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Mercenary on the Winds

Faith in the Spirits Arc 1: To Align the Stars

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Micheal kept looking for an opening. Fortunately for him the Altair Knights were more focused on the mercenaries, and they weren't really concerned with a lone guardsmen. Well, all except one reasonably attentive knight. "I can walk te my post mysel--" He looked at the man as he raised a finger to his lips. Micheal then nodded. The boy was his first real objective, along with the others in the caravan. "Assuming ye're not just saying this te turn on me later... They're also others in that caravan back there. I--" Micheal turned his head to look back over towards the boy, and noticed something... strange. Something moving on the top of the buildings. "...I think things have developed." The guards hadn't noticed anything out of the ordinary yet, which meant anything would be best left up to their roof crawling friend. But if it came down to it, he could make a distraction. Micheal looked at the captive wolf, hoping that the young man was more attentive than his captor, and tilted his head up slightly. Up to you, and whoever's on the roof. 


The Lieutenant took a deep breath watching the display in front of him. He couldn't tell if this was a genuine distraction, if they were mocking them, or if they were genuinely just this nonchalant. Though, there were only four or five of them, one less after the strange monster had just bolted off. No doubt out of fear, but it would probably be a reasonable idea to keep her in mind. A scared beast could also be a more dangerous one. One of the women seemed to be going around and whispering, and had come from the direction that the monster had run off in... 

He looked over, Maraval was still dealing with the elf, and now an armored feline woman. They just kept multiplyin-- He looked up randomly, and saw something that he was sure shouldn't have been there. That couldn't have been... Right? 


Maraval closed his eyes. The commander of the rabble was equally as uncooperative. He scowled, adding in a shake of his head, "You're the second person today to mention these Evokers. But you're also the second person to not have them standing before me to prove that you're not lying through your teeth. Even if those magical floozies were about... I'd still have more questions than answers." The man lowered his head, starting to chuckle a bit. "You know, I just remembered something too. I already overspoke with your subordinate, so I think its fine if I tell you a little more, yes? The people we're hunting for? They're clouded, lovely little half-breeds such as yourselves. That's not all, oh no. It turns out that we have very good reason to believe that the people who orchestrated the attack... Were acting on Lufiria's orders. If you're escorting the Evokers, that means you're allied with Glacies, and that means that you have some explaining to do as to why your ally has launched an attack on Hecatian soil. The international incident has already begun, bitch. A mission from the distant queen of the frigid, forgotten north means as much as your petty little lives do. So long as you stand before me, on Hecatian soil, you, the boy next you, the damned Evokers, none of you mean anything." 

He turned away from the pair towards his Lieutenant, "Search the wagons, and the locals." He looked back at Natalya with a smirk on his face, "If the locals were content to house traitors to the Alliance, then they're just as much suspects. Oh, and if they try to stop you, you have the authority to subdue them." 

Edited by Mercenary on the Winds

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"Siorel, now is not the time, I. Please." He moved to the side of Siorel, not trying to step in front of her this time, but at least moving so she wasn't resting on him anymore. He was trying his best to keep an eye on both the men in front of him and the leader of the group talking to Ingverd and Commander Natalya, but he quickly found his whole attention drawn towards the further away conversation. He'd said from the start of this that they shouldn't be the first to attack. And he knew that was true. But once again, just as it had been with Rustal, his anger continued to rise, filling him with a flame that suddenly sprung into existence around his fists as the leader called Commander Natalya a bitch, threatened their lives, a war, and then told his men to search the wagons and the innocent locals. Before he even realized it, he was stepping forward, fists aflame, meeting the man moving forward towards the wagons, and he just watched, almost like he was outside of his body, as his fist swung forward, crunching solidly into the mounted soldier in front of him. "We are not some lesser beings that you can fucking push around like we're nothing. Just try us and you'll find we're not some pushovers that you can intimidate. We're not involved in whatever nonsense plot you seem to think we are, but we're not going to sit here and let you treat us like trash!"

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Sixteen crawled along the roofs of the houses, keeping herself on the far side to avoid any prying eyes. Or as many as she could. She caught a few glances, but there was no going back now... Crawling along and hoping to the final house, she clawed her way down the side and into the treeline, keeping eyes on the situation... They really weren't paying any attention to their rear. Getting herself low to the ground, she crept up on the group, keeping eyes on the town guard. He'd definitely spotted her earlier. Hopefully he wouldn't blow this now...

