The Isles of Aradia (IC/New Settlers Welcome.)

The realms where magic is the most prevalent. These are the realms of traditional fantasy but includes any setting where magic is the primary focus. Examples: LotR, Harry Potter, Dresden Files.

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Re: The Isles of Aradia (IC/New Settlers Welcome.)

Post by IronParagon » Sat Mar 09, 2019 11:55 am

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The Cardinal
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It was the first day of 1015AE. The Platinum Gardens was blanketed beneath a layer of snow so thick that the guards patrolling between the mansions were sinking into it up to their ankles with every step. That pale frost turned the splendor of the noble's quarter, its green gardens and golden statues and shining marble, into the same stark uniform white as the rest of the city. It wrought a stillness, a peace, to the palaces of the aristocracy.

But inside, peace was the last thing anyone could think about.

They had been arriving all day, from all parts of the city, the attendant vassals of that Most Ancient and Noble House of Blackthorne. Orys Waynrite had arrived first, with his sons Axl and Jaxon in tow. Next came Briona Manford, dressed in the dark clothes of a widow's mourning. She was far from the only woman in attendance; in the stead of Kai Cogworth came his elder sister Quella, Shiera Karhall strode into the hall with her pipe leaving a trail of blue smoke behind her, and when Lord Siegfried Rookwood arrived with his bannerman Kavin Falmar, his mother Barbrey was next out of the carriage behind them. Sir Valus Thormund, now Lord Valus Thormund, sat as far away from the Rookwoods as the table would allow. Sir Jaegar Warthorne came in while sharing a bawdy jape with Llewys Monmoth; the latter's father Lord Yven came behind them, looking displeased. Sir Jacques came last of all.

"You're late." The Bloodhawk's cold gaze tracked his son's progression into the hall. Other Lords were pleased to take their councils on round tables, where every man was an equal. Not so for the Blackthornes. The manor's hall had been decorated with a long table of white marble, spacious enough to seat dozens of guests beneath the sinister criss-crossing patterns of the vaulted stone ceiling overhead, and there was only enough room for one man at the head of that table. Dominic's chair was fashioned like the wings of a soaring griffin and was so large that it cast a shadow over the entire table, even upon its occupant. It looked less a lord's seat, and more a throne.

"I came as soon as I could, father," Jacques sighed, pulling out the seat to the Bloodhawk's right side and slouching into it. He flung one leg over the armrests and lounged back, fishing his pipe out of his cloak. "Manford's peasants have a hard time settling in, it would seem."

"They have lived so far in castles and houses." Lady Briona spoke up suddenly, her eyes narrowed at her future liege-lord. "Now you expect them to squat in mud-huts."

Sir Jacques snorted. "They should be grateful that Uncle Daxter's men bothered erecting those huts for them."

"You made them a shanty-town. A slum."

"Did you bark this much at my uncle Roderic, bitch? No wonder he fed himself to the Drakken rather than listen to another second of your nattering." The heir to House Blackthorne lit his pipe with a flick of a wooden match. The reflection of the spark in his grey eyes made it seem like they had flashed with sudden malice. "And no wonder your peasants got so proud of their pathetic selves. When we showed them the huts they started raising a clamor. Not enough space, they said. Not enough food. Like they deserved a palace each, the fucking insects. I told them what I've told you, that they should take what space they could get or they'd get nothing at all. One of them threw a rock at me. Missed, of course, as if some crofter could ever throw straight...but its the thought that counts, eh?"

Briona's mouth had tightened, her green eyes wide, and for once it seemed she had nothing to say.

Jacques gave her a weaselly grin, showing sharp, even white teeth. "So I have my guards take him to task right in front of the whole refugee train. They pull this peasant out, he's got a little daughter clinging to his leg, they push her off and they start going at the father with their cudgels. You've seen the ones, the heavy oakwood? They break bones like they were pottery." He was laughing now, and his uncle Axl was laughing with him. The other lords averted their eyes and kept silent. "So bits of this lackwit rock-thrower peasant start spraying everywhere, and one of them hits the daughter in the face, and she starts screaming. You know the way that children scream, that fucking high-pitched shriek that goes right through your head? Well Uncle Daxter is irked by it as much as anyone else, so he gets his sword out and rides the little shit up the side of her head with it. Only thing is, her head splits open like an egg, and now there's bits of her everywhere. Now the other peasants, they're just watching this, staring at it like cattle in a field, and the rock-thrower's wife is there among them and she's been screeching the whole time. And Uncle Daxter just looks at the bitch and tells her to clean it up!"

Axl roared with laughter as if it was some great punchline. His brother Jaxon smiled wanly, eyes unfocused. Lord Orys managed a polite chuckle. Shiera Karhall puffed on her pipe and said nothing. But Yven Monmoth and Quella Cogworth both looked sick. and Kavin Falmar was gazing at his future liege-lord with overt hatred. Even the jovial Sir Jaegar had stopped smiling.

Briona's nails had left gauges in the gold filigree on the marble table, and she rose to her feet in a rage. "Be damned, Dominic! Is this the legacy of your house? First Corcoran, now my own people--how much will it take before you curtail this weasel you call your son?!"

There was a long, painful silence. Dominic's stormcloud eyes bored into the woman. Nobody dared to make a sound, or even move, for what felt like hours. And the longer it went on, the more Lady Manford's resolve visibly waned, her rage melting away into regret.

"Sit down, woman," the Bloodhawk said at last, his baritone rumbling through the hall like rolling thunder. "Sir Jacques has won a victory at Nchurdamz. You have given me only losses, burdens and mouths to feed. You are a vassal without a keep and you present no asset to me whatsoever at this time. I will hear no council on how to raise my son from the likes of you."

Briona held out for a long moment. But then she sat, ashen-faced, and spoke no more. Jacques gave her a smug wink.

"Before we were interrupted," Shiera Karhall reminded them in a dry tone, "We were trying to speak of the Ludlow situation."

"Indeed," Yven Monmoth agreed, seemingly eager to change the subject. "Who is this Umbridge of Westgate, and how is it he knows of what transpired with the Accord?"

"It does not matter how they all know it," Quella Cogworth argued. She was an older woman with iron-grey hair and a brusque manner; she had been wild in her youth, people whispered, and a tryst with a sailor had left her with a bastard son. Quintin Cogworth had married her to one of his household knights, Galleon, in order to save her virtue. That knight had died at the Riverford, but she wore no clothes of mourning. According to those same rumors, she was more comfortable in the bronze armor that the men of her house wore than the bronze gown she was currently sporting. "It matters what we do about it next."

"Talia knows something. The fat craven of Sabre's whore, the one he can't even summon the courage to fuck." Sir Jacques grinned nastily. "She has my prisoner as well, Preston's widow Aislinn Corcoran. Let me bring them in and question them both, father."

"Question them like you questioned the girl's father?" Llewys Monmoth growled. "Sir Barra Corcoran was an honorable man, and deserved better."

Jacques' smile curdled like sour milk. "She questioned my power. He had to die. I'm the heir to this House, mongrel, and I'll not be questioned by the likes of you. Or her."

"It is true that Barra's death allowed me to take charge of my family," Valus Thormund reminded them, scratching at his neckbeard. "Without the exchanged killing of those hostages, I would never have been able to--"

"Would have been better if the Knoxes had killed you as well, so your whole cursed line could end," Siegfried Rookwood snapped, ever eager to get a chance to insult his rival. When his mother muttered at him, Siegfried waved her off angrily. "Let me alone, mother, I can speak for myself. We should have eyes on that island, Lord Blackthorne, lest a child is born to Rivka that they mean to use against us."

"Lord Ludlow had many daughters, several of whom remain unengaged," Barbrey Rookwood spoke up, ignoring her lordly son's eye-roll. "We could offer a bannerman as a husband to the eldest, Claire. That would allow us to maintain a presence at Caybourne."

Yven nodded. "A prudent idea. I do not believe we need to involve Talia any further in this. My niece has suffered enough since her father's death, and without Druun she has little martial power, for the Sabres still refuse to lift what few swords they have. Leave her be and allow her to grieve. Let us solve this Ludlow matter through diplomacy, not violence."

"The Butterfly Lord, fluttering around prettily with his talk of peace but accomplishing nothing," Jacques sneered. "I'll not take any Ludlow to wife, father. Their sire was a peasant from the Halfmoon, did you know? Disgusting. Mud runs in their veins where blood ought to be."

Dominic regarded his son grimly for a moment. He had been listening to his vassals' council in silence, with his grey eyes flitting between each one over his steepled fingers. Only now did he speak. "The follies of my thrice-great-grandsire have seen our family dance far too close mixing with commoners already. I would not have it happen again, any more than I would permit incest."

"All of you have eligible candidates for marriage in your households," Quella Cogworth pointed out. "Lord Rookwood, Lord Thormund, you are both without a wife. Monmoth's son and Desmond Karhall as well. All are of high birth...and so not one of you would consent to this."

Shiera Karhall exhaled a cloud of blue smoke, and stroked her chin. "It would need to be the least of us. The most meager landowner with the least storied family accomplishments. The lowest of all the Western lords."

All at once, everyone sitting around the table turned to look at Kavin Falmar.

The young lord blinked. "Me? But--"

"--but you'd rather be fucking one of your sheep, is it?" Axl Waynrite grunted, provoking a cackle from his nephew Jacques.

"G'wan with yeh, laddie," Sir Jaegar Warthorne, who was Falmar's brother-in-law, crowed as he thumped the slighter man affectionately on the shoulder. "Past time yeh were wedded."

Kavin squirmed in his seat. "I would rather...I mean, Lord Jaster asked me to..."

"I hardly think it matters what that boy asked of you anymore, does it?" The Bloodhawk asked quietly. "It is past time the House of Falmar made itself useful, something it has conspicuously failed to do in the past."

"You're my son's bannerman, Falmar, and you'll do as he commands," Barbery told him imperiously, and Siegfried huffed.

"It is settled then," Dominic continued, ignoring Kavin's feeble protests. "I will arrange a suitable guard. A loyal force, but non-partisan, should be appropriate...we do not wish the Accord to be too alarmed, as they might be if they see a full Blackthorne regiment landing on their shores. You may take Sir Desmond Karhall with you as well, and a small detachment of his own men."

Shiera's long elfin ears pricked up. "My son is occupied with the Knoxes in the Marshlands. He is a knight of prodigious talent, my lord, but even he cannot exist in two places at once."

"He shall not be there for much longer." Dominic's tone was dismissive. "I mean to lead the next attack on the Knox fortification at Dimhollow Mire myself. Sir Dorian Knox holds their last army in that swamp, and once they go down, Three Towers will be defenseless. I care not for fighting a war on two fronts, and I believe the Demons pose a more tangible threat."

"You speak as if you could end the war in a single battle, my lord." Yven Monmoth looked suspicious. "It is no mean feat. Between the marshmen and the orc tribes, the Knoxes have acquired enough native allies to have a significant terrain advantage over our forces. We might throw ten thousand men at them, or a hundred thousand, but the result will be the same."

Orys Waynrite had only heard one part of what his son-in-law had said, and had hyperfocused upon it. "My Lord, if you are to leave the city, I think now would be a most prudent time to choose a Hand." He puffed himself up, stroking his ridiculous chin-beard. "I am father to your bride, and grandfather to your children, and have been ally to both yourself and your father before you. Choose me and--"

The Bloodhawk silenced the old fool with a look. "I have already chosen a Hand."

