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Ascendant: Divine Inheritance (IC)

Discussion in 'Original Roleplays (IC)' started by Chainless, May 7, 2018.

  1. Chainless

    Chainless Hero of the Wild

    (OOC - Collab post between Akira and I)

    The noise outside his tent woke Finnan from his restless sleep. He hadn’t expected much to come of his attempts and didn’t remember falling asleep. He had been filled with an excited energy for the past few days. All the work he and his men had put in was coming to fruition. A completely unified North was within his grasp. Standing from his bedroll he stretched the stiffness out of his body cracking his neck. After washing his face and drying off Finnan dressed himself him his armour and grabbing his sword smiled to himself. “A unified North” he said stepping out into the morning light.

    “You should hold off on this unification. It is unwise to go through with it today” Miena advised Finnan as he stepped out of his tent.

    “You are not the first thing I wish to see when I wake Bandraoithe” Finnan said his mood souring. “Especially not with your piss poor advice”.

    “Then you should not over sleep you restless shyte of a leader”

    “It really begs the question as to why you were outside my tent. If you wish to sleep with me you need but ask, I suppose I’d be willing.”

    “Your piss poor bloodline holds no interest for me” Miena retorted snidely.

    “As if you could bear a child you barren wench. Begone from my sight. Where is Ulric?” Finnan demanded his mood turning sour.

    “Be careful with your tongue little king” Miena said with a gleeful smirk, enjoying the wind up, as she sauntered off to gather herself in preparation for the inevitable outcome.
    -
    Having gone through his rigorous morning drills, Ulric was unable to shake the agitated restlessness he had; he had gathered the elite kinsmen and their clanguard. “Where in the Hel is Finnan the lazy baster….” Ulric silenced himself as Chief Geilf and his clansmen approached gathering at the opposite side of the field that should be their graves.
    -
    “King Kergern” Skerick called. “The men are assembled under Ulric’s instruction. He is waiting on you.”

    “Good” Finnan called as he approached the grizzled old warrior. He and his clan had come to join Finnan from the South not willing to fall under the rule of the bloodthirsty Dragon King.

    “Ulric” Finnan called leaving the camp and approaching his gathered men. His first turned to face him. “By the blood we need to end that damn Bandraoithe. Is her presence here really necessary?” he asked with scorn in his voice.

    “I’m in no mood to discuss this now, you know I need her. We have these arseholes to deal with right now”

    “Well, if you weren’t such a temperamental asshole we wouldn’t need her” Finnan said only half joking.

    “Listen here you...”

    “You dare insult me!” A loud voice cut off Ulric from his retort. “I bring an army to face you and you dare to bring no more than a hundred men! I demand to speak to the leaders of you piss poor excuse for warriors!” Geilf called stepping ahead of his men.

    “YOU CALL THAT AN ARMY YOU PISS POOR EXCUSE OF A CHIEF” Ulric shouted from the backlines to the cheers of their men. “We should just wipe them out and be done with this.” he said to Finnan as they started to move toward the front line.

    “You know that's not how things are done” Finnan said with a sigh. “We will do as we have both decided and allow them the chance to surrender and fall in line, or challenge their chief to single combat. Now, I don’t know what has you so flustered, if it’s that time of month or something but get a hold of yourself. I will not have this turn to a bloodbath.”

    ‘I know but I’m not in the right headspace’ Ulric thought just glaring at Finnan.

    “What the Hel is this!” Geilf called as the two stepped forward to meet him. “I asked for the leaders of this army. Not some piss poor excuse for warriors!” Geilf’s men hollered with laughter as he turned to his men.

    Finnan stabbed his blade into the ground and leant back against it folding his arms. “I don’t think he’s that funny. How about you Ulric?”

    “The piss poor jest reflects his command” Ulric replied.

    “Piss poor is it?” Geilf retorted his temper flaring. “I’ll show you piss poor!” he said undoing his breeches and proceeding to piss on the two men.

    “Well, that’s just barbaric” Finnan said as he shook the piss from his leg. “Not sure I want to keep you alive at this point” he said turning to look at Ulric. “Shyte” he said as he saw his first’s eyes.

    All thought fled from Ulric as the world set aflame, pure rage fuelling the Blood lust.

    “Well, there goes any chance of a peaceful negotiation” Finnan said as the anger built up in his friend. “You’ve set yourself on the path to Valhalla by releasing the Blood Bringer”.

    “Blood bringer?” Geilf asked the confidence in his voice faltering. “That would make you…”

    A guttural roar left Ulric’s lips as he sprung upon the smoky demon visage of Geilf a foot on either shoulder grabbing his head, Ulric wrenched his body tort tearing through viscera severing Geilf’s head from his wretched carcass. As the body dropped Geilf’s men charged towards Ulric screaming their battle cry. As they got closer Ulric took the severed head and launched it taking out Geilf’s first. Oblivious to the reckless endangerment he was putting himself in, Ulric tore through the approaching foes leaving a bloodbath in his wake.

    Finnan followed close behind Ulric his sword forgotten as he stopped men from attacking him from behind. Ulric had torn through about thirty men before his rage seemingly started to abate. One man took this as an opportunity and lifted his blade. To his surprise as his arm came down it and his weapon simply shattered showering Ulric’s back in flesh icicles. His surprise didn’t last long as Ulric turned and promptly caved the man’s skull in. With that final attack Ulric seemed to be lost. Simply standing around seemingly searching for something.

    “Well” Finnan started. “This means you have all lost the will to fight” his words angered some men and they made to move against him. A guttural growl from Ulric as he made to move towards them quickly changed their minds.

    Satisfied that they wouldn’t move Finnan stepped back to Geilf’s severed head. Picking it up he shoved his hand up the neck so he could move the mouth. “So Geilf. Willing to talk surrender?” Finnan asked the severed head. “Why yes, I think I am” he mouthed as moved the mouth of his new found hand puppet.

    “Full surrender OK with you? You swear your allegiance to me and your men fall under my banner?”

    “Sounds so good, I may lose my head!” Finnan said laughing at his own joke.

    Miena who had been watching the events unfold approached Ulric with the necessary herbs to perform the Blood Call. Ignoring the fools puppet show. “I warned you” she said with her all too knowing glance.

    “I thought I told you to piss off woman” Finnan said irritated by her interruption. “How am I to know he would lose control over such a minor insult?”

    “If you had the brains to recall, it's the anniversary of the day we all met” Miena said dismissively finishing the preparation for the ritual entering her chant calling Ulric back to the present.

    “Oh? Oh. Ooh” Finnan said realisation dawning on him. “Skerick” he called after a moment. “My King?” he asked approaching. “Accept Geilf’s clansmen surrender. Make the appropriate arrangements and make sure no more incidents occur. With that Finnan walked back towards the camp.
     
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  2. Hope

    Hope Admin Staff Member Administrator

    Meanwhile in Sax, The Capital City of Azureth

    Emperor Newgate sighed as he once again looked over the documents he’d been reviewing for the past day and a half now. What was with the clans recently? First the Amazons send someone late, and now suddenly the Orcus clan has an ascendant as well. This was just frustrating at this point, honestly, and he was really getting tired of it. “Here we are trying to get rid of the damned trials. And now I have two new heads to worry about. Nevermind the exceptions that are being made just to bring them in. The paperwork won’t end. If Roan were here this wouldn’t be half as bad. At least I’d have someone to talk to through the entire ordeal. Sixteen years and ruling hasn’t gotten any more fun.” He looked up as the doors to his throne room opened and a smile crossed his face as his daughter Lilith came in with her best friend Ariana by her side, as she always was. The two entered in good spirits, laughing and visiting between themselves. Though he loved his daughter dearly, and he loved Ariana almost just as much, he was worried about her recent activity in the city. Apparently a hit with the ladies and the men alike, he was a bit anxious that his daughter may very well end up in a situation where she is left standing over someone who decided to make a move, or gods forbid Ariana were there, she’d castrate them. Newgate grimaced at the thought, shaking his head before pushing the papers to the side and welcoming them with an exasperated smile. “Girls. A little early aren’t you? And whatever is so funny that causes you to behave like children in the castle of all places?”

    Ariana, who was still coming down from a few drinks had with Lilith while in the city, seemed to sober up slightly under the scrutiny of her godfather the emperor. “Pardon us, sir.” she spoke while managing to straighten out her expression to a simple smirk. “There was an incident in the city is all. Lilith just can’t seem to go anywhere without causing a scene.”

    Lilith laughed and nudged her best friend’s side before looking to her father, “It wasn’t my fault!” Face flushed, her smile only increased as Newgate raised an eyebrow at his daughter’s choice of wording, but he nodded, encouraging her to continue. “So this couple came up to me, and the girlfriend of the guy came up to me and asked how I kept my hair looking so nice, and father, the guy just dropped as this girl just kept hitting on me right in front of him. He tried to look offended but Ariana was giving him the stare, just begging him to try and say something-”

    “-I was bored." Ariana added simply. "Him trying to start something at least would have made things interesting."

    “-That's right you love punching people!” Lilith responded without missing a beat before laughing once again. Ariana couldn't help but snicker a little but at least attempted to regain her composure. But upon noticing the look on her father’s face the laughter died down again to attempts at suppressed smiles. “Don’t worry father, nothing came of it. It was just funny….”

    “... You’d have to be there.” Ariana was somewhat more hesitant to add her feedback upon noticing how unamused the Emperor seemed to be.

    Newgate nodded again, standing up and moving closer to the girls before slowly making his way to his knees to be more level with them. “Lilith, Ariana, I know that you… desire a normal life. But you are not normal girls. You’re both nearly adults and I shouldn’t have to tell you this. We are people who hold positions of influence. And so we must hold ourselves to a higher standard. As such we need to be more cautious in regards to our actions, even the simple ones like glaring a hole in someones’ head,” He looked at Ariana accusingly, “Or allowing the actions to continue when you know that you should take the initiative to stop them,” He turned his accusing gaze to Lilith, “Now. That’s all I have to say to you as your father and godfather, what I say next is as your emperor. We have received the documents for a new ascendant. One from the Orcus clan-”

    “What? A new one?” Ariana interrupted as Lilith simultaneously added “This late?”

    “This late.” Newgate confirmed, trying not to let his own frustration show in his tone. “She will be arriving later today, and I want you to make sure she can find her way through the city unharmed. She’s a bit of a… Different sort, to say the least, but she is a fellow demigod, and as such she will be treated as family, am I clear?”

    Lilith sighed, but nodded. “Yeah fine. If you say so. Do we have to wait for her to start our training session?”

    Newgate nodded and stood, making to return to his throne, “She’ll be here soon, I’m sure you two can manage to stay out of trouble for a short while, can’t you?”

    “Yes, Sir. We’ll bring her back safely. You can count on us.” Ariana was back to her more natural polite attitude.

    Newgate shook his head with a smile, “Whatever happened to ‘Old Man’? I liked that so much better than ‘Sir’.”

    Lilith rolled her eyes at her father’s words but said nothing, allowing him to finish.

    “I am glad that you understand, I will see you all here in my throne room when she arrives.”

    “You got it Sir Old Man.” Ariana teased as the two girls turned to leave the throne room. As the door closed Ariana turned her head to see the questioning look on Lilith’s face. “Can I help you?”

    “You were awfully eager to help with the Orcus girl. Care to explain?”

    “New or not, she’s an ascendant. More competition. I want to meet her first so we can learn who we are up against.”

    Lilith nodded in understanding, a smirk on her face as she lifted her hand into the air, creating a bright, colorful rainbow between the two of them. “Sounds good to me, Ari. If things get hairy with her, I’ve got your back, as always.” She lifted open hand up on one side of the rainbow, her smirk blooming into a full on smile.

    Ariana brought up her own had to meet Lilith’s. They clasped hands as sparks extended from them, creating a soft glow through Lilith’s spell before it faded away. With that the two young women were off to carry out their newest orders.

    The Shores of the Southern Tribes

    Saoirse remembered the southern shores of Síneach Talún to be lovely. Nothing like the image that stretched out before her now. Clear across the horizon where the rocks met the water sea Saoirse only saw only a breathing wall of tiny imperial soldiers. The glint of their armor cast an unfriendly flare that blocked out the normally beautiful glow of the water hidden behind them. For now, they did nothing but stand there weapons in hand. And yet Saoirse was supposed to believe they were here seeking peace? The idea was laughable.
    Sixteen years ago, Saoirse was present when her father received word of Diana Sol’s untimely demise, Haldor dedicated a holiday to commemorate it. On that day her father voiced that his only regret was having not been given the gift of destroying her himself. On that day, he vowed to rid the world of the parasite that was Azureth.
    But now, under the rule of this one ‘Edouárdos Néapýli’ all of that was supposed to change? After all the empire had put the Síneach through, Saoirse wasn’t too keen on trusting that. New ruler or no, the Azureth people had proven their worth. Still, her father had ordered her to speak with their representatives and so she would obey.
    But for now, she sat on the edge of a rocky hill overlooking the scourge that ruined the scenery of one of her favorite childhood memories. A soft feeling brushing against her back pulled Saoirse out of her thoughts. She turned to look at the source of the disturbance. She was met by the large, round, golden eyes of her companion. The massive direwolf with it’s snowy white fur had taken a liking to following Saoirse everywhere from the time she had saved her life in the north mountains years ago. “An bhfuil tú ag leamh Cara?” the ginger woman spoke softly as she allowed herself to lean back on the animal who had settled to lay behind her.
    Her question was answered by a low growl. Saoirse glanced at Cara’s face to notice where the direwolf’s gaze fell. From such a distance, it would be hard for a human to see. But Saoirse and Cara could see him well enough. The Imperial general was tall for an Azureth insect. His elaborate black armor at least had the decency of not casting the annoying glow of that of his men. In mere hours, Saoirse was to meet with him. So far, she had to agree with the reaction of Cara. She was not impressed. “Bí dea-bhéasach, daor. B'fhéidir go bhfaighfimid an deis é a mharú ina dhiaidh sin.”
    For the moment, Saoirse’s voice seemed to be enough to calm her wary companion. The white wolf lowered her head to lay in her paws. For a moment, the two were left in peace. Saoirse was only alerted yet again when Cara’s head once again rose with a soft growl. Saoirse glanced over to see another wolf. From a glance Saoirse could tell he was slightly larger than Cara with Black fur and eyes that took on a vibrant orange glint. “Fenrir....” Saoirse spoke, standing up as Cara did the same. “Máthair-”

    A loud, piercing whistle echoed from behind the massive wolf as a glowing, electrified axe flew over it’s head and cleaved through five boulders before lodging itself into the ground by Saoirse’s feet. “Caithfidh mé roinnt fola ar mo lámha. Is féidir liom iad a mharú go hiontach anois, ach an deacracht a shábháil dúinn.” Though far smaller than both her daughter and her wolf, Eerika was likely more dangerous than all of them combined. Her bloodlust and insatiable appetite for destruction was more than reason enough for the so aptly named Executioner.
    Eerika crouched down to pet Cara fondly, before turning to Fenrir with a grin and scratching him behind his massive ears. “Aon nuashonruithe Óire?”

