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  1. The Laws of The Grand Duchy of Balian The Grand Duchy of Balian’s Legal Code INTRODUCTION - General Provisions and Definition SECTION I - Criminal Law SECTION II - Court Procedure GENERAL PROVISIONS AND DEFINITIONS Written by the first Magister of The Grand Duchy of Balian, The Grand Duchy of Balian (Balian): The country, the nation of which these laws apply. Constitutes both provinces or colonies. The Grand Duke (or Duchess): The head of state of the Grand Duchy of Balian. The Crown: The sovereign of the Grand Duchy of Balian., which controls the Brotherhood of Balian and the Balian Peerage and rules under the direction and advice of the Ducal Chamber . The Laws of The Grand Duchy of Balian: The lawbook of the Grand Duchy of Balian. Seneschal: The Seneschal is the chief minister of the Grand Duchy and is responsible for the proper maintenance and governance of the realm. He wields penultimate authority and is charged with preserving the coronet by all means possible, including in matters of succession. The Ducal Chamber: The various stately offices of the Grand Duchy of Balian, they are comprised of the Seneschal, the Legate, the Censor, the Magister, the Constable and the Procurator. Their roles are to complete the jobs set out for them in their titles, and to advice the Grand Duke on all matters deemed to be necessary by Their Grace. Balian Peerage: The lettered nobility of the Grand Duchy of Balian. The Magisterium: The Judicial branch of the Balian Government, composed of the Magister, Kritai and Tribonian Quaestors. Excerpt Upon the Rights of Man Humanity, created by God in the image of His Prophets, is bestowed upon through His Divine Power the guaranteed, inalienable rights of Man, held above all law and rule. Through the power of the Imperial Crown, they are enforced and protected immaculate and indefinite, only transgressed by committing a mortal sin. The Rights of Man include; ● THE RIGHT TO LIFE, so no man will ever be taken to the Skies so soon. ● THE RIGHT TO LIBERTY, so no man will ever be bonded by the shackles of slavery. ● THE RIGHT TO TRIAL, so no man will ever be wrongly accused when not charged by a trial of their peers. These rights are the backbone of human liberty and law, preventing the slip of chaos as seen in time immemorial, acting as a shield before the dark arrows of tyranny and selfish ambition. All sons of the First Prophet, no matter of blood, language, or culture, carry upon them these golden laurels of freedom, through right of birth and sapienic kinship. - Emperor Joseph I, 1718 SECTION I - Criminal Law BL.01.01 - On Assault A. When a person decides to violently attack another member of the public, causing no lasting injuries, and does not wield a weapon to inflict such damage. This may be punished with a 50-150 mina fine, depending on issues caused. B. When a person decides to violently attack another member of the public, causing lasting injuries, but not permanent and/or does wield a weapon to inflict damage. This may be punished with a 250-400 mina or the removal of a hand, depending on issues caused. C. When a person decides to violently attack another member of the public, causing permanent injuries,. This may be punished with a 750-1250 mina, 5-10 years of exile or removal of both hands depending on issues caused. BL.01.02 - On Manslaughter A. When a person unintentionally kills another person, be this in anger, by coincidence or otherwise. A lack of intent must be proven indefinitely, as judged by the Kritai. This may be punished with a 600-750 mina fine, decided by the discretion of a Kritai BL.01.03 - On Murder A. When a person intentionally kills another person, without the premediation of it. It would require proof or reasoning that there was no premeditation, which a Kritai would judge. This may be punished with a 1250-1800 mina fine, a 20 year to indefinite exile or removal of a limb. B. When a person intentionally kills another person, with premeditation of it. A Kritai will judge whether they believe it was premeditated or not. This may only be punished with death. BL.01.04 - On Mutilation A. When a person removes a body part short of a limb, organ or eye, or causes other permanent damage, with intention. This will be punished with the equivalent mutilation or a 300-500 mina fine. B. When a person removes a limb, organ or eye, causing permanent damage, with intention. This will be punished with a 1000-1750 mina fee, 10-30 year exile or equivalent mutilation, decided with the Kritai’s discretion. BL.01.05 - On Kidnapping A.When a person without legal reasoning, takes another person and confines them against their will. This will be punished with a 750-1000 mina fine, exile for 5-10 years, decided with the Kritai’s discretion BL.01.06 - On Defamation A. When a person would distribute false information about someone else, without the intent to damage their reputation. This will be punished with a 50-150 mina fine. B. When a person would distribute false information about someone else, with the intent to damage their reputation. This will be punished with a 500-750 mina fine. BL.01.07 - On Impersonation A.When a person assumes the identity of another person, without a reasonable excuse or a prior agreement between the two people. It will be punished with a 100-200 mina fee. B. When a person assumes the identity of a peer, soldier, government or public official, without a reasonable excuse or a prior agreement between the two people. It will be punished with a 400-500 mina fee. BL.01.08 - On Torture A.When a person inflicts injury on another while they have captured them. To do this within legal bounds, one must have the expressed permission of The Magister of The Grand Duchy of Balian. This may also be done when concerning an enemy of the state. This will be punished with a 650-750 mina punishment BL.01.09 - On Malpractice A.When a medical practitioner neglects the care of a person in need of medical care, be this refusal of treatment, failing to adhere to medical procedure or otherwise. This will be punished with temporary or permanent revoking of medical licence and a 300-1000 mina fine, dependant on the severity of the case. BL.01.10 - On Theft A.When a person steals the property of another, of the value of up to 400 mina. This will be punished with the returning of the property and a 200-350 mina fine or, if the return of the property is not possible, a 400-500 mina fine or 2-5 year exile. B. When a person steals the property of another, of the value of over 400 mina. This will be punished with the returning of the property and a 600-750 mina fine or, if the return of the property is not possible, a 800-1100 mina fine or 5-10 year exile. BL.01.11 - On Breaking and entering A.When a person makes their way into another person's property without expressed permission, this includes a search of a property without a search warrant. This will be punished with a 200-350 mina fine and temporary suspension from one's force, should it be necessary. BL.01.12 - On Forgery A.When a person intentionally fakes a legal document that they are aware they are legally not allowed to. This will result in barring from public office for 5-10 years and a 100-200 mina fine. BL.01.13 - On Vandalism A.When a person intentionally damages or defaces property that is not their own and is not a government building.. This will be punished with a 100-200 mina fine. B. When a person intentionally damages or defaces property that is not their own and is a government building.. This will be punished with a 500-600 mina fine and exile for 2-5 years. BL.01.14 - On Arson A.When a person intentionally utilises fire to damage or destroy a property that is not their own and is not a government building. This will be punished with a 400-500 mina fine. B. When a person intentionally utilises fire to damage or destroy a property that is not their own and is a government building.. This will be punished with a 1000-1200 mina fine and exile for 20 years up to indefinite. BL.01.15 - On Trespassing A. When a person refuses to leave a property they have been asked to leave, or goes to one in which they have been barred. This will be punished with a 200-300 mina fine. BL.01.16 - On Debt A.When a person fails to resolve a debt to another person, be it small, moderate or significant. This should be brought to The Magister or a Kritai by the victim, and they will render a verdict depending on the facts of the case. BL.01.17 - On Treason A.When a person intentionally commits acts that are intended to compromise the integrity of the state and its government through insurrectionist movements and attacks. This crime will only ever be punished with execution. BL.01.18 - On Sedition A.When a person intentionally distributes information or media, or speaks in a way that brings contempt against the state and its government, in a means to diminish its influence. This crime will only ever be punished with execution. BL.01.19 - On Contraband A.When a person possesses any illegal substances, materials or literature. This will be punished with the removal of such things and a 100-250 mina fine. B. When a person distributes or sells any illegal substances, materials or literature. This will be punished with the removal of such things and a 400-500 mina fine. C. When a person manufactures any illegal substances, materials or literature. This will be punished with the removal of such things and a 800-1200 mina fine. BL.01.20 - On Obstruction A.When a person obstructs or interferes with the arrest, investigation or prosecution of a criminal. This will be punished with a 200-300 mina fine. BL.01.21 - On Absconding A.When a person refuses to surrender themselves to arresting officers or does not turn up to an appointed court date when told to. Anyone who commits this, will be found guilty of the crime they committed. BL.01.22 - On Bribery A.When a person uses money, land or any form of a material gift to persuade a public official, army member, Kritai, Trobonian Quaestor, government official or anyone considered to have power, to conform to their influence. This will be punished with a 400-500 mina fine and barring from public office for 5 years. B. When a public official, army member, Kritai, Trobonian Quaestor, government official or anyone considered to have power, accepts money, land or any form of a material gift to conform to another person’s influence. This will be punished with immediate dismissal from office, barring from public office for 10 years and 750-1000 mina fine. BL.01.23 - On Extortion A.When a person obtains material goods, money, land, titles or influence, through the use of threat or force. This will be punished with a 400-500 mina fine. BL.01.24 - On Perjury A.When a person deliberately lies or withholds important information from an interrogating Tribonian Quaestor or officer of the Brotherhood of Balian throughout the course of any non-treason related crime. This will be punished with a 100-1000 mina fee, decided based on the crime that the interrogation concerned. B. When a person deliberately lies or withholds important information from an interrogating Tribonian Quaestor throughout the course of a treason related crime. This will be punished with a permanent exile or execution. BL.01.25 - On Embezzlement A.When a government official intentionally uses government money or materials for their own personal gains, outside of their office. This will be punished with dismissal from office, permanent barring for public office and a 1000-3000 mina fine depending on the severity of the crime. BL.01.26 - On Unauthorised Military Organisations A.When an individual is part of a private and unauthorised military organisation. This will be punished with a 400-450 mina fine. B.When an individual leads and/or founded a private and unauthorised military organisation. This will be punished with a 1000-1500 mina fine. BL.01.27 - On Duelling A.A duel may only occur as an honour duel between nobles, where they settle personal disputes in this manner. The Magister or Grand Druke must authorise such before it can take place. If this doesn’t occur it will be treated as any other crime. BL.01.28 - On Blasphemy A.When a person speaks in a sacrilegious manner about God or the teachings of the scriptures. This will be punished with a 400-500 mina fine and/or 1-2 years exile. BL.01.29 - On Heresy A.When a person intentionally teaches others about the teachings of a false deity. This will be punished with a 750-900 mina fine and/or a 5-10 year exile. BL.01.30 - On Devilry A.When a person preaches for, worships or partakes in rituals of devils and demons and other devilish faiths. This will be punished with a 1000-2000 mina fine, 20 years to indefinite exile or death. BL.01.31 - On Witchcraft A. When a person partakes in magery that would be considered evil and/or dark by any sane person. This will be punished with exile for 20 years to indefinite, execution or a 1000-1500 mina fine. BL.01.32 - On Fornication A.When an unmarried person fornicates with someone else. This will be punished with a 400-500 mina fine. BL.01.33 - On Adultery A.When a married person fornicates with someone other than their spouse. This will be punished with a 700-900 mina fine. BL.01.34 - On Consanguinity A.When a person fornicates or fosters a romantic relationship with someone closely related to them, such as parents, siblings, aunts, uncles etc. This will be punished with a 600-750 mina fine and exile for 2-5 years. BL.01.35 - On Miscegenation A.When a person fornicates with someone who is not the same race as themselves, such as a human and elf, or orc and dwarf. This will be punished with a 800-1000 mina fine and exile for 5-10 years. BL.01.36 - On Concealment of Identity A.When a person hides their face to a Brotherhood of Balian soldier or Tribonian Quaestor when they were asked to remove it. This will be punished with a 150-200 mina fine. BL.01.37 - On Vigilantism A.When a person, who is not part of the Brotherhood of Balian nor a Tribonian Quaestor attempts to apprehend a criminal. This will be punished with a 300-400 mina fine. BL.01.38 - On Disturbing the Peace A.When a person causes problems and an uproar that affects the common peace of the state. This will be punished with a 200-300 mina fine. BL.01.39 - On Harmed Sovereignty A.When a person commits any level of assault on the Grand Duke or any of their Ducal family. This will be considered treason and punished with only execution. BL.01.40 - On Conspiracy A.When a person works with someone else and plans to commit a crime. This will be punished the same way the crime that was conspired. BL.01.41 - On Incitement A.When a person encourages another or incites them into committing a crime. This will be punished the same way the crime that was incited. BL.01.42 - On Attempt A.When a person attempts, but fails to commit a crime. This will be punished the same way as the crime that was attempted. BL.01.43 - On The Draconic A.When a person is considered to be Azdrazi or in any other way draconic. This will be punished with immediate death, a trial is not required when it is obvious that a person is draconic. BL.01.44 - On Minors A.When a person is under the age of 12, they will not be prosecuted for any crime at all. B. A person under the age of 16 will not be able to consume alcohol, and those that procure them alcohol will receive a 100 mina fine. BL.01.45 - On Discrimination A.When a person uses another’s race as justification for violence, theft or anything else that may be seen as an attack on them. This will be punished with a 100-150 mina fine. B.When a person uses another’s religion as justification for violence, theft or anything else that may be seen as an attack on them. This will be punished with a 100-150 mina fine. C.When a person uses another’s gender as justification for violence, theft or anything else that may be seen as an attack on them. This will be punished with a 100-150 mina fine. D.When a person uses another’s sexuality as justification for violence, theft or anything else that may be seen as an attack on them. This will be punished with a 100-150 mina fine. BL.01.46 - On Religious Rights A.Any person in Balian may practice their own religion, however as stated in BL.01.28, they may not preach it to others. BL.01.47 - On Bee Protection A.When a person kills a bee with intent. This will be punished with a 50 mina fine. BL.01.48 - On Civil Offences A.When a person causes physical damage to another. The punishment for this will be decided in court, but may not exceed the cost of the damage caused. B. When a person causes financial damage to another. The punishment for this will be decided in court, but may not exceed the cost of the damage caused. C. When a person causes social damage to another’s reputation. The punishment for this will be decided in court, but may not exceed the cost of the damage caused. SECTION II - Court Procedure BL.02.01 - On Summoning the Court I.The Tribonian Quaestor on the case, or claimant of a civil case, will send a letter to the Magister or make them aware of the case and their intent to pursue it legally. II. The Magister will review the letter and either approve or deny the case. III. If approved, the Magister will nominate a Kritai to oversee the trial and letters will be sent to all involved with the case at hand in order to summon them to court. BL.02.02 - On Trial upon Arrest I.Should it be deemed necessary, a recently arrested criminal may be immediately taken to court for a trial. II. This should be approved by The Magister or The Supreme Kritai before occurring, but if necessary, can be