of battle.
“The void doesn't work in binaries.” Lamya replied rather calmly. Rita had to strain herself to hear it.
“The offer still stands.” Rita's reply was simple, but she felt it was appropriate.
The two stared each other down. It wasn't a matter of who was going to strike first anymore. It was Rita's choice to walk away or not. A choice that was important to decide. She could move on, hold the vendetta back and fight the fight that would properly depose Lamya. However, the fight might take too long and with Lamya's unpredictable nature, there was no saying what she would do if left in control of Blackpond for any period of time.
Patience was not one of Rita's virtues. She knew what she had to do. It was more about what was best than it was for the vendetta. That's what she told herself at least as she charged towards Lamya. Her sword raised high in the air as if to call upon the Twins to give her strength in the fight that was about to come. But as she neared, the sky grew dark. At first, only mildly, but it quickly became nearly pitch black as if the light of the world had completely gone out. Lamya, who was only about two meters in front of her was now a very undefined outline. She swung into the space that she thought she saw her. Rita's sword dug deep into the shadow. It didn't feel like flesh. In fact, she couldn't even pull her sword out of what she had just dug into. With a few tugs at the sword, she gave up. Letting go, she heard a thud right in front of her. Something heavy had just came down exactly where her arm was only moments before. Even at such a close distance, she couldn't tell what it was, but she didn't take the time to analyse. With such a big reliance on her sight, she was almost helpless, she had to back away. And she did so as quickly as possible, stepping at a brisk pace to give herself some distance. Her line of sight shifted from side to side, behind her and adjusted to make sure she was catching as much information as possible. Despite the death of the Sun, Rita could still hear the waging war going on. Not being able to tell what way the battle was going was even more unsettling to her than knowing that in her individual battle, she was at a significant disadvantage.
Without a weapon, for the time being, she was going to have to play it extremely defensively. Rita did all that she could to settle into her new environment, but despite all of that, her muscles just couldn't relax. Never did Rita think that sensory deprivation would be a problem for her. She couldn't ever be properly trained to deal with it because her enlightenment allowed her to see even when she was blindfolded. Quickly, what had been an advantage for all these years was her worst nightmare as again, she was knocked right off her feet by a blunt object. The wind completely knocked out of her, she struggled at the ground to compose herself, but with the onslaught of attacks that rained down on her with such little time to react, she couldn't even do that. In the struggle and with each shaking thud on the ground, Rita decided to pinpoint exactly where the attacker must have been coming from. With one strategic doge, she laced herself right around where the legs were probably placed. She swept her legs around and was met with a hard, muscley wall that barely even stumbled. The surprise was enough to allow Rita to get back on her feet.
Now that she knew where the attacks were coming from, she listened carefully; a skill she had let slide past her as something not as necessary, but now that necessity called, with the adrenalin kicking through her veins, she was hyper aware. A shift in the attackers position. It was enough to indicate the attack would be coming from her left most likely. She jumped out of the way of what she believed was most likely a war hammer and dived towards her attacker. With nothing but her hands to attack with, she quickly frisked the body in search of a weapon, but was pushed away before she could find any. A shift, this time from behind. Another attacker was closing in on her. This one had to be about five meters away from her. Rita side-stepped two paces to avoid whatever was coming from there. She heard nothing, but knew that something had to be beside her by now. As she reached her arm out, she came in contact with a pole of sorts. She quickly grabbed the pole and tugged the attacker towards her, causing the attacker to let go of the pole and stumble towards Rita.
While he did that, she heard the first attacker come closer to her as well. The second attacker's body hit Rita's and Rita, with her free hand grabbed the body and threw it towards the first attacker.
Then relief as the Sun started to appear again in the sky. At first, a crack of light, but quickly cascading into a warm glow across the bloody field. Now Rita could see her attacker. The first attacker was a man about twice her size, holding an equally large war hammer. The large man's eyes quickly changed colour as the sky came back to its original glow. It was obvious to Rita that this man had an enlightenment that allowed him to see in the dark. Nothing else could explain it. The second person who had attacked Rita with a pole—which she now realized was a spear—was Lamya, smiling contently as if she had won a prize as she lay in the arm of the enlightened attacker.
Rita adjusted her spear to allow her to properly use it and with a fast step, lunged towards the man. He dropped Lamya on the ground with a thud and parried the blow, breaking the wooden pole attached the spear. Rita took the opening that the perry had given her to run right towards the man. When she got lose enough, she grabbed the back of the man's head and jumped in the air, ploughing her knee right into the man's chin. A loud crack could be heard as the man's jaw shattered like glass. The man screamed, splattering blood across the ground in front of him.
Rita turned to face Lamya, who had managed to crawl away from the area she'd been dropped. A small scrape on the back of her hand was all that was visible. Rita tried to move towards Lamya, but her knee was stuck. The impact from the jaw on her armour had made it impossible for her to move the knee joint of the armour. Upon further inspection of her armour, she noticed that her chest plate had sunken in from the blow to her body she'd taken from the war hammer. Luckily, it wasn't significant enough to cause her pain, but she did wonder how hard it was going to be to take it off later.
“You might want to look at the battlefield, Rita.” Lamya said. Rita's view soared to the sky. “Isn't t funny how something as predictable a solar eclipse can create chaos. Chaos out of order... how strange.”
The battlefield was riddled with hundreds of bodies on either side and all semblance of battle formations had gone to hell. The entire battle was now a clump. A clump of scared men and boys. Men and boys who wanted to escape. Escape from the mess that they created. There was no sense of who would win or who would lose. In the end, no one would win. It was a cascade of death from people who didn't want any of this to happen, but didn't know what else they could do. They were the blood of War gone wrong. A stark reminder of what Valcrest had become. A clump of scared men and women fighting for an escape. No ideals, no principals. Just escape.
Rita couldn't let this fight go on any longer. She needed to cut her loses and head home for the day, with a head held low in mutual defeat. What a shame.
Rita brought her view back to see Lamya, who just stood there, staring blankly at her. Rita let it go and grabbed for her horn to call the retreat.
There would be another battle. Hopefully that one would hold less of a surprise for her.

Wolfcamp

Evin had spent his entire morning waiting for Sean's meeting with Crys. The entire reason he had woken up that morning was to wait for this meeting. He'd made a promise to Dani to keep her daughter safe. He'd done a pretty bad job at it until this point and he wasn't about to let the last four years of his life go down in smoke because he decided to let Crys deal with the Wolfpack problem by herself. There was no use in trusting Sean and anyone who wished to support him.
The way Evin looked at it, the meeting between Sean and Crys would go one of two ways. The first, and most likely scenario in Evin's mind was that Sean would use this as an opportunity for an ambush. Allow him to finish what he had started and gain even more control among those loyal to him. Surely Crys would expect such a thing, but Evin knew from experience that taking on an entire Wolfpack wasn't an easy feat.
The second scenario involved a deceptively peaceful atmosphere where Sean and Crys would talk out their differences and come to an agreement only to have whatever agreement they make come crashing down on both of them and causing even more conflict. The tendency for this to happen was potent among the Wolfpack and those who associated with them. Evin didn't want that to happen. He had to make sure for himself that this never happened.
And so Evin found himself sitting atop a tree branch, overlooking the lake he had once saw such beauty in. Those days were gone now more than ever. With the stark reminder of his last meeting with Sean so palpable to his mind. A stark reminder that no matter how hard Evin fought, the unexpected would always come to bite him in the ass.
Evin stared down to Sean, who had been there for a while. Obviously, he was preparing himself for whatever was to come. As far as Evin could tell, Sean believed he was alone. The poor bastard didn't even know that a single misstep could cost him his life. Not a single thing would stop him from protecting Crystal. Beyond his obligation, there was the knowledge that Crystal intended to do what her mother did. Crystal would make an impact much bigger than Sean's in the world. The only thing that was still n the way of making that impact was Sean.
Then, the light went out. It was as sudden as a candle being blown out. Evin and the surrounding area was darkened into a pitch blackness...

