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Ima Creslade

"He who sticks up most will be cut down first. What foolishness..."

0 · 515 views · located in The Dying Land

a character in “The Lost Lands”, as played by slcam

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Age:
20


Gender:
Female


Occupation/Class:
Thief/rogue


Kingdom of Origin:
Lusk by birth, Aressa by choice


Nicknames/Aliases:
'Ima the Wisp' to her contacts, the 'Cloaked Woman' or 'Hooded Thief' to the authorities until they discovered her identity.


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Height/Weight:
5'1 and 103 pounds


Eye color:
Golden brown


Hair color:
A deep russet with darker undertones.


Description: Out of a need to remain largely unrecognizable, Ima has become accustomed to concealing her features under hoods and cloaks. She is rarely seen without some covering that serves to conceal her form. Even so, her fragile build and small frame give her an unimposing air, reinforced by the soundless way she moves. Her goal has long been to leave no lasting impression of her presence, and she usually succeeds. It is easy to forget that the small, silent figure is there, and she encourages this whenever convenient.

Still, she is not as meek and reserved as initial appearance would suggest. Her topaz eyes often flash with annoyance, her mouth pulled into a tight frown, presenting a cynical air to the world at large. Though she is skilled at schooling herself to a neutral expression, she cannot help the brief flashes that reveal her true thoughts. Her features are bird-like, thin, narrow, and delicate. Slim brows rest over deep set eyes, easily pulling down into a disapproving scowl or look of concentration. Her long, thin nose leads down to wide, bowed lips that rarely deviate from a stubbornly straight line.

There is normally an underlying tension to the way she holds herself, making it clear that she is ready to spring into action at the slightest trigger. She moves with a confident grace that makes every step seem intentional. Still, Ima's body language tends toward ambiguity, leaving precious few clues toward her thoughts unless one catches a glimpse of her eyes at the right moment.

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She tends to take up little space, her movements light and quick, until she becomes either irritated or comfortable. In the case of the former, there will be more emphasis and rigidity to her movements, with a subtle widening of her stance and straightening of her shoulders. These small adjustments give her a more confident air, making her seem slightly less delicate and more threatening. In the case of the latter, she will seem less tense, more likely to take up space with her movements and sprawl when sitting, though the wariness never entirely drains away. Tight lips relax to a more amused quirk at the corners, and a restless curiosity becomes apparent. Still, there are few she has ever been truly comfortable around, and that is unlikely to change.

Equipment: As far as clothing, Ima tends to favor items in dark greys or neutral earth tones that allow her to blend into a variety of environments. From long sleeved, hooded shirts to trousers and boots, everything is tight enough to prevent it getting caught or tangled, yet loose and comfortable enough to allow a wide range of movement. She wears dark, supple gloves, preferring to conceal as much as she can in order to blend into her surroundings. She will sometimes wear a mask of thin, elastic material over her nose and mouth, but normally leaves it down around her throat unless trying to conceal her identity. What armor she has is light, taking as little away from her speed and agility as possible. It is reinforced over vital areas with thicker leather and thin metal studding, meant to deflect or hamper blows rather than directly absorb them. Still, protection is lacking over joints and areas that require movement, leaving many weak areas for those quick enough to take advantage.

Her weapons and tools are mostly small, scattered discretely in hidden sheaths and pockets about her form. She has more than a dozen thin throwing knives concealed at her wrists, waist, the small of her back, and the top of her boots, allowing her access to a weapon from a wide range of positions. She has a couple longer daggers, mostly used for utility, and a long, sturdy dirk that she keeps in a sheath at her shoulder. Its handle is easily accessible, protruding slightly over her left shoulder. Her lockpicks and other tools of her trade are usually kept in pouches at her belt.

