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[IC] Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust: Equilibrium


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#1 Solace

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Posted 12 October 2012 - 03:11 AM

QUOTE
After a turbulent end to the century and the dawning of a new era, the years to come seemed to shine light upon the theory of a prosperous and relatively peaceful period of time. However, as we all should know, history is bound to repeat itself if one does not choose to consider the factors from the past. To old Hyperion Lionheart of Zephyr, ruler of the mightiest power in all of Verus, this is a complete misconception. Rumors are just rumors, correct? They infect a population through word of mouth at the tables of wealthy nobility, or around the campfire of a bandit's camp, spreading faster than any disease. The believability in the story told, almost always altered from whence it originally came from, solely relies on personal opinions of the receiver. To some, rumors may be labelled as propaganda and slander. To some, they may be considered the hidden truth from the corrupt order that refuses to facilitate the lives of its so-called "minions." In the end, the choice is simply ours to dictate our own beliefs and view upon the growing dilemma before us.
QUOTE
Year 622, the 354th Day - just two more fateful days before the beginning of the New Year. The Penumbra, the name of the deadliest conflict in the history of Verus where hundreds of thousands combined lost their lives, has been lost in the echo since its aftermath. Though survivors have emphasized the catastrophic effect that it dealt on the six powers, the governments have not released an official statement on the matter while they continue their efforts in the reconstruction of their countries. Excluding the raging civil war happening in Magna Carte between the two major Takeda clans, the Sabers and the Blades, all seemed bright for the future of Verus; until a rumor from an unknown source explodes. Tensions begin to steep between Zephyr and Narcissus, former rivals turned allies, with representatives from both trying to pacify the public and reconcile any differences between the two countries. Of one of these representatives, comes the Crown Prince of Narcissus, the only true son of the past Corrupt Emperor Tyndareus Shadowthorn.


(If you have two characters, I'd recommend splitting them into one of the two arcs (Ren and Milos). Otherwise, choose where you'd like to begin)

"Senator Jai Yair, come to the stand."

Valios "Milos" Shadowthorn was practically trembling in mixed emotions of fear and worry for his uncle. From the raised pillar-like balcony that he sat in, he could feel the intensity in the air of the court meeting already settle. A devious smile formed around the mouth of Tyndareus, flanked by the ten members of the Wyn Council serving as jurors. Azrael, formerly known as the Fourth Archangel, Angel of Death, and his mentor five years ago, loitered against a magically-sealed cell which was bound to the wall by a plethora of locks and chains. Azrael had been imprisoned and revoked of his Archangel title after speaking out against his father when he had been resurrected, which was the reason why they were here again. For a year, he and his uncle had tried to convince Tyndareus and the Wyn Council to free Azrael, but to no avail. The Seven Archangels - Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, Uriel, Selaphiel, Jegudiel, and Barachiel, surrounded the cell with their one-of-a-kind weapons a heartbeat close in case something were to happen. Milos always kept his experimental arquebus, a prototype of a future enhancement in the technology involved in the mechanics of the deadly weapon, near him when he was in the Royal Palace. Anything could happen at any moment, and he would be ready if something did. It had also been one of the few suggestions that he was given by Solerin, the head of the Wyn Council, and it was said that any information from a Wyn was to be listened to. Milos was skeptical on the entire ring of Wyn serving as his father's advisers, he had only seen them and his father few times. It may have been from the fact that Milos traveled out of Narcissus frequently, but they were still quite sinister to him. Silently observing the beauty of a weapon that he was given, he also listened closely as the elderly senator began to speak, seeing a look of content from his father. Today, the air in the palace had felt different than normal. It seemed more constricted and hallow compared to previous times, which raised more questions from him.
"Azrael has clearly done nothing to defame or desecrate the laws of Narcissus, lest we are prosecuting our own people for expressing their own beliefs." And again, a shudder went down Milos' spine. Ever since his father had been brought back alive, anybody who spoke out against him was either imprisoned or even executed privately. Jai had to make sure that what he was saying didn't fit that category, because his life-
Milos bolted upright to the sudden firing of an arquebus, looking all around the court room. Screams from the minor nobles that consisted of lords, high-ranked officers, and senators filled the air as smoke dramatically swept around him. Through it he watched his uncle fall back from the podium, blood erupting from the right side of his neck. It took him a moment to register what had happened - somebody just killed Senator Jai Yair. From what Milos could see, however, was that nobody else in the court room held an arquebus except for him. His weapon had been unloaded the entire time, though, but all of the evidence went directly to him. The smoke billowing around his general area, the angle of which Jai had been hit by the shot, and from the stunned stares of the people below. Milos looked Tyndareus right in the black of his eyes, watching his mouth open to say the words he'd never expect.
"My son, Prince Valios Shadowthorn..." Tyndareus paused, pointing at Milos and warning the crowd. "...committed this act of murder! You shall be put to death!"
Milos did the first thing that his mind enacted: run away from the scene. Jetting down the upper hallway of the palace and into his bedroom, he locked the grand doors behind him. He knew that it wouldn't last long because a Wyn's magic could easily plow through typical locks, but it would save him some time from the guards. Milos quickly scrambled to his balcony, looking out into Atrum and the night sky that loomed above it. With a deep breath, he carefully jumped off of the side and began to climb down the palace walls.
Climbing down the walls wasn't too difficult nor easy, mainly because of the training that he had received from Azrael five years ago to pass the Trial. It relied on most aspects of physical condition, specifically agility and strength. Once Milos reached ground level, he instantly ducked into the shadows. As he had expected, a convoy of guards emerged from the gates of Atrum Castle. A familiar voice, no doubt belonging to an Archangel, chanted out:
"Find the Exiled Prince, bring him to me dead or alive!" He crept behind the walls of a house, keeping to the darkness. As much as he wanted to, he couldn't think about what had just happened; he had to leave Atrum - alive.

