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Safir Garethson

Recruited Knight serving the Children

0 · 610 views · located in Norr

a character in “The Gift: Chapter Three”, as played by Arke

Description

In Description...
Full Name:Safir Garethson

Age: 24

Gender: Male

Race: Human

Class: Knight

Physical Description: Rough in appearance, he appears older than he actually is with his broad face, strong structure, and long sideburns. His hair is brown, paired with dark eyes and full lips that is pulled down in a frown. It gives him a stern appearance, coupled by his height of 6'8 feet and thick bone structure makes him a very intimidating man. He has a couple of scars from practice accidents, but are nothing serious and most are healed over fairly well. He weighs well over 200 pounds, most of it being muscle.

Image

When not wearing his armor, he is dressed in a light tunic of varying color and some thick trousers. He still keeps his sword belted around his side, as if it was a measure of protection from his father. He also dons a pair of light shoes when not wearing the heavy marching boots that come with his armor.

Not optional:
Faction: Children of Fire

Moral Alignment: Lawful Good

In Equipment...
Starting Armor: He is given a set of armor and a tunic with the insignia of the Children of Fire. The Armor, polished and sleek was given to him by his father- a veteran knight proving that the armor had seen it's fair share of combat. The tunic, made by his mother- a sign of devotion to the Children of Fire. The armor is a powerful tempered steel, layers of strong plate-mail over a sheet of underlying chainmail that gives him near invincibility from physical threats. His helmet is an angled cylindrical shape with two slits cut out for the eyes and a multitude of small holes for breathing.

He also has a kite-shaped shield, painted with the insignia of the Children of Fire. It offers another sheet of protection, has been enchanted to be able to block magical attacks. It has one handle, which allows Safir to bash and pummel others with his shield to stun them or set them up for a kill.

Starting Weaponry: The weapon he starts out with is his father's steel broadsword. Simple in design, but proven itself may times over in combat. It is four feet long, and has a leaf-blade shape meant for bashing and stabbing if necessary. It puts blunt force with cutting power, letting Safir hurt an armored opponent by breaking bones with a deft swing. He also can use the crossbow, but isn't too great of a shot at anything longer than medium-range. He carries a pack of twelve bolts at all times.

Fighting Style: He has some training with his father, who was eager to see him fight for the Children in an effort to defend their lands. Safir's fighting style is brutish, seeking the quickest way to end the fight using strong stances and powerful blows. His swordsmanship is as good as one can get without practicing on live targets, and Safir incorporates his fist-fighting with his swordsmanship since he is armored to the teeth.

Weapon of Choice: The Sword.

Other: He carries a canteen of water, a satchel containing some medical supplies and another satchel for rations. He has a sack that carries bolts for his crossbow, a sheath to carry his sword as well as a whetstone in his satchel of supplies to sharpen his sword. He has a small pouch of coin, and some cleaning tools in a third satchel to clean off his armor and prevent rust as best he can.

In History...
Born in a small village on the mountain ridge that separates the continent into halves, Safir's parents and the inhabitants of the village were largely separated from the world. Being self-sufficient, they could manage their own little internal economy. Safir's father was a retired soldier- a Knight that served under the human armies long before the gods started dying, and his mother was an enchantress turned tailor. While neither of them were devout worshippers of the gods, they still placed a medium of faith in them when it came to things like crops and weather. When the world erupted into brutal war, the village in the mountain remained unaffected as usual. The little town was too high for the Civies to contest against the Primah, and the Primah were too high to risk making treacherous climbs down the mountain side to establish a base in the town themselves. The worst that Safir and his family had to deal with was the occasional tax collector from the Primah races.

Growing up in a time of war when he was an adolescent, his father decided to teach Safir the arts of how to defend himself. It didn't take long, and a year was a very long time when one looked at it through the eyes of a villager. Practice came easily because there was so little else to do, and even his friends in the village got into the practice as a way to shave off hours in the day. Safir's size gave him a natural advantage over his aging father, but his father was honed by decades of experience, and even at the waning of his strength managed to easily subdue his son with deft maneuvers. His mother remained in the sidelines, supporting him in everything he did.

The shock came when the dragons returned and seized a huge chunk of the continent. A horde of white dragons blotted the sky, and took the mountains easily with the advantage of their wings and power. Astara, their leader did not directly interfere in their lives, which lead many of the villagers and villages under their control to believe that the Dragons were the most efficient way to a peaceful resolution of the war. Of course, none of them had any idea what was foretold by the dying gods either. They eagerly signed up to become Children, Safir included. Donning his father's armor, and gathering his materials, his mother gave him a farewell gift- his tunic and and enchanted kite shield. He was more ready than he would ever be.

So begins...

Safir Garethson's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson
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#, as written by Arke
Kisikoni Ayalen
The Paragon


Image The deep human's hand immediately clapped to his forehead, stemming the flow of blood that poured like a sheet down his face. He let his squad handle the Children for the moment, as he quickly shifted his grip and sheathed one sword to let the wound clot until the battle was officially over and he could find a healer. Unfortunately, he could not stem the flow entirely. Luckily, he did not need to engage with the children- his squad had easily managed to hold them back, by luck or otherwise. Even as the last child fell, grabbing at several fatal stabbing wounds on his torso, Kisikoni sheathed his last sword, smiling at them in congratulations. "Well, now that some of you have fought your first Child, what do you think?" he asked amicably. The responses varied from caution to confidence.

"I wasn't expecting it to be this easy."

"I don't see why you put so much emphasis on caution if this is what we're going to be fighting."

"I'll tell you once I'm forced to fight them by myself."

Kisikoni allowed himself a short laugh as they reassembled into formation, preparing to sweep the prison for any more inmates or Children. Even as he did so, another knot of soldiers came and confirmed that the last of them were being subdued in the courtyard. He motioned to his own squad, rushing to the courtyard where he arrived just in time to see the last of the Children encircled and at the mercy of the Paragon- something that hardly ever happens. Brimming with pride at how well his squad did and how well the Paragon did overall, he quickly observed them being quickly beaten into submission. Shrugging once, Kisikoni figured he wouldn't have been able to do much anyways. What was more important was that he needed to find a healer before Lily came and-

"So this is how many battles now without a egregious injury?" came the taunting voice. Forcing a smile, Kisikoni was about to respond to the quip but she had bounded off before he could do so. It wasn't as if he didn't know where she was going, but altogether it worried him a little bit. She and Turha alike have become so dependent on each other Kisikoni was loathe to think what would happen if one of them were to perish in battle. Then again, both were skilled veterans hailing from the Legion of Ashes. Kisikoni quickly reassured himself that as long as they didn't do anything stupid, they would be fine. Despite this, he decided to ask Lily to share a cup of tea the next chance he could get.

Even as he left his men to their own devices, he turned to face a burly Orc wearing a red cossack. The robes contrasted with his deep swampy green skin, but it didn't seem to perturb him. Before Kisikoni could sigh with relief and offer his head the orc wordlessly touched the wound on his forehead and started chanting. The skin prickled and itched severely as Kisikoni did his best to remain still. Suddenly, the Orc withdrew his hand, and Kisikoni instantly started touching the healed area as if he couldn't believe it. Grinning slightly, he looked around. People were milling about. Many were standing without orders, simply waiting for more. Shrugging, he walked back into the prison, searching for something to do. Assisting with various things such as helping prisoners of war, checking the bodies, and organizing the crowds, Kisikoni occupied himself with small amounts of busywork until he received his next orders, or until he could find Talae. The voice was quiet enough, though Kisikoni could tell that it watched with cold interest. It always did.




Mercy Yan'vega
The Paragon


Image Smacking her lips smoothly, Mercy raised herself from the struggling mass entangled in her webbing. The Child didn't seem frightened, but all the same he continued his frenzied bucking against the extremely resistant webbing. Mercy watched him struggle for a bit, teasingly using one of her legs to poke at his head until she got bored. Leaning back over him, she breathed slowly down his neck, trying to elicit some sort of reaction aside from zealous intent to kill. Receiving none, she huffed slightly in frustration before sinking her fangs into his body, sucking greedily at his blood and consuming his meat until his wild struggles fell still. Using the back of her hand to wipe her mouth, she smiled and turned her voluminous red eyes to meet that of her squad members, who waited patiently for her to finish.

"Yes?" She asked without skipping a beat.

Shrugging, one of them answered "Well, the Commander says it's all clear. The last of them have been captured in the courtyard, and something else about taking them alive." He jerked his head at the fresh corpse. "Looks like you're in for a mouthful."

"Oh please. You know how I get." Mercy replied, rolling her eyes playfully. Another member of her squad chuckled inadvertently, before they all continued back down the stairs to where the bulk of the army was. Standing on a balcony overlooking the mess hall (which is now ruined by wild battle), she lazily saluted her men and allowed them to be at-ease until their next calling. They quickly moved down toward the wandering red-robed Children for healing, while Mercy crossed her arms. Deciding on what to do was troublesome for her, as she really would want to get a drink- but there was probably no liquor present. If there was, it'd be very poor tasting beer- the kind only a prison can have. Not even the bibulous Nightmarian could lower her standards that far just to get drunk. Tapping her chin, she decided to pay a visit to her Commander.

Yes, she would do that. Even as the sly smile spread across her face, she disappeared from the balcony, moving outside and along the walls her voluminous red eyes had no trouble quickly ascertaining the identities of faraway individuals, including Wrath Liu-Wen, who had walked away again to check the perimeter. Or so she assumed.

It didn't take long for her to travel the quick distance climbing over the wall and landing with a resounding "thump" in front of the young General of the Paragon. Hands on her hips, she looked him over quickly before smiling brightly at him. "Well now, dear, aren't you quite the responsible young man, doing this all by yourself." She commented, tilting her head to the side as if trying to get a better view of the Commander. She towered over him, her height augmented by her large abdomen and legs that propped her well above his line of sight. She had to lower herself toward the human, ignoring his aloof aura he exuded by tilting her body toward him- much like a dog would.




Safir Garethson
The Children of Fire
Image


Blocking an overhand swing with his shield, Safir felt the shock rattle all the way down to his toes as he turned the mace to the side, and rammed the man with his sword, sending him flying with the force as the steel clawed his innards. Twisting to the left, he deflected another attack with his shield, following up with a vicious overhand chop that nearly cut the elf in half lengthwise. Withdrawing his sword, Safir stuck to the same basic strategy- block incoming attack, put pressure on the opponent and stick a sword in their gut while they are on the defensive or off balance. Lashing out with his foot, he caught a deep human off guard, causing him to clutch his stomach and leave himself open for a chop that broke the skull and sent gray matter splattering onto the ground. Caution worked it's way into every fiber of the human's movements, easily catching movements at his height and stature. However, the halflings were the biggest problem, as they had a knack for sneaking up on things and slitting throats before the victim could notice them. Stories of the famous assassins like Sibius Marvell were dwarfed by the legendary halflings whose natural stealth skills made them hitmen of the highest caliber.

Dresinil had called him. Well, "human' was a general term but considering the circumstances, Safir felt that it was safe the elf was talking to him. Listening to his request, Safir nearly choked in surprise. Backing up against his elfish comrade, he saw the axe defeat a halfling that had escaped his field of vision. Making a quick mental note to be more aware of the quick little bastards, he shook his head slightly. It was only a couple of seconds before he could respond, but it was still quietly vehement.

"The blood is getting to your head, friend." Safir replied carefully, blocking a hit and using the edge of his shield to break the attacking elf's arm. Shoving the man back, a teammate quickly killed him, though who it was exactly was unknown. "Have you not noticed the pile of bodies around him?" He tried to explain as best he could, but in the massive din of battle and often short breathing time between foes, it was very difficult. "He's a Child, but yet he's a captain of a bunch of us." He quickly traded blows with a Nightmarian, slightly put off that it had it's own natural armor. "That's suspicious. Especially since he acts like a complete air-head. No normal person with those traits would be put in such a position."

Of course, none of the Children were normal themselves- most having a fanatical devotion to the Children. Safir was not as mindlessly loving of the dragons, but he did respect them. There really wasn't much influence of the dragons in his upbringing. However, Safir was fairly certain that the Dragons did know who to put in control of their armies and who they shouldn't. Haphazardly appointing useless generals was a surefire way to lose a way, and as he knew it, the Dragons were smarter than the average garden snake he encountered back in his home. "I suggest we wait it out." Safir could afford no more words, as the Nightmarian rounded back on him, attempting to kill him but failing to bypass the shield that Safir's fighting style relied on.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Thalion Simonides
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#, as written by Arke
Kisikoni Ayalen
The Paragon


Image Tugging at the packaging, he allowed the salted fish to be hauled away by men with stronger arms than himself. Kisikoni knew that the fish would spoil soon, but it they still had enough time to consume it before moving on to the more well-preserved rations that the Paragon had. It would bolster their resources temporarily, and salted fish wasn't the worst thing to eat- especially if it was a change from vension or hard bread. Checking the back of the storage room, his sharp eyes swept the dark shelves and found nothing more that could be salvaged. The spirits, as requested by Mercy had all been taken earlier- though by the looks of it Kisikoni estimated about a quarter had gone bad from poor preservation. Nobody liked the taste of bad champagne. Grinning slightly, Kisikoni entertained himself with the thought of becoming a chef when this was all over- due to the many years on the road and away from a home he became quite knowledgeable on what spices made a food taste good (because eating the same broiled meats would have driven him nuts) and how to preserve them well.

Reality was not quite as generous, however. The end was still a long way to go, and though the war may end some day, for better or worse, he still had his own inner demons to worry about. Closing the door, he took a paintbrush and slopped a big, red "X" on the rotted, wooden door to indicate that it had been cleared out. Moving out into the courtyard, he saw that there were still a multitude of supplies left to move around. At this rate, they could be finished before-

"Pack up and be ready to leave. We march for Talos City in six hours!"

Yep. Enough time before they moved out. Talos city was their destination, but Kisikoni was quite sure he had heard it somewhere outside of the books. Where, he could not remember. However, he did read an amusing epic recommended by Alistair about a human named Talos that became a god through his great deeds across a fictional continents. He also did remember the elves being very petty about it. Sadly, the author, Beth Es'da had yet to finish the epic as detailed to him by the androgynous harpie. He would have to seek it out when he had the time.

He looked over, tilting his head slightly to get a crick in his neck and noticed the white-haired elf that stood idly with some sort of mount. Was it a mount? He wasn't too sure, but the thing didn't look too friendly. He remembered him from recruiting, as very few people in general had shock-white hair. Beelzes did, but it was because of all the magical stress during the Siege of Herrick.

"Hey, Private Thalion! Get over here and help me with these bags, boy!" He said, mustering up the most mature and booming voice he could. He pointed at the pile of supplies and the wagons in succession.




Mercy Yan'vega
The Paragon


Image Mercy returned a smile in kind. As often as she gave smiles, this one in particular was warm. It felt almost foreign on her face, as one so accustomed to lewd notions and drunken grins. Speaking of drinks, once again Wrath decided to comment on her habit of consuming half the spirits in stock within a single night again. She rolled her eyes, running a hand through her hair. "The soldiers don't taste half as good." She replied, waving away that notion. Both she and Wrath knew that she lead her own soldiers well enough, though they lacked the steely discipline that Lilly recently began to command from her troops. They were comfortable (mostly) with her, and she was very comfortable with them, and that was how it should be.

Even as she followed the General as he began his slow walk, he turned back and noted that it was growing again. Mercy shrugged slightly. It wasn't like Nightmarian-Human crossbreeding was normal, but it wasn't rare. Chitinous plates were an unfortunate by-product of the event, but she wasn't exactly too stressed about it. Like any mother would have, she did worry at first- but even after extensive research that she did while traveling to meet up with Wrath's legion, she found not a shred about it, or any implications it had. So, she decided to worry about it when the time came, as there was no point in babying him because of it. He wouldn't like it very much either. He did seem to be rather concerned about it, and it looked so cute.

It was very hard to resist cuddling him like a stuffed animal.

She followed him, eventually coming upon the disguised Red: Iridanias. Mercy was impressed with her morphing ability, which would have been more than useful for herself in many occasions. However, unlike Wrath she didn't seem to care much about her amazing figure. Mainly because Mercy simply thought she looked better, and that she wasn't homosexual. She was still slightly annoyed by her comments, despite how true they were.

"Apologies, but do I detect yearning? I have heard unsettling comedies- er, tales about dragons in heat." She commented snidely. Whether Iridanias would respond to that or not, she still settled back and listened to the report intently. As Wrath queried the Big Red's intentions with the Imperian, her voluminous red eyes sharpened considerably at the Red's remark. For a brief moment, she wondered what dragon's blood tasted like. It was an interesting thought, though she suspected it would be many times hotter than that of Children's blood. She never did handle spicy food well. She calmed herself down. Trying to avoid staring daggers into the dragon's eyes.




Safir Garethson
The Children of Fire
Image


Safir did not have time to react as his elfish comrade was easily beaten by a martial-artist who used nothing but a set of knuckles and his limbs. Dresinil fell, unconscious just as Safir was busy tangling with the Nightmarian, which was, in all cases, bad. However, he had a nightmarian of his own backing him up- the Moth from earlier that had so helpfully doused him and his team with orange spores. He was almost hopeful, if it weren't for the fact that she was busy as well, fighting a halfling that was smart enough to use the weaknesses of Pylarea's weapon of choice. Grunting, he managed to throw the Nightmarian that battered uselessly against his shield off for a precious moment.

"An eye for an eye!" Safir bellowed, feinting an attack on the Pugilist and twisting around the moth-girl, attempting to distract Yulni by throwing a fearsome haymaker that threatened to pummel the lone halfling if she did not dodge. However, in that moment Gatan realized his folly, redoubling his efforts along with the Nightmarian- who raised his sword-dagger combination. Safir snarled, glaring at the both of them as he readied his dented shield. A shame, the one his mother enchanted would never have bent so easily.

Gatan rushed in first, attempting to dance around his shield. However, unlike Dresinil, Safir was more level-headed and defensive compared to the elf's raging offense. Though the fist-fighter was quick, his eyes were quicker and he quickly pivoted, swinging the sword around to where his shield would have been. However, Gatan easily rolled under it- allowed the Nightmarian to jump on his exposed back. Safir had not forgotten about the ant-like warrior, as he twisted again to bring the shield up and bash his armored arms. The dagger flew from his hand, but the Nightmarian had more than his sword to fight with. Hissing, the bug grabbed the shield reflexively, rooting Safir to the spot. Roaring, the knight tried to hoist the shield away from the Nightmarian, but failed to push away before Gatan could recover and dash back, landing two crushing blows to Safir's side and face. The shock caused Safir to cough, clearing his mouth of what liquid there was. He recovered quickly, because unlike Dresinil, his body was trained to ignore blunt trauma- Knight armor had the ability to block cuts and scrapes, it could not protect somebody from blunt force, which was why Safir had been conditioned to deal with it as best he could. Retaliating with a sword swing, The pugilist easily dodged it, but Safir used the Nightmarian as a pillar of balance and launched a leg sweep that caught the Pugilist off-guard, full in the face.

Grinning slightly, Safir watched him roll across the ground completely stunned before bashing at the Nightmarian's fingers that gripped the shield. The trick to dealing with the martial artists was to catch them off guard. Whether it be kicking dust into their eyes, going for a drop-kick, or biting his hands as he tries to grapple you. He managed to force the Nightmarian to let go of his shield, before proceeding to take quick jabs at him from behind the cover of his shield. The nightmarian was forced on the defensive, but even as Safir thought things were going well, He felt a hostile presence and realized that his leg sweep was a lot less paralyzing than he hoped. Forming a chokehold on him, Gatan proceeded to throw the Knight off balance, while landing as many blows as he could on his exposed back. They hurt, pretty badly. Roaring, he raised his shield arm to throw the Pugilist off him but a cutting voice told them to cease.

Just like that, the test was over. Children garbed in red cossacks began to pour into the battlefield, tending to the injured. Safir looked at the Nightmarian, who shrugged and sheathed his weapons. He then turned to the pugilist, who promptly hopped off his back and began shaking himself off. "Nice sweep." the fist-fighter admitted grudgingly. Safir grinned at him.

"Not so bad yourself, martial artist." He replied in kind, before searching for the unconscious Dresinil. He found him being tended to by the children, though still unconscious. He shrugged. At least that meant he was still alive. He took a look around, hoping Pylarea had survived her fight in with the Halfling- it would have been a damned shame if his brief distraction didn't help in the slightest.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Zulii Ma'kaurubaen Sleekfeathers Character Portrait: Torga Earth-Mender Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Feng Tao Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr
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The Children of Fire
The Tower of Nihalistrix the Black



The recruits were given the rest of the day and the night that followed to rest and recuperate as they chose. It was early the next morning when they were awakened, and dawn was only just painting her rosy hues across the sky.

Shasarra, who had been enjoying a nice roost, grumbled several unpleasant things when the sergeants came to rally the troops, and she found herself forming up into a semi-orderly queue with the majority of the other surviving hopefuls. They were shuffled out into the same hall that they’d fought in but the day before, only now it was pristine and without the slightest trace of the carnage that had taken place the day before. Captain Tao was leaning against one of the room’s many pillars, arms folded in his sleeves, and appeared to be asleep standing up, not that she was fooled.

The harpy found herself situated between a purple-skinned nightmarian woman and the dark elf from yesterday. She was ultimately a pragmatic soul, and so did her best to ignore the fact that they’d been trying to kill each other the day before, sparing him a nod before her attention was drawn forward.

A Thane was at the front of the room, though it was not the same elvish woman who’d done the speaking yesterday. This one was male, and human of all things from the look of it. There were flecks of gray dusting his already-light hair, and for this she suspected that he was somewhat into his middle years. Humans grew so slowly and died so quickly that it was hard to tell, though. There was something about him that made her feel distinctly uncomfortable, and she shifted her tawny wings with traces of unease. The man was flanked by seven of those red-robed magekin, all of varying shapes and sizes, but none looked anywhere but at the Thane himself, and his attention was focused solely on Aesr, who had taken up a spot on the dais where her mother had resided the day before.



Vortigern thought she looked kind of silly like that, as the platform had clearly been made for a creature of a different size, but of course he wasn’t going to say such a thing out loud. Fearless berserker or not, there was only so far he was willing to go. Fortunately, his caution did not extend to the sadistic witch-doctor beside him, and he shot her a friendly grin, a bit wild due to the fact that one of his eyeteeth was chipped, not really mindful of the vehemence of whatever response she should choose to give. When he wasn’t busy hacking into things with horrendous ease, he was quite the mellow sort, after all.

“What d’ya reckon? Summat in me bones tells me this’ll be magic, but I kinnae say I know much about it.” He was asking her, of course, as she seemed to be the only magical sort without her mouth sewn shut. His brain put two and two together, and he grimaced slightly. Hopefully that was a volunteer thing; it seemed rather gratuitous otherwise.



Maratharn, the present Thane, cleared his throat, and allowed silence to descend upon the room before he turned to the Captain. Seeing that the man’s eyes were closed and posture relaxed, he scowled and coughed again, less discreetly. When that didn’t work, either, he huffed impatiently, and gestured to one of the Silenced, who nodded and lit a small flame, sending it flying toward the errant officer without a word of warning.

The captain’s eyes snapped open, and for a second, there was an expression of startlingly-clear anger on his face, before it clouded over into his usual haze and he mildly sidestepped, gesturing to the troops to follow him and approach the dais as though nothing had just happened. The flame guttered out on the stone of the pillar, leaving the gray stone blackened. The group moved forward until they stood before Aesr, who appeared to be inspecting them with an air of appraisal before nodding to herelf. Upon closer examination, it would now be evident to all those present that she stood before a raised stone pillar about the height of a man, upon which rested an enormous earthen bowl.

The Silenced fanned out until they, Aesr, Feng, and Maratharn formed a rough circle around the recruits. Aesr was in front, the captain to the left right angle and the Thane to the right. As one, all removed some form of pointed object from their clothing or immediate surroundings, save the dragonling. Not one broke the moratorium on sound, not even when they collectively raised the blades to their wrists and made a ritual incision, allowing the universally-red liquid to drip with the barest of whispers to the stone below.

The seven were not idle, however, and each was working the same spell: the initiation. The liquid pooling on the floor resolved itself into a perfect circle by a collective effort of their wills, and flared with some unholy internal light before bursting into flame, impossible as it seemed. The licking tongues of fire seemed to signal something, for at last Aesr herself moved, raising her foreleg to her own great jaws and biting down. It would seem that dragons bled black, as the ichor that dripped into the bowl was devoid of any color whatsoever. Reacting with whatever ingredients had been placed in the receptacle beforehand, it took on an eerie green hue and a faint radiance, throwing her scaly visage into sharp relief.

“Drink of it, and understand our strength.” She said simply, and then silence fell once more.

One by one, they did as she ordered, and the effects were immediate. There was an internal shift in the very constitution of their being, as though some new connection existed, an internal pull in the direction if Aesr, and through her, Nihalistrix. So, too, was there some inward understanding of camaraderie, as though each were not quite his or her own anymore. Indeed, the connection wound through them all, channeled through Feng and Maratharn and Aesr all the way to the Lord herself. Nothing more than a tickle in the back of the mind, but recognizable as foreign all the same. With it came what felt much like a surge of adrenaline, and the unwary would soon find that the same muscular efforts produced much more force now than they had before. An errant sweep of Shasarra’s wing knocked a nearby orc to the ground, and his feet actually left the ground as he pushed himself back upward, the look of surprise on both faces almost comical.

Gradually, a hum of voices overtook the room, and all but Feng and the recruits left it as silently as they had come. For his part, the captain watched his troops, something akin to pity crossing his face, though he doubted that any of them were paying enough attention to notice. Right now, they would be discovering that their physical strength had almost doubled, and it would be a difficult adjustment to make. He’d wait for it to sink in before he did his job and gave them the resources they needed to deal with it. Luckily, none of them would yet be able to breathe fire, else he really would have some work on his hands.



The Paragon
Talos City Square


Talae Shanir approached the Paragon encampment, insofar as it could be called such a thing, feeling strangely out-of-place under the oppressive sun. Her detachment was not one of those known for their affinity for those places in which they could be seen, being more inclined to the dark and dank corners of the world. Still, even for them, travelling by night was not always an option.

It scarcely seemed like she’d bathed that morning anymore, what with the heat seeping into her skin. She glared up at the offending celestial body as though that would convince it to let up, but in the end simply snorted derisively. If she did that for too long, she’d end up as blind as-

“Fak’ir.” The word was intoned softly, but with an unmistakable air of command. The man in question, a curiously dark-skinned halfling with white-blond hair, straightened immediately despite the oppressive heat.

“Yes, Captain Shanir?” The lieutenant inquired sharply.

“Make our report to the general. The rest of you, be at ease. Rest for now, and try to stay out of the sun if at all possible. I’ll resupply and then go retrieve our orders.” There were precious few opportunities for her platoon to rest, experienced as they were at going those places an entire army could not. A palpable collective sigh of relief ran through the soldiers, and she smiled slightly to herself. They worked impossibly hard sometimes; it was no stretch to say that they deserved a break.

It seemed as though she were not the only ranking officer inclined to make a trip into town at this point; she spotted quite a few people she knew making much the same route. Glancing up at the sky she was unsurprised to see a large golem, far enough aloft to be mistaken for a bird by anyone without sufficient experience. That would be Lily, doubtless.

The dark elf’s eyes dropped earthwards and leveled out in front of her, mapping the most likely course to her destination. She’d prefer to make this quick, so as to arrive back in enough time to… a retreating figure caught her attention, and Talae immediately moved without really bothering to consider it, drawing up next to perhaps the most familiar face of them all. “Supply run, Koni?” she asked flatly, casually. Of course, that was far from the question she really wanted to ask, but that answer was something he had to decide to give. It ate at her, that she had no idea what happened to him when he fought, moreso now that she was no longer around to watch his back should the repercussions prove too much to handle at some point.



Neira sifted through the goods on the weapons cart with distaste, taking inventory as she went. As a rule, she disliked weapons made of wood and steel, and personally never used them. The same could not be said of all the members of her division, however, and she acknowledged that it was better to give them exactly what they needed to be as efficient as possible at killing things. To this end, she had developed a rather discerning eye, and was entrusted with the funds required to restock the Paragon from local smiths. They were short on maces, it seemed, and bows, mostly. Swords were always around, though they might need a few more of the two-handed kind… it was also useful that she was capable of carrying all these things at once.

Someone else was rummaging around, and she spared a sideways glance, only to see the orc that had completely ignored her three days before. She sneered without bothering to hide it, but decided it didn’t really matter and dropped the expression. “What are you looking for?” she asked, though her tone admittedly contained a bite that a neutral question would not have. “If it’s something too special, we probably don’t have it, but I am making a trip into town shortly, so if you have a request, I will hear it.” No other promises, of course. The nightmarian woman promptly went back to what she was doing, as she really didn’t care whether he answered or not, chitin-encased hands picking swords up by the blade without noticeable reaction, sorting them into more distinct piles by type. Few people bothered, but it made playing at quartermaster a bit easier.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Feng Tao
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#, as written by Arke
Kisikoni Ayalen
The Paragon


Image Whether or not the white-haired Child deigned to assist Kisikoni or not, the bags were still packed and ready to go in a timely fashion. He did not get to talk to Talae, and their exchanges were disappointingly brief as they tended to their duties. Marches were the worst part of being part of an army. The battles held the shadow of death over each soldier's face, but at the same time the march foreshadowed the upcoming trials, and how tiresome it was to move such long distances by foot or horse. Even though he was a captain and thus be allowed a horse in any regular situation, the Paragon was not so well equipped and Kisikoni could never understand the damn beasts anyways. Riding had always given him the worst sores and the shortest of tempers. A good leader should never lose their cool, after all. The days passed by as the monotonous blur of travel overrided his senses.

Even as they arrived to Talos City and set up an encampment, Kisikoni's work never really ceased. He was always working on something to keep his mind from wandering into more cynical and darker areas. It seemed to be happening more and more often, not because of the presence in his mind, but because of the situation as of late. Everything just seemed to be so grim. Nhil Derenthi, one of the few original Generals from the Civie-Primah wars had turned on the Paragon and the Primah, had turned his back on the Paragon. Whatever was going on through his kinsman's mind, he did not know. However, when examining the situation it seemed inevitable that the Paragon would have to conflict with the Civil Armies and the Children- both sides having powerful numbers and magical augments. The Primah were of a concern too, but after Derenthi's betrayal there was no way they could wage an aggressive war until they had more numbers.

Even as he finished unloading a wagon of supplies near the mess hall, in case the soldiers did not want to waste their coin dining in the city, he realized that they were low on salts and preservatives. Scowling slightly, he knew that if he didn't do something this would be nagging on his mind the entire day. He walked to the stables, borrowing a pack horse. Throwing some saddlebags onto the horse, he lead the beast from the stables. It was slightly uncooperative, but it's training and years of experience told it that resisting was just a bad idea all around. At least the human wasn't riding him.

As Kisikoni walked the horse toward a town, he noticed somebody moving to catch up with him. To his surprised pleasure, it was Talae. "Yeah. Can't have our meats spoiling at this point." He responded to her query. Perhaps in the past, he would have attempted a poor joke, but with all this tension weighing him down he just didn't have the heart to make one up. The question itself wasn't what he really wanted to discuss, either. What he wanted, and decided to talk to Talae about was very hard to put into words coherently. Worst of all, he didn't want to really burden her with his problems now that they had so much responsibility as captains. However, if he didn't tell somebody, Kisikoni felt he would probably go mad.

All the better for me. It taunted, a malicious glee entering it's tone as it reveled in the Deep Human's dilemma.

"I guess it's time to make good on my promise." He said plainly, in an urgent and low voice. "Listen, Talae- something happened back at Herrick. Maybe even before that, I don't know. Something is inside me, and I'm not sure what." He tried to explain it as best he could, even as the walked down the path toward the city and down the cobblestone roads inside it. "I'm trying to control it, but it seems to laugh at my attempts. Like I'm a child. Each time I use it's power I feel myself ripping up, physically and literally. It's so strong it accidentally breaks my bones and tears my muscles." He looked away, pretending to search for the markets. They were fairly close at this point. "I'm sorry for dumping all this on you. I've been meaning to tell you when we were... not so occupied, but our wyrds have a different say in the matter." He apologized, leading the horse toward the salt stall. As occupied as he was, he would have been completely unaware of the hitmen moving throughout the crowd if it weren't for the voice.

I'd hate to interrupt your touching moment, but I'd expect to see a blade or otherwise very soon. Though the words were formed in a joke, the tone was very serious.




Mercy Yan'vega
The Paragon


Image Mercy didn't take too kindly to the Red's disdain, but her obvious lack of self-control was reward enough. She couldn't stand the dragons, prideful and condescending that exceeded even her own levels. However, even as Iridanias left, Wrath shot her a look that almost made her flinch back in guilt before she reminded herself that she was the boys mother, for the love of the Queen. She stared back as coolly as she could, but he was already gone. That disappointed look Wrath had given was so similar to that of his father it brought back a flood of memories. She signed, parting once more. Maybe he'll be in a better mood when they reached Talos City. Moving back toward the prison, she quickly scaled over the wall and landed in the courtyard with a soft thump. Humming a quick tune, she began stretching out each limb in preparation. Spiders were not accustomed to traveling long distances, due to their ambushing nature. However, Mercy had grown to adapt to it since she left the dark recesses of Umbridge and had to hunt instead of wait for food to come. Traveling had been no different.