skipped over. III. Any available Kritai will oversee this case and any Tribonian Quaestor will prosecute, after being given the information. BL.02.02 - On Legal Procedure I.At the start of a trial, all shall rise for the Kritai before they take a seat, officially beginning court. II. The prosecution will make an opening statement summing up their side of the case within a paragraph, followed by the defendant also making an opening statement summing up their side of the case within a paragraph. III. The prosecution will then make 1-3 points, using evidence as a point of proof for their case. They should keep their points concise and to the point less they be cut off by the Kritai, should they believe it necessary. IV. The defence will then make their own 1-3 points, using their own evidence, or rebuttal any points made by the prosecution. They also should keep their points concise, less they be cut off by the Kritai. V. Both sides will then make their closing statements, which should again be paragraph sized, the prosecution first and then the defence. VI. The Judge will finally render a verdict after hearing both closing statements, and then the punishment will be carried out by the Brotherhood of Balian. VII. Objections are not to be allowed under any circumstances, as the Kritai will take into account anything they believe to be untoward. VIII. All trials should be documented for future reference by a scribe. BL.02.03 - On Fines I.A fine may be given out by a NCO of the Brotherhood of Balian or above, or a Kritai on the spot, as long as the crime committed warrants a fine of under 500 mina. II. All fines must be given to The Magister, who will subsequently hand the money over to The Procurator. III. If unable to pay the fine, a person will receive either an exile or physical punishment, as decided by a Kritai. BL.02.04 - On Physical punishment. I.A crime may be punished with a physical punishment e.g. removal of a hand. If this is decided upon, then said punishment will be carried out in a humane manner. II. The body part will be removed with a swift swing of a blade, it will then immediately be cauterised by fire, or any other medical procedure should a doctor be present to administer it. BL.02.05 - On Exiles. I.If a person is punished with exile, they will be given a Saint’s day to remove their belongings from the city before they are placed in exile. II. Following this a sketch should be made of the person. This sketch and their name will be posted in the gatehouse, for any guard to see should the person try to return. III. Should they return before their exile is over, they may be subject to further punishment, should it be a longer exile, fine or physical punishment. IV. Exile may be appealed, if this is the case, the person punished should send a letter to The Magister, who will then review the case and determine the course of action from there. V. A letter shall be sent to the exilee once their period of exile is over, notifying them that they are free to return should they please. BL.02.06 - On Death Sentences. I.Should a person be sentenced to death, their death will be dealt with in a humane manner. II. The punished may call for their last rites, as afforded to them by the canonist church, should they be a canonist. III. When it comes time for the criminal to be killed, their head should be placed on a block, for them to be beheaded. IV. Customarily, it is the Kritai who should swing the sword killing the criminal, however this can be wavered should a Kritai not be present. BL.02.07 - On Prisoners of War. I.Should an enemy be captured in war, their fate may be decided by The Magister, a Kritai or any officer of the Brotherhood of Balian, with a trial being overlooked due to the circumstances. II. Should there be a disagreement about how to handle this situation, the view of The Magister or Kritai will supersede the military officials. BL.02.08 - On Military Criminals. I.If a member of The Brotherhood of Balian commits an offence that is not a higher assault, mutilation, murder or treason, they will be afforded a court martial, which the captain will oversee. II. If a member of The Brotherhood of Balian commits an offence that is not a higher assault, mutilation, murder or treason, they will receive a Magisterium investigation and a subsequent trial. III. If a member of The Brotherhood of Balian is found to have abused their powers to fine lower crimes or pass judgement in war time situations, they will receive a Magisterium investigation and a subsequent trial, potentially resulting in dishonourable discharge or another punishment. BL.02.09 - On Peer Criminals. I.If a Peer commits an offence, once they have been investigated by the Magisterium, they will be trialled by The Magister or Grand Duke only. BL.02.10- On Trials of Treason. I.A trial concerning the act of treason will only ever be trialled by The Magister or Grand Duke. BL.02.11- On Defence. I.A defendant may call for their own lawyer to defend them in court should they want to. II. If the lawyer doesn’t arrive within 30 Saint’s minutes, the court will not allow for the defence to have a lawyer and the defendant must defend themselves. BL.02.11- On Repeated offenders. I.A criminal who has before been found guilty of a crime, will have their punishment increased. E.g a 400 mina fine would become a 600 mina fine. II. Should a criminal who commits low level crimes (Those who which receive punishments under 500 mina) repeat their offences, they will not be fined on the spot and subsequently be sent to trial. Signed, Lord Ledicort of House Vuiller, First Magister of Balian
  2. THE TRIALS OF LOVE 11th of Gronna ag Droba 421 E.S. 'They were discovered entangled in sheets, cheeks reddened with a guilty sheen.’ Adele Ludovar reads a copy of the most recent Edition of Hearsay. As she does so, she sinks down onto the palace steps, unable to tear her eyes away from the piece of parchment she clasps in her hands. She already knew everything that was written about Him in the edition, of course, but it still horrified her to read it. Her mind glanced back on the horror of the month before. Adele Ludovar sat with her family. Her new family. The family of her mother that she was still exploring, that side that her father had fought so hard to hide from them. (And not Him with his despair and impulsiveness; sleeping with another woman the month before they were to be married) And she received a note by courier: ‘Adele. We need to Talk. - Matyas’. He burst into tears as soon as he saw her, crying out and holding onto her tightly - maybe savouring that moment of calm and her concerned affection before it all came crashing down. Their combined sobs wracked through the Ludovar apartment that evening, as they fought back and forth then eventually being left as a mournful pile of two broken young people In Love. Adele Ludovar watches the rain pour down while she sits, barely sheltered, under the Palace’s outer foyer. Her freezing hands hold the copy of Hearsay Edition XIII and the rain blots into each page, smearing the ink and ruining it. But the words written are burnt into her mind and she will never forget what has happened to trigger such an edition. 'Even if Lady Adele wishes to make amends, her father surely does not.’ Adele Ludovar hugs her father as sobs are released in the halls of Otistadt. “Ea forgive Him, papej.” She says quickly, through her tears, “V-vy didn’t see Him on the day, he was…” She cuts herself off, not wanting to finish that sentence. 'A mess.’ Johann speaks plainly when he replies, rubbing her back comfortingly as he holds her. “But it does niet free him from his deeds. And it does niet make me trust that he will take care of mea greatest treasure in the whole world. Ea could niet care about anyone’s feelings if it costs pain to mea dearest.” And at that a servant runs up the stairs with a certain dish on a plate. 'An Erkindelir with Uli’ He states, ‘Ea only feed him the dish he cooked.’ Adele Ludovar does not know how she feels. On one hand she is still heartbroken, while on the other her heart aches when she is away from Him. She must be In Love with Him. Adele Ludovar might be a stupid girl In Love, who will surely suffer for her mistakes. 'Was it worth it, Lord Alban?’ Adele Ludovar’s face pales as Johann turns to head back to Karosgrad and Matyas, her beloved, to serve Him the dish that would seal their fate and she frantically clutches at his upper arms in a vague attempt to stop him from leaving. “Papej, nie.” She says, eyes suddenly filling with a kind of terrified desperation. “Vy can’t do this, v-vy can’t!” She cries, her heart beating faster in her chest with every passing moment. Adele Ludovar is petrified of losing Him. (Him and his auburn hair and the dimple right there on his cheek, and his sky blue eyes that she loves so dearly. Him and his great sorrowful weeping in regret of his actions, and Him and his unforgivable betrayal that almost made her heart stop.) Adele Ludovar is not ready to admit what she is about to plead with… But surely it’s the only way as she claws at her father’s arm clutching that heart to rip it from him and protect Matyas. It is all she can do. “Ea love Him-!” She cries, “E-ea do, vy can’t do this…” Johann dislodges her from his arm, glancing over his shoulder with an impregnably stern expression. ‘Yam heading back. Vy should rest, dear.’ 'Do tell me, for I am quite curious.’ Adele Ludovar is cold; for there is no warmth in a world without Him. Adele Ludovar stands beside Him in the cold empty Basilica. Their words echoed through the halls as they spoke, and her heart aches for disobeying her father’s wishes but even more she flinches with every syllable from his poetic lips as her stomach does somersaults… She stands dumbfounded at his declaration. “Ea will marry vy, Adele Emma Ludovar,” He declares as he stares at her; eyes full of determination. “That ea promise vy.” It’s his avowel to her. That he will work until he drops dead or earns her hand. Adele Ludovar sighs wistfully, an aching beginning to form in her stomach as she stares at Him. “Please… When vy duel. Don’t get hurt…” She says quietly, “Ea’ll be worried…” In response he only grimaces. “Ea have to get hurt.” He murmurs, bringing his glance to the floor. “Otherwise ea fear there is nie chance of convincing vyr papej.” That fills her with a sense of dread and fear, and she reaches to grasp his hand. “Ea’ll be worried,” She gently pleads, silently praying to Godan at the altar that he’ll give in. “Or- at least don’t try to get hurt.” He allows her to take his hand, “Ea will survive, ea assure vy.” 'But what use is a playwright when he lives his own tragedy?’ Adele Ludovar stands in the shaded observation area of Karosgrad’s hippodrome with her heart in her throat, thumping loudly, as she watches her sister and Beloved stand opposing one another. Her lip quivers fearfully. She can barely think straight. What if he loses? What does that even prove? What if he gets hurt? What if he dies? How could she ever forgive Amicia for hurting him? And how could she ever forgive her father for orchestrating the whole thing! She should be married by now. She could have been pregnant by now; she would have been so happy… What if this is it for them? Adele Ludovar watches the pair size each other up as Amicia puts on her gloves and her eyes widen. They prepare to fight for her honour. The honour that she doesn’t want back… Adele Ludovar wants Him back.
  3. A Critique of the Petty King Over the last few months I have seen a lot of things, predominantly people declaring themselves for either Fredrick Charles or Emperor Peter IV, amongst this there has not been any true critiques of one side or another, so I am setting out to write this to change this fact as The Baron Darkwood, to further solidify my family’s stance and to diminish the decision of the dissenter of my family. Firstly, let us discuss the way in which Fredrick came into power. Without any true heirship to the throne, being third in the line to the throne, he marched on the city with a rally of Blackvale and Arichsdorf men and forcibly took the throne as soon as the news broke that the Emperor and Empress had passed away. While the rightful Emperor Peter IV was on a trip out of the city, the throne was taken and Fredrick decided to begin to make unsavoury changes. This is not how one takes the throne, our nation follows a hereditary monarchy and by the standards of such, he was not by law allowed to take the throne, as its lawful inheritor was the Emperor Peter IV. Clearly this was the first of many fumbles for The Petty King as he forced his way into an illegitimate, self-ordained reign. Next, let us discuss the matters of the immediate changes that The Pretender had attempted to make with his false claim to the throne. Upon taking ‘power’ he split what was already an Empire that was admittedly struggling into two Kingdoms. The first of which is the Kingdom of Oren, the South of the Empire, and the Second, The Grandmarch of Westfall. The latter of them had a disappearance of many of their people including the leaders of the false Grandmarchy. I would question the logic behind splitting an Empire that is in need of close care as it will only end with two nations with less resources, less people and a higher chance at failure. To follow up on this, I will discuss the matter of neutrality. Neutrality is something that occurs in all wars, internal or external, not everyone wants to involve themselves in a war. Yong Ping, Fenn and some other nations and city states all decided to declare for neutrality in the Tripartite war, which involved many nations of Almaris. I would assume that with the ongoing civil war The Pretender King would allow people to declare neutrality, only I was then informed during the early hours of the war that he said those who wouldn’t side with him would be vanquished. Such a bold and aggressive move was not anticipated at all. It provided me more reason to speed up my missive stating my house's stance on the war. While unconfirmed, the neutrality of Ebonwood likely spurred the attack on Minuvas that has been reported as an attack by the followers of The Pretender. I believe it utterly disgusting that he would even consider making such a move, forcing those who do not seek war to join. Finally, we shall discuss the people The Pretender surrounds himself with using fine examples such as the Raid on Vuillermoz. Upon muscling their way into the Vuiller keep, the followers of The Pretender threatened various children and beat a mother half to death while she defended her children from these monsters of men. A leader who would opt to surround themself with men who would threaten children and beat their mothers, is not an honourable leader, no citizen of Oren, Kingdom or Empire should condone such actions, and those who do are awful, no better than those who enacted the brutal and cowardly assault. It is clear a leader should not allow such things to occur and those with any conscience would work to remove them, as the Emperor’s soldiers do. In conclusion, I believe I have given you a variety of reasons as to why The Pretender Fredrick and his people are not well-natured folk, and those who rally for them are not true or good people by any means at all. My claims can be disputed but, I believe they are far stronger than the claims against mine. Signed, Baron Drako Darkwood
  4. VICTORY For the beloved brothers and sisters in arms who fell at the Skirmish of Stone Tower, and for the victory of the faithful. The waves lap at bloodstained stone, And I listen quietly to muffled cries. The cries of the dying and the damned, The cries for mercy. No mercy shall come, For those that betray their faith find no refuge. They find that the silken whispers of Iblees, Mistaken for GODAN, most high, Turn to knives against them evermore. For where I stand beside the faithful, The broken, the beaten, the UNDEFEATED, I can only hear the sweet song of Godan’s aenguls, Guiding my noble brothers and sisters to heaven. For as darkness falls over bloodsoaked ground, And the eerie silence post-battle wanes, I see the glorious light shining upon tomorrow. And may sacrifice usher in a new age of light, A new age of peace and beauty. And as we travel into this new ‘morrow, May our resolve never falter and our faith never waver. Let the joyous cries of the pious and the good, Ring out through this new tomorrow. And let the fallen rest in blissful sleep, Knowing that they have been avenged, And remain unforgotten among the living. May they rest peacefully, bathed in eternal light, Forevermore knowing that we shall remember. SIGNED, Her Royal Highness, Klara Elizaveta, Duchess of Baranya Klara Elizaveta finished her work with a flourish of her pen before climbing the ladder in her room at the Nikirala Prikaz to gaze out at the sky. “Are vy proud of us, Sigmar?”
  5. * 15-18 Locked away in my symbolic room strapped to the bars of this comfortable prison I’ve known all my life. Confined to do what people expect of me, /confined/ to the role I am placed in on this chessboard. Locked away by the lump in my throat only wishing to speak but the air becomes still as the eyes stare, stare to me for I am different? Or stare to me because I am brave. Eyes that should be a doorway open and welcoming a door that is shut instead. Doors that keep the social “standard” to its quo, why, father, why are these eyes of winter so compelling to the soul? Mother, why is it when they glance with their winter eyes my feet freeze in place? No answer as I have neither to go to when I am sad nor to call for my achievements; it is only me.