_________________________________________________

Ren Kyu Orcus gazed up at the starry sky, resting atop of the roof to his house. Although he'd lived in the village of Astra, Zephyr, for twelve years, not once had he grown old of its beauty. Winter was finally coming to an end, and so was Year 622; a whole 356 Days, gone with the wind just like that. He would be twenty years old when the 213th Day came by, but he knew very well that he wouldn't leave the village. His best friend, Luther Invalesco, would turn nineteen; but retain his mentality of a four year old having a tantrum over nothing. Ren yawned, fully relaxed and tired from the long day of working the farm. Every day was almost the same routine: wake up, eat, train, work, hunt, work, eat, sleep. Rinse and repeat. Without Luther, he didn't know how boring it could get. Things were normal for Ren, sometimes, too normal for him to handle.

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#2 kirant

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Posted 13 October 2012 - 08:50 AM

Parading the streets of Atrum seemed a pointless task. The city pretty much runs itself. With the new year right around the corner, the citizens would be focusing on that and making preparations for celebrations...there would be no time for any civil disobedience.

Or so Karla thought. So far today, she, flanked by two other heavy armour soldiers under her command, had to take down a petty food thief, quell a couple fights, and get one of the recruits back to work. Apparently he thought his job involved free bar visits...it didn't bother her too much though. The work that is. If it was her role, Karla would have disciplined the recruit herself for lying about his whereabouts.

Patrol was a good duty to have though. It was a job reserved for the more experienced soldiers. Greener soldiers got exciting jobs including barrack patrol and prison door guarding. Getting to do real work meant you were heading on up. Plus, if you did a good job with it, you could catch the eye of superiors, right? It did seem silly to walk around in full equipment though - Full armour made it hard enough to move, but adding a shield and a two handed weapon on top of that made it tough to get anywhere. Of all the wrong-doers, the thief was the hardest to catch!

The shift rounding up, Karla ordered the squad back to the barracks so they could be relieved of duty. As they approached, however, a distinct ringing and shouting could be heard. Running towards the barracks, the voices became more distinguishable from the bells being rung. It was a scrambled deployment. After a few hasty minutes, Karla found her field officer.

"Sir."
"Not too long ago, we were given orders by the Atrum Castle to find and return the prince alive. He is needed alive for questioning. The prince is currently evading us and is likely trying to get out of the cities as we speak. I want you to go to the southern gates and cut him off if he tries to leave through there."
"Understood."

Karla repeated the commands for her two squadmates and ran for the gate. The orders seemed pointless to her - The Narcissus Central Army wasn't subtle or fluid in the least. The prince, from what she knew, was well trained and could probably escape unnoticed if he wanted to. But orders were orders...

---

At the border of Crepusculum and Zephyr, Elizabeth decided it was time to find a place to stay for the night. It was a long, but familiar journey, chosen for its well guarded roads and beautiful sights. This was her third time along the same path. Having only been travelling for a year, Elizabeth wanted to know the local region before fanning out her travels further from her hometown. Life wasn't great - The money you earned would come from any odd jobs or the profit you could make from the items you could hold in a backpack and, despite all the work, there were occasional thugs to deal with...but it beat having to deal with all the pressure that came with the huge company she was expected to work with.

In the distance stood a small village. The torches made it much more visible. Elizabeth picked up her pace...she really wanted to find a room to stay quick. The temptation of finding out what happened to Patel in her current read was starting to take over.

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#3 Solace

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Posted 13 October 2012 - 04:30 PM

Milos used the night to his advantage; with his black hooded robe worn, he blended in with the shadows easily. The only thing that stuck out was his arquebus, what with its bayonet-like blade hanging at the end of its barrel. The first thing he had to do was find Gus, an old friend. At this point, Gus was the only person he knew that he could trust in believing him. His head pounded, with questions popping up all over the place: Who killed my uncle? Why was I framed for it? What am I going to do?

Milos crept from house to house, avoiding the patrols extremely cautiously. His friend's' "den" wasn't too far from Atrum Castle, but the city itself was grand scale compared to the other ones. The reason behind it, according to his mother, was that Narcissus had been practically left in shambles by Zephyr during the Penumbra with the same happening for the opposite. But with Tyndareus resurrected, he didn't know what his father was planning. It was something devious, no doubt, but he knew that Verus couldn't handle a second Penumbra.

___________________________________________


A tall, slender yet physically defined man sat by the gates of Astra directing the militia to their positions on the wall. Lucid yet docile purple eyes and sheen black hair with noteworthy strands of gray indicated his older age, but from his physical features, it was no question that he had seen combat in the past - and a lot of it.

Astra was surrounded by a steep wooden wall with a gate that only opened to a lever on the other side in town. All of it had been to increase the security of the village, and since they had been built under his order, there was a dramatic decrease in the presence of bandits. Only the tall man stood on the opposite side of the wall facing the forest to the north, his plethora of weapons at his side if something were to happen. Although everything was pitch black and lightly illuminated by the moon, his eyes pierced through the darkness and caught movement. From below, he saw members of the militia begin to raise their weapons, but he commanded them to do otherwise. The man, taking a spear just in case, began to stride down the road towards the movement.

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#4 Snow

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Posted 13 October 2012 - 05:39 PM

A black haired man walk through the streets of Melinor. A sword hung at his side a bow hung on his back. "God Melinor is boring" he thought. Nothing had happened in days to give Van something to do. He was walking down the city streets patrolling by himself and, as always, nothing was wrong. As he was passing by a merchant stand he overheard 2 people talking about some incident in Narcissus involving the Prince. "Maybe something interesting will finally happen". He suddenly realized what he was hoping for and mentally scolded himself. Night fell and he went to report to his captain. As always his report was the same: No incidents, no crimes. He did however mention the rumors about Narcissus. After his report was submitted he decided to go the woods and hunt. After taking off his military uniform and putting on his black coat he left the city and ran to the forest outside of Melinor. "Maybe I'll find something interesting to do there" he thought.
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#5 SmashedFish

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Posted 13 October 2012 - 07:36 PM

Taikada woke, and instantly regretted it. Gods, sleeping on the ground is terrible, he thought. Of course, he wasn't told upon registering for an advanced mission that they'd set beds for him throughout the countryside, and he didn't expect as much. Speed and stealth were to come above comfort and luxury at all cost; something he would do well to learn as a prospective Nighthawk. Still...
Packing his makeshift bedroll in his backpack, he began walking back to the age-worn dirt road. Upon reaching it, he turned towards his destination, Narcissus. News had arrived just the day before that Prince Valios had murdered an important senator or other, and was wanted dead by Narcissus. Details beyond that had apparently perished with the Nighthawk who first passed the tale down the line, who was killed mid-sentence by what appeared to be poison. As such, the Nighthawks were reluctant to send someone else to gather information, electing instead to post a job for "advanced soldiers looking for a potentially-lethal challenge". That sounded good to him, so he applied and was almost immediately sent off. Second thoughts came only upon waking just now, and the realization that the same was to follow again the next night, and the night after that, and so on... Still, he could- and would- endure. With this under his belt, he was sure to be promoted to the title of Nighthawk.