The march was long and hard, as she expected. No matter how many times she would do this, she still hated it. By the time they had stopped and camped at Talos City, Mercy had sweat enough to attract every firebug from Ecclavaria with her scent. Her legs were tired, and her luminous red eyes were half closed with fatigue. She knew she needed a bloody drink, or she'd pitch over and die. However, first thing was first. She quickly moved to a nearby water source, as cities and towns depended on them for power, food, and cleanliness. She quickly tossed away her things onto the shore, and hopped in, cooling herself. The summer heat was nothing compared to the sticky humidity of the dark forests that was her home. The cool dip was to relieve her limbs briefly and to wash away the sweat. it was the worst for her abdomen, as her ark shell didn't allow anything in or out aside from the end where her webbing was generated. It felt like a furnace back there. Getting out, she cupped her arm over her bare chest and winked slyly at the men who tried to sneak a peek. Half of the blushed furiously, much to her delight. Tossing back on her clothes and bags, she skittered quickly toward her tent. She flipped open the flap, setting down on the stack of hay in the middle. Sighing, she grabbed one of the multitude of bottles she had retrieved and stashed in the stack. With an experienced finger, she flipped the cork off the bottle and began consuming the contents in large gulps.

It wasn't long until she experienced the faint buzz, and a pleasant heat building up in her face. That was just what she needed. She'd resisted the bottle until they actually stopped traveling, as it wouldn't do to get blindingly drunk while marching. It nearly killed her, she had intense cravings at various intervals, and she couldn't help but feel that her son did this to torment her. Flopping foward, she lazily turned her waist, rotating a full 180 degres so she could lie lazily on her back, downing the rest of the bottle. That really did hit the spot. Blearily, she reached for another bottle, her hands patting the area around her for the familiar smooth surface. However, lingering fatigue from the journey claimed her before she could enjoy getting drunk. Her hands fell still, and her breathing became slow and heavy. It was midday.




Safir Garethson
The Children of Fire
Image


Safir could not find the Nightmarian moth, so he shrugged and decided to outfit himself with some armor. Finally. He reached the table, and thankfully found his mother's shield, which had not been taken. Retrieving it, he quickly belted that on his back. Never again would it leave him voluntarily. He did not find his father's set of armor, but he did find something very similar to that. It was newer, which was a plus but it didn't have the reliable feeling that his father's armor did. Snorting, he realized he was standing there comparing armor though he was no blacksmith. He took the set, hefting it and checking it for breaks and weak seams. Finding none, he smiled and decided to fit himself to it, strapping the belts and whatnot under his robes. It went quite nicely, easily molding to the curves and heavy fabric. His old armor would not have been able to do that, admittedly and the Children seemed to value the idea of an army acting as one. The uniform probably was meant to enforce that ideology. Either way, he grabbed the matching helmet and strapped it on, as well as grabbing a good broadsword. The sword was light enough, but was dense and forged well. Sheathing it, he carried that with him to a bed of his own, stuffing the stuff in the chest at the foot of the bed.

He immediately proceeded to clean himself off, taking a brief but hot shower. Stepping out, he quickly dressed himself. It was odd- the people around him were standing in nothing but their undergarments. The very same people that were trying to kill him not an hour earlier. The sense of security was almost palpable, and even if Safir had the intent on murdering somebody, he probably could not muster up strength to do so under this calm atmosphere. It was almost as if everybody trusted each other to a degree. Perhaps it was because they fought each other, and acknowledged each others ferocity. Leaving the locker rooms, he proceeded back to his own bed, where he stretched out his sore limbs and threw himself under the covers to get some rest.

The wake-up call wasn't as bad as he had thought it would be. The entire days worth of sleep helped him rest off the fatigue very well, though he was still tight and sore in many places. The bruises that he had decided not to heal due to its trivial nature were purpled and slightly sensitive, but Safir had gotten used to those types of injuries by now. Tossing on some good clothes, he put on his robes over them. He decided his armor was probably not necessary yet.

He did not see Dresinil, who was probably still recovering or dead. He didn't know what was the fate of his battle brother, but he was fairly certain the elf wasn't dead unless Gatan had punched him so hard he had a heart attack. A gout of dragonfire interrupted the Knight's thoughts, which had been directed at the androgynous captain. The movement was so fast and graceful Safir would have thought the man had simply stepped out of the way in pure coincidence. Forced to grudgingly acknowledge the man's skill once more, Safir's breathing slowed conspicuously as he noticed the change in atmosphere. Whatever ritual was announced, it was beginning. Altogether simple, it was nevertheless impressive. Even as the Dragonsblood filled up the space, waiting to be consu

wait.

what.

He had to drink that? The local apothecary at his village didn't brew anything that looked this vile. Even as he hesitated, many were already cupping the unholy liquid. The crazed witch-doctor was one of the first. He sighed. He was in this deep, there was no excuse to duck out now. He plunged both hands into the liquid, sucking in a mouthful and swallowing. By the dead gods, there was no way he could describe this taste. However, the surge in his innards was the worst. Looking around, he knew that he was taking this change the worst, by far. His body never really was fit for all that magic business. Even as he caught his breath, displays of almost laughable accidents happened. An elf tried stretching, and his jaw dropped as both arms popped out of it's sockets. A nightmarian accidentally sliced her own stomach open when attempting to scratch it absentmindedly.

Well, this was new. Safir saw this, and tried to be careful- but his body now felt foreign. Light. Stepping forward was so disconcerting, that he stumbled, falling forward. On instinct, he threw his arms out to break his fall, and as a result there was a resounding "boom" as his arms cracked the stone floors slightly with the impact, leaving very faint craters. And sprained wrists with broken fingers. He now realized the reason why mages didn't just give the soldiers superhuman strength and speed the hard way. Getting up, he angrily refrained himself from swearing as adrenaline turned into pain. He was already regretting this, now he'd need to train himself to get used to this change.

First, he needed to find a healer.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Torga Earth-Mender Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Feng Tao Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr
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The Children of Fire
The Tower of Nihalistrix the Black



For a few more minutes, Tao let the recruits get some sense of what was going on with their bodies. A few cracked bones in their overzealousness and lack of familiarity, and he recalled with a distant kind of fondness that much the same thing had happened upon his initiation. As if on cue, a single silenced appeared at his shoulder. He knew who she was without having to look, and spoke with his eyes still fixed ahead.

“Carmen, please see to the injured ones.” The youthful woman, one of the few true Clerics (and few true humans) in the ranks of the children, nodded and stepped forward, scanning the group and first picking out a man wearing armor who appeared to have broken one of his hands. Tao, not being the sort of person who could remember names most of the time, immediately labeled him Big-Shiny-Target, Shiny for short.

The effectively-mute Carmen approached Safir and gestured for him to relinquish his injured limb to her. As soon as he did so, she prayed. Now, the reason there were so few clerics left in the world was fairly obvious: the gods that they prayed to were long-dead. Nevertheless, whether it was because she had some command of holy magic on her own or for some other inscrutable reason, she was still able to do exactly what her father and grandfather had done before her. Safir’s more delicate bones rearranged themselves with only slight discomfort, set into place, and were good as new within seconds. She smiled at the knight (having been taught that such people were usually of a good kind), and moved on to the next. There would be many more before her day was over.

As soon as everyone was patched up, Tao spoke. “Not very nice, at first. That’s what the rest of today is for, though.” Glancing at Jivven, he nodded slightly. “Short-Snarky has anticipated how to handle it. If any of you know martial forms or katas, now is the time to use them. If you don’t, I’ll teach you some. Call Carmen if you accidentally wound yourselves.”

Speech quite thankfully over with, he proceeded to teach those that did not know a series of basic, smooth movements, designed to flow from one right to the other. Understandably, the pace was to be slow, since it was all an exercise in control. They really just had to get used to their own muscles again, and gain a consciousness of where they were in relation to other things. It wasn’t physically taxing, so he did not stop them from speaking to one another. Occasionally, someone got a bit too ambitious, and Carmen would again flit through the crowd, healing an injury and returning to her place a short distance behind him and to his left.


The Paragon
Talos City, Supply Caravan


Hm. The orc complained of steel-melting fire. This much, she could understand; it melted arc-shell as well. Much as she liked to pride herself on the fact that her natural armor was as much weapon as defense, she was no better off than any other in this regard. Pausing for a moment in her motions, she glanced sideways at him. “Generally, nothing does. The easiest way to deal with a fire-breathing Child is to slit the throat before they can exhale. It backs up and immolates them.” She shrugged. “Otherwise, stay out of the way.”

She scanned the steel he was holding, and thought about it for a moment. There were precious few smiths willing to do work for the Paragon, and even fewer still who would do so on the move. “Take it to Mialee. If he can’t do anything about it, he might know someone else who can.” Turha was mostly an artificer of golems, but that required a wide knowledge of how to work materials, and there might be some kind of enchantment that could fix the thing.

His lingering inability to make a decision was vexing her, though, and she gave a small exasperated sigh. “If it is effectiveness you seek, versatility is important.” If he couldn’t figure out that she was suggesting he not carry two weapons of the same kind, that was his loss, and she wasn’t going to do anything about it.

A familiar voice broke into her mind before she could say anything else, and her red eyes flickered to the opposite side, her face cracking into a not-entirely-healthy smile when she caught the characteristic twang of a crossbow being fired. The arrow stopped in midair inches from her left eye, and she sent it flying back at the offending orc, still trying to look nonchalant so as to (presumably) escape notice as soon as she died. He’d have to try a little harder than that. Though Neira desired to lodge his own projectile into his throat, she embedded it within his shoulder instead, causing his grip on the crossbow to slacken.

“You. You can do earth magic, yes? How about stopping this one from going anywhere, hm?” Technically, she could have bound his limbs herself, but that would require constant upkeep, whereas a spell would be a simple matter of cast-and-leave. Though killing the fool was an attractive option, the chances were slim-to-none that there was only one traitorous moron in their midst. They were like cockroaches that way, but the talking ones could be painfully interrogated.

Check on the general. Technically, she couldn’t really order Xeron around, but this was about as close to a polite request as Neira ever got, and he was unlikely to refuse to do something that actually made sense when it mattered.



Talos City, Markets


The tone of Kisikoni’s words immediately set Talae on edge. She had never known him to inflect anything for dramatic effect alone, which meant that whatever it was was of grave important. She listened quietly, without response until he’d concluded. Even then, it took her a moment to process everything, and she hadn’t realized she’d stopped walking until he was continuing ahead of her.

The revelation hadn’t been turning over in her mind for more than ten seconds before her sensitive ears picked up a sound that did not belong here, and she immediately dropped to the ground. “Kisikoni!” she shouted, but any further words would be useless as a warning. The bolt intended for her embedded itself in the wooden side of a nearby building, and she was back on her feet in seconds, drawing the sword from her back, eyes tracing the trajectory of the quarrel, only to see nothing.

Puzzled, she looked around, and determined that the moving cart had to be the target. Gritting her teeth, the dark elf woman bounded after it, launching herself into the bed of the cart and immediately shoving one of its occupants off with her foot, leaving two. One was too shocked to react quickly enough, and the business end of Abel was shoved into his throat for his trouble. The other was quicker on the uptake, though, and drew a one-handed sword. The close quarters meant that the advantage was his, for the smaller, more maneuverable weapon would work within the confines much better than her hand-and-a-half.

She’d never stepped down from a challenge, though, and she wasn’t about to start now.



Paragon Encampment, Soldiers’ Tents


Fak’ir, having been raised in an arid desert climate, was not particularly bothered by the heat that seemed to have everyone else moving sluggishly. So instead of attempting to sleep it off after his little check-in with the general and Captain Sid, he figured taking a walk couldn’t hurt.

Squinting and looking upwards, he gauged it to have just hit the middle of the day, not that the time was of any particular consequence. It was just one of many habits he’d picked up and retained over the years. Glancing back down, he passed a couple of villagers in what appeared to be the summer clothing of this region. Suspicion being another of those things he’d never bothered to lose, he wondered what they were doing so close to this section of the camp, anyway. This wasn’t where the Paragon conducted business- this was where the soldiers slept.

With a deft flick of his wrist, the halfling pulled and twisted the shadows immediately around himself, slipping into the shade of a tent and disappearing from view. For now, he would simply follow, and watch. If they moved on, he’d perhaps berate himself for being too cautious, but if they didn’t… they’d have a surprise on their hands, now wouldn’t they?

Jumping from shadow to shadow, quietly enough to be concealed from all but the most acute eye, he waited. They seemed to be moving further into the camp, but his immediate inclination to kill them was tempered by his Captain’s voice in his head, reminding him that taking life was often necessary but never ideal. When she’d decided such a thing, he had no idea, but he respected her enough to heed her advice.

When the two figures drew knives and sprang upon a single tent, though, he felt quite justified in blinding both of them with his command with darkness. They were making enough noise on their own to alert whomever was inside that tent, so he decided for the moment that remaining hidden was to the best advantage of both himself and whomever he was inadvertently assisting here.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson
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Kisikoni Ayalen
The Paragon


Image The distracted deep human barely registered the voice in his head, which had long since lost it's malevolent edge on Kisikoni. However, he knew a serious voice when he heard it, and pulled himself out of his simmering thoughts back to reality. Not a moment too soon, Kisikoni heard Talae's cry of warning as well, and he instinctively crouched low, just in time to feel a single bolt whip past the left side of his face. The other slammed into his upper right torso, sending him reeling. Unluckily for the deep human, his light mail was not able to stop the penetrating power of the bolt, slicing cleanly through the links. The first bolt barely missed the pack horse by an inch, causing it to panic and charge down the streets. Kisikoni gathered his wits quickly, standing up despite the wound and wildly looked for his partner- which had bounded off for a cart. He noted the lone bolt embedded into the side of the building, and decided three assailants was not a very good match up, even if the lone fighter in question was one of the best fencers he knew. The horse could wait, it was trained to return to the tents and had nothing of real value anyways. He broke into a run, avoiding unnecessary movement on his right side to avoid having the arrowhead slice his flesh too much. However, even as the cart and Talae carved a path through the crowds, One of the riders was tossed off by the silent dark elf. Kisikoni proved to be too slow to catch up, but even as the man rolled to his feet, the deep human was ready for him.

Though not primarily left handed, Kiskoni could fight well enough with the rest of his limbs as he drew one of his butterfly swords. His right arm dangled uselessly, to avoid unnecessary trauma. The man, a deep skinned elf began the duel with a high horizontal chop with his short sword, something Kisikoni easily ducked. Spinning around, the elf used the momentum to bring his sword around into a quick low cut, which Kisikoni twisted to block. The deep human retaliated with a heel kick to the elf's side, sending him stumbling back. Following up, Kisikoni charged in parrying a quick stab and falling into a slide that knocked the elf off his feet. The elf rolled over, attempting to get up but Kisikoni had already turned to land back on his feet, bringing a knee to slam the side of the elf's head and finishing him off with a downward thrust of his thick blade into the man's back.

Shoving him off, Kisikoni scanned his surroundings, ensuring that there were no other mercenaries that meant him harm. Convinced that there were none at the moment, Kisikoni began making his way toward an alleyway. This would be a bad idea in general, but he couldn't make it all the way back to camp without the pain and the bleeding getting to him. He needed to perform some proper first-aid first. Doing it in a public area was just asking for trouble, be it from the city guard or meticulous shopkeepers or assassins. Leaning against the wall, he slid down until he was sitting, letting a hiss escape his mouth as he grasped at the bolt. The head was designed like a harpoon- quick to enter, a pain to get out. Pulling it out would rip out more flesh than he would like.

Let me do it. It's faster. it said irritably. Kisikoni immediately threw up a mental wall, trying to block it from doing anything, but even as he tried to, he felt his mind go numb. A deep stink of what could only be described as fear for anybody close enough began to exude from the deep human, as his breathing became more labored and the bolt began twitching and turning unnaturally. Eventually, as the aura of fear became more palpable, the bolt slid smoothly out of his body, accompanied by the forming of a scale-like scab. Kisikoni heard the bolt clatter to the cobblestone ground, and immediately stared into a puddle formed from dead-gods-know-what. A monster stared back at the deep human, or rather, faced him. The eyes were completely missing, leaving naught but a black void- and his skin was as dry and cracked as a lake during a drought. Blinking once, Kisikoni steadied his breathing, and felt his face return back to normal. The scaly scab that the arrow left was gone, leaving only bare skin where the bolt had pierced through his mail and clothes.

"Never do that again."

Why not? I saved you the trouble of-

"Never do that again! You have no right to consider what or what doesn't trouble me, you monster!" Kisikoni shouted angrily, his calm composure completely shattered.

Harsh words for a hypocrite. Our fates are intertwined, mortal. You cannot tell me to do anything. You have less control than you would like to believe.

"Shut up! Shut up! SHUT UP!!"

Kisikoni stood up hastily, feeling the presence take extreme pleasure from his distress. He cast his eyes around quickly, and noted with some cheap relief that nobody had taken much notice of him. Avoiding the topic that clouded his thoughts, he decided to look for Talae and the pack horse. Flexing his right arm, he confirmed with some lingering disgust that it was working as well as it was before the ambush. He found his horse fairly close to where the ambush occurred, where it was calmed down by two fruit shopkeepers interested in stopping the horse's rampage before it destroyed their inventory. After apologizing quickly, he paid them to look after the horse until he returned. With his mind as clear as he could get, he delved back into the streets, following the commotion in an attempt to trace Talae and the Wagon's trail.




Mercy Yan'vega
The Paragon


Image "You know, all this work can't be good for you." She said, staring at a slim figure sitting at a desk. Pieces of blueprint paper were scattered about the room, some neatly piled in one side, others thrown carelessly about. The figure shook his head slowly, his head of jet-black hair shading his face from further recognition.

"I've seen harder days before Haven." He replied curtly, the quick motions of his quill never ceasing.

"Suit yourself, but why?" Mercy asked, tilting her head and leaning over the paper to get a better view. He did not look up, but rather continued writing as if she wasn't currently in the room. In truth, he was well aware of the fact, more so than the average person would be.

"Because I still can serve." He paused. "I'm getting soft." He commented, raising a hand to indicate her leave. "I have work to do."


The commotion just outside her tent roused the drowsy Nightmarian from her stupor. She returned to reality reluctantly, blinking heavily at the entrance flaps, which showed two figures moving erratically. She almost laughed if she weren't in such a daze. In this sorry state, she recognized some urgency. Why would two belly dancers perform outside her tent? Unless they weren't belly dancers. They burst through the tent flaps, clawing at their face with daggers out and flailing wildly. Well now.

She huffed slightly, raising her arms slightly and allowing both to trip and fall over. The would-be assassins tried to regain their balance, but failed to do so as they met a face full of a mixture of hay and arc shell. She twisted around, grabbing one and casually twisted his neck as he recovered. He fell to a clump, dead instantly. Mercy didn't have the patience for this bullshit, frankly- very few people dared to interrupt her drinking binges, and even fewer avoided seeing her fangs as punishment. The other had already stumbled to his feet, blindly stabbing with his dagger, but Mercy twisted, using her amazing flexibility around her waist to avoid the blade completely, grabbing the man and twisting his arm. The man spun around once, landing on his back with Mercy's arms securing him from the shoulders down.

The man struggled slightly, before he felt something pierce his neck. Instantly, fear began to seep in. This was definitely NOT what he signed up. He began to struggle with a feral instinct that was almost pitiable, because even if he could break the Nightmarian's iron grip he would not be able to make it outside of the tent before her Paralytic poison deaded his limbs and left him unable to move. Even as his flailing weakened, she rose, reaching back to grab some of the webbing she was secreting from her abdomen. She gently began wrapping him up, lazily observing her assailant's face as he realized he was being enveloped in the sticky secretion. "They're going to have fun with you, dear." She murmured softly into his ear, giggling mockingly. His expression was priceless, as was her many other victims. She finished securing his body with a mass of webbing, before tossing the man out of the tent, along with the body. She didn't particularly care she had just survived an assassination attempt, or that the assassins were unusually clumsy. However, now that she was awake she did have something she cared about.

She popped open another bottle. Immediately downing a quarter of it, she lamented drowsily how they couldn't have just killed her. It was such a pleasant dream.




Safir Garethson
The Children of Fire
Image


Dresinil's entrance and graceless fall did not entertain Safir's poor humor as the pain in his hand began to grow more and more pronounced. He did, however deign to grin, as it was partially his fault for blocking the way in the first place. He noticed a couple of dark elves leaving, though not so subtle now that they've more or less lost control of their bodies. Safir took solace in the fact that assassins, who valued their precise movements much more than he did as a knight were suffering the hardest. "You only say that because you know I won't bite your head off." Safir replied, grunting as he stood up carefully. He was going to invite his elven comrade to find a healer with him, but apparently the Captain had already arranged such a thing.

A woman, a silenced with red robes approached him in all his inglorious appearance and quickly mended his bones. Safir's face twisted slightly, discomforted by his bones moving and mending at unnatural speeds. Well, it beat having to splint it and nursing it for weeks. The woman seemed to smile at him kindly, which brought a warm feeling to the knight's heart. Well, at least it seemed like she enjoyed what she did, despite the circumstances. He watched her heal Dresinil, slightly interested in how she manages such strange magics. His mother, an enchantress never spoke of her trade, and Safir himself didn't have a lick of magic within his veins. He wondered what it was like, to have such power no matter how slight it was.

He wasn't brooding for long, because before he knew it, Dresinil also sprang up fairly quickly, careful with his movements as well to avoid another injury. Tao's explanation and suggestions were feasible enough, and Safir decided to entertain himself for the day by getting reacquainted with his body- however strange that sounded. Dresinil offered to go with him, as training was less of a chore when done with others. They walked carefully, adjusting and fine-tuning their movements. As they searched for a good spot, they caught a glimpse of Jivven.

"Good dancer, but I've seen better ballerinas back home. None so pretty, though." Dresinil commented, and Safir could not help but chortle.

"Yet here you are, barely able to walk." He replied, attempting a light punch on his shoulder. Dresinil stumbled from the force, his face reddening slightly. "Oh, I did not mean t-"

"Gotcha." The elf laughed, righting himself carefully. They were already far enough away that they couldn't hear the dark elf's pattering feet. They decided to walk back to the general area of the healer, Carmen. The way people like himself and Dresinil trained was very different from that of Jivven's, involving more injuries. However, that served only to strengthen the body. Martial Artists like Gatan often beat themselves with special wooden rods to temper their nerves, becoming nearly impervious to medium amounts of blunt trauma. The two began with stretches and basic exercises, to get a feel for the new strength. More than once, Safir overexerted, pulling a muscle and ligament- or even throwing so much force that limbs popped out of their sockets. Carmen had to make more than one trip down, but whether she was disgruntled or not was hidden by her calm facade. He could not say the same for Dresinil, who was beginning to think of this blessing as something of a bittersweet curse.

Even after an hour of this, they were still apprehensive about trusting themselves with swinging around a weapon. They watched as a light swordsman whipped out his sword so hard, he hyper-extended his arm and had to be treated by the healer. Weighing his sword and shield with his hand, he was surprised to conclude that his sword felt like it weighed no more than a reed, and his shield was nothing more than a plank of wood on his arm. Dresinil expressed the same surprise, but at the same time seemed very happy about it. "This seems to have put you in a good mood." Commented Safir.

"Yes. I fear for the durability of my axe now that I can wield it with such strength." He said, a gruff excitement in his voice.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Zulii Ma'kaurubaen Sleekfeathers Character Portrait: Torga Earth-Mender Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Feng Tao Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr
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The Paragon
Talos City, Supply Caravan


Neira watched without the slightest hint of pity as the terramancer encased his foe in an earthen fist, following up with blows from his own, much fleshier ones. If he was in danger of killing the fool, she supposed she would intervene, as dead men told very few tales, at least to anyone but that Darenthi bastard.

A series of wet cracks and pops were all Torga received for his trouble as it seemed the brigand was not speaking. With a whispered sigh, she approached and placed an hand on the orc’s shoulder. “This is accomplishing nothing.” She squeezed a bit, and her facial expression, mostly neutral but quite serious, made clear the double-intention of the gesture. She was at present standing with her hand over a vital pressure point, which she could manipulate at her leisure, and he would stop his assault on the prisoner. “I recommend you save your vengeance for those against whom you need the edge, not the hapless souls already at your mercy.”

With a shrug, she released him as soon as he backed off and oversaw the transport of the fool, now thoroughly subdued, to where Xeron was working his psionics on a few more prisoners. Interesting; not an isolated incident, then. That made sense, as while quite confident in her skill, Neira was not terribly important in the grand scheme of this army, and targeting her alone would have been beyond stupid.

Xeron’s verdict surprised her somewhat, but she did not question it. If that was what he’d seen in their minds, then that’s all that was there. She knew well enough that he was skilled in his trade, and no such folk as these would be hiding anything from him. The fact that they had yet to capture the captain was somewhat disheartening, or it would have been if she considered herself to have a heart at all.

“Chances are, he’s around somewhere, though… I think there might be bigger problems to deal with.” She eyed the group of approaching civilians speculatively, then turned to the general. “Might want to use your words here, Captain. Unless you’d rather I talk to them?”

Dead gods knew that wouldn’t go over well.

Talos City Markets


Talae, thrown from the moving cart, landed rather less jarringly than she’d been expecting. Her vision swam for a bit, though she was acutely aware that the only injuries she’d actually suffered were blunt traumas, and she wasn’t bleeding anywhere. Still, she lingered on the cusp of consciousness, scarcely able to make out the swirling shapes of the black tattoos that moved as if alive across the fair skin of Beelzes’s face.

As soon as her breath was once again properly situated in her lungs, Talae squirmed out of the warlock’s grasp, feet alighting on the ground without difficulty. When she attempted to support her weight, however, she lurched forward, only able to compensate with years of training in balance and fluidity. She wasn’t doing herself much credit right now, but that was a matter to be ashamed of later, not now.

She cast her glance to the side, noting her unconscious opponent. “Thanks. That one… back to General Wrath,” she garbled, then shook her head slightly. “Koni. Where is he? I think he was shot. I need to tell him…” she’d forgotten what, exactly, but she’d remember soon enough. Right now, her priorities were to reassure herself that he was alive, then drag the prisoner back to camp. Then, maybe, she’d actually go get those supplies she needed.

Paragon Encampment, Soldiers’ Tents


Chaos had erupted inside the tent, and Fak’ir could only surmise that the blinded assassins were being roundly dealt with. He wasn’t exactly sure whose dwelling this was, but as soon as one of the former combatants was ejected from the premises covered in spider silk, he had a pretty good guess. Of all the targets… the fool should count himself lucky to be alive.

Not that this would necessarily remain the case for long. Relinquishing his cover of darkness, the sun-darkened halfling approached the confined man, who had taken up shouting while trying to free himself from his bonds. Unamused, the desert-dweller dealt him a measured blow to the temple with a knife-hilt, rolling his viridian eyes when silence at last reigned once again.

Were he a different kind of man, Fak’ir might have complained about doing janitorial duties for someone else, but as it was he was a soldier till his last breath, and so he saluted the tent (or rather the half-sane nightmarian inside it) and set about moving the gift-wrapped assailant to the center of camp without protest, figuring that Captain Yan’vega was unlikely to bother doing so herself. For someone of his diminutive stature, he was no pushover, and transport was more a matter of finding the leverage than the strength. Eventually, though, muttering a string of colorful oaths in a lilting language quite different from the common tongue, he was able to roll the unconscious man into a line of similarly-indisposed individuals awaiting mental examination by the weird dark elf man who had apparently defected from the Children.

He caught the nightmarian’s words and scowled. “Probably won’t make a difference,” he pointed out pragmatically. “You ever known the populace to listen to reason once they have it in their heads to lynch a body?” He spoke from bitter experience, but masked it with general gruffness.

The Children of Fire
The Imperian, a Ghost Town That Shouldn’t Be



Three days after their powers were bestowed upon them, the Aesr were deployed for the first time, transported to a location just outside what was once a thriving trade center in the Imperian, and an early conquest of Nihalistrix. Aesr herself, presently shaped much like a dark elven woman, had been at the forefront of this conquering army, and had expected the sight of the town to bring her much satisfaction.

As it was, she was screaming like a banshee and like to tear someone’s eyes out. They’d arrived at the periphery of the town before she’d known that anything was wrong, but when her suspicions had been confirmed, she’d been positively incensed.

There was nobody here. The entire town, still intact and standing, bore not one trace of mortal life, and it was as if they’d all spontaneously vanished. Doors to buildings hung open, swinging eerily on their hinges in the westbound breeze, and though her eyes darted back and forth over the landscape, Aesr could not pick out the reason for the desertion.

“What is the meaning of this?” she shrieked to nobody in particular. This was not how her first solo command was supposed to go. They were supposed to march in, crush the small Paragon resistance that resided here, reestablish their hold on this place, and leave again, blooded and ready for greater things. Glaring about at all of her soldiers, she grew increasingly frustrated when none was able to provide her with a satisfactory answer. Not even that idiot- wait. Where was her Captain? “Tao!” She grit her teeth when there was no immediate response, and rounded on Carmen. “Where is he?”

The Silenced’s ridiculously-blue eyes went wide, and she shook her head emphatically, holding both hands up and in front of her in an attempt to placate the angry dragon. Aesr realized that a trail of smoke was coiling from her nostrils and took a deep breath. Turning back around, she bumped right into the object of her search, who’d apparently heard her summons and appeared. Aesr’s hands curled into fists; she was surrounded by imbeciles. Her angry tirade was forestalled when the deep human pointed at something. Following the trajectory of his arm, she noted scorch marks on the ground not too far from where they were.

“The rest of the city is likewise marked,” he informed her, and he sounded so inappropriately chipper about that that she considered tearing one of his arms off. No, no, he’s more useful to me whole. They all are. It was a few moments before she realized exactly how humiliating this particular revelation was.

Her mouth worked for a few seconds with no resultant sound before it caught up with her brain. “Of course,” she said, covering her shame with arrogance. “Magical interference. Fine; we march further, then. We’ll find who was responsible for this, and punish them.” Her words were firm, but the Captain raised a speculative eyebrow. This was directly contradictory to her mother’s orders; they were supposed to avoid no man’s land. But, untested as her soldiers might be, Aesr was approaching desperation to prove herself, and beyond the tactical repercussions, she cared not how many she had to lose to do it.

Tao himself shrugged and motioned to the rest of the troops, setting out at the front of the group. Ordinary march pace, problematic only to those who weren’t used to it. Carmen fell back to mingle with the others, allowing her presence to soothe in the way it sometimes tended to. Besides, she was not much of a combatant: though holy magic did have destructive capabilities, she was not accustomed to using them, given the rarity of proper healers. She wound up beside the knight from the other day and the pretty purple moth-woman.

Shasarra marched a distance behind, being one of the only people comfortable walking within ten feet of Zulii, though she hadn’t tried making conversation since the second day of training, and that hadn’t gone too well. Instead, she spoke to Jivven. “Something tells me this wasn’t the original plan,” she drawled with a hint of sarcasm. That much was obvious from the fit Aesr had been throwing, but she wasn’t exactly sure what they were supposed to do now.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Feng Tao
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#, as written by Arke
Kisikoni Ayalen
The Paragon


Image The runaway wagon carved a path of confusion in it's wake, and while there was the poor soul that was run over there was no lasting damage until it promptly crashed. Kisikoni was barely able to keep up, and was slightly relieved when the wagon's rampage came to an end. At the same time, a bud of worry erupted in Kisikoni's chest, wondering the fate of Talae until he noticed a crowd gathering around a separate area. He pushed himself near the front, looking over the shoulders of spectators and saw Talae in the arms of Beelzes. She didn't look terribly injured, and Beelzes was cheerful as usual. Satisfied that Talae was in good hands, he attempted a quick signal at the deep human before disappearing back into the crowd. Truth be told, after everything that had recently transpired he wasn't too eager to be alone with Talae. It would be incredibly awkward, and she definitely needed time to take in everything she had told her. He also had a horse and preservatives to retrieve, and it would be best if they were separated. Other enemy assassins or bounty hunters would be forced to split up, thus weakening their forces. With Beelzes, Kisikoni was certain that Talae could take on any threat.

Eventually, he would have to talk it out with others- his specter problem wasn't slight enough to be brushed off, especially with it laughing in his head at the notion that it could be tamed. Talae was the only one he trusted so implicitly with the full weight of the knowledge, though he was aware that the Paragon had an inkling of his state. After all, Pel had been assigned to him as a personal medic. He cringed slightly at the thought of the halfling, halting the guilt before it could take root in his heart.

The elf he had killed would be of no use to the Paragon, but the unconscious dark elf may yet yield some answers. The third man, who had been impaled by Talae's blade was unlikely to have survived, and even if he did, would probably have been gone by now. He jogged past the stalls they had been attacked, without giving the body that was still sprawled on the cobblestone a glance. He would have to either bring the body to Xeron or Wrath to determine whether he would be of use, or bring a report back. The man was dead, and from what he could tell did not look anything special- especially so due to his average level of skill in fighting. He retrieved the pack horse, thanking the shopkeepers once more. Though they looked disgruntled, their day brightened considerably when Kisikoni tipped them a couple of coins for the trouble. Leading the horse back around, he brought it over to a merchant who was selling spices. After a quick exchange, Kisikoni dutifully loaded several bags of salts onto the horse, which seemed to take on a slightly disappointed appearance. He took the last one and threw it onto his shoulder, using a free hand to grab the horse's reins and begin leading him back out of the city.