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Personality: Ima is a woman who much prefers action to mere words. It is what she does that says the most about her. Those things she deems necessary, she will do without hesitation. On the other hand, if there is something she does not think will be fruitful, she will become rather mulish and difficult about it. She would rather be blunt and efficient, but is able to use tact when and if she sees the benefit. She has some skill at manipulating people and situations equally to get what she needs. Still, in everything she does, she is more subtle than dramatic. Her words and actions are often understated and reserved, no matter her aim. Never one to be in the spotlight, she can easily seem cold and aloof, which is rather suited to her occupation. After all, a loud thief does not last long. Theatrics tend to annoy her, though being around someone she deems obnoxious at least makes it easier for her to blend into the background.

Ima has a rather dry, caustic sense of humor. Though she is content to be a silent observer to whatever happens, there is often a wry twist to her lips. There is little she enjoys more than witty banter. Though her teasing can make it seem as though she is taking down to people, if she likes them it will tend to grow more affectionate. If not, she does not mind cutting someone's ego down to size. In most situations, she usually has no issue with speaking her mind, and it is rare that she will stand down when she wishes her opinions to be known. It is easy to tell when she is irritated or wary when she starts to clam up. Her replies become more harsh and terse, making her tension clear. Her anger is cold rather than passionate, and it does not take much to lose her respect.

As rational as she may appear and as much as she tends to mock others for acting foolishly, Ima is a woman with definite superstitions. From always pulling her left glove on first to looking to the sky whenever silence falls to leaving one object of value untouched on each job, she has many small quirks that usually remain unnoticed. She follows them religiously, and will only give a scoff in reply if any call her actions into question.


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ImageIn general, Ima is rather selfish and will choose to act in her own interest, even to the detriment of others. Her 'loyalty' can be rather fleeting since it is dependent entirely on what will best benefit her goals long term. Still, she is rather patient and far-sighted when it comes to her ambitions, and she would rather not drop a prospective ally unless she is sure they will be a detriment long term, or if she discerns that they mean her harm. Nothing turns her colder than the possibility of betrayal.

If she respects someone, or needs them, she may give them a chance to explain or regain her trust. If not, she would just as soon leave them to the wolves, even literally. She has no issue with taking drastic action to eliminate obstacles, though she is less likely to commit murder than simply to leave someone in a tight situation. This sort of revenge appeals well to her sense of justice, as it leaves judgment up to Luck, which is, consequently, the only deity she follows.

Skills:
  • Stealth
  • Pickpocketing
  • Knife throwing
  • Lockpicking
  • Close combat
  • Very simple trapping
    skills
Weaknesses:
  • Her sister
  • Low damage attacks
  • Light armor
  • "Does not play well with others"
  • Very little strength
  • Has rarely been away from
    civilization

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Fatal Flaw:
Ima relies very heavily on the element of surprise to give weight to her attacks. When stealth is no longer an option, all she can hope for is to find some weakness to exploit before she tires too much to continue fighting.

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Born in the wide, desolate coastland of Lusk, just north of the mountainous land of Yulia, Ima already had few prospects. She never knew her father, just as her younger, half-sister never knew hers, since their mother was a prostitute. In a land where the aristocracy threw lavish parties while the commoners starved, simply surviving was a struggle. From the time Ima could run, she took to thieving, as did most children living in the slums. The city guards rarely cared unless the rabble wandered into more prosperous sections of the city. She was raised in abject poverty, yet never knew anything different.
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Since children tended to go missing in Lusk, especially girls, Ima spent most of her childhood passing as a boy. Her mother kept her her in breeches and cut her dark hair ragged and short. Since the active girl could hardly be isolated, it was the best her mother could do for her. From necessity, Ima grew to be cunning and street smart at a young age, developing quick hands and quicker feet. The tiny, dark haired girl became adept at blending into the background, though she was only one of many skilful thieves in the city.

Her small successes often meant the difference between dangerous scarcity and having enough to get through, especially when her sister was born six years later. Little Esra inherited her mother's grey-blue eyes, along with fair hair. It was a combination that would always mark the child out as little more than slaver's meat in the impoverished slums. Their mother was careful to keep the child isolated as possible, and Esra never grew out of her timidity and frail health. Ima began taking bigger risks out of pure need. She was forced to think on her feet, to determine whether the outcome was worth the danger, and to learn well the first time, since any mistake could be fatal. Still, she was soon able to defend herself well, both with her wit and with weapons.