Within a few feet now, Sixteen curled her tail forward, looking for an open spot in the Knight's armor... There. Around the neck. She sat up, pulled out the flux tome, and with a swift motion, drove the tip of her tail through his neck! He sputtered and coughed, her tail snapping back and out of him, as she readied a spell. "Run!"


"What do you want me to do about it?" Alvira replied with a shrug and a raised eyebrow, hearing the lead knight start raising his voice. She really didn't appreciate him calling Tasha a bitch, but she wasn't going to start anything until-- "Oh." That sure was Cinaed's fist. This was going to turn into combat--

Alvira's eye caught what Sixteen had finally been planning, one of the knights collapsing from a serious neck wound. "This is gonna get violent... Get ready, Gean! Lizardlady, if you can't fight, get out of here!"

Siorel almost clapped as Cinaed stepped forward to strike the knight, her knife spinning into her hand proper. "Don't you worry about me~! I can take care of myself in a fight. Let's get 'em~"


"Hm. How unfortunate. Negotiations have broken down." Versaris didn't hesitate a moment longer, his sword leaving its sheath in a swift motion. He took one heavy step forward and cut across the Captain's arm, sword up and at the ready to parry any of the men that decided to come to the man's aid. "Natalya, you have my authority to subdue them! All hands on deck!"

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The coming clouded arguing for him were a moment of ease, to be sure. While their attempts to argue against the leader's demands seemed to be innefective --much a testament to this knight's hardheadedness--, there seemed to be some important things outlined. Lufiria? That was far away, but most importantly, these people seemed to be representing Glacies. The very Glacies Üllr's grandfather spoke of, no doubt. For a moment, he looked at the tiger clouded with curiosity, hoping that something would come out of it.

Of course, no more than treaths came out of the knight leader's mouth. Sighing, Üllr lowered his head again, concentrating on his guard again, for whenever the knights decide to hassle him again... and, as if everything decided to happen all at once, one of the knight beside him coughed blood.

What.

"Run!"

A high pitched voice yelled from behind him, a tail piercing the guard. Well, it was do or die. He could get a cue that he shouldn't stay where he was.

"GRAAAAH!!" Whisking himself away with the force he could muster, Üllr took steps enough to put himself at a distance from the knights, "Let me go!!" Turning around, he took a defensive stance, watching what the knight would do now. If this were to turn into a brawl, Üllr wouldn't let his helpers do everything --not when he had a lot of misgivings with those knights himself.

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Everything was happening all at once.

First, the knight commander spilled the beans even more and mentioned Lufiria, which gained Gean's attention. Then he decided to forfeit his life by calling Tasha a bitch. That alone had Gean reaching for her axe, however it seemed Cin had already beat Gean to the punch. Literally.

The next thing she heard was a familiar voice yelling "Run!" while a knight in the back fell to his feet. Fully unhooking her axe, Gean gave a big sigh after Vira's warning. Gean's own temper was nearing the end of it's rope at this point. "Y'know what? Good. I'm looking forward to making some heads roll now." If these knights wanted to brawl and hurt insults, who were the Tigers to deny them what they truly deserve?

Edited by Bluemask 96

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As if their existing threats weren't enough, the knight captain decided to pull out all the stops to call Glacies traitors, personally insult her and the Evokers, and place the town's civilians under threat on top of that. Natalya might have had the patience to deal with it still by virtue of diplomacy, but it was clear that the others around her weren't having any of that, and if combat had already begun... Well, no coming back. It was them or the Knights. "Then you'll forgive us for treating your lives with the same disdain!" She spun about, getting her rifle in hand and taking a shot at one of the two remaining knights holding up the captive boy. "Tigers! Defend the townsfolk!"


"Mhm. You take care of the boy, I'll secure the caravan. They won't suspect me." Ferid surveyed the situation, and one way or another, things were going to blow up in a matter of seconds. The captain really couldn't seem to care less about operational security, throwing caution to the wind and accusing what was termed an official diplomatic mission of being traitors. Fool is too gentle a word for this blithering idiot. Hecatia is already on poor terms with Glacies, and now you're giving them reason to split from the Alliance entirely. Whose position is that supposed to strengthen? Warhawks like him were going to be the end of Hecatia one of these days. But more importantly, the figure atop the buildings made her move. "Go." He stayed still for just a bit longer, feigning shock to the lizardlike one's attack, before taking his spear in hand and running toward the captive caravan.

