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Majik Morose Read 4220 times

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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #30 on: August 02, 2017, 08:53:16 am »
On their way back he thought of what she'd said about Ariam. It had been a comfort in the moment, father figure in a sword, but it didn't lend him much now. He might have turned around to take them then, the kiss and the weapon they'd made, if only to see her satisfied. It was shortsighted, but her wilt was unbearable to him, and more pressing than whatever laid ahead if he had their artifact truly bound to him. But her smile wasn't worth her life. At least he wanted to hold her hand, but he'd not reached for it by the time they came back to a sleeping Aveline.

He stood by the fire, fed it, and looked toward Nystali to see if she might need anything for the night. Not that they had much to offer in terms of comfort. "I have the first shift." he was reminded when he saw his sleeping friend. "You go a head and rest." He wondered what it meant that he’d forgotten to bring Syn and Saevir when he went to find Nystali in the woods. What had he been hoping for? He brought the weapons now. Saevir was heavier and Syn’s weight was a bit unruly as he put them in his belt. I know, he thought to them as he went to the edge of the firelight. He had enough things on his mind to keep him awake well past his shift, and brushed the other two with his gaze for some comfort when fatigue made itself known. It seemed the presence of the swords gave him the alertness he needed, though.

He’d collected berries and some bread-fruit by the time the sun competed with the embers of their fire. He wasn’t prolific in cooking the bread-fruit, but knew enough about it to make it edible. It was just a matter of charring the hard shell and hoping the meat inside had risen. Aveline was masterful at it. Picking the first now black orb off the dagger wearing his leather glove, he found a decent result inside. He placed it in half its shell infront of Aveline. “Rise and shine, soldier.” He said as he pierced another green fruit. His teeth were blue from his first helping of berries. His tongue was already working on polishing the color off.

“I think we should make it to Cretse.” Much larger town than Salynus. A small city for all intents and purposes. It had only gone into trading recently, its river expanded by dramatic malweather a few years ago. If the townsfolk they left behind, or even Cougal’s men had vengeful tongues, it would still be easy enough to go by unnoticed in Cretse to begin. Not that he wanted to hide. People needed to know about the Steelbacks, and Cretse would be a good place to start in that regard, too.

Eventually he’d burnt the shell of this fruit too. He placed it by the sleeping priestess. It made him think of when they offered oils for the blades of the temple, sleeping Nystali, presented with food for when she woke up. Some of the sleeping statues in the cities took sacrifice exactly like this. It made him smile a little. He looked back at Aveline as though asking her if Tali didn’t look so peaceful in her slumber while he poured berries in the other shell for her. That hand still rung of the power it had tasted yesterday. He put that thought aside for now, and the one of her lips, also. There was a ministry of knights seated in Cretse to provide protection for its recent riches, and if they hadn’t heard from Cougal yet, he might be able to apply for knighthood if the process was quick. His words would carry more weight then, alongside Aveline’s. He squeezed Syn’s handle tighter and bit his own teeth when he thought of Cougal’s desecration of a knight’s purpose. People had died for his ambitions, and he’d turned the heads of their families by relying on that fear too. Syn and Saevir, who were not made for revenge, did not sing with his thoughts of judgement.

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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #31 on: August 02, 2017, 10:27:13 pm »
Nystali slept deeply, swimming through tangled dreams. There was some mythos surrounding the Kin and their dreams. More than a few Harbor Kin had reported traversing lives they’d never lived under the blanket of sleep. Tonight, Nystali dreamed of the ones left behind, the few Kin from Salynus she’d known and the stories she’d read of others. It was difficult to distinguish what was her twisting imagination and what were borrowed memories. When she woke in the morning, it did not matter. She remembered none of it, and whatever had unsettled her soul in sleep had not stirred her form. Tali thanked Elvan for the food and checked on Aveline’s wound before they smothered the remains of their fire. It would be a long day of travel to Cretse, but Elvan was correct. They could make it in reasonable time.

Their progress was slowed by intermittent deviations off the road; they were not hiding, but it did seem best to travel passively and defer to the others on the path. Close inspection might only serve to spread their story faster, and their safety somewhat relied on their lack of reputation. Aveline insisted that Tali travel with her hood drawn, hiding her milky strands, to further dissuade attention. It left Nystali feeling a bit like a stowaway, and she was fairly quiet most the way.

They arrived in Cretse when the sun was already dipping low in the sky. Aveline and Elvan had both been through the small city on separate occasions, and they made their way toward an inn on the outskirts without needing to discuss it. “There are so many buildings,” Nystali said, and her even affect was not enough to hide the wonder of it. It struck the entire party then that Tali had never seen a life beyond Salynus. It made Aveline smile, because it was a small blossom in an otherwise unfortunate circumstance.

“And think, it’s not even all that large of city. The population here is about three and a half times that of Salynus, though.” Aveline said. “I spent several months of my training here.” She told them, though the experience had not been remarkable at the time. Nystali was nodding along, absorbing even these paltry bits of information with a good deal of interest. Aveline grinned at Elvan. “A new world,” she remarked and shrugged. “We should contact the local ministry, once we’ve found rooms.” She added with a meaningful expression. It was quite possible she’d had the same thought as Elvan. The influence of the Stellbacks had been growing rapidly throughout Jor Orpha. It was quite possible that this might be one of the few chances Elvan would get to throw some weight behind his name.

Despite the suggestion, weariness was persuasive when they had secured rooms at the Black Buck Inn. The matronly owner of the establishment had caused something of a fuss when the trio had requested a single room, and outright insisted upon providing them two rooms when she caught a glimpse under Nystali’s cloak. Aveline might have appeared able to hold her own, but the priestess’ small frame and soft features had clearly convinced the large woman that she’d be inexcusably endangered by Elvan’s presence in her sleeping quarters. Why she seemed to insist that Elvan was, in the first place, some sort of perverse wolf was confusing. However, it did not prevent Aveline from grinning a bit too wide and enjoying the exchange at Elvan’s expense.

The girls took their room across the hall from Elvan, and Nystali apologized before they went their separate ways. She seemed embarrassed by the things the inn matron had implied and couldn’t quite meet Elvan’s gaze. The pink across the bridge of her nose was delightfully flush on her pale skin.

Not too long after, Elvan would hear a knock at his door. Aveline would be waiting to meet him; the Nightingale had been shy about bathing in even another woman’s presence.

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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #32 on: August 03, 2017, 08:32:01 am »
Elvan imagined he regained some rest through their travels. Aveline was never far from a conversation, and they had memories to skim if they wanted. Tali, with the shadow of her cloak, became rather quiet. He was filled with a calm. This was a grave matter, all of it, but when they saw the entrance of Cretse his heart was lighter, somehow. They were both very dear to him, and he’d gotten to be in their company for an entire day without mishap. Nystali was adorable, taking in the new place. He’d forgotten she’d not traveled because she always wore such a collected aura. Even the frown he’d worn at the too-insistent matron at their chosen place hadn’t reached his eyes. He did walk up the stairs to their corridor wishing he’d been a little more convincing when speaking up for his own virtues. Elvan had always thought that kind of thing should be so obvious even without mention, though. Apparently not. It was a fair price, he discovered, for Tali’s blush. Before they parted ways, he whipped the end of Aveline’s ponytail to chastise her for her grins. He wasn’t sure she even noticed.

Well inside the small room, which had been discounted as part of the matron’s plan to shield Tali’s innocence from his monstrous lusts, he almost irritably pulled his armor off his torso, fatigue ringing in  his muscles. He fell asleep with the wet washcloth from the basin still on his naked chest, loose hair glittering with water as it laid across the pillow with him. When silver eyes relight the surrounding sclera was serene again, free from night’s red spiderlegs. A knight shouldn’t need much. The cloth was still chilled, which let him assume he’d not slumbered for long. The knock that had woken him repeated against the flimsy door and he stood up, boots and pants still on. The cloth found its soundly perch off the edge of the porcelain vessel before he pulled the door open.

“Ave.” he noted and left the door wide as he went back to his armor on the floor. The lips that had cleaned her wound had the small arch he always reserved for her. He felt safe with Aveline because he knew she was well capable of taking care of herself. Elvan was quick with getting dressed again, his pallid complexion catching shadows where his build indented – a knight has little choice than to be built for war – and shone where water hadn’t dried. He consisted mostly of long, reaching pillars and his pants were low, revealing the triangular shelf from either hip to suggest at the exact position of what the pants still concealed. His physically was underlined by the fact that he didn’t think much of it, getting clad. He was more thorough with the straps this time, and corrected the garb under the plates, as well. The plan was to go to the ministry and hopefully get him his title. It was practical for their new mission, but this kind of thing still meant the world to a boy who came to Salynus early in life to be an official protector. He held his arms out and spun once he’d put Syn and Saevir into his belt. How’s this?

“Is Nystali alright?” he asked and fussed with the last details of his armor. It had seen much battle against beasts, so it wasn’t as whole as to suggest he was new to his position. It worked for him, today, but he still wished he could have worn something ornamental. He realized soon it was vanity and stepped away from that part of himself by stepping closer to his friend. “I think she’ll be safe here, especially without my wanderings hands and inability to ask for permission.” Clearly he was joking, clearly the matron’s opinions hadn’t left his mind yet. It was worth it if it could amuse Aveline.

“Should we be on our way then? The sooner the better.” If Cougal’s men had not spread the word here yet, rumor or even signed word should at least be on its way. He reached out as he meant to pass her, hand gliding over her abdomen to turn her with him as he pressed by the small frame of the door.

He had every intention of taking her to the ministry and its clean halls to speak to someone with the authority and pen to make him official. It was petty, but Elvan’s hope was that the news of his own knighthood might somehow offend Cougal and the Steelbacks, and that thought gave him a dark satisfaction. There were many distractions on the fairly short walk to the house of knights, though, some merriment and some obstacles. He was assuming it would all go without incident.

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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #33 on: August 03, 2017, 05:40:57 pm »
Aveline had not worn her armor, though she’d taken the time to straighten up her clothes and smooth the wrinkles the leather pieces were apt to cause. She’d donned her outer robe neatly, and it fell a bit looser around her for the lack of armaments. At her hip, she still carried her quiver and it appeared Tali had given her whatever arrows she’d had to replenish it. Valor was strapped neatly across her back, but she’d left Mariposa behind.

It was a curious thing, what novelty could be injected by the simplest changes. Certainly, this sight was nothing terribly new to Elvan, but it did underscore how infrequently Aveline left her home without her full knight’s raiment these days. She had clipped the Orpha knights’ sigil to her inner robe, sashed tight around her small waist, and made sure the silver round was visible. A companion for him, then, lending whatever weight her knighthood might offer without posturing.

She tucked some of her dark hair back behind her ear; she’d set the long strands loose and seemed at least modestly self-conscious about it. Aveline had never distained her femininity, but she’d certainly aimed to downplay any softness that might have suggested. Even when it was just the two of them at her small home in Salynus, she’d typically kept the inky tresses plaited. Aveline watched Elvan clothe himself, arms folded as she stood in the doorway. Her gaze followed the way he moved and the paths lined in the athleticism of his frame only to shift away abruptly. If she blushed, she hoped he wouldn’t notice it. When he turned for inspection, she waved him off. “Yes, yes, you look good enough.” She said dryly.

“Nystali is fine, if a bit embarrassed. She let me clean up a little first and then insisted I turn away when it was time for her to bathe.” Aveline shrugged and laughed a little. “Which, I guess, isn’t surprising. I think she’s being even more shy than usual, though.” Aveline said. “Fretting over your primal, manly desires, perhaps.” Beneath her robes, her skin warmed to his touch more than it should have, but she followed him out easily enough and wished his hand hadn’t left her.

“Do you ever wonder what it would have been like, if we’d stayed back in Tetha together?” she asked absently as they descended the stairs into the inn commons. “I mean, if the Steelbacks hadn’t gone.” Because there was no Tetha to have stayed in, now. A border town that had met a worse fate than Salynus. Their home town had been an early Steelback conquest in Jor Orpha, their knights swaying toward the rising fringe group easily. It was so simple to believe pretty promises when the people are already dissatisfied with their care. Tetha’s death had been a slow one, but it was nothing more than a Steelback outpost now. Aveline had left before Elvan had, which might have been the only reason she’d been able to hold her tongue against the Steelbacks in Orpha long enough to take her knighthood.

Still, none of that was what seemed to be on Aveline’s mind now. She looped her arm through his, pressing their shoulders together gently. To anyone else, they might have looked like lovebirds like that. “A simpler life, probably. Maybe more boring?” She mused. “I suppose we would have hated it.” She laughed, but it wasn’t entirely convincing. It wasn’t as if their current paths were so appealing now. “And we wouldn’t have Tali.” She added, her hold on his arm loosening just a little. It felt like an oddly treacherous thing to say. She had, at once, felt saddened by the thought and vaguely longing.

Out on the street, she let him go and folded her hands in front of her as they walked. Cretse wasn’t a terribly wealthy city, but their ministry of knights was established enough that the place had begun to develop some wealthier infrastructure. Thus, the main roads had been lined with majik spun lights. It was a bit enchanting to see, though it paled to the streets of Orpha. The arching copper lantern stands bore rounded glass globes with shimmering filament inside. The filaments flickered with a green-blue hue, radiant majik dancing up and down the threads in weak, but looping, cycles. As they passed under each lantern, the air seemed to hum a little with the coursing energy.

“It’s been a while, since we’ve just been… out together, hasn’t it?” she asked. They’d both been busy with the care Salynus. “I hadn’t realized I missed it.” She stopped by a fountain where a minstrel was playing something lazy and sweet on his lyre. There was a small crowd gathered, and some couples swaying with one another under the weak starlight. The sunset was red, and the moon was rising full.

They should have been on their way with a bit more haste—the ministry was likely to be closed by the time they reached it, in truth, with nobody to see them until the turn of the midnight watch. Aveline glanced at him, a nostalgic curl to her lips, and leaned over to kiss his cheek. “Not that I was ever hoping to be exiled, but I’m glad it’s with you and Nystali, at least.”     

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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #34 on: August 03, 2017, 09:57:31 pm »
He had tilted his head in surprise when he saw her. Pretty childhood friend in thought-out garb. It was more inviting surely, and he stayed closer when she took his arm. Elvan did not notice anything new in himself, not even how easily they walked together. Without her plates and panels to remind them, it seemed for a while they were not protectors. It was true enough here, even if they'd come to do good, at this moment it was not their burden to defend the borders of Cretse. How freeing.

"I think I would have been a scoundrel and then a devoted husband." Which was a very romantic notion to Elvan. In Tetha, that was the best kind of life to lead, in his opinion. Adventures, though probably small, and then a family. But he'd never given it much thought, because he'd made it his role to protect that kind of happiness instead of sharing in it. It said much about his ambitions, since knights could still marry. Elvan was perhaps perfectly simple for either of those lives. "And you would have been my neighbor, teaching my kids all the thing they should't know." he smiled fondly at that, and suddenly felt a bit of somber in his throat to know that kind of thing could not happen now that they were knights.

He took her hand on reflex when it slid from his arm. It felt natural they should still be attached, and they were afforded some leisure now, for however long the walk was to the ministry. Her face was painted prettily in the majik's glow and his smile admitted to this with its impressed tilt. He nodded and looked around after her remark. "I've missed you too, Aveline." he said. As kids, they'd been inseparable. He supposed he'd leaned on that foundation in her absence. He instinctively drew closer and smiled with closed eyes when she gave him a kiss on his face. His hand held her's harder.