When Ima was only eleven, a dreadful famine swept through Lusk. Though displaced farmers swarmed to the cities, within a year, fishing also began to fail. It was a time of more desperation, violence, and riots than Ima had ever known. Even much of the nobility found themselves far in debt and overextended. More than one unfortunate lord found himself a mere scapegoat to the very rabble he had so carefully ignored. The country was disintegrating rapidly, and Ima's efforts yielded less and less reward.

Suddenly, Ima's unstable world was shattered. Her mother was stabbed for a couple concealed coins one day when she went to what was left of the market. By the time Ima found her, she had been bleeding out for some time, beneath the notice of all but the shopkeeper who had dragged her out of the way of his scanty business. Ima was able to get her mother home and tend her, but it made little difference. She did not last the hour, much less the night. With that, Ima and Esra were ejected from the only home they knew, even if that home was a brothel.

There was no future left for them in Lusk, and no hope. They became refugees and traveled slowly southward, their pace hampered by Esra's ill health. The weather remained damp and chilled, and it was not long before the frail girl took a turn for the worse. Ima was coming to the end of her wits, sure she would lose the only family she had left. Their fortunes turned when a wizened old trapper found Ima trying to steal from one of his snares. Though the man was pitiless at first, something about Ima's manner and stubbornness caused him to have a change of heart.

Though Ima was wary of the man, she had no other options. They sheltered in a small hunting cabin. With the slightly improved diet of the creatures the trapper caught, Esra gradually pulled through. Though Ima tended to stay close to her sister, she learned small tidbits from the man, mostly through observation. The weeks passed and Esra regained her strength. When she was ready, she and Ima slipped away in the night. Ima was not big on farewells, though at Esra's insistence, they left a couple tokens of gratitude: a bouquet of wildflowers, and a carved bear emblem on a thin leather cord.
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They soon entered Yulia, but the strict codes and stricter enforcement made it difficult to blend in, especially for two foreign girls still learning the language. Even with Ima's high level of care, she was nearly caught more than once. They once again moved on, stealing tidbits to survive and narrowly avoiding trouble where possible. Pradus, already conquered, presented similar problems to Yulia. Even more so since many of the citizens had been forced into near slavery and had little worth stealing. Miriand was only marginally better, with plenty of the nervous, superstitious, and distractible folk that Ima could easily pickpocket. However, within a year of their arrival, Miriand came under attack by Yulia. As it was obvious the nation would not hold out long, Ima and Esra once again became refugees, fleeing to Aressa.

In the capital city, Ima found a more ideal environment for her trade, and enough of the well-to-do to prey upon. She was able to blend well into the less reputable society of the city. After some time, Ima's skills and stubbornness were recognized, and she was able to find a mentor of sorts in a man known as Hox. She shifted from simple street cons and pickpocketing to burglary and lockpicking. Her ability to learn fast soon proved vital, since Hox's teaching methods often involved leaving her to figure a way out of messy situations.

The years passed, and Aressa held out a long while against the threat of Yulia's conquest. Even when Yulia managed to disrupt the monarchy and take hold, little changed in Ima's day to day life except for an increased caution about appearances. Still, as time went on, Esra's condition worsened. She needed expensive medicines that Ima could hardly afford with her best hauls, medicines that were past her skills to steal. As Esra's need became more desperate, Ima had to reach higher, and that became her downfall.


Her final target was a noble, Lord Beauford, who was popular among the people as well as moderately wealthy. Though he was a noble of Aressa who had capitulated to Yulian rule, he still had more covert dealings, especially with the resistance movements and the black market. It was through this that Hox heard of the man and some of his acquisitions, and he recommended that Ima target the noble. She was hesitant about the job, but too desperate to turn it down. Though it was a near thing, Ima managed to get out with plenty to take care of Esra even after Hox got his cut.