Mercy Yan'vega
The Paragon


Image What in blazes was all the racket about? Mercy groaned, blearily rubbing her voluminous red eyes. The entire camp was in an uproar for one reason or another, and Mercy resolved to find it and squash it so she could go back to sleep. A half-empty bottle was clenched tight in her left arm as she got up unsteadily and burst through the flaps, eyes fiery. Seizing a nearby soldier, she inquired about current happenings. The soldier, unused to the generally lewd nightmarian's antics gave a nervous response. She supposed the idea of assassins would explain the rude intrusion earlier. Speaking of which, the web-wrapped men she tossed out earlier had not remained in front of her tent, so she assumed they were taken away to be questioned. A pile of turned over dirt, no doubt a trail left by somebody attempting to move the web-stricken individuals lead her to where all the action was happening.

Stumbling over, she took a swig of the increasingly light bottle and clasped a hand onto who she believed to be Xeron. "You're tellin' me, that our security is so bad letta'couple of guys enter my tent ta'tryna kill me?" She slurred, trying her best to sound indignant but failing horribly. Half her eyes were unfocused and dormant, which wasn't helping her attempt either. Releasing her grip on Xeron's shoulder, she swayed slightly while turning to regard the bunch of captured men. She burst out laughing when she saw one that was beaten to a pulp. "Who, who did that? He or she deserves a promotion!" she cried, slapping one of her knees in mirth. Sighing, she drained the rest of the bottle and used the end to poke one of the prisoners gracelessly. "I dunno' fellas, none of these guys look like they know anything." She slurred, incredibly late on the uptake. She quickly lost interest in the faceless goons, taking a more prominent interest in finding the leader so she could sleep in safety. Whoever saved her probably wouldn't be there to catch her when she fell if it happened again. "Hoo, well I'll go an' check the storage and check the storage to see if he's stealing anything." She said, turning and raising an unsteady hand.




Safir Garethson
The Children of Fire
Image


Three days was just enough time for Safir to regain comfortable control of his body. No longer did he accidentally crush his bones in a fall or pop a joint out of it's socket with a swing. He could not say the same about Dresinil, but he seemed well enough off to join them on the mission that was announced to their leader- the unpredictable and unnerving Aesr. Once again, magic was utilized, and they were transported to a huge city. Safir's first emotions were that of frustration. Why the hell did they go through that triple-pace march for hours if they could have simply teleported to the tower? His second thoughts was that of how quiet everything seemed. Looking around, he finally noticed that indeed, everything was empty.

What were they doing here? The only logical assumption that Safir could make was that they were doing some grunt work and hauling supplies. However, the city looked long abandoned to the point where most of the food would have spoiled. Safir glanced at Dresinil, and to the rest of his comrades, but Aesr seemed absolutely outraged by the turn of events as well. Once again, the heavy-lidded knuckle head that was their captain had to placate the disguised dragon, who took the form of a catching elf.

For all their strength, by god did they have an equal amount of pride. Their disguises were uncannily beautiful. Shrugging slightly, he gave a reassuring nod to Carmen- their healer. Though clad his his armor and shield, such desolate silence made him feel vulnerable. Carmen's presence made him a lot more confident than he would be without her. They were off again, marching toward nowhere. He wasn't sure what was to come or make of this event, but Aesr certainly seemed agitated about something and Safir figured it might have something to do with this area. Safir noted that he was beside the moth woman as well as Carmen, and decided to converse with her to pass the time. "Three days enough for you? I think I broke more figures those past few days than the entire Civil armies throughout the war." He said, flexing his digits confidently.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Zulii Ma'kaurubaen Sleekfeathers Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Feng Tao Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr
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The Paragon
The Imperian, A Castle


Neira moved silently alongside Xeron, both rendered invisible by his psionics. There was a magic-dampening field around this place, and the sounds of battle from downstairs indicated that some of their number were discovering this quite quickly. Psionics were only magic in the loosest sense, and besides that, the dark elf beside her was a bit better at it than your average fool.

Not that she would ever tell him so, of course. Indeed, even as they continued their search, they were volleying back and forth telepathically, with she as usual content to shred at his invincible ego in a futile, though valiant effort to humble him.

Since she wasn’t exactly sure what they were supposed to be looking for, and would much rather be fighting downstairs with the others, her remarks had a bit more bite than they usually did. He didn’t much seem to mind.



Talae cursed under her breath, a string of the vilest oaths she knew in her native tongue. When Sid and Koni had gone below, her instinct had been to follow them into that unknown (and probably highly dangerous) situation, but her orders were clear.

As it was, her indecision had enabled the escape of her prisoner (Salim, she was told, though she hadn’t really wanted to know), and now she had been forced to follow the bastard. His path had taken him through several winding corridors, and a few wrong turns had forced her to take the time to slay some undead along the way. She had far too much experience with exactly that, and though her breaths came with a bit less regularity than normal and her hand-and-a-half dripped with ichor and gore, she was unmaimed.

Her last turn had put her at a dead-end, though she noted that the window at the terminus of the hallway was open, which prompted another vicious string of expletives. Of all the damn stupid things to-

Gritting her teeth, she padded along the hallway, sheathing her blade across her back. Leaping onto the windowsill, she looked out and saw her suspicions confirmed. Salim, apparently trying to chew through his bindings, was precariously-balanced on a ledge of stonework about four inches wide, above several slavering ghouls. “Ast’va, you fool!” she yelled, shaking her head. Without hesitation, Talae was out the window, but her race was much more accustomed to this sort of situation than humans were, and her natural grip was such that she was in no danger of falling… herself.

“Stay there if you still want to be alive at the end of this,” she grumbled, picking her way over to his location with deliberateness. She could probably move a bit faster, but she really didn’t want to spook him into doing something else fatally-stupid, like jumping, for instance.


The Children of Fire
The Imperian, On the March



Pylarea, who’d been lost in thought, noted that she was being spoken to and turned to the tin-man who’d issued the words. The proclamation of new strength evoked a nod in the moth-woman. It had been a trying few days, and she still was no soldier in the conventional sense- she’d never had to be, until she left Ecclavaria- she was feeling more assured in her capabilities, at least a little.

The blonde woman, Carmen, was covering a smile with her hand, apparently genuinely pleased that they were all now able to move without breaking things. The moth was about to respond in words, but was cut off by a particularly enraged shriek from Aesr, which caused her to flinch a bit. “We might need that soon, I think,” she replied, blinking slowly. Pylarea liked to consider herself pretty intelligent, but it didn’t take a genius to figure out that their leader wanted to smash something to bits. Which meant they’d all probably be following her into confrontation quite shortly.

Indeed, the entire group was soon on the march again, and the hours they spent covering ground (or, in her case, the air slightly above the ground) passed in relatively-pleasant conversation. Though Aesr would occasionally shoot a glare at anyone who dared to speak too loudly, Captain Tao apparently wasn’t bothered in the least by any of his soldiers socializing.



Once she’d concluded her jaunt into her native language, Shasarra smiled (somewhat nervously) at Zulii. The other woman actually reminded her of her older sister, who was also among the most traditional and fiercest of the harpies. Of course, Hatskar was dead now, slain in a battle against the Civil. It was the entire reason Shasarra had joined the draconian army in the first place.

Turning to Jivven, who she realized she’d forgotten to answer earlier, she shrugged diffidently. “Oh, yes, battle won. No losses, either. How glorious for all of us.” She scratched the shell of one slightly-pointed ear with a claw, a habit she had when she was considering something, then allowed one blond eyebrow to ascend her head. “But surely, the real glory is only there when your hands are bathed in the blood of your foes and the smell of it clings to your skin, no?” Her smile stretched over keenly-pointed canines. She may not dive into battle and feast on the fallen, but she was still of true harpy stock, after all.



The general chatter ended several miles from their destination, when Tao gestured for silence. Given that it was backed up by Aesr’s now-patented death glare, most complied immediately. Those that didn’t were quickly elbowed into submission by their compatriots, not desirous of a petulant dragon’s wrath upon them.

The second town they entered at first seemed like a replica of the first, empty save for the whistling air and dust. Ahead of them, though, the captain’s eyes narrowed, and he signaled something to Aesr, who nodded curtly, at which point he peeled off from the group and ran ahead while the dragon signaled a halt. Carmen, who had worked with both before, knew exactly what this meant, and placed her finger to her lips as an added plea for as much quiet as possible. When she lowered her hands, she clasped them together and closed her eyes, not even opening them again when the soft luminescence of holy magic started to seep from her skin.

Ten very tense and utterly quiet moments followed, during which a few dared not even breathe, and then Tao appeared once more, locking eyes with Aesr. The dragon’s voice over the mental connection that they all shared soon followed. “We’ve run into the Civil.” The last two words were almost spat, dripping with derision. “They’re sacrificing citizens to make more undead for Darenthi’s army. It is our task to stop them. Remember: undead can only be killed by beheading, fire, and holy magic. There will also be a necromancer in the area, and be careful of it.” Despite the note of warning in the words, she didn’t sound particularly concerned.

Carmen was a different story, though, and the cleric swallowed, at last releasing her hold on the spell that had begun to build. All of the members of the Aesr would then feel a boost in resilience, though the true potency of the spell would only be evident were they injured. There would still be pain, but a pain greatly reduced, so that they might fight more evenly with fell creatures that knew no agony at all.

As the procession started forward, she stopped Safir and Pylarea with a hand to each shoulder. Patting her hip with a hand, she stood as if holding a sword, then gestured to herself, indicating that she needed to examine their weapons for a moment. Pylarea handed hers over first, and Carmen smiled, praying over the thing for a few seconds, until it too, glowed with a radiant aura. If Safir would relinquish his, she did the same again, and both temporarily had divine magic with which to smite their undead foes. Such spells were difficult and draining, and probably not worth it in so small a quantity, but Carmen had been enjoying their company all morning, and wanted very much for them to survive.

Nodding, she gave them up to the battle, and then went about finding herself a strategic point from which to observe the battle and intervene as she was needed. If need-be, she could participate, but it was more strategically valuable to save her energy for healing the injured.



At the head of his company, Tao led the Aesr towards the center of the city. The dragon for whom they had been named had disappeared, but he had a vague sense of where she was, a privilege afforded to those of his rank.

Upon entering the town square, they were met with a grim sight: plainclothes villagers, tied into long chains of people, were being ritually executed by soldiers wearing the regalia of Nihil Darenthi’s Civil army. In most cases, it wasn’t long before the dozens of corpses rose again, taking up weapons as the undead. The necromancer himself was not immediately visible, but that meant nothing. He or she was present, and that was obvious.

At the moment, the element of surprise was on their side, but it wouldn’t be long until they were noticed. Tao gestured to those soldiers nearest himself and gestured for the others to divide in half and flank, cresting the rise that led to the square proper and laying into the first soldier he saw, the unnatural strength of the Children of fire ensuring that the elegant horizontal slice of his slightly-curved sword was enough to part the woman’s head from her shoulders smoothly as water.

After that, the alarm went up, and he surrendered himself to the battle.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Safir Garethson
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#, as written by Ezarael
Pylarea

The newfound strength in Pylarea’s wings greatly added towards her comfort for their long march, and indeed she had never been able to hover for this long of a period before the ritual, much less direct herself and maintain balance. It seemed she had a bit more stability than the harpies as well, their flapping wings looked to cause a bit of movement even when still, but this might have to do with the fact that she was utilizing her psionic abilities in tandem with her more powerful wings. She had been marching, well hovering, next to the Tin…no that wasn’t his name it was Safir, and the nice cleric whom she had heard called Carmen, since they had left under the command of Aesr, but little conversation had been made on her part.

Ever since she partook in the ritual of initiation Pylarea had been long lost in her thoughts, and they were not all focused upon trying to control her new body. It took a great deal more concentration now to not hear what others were thinking around here, their hopes, fears, and desires, or whatever you could call them. The first few days it felt like a tempest was stirring betwixt her ears, and it had been only yesterday that the headache began to subside. It seemed Safir had wanted for her to converse with him more openly, but she would just have to let his hopes down for the moment. Too bad there was more fighting to be done. This time they were told they would be facing the undead legions of The Civil.

The moth continued on in her half-dazed state, terrified about the impending conflict which was awaiting them. They would have to fight the dead, and not just men either, there would be women and children more than likely. How could anyone do such a thing? Just throw away someone’s life like it didn’t mean anything. If she thought like that though, were The Children any better? Isn’t that how they started, by being thrown into some awful trial-combat phase and whoever wasn’t chosen was either incinerated or thrown into more combat? This was just too much to think about right now though. She had to focus on the upcoming battle. Her hands were already shaking enough as is without compounding her doubts.

The Nightmarian still managed to strengthen her resolve, even if there was still some trepidation left in her heart. She had left Ecclavaria for a reason, she had wanted to join the Children and fight against her oppressors. These were her comrades now and there was no turning back, she had to stick with her choice. That was when she caught sight of the villagers being slaughtered by The Civil, and no sooner did they fall lifeless than their corpses clawed their way back into rank-and-file after just moments of death. A chill crept down her spine as the gravity of the situation hit her. There was a chance they could die, and then they would end up just like that. No wills, wants, or needs. She couldn’t let that happen, not to herself or anyone she had come to know in these past few days.

With her newly enhanced weapon at the ready, Pylarea decided it best to keep herself on the ground for this fight. The harpies would naturally take to the sky, but they had much greater mobility than she did. If anyone were to loose an arrow or spell she would probably be incapable of dodging the attack. There was always the chance she could use her powers to deflect whatever comes her way, but it seemed the best choice to do what she was familiar with since this was her first battle since the ritual. She noticed Safir tearing through the undead ranks like they were paper, and he seemed to have fewer restraints about fighting the poor souls than Pylarea at the moment.

Several of the unsavory creatures had noticed, or maybe not who was she to know, her hesitation in this matter, and seemed to decide the best thing for them to do was find something to tear into, and unfortunately she was their intended target. The amethyst foci of her antennae began glowing brilliantly as the chain-whips of her sural began writhing with supposed anticipation. With a flash they leapt out to bite deep into the undead flesh of their targets, eviscerating them in all fashions, their still warm blood flew in a dozen different directions as the whips snapped and popped to and fro, some of it splashed on Pylarea’s face. Her soft, pink tongue flickered out to lick at a droplet in the corner of her mouth and a smile spread across her lips. The heat of the battle had come up the Nightmarian.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Feng Tao Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr
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The Paragon
The Imperian, A Castle

She gazed at the tortured half-corpse without much visible expression, but that fact that she had fallen silent mid-sentence conveyed just as much as Xeron’s breathily-exhaled oath, and Neira closed her jaws with a faint click, nodding curtly and about-facing to stand in the doorframe, a tall if not massive shadow in the ebony leathers and cloth of the Paragon.

The conversation happening between the two minds behind her registered as a faint murmur in the back of her own mind, but because she was not consciously making psionic contact, the images and residual glimpses of memory made next to no sense to her. The mantra, though, she understood that, and subconsciously, she ground her teeth together, wishing right along with the poor soul he would just hurry up and end that miserable existence already. She could not call it a life, not really, for it was more mercy to die than experience it.

Her companion’s comment was curt, and even as she followed him back down the twisting hallways and staircases, her eyes narrowed to slits. “How, exactly, do you propose we do that?” There were scores of undead in this place, and she was not so stupid as to believe the Paragon’s force of a mere thirty had managed to chew through them yet.

Quite the opposite, likely: unless they were very lucky or very smart, it would soon be they who were spat out like so much rotten meat.



Talae, dead gods help her, actually growled at the man, a small frustrated noise at the back of her throat. He’d nearly cost himself his life, which would mean costing her her commission, and possibly her own life as well. It figured that she was both stuck guarding the hopelessly-lucky idiot and also that he was important.

Her jaw clenched as she jumped down from her spot on the wall and landed soundlessly beside him. “If you’re done making stupid jokes, we’re going back inside.” Her tone was flat, without much in the way of inflection, but it was a bluff and both of them likely knew it. She wasn’t precisely tall, but he was a good head higher than she was, which meant the fact that intimidating stares required eye contact rather counterproductive. In close quarters, he had her cold, as he’d demonstrated once already, but she was not one of the Paragon’s finest fencers for nothing, and the extra room here might make such a contest a bit more even.

Now, however, was neither the time nor the place to be having it, which meant she had to attempt something she hated almost as much as being beaten: negotiations.

“Look, I don’t know why the general insists that you live, and I’m going to be honest and say that I personally wouldn’t care if you dropped dead right now. But- you’ve seen what your employers like to do to the people they hire. Seems the logical thing to do might be to find new employment, and we just so happen to be hiring. Now, shall we move before more ghouls find us or do I have to knock you unconscious first?”



The Children of Fire
The Imperian, Town Center


Dark saw the blood it had drawn from the little-fast-thing, and something that might once have been a smile spread across its face. Unfortunately, this only made it look all the more twisted and terrifying, its teeth, slightly pointed in the canines like all its underground ancestors, caked in some reddish-brown muck that flaked slightly, dry due to the lack of saliva and other such living-creature functions.

As the little-fast-thing drew back, Dark grinned more widely, grey-fleshed lips drawing back so far they split and tore. Dark didn’t mind, for Dark felt no pain any longer. No pain, no fear… all of it was gone beneath the fuzzy haze of pleasant fight-lust-hunger. It cracked its knuckles, the bones shifting unnaturally, and Dark blurred, moving quickly enough that most would not track the movement easily. His patterns were erratic, but quick-fast-thing seemed to anticipate, and Dark knew that they were much the same, and both knew not to show their backs to each other.

A wet, gurgling hiss bubbled up from its throat, and Dark continued to circle, much more closely this time. The Swarm was keeping away air-flying-pain-bringers, and the Brethren occupied the painful-light-weapons and the shining-quiet-woman. Right now, the contest between Dark and the little-fast-thing was a draw, and Dark searched its surprisingly-cunning mind for a solution.

The answer had just presented itself when Dark staggered forward, confused. Looking down, it noticed that a hand-axe had embedded itself in one leg, severing the tendons and crippling even Dark. With a bestial howl, Dark rounded on this new threat, a grounded-flying-thing with numerous small-bleeding-wounds, and forgot the cardinal rule of combat.

Never show the enemy your back.



White lights exploded behind Shasarra’s vision as she impacted the roof, tumbling sideways and eventually falling from that, too, hitting the ground with a sickening crunch. Carmen’s spell numbed the pain, but she knew without looking that her wing was bent at an awkward angle, and it still hurt so badly that she lost her breath for a good five seconds, unable to gather the strength to force air into her lungs.

She was riddled with small abrasions, many of them oozing blood, but that was scarcely of concern to her. Her left wing was broken, probably shattered, and she was confined to the ground, where she was both slower and weaker, graceless as any creature who did not know the sky. It at once shamed her and inflamed her proud rage, and as soon as she could move again, she pushed aside all thoughts of agony and lifted herself from the ground, talons scrabbling for purchase on the cobblestones of the square.

The first undead who sought to take advantage of her condition received a crushed skull for his trouble, courtesy of her enhanced strength and roundshield. He crumpled to the ground, the spike on the shield having gone right through his eye.

What she saw next evoked an automatic reaction: Jivven was being circled by another undead soldier, and the muscles in that one’s legs were tensed and coiled to spring. Without thought, Shasarra hurled her axe, spinning it end over end until it embedded itself firmly in the back of the creature’s knee, staggering it for a moment. Unceasing, she picked up a nearby fallen pike and readied it as the thing turned, but she knew well enough that this particular foe was good as dead already, and smirked over its shoulder at the dark elf she’d been trying to kill less than a week ago.



Their holy weapons making quick work of the undead before them, it wasn’t long before Safir and Pylarea would find that they were able to cut a swath into the center of the fray, at about the same time as Carmen reversed the putrefaction process placed upon Oraun. The stammering necromancer Quwall was saved from the retribution of the enraged elf by the timely intervention of her partner, Knossus. The unusually-massive deep human man lowered the spell when Oraun’s steel rebounded off of it, sending the elf sprawling.

“Get a hold of yourself!” he barked at Quwall, and she straightened up immediately, shamed by her superior officer. He glanced over at the red-robed woman, little more than a wisp compared to his own bulk, but then magic was the great equalizer in that sense. The human girl could well have more power in her little finger than most possessed in every fibre of sinew and musculature.

That in mind, he called up the last resort, choosing to play all of his cards at once. A fell light set his eyes aglow with crimson malevolence, and he chanted low, in a tone ominous as much for the corrupted words it spoke as for the intended mood.

At first, the earth simply shook, trembling from within, its echoing murmurs cascading outward. The tremors drew the attention of Vortigern and Tao, and both approached, the latter tilting his head sideways, though looking only at Carmen. The cleric, Knossus noticed, was still smiling serenely, and nodded gently, which the red-haired man with the robes trimmed in charcoal seemed to accept with equanimity.

Well, things would soon be different. Slowly, sundering the cobblestones and wrenching a great hole in the ground, a skeletal body rose from the ground, the empty sockets where its eyes should be emitting that same unholy red light. The beast, once a dragon of size equal to a greater hatchling, opened its fleshless maw, its roar silent and almost parodic. With bones harder than steel and an animation not of its own making, it would not fall easily.

“Privates Pylarea and Weylin,” Tao began, and the tall, savage-looking elf nodded in reply, “the female necromancer. The other is mine. Carmen, Privates Garethson and Oraun, this beast.” It was not his desire to leave three soldiers to take care of such a creature by themselves, but he was probably the only one with sufficient training to kill a necromancer on his own, and he had not missed the glow of Carmen’s magic emanating from the weapons belonging to Safir and the nightmarian moth. The cleric, he trusted unconditionally, and that was not something he could say for most people.

They would have to be enough for now.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Liliana Bloodleaf Character Portrait: Torga Earth-Mender Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson
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#, as written by Arke
Kisikoni Ayalen
The Paragon


Image There was no time left to waste. It was aware of the dying halfling over his arms, and before long the wench would be completely consumed by the necrotic magics. It would earn him an earful from an unreasonable deep human over something he could not control. Even as it planned a method of escape, his blades continued to sing, lopping off heads and crushing skulls without so much as a pause for breath. It considered the state of the body it inhabited, which was already pushed to a dangerous limit. Well, a maimed host would be better than a dead host, even better if he is injured to the point where he is to be detained somewhere safe. Somewhere inside his mind, Kisikoni recoiled at the thought violently.

Rounding a corner, he quickly knocked a ghoul to the side, impaling it before turning to face Lily and her Sunwing, whom had just came around themselves. A pause occurred, while both adjusted and assessed the situation once more. The elf did a good job in adapting to the air of fear that it exuded, and even as they relieved it of the halfling. The elf made a quick comment, drawing a bow. It was impressed with her bravery, giving off a rough, rumbling sound that exited out of the holes on his face. A knuckle tapped against the lumps on his belt.

What are these, mortal?

"Magical Flares. We need to get those outside and call for help.

Without another second wasted, the deep human dove back into the oncoming horde. The growths on his face and armor became more and more pronounced, as he hacked and slashed with little restraint. What a weak body. The war was progressing too fast to allow enrootment the time it needed to completely attach to the host. And thus, he was stuck with this. The blades were visibly battered now, dark blood staining and drying on the deep human's hands and crossguards. Climbing up the stairs, he occasionally threw a backwards glance to make sure the elves were in a good position. Grabbing one of the small flare, it pulled the string that would ignite the fuse and threw it down a corridor. It exploded, but didn't provide the reaction that was satisfactory to the deep human. Hissing, he watched a couple of ghouls examine it briefly before returning their attention to the possessed deep human.

It wasn't long before they had progressed to the main level. Unfamiliar with the layout, it took a while for the deep human to navigate, minding the dire levels of stress the body was taking. Screeching in frustration, it took the second of the three flares Kisikoni brought with him and ignited it, throwing it through a window. Perhaps it would give the mortal's incompetent army time to realize something was wrong. The man's body was waning from it's angry pace. He must have killed more than a hundred of the damn things, but they showed no signs of letting up. Calculating furiously, it finally made it back into the main reception hall. This was the best place for the survivors to meet up, but even as it took the last few steps, it knew it could not hold this form any longer. Withdrawing voluntarily, Kisikoni stumbled from his dead sprint, and while the growth disappeared from the deep human, the full experience of the body's stress came crashing down on him. His vision flickered, and he dropped his swords. His battered muscles twitched, his arms reflexively clutching at his chest before they gave up and allowed him to hit the ground. Though his body remained whole, his muscles threatened to rip themselves apart as complete pain and utter exhaustion plagued Kisikoni's unconscious form.

Weak.




Mercy Yan'vega
The Paragon


Image Mercy sighed, watching the two men catch up. Was this all that remained? Hellstriker was a given- he was one of the original members of Wrath's squad and Blackguard. However, with only Jack at their side, they were doomed if they were to continue for the rest of the night taking this many losses. It was at this point, Jack attempted to lighten the grim joke as they caught their breath, looking around. Her voluminous red eyes regarded the ant for a second, before breaking out into a foolish grin. "That's the spirit." She cooed tiredly, patting the nightmarian on the head. A new noise registered in the spider's ears, as she looked up and saw an orc. She recognized him, scrutinizing the man as he came up behind Jack.

"Well. I take it by what you said that Beelzes sent you here?" She asked rhetorically. She already knew the answer- the deranged deep human hadn't quite been the same after Talae's sister Faera had vanished. "Either way, you're stuck with us, honey. What you see now, is all that's left so far. Might be others, but until we can find them they're just as good as dead." She said, wiping her forehead.

"Here's the situation, private. Our two men that had signal flares went and disappeared during this chaos, and we've got to find them, or we'll die trying to hold out until Wrath decides he should check the place out." With that, she heard a dull explosion somewhere below. Was that a flare? Well, blast if that was the case somebody must be alive down there. The ghouls may have tripped it, but the odds of that were so unlikely it must have been a conscious operator. However, before she could decide whether or not to pursue that noise, she heard another explosion. A second flare, this time somewhere around them instead of under.

"Looks like we have some fighters!" She said, giggling. Elbowing Thanaros, she motioned to Torga and Jack to follow her as she used her Nightmarian vision to pick her way through the darkness. Without the moonlight outside fully lighting the way, it would prove difficult for those without night vision to navigate the ruined area. Eventually, the group could hear the sounds of bowstrings twinging. Turning the corner into the reception hall, they saw a prone body that looked so bad she almost mistook it for a ghoul. Examining it, she muttered, "Looks like Ayalen, but I don't see Grimsmirk anywhere. Bowfighting is going on, but I can't see the Sunwings." With that, she moved in to clear away the ghouls surrounding the unmoving deep human.




Safir Garethson
The Children of Fire
Image


The fight was going extremely well. With the cleric's magic backing his sword and his armor protecting him from the ravenous claws, Safir didn't even realize he had burned his way through group after group of the undead ahead of his allies until he found himself fighting deep near the heart of all the activity. Tao and Vortigern were fighting alongside them, and Safir had the rare opportunity to behold both his commanding officers engaged in the heat of battle. A style far more graceful and precise than his powerful rough n'tough style of fighting. Safir could only hope he could be so ruthlessly efficient without the help of Carmen, who he was genuinely grateful for. With his sturdy armor and powerful enchanted shield and a powerful enhanced sword, he allowed the bloodrage to consume him. This was the ideal conditions. If he could, he would fight every battle like this. Even as he roared, smashing a rotting skull in with nothing but the hilt of his sword. Even as he blocked a swipe that wouldn't have hurt him much, and gutted the offending renevant and stepped on it's head.

However, things would change. They weren't the Civil, one of the major factions if they were this easy to take on. The ground shook as some unholy magic tore apart the stones under their feet. A skeletal beast rose from the earth, burning red eyes giving it a perverted semblance of life. However, it's impressive size and undeniable strength to displace so much earth left an impression on the knight, whose bloodlust cleared enough for him to hear Vortigern's commands.

As much as he hated to put the healer in the fight, he knew it was directly necessary. There was something about a the Children that had a sense of family and protectiveness. It was naught but a day after they had been fighting each other to the death that they were protecting each other from it. Gripping his sword tighter, he yelled in affirmation as he sized up his opponent. The Dragon was not smart or sentient by any means, but made up for that with a lack of obvious way to kill it and power. The area had cleared up well, though. In it's flashy entrance, the dragon had knocked the surrounding ghouls away, and now it was Safir, Carmen, and Oraun.

"Any ideas, human?"

"Let me test it out. I have the most armor."

And with that, Safir directly engaged the beast. Lunging at it, Safir ducked a powerful horizontal swipe, attempting to cut at the bone with his holy sword as it passed over him. It seemed to have done some sort of damage- though the bone could not be cut the magic did seem to leave a scorch on the bone that seemed to stimulate the skeletal wyrm. Once again, he had Carmen to thank. "Tough deadwalker." He grunted, dodging another swipe. Evading the beast's attacks was definitely the best method in taking it out. Though he was clad in armor, many mistook it as a fact that his speed would go down. While that was true in a sense, he still retained his flexibility, as armor without any leads to broken bones and sitting targets. He was also stronger now, the armor felt more like cow leather clothing. However, as more cuts appeared on the Dragon's claws, it began to smarten up slightly. Instead of strokes, it opted for a more dangerous smash. Safir barely dodged the skull-crushing bones that caused the ground to rumble, stumbling backward. Stones bounced off his visor. He wasn't getting anywhere wildly swinging at the wyrm's arms, he had to go for something else. Perhaps, the eyes. A small target, but it was the only place worth noting that the dragon might take some considerable damage.

"You have a plan."

"I do. Distract it while I try to get it's eyes."

The elf snarled, rushing the beast, and attempted to rain heavy blows onto it with his axe. Ducking low, he raced toward the dragon once more, his blade streaking for the monster's right eye.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zulii Ma'kaurubaen Sleekfeathers Character Portrait: Safir Garethson
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#, as written by Basta
Zulii Ma'kaurubaen Sleekfeathers

Just as she was getting into the comfortable swing of battle again, Zulii felt a disturbance in the air. She searched for the perpetrator, but forgot the cardinal rule of aerial combat...Look up. Quicker than she could react, Zulii was swarmed by a host of winged creatures. Screeching out her defiance, the harpy launched off the roof as hard as her feet could manage and carrying her straight through the heart of the swarm. She didn't get out unscathed, but she certainly had a better time of it than Shasarra. Or, so she thought. Zulii's herculean leap sent her rocketing straight at the undead dragon that had mysteriously appeared. Zulii had all of two seconds to wonder where in the thirteen hells this beast had come from, and then she smashed into the damned thing.

The wind knocked out of her, stunned, and covered in probably venomous insect stings, the witch doctor had seen better days. That didn't stop her from sort of worming her way backwards, in the opposite direction of the gigantic undead monster that probably would love to eat her. First things first, she had to take care of the bites and scratches before they became even more infected. The swarm buzzed about angrily above her, but seemed to have lost track of its target in the chaos. Another saving grace was that her impact seemed to have jarred and distracted the beast, allowing her allies to attack it with relative immunity.

"Pissing hurt stings! Heal now so I can be fighting again," grumbled the harpy to her own body. Something in the magic that reanimated the creatures prevented her from completely flushing out the poison in her system, but she was able to stave it off enough that she could join in the fight. Collecting a mace and hammer lying nearby, Zulii charged in like a berserker, slamming the instruments into the beast's leg. Each blow released a small puff of powder and some bone flakes, but she could tell that at most she was merely irritating the dragon. It seemed no closer to re-death then when she had first met up with it.

Feeling out with her mind, Zulii tentatively touched the human warrior's consciousness, receiving a flood of information about him. HumanSafirGarethsonhurtholymagicfriend came the torrent into her mind. She gritted her teeth and pushed back, sending a message before forcing the flow to stop. She simply asked "Where?", but ladened it with emotions and partial feelings, indicating that she wanted to know where he needed her most.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Feng Tao
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#, as written by Ezarael
Pylarea

The way Weylin had responded to her thoughts almost made Pylarea feel bad for even speaking, well thinking, them out loud to him, she might as well have told him, “Follow this you dummy!” It was a little too late to apologize though, there was a good chance it would only distract him if she started to speak to him. That and she might just lose her concentration and botch this fancy little plan she cooked up out of the middle of nowhere.

Wow… Her plan actually worked. It happened much faster than Pylarea had expected as well, not much sooner did she began relaying the sonic pings to Weylin than she felt them dissipate. It seemed that was not the end of their encounter though, as soon as the Nightmarian released her concentration on the cloud and pings she saw a burst of hellfire leap forth from the defeated necromancer. Luckily her compatriot managed to dodge the first gout with seeming ease, but that was not the end of their trouble.

Er… Pylarea, lass, I’m gonna need a way outta this, or chances are good I’ll burn ta death, if ya take my meanin’.

Uhm…yeah, this was not so good. How many options are there when it comes to saving a comrade from a wave of savage hellfire, really, how many? For a regular magic user there would probably be plenty of options, but she was just a Psionic, she used her mind to manipulate the environment around her. In all actuality Pylarea was not even a professional yet, she had just received a decent boost in her abilities after being initiated into the Children.

Get ready!

Without hesitating another moment the Moth dropped the hold she had on her wings to give her the lift forcing her to fall towards the ground, but it gave the Nightmarian just the extra bit of force she needed to accomplish her next feat. With a quick mental shove Weylin went flying both up and away from the spewing inferno towards the direction opposite Pylarea herself. There should have been just enough force to lift him over the cloud and safely outside of the flames area of destruction. He probably would not land very softly though, but hopefully she had given him enough warning to merit a safe landing.

She, on the other hand, was not in such a good position. It had taken more focus to speak quickly and send him up and over than was necessary for her to make a perfect landing. Although she did not fall flat on her face, which would have been just dreadful, her rear end did receive quite the shock as she plumped down flat on her behind. A grimace spread across Pylarea’s face as the pain shot all the way up her back to the nape of her neck, but thanks to her nifty Arc Shell nothing was broken of seriously damaged, well except maybe for her pride just a little bit.