"But Tali isn't here with us." he said as the silver eyes opened again. The fountain had its own system of veins, different hues of blue, from winter to sapphire. "Just two stupid children who used to swat each other with sticks." If she could see, there was a rounder surface to those eyes, then, gloss for the nostalgia. "Oh, Ave," His arm not connected to hers by gentle digits encircled her shoulders and turned her into him tightly. He kissed her on the top of her head and kept his nose there for a moment, and then his cheek as he looked at the water again. Her cheek would have found his skin, where the collar of his armor split at the neck and down. Their image was not in contrast to itself in the lit-up water.

"I think I could do anything with you." Because they had always been partners in everything. They'd climbed trees on each other's shoulders and bled together when keeping fangs and claws away from Salynus. They'd married in clearings when they weren't tall enough to reach the lowest branches on the apple tree in her father's garden, and they'd expertly wrapped the other's cuts and wounds. His scars was their story.

When she gave any clue as to being satisfied with the music, and the artful vessel of liquid that thrummed with pretty tricks, he would walk them toward the ministry, hand still clutching hers, simple in his happiness, without hurry. Elvan's heart wasn't made of many things, it was opposed to its nature not to be strung along and lulled by these moments. He'd look back and smile brightly, like time hadn't passed since Tetha.

As a favor to the less fortunate of Cretse, the wealthy merchants liked to contribute to the lovely of the fountain area. Paper majic, weaker than what was in the lanterns, in a subtle mix of greens and whites, scattered from the rooftops. The finger-nail sized pieces fluttered to draw oh's and ah's from those who lived here but never knew when these decadent displays would be coming. Whether they had moved from the fountain's edge or not, Elvan would look bewildered and by the beauty of the cluttered atmosphere at first, and then smile adoringly at Aveline, as though she was responsible for anything lovely that came to them, this evening.

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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #35 on: August 04, 2017, 05:06:40 pm »
It made her heart ache when she listened to his Tetha imaginings. Not because he said she’d be his neighbor, but because it sounded right. In Aveline’s version of Tetha, the children would be theirs; dark hair and his silver eyes, if they were lucky. Her father would call Elvan “son” and they’d have taken their vows under the trees they climbed as children. Those daydreams felt remarkably dissociated from her, somehow, tucked in the back of her mind. It was difficult not to agree with his picture over hers. As if no time or fate would have been able to keep them apart, but nothing would have given his heart to her either.

She held on to him tightly, closing her eyes and forgiving herself for wishing within his embrace. “I know.” She said, and sighed. “We should get going. The music here is too pleasant. I might be inclined to pretend we were different people, if we stay for long.” She said at last, pulling away from him in time to catch the shower of delicate paper spells. It was lovely, and she made sure to take his hand and hold it tightly.

Perhaps it was the need for some comfort against the creeping sense of losing their home—Salynus had been as close to a home as either could claim in the recent years—or perhaps it was simply being thrust closer to him by their unfortunate circumstance, but Aveline thought she’d not felt her heart long for him quite so keenly in a long time. In her early days in Salynus, she’d seen it in herself. Before she’d come to love Nystali and before she’d realized her childhood romanticism had no place in her adult reality. It was puzzling to feel that kind of forlorn desire welling up fresh again.

She laced her fingers into his and pressed up on her toes to catch his lips against hers before he might turn away. It was chaste, and she pulled away quickly. Aveline was blushing, turning her face from him, but hadn’t let go of his hand. “For good luck. Let’s hope the ministry hasn’t heard of all the trouble yet.” She explained. A paltry excuse, but one both could likely accept.

They would reach the ministry without further incident, warm light glowing from within. A young man, knight-in-training most likely, would meet them at the door and explain no larger contingent of knights would be available to see them until the midnight watch. “You’re welcome to come back, or wait inside, if you like.” He would say, noticing Aveline’s sigil. “Is the matter urgent? I can send runners for the on duty knights, if it is.”

--

Nystali went down to the inn commons when she had finished bathing. Aveline had told her she and Elvan might be gone for a while, seeking out the Cretse ministry of knights. She’d wanted to ask if she could go, but thought it best to leave them to whatever tricky business might come of dealing with the local military contingent. There was always the threat of Cougal’s news having spread ahead of them, or an unknown Steelback presence. She wasn’t keen on admitting it, but Tali realized she was not likely to be terribly helpful in such a situation.

When she came down to look for foodstuffs, a few of the patrons at the inn bar stopped to look her over. She must have looked exotic, though Salynus was not so far away. Cretse had no temple of its own; the artifacts here were not revered, they were a business, and the city’s history was bound in books. There was no need for priests and their ceremonies and songs. Tali thought, then, that she should have worn her cloak down. She cleared her throat and kept her gaze from those staring, and her apparent discomfort was enough to draw away the intruding glances. The inn matron, who’d called herself Dahja, bustled over.

“Miss, you’re all dressed up now, aren’t you?” she fussed, wrapping a thick arm around Tali’s shoulders. Nystali didn’t disagree, though she was wearing her standard garb. She was momentarily glad the Steelbacks hadn’t trotted into Salynus during a ceremony. She could only imagine how ridiculous the people here would find it if she’d fled wearing anything more unusual. Still, she was standing amongst a practical folk in her white trailing skirts, cut high into a silver belt. The silver of her outer robe was faintly translucent, but the fabric fell heavy such that if flowed over her form like something molten. It was quite purposeful, the way Salynus dressed its temple. Priestess embodiment of their artifacts’ soul, she was made to look like a blossom from steel, pure and unbound.

“My friends and I left home in quite a hurry. I wasn’t able to bring extra clothes, nor change into anything more practical.” She explained apologetically. Dahja tutted sympathetically and squeezed Tali’s shoulder.

“Poor dear, you three seemed as if you’d been traveling hard. Lots of dust on your robes.” Dahja said. “Come with Dahja. Let me see what I can do to help.” She said, guiding Nystali behind the bar with a firm grip. It was uncomfortable, but Tali didn’t find the woman insincere, so she went along. A good portion of the bar was staring at them now, curious about their newcomer with the pearly white hair.         

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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #36 on: August 05, 2017, 02:24:20 pm »
He went with her, some reluctance in his steps. Maybe being different people wouldn't have been such a bad thing. He didn't feel burdened by the things he valued often, but this beautiful scene made him look at himself from the outside with some criticism. Couldn't they have been some other pair here? And when he was lost at those new depths, she kissed him. It was enough to make Elvan waver when he woke, looking at lovely Aveline. Maybe it was a cruelty of fate itself when he displayed some of that longing in the light of his smile after having kissed her back.

"Yes, Let's hope that." but suddenly he didn't feel very worried for anything, anymore.

The reality of their mission was still hard to find when they stood at the threshold of the ministry, but at least he was starting to return from the lull of their joint dreams. The person who greeted them was accommodating, at least. "It's rather important, yes, but if the runners will be hard to rally we can find the on duty knights ourselves if you tell us where they are. The boarders, I assume." Elvan pressed. It might look bad if they were too insistent if whoever they met with had already heard Cougal's side of things, but that was not a sound reason for being idle, either.

There was some ruckus behind the knight in training, and a knight with light hair went through the door, seeking something. By the looks of it, the armor he wore could not have been standard, and the lightness of his gait and intricacies of the plates suggested it was actually a full gestalt. "Touma have you seen the Ritter Horn? Don't tell me this outpost doesn't have one..." the knight said before stopping to stare beyond Touma's shoulder at the two. "Aveline? Aveline Marrik?" And she would know him as Eizel Rahun, the titanium knight.

He quickly strode to them and pushed Touma aside to shake her hand. "Why did you keep them at the door, Touma? This is Aveline Marrik. She saved my life during the Lasher Campaign I lead." Which was not unusual, since they were all in charge of each other's life. "And this must be Elfan, who didn't even go because he couldn't leave his post." He took Elvan's hand too. It seemed this knight was rather pushy, if agreeable.

Elvan was quickly herded toward Touma. "Here. Upon my own seal, make him official. What a waste, from what Avelina has told me a committee should have gone to you for your title, already." he said. Elvan, who was caught between all his questions and the proper greetings Eizel had bypassed, was taken along when Touma was suddenly very eager to help.

In the silence of the two remaining it seemed Eizel's common sense finally caught up to him, and he laughed, a little embarrassed. He had a youthful face, despite his position, and it seemed he knight by some of his expressions. He was expect to be handsome, after all. He wore a joking aura that she would recognize from around the campfire, belying his high stature. His family had afforded him a place at the board of knights already, despite his young age, and the artifact Blair on his hip was of a very high category. She would know his other persona too, and the merciless expression he'd don for battle, which was usually where he earned the respect of those who followed him.

"Ah, I did it again, didn't I? Always carrying on like a bull. I'm sorry. But I assumed you were here for that, and for help with the problem in Jor Orpha." But then his words seemed to taste strange on his own tongue, and he corrected himself a little. "Wait, you might have been traveling." he realized. "Maybe you haven't heard..."

And she hadn't. He would go on to explain that a Wing Ritter, one she knew from when she'd fought along side him, Daoule - a very fast ritter with a well-trained flying beast - had been sent to scout ahead Eizel's party, and come across Salynus burning. The town would be describe to her as far more devastated than when she left, with no other survivors than Cougal and one of his knights. By Eizel's account, it would seem Cougal had not had enough time to spin lies to Daoule, at least.

"I fear it's a stampede of Spawn that has infested Jor Orpha, and they are on their way here, Aveline. We think there is a midnight category Spawn awakening, and that it's also stirred by whatever caused the recent activity of Spawn around here. We work closely with the Steelbacks and it seems they know more abut this than they let on. Did you see anything before you left?"

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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #37 on: August 07, 2017, 10:59:43 pm »
Dahja trotted Nystali out of her room like a prized pony, and the bar patrons were waiting to weigh in. It made the girl uncomfortable. She was used to be watched; the duties of lore keepers demanded a level of ease in front of crowds. However, she’d never been sized up quite like this. Her fog blue stare swept over the group, most clutching large steins of ale as they looked her up and down.

“Well, she looks right proper for a Cretse girl now,” announced a large, bearded fellow in the corner after a long moment. She wasn’t sure why the atmosphere had gone so tense, but the collective exhale that came with the man’s loud judgement lifted a weight from her shoulders. Nystali blinked, her own clothed folded over her arm, and then curtsied quickly in thanks. This seemed to charge the patrons with a delightful energy, and the clanging of mugs on tables and excited chatter expanded to fill the space again. “Come drink with us, girl! We’re nice folk here in Cretse. We’ll show you a good welcome.” The bearded man bellowed. There were a few whoops of agreement and Dahja prodded Tali’s back to urge her out from behind the bar. As soon as Nystali complied, the thick-armed woman was muscling the taps to send more alcohol around the room.

“What’s your name, girl? You look like you must be from far away. What’s it like outside of Jor Orpha?” A thin, wiry fellow seated to the bearded man’s left asked when she reached their table. Nystali was surprised. She’d never expected the other towns to be as isolated as Salynus. Or, at least, she’d not expected them to be so isolated from it. Salynus still commanded a reasonable number of traders from around the region, Cretse included. The forests bordering their town had been rich in timber and minor Spawn, which made for plentiful and appealing goods. In the end, people weren’t so inclined to leave comfortable spaces if they didn’t have to, it seemed.

“I’m from Salynus, so, not so far away. I’ve never been outside of Jor Orpha before, honestly.” Nystali admitted. “My name is Nystali Passeri. I was a priestess in Salynus,” she said, gesturing at her folded clothes in explanation. The bearded man whistled.

“Priestess! Well, that’s still exotic. Hell, that’s practically fairytale stuff around these parts.” He said. Nystali gave him a very small smile. She wasn’t the sort to judge, but she wasn’t sure how to feel about being cast to whimsy. She had lost her home for that whimsy, after all. She wondered what he might say if she told him she was Harbor Kin. In places like Cretse, where artifacts were a business, nobody saw the Kin. They were quiet about what they were and harvested behind closed doors. It was better artifacts didn’t feel organic, after all. Tali had not traveled, but she was well read.

“Well, thank you for the hospitality. Cretse has been a kind change of pace.” Nystali said, because it was an easy and complimentary truth, distilled like that.

“Take a seat, Nystali Passeri. Let us buy you a drink. Dahja here keeps respectable ale around here.” The thin man said with a gap-toothed smile. “Name is Toger, and my associate here is Lomi. We don’t mean to offend, Miss, we’re just simple home-grown Cretse folk. I’ll be the first to admit we haven’t seen too much past the city walls.” Toger added, seemingly a touch more aware than his friend. Lomi nodded, though his bushy brows raised in surprise. He’d certainly not meant to upset their pretty guest. Tali waved off the concern with one hand. She understood they’d meant no harm. She took a seat across from them and set her clothes on the empty stool beside her.

“You look right at home in those clothes. They must be Dahja’s girl’s, right? She’s a small thing like you. To be fair, I haven’t seen anyone around here with hair like that, though.” Lomi said, pointing at her long white tresses. Dahja had been kind enough to give her some ribbon to tie back the strands.

--

Aveline was caught in Eizel’s whirlwind immediately, but there wasn’t anyone in the room who wasn’t. She was fond of the knight, having spent a good deal of time under him on the Lasher Campaign. She hadn’t realized he’d been transferred to Cretse. “Ah, I’ve missed you, Eizel.” Aveline was able to get in, at last. Her casual demeanor with him should have said enough to Elvan, since Aveline was generally good about protocol. Eizel had lead by his heart, which was not to say he didn’t also exercise his mind, but the sense of brotherhood he offered his men was insisted upon and not easily forgotten. “You guess correct, of course. We’re here looking to have Elvan approved by an official ministry and I am here to vouch for his deeds in Salynus.” Aveline said.

It seemed Cougal would interfere with them again, though, as talk turned rapidly toward Salynus. Aveline, who was not a naturally good liar, went ashen at Eizel’s story. He painted a picture that conjured Tetha and was undeniably worse than the state they’d left Salynus in. “Only the general and one of his men remain?” she echoed, very honest shock in her voice. “I didn’t know.” She might not have left if she had. She looked to Elvan, reeling from the tale.

“We weren’t there to protect them…” she murmured, brow knitting. It was a conflict of morality for her then, though it would look to Eizel that she was simply upset over failing her post in such a drastic way. Stiffly then, “Perhaps nothing else could have been done, then, if the Star Blade could not have prevented it.” She seemed brought back to the reality of their present situation when Eizel continued and began to ask questions.

She thought for a moment before responding, unsure of what might put their case in dire straits. “Well, there was a horde that descended on the town before we left.” She started. If the ministry here worked closely with the Steelbacks, as he said, it was best to keep lying to a minimum. “But we were warned by General Cougal and his men. We fought back what we thought was the entirety of the swarm of Spawn. It is largely for Elvan’s valor in this most recent conflict that we’ve traveled here to see the ministry. General Cougal took Salynus under the protection of the Steelbacks as we left, so we thought the townsfolk were in… good hands…” she faltered on the last of her story, which was, at least, true in the broadest of strokes.