... It was true. He was really dead. No longer did he have to carry such a burden on his shoulders knowing that the man who tore part his life was still living. Evin's life would never be quite the same, but the slightest bit of satisfaction came from knowing that the thing that once consumed him was gone. He could no longer be consumed by it. He could no longer be haunted by it.
Yet an emptiness was put in its place. A chasm as deep as any cave and as dark as once blotted out sky. Was this what victory truly felt like. What was won after a game of chess? Most games come down to a major piece or two and a few pawns at best for the winning side. All the winner is left with is an empty board. No moves can be taken back and no pieces can be regained. All that Evin was left with was a bitter condolence.
He knew that this was the feeling he would have. He always dreamt of the tingly feeling that such a death would bring, but he always knew. It just couldn't come to that. Such a big art of anyone's life, the moment it leaves becomes like a chess board at the end of the game. Nothing else matters and then it is on to the next game, if you are lucky enough to have a next game.
Evin wondered if anyone had found the body yet. He contemplated staying and speaking to Crystal when she arrived, but the area would be too dangerous to sneak around by the time she arrived. A person walking into the camp, even under the aid of shadows would be walking in there with a target placed right on their head.
Now that Sean was dead, he had other business to attend to. More important business that would keep him away from the Wolves for good. As well as spread the news of Sean's death, he had to figure out exactly what Helena was up to in the mountains and that meant heading to the Whites for some answers. Hopefully Helena's daughter would be able to shed some light on the whole matter. If Evin was right, Lena's final works before her death would lead to something interesting.
In late afternoon, as he arrived in the White's camp, he went to the nearest White he could find.
“You look sick sir. Come this way and we'll do our best to assist.” The White Shadow said.
“I'm not here to await my death. I need to speak with Annie. I have urgent news from the Wolf camp regarding Sean. I need to speak to her right away.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Evin Bana Character Portrait: Dominic Adams Character Portrait: Jake Turner Character Portrait: Ella Page
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Only a couple more minutes. That was all the time he needed. Ella's bed marinated in her blood as she bled from everywhere. The smell of death—something Lazurus was far too familiar with—was palpable. He just needed to hold onto the guards for a moment longer. Just a moment. He looked down at Ella's hands. The skin was greying. He worried that he might have over spent himself. Would be be able to get out of bed? He was going to have to.
He took deep breaths preparing for the moment that he'd have to lit himself out of bed. It quite possibly, was going to be one of the more difficult moments in his life. It was pathetic in a way. The fact that simply lifting himself out of bed, something he'd done so many times in his life, was now a challenge.
The sound of footsteps started to grow from the hallway. The guards were coming to relieve the others from their post.
Lazurus took a deep breath and lifted himself into a seated position and waited for the commanding officer on the other side to knock. The officer, however, didn't bother to knock this time. This was a change in the procedure, probably due to lack of attentiveness more than anything. This was perfect. The officer walked through the door and told the guards standing guard already that they were to be relieved. The three guards on duty, didn't heed the command. Instead, they withdrew their swords; each attacking their counterpart before they even had a chance to properly react.
At that moment, a clank of armour rang through the hallway as all three men fell. That was soon followed by the fallen armour of the three guards who had attacked their revealing forces. With that, Lazurus let out a huge sigh and collapsed back into bed. A million tons had just been lifted off Ella's shoulder. Soon, the bleeding stopped and he knew that he was going to recover from this.
Lazurus took a moment to take in his situation. To really see how well he would be able to move. He tested his arms. They were heavy and he felt weak, but he could still move them. Then his hands and fingers. While his fingers were useless, unable to move as if they were a rusted metal joint on a plate of armour. He still had a slight amount of dexterity left in his wrists, but hardly any. The same applied to his legs and feet. He was going to be able to walk, but it was going to be a struggle.
Slowly he shifted out of the bed. His arms, merely used to attempt to make sure he landed feet first. He slid down like a snake until his butt gently sat itself of the cold stone floor. From this position, he attempted to leverage his arms on the floor to push himself up to his feet. This didn't work too well and with the swollen stomach that Ella had developed, he wasn't exactly weighted in a way that would help him get up from a seated position. He changed tactics, opting to get himself into a kneeling position, facing the bed. He lifted his arms, and with a muffled slap, they hit the bed. He used his arms as his anchoring point and lifted, rolling over his toes and onto his feet. From there, the struggle of just lifting his body with merely his weakened legs was enough for him to let out a grunt. He jumped a little at the sound of his voice. Even after six months, he wasn't quite used to the girl's voice that he had adopted.
Lazurus trudged through the room and to the doorway, only poking his head out to see if anyone else was near by. As he suspected, there was no one. It was time to make his escape.

``````

In the city's lower district, Dominic, Rick and Simon were held up in a small house. Its size compared to houses in the nicer districts in the city made the house look more like a tool shed of sorts, but this modest place was once home to a small family before they were slaughter in a vicious riot that broke out in the city a month ago. Since then, Dominic had been using it as his own little house when he wanted to get out of the castle for a day. It wasn't much, but it was enough.
A knock at the door distracted Dominic from Rick, who was sleeping on the overused cot in the corner of the room. He slowly opened the door, making sure not to place his head directly out the crack as to avoid any blades from getting him by surprise. On the other side, however, he only saw the face of Peter, a Black Guard. How he knew to find Dominic in a small shack in the lower district was beyond him. Dominic stepped through the door and shut it quietly behind him.
“What are you doing here, Peter?”
“I've come with a message. Jake has come into town. He's come to relieve you of your duties. Wouldn't say much more about it, but he doesn't sound too happy about it.”
Dominic rolled his eyes, although he couldn't blame Jake. “Thank you.”

“He's coming now?” Simon asked as Dominic entered the shack again. 
“How did you hear that?” Dominic asked in shock. Dominic instantly regretted his decision to ask the question. It was an admission without actually saying it plain. 
“I'm not deaf and the two of you speak louder than a drunken spy slurring out restricted information at a bar.”
“Yes,” Dominic sighed, “he's coming.” 
Simon didn't say anything else to Dominic. While Dominic didn't know what else he was expecting the man to say, he did expect him to ask more questions. While Dominic didn't enjoy the silence as much as his friend there, he wasn't going to bother lest he wanted to be belittled some more. Instead, Dominic stepped outside of the shack again and waited for Jake to come by. 
In the meantime, he had the pleasure of watching two cats hiss at each other over territory. The grey tabby cat had walked into the orange cat's territory. Orange took note and instantly puffed up, hissing and showing off it's cheek muscles. A cat's cheeks was typically a good indication of how tough the cat was. Usually the cat with the larger cheeks would win a fight if it came to it.
Unfortunately for Orange, Tabby was a little bigger than him. Orange, however, was not going to give up its territory to a slightly larger cat. Orange could still take Tabby on in a fair fight. Dominic decided that he didn't want to see any more fighting. He'd seen enough for a lifetime and was sure he'd see more before his Death. He threw a rock at Tabby and he ran off.

Jake and Sophie had spent about half an hour sitting in Ess’ former house and talking about the people who had stopped by looking for her. It struck Jake as amusing that this was the first time he was ever in his sister’s house and she had long since moved. One of the ‘visitors’ Sophie mentioned Jake had already heard of through Sheila. He’d tracked the guy pretty easily and come to the conclusion he was harmless. The others acted too harmless for Jake’s liking and while none matched the description of the man named Hector, Jake had a gut feeling they were connected to him somehow. He warned Sophie to watch out for herself, and Bran, around those types, his warning met with glare that clearly meant ‘what, do you think I’m dumb?’. He chuckled and said nothing more on the subject. They parted ways on the street, Sophie heading to the castle and Jake towards his former home. One last stop before starting on his new mission.

He knocked on the door a certain number of times and waited. One of the assassins opened the door with a smile that clearly indicated he was expecting someone specific. “Oh, Jake,” the man mumbled, smile fading slowly, “can I help you with something?”
“Expecting someone Travis?” Jake snickered. “I need someone to send along a message to Crys. She should be back in Blackpond by now.”
“I thought it was Allison. She was supposed to be back today. Is she staying in the desert? Lowell said... It was bad?”
“I don’t know where Ali’s headed, but she was waiting for Crys to decide, so maybe she left a bit late,” he told the man. “So... Travis... Message... Can you send it for me? It need to go out today.”
“Uhm, sure. What should I tell her?”
“Tell her I need Kaya back at the Nest as soon as possible. Everything is fine, I just need her for an assignment.”
“Will do.”
Tell Ali to be safe, when she gets here, okay?”
The man half smile. “Sure, man.”

Travis was halfway through closing the door when he opened it again. “Oh, Jake! One of your knight buddies was around here earlier... He had this other guy with him... They went that way, if it’s relevant.”
“Ah, great.” Jake snorted, seeming less than pleased with the information really. “Thanks, Travis.”

The door closed and Jake headed in the direction the assassin had pointed him. As he turned a corner a tabby cat ran at full speed in his direction and slipped between his legs, almost tripping him over. “What the hell!” Jake muttered, looking over his shoulder as the tabby disappeared behind a pile of rubbish near one of the houses. “Crazy cat.”

A few steps into the street and he spotted Dominic, the man was the only person standing the empty street. “Very inconspicuous, gotta give him that,” Jake smirked. Of course Dominic was a big guy, it wouldn’t be hard to spot in a crowded street, but standing there alone made him stand out even more.

Jake rose his hand in a half-hearted wave as he approached the Knight. Stopping before the man and spreading his arms as though greeting a long lost friend; which Dominic wasn’t. “Sir Dominic. How delightful to see you again...” He spoke, with a laugh underneath his words, taking a playful bow as if mocking the very concept of civilized greetings. It wasn’t that Jake didn’t like the man, but something about Dominic just made him want to tease the man. Probably still a lingering effect of their very first meeting. “Funny how we almost never meet when you don’t have a Blackpond rat clinging to your shadow, isn’t it?” Jake had been all laughs and mischief with Sophie, but the bitterness had returned to him the moment he put one single thought to what he was asked to do. He had to remind himself who and why he was doing it for and even so he couldn’t make it disappear completely. “I’m not happy, and I truly see no point in this, but Captain asked that I think your little buddy off your hands and keep him alive... for now... So take him I shall...” Jake’s eyes seemed to turn to ice for a brief moment, but it faded. The young man breathed a sigh and put his hands in his pockets, his posture relaxing as we as his tone. “I have to ask; have you heard of all the deaths? In the forest... In the desert? I told the Captain little over an hour ago, but I know these things spread fast.”

Jake came down the road in his typical fashion. Even with no one in the streets, his demeanour implied that he was ready to go into hiding at a moments notice, almost like a skittish mouse. His words struck more like a snake. Each jab came out with a venomous edge; none that were lethal, but all of them with the intention to hurt. None of them hurt Dominic, not really. He understood that Jake had issues controlling his emotions, especially when he was forced into doing things he didn't want to do. He could only imagine that Jake didn't want to babysit. 
Then Jake's tone shifted and he spoke of deaths. “What deaths?”

Jake smiled at Dominic’s question. “Ah. So the guard I sent after you hadn’t been listening in on my talk with the Captain... That’s good to know. I’m sure you’ll get the details in the castle somewhere, so to cut things short here: The Wolfpack lost its Alpha, and the Crimson Shadows lost well... almost its entire ranks. I was recently there watching the corpses being prepared for the pyre, the most friends I lost in a day. Valcrest is just a gift that keeps on giving, ain’t it?” Jake snorted. “Anything relevant I need to know about this Blackpond guy before I take him off your hands, Dom? If not, just hand him over so I can be on my way. I don’t think I’ve ever been more eager to leave this city than today.”

No wonder he's on edge. Dominic thought as Jake quickly briefed him on the recent events to the west. An ally to the Black Knights and likely to Newhaven was nearly wiped out of existence and the mad Alpha of the Wolves was no longer. It was hard to say what was to happen to the Wolf Pack now that it lost its third leader in less than a decade, but no new or strong leaders were left of them. As for the Crimson, it was hard to say as well. Without knowing the true state of their losses, Dominic could only be left to speculate. 
“Nothing to be said about these Blackpond folk except for the fact that the one is insane and the mute's a ripe old prick.” Dominic snorted.
“That's no way to talk about me.” The thoughts of Simon intruded him. Dominic turned around to see Simon standing at the door, waving with a smile plastered across his face.
“Can he hear you?” Dominic asked, motioning to Jake.
“Now he can. Nice to speak to you again Jake. Hopefully you do a little less of it or at least say something intelligent. Dom here is insufferable.”
“Have fun.” Dominic said, smiling as he walked down the street the way Jake had come.

Jake was less than pleased to have someone’s voice in his head, but he had been warned of this guy’s inability to speak normally, so he'd have to excuse it. He waited for Dominic to leave before addressing Simon. “I have more interest in speaking to my horse than you. Likewise I’d much rather not hear a peep from you in my head unless it’s necessary. I honestly don’t know what you want, seeing as you could break your idiot King from prison on your own without having to show your face; hell, a Wolfpack recruit could have pulled that off in the state Newhaven's in, but I’m quite frankly past the point of caring for what you people want or what you’re planning... I’m just going to play along until you give me a good enough excuse to kill you.”

Gesturing towards the opposite direction Dominic had wandered off to, Jake urged Simon to walk in front of him. “I’m not stationed here, so we’re leaving the city.” He informed, not sure whether or not Dominic had mentioned, or was even aware of that. Afterwards he fell completely silent.

Simon was a little displeased to find himself leaving Newhaven so early. He'd just gotten there and intended on finding what he was looking for before leaving. The misfortune of fate brought him to this. He was no longer in control of where he ended up now that he was being hauled around by a Black Knight. Especially not Jake Turner. Of all the Black Knights, Jake wasn't one to be pushed around. Even Simon could find a way to sway Mageria to do things for him. She was smart to get Jake to take care of him. A miscalculation on his part.
Simon pushed up ahead of Jake, but didn't move for a moment. “Come along, Rick.” He turned around to look at the shack that he was staying at. He didn't say anything to Jake and just waited. A minute passed before Rick sluggishly passed through the door. Simon was sure that Jake probably wasn't pleased to see the sickly King. It would slow down travel for sure and Jake seemed to be in a rush to get out of the city.
With Jake behind them, the two started walking. Simon supposed that he was probably headed towards the front gate, so he went along. Rick's paced slowed them down, but it was no real issue. In fact, the longer he was in the city, the better. Not only did it allow him just a little more time to get his work done, but it also allowed him protection. Being around a Black Knight was good protection, but as long as he was in the city, he hadn't found the item he was looking for, which meant that neither had Vorso. The minute he left the city would be the minute Vorso would strike. At least, that's what he expected.