((Not going to be around until sometime tomorrow evening, so if I miss a good bit of in-story time, he kept walking or something.))

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#6 Solace

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Posted 13 October 2012 - 09:37 PM

When Milos climbed silently through Gus' chimney, he was lucky that it hadn't been lit for years. The night was still young, and dawn would arrive in five hours at the least. A naturally messy miniature warehouse designed worn down from abandonment since the days of the Penumbra, it had become the den for Gus and his ragtag group of thieves. Nobody, even the soldiers, had bothered to search here ever since which made it an effective hiding place, but that was not the case. In his body, the flames of rebellion surged violently through his veins, but in order to lead a full-scale civil war against the Narcissus Empire, he needed loyal fighters and supporters. That was why he was here. Milos lightly moved a set of rusted barrels from a corner to reveal a hidden cellar door, opening it and concealing the entrance as best as he could. A good number of torches lined the walls of the long cellar hallway, leading him to the main room. Piles of straw serving as beds were scattered among the room. As soon as Milos opened his mouth to announce his arrival, he felt the blade of an axe against his neck. He instinctively raised his bladed arquebus to knock the axe from his face, lashing the butt of his weapon against the assailant's presumed face and kicking them to the ground. He didn't see the person, but whoever it was, they hadn't expected any of it. All he saw was a shadow. Milos aimed the arquebus at the shadow's head, with his blade now at their neck until he heard a chuckle erupt from the shadow. "I see ya still got it, my friend!" Gus said, rising into view. He wiped his bleeding forehead and lifted the axe, patting Milos' shoulder with a wide smile. "What brings ye 'ere?"
"I need your help, but you have to trust me." Milos replied, especially serious. More members of Gus' group began to emerge from the shadows, some old associates and some new faces. "Remember my uncle, Senator Jai Yair? He's been assassinated, and I've been framed." He made sure to leave out the part where Tyndareus, his father, had been resurrected because nobody else in Verus knew about it. "I plan on forming a rebellion to challenge the Empire, and I'll need your help."
___________________________________________

Solerin, the head of the Wyn Council, warped messengers to the other five capitals to relay the news. Everything was going as planned.

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#7 kirant

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 08:56 AM

The southern gates of Atrum stood ominously in front of the three soldiers. Incredibly fine condition given its age and the damages caused to the area during the Penumbra. Crawling with guards already, Karla decided it was best to check in with whoever the local superior was.

...But there wasn't one. In all the confusion, the chain of command was utterly severed. Soldiers were being thrown to whatever likely exit looked weakest. The south gate ended up with few high ranking officers and a large contingent of soldiers still dependant on orders from above that weren't there. To make matters worse, the standing orders were contradictory: the prince was ordered dead in some cases, while others were told to capture him alive. Some of the more senior members tried to restore order, but to no avail.

Karla tried to weigh her options. At the gate, it was an obvious disaster. It was likely that the prince, if he really wanted to, could sneak past all the bickering soldiers and anarchy. It would be a dead end to stay here, and obviously capturing the prince, as per her direct orders, would mean a lot likely for other reasons. At the same time, her orders were to stay at the bridge. What's the point of rank if nobody completes their duties? But...the effectiveness of rank was already lost and the prize so tempting...

---

The moonlight on the calm grass was pleasant. The way the dim lighting just barely lit the blades enough to see created a sense of calm and maybe even a bit of a romantic atmosphere for Elizabeth. Nonetheless, the late night and storybook atmosphere was starting to egg her forward now. As she approached, the details of the village became more familiar. The town, like many in the area, was housed by gates. That likely meant there was a town guard at all hours of the day. Being this late at night, that would mean she'd have to explain herself and the arrival at night.

The routine was pretty standard to her at this point: Get noticed by the guards. Undoubtedly, they'd ask her reason for visiting and why it's late. With that out of the way, try to prove that you are what you say you are, and hopefully get granted access.

As she approached, she tried to make sure she didn't look like a threat. This was a bit hard given that she had the same equipment as basically any militia. Not many merchants travel so heavily armed, but at the same time, few travel alone. Elizabeth figured that it'd be easiest to just walk close enough to establish eye contact and waive friendly to the guards to get the conversation going...see where it goes from there.

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#8 Solace

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Posted 16 October 2012 - 12:27 AM

(Been a bit busy, incoming shitty post)
"It's dangerous for a young woman like yourself to be out here so late at night." The man spoke up, lowering his spear in peace. His voice was weary yet resilient from age, full of curiosity. Seeing the guards still holding their weapons, he called for them to resume their patrols atop of the wall. From the looks of the woman, she wasn't armed; he could tell because her apparel fit his description of a merchant. The winter wind blew through the night, causing him to raise a hacking cough. The wretched weather would soon come to an end, though; spring would begin in two days after the New Year. "If you need a place to stay, Astra is always welcome to visitors." The thing was, was that there was no longer an inn located in the town. Most of the establishments had been burnt down in the great fire about twelve years ago, leaving only a number of houses and buildings like general stores and the farmhouses. Astra didn't receive too many visitors, either; nobody wanted to see the charred, smoldering remains of houses. If the woman planned on staying in the town for the night or for some time, she would most likely have to "share" a house with one of the residents.

