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Fire Emblem: Curse of the Goddess [IC/PG-16/Not Accepting]

Cohost: Lord CowCow Fire Emblem Adventure Fantasy

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#41
Alaina

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Did Alois believe he could take on the bandit leader by himself? Absolutely not. This bandit leader seemed to prove himself stronger than Alois already. Did he think that the people around him were competent enough to kill this man while he was attacking? Well he certainly hoped so, otherwise they had bigger issues to deal with. As he clashed with the bandit, he was able to hold his own in a power struggle for a bit, though that couldn't last forever. Thankfully, for whatever reason, he started to collapse and Alois's axe blade was starting to go straight towards its mark. The cocky grin that had formed on Alois's face gave way to one of just pure bewilderment as the reason Bazba fell became very evident. Forcing himself away from the man, Alois had barely managed to stop his axe before it went straight into the neck of the new guy, though had found himself horribly off balance as a result. And of course, because of this, he was easily knocked off his feet and sent to the ground. 

 

Thankfully the now horrible situation was turned better as the lordess went to attack the bandit leader. While Alois was fully ready to join back in on the fight, first picking himself up off the ground, it seemed it wasn't necessary. After the bandit was killed, not so hot headed anymore as it would be, the new guy seemed to start shouting and praising the girl. With a bit of a confused expression on his face in regard to the man, he let out a, "y-yeah." His going back to normal, he gave a smile to the lordess and gave a thumbs up saying, "you got some nice moves there Cat." After congratulating her, he went to go pick up the spoils of war, finding a pretty nice axe on the body of the beheaded bandit. Taking the axe for himself, he basically lifted another weight off of dear old Bazba's shoulders. 

 

As Petite started lecturing her sister, Alois could only nod his head in agreement as the weird guy told her there was nothing to worry about. With a bit of a smirk on his face, he walked over to the younger sister, patting on her the head and trying to assert the height difference between them, (no matter how small it may have been,) saying. "Yeah, you worry to much Short Stack. Besides, everything went" his voice then went into a mocking version of her own, "'just as planned.'" The new guy then went on to praise Catriona some more, which made Alois's face only turn to more concern. Looking at his wounds, he was either delirious, or just naturally crazy. Looking at the two princesses, pointing to the man with his voice becoming more deadpan, he asked , "seriously though what's up with this weirdo. Do you guys know him or something?" 


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#42
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"You worry too much. I...I am certain beyond... any doubt that The Lady is more than able to protect herself from any mere mortal."

 

Penelope stared at the stranger. "Worry too much? Worrying is my job so that reckless people like yourself don't get themselves killed....And who in the world are you anyway?" She just realized she was talking to someone who had shown up out of the blue. "How can we trust you, coming in like that and speaking nonsense about 'mere mortals'." She poked the boy in the chest, a surprising instance of forwardness...and he toppled over. "O-oh my." She hadn't known he was in such a bad state. "Malu, over here now, please!"

 

Just on cue Alois decided to get far far far too close for comfort. In that instant he counter-acted his earlier good will he had gotten in Penelope's eyes, which were now flashing with panic and anger. However she had expended her rage for the day, and instead suddenly whipped around and hurried off, taking the fighter off guard and tearing away from his touch.

She kept going, reciting dictionary definitions under her breath as she went to the far side of the wagon.

 

Gunther saw this, and groaned. He looked down at the two prisoners. He had to keep watch over them, despite that everyone was conversing and going about business elsewhere. Adding to that, Penelope was having a hard time and he wanted to help. None of the others really knew her very well, and had little reason to help her. Worse was that some might try the wrong way, which could be a problem.

However he knew it'd be even worse to leave his post, for tactical and emotional reasons, so there he waited.

"So uh....nice weather we're having?" He said to the archer, who regarded him with utmost confusion. "Hey it's not like I got anyone else to talk to right now."


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#43
Y'shtola

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The ground was cool where Catriona fell, kept out of the worst of the sun by the tree cover overhead. She could feel the heat radiating from the bandit leader's body nearby, and the tickle of the grass against her skin.

 

"Fallen warrior, may you find peace in the afterlife," the mercenary swordsman they had hired whispered nearby. The voice jolted the woman from her doze, but her limbs felt numb and weak. Gods, I've barely the strength to stand, she thought. But stand she did, supported by a helping hand from Anaïs, who looked even more serious than usual. Is she well? Anaïs was a faithful, if overly dutiful woman, as well as the person Catriona was closest to here. If there was something wrong with her, then it had to be attended to. After a quiet "thank you," she shrugged the myrmidon off to lean against a nearby tree. It was a bit humiliating to need such a crutch, but she feared she'd fall down again without it.

 

And then the boy from before hobbled over to her. The one who had so bravely thrown himself into the fray. "Glory, praise, and honor to you!" Catriona started in shock at the familiar accent. It was a bit different from the one she was used to, but it was undeniably Pontic. How many times had she heard curses flung her way in that same accent?

 

"You got some nice moves there Cat," Alois, the fighter who had gone toe to toe with the leader gave her a thumbs up. Smiling despite herself at his casual way of speaking, so much like the soldiers she had fought alongside and grew to respect, she replied with a nod of acknowledgement. "You as well."

 

And then Penelope stood in front of her, fists on hips. "You....You...dunderhead! You have to be more careful, if you fall, then the moral blow to the country alone could be devastating, your allies are here to help you not the other way around!" How long had it been since she had heard Penelope sound this way? Before she could reply in her defense, her allies spoke for her.

 

"You worry too much."

 

"Yeah, you worry to much Short Stack. Besides, everything went 'just as planned.'"