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Micheal started moving at Ferid's urging, if not a bit before as he watched the rooftop top arrival begin to make their move. Everything started happening all at once, as he darted by the elf struck at the rogue captain, and their commander spun about with the instrument on her back downing another of the guards that surrounded the boy. That just left him with the last one. His weapon was back at his post, but he just had to put the man off balance long enough for the wolf to put distance between them. Which he did but full body tackling the man to the ground. He quickly rolled off of him to avoid any retaliation, "Go now!" The mercenaries' leader called to defend the townsfolk, which meant that as long as he was necessary, he'd do what he could. If the knight from earlier was successful in freeing the people from the caravan, that would probably fall to him. He could only hope that the mercenaries were enough; the Altair Knights weren't bandits, or pirates--even if they were acting as such--they were knights of the realm. Perhaps this battalion had more fresh faces, or this could become an issue...


Persica had spent the majority of events focusing on getting things prepared to shelter people if things did in fact go south. Several papers with neatly written names, and things. She was no good with a weapon, or seeing blood. Not after everything that happened. So she would instead do everything else she could. The door opened, and Persica immediately whirled around to see Xanth standing in the doorway... with the knife strapped to his thigh. The same knife that he'd tried to use on the assailants from years past, and the same one that had been turned on him to take his voice, and nearly his life. 

"Xanth... what are you doing?" 

The young man looked down, and then started scribbling on a piece of paper. "I can't just sitting around and do nothing. I'm not going to let anyone put our home at risk." As he finished writing, a shot rang out. Xanth turned, and almost ran out of the building, but Persica grabbed his arm. "No... ... ... No, not again. Please... just leave this to them." 

Xanth just shook his head, not bothering to write a message for this one. The sad, but fierce look in his eyes would be enough. If there was to be fighting, he was going to be part of it, even if it just meant protecting the inn. Persica's eyes started to well up with tears as she squeezed her brother's arm. Then, they stopped, and Persica wiped her face. Meeting him with her own gaze. "I... ... ... I won't, I won't let you go alone. I don't want what happened to happen again."

Xanth shook his head even harder, and gently pulled his arm from his sister's grip. Quickly he wrote down another message, "Persica, please stay here. I'll be okay." Persica shook her head. What could she do? What could she say to stop him? Then Persica remembered that there were footsteps coming back into the inn earlier. She'd noticed them while she was recollecting the names of the people who lived in Liste, as well as their new arrivals. She could have sworn that it was Nyxied who had walked back inside. Surely she'd heard the gunshot. If Xanth wasn't going to listen to her, maybe he'd listen to a mercenary, and the woman who was responsible for giving them the chance to escape after all. "Just... wait here, Xanth." Persica turned, and ran to the room Nyx had chosen. Nyx surely would help them again, right? 


Maraval's words were met with swift, and surprisingly coordinated action. No sooner had the slights left his mouth, his arm felt searing pain as he took the scorching bite of the elf's steel. He was horrifically fast on the draw, but Maraval reacted quickly, putting space between him and the man. The tiger spun about and fired at one of the soldiers guarding the boy, and then the guard from earlier tackled the other, leaving the wolf free. "Damn you!" Maraval raised his voice, "Knights of Altair! Form up!" The man urged his horse onward, holding his injured arm, "Give these blithering idiots no quarter! Slaughter the cursed half-breeds, and set fire to anyone who dares to assist them! Find me a healer!"

The Lieutenant almost hadn't reacted to Cinead's sudden flare up, and then crushing blows. The blows were strong, but they hadn't been enough. He quickly unsheathed the sword at his side, and countered the man's blows connecting with Cinead's being, before pulling back. A faint smirk on the man's face. He couldn't have known that the weapon at his side was what it was, but he'd certainly pay for it. "You heard the captain! Form up! Block all of the escape routes, and send some of our forces to the east! See if we can't hem them in here. We outnumber them." 

The knights quickly formed up, with some of them taking off back down the pathway heeding the Lieutenant's call. The time for combat had come... 

Cav 5 starts 15 HP (Took 16 Damage from Cinead's sudden Attack!) 
Maraval starts with Half HP (Due to Ingverd's sudden Attack!) 

Cinead took 28 damage on counter from Cav 5, leaving him at 1 HP! 

DEPLOYMENT!