    Saoirse did not flinch as her mother’s axe flew at her. She had grown used to her family’s aggressive nature. Cara moved to sniff the axe casually before moving away to resume her nap next to Fenrir, who stood alert glaring at the Imperials. “We should get used to speaking their ugly language now, before we meet them. No updates. All morning these Imperials have done nothing but stand there and breathe our air. Except the tall one-” she pointed to the dark clad general “He comes out once in a while to bark orders and scratch his ass. I’ve made sure to keep my distance and to the rocks. They don’t know I’ve been here." Saoirse’s attempt at the Imperial tongue was fair though her accent was somewhat thick. “And put this away, mother.” Saoirse huffed, picking up her mother’s axe and handing it back to her respectfully. “I don’t like it either. But father sent us here to talk, not to fight. At least for now.”

    Eerika snickered, “Haldor can shove it up his ass. If he intended for any negotiations he’d have just sent you. He sent me because we’re gonna kill these scum and send them to the depths of Helheim. Your father is a lot of things, and stupid is only one of those things on occasion. Regardless, I suppose I can quell my thirst for imperial blood for now, but I’m taking out that tall one, he’s mine, you hear me?” Her other weapons clanged and clashed against each other from their place on her back as she hung her axe amongst them. “I’m surprised you didn’t bring more of the pack in case things went wrong. Then again, you don’t always have your beloved mother with you, so I suppose you didn’t really need them. I could kill all the imperials myself anyway.”

    “Have you ever known them to be directly in sight? They are smarter than that.” Saoirse whistled to Cara who stood and glared at the two women curiously. “Nacht Prey. Fan le haghaidh an t-ordú.” Cara ran off to carry out Saoirse’s command. With that out of the way, Saoirse turned her attention back to her Eerika. “I don’t care who you kill, when the time is right. But for now, father sent us only to greet them.”

    Eerika scoffed and waved her daughter off, “You and your brother are fools to not just utilize your strengths and exploit their weaknesses. It has served your father and I well over the years, and you should see to it that it serves you just as much so.” The two women began to walk toward the army on the shore as they spoke in hushed tones. To be sure they would not be overheard, Eerika’s next words were spoken in their native language. “Is taidhleoireacht amadán ar errand, tá sé rud ar bith dúinn thar na blianta, mar atá againn tógtha agus conquered ó dheas lenár fhéadfadh go unmatched ina n-aonar, agus is é an taobh ó thuaidh go luath a leanúint. Ná déan dearmad, mo fhionnuisce beag, ardaíodh tú a mharú nó a maraíodh, a bheith taidhleoireachta. Tá na amadáin aon chluiche ar ár son, in ainneoin a n-uimhreacha. Ciallaíonn Uimhreacha rud ar bith. An ceann ar a dtugtar Newgate gcruthófar go bhfuil i bhfad go léir na blianta ó shin, nuair a wiped sé ina aonar amach mo fine agus na treisithe an ó dheas le linn an mháirseáil tosaigh ar Azureth. Ní féidir liom a fheiceáil riamh dúinn comhoibriú leis na scum ...”

    Saoirse huffed, growing impatient with her mother’s lectures. Her mood was soured even more than before. "Ní féidir liom ach an oiread, máthair, ach faoi láthair thug mé mo focal a bheith i gceannas ar a 'councilman' she mocked the ‘councilman’ title "chun athair gan díobháil. i gceist agam é a choinneáil."

    Eerika seemed amused by her daughter’s stubborn words and simply shrugged. “As you wish, little spark. In time we shall see who is right.”
     
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  3. Oath

    Oath King Bitch™

    Roan had only been on the shore for mere hours after weeks of travel across the sea. The journey had not been pleasant but the war veteran had to admit he was glad to be out of the capitol. The ‘office work’ of his new position was boring on the best days. Upon arrival he was greeted by General Lucius Malignis, who had already been occupying SíneachTalún for months prior. Diplomatic matters with this barbaric country had been less than ideal in spite of the Emperor’s efforts. The Imperial army occupying their southern border was a precaution against a counter invasion against Azureth. While Roan didn’t fully agree with recalling all of the Imperial military except for this small line of defense, he understood the reasoning behind it. Showing too much force while trying to negotiate peace would be counterproductive.
    Roan’s purpose for travelling here was diplomatic. The army had faced many attacks from individuals and certain clans of late. Roan had been sent to provide reinforcements and help to discourage the Síneach from trying any further attacks. He was also sent to help Malignis to negotiate terms of peace with the barbarian King Haldor Lothbrock of the Southern Lands. His orders were to meet with his old war friend Lucius to be briefed on the recent updates of the war and later to greet King Lothbrok’s daughter who would be sent to escort them to meet her father. Roan was already considering the possibility that this meeting could be a trap meant to isolate the imperial noble and general from their army for an easy kill. He was considering measures to be taken in case such a thing were to happen. The morning grew late as Roan heard Lucius give orders to his men and the new reinforcements who had recently arrived. The time had come to meet him in his tent to go over the plan and meet the SíneachKing’s daughter. As he walked over, he couldn’t help but admire his surroundings. The land of SíneachTalún was admittedly appealing. The shore on which they stood was mostly covered in green land and large rocky cliffs. The sand along the shore was black. In the far distance Roan could make out the tallest mountains he had ever seen. The top peaks were covered in dark hanging clouds that draped over the north end of the island. A similar fog seemed to drape over the land before him as well, though not as thick. Obviously the landscape around where the army camped had been disturbed but that was to be expected from the recent assaults.
    Roan made it to his destination and entered the tent. He reviewed a map of the land that was positioned on a table in the center of the tent while he waited for Lucius to arrive.

    Lucius frowned as he looked up to the sky. Low hanging clouds blocked out the late morning sun, bringing a shade to the campsite. After months of being stationed out here, they had barely had chance to see the sun. Finally though, their reinforcements had arrived. Lucius had been surprised to hear that Roan was with them. He was intrigued to hear what brought the man to this part of the world.

    Later in the day, Lucius noticed Roan making his way to his tent. Checking the sun, Lucius realized how late in the day it was getting. “Men!” he bellowed to the reinforcements that arrived with Roan. “Get yourselves settled in. You're in for the long haul.” Most of the men groaned, but Lucius noticed a few that were attentive to every word he said. After dismissing them, Lucius made his own way over to the tent. He stepped through the open flap and saluted Roan.

    “Sir! Glad to see you made it safe. I figured that bastard Haldor would pull some ugly trick and try for your head. Not like it would be the first time.” A smirk formed on Lucius’ face.

    Roan didn’t look up from the map at first as Lucius approached the table. “At this point I would dare these infamous Lothbroks to try me, friend. It would be much more entertaining than the real purpose of my being here.” he glanced up with a cocky grin on his face. “Besides I want to test if that queen of his has the spark they say she does.” he heard a snicker from one of the guards posted at the entrance of the tent. Lucius also chuckled at the joke, knowing full well what Roan was getting himself into.

    “But thinking of ugly tricks, our own Emperor is sending us to meet with the enemy to negotiate peace with these people.” Roan walked to the same side of the table as Lucius. “You have been here longer so I trust your judgement. How likely do you figure this meeting is a trap to get the two of us alone?”

    Lucius pondered over the question as he leaned on the other side of the table. The map on it contained the layout of SíneachTalún, with key points marked on it of the barbarian camps. “We haven't had a battle on a larger scale as of yet. Some skirmishes here and there. While no one has lost a life yet, some of the men have been viciously set upon. They have all lost at least one limb.”

    Lucius turned his head to Roan. “These… people, I guess you could call them, are savage and relentless. They seem to crave battle. If I were a betting man, I would put money on a trap springing itself if we meet them alone.” A tone in his voice suggested Lucius wished this to be a thing. He himself was craving the battlefield, like an addiction you could never quite kick.

    Roan considered Lucius’s words. He couldn't help but feel like it was a win/win situation. The general’s apparent enthusiasm on the matter only amused the Saxan nobleman. “Well then.” Roan clapped Lucius’s shoulder in good humor. “Let's hope you're right. Either we accomplish Emperor Newgates mission. Or, should we fail, at least I get a good fight before returning to the tedium of Sax.”

    ******

    Zamir stood at the entrance to the beach where the Azureth camp was situated. ‘Poor choice’ he thought to himself. ‘Station men on the ridge around the entrance with bow and arrow and they would have nowhere to retreat. Suppose I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. They are here to talk peace.’

    Zamir made his way down the path to the camp. When the Azureth soldiers finally noticed him they began shouting in their tuneless language and scrambling around preparing for attack. It made him smile to think that one man sent the ants into a panic. As he got closer Zamir put his hands up flat to show he meant no threat. He was approached by four men aiming spears towards him. “I am here for the Emperors first”.

    *******

    Suddenly a man burst into the tent looking winded. Roan recognized him as one of his own who arrived that same day. “Sir!” He addressed Roan first and then Lucius “Sir.” He saluted respectfully if not rushed. “A giant has come to camp. He wishes to speak with you both.” the soldier approached and handed Roan a stone marked with the family crest of the Lothbroks.

    “Calm yourself, soldier. We have been expecting him.” Roan was somewhat amused by the man's reaction to seeing a Síneachfor the first time. But also embarrassed that one if his own men would react in such a way.
    The soldier frowned “But sir, I thought you were sent word that Haldor Lothbrok intended to send his daughter. This is a man.”

    Roan considered this. “Well… perhaps Sersha Lothbrok is just ugly.” He turned to Lucius. “Shall we?”

    Lucius chuckled. “Man or woman, a giant is a giant. Let’s get this going.”

    The two men followed the messenger and made their way to the far East end of camp where Zamir waited.
     
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  4. Hope

    Hope Admin Staff Member Administrator

    (Myself, Taboo Sho, and Kai. The dialogue in a changed font is spoken in their language.)

    Eerika muttered to herself as they approached the Imperial Camp, her daughter had never been one to mince her words, and while she respected it certainly, it still frustrated her endlessly. However, her mutterings would be cut short as an extremely large man came into view. Gods above he looked to be as tall as Haldor! “Look at that one Saoirse, I’ve only seen one of the silverblood devils be that tall in my lifetime, I thought they were all short except that one honestly…”

    It took Saoirse a moment to realize to whom her mother was referring. Once she did, she was amused but also perturbed “Máthair, do you really not recognize your own son?”

    Eerika’s jaw about dropped, “That’s Zamir? That bastard’s all the way out here? Whatever for? And for the record, dearest daughter... “ She turns away and grabs her Axe from its place on her back, before leaping up and slamming the flat end against Saoirse’s head. “Meas do mháthair.” she scolded before sheepishly adding “I barely recognize you these days, Tine beag…

    Saoirse laughed while she brought up a hand to rub the sore spot on her head where her mother struck her. “Fair enough.”

    It didn’t take long for the two women to close the distance to Zamir and the imperials. As they approached, Saoirse noticed the small armored men go on the offensive. She held up her hands to show she carried no weapons. Otherwise she ignored them, her attention was spared for her brother alone.
    Eerika followed suit by also showing she was not handling any of her weapons. She was left with few options now that both of her children were present. Her grudge against the imperials would have to wait, she could not, and would not, risk their lives for her own personal faults. Sighing to herself, she swallowed her pride, and her bias, and stood tall amongst her family.

    She could not help but notice however, that the imperial dogs were running around like chickens with their heads cut off. As funny as it was to watch, she figured it would be smart to address them. “Imperials from the south, I am Eerika Lothbrok. Queen of the Southern Tribes, and wife of Dragon King Haldor. My children and I come in peace to speak with Roan Vangard and Lucius Malignis.”

    “They know why we are here” Zamir said to his mother in their native tongue. “They should be with us soon. I haven’t just been standing here staring at the sky” .

    “Deochra bainne.” Saoirse interrupted by greeting her brother in their native tongue. “Then, why are you here?”

    Eerika raised an eyebrow at the way her daughter greeted her son but said nothing of it.

    “Dia dhuit sealbhóir cos” Zamir said turning his attention to his sister. “Dragon King sent me when he realised she” he gestured to Eerika “took off with all her weapons in tow. Told me he needed them alive and she…. Well, you know what she’s like” he said with the hint of smile.

    “Glad you had sense enough not to bring weapons. Though, I reckon the rest of your pack aren’t far behind.” He looked her knowingly. “They should be here soon. Then we bring them to father and we can be done with them”.

    Saoirse confirmed her brother's assumption with a dismissive wave of her hand. "Let me speak for us. The imperials were expecting me to come alone." her words had died down slightly when she noticed two men approaching .
     
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  5. Akira

    Akira True Lord of Arenas

    (Kai and I)

    Coming from the shadows Merrick killed two men. Stabbing one with his rapier and slicing another's throat with a flick of his wrist and his dagger. He killed another two before the first had hit the floor.

    Two of the targets paused stunned by what had been done to their friends. Before they had time to allow terror to set in Rhysand released them from the pain of mortal existence. Now there was only two targets left Rhysand locked eyes with the one who smiled as he capitulated his life.

    Merrick stepped in a cleanly killed the other with a swift pull across his throat. The man gurgled a moment before falling down and being silent.

    “Let us be done with this place” Merrick said flicking the blood from his weapons before releasing them back to the shadows.

    “I shall be with you shortly” Rhysand replied as he placed Obol for Charon on the eyes of the recently deceased.

    “By the Gods. Why waste time with such frivolous matters. Let those who cared for these men to give them their parting gifts” Merrick said the irritation clear in his voice. “Let us leave before we are discovered”

    “It does no harm to have some weight on our side of the scales of cosmic balance. Okay I’m ready to head” Rhysand replied slipping into the aetherial plane. ‘They don’t linger here either if they have passage.’

    “Cosmic balance” Merrick scoffed. “It’s not our business if they linger or not. We open the passage and leave them to it” he said gruffly before turning to shadow and making his way out.

    You don't have to run into them again with your shadow jumping’ Rhysand thought following his partner of justice, the recent deaths making the passage in and out of the plane simple to navigate.

    Once the two had managed to safely navigate their way off the premises they both appeared in their normal forms.

    “Now then. Grab the horses and let us return to the clan.” Merrick told Rhysand as the two started to make their way home.
     
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  6. Oath

    Oath King Bitch™

    (Hope and I.)

    In the recent few years, Desmond had grown used to the bitter cold mornings under the Labiski sky. Still, there was something about this particular morning that felt colder than most. Maybe it only felt that way in contrast to the blue flames he was in the midst of only hours earlier. Could also be the solemn state of his company. He had been riding southward on horseback for hours, all in silence. The child was clearly upset by the events of the day. She rode next to him and hadn’t said a word since he had visited her tent and told her the news.
    Desmond knew Roxanne Sternshade for most of her life, since she was brought to the clan when she was six. In her first year, Desmond was under the impression the child was a mute. She never spoke a word, and was always starting fires. In the time that followed, the girl eventually came out of her shell. She was a good kid, if not a little bit of a trouble maker. She was often seen helping the healers or playing with the other children in the clan. It was no secret she enjoyed teasing her guardians, always trying to outsmart them. Her warmth and spark were amusing and sometimes Desmond could scarcely believe she was the same person as the sad little girl he had met eight years prior. But there was always the underlying shadow behind her spitfire personality. Beneath it all, she was damaged.
    Now more than ever, Desmond could see that. He could only hope she could snap out of it as she had before. She had too many people depending on her. “Hey, kid.” he broke the silence, rather cautiously, “That was rough… this morning.” he scratched his head, unsure of how else to say what was on his mind.

    Roxanne was barely paying attention to her companion. She stared at the saddle in front of her, her eyes narrowed slightly when he spoke but otherwise she remained silent.

    “I mean, yeah obviously, right?” he let out a nervous chuckle “I’d have probably done the same thing if I were you. Who needs that dumb old tent anyway?”