ImageHowever, when she arrived at she and Esra's room, she knew something was off. Their landlady's home itself was uncharacteristically quiet. The door creaked open to reveal a darkened room, with Esra nowhere in sight. Ignoring her better instincts, Ima crept into the room, hardly believing her sister would disappear. Suddenly, a candle flickered into light, along with the taunting voice of an Inquisitor. "Well, well, if it isn't Lord Beauford's assassin."

Ima hesitated only a moment before she lunged across the room, breaking through the thin glass of the window and landing on the adjoining roof. She dropped into the alleyway, but her progress was halted by the waiting guardsmen who stilled the struggling girl with a solid blow to the back of her head. She awoke in a prison cell. Ima was framed for Lord Beauford's murder and sentenced to execution. In one move, the Inquisition had taken out a popular leader while avoiding riots from those who followed him, able to pin the murder on a burglar who was proven without a doubt to have been there the night the lord had been assassinated. Ima was set up knowingly by her mentor, betrayed by the very man who had taught her for years.

She was, of course, offered an alternative: to enter the walled lands and bring back a secret of magic. In return, her sister would be taken care of and they would be freed. Esra, of course, would remain little better than a prisoner until Ima succeeded, leaving her with an uncertain time limit. Knowing her sister's very life was at stake, Ima accepted without hesitation.



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Other: As mentioned before, Ima is a follower of Vicis, better known as the Goddess of Luck, The Lady, or most simply, Fate. She came into this 'piety' courtesy of her mentor, Hox. This belief is the source of many of Ima's superstitions, making up a flexible sort of code. Inspiring a sort or 'honor among thieves', this code vaguely follows a Karma-like vein, though not as straightforward. If one oversteps one's bounds, or falls prey to greed, it is said that he or she is asking for the Lady's displeasure. On the other hand, the Lady only helps those who first help themselves. This can tend to provoke a colorful arrangement of superstitions.

If questioned, followers of Luck will tend to say they would rather not tempt Fate or attract the evil eye, if they answer at all. It is considered bad luck to even mention the name Vicis, which can also provoke caution toward referencing her in any way. Ima also bears a depiction of the 'eye of the Lady' (as pictured to the right) on the inside of her left wrist. Unfortunately, in the end this served as yet another condemning piece of evidence in the eyes of the Yulian inquisition.

Finally, as a foreigner who spoke the language of Lusk throughout her formative years, Ima still bears a vague accent. There is a slight upward lilt to her tone that makes it seem as though she is always questioning or disbelieving. Her vowels tend to be softer, and her r's slightly trilled, especially when she is more worked up. This can give her speech a slight musical tone, though it is sometimes hard to pick out with her quiet voice.



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So begins...

Ima Creslade's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sairen Varimor Character Portrait: Adella of Yulia Character Portrait: Ren of Yulia Character Portrait: Mojohra Jojohrum Character Portrait: Gallard of Yulia Character Portrait: Ima Creslade
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Midgate - Aressan Wall Border


Rain fell hard over the Midgate Fort, leeching into the gold-hued Aressan stone and making the sentries on the outer walls shiver in their uniforms.

The blue and silver griffon flag had become limp and listless in the driving storm, but it had in no way dampened the activity of the...somewhat unwelcome foreigners within the fort.

Soldiers jogged about beneath the roof overhangs of the large courtyard, and from time to time a dark-cloaked Inquisition officer might be glimpsed flitting about between the buildings. Across the yard from the gate stood the enormous structure of the Elidian Wall, and, most prominently, the Mid Gate, a vast expanse of iron whose arch would have been large enough to sail a ship through. What the once-citizens of that old kingdom had thought they would be accommodating with such an enormous entryway it was hard to say, but now it belonged to Yulia...and it was guarded jealously.

The fort was a relatively recent addition, it only being completed a couple of years previously; as the most practical and efficient means of enacting Yulia's proposed plan to handle the problem of the Lost Lands...and in the process handle the problems of the number of prisoners within their dungeons. Midgate Fort had been used by the Inquisition as a prison since its inception, so eliminating the problem of having to personally escort the rather unwilling 'explorers' under guard to the gates. It also meant that for those that remained as inmates for more petty reasons, the looming iron jaws forever in their field of view presented a permanent threat as to what might be waiting for them if they caused problems.

