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Songs of Alvaris 
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Ft. The Keekster as Yung G-!ll

The journey to the palace and through its inner halls was suffused in the most beautiful displays of architecture and decor that Herlewin had ever seen. He’d performed for nobility before - small-time barons and whatnot - but he’d never personally set foot on any of their lavish estates, much less experienced the grandeur of a king’s own home. It all felt like some sort of dream; that he’d never woken up from the nightmare that was the attack on the village and had simply drifted into more hospitable realms of unconsciousness. The fact that he was presently dressed in fancier clothing than anything a festival performer could ever hope to muster wasn’t helping with the feeling either.

It was only when the King himself recounted the current happenings within the empire that reality sunk in for the boy. Amelia and Toby were royalty, full stop, no boondock or squire-in-training attached. The crown prince really had been assassinated, and the tumultuous state of the current political climate really was to blame for the bandit attack. As the King commended the small warrior band and the nobles politely clapped in response, the archer found himself - for the first time in his life - shrinking away at the sound: He was being lauded as a member of a group of killers. Killers who had saved lives, certainly, but who had done so by spilling blood of their own.

Applause had never felt so alien.

---

“Say, Gill, ye think they’ll let me keep these?” Herlewin gestured towards the outfit he bore, its crimson silks embroidered in traditional Emeldian designs. The acrobat had wandered outside his room in search of distractions within the halls; anything to anchor him as the world grew so wildly beyond his depth. Conversation seemed a decent start.
“Ain’t never owned nothin’ so nice.”

Gilliam’s head perked up as his name was mentioned, mildly startled as his mind had drifted in his idleness. “Of course, mi’lord!” responded Gilliam enthusiastically; his tone indicated almost with shock that he would ask. This hero of the imperial prince and princess of Alvaris was quite humble and being in his presence only made the lad admire the young archer all the more.

“As a companion of their imperial highnesses, the king has instructed me to do what is in my power to ensure that you are comfortable in his palace.”

The older boy’s neck craned to the left in response to being addressed as “mi’lord.” It wasn’t entirely unwelcome, but it didn’t feel right either.
“...Right then. First order’s callin’ me Herlewin, no fanciern’ that.”
The acrobat looked up to one of the hanging tapestries as he spoke, contemplating where to take the discussion next. He’d always been in a position to please others; it was strange having the roles reversed, on top of all the other strangeness going on.
“‘Spose I’ll ask while I’m here. The musici’ns from dinner, they stay in this place? Ye wouldn’t kno’ their names?”

Gilliam blinked vacantly as he processed what the hero had just said. It took all his might not to rebuff the offer, though it was greatly appreciated by the servant boy.

“Ah, yes, Annabeth was on the lute, Vernon played the tabour and Tybalt played the flute,” replied Gilliam, scratching his head as he remembered who exactly had been playing during the feast. “Shall I fetch them for you mi’lo- er, master Herlewin?”

The houseboy’s last minute addition of “master” prompted a chuckle. Herlewin was glad he’d found someone to talk to.
“Radiant grace, lad, ye needn’t fret so much. Just point me in the direction.”

The boy, who knew the layout of the palace like the back of his hand, led the way to the servants’ quarters. Typically, the nobles were not permitted beyond these doors - not that it was a pressing interest for most of them - still, Gilliam thought the rules could be bent for a hero of the empire. (Also, it was general knowledge that the young Princess Sophie often snuck among their ranks)

Waving Herlewin into the servants’ quarters, they found themselves in a large apartment, similar to the archer’s own, though much bigger to accommodate the number of servants that regularly lived in the palace. A pleasant fire flickered in the hearth as most of the servants wound down for the evening. The sound of a lute could be heard coming from one of the rooms where Gilliam and Herlewin found the troupe, eliciting another smile from the acrobat: Of course the royal musicians would still be practicing after-hours. Herlewin knew as well as anyone how much one had to rehearse simply to make a living as an entertainer, but he could only imagine what it took to achieve full residency in a royal court. Still, performing for the upper echelon of nobles was one of his goals, so he was grateful for the opportunity to meet artists who did so on the regular.

“Gilly!” exclaimed the tabour player excitedly as the pair entered, “Who’s this lad?”

“This is Herlewin, one of the heroes of the empire!”
Though the servant boy had said it amiably, Herlewin’s grinning face sunk suddenly at the introduction.

“This is Annabeth” - a gentle-looking girl in a red dress who was playing the lute.

He didn’t want to be a hero, much less be known as one.

“This is Vernon” - the excitable one with dark hair that stuck about wildly.

He wanted to be one of them; to entertain, to bring smiles to those who needed them.

“and this is Tybalt” - a curly haired young man with light green eyes.

Anything but this… this indelible stain he’d left on himself.
When the servant had finished his introductions, Herlewin found he hadn’t heard any of the names.

“I ain’t a hero, Gill…”
The older boy spoke softly, eyes to the floor. Unable to meet any of the looks of those he wished could be his peers, he did what he should have done that day. He ran.

“‘Pologies for intruptin’ yer rehearsin’... I’m.. ah…” he trailed off. “I’m glad I got to meet y’all. Evenin’.”

---

Come morning, Herlewin’s room was empty, barely touched, save for a note scrawled in impressive-looking (if overall rather misshapen) letters, titled “To Jaqes.

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Sun May 26, 2019 8:06 pm
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Jax sat at the table in freshly polished armor. To repair it at some point he must have left it but when was quite unknown. Though despite the shine, the look that he belonged even, the knight felt out of place. Jax was the child of a farmer, and soldier in the war, to have met and protected the royal children was one thing- that was only his duty after all- but to sit with them in a palace with a foreign king and eat and make merry just felt wrong. Though he feigned all the courtesy he could, he was relieved to fall back and talk strategy with the princess.

