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Natalia Dalca

The forbidden bird is kept in chains, in fear that it may one day spread its terrible wings.

0 · 263 views · located in Ragged Camp

a character in “The Ragged Kingdom”, as played by glmstr

Description

Image

Natalia Dalca, dread witch of the Ever Forest


Description

A young brunette woman who looks no older than twenty, with a stony expression and dark slate eyes to compliment. While her features are largely quite ordinary, many cannot help but find her alien, exotic, or sometimes downright obscene. Some attribute it to her personality, others say it is her solemn visage, while others say it is her tendency to wear heavy flowing cloaks with a hood pulled over her head. Though, not unlike other witches, there seems a certain malevolent aura that surrounds her, the possible curse of their wicked magic suffused into their very being, that transforms them into something not entirely human? While often conjecture at best, the rumors and theories of the witches are usually based somewhere in fact or history.

Personality

A lifetime of magical practice, complete with its ostracization and following reclusiveness, has strained what little social development and skill she had. Enigmatic and levelheaded at her best, eccentric and detached and antisocial at her worst. The communal hatred of the arcane by people the world over bred a strong animosity and distrust against those without the gift, which only proceeds to further that rift with outsiders.

Equipment and Abilities

For possessions she possesses only her clothing, an untitled book bound in black leather, and a curious pendant worn around her neck.

In terms of physical ability, Natalia is capable of effectively that which one would expect from a young woman of her size and frame. For that which leaves the realm of physical, she is highly gifted. The scale of her heretical talent is what led to her eventual capture, for her potential was deemed horrifying by the common folk. Not only can she heal the wounded, but strike down foes from afar through command of the forces of nature itself. Yet, this is not why she is feared so. There is speak of collusion with beings not of this world, of hellish 'contracts' made with dark entities for power.

History


Very little is known about Natalia, as her own past is even more a tightly-kept a secret than the contents of her infernal book. What is known, however, is that she lived much of her life with other witches in the forest, who taught her until she was able to pursue the depths of the arcane alone. Upon rumors from loggers, the shrieks of village housewives and the maddened ravings of petty lords on the hunt, each story corroborating about the terrors lurking in the forest, a large party was sent to capture the abomination and bring her to justice.

So begins...

Natalia Dalca's Story

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Character Portrait: Natalia Dalca
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#, as written by glmstr
"March you worthless sods!"

Throughout the forest echoed that barking command, and the sloppy rhythm of the footsteps of around a dozen people and several horses answered. The party clomped and trekked closer and closer to the ragged camp, along a nearby path carved and hewn from the dense forest, though the gnarled and twisted trees stretched into yawning arches over the dirt road.

The caravan itself consisted of eight men of varying repute, all clad in mismatched armor and clutching various cheaply made weapons, and three men on horseback, two in more presentable armor and the third at the front in shimmering full plate. They carried no local standard or coat of arms, so the conclusion of mercenaries or headhunters is not unfounded. Additionally, to support such a theory, behind them trailed two prisoners with heavy iron cuffs around their necks and ankles, and a large shackle to bind the wrists of either one. The chains and shackles rattled and clinked as the figures shuffled along, first the large barbarous man and second the much smaller hooded figure, the former much less cooperative than the latter and often requiring chains or ropes to be pulled by guards.

The man obviously in charge turned back at a brief struggle with the giant, but his narrowed gaze quickly shifted to the more docile of the two prisoners.

"Someone keep an eye on that damned witch, I don't want to have to look for her again," with a wave of his free hand several guards broke off from the formation and stood shoulder-to-shoulder at the witch's flanks, halberds at the ready. Though, as time passed, the larger man calmed down and the guards relaxed, eventually breaking out into a bar tune, which sounded inexplicably unintelligible even though none of them have consumed a drop of alcohol in days.

