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    soldier boy i tell 'em
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  1. Ailred Ruthern applauded from the seven-skies, his pride evident as he watched his relative wear the stitched breeches - a feat that few MEN could achieve. "The last time I witnessed such cowardice was during the Siege of Southbridge, with soldiers bickering like lobsters in a boiling pot."
  2. Nikolas examined the formal missive with a hint of suspicion in his eyes as he accepted it from his wife. The seasoned prince let out a sigh, his voice conveying a mixture of skepticism and contemplation, "I'd be inclined to believe that such weighty decisions are rarely influenced by isolated incidents. There's likely more to the story." Nonetheless, Nikolas couldn't help but ponder whether his recent clash with the Matriarch during that rather tense family dinner had played a role, particularly given the outcome of their duel. His brows furrowed slightly, a sign of his internal musings, as he considered the possibility of House Kortrevich nursing a grudge or seeking some form of payback. However, instead of fear, an almost eager gleam flickered in his gaze. If change was in the air and challenges were brewing, he wasn't one to shy away. The notion of confronting a potentially vengeful house only heightened his readiness for whatever might lie ahead. As his mind ventured back into history, he recalled a dispute from his youth, at the midst of night, many a year ago, where he stood victorious over a defeated Vladrick Kortrevich. Back then, Nikolas had worried that the wrath of a house might just befall him, leaving him hopeless in defense. But now he almost welcomed the thought, a glint of a smile touching his lips. For Nikolas, the prospect of a challenge and the intrigue of conflict were as alluring as ever, a fire that had only grown with time. — ✤ —
  3. Nikolas peered through a scope towards the dark night sky, its canvas adorned with a myriad of stars. He cross-referenced his wife's most recent publication: The Haeseni Zodiac. "A fine reformation, dear," he praised, his tone carrying a hint of genuine admiration. His gaze eventually shifted from the celestial expanse through the scope to settle upon Mischa. "You have truly outdone yourself," he continued, his smile both fond and intriguingly peculiar... ... Their shared warmth was momentarily suspended by a hacking cough into his sleeve, followed by a subtle wipe of the tip of his crooked nose.
  4. LETTER OF RESIGNATION KRUSAE ZWY KONGZEM Issued by the Office of the Royal Treasury On this 3rd of MSITZA AND DARGUND of 448 E.S. VA BIRODEO E HERZENAV, For twenty-two years I have served His Majesty, Karl III, acting as his Royal Treasurer. Disregarding Krawns, our coffers have doubled and are fit to match the ambitions of our Country. It should be every man of this nation's duty to serve it well, to fulfill what little purpose there is to have. I hereby resign from the Office of the Royal Treasury, and propose that my Deputy Treasurer, Maric Colborn, take my place as the office’s head. May he find duty, or purpose in the office, and if not, may he find it elsewhere. My aging days are better suited serving His Majesty directly, within the Marian Retinue. Where I am better suited, wielding sword and shield, rather than pen and parchment. IV JOVEO MAAN Ser Grigori Vyronov, Knight of the Marian Retinue
  5. The sleeping Nikolas sputtered out as Mischa forwarded a missive into his face, clashing with the bridge of his hooked nose. His eyes were bloodshot from the night before as he looked upon her face, disorientated. The makeshift pillow of a hearth’s firewood log roused a grunt of pain from him. Ponderously sitting up, he gave the hearsay a read, taking him retake after retake, due to the fog of his mind. “The writing is bitter as always,” is all he muttered. After, he found his makeshift log pillow on the kitchen floor and nodded back off to a peaceful sleep.