His armored hand smoothed a map in front of him, instinctively, not for purpose. "I don't know much of hiding royalty. Those low on the pay roll like me barely had forewarning of parades with nobles, let alone sensitive information like that. Did your family have any hideouts prepared? Vacation homes? I doubt they were taken to one of those places, however they may be nearby. If I had to guess their retainers would have had to put their faith into those they already could trust so seeking a merchant that would have normally delivered to your family with discreteness already at those locations might point you to where they are now."

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Mon May 27, 2019 9:54 pm
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Dinner had been a trial. The incessant, minutes-long bouts of clapping had very nearly driven the forest-dwelling cleric mad; for all his efforts repurposing his matted hair as earplugs, the thunder threatened to shatter his skull. The meal was overly ostentatious for his taste, but it was Barrett Ansgot’s sworn duty to take these fools for as much as they were worth, so he ate to the point of bursting. The wine, at the very least, was plentiful, though he suspected that the servants had begun serving him the cheap stuff after the first dozen goblets. Sons of shadows.

---

In the hours that followed the meal Barrett wandered the halls, commiting what he could of the castle layout to memory and making note of the best routes for a hasty escape, should the need arise. Eventually his meandering led him down a dimly-lit hallway and, at its end, to a simple wooden door painted with a monochrome version of the royal crest. Without hesitation he went to open it.

Locked.

Barrett chuckled. The best doors always were. Unlock Staff at the ready, the cleric gave the door a light rap. What looked like a miniscule cloud burst from the staff’s end, pale and gray. It lingered for a moment, then, with a light sucking sound, the fumes were aspirated into the lock. A satisfying click followed shortly thereafter, and a gleeful Barrett stepped through the doorway into the room beyond.

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not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9


Tue May 28, 2019 12:43 am
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Amelia paused momentarily to think upon Jax’s suggestions. It was in moments like these that she wished that Sir Alborz was still around; her heart twinged at the thought of the knight and his ultimate fate. Jax was quite right however, their family did have several palaces throughout the empire that they would visit when her parents wished to escape the incessant demands of the capital. Most often they would go to the summer palace in the countryside south of Marona; she recalled many fond memories of the vast plains and wide-open fields. For a brief moment, Amelia felt the warmth and love that she remembered from her youth. She knew however, that her siblings would not be there.

Scanning the map once more, Amelia’s eyes lingered over Vicaris on the map. The name alone triggered a faint memory she had as a child. Remembering a song, she began to hum to herself as she traced her finger on the map:

Little ones, I hold you near
In the darkness, do not fear
For on a hill, a light does shine
Follow close, the twisting vine
Where water wakes, and herons soar
Find your place, in Amador

Her eyes widened in realization, her father had always called the lullaby “The Song of Vicaris”, but she never knew why. He did not sing it often, and even then, only in the presence of the imperial children and his empress. Mitra would recall the melody, but she knew not the words, that played in the princess’ head. Perhaps, the song was alluding to something more. Although it was not much of a lead, it was a faint hope that she could hold on to.

“Vicaris,” she finally said with a hint of conviction in her voice “We must go to Vicaris” Her shoulders slumped, as she realized how tired she presently was. It had been a very long day. “Thank you, Sir Jax.” She turned to Mitra and Helle continuing, “We shall reconvene on the morrow to discuss our next steps. We should all get some rest.”

*****


The room that Barrett entered was clearly one of the royal suites, indicated by the elaborate furniture in the room. There was a fireplace that crackled in the corner of the room, the sole source of light to be seen aside from the moonlight trickling through the doors leading to the balcony that looked over the inner courtyard. For a noble, Barrett would note that the room seemed to be in a state of disarray – as if someone else had gotten to it before he had. Clothes were strewn about, a particularly muddy pair of boots thrown onto the floor carelessly. The dresser and vanity were covered in an assortment of herbs, shells, and a number of other objects that appeared to have been picked up from the forest floor. There were a few scrolls thrown about and on the table a pair of spectacles. Upon closer inspection, the spectacles were inscribed with runes similar to those found in tomes.

GM: Going to wrap up the night after this post. Dinah is planning on interaction, so I’ll wait for that to finish and then move to the next day. (Which will likely fly by because the night will be more important)

Also, would anyone be able to state all the items you guys purchased again? Have they been parceled out so that I can update your profiles? And how much was spent. Thanks~

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Tue May 28, 2019 8:33 pm
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Dinah allowed herself to be dragged through the halls of the palace. Sophie's enthusiasm seemed to be getting the better of her. They stalked the priest till they reached a hallway. Dinah was quickly pushed back around the corner by Sophie.
"Why are we hiding? You live here." Dinah snapped in a hushed whisper. She quickly peaked around the corner.
"Well well, It appears you have an admirer." Dinah spoke as She watched Barrett. "Not many men are willing to go in your room."

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Wed May 29, 2019 8:26 am
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Sophie resisted the urge to snort from both disgust and laughter. She had to admit that Dinah's comment was a good one. Nevertheless, there were more pressing matters at hand, she was glad she trusted her instinct, for the more reprehensible member of the "heroes" had broken into her room.

"Just as ah'm shoor they're bangin' oan ye door," she quipped in return.

Stepping into her bedroom with Dinah in tow, she watched as the thief rummaged through her belongings.

"See aenythin' ye laike?" she said casually with her hands on both her hips.

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Wed May 29, 2019 4:42 pm
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Oh, what a mess. What a beautiful, glorious mess. There was bound to be something worth plundering in a room decorated floor to ceiling about with garments that likely cost more than most city-dwellers made in a month. New garb was of little interest to the cleric, however, so Barrett began his investigation amidst the array of vaguely magical knickknacks strewn about the table and dresser. His pilfering spree was short-lived. No sooner had he picked up a curious pair of rune-inscribed glasses than he was rudely interrupted by a regrettably familiar voice.