The brute eventually joined in on the singing, but the witch still remained silent, gazing intently at a burlap sack draped on the leader's horse.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Arya the Trenchant Character Portrait: Weaver "the Palisade" Character Portrait: Natalia Dalca
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Arya listened with a closed mind as the man disregarded her request and then threatened to tie her up again for a new solution. In truth, the woman found it rather cold of him to reject her so easily. 'Women must not be his preference,' She silently mused with a look of exasperation. The women then sighed heavily at her carer and flopped over on the bed. "You wish to talk about things I care little about and games are only fun when there's a point to winning. You're too much of a guard and not enough of a host." She paused and sighed again, "I perhaps that's what I should expect with bandits." When her voice drew quiet, she could hear a new sound overcome the still night air. Chanting had erupted from a large number of men but not from the camp. Perhaps it was a siege or men returning to camp. In truth, Arya was uncertain but she wanted to find out. It was better than whittling away in this boring, small tent. So with a new found vigour, the young lady rolled off the ledge of the bed and jumped to her feet.

"Do you hear that, Weedle?" She murmured. For a moment she stared the man straight in the eyes, counting down from ten in her mind. When she reached zero, Arya ran full tilt. The counting had psyched up her morale so that her feet were powered by adrenaline when she sprinted forward through the tent flap. She didn't dare look back as she rushed through the camp, surprising strange man after strange man to arrive into the forest. She followed the sound faithfully, over the thick weaving vines and mud still wet from the previous night's rain. With time and dedication, Arya arrived in sights of the sound's source. She could see them; a strange gaggle of troops with two figures behind. The woman tired to stop a distance away but found her footing false and tumbled into the bushes near the path. She prayed inwardly that their chanting had overcome the sound of her fall or that her - almost - guard would arrive in time to save her from the tyrants. Arya realized it was ironic to hope her captors could protect her from new captors but alas, that was the life of a travelling merchant. She was, in some strange way, her own type of merchandise.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Arya the Trenchant Character Portrait: Weaver "the Palisade" Character Portrait: Natalia Dalca
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#, as written by Daimayo
Weaver stared for a split-second as the merchant girl suddenly bolted, and the man's hand was too slow as he tried to snatch the back of her clothing as she ran by. Knocking the chair beneath him onto the floor noisily as he stood, Weaver swore darkly and his large frame began to move behind the slight girl's. She was faster than him, so the man hoped she would turn in a wrong direction or hesitate too long at a direction to run, but she seemed to have a target in mind and was not pausing for anything. Weaver heard men beginning to run behind him, perhaps ten seconds behind to help track down the prisoner, but suddenly she dropped and the large bandit couldn't see her anymore. He slowed slightly, and just managed to catch a glimpse of Arya's red hair amongst a dark patch of bushes before his heavy momentum carried him forward onto the path.

There was a long second as Weaver stood on the path, facing a group of armoured men, some of which were still muttering the last trailing words of a song. The former solder took in the sight of their lack of banners, the state of their armour and the prisoners at the back of the group, and before anyone could react, Weaver roared a battle cry and grabbed one of the men on horseback, pulling him free of his steed and slamming the smaller man bodily against the hard dirt path. The man on horseback was either unconscious or his neck broken, and immediately Weaver rose back up with a stolen longsword, charging past the other men on horseback as the mercenaries just began to react to swing the blade heavily at the front line of men. Weaver didn't know these men, but years of battle told him that if he wasn't sure a group was hostile, to not act first would be the same as allowing himself to be killed uselessly. He would just have to hope that the other bandits that had been following him would attack from the flank that he'd just come from as his pilfered sword smashed the blade of a mercenary hard enough that the other man was thrown to the ground.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Arya the Trenchant Character Portrait: Weaver "the Palisade" Character Portrait: Natalia Dalca
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#, as written by glmstr
"Come on witch, sing with us! Surely you must know some creepy cult songs," one of the ramshackle guards nudged the hooded girl with his elbow and evoked a chuckle from the rest of their party. Though, they quickly quieted down with the sound of rustling and crackling from behind the treeline. Each guard drew their sword or gripped their polearm, the crescendo of noise putting them on alert.

"Quiet you lot," the captain held out a hand to hush the party and stop their march, when a barbarous man burst onto the road and attacked one of the other two horsemen. He yelped as he was ripped from his steed, which spooked and ran off down the road without its master. His screaming and flailing was quickly silenced after a quick meeting with the ground.

