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  1. CUTTING THE NOOSE LOOSE “For fairness, for greatness.” - Big Tony For once, the roads of the Holy Orenian Empire weren’t ghostlike. A grand skirmish commenced, everyone was able to hear it, from the Northern elves to the Southern orcs. But it wasn’t a battle between the allied forces and the ISA, for the soldiers of the imperial military wish to keep their people caged like zoo animals. My people have recently discovered that they’ve been modifying their city to be sure that their people stay inside. Nowhere is safe during these times and they know it… except for Haense. Trust me when I tell you that this isn’t a coincidence. As much as I'm a man of coin, my heart tells me that Haense has done nothing to upset the allied forces in this war. If anything, they’ve returned my kindness. I know there is only so much of a bond you can forge with a man who hides behind a nickname that was given to him decades ago, but I think that it’s clear that I only want the best for the people that live in this realm. My years of being a menace are over. It’s for this reason I wish to once more extend a hand to my friends of Haense. The Emperor seems to be a fan of making the same mistakes, probably because the fracturing of his skull had an impact on his memory. 75 000 Minas, thrown away in return for a nod of appreciation. 71 000 Minas, all it took to make sure their people were safe.. and look where they’re at now. It’s clear that the Emperor is just leaving his people to die on the roads. I don’t remember the last time I saw a soldier outside my keep. There have been more Haense people coming over to visit, peacefully. I don’t wish to fracture the human race, for i know an existing empire is crucial for some. I simply wish for a better people to take control, people who would never prey on the weak. People who fight with honor in their hearts and fire in their eyes. People who fight for their motherland rather than staying inside of their city hoping that the coalition behind me will give up. I wish to remind everyone reading this that it was The Holy Orenian Emperor who declared war on the harmless Suticans. He only decided to keep his people inside of the city after 30 of his men got locked up in Hangmen’s Keep. I thought the mighty ISA would fight back, seeing they have a city to siege. The only siege that’s happening at the moment is the citizens of Helena sieging the front gate of their own city so they can live as people instead of pets. I wish to be in contact with you soon, I have nothing that I want to gain from this war, but getting rid of the current leaders of Helena opens up for quite a few possibilities if the people of Haense open their eyes. Send me a letter and we can talk, if I don't respond it’s probably because I'm lying lifeless on the battlefield, for I’m fighting on the front lines while the current Emperor is sending only his puppets out to the fields. Signed,
  2. Buck

    Buck News.

    A new buck news has been glued over the hole in your window in an attempt to cover up the damage done by the previous buck news outing. Also more of your food is gone. He just couldn’t help himself.
  3. [!] Pamphlets are strewn across the city: THE NICEPHORE PROMISE Efficiency - Service - Unflinching Defense THE CANDIDATE THE ISSUES THE VICE-MAYORALTY: Rather than a crony or party affiliate, Achille Nicephore pledges the office of Vice-Mayor to whichever man, woman, elf, or child takes second place in the election. In the event of an abdication from power, the citizens of Helena should be represented, not the preference of the mayor. CIVIL SERVICE: Helena is suffering from a catalepsy brought on by poor citizen participation in government, and the advancement of entrenched political families. As mayor, Achille plans to establish new programs for civil service, and open posts in the city government for regular citizens. The Civilian Conservation Corps: If elected, Achille Nicephore will organize the Civilian Conservation Corps, an organization that provides opportunities for Helena’s unemployed to help with the war effort. The CCC will work to manufacture equipment, aid with construction, and help defend our fair city. THE DEFENSE: As war once again looms on the horizon, we are faced with the grim task of preserving the safety of our most vulnerable. The defense of our citizens is a vital responsibility of the city government, one that must be addressed. Defense Production: As Master of Ironmongers, Achille believes it is his duty - and the duty of every other Livery Master - to provide vital supplies for the war effort. If elected, Achille Nicephore will pass an Edict of Defense Production - establishing quotas and an order to sell materiel to the ISA. Securing Our Roads: Already, brigands circle our city, threatening the lawful passage of people and goods. We will not allow the Nordling War to repeat itself, with women and children being abducted. If elected Mayor, Achille will work in conjunction with the ISA to establish a citizens’ garrison, tasked with rapid response to threats inside our walls and outside. Ensuring Our Water Supply: A vital strategic concern for the coming war is a secure source of clean drinking water. Years of city expansion have resulted in many of the city’s sewers and water lines being cut off or demolished. As mayor, Achille Nicephore will establish the Helena Water Commission to ensure the security and functioning of the sewers, and rebuild the Helena Aqueduct. CITY DEVELOPMENT: It is clear that the future of Helena is in our expanding population of working people. Our city must be able to provide a growing population with the space necessary for their human dignity, while preserving the defensiveness of Manors: We cannot keep building a new manor each month for every new court favourite, until all of the Crown land is held by absentee nobility. As Lord Mayor, Achille Nicephore will work to pass initiatives that expand the city’s legal claims, and zone new land for agricultural and residential development. We will ensure land is left over to be fairly rented to working yeomen looking to live off the land. City Walls: If elected, Achille Nicephore will work to secure funding and materials for the expansion of the city walls, a project already underway by the Ministry of the Interior. With the help of the Livery Companies and the newly-minted Citizen Conservation Corps, completion of this project will be on the horizon. The Aqueduct: In the early days of our city, an aqueduct flowed over the bay to provide a source of clean water to our city. Now, like so many vital public works, it has been demolished. To vouchsafe the basic dignity of clean drinking water, we will rebuild the city aqueduct.
  4. Buck

    Buck News.

    You have waken up this morning with a buck news issue on your face. If you have a partner in bed, they also have their own on their face. Your window has been broken into with mud footprints in your house. Also, your cookie supply is gone.
  5. Good Canonist Lady Wanted This could be you with the wonderful Buck Dirtgrub! Apply today! Nice canonist lady wanted to court the wonderful Buck Dirtgrub Must be: Under the age of thirty (Negotiable) Able to hold a sword. Not use, just hold. Not uncomfortable with mud/dirt, or rolling around/bathing in said mud/dirt Able to drink olive oil in significant quantities Neither allergic to nor scared of: dogs, cats, rats, frogs, donkeys, mules, pigs, or any other miscellaneous pack animals or household pets Good with Children Able to cook, or eat food while raw. If you believe you fit these criteria, contact Katharina or Vorion Baruch now! ooc info:
  6. HIDDEN FANGS IN SELM A recollection of gruesome events, penned by Viktoriya-Marie Thérèse Adelaide Margaret Genevievé Helen Pruvia-Albarosa née Châteaudun. 1st of Horen’s Calling, 1776 T’was was a gloomy day in Helena, the clouds overhead burdened with rain. Imperial soldiers marched to & from the Bastille, patrolling their city with great endeavor. Cadet Viktoriya-Marie Pruvia & her husband, Sergeant Philip Pruvia were celebrating the former’s birth date while on patrol, when they, alongside their brethren, were called to the Assembly Point in the Bastille. “Comrades!” Cadet Augustus Helena called. ”The Wolf population in our surrounding woodland has skyrocketed – they’ve driven local game to near extinction, and our citizens to abandon their homes in fear they’ll be attacked. We must put a stop to this!” Alongside Augustus, Viktoriya, and Philip, Sergeant Jacquelyn Cenobia, Recruit Alistair Brashton, & Sergeant Matthias Stafford set out to the woods outside of the Barony of Selm, sabers in hand & crossbows cranked. As they advanced upon the territory, Sergeant Pruvia had begun to pick up tracks – that of a Dire Wolf’s. As they continued down the trail, the bodies of two Imperials had been uncovered, hidden in the thick undergrowth of the forest. When they had begun to drag them out, in order to identify & bury them, the great beast revealed itself, charging straight for Sergeant Cenobia, who’d taken the front of the patrol. Making quick work of the situation, she challenged it with her saber, while the rest of the patrol shot & shouted at the creature. With its tail between its legs, it fled: into Selm. The patrol perused the beast, until they came to a small opening in the ground – a Wolves’ Den. Bravely, they continued the chase, fueled with the determination to keep their Great City safe. The wolves inside the abandoned quarry often came in tens – feral and vicious, thirsting for blood & gore. Despite this, the Imperial Soldiers never gave way. Finally, after half an hour of fighting, they’d believed they had cleared the first floor. Yet . . . As they continued the onslaught, more & more seemed to pour into the room – fighting each individually proving to be as useless as chopping the head off a Hydra. It was then, they discovered, that there were tens of hundreds more below: and their resistance to the colony of canines became futile. Cleverly, Recruit Brashton suggested an explosion – a Molotov in his hand, aimed at the barrels of rum below. Cadet Helena gave the go-ahead, and after the other ISA had finished their shots at the wolves, Brashton threw the Cocktail. As it flew through the air, the bottom of the bottle had hit the edge of a stalactite, sending it off course – straight into the several barrels of alcohol below. Without much time to react, the patrol dove for cover. All except the brave Sergeant Cenobia & Cadet Pruvia escaped harm. Sergeant Cenobia was left with burns & a hefty chunk of wood lodged into her thigh, making it impossible to walk. Cadet Pruvia had suffered terrible burns & scrapes, along with a temporary loss of sight, hearing, and consciousness. After the explosion, the Dire Wolf revealed itself once more, a thirst for blood & vengeance for its brethren apparent in its gaze. It lunged for Sergeant Cenobia first, leaving an incredible chunk missing from her already-damaged leg. It then began to chase them out of its decimated home, now after the two Pruvians – Viktoriya narrowly escaping death’s maws as Sergeant Stafford vaulted out in front of the Cadet and began to slash at its eyes, driving it back, leaving just enough time for the rest to escape. Not long after, the patrol arrived at Stamya’s Hospital, in Helena. The Medics were quick to treat the two injured women, their conditions now as follows: SERGEANT JACQUELYN CENOBIA | Not in great condition ; Burns, scrapes, etc. have been treated ; The Dire Wolf Bite-Wood pole impalement wound was too serious to leave untreated. The Sergeant’s leg has been amputated, and the Medics highly suggest that Cenobia retires from the ISA. CADET VIKTORIYA-MARIE THERESE HELEN PRUVIA | In stable condition ; Burns, scrapes, etc. have been treated ; Burns covering upper half of body now left to heal, though will scar quite terribly ; Final verdict – Cadet Pruvia is fit to continue her service in the ISA Comrades, rivals, and all those in between – Join me in prayer that our fantastic Sergeant Cenobia returns to her family safe & well – and, that, should she be required to retire, be blessed with longevity and health. IN NOMINE DEI, Viktoriya-Marie Thérèse Adelaide Margaret Lorraine Genevievé Helen Pruvia-Albarosa, Chancellor of Culture
  7. MAYORAL ELECTION OF HELENA: 1776 – 1780 [!] Alongside Every Poster of Jermaine’s Campaign for Lord Mayor of Helena, there appears to be another smaller letter written on parchment nailed alongside every poster, written with quill ink and stamped with a large wax seal, it reads: “My Fellow Helenians, and by extent Orenians, I have written these letters each by hand to speak to each of you out there who desire change, those who wish to live in familiarity, and those who chose to remain impartial, I ask you now as you are, to look at yourselves, and to look amongst others in our streets what do you all share? A faith? A dream? An Empire? These are all true, but you share each other, we are together, If we were never meant to be all here in the most Glorious empire in Arcas then we would’ve all perished long ago, but it was the will of faith, No, The Will of GOD that keeps us together, binds us and holds us, it’s the sap that holds the tree together, without the sap, the tree will break in the wind, I want you to ask yourselves, Are you the tree that snaps and breaks in the wind? Or the Tree that holds itself together and stands strong in the heart of storm? You must understand that the Tree is Us, and the storm is the WAR, are we going to stand up strong against it, or are we going to break and fall? Even after the war, which it may be by the time you read this, our empire will be dealing with the repercussions of this Battle for years afterwards, If you want Helena and by extent the Empire to thrive and grow stronger, more powerful and wealthier than ever before, then I implore you to go out there, into the cold world and bring warmth with a vote for me, a vote for Jermaine. I will give you whatever I have during this time to help you out of the mess we’re all struggling through by the day, I promise the changes You all need for yourselves, yes every single one of you. Go in Providence my friends, Glory to the Empire.” - Jermaine – 1776. [!] Upon closer examination of the wax seal one would see that inscribed upon it, there are small letters reading “From The Desk of Jermaine.” There are also pen marks lining the edges of the note. GLORY TO OREN – 1776
  8. Vote Vorion A Maer That Cares A portrait of Vorion, made shortly after his return from the expedition to the ancient and mythical continent of Athera. WHAT WE WILL DO We will return Haense to prosperity, with streets filled with people, shops filled with goods, and hearts filled with joy! We will fill the calendar with well-organised, regular events to bring together the people of Haense after the strife, sweat, and toil we have faced throughout the whole Scyfling invasion. We will strive to reinforce and strengthen the great culture of Haense. We are a nation known for our arts, games, and traditions; together we will keep this love of our national identity strong ABOUT VORION Vorion ran the tavern in Haense for a decade, where it was bustling with activity every week Vorion delivered over 10,000 units of grain to the Volik refugees in their time of need, free of charge Vorion served among the soldiers of Haense, now moving to politics having received an injury serving his nation
  9. a crinkled up “news” paper as been thrown at your door