 

"I...I am certain beyond... any doubt that The Lady is more than able to protect herself from any mere mortal." If the lord had had doubts before, she didn't anymore. When she had been kidnapped, she had heard them call the goddess that term.
 

Alois turned to the two princesses in confusion. "Seriously though what's up with this weirdo. Do you guys know him or something?" Catriona could only shake her head. She opened her mouth to speak, but found herself interrupted before she could.

 

"Worry too much? Worrying is my job so that reckless people like yourself don't get themselves killed....And who in the world are you anyway?" It sounded like her sister was still going strong. "How can we trust you, coming in like that and speaking nonsense about 'mere mortals'." And then with a single poke from the shorter girl, the boy fell over. "O-oh my. Malu, over here now, please!"

 

In all the confusion, Catriona had lost both an opportunity to explain herself to her sister and relieve the boy of his misconceptions. Shaking her head, she decided...to stay right where she was. At least until she had recovered more.

 

--

 

"So uh....nice weather we're having? Hey it's not like I got anyone else to talk to right now."

 

The archer rolled his eyes. "Not much one for conversations, are ya, Mr. Knight?" He couldn't believe he had been defeated by this guy.

 

--

 

BGM

 

Anaïs had faded into the background, mulling over the battle. She hadn't been able to fulfill her duty. She had failed her liege, had failed her duty. What use was she now? Not to mention she had received a courier pigeon just the day before, informing her of her father's recent illness. She had decided against returning, feeling her duty lay with the princess more than her father at the moment, but...

 

But with recent events, she couldn't help but feel useless. The princess hadn't even glanced her way for support then. How could she be her lady's sword and shield when her lady wouldn't even accept her aid?

 

"My lady..." she spoke from her position beside the princess. "I...I..." she explained her circumstances, finishing with a question. "What should I do?"
 

Catriona stared directly at her. Many had likened her eyes to ice, but Anaïs felt they were more like twin sapphires, or even blue diamonds. Pure and strong. "Anaïs, I order you to return. Back to where your father needs you." Her words were firm and unyielding. "It need not be now, but--"

 

"No, I'll leave now." Anaïs winced at the accidental interruption. "My apologies, my lady, but..." she glanced at the others. Though most of them were knaves, they had proven themselves in this battle, so at least she wouldn't be leaving the princess in untrustworthy hands. "I do not believe it right to stay any longer, now that I have been ordered to leave."

 

Bowing to the princesses, and nodding a farewell to Gunther, she ran westward, back to where it all began. Back to Galtea.


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#44
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Asura had finished the task of clearing off the roads when he turned to check on the team. Seems the farm boy had fallen over due to his wounds. Poor guy. He saw Alois talking to the princesses and Gunther was guarding the prisoners. He night as well join the party. He walked over to the group and stood next to Alois, leaning on his sword casually.

"Well, that didn't go so badly for our first fight as a group, Asura commented. "Next time though, I'll wait until the tactician princess makes a better plan than 'We cannot just pass them by,'. I'll admit right now I jumped the gun in order to protect that merchant and get some kills... Speaking of...," he paused to pick up his sword. "Can I kill him?" Asura suddenly asked, pointing his sword at the archer. He stared intensely, the bloodlust nearly radiating off of him before he sheathed his sword. "Just kidding. Wanted to scare the bastard. I'm not from the Beir tribe, you know," Okay, maybe that joke was in poor taste. Better change the subject. He looked over to Alois. "How many did you kill?"


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#45
Alaina

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After having joked around with the littlest princess, Alois's expression became a bit confused as the girl seemed to react pretty disproportionately to his teasing. As she just sort of fiercely walked away, Alois just shrugged, figuring it was either something he could do nothing about, or she was just a really sensitive person. The latter of which went back to the former. And so, Alois just let her be as he turned his attention to the confusing, and possibly confused, stranger that had helped them fight. Cat apparently had no idea who he was, which Alois found a bit weird given how absolutely zealous he was towards her, but that could have just been how people treated royalty around these parts. Nevertheless, he seemed pretty much harmless and helpless at the moment, so the axe wielder didn't really care much to follow up on his curiosity. 

 

The one who seemed less harmless, the big lug who had blood lust on the brain 24/7 several days a week, was of much greater concern to him at the moment. As the man questioned his kill count, proving himself master of small talk, Alois held his head in false shame. "I couldn't get a single kill on my blade. No matter how many I fought, it seemed like I just couldn't get the killing blow on them. The ladies here are quite the finishers here, you know?" After conveying his false disappointment to the sword wielder, he took notice of all of the wounds the man had on him. With a smirk on his face, he then asked him, "so, how many times did you nearly die?"


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#46
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"Malu, over here now, please!"

 

"Yeah," they yelled, choking back more tears. "I'll be right there. C'mon Igrid, let's walk there together."

 

As the duo neared the group, Malu'kai saw quite a few things: A person that they could only assume be a prisoner, a headless bandit leader, a small child passed out on the grass... Wait, a small child passed out on the grass?! Malu'kai ran to him, Igrid only a few paces behind. "What happened to this child? You know what, I don't wanna hear it. Igrid, can you carry him?" Igrid whinnied and lowered his neck to nudge at the passed out boy, then looked at Malu'kai and nodded. "Good boy, you're gonna be getting something special tonight. C'mon, let's get 'em on there." Malu'kai hefted the small, limp body of the boy onto Igrid. "Meifing, you got a med kit or something, right?" They didn't wait for a reply "I'll leave this one in your hands; I don't think I can handle any more magic today. Igrid, go make friends with the nice lady." Igrid, though reluctant to leave his friend, went over to the woman and nudged her with his head. 