Surprised looks swept across the room astride the faces of the bannermen. None of them knew. I suppose it is time to introduce myself, the Cardinal thought, and it was then he chose to move from the shadows where he'd been standing alongside the spymaster Sixx.

Lady Manford was the first to understand. "The...the priest? Dominic, you can't be serious..."

"Do I strike you as the kind of man to play some amusing practical joke upon my vassals, Briona?" The Bloodhawk did not wait for an answer but looked to the others. "Some of you may have not met Cardinal Steerpike before. He has been a close ally of mine for some time, although I confess I have not known it until recently."

"How?" Llewys Monmoth had ridden with the Cardinal back to the city, and even he seemed baffled.

Steerpike did not speak, but instead turned and beckoned. Four cloaked shadows moved into the chamber behind him. The Harbingers arranged themselves in formation by their master, and it was then that Sixx stepped forward to join them. He was one of them. He had always been one of them.

"It will be my honor to serve you all," the priest said then, bowing obsequiously, "Just as I serve your liege-lord."

And how the lords muttered amongst themselves then, as if their thoughts mattered, as if they could change this. Too late, Steerpike thought, and he struggled to suppress a grin. Far too late. Did your tall stone houses and your expensive clothes let you think you were any different from the rest of the scum that clings to the skin of the realm, my lords and ladies? You are cattle now. You are insects. My masterstroke is done, and your minds will burn with the light of the One True God whose name is Mordaghast.

"Lord Blackthorne, this cannot be," Orys Waynrite protested weakly,dabbing at his forehead with a handkerchief. "This priest is an Outlander. The West holds to no faith. And those creatures...dare I say it...they are witchcraft."

Yven Monmoth was equally affronted. "We need governance, my lord. We need what is best for the realm, not--"

"What is best for the realm?" Dominic repeated, and when he spoke the room immediately went silent. "I have meditated on that often, and studied it as well, since I was a boy. All of my studies have yielded me an answer. The realm is sick, my lords. The realm is frightened, and weak, and above all unstable."

Outside, the sun had gone behind a cloud, and it seemed in that moment the whole world darkened. Shadows nestled in the recesses of the Bloodhawk's features, and in that second he seemed like something far from human.

"What the realm needs," said Dominic Blackthorne, "is a king."

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Re: The Isles of Aradia (IC/New Settlers Welcome.)

Post by dinthalion » Sun Mar 10, 2019 7:05 am

Heartsone Estate

They discussed the 'security' excuses to keep people away. She touched her stomach unconsciously. She thought of the fun and excitement she'd had when Attia had helped her prepare for her first wedding. This time it would just be her maids. It felt like it would be somber rather then celebratory. She glanced at Casim, there would be no doubt this was just a marriage of necessity and politics. Really so was her last union but it hadn't felt that way on her wedding day.

Freyr glanced at Mancel when he said he would be returning to the mainland after the wedding. He hoped that meant he had decided not to surrender his duties to his young son. His young son, the young man who he would trust with his daughter, with his grandson. He looked at Casim, he was no warrior, that was for sure. He hoped he at least had wisdom. And he hoped too that he would treat his daughter with kindness and that they would find happiness.

"I think it would be best for them to stay here after the wedding." Freyr interjected.

"That will be up to Casim and I," Rivka replied softly, "what we think is best."

Freyr looked surprised but didn't reply.

Mancel went on to inform her that Lady Rasheba would join her guard. It seemed more then strange to her, not only that a woman would be a guard, such a thing from time to time had been heard of, but that a lady of a noble house would take such a role. She wasn't sure she was comfortable with it, but also knew it wasn't her call. She laughed but wondered too what joke she was missing when Elmer whispered about the dog comment.

Then he asked about dress makers. She smiled thinking of the out of style dress her father had had made for her. It wouldn’t fit her now, not with her expanded belly. But then she frowned, wouldn’t it have been nice to have a gown from the Emporium? Something cutting edge but not too controversial. But she wasn’t a part of that world anymore. She couldn’t be because of the child she carried. It would have been so nice to continue the life she had just begun becoming popular, attending parties and meeting artists. But carrying Jaster child meant that world was closed to her now, with all its excitement and frivolity. This child would mean danger and seclusion. But somehow it seemed worth it, even with all she would have to give up, she already loved the little girl inside her, already she knew she would give anything for her and it would be worth it.

“I would love it if you could talk to one of the dressmakers you know.” Rivka replied. She glanced at Casim. Everything was moving fast but she was starting to feel a sense of resolve. She smiled at him shyly, wondering if he might secretly be more nervous then she was.


-----------


Later that night

Rivka wasn’t as talkative as she used to be as Clarissa helped her undress. But once she was comfortably in her night dress she sat on the bed.

“Lord Ludlow said that Lady Rasheeba would join my guard.” She told her, “she offered on the boat to teach me how to use a sword. I’m going to learn. I don’t want to be afraid of the Bloodhawk anymore. I’m going to learn how to protect myself and my baby. I’m not afraid of the Blacktornes.”

Clarissa sat down next to her and spoke gently. “Its ok to have some fear. Only a fool wouldn’t in these days. As long as that fear doesn’t rule your life, doesn’t make decisions for you. Your father has made that mistake a time or two, if you pardon me speaking against my lord, I do respect him but…. What I’m saying in, trust in more then swords. Trust in your heart and your intelligence and in the Lady’s protection. Trust in those around you and in your own will.”

“I am afraid.” Rivka admitted with a sheepish smile, “But I still feel like through it all everything is going to be alright.”

She slept more soundly that night then she had in weeks.
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Re: The Isles of Aradia (IC/New Settlers Welcome.)

Post by Kotorchix » Mon Mar 11, 2019 1:11 am

Serenity Piers
Heartstone Estate
Sylvie Isle, Caybourne


Serenity’s eyes darted up as Drake cursed. Surprise was evident on her features for only the briefest of moments before a tiny smile chased it away. She giggled as he jested on scooping her away, trying to hide her blush – and looking anywhere except where Rasheba tailed them.

“I dare say my aunt would think you were attempting to elope if you swept me off my feet,” she chimed, taking his arm.

She didn’t say another word out of the gardens and through the corridors, her mind abuzz. As they approached the door to her chambers, she spied the ever-watchful form of Willek. Already his orange glowing eyes had fallen upon them, squinting with that cattish expression, whiskers forward and ears back.

Drake hadn’t been to her quarters here at the Heartstone Estate before. The corridor they walked wasn’t truly inside the estate, open to the stars above with only a criss-crossed trellis to block the view. One side of the corridor had the same trellis curved down to offer some modicum of privacy, vines and delicate white flowers intertwining with the wooden design. Between the gaps of the trellis, they could spy flashes of yet another garden – this one filled with white roses.

Opposite the doors that led into her chambers, there was a small stone alcove for a guard – where Willek stood, wearing his Ludlow colors. The corner of his nostril twitched up the side of his face in an expression Serenity knew to be disapproval. So she paused before they could get in earshot of the grumpy old cat.

Gently, she reached up and kissed Drake on the cheek. She had to stand on her tiptoes and pull him down a little so she could reach. He was still so cold to the touch.

“Goodnight Drake,” she whispered, then turned and walked to the doors. Willek stepped over and swung one open for her, which she thanked him for and also bid him goodnight.

With the door closed behind her, she slumped against the wall and slammed her eyes shut.

Jennifer had been right. He was a specimen indeed. And more importantly, a lovely man. But the little girl inside her was what dragged her down the wall and sprung tears to her eyes.

Sitting on the ground, she stared with blurred vision at her childhood room. The fuzzy figure of Lady Violet stood in the place of honor on Serenity’s bedside table. She was just a little stuffed squirrel wearing a dainty purple dress with lace on the cuffs. But once in Serenity’s life she had been so important. She wasn’t even meant to be a toy – more a curiosity piece, but Serenity had taken the little lady everywhere with her as a child, like other girls would a doll.

Was fourteen years long enough to be a child?

She sniffled and climbed to her feet before setting about getting ready for bed.


Lady Claire Ludlow
The Wall, Ques Novich


Claire caught the brief expression that darted over Lyron’s face – the light dip of his brows and tightening of his lips. Irritation at being called out. But it was of no importance here. Even this talk of her father’s grief could wait – whether he would take the medicine was another discussion entirely. What mattered was finding Eason.

“Then we would appreciate help in searching those areas,” Claire said.

“I believe Commodore Moxus has likely started following his investigation by now,” Lyron said, more to Claire than Divankul. “I think he was going to see the arcaneologist in Maria Vale this very night.”


Commodore Moxus
Maria Vale, Caybourne


The hour had passed to the dawn of the next day when Moxus stepped off the yacht. The water lapping at the docks was black and a chill hung in the air. At this hour, few walked the piers or streets – even the women of less reputable character hid in their brothels, not daring to bare a leg to this frosty night.

He left the two guards who had accompanied him with the yacht, giving a firm command that they return home. He was going to do this alone.

The paved streets of Maria Vale passed beneath his pads. He kept his claws sheathed for stealth, although nothing about the gold-plated steel on his pauldron or his white garb and fur spoke of such a thing. Nor did the giant double-axe crossing his back which shimmered beneath each street lamp he passed.

He had not been given orders to do this. But already in secretive comments, he had heard more than several people about the Heartstone Estate whisper. That their lord was too grieved to rule as he had once. That Lady Amarika was the true backbone of the Accord. He had told the cubs, Lyron and Claire, of his plan to trace the Shifter. But they hadn’t needed to know it was not an order from their sire and kin.

The last drunk stumbled from a closing bar, the stench of rum following him out with a light hint of Sylvbruuq on the air. The man watched Moxus, wafting in the sea breeze like a young sapling. A young sapling with a stick which he promptly pulled out to piss in the wake of the great cat’s passing.

Youth of a city meant nothing. Although barely ten years Moxus’ senior, this city already had its old parts. The shantytowns where his kin set up shop, the corners where the treatment of mould was neglected, the aging structures that should have been replaced long ago. Although his time in the service of the Accord had been in bettering the family and their lands, poverty still existed. Men, elves, and kin alike all spent their gains on trivial things. On families that would never stop growing as long as one had a womb or seed.

And the night always held shadows. No place was perfect, no matter what rules were implemented by the ruling class.

The apartment he found himself standing outside was unassuming. Like many structures in the older part of Maria Vale, it was two stories and compact with its neighbours, barely a seam of space between them so in reality the entire street had one long building. This strip had been built shortly after the initial town established. It had meant to accommodate the influx of settlers of the time, but now it was just another place to put warm bodies.

This one had a brightly painted blue door, a hue like that of the sky. And artfully scrawled across it was the title: ‘Lord Ixium Edelis, Arcaneologist’.

The man within was no lord. It was a ridiculous name. Moxus took the three steps up to the landing and thudded his paw against the door twice.

He heard something smash upstairs, then a muffled curse. Next came the thudding of footsteps, another curse and then the typical tripping of a human’s steps down stairs. The blue door opened a crack and a beady blue eye peeked out at him.

“Wot d’ fock’d’ya want, whiskers?”