______________________________________

"... Narcissus has to go down at some point, am I right?" Gus laughed, nodding playfully. Milos kept a serious, straight expression throughout the time he told his story. His friend, though childish and sometimes unbearably ignorant, was the only person he could truly trust at this point. Knowing him, Gus would have come up with a silly name for the rebellion by now, given the way he was smiling. "The Saikan Renegades!" Some of the other thieves present laughed, with Milos shaking his head as he synonymously thanked his friend. But now came the hard part; escaping Atrum. He knew that nobody was as nimble and skilled at scaling walls as he and Gus were, so they had to do it the old-fashioned way - by sneaking out through the gates. It was an idea that came with the high risk of detection, considering the possible increased presence of guards at the gates. If they were smart, that is. It would be easier for Gus and his thieves because they had grown used to sneaking around Atrum for such a long time, but with so many guards, there would be some fighting involved in their escape. As much as Milos didn't want to clash with his own citizens, he realized that he was no longer considered their Prince; he was now an exile. Suddenly, as if he had listened to his thoughts, Gus spoke up. "Hey, Milos." the life in his voice disappeared, replaced with a grim look. "I... I can act as a decoy so that you can es-"
"No! That's not going to happen!"
Milos exploded, astonished by his friend's offer. It was practically a sacrifice, one that he did not wish to carry out. While Gus did look almost identical to Milos, enough to pass on as his brother, it was too much of a radical idea. "We're all going to get out of here, and liberate Narcissus together!"
"You don't understand, lad - if I don't do this, you and I know that it'll be a matter of time 'till they find 'n kill us." Gus shook his head, looking back to his group of thieves while hefting an arquebus from the table and attaching one of his knives to its end. "You'll all follow his commands from now on, got it?" Hesitant at first, the group that had known and trusted in Gus for so many years seemed forced to comply. They all began to collect their belongings, converging around their new leader. Milos couldn't bear to look at Gus as he gave him his black robe and took another one from a rogue. They silently crept through the sewer-like hall of the den, with the group looking back as if saying goodbye to their longtime home. If Milos was right, this passage led them directly into another abandoned house by the gates. There, Gus would exit first and direct attention to himself as he pretended to be Milos and ran into the town with the guards chasing him. Milos and the rogues would then open the gates and run as fast as they could towards the far forests leading southward, and continue moving until they were at least a day's journey away from Atrum.

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#9 SmashedFish

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Posted 16 October 2012 - 03:40 AM

"A room for one, please."
"Very well. Do you have a reservation?"
"I'm afraid not."
"Very well. That'll be..." The old innkeeper named a figure. Taikada accepted without haggling and tipped him by a bit- it was late beyond the time when most would've stopped renting rooms, but the man running this inn was quite reasonable. He then took a seat in the common room. He'd reached Oda at last; he still had a ways to go from the smaller town until reaching Atrum, but he was almost there. What to do once he arrived still escaped him, but as he saw it, that was a night and perhaps half of the next day away at least. Besides, this place had freshly-cooked food and soft beds. May as well get social and see what rumors have made it this far for now. Leaning back in his chair, Taikada took in the noise of the place- raucous laughter, hushed whispers, clinking coins, rolling dice- and sighed. I could get used to this, maybe.

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#10 Solace

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 01:25 AM

(Somebody else should post, otherwise I'll practically be forced to do so. o.o)

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#11 Snow

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 02:07 AM

"Sir, I would like to request a leave--."
"Ah Koraki, good thing you're here, you're being sent to Narcissus. We need someone to investigate what is going on over there. All these rumors, I don't like em'. You leave tomorrow."
"But..." Wait isn't this what he wanted? "...Yes sir!"
"Good man, you are going to find out what happened over there and come back here."

A trip to Narcissus! Just what Van had been hoping for. Something to break his routine, it didn't matter what those rumors said about Narcissus, they had to be better than repeating the same things everyday. He left and kept straight on the road to Narcissus stopping only at night. That first day he slept in the woods far off from the city, the place he felt most at home.
Finally, something exciting to do. he thought.
Climbing up a tree and looking at the stars, he thought about what he had been sent to do.
"Find out what's going on and come back huh...maybe...if I don't find something better to do..."
Lying down on one of the stronger branches, he slowly let sleep take him.
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#12 kirant

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 05:22 AM

(Sorry about that. I had a midterm report due Monday, heavy duty presentation today. My brains is a little fried (as evidenced as I just accidentally killed my post while closing a web page...deleting 10 minutes of typing))

Wandering the streets of Astra, Elizabeth tried to find shelter for the night. On the way in, she had asked one of the guards for a recommendation. Astra was small, so she'd have to find shelter with some local families. This wasn't a huge surprise...small towns generally couldn't support an inn. Having been on the road long enough, she was comfortable with the idea. Generally someone would have a bed to lie in for the night.

Evidently getting into Astra was the easy part. The town was in a pretty bad state...she had passed through the area before, but never really paid great attention to the town in particular. Much of the area was still not repaired...whatever hadn't collapsed since, well, whatever burned it, had stood as hallowed shells of what was before.

After some knocking and polite denials, the night started to tick away. Hope springs eternal, but fatigue takes over. Maybe it would be worth finding a quiet corner to fall asleep in...

--

[No updates for Karla]

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#13 Solace

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 07:27 AM

(It's fine.)

Ren nearly dozed off once more on his rooftop, getting too comfortable. He scratched the back of his head, sitting upwards and looking over Astra. He had remembered moving to the town for the first time twelve years ago, its appearance hadn't truly changed ever since. Luther told him that a freak accident occurred where a practicioner of magic had incorrectly directed his flame spell into one of the buildings, but he was sure that even an apprentice could control a current of fire with ease. Ren was prepared to climb back through an open window and into his room when he heard somebody knock on his door from below. He rolled down the rooftop, buckling his knees as his feet met the ground and made an unexpected entrance before the person.
“Sorry if I startled you.” Ren said, stretching his arms out and hanging them behind his head while addressing the young woman politely. “What do you need, miss?”
_____________________________________