With immediacy in his stance, Rick perked up. Simon was surprised by this change in his demeanour, but he knew what that meant. After a period of lethargic stupor, Rick was back into his stage of enthusiastic work. There was no stopping him now, which meant Jake and Rick went where he went. Simon stopped ad turned to Jake. “I go where he goes. So you can either do your duty and follow me or you can abandon your obligations... or, I suppose, you could try and kill us. Either way, I'll be over here.” He pointed towards the street that Rick was hurriedly walking down and turned to walk that way. Jake would either follow him or there would be a fight. Simon just continued to walk, hoping it would be the former.
Simon followed Rick right to the street where the infamous Wolf Inn was. And was the Inn ever busy. People coming in and out of the place in a constant stream. Old ad young, rich and poor, drunk and drunker. All forms of life were about the Inn. It seemed that this was where Rick was headed. Simon followed closely behind him, hand softly pressed against the dagger sitting against his pant leg.

Jake was beyond displeased at the sight of Rick, but he managed to not act on his urge to just kill the man where he stood. He had not forgotten the situation at the Ball in the slightest, nor would he ever. It didn’t matter if the guy was messed up in the head, sick, or whatever else. His eyes on Crys that day marked him a dead man the moment Jake had a say in the matter. At the moment he didn’t however, so when the bastard started to stray from the path he was so eager to take and Simon declared he would follow, Jake complied. It wasn’t duty; and if Simon expected to play that card often he was in for a surprise, but Jake did remind himself that Mageria trusted him, and if anything he owed her the same no matter how strongly he disagreed.

Jake was yet to draw a weapon, but he slid a black needle into his hand the moment he caught sight of Rick’s destination, the thin metal poking out between his index and his middle fingers. Why was it open? The Alpha was dead, the clan was in mourning... Sheila was in the encampment; he saw her there. The Inn should be sealed and Jake couldn’t find a reasonable explanation for why it wasn’t. Rick seemed relentless in his intent to go there however. The man was barely responsive moments ago, but now he was on a mission; and Jake could guess why. He could very well guess now why Simon wanted him free and what he was after. What he didn’t understand was his need of Newhaven for this. Simon could have rescued Rick on his own; why was Jake needed? All things considered, and for the time being, he decided he wasn’t going to worry, or act. He was just going to follow the crazed assassin and his mute companion and see where that would lead.

Simon knew that this was it. Nearly half a year of his life had been spent on this exact moment. All his efforts in tracking and hiding from people he once called allies. It had all come down to what was inside the Inn. Simon didn't question how Rick knew where to go. He didn't for a moment want to enter his mind to find out. He just summed it up to the complexity of a mad man's mind.
Jake was clearly intrigued by the Inn, just as much as Simon had been. If what Jake had said to Dominic was true, the Wolfpack should have closed the Inn and left it vacant. Some townspeople must have discovered that the assassins who usually attended the camp were gone. They must have decided to ransack the place and enjoy themselves some good fun without cash or consequence. This meant that it would probably be easily to discreetly walk in and out of the inn without much issue. Simon let in a big breath and then followed Rick through the doors into the Inn.
The Inn was filled with characters doing exactly as he had expected. People over drinking, gambling and singing songs. Overall they were eccentric and rowdy ad nauseam. There was even an old man in the corner, distributing what appeared to be weapons from a rather large box. Intrigued, by this, Simon took a seat at a nearby stool while Rick went around to a back room in search of what he was after.
It appeared to be a tournament. Two men would blindly pick a weapon out of the large box. Simon had heard rumours of a lost and found box full of different weapons owned by the Wolves at the Inn, but he took the rumours as merely a funny tale. The first men drew out a poorly crafted longsword. It looked more like a toy than a sword. Simon doubted that it could be used to kill. The next person grabbed an arrow. The crowd laughed as the man looked at his weapon with confusion.
“Good, good!” The old tournament master shouted out with a hearty chuckle. “Now these two will use their weapons in a fight to see who can first draw blood from their opponent. The man who is able to draw blood from their opponent is the victor!”
The crowd cheered again in anticipation for the fight. A small box had been created in the centre of the room with a barricade of chairs. A few kids, attempting to get a good view of the fight straddled the chairs, leaning over the barrier. Much to the displeasure of some older patrons who were attempting to keep them a safe distance from the fighting.
The two men stepped into the makeshift arena and took their stance on either side of the room. The crowd cheered for the man with the arrow. People loved a good underdog. In confidence, he lifted the arrow above his head and the crowd roared even louder. Then a few screams. The other man with the longsword had taken this moment to charge Arrow Man. He noticed just in time to back away, smashing right into a chair as he stumbled over. Arrow man, in desperation threw the arrow in Longsword's direction, but he missed entirely and the arrow flew out of the ring. Without a weapon, Arrow Man was helpless, so he jumped out of the ring, disqualifying himself from the tournament before Longsword could cut him.
The crowd, who only moments before were cheering, booed for Arrow Man. Throwing their drinks at him and finally running him out of the bar.
“Okay! We have one more spot left in the first round of this tournament! Would two more challengers please step up to grab a weapon!” The tournament master said.
Simon perked up when he heard this. Rick was busy doing the work, so Simon decided that it would be fine for him to take a break from searching and just have a good bout with some commoner. Maybe he'd even win some coin from this. Simon stood up and the tournament master shouted. “It looks like we have a contestant. Come on down and pick a weapon from the box.”
Simon went to the box. The man blindfolded him and told him to just reach in and grab something. While it didn't seem entirely safe to blindly grab into a box full of sharp objects, he did so anyways. He felt a rather ornate handle and instantly grabbed it. He knew that a weapon with such a nice handle would be crafted by a noble blacksmith. This wasn't a weapon that was made for a poor man. This was a good weapon. He lifted his hand out of the box with the weapon in hand. The man untied the blindfold and allowed Simon to get a good look at his weapon.
He didn't react at first to the dagger. An incredibly sharp, steel blade, affixed to a blue and red handle, lined with white gold. It was an impressively crafted dagger to say the least, but that wasn't what made Simon's eyes widen. He looked up to see if Jake had noticed then smirked.
“Don't make a scene out of this, Jake.” He transfered his thoughts to him. “Imagine the Wolfpack's reaction to a rumour about you killing a man over a dagger in their own establishment. It might beg the Wolves to ask some questions and start investigations.”

The Inn was in total chaos. It was obvious someone had broken in and opened up the place to the public. Jake wondered briefly how much coin the Pack would lose because of this. Under different circumstances he would have emptied those idiots’ pockets and kicked them out the door, if only for Sheila’s sake, but this time he couldn’t afford to draw that type of attention. Rick rushed to the back and Jake leaned against the bar. He was sure Simon wouldn’t let the maniac disappear on him, the telepath didn’t seemed concerned to let the man out of his sight and Jake was happy to not have to look at him anymore. He was very unimpressed and uninterested with the little tournament the ‘patrons’ had going on; it was clumsy fighting at best. He’d had more fun watching Darren and Aiden punch each other. Jake poured himself a drink, thinking to himself he’d pay for it once Sheila came back; that if she did, and drank it all in one gulp, grimacing as the liquor burned its way down. He refilled his glass while watching Simon approach the weapon box and emptied it at once again.

It was only when Jake saw what Simon got out of the box that he actually paid attention to the man. His eyes caught the dagger and he tensed. A man that had been standing near him started to step forward as if to challenge Simon, but Jake pulled him back by the collar. The man turned to Jake as if he meant to pick a fight but recognized the black feathers hanging from his belt and recoiled. Jake walked to the old man running the tournament and allowed him to blindfold him for the weapon draw. He gripped a hilt that felt somewhat familiar and drew a blade that was in between a long dagger and short sword in length. It looked well preserved and sharp enough for this. Jake smiled although his eyes were cold staring at Simon. He didn’t speak his reply to the man, but simply thought it. “Simon... Have you forgotten me? I wandered into Blackpond’s Castle and kicked down the King’s door. Are you really willing to bet your life on my fear of a leaderless pack of Wolves?”

Jake and Simon stepped into the makeshift ring and there was immediate tension in the air. To the drunken idiots surrounding the two men, nothing odd was going on other than two strangers fighting each other for sport. This wasn’t sport for Jake; someone was going to die in that ring if it was up to him. Jake felt the weight of his borrowed sword for a few seconds before making the first move and slashing at Simon’s chest, the man quickly dodging and countering as if it was nothing. It was nothing. Jake caught a glimpse of the dagger’s blade and close it had been to his body as he twisted his torso away from it, and knowing what it was threw off his balance. The back of his knees hit the barrier of chairs that formed the ring and for a split second Jake remembered Perry; the look in the man’s eyes holding that blade and rambling about his pursuit of power. He steadied before Simon could take advantage, catching the man’s attack with his own sword and throwing a punch at his face. It hit. Jake allowed Simon to recover, or so it looked; he was actually regaining his own composure instead.

To the laymen in the audience, watching the fight, Jake looked to have the upper hand. He held a sword while Simon held a dagger, and Jake had made the first punch. However, that first punch meant next to nothing as it didn't leave either fighters at an advantage. Jake's punch was far more likely out of desperation. They layman would be right that Simon was at a disadvantage though, but not for the reasons that they believed. Simon's disadvantage came about in his intent. Jake had the intent to kill while Simon merely had the intent to force Jake to concede. This left Simon with far fewer courses of action than Jake and it left him a little worried.
Simon came in with the next attack with a ferocity that his first attack didn't have. He hacked and slashed with the dagger, only ever making contact with his opponent's blade, but forcing Jake backwards. Simon wasn't giving Jake an ounce of space to fight. That is where the dagger had its advantage to the sword, especially in the closer quarters of the fighting ring. Limiting Jake's range of motion completely took away his range advantage as well as undermining his abilities to make any offensive swings back.
Simon had nearly backed Jake into the corner of the arena again. Simon doubled his efforts, attacking with twice the furry he had before, hoping to catch Jake off balance. Simon's furious attacks quickly stopped when something caught his wrist. Simon quickly grabbed Jake's wrist in retaliation. The two locked blades and held each others wrists. Sweat beating down their foreheads as they locked eyes. The crowds roar was merely a whisper in Simon's ear as he anticipated Jake's next move.
Jake pushed Simon backwards and again, the two opponents took a moment to get their footing. Jake's attack came first this time. Jake took the attack to Simon's legs, which left Jake open to any attacks from above the waist, but only if Simon had the reach, which his dagger left him short. Much to Simon's surprise, he reacted by diving towards Jake and tackling him to the ground.
Screams were heard in the audience as Jake's sword clamoured to the floor just outside the arena. Jake was now without a sword, which meant that the competition would be over soon. All Simon had to do was draw blood and they would put the fight to an end before it escalated any further. The two rolled on the floor, grappling and pushing until Simon found himself straddled over top of Jake. Jake Threw his hands up in defence. Simon looked for the opening and threw a punch just around his hands, connecting just below Jake's right eye. Simon then attempted to press his dagger against the boy's cheek to draw first blood, but Jake threw up his hand and grabbed Simon by the forearm. Simon grabbed the hilt of the dagger with both hands and pressed down as hard as he could while Jake did the same from the other end. Now it turned into a battle of will. Both men were about equal in strength and it was just down to the first person to concede. In Jake's eyes, he saw someone with the will of a true killer. Something that Simon didn't have. He was going to lose the battle of wills... unless.
Simon closed his eyes for a moment. When they opened, they were shining a seafoam green. Jake's eyes grew wider as he realized what this meant, but by then, it was too late. It wasn't hard for Simon to find Jake's mind. A clear mind was hard to find, but for one that was attempting to keep in control and maintain his will, Jake's mind was like an open book.
“Hi Jake. You can't talk back to me right now. I'm not going to allow it, but that's fine. Just sit back and enjoy the carriage ride I'm about to take you on.”
Jake's mind looked like a sea of colours. It was a painter's cleaning bowl after a long day's work where watered down paint swished and swirled around to make winding streaks in the water. These colours swam viciously through the expanse as Jake pushed the unmoving object, which was Simon, out of his mind. The colours, however, abruptly stilled themselves and, with a little resistance, flowed into the expanse, creating a world around which Simon could create the thoughts. It started out as a few stone pillars and some grass, but quickly grew into a large meadow with tents and old stone buildings covering up some of the empty space. Next, people started to flow out of the tents and structures; more people than what should have reasonably fit. Jake would never notice. Neither, would he notice the fact that he wasn't actually experiencing any of this from the first person, but rather, from just above the whole scene. Each face was a person familiar to Jake. Not all of them should have been in this mock Blackhurst camp, but each of them wore the garbs of the White Shadow either way. The one thing that Simon let slip was making Crystal one of those people in the garb. Hopefully Jake didn't notice or the plan would be ruined entirely. He moved Crystal into one of the tents to disconnect the thought all together. Then, out of the same tent came Lena, who walked towards Jake, at least Jake's image of himself. It always amused Simon to see what people's image of themselves were. It was never what they actually looked like. It could be better or it could be worse, but it was never true to reality. In Jake's case, it was worse.
Jake handed Lena the dagger, which seemed to just appear in his hand. Lena nodded happily and then threw the dagger into a fire, where it burned up and turned to smoke.
Hopefully, this would be enough. A suggestion that the dagger no longer existed could be the thing to break Jake's will and allow Simon to finish the fight. Simon snapped back into reality. The look of shock that Simon had left seeing Jake's face in was now gone and it appeared to Simon that it did in fact work. Slowly, Simon was getting the edge. The dagger carefully made its way towards Jake's face. But the trick ore off too quickly. Jake noticed the dagger and realized that it wasn't in fact destroyed. He had been tricked.
This time, Jake put all his strength into pulling the dagger to his left. This threw Simon completely off from on top of Jake and rolling across the floor.
Simon jumped to his feet and looked around the arena. Jake was now gone. He looked above him to see if he was hanging from a rafter. Nothing. He wouldn't have fled, so he had to be around somewhere. Next, Simon looked for the sword on the floor. The instant he looked over to it, it had disappeared into seeming nothingness. Simon began to suspect that Jake could disappear at the will of his enlightenment, which worried Simon a little. He could try to listen for Jake, but with the crowd's banter, there was no way he was going to successfully hear a thing. Simon was going to have to get creative. His head jerked from side to side to look for something that he could use to assist him.
On the other side of the room, a group of people sat on a piece of the chair barricade that had been set up. He ran towards them, hearing the air being cut by Jake's sword right behind him as he took his first few steps. That was a close one. The men had bottles in their hand. He grabbed the bottles and threw them in every which direction across the floor, leaving the floor covered in green glass. If he couldn't see Jake, he could at least see where he was walking now.
