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Songs of Alvaris 
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...Princess? Had Herlewin heard correctly? By the light. First there was a troupe of unsavory characters, then they turned out to be bandits, then he swooped in to save someone’s life, then a knight riding a wyvern swooped in to save his life, and now there was a princess. Didn’t princesses live in castles? That’s what all the old stories said, anyway. What was one doing being a squire out in the middle of the booni…

Herlewin’s reverie was interrupted by a ludicrous display of agility as the tower of armor hoisted a woman he’d never seen before into a maneuver he’d only ever seen once. That was a reverse eagle’s talonhook swing by the looks of it, and he knew of exactly one axe-juggler this side of Torbica with the combination of strength and suppleness required to pull it off. Attempting such a dangerous maneuver in the middle of a fight was nigh unthinkable: had Herlewin’s jaw not already been agape from sprinting around in circles for the past minute, it certainly would have dropped in response.

The boy’s was apparently not the only response to the woman’s antics, as the squire soon informed him that the axe-wielder’s name was Mitra and the bandits informed him that they needed to work on their one-liners. Stealthing up behind a building as he knocked another arrow to his string, Herlewin aimed for the sword-wielder’s tongue, hoping to shut the man up before he had a chance to say anything else.

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Mon Mar 11, 2019 10:09 pm
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Perhaps it was more like a whiff than a drink. The bandits had given them no time for respite so the knight dared not actually consume the potion just yet. Seeing the quick exchange of thrown axes he figured that Mitra's trick had worked anyways and despite his bright armor he might actually have the advantage of surprise. His warning to this man then would be a quick charge and swing of his own axe, Mitra mentioned he had a wife, perhaps a reminder of his own mortality would leverage him to return to her instead of die in an alleyway today.

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When my eyes be rollin'
The haters get goin'
The seeds I'm sowin'
With a smile I'm flowin'
And if I be trollin'
Ya never be knowin'
'Cause when the haters get goin'
My eyes just start a-rollin'


Wed Mar 13, 2019 4:58 pm
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Mitra was just a hair trigger behind her opponent, her axe leaving her hand nary a fraction of a second after the bandit's had left his. The pair of blades narrowly scraped past each other as each focused down their intended target. As the brigand's francisca closed in, the reaver lazily twisted her torso to one side, allowing it to pass mere inches away from her face. She got a good look at the weapon as it flew, and let out an almost impressed whistle. Mitra's aggressor was less fortunate, the steel of her hatchet biting into him before curving around and returning to her. Each of the combatants caught their respective weapon with little effort. Just an everyday exchange between axe tossers.

With an opportunity to breathe, Mitra took quick note of the new state of the battlefield. The sword-wielding brigand had approached to join the fray. She was now within reach of both bandits. Good. She thought with a smirk. They were in for a nasty surprise. While she couldn't see what was going on on the road beneath her, the telltale sound of armored footfalls informed her that Jax was making his move. The reaver would try to keep the enemy's attention for as long as possible to allow for a successful ambush.

"Mighty fine weapon you've got there!" She shouted, perhaps a bit louder than was necessary. "Shame it wound up in the hands of such an artless lout! Poor thing'll never get to taste blood at this rate. Why don't you let me have it?"

Mitra unsheathed her other hatchet and playfully twirled them both in her hands. "Or at least let me give you some pointers!"

She punctuated the imperative by swinging both of her arms forward, sending a pair of whirling blades toward the bandit. The axes hummed a duet of reverberating steel, the harmonic hymn of battle, as they sliced twin ribbons through air. Each wove around the other in a lethal dance, a murderous performance for an audience of one.


Thu Mar 14, 2019 12:00 pm
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The bandit swordsman was rushing towards Mitra’s location in support of his ally but was stopped by the sudden firing of Herlewin’s arrow as it struck his armoured chest. Surprised, the swordsman was looking in the opposite direction of Jax’s approach to discern from whence the arrow had come. The element of surprise still on his side, Jax’s attack proved to catch the enemy off guard once again and hit its mark. The swordsman yelled out in surprise, more so than in pain, for his armour took the brunt of the damage. Angrily he turned his attention to the knight and was quite surprised to see an Alvarisian knight standing before him.

“By the shade o’ me arse,” he cursed “There weren’t ‘opposed to be no knights” Raising his sword he pointed the blade at Jax threateningly “Oh well, there wern’t be fer much longah” he said with a wicked smirk and a wink. Rushing forward in a rage, the swordsman swung his blade, only to miss the great knight completely, perhaps blinded by his own anger.