“We have heard nothing of a Midnight Spawn, though, and we did not know Salynus was further ravaged after we left.” She finished. She glanced and Elvan again and then gave Eizel a meaningful look. “Now, more than ever, I’d like to request the ministry grant Elvan his knighthood. In the midst of the chaos, before we left, Salynus’ Nightingale priestess bound two artifacts to Elvan for the sake of his effectiveness against the horde. In light of all of this… perhaps you might exercise your power…” She bowed her head, reaching to push Elvan a few steps toward the titanium knight.     
« Last Edit: August 11, 2017, 01:45:26 am by VenomousEve »

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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #38 on: August 08, 2017, 10:39:22 am »
Eizel waved downward when she was about to burden herself with guilt for the massacre in Salynus. “Don’t think like that, Aveline. If you left when you’d taken down all the beasts in sight, and with Cougal still in town, you certainly did all that you could, and according to your training, too. Cougal also said he was surprised by the second wave.” She might remember what she’d overheard between the red knight and his cohorts, then. Eizel nodded to Elvan when he was moved forward by Aveline’s intent. The knight looked the trainee over, weighing his worth as a man rather than as someone who might be titled a protector. It was Eizel’s way, too familiar too soon, and it was disarming, usually.

“Do you swear?” Eizel asked and took a step back, his sword Blair ringing with a clean tone when he drew it, making both Elvan and Touma suck at air. Eizel held the noble artifact with both hands. Elvan found himself standing straighter, making fists and stacking them before his heart.

“I swear on the first and the majik I…” all of them knew the oath. Elvan especially ached to say it, even though he was overwhelmed to have it drawn out of him so suddenly. Surely this could not have been what Aveline meant. He threw an eye at her, and was suddenly overcome with relief that at least she was here to witness this.

“Yes, yes. Save it for your First Blades, Elvan Tavar. I can’t give you the finery today, but I can honor you, at least. Swear, you.” And there was a bit of battle’s gravity on Eizel’s brow. Elvan closed his fists tighter on his chest.

“I swear.” He said clearly and looked Eizel in his green eyes.

“Then your life is forfeit and true, Elvan Tavar.” The Titanium  Knight declared and played a sound on either of Elvan’s shoulder caps with Blair’s broad side. It took over Elvan’s hearing and when the ringing stopped, to his surprise, Eizel’s sword was at his throat. This was not part of the common knighting. “If you do anything less than your best you dishonor me and Aveline, and I’ll take it out in blood.” Eizel said as though he was ready to drive Balir through Elvan’s breath. Elvan nodded and stood firm. Eizel then spun Blair once over his own wrist before sheathing him. “Touma. Put Elvan’s name in the roll of sworn and make sure he’s considered for artifacts on my recommendation. Give him a sigil to mold and the proper papers.” He looked at Syn and Saevir. “Not that it seems to be much of a rush. I hear you can do a lot with just minor artifacts, and those look formidable.” Eizel smiled, shoulders dropping slightly. Elvan exhaled and looked over toward Aveline, a little dumbfounded. Eizel grinned in this new mood and threw a deft hook at Elvan’s arm. Even through leather quilting, Blair’s gestalt had no trouble transferring light trauma.

“Sir?” Elvan asked, turning his attention from Aveline, obviously affected by the blow. “What was that for?” Pride held his fingers away from the throbbing area.

“Because even though you’re honorable and skillful, you’re not very in tune, are you, Elvan?” he said and winked at Aveline. She’d never said anything to the Titanium Knight, not outright, but he’d be a poor reader of people if he couldn’t have seen part of her heart during the campaign. And here. “And you call me Eizel when we’re being friendly.”

It seemed Eizel was about to make more pleasantries, which drew the picture of a very close bond to Aveline since he’d said times were urgent, but another knight came in from the front door. Daoule, with his small winged mount tied outside, would be familiar to Aveline, if she remembered the scout and the spearsman from the Lasher endeavor. Daoule gave a quick nod to both Aveline and Elvan, even though it was clear he didn’t know who Elvan might be. “Eizel, Sir.” The title was added on as an afterthought when Daoule considered Elvan’s presence again. “May I speak freely among us knights?” he asked and had an agreeing huff from the titanium Knight. It seemed Daoule did not need official ink to take Elvan for a full-fledged protector. “Salynus, after we left… it was overrun again. It’s… from the sky it looks blackened, eaten by something that isn’t fire. The remains have white edges.”

“What? But we made sure every beast was dead before we left.” Eizel protested and looked quickly at the pair that had come before Daoule. Elvan turned to Aveline.

“I know, Sir. It seems something came out of the woods after Cougal went with the remains of the artifacts from the temple to keep them safe. I’d suspect a dragon of dusk but…”

“Speak your mind, Daoule. Guesses is all we have right now. At least you had eyes on the result when you returned to it.” Eziel pressed.

“It looked bigger.” Daoule breathed and touched his metal helmet.

The mission of the Lasher Campaign had been to research a handful of legendary beasts of a forgotten forest because the people in the city adjacent to it were growing worried. Being forgotten, all manner of Spawn had made the giant trees their home, and that was why a formidable party was needed. One of the legendary beasts was the mythical Carver Basilisk, also nicknamed Lasher. They’d found traces of it in the forest, and lacerations on rock walls, but never the beast itself. It seemed Daoule was speaking of a creature with those kind of proportions now, and it made both of them look at Aveline.

“I guess our reunion will be me asking you to join in another campaign, Aveline.”  He also threw a gaze at Elvan, but it was obvious it was their familiar they wanted most. They’d heard about him, but couldn’t trust he’d work well in a team, but it seemed a risk they were willing to take if it meant Aveline came. Knights got to choose their own missions to an extent, and were trusted to make their own judgment where they were needed most. “It will look a little like self-defense, though, since it’s clear the spawn are moving closer to Cretse.”

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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #39 on: August 08, 2017, 10:16:08 pm »
Aveline would have taken a moment to be teasingly offended by Eizel’s insinuations. He wasn’t wrong, of course, but she wasn’t of the mind to have anyone else worry about matters of heart. Nonetheless, Daoule’s arrival took their momentary levity and cast it under a grim weight. She had been about complain that Eizel was acting too much like a big brother when he was supposed to be her superior, but Spawn had no reason to wait for banter. When Daoule described the beast, she recalled Cougal’s shouting men and wondered if they might have been responsible for this also. If so, she could not imagine that it had been the general’s plan. To consider that it might be seemed too terrible, even for the knight of the Star Blade.

“I will join you, of course.” Aveline said without hesitation, remembering Nystali a moment later. “But I—we cannot set out before daybreak.” She added, gesturing toward Elvan. “We’ve spent a long day on the road, immediately after defending against the horde in Salynus. I fear that, without proper rest, I will only hinder your efforts. If you give us a rendezvous point and access to a ministry mount, we can meet you.” She suggested. A glance at her friend then, because she had no real place to speak for him now. Still, it was a practical suggestion and would give them time to tell Tali to sit tight, at least, until they returned.

Eizel was quick to accommodate. Even a swift beast would take well into the following morning to reach them in Cretse. The plan would be to meet the creature around eight kilometers out of the city, near a garrison posted off the main road. Aveline had seen it on their way in, earlier that evening. He gave them a ramet with ministry barding to meet them quickly after sunrise. The ramet was large enough to carry both Elvan and herself, and it regarded them with round black eyes when they approached. An older beast, with large and twisting horns that curled forward over the creature’s brow. It stamped a broad, cloven hoof, and carried them easily out from behind the ministry building. The titanium knight was there to see them off, squeezing Aveline’s shoulder and thanking her for accepting such an abrupt call to duty.

--

Nystali was rosy cheeked and swearing before Aveline and Elvan returned. She leaned across the table, slamming her small fist on the table when Toger laughed. “Such big talk out of you, Miss Passeri!” he’d said, belching into his forearm so as not to be rude. Nystali had proven to be feistier than either he or Lomi had anticipated, and she’d become impassioned when talk had turned toward the presence of Steelbacks throughout Jor Orpha.

“You don’t understand, Mister. Those Steelbacks are bad news! Maybe it works here, in Cretse, where you’ve actually got a treasury. It doesn’t work for a place like my home. It doesn’t feel like a coincidence to me that terrible things happen the moment you won’t give them what they want.” She said. Lomi was waving his hands in submission. The Steelbacks weren’t a particularly controversial presence in Cretse, but that didn’t mean there was any deep-running love for them either. The two men, foggy-eyed from the abundance of ale, glanced up in surprise around the same time Tali jumped, an unanticipated hand on her shoulder.

She whipped her head around to look at who had laid a hand on her, ready to give them a piece of her mind. Instead, she was met with one of the most lovely faces she’d ever set her eyes on. 
« Last Edit: August 11, 2017, 01:46:01 am by VenomousEve »

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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #40 on: August 09, 2017, 09:39:36 am »
Velfall had already been looking with his blood-in-jade eyes. With his funnel collar high and black hair down his forehead, shading those rare irises, he could easily sit in the corner and nurse the same stout all evening while keeping out of trouble, and leaving it for more enthusiastic people. The pretty from out of town was fast becoming of note, and he was invested when she talked of Salynus in a stronger volume. He knew where that place fit in the Steelback timeline of ambition.

Vel touched his lips to the ring of his ale vessel one more time before he made it over to the merry trio. By then he'd padded his collar down and ran a hand through his hair. Better not look too sinister just yet. Her shoulder was blushingly warm, which matched her cheeks. He gave her a broad, affected smile. "So sorry to barge in on your conversation." he said and laughed at himself, his mother's pretty staying on his facial bones. She'd taught him how to be desirable, but kept him away from her trade. "I overheard that you're not from here, and am thinking of traveling myself soon. How's the road?"

After flinging a few insults at her company, they knew each other as well as any converging drunkards do, he was able to dance them toward the bar. He paid for their next couple of drinks, her honeyed, with silver. “Really, Tali,” a nickname she’d insisted on when he’d given her the short of his. “I am just pleased to be meeting with another priestess. The one we have here is so….” He leaned in, unsteady because he’d committed to this act now. “unavailable to us. You’d have to be a Steelback general or something to get her attention. Is it so much to ask to get some lore tossed my way when I feel lost?” It was completely true, even if he’d put it between them the for the same reason you hang a worm on a hook in the water. At least here he could pry without alerting anyone else to her political inclinations. It helped, of course, that she was pleasant to look at.

-

Eizel’s last act of friendly match-making had been to place Aveline sitting across while Elvan had already put himself astride. The ramet’s pace was commendable, and its size made the ride steady, even though they were still moved in a rhythm from side to side. The leather cylinder with Elvan’s papers, fast produced by Touma, laid on Aveline’s lap, his arms around her to control the reins. He looked at the fateful container and it’s blank shield, waiting for him to decide on a crest, which would change if he chose to join a cause or take a master. He turned to smile at her as they made their way. If she wanted to, she could see a glimpse of the diverging reality they’d spoken of by the fountain, a life without knighthood, with him by her side and something precious in her lap. Dutiful man, Elvan would have been a dedicated husband and father.

“Friendly fellow.” Elvan noted as they continued on their way. He was feeling the fatigue Aveline had spoken of, and was comfortable enough to nod his cheek into her head every once in a while. It was a pleasant twilight of consciousness, and the majik along the road was a fitting luminescence. Under a particularly bright spell, he came back fully from the looming slumber, and nudged her cheekbone with his mouth. “I am a knight now, finally.” He said, proud, as though she’d not been there. “Thank you.” And then he kissed her as their mount continued. Elvan wasn’t an assumptive man, or greedy in any nefarious regard, but he’d liked her lips by the fountain, and wanted more of that delight now. It was the moment, perhaps, triumph after having been chased away from home. Or it was simply affection grown so long.

When they came back, the inn was teeming with spirit. It seemed this hour was a lively one. Elvan who’d tied their provided ramet outside, held Aveline in his best hand, and the cylinder in the other. Nystali would be pleased surely. The new knight stopped abruptly on the pub floor when he noticed Tali’s hair and the tall stranger by her side in the bar. Her gestures were wider than usual, and her cheeks were a childish, charming color.

“And, if you’re still of this opinion in the morning, perhaps I have something for you.” Velfall said into her ear. It was still somewhat pressing they be secretive, and this offer especially needed to be unheard by others, so the intimacy of the whisper was unavoidable. Not that their interaction so far hadn’t hinted at this kind of connection, anyway. He could just present it as his own hopeful bid for a pretty maiden’s favor if anyone was suspicious. And then, it seemed that someone was.

“Nystali?” Elvan asked, and held in her name the question of why she was at this state and how she’d acquired her new clothes. He still held on to Avelines arm, but the one with his proof of knighthood hung a little lower by the shoulder. Velfall smiled as dastardly as he could, he still had most of his properties, drinking only when it seemed out of place not to.

“This is them?” Vel asked and reached out just as Elvan tucked his important papers inside his robe. “I’m Velfall. You must be Elvan.” He shook his hand while it was available, and then hurried to petition for the woman’s. “And Aveline. Heroes!” It seemed his act was going over well with the male. Vel was also on his toes about this. In Creste, almost all protectors were intimate with the Steelback plot.

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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #41 on: August 09, 2017, 10:29:01 pm »
She laughed. “Eizel? Quite. He’s an excellent knight, despite appearances, though.” Aveline said. “And not a Steelback, even if they’re friendly enough here in Cretse.” It was, really, a great stroke of luck that Eizel had been there to see them. Other ministry knights might not have been so eager to help. She was certain Elvan would have received a similar reception from the titanium knight even if she’d not been present, but she didn’t mind thinking she’d been helpful for tagging along.

Aveline wanted to retreat into the comfort of being near to him; the rhythmic sway of the ramet’s easy gait rocked her against him. “Finally,” she echoed. It wasn’t as light and cheery to say as it should have been, but Ser Eizel had been quick to heft duty back on their shoulders. She wondered if it had been foolish of her to dream a little, on their walk here. Like some part of her had been happy for a fresh start. How ridiculous was she to have believed, even for a brief moment, that Salynus wouldn’t follow them? “And in the nick of time, too.” She clutched the leather cover holding Elvan’s documents. Part of her wondered how long knights like Eizel would hold out and how long it would matter that Elvan had secured these documents at all.

She had fallen quiet, those troubling thoughts twisting around what should have been a happy moment, and was startled when he kissed her. It made her blush, which was always a curious delight, and she cleared her throat and took great interest in staring over the horns of the ramet. “Elvan, I…” she stopped when she realized she didn’t know at all what she wanted to say. Aveline leaned into his chest just a little, despite herself. “I’m glad I could be with you to see you knighted.” She said at last. Her heart squeezed in her chest and she hoped she’d forget the taste of his lips by morning. Aveline knew better than to let old dreams cloud her present circumstance, but knowing made it no easier to force discipline.

--

Tali was swept along all too easily by Vel’s charm. He seemed just a little naughty, which was novel to the well-mannered priestess, with a practiced ease about him that reminded her of Elvan’s sureness in the sparring ring. If she’d been sober, she’d likely have been considerably more reserved, but it was doubtful she’d have been any less intrigued by the handsome stranger. “You have a priestess?” she blurted, staring at him with her large, bright eyes. “I must admit I had no idea you had a priesthood here at all.” She had done nothing to restore the distance between herself and her new friend.

“We have—had a respectable amount of written history stored in the temple at Salynus. You know, there I think I was a formality, really. People don’t believe in the majik of it all much, these days. Artifacts are a business and a safety. You know, they’ve all got souls. They all are souls, in a way.” She was passionate about this subject too, it was clear. Nystali closed her eyes and rubbed her temples.