 

"Now then, who's our new friend?" Malu'kai said, pointing at the man set between the Tinman and the Scarcrow


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#47
Y'shtola

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Catriona sighed, slouching against the tree she leaned against. I did what was right...right? Anaïs had lost the fervor for the journey, and she didn't want half-hearted companions. This journey was trial enough even for her. No, she wouldn't ask somebody to travel with her if they didn't want to anymore. But she couldn't help but regret it. Anaïs had been her closest friend here, and now...she was gone.

 

She closed her eyes and breathed in deeply. This pain she felt, this suffering...this wasn't the first time she felt this way, and it wouldn't be the last. But she had to push on, regardless. No matter how much she wanted to sink to the ground and weep.

 

The lord straightened her shoulders and applied another dose of the vulnerary given to her on her wounds. Feeling some strength come back to her, she hobbled over to where the boy had fallen. On closer inspection, he was quite tall for somebody his age, but he didn't look so good.

 

"Meifing, you got a med kit or something, right? I'll leave this one in your hands; I don't think I can handle any more magic today."

 

"I can do this," Catriona said quietly, crouching over him and taking out the unused vulnerary. While not a specialist in healing, she had learned some basics of first aid on the border. She started to apply it to his wounds, especially the one in his back. However, she could tell he would still need plenty of rest to fully recover. They all would. Looking around the area, she winced. This bloody battlefield was no place to rest. Though Asura had so kindly removed the bodies, they would still attract predators and flies.

 

Meanwhile, the civilian man had recovered his horse, a pretty blue roan with black stockings. With the aid of his horse, he righted the wagon again, and was busy reorganizing the contents. Whistling cheerily, he seemed completely unmindful of how he had been ignored. After finishing, he approached the gathering around the boy, and shook his head. "Hoo-ee. He's a right mess, ain't he? Still, looks good enough to be moved. Tell you what, as thanks for saving me, I'll let him ride in the wagon. I know a spot nearby that should work as a campsite."

 

It was as if he had read her mind. Catriona shook her head in wonderment. "My gracious thanks to you," she said. "But are you sure--?"

 

"Sure I'm sure. As sure as eggs is eggs," he interrupted. "And none of that fancy noble speech, ya hear? I'm happy to do this for you kind folks."

 

"Then...thank you," the lord nodded, her lips quirking into a smile. "That would be highly appreciated."

 

"What did I tell you about talking all pretty? But lift this end and I'll lift the other, and we can get him in there." With their combined effort, they managed to place the boy into the wagon. Despite her wariness toward his origins, Catriona couldn't deny that he had saved her life, so she would do all she can to help him recover, at least. After taking a few minutes to tie up loose ends, during which time the civilian man stripped the battlefield of weapons and armor and picked up the thief, they set off for the campsite.

 

--

 

After twenty minutes of walking, they reached a hilltop with a grand view of the surroundings. "Here it is. I call this Lookout's Hill. A couple hour's march from here is the city of Ithome, but I reckon you all need some sleep first before tackling that distance."

 

"I am sure we can survive," Catriona replied, tone stubborn. "Hardship builds character."

 

"Perhaps, but I think you've had enough character buildin' for today. Oh, by the way, the name's Jake. I'm a blacksmith from Ithome, but every so often I travel elsewhere to get more materials and sell off my wares," Jake held out a hand to shake.

 

"True, and it's a pleasure to meet you, Jake," the white-haired woman took the proffered hand. "My name is Catriona, and these are..." she proceeded to introduce the others. "Again, my thanks for the assistance."

 

--

 

As the day passed into evening, Jake built a campfire around which most everybody sat. The two prisoners were tied and bound nearby. The archer was grumbling to himself, while the thief just sat there, looking amazed to still be alive. He also kept shooting Meifing nervous glances.

 

Dinner was a barebones meal of bread, cheese, and jerky, washed down with either water or wine, whichever was preferred.

 

"So what are you planning on doing when you reach Ithome?" Jake asked.

 

Catriona paused. He seemed trustworthy enough. "We're looking for information on the Great Dragon," she explained.

 

"Oh, okay," the man didn't seem that surprised. "Didn't take you for the scholarly sort, but it's true that of all the countries, Histia has the greatest connection with the Great Dragon. Yeah, you might find something in Ithome's libraries. There are three of them, one in each sector. If not that, then the Council of Three might know something. Mind you, they don't talk to anybody that comes in off the street, but I have a feeling you folks ain't just anybody."

 

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#48
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As they sat down to dinner tonight, as was usually the case, Penelope was instantly surrounded and her sister Catriona, so naively serious, kept the conversation strictly business. So lacking anything better to do, Feray sat near Meifing (whose name, embarrassingly enough, she'd just learned today) and the prisoners and tried not to gag on her jerky. She felt something of a connection to the shaman and the thief, having saved both of their lives. She certainly felt safer by them

 

Apparently they were going to direct their increasingly vague quest according to the advice of a random stranger. Well, it's not like I'd do anything better by myself. Feray smirked for a moment, then took another bite of jerky and lost her sense of joy in the world.

 

They were headed to some libraries in Ithome. That was back the way she'd come. Hopefully the guards there don't remember me, Feray thought as she choked down the last strip of jerky she could manage. ...They probably remember me, though. That incident wasn't exactly easy to forget.


Edited by Supreme Gamesmaster, 05 February 2016 - 11:37 PM.


#49
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Penelope had her nose in her book once more while they traveled. She noted Anais' absence and subconsciously began adjusting strategies. Gunther had wished her luck and this reminded Penelope to mention she hopes things turned out okay. She was in a foul mood but this was a trying time for Anais, not a time to scold her.

But as soon as that happened, back to the book. Gunther kept trying to prod her to spout off random facts, or anything, but she kept silent up until they reached the site they'd be camping out.