  10. Scribed in remembrance of those fallen in the defensive effort against the Scyfling forces. Geast I Ve Fitsker As the smoke clears and the casualties are counted, a lone fighter hangs high in the sky. His comrades gather their wounded and rest their lost, trekking along a beaten path to their home of New Reza. As they venture through the lush and lively Haeseni countryside the fighter follows along, shortly behind his brothers as they return to the walls of the city. The fighter hangs his head as he knows his time is up and he no longer can walk with his men, with one final look over New Reza he nods and makes his leave. The fighter retreats over the sky scraping Steel Hills and into the dense and quiet Wick Wood. He is at peace with what has come of him and knows it was for the better of his country and people. As the fighter slowly closes his eyes looking over the land he called home, one final thought fled his mind and escaped his lips in a soft mutter “Krusae Zwy Kongzem”. With this he was ready, his soul being claimed and returned to the Seven Skies. But behind he left, a single mortal possession. One he could not take with him and was forced to leave behind. Sojoernaal I Ve Fitsker The shouting begins and the screaming is heard, as the Haeseni holds their ground strong and true. A flood of Scyfling scum rushing out towards the stout walls of the Fort at Metterden, this would be the true test of strength. Javelin quickly flew overhead, shattering shields of the Crows one by one, sending ballista fire back in response. Their motive to take this land remains unclear to most, but this will not stop the men of gold and black as we fight until our last breath, and in response “Krause Zwy Kongzem” we shout until our voice cannot be heard any longer. We fight for the spirit of Haense and the protection of our heritage, this land gifted to us by Godani and protected by the soldiers of those who inherited it. It was not long though until the Scyfling horde began creeping in on the ravine that held our brave cavalrymen. They through everything at us, but we prevailed even lost in a daze of confusion and pain simply because the fight was not over. As javelin continued to fly towards the proud Haeseni men, we gave a constant fight back until the moment we break. Our men falling one by one and there was no telling how this would end, so what could we do but fight. My life before theres, I will not not this kingdom fall under some barbarian claiming this is his land. Bralt I pity you, thinking we will fall so easily. So hear this in fear “Krusae Zwy Kongzem”. Ser Siegmund Wick
  11. Hangman’s promise “Big Tony, Big Money.” - Big Tony My figureheads have grown quite the liking of the people of Haense, I even allowed them to teach the HRA a couple of things on the fields of war. I’ve been sending my prayers to up above ever since I got word about the war, blessing the blades of the Haensemen and cursing the arrows of the Suticans, hoping their projectiles would miss the throats of my comrades. Sadly enough, the leadership of the Orenian Empire did not have the sufficient funds to buy us out of the Sutican war. May my brothers coated in green watch my back as I take up the mantle of a leader in this war, may my friends from Haense toss their weapons to the side when I face them on the battlefield, for then they will be spared. Gold and glory, my comrades… gold and glory Once this contract is signed, my men will raise their blades alongside the poor folk of Sutica, who just want to protect their land. It saddens me, the biggest fish going after one of the weakest fish. The Agreement The Suticans: -The Sutican leadership will hand 70 000 minas to The Hangmen. (50% up front) -The Sutican leadership will hand The Hangmen a simple plot of land for when they are forced to move out of this realm. -If there is any way to spare The King of Haense and his people, an effort must be made to make sure that there will always be an option for the Haensemen to get out of the war, safely. The Hangmen: -The Hangmen will aid Sutica and their allies in any militairy exercises against the Holy Orenian Empire. -The Hangmen Keep will serve as an outpost for the forces of Sutica and their allies. -The Overseers of The Hangmen will lend Sutica all of their knowledge regarding waging war, becoming a part of the core of the leadership of the conflict. “I’m sorry, comrades of my people. coin comes first. May our paths never cross during these troubling times.” Signed,
  12. IMPERIAL TREASURY (IT) Est. Anno Domini 1732 PREFACE The Imperial Treasury, known alternatively as the Imperial Office of Finance, is the division responsible for all matters of a financial or logistic nature within the Holy Orenian Empire. The department also encompasses all warehouses, trade companies, and banks, placing each of these under the administration and oversight of the Imperial Treasurer and his department. THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY HIS IMPERIAL EXCELLENCY, PETER VICTOR SARKOZIC First & Fourth Secretary of State for the Treasury, c.1731 The duties and powers of the Imperial Secretary of the Treasury, as outlined in the Council of State Establishment Act, are listed below: The duty to maintain and monitor the Imperial Treasury, including all incomes and expenditures, and to draft a report of the budget on regular intervals. The duty to develop and draft the fiscal, excise and tax policy of the Empire, with consultation with the Council of State. The duty to collect tax and rent revenue from within the Crown’s direct dominions, and to ensure that these finances are delivered in full to the Imperial Treasury. The duty to collect, process and allocate resources and materials for use by other Imperial departments. The duty to uncover and report irregularities in financial gains or losses in the Empire and its subjects. The duty to oversee the collection of taxation revenue from within the greater Holy Orenian Empire, including the provinces. The power to inspect and audit the finances and stockpiles of all subsidiary entities to the Empire The power to staff his office, the Imperial Treasury, in such a way as to provide assistance in his duties. DEPARTMENT STAFF UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE TREASURY Isaac Ypsa The Underecretary of State for the Treasury is the second-in-command of the Imperial Treasury and the Secretary of the Treasury’s right-hand official, tasked with assisting the Secretary in its duties and filling in for it when Necessary. COMPTROLLER OF FINANCES George Casimir Sarkozic The Comptroller of Finance is the chief accountant of the Imperial Treasury and the Treasury’s auditor, charged with monitoring the Imperial ledger, overseeing audits, and supremely supervising the expenditures of the Empire. He is also a member of the Imperial Financial Advisory Committee. UNDERSECRETARY OF LABOR Alexander Joseph The Undersecretary of Labor is tasked with the management of the Imperial warehouses, ensuring that other Cabinet departments, the Imperial Free Cities, and the Imperial military are well-stocked with raw and processed materials. He is also tasked with the logistics of any other Imperial operations. UNDERSECRETARY OF TRADE Sylvester Voronov The Undersecretary of Trade works closely with not only the Treasury staff, but also the Department of Foreign Affairs, to establish state-owned domestic and foreign trade relations. Imperial markets, tariffs, and trade companies all fall under its purview. UNDERSECRETARY OF MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS Red Roger Carrington The Undersecretary of Municipal Affairs is tasked with the financial management of the Imperial Capital, ensuring compliance with Imperial finances law and verifying that the requested amount of their revenue streams reach the Imperial Treasury. WARDEN OF THE IMPERIAL RESERVE Sir Veikko Harjalainen The Warden of the Imperial Reserve is responsible for the upkeep of exactly that, the Imperial Reserve. 5%-10% of Imperial revenue is placed into the Reserve to guarantee the financial stability of the Holy Orenian Empire in times of crisis. In addition to these given prerogatives, the Warden is tasked with supporting the Imperial economy with a standard amount of wealth centered in raw resources and regulating it. SENIOR LEGAL COUNSEL VACANT The Senior Legal Counsel to the Treasury is tasked with upholding the Imperial code within the Treasury and ensuring all Treasury proceedings adhere by it. Additionally the Senior Legal Counsel is responsible for the legal defense of the Treasury, while working closely with the Judiciary but ancillary to the Solicitor-General at all times. It is appointed with the advice and consent of the Solicitor General. CITY CLERK OF HELENA Red Roger Carrington The City Clerk serves the distinct function of being a Liaison between the Municipal Government and the Departments of Treasury and the Interior. Appointed and Confirmed by the Secretary of the Treasury, the Clerk oversees the residential and commercial properties of the city and ensures all transactions occur properly and diligently. Among his tasks include creating and maintaining an updated ledger of all properties, appoint and oversee an active stewardry force within Helena, as well as set and collect taxes on all properties. He, along with the Lord Mayor, oversees construction and renovation works within Helena to ensure safety and proper housing for the citizenry. LABORER Reporting to the Undersecretary of Labor, laborers collect, process, and organize the materials that the Holy Orenian Empire needs for such matters as construction, defense, or land management. TREASURY AIDE Treasury Aide serves as a junior catch-all role for those inexperienced members of the Imperial Treasury, who assist the Secretary, Deputy Secretary, and Undersecretaries in administrative duties. This could mean drafting financial ledgers, collecting taxes, protecting treasury officials during excursions to foreign lands, or much more. STEWARDRY In tandem with oversight on the financial spendings of the Empire, the Treasury also facilitates the income and taxation seen within the capital of Helena, as well as various other vassals. The Stewardry subsection comprises the City Clerk, as well as all other stewards that operate beneath. The role of the stewardry is a broad one, encompassing the sale, maintenance, taxation and repossession of Helena’s residential and commercial property. THE IMPERIAL FINANCIAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE (IFAC) The Imperial Financial Advisory Committee is a group of Treasury officials, Imperial bureaucrats, and vassal stewards and treasurers, dedicated to setting financial policy throughout the Holy Orenian Empire. When the Secretary of the Treasury drafts new tax plans, trade agreements, and significant financial projects, the members of IFAC are usually the first to be consulted. CURRENT MEMBERS Secretary of the Treasury: Peter Victor Sarkozic Comptroller of Finances: George Casimir Sarkozic Warden of the Imperial Reserve: Sir Veikko Harjalainen City Clerk of Helena: Red Roger Carrington Province of Kaedrin: Anton Rovin II Province of Curon: Edmond Green Kingdom of Hanseti-Ruski: Hana Kovachev THE IMPERIAL RESERVE From within the halls of the Treasury, the Imperial Reserve serves as a repository for funds stored by the civil servants of the Holy Orenian Empire. Under the care of the Warden, money and resources allocated to the reserve can either be locked away for safe-keeping or distributed to one of the Imperium’s numerous bureaucratic agencies, or perhaps distributed for some miscellaneous purpose Furthermore, the Imperial Reserve functions as the Imperial regulator on the Orenian economy ensuring the stability and prosperity of the Empire. EMPLOYMENT The Imperial Treasury is always searching for additional employees to assist in its duties. Should one find themselves interested in upkeeping the financial engines of the Holy Orenian Empire, they should submit the attached application to the Treasury office in Helena: Employment under the Imperial Treasury boasts a range of both personal and professional benefits, TREASURY EMPLOYMENT APPLICATION Name: Age: Gender: Race: Position Applied For: Relevant Experience: Additional Notes: [[Username & Discord]]:
  13. Geast I Ve Fitsker As the smoke clears and the casualties are counted, a lone fighter hangs high in the sky. His comrades gather their wounded and rest their lost, trekking along a beaten path to their home of New Reza. As they venture through the lush and lively Haeseni countryside the fighter follows along, shortly behind his brothers as they return to the walls of the city. The fighter hangs his head as he knows his time is up and he no longer can walk with his men, with one final look over New Reza he nods and makes his leave. The fighter retreats over the sky scraping Steel Hills and into the dense and quiet Wick Wood. He is at peace with what has come of him and knows it was for the better of his country and people. As the fighter slowly closes his eyes looking over the land he called home, one final thought fled his mind and escaped his lips in a soft mutter “Krusae zwy Kongzem”. With this he was ready, his soul being claimed and returned to the Seven Skies. Ser Siegmund Wick
  14. AN OPEN LETTER TO THE CHURCH OF THE CANON As written by Osvald Anton Barclay 6th Godfrey’s Triumph, 1775 To His Holiness, High Pontiff James II and the wider Church of the Canon, I write this open letter as a concerned and unsure Canonist, seeking guidance. During the recent months, there has been an emergence of spectral beings, revealing themselves within all corners of Arcas. First, it was an unusual event, that had not been seen before for centuries, but then, more and more started to come forth from wherever they come from, appearing in Canonist lands, with supernatural powers. After some investigation done by myself, and brothers of the faith, we have come to the conclusion that these beings are a branch of the undead, returning from the grave, attempting to seemingly subvert God’s creation of mortality. While I have been fervent in my attempts to make these Undead depart from our local settlements, not many people who style themselves as Canonists seem to partake in this action. In fact, many people seem to be trying to normalise the sudden appearance, talking, interacting and accepting the undead among their ranks. I have seen this within Hanseti-Ruska, and I have seen it within the city of Helena. This has raised great concerns within me, as it is my belief that the faithful should not try to subvert God, and his creation with something unnatural. Yet I do not know the stance of the Church on this, and seek guidance. As a Canonist, what should I do, that is right and moral in the eyes of God, should these Undead remain haunting our lands, or should they remain to run amok? These times are trivial, and the Canonist world needs guidance, so I humbly ask for clarification in the stance that I must take, for any man must bow before God. Osvald Anton Barclay
  15. Heavy rain, thunder, neighing, the stifled thudding of hooves skipping along a blanket of fallen leaves. The duo of riders galloped fast through the ongoing storm. The rain, made worse by a harsh gale, would have any other passerby seek shelter at the nearest inn, wait out the downpour with a bellyful of mashed potatoes and thick gravy with a warm hearth for the feet. And for that reason precisely the pair decided to ride this night. They came upon a large clearing, the wet grass glistening under the full moon’s light, which gleamed even through the thick gloomy clouds, distant overhead. The moonlight made it suitable enough to see one’s track, but also dim enough to allow one to hide in the wood’s thicket, relatively undetected. However, there was no time to gawk. The foremost rider stood up on his stirrups, eyes keenly peering towards the center of the meadow, where several large willows and bushes protruded. He then skimmed through the border of the clearing at the opposite side, shifted back to his saddle and the pair continued uphill, towards the group of trees. The wet mud made their way messy, but they made it through to the copse. They came to a synchronized halt and the second rider whistled, like a cricket, loud enough to not be stifled by the storm’s teem. Each laid a hand on their scabbard, and for a few seconds all they could hear was the rain and their own cold, nervous breaths. A similar whistle then answered. They gave each other a reassuring nod and trotted inside. The copse’s overgrowth was not enough to block all the rain - the drops still sliced through the leaves at the top, but it offered a secluded atmosphere. Before them was a wagon, covered by a grey blanket, raindrops sliding off of it. Under it stood two men, hoods covering their faces - yet given the circumstance, were just as nervous. “You tardied another minute, we’d have frozen!” rasped the irritated wagoner, then nudged and overtaken by his accomplice. “We’s got it here, all is well.” he turned around and lifted a bit of the tarpaulin. “This arsenal’s been through many hands, goodman. They say a pair of officers nicked it in the chaos of some attempted coup at Kaedrin.” he eludicated, eyes trailing to the two horsemen with a sly smile. “Oh, Ja, Ich know zhese intricacies of yesteryear all-too-well.” replied one of them with a visibly greying beard. The combination of his thick accent and a miniscule yellow-and-black checkered shield hanging from his right shoulder made his ancestry obvious. “Lieberman.” he shot his confrere a courteous nod and the two dismounted and bore closer to the wagon. Lieberman produced a heavy coin pouch from his belt, fiddling with it in his hand. The merchant’s grin plastered onto him like a statue, eyes almost balefuly following