"Stay strong, cousin." Milos patted Gus on the shoulder as the rest of the rogues began to file together after ascending from the cellar hallway's stairway, keeping their movements subtle. They weren't really related at all, but calling someone "cousin" was slang for comrade; it was common throughout Narcissus, notably among the poor. He watched as Gus raised his hood, taking a deep breath. Not once did he look bothered by the plan at all, maybe it paid off to be a criminal; they were accustomed to the constant flow of adrenaline.
“Valios, promise me that y'all get out alive and liberate this damn country – got it?” Gus replied, surprising Milos. It was the first time that he'd heard a person outside of the royal family call him by his real name. Nonetheless he nodded, honoring his friend's wishes and watching as Gus darted out of the abandoned house. Moments later, the sounds of complete pandemonium sounded along with the crackling of an arquebus that echoed off into the night; maybe even reaching the nearby forest and startling the hibernating creatures.
“There's the Prince, get 'im!” Milos heard a number of guards announce, with the sounds of clanking armor following suit. The plan was working. He heard Gus respond in an inaudible voice that seemed more like a growl, another shot from an arquebus going off into the night. When he was sure that Gus had directed all, if not, most of the guards away from their general proximity, Milos led the rogues out of the abandoned house. They kept their dark hoods up and over their faces, blending with the shadows.
“Damn!” Milos said, seeing that not all of the guards had left their post at the gate. He swore that he vaguely recognized one of them, but from this distance and the rate of which his heart was racing, he figured that it didn't matter at this rate. They would need to push right through the little resistence that remained by the gate without generating more commotion. It would be a matter of time when Gus would be cornered and captured. They had to act fast, or his sacrifice would be in vain.
_____________________________________

"Oi, ya 'ere bout whaappened to Prince Milosh?" A particularly loud and drunk commoner blurted about, facing Taikada but speaking to nobody specific. He burped impolitely, too intoxicated to care. "They says he jus' kilt Senator Jai Yair not too lung ago, and dere's a serch worrant out fer 'im!"

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#14 kirant

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 06:13 AM

Elizabeth took a step back. It took her a moment to access the situation.

There's someone in front of her. He was a young man...probably about her age. He had messy hair. In the lighting, it was impossible for her to indentify a colour, but if she were to hazard a guess, it was likely a darker shade. He stood a bit taller than herself. At a quick glance, his eyes spoke to her. The eyes, Elizabeth felt, couldn't hide anything. As a child, her parents could instantly pick out if she was lying just by looking at her. As she got older, she eventually caught on to the ritual and managed to mimic sincerity, joy, and happiness. Maybe it was the inner romantic, but the blonde instantly felt she could trust the stranger in front of her.

Regaining her composure, Elizabeth gave a welcoming smile, greeted the man in front of her on a first name basis, and explained her presence...that she was a wandering merchant, had wanted to stop in Astra for the night but needed to find lodging in a townsfolk's home as there wasn't a conventional location to stay. Knowing full well that most people don't open up their homes for free, Elizabeth upped the ante a little.

"If there's anything I can help out with around your house, I'll see if I can help. I have picked up a few things while travelling...maybe there's a project that I can aid in."

---

Something external to Karla woke her up from her dilemma. It was a gunshot. Driven purely by instinct, she checked her team. Nobody was hurt. Moving down the training proceedure, she then scanned the area. Another team seemed to have noticed something.

"That's the Prince!"
"Get 'im!"
"Move out!"

In the distance stood a solitary figure. It was impossible to tell who it was from the distance, but somebody jumped the gun and decided the figure was undoubtedly the prince, the target. The inexperienced teams broke rank instantly and charged. Even those with superiors standing by couldn't resist and amassed their target. What remained at the gates barely qualified as a picket line...nothing more than a few soldiers with a bit more discipline and experience.

Above, one of the officers, frustrated with calling back troops, began shouting out orders to the remainder.

"Get the ranged teams to the top of the gate and any remaining armoured troops to the choke point. Under no circumstances should the ground team leave the gate."

The orders seemed nonsensical. They needed reinforcements no matter what happened. Additionally, the ranged teams were, from Karla's count, easy to overrun from any reasonably sized attack...they were legitimate sitting ducks. Sending a soldier or two out to call for aid wouldn't hurt. At the same time though, the man calling the shots had legitimate superiority to her. She had no grounds to challenge him. Dropping off her poleaxe in a nearby weapon shack, Karla decided to take her position in the human wall, arming herself with her tower shield and short sword...the situation called for holding off as well as possible.

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#15 SmashedFish

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 06:47 AM

Taikada swallowed his drink, somewhat surprised. In fact, it took an effort to keep from choking. "Killed the senator? And you're sure?" He was vaguely aware that he wasn't being stealthy in the least, but this man was too drunk to remember this the next day as anything odd, or even care if he had. Aware that he had an audience, the man nodded, belched impressively, and continued to stare. "D'you know where he is now?"
"Somwher' south, I herd."
"I see. Thanks."
"Well?"
"Well what?"
"Ya' gon tip me, roight?"
"Tip you? Ah... sure, I suppose. Good luck tomorrow morning." He passed the drunkard some change, hastily snatched from a pocket, and retired to his room. Milos had assassinated Yair? Hm... He was too drunk to bother with falsehoods had he a reason to, but confirmation's too little to return with. I wonder... How about a firsthand account? If Crepusculum can be of assistance to the prince of Narcissus... Somewhere south? I think Atrum's east of here, though I'd need a map... Hmm. Taikada was beginning to develop an idea, but its fermentation would have to wait. After the nights of sleeping outside on the rough ground, the warm blanket and the soft mattress of the inn's bed had him peacefully asleep within moments.

(I'll just wait for the next day, then. Bedtime, guys. :>)

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#16 Solace

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 02:10 AM

Ren listened to Elizabeth's story of her arrival and intentions, nodding contently. He hadn't seen too many travelers enter Astra, let alone, pass by. Efforts at trying to take down or even repair the remains of the fallen houses would take too long because of the lack of able workers, so instead of doing that, the mayor had decided to just leave them there. Luther always appeared to be in some sort of depressive state whenever the two of them came into range with them, and he didn't know why. Maybe there was more to it than he had been told.
"No, no, no; it's fine. We've enough to manage for ourselves." Ren replied, walking past Elizabeth and reaching for the doorknob. He tugged on it for a moment, thinking that he'd locked himself out before the door flew open. Something told him that whatever just happened hadn't been of the norm, but it saved him from pulling off a Luther in front of somebody.
"Our doors are always open to other people, I'm sure my father told you that back at the gates."