“Please don’t misunderstand. I mean, it isn’t my place to judge how people carry on. It’s just, ah, I was raised with an older view of those things. It figures, right? I’ve served as Salynus’ Nightingale since I was a child. I was trained a certain way. My point is, in Salynus it was public we had a temple, but I kept lore more than faith.” She was shaking her head, upsetting the long white strands around her blushing cheeks.

She laughed, and then clapped her hand across her mouth as if it had been embarrassing to do so. “Vel, I’d be happy to sing you lore any time you wished. I’m fairly practiced. Well, really, that’s all I have practiced. I can sing and dance all the history you want, really.” She bit her lip. It sounded silly when she said it like that. “I assure you my friends are much more impressive. Defenders of Jor Orpha, truly.” Tali glanced down at the bar beneath her elbow, and took the glass of water Dahja had left for her there. She caught the woman’s eye and was given a grin and a wink in return.

“Anyway, I mean no offense by my surprise. I had just thought Cretse had done away with their priesthood a long time ago. The writings I have on this region have made the handling of artifacts sound very industrious here.” She explained. The information had come largely from accommodating traders that had let her record some of their stories and take copies of certain legers. Nystali scowled a little, a flash of indignation in her stare.

“That said, I don’t know if I’d much care to be around a priesthood with preferences for the Steelbacks, of all people.” She muttered. She nearly said something about the way Cougal had treated her friends, but seemed to have enough sense to hold back the comment. Nystali nearly closed the small amount of distance between them. “And I promise you, I’m a real priestess. I’m Harbor Kin and I’ve not yet had my artifact drawn.” She said in a somewhat conspiratorial tone, pressing a palm to her chest. Not that it mattered much now. Even if her artifact were drawn, she’d not have a priesthood to leave, what with her home ripped out from beneath her.

When he whispered in her ear, it made her blush a little deeper, and she nodded mutely in response. Then she jumped, like a child caught breaking the rules, when she heard her name. “Ser Van!” she said, turning to smile sheepishly at him when she’d regained her composure. Aveline arched a brow and then snorted to hold back a snicker.

“Elvan. She’s drunk.” Aveline hummed, as if he needed to be told. Even as she took her amusement, she was looking over Velfall, though. “And she has a new friend?” He was quick enough to make his own introduction.

“Yes, these are my friends. Real knights. Good knights. They saved me.” Nystali confirmed. Toger and Lomi sidled over from where they’d wandered on the other side of the bar. They were nice enough folk and had thought they should take their leave when it seemed Velfall was a little more than casually curious about Tali.

“Miss Passeri! It is late and our wives will have our heads if we don’t return home. Especially if we’ve been kept up by the company of a pretty lady!” Lomi bellowed. It made Nystali yelp and laugh and they waved vigorously to her as they stumbled from the inn. Aveline nudged Elvan in the ribs. Neither of them had seen their friend this animated.

“It looks like you’ve made… several friends?” Aveline began, smiling politely at Velfall. Her stare was guarded, but not unkind. She felt Nystali was generally a reasonable judge of character, but she was trying to weigh that against her apparent level of intoxication. “Do I have you to scold over giving her too much to drink?” she asked, shifting slightly. A joke, but also a promise that she could be threatening if necessary. A promise, rather than a challenge.

“Aveline is the most amazing woman in the entire world.” Nystali cut in, placing a hand encouragingly on Vel’s forearm. “I wish I could be as amazing as her. She taught me how to use a bow.” She said, and if Vel hadn’t yet noticed Valor and Aveline’s quiver, Tali’s comment must have drawn his eye to them now. “And Elvan is really incredible too. He and I are bound by fate, but he doesn’t like it.” Tali said, shrugging. “But I’m not very good, so I get it. Like I told you, I can sing and dance, that’s about it.” She explained, leaning to say as much a bit closer to Vel’s ear but without whispering well enough that Elvan wouldn’t catch it.   
« Last Edit: August 11, 2017, 01:46:21 am by VenomousEve »

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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #42 on: August 10, 2017, 09:40:59 am »
Somehow it was easier to talk to this Nightingale when she was touched by inebriation. It was a little like a confession, actually. “She’s not well known, our priestess.” Vel informed her, and always had a ‘you see’ at the tail of his closing syllables, which meant he liked her, if she’d known his usual tone of voice, which also had that chaser, but without the kindness. “Likes to insist on herself, which is kind of charming, but she was instilled by the Steelbacks when no one objected. Most of her work is done between the Steelbacks and the holy armory.” He inferred that she was the middleman that wouldn’t meddle, only grease. Even those that blindly believed in a working system in Cretse would have a hard time protesting that.

Velfall didn’t have his guard up when he listened to the made-honest woman speak of her calling, and how she’d preformed it. It was good to hear someone still doing the job they were meant for, instead of chasing their next payment. “I’d love to see you dance.” He was quick to inject, and Dahja rolled his eyes but kept her smile at him. “And I think I can easily promise they won’t be as impressive to me as you are now, Nystali.” It was still important she like him, and that she thought he was at least a little affected by the ale, too. The sober of his intentions flared slightly when she gave that she was kin. Hopefully her fogged blue eyes would miss it. Harbor Kin were treasured here, especially ones not from uncertain bloodlines, which a priestess would not be. A lot of people would price her for more than her pretty, then. He of course looked to her chest when she drew his attention for it. This all meant she was in additional peril, of course.

Elvan was not secretive about eyeing Velfall over. “Seems she is.” He agreed with Aveline as two other apparent acquaintances of Nystali’s made their departure known. Elvan was also amused by this, and would have played along better if not for the other male.

Velfall was about to profess his own innocence at Aveline’s tactful prodding, but Nystali brought other thoughts into their group. Elvan wanted to come to her defense, and swat away her criticism, but was curiously silenced by her leaning into Vel. It might be a source of surprise for Aveline when he squeezed her hand harder, and then let go.

“I have news, Tali, regarding that, in a way.” Elvan said and had his arm tighter to his robe where the roll of leather protected scrolls of parchment. It could have waited until her blue eyes were not muddled, but he suddenly wanted her to know as soon as possible. “I…” he looked at Aveline over his shoulder. “We were successful. A comrade of Aveline’s, Ser Eizel, knighted me right there. It’s official.” He said and held out the roll for her. The blank wax should be enough for her to realize what must be inside.

Velfall was not too amused by overhearing the news, but regained some hope when Eizel had been involved. From what the titanium knight had shown, he was opposed to injustices and by-passed for most major political stirrings when the Steelbacks schemed. “Well, would you look at that. Don’t suppose he’ll have much choice about your entwined fates now, Tali.” Vel said and turned away to let Dahja hook the handles of four ales on his long fingers. He placed the frothy containers on the bar. “To new friends and glory, then.” He said and claimed his own, lifting it.

Elvan, who did not want to seem like the wet blanket despite his reservation about the handsome newcomer at Nystali’s side, took an ale for himself and waited for the other two. He supposed they had been given the night by Eizel, and a little social drinking shouldn’t hurt. He turned to Aveline though, ready to follow her suggestion.

Velfall who caught a friendlier aura off Aveline was quick to hand her the mug himself, grinning with the invitation. “Let’s see if the knights of Salynus can drink.” He needed to stay in this group to gauge their loyalties. If the rumblings were true in his network of hidden ears and eyes, they’d need all the help possible. But he didn’t want to rush into alliances that had roots reaching back to Steelback. “Nystali says you’re amazing. I should like to witness that first hand.”

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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #43 on: August 10, 2017, 06:58:31 pm »
Nystali stared at the leather wrap and the looked up at Elvan. She was a little slow to smile, and it wasn’t the alcohol damping her enthusiasm. “Congratulations, you’ve deserved it for a long time.” She said. Honest, but not as delighted as he might have hoped. For Tali, it was simply reinforcement that she was not acceptable to him. As a knight-in-training, it was fine to think that he wouldn’t take her artifact because he could not yet use it. That excuse, like most others, were gradually falling away. And Tali was certain he had no intention to change his position on the matter. “Syn and Saevir will serve you well.” She said.

When Vel passed her another mug, she was quick to take a long drink. She set it back on the bar with some force and satisfaction.

Aveline was more discriminating with the offer of beverage and seemed at least slightly distracted by the way Elvan had separated himself from her. “Kind of you, Velfall.” She said, lifting the drink in thanks and taking a small sip. “I assure you, I can drink with the best. However, it might not be wise for Elvan and I to indulge a challenge of constitution tonight.” Aveline took another sip of her drink. “We’ve got work to attend to early in the morning.” She said, and seemed apologetic. Tali inclined her head.

“Work?” she asked. “Is there something happening?” She presumed her friends had not immediately accepted posts in Cretse. Frankly, it seemed they were too close to Salynus and whatever rumors would spawn to settle here. Besides, surely, they would have spoken to her before making such a decision. Aveline nodded.

“While were at the ministry there was some word of trouble headed this way. Salynus hasn’t left us quite yet,” she said, expression grim. Nystali’s brow furrowed.

“Is it the general…” she began, but Aveline shot her a look that silenced the priestess quickly. If Velfall was suspicious of the trio’s allegiances, Aveline had every reason to be equally suspicious of his.

“All we know is there’s a Spawn that needs taking care of. Regardless of everything else, Elvan and I are knights of Jor Orpha.” She said, volume low but tone firm. “We aren’t assigned to Cretse, but it would be against our vows not to serve where it’s needed.” She said it as if she thought she might need to convince Nystali of the necessity.

“I understand. Of course you must go.” Tali said with a small smile. She took another swig of her drink. She was muted until she saw the bottom of her mug, and it seemed she was torn between being supportive and feeling deeply othered from her two friends. Aveline was doing her best to remain engaging with Velfall in the meantime, gregarious by nature and curious about why the man seemed to have attached himself to her friend.

“So, what to do you do around Cretse, Velfall?” Aveline asked, having inserted herself between him and Nystali at the bar. Despite herself, it was to placate Elvan a bit, even if she’d not admit it. Whatever ground she felt she had with him when they were alone evaporated when their Nightingale was near. Nystali carried Aveline’s reality like a banner in her pretty white hair.

Nystali glanced at Elvan. “You two should rest, right? If you have to go armed tomorrow?” she said softly, concern in her turbulent sky eyes. “You may be a knight now, but you still need to be at your best. I don’t want to see you hurt.” She stared down at her empty mug. “I know I can trust you and Aveline to take care of each other but…” she trailed off. But you won’t let me do anything to help. “You got the least sleep of any of us,” she reminded him, though it was Tali who had begun to lean on the bar a little heavier.

Aveline paused to speak to the two. “She’s not wrong. And our priestess seems to have had more than enough to drink, herself.” She shot Velfall an accusatory glance then, though it was not malicious. When Elvan had finished his drink, Aveline made a small gesture to suggest he take Tali away. “I’ll bring her clothes up.” She told him, noting Nystali’s robes had been left in a neat pile at the table in the corner of the bar.

By the time Elvan would have brought Tali upstairs, she would be half asleep on his arm and he’d realize Aveline had the key to the girls’ room. If he chose to bring her into his own quarters, she’d begin to laugh. “Oh, no, Ser Van!” she’d exclaim. “Have you brought me here to sully my honor? How can I trust a man such as you to be alone with me?” she would clap her hands to her rosy cheeks and fall onto his bed in a fit of manic giggles. Clearly, she’d not forgotten Dahja’s concerns. Eventually the laughter would stop and she’d stare a bit solemnly at the ceiling. Perhaps he’d have taken her artifact if he was a bit more the man Dahja feared. Folding her hands over her chest, she’d stare at him from across the room. “I’m sorry, Elvan. I know it’s selfish to want.”

When they were alone, Aveline inclined her head toward Velfall. “Not to be rude, but I care a good deal about my friends. So, I have to ask, why’d you go singling out Nystali? I have trouble believing it’s just because she’s pretty.”

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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #44 on: August 10, 2017, 10:24:12 pm »
Velfall clucked his tongue and left his jaw low with disappointment when Aveline sided with reason over merriment. Depending on their mission - he had his guesses - the decision might be wise, though. It left him with fewer options as to how he should ascertain knowledge of their political inclinations, even though they were looking better and better for his own side. "I shouldn't meddle in knightly business. You must let me buy you a stupor when you get back, victorious."

The trio offered him other tidbits about themselves. What a tragic thing that this constellation was spinning. And it seemed it was fueled solely by goodness and affection. He was content in playing into Aveline when she neared him. "I find myself in the middle of big money, which means I persist off the run-off, mostly." he said, and that much was true. Hand in every gold pot meant his gloves were gilded by association. "Errand boy of the wealthy." He could make money other ways but with a net cast so wide, he could get a better picture of the world they lived in. He supposed it was beneficial if Aveline decided he was just some unambitious adventurer turned lapdog, at least for a start.

Elvan had barely noticed Aveline's shift and was still trying to hide the effects Tali's weighted smile had on him. It wasn't the kind of thing they could discuss, really, it might just have been a shadow on her face, but somehow he felt stricken by it the way a chill lives inside moving water. He'd wanted this as long as she'd known him, to be an official protector, she'd lifted him when he doubted. Quickly he told himself that he should not wield his new knighthood for any kind of glory, which was close enough to the point while at the same time being completely removed from it for him to reign his somber in. He took comfort in how adorable she was, blushing from the alcohol and telling him to rest. He had no protest for Aveline when she sent him off. He waved at Velfall who gave him a slap on the arm in return. That particular shoulder and arm was popular for violent appreciation, today.

He rejoiced with her, and felt nervous too, when his priestess accused him of a carnal plot he'd not even considered. His laugh reflected his worry as the sheets deflated from her initial fall. She was an image in the small room, the most elegant thing that had walked and slept, now dressed in clothes that weren't ceremonial and still she was completely out of place. His heart, that was already strung between elation for his new title and concern for the future, vibrated with her voice when it filled the room with her own honesty.

He came to the bed and sat with her, his hand in hers. "It is not selfish." he whispered. He thought of the books he'd read of involuntary artifact extractions, and the result on Kin when the bond that made the weapon was asymmetric or unbalanced. "I... growing up, during training, they teach us to keep our hearts true so that our path and our artifacts will be pure." His other hand hovered over her chest and he knew what would happen. The glow was pretty, small, greeting him. It was as hopeful as she'd seemed disappointed before.

"We would joke about it, the boys and girls, I guess because children's hearts are already pure. I never doubted my will and my intentions." his knuckles ached and he closed his fingers to steel himself from his mistake of flirting with his greatest affliction. Without knowing it he was lowering himself over her to nurse the retreating hand, but to his horror causing the shadows of her veins in the light to weave into a spiral. "But I doubted them a little when I saw you in the Salynus morning the day I arrived." his calm was brittle, voice longing to cry.

"I couldn't risk you, I don't think, Nystali." he said, and he thought that made him less of a man, and less of the knight he should be. "Ah" the spiral of veins wove downward into her, creating a shadow longer than she was deep. The silhouette of their artifact. Moving edges. It didn't know it's purpose but it was magnificent in infancy. "And that's why I can't." to keep his hand from delving into her and raising the weapon, he let his mouth fall on hers, and kiss her with poorly held modesty. He gasped, and kissed her again, deeper, because it helped him, until his burning hand was on her shoulder instead.