  6. THE APPOINTMENT OF DEPUTY TREASURER KRUSAE ZWY KONGZEM Issued by the Office of the Royal Treasury On this 5th of WZUVAR AND BYVCA of 444 E.S. VA BIRODEO E HERZENAV, The Office of the Treasury has long gone without a Deputy to prop itself up, and ensure further prosperity for our Kingdom. With frictions on the horizon, His Excellency, Grigori Vyronov sees it fit that a Deputy is finally appointed, due to the costs of our Kingdom’s future being uncertain, and that a candidate of the realm has showed beyond doubt his competency, and loyalty to help maintain His Majesty’s office of coin. The candidate hereby appointed to the position of Deputy Treasurer is His Lordship, Maric Colborn, (@Twandhi) the Baron of Bethlenen. He has ensured that the external trade of Haense has flourished, maintaining many foreign shops, and other avenues of trade. This is alongside his many other duties within the treasury, that he has excellently completed, with exceeding haste. IV JOVEO MAAN His Excellency, Ser Grigori Vyronov, Lord Treasurer of Hanseti-Ruska and Knight of the Marian Retinue
  7. THE PURCHASE OF COMMODITIES & CURIOSITIES WITHIN THE ROYAL TREASURY KRUSAE ZWY KONGZEM Issued by the Office of the Royal Treasury On this 9th of WZUVAR AND BYVCA 439 ES VA BIRODEO E HERZENAV, The Kingdom has reached a zenith of prosperity, following years of war, and an adamant council persisting throughout it all. Stalls, and other deals have been propped up both internally, and internationally, therefore trade has flourished. Coffers of Hanseti-Ruska are brimming to the point of hinges splintering, causing hundreds of coins to go amiss, and eventually, left to rust in our vaults. This coinage is not to go wasted. It is now, the Office of the Royal Treasurer does hereby open itself up to spend some of its coin, looking to purchase commodities pertaining to the following: I. Items that have historical relevance, with proof provided. II. Items that are crafted with a rare material. III. Items that have magical, and or, intriguing properties. If you wish to inquire about the sale of an item, or other commodity, please contact the Lord Treasurer. His Excellency, Ser Grigori Vyronov, Lord Treasurer of Hanseti-Ruska, Knight of the Marian Retinue
  8. [Elizabeth Kenney] O’, BLIZZARD COMING ______________________________________________ It was just around midnight, for the moon’s rays had just crept into the windows of the Morrivi. A mother's heels clacked down a nearby corridor, and the lively bustle of Karosgrad had begun to die down. Silently laid a young Barbanov prince, nestled within thick cotton sheets. He was left alone, for only his thoughts accompanied him. “Those I see are those with tales to tell, those tales only I can hear,” The Barbanov prince pondered aloud, looking delicately at the crevices of his dull ceiling. The peak of boredom had long been reached for Nikolas, hours past the strike of midnight in the sky. “I have a gift,” He lulled to himself, resting an arm between a pillow and his head. “The stories of Arn, I heard them because I am not cursed, but because there are many more stories to be told. Those I have not met. Those who could not tell those stories, so now that duty falls to me.” With that in mind, the inky-haired prince swiped a palm to cleanse the fatigue from his eyes, and climbed from the soulless agony that was his bed. Steps echoed in the dark, until the metallic squeak of a door handle sounded, and a creeping light from the hallway seeped into the room, revealing the dishevelled prince. To the kitchens, he met those fallen servants, who had worked themselves to death. To the knight crypts, he met those fallen soldiers, who had bled for King and Country. Through the Palace halls, he had met those ancestors of his, and Maya in passing. But in the palace attic he found something foul. . . The attic was dark at every corner, rickety webs lined left to right, and clouds of dust billowed from each step, or blow of wind. It was tangible, the dark. Each breath broke the absolute silence of the room, which emitted relief, as the sounds of the beating heart, and clamours of the head vanquished. Light was only drawn through the crack of a circular, blue-stained window, where a ragged curtain fell over one side. Below it was a being, more wretched than the tangible dark could ever muster. It had sunken shoulders that bowed towards the window, and shrivelled skin that blinked