With every step Jake took, glass flipped around the floor. The flipping stopped for a moment, and then continued. Each distortion of the glass got closer until Jake was in striking range. Simon couldn't know where the attack came from, but instead, he kicked the glass up towards Jake. He dived towards Jake, attempting to take this fight to the floor again, but the two of them just stumbled to the floor and into a puddle of booze that was left from the broken glass. Instantly, Jake became visible again. His eyes stopped glowing and he got up from the floor. Simon did the same. The two of them were now covered in scratches from the glass. Simon could feel a shard of glass lodged in his face.
Jake and Simon both looked at each other with an intensity that would cut through anyone who even tried to step between them. Unfortunately, for the game master, it was him. “This fight is clearly a draw.” The old man shouted.
The crowds roar completely drowned out the sound of the man's spine collarbone snapping as Jake tackled the man and used him as a shield as he pressed towards Simon with his sword out like a lancer. Simon used what little time he had to react to perry the blade away from him, cutting the game master down in the process. Screams were now heard from the crowds as they started to run in every which direction in panic. Simon took the confusion as his chance to escape. He dived over the chairs and into the panicked crowd, trying his best to blend in. He was stopped rather quickly by Jake, who had thrown a chair at him. He arched his back in pain and flopped to the ground. He turned around, bracing his hands on the floor behind him as he saw Jake approach in a furry; sword ready to take its next victim. Before he could slay his strike down, a twinkle from behind Jake flew towards him and struck just above the hilt of his blade, causing him to drop it.
“What's all this about Jake?” Simon heard a yell from the direction the throwing blade had come. He didn't stay long enough to see what it was though. He turned around and ran out of the Inn, hoping to gain some distance on Jake before he found him.
As he left the Inn, he saw Rick standing across the street, just standing, watching the panicked crowd rushing out of the Inn. He ran over, grabbed the man's hand and ducked into the shadows before anyone could follow him.

Jake cringed when the sword slipped from his grasp. He didn’t need to hear Evin’s voice to know it was him. Of course it was. He caught a glimpse of Simon disappearing out the door, but instead of following the man directly he turned the other way, momentarily rushed towards Evin as though he was about unleash his wrath on the man, but walking past him instead. “Fucking hell, Evin... What joy do you take in screwing up my plans?” He muttered out, otherwise not even looking the man in the eyes and climbing the stairs to the top floor of the Inn in a hurry. He slipped out the window and jumped to the roof of the adjacent building.

Jake had spent some time with Sham on the rooftops after she helped him out of Blackpond and even though he lacked the woman’s speed and agility he’d learned his way around the city rooftops, he knew them almost as well as she. Finding Simon in a crowd wouldn’t be that easy, but he could recognize Rick’s walk miles away in the state the man was currently in. If wasn’t for Simon’s insistence to drag the sick man around he might have gotten away from Jake. At least the nutcase was good for one thing.

Sham had a point in her methods; people hardly felt the need to look up. Even though Jake was invisible, he was probably being overzealous; Simon had not glanced above his head once. He’d followed both men, watching them from above until opportunity to intercept them presented itself. Jake dropped from the edge of a building directly in front of Simon, the man colliding into ‘nothing’. Jake quickly disarmed Simon, knocking the dagger from his hand to the floor and planting his left foot firmly over it before showing himself, a dagger of his own held tightly in his clenched fist. “I’m not supposed to kill you, as per my Captain’s orders, Simon. I like Mageria, and I’d rather play nice, but if I bring back that dagger I’m sure she’ll understand my side... If you have one good reason why things should end any differently you better say so now. And be quick about it, because today I’ve already been driven miles past the point of tolerating bullshit.”

Simon's head hit the floor hard when he was knocked down. For a moment, he saw a flash of bright light, then his vision went blurry. He wasn't quite sure of where he was until his eyes cleared up enough to see Jake above him, spitting words down to him. Simon shifted uncomfortably, tying to sit himself up. He didn't dare attempt to stand. The world was spinning around him.
Simon tried as hard as he could to focus on Jake. He shook his head and then tried again. The world seemed to begin to steady itself. His eyes brightened as he was about to speak, but then he reconsidered his thoughts. From out of the corner of his eyes, he saw Rick, slowly shifting behind Jake. It would seem that Jake's focus was fixed on Simon and the dagger more than it was Rick.
“First off. I'd like to start by saying that there are people other than me who want this dagger. In fact, I should be the least of your worries when it comes to that dagger. My friends are waiting for me to exit the city with this dagger. The only reason that they haven't entered the city is because it would be safer to attack me once I'm in the woods. When they find out that I've died, which they will soon enough, they'll enter the city and terrorize it until they find this dagger. My methods will seem tame in comparison.” He paused, watching from the corner of his eyes as Rick leaned down to grab the dagger from under Jake's foot. The moment he touched it, his eyes flashed and he disappeared. “Of course. If that's not incentive enough, I'm sure that the fact that Rick has just disappeared with the dagger will be enough incentive to keep me alive.” He waited to watch Jake's reaction in amusement. Despite the entertainment value of Rick's disappearing act, Simon wasn't happy. Now he was going to have to go searching for the guy again. “The man's deranged. Who's to say what he's going to do with that dagger or where he's taking it? You'll never be able to find him. Not without my help.” Simon smiled again. This time, with a maniacal twist. He'd just dodged Death that time. If it weren't for Rick, nothing that Simon would have said could have saved him. He'd had no leverage and lying wasn't a game worth playing with Jake. It was a good thing that mad men were so easy to persuade. And with a little help from his enlightenment, Simon had done the impossible.

Jake showed no reaction to Rick disappearing with the dagger, even though that in itself was one heck of a display of anger. He listened to what Simon had to say and snorted. “Say you do find him... Then what? What do you want with it, Simon? How does it ‘help me’ that you find it, or that you live? Valcrest is small, I have a lot of friends, are you betting your life in my inability to find one crazy man? The sickness is in his blood also, he won’t be teleporting around for much longer. Dagger or no... I have every intention of finding good ol’ King Richard...” Jake turn around and started to walk towards the city gates as was his original plan. “Long live the King...” He sneered. “We’ll see about you later, Simon... If you think I’m dangerous, I have a friend I look forward to introducing you to... Her name is Kaya.”

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Evin felt like such an idiot when he'd seen Jake's face glaring at him. All he wanted was to stop the mayhem that was causing him such insomnia. It just so happened that the one causing his insomnia was Jake. Of course, he didn't know that when he was stopping him from killing the man on the floor. He just saw Jake's back and in a moment of gut reaction, more out of the fact that he wanted sleep than anything else, he just wanted to stop the killing from happening.
He realized the mistake now. If Jake was so blatantly after someone, there was typically a good reason, even if Evin didn't always agree with him. However, the chase was now being conducted outside of the Inn. Maybe, once the people settled down again, he'd get some sleep.
But, as if it were some sort of divine intervention, preventing Evin from getting a proper sleep, the door burst open and several guards entered the Inn with their swords brandished.
“Nobody move!” the one in the front shouted. “Everyone here is under arrest for illegal arena fighting in the city. Do not try to run or you will be killed.”
“Just perfect.” Evin muttered.
The crowds at the Inn were still rather large and he could move around them without any attention being drawn to him. He made his way to the stairs and started to walk up them.
“You, at the stairs!” The man said. “Stop under order of the queen regent Mag—” The voice trailed off into a grunt followed by a nervous stutter from the guards. The one who had been making demands to Evin had been stabbed in the gut by one of the patrons at the Inn. Soon enough, the entire room filled with fighting. Patrons hastily lined up to grab weapons from the box while others revealed that they'd been hiding weapons underneath their clothes the entire time. More guards started piling in until there were nearly a hundred people packed into the Inn. While it was a large place, it never meant to hold so many people. The fighting was brutal and there was no room. Quickly, people started to get pushed up the stairs. Some of the fighting was headed directly towards Evin.
A man holding a candle in one hand and a short sword in the other. He tried to hand the candle to Evin, “Go light the signal. Let them know that the castle is ready for attack!”
Evin pushed the candle away from him. “What the hell are you talking about boy!”
“Damn you old man!” The guy said, shoving his sword into Evin's hand and pushing him aside. The boy ran past him and up the stairs.
Confusion overwhelmed Evin, but he figured that being confused while holding a sword was better than to not be holding a sword. At least in this situation, it was. He extended the sword out as far as it could allow him and prayed that he didn't have to use it.

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Dominic's walk was a quiet one. The streets of Newhaven at night recently were tranquil, making walking around a comfortable thing to do. Being a Knight gave him protection. His uniform protected him in the way armour wasn't usually meant to protect. It was intimidating to face a Knight, white or black, in the middle of the night. Even larger groups of people were hesitant to even be seen by the Knight in the streets. If they were seen, they'd scurry away like rats.
This allowed Dominic to walk to streets completely undisturbed. He was alone with his thoughts and it was comforting. He slipped his hands around his belt and dragged his feet across the cobblestone, making an awful scraping sound. It didn't take long for Dominic to realize that maybe it wasn't the best idea to do that in the middle of the night. He picked up his feet and continued on his way.
His thoughts drifted from the state of Newhaven to the state of Blackpond and finally to the world outside of Valcrest. He wondered what it was like on the other side. Many people, despite living through the hardship of war, never left Valcrest. There was something that kept everyone around. He didn't care to know why people never left, but he did wonder why he never left. He had had chances to go before. When in Blackpond, it was only a half days walk and he'd be officially out of the boarder. It was so close, but he never thought to go any further north. He'd make excuses for himself like how it was just too cold to go any further north, but in the summer time, that wasn't true. The South was too far a walk and word was that there wasn't much to the West of Valcrest. In the East, a big lake blocked the way. All of these reasons that Dominic had made from time to time were just a thinly placed veil that really just meant that he had too much to lose from leaving Valcrest. Despite the war, there was a lot for Dominic to lose if he left. He didn't want to lose it.
A light flashed through the street, illuminating it for the briefest moment. Another moment later, he heard a loud bang from behind him. An explosion? Dominic turned around and looked up at where the bang came from. All he could see, under the faint moonlight, was a small bit of smoke billowing from the middle of the night's sky. The explosion must have been a fire work. He turned back around and jumped a little. He hadn't heard them approach. For such a large group, he expected to hear at least one of them, but then, when he thought about it, the night had grown unbelievably silent.
The group was a malicious one, but one with noticeable fright in their eyes. Each one of them held a weapon, from swords to pitchforks and everything in between. At the back of the crowd, a man was holding a spadone. His eyes were aglow in a bright purple. When the Knight made eye contact with the enlightened user, his gaze slipped downwards.
Dominic didn't draw his claymore yet. He didn't see the need to. The group were obviously afraid of him, a Black Knight. They were probably hoping that he was merely just one of the guards, paroling the city centre. The man with the purple eyes had muted the world to him. That was how they'd gotten so close to him without him hearing them. When he turned and they saw he was actually a Knight, they froze in their spot, unsure of what to do. Dominic widened his stance. He was ready for a fight, but if he could intimidate the men enough for them to run off without conflict, he'd be satisfied.
The men's mouths moved, but Dominic couldn't hear what they were saying. With a few quick glances and hand movements, he gathered that they were conflicted on whether they would want to attack Dominic or not.
Then, one of the men looked just past Dominic with a look of panic in his eyes. He raised his hands and his mouth seemed to shape the word, “Don't”. Dominic gripped his sword and spun on his feet. The sword was unsheathed at unnatural speeds. The butt of the sword cracked across the scull of the man charging towards him. He fell to the ground, motionless. The group of new people brandishing weapons behind them stopped for only a moment to realize that Dominic had just cracked the man's skull open. A moment later, they charged the Knight. Dominic looked behind him and the men there were also charging now.
He lifted his sword, adjusting his grip as he took his left hand off the weapon to grab a shorter parrying blade from his hip. The first man to approach him was cut down quickly with a cut across the stomach. He swung his sword above and behind his head, deflecting a blow in front while parrying a woodcutter's axe in front of him.
At this moment, he realized that the men he was fighting were not warriors. They were simple folk. Only a few of them had real weapons. He didn't expect many of them to have any real fighting experience. As his sword swung back around to his front, he grabbed it, with his other hand, still holding the parrying blade. He pointed his sword forward, at level and pressed up against his hip, he charged forward. Most men jumped or dived out of the way of his blade's tip. The few that attempted an attack were either met by the tip of his blade or a quick slash across the various parts of their body that they left vulnerable.
At the end of the procession of people was the man with the purple eyes. He held his spadone in a slight variation of the near ward stance. Dominic halted almost instantly in his tracks, only just over a sword's length away from the man. He planted his feet firmly on the cobblestone road and adjusted his own stance. He held his sword with the pommel beside his ear, facing the tip directly at his opponent's face. He leaned very low into his stance, to the point where he was almost shorter than the man he was facing.
Dominic took a quick glance behind him to make sure he was safe from the mob behind him. As it turned out, they were gearing up for their next assault. Dominic couldn't keep himself held up on this single opponent for more than just a single second. Unfortunately, Dominic knew that this man had skill with the sword. He was going to need more than a second to effectively down this opponent.
He lifted his stance slightly, carefully moving in a half circle around to the other side of his opponent. This gave Dominic a clear view of every single fighter on the battlefield, giving himself a higher level of awareness as well as a clear path to run when he had the chance. First, the enlightened man had to die. He sunk into his stance again and waited for his opponent to make the first strike.
It came, as Dominic had expected, sweeping behind himself and up to strike down at Dominic's head. All Dominic had to do was shift his tip of his sword to the left, leaving the two men in a high bind above one another's heads. Dominic stepped forward and forced his opponent's sword down across Dominic's right side. With another step forward, Dominic shoulder checked the man, knocking him a couple of steps back. Dominic took the oprotunity and lunged forward, stabbing the man directly through the neck.
Instantly, the world's sounds boomed back into existence. The man fell with a hard thump. Part of the mob looked in astonishment. It was clear that the man who Dominic had faced was a skilled fighter, probably trained as an officer in the army. The ease at which Dominic was able to take down this man, probably someone who had been training this mob for some time in swordplay, caused the lines of this mob to rout. Dominic wouldn't have bother to chase after them if it weren't for the one man, who was obviously attempting to now take charge after the death of their other commander.
“Forget the Knight!” He shouted. “The men at the Inn will not be able to hold their lines forever. We need to take to the castle while the city guard is still distracted!”
Dominic's eyes widened and he attempted to chase after the mob. His armour didn't allow him the same mobility as the crowd though and he found himself lagging farther and farther behind. He wasn't going to be able to stop this mob, but he continued to pursue them anyway.