She turned to Gunther, stone-faced and with a dark look in her eyes. Gunther gulped, worried to what was to come. "Er, what is it?"

 

"20% of all camping trips end in one of the campers being murdered." She said, then turned on her heel and walked away. Gunther stared after her, mouth open, and then immediately began patrolling the perimeter, looking for signs of danger.

When she made it out of direct earshot of Gunther, Penelope started to giggle uncontrollably. It would seem strange to anyone who saw her, especially given her previous demeanor. But she had gotten over the awkward situation about halfway to their current location.

 

She snorted a bit, when she saw Gunther looking underneath a rock. "Apparently Anais left some of her spirit behind in Gunther." Her eyes then landed on the prisoners. She approached them confidently.

"Your crimes could be punishable by death, you know. It's very common for bandits who attack members of nobility to be tied to a horse before it's let to run through the streets. Completely naked except for a helm to prevent a quick death." it was, in fact, not common at all. But it was enough of a folk tale that it was believable. "However I'm willing to forgive and forget, but you need to earn that. Tell me all about the bandits in the area."

 

The archer glared at her but the thief began to speak. "I'm really sorry about all that miss. I didn't want anyone to get hurt really, didn't know they were gonna kill the guy, I just wanted to knock him out and take his stuff! Okay that sounds bad. But really truly! I want to help him if I can, to repay what I did."

 

The archer growled. "You're just saying that because you fell asleep on the job again, and you know you can't go back if you wanted."

 

"No no! Well kinda, but honest! I want to help, please please have mercy and let me help! I'm terrified of horses!" He eyed Malu's horse with suspicion and fear.

 

"I'll...think about it.." Penelope paused. "But if I find out you lied I'll feed you to the horse! Didn't you know, horses love meat. They can survive without it but they just looove to get fresh meat....See ya!" She walked off, heading over to the merchant and her sister to discuss this development.


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#50
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Edrick was really only dimly aware of what was happening around him after the girl, who admittedly looked to be about his age, sent him sprawling to the ground. It seemed, for the next several hours, that he was floating back and forth between life and death. The fact that he saw the Goddess tending to him did nothing to convince him otherwise, but he was not bothered by the possibility that he might die. Oh no, he had achieved the greatest thing that any servant of Inera could hope to do, and he was happy to slip away into her realm as life faded from him.

 

The next several hours passed in a daze, that made him feel as if both an eternity had passed and no time had gone by at all. He felt his back resting against hard wood, an irritating pang every now and then as a splinter dug itself into his skin only to be removed by whoever among the group was tasked with tending to his wounded body when they noticed his discomfort. His thoughts strayed this way and that, without any easily discernible difference between waking and sleeping. Eventually, his wounds and exhaustion won out and he drifted into a sleep that, superficially at least, made him appear as if he were dead.

 

His dreams made little sense, simply flashes of sensations and feelings. A pang of fear without obvious cause, the feeling of cut wheat against the soles of his feet, and even the taste of...something. He couldn't quite make out what it was supposed to be, but it was a bizarre mix of sour and bitter that made him want to vomit. Of course he couldn't, mainly because his stomach was empty. He had been interrupted in eating his lunch by the sounds of battle after all. Speaking of sounds, one in particular disturbed his rest and so he rolled onto his side to try and go back to relaxing.

 

The pain of suddenly putting the whole of his body weight on that axe wound shocked him back into the waking world with a pained cry that sent birds, which had been settling into their roosts for the night, flying off the branches and trying to escape the sound. In much the same manner he threw himself out of the cart and onto his feet with surprising agility, only to end up falling to his knee and sucking in his breath as pain exploded in his shoulder and side. He was left there for several moments waiting for it to subside, before he could stand up and look over the group in front of him.

 

It was, as made sense now that he considered it, the very same group that he had encountered earlier fighting alongside the goddess. Of course Inera was nowhere to be found... and now that he was in much more a right mindset he began to wonder what he'd been thinking. It didn't make any sense, and she couldn't possibly have been there! Oh, he just felt phenomenally stupid for having thought that... but that did raise the question of who he'd actually seen fighting the bandit leader. A somewhat more pressing question came up as he felt a chill breeze across his chest

 

"So, um...what happened to my shirt?" He looked about, somewhat awkwardly, at the group of more or less strangers that he had run into... and apparently been saved by. "Oh...right... thanks for saving my life. Though if that lady with the sword hadn't run off right when I ran in it might not've needed saving." He let out a laugh after that, trying to force himself to find some humor in his near demise and thus avoid getting overly worried about how high his chances of dying on this venture were. It had worked decently well in the past. "Anyways, guess I oughta introduce myself. I'm Edrick, and I'm curious if any of you've seen a red roan mare about six years old with a splotch of cream on her left flank." Not that he really thought he would get anywhere with that, but he figured he might as well ask.



#51
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Meifing had always enjoyed the night. It was calm and peaceful, despite the crackle of the fire, and noise caused by her companions. Meifing sat on a large flat topped rock away from the rest of her companions, and attempted to ignore the nervous glances the thief kept giving her. She really didn't think she was that threatening... was she? Well, there was little use in being bothered by it, and without another thought the dark mage shrugged and returned to reading her tome. Upon dinner's completion Meifing gathered her portion, and returned to her space not really wanting to be bothered by the others.

 

However not long into the night Meifing's interest was again piqued at the sound of discourse. It appeared the younger of the two sisters was attempting to extort information from their prisoners, and while the archer remained stubborn, the thief boy cracked like a nut. 