like a poor, thin leather, stretched over the crest of a mountain. Worst of all, was as it turned to the thud of Nikolas’ boot, where a decrepit smile revealed a set of yellow, shaved teeth, like a trophy. VILE words spilled from his maw. O’, BLIZZARD COMING. . . O’, BLIZZARD COMING. . . The Prince had no words, only a sprint that launched him back to his room in half of the time it had taken him to arrive, and a slam to his door that resounded. ______________________________________________ [Francisco Goya] _______________________ Days turned to weeks, dawn to dusk, and yet the Prince batted only minutes of sleep. A twist of his neck, and those spewed words, it played through his mind. The unsettling apparition scared him to his core, twisting his bones with cold fear, knowing that IT was in the attic with the circular blue window. O’, BLIZZARD COMING. . . O’, BLIZZARD COMING. . . It had bleared through his ears for the final time, and after a debilitated blink, Nikolas was there again. In the stained blue attic, with the wicked apparition at his front, luring him in with a taut flourish of his gangly fingers. “Come here, boy. .” “COME. . . COME!” The Prince fell helpless in his exhausted state, trotting forward. “Why the long face? There is much to tell, so- so much.” Spat the creature, splatting a hand against the window which loomed over them. Nikolas remained still, a dog-tired gaze falling over the creature, trapped in thoughts, All I can do is listen. “O’, Blizzard Coming. . . O’, Blizzard Coming,” He started softly, though his voice turned bitter. “A blanket of snow, shall there be, but NO,” A vile laughter halted him in his tracks. “A covering of suffocation, and frost that no hearth can deter.” “Hail will rain, the size of bricks that prop these walls, which will turn to crumble.” “And- And wind that is sharp enough to cut the backs of those who do not shelter will sickle the land.” ____________ The creature fell tight-lipped then, sheltering those uneven gnashers, while his mangly, jaundiced eyes awaited a reaction from the boy. Nikolas weighed the blizzard to come, in that dizzied state, wondering if it were true. Landed upon the stained window was a singular, warping snowflake, sowing that belief into his mind. But not all his wits were discarded to the snow, so at the turn of his heels, the Prince bound back to his bedroom, wrapping trembling hands around his head. ______________________________________________ O’, BLIZZARD COMING. . . [Joseph Mallord William Turner] ________________________ Rain tapped at the window of Nikolas’ room, one misty night later. Dreams had pooled his mind, and when he had woken, the apparition left clues of his being. ____________ A nightmare of lashing winds woke him to a greening, wiry finger being dragged under his door frame. O’, Blizzard Coming. One of snow that suffocated the world, woke him to an ominous silhouette in his window. O’, Blizzard Coming. The last was of hail, dousing his people in death, which woke him to bitter, sallow eyes dancing in the flames of his hearth. O’, Blizzard Coming. ____________ It was then, prince Nikolas of Barbanov, fumbled out of his bed and to the rainy window of his room, perching himself on the ledge. Eyes of his dragged over the crimson bricked walls of Karosgrad, and out to the horizon. His numb hand pressed against the glass, smearing the condensation as he uttered those words. “O’, Blizzard Coming. You are coming.” ________________________ [Maxfield Parrish] ________________________ Days of duty passed for Nikolas. Friends were told to stock up for the winter, to buy rooms worth of food, so they could last. The purse of his mother was drained, and servants were ordered to pool together an entire vault of coal, so that an eternal fire could be kept ablaze for the blizzard to come. In every crevice of the Palace, thick blankets, rugs, and coats were hidden under floorboards, and in closets, so that his family could be stowed away from the blizzard to come. Though halfway through the hall to his bedroom, his mother, Amadea of Susa flanked his front and folded her arms, sighing gently at the bundle of blankets nestled between his chest and arms, “Oh Chero, you do not need more coats, blankets– take them back!” Nikolas halted before her, and as if comparing a portrait between the prince and the creature, a lopsided smile, and sallow eyes flitted up to Amadea. “O’, Blizzard Coming.”