  6. A Wanted Man On the 10th of the Sun’s Smile, Year 67 of the Second Age, a heinous crime was committed against elSillumiran. Valazaer Calith, former Div’kinael of the Sillumir, stole massive amounts of resources from the Sillumir vault. It is unknown the exact number of materials he took- but each of the following stores were looted: Coal stores Iron stores Weapon stores Armour stores Aurum stores Not only has he broken article two of the Silver Law, but he has stolen from a government building, and betrayed his fellow comrades by taking part in such a venomous act. This constitutes grand larceny of the highest level. If Valazaer Calith is seen wandering the streets of Haelun’or, he is to be detained immediately. He is meant to be brought to any member of the Silver Council, where court shall be held, and he shall be prosecuted for his crimes. [!] Below is a crude depiction and a drawing of the culprit. Blonde man high elven man with light blue eyes. Very feminine looking. Last seen wearing a blue overcoat and brown pants. This man is a wanted criminal. Approach Carefully. Maehr’sae Hiylun’eyha 5th of the Deep Cold, Year 67 of the SA On behalf of the Silver Council, Okarir’tir Iphys Catullus Valwynn ((OOC: Art done by puffables, duckbreb#4385 on discord))
  7. The Brother of the People Issue II. 10th of Horen’s Calling, 1862 Written by: Paul-Andre Sarat Noble Indoctrination The Falcones have succumbed to the tricks of the inbred rabbits of the Aster Court. Their greed for power has fogged their mind of the curses that are brought with their advancement in Orenian society. They are the sheep hungry to be the dog that leads the herd, and yet they are just becoming another mutton for the Aster Court to sell. Their promises of grandeur and power are all but fallacies. These promises are put forward in the hopes that us commoners will stay in line, listening and following every command. Those like that of the Falcones are just little things that are meant to suggest our hopes and dreams of better living standards could be achieved, but it is all an illusion. Cast by the mages of the Aster Court. Dream not my brothers and sister of a better life closer and intertwined to the Aster Court, but dream of a better life for your brothers and sisters. One in which tyrannical inbreds do not force their will upon us, forcing us to fight their wars, pay their taxes, and bend the knee to them. A life in which each and every one of us is living a life of grandeur where the people lead, rather than those not selected even by merit, but by inbred blood. Call to Fool The Empress has thought herself to be so wise and educated that she has the skill to write a play. I laugh at such a claim. The Empress is nothing but a statue to trick the crowd that stands below her. If she is a writer then I am an Elephant. The only thing this Empress writes is a list of all the expensive things she wishes to buy using the money we give to this government. All of this is just a ruse to try and convince the people that everything isn’t as bad as it looks to be, that they are fine with the inbred rabbits of the Aster Court as their enslavers. But I entrust my brothers and sisters that you are not the blind sheep the Aster Court believes you to be, that you are free thinking, and now the tricks and treachery that these vile so called ‘nobles’ commit everyday. Let us not forget her statement regarding wards. They do not wish to teach the common class, or even involve themselves with us at all. They fear us like a plague that will infect them. But yet, they are in fact the true plague that has infected Oren, now ruling over it. Know this my fellow citizens, you are better than these nobles in every which way. Your morale is stronger, your will is stronger, and your loyalty to fellow Orenians is stronger. They don’t view us as Orenians but as slaves, so neither should we view these greedy treacherous inbreed rabbits of the Aster Court as citizens either. Aster Court Army The ISA are sheep which have been blinded by their noble officers, bound and forced to defend the Aster Court, and only the Aster Court. It is called the Imperial State Army, yet when has it defended the people of this state? Rather it has been forced to only defend the ‘nobles’ of the Aster Court and their property. The ISA itself is not our enemies, but rather they are slaves to the nobles, and we must help free them. No longer should they be bound by the inbred rabbits who use them for their dirty work, no the Imperial State Army is filled with the people of Oren, and as such it needs to defend the people of Oren. Nay have I seen the noble commanders and leaders of the ISA command their forces to defend the people, not all I have seen is order to defend property. This is not what mothers want their children fighting for, this is not what I want my tax money going to, this is not the ISA.
  8. The Brother of the People Issue I. 6th of Horen’s Calling, 1861 Written by: Paul-Andre Sarat Union of Rabbits The rabbits of the Aster court copulate again. How many times have these brothers and sisters interbred, producing more and more offspring who then produce amongst themselves creating the roots of their family trees into a confused and utter mess of a knot. They fear the blood of the common class, not wishing to tarnish their blood with the blood of true Orenians, Orenians which work the fields and fight for this nation, and yet these so called nobles sit in luxury reproducing amongst themselves while we the people fight their wars and pay their taxes. They dress in clothing as if to mock us and ridicule. Flaunting their wealth upon the streets of Providence while rats and trash litter the streets they walk upon. They wear heels in the hopes to try and get away from the stink they believe us to be. They are not our citizens like us, my fellow Orenians. Rather, they are the ones who keep Oren in shackles, they are the ones who cause so much bloodshed and war. How many families have been compensated for the death of their children? How many mothers have had their children not come home? These are the trials, perils, and heartbreaks we must endure everyday. Yet while our sorrows are heard echoing through the streets of Providence the so called ‘noble’ rabbits of the Aster Court live in luxury, attending weddings, and not having to worry about anything other than what they are going to wear tomorrow. These nobles are the spawn of Iblees feasting off our sorrows and wounds. They are necromancers who have us Orenians serve them until we are nothing but ash. They are the inferi who seek nothing but blood, leading us to our deaths on the field of battle. They, my friends, are not our fellow nationalist, but our enemies, they are the enemies of the people. Simonist Lies The Simonists are all but devils in disguise; they hope to portray themselves as the party for the people of Oren, and yet they are run and manipulated by the nobility. They are not a party of the people, but a party of the corrupt. Their only goal is to see the common class of Oren turned into slaves and serfs. This group of liars is led by the inbred Princess Carolina Luisa Ashford de Savoie, a name so long it brings anger to my hand that writes this paper now. A party for the people, yet led by a Princess? Oh how gullible the false nobles of our nation think us to be. Among her entourage of greed is a Sarkozy and a Rosius. Nobles that did nothing in the lands which they oversaw. They are nobles that let the people die and starve. These are not the people my friends that I want leading the government of our nation. No, they do not represent you or I. They do not even know the slightest pretext about our lives and our duties. All they see from us are slaves and numbers. Numbers for the ballot, and slaves for their empire. They claim to have brought back some form of democracy, but nothing my friends and fellow citizens will change. We shall still live under the tyrannical rule of the aristocrats, simply now under a different name. Civil Affairs’ Tricks The Ministry of Civil Affairs seeks out those who hope to help new and lost citizens, and guide them. Oh how I laugh at this. This is all but a ruse for the Ministry of Civil Affairs, for their Immigration Department my friends is not truly that. Oh no, it’s true name is the Slavery Department. They lure you in promising you prosperity, only to encase and entrap you under their ‘noble’ boot. This Immigration Department my friends is not a friend or helpful neighbor of ours, it is rather a kidnapper. Led by Princess Amelia Margaret of Vanderfall it is all but another branch of the larger inbred cesspool that is the Aster Court. It hopes to produce more slaves for their never ending lust for greed and gluttony. Do not trust the Ministry of Civil Affairs my brothers and sisters. Rather, trust in yourself and your neighbors and fellow Orenians, or else you may fall deeper into the trap that aristocrats silently wait for you to step in. A Fat Cat The Order of the Golden Lion is all but a scheme to separate the common man from the aristocrats even more. It’s goal is to make us worship nobles as if they were saints. It’s scheme is one which is quick to find when you pull away the curtain. They grant land and false titles to these so-called knights. And yet where is my land, where is your land. Are we not knights, defenders of the realm? We are the ones who fight on the frontlines and in the mines risking our lives everyday. Are we not worthy of such titles? What has a noble done that makes him fit to be a knight that we have not? We are the ones who built this nation, we are the ones that maintain this nation, and we are the ones that defend this nation. Such a title if you see one wearing one my friends should be laughed at and mocked, for these are no lions, merely cats who grew fat from doing nothing.
  9. A BEAUTIFUL BURDEN A girl leaned against a wall on one of the balconies of the Nikirala Prikaz, the different floral scents of the Rose Wing surrounding her as she gazed out at the early morning sky. She was not yet a woman, no matter what the law said, and Klara Elizaveta only stroked the fur of the now ten year old dog she’d been gifted so long ago. Sigmar @AmazingAzura, her beloved cousin, slaughtered by the Orenians. “Sigmar is dead?” She remembers asking Ser August @Ziggiteethat question. Her heart had dropped as she watched the Lord Marshal push the captured Orenian knight to his knees in front of the chopping block. Her hand had found Margot’s @Mady, who’d stood by her side as they watched the execution. She remembers the numbness, the terrible apathy that tore into her soul. As Dame Tavisha @Althea_ swung her great axe, the young princess felt herself steel over. A thought passed over her, as her heart hardened. “Let the mercy of a quick death be the only mercy Ea give to those who would tear us limb from limb.” There was a time she craved peace, a time where she wished for it more than anything. She’d fought in battles alongside her father and mother before she’d even come of age, but she still felt very much a girl. The eldest princess couldn’t bring herself to shed tears. She’d wept for so many already. An uncle, aunts, her grandmother. She could no longer weep for the dead, could no longer bring herself to show her grief. Tea and prayer only aided in sleeplessness for so long. There was a time Klara craved peace. No longer. Night fell, and only then did she realize she’d been sitting there for hours. Looking down, she went to rouse the dog that slept beside her, before slim hands met cold body. Brown eyes had clouded over so only a deep grey could remain, and she felt herself stiffen. It was no longer the dog in her lap, no, it was him, with his singular grey eye. As she brought her hands up to brush back his hair, she idly noticed that she was shaking. Breath whooshed from her lungs, and Klara turned away even as servants lifted the body of the well loved pet from her lap. She did not see an animal hanging there in the maids’ arms, only her cousin, the cousin who’d looked after her since she was but an infant. As the dog was carried away, she turned her eyes back onto the city with stiff movements. “Burn the body, and scatter the ashes in Richtenburg.” As she spoke and the maids left, she finally allowed air to fill her lungs. The moon was high in the sky once more, full and bright, when she finally moved from the Rose Wing and into the gardens. Many flowers bloomed there, but she only had eyes for one. Daisies, like the ones he’d gifted to her with the dog so long ago. The same bouquet of daisies that sat dried and pressed in a book in her room. It was as if someone had wrapped her in wool, she could not hear or see or feel, but the daisies, those sweet flowers, they filled her with such anger. “We’ve all seen ye grow up into the youn’ woman ye are today, an’ Ah think ye truly have granted us tha’ clarity yer name destined ye fer. Clarity o’ a safe future, in the hands o’ a steadfast an’ ambitious new generation.” That’s what her uncle had said. Clarity. She had barely thought as she moved into the square, barely felt anything but the anger in her heart. If she was to be clarity, if she were to help guide her dear Hanseti-Ruska under first her father, and then her brother after him, she would steel herself. Safety, what a novelty in this new age of war and executions. She was supposed to be clarity, but how could she embody it when her own mind was so clouded? It always came back to harsh realities and harsh words that tore into her heart. She wished desperately for kindness, for safety and security. Klara supposed that makes her a woman, the resolve to give her people that which she was denied, for surely she could not be called a girl any longer. What a burden it was, to give all of yourself to your nation, a burden that both humbled and exalted you. An overwhelming sadness washed over her, for if this is how she felt, she mourned the burden that had been placed on her dearest father. “But what a beautiful burden vy are, dearest Hanseti-Ruska.”
  10. A Second Chance ...They're going to lose. Nathaniel watched from the palace roof. Brawly was rushing across the square, Eliza was who knows where, and Delra was savagely fighting Xerxes. Or, you could help them. You've already helped Brawly. You can do it, you know. Nathaniel glanced across the roof, seeing THE BOY, offering him a friendly smile. We can win. We just need to kill Xerxes. You think I can fight Xerxes? Only person here who stood a chance was maybe Artos or Brawly. But Brawly's lost his weapons, one of the larger armour stands has taken them. And Artos has probably already run. Delra can fight Xerxes, but he's got a ready hostage over there if he needs it. He pointed at Taevas. Besides.. she won't actually beat Xerxes. You could. You could fight him. You could BEAT him. You have to do it. Please. Nathaniel looked at THE BOY, and smiled a little sadly. Boy.. you're better then I imagined you would be. Thanks. Now go. Beat him.. before he beats us. Nathaniel sighed, before vanishing. @Tk4522 Brawly ran out into the square. He could see Delra and Xerxes duking it out, and ran to join in. But an armour stand noticed, blocking his path. Upon closer inspection, he could see that the armour stand was made of HIS armour, holding HIS weapons. Brawly wondered if the dagger would work on the armour stand. Probably not. But he'd never have to make that choice, as Nathaniel appeared from seemingly no where, shoving his arm inside it's back. It collapsed, freed from Xerxes's curse. Put it on. And get your weapons. You will need them. By this point, Brawly knew not to try to talk to him. He placed his armour on, picking up his weapons. Nathaniel pointed at Xerxes. You cannot beat him in a straight fight. I may be able to. As such, I will fight him. While he is distracted, you will plunge the blade into his form. It will incapacitate him, and allow me to absorb him, as he is me. A shadow passed over Nathaniel's face, but he said nothing more. He pointed towards a nearby house. Hide there until you see an opening. Yeh don't sound like yeh care. Everything that I care about either goes insane, or dies. Or, in this case, burns to ashes. He gestured around. And now you're fighting a desperate, losing battle to protect what remains. How can I care? With that, he floated towards Xerxes, a saddened look of acceptance washing over him. The red in him glows slightly, and the blue turns to a darker shade, leaving Brawly to get in position.. or do something else. @Pinks Xerxes's eyes widened, as Delra rushed towards him. He grabbed her arm, throwing her behind him, but her foot caught on Xerxes's neck, yanking him forward. They both went tumbling down the steps, as Taevas tried to drag himself away. I'm a cripple! How am I supposed to walk?! Drag yourself or something, I don't know! Just go! Delra and Xerxes went hand to hand, Xerxes choosing to take a corporeal form just for the fun of it. Despite Delra's recent boost, Xerxes was still coming out on top, still beating the crap out of Delra.. until Nathaniel grabbed Xerxes's arm from behind, yanking him backwards. He then slammed his fist onto Xerxes's head, kicking him savagely in the shins. With Nathaniel's appearance, the shouts increased to a scream, becoming almost impossible to ignore. They all told her the same thing. K̴̡̺̦̟͔͓̦̬̻̮͔̖̬̲̓̉͊̍̎͂͘͘̕͠͝i̷̧̳̟̱̥̤̹̬͆̓̔̀͒̌̉̆͒͑̃̕͘ļ̶̙̰̫̝̬̫̠̟̺̮̜̲̑̑̔̿̚͜ļ̶̨̯͚̦̤̭̩̞̰̹̿̅̓́̎͘͝ͅ ̷̡̣̤̥̞͌͊͑̓̑̾N̷̘̖̲̠̯̟͎̼̎̑̾͌̑̂̇͆͌͝ą̴̨̢̡̙̳̟͔̰̖̜͉̗͈̻̓̆̐͂̇͐̌̊̀ṭ̵̢̻̲̞̦͕̖̫̣̈́̀̾̅̾̾̌͗͘͠ͅh̸̢̧̨̰̪̫̩͉̙͔̮̗̹̒͒̌̍̑̅͆̍̆̄͋͜a̴͔̰̗͎̓́̄n̴̢̬̭̞̱͛̍̆̄̊̑̀̑̀̏͋̕̕͠i̵̧̡̛̳̫͕̭͂̒͑͌͋̂̕͘͝ê̴̙̗͙͙̳̓̅̈́̂̚̕l̶̻͖̼̻̹͍͓̅͂͊̕̕ She attempted to push them out of her head, but she found she couldn't. Nathaniel glanced at her, worried, before Xerxes kicked Nathaniel forward, sending him sprawling onto the ground. He coughed, attempting to rise, but Xerxes was onto him, wickedly punching Nathaniel into unconsciousness. He then turned to Delra, who was unsteadily rising, head pounding. The voices were so loud that her vision was fading slightly with each shout. He pointed at Nathaniel, clearly insinuating to kill him. He then strolled off to the struggling Taevas, who held out his slayersteel dagger at Xerxes, frightened.. @gurlpirate Eliza ran, picking up the spear. She turned back to Arthur, and saw him engaging the armour stand, not trying to execute her. She ran at the armour piece, before she was tackled by THE BOY, who tackled her to the side, throwing her into a nearby burnt out house. She recognised the place as Dante's. Who.. what? Who are you? You're a boy, you need to hide! THE BOY stared at her; eyepatch covering his eye, arm scarred with some sort of dragon mark. He smiled a little, before pointing at a trapdoor in the corner of Dante's home. Eliza turned, inspecting the trapdoor. There seemed to be nothing unusual about it. She turned back to THE BOY, but he was gone. She slowly opened the rusty trapdoor, climbing her way down. Dimly lit torches displayed a dusty passageway for her. She crept down, an uneasy atmosphere settling over her. She reached the end, opening the old, oak door. Behind, there was an incredibly detailed map of Almaris. A dragon was sketched onto a mountain nearby Haense.. in fact, she'd recognise the location as Zachary's. He was dead now. There were arrows pointed at a hill near Savoy, a smiley face in the (what seemed like) wilderness near Haense, another dragon painted on the volcanoes area that she'd trekked over.. only this dragon was crying. And finally, a dagger was stabbed into the sea to the east of Elvenesse, a question mark accompyaning it. Below was a book. She opened it, and it proved to be a notebook for the above map. And so the book ended, leaving Eliza with more questions then she started with.