"Ambush! To arms, men!" The commander called and stepped back with his horse. Three of the eight men broke off from formation and charged Weaver, two lowering their halberds and one drawing his longsword and swinging at their attacker, his own cheap blade chipping and deflecting towards the ground.

Elsewhere in the caravan, the ground nearly shook as the giant began stomping his feet and swinging his arms at two of the leftover guards. They yanked at the steel chains and lunged towards the brute with their spears, but the former did little to impede him whilst the latter shattered as twigs when he swung at them.

Behind the cacophony with the giant, the witch began a steady rhythmic chant, her guttural tones hanging in the air and creating unnerving chords as a green vapors drifted to the ground and below. Then, as if a percussion to her chanting, the crackle and groan of wood sounded beneath the earth. Root-like tendrils burst from the ground, grabbing several guards and yanking them to the floor and promptly beginning to strangle them. As their thrashing and gurgling began, the witch ceased her incantation but the murderous vines continued their grim task.

As the giant beat down the soldiers assigned to him, he broke open the shackles and trampled off into the forest in an arbitrarily chosen direction, and the captain of the band had all but vanished in the chaos. The only foes standing were the three attacking Weaver, when one of the three suddenly burst into roaring orange flame. At a distance behind the now engulfed soldier stood the witch, still trapped in the heavy iron wrist shackles and chained to what was once the giant's 'harness'.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Arya the Trenchant Character Portrait: Weaver "the Palisade" Character Portrait: Natalia Dalca
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Arya had wiggled into a sitting position amongst the bushes. Using her hands to push away the branches, she peeked onto the fight that had erupted before her. Weaver - whom she had rashly decided to nickname Weedle - begun the assault rather aimlessly to Arya whom already assumed him to be a mindless man. Still, she silently cheered from her first row seat. If she had been bored a minute ago, that was long gone. There was action, loud sounds and blood; all the makings of a wonderful night.

During her observations, Arya latched onto the pair of shackled members near the back of the parade. They gave her a sharp tingle down her back that left goosebumps in its wake. The giant was obviously a physical powerhouse of great strength but the woman beside him was a thing of legends. "A witch." Arya murmured under her breath. She eyed the woman with pure curiosity, wondering where and how such a creature existed. In some ways she envied the woman, wishing such power was at her fingertips. If such a thing were true she wouldn't be struggling for her life. Instead she would be a goddess among humans making them bend to her will. At that point, she could even have a will. Arya had to meet her.

With a bravery unmatched by most people of the day, the merchant gracefully rose from her hiding place among the bushes and playfully jogged towards the witch. While passing Weaver on the way, she jeered, "Good job, Weedle. Give him a real one, two." Her smile was wide and mocking until she ended her gallop before the witch.

The woman paused to pick her words carefully. "Welcome the Ever Forest. I don't mean to be rude but I'm assuming you would like some assistance today. Weedle is only as good as his arm so I believe it may be my turn." Arya stated calmly. After reaching into the helm of her left forearm pad, Arya pulled out a pair of long, thin metal rods formally known as lock picks. She gestured towards the irons that held the witch still. If given the chance, the merchant would pick away at the lock until it clicked open to release its captive.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Arya the Trenchant Character Portrait: Weaver "the Palisade" Character Portrait: Natalia Dalca
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#, as written by Daimayo
As the first man fell, stunned from the blow, Weaver raised his head to see three more men charging him. The large bandit idly wished that he'd happened to be wearing armour or that he'd thought to grab his battle axe when he went charging after the merchant girl. The sword felt far too light in his hands, but it would have to do somehow.

Weaver's eyes widened as he saw one of the three men facing him, one of the halberd wielders, suddenly burst into orange flame with a scream of agony. His companions turned to the poor man with horrified expressions, and while one turned to face Weaver again, the other polearm user spent another half-second looking to the woman Weaver assumed to be the Witch. Weaver punished the man for his lack if discipline by plunging his stolen blade into the distracted mercenary's stomach.