    Still no response.

    ‘Damn it…’ Desmond huffed. “Look… Roxanne….” Her name seemed to get her attention. She finally looked up from the saddle to glance at Desmond, though her expression wasn’t much friendlier. “What I’m trying to say is I’m sorry, okay? You’ve been dealt a bad hand. But I’m going to protect you now.” he studied her for a moment before turning his gaze back to the road.

    There was a long pause before the silence was broken again. “I don’t… need you.” Roxanne’s voice was hoarse and it was clear she was being careful to mind her tone. She knew her travel companion well. Desmond was the leader of the Orcus clan and a man who had shown her nothing more than kindness her whole life. But that didn’t seem to matter now. There was a part of her that wanted to lash out. But she knew the consequences of letting those emotions get the better of her. He didn’t deserve that.

    In spite of her efforts, Desmond could hear the anger and loss in Roxanne’s voice. As a courtesy, he pretended he didn’t notice. He only sighed, tugging at the reigns of her horse to keep it in line with the path. “Oh trust me, kid, I know you don’t.”

    “Good. Then let me go back.”

    “Can’t do that, kid. I promised them I’d take care of you if anything happened to them.”

    “I’m not a ‘kid.’ And I don’t think this is what they had in mind...” Roxanne muttered. There was no point in reminding him that her late family didn’t want her in the ascension and that he was going against her wishes, and theirs, to take her to Sax. She had already made that argument earlier. It clearly wasn’t going to make a difference.

    “Okay, that’s fair. I’ll level with you..” Desmond admitted with a shrug. “I do remember the reservations they had about you becoming an ascendant. I know this isn’t what you want, either. But things have to change.” He paused to allow Roxanne to respond. When she didn’t, he continued. “I'm doing what's best for you and for the clan. Someday you'll understand that.”

    Roxanne hissed and turned her attention back to the road. Like hell.

    The rest of the road to Sax was spent in a similar mood. Desmond could tell trying to get Roxanne over her most recent loss would not be easy. It would take patience. But it was important to help her focus her anger and pain on training her abilities. The future of his whole clan rested on her narrow shoulders. Admittedly, putting her under such pressure didn’t sit well with him. But he believed it was the right thing to do. Hopefully she would understand in time.

    ***

    “There it is.” Desmond spoke as the two of them approached the gates to Sax.

    Roxanne had never seen the capital city before and couldn’t help herself but to be at little impressed. The climate was much different than she was used to. It was greener. And the city was so big. Roxanne was sure she hadn’t seen so many people in one place before in her life.

    “Beautiful isn’t it?” Desmond noticed Roxanne’s interest.

    Annoyed, Roxanne instantly looked away. “It’s fine I guess.”

    At the gate, Desmond dismounted his horse and Roxanne did the same. Desmond glanced at the sky to determine the time of day. As he did, he suddenly felt a person get a little too close. Stepping to the side, he narrowly dodged a clumsy woman who nearly ran into him. "Oops!" the slender young woman exclaimed apologetically as she brushed past Desmond. Her purple eyes darted between Roxanne and Desmond. "Sorry, I guess I didn't see you there." she giggled nervously while straightening the ribbon tying her white hair back.
    "Don't worry about it." Desmond dismissed her happily enough. But as the woman turned to walk away, Desmond suddenly frowned. He stepped after her, grabbing her wrist and pulling it up to reveal his coin purse. He glared, taking it back from her, he roughly released the woman's arm. “Don’t stray, Roxanne. The city can be dangerous.” he protectively put his arm around his teenage companion and guided her away from the stranger who had just tried to rob him.

    ****
    The white haired woman watched the man and little girl walk away as a sly grin crossed her face. She reached into her pocket and pulled out it's contents to briefly glance at them. A small silver key which she had pulled from the man's belt when he was focused on his purse. Nailed it! She cheerfully straightened her hood before disappearing into the crowd.
     
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  7. Taboo Sho

    Taboo Sho Arlert Staff Member Moderator Content Writer

    (Oath, Hope, and I)


    Lilith and Ariana made their way down to the castle courtyard. Ariana was somewhat flustered as she speed walked down the corridor, still struggling to keep pace with Lilith’s longer strides. “Damn it, we’re so late.”

    “What are you talking about, we’re exactly on time?” Lilith walked at a leisurely pace, resting her hands behind her head.

    “Exactly! We’re so behind! Why did we sleep that long? What was in that remedy of yours?” Ariana groaned.

    Lilith stuck her tongue out at the thought of her cure-all remedy that she had concocted. “Why is it always if we’re not fifteen minutes early, we’re late with you? And hey, It was disgusting, but it worked. Knocked us straight the hell out, eh? At least we aren’t… y’know…”

    “-Aren’t we? My head is killing me.” Ariana interjected but Lilith continued speaking as though she didn’t hear.

    “-But anyway, I didn’t put anything TOO dangerous in it, if that’s what you were wondering. Just… dangerous enough to work.” she smiled mischievously.

    Ariana berated herself and her best friend as the two of them approached the door and a pair of guards opened them. “Why do I let you convince me to be so irresponsible-”

    “-Because you loooove me?” Lilith laughed as she interrupted one of her best friend’s patented ‘you’re a troublemaker’ rants.

    Ariana rolled her eyes, stopping at the doorway and wheeling around to face Lilith. She looked rather unamused by her friend not taking this seriously. “It has to stop.” she put her foot down to emphasize her resolve before turning and leading the way into the courtyard.

    Lilith stifled a chuckle, deciding against reminding Ariana she had said that last time. “You bet, Ari.” She followed her friend only to notice the courtyard was empty aside from the guards. “.... soooo you sure we’re late? Because I don’t see anyone here.”

    Ariana was unfortunately just as confused as Lilith. “No, they should be here.... I made sure we had the time right… I hope they didn’t get lost.”

    Lilith raised an eyebrow at the thought, “Impossible. Her clan leader is also the counselor of the Orcus Clan! He should at least know his way around Sax. Dad will not be happy about this…”

    *********

    Desmond led Roxanne through the streets of Sax more cautiously now. As they approached the castle walls, the guards posted outside only glanced in Desmond’s direction but made no move to stop him. As they were trained, they recognized him as a prominent figure in Azureth’s government and assumed he would have his key.

    Desmond smiled a bit, reaching to the key ring he carried with him. “I’m going to warn ya now, Kid. You’re in for a lot today.” he said apologetically as he searched the ring for the right key. “Our first order of business is to meet with the Emperor. You’ll like him. He’s a good man. I assume the other ascendants will want to meet you too. But don’t push yourself okay? I remember you had a rough morning. I can tell the Emperor you need space for now if you need.”

    “Let's just get this over with.” Roxanne dismissed Desmond's pandering. She was tired and impatient. After the events of the day she just wanted to be left alone.

    “Right.” Desmond was getting a bit concerned in his second look through of his key ring. The right one seemed to be missing. Suddenly his mind went back to the girl in the streets. It had been surprisingly easy to take his money back from her in the moment and now he knew why. Damn woman. He turned to one of the guards next to the door, “You, there.”

    The guard turned to face Desmond. “Sir.”

    “There is a girl in the city somewhere. She has white hair and purple eyes. Looks to be in her early twenties. I’m fairly sure she has managed to steal a key to the castle courtyard. Your fellow guards might want to look into that.” The guard looked a bit alarmed and moved into action. He stepped forward and used his own key to open the door to the courtyard. He paused for a moment, holding the door open.

    “Sir Omen, the girl will be found and dealt with. Your key will be returned to you. For now, the Emperor has sent representatives to meet you ahead.”

    “Good man.” Desmond responded while leading Roxanne through the door.

    ******

    Ariana was about to respond when the door leading out of the courtyard opened. Instantly, she was relieved to see a middle aged man and a girl enter. She noticed the man, who she assumed was the Orcus Clan leader Desmond Omen, speaking with a guard for a moment before carrying on to enter the gates. She raised an eyebrow, confused. “Looks like something happened?”

    Lilith shrugged “One way to find out.”

    The two teens approached the newcomers and Ariana stepped forward. “Councilman Omen?”

    Desmond noticed the two girls approach. “Yes. You must be Ariana Vangard and-” he addressed her companion as well “-Lilith Newgate?” he nodded his head to both girls in proper respect for their station. “Your father sent word that you would be greeting us. I’m honored.”

    Lilith nodded, “He told us you would you be coming soon, and that he was sorry he couldn’t meet you himself. He has found himself quite busy recently.”

    “Hopefully you don’t mind us welcoming you to Sax in his stead. He asked us to show the ascendant to her rooms while you meet with him in the throne room.” Ariana added.

    Desmond wasn’t surprised by the suggestion. “Of course. I will make my way there this instant. I know the way.” he stepped to the side and sort of ushered Roxanne forward “Allow me to introduce Roxanne Sternshade. She will be representing the Orcus clan in the ascension.”

    Lilith stepped forward first, extending her hand outward towards Roxanne with a smile, “I’m Lilith, representative of Barisor. It’s a pleasure to meet you Roxanne.”

    Roxanne simply looked at Lilith’s hand before her eyes flicked up to meet the gaze of the taller girl. Her expression was blank, she had no patience to play the part she was sure Desmond expected of her.

    There was a long pause before Desmond broke the tension. “Please excuse her. We’ve had a long journey, Roxanne needs to rest.”

    “Uh-huh.” Ariana thoughtfully looked between Lilith, Roxanne, and then Desmond. Something wasn’t right about the situation but she would humor them for now. “Don’t worry, we will make sure she gets to her quarters.”

    “I appreciate it.” Desmond looked to Roxanne. “Get some rest, kid.” he put a hand on her shoulder before he was off toward the throne room.

    “Well, now that that’s out of the way, Shall we?” Ariana spoke and the three girls were off together.
     
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  8. Chainless

    Chainless Hero of the Wild

    (Akira and I)

    Merrick and Rhysand had made good time returning to the clan. The sun was setting and they could see the smoke of the cooking fires. “Smells good” Rhysand said taking a deep breath.

    “Yeah” Merrick said entertaining the young man. As they got closer they could make the tents and its occupants going about their business. “Does some of that smoke seem strange to you?” Merrick asked out loud. Leaning forward in his saddle he saw it was indeed different from the smoke of the cooking fires. It has a strange blue hue to it that Merrick recognised as smoke from hellfire. ‘Must have been an incident’ He thought to himself.

    Rhysand noticed the slight change in Merricks demeanour. ‘The smoke indicates hellfire. I’ll give him space to sort it out in private.’ “I'm going to check in with Vigenie and the others, I'm here for you if needed, just send word”

    Merrick nodded a wordless thanks to Rhysand. He wasn’t overly worried; Tessa was more than capable. Still, he involuntarily spurred his horse into a canter and made his way to the location of the smoke. When he arrived there was an unusual amount of people surrounding the scene. Merrick pushed his horse through the crowd towards the centre when a man came running towards him. The horse shied away from the approaching man as he came to an abrupt stop in front of them.

    “Beocca?” Merrick recognised the man.

    “Merrick….I..” he stammered. Merrick climbed down from the horse leaving the reigns in Beocca’s hands. Making his way towards the edge of the crowd he was met with a rather unusual scene. A trench had, as usual been dug around the tent to prevent the possibility of hellfire from moving to the other tents in the camp. Where the tent had stood was now nothing but ash and timber where its frame and contents had been burned by the flame.

    It was unusual that so much damage had been caused. She normally had more control over these things. “Where is she?” Merrick asked Beocca who had moved beside him. He was met with silence. “Where is she?!” he asked with more urgency.

    Beocca brought a shaky hand up an pointed to clump gathered near the centre of the tent was still smouldering.

    “No” Merrick exclaimed as he jumped into the ash making his way towards it. Beocca had moved to stop him but Merrick was to quick and he wouldn’t risk the hellfire to follow him. “No. No. No” Merrick repeated to himself as he crouched down and started shifting the ash that was obstructing his view. He choked on his words as he was met with the frame of a young woman burnt to a crisp.

    Standing, Merrick ran a hand through his hair and rubbed his eyes as if when he opened them this nightmare would end. But it was true. And sadly, very real.
     
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  9. Hope

    Hope Admin Staff Member Administrator

    (Legendseeker, Oath, Myself, Taboo Sho, Kai.)

    Roan walked next to Lucius as the two followed their messenger to the edge of camp where the Lothbroks waited. At first glance, he could understand why his men had been somewhat surprised by the sight of them. The man was big, even for someone of his race. The two women with him were also fair sized with the shortest among them, a woman wearing more arms than clothing, being nearly the same height as Roan.
    The three of them stood tall and dignified with the taller of the two women standing slightly in the forefront. As they approached the messenger announced them. “Imperial Stormbringer Roan Vangard and General Lucius Malignis.”

    Lucius remained silent in the exchange. Roan had always been the charm in a situation, while Lucius tended to be the brute force. Not that Roan couldn't hold his own when it came down to it. Lucius wondered in the back of his mind if Roan had always been the one the old seer had spoken of, the one person who could really challenge Lucius and his ability. Casting that thought aside, Lucius centered his focus on the meeting at hand.

    Roan put up a hand to silence the formalities and greeted the three strangers respectfully “Dia dhuit.” He chose to at least try to display a friendly approach by choosing a greeting in their own language. “I am Roan.” He handed the Lothbrok family seal back to one of his men who walked forward to give it to whomever it came from. “Which one of you is Sersha Lothbrok?”

    Saoirse opened her mouth to speak but was interrupted by her mother.

    “Seersha.” Eerika mocked the rude man’s pronunciation through gritted teeth. “You have the nerve to butcher her name? You are speaking to Saoirse Lothbrok. Daughter of Haldor Lothbrok and appropriately named ‘freedom’ in the midst of war your people started-”

    “Máthair.” Saoirse suddenly growled, casting a sideways glance at Eerika. “I can handle this.”

    “These ignorant geafola…” Eerika muttered. Her mood soured even more than before, she crossed her arms and shifted her weight to one hip. She shot another disapproving glance at Roan by looking him up and down with her lips pursed. Otherwise she respected her daughter’s wishes.

    Saoirse hushed her mother, somewhat embarrassed by the outburst, but returned her attention to the two Imperials. “I am Saoirse. With me are my mother, Queen Eerika Lothbrok of the South and my brother, Zamir Firstborn of Haldor.” She gestured a hand to each of her family members as she introduced them. “We are here to bring you to my father to broker peace.” having not expected to be accompanied by her mother or brother, let alone both, Saoirse was left with little choice but to do her best to make it look like it was on purpose.

    Roan was somewhat stunned by the temper of the shortest among them. But it was quickly resolved by whatever Saoirse said. Still, the daggers Eerika was staring into him were enough to kill his hopes of saving the situation. He shot a glance at Lucius.

    Lucius never wavered, but Roan saw his friend clench up in anticipation. Lucius had his eyes set on Eerika, and his hand ready to snatch his sword or her throat, whichever he could reach first. Lucius felt Roan settle his gaze on him and he pulled his rage back under control rather reluctantly. His eyes still told the group that he dared them to attack.

    “My apologies, your majesty.” Roan swallowed his pride and decided against engaging her temper any further. Instead he shifted his attention to Saoirse. “Saoirse Lothbrok. As you have so wisely put, we are here to find peace between our nations. We will follow you to meet your father.”