Moxus gave the door a nudge, forcing the man inside to stumble back as he walked on in. Immediately he was hit by a chemical stench – like alcohol, but so much… worse. He wrinkled his nose, moving to cover his mouth as he looked at the human – and glared.

“Is the decency to dress before answering a summons too much to ask?”

“M’ya,” the man muttered, shutting the door behind him. “We ‘ave a meetin’? Who d’fock’d set it oop a time loike dis?”

Ixium Edelis was of average height for a human. His skin was pale, his form thin. His black hair was greased into a style Moxus had only seen in Everglow and stubble covered his face. Alcohol rose from the man in fumes, making it difficult for the huge cat to keep his eyes open, they stung so. Moxus had never been the best at judging age when it came to humans or elves, but this one was likely in its prime… if such a thing could ever be said of humans.

Stark naked, the man muttered his way back to the stairs and began to climb them.

Moxus averted his gaze and instead chose to look around the entry room. It couldn’t be called a foyer, it was simply too small. The stairs came out almost directly at the front door with a narrow hallway leading to the kitchen and living space.

But the living space had been converted into something from a scholar’s wet dream. Hunching his way through the thin doorway, Moxus entered what could only be called a laboratory. Tables and cupboards lined the small room much like a kitchen, but bookcases were crammed in the corners, books spilling everywhere. Vials of liquid hung in tiny hammocks beneath the cupboards, some labelled, most not. A cauldron was nestled into the dark fireplace, the stone structure itself seemingly crammed in here at the last possible minute. But the most space was devoted to a large circle of chalk on the floor.

There was nothing intricate to the circle’s design. It was in fact, just a perfect circle.

Some superstitious part of Moxus kept him from stepping over the chalk line. He bumped his head on the ceiling and shook free some dust from his mane, a low growl in his throat. Above him, he heard Ixium’s footsteps again as the man headed for the stairs.

“Awoight,” Ixium muttered, now wearing pants and a loose red shirt as he appeared in the doorway. He was still barefoot and rubbed crusts of sleep from his eyes. “Moxus, ain’id? Ya know I don’ do dis f’free, roight?”

“Even in the service of your lord, finding his lost spawn?”

“Spawn?” Ixium echoed. “Phaw, who talks loike dat? ‘Is lil brat, ye. Still costs me t’ do dis, ya know.”

Moxus looked dubiously at the chalk circle on the floor. “It does not look expensive.” He turned his gaze back on the human. “And payment was already settled. Your memory does not seem to be well-tuned.”

“Well, y’got me thar,” the man said with a toothy grin, exposing a gold canine. He picked up a small pouch and emptied a pinch of chalk onto his palm before rubbing his hands together furiously.

“Ever been on a trip loike dis?”

“No,” Moxus said firmly. “But do this thing. I wish it to be over.”

“Awoight, step in.”

Moxus lifted a foot to step over the chalk, then hesitated. He put his paw back down, looking at Ixium. “Are you still inebriated?”

“Fock naw,” Ixium muttered, making a vague wage of his hand. Chalk dusted into the air. “Wouldn’ do dis wid dat shite in m’mind. Go on, git in.”

The giant cat stepped into the circle, hunching his head down so he didn’t bump it on the ceiling again. Ixium Edelis moved to the fireplace, reaching in to smear some coal on his fingers before mixing it with the chalk in his palm. A tiny flicker of flame danced to life in his fingers, turning a light hue of green.

“Is this witchcraft?”

“Th’ craft of a witch, naw. ‘Tis my craft. An’ I ain’d no witch. Y’ read m’door on d’way in, ye? Arcaneologist. That’s a science-man’s name.”

“How is that… science?” Moxus grunted.

“Magic science,” Ixium grinned. “Now… ‘fore I do dis… can y’mind me where’m meanna be sending ya off t’?”

“We spoke of this earlier.”

“Frankly, m’fine kit, I dun’member ever speakin’ t’ya. Summat ‘bout the lord, fo’sure, an’ some clinks o’ gold, I ‘member dem. But you… dun ‘member ya bein’ a cat.”

“I assure you, I was always a ‘cat’.”

“Hmm, I’ll ‘ave t’take yer word for it,” Ixium shrugged. “Now… destination, fluffbum.”

Moxus felt his hackles rise, but he soothed down the anger within. “When last we spoke, we talked of the red-maned children. One a woman, the other a babe. They gave you a vast sum of gold.”

“Red-‘ead, I ‘member,” the arcaneologist said with another glint of his gold tooth. He nodded a few times. “Ye, I ‘member. Y’wan’ me to send ya off where I put ‘er down.”

Moxus gave a slow nod of his head, again careful of the height constriction. But had he no more than raised his head again, Ixium was waving his chalky coal-covered hands and the light green fire within them.

The air left his lungs in such a rush he was winded. A white glare settled over his vision and every bone in his body felt like it was being stretched away from the next. His jaw clenched, teeth cutting into his own gums.

Flimsy wood gave way beneath his large form, cracking away from him as a shrill scream sounded in his ear. He hit the ground with such force, he exhaled air he didn’t believe could have even remained after the last winding. Slowly, his vision returned as he blinked, painfully easing himself up into a sitting position.

Gentle hands helped him. Then a gnarly old branch of a hand also reached out to guide him to a stool. With confusion, he looked up at the roof of the shanty he had torn through. The scents and sounds of Everglow City permeated the air. Before him was a soft-faced elven youth and an ancient elf in a nightgown.

“Which fool was it this time?” the old man spat. “Ixium? I knew it! Drinking again, as always. Pilkenn, what did I tell you? Never rely on humans to do an elf’s job. Never.

“Are you well, sir?” the younger elf asked, gently touching Moxus’ shoulder.

“Humph,” Moxus grunted, then rolled his neck and looked up at the roof again. “I carry coin. I can pay for that.”

“Why don’t we install shutters!?” the old man went on, hobbling with his staff over to the next stool at the nearby table. He eased himself down with multiple creaks and scowled at the ceiling. “Just leave them open for any of Ixium’s night-time capers. Or day-time, for that matter!”

“He assured me he was not drunk.”

“Well, young man, you got deuced!” the wrinkled elf spat. The elder must have been older than Xankresh Avani to look this pathetic. “You’re lucky you didn’t get thrown off in the Sorrows, dealing with a fool like that!”

“I’m following the trail of a young female and an infant male,” Moxus said, fluffing out his mane to remove any splinters. “I believe this Ixium character sent them to you, only a few days ago.”

The old elf and young shared a glance. “The chalk dust…?” offered the younger.

“Foolishness,” the elder sighed, the fire fading from his tired eyes. “We thought maybe Ixium had sent someone and lost them. There is nothing we can do on this end, I’m afraid. They’re most likely dead, fused into the rock and soil. Or in the Void. It can happen theoretically, but-“

“There is a possibility the Void was their intended destination,” Moxus realized aloud. “There has been some speculation that the young female was a demon.”

Another shared glance between the two elves. The younger – Pilkenn – folded his-… Her? Its? Moxus had no clue. It was an elf. Pilkenn folded their arms over their chest and looked down at the floor. “Ixium should have felt that, sir. A sender channels a person through their own soul’s power.”

“Speak plain. This is my first dalliance into dark magics – of which I want no part of once this has passed.”

“What the child means,” said the elder, “is that Ixium, were he not a drunk at the time, would have been remotely intelligent enough to know something awful had passed through him. But, Grimalkin, I will tell you this of demons: Rarely does one separated from the whole wish to return to the Void.”

“Some days ago,” Pilkenn added, “we felt the air shift like someone had been sent here. But only Ixium’s chalk dust fell to the floor.”

“Who are you?” the elder asked. “Who is the child this demon took?”

“I am Commodore Moxus of Caybourne. The child is Eason Ludlow, second heir to the Ludlow Accord, the ruling house of Caybourne to the east,” Moxus explained.

“Oh,” muttered the old elf, glancing at his companion before chuckling. “I’m Elder Whitestrike. No fancy titles for us. This is my apprentice Pilkenn. And as sorry as I am for your loss of this… heir, we unfortunately can do little else for you.”

“Is there no way to know where they may have been displaced?” Moxus pressed. This was his one and only lead. He’d be damned if it was a dead end.

“No logic can dictate where a well-travelled mind goes,” Whitestrike sighed. “Especially a powerfully stupid one.”

“What reason does this demon have for taking the child?” Pilkenn asked. “If we cannot help you know where this pair went, perhaps we can help you reason where they might go next?”

“Not our business,” Whitestrike warned with something edging on a growl. “Forgive the child, Commodore. We are not guardsmen or investigators.”

Moxus glanced from one to the other, abruptly aware of some social subtlety he had missed. But the younger elf genuinely seemed to want to help. “There is no reason a demon would kill two members of the house and kidnap the second heir. The house has no history with demons that is unique to them alone.”

“Then it has been summoned,” said Pilkenn quietly. “Too specific a goal for that of a rampaging demon.” The young elf glanced to its master as if to gain credence. The old man gave one short nod.

The fur on the back of Moxus’ head rose again, his mane rippling with the effect. He breathed deeply, trying to keep his claws sheathed. But again and again, the name rolled about on his tongue: Blackthorne. Blackthorne. Blackthorne.

“Forget about the roof,” Whitespike said, creaking out of his seat. “Now, let’s see about getting you home direct. Take that fool Ixium out of the picture, yes?”
Isles of Aradia
The Runaway
Skyrim: Forged in Blood
The Witcher: Trial of the Spheres
The Blackblood Investigation

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Re: The Isles of Aradia (IC/New Settlers Welcome.)

Post by Skummy the Kitty » Mon Mar 11, 2019 8:03 am

Divan
The Wall, Ques Novich

He knew he would come off as asinine for his responses but this bothered Divan very little, what mattered wasn't that he be that same jovial creature that used to be the mask but rather people know him simply as he was. "Well, good to know you was in favor of the help, we have agents standing by for word of approval by the Accord and I will ensure that they are going this night. They'll keep an eye out for Moxus as well and try to relay information to him as and when. Now, on to other things- you've traveled a long way and right as you entered we re in discourse." he stood and a servant materialized to be relayed that messages to everyone were to be sent now to begin the operation and she left just as quickly.

"You cannot worry about your family's safety on an empty stomach, so I would ask you to follow for dinner. I do apologize if my mannerisms have given you the wrong impression as opposed to my reputation, I can be quite an ass sometimes. However I also believe Ash Brandy and Briochi food should smooth that over." He tapped out his pipe's contents and stowed the long necked piece away before letting the book flutter off. Another servant appeared, bowing, and ignoring Metheryl and Nimbe as she passed them by. A slender grimalkyn with hard eyes but a soft body language, she purred softly as Divan gestured "This is Risa, she'll be your attendant for the duration of your stay in the Wall, even if it may only be for this very night with your objective accomplished"

_______________________________________________________

Drake
Outside Serenity's Quarters, Heartsone Estate, Caybourne

Drake smiled and nodded his approval to the young lady and waved at her guardian as he left the corridor and wet back out to the courtyard. He took up a position of meditation int he cold winter air and began to simply breathe. He looked over his actions and thoughts over the course of this adventure and found himself still confused but more sure of his path the longer he stayed. He relished this time in the company of humans and it helped to ease his older wounds and scars that had begun to boil up thanks to the Riverford Massacre. However he could not shake the feeling he was adjusting the true outcome through his actions, bearing influence and bias onto a young woman who was not yet emotionally mature enough for these kinds of events.