As the mortally-wounded opponent fell, Weaver smoothly removed the sword, circling the remaining sword-wielding foe. His enemy was hesitant now, seeing his dispatched allies and aware of the Witch that was still behind him, and Weaver strode forward to keep him on the defensive. They exchanged sword swings quickly, but Weaver's reach was better and the mercenary almost seemed drunk with the wildness of his attack. Another half-second later and it was over, with the large bandit trapping his foe's sword-hand in his own grip and beheading him in an instant.

Weaver let the body fall, and grunted with exertion. The battle was quieting quickly as more members of the bandit camp arrived, and Arya seemed to have started to do her part by starting to free the woman that Weaver had presumed to be the Witch. The former soldier let a small smile wander onto his face.

His smile disappeared as pain blossomed suddenly in his back, deep and sharp enough that his vision immediately blackened slightly. Managing to turn, Weaver saw the first man he'd smashed to the ground had recovered more quickly than he'd expected given Weaver's lighter weapon, and had picked up the halberd from one of his fallen companions... the halberd seemed to be buried in his back. The bandit saw himself fall to a knee, but barely felt it as he looked up at the leering mercenary. Something about his gloating expression... Weaver roared with anger, feeling warm blood on his tongue as he grabbed the smaller foe by his throat and pulled him down to the ground as he fell. Landing on top of the man that had stabbed him, his foe couldn't even hope to move or get his arms up into a defensive position as Weaver crushed his windpipe.

The former soldier's thoughts grew muddy. Why wasn't he wearing any armour? Weaver coughed and saw his own blood fleck the face of the corpse beneath him. A second later the large bandit was unconscious.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Arya the Trenchant Character Portrait: Weaver "the Palisade" Character Portrait: Natalia Dalca
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#, as written by glmstr
The hooded figure glanced up from the ground to the pint-sized elf, cocking her head slightly to the side at her welcome.

"I'm not sure that I follow. During my brief capture, did an elven warlord or a local baron conquer the Ever Forest?" With a heavy click the shackle fell into three pieces: two thick armlets remained fastened to the witch's arms and she drew them back into her long sleeves, while the connecting bridge-piece fell unceremoniously to the ground. Without allowing Arya to work on the cuffs themselves, she approached one of the slain horses and retrieved a sack formerly carried by the stallion, stuffing the contents into what must have been a myriad of pockets inside her garment.

"As far as I am aware, such an invasion is not the case, likely due to the fact that my people have inhabited these lands long before this Waors kingdom even existed," she trudged towards Weaver, stepping over several bodies in the process. She lifted one upturned palm, in which the earth responded by heaving upwards to flip the man over onto his back beside his attacker and victim. "So, elf, I presume I must thank you for welcoming me into my own home."

The witch knelt by the large bandit and laid a thin hand on the wound in his abdomen. "Your companion is hurt, I can feel him quickly fading." Her other hand reached into her robes to produce a book, which she laid open beside him. Several brief moments of silence stretched for what seemed to be an eternity, before being broken by a rhythmic droning chant from the kneeling woman, in an unintelligible and possibly archaic tongue.

First, Weaver's own blood spilt on the ground drew towards its master's body, defying gravity and drawing back into him through the man's open wound. Soon a horrific stench spread throughout the battlefield, as the nearby corpses all began to rot and putrefy, visibly withering away in minutes what would normally require weeks or months of decay. Dalca's chanting grew slowly louder, a crescendo in volume and gradual acceleration in tempo. Upon closer observation from the Trenchant, she may see that the Palisade's wound was slowly beginning to close.

As the stranger's ceremony reached a feverishly rapid cadence and an unnaturally booming tone, echoing through the wooded lands, the very ground beneath the two seemed to change. Weeds and flowers wilted and shriveled nearby, several trees shifted from brilliant verdant tones and warm browns to sallow yellows and oil-slick blacks.

The witch's song quickly softened and slowed down, and she removed a previously unseen necklace from her neck, and held the charm, a disk with a three-armed symbol. She pressed the metal symbol with her thumb against Weaver's forehead, as disembodied whispers rushed through the trees along the wind. When the open book snapped shut by its own accord with the end of the ghastly whisperings, the witch took the symbol back and donned the pendant again and rose to her feet. She picked up the book and put it in a satchel slung over her shoulder, and gave a single command to the now resuscitated Weaver.