  11. A Party We must hold.. the most magnificent party ever. The Boy hurried after the figure. Look, we will, but you're d- Food, drink, wine for all. And a fireplace; I've been feeling very cold lately. I may have caught a chill.. You could say that. Look, I'll hold you a party, but I have to tell you something first. Mhm? You're dead. Tirilith raised an eyebrow. Is that a threat? It's not a good idea to threaten me, you know. My father will see to your demise. Your father is dead. His head sits on a spike in Pinemaw. Listen, you.. you complicate things. You need to die, sorry. The Boy unsheathed an aurum blade, before hearing a light tut-tut from behind. Now, now! How dare you raise a blade against my brother! I'll be telling father! Behind him stood Patricia. The Boy groaned. You too? You're both dead, why do you Caldings always come back? Patricia giggled light-heartedly. We're not dead, silly boy. Just because we both happen to have caught a chill doesn't mean we're dead! But Tirilith was looking at Patricia with a horrified expression on his face. He has the right of it.. you are dead. You're see through and everything! And Patricia was looking at Tirilith with a tragic expression on her face. So are you! The Boy covered his ears as both emitted ear splitting screams, letting their grief known to everyone in Rozania.. just those three, plus a few others. They looked down to The Boy with fury in their eyes. This is your fault. You caused this somehow. Tirilith nodded. Ectoplasm started to move through their bodies, and they moved towards The Boy. The Boy backed away, raising his aurum dagger, panicked. It was clear to Patricia and Tirilith that he had no experience with weapons. The pair lunged. The Boy swiped, but they easily sidestepped the blade, and plunged their arms into The Boy's chest.. The note lay on the table. The house lay abandoned in the snow, not a soul in sight.. Till five figures approached it. They were cloaked in furs, gigantic Ferrum Warhammers strapped to their backs. They entered the house; taking the note, and using their hammers to reduce the shack to little more then scrap. Brawly ran after the trail, Eliza following. They soon found that the trail ended, entering into a cave. The pair warily approached the dimly lit cave. There they found.. entrails. It was clear that they were from a variety of different people, but the walls were smeared with blood, chunks of flesh littering the path around them. At the end of the cave, they found Zach. He lay on the ground, panting, his arm bitten into. But the girl lay, slumped against the wall, her face brutally beaten, blood leaking from her many injuries. Her arms were slashed to ribbons, and Zach's knife lay plunged into her eye. Zach staggered to his feet, wincing. . . .Ow. But things got only stranger from there, as a bird flew into the cave, carrying three letters, each identical in nature. The handwriting was different to the one originally sent to Zach's. @ohbother1 Nadia Buckfort soon got her answer, in the form of the same letter, as did Peralien and Dante. Dante's lips curled into a smile. My brother's holding a birthday party! He looked to Nadia, already moving towards the road to Rozania. You coming?
  12. satinkira

    Unexpected

    Unexpected So, Zach. What's your play? Nadia's refused your offer.. she'll regret that. You're obviously not going to accept my demands. You're far more.. empathetic. Far too normal. You could never stand against me. For you still think that I'm trying to kill them. No, you fail to understand my true intentions. And I'll cast you to the side in order to reach them. You're nothing. There's a pounding on the door. . . .What? The boy turns around. He stands, walking to the door. He opens it. And there's a scream, as his face goes white in terror. Brawly arrives. Zach greets him himself. Brawly, I'm so glad you could make it. Please, take a seat. There Brawly finds Eliza, sitting. She looks like she just arrived. Zach passes forward the note to the pair. Look. I'm sorry for what my father did. I can't change his actions, and I hope that you accept my apology. He bows his head. Please. But before either can answer, they hear a scream from outside. Zach raises his head, peering out the window. . . .What the hell? Brawly and Eliza stand, looking out the window. They can see a girl in rags, staring at the sky, screaming her lungs out. Zach's eyes widen. He runs to the door, but he doesn't open it - he locks it. He bolts down all the windows. All the exits and entrances. Don't let her in. Whatever you do. @ohbother1 Nadia glances out the window. Something feels.. off. Not quite right. She feels uneasy about something.. She receives a letter. It's short, to the point. Go to the wreckage of Rozania, or I will murder your family. And I'll make you watch. What to do?
  13. Guilt and Revenge Rozania. It still stands, some say. Amidst the wreckage, the burnt houses, the mounds of charred corpses, the desecrated throne room.. the spirit continues. As does its people. Eliza, Peralien, Brawly, Delra, Nadia, William.. and so many more. Xerxes did not complete his mission, it is true. He defected half way; instead of securing the throne for Zach I, he burnt the city down, attempting to fill his own desire for revenge. And as a result, the Calding family line was almost obliterated. There are almost none of you left now. Zach II, and Zach III are all that remain. And Zach III has joined the Athri'onn family.. making you the last one, Zach. So I have a proposition for you. Kill Eliza, and I will give the Calding's the power that they.. or you deserve. Do write back. I'll be waiting. Zach gently puts the letter on the table. It raises... questions. Who was that? He doesn't know. What's their stake in this game? He doesn't know. What should he respond with? He doesn't know. All he knows is that Eliza, Peralien, Brawly, Delra, Nadia, and William are all in danger. Perhaps this is the chance of redemption that he's been waiting for. So he pens a letter to all of them. Every one. They must all know. And they must all meet, for someone wants them dead. But who? Zach sends off the last letter, sighing slightly. He watches Nadia's bird fly away, before turning back to the letter. He turns it over. There's another few lines of writing. If you tell Eliza, or any of the others of this, I will very much enjoy your screams of agony as I finish what Rozania nearly did. Ending your line. This irks Zach, so he writes a response. Perhaps you don't know what it means to cross the Calding's. Maybe you should ask the mounds of corpses in Rozania, or the 19 dead Savoyans who dared cross Dante's path. The answer is; it didn't end well. I refuse your demand, and I offer you an alternative. Give me your name, and your vendetta against Rozania, or I will end your family line, in quite spectacular style. -Zacharias Calding II In a burnt house, roof blackened, a boy receives the letter. So, he tries to scare me off.. interesting. I do not doubt his anger, I doubt his ability to do such a thing. He lacks the.. will that his father had. And I will show him this, and I will turn his ways, till he is more like his father than some common peasant. He will kill Eliza.
  14. ✧◉❂◉✧ The pink haired elfess had long since been feeling as though her own form was as foreign as the changing seas, that her mind was as barren and turbulent as a storm’s waves, but it wasn’t until that small gathering had formed within Pinemaw with unknown entities bearing flaming weapons did she realize how empty she felt. There was no reaction to the possible threat, no care nor investment into defending her home and her neighbors. It was only then that she became aware as to how cold she felt living among strangers and reduced to the mind numbing theatrics of the canonists. Near instantly, she realized that change wouldn’t come to her. She would need to go to it. It wasn't easy. Rarely had anything in her life ever been. She’d been born Deaf in a hearing world. No one understood. it was almost as though she’d been set up for eternal loneliness. She told none that she was leaving for there were none that she needed to tell. The only two that may truly have missed her likely wouldn’t realize she’d left until the time would come for her to return. Still, she left a note for one and resigned to thinking up some grand apology for the other. The Artisan Emporium was swiftly shut down, the gates slammed closed and the forge left unlit, gathering dust until her probable return. The house was left under the care of her two living dolls, for she knew they would keep the place up and running just fine during her absence. Then, knowing hearth and home would be cared for, did she set out. Left behind was the human-like title of ‘Lady Axilya’, abandoned was the job upon the council. Shoulders set, she moved forth, without any supplies other than two days worth of rations and the simple clothes on her back. No tools, no weapons, no companions. The elfess truly made to start from the very beginning to rekindle that lost connection, however weak, that she’d once had with her own sense of self. ✧◉❂◉✧ The freckle faced elfess, unable to truly return to where she’d been formed as a person, settled down in the forests of Elvenesse. A single cavern within a small glade, bloodied and riddled with long forgotten bones, became her new home. Once, long ago, she had found a grizzly to have taken home here, but by now, their children’s children would have long since passed. None would come looking for her here, not even Bolomormaa’s kids. A flitted thought of 'fitting' crossed her mind. On the first day, a thunderstorm left her sitting within that stench-filled cave, the scent of iron revitalized by the wash of rain. She drank from her only flask, emptying it, before leaving it to hang outside to gather the sky’s tears. She nibbled lightly on the dried meat she’d brought with her, barely touching it and instead leaving the rest for emergencies. The rest of the day was spent cleansing the walls of stone, for as much as her strength shouldn’t be wasted on such a first task, leaving her surroundings tainted would only bring back memories unwanted. And then the dark came. She didn’t like the dark. On the second day, her stomach groaned and rumbled, heard only by the surrounding woodlands. An hour was spent making a rough and wooden spear, forged only by the sharpest rock she could find upon the ground, before she turned towards the West. Following only her vague memory of the area towards the edges of the forest she found where the sea met the sands. The crude spear gave her struggles, offset only by the skills gathered from every-day fishing, allowing her a night’s worth of food. She returned to her cave then, a white-meated fish in hand, and spent the rest of the evening gathering wood and kindling, for as much as she hated the fire that had once melted her sights from her, the complete blackness that followed was worse. Piled up at the back of the cave she stored it all, dipping into her stock only when the dark started to take over. With a flick of her fingers, a click sounding in the air, and a Cerulean hue misting across her palm, a flame started, catching upon the sticks and logs gathered. Cheater. But the magic was a part of her and she’d come out here in an attempt to find herself. A meal was cooked and eaten, the rest of the night spent in total silence, flames entertaining her by casting dancing shadows upon the walls. The dark was chased away. By the fourth day, she had crafted a few baskets born of stiff fiber and wood, shoddy in work but sturdy enough to be used. She stored some berries in one, alabaster leaf and serpent’s stalk in another, and some fish she’d dried out the day prior in the last. She spent the night with a full stomach, the water flask left untouched due to the ripeness of the small, juicy orbs. On the fifth day, the berries came back with a vengeance and she spent the day plagued by hallucinations worse than those normally given to her by the spirits. She wished she hadn’t left Pinemaw. On the seventh day, the hallucinations finally left, returning to the normal tidbits that floated in and out of her vision. She was used to those. She could ignore those. What she couldn’t ignore was the dizziness that came from dehydration. The flask was emptied, the berries thrown out. She spent the rest of the night whittling a stone knife, clam shaped, with the rock she’d used to make the spear. By the end of the eighth day, the elfess had carved out a bowl from wood, her hands blistered in areas they once wouldn’t have been. On the ninth day, dizzy once more from dehydration, she set out to find a stream of fresh water, bowl in hand. When she returned, successful and ready to boil the water, her untended baskets had been raided and destroyed, muddied paw prints decorating the cave she called hers. Despite growing hungry that night, and an incident involving heated, exploding rocks, she wished none for water, the leftover liquid filling up her flask. On the fourteenth day, her arsenal of tools had expanded from a single clam shaped knife and wooden spear to an archaic set of bows and arrows, another three baskets now hung from mid level branches at the edge of the glade, and a few further bowls filled with cleansed water. On the fifteenth day, she let her hands heal and her feet rest. On the seventeenth day, she came face to face with a child of Morea. They parted ways without incident. On the eighteenth day, she found a small doe, hind leg torn half off and shredded into strips, hiding within a bramble of bushes. Despite the way it panicked at the first sight of her, exhaustion overtook it and the elfess found little resistance in her attempt at assisting the beast. She carried the doe back towards her cave, setting it down near the dwindling fire to keep it warm, and attempted to nurse it with her own supply of water. The doe responded well enough for a time and didn’t put up much of a fuss when the descendant made to take a look at its wounds, laying still when the elfess cleansed them and wrapped them with strips of her own clothing. She named the doe Riddlewart. On the nineteenth day, she tried to find some food for Riddlewart, avoiding the prior berries like the plague. In the end, the elfess tried to simply feed the doe some grass and twigs and leaves. The animal seemed to like it well enough. She spent the rest of the time stoking the fire and telling tales to the creature, reminiscing on memories long passed and people long since disappeared. She told the other how she’d learnt the meaning of family from her Maln, how she’d learnt the meaning of love from her partner, how she’d experienced heartache and motherhood and how everyone she ever knew had left or would leave. She spoke of those times she’d been kidnapped, her fears born of the torture given both by strangers and people she’d once thought loved her. She spoke of the dark and of the light and asked questions that she herself answered when the doe remained silent. She felt at peace for the first time in a long time. On the twentieth day, the elfess coaxed Riddlewart out into the sunlight, and there the doe blinked up and towards the sky, alert and calm despite its wounds. She brought the beast down towards the waters, carrying it with gentle hands, and set it within the smoothest part of the river where they both submerged. Soothingly, the elfess assisted the doe with attempting to move the injured leg, slow and eased to simply keep the limb working. The Mali kept the creature afloat, setting its head on her shoulder for extra support, and there they stayed for the better part of the day, relaxing and allowing the water to ebb away aches and pains. When they returned to the cave that night, they had both been exhausted. The elfess fell asleep soon after drying the doe off and ensuring it had taken up residence in the comfiest part of the cavern. On the twenty-first morning, she awoke to find Riddlewart still and unresponsive. The elfess weeped. Hours later, when her tears had dried and the first of flies began to find the carcass, she brought the doe’s form into the forest and buried it beneath a large pine tree as if guided by Cerridwen’s hands herself, where its body would feed the dirt and the dirt would feed the grass and the grass would feed more deer and the deer would feed the wolves. This was what her Maln had tried to teach her of. This was what the balance brought. Life and death and more life. The elfess had been privy to the process and, despite her interference, it had gone on as it had meant to. The natural form of life. This was what was meant to be preserved and respected. On the forty-fifth day, the rains started to drain from the sky. . . ✧◉❂◉✧ It took three days for the rains to finally stop, and by then, her cave within the small glade was half drowned, flooded with ankle deep water. When she stepped outside, without the risk of being pelted by bullet-like drops, privy was she to the sight of her painstakingly weaved baskets shredded to bits, torn down from their heights upon the trees. It seemed animals weren’t her only concern within these woods. Sloshing back into her cave, the elfess retrieved what little had survived before setting out to start from near