it. The first rider, Martin, ungloved his right and ran a hand through the cold metal of a sword. In his finger was a large, shimmering golden ring. Saint Robert’s. They examined the arms with clicking tongues, scrutinizing the weaponry closely, and Lieberman remarked calmly, “You are not lying, friend. These are Kaedreni-made indeed.” He extended the pouch to the merchant, yet following a reluctant moment, he withdrew. “We will pay when we part ways, actually. Let us keep this promise amicably, in goodwill.” he commented. The merchant glowered, growled and then rasped. “Fine. We’s lead the cart, though.” he added with a frown, clicking his tongue and then he and the wagoner climbed the transport. Martin and Lieberman mounted their steeds. The cavalcade left to the clearing, then to the causeway, and back the way they came. The riders’ hands still clenched their scabbards. DIE HEUSSTANDARTE KOMPANIE THE HEUSSEN REGIMENT 7th of Owyn’s Light, 1772 MISSION The Heusstandarte is a band of Waldeno-Kaedreni freelancers and sellswords who found themselves bereft of a home in wake of the thirty-year-long war of Nordling Aggression. Clad in full sombre tinted steel, the core of the Heussen company are a heavy shock cavalry, having mastered equestrian combat in a renditioned fashion of their contemporary and distant ancestors. Upholders of the Vander code, the company maintains a strict disciplinary ethic and vow to earn their keep by cross and lance alike. CONTRACTS The Heusstandarte company excels in a variety of duties, be they combative or conciliatory, to any presentable contractor. A decorated past experience of commando work amongst the company’s senior members and a thorough proficiency in law (accredited in large thanks to the company’s private business attorney, Tomas B. Fitzgerald Esq.) comes to ensure an incontrovertibly professional commitment in any contract. Among the company’s fields of expertise are namely garrisoning and police work, the conducting of causeway checkpoints, patrols and scouting, construction of fortifications befitting Kaedreni siege-masters, custody of persons (penal or otherwise) as well as wartime security, offense and foray depredation. Prices vary depending on circumstance, and may be privately negotiated with the company’s legist. RANK STRUCTURE Commandant (Commander) The de jure head of the Company, the commander maintains incontrovertible ultimatum in affairs both civil and martial, as well as ratifies contracts, promotions and military decisions. Currently Martin Heusmann [@Trenchist]. Oberhauptmann (Chief Captain) The commander’s second-hand, he sees to the execution of orders and assignment of duties to his lieutenants, as well as the readiness of arms, armor and victuals. Hauptmann* (Captain) These chief officers correspond directly to the Oberhauptmann and administer their respective specialised units. By their advice enlisted may rise the ranks but also receive punishment. As well as in charge of recruitment, a captain’s guiding principle is discipline and his conduct must fully reflect it. Current Haupt Johann Betzler [@Pokantu1] and Friedrich Müller [@Semihilyus]. Sergeant* Battle-tested and seasoned soldiers, these wield the whip of discipline as well as the standard. By their nous they see to the indoctrination of recruits and are entrusted with maintaining the company’s esprit de corps. In addition, Sergeants may be assigned specialized duties by their captains, such as drillmaster, horsemaster, head scout, liaison officer and so on. Corporal Exemplary soldiers with whom lies the responsibility of enacting their seniors’ commands, they thus wield mild officer power between soldats and recruits and may, voluntarily, be assigned to a sergeant - in order to learn his specialization in preparation for their own. Soldat The most numerous of rank in the company, these riders have been drilled thoroughly yet do not yet possess battle prowess. Although their pay is meager, it is in this rank that soldiers are expected to exhibit discipline and talent for future promotion. Recruit Yet to be sifted by body and spirit, these new additions to the company must pass through training and indoctrination of the equine field before they may earn their keep. RECRUITMENT Should any able bodied man seek enlistment in the company, they ought to further a notice to the company’s address. In advance, however, it is recommended to ensure one’s eligibility or face rejection. In our age’s zeitgeist, the company is deemed strict in its required preconditions, which follow; One must be of full Human lineage. One must profess the Canonist Faith. One must be of the male gender. One must be disabused from degenerate vices and their connotations. Full name: Age: Experience: Ethnicity: [OOC] Username: [OOC] Discord:
  16. A VOICE FOR HAENSE Vote Lukas Rakoczy, 1774 A Fresh Face A newcomer to campaigning, Lukas has always taken an active role in the politics of the Empire. From attending campaign rallies to encouraging citizens to vote, he has bore witness to the rise of many Haeseni greats: Terrence May, Sir Konrad Stafyr. These great men have spent decades fighting for Haense in the Imperial Diet, but the time has come for a newer generation to take up the torch of leadership. A vote for Lukas is an investment in the next generation of leadership, one which will take Haense and the Empire to never-before-seen heights. Primary Issues A vote for Lukas guarantees focus in the following areas: Provincial Rights: Lukas Rakoczy SHALL work with provincial governments and the Imperial government to properly define the rights and obligations of provinces and royal vassals, a relationship which has always been problematically murky. In doing so, this shall allow for greater efficient internal governance, more government work in the provinces and greater political unity; Budget Balancing: Lukas Rakoczy SHALL work to balance the Imperial budget and cut unnecessary spending to halt the current push for increased taxation, instead obliging the Treasury to minimize their own spending before imposing additional taxes upon the hard-working people of our Empire; Haeseni Recovery: Lukas Rakoczy SHALL liaise closely with the Aulic Government of Hanseti-Ruska and the House of Commons to ensure the Kingdom of Hanseti-Ruska recovers quickly from the devastating Scyfling invasion by providing economic reliefs and aids to the lands most damaged and a naval initiative to rebuild the destroyed Haeseni fleet to secure our northern sea-borders; Employment: Lukas Rakoczy SHALL work to support non-governmental organizations (such as the Northern Geographical Society) in the advancement of science and to provide employment for the citizens of the Empire. VOTE LUKAS RAKOCZY | VOTE JOSEPHITE The Josephite Union For the Dignity of All Vote 2 Konstantin Wick Vote 3 Angelika Bykov
  17. TYING THE NOOSE “Don’t expect a crippled man to walk the walk, but ask him anyways.” - Big Tony 1774 One of the figureheads of The Hangmen has recently approached me to talk about the spreading of false information by the Heusstandarte bandit group, i’d like to shine some light on the matter publicly, to be 100% transparent with everyone reading this. There is a reason why people often see the uniform of our own company in most of the human cities, it’s because we have nothing to hide. No bandits. No outcasts. No criminals. On the other side, there is also a reason why people rarely see members of the Heusstandarte Company outside of their keep, unless it’s on the roads. They have recently been capturing people from some of the southern nations and claiming they were members of my company. If you don’t believe our side, read up on their latest missives, not once will you find a name that could trace back to The Hangmen. A move only the most dishonorable of sellswords would make, like signing a contract to slay someone... but instead you kill someone else and claim you’re victorious once more. Moves like this is what gives your company a horrible name. You’re painting yourselves as bandits. You’re forcing yourself to be locked away from society, hiding like rodents in a castle with walls made from stolen goods. You’re incriminating yourselves with your missives. I’m glad to know that my plans are working as expected, as it is not hard to think further than plunderers. Like a dog forced into a corner, they only see a single way out, barking and biting. This is the part that doesn’t make sense in my eyes, i could respect them a bit if only they also did the biting. ONCE have they met us on the field, a completely fair fight, same amount of men and after a single defeat they’re hiding like rodents. I wouldn’t be me if i wasn’t as merciful of a man, so i’ll offer them a way to restore their honor. Start biting back. I expected that cleaning the roads would be a dangerous task, but it feels like my men are simply clearing a table lacking sharp objects. You have 1 Saint’s Day to contact one of my men so we can meet on the fields, so you can finally prove that you’re more than a group of people that noone else wanted. There’s nothing wrong with putting up a show, but after lying to the public … the curtains must close and you must entertain in another way. I’ll see you on the other side of the battlefield, don’t disappoint the crowd. Kind regards, The Hangman
  18. BANDITS’ BLOOD 5th of Godfrey’s Triumph, 1774 “They defy the laws of man, the laws of God. They live by no code, by regard to naught. In their lexicon, there is no jurisprudence. They are a specie that will never be civilized, a specie never meant to live in civilization. We shan’t stoop to their barbarism, ney, we exploit it.” Lieutenant Dniester Chauvin on the Hangmen ilk. A Heussen assault detachment (left) and attorney Thomas Bernt Fitzgerald Esq (right). The renegade highwaymen’s band dubbed the Hangmen have as of late published a double-notice wherein, among balderbash and calumny, they have took on to begging for injury against the Heusstandarte company. As in a cur or a child’s callow excitement, or perhaps out of desperation, they assemble cutthroats, bandits, deserters and other scoundrels from every forsaken corner of the realm, in an effort to bolster their numbers, their force, to have a chance in stepping up to the Heussens’ valiant soldiery. Their efforts prove futile, however, for when a highwayman’s wit equates the wit of a stray dog, when the only unifying principle is criminality and the only motive is the thirst for blood, the answer is indivertibly; blood. Bandits’ blood. Unnamed tribal elf, Hangmen auxiliary, sentenced to death by hanging following a successful hunt. Ave Heusmann + GOTT MIT UNS!
  19. Hangman’s Wish “We dirty our hands so the roads can be clean.” – Fahad The Figurehead 1774 The wonderful paths of Arcas lay tainted once more. the Reivers, the greatest and most dangerous of bandits have vanished from the face of our realm but this doesn’t mean the roads are safe once more. The Heusstandarte Company has made it unsafe to travel between the wonderful cities of the Holy Orenian Empire. Let it be known, from now on, The Heusstandarte Company will bleed. The Hangmen will do everything in their power to vanquish these bandits. We won’t stop until every single one of them is laid to rest. Ready the nooses, our first simple battle has been won, but there is a war on the horizon. A war against the villainous scum that call themselves “”Mercenaries””. Don’t be fooled, my comrades, they are no better than thieves. Signed, The Hangman
  20. WARDEN’S NOTICE OF DISSOLUTION: Sentinels of Malin 20th of the First Seed, 1773 Lye elkarin’ento adont Malin narn elamean marn’oem Pursuant to the delegations of the esteemed Council of Lords and the honored Annilir of Tor Eldar, the Pale of Aldemar sees fit to dissolve its state-funded, ineffective military force, presently dubbed the Sentinels of Malin. Hence, this martial body is to be dissolved and subsumed by the martial company of the seated and serene House Laraethryn. Under direct command and banner of the incumbent Warden of the Pale, Keledan Laraethryn, the aforementioned company shall effectively be the established militant arm of Tor Eldar and the Pale of Aldemar, subject to the law of its host state and the governing body therein. Effective immediately, this decree entails the legitimacy of the following mandates: The soldierly retinue of the seated and serene House Laraethryn will henceforth be tasked with the protection and enforcement of the law within the jurisdiction of the Pale of Aldemar, wielding the authority necessary as granted unto them by the Warden of the Pale of Aldemar. The soldierly retinue of the seated and serene House Laraethryn will henceforth be tasked with the organization, operation, and maintenance of all martial endeavors undertaken by the Pale of the Aldemar, wielding the authority necessary as granted unto them by the Warden of the Pale of Aldemar. Pursuant to this decree, all Eldari seeking transfer from the dissolved Sentinels of Malin must contact the honored Annilir, Alayris Laraethryn. ((Werew0lf#0506)) As decreed by the Warden of the Pale of Aldemar, Maruthir Keledan Laraethryn, Warden of the Pale of the Aldemar Highguard Alayris Laraethryn, Annilir The Black Dragon of Caledor, the crest of the House of Laraethryn WARDEN’S NOTICE OF ASSEMBLY: The Eldarhim Ranger Corps 20th of the First Seed, 1773 Preamble: The Eldarhim Ranger Corps, colloquially the Eldarhim, are the militant body of the Pale of Aldemar, operating from within the resplendent city of Tor Eldar. Born of the dissolution of the Sentinels of Malin, the soldierly-company of the Eldarhim is composed of the loyal retainers of the House of Laraethryn and those few sentinels yet eager to spill blood in the defense of their home. Skilled pathfinders and survivalists, the Eldarhim are masters of their domain, having become one with the land and the blades and bows they raise against their enemies. Under direct control of the Warden of the Pale, they are the strong right-arm of the state, tasked with the safekeeping of the Pale and the onerous duty of upholding law. Table of contents: Section I: Induction Section II: Oath Section III: Decorum Section IV: Structure Section I: INDUCTION ________________________________________________________________________________________ The Eldarhim, funded and maintained by and for the House of Laraethryn, is a force not to be reckoned with. A collective of elves and men under the command of the Warden of the Pale of Aldemar, they are forever expected to endure rigorous training that shall mould them into efficient, ethical soldiers and citizens of Tor Eldar. To climb the rank and file of the Eldarhim, one must first display the discipline necessary to complete the difficult trials that await -- upon completion of said trials, the individual shall be inducted as an oathed ranger of the Eldarhim and be given their ruby brooch of acknowledgement. Unoathed rangers must work for their uniform, and as trainees, will go through the most basic of training. The initial training will mould their character, instill unto them the respect demanded from soldiers of the Warden of the Pale of Aldemar, and strengthen their skills and qualities, that they might become assets in the line of defense of Tor Eldar and the House of Laraethryn. This training regime will include: expeditions outside of imperial lands, mock skirmishes, monster-hunting, sword mastery, archery training, navigation and mapping skills, and lectures on the history and culture of the Pale of Aldemar. ...An Eldarhim with a drawn bow, ready to loose their arrow upon Tor Eldar’s foes... Section II: OATH ________________________________________________________________________________________ When the time comes that a ranger-captain believes an unoathed ranger has satisfied their training, they will be granted ceremonial audience with the Warden of the Pale so that they might swear themselves unto him and to the fair city they serve. To ascend to the rank and file of the officer corps, a ranger must be referred by an actively serving ranger-captain, who will direct the aspiring officer to the Highguard of the Eldarhim for specialized training and induction. “I, _________, do solemnly swear by the might of Malin and the venerable Warden of the Pale of Aldemar, that I shall bear the weight of the mantle of elvendom and safeguard the legacy of Malin against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I shall have faith in and allegiance to the same; that I will never falter in my duties and obligations as Eldarhim; that I will give my life in exchange for this unity and serenity; and that I will obey the command of the Warden of the Pale of Aldemar and