"Rise."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Arya the Trenchant Character Portrait: Weaver "the Palisade" Character Portrait: Natalia Dalca
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Momentarily distracted by the aggressive grunt from behind her, the woman turned to see Weaver moments before he was cut down. Arya was mortified - well, not exactly mortified. Arya was disappointed. She had began to enjoy the man who held her captive, but he would be dead soon after meeting her. "Perhaps he prefers it that way." The half-elf mused under her breath. It was more pity than heartbreak painted across her face as she watched the man suffer. That was until the chained captive began her retort.

It was cute, the merchant mused, to be lectured to about her mindless comment. Her own answer was something along the lines of, "And what a nice home it is." She held a cheeky smile rather confidently while resting her hands crossed over her chest to watch the witch go to work. It truly was magic.

In truth, Arya was uncertain if she wanted her previous protector to live after the occasion. She was that cause of his trouble at the moment, thanks for her daring escape. While she couldn't imagine a simple minded man like Weaver disobeying his master, she could imagine that steel-masked stranger skewing her for damaging his prized mule. If he died, she could plant her own view about the scenario into the mind of the leader and perhaps spin it in her best interest - or, even more frightfully - run off with the witch to live as a lovely couple out in the woods. She then wondered if the witch would be into such a scenario. Arya was more of a man's lady but for a witch, she'd test the waters. But, with a shaking of her head, Arya displaced that thought from her mind. There were more interesting things to do than mentally picture what a magic love-shack would look like. Instead her pale eyes watched Weaver rise.

Once done, Arya had only one question to ask and she did so rather bluntly, "So, does this mean he's now your slave or does he still have freewill? If the former, we could have a wonderful day indeed." Another smile graced her pink lips.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Arya the Trenchant Character Portrait: Weaver "the Palisade" Character Portrait: Natalia Dalca
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#, as written by Daimayo
Weaver was having a horrible nightmare. He'd felt as though he was staring at an endless abyss, like a canyon with no bottom and no far side - And the air over the canyon was so cold, painfully cold. It stung his eyes and ate at the warmth in his hands and feet, and Weaver could feel that cold air ensnaring his body and pulling him towards the ledge... But suddenly, before he lost his balance and fell, the abyss was gone. It was warmer now but the nightmare grew worse, a horrific dream that Weaver couldn't escape from, couldn't even open his mouth to scream -

Suddenly, the big man opened his eyes, inhaling as though he had been underwater until he was an instant from drowning. Weaver's memories were fluid and hard to focus on... The sky was completely dark, a pale and full moon the only indication that the former soldier wasn't back at the edge of the abyss. There was a three-armed symbol, half-remembered that filled him with dread. He'd been stabbed. Weaver's hand drifted to his back, finding his shirt torn where he knew the halberd had pierced him, but no wound nor even a mark. Rubbing his eyes, the bandit tried again to remember his nightmare... all he could remember was a man in yellow, and even brief thought made Weaver shiver. He grunted and forced himself up, sitting, then finally getting his feet under himself to stand.

The battle was over, and something had changed. Weaver could see some of the other bandits within what light there was, as well as Arya and the witch. The other bandits were all staring at him openly, as if they expected him to attack them suddenly. Arya was smiling her usual smile, and even the witch was looking at him, albeit without any discernible emotion. Weaver's throat was suddenly very dry. The man felt that he should simply consider himself lucky, and not ask too deeply about why the other bandits were looking at him that way. Weaver padded over to the witch and Arya... as he looked at the merchant girl, he remembered completely what had happened, and why they were out in the forest in the middle of the night at all. For a brief second, Weaver wanted to strike the girl in anger, but he was suddenly drained. He'd been the fool that had let her get the better of him, there was no point in punishing her for being smarter than him. As for the witch, Weaver had only minimal interaction with her kind, but knew that Dervish respected magic-users, the leader's mind generally valued someone based on how 'useful' they were to him, and a witch would be immensely useful indeed.