Their battle was not over yet though. It seemed that Safir was still locked in combat with the reanimated corpse of a dragon, and Captain Tao seemed locked in a, somewhat perplexingly, lackadaisical duel with the other necromancer for The Civil. Who should she help? Captain Tao actually seemed to be holding his own quite well. Her mind was made up rather quickly though. Once the dragon decided to target Carmen her decision was made. There was no way she could let the creature kill her new friend.

The foci in Pylarea’s antennae began to glow brightly once again as the Nightmarian severed her connection with the others, if something was to happen she was not expecting she could not risk them suffering from any backlash. The Moth quickly linked with the dragon’s mind. She could feel the creature’s pain, frustration, and even confusion at what was happening right now, but that was the least of her concerns. She focused with all of her might to send the beast a psionic shriek, probably the equivalent of having a bolt of lightning strike the ground right next to a regular being. Hopefully it would stall the beast for a moment, just a moment was all they would need.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson
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#, as written by Arke
Kisikoni Ayalen
The Paragon


Image As it turned out, the deep human had nearly suffered total heart failure, brought on by overexertion. While he should have died, some unknown force kept his heart beating unnaturally, until an electric charge was applied and restarted the heart. None of the medics were quite sure where this power stemmed from, but nowadays nothing was sure about Kisikoni. His entire body, though not visibly injured was damaged on the inside. muscles were swollen and inflamed, stretched to the very limits. Some broken bones from limbs that moved faster than the body could catch up, and a dislocation of the left arm. Deciding not to waste pain medicine, Kisikoni had been put to sleep to allow the wounds to heal naturally.

And so, the deep human remained in his slumber for the duration of the trip.




Mercy Yan'vega
The Paragon


Image Spending most of the night frustrated, the Nightmarian Spider finally decided to get a check up after getting a couple hours of rest. God knows when they'll move out again, but in the Paragon, "we're moving out" was a phrase used almost as often as "yes sir". Mercy had not suffered any particularly bad wounds, just bruises and scrapes. Thankfully, many of the ghouls attacked her armored abdomen, and before they could tear chunks from the tough chitinous plates, she successfully fended them off with her powerful legs and flail. She refused bandaging, asking only for sterilization. Her body regenerated fast enough that the fabric would simply be a waste.

She entered her tent once again, sleeping for another period of time before the call was made. They were moving out once more. Mercy was not a morning person, but she rose all the same and forced herself awake. The life of a mercenary still had it's traces on the spider, who blinked her voluminous red eyes in protest against the rising sun. Commotion and chaos began to flood the encampment as things were packed, the wounded were prepped, and the army mobilized under the watchful gaze of Wrath- now devoid of his second-in-command. She debated going to him and keeping the poor boy company, but she spied the red glint of that Red. She decided to avoid her altogether, they just didn't seem to mix very well. She sighed. She could use some company, Spiders were hardly ever accustomed to long migrations. Actually, scratch that. She knew a spider back home whose kids traveled by parachutes made of webbing. Light little brats they were.

It wasn't long after they started marching that a familiar companion drew close to her. Neira, the pugilist that had been spending her days joined at the hip with Xeron finally tired of his odd mannerisms. Well, it wasn't exactly true, but it was where the Spider spied the dragonfly nowadays. It was a good sight to finally be together. However, what really suckered Mercy was the bottle of vintage Neira drew from her bodice, causing her voluminous red eyes to flare with desire.

"Oh Neira! You shouldn't have!" She exclaimed, enveloping the dragonfly in a fierce hug. Right after, she grabbed the bottle, smacking her lips. "Nightmarian Vintage! Haven't had this in years! The dumb loafers at the local bars say it's too dangerous!" She rambled happily. Her morning had gotten exponentially better, perhaps this war was worth fighting after all. With an experienced finger, she popped open the sealed bottle, taking a swig and sighing in contentment. "Well now, I certainly owe you a favor, dear." She said, grinning at the dragonfly.




Safir Garethson
The Children of Fire
Image


The blade sunk right into the bone without effort. Enthralled by his success, Safir bellowed, using his waist and arms to drive the sword in even further. Even with his very rudimentary grasp of magical theory, Safir knew from the impact and the reaction from the undead dragon that he had achieved an edge. However, instead of an advantage, he realized that as the bones collapsed and the dragon ceased to move. Hardly daring to believe his eyes, they eventually took in the crumpled corpse. Safir Garethson! Slayer of undead beasts!

He backed away from the corpse in a wary manner all the same, but after catching Carmen's tired grin, he figured that it was done for good. After all, she was the magic specialist. During the entire conflict, Safir had been ignoring the enemy ranks to engage the dragon. They didn't worry him, as his armor protect him well from most blows the zombies could muster up- and the skeletal wyrm was definitely more of a threat if left unchecked. When he turned to see that they were mopping up the last of them, he was surprised. Looks like the Necromancer had been defeated, which meant he didn't do it all by himself. Technically. Safir wanted to believe he had a fundamental role in stopping the beast. Soon, orders wafted around their heads, allowing them to take refuge for the night. Lifting the helmet off his head, he figured it was all clear now. "Phew. What a fight, wasn't expecting that for my first battle." Safir said to the air. He quickly began work on the mass graves, throwing bodies in before tagging out with another soldier that had acquired a place to sleep.

Wandering among the wreckage, he eventually found a fairly-close house off the main road where he fought Easkr. Fitting for a building once part of the Imperian, it was fairly tall and almost proportionate to how close it was to the main road- where buildings tended to be bigger. Entering, he found that though it was abandoned, it was fairly clean. All Safir really needed was a bed he could claim at this point, which he found upstairs. Throwing a set of his Children's Robes onto the covers to park his spot, he went downstairs. Poking around, he discovered a jar of honey, a half-empty case of spirits, and some smoked meats. Though half the meats were spoiled, the honey and spirits should still be alright. Smoke was now rising in a thick column outside, a signal that the pyre was now well underway.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Safir Garethson
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#, as written by Ezarael
Pylarea

Pylarea found herself shocked at the utter lack of compassion or respect for the dead on the part of a goodly portion of her new comrades. When told they were permitted to salvage for any supplies they dove on the corpses of the undead and truly dead as harpies would a fresh slab of meat, some even fought over their prizes as harpies would as well. It would be best to keep that analogy to herself though, she did happen to be in league with several of the creatures, and not a one seemed like they would take kindly to such sentiments.

Instead of “salvaging” any equipment or goods the Nightmarian, instead, held a short ceremony to honor those who had died, in the tradition of the Nightmarians of course and without the use of a pyre. After her few minutes of reverence Pylarea decided it would be best to find somewhere to make camp, well it was not necessarily a camp since she would not need to pitch a tent or anything due to the large number of buildings capable of residence but that was decides the point. A cursory glance around gave glimpse to the sight of Safir, the human who seemed to enjoy living in his armor. There actually was not much she could question on that part in all truth since her Arcshell was more or less a suit of armor such as his, but she was forever trapped whilst he could remove his extra layer.

It did not take long for the moth to discover Safir’s whereabouts, despite losing sight of the large man as difficult as that sounded, mainly because she was able to use her echo-location-like ability to keep tabs on where he went. When she finally did catch up with the man he had found shelter within a particularly large building near the main road and had salvaged several supplies from the storeroom downstairs. Luckily her body was able to sustain itself without food for a bit longer time than he would, and on top of that she did not require the sustenance of meat.

“Hello Safir. How are you feeling after the fight from earlier? I hope the dragon did not prove too harmful to you.

He did seem worn out, but as far as she could tell he was not much worse for the wear. The humans were a strange lot though, she still could not tell much about them besides the fact they had a soft outer-layer and tended to…what was that word…bruise yes that was it.

“Oh, I am so sorry. I did not mean to bother. Would it be okay for me to join you here?”

She could not see why he would not acquiesce to her request. It seemed like he was a nice enough person, but then again maybe all humans just pretended to act nice so they could take advantage of you later on. The Civil definitely seemed to practice portraying such false-images with a frequency and efficiency that was quite startling. Nightmarians had always been much more translucent in regards to such things, they were usually very straightforward and clear in their actions, well depending upon their breed. Some like the spiders seemed to prefer trickery and the like to accomplish their goals.

“So what is your opinion on The Civil? I could not believe what they did to this town today, and that they are doing it to countless others just like this one. I wish there was more I could do to help.”

She was completely honest in those regards. Pylarea had never truly known hatred before this battle, but now the bitter emotion began festering in the back of her mind. She wanted to end the brutal onslaught of The Civil no matter if the cost was her own life.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Liliana Bloodleaf Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr
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Jivven Noda'Razzr


Jivven cursed and kicked the door, finishing it off for good in a shower of splinters. This was the third damn house along the main road that was ruined far beyond being used as a decent enough shelter. The entire second floor was missing, as in it was now part of the ground floor, the roof was nonexistent, and the walls had so many hole he could swear that if a strong wind came through, he would hear it whistle. He gave up and threw his hands up in the air and left the entrance, cursing all the while under his breath. There had to be a decent house in this place, they all couldn't be destroyed, could they?

He sighed, cursing about it wasn't going to magically rebuild it. He'd just have to keep trying, as before, they all couldn't be destroyed. On his journey to find the one house that wasn't more firewood than house, he pondered on things. He wondered if Shasarra was okay. She'd probably be with the medics, getting her wings looked at. Heh, would have thought he'd actually come to like the harpy. Sure, she was a bit stuffy but she more than proved her worth. He'd just have to conveniently forget that he was one finger short because of her. Besides, it never hurt to have a friend in the skies.

The forth house wasn't completely destroyed, but had already been claimed by some of the other Children. It was too crowded for the dark elf's tastes and decided to look elsewhere. But it did prove that there were still intact houses around. He gave the men and women in the house a wave and went on. His next thought was about the creature he had fought today. The darkling fellow. Could Jivven actually end up like that creature if he died? The thought sent shivers down his spine. If he died, he'd have to make sure that he goes out with a bang. Don't want to end up like that poor sod.

As he approached the next house, his trained dark elven ears heard a strange sound. It sounded like someones ragged breathing. The dagger flew from somewhere in his robes and to his hand in mere moments. Breathing like that reminded him of the zombies they just fought. Perhaps there were stragglers they didn't catch. The houses would make a perfect hide out for the foul creatures.

Jivven silently pressed against the outside of the house and slowly made his way to the door, a throwing knife appearing in his left hand. He had the element of surprise, the bastards would never see him coming. He didn't even need to take off his robes for this. He counted steadily down from three, and on one suddenly appeared in front of the door. However, instead of zombies, he was greeted by comrades. Injured comrades. The blades in his hands disappeared as he ran to the nearest injured man, the human Safir. He was admist a pile of splintered wood and his breathing was the ragged sound he had mistaken for a ghoul.

"Fuck, fuck, fuck," Jivven cursed in rapid succession, "What happened?" He asked, oblivious to the fact that the human may not be able to answer him. Jivven's eyes were wide and he felt worried for his comrade. "Uh- I'll go get help! Yeah I'll- Dammit! What happened to you?!" He asked, skirting across the room to Pylarea. He quickly tried to assess the damage, but he was no medic. As far as he could tell he could tell, she was bruised and missing part of her antennae. But they both were still alive. "I'll go get help! Don't move or- Fuck!" He said, running out of the house and yelling for a medic.

He happened upon Carmen during his mad sprint, and remembered she was some sort of cleric, mage or something like that. A medic in essence. He went to grab her hand to drag her to Pylarea and Safir while speaking in fragmented sentences, "Come on! Safir, Pylarea! Hurt! House! Over there! Fuck!"




Liliana Bloodleaf


"Guess." Lily replied poking her head through the tent flaps with a coy smile. The elf's voice easily identified her despite the dim light in the tent. Lily could see just fine in the low light though, thanks to her elven eyes. Something about evolving to hunt in the dim light of the forests? "Try to be a little bit more polite though, else I'll have to stop visiting," She said jokingly. Lily always seemed to be more comfortable around Turha than anyone else in the Paragon, and though not the bright paragon of innocence she once was, he was the only one who saw the closest thing to it.

"You're not busy, are you?" She asked. Despite his answer, she stepped into the tent, allowing the flap to slide back behind her. She looked... Different. She wasn't wearing her patched live leathers, or even the rough travel-stained clothing she wore into battle. Surprisingly, she actually was wearing a simple but elegant white dress that flowed all the way down to her bare feet. The dress fit her just right in all the right spots and was spotless. Dead gods only knew where she found something like that. Her head was no longer obscured by her hood , and actually looked combed for once. As combed as her golden wavy locks could be anyway. Her bow and quiver were left in her own tent. She actually looked like a woman now, instead of some rag-tag soldier.

The airy girl blushed as she caught Turha's eyes, then she smiled. "The Sunwings actually bought this for me at the last town," She said, spinning allowing Turha to get a full view of the dress. That explained the mystery as to where the dress came from. She must have had it stowed away in a pack somewhere during the traveling. "I tried to yell at them for it, but I just couldn't. They said I deserved something nice for once," She said. Despite how much she tried to play it off, it was obvious to everyone she cared about those three. "May I?" She asked, pointing at the bed. Turha nodded, letting Lily take a seat beside him.

"How are they?" Turha asked about the Sunwings. Lily sighed and looked shrugged. "Fine. They're out on patrol now. Adel said something about actually getting one of the reds to give her a ride. Zyn and Landion each took a ground patrol. I'm proud of them. Even despite Adel's huge mouth," She said, adding to the hyperbole with hand motions, "Between her and Zyn, it's like trying to herd cats," she added, laughing. Her laughter was infectious and had Turha chuckling as well. As the laughter died down Lily still smiled. "Still though. We're family, and I love them like family," She said sighing.

"You know... I never really felt like I had a family before," She said, her smile finally leaving her face. She leaned against Turha for support as she spoke "Back before the Paragon, before the Blackguard. Back with my clan, the Bloodleaf, I never felt like I truly belonged. I was cheerful- optimistic- while everyone else was serious. Survival, that was what mattered back then. Not happiness. Happiness and optimism blinded you to what the world was really like," She said, laying her head on Turha's lap. "Still though, I clung to it. Perhaps I didn't really want to know what the world was like. How we had to fight every day just to stay alive. I heard stories about how the clan fended off the Children, and the Primah before that. But they we're just stories back then."

She sighed, but continued talking. This had been a burden on her shoulders for a long time now, and this talk was a long time coming. "I don't know if my clan was the ones who left me, or I was the one who left. When I got separated from them in the Ashwoods, I don't know if they looked for me or if I just ran and never looked back. I just don't know any more," She said, taking one of Turha's hands and holding it against her chest. "I don't hold a grudge against them anymore. They had to do what they thought they needed to do to survive, as did I. I don't know if it was the right choice or not, but I do know if I didn't leave I wouldn't have found the Paragon," She said, looking up at Turha with a smile. Her eyes blue eyes once again were bright- even in the dim light of the tent. "I wouldn't have met Wrath, or Kisikoni, or Sid, or Faera, Caine, Talae, Alistair, and everybody else in the Paragon. You all mean so much to me and are more of a family to me than anyone in the Bloodleaf ever was, and I would gladly follow you all anywhere."

Then she reached up and cupped Turha's face with a soft hand, "Especially you, Turha Mialee. You mean the most to me," She said, pulling him in for a long kiss.

With that, what little light in the tent was extinguished.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr
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The Paragon
The Imperian


A soft grunt escaped the dragonfly as she was engulfed in spiderly affection, if you could call it that. She considered a (comparatively) good-natured crack about addictions, but in the end declined.

“Hm… don’t say things like that. I’ve been known to actually take people up on debts,” Neira replied dryly, working the cork from her own bottle with a single pointed digit. She didn’t drink nearly as quickly as Mercy, though, mostly sipping on the brew sporadically throughout the day. Not that it mattered; the stuff was so potent that she spent the majority of the afternoon pleasantly buzzed. Made marching considerably more tolerable. Once, she would have been able to waste away her days in this manner if she so wished, for people of her stature were not required to assist in manual labor. It was amusing, in a bitter sort of way: she’d always wanted to be a soldier, but that had never been allowed. Now she was, and she was almost nostalgic for the old days when slaughtering things wasn’t a daily reality.

Wait… what? She looked down at the bottle in her hand and shook her head, causing the world to tilt slightly. That was a passing fancy of incredibly stupid proportions. She wasn’t good at anything else, so why bother to long for days when she had to pretend to have a head for diplomacy and the graceful arts of conversation?

“Do you ever miss it? The Hive?” she asked suddenly, though her words were enunciated clearly still. After that slip, though, she clamped her mouth shut and said nothing for the rest of the trip, though she would admit to being interested in the answer.



The Crater


“Hm. Pretty,” Her voice was a drawl, laced with something approaching disdain. “But does it have a use?” Neira hopped down over the ledge and into the crater Wrath currently occupied, able to avoid falling off-balance by sheer dent of practice and muscle memory. The body remembers what even the mind forgets, an old man had once told her.

She glanced again at the stone, but whatever fascination it held for him wasn’t hers. She blinked slowly, and a silence stretched over the space, until she broke it again, handing the general the remnants of the liquor, still a good quarter-full. “If you’ve ever had a mind to learn about the other half of your culture, I’m in a foul enough mood to talk about it. You can start with this. Keep it to a couple swallows, though, because I don’t know how inoculated you’d be against it.” The fact that she could still use the word ‘inoculated’ was perhaps overridden by the fact that she was offering to talk about Nightmarians.

Truthfully, she didn’t know if he was even interested, but what the hell? It wasn’t like she had anything better to do at the moment. Maybe she’d just talk at him for a while, and see how long he’d listen before he up and left.

She’d always been called insufferable, after all; might as well make an effort to live up to expectations every once in a while.


Medical Tent


Fak’ir and Talae entered the tent together, though they were there for quite different reasons. The halfling with the desert complexion was running supplies for the healers, being without an active assignment at the moment. His captain was there on a more personal matter, but of course he wasn’t about to ask her about it. Captain Shanir was known for two things: her swordplay and her reticence. As far as he could tell, she spoke easily with about three people, and of those, one was dead and one was off marshaling a force of harpies to aid the Paragon. The third was presently unconscious in this tent, as he’d told her when she asked.

The shadowmage passed the cot where that earth-rending orc had been earlier in the day, only to find it empty. Shame; he’d been interested in bringing up elemental theory with a fellow practitioner. Maybe he’d catch him later.

He saluted Sid when he walked by, which should have been awkward with his hands full of blankets and apothecary’s supplies, but wasn’t because of his balance and training. Being taught to move fluidly through and with dark spaces had the occasional fringe benefit. “Captain,” he offered, and nodded to Beelzes not too far away. Unlike his superior officer, the Lieutenant was rather social for a wetboy. He didn’t see the correlation between killing for a living and ignoring the living.

The supplies were dropped carefully onto a table slightly further back, and he fastidiously checked the labels on everything before he let them be. It wouldn’t do to mistake wort for nightshade, or vice-versa. Especially vice-versa.

He caught a brief glimpse of the captain at her old partner’s bedside, but if he registered anything more than this barest of details, he would never mention it.



Due to what was quickly being recognized as a ‘special condition,’ Kisikoni was somewhat removed from the rest of the patients. No need to provoke suspicion among the other soldiers if he accidentally sprouted extra limbs during a particularly bad dream or something. To Talae’s knowledge, this had never occurred, but she supposed it was worth being paranoid about.

She’d hoped to find him awake, but it seemed that he’d been out for most of the afternoon. The attendant nurse was sparing with the details, and she didn’t seek after them. There was a stool by his bedside, though, and she took it, perching on the edge like she might at any moment have to flee or fight.

“I’m leaving,” she said aloud, then halted, a bit surprised at herself. Nevertheless, she saw no harm in it, so she kept speaking. “I’d wait until later to tell you as much, but that time is a luxury I don’t have. Solo mission this time though, so… well, I should be back shortly at any rate.” And you’d better not be in this state when I get back.

“About the other thing… I understand why you didn’t say anything. I’m… glad you did, though, eventually. I’d match a secret with a secret, but the point would be moot right now, so… later.” If you die, I won’t forgive either of us.

Sighing softly, Talae rose slowly, slipping her fingers across Koni’s palm and squeezing briefly, touching the knuckles of his hand to her forehead. It was an old gesture of familiarity, one used often among the people of her village to bestow luck. “Fortune be with you, partner. We shall need it.”



The Children of Fire
The Imperian, On the March



Carmen gently touched the tawny feathers and flesh that comprised Shasarra’s wings, barely grazing the surface. Even so, the harpy hissed and cursed low in her native tongue, causing the healer to send her an apologetic look. For some time now, Camen had been in the peculiar Zen-like haze that characterized one of her healing trances. Her teacher had called them a special gift from the gods themselves, but of course the gods had been dead by the time Carmen was born.

Godsent or not, it allowed her to stave off the weaknesses and frailties of her own body long enough to complete her tasks. The soft, aureate glow of her holy magic seeped into the harpy’s bones, rearranging the shattered fragments like a series of puzzle pieces, and slowly, so slowly, knitting them together. The flesh followed, but Carmen knew not how to reattach feathers, so a few of those would have to regrow on their own. It shouldn’t interfere with flight, though, so she wasn’t too worried about it.

Shasarra flexed the limbs with surprising ease, and shot a glance at the blond woman. To all appearance, the healer did not belong in an army: she carried no weapons, had little musculature, and though her stature was relatively tall, it was not sturdy. Her hands were without callus, her hair and clothing free of battle-debris, which frankly perturbed the harpy, so used to being neck-deep in the gore of her foes. Nevertheless, she grudgingly acknowledged her respect for the cleric with a nod, taking off to stretch her sore muscles.

Carmen was just thinking about how nice it would be to sit down with a cup of tea, and perhaps play a signing-game with the Captain, when she was approached by a panicked-looking dark elf she recognized as Jivven. Unlike her superior officer, she was very good with names, even if she never got to say them. As soon as the words ‘Safir’ and ‘Pylarea’ were out of his mouth, she was running as close after him as she could, scarcely needing to be pulled along.

They came upon a standing structure of about two stories in height, and she was ushered in the front door without any further ado. The scene that met her eyes confused her, but she did not bother to hesitate. By now, she was completely exhausted from the exertions of the day, but she would not give that more than a passing consideration. Pylarea seemed to be bleeding from the head, but she was still conscious. Safir looked to have been tossed like a rag doll, and his neck was displaying a very worrisome injury, so it was to him that she went first.

His breath was shallow, and a closer examination of the wound revealed a pattern that she had never seen left by a physical weapon, blunt or sharp. This caused her brows to furrow, but right now the important thing was not what had happened, but how to fix it. Breathing deeply, Carmen closed her eyes and laid the pads of her fingers over his windpipe. Normally, contact was not essential, but because the wound was as much internal as external, it would be easier this way. Her own magic circulated around her lungs and heart, an unusual center for something that was usually found in either the head or the belly. Drawing it out in threads, she willed it to repair the damage, but it was slow going. A solid five minutes later, Safir’s throat was once again fully functional.

Attempting to stand, Carmen staggered, catching herself on Jivven’s shoulder, and tried to smile reassuringly at a rather traumatized-looking Pylarea. Motioning for the Nightmarian to lower her head, Carmen placed an index and middle finger on each temple. This was more delicate work, because she was working with anatomy around the brain, though it was far enough away from the vital functions that she felt comfortable healing it in this state.

The wound was jagged, and Carmen had to resist the urge to shiver. It looked like it had been torn off, not merely sliced. Stopping the bleeding was simple enough, but she didn’t know if the psychological implications would be as easy to cope with. That wasn’t really her area of expertise.

Cutting off the flow of magic, Carmen lowered her hands with that same mysterious smile and managed to conduct herself to an unused corner of the room, where she promptly curled up on the floor, hugging her knees to her chest and falling asleep.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr
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#, as written by Ezarael
Pylarea


Safir, Pylarea’s chosen company for the moment, was still choosing not to speak with the moth, and it seemed he did not even acknowledge her presence for all the Nightmarian could tell. Have I upset him in some fashion? Maybe I should not have bothered him after all. What could I do to cheer him up? Maybe nothing… The woman always fretted over such things, being raised as a noble, even if a minor one at that, forced a person to carefully examine every action and reaction to judge what it reflected upon the other’s inner-most thoughts and feelings concerning the environment around them. This was indoctrinated all the much more so in the female Nightmarians. By the looks of things it would just be best to wait for the human to open up in his own time, he was probably as exhausted as she was from the previous battle.

The time passed slowly as the two sat in their quiet little building, Safir feasting on his salvaged meal and Pylarea merely watching him and observing the building around her. Their solitude was interrupted though by the sounds of footsteps approaching. It is probably no more than just another Child coming to seek shelter for the night. I wonder if they will be more willing to converse than Safir. The man, or at least he looked like a man, approached them somewhat tentatively, but not strangely enough like he knew exactly what and who to suspect to find in the larder, and greeted them apologetically. Strange, I do not remember seeing him around before. Where was he while we fought the Civil?

He started to speak of smelling something, but quickly drifted off in mid-sentence when his eyes began to wander around Pylarea’s direction, it was probably the food located behind her. After regaining his composure he glanced at the moth again, which did not really register, it was not the first nor would it be the last time someone had taken notice of her looks, but what soon followed far from what Pylarea would have suspected. Some unknown force struck Safir and hurled the man across the room like a child would a rag-doll when throwing a tantrum. “By the Hive Mother, Did you just hit him with telekinesis?”

What… Before Pylarea could even finish her thought a force, what probably was the same one which had hit Safir, made contact with her skull. Her Arc Shell had proven much more capable of negating the blow than the human’s body, but it could not manage against the next three blows which slammed into her within a quick succession of the first. A darkness began descending over the girl’s eyes, enveloping her consciousness and awareness. The only thing that kept her from passing out completely was the fear which gripped her very soul. It was bone-chilling, something she had not felt since she was a child in Ecclavaria, this was a feeling the Nightmarian was very familiar with, and somehow she knew what was happening.

Hive…Mother? As the thought crossed her mind another blow cracked her skull yet again, forcing her to lose whatever ideas began connecting and the little grip she had left on staying awake. Even the fear could not keep her aware now as darkness enveloped her. The next four blows across her stomach and thighs barely even registered with her psyche, they seemed like illusions sent from some horrid nightmare would from long ago. This would soon change though. A blinding pain like none other seared through the Nightmarian, starting from her left antenna and coursing through her entire body like waves of fire. This brought her back to a semi-conscious state of being.

It seemed like an eternity passed before anyone else came. She could not keep track of the time from when the assailant left and whoever it was who found them started screaming. Who was that man? No, he cannot be a man….Hive Mother? How….why? It would take time before the woman could connect all the dots, right now all she could understand the pain, washing over her in waves of agony. Was it days before the others came? No, it could not have possibly been that long. Hours then? That still seems too unlikely. How could such a small span of time seem like an unending cycle? She lost count of the number of times her body throbbed with agony or shivered with an uncontrollable fear.

When it did start to dissipate though the moth could feel a warm presence near her, and whoever it could be was a kind and generous soul, but she could feel how tired they were. Pylarea did not know if she could maintain to same level of strength this person…no this woman was managing. It must be… It had to be the cleric Carmen. The presence seemed too familiar, caring, and exhausted to be anyone but Carmen. The Nightmarian finally regained some level of awareness of the situation around her, the screaming one form earlier must have been Jivven, and it was so strange to think of him doing something like that. Safir seemed to be alive at least, which was a miracle in and of itself, but Carmen was huddled up and sleeping on the floor like a newborn would.

The wounded moth crawled over slowly and lay next to the sleeping cleric, thankful that there were still kind people left in the world. It was always and miracle to find someone so kind in this time of hatred and evil. What could a weakling like herself do at a time like this? Things were no different than when she lived in Ecclavaria, a prisoner to her own brood. Tears began flowing as a powerfully as a river swollen with flood waters, but she refused to make a sound. Something had to change. She refused to be helpless anymore.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr
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#, as written by Arke
Kisikoni Ayalen
The Paragon


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Mercy Yan'vega
The Paragon


Image "Nonsense, Nonsense!" Mercy bubbled, lightly punching the conservative dragonfly. "Call me up on that favor any time!" She shared the pleasure of the Vintage with Neira silently afterward. The stuff was far more potent than she recalled, but her extremely high tolerance to alcohol she built up over the years allowed her to down three-quarters of the bottle before the buzz started to set in. Once it did, it didn't take long for her to reach the boiling point. The rigid pace she set for herself never faltered, Mercy was quite used to drinking herself into a stupor while on the move. The concentration it took, however, killed some of the pleasantness of the vintage. However, she wasn't too far gone to ignore the company Neira provided her. Though she remained quiet for most of the journey, it was by no means awkward as Mercy constantly supplied a stream of inane rambling.

When Neira finally interjected with a question, Mercy had opened her mouth to reply, but surprisingly, had no answer. Scratching her head lazily, Mercy's face tilted toward the sky as she pondered about how to answer. Humming in unfocused thought, she took a swig of the near-empty bottle. "I'd say I think about it, but I don't miss it." She began, "This life and my past life are separate." Blushing slightly at the coherent poetry, she continued. "All my friends back there are probably dead now; A century is far too long to be gone when you live in the moment." Sighing, she took another long draught of liquid. "Even under these circumstances, I'm quite sure I can never return anyways."

The sun had set once more, but vision still came poorly to the drunken Nightmarian. Her voluminous red eyes winked erratically, and she let out a loud exclamation of relief when they finally stopped for the night. With the empty bottle swinging haphazardly from her hands, she stumbled over to the crater where she slumped over the edge, looking down at Neira and Wrath. "Hmm. Hmm." She hummed contentedly, observing their exchange with more interest in Neira's attempt at small talk than anything else. She had no real plans to conceal herself, She was far too inebriated to even try to do so. Just as well, She was far too exhausted to bother moving toward her tent, which she had very clumsily set up. In the end, one of her men had to help her, and though he said it was no trouble, the Nightmarian thought she sensed an irritable air from him.




Safir Garethson
The Children of Fire
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Still reveling over the triumph earlier, He did not notice Pylarea come in. It was only when she offered to take the bed nearest that he raised his head, and gestured for her to do so. There was no need to be selfish, even such a small bed was enough for the big Knight. Setting down the food, he gestured for Pylarea to help herself while he quietly thought about what would happen next. However, Pylarea seemed a bit more talkactive than she was before all this. He wanted to answer, but her questions, unlike his own, were complex. The civil, as he knew it were not evil in the past. However, this begs the question "What truly is evil?" That was something Safir didn't know. Perhaps he spent too long formulating an answer, as Pylarea lost interest when Gatan entered. The human pugilist seemed like he wanted to crash or otherwise. However, before he could react, the man had gone for the food he had scrounged up.

Suddenly, a foreign impact sent Safir flying into the shelf nearest to him, and he was suddenly in a world of pain. The last thing he could hear before everything collapsed into a blur of pain and ragged breathing was Gatan. Did Pylarea do that? Why would she? Even as Safir's eyes squeezed shut and his face wrinkled to express his distress, he could not help but feel so betrayed. The rest of whatever happened next was lost to the Knight, as he struggled to merely continue breathing and trying not to die from suffocation.

As time passed, eventually he heard a voice break through the buzz of pain, an unfamiliar voice. Not too long afterward, he felt relief from an unknown comrade, and when he finally could breathe comfortably once more he opened his eyes. The dark elf, Jivven was present, as was Carmen. Massaging his throat, he felt that all was in order. As expected of the healer to perform her role so well. However, looking around he saw Pylarea. Before his rage could swell up, he noticed something off. She was on the ground, and one of her mandibles were missing. The way Carmen and Jivven fretted about her immediately stopped Safir from punching her in the face. He directed his ire toward Gatan instead, who had disappeared. He was about to say something about it, but his logical nature spoke to him. Why would Gatan attack so suddenly? It was more than likely he had created an alibi. He noted that Carmen had finished her duties, and decided to sleep in the corner.

"We all are equal, my ass." He grunted, picking her up and tossing her lightly onto the bed he claimed. Soon after he strode toward Jivven. "Thanks for calling for help." He said, raising his fist and lightly tapping him in the shoulder. As grateful as the Knight was, his visage was alive with anger and thoughts of revenge. However, going up to Gatan and slicing his head off would prove to be a bad idea. He would have to wait. His eyes finally turned toward the pitiful-looking Pylarea.

Safir could not possibly know what was going on in her head, but by the dead gods did she seem broken. He knelt down in front of her, trying to catch her gaze- but it proved to be an impossible venture. "It was my fault. I let my guard down around that bastard." He said after a minute. "Later, I request that you tell me what happened.. I could not see after the bout of telepathy. This won't happen again." He rose. Safir was far too angry and restless to sleep now. "I'm going out for a bit." A walk would do him better than lying awake and allowing his hateful thoughts to get the better of him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Safir Garethson
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#, as written by Ezarael
Pylarea & Gatan


Being an ant, an industrial Nightmarian, had its advantages. When you were programmed to think of nothing beyond the task at hand, anxiety rarely had a chance to set in. Gatan was more concerned with getting supplies for the march ahead rounded up than worrying if Pylarea or the human would nark on him. When his primitive mind did drift back to that possibility, Gatan scoffed. The moth was a weakling. Too used to taking commands and being domineered by those more powerful than she. The human male was another story. Gatan was unsure of how that one would proceed, but they had no proof Gatan had done anything wrong, so he was untroubled by this variable.
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Pylarea did not know if she was sleeping, harassed by nightmares of the past, or simply laying there awake trying to feign sleep, assailed by memories of long ago. Well, whatever the case be she knew that this could not continue on for much longer and after Carmen’s healing the dots began to connect to one another. I very well cannot be sleeping if I am able to think such as this. The moth brought herself to a semi-sitting position, leaning the weight of her body on her hands but keeping her waist and legs on the ground. The cleric was still sleeping peacefully, exhausted from the exertions of her tumultuous day.