    “Bheadh Athair bródúil as” Zamir said somewhat dryly patting Saoirse on the back. “Coinnigh mé í gnóthach” He said walking back towards their mother. “Thig liom, in Iúl dúinn linn labhairt linn” He said to Eerika turning her with a hand and the two started walking ahead of the group to the intended meeting place.

    Eerika raised an eyebrow as her son of all people asked to speak with her, but she humored him, walking ahead of the group and keeping pace with Zamir. She would never admit it, but she worried about both her children, and Zamir asking to speak with her alone of all things, given how the relationship between the two of them was… Was worrying. Of course, she didn’t let that show in her tone as she addressed him, “What is it you want Zamir? Is this about your trip?”

    “The trip was good. In fact, I have quite the story to tell.” Zamir said with a smile on his face. The two kept walking until they were a suitable distance from the others, but not so far that if the Azureth decided to try something they wouldn’t be able to react. “So, we set out to trade with the Westerners. We did. They decided that they wanted to trade of our goods as soon as they could. So they set sail a few days after us.” Zamir paused for a bit and smiled to himself. “We met them on the sea, and decided to take back what was ours. So we killed them. We killed them all. It was glorious. The best part of it, we traded our goods to another merchant and did the same again!” Zamir said the last part with a burst of laughter.

    “Oh did you? Now that’s something I can be proud of. Damn westerners don’t need our goods. We earned all of it, what are they going to do with it? Make a coat? You don’t see us needing any of those do ya Zamir?” Eerika laughed and slapped Zamir on the back proudly, “Good work.”

    “You could do with wearing more. Bloody Northerners and your khroí dóiteáin” Zamir said half jokingly.
    The two continued to walk and their idle chatter continued with a few silences falling between them.

    Roan moved to follow Saoirse, walking alongside Lucius while Zamir and Eerika moved somewhat ahead. Roan made sure to stay alert of where Zamir and Eerika were at all times. It made him suspicious to see them keeping their distance and speaking their native language. The walk to the meeting point had gone on for some time with no words spoken except with the Síneach among themselves.
    Suddenly, a strange sensation overcame the ground. In the distance, Roan noticed the ground seemed to move as if by an earthquake. A low menacing sound could be heard in the air as the ground suddenly jarred so abruptly it threatened to knock Roan off his feet. He managed to stay upright, as did Lucius. But he couldn’t help but be surprised, expecting an earthquake.

    Saoirse wasn't bothered by the phenomenon. But the reaction of the Azgeda officials tugged a soft smirk at the corner of her lips. “Don't concern yourselves. It's only my father.”

    Roan was puzzled. He had only seen an ability to cause earthquakes once before. But this was different. This quake was stronger, but shorter. And he could see the effects still moving the land from the direction they had come, moving out toward the edges of the island. “Of course it is.” he chuckled, picking up his pace to catch up to Saoirse. “But why the earthquake?”

    Saoirse shrugged “He is checking on us.” she knew the others would understand Haldors signal.

    “Hmph.” Roan considered this. The explanation was enough for Roan to understand the intention was not aggressive and that the Síneach king had some kind of power to feel his surroundings. He wondered just how detailed such an ability could be. Still, he dropped the subject for the time being.

    ********

    The rest of the walk was rather uneventful. Saoirse led the way into a dense forest. There was no clear path through that Roan could recognize. However their guides seemed to know their way well enough without one, telling Roan that this area was better travelled than it appeared to be. However Roan was somewhat frustrated to admit to himself he had no idea how anyone was able to know their way through this green foggy mess of a landscape. None of the turns Saoirse made seemed to have any distinct landmarks that he could memorize or remember. As they moved deeper in, the ground began to incline to a quite steep level. The journey began to feel more like a hike and Roan could make out the sound of running water getting louder. It felt like they had been moving for hours in completely random directions. As it got darker, at first Roan believed that it was cloudy. However he realized by looking up that it appeared the trees had gotten so thick that the branches were blocking the sunlight from getting through. But soon, as the ground finally levelled and then declined, it made sense as Roan saw glimpses of what appeared to be rock. They were in a cave and somehow Roan had missed when they had entered it. The dull sound of running water had become more of a howl. But as they approached a wall of stone in their path, Saoirse paused. “We are close.” she announced to her companions before she called out to her two family members in her native language. There was a brief exchange between the three of them before Zamir stepped toward a massive boulder in their path. With some effort, the giant man was able to push it aside just enough to reveal an opening.

    The area through the opening was much darker and surrounded by the dense cave walls. Saoirse was used to this, however. She picked up a wooden staff from a holder mounted to the wall next to her. She reached up and touched the tip of the staff, which was set on fire. She handed one of the staffs to Eerika before taking another and igniting it as well. The light of the flame revealed the reflection of an underground river before them and a large boat that was tied to its edge. The water ran downward with the cave, plunging deeper into the earth. Zamir stepped into the boat first and offered a hand to help his sister to follow. Saoirse accepted his help and turned to the Imperials. “Come.”

    As the boulder rolled back into its original position, Roan was grateful for the torchlight. Saoirse carried one of the torches onto the boat while Eerika hung back to keep some light on the shore. From that distance, Roan could still only see very little of their surroundings. It was a claustrophobic and unnerving area befitting savages like the Síneach. He only hoped their journey wouldn’t go much deeper underground. This cavern river running so steeply downward, and the boat before him, gave Roan memories of stories told of the River Styx into the underworld. He steeled his resolve, and stepped into the boat. He felt it rock slightly under his feet as Eerika and Lucius followed.

    Once everyone was on board, Saoirse unwrapped the rope that was looped around the stern. She left it tied on both ends and slowly allowed the rope more slack as the water carried them down past more openings down different paths. Once they had gone as far as they needed, Saoirse stopped their descent by not allowing any more slack on the rope. She wrapped the excess around the stern and used the cool end of her staff to push off of the river floor and move the boat toward the edge. Zamir stood up while Saoirse held the boat still. He made his way to the edge and stepped off the boat. Even with his height, the water close to the bank came up to his chest. He pulled the boat the rest of the way and used another rope to secure it before climbing on to the bank.

    With the boat secure, everyone stepped back onto relatively dry land. This deep, everything was wet which led Roan to believe that this river likely got higher during certain times of the day. They stood on a platform that was diverged by three different openings. Saoirse chose the far left one and the others followed. The sound of rushing water become more like a constant howl at this point. Finally, it seemed their journey was reaching an end. It gradually got lighter and the plantlife returned.

    Saoirse stepped forward and pushed aside the brush to reveal the end of the tunnel. The abrupt change in light caused him to bring up an arm to shield his eyes. This area was much more open and bright, making it easier for Roan to make out his surroundings. The tunnel was made of brick and stone and had large, grand, domed ceilings. There were many openings throughout the area that led into smaller caves or let the light of the noon sun in. Every structure Roan could see was touched by mother nature. Vines covered every grand pillar and the vaulted ceiling was dripping with cascading flowers. Finally, the source of the sound of rushing water was revealed. A river ran along the area above the tunnel and the water fell in at various points of the ceiling creating a mass of cascading waterfalls along the walls, which ran into pools that converged and ran down a river across the opening and out through a cave which ran deeper underground. Roan wondered for a moment if this river connected to the other they had just come from or if it was a different one altogether. Yet, it appeared he would not be able to find out as their Síneach friends led them forward, across a bridge deeper into the tunnel. At the end of the tunnel, Roan could make out a grand staircase illuminated by a pillar of light let in by an opening in the ceiling. The staircase led up to an unexpectedly beautiful structure. It appeared to be the entrance of a castle with marble and glittering white stone that Roan didn’t recognize. It had large windows and appeared to be well taken care of. After such a journey, this was the last thing Roan was expecting would be at the end. These savages had clearly taken care of the hidden castle. He wondered how long such a marvel had been on the island. It was obvious to Roan it was an ancient building evidenced by the architecture and how the nature in its surroundings had grown around it. “Amazing.” Roan looked over his surroundings in awe. “How far underground are we?”

    Roan's reaction sparked some pride in Saoirse. She kept the answer to his question vague before moving on. “Very far.”

    Roan raised an eyebrow, keeping up pace with Saoirse. “How does the sunlight get all the way down here then?”

    “How indeed, Roan Vangard?” Saoirse chose to leave the answer to his question to mystery.

    “Hmph… keep your secrets then.” Roan chuckled. “And just Roan, please. Can you at least tell me what you call this place?”

    “We call it Houl Halla… Howling Halls is what you might say in your language.” She explained. “One of my family’s homes.”

    Eerika beamed with pride at the mention of this particular home, it was among her favorites that she and her family had made their own. “This place, it has a history. A very long history…” She didn’t say much more than that, keeping most of what she knew to herself. “These Halls are a jewel of our people only entered by honored guests. You would do well to remember that.”

    “Certainly, your majesty.” Roan bowed his head to Eerika respectfully.

    Saoirse interrupted the conversation as they neared the front steps. “It's time.”

    The doorway opened and a familiar man walked out to greet them. He was taller than Saoirse but not as much Zamir.

    “Sithric.” Saoirse smiled.
    “Fáilte abhaile,” Sithric addressed Eerika, Saoirse, and Zamir before moving to stand with Zamir.
    The two embraced in a hug and shared a few whispered words. They both laughed before Zamir nodded towards his father's guests. Another sly smile spread across Sithric’s face before saying “The King awaits.” He led the five of them up the steps and held open the massive door to allow the Lothbroks and Azgeda to enter.

    Roan followed the giant people up the steps and into the entrance hall of the castle. Inside was well lit and full of people he didn’t recognize. Similar to the outside, it was a mix of brilliant white stone and cave walls all covered by plantlife. There were a few openings that seemed to lead back into the caves. These openings had intricate designs carved into the stone surrounding them. The room’s ceiling was even taller than that of the outside and it’s very top was adorned with what Roan assumed was a crystal skylight. But he still couldn’t understand how that could be considering how far underground they actually were. The area had been set up for the event with a row of long tables and tapestries across the walls which showed the Lothbrok family seal in the center followed by the crests of the other tribes under their command. Across the left wall was another banner showing a symbol Roan didn’t recognize. It looked to show a flame and Roan assumed it was the symbol of whomever cared for this particular castle.
    Across the room was another set of stairs which led up to four chairs. The middle two were quite large and appeared to be made of bone. The outer two were only slightly smaller. Roan could tell they had been placed in the entrance hall for this particular occasion. Only one was occupied.
    On the left hand middle chair sat the second largest man Roan had ever seen. He could easily have been as tall as Zamir or maybe Newgate. But his sheer mass was easily broader. His eye was slightly narrowed to a frown, The other was covered by a patch and his face had the appearance of having been carved from stone. He wore a bare chest decorated with blue paint and the attire on his lower half appeared to be made out of stone as well and had a carving that had the likeness of a snarling bear. He looked bored with the display in front of him, sitting on the throne leaning on his right elbow and resting his chin on his hand which stroked his beard. He wore no crown. But his presence was enough to confirm it. This was the king.

    Haldor’s eye fell upon his wife, son, daughter, and the maggots they dragged in. As Sithric stepped forward to announce them Haldor slammed a hand down on the rest of his throne which made a loud noise that cut the roar of his visiting subjects. He would not give Zamir’s man the chance to speak. “Eerika.” he spoke first to his wife and held out his hand to her.

    Eerika stepped forward, a smirk on her face as she was finally able to step away from the fools she had been forced to walk all this way with. She approached her husband and placed her much smaller hand in his when he offered it to her. “Haldor. Chuir an geafola díghlas ar ár niníon.-”

    “-Suigh síos. Dún do bhéal.” Haldor interrupted her in a gentler tone than before. Still, he remained hard and stern. He gestured for Eerika to take her place.

    Eerika sighed but nodded, taking her seat beside him. “Tá tú ceart cuirfidh mé in iúl duit níos déanaí.”

    Haldor nodded but ignored her comment. “Saoirse.”

    Zamir stepped forward moving in front of his sister. He brought himself to his full height and simply glared at Haldor. His gaze was met with a harsh scowl as their eyes met.

    A few tense moments passed as unspoken words passed between the two. Seemingly satisfied that his message had been received Zamir gave a slight nod to his mother before turning, patting Saoirse on the shoulder and leaving the hall with Sithric.

    “Athair.” Saoirse moved to stand before her father.

    “Go maith, mac tíre beag.” Haldor stood up and gestured for Saoirse to take her place on the throne on his other side. From one of the ornate cave entrances to the back of the room, Cara trotted out and lay next to Saoirse’s throne. She let out another uneasy growl at the sight of the Imperials but was silenced when Saoirse reached to scratch her ear.

    Roan eyed the wolf that sat next to Saoirse. It was a magnificent beast that stood even taller than some men. He was sure he hadn't seen it's likeness in Azureth and wondered if all creatures on this island were so large. It at least explained the feeling he had earlier of being watched. It was likely she has followed them in the caves or that there were others in the shadows.

    The entrance hall was silent as all eyes fell on Haldor, waiting for him to speak. For the moment, Haldor let the tension linger before he stood up from his throne. He looked on the two small men his enemy had sent. They both carried confidence, even alone surrounded by Síneach warriors. That was at least respectable. The first one was a man he did not recognize. The second stirred anger in the dragon king as soon as he laid eyes on him. This was the Azgeda bastard Malignis who was personally responsible for the soldiers that plagued his shores. His eyes locked on Lucius with contempt. But, he controlled himself. When he spoke the sound of his voice was so low, it could be felt as well as heard.

    “Welcome, Azgeda. I have brought you here to accept your surrender.”
     
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  10. Oath

    Oath King Bitch™

    (Me, Hope, and Taboo Sho.)

    The inside of the castle was even more impressive than the city itself. Roxanne couldn’t help but notice the stark difference between her current surroundings to the village from which she had come. The off smell of the city outside was completely shut out by the walls of the courtyard and the impressive gardens. Ariana and Lilith led her through a doorway between massive marble pillars and through that was a long hallway well lit by windows and mirrors. The walls were lined by fine art and decor even in an area such as this, meant for passage between more important wings. Although admittedly beautiful, Roxanne felt strangely out of place already. It made her feel even more uneasy than before and she kept her distance from the two girls guiding her, keeping her eyes ahead.

    Lilith gazed back at Roxanne for a third time since they began their walk towards her quarters. The girl maintained a somewhat healthy distance from them, and made a point to stare right at their backs. She couldn’t decide whether that was something she wanted to try and amend, or if she should just leave it alone. When in doubt. She thought to herself as she turned to Ariana, “What should we do? She’s acting all lonesome and stuff.”

    Ariana had also been considering her options. She shot Lilith a half smile and intentionally slowed her pace to allow Roxanne to catch up. “So, councilor Omen seems nice. Is he your father?” Ariana tried to make conversation.

    Roxanne scoffed in response to the question, but with a quick glance at Ariana it was clear she was waiting patiently for an answer. “No…” she shook her head, keeping her gaze forward.”...No, he isn’t.” her answer was short and sweet, unsure of what else to say.

    “Oh… it's a shame. We aren't used to seeing people come in so late in life, pardon my curiosity.” Ariana kept up the conversation effortlessly. “So who are your parents then? We're they proud when you were chosen?”

    “I would rather not talk about that.” Roxanne’s patience with the personal questions was wearing thin but as far as she could tell, Ariana’s curiosity was innocent.

    “That's ok. No rush of course.” Ariana led the way to a stairwell “You will have your own apartments here in the castle up these stairs. Should be a huge improvement to whatever dusty wagon you grew up in.”