the Highguard appointed to me so that order and justice will forever follow in the wake of the Eldari; this I swear and shall hold to my heart; that which is demanded of me shall be done, from now until the day of my release from this oath.” ...Eldarhim trackers interrogate a poacher in the woodlands of the Pale... Section III: DECORUM ________________________________________________________________________________________ The Eldarhim are expected to maintain a certain standard of excellence during their service under the Warden of the Pale of Aldemar and the House of Laraethryn. In observation of this, the decorum of the Eldharim is strictly drilled. The customs and courtesies displayed in the presence of a superior exemplify gratitude and grant merit to the efficiency and character of the elite company of rangers. This entails rigid professionality, both during and outside of service. Failure to obey the outlined decorum will result in punishment befitting the facetious and immature -- thus, the culture, customs and courtesies expected from the Eldarhim are thoroughly instilled unto them through training and routine. Forms of address: All Eldarhim are to address their peers by their appropriate title and are expected to show the same respect to one another in and outside of service. Words of enmity, disrespect, or insubordination are in grave error; even the most senior Eldarhim shall receive severe punishment. All individuals must adhere to the structured decorum below. “Karin/Ker’ayla, honored Highguard/Captain” suffices as an appropriate addressal of a commanding officer. “Karin/Ker’ayla, Alayris” does not suffice as an appropriate addressal. One must be certain to address an officer by their rank, so as to show respect and acknowledge their authority. “Karin/Ker’ayla, Ranger/Trainee” suffices as an appropriate addressal for any rank beneath the authority of an Eldarhim captain. “Mar’karin/ker’ayla, Lord/Lady (surname)” suffices as an appropriate addressal of Eldari councilors and courtiers. When addressing the lords and ladies of Tor Eldar, the intensifier mar- is always added. When departing the presence of a superior, Eldarhim must always cite “Lye vira’n adont ito”, which translates from the elven tongue to, “We wait with vigilance.” Uniforms will be provided to each Eldarhim, issued by rank. Each variant of the Eldarhim uniform bears a different stripe upon their cape to signify the rank they bear. Uniforms must be worn at all times -- both while on-duty and when representing the Eldarhim in any capacity. The Outfittings of the Eldarhim ...An Eldarhim ranger plays his lute in the aftermath of a Nordling incursion... Section IV: STRUCTURE Below entails the structure and ranking of the Eldarhim: ________________________________________________________________________________________ Command Highguard of the Eldarhim: Currently held by the honored Annilir of Tor Eldar, Alayris Laraethryn, the Highguard is appointed by the Warden of the Pale of Aldemar to the Eldarhim as commander of their company. Seated upon the Council of Stewards and privileged by inclusion in the Warden’s court, the Highguard of the Eldarhim is tasked with the administration of the company, strategy, communication with foreign bodies, the establishment training routines, and the general stewardship of Tor Eldar’s military faculties. Excluding direct intervention by the Warden, the Highguard of the Eldarhim is the sole individual responsible for the appointment of officers in the Eldarhim, directing them in matters pertaining to training and special projects. As the highest ranking member of the Eldarhim, the Highguard demands respect and wields great authority. Officer Corps Ranger-Captain: Upon the recommendation of an existing officer and by the grace of the Highguard, an Eldarhim may undergo training to become an officer themselves. Eldarhim ranger-captains are focal leaders who see to the training of their fellows, maintain quality amongst their peers, and lead rangers in battle, occasionally assisting the Highguard when they see fit to seek insight from their officers. Eldarhim ranger-captains are expected to present excellence, and thus are deserving of the respect of their peers. Ranger Corps Eldarhim Rangers: Rangers are oathed members of the Eldarhim, tasked to serve under the Warden of the Pale of Aldemar to ensure his safety and the safety of those that please him. Their duties also include maintaining the justice of Tor Eldar’s codex and the imperial law that is subjected upon the Pale. Rangers are empowered to conduct lawful arrests, disperse crowds, use lethal force in the defense of Tor Eldar, and investigate crime. Eldarhim Grunts: Eldarhim grunts, also called trainees, are members of the Eldarhim who have joined fresh off the boat. They are unoathed and have yet to be provided the suitable uniform of a ranger. Trainees are expected to live within Tor Eldar for two weeks and undergo training on military law, authority, and the cultures of both House Laraethryn and the Pale of Aldemar. During their training, many skills and qualities will be drawn out from the recruits, before they are oathed as true rangers. Grunts do not have any power outside of training unless specifically granted to them by a superior, limited to the singular task they are commanded to fulfill. ((Apply below and contact Werew0lf#0506 or Malaise#1701 on Discord if you would like to join the Eldarhim)) Username?: Name?: Age?: Race?: Are you a citizen of Tor Eldar?: Discord?:
  21. Response from the Royal Ministry 9th of Vzmey and Hyff, 327ES Penned and Issued by His Excellency, the Lord Palatine of Haense Petyr Baruch In an effort to adhere to newly instituted and practiced policies for the acquiring of new land, the Crown of Haense hereby dignifies: The newly reacquired region of Rubern is to be governed by the Crown of Haense and may be split up as they deem fit between the Count of Leuven and the House of Alimar, with the advisory opinion of the House of Lords. This region shall thus forth be referred to as the Midland Steppe. The House of Alimar will retain the titular title Grand Prince of Muldav, as per the protection granted to them in the Titular Title Creation Prohibition Act of 1728, which states “The cadets of the royal houses of those kingdoms within the Holy Orenian Empire” can be “styled as deemed fit by the patriarch”. A. Titular title refers to a title that has no land or territory associated with it, therefore there may be no land named or referred to as Muldav. The Baruch Ministry reaffirms the Royal Decree of 322ES and the Oren Revised Code, the latter of which states within CH 702.02 that “The privilege to hold landed secular peerage appertaining to their estates within the Imperial State, the created nature of peerage conveyed through Imperial Letters, issued singularly by the discretion of the sovereign”, but that “deeds of [land] which are entitled to a peerage shall not be granted or altered so as to cause a loss to the owner” — in this case the King — unless consented to, as according to the Peerage and Property Edict of 1768. The Baruch Ministry recognizes the recommendation of the House of Lords for the distribution of land within the Midland Steppe. It shall be taken into account when distributing the land in the region. His Majesty deems it fit that the majority of the region will be made into a national park and memorial to honor the lives lost during the AIS War of Aggression. The Lord Palatine Petyr Baruch does hereby personally apologize to the Imperial Administration for the attempted landing of Muldav without utilizing the processes set in place according to the Edict of Reform. More specifically, he apologizes for the inappropriate public and distasteful denouncement of the House of Lords at Haeseni court, which indirectly also besmirched the honour of His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor. The Office of the Palatine recognizes the mistakes made by the administration and is prepared to take full responsibility for the consequences of said actions committed by the Crown. IV JOVEO MAAN, His Excellency, Petyr Baruch, the Lord Palatine of Hanseti-Ruska
  22. HEROES ON ROAD The Hangmen 5th of the Owyn’s Flame, 1774 The serene roads of Arcas lay dormant as the glistening of the night sky dawned over, the roads stray from dangerous. With prestige, did the mercenaries of the Hangman protect the Orenian roads from the lurking dangers of vagabonds and other norlandic threats, though there came a time where peace was broken. A band of waldenian bandits from the fort nearest to Fenn marched down the crossroads between the Silver State, Urguan and Helena -- standing with a hefty rally of men in hopes of pocketing some loot. Eventually, the bandits came across a mercenary soldier of the Hangmen -- only one. A halfling of black skin, staring up at the jesters of the street, honking their red-noses as circus-freaks. Demanding for loot, the black halfling turned to flee, outspeeding the bulky waldenian bandits, many toppling over on the road, tripping and losing track of the halfling -- this was their first mistake, and their last. The halfling rushed into the mighty fortress of the Hangmen, panting for dear life. He turned to face the mighty Hangman -- Big Tony. A bulky figure with a mighty moustache, he looked onwards, ire erupting through his pupils, as he rallied a skillful force in similar size to the vagabonds -- though did size matter when outmatching the waldenian-fleepers? Ne, it was skill that ruled over the battle to come. Both sides met on orenian-soil, the mercenaries of Hangmen prepared to defend the denizens of Arcas -- and the bandits of Heusstandarte ready to die. The battle ensued -- the frail commander of Heusstandarte attempting to flee before the battle began, as the leaders of the Hangmen: Big Tony and Heahmund Bren charged into battle! Was it a close battle? No! The mercenaries of Hangmen demolished the rally of Heusstandarte, slaying their brethren, capturing the bandits, and even hanging some on the front of the mighty fortress. Big Tony, now covered in blood, and the Sugarfoot prior -- they stood over the corpses of the petty vagabonds of Heusstandarte with a victorious smile. On this day, the Hangmen had lost nobody. Not one soldier. And the bandits of Heusstandarte? They had lost everybody. “If you want, we could hang out after the fight” – Big Tony as he posed with the bandits before and after the fight.
  23. THE BROTHERHOOD OF SAINT KARL VE OROENIR SANT KARLEO His Majesty’s Arm of Strength “Should we falter our shield turns to ash, but we shall not falter.” BACKGROUND Founded in 1678 by King Sigmar I (r. 1670-1681), the Brotherhood of Saint Karl began with the merging of the levies of the great Houses of the Kingdom of Hanseti-Ruska. Throughout its duration as the central military force of the Crown, the Brotherhood has been guided by its longstanding tradition of fostering unity, strength, and justice to those sworn to its ranks. Bound by oath and fraternity, the Brotherhood of Saint Karl stood among the preeminent human martial forces during some of humanity’s most trying times. Under the leadership of then Lord Marshal Rhys var Ruthern, the Brotherhood of Saint Karl was the primary bulwark against the Vaeyl Order: an undead army stationed at the far southern castle of Last Hope. Besides guarding the realms of men, elves, and dwarves, the Brotherhood functioned also as a domestic peacekeeping force. With its formation in times of great strife, the Brotherhood of Saint Karl has stood poised in answering the call of the challenges of its time. Founded under the patronage and namesake of Saint Karl Barbanov, the Brotherhood espouses the affinities of this saint: strength, courage, and for the intentions of soldiers. Saint Karl was an instrumental figure in the history of Haense, considered its founder who lived over two centuries ago. It is said that whilst in battle, Saint Karl was struck down and at the verge of death before seeking divine providence and being endowed strength to rise and lead his men to victory. At this act, he vowed to consecrate his life in the name of GOD and formed the foundation of Haeseni civilization as a testament to the blessings of the Seven Skies. In 1564, High Pontiff Theodosius I canonized Duke Karl Barbanov as the patron saint of strength. His name honored the first capital of the newly formed Kingdom of Hanseti-Ruska in 1578, City of Saint Karlsburg. The Brotherhood of Saint Karl honors the tradition and legacy of Karl Barbanov by espousing the values of the saint into those who pledge to serve the kingdom. Those called to the Crown’s service reflect the stalwart values and cultures of the Highlander people, a sense of fraternity and unity for the defense of those who wish to do harm. An artist’s rendition of King Sigmar’s charge at the Battle of Three Hills, c. 1678 During the of the Battle of the Three Hills, marked by the terrain upon which the conflict ensued, King Sigmar I led his levy company composed of levies of the vassalage. As they advanced the stout keep that rested atop the ledge between the three hills, they were met with a barrage of archer fire, causing the formation to diverge. The king himself was separated from his main levy and forced to fallback behind the base of the southernmost hill. With the forces now split, King Sigmar was to make his choice: charge with his remaining force or recall his forces back. Echoing the hardships of battle and strength, King Sigmar called upon the patronage of his ancestor, Saint Karl, and entrusted his plight to the saint of strength. The army chaplain, Fr. Anselm Gerhard recalled that day when the king saw the countenance of Saint Karl upon the sides of the three hills, each bearing a sword with a crow resting upon the blade. He took that as a sign of courage and strength to maintain his position and against great odds, the Haeseni troops overwhelmed the fortified southern hill. Not long after, their advance of the second hill was met with heavy fire but by midday, the keep had been driven out by King Sigmar’s charge with the colors of Haense flying triumphant along the keep’s facade. During the procession back to Markev, the soldiers were met with great mirth at their victory. Upon the roof of the main gate, the crow that King Sigmar saw in the field of battle sat upon the crenellations of the wall and flew off as the king entered the city. When King Sigmar called his war council together at the Krepost Palace, he spoke of a charter to consecrate the levies under the patronage of the Saint who had given him a sign of victory at the battle. King Sigmar took his victory as a form of humility by GOD to devote Haense’s forces to Saint Karl. In close collaboration with the levies of the great houses of Haense such as Ruthern, Stafyr, Enthelor, Vanir, and Baruch, the foundation of the Brotherhood was formed as a central Haeseni force, branded to serve GOD, king, and kingdom. THE WAR WITH THE VAEYL ORDER (1681-1692) A drawing of soldiers of the Vaeyl Order, taken from Ser Geralt Rauen’s journal, c. 1650 Threats of the Vaeyl surrounded the southmarch since the early years of King Otto III (r. 1643-1655) but were largely dismissed as fictitious folktale. The first reported sighting occurred in 1650, when woodsmen in the Wickwood reported seeing a skeletal horseman observing their work. Thinking of this as nothing more than superstition and in order to quell the fears of the peasantry, King Otto III sent a small patrol to the South under Commandant Ser Geralt Rauen with orders to repel the “undead threat”. This group of men instead discovered the ruined fortress of Last Hope, one of the main strongholds of the Vaeyl Order, though this was unknown at the time. These men came under attack, and many were killed in the ensuing ambush. Upon the survivors’ return to Markev, they were given strict orders by King Otto III to report their brothers’ deaths as being caused by the cold of the bitter winter so as to avoid causing mass hysteria. As a result, the Kingdom’s focus shifted instead turned to the War of the Czena and the Vaeyl were largely forgotten about for many years. However, as alarming reports throughout the latter 1600s merited great concern for the Kingdom of Hanseti-Ruska, whose geography was primarily threatened by any breaches of the southern wall. The Brotherhood of Saint Karl was quickly tasked by the Crown to mobilize its ranks and prepare for the threats upon the Atlassian continent. The first engagement of the Brotherhood with the Vaeyl occurred in 1681, when an expeditionary force led by Lord Marshal Rhys trekked through the Yatl Wastelands in the far south. Roughly 500 brothers traversed