 

"Hmph," Meifing snorted, "not much of a spine on that one, he snapped in record time." The dark mage cackled quietly before raising her voice so both men could hear her. "You know, she's not the one you should be afraid of... dark mages hold very long grudges." Meifing gave a sinister smile making sure her gaze lingered on the thief a bit longer. "There is a reason," Meifing rose from her seat to reveal the now bandaged wound the boy had inflicted on her, "the Goddess fears my kind." Now inches from the thief she knelt down to his level letting a small crackle of her dark magic fizzle past his ear. 

 

Without giving the boy a second glance Meifing left him there to most likely soil himself. However it appeared that their newest addition had awoken, and seemed to be looking for a horse.

 

"I'm sorry young man, I can't say I have," Meifing replied with an apologetic shake of her shoulders, "however I do wish you success in your endeavor."


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#52
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Asura, despite what he tried to make himself believe, was human. So when they came to a hilltop with an honestly beautiful view of the surrounding areas, the swordsman was secretly relieved. He plopped down on the ground, cleaning his sword as a fire was started. His sword was his most reliable ally after all, and it deserved to be cleaned as well.

Soon, dinner was served, and Asura ate like a wild animals, devouring his entire portion in record time. Screw the fancy meals of the high and mighty, this was all it took to satisfy him. Granted, this plus stew was pretty much what he was raised on, so he could down it like it was a feast fit for kings.

"Oh man, that was good...," He muttered as he took a break to adjust the wrapping on his side. It was starting to slip off, but hey, it could be worse. He stood up, grinning as he rested his sword on his shoulder. "So, it's a lovely night... Anyone up for a spar?" He asked as he ignored his wounded side. A warrior must always train to stay at the top of his game, after all!


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#53
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"Catriona we should discuss something." Penelope realized she might have been interrupting her but this was important. She explained the situation with the thief, expressing her belief that the man wanted to somehow redeem himself. That's when Jake jumped in, saying he'd be willing to let the thief work for him, which concerned Penelope. They discussed this for a while, until the young man from earlier came out of the wagon.

 

Meifing was the first to respond to him, and Penelope expresses similar hopes. "If you'd like, you could travel with us at least until the next city. You shouldn't be out here on your own, especially given your...tendency to try and fend off bandits." She smiled, amused, at him. A brave young man, for sure. Maybe something was wrong with his head, seeing as how he was speaking earlier.

 

Penelope left the rest to the others, and headed to a low stump near the fire. After checking to make sure it was smooth, and with a small laugh as she remembered her guard, checked for spiders, she sat down.

Her intent was to pull out a book to read, but then her hand brushed against her sword, Katarina. She pulled it from the sheath and looked at it. Gunther had wordlessly cleaned it on the way, but she remembered what she had done with it.

 

The memory of the moment was clear in her mind, the adrenaline, the feeling of the sword meeting the resistance of the bandit's flesh. The look and smell and sounds of death. She shuddered. How do people do this so easily? How did she do it so easily. She didn't want this, this killing. It was...painful. For everyone involved. She noticed her hand quivering. She tightened her hand to try and steady it. Could she do it again? Would this become easier? Did she want it to become easier? She didn't know the answer.

 

 

 

Gunther finished his patrol just at the same time as realizing Penelope was probably messing with him...again. He sighed and tromped back to the main camp, seeing Penelope, and beginning in that direction. But, something seemed off about her. He decided it wouldn't be good to disturb her now. He wasn't good at anything but taking hits, he couldn't help her right now. Perhaps later he'd talk with her, and hopefully blunder into the right response.

He overheard Asura's request for a spar. He walked over, though he didn't intend to spar. He didn't want to fight, even fake fight, the fierce man. Injury is all that would come from that.

 

But he felt he needed to say something. While he was searching for threats he had realized something distressing. He was now the only professional soldier left. Catriona was a fine Lord, and Penelope was an intelligent Tactician, but neither were truly official soldiers. Catriona had experience, but also was meant for greater things. Penelope wasn't an official Tactician, yet. And the rest of their band were mostly mercenary forces. He couldn't live up to the ideal that Anais or others could, but he had to at least attempt it.

 

"Asura, I do not know if that is wise." He started. Damn, too soft, but what could he do? "We just came from a battle, it would be best to rest before we end up pushing ourselves too far." Was that good? Probably not, he screwed up for sure, ah well...It's to be expected.

 

 

 

The thief tried to back himself even farther away from the dark mage as she made her threat, unfortunately the tree made that difficult. "I'm sorry for, you know, stabbing you. I had just woken up, groggy and shit, you know what it's like ha...haha..." He realized his weak attempt to joke wouldn't do much good. "Look miss, I don't even know anything bout no Goddess, but I can't just not fight people what be fighting the guys that make sure I'm fed, ya know? Maybe you could let it slide just this once? Please miss I just wanna be able to nap in peace."


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#54
Y'shtola

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Catriona nodded at Jake and took mental notes. She had been about to reply when Penelope approached of her own volition, a rare moment for the normally shy girl. Perhaps this journey will be good for her, the lord thought. At least, with this, she could rest assured... No, now was not the time for such thoughts. Focusing back on the matter at hand, she listened attentively, a frown crossing her face when Jake mentioned the boy could work for him. She didn't make it a habit of trusting thieves, but the blacksmith seemed hardy enough to look out for himself. Maybe he saw something in the boy that she didn't?

 

Penelope seemed to share her misgivings, and argued against this. She and Jake went back and forth for a while until the injured boy from earlier emerged from the wagon.

 

"So, um...what happened to my shirt?" The boy looked around with a lost expression. "Oh...right...thanks for saving my life. Though if that lady with the sword hadn't run off right when I ran in it might not've needed saving." He laughed a bit nervously. "Anyways, guess I oughta introduce myself. I'm Edrick, and I'm curious if any of you've seen a red roan mare about six years old with a splotch of cream on her left flank."