    “Excuse me?” Roxanne was taken aback. She stopped walking at the base of the stairs, her eyebrow raised slightly.

    “Come on.” Ariana cheerfully reached down and took a hold of Roxanne's arm, pulling her to keep moving. Her hand was promptly shrugged off but the desired effect was reached. Roxanne was moving again but better yet, she had managed to spark an emotion. The rise she got out of the Orcus girl by insulting her childhood home was a clear sign of a weak point in her aloof attitude. “I just mean you're lucky, you know? Everyone knows the Orcus aren't a fortunate clan. You are coming from poverty and now you're basically royalty. I'd be proud if I was your family.”

    Roxanne was being pushed closer to the edge with this girl. But she was still trying to be patient. “You know, I think I can find the rest of the way myself if you just tell me where to go.”

    Lilith sighed and gave a side glare towards Ariana before looking back at Roxanne, “You know what? I just had an idea.” She looked back at her best friend and frowned, “Let’s play the quiet game while we walk the rest of the way, kay?” She turned her gaze back to Roxanne and chuckled, rubbing the back of her head nervously, “forgive her, she kinda doesn’t have a filter. I’m working on it, I promise.”

    Ariana feigned surprise “What? I'm just trying to get to know her is all. Anyway we're close to your rooms.”

    “Hmm.” Roxanne half heartedly responded to what they were saying but mostly retreated back to her original disinterested attitude.”

    Lilith turned back to Roxanne once more with a smile, “My father, the Emperor, wants to meet with you at some point, sooner would probably be better… if you catch my drift. He can get you settled in way better than we ever could. He’s an old man though, so go easy on him.”

    Lilith’s comment failed to stir Roxanne. “Yeah, ok.”

    “Ooookay…” Ariana was happy enough with the interaction for the moment. Either way their time was up. They had reached the rooms reserved for Roxanne and her people. “This is where you will be staying. Your things will be sent up. And an attendant will arrive to show you to the throne room when you're ready.” She waved to Lilith for her to follow as she started to walk away. “See you later, Roxanne.”

    Roxanne ignored the two girls and walked into the room without another word. Her first order of business was to check the door for a lock. Gratefully it was accessible without too much trouble. Finally alone, her mind was left to process the events of the day. As if she had suddenly stepped off the edge of an unseen cliff, she was thrown into everything she had been holding back. She rested her head against the door, striking it with an open palm before turning and slamming her back against it. She brought her hands over her face, fighting to hold herself steady in spite of the fact that she was already falling. Her lungs burned and she realized she was holding her breath but she didn’t care. If that’s what it took to stay above her stupid human emotions then so be it, they could burst. Her eyes were the next to sting as her head got lighter. She allowed herself to slide into a sitting position. As much as she tried to hold it in, her body’s need for air forced her to release in the form of a shaky gasp. She rocked back hard against the door again, keeping her hands balled in front of her eyes she took another breath and held it in. Just one more breath. Then, she would get a hold of herself.

    *****

    Desmond made his way to the throne room. Much like Roxanne, he found the royal home to be a bit too extravagant for his tastes. Still, it was clean which was a nice change from the desert road he had just travelled on. As he approached the throne room he was greeted by two guards who crossed their spears in his path.
    “State your purpose sir.”

    “Desmond Owen, of Orcus. I was instructed to speak with the Emperor upon my arrival here.”

    The guard to Desmond’s left retracted his spear and the right followed suit. The left guard was clearly in charge. He turned to the door and tapped it three times and awaited a response.

    Newgate smiled as he heard the knocks on the door, the ascendant must have finally arrived. “Enter, please.” He responded quickly, before sliding the paperwork he had on Roxanne Sternshade into a side drawer and returning to his throne as the door was opened.

    The guard opened the door and allowed Desmond to walk inside. As he entered, the guard closed the door again. The two of them were alone which struck Desmond as odd. It was normal procedure for the Emperor to be attended by at least one squire but then again, Newgate was building himself a reputation for not following the norm. Either way, Desmond was glad to not have to worry about this particular formality. “Emperor Newgate, sir. I am Desmond Omen of the Orcus clan. I had the pleasure of meeting your daughter at the gate upon my arrival. She told me, though, that you wanted to speak with me yourself.”

    “Yes… I figured you would come alone as well, given your charge’s… situation.” The emperor shook his head and sighed heavily, “Desmond. I need you to tell me why you decided to enter Roxanne into the trials, especially given what the report sent ahead of you both informed me of. To suffer such loss, and then be thrown into this… it can’t be easy on a child so young.”

    Desmond paused. He was expecting this to be the topic, obviously. But it was still an uneasy one. “Yes… I wondered if that would come up. Roxanne was left in my care only recently due to unfortunate circumstances. Given the sensitivity of her… talents… it would be a danger to leave her among mortal caregivers in my clan after the loss of her family. The grieving process for her is dangerous as I’m sure you know as a father of a gifted child yourself.”

    Newgate nodded solemnly, “I am aware of how difficult it is to lose someone close to your heart… My wife passed after giving birth to our daughter, and to this day I still find myself mourning. So to say I understand her pain, is not an understatement.”

    “So hopefully you understand, sire, the choices I was left with. She was set up for a difficult life. One of hardship especially with the state my clan is in already. Even if I was somehow able to find her a new home, few of my people could actually care for her the way she deserves. At least this way, I can care for her myself and make sure she is given a good life- and a long one gods willing your reign is prosperous.” he paused, giving his next statement some thought. “I won’t deny also, this is good for my clan. The Orcus are not doing well, after the reign of Diana Sol. I do what I can to protect my people but as I’m sure you’re aware, your council is insistant upon bringing us back into the alliance. Roxanne’s status in your home guarantees a stable reunion.”

    Emperor Newgate pondered what was said for a moment and shook his head with a sigh, “Desmond, I understand what my council wants. I understand what Diana did, and I understand that this will not be easy to hear I’m sure, but as one of my council, you should know. I aim to amend the trials… Very nearly abolish them actually. I do not want this country to be run on violence, and bloodshed. Look where it has gotten us, look at the Amazons. Look at your clan. The pain caused by all this war is completely unnecessary, and with a little more time and effort, I’m positive I can turn the trials into something less brutal. There need not be a fight to the death, just a test of strength. And not the strength that comes with powers, or abilities, but the strength that comes with the drive to lead, and better this country as a whole. I want you to support it, if you can find it within you to do so.”

    Desmond was shocked by the news, but he smiled. “Your Highness, if you were somehow able to guarantee that Roxanne was able to survive even at the end of her time here that would be even better. She's a good kid. Contrary to what it may look like, I do care about her long term well being. If changing the trial is an option, you have my support.”

    Newgate chuckled, “Just… Newgate is fine. And your support means a lot in these times Desmond, never forget that. The safety of the children, who have yet to live a normal life, is paramount above all. They are the future. And they are brilliant. We must do what we can to ensure their survival, even at the cost of our own lives.”

    Desmond nodded “Of course, sir.” He let out a sigh of relief now that the grim subject was out of the way. “Is there anything else you want to discuss?”

    Putting a hand to his chin, Newgate thought on the question for a moment before responding, “Yes, actually. I sent away the squire who insists on playing bodyguard, as, when she is feeling up to it, I wanted an audience with Roxanne as well. I want her to feel as comfortable as can be, as I know my presence can be… overwhelming. Do you know if she will be willing tonight?”

    Desmond hesitated a moment “Roxanne has had a very long day… I would like to ensure she gets proper rest for now. Would it be acceptable to send word once I've spoken to her on the matter?”

    “Hmm… On the morrow then. I want her to have a proper amount of rest, but she needs to be informed of what she’s going to be doing now that she’s an ascendant, as I’m sure you know. It’s not going to be an easy transition for her, but I want to try and ease her in as much as possible. Also… In regards to what we discussed earlier… I’d rather not give them false hope. That is why not even Lilith knows of my plans to abolish the trials. Keep this between us for now, until I know changes are in our future.”

    “That would be best. Given the nature of some of the clans regarding the Ascension, news like this could bring trouble if it got out too soon.” Desmond confirmed his comprehension of the situation.

    Newgate smiled and nodded. “Very good. Get some rest Desmond, we have a big day tomorrow.”
     
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  11. Taboo Sho

    Taboo Sho Arlert Staff Member Moderator Content Writer

    (Hope and I)

    The first thing Lilith did when they were out of the vicinity of Roxanne’s chambers was glare heatedly at Ariana. “Don’t you think that you were maybe just a tad bit rude? Like seriously, you take brutal honesty to a new level Ari…”

    Ariana shrugged, unphased by Lilith’s judgemental eyes. “I already told you, I want to know more about her.”

    Lilith sighed frustratedly but did not hold her glare for much longer. “I understand wanting to know more about our competition, but you could have eased into it a little more, or you know, not judged her based on the position her clan happens to be in, which isn’t her fault. I don’t know Ari, I trust your judgement with most of this stuff, but I think you went too far with it.”

    “I’m going to do what is necessary for her to show her true self. It’s the only way to know for sure if she will be an ally or an enemy in the long term. Remember the big picture Lilith. I’m trying to protect us, not make friends.”

    Lilith couldn’t help the smile that reached her face at the words her best friend spoke, “Of course… I’ll always support that, and you, you know that. I don’t think she’s going to be an enemy though… I just… have a feeling about her. It’s not like it matters though. No single person in this trial can beat the two of us.”

    “Hmm…” Ariana chuckled “We’ll see.” she brushed her hair back away from her face with her hand. “Anyway she wasn’t entirely innocent either. Don’t pretend you didn’t notice. She’s rude and moody.”

    “I mean… maybe she doesn’t like handshakes? I appreciate you defending me though, my hero.” She teased as she stuck her tongue out at her best friend and laughed.

    “Shut up.” Ariana shoved Lilith before picking up her pace. “Lets get out of here I want to see if word was brought back from Síneach Talún about my father, yet.”

    Lilith laughed even harder at her friend’s reaction, before increasing her pace ever so slightly to keep up. “Pops is fine, I’m sure…”
     
  12. Legendseeker

    Legendseeker OPON Content Writer

    (Colab between Oath and I)

    Kable tore down the street, toast in his mouth and his shirt halfway on. He couldn't believe he was late for his shift again. He rounded a corner and pushed himself back to speed. This had been the 3rd time in the last month he had been late, which wouldn't have been a thing if his roommate/squadmate would actually help keep him on time. As Kable ran down the street, a cart pushed out in front of him. He caught his groin on the side and proceeded to tuck and roll over. He climbed unsteadily on his feet and stumbled forward.


    “By the gods, you ignorant buffoon!” the cart owner shouted, throwing debris at him. Kable ducked out of the way and waved.


    “Sorry, sir!” Kable turned forward and kept going, the gates to the castle grounds finally in sight. He pushed past them, nodding to the other guards. He made his way through the different squads rushing around and was stopped short as a figure broke through and grinned down at him.


    “Well, well. Our little special recruit decided to arrive.” the lieutenant sneered. Kable repressed the urge to vomit from the mans breath.


    “Sorry, sir. I guess I never heard that damn rooster this morning.” Kable tried joking, hoping to ease the gaze directed at him. It did no good.


    “Well, since you decided to arrive late on your own account, that must mean you desire to watch the Corner?” the lieutenant clasped his hand on Kable’s shoulder and squeezed it rather hard.


    Kable suppressed the words forming on his tongue and saluted. “Yes, sir! I was do as you command once I suit up!”


    The lieutenant shrugged. “Dismissed, rodent.” Kable moved past him and felt the guy shoulder check him. Kable stumbled and fell to the ground as the lieutenant laughed and walked off. His face red from rage and embarrassment, Kable picked himself up and made his way to where his equipment was stored. As he put himself together and made his way to his assigned spot, Kable wondered if we would ever be assigned a unit.


    The Corner is a remote section of the castle wall that faces towards where the ocean lies. It was called this because no one would bother trying to circle the entire city just to reach the walls, so it became a dead spot sent for any soldier who was being “punished" at the time. Kable had been sent here a few times, and felt today would be no different.


    I wish I would've brought a pack of cards. He thought as he leaned against the wall overlooking what little there was from that spot. As he watched the city, Kable thought back to when they had received the notice that demanded Kable join with the royal army. He had been excited to do so, because it meant he could finally catch up to his father’s legacy. His father, who had formerly been a general before Kable was even born, was known for his strength and tactics on the field. It was said that when he was at the height of his power, Zandali could even match Newgate in combat. But he retired shortly before Newgate took the throne and since then raised his son to be the best he could be. Kable missed his family more than he could admit, but he was determined to succeed his father's legacy.


    ***


    The day moved on in the city far below Kable’s post and Paige was determined to make the most of it. Beneath the heat of the high noon sun, surrounded by the countless bodies moving about their business, she was reminded of why she rarely visited Sax. It was a beautiful sight from a distance. But inside, it was a hot mess of loud and rude people and the smells that came with them. At night, it was even worse. Though admittedly even Sax had it’s charming corners, they were few and far between when compared to other more palatable regions of Azureth. The merc woman managed to get above the crowd by climbing on top of a building and taking shade behind one of the roof peeks. The building was tall enough for her to have a good vantage point to see the castle walls without being spotted as easily the other way around.


    She sat cross legged, tossing the key she had stolen from the big important councilman earlier. He was lucky stealing from him was all she had done. Paige reminisced on her experience approaching the Orcus man. Everything was going according to plan until suddenly she was overwhelmed by strong feelings of anger and something deeper Paige didn’t recognize in the moment. So much so, Paige had nearly lost her own mind and punched the man straight in the face. She was so startled by it she had turned her gaze only for a moment to locate the source of it and had stupidly tripped right into the man! Luckily, it all worked out in her favor as it made her look so clumsy he hadn’t expected her to be smart enough to have only stolen his purse as a decoy from her real target. As much as she hated the obstacle her empathic abilities could be at times, at least it had it’s benefits occasionally.


    Paige stretched her arms above her head and yawned, considering her next move. Stealing from the Imperial army itself was no small task and if Paige was honest with herself, she could admit the pay for this job wasn’t worth it. But she had her own reasons for deciding to take it on anyway. Mostly because the prospect sounded entertaining, obviously. But deep down, Paige had a feeling this mission would prove valuable to her own personal goals. And she had long ago learned not to ignore a gut feeling. But for now, she would have to wait. Trying to sneak into the barracks at this time of day would be suicide. No, she would wait until the afternoon when the newbies were tired and nearing the end of their shifts. Until then, she would rest and prepare.


    Suddenly, she felt uneasy. There was a presence that entered her immediate area. A hostile one. She felt as though she were being watched. Slowly reaching for her knife, Paige saw movement in her peripheral to the right. But upon turning her head to investigate, she saw nothing but the shadow cast against the building next to her. Her eyes narrowed. But then, she nearly jumped out of her skin when something darted out of the shadows to attack her.
     
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  13. Oath

    Oath King Bitch™

    (Me, Hope, Taboo Sho, Legendseeker)

    Haldor stood tall before Roan and Lucius with his arms crossed and a stern expression. Roan’s eyes narrowed and he stared right back at the barbarian king in disbelief. What surrender? We are here to talk of peace...

    There was a long, intense, silence as the three men stared each other down until Roan finally broke it to inhale and speak. Haldor raised an eyebrow when the Azgeda man responded in a way he was not expecting. Roan’s laughter echoed through the vaulted ceiling of the front hall.