He grumbled, fighting within himself before coming to a point that no matter what happened, he would be there to protect this young woman despite not knowing her for all that long. Something in her stirred up emotions and cares Drake had long since silenced a lifetime ago, whether or not this all worked out now was but a footnote to ensuring that Serenity would have a happy life regardless of what anyone else had to say on the matter. She reminded him so much of her, of those times back in the ancients...

The area around him had gone frigid int he night air, but to him it felt like home, he was no more cold than a drake was back in the northern wastes. It was comforting not to be bundled into the castle, suffocated by its walls and people and interactions. He breathed out and began his meditations again. This time he had silenced the arguments, and was now entranced going over his battle mindset as he tried to at least a few times in a week's cycle. He twitched his muscles in every way they were expected and without an inch of movement he acted out his combat within the confines of his mind and reminded his muscles of the guidance so that he would always be prepared for a battle.

His time outside also doubled as surveillance, he would not allow this family to be taken by surprise again and his field of perception radiated out as his let his mind empty out. The air around his dropped many more degrees of temperature, and he flexed his bodily senses and his innate demon sense outwards trying to stress his field of perception to cover the confines of the state. An impossible task without the use of magic but a dedicated mental and spiritual exercise nonetheless. If anyone was still watching they would just see a man sat in the cold garden silently and passively existing.
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Credit to Sammy and Nicodemus; one created my set for me, the other drew the source image as a request.
Thank You Both!

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Re: The Isles of Aradia (IC/New Settlers Welcome.)

Post by IronParagon » Wed Mar 13, 2019 4:18 am

_______________________________________________________________________
Lady Sabre
_______________________________________________________________________


Though they numbered a comparatively meager ten thousand, it still took them hours to leave the city.

Uncle Yven led the train, splendid in his forest-green steel armor. The howling winds made the aging warrior's dark cloak crack and whip around his form; the lining was stitched with orange patterns so that it looked like the wings of a red admiral butterfly. His son Llewys came beside him, armored in black, and over their heads flew the magnificent banner of the House of Monmoth, held on a twelve foot standard carried by Geraint Blackthorne. Talia was oddly moved to see her cousin riding Jaster's horse Gambit, which he must have salvaged from the Riverford. The lad has never given up his hope in my brother, after all this time. Behind them came a thousand heavily-armored cavalry and almost as many squires. The knights of Crystanthium made a magnificent sight, their multicolored armor glinting in the harsh winter morning sun.

Behind them came the rather less opulent sight of Siegfried Rookwood. The young, sullen warrior had inherited his father's ravenfeather cloak, and his helm had been customized with a black feather crest as well as a visor that curved out in a crow's beak. He looked like some monstrous metal bird of prey astride his black stallion. He had been tasked with leading the archers and infantry, it seemed; they ranged from tall fair-haired Coldharbour soldiers to doughty bearded mountain-dwarves to small, sly wood elven tribesmen in fur armor and wode.

Last but not least came the Bloodhawk himself. Lord Dominic had little need for ornament. His armor was silver plate over scale and blue leather, with little ornament. One might not have known it was him, save for the fact he was larger than any man had a right to be. Redwing was slung across his back; the rubies that made the eyes of its griffin's head pommel glittered. Jenys Waynrite bore the new Blackthorne standard beside him. With them came thousands of mounted knights; Talia soon lost count of even an approximate number for them, but it was far more than five thousand.

"Too much heavy horse," she said aloud, "And only a few thousand foot-soldiers. What kind of battle does my Uncle mean to fight? A destrier is not bred to navigate a swamp--"

"You worry far too much, Tali," Ameline Rookwood said. The tall, pale girls tone was as grim as ever. "Close the door and come inside, will you? You're getting snow on my dress."

Talia pursed her lips unhappily but did as her lady-in-waiting bid her, stepping away from the stone railing that overlooked the passing soldiers below and into the steamy heat of the tea-shop. In truth she was lucky to have been invited to this luncheon at all, as her Uncle had no doubt declared her a pariah. Briona Manford, who'd organized the whole thing, would take her defiance to Dominic Blackthorne wherever she could get it, it seemed, even if it meant inviting his disgraced niece for a round of eastern teas at the Golden Miles' most illustrious establishment.

The rush of cold from the outside had seemed to make Cecily Cogworth even more beautiful; high spots of color had appeared on her cheeks, and the wind had tousled her dark curls so they fell over her wide grey eyes. She was speaking with breathless excitement. "I do hope Lord Dominic ends the war for good and returns peace to the Isles! Wouldn't that be splendid?"

"This war has had grievous costs for us," Ameline told her glumly. "A victory will not bring back those we have lost."

The cheer vanished from Cecily, and her lip trembled. The girl's betrothed, Bedivere Blackthorne, had gone missing while on a voyage to the Untamed Isle; they had been close, and the loss still hurt her.

"Don't mind her, Cecily," stage-whispered Daena Thormund. She was as weighty as the rest of her family, but had kindly and pretty facial features that her cousin lord Valus lacked. "Rookwood is just a misery-guts because my uncle Gaeus took her mother's flower."

Ameline spluttered, her solemn demeanor forgotten. "He--he did not! You shut up, Thormund!"

"Girls, can we please be civil?" Quella Cogworth sighed, putting an arm round her niece's shoulders to comfort her. "Lord Dominic's victory will end any further suffering, and that's that."

Briona's daughter Penelope looked up shyly from her teacup. "Well, I hope Sir Llewys distinguishes himself. He's ever so gallant."

The girl's mother had been brooding, but now spoke up with her customary sharpness. "I'll hear no more talk of the Monmoth whelp, Penny. I swear it is the only thing I have heard you talk about since you met the boy. Listen to the lot of you, fawning over these puissant lords...not a one of you would be able for a true war council. Not even so-called-Lady-Blackthorne over there."

Talia looked up angrily. "Lady Manford, I--"

"Don't you Lady Manford me, young lady." Briona wagged a finger at her. "Do you have any idea how difficult it is to influence the senate as a woman? Now you've acting like a bull in a pottery shop, wading into schemes far above your own head, unmaking years of other women's good work."

"I have told you, whatever the Ludlows were planning, I have no part in it!"

"Ha! And yet your Uncle's spies boast of see your brother's gyrfalcon flying from Claire Ludlow's chambers every few minutes! Plotting tea parties, are you?"

"Her mother died," Talia said quietly, hurt by these accusations. "I would be remiss not to offer apologies for that, and for the way my uncle spoke to her at the Senate. If I was plotting, why would I have sent the most distinctive bird I own? Do you take me for a fool?"

"I think she does, Talia," Ameline muttered. "That's what she's been saying this whole time."

"Lady Sabre, is Rivka Vennett really pregnant with your brother's child?" Daena Thormund asked conspiratorially, as if this were mere gossip rather than a matter of life and death.

Talia opened her mouth to respond, then closed it. They all know now. And the more they know, the more dangerous a son would become. She spoke in her best diplomatic tones. "Regardless, a child's claim would be void. The House belongs to my Uncle now, and there is naught that anyone can do about it." Aradia help us all, if she exists. The fact he is Lord at all seems to suggest otherwise.

"Hail Lord Domimick!" cried Isolde Warthorne, thrusting her teacup in the air like it was a tankard. She was six years old but already had her father's fierce countenance and braided scarlet tresses. "Hail tae th'House o' Blackthorne! Smash Knoxes!"

"Smash Knoxes!" cheered her younger sisters in unison, who were four and two. They all crashed their teacups together in a toast, cracking the china and spilling the contents all over the table.

Everyone laughed at that, and it lifted the mood, although the servants who staffed the teashop seemed far from amused as they went to clean it up.

"How goes your pregnancy, Lady Warthorne?" Talia asked their mother Valoria, who was a few months with child.

"Just one normal little girl." There was a rather haunted edge to her smile as she laid a hand on her belly. "Just one, is all I ask, a sweet little even-tempered daughter..."

She was interrupted by her middle daughter Lynesse, who tugged at her mother's hair. "Ma. I wanna claymore."

"This lot will outstrip all of you someday," Briona warned them, though she smiled as she did it.

"I'll see they do, aye!" came a sudden boisterous voice to their right, and it was Sir Jaegar himself who had entered. The Warthorne girls squealed in delight at the sight of their father, and ran to meet him; laughing, he scooped them up in his broad arms and took turns throwing them an alarmingly high distance into their air like a juggler. They did not seem to mind, and only laughed all the harder.

"Never a dull moment," Valoria sighed, though there was affection in her tone. "What brings you here, husband?"

"Other than t'see m'girls?" Jaegar was holding his two youngest daughters upside-down by the ankles while the eldest sat on his shoulders, all of them still in fits of delight. "I was t'escort yer brother, Lori. Where's he got to, eh? FALMAR!" He roared suddenly, making all the servants jump. "GET IN HERE, YEH SHEEPLORD!"

"It's a ram," Kavin protested quietly, sliding into the room behind his brother-in-law. He wore a coat of green crushed velvet with silver buttons, and a white mantle flung back over one shoulder. A splendid outfit, yet the man wearing it seemed haggard and sad. He had not shaved in a few days; the stubble covering his jaw made him look older than his nineteen years. "How now, sister. Ladies."

"It is good to see you again, Kavin," Talia said softly, a smile touching her lips. They had not had much time together since he had stolen into her chambers many moons ago.

"Shouldn't you be riding with cousin Siegfried?" Ameline asked him.

"Alas, the Bloodhawk has other plans for me." Kavin scratched the back of his head sheepishly. "I'm to wed Claire Ludlow. Or journey to Caybourne and offer myself to her, at least."

Talia blinked. "I...I had not heard of this." A prudent political match, to be sure. She saw it in an instant; Kavin's family were barely more than landed knights, albeit ones that had no skill at arms. A political match of any standing was seen as a positive boon among their family, so they could not be possibly shamed by wedding one of peasant blood. It was a better opportunity still to place Blackthorne soldiers upon that island, so that they mgiht strangle any thoughts of revolution in the cradle. Yet still... He takes away the greatest friend and surest ally I have in the city. There was something else as well. Talia was visited by the image of a wedding. Claire the bride looked as beautiful in white as she'd been at the Senate, but Kavin beside her...spending time with Claire, developing little secrets and in-jokes with Claire, kissing Claire...it made Talia feel something she had never quite felt before. She did not quite know what to do with it.

Cecily was giving her a concerned look. "Lady Sabre, are you well? You're gone all red."

Talia realized that though she generally guarded her emotions expertly, this new feeling was one she had allowed to show on her face. She folded her arms and did her best to look nonchalant. "It's fine. I'm fine." Her cheeks were burning.

"A splendid match, I think," Briona Manford declared.

"It may wait until Rivka's married," Kavin said with an optimism he did not seem to feel. "They're sending invites out soon, I hear. We'll all be heading to Caybourne then."

"Oh, I do love weddings!" Daena Thormund beamed, clapping her plump hands. "And now we may have two, back-to-back! I hope it goes better than the last one. That was quite dreadful."