Mitra’s battle prowess was a sight to behold, the young woman was truly living up to the memory of the Empress whom she served. The axes both hit their mark, one slashing against his side, and the other against his leg; the fighter’s armour, however, helped to withstand the devastation of these blows. Grunting with each hit, the fighter was quick to spin on his heel and with an angry groan he threw his own axe in retaliation with a burst of strength.

“Ye talk too much, lass!” he barked angrily. Just as Mitra deftly caught her own axes on their return flight, the francisca struck her with considerable force, nearly knocking the battle maiden from her perch.

“Lady Mitra!” called out a voice from above. A shadow fell upon the house as Captain Alborz on his wyvern flew over the young woman’s location and landed in the area between Mitra and the bandit fighter. Turning his attention to the bandit he raised his glaive to strike “You dare lay your hands on a member of the Imperial Court of Alvaris!?” In righteous fury, Captain Alborz spun his glaive rapidly above his head as Ignavus reared upward with a flap of his wings. The captain thrust his glaive forward as Ignavus leaned back down to attack the bandit.

The bandit fighter gritted his teeth after the heavy blow, taking his mind off Mitra for the moment and targeting the knight. Charging ahead the fighter raised his francisca and struck the wyvern knight.

Their weapons drawn, Amelia and Helle made their way to the vicinity. Amelia pursed her lips as he heard Captain Alborz yell out Mitra’s name. She only hoped that her dear friend had not gotten into too much trouble in her absence. She could not handle any more losses, not yet.

Amelia: 42/42
Herlewin: 32/41
Alborz: 43/62
Helle: 32/44
Mitra: 20/42
Jax: 30/42
--------------------
Enemy Swordsman: 35/42
Enemy Fighter: 12/42

Herlewin – Hit! 2 damage
Jax – Hit! 5 damage
Mitra – Hit! 5 damage
Mitra – Hit! 5 damage
Enemy Fighter – Counter! Critical!! 18 damage
Alborz – Critical!! 14 damage
Amelia – Move
Helle – Move
Enemy Swordsman – Miss!
Enemy Fighter – Hit! 10 damage

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Sat Mar 23, 2019 8:02 am
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As the fighter retaliated, Mitra attempted to sidestep his attack once again. As her weight shifted, however, the thatch roof gave way slightly underfoot, enough to cause her to stumble. With the enemy's axe fast approaching, she scarcely had time to do more than move her head out of the way. The reaver let out a hoarse cry as the francisca bit into her shoulder, falling to one knee. Her breathing quickened, and beads of sweat began forming on her face.

"Hah... I see you're a fast learner." Mitra panted, attempting to hide how much damage the blow had really done, but the gravity of the wound wasn't lost on her. Another hit like that would likely spell the end. No matter. She smirked in anticipation as she raised her uninjured arm, the other hanging limply by her side as blood trickled down from her shoulder in small rivulets. The battlefield would never see less than her best effort, regardless of how bad the situation got.

"Lady Mitra!" Uh oh. “You dare lay your hands on a member of the Imperial Court of Alvaris!?”

So much for discretion. The Qulmari lowered her weapon, squinting as she mouthed a silent groan. Already she could feel a headache coming on, and the culprit wasn't blood loss. The reaver had always found Captain Alborz to be a bit of an overwhelming personality at the best of times, and this was not that. Fortunately, it seemed that for the moment he was channeling his overwhelmingness in a productive direction; the enemy's face. Her attention thoroughly torn from the death match she'd been engaged in, Mitra now noticed that quite a bit had been happening at ground level. From her perch she could see that Jax had made his move, and appeared to be receiving assistance from an archer. Perhaps the one Jax had mentioned before. Elsewhere, she saw the approach of Amelia and an unamelia I mean unfamiliar swordswoman. Perhaps also the one Jax had mentioned before.

After thinking for a moment, Mitra slid off of the roof toward the princess and the sword wielding newcomer. Executing a flawless three point landing with only a medium "ouch", she approached them warily, ready to go for her weapon at any moment in case the stranger's intentions shook out to be less than friendly. However, as she drew close, she got a better look at the woman. Noticing the Torbican's muscular build, stoic expression, and numerous scars, Mitra's face belied the grievous blood loss she was suffering by somehow managing to turn red.