Weaver looked to both of the women, and smiled slightly. "Before we're all devoured by burly owls, let's head to camp for the night." The man looked at the other bandits, who seemed hesitant to what he was saying for some reason. "Both of you can spend the night in my leader's tent, and in the morning whether you stay or go will be up to each of you." Slowly the bandits around him began to move towards camp. Weaver knew that Dervish would be angry with him already, given the battle and his part in how it had began, he could only hope that the Witch and Arya both would stay and the boon would balance out the bandit's personal failures.

Weaver rubbed his eyes. Fuck Dervish, and fuck guard duty. He needed a drink.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Arya the Trenchant Character Portrait: Weaver "the Palisade" Character Portrait: Natalia Dalca
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#, as written by glmstr
"As attractive as such an idea may be, he is no more a slave than he was before," Natalia responded rather curtly. Though, as Weaver successfully awoke from his previously mortal injury, she turned towards him and offered the tiniest of smiles, though the expression was more a result of seeing the ritual successful than knowing the man was okay.

"I see you are awake. You are lucky I came as quickly as I did, wait any longer and you'd likely've gone mad when you woke up," a hint of smugness crept across the witch's face. As the bandit began to speak Dalca nodded, though she began stepping through the desiccated corpses with her eyes lowered. A thin longsword and a small whittling knife were the only things picked from the bodies that she bothered to keep, the former sheathed and its scabbard fastened to her waist and the latter placed in a pocket.

With her newfound loot, the witch followed Weaver towards whatever camp he spoke of. With her abode destroyed by the former captors, she had nowhere to go other than with them. After all, she still had a mission to fulfill, and the dread witch was now presented with an opportunity to further her ambitions.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Arya the Trenchant Character Portrait: Weaver "the Palisade" Character Portrait: Natalia Dalca
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Arya sighed, "I guess we don't always get what we want." Her face had turned into disappointment as she dragged her feet after the two. No slave and now no freedom. While the man currently offered her a choice in the morning, she doubted it would true after he had rested. Most likely the witch would leave and the masked leader would have a new striking pole named Arya. Things didn't bode well for the young maiden. She hoped that the old oaf would get drunk tonight and forget to wake in the morning. She would charm one of the novice bandits to run away with her, which would act as her guard and guide out of the forest. She had a plan and, by god, she was going to get out alive and scar free.

Still, she trudged on through the forest which was finally dry from the morning rain. She was sure there was a moon out, but past the thick leaf cover above now, it was impossible to tell. There was no time to tell or detail to care about. There was simply a call for sleep; one in which she heeded obediently. Arya arrived at the tent, striped down to nothing and flopped lazily onto the bed before settling to sleep. The other would have to deal with her naked body mindlessly laid over the leaders sleeping mat because she cared very little about the entire thing. In truth, it was an easy way to try and surprise a bandit in the morning and seduce him. For now it was just a way to sleep so that the warm summer air didn't melt her. She was tired, annoyed and partially hopeless. It was time for bed.

Arya slept silently, twitching the odd time to a dream about money, and that was her night.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Natalia Dalca
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#, as written by glmstr
Whilst many in the ragged camp lay resigned to slumber when Dervish and company returned, one remote corner of the settlement answered with the sounds of activity. Upon a tree stump sat the cloaked witch, holding a short knife in one hand and a somewhat long branch in the other.

The dew-soaked rod, roughly five feet in length, was anchored under one foot against some rocks to hold it steady while the opposite knee propped it up through a piece of scrap leather. Clearly much time had already been spent on the work, as the entirety of the stick's bark was already shorn from it, the strips forming a small heap below the worker. So far the design carved into the piece consisted largely of spirals and rings intersecting at various points, occasionally evolving into floral designs or mythical creatures. Curiously, the lines also seemed to be burned into the wood as well as carved, the light wood and dark lines contrasting starkly. While the top of the object quickly rounded off, the bottom tapered to a point, yet not sharp to the touch.