``````

Lazurus was beginning to feel better. He could walk without fearing collapse now, but he still propped himself up against the wall as he walked through the empty halls of the castle. A trail of blood followed his path across the wall. He tried to keep to the less patrolled parts of the castle as best he could, but that was only going to keep him safe for a while. Before turning a corner, he peeked by to see if there was anyone coming. After about the third hall, he started to hear shouts from another part of the castle. The sound of steel also rang through the halls.
Lazurus was unsure of what he was hearing. It left him weary of moving forward, but he had to. There was no chance in turning back now. The guards would find for sure and he'd be thrown into maximum security until the baby was born. He couldn't have that happen. He needed to get the baby back to Blackpond before it was too late. Without Ella's baby, everything would be for naught.
He pressed forward more, listening to the clash of metal on metal and stone. It was getting closer or was he just getting closer to it? He was afraid to find out.
Then, from behind him, he heard shouts. “There she is!” Lazurus slowly turned. He didn't have the energy to fight. He was going to lose this one. “Walden, get her back to her bedchambers and keep posted outside her door. Thanh, go find more guards to post outside the door. I'll join the fight.”
The three men ran their separate ways. Only one guard was was left to bringing him back to the bedroom. Did they know what happened in that room? Had they seen what she did to their guards, their friends? If they did, they would've likely left more than one guard to him.
“Move along.” Walden said, in a cold tone.
Lazurus decidedly didn't fight. He couldn't fight. He barely had the energy to keep from falling over. His escape was over. He had no chance whatsoever of escape now. Lamya wouldn't ever come to his rescue. That is, unless she flipped a coin and it just so happened to land on its side so she decided to do something out of the ordinary that day. Actually, who knew how that woman actually decided anything. It was intriguing to him, but nothing that he really bothered to ever understand.
“Hold on.” Walden said as they reached the end of the hall.
Lazurus stopped and sluggishly turned around. “What's the pr—”
Walden stood before Lazurus, with his sword pressed right up against Ella's protruding stomach. Walden's eyes wild with thought as he stared at the end of his blade.
“Do it.” Lazurus said so quietly that it was nearly inaudible. Walden's eyes softened a little when he did. The pressure of the sword lightened on his stomach. “Come on Walden. Do it. I've always wanted to meet Death. I want to know what she feels like. What she looks like, what she smells like, what she... what she tastes like. Most people run from the idea, but I lured towards it. My life ends soon anyways. I know that, but the closer I get to Her sweet kiss, the closer I get to blowing in anticipation.”
Walden took a step back. The blade was no longer pressing against his surrogate’s skin.
“I said do it!” Lazurus shouted. “I know why you want to do it. Killing the Demon of Newhaven would be seen as heroic in some circles. Even if it did mean sacrificing the Page bloodline. That matters very little. There have been several dynasties to rule over Newhaven in its history. Maybe you could find a ruler fit to rule instead of this indecisive girl you see standing before you. And who's to say that the child is going to be any better a ruler? Maybe, through some brilliant series of events you will end up on the throne. Just end the life of your prince, your queen, and the wretched thing that has sullied her and then who knows? Just do it.”
As his final sentence echoed through the halls, another sound cracked above it. Then a hard thud. Walden collapsed to the ground with a crossbow bolt jutting out of his back. Behind him, a small group of men in a hodgepodge of armour and weapons. They all looked down the hall, past the fallen man, every single one of them straightening up when they saw what was beyond Walden. As more men ran into the hall, they stopped with immediacy at the exact same spot that the rest of the group stood. They were saying things, but Lazurus couldn't make them out at that distance.
Finally, the man with the crossbow started walking towards Lazurus. Lazurus started walking towards the man too, which caused the man to flinch just the slightest. Lazurus, however, stopped at Walden. He bent down and pulled the arrow out. Blood soaked the tip and it slowly dripped down the shaft onto his hand. He moved it towards his face and took a deep breath in. “Have you ever wondered what Death tastes like?” Lazurus said to no one in particular.
“What?” He looked up to see the man with he crossbow right in front of him.
Lazurus dabbed his finger in the blood around the shaft and then placed his finger gently onto his tongue. “I imagine that she tastes like blood. But then, everyone's blood tastes different...”
Lazurus didn't even try to resist. The man with the crossbow tied him up and hoisted him over his shoulders.