It was within this stronghold, up within the thick defensive structure in the walls, that Inquisition Officer Vesgha, dressed in the black, silver-lined garb typical of the order, strolled calmly through the damp, torchlit corridors of the prison, reading off a set of names from a list in one hand, and indicating to individual cells with the other, pointing to the heavy-set troops behind her whom they needed to escort out. Every so often the figure would pause, point inside the gloom of one of the cells, and in would march a couple of soldiers to drag some unfortunate out into the light.

Some would go willingly, some less gracefully, but eventually, all would go.
It was not just prisoners participating however. Standing at the end of the hallway, near the exit to the main stairway, someone else was standing, awaiting acknowledgement.


The frosty blue eyes under the mask of the hood looked the mage up and down. Small, plain-looking, coat and mantle indicating a second-class magus. The kind trained for combat. She stood up to her full (somewhat unimpressive) height and carried herself in a manner that implied she felt above waiting round in this grim place.

Mage Adella adjusted her mantle, the silver feathers glittering in the guttering torchlight. The dungeons were inevitably disgusting and she was never exactly keen on venturing down there unless expressly ordered, however needs must. You had to sometimes demean yourself a little in order to reach new heights. As Officer Vesgha approached the young mage bowed her head in respect.

"Officer. Second class magus Adella Darr. Order of Crows. I'm here for the operation."

Looking the woman over once more the Inquisitor gave a brief nod.
"A pleasure to meet you Mage Darr. Commander Sullivan already spoke to me about the arrangement. The preparations are in place, and we will provide you with everything you need to complete the mission. It's great work that you are doing here soldier, not many would have it in them to put themselves shoulder to shoulder with..." the blue eyes flickered up to those being led out of the rows of cells.

"...animals."

The Yulian caster, paying little attention to the shuffled a little, trying to maintain her decorum in spite of the compliment.
"Be assured I can handle myself Officer. None of them would be able to get past me."

"I do not doubt it Mage Darr." The Inquisitor responded, gaze turning back from the prisoners.
"Proceed to the courtyard and the rest of this rabble will be joining you shortly. Remember to watch yourself, and best of luck, lot of hope is resting on your shoulders."

A couple of sharp nods from the mage sent her down the steps, out through the guarded archway and into the rainy yard. Beside it sat pack, bedroll and a few sets of writing supplies, things she might need beyond. As representative of the Order of Crows and the Yulian School, she would be better equipped than the sacks they were doling out to the scum. In some sense she was rather pleased of it, but had a degree of concern about theft, surrounded by the lowest of the low.

Yulia didn't get to where it was by being easily intimidated though. Surely such people would learn to respect her power, if not her authority. She was, after all, a sorceress. Yulia had conquered all the continent. Only Old Elidia stood before them now...and she might be instrumental in delivering that into their hands. How glorious that would be. In spite of herself, Adella could not help but don a smile as she stood waiting in the pouring rain.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adella of Yulia Character Portrait: Ren of Yulia Character Portrait: Mojohra Jojohrum Character Portrait: Ima Creslade Character Portrait: Maeve Byrne Character Portrait: Ludral
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β€œEsra! Please… please just look at me. Esra! Turn around!” Ima’s voice called out, shrill with worry. Her palm slammed repeatedly against the wood of the heavy door, her face against the cold bars. She looked into the scantly furnished, cell-like room, but her eyes were fixed only on the huddled form sitting on a rickety chair. A ragged blanket covered the thin female, a blonde head visibly hunched over defeated shoulders. As Ima watched, a dark, pernicious mist descended, obscuring the sallow figure, but Ima would not be denied. She continued to bluster at the unmoving girl, even as cruel fingers pulled back at her hair and scrabbled at her arms. Ima’s breath caught as the still darkening form finally began to turn.