Velfall was quiet for some time, mug to his lips. Her question's claim had been nulled by the voices around them. Upon his decision, the drink lowered with his act, green and magenta eyes clearing to their true alertness. "Singled her out because she looked good. I need good." he said and corrected his posture to one he preferred, which wasn't that much straighter than his drunken gait. "Are you good, Aveline?" he tried and turned his head to one side as he inspected her, as though her virtues were all neatly stacked on her expression for him to measure.

"I mean, you're good enough to hold hands, but then you're also good enough to let go." he stood a little closer. He didn't mean for it to be outright intimate, but his joints and his skin, the original design of his mouth - it was all inviting, and he'd not meant for it to be deterring, either. "Leads me to think you're not in Steelback's pocket." a leap for him, but he was certain she'd catch him. "You're what a knight should be, aren't you, Aveline?" And I can trust you. He reached to take her mug, to place it on the bar, away from them.


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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #45 on: August 11, 2017, 03:47:44 pm »
Aveline made a face and sucked down a longer swig of her ale. “Elvan and I grew up together.” She said, as if that should mean something. She didn’t much like that he’d noticed. It made her feel like Velfall could guess that Elvan’s kiss was still lingering on her lips. “I’m good at knowing my place in things.” She shrugged, and it was only half convincing. She knew where her place should be, perhaps. But she’d not let go completely. It bothered her that this stranger had seen it so easily. His pretty face and inviting manner might have done well to distract another woman, but Aveline was delightfully busy with being cross over what he’d said.

Her annoyance died to intrigue when Vel pried a little further. Aveline thought she should remind him she’d started asking the questions, but he’d brought up bait that was too much for her to ignore.

“Knights serve the realm against threats external and internal.” Aveline said, because there was nothing to tell her this man didn’t have plans to whisper in Steelback ears if she was overly forthcoming. “I like to think I’m not in anybody’s back pocket.” She said with a thin smile.

--

Nystali thought she must have been dead sober when his closeness lit her nerves on fire and set their artifact stirring beneath her skin. The sensation didn’t fade, but the illusion of sobriety did, caught in the muddle that was Elvan saying confusing things and the ale playing tricks in her veins. “So, it’s not like you don’t realize it then,” she mumbled, staring at him with some effort. It was clear she was sleepy, but wanted to continue their conversation.

“I thought all my bones were going to break the moment I saw you.” She told him. “Like the majik was just going to spill out and leave me behind.” It was a morbid thing to say, but she had such an adoring expression it was clear the sensation had been longed for. “I spent so long without feeling anything but the tiniest spark. I was so sure of what I was, at first, but I met so many people and felt nothing.” She closed her eyes. “And then I met you.” Nystali sighed. “I’ve met people since, that could find it,” the artifact, “but not the same way you…” she didn’t have to finish, because the soft light splitting her skin and the ghostly swirl of her veins was enough between them.

Surely Aveline or even General Cougal could have found resonance with the artifact. All it took was a bond of fate, for better or worse. But there she was, the girl that had kept company with books and swords, and had no ties until the day he arrived. If they were honest, most of the bonds she’d formed since had been strung from him in some way. “It’s not like I didn’t love the people,” she said of her lost home. “But there was no one there for me. You changed everything, you know? I could never doubt you.” She was mumbling, breath deep and the sweet creep of sleep mingling with the pink of her stupor on her cheeks.

Her brow knit when he refused her again, the ache that spread in her chest wound tight and kept her from drifting any further into her dreams. “But—“ she had wanted badly to protest. The taste of his mouth stopped her. She thought she’d like to tell him no so that she could insist upon that rift between them. It was so rare they spoke of it so openly, and they’d not even gotten angry with one another over it. Instead, she made some other small sound, considerably more inviting than she’d intended, and breathed in his gasp as quickly as his kiss found her again. It was surely her drunkenness that could not question further and invited her soft tongue to test the confidence of his lips.

In her drifting dizzy, she could not bring herself to tell him that she felt like her lungs were filling with water to drown her, or that her ribs ached like something was clawing away from within. If their friendship had been a frustration to the artifact stirring against her heart, this was a strange and fantastic torture.

--

Aveline finished her mug and glanced off toward the stairs. “I should be turning in for the night. Hopefully Elvan is being responsible as well.” She hummed. She offered Velfall a handshake. “Thank you for the drink. We’ll be in Cretse for a little while yet. If you’re here when we return, I’ll take you up on your offer for another round.” She said. She held fast to his hand a little longer than intended, distracted by a thought.

“And Nystali is good. Very good and very dear to myself and my friend. We won’t be able to bring her with us tomorrow. If you see her around, I’d be indebted to you if you kept an eye on keeping her out of trouble. I realize this is a fine city, but every place has its shadows.” She said, a little sparkle in her eye that implied she thought he might be one to traverse such places. “I’m not one to entrust important things to strangers, but I’ve been left without too many options, this time.”

She left him with that request, collecting Tali’s left-behind things and heading up to her room. It was empty and quiet, and she thought it was best not to consider Tali’s sleeping form against Elvan’s heart. 

 

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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #46 on: August 11, 2017, 10:00:53 pm »
Elvan tried to forget things so that he could do what was important. His efforts to spare Nystali from his unworthy heart could not be without great affection for her. So this waiting abandon was no surprise - coming up to undo his better intentions - even though its force was. He had no excuse, he thought at himself. At least she was adrift some potion's sea. He was clear-eyed. He was taking advantage.

Their connection was twisted in what should have been infatuation. How easy any other bond had been. Couldn't they have been indifferent, or even hateful with each other? His heart could have been true then, because then there'd only been his role as a knight. He was betraying that virtue now, tasting her. Initially it had only been an outlet, an escape into something that hoped to be as powerful as his impulse to protect her. But their bond was here too, perhaps more, in their lips. He laid over her, hungry, as Syn and Saevir fell to the floor.

So in the end this couldn't be some great flight from the object they both knew to be of tremendous strength within her. The closeness of their bodies was already making this a tight dance around their glowing bane. He wanted to love her without their destiny, become her lover without a fate. He wanted these clothes that were charming on her to part and leave her skin for him. His hands were loud enough on this point, searching under her well-fitting and borrowed materials to find her, actually, and scrape the tips of his fingers against the home of their perfectly built secret.

"I think I must protect you, because I'm the only one who can." he said with frustration and sorrow and a voice that was parched in their glistening, joined mouths. Her layers apart for his unrelenting fingers. He thought she was inconceivable in her beauty and the glow that said their love was volatile and picturesque. "And I think I love you so much I'll fail you." Either scenario. He mustn't falter as a knight, but he already had in loving her. And he must not choose the world over her, even though she already had, herself.

"Stop me." before the end, but he might as well have meant now, in this room. And if she didn't, he'd kiss her farther, until his armor was off and they were exhausted and fast asleep.

-

Vel watched her go through the motions of martyrdom. He was becoming more convinced of her distance from the Steelbacks, though, which he supposed was a much more pressing honesty than one she might owe to herself. At least it was more beneficial to him. He wondered if his teasing smile confessed to being more personally interested in the former. "Childhood friend and comrade. Quaint." he commented and realized that might have been too cruel. "Honorable, too, I see." About a knight's duty.

He took her hand and her goodbye, but smiled at the possibility of drinking with her again. Aveline might start at the dutiful protector, but there wasn't just this straitlaced, stricken woman. "I'm glad for the trust. I'll keep her safe. Cretse has its bad spots, but we don't have to visit them while you're gone." Another curl of a single corner of his lips. He lifted the other as he watched her leave. It took the murder of three more mugs and the contemplation of her predicament before his silver rolled on the bar's wood and he followed where she had gone.

He wasn't a Samaritan in any way. His political involvement was more fueled by rebellion than an adherence to ideals. So going to the room Nystali had described to him while he'd fanning the elixir's effect in her wasn't so valiant. He was curious, and thought he had a good trade for his answer. The knock was generic, not so melodic but not neanderthal in strength. Perhaps she'd mistake it for someone with longer hair, and paler eyes. "I was just confused as to what my mission was, again?" he'd say, lazy lids clipping once over magenta and verdant rings. His head hung passed the door frame his arm was supported on. "Now that you're all alone, why don't you tell me again."

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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #47 on: August 15, 2017, 05:42:09 am »
It would all be a hazy, half-fevered dream by morning. She hated it when he said he should protect her, and then hated it more that he should let their desires be the trouble of it. He’d never said he loved her before, but it wasn’t as if they hadn’t both known that truth. The same way her soul had recognized his, the moment they met. Part of her wondered if that made the want for his touch a lesser thing, but there had been space for anything tragic between them. It was simply worse this way. “Fail me?” she mumbled, and didn’t understand. As if he could stymie fate?

A sober priestess might have bothered lecturing him on as much, and maybe she did in some fashion with the eager of her skin and the fluttering beat of her heart. 

She heard him say she should stop him, and didn’t know he must have meant then as much as someday. “But I can’t, you know that.” Nystali sighed more than said, arching toward him and his reaching hands in the dizziness of her stupor. There was a storm in her veins, the desires of her body whirlpooling with the peculiar fog of inebriation. One begged sleep as strongly as the other pulled against it.

In the end, sleep won approximately when he’d abandoned his armor and she had blushed to see him. For the best, surely, they’d both think when the sun saw them in separate rooms and they’d had a long moment to breathe.

--

Aveline woke to the sound of knocking on her door, surfaced from dreams that had left her in the embrace Nystali commanded. An unfair thing, but not one Aveline would question or consider. She was quick to the door and cracked it open in her thin under clothes and Mariposa in hand.

Clearly, she’d not expected the man that faced her. Ever honest despite herself, she did poorly to conceal her disappointment. A conundrum, that woman, both armed and a shade heartsick. Either way, it seemed she would have taken Elvan or a fight over the handsome stranger from the bar. If he was offended, she didn’t seem concerned. He’d just woken her, after all.

“I don’t know if it’s worth telling, Sir,” she yawned, eyeing him with some trepidation. “If you can’t recall.” She was quite certain it was a jest, and she made it her business to size people up quickly and well. “But really, can I help you with something?” she asked, setting Mariposa against the wall. She was surprised he’d found her room so easily, and glanced down the hall. Perhaps he’d knocked on several other doors before he’d come here, or perhaps he had an ear to the ground and there were more loose lips in Cretse than she’d figured. Or, maybe Dahja was forthcoming with men aside from Elvan. She smirked.

“My friend isn’t here, if she’s what you’re after.” Aveline said, which meant Tali was with Elvan and Velfall would surely know it, if he hadn’t figured already. Somehow, that annoyed her nearly as much as it annoyed her that Elvan was probably holding the other girl close without a thought to the way he’d caught her lips just hours ago. She rolled her eyes, at her own thoughts more than Vel, and raked a hand through her hair. She stepped back, further into the room, without closing the door. An invitation, half-intentional, and wholly against her better judgement.

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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #48 on: August 15, 2017, 09:06:14 am »
He’d lingered in the thrum of their present, eventual heartbreak for a while longer. Maybe this piece of fate, that promised so loudly in its absence, was the strongest thing between them, this well-fed calamity that wouldn’t affect the world with itself, but could have such historical ramifications with its fallout. But it was something they’d made, that belonged to them, so how could he hate it when he wasn’t allowed by either of their inner builds to abandon it? It was a bitter thing to nurture, surely, but Elvan had never been of the opinion that he deserved more. All knights must suffer so that the world does not.

And then her wider eyes, blue. And then her sleep, blue.

He laughed when it felt like rejection and still laid closer on top of her, with his face on her neck so her pulse could tell his cheek about her dreams. He kissed her once more, below the ear, and then rolled to succumb to fatigue, too, by her side. In the beginning he’d only held her hand, but at the depths of their slumber and the night, he’d rolled her to keep her head on his chest, and secured her with a loving arm.

-

He stayed on threshold a little longer, listening. She saw through his pretense, at least some of it. No-nonsense Aveline. But also some-nonesense Aveline. She wouldn’t have trusted him if she’d believe his memory was so short. Velfall stepped inside and closed the door. At the mention of Tali, he saw her thoughts quaver on her face. “Who? Ah, the drunkard.” He’d do well not to overplay the priestess’s importance, now that Ava felt so inferior. The two women held each other in too high regard, falling short all the time.

“I’ve had trouble with people like her, you know.” He said, quite honestly. “I have a friend, a heart friend for my part, she’s beautiful and she shares it.” He stepped by the knight and pretended to be very interested in the décor until he found the bed and sat on it. “We stay away from each other, you see, for silly reasons. We’re no saints with tightly wound loincloths, but still we play like this. Duty, honor, even if we’re whores or children of whores to others.” He said and there was a gravity to his voice when he unzipped his jacket and tugged at the side of his hair, thinking back. His eyes were alive in the little lights, here, twilight waters coming to fern beaches.

“Sometimes it’s alright, a fond burden, even. Sometimes it’s unbearable.” His hands lifted. He was no stranger to his own vulnerability, especially when it could reflect in others. His fingers closed and unfurled like he was someone in great need, but his expression maintained some pretty somber. “So what do I do, Aveline?” he posed. The invitation was more like a request. He was an expert at holding up his own heart. “There is another girl. She likes another boy. We soothe the jagged edges together, because we know. Misery can breed sympathy, too.” And here a have a body, hot like Elvan’s that won’t reject you, and you won’t have to be alone in this room.

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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #49 on: August 15, 2017, 06:28:58 pm »
Aveline couldn’t help but laugh. At herself, or at him, or the absurdity of them both. “Do you enjoy reading deeply into strangers?” she asked, but didn’t tell him he was wrong when she sat on the bed beside him and leaned back onto her palms. “I wouldn’t call it a burden.” She did correct that much. If he’d seen as much of her heart, he must understand that she wasn’t playing at affection for Nystali either. Her two dearest friends; what could she do but support them if they would bring each other happiness?

In a way, it might have just been practicality, then, that she’d find herself the lesser sacrifice. Aveline preferred to feel it was all a measured choice. Then, she didn’t feel pitiful. Yet, there she was, quietly appreciating Velfall in the room to keep out the quiet. How quaint. “I knew my place the same way they knew theirs, the moment they met. It was impossible to pretend otherwise, I think.” She shrugged, letting her head fall back so that she stared at the ceiling. “I’m content with that.”

But she still moved, confident the way her training demanded and his parentage begged, and tested the suggested sympathy of his lips with her own. The soft of her mouth would not feel content, but Aveline was not a liar. How flattering that she’d expend her weakness with this man. “He shouldn’t kiss me that way, though, don’t you think?” she asked, and her smile was sad rather than bitter and she hated to think she’d kissed him first. The shoulder of her thin undergarment slipped low to one side, and she didn’t bother to fix it, tilting her head so that her cheek rested against the bare skin as she regarded him.

“You’ve bothered to wake me up before I have important business tomorrow, and saying so like we’ve got something mutual to offer one another. I barely know you, Velfall, but you’re here. So, soothe me, so that I have a clear mind when I go to protect your city tomorrow.” She said, challenge in her dark eyes when she was certainly giving in. Aveline could be soft, and sweet, and eager, and good enough to bite her lip when her longing heart wanted to gasp Elvan’s name instead of his.

--

When Nystali woke in the morning, she was rapidly thrust into a panic. It had been pleasant, the steady beat of his heart in the dawn. But, his bare skin against her cheek and the realization that was, herself, only half-dressed sent her scurrying away from him in the bed with the sheets drawn high around herself for modesty. She wracked her foggy brain for some indication of what had transpired the previous night and come up with nothing but too much ale and a pretty boy at the bar. Tali could not decide if she ought to be horrified or relieved that it was Elvan, and not the strange man, sleeping beside her.