It seemed everyone was enjoying the peaceful embrace of slumber except the Nightmarian and Safir, the human had come to her earlier and attempted to make some conversation, but she was in no way to open up at the moment. She was too preoccupied to even consider letting her guard down for even the briefest amount of time. He blamed himself for this attack, but how could he have known what was to happen? Safir soon stormed off in to the night’s dark embrace for some reason. Hopefully he did not try anything brash.

The assailant was merely biding his time when he could devour her without having to worry about anyone’s knowing, and she could feel his presence flittering about through their camp. He had to be some form of Nightmarian, there just was no doubt to that fact, and from his dietary preferences he came from The Wild. Their kind had been practicing cannibalism for far too long, and now it was practically a necessity.

The harsh realities of The Wild rarely pervaded into the commons of Ecclavaria, but the higher-castes were made aware of this fact in case they ever needed to travel outside of the Hive City’s safety. She had never witnessed any of these atrocities until fleeing the city for the Children none too long ago when the group she had been travelling with was attacked by foul creatures similar to the one earlier. Had it not been for the brave Mantis and Scorpion in their party they would have been overcome by the attackers, but still, all their power could not prevent their death.

I cannot sit idly by and wait. There must be something I can do, but what would that be? I am just a weakling moth….
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Gatan forced himself to shed his instinctual tendency to collect and organize in order to take stock of what all he'd managed to accrue. As an ant-type, he rarely slept more than two to four hours at a time, leaving a great deal of time to be devoted to productive things. In the time that the other Children began bedding down, Gatan had gathered several crates of dried meats, salt, a bit of sugar, some syrups, oil, and a miscellany of other foodstuffs. It dimly occurred to the Nightmarian in disguise that getting together items like tinder and tools might prove useful, but he did not particularly care for fleshling-made crafts.

With his own antennae long amputated, Gatan's extrasensory was dull at best. His sense of smell was greatly diminished as a result, and any sense besides sight required near point-blank proximity to be effective. His ears were little more than vestigial nubs, the Nightmarian relying almost solely on his tremor-sense to gather information on the world around him. It'd been a few hours since the meal he'd made of Pylarea, but judging by her footfalls, Gatan assumed she was feeling better. Slowly, the ant turned away from his stockpile to look at the approaching moth. His face slowly spread in a demure smile.
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It had not been very difficult to discover the creature’s location. Even though she was missing most of her left antenna her telepathic skill were far from crippled, and judging by the being’s lack of his own antenna he was using only his tremor-sense to detect her. She approached him cautiously, conveying a sense of both uncertainty and trepidation, there was no lying in her steps either, the moth was terrified and unsure of how this would play out. One wrong misstep and she would be devoured alive.

Gatan looked at Pylarea voraciously, the gleam in his eyes similar to a predator surveying its prey. His gaze forced the moth to reach up and grasp at her chest and clench the fabric of her tunic with an iron-grip. The ant started to wake towards her hungrily, but before he could make two paces the woman shuffled back quickly. “Please, I don’t want to die. I will do anything you want, just...please let me live.” His hearing may not have been the best, but he could hear well enough to distinguish the sincerity in Pylarea’s voice.

This wasn’t exactly how he wanted everything to play out, and by no means did he care one bit about leaving her in one piece, it had been so long since he had feasted on a fellow Nightmarian’s flesh and even then he had never tasted anything so succulent as the moth’s, but he was no fool either. The girl was a fine slab of meat, and there was no use wasting a good play thing before he had all the fun he could want out of it. Fine then, if she thinks it’ll save her skin, I’ll just have to taste that flesh after I’ve had my fill.

“Oh really, d’ you think you got somethin’ I want? I have a ravenous appetite, and you might not be willing or capable enough to give me my fill.”

“No, I will, believe me I will!” She sounded eager and hopeful, like a rabbit who thought the only hole left open was its salvation. Creatures could be so foolish when they thought there was hope.

“Well fine then. Let’s see how you do then. Come here.” Gatan was not one to mince his words or waste any time. Instead of listening to his commands the girl actually began backing up even more. She was right next to the tree line, outside of the camp’s fires’ reach. “What’re you doing? I said come here!” This was making Gatan most unpleased. Maybe he should just take a bit while taking advantage or her body.

Pylarea would not stop until completely outside of the light of the campfires, this meant Gatan could no longer see her, but he could tell where she was using is tremor sense. She did not walk but maybe five feet into the forest itself. “You should come out here away from the spying eyes of the camp. Please, I will make it worth your while.”

The ant was thoroughly enraged that he would have to go through such hardships just to sate a hunger or two with the girl. What does he care what any of the others see or think about him? Bah, what the hell. I might as well play along with her little games. Gatan began to walk towards his newfound plaything, hiding in the dark like a shy little maid. Honestly, women could be so self-conscious and fretted about the most trifling of matters. Who cared if they copulated in the middle of his stockpile? He would take her in front of the dragon’s tent if the beast didn’t care!

Something strange began happening as he stepped into the darkness of the woods though. It was as if a vice had clamped down onto, but very slowly, he didn’t notice it at first, no his movements just started slowing down minutely, yet it wasn’t long before it felt like a swamp was engulfing his body. What’s happening? The blood should make me stronger than this! Soon enough it was taking the pugilist all of his might just to shake his appendages, but no matter how hard he tried his mouth would not move nor the muscles in his throat allow for any sound to escape.

“Did you like seeing me in pain earlier?” His arms began to extend slowly, not from any lack of ability on Pylarea’s part, but because the beast in front of her was very powerful, indeed she would never be able to compete with him if he was to have understood the true danger she posed. It took nearly all of her might to bend the outstretched arms backwards at the elbows; she could hear every fiber of his body rip and tear slowly as he fought with every ounce of his being.

“Was I delicious? Tasty enough for seconds or even a four-course meal?” While she was stating these hypothetical questions Pylarea focused her attention upon his hidden secundi, they were easier to bend backwards now that she need not worry about his arms, but the process was still slow going as he was able to focus more attention on them as well. It was futile though. He may be powerful, but he was unprepared for this assault.

“Was it as fun for you as it is for me?” Venom dripped from the moth’s words as she locked in on the creature’s legs. Maybe she should not leave him in too bad of a spot so that Carmen’s job would not be too difficult in the morning. The poor girl was tired enough as is without her adding on the workload. Instead of forcing his knees back as the rest of his limbs she was content with merely snapping his ankles. Actually, she was unsure as to if she even could have broken the creature’s knees, it had taken nearly all of her current effort just to do the same to his arms, and his legs would obviously prove much stronger than they were.

“If you ever attack me again, or anyone of the fellow Children, I will crush you.” There was nothing but sincerity in the Nightmarian’s voice. She would not budge on this demand, and if need be she might have to risk her life by killing him. That would be a most undesired outcome from Aesr’s point-of-view. Whatever the case, all Pylarea wanted to do now was sleep in peace. She continued back into the light of the camp grounds and went back to the little two-story house where she found Carmen sleeping peacefully. The moth lay down next to her in the bed Safir had placed her and drifted off easily into the realm of slumber.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Liliana Bloodleaf Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr
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Jivven Noda'Razzr


"Well, I couldn't quite let you choke to death, now could I? What if I need a meat shield later on down the line?" Jivven asked Safir in jest. A bit too late as then he realized the livid stare the knight held. Jivven hoped Safir wouldn't take offense and pop his head like a bloody bubble. Truth be told, after the joining under Nihalistrix and becoming one of many of her Children, Jivven found himself rather attached to the members of Aesr's squad. What with them fighting and surviving their first battle against the Civil undead and seemed to further that bond. Of course, he'd rather die than let them know that explicitly and he didn't feel quite like dying anytime soon.

Then the knight spoke to the moth Pylarea and stated he was going for a walk. In a low voice, Jivven warned, "Don't do anything reckless." True Jivven had no idea what had transpired nor how the pair ended up in such a condition. It did serve as a reminder though, to never let his guard down, even near friends. Though he felt a connection with the unit, it didn't mean he had to trust them fully. "Anyway, if you're going out, I suppose I'll stay in here and keep an eye on our Cleric and Moth," he said as if he was doing Safir a favor. As Safir stormed out of the house Jivven strode to the darkest corner of the house and sat, shedding his white robes for the black cloak underneath. He was almost invisible in the low light if not for his white hair screaming, 'here I am'.

Before long, the Moth left the house as well. Jivven opted to not say anything to her, as she had the look of a woman on a mission. Besides, he wasn't her babysitter, she could do whatever she wanted. He just wacthed as she strode out of the house, and like that it, it was quite once more except for the rhythmic breathing of Carmen. So peaceful, so serene, so... Pure. It was almost precious. Still, it was at this point Jivven began to slip into sleep himself. Later, Jivven's light slumber was broken by a sound of an approaching entity. His hand tightened around a throwing knife as his assassin conditioning dictated, but was proved unnecessary. It was only the returning Pylarea. That was good, she seemed to not gotten herself killed. Jivven couldn't help but grin when Pylarae chose to sleep in the bed with Carmen. Feeling a tad bit awkward, he grabbed his white robes and walked over to the window.

"Sweet dreams," he muttered as he took a step out of the window and grabbed onto the lip of the roof- easily pulling himself up to the roof. He made his way to the middle of the roof and sat crossed-legged, watching over the interior of the camp from his perch. His natural balance and control ensured he wouldn't fall off anytime soon. So he closed his eyes and listened to the inner workings of the camp until he drifted off to sleep himself.




Liliana Bloodleaf

"I believe in the compelling power of love. I do not understand it. I believe it to be the most fragrant blossom of all this thorny existence."
~Theodore Dreiser

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr
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#, as written by Arke
Kisikoni Ayalen
The Paragon


Image Kisikoni wasn't too sure when he became aware of it, but when he did, he was aware of a very heavy cloud in his head. It numbed all coherent thoughts, and deadened his limbs. The fogginess persisted, attempting to relax him back to nothingness, but Kisikoni had the desire to know where he was. Incidentally, he finally found out how to open his eyes with that thought. Lifting his heavy eyelids slowly, his sight slowly adjusted to the new environment. He lethargically became aware of the fact that he was in the medical tent. After some extremely sluggish deductive reasoning, he came to the conclusion that he was drugged. He must have been in a lot of pain. Nobody was around, he was secluded. Confused as why he would wake up in the middle of a drug session, he was even more perplexed at why he felt like he couldn't fall asleep again. With half-lidded eyes, he let his head lie back after having it move around to ascertain his location. Perhaps this was a good time to reflect.

It felt like an eternity since he became a part of the ostracized legion and cooperated with the Reds. It felt like multiple eternities since his quiet life in the tunnels. The darkness, the dampness, and the lack of space seemed almost hostile to him now, after spending so much time above ground. If Kisikoni had figured out how to work the muscles in his jaw, he would have sighed. His thoughts eventually drifted to more mundane things, such as life, death, friends, and foes. He had almost forgotten the snide voice in his head, but eventually it wormed it's way through the fog in his mind. It began talking in a mocking tone, but in his half-conscious state, he couldn't comprehend anything it was saying. Instead, he began chuckling foolishly at the buzzing in his ear, and the voice fell silent. The laughing continued well after the voice stopped talking to him, but eventually his thoughts allowed him to focus on his situation, and what he actually was. At the moment, he was half-inclined not to care. There was so much death and sadness that he almost wanted it to overtake him, and leave him completely and blissfully ignorant to everything. On the other hand, he met so many unforgettable characters. It was a mental back-and-forth that happened almost every time Kisikoni was alone now, and what tipped the balance in the favor of staying in control was one thing. His one anchor.

His expressionless gaze sparked slightly, but he continued to lie in his bed, unable to move.




Mercy Yan'vega
The Paragon


Image Before long, Mercy was utterly bored of the exchange. She was quite amused when she saw Wrath readily accept the liquor, seemingly for the first time, but when Neira started rattling off about things she already knew, Mercy realized that nothing that would keep her interest would come up. The rock that both Wrath and Neira were examining was interesting, to be honest, but in what way would a simple meteorite help or hurt them? It was a bloody clump of minerals. She was, to some degree, aware of another presence. One that wasn't of the drunken three hanging out in a bloody crater. She turned and took note of a robed person, who almost immediately thereafter wiped himself from view.

"That doesn't work on me, hon." She sang in soft tone, turning her gaze back toward Wrath. Struggling to focus in her drunken stupor, she could have sworn she saw Wrath's pocket shift slightly and a soft glow emanating from the pocket suddenly vanish. Blinking erratically, she decided to question the General later, if she could even remember. Either way, it was very surprising that whoever-it-was hadn't noticed her rather promiscuous form. Maybe it was her ark shell. She always did take care to dull the pieces so it blended perfectly with the darkness.

There wasn't much to do here anymore, so she decided to turn her voluminous red eyes away and stumble back toward camp. Passing along the rows of mostly dark canvases, she heard some rather revealing noises every now and then. Mercy allowed herself a silly grin, regretting the fact that she had no clue which tent was which and therefore could not tease them later on. Staggering along, she finally reached what was believed to be her tent. Peeping inside, she saw her pack of belongings, and sighed in relief. Settling herself right down, she tried to drink from her bottle before she realized it was empty. Pouting, she chose to go to sleep instead.




Safir Garethson
The Children of Fire
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The night air was refreshing as Safir stomped his way around the outskirts of the camp, taking unconscious care not to disturb anybody in their sleep. To be honest, the thought of revenge at this stage wasn't considered in total seriousness. His sword, unbuckled and prepped to be maintained was left back on his bed, and the straps on his armor were loosened to allow some comfort and easier breathing. He was fuming quite badly over the events despite the cool air and calming atmosphere, so much so that he wondered if he could beat the Nightmarian in a fistfight now and teach him a lesson. However, in a straight beat-down, Gatan surely had the advantage.

After making a lap around the city, an impressive feat with an entire suit of armor and a fatigued body, he made back for the building. If he wasn't so tired, he would have noticed Jivven, dozing lightly on the roof of the building. An amusing sight indeed, though unnoticed by everyone nearest to him. Entering the building, he noted the irregularly large form on his bed. Carmen wasn't that fat. Apparently, Pylarea had decided to snuggle up with the healer, and now retrieving his sword was just that much harded. Slipping it carefully out from under Pylarea and Carmen, he unsheathed it and inspected it. Safir took the sword and exited the building once more, where he re-sharpened the blade with deft strokes of the grindstone he carried around. While he did have his blade enchanted, slashing dragon bones was still a pretty dumb idea. When he was finally satisfied, he sheathed the blade and walked into the room. He undid most of his armor, and placed it on another bed. How funny it would have been if he decided to flop down with Carmen and Pylarea. How short his lifespan would be when they woke up and saw him like that.

Throwing himself there on the unoccupied bed, he drifted off into an uneasy slumber.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Zulii Ma'kaurubaen Sleekfeathers Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Feng Tao Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr
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The Paragon
A Holding Cell

Bound and gagged though she was, Neira was imprisoned voluntarily, and bore it with all the dignity of a queen, albeit a particularly angry one. Currently, she stood unmoving in the middle of her cell, posture more flawless than it ever was on an ordinary day, and the look conveyed through her narrowed eyes was nothing short of perfect disdain. It was making her cell guards incredibly uncomfortable, but she did not care. Did they not understand that her greatest weapon was still available to her? That if she wished, she could be free of these chains, free of all of them, with a mere thought?

As it was, she had closed off her mind, too, sealed it tightly against the intervention of anyone. Xeron could try all he wanted, but she wasn’t stupid. You didn’t work for so long beside such a powerful psion without accounting for the possibility that you might one day be on a different side from him again.

When Wrath had collapsed, she had known it wasn’t the alcohol. Despite her jabs to the contrary, there simply wasn’t enough there to kill anyone, much less someone with a half-dose of Nightmarian blood. Hell, she could have given the stuff to Sid and the worst that would have happened was a vomiting captain who then passed out for a few hours and woke up with the mother of all hangovers. No, something else was going on here.

Of course, she hadn’t helped her case when the dragons had landed. True to form, instead of trying to explain the circumstances, she’d drawn herself up to her full height and stared Iridinias down. “What, afraid your most important little pawn won’t be so useful to you anymore?” Come on, you scaly bitch, I dare you. Just try something. The thought had not been projected, though she had been sorely tempted. She did not take kindly to being treated like some yellow-blooded coward, the kind who would use poison and insidious treachery to take down an opponent. Her pride was far too great for that. Even when she herself had played the Game, her methods had always been direct, her intentions known. It was perhaps a miracle that she had survived where her opponents had not.

They had been much rougher than necessary when chaining her, but she had let them without dignifying the measure with a fight. It was a token restraint upon a creature who could teleport, anyway. Now, the bindings pulled uncomfortably at her limbs, and she was bleeding in a few places, but if there was one thing she understood, it was how to put mind over matter, and right now, the only things she felt were the indignant rage slithering over her skin- burning cold, not heated like her usual demeanor would have suggested- and the calmer, frostier-still knowledge that she would endure whatever farcical trial they put her through, because she had too much pride to run away anymore. She had run from Ecclavaria, she would not run from this. The blood, then, could seep ichor-blue from her wounds and pool at her feet on the floor with the eerie sound of regular drips, her muscles could protest her rigid vigil, but she would not stoop to acknowledge these things. She had endured much worse.

She was also quite certain that one day, she was going to kill that scarlet-scaled bitch. A contemplation over the methods for this was her meditative mantra, and the unholy fever-light it brought to her otherwise icy external demeanor was causing anyone who looked at her quite the measure of discomfort. She was using it to push back her actual concern over what had happened to the general and who had engineered it, because there was nothing she could do about that right now.

So for once, Neira would call upon the person she used to be, the dignified, regal Queenspawn buried under years of hatred and crass affectation and mercenary work, and though she wouldn’t like it, they would enjoy it much, much less.

The only murderer in the history of Ecclevaria would watch, and wait.



With Talae still away on a mission, Lieutenant Fak’ir Kethyrian was left in charge of the special operations unit of the Paragon. They’d been ordered to muster up and face battle with the rest this time, but he wasn’t about to have them form up in ordinary ranks. Their strength would be better spent doing what they always did, just in a different setting. Besides, just because the captain had trained herself to be versatile enough to fight with the heavy units if need-be didn’t mean they all had. Fak’ir’s command of shadow and illusion magics made it possible for him, but most of the rest of them were trained for sabotage and assassination only, and that was what he fully intended on having them do.

Upon seeking out his captain’s tent to take it down for the march, he’d discovered an impressive cache of resources, most of which had been labeled for squad use. He wasn’t sure when Talae had found the time to brew all of these, as several took weeks to mature properly, but the discovery gave his squad a real chance to make a serious difference in this battle. Along with vial after vial of corrosive acid, designed to melt the heads off the undead, there were various muscle-degenerative poisons and stealth and diversion devices. It seemed she planned on the possibility of an undead-heavy battle, though everything here would work on the living just as well.

There was a small bandoleer of other substances set aside from the rest, with a separate note attached.

Fak’ir-
Most of these are for the squad. Make sure everyone knows what’s what. Even an undead soldier can’t keep moving if his muscles lock up. Trust me, I’ve tested it. The rest are for Captain Ayalen. The blue substance is the same neurotoxin I gave the rest of you, enough for both knives, if he sees fit to use it. The red ones are basic restoratives, which should provide an energy boost. Tell him it might help deal with the issue he was telling me about, but only for a little while. Devil’s own luck to all of you.

-Talae


Fak’ir had no idea what issue that was, but apparently keeping Captain Ayalen from keeling over in exhaustion would help. Frankly, the halfling Lieutenant wasn’t sure what kind of fool worked himself to exhaustion often enough to have developed an “issue,” but he supposed it wasn’t any of his business. Shrugging, he tucked the note into the bandoleer and grabbed the rest of the supplies.

By the time he reached the med tent, Captain Sid was already up and about, along with Captain Beelzes. Like the good soldier he was, Fak’ir saluted the both before inquiring. “Pardon me, ma’am, but I’m also looking for Captain Ayalen. Special delivery, apparently.” He hefted the bandoleer and shrugged. As soon as he saw Kisikoni, he was passing this off with instructions to read the note, since he had his own squad to muster in the meantime.

The Children of Fire
The Imperian, On the March


The next morning saw all the Children roused at a relatively early hour, though it seemed that someone had taken enough mercy on them that at least the sun was already out before they were wakened.

Carmen, having slept heavily since the previous evening, was awake long before that, pleasantly surprised to discover that Pylarea, Safir, and Jivven were all in her immediate proximity, though she might not have known about the last if she hadn’t decided to throw open the window for some fresh air. Shasarra had roosted a rooftop over, and Carmen waved to the harpy, who returned the gesture with the languidness of half-sleep. Smiling to herself, and more than a little cheered that she seemed to have found herself some friends, she checked each for persistent injuries using magic alone. Finding none, she nodded to herself. That was good; she had worried she might have passed out before everyone was taken care of.

How she’d wound up on the bed was something of a mystery, but not a very large one. She was touched that they’d care so much, and watching the sleeping forms for a moment, she swore to herself that she’d do everything she could to ensure they survived this. They and the Captain were the only friends she had now, and she wasn’t much worried about Tao. That man had an uncanny ability to take care of himself.

Turning, she exited the house they were in, walking to the well to see if there might be any water to draw. Pleasantly surprised to find that there was, she hummed in the back of her throat and carried a basin of it back to the house, which was quite the labor. Nevertheless, she was able to split it into several buckets and step into another room to use one to clean the worst of yesterday’s grime off herself and wash her hair, which was a luxury they would not have often in the days to come. When that was done, she emptied her bucket into the garden outside and headed to the mess tent to gather everyone supplies for breakfast.

They were awakened with only time to dress and eat, but by bringing food to them, she hoped to give them the luxury of a bit of time. Indeed, by the time each was officially wakened, Carmen was gone, but extra food was beside the supplies they’d found in the house yesterday, and the fresh water was still there, for whatever purpose they deemed it best.


No more and no less than an hour after wake-up call, the Children of Fire were on the march once again, following direction from Aesr, though from whence the dragon herself pulled it, none but she could say. Well, Tao had a feeling he knew, but it was more like an itch somewhere in the back of his consciousness, and frankly he was too bored with it already to puzzle through the implications. In his experience, what dragons did was usually based on the opinion that they knew better than anyone else, and truthfully, he could say the same for any military leader.

When the smoke of cooking fires became visible on the horizon three days later, Aesr signaled for a stop, and turned with a flourish to address the troops. “Over that hill lies an encampment of Civil soldiers. The advantage of surprise is ours, and we’re going to take it. The captain will split you into two teams. One will lead the charge and attack from the west side.” That way, the dying sun would be on their side and interfere with the enemy’s visibility. “The other will wait until all the forces have been turned to engage with the main force, then use the crest of the hill for a height advantage and initiate a flanking maneuver.”

With that she fell silent, leaving the mundane details to Tao, who suppressed the urge to drag a hand down his face. He understood that Aesr, more than others of her kind, believed herself invincible, but this was reckless. Granted, the strategy was sound enough, but the Children of Fire had been marching for most of the day, and she hadn’t sent ahead any reconnaissance units to see just what they were dealing with. She seemed unbothered by the fact that they were fighting blind, though, which only served to further perturb the Captain. Unlike some, he did not have absolute faith in those he worked for, but that didn’t mean he was going to defy his orders… often.

He split the group, putting most of the heavy hitters in the first group to soak up the initial damage. Here went Safir, Oraun, Vortigern, Shasarra, himself, and anyone else with more in the way of armor and close-range weapons than their lighter counterparts. In the flanking squad, he put Carmen in charge, followed by Jivven, Pylarea, Zulii, and anyone who made primary use of a ranged weapon.

As quietly as they were able, the flanking squad took position, and he led the assault squad in a much less stealthy formation, though one rapid enough that being spotted wouldn’t matter. Raising one hand into the air, he dropped it with finality, signaling the charge.

The first wave of the assault squad hit the outer ring of tents with thundering force, and dozens were dead before the Civil had time to react. They recovered with admirable swiftness, however, and it was not more than a few minutes before alarms were sounding all over camp, forcing the soldiers from their tents and the mess hall and back into battle, some without time to replace armor, and some only able to grab the weapon or object nearest-to-hand. The Children needed to press their advantage as much as possible, though, for as Tao had feared, they were outnumbered nearly two-to-one.

He’d do whatever he could to get them through this, but that didn’t mean he was happy about it.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr
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#, as written by Arke
Kisikoni Ayalen
The Paragon


Image A day ago, the order was issued that the army would be mobilizing, and healers were distributed to accelerate the healing of the wounded. A day ago, a healer watched in horror as her healing magic seemed to cause her patient, Kisikoni Ayalen, much pain and distress. When that healer left for some assistance that day, she came back to a perfectly healthy deep human, who dismissed her "ridiculous" assumptions that she wronged him in some way. How she handled the situation was known only to herself, as that day for Kisikoni was spent in rehabilitation. And perhaps, some more bedtime in that tent. Since he had been wounded and unconscious, nobody felt the need to erect a personal tent for the deep human, as the medical tent has become his own. This is the most likely reason why his was one of the last to be taken down a day later.

Walking back toward that medical tent was not at all easy, as it stood ominously with the scents of sterility about it. It gave him the worst thoughts, and the time to mull them over. As he approached the entrance, he took note of a few people around it. His eyes squinted slightly, but all the same entered right after them. "I'm right here, Captain." He said, catching her words directed at the nurse. A dark elf appeared, handing him a set of vials and a note. Before Kisikoni could ask for the specifics, he disappeared. Before Grimsmirk could respond to his arrival, he popped open the note and gave it a scan. So the man's name was Fak'ir. He smiled slightly at Talae's gift, wondering if they would have any effect on him at all, despite her effort. He redirected his attention at the halfling. "What is it do you want?" He asked, moving past her to gather his belongings.




Mercy Yan'vega
The Paragon


Image There wasn't much to say about how Mercy spent her two days. She woke up with a bad hangover, washed it down with lots of hot tea and water, and proceeded to look for Neira. When this endeavor was unsuccessful, she was thoroughly suspicious. Not a single soul knew where she was, and unlike most characters, she wasn't very secretive. In a rare, sober state, she did try to recall memories of the night before. She remembered drinking, watching, and noticing something very strange. She slapped the bottom of her left fist into her right hand when she remembered, humming contentedly at her impeccable memory, even when blindingly drunk. She wasn't senile yet, at the very least.

There was some mentions of a confrontation last night, but they were mostly rumors, visions of drunkards like herself that had spent the night partying away with their comrades. Unfounded, and with no real reason to believe them. That is, of course, if there were other sources to consult. While Mercy was nothing if not lewd, cunning did play a factor into the spider's tricky way of manipulating others with her personality. She didn't even have to act to get the gears grinding for many to recall the events of the night before. As it turned out, nothing useful could be gleaned, and the day before the day of mobilization passed without much event.

She had already packed her things, and with much difficulty, figured out how to tear down her tent without breaking important structural pieces along the way. She still hadn't heard a thing from Neira, which was odd considering how they were supposed to be drinking buddies. Mercy had secretly been hoping she would bring more of that Ecclavarian vintage. Good stuff, that was. Asking around once more, she got the same response. Deciding she had nothing better to do, she decided to ask Redscales about it. She soon found out that the lusty draconian maiden was out preparing for battle.

"Drat. Out of options." She muttered, blowing a loose lock of hair out of her face.




Safir Garethson
The Children of Fire
Image


The rousing wake-up call brought Safir up from his uneasy rest. Bolting awake, he made sure he was still in one piece before allowing exhaustion to overwhelm his senses. Perhaps staying up to sharpen his sword wasn't the greatest idea, but when he found out they were moving out right after, he debated about becoming a psychic afterward. He quickly changed , wolfed down some of the food, and geared up. Carmen had gone, but apparently he was one of the first to be awake. He had no idea if Jivven, who had rested outside (the fool), was up and about yet. Looking outside quickly, he assumed he already was. That man did have a tendency to be on top of things.

He paid no mind to Pylarea while he was preparing, mostly because of the time crunch. If she was still sleeping by the time half of the hour had passed, he would have given her a sharp slap on the shoulder. Whether it was necessary or not, he had finished on time and was just strolling out the door when the army had begun forming up to begin it's march.

Safir was quickly reminded on why he hated marching. The mindless jarring as his feet moved in tune with the man in front and away from the man behind got on his nerves. What was worse, was when they showed no hesitation at the smoke that billowed out in the distance. When he realized the commander intended to attack when she voiced that opinion, it was all he could do to hold back a sigh. While he wasn't exhausted, the march had left him winded. And he was put on the front lines. Well, at least he had his sword, sharpened fresh last night. Donning his helmet, he flexed and stretched slightly as he got into position.

And then, as one would say, they were off. Safir was still amazed at the speed the dragon's blessed him with, flying up toward the Civil encampment with a speed many sprinters could only dream of. And he was by no means a sprinter himself. He hadn't been able to see Dresinil in a while, and when he saw him running a little bit away, it heartened Safir far more than words could have. Smashing into a guard with his shield, he felt very little resistance as the man dropped aside like a ragdoll and was trampled by the initial assault. A poor way to die. His blade sang as it cut through the unprepared Civil, who reacted faster than the strike of a whip. It was quite impressive, and judging by their numbers, very bad news for them. Letting loose his own war cry to combat the Civil, he knew that with his augmentations, his comrades, and his armor, these ants stood no chance. Somewhere back in his mind, Safir wished he had the ability to shoot fire- it would have made his life far easier.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zulii Ma'kaurubaen Sleekfeathers Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr
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#, as written by Ezarael
Pylarea


For the first few hours of the night sleep had come relatively easy to the Pylarea, but that was probably only due to her complete and utter exhaustion from the battle, attack, and retaliation of the day before. She soon found herself unable to rest peacefully, despite the quiet, cool night air embracing her body, keeping her cool even with the body of Carmen adding its own heat to hers. How could she have done what she did the night before? It was…vicious and cruel of her to do such a thing. You could almost say another person had taken over her mind and body, someone hidden deep inside the recesses of her mind. Whoever that person was, the Nightmarian was uncertain, but she was terrified of them.

All she could do was lie still with her eyes opening and closing every now and again, but she dare not wake anyone else to bother them with her troubles. She was too unfamiliar with Jivven and she had noticed the way Safir had looked at her the day before, with a look in his eyes that said he might just blame her for what had happened. There was always Carmen, the sweet girl seemed so nice and caring amidst this posse of thugs and ruffians, but the poor girl was so exhausted and needed her sleep. Several hours later she felt a pair of hands reach out and grasp her right arm, like the girl was desperately trying to stay rooted in this world. If only she could do something to ease her troubles, but interfering with dreams was a dangerous business, they were best left to their own devices.

It was strange how time passed at night when you had naught to do but think and ponder. Minutes seemed to drag by hours and vice versa, time did not flow as a liquid in steady streams, but more like the wind in bursts and calms. One cannot truly tell if they have slept or not during these periods, all they can do is hope that they closed their eyes long enough to steal a dreamless sleep. Before much longer, or it could have been the majority of the night for all she knew without the moon to serve as a teller of time, the healer awoke and began to stir. It was then that Pylarea decided it best to keep her eyes closed for some time, hoping the girl would take no heed of her fake slumber and busy herself with her own devices.

The cleric had proven to be a very busy bee in the early hours before the rest of the beast that was their camp stirred itself. She flitted about bringing both fresh water and food before anyone else had even twitched a muscle. Everyone except Pylarea that is, she had dared to flicker and eyelid open every now and again to steal a glimpse of the cleric and she dashed to and fro, spending some time washing the dirt and grime from her body. That would be a more than welcome comfort after what had happened. One might wonder why she did not rouse herself to begin the morning rituals of awakening with the sweet girl, but she could not bring herself to look her in the eyes, not after what she…no what the other one had done last night. She felt soiled, like a stain had settled upon her soul, and no amount of water would be able to wash away this feeling.

The time for refreshment and preparation had come and pass with little of import. No words were whispered nor considered between the human, elf, or Nightmarian. They merely went about doing what needed to be done for the day’s journey. It was time to march again, and that could only mean there would be battle. She could sense the exhaustion permeating through the anxiety and excitement, but nothing too serious to worry about. No one was nearly as one edge as they had been the day before with their first battle with the Civil. Confidence could be felt in the group, but maybe it was too much confidence, hubris always reared its ugly head before the fall.

Things were to progress differently this day though, for there was some strategy to be had in this attack. Admittedly it did not seem like the wisest of strategies, seeing as they were to attack a group of unknown size and makeup, but then again she was merely a servant of the Dragons, a Child of Fire. Who was she to question the judgment of her masters who had more experience than she at such matters? In the end her qualms matter naught. She was sent with the cleric, the elf Jivven, and the strange harpy Zulii, and others who did not specialize in close combat. They crept quietly into position and waited for the most opportune moment to attack.

Clouds of smoke billowed up and tents collapsed into themselves as the Children began their attack. Things seemed to be going somewhat smoothly, but for a surprise attack the enemy displayed an amazing level of calm and assurance. What was worse was that they began to form a counter defense with a rapidity she could only admire. Very good energy could be felt coming from the enemy camp, and that was always bad news for a smaller force such as theirs. Tensions began to mount as they waited for their moment. It was Carmen’s call for when they were to attack.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Feng Tao Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr
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The Paragon
A Cave with a Clutch


Talae moved completely soundlessly, firmly at home in the darkness that was her element as surely as it was Fak’ir’s, never mind that the swarthy halfling could actually magick it. She knew that, somewhere, he and Kisikoni and the General were waging a large-scale battle with the Civil, and though part of her worried over the outcome, she knew better than most that she was making a greater difference here than she would be elsewhere.

