- 1 9th May
- 2 11th May
- 3 10th May
- 4 11th May
- 5 12th May
- 6 13th May
- 7 14th May
- 8 15th May
- 9 16th May
- 10 17th May
- 11 18th May
- 11.1 Summer Day - Evora
- 11.1.1 Luna Tempest
- 11.1.2 Jaques Talos
- 11.1.3 Édouard Buyasta
- 11.1.4 Jaques Talos
- 11.1.5 Lindow Moonsun
- 11.1.6 Jaques Talos
- 11.1.7 Kiera Cavendish
- 11.1.8 Édouard Buyasta
- 11.1.9 Lindow Moonsun
- 11.1.10 Édouard Buyasta
- 11.1.11 Lindow Moonsun
- 11.1.12 Lindow Moonsun
- 11.1.13 Maccio Aurelle
- 11.1.14 Leonhard Of Xeno
- 11.1.15 Smiddich Fontaine
- 11.1.16 Brigdha Dubhaine
- 11.1.17 Aila Storme
- 11.2 Summer Evening - Evora
- 11.1 Summer Day - Evora
- 12 19th May
- 13 20th May
- 14 21st May
- 15 22nd May
- 16 23rd May
- 17 24th May
- 18 25th May
- 19 26th May
- 20 29th May
Summer Evening -- Braga
War Re-Declaration With Clear Goals
Tomorrow (Sunday, May 10), we will be sending live a package of updates that includes support for explicit reasons for declarations of war. We are requiring such declarations to follow certain rules, which can be found on the war declaration page, and the War Declarations wiki page.
We have decided that it is best not to permit any "grandfathered" cases, but to immediately mandate a valid reason for every declared war. We recognize that this is a significant change, and that what we will be doing to enforce this is unprecedented. However, we believe that it is necessary in the interests of fair play and transparency of goals and reasons for war.
On Tuesday, May 12, after the sunset turn, all War statuses in BattleMaster will be set to Neutral (Hatred, too). In addition, all nobles in enemy territory will be teleported to their own capitals (we would advise realms at war to use this time to move out of enemy territory and wait there until after the period of neutrality). This is to ensure there are no inadvertent—or exploitative—incidents during the (hopefully) brief period of readjustment. At that time, we strongly encourage everyone who was fighting a war as the aggressor to declare war once again giving both the reason for the war, and the specific goals that would lead to the war's end.
We would like to note that, while there are not yet clear guidelines written up on the precise details of this, we have come to the conclusion that we cannot continue to permit "dogpiling" where an entire continent (or nearly so) is at war with a single realm. Even if you feel you have sufficient in-character cause to go to war with a realm, we would like you to seriously consider another factor: Are there already enough realms fighting against them that their defeat is all but assured? If that is the case, then adding your realm to the pile will not change the outcome of the war, but might very well change whether the players in the realm being attacked can continue to enjoy the game. While a realm that botches its diplomacy should certainly expect to find itself on the wrong end of a beating, that beating should never be so utterly hopeless that it destroys the interest for the players in that realm of even logging into the game.
In the interests of transparency, we would also like to make it clear that as well as being sent to the entire continent along with the fact that war has been declared, every war declaration will be copied to the Titans, as name changes and rebellion reasons have been for many years now. While we expect that there will be some confusion during this transition period, and will be prioritizing education over punishment for now, it is our hope that once that has passed, Titan interventions due to an invalid war declaration will be exceedingly rare.
Additionally, we would like to remind everyone that game mechanics define reality. This is particularly important in cases where the game mechanics have been artificially limited to address abuses by players. Attempting to circumvent those game mechanics, and treat 3/4 of a continent as your allies when, according to the game, they are not, is exactly the abusive situation the mechanical change was made to prevent.
Again, we understand that this is an unprecedented step, and that it is likely to create some distress among some players, and we do apologize for this. However, we are confident that, provided the bulk of players are willing to work with us toward a game played with friends, the disruption in actual play will be brief and relatively painless.
Finally, we would like to emphasize one last point on this topic. We take no joy in introducing additional restrictions on the game. We have no interest in telling players how to play, beyond the basic broad guidelines of milieu and fair, friendly play. Our ideal is a game where the players work together as players to promote the fun of all, rather than insisting on promoting their own fun over everyone else's, or telling other players they're wrong when they come forward saying they feel like their fun is being ruined by others. The more players can do that, the fewer restrictions we will need to place and enforce on the game.
Kiera roles her eyes and orders the troops home.
"Lady Kiera, is there a problem?"
"The Gods have forced peace upon us, Sir Zenta. It is for them to understand why, as I certainly do not."
"Ah yes gods, why do they get to decide what we do?"
Summer Day - Oporto
"Thank you, Calvin. That will be all."
The scribe nodded and turned to leave, but hesitated at the door.
"Yes? Is there something else?"
"We-ell...I'm not sure, m'lady. Nothing really to be concerned about, I suppose, only.."
Kiera stared at the bald pate impatiently.
"This new noble - Sir Maximilian, his name is."
"He seems to think he is a...pirate, m'lady."
Kiera slumped back in her chair. "Oh, The Shadows take us!" she muttered tiredly.
Summer Evening -- Karbala
The Grey Guard was stationed near the Akesh Temple border with Sordidus. Lindow was in his tent, reading the letters.
- Sebas, bring me ink, I have to resolve a dispute impartially -
- Yes, Your Majesty, but take ... here is a new letter -
Lindow opened the letter and began to read
I find it hilarious, the only one I insult. Instead of accepting my challenge I receive a fine.
IS THIS WHAT WE DO NOW KING LINDOW!!!!!! YOUR JUDGE SO THREATEN SHE HAS TO FINE ME INSTEAD OF ACCEPTING MY CHALLENGE!!!!! SHE IS A COWARD KING LINDOW I AM SURE YOU CAN DO BETTER!!!!!!
Zenta Carson Knight of Negev
Then, Lindow left the letter on the table, sighed and looked to his butler
- Sebas, forget what I have told you, I can write with what little ink I have -
Zenta looking seriously conflicted on whether what he is doing is right or just a grab for power.
He still battles Daimons within him when suddenly he hears the black speech again.
Black speech: "tee ka bo da ne chu, me nee chee nu com teet."
Translation: "Bring me the head of Lindow, then the Daimons may be free."
Zenta scared to almost say anything says almost out loud.
Zenta: "No, I refuse, I can never harm my friend! He is my King!"
The black suddenly gets louder to where someone near by suddenly hears it.
Black Speech: "TEE NEE KAPO SHEE NAH WEEN NAH SHO QUEN KECH, POER KAV?!"
Translation: "BRING HIS HEAD OR YOU SHALL BE HAUNTED FOREVER, UNDERSTAND?!"
Zenta: "I would rather be haunted!!!"
Zenta kicks dirt over the camp fire and tells his men to get some sleep. Zenta hopes no one heard what was said.
Summer Evening - Braga
The Moon and her Destiny:
Luna Tempest, the Grey Exarch of Shadowdale, found herself wallowing in disappointment while travelling the long road from Nasot to Karbala. Heading home after her campaign to conquer the region ended with failure. However Luna’s failing had nothing to do with her ability to command nor had the loss been caused by the armies of Perdan. The Grey Exarch would have preferred a glorious battle with Perdan to the current predicament. Alas, it seemed fate itself determined the outcome as divine intervention proclaimed the campaign folly.
Luna atop her steed pondered the results of the campaign. The Grey Exarch had gained all the political consequences of her actions but none of the benefits. No negotiations would be taking place, no treaties signed, not even a single talk held. This on top of the fact that the true reward, a new region for Shadowdale was stolen away did not leave Lady Tempest in a favorable mood.
Hoping to raise her spirits the Grey Exarch would opt to take the road less traveled through the townlands of Viseu. Luna dismissed all her Tempest Rangers to arrive at the capital by the main road leaving Captain Theomona in charge with a sole exception. The Grey Exarch’s favorite lieutenant, Lissa was to join the Lady on the meandering road that bordered both the great forest of Braga and Oporto.
The duo rode atop their steeds following the shabby path before them. The road was very grown over making it difficult to follow however the scenery was breathtaking. What should have been a near pitch black forest with only torches to guide the way was a canvas of all that mother nature had to offer. The brilliant full moon illuminated the great green pine tree’s, brook crossing glistened as if diamonds lay within their beds and the ever present peaks of Evora looking majestic off in the distance.
Luna reached her hand skyward as if to grasp the very moon itself, “Someday” she whispered to herself while staring at the brilliant white celestial body when a lone eagle flew across the pure moon casting a shadow over Lady Tempest.
This feels like an omen, the Grey Exarch thought to herself as Luna brought her pinched fingers to her lips and let out a shrill whistle. Even as an experienced falconer such a gambit would unlikely pay off however something felt different to Lady Tempest as she stared skyward as the great bird turned sharply into a dive with the moon at its tail. As the eagle rose from its dive with wings flapping as if they were destiny itself to land in a nearby tree. The massive king of the sky stared straight down at Luna, it's radiant golden eye staring into her very soul.