“What happened?” Nystali would blurt when Elvan roused, unable to meet his gaze and blushing furiously despite the practiced serenity of her expression. “Did we… did I…?” she found herself in a fit of coughing, unable to finish the thought. “I’m sorry.” She mumbled. “If I was strange.”

A terse knock at the door would help bring a relatively quick end to Nystali’s mortification, regardless of what Elvan might tell her. She’d never been shy about the truths of her heart, but she’d never imposed them on him either. Certainly, it was well beyond Nystali’s nature to have sought his bed, and she had not known Elvan to admit such a desire either. The result was all the befuddlement of a hopeless schoolgirl, and a very earnest attempt to contain it within a good priestess’ calm.

When Elvan did go out to meet Aveline in the hall, he would find his friend of an equally peculiar mood. “We should rendezvous quickly. The Spawn should be within range by mid-morning.” She would say, and head for the stairs with such a business-like turn, it might seem unnatural.

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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #50 on: August 15, 2017, 09:40:15 pm »
He did not enjoy reading others as much as his doing so might suggest. Another habit from his mother. How can you be of service if you don't know the preferences of the costumer? With people, mostly, he had to discern their use for his cause, but with Aveline, in this room, it was because he'd come here to be of help, but also because she was wearing everything on the outside to his mindful eyes.

Her predicament was lovelier than his. At least she had a better reason for her denial. It didn't mean that every restraint was an uprooting of her heart from where it was nestled in her chest, breaking those tethers, snapping them bright with new pain every time she wanted to go, but told herself no. He knew the hollow it made, and the scar tissue on the veins. What fools they were. How unfair they were the kind of fools the world did not cater too. Aveline, his reflection.

He took her to him, and caught the back of her head suggestively when she let them share a kiss. "He shouldn't kiss anyone but you." he agreed, because he had to be this part of her now. And her challenge was all he needed. She was on her back soon, and was the kind of person he could love for what she'd shown him - his own breaking love, and her courage to bare it, and perhaps save the world while doing it. The kind of heroine he could worship. So her clothes came off, and his mouth could offer tribute to her. She mustn't be made to tire more than for pleasure, and the breaths that pleasure draws. First he kissed her everywhere, and stayed the longest where she was the warmest. Generous Velfall with a demon tongue and his rebel clothes on the floor, too. And then he sought her depths when she laid in the sheets, on her belly or on her stomach. It wasn't restful, really, this kind of gentle, but it was what he could do for her, to let her fall asleep.

He slept too, and woke with her.

-

Elvan woke and sat carefully. He couldn't very well startle easily if he was a knight, but this kind of morning still pulled him out of his ways. He'd rather deal with beasts that Nystali's mortification. Looking at himself and then her, with a sheet for clothes, he shook his head at what she implied. Another man might have found this humorous. "We did nothing. The way you woke up, that's how we were all night." he told her, arms out to calm the air between them. "Ah, not entirely. I tried to kiss you. I kissed you, but then nothing." keeping it from her because he could seemed sinister.

He even explained who might be at the door when he also stood for the knock, and shuffled quickly into his armor, Syn and Saevir on his side. He came to her, and stroked her shoulders to have her attention. "I'll be back." he assured her, if she was not content with this morning and his promises.

He had little more solace from his comrade where she waited, but followed still, since her rush was well justified. "I... she slept in my room instead." he told her, as though it wasn't the only fact that was clear. He couldn't know what Aveline might say to that, but they would be arriving at the agreed upon place soon, anyway.

Eizel smiled, a suit of leather on him today, a fine cut but useless even against a noon-day Spawn's weapons. With Blair on his side, it could be safe to assume he'd not awoken the gestalt yet, which suggested he'd come from something dangerous when they met him, yesterday.

Daoule was just taking off, his Spawn calm considering what it was. Daoule was a good Ritter. When the wind had calmed from the wings of the white beast Eizel came to them, leaving a handful of knights behind. "Aveline. Elvan." he said and offered another mount. Despite protests, Cretse's funding couldn't be endless, he would have Aveline sitting on the younger ramet before they went off.

"This is not all." he explained, looking back at the two. "More are already dispatched from other towns, and a party is coming by Ritters from Orpha." This was a giant campaign, then. Surely it must be on grounds of the Midnight. "I don't have all the information, not yet, but they expect this to be quite an ordeal. It seems it has to do with the Steelbacks." he then shrugged and threw a rock over his shoulder to hit Elvan on his chest. It was not customary to carry rocks, so Elvan had to assume he'd picked it just for this kind of thing. "What a first ride for you, Elvan." he teased and then looked at Aveline. His eyes were so serious they were almost bloody. "You ride close to me." it wasn't an order, but it sounded like it would be one if she refused. She'd know he didn't mean to protect her, but rather wanted her ready to hear him if they came across danger.

VenomousEve

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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #51 on: August 15, 2017, 10:35:07 pm »
Nystali was, at least, a bit more at ease when he assured her they’d done nothing scandalous. Still, she touched her lips when he said he’d kissed her and blushed a deeper shade of pink. She kept her eyes on the blankets when he rose to dress and stayed wrapped in the sheets securely. “Please be safe. You and Ava take care of each other.” She said, when he was ready to leave with Syn and Saevir. Not once did she meet his gaze, but it seemed it was securely out of embarrassment rather than any ill-will. If she was bothered that he’d taken a drunken kiss from her, it did not show.

Outside the room, Aveline seemed equally allergic to eye-contact. Peculiar, because it would have been naïve for either of the two friends to presume the other had never taken company in bed. If Elvan had ever thought of it, he might have realized it was exceedingly likely that Aveline had been quite chaste throughout her time in Salynus at least.

Naturally, her evening seemed not to be his concern. “I assumed.” Aveline said, and did glance back at him then. For a fleeting moment, she thought of telling him that Velfall had slept in her room, as if it were some sort of rebuttal. As if she thought it might make him the smallest bit jealous. She smiled wryly then, in spite of herself, and said nothing.

Though she was not keen to admit it, she did find that her small secret was a guilty sort of comfort; she’d left Velfall with a tease and a kiss. Defense, perhaps, against whatever Elvan might have parted from Nystali with. How petty of her, and how annoying that Vel had been quite so understanding. She thought she ought to tell him later.

They made good time to their rendezvous point, their old ramet kicking to a spry gait when encouraged. There, she was given her own wooly beast to ride and nodded along to Eizel’s brief. A knight-in-training found her before they set out and resupplied her with a full quiver of arrows. “On top of things always,” she remarked thankfully, knowing full well Eizel must have noticed her quiver yesterday and made the arrangements. He had always been like that, stepping in for his men before they ever needed to ask.

She fell into an easy pace beside the titanium knight. “You’re expecting something dramatic, I take it?” she asked him, snapping her reigns lightly. “And what, exactly, is the word on the Steelbacks?”

--

Nystali took her time dressing, left alone in the room. She did her best to recall the previous evening, but came up short each time. Tali trusted Elvan must be saying the truth, which was well, but she supposed he might not tell her if she’d been undignified herself. She thought she would do well to find Velfall, both to apologize for whatever uncouth behavior she might have displayed and to ask about what he’d wanted to tell her in the bar. At least she’d remembered that much.

Tali locked the room with the key Elvan had left her and went to test the door to her own. Aveline had probably taken care of her things, responsible woman that she was, but Tali supposed it was best to check. There was always the possibility she’d be asking Dahja for clues about the location of her old clothes. Aveline had, in fact, left the door unlocked for Tali and set the clothes in question on the chair in the corner. What her knight friend had not accounted for, it seemed, was when Vel would leave the room relative to Nystali’s arrival.

“Mister Velfall?” Tali asked, blinking at the naked man in her friend’s bed. It seemed she had been made witness to more of the male form in the course of day than the priestess had been privy to in the entire rest of her life. He was decent, at least, beneath the sheets, but Nystali clapped her hands over her face nonetheless. “Ah, what are you…. Why are you…?” she cleared her throat. “I can go.” She finished, backing out of the room quickly.

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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #52 on: August 16, 2017, 08:58:19 am »
It was telling when Eizel looked back at Elvan before answering Aveline’s question. As always, he trusted her much more than someone she’d spoken highly of. Perhaps knighting him without question was partially payment as well as trust in her. “You’re not blind, Aveline. You know there is some question to Steelback honor.” Harsh words, coming from Eizel. The three of them were riding leisurely, considering the mission, and had formed a trio behind the main party. The men seemed to know their master’s will and didn’t slow down to let them catch up. “Lately they have been more aggressive in recruiting. I’m sure you’ve experienced this in Salynus.” He said it with a heavier tone. “I wish I could have been there, but the lands have been swarming with Spawn, you see. There were talks from our readers about a second age. Ridiculous ramblings, but it paints the picture well.” He continued.

The light hit Eizel’s leather, and she’d be able to see the shimmering hint of the gestalt. It was said that a gestalt is always with the knight, and that it glistens when the knight is upset. “I have reason to connect fractions of the Steelbacks to the rise in Spawn.” Eizel took courage from seeing her lack of surprise. He’d suspected she knew already. “But there is dissention among them. It seems their political body is severely polarized.” A little smile at that, dark. “Cougal is said to lead the new group, and gaining every day. His Star Blade has shown spire qualities, and he’s very likely got his fingers in the monastery of Hillvug,” which she’d know to be a summoner school. The rest of the accusation wasn’t spoken, but he’d implied enough that both she and Elvan would know what the worry was.

In the drawn out silence from the titanium knight, Elvan rode to be on his other side. Eizel greeted him with a nod. “Ser, if you could tell me. What manner of midnight do you think is involved with this.” It was slightly assumptive for Elvan to be so familiar with Eizel, but the leader of this party had not kept his voice too low for Elvan to hear, so he assumed he was within the circle of trust on merit of knowing Aveline. Eizel shot her a glance that said ‘this guy, eh’ before returning to his grim stare in the distance.

“Nothing we can know yet, Ser Elvan.” He started and then turned to look at him directly. “But You’ve heard of The Gattler?” Elvan gripped his reigns harder at that, and his ramet worried some without faltering in its pace. They’d all heard about Gattler, said to be Nature’s son, and one that wanted vengeance for man’s fall from her. It was built of earth, but melted into black glass with anger. A legendary beast people blamed silent annihilation on when towns and parts of cities would be scorched over night without explanation, only ash and fire vats in its wake. Some elders had explained the phenomenon as latent fire Majik pockets in the ground, tethering between two existences before unbalance in majik practiced by man activated them. Elvan had never quite understood it, but he was not elder, either.

“I’m not sure why our readers have mentioned qualities like those attributed the legend of Gattler.” Eizel said, looking at Aveline even though Elvan had asked. “But even if it’s just suspicions, there’s always been a cult associated with that legend, one that promises power, and that seemed to have rivaled the monetary goals of even the Steelbacks. It’s always been a volatile cult.” He said and huffed. “As always, it’s not just monster slaying we have to worry about. At least the Steelbacks aren’t unified under one goal, anymore.”

Mariposa, Syn and Saevir, and Blair glowered suddenly. Eizel smiled as his body took on a bright flame, painting him in glyphs that grew into the gestalt they knew. “Up ahead. Seems there is company for us. Will just be dawn Spawn, I’m sure, since they are faster. Hold fast, Elvan, and watch Aveline here do her sorcery with the bow.” He winked at her when he drew Blair. “No formation.” He called to the men. ”Just take them down.”

-

Velfall rolled further in Nystali’s direction. Her flush was attractive, especially on the collected front she liked to keep. He shook his head and his hands. “No, please.” He insisted, sitting up with the sheet across his lap, still. He smiled as the light made exotic bonfires of his eyes inside the prison of his bangs. “You don’t need to go, but please close the door behind you. The room is big enough for us both to be completely civil.” He promised. He waited for her to do as he suggested.

“And you’re a priestess, you’re not a simpleton, are you, Tali?” he asked, trademark dastardly as he did stand and the sheet did slide from him. He wasn’t ashamed of his body, how could he have been. “You know what went on. Aveline is an amazing woman, as you say.” He grinned at the cornered Nightingale and even took her clothes that were folded and went over to her, to hand them over. “What is this color on your cheeks? Are you allergic?” he teased before he’d find his own clothes.

“I have been allowed to show you around, you know. Ava’s orders. But I have my own agenda. Let me show you my friends. We have been looking for someone like you and your knights.” He said and waved her along as he went for the door. “I’ll buy you breakfast on the way, now that you’ve ravished me with your hungry eyes. You really should act more like a priestess, Nystali.”

VenomousEve

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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #53 on: August 16, 2017, 06:48:00 pm »
Aveline couldn’t help but shoot Elvan an intense look then, a flaring hope when she heard Eizel’s remark on the Steelbacks with such candor. “I—yes. We’ve had some sense the Steelbacks were not, perhaps, upholding the traditional oaths anymore.” Aveline murmured. She exhaled, and there was worry and relief in the sigh. “Salynus is quite securely under Steelback protection now, if that’s what you’re asking. As I told you, we left after General Cougal took up post there.” She stared ahead at the rest of their company, who were keeping such a respectful distance she had to assume it was best to speak candidly now rather than later.

“It worries me that you bring up Hillvug.” She said slowly. It occurred to her that in the rush of their departure from Salynus, she’d not told Elvan about what she’d overheard Cougal’s men shouting on about. “When the Spawn horde descended on Salynus there was a bit of a panic. The men the general had brought with them came rushing back into town, shouting at one point,” She chewed on the inside of her cheek. “I could have misheard, so I’d ask you not take this as slander so much as voiced concern. Nonetheless, I was nearly certain I heard them shouting something about a summoning gone wrong.” Aveline stopped there. It was not worth being any more explicit about what that meant of Salynus’ fate.

Elvan did well to move the conversation on. Even if it seemed Eizel might be of much the same mind as she and Elvan, his ministry presided over a town with a significant Steelback presence. If for no other reason than the sake of preserving their allies, it would be best not to force Eizel to make claims that would align him too strongly on any particular side of the rising unrest. Still, it was an unexpectedly overwhelming comfort to Aveline that they were not standing alone against the silent infiltration of Jor Orpha’s knights.

“The Gattler?” Aveline echoed, some dread in her voice. Another of the large Spawn they’d attempted to root out during the campaign she’d followed Eizel on, and another that they’d not tracked down successfully. They’d sent a few scouts out to locate the creature when they’d come across a burning town, but the men hadn’t returned. At the time, given the broader goals of their work, it had not been wise for them to continue pursuit.

Valor and Mariposa shimmered and a wispy web of light flickered over Aveline’s armor. Her gestalt wasn’t like Cougal’s or Eizel’s, and it came and went swiftly as needed. Now, it gathered in pale cloudy strands, materializing into a quicksilver bracer and finger tab, linked down her arms and across her shoulders what looked like pearlescent, filigree chains. “As you command, Ser,” she said with a grin, kicking her ramet into a gallop.

The group parted for her, and she dropped her ramet’s reigns to guide him by her heels alone. The sturdy, horned creature let out a nasal bleat, racing down the length of their company as Aveline swiveled to nock arrows in rapid succession. The small Spawn, even at a significant distance from her, were no match for Valor’s steadying aim. The creatures dropped in their scamper, and there were a few knights who let out encouraging whoops at the display. By the time she had hooked around to reunite with Eizel and Elvan, her gestalt had winked out of sight and she’d slung Valor back across her shoulder. “Have you missed me?” she asked Eizel, laughing and cheeky.