    Eerika’s hands gripped the arms of her throne in rage, but she contained herself enough to not burst out of her seat at the blatant show of disrespect towards her husband. He would deal with the puny man himself, and then, they’d have the last laugh...

    Many in the room were taken aback by the disrespectful response, but none so much as Haldor. This Azgeda was alone, surrounded, and weaponless. Yet he had the liathróidí to laugh? The Dragon King’s facade was broken through. Haldor’s laugh was much louder than Roans and the sight of the two enemies laughing at each other was quite humorous to anyone present.

    More guests of the meeting also broke into laughter over the sheer ridiculousness of the moment but Haldor shut it down with a clap of his hands. He stepped down from the raised throne area and walked toward Roan, towering over the shorter man. “You are brave, Azgeda.” He clapped Roan in the arm and Roan had to brace himself to not be thrown off his feet by the gesture. “I will speak with you. But first, I will speak with your companion.” He once again locked his eyes on Lucius Malignis. “Your army will answer for the damage done to my southern lands.” He addressed Lucius directly. “You and your band of parasites will remove yourselves and go back to Azureth. All of them.”

    Roan frowned, but said nothing. It was clear that Haldor was talking to Lucius at this point. Cutting in would be pushing it, especially after straight up laughing at Haldor. But he knew Lucius would not take kindly to the demand. His orders were to secure the perimeter

    Lucius straightened himself up to his full height. While not nearly reaching eye level with the man, Lucius still cast an intimidating aura. “I assure you, Haldor,” Lucius spoke in a low voice. “that this is not a surrender. What we have done is to ensure a stable and thriving world. Now, if you wish to settle this with fists, I will answer that challenge. But if you want to ensure the survival of your ‘people’, then you will talk with Roan.” Lucius held Haldor’s gaze while waiting for an answer.

    Haldor’s seething countenance was only worsened by Lucius’s insulance. “If it were up to me, moonblood devil, the only peaceful solution between us would be your death. Ba mhaith liom do chorp a thabhairt do mo chuid fir chun éalú a dhéanamh ar do asal. Nuair a rinneadh iad, ba mhaith liom cas a thabhairt dá gcuid capaill...” He broke into his own language to insult Lucius in the worst ways he could think of, his tone deepening with every word.

    “Father…” Saoirse spoke in a low, cautious tone and Cara whimpered slightly.

    Roan understood enough of what was being said to get uncomfortable with where this was going. “Okay! Enough.” He stepped back in between Lucius and Haldor. Lucius felt Roan step in between them and push him off. Lucius wasn't sure what Haldor had spoken, but the tone told him all he needed to know. He tightened his fist and stepped back. “Because I respect you, Roan, I will back off. But if this pathetic excuse for a bottle-fed llama tries anything funny, or any of those bastard Síneach, and I will have someone’s head before the sun sets.”

    Eerika had no choice but to defer to Haldor on this, despite wanting to rip the head off the man’s shoulders, she had more pressing matters to attend to. She turned to Saoirse and placed a firm hand on her shoulder, being higher up due to the placement of the thrones. “Do not worry. We outnumber them. Do not allow your nerves to overwhelm you here, my little phoenix.”

    “It isn't us I'm worried about…” Saoirse mouthed the words to her mother, noting her father's rising temper.

    Eerika turned towards her husband and sighed, putting the pieces together in her head. “You are worried about your father’s temper? Do not be. He is king for a reason. He will not be so inclined to throw caution to the wind in a fit of anger. He will intimidate them, and he will make his presence felt. But he will not lose his cool.”

    “I will warn you once, horse bait. Do not think to threaten my people in my home again.” Haldor stepped back, turning his gaze back to Roan. The tension in the room could be cut with a knife. But he then turned back to Roan. “Your garbage Empire has caused my people great hurt. It has caused me a lot of headaches and cost my people valuable recourses. Your worthless little imp of a general and his men have destroyed my southern coast. Entire clans were eradicated by you and your colonizing bitch of a queen.”

    Roan opened his mouth to speak but Haldor spoke over him. “I UNDERSTAND that this was started under a different ruler. And that your new one wishes for peace. But it doesn’t erase the damage.”

    This time, Roan raised an eyebrow. He waited a few moments to make sure Haldor was finished before he tried to speak again. Once he was sure, he responded. “We can agree the past is ugly. My Emperor has empathy for your losses. We all lost loved ones to the war. It’s not a reality we want to continue for the sake of both of our countries. What are your terms?”

    “My terms are these, Roan Vangard. Your kingdom will pay a sum of 100,000,000 for the damages and compensation for the families of the dead. Every single one of your ships and men will be removed from Síneach Talún within the month.”

    “And?” Roan prompted.

    “A fair trade system will be put in place organized by my daughter, Saoirse. Final say on the terms will be decided by her. And lastly, do you think I am a fool?”

    “Excuse me?”

    “I was present for many of the battles of the past. The name Edouárdos Néapýli does not escape me. Your Emperor, who you call “Newgate” is single handedly responsible for the genocide of the clan Fola Rugadh.” The King’s words sparked controversy and whispers. “From where my wife was raised.”

    This news was enough to raise Eerika from her seat in shock, “Fear céile?!” She looked to Haldor, “An bhfuil sé seo fíor?”

    Haldor ignored his wife’s shock for the moment. “My final term is this: If your piss pot of an emperor has any integrity whatsoever, if he truly wants to talk about peace. He will come here himself and prepare to face the consequences of his war crimes. Until then, there is nothing more to discuss.” he spoke to Roan with the same contempt and disgust as when he addressed Lucius earlier.
     
  14. Akira

    Akira True Lord of Arenas

    (Kai and I)
    Finnan sat in his tent on the stool that was placed in the centre for his would be throne. He could hear the armies outside preparing a feast for the celebrations. Finnan would join them but for now he was in a sullen mood. He’d spent hours thinking about this day running possible outcomes through his mind over and over again. He had of course preempted the worst of the possible outcomes, however he hadn’t been able to prepare for what happened.

    “Damn it” Finnan said as he flung the goblet he’d been drinking from across the tent. It landed with an unsatisfying thud on the soft furs that had been laid out to make a floor. There was a rustling noise as the entrance to the tent opened. “My King” Skerick said as he entered. “Where is Ulric?” Finnan asked his displeasure plain to see. “I will send for him my King” he said with a bow before leaving.
    ‘I have some words for him’ he thought as he stood and began pacing.

    *

    The entrance to the tent opened again and when Finnan turned he was faced with Ulric. Finnan marched up to his friend and moved to start scolding him.

    “Now Finnan! before you say anything, Miena filled me in, I have a very generous weregild put aside for both Gielfs family, his first and the familia of those that fell at my hands.”

    Finnan moved to say something else. “I have arranged positions of some honour for the bereft among the clans far enough apart that they cannot scheme together against us.” Ulric interrupted

    Again Finnan started to speak. “Aodhan has familia ties to the clan and has issued a chieftain's challenge unsurprisingly non have come forth in opposition as I took care of any who could come out on the right side of it, during my blood rage.” He said cutting in again.

    Finnan took a breath in. “I know, I know.” Ulric said again berating himself “One more thing. I know I shouldn’t have been on the meeting ground, I definitely shouldn’t have avoided Miena. I wasn’t thinking straight. I know this wasn’t how we wanted to finish the unification and for that I regret my actions”

    There was a long silence between the two as they stood and faced each other. Ulric watched Finnan’s face for any hint of his mood. Finnan again took a deep breath and let it out in a sigh.

    “As long as you understand” Finnan said a slight smile tugging at his lips. “Well then” He said patting his friend on the shoulder. “Let’s go celebrate”.

    The slight smile was enough for Ulric to know. The built up tension in his neck finally released, everything was fine. “Miena has some celebratory horns ready and waiting; while she does love to torment you when she can, you have to admit she also brews the finest mead”

    *

    The night had fallen but the camp was as lively as it had ever been. Multiple fires were burning with scores of men gathered around feasting and drinking. A bonfire had been lit in the centre of the camp and that is where Ulric, Finnan and their men sat.

    “To the king of the North!” Ulric cheered having drained his second of Miena's finest horns “ Finnian I’m a little bit tipsy”

    “For a man who controls water..” Finnan said and then hiccuped. “You are piss poor at holding your drink” He laughed as he drank that last of his own horn. “Another!” He shouted happily thumping his chest.

    “I hold my drink fine, I'm not the one who fell going uphill and asked if everyone was okay”

    “That!” Finnan said feigning incredulity “Was one time.” he smiled. “Besides. Just shows what a loving leader I am. Looking out for all my people”

    A young woman was making her way around the group refilling mugs and horns.

    “It's been one Hel of task, they doubted us but we have done it, even with your challenges”

    “My challenges?” Finnan asked curiously.

    “We all know your sword is that size for a reason” Ulric said winking at the young woman.

    Finnan roared with laughter. “Says the man who needs to wear boots for an extra inch” He said still laughing.

    “That was a low blow” Ulric said chuckling

    “They have to be with you” The group surrounding the fire burst into a new fit of laughter.

    The laughter died down and a comfortable silence fell between the group, broken by the crackling of the fire, the men and women eating and drinking.

    “Finnan” Skerick said breaking the silence. The men knew he was drunk from the way he addressed the King. He was a warrior who was set in his old ways and would only address Finnan casually when he was far into the cups.

    “Tell us. How is it you and young Ulric met?”

    Finnan drank deep from his horn before turning to Skerick. “Well” he said with a smile. “He tried to kill me”.

    Despite the warmth from the fire, Ulric felt a shiver prickle down his spine; the question alone enough to sober him up. “It was twenty five years ago on this very day” Ulric appreciated the meaning behind Finnan's smile. The cracking embers of the fire was the only sound that pierced the deep silence that had enveloped the previous revelry. “I was setting off for my trial, and sought my mother’s…..” Ulric took a deep breath settling himself “The High Bandraoi’s blessing. She was at the southern temple training our Miena. As I approached, the temple was under attack. I witnessed those southern Scum! Bind and beat her... then the rage took over.”

    The group sat expectantly watching Ulric waiting for him to continue the story. Ulric looked to Finnan to continue as he took a swig of his horn.

    Finnan smiled as all eyes turned to him. He went to drink from his horn and realising it was empty held it up. A young woman came forward to fill it for him. Once filled Finnan held the young woman's arm. He drank the full horn and offered it to her to be refilled again. Once it was filled he sat staring into the fire, remembering.

    “I was on my own trial. Had decided to head South. Arrived in the mainland and saw Bandraoi camp being attacked. When I got there a young man was quite literally tearing the attackers to shreds. He was good, but seemed oblivious to some obvious attacks, I stepped in and helped the young fighter. The southerners were dead and the bandraoi were collecting themselves. I moved to speak to the young fighter when he swung a severed gauntleted arm at me. Nearly cut me in two.” Finnan indicated the scar on his chest. A few murmurs went about the fire. Finnan had long known many liked to speculate how he got his scar.
    “I froze him in place and staunched my own bleeding the same way. Tried to speak reason to him but he wouldn’t answer me. I was about to kill him when a young woman came up and told me what he was. He was the only one I have ever met, and I couldn’t kill him after that, I let him go.” he said with a smile.

    “You my friend are lucky the cold never bothered me, anyway I came round to his ugly mug grinning at me, his chest half ripped open, that crazy gleam in his eye. We searched the temple, my mother… my mother didn’t survive the attack…”. A silence fell among the group. “A toast to the High Bandraoi.” Ulric drained the last of his horn.

    Miena Joined in the last toast “I patched the young sapling of the, well not yet really anything back then, let alone a king up and we all went our separate ways.”

    I didn't see Finnan again until the day of my chieftain's challenge victory but that's a whole other story.”
     
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  15. Oath

    Oath King Bitch™

    (Me and Taboo Sho)

    Haldor noted the look of shock on the face of Roan Vangard. It was clear, the fancy councilman was hoping to keep this little tidbit of information a secret. “Hmph.” The giant man crossed his arms and waited for a response.

    Roan cleared his throat. This was clearly not going as planned. “Most of your demands can be met. But surely you understand that it was a war. Casualties were made on both sides-”

    “Casualties are expected in war, Vangard. The deaths of men and women who chose to enter the battlefield to fight are casualties of war. The Blood Born tribe was wiped out entirely. Women, children, none were spared. THOSE are not ‘casualties,’ councilman, that was a crime of war and I will not suffer my people to entertain ‘peace’ with a coward such as that.” Haldor spoke much more forcefully now.

    Roan was not sure what to say. He remembered the fight Haldor was referring to. But clearly not the same way. “When I arrived on that day, I saw only soldiers among the dead. Newgate did not kill their families.”

    Clearly not convinced, Haldor simply sat on his throne. “Their families were dead at the end of that day. Eerika is the soul survivor. Your Emperor will come himself to answer for this.”

    “And if he does not?”

    As if having hoped Roan would ask, Haldor leaned forward in his throne, bracing an arm against the rest. “Then there will be no peace between us, Azgeda. For how can your Emperor be trusted to fight for a better future if he can not own up to his past? I will rally my armies and we will kill all who remain on our lands. And then, we will take our ships to yours. We will slaughter your men, claim your land, enslave your women and children. I will personally break down your walls and burn your great cities to the ground. Azureth will have a new king by the end of the year and Eerika will add Newgate’s skull to her throne.”

    “Let me make sure I understand how petty you are, plainly, King Haldor.” Roan spoke through gritted teeth. “If my Emperor does not come here alone to face your wrath or that of your wife, you would go as far as to wage war on a nation that has already conquered you?”

    Eerika, still standing from her earlier shocked outburst, glared directly into Roan’s eyes. With a snarl that rivaled that of the wolves her daughter kept with her, she barked out, “Your Emperor destroyed one tribe, and that day Haldor was not there to fight him. You may have bested me, but you have never bested him, and you never will, parasite.”

    Roan paused, having to hold his tongue to not speak more harmful words. He composed himself. “I will send a message to my Emperor with your terms. But your threats have not gone unheard. We will not be bullied. And Azureth is not so easily conquered as the small tribes you collected into your ‘kingdom.’”

    “Of course not.” Haldor stood up, picking up his throne he threw it over Roan and Lucius’s heads to crash and break against the wall behind them. Neither man flinched. “Get out of my sight, parasites. I will give your Emperor one month to decide.”
     
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  16. Legendseeker

    Legendseeker OPON Content Writer

    (Another fabulous colab by Oath and I)


    Hours later, Paige slumped into an alleyway in the afternoon. Her hood was up and she was breathing somewhat heavily, gripping her lower abdomen. How annoying. What even was that thing? As amusing as the surprise visit had been, her attacker certainly didn’t go easy. She made sure she was alone before pulling up her tunic to reveal a lot of blood pouring from her stab wound. She could feel another deep wound on her thigh on the same side. Pulling a vial from a pouch on her belt, she poured it’s contents on the wounds. Her flesh seared in an uncomfortable way that made Paige have to bite her hand to not make a sound before she wrapped both areas with bandage.


    She climbed back up to high ground and glanced at the castle. Good… he didn’t waste all of my time. Making her move for the castle now would still give her time to work on her plan. But it would be risky. The shadow thing had injured her pretty badly, which wasn’t an ideal condition for infiltrating the castle. But Paige was also fairly certain it could have been sent by one of her enemies. And if one of them was able to find her, other enemies would follow. It wasn’t safe to stay in Sax another day. So if she was going to do this mission, it would have to be now.