Lissa could only watch behind in silent amazement as her general Lady Tempest outstretched her arm fortunately still protected by leather armour. As if on cue the eagle swooped down landing beautifully on Luna’s outstretched with talons clasping leather. The eagle had made a near perfect landing but it took all of Luna’s strength to support the massive bird. Now staring directly at each other, Luna’s blues eyes enamored in the eagles ravishing yellow eyes the moment felt frozen in time.
The two would be bonded, fate willed it so; however the eagle would never truly be tamed. A master, nay a king of the sky would never be contained as he represented the very essence of freedom. “Apollo,” Luna broke the silence speaking to the eagle. The two looked skyward back towards the full moon as Luna launched Apollo back into the sky. With Apollo’s magnificent brown plumage fluttering in the breeze as he flew above the eagle would circle Lady Tempest once and let out a lone powerful screech before disappearing into the darkness.
“Lissa,” Luna called up her lieutenant.
“My lady that was amazing” Lissa would blurt out before apologizing “Sorry what do you need my general.”
“I need you to ride ahead with all haste. Go to the Grey University of Karbala and have them prepare the largest tower’s solar. Go to the library and gather up every map you can find and any books on great historical battles. I have a date with destiny.” The Grey Exarch commanded Lissa.
Without any hesitation Lissa exclaimed “Yes my lady,” and rode off as fast as the steed could take her.
Luna took one last look at the moon whispering “You and I Apollo, let’s show East Continent Shadowdale’s destiny” before she again set off down that worn forest path.
Summer Day - Braga
Jaques looked around the mountainous region of Evora, and sighed
'Captain Arne, Remind me again why we must go this way again?'
'Our scout suggested it sir, saw it was the most direct route,' answered Arne
Jaques looked at the new Captain, and slowly shook his head.
'That new scout appears to be unable to navigate his own hand let alone a map, whats our estimated arrival?'
'if all goes well my Lord.......um.....tomorrow evening'
Jaques pinched either side of his nose as he felt the headache forming, and said nothing as the army moved onwards
Summer Evening - Evora
Foxen sat in his chair reading the newly sent letter from the king. Officializing what he had previously requested from the Margrave.
He slowly put the wine glass down on the table and, having finished reading the letter, approached to the fireplace, which sizzled in red stars like his chair.
-Tomorrow I will ride to Karbala. Prepare my horse for dawn- Said to his assistant camera without looking at him. He tossed the letter into the fire as he turned around,
approaching the table where the goblet was located. A servant, anticipating his intentions, approached quickly to fill the glass with wine. -Bring me paper and ink, I must write a letter
to the adventurer so she can hurry up with my weapons.- In less than a minute, Lord Carmine had a letter paper table in front of him which he began to fill quickly with skill.
When he finished, he had a messenger deliver the letter to Daunae. He squeezed his eyes with two fingers as he thought about the next move. -I don't know why
I care about these sh*ts. Little by little, Foxen, little by little.- He said as he took a long drink from the wine glass.
Summer Day - Evora
Staring at the mountain range a young noble swears the set of rocks that looked like two drunks sunk head first into a grain bin looks exactly as the same to the mountain range to his south.
"Right." Zoltan said speaking to no one.
In the distance a riding approached, kicking up clods of soil sending the occasional mountain hamster scrambling for crevices, burrows or amble sized hallow log.
"Knight Zoltan, Sir Zoltan, Zoltan of the Nobility, Zoltan the fellow with cleaner garments than the rest, I bare news!" The rider cried from a far.
Zoltan adjusted himself, ensuring his bearing was noble enough for receiving a raggedy frontier messenger. Fishmonger with collecting a debt from a sod, he thought, that's what this fellow should feel upon formally greeting me.
"Ah, Sir Zoltan, news." The messenger breathlessly said, almost as deprived of breath as his flea bitten nag. "The war Sir, the war for you and that matter everyone is over."
"Over? Like the last elements of our foes require hunting down?" Zoltan queried.
"No over." The messenger said, half a lung fuller of air.
"Over as in the rogue region that lies over yonder requires an iron hand to steer it to civility, such as it is?" Zoltan said hopefully.
"No finished as in go home, pay your men, learn to read a map better next time so you can actually partake in the war. As one or two Exarchs might say." The messenger said rolling head and eyes like wagon wheels.
"Right." Zoltan said, quickly dragging his pointer finger across his throat rapidly, eyeing the closest thugs that passed for soldiers who in turn nodded quickly upon realizing what was required.
Hours and miles later, in the pristine darkness of night, Zoltan sat in his dim light tent. Furiously composing his daily report, to whom other than himself no one was sure. All the while quietly muttering as he wrote.
"Dear journal, after a few intensive days of through reconnaissance in force we came upon a reported solitary dreaded solitary rider. Clad in rag and leather, presumably accounting for his great mobility in the saddle, we managed to trick him into advancing during the customary quarter of an hour on the hour map reading. Though his battle cry fearsome, and some how knowing my name, I managed to distract him with guile. Drawing him further into our line while forestalling any fell-handed attack. Bosefus, Crombopulous and Markonius Porkbutte managed to flank and approach him from the rear. Masterfully they dismounted him from his hellish snorting steed. With mace, shovel, and last nights encrusted stew pot, the valiant footman managed to subdue the expert combatant. His confusing wailing and flagellant arm motions noted him a trained master of battle from lands oft not spoken of. Yet despite this alien advantage Bosefus and Crombopulous managed to hold him down as the ingenious and hence forth promoted Markonius Porkbutte, now Chef assistant 4th class, managed to crown the insidious dark rider with the stew pot and rang it like a church bell using mace and shovel until each broke under Herculean blows that could fell a thick scaled dragon or Perdanian housewife. As if by divine blessings of divinity, upon the expatriation of the ragged rider of repulsively rejoinders, his insults were most foul, we found that the war had ended. My duty was clear, to never speak of this again and head back the way I came. Shadowdale prevails!"
It was a sunny day, a group of children were near the Gates of the Royal Road. They were playing with sticks imitating soldiers in a battle.
At that moment strong voices were heard from the walls and the gates opened. That group of children could see how a great column of soldiers with heavy armors and gray tabards entered through the door. They carried the Shadowdale banner and the Moonsun heraldry. In front of that column was Lindow, accompanied by his captain Rudgar.
The murmurs became quickly screams
- He is the king! The king is back! - the people were screaming, and soon a large number of citizens approached the street to receive their king.
- Your Majesty, it was a long time since we returned to Karbala - said Rudgar
- Did you miss your home, Captain? -
- Home is where my king goes, your highness -
- Honorable words, Captain, I hope that home is always worthwhile - Lindow said as he waved at the citizens.
The streets were cleaner and with fewer people than usual.
- Do you think the disease is safe, Your Majesty? -
- From what I have been informed, the disease is under control, the healers have done a great job given a series of guidelines to the population and saving the lives of a large number of those affected. That will be never forgotten -
Summer Evening - Evora
"Come now Smee, I gotta read all this?"
"Aye, Captain. It's everythin' we could find."
Maxy stared at the massive pile of paperwork haphazardly stacked in front of him, before resignedly sighing. "Paperwork got us inta this Smee, it otta heave us out. If I had known that Seadog's offer was ta be this hard, I woudda never scuttled tha Dragon's Shadow."
The pair got to work, digging through the massive pile.
Seadog = An old sailor or pirate
Scuttle = To sink a ship
During these two days, carpenters, bricklayers and architects were in and out of the city carrying materials for the construction of a large private compound on the outskirts of the city.
At sunset, the building was finished. It was a wooden enclosure, there were two low barriers on two of the sides of the enclosure, intended for peasants and bourgeois, on the rest of the sides there were two large balconies, one for the lesser nobles and wealthy bourgeois, and the other for the king and the nobles of the great families of Shadowdale.
Next to the king's seat was another beautifully adorned chair. Lindow had something planned for that place.
Outside the enclosure, there were some tents of drinks, food and entertainment places. No expense has been spared for this event, anyone can find everything they expect to see in a tournament and more.
Zenta was at his Family's Estate where his mother and father were. He was out practicing for the jousting event of the tournament. Being an expert jouster he was in top form. Knocking down dummy after dummy his hits were always on the mark.
When he finally finished he went to his parents, hugged them and they wished him luck in the upcoming tournament. For a Carson, family is everything.
Bennet Carson(the Father): "Zenta, I am so proud of you. You have done great things for our family, well except for that time you insulted the judge, but let us not dwell on the past. Oh and before you go, if another war were to break out, I want to give you this. It is the Carson's Family Blade.
Zenta notices that it is not exactly a short sword, but smaller than a long sword. Perfect for a Cavalry rider. However he sees a button on it. He presses the button and suddenly it turns into a chain bladed whip.
Zenta: "This is astonishing!! I do not think I have ever seen this before."
Bennet Carson: "Well we wanted to wait to give it to you. You are definitely ready for it now my son."