It had been a while since she’d had wetwork to do by herself, but then leading a squad of like-skilled killers had only made her better at it, not worse, and she laced the area with poison, moving with efficiency and a worthy absence of noise. Several dragon corpses lay between now and her initial joining of the Blackguard, and she’d made a careful study of their anatomy in that interim: treating battles like experiments, testing acids and toxins on flesh samples and merely observing her scalier allies. All of this had been honed for such uses as to which she now put it, such as killing dragons before they hatched.

She had discovered last time she tried this that the effects would not even be immediately visible; useful, when the mouth of this cave was periodically flown over, and the inside inspected. The dragons dared not risk keeping all of their eggs in one place, not even one so well-guarded as a keep, and she wagered that Astara thought herself cunning for minimizing the guard. For surely, who would think to look where so little attention was paid?

Perhaps it would have worked, if Talae’s mind did not move in similar patterns. The infinitesimal hiss of corrosive acid burning a hole of a centimeter’s diameter in an egg almost as tall as she was greeted her sensitive hearing, and Talae lowered a string into the new gap. From there, she extracted a vial of poison and a dropper from her bandoleer, letting the fluid run down the string and into the embryonic liquids drop by lingering drop. Luckily, it did not take many, even to kill a developing dragon, and the entire clutch of twenty was likewise poisoned in about half an hour.

Just in time for her to make it out before the next patrol flew by, then.

Straining her ears for any incoming wingbeats, Talae proceeded as quickly as stealth would allow to the mouth of the cave, flattening herself against a wall when the noise was suddenly apparent to her. The sound of flapping grew heavier, and it was with a dull twist to her stomach that she realized the dragon was going to land. Chewing her tongue, she made a quick decision, ascending the wall of the cave with the peculiar grip afforded to her kind and wedging herself in between a stalactite and the wall.

Her breath went still in her chest as an enormous draconian head pushed into the cave, followed by a serpentine neck covered in white scales so pale they were almost translucent. The dragon looked over everything carefully, then drew in a deep breath. The hitch at the end almost convinced her that she had been detected by scent, and she loosened the dagger at her thigh. It wouldn’t do much, but she couldn’t draw her bastardsword in this position.

She was surprised when the creature exhaled, bathing the eggs in flames from its gaping maw. The heat was uncomfortable, and she felt the very edges of her clothing beginning to singe. Her skin, she was sure, had taken on a pink tinge to the grey, equivalent perhaps to a nasty sunburn, perhaps even a blistering one. She wouldn’t know until she could look, though, for she could barely feel such trivialities anymore.

The revelation that she was losing all ability to know pain was not as comforting as it might have been. She had fought enemies like that before, and all of them had been undead. The thought that she would soon have something so uncannily in common with a walking corpse made her feel ill, but unfortunately that fact that she was not in agony right now was forcing her to think of it.

The flames abated and the head and neck disappeared, but she waited until all noise had once again ceased before she dropped to the ground. She had not known that dragons incubated their eggs in such a way; a touch was enough to tell her that they were slightly too warm for ordinary comfort. She had little time to study, though; with the Paragon’s recent luck, she might yet return to them to see a siege still raging.

Hopefully, those she cared for would still be alive when she got there. She was no fool, and knew quite well there was one whose health concerned her more than the rest, but… now was hardly the time.

So it was that Talae Shanir slipped into the forest beyond the cave, leaving twenty unborn dragons dead in her wake.


In Chains, Not Far From the Battle


There was little to do but wait, really, though what precisely Neira Valtegan waited for was anyone’s guess. It was not as though she could speak past her gag, and even though she could have perhaps thought things at people, she had thus far chosen not to.

Her vigil had not ceased, and even now she stood in the center of her makeshift prison, a closed-off cart. Unlike before, however, she did not glare at her guards but instead remained still with her eyes shut. For all the world, she could have been sleeping, but at present she was much more interested in keeping track of the goings-on not too distanced from her location.

There were many minds on the battlefield, but even more shells where minds had once been, now capable only of the barest thoughts. Undead, then, most of them the lower-class kind that served largely as padding, fodder for the blades, cannons, and sorcery of the Paragon. So much fodder, however, would take a while to chew through.

A few of the undead were higher-class, still retaining enough presence of mind for things like independent ideas and personality. When a nightmarian became such, they were universally referred to as mosquitos, regardless of what they had been before. The metaphor was perhaps appropriate, given their taste for blood. They moved though the field, stopping to engage only when absolutely necessary, and for this reason, they were obviously looking for something, or perhaps someone, specific.

As of yet, they had not found what they were seeking, but she decided to keep tabs, in case they did. Though for all she cared everyone in the army could believe otherwise, she was no traitor, and if she had to break her chains and defy her orders to prove that, then she would have absolutely no qualms about doing so. She had made no secret of the fact that she was nobody’s lapdog, and stupid orders weren’t worth following.


The Children of Fire
The Northern Front



For a while, Tao’s plan had succeeded admirably, and the flanking maneuver had been timed so well that almost the entire rear guard was destroyed under the onslaught of the Children of Fire. As he’d feared, of course, things were rarely what they seemed, and it looked as though they had indeed sprung the jaws of a mighty trap.

In a way, this was annoying to him, for he had known better. In another way, that strange way he had about him sometimes, he was inordinately pleased. Worthy challenges were rare things, and each new battle was an opportunity to find one.

So, when Aesr decided to finally start being a commander, he demurred and set about the tasks she put to them, organizing the troops with surprising effectiveness for one so seemingly daft. Nevertheless, it was hard to prepare oneself for what he knew to be coming, and he was only glad that Carmen had seen fit to enchant his own blade this time around. Of course, she knew without a word from him that Aesr’s handling of the command left Tao free to do what he was really suited for: priority assassination of particularly dangerous hostiles.

As the two squads formed back up into one army, he observed Carmen bestowing her odd sort of favor (in the magical sense, anyway, though he found that it usually correlated to the personal one as well) upon weapons belonging to Pylarea, Safir, Jivven, and the harpy Shasarra. Given that she could only do so many, he found the choices to be wise, both in variety and in the fact that each possessed a measure of skill beyond the common soldier, though he was not oblivious to the fact that some of them had yet to fully realize their potential.

At this point, Aesr mounted the battlements and bestowed upon them at last their fire. The resulting conflagration was impressive, if indeed a bit amateur in the way first efforts invariably were. Luckily, the mastery of the flame generally came a bit easier than the first struggles with enhanced bodies. They’d acquit themselves well, he thought idly, something approaching pride coloring the inward musing.

The battle proper was on shortly thereafter, and Tao first moved to the side of the battlements where Tellion was working, shoving his sword almost absently into the neck area of some undead thing trying to rise from the ground. “I wonder if they get bored…” he mused idly to himself. All of the rising from the ground and eating flesh wasn’t exactly a varied routine, after all.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson
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#, as written by Arke
Kisikoni Ayalen
The Paragon


Image Captain Grimsmirk's orders surprised the deep human, but it wasn't altogether unexpected that his disability would make it to the higher ups. However, Sid's words did not end there, as she revealed to Kisikoni her activities while she was also recovering from her wounds. The papers she scattered about the ground was like a blow to the chest for the Deep Human, instantly recognizing the handwriting. "You could have just said it." Kisikoni hissed bitterly. He shrank slightly as she berated him for transforming, though it was the very same thing that saved her life. So now he was her personal manservant. Fitting, for a monster such as himself. Now that people were catching on to his secret, it would not take long for the cat to finally get out of the bag. Already, his contact with most other Paragon members have been depressingly sparse, due to his special circumstances that seemed to occur every battle now.

With the presentation of the bolt, Sid left the tent. Kisikoni was left to his own devices, where he knelt town and carefully gathered the strewn papers and folded it up neatly. Sticking it into his rucksack, he turned slightly when somebody entered the tent. More visitors than he had any right to expect, but it wasn't Lily, Talae, or Sid so it must be a message. Taking a good look at the girl, he realized it was one of Lily's Sunwings. He was extended an offer for tea after the next conflict, which greatly surprised the Deep Human. Trying to relax, he smiled at the girl and accepted the offer, suggesting that he would bring the equipment necessary for the appointment. When she left, the acerb thoughts that plagued him became apparent once more. So Lily was fine on her own. She didn't need his help to get over the brief slump that she found herself in. In many ways, he felt nothing but relief for her mental recovery from that cold and cynical elf that fought alongside him for a time. In many other ways, he felt even worse that there was nothing he could do to help her doing that time.

"Damn it all." He said, brushing away the unpleasant thoughts that soured his mind. Kisikoni decided that he must be lying in a cot too long- dark ruminations had been running through his head quite frequently now.


While on the topic of dark things, Kisikoni stepped out into what seemed like a haze of black matter. It shrouded the sky in a restrictive fog, something even Kisikoni's sharp eyes could barely penetrate. Such an unnatural occurrence definitely means magic, and such an impairing power means danger. Immediately, his thoughts flashed to the safety of his squad, whom he had not seen in days while he was unconscious and restricted to bedrest. He rushed to find somebody, and ran into Rishaati, a female deep human who fought through many of the battles the Paragon faced. Since she too had the sights of a deep human, she had no trouble noticing and identifying Kisikoni. "What's going on, sir? I can't see anything!" She exclaimed, blinking rapidly as if to fan away the black mist.

"I'd think we're under attack." Kisikoni replied. "The bad news is that Grimsmirk made me her personal attack dog, so I can't command you this battle." He avoided saying that it might be permanent, as it would distract her and the rest of his squad. "I leave everyone in your hands." The surprise on her face was pronounced, and she was only just recovering when he unsheathed one of his swords and handed it to her. "They won't believe you unless you have proof." He said, flipping the blade to hold the handle out. Rishaati grasped it, her movements seemingly dazed. Gently slapping her in the cheek, to bring her back to reality, he saluted to her briefly. "Do me proud, Risha." Kisikoni ordered, his voice taking on a sad tone. She said nothing, and merely saluted in response before she disappeared in the haze to organize his squad. Her squad now.

Screams began littering the lines as he approached them, and Kisikoni had no idea what was going on. It was hard enough to see, let alone discern the enemy. However, it seemed as if his help would help keep the line from breaking as they threatened to do. Despite this, he held back. As passionate was he was about assisting his fellow comrades, he dared not strain himself just yet and earn the ire of his commanding officer. However, it didn't take long before a red streak pierced the dark sky, and began glowing.

It did not take long for Kisikoni to make it over toward the beacon-like signal. A very odd bit of magic, but it did not take much for the Deep Human to recognize a pair of pale monsters that bore down on Thanaros in a flurry of white limbs. Kisikoni instantly recognized them to a point. There was no Deep Human that hasn't heard of a vampire, the monsters of legend. While tales of their prowess varied considerably, the description was always the same: pale skin, elegant wear, and bloody red eyes. Captain Grimsmirk said that he could not transform outside of the shitter, but to be honest, Kisikoni had no idea what that meant. Slang was not something Kisikoni was very familiar with. Not trusting himself to fight such a fearsome beast, he instinctively thought of that voice.

You are in luck, mortal. Being bedridden allowed me to adjust to your flimsy body. the voice whispered. Kisikoni stiffened slightly as he faced the Vampires, drawing his sword. Your paper-like limbs should be able to take this a lot better.

"I don't want your help." Kisikoni snarled, feeling worthless against his foe before him.

Do you have a choice? Kisikoni could not summon a rebuttal. Gritting his teeth, the exchange did not take long before Kisikoni let it take over.

Image


A blast of air exploded outward from Kisikoni as thorns erupted from his arms and legs, crowning his eyes and sending his skin awash with a deep maroon color. Fear was not something that was elicited at this point, it was something induced by a palpable aura. Kisikoni's left hand, which was free from the sword he had given to Rashaati, was morphed into a spear-like tip. With a wordless screech, leapt an incredible distance toward Cristophe at an incredible speed in an attempt to slice his head off.




Mercy Yan'vega
The Paragon


Image Looking for Neira proved to be utterly hopeless, but Mercy promised herself that she would locate her eventually. It wasn't natural that the psionic dragonfly would just disappear without a word. Mercy remembered bits and pieces about that night, but she was certain she wasn't present when the pugilist vanished. This disturbed her greatly, because she was also fairly certain that she was with Neira for a majority of that day. She wanted to devote her free time into thinking about it, as she never really did anything else besides drink and tease her son. Speaking of Wrath, she had not seen him lately either. She was assured that he was out and about, but even the bibulous nightmarian had motherly instincts that told her otherwise.

Before she could dwell on these unpleasant feelings, she became aware that the entire area around her was shrouded in a black fog that clouded much of the Paragon's vision. Mercy herself had some good eyesight, but it didn't allow her to see the threat that was incoming. By the time she managed to get her bearings, the assault was already on. Puffing her cheeks out angrily, she decided that looking for the General and her friend would have to wait. Regrettably.

Mercy had finally managed to locate and lead her squad to fill in part of the defensive line that was getting weak. Zombies did not mind getting their limbs crushed by her flail, and it was also rather slow if one was careful. Swinging the damn thing too quickly and wildly often ended up with flesh on the ground that was not the opponent's. So, she withdrew her three-section-staff. They would give her some range, and they were quicker than her flail. Though her strikes were not fatal if they did not strike the head, her comrades easily finished them off while she used her great range to keep them at bay.

It wasn't long before the lines suddenly threatened to break from an unknown force. Mercy could feel it as the delicate synergy between the soldiers become lethargic as something else preoccupied their minds. Breaking from her position, she demanded to know what was going on, and nobody knew. She allowed a swordsman to take her place- Mercy really wasn't doing much else aside from whacking zombies and shouting the occasional warning to a comrade. Dashing through the camp so she could bring news of what was going on back to the front lines, she was attracted by a loud noise. She turned the corner and saw a lone figure fighting several automatons, most likely from the human artificer that she heard quite vividly one night. As grave as the situation was, she could not help but snorting at the thought.

In all her years, however, very rarely did she see the single figure fighting the machines. Vampires were rare these days, even in the seediest parts of the world where Mercy used to lurk. To see one on this battlefield against the Paragon was an ill omen indeed. She loaded a sizable rock, and begun swinging the sling around. Taking aim toward the Vampire, she whipped the rock at him.

"Yoo-hoo! Vampy! How about playing with me, handsome?" She called sweetly, preparing for the worst. Even with previous experience, she was not very comfortable with fighting Vampires yet. Though perhaps if he underestimated her, she could get a very definitive advantage.




Safir Garethson
The Children of Fire
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The attack was much more successful than Safir had hoped, but even before he could wipe the blood off his blade and check his shield and armor for dents, a sudden dark storm overtook the skies, causing the knight to worry. This was an unnatural phenomenon. Even as his vision became clouded, his ears remained opened and to be honest, this situation completely terrified him. Not being able to see the foe he was focused on is bad in every possible way, and opens him for an attack from his blind spots. Suddenly, an order was made. Prepare the defenses, get ready to dig in. It was time to survive.

Safir did a lot of the heavy lifting himself, using his natural strength to carry multiple objects at once when wagons were not available to form a decent wall. His carrying ability was only augmented by his strength thanks to the dragons, but even then it didn't seem enough. The defenses were shoddy at best, but judging by comments made by glum defenders, it would be more than enough of an obstacle for most zombies. His sword and shield shall do much more killing in the later hours. However, before the zombies could reach within range, Aesr began a rousing war speech. Without thinking, Safir raised his sword and fire coalesced around the blade. He was deprived of a free hand, and it is said that the blade is merely the extension of one's hand. Why not apply it now? A boiling, giddy feeling rose up in Safir's body as he watched the fire roll along the length of the blade. He wasn't sure whether it would damage the sword or not, but getting replacements should be easy enough, and hot swords can still kill zombies. With a great sweep, a wave of fire joined the inferno the other children conjured and succeeded in searing through the first wave.

A dark, gnawing feeling now made itself prominent in Safir. Is this battlelust? He decided to dwell on it later, as now there was a battle to fight. The feeling of fear was gone now, replaced with a raging eagerness to cut down the zombies. As if on cue, a melted horde of five rushed through a hole in the wall, a monstrocity that Safir was all too happy to engage. Bringing himself low, he moved to the side and cut the legs out from under the zombie to send it stumbling. While the melted bodies struggled (some breaking free and attempting to regroup), it was a mean task for Safir to simply slash their heads off and leave deep gashes that disallowed movement as tendons severed. Two surviving zombies turned to rush Safir from opposite sides, dealt with by a powerful rush toward one, moving around the zombie and keeping it at bay with the shield and pushing it toward the second. With a burst of fire from his sword, the two ghouls stumbled and crumbled into dust.

It was thanks to Carmen once again that his blade managed to cut so cleanly through the undead, but Safir was so overcome in the heat of battle this time, that he simply did not notice. However, what he did notice was some odd ghostly prongs approaching another robed child. Immediately thinking of Carmen, he broke from his current position and ran to Tellion, stabbing the ghostly being before it could overcome the Silenced. As the ethereal being burst into wisps of festering energy, he identified the Silenced as not-Carmen. Still, he nodded toward the Elf and proceeded back toward his spot, preparing to gather flame on his sword.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Feng Tao Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr
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#, as written by Smith
The Civil

Northern Front

Moving as one, the band of pale women made their way across the battlefield. Each moved with disturbing unity with the next, the image of one being in separate bodies made real. Lesser undead parted before them like a gust of wind parting a field of wheat. Before long, the steel-eyed maidens stood face to face with the one black dragon that remained at the wall the cultist had hastily erected. The foremost of them, a gray-skinned human, waved for the others to spread out. All twenty-four of them surrounded the hatchling before it was even aware of their presence. The great wyrm loosed a throaty laugh and bowled over another group of skeletons as it advanced on a gray halfling.

The halfling, as well as the other maidens stood stark still as the beast moved within striking distance of the girl. The dragon, Vewenthras, snaked forward with blinding speed to snap the the undead maiden in half with his jaws. He caught a slight movement out of the corner of his eye before the world flashed white.

The shards of Vewenthras's consciousness fell back together to reveal the halfling standing directly in front of his nose. Vewenthras found that his bulk was spread on the ground, and he could barely move. The world still spun and the organs that served as his ears bled profusely. It was all the dragon could do to keep himself from slipping under again. He watched feebly as the halfling opened her mouth. Although he could hear nothing, Vewenthras's snout crunched as some invisible force smashed in to his face. He could tell that the other maidens were doing the same as other parts of his body were beaten and bones were splintered.

In seconds, the hatchling Vewenthras was nothing more than a slumped mass of pulped scales and powdered bone. He was distantly aware that the lesser undead, the zombies and skeletons, were swarming his body and gorging themselves on his prone form, but Vewenthras could not muster the strength to shake the pests off. It was then that Vewenthras met his end as a moth covered by ants.

The last he saw of his assailants before his eyes were torn out was the group moving closer to the wall.

'Ware, 'ware, the eyes so pale,
Their crushing melody,
They'll fell ye with a single wail,
Deathly scream o' the-



The Children of Fire

Northern Front

"Banshee!" Oraun clutched his bleeding ear with one hand and slashed at the nearest undead with the other. He was still reeling from the cacophonous screams the colorless maidens had released when the undead horde came on with the next wave. Those Children closest to the site of Vewenthras's death were affected the most, falling to the ground with ruptured eardrums and retching at the deadly waves of sound. In mere seconds an entire section of the wall was overrun. He looked to Jivven who was just outside of range of the banshee's wails and nodded his head towards the pale women. "We need to stop them, they're letting in too many undead!"

Oraun gritted his teeth. He could still see many of his brethren still fighting despite the wails, and he refused to watch them die. The dark elf swept his blade forward, beating back several zombies in the process. He hooked the toe of his boot under his sword and flipped it up in to the air, snatching the weapon up before the undead could regroup. Two more Children leaped down from the wall to aid Oraun. It gave him the perfect excuse to launch off towards the banshees. Fifteen were already jumping down on the inside of the perimeter when Oraun skewered the halfling that had stunned Vewenthras. "Get the other four!" Oraun roared to Jivven, indicating the five banshees guiding their lesser kin over the unprotected section of wall.

Oraun kicked the lifeless banshee off of his sword and swept around to gut a zombie that was creeping up behind him. four more banshees turned their gazes, filled with cold hate, on the darkling that dared to attack one of their number. Oraun bare his teeth and raised his swords in challenge. The other Children that were on this side of the wall were tearing through the horde like sharks gliding through a school of mackerel, but he was the only one that was close enough to deal with the banshees.

The first opened its mouth to scream, but Oraun was already on her. The deep human banshee whipped around, but too late. Oraun sprang and thrust. The cruel steel burst out of the back of the banshee's neck. Oraun swiped at another banshee that tried to step around her sister, then wrenched his short sword from her mouth. A gush of blood erupted from her mouth, eliciting a satisfied grunt as Oraun kept up his momentum. The warrior flowed past the falling banshee and sliced at the one that had tried to get at him moments before. His blade bit in to opaque flesh once, twice, three times before the banshee sank to the ground. Two more, Oraun thought confidently, a wild hope burning in his breast.

The last two banshees used the time he spent dealing with their sisters to put some distance between themselves and the murderous darkling. Both opened their mouths and screamed as one. A Child that appeared to have feigned death cut the feet out from under one just as she wailed, slamming her jaw shut in the dirt and allowing her only a surprised grunt, foiling the sonic attack. Still, it was a slight reprieve against the wall of sound that slammed in to Oraun. The darkling turned his left side to the banshee and braced himself as the destructive meldoy washed over him.

Several of the darkling's teeth shattered, his left eardrum was completely destroyed, and Oraun screamed in agony as the eye on the left side of his face burst with a gory pop. Oraun formed another scream of his own, exhaling fire as well as pain. Both banshees recoiled and fell as their bodies were consumed by the dragonfire. The brother that had saved him before was rising to his feet, as were a few others that had fought their way clear of the zombies and skeletons.

Seven out of the ten Children that had been attacked by the banshees stood once more to fight. Oraun's chest swelled with pride at his daring rescue. He turned to Jivven, expecting his fellow darkling to have finished his own foes, and graced him with a brotherly smile. "Nice work."

The other Children rushed towards, or away from Oraun with wide eyes. Before Oraun could determine what was going on, all sound disappeared from his world as well as sight. Oraun slumped to the ground in a boneless heap, his bones powdered and his organs reduced to pulp. Oraun died instantly. The banshee that he'd first attacked, the spitted halfling, grinned at her kill as the other cultists stabbed her to true death.


Tellion jumped slightly as both captain Tao and a brawny Child saved hum from a threat he had not even noticed. The elf nodded sagely at Safir, as if he was expecting nothing less out of the warrior, and allowed Tao a stitched smile. His question was innocent enough. By nature, the undead were indefatigable and without any sense of joy or boredom. The greater undead, such as vampires and liches, were capable of the full spectrum of mortal emotion, but that was-

Tellion abruptly raised both hands and launched a pair of howling vortexes of wind at a banshee. The silenced cursed and hoped the big fellow was still nearby, as well as the captain. Nearby Children rallied around Tao as the banshees that managed to scale the wall advanced alongside a sizable host of zombies. Tellion snapped his fingers and an orb of shimmering heat formed in his delicate hand. He sincerely wished that their reinforcements would arrive already.


The Paragon

Southern Front


South? No...North. Northeast. Yes, yes, that's good. No, you can't rest yet, my little prophet. Xeron wiped the blood that began to run from Wrath's nostrils and continued to probe the general's mind. He clutched a dimly glowing shard of crystal and maps coalesced in the psion's mind. Good, Wrath. Excellent. How far? No. That' won't do. That's much too far, boy! We need to arrive before the Pale One or the Dragon. Xeron snarled and slapped Wrath's unconscious face, achieving nothing more than bruising his pale flesh. What do you mean they already know?

Xeron broke contact with Wrath. His chest heaved with the effort of maintaining the spell for so long, and his own nose bled freely. The darkling shook his head and stomped off in to the embattled camp. He had to prepare, and quickly.


He dodged right with incredible speed, but was still had to backpedal desperately to avoid having his throat torn out. Cristophe stared incredulously at the hellish mockery of mortality before him, forgetting the half-orc entirely. Amaryliss could handle that one anyway. Whatever this thing was, it was powerful. The scent of divinity and fel taint wafted from its blood in nauseating waves. Cristophe almost wretched, his vampiric senses overwhelmed by the stench.

Instead, the vampire bared his fangs and came on in a rush of claws and kicks. Cristophe's blade-like claws were in Kisikoni's face in an instant.


A stone cracked Lyle on the side of the head as he danced around the ponderous swing of a golem. The vampire stumbled, almost tripping as he caught on his own feet. Lyle scanned for the source of such a barbaric attack and met the gaze of a predatory beauty. Lyle immediately straightened, slicked back his hair and sketched a bow, heedless of the already healing wound on his temple. "Well good day, mien fraulein."

A huge fist tore off Lyle's head as he arose from his show of courtesy. From beyond the squad of golems, Turha nodded at Mercy and began ordering his constructs elsewhere.

"Lyle!" the piercing shriek was almost unintelligible amid the chaos, but it was obviously intended to mourn the death of the male vampire. A female, sporting a bob-style cut that was popular several decades ago, tore through a dozen Paragon soldiers to kneel by Lyle's headless corpse. She sobbed as Lyle's body shriveled and turned to dust as the ages caught up with him. As if forgetting it immediately, the woman turned her scornful gaze on Mercy. "Bitch!"

Getrude raised both arms in Mercy's direction, hands gnarled in to vicious claws. Thin blades of ice shot forth, expanding as the went. Four in all, the first demonstrated their power by shearing straight through a pair of soldiers that leapt to Mercy's defense. What appeared to be a writhing mass of sludge surged upwards off of the floor near another group of soldiers nearby, reforming as a trio of human-like goliaths. The golems of roiling flesh and bone engulfed entire men and women as they attacked, leaving behind neatly stripped skeletons in their wake.


"This is it." Gertz pushed his way past the tent flap and entered the general's quarters. Two more vampires followed him in, glancing around warily.

"Someone has been here recently." the first said.

"They aren't here now, Petrice." the second retorted, sneering.

"Enough." Gertz shoved Petrice and Kallen aside and approached the motionless figure in the bed. He was unimpressed. The man's blood-scent was interesting enough, but it was obvious that the general was suffering from some sort of serious malady. He would not be leading anyone any time soon. The fact that no one guarded him in such a vulnerable state attested to this. Gertz snorted derisively and motioned for Kallen. "Kill him and let us get to the real fun."


Hundreds of feet above the squirming, embattled masses, Iridanias and four of her kin soared. Iridanias twisted her sinuous ruby body and dodged a blast of fire that caught her brother, Qualion, full in the face. Qualion screeched and lurched, falling from the sky in a blinded, writhing heap. Iridanias scanned the murk for the source of the attack. Analistacles roared in pain and began a rapid descent, his right wing a torn and bloody stump. The remaining three reds were hovering back to back now, roaring in to the darkness. What was picking them off? They were the proud sons and daughters of Gurthenemon the Red, and nothing in the skies was their equal.

Wingbeats from above was the only warning they received. Iridanias and Jormundir pulsed their powerful wings and rolled away, but Otullia was not so lucky. The smallest red was torn almost in half as a pair of black dragons pulled her in opposite directions. Iridanias and Jormundir roared their fury and dove at their dark kin, fangs and claws bared, but they were not fast enough. Aesr and Lalaliki disappeared in to the darkness once more. Iridanias could here the black's mocking laughter.

"Why hello there, red." it called out from the mists, "Fancy meeting you here."

Iridanias's mind raced. The cultists were here too? What could that possibly mean? Were they aware of Nhil's purpose as well? How many had they brought to bare? Her thoughts ended abruptly as Aesr streaked out of the mist and raked bloody furrows down Iridanias's back. She would have lost a wing had she not evaded in time. This was not good. A black was no match for a red in a straight up fight, but the dark kin were not one's to fight fairly. If this kept on, she would die an honorless death. So she waited. "Come then, burnt bitch."

A loud buzzing rose in her ears as the battle lust intensified.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson
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Kisikoni Ayalen
The Paragon


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It wasn't completely unexpected that the vampire would dodge. It had never personally fought any before, but he was surprised that it's heightened senses could withstand the notably horrid stench that rolled off his form. Cracking a grisly smile as Cristophe's visage turned fierce, it prepared for the counter attack by loosening it's stance. "Come brrrrrreak your fists against me!" it cackled, despite the fact that it knew Kisikoni's body still wasn't sturdy enough to handle a vampire's blows. Luckily, the Vampire did not know that they were on more of an even playing level than it appeared. The Vampire's assault would have been nearly instantaneous to a certain Deep Human, but for not for itself.

Twisting to the right, it pivoted as a flurry of blows just barely missed. However, Cristophe recovered neatly from the dodge, just in time to duck a wild swipe that would have separated his head from his body. Lashing out with a nasty kick, the vampire managed to catch Kisikoni in the stomach, sending it stumbling backward. Cristophe twisted to his feet and attempted to follow up with a couple of clean jabs, but they were quickly parried by the malignant being and was returned with a powerful knee to the stomach. Dancing backward, Cristophe decided that nursing the epicenter of that explosion of pain was not the greatest idea. It was already healing, and Cristophe made a great leap over Kisikoni's attempted stab with his butterfly sword. Landing behind it, Cristophe's attempt to plunge his hand into the deep human's back was halted as it screeched, loosing a sudden burst of fear that caused the Vampire to recoil in disgust. The deep human's body then turned around, using the opportunity to attempt to bring it's spade-like fist straight through the vampire's face.




Mercy Yan'vega
The Paragon


Image Her coy smile did not falter even as Turha's automaton ripped Lyle's head from his body with a quick motion. "Always the gentleman." She replied to the body, blowing a kiss just as a piercing shriek ripped through the tents. Mercy could only assume that it was the late-vampire's name being called as a woman darted over to cradle his body as it crumbled away. Mercy had to admit the bobcut she sported was rather stylish. The female vampire screeched her grief at the Nightmarian spider, obviously intent on taking revenge. Was he her lover? She doubted it, as the first thing he did when Lyle and Mercy locked eyes was smooth his hair and greet him.

A blast of ice coming from Getrude's fingertips easily roused Mercy from her light musings, the sheets of power slicing clean through two soldiers stupid enough to come between them. She appreciated the thought, but they just wasted their lives when she easily dodged them. She had to work out some sort of plan, but before she could even begin to let one ferment, a trio of meat-golems rose from the ground. They consumed men (armor and all), leaving only skeletons behind as signs of their passing. Things just got a whole lot more complicated. Biting her lower lip, she would have loved it if she had some better backup right now, but instead she simply shrieked for all nearby soldiers to retreat from the vampire and what may be her constructs. Getrude's biggest target was definitely Mercy for inadvertently causing Lyle's death. "Damn it Turha!' Mercy cried, dashing away as a blast of ice shredded the tent behind where she stood.

The golems were the biggest problem- if they surrounded her, she was naught but a sitting duck as Getrude loosed blast after blast of magic attempting to catch up to the Nightmarian Spider. It was then when Mercy had a plan. skidding to a stop, she twisted her torso to look behind and carefully loosed a burst of webbing into the three golems. Of course, the golems absorbed the webbing quite easily, but what they didn't know was that it did not mesh will with the meat around it. Their movements slowed and stopped as the glue-like substance locked their limbs and prevented them from taking any more action. Now it was just her and Getrude, as her claws just barely missed her once more. She didn't trust her ark shell to withstand even one blow from these blades. Heck, there was rarely anything she allowed her once-trusty armor to take. Magic was quite a scary thing. She withdrew her 3-section staff, and attempted to keep her at range, but the vampire was simply too quick. She also sliced the slabs of wood and metal to pieces with her ice blades.

"By the dead gods!" She cursed, watching her mourning star get sliced to pieces as she brought it around. Reduced now to her fangs, legs, whip and web now. A formidable arsenal, but it seemed woefully understocked when fighting a revenge-fueled vampiress. Jumping back once more, Mercy attempted to blast Getrude with webbing, following up with a swing of her nine-section whip.




Safir Garethson
The Children of Fire
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Safir, luckily was nowhere near Oraun and the likes when a ghastly scream nearly caused him to jump and shout in terror as well. Resounding cries of "Banshee! Banshee!" only multiplied the shock. The Civil were digging up banshees to aid them now as well? What weren't they going to pull?! Safir did not know whether the problem was localized, but he was sure he saw Jivven and Oraun around that area, and trusted them to handle the Banshees. So far the wails only came from that angle, so Safir assumed that the Banshee were rare enough that they didn't have more in reserve. Safir really did not want to be proven wrong. The elvish beserker, Dresinil made his way over, covered in blood and panting. "Human!" He boomed, his voice still nearly lost in the din. "Do you know when the reinforcements are coming?"