toward the south after reports of the Vaeyl Order’s activity were made known to the court of King Sigmar. Upon their arrival, the Brotherhood was met with a powerful blizzard that claimed the lives of almost a third of their regiment. When the soldiers arrived, they established a fortification at Nekristadt, where they were joined with Imperial knights. The combined human garrison swiftly began defenses in anticipation of the Vaeyl Order’s impending advance. A lone Red Vaeyl soldier approached the gate of Nekristadt and offered peace in exchange for the human forces to surrender. However, the Brotherhood and the Imperial knights declined as they drew their swords and executed the emissary. Soon thereafter, Red Vaeyl soldiers began to scale the northern wall of Nekristadt. Haeseni archers attempted to keep them at bay as the battle consumed the entirety of the night. As day broke, the Red Vaeyl Order suddenly breached the main gate, ushering in hundreds of the enemy forces into the courtyard. The Brotherhood and the Imperial Knights were reinforced by a regiment of Imperial troops led by the Grand Marshal Ser Roland and were able to outflank and overrun the Vaeyl Order’s formation towards the lake. In the aftermath of the battle, the Brotherhood was tasked by the Imperial Grand Marshal to establish a permanent settlement and fortification to counter succeeding invasions from beyond the southern wall. In 1691, after successful campaigns against the Red Vaeyl Order, Commandant Rhys var Ruthern led the Brotherhood of Saint Karl in concluding the final stages of what amounted to a decade-long conflict. The Siege of Last Hope solidified the Brotherhood of Saint Karl as the preeminent bulwark against the threat that had loomed over the entire continent of Atlas for over half a century. As the Brotherhood trekked toward the south to advance into another excursion to repel the Vaeyl Order’s presence from Atlas, the Brotherhood had experienced great success. Before the battle, Ferdinand Karl offered a prayer on behalf of the men in which before donning their helmets, they saw a Crow perched atop a stone, a sign that the Kingdom of Haense would emerge victorious over the bases of the Vaeyl at Last Hope. TRADITIONS Since the Brotherhood of Saint Karl is devoted to the saint that bears its name, it is typical for the chaplain or an officer to be delegated the task to lead in prayer prior to battle. The Brotherhood is heavily rooted in the Church of the Canon, and as such, maintains staunch traditions of faith. Prayer is begun in New Marian, beginning with the phrase ‘Iv Joveo Maan ag Koeng’ before beginning the intentions. Soldiers typically light three candles surrounding a figurine of Saint Karl Barbanov to represent three petitions: strength, courage, and prudence. Followed by prayer, the Brotherhood marches together to the tomb of kings and offers a moment to honor the liege lords of the realm. The tradition concludes with a final petition to Exalted Siegmund to lead the devoted Highlandic warriors to victory with the insight and arm of the Seven Skies’ Exalted. OATH ‘To my left I see my fellow brothers, to the right I see the same. For all in the world, we fight for the peace of this land. Through God, he gave us stewardship of the realm. Through stewardship, we gained the knowledge of diligence and prudence. Through diligence, we may conquer all without fault. And if I should falter in my course, send me never to the skies above. If I should succeed, bestow unto me His blessings, forevermore. For, now I march into a valley through which there is no path. And the stones cascade behind me, to seal my retreat. Though in this valley, I find my Brothers; Now I am named Guardian of My Homeland. Should I falter, my shield shall turn to ash; But I shall not falter.’ ORGANIZATION The Brotherhood of Saint Karl hosts three different chapters, each home to men of different abilities and talents. These three chapters are: CHAPTER OF THE CROW: The main bulk of the Brotherhood, this chapter consists of the rank and file infantrymen of the order. Fighting on foot with sword and spear, these men stand as a bulwark against the enemies of the Haeseni people. CHAPTER OF THE DESTRIER: Consisting of the knights and nobility of the Kingdom, this chapter is filled with the finest horsemen the Haeseni motherland has to offer. These men carry on the legacy of the Carnatian hussars of the past, and strike fear into the hearts of their enemies. CHAPTER OF THE BLACK CROSS: The most elite warriors of the Kingdom, this chapter enlists the greatest Haeseni swordsmen alive to serve in special operations. They are also given the most honorable duty of protecting the King of Hanseti and Ruska. RANKS Lord Marshal | Hauchmarsal - This position merits the confidence of the Crown to lead the Brotherhood of Saint Karl by overseeing military affairs and advise His Majesty’s Government on the Aulic Council. He, as leader of the brotherhood, is the first brother of brothers and chief general to the King. If it is his will and the will of our gracious monarch, then the brotherhood will dole it forward. Commandant | Kommandant - This position is delegated the task to direct the soldiers and it is he who commands the men on the battlefield, to bring glory to his nation and defeat upon their wretched enemies. Woe to those who must face them upon the fields of toil and despair. Each Chapter of soldiers will have a Commandant, and each Commandant will have a number of Sergeants within their Chapter, each of whom are responsible for their own squad of soldiers. Sergeant | Serzhant - This position consists of the veterans of many battles and sieges, these men are the tried and tested of the Brotherhood. Sergeants command squads of five men each and are responsible for equipping and maintaining their squad. Their experience in matters of warfare make them exemplary soldiers for younger and newer Brothers to look up to and are deserving of all respect. Armiger | Brustya - This position is for the armsmen that have shown capable of handling little responsibility, and have been deemed ready for more by their squad’s Sergeant and the Commandant of the Chapter. These men will begin handling more responsibility within their squad or chapter and, if they prove their capability, may be promoted to Sergeant. Armsman | Oxtzen - This position is designated for the Footmen who have proven capable of holding their own on the field of battle and are more experienced than regular Footmen. These men are often given small responsibilities, such as training recruits or footmen, and leading patrols of the roads and lands surrounding the Kingdom. Footman | Nausangkruv - This position consists of the bulk of the brotherhood; men who have passed their initiate trials and have been deemed worthy by the Sergeant and Commandant of their Chapter of being accepted as a full brother of the Brotherhood. These men have taken the oath before the Tomb of Kings, and sworn their swords to the King and Kingdom of Hanseti-Ruska. Initiate | Naumaan - This position is for the newest members of the Brotherhood, untested and unblooded. These men are not considered full brothers yet, and will have to undergo a series of tests and trials before they can be fully welcomed as a brother. APPLICATION The Brotherhood accepts all who have a desire to serve both King and Country, the one requirement being that they have seen a minimum of 16 winters. NAME: NOBILITY (Y/N): if not, GENTRY (Y/N): RACE: PAST EXPERIENCE :
  24. https://youtu.be/ZFr7AyT17sI “Come away, O human child!; For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.” The Stolen Child, W.B. Yeats 1744 Arianne Renée awoke from her light slumber as her head fell from her hand, having lost her “balance” as her carriage passed over a moderately sized stone in the road. She squinted her eyes as she brushed aside the small curtain to her window, being met with the sight of a sprawling meadow freckled with some wildflowers and framed by a brush. Upon further inspection, it looked to be a clearing of a forest rather than a meadow since birch and oak trees past the young princess’ carriage window. Although it was a simple sight for her to bear, Arianne couldn’t help but smile as the thought of getting ever more close to Kaedrin came to her. Naught a week ago, the sights that decorated the roadside were rocky fields of frost-covered heather and forests of pine; the sights of Hanseti-Ruska that Arianne had grown more accustomed to during her years spent within the kingdom in order to become more acquainted with her betrothed, Andrik IV, and her future people. Although she had found the land to be rather enchanting, young Ari had grown awfully homesick over the years and became wracked with worry for her father’s declining health--which is what has brought Arianne to where she is today; on the road to Ves from Reza. It had been a little over five years since she had last been home. The thought of her seeing her brothers and father in just another week practically made Arianne giddy. She had grown a lot since the age of ten, and was excited to show her father what she had learned in her sword lessons, if his health even allowed him to leave his bed. Even then, Ari would be eager to show her father her specially made sword gifted to her by Andrik. “Krusaevorev - To Protect and Serve,” Arianne’s betrothed had said with a smile the night he presented the blade to her. Ari rested a hand over the sword’s sheath as it sat beside her within her carriage. The ruby within its hilt glistened faintly, drinking up whatever rays of sunlight would pierce through the thin curtains. A contentful sigh escaped the princess, she leaned her head back to idly watch the trees continue to pass her window. She was on the verge of dozing off before a thunderous crackle and rumbling pierced the air, being accompanied by the anxious whinnying of the hackneys and coursers, and the muffled commands issued by the knights of her escort. The coach came to a halt. Confused, Arianne creaked open the door to figure out what had happened to cause their delay. Upon peeking her head out, she could see that a tree fell onto the road just a few yards ahead. “Jus’ a minor incident, Your Highness,” said the coachman, nodding assuringly toward Arianne as two guardsmen past him were warily nearing the brush, their hands on the pommels of their blades. “I don’ think it somethin’ serious - this, ‘ere’s, an old forest, trees likely fall all the--...” He never quite finished his sentence, since his words were cut off by a sickening crunch; the product of a throwing axe hitting its unfortunate target -- that being one of the levymen who were nearing the thicket lining the road. “Raiders!” shouted one of the knights of the escort, his sword hissed out from its scabbard as he reared his horse. Chaos followed his words and all the rest was a blur for Ari, because the next thing she knew was that she was back in her carriage, hearing the muffled shouts of men, the clangour of swords, the cries of horses, and the roaring of her coach’s wheels as it began to race off. Arianne’s heart pounded in her ears, she was jostled around within her enclosed carriage as it was run off the road. “Hang on, Princess!” called the coachmen’s voice from outside. “Stay down, it’s the Morsgradian Basta--..” Again, he was unable to finish his sentence as he was interrupted by a familiar crunch. The last sound the poor coachmen ever made to Ari was a weak gurgle, in which the princess brought a hand to her mouth in horror. Following that, a loud snap was heard from beneath Ari as a wheel shattered, which threw the carriage off its balance. Before Arianne could brace herself, she was being tossed and thrown around the inside of the coach. Her vision went dark. A few moments passed before Arianne stirred, groaning quietly as she came back to her senses. The carriage had, with no doubt in the world, rolled over several times. The glass from the small windows had shattered and cut up her left arm a bit, which caused a trickle of blood to run down her fingers. Her head throbbed, as did the minor cuts on her arm and, when she went to rise, her knee ached. Outside the carriage, the sounds of death gradually ceased and unfamiliar voices were heard a distance away. Arianne’s escort had been slaughtered. The leather roof of the coach had been torn up during the crash, Ari had noticed. She grabbed her longsword and began her climb out with some of the glass cracking more beneath her weight. Before she could straighten herself, a figure appeared before her with blood splattered along his tattered garb. “Looks like another one for the ransom, Svaen!” the man said with a coarse chuckle, eyeing Arianne. “A little kitty, with a long claw,” he added, noting the sheathed sword in her hand. “Careful she don’t scratch you, Eyvald!” teased another man, closer to the road. He was in the process of freeing his axe from the abdomen of one of Ari’s guardsmen, who remained deathly still in the soil blackened with his own blood. The man named Eyvald released another harsh laugh, he went to step closer to Arianne when... She drew her sword, tossing the scabbard away from her. “You will not approach me, you barbarous filth!” hissed the princess, donning her stance. A few more chuckles were heard near the road as the other surviving Morsgradians listened in. Eyvald seemed to be only amused as he watched Ari, not threatened in the slightest--especially after having successfully ambushed her escort. “Come on, girl. You know you can’t take us all on,” he said, gesturing to the six others who were gradually making their way from the roadside. “You’d be wise to surrender now, then perhaps we’ll give you a swift death when no one pays for your ransom.” Arianne only adjusted her grip on her sword, saying nothing. To be frank, she didn’t know what to do. Her heart continued to pound in her ears, she couldn’t feel the sting from her cuts anymore. Eyvald eyed her for a moment further, taking another step in her direction. He looked at her expectantly, though in a dismissive fashion--as if he were growing tired of this “joke” of a young woman of gentle birth wielding a blade. Behind Ari, she heard the snickering of two other Morsgradians muttering to each other. She shifted the weight on her feet. Fear coursed through her body, rendering her speechless as Eyvald stood before her now, reaching a hand to take her arm. Would this be how her life ends? “No!” Ari suddenly blurted out, closing her eyes as she jerked herself away. She jabbed her blade forward, knicking something, as she twirled on her feet before shuffling back. A curse came from Eyvald’s voice as she opened her eyes again, realizing they had traded places. The man pressed his hand to his side, where his shirt had been torn and where blood oozed between his fingers. It was a shallow cut, though it was still a cut nonetheless. Arianne was shocked, as were the rest of the Morsgrad raiders; their snide whispers and chuckles were gone now. “You little bastard!” growled Eyvald, his expression darkening. “She nearly impaled me!” He stormed toward Arianne, who was now frozen with her fear. He slipped his dirk free from his belt, reaching his other hand out to grip the terrified princess by her arm. She dropped her sword as the pommel of the dagger smashed against the back of her head. Arianne’s knees gave out before her vision darkened. She fell unconscious. --- Arianne stood in a garden. The gentle warble of birds surrounded her, occasionally accompanied by the sighs of leaves from various plants surrounding her when a breeze found its way into the Varoche Palace’s courtyard. In front of her, sitting in the grass, was a girl of four years wearing a lemon pink dress; her little sister. She was hunched over something by a peony bush. “What have you found, Margaret?” Arianne queried, kneeling beside her sister in the grass. Margaret was weeping, clutching an injured sparrow close to her. Its wing was broken, and it looked horribly dazed. “It flew into the wall,” the little princess muttered tearfully. “Is it going to die, Ari?” she then reluctantly asked, bringing her doleful eyes up to look to her older sister for comfort. “No… No, Margaret, it won’t,” Arianne replied, wrapping an arm around her sister’s shoulder to comfort her. “We can try our best to nurse it back to health, yeah? Come, let us take it inside.” She helped her sister up, going to guide her back into the palace. --- It had been several days since Ari had been taken. Perhaps it had been a week, though she wasn’t certain. Ari wasn’t sure where she was anymore in relation to Haense or Kaedrin either, since a dirty sack was kept over her head for the majority of the