Zenta: "Thank you Pa"
Zenta hugs his father again. Zenta heads back to his horse and then gets on.
Zenta: "I shall see you again soon after the tournament."
Zenta rides away to the city center to meet up with King Lindow.
Summer Day - Evora
The following letter was visible on all bulletin boards in Karbala districts and on all estates in Shadowdale regions. Furthermore, there were heralds whose mission was to read it to inform the illiterate population.
People of Shadowdale,
Shadow King Lindow Moonsun is proud to open the prestigious tournament of the New Tomorrow. All those interested in seeing how our brave knights face sword combat will be welcome in the private compound of the West Road of Karbala.
Below will be the list of opponents from the first round:
- Lady Flavia vs Sir Humphrey
- Sir Dawson vs Lady Dana
- Sir Zenta vs Lord Maccio
- Sir Maximilan vs Lady Kiera
As the most recent noble, Sir Gabriel will advance to the second round.
It is reported as a novelty that in the last round, the finalists must choose the lady or the knight for whom they will fight, whoever wins will have the right to name their chosen Lady or Knight of the New Tomorrow, being the guests of honor at the banquet of the Shadow King Lindow.
Good luck to the participants,
Lindow Moonsun Shadow King of Shadowdale Royal of Shadowdale Duke of Shadow's Bluff Margrave of Karbala
Summer Evening - Evora
Zenta gets down on his hands and knees and yield to Lord Maccio.
Zenta: "Perhaps the overrun strategy was not the best idea after all. Good fight my Lord."
The enclosure was filled with tents with the emblems of the participating houses. Security was the responsibility of the Gray Guard who were distributed around the compound, controlling access.
People from all over the kingdom had come to watch the famous Shadowdale Knights fighting. Peasants, Bourgeois, Nobles of Lesser Houses, and Nobles of the Great Houses of Shadowdale, all of them were all in their places.
Suddenly the trumpets blew and a herald announced:
- The Shadow King Lindow Moonsun! -
Lindow entered the balcony, greeting everyone present.
- Long live the king! -
- Long live Shadowdale! -
Those screams could be heard amid applause. Lindow reached out, making people shut up.
- Shadowdalians! I'm glad to see so many people interested in seeing our participants. Today is a day of celebration, today is a day of proud! A new era is coming, an era in which Shadowdale will not be a small dot on the map anymore, an era of greatness and honor! An era of respect and vassalage to our kingdom! The Shadowdale era! Enjoy and be welcome to the tournament of the New Tomorrow, let the participants in! -
Roleplay at Karbala - Tournament of the New Tomorrow - Before and during the battle between Zenta and Maccio
- "Once again in 'ere... I can still remember the day I was given Akesh to guard n' rule over. Didn't use to visit this city too often even when I had an estate 'ere. Last visit was short, too. Just arrived, got some fancy men with shiny new tools o' the trade n' left. They were a bunch of pussies... I hope ye won't be."
Maccio glanced over the district of the palaces, and then over his new retinue.
- "Wish me good luck, fellas. I'll be up against a rabid hound. The matchmakin' didn't favour me. No matter, though. Nothin' a good muzzle n' some beatin' can't solve. Besides - I've been up against worse mutts before."
The men bid farewell to his leader in a respectful and quiet, yet somewhat cold, manner. They didn't know him yet - neither did he. Maccio arrived to the tournament grounds at the outskirts of Karbala accompanied by his steward, a servant and a pageboy. They were led to a private room and left to help his lord change into his combat attire.
- "My lord, are you sure you don't want to quit?" - Asked the pageboy - "I heard Lord Zenta used to be the Grey Exarch, and he's known for his cruelty. Who knows what he might try to do..."
- "I'm neither a coward nor stupid, kid. Watch n' learn, that's why ye 'ere."
The boy lowered his gaze and continued tying the leather strips of Maccio's armour. Not soon after, the steward knelt next to him, pretended to inspect the knots and whispered:
- "You need not worry, young man. Our lord is not good with words, but beyond his abrasiveness he does mean you well and has offered a helpful advice."
The man pointed to a bag tied to Maccio's belt, then to a string tied to three lead balls, and smiled gently.
- "You will see soon. Watch closely."
Trumpets blew, signaling the beginning of the first round of the tournament. Maccio sighed, got up and picked up a buckler and a hand axe, both unadorned.
- Shadowdalians! I'm glad to see so many people interested in seeing our participants. Today is a day of celebration, today is a day of proud! A new era is coming, an era in which Shadowdale will not be a small dot on the map anymore, an era of greatness and honor! An era of respect and vassalage to our kingdom! The Shadowdale era! Enjoy and be welcome to the tournament of the New Tomorrow, let the participants in!
Maccio entered the arena, clad in relatively light armour: a steel breastplate atop a gambeson, the latter protecting its wearer from the knees to the neck plus his arms; a nasal helmet with mail aventail, boots, and little else. In his left hand he carried a hand axe, and in his right a buckler. Tied to his belt there was a bag that seemed to hold something spiky, a bola and a dagger. Once near the center, he turned to Lindow, bowed and turned to Zenta, to whom he offered one hand to shake, if he so wished.
Zenta looks at Lord Maccio as he extended his hand, Zenta immediately grabbed his hand and smiled then said.
"Good luck my lord. I hold no grudge on who wins here."
Roleplay at Karbala - Tournament of the New Tomorrow - Zenta Vs Maccio
- "Good to know! Now, since ye are my senior, tis' good manners to let ye start out, 'aight?"
Maccio shook Zenta's hand and walked a few steps backwards to put some space between each other.
- "Let the best be the winner."
Role play Maccio Vs. Zenta
Zenta turning around after stepping back, he is seen wearing very little armor obviously wearing a face mask to protect his gorgeous looking face. Dressed in almost all black with snow white trim. The snow white trim being his colors for when he is in battle.
Zenta waits as the official to begin the duel comes in. Seeing as this is a tournament it is customary to have a person who can determine who will win the fight.
Zenta gets into his stance as if he were going to strike first.
Roleplay at Karbala - Tournament of the New Tomorrow - Zenta Vs Maccio
- "Come on, don't be shy. Ye usually throwin' duel challenges to anythin' that breathes n' now ye can't throw a single thrust? Go fer it, champ, I won't bite."
Maccio passes his axe to his right hand, opens his arms and walks around Zenta. A grin appears in his face as he begins to chuckle.
- "Come on, I'm wide open! Was it all bark and no bite? Oh, who's a good lil' pup, ey? Sit, sit, roll over!"
The pageboy watches from the balcony of the lesser nobility, eyes and mouth wide open.
- "He's going to get himself killed, throwing such insults to Lord Zenta directly to his face and in front of so many people, the King among them!"
- "It's a taunt."
- "It's a taunt, boy. He knows Zenta is a better duelist than him, yet his temper is too short. His only chance to win is by making him lose his temper and charge carelessly towards him."
Zenta charges at Maccio and suddenly stops just short to fool him a little.
"You know after the fight *grunts a little as they continue to fight* I was wondering, would you care to join me for a pint at the tavern?"
Zenta gets hit in the head knocking the helmet off.
The Moon and her Destiny II:
Luna had finally arrived at Karbala after taking that overgrown path out of the forest then to the main road. Upon arriving she did not waste any time making her way to the Grey University of Karbala hoping Lissa had already prepared everything for the Grey Exarch.
It was well into the evening when Lady Tempest was walking through the grand atrium of the university. A large decorative pyre was burning in the center casting shadows against all the walls of the circular atrium. During the day its open roof would act as a sundial upon the floor but now the markings were hardly visible under Luna’s shadow.
As she made her way to the spire solar Luna passed by many of her former professors and students. As it was her first time back to the university since her appointment as Grey Exarch most would congratulate her new station. It was a good feeling for Lady Tempest, she had come a long way from that 15 year old girl who found herself in Shadowdale and a lost student in this very university.
Reaching the spire solar Luna had debated her choice of quarters, perhaps the library would have been better as it would be closer to materials and involve less stairs. The Grey Exarch however dispatched that thought as the sensitive nature of her coming work required the isolationism of the spire solar. Opening the door revealed the magnificent room beyond.
Lissa was still scrambling around arranging books and maps in such a flurry that she did not notice her Lady enter. This did not bother Luna as her subordinate working so diligently was its own sign of respect.
Luna studied the room, its tall vaulted ceiling adorned with an astrology orb to help with studying of the stars. All the walls facing outward to the sky were mostly open so that sunlight and a fair breeze could be let in. On the center of the floor a giant crescent moon surrounded by various tables, chairs, bookshelves and even a large bed fit for any noble. Lady Tempest pictured the conversation between a flustered Lissa and the groundskeeper over bringing a bed up all those stairs; piece by piece no doubt.
“Ahem” Luna cleared her throat to draw Lissa’s attention.
Lissa quite startled, “OH, my Lady I did not see you arrive. I'm sorry not everything is ready yet.”
The Grey Exarch interrupted Lissa, “Have you even slept since you arrived in Karbala. Go get some rest. What is left can wait until the morning.”