"I don't!" Safir shouted in return, running with the elf back toward the front lines. Dresinil cursed explosively, raising his hand and blasting a group of zombies with dragonfire. Safir rushed forward as the flame guttered out and bashed the flaming hord with his shield, sending all of them onto their asses where they crumbled to ash. Swinging his sword again, he cut through zombie after zombie, only distantly aware of Dresinil doing the same somewhere near him. He couldn't keep track of Pylarea, Gatan, Zulii, Jivven, or anyone else. It was simply too desperate to. He never imagined that the Civil had necromancers of such power, to reanimate so many bodies to bring to fight. Eventually, he was pushed back as the undead horde became too much for even his enchanted sword laced with dragonfire. Letting another Child take his place, Safir resisted the urge to take his helmet off and wipe the sweat that threatened to blur his vision. Now was not the time for such petty things, Lifting his visor, however, he saw Carmen not too far away healing bodies. And several ghasts ready to strike. Safir screamed at Dresinil, who's head snapped and saw the biggest threat to their healer. It was only thanks to their augmented speed and agility that they were able to cross the distance and intercept the Wights before they could strike. Dresinil tackled his surprised wight, and began dueling the zombie in a quick exchange that left him the victor. Safir, however clashed into the zombie more awkwardly, and severly underestimated the wight as just another undead. The thought that it had been sneaking up on the healer rather than straight bum-rushing her was nothing but a leaf in the rapids. Raising his shield, the intelligent zombie easily broke the surprised human's guard, and slipped one hand around the Knight's neck.

I've had enough of suffocating for one lifetime! Safir bellowed mentally, pushing aside the pain for one moment as he brought a flaming sword up and lopped off the draugr's arm. The zombie stumbled back as Safir ripped it's arm away from his neck and threw it away, following up with a wild slash that nearly went completely through the zombie laterally. With adrenaline pumping through his veins, he tackled the zombie over, and stomped on it's face with a metal boot, crushing the skull. Attempting to right himself, Safir was suddenly aware of a distinct pain in his neck and how his vision was narrow and blurred. The familiar feeling that he couldn't breathe returned, and he collapsed backward, unable to move.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Feng Tao Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr
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The Paragon
The Imperian, General’s Tent

Neira hissed when the male vampire dissolved, and were it not for extenuating circumstances, she would have pursued him, torn down his pathetic excuse for a mental barrier, and fed him his own rotting intestines, just for fun.

As it was, Wrath’s mind was stirring, and she still had two vampires to deal with. Well, one and a half, anyway. Still, she attached a nice little mental tag to the retreating one, not invasive but useful, and blinked languidly when the one still hale and whole attempted to wrap her sticklike fingers around the general’s pale neck. She received a blade to the heart for her trouble, and Neira stepped in smoothly towards the other, who scrabbled backwards with all the futility of the three-legged doe.

“Now, now, dear, try not to struggle. It’ll only hurt worse,” she singsonged, then nearly grimaced when she realized how similar that sounded to a certain arachnoid friend of hers. Bloody Mercy. Next thing you know, I’ll be hitting on anything that moves.

The remaining vampire gasped her last even as Neira drove her hand the rest of the way through her chest, snapping the limb with several wet cracks for good measure. The flaxen-haired thing lay unmoving thereafter, well and truly dead- for good this time.

Wiping her bloodied hands on her robe, Neira turned to Wrath, sweeping her eyes down over him exactly once before she sighed. She was at his side almost immediately, fingertips at his temples, siphoning off his pain. This was a trick she’d learned long ago but never seen much use for. Of late, it had become regular to split agony with Xeron such, though he most often refused now, as there was some inevitable psionic bleed. She could only assume she was no longer allowed to share in his plans, but she wasn’t about to ask this one’s permission when he clearly required the assistance.

His comment, such as it was, met its answer with the entrance of a healer, screaming her fool head off and making rather a spectacle of herself. Once the ungodly racket had died down and the necessary deductions had been made, Neira responded by raising a single eyebrow. “The pale one? I could find him, and transport us there, but you’re not dying on my watch without a better plan than that, Captain.” She didn’t mention what was obvious to the both of them: that he was hardly in the best shape, and the two of them, while formidable on their worst day, did not an army make.



The Children of Fire
The Imperian, Northern Front


Carmen had the palms of her hands resting softly on the temples of an injured orc when she heard a crash too close behind her for comfort. Pressing her bound lips together in a thin line, the cleric finished off the process and rose, turning fluidly in time to see Safir and Dresinil engaging two Wights and three or so lesser undead.

Biting her tongue, the young woman was forced to watch as, immediately after felling one of the creatures, Dresinil’s head was bashed in by a blind-side hammer blow from another, and he crumpled to the ground, dead. When Safir fell, too, the healer knew a sensation she had not felt in what seemed a lifetime: a cold tendril wound its way around her stomach and her heart, warming until it burned, creeping up her throat to settle in her mouth with the metallic tang of blood where she’d bitten the soft flesh inside her mouth.

Slowly, her left hand ascended to her lips, the threads there burned away with the touch of holy magic. With it, her bindings, her reservations, wore away, and her chains were loosed. Her skin took on a warm glow, and the area immediately around her was flooded with magic, healing the injured over a wide area. The elf who had obeyed Jivven’s order for conveyance found that his injured knee, an old wound form a battle long ago, had returned to complete function, and Jivven himself was good as new, perhaps better.

Vortigern, still fighting beside Pylarea and the one called Gatan, grinned broadly at the rush of adrenaline, cleaving into the hand grasping for the Nightmarian with giddy abandon, lost to the red berserker haze. The same orc Carmen had just healed nudged Jivven in the shoulder. “I’m a pretty big distraction, buddy. You look like a guy who could take advantage of that.” Gorthax, for so he was called, turned and headed back for the field of battle, intent on causing as much carnage as possible.

Fortunately, the burst of life-energy from Carmen was timed with the arrival of the reinforcements, and at about the same time as a peeved Aesr, chased by a screeching Iridinias, dove downward to order her unit captain to take what men he could recover and lead the vanguard, that number of salvageable soldiers nearly doubled.

For her own part, Carmen crouched, touching a gentle hand to Safir’s forehead. “Rise, my friend,” she implored him, her voice husky from disuse but fairly thrumming with music, “for now is not your time. I will not see you lost to the likes of these.”

Just ahead, Tao bellowed, a sharp rallying cry heard even over the din of arriving reinforcements. Aesr did not want to be outdone by her brothers, and it was their job to ensure she would not be. Though he was certain by now that few fought for her whim, he knew that in the end, each individual purpose would be served in the same way.

The troops answered him, gathering about their oddball captain like the trained soldiers most of them were not. Several now lay dead, and when all was said and done, several more bodies would join the dust, but the reinforcement and recharge had done most of them a service to morale as well. He watched those that could still answer his call gather about him: Carmen, Shasarra, Gorthax, Tellion and Vortigern among them, and the Captain gave them all a savage grin.

“Back to hell with them all!” The shout was Vortigern’s, but several more picked it up, and in a v-formation with Tao at the point, they charged forward to meet the Civil lines, now augmented with both the living and fresh undead. The formations crashed against one another, several falling in the immediate contact. Tellion was hit with a javelin and went down, another dark elf and halfling behind him, but by far the majority of the loss impacted the undead. It was not long before the freshened Children reached the ranks of the living among their foes, and here the battle began in earnest. These were no mindless zombies, but thinking, feeling, strategizing soldiers.

Carmen had summoned a light-formed glaive, which she swung with all the ferocity of a shieldmaiden of yore, occasionally punctuating her assaults with pure notes of spellsong, their effects differentiated by pitch and tone. Tao moved like water, flowing around opponents, leaving many dead or re-dead before they registered the damage. Gorthax was a rough, shouting mess with a mace, the perfect distraction for those who worked without so much noise.

“Now this is more like it, in’it, ‘Rea?” Vortigern asked the moth beside him, cleaving a zombie’s skull with one of his axes. Shasarra, wielding a sword and shield in tandem, was already streaked with the blood of her foes, macabre lines painting the canvas of her face in a history of vicious victories. She stepped in to take what was once Dresinil’s place in the line, though she held it more with swooping, diving, and dodging motions than sheer strength and endurance.

The Children of Fire were making a push, and there was no mistaking that the Civil were now on the defensive.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr Character Portrait: The Sunwings
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#, as written by Arke
Kisikoni Ayalen
The Paragon


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With a rush of satisfaction, it watched the vampire clutch at his face and scream as it's hand sheared off a good portion of his visage. Before it could rush in for the kill, Cristophe all but vanished, retreating into the line of fighting paragon soldiers. He returned with two corpses and a refreshed countenance. With a smart remark, he dropped the husks in his hands. Suddenly, two blights rushed Kisikoni, but it made no inclination to move as they closed in. While these skeletal horrors were unnatural, they were but a candle in a gale compared to the vampire and Kisikoni's speed at this point. They were nothing but a nuisance. With a explosion of movement, the blights stumbled past Kisikoni as their ribs and organs were sliced clean through. The graveworms made to attack it Kisikoni, latching themselves onto the deep human's armor and attempting to tunnel through. Another blast of air and fell energy, and the simple monsters were thrown off, left squirming on the ground as the taint quickly overwhelmed their instincts and they fell still.

With a brief pause, it felt nothing but amusement. Cristophe made to attack but paused confidently as it loosed a keening laugh, clawing the air with it's fell notes. "So it is true! You nightworms are the cowardly maggots the stories make you out to be!" It screeched in hysterical mirth, as fleshy growths similar to roots began to sprout over Kisikoni's arms and body. Insulted, Cristophe made to respond but was cut off as Kisikoni rushed the pale maggot, jumping and scoring a brutal kick to it's chest. The vampire flew back several feet before regaining balance and twisting to divert the momentum back to his side, attacking once more with two swipes of his clawed hands. The deep human easily dodged left, attempting a wild swing that would have cleaved the vampire in two if he had not jump and scored a spinning kick to the deep human's jaw. Spinning away, it quickly grabbed it's dislocated mouth and snapped it back into place once it got up, in time to see Cristophe nearly on top of it. Bringing it's arms up in defense, it felt the vampire's claws rake across it's arms, causing a release of a vile stench and liquid, presumed to be blood. Flinging it into Cristophe's face as he recoiled, it attempted another kill, attempting to cleave the vampire into multiple pieces with two devastating swipes.




Mercy Yan'vega
The Paragon


Image Squealing in delight when the web managed to successfully ensnare the vampire, she took notice of the Sunwing that appeared next to her. Mercy couldn't be assed to remember her name, but smiled when she interrupted with her question. "Aren't you cute, helping old ladies finish off hellspawn." She cooed, resisting the urge to take her eyes off the vampire and give the adorable elf a squeeze. Suddenly, four blights appeared, covering Getrude from further attacks as she made her escape. A soldier jumped in, ramming his sword through one of the blights and causing it to collapse. Mercy had to quickly wonder what was so special about these things as she kept them at bay with her whip before the graveworms started eating the soldier that had slain one of the blights.

"Oh. How unsightly." Mercy muttered, stomping the face of the unfortunate soldier in as he fell to the ground. Surviving graveworms attempted to attack her, but her ark shell was finally useful for something as they drilled and gnawed to no avail and simply fell off. "Watch your shoes honey, I don't want to have to see that happen to you too." She warned Adel, using her whip to easily crack the ribs that protected the blight's organs that contained the parasitic worms. Eventually, they were defeated, and the worms were left to rot. Mercy coated the organs with her webbing for good measure, as the viscous substance would not tear easily and cause the worms to suffocate.

However, her problems were not over. That vampire had escaped into the camp once more, and the Blights were causing paragon soldiers to rise up and attack their lines from behind. At this rate, even Wrath's army of powerful misfits would rout and become a thing of the past. She ground her teeth, deciding to forego pursuing Getrude and decided to work on the undead Paragon Troops that rose to attack their former comrades from behind.




Safir Garethson
The Children of Fire
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Barely conscious, Safir was unable to register that next to him lay his dead friend, Dresinil. He was unable to see Carmen go through some invisible change. He was oblivious to the world in it's entirety as he waited for a wight to stroll in and take his life. However, with a flash of light that he couldn't see, Safir suddenly find himself invigorated, able to breathe once more. Opening his eyes, he managed to see Carmen bend over and touch his forehead. His bloodlust was completely gone, and he could only look up in wonder as his limbs were refreshed and he felt vigorous and eager once more. Her request was interpreted as an order by the awestruck human, immediately scrambling to his feet.

His head turned as his heightened senses caught his air-headed captain screaming a rally cry, which was very rare for the calculating and quiet officer to do. Safir instantly followed behind Carmen, who seemed to have changed entirely. The entire scene and general ambiance had changed- what was hopeless was now hopeful as the true children arrived, the faithful beserkers who were the cream of the crop. Roaring his own battle-cry, he raised his sword. It had miraculously escaped damage so far from the dragonfire on quick inspection. Charging with his comrades, he would never have felt such a strong sense of camaraderie if he continued to lie near death from his fight with a wight. Crashing into the line of the undead, his shield immediately threw two of the undead back with it's sheer force, another sweep of his sword killed several more as heads rolled, Once the initial charge's effect had worn off, he continued his wrath, blocking blows with his shield and tanking lighter strikes in his sturdy suit of armor. His destructive slices were calculated this time, unlike the bloodlust that had overcome him earlier in that desperate situation and most of the undead could not stand up to him. Making much further progress was the undeniable aura of Carmen, and not too far away was Pylarea, which was a sight that relieved Safir. Jivven, being the man that he was was nowhere in sight. The jolly co-operation that existed between the children as they pushed the Civil back was astonishing.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Feng Tao Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr
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The Paragon
Southern Front

Neira’s nose wrinkled with distaste as Wrath downed several vials of a vaguely plurplish draught. She’d nearly laid into the last fool who’d tried to convince her to drink anything medicinal. Perhaps it was fortunate that her injuries were usually the kind that could be treated without them. Natural armor did wonders, she reflected, tapping her fingers lightly together.

At the mention of Xeron, her eyes narrowed. “So that’s what he was after. It figures.” She shifted her weight from one foot to the other. Keeping her own mind closed off for the duration of her imprisonment had left her blind to any psionic manipulations he’d been using on the general, and so it was impossible for her to know the extent of the damage without checking herself, something they currently lacked the time for. She’d never show it, but this concerned her. A muscle in her jaw tightened, but she forced it to relax and followed the halfblood out of the tent. If she noted his use of her given name, she chose not to comment upon it.


She’d opened her mind to the rushing tide of thoughts among her comrades, feeding Wrath the assessment she was able to produce from the tangled jumble of panic, resolve, and hasty observation. It was hard to keep an organized stream of consciousness in the rush of battle, and losing made that worse. So she sorted through flashes of images and distorted fragments of language, piecing together a picture of the state of things, and this was what she reported, keeping her own words as succinct as possible.

She maintained an unusually-grim expression, nodding her acknowledgement to his order and pushing past the panicked or feral thought patterns of the soldiers to plant the order firmly where they would recognize it in their minds. Northern end of camp, as soon as possible. General’s orders. The last was not a strictly-necessary portion of the message, but she gave it careful emphasis. That draconian bitch was not in charge here, and the men needed to know it, else any victory they earned would be in the name of Gurthenemon the Red, and not the Paragon. She may have detested politics, but she well knew what an advantage that would be. Even their defeats must be in their own name, lest they all lose sight of why they continued.


The demons and golems charged, the Paragon soldiers right behind them. Neira moved in at the front of the line, still shadowing Wrath. It was not where she’d most like to be, as the frown etched into her face presently showed, but it was what was necessary, and she had never hesitated to do just that.

She moved to the side when the earth erupted into massive whips of dirt and stone, temporarily losing track of her charge. Unbothered, she ducked under an incoming swing and used her momentum on the way back up to slam the heel of her hand painfully into the chin of her assailant, snapping his neck. The earth crumbled back to unmoving dust shortly thereafter, and she noted Sid’s reappearance with a sardonic smile. That Halfling had a damn uncanny sense of timing.

She knew the face of the dead woman, for it was one she had seen many times in the minds of prisoners or opponents. Miralight Duff, arcanist, wizard, and rumored second-in-command to Nhil himself. If she had to take a guess, she’d say they’d just invited the necromancer’s fury.

Excellent.


Talae Shanir came upon the battlefield at last when the Paragon were making their reinvigorated charge. Setting her jaw, the dark elf spurred her horse, who charged obediently. She could make out her squad on the periphery of the battle, laying traps and sabotaging the Civil behind their lines and without their knowledge. On another day, she might have joined them, but a sweeping glance across the field was enough to inform her that right now, melee combatants were needed more.

With balance only a darkling could possess, she kicked her feet out of her stirrups and drew them underneath her, crouching on the back of the galloping stallion and drawing Abel from the sheath on her back. It was freed with a soft, metallic ringing, the sound of things beginning and things about to end.

When the horse reached the front line, she yanked his reins to the side, ensuring he did not die needlessly by crashing into an oncoming pike or something of the sort. She, however, sprang from his back, somersaulting in midair and landing behind the first line of Civil soldiers.

Her blade cut into the unprotected neck-joint of the first man’s armor before any of them had a chance to react. By the time the rest had regained their bearings, Talae had a flash-bomb in hand, and, striking the flint on her index and middle fingers together, produced enough of a spark to light it. A deft toss placed it in the middle of a group of oncoming fighters, and several staggered backwards, blinded by the detonated result.

By now, the rest of the Paragon were through the initial defenses also, and she fell in with the rest, following the scent of abject fear to find the man she sought. It would not, after all, be a true battle for her unless she was fighting it beside him, regardless of the form he chose for the purpose.


The Children of Fire
Northern Front


Perhaps most people would have been bothered by the warped nature of Pylarea’s demeanor as compared to what she had previously been. Vortigern Weylin, a man with more scars than years of his life, understood exactly what was happening, and did not bother wasting the time to be concerned about it. Battle changed people. It had made him different, too, forged an unhealthy, twig-limbed elven boy from the forest into an axe-slinging, towering combatant with a dangerous battle-lust and a savage grin.

So instead of asking her if she was all right, instead of letting his mouth twist downward with concern or his brows furrow, he laughed, a deep baritone rumble that should have sounded out-of-place but really didn’t. “Atta girl! You’ll be a story to scare Civil children yet.”

But the time for talking was past, and he sank back into his battle-haze, hacking and slashing in a graceless, efficient art that might yet make him such a tale himself.


Carmen was free. How long had it been since she was so? Longer, perhaps, than she wanted to remember. What should have been elation was conveyed upon her features as grave sorrow, frozen into place by the uncanny fierceness that shone only from her eyes. She knew she shouldn’t have done it, that she needed to conserve energy, for she could feel the spellpower massing in the Civil camp, and knew that if she was to stand any chance of cancelling it when it triggered, she would need nearly everything she had, if not more.

But… she could not sit by and watch her comrades, her friends, fall. For so long, Tao had been the only friend she knew, the only one willing to sit beside the woman who could not speak, who was a freak of nature even amidst the other crimson-robed Silenced, and communicate in hesitant gestures, building a language that belonged to them and nobody else. Since her reassignment, she’d been able to make other friends, those who seemed to look upon her and see nothing to hate. Jivven, Shasarra, Pylarea, and Safir… only four, but so many more than she’d ever known before.

They would not die. She would not allow it.

Her desperation to reach the Civil encampment infused her motions, truncating the graceful swings of her glaive and forcing her to backpedal several times when an attempted blow she normally would have been aware of took her by surprise. She quite nearly stepped forward to take on the dark-haired human who held so many of her comrades at bay, that familiar hot sensation driving her toward such action, but when Shasarra tumbled backward, she was rent by conflict. She needed to heal her friend, she needed to avenge the others, and she still needed to save her energy.

Tao, as he always seemed to, solved her dilemma by stepping forward himself. His single glance in her direction reminded her of something he said once. Protecting people…that is noble, perhaps. But what if people can protect themselves? It had seemed an honest inquiry, asked with an almost childlike innocence, but she’d realized that he’d pointed out something she failed to consider. She couldn’t do everything she wanted to, but she didn’t have to either.

She flitted backwards, down the hill after Shasarra, intent on treating the worst of her friend’s injuries. Fortunately, it seemed that the exchange, though brutal, had not lasted long enough to deal the harpy any singularly life-threatening wounds, though the sum total of everything she had endured, the shallow cuts that littered her body, was dangerous enough on its own.


The Civil
Northern Front


Skali watched as the next taker stepped up, a man who looked to be barely out of his boyhood. She was expecting a group; that would have made much more sense, and eventually, they would have been able to overwhelm her with sheer numbers. Many would have died in the process, but so would she, eventually. But no, this youngling was all on his own, exchanging glances with the red-robed cleric and holding up a hand diffidently to deter any of his men from following him to this.

Curious… if Skali had her guess, she’d say that even despite his youth, he had most of the men and women on the field beat for years of combat experience. It was in the way he moved, gliding around fallen bodies and terrain hazards without appearing to even notice them. She was much the same, and a small, secretive smile played across her features. If she could take this one down, her subsequent death at the hands of the masses would all be worth it.

“I am Hurin Skali,” she announced again, as had been customary when she was taught to fight. A worthy opponent deserved to know the name of the one who would be his end.

He cocked his head sideways, the purpose with which he had locked eyes with the mage replaced by what appeared to be a vague, dreamlike quality, as though he were both present and not at the same time. Though his hair was a red-brown, she took him to be a deep human; he was shorter than she, and more lightly-built. It made no difference when facing down the Children of Fire, of course, but it spoke to how he’d been trained, what kinds of tactics he was likely to use. A single-edged sword, presently covered in crimson rivulets of blood which dripped languidly to the earth below, rested in his left hand, his right entirely empty.

One eye was scarred, and the other sported a tattoo she vaguely knew to be familiar. “Feng Tao,” he returned at last, and Skali blinked. It was not a well-known name among common soldiers, perhaps, but she knew it. Not an assassin in the conventional sense, but something of a… problem-solver, sent to intercept and dispatch targets of particular importance in the heat of battle. Perhaps I should feel honored. I will certainly deserve it if I get rid of him.

Knowing better than to underestimate him, she already had the advantage over most of Tao’s opponents, and when she first charged, swinging her left sword in a wide arc, he ducked with speed she had not been expecting. Still, she was able to compensate a bit, and a few reddish hairs floated to the ground. Stepping in, she moved her right sword to slice at his hip, but his own blade blocked crosswise, and he jumped backward, swinging his arm in a tight circle that locked her blade into its motion, forcing her to drop it.

The whole thing took less than two seconds, and already she was without one of her swords. Skali exhaled, realizing she’d been holding her breath the entire time. Shifting her remaining blade to her dominant hand, she chuckled, low and dangerous. She was going to die today no matter what she did, but oh, how the challenge called to her.

Tao stood five feet from her, unmoving and apparently willing to wait until she attacked again. Their confrontation had already gained the attention of a few of the nearby soldiers, well aware that the captains of the squads of Civil and the Children were dueling. Maybe it was a bit superstitious, but such things had the tendency to portend the fate of the greater conflict, did they not?

Skali side-eyed her troops. “If you’re going to watch, make sure you learn,” she deadpanned, and strafed forward with considerable velocity. Tao sidestepped, their swords meeting when they drew alongside each other. Carefully avoiding a deadlock he was sure to win, Skali moved past it, whirling around to face him even as Tao echoed the movement in perfect unison. He was quicker in the recovery though, and she had to backpedal to keep up with his next round of strikes, parrying furiously and delivering a solid kick to his shin just as he shifted weight to step forward again. The slight hitch in his movement allowed her an opportunity, and she righted herself, slashing for his midsection whip-quick. He was faster, and what would have been a fatal blow was reduced to a nick, his blood slightly darker than the red brigandine it seeped into. She’d hit him right where the armor was laced, as he did not wear the complete set of mirror-mail, presumably for lightness.

She reversed direction and crouched into her next blow, aimed for his feet. He jumped, and she used the time to advance, windmilling her arms alternately as she drove him back with three successive upward slices. None hit, but she had him off-balance now.

He launched himself backward, drawing the pommel of his sword to his chest, thrusting outward with it as he moved forward again. Skali’s eyes went wide, and it was all she could do to dive out of the way, rolling to her feet in time to meet his next downward blow with her sword. The kick he delivered to her midsection was backed with a great deal of centripedal force, though, and his wooden sandal collided hard with her sternum. She felt the bone crack and splinter with the force of his supernatural strength, but that blow had been placed well enough that it probably would have broken either way. She had to admire that.

Pushing past the agony, Skali shoved backward on their joined blades with everything she had, which must have been considerably more than he was expecting, for he gave enough ground for her to stand properly, wincing as she attempted to pull more air into her lungs. It was a nearly-unbearable sensation, like her lungs were being rent with splinters of her bone, which they probably were.

Spitting out a mouthful of blood, Skali knew that she had one more pass left in her at most, and she needed to make it count. She had one thing going for her, though: this man was not aware of the fact that she knew she was going to be dead by the end of today. Her self-preservation instinct was all that stopped her from something suicidal until now, but all of that was slowly wearing away to be replaced with the grim certainty of death.

“I’ve always wondered,” his voice, strangely hollow- though his eyes had sparked to life after she drew his blood- broke her from her reverie. “What it felt like to die.”

Skali laughed, a sound that turned into a cough. She ignored the blood that dribbled down her chin and smirked at him. “I’ll make you a deal, Tao. I make it to hell first, and I’ll be sure to tell you when you arrive. Just in case they get you with poison or something stupid like old age.”

A barely-perceptible tilt graced the edges of his lips, and she thought idly that if it were an expression more common to him, he might be considered attractive. She put this down to blood loss and shook her head to clear it. “I’ll take you up on that,” he agreed, flicking his wrist sharply so that most of the ichor left his liuyedao.

The scarred woman said no more, rushing forward in a reckless move that left her defenses wide open. His face registered nothing further, even as her blade cleaved into his right shoulder, the force of desperation separating the limb from its stump even as his sword slid smoothly into the exposed flesh of her neck, parting her head from her shoulders. The arterial spray coated his face and chest, but he scarcely even blinked.

Tao bent, picking his severed arm up off the ground, showing no external sign of what must have been agonizing pain. Blood welled freely from his shoulder, flooding copiously onto the ground. Looking over at the watchers, who had grown in number to encompass just about everybody he could see, he blinked slowly. “Best finish as soon as we can,” he told his troops, slipping into the ranks of children to seek out Carmen before he could faint from the loss of blood.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Liliana Bloodleaf Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Feng Tao
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#, as written by Arke
Kisikoni Ayalen
The Paragon


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The nightmaggot managed to trap it as it attempted to escape from his claws. His eyes widened as the nails sunk an inch into his chest, allowing a splash of dark liquid to fall from his chest. So much for the reliable Blackguard Armor. Hissing, it lashed out just as Cristophe jumped back, his breezy confidence returning as he made a smart remark and retreated. Even as the wounds stitched themselves up grotesquely and the growths began to retreat back into the chinks in the armor, Kisikoni could only fall to his knees in disbelief. It was one lone vampire, a single night hunter, and he couldn't beat it. Thanaros had been able to overpower and decapitate Amaryliss. Granted, he had assistance from Lily, but so did he. Punching the ground, Kisikoni could only beg an answer for the reason why he was just so weak. He had thrown away so much because he wanted power. It was the reason Pel lost her life. She would have been much more useful in this accursed battle than he could have been.

He had barely registered that Wrath had passed earlier, and that Lily left to join the attack, but Kisikoni could not summon the will to join them. His temper flared suddenly after smoldering for a few precious seconds. This is all your fault. You promised me power. Where is it? There was no answer. It never answered when he was asking. Gritting his teeth, he grabbed at the ground blindly until his hands clasped the crossguard of the blade, cutting his finger slightly on the enchanted butterfly sword. Rage at his enemies, the thing in his head, and predominantly himself. Ripping away the destroyed armor, he decided he didn't need it anymore. The disgusting worm in his head wouldn't let him die so a sword through the gut shouldn't matter too much. Standing, he grabbed one of the potions Talae had given him from his belt, and numbly crushed the frail bottle over his mouth and let the contents drip in. Simply using the potion caused Kisikoni's anger to flare-- once again only at himself for being so dependent. He wasn't a god damn toddler. Feeling slightly rejuvenated, he began stalking toward the front lines. The tiny shards of glass began pulling themselves out of his flesh and falling to the ground.

As he walked past the heaps of dead Civil and Paragon, he reached out and grabbed a wooden mace with iron spike bands without pause to replace his lost brother sword. Shoving his way roughly to the front lines, Kisikoni let out a battlecry as he dove headfirst into the enemies with abandon. He cut and slashed, and crushed every enemy in his way with complete disregard for strategy. Every cut, bruise, or magical wound he sustained was healed within seconds, sapping away at the deep human's reserves of flagging strength. Kisikoni didn't care, even as he continued to fight with a dagger sticking out of his side, he only had one thought running through his head: I don't want to be weak.




Mercy Yan'vega
The Paragon


Image It seemed as though the Gravewurms were endless in how many bodies they reanimated. It was very annoying to bring down one after the other, especially when she recognized some of the poor souls that were forced back into a perverted state of living. Her whip was dyed a polished red, sprays of blood flying off the tip as it screamed through the air in it's familiar circular motion. The wurms entry points often left the structural integrity of the legionnaires they possessed weak, which was very useful for simple decapitations or incapacitations done by her whip alone. Mercy was about to fall into her familiar rhythm before she was contacted by a familiar presence.

"Oh, Neira! I was looking for you!" She said happily to nobody in particular. "I was beginning to think you got assassinated. Well then, I'll see you tonight!" She immediately broke contact with the shambling undead, coating the ground in front of them with webbing. That will slow them down, at least. It looks like they were making one last hurrah for the Civil, and everybody was pulling out all the stops. Frankly, she was quite surprised that they haven't retreated or died yet, considering everything being thrown at them. "Oh bother. I hope my little brat knows what he's doing, letting them flank us from behind like this." She huffed, looking behind her every so often to make sure she wasn't about to get stabbed from behind. The Blackgards seem to be completely devoted to the offense. So the strategy was to make it to the heart of their camp before they get crushed from behind. Sometimes she had doubts on just how much of his father the boy inherited from him. Then again, there was a reason why the drunken spider and her luminous red eyes wasn't a commanding officer of the army. Not in a great sense.

With her allies rushing with her, she only whimpered and attempted to get in the rhythm of things once more.




Safir Garethson
The Children of Fire
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Though he trailed behind his fellow comrades in the fight, he didn't fight any less hard. In an attempt to catch up, the great swinging motions that lopped heads off the Civil became much more frequent and he allowed his armor to take the lesser blows. The shield remained his greatest asset, as he easily parried and blocked any heavy blow that came at him, and even with these undead soldiers and their sentient thought, they would not be able to best the armored knight in a battle, not even in a group. The sparse gouts of dragonfire he loosed would always burn the soldiers to a crisp, and in such tight quarters there was simply no escaping the rolling flames that consumed nearly everything in it's path.

However, when Safir felt the battle slow noticeably, he in turn slackened his aggressive blows. He noted that most of the attention was focused on a duel, and the battle at hand had almost become a secondary objective. Safir didn't blame them- the battle was truly a show of skill on their captain's part, and at the same time a great representative of the tenacity of the Civil in Skali's side. There was no loser here, just a dead woman and a wounded Captain. He didn't watch as Tao left the field of battle to seek a medic for his wayward arm, but rather begun his assault once more, inspired by what transpired not seconds ago. Safir learned just how much he had to learn, and there weren't enough battles in the world for him to reach the level of mastery that he saw just then, in his opinion.

"Well now, that doesn't mean that I can't try!" He roared in vicious delight as he redoubled his efforts once more, cutting swathes of enemies down with practiced motions.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Liliana Bloodleaf Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Feng Tao Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr
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The Paragon
Southern Front

Alistair Razoredge was the kind of man who used to be considered a fool among fools. A white-winged royal, he’d run away from his life as warlord and his choice of consorts to join a mercenary band. He was, despite his extensive weapons training and considerable skill, not a violent individual at heart but a peaceful one, almost a scholar, if the idea of a harpy scholar was not so ridiculous. He was also aware, and repeatedly reminded, that with the right disguise, he could easily pass for a woman, between the fine-boned features and the unusually clean snowy hair.

It had been nearly impossible to unite the scattered harpy clans into a single fighting force, much less under his own banner, and yet somehow, he’d managed to do it. The dozens of duels he’d fought with his territorial kinsmen were evident in the scars which seemed now to crosshatch his porcelain complexion, from sword-cuts to blunt wounds from maces and old burns from near-miss flame spells. He’d endured them all, and each one had been well worth it for this moment alone.

For all that he had been born and raised upon craggy cliffs over the sea, it was here that he could at last say he was coming home, for it was the people that made it so. His sharp vision picked out Sid below, and beside her Thanaros, the once-captain Wrath, and Neira the nightmarian. Another area held dear Lily, arrows flying from her bow with customary speed and accuracy, and he was certain that the surviving Shanir sister, Talae, was atop a horse, riding tandem with a man he did not recognize. He could not, unfortunately, spot Kisikoni, and he hoped his old friend was not dead.

The other half of his forces, led by a warlady called Keshiryn, would be coming up behind the lines of the Children of Fire, but from up here, it was easy to tell that the servants of the Black formed the second half of an impressive pincer maneuver, and so his orders were to prioritize the success of the attack on the Civil.

It was then that chaos needled its way into his carefully-organized lines. Were he not so well-educated, he might not have recognized gravewurms when he saw them, but as it was, he needed to control the damage. “Shamans! Burn anything infected with those wurms, including our own! Do not hesitate! We are lost the moment they infect us. Everyone else, get clear of the area! Ranged weapons only- you will not be the tools of necromancers today!”

The response was immediate: the infected parties went up in flames, those still enough in their own minds dropped their weapons to accept it. Loss was necessary, and honor to the clan more important than pain, than life-the militant nature of harpy upbringing instilled this early. The rest took to the skies, drawing bows or magic where necessary, and Alistair extracted as many of his people as he could, but there was no mistaking that many were too far away to heed his calls. Salvaging who he was able, he directed anyone still hale and whole to join the Paragon lines, leaving the rest to the command of their own captains. Warlord he might be now, but loyalty was still first and foremost to one’s own local leaders.