_______________________________


Milos chanted to the group of rogues, ordering them to draw their weapons as he did the same and charged to the gates from the right side. The guards, both atop and below the gate, screamed with surprise. From the Northern District of Atrum, he heard even more confusion occur. Him and the rogues had engaged into combat with the gate guards, but fighting wasn't their true objective. It was to push right through once an opening was made, and escape. Milos had been known as one of the best shots in the nation with his arquebus, but since nobody knew of his combat ability, he decided against firing and used the blade attacked to the end of the barrel.

_______________________________


"Look! It's... it's Prince Valios!" a soldier cried out, raising his spear towards the gate.
"Oh, yeah? Who's that, then?" another replied, pointing towards the hooded man also deemed as the Prince.
"That bloke over there is dressed in the same clothes. Could be either of 'em."
Gus fired a stray shot at the group of guards talking, running off into the Eastern District while making sure to attract even more attention. The tactic was successful, because a giant figure encased head to toe in heavy armor stomped onto the balcony of Atrum Castle sounding extremely aggravated. The Central Army's symbol, studded with three silver brands to indicate his rank, radiated an aura of power to also reflect membership of the Archangels. Above, the name "Gabriel" was engraved.
"SIMPLETONS! USE YOUR HEADS!" Gabriel called to the guards, the pupils of his eyes literally a flame. "ONE OF THEM RAN, THE OTHER DID NOT! What does that tell you?"
Nearby soldiers flinched at Gabriel's words, while others continued to scrambled over each other to capture Gus.
"EASY! The one by the gates is trying to buy time for the one who fled into the Eastern District so he can climb the wall!"
"So, er... the one who took off is-"
"The REAL Prince, you idiot, yes! Hie, guards, after him! Put that craven whelp to the sword!"

_______________________________


Some of the guards by the gate had heeded Gabriel's order and ran after Gus, while some stayed behind to combat Milos and the rogues. All of the other forces ceased at nothing to capture Gus now. They had done so because they feared Gabriel, and those who disobeyed him were deemed traitors to the Empire. Milos hacked away at one of the guard's armor, but the blade was only strong enough to make a scratch. A number of the rogues luckily carried axes and heavier swords which penetrated the armor with ease, but most were armed lightly. Some of them, the ones who were shorter and faster than the others, managed to speed past the battle while a hail of arrows followed them. Milos had no intention on killing any guards because they were his fellow countrymen while the rogues seemed to have no issue with that idea, trying his best to avoid the fighting overall until he rammed right into a tower shield. Even from under his hood Milos instantly recognized who the owner of it was, but due to the adrenaline rush of battle, he regained his focus and began to push through.

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#17 kirant

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 06:38 AM

[I've tried to leave the details of the house intentionally vague]
[I've also tried to leave out a lot of details with any fighting at the moment. Not sure what we really want to do for level of graphic detail there. I've assumed a little above PG, but below PG-13 for now]
---

The statement took a second to process. Elizabeth hadn't seen the man guarding the gate given the night conditions. Given that it's a village though, it would make sense that there would be a lot of family ties. She turned her head slightly towards Ren and gave a slight smile.

"Yes he did. He seems like a good man."

The words tugged her heart a little. She was never satisfied with her own home life. The constant tugging and bickering with her parents hurt. As the sole child, she was expected to follow their footsteps as head. Nothing about it felt natural though...the days following mom and dad to work, the unending meetings and discourse, the time lording over people...it all felt so hollow. Home was where the heart is and her heart felt best on the road. But at the same time, family values are extremely important. And the wanderlust in her heart conflicted with the traditional family unit. This moral dilemma struck her a bit as the words came out of her mouth.

Luckily for her morally ill heart, the open door in front of her beckoned to her. Hoping to avoid creating an awkward situation or showing any concerning signs, she walked past the door and walked inside, followed by Ren, keeping her slight smile up the whole time.

The interior looked larger than the walls had indicated. The house was already warmed by a fire, which had been ongoing, so there was no need for any blind grasping for lanterns or candles to light.

Realizing that it would look a bit concerning if she didn't disarm, Elizabeth took off all her weaponry and tried to place it neatly by the door. Something more pressing was in her mind - repayment. She never felt right taking without giving something in return - this basis of economics was drilled into her from the time she was born. Someone was kind enough to offer her refuge for the night, so she had to return with something of similar quality.

"By the way....er..."

How could she have forgotten? All this time, she never asked for a name of the stranger. It seemed the male was alert enough to notice her concern and interrupted.

"Ren"
"By the way Ren, when does your father get back from patrol?"

---

Coming out of the town was a horde. Instinctively, most soldiers took a step back. Many of them had seen enough fights to know this would not end well if the men in front of them decided to attempt a rout. To their dismay, the villagers in front of them did indeed charge. Holding formation, the ranged teams, mostly armed with bows, got a single volley in before the lightly armoured rogues got in close to the wall.

After the initial push, the fight became pure chaos. Very quickly, one of the soldiers seemed to identify their primary target. Yet, it was in complete contradiction to what many of the other soldiers had thought. As if to clear some confusion, an Archangel actually came out to address them. While Karla couldn't hear what he was saying as she was engaged with the attacking rogues, many soldiers seemed to abandon their post...in particular, the ranged teams, who weren't engaged at that time.

Under her breath, Karla starting making notes

"3..."

The fight had a seemingly clear goal: escape. As soon as many of the rogues got within fleeing distance of the guards, they did so. Many of the soldiers were armed in reasonably heavy armour, so they couldn't catch up. It was a bit of a lucky situation for the soldiers, but the lack of formation and men made it difficult to do anything but live.

An opportunity presented itself to Karla. One of her two assigned soldiers was holding off a rogue, engaged in a deadlock. Checking her back and that it was indeed clear, she made a quick dash. It would be a simple attack: hit the chest and any vital organ, and the man is down.