Lissa didn’t even reply as she ambled off towards the door ready to pass out.
Luna would do a little work before retiring for the night. Spending a few of the best moonlit hours of the night studying a map of East Continent, looking closely at Shadowdale’s neighboring realms.
Lady Tempest awoke to the rising sun and the smell of freshly steeped tea. Lissa was already within the solar to serve her lady some fresh fruit for breakfast. Luna thanked her loyal retainer for her diligence but made her one of the many adjoined balconies first. The rising sun shining brightly over a beautiful morning in Karbala. On the railing the Grey Exarch spotted a lone brown feather and then a shadow quickly overhead. The Lady looks quickly to the sky but sees nothing, not a bird, not a cloud just the vast sapphire sky.
Luna would find her way to the largest desk in the solar, a massive marble slab of a table. Upon were history books about past wars and maps of all the realms of the north. The Grey Exarch started her work in earnest, planning and strategizing future wars. Shadowdale had found itself with many new nobles as of late and it was time to expand the realm's territory. Studying the various maps Luna would size up targets with the most potential, Shadowdale bordered many fine cities that were not the realm’s but maybe they should be. As a realm with five neighbors there should have been plenty of choices for conquest however many of them are considered allies.
It mattered little to the Grey Exarch, as they were simply strategies that not necessarily be acted on. Luna sized up Shadowdale's enemies and allies alike while studying for avenues of conquest. There was no need to leave possibilities unplanned at this stage, all Lady Tempest had to do was find the best opportunities and present them to the Shadow King. After a full day's work the Grey Exarch had many of her ideas written on parchment ready to be delivered. Luna completed the final touches, rolling up the many parchments, sealing each and everyone of them with a Tempest Family seal and handing them off to Lissa to deliver to the Shadow King Lindow Moonsun.
Summer Day - Evora
Roleplay at Karbala - Tournament of the New Tomorrow - Zenta Vs Maccio
Once Zenta begins his charge, Maccio returns his axe to his left hand, takes a southpaw stance and blocks and evades blows for a while. With a strike of his buckler, Maccio knocks Zenta's helmet off and then proceeds to kick his inner left thigh, close to the knee, throwing him off balance and into the floor. Once there, Maccio stepped on Zenta's broadsword and placed his axe near his neck.
- "Why visit a tabern when we've got all the ale we'd ever want 'ere? There're more fights to come, and I'd like to watch them. Plus, our liege is here, so 'tis best to stay 'round 'ere. Not a bad fight, by the way."
Zenta yields as the axe was at his neck.
Zenta: I yield, I yield. Obviously my strategy was flawed. Perhaps some other time then.
Zenta then agreed that it was indeed a good fight. For such a young lord to get the better of a veteran.
Zenta: I'm headed to the healers. Need to get this cut fixed up. I'll meet you later I guess, good luck in the next fight.
Zenta then leaves and heads to the healer tent.
End scene for Zenta.
Leonhard Of Xeno
Roleplay at Karbala - Tournament of the New Tomorrow
Leonhard arrives at the place where the tournament is held dressed in a dark robe and a rather suspicious hood. It would be among the people who would be watching the tournament.
- Captain, be careful that no one comes near. And drink some beer while I attend to some affairs. - I would say Leonhard handing him some coins.
- Understood Lord Leonhard, I hope you enjoy the tournament. - The captain would say
Leonhard will stand with his arms crossed watching the tournament and observing the movements of the rest of the nobles during the duration of the tournament.
After a couple of fights, head towards the area where King Lindow is located. Standing at the door where the guards are. Leonhard removed his hood, showing his face to the guards.
- I am Leonhard of Xeno, Lord of Negev, I come to see King Lindow. - I would say to the guards
Summer Evening - Evora
Lindow was enjoying the fight and. He was excited when he saw people's animosity due to the fighting.
At that time, Captain Rudgar approached Lindow and said
- Your Highness, I have been informed that Lord Leonhard de Xeno wishes to see you -
- Ha! tell him to go up to the balcony and join me -
- Yes, your highness! -
In a short time Leonhard appeared.
- Lord Leonhard welcome to the tournament, join and enjoy the festivity...bring something to drink for the lord! -
Zenta is standing at a keg drowning in delicious ale. He notices a servant come to the keg to get drinks.
Zenta: hey, hey boy, ya you. Who are you getting those ales for?.
Servant: I come for a lord's drink good sir knight.
Zenta: ah ok good good. Don't keep him waiting lad. You have very good manners young boy.
The servant bows to Zenta and runs off with the ale.
Zenta continues to drink and laugh randomly at thoughts of killing his enemies.
Leonhard Of Xeno
Slowly move towards the Lindow throne.
- My King, I'm sorry I'm late. It took me a long time in Negev. I was looking to make an archery academy, but I made a bad choice. Leonhard sighs - In a few moons I will march south towards Caligus. Do you need me to do something around there?
The glass of wine would come to Leonhard who would take it and take a drink.
- And as you see the tournament, I have only seen half and I see a lot of level among the nobles. Although a tournament does not show that you are better at war, they are different environments.
Leonhard would laugh for a moment before taking another drink.
Roleplay at Karbala - Tournament of the New Tomorrow - Flavia Vs Maccio
After his fight with Zenta, Maccio returned to a changing room, allowed his steward and pageboy to take his armour off, washed his face and hands, combed and tied his hair into a ponytail and walked to the balcony of the higher nobility to watch the rest of the first round's combats and have a drink.
Once the fights were over, he excused himself and left to rest for the next day.
Maccio woke up in the early morning and headed to the tournament grounds once again to prepare for his next combat.
- "How's the matchmakin' been this time? Did I get lucky?"
- "Lady Flavia Arindal will be your next opponent. She is known to like tournaments and has shown great skill in jousting."
- "Nice being a melee, ain't it?"
- "Yes, my Lord. You would have little chance against her otherwise."
- "A'ight. Didn't need to use any tricks against Zenta. Which means noone got to see 'em. They should be of use this time..."
- "I hope so. Now, let's get you ready. Do some warmup with your ankles and wrists while I'm at it."
Once ready, Maccio entered the arena wearing the same armour and carrying the same weapons as the day before. He walked to the centre to greet the king and offer a handshake to his opponent, but looked visibly confused.
- "I... I'm not sure whether to offer a handshake or a kiss on ye hand." - He said.
- This woman's got wrinkles on her wrinkles! I didn't know she was so old! How's this hag supposed to fight anyone!? Damn, even standing should be a challenge fer 'er! Doesn't she have rheumatism or somethin'!? - Maccio thought.
- "M'lady, I do not intend to disrespect ye, but... Are ye sure ye want to participate in this tournament? Such delicate body's not fittin' fer a sport this hard."
"A handshake will be fine," said Flavia quietly. "And thank you for asking, but I have fought in tournaments before. And battles," she added.
- Go right ahead and underestimate me,* she thought.
Summer Day - Evora
Flavia was right to be cautious of this opponent; he soon gained the advantage over her. She surrendered courteously, wished him luck, and went to the gallery to watch the rest of the matches.
- This is a hobby in times of peace, or in times of doubt as we live now -
Lindow took a sip from his mead jug and he looked at Lionhard with surprise.
- Why are you going to Caligus? -
While a servant brought a mug of beer to Leonhard.
Summer Evening - Evora
Jacques picked up the pace to get to Karbala, Excitedly holding the letter from Edouard in his hand. 5 years it had been since he last saw him in his unit, the battles they fought together had been glorious and the times fun, and now he was arriving in Shadowdale.
'Captain Arne, Head back an ensure an estate is ready for him, we will put him in Shadow Manor.'
'Yes my Lord'
He pushed forward further, eager to see the archers friendly face.
A drunken Zenta comes towards noble Édouard.
"You're not my mother!!! Who are you?!"
Then he suddenly goes face first into the ground. Assuming he has had too much fun at the festivities.
And suddenly a captain comes from nowhere.
"SIR ZENTA!!!! Oh my again???? This is the 2nd time you have done this. I apologize good sir if he said anything embarrassing."
The captain takes the drunken Zenta off to a recovery tent.
Édouard, at first taken aback by the brash approach of the drunken individual, looks down at him as he falls to the ground.
Upon the approach of the captain, and his calls, Édouard gives a faint smile and begins to help up Zenta for the captain to escort him away.
"No trouble at all don't you worry, just a minor surprise is all. Hope he recovers swiftly, and doesn't get up to too much else overly stimulating in his current state."
Title: Possibilities of Great Conflict
As Zenta prepares to set off, he feels a bit uneasy. A disturbing wind brushes passed him that comes from the southern regions passed Negev in the realm of Caligus.
"Something about this wind, it feels.....off."
As Zenta is heading to Negev anyways he decides to check on their supposed allies, Caligus, who he had a bit distaste for years even during the Great War against Perdan.
If Caligus did decide to march on an ally. The reason would be obvious. Expansion.
Also known that the city of Fontan is easily within striking distance could possibly be a serious threat to our great city of Karbala.