"Thank the light you're safe, Your H-" Mitra began as she walked up to Amelia, but was suddenly reminded of the air of anonymity they were supposed to be maintaining. Granted, Alborz had perhaps already tipped their hand, but shadows take her if Mitra was going to let herself be blamed for breaking character. "Uh, your... hair is impeccable today, my acquaintance and generally unnoteworthy fellow traveler Amelia. I apologize for my extended absence, but I was preoccupied. As it happens, I could really use some of that vulnerary I gave you earlier." Though the reaver attempted to keep an even tone, it would be clear to anybody paying attention that her speech was stilted, and that she was intentionally trying not to make eye contact with the swordswoman.


Sat Mar 23, 2019 2:46 pm
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Though his shot appeared to have dealt little damage on its own, Herlewin couldn’t be disappointed; he’d distracted the swordsman long enough for the knightly mountain of metal to make a surprise attack, an impressive feat coming from a fighter so ill-suited for stealth.

The acrobatic axe-wielder, on the other hand, had brought ample attention to herself, and the boy grimaced as the other bandit’s weapon cleaved into her shoulder. He’d seen all forms of intricate knife and axe throws in his time touring the festivals, but never before had he witnessed one loaded with such intent to kill. He doubted the eagle-girl could survive another such strike, but thankfully it seemed she wouldn’t need to; the wyvern knight swooped in from above once more, saving the reaver’s life much as he’d saved Herlewin’s own but a few moments earlier. He’d make a good dramatist, with that sense of timing.

Confident that the dangerous bandit was in the capable hands of the beastrider, Herlewin figured that the best course of action was to continue offering distractions for the walking rampart. Taking a moment to steady his aim, the boy let another shaft fly at the swordsman.

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Sat Mar 23, 2019 4:41 pm
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Befuddled by Jax's biting swing the swordsman couldn't do much but swear. Not as thought they ever did anything else to the knight. Letting the heft of his axe carry him, Jax repositioned around the clumsy man and followed through with another swing. If it wasn't for Mitra's cry he may have given this man the same change he'd given all the other bandits, but in the alleyway with two dangerous foes it was no longer just his armor that might be torn asunder if he gave the light's mercy to his foe.

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When my eyes be rollin'
The haters get goin'
The seeds I'm sowin'
With a smile I'm flowin'
And if I be trollin'
Ya never be knowin'
'Cause when the haters get goin'
My eyes just start a-rollin'


Mon Mar 25, 2019 2:23 pm
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Finally, there was a lull in the fighting, however brief. The bandits in this area had been dealt with, though there were doubtless more still lingering in the village. Helle inspected her sword, but didn't sheathe it yet, taking stock of her injuries. She was still in fighting shape, no need yet to break out a tonic—

Wait. Had the captain just called the redheaded young woman princess? His armor left no doubt of his rank, so he couldn't be lying. Helle blinked, nodding dumbly when the Imperial Princess offered her thanks. How were you supposed to act around royalty? She didn't know how to do that.

Fortunately, questions of polite behavior would have to wait, as the princess, Amelia, called for them to rejoin the fray. Following orders and fighting, that Helle knew how to do.

She eagerly rushed forth, assessing the battlefield she and the princess arrived upon. Two bandits, but one wielded a francisca, worth watching out for. The guardian knight and a Qulmari woman were already fighting, displaying their impressive skill; with the addition of Helle and the others, this would be short work. Seeing the Qulmari woman nearly fall from the roof when the bandit threw his francisca, though, Helle couldn't help but wince. Maybe not that short work.

As the captain landed, yelling something about "Lady Mitra!" and attracting the bandit fighter's attention, the injured Qulmari woman—Mitra, then—came sliding off the roof towards Helle and Amelia, landing skillfully despite her wounds. She held herself like a fighter, initially casting a wary glance at Helle, though she shortly turned her attention to Amelia, turning red, no doubt from the exertion of battle.

Since Mitra seemed to be an ally of Amelia's, Helle allowed her conversation with the princess to fade into the background, instead focusing her attention on how to enter the fight. The bandit fighter had taken a great deal of damage already; the wyvern rider did not need Helle's help finishing it off. Both the archer boy and the guardian knight were already engaging the swordsman. Mulling it over, Helle caught the tail end of Mitra's sentence—"I could really use some of that vulnerary I gave you earlier."

After a moment of thought, Helle pulled out one of the tonics she was carrying and held it out to the Mitra. "Save the vulnerary for later. You've fought well. The rest of us can handle these two while you tend to your wounds." Helle gave the Qulmari woman a respectful nod before she made her way over to the bandit swordsman, intending to catch him with a surprise attack while the archer boy and the guardian knight had him distracted.