But the vision never became reality. As seemingly quickly as it started, she was on the ground, neither sword nor shield in hand, both knocked out by the sudden unexpected impact. After a quick scan, to get her bearings in order, she figured out what happened: she had been run into. Her instinct pointed her to the culprit, but a clear image was never formed. The man just kept running. Focus soon returned to the matter at hand. And things weren't looking good. The soldier she just had her eyes on was nothing more than a heap on the ground. Evidence suggests he was attacked by a rogue considering the same thing as Karla: an attack of opportunity. And one now had their eyes on the unarmed knight on the ground.

There was no time to be concerned with casualties. Survival was of priority. Feeling the ground for anything, Karla couldn't find her own equipment. Her hand did make contact with a piece of metal though and a quick look ensured her it was a weapon...a large two-handed blade, a weapon she was, luckily, comfortable using. It had a disproportionately short handle for what was considered normal, but she wasn't in any position to be thinking about that: the rogue seemed more interested in her than escaping. Swinging the blade in an arc, she managed to get it between herself and the oncoming target in time with an impact site was around the right lung. After taking a moment to stand herself up, she forced the man off before returning to the aid of the remaining soldiers.

"4..."

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#18 Solace

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 03:38 AM

(I don't have any limitations on graphic detail pertaining to any battles I'm not bothered if I see a post revolving around fighting that emphasizes gore, but for a small clash like this I don't think there'd be too many guts and severed limbs flying around. tongue.gif)

"You could say that he won't be home until the sun rises, though technically, he's rarely been in Astra because of some business." Ren shrugged, now curious as to why his father hadn't been home lately. The longest time that he'd seen him home during the week was for about ten minutes, and that was to tell Ren that he wouldn't be in Astra for the next two days because he had to run an errand. It was odd, just what kind of errand was he carrying out? He knew that his father had once worked a mercenary, but surely he wasn't resuming that lifestyle? Old age always weakened the strong when it came to be, and with his father going on fifty-seven years old, he was a bit worried. Ren led Elizabeth to his father's room, passing by several colorless pictures of his family when they had resided in Tahra. He resisted the urge to glance at the haunting memory, for it pained him to remember. Ren's seven-year old self, holding a childish grin as his father held him and an even younger boy on his shoulders. Another picture was simply a portrait of his mother, a ravishing Sanada woman gently smiling with her hands held together. These were the only two pictures that contained his younger brother and mother, while the rest were just of Ren and his father. Beyond these, a column of clothing and assorted weapons hung on the wall ranging from the simple bronze weaponry to even silver armaments.

"You can sleep in here for the night, my room's up above." Ren turned back to Elizabeth, obviously trying to hide the fact that he was flustered. Even after twelve years had passed, he couldn't get over it; he was sure that nobody would be able to cope with being separated from their mother and sibling. He couldn't imagine the pain that his father must've felt, because what if something had happened to them? Ren bit his lip, leaving the thoughts behind and returning to reality. "Need anything else?"

_____________________________________

"Chyort!" Milos mumbled, just barely dodging the attack from trio of knights preforming the Grand Army's standard pincer attack. He and the rogues were lucky that there were no members of the Narcissus League in the midst of battle, Gus was distracting them. Though he managed to evade any substantial damage being dealt to him, a large cut was present along his upper torso. He wrestled through the three chunks of pure metal, making the last push through the gate defenses before charging out of Atrum and into freedom. Milos beckoned back for the rest of the rogues still caught up in the fighting to push through, watching as they pulled out from the combat. He knew that a number of them had fallen to the guards, honoring their sacrifices as much as Gus' diversion. Arrows and shots landed by his feet, while he heard some of his comrade's bodies hit the ground from behind. Just before he passed the treeline, an arrow slammed into Milos' side and slightly impaired his movement, but he pressed on deeper into the forest. Milos ran and ran for several moments before crumbling to the ground by a tree, with remnants from the group of rogues gathering around him to inspect the wound. The arrow had been no ordinary one; its head was made of obsidian, which was only given to the highly decorated archers. No doubt it was a fearsome weapon, it could kill anything as fast as an arquebus shot. "I- I'm fine..." Milos regulated his breathing, putting his back against the tree and looking at each individual of the surviving rogues.
"We'll take a short rest, but we must move momentarily. Time is of the essence."

_____________________________________

"This... IS THE WRONG PRINCE? NO!" Gabriel shouted, his voice almost loud enough to wake all of Verus from its slumber. Gus, backed against the wall of the building and cornered by the Narcissus League, managed a bloody smile. His body had given out on him after he'd taken so many attacks. He prayed that Milos and the group had escaped Atrum at this time, because everything would have been for nothing if they hadn't.
In spite of his situation, Gus laughed. "Heh... who is the fool now? You'll never win... Milos will save us all... long live freedom!"
"YOU DARE MAKE A FOOL OF ME? KILL HIM! MAKE THIS PRINCE IMPERSONATOR SUFFER!"

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#19 kirant

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 07:17 AM

[Oh, I had no intent of anything bad. I'm going nowhere near 9 Persons 9 Hours 9 Door's "macabre crab" description of ribs jutting out of a body or some of the worst things to read in a dark room...I was just wondering, basically, if I could translate a scene I had planned out for my own work, which involved a little blood. No dismemberment or anything that weird. Just simple depiction of blood, akin to what you'd see in a high fantasy game or show]

---

"No. Thank you again for letting me into your home."

Having seen a lack of need to be in the room, Ren left the room to allow his guest to get settled in. After ensuring that he'd left, Elizabeth unpacked whatever she thought she'd need for the night. Of course, being on the road has the habit of making a mess out of any organizational pattern...there seemed to be a hundred bad ways for things to get undone for every way things were packed initially! This always meant digging through everything to find exactly what was needed.

Luckily the soft items stayed on top...anything that could get crushed or make a mess was protected with wrappings such as cloth. A few small fruits made the majority of that. Right underneath that was one of her mementos from home: a collection album. This wasn't the time to look through it though. It was obvious Ren had problems with the individuals in the photos. It was pretty easy to deduce who the individuals were: parents and relatives. The discomfort he showed in even walking into the room was a concern. It'd be a bit intrusive if he ended up walking in while she was reminiscing and had to talk about a subject so close to Ren's own heart...