There wouldn’t be too much time to bask in such menial monster hunting, though, as they were drawing within view of the other collected forces. A ritter from the other troops swooped in low, circling overhead and whistling greeting. Word spread quickly that the Gattler had been sighted and was moving slowing in their direction, burning fields in its wake.

--

Tali followed Velfall’s instructions, though her gaze darted quickly to all places that were no the bed as she closed the door behind her. “I—it’s not about being simple, Mister Velfall, it is that this was—is quite unexpected.” She said, staring diligently up at the thick wooden rafters of the room. She forgot that she was trying not to look at him when he mentioned Aveline, meeting his gaze in surprise. “Aveline?” she chirped. He was correct that Nystali was not a dull girl, but he was incorrect if he’d thought she’d arrive quickly at the meaning of his implication. When she did, she looked as if she’d seen a ghost, and coughed furiously into the back of her hand.

If he was particularly observant, he might have noticed a deeper stain to her lips and a small smear on her hand when she moved it. Regardless of whether, it seemed, her evening had been more innocent in Elvan’s quarters, her destined knight had stirred their artifact deeply. It was likely that Nystali would be feeling the aftermath for the better part of the day, but such instances were not so uncommon that she hadn’t already become decent at hiding them.

“That is, ah, rather unexpected as well.” She mumbled. “I mean no offense, of course.” She said, because it would have been ridiculous to deny that Velfall was a beautiful man or that Aveline was surely lovely enough to command his attention. Her gaze shot skyward again when he let the sheets fall away and snatched her clothes back from him quickly when he came near. “Thank you. You really could have left them there, it’s fine.” She said, fingers curling around the fabric. She was aware that he was enjoying himself and teasing her, to some extent. Nystali let out a great sigh of relief when he was clothed, despite herself.

“Your own agenda? I see. You’ll have to forgive me, but it seems I drank too much last night. I can’t say I recall very much about you, beyond thinking I was supposed to find you today, anyhow.” Nystali said, leveling her gaze with his forest fire stare. She was quick to find her composure, it seemed. “Please let me apologize if I made a fool of myself in some fashion, as well.” She said.

She tilted her head then. “Aveline entrusted me to you?” she asked, and sounded both vaguely offended and distinctly skeptical. “Was that before or after you seduced her, may I ask?” Nystali said with a serious expression. She was probably joking, but one could hardly be sure. It wasn’t as if Tali was blind to Aveline’s feelings for Elvan either, and while she wasn’t one to believe the pretty knight would cloister herself pining for their friend, she had to wonder what had driven her into the arms of a stranger so abruptly. It did seem to strike her, then, that perhaps Aveline had felt badly about her ending up in Elvan’s bed. This brought back a bit of color to her cheeks. She wasn’t sure if it would be better or worse to apologize for it later.

“Thank you, breakfast would be nice. Though, I am certain I am not the one guilty of ravishing anyone, of the two of us,” Nystali said, chin up and a little sass to her stride, though her expression hadn’t changed. If she had known the sort of creature Aveline and Elvan were preparing to face, she might have been of a considerably different mood.   
« Last Edit: August 22, 2017, 02:56:31 am by VenomousEve »

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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #54 on: August 17, 2017, 09:29:27 am »
Eizel tore at his reins, pulling them from where they folded so as to not give false commands to the his ramet, at the confirmations Aveline fed him. He could easily have been convinced to look further into Steelback’s innocence if Aveline somehow had great trust for them. It would be simpler, if somehow there was good intentions in all of this. Both of the men watched her ride off, and it was quite a sight when the party divided so she could charge at the oncoming menace. Eizel smiled at Elvan. “You see why I wanted her for this. Valor has saved many of my men. Not all campaigns have a bow among their artifacts.” He said.

“It’s her disposition. She’s perfect for archery, with lightness in her heart.” Elvan gave and raised an eyebrow at one of her particularly curved shots. She was playing, but she did it well. She’d improved even from last time they’d fought together.

“Hopefully her heart will be spared a little longer, then, so that we’ll find the source of the rumors.” Eizel injected with a bit of an edge to his words. All Elvan could do was nod without really knowing the general’s meaning. “Oh, it was unbearable. Elvan here goes on and on, doesn’t he?” The titanium knight said to welcome her back. It seemed Eizel too had a light heart when the situation permitted it. Elvan was brought along for the banter.

“It’s not every day I get such a good show. I am want to comment.” He said and shrugged. He barely noticed the continued, small light peeking through the bindings on Syn’s handle when the other groups came to meet them.

The men that came were obvious in their segregation. The knights had their armors, some of them varying gestalts, but the others showed who had money and who had struggled to gather weapons and protection. Elvan immediately felt more trusting toward the ragged. It didn’t help that the polished panzer was led by a man on a giant, four horned ramet, black and covered in battle armor. Elvan would know those shoulder protectors and gauntlets anywhere. In the middle of the delta, Eizel’s smaller group met with the many that followed Cougal Tremiss.

“Eizel!” Cougal said, voice dark despite his beautiful face. Could be its luster was majik too. Without giving away any glee or horror, the titanium knight left his group to greet Cougal. The men accommodated this by moving.

“General Tremiss.” Eizel gave. “Thank you for bringing the men here. Do you intend to command the men you’ve brought or would  you like to adhere to rank?” Which would place Eizel’s orders above Cougal’s, since Steelback, though prolific, was still not part of their foundation, which Eizel’s position was in the board. Cougal’s eyes darkened and he shrugged.

“I’d rather not be responsible for all of them. I’ll take my knights and hope to be first into battle to spare lives. That’s all.” Despite the confidence with which he spoke, it was obvious Cougal would have rather demanded the entire troop if it didn’t meant challenging the very instance that had given him access to the Star Blade. “I see you consort with the Salynus defectors. You’re very merciful.” He said as there was bustle in the men, now that they had to shift to follow Eizel. Cougal found himself by Aveline’s side to size her up. The great gait of his ramet had him looking down at both knights from Salynus. “Nice to see you made it.” He said and then tilted his head to Elvan. “And congratualtions. Now you’re living a knight’s life. I hope it isn’t too short to enjoy in these trying times.” He winked at Aveline before turning his mount. “If things become dire, perhaps you can keep him alive, Aveline? I wouldn’t want the nightingale to be alone and I’d have to comfort her.”

After a brief exchange of information, they were on their way on the third and empty path of the dividing road. They came across a horde of Noon-day Spawn soon, and the men split to hunt them in the woods, which thinned their party. It seemed a sound tactic that both leaders agreed to until Dusk beasts rose above the trees. It was strange, because despite their varying designs, they all had black glass crowns and burning eyes. Eizel drew Blair and went ahead, into the fray of giants after hissing “Gattler.” To his new two confidants. Some of the legends said Gattler could take control over other Spawn.

-

If Nystali had peeked, the rascal Velfall had sported some appreciation for her company while he dressed, the length heavy before he had to cram it back into its cloth prison. He wasn’t shy about his functions to her presence, and almost laughed when she sighed as he shrugged into his jacket. He saw more opportunity to torment her. “You were kind of rough, actually.” He said about her drunken self as he hugged his elbows in a broken way. “I… couldn’t imagine a priestess could be so crass.” He mumbled, sullen even though his cheeks were tensing for his amusement. “Ah,” he went on and looked up into the ceiling, his scorching, primal eyes wearing a pearly coat for her imagined slights. “let’s not dwell on it. As you said, I am just rushing blood in useful meat for you. At least you enjoyed yourself and I was drunk enough that it didn’t hurt too much.”

He became more serious and equally playful when she doubted Aveline’s part in his story. “Yes, she did. And even if she didn’t leave me in charge of your safety, wouldn’t you go anyway? I have proven to be of outstanding character, and a generous host.” He licked his lips and then lewdly his fingers as though that was the most normal way to react. “Ah, I seduced her after. I think she was so overwhelmed by my trustworthiness that her armor couldn’t hold up.” He laughed a little and went past her. They walked well together, which taut him they were compatible in that way, at least.

“You’re awfully beautiful in the morning, Tali.” He remarked as they came out. Cretse was too. It was a concentrated little trade capitol, and the lack of space until the market places was quaint to him, teeming with people either going to work, or already setting up their stands. “You must let me kiss you one of these days, by the blue stone walls.” Which were not blue at all, but it raised the price on the bricks which were common here. He placed a wrap of cheese and meat in one of her hands, and a milk drink in the other while they walked by stands that had those for their specialty. He was cutting up fresh fruit and a piece of sausage, bundled together. Maybe his flicking wrist and aptitude to catching the bits he tossed effortlessly with minimal movement in to his mouth said something about his skills in battle or, at least, assassination. “Salynus has good food, yes?” all homes do, and he wanted her to open up.

They made it past the brothel and into a tavern that had yet to open. The people that sat around were quick to ask about his company and he was even quicker to ask them back if she was anyone they might want. “All friends here, because we have the same enemy.” Brass boy, but he trusted his instincts. He gave her a kiss on her cheek and leaned against a table, close to her to let her feel safe. “Nystali here is a priestess of kin variety.” Which earned her gasps, some of the maidens worried about her already. “But she’s plucky, and has friendships all over the spectrum. Would we like her to be our friend, too?” he waved with his knife for her to take the stage. “Tell them about Salynus and Cougal.” She’d not let it spill entirely, but Velfall had gathered enough knowledge to be sure she’d seen some dark things first hand, and that had brought her to journey here. “It might help your knight friends.” A cheap trick, but who didn’t want to feel useful to their friends?

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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #55 on: August 18, 2017, 10:09:28 pm »
Nystali trailed after him into the hall, brows twitching briefly in some exasperation. “I’m certain.” She said. The exaggerations were enough that she had to suppose there had been no real stories worth telling. “Well, I’m certain I wasn’t quite myself, regardless.” She said. Joker, this one. Tali could humor it, more or less, but she wasn’t quite so free spirited as Aveline. She hadn’t been trained that way. So, it was difficult for her not to fret over the things she’d forgotten at least a little.

“I trust Aveline,” Nystali admitted, which didn’t quite answer his question but did seem to confirm his suspicions. “You’re odd, but I don’t think you’re untrustworthy.” She added, which was true. She was naïve, but she had a reliable intuition. Most Kin who’d been raised to cultivate their shimmering ties to the old majik did, even if they had little else to show for it.

Dahja waved at her as they passed, nodding with some satisfaction when she saw that Nystali was wearing the clothes she’d provided. Tali was glad that the kindly woman did not seem fazed by seeing her, which led her to believe she must not have been too incredibly outlandish the night before. That was a small comfort to add to whatever vague assurances she’d taken from Vel’s easy teasing.

Outside, the morning sun was bright, glancing across the slate grey rooftops and making Cretse shimmer. Tali was grateful for the clothes Dahja had given her. A few early risers did pause to glance at the white-haired girl, but carried on without much further fuss. Even in familiar garb, she looked a bit inhuman. Her hair seemed to fracture light like a prism and her fair skin made it abundantly clear she’d lived a relatively soft life. She gave him a discouraging look, which most certainly had the opposite effect. “I think not,” she said. If he’d known her better, he’d have realized her protest was likely due to shyness over any great revulsion at the thought of kissing him. And, of course, there was always Elvan.

“Salynus had simple food, but it was always fresh.” She said, giving him a very small bow of her head as thanks for the food. “There is a large forest just beyond the fields, outside our city gates. There was always a lot of small game and small Spawn.” She shrugged. It was not uncommon for cities and towns to make their living off Spawn hunting. Often, people like to curse the monsters and bemoan their blight on the land, but rarely did they complain when medicinal horns and trophy teeth brought prestige and coin to their pockets.

“The soil is not exceptionally rich, but we grew gourds and ground vegetables in enough abundance that people were not generally hungry.” She spoke about it as if the town were gone, though she’d not been told her home was any worse than she’d left it. Perhaps, it didn’t matter. There was little chance she would return. “So, many Salynus staples were stews and hearty, meat-rich things.” She nibbled at the things he offered her, except for the sausage. It seemed she’d likely not been one to participate the carnivorous tendencies of her town.

--

Aveline didn’t bother to hide her grimace when Cougal approached. His confidence was nauseating in the wake of Salynus’ tragedy. “General.” She said, because she was still a knight. The auburn-haired soldier was as unpleasant as Aveline expected and she gripped her reigns a bit tighter at his haughty teasing. It wasn’t out of fear, but a concerted effort not to offer him a number of explicit and unflattering hand gestures.

“Well, he’s not wrong, Ser Tavar,” Aveline muttered. “Nystali will be expecting us back, so I’ll keep you in my care. Look after me,” she said with a small smile. There was a lot of weight in that, both of them must have realized. What Cougal Tremiss had suggested was only formally shy of a threat.

Aveline seemed more at ease, traveling along a formal complement of knights. She’d liked the structure of Orpha’s ministry-led campaigns and flourished nicely under Eizel’s direction. Riding with him again now was a bit like coming home; a welcome sensation on the heels of loss. Eizel would find her rhythm encouragingly familiar, guiding her ramet to place them in a mutually defensive position without much thought. For Elvan, it might be a knew sort of proficiency to see in her. Independently, Aveline had always argued Elvan was the better knight. She’d never been shy about where she’d felt their skills were unequal, but it was apparent she was the sort of unwavering support anyone would be eager to have on the battlefield. From atop her ramet, she loosed a few more arrows to catch a larger Midday Spawn as it careened toward the woods after a group of dispatched knights.

--

Nystali had been quiet when Velfall took her into the tavern, and quiet when her presence had started a commotion. She let Vel handle it as he liked, watching him because she wasn’t certain of what he wanted from her either. She twitched when he laid out for them so plainly who, and what, she was. Briefly, she recalled a story Elvan had told her of Kin being kidnapped and force to produce tortured, misshapen artifacts for sale again and again. She took a deep breath, and chose to believe this was not the case.

She seemed surprised when he asked about the fate of her home. He had not been forthcoming with much of their interaction the previous night, and Tali only vaguely recalled him suggesting she find him in the morning. “Salynus,” she echoed. “Well, I was born and raised there. I was the town’s lore keeper, as the Nightingale priestess. We had a modest temple and artifact collection, and I looked after those as well.” She said.

Nystali seemed to be looking to Velfall for some sort of assurance that this place was safe. She suspected he had not meant for her to give them childhood stories and he’d asked her specifically about Cougal. “Our artifacts were very dear to me, like friends, in a way. But, I never supposed our humble collection would have drawn any attention. It seems I was wrong.”

--

When the Dusk Spawn rose above the trees, Aveline felt her heart sink before Eizel said a word. It was never a good day when legendary Spawn seemed to live up to rumors. “So it is,” she echoed, and knocked an arrow. “I will soften your way,” she said to Elvan as she wheeled her ramet around by the guidance of her heels. She would follow his lead and direct Valor’s fury in whatever heading he set.

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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #56 on: August 19, 2017, 02:29:31 pm »
Velfall was comfortable around this lot, especially with the full display of her reactions to his teasing still in his belly. In fact, Velfall was carrying on a little like a bloated cat. He sliced the fruit loudly, and the fresh, crisp orb hissed as he severed a prefect part from it. There was a puff of clear spray on his fingers when he balanced the bite on his blade to his mouth. He spoke with the morsel in his cheek. "She's a storyteller, this one." he teased while waving the knife, and it seemed that kind of sarcasm fit right into the flavor of these people, because they laughed until it filled the tavern.