the beginning once more. Tucked within her half ruined belt sat her homemade knife and beside it her five arrows bearing stone heads. Strung over her shoulder rested her weak attempt at a bow and in her hands she carried that bowl for water. As she stepped outwards that cave, she gathered up the only pieces of smoked and soggied strips of fish meat she could find floating about the area. Set over a fire near a week ago, they’d last her in an emergency, though if all went to plan, she would be able to feed them to the soil or some small predator after finding a more suitable substance for sustenance. Onwards she went, searching firstly for the river she’d so often gathered from, and from there, the elfess would be able to follow the water upstream to higher ground and wait for the floods to subside. A far fetched idea, but she had no other plan. She needed new food and water, and she would not find that in her ruined cave. It didn’t take long before her feet were near black from muck, as if she’d been wearing ankle high socks, and the closer she trekked towards running water, the harder it got to walk. Against instinct and all better judgment, the elfess continued forth, struggling her way through glop, brambles, and felled branches, until motion came forth into her vision. With a heaving breath, swiping at her sweaty brow with the back of her hand, she paused, taking note of how high the river had risen. No more were the carved out edges of a well worn waterway. Instead, cascading through the woodlands, was a rush of browned liquid, carrying fallen trees and great amounts of debris as it surged past. The Mali’s ear flicked lightly, a habit she’d attained over the past decades, as she peered on with a pinched expression. Lips thinned, she pressed forth, turned upwards to continue her path across the woodlands. The smell of the ground beneath was activated with each ascended step, hiding the sharp rock and broken boughs that stabbed at the soles of her feet. She didn’t seem to care much, for if there was no blood, then there was no need to. Onwards she went, each footfall as laborious as the last, the sucking sound of entrapping mud glopping around the air left in the wake of every footprint canceled out by the rush of waters it emitted next to. Her gaze shifted up, just a brief moment of respite within that arduous climb to peer upon a much calmer scene. There above was the sight of cleared skies, so somberly missed the past handful of days, speckled with the strongest of greenery that hadn’t faltered during the raging storm. Down was cast arbitrary shadows of which the sunlight peeked through, the forest ground illuminated with- -laid upon the ground, hacking up that dirtied river water. With a wheezed gasp, the elfess remained flopped into the mud at the edge of the waterway, eyes unfocused and brow creased in confusion. A sharp sting drew her attention and her throbbing head lofted, as did her hand, to grasp at the side of her ribs before a sharp wince drew forth from her features. Seeping through the muck that now covered her entire figure was a rivlet of crimson, the rest feeling bruised and battered. Shit. She must have lost her footing and fallen in, or perhaps the ground had given out. The elfess squeezed her eyes shut and let out a hiss through her teeth before she shifted into a seated position, careful, slow, and cautious as the pain in her side increased. Her free hand lofted, making to cradle her brow as her vision swam, and when her eyes opened once more, the slightest of movement caught her attention. A flash of fur darted out of sight from across the river. A rabbit, perhaps, for it had certainly been small enough. But then it was gone, just as quick as it had arrived. Her sights drifted thereafter, the image produced slightly blurred, and took note of the unfamiliar territory and her current situation. Downstream. She was downstream, without her tools, and bore an undetermined severity of wounds. The elfess shifted to her feet and the movements forced her pained expression to crumple further upon her countenance. Heavily, she leant up against the nearest tree, the touch of it’s rough bark doing nothing to soothe her surface level aches. She bent over, seeking to catch her breath as she pressed her palm into her side, and it took her a long moment before her chest rose and fell with some sort of rhythm. She watched, dazed, as brown water fell from dulled strands of hair hung beside her face. Long since had the Alabaster and beetroot dye faded, leaving her natural gingered brown to break through. Idly, she noted that both a dye job and a haircut were long overdue. Her head lifted once more, though the weak gaze sharpened as her form froze, chest stilling with baited breath. There before her stood Morea’s child, stood the wolf that she had crossed paths with when she’d begun the whole experience. Her gaze met the creature’s own and piercing dark eyes seemed to shoot straight into her soul. Immediately, she casted her sights downwards, for she was in no shape to risk challenging the beast. The Mali knew, then, that she must have landed somewhere within its territory, and should it wish it, she would become its evening snack. Her head dipped, submissive, in an attempt to show it that she was no threat, and watched from the corners of her eyes as the wolf stepped closer, head poised high. Graceful and elegant was the canine, near feline-like with its steps and ashen form rippled with power. Confident if an animal ever was so, it stopped just before her, and for a brief moment, the elfess feared the wolf would go straight for her neck. Its gentle breathing brushed against her cheek, and holy shit, she forgot how large wolves were. That darkened snout dipped and paused at the scent beneath her hand, as if the waft of blood had called to it. After a moment of inspection, however, the beast turned and gently nipped at the cloth on her hip. The Mali casted her gaze downwards and when she saw what the beast was nudging at, a simple understanding crossed her features. Slowly, at the risk of her own hand, she slipped her fingers into the pocket that brushed against the canine’s nose and grappled out the smoked fish she’d absentmindedly grabbed back at the cave. The wolf stepped back as her hand had withdrawn, though its form was lined only with an expectancy as it watched her movements. Painfully, the elfess crouched down upon the mucked forest floor and set the meat before her, stilling thereafter once more. The large creature eyed the offering, though interested, returned to its spot nearest the elfess. Its snout lowered, brushing against the food on the ground, and its nose roamed the surface of the meat in exploration. Carefully, as if dealing with a pup, the wolf opened its maw and took the piece of meat into its mouth before it simply… turned and shifted to trot off, away from the river. It stopped then, meters away, before it swiveled back towards the elfess, staring her down. She briefly met its gaze once more, moss-colored orbs settling on amber, before it returned towards its path and disappeared into the woods. The elfess slumped once the canine was out of sight, a heavy breath escaping her form as a look of disbelief crossed her features. Her head thumped back against the tree she leaned against, eyes finally allowed to close for just the sparsest of moments as the encounter replayed in her head. She’d faced many a creature before, but never had she been without a way to defend herself against them, never had she been so… vulnerable to a child of the Mani. It was unsettling. And it was also thrilling. She wasn’t sure how to feel about the emotions raging through her, so instead, the elfess settled on the relief that cast itself upon her shoulders. Once more she straightened, and though the wound in her side pulled with a horrid throb, she seemed reinvigorated. One foot placed itself in front of the other and, with a new drive, the elfess set out to return to her task at hand, adding the need for medical supplies to the list of necessities. On the Forty-ninth day, the elfess reached the start of the river - a pond deep enough to submerge in - and settled down at the highest point nearest it, under the largest pine. ✧◉❂◉✧ On the fiftieth day, the elfess had started to renew her stock of clean water by placing heated rocks into the gathered rainwater that had sat in the hollow of a felled tree’s separated trunk. It wasn’t ideal, but it would have to do. She tried to clean her wound first and drank second. That night, she came down with a fever. On the fifty-fifth morning, her fever broke and any infection that had set into her wound was staved off by her own immune system and habitual cleanings. She spent the day curled in on herself nonetheless, for her stomach had long since grown hungry. On the fifty-sixth day, her hallucinations born of eyes gifted by the spirits raged at her prone form. She found the strength to begin resource stocking due to the sheer need to distract herself from the ghosts of her past. It was slow going. On the seventy-third day, the elfess had finished crafting a proper shelter and her stock of supplies had grown immensely. On the eightieth day, during a hunt for small game, the elfess stumbled across a den. Out came Morea’s child and, with a respective distance, the Mali observed it. It didn’t attack her, so she assumed it didn’t mind. Throughout the little time she risked being there, three other pack members had shown and interacted with the beast. When the elfess felt close to overstaying her welcome, she left the game she’d collected for the pack to feast upon out of a sense of gratefulness. On the eighty-third night, she went for a midnight swim. Within that pond she floated upon her back and stared up at the stars above. The figure of some sort of raptor not yet nesting glided above, its moon-backed silhouette casting a shadow upon the forest below. The elfess cried beneath the darkened skies. On the ninetieth day, the elfess entertained herself by drawing upon stones with globs of mud from the banks of the pond. Figures danced over their surfaces, telling stories of her loved ones long since passed and those few that remained in the present. When she’d finished, she decided that she should make a career of finger-painting. On the one hundredth day, a butterfly landed on her nose. She went cross-eyed trying to watch it. They spent a half hour together and in that time, the Mali moved not a single muscle. She became the embodiment of a flower for the little insect’s calm rest. On the one hundred twelfth morning, the elfess deconstructed her shelter before making the trek back down towards her original cave. The move was long overdue. That night, she was unaware of the large elk that had walked past the cave’s entrance. She’d been sleeping. ✧◉❂◉✧ On the one hundred fifteenth morning, the elfess got up to stand at the cave’s entrance and breathed in the glade’s fresh air. There, she found herself to be at peace; not with her past, nor many aspects of her present, but with what she’d learned, lived, and accomplished out in the forests on her own. She had left to reignite that connection with the balance, and though she knew not if she had accomplished it, she felt comfortable enough to continue her pursuit of it. That day, for the first time in many years, her shoulders bore no tense lining to the way they held themselves, her back entertained no slouch, and her expression contained no subtle lines of stress or unease. Out she stepped into the early streams of light, basking in the way they warmed her countenance. Beneath her feet, settled between her toes, was the tickle of grass just kissed by morning dew. Scattered over the area was a flourish of flowers, a rainbow of color once taken by heavy rainfall now returned. Trailing at the edges of tree line grazed two brown rabbits and above them a red squirrel skittered. Her gaze turned upwards and she watched a sparrow glide carelessly through the air before disappearing into the foliage. Life was in abundance here, so chaotic and yet just as powerfully calm. The Mali moved forth, going about her morning routine of washing up, drinking, and eating. When she’d finished, she shifted to return the basket filled with the next few days’ worth of food to its place in the trees, though a mass out of the corner of her eye stopped her movements before she'd made it halfway to her destination. Slowly, she turned to peer over at whatever being had found itself at the edges of the glade before her ear flicked in clear surprise. Morea’s child stared her down, amber gaze flashing within the shadows cast by the bushels of leaves above, and the elfess, stood within the center of the sunlit clearing, stared back. After a moment, her head dipped lightly out of both respect and acknowledgment, and when she looked back up, the creature was gone. The elfess subtly smiled, the corners of her lips tugging upwards at the prompting of a gentle twitch. It was time to go home. ✧◉❂◉✧
  15. A LETTER TO ALMARIS [i] Hawks carry copies of the same letter to most major settlements and cities in Almaris, and the banging of hammers can be heard as the letter is posted on notice boards for all to read. [i] A sketch of Henrietta Therese lies here as she sits within Nikirala Prikaz’s chapel. Within the walls of the Winter Palace, a mother’s cries can be heard. Klara Elizaveta covers her ears against the sound, her own silent tears slipping down her face. The girl can still feel the eyes on the back of her neck, as if she were still being watched. Every time she closes her eyes, she sees a bundle of sticks and leaves falling from the canopy of the forest. She can still hear her aunt’s desperate wails as the woman cradled the bundle close and fought off anyone trying to knock the Duchess of Alban back to her senses. Klara stifles a sob into her pillow as she realizes the wailing never stopped. She had only received a reprieve from the horrid sound when the search party had finally decided to sedate poor Henrietta, but even that could not quell the illusion induced grief. The little princess could still feel herself being tossed to the ground, could feel how the brush scraped against her hands as she caught herself. With a muffled sob of her own, the girl took a trembling step from the safety of her bed to sit down at her desk. With shaking hands, she pulled out a piece of parchment. 9TH of VZMEY AND HYFF Iv Joveo Mann 406 EHR SIGMUNDA To the beings of Almaris, A girl, barely younger than myself, has been taken, stolen from her family. Lady Elizaveta Ulyana of Alban has been missing for four months, or four Saint’s days. The only traces of my dear cousin have been a lock of her hair and one of her small shoes, found within the Barony of Dobrov. On behalf of my aunt and uncle, Their Royal Highnesses, Prince Marus Aleksandr @mkLouis and Princess Henrietta Therese @PerfectlyPeachy, Duke and Duchess of Alban, I write to the kind hearted people of Almaris today to ask for information. Information on my cousin’s possible whereabouts, or possible sightings. Please help reunite my cousin with our family, please keep your eyes open as you go about your days. Any information or offerings of support are welcome through letters to myself or my mother, Her Majesty, Queen-Consort Emma Karenina @livrose of Hanseti-Ruska. SIGNED, Her Serene Highness, Prinzenas Klara Elizaveta, Duchess of Baranya
  16. What will be Zach watched Delra plunge into the flames, and gave a soft sigh. "A shame." He continued on, heading to the direction of who knows where. Eliza hurried after. "Why did you kill him?" "I didn't. Delra will rescue him from the fire, and then they'll be after us. Me." By now, they were out of the snowy regions, approaching a grassy area. "I do what's best for my children. Dante's soul motivation in life has been hatred, and I mean to give him a satisfactory ending to that hatred, hopefully replacing it with something much more... healthy. Duty to Rozania, perhaps." He gave Eliza a kind smile. "When he left Rozania for a few years, it wasn't because he wanted a break, it was because he knew that I'd found him. He then went looking for me." He didn't elaborate further. They came upon Rozania, and he gestured at the burnt out place. "Lotta good your GOD did you," he says, chuckling. He turns to look at Eliza, a slight smile playing on his lips. "Tell me, what were you hoping to gain from trying to find out my intentions? What good would it do you? When you spoke about Dante, you sounded so indifferent you had me for a few seconds there... being indifferent suits you better." He turned, and kept walking. But in the green backdrop, a figure became visible in the distance... @Pinks Delra carried Dante to the door, but it collapses in front of her. She staggers back, holding Dante, still unconscious. She jumps through the window, landing in the soft snow behind the house. He groans, the thin rag still tied around his eyes. His hand bleeds into the snow, a shocking red in contrast with the white backdrop. He needed medical attention, fast. Reyna stormed out of the tavern, heading straight for Rozania. She came upon Eliza and Zach, seeing them far off in the distance. She could see the burnt shell of Rozania behind them. What did she do?