After that, what she had been looking for showed itself. Out of the bag came circular disks, lightly browned. Sweets. They were her latest acquisition from the town over. Elizabeth, self admittedly, has a pretty bad sweet tooth and the snacks looked so tasty in the shop. It was pretty tempting to take one, but her mind had already made itself up, much to her stomach's discontent. Sure, she could have tried to make something, but there was limited supplies and whatever she made probably wouldn't compare to a chef's work.

Grabbing one of the cloths that layered the bag, she tied the corners, as to hide the sweets inside, being sure to use one of the nicer cloths. Trying her best to sneak given the circumstances, the makeshift bag was left at the entrance of the house, giving the presence of a welcoming gift, should someone enter.

---

After some long, hectic moments, the battle finally seemed to wind down. The battle ended in a similar manner to how it started: in an absolute mess. Taking a moment to recollect herself, Karla brushed a few strands of her hair to the side to judge the surroundings. A few bodies were thrown around, but far fewer than she suspected. Since the enemies were attempting an escape, they seemed less interested in routing. A quick sense of self-satisfaction came over Karla's mind. It wasn't the prettiest or the best, but she accomplished what she wanted and probably did it far better than anyone else. This was quickly overshadowed though as one of the other soldiers attempted to regroup the remainder, but even that remained a problem. Some of the watch was more interested in extracting revenge, perceived or real, caused by the now fleeing foe. It took a while to rein them in. Many were still somewhere in the town. No word from them as to what could be happening. Compilation of all the facts was taking a while. Looking at the ground yielded a disturbing fact to Karla, something she actively voiced.

"We didn't get him."
"What?"
"We don't have the prince."
"What about that guy who ran into town. Surely he--"

As if on queue, a younger soldier caught up to the de facto organizational heads. The sheer terror painted on his face almost preceded the words, but through the gasping and the mumbled phrases, a quick "e's an imposter!" was audible.

Creating an alarm among the present, division into field teams was attempted quick and fast. It was an unusual strategy, but that was hardly the most concerning act of the day: the small number of experienced soldiers would scour the forests in suspected areas. They would fan out from the gate and attempt to work in thin lines, but would ensure nobody would attempt to run back into the city. This way, a "cleared zone" would emerge emanating from the exited gate. The process was slow and indiscriminate.

Convening with the single survivor under her command, Karla was assigned a head on approach into the forest where the prince was suspected to have gone. Again, unusual orders, given that her armour would make her position obvious and progress slow, but her experience put her and capability placed her among the top candidates of the survivors. Plus, nobody really expected the group to NOT change course once they've hidden, did they?

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#20 Solace

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 12:16 AM

"Move like shadows, and do not fall behind. Watch all sides for activity."
Milos advised the group, propelling himself off the road and into the dense treeline. As much as it pained him, he had to keep the arrow lodged in his side. If he removed it now, it would only deal more pain and result in substantial blood loss. He tightened the robe around his waist in an attempt to lessening the blood loss, effectively lessening the chance of leaving behind a trail of blood which could be used if a scout party was sent after them. He doubted that they would send anyone unless they were regulars of the Narcissus League, who were specially trained and well-fed in contrast to conscripts of the Grand Army, but he expected anything to happen at this point. It was good to have been the Prince, because he'd practically memorized the entire landscape of his country as well as knew the mannerism of Narcissus. His tolerance for pain and physical endurance, perfected during his training for the Trials, were benefactors in his ability to move both silently and briskly in equality. He was almost certain that at the pace he went by, he would reach the city of Oda by dawn. Of course, he was unable to do so, because the rogues were not equally as fast and stealthy as he himself was, so he had to regulate his own pace to ensure that they wouldn't fall behind. He'd recall hearing the furious voice of Gabriel upon discovering Gus, confirming the very consequence he feared: his friend's execution. This itself, along with his unjust sentencing and exile, fueled the flames of rebellion. In his mind, cascaded grand plans of a large-scale revolt. Milos never ceased any progress of reaching Oda, disregarding the arrival of fatigue and pressing forward with the rogues in tow.

_____________________________________


"Lower your weapons!"
A tall and slender official ordered towards the squads of soldiers surrounding Gus, in preparation for killing him. Gus had been too tired and wounded to understand the conversation, clinging against the wall of his corner and blindly firing the arquebus directly at the official. Much to his surprise, the man only raised his index finger and stopped the shot in its trail. He observed it for a moment before flicking it almost effortlessly right back at Gus with so much force that it punctured his vocal cords. Frightened looks on the soldiers faces glanced between the man and Gus came as blood exploded from the sole wound created by the shot, a sly grin creeping from the official's face. It was a shame, he was not planning on getting his hands dirtied from the little fake prince ordeal. The soldiers may have assumed that Gus was now deceased, but the official knew more; all he'd done was wound him to the point where he held onto the cliff of life and death. He waved his hand for the soldiers to return to their posts, observing any of Gus' notable features.

_____________________________________


Ren nodded off, having left the room and climbed up the ladder to his. It felt a bit strange that another person was residing in their house because he'd lived with only his father for such a long time, though technically by himself given his father's prominent activity around Zephyr. He took a deep breath, taking one last look at the moon by his window before laying beneath his blanket and allowing the calm lullaby of sleep to take him away.

_____________________________________


"Damn it to Netheria!" Gabriel thundered, appearing beside the official and pointing at the standard Narcissus emblem radiating a similar yet more powerful aura than his own. Two silver studs were branded right above it, indicating a superior rank. "You may be the Second, Raphael, but those rats are under MY command!"
"The Grandmaster has instructed me specifically to reprimand and deliver this one to him, Gabriel." Raphael murmured, producing a wicked snarl as he mumbled in the inactive Gus' ear. He held no amity towards the Third, let alone any of the others. He had his own plans, and simply enough, they would go his way.
"I'm sure Selaphiel and Master Solerin will enjoy experimenting with their newest catalyst."

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