Objective: Defend and Survive for 7 Turns!

Mastery: None! 

Chapter3.png

Edited by Mercenary on the Winds

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Well, fuck. They were just getting even louder.

Being that this wasn’t Nyx’s fault, though, she felt as though it wasn’t mattering much that she wasn’t out there right now, though she vaguely heard someone running out of the inn. Was it one of the knights coming to antagonize Persica, and getting their ass kicked for it? She certainly hoped so.

”Well, I did say t’wasn’t gonna be my fault if dey got into a scrap.” Nyx muttered under her breath, and shed her new suit’s jacket and started getting the top off. Hell if she was going to sleep in these clothes - they probably needed to have sweat washed out of them, for one. Besides, it was just too damn hot.

Although, now she swore she was hearing footsteps coming… closer? Was someone seriously about to fuck up her well-deserved beauty sleep again? Well, maybe getting jabbed with an arrow would put them out of that mindset, as she gathered an arrow up and clutched it in her hand, ready to strike at whoever it may have been…

Unless it was Persica herself, trying to warn her about the nonsense outside. But there was no way she’d just come barging in on her now, right? Why would she, aside from worrying that she couldn’t handle herself?

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Persica both knocked, and entered Nyx's room at the same time. Freezing when she saw the arrow in the woman's hands, but she had to ask. She looked at Nyx eyes still a bit damp, "N-Nyxied... I, I are ye, uhhhh, not going to fight out there?" For a moment she pondered, and then let her ears droop a bit. "I, haha, I guess I... shouldn't have been too presumptuous." She looked at Nyx, she'd been removing the jacket she'd entered in, the opposite of what one would be doing if they were preparing for battle. She was still maybe the only one that could maybe speak some sense into Xanth. 

"I'm, I'm sorry. But, Nyxied... ... ...could you try to speak some sense into my brother? He... wants to go out there to fight, and the last time he did, he..." The thought trailed, but unlike the others it never came back. "Please. He remembers you... he won't listen to me, but he'll listen to a mercenary, and well... th' person who saved his life." Persica tried to put on a strong face, but the fear, and sadness were overwhelmingly evident on her face. She couldn't let him just go out there himself, even if she couldn't fight, maybe there was something she could do to keep him safe. Hopefully it never came to that, but the possibility existed. 

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Wait. Wait, wait, wait. What was she talking about now…?

Oh, shit, her brother. Nyx flung the arrow back onto the bed and groaned, cursing the awful luck she’d had to have ever ended up back in Hecatia. Clearly, someone was out to get her, as she grumbled before walking over to the door.

“Well, I wa’n’t gonna, cuz m’not too keen on pissin’ off th’ Knights more’n I already prob’ly ‘ave, but…” Nyx sighed, knowing fully well she was going to regret this later. “But shit, if yer bro’s gone out there inta’ tha’ mess, m’gonna just hafta bring ‘im back to ye again, ain’t I?” She placed a hand on top of Persica’s head, and leaned down so that she could look into the rabbit’s eyes. She was pretty cute, but now wasn’t the time for that sort of thinking.

”But m’only gonna do it if ye gimme a smile, n’not let yer fear get th’ est o’ ye. I saved ‘im once, n’I’ll do it again. ‘Sides, ye got th’best damn shot in the country ‘ere.” And, for once, she wasn’t drunk, to boot! Although she was kinda tired… hopefully that didn’t throw off her aim any.

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Renais' group had arrived right on time to hear their leader shout "Tigers defend the townsfolk", which more or less meant this situation went the direction the cleric didn't want it to go. "...you all heard her, let's get to work." She quickly got in position to keep the team stable and healthy.

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Syndra and her group had arrived to witness Cinaed deck one of the knights, and hear Natalya shout an order to the group. "Well, nothing else to do but make them pay for their arrogance. Come on, let's meet up with the others, our only way out is by fighting them off!" We're outnumbered by quite a bit, and they're likely to have Pure Weapons on them given the hatred they're spewing out. Still, we can't afford to fail here. 

 

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Cin grinned as first one, then the second fist collided solidly with the mounted man. The anger and frustration that had been simmering just below the surface had exploded, his normal gauntlets turned into full lower arm sleeves as he settled back into an offensive stance after his second hit. And then he felt it. He'd seen the sword sheathed at the man's side, but without seeing more of it, he hadn't realized just what it was. But as it bit into his side, just below his heart, he instantly could tell what it was as his flames instantly vanished. He collapsed to one knee with a guttural scream of pain, his vision starting to go black, the pain almost unbearable. No. Gotta. Fight. Stand up Cin. STAND UP! 