A gaunt, hallow-eyed face glared back at her, hardly recognizable and wasting away as she looked on in horror. β€œToo late,” it rasped. β€œWhy were you too late? Didn’t you care, Ima?” Its tone was mocking, spitting her name out like a curse. The skull-like face slumped and stilled.

Ima felt herself torn back, everything fading to darkness as she screeched a final, β€œEsra!”


Ima jerked awake, trembling as she pulled herself up with a muttered curse. She panted harshly, trying to still her nerves. It had only been a nightmare. It wasn’t real. It wasn’t real. But the fear was real enough. The Yulian bastards had Esra, but Ima had seen her only a couple days prior. She was still fine, and Ima tried hard to reassure herself that her sister would be alright. That was why she was doing this, after all. It was a crazy task, but she had to do something or be executed, leaving Esra to fend for herself. One thing those dark-cloaked Inquisitors did well was exploiting weakness, and they had Ima neatly pinned. She would do what they wanted. There was no other choice.

Ima shivered, starting to realize how cold she was. The floor was damp, rain still pouring through the narrow, barred opening that counted as a window. The grey, gloomy light revealed little of her surroundings. Still, she knew them well enough by feel. The cell was hardly three paces wide, and narrow enough that she could stretch her arms out to touch either side from where she was seated against the wall. The roughhewn stone floor was covered in the sort of detritus that one was better off not considering too closely. Now that the rain was coming in, the muck was beginning to soak through the worn piece of blanket on which Ima sat. She pulled herself up to a crouch, crossing her arms over her chest to conserve a bit of warmth. At least they had given back her normal clothing after she agreed to their blasted quest.

She clasped her hands together, her thumb slipping under her left sleeve to skim over the marking hidden on the inside of her wrist. The eye of the Lady, meant to bring luck. It had once given her a measure of comfort, but now she felt uncertain. What had Ima done to bring down such misfortune? Where had she gone wrong?

Her eyes stared at the bit of sky visible through the bars, searching the misting clouds as though they had the answers. From this angle, she could not see the wall, but it was never far from her thoughts. She wondered how long the bloody sods would take to send her off. They acted like it was going to be soon, but seemed to get a kick out of leaving her in the dark. Literally, in this case. Noise began to emanate from the hall, a loud-mouthed Inquisitor shouting out names. Each name was accompanied by the unmistakable clamor of armored guards and various amounts of fuss. Ima wearily raised to her feet, stepping over to the door to see if she could catch a glimpse of what was happening.

Looking through a narrow slit in the door, Ima could only see flickering shadows in the bright hall. After a moment, she was able to make out the form of the Inquisitor. She got a scant impression of a woman being dragged away between guards as she shouted back at another prisoner. Ima quickly lost interest and stepped back. Perhaps they would be calling her soon. She took a moment to prepare herself, to stuff down the loathing that had been growing against these cursed Yulians ever since she had been captured. It was always better to present a cool façade, hiding her true feelings. Then they could not be used against her. She took several long slow breaths, gradually relaxing her muscles until she could school her face to blankness.

Finally, she heard her name called out by that malevolent voice. She straightened as the door was thrown open. The torchlight was far too bright and she lifted a hand to shield her eyes. The guard roughly clamped a gauntleted hand around her upper arm and jerked her forward. The second guard quickly followed suit as they pulled her from the cell.

She tried to wrench away from their cruel grasp, protesting with a cold, venomous tone. β€œOy, get your filthy wigglers offa me! I can walk on my own two gams, you know.”

The iron grips on her arm only grew more painful as they bodily yanked her down the hall. She desperately scrambled to regain her footing and regained her balance before they could drag her down the stairs as well, glaring daggers at the pair. They hardly seemed to notice. The group stopped long enough for an official to read off her supposed crimes and the terms of her release into Elidia before she was pushed out into a rainy courtyard. The Midgate loomed, threatening, off to one side. Her head swiveled as she was released, instinctively seeking out possible routes of escape. There were none.