The setting changes from newhaven to Blackpond

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Evin Bana Character Portrait: Dominic Adams Character Portrait: Jake Turner Character Portrait: Ella Page
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[Otium 18th, Morning]

Rita let her go. She watched Lamya walk out of the door and didn't do anything to stop her. It would be next to impossible to track her now. She'd let Rita find her if it was Lamya's desire. Now, Rita had one promise to rely on and a tip where she may find her. That was all she had to go from and there wasn't a reason to believe any of it. Lamya didn't believe in honesty. Honesty went against her code.

These thoughts of Lamya rushed through her head as she stood in front of the Blackpond war room. Alone; still, within the barren hallway that Rita had yet to decorate. No structure was in place for castle guards yet. The castle was empty for the most part, save for a motley crew of guards scattered along the castle's hall. This was one of many reasons why Rita and her war council had to have this meeting. Many things needed clearing up before Blackpond would be in working order again. Roles needed reassignment, laws needed rewriting, the nobility restructured. What Rita and her war council had in front of them was a difficult range of mountains the new rule had yet to surmount. It was what Blackpond needed. Rita took a deep breath before she pushed open the doors to let herself into the room.

A small council of five people were sitting at a table, pages tossed about the table with reckless abandonment. Each of the five stood upon Rita's entrance.
"Sit down, everyone. We're all equals in this room until we've established who the real leaders of Blackpond are. Let's get to it."
The room sat in silence for a moment, each person looking at one another for approval before taking their seats again. Rita found her seat and joined them at the table. Nothing she could do would prepare her for the long day of discussion that lay ahead.

The six people all looked around the room. Rita noted each expression and tried to make sense of where they were at. They were apprehensive. Some of them more than others. Some of them likely didn't want to be at this meeting, but they had no choice. Arcadius Trivelli, for example, was a military man, through and through. He wasn't much for diplomacy. The only time he felt comfortable sitting was when it was on the back of his spirited warhorse. Brute force in the face of adversity was his forté and while not always the answer, it still commanded respect.

After a prolonged silence Oswald Valkenburg was the first to speak. He was a patient man, choosing his moments with care. "What do we do now?" He asked. "The military campaign is over and the city is ours again. We fought, but we didn't place any thought on who would lead when this was over."

"Isn't that why we're here?" Brianna Westall said in reply. "To decide on a leader?"

Brianna was a formidable officer. She committed to risking everything to achieve her goals. Sometimes it scared Rita knowing how close to defeat Brianna would go in securing a victory, but she her methods never failed her. Some would call it crazy, but Rita saw it for what it was: abstract. For that reason alone, Rita saw Brianna's tactics as an asset.

"And I thought we were here to discuss religion. We can go beating around the bush all we want, but I think everyone in this room can agree. It's time to jump to the conclusion of this meeting. Rita will reject the idea vehemently for a couple of hours, but cave to it eventually. She's going to be our next Queen, it's only a matter of time before she realises this fact herself." Mayson Coffman proposed. He was the outspoken wit of Rita's army. Fun to have around but at times, a nuisance.

"I won't accept that. I'm not meant to lead a city. I struggle leading an army sometimes. The only reason I'm useful is because I can see the battlefield from a bird's eye view." Rita said.

"You took the city back," Oswald said.

"I was handed the city," Rita said.

"It doesn't matter, much, does it? Which one of us would be better at ruling the city? You were closest to the royals before the death of Rory. You would know better than any of us how this city should run." Arcadius said.

"I know next to nothing that went on in Rory's rule over the city. I was like one of you, an officer of Commander Hastings' army." Rita said.

"She's right, you know," said Korvin Strongwell, who had up until that moment, remained silent. "None of us are close to understanding how to run the city. With the fire from earlier this year, we no longer have the resources to learn for ourselves."

"You spend more time in that library than you do the battlefield. You're telling us that you've never read anything about City politics?" Arcadius asked flippantly.

Korvin edged his gaze towards Arcadius. Cool and collected, but direct with his intent. Rita shifted in her seat slightly. It was as if the room's lights had all flickered out at once. Although relaxed, Korvin was prone to bouts of energy that he would direct on his enemies. It was useful in battle but in a discussion, it was a deadly detriment.

"What an immense waste of time for a warrior to read of politics," Korvin said. Mayson scoffed but Korvin didn't skip a syllable as he continued. "I spent my time in the library reading through the largest collection of battle records known to Valcrest. Something a jokester such as you, Mayson, could find beneficial."

"Okay, let's settle down for a moment!" Brianna stepped in to defuse the conflict.

Oswald continued by saying, "let me get this straight. A group of assassins could run a city but we couldn't? I have a hard time believing that."

"This city wasn't a city while it was under their power. Their only means of political tactics were assassinations of any and all dissenters." Rita said.

"Surely that wasn't their only tactic. Why don't we speak to him; the guy that gave you the city?" Oswald asked.

The whole room looked to Rita. The suggestion was a promising one. One that could get insight into the workings of Blackpond from the people who ran it before them. They might have known more than the military leaders would. Surely they'd know more. Assassins had an air about them, making them look like they could achieve anything. That was the propaganda spread by the Wolves in their threatening days, which made them true shadows of any creed. All this told to her in the eyes of each of the five people looking at her for answers.

"After she gave me the city, she started to walk out the room. I told her that she wasn't going to leave this room alive. The crimes she committed against the city and it's people were too great to let pass. She turned around and before she could get another word out, I killed her." Rita said.

"Are you okay, Rita?" Mayson asked.

Rita looked down at her hands. She was grasping papers that were in front of her on the table. When she let go, the papers remained in their crumpled form, jumping off the table. Korvin and Arcadius rose from their seats and fumbled along the floor to grab the papers.

"I'm alright. My point is," she looked around the table, "she is no longer around. She can't help us." Both those statements were true. Lamya wasn't around and even if she were, she wouldn't be of any help. It was best to let the group believe she was dead than have them searching for the woman on their own. She hoped.

Briana chose this moment to interject. "It might be time for us to choose something new. Why not start with the six of us? We can rule the city as a collective. Making choices together, like we do on the battlefield."

"Because that worked well for us already."

"Enough of the unwanted comments, Mayson. The more people who are making decisions for the city, the better off we will be. We can shoot down stupid choices and discuss choices that don't have clear answers." Brianna continued.

"You suggest we vote on decisions; the six of us?" Oswald asked.

"Exactly."

"And if we split the vote?"

Brianna thought about it for a moment. "We have a seventh member. A swing vote."

"That sounds rather corruptable. The swing could side with one person on every issue. They'd become the de facto king or queen with all the power of the council."

"I don't know. What do you think, Rita?" Brianna asked.

"What?"

Rita hadn't been listening for the past couple of minutes. Her mind was elsewhere, looking down at the papers that she'd crumpled which Korvin and Arcadius did their best to decrease. Her mind leapt back to Lamya again. It was the same thing, over and over. She couldn't forget that Lamya was on the loose and what that meant for her and everyone around her. For anyone Lamya chose to cross paths with. No new thoughts were passing through her head. Not for the past day since she saw the woman last, but her mind fixated on it.

Now her lie made things complicated. She couldn't ask for help. She couldn't put Lamya on trial. Rita would have to settle things are her own, without the knowledge of her closest of advisors to help.

"We were wondering what you thought about us six making all the choices and voting on the matters. The only problem is that there are six of us and to have a single swing vote could prove to be disastrous." Korvin repeated.

"All we need is more than one swing vote," Rita said.

"Of course!" Mayson said.

"Shut up," Brianna said to defuse Mayson again.

"I'd say nine more people would be good. That would round us out to 15 people." Arcadius said.

"So a small council of 6 and then 9 more to make a large council of 15 that could vote when the small council is divided," Oswald said. "It sounds solid."

"Now comes to fun part," Mayson said with a sarcastic smile. "The fine details."

Mayson was right. The group sat in the room for the next two hours discussing how exactly this council system would work. They decided on how long each term would be. How the council would elect a new member when the term was over. They decided on who might fit the bill to be on the large council. By the time they finished, each member felt confident that the city was now in competent hands.


[Otium 18th, Midday] Raven's Nest

Jake had been told about Evin’s presence the day of his arrival but decided to keep his distance at first. They hadn’t actually spoken two words to one another in a long time, but as of late, he was constantly running into the man wherever he went. It made that silence heavier for some reason and, even though Jake didn’t know what he’d even have to say to Evin in the first place, he felt compelled to break it. He thought about what good could come of that, he thought it about it most of the night as he watched over Ess’ sleep, he thought it about it during his morning drills... And he had no idea. Matthew had made a comment about it maybe being a good idea having Evin there, but when Jake asked what he meant the man said they’d talk about it later, that it wasn’t time yet. Something in his words made Jake uneasy, but he pushed it aside for ‘later’, not much else to do about that. Jake had learned a long time ago that it was impossible to trick any information out of Matthew.

After lunch Jake left the mess hall and made his way to the little storage shed Evin had holed up in, knocking on the door and not awaiting a response before going in and closing it behind his back. “You know, there might something to be said about you kidnapping the queen, but... coming to think of it... Not the first time you stole the kid, is it? That’s not that surprising to me, but... You being here is, though. Never considered this to be a place you’d run to, regardless of how much you may trust the Captain.”

The storage shed Evin had found was an adequate space for living. He had managed to create a small bed for Ella using a broken table and some torn fabrics that he'd found. And while his hair was now covered in cobwebs, he had managed to occupy his time by organising the space to provide him with a little more space. The space, while cramped was just enough for Evin. Hardly enough for the monster hijacking Ella's body, though. In Ella's waking hours, Evin would listen to the constant complaints of the living conditions. It was hard to imagine that this person was skilled enough to do anything let alone steal a dying girl's body.
Evin was just about to use the new space he'd acquired to work out and train when he heard footsteps outside his door. A sudden dread raced through him. He'd have done his best to avoid it, but he knew that coming to the Nest, he'd be bound to face it. Before Jake even revealed himself, Evin seemed to know exactly who it was. He knew that the two of them could only go on avoiding each other for so long. This had to come to a head at some point. That point was now.
“Thank you for the reminder,” Evin said in reference to Ella. “When first I stole her, she was practically dead. This time, she's a corpse. I'd rather she be in my hands than in the hands of a young, headstrong resistance leader, though.” He paused to see if Ella was still sleeping. “I don't run from anything, Jake. I'm not like you. I came here because I couldn't tell you the first thing about birthing a child. I figure that it'd be best that Ella's child be born in the arms of my friends.”

“I find that hard to believe,” Jake spoke with a shrug, leaning against the wall beside the door and staring at the man a mix of amusement and veiled contempt. “Not that you’re nothing like me; that is much clear, but I highly doubt you don’t run from anything. I’m pretty damn sure that running into all the things you do on a regular basis is nothing more than a way to escape something. I can just picture you setting off explosions out there as a way to drown out your own thoughts.”

Jake’s gaze softened momentarily as he looked at Ella. The girl was gone. He had to remember that. Crys had said she was still there; weak, fading, but there. Even so, there was no saving Ella’s life. He didn't know the girl well, but if she was still enduring all this, he had to acknowledge; she was tougher at her core than she would ever be given credit for. “And then what?” He asked. “I’m assuming this child has a father, no?”