  9. [Ouzo Kim] [!] An artistic depiction of the young Barbanov Prince. THOSE I SEE ______________________________________________ Arn, oh Arn, Thought the youngest litter of Barbanov. A heavy-eyed Nikolas tossed and turned in the night, powerless to shut-eye, as the wails of those who walked the night peeled his ears. As those wails blared, the Prince scrunched his damp hands into fists and thought to wake his mother. But no. “It is just your whimsical imagination, chero,” The mother explained, checking wardrobes and under his bed. He had seen those who roam the night, talked to some, and even hid from those who spiked fear in him. THOSE FEW WHO HAUNT. And those many who did not believe his woes, confining the boy to a jail of seclusion, without a key in sight. Not able to escape into sleep tonight, Nik wrapped a blanket around his shoulder and crept off to the crypts, pondering once more, Arn, oh Arn. The musty timber door of the crypts craned open, and the peaceful silence broke with flaming echoes. Creeping inside, the Prince spied eighty spindly legs revealed, flitting across the cobbles. It brought a curious glint to his otherwise gloomy eyes, so he leant down and allowed it to crawl onto his hand. Another friend, Noted the Prince, to take on this venture. Arn resided at the lowest level of the crypt, and with him kept for company was usually a broom. By the time Nikolas reached his dear friend, through the swirling, weedy depths of the crypts, he thought, his late night caper to be foolish - hearing the scolding voice of his mother. There he was then, Arn, standing by the grave of King Petyr I. Nikolas was relieved, but that relief was never joy, instead, a warm comfort. [Tyra Keen] [!] A hastful sketch done by the young prince, a depiction of Arn. “You look tired, boy,” Spoke the worker, mopping the floor with a feeble sweep of his broom. Even then, the dust upon those stone floors kept still- unfazed by Arn’s tireless work. Odd, one may think. “Vy have seen better days,” Came Nikolas’ reply. Arn had seen better days. The aged worker never slept, wondered Nikolas, and a large gash was carved into his head, but the Prince never pried - it was his assumption the medicine would be far too expensive for a common man. “Ar. . ha- ha.” The lax figure fell humourous to the joke of Nikolas, and welcomed the Prince closer, leaning against his broom. “But da, sir. It is she who keeps me restless again,” The young boy’s gaze was stained dark from those nights he spent without rest. Approaching Arn, he brushed the back of his hands against his weary eyes, which were now prattled by dust from the crypt. “See. . I told you it was much cozier down here,” Arn recalled from a past talk with the Prince, lowering his form as the Prince came to kneel. A low light of the crypt encroached the pair of them then, yet the warmth of their conversation kept the night at bay, ‘til the very next dawn. The youngest Barbanov opened an eye, and found himself in that low light, with Arn not seen. A panic griefed him, though as he swiveled his eyes, there he was - Arn. HAD HE NOT SLEPT? DOES HE EVER? WHY DOES THE CRYPT ONLY BECOME DIRTIER DESPITE HIS WORK? And there it struck him, as he bid Arn farewell, and traveled the spiraling stairs up to the mossy door, before unfurling it to open. The Haeseni winter sun grazed against the Prince’s olive, freckled skin, and now he understood. His friends had not been able to see Arn... or Klemenita… When they said they could… they had lied… His mother brushed off those wails in the Palace… That apparition in the Swamp… THERE ARE THOSE THAT OTHERS SEE. AND THOSE I SEE.
  10. Ser Grigori smiled the sun's smile, and tucked his blade into a sheathe, headed for retirement, perhaps into a cozy, little Karosgrad cottage.
  11. Grimnir Ireheart came out of retirement from his nice, cavy summer home, to come and give Bakir a meaty pat on the back. "Yer fokin' bananas, ye are." "Ye don' do ifs, buts 'n maybehs, yeh do abslutes."
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