Once the witch found the staff of sorts to her liking she stood up and dusted herself off, and headed towards Dervish's tent where she stored many of her other belongings.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Arya the Trenchant Character Portrait: Dervish Character Portrait: Natalia Dalca
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#, as written by Daimayo
"I have not seen her yet." Dervish turned as she walked past him to the table, idly watching her form as he spoke. "In fact, I was hoping that you would be able to tell me where she was." the man crossed his arms over his chest. "I suspect that I know where your guard Weaver went, and he will be out of commission for a few hours yet, but in the meantime I will speak with both you and the witch, if she is still in the camp."

"As for your fate..." The man paused, his eyes breaking from the merchant's body to study her expression. If the girl truly was nervous at all, she was hiding it masterfully; Arya didn't need a metal mask to hide herself from the world. "Your information was very good. We got everything that we needed for our original plan, and there were minimal complications. So I think that it's a fair trade that I begin to trust you. No more guard, to start." Perhaps he could finally start to have his tent to himself, again. "Your escape attempt was... ill-conceived, but you are apparently as lucky as you are bold. Not only did my lieutenant not die like he should have, but we may have gained a new ally, even temporarily. A powerful one." As Dervish spoke the last few words, the tent flap moved again and a young woman entered. The newcomer was dressed in heavy clothing and carried a staff, and wasn't one of his ragged bandits. The witch.

"You're the woman that my men have told me about." Dervish's flat voice carried across the tent. it was already beginning to get brighter in the tent, as the sun began to rise amongst the trees. "I don't know your name, but I have to thank you for healing Weaver. He's a good man." the masked man reached off of the side of the bed and picked up Arya's clothing, striding to the center table and setting the clothes beside the merchant woman with a meaningful glance her way. "I have a proposition for you both, if you'll sit with me. I'll have food brought here so that you won't listen on an empty stomach."

Uncrossing his arms, Dervish tilted his head slightly, trying to gauge both of their expressions to what he said. "You are both, of course, free to leave either before or after hearing what I have to say."

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Character Portrait: Arya the Trenchant Character Portrait: Dervish Character Portrait: Natalia Dalca
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#, as written by glmstr
"You're the woman that my men have told me about..."

Dalca nodded as the masked man spoke. This was assuredly Dervish, the leader of these folk. She took a seat at the table once he finished saying his part, only cutting in briefly to respond to some of the statements.

"I am."

"My name is Natalia. The large one, there is no need to thank me for helping him. He helped free me from my previous captors, it only seemed fair to aid him in return."

At the mention of a proposition, the witch leaned slightly forward, yet her expression remained neutral. Her face, while youthful and healthy, bore a steadfast and stony rigidity that tended to be reserved for the older and more experienced. Two stone-gray eyes focused on the masked man, their combined gaze seemingly devoid of focus as she lazily inspected the interior of the tent.

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Character Portrait: Arya the Trenchant Character Portrait: Dervish Character Portrait: Natalia Dalca
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"Luck had nothing to do with it." Arya muttered under her breath while she turned around from the pair to saunter towards her clothes. With sure hands, she picked up the outfit and shuffled into it. Her pale form disappeared under the brown leather that clung to her body greedily. Sweat the rested under her knees from the warm morning made it hard to push her legs through it which caused the half-elf to wiggle awkwardly into a tight fit. It took more of her mind that she had hoped, causing the young woman to miss much except for the promise of a potential offer and food. The second rang more true to her current state but the former would - or could - change her life.

Arya turned to the pair with a very mild grin and a nod. "Food sounds best." She stated quietly. The woman dropped into the chair by the table and straightened her back. Her thin hands took a fragile rest on her knees while she stared judgingly to Dervish. "Well?" She hinted with a nod towards the food. She was expecting to be served. It was, after all, the best thing he could do after keeping her captive here for several days. They weren't bad days but they also weren't exactly the best days either.

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Character Portrait: Arya the Trenchant Character Portrait: Dervish Character Portrait: Natalia Dalca
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#, as written by Daimayo
Pleased that both women chose to stay, Dervish moved smoothly to the entrance of his tent, speaking to one of the men who were outside the door briefly. As he moved back to the center of the tent, he saw Arya indicating that he begin to serve the small amount of food he kept in his tent, and after a moment of inscrutable thought he moved to the platter, lifting it to the table and setting slices of bread, chicken and vegetables in front of the two. "I have fruit, fish and cheese coming as well, help yourselves." Dervish sat across from the two, not making a move for the food himself.