"Perhaps I should go to the city and check on what is going on there. I mean we are allies, I don't see the harm in it."
Zenta saddles his horse and then gets on.
Summer Day - Evora
Luna arrived at her breathtaking Mountain Manor home in Evora with time to have her staff prepare for the coming guest. Lady Tempest’s estate was nestled between the indomitable snowy peaks of Evora on one side and tall steep cliffs overlooking a valley stream below on the other. The grounds were encompassed by tall iron fencing that was guarded diligently for the Grey Exarch was hosting a very important event.
The courtyard was spectacular; a large ornate fountain is the first thing one would see passing through the main gate. The crystal clear water is a testament to the purity of the pristine landscape all around. A small reflection pool was present near the fountain surrounded by beautiful aged cherry trees. A lone statue was at the center of the pool, the founder of the estate whose name was lost to history. Everything was surrounded by all manner of wild forest flowers making the grounds a bouquet of colours.
A few other buildings like the stables were present but hidden among the thick trees. The Mountain Manor itself was a massive building with tall peaked roofs and plenty of terraces; the largest of which protruded from the side of the manor directly above the valley below.
The Grey Exarch was in the courtyard ordering various staff and soldiers around. The interior had already been prepped but Luna found the grounds wanting. Shouting orders at her Lieutenant, Lissa, to clean this and trim that however Lady Tempest would be out of time as she could already see the banners off in the distance.
Luna’s guest and all their retainers arrived through the main gate with ease as all the Grey Exarch’s men were well informed to receive her esteemed guest; Dame of Aix, Aila Storme of Perdan and her escort Duke of Perdan, Smiddich Fontaine, Ambassador of Perdan. The latter was still quite the surprise for Lady Tempest despite knowing that the man was coming. Not once had Aila ever mentioned the Duke before this trip. How did such a dame even become close with such a man?
As the guests were preparing to dismount Luna approached the duo offering her hand to help Lady Aila from her steed; She arrived atop a fine black warhorse that looked a long way down for the little lady. Once both were dismounted in front of the grand stone fountain Luna introduced herself, “Fair Lady Aila you already know me all too well, however Duke Fontaine I have never had the pleasure! Well, maybe once on the battlefield.”
Lady Tempest would bow before continuing, “I am Luna of the house Tempest and Grey Exarch of Shadowdale. Allow me to welcome you into my home. It may not be as well appointed as what your grace is used to but I am sure you will find it comfortable.”
Luna would give both her guests a smile, “Lady Aila does you a disservice Duke of Perdan, I knew you were older but not once did she mention how handsome you are. I can see why Aila likes you. You will however be happy to know that when I contacted Lady Aila over accommodations she demanded quarters fitting your station.”
“Rumor has it you are the great Pirate Duke of Perdan,” Lady Tempest motions towards the fountain where a model warship not quite unlike one you would find in a bottle is floating around in the rushing water, “I hope you find these accommodations to your liking.” Luna contains a chuckle while pointing towards the model boat.
Lady Storme peered into the large fountain as Luna pointed and let out a jovial laugh instantly; realizing somewhere there was a broken bottle without it's ship in the name of this horrendous joke.
Luna admires Aila’s easy laughter before pressing on, “I jest, of course a state suite has been prepared for the Duke and Lady Aila can stay in my quarters as requested, shall we retreat inside? A grand feast has been prepared in anticipation of your arrival.”
Walking towards the Mountain Manor the Grey Exarch concludes her introduction, “Oh and one last thing my precious guests, I have extended an invitation to my liege Baroness Brigdha Dubhaine. She may join us at some point during your visit, I hope you don’t mind as this is her land after all.”
Lady Tempest turns to face the Duke and the Dame while servants open the great oak doors of the manor behind her, “Welcome to Shadowdale.”
Arriving in Karbala, Jaques heads to the Balcony, on the way passing the tournament participants getting ready.
'Good luck my Lords, I look forward to watching.'
He heads into the Bar area and looks around, as he does he spots the target of his search, walking over to Edouard he pulls him into a one armed hug.
'Edouard, I am pleased to see you, you have grown somewhat in the last 5 years, how is your bow arm? not rusty I hope, you may get an opportunity to hone it in war later.'
He pulls Edouard over to the Bar.
'Barman, a round for everybody'
Édouard reciprocates the hug, smiling towards Jaques.
'I'm keeping my aim sharp, no need to worry there. There seems to be some tension indicating a war in the future, guess we'll have to see what happens in that regard.'
Once the barman passes around a drink, he offers a cheers to Jaques and then takes a drink of the beverage.
'I hear you've found a good position for yourself recently, congratulations. I'm sure you'll do a great job in the role.'
'His highness was generous to me with the appointment, talking of which I have prepared an Estate for you as i knew you were coming, entirely your choice if you wish to take it, how are you finding the training facilities?'
Lindow was on the balcony. He was holding the entrance of Sir Dawson and Sir Gabriel. His butler approached him.
- Your Highness -
- Tell me Sebas -
- I have been informed that Sir Dawson and Sir Gabriel are not on the enclosure -
- Whay are they not there? A day has passed! -
Lindow sighed, not liking the idea of having to pass the final round in this way. At that moment he saw two nobles behind him, Jaques and Édouard, greeting each other.
- Lord Jaques, Sir Édouard, come here! I want to propose something to you -
Jaques looks over to the King and bows
'What can I do for you my King?'
"'Bout 60 militia," Captain Eadinda reported. "'Ginst five horny bastards. Who do ya thihnk ya wanna brush for?"
Kiera considered. "We'll gitty-up in eend see who's winnin', join 'em". She spat into the dirt. "Then we'll turn an' muck-snipe 'em."
Eadinda laughed, turned her horse to move the men along.
(OOC Cattle Rustler Dictionary:
gitty-up - ride a horse turn - change sides (in a fight) muck-snipe - "clean out", take everything)
Édouard joins Jaques, bowing in front of the King and awaiting the response to Jaques' inquiry.
Lindow had the young nobles in front of him. They were very animated.
- There are two nobles who have not come today and people are starting to boo, I need you to come down and give an example of a sword duel to cheer everyone present - Lindow said while he pointed to the hundreds of people who had entered the enclosure.
'Whilst I would normally jump at the honour, I am afraid I am busy for the next while. I have recently bought some troops and wish to incorporate them properly into my forces - I will be available later if that is an acceptable substitute for you, My Liege.'
Lindow looked very seriously at Édouard
- In that case go away and don't come back until your men are so trained that they are able to march in unison -
Lindow looked at the rest of the nobles who were on the balcony
- Is there anyone here who is capable of fulfilling the will of his king? -
Lindow looked at Jaques
- And you, Lord Jaques? will you fulfill the will of your king? -
Lindow sighs calmly.
- I'm glad, I will not forget this service you do for your king -
Lindow settled into the chair
- Go and give an example of a swordfighting that they will never forget -
Maccio went to the balcony the day after his combat to watch the next one, but was disappointed to hear the contenders for some reason weren't in the tournament grounds.
- Heh, this is a joke. The first round was fine, but then I'm made to fight a granny, n' two fighters plus the reserve ain't here on time fer their turn. Easy gold, yes, but still disappointing...
- Maccio thought.
Then, Lindow summoned two people from a nearby tabern of the outskirts. Maccio leaned out the balcony to see Jaques and another man he didn't recognise being asked to join the tournament.
- "Well well well, what have we 'ere? Already back from Greatbridge? A nice surprise seeing ye, Lord Jaques! - said stressing the Lord part - N' just in time! Ye might get to earn some gold fer a new granary or somethin', ey? Don't expect mercy from me, by the way!"
Leonhard Of Xeno
He would look at the beer for a moment and then grab the beer.
- I will see how the towns near the border of our possible enemies are in the future. Also try to collect some information about how the kingdom of Caligus is.
Drink a little of the mug of beer.
- I will also take the opportunity to kill a few monsters that I find. And then I'll come back.
“Rumor has it you are the great Pirate Duke of Perdan”,
Lady Luna Tempest
The man who alighted his horse took her hand in the practised manor of a professional statesman, “Lady Exarch, you do us a great honor. Perdan and I are overjoyed at the invitation and the accommodations. I must admit, I don’t think I’ve ever been up here! It’s beautiful… exotic, in a way”.
He takes off his duster and a broadbrimmed hat; they are whisked away in a moment by a porter. The Duke is tall and broad, patently a warrior; some said, among the greatest swordsmen of the era. His clothes, although sturdy and made for travel, were fine and tailored, his fingers decked with silver and steel. Dark hair – some wisps of grey - was pulled back and tied with a silver toggle, a sharp goatee manicured. He walked with a brave swagger, armed with a sabre which was perfect for travel on horseback; rumour said he favoured the cutlass at home, of course, and lately a more urban rapier.