“Unholy umbrage.”

He was losing his touch, getting caught like this. Shameful, really. It occurred to him then that perhaps, in his effort to drain the castle’s wine vats, he had somewhat hindered his ability to empty their coffers. But now was no time for self-chastising. He had a predicament to escape.

Subtly as he could, Barrett slipped the spectacles from his hand to his sleeve, masking the gesture with a dramatic raise of his arms as he spun to greet the new arrivals, ready to pull them into an embrace.

“Aha! Welcome, welcome, my ladies. What saintly deed have I carried out that the Light would bless my chambers with such fine company?”

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not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9


Fri May 31, 2019 11:18 pm
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Joint post with Savvy and Wizz ^.^

Sophie looked at Dinah with an expression of incredulity; surely this man was not acting as if he was merely in his own room. As the owner of the room, she knew very well it was not. In that moment she was not exactly sure how to respond. How, in all of Alvaris, did the imperial prince and princess manage to find the shadiest priest? An alcoholic and a thief, perhaps he had chosen the wrong profession.

“Away wit ye an’ ye fancy werds” replied the princess with half of a smirk “A priest’s robe ye wear, but a tief ye be, eh Dinah?” She nudged her masked friend in jest. He was trapped like a rat with nowhere to go. She had to admit, she was fairly intrigued as to how he would talk himself out of this one.

“A thief?”, replied the cleric, his gesture of embrace turning to a wide-armed bow. “Aye, guilty as charged. But the only treasure this thief would seek is the heart of the radiant jewel that stands afore ‘im.” He lifted his head just enough to reveal an exaggerated wink from beneath the tangle of knots.

"I warned you that they'll let just about anyone be a priest. What has this world come to?" Dinah couldn't help but roll her eyes at his comment "Radiant jewel? She's more of a muddy pebble."

“Oh, how it pains me to see friends turn on one another,” lamented the man, hand now raised to his brow as though he were on the verge of fainting. “The beauty of the moon need not compete with the glory of the sun! Each in turn shines brightly on those who would bathe in their light. Be in harmony as they are!”

The shabby officiant paused, adopting an expression of somber reflection. “Were it that easy.” he sighed, pacing nearer the balcony doors to gaze at the night sky.

“But clearly you have come to me for council, in an effort to mend bonds broken by jealousy so foul. So tell me, daughters of light. How may I be of service to you?”

"You could drink this." Dinah said holding out a potion she retrieved from her bag. She smiled behind her mask hoping he would drink the truth brew.

The cleric stole a glance backward, a trace of alarm in his eyes, but his face quickly turned to a smile as he bowed once more to decline. “Regrettably, I’ve already partaken of more than my fair share of drink this night, milady. T’wouldn’t be responsible of me to inbibe anymore. After all, I cannot bring shame to me order. Perhaps on the morrow.”

In truth, Sophie had hoped that the vagrant would take Dinah’s offer, but she knew he was much too clever to fall for anything quite so simple. She would remember to suggest slipping something into his wine in the future, but for now, she merely wanted the louse out of her room.

“Aye, ‘tis a wee bit late, ain’t it?” replied Sophie with a false yawn. Once again examining the dishevelled priest, she could not help but wonder if he had fleas. She scratched herself subconsciously as she pondered over the thought. “Ah’m knackered meself!” She walked closer to the man, breathing through her mouth as she did - and then immediately regretting it shortly thereafter. “Now off wit’ ye” she said while shooing the priest from her chamber as politely as she could.

“Yes yes, certainly. I shall hold your beauteous visage in my dreams till we meet again, princess. Do try to mend things over with your friend, the two of you reall-

Shunk

And as the door closed behind him, the daring escape of Barrett Ansgot was complete. A good spit rid his mouth of any honey left over from the exchange, and a smile crested his lips as he strode down the hall, fingers caressing the prize hidden in his sleeve. A good day’s work, that. He would spend the night figuring out what, if any, new mischief he could concoct with his freshly-acquired toy.

Dinah put her hands on her hips as the priest left "Sophie… I think you can do better."

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Sun Jun 02, 2019 7:33 am
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The sun rose over the city of Imdalor, its rays piercing through the morning mists that rolled over the town from the surrounding forests. Gray smoke spiraled from cities into the clearing sky as the first furnaces were fired up – the blacksmiths and the bakers – signalling the start of a new workday.

The royal palace bustled with activity as servants carried out their morning tasks. There was much less pomp and grandeur surrounding the guests as they were permitted to wander about the palace grounds. In the palace gardens, Prince Tobias along with Princess Amelia and Lady Mitra were invited to breakfast with the Sage-King and the Queen.

“Your imperial highnesses, I hope that you have found breakfast to your liking” stated the Sage-King, while stroking his beard absentmindedly.

“It was phenomenal, your majesty,” replied Amelia sincerely.

“I am glad. Now to attend to some business, you had mentioned an interest in the arcane arts, my prince?”

“Yes…” replied Toby feeling slightly uneasy at the question.

“Good!” The Sage-King raised his hand and Sophie walked into their vicinity, curtsying towards Tobias and Amelia. “This is my granddaughter, Princess Sophie Isabelle of Emeldia, the firstborn child of my eldest son Prince Caleb.”

Sophie opened her mouth to speak, and then paused as she glanced at her grandmother who was taking a sip of tea. “It is quite a pleasure to meet your esteemed imperial highnesses” she said eloquently while curtsying once more.

“My dear Sophie is most gifted in the art of magic and I believe she would make a suitable tutor for you, my prince” King Edmund paused for a moment before turning to Amelia “As well as you, my princess – should you wish”

“I thank you for your offer, your majesty” replied Amelia with a smirk “But like my mother, I prefer a sword in my hand”

“Very well, Prince Tobias?”