He barely staggered back to his feet, not sure how long he had been down. "P-pure... Pure weapons." He coughed, feeling the blood in his throat. Spitting it out, he staggered back a few steps, hand clutching the pulsing wound on his side. He could barely speak, he couldn't yell, but he had to make sure the others knew. "They're using pure weapons. C-careful..."

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"... Alright, did what I could. Natalya, the fort is yours." Versaris turned to leave, but his eye caught Aly, turning to her and giving her a very impromptu hug, kissing the top of her head. "Be safe." Without giving either of them a chance to properly reply, he dashed off towards Sarasin's manse. Javier will make it there on time, but Tio is going to hold them up if that man doesn't have horses on hand. We need them here NOW!

"Cin!" Pure weapons, it was always pure weapons with these kinds of people. Siorel held his arm for a moment to make sure he was standing, eyes following the man that had done this. She gripped the knife in her hand tightly.

Sixteen's surprise had been followed up by several members of the Tigers and town guard, leaving her free to dash off! She grabbed the dog boy's hand as she ran and dragged him along, making it close enough to the Tigers' side of things. "Th-There... You're safe! Haha! It worked~!"

Edited by Mel the DM

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The situation had developed far too quick, the knights were turning tail in a quick manner --surprisingly organized, and from their barks, they were going to strike back on their own terms, and fast. Others started following to the natural battleground outside, and another Clouded? He didn't really know what constituted as one or otherwise, but this girl looked quite different. Still, he also recognized her as the one that helped him out, making her tugging of his arm something of much less concerning "Huh...? Ah, thank you. I was done with these guys."

Others were joining the fray quickly, readying weapons against the knights, things were quite a bit more fair now. "Thanks for getting me out of there, but let me help. I can fight, and I want to get back at them."

Edited by Xinnidy

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Laniva stumbled quickly out the front door of the inn, the sounds of battle growing louder even as she continued trying to shake the last of her nap off. There was a distinct gunshot not too far off, its report unmistakable; if the Chief was in the thick of it, then there was no need to hesitate. 

Knights, huh... well, that's certainly a step up from rowdy bigots. Could call it a fair fight, but I get the feeling that we oughtn't give them that credit. I mean, they're still going around picking fights for who knows why... well, they probably said why, but I'm all the way back here, and...

She sighed, drawing her blade and sighing again as she glanced at it. It was looking a bit rough, despite only having seen a couple of battles. Need to get something better than this, soon...

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Miria had caught up to the group as the knights began a... withdrawal? No, it couldn't have been, they're reforming their ranks. There would be a fight. Making her way to the rest of the group, Tanya still in her arms, she finally let her go, "Tanya, please, can you gather yourself just a bit. We have a big fight happening, and I can't fight and also carry you." Miria's voice had a tinge of annoyance in it. She only hoped Tanya would listen and get herself together.

She armed herself with her sword, thankful for the armor so no one could see her sweat. The worry about the knights was still very much in her mind.

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Tanya was still vaguely dead. Or maybe it was just the numbness. Either way, she landed on the ground with a thump, and she groaned loudly as she attempted to pull herself up. “Okay, this has not been a good day for me.” She grumbled quietly as she pulled herself up to her feet, realizing as soon as she did that her head was pounding in pain.

”Okay, okay, no, we’re, uh. We’re not doing this. Sorry, gonna have to sit this fight out.” Plus, Tanya could tell that there were a lot of those so-called ‘pure weapons’ around the battlefield, and she really did not want to deal with those right now.

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"Let you help? But, where's your weap..." Now that Sixteen had a moment while everyone was reforming, she looked over the Clouded she'd helped save, not finding anything. She ran around him quickly, trying to find something hidden or otherwise weapon strapped to his waist. "Huhhhh...? So what do you... OH!" Sixteen finally ran back around in front of him, picked up his claw, held her own up and smiled wide, finally realizing. "We match! S-Sort of... Hehe~ But this is so neat! I haven't met anyone else with claws halfway like mine~"

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"...A weapon? I don't need..." Üllr responded slowly, watchful eye on this stranger making a circle around him. Thankfully, it was benign, and she was able to get the answer she wanted without need for words. It did bring a small bout of confidence, in the midst of everything.