 

Catriona winced at the mention of Anaïs. She had been attempting to ignore her absence, but it looked like that wouldn't work so well. That woman, Feray, had been shooting her questioning looks throughout the evening, though she had seemed more and more nervous herself as the evening wore on.

 

"I'm sorry young man, I can't say I have," Meifing, the shaman, replied, "however I do wish you success in your endeavor."

 

"If you'd like, you could travel with us at least until the next city. You shouldn't be out here on your own, especially given your...tendency to try and fend off bandits."

 

Catriona suppressed a snort at that. From what she had seen of him earlier, even with the wounds he had now, he would still probably throw himself at bandits if he came across them. No, far safer to travel in a group, with people looking out for him. Still...his accent... Was she the only one that recognized it? Shuffling in her seat uneasily, she decided to reply. "Your thanks is unnecessary, Edrick. You threw yourself into the fray without a single regard for your own self, and saved my life in the process. It is only right that we did the same." Thinking for a second on his question, she eventually continued. "I have not seen a horse fitting that description, no. But Penelope is right. You are welcome to travel with us to the next city, and perhaps beyond that." Though you may find you wish to leave after learning of our purpose.

 

"My name is Catriona," she introduced, "And this is Penelope, a tactician, also my sister," she added the last as an afterthought. "That armored man looking under that rock is Gunther, the boy with the axe is Alois, the person with the horse is Malu'kai, the horse Ingrid, the lady who replied to you is called Meifing, the lady here Feray, and this," she paused to nod at the myrmidon currently shoveling food down his throat like a wild animal, "is Asura. This man here is named Jake."

 

"Hey, how you doin'?" Jake grinned. "I have your scythe on a stick, by the way. Surprised that thing's still in one piece, but you can have both that and the lance I gave you earlier." He paused, appraising the boy critically. "Might be willin' to give you some armor too, maybe keep you from gittin' injured like that in the future."

 

Later, when Asura mentioned a spar, Catriona started to stand up from her sitting position, eager to accept, but was pushed down by Jake. "Here, you need to take it easy, y'know?" It was only the sting of her wounds that kept her from continuing to rise, and she settled down with a grumble of, "It is good to keep our skills sharp." Still, even she had to admit that a spar the very same night as a battle was a bit much. Who knows if we might yet need the energy to fight? she thought.


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#55
Alaina

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As the group continued onward, Alois was taken aback by the sight of the scenery the hill top they were on. Ever since his departure from home, he had been left with nothing but mundane walking, bandit killing and the same old scenery around him everywhere they went. This was the first instance of something that truly stood out to him, causing him to let out an impressed whistling noise at the view. As the group settled down and set up camp, Alois just sort of lazed around and rested up. His feet were sore, he himself was pretty exhausted from walking all day long and fighting, and the ground was a pretty soft cushion. As he had lied back on the grass, eating his dinner, the new guy who had joined them to fight the bandits finally woke up from his slumber. 

 

Casually responding to his question about his shirt, Alois said, "probably don't want something tattered and covered in your own blood on you." He didn't quite get why this guy was looking for a horse, but didn't quite care either and just let him be with their two fearless females. As Cat introduced the group, he just gave a simple wave in response to him, and then looked towards Asura who was offering a sparring challenge. Of course, pansy face Gunther went to the man to try and stop him, but Alois couldn't just decline from something like this. Getting off the ground, he walked over to Gunther and was going to jokingly put his arm around him and reassure him everything was fine, when he noticed something. Both Gunther and Asura were huge. Or was he just always this small? Despite being taken aback by the height of the others, he simply patted Gunther on the back, albeit with a bit more force then the usual kind of friendly pat and flashed him a cocky smile. 

 

"Now now flower boy, you don't have to be like that. It's not like he's going to go killing anyone in these duels," he reassured him. "Besides, men learn more about each other through their fists. And me and Asura don't really know much about each other now do we?" Waving the tall tank he said, "so you can just sit back and watch us have a thrilling conversation. That is," he looked up straight to Asura, cracking his knuckles, "your alright with having me as your sparring partner."


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#56
Asriel Dreemurr

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"Well, I guess I can't say I'm surprised." Edrick said with a sigh, disappointed in spite of not having expected any word about Elba's whereabouts. He didn't have much else to say on the subject, but he did manage to half stumble his way closer to the fire the party had gathered around and sit himself down on the ground to think. If they hadn't seen his horse, he should probably start figuring out where to go next. If the thief had taken Elba into Galtea, then she was as good as gone. There wasn't any real way that he would be able to get across the border, and even if he did he would probably just end up in a prison somewhere. His family wasn't exactly popular with the Galteans.
 
"If you'd like, you could travel with us at least until we reach the next city. You shouldn't be out here on your own, especially given your... tendency to try and fend off bandits."
 
"...Penelope is right. You are welcome to travel with us to the next city, and perhaps beyond that." Well, that certainly was an unexpected turn of fortune. Yes, if he were to travel with them then he would have a much better chance of finding Elba! Not to mention the fact that these people looked like the type who could help him get strong enough to put that thief in the ground for what he'd done. All in all, it sounded like a perfect idea. He nodded as Catriona introduced the group with them, committing their names and faces to memory. Penelope was the shorter girl who looked to be about his age. The man wearing armor and carrying a spear was Gunther. Their axe-wielding companion was called Alois, the only one among them with a horse, named Ingrid, was Malu'kai, a name that sounded to him like she had come from one of the tribes. The luck-wishing woman was Meifing, and the one among their number who had come to his aid was called Asura.