  17. What once was Zach turned to the house, silently hoisting up Dante by the arm. He gave him a sorrowful look. "I'm sorry it came to that Dante, but you were out of control. You would have killed me if I'd let you be." Dante made no response, as Zach seemingly walked into the house, it still alight. Delra ran after them, and Eliza followed. But Zach soon walked out, holding a book to the light, smiling softly. "This was all I needed." "I never thought that you'd... burn my home, Dante. You truly have changed." Dante spluttered out blood, and slapped away Zach's concerned hand. "You never cared. You NEVER CARED. You just drove us all into our own minds, making us join his... cult thing. I burnt that place down because it was everything that you used to drive me into your kind, loving arms." He spat on Zach's shoes, staggering away, coughing. Zach followed, seemingly concerned for the halfling. "You shouldn't be moving so much, you're injured." "No thanks to you!" Zach could only watch as Dante collapsed against a tree, swiping his sword wildly at Zach. But it was Eliza who grabbed Dante, hoisting him up by his arm, grabbing his sword out of his arm, putting it back in it's sheath. "Dante, this man cares for you. You can't see it. Please, give him a chance." Dante shoved Eliza away, delirious, angry. "You don't know, Eliza. This man burnt down Rozania by controlling Nathaniel like a puppet. He looked after Nathaniel, planted Xerxes in him, and set him onto me. I should have done this before he got you involved." Eliza felt concerned for this small, angry, seemingly broken halfling. "Look, he's not so bad. He's never tried to kill you-" But Dante slapped her across the face, a look of fury on his. "You nearly killed me. You nearly drove me to suicide. It wasn't you, but it was your weak mind that burnt down Rozania. I could have killed Nathaniel when I had the chance, but-" Zach slammed his fist into Dante's stomach, and he collapsed into the snow, wheezing. "Never talk like that to Eliza. Ever. She's tried her hardest for a city that you ignored, running away into the mountains because I'd found you. Then, you just said that you needed a break! You lied to your friends, Dante... and for that, I have to punish you." In one clean movement, Zach had sliced Dante's fingertips off. Dante screamed, trying to move away, but Zach held him down with his foot. "Remember Dante, I have your little book of secrets. I know everything about you. Now be quite, or I'll find a nice little Ice Witch to keep you company." That shut him up. For a while. Zach smiled at Eliza, gesturing at Dante. "What he said was true, but it wasn't your fault. It was Nathaniel's fault, my fault, for not seeing what was coming. I couldn't foresee Nathaniel's fall to madness, so The Burning of Rozania was my fault." He turned to the house, a single tear falling from his face. "Why is everything my fault?" Dante has stood up, slowly grasping his sword. Zach doesn't seem to notice. He jumps at Zach, grabbing his neck from behind, placing his sword to Zach's neck. But Zach, sighing, grabs Dante's sword arm, seemingly throwing him into the burning house. "You die Dante, because you killed Tirilith. You killed Patricia, you killed Nathaniel. You deserve to pay for your sins... go and talk with Hemea in the afterlife, maybe she'll give you some pity." And Zach turned away, motioning at Eliza. "Let's go. Your people need you, and me." He then turned to Delra. "You're a husk. I can't imagine what it'd be like to be you. The pain... it's unimaginable. I can't even..." He shakes his head slightly. "It's sad to even think about. Come with me, and I'll help you fix Rozania. I will give my life for Rozania, because it's everything that everything else isn't. It's a community of friends, not corrupt aristocrats, not religious leaders, just... friends." He extended a hand. @Pinks + @gurlpirate It was starting to make sense. Dante had run away from Zach, blaming him for what had happened to Nathaniel. There were still a few loose threads though... like what had happened to Tirilith? Why had he said, 'everyone?' Were there more of the Caldings? But that wasn't important, as Delra and Eliza watched as Dante was thrown into the fire. Eliza and Delra had a choice. They could go with Zach, leaving Dante to burn... or they could try to help Dante. But by all rights, they both thought, he was already dead. They could see him lying there, unconscious, the hut collapsing around him... @titanicbomber William was busy with papers, when the door opened. A woman called Patricia Calding introduced herself, smiling slightly. "You're from Rozania, right?" "Yes. Why?" "My father, Zach, has told me to fetch everyone. Starting with you, since you're related to Eliza, the Duchess." She motioned to the exit. Did he follow? Or did he question her more?
  18. The End Eliza looked to the Olog, already leaving the city. She glanced behind her, seeing William next to her, and saw Brawly, lying on the ground, Silas was hoarsely shouting for aid, before coughing, smoke filling the air. "Come on! We've got to leave!" No... Eliza needed more time to think. She slid off the pile, grabbing Delra and Nadia, dragging them out of the city. A guard was running towards Dante, picking the screaming halfling up. "Where have you been?" The guard nodded in the direction of the gate. "Up there. I stayed in there because I didn't want to die, unlike the rest of them." Eliza's gaze panned down, seeing a pile of dead guards. They all had their throats cleanly cut. She knew a few of them... there was the lad who'd wanted to be a hero, so she'd told him to join the army to make a name for himself. There was the lass who wanted to prove that she could be better then... she glanced at the guard, his face ashen. "You alright?" He looked away from that lass, his sister, nodding. "Yeah. I'm alright... We've got to leave." Eliza nodded. "Let's go then." William picked up Brawly, and Silas grabbed Delra, who seemed to be slightly out of it. Nadia closely followed, running out of the city. Eliza was second, tugging Delra along. William, carrying Brawly, was far slower. A shower of stone collapsed, a wooden partition falling onto William... until Silas speared it just above William's head, throwing it to the side. They made it out. But the guard carrying Dante did not. @Pinks Delra left the city, feeling somewhat numb. Someone was dragging her. Eliza, Eliza was her name, right? She just couldn't bother with anything. She had to go and mourn in her home... but her home was burnt to the ground, and others were burning around her. The thick smoke covered the air. A part of her was glad that she had made it out, out of the fog, fire, corpses, pain... But she could go back in. It would be so easy, she could try to save Dante! But she knew that she was trying to justify going back into the collapsing wreckage that was Rozania. And she was never able to choose, as the gate collapsed, blocking off the city completely... @alexdraganoid The Olog left Rozania far before any of the others. The taste of blood was still on his mouth, a grin slowly spreading across his face as the oh so familiar feeling of bloodlust overtook him... He turned back to the city, seeing a tired, bedraggled group of travellers leaving the city. . . but it goes against his code to kill those beneath him, and they certainly are right now. With one final look of contempt, he leaves. @titanicbomber William watches as the place starts to collapse, running with his hands over his head, carrying an unconscious Brawly on his back. He stumbled through the city, burning wreckage falling around him. There was a thunk above his head. He looked behind him, Silas throwing his spear to the side with a wooden partition neatly sliced between it. They manage to barely get out of the city, before the gate collapses, completely blocking off the city. William can't help but remember the poltergeist's words. "The real world is horrifying, isn't it?" William almost wishes that he hadn't left that paradise, and as the screaming of Rozania is silenced by the collapsing buildings, horrible crunchings being heard, he turns away, slightly sickened by what's happened. @ThatTromboneGuy Silas coughs, smoke seemingly making up his lungs at this point. He wants to save survivors, but as he looks around, it strikes him that there may not be any. He sees Eliza motioning for everyone to leave, and he moves towards the exit, stumbling slightly. The overuse of mana has weakened him, and it's all he can do to save William from that falling wood. He gets out of the city and looks back. The guard holding a now silent Dante is frozen. "Come on!" The guard doesn't move, his face pale, nearly as pale as Dante's... who doesn't seem to be moving. Finally, the guard blinks, starting to run after Silas... but as the rock falls, the guard doesn't make it in time... and now, there's a solid wall blocking the guard, and Dante, from the exit. There's a horrible screaming, as the rocks on the top crumble down towards the guard. @gurlpirate Her city burned. She stood outside, tears running down her face, as the place that she helped build, the place that she loved, cherished, cared for, worked for, bled for, burnt to the ground. She saw the rock tumble, but she didn't care. She heard the scream of the guard, but she didn't care. The only thing on her mind was Rozania... that beautiful, wonderful place, that gave her everything. That was now gone. She turned back to the group. They looked at her. Gods, they make for a bedraggled lot. Silas, dusty, smoky, William, carrying Brawly, a bedraggled look on Will's face, and Brawly unconscious, the Olog already leaving, Nadia, seemingly frozen, Delra, a look of incredible guilt on her face... What to do now. Where to go? Where could they go? The guard wasn't able to move. How could he? His legs were crushed beneath the rock, and Dante's weight made it impossible to move. Dante slowly opened his eyes... but he couldn't see. He opened his mind, slowly standing up, feeling around him. The guard gasped in relief. "Oh, thank Trigon. Please, help me, save me..." Dante looked down. "Who's there? What's afflicting you?" "My name is Tirilith Calding. I just came here to look for Nathaniel, my brother, but I couldn't find him, then I saw that he was dead... my legs are trapped under the rock." Dante paused. "Calding?" "Yes. Now help me!" "Nathaniel's brother?" Tirilith made a frustrated, desperate face. "Yes! Now help me! Get me out of here!" Dante slowly reached for his dagger. "What are you doing? Move the rock!" Dante slashed downwards, slicing Tirilith's throat. The blood bled out of Tirilith, and his head fell to the ground, utterly dead. Dante sheathed his dagger, wiping it clean with Tirilith's arm. He turned around, trying to find his way to his house. But he couldn't find... anywhere. He was blind; and the burning, and collapsing rubble made it impossible to find anything, anywhere. He fell over his feet, dragging himself towards the palace. He knew where that was. He tried to find the door, but he only found it's wreckage, the Olog having smashed it down. He tried to find a seat, and he found a bench to the side. He lay down, and slowly drifted off into unconsciousness. God, he wanted his vision back. He wanted it so f***ing much... he'd kill for it, he'd sacrifice for it, he'd even laugh for it. He awoke in a rage, still unable to see. He stormed around, bumping into walls, pulling out his sword, randomly slashing around in the room. He head a clang, and he knew that he'd hit the throne. He slashed at the throne, again, again, again, again, again, hoping beyond hope that somehow it would get him his vision back. Of course, it didn't. He tried to pull apart the throne. The throne was the only object in the room on which he could exert his sheer anger... until. A child walked into the room, scared. "Mister halfling? What's happening?" Dante slowly turned around. The child gasped in fear; Dante made quite a sight. Holding a sword with a skinless arm, his eye gouged out, his other eye missing, his entire body covered in dust and soot. "I'm blind, child. You're going to have to speak up. Where are you?" The child almost saved himself... but it was too late. "I'm a few steps in front of you, Mister..." Dante smiled slightly. He sheathed his sword, stepping forward, holding his arm out. A brilliant ray of sunlight, the setting sun meeting the two's hands connecting. "I'm Dante..." Lo? "Calding. Dante Calding." And Dante unsheathed his sword, slicing the child's head off. He dreamt of Ravens. He could see. He walked into a dead, unsettling forest, Ravens covered the trees around him. He came across a gravestone, entitled to, "Dante Calding." A Raven landed, and spoke. "Cover your eyes. Pay for your atrocities... or we will make you." Dante merely sliced the Raven's body in half, or at least tried to. Suddenly, the Ravens were everything, squawking, pecking at his arms, legs, face, pecking his eyes out, and dropping them into his hands. Dante awoke in a cold sweat. Outside, there was nothing but darkness, ruin, and death. Rozania had finished burning, and there was a child dead at his feet. He stumbled towards the throne, gasping slightly. He had to find something to cover his eyes with. He had to, he had to, he HAD TO. He laughed, somewhat insanely. He had to cover his eyes, but he couldn't! He couldn't do it, there was nothing to do it with... He finally realised that he should just use his jacket. He ripped off some cloth, tying it around his eyes. ". . .I. . ."
  19. The Fall Several things happened at once. Nathaniel pulled Eliza out of the hole, motioning for Will to take care of her. He then lunged at Xerxes. The Olog threw the corpse at the armour piece, aiming to free Dante. The hand with the nail was dislodged, and the nail raked across Dante's face, leaving a massive cut. Dante had been rendered blind. Delra's hit landed, but on the wrong ghost. Ironically, Nathaniel's tackle had saved Xerxes. Nathaniel collapsed to the ground, as Delra twisted the blade around him... only then did she realise that she had the wrong ghost. And as Nathaniel looked up at Delra, he knew that this was it for him. "I think you've killed me." And so she had. Xerxes saw Nathaniel's death, and all the fight seemed to go out of him. He had no more cards to play. All his armour pieces were destroyed, and Nathaniel, a last, desperate option, was dead. Xerxes slumps onto the ground, sighing. He looks up as a shadow falls on him. Delra is standing over him, blade in her hand, a look of rage, pain and guilt on her face. "Well, get on with it." And she thrust the blade into his skull. @titanicbomber Although William tried and tried, the pile of bodies seemed to be endless... until a blue hand thrust out of the pile, dragging Eliza with it. Nathaniel Calding gave Will a look, a look of guilt and pain. "I'm so sorry. This is all my fault..." Nathaniel then turned to Xerxes, and lunged at him, and he accidently saved Xerxes. Will saw Nathaniel's death, and Xerxes's death... and he sighed in relief, for the battle was finally won. @Pinks Delra felt nothing but guilt. She'd stabbed her best friend, twisting the blade around... only for it to be the wrong ghost. Nathaniel collapsed, dead. Delra then turned to Xerxes. He gave her a thin smile. "You enjoying this?" She slew Xerxes. The armour pieces holding Dante collapsed with Xerxes. Dante was lying on the ground, clearly in pain, his eye completely slashed through. Dante was trying not to scream, so instead he was just punching the ground repeatedly. Dante stood up, still holding his eye, blood pouring through his fingers. He removed his hands, then put them back, then removed them... "I can't see." Dante stumbled around. Delra looked at the halfling, wondering if he was serious or not. He was wearing an eyepatch on the non-scarred eye, and the other one had just been slashed through... Dante bumped into Delra, and he turned to her, blood pouring out of his eye, his horrifying arm very visible, and said, "Who is this? Who are you?" @gurlpirate Eliza was pulled out by Nathaniel, a blue hand lifting her to the light. He gave her a look that conveyed everything; Guilt, Pain, Sorrow, Anger.. He then leapt after Xerxes. She tried to stop him, to grab his leg, something... she was afraid that Nathaniel would simply be beaten up by Xerxes again. What happened was far worse, as Delra plunged her blade into Nathaniel's chest... She saw Dante stumbling around, trying to not scream. The Olog was digging out Brawly, and Silas had managed to get out of the pile. He looked dirty, tired, red, hellish aura surrounding his face. But as she turned around, she saw Delra plunge the blade into Xerxes's face. The armour pieces collapsed around Dante, and finally... Rozania was at peace. @ThatTromboneGuy Silas finally broke into the fresh air. Despite himself, he took deep breaths, only to start coughing, as smoke filled his lungs. He coughed, trying to desperately look around him. The scene was apocalyptic; smoke filled the air, massive piles of corpses everywhere... fires still burning around Rozania. And Silas saw Eliza standing at the top of the pile, a brilliant ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds... but just as soon, it vanished, as Eliza's face froze in shock, staring at something beyond the pile.