“The only thing I ever ran from is my best friend and I swore I'd never do that again. If that means I'm running from my true, cowardly self, then so be it. I don't drown out my thoughts. Some people I know might drown problems, but that's not me. I let my thoughts out. I'm honest with my feelings and I express them and I feel like my actions reflect that nicely.” Evin's gaze narrowed. He thought for a moment if he had ever punched Jake. He knew he'd done so in training, but that was hardly worth anything. A good punch, without warning or any real reason. Just bottled up frustration with the boy. While pleasurable, it would accomplish nothing. Evin relaxed just a little, placing his hands in his pockets as there was no better place to keep them contained.
“For all I know, the father's died the night I kidnapped her. That's a question for another time.” Evin closed his eyes and let out a loud, audible sigh. “Did you just come here to trade insults or is there a reason for this intrusive visit?”

Jake chuckled at Evin’s question. “Insults? Who’s insulting who here?” He asked, smirking at the man. “I am, whether either one of us likes it, the highest ranking Raven in this camp, Evin. So I’d consider you dragging kidnapped dying royalty in here to be much my business. Especially now.” He quietly rubbed the bridge of his nose, feeling an all too familiar sting of pain behind his eyes. “Pardon my intrusion, however. Are you comfortable? Can I get you anything?” He asked, lowering his hand and crossing both arms over his chest. “And surely, you’re a shining example of emotional stability; my apologies for implying otherwise. I honestly don’t know what could have given me that idea.”

Jake shook his head as if realising the amount of sarcasm that had come out of him at once and mentally scolding himself. “I don’t think it’s ever too early to start asking some questions. Who knows, if more questions were asked three years ago, maybe this kid wouldn’t have ended up where she is now; wherever that may be.”

Evin restrained himself for long enough. He did his best to contain himself when around Jake most times, but he could only hold back the seething anger he felt for so long. His eyes sparked a shining black and like a flash, his fist connected with Jake's jaw. Time raced back to its regular pace and that's when Evin began to feel the pain. It was more intense than usual. He keeled over as if he'd been punched in the gut himself. It was only after a few moments that he began to feel the pain in his fist. The punch wasn't proper. In his anger, he'd forgotten his technique. It was a dirty, street punch like none other that he'd given to someone. The pain he felt in his hand was satisfying in a way peculiar to Evin, but the pain in his stomach was disturbing. Reality seemed to snap back to him.
“We both want the same things yet somehow we devolve into this. You're a real ass, you know that?”

There was no time to react. Evin’s fist had connected before Jake could process what was happening and still; he couldn’t say he didn’t see it coming. The assassin’s punch had pushed Jake’s head against the wall behind him and left him with a lingering ache in the back of his head as well as his jaw. It wasn’t what Jake would call a proper punch by any means, but he would still be feeling it for a while. “Did you always want to be a Wolf, Evin? When I was a kid, I wanted to be a Knight. I thought knights protected people; I wanted to always be able to protect those around me.” Jake mumbled, sliding down the wall and sitting on the floor, rubbing his temples. “I never wanted to be a Wolf. Dani was one of two people I admitted that to at the time of my expulsion. She knew that I only came back; the only reason I would ever, was because Crys said she needed me...” Jake snorted softly. “And I’m always going to wonder, if part of the reason she sent me to Newhaven was to give me a way out, or if she just outright used me. Likewise, I’ll always be the one who killed her... You’re always going to be the guy who cut off a piece of my ear... Some things simply cannot be mended for the sake of any greater good. They are what they are.” Jake sighed. “Regardless, I meant what I said; about the kid. It’s not too soon to think about it, especially if the father’s gone. Ella’s mother put her in that orphanage to keep her safe. If not for The Shadow; for us, it might have worked.”

Jake went on about his life as if it were important. As if the fact that he chose to be a Knight was important. As if killing Dani was important and as if a superficial loss of his ear garnered importance. He was right, these were all things that couldn't be taken back. He spoke as if fate was a factor in all this. However, there was no merit to fate. “They are what they are,” Evin repeated.
“I never had the chance to not want to be a Wolf, Jake. I was a Wolf the moment that I was born into the camp. It wasn't something that I wanted or even something that I didn't want, for that matter. It was who I was. Through and through. Ella was the same. She was a Page and the Page family is royal. From the moment of her birth until her unnaturally long death, she's been royal. Hiding her in an orphanage didn't change that fact. Disguising her as a Wolf didn't change that either. And in the end, her death wasn't a consequence of any of these events. The events that happened in that ballroom lived in their own little world, Jake.”

“Pawns will be pawns... and Kings will be Kings... Like little pieces of a chess board, right? You can tell yourself that all you want, Evin. The world can tell itself that all it wants. I see how that’s reassuring. To strip choice from the equation, take away responsibility...” Jake laughed softly. “If Ella was always a Royal and nothing would change that, then why bring her to the forest, to begin with? Why train her in the first place if she was never going to truly be a Wolf? She was already a royal then, the only difference was no one knew. Dani said she had potential then. So, when people did know, did she change? Did all that potential die? I don’t want to throw this in your face, but I find it amusing that Sean was the one who fought for her to stay. And I’m not saying that would have been better, but I’m saying it was still an option.” Jake sighed, pushing himself to stand before the task became too difficult, swaying a bit in place. “You do what you have to, Evin, or find someone who will... I admit it’s not my business; not one bit, and this won’t be one of the many things keeping me up at night.”

“This girl was passed around her entire life. She went from castle to orphanage, back to the castle, to the dungeons, to the Wolves, to another dungeon before finally, she found her way back to the castle. Only once did she ever have a choice in the matter of where to go. Ella could have stayed with the Wolves. She could have chosen to go off and live a normal life, too. If she wanted to, she could have. I was her mentor. You know what happened to Owen. Did you just expect me to leave her with the man who’d just admitted to attempting to kill Crys? I gave her to Ria and then Ella chose to go to Newhaven instead of the desert. Ella was like the daughter I nev--”
“How sweet.” The young voice of the girl who Evin had thought was sleeping said. “You didn’t kidnap Ella to keep the baby safe, did you? You just want to hold onto your precious baby girl a little longer.”
“Now is not the time to be aggravating me.” Evin retorted.
“Oh, or what? You’ll hit me like you did to the jackass over there? I’d dare you to punch your precious little pregnant girl.”

“Evin, might not be able to, but I would, so I suggest you shut it.” Jake warned, not seeming at all fazed by the interruption and continuing to address Evin as though ‘Ella’ had never spoken. “I understand the facts, Evin. And that’s exactly the point. Ella’s life was mostly driven by desperation; her mother left her out of desperation, we dragged her to the forest to save her life, the White Knights were after her in some desperate attempt to restore order to Newhaven... By the time she had any choice, how was she expected to know what she wanted or who she even was? However there is a chance here to do for this child what was never done for her and, if there truly is no longer a father, maybe you and Captain should discuss this amongst yourselves. If anyone cared about that girl as much as you, it’s her. Think about it.”

“Are you suggesting I raise the child? I’m too old for it, Jake. Ria’s close to being too old for it. Hell, I’m nearing 38 now. When that child’s matured, I’ll be nearing my 60’s. As stressful as my life is now, I couldn’t do it. We couldn’t do it.” Evin said. Then he chuckled. “Who knows, I might not even make it past next month with all things considered.”
“It’s amazing that you brought me all this way without a plan,” Ella said, the tone mocking.
“There is another reason I’m here,” Evin said, ignoring the fact that he was being mocked. “I’m following leads on a person. He goes by the name of Wyatt. Seems to have been involved with Xypher in attempting to remove Ria from Newhaven. He also seems to know that I’m looking for him. Following me in bars, assassinating people who may have known about him. It almost reminds me of Perry in a way. It almost scares me how similar they are.”

Jake was silent for a few moments, a goofy look of amusement spreading across his features as he was clearly trying to imagine Evin and Mageria teaming up to raise a baby. While he managed to burst out laughing he did chuckle briefly. “Look, all I’m saying is that when a child loses both parents it should be up to their closest family to decide their fate. Whether or not the child’s mother was Queen shouldn’t change that. The fact of the matter is, you and Captain are the closest to a family this kid’s gonna have, so whatever is decided, you should at least decide together.” He shrugged.

Jake continued to ignore the necromancer, Evin’s mention of the name Wyatt peaking his interest. “Wyatt? That’s odd. Ali mentioned meeting a Wyatt at the ball in Blackpond. She described him as a redhead teenager, said he was in the company of this blonde couple and the woman seemed to be trying to kidnap Donovan. She distinctly remembered warning Ryan about them.”

Evin was interested, but not captivated by Allison’s encounter with a Wyatt. The description didn’t seem to fit what he was looking for. A teenager wouldn’t have the influence or skills to do what the Wyatt Evin was looking for could. The Wyatt he was looking for was a killer who had a way with words. That much, Evin could infer. How common of a name was Wyatt? He couldn’t think of any other Wyatt’s that he knew. The thief, Lionel likely used the name for himself because of its obscurity.
“I’m not sure if it’s the same Wyatt, but I’ll keep it in mind.”
Evin looked over to Ella again for a moment. She was twitching. It wasn’t an uncommon sight. Every once in awhile, the host would seem to disappear into Ella’s body and then the convulsions would start. Evin wasn’t quite sure what was going on but figured he wouldn’t worry himself over it too much.
“He can’t hear us right now,” Evin said, motioning to Ella. “If you want to say it… or anything for that matter, now would be the time.”

“It’s probably not the same, no, but maybe this person has some connection to your Wyatt. I mean, it’s plausible the man isn’t working alone. By your own comparison, I’m still not convinced The Shadow didn’t have people backing him. Impressive as his manipulative skills were, no one impersonates a king for that long without someone noticing.”

Jake stared at Ella’s twitching form, pondering Evin’s words. Some things were probably best left unsaid. Left alone. Buried. He sighed. “I went by the Wolves camp while they were preparing Sean for burial... I did promise him I’d return his knife after all... The clan seems to be falling behind Donovan now. I’m not sure whether it’s official yet, but... Suppose he’s just as good a candidate for Alpha as the next guy. The Pack and I will likely never be in good terms again, considering what I’ve done, but for the rest of you, the animosity hopefully died with Sean.”

Evin nodded his head at Jake. It was true, Sean’s death marked the end of many things to many people. To Evin, it marked the end of his connections with the Wolfpack. Everyone who kept him to the Wolfpack was either dead or had defected. Everything that Evin had built his life on was now completely unaffiliated with the Wolfpack. All his friends, companions, rivals, and associates were now bigger than what the Wolfpack had become. “I see cooperation in the future for the two of us. As long as you can keep yourself from killing my good friends, I think we can make this work. The past did die with Sean. I think it’s time to start anew.”

Jake couldn’t help but arch an eyebrow at Evin’s words about the past dying with Sean. It sounded unusually optimistic to him coming from Evin, but he wasn’t going to bring that up or argue the man’s statement. There’d be no point. He just nodded along instead. “That seems fair, I guess,” he answered calmly, rubbing his aching jaw as he took his leave.