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Mon Mar 25, 2019 3:30 pm
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The princess frowned at Mitra’s wounds, the thought of someone attacking her dear friend – someone whom she nearly counted as a sister – brought forth the anger of her mother’s people. The Torbican woman who had accompanied her had offered one of her own tonics to Mitra, it was a noble deed that Amelia found quite admirable. It was a perception much different than what people said about Torbicans when they thought she was not listening in the capital. She only knew her mother, and that was enough to know that the whispers and rumours were all wrong; for her mother was a kind and brave woman. Amelia watched as the severity of Mitra's wounds lessened after she drank the tonic.

“Rest now, Mitra” said Amelia softly “If that useless lump would rejoin us, your wounds would be healed much quicker, but we must make do with what we have” She watched as the warrior swordswoman ran into the battle. “I fear, that we have not yet met the master of these bandits, and I want you to be strong enough for that battle” That having been said, Amelia ran into the battle alongside Captain Alborz.

In a swift motion, Amelia raised her sword and sliced at the enemy fighter who cried out in pain as the sword struck flesh. The princess was not done however, turning on her heel with effortless speed, she slashed once more, her flowing ponytail flowing about like a river of fire as it flew behind her. There was a thud as the fighter collapsed and fell to the ground as blood gargled in his throat. Amelia stood over the body feeling little remorse for the cruel bandits that had attacked this fair village.

“My princess,” spoke Captain Alborz solemnly as he watched the bandit bleed out onto the ground “We have nearly routed the entirety of their forces, but I do believe that the leader of these bandits has taken up residence in that house” He said, nodding his head in the direction from where the two other bandits had come.

“Very well,” she stated while wiping off the blade of her gladius “Let us pay this bandit leader a visit” she said as her eyes narrowed in the direction of the house.

Mitra’s wounding seemed to invigorate and embolden the ragtag team, Young Herlewin loosed two arrows that struck the swordsman. One arrow had plunged itself into his shoulder and the other into his leg. Jax’s assault likewise continued as he raised his axe to strike the swordsman once more. Now surrounding the swordsman, Helle arrived with her sword in tow. Swinging her long sword, Helle was able to wound the bandit further.

“Come on then!” yelled the bandit enraged. Despite his many wounds the bandit continued to stand defiantly “I’ll take the ‘hole lot o’ ye!” He spat blood onto the ground and charged at Helle with his sword, striking the warrior woman with his blade.

Amelia: 42/42
Herlewin: 32/41
Alborz: 43/62
Helle: 25/44
Mitra: 30/42
Jax: 30/42
--------------------
Enemy Swordsman: 19/42
Enemy Fighter: Dead


Mitra – Action. Tonic +10 Health
Amelia – Hit! Double Hit! 7 Damage
Amelia – Hit! 7 Damage
Alborz – Parley
Herlewin – Hit! Double Hit! 2 damage
Herlewin – Hit! 2 damage
Jax – Hit! 5 damage
Helle – Hit! 7 damage
Enemy Swordsman – Hit! 7 damage

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Mon Mar 25, 2019 9:00 pm
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An odd mix of bravery and cowardice propelled these bandits. On the one hand, they were spineless folk that would raze a village of innocents for some vile purpose that Herlewin had yet to grasp. On the other, none of them seemed to have an ounce of fear left in their light-forsaken hearts, even with their allies falling all around them. Herlewin himself would have turned tail long ago; surely no cause could be worth abandoning one’s life, especially since these brigands appeared to have no higher goal than ensuring everyone’s morning was as thoroughly ruined as possible.

The archer’s own sliding scale of courage steadily waxed towards confidence as the squire and swordswoman joined the knights, all rallying together for what he gathered was to be the bandits’ final stand. His urge to head for the hills was definitely still there - Herlewin typically liked to spend beautiful sunkissed days anywhere other than the battlefield - but paradoxically, the thick of it was likely the safest place at the moment. From here, he could keep watch on enemy and ally alike, setting a safe distance from the former while warning the latter should anything unexpected come over the horizon.

There was little else to do now but persevere and steady his aim. As the acrobat knocked yet another arrow to his bowstring, he hoped it’d be the last.
With every hit, the realization set in more and more: it was an awful feeling, shooting people.

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Tue Mar 26, 2019 12:31 pm
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Mitra fought against her instincts as the Torbican woman addressed her. Naturally, what the stranger was suggesting was unacceptable, and under normal circumstances, the reaver's rebuttal would have been swift and terse. Now, though, her pulse betrayed her, quickening its pace as the swordswoman spoke. It was as if her heart was conspiring to pump the blood out of her body as quickly as possible. While her sense of duty demanded that she object to the idea of sitting out, she couldn't bring herself to do so. Instead, she took a single conservative sip from the tonic she'd been given. Before long, she could feel the wound on her shoulder lessen in severity, as if being sown together by unseen hands.