Talia looked into the dregs at the bottom of her teacup miserably, as the talk moved on to Sir Jacques, who'd been left in charge of the House in his father's absence, and which maiden he was going to marry. No friends in the city. Not welcome at home. Should I go to the tropics and live as a woods-witch?

She watched Kavin laughing at one of Quella Cogworth's jokes. He was a short man, and a poor warrior, but when he smiled the world seemed brighter. She felt that strange emotion again, that irrational feeling she could not quantify or explain. How it frustrated her. But it gave her hope, as well. Talia would not give up. She had friends and allies still. The Bloodhawk had neither, only those who feared him.

Yet a great many people fear him. Fear all the realm in fact. Talia gazed out the window at the falling snow. There must be something, anything, that can salvage this situation...

Jaster would have thought of something. Lunkheaded as he was, decisive action had always been his specialty. But he had left her, they had all left her, and she was alone. All she had left was...

The well of power within her stirred, and she shuddered. Mana, they called it, though she dare not think it, as if others might somehow hear her thoughts. The power to bend nature, to bend reality itself, to her will. She was gifted at it. Untrained, but talented. And it seemed nothing short of magic would save her now. Yet at first sign of it her companions would have her burned as a witch.

She needed to speak to someone, an elder sorcerer. As it happened, she only knew one.

"Knox!" she overheard Jaegar's youngest daughter Joanna cry, shaking her tiny fist.

Yes. Knox.

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Re: The Isles of Aradia (IC/New Settlers Welcome.)

Post by Kotorchix » Sun Mar 17, 2019 2:49 am

Mancel, Moxus, Elmer & Drake
Amayl’s Conservatory
Sylvie Isle, Caybourne

Joint-post with Skummy

Moxus was already stoking the fire in Amayl’s conservatory when Mancel came downstairs the next morning. It was early, barely light enough to show through the high windows of this room. But the day was gray and cold – cold enough that Mancel had opted to wear a cloak through the halls of the stone estate. The sun likely wouldn’t make its way to this room at all today.

Mancel made himself comfortable at the long table with his back to the fire. From the wrappings of his cloak, he produced a large bottle of rum-sylvbruuq. Moxus wordlessly took some crystal glasses from the china cabinet set against the far wall of the room. Four vessels were set on the table and Mancel began to pour.

He hadn’t even had breakfast yet. But he didn’t want it. Didn’t even really want the rum, either. But he took a swig and swished it around his mouth before downing it.

His gaze moved absently to his fingers wrapped loosely about the crystal. His hands were oversized and rough compared to the delicate beauty of the prismatic glass. Decades of hard work had gone into them. And how he had loved comparing them beside Amarika’s. So slender and soft. Smooth, like ivory. That one little freckle on the knuckle of her thumb, another tiny mark on her wrist. How their hands had looked as they held the tiny newborn paws of their twins together…

Moxus grunted, sliding a box along the table to Mancel as he sat down.

“You brought my marshbark,” Mancel observed dumbly, then gave a soft sigh. “Thank you.”

He reached over and opened the small walnut-wood box, preparing his pipe and the bark. Moxus stretched a long arm out and caught a piece of kindling aflame, lighting the pipe for his lord. The kindling then went back in the fire.

A few puffs and Mancel handed the pipe to Moxus. The great cat breathed the smoke in deeply before returning it.

There was a soft rap at the door before Elmer swung it open, admitting the colossal frame of Drake. The shorter elf came in after and shut the door behind them.

“Glad you could come,” Mancel said, although his voice’s only inflection was that of a man who wanted to curl up and sleep forever. He took another mouthful of rum. “Elmer suggested you might be a good man to have in this conversation, with the drow connection to demon hunting.”

Moxus stood, drawing himself up to his full height. He was a good four inches taller than the dark elf and reached over the wide table to offer a paw – to shake the elf’s hand. “I have heard good things of you.”

“This is Commodore Moxus, my captain-of-the-guard.”

Drake was dressed in his attire of brown linens, having been made aware of the exchange in rather vague detail, however he could not refuse a summons to be of aid. The failure of his detection ate at him, and he was hopeful of the fact that in this meeting he could close the book on this matter, or at least make up for his part.

He nodded smiling and took up Moxus' paw in a firm shake, there was a brief moment where both men could feel the other and size them up healthily in the one second exchange. Moxus could feel the cold discipline coming off of the General while Drake felt the warm passions of the Commodore. A silent appraisal that at the very least Drake felt far more comfortable with the large High Feline afterwards. His shoulders loosened and he seemed to almost shrink a half inch as his stature adjusted.

"It is quite a pleasure to meet you Commodore, I have heard some fine tales of you as well in snippets since I have come here, and I am not displeased to see their accuracy."

In another turn of phrase he was happy to know that the Accord was in such good hands as Moxus. Drake was dressed as if it were another day in the temperate springtime despite it still being frigid and harsh with a fireplace alight. This man lived entirely within the cold it would seem and no amount of winter would make a difference to him, he rolled his shoulders and nodded.

"I was told that this is the matter of the shifter, by that logic I am to infer that it is a discussion between your trusted counsel and myself being adept in the field and thus never leaves the confines of this room," Drake began, his tone was not cold and sharp but rather a general listing off so that they could get into the meat of the discussion.

"More than likely you want to know what it might be exactly, who sent it, and why."

Drake noticed Mancel's eyes and realized that he'd seen that look before, in his own face hundreds of years ago and a pang of heartache resurfaced as he saw parts of himself reflected in Mancel. His posture betrayed this and he patted his chest trying to resume control of his features, his face having fallen and a shadow coming over his piercing silver gaze.

All four men seated, Mancel gave a nod to confirm the drow’s assumption. Through the fog filling his mind, he realized there was still a flutter of surprise left to beat a pulse in his thoughts – Moxus very rarely spoke in niceties. Manners were nearly a foreign concept to the beast. But the Grimalkin seemed genuinely impressed by Drake and actually wanted to convey it.

“Tell him what you told me,” Mancel commanded Moxus.

The beast’s mane ruffled. “I have followed the path the shifter took to leave this place,” he rumbled. “The human calling itself an arcaneologist was of no help. But the two elves I spoke to when I reached the intended destination of the shifter and my lord’s cub were of some use.”

In short terms, Moxus explained what he had learned. That these ‘senders’ could feel the soul of a person pass through them as they sent them to other places. That the human had lost the shifter and Eason in his drunken state, completely ruining the trail. The pair of sender elves had then told him that if this shifter was in fact a demon, with such a specific quest it had most likely been summoned.

“This,” Mancel conjectured, “is where I believe we can assume Dominic Blackthorne is at fault.”

“It rubs me the wrong way,” Elmer admitted, stroking his bare-shaven chin. “As much as I would like to paint him the villain, the Bloodhawk is of the Stormlords. And from what I gather, their line don’t approve of magic.”

“A man can defy his morals in lieu of the bigger picture,” Mancel muttered back. “Maybe demons and magic are of some use to the Bloodhawk at this time.”

Drake combed his fingers through his hair as he began to weigh the facts of what he knew about the Blackthornes and their culture, history, and track record throughout the centuries. He seemed to look past the men in the room and be revisiting times long since past to identify and correlate the information. He was silent for a solid five minutes before he opened his mouth once more, having come back to the present to affirm his conclusion.

"It's not Blackthorne, the lineage suggests that despite the fact Dominic is most assuredly a magic wielder he despises its outward usage except in delicate operations- however if that were the case his spymaster- the enigmatic Mister Sixx would have been called in to resolve the matter. Mister Sixx being, what I presume to be a high elven caster, would not have had the raw energy needed alone to cast a summoning for such an interesting creature. It took Divankul some years in order to summon a comparably powerful demon and he is the most informative demonologist in all Aradia and one of its most powerful spellcasters."

With a breath Drake continued his winded explanation and exploration into the nature of the political climate of Aradia.

"That being said, I am not an expert on every last detail of the House, I know only small amounts more than any historian as I have interacted with the Household for centuries beyond this one. Dominic is one of the most pragmatic and utilitarian men I have ever met. He is awash with supreme genetic coding, above average intellect, and a sword that can vanquish his only true rivals. He can kill myself, and Xankresh, at the same time if we both charged at him I would wager. In that same breath he is one of the most prideful and snide men in all Aradia. He would never lose sight of the fact that he is above using such tactics as to summon demons. He will ensure you die either slowly or with one swift march of an army." He broke, taking a breath and swallowing, whetting his tongue again as his throat had begun to dry but he refused to indulge in liquors.

At this point, Elmer seemed to notice his physical discomfort and went to the cabinet to fetch some water seemingly provided earlier this morning by one of the servants. He filled Drake’s glass.

"I was there at the Riverford, saving Blackthorne's men from demons, moving in to escort Jaster and his officers out of the burning fortress city alongside Mossa Redoran. Had Jaster not indulged in heroics we could have saved his life in time, we were close enough to get him to safety. Had Dominic wanted his nephew dead truly he would've done so with his own two hands or by proxy. He would not have wasted such resources and a valuable strategic position like the midlands center of commerce for the entirety of Aradia. He would not have had such variables as allying with the Drow to ensure the death of Knox’s armies.”

“This shifter did not wish to wipe you out, didn't come to dispatch of key strategists such as Moxus, yourself, Rasheba, Amayl, or Elmer. It didn’t come to kill Rivka to ensure the removal of a challenge to Dominic by her birth of Jaster’s son, it didn't come to kill me to prevent you all from allying with the Alliance. It did not come here for any sort of political motivations, any form of military maneuvers, it snatched a young child, killed an older child, and removed what happiness Mancel had left in the world. If this demon’s summoner is anything like the monsters that sacked my city, they have a personal grudge against you, your family, and all that you stand for. It wants to feel you bleed and wither and die alone and a shadow like I nearly did a lifetime ago. It is not Blackthorne, as they don’t even know you.”

Mancel’s knuckles had gone white around the crystal glass. “There is no one to hate me so. Those I would call enemies all died a long time ago.”

Elmer’s gaze slipped to Drake. “I have been with this house since before they knew they were such. I do not doubt your analysis, Drake. The Blackthornes seem to have been eliminated from this discussion. But it still leaves a gaping hole in our investigation. We don’t even have a suspect now.”

“Why take Eason?” Mancel forced himself to release the glass before it would shatter. “Why take my boy? Why not kill him like Amarika and Jenny?”

“Is there significance in who the demon killed?” Moxus growled. “Nothing about them that would threaten someone else we knew?”

Mancel set his jaw. “Jennifer had a reputation, but as far as I know she did not sully any of her lovers’ names. Other than that, I don’t see what power she had or could grow into.”

“Amarika, however,” Elmer noted, “was your advisor. Perhaps not in title, but anyone close to this house knows of your bond with her. Since she was a child, I remember her guiding you through the subtleties of the noble houses. She had a fair grasp on politics like her father. I dare say you know even now you are lesser without her just for that alone.”

The lord closed his eyes for a long moment. He breathed deep, then gently let the air escape his lips. He took another swig of rum-sylvbruuq. “You and Claire would step up to advise me on those matters, as would Serenity I imagine – she’s a quick study. This summoner has taken my greatest love from me, but not all my political power.”