The Black Bladed Duke chuckled at the model warship, sinking down onto his haunches to admire it, and spin the wheel with his finger, “I make these, at home!”, he said with a boyish excitement, “So much of my life before was at sea, it just made sense. Honestly, it is fine and patient work, and satisfying. I should have brought one with, for you – I apologise. I feared it would not make the trip. Instead!”, he uttered, rescuing a case from his stewards as they departed with his gear.
The box itself was already a treasure, of darkly stained walnut with inlaid pearls, and a nautical theme of mosaic ships at sea made with shell and lacquer. Inside, laying on a bed of silk was a blade, of sorts, long and sharp and transleucent. “Trolls tooth”, he said simply, “I fought them once or twice, in the deepest south when the ice came. Saw one bite clear through a mans thigh, tear another apart. They were beautiful… and deadly”, he says to the two ladies. “And a mouth full of these!”
He withdrew the tooth, as long as a mans forearm; it glittered in the sun as if it were ice or crystal. “With careful honing, it takes a good edge; be sure to have your smiths bind the hilt well, as any touch can cut. The pirate knight of Perdan replaced it carefully into the case and snapped it shut.
“I hate to stand on protocol, but is there anyone else we aught to greet before we continue? We already caused a bit of a stir on the way here, and I’d hate for anyone else to get offended.”
"Protocol is ever the foe of comfort m'lord," an elegant woman dressed in simple robes and of indeterminate age stood on the far side of the fountain, though quite as to why no one had noticed her before now was just another of those little mysteries which characterised the comings and goings of Baroness Brigdha Dubhaine, Lady of Evora and personal envoy of The Shadow King.
How endearing it was so see him take genuine pleasure in something so simple and small, she couldn't help but imagine him in that big ornate chamber concentrating on tiny boats in his spare moments. Luna's awful boat joke had won her a laugh from Lady Storme but the Duke's admiration of the little toy had warmed Aila's heart. Swiftly, he retrieved the gift he had carried all this way for Luna from one of his men and she got to see the contents. Of course; a gift worth more then everything and Storme has owned ten times over.
Standing by admiring the two of them as they interacted for the first time Aila began sizing up Luna not as a potential target but instead as a person; a woman. Outside of her big ugly armor she was rather comely with her rare combination of raven dark hair and bright blue eyes. She had a physique as hard as you would expect from a fighting woman yet did not stand near as tall as a man. With Luna standing beside Smiddich, Aila was able to realize in that moment that they were of the same height seemingly and the memory of Luna deflecting her attack so easily once again stung in her heart. Somehow she had convinced herself Luna was this beast of a woman but now she could see no; She is no beast but she must instead work very hard.
By the look of lady Luna's estate she had no need for more money and it seemed likely that the tooth would in fact make it to becoming a weapon for Shadowdale's Grey Exarch.
Just as they were about to enter the manor the soft voice of another woman caught Aila's ear and she was quick to reel around to witness the sudden and unexplained appearance of a robed Lady who she could not recognize. This stranger stood apart from them; the misty display of the water feature obscuring a face already foreign to the young Lady Aila. She reached out grasping her Duke's arm gingerly in a gesture to both notify him of this new woman that appeared with no carriage and no horse seemingly out of thin air and also one of guarded cautiousness toward her.
Summer Evening - Evora
Lady Tempest received the gift from the Duke with contained excitement. The “Troll’s Tooth as he called it looked like it would make an excellent blade and she fully intended to use it as such. Luna would have the ornate box and the treasure within handed off to Lissa; who despite being shouted at earlier was still standing firm ready to serve.
“Lissa bring this to my quarters and be careful about it” the Grey Exarch ordered before turning towards the Duke once again, “A beautiful gift, your grace, probably more than I deserve considering it has barely been a month since I ordered an invasion of Nascot but I will graciously accept. I will be sure to meet with Shadowdale’s finest smith to have it prepared for myself.”
While walking towards the Manor Lady Tempest would take notice that something or someone startled Lady Aila. Turning around revealed that someone was nothing other than Luna’s liege; Baroness Dubhaine.
“Ah my liege, who else but yourself could arrive in such a mysterious fashion, almost as if you emerged from the shadows themselves for no one knows this land better than you.” Lady Tempest would proclaim before formally introducing the Lady to her guest, “Duke Fontaine, Lady Storme allow me to introduce my liege; Lady Brigdha Dubhaine, Baroness of Evora and Ambassador of Shadowdale.”
The Grey Exarch would ask and motion everyone towards the manor once again while asking a question of each guest.
“So fair Lady Aila how did you find the road?”
“Duke Fontaine, you hand some trouble along the way? I hope it wasn’t caused by any of my men.”
“Baroness Dubhaine, I hope that I have kept the Mountain Manor estate maintained to your liking.”
Title: The Front against Rogue
Zenta finally arrives in Fontan to a surprise shock that the people were happy to see an ally in there fair city.
He waves to the locals as him and his unit parade through the city center.
"Well it seems the people of Caligus are more warming to allies than I thought."
As Zenta talks with his Captain. A peasant comes up and bows politely to the him. The peasent then said.
"Thank you for been our realms allies."
Zenta was invited to one of the cities prestigious inns. There he began writing a letter to the Lord of Fontan to let him know of his being there, seeing as being allies it was the right thing to do.
Zenta is hoping to be allowed to hunt in Caligus for a little while. If not he will graciously leave. Though he still had a feeling that all of this fanfare is a cover.
"Your Grace, it's a pleasure to renew our acquaintance. I trust your journey East was an uneventful one?" there was genuine affection in the Baroness's eyes as she offered the Duke a slender hand with a surprisingly firm grip, "With all the trouble on the roads of late I've taken the liberty of arranging extra security for your stay though I doubt anyone will be foolish enough to risk Lady Luna's wrath."
The extra security wasn't really necessary, not here in Brigdha's own Demesne, but it never hurt to remind guests that the high passes were guarded.
A group of men passes through a massive forest slowly and by their own, only twenty six and just one of them looks like a knight and it's leading the group
"we are almost there, once we reach Negev we will be able to camp and recover for the rest of the trip" says the one that looks clearly like a knight. None of them says a thing about the orders and silently keep going through the vast forest of Braga leaded by Lance Aldrich, the myterious knight.
Duke Fontaine, you had some trouble along the way? I hope it wasn't caused by any of my men."
- Lady Luna Tempest,
"Not at all", said the Duke with a grin, "Though we did available ourselves to some cellar door sales at the Morshes wineries on the way here. I had no idea there were so many vineyards along the river!". The Duke walks and talks easily, a statesman if not a trained spokesman, "It was, perhaps, an unfortunate route, and completely my fault. If it has stirred any difficulty among the Eponlynn, I apologise, and shall forward the aggrieved parties my sincerest".
It was hard to tell whether there was a hint of mirth, a touch of smirk in the pirate lords demeanor.
He patted Lady Ailas hand as she grasped his arm, "I just wanted to take advantage of the current political situation and get out of the city, certainly not to cause anyone discomfort or alarm. Actually, I've always looked at Evora on the map and wondered - is it a mountain? A forest? A lake? I am pleasantly surprised to discover that it is all three!"
"Your Grace, it's a pleasure to renew our acquaintance. I trust your journey East was an uneventful one?"
- Lady Brigdha Dubhaine
"The pleasure is mine, your Worship", said the Black-Bladed Duke, taking her hand warmly. "I believe we last met in the lists - or perhaps the tournament ground. In any case, perhaps in this renewed era of peace - or at least, fewer wars, for now - there will be more call for these social events. It would please me - and our council - if we took this opportunity to meet in a more official capacity, and see if we can't bang out something a little more permanent. But! That was not the reason for our visit, so there it no call for it to take centre stage."
He takes a deep breath; the air is _thin_ up here!
"Perhaps, ladies, you would entertain my curiosity and take us to most convenient and tallest vantage point? I'd like to see the view up from up here!"
Summer Day - Evora
Aila lets Fontaine answer for her, falling silent while the the more seasoned statesmen made his show. Her Falcon flies overhead, swooping and diving in the mountain winds it loves and likely missed.
The cool mountain breeze then sweeps over the courtyard as the Duke mentions an era of peace causing Aila to shiver; She would never question him here but after the climb to the Manor the distant smell of roasted meat within the warm home called to her more then a cliff-side ever could. She had to admire the energy he had at any rate.
"Lady Luna sent us a map" Aila reminded him "There is a lookout only accessible from the manor as far as I can tell; as well as another beyond those cherry trees" She had spent quite a bit of time staring down at that map Luna had drawn her, yet another talent Aila was a bit jealous of. How did she manage to get so very good at so very much? Since turning of age Aila could mainly only recall marching, fighting...This was not the time to think of it.
"I can smell dinner from here" Aila said in a very Aila-like way, always teetering on the edge of annoyance. "If you'd like to admire the view i'd like to admire the food as you do" the young knight declared while disappearing inside the great wooden doors removing her riding cloak as she did.