"T-thank you." Mitra said as she lowered the bottle. It was all she could think to say. Apparently satisfied with the exchange, the Torbican moved to engage the enemy. Mitra watched her go, her brow furrowing. Her mind drifted to a different time, to before before Prince Aiden had been born. Before the Empress had died. For some reason, this woman reminded her so much of the departed monarch. It was as if Ingrid herself had appeared to command that she rest, as she had always done.

“Rest now, Mitra.” Amelia's voice jarred the young woman from her reverie. “If that useless lump would rejoin us, your wounds would be healed much quicker, but we must make do with what we have. I fear, that we have not yet met the master of these bandits, and I want you to be strong enough for that battle”

"Right." The reaver nodded vacantly, then watched as her allies, old and new, entered the fray once again. She gave a whistle as Amelia made short work of the fighter that had given her so much trouble, flattered to have been avenged so thoroughly. Their forces now far outnumbering the bandits' own, Mitra felt a bit more comfortable relaxing. As the fight shifted to focus on the lone swordsman, she crept up to where the axe user had fallen and nonchalantly plucked the francisca from where it had fallen. In their rush to leave the palace, she and Amelia hadn't had time to procure quality armaments, so this was a very lucky find. She grinned wickedly as she turned it over in her hand, then found a spot on the ground to sit, a safe pace away from the sword-wielding brigand. Unless her participation proved necessary, she would just enjoy the show.


Sat Mar 30, 2019 3:09 pm
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The swordsman was resilient if nothing else. He was now assaulted on all sides by Jax and the two townsfolk he mentioned to Mitra. The bow wielding boy and a swordswoman that seemed to surpass the bandit in skill. His friend already lay dead, slain by the captain and the princess. It only took a moment before Mitra too came to her princess's side. Or at least it seemed that way for a moment. In actuality she was looting the bandit's axe. While not exactly tactful the knight couldn't disagree with the thought, the francisca was of surprising quality for a mere bandit, and they'd need all the extra help they could get when it came to the future safety of the royal children.

While distracted for a mere moment worried about his companions the swordsman had already taken advantage of the lapse and struck the Torbician woman. It wasn't a terrible strike but any strike was too much. Hot on his heels, stride for stride, the knight chased the bandit intent on driving an axe into his back if the bandit would be so foolish to turn it and strike a woman instead of facing him. "Don't think you can turn away, I'm your opponent coward!" Jax furiously roared.

_________________
When my eyes be rollin'
The haters get goin'
The seeds I'm sowin'
With a smile I'm flowin'
And if I be trollin'
Ya never be knowin'
'Cause when the haters get goin'
My eyes just start a-rollin'


Sun Mar 31, 2019 7:29 pm
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The horror of combat stirred something within the boy. Perhaps it was his will for it all to be over, or maybe something much deeper within. A particular strength flew with this arrow as it soared through the air and struck the enemy swordsman. It struck the bandit’s arm as he bore down upon the Torbican swordswoman.

In truth, he was a fool to turn his back on the guardian knight, for he had left himself open to attack. The axe struck the enemy swordsman hitting his mark perfectly. In the time that he had before the swordsman could turn and attack him, the guardian knight mustered up all the celerity within himself to strike once more. It was with this sudden burst of energy, that Sir Jax felt a great strength well up within himself as he struck his enemy with considerable force. The swordsman did not have time to respond, for he had already collapsed to the ground dead.

Amelia: 42/42
Herlewin: 32/41
Alborz: 43/62
Helle: 25/44
Mitra: 30.42
Jax: 30/42
-------------------------------
Enemy Swordsman: Dead

Mitra – Pass
Herlewin – Critical! 4 damage
Jax – Hit! Double Hit! 5 damage
Jax – Critical! 10 damage
Helle – Pass
Amelia – Pass
Alborz – Pass


Right on time, the assassin stepped out from the house she had taken over with a look of disinterest as she scanned the group before her. That is, until she noted the presence of Amelia.

“Well, well, well,” purred the assassin “I came here looking for the prince, and found the princess instead. Not quite the prize I was asking for, but I’ll take it.”

“You will take nothing!” yelled Amelia, angrily.

“Feisty,” smiled the assassin “I like it…” she said while playing with her dagger.