"I use my claws, correct. They're good enough." Üllr rose his hands to demonstrate the point, their back against Sixteen, and curved his fingers slightly to accentuate. While they were not long, the nails were notably pointed, and shaded a natural black, in contrast to the blue fur that decorated his arm. "I know how to avoid hurting myself with heavy armor. You can trust me." It seemed Sixteen was happier just to see somebody with claws though, so he didn't need to explain himself much. "Are those scales? Then we both know how to fight with claws, good."

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"Yes~! My claws, my feet, my tail, are all scaled. I'll have to clean the end of my tail off after all this, too... My skin reflects liquids, but the scaled parts don't. How do you deal with blood in your fur? Do you have to bathe long? Is it uncomfortable? Do you ever snap a claw against harder plates and armor?" Sixteen rattled off a bunch of questions again, in her typical fashion, leaning left and right to get better looks over the boy... "Oh!" She snapped back up, tail slithering around a moment. "What's your name? I should remember to always start with that..."

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Oh. That was a lot of information at once, leaving a somewhat dazed Üllr at the scene. "...One, one question at a time." Processing everything she said, Üllr decided to prioritize her last question. It made the most sense to get that out of the way if they were going to fight against those knights. "Üllr. That's my name. You work for that woman, right?" He pointed towards the tiger clouded he remembered arguing with the knights, which he'd marked down mentally as an important person. "Oh, and, what's your name?"

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"Yes! That's Natalya. She's really sweet, but also will kick your ass if you cause problems... Mostly sweet. I'm Sixteen!" She lost her smile for a second as she thought about something, shaking her head. "Er, I'm nineteen. My name is Sixteen. That's better. It's nice to meet you, Üllr~! Let's kill them all, okay? Any humans that want to hurt Clouded are enemies of mine~ Make sure to use lethal force, yeah?" She smiled and got back down on all fours, ready to charge one of them. "I'll ask you more questions when we're done!"

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"Natalya." Üllr noted the name mentally, finally being able to peg something to the face. He would need to have a talk with her outside the heat of battle, but for now... he could certainly share Sixteen's enthusiasm. "I didn't know Sixteen could be a name. Won't forget, though." He nodded, a small grin as he felt emboldened --finally being able to get his comeuppance afainst those knights alongside other enthused clouded was cathartic, to be sure. "I was always planning lethal force with these guys."

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"Ye... Ye will?" Her clouds hanging over Persica seemed to part, and the sun peaked through for a moment. Persica hugged Nyx, almost not even realizing that she had. There was a single request attached, and now that Nyx would help her stop her brother from taking part in the fighting, she felt like she could smile. The speak with him."

Persica hugged Nyx again, this time entirely on purpose, and ran back out the door. Hopefully, Xanth wasn't silly enough to just rush out there after her asking him to wait. Sure enough, the other rabbit was still waiting in the lobby. Seeming impatient. She came back, and he turned to move out the door, "Wait, Xanth... Someone, someone wants to speak with you. Someone important, and you'll remember her." 

Xanth simply cocked an eyebrow, realizing that his sister had calmed down considerably since vanishing. He walked back inside, and looked down the hallway. Who exactly could Persica have spoken with? Who exactly would he have remembered?


The Knights quickly formed up, and cut off all avenues of escape. Maraval looked towards his lieutenant who was still issuing orders. He'd also taken a preemptive strike, but had been faster on the draw than he had with the elf. Though, with the frightening speed that the man moved with, Maraval thought that it may have been better not to even bother. 

However, the rest of the half-breeds had no chance of being anywhere near as threatening. "Knights of Altair! The enemy lies in front of us! The people of Liste have sanctioned this brazen obstruction of our mission! Spare the citizens, but if they try to save the fools who have come to the slaughter..." Maraval smiled grimly, "Add them to the list. Set their hiding places on fire if necessary. Let us show these mercenaries that there is a difference between us and petty sellswords!  Allow them close, and then overwhelm them! Our other forces will arrive shortly... but the these fools will never see them! Advance! For the glory of Hecatia!" 

Maraval rode over to his Lieutenant, and whispered into his ears, "Have the fresh recruits engage them first. Then we'll follow behind with the main force."