Moxus’ eyes flickered about the three other men before his gaze fell to the table. He hesitated, a great feat for one of such blunt mannerisms. But finally he spoke.

“This pains me to voice. Is it possible there is one in the family itself that would summon this shifter and do these things?”

Mancel and Elmer stared at him, then exchanged glances with Drake. Mancel spluttered and put his head in his hand at the mere thought, overwhelmed. Elmer’s eyes softened and he stared down at the table before finally speaking up.

“Of magical potential, I am the greatest in this house. But in my defence, I have no motive to-“

“Shut up, Elmer,” Mancel snapped. “I fucking know it wasn’t you.”

Drake rolled his shoulders, not so much in a shrug, more of a way to flex his joints a bit from sitting still and he rolled his neck as he thought. The exercise was merely there to clear out some of the new emotions rising up in his stomach and clear out his head.

"This would be easier if we had Divan with us, if anyone knows what demons are made to do its him, unfortunately that asshole is either dead or I'm killing him when I see him for what he did to everyone."

Drake downed the rest of the water he had been provided and gave Elmer a quick flash of a smile in thanks.

"To put it in a way that I can the best, I think Jennifer was a casualty of being easily manipulated to a secluded location for the shifter to steal her form. By the evidence the Shifter originally looked Drow- it would have never made it past the guards in that state but one random girl with a penchant for loving men? Easy meal." Drake said grimly, his face hardening as he thought over the events gain in his head, all while he and Elmer were out becoming friendly with a picnic of all fucking things, he looked pissed at himself.

"Amarika was to break you Mancel, as I said this isn't political, they want you to suffer. Does anyone outside the Accord practice magic but is related? Perhaps any surviving relatives that are estranged?"

He was simply trying to understand the situation, but Drake was looking more and more heated, his face had a sense of color in it for once and his skin was beginning to warm and look flushed. He had begun growing attached to these people and the thought of someone coming up to torment them was pissing him off.

A pause, and then a breath.

"Mancel, for all that is worth, none of your children would summon a demon, I may not have met them all but from what I've heard about them they might have some light grumblings here and there but they all are a family. It has to have come from someone outside of them- maybe the Rodin line is not as dead as you think it is? Or mayhaps ghosts of the past are here to take from you everything they think they are entitled to.”

“I spoke to the Vennet guard last night,” Elmer said. “And did a blood ritual against a sample Amayl provided. They are of a similar bloodline. But the boy was more surprised than I was to find a string of a noble line in his blood. Delighted, even. I don’t think he faked that. He did speak of a sister, a half-elf who is… surprisingly the companion of Claire and Lyron these days.”

Mancel looked at him sharply in suspicion.

“No,” Elmer said before the question could be asked. “She’s a girl of fifteen. And apparently very uninterested in being in any noble house. Friendship seems to be the motivation for her accompanying the children.”

Mancel’s attention returned to Drake. “There is Darcy Piers, the uncle of Serenity and her brothers. But whatever bad blood runs in their house was between him and their father – his brother Elsik. The last time I saw Darcy was at Elsik and Jacinta’s wedding when Darius was… four?”

“Six,” Elmer corrected. “993AE. Almost twenty-two years ago.”

“He has no reason to attack our family,” Mancel ended. “We’ve done nothing but take away a brother he apparently didn’t get along with in the first place. And Elsik has been dead for twelve years now.”

Elmer pressed his lips together, then shook his head. “Darcy is very separate from us. I’ve extended the courtesy of inviting him to Rivka and Casim’s wedding so he can meet you, Drake. If Mancel hadn’t taken Serenity under his wing as a ward, she would belong to him in all senses of the word. It is at least polite to let him know who his niece is marrying.” His eyes flitted away to stare down at the table.

"Then this matter is closed until an investigation can be conducted," Drake said solemnly. "Xankresh is probably taking it upon himself to send out some of the more experienced of the Alliance's people to find Eason and bring him home. If Divan is alive this creature won't hide from him for long, and Eason has distinctive features that look Stormborn. We have tools that can see through illusion, so the abduction cannot hide forever," he stroked his chin thoughtfully.

"We have no one as a lead in any of this, nobody that could slip a creature that stealthily behind so many of us. You have no political rivals that can't be answered. You said everyone who hates you is dead, leaving us with merely an obscure reasoning and conjecture on the nature of the event. It sort of makes me extremely furious to be honest, and brings up a lot of memories of me losing my family. So you'll have to excuse me I think I may have just splintered the arm of this chair with my hand."

He gently raised his hand and sure enough he had crushed it in his frustration and looked embarrassed, there was an imprint of his hand within it.
"I miss my wife too Mancel, always will. However I know who took her from me and when I find them again I will bring down all of the power of the ice. If it's within my power, I'll offer you that same promise that anyone who would cross you is going to feel my icy wrath whenever we might find them. I'm quite genuinely taken with this family as you have shown me a level of kindness and appreciation I haven't felt in ages, and I feel personally responsible for not protecting you as I should have. Whether or not I'm obligated is a moot point, I'm a drow, we kill demons it's our biology. Whoever did this won't get away with it, not for very long at least if I have something to say about it."

He was now a shade of dark azure, his grey skin had become flush and warmed and his piercing silver eyes had become more like soft and blue tinted windows to a man who was becoming fired up over a tragedy.

“Don’t worry about the chair,” Elmer said kindly, although he was still far away in thought. “And it is not your fault, drow or not. None of us could have seen this coming.”

Mancel met the giant drow’s gaze for a long moment. Without hesitation or flinching, he spoke in no uncertain terms with enough ice and hatred to send a chill down his companions’ spines. Even Moxus looked uncomfortable.

“The summoner is mine.”

The lord stood, grabbing up the bottle of rum-sylvbruuq. Without further conversation, he just left. The others stared at the door left ajar in his absence.
Isles of Aradia
The Runaway
Skyrim: Forged in Blood
The Witcher: Trial of the Spheres
The Blackblood Investigation

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Re: The Isles of Aradia (IC/New Settlers Welcome.)

Post by dinthalion » Thu Mar 21, 2019 5:57 am

Vilhelm’s Cabin


Vilhelm had taken to Ornia's lessons well. He had never had much of an education and was voracious to learn the history of Briochi and the Vennets and to find his place in it. His rightful place. He saw no reason his claim should be disputed. His father had been disowned but there was no indication that meant his whole line. The Lady Aradia had taken from Freyr his only son and the wife who could bare him more. Vilhelm was not religious at all but he knew most of the people were. He could use this to his advantage, paint it as a sign the Lady had rejected Freyr. The only problem was the rumor he had heard, the rumor that had now been confirmed by his spies. His cousin was with child. If she carried a boy....

"I hope their will be no reason to act drastically," he told Ornia, "If my uncle is willing to see reason he will step down peacefully. The people prefer me. I'm the rightful heir. The Lady herself has cleared a path for me. The people want peace, not to be dragged into war and dangerous alliances. With Freyr as lord they cannot break free of this tie to the Blacktornes, but when I take my rightful place, when it becomes apparent that since the time I came of age Freyr lost his right to lead Briochi... I have no tie to the Bloodhawk and his wars. And I want no part of Everglow and its politics and pretentions. Briochi is a region of builders and hard workers, of mountain people. The only alliance we need is with the drow who have shown themselves friend time and time again."

He glanced at Aoria and softened his voice, "And when I marry, when I have daughters and sons, they'll be more to me then pawns to be discarded when they hurt my reputation and sold just to boost it."

"They say I have no honor because my mother was not my father's wife. But my mother told me who I was." he went on, "I am a Vennet. Not just in name, I was born to lead the people. Born to take what is rightfully mine before my uncle destroys it."
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Re: The Isles of Aradia (IC/New Settlers Welcome.)

Post by IronParagon » Fri Mar 22, 2019 1:02 pm

_______________________________________________________________________
The Griffin's Bastard
_______________________________________________________________________


As the six riders crested the snowy hill, the tents of the Blackthorne encampment spread out into the distance like a sea of uniform blue silk. From this distance, one could see servants and squires and grooms scurrying back and forth from pavilion to pavilion, shovels in hand as they tried to clear the fresh layer of snow that had settled on the dirt paths overnight. Already, a troop of soldiers on horseback were winding their way up to greet them--no doubt the scouts had seen them coming for miles.

The Headhunter's monstrous greathelm turned to and fro as he inspected that sight. "All this splendor, and yet they cannot spare to pay adequately for our services?" The helmet turned the natural rasp in Spinner's voice into something frightening, an echoing whisper that seemed barely human. "We should turn off into the Marshes and give our swords to Dorian Knox. He's as stubborn and pious as his lord-father, but there's a fair chance he'll be less stingy."

"Now, eh, I'm loathe to agree with the Griffin's Bastard in any capacity, as well you know, Captain." Sir Gaeus' tone was obsequious. Evidently he was working very hard to stay in his commander's good graces. "And yet she has the right of it here, methinks. I'd sooner fight alongside Desmond Karhall and the Bloodhawk than a pack of Orcs--"

"The Griffin's Bastard is sitting right here, Thormund, and can hear you brown-nosing perfectly well," Arianne growled, patting her horses' mane. Jaster had been looking after it and had named the beast Foxtrot; she had not been pleased with this, as she preferred not to name animals so that they could remain easily interchangeable. It was stupid to become attached to a horse. And yet the lad had called the charger by the name so often that after a while Ari had found herself doing it as well, much to her chagrin, and so it had stuck. "A shame we couldn't dispel any notion of siding with the Knoxes before. My squire informs me that we have part of an Orc pack among our number, actually. Whose idea was that? You think the greenskin will be happy to kill his brethren, Spinner?"

The Headhunter yanked his blood bay around roughly to face them. "Remember your station, bastard. I'll take your council to a point, but you're here as an envoy, nothing more."

"So you keep saying. And so, no doubt, will the Bloodhawk. I suspect I'll be tired of hearing it by the time the day's over, though truth be told I didn't need to hear at all in the first place." Arianne was to act as a negotiator on the behalf of the Hunt; it was to be her task to ensure they were given a place in the coming battle. "I'd best be going then, if--kitten, how did I know you would try that?"

Jaster, positioned behind her, had edged Reaper forward a few steps to follow her. He had that stubborn look in his eye. "I'm your squire. I'm to follow you at all times."

"Maybe not in this situation though, eh?" Arianne's tone was testy; she had no doubt whatsoever that the lad knew he should not go, so she had little patience for this bout of feigned stupidity. She pushed Foxtrot forward a few steps and dropped her voice low. "I don't know what you're planning, but it isn't worth the risk."

"My uncle Yven is down there. And my cousin Llewys. He was at the Riverford, and he was with my people when they fled it." The lad clenched his fists so hard that the leather reigns he was was holding audibly creaked with the strain. "I know I let them down, let them all down, but I just want to know that they're safe...my friends, my wife, my sisters--"

"People you won't be seeing again if you're recognized," Arianne reminded him harshly. But then she saw the look in his eye, sighed, and softened her tone. "You put on a show of wanting to die before, kitten, and I'm glad you've remembered that certain people will be very pleased to have you alive. But you need to have patience. If we ingratiate ourselves here we'll be able to join the host when they go back to the city, and when you're there we can arrange something, understand? But you need to wait."