    *****


    Getting into the castle courtyard wasn’t too hard considering she had a key. She managed to hide her weapons well by carrying sacks of flour and wearing an apron. Being so cute had it’s advantages, the guards were only too eager to accept her cover story of being a kitchen maid. She ran into a tiny bit of trouble when someone recognized her purple eyes from some report. But she talked her way out of the situation.


    One wall down. But the courtyard was far from the end. There was still the inner walls and defenses to worry about. Paige ditched the apron and flour sacks and hid them well, replacing her weapons. Phase two of her plan would be more risky now with her injured leg and hip. But she wasn’t going to back out after getting this far. Getting into the inner wall would be a bit more of a stealth operation. Servants were usually not allowed that far in without specific authority. But Paige had been watching the wall guards schedule for a month. She knew her ideal weak point. Making her way around to the south west corner of the castle wall, Paige prepared to climb. Most likely, there wouldn’t be a guard posted at the top. But even if there was, Paige noticed it was normally only one out there alone. It made sense considering its location. But in the army’s case, it was overconfident strategic laziness that Paige was happy to take advantage of.


    ****


    As she neared the top, she watched carefully for signs that there might be someone there but couldn’t tell for sure. Finally she pushed herself over the top and sat on the edge, her leg wound was certainly not thrilled with the exertion but she ignored the throbbing, gazing across her surroundings only to be met face to face with a rather surprised looking young man. Great… she thought to herself sarcastically before a somewhat sheepish smile took over her expression. “Oh… hi there.”


    ***


    Kable yawned and stretched his arms out as far as he could. As always, it was an uneventful day at the Corner. Kable couldn't wait to be off his shift and back home, possibly beating his roommate at cards since the guy forgot to let Kable know he was leaving. Preoccupied in this thoughts, Kable didn't notice the hand that clasped the end of the wall. Shuffling caused him to turn around and come face to face with one of the most beautiful women he'd ever seen. She turned her purple gaze onto him and smiled at him “Oh… hi there.”


    Kable froze, unsure of what was going on. He peered over the edge of the wall, then back at the woman. “You climbed all the way up here?” he slowly drew his sword and pointed to the ground, motioning for her to get down. Paige remained sitting on the edge, looking pretty amused by how flustered he was. “What could possibly bring you all the way here?” Kable pushed, his brain slowly on high alert.


    Paige’s gamble had paid off. This guard was clearly new and unsure how to react. She giggled a bit “Stand down, soldier. I'll be out of your way in just a minute.” She shot him a mock salute before beginning to attend to her leg wound which she had reopened while climbing. But suddenly she stopped, as if she was listening to something. Her smile was replaced by a look of concern. “Oh no… not this guy again.” She stood up, pulling out a knife, and backed away from the shadows cast by a higher point in the wall next to them.


    “Hey, sir.” She glanced at Kable over her shoulder. “You should probably run.”


    Kable gripped his sword tighter as the woman drew her knife and stepped off the ledge. Before he could move, she turned back and watched a human figure emerge out of the wall. The woman told him to run, which briefly entered his mind before it was pushed away. He stepped beside the woman and held up his weapon. “Sorry miss, but I'm not about to let some fight go down without at least doing something about it.”


    In spite of the immediate danger, Paige shot Kable a coy smile. “Aww, my hero.”


    Kable shrugged “Besides, I need to know why you're here. You ARE intruding, after all.”


    Paige’s smile was replaced with an exaggerated pout. “That’s bor-” she was cut off by the shadow creature leaping in to attack. Paige tried to retaliate but Kable cut in front of her before she could and slashed at it with his blade. However, much to the surprise of both Kable and Paige, the monster was ready. It brought up one hand and caught Kable’s sword as though it were a staff. Then, still holding on to Kable’s sword it fell backwards, dragging Kable with it. It fell through the floor where it melted into what looked like a swarm of insects flying in a long line. When Kable’s body fell into it, it disappeared.


    “What the…” Paige crept forward, looking down at the thing. “Hey, what did you do to that boy? He had nothing to do with whatever it is you want with me. Let him go.”


    She got no response whatsoever. It was as if the monster had left entirely and this swarming black thing was all that there was left. “Hey!” She reached down to investigate the weird mass by touching it. “Don’t ig- WOA”


    As soon as her hand came in contact with it, Paige was suddenly pulled forward into the mass. Just like Kable, she disappeared and the black swarm disappeared with her.


    Paige fell for a noticeable moment before landing on her hands and knees on what felt like hard stone. She could tell the second she opened her eyes that it was dark. But the bricks under her hands looked the same as the ones on the wall she had just climbed. The noise of the city below was gone, though. As though it was the middle of the night. Confused, Paige stood up. A quick glance around was enough for her to conclude that she was on the wall Sax, she hadn’t moved. But the colors were off, it was all dark, and the streets were empty. She still had her knife in her hand but the monster was nowhere to be seen, at least for now. There was only one source of light that seemed to be coming from the sky. Paige looked up and was even more confused than before. For in the sky was a mirror image of the city below her. Only the city in the sky was well lit, as though the sun was high. And there were still people in the streets only they were upside down along with the buildings that were pointed down, mirroring the darker city Paige stood in. Out of curiosity, she strained to look directly above herself to see if there would be a mirror of herself but she saw nothing there. Just the wall that stood empty where she and Kable were one standing. Thinking of Kable, where was he? Hmmm…. Oh! There he is.


    The young soldier was standing against a wall not far from Paige and he had clearly grasped the situation. She could feel his fear and confusion obviously. But even without her abilities, he was wearing his emotions. She sighed. He wasn’t going to be of use at all in that kind of state.


    ****


    Kable fell through the darkness instantly. He had no clue what was even going on. His day had been boring, meaningless. His worst problem had been banging his shin on a cart. Now he was trapped inside some shadowy void with no way out. He stumbled out of the dark and smacked hard into the wall in front of him. He groaned and rolled away, holding his head. After a few seconds, he sat himself up as Paige also appeared through the same hole. Kable picked himself up as she surveyed the area and brushed off his armor as he checked his surroundings for himself. He stood transfixed by the updown city that hovered above him. He could see carts, units of his fellow soldiers, even the shadows from the sun shining on the upside down buildings.


    Kable stumbled back into a wall, his mind racing with what was happening. It couldn't be real. Maybe that woman had managed to poison him before he saw her? Yeah, that's what it was. He had to act fast-


    SLAP! Kable’s head whipped around as Paige slapped him across the cheek. Kable stood there, stunned. He slowly turned to Paige as she folded her arms. “Now, like it or not, this-" she motioned about them “this is real. Whatever pulled us in is going to be after us. Think you can get that adorable head of yours in order and help us get out?”


    Kable nodded as his head began to clear up. Nothing still made sense to him, but that wouldn't change unless they acted fast. “Okay, I guess we don't really have a choice then, huh?”


    Paige smiled “Nope!” She sounded alarmingly too cheerful for the situation. “Now we should find cover until we can think of a plan. Thankfully this castle looks like it is identical to the one up there…. So as a guard you should know your way around, right?” her more cheerful demeanor was back now that his panic was starting to die down.


    Kable gazed back up at the sky, taking in the view. He found the wall where they were at and traced it with his finger. “Sad to say, I don't get put up here THAT often. So my memory is a little foggy. But the more levels we can manage to make it down, the more I'll be able to recognize where we are.” He searched the wall and was able to find the door. Kable swung it open and peered down the staircase, which was lit with green-flamed torches going down the hallway.
     
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  17. Oath

    Oath King Bitch™

    (You thought we were done. You were wrong. Continuation of the collab between myself and Legendseeker)

    Paige gave Kable a slight nudge toward the stairs. “Well, we should get moving then. I don’t want to be caught in the open whenever our friend comes back.” she took one of the torches and waited for Kable to pass. “Lead the way, soldier.” she mocked another salute, in completely wrong form, before following behind him. There was an awkward silence between the two of them for a few moments before Paige broke it. “So…. do you have a name or do you prefer I keep calling you ‘soldier.’”

    “Kable.” he replied, still on edge from before. “And you are… what, some mysterious woman?”

    “Mysterious.” Paige mused, “I like that. But if you must know, it’s Paige…. Wait… Kable as in Zendali?”

    Kable stopped at one of the stair landings. They had arrived at one of the guest room floors, usually reserved for ambassadors and diplomats. But the dark world they were in just gave it an empty, eerie feeling. Kable turned to Paige as she stepped off the stairs rather dramatically by jumping the last ten steps. She landed on her tiptoes, favoring her healthy leg, and spun to face him.

    “Yeah, Zendali is my family name. How do you know that?” he inquired.

    “What was that fun word you used to describe me earlier?” Paige put a finger up to her chin, “Oh yeah… Mystery.” she winked. “I have my ways.” turning, she kept walking down the hall, still speaking “But wow, what a small world. Trapped in… uh… wherever… with the only son of Alaric Zendali! Definitely not what I thought I’d be doing with my day.”

    “So you knew my father?” Kable looked her up and down. “I must admit, you certainly are a little too young for my dad’s tastes…”

    Paige simply smiled about the comment about her age, as though she knew something he didn’t. But she ignored it rather than elaborating. “I think everyone knows who your father is, Kable. But then, I’m sure you get that a lot. Being a famous person’s kid isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.” as they rounded a corner, Paige suddenly froze. She grabbed Kable’s arm and suddenly ducked into a room next to them, creeking the door closed behind them. She put her finger up to her lips, pulling out her knife. She wasn’t sure how good this thing’s hearing was. But she could feel it. It was close, and looking for them. She pulled out her knife, hoping Kable had the sense to do the same.

    Before Kable could answer, he was pulled into a room and Paige told him to be quiet. Kable was starting to understand just who he was dealing with. He silently drew his sword and moved to the side of the door. He placed his back against the wall and listened for any noises. Paige moved to the other side of the door and peered outside the room through a crack in the door.

    “Just what are we dealing with?” Kable asked quietly, his hand aching from gripping his sword.

    Paige put a hand up. For a few moments, she remained silent, frozen, with an expression of concentration. It was as though she was listening for something. When she was satisfied with whatever she was trying to figure out, she relaxed a bit. She kept her knife out but otherwise moved on. She wasn't sure how to answer Kables question. But considering the situation, he was in as much danger as her. So she would be as honest as necessary. “I don't know…” She gazed around the room, noticing it was at a comfortable size and had a bed and dresser. It was probably a guest room. She walked toward the window and cautiously looked outside. “That thing has been annoying me since I got to the castle. I thought it was guarding the royals. You've never seen it in Sax before?”

    Kable shook his head. “No, I've never seen whatever the hell that thing is. If it is a guard, it's the first time I've seen it before. Which means you must be a pretty good threat then.” Kable crossed his arms and actually gave Paige a good look. He wasn't sure what it was, but something about her was off. His father would've probably known what it was. Kable shook off the thought. They were stuck in this mess.

    “Oh geez. You think I look that scary?” Paige laughed. “That's-” as she spoke a shadow washed over her from the window behind. She turned as the feeling of the enemy came back to focus but not until she saw it standing on the window seal outside staring in at them. It walked in through the window as though the glass was not even there and lunged at Paige.

    Paige was still a bit surprised she hadn't able to feel it coming this time. Had it realized that's how she was keeping away from it and blocked her from doing so somehow? The idea seemed impossible. In spite of how fast it was, Paige managed to be faster. She dodged out of its way and tried with her knife. Of course, just as she had learned when she faced it earlier it wouldn't work. Her knife passed through it like it was nothing. But as the creature wheeled around to face her again, Paige looked at the torch in her hand.

    She stabbed the torch forward as the creature moved to attack again. This time, she was met with more success. The fire ignited the monster who let out a high pitched scream. It reached forward a clawed hand and latched on to Paige's leg, digging into her flesh and throwing her over its head into the wall next to Kable. The fire spread across the monsters body and it let go of Paige, momentarily thrashing wildly at her and Kable. Paige tried to push Kable to safety but it would appear some instinct kicked in for him. He put his sword up to try to block the attack as it summoned a weapon to swing at them. Kables block was as ineffective as Paige's knife. The weapon knocked him back into Paige and sent his own weapon tumbling out of his hand. Both of them fell onto the bed, Paige lying on her back with Kable straddling her. Their faces ended up humorously close.

    “Hmm… should have guessed you were a top.” Paige winked before suddenly grabbing Kable and rolling so they would both fall off the bed just as the monsters weapon came down and cut through the mattress where they had just been laying. Paige landed on her knees next to Kable and looked back at their attacker. As it moved forward again, Kable suddenly had an idea. The torch Paige had dropped, still ablaze, was lying on the stone ground next to the window behind him. He grabbed it and threw it onto the mattress. The whole bed was engulfed in green flame.

    Taking advantage- and showing surprising strength for someone her size- Paige fell back to sit and kicked the bed at the monster. The burning bed slid forward and pinned the monster against the opposite wall next to the door. The green flames raged out of control and the monster on the other side angrily thrashed to be free of them.

    Paige looked around. She noticed her pack had fallen off during the fight. It lie next to the door. Unfortunately the door was blocked by the bed, monster, and flames. She wouldn't be able to recollect it and there was only one other way out.

    Paige looked over at Kable and grabbed his hand. For a brief second, Kable’s heart skipped a beat at the touch of her hand. She looked at him and grinned. “Ready to take a leap of faith?”

    “A leap of- WOAH!” Kable felt his entire body seize up as Paige pulled her to the window and launched them both out the window. The creature pulled free of the bed and launched itself at them, swiping a claw towards Kable. He felt a searing pain in his arm as they entered the free fall towards the ground. The earth rushed to fill his vision. He instinctively clenched the hand that held is, his only real connection to his sanity. Just as they were about to hit the ground, the air around them warped and they hit the ground rolling.

    Kable’s arm felt on fire. He rolled himself onto his stomach and pushed himself onto his knees. He took a look around and saw that they were back in their own world, and everyone was beginning to go crazy over the sight of Paige. Kable went to speak to her, when a foot connected with a stomach. The air escaped Kable as he sprawled back. Paige was suddenly on top of him with her leg pressed firmly on his chest. She leaned forward and winked at him, “Follow my lead.” she whispered.

    Straightening herself up, she spat on the ground next to his face. “Like some weak, worthless boy like you could ever defeat me! I always come out on top! Worthless, Imperial do- woa hey you're hurt...”

    Kable felt his restraint pushing to its breaking point. Without thinking about it, he placed both his hands on the leg holding him down on his chest and pushed upward, his arm flaring up. Paige was surprised when Kable flipped them both around and she ended up face down on the ground with her hands behind her. Kable tied them up to the best he could and sat back, breathing heavily. Paige turned her head to Kable. “You know, I usually prefer to dominate my men. But I think I could get used to your style.” By that time, a dozen other soldiers came forward, a couple grabbed Paige up while the rest helped up Kable. Blood ran down his arm and he could feel himself getting weaker from blood loss.

    “Good job!” a slap on the back almost send Kable pitching forward. The hand grabbed his tunic and pulled him back up. He turned to see the lieutenant from before smiling at him. “How the hell did you find this catch? Good work!” Kable, confused, turned to look at Paige. She winked at him as she was drug away and mouthed something that Kable thought said “I'll see you later, cutie.”

    “Come on, kid.” the lieutenant said, placing his arm around Kable. “You need to get to the infirmary. That arm looks torn up, what the hell kind of weapon did she use?” Kable finally took a look at his arm and noticed the long gashes in it and large amount of blood pouring out.