She knew she had a funny way of getting along, or rather not getting along with people yet seemed not to care most of the time how others perceived her. Commoners least of all as Luna's staff moved out of the little Knights way while she followed her nose to the manors dining hall. Doormen posted let her in instantly and she was the first to witness the spread Luna had put on for the Duke. The stone room consisted of vaulted ceilings long windows made with glass so old it appeared to be dripping like water and obscuring the scenery outside. Banners of Shadowdale and house Tempest hung from the walls among tapestry's that showed their ancient age despite the care that had gone into their maintenance over the years. On the heavy oaken tables there was set enough for them and every member of staff and perhaps a small village as well. Roasts of haunches and fowl Aila did not even recognize arranges on beds of roasted onions dripping with juice. Sweetbreads, pigeon pie and apples roasted with spices sat beside mountain berry cakes frosted in sugar.
"Forget the view outside the view inside suits me more" she declared to the delight of a serving girl who poured her a cup of sweet red wine "Leave it to a man hm?" She said cryptically as the serving girl replied with an amused but incredulous look as Aila sat alone at the table.
"I can see why Lady Luna likes you Milady you've a fine humor"
"Humor?? Oh. Yes...Aila the amusing they call me" Perhaps if the girl had known what they really called Aila she wouldn't have laughed so readily as she left Aila with her drink.
Leonhard Of Xeno
The conversation stops.
- I am going to look for Kiera, to see if I make her reason my king. Enjoy the tournament while it is a good hobby.
Title: The Rogue Region Sordidus
Zenta traveling through Viseu makes camp. He then has his men construct a tent. After a while he sits at a crudely made desk and takes out a quil and parchment. He begins to right:
I am currently on my way to the region of Sordidus. I am curious, why have we not Conquered this region? If you are in need of a Lord for it I would gladly offer my services. I use to once be lord of Al Amarah that you so graciously intrust to me. I would not mind being a lord again. Though if there be another reason for not taking it I am sure it is a good one that you need not explain for you are King.
Zenta Carson, Knight of Shadowdale
Zenta orders a carrier to him and sends off the letter.
"I hope he gets it soon. I mean it is a rogue region I do not see why we can not tame it."
Zenta goes back to his tent and gets some rest before travels.
The combat between Flavia and Dawson had ended with unsurprising results. Maccio had been watching from the balcony and, eager to have some fun and finish the tournament to claim the reward, sat atop the handrail of the balcony, with one leg hanging on the other side, and asked Dawson:
- "Sir Dawson! Feel like fightin' again after this warmup, or did the lady tire ye out?"
Summer Evening - Evora
After the surrender Dawson is excited. He didnt even think he would make it this far. Then Maccio Aurelle yelled down to see if he was ready for another duel. Dawson was smiling when he looked up.
I am ready Lord Maccio. I will gladly accept.
- "Glad to hear!"
Maccio jumped down the balcony and rolled on the ground, dirtying his clothes. Then walked into one of the entrances towards one of the changing rooms.
- "I'll be right back, worry naught!"
His steward, who saw this coming the moment Maccio sat on the handrail, made his way before his lord even professed the challenge and had already arrived at the changing room. He offered Maccio his axe, buckler, bola balls and dagger, plus his nasal helmet with aventail to put on.
Maccio quickly returned to the arena, almost unarmored except for the helmet and with his axe resting on top of his left shoulder.
- "Let's dance."
"An unusual lass," Brigdha's eyes tracked the young dame's progress through the Manor House, a boisterous bruise of swirling energetic yellows with an undercurrent of purple self-doubt, "Though doubtless age will temper that."
Lady Tempest watched as Aila boldly stated her intention marching into her manor while listening to her own liege's apt description of the young golden haired noble.
"Lady Storme might be the bravest and boldest lady I have ever met. No qualms about stating her intentions and following through regardless of who she is addressing. Gods I love that fiery spirit." the Grey Exarch affirms.
Luna faces the Duke to address his earlier question, "Well the most convenient and tallest vantage point would be the manor terrace which just so happens to lie beyond the great hall. From there one can see the entire valley below with its crystal clear brook and misty waterfalls... It's even a great place to dispose of unruly guest. Again I jest, forgive me, your grace, my liege, Aila's very pretense make me want to pester others. I simply cannot help myself."
The Grey Exarch makes her way to the manor just entering the door, "If your grace and my liege would like have moment with each other please feel free and allow me to excuse myself. I shall have the servant pour everyone a glass on wine and meet you all on the Eagles Perch."
Summer Day - Evora
I WANNA FIGHT! WHAAAAA!
When the duel started Maccio charged Dawson straight away. He was very aggressive in his fight. Dawson was expecting it. He was expecting that Maccio would want to end the fight quickly and easily, seeing how Dawson was unproven in swordsmanship.
The fight went back and forth for a little while and Maccio swung his axe and Dawson saw an opening and ducked under the ax and attacked. Maccio fell back grabbing his side as a little bit of blood could be seen on Dawson's blade.
Dawson raised his blade in front of his face in salute
Well fought Lord Maccio, it truly was a good duel
Smiddich looks on with amusement and concern as Aila patters off to enjoy the repast; the porters and staff they brought with simply shrug and go back to unloading the wagon and saddlebags brought with, and storing it as directed. None of them will likely get to sample and of the finery inside except for scraps and leavings, but it sure does smell tasty.
"An unusal lass,"
- Lady Brigdha Dubhaine
"She is at that, your Worship", says the Duke of Perdan, rescuing a small barrel from atop the luggage being wheeled inside, "I hope you don't mind, but I brought you mead from home; our local knights seem to be in the liquor business in one way or another, representing breweries, wineries, distillieries and meaderies. I have to say, I was a brandy man before, but the sweet melomel is pleasant, after dinner, with a smoke."
"Lady Storme might be the bravest and boldest lady I have ever met!"
- Lady Luna Tempest
"Certainly strong of will, and a... let's call it the singleminded determination of youth!", says the pirate knight; did the Ambassador of Shadowdale crack a smile at that?
"I would love to see the sights from the eyrie, before it gets too late", says Smiddich, "I miss the thrill of the crows nest and having that wonderful view. You aught to see the cliffs from my study in the Ducal palace though!", says the Duke wistfully. He offers his arm to the Shadowdale Ambassador, "That's not out of the realms of possibility now, though. Lead on, your Worship!"
"The Valley Pool is one of East Continent's hidden gems Your Grace, and Lady Luna's estate enjoys the most spectacular vantage point from which to drink in its atmosphere." Brigdha's voice was light like the clean summer air at this high altitude as she drew close to the Ambassador, offering him her elegant, dignified arm, "I'd be honoured to share your first impressions."
She'd felt a strong temptation to claim the Manor for herself when she first moved to Evora, to play the role of The Baroness with splendour and power commensurate to the wealth in gold that flowed from the fabled Temple Delvings. Even after all her years as an ascetic, possessed of the full might of a Balancewalker, still the venal conceits of the Facies were a danger to be guarded against...
Recognising her own frailty she'd opted instead to raise her simple brock upon the craggy stone ramparts of an ancient hill fort, nestled between the vertiginous peaks far above them at the headwaters of the mighty Bescanon. There where in ancient days some petty chieftain had ruled from a rude wooden hall the river burst from its underground fountains already fully-formed, a white torrent rushing headlong to the Western Ocean, bearing with it the rich volcanic sediment which nourished the river valley and gave the vineyards their distinctive vintage.
Cual Dubhaine she'd named that place in Old Fontanese - Mount Dubhaine in the common tongue - and as many strange rumours surounded it as the Lady by whose command it burst forth one night from the rocky escarpment, a modest fortress to be sure compared to the mighty citadel complex of Akesh, and yet a vital chokepoint in the complex web of mountain passes which snaked their way through the torturous peaks, every approach guarded by sharp eyes and deadly shafts. For this was the playground of the Ghost Watch, that rumoured association of men and women who'd from time to time been remarked about The Shadow King's business abroad and yet whose loyalty was ultimately to House not Throne.
Summer Evening - Evora
Lindow was outside the enclosure with his grey guard. Suddenly Captain Rudgar brought a peasant.
- Tell to your highness what you told me, piece of sh*t! -
The peasant was terrified.
- Youuur Hi...ghness, forgive me... I didn't know! it was my fault that the dead rose suddenly...they were casualties of the epidemic who had been buried near an ancient elven ritual circle -
- Dumbass! you deserve to be spanked! - Captain Rudgar shouted
- Captain, that´s enough - Lindow said - Luckily they have not arrived at the enclosure, but take a platoon to the place and check that the area is clean - Lindow looked at the peasant
- Peasant! Bring wood and take over of burning these bodies, finish the job at nightfall or you will be whipped for your incompetence and mistake -
"Congratulations on your new position, Lord Maccio," said Flavia. Only a slight stiffness betrayed the fact that she had been recently wounded. "And may we meet with honor on the field."