“You will not take another step!” snapped Captain Alborz, while Jax and Mitra stood defensively in front of the princess.

“What are you going to do about it, my lord?” She added the title mockingly.

“GRAH!” Exclaimed the knight, rushing forward on the back of his golden wyvern. His glaive raised above his head, he swung downwards, clashing in turn with the blade of the assassin. The assassin leapt backwards, twisting as she rushed forwards, sparks clanging off their weapons as his glaive crashed with her sword once more. Ignavus swung his tail at the assassin, catching her off guard as it struck her side.

“Retched beast!” she hissed, thrusting forward with her blade, while Captain Alborz pulled back on his reins causing the wyvern to rear backwards away from the attack. He trust his glaive forward, catching her by the shoulder and she immediately withdrew. Panting heavily, she groaned as she thrust toward the wyvern, her eyes glinting with malevolence as she quickly altered her path and struck Captain Alborz’s side as he opened his guard.

Ignavus took flight, hovering just slightly off the ground, rushing forward toward the woman while Captain Alborz aimed his glaive at the woman’s torso. She was fast, but the wyvern knight and his wyvern were faster in that moment. The assassin had spun to attack with her blade, but in doing so, was met with the glaive of the knight. She gasped in surprise and then gasped once more as the glaive was pulled from her body. It was over.

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GM: Victory for Alvaris!

The assassin fallen, for the first time in months, Princess Amelia felt like she could breathe. Leading the group, she returned to the inn, her heart beating as she approached the door with hesitation. Taking a breath, Amelia knocked firmly on the wooden door and was met with silence. She could hear shuffling from behind the door shortly followed by a sharp:

“Stay back! Who goes there?!”

“It’s me, Mistress Joyce,” spoke up Captain Alborz in a confident voice. Once again, all they could hear was shuffling behind the door and the sound of furniture being moved about. Eventually, the door was opened hesitantly as Mistress Joyce peered out. Seeing Captain Alborz and the Torbican woman, who had won the bet earlier that day, she opened the door with relief. As the door was opened, Prince Tobias pushed past the innkeeper into the daylight, and froze as he saw his sister standing before him. He blinked for a few moments, as if in disbelief, as he reached out to her. Simultaneously, Amelia ran forward and embraced her younger brother.

“What are you doing here ‘Melia?” asked Tobias, still in disbelief. Although he had left the palace of his own volition, and he enjoyed the company of Captain Alborz, he could not deny that he had been feeling homesick on his journey. The sight of his sister filled his heart with happiness at seeing his closest sibling for the first time in a very long time.

“Toby,” began Amelia, her voice nearly cracking as her eyes welled up with tears. “Matty, he’s-” a pressure built up in her chest as the reality of their situation grew in her heart. She had lost her mother, then her father, and now her older brother; it was too much. “He’s dead, Toby. Matt was killed.”

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Tobias froze, and his eyes widened in shock as he pulled away from his sister’s embrace.

“What?” he asked, not believing his ears, his heart beginning to race. “What do you mean? Why would anyone? He can’t be! You’re lying!!” The young prince’s body began to quiver and shake as he fell to the ground on his knees. “Not Matty!! No!! It’s not fair! Why must we lose everyone?!” He sobbed as Amelia crouched and wrapped her arms around him in an attempt to console the young prince. How quickly his mood had changed, in one moment swelling with joy and the next broken into pieces. He couldn’t imagine a world without his brother – even if he was a bit overbearing and a stick-in-the-mud sometimes, and now he was gone.

Pulling away from her brother, Amelia held him by his shoulders to have him look into her eyes. She wiped away his tears with her thumbs and pulled him to his feet while hastily wiping her own tears on the backs of her sleeves.

“Those bandits,” she said solemnly “They came here for you.”

“What do they want with me?” asked Tobias, then he shortly realized the answer to his own question. According to the Imperial Law of Alvaris, as the eldest male heir of the imperial bloodline, he was next in line to be emperor. Immediately, he began to panic. He had never expected this to befall him. He was far from prepared to rule a province, let alone the entirety of the Alvarisian Empire.
“Then we should return to the capital, I suppose,” he said, mustering up as much courage as he could in the moment.

“No,” replied Amelia “That is why Mitra, Sir Jax and I are here.” Tobias’ eyes lit up as he realized that Mitra was also there with them. She was not a sister by blood, but after his mother had taken her in, Tobias had come to see her as one. Her presence was a comforting one in this time of emotional turmoil that he currently felt.