    “I'm not sure,” Kable replied. “But she's dangerous. Someone needs to keep an eye on her.” the lieutenant only nodded as he led Kable away from the castle grounds.
     
  18. Taboo Sho

    Taboo Sho Arlert Staff Member Moderator Content Writer

    (Oath and I)

    It had been several moments since the geafola had been led out. The entrance hall was still a buzz with people discussing what they had just seen. The meeting was over, and now Eerika stood stock still… stunned by what she had heard. Newgate, the man who had single handedly wiped out her tribe, was the Emperor they were intending to make peace with. And to top it all off… Haldor had kept that from her. She turned to him and stared, unable to keep quiet any longer. “How long, Husband. How long have you known?”

    Haldor had stood in silence a few moments, watching his subjects. It had gone according to plan. Eerika’s words interrupted his thoughts. “Not now, woman.”

    Anger filled Eerika’s eyes, her blood boiling as once again, the man who was supposed to be her husband, blew her off like she was yet another of his subjects. “No, Haldor. We will talk… Now.”

    Haldor simply huffed and brushed her off before turning and making his way down a hall to his left.

    Eerika’s anger had reached its limit. She huffed angrily before charging after Haldor, covering as much distance in a sprint as he did at a casual pace. When she caught him, she slammed into him, grabbing his waist and pulling him with her into the nearest room. Once inside she shoved him away, and slammed the door shut before getting as close to his face as she could get. “What the fuck was going on in that brain of yours, Haldor?”

    For such a small person, Eerika had amusing strength. Haldor allowed her tantrum for now. “It was a political strategy. Your reaction needed to be real. Now don’t waste my time any longer. You will have your revenge.” Haldor pushed her off and opened the door to continue walking.

    Eerika’s axe cleaved its way into the path between Haldor and the hallway beyond the door. She would have to remember to repair that for Saoirse later, but for now her anger with her husband took priority. “A political strategy at the expense of your wife? Are you mad? My reaction needn’t be genuine, the foolish geafola intended to keep it secret anyway. Exposing it in front of him would have been just as powerful even had I known.” Eerika growled furiously, as she moved in front of him and stared him down, “What other things have you hidden from me Haldor? What other things have you planned behind my back?”

    Haldor roughly took a hold of Eerika’s shoulders and moved her out of his path by turning to his right, placing her in a corner of the closet sized room in which they stood. He took her chin in his hand, again, somewhat roughly. “Do not think to scold me when you disobeyed me just this morning. You made Saoirse look like a fool.”

    Eerika’s eyes narrowed, and if she could get any angrier, she would have. But this rage, this intensity, this was real. Her frustration with her husband, and his frustration with her was something they had grown accustomed to in the forty years of their marriage. But what he said last, sent her over the edge, “You are the fool, Haldor. That man, Roan Vangard, was one of two people to stand by Edward Newgate the day he annihilated my tribe. The other was Diana Sol. Our daughter is strong, but you sent her alone to negotiate with murderers, knowing the so called “peace seeking emperor” was the one who killed my tribe. No matter which way you look at it Haldor, if they had turned on her, she’d be dead, and that would be blood on your hands. I trust our daughter, but I would never send her off to die like you did.”

    Haldor had reached his limit for Eerika’s nagging. He would not reason with her in this state. “So many years and you still doubt me.” he growled and let go of her, pushing her away “That tongue of yours is your worst feature, wife. Hold it.” he took the axe and handed it back to her “And put your toys away.” with that, he stormed away.

    Eerika roared in fury as Haldor left and she slammed her axe into the ground. With all the anger she felt, and all the frustration she had with her husband, she couldn’t help but sink to her knees and scream. What changed him? What changed her? He picked her out of a crowd, literally and now, forty years later, he storms away without even giving her the time of day, and insults her beloved weaponry as if they were mere children’s playthings. When did things get this way between them. When had she become nothing more than a subject for Haldor Lothbrok to toy with? “Damn you… Haldor.”
     
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  19. Chainless

    Chainless Hero of the Wild

    (Taboo Sho, Hope, Oath and I)

    Zamir had overheard his parents argument. He had honestly been more surprised that it hadn’t come to blows between the pair. He watched as his father stormed passed him, either not noticing him or not deeming it necessary to acknowledge him. Zamir shook his head as he heard the all too familiar scream of his mother followed by her planting one of her weapons into the ground. He thought of going over to her, but decided against it and resumed packing the bag he had been working on.

    Eerika stayed in the room, weapon embedded in the floor, for more than a few moments before ripping it from the ground and placing it upon her back. Leaving the room and heading in the direction Haldor had stormed off in, she noticed another door open, and peaked in only to see her son sitting there packing his things. “Zamir... “ She shook her head and closed the door behind her as she entered. “How long have you been here?”

    “Long enough” Zamir replied not looking up from his work. A silence fell in the room as neither of the two said anything. “I don’t know why you stay with him” he said after a time breaking the silence. He finally pulled himself away from his work and looked at his mother. She was flustered from her outburst and while she tried to soften her look to hide her mood Zamir knew all too well she wasn’t far from anger.

    Sighing and shaking her head in frustration, she stared at the wall, unable to focus with her anger still dying down. “Haldor… Your father is a powerful man, and not one I’d wish to face in battle where our lives are at stake. I could not say for sure who would win, but I would not take the risk when he insists on taking his duties as king over his duties as a father. Someone needs to support you and Saoirse, and your father isn’t making any efforts to do so.” She scowled at the thought and finally turned to make eye contact with her son. “My family means more to me than my place as Queen of the south.”

    Zamir simply looked at his mother. “Two things wrong with what you’ve just said. First, You don’t have to kill the bastard to leave him. Second, and probably the most important. Is that neither Saoirse or myself need you or him to look after or support us. We’ve both earned our place in the world, and we would have done so with, or without you or him at our backs.”

    Eerika simply stared at her son. Her anger draining from her in an instant and being replaced with a deep sadness.

    Waiting for a response Zamir noticed his mothers entire demeanor change. What he said is how he felt, but he couldn’t bring himself to leave her in this way. “Still” he said closing over his pack and standing up. “It was good to know you were always there for us” he put a hand on her shoulder. “Come. Let us go get a drink. We can discuss the many fun ways we could kill that old bastard to make us feel better.”

    It was amazing how much her children’s words could affect her mood so drastically. Despite the arguments and disagreements she did love Haldor. However, she couldn’t help the smirk that reached her face at Zamir’s words and she allowed a chuckle to breathe past her lips, “I think I’ll take you up on that offer.”

    “Good” Zamir said bringing a smile to his face. He turned Eerika around opened the door and walked her out. Once in the hall he rested an arm around her shoulders. “I reckon I’d start with taking the other eye” he said a cheeky grin playing at the corner of his mouth.

    Eerika laughed briefly before punching her son in the side playfully, “Where’s the fun in that? It’s no good if he can’t see all the things we do to him before he goes. No. First, we hit him where it really hurts.” She smirked as she gestured towards the crotch, before allowing herself to laugh again.

    Zamir involuntarily flinched at the imagery. He gave his mother a sideways glance which caused her to laugh more. “This. This will be a fun night” he said with smile.

    ******

    Haldor stormed straight to the office of Saoirse’s home. The room was exactly as he had left it earlier that day. The desk was set up with a map of Azureth and small stone figures to represent different families, tribes, and locations. He hunched over it and said nothing for several moments. After a while, he began to relax a bit.

    “Boy.” he spoke in a low, gruff, tone to the young man standing at the door.

    “Yes, my king?”

    “Get me Saoirse.”

    The man left with a nod of his head. Haldor sat back at the chair and waited, pushing at his closed eyes with his finger and thumb. It had already been a long morning. Unfortunately he didn't have much time to process it as the door crashed back open loudly. He growled, opening his eyes and glaring at the source of the headache worsening noise.

    Saoirse marched into her office in a similar way to her father moments before. The servant followed behind the angry Lothbrok daughter, looking flustered. “My king, Alfa was already on her way in. She would not wait for-”

    “-What the hell was that, father?”

    Haldor grinned at the sight of her. “Leave us.” he spoke to the servant who did as he was instructed. Once the door was closed, Haldor answered Saoirse. “I did what you asked of me, child. I spoke of peace with the tiny soldiers.”

    “Don’t.” Saoirse put her hands on the map in front of Haldor and pushed it at him, spilling the stone figures onto the floor and his lap. “Do not patronize me, bastard. You made it very clear in that room you don't care about peace. And you humiliated mother in the process!”

    Temporarily outraged by his daughter’s violence, Haldor roared. He stood up and threw the desk to the side as though it weighed nothing. It broke against the wall with a sound that shook the room as he advanced on Saoirse. But he collected himself. “The people love Eerika. They needed to know her true feelings toward those people. Not the rage she boasts. The hurt she hides. They would not go to war for an angry queen or an ambitious king. But they would for a grieving ruler, a survivor.”

    Saoirse crossed her arms and stared unflinching at her father's advance. “Why? We don't need war. Father, we can't have war. Why can't you see that? We are left more affected by the last one then they are. We needed this peace treaty.”

    “Bah!” Haldor waved her off and walked over to the larger world map stuck to the wall behind them. “Don’t be soft, daughter. The Síneach have outgrown this island. Their bitch queen Diana Sol reminded me of that much. No, I will provide a better start for your reign. I will conquer nations and you will rule them. This is my legacy.”

    “I told you to cut the shit, father. This isn't about me. It's about you. I don't want other lands.” Saoirse stepped next to Haldor and pointed to their home land. “We need to heal our own. That is the priority.”

    “I’m disappointed in you. You are built for better don’t let yourself be so short sighted.” Haldor took Saoirse’s arm and turned her to face him before putting a hand on her shoulder. “Make no mistake. I will make it up to your mother. And if you still wish it, I will keep my promise if their Emperor follows through with our demands. We just needed an advantage in case peace doesn’t work the way you wanted it to.”

    “In case.” Saoirse repeated cynically, pushing Haldor’s hand away. “It means if you get your way. Do you even intend to let their Emperor live to see beyond the dock?”

    “You don’t have to believe me, now. You only have to learn from me as my chosen oidhre. I will try to do this your way. If you trust me enough to allow me to prepare a back up plan in case it doesn’t work.” Haldor chuckled, Saoirse’s tongue was almost as sharp as her mothers. But her temper was far colder.

    “I will try.” Saoirse was skeptical.

    “Good. Now, I called you here because one more thing must be taken care of for my backup plan.”

    “What do you want me to do?”

    “As you said so fiercely before, we are low on men from stopping the parasites from crossing into the North of our lands. I’d say their self proclaimed king owes us for our protection, wouldn’t you?” Haldor smirked.

    “Okay… now I know you have lost your mind. Did you forget we are in a cold war with the North? I don't think they would be willing to do us any favours.”

    “Ah, but I am not talking about the North and Us. I’m talking about you and Finnan Kergern.”

    “What?” Saoirse couldn’t mask her confusion.

    “You know our family, child. Of all of the Lothbroks you have a certain charm the rest of us lack. All you need to do is convince Kergern to hear us. To unite against the plague that threatens the home of both our kingdom and his if it comes to it.”

    “You want me to go to the North to discuss a second peace treaty against Azureth?”

    Haldor nodded “The peace will be lasting with our own kind regardless of what happens with the Azgeda. But they would be helpful allies in-”

    “In case.” Saoirse once again crossly repeated her father's double meaning.

    “Exactly.” Haldor clapped her on the arm with a proud grin. “I will send you whatever men you need to protect you on your journey.”

    “Men would only slow me down. I would have only one man accompany me.” Saoirse turned toward the door to leave. “I will be on my way in the morning. And apologize to mother!” The door slammed closed behind her.
     
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  20. Hope

    Hope Admin Staff Member Administrator

    (Myself and Oath)

    Roxanne remained sitting in front of the door for several moments, staring around at her surroundings. Her quarters were similar to the extravagance of the rest of the castle. The bed itself could pass for at least the same size as Roxanne’s bedroom at home. There was a connecting living area that Roxanne could tell was connected to several other areas. She slowly untangled herself, stretching her stiff muscles, and stood up. She wandered to distract herself for a while. The apartments were huge and all very smartly decorated. She found a sleeping area for Desmond and a few other members of their entourage she could only assume was their guard detail and servants. The idea kind of churned Roxanne’s stomach. But it appeared she would at least have some level of privacy. There was a door between Roxanne’s living space and his at least. When the door suddenly opened it nearly gave Roxanne a heart attack. She whirled around to face a uniformed person carrying a tray of food.
    “Pardon me, miss. Your father said you needed to eat.” she nudged the tray toward Roxanne before walking over to the table in the living area and placing it down.
    Roxanne just stared at the woman before shaking her head. “He isn’t my father… and thank you.”

    The woman nodded and simply stood next to the chair where she gestured for Roxanne to sit. Roxanne suddenly felt very awkward. “Ummm did you need something?”

    The servant shook her head “No miss.”

    Roxanne cocked her head to the side before she realized what was going on. “Okay…. Um you can go now?”

    The servant bowed and politely saw herself out.

    That was weird… Roxanne was not unfamiliar with the concept of servants obviously. Her clan was not rich compared to Sax, but her home had a few. But it wasn’t the same. She eyed the tray for a few moments, poking at what appeared to be a slab of some kind of weird meat before disregarding it. She had to get out of these rooms and into fresh air. She walked toward the door and opened it only to be met with a servant waiting outside. The young man stood at attention the moment Roxanne met his eyes and asked “Is there anything you need, ma’am?”

    “Some space would be nice…” Roxanne muttered, shaking her head.

    “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that miss.”

    “Um, nothing. Forget I said anything. Sorry” Roxanne waved with an apologetic smile before retreating back into her rooms and closing the door. She looked around and her eyes landed on the window. It was tall, looking more like a door than a window. “Hmmm….” She paced toward it and opened it. Outside the door she saw a rather large balcony. She stepped out onto it and toward the edge. Leaning over she could tell she was a few stories above ground. But the gardens were beneath her. It had tall trees. None as tall as her window. But tall enough to be convenient. She tied her hair back before pushing herself up to stand on the rail that lined the edge. Leaving the door to the balcony open, Roxanne lowered herself down over the other side and started to climb down the wall. It wasn’t far until she was at level with one of the trees, which she managed to move to. The rest of the climb down was way easier from there. Already, in the open, she felt a lot better. Now, hopefully, she could explore in peace.

    *****

    Desmond found his way to his chambers fairly easily. He had been shown the way before the last time he visited Sax. His conversation with the Emperor still played heavily on his mind. But he still wasn’t sure exactly what to make of the news. Newgate was a good man, certainly. But Desmond wondered if his views would prove to be too controversial in the long term. As he got close to his living quarters he decided it might be best to check on Roxanne. He stopped at her door, briefly greeting her guard and servant before tapping her door. “Hey Kid. I just wanted to stop by and see how you’re doing.”

    There was dead silence on the other side of the door. Desmond listened for a moment but when he got no response he turned to the servant that was near. “Is she sleeping?”

    The servant shook his head “No sir. She came out here a few moments ago.”

    Desmond looked puzzled. “Roxanne.” he called as he opened the door and walked into the room. She was nowhere to be seen but her window was wide open. He groaned and turned to the servant “How high up is this room?”

    “A few stories, sir.”

    “Uh-huh. And what is below that window?”

    “The gardens. And beyond that the training hall to the north side.”

    “Thank you.” Desmond took off to find where Roxanne had managed to wander off to.
     
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