She mindlessly rubbed a hand over the bruised skin of her arm, gazing upward at the wall of Elidia. Her musing was disrupted by a gruff voice. Ima Creslade?” Her eyes flickered toward the man as he thrust a sack into her arms. Apparently the glance had been enough confirmation and he strode away without another word. Ima heard the subtle rattle that indicated her blades and picks were inside, even as she noted the hilt of her dirk sticking out of the sack.

Her eyes swept over the courtyards other occupants, noting them for the first time. None of them seemed to be especially paying attention to the small, dark-clad figure. She backed off from the group a little, crouching as if merely to adjust her boot and easing the sack to the ground under her legs. She donned a faintly mottled grey cloak onto her back first, pulling up the hood against the rain, followed by her dirk. Her attentions swept the courtyard as she flitted small throwing blades into their concealed places about her person. She felt a small measure of relief that the familiar items had been returned. Soon, various pouches and a couple sturdy daggers were joined to the belt at her waist.

Ima remained crouching, taking time to observe the others in the courtyard with a wary eye. So far, there were a couple men. One was being roughed up after mouthing off to a guard while the other, heavily armored, stood by a fiery headed woman with a sword at her waist. There was also an odd looking man in some manner of performer’s garb. Ima found something unsettling about his manner, but she was not sure exactly why. There was another woman, standing blankly off to the side, looking as thin as death. She seemed… empty somehow. Ima’s gaze moved on to the one who was, perhaps, the most interesting of the gathered group. A Yulian mage, by the markings on her attire. From the horse and bags sitting nearby, it was clear the woman would be travelling into Elidia with them. A babysitter of sorts, then? Ima looked on with a measure of contempt, wondering how long the diminutive mage could hope to last. She was the only one present with a similar stature to Ima, but her arrogant bearing made it clear she feared no threat, for now.

Ima did not waste her time glaring, instead turning her focus to counting out the rations in her bag. It was a pitiful amount, but Ima hoped she could soon supplement it. She swung the sack onto her back, out of the way of the hilt of her dirk. She remained squatting, perched lightly on the balls of her feet, content to observe. She had no desire to draw attention to herself for now. Her cloaked, still figure blended well into the bleak shadow cast by the wall of the fort at her back.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sairen Varimor Character Portrait: Adella of Yulia Character Portrait: Ren of Yulia Character Portrait: Mojohra Jojohrum Character Portrait: Gallard of Yulia Character Portrait: Ima Creslade
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Two of the soldiers of the Midgate Fort, plate clanking in the dank hallway, followed at Vesgha's heels as the Inquisitor walked, no longer alone. Her progress had caused her to be met by the tall, imposing figure of Commander Taron, head of the soldiers stationed at the garrison.

There had been a few exchanges of pleasantries. How his wife was doing, whether his youngest was recovering well from falling from a horse the week previous. Then things turned to rather more formal matters. Most pressingly, that of one of the prisoners.

"Are you certain this is the best course of action, Vesgha?" the man asked, his heavy beard bristling in the cold.
"After all of the back and forth from the Court about the applicable law.. it seems rather abrupt.. we've not even been able to prove a crime took place."

The Inquisitor did not look round, nor alter pace.
"The problem of the Aressan is not just one of justice, it's a political matter." she explained, in a very matter of fact fashion.
"The wolf thought she'd played a rather clever little game by surrendering to Yulian law and then calling a duel. We could have arrested her on violation of the codes, had that pompous fool not destroyed her sword. Killing Garech cemented her place in the consciousness of the Aressans."

The woman traced a gloved hand along the damp stone brickwork.
"Every day that story circulates around taverns and market stalls, growing more exaggerated and ridiculous with each telling. The Aressans regard that animal as some sort of folk hero. Some symbol of resistance to Yulian rule.
The people in this land are riotous and resentful. There are talks of militant groups that hope to reclaim their rightful monarch from Yulia. It is a powder keg... and either freeing or executing the knight could be the spark to light it. Allowing her to walk free makes us look weak, executing her would make us look tyrannical, unjust. This is the best possible solution. We can tell them the Knight went of her own accord, please the plebs with some story of heroics, and get this problem off our hands
."