Late Night Questions

Spoiler

Three Days Ago (3 days after the events at Eibar) 

It was a clear moonlit night. A lone wagon was wheeling its way down a shoddily maintained road. All was quiet, except for the rhythmic breathing of the passengers, the creaking of the wheels, and the flipping of pages. Towards the back end of the wagon was an ice blue haired woman, with bright red eyes, and a silver haired man resting against her while she read. There was a small dim orb of light floating above the book, giving her enough light to make out the words.

Barely. The words were rather badly scribbled in the small book, and Marianne had to put her face to the page to try to make sense of it. After several more moments of trying, she quickly shut the notebook. "How on earth do you expect me to read this, Chris?" Marianne rolled her eyes, before placing the notebook in her lap. 

The journey had been quiet, and they only had to stop a couple times for other passengers. They'd both been bothered a couple times, but both she and Chris just stood out in a crowd. Telling people that they were performers when Chris had a sword at his hip also tended to get raised eyebrows. She looked at the sleeping man next to her; he appeared comfortable resting against her arm. Bet you appreciate that softness now, don't you? 

She had half a mind to poke him awake for the morning after they'd gotten off of the boat. After her performance, and too many sweets, Marianne had quickly crashed in their room. Only to be woken after what felt like ten minutes to Chris telling her to gather her things. He didn't explain until that evening, after she'd really woken up, about what he had done that night, and why they'd left so early. Marianne was furious when she realized that Chris had just left the Tigers to deal with the Crows alone after helping to rile them up. Surely the Tigers could handle it, but it wouldn't have killed them to stick around. They were in no rush.

Luckily for him, Marianne thought better of waking him now. She could tease him about his cute sleeping face in retaliation, and she quite liked him up against her. But before her thoughts could drift further in that direction, Marianne thought she heard voices from up ahead. Before she could perk up her ears, the wagon came to an abrupt stop at the driver's call. The notebook was knocked to the floor as Marianne quickly held Chris in case the stop did the same to him. 

"What the heck is going on?" Marianne said, slowly getting to her feet.

The rest of the passengers had been jolted awake, including Chris who was now looking around. Everyone seemed okay, so it didn't seem necessary to voice the question. She listened closely, there were voices outside now. At this time of night? What's this about?

"Thanks for that, Maria." 

Marianne looked over at Chris who, while he appeared alert, sounded anything but. After a couple of moments, the voice of the driver rang out loud and clear, "Sorry for the stop, but I need everyone to get off the wagon for a moment." The Lufirian pair looked at one another. This didn't sound like a robbery, or at least none that they'd ever been a part of. 

Marianne shrugged and moved to hop out of the wagon, when there were two pairs of footsteps that came around opposite sides of the wagon. There was also the familiar clanking of armor. The moment her feet hit the ground below, two armored men appeared with their hands on their swords. Their capes were worn to the side, and covered their off arm, and had one large star on them. 

"Alright, everyone out. This will be quick. We just have to check the wagon." One of the armored men said. The other took a quick glance at Marianne, raising an eyebrow, before turning his attention to the other passengers. The passengers hopped out, and once it was clear, the knight that had spoken hopped into the wagon. The other turned to the roused people, "Sorry for the late night stop, but as of recent, we, the Knights of Altair have been given a missive to investigate all wagons in a search for suspicious individuals potentially related to a recent theft."

"A theft?" One of the other passengers spoke up, an older woman and clearly annoyed at having been awoken. "Must be something damned valuable if the Knights are searching every wagon even if it's coming from Eibar."

"I bet it's some noblewoman's prized jewels or something, and Artorius just wants to feign interest." 

The group of passengers snickered, before the knight tapped the hilt of his sword. "None of that. This missive, while okayed by Regent Artorius, was given by Captain Altair herself." The armored man took a step forward, "We're searching for anything and anyone who might be associated with the theft of relics from the Axios Hall."

A hush fell over the passengers, but none more than Chris and Marianne. Marianne felt her pulse quicken, but couldn't look at Chris without likely arousing suspicion. Axios Hall?! But that's where the Princess… Oh hell… Marianne needed answers, but if she stuck out anymore than she had… Marianne cleared her throat, “S-sorry… I’m not from around here. But what’s the Axios Hall? What do you mean relics?” 

The knight squinted his eyes at Marianne. “Must be from Karavel or something to not know what the Axios Hall is. It’s the vault where the Hecatian relics from the great war twelve hundred years ago are stored. It's also Hecatia's birth place." 