 

"Hey, how ya doin'?" And of course he couldn't forget Jake, the merchant who'd thrown him the spear. He was already taking a liking to this man, though he frowned at his mention of the Scythe's condition.

 

"Yes, I suppose it is a small miracle that it's held together for so long. I was hurryin' when I made it. You uh... you can keep it if you think you can sell it. The blade's still good anyways, and my da's got another back home." The comment about armor made him... somewhat uncomfortable. He had no real experience wearing the stuff, after all. It did, however, remind him that he was still missing his shirt as well as the comment Alois had made regarding not wearing it if it was covered in his own blood. "I uh... only had the one shirt with me, by the way. I used to have two others, but they got torn up between home and here. I would like to take you up on your offer to have me travel with you though. I'll just have to figure out what to do about a shirt..."



#57
Y'shtola

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Asura had been strangely unresponsive to Alois' comment, though perhaps it was Edrick's response that had him distracted. Jake shrugged at the remark about keeping the scythe. "I'm sure I can whip it back into shape if you want. Won't take too long for a man of my skills, if I do say so myself," he puffed his chest out with a bit of pride. "And as to yer shirt, I'm sure we can get one from one of the many shops in Ithome. For now though..." he turned to the nearby wagon and rummaged through a burlap knapsack, retrieving a plain brown homespun tunic that he tossed to the boy. "You can keep it if you want. I have plenty more where that came from. See if it fits."

 

Catriona wore an expression of confusion. For a simple merchant, this man seemed unbelievably generous. True, they had saved his life, but most people wouldn't be so free with their possessions, much less their services. Still, there was a rough honesty in his demeanor that made his actions unsurprising. "We would be glad to have you," she spoke, directing her voice toward Edrick. "Such courage as you have demonstrated is rare in these times." And truly, she meant every word.

 

--

 

Later that night, long after compline, Feray rose from where she had been keeping watch. Glancing at the troupe uneasily, she shook her head with a sense of finality. This group wasn't for her. While Penelope was cute, it didn't take a blind man to see there was something between her and her knight. And not only that, but she had felt increasingly uncomfortable with her place here. Perhaps there was something to be said for solitude.

 

Not to mention, the direction they're heading...is back thereThere meaning the place she had fled from. Perhaps others would call her a coward, but unlike Catriona, a reckless woman who seemed to be leading them all to a surefire doom, she was practical. No, she would much rather take her chances on the road by herself than accompany this band of misfits any longer, especially considering she was going back to Cardas instead of away.

 

She took out a piece of parchment and charcoal to write a quick note of apology, then paused. Would they even miss her? Shaking such self-indulgent thoughts from her mind, she scribbled the words out, and then stuck it in Penelope's bag. Why she did that, even she didn't really know. Perhaps she still held a flame toward her? Doubt crawled into her mind for a second, before she pushed it away and rose from her crouched position, and then walked away. It got easier with every step, until she couldn't even see the flicker of the campfire anymore.

 

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Chapter 2: The White City

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Date: August 27th, Year 556

Time: 9:00 AM (Terce)

Location: Ithome Sector Three outskirts, Histia

 

The next morning, a few questions were asked about Feray's absence, but they were quelled after Penelope saw the note. Catriona's earlier doubt at Anaïs' departure redoubled, and her normally stoic face showed furrowed brows and distant eyes. Still, she could do nothing but forge ahead, and hope that by the time the end came, they would have enough people to stop the goddess. Though, I will do this alone if I must. The thought caused her heart to pinch, a sensation she was long familiar with.

 

It was in this atmosphere of painful recollection that the group arrived at the outskirts of Ithome. They passed by farmland and peasant housing. But unlike the Galtean farmers, these people wore expressions of contentment and joy, and their clothes were of higher quality. Catriona had heard about Histia's revolutionary treatment of the lower classes. How they even participated in state matters, represented by officials who would inform the rulers of any injustice, and indeed influence the Council's decisions.

 

Most of the Galtean nobles had scoffed at such matters, and deemed the country a doomed place. Still, it had been a century, and Histia had shown no sign of decline. Catriona herself was curious to see more of this place she had only heard of, and never visited.

 

The people seemed to recognize Jake, and called out to him as they passed. While their attitude was decidedly cooler toward the company, they weren't hostile either, and the group made it to the base of one of Ithome's three great mountains unmolested. The princess had heard that Ithome was divided into three sectors. While she couldn't remember what they were called, she did know that each sector was governed by one of the Council of Three, joint rulers of Histia, and that each had very different opinions on Galtea.

 

The lord stopped suddenly when an arrow flew past and landed at the ground by her feet. "Be on guard," she warned. "There may be enemies nearby." Still, they were fairly close to the sectors. Who would dare attack a peaceful merchant party here?

 

OOC

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#58
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A Surprise Attack!

 

As Tarizo let Lilith's arrow fly, she frowned in confusion. "Why the hell would these people capture him?" As she thought to herself, the confusion quickly turned into frustration. "Damn bandits these days, always with their petty capturing!" Silently brushing away her bright blonde hair from her face, Tari watched her foes scanning the area, and though not moving, were particularly looking in the direction her arrow came from, readying their weapons without actually pulling any out yet.

 

This young girl was never really one for… thinking, and soon remembered this as she realized there was no other cover to hide in than the back of the house she was currently at. Taking a deep breath, Tari quickly zapped over to the road, stopping a fair distance away from the party of ruffians… The well dressed, polite looking ruffians. “Don’t let them trick you! First, they’re just some travelers, next, they’re assassins driving a dagger into your back!”