time she travelled with the group of Morsgradians; however, she was finally allowed to not wear it yesterday since they have moved onto far more unrecognizable paths. In the evenings, when a camp would be set up, a large man with a beard named Halstein would attempt to interrogate her to learn more about who she was, which she caved in to. He looked to be the largest of the raiding party, though he did not have the most brooding of features. Arianne grew to be less intimidated by him as the nights would pass, for she would hear him singing in a voice of honey during the daytime. He seemed more sympathetic; much unlike Eyvald, who frightened her. She sat in the back of an old, wobbly wagon drawn by a scraggly man with thinning hair, her hands bound together. Two others from her escort had also seemed to have been taken, though they weren’t kept within the wagon with her. Instead, their bound hands were strung to the back of it where they were to walk along the unforgiving roads. Everything, save for their clothing, had been stripped from them. Arianne’s sword had been taken, which now looked to be in the possession of Eyvald for she noticed it strapped beside his horse’s saddlebags. He often eyed her rather spitefully, and sometimes she overheard him muttering and cursing about his cut festering to the others in the party, though they just passed it off; It seemed like Eyvald was one for sympathetic attention. The time came where they would set up for camp again, for the sun’s light gradually shifted toward a hue of gold and orange. Arianne was placed by a relatively thin tree, where she would be tied to in order to be kept from running; she had tried to the first night or two and failed in her attempts of escape, having received a few swift punches to her gut as punishment. “How much longer ‘till we reach the camp again?” Arianne overheard a few of the Morsgradians mingling with themselves as they carried firewood back to where they had chosen to settle down for the evening. “Eh..” One, a relatively young lad with dark moppy, and curly hair, shrugged his shoulders as he plopped his twigs down on the dirt. “Two or three days, methinks - if the weather is kind. It’s growing colder, y’know? Might snow.” “So that’s how long I’ve got…” Ari thought to herself, dread beginning to grip at her heart. She didn’t know if she would be ransomed for a handsome amount of mina, or if she would be given a brutal death that would be turned into an example to boost morale for the Morsgradians. Either way, she knew she had to escape soon. But how? Upon glancing around, Arianne noticed that the campsite was relatively empty. A good number of the experienced warriors were absent, having likely gone to the nearby stream to wash up and refresh themselves; leaving the younger lads to keep watch of the camp, horses, and prisoners. An idea came to mind. “I’ve seen snow in the late spring!” argued one of the lads, it seemed their conversation devolved into a debate of sorts. “It’s possible!” If only they would see the summer snows in Haense, Ari thought. Their little squabble would be interrupted. “Hey! Can one of you untie me? I need to go to the bathroom.” Their attention shifted to Arianne now, falling silent - for the most part. They exchanged mutters, some wearing partially amused expressions. “Piss yerself then, wench,” one of the older boys called back with a snicker, nudging another next to him. They shook their heads and went back to collecting firewood for the night; a lot would be required to keep warm. It was getting colder. Arianne awoke that morning to find frost was building up on part of her clothes, and she felt chilled to her core. She wasn’t often kept too close to the campfire and was only provided a thin and wretched-smelling blanket, so the cold easily reached her. With the sun gradually nearing the horizon now, Ari could tell that tonight would be another dreadfully brisk one, so a tinge of hope flickered in her eyes as she noticed one of the wood-gatherers had lingered behind. It was the mop-head. “Will ye be quick about it?” he queried her after glancing over his shoulder to ensure none of the others noticed his absence. The young man stepped closer to Ari. She recognized him as one of the archermen retrieving arrows from the corpses of her escort the day she was taken, his name was Svandred… or something like that. Ari never quite caught it, and didn’t care for it. She nodded to Svandred’s question. “Yeah. Of course.” She held a sort of earnestness in her gaze as she looked up to him. Svandred narrowed his eyes slightly upon her, his lips curling in a mild frown on contemplation before he sent another cautious glance in the direction of his friends - who had disappeared within the brush. He gave a gentle nod to her and knelt down. Arianne could feel her heart beginning to race as the bindings around her hands loosened, though she tried to conceal her dumbfoundedness. “Come on, geddup - ye said ye’d be quick, aye?” She blinked and nodded again, going to rise to her feet. Her wrists were bruised and felt raw, and ached mightily as she moved her hands; however, that didn’t bother her now for her heart continued to race within her chest. It was as if time slowed for her, the world around her grew distant as she stepped near a shrub by the side of the camp - Svandred standing just a foot behind her. Arianne knelt down as she spotted a sizable rock, and took it into her hand. --- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTL_rAfcEC4 The next thing Arianne knew was the crisp air brushing against her face as the thunderous galloping of a dark mare blended with the beating of her heart in her ears. Trees and branches raced by her as she sped through the wood, kicking for her horse to go even faster as distant shouts erupted far behind her. Her cheeks burned from the cold wind nipping at her flesh, which was then whipped and scratched by low-hanging twigs; the woods were thick and difficult to maneuver through. The pit of dread in Ari’s stomach gradually dissipated into nothing the longer she galloped and the quieter the shouts of the Morsgradians became; she was almost free and could return home. Her hands trembled with her adrenaline and rising joy; however, such excitement faltered and shrank back once her mare’s foot snagged on a root and sent the princess flying and the mare tumbling down a ditch ahead of them. Arianne plunged into a shallow stream and landed harshly within it, narrowly escaping the black mare’s body that tumbled alongside her. The poor creature released a loud wail of pain, for its leg had snapped. Arianne was practically in a daze, having smacked her head against the rocky bed of the stream. Her head pulsed as she felt the icy water drip from her face and rush over her hands as she pushed herself up, the taste of blood was in her mouth. The horse thrashed beside her, splashing the water around and making a ruckus loud enough to stir the whole forest; her captors would be upon her soon enough. She had to leave now. A glimmer of red within the shallow waters caught her eye; Krusaevorev. She had to have used Eyvald’s horse for his escape, but there was no more time to think. Arianne swept her blade up and bolted for the thicket across the stream, just as the distant shouts of the Morsgradians began to echo around the area. Her heart pounded within her chest as her feet thumped on the forest floor. The sun was crawling beneath the horizon now and the forest was growing darker, and colder; however, Arianne felt nothing except for the burning of her legs as she continued to power through the brush, twigs occasionally whipping at her arms or face. This was her escape. Arianne didn’t quit her running until late into the night, when the cold really gripped her and when she felt as if she were going to collapse and cough up her lungs, which also burned painfully in her chest. The woods were silent around her and she felt as if she were allowed time to rest, but she knew that she had to continue moving; that she needed to return home. But how could she do that? Arianne was lost; set deep within a land unfamiliar to her with the threat of Eyvald and his group still present. Her name wasn’t safe, neither was her appearance; Ari knew that if she wanted a chance of making it back home, she would have to become a different person. Arianne Helvets would be no more, not for now. Joanne Lovell would then be born. Her hair was shortened, though done in a horrible manner since it was cut by her sword, and her travelling clothes - which were stained with sweat and smeared with mud and dirt - were discarded; a new outfit was obtained, having been stolen from the clotheslines of a farmstead by a creek. All she kept with her was Krusaevorev and her necklace, which was a golden Lorraine Cross. Small jewels were set into it, though it looked as if a few had fallen out or cracked from her unfortunate ventures these past weeks. Still, she kept it close to her heart. 1745 Arianne had been missing for several months now. It took her a great deal of time to figure out her surroundings, as well as to find a way to keep herself from starving. She had taken up work at various shabby inns or businesses; aiding in preparing meagre meals for other weary travellers, scrubbing floors, or even shining shoes to earn coin or a warm meal for herself and a roof to sleep under - be it stables or a mattress stuffed with hay. She eventually discovered that she had somehow wound up in the north eastern territories of Arcas, but she was gradually making her way back west; to where she could return to Kaedrin, and be delivered back to Haense in safety, where she would go forth in marrying Andrik and carry her duties out as Queen. She clung to that hope, it drove her on; to see the faces of her siblings again, to be welcomed back into the city that she would help rule over and protect… The day would come eventually. The Plump Otter was the name of a little inn Arianne currently found herself resting at, it was located on a crossroads and its caretakers were keen on keeping the establishment in good conditions; so business was abundant. Many curious travelers and wanderers looked to make their way through, watering their horses and filling their stomachs with mead and bread before returning to their journeys, where they would take them. Ari was seated at one of their tables and was in the process of stuffing her face, for she hadn’t had much of a meal in the past two days. Nearby, she overheard a conversation. “If the wind’s in favor, I’ll be able to make it in time to the wedding,” a man mumbled to his companion beside him at one of the tables as he drank thirstily from his mug. “Lots to be sold at weddings, especially royal ones. Always got festivals for ‘em.” Arianne slowed her eating, pricking up her ears. A royal wedding? “Not sure on how well you’d do in trying to sell your sweet wines in Haense,” commented the man’s companion as he reclined in his chair. “I hear they fancy that Black ale there.” “Pah, it could still make for a good gift to present to the King and his bride; get in their good favour.” “Pft, what are you expecting from them? A keep for your gracious gift?” The man’s companion snickered and shook his head before he raised his mug to his lips. “Good luck.” Arianne felt confused and almost struggled to process what she had overheard, so she stared blankly at her plate. They really think I’m dead… The buzz of the tavern grew distant and became muffled as thoughts raced through her mind, her lips pressed tightly together. It’s not too late, I’m so close to home. A flicker of hope passed through her eyes before she abruptly rose up from her seat, stepping out from the inn and into the yard. A man and the tavern’s stablehand looked to be prepping his wagon and horses for travel. “..Excuse me, sir,” Ari called to the man, who was in the process of strapping down sacks of grains. He cocked his head toward her, a perpetual grimace lingered on his weathered features as the sun shone on them. “Eh? What is it you want, girl?” he queried, seeming rather hesitant to address her as an actual woman as he eyed her grimy, cut hair and attire, which was an ill-fitted coat and trousers with nordling patterns died into the fabric. She looked more like a highlander boy who was yet to grow out a beard. “Are you headed west?” “Pah, I’m nay a cabman. Piss off.” He spat at the dirt by her before resuming his work. The young stableboy only eyed her curiously, most notably staring at Krusaevorev on her belt. She had wrapped the crossguard and hilt with a cloth, so no one would be tempted to thieve it from her; the ruby drew unnecessary attention. It still remained an odd sight for most, to see this young “boy” with a blade. “No- I need you to take me west - to Kaedrin, at least. It’s urgent,” Arianne replied in earnest, she took a step closer to the wagon to try and meet the man’s gaze again. He paused and looked to her, though more curiously. “What fer?” “To reunite with my family; I am Arianne Helvets, daughter to King Adrian. I was--..” She could not finish her sentence, for the aged man bursted into a fit of rough laughter. “Pfft, quit pestering me, child,” he dismissed her with another rugged laugh. “Go play yer games elsewhere.” “I’m not playing any games! I am Ari-” She was cut off again. “Pah! And I’m the Emperor of Man. Now piss off!” Arianne gritted her teeth, she could feel her anger rising up within her. “Look,” she said to the man on the wagon and withdrew Krusaevorev from its scabbard, the Slayersteel blade reflected the light of the sun; its ruby glimmered as she removed the cloth around it. Upon the crossguard were heraldic bats and crows of Helvets and Barbanov; it was a fine blade. However, for the man, it was almost too fine… He narrowed his eyes at her and stood up straight. “Now how’d a kid like ye get yer hands on a weapon like that?” “It was given to me, by my betrothed.” “Aye? That so?” “Yes. Now can you take me west?” He scratched his chin and eyed Arianne a moment longer, before waiving the stablehand off. “A moment, girl,” the man grunted before hopping off of the wagon. Without another word, he disappeared into the inn. A few lengthy moments passed as Ari waited by the wagon, having tucked her blade away again. She felt her frustration beginning to fade away as the man returned to the yard; however, a handful of others stepped after him. Most were armed. “Aye, that’s her,” the man said and pointed toward her. “The thief trying to pose as the King’s dead daughter.” Arianne’s eyes widened as she looked over the group, her rage boiled up again as she backed away. “It’s not true!” she snapped, though her hand went for the pommel of her blade as she continued to eye the group bitterly; by the looks in their eyes, there was no way they would believe her - nor care enough to investigate. They believed Ari to be dead, and their hands withdrew their own weaponry from their scabbards. “Don’t be foolish, child. The Princess is long dead, gone. Now drop that stolen blade and your hands might be spared,” called one of them, who wore a tabard; the crest was unidentifiable to her, for it looked heavily worn and stained from prolonged use and travel. He was likely some knight or another, who kept to the eastern territories of Oren to fend off any raids for the war; many plagued the farmsteads and hamlets dotting the roads. Arianne gritted her teeth as her eyes darted between them all. There was no chance she could fight here, not after her display with Eyvald. So, she did what she currently knew best to do, and that was to turn and run. Ari darted across the dirt road and vanished within the thicket of trees, which lead to the southern hills of the Fell country. --- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNiOnMMxak0 Dejected, hurt, and sour, Arianne lost herself. Her own name became foreign to her, unwanted; she clung to her new identity of Joanne Lovell, the bastard daughter of some spice merchant who took to travelling northward from the sandswept lands of Korvassa. Joanne’s hair was a warm auburn, Ari’s was a dirty blonde; she had managed to acquire the dye for it upon discovering a modest tailoring shop, led by some half-elf. Her frustrations gripped her as she shoved the echoes of her old life away. Everyone she knew had thought her to be dead, yet hardly mourned her passing in her eyes; instead, they moved forth quickly in replacing her. Had I ever truly been welcomed to Haense in the first place? Her thoughts returned to her time within the walls of New Reza, where she often butted heads with the other young women of the court and struggled with her freedom under the shrewd eye of Queen Milena while she still lived. A