She could tell that he already knew this, but she also knew it was also something he needed someone else to say to him in order to properly rationalize it. Jaster's mouth was hardened into a grim line, the burns on the left side of his face contorting; he looked at her, then back to Gaeus, the Headhunter and their squires who were watching the exchange intently, and then finally back to her with a solemn nod.

"Good man. Stay with Gaeus, and keep your hood up. I'll be back before long." Arianne turned Foxtrout about without another word, and set off down the hill to meet the scouts. Why am I looking out for this lordling? What has he ever done for me? It didn't fit with her own image of herself, taking this lost boy under her wing. She was supposed to be completely independent, fierce and free, and now she had saddled herself with this...little brother.

Scowling, the Griffin's Bastard pushed Foxtrot into a canter. This situation made her feel all...tangled. Confused. The sooner she was out of it the better.

[ ➶ ]


"I've grown to know these lands, my Lord." Sir Desmond Karhall was the very image of a Western highborn knight; centuries of High Elven breeding had gifted him with fine angular features, long pointed ears, storm-grey eyes and streaming platinum-blonde hair that seemed to glow in the lantern-light. His armor was violet plate-and-scale studded with amtheysts and patterned with silver snowflake-shaped scrollwork. "My men have been routing the marshlanders, the Knoxes and even the Orcs for months. We have put towns and settlements beyond count to the torch, destroyed crops, cut off supply lines, and still Dorian Knox's men have resisted leaving their fortifications. It is not possible to--you."

The sudden venom in his tone, coupled with the immediate sour expression, robbed him of a fair portion of his beauty. Arianne had entered the Bloodhawk's council tent with a flourish, feeling no need to wait for a herald to announce her presence. it was a small and frugal quarters to match the comparatively small force that Lord Dominic had brought; a few lanterns, a few chairs, and a heavy oakwood table upon which was spread a map of the Marshes. Small wooden figurines of Griffins and Gauntlets littered that map, evidently designed to represent troop positions. Desmond was standing before it, while Lord Dominic was seated behind, watching everything over steepled fingers. Other than the guards and squires, they were alone. That was probably for the best. At least she would not have to deal with an entire room of old men harrumphing at her.

"Me!" Arianne agreed brightly. "How goes it, Desmond? Still wearing pretty outfits and bragging about how splendid you are, eh? You truly haven't changed since we were children."

"Sir. Address me as Sir, bastard," the knight growled, resting one gauntleted hand on the amethyst-encrusted hilt of the longsword sheathed at his hip. "i rejoiced when they told me you were dead."

"A most unchivalrous thing to say. Why, I doubt you're a knight at all. I've certainly seen no proof of your skill at arms." Arianne looked to one of the guards and stage-whispered; "Desmond used to get upstaged in the practice-yard by some servant girl, would you believe it?"

"You were never better than me, you cheated," Desmond snapped, his ears flattened back against his head like an angry cat's, and it was very easy to see him again as the snobby eleven-year old he had been when she had knocked him down over and over again all those years ago. "Lord Dominic, say but a word and I will personally throw this bastard out myself."

"Care for a rematch, Desmond?" Arianne tapped the hilt of her own sword and smiled calmly. "I wonder if you've improved much over these...what is it now...twelve years?" And then softer, with a hint of danger; "Fifteen years picking on peasants. Farmers, fishwives, old men, children. They can't make for very good practice. But maybe they're all you're able for."

Karhall opened his mouth to retaliate, but his retort was drowned out by a familiar reverberating baritone. "Leave us."

The knight seemed taken aback. "But my Lord--"

"Leave us, Karhall," Dominic repeated, with an edge to his tone that suggested he would not bother to say it a third time. "Let me speak to the woman alone."

Arianne batted her eyelashes at Karhall on his way out; fuming, he tried to shoulder into her, but she skipped nimbly away and danced over to the war-table, paying him no further mind and speaking now to the Bloodhawk. She peered at the map before her. "What have we here? Is that...Medger's Spine? I know they say you have a head for strategy, Uncle, but I don't see how you're going to manage to get Dorian Knox to line all his soldiers up in that creek for you to--"

"Quiet, bastard." Dominic's stormcloud eyes bored into her pitilessly. "Daxter Waynrite informed me of your survival. I gave you a job to do. What riches did you uncover from the Untamed isle? Did you find my nephew Bedivere? How about Sebastian Rookwood, or his squire Arthur Mannister?"

She felt his gaze like a physical weight. Trying to look untroubled, she slumped into a seat and produced her smoking-pipe. "We did uncover an old chest, filled to the brim with gold. Unfortunately it got eaten by a demon. As did the ship you gave me. And the crew I staffed it with. And everyone else on the expedition."

Lord Blackthorne rose slowly from his seat. He was a damnably large man, and when he stood, he seemed to keep going up and up forever. His shadow fell over her. "You failed me, then?"

Arianne packed herbs into the pipe, not meeting his eye. "There were demons. I had a hundred men. You expect me to vanquish them myself? Your nephew couldn't do that at the Riverford, and he had thirty thousand men."

"Tell me." Dominic moved round the table, still looming over her. "Your Headhunter sits over that hill with his four thousand sellswords. Plainly they come seeking coin. You know fully well that I have no use for those who fail in their duties. What makes you think you are so special that I will make you the exception to the rule?"

Arianne finally met his eye, pipe clenched between her teeth as she patted her pockets for a match. "Why, because we're family, Uncle."

The Bloodhawk regarded her for a moment in silence. Then, quick as a striking adder, quicker than any man of that size had any right to be, his hand came up and clenched around the pipe, millimeters from her face. The wooden lacquer crunched, reduced to powder in his grip. "Wrong answer, bastard," he whispered.

The Elf opened her mouth, letting the broken pipe-stem fall from her lips. She swallowed. "Ah." She'd burned through his patience even quicker than usual; best to change tack before he broke anything...more important. "Then how about this? My Captain hungers for glory, but my men hunger for gold. Your army is strong, aye, but the Knoxes still have you outnumbered three-to-one. I don't know what trick you're planning to pull, but you still need the numbers. The Riverford has thinned your armies, and you need all the swords you can get. You must have some role in this battle which will instill heavy casualties with a veneer of heroic sacrifice. Let us take it for you. The Headhunter will have his achievements, the men will have fattened coinpurses, and your own soldier's losses will be minimal. There is little risk for you here."

"Hm." Dominic straightened. "And what do you get from this?"

"I am a mercenary, a sellsword. Killing for coin is all I know." Sensing a lift in the tension, Arianne spread her hands in a shrug and kicked her legs up to rest on the wartable. "And you happen to pay the best, as you have on every job I've done for you. What kind of fool would turn her back on such a lucrative career? Before the Untamed Isle, ask yourself--did I ever fail you once? Let me make it up to you."

The Bloodhawk swatted her feet back to the ground, but she could see he'd been persuaded. "You're a creature of avarice and low cunning, bastard."

"Ouch. And proud of it. I sense a caveat incoming..."

"You should not be proud of anything." Dominic turned his back on her. "I may have a use for you. Go back to your Headhunter and tell him I will take a thousand of his best riders for my Vanguard."

She watched the back of his head, her ears twitching. "I still do not understand how you think the Knoxes will meet you on an open field, such that it would even necessitate a Vanguard."

"i do not owe you an explanation." The Bloodhawk took one of the gauntlet pieces from the table and turned it over and over in the lantern-light. "We will join in battle at Medger's Spine in the wane of the New Moon. And we will end this war, for good."

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Re: The Isles of Aradia (IC/New Settlers Welcome.)

Post by Skummy the Kitty » Sat Mar 23, 2019 12:14 am

Divan, Ques Novich
Goodbyes (a Joint post between me and Kotor)

Divan stared out as the carriage carried its occupants right back to Everglow in order to get home for preparations of a kind. They had not been clear but Divan knew it was time for Rivka to marry once more. He doubted he'd be welcome there but nobody would be able to stop him if he were to imply keep watch over his niece. Garin had been quiet and the polite conversations had gone over well after the initial meeting, all was well and Reynis was showing some signs of recovery. She was mute but the suppression was helping her to mend herself back together ti wasn't enough but it was a start.

He turned form the window and looked to his companion for the last while, the void looking witch that had gone to literal hell and back with him and they had seen the other's deepest flaws. A good friend indeed but he felt a noticeable tension. She was wary for Nimbe, and averting herself form looking upon Divan fully Kraai was vocal is would seem adamant about something to do with him. It was probably best that they part for the duration, as such dangers were not a welcome sign in his weakened state. He strode towards his new and close friend, with a confident gait that spelled out what he would bring to her before he even opened his mouth.

"Morning to you Metheryl, was our stay in this place of cold stone and magic comfortable enough after our journey together?" he looked tired, ragged almost, with a face that said he needed to rest a thousand more years after all that had transpired and all he continued on with. But he was happy enough just to be with company and sat himself.

"Truth be told," Metheryl said, "I have had little respite. Kraai grows more restless with each day, becoming more and more insistent. And with... with the girl's appearance, she grows ever more violent with her demands."

She did not seat herself. She hardly even noticed the social cue to do so. A steady breath escaped her before she finally looked at Divankul. For a long moment, she said nothing. Then she sat beside Divankul and gazed distantly at the window.

"You must think me a fool, my friend," she said softly.

"Not at all" Divan produced his pipe but simply chewed on its stem for a moment before using it to gesture "I'm a bit too weak to answer Kraai at this time, and so I cannot offer a solace to that quarrel...but you are not foolish nor are you weak. The fact she has not reclaimed control over you is proof" He tapped the pipe at empty air almost and shrugged.

"Perhaps, it is time that we part for the time, I do not know what you and the girl had to converse over and frankly I do not wish to know- as it is your personal issue. However if Kraai has grown restless, I can only presume she's angered with me or Reynis-anomalies we are" He replaced the pipe and stated out the window to the cold winter winds whipping about.
He let a hand wrap around her shoulder in a comforting manner, squeezing a bit to let her know he was being sincere, there was not to be falsehoods of trickery between the two of them at this junction.

Metheryl again said nothing for the longest moment. Then a strange expression came over her face - was it uncertainty? She looked sideways at Divankul before offering the tiniest of shrugs.

"You're right. I will be leaving before the day is done. I know what I have to do before I can truly take Kraai on. This isn't all about me anymore, Divankul. Personal or not, I wish to speak of... the girl."

Divan sighed and shrugged in response, motioning for her to give out her explanation. His face contorted in such a way to betray curiosity and concern, it stared off a bit beyond her as he spoke "Fine be ahead of it and let me understand the full ramifications then my friend, and I will make sure that you get the chance to also bid Reynis away too- I believe she may finally be able to comprehend her situation and she seems thankful for the assistance offered"

"Her name is Nimbe," Metheryl said softly. She rested her hands placidly in her lap before going on. "I told you before I was a mother, in a time much kinder while Holone still lived. Not that I ever became such a figure to her, but I felt comfort in knowing she came from me."

The next breath out held a tremor. "I was in the Void when she died, pregnant. Her child was cut from her and named Wynmae, another orphan to the Shatterlight Coven. We had little to no contact through her life... short as it was."
She pressed her lips together briefly and looked down at her hands. "Wynmae was banished from the Shatterlight Coven for adultery with an outsider. A merchant, human. His name was Ealthe Rodin... and with her, he had a daughter. Nimbe."