"The first thing I want to do is learn more about you both. I have my own ambitions for my future, but I want to know how we can help one another." the man leaned forward, his eyes meeting each of the two as he talked - First to the smiling, attractive young merchant, sharp and deadly as a dagger; Then to the mysterious witch, polite and calm, but with something lurking behind her eyes that kept even the bandit leader from meeting her eyes for too long.

"As for myself, my main ambition is power. I have my own reasons for holding a vendetta against the Waors' ruling family, but the Warins family are my first target. If you want money, affluence or power as I do, I'm willing to work with you for as long as you're useful to me." Dervish gestured to the tent flap behind him, indicating the camp. "I have my men who call themselves the ragged bandits who are largely loyal for as long as they are paid enough, but mostly consist of criminals or mercenaries - It's difficult for me to find real allies who see the larger picture. I want to find people who have similar vision, and I want us all to benefit and grow from a mutual relationship."

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Character Portrait: Arya the Trenchant Character Portrait: Dervish Character Portrait: Natalia Dalca
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Arya was pleased about the food; gruel, after several days, was beginning to wear on her sanity. Her light eyes kept a solid glare on a slab of chicken as it rose to the table, almost glistening in the morning light. She hadn't waited to hear Dervish's ploy before reaching rudely over the table and pinching the piece from the tray. Greedily she pulled it back and stuffed it into her mouth, munching quickly on its tender, white flesh. Painfully, the half-elf swallowed a large chunk and answered, "I think you know my ambition. Money, plain and simple." She paused for a breath before pinching another slab of meat from the tray. "But if I'm going to help with your little pipe dream, I'm going to need more than just your promise of future money. First of all-" The woman bit another thigh of meat, "I want my sisters back. Then I want protection. Another bodyguard to replace my Ivan you stole from me. And my own tent. Also, I don't like the idea of Weedle creeping around me anymore. He's vastly underwhelming as a human. Keep him busy at a distance from me."

Arya finished off the new piece of chicken and patted her face before staring at Dervish sternly. "As for what I plan to do, well, you have the uniforms so that's step one. Step two, you're going to build a wooden hut - much like a shop front. The biggest difference between bandits and actual guards are structures. I'm going to need parchment and a nicer ink plot than you have now - it's repulsive. Lastly, I'll need a seal but you may have solved that problem already." She smiled devilishly at him. "I'm assuming you have a Captain's sword - Siav was boasting about it before. Captains have swords with the kingdom emblem on them. We can use clay to create a seal from that image. With it, we'll send letters out to a few major companies, alerting them to the change. If they're prepared for the new station, they'll be less likely to question it. Our only worry is that they'll complain to the Kingdom about the new changes but if we pay off the right people, the leaders will never know about it." She smiled at him and took another bite of chicken.

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Character Portrait: Arya the Trenchant Character Portrait: Dervish Character Portrait: Natalia Dalca
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#, as written by glmstr
While Arya spoke, the other guest at the table took the opportunity to eat. While her table manners were much more refined and delicate than her counterparts, cutting the chicken and fish gingerly into smaller bite sized pieces before carrying them individually to her mouth, her pace clearly signified the witch as emaciated. In all likelihood, the witch received meager rations if anything at all during her captivity.

When the gold-hungry elf finally finished her babbling, Natalia took a sip from the jug of water provided to her. At which she gave a satisfied exhale, and cleared her throat briefly.

"I seek neither money nor power. My ambitions are more, erm, abstract. That said, I will happily cooperate with your free company as long as our goals coincide, which for the time being seems like the case. I do have a few more personal errands I would like to run, but those are to pursue at the leisure of the group."

"Though, one task I need fulfilled as soon as possible but it is rather simple. A friend of mine runs a small establishment in the Waors capital, serving the purpose of both a librarian and a salesman of the newest texts. He must be worried about my lack of contact, so I would like to pay him a visit to ease his mind."