Tobias was quiet for a few moments as he mulled over the offer. His original intent had been to train under the tutelage of the Sage-King himself, but this was an opportunity to step out from his father’s shadow once more. He looked at Princess Sophie with an inquisitive eye; there was something about her that made it seem like she was holding her breath. There was also a strange twinkle in her hazel eyes that seemed to be hiding something he could not quite read.

Tobias shrugged “That works with me”

“I am pleased to be at your service, my prince” replied Sophie with a dainty curtsy.

*****


In the meantime, the servant Gilliam approached Jax, presenting him an envelope with his name…or rather an attempt at spelling his name was inscribed.

“Master Jax,” spoke Gilliam with a quick bow and a hint of urgency in his voice “This was discovered in Master Herlewin’s room this morning and he is nowhere to be found”

The details of the letter were such:

To Jaqes

I coud not finde you to check in, but I left the palass grounds at mid-nite. If you will have me on your travells, I am sayine at the tavern wherest we drank

Lite's blessines - Herlewin


“Is he alright, Master Jax?” asked the boy softly, trying hard not to peek over the knight’s shoulder to read the contents of the note “I fear I may have displeased him when I brought him into the servants’ quarters last night. I did not mean to offend him.”

*****



The spectacles that Barrett had swiped glistened in the morning sunlight as they sat upon the nightstand beside his bed. It was clear that they had some sort of magical power, for they seemed to emanate a very faint aura. In stealing the object however, he was not entirely sure what use it had – or what price it could fetch him in the market. His time free, he could choose to venture out into the city to find a solution to his query.

GM: Helle can choose to venture out with Jax or Barrett
Herlewin can choose to wait to encounter Jax or recount his own morning experience at the inn.

Also special thanks to onyx who wrote that pleasant note (MG did not like that different font @_@)

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Tue Jun 04, 2019 6:46 pm
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Amelia and Mitra do some crimes, as relayed by Kiki and Shrap


(The previous night)

As Jax and Helle departed from her chambers, Amelia sat in her chair and slid down into a slouch as she exhaled from exhaustion. The maps remained sprawled across the table, a circle in fresh ink around the province of Vicaris. Her silver eyes flicked upwards as she noted Mitra’s continued presence. She could not help but smirk as Mitra hovered – it was a definite habit of her dear friend, particularly when she had something to say.

“Yes, Mitra” she said with mock dismissiveness “Do share what is on your mind – And don’t say there isn’t anything because I know that look of yours.”

The princess's retainer hesitated, then sighed and gave a brief nod. "Your Highness knows me too well. Please excuse my insolence. Today has certainly been exhausting, and it isn't my intention to delay your rest. However, there's something I'm curious about. The procedure Jax layed out was textbook. Flawless, if you're not sure where to begin your search. But there's no way you came up with such a definitive answer so quickly. Your discretion permitting, I'd like to know where that answer came from. Why Vicaris?"

Amelia smiled. Once again, the princess was reminded of how grateful she was to have Mitra at her side. Mitra had a refreshing frankness about her that kept her grounded. It was a presence that was most needed during their journey in her quest for her brother. Mitra had ensured that she did not recklessly run off with nary a plan.

“I did not think you would remember the song, for father mostly sang it in the company…of his natural born children,” Amelia hesitated slightly as she said this, not wishing to offend her dearest friend and all but officially adopted sister.

“Little ones, I hold you near/ In the darkness, do not fear/ For on a hill, a light does shine/ Follow close, the twisting vine/ Where water wakes, and herons soar/ Find your place, in Amador” She closed her eyes as she recited the lullaby only opening them once she was done.

“Understandably, the words are quite vague, but I do believe my father had a safehouse constructed in this place called Amador in Vicaris” She frowned slightly, “At least, I think so…”

Mitra's mouth curled into a slight frown as Amelia spoke, but she quickly caught herself, not wanting to openly express her doubts.

"I see. Then it's as good a place as any to look, I suppose." Mitra rubbed her hand over her chin as she spoke. "... I mean, it's better than nothing. They can't all be as easy to find as Tobias was. After this, we'll have to appoint each of them a wyvern knight."

The fighter gave a boisterous, awkward laugh at her own joke. Amelia blinked, not quite convinced.

“Mitra…” she began, sitting up in her seat to stare genuinely into her friend’s eyes. Small beads of sweat formed on the Qulmari's brow as she clamped her mouth shut in a token attempt at stoicism. Amelia searchingly looked at her face to see if the facade would break for just a moment, then sighed in acquiescence. “Well, if that is all-”

"Queen Leah might be able to help us find your siblings!" Mitra blurted, caving at the slightest prodding, as was typical of these exchanges. Amelia looked taken aback, but her retainer wasn't done. "The way she implied that she had been watching us, the way she met us at the door to the throne room... I've seen it before. I'll bet you anything that the Queen is a diviner, and a powerful one by the look of it. She was being kind of a show-off about it too."

With her assertion completed, Mitra lowered her face in defeat. She had never been able to keep her thoughts hidden from her liege.

Amelia’s expression twisted as it dawned upon her what Mitra meant. It was true that the Queen had mentioned that she had been watching them. In fact, she had found it mildly unnerving when she had revealed this fact. Still, if she was watching them, then surely, she must have been able to watch her other siblings as well.

“You’re quite right, Mitra.” Amelia eventually replied, a new sense of resolve in her voice. "This is definitely worth pursuing."

The princess looked back to her friend, wearing a good-natured grin, and continued. "There, that wasn't so bad, was it?"

The reaver's eyebrow twitched ever so slightly at this. She crossed her arms and leaned against the far wall. "Well, Your Luminosity, you know I'm not one to ask for favors. Should we follow this line of inquiry, you're the only one who can do it." Mitra's eyes fell to the floor as she spoke. "I'm not certain how well you know the Queen, but there's something about her manner that I find suspicious. I just wanted to be cautious."