rare few had treated her kindly; Primrose, Otto Sigmar, and Andrik... Andrik. Did he not care for her too? She could not linger on such thoughts, and her mind went to home; Kaedrin. Is it even safe to try to go there? Arianne knew of the inner turmoil and struggles her father’s kingdom was going through during his illness; she recalled the letters from her brother Leopold expressing his concerns of safety in the capital, with ambition plaguing the minds of power-hungry Fleeperites. She could easily be removed, if identified by the wrong individual. Weeks passed. Joanne was squatting at the edge of a farmer’s field with her sword resting in the dirt beside her and was trying to dig up potatoes from the soil. The snapping of a twig was heard from some distance behind her and she quickly turned, only to see the blur of a figure dart behind one of the oaks that dotted the fields. “Who goes there?” Jo called with some alarm, gritting her teeth. There was no answer, however. Instead, an arm appeared from the tree, only to toss a stone away from it. There looked to be some attempt at being discreet; however, it was done horribly. Moving in the opposite direction from the stone was a dark elven man, who was prone and crawling along the soil through the brush of the crops. Joanne simply blinked. “I can see you plain as daylight!” she exclaimed, almost dumbfounded at the man’s further attempts at stealth. He was slender and without hair, a jagged scar went across his face and blinded his right eye. His other eye was crimson. Both narrowed at her. “No ye don’t.” “Yes! Yes, I do!” Jo said as she became even more bemused. “Who the Nether are you and what are you doing?” The elf sighed and pushed himself up. He tried his best to brush the dirt from his garb, but it was smeared with the soil; despite his dirtied appearance, he didn’t seem like a typical brigand or loafer looking to cause mischief. He wore leather armor of decent quality, and carried two blades on his person. “All right, ye see me,” he said defeatedly. His accent was a thick Kaedreni one. “I’m Devitus, was trying to see what ye were doin’ out here.” Joanne narrowed her eyes a little, a frown creased upon her lips. “Why?” “There’s gremlins out here, been a bit of an issue fer the farmers. I’m here to try ‘n’ stop their mischief, or to make sure their mischief ain’t some kid like you diggin’ up the crops or drawing away the cattle.” Jo wrinkled her nose. “I’m not just some kid!” “That so?” Devitus queried dubiously, he crossed his arms before himself. “Indeed! I’m, uh-.. A hunter.” A hunter? It was something that randomly sprouted within her mind; she had to say something back to this elf. Devitus simply looked amused. “Yer a hunter, aye? Catch any game in that dirt? And where’s your gear?” A scoff came from Jo. “I’ve got a sword,” she replied rather haughtily, her nose wrinkled. “You see-...” Joanne’s words trailed off as she felt for her blade that she had sat in the soil beside her. It was gone! Jo gasped as she twirled around, hoping to have only misplaced it a few feet off; however, Krusaevorev was nowhere to be spotted. What was spotted, however, was a small shape across the field darting away. It had rather large ears, which bounced with the creature's movements. “GREMLIN!” Devitus bellowed out with excitement. “Come, girl!” He jogged after the creature with Joanne in tow. Together, they saw the big-eared gremlin disappear into a den beneath some stones. Krusaevorev was in its grip, though the longsword was too unwieldy for the tiny creature to properly carry, so it was dragged across the soil. Devitus and Jo weren’t able to get into the den, for it was far too small and cramped. They could get a look within it if they knelt down, however; a great deal of snickering emitted from within as Jo poked her head down. “You little sh*t, give me back my sword!” she barked toward the little beast, who only taunted her with more snickering and an insult in broken up Common. “I’ll tear your ears off, if-- AHCK!” Jo reeled back as it hurled a clump of mud at her. “That ugly fiend has no manners!” She spat out mud. “It’s a gremlin, kid!” Devitus said as she watched Jo wipe her face angrily, he looked utterly amused and humored. “They never have manners, but they’re harmless shites.” He scratched his chin as he eyed the den. “Go fetch me some twigs, we can smoke the little bugger out, aye?” “Why can’t you fetch your own twigs?” “Because I’m watching the shite here to make sure he don’t run off!” Joanne huffed as she stood up, spitting again as she still tasted mud in her mouth. Vexed, she gathered twigs and other kindling for Devitus, who clumped it all near the den’s entrance. He withdrew a match from one of his pockets and leered at the once-smug gremlin, who ceased its taunting; it had nowhere to run. “All right, ye little shite,” the dark elven man said coolly. “I’ll give ye one chance to return that sword to the kid here, then you can leave these fields so I don’t have to skin ye. Because, believe me,” His hand tapped a slightly curved dagger on his hip. “I will, after I make you choke on smoke.” A torrent of broken up insults and threats poured out from the den. Devitus ducked his head just in time to dodge a clump of mud being hurled at him, which almost smacked into Joanne. All became silent, however, once Devitus lit his match. “Last chance.” --- “What’s yer name anyways, kid?” Devitus asked after he finished counting his earned coin a third time. “Joanne, uh- Joanne Lovell. Are you really a monster hunter?” “Aye, I am. Are you?” He already knew the answer. “Ye’ve got the sword for it, slayersteel is a choice metal. It’s strong like steel, but bites like aurum; very expensive.” He looked toward her curiously as they made their way down the road leading away from the farmstead, pocketing his coin now. “How’d you manage to get that blade of yours?” Joanne blinked, though opened her mouth and said whatever came to mind first. “My, uh- My father gave it to me,” she said, then continued. “He… knew of my interests in tales about those Marked Men, and gifted me it. There would be nothing for me to really earn or keep at home, since- eh.. I’m a bastard, so he gave me this and sent me away.” “Pah, he likely wants ye to die. Something to get ye out of his life.” Devitus released a dry laugh and shook his head. “This business ain’t like a fairy tale, kid. Yer better off in selling that sword and finding yerself other work.” “Well-.. Why can’t you help me?” “I don’t got time to teach you how to use that thing.” “You don’t need to teach me!” Jo insisted as she walked alongside him. “I already know how to use it and handle myself. If I prove to be horrible and die… Well, then you can take my sword for yourself!” That looked to be enough to convince him, he piqued an eyebrow as she looked at her. “Hrmph, if ye say so. Deal. Just don’t expect me to hold yer hand.” Devitus and Joanne became a pair that afternoon. Jo managed to eventually prove her worth with a blade as they were hired for smaller jobs, such as fending off brigands or dealing with ratiki infestations on the outskirts of Kaedrin. They proved to be rather efficient together and earned a great deal of coin, which was often spent on their travels looking for more work. Five years would pass. 1750 Over the years of her work with Devitus, Joanne’s skill with the blade had improved immensely and she had worked to train her body to be stronger in order to better wield her longsword. She was no longer some lithe maiden, but a hardened warrior of a woman; her temper and personality still remained fierce, she took enjoyment in this new life for her. Being head-strong and bold worked in her favour, for the world was not kind to the meek and rewarded those who took action. Word of their skill began to spread around the northern bits of the Empire, which led the two to a job commissioned by a mirror merchant. His caravan was ambushed by harpies as they traveled through the mountain passes north of Ves, and he had lost a lot of his investments when one of his supply wagons was overrun. He reached out to Devitus and Joanne to clear the nest that had been made and return whatever mirrors they could for a hefty sum of minas in return. So, the duo set their sights to the north and sought out the harpy nest. Joanne hadn’t quite gone so close to Ves before, and they would need to pass near the capital in order to enter the mountains. She wasn’t sure what to expect, truth be told, but was tense and uneasy; fearful of finding a familiar face, or of just confronting memories of a life now passed. None of that quite came, in truth, for there was a shift in mood as the walls of Ves were spotted along the horizon. The common folk of the inns, fields, and roadways were all speaking of news from the capital; King Adrian Helvets was dead. Taken from his sickness. Joanne was sick to her stomach and felt numb for a long while, her words becoming distant and half-distracted whenever she spoke to Devitus. He had noticed her shift in demeanor, though made no comments. It wasn’t until their encounter with the harpies, when Arianne snapped and let loose. It was her fault that she didn’t return home; her frustrations blinded her and kept her from returning home; she had allowed for her stubbornness to keep her dead. And for that, her father passed away thinking his daughter had died at the hands of roadside bandits. Her emotions took control of her when the harpies swooped down and she grew too bold. A wordless shout of anger melted into a scream of agony as the claws of one of the flying hags bore into her left forearm, tearing into her flesh and muscles to grip her and begin lifting her up from the ground. Her blood poured everywhere. As her vision grew dark and the shouting of Devitus became muffled and distant, a bolt sunk into the chest of the harpy, which caused them both to drop and return to the earth. Darkness came to Arianne. --- https://youtu.be/cKJA-D3ltPM “I want to get my fortune read!” Arianne chirped eagerly, tugging at the skirts of her mother with one hand while the other clung to her father’s pant leg. A bright smile adorned the young girl’s visage as she gazed wide-eyed toward a booth on the festival grounds of Ves, where an elderly man with a milky-white beard sat. He was in the process of examining the palm of a young lad, tracing one of his gnarled fingers over the lines of the boy’s hand and uttering to him about curious prophecies. A crooked sign hung over his head, reading in mystical lettering: Wise Old Wick. Annabelle offered a hesitant look to Adrian, though the king gave an assuring grin as he patted Arianne’s shoulder. “Pah! What harm could a peek at our sparrow-bat’s achievements do? It shall only take a minute, go on ahead Ari.” He gave his daughter a little nudge, though she quickly scurried forward and toward the Wick soothsayer as he finished up with his previous customer. “Me next! Me next, please!” Ari called as she scrambled onto one of the stools that sat before the wooden counter, which had flecks of bread crumbs leftover from the Wick’s lunch. “Read my fortune!” The soothsayer offered a hearty chuckle at the princess’ excitement, he bobbed his head and took hold of the hand she was waving excitedly before herself. “All right, all right, let’s have a look…” he muttered and narrowed his gaze, a look of thought crossing his weathered features. “Oh! Oh, my!” the Wick exclaimed after a moment, he stroked his beard sagely as he pondered further, before wiggling his fingers and waving his hands spiritually before himself. “I see... ! I see…!” he said, before setting his eyes on Arianne again, who held her breath with her excitement. “I see… you going forth to achieve great and wondrous things! A leader, you shall be… of an army! You will be a general, yes… And you shall battle powerful armies of foriegn and nefarious lands! Such is your Destiny!” Arianne gasped, her jaw dropped. Of course, the Wick was merely guessing based on what he had seen and heard about the princess; her fiery spirit was well-known about within the city, and she’d often be seen around the streets of Ves or on the outskirts of the Varoche Palace chasing after stray cats or waving sticks around with her brothers like they were fabled swordsmen living out some grand adventure. He had made a decent guess, for the girl grinned widely and dumped a few coins into his tip jar - alongside a rock that she thought looked pretty neat and kept in her pocket. “Did you hear that?!” Arianne called back to her parents, she twisted around in her stool to face them. “I’m going to make for a great warrior!” Annabelle wore a soft smile as she watched her daughter, her arm looped with Adrian’s as she said, “You could be made into a Dame in time, you know.” “She’ll be more than a Dame!” Adrian replied with a warm chuckle. “She’ll be a Queen; a good one, too, who’ll defend her people and land well. That right, sparrow-bat?” Arianne was beaming, she nodded. --- She awoke within an abbey. Devitus stood across the room she was rested in, peering out of a narrow window that offered a view of the cloister. Warm sunlight poured into the room. A jolt of pain shot through her left arm as she attempted to move it; the wound inflicted by the harpy was tended to, but it still needed to heal. A tired breath left her, which caught the attention of the dark elven man. “You’re awake,” he stated as he turned to her, his arms crossed before his chest as he leaned his weight back against the plain wall behind him. “Aye,” Ari replied with a sigh, turning her gaze up to the ceiling. “I am… What happened?” “Suppose I should be asking ye the same.” Devitus shook his head softly. “I don’t know what came over ye, but ye seemed to think it best to try and pummel that harpy with yer sword and fists ‘stead of keeping with our plan. Damn nearly got taken away by one of those hags, sliced yer arm up real nice.” “Hrm…” She still felt weak, her head being cloudy. “Thank you.” “Ye gonna explain to me what got into ye? Ye were acting strange the whole trip there, ye know.” “Aye, aye… I know.” Arianne closed her eyes as another exhale left her. She knew that she could run no longer, that her past would always come back to bite her in the ankles. Her memories still clung to her like fleas would, and wouldn’t cease their nipping and reminders of their existence. She had to face the truth. And so she did. Arianne revealed everything to Devitus. They talked for a while, until the sun dipped beneath the horizon--then they talked more; the hours of the night grew small; the moon hung high in the dark sky; and the wax of their candles was half-melted away. She explained her frustrations, her pain, and her confusion; however, the more she opened up to Devitus, the more her head began to clear and the less lost she felt. Devitus was greatly confused in the beginning, and almost thought Ari to be messing with him; however, he could see her genuinity and her grief within her grey-blue eyes as she insisted he listened to her. When their lengthy talk ended, he insisted she try to return to her former life; to reconnect with her family and redeem herself rather than continue to wallow in her turmoil and live a life of running and regret. She agreed to this. They would eventually part ways, though Devitus stuck around until Ari’s strength returned to her. The abbey they were given rest at was along the north western territories of Kaedrin, nearing the territories of Haense. Occasional pilgrims would pass through to and from their visits to The Basilica of Fifty Virgins, some began to speak of troubling news from New Reza; the Queen, Maya Valeriya, had been kidnapped by a defected group of Haeseni soldiers that wished to hold her for ransom against King Andrik. Last one of the pilgrims had heard, the King wasn’t interested in negotiations and was in the midst of rallying a rescue party to head north to where their camp was settled. Something didn’t sit right with Arianne as she heard this. Andrik wasn’t a proper fighter, that she could recall; she remembered his struggle with his father’s attention and approval for not favoring swordsmanship. Ari grew worried for his safety, as well as for Maya’s; she knew she must return, to seek out her redemption, to keep her oath of Krusaevorev. To Protect and Serve. Such was her Destiny now. --- https://youtu.be/K0etyrdJSC8 Arianne hadn’t realized how much she had truly missed the frigid lands of Haenseti-Ruska until she was greeted with the familiar sights of rocky fields of frost-covered heather and sprawling fir forests, when the cool winds brushed aside her hair, or when the dreary clouds occasionally parted to allow for the sun to shine and cause Lake Milena to glimmer and