A large man who already had a stout in front of him on a table, had taken a visible shine to Nystali's exotic pretty. He wore a worn leather vest and tugged it once with big fingers before waving at her. Velfall was already alert, chewing the noisy bite. "Hey, Vella, mind if she shows us her..." was all the mountain was allowed to rumble before the blade and the juices still glistening on its edge had traveled the space between the two men and stuck in the hard hide of the vest without penetrating to the shoulder.

"That there is Biolfall, my dear brother." Vel said and produced another, thin blade from behind his ear, somehow. "And no. I know you like them stately, Biol, but you're left with your calloused hands until you can find some merciful soul for that kind of pity." he cut a sign in the air that was supposed to be the emblem of this city's priestess. The blasphemy gave him another round of laughs. "But you see, she's like us, brimming with reasons to distrust Cougal's fraction of the Steelbacks. In fact, she was against them before red-tots reared his bloody locks." he felt what she'd shared with them was enough, despite his comment on her sparse prose.

"I didn't mean to be rude." Biol tried as he pulled the knife out and placed it beside his ale. "But you're going to be sorry, Vella. Our sister mends these for us, and you know how she gets when you try to murder me." But Vella did not seem worried. He made a point out of eating at least half of what was left of his fruit and then offering the rest quietly to Tali, since she'd shown herself not to like meat, before speaking again.

"We're just a ragtag band of delinquents, as you can see. Daughters and sons of Cretse. I could tell you about the Steelbacks, but it would just add to the feeling you're already certain of." he licked the dagger and then lost it somewhere in his clothes. "Do we want her?" he asked with a spin. "Do you want us?" he directed at her after the circle. "A priestess can go places we can't and we have ears everywhere else. We could use each other." because he didn't know all her reasons. "And she comes with two knights." this made them gasp dramatically, but it was very likely they were just playing along. And, perhaps, she would want to help those two knights, as well - because he did not some of her reasons.

-

There were three tall enough to compete with the top of the trees. Lanky, man-like Spawn, swinging their arms. One had its mouth where its heart should be and glass molten over its shoulders. When Elvan looked around to read Eizel's signals, he was already off his ramet and meeting the headless on the path ahead. The arm of the creature exploded into threads with needles at the worst end, not unlike what Elvan and Aveline had faced in Sylanus on the forest's edge. Elvan gasped but Eizel didn't seem worried as the weapons of the Spawn descended toward him. Instead the leader of the party threw a look back at Aveline, trusting her to keep the brunt of it off him with her arrows.

"Crazy." Elvan breathed and gripped Syn. She got him off his mount in a heartbeat and sent him rushing toward the monster just as Eizel sliced through its Achilles tendon with a quick slide and a wide swing. Good form, as expected from a classically trained knight, but it still left the Spawn with a good leg to balance on.

"You're quick. That's useful." Eizel commented, some humor in his grim fighting expression.

Elvan didn't have much time to answer before he decided to draw Syn across the other tendon, and have the screeching beast topple. By no measure was it defeated and Elvan was already climbing its leg with Syn's velocity to try and reach something vital. Just as he was about to run its side through with Saevir, a light divided its spine. It's halved, four lungs were still wheezing as it fell apart and Elvan fell with it. When he landed softly on its dead body, Eizel still had Blair raised. It would seem Eizel could send the destructive energy of a cut away from Blair's edge. It was a technique taught the privileged knights, but Elvan couldn't imagine this level of it was taught, it had to be the artifact.

Cougal stayed by Aveline's side, watching her work. "You shoot pretty well, knight. Don't you think your aim is wasted here? You could live comfortably with the Steelbacks." he said, comfortably reclines, as though the others weren't already risking their lives while he rested.

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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #57 on: August 22, 2017, 03:14:21 am »
She inclined her head. Velfall was a raucous man, in a very free sort of way. Nystali thought that was probably admirable in some circles. This group, certainly, seemed to like him for it. For her part, she was unsure what to make of it. She didn’t hate his easy swagger, but she’d made friends and shared a heart with dutiful knights of the realm. Even Aveline, with her quick smile and quicker tongue had a lawful restraint to her that sang of keenly polished morality. Elvan, of course, a bit more somber and deeply entrenched in his beliefs, was a vastly different experience. She had lived her entire life in Salynus without making friends like these.

“Well, if you’d wanted something more elaborate, you should have specified.” Nystali suggested. It might have been a joke, but she stared at him with those clear, Prussian blue eyes and such a serious expression it was hard to tell. When he introduced his brother, she gave him a little bow. She’d taken his bawdy suggestion in better stride than Velfall’s teasing in the morning, but Biolfall was fully clothed. So, there was that.

She accepted the fruit offering between her thin fingers, the ripe and crisp meat dripping sweet juice down the digits. The taste was as satisfying as the texture between her teeth. “I trust my friends, and they had reason to distrust the general and his men.” Tali said. “I was given my own reasons when he came to my home.” She touched her chest and gave Vel a funny sort of look, like she thought he might want to make light of it. “Desecration of our gifts in a sorry grab for power.” She said, and there was an honest and delicate vitriol woven in the level tone.

Nystali blinked at the group and seemed unsure when she refocused on Vel. “I don’t know what it is you intend to do. I should like to see Jor Orpha safe from the likes of the general and his forces. I should like to see no other artifacts harmed by his perverse hands.” She narrowed her eyes. “I am not a well-traveled woman, but I have read. The Steelbacks are spread well beyond Cretse. If I were to dedicate myself to that cause, I should also intend to leave Cretse. So, perhaps I wouldn’t mind friends like you. But, I don’t know if you want my friends and me.”

It was apparent she had her head firmly on her shoulders without ale to addle her senses, and it was possible Nystali had been dreaming bigger than either of her knight companions had considered. She supposed they might object when they returned. But, here, it seemed was a chance. If these people shared her hopes, perhaps they would dream beyond Cretse too.

--

Aveline bit the inside of her cheek, her gestalt winking in the light as she drew Valor and focused on giving Eizel the cover he needed. She didn’t have time to pay mind to Cougal’s leering gaze, as much as the heat of it irked her. Aveline nocked arrows nearly as fast as they flew, Valor’s energy coursing through her arm, and kept the racing threads from reaching Eizel as he rode. “It’s hardly a knight’s duty to live in comfort.” Aveline hissed. “Or have you gotten so very used to sending your men out before you, Ser?” she asked.

It was not her business to stay and entertain the fiery knight, so she dug her heels into her ramet’s sides so that it bounded off, racing after Elvan and Eizel. They seemed to handle the creature without too much duress, which made her smile. She’d not doubted Elvan’s ability to impress, but she was pleased he ought to be making a good impression. She shouted and thrust Valor above her head in congratulations, as she rode past to head off the next Dusk beast.

Aveline was quick to catch the towering creature’s eye, flashing between the trees on her sprightly ramet. The lanky beast bellowed and stretched, its strangely viscous form extending to the sound of a bone-snapping chorus. A large, tentacle-like appendage with tree-trunk girth burst from one of its thighs, hefting downward to crash over her. She was quick to leap from her ramet and snapped the butt of Mariposa’s shaft against its wooly flank to send it leaping out of the way. For her part, she threw herself to the side and rolled hard. The tentacle clipped her, just barely, and sent her sprawling a few more feet.

Still, she was quick to regain her footing and swiveled to take aim at the huge appendage. Her gestalt flared and flickered and Mariposa seemed to shrink as Valor seemed to grow. She set the glaive in the now-massive bow and sent it flying, the two artifacts retaking their original sizes as Mariposa course toward the tentacle. The red blade flashed as it tore through the tentacle and cleaved it cleanly from the oozing figure. The Dusk beast howled, retracting the remains of the fluid tentacle back into its leg as the severed component thrashed and puddled outward into a dark, tarlike mess.
 
All around them, the sounds of battle intensified as more Dusk Spawn thundered through the woods, crashing through branches as they crested the treetops. In the distance, a roiling and dark shape churned closer to them, its edges fanning out and splitting toward the forest. The Gattler, like a thousand screaming wraiths on the horizon.

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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #58 on: August 22, 2017, 11:38:25 am »
Velfall was delighted by her retorts. He liked to pull out other nuances in people who presented themselves in a certain light. Her attitude also suggested she was comfortable enough in this new environment. He said nothing when her hand reminisced over whatever Cougal’s transgression had been, but his mind did go a few places because of it. The crew listened to her, and although some of them had skeptical eyes, they were all captivated. A new member was of some importance, after all, especially one with such a unique use for them, but it was also because she was eye-catching. Velfall realized he should like to see her leave this place too, but somehow that filled him with a sullen weight. He shook it off as Biolfall laughed.

“She sounds like you, Vella!” he billowed and there was a buss among the early patrons, even though most of them didn’t find it quite as amusing as Biol. “Always telling us we owe this to the rest of the land.”

Velfall shrugged and bit into some jerky. “I saw your friends. If they give their word I’ll take it.” He said and chewed as he thought. “It’s settled then. We don’t have a fancy ceremony but Biol here will drink to your health while his declines.” The insult didn’t hit hard as the large man hummed in agreement. With this, the group fractioned to the pods that are expected in a larger constellation of people, and Vel directed her to a table. “Could I ask you to talk to your knights?” he started. “And since we’re such good friends now, our fates on your lips, maybe we should get started already?” he suggested as though this was as easy as going out to the market to haggle for trinkets. “We would like some evidence of foul play. Figure since you’re a Nightingale you could see if there’s any way to prove favoritism in the holy armory.” He ground the last of the meat before swallowing.

“Maybe not.” Biol said, moving closer, which meant sitting closer to his brother. Vel had been strategic about the seating. Vel rolled his eyes widely to insult the larger man. Biol was irritated but not stopped by it. “There are a few in her congregation who have been wavering a bit lately, maybe she could talk to them? Surely there is good faith in standing up to the Steelbacks, but our current priestess is in their pocket so all they get is propaganda.”

“Kinda steep for a first assignment, isn’t it?” Vel asked.

“Well, aren’t you concerned with your newest recruit, Vella?” Biol retorted, and it would give Tali the distinct feeling of him being far more clever than he usually was. Vel frowned.

“Whatever. Up to you, Nystali.” Vel said and looked away.

-

Elvan watched Aveline fight the disgusting beast, and found that it was quite amusing to see her in action. Eizel patted his shoulder. “You’ll get there too, newbie.” He said with some lightness. “But this isn’t some casual hunt, I’m afraid.” He continued and had blood in his green eyes as he clasped Blair with both armored gloves, feet planted wide apart. “Looks like a basic creature. Should miss its head terribly.” Confidence. He swung horizontally and the blade whistled as it sent off another cut, which looked like even, crescent lightning traveling toward the beast’s neck.

Elvan, who was a few paces ahead now, turned back to smile at the titanium knight just before the stroke would sever, and caught Cougal behind Eizel. On his giant ramet, Cougal flicked a scaled finger of his gestalt. Elvan’s eyes widened as he twisted around to see the beast duck underneath the slash just in time. The attack took part of its jaw but spared the glass crown.

“Quick for such a behemoth.” Eizel muttered, having not seen what transpired behind him. He readied another attach, pulling Blair back, but by then they saw the ominous mass, glowing with hot veins. “Father’s cock…” Eizel cussed, which identified him as a southerner. “Knights!” he called and gripped the horn by his side, blowing in to it and splitting the soundly announcement on his blade to magnify the volume with Blair’s majik.

“Cougal. He controls these beasts with the Star Blade.” Elvan hissed as he passed close by Aveline. There was little time to strategize as the shadows between the trees swelled with monsters of all sized, coming off Gattler, but he needed Aveline to know. “Look at him.” he advised her as he then went on to meet a wave of critter with Syn. She divided them well so he could hammer Saevir into the ground, sending him off flying toward the beast behind the one she’d been fighting. Taking heads seemed a sound plan, and the creature, despite its fat neck, became no match for Saevir’s punishment. Elvan landed in a sea of little Spawn with red seams and started cutting away just as the rest of the party arrived and the monster’s head collided with the forest floor.

“Send a ritter back to Cretse!” Eizel called when his men arrived and his gesture directed them to where Avelina and Elvan were fighting already. A cough and a hiss, the signature bark of the winged Spawn of Ritters, sounded from above as Daoule raced to deliver the message of danger to the city.

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Re: Majik Morose
« Reply #59 on: August 24, 2017, 08:15:39 pm »
Aveline nodded, expression grim, as Elvan rushed by. It wasn’t what she wanted to hear, but she couldn’t say she was surprised. And there was no time to speculate on what it all meant. “Then we better go after the handler.”  She grimaced and swung around to seek out Cougal. He wasn’t hard to spot with his powerful gauntlets and crimson mane.

“General!” she shouted, dashing toward him. “Will you lend your blade?” she asked, keeping her voice loud so that Eizel would hear. If she could force Cougal to fight the beasts, it was just as well. If he would not wield the Star Blade against the Spawn, it would expose him and that was just as well. Surely, such a result would fracture the knights of the realm in a thunderous way, but she thought it must be better to insight action than to continue playing Cougal’s ridiculous game.

The general’s stare was ferocious when he returned it, sparking at the flare of her challenge. Aveline chanced a cheeky grin that did not reach her dark eyes. Your move, as always. Cougal snarled but seemed intent to further his ruse, at least for the moment. He moved like a wild beast and struck with his Star Blade fang, ripping into the Spawn that he’d spared only moments before. The creature hissed and wailed, screaming in unearthly timbres. “Of course, Ser Merrick.” He called without looking back at her. “I am a defender of the realm, after all.”

Aveline found her ramet and swung herself up into the saddle, pulling him up near Eizel. “Ser, shall we press further into the woods?” She asked.
--

Nystali listened to the brothers quibble over where best to use her and she folded her arms in front of her. “I do not see why we can’t go about both approaches. I will need an opening to meet your Cretse priestess, so reaching out to her congregation would not be unreasonable.” She said. “Anyone who might be keen on resisting the Steelbacks should be happy enough to play along with our needs, don’t you think?” She asked.

She inclined her head. “I am not a priestess of Cretse, so whatever religious remnants your city maintains have no reason to take me into the fold. However, if I can win over your faithful in any small number, it would be wisest for your clergy to keep me on hand.” In such a way, the priesthood had been used extensively for political gain in past times. Their influence, and their control of city artifacts, had made them desirable resources. Religious sentiment had been failing for some years in most of Jor Orpha, but the symbolic presence of priesthoods had persisted. Cretse itself was a prime example of it, their priestess holding sway despite her role as a glorified armory clerk.

She sighed. “In the meantime, it would be wise to speak with my friends, as you say.” She was staring at Vel. “They will feel for your people. Good knights with reason to distrust the Steelbacks already. I am sure they will go as far as they can for the realm.” Nystali paused for a long moment. “I will not put anyone in harm’s way heedlessly, though. I would ask that you do not take advantage of their good hearts.” Clear voice, bright eyes. The Nightingale priestess in soft black leather was a curious figure then. “Velfall, do you lead these people?” she asked, and it was clear that she did not intend to fall to the ranks of this movement. If Tali was going to take up arms, it would be at the fullness of what she was able.