A sharp snort, the tail end of a stifled laugh, earned an annoyed glance from the reaver. Amelia raised a hand in an attempt to placate her friend, pressing the other over her mouth. Once she had regained her breath, she spoke. "I'm sorry, Mitra, it's just- of course you were. Your vigilance is always appreciated, and I'm quite certain I'd be dead in a ditch somewhere if it weren't for you." The princess lowered her arms, her expression turning earnest, and her voice unwavering. "In this instance, I would ask that you trust me. We have nothing to fear from the King and Queen. I guarantee it."

Mitra looked at her friend for a moment before closing here eyes and exhaling slowly. Then she allowed herself a slight smile. "Of course I trust you. I should've known better than to beat around the bush like that."

"I should say so! See that it doesn't happen again. We have a formal breakfast to attend on the morrow, after all, and the royal family will be there." Amelia ribbed. When Mitra responded with an awkward grimace, she continued, "I'm glad you're looking forward to it! Listen, everything is going to be fine. Just try to relax a bit. Can you do that for me?"

After a brief pause, Mitra nodded.

---

Mitra sat with her back straight, hands pressed into the top of her knees hard enough to turn her knuckles white. She stared blankly at her dish while niceties were passed back and forth across the table like goat butter. Meaningless words, lobbed as ammunition in a contest of propriety. The functional simplicity of her usual garments had been usurped by a frilly blouse and a long, green skirt. It was to be expected; she and her ward were in polite company, after all, but without her favored arms, the Qulmari may as well have been wearing nothing. All this pomp and circumstance. A game of pretend, where the goal is to forget about the wolves breathing down your neck. So she told herself. However, Mitra's posture was perhaps too rigid, her agitation too pronounced. To some degree, she must have been aware of it, even if she wasn't willing to accept it. She was enjoying this.

The young woman was the cleanest she'd been in weeks. As a novice seamstress herself, she could appreciate a well put together garment, and these duds were nothing if not spiffing. Light above, and the company! Of everybody in the immediate vicinity, not a single person was Barrett, and as far as the reaver was concerned, that was the sole criterion for being an interesting and decent human being. Mitra was loathe to admit it, but the fact was that she missed life at the palace. If she let her guard down, she could easily wind up becoming too comfortable. So she would continue to sit straight as a post, and she would clutch the top of this skirt until even a mage wouldn't be able to get the wrinkles out. There was work to do.

Mitra continued to listen as Emeldia's princess introduced herself to Tobias, offering her services as an arcane tutor. Once there was a lull in the conversation, she used her elbow to nudge Amelia, who had strategically positioned herself across from Queen Leah at the table. When the princess looked back to her, the two exchanged a single nod.

Amelia set down her silverware and, raising a closed fist to her mouth, cleared her throat just loudly enough to get the attention of their hosts. "I must thank you once again for having us. Your hospitality is as a beacon of light in these trying times. My brother and I can never thank you enough." She said, bowing her head.

"Utter nonsense!" Sage-King Edmund waved a hand dismissively in the air, his response equal parts immediate and authoritative. His face took on a melancholy expression. "This is the absolute least we could do. I'll hear no argument on the matter. If there is anything we can do to help, you need but ask. I insist on it." The Queen nodded her agreement.

The Alvarisian princess raised her eyes to meet the Sage-King's once again, wearing a gentle smile. "It brightens my heart that you feel that way. I'm afraid that there is actually something more I wish to ask of you."

“Of course, my princess,” he replied. “Name whatever it is you desire.”

“As you know, I endeavour to seek out my younger siblings, but I am afraid I do not have much to go off of.” As she spoke, Amelia turned to Queen Leah, taking the Sage-King off guard. The queen, on the other hand, seemed unfazed, her mouth curling into a coy grin. “But, I was hoping that you, Queen Leah, with your gift, might be able to see something that might guide us?”

The woman gave a mercurial chuckle. "I was beginning to think you'd never ask, Princess Amelia. It would be my pleasure to assist you."

Amelia's expression brightened, if only slightly, while Mitra raised an eyebrow at how quickly the woman had acquiesced. The Queen continued,

“Understand that I cannot guarantee what will be shown, or whether it will be of help to you. The act of divination is an arcane art that is both fickle and elusive, even to me.” With that said, the queen took one of the large serving bowls and filled it with water from the pitcher at the table. She dipped a sole finger into the water, and ran it along the rim of the bowl. The water became taut, as if turned into glass. She raised her eyes and looked at the princess:

“Provide me with the name of whom you wish to see,” she said softly, her voice barely above a whisper.

Amelia swallowed before answering, “Prince Jonas Asmund Charles, Princess Chloe Sigrun Elizabeth and Prince Aiden Ingvar Torvald of Alvaris.” The queen nodded and then touched the surface of the water, equidistant ripples emanating from the centre of the bowl. She whispered the names, and the water began to grow cloudy as an image swirled beneath the surface of the still water.

As the group peered into the bowl, they could see Jonas, Chloe and Aiden. Amelia had to resist the urge to cry out their names, but controlled herself - well aware that they would not be able to hear her. She was nearly overcome with emotion, for they appeared safe and sound. It was the very least she could hope for. Mitra squeezed in perhaps a bit too close and stared at the vessel's contents with uncharacteristic intensity, and even Tobias, who had remained fairly apathetic toward the conversation thus far, was entranced by the image before him. It did him good to see that his younger siblings were alive and well, having been expecting the worst up until now.

As the image stabilized, it was clear that the children were on some sort of ship, but it was not clear as to where they were going. They stood at the bow of the ship, Jonas and Chloe each held one of Aiden’s hands as they looked out over the water. Their faces were grim, as if a piece of their youth had been stolen from them, but their piercing blue eyes were fierce and resolute.