It was with heavy heart that he as well took wing, but there was no time to worry about the others now. If they could get out, he had to believe that they would, but he could not risk everyone else falling victim to the wurms.

Drawing his own bow, he swooped into the fray, firing and puncturing a Civil soldier right through the eye. Alighting near an old friend, he gave her a gentle smile. “Long has it been, Miss Lily,” he said by way of greeting, drawing the end of another arrow back to his cheek and releasing. “Though-” he fired- “I hear it’s Captain now.”


Neira only understood some of what was going on, but all the same, her eyes narrowed. She’d lingered behind with the general and the captain, and even now glanced between them, suspicion lighting her gaze. She would not plunder his mind for the information, but that didn’t stop her from knowing that he told the truth.

Pleading with Sid was useless, though; the halfling was a little too emotional and bullheaded for that to work. So, she tried Thanaros instead. Don’t.

I must, he replied simply, shooting the captain a glance. So he sensed what she sensed then.

Neira’s lips curled in something between a snarl and a grimace, and she glared at him for several seconds. There is no must. There is always more than one option. Always.

The half-orc gave her a sad sort of smile, and she scoffed. But he was apparently just as immovable as Sid on this point, and she grit her teeth, smoothing her face into impassivity. Fine. If it’s really what you want. Try not to die, Thanaros. He nodded sagely, and Neira heaved a sigh. Useless sentiment, that she couldn’t help but be angry with him.

Snapping off her first real salute in decades, she turned away from the two departing officers and to the general. “Come on. Five minutes isn’t long, and you and I have a lot of killing to do in between now and then.”


Talae drew in a deep breath. Nothing. At least one of her ribs was cracked, and several shallow wounds were bleeding sluggishly, but she felt nothing. A slight twinge in her side when she inhaled, but no pain. Shaking her head, she drew a red substance from her bandoleer and took out the cork of the vial with her teeth, downing the substance in a quick draught. Hypercoagulant, to slow the bleeding even further, outright stop it if she were lucky. She might feel no more pain from her wounds, but that wouldn’t stop blood loss from killing her.

Where was he? She’d lost track of the folk suffering from the unique panic Kisikoni could induce because by this point, a large number of people were panicking, and her odds of finding him now were unpleasantly low.

As if in answer to her thoughts, Salim rode up next to her, and she paused to consider his offer for only a brief second before leaping astride his horse. She nodded to his men, though not without wondering when and where he’d acquired them, and they were about to ride off when Fak’ir and Asera appeared at her side.

“We ride in your shadow, captain,” the halfling pronounced, and Asera nodded eagerly.

Talae was torn, but did not show it. “Fine. But make sure you stay in it. All of you.” The last was directed pointedly at Asera, the youngest and most impulsive member of her squad. With almost all of the fighting head-on at the moment, they wouldn’t be as much use as normal to the frontal charge, but this sort of thing was what they were trained for. Both nodded, and disappeared with a flick of Fak’ir’s wrist, pulled into his shadow magic and rendered invisible.

“Let’s go.” Salim grinned and spurred his horse forward, the ten cavalry units skirted the edges of the field, delayed only once to deal with a small group of Civil that had become separated from the main line. Fak’ir and other members of her team flickered in and out of visibility, and her heart, or what little was left of it, swelled with pride. Yes, they would be fine when she- now is not the time, Shanir. Keep your head on straight.

Within minutes, they’d reached the pocket of Death Knight resistance, the fighting here much more pitched than it was elsewhere, though Paragon soldiers were dropping like insects. An uncanny aura of foreboding hung over the area, and she reflected that Kisikoni’s more questionable abilities seemed to have amplified considerably since the last time they were on the same field.

“Thank you,” she murmured to Salim, leaping from his horse the moment she was close enough to see him. Or rather, what was left of him. The sight of the transformation was not what bothered her, though she would not hesitate to admit that she was afraid. What frightened her most, though, was that she had no idea how much of this being was even her partner anymore. Some of it had to be, though, and that was what allowed her to continue forward resolutely, pulling a smoke bomb from one of the pouches at her belt. She doubted darkness would be a problem for whatever the creature was, and she knew that deep humans were well-adapted to it. It would only be an advantage for herself and her squad, and she tossed the thing into the fray without hesitation, hefting Abel in one hand and drawing a long, serrated blade with the other.

Charging forward, she managed to get the attention of Kil, drawing him away from his rush towards Koni. Faki’ir, Asera, and Merin, an elven skirmisher with a flamberge, intercepted Ruv, the three of them moving in perfect concert, knowing that to attempt a full-on brawl with someone so heavily-armored would be a mistake for saboteurs like themselves.

Talae had no such reservations. Spinning her knife in one hand, she advanced, utterly silent but unmistakably angry.


The Children of Fire
Northern Front


Carmen inhaled sharply, the blood gushing from Tao’s arm a direct shot to her chest cavity. Running forward without the slightest heed for herself, she murmured soothing platitudes- though more for herself than he- as she examined the wound. Yes, she should be able to reattach the-

Suddenly, her oldest friend was torn from her grasp, Aesr cauterizing the wound beyond her ability to repair, and Carmen nearly wept from her new position in the dirt, where the dragon had shoved her. Tao would be forever a cripple, and she could have stopped it. Smiling darkly, in a way that sent shudders down the healer’s spine, the Captain simply nodded to Aesr and about-faced to rejoin the fray.

The dragon spread her arms wide- attend to me, for I am all that counts- and Carmen’s facial expression hardened, closing off until none of her customary gentleness or openness remained. She found, with dismay, that she hated Aesr in that moment, and one of her hands curled into a fist beneath her sleeve. Tao would only have one of those now, all because of… the cleric’s shoulders slumped. Not yet; everything was too soon, and she couldn’t ruin it. Her friends still needed her.

Carmen rose with all the dignity she could muster, brushed herself off, and stepped forward, casting silently, watching with baleful eyes as the dragon’s wounds closed up and she hissed with satisfaction, probably from the refreshed and warm feeling the magic tended to produce. Carmen’s eyes fell to the ground, and she did not move them from there until Aesr was off, back into the fight with renewed vigor, screeching her defiance at her foes.

A tiny seed of self-loathing bloomed in the healer’s breast right then, and it was all she could do not to vomit. Forgive me.


The Wraiths were wreaking havoc on the Children’s lines, but what Aesr had not realized was that the fact that her troops had been slowed with his duel and then his temporary disappearance was now proving to be an advantage. They were able to take their pick of situations, swoop in, deal heavy damage, and get out.

This was the way of things for several rounds, but at last it came time to make their final push for Nhil Darenthi’s encampment. Tao, the right side of his robe burned off when Aesr so helpfully cauterized his wound with her breath weapon, looked at once like a man worn down and one entirely unfazed. His body was battered, there was no mistaking that, but his rate had not faltered. Adjusting for the lack of an arm was unexpected, but since it was his non-dominant one anyway, it simply required more cross-blocking and a bit of balance adjustment. The first few who’d thought to kill the cripple had met slightly sloppier ends for it, but besides that, he appeared unchanged.

He was not, but the difference was less physical than mental.

Rallying the troops he had left (which was still quite he substantial number and managed to include most of the best soldiers in his division), he led the group forward, stressing that speed was of great importance. The less opportunity the Civil had to regroup or unleash the next wave of horror, the better. They were through most of the undead muck now, though there were still Wraths in the area, and the path to the Civil encampment was a straight shot, as an arrow flies.

“Hold formation, keep each other alive, and kill anything that stands in your way.” Tao’s orders were soft and curt, relayed down the line with precision. They charged, met by Civil who picked their targets carefully. One man went right for Pylarea, and another two closed on Jivven. One of these was met with the business end of a mace from the orc standing beside the darkling, but the other danced out of the way without difficulty. Daesino Alfangor was an old man, even by the standards of dark elves, but he had seen the youngling claiming to understand his art from a distance a way, and resolved to show him exactly what shadowdancing was supposed to look like before he was killed in this mad rush. Passing the art on to the enemy was better than letting it die, especially since battle was the only way to do so.

Safir and Shasarra were targeted by what appeared to be a team of slash-and-dash fighters, their speed and agility far outstripping their strength, and their cunning beating both of those traits by a hair. The four-person team were grinning like madmen as they rushed the knight and the harpy.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr
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#, as written by Arke
Kisikoni Ayalen
The Paragon


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Certainly, if the fist had been a sword, there would have been no coming back from such a blow. Regaining his balance, Kisikoni roughly grabbed his dislocated jaw, and snapped it back into place while it healed. Death Knights were something he had never heard of, but the armor they wore would certainly present the biggest problem yet in this battle. What was worse was that they were trapped, the Knights had the small unit of Paragon surrounded. To top it all off, Kisikoni was granted the pleasure of fighting three at once. It was impossible, not even with this unnatural regeneration and strength could he fight three large, armored opponents and hope to come out on top. Staring at the largest, Hul, he merely only readied himself for his fate, attempting to imagine all the possibilities to even stand a chance. Nothing, he could barely think in his bitter bloodrage, and could only see his body being cut to pieces. He readied himself for the first titanic blow, ripping another small bottle from his belt and downing the contents as the knights reached within range.

The sky, which had rapidly begun to lighten due to the dissipation of the dark mist suddenly became dull again as smoke covered the area. The Death Knights paused in their lumbering stride briefly, just as surprised as he was. However, that didn't stop them from raising their blades. It was only a flash of movement, but his heightened senses caught it. Reinforcements? At this grim time? Kisikoni was scarce for coherent thought as a couple of figures joined the fray out of his peripherals, taking on Kil and Ruv before he could. It didn't take long before his flayed brain could recognize his saviors. It was the best, and worse realization he had today.

Talae had returned from her mission. Assisted by her group of assassins, she staved off the biggest problem the deep human had- watching his flanks. Seeing her alive, well, and willing to take on a Death Knight made him happy, but at the same time dread that she may fail loomed on his mind. He didn't know how exhausted she was from her duties, but now he was forced to trust her, as she always did him as he turned away from her to look at Hul. He had finally closed the distance, and raised his large sword for a crushing blow. Catching up could be put on hold, this could not.

Side-stepping the overhand chop, he rushed in and attempted to test the armor the Death Knight wore against his strength and sword. The sword screeched as it skated off the chestplate, but the Death Knight did not react toward the blow, pushing forward and shoving the Deep Human away with his weight. Stumbling back, he regained his balance at the last moment, using his mace to meet the horizontal cut. The force of the blow was enormous, causing the Deep Human's wrist to shatter and the mace to fall from his hands. Resisting the urge to stop everything and screech in the following explosion of pain, he only congratulated himself that he managed to stop the blow. Even as his wrist slowly reformed, the Deep Human continued to exchange blows with the knight, this time with Kisikoni parrying or outright dodging the moves. It didn't allow him to close the distance as much as he'd like, but it was better than getting completely bisected. However, the drain on his strength was adding up, and Kisikoni could feel his vision blurring at certain points. He needed to end it, and end it all. If not, he was going to die.

Your pitiful performance was starting to grate on me anyways. It sneered, halting the regeneration of his wrist as his arm took on a strange, grey hue. I hoped to save this for when your body could take it, but it does appear this war won't be progressing any slower.

Kisikoni couldn't respond, only twist in shock as his arm began to flex and snap like a banner in the wind. The bones seemed to liquefy as Kisikoni stopped questioning what other unholy tricks it had up it's sleeve, and used it to attack. The snapping tentacle-like arm whipped forward, attempting to punch straight through the chain mail that protected Hul's neck.




Mercy Yan'vega
The Paragon


Image All this running was beginning to irritate Mercy greatly. This was certainly dragging on more than she had dared suspect, and her reserves of webbing were running low. Her whip and claw were continually darkening with blood, cutting their way through the Civil with an almost monotonous feel to it all. That was the most dangerous part of the battle- once it starts becoming the same, the surprises always hit the hardest. It all came to the thundering last stretch, as she finished off another Civil soldier the defensive line finally parted. Blinking her luminous red eyes, she listened and heard the call of her general, Wrath Liu-Wen to charge and risk becoming surrounded- much like what was happening BEFORE this tumultuous event. However, it was then that the sky contained the presence of not the Whites, Reds, and Blacks, but the harpies en masse. They had finally dared show their plumage, but luckily it was right where they needed it the most, cleaning out the back lines that threatened to destroy them from the rear. Unfortunately, this intervention caused many to deviate from the General's orders.

She may have fallen back as well to assist the Harpies in cleaning up the gravewurm menace, but at this point the battle in front was vastly more important. She didn't know the reason behind her boy's incredibly irrational tactical decisions, and she did intend to find out after this damnable battle. Undead, Vampies, even the wails of what may have been banshees a good distance away. Nhil of the Civil had not held back in his offensive-defense. Licking her lips, she seized a nightmarian Paragon soldier as he rushed back to assist the Harpies. Recognizing him, she roughly turned him to face the Nightmarian Spider. "Jack, you wouldn't go back on your orders and leave me behind, would you?"

"I, uh, what?" Was his confused reply, but his determination quickly crumbled under the peevish gaze of her red eyes. "Right. General's orders." He mumbled inaudibly, following the Spider back to charge the Civil camp.

After much running, she was surprised to see Wrath in the middle of his troops, instead of leading the charge against the deranged necromancer. She remembered hearing from a war cry that Miralight may have been killed. A damn shame that was, she was a nice girl. However, that was not the reason she managed to sidle up to the saddened General and grab him from the side as he ran. Planting a big kiss on his cheek, she released him soon after for him to take a seat on her abdomen so he could regain his momentum from there. "Dear, now is not the time for your melodramatic shenanigans." She admonished, raising a finger to wag as the soldiers in front of her cleared the way. She really wasn't sure if there were any shenanigans to begin with, but they needed a strong general to lead this crazy attack, and she saw quite the opposite when she laid eyes on him.




Safir Garethson
The Children of Fire
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In the heat of battle, Safir lost sight of all his comrades. Pylarea had been somewhere to his far left, Jivven had only moments ago flicked past his vision, sinking his blades into the neck of an enemy before dancing away. Carmen and Tao were back healing, Dresinil had been killed, much to his sorrow. The elven beserker had been Safir's first comrade in the Children's recruits. His subconscious grieving was cut off as wraiths were summoned by the necromancers to aid the crumbling Civil defensive line. Their sudden appearance and what they did surprised Safir to the point where he nearly retreated with his comrades, unable to figure out a way to deal with them. The wraiths were doing many things- cutting the soul with their vicious strikes, and raising the dead to fight for their cause. They were huge- the size of monsters unheard of where he lived.

His indecision to run was broken when a group of children blasted one of the ghostly soul-spirits into oblivion with a concentrated blast of dragonfire. Safir readied his own gout of fire, but the corpses continued to shudder and return to life a mindless revenants. Safir hacked his way through two of his comrades in desperation, trying to figure out some way to defeat this new foe. Aesr certainly would not enjoy it if her units routed, and Tao's wrath seemed much less of a threat compared to the black dragon's. Raising his shield instinctively as one of the soul-wraiths swung at him, he was surprised when he didn't feel some sort of internal coldness overtake him. He opened his eyes, realized he had squeezed them shut in fear of the blow and saw his mother's enchanted kite shield glowing as it repelled the attack with powerful vigor. Safir fervently thanked whatever muse that was responsible for his mother's inspirational shield enchantments. Feeling confidence rise up in him once more, he threw himself at the soul wraith, cloaking his sword in fire and landing a couple blows against the gigantic wraith. His kite shield repelled all the undead's soul attacks. His adrenaline faded as he felled the wraith, the last of it's ethereal energy fading into the sky. Safir realized now that the kite shield had absorbed quite a lot of his strength, and he very nearly collapsed from the sudden weakness in his legs. He looked toward the thirteen other wraiths scattered across Children lines, and decided that he wasn't strong enough to take it.

Shasarra was near him when he finally noticed several fighters surrounded them. Panting heavily, he watched them dance around the two eagerly, wielding their short weapons. Malice and cunning flashed in their eyes as they rushed Safir. The knight soon realized as the fighters attacked at the weak points in his armor that they were too smart for their own good. His armor had small weak points, but as long as they attacked them, Safir had a good idea of where they were going to attack. And that made them predictable, even if they were masters of cunning. However, taking on two or more at once was a big problem. As he cut at one, another attacked his open knee joints. As he attacked the other, the first would strike at his exposed neck. It infuriated Safir, whose movements are already sluggish and slow due to his fight with the wraith.

"Shasarra. You still alive?" The knight called, his breathing ragged and his vision focused solely on the two grinning fighters he faced.

The harpy replied with an enraged screech as her dirk missed it's mark once more and she was forced on the defensive, her buckler taking several blows before her pair backed off to eye her warily.

"Need to work together." The knight said once carefully. The harpy could hardly believe she had to deign to work with a human. A male human. However, if they didn't they'd eventually be worn down and skinned alive by the malicious team of fighters. She grunted in grudging affirmation. Casting a brief glance behind her, she watched the human parry one skirmisher's strike, and saw the other moving in on the knight's flank. Striking like a whip, the harpy's dagger flitted out in an attempt to intercept the second skirmisher while Safir turned in almost perfect synchronization to bash one of Shasarra's opponents with his shield.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Blackguard and Aesr characters Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Liliana Bloodleaf Character Portrait: Pylarea Character Portrait: Kisikoni Ayalen Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson Character Portrait: Feng Tao Character Portrait: Jivven Noda'Razzr
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The Children of Fire
Northern Lines


“My name is Daesino Alfangor, and my family invented your art. I have been a master since before you were a thought in your mother’s head, youngling.” The tones of the return greeting were far from accusatory or arrogant; indeed, there seemed almost to be a wistful sadness in them. I am also old, older than I should be, and ready to leave this world. Still, the last Alfangor could not slough off his mortal coil without knowing for certain that at last one remained who knew his techniques truly. If this child were to have that knowledge, that intuitive understanding of shadow that could not be taught, then Daesino would be only too happy to fall by his hand.

Still, there were a few things he could impart first, in the only way he’d been taught: in blood-lines, scored into flesh, reminders of every errant folly. He was covered in innumerable small scars, as would this young Noda’Razzr be, if he was worthy of them.

Jivven’s first swing met with only empty air, Daesino flowing away from it as though he’ known exactly where it would be. Flickering, the dark elf seemed to vanish from sight, the only mark of his passage a new, light nick on his opponent’s spear arm. Perhaps surprisingly, he did not press his advantage or try to cut any deeper.

“Again, only as though you mean it this time.”



Shasarra’s last throwing dagger buried itself in the arm of the encroaching skirmisher, and the one opposite him fell under the weight of Safir’s shield-bash, her nose shattered and blood pooling in her mouth. Spitting it, she tried to recover and scramble to her feet, but a heavy blow from a mace caved her skull in, and she crumpled like a week-dead leaf underfoot.

Gorthax grimaced appreciatively, nodding to Safir, Shasarra, and Vortigern, who, approaching from the other end, had finished off the harpy’s opponent with a savage grin and a swift axe-blow to the back. “We’re forgin’ ahead,” the too-tall elf volunteered, “but we’re supposed ta stay well clear o’ that.” He pointed to where the lich was unleashing its fel magic over wide swaths of Children less pragmatic than they. “Orders are to make a push for the camp, as soon as we can.”

That, of course, would be easier said than done. With the lich making a chaotic mess of the field, getting around it would mean walking into a pocket of Civil resistance fortified by the late-game appearance of a creature from draconian legend. Indeed, even as the group turned to meet their oncoming assailants, a fair mix of magi and elite physical combatants, there was no mistaking that these were not mindless undead or frightened rookies. Many of them were once members of Nhil’s personal honor guard alongside Daesino, though in his state he had precious little use for them anymore, and now they marched to battle like the rest.

“Come on, ladies and gents, let’s get while the gettin’s still good!” Vortigern at least seemed unfazed by the caliber of their new opponents, focused only on the next move, the next breath and swing and strike, and making it to their destination.



The man without a right arm soon found himself in the rather interesting company of a semicircle of magi, dodging spells with a rare alacrity that presented itself as careless abandon. At his back, the red-robed cleric shot off spells of her own, eying the lich with the air of someone driven quite nearly to distraction.

It felt so wrong to her every sense, but her loyalty was to these people here, and she would not allow herself to fail them any worse than she already had. A hand gesture forced holy magic into the very pores of the nearest magician, and the light seared him from the inside out, as though rending his soul before his body. Their advance had slowed, too slow now for comfort, but at the very least the lich had not reached them, and she would ensure that it did not, even if it managed to work through the swarms of Children that rushed it now.

Slow their progress might be, she reflected as Tao sliced through the last mage, but it was still inexorable. She had faith, real faith, that her friends were strong enough to make it, and she could not help but feel that the emphasis the captain always placed on supporting each other in his orders and his strategies was the right one. She had known groups of Children unable to take advantage of the bonds their initiations created, who were still competitive and individualistic even when they were supposed to be working together.

But not them. Not this squad. She could not bring herself to call them the Aesr, for the hatchling had nothing to do with it. They were many, and they were mightier than the sum of their parts. Somehow, she knew with certainty that only this would save them, in the end.



Thereafter, Captain Tao took his first step within the bounds of the Civil camp, and his squad with him. They had reached their goal, and now all that remained was to see what awaited them there.



The Paragon
Southern Lines

Alistair chuckled as he slung his bow over his back, donating half his remaining white-fletched arrows to Lily’s quiver in a smooth motion. The other ten, he kept simply to ensure that he would not be caught flat-footed at any time during the battle, but his true skill had always been with polearms, and his wickedly-pronged trident was in his hand momentarily, a wide arcing swing tearing a Civil soldier from navel to sternum, leather armor entirely notwithstanding.

“I am ever and always just Alistair to my friends. Rest assured that I wouldn’t miss it for The Gift itself,” he replied sagely, rotating his body and plunging the spear into the next woman’s neck.

It was then that the call came for the Blackguard to form up near Wrath, and for the barest of seconds, Alistair hesitated, looking to the sky. His kith and kin were being devastated by what appeared to be a siege weapon, fueled by unholy magic. He knew with grim certainty that there was nothing he could do for them, though each life snuffed was another weight on his shoulders. But, if Wrath and his legion could reach the camp, than their deaths would not be for nothing, and those that remained could be saved.

Alistair was in the air again like a shot, joining the formation and standing beside his old comrades once more. Time away from them had only made their continued fight more imperative in his eyes. Not all of his people agreed, and many were more inclined towards the elusive forces of the Savage.

He would show them that they were wrong.



Neira stifled a full-throated laugh at the spectacle of Wrath being treated entirely like a child by his mother, cracking a rare smile and waving at Mercy as the spider took off. Neira flanked the both of them, and it was not long before they and a few others managed to break free of the fighting and head into the camp.

Her consciousness alighted upon something most strange, then- a mind made like water or slick glass, one that she would not be able to manipulate without significant effort, if then. At first he wondered if this was Nhil, but the vampire she’d tagged, Gertz, was nowhere in his vicinity. Instead, she sensed that there were dozens of soldiers at his back, and at least one psychic.

“The Children have reached the edge of the camp,” she warned, even as the white-winged harpy arrived, a figure familiar to her as one of the few decent sparring partners she’d had back before her promotion. They were soon joined by three others, including Shanir and Ayalen, but she paid them small heed as they continued their march for Nhil’s tent, through the strangely-empty camp. Oh hell. This is going to go badly, isn’t it?



“I abandoned any notion of honor long ago, and the only sovereigns who hold my loyalty are the people I care for,” Talae replied to the Death Knight, uninterested in his hangups or his prejudice. Men who would be still corpses clung to all manner of foolish things, she knew that.

Before she could strike, Salim stepped in, and her tongue was halfway to forming the words of a harsh rebuke when he was struck, and they left her in a muted hiss. Before she could properly formulate a reaction to the new circumstances, she as pulled into a circle of teleportation, and attempted to hold onto her last meal as she, Koni, and Asera were pulled through time-space and deposited, rather unceremoniously, somewhere a short distance behind Wrath and the small squad he now led toward the center of the Civil encampment. Salim was not present, and she gritted her teeth, shaking her head and pulling herself to her feet-

-and finding herself in Kisikoni’s grip. Was the fact that she could actually feel that, feel the hands about her upper arms, psychosomatic? It hardly mattered, but the realization left her unable to properly formulate any kind of response. Then he kissed her, and Talae’s hands gently cupped either side of his face, and how she wished that were enough. She caught his wrist as he turned, and her words were nearly whispered. She had been keeping two very important things from him, but at least one of them was secret no longer.

“I… I love you too. Stay alive, Koni, please. Stay you, regardless of what your body becomes.” The other thing would have to wait, assuming they both came out of this alive. “I couldn’t bear to lose you as well.” And there it was, her greatest fear laid bare: that everything she ever loved would be torn from her in the same violent manner. Her parents, her best friend and erstwhile teacher Caine, her sister Fae. Talae had always tried to be realistic about what she could achieve and what she could not, and she knew with fatalistic certainty that she would not be able to withstand the weight of another loss. Especially not him.

The dark elf's lips tilted in a small, sad smile, and she released him, taking up her weapons and gesturing for Asera to follow her once more into the shadows of the battle, striking the few foes that thought to flank the main party as they progressed inexorably towards whatever awaited them at the center.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Important Characters of Norr Character Portrait: Neira Valtegan Character Portrait: Mercy Yan'vega Character Portrait: Safir Garethson
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Mercy Yan'vega
The Paragon


Image Wrath shot off again, eager as he was. Mercy could only follow closely behind, taking care of lesser infantry that tried to attack from behind. Cracking the whip to release it from the blood that coated the weapon, she caught Neira's friendly gesture and returned it in kind with a blown kiss. There was not much to do at this point, but as they got closer and closer to Nhil's tent, Mercy became more and more eager. She could finally give that necromancer the punch he deserved after rigging the portal in the poorest of ways. A pity she could not eat him, necromancers would probably taste so vile with all that necrotic magic running through their flesh. It would be akin to feasting on week-old meat left in the sun. Mercy shuddered at the thought, a punch would have to do.

The tents were rather cramped, so she was thankful the pathways widened as they drew closer to luxury and rank. She had caught up with Wrath, falling in behind himself and Neira. The rest of the Paragon that could be spared joined, though it wasn't much. She considered the battle briefly, and was surprised that they even survived against these terrible odds. That was her boy for you. Neira piped in suddenly, Children, huh? The situation just became much more interesting. Would they help? Would they attack? Sadly, all of this was outside of the Nightmarian's control as her voluminous red eyes blinked lazily at the piece of news.

"Well, dear, there's nothing we can do about that." She said, getting the obvious out there before anybody would start sweating. "Can't we just get this over with? I'm long overdue for a drink."




Safir Garethson
The Children of Fire
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It was quite sudden when two more allies stepped in to assist Safir and Shasarra. For the briefest of moments, he mistook Gorthax for Dresinil, and felt a quick pang of sadness. Shaking his head, he berated himself hastily for assuming Dresinil was unique in being an elvish beserker. Vortigern seemed unfazed by the turn of events, and Safir quickly believed that he had reached a state of serenity that some soldiers achieved during battle. Hesitant as he was to follow him so carelessly, he nevertheless did it anyways as there was little for him to do back at his previous location. Safir could feel an ominous pressure, an unearthly magical aura that his shield reacted against by emitting a faint glow. There was something on this battlefield so strong in magical power that it caused the anti-magic enchantments on his shield to react. Safir couldn't think of anybody except for perhaps the leader of the Civil, but if that was the case his shield should have been reacting the entire time. He then realized that Carmen was gone from his field of vision, and in his worry, looked around to try to get a glimpse of her. As he caught up with Tao, he caught her a distance away dueling with a very disheveled and cloaked being that he had never seen before. Mouthing a wish for good luck, he entered the Civil camp along with Tao.

Before they could take another step, they were confronted by a group of soldiers. Standing as calm as they were, the knight knew that these were no pushovers. In fact, their varying statures and level of confidence as they stared down the Children suggested that they were the best the Civil had to offer. Safir considered that, and wondered why he would keep his best units defending the tents, unless there was something going on.

A young-looking halfling with dyed cyan hair hopped forward, smiling at Safir in a way that was rather cute. He almost smiled back from behind his visor before he realized that such a halfling was part of the Civil, and children were not drafted into their ranks while living. The tent behind the halfling suddenly exploded, revealing a gigantic automaton dressed sharply in the same black fur robes the girl was. With two lumbering strides, the golem stood easily at twice the Knight's size. Safir snapped out of his awestruck trance just in time to react to the swinging fist that the golem attacked with, knocking the Knight from the main group of Children and into a slightly more quiet spot. It was quite lucky he had the dragonblood blessing, otherwise that fist would have broken all the bones in his body and liquefied all his organs into an unsightly mush. Picking himself up from the wreckage of a tent he smashed into, he rose just in time to see the halfling bounce merrily over with her construct.

"Hello! I'm Ursula, a Civil Artifizzer!" She greeted.

Safir raised a bemused eyebrow. "Safir, Knight of the Children" He replied in turn, bowing slightly. The halfling giggled.

"You're inside our private camp, Sa-fear! Nhil tells me to keep guys like you out! Won't you leave?"

"Sorry, I can't do that."

"Oh, what a shame. Looks like I'll have to make you get out!"

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With a mighty motion, the golem raised a hand and a beam of light flickered into existence. Hurling the magical bolt at Safir, the knight raised his shield and watched as the bolt cracked and dissipated against it. The halfling's eyes widened, obviously very interested in the knight's shield, and tossed a couple more bolts in experimentation. Safir could only react quick enough to block the next few bolts, the force of the magic sending him staggering each time. After the third time, Ursula decided it wasn't working and decided to go for a physical approach. Gathering magic into her legs, she used it to propel herself up onto the shoulder of the golem, latching herself on and directing the giant toward the Knight as he braced himself. The fist would be deadly once it started racking up hits- plate armor was no protection against blunt force objects. Ducking under the hard right haymaker, Safir tested the Golem by slashing at it with his sword. With a screech, the steel protested as it grated against the hard armor of the artificer's machine. Ursula giggled at the Knight's efforts, and threw both her hands up. A sudden explosion of magic coming from runes on the golem's legs sent Safir tumbling back, damaging some of the joints on his armor. Cursing, Safir rolled to his feet and backpedaled desperately to avoid another powerful haymaker, realizing that his movement was now slightly limited with the damaged armor. While Safir was built and augmented to be a tank, his armor was not. Not compared to this monstrosity. Awkwardly sidestepping an overhand strike that shook the ground once it hit, Safir lit his sword with dragonfire, sending it roaring toward the mighty automaton.

Ursula spread her arms out to both sides, and a rune on the chest of the golem expanded outward, providing a barrier. The dragonfire easily burned through the weak shield, but what go through was not enough to damage the artificer nor her construct. Another fist, and Safir was sent crashing through another tent, heavily bruising his sword arm. He noted with dull interest that his helmet had dented enough that he could feel a portion of the metal resting against his head. he realized that the armor had saved him from getting his skull crushed by a metal object. pushing himself to his feet, he dragged himself clear of the wreckage just as another fist pummeled what remained of the tent to pieces. It seemed as though Ursula's definition of exit was death, which was technically correct in a very morbid way.

"You aren't much fun for somebody who managed to get into our camp." the alchemic artificer whined, loosing a bolt of magic that Safir instinctively deflected with a lazy swing of his shield. Struggling to his feet, Safir realized that the sword he got from the Children's arsenal had been bent beyond use, and was chipped heavily. Tossing it, Safir had to go at his opponent now with naught but his fists, fire and shield. Fighting the urge to simply fall unconscious from the heavy beating he took, he focused and attempted to think of a strategy. Barely dodging another swing by desperately stumbling out of the way, he threw himself under a straight jab that caused the dust to rise some feet as it struck the dirt. Under the golem once more, the Halfling raised her arms, but Safir raised his shield and dug in as the explosion of magic was absorbed by the shield. Raising his hand, he gathered a globule of dragonfire, and blasted it under the Golem, the rising flames overtaking the giant machine before the halfling to activate it's barrier. Safir heard Ursula's sustained screams as she too was burned, and rushed to get out of the way as the automaton became inert and crashed to the ground.

Picking himself off the ground, he clumsily moved toward the wreckage. Limited by his broken armor he was trapped in, he found the artificer. While not dead, she didn't look healthy in the slightest. The symbols on her arm must have been alchemical circles themselves, as most of her body escaped the terrible burns, but the left side of her face and arm were heavily razed by the flame. While it wasn't proper, he did feel sorry for the halfling. Perhaps it was why she was chosen. Her power, but also her appearance. Even so, Safir could not bear to just leave her in such a sorry state. The dragonfire was magical in property, so as a gamble, he pressed the shield up against the artificer's unconscious body. He felt his waning strength decrease again, and knew that the nasty magical burns were now just burns. He felt around for the satchel of medical supplies he carried around. Strange he still did, when he had Carmen and the likes healing. He quickly performed some first-aid, being careful to be thorough about it as well. He knew that this act of kindness could very well bite him in the ass, but now that he was in the situation, he couldn't help but do it anyways. With the wounds sterilized and bandaged, he stood up. Picking around the wrecked battlefield the Artificer had wrought, he found a longsword that was in as good a condition as he could hope for. Though he was loath to discard of his current sheath, the longsword he scavenged was too, well, long for the case, and he had to pick up the accompanying leather case the sword came with.

With that, he limped toward the direction of the main group, hoping that his comrades were more successful with their opponents than he was.