------------------

Simon didn't bother wondering too far from where Jake had left him. There wasn't anything that he was after in the Raven's Nest. Simon's goal was singular. The campsite was just a resting spot until the opportunity arose and he was in no particular hurry rise. Nothing rushed him to complete his task. As long as he had the dagger, Simon didn't have to worry. His only worry rested with the wolf.

Simon didn't dislike dogs. He wasn't so sure about wolves. That wasn't what bothered him about his new companion, though. It all came down to Simon's pride. To have to be babysat by a dog brought Simon back to childhood when dogs would be used as a way to ensure Simon's safety from himself. When mother couldn't bother to take care of him, the family dog was always there to make sure Simon was safe. Now, many years later, Simon found himself in a similar position before. The only relief being that in Simon's metaphor for treating him as a child, Jake was Simon's mother. An amusing thought, but meaningless beyond Simon's headspace. The worry of the dog in itself was a meaningless thought which meant Simon could continue on, not caring for his predicament.

It was a spacious little area which Simon had been brought. By all means, one could almost call this encampment a town. It functioned much like any other town, except for the limitations to who may enter said camp. It was a military base before anything else, less involved in their previous obligations to Newhaven than before. Their obligations were elsewhere, now. Where they were, Simon couldn't discern from his limited view. He could have slipped into the various people's minds as they rushed by him. Maybe they could give him some insight. Did he care for insight? What would it gain him? It was possible that he'd gain nothing but at the same time, it was possible that he gained valuable information. It was also a waste of his time. What else would I do with my time?

Simon was right. There wasn't anything worthwhile to do in the camp. With the risk of a misstep resulting in a face ripped apart by a wolf, Simon preferred to stay on the safe side. It would be straightforward to get away with slipping into other people's minds unnoticed. The use of Simon's enlightenment was unassuming on most occasions.

There was a large rock propped by a tree. He ushered Rick to stand by the rock while Simon sat against the rock. He closed his eyes and when he opened them, he'd become attuned to the thoughts of the people around him. Most prevalent were the thoughts of Rick, deprived of logic and filled with depravities Simon preferred not to focus on. Broadening his thought, he started to catch glimpses of the people closest to him. A woman who was looking for her husband. A man who couldn't grasp the concept of swimming in the nearby river. Children hoping no one would catch them sneaking into the armoury to get a close look at all the interesting weapons. A conversation where two were dancing around the real talking points. And a mind all too familiar.

Simon snapped out of it. All the intrusive thoughts around him disappeared. He leapt off the ground, searching his surroundings for a specific face. The wolf growled, looking up at Simon with teeth bared and hair at attention. Simon settled back into the rock but didn't take his gaze off the wolf for one moment. While keeping a close eye on the wolf, he started to focus his thoughts again, looking for the familiar thoughts again.

It didn't take Simon long at all to focus back into the thought. To find where it was coming from wasn't all too difficult, either. He was just across the river and a couple dozen feet away from the person he was looking for.

"I never expected to find a mind so familiar to me when I ended up here. How did you end up here?" Simon asked the mind.

"I was kidnapped." The mind replied. "And you?"

Simon thought about that for a moment. Why would the Ravens feel a need to kidnap the queen from Newhaven? It wasn't a particular matter for him.

"I found Rick, but I also ended up finding the Black Knights. I have something now I've been put on quite a tight leash."

"You're going to give it to Vorso like you were instructed?" The mind asked.

"No," Simon said

"So you'll give it to Lamya?"

"I wouldn't give Lamya my socks."

"This isn't the smart thing to do, Simon. You're just going to abandon the Conflict like that?"

"The Conflict has never been a single entity. We are just a group of opportunists. Vorso, Lamya... you."

"I'm winning the war for Blackpond. I'm the closest thing to the Conflict's original purpose than anyone in this group is."

"Don't play me that way. I know more about you than you can ever comprehend. I know what you want better than you do." Simon said.

"I want Blackpond to win the war."

"Ella's an interesting woman. There's an interesting chapter about her in a book stored away somewhere in the White Shadows' archives. Myths of Medicine. You went to the archives that one time when Rory had us do reconnaissance, didn't you? How old were we again? Fifteen? Do remember what chapter it was? Don't hurt your brain, I know you don't but if you want, I could unlock that memory for you."

"You know, I never liked you."

"I know. To be frank, I don't care what you do. I don't care what any of you Valcrestians do as long as you aren't getting in my way."

Simon cut off the contact with the mind. Paying attention to reality again, he looked across the river to where the mind had come from. It was a small supply shed. From out the door, Jake walked out into the open. He thought about playing with Jake. Invading his mind and asking him why the Queen was in the camp. He decided against it. There was no need to provoke Jake anymore than he was already.

He looked back down to the wolf that was before him. Not having a particular need to provoke it, either, he decided to go off to find some food.


[Otium 18th, Evening] Blackpond

Rita looked around the room of Blackpond's new council. All fifteen members were now in the room. Present to hear what they were being offered. She knew some of them may reject their position and it was their right to do as they please. Every one of the people in the room was once a member of Rita's army. Most of them were competent generals and officers but there was an unlikely few that had been faceless soldiers to Rtia a short time before. They'd only had their chance to join the Large Council by recommendation of the new Small Council members who'd helped iron out Blackponds new political structure. It was important to have a mixture of people unknown to all of the Small Council Members. It allowed for diversity of opinions and was something Rita hoped would be beneficial to Blackpond's success from this point forward.

"We've spent the entire day discussing at great lengths what needs to be done to make this work. I can't guarantee that it will work and I'm sure we will run into problems but this is how things are going to be. The Small Council will consist of the six people who have been in discussion over the past ten hours. Those people are Oswald Valkenburg, Korvin Strongwell, Mayson Coffman, Brianna Westbrook, Arcadius Trivelli, and Ritania Lavoie-Hastings. The rest of you will sit on the Large Council if you so choose. Feel free to leave. We will find a replacement. If you wish to stay, we'll be discussing what your roles shall be in this new government."


[Otium 19th, Midnight] Not far from Blackpond

Dominic sat upright in his bed. He had been staring at the wardrobe in the corner of the room for what seemed like an hour now. It's bland features started blending into the wall as Dominic drifted in and out of conscious thought. For brief moments, he would be interrupted by the sound of Conrad or Wyatt turning in their sleep only to be drawn back to the corner of the room where he would continue to mindlessly drift through his thoughts.

There was no reason that Dominic was doing this. He was tired, but couldn't really sleep. He thought maybe it had something to do with Ella or possibly with the thought of Newhaven being crippled from the inside by revolutionaries. That wasn't the reason Dominic had trouble sleeping, though. He had moments like this before. Moments where he knew that he was facing a certain level of danger. It was the night before a battle. He'd only experienced it when he was certain that he was going to fight. This time, there was no sign that a fight was near.

"You can't sleep either?"

Dominic jumped to his feet but sat back down when he saw Wyatt adjusting himself upright in his bed. "No."

Wyatt didn't reply. He just stared back at Dominic. He supposed Wyatt expected him to continue his thoughts. Dominic went back to staring at the corner of the room, but he continued to look back at Wyatt who was just staring at Dominic. No real expression was on his face and he didn't seem at all willing to continue the conversation himself. Dominic let out a sigh.

"I've this feeling in my gut," Dominic said. "Can't place my finger on it."

"Do you suppose--"

"I can't place my finger on it."

Wyatt sluggishly slipped out of his bed. He walked into Dominic's vision, jolting Dominic out of his trance with the wall in front of him. "I was going to ask, do you suppose that it has something to do with the fact that even if you reclaim Ella from her assassin captor that she's practically dead anyway? At least, by all accounts, it sounds like she's a dead girl walking."

"No." Dominic paused for a moment but remembered that attempting to end this conversation was just leading to more anxiety. He continued. "I didn't become a knight to save the queen. I did it to preserve Sun and Moon's vision when they created Newhaven."

"And you know that vision?" Wyatt said.

"I wish I knew the exact answer to that. Have you ever felt that there is something bigger than you that you must achieve without knowing how to get there?"

"Long ago, yes," Wyatt said.

"You're just a kid. No older than Ella, at least. What would you know about, 'long ago'?" Dominic said.

Wyatt rolled his eyes at Dominic like anyone his age might do to someone undercutting their thoughts based on their age. Dominic didn't want to get into an argument with a kid over something like this, so he just avoided the question altogether. "I just know that Sun and Moon had a vision. If they didn't they wouldn't have created Newhaven to begin with. I'm fairly certain that Newhaven isn't nearly what it was like when Sun and Moon created it. Valcrest isn't anything that it was then, I imagine."

"I suppose you're right. That's what you're gut is telling you?"

"It has nothing to do with that. You asked me if it had to do with Ella and we got on this tangent. Like I said, I wasn't sure what my gut was telling me when you started this conversation and that fact hasn't changed in the last five minutes that we've been spent talking." Dominic said.

"Sorry. Does it have anything to do with the group that's been following us since we left Newhaven?"

"What?" Dominic asked.

"The five men that have been following us. You haven't noticed them. I don't think they're after us if that's any consolation. If I were to make a guess, I'd say that they're after something like us. Maybe they're hoping we'll lead them to it? I'm not sure, but that's what I'd do if I were them. They'll likely try to get the jump on us just before we reach our goal."

Dominic had gotten out of his bed while Wyatt was talking. He'd walked over to the window, next to Conrad's bed. Just a dirt path. What did he expect at that time of night? Across the road, there was another house not unlike the one that the three of them were staying in for the night. Dominic caught a glimpse of something on the roof. He peered towards it and then another movement caught his attention. A curtain in the window across the way ruffled a bit as a hand pushed open a window. He then caught a man coming from around the side of the house. He opened the front door. from behind the shadows of the door, Dominic caught a familiar flash. He ducked as the window he'd been staring out of shattered. A thud behind him. The wardrobe behind him splintered and a crossbow bolt stuck itself deep into the wood. Dominic looked back up through the window. He just caught a leg crawling through the window from the house across the way.

"What the hell is going on!" Conrad shouted. He'd already gotten out of bed, hardly clothed and brandishing his weapons that he'd left leaning against his bedside table.

Dominic didn't reply. Another crossbow bolt came flying through the window. This time, it whizzed just past Dominic's ear. He rushed out of the room, to the ground level where he'd left his weapon. Conrad followed not too far behind. Dominic didn't bother to check to see if Wyatt had followed them, too. Dominic busted through the door. Two men were standing there. Waiting for him. Dominic brandished the tip of his blade directly at one of the men in a threatening stance, but he didn't strike. He had more honour than to strike an unarmed opponent, even given their threatening nature.

The man didn't flinch. He stood there, almost stoic. "I don't mean to be so threatening. I only wish to show off my group's talents. We aren't after the queen and we aren't after you. We're after a man whose betrayed our cause and it just so happens that he's gone in the same direction as your queen's abductor. Would you at all be opposed to a tentative partnership?"

Dominic looked behind the man. His attackers had dropped all their weapons and slipped out of the shadows. He then looked back at Conrad and Wyatt who were just behind him.

"I'm not sure what you're angle is," Dominic said. He was weary of these men for good reason but it wouldn't be the first time that a Black Knight had worked with dubious and deceitful people. He'd already picked up Wyatt, who still wasn't too clear about his motives. "I suppose we can at least talk about it. Come in."