“Do you know where they are?” Amelia demanded, perhaps a bit too firmly. Her words carried a renewed air of purpose.

“...I am afraid I do not, my princess.” Queen Leah murmured, giving a slight bow. “The gift only reveals sight and not much else in my experience." Mitra squinted as the queen said this, but remained silent.

"Nevertheless, it is a great relief to see your kin in good health. I'm certain you feel the same." The queen concluded with a reassuring smile.

Amelia nodded, wearing a determined expression. "Your gift is a blessing from the Light itself. I couldn't have hoped for more."


Mon Jun 10, 2019 8:36 pm
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The knight now stood in a familiar place. The boy had been right about this tavern. Though less so than the night before, the place still had its fair share of souls finding a drink or a bite to eat. As for the knight, he wasn't sure why he was here now. He had told himself it was to talk the boy out of coming with the party, but he could have just never come at all and that would have been the outcome. Ideally. It wouldn't be the first time they had said farewell only for performer to return and follow them. Yes that must be why Jax came to talk Herlewin out of coming. Surely.

It was easy to find out which room the boy kept, the knight was easy to recognise as one of his drinking companions from yesterday. Besides, saying no to a Knight of Alvaris, even when not in Alvaris proper wasn't a thing reputable businesses did.

The knock at the door was heavy, the voice soft. "Lad? It's Jax. I got your letter and would like to have a word."

“Aye, sir.”

Herlewin appeared in the doorframe shortly, travel bag hung over one shoulder and bow strung over the other, almost as if the boy had been anticipating the knight’s arrival. The truth was that he’d been sitting on his thumbs for an hour or so, debating whether to get out early and reserve a good spot in the square, or wait in his room on the off chance that there would be no performance today, either.
“‘m glad me letter found ye, t’wern’t sure I’d spelt yer name right.”

The knight gave the boy a long concealed leer. "Twas close enough." There was a gap of unintended silence as Jax finally realized he had to say something more. "May I come in?"

“‘Course, ‘course.” the archer replied, hushing his voice and looking past the knight into the hallway as he did. After shutting the door behind the pair, he leaned his back against it, keeping an ear out for footsteps. “All’s good up at the palace still?”

"Don't worry. The palace is secure." The knight said as he lumbered over near a table by the window. "Mostly they're worried about your sudden disappearance. Worried their hospitality offended your beliefs mayhaps. Perhaps a few worried you might be a spy slipping out to feed information to enemies of the crown and lead us into a trap." He closed the curtains.

Herlewin paled. The notion that he’d been privy to information far more sensitive than any civilian should be aware of had crossed his mind, but he thought it’d be fine so long as he knew to keep his mouth shut. When he stopped to think about it, though, he was so small in importance and so large in liability that…

…they wouldn’t, would they?

The boy straightened his posture and looked dead at what he guessed where the knight’s eyes. “Weren’t doin’ nothin’ of the sort, sir. Ye know well as me that I’ve only half a clue of what’s goin’ on.”

"That I do. If anyone actually believed that it would have been Mitra come to pay you a visit, and I doubt she would have knocked." The knight placed his armored palm down on the table and started fiddling with it as he continued. "No, I'm less concerned about what will happen if you leave, than what happens if you stay. It wouldn't be the first time you've said farewell only to come running to meet us later."

There was a sharp click and the gauntlet fell away. Underneath another layer of armor- this one chainmail, which the knight also removed. The revealed hand was pale and small with thin fingers and blue veins coursing across it. The palm still intentionally hidden by the knight. "Come let me share with you something."

“Gave me a right scare, y’did…” the archer approached slowly, somewhat calmed by the knight’s reassurance, but not entirely unguarded either. He settled near the table, hands gripping the back of a chair. “I’m listenin’.”

"I'd hazard a guess I was your age or about when I left my parent's farm to join the army. To me back then, to serve the king and the light was the highest calling there could ever be. I wanted to become a soldier- a soldier, son- not a knight. I wanted to give my life in service to what I'd been told my whole life was right and true."

The knight paused for a second. He stretched out his finger, and as he did small nicks became apparent. He seemed to shudder looking at it but continued with a level voice.

"But idealism isn't all it's cracked up to be. The Alvarisian army didn't want me. I was too young, too small, and too weak. In some regards I still am..." He trailed off for a moment before balling his fist and spinning it around. "I was lucky to be taken in as a squire for a knight, and to eventually become a Guardian Knight myself, but my road wasn't without bumps and detours. And I didn't end up where I had originally hoped. Nor would I have wanted to. I went to war."

Finally opening up his palm the flesh was dark and cracked, one big callus surrounded by an arthritic claw of a hand. It spoke volumes more than anything the man it belonged to had ever said, and yet there was still more even it wasn't willing to share.

"I fought against an evil queen. I wept when a good queen died. They were the same person." He turned his hand back and forth, like night and day. "When did I realise I fought for what I knew was right and not for what I thought was right? I don't know, but it took too long. Far too long."

"Boy, this quest is something I believe in, more than anything before, and I would have as many people I trust as I can journey on it with me, but not for the adventure or the glory. Not for the sake of friendship or self righteousness. Any and everyone that goes down this path will have to kill, and see friends killed. They will be broken and have to push on as though they aren't. I should know, it's not the first time I believed in something with all my heart."

The man punctuated his story by replacing his glove and gauntlet, once again becoming naught but armor. Opening the window he added, "Despite this, let not man guide your actions, but the Light. Whether you join us or stay, you have my gratitude."

Over the course of Jax’s tale, Herlewin had shifted from standing over his chair to a pensive sitting position, weighing the knight’s words. It took a few moments for the boy to answer.

“If ye really believ’n this, if what we’re doin’s truly fer the best…”

His words trailed a bit, face contorting into a grimace as he processed the coming words.