“There is treachery afoot in the imperial court” continued Amelia “I was told to find you and to keep you safe. I am not privy to the whereabouts of Jonas, Chloe and Aiden, but I am told that they are being kept safe as well. Instead, we shall continue to Imdalor, the Sage-King was a dear friend of our father’s and we should be safe in his court.”

Before the princess could continue, they were interrupted by the arrival of Master Boris. His face was fatigued as he panted, leaning against his old staff for support. His robes were shorn, as if sliced at with swords, but he was not bleeding.

“By the light, Master Boris!” exclaimed Captain Alborz “Are you alright?!”

“My love!” cried out Mistress Joyce, running to her husband’s side.

“I’m fine. I’m fine” replied Boris dismissively, shakily standing up against his staff. His wife led him into the inn, as the rest of the group followed behind. “I see that you have defeated the bandits who assaulted our fair village. Alas, they were not alone. You are not safe, my prince” He then noticed Amelia’s presence with slight surprise “Nor are you, my princess. The warriors who left with me from the inn now battle these stragglers, but there are many. I fear we shan’t be able to defeat them all. You two must flee now!”

“We cannot just leave you all here to suffer!” exclaimed Amelia.

“This is all my fault! I shall not let you all perish for your kindness and bravery!” echoed Tobias.

Captain Alborz stepped forward before the imperial children and placed a hand on each of their shoulders. “Your highnesses,” he said softly, yet sternly, “The future of this empire rests in your hands and we cannot afford to risk your lives so willingly. We have endured war for centuries before your births; centuries of bloodshed and loss that ended with the union of your parents. Let not their legacy come to an end with your untimely demise, my prince and my princess.”

Quieted by the words of the imperial knight, Captain Alborz turned to the rest of the group, taking off a necklace from around his neck and a ring with an imperial seal from his finger. He took the necklace and placed it into the hand of Mitra. “I did not know you well, my lady, but I have seen you grow under the watchful gaze of our Empress. Even though you were raised in Alvaris, you fight like a Torbican and have the determination of a Qulmari. You are resilient and you are a fighter. I know you will cross paths with the Alvarisian court once more, and when you do, give this keepsake to my betrothed.”

The Captain then turned to Jax, giving him the ring with the imperial seal. “With this ring, I entrust to you the protection of the imperial children. You are a true and loyal servant of the empire, and my only hope is that the rest of the military has not been swayed by the treachery of the imperial court. Protect them, both, with your life. When the time is come, this ring will reveal its purpose.”

Turning to Herlewin, he smiled sympathetically at the lad. The child had fought valiantly, but he knew by looking at him that he was not made for war. War was a brutal horrible thing, and as much as he hoped it would not lead to it, he knew that there would be more fights in the future. “Child, thank you for the work that you have done. You are a gentle soul, and I would hate to see that lost in the throes of combat. Go, be safe.” He ruffled the hair on the boy’s head before standing up to face Helle.

“Your bravery has not gone unnoticed, and had I the time or the power I would give you whatever your heart desired for your service to the prince and princess. Unfortunately, I have neither, and worse still, I have another request. Go with them, I beseech you. They will need all the support in the world, this I know; for it is about to become a much more dangerous and complex world for not only them, but all of us.”

“Why are you saying all these things?” asked Tobias, his eyes narrowing.

“He intends to leave us, Toby,” replied Amelia, with her arms crossed.

Captain Alborz chuckled. “I see no other way,” he said with a half-hearted grin “I must buy you enough time to flee this village and rout as many of those bandits as I can”

“No!” exclaimed Tobias “I won’t lose anyone else!”

“You wound me, my prince” teased Captain Alborz “Do you think me incapable of dealing with those bandits? I know you are heading to Imdalor. Let me finish up here and I shall follow you all shortly. I have a wyvern and can cover ground more quickly than you lot anyway.”

“Tobias, he’s right” stated Amelia, forcing herself not to look into her brother’s eyes. “Our first priority is to be safe within Imdalor. The Sage-King is an honourable man as well as your godfather, we shall be safe with him.”

“Very well” replied Tobias begrudgingly, “Please stay safe, Captain.”

“Of course, my prince,” replied Captain Alborz with a bow in his direction and then in the direction of the princess, “I leave with your approval” and he strode out of the inn.

“Quick now,” hurried Master Boris “Get the packs!” He instructed his wife and daughter who lurked in the corner, quite stunned at the presence of two royals. The women scurried around the kitchen, rounding up enough supplies for the journey to Imdalor. They provided a pack for each of the individuals and then showed them to the back entrance of the inn, which led into the forest away from where the rest of the bandits lurked.