“History has never really been my strong suit…" Marianne almost bit her tongue saying that. "But, that sounds like a real important place, so how did someone manage to steal anything from there?”

“It was a coordinated attack.” The second knight jumped out of the wagon, landing next to the other. “They only managed to steal a single relic, but considering that they overwhelmed the garrison… So they had to be good. The investigation is still ongoing, but the little that the knights have gotten from the people there is that this attack was mainly carried out by half breeds.”

Marianne did her best to maintain the facade, but anger and worry were both beginning to spike. She twitched at the half breed comment and opened her mouth to retort, when she felt a hand on her shoulder, and turned to see Chris smiling at her, before turning to the knight. “So if I’ve got this straight; you guys are stopping every wagon looking for clouded and monsters to interrogate them regarding this attack?” 

“It’s a crude way of going about things, but that’s right. The force that did this was nondescript, and apparently didn’t have anything on them in terms of identification. Well, most of them. There have been some conflicting reports, that there was a single pegasus rider amongst the attackers. A damn good one from the sounds of it, but no one got a good look.” The knight sighed, “But it doesn’t seem like there are any such individuals here. Apologies for the late night interruptio–Hmm?” The man noticed the sword at Chris’s hip, and looked him in the eye. 

“You a knight from somewhere? That’s a very high quality sword.” 

“Knight’s errant at best. I’m not much more than a wandering performer now.”

“With a sheath and handle that ornate, I find that a little hard to believe. Maybe you could tell me your name?” 

Chris rolled his eyes, “Christopher Safiric. I doubt you’ve heard it before; not exactly a well known guy. Sword's a family heirloom. Hell if I know where they got it, but I can certainly say that it’s not what you’re looking for.”

The man paused for a moment, seemingly weighing his options, but then there was the sound of a horse riding towards the group. 

“Sir Kaltus! We’ve just gotten information!” A woman’s voice rang out as the horse sped towards them. The rider deftly pulled her horse alongside the armored man, making it apparent that he was Kaltus. “They just confirmed the origin of that symbol they found on that piece of paper. Area Captain wants everyone back to the barracks so they can explain.” 

“Amalthea, what exactly did they figure out?”

The woman looked at the group, and then back at Kaltus, “It’s best not to say here. Area Captain said not to alarm the civilians. But…” She leaned off her horse, and whispered into the man’s ear. His head whipped towards her, a look of shock and confusion evident under the moonlight. 

“Durban, to the horses. We make for the barracks. Curses. Really was only a matter of time…” The knight turned and bowed back to the passengers. “Apologies again, you all can return to the wagon.” The two knights hurried off around the wagon. Another moment passed, and the three riders sped off into the night, leaving the passengers to funnel themselves back into the wagon. All except for Marianne and Chris. 

“Chris… You don’t think…” Marianne whispered. 

“There, there are no coincidences in this line of work… For it to have been the Axios Hall, clouded, and for there to have been reports of a pegasus rider. This isn’t good… This is awful actually. What the hell is the princess doing? She told us to lay low, why has she–” 

“She wouldn’t have done something like this. Not without a good reason. But, what do we do now?”

“...If she is the one who stole the relic, we’ll never catch her on foot. Damn, we didn’t ask when the attack took place either. She’s probably already long gone in the other direction if I had to guess. It seems like they’ve already figured out who was responsible too…” 

“Isn’t that odd though? The mission was set up in a way that no one was supposed to have anything that could identify them one way or the other. Generic weapons, armor, heck, I don’t think anyone involved was allowed to bring trinkets from their loved ones. Unless someone knew the Princess, they wouldn’t have been wearing anything that could identify her beyond what she looked like then. None of this makes sense…” 

“Oi! If ye two don’t git on, we’ll tell the driver to leave ye!” One of the passengers shouted. 

Chris thought for a moment, and then nodded, “Let’s continue on for the moment, and figure out what we’re going to do from there. Because we’re also going to have to evade suspicion now.” Chris took Marianne’s hand, and pulled her towards the wagon. What are you up to, Princess? The attack was well ahead of schedule, and there was still the chance that the attack would be unnecessary. Something had to have happened. The Princess wouldn’t have changed the plan without consulting anyone, especially not her. The oddities with the Knights seemingly already knowing who was involved was also a red flag to everything now suddenly happening. 

MAP START!

PLAYER PHASE TURN 1!

Chapter3.png

Edited by Mercenary on the Winds

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