“...then seein’ it through’s the only way we make the deaths worthwhile. I’ll join ye, an’ I’ll be a killer if I have ter be, ‘n shadow befall me should I stray otherwise.”

Eyes full of determination, Herlewin stood up and extended his hand across the table.

“No sense tellin’ only half the tale, eh?”

Jax took the boy’s hand in a firm shake. The weight of the gauntlet was nothing compared to the burden on either of their hearts. Nonetheless it did little to stop them from returning soon after the exchange.

_________________
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 Jul 07, 2019 12:22 pm
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Activity in the palace had long fallen into a lull as a brilliant full moon hung over the city of Imdalor. The hearths glowed softly, their embers providing scant heat and light in the chambers of the palace’s inhabitants as they slept at peace. Throughout the city, the magical lanterns continued to illuminate the major routes and pathways of Imdalor, as the stars twinkled above in the nighttime sky. Amelia had long since retired to her chambers after the day’s events. Herlewin’s return to the palace was most welcomed, but even greater still, she now knew for sure that her younger siblings were all alive and well. Knowing this, she had fallen into a deep sleep.

“Your highness,” came a whisper from the dark.

“You must wake, your highness,” came the voice once more.

“Princess Amelia, wake up!” commanded the voice.

Amelia stirred and was shocked to find Queen Leah leaning over her in close proximity. The woman seemed almost divine as the light of the moon illuminated her silver locks, though her forehead was creased with lines of worry and her lavender eyes seemed troubled. As her vision focused, Amelia noticed that all her things had been packed, her sword leaned against her bed as if she were about to leave.

“What is the matter?” asked Amelia sleepily, her senses still not about her as she sat up in her bed.

“Hurry, we must depart. All will be explained in due time,” replied the queen shortly. Amelia did as she was told and grabbed her things. Hastily, Queen Leah slipped out the door silently and then beckoned for Amelia to follow her. They walked briskly through the halls, keeping to the shadows as they went through the halls. Amelia soon became quite lost as they walked through the palace, the halls seemed almost like a maze and it appeared that the queen was taking care to make sure they were not being followed.

Finally, they stopped before a banner bearing the Emeldian Royal Crest. Looking quickly up and down the hall, Queen Leah pushed the banner aside, revealing a stone depiction of the crest. Amelia noted the craftsmanship of the carving as the queen placed her hand on the stone tome. The tome began to glow, much like a regular tome used for casting spells, as she whispered something that the princess could not quite catch. There was a moment of silence and then a click as the wall gave way to reveal the entrance of a tunnel. Queen Leah ushered Amelia into the tunnel as the entrance sealed behind them and conjured an orb of light, revealing another chamber with multiple paths.

The orb floated before them, guided by the queen, as Amelia followed the light warily. They walked in silence, a sense of dread growing in the pit of Amelia’s stomach as it dawned upon her that something very wrong was taking place. She gripped the pommel of her sword tightly as they continued to walk, readying herself to unsheathe her sword on a moment’s notice. Gradually, they approached what appeared to be a growing source of light from an alcove. She could hear the sounds of weapons and armour slightly echoing ahead, but she did not stop; she was ready to face whatever was coming. As she walked into the mouth of the alcove, the princess stopped and then looked back at the queen with confusion and shock. There, Jax, Herlewin, Helle, Barrett, Mitra, Toby and Princess Sophie stood in travel garments of their own.

“What is the meaning of this?!” demanded Amelia.

“My dear princess,” replied Queen Leah, her eyes flashing with unreadable emotion, “Treachery has befallen the Kingdom of Emeldia”

*****


The Sage-King sat at his desk, an orb of magic providing soft lighting to his study, as he scribbled down notes for his lessons. Although he was the sovereign of Emeldia, he still took great pride and interest as headmaster of the university. He spent many late nights in his study, his sanctuary away from the politics of the kingdom; it was a place where he could simply think in peace.

“Please do come in, Lord Ambergard” he said idly while stacking his papers on his desk “I will not ask you to reconsider, but I will ask you to think not only of your own future, but the future of all” He looked up at the young man who had silently entered his study with a weary expression. The Sage-King’s great age was truly apparent in this moment.

*****


“Come in! Come in!” spoke Master Carmichael hurriedly in a lowered voice as ushered the cloaked group into his home as quietly and as quickly as he could. Queen Leah shut the door quietly behind them and conjured an orb of light to illuminate the main chamber, fearing a fire would alert the enemy of their movements. It was quickly noted that they were not alone in these chambers, for Dinah exited from one of the rooms, likewise packed for a departure as the rest of the group had been.

“Now, what I shall show you is a secret of the Kingdom of Emeldia, and you must guard it with your life” spoke the old apothecary as he tapped the stone floor with his wooden staff. “As the Chief Royal Apothecary of Emeldia I was made privy to a secret passage allowing me direct access to the surrounding forest of Imdalor for the purpose of gathering fresh herbal ingredients for my potions” Master Carmichael immediately stopped tapping his staff on the ground as he felt a familiar magic run through his old body. “Ah, there we go”

Crouching to the ground, Master Carmichael put his hand onto the stone floor and began to whisper an incantation as the stones in the ground began to glow with the arcane writings of the Old Tongue. The ground trembled only slightly as the stones began to upheave themselves uncovering a large hole in the ground. The light from Queen Leah’s orb was enough to illuminate the mouth of the hole, revealing the first in what appeared to be a series of steps leading deep underground.

“You must hurry,” cautioned Master Carmichael “The quicker you depart, the further you will be from the castle by sunrise.”

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Helle and Jax were each given torches as they took the lead and entered the tunnel, followed by Herlewin and Barrett. Amelia and Tobias then entered the tunnel, followed closely by Mitra. Sophie faltered as she stepped towards the tunnel and looked back at Queen Leah with a look of fear.