Divan stroked at his chin in thought, he knew about the Rodin line, mostly by virtue of being one of the elder officials for the University. He knew of the potentials laid into by that bloodline and he might've fathomed a much deeper problem if a halfbreed was to tap into two separate wells of power, or maybe that was not the issues- however it clung to the foreground of his mind.

"You know how I lost my wife, how Reynis was stolen, and in this we share a pain of being overtaken by the Void and unable to protect our own. This is a most disturbing turn of events indeed, but I don't understand the full ramifications of this. Is it on the level of my daughter being a half breed demon in terms of, lets say exponential risk? Or is it a personal matter only, that there is something that Kraai might want out of the girl that you can't allow for?"

"Whatever the reasons, I want to know the full weight of concerns if at all possible"

"Nimbe heard Kraai," Metheryl admitted. "I've never had anyone else hear her before, what only I hear. And Kraai recognized that she was weaker than I, more easily manipulated, if not outright controlled. It was she that realized my body she inhabits and that of Nimbe shared blood."

She brought her head up, sitting straight and tall. "Kraai has been insistent that you and Reynis need to die after what happened with the realm of the Shadow Dancers. I feel her pull on the girl has weakened since last night, possibly with our extended distance. But I felt it important that you know Kraai may have her sights on another vessel. With intentions of killing you and your daughter."

She put her hand up. "I know you will never let it come to that. But I wanted to warn you. Try as I might not to, I have grown fond of you and don't wish harm to come to you, Divankul."

Divan couldn't help but give a cocksure grin before shaking his head and wiping it off to take the matter seriously. He nodded trying not to smile at the thought of having an all out battle with Kraai once he had reached his full mortal strength. "I promise I do not mock your concerns, I am simply a bit of a child at heart in the face of a strong adversary" He waved his face away coming back to his feelings. "I understand very little of what actually occurred in that time, though I may have spoken some words to you I'm not quite of a mind to know the ramifications of my actions"

With a breath he continued on wards "I recognize Kraai as a grave threat to myself and Reynis, and I will implement my own countermeasures to ensure our safety. I have grown fond of you as well, it is not often I make friends Metheryl and you are one of them most assuredly. I thank you for the warning and will take it to heart." he gave a softer smile, a knowing look, and let himself relax a bit to let the sound of breath envelope the space for a moment or two to center them back.

Metheryl considered him before standing in a fluid motion. She hesitated, as if uncertain on what exactly a goodbye of this sort should entail. Then she huffed a sigh and sat back next to him. And she hugged him.

It was a stiff hug, like she didn't know how to actually embrace someone. Centuries of neglect had left a token of appreciation like this to rot the most quiet death. But she pulled back quickly and stood again, appearing somewhat flustered with her brief moment of emotion.

"Perhaps we will meet again in the Void," she said. "Safe travels, my friend."

Divan smiled, returned the hug with a bit more warmth to her to show her his appreciation, and he nodded at her final words of fleeting companionship. "safe travels, and may we figure out a way out of Kraai's grasp once and for all" With that he allowed her to be off in any manner she chose, he stood and seemed to have other things on his mind as well as he saw Metheryl off.
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Divan, Ques Novich
After Metheryl

Divan looked himself up and down, and frankly decided he was tired of looking the part of some keenly involved lord, wrapped up in leathers and silks. It was not who he was, or rather not who he had become. He was not cut out for politics if this entire career was anything to be said about it, certainly not with humanity. He sighed, it was time to mantle himself anew and give himself a better approximation of what he felt on the inside. First off her shore off his hair and let it flow outwards in a lofty mane of rich white and blended silvers. He brightened his eyes and let the red vanish at he let the power seep out from these two windows into his soul.

He felt restrained by his outfits and tore them away, fashioning himself a pair of open and flowing pants from a combination of his now torn clothing and magic he made a ragged gi by which to travel around in comfort. He was an elf, he could withstand the cold. He allowed his dense muscles to expand to fit his new body type and show off his drow strength, he had to augment that through a complicated magic but all was well. He now had a filled out and deeply toned body to match the strength of his spirit. tattoos of magical being sprang up along his arms and he felt himself begin to glow as he let his magic hang out unabashedly. He was no longer a demon but rather a reborn warrior and he would make sure the world knew that he was not going to play the games of chess.

As he looked himself over again, he was pleased with the result, he ran his hand over the chin and used magic to allow or a spot of a goatee to form along to a trimmed end. He smiled and warmly delighted himself in what he had made of his body. Once again feeling whole just from the thought that he could feel his muscles and he could actually heart his heartbeat as he relished in the feeling of flesh and blood.
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Vilhelm's Cabin, Briochi
Ornia and Aoria

The priestess sighed and gave a Vilhelm a soft-hearted smile "You two are so alike in that regard, I will not argue with you, if you feel it beneficial for Briochi to be under your command then by all means legally challenge Freyr. However, the Lady's plans are not to harm her Children, but for us to guide them- What occurred with Freyr and his family is a tragedy as well as how it affected Briochi form what you told me. Those wounds are still healing Vilhelm and you should respect that this is not an aspect of Aradia's will, but rather an adversary against her children that has reared its head about" Her tone was serious, a devoted religious icon through and through. But she was soft, nonthreatening, gentle with the boy as she knew he was simply an ambitious youth who saw his country in a state of shock and hurt. He was hungry to do something against an almost insurmountable pressure, that alone was the calling of a Lord-birthrights or not.

He brushed his face and pulled his head into hers in a sign of affection before very close drow, or select individuals who become close to Drow such as the Vennets. She held him in this embrace and breathed feeling this boy and rushed on him. "Your mother was right to raise you in how she did, and you are very much loved and have much love to give. But don't let your calling to a higher office blind you to the realities of the world or taint that generous heart with greed and pride." she pulled off of him and turned to Aoria.

"As well you should stop holding it in that you're carrying Vilhelm's child as we speak, it has not been long but it is very clear that you are to mine eyes. You cannot continue to function as his bodyguard. You are to contact my older brother immediately and inform him so that the proper procedures can be put into place to welcome Vilhelm into the Notusi family."

Aoria became a shade of rose under her dark skin as her secret was exposed in front of her mate that she had been trying to hide in order to continue on as his bodyguard rather than what they had become. She sighed and nodded "Yes Auntie, I'll have word sent to father and he and Vilhelm will have a very frank discussion in the near future then, but we have much more impor-"

"Nothing is more important than the proper care and consultation of a woman's health in times of pregnancy. It is time you two went back to civilization and were receiving proper care for the child." she had an authoritative voice now, she was being serious. As if to punctuate her point a shimmer of light came across and a strange looking elf had appeared in the quarters of the trio. He has a wild mane of white short hair, light grey skin, glowing white eyes, and he was absolutely packed with muscles. It was Divankul Dul-Sansiska. Despite his radical change in appearance there were certain aspects of him that made those that knew him well enough would be able to read beyond appearance and beyond. He had come back, just as Ornia predicted, and he looked to be better than he ever was.
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Vilhelm's Cabin, Briochi
Divankul Dul-Sansiska

Divan

Divan stood before the humble trio of people riding out a rather harsh winter's day together int he middle of the wilderness. He had sensed something in the back of his mind and lo, it had been someone he didn't think he'd meet again ever in his life. Not only could he reclaim his daughter but now he was laying eyes upon his sister once more and this was an almost impossible sight to comprehend. His wide eyed shock was just as tangible as their own as both sides stared down at the other, before Ornia stood and embraced her older brother in a fearsome hug and began crying like a gigantic infant, wailing and taking out her own breaths from simply crying and blubbering. For his part Divan wrapped her up in a hug and comforted her visibly with his own embrace and rocked her form side the side. She was letting it all go, as she knew she was allowed to, into the strongest man she knew who would carry all her grief and sorrow of the last four decades for her because she was too weak to do it herself. Her words were incoherent, the strong and radiate mother figure had simply dissolved into a mess when she knew the one person she had been waiting for had come back into her life. Her life had been an unending amount of hell for so many year it was unbearable to say the least, the fact she made it this long was a testament to elven stubbornness.

It took around an hour of Divan holding her and rocking her before she slipped into sleep and he laid her down to simply rest before facing Vilhelm and Aoria, taking a seat with them after the episode had played out before them. He sighed and nodded "We share an empathetic bond, so I could feel everything that she felt for forty years in that hug, I thank you for your hospitality for my sister and her children. She means the world to me and you took her in without hesitation or fear on your own part. There is never enough gratitude I can show you for the kindness and bravery you've put forward, you have probably don't know too much about Arkon but one thing is nobody can escape them for long. The fact that you managed to keep under their radar is a small miracle. As such I think it best I reward you for your efforts and ensure your continued safety"

He waved his hand and upon the table appeared a looking glass that showed a fairly upscale manor sitting within Briochi proper. It was the Dul-Sansiska family manor that had been built nearly fifty years ago. A standing moniker to the prosperity between the two countries and their bond, it mirrored the one built in Ques Novich for the Vennet household to stay in when they visited the southern area back in the day. "You will be moved to the family manor, not only is it safer from Arkon's clawing fingers, but it's in the heart of where you are setting your sights on. You will have staff, guards, and access to your fellows from here. As it is, I'm sure you've been being taught well by my baby sister. But this next part is all about how you will grow into your outlook and achieve what you want."

"Simply put, I'm a terrible role model for good leadership, I am not a particularly good one I'm a professor and an adventurer. I dive into the Void and kill demons, not run Households and bicker with trivial matters or wars. Freyr was taught by Felix, but you will be taught by what the people need and you will rise to be their voice. You have nothing to fear of being arrested, or hounded by Blackthorne. You'll have a knight stationed at all times at your door- its up to you whether you reveal your location, but you will be protected and supplied, not forced to a mountain stronghold like a warlord savage. This is not merely for you taking action, as I will say if Freyr rises to stop you by his own hand fair and square I will respect him on his capability to do so, no this is for the kindness you have shown to my family personally that you will be given this aid you require. Freyr has organization to his benefit and you require the same before our claims will be taken with serious and stern notice."

With that out of the way he cancelled out the image, he sat there with the crackling of the fireplace to be heard and the whipping of the wind outside looking to the both of them "Do understand I have been through a very potent journey int he Void that has allowed me to become very much a brand new person, as well as time for reflections into what I am. Don't rely on simply one powerful ally to make the world easy for you Vilhelm. Rise to the challenges and opportunities in equal measure, one will make you stronger and the other will move you forwards. However I will offer you indirect aid, as one cannot grow stronger without nourishment and one will not go farther if their legs are like stone."

"As it is, so long as someone comes to rule Briochi in a way that will allow it to heal and rebuild, I will be satisfied. Be it you, or be it Freyr, the one who does so does not matter. I love all of you and want all of you to rise up to meet this as a family and work as one whole, it pains me to see another family at odds with its own self over such a silly thing as blood. But since that cannot be the case, I can at least try to encourage everyone to become their best in order to bring everything tot he table and provide the best care possible. I hope you understand that Vilhelm, nobody is born to rule, everyone must become the ruler they need to be from their own lives tot he lives of a country."
Image
Credit to Sammy and Nicodemus; one created my set for me, the other drew the source image as a request.
Thank You Both!

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