“May the light guide your way and the shadows keep you safe,” whispered Master Boris as the group left the inn and ventured into the forest.

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Mon Apr 01, 2019 8:34 pm
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“...be safe.”

The majority of the words exchanged in the inn were lost on Herlewin, whose realization of what he’d been involved in slowly grew as the adrenaline faded. In but one short morning, the boy’s entire world had been thrown upside down. Though he understood little of the specifics, he’d caught snippets of rebellion, of the royal family being picked off one by one, of bandits surrounding the village. He’d seen the wyvern knight end a life as easily as one snuffed out a match. ...He’d ended lives himself, hadn’t he? Did that make him a murderer? The knights among them didn’t seem particularly upset with him, but his conscience certainly was. There was a lot to be upset about.

Some relief was to be had, however, as the archer left the group to return to his room; his keen vision spotted the Qulmari boy at a table in the corner, the youngster’s wounds being tended by someone whom Herlewin could only assume had more medicinal experience than himself. The guilt that plagued the acrobat lessened with every step he took towards the second floor: At least the acrobat had helped someone out of this mess, from feeling what he felt. At the very least, that.

Once in his room, surrounded by the small collection of belongings he called his performance equipment, Herlewin’s mind shifted to business mode. There would be no show today. Not today, and not for a long time if the bandits were to continue their assault. Though minstrels and their songs were oft welcome distractions when tragedy befell villages, the boy knew from experience that his own brand of entertainment was better suited for festivals and times of celebration. Whether or not the reserve of imperials he’d acquired would be enough to feed and lodge him until the people were in better spirits was up in the air, and that a surefire sign: it was time to move on.

---

“Oy, oy! Squire lass!”

It was an out of breath Herlewin that caught up to the travelers, burgundy cloak draped under one arm and handful of bread he’d hastily paid for on his way out in the other. Taking a bite out his snack as he stopped, he addressed the fiery girl. She was some sort of squire princess or something, so she was probably in charge.

“Sho, I wash thinkin’” he said between bites, the hunger from having skipped breakfast catching up to him. “Ye lot ‘re headen for Imdalor, right? Thash where I’m goin’”. He swallowed. “‘n seein’ as ther’re bandits roming about ‘n whatnot… ye know…” he paused to look furtively around, greedily sneaking in another bite as he did. “It’sh shafer to go in groups, ye get me? ‘N I been to Imdalor onshe ‘afore with me troupe I think, sho I can tell ye which inns to shtay in, ‘n shtuff, if ye’ll ‘ave me.”

He looked expectantly to the group, biting a few more chunks off his prize as he did.

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Wed Apr 03, 2019 5:34 pm
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A final fit of coughing filled the air above the bandit-besieged village as the last of the infernal wyvern smoke left the lungs of one Barrett Ansgot. A dirty thumb smeared the tears across his face, and when he could finally open his eyes again, he saw… peace. His band of louses had routed the invaders, it seemed, and the people would be eternally grateful. This had gone exactly according to plan.

Barrett Ansgot was a genius.

Picking and sliding his way down the pine he had scaled, collecting pine cones and loose branches along the way, he landed on the earth below with dull thud. One quick jaunt to the center of the square later and he had set his collection of tree bits on the ground in large circle, all the while clearing his throat to play town crier.

“Donations! Donations for the glory of the light!”, he cried, marching around the altar he had created. “Light be praised, the town is free! Your sins are forgiven! The bandit curse is lifted! Thank the spirits and be healed! Gold does no good to the dead! Be parted from it and live! Donations! Donations for the glory of the light! Find rest for your weary souls and relief for your wounded bodies! Praise be to the glorious light!

The buffoon of a cleric smiled as he danced, a smile of genuine glee. This one worked every time.

---

An hour of postering later, Barrett hadn’t helped but notice that his fighters had yet to exit the inn in which they had gathered. Curious. Surely they had not been wounded so sorely as to decide to rest for the day. No, something wasn’t quite right. He had best check on them. Scooping up his earnings, he left the townsfolk with one last “praise be the light!” and made his way to the inn.

---

Eclipse on the red-headed wench and every one of her boot-licking lackeys!

Variations on this and other curses ran in a constant loop through Barrett’s mind as his feet followed a similar pattern beneath him. They had left him without so much as a thanks! Him, the very instrument of the bandits’ defeat! Oh, he was going to bleed. Them. Dry.

As soon as he caught them. That was the first step.

He hated the princess already.

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Sat Apr 06, 2019 1:34 am
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