“Worry not, my granddaughter” spoke the Queen knowingly “I will join you all shortly, but I must attend to a few things first” Sophie frowned at the statement and ran to her grandmother to hug her tightly.

“Be safe, nan” she whispered into her grandmother’s ear as the two hugged. Quickly, Sophie stepped away from her grandmother while taking a deep breath and entered the tunnel. She looked back over her shoulder, catching only the brief flash of light left in the wake of her grandmother’s teleportation.

Dinah was the last in the room and prepared to walk down the steps into the tunnel when Master Carmichael grabbed her wrist.

“My dear girl” he said solemnly “We stand at a crux of history in this very moment. Emeldia has not seen war within our borders for many centuries, but I fear we may not make it out unscathed from what brews within the empire this time. Know this, my child” he said while holding her hands in his “You are an exceptional being, and while I may not be a seer, I know that you are capable of great things and that you will do great things.” He reached into the pocket of his robe and pulled out a gold medallion and placed it into her hand “I wish I could have taught you so much more, but I know you will learn on your travels. This medallion is yours and you shall know when the time is right” He then took a vial from his shelf of elixirs and put it into her bag with a gentle pat. “Now go! Oh, how I wish it was me going into the tunnel, but my time has passed, and the future is yours!” He shooed Dinah into the tunnel and it magically sealed behind the group.

The pacing was quite shocking for the group, but as Master Carmichael had stated, they needed to get away from Imdalor as quickly as they could. The stairs continued downwards, only the light of torches providing them with sight as they traveled. Eventually the came to level ground and they walked along a meandering path for what felt like hours. There was not much talking, for they each had so much on their minds. What did this all mean? Were the King and Queen alright? What of the people of Imdalor?

Gradually, they could smell the scent of fresh air approaching as they walked. The manmade tunnel shifted form into a more naturally formed cave as they approached the source of fresh air. They continued walking until they found themselves in a tremendous cavern, a great breeze blew from the entrance where they could see the first rays of sunshine along the horizon. Looking behind them there were a number of caves, each quite similar to the other; it would be near impossible for them to find their way back now. They stepped out of the cavern’s entrance and found themselves deep in the forest. There were no signs or sounds of Imdalor to be heard – not even the now familiar hum of the orbs that protected the city walls.

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Mon Jul 08, 2019 7:25 pm
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Coming into a forest was a welcome relief from the caves, though the interruption of two nights’ sleep in a row was beginning to catch up to Herlewin and his mood was getting fouler by the minute. It didn’t help that his right shoe had managed to pick up a pebble somewhere back in those light-forsaken tunnels, and there hadn’t been a moment’s respite to rid himself of it since. To make matters even worse, he’d thought of something awful during the hours of silent marching, and much like the stone in his boot, it had rolled around his head for the whole trip.

“Alright, alright. Hold up. I ain’t takin’ another step ‘till I clear me clogs.”

And up the boy’s clogs went, deftly turned upside down as he balanced on one foot at a time.

“I’ve been on the road half me life, but the whole time I’ve known where I wanted that road t’ take me. We’ve been marchin’ fer hours and I’ve yet to hear a peep from anyone as to what in the shadow’d plains o’ the everdark is going on, or where we’re meant to be headin’.”

He leaned against a tree to put his shoes back on, took a deep breath, and spoke to the elephant in the woods.

“But what’s been bothrin’ me more ‘n not knowing where we’re goin’, is that it seems someone else does. Think on it. Not a day aft’r ‘Melia arrives ‘n that village midst of nighwhere, it’s attacked, ‘n not a day after we come to Emeldia, we’ve been sent on th’ run again. I don’t know the half of any of these royal dealin’s, but I know a fish when I smell one.”

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It made sense that the Sage-King had put two and two together. To say Lord Ambergard was not nervous would be an understatement; his heartbeat was the galloping of cavalry as the horn sounded. Would it be cowardly to admit he was wrong or should he follow through quickly, all for the sake of House Ambergard? For the sake Remora? The promise of power.

He approached the Sage King with an even pace, even in the quiet of this study the muted sound of footfalls on floorboard were still as nerve wracking as working up the courage and then making the journey to his door and slipping in. Here, all Tristan saw before him was not the Sage King but a man in the twilight of his life awaiting some horrible end. Perhaps he knew what was coming and had simply decided that he couldn't prevent it?



"Forgive the intrusion your majesty." Even now Tristan was polite.

"You are aware of then of what has transpired then? I should not be surprised."

Indecision had gripped his heart. This was murder. He was a lord, not an assassin. This was not His king but this university had been more a home to him than anything else since his sense of patriotism saw him out the door of the estate. The Sage King oversaw this university personally, killing the headmaster of a place of knowledge sat worse with him than Regicide.


"It would appear I've made a mistake. Your sons have silver tongues and their promises are venom. Snakes never uphold the end of their bargain."

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The mages...

They come for me...

They come through the forest...

The mages...



"In this world, is the destiny of man kind controlled by some transcendental entity or law?
Is it like the hand of God hovering above?
At least it is true, that man has no control, even over his own will."

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Wed Jul 17, 2019 10:28 am
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Jax waited quietly as each of the party was gathered, ready to defend the prince he was escorting, but growing more restless and worried as he gathered bits and pieces of what was going on. It did not help matters that Princess Amelia was suspiciously late to arrive, but once she had at least he knew she wasn't harmed in whatever exactly was happening. It pained him that he could not stay and protect the king and queen of this country as he failed to protect his own, but his charges were all the more important now because they too were willing to protect them too.

Once in the forest, Jax finally slowed the fast pace they were traveling at, in part to Herlewin's request to do so. Listening to the boy the knight had no answers to offer. Although he had war time experience, espionage and counter-espionage was outside his wheel house.

_________________
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'


Fri Jul 19, 2019 8:54 pm
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