 

Her unchanging stern expression then began to yell. “Hey, you! What’re you doing with the man I was told to find? Did you perhaps steal him?!” Then a moment later, before the enemy even had a chance to realize she had spoken, the 6”3 girl continued. “No time for talking! Looks like I’ll have to free Jake by force.” Suddenly, she was off, dashing towards her foes at lightning fast speed, a razor-sharp arrow in each hand, and with several long strides was within meters of the enemy.

 

True to her usual ditsy fashion, Tari failed to assess the terrain, bashing the heel of her high heels against an abnormally large rock in the path, crushing the stalk of the shoe, and causing her to trip over, face-planting in the most painful way possible. Tarizo’s head skidded along the ground, with her shrieking all the way with it, before it stopping inches from the feet of the leader of the party.


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#59
Alaina

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The next morning came without much incident, though Alois couldn't help but feel something was off. Looking at the rest of the party, he had the off feeling that their group's size didn't quite match up. It seemed to be exactly the same size as it was the day before, but they gained people to their party, so how did that work? He simply brushed this off feeling away and went back to stretching his body out, as it was still sore from the fighting of yesterday, and got ready to go to the group's next destination. 

 

As they arrived at Histia's Capital City, Ithome, Alois was taken aback, once more, by another foreign sight to him. He had heard of the great cities of the world and it wasn't as if he had literally never seen any sort of building in his life. It was just something like Ithome made his own home town look like a pebble in the face of a mountain. A bit of child like excitement came over him, but he made sure to keep himself appearing calm and collected before the group noticed. 

 

As they continued their little uneventful walk towards the city, an event happened. An arrow lodged itself in the ground in front of the group, causing Alois to immediately get on guard, his hand moving towards his axe handle. Being on alert, the young boy looked around to see where the shooter could have been, when suddenly, a young lady charged the older princess, with arrows in hand. While Alois was ready to move in to stop her, it seemed that any sort of intervention was widely unnecessary. 

 

His face took an expression of both confusion and an utter lack of amusement on it, as he watched the girl manage to trip on practically nothing and fall flat on her face. He had no idea what to make of this person and even before she assaulted them, she said something that didn't really appear to make too much sense either. "The hell is her problem?" Alois wondered aloud. He then turned to Jake, looking for answers as he pointed at her. "A friend of yours?"


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Asriel Dreemurr

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The journey from their camp site to the outskirts of Ithome was an especially exhausting one for Edrick. This was because on top of the fact that he was still sporting some fairly serious, if not immediately life threatening, wounds, he was now clad in the armor that the bandit leader had been wearing the day before. The mix of leather and metal plating was quite heavy, but that wasn't really the main concern he had regarding it. His strength was enough that had he merely had to carry the gear he could probably have done it and not been in much worse condition than he had been with a full pack. No, he was simply ill prepared to actually wear armor. He had never worn any such thing before in his life, much less had to trek across the countryside wearing it. It restricted his movement in ways he hadn't expected, and in spite of Jake's assistance in adjusting it for his size that morning he was fairly certain it still didn't fit properly though he might have been imagining it.

 

"How...the hell...do ya wear crap like this?" He directed his question at Gunther, the only other member of their motley crew that seemed to be wearing as much metal as he was. Not that he really felt like the answer would make any amount of sense to him or even be helpful. No, it was just a question asked out of protest of his own situation. The only thing he could be thankful for was that he'd taken Jake up on the offer to have his shirt, else he would have been incredibly uncomfortable and most likely chafing from the armor. Of course he was probably still chafing, if the burning on his thighs was anything to go off, but he hoped it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

 

The Iron Lance he had received the other day was thankfully sturdy enough to help support his increasingly tired form. He looked it over, and realized that he wouldn't quite be able to use it as he had used his scythe, but there wasn't much to be done in the way of helping that. A brief stumble over a bump in the road had him almost lose his patience with the armor and set to ripping it off, but as he corrected it he found himself looking at Penelope and remembering the conversation they'd had that morning.

 

Flash Back!

 

So it was that he sucked it up, and decided to continue on in spite of the increasingly irritating armor. Thankfully, his discomfort reached a point at which it stopped getting worse and he was able to carry on only somewhat grumpily. At least the people around were friendly enough, which served to cool his own mood to the point that he wasn't liable to shout something he would regret. Really, it had him thinking of his home. The village wasn't that much different from the farmland they were passing through now, with the obvious exception of their current surroundings lacking a very large river. Truth be told there were also fewer fishermen that he could see, which was probably tied to the lack of any large bodies of water.

 

The sound of an arrow flying through the air only to bury itself in the path, Edrick snapped up much straighter than he had been and readied his lance. A few quick steps brought him up to the front of the party, and he thankfully managed to once more avoid falling as he stumbled, just in time to see the archer rushing them. Of course he didn't have to worry about potentially fighting the tall woman, because she promptly tripped, face-planted, and skidded to a stop in front of them. Raising an eyebrow, he turned to look quizzically at Catriona and then return his attention to the fallen archer.

 

"Why in the world..." he let his sentence trail off, remembering she'd said something about bandits, and then shot Penelope a look that had "I told you so" written all over it. Not that he said anything regarding it, he just planted his lance in the ground, took off the annoyingly hot headgear he'd been wearing, and crouched down next to the fallen woman. "Riddle me this. If it doesn't act like a bandit, and doesn't look like a bandit," he pointed to Catriona, Penelope, and Gunther in quick succession to draw her attention to their quite high quality gear, "is it a bandit? We're not bandits. Jake is fine, you can ask him yourself, and we're not going to hurt him or you." He managed something of a smile, and reached out his hand as an offer to help the woman up. Over the course of his movement, the bronze pendant bearing Inera's image that he wore around his neck had come loose, and was now hanging over the front of his armor.






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