After a few moments of walking they came to the end of the hall, where a cell sat in gloom and dark water.

For a brief moment, thunder flashed through the barred windows, lighting up off the battered steel scaling and the jagged edges of a distinctly lupine helmet.

It had not taken the knight long to reclaim their former presence.

"Kalis of Aressa, the Inquisition is here to take you up on your generous offer to venture beyond the wall." Vesgha stated, keeping an entirely straight face. Both the speaker and the recipient were well aware of the lie, but protocol was protocol.

As the guard stepped forwards to seize the arms of the prisoner, the lightly armoured for rose seamlessly to its feet.

"There's no need for that." came a level voice from beneath the visor, bouncing off the inside to give a sort of metallic quality.
"I'm ready."

The knight walked silently between the two soldiers, who walked whilst eyeing the prisoner with suspicion, each exchanging a glance with the other in an attempt to anticipate any form of trickery on the Aressan's part. It was not as if they'd not heard the stories. Heard the lurid descriptions of the mad wolf-woman hunched over the red mess of Sir Garech's skull, uniform splattered and sticky with gore and bone.

For her own part, Kalis gave no indication of any of this savagery on the walk down from the tower cell, and passed into the rainy courtyard without a word.

It was shortly after her boots had stepped out onto the sodden cobbles that a heavy metallic crash sounded out behind her.

The knight looked back to see it lying in a puddle, flung out of one of the windows where some soldier up a floor higher suppressed a giggle and pulled back in.

The bladeless sword, a hideous, heavy chunk of twisted metal that looked no worse for its fall, and no worse for years lying in the bottom of some store room. Admittedly, it would be hard to make its condition a lot worse than it already was. No sane man would ever call that thing a sword anymore.

Though clearly if she was able to murder one of their generals with it, Yulia saw it as more than adequate equipment to take on the dangers of Elidia with.

That suited Kalis fine.

The knight swept the broken sword up and rested it on her shoulder, surveying the others present through the visor of the helmet. They seemed to have gathered quite a collection. People from numerous different nations....well, now supposedly all united under the Yulian crest.

Adella had been taking stock of these assembled people too. And not too kindly. She had noted some of the looks that she was getting. Criminals. Traitors. Deviants.
And something even worse than that. Her gaze lingered on the shabby-looking figure of Renevari.
"Abominations." she muttered under her breath.
Abominations. Disgusting corruptions of her noble cause.

Caught up in giving that freak a poisonous stare, Adella had not noticed the arrival of Kalis, or indeed the arrival of the authority...well not until it spoke.

"Mage Darr, would you do the honours?" Vesgha asked, rain beading up on the Inquisitor's black hood.

Adella was pulled out of her reverie and gave a sudden, eager nod, before beginning a very brisk walk across the courtyard to the dark steely expanse of the Mid Gate.

In the centre of the gate, set about chest height for most (and a little further for the rather diminutive Adella) was a seal, some old glyph forged into a round plate that sat over the centre of the divide between each side.

The mage stood before it, taking a deep breath before extending a hand and pressing it against the sign on the the plate.
The sunken metal began to flare a strange, electric blue, and this glow began to spread out from where the woman stood, expanding in geometric lines and shapes across the dark grey surface. As it reached the edge, a low, rumbling grind let loose from the dark guts of the gate. The ground beneath the feet of those in the courtyard shook. Horses in the stables started to toss their heads and whinny in fear. The troops on the edge of the courtyard reached for their weapons in tense anticipation.

The jaws of the Mid Gate slowly, heavily, spread wide open.

Adella was left stood alone at the edge of Aressa, and opened her eyes to find herself gazing ahead into the Lost Lands.

There was no rain.

Before her, the rain simply stopped. In front was a grassy ledge, stretching some distance away, with overgrown shards of paving dotting the organic surface.

And not a hint of rain.

Sunlight peaked through the clouds in the Elidian sky.

A shiver crept up Adella's spine. Then, a sudden shout caused her to whirl around, in time to see another, an intruder of all things, dashing towards the gate.

"What on earth are you doing?!"