  20. The Beginning of The End Xerxes Calding watched, invisible, as Delra moved to Dante. Admittedly, this wasn't what he wanted, but this would do just fine. Nathaniel Calding was moving forward, trying to stop her, but they both knew that he wouldn't make it in time. Nathaniel cried out, and Delra's hand jolted, stabbing Dante's arm. His eyes opened, and he tumbled onto the floor, holding his arm in pain. Nathaniel turned to Xerxes, able to see him, and charged at him, letting out a bellow. They tumbled through a window, onto the ground outside, fire burning around them, the corpses of the citizens practically paving the road. Nathaniel let out several savage blows, and Xerxes took them, crying out in pain. But soon, the tide of the fight changed. Several armour pieces held Nathaniel back. Although he cast them to the side, Xerxes set upon Nathaniel, brutally beating him. Nathaniel tried to raises his arms, but he eventually collapsed, holding out an arm, desperately trying to stop him. Eventually, Nathaniel was beaten into unconsciousness. And Xerxes still beat him. It was truly horrific to watch. And so Xerxes finally finished. He stood over Nathaniel's form, laughing at him. "You fool! You tried to protect everyone, and all you achieved was, well..." He gestured around him. "This." Nathaniel slowly wakes, croaking at Xerxes, "You did this... you used me, and so many others." Xerxes shrugged. "Half right. You were to weak to stop me, and it was your choice for me to take over in the first place." He crouched in front of Nathaniel. "You know, possessing you was possibly the best choice I ever made. I could do it again..." Nathaniel looked at Xerxes with a certainty. "No you won't." "And why is that?" "Because they will stop you." Eliza rounded the corner, slayersteel in hand. Xerxes slowly turned to face her. ". . .You." @gurlpirate Eliza watched with some horror, as Delra stabbed Dante in the arm, convinced that Xerxes was still inhabiting his arm. But she watched the fight between the two, and saw Xerxes beat Nathaniel. Eliza ran down the steps, hoping that she would make it in time. She did, seeing the poltergeist standing over Nathaniel. ". . .You." Eliza gripped the slayersteel dagger, pointing it at Xerxes. "Me." @titanicbomber William woke from his slumber. He was in the arms of an armour piece, on the roof of the palace of Rozania. Below him, Rozania burned. People were dead in the streets, men, women, children... it was horrific. William noted this, and one more thing - two ghosts and Eliza were about to start fighting. But below him, he could hear an Olog rumbling to make an attack, a halfling crying out in pain, and he saw an armour piece standing at the guard post at the gates, slowly lowering the gate. The remaining armour pieces were slowly starting to head to the square. All in all, there were around seven left. If they were not stopped, it would be the end of Eliza, surely. He had two options. One, he could chop down the burning decorations hanging above the city, in the hopes of stopping them, or at least setting them on fire. Second, he could hope that the people in the palace would be able to deal with them. Or he could just fight them. But all of this was discounting the fact that he was in the arms of an armour piece... @Pinks Delra had made a mistake. Dante sat at the edge of the room, holding his arm. She stabbed his right one... and it's a strange arm. It had no skin. Dante's arm was covered in veins, flesh, and bone. Especially flesh and bone... his fingers were long, spindly, horrifying. Just the sight horrifies Delra, instinctively making her want to get as far away as possible... @ohbother1 Nadia wakes from her internal imprisonment, and for a few seconds she almost wishes that she hadn't. The scent of charred flesh lingered in the air. Smoke covered the room, and a single look outside would tell her that Rozania was on fire. Heart wrenching screams filled the air, as the denizens of Rozania were massacred. The inhabitants of the room were in chaos. Silas was convincing an Olog to leave, Dante lay slumped against the wall, with some sort of horrifying... wait. Was that an arm? She saw Eliza charging to fight the poltergeist, and she followed, half wanting to help, and half wanting to get fresh air... @ThatTromboneGuy Silas had fended off the Olog, for now. He saw all that happened; Nathaniel tackling the Poltergeist out of the window, Eliza and Nadia haring after them, Delra gazing horrified at that.. abomination on Dante's arm. And in that split moment, he began to question this whole affair. "If the Spectre knew that the Poltergeist was such an issue, why did he let him take control? Where did he come from in the first place?" But these questions would have to wait, he told himself. He chased after Eliza, seeking only to defeat Xerxes, and protect Eliza... @alexdraganoid As the Olog issues the warning, he turns towards Dante. He sees Delra stab Dante's arm, seemingly unprovoked. The halfling tumbles to the side of the room, clutching his arm. Except that he recognises the halfling... it's Dante!
  21. The Beginning of the End Xerxes has lost, and he knows it. What can he do against Silas, Brawly, and Eliza? Eliza alone could probably beat him into oblivion. He only has twelve armour pieces left, William and Dante are free from his prison, Nadia is not in the vicinity... What about the Olog? Could he maybe... too late. He comes trundling down the path, conferring with Brawly, who points at Xerxes. Shit. Xerxes desperately looks around him. Nathaniel is a no go. Silas would kill him anyway. "Well, if I'm going to die..." Xerxes points at Eliza. And armour pieces emerge from roof tops, six in all... the other six are who knows where? The six on the roofs, however, are holding someone. No... somethings. As Eliza looks up, a charred corpse smashes into her head. She throws it to the side, but soon, the armour pieces throw dozens of them. They start to bury Eliza, and Xerxes grabs Nathaniel's head, still unconscious. Xerxes throws Nathaniel into the pile, hundreds of bodies soon piling above Eliza. They start to tumble off the pile, and eventually, although Brawly hacks desperately away with his spade, the five are trapped under a pile of bodies. Xerxes hears one of the palace windows smash. And as he does, a halfling soars out of it, landing with a thud next to Xerxes. It's Dante, and he immediately lunges for Xerxes... only to go straight through. Xerxes shrugs. "You can't kill me, Dante. How can you, if you can't even touch me?" Dante snarls, tearing at Xerxes, only to run straight through him again. "Give up already. Just leave while you still can." Dante looks at Xerxes, smirking. "I've survived sitting on Azdromath's head. You think I'm going to give up?" Xerxes shrugs, as Dante is grabbed by six armour pieces from behind, restraining his arms. Xerxes casually strolls up to Dante, giving him a pitying look. "You know, it's unfortunate what happened to that.. boyfriend of yours." Dante tenses. "Don't." Xerxes tilts his head. "Should I punish you for being unfaithful to Canonism?" "Why do you care." "Well, I believe that Savoy tended to crucify people. Could be wrong though..." While two armour sets hold Dante down, four set about making a cross. When they finished, they set it up, and grabbed Dante's arm.. "STOP!" Xerxes turned around, and saw Delra, gripping her slayersteel dagger, with a determination that Xerxes would rather avoid. @Pinks Delra watched Dante jump out of the window. She wasn't even able to get a word in, he'd just nodded at her, before leaping through. She stared at the window in shock for a few seconds, before running down the steps. There was a massive pile of corpses, shouts seemingly coming from within... and six armour sets, attempting to crucify Dante. They'd already pinned his non-cursed arm, and Dante was writhing, kicking, but to no avail. "STOP!" Xerxes turned to her, a bemused expression on his face. "Make me." @ThatTromboneGuy Silas saw Eliza get piled over by charred corpses. He lunged at them, tearing them off, but soon, they dropped onto him as well. Daylight was quickly being blotted out by the bodies... Silas was going to need to be creative if he wanted to get out of this. @Tk4522 Brawly tries to bat away the rapidly appearing bodies, but they fall thick and fast. Brawly's just about to continue, until he looks up, seeing a child. And that split second hesitation is all it takes, and he's soon buried under piles of piles of piles of bodies... He looks around him, trying to move. He's not being crushed, only because plenty of the bodies had massive holes in them, and the skin is burned off in several places. Brawly strengthens his grip on his shovel, slowly starting to hack away around him, rage slowly quickening his pace... @alexdraganoid The Olog never thinks twice. As the bodies start to fall, he quickly notes the fastest route, and dashes. He climbs up the palace, lithely jumping onto the roofs. He easily destroys the armour pieces, smashing them inwards. It's far too late to stop the flow of bodies, however, and Eliza, Silas, and Brawly are trapped underneath. However, he sees Xerxes trying to crucify Dante... He can either save the group, or save Dante and kill Xerxes. @gurlpirate As Eliza is dogpiled, there's a small moment where she regrets her choice of words. Because, she considered, what made Rozania, Rozania, was it's people. And it's people were dead, that much was clear... as she was simply buried under charred corpses. The smell was abominable, and everywhere she looked, she saw nothing but death, horror, her people, her friends, all gone... But she also saw a speck of light at the top of the pile. And as Nathaniel went tumbling into the pile, that light was soon replaced with a blue hand, reaching down, trying to pull her up... @ohbother1 Nadia follows Delra, seeing her friends be dogpiled by corpses. But she only has mind for revenge, and that focus is centred on Xerxes. She sneaks around the suits of armour, smiling to herself, gripping the sword that Dante had tossed to the side of the room. It was going to be over for Xerxes, she could feel it.
  22. The Burning of Rozania Nadia is laughing. Wait, no, XERXES is laughing. All those in the throne room, Brawly, Eliza, Dante, William, Silas, Nadia, Nathaniel, Delra... They all hear Nadia screaming in laughter. The armour pieces grab the torches, then scuttle out through the windows, save two, into the cold, dark night. The room is plunged into complete darkness, Nadia, holding a torch in her hand. "You fools..." It started with a crackle, over by the tavern. There was a great Crash, as the fireplace fell on itself. Soon, the whole building was ablaze, and the fire only spread from there. It next hit the bank and auction house. Confused and frightened clerics gaped, as the roof collapsed, instantly crushing them. Soon, the whole housing district was ablaze. Nothing was spared, and everything burnt. That night, screamed echoed around Rozania, as the civilians were burnt alive. Those that tried to escape were slaughtered by the armour pieces. It was genocide, unlike anything that Rozania had seen before. Even Oisin hadn't gone this far. There was simply no one left. The smoke cloud was visible for miles, even from Yong Ping. People gaped, pointing at the cloud. After the fire finally stopped, there was an eerie atmosphere. The smoke acted as a fog, and a suffocating atmosphere covered the city. All that was left was the Palace, and the walls... an empty shell of a once beautiful town. The bright orange and red flames lit up the room, as people watched, shocked. Nadia turned back to the group. The pieces of armour scooped up William and Dante, and started to climb out of the window. "This is where I leave. Pinemaw next, probably." Nadia waved at them, grinning. She turned to leave, but... She turned back to them. "Oh, if any of you so much as think of moving for the next ten minutes, Dante and William will be crushed, and it will be up to you to clean the blood." She turned, touching the throne. "I hope you know it was ME, William, ME, who destroyed Rozania for good. Not Oisin, not Savoy, not Sedan... ME, XERXES CALDING." @gurlpirate Nadia motions at Eliza. "Come on, you're coming with. Through the window." But she doesn't move. She simply stares, looking out of the window, watching her city burn. How did it come to this? She can hear the cries, the slaughter, the madness... and all because a Ghost wanted revenge. But finally, she does move. But to where? @Pinks Delra can hear the screaming. It will haunt her for the rest of her days, the screaming of hundreds burning, with a city. The orange flames illuminate the windows, and light shines through. Nathaniel stands next to her, shell shocked, a face of guilt clearly visible on his face. A voice whispers in his mind, hurried, panicked, saddened. "I didn't know he would do this. I'm so sorry, this is all my fault. I should have killed him." How does she reply? @ThatTromboneGuy Nadia looks at Silas. "You. You're good at fighting. Why don't you fight that Olog?" She points at Mal, a wide smile on her face. "I enjoy this. I can make you do whatever I want, or two people die." Silas does not move. "Go on! Fight! Battle to the death! One life is worth less then two, no?" @alexdraganoid The Olog watches. He can smell the panic on the air. He can smell the blood, the charred corpses. It's a ghastly stench, that fills the air. Burned flesh is not pleasent. The Olog also watches Xerxes tell Silas to fight him. Nadia turns to the Olog. "Same to you, if you even care." Silas turns to the Olog, with a troubled expression on his face.... @Tk4522 "You know, I've always found you fascinating Brawly." Brawly snaps himself out of the horrified trance he was in, watching Rozania burn. "You've never taken me seriously. You dismissed my threat as trivial, and you claimed that you would scourge me from the face of the Earth... yet here I am, alive. For all your threats, I live, and Rozania doesn't." Nadia winks at Brawly. "Hope you'll take me seriously now." And as she turns to go, a sick feeling of rage enters Brawly... but he knows that if he so much as moves, the two die. But is he angry enough to discard that thought? @titanicbomber The image changes again, but now, he's in a mountain hut. There's a relaxing atmosphere. He's sitting in a rocking chair, a blanket covering him and a cup of steaming hot chocolate next to him. This new reality seems to blot out his old one. Xerxes is beside him, sitting in a similar chair, reading a book. He looks up at William, and gives him a soft smile. "The real world is horrifying, isn't it?" He gets up, placing the book on the ground, and sitting back down. "You asked what made you, you. And I know the answer, William... people made you what you are." "People are always remarkably quick to condemn horrid people, but never stop to ask why they're so horrid. If people actually delved into reasoning, past, pain, trauma..." He sighed, taking a sip of the hot chocolate. "The world would be a lot less dangerous. Because in the end, everyone starts out the same. Sure, we may be different species, different looks, but we all start out with a blank slate." He leans forward. "And people colour in that white space, William. Who's your mother?" And he thinks. "Eliza." "Yes. She brought you up, and although you had already suffered before then, she still grew you into what you are today, a broken individual." Xerxes sighed. "I'm sorry that this has happened to you. If I knew how to heal trauma, I would do so instantly... but I can't do that. I can only do that to myself, and to those who permit me control over their mind." And he disappears, leaving William on that beautiful mountain range, to think. Dante Lo's mind is screaming. Dante is driving himself insane, to get rid of Xerxes. And Xerxes is trying to stop him... and it's resulted in a fist fight between the two. Dante, despite being a halfling, is incredibly talented at this. He's spent half his life fighting. Xerxes, on the other hand, is far less experienced at this. The two grapple, Dante landing punches and Xerxes trying to block them, until Xerxes finally wins the mental battle. Dante finds himself unable to move. "What have you done?" "I've won, that's what I've done." Xerxes stands up, panting slightly. He throws out a hand, and Dante seemingly falls through his mind, landing on a pile of bones. "You wanted to drive yourself insane. Fine. I'll drive you insane, instead." And suddenly, Dante is swept away in a river, full of corpses, all cut in half for some strange reason... He looks at one of the corpses, and pales. His boyfriend, Tirilith... He screams. He tries to leave the river, but he can't. There's no bank, and he keeps on bumping into the floating leftovers of the Elvenesse disaster... Until he spots a water fall. He falls off, falling deep into the abyss, until he lands in soft grass. He looks up, and his best friend, John, gets his head ripped off by a bear, it rolling to a stop in his hands. The insides are ripped apart, blood flying everywhere... Dante clutches his head, his sanity slowly breaking as Xerxes makes him relive his worst memories, a thousand times worse...