glisten. Such had happened as Ari neared the front gates of New Reza. She felt anxious, nearly sick to her stomach with worry, though she still made her way through the portcullis and onto the streets. There was a lot of excitement in the air, many people were moving about and shouting. It took a while for Ari to try and figure out what was going on, for the rabble of everyone was rather overwhelming as she tried to maneuver through the crowds. “The clinic, the clinic!” “MAKE WAY, MOVE!” “Step back, keep your distance!” “Where’s the damned doctor? The King needs her!” It was utter chaos. Andrik had returned from his mission to rescue Maya, and it had been successful; however, he had been injured during the conflict and was returned to New Reza for treatment. Arianne was unable to reach him during that time, and found herself a bench to sit at within a nook as she waited for everything to grow calm again. Many hours passed by and the sun’s golden light began to shine red as it drew closer to the western horizon. The streets grew quiet as the cold crept more into the city, many took to their homes to be warmed by their fires; all was still. With a frosty breath seeping out from her, Arianne stood and sought out the clinic. “Halt right there,” said a man donned in the colors of Barbanov, wearing the armor of the Royal Guard. He was standing near the entryway to the clinic alongside another gentleman in the same setup. Both eyed Arianne and her sword curiously. “What business have you here?” “To speak with His Majesty, King Andrik.” It took a little bit of a while for Arianne to finally be welcomed into the hospital, in truth. She was nearly arrested, and she had to keep herself from snapping out of frustration at the guardsmen when they had begun to argue about her being there, as well as the genuinity of her identity; however, before much more could be escalated… A young page peeked his head out from the clinic doors and said that Andrik would see Arianne. It turns out their argument had picked up in volume and caught the attention of many, the King included. Ari was escorted into the building and was shown to a room where a familiar man with dark hair rested. “Godan…” The King muttered in a hoarse voice as his weary eyes settled upon the lost princess. “It’s r-really you, Ari.” He was propped up by pillows, being too weak to sit up on his own. Sweat was formed on his brow and his breaths were ragged. His arm draped over his stomach, hand gently clasping over his freshly bandaged side. He really had been gravely injured, his energy was drained; however, despite his weakened state, something within the King pushed for him to remain conscious, to see Arianne. Perhaps he thought she was a mere dream; a hallucination; but something kept him from wanting to “wake” from this dream. Something in him didn’t want for this ghost of his youth to disappear again, so he remained awake. His stormy blue eyes never left Arianne. She stepped further into the room, and they were left alone… “I don’t know what came over me, Andrik,” Arianne murmured, she was seated in a stool near his bedside. Her arms propped herself up on her knees as she gazed solemnly at the floor. They had already spoken for a decent while by now, the shock of Ari’s return had faded; the time for truth and rectification had come. “I just felt-... I felt like it was better for me to remain dead in everyone’s eyes. I was lost and hurt… And in my pain, I only caused more with my absence.” A quavering breath left her, Ari closed her eyes as she felt the sting of tears gathering. “I’m trying to fix it all now; I’ve stopped running and I’ve come to face my destiny.” “You were lost… But now you are found,” Andrik replied, he had managed to form a faint smile as he gazed toward her. “Have you returned to your siblings in Kaedrin yet?” Ari shook her head as she opened her eyes, glancing toward Andrik. “No… I haven’t quite figured out how to return to them. I only came to New Reza as soon as I had heard word of what happened to Maya and you.” The King dipped his head softly. “Your sister is set to marry my brother. The promise that our father’s set in stone shall be fulfilled, Godan-willing. S-still a couple of things to work out, but it will be done.” He paused a moment as he eyed her. “He misses you; L-Leopold… He inherited your f-father’s tites as Duke of Cathalon. Kaedrin is… collapsing though, I’m afraid. I f-fear it may not survive terribly long after the war…” His hand suddenly reached out toward her, fatigued eyes staring pleadingly toward Arianne. “Please, Ari… S-stay here. C-come back into my Court and serve my regent- and my son, as the Master of Hunt. Please.” Arianne took his hand with hers, she sat in silence as he spoke to her. Her eyes rarely met his, being wracked with grief and guilt; however, at his request for her to stay, she blinked and slowly leveled her gaze with his. “Master of Hunt..” she uttered slowly. “I-it is a humble position, b-but one I think you would enjoy greatly. Your spirit is s-strong, Ari… You’ve always wanted to fight for this Kingdom, to p-purge it of monsters and ward it of other dangers; to protect and serve. Th-there is still time for you to do that… There is still t-time for you to come back and begin your new life.” He placed his other hand atop hers. “Please.” --- That evening, Arianne had become Master of Hunt and swore an oath to King Andrik with Krusaevorev; the sword he had gifted to her years ago, when everything was so different. She had used that blade over a dozen times to protect herself, but now she would wield it with intent to protect The Kingdom of Haenseti-Ruska. Arianne would wish to dedicate the rest of her years to the Kingdom she was promised to at her birth; she would wish to give all of her strength and compassion to the Kingdom she had grown to love; she would wish to give her life to ensure the safety of the King she loved, as well as to protect those close to him. Although they had been separated for many years, Arianne had loved Andrik. She knew he did not feel the same toward her; how could he after she had been “dead” for so long? His heart was for Queen Maya, which Ari accepted; she was beautiful, wise, and benevolent. She was a woman that Arianne respected; she was a Queen that Arianne would wish to protect and serve as well. In the remaining months of Andrik’s life, Arianne kept close to the King and Queen’s side and did their bidding. She gained the courage to seek out her siblings and reconnect with them at last; however, such was not an easy feat for Arianne had lived a life completely separate of theirs and struggled to relate and connect with them. Although the wound of her disappearance had healed, a grotesque scar remained. Only time could make it fade. Still, her love and dedication to her family remained unwavering; Ari refused to make any more mistakes again. When Andrik’s illness grew worse and took his life, Arianne became more reclusive from the rest of the Haeseni Royal Court and took to isolating herself in the northern forests of Haense through lengthy hunting trips that would last weeks, sometimes even a few months. The cold forests became her home; they were her life. She roamed the Kingswood, Graiswald, The Steel Hills, and the Wickwald and found her solace at last in the heart of it all; the heart of Haense. She defended it from poachers, ensured the wolf populations wouldn’t grow too big to threaten farmers, and escorted travelers, pilgrims, and any other weary wanderers through the pathways to ensure their safety. She would take occasional trips back to the capital to check up on the Royal Family and see if they would have any tasks for her, as well as to sell the pels she had managed to acquire through her hunts. Arianne rarely kept any coin for herself, however, and often donated her earnings to The Basilica of Fifty Virgins; she did not think herself deserving of much. Her life was now dedicated to protecting and serving Haense; it made no sense for her to earn minas or other forms of reward for such. All she kept with her was Krusaevorev and her mother’s cross. Many years passed and Arianne continued her service for Haense. Troubling rumors eventually formed and began to float around about a soon-to-come invasion; Scyflings were coming to Haense. Concerned, Arianne looked more into it and realized the threat of war coming to the Kingdom. She decided it was time for her to return to the Royal Court and leave her duties to the forest aside, to protect the Royal Family as she had promised Andrik many years ago. Court was held in New Reza, in which Arianne presented herself and laid Krusaevorev out before her in order to reaffirm her Oath to King Sigismund II. The winds of Destiny called to her, she would not run this time. 1768 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0ySBYbKMnk The war had been raging on for a few months now. The Scyflings had made an attempt to try and siege and take over Valwyck, which led to a grand battle. Arianne had defended the Queen during it, and assisted in defending Fort Buck from a band of Scyflings that had tried to claim it while most of the Haeseni forces were distracted in the north. The battle was gruesome and bloody and Arianne knew that only similar encounters lay in wait for the future. A counter attack was to be made on the Scyflings after the Battle for Vasiland, though this one would take place on the sea; an attempt to destroy the Scyfling fleet would be made. Arianne kept close to Princess Amelya during it, her shield being raised over the Princess the whole time to protect her from arrow fire. It was their ship that began a chase after a rogue Scyfling longboat that slipped past the Haeseni forces. It was making a mad dash through the waves to head south, toward Vasiland. It had to be stopped. Their chase went all the way to the Vanir Hold, where a battle ensued within the keep. Arianne remained close to the Princess’ side throughout it all, her shield and sword at the ready. She was determined to keep Amelya safe and sound; such was her duty, and she would not fail to upkeep that again. Somehow, a fire had managed to start within the attic of the keep and it was beginning to cause parts of the floors to collapse and fill the building with smoke. It was no longer safe to be inside. Arianne was in the process of trying to escort Amelya out when a splintering crack occurred from above, cinders and debris fell into the dining hall before them, alongside the body of a man familiar to them both; Godfric Alimar. Ari had known Godfric when she was young, the two often butted heads and teased one another as kids usually did; however, he had ended up marrying Arianne’s sister after complications arose with Andrik’s brother. She also knew of Amelya’s attachment toward the Alimar. He could not be left behind. Both were horrified to see his unconscious body on the floor, half covered in smouldering planks and soot; however, he emitted a faint groan of pain to show he still lived. He desperately needed medical attention and could not be left there, so Arianne passed her shield to Amelya and sheathed Krusaevorev. She stooped down to lift up the Prince and carried him into the courtyard. There, they discovered that Vasiland had been surrounded by the Scyfling forces, with many Crows still behind the walls. Escape would prove to be dangerous; but it still had to be attempted. This battle was lost; Vasiland would be taken. The Haensemen had to escape with their lives now, and tried to move out from the front portcullis. Arianne kept beside Amelya, instructing her to stay at her flank away from the Scyfling archers as she continued to carry Godfric in her arms. Johnstown was so close to them; if they could make it through the field and under the cover of the trees, they would find safety within the town and medical aid for Godfric. So, in the midst of all of the chaos of the battle, the three made their attempt to reach Johnstown. They had made it halfway through the field when a deep shout was ordered in the Scyfling ranks, ordering a volley of arrows to be fired toward them. As Arianne heard the familiar whistling of arrows in the air, she turned her back to it and stepped before Princess Amelya, yelling for her to duck down. She clutched Godfric close to her front as she remained hunched over the Alimar and Barbanov; shielding the two with her broad body. A sharp gasp of pain left Arianne as she felt the tips of arrows sinking into her back, burying deep within her body, causing her to drop to a knee in the grass. Her body felt rigid and stiff with the arrows protruding out from her, the sharp pain went deep into her chest and kept her from breathing normally. Arianne’s energy and strength were fading, but as she gritted her teeth as she managed to push herself up to her feet again, maintaining her hold on Godfric. Amelya looked horrified and tried to assist Arianne in rising, ushering her across the rest of the field. Fortunately, the archers that had their sights on them became occupied with the other Haeseni forces trying to pour out from Vasiland. They entered Johnstown. Arianne laid Godfric in the grass, her breaths were ragged and unclear; she coughed blood as her vision blurred and could barely stand now. Her energy was spent. The next thing she knew, she had somehow managed to seat herself at the base of an oak nearby Amelya. She and other medics looked to be trying to treat Godfric and any other wounded that had managed to escape Vasiland with their lives. The chaos of everyone grew distant to Arianne as she turned her gaze over the forest and Lake Milena that Johnstown looked over. Her hands, covered in the blood of Godfric’s and her own, gripped her scratched up and worn Cross of Lorraine that her mother had given her when she was just a child. Her thumb brushed over the empty crevasses of it that once held fine gems, now lost from her many rough endeavours. She was dying. Her vision began to darken and her pain melted away, replaced by a cold and numb feeling. Before her now stood King Andrik, smiling warmly with saddened eyes. “Andrik…” Arianne rasped out, resting her head back against the trunk of the tree. “I kept my Oath…” And so, the wind-bitten bat closed her eyes and passed on. Arianne Helvets was dead. Arianne Helvets in the Wickwald [[Art done by me]] [[ Thank you to those you let me play the character and develop them. I wanted to write a story about her life to make up for the time that I had been inactive on her. A lot of my plans for the character never quite worked out or became a possible thing due to various issues and other roadblocks, so I felt disappointed in what I had managed to do with her. I wanted this post to represent something for her, I’ve put a lot of work into it over the past weeks/months.]]
  25. Union of the Falcon and the Dove This document hereby announces the union of The Sultanate of Korvassa and the Principality of Vitenna, consolidating the two peoples as one. The Principality of Vitenna shall be absorbed into the Sultanate, the people of Fonsi having already been relocated to Al-Faiz prior to this announcement due to unforeseen circumstances. The people of the ever-growing Sultanate and the Principality shall rejoice at this new step in their relationship. The Sultanate of Korvassa hereby grants to the people of Vitenna: Nobility to the Houses of Napoliza, Edwards, and Palaiologos. Homes for all of Fonsi’s remaining citizens. Shops for those who require them. A tax exemption for the duration of one Qali month. The regent of Vitenna, Sapphira Loretta, wishes it to be known that the Sultanate has offered this out of the kindness of their hearts, for no possible gain to themselves, and therefore has ordered that the remaining gold belonging to the treasury of the Principality be given to the Sultanate and that the arms and horses of La Coeranza di Vitenna be given to the Sultanate’s Armed Forces posthaste. The titles of "Duke of Fonsi" and "Prince of Vitenna" will be given to the Sultan, and the title of ”Count of Pestilles” will revert back to the de Alence family. In order to cement this union, a marriage between the Sayyid, Sultan Al-Mujaddid and Lady Sapphira Loretta, Regent of Vitenna will take place in the near future. Signed, SAYYID AS’SADAAT, Ameen “Al-Mujjadid” Al-Nabeel, Sultan of Korvassa, Prince of Vitenna, Sheikh of Al-Faiz, Duke of Fonsi, Sword of Allah, Defender of Faiths, Defender and follower of Al’Iman Rashidun, Supreme Leader of the Qalasheen, Defender and Protector of the Farfolk people, Commander of the Sultanate’s Armed Forces, Sovereign of Korvassa Lady Sapphira Loretta, Regent of Vitenna, Lady of House Napoliza
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