  23. Guilt Nathaniel Calding watches William rush to the pair on the throne, pulling them back. He reaches out a hand, "DON'T TOUCH THEM!" But once again, his warning is too late. Far too late, as the mist spreads up William's arm, and William collapses to the ground, his eyes glazed over. Nathaniel stumbles away, mumbling, 'No, no, no, no, no, NO!' What's the point? He'll never eradicate Xerxes, and all of this is his fault. He's too weak, and Xerxes is too strong, for him at least. He'd have to rely on Dante and Nadia's strength; and when has relying on other people ever worked? Nathaniel then falls to the ground, his legs not working for some reason. Why couldn't he move his legs? And it comes to him - he hasn't actually walked for a decade. Xerxes did it for him, and Nathaniel is now stuck in the middle of the room, dragging himself to the throne, trying his best to control the emerging chaos... Dante Lo smiles slightly at Xerxes's reflection in his metal prison. "You know what happened here, right?" "Of course. That Ice Witch drove you insane, made you tear out your eye." Dante closes his eyes, and thinks back to the memory. He focus's on the traumatic events, and the room that he's in starts to... bend. Xerxes appears behind Dante. "What are you doing?" Dante shrugs, still focusing on the memories. "Driving my self insane. Your whole... thing relies on a sane host to corrupt, right? You drove Eliza insane because you never intended to actually keep control over her." Xerxes roughly grabs Dante's shoulder, a look of panic on his face. "Stop it!" But Dante gives Xerxes an unnatural grin. "Let me show you why I'm still alive, Xerxes. Let me show you..." Dante lunges at Xerxes, and the two tussle, while Dante's mind falls around them. @Tk4522 Brawly would see an apparition of Nathaniel's, a panicked look on his face. "Brawly, come as fast as you can. Xerxes is possessing Nadia and William Raven, as well as a halfling..." He then disappears, in a whirlwind of whispers. But another apparition appears, this one of Dante Lo, the halfling. It's red, and purely chaotic. It speaks with Xerxes's voice, however. "Brawly, stay away if you wan-" But as Dante applies the pressure, the apparition shimmers slightly, distorting in the air, a hole slowly consuming the apparition from the head. There's a great wind, a scream, and it's gone. What's going on over there? @alexdraganoid The orc observes the same apparitions as Brawly. He starts to head to Rozania, being proactive like that. When he arrives, he finds the place nearly full to the brim with empty armour stands, somehow moving. The windows to the throne room have been smashed by something, and a general feeling of unease emanates from the place. @titanicbomber William does not wake in a prison of his own mind. "I just thought it's a bit overdone, you know?" He wakes in a burning village, people falling to the sword and fire around him. It's a raid, and the village is being massacred. People run, screaming, terrified of death - but it comes all the same. Xerxes points at a certain figure. "Look at you go!" William turns around, and sees his past self murder a family, brutally cutting them down. "You were brilliant! That was some amazing swordsmanship. What happened?" Suddenly, the image changes, and instead of Will cutting a family down, it's Gazigazh. Then it's Eliza, then it's his mother... "That's you. What made you like you are now? What changed you?" @ThatTromboneGuy Even as he says this, heavy slams come from outside. Armour stands are trying to break in through the door. Silas runs to the door and bolts it, but they start to smash through the windows, crawling in like insects! But they make no move. They simply stand next to the throne, forming lines around Nadia, Dante and the now collapsed William. One walks up to Silas, and speaks in a low, growl. "You will leave the throne room. The Self Declared King Xerxes of Rozania has declared it." @gurlpirate "Nothing." Eliza watches the armour pieces scuttle in, and hears the same words. But then, the armour looks to Eliza, and says, 'Although, the King wishes an audience with you. Walk forward.' A path is formed, and she sees Nadia sitting on the throne, but it's clearly Xerxes in control. William still lies sleeping, and Dante is clutching his head, clearly in agony. Nadia speaks. "Say, Eliza. You did some real damage to that halfling over there. And to me, to Silas... to everyone you've ever met, actually." Nadia shrugs. "You seem to spread fear and misery wherever you go. Would the world not be better off without you?" She makes no move after that, simply staring at Eliza. @ohbother1 "This is your new home! I can change it up, if you want." The design changes, now almost exactly the same as her real home, save that there is no door, and the rooms seem to go on forever. Nadia stares at her bedroom, specifically at another door. That wasn't there before, was it? She opens it up, and walks through to her bedroom. What? She turns around, but the door is gone. She sees another door, this time a trapdoor. She climbs down, and this time lands in her attic. What the- Nadia wanders around, trying to find a way out, growing steadily more frustrated. Xerxes let's out a, 'phew.' "While she's distracted..."
  24. Over The Edge Nathaniel Calding finally rests, having fixed Eliza's mind. She'd still have the same memories, and undoubtedly an incredible amount of guilt for what she had done, but at least she was safe now. Xerxes sits in the darkness, unable to do anything, waiting for Nathaniel to finish. Nathaniel finally returns. "What took you so long?" "Unlike me, you're actually good at destroying someone's mind. I'm just good at repairing it." Xerxes chuckles. "You should become a medic... like that Brawly fellow. Then you'd be able to put your talents to use." "More like a Mental Asylum, I think..." They both laugh. Despite hating each other's guts, they're still laughing together... But Nathaniel stops. "Brawly." "What about him?" "That Orc, Brawly, and that figure on the hill are all together now. And if they head for Rozania, then there's nothing that can stop them. You've lost, Xerxes." Xerxes irritably flicks his head, as if a fly had buzzed around it. "And what? If I die, you die. If they stab us with a golden blade, then we both die." Nathaniel thinks for a bit. "But Brawly knows about you. What about him? And Eliza will probably understand, if I tell her." Xerxes did not think of that. He sits on the floor, moodily looking at the floor. It's like he doesn't really care about dying, at all. Until he has an idea. "I can't mess with Eliza anymore. There are still... several people in Rozania who I could mess with. Nadia, that halfling..." Nathaniel sighs. "It won't change the fact that Brawly is coming..." "And ME." Xerxes savagely lunges at Nathaniel, attempting to hold him down while he starts to bring down... his own mind! "I don't care if I go insane, or die... but I'd rather die then see you take control again." Nathaniel's eyes widen, and he throws Xerxes off him, slowly reaching into his own mind, putting the pieces back together. Nathaniel reaches deep into Xerxes, pulling out his very soul, picking him up... Xerxes gives Nathaniel one last grin. "This isn't over, you know." "No doubt." And Nathaniel looks weary, tired, done with dealing with Xerxes. He deposits him on the throne. No one will sit there, anyways, right? Xerxes condenses onto the throne. He can't survive too much exposure to the real world, and he's likely to die, as no one is going to touch him. Until... *** Nadia bursts in, bumping into the armour pieces holding Dante by the arms. Dante seems to be unconscious. Nadia stumbles back, but the armour piece grabs her leg, swinging her to the throne. She desperately tries to grab onto Dante's leg, but instead, the two simply go flying together. Nathaniel turns around, and sees them both being catapulted towards the throne. His eyes widen, and he stretches out a hand - "NO ONE TOUCH THE THRONE!" But it's too late, as the two smash into said throne. Nadia and Dante are knocked unconscious, a red mist slowly settling over them... @Setsuko_ Edward coughs, lifting himself to his feet. Below him, there's devastation. The armour pieces are burning to pieces, and yet... there's an Orc, caught in the tanglefoot potion! "GEEET DIIIIZZ ZKAAAHH OOOFFF. OORR MIII WIIILL FLAAATT LAAATT NEEXXZZTT." Edward notes that the orc just threatened him. @Tk4522 Brawly watches the Orc, chuckling.. until Nathaniel whispers into Brawly's mind. "It's done. Xerxes is gone. But you should still probably head over, just in case. Besides, you need to argue my case, so that I don't instantly die." There's a light laugh. Brawly turns to Edward, and the Orc. No doubt, they would be a great help to fighting off any armour. Edward is currently struggling, though, and the Orc is trapped in a tanglefoot potion. What to do? @alexdraganoid The Orc tries to free himself from the tanglefoot, but is unable to - instead, he lifts up the ground that the potion is connected to! He stumbles around for a bit, before rolling down the hill. He gets to his feet in a rush, annoyed at the fact that he had tripped over. @ThatTromboneGuy Silas removes the knife from Eliza's grasp, and notes that her face becomes a lot calmer, more relaxed, more like Eliza. But the last few pieces of armour surround Silas. He grabs Eliza's knife, slashing through all of them, easily crippling them. In the corner, Nathaniel stumbles off the throne, and seems to turn completely blue, leaving a red orb on the throne. Just looking at it would cause whisperings of evil to enter his mind... until Dante and Nadia are flung directly towards it. Silas shivers despite himself, as the red seemingly merges with the two. They both unconscious on the throne, and Silas can't help but be concerned. Nathaniel stumbles towards Eliza, Silas, throwing the remaining armour stands to the side of the room with but a flick of his finger. "What have I done..." @gurlpirate They slowly come back to her. William, Nadia, Silas... the memories return, drowning out the memories of the bad times, restoring her to who she was. She can remember them all now, she can remember the laughs, the thrills, the good times. Nathaniel, not Xerxes, slowly whispers to her. "Life is not hopeless. It's only hopeless if we decided it is so." Eliza slowly opens her eyes, and sees a concerned Silas, and a terrified Nathaniel, standing over her. Nathaniel gasps in relief, sitting back down on the ground. But his voice continues to speak. "You are the Duchess of Rozania. Your aim isn't to make a change; it's to ensure that there doesn't need to be one." Eliza slowly gets to her feet, and the whispering abates. @titanicbomber William Raven enters the city. He looks around, unable to see if anything is going on. He spots a woman charging up the steps to the palace, and inside, he can hear the sounds of conflict. He runs after her, bursting into the palace. He sees Eliza, bleeding, being held by Silas and Nathaniel, concerned looks on their faces. A halfling is lying on the throne, along with Nadia, both bleeding from the head, a red, shimmering mist slowly enveloping them... Where does he go? @ohbother1 Nadia slumps over the throne, knocked stone cold. But although she sleeps, in her mind, she is seated in a cold, black room, which looks like... nothing. It looks, and feels like nothing, and yet it has substance. A voice behind her scares her. "Nadia Buckfort." She jumps, turning around, scared. "Who are you?" He looks like Nathaniel, but he's clearly not. The Blue Nathaniel that she saw looked kind, warm, gentle. A good person. This Nathaniel looks evil. With twisted features, a cold smile, and an aura of danger. "I am Xerxes Calding. And I am here to make you an offer." He sits down, giving her a smile that made her shiver in her spine. "How would you say your life has been going?" Dante Lo wakes in his mind, gasping and shivering. He doesn't know what's happening. How could he? He's just a halfling who's seem too much. "Far too much." Dante whips around, and sees Xerxes standing in front of him. "What do you want." "Well, I want your body. Your mind. Your soul. Deal?" ". . .No?" "Shame." Xerxes walks up to Dante. "I can just take it by force, you know." Dante kicks Xerxes's leg, causing him to fall onto the ground. "Try me." Xerxes chuckles, standing up, and vanishing in a chorus of whispers. And Dante collapses, holding his head as an ear-splitting chorus of voices nearly makes him go deaf, and he soon will- Xerxes appears again, and the voices disappear with his appearance. "Ready to talk?" Dante slowly gets to his feet, his mouth a hard slash of a line. "I saw what you did to Nathaniel. Why would I let you do it to me?" Xerxes thinks for a bit, and then he disappears. Dante is suddenly in the little cottage in Haense, the one in which he encountered that Frost Witch. He suddenly stops. "No." He pounds on the door, but of course it doesn't open. He punches the windows, but they hold fast. "No!" He tries to climb up the chimney, but it's blocked off at the top. He sits down at the desk, that oh so familiar desk, and stares out of the window, where he sees a reflection, but not of himself... of Xerxes Calding, grinning at him. "Checkmate."
  25. Conflict Nathaniel suddenly gasps, as three of his apparitions are killed nearly simultaneously. He flips his head back. Things aren't going well for him... He was going to have to move. He suddenly stood up, motioning for Delra and Nadia to do the same. "Actually, no talk. We've got to move." He takes a quick peek into Eliza's mind, and gives himself a satisfied nod. He checks on Brawly, and also nods, though a little uncertainly. He decides to mess around with him a bit, he's had it too easy. He then quickly walks to the old tent site, and sees Brawly, with an... apparition? He frowns, attempting to move it, or even have sway over it, but it doesn't move a jot. "Brawly." @ohbother1 Nadia suddenly receives a whispering in her mind. It's Nathaniel's voice, but far less evil. It's the blue version of him, the one standing next to Brawly. "Listen. Things are going to get messy, it's best you head to Rozania and stop Eliza from causing any more harm." Suddenly, hands grow from the ground beneath Brawly and the Apparitions feet. The hands grab Brawly, attempting to hold him in place, while the Apparition starts to be dragged into the sand! Nadia takes the chance, and dashes away, heading to Rozania. *** Nadia arrives at Rozania, and sees a great mass; ONE HUNDRED armour stands, seemingly moving on their own, are leaving the city, while another fifty are slowly encircling the castle, Silas inside. Yet, she hears Eliza, yelling something in a house... to the top left? "Emb... the pa....." Nadia runs after Eliza, and sees Eliza, standing over the shaking form of Dante Lo, curled into a ball, looking at Eliza with a tear stricken face. @Setsuko_ Nathaniel seems to have vanished, screaming in pain as he is obliterated. Yet, far off in the distance, a great clanking can be heard. Edward turns around, and sees a mass of fifty armour suits, seemingly moving on their own, running towards Edward with axes! Nathaniel suddenly appears behind again Edward again, another Apparition. It grins at Edward, gesturing with his hands. "Enjoy." @ThatTromboneGuy Behind Silas, a faint knocking can be heard on the door, along with the loud sound of clanking. As well as Nathaniel's voice. "It is you, who is the fool." Suddenly, the door is broken down, sets of armour, seemingly empty, pouring in, filling all the empty space in the room, surrounding him. They move to attack him. @alexdraganoid The Orc soon gets what he was looking for. An Apparition appears behind the Orc, of Nathaniel, in an apologetic tone. "Apologies, but that's it, you're dying." Fifty armour suits surround the orc, each the size of an average sized Orc themselves! Each is armed with crude, ferrum swords, and no shields. One moves to attack, and suddenly they all rush him, seeking to simply chop him to bits. @gurlpirate Eliza turns around, seeing Nadia at the window. Nadia, her friend, is standing at the window... although of course, she isn't a friend anymore. Dante quietly sobs, pushing himself away from Eliza. Although she doesn't know it, there's a trapdoor at the roof of the building that would allow Dante to leave... but she does know about it, he asked her if it was allowed. What does she do? Talk to Nadia, or stop Dante from escaping? Dante Lo is edging away from Eliza. He doesn't know what's wrong with her, but she's making him feel like nothing, and he doesn't think that he is nothing - so he attempts to edge away from her, aiming for the trapdoor in the attic...
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