Almost instantly she had asked for music and music came; to her delight a counter tenor lutist took up a stool nearby and asked Lady Storme what sort of music she liked. A most unexpected but instant answer from the young knight "A song of love" won a smile from the bard before he began his tune; with no one there to groan at her request he began a sickly sweet ballad about a woman from the southern kingdoms and her champion for Aila to listen to as she picked at a berry cake and sipped her wine. She seemed entirely unbothered to be alone not having come to make a show but rather see the Grey Exarch outside of a battlefield; as circumstances made that rather hard at the moment she settled for checking things out herself and so far she was impressed by Luna and her home.
Hidden behind a dreamy look at a comely young bard, Aila gave no hint of the creature of doubt that lurked in her heart. It had been there since the Gala, it had marched with her South and marched with her North and it sat with her now still at Luna's table. She would continue to watch the bard closely, his sweet words falling on deaf ears as internally she pondered her true place in all this.
Summer Evening - Evora
Luna made her way to the great hall to see Aila already enjoying the food, wine and apparently the bard who was playing a horrendous love song.
Wasting no time Lady Tempest informed a servant to pour some wine for her two guests who had still yet to enter the greathall while having another servant pour glass for herself. Wine in hand she boldly walked towards Lady Storme and sat down right beside her.
"Oh I love this song." Luna exclaimed while sneaking the bard a menacing glare for he undoubtedly knew the Grey Exarch did in fact not love the song but the implication was clear. Shut up and play.
Looking into Lady Storme's eyes while caressing her golden locks Luna would speak softly, "You look fabulous my fair lady, riding clothes or not all you need to wear are those beautiful hazel eyes and that flowing golden mane. Also what's this I see." Lady Tempest would look down towards Lady Storme's bosom, "A falcon crest and a falcon's whistle. You are a true falconer through and through aren't you. However you know Aila you never did tell me how Luna tasted."
The Grey Exarch would grab her glass on wine and take a large gulp awaiting with anticipation of Lady Aila's reaction. Would it be another duel request or something more friendly?
Lady Storme had been thoroughly distracted with her thoughts, stirred by Luna sitting close at her side. She hid her surprise behind a sip of wine before turning to face the other woman. At once the realization that Luna liked a good love song as well as she did made her smile at once and her resulting compliment was met with a well practiced flattered act that she used every time someone commented on the golden made as Luna called it. Her straying eyes however were not something she was used to getting from any noble in Perdan.
Innocent Aila let out her somewhat shocked breath as she resolved that Luna had simply noticed her chains and wanted a look; the mention of Luna her falcon softened her still. Deft fingers picked the small whistle out of her shirt and she pulled it off over her head, sweeping her hair over once shoulder as she did so. She offered it to Luna, revealing a tiny tarnished silver whistle cast in the shape of an otter "I didn't eat her. I was trying to hurt you." for once the little knight did not sound annoyed. "And I brought the whistle for you." In an uncharacteristic move, away from her Duke she would admit "House Storme has no treasure, or riches that a banker or merchant would care for. I can only offer things that /I/ care for.You gave me a companion that I shouldn't have taken for granted; then an invitation to a place I never thought I would come to in peace. This is all I have to repay you. My father taught me to hunt with it, it's shrill...Probably not much good to you. It's not much good to me either. But it's been close to my heart for many years so I hope you'll keep it close to yours."
She sat back now, the one to drink as she waited for Luna's reply; Internally daring her to try and refuse the meager gift.
Leonhard Of Xeno
Title: Leonhard - Kiera
Leonhard will come to court looking for Kiera. Once he finds her, he will stand alone in front of him, with his armor and his sheathed sword and shield on his back.
- Greetings Lady Kiera, I am sorry to have to come looking for you but I would like to know that it has happened exactly so that at this moment you are behaving in this way.
Title: Leonhard - Kiera
Kiera poured a whiskey for each of them and drank back her own.
"Hooaah am ah relaxin' in Krimml, or hooaah am ah writin' maah own letters thayse days?"
She poured another glass for herself.
"Ah'm relaxin' in Krimml because it is maah home away from Oporto.
Ah'm writin' maah own letters because maah scribbler fell down a well an don't have a tail feather left his neck."
Leonhard Of Xeno
Title: Leonhard - Kiera
Leonhard looks at the whiskey and then watches as Kiera drinks the first and then the second. Leonhard deny with the head.
- "Do you see normal doing all this? I mean ... I have been serving Shadowdale for two years and I have never read one of your letters that way or heard you speak that way."
Leonhard would circle the cup a couple of times while looking at Kiera quite seriously.
"Aye Matey, I do hear ye, but what do ya mean I gotta pay ye to use ye fine ins-ti-to-shon?"
Maxy stumbled over the last word, face covered in clear confusion. The bank clerk was visibly upset, trying to explain fines to a pirate -
"Can't ye give me and me lads some quarter mate? Ye judge aint even the same scallywag!"
"Sir, it's only 10 gold......"
Karbala - Tournament of the New Tomorrow - After Dawson vs Maccio + Flavia vs Maccio round 2 + Beginning of Dawson vs Maccio round 2
Maccio excused himself after his defeat by Dawson, and spent a day being tended to his wounds.
- "Hmpf, lucky devil."
- "Is it really luck if you charge carelessly and be defeated?"
Maccio grumbled, for he knew his steward was right. He underestimated his opponent, the same way other opponents underestimated him, and it cost him a loss. Had this round been considered the last, all these days and victories would have been way less fruitful. He would have still grown as a duelist, but the cost of his instructors would have nearly matched the reward.
He needed to be careful next time.
Flavia was injured in her combat with Dawson, as well, and it took some more time for her to fully recover. Maccio spent that time with better instructors that might give him a last push to, maybe, win the tournament.
Once she recovered, both met on the arena once more. Flavia, instead of charging, remained with her guard up and seemed to expect him to attack first. It might have been because of her recent injury, but Maccio thought otherwise: both Dawson and Flavia seemed to have come to think he was inclined to fighting offensively. He had to change.
Maccio stopped after his first step forward and raised his guard, then approached his opponent with caution. The fight prolonged for a while, way more than their last encounter lasted, trading blows and feints, but it resulted in another victory.
- "Nice fight. I see ye took note of our last fight."
Maccio rested his axe atop his left shoulder, turned to the balcony of high nobility and watched Lindow declare the beginning of the next round to the masses. Then, he tried to lock eye contact with Dawson, and a mischievous grin appeared on his face.
- "Well now!" - Maccio spoke loudly, with his arms wide open - "I still have plenty of energy left fer another round, n' have already warmed up. How about we end this today, now that the spirits are high?"
Dawson steps into the fighting square.
"Lord Maccio I would of course be honored to fight you again. Im hoping I can win this fight like I did the last one and win this tournament. And I would like to announce I will be fighting for Dana during this fight."
Karbala - Tournament of the New Tomorrow - Final Round: Dawson vs Maccio, round 2
- "Lord Maccio I would of course be honored to fight you again. Im hoping I can win this fight like I did the last one and win this tournament. And I would like to announce I will be fighting for Dana during this fight."
- "Oh ho, what a gentleman. I hope I can win, as well. Last time I underestimated ye, to be honest" - Replies Maccio whilst circling around Dawson - "And bit the dust fer that. I won't be so foolish to repeat the same mistake twice. It's nice to have a second chance to get back at ye."
"And by the way!" - Says Maccio speaking louder - "My chosen fer this fight is myself, unless forbidden. After all, being a lord does not make me less of a knight."
"And now..." - Lowering his voice - "Let's dance."
Lindow laughs upon hearing that Maccio would fight for himself.
- Lord Maccio, the dame of the New Tomorrow will open the dance with the winner of the tournament at the banquet of the Grey Palace, are you going to open the dance alone? -
- Or a knight and dance together - said an anonymous voice making people started laughing.
- Silence! - Lindow shouted - whoever said that lack of respect, say it head-to-head! -
People started looking at each other but no one moved.
- Tormentor, you have many beautiful ladies here who would want to share your victory if you won, choose someone -
Maccio burst out laughing at the comment.
- "Oh, come on! I try to pull off an unexpected move n' name myself Knight of the New Tomorrow, feelin' all prideful n' great, yet I end up gettin' a comedy scene like those of the theatres. The irony! I didn't expect the person we were to choose had to dance with us in the banquet, so I thought I could do this n' just pick some other lady fer the dance.
Well, whatever. I'd like to choose somebody close to my own age, yet among the higher nobility only Dana n' Flavia remain in Karbala, n' I can't choose Dana since our gentleman here, Sir Dawson, already did so, n' it would be bad manners to try n' steal her affection fer myself. Too bad Luna isn't 'round! T'would've been hilarious to choose her n' see her face.
Anyways..." - Maccio throws one of his leather gloves to the balcony of the lesser nobility - "Whoever lady gets it will be my partner, then!"
Summer Evening - Evora
Final Round of the New Tomorrow Tournament
The musicians blew the trumpets, people clamored for their favorite, and at that moment, Lord Maccio and Sir Dawson emerged from each tent. Both opponents approached the arena.
Lindow was standing in the balcony, extended his hand asking for silence.
- Shadowdalians, many days have passed since the beginning of this wonderful tournament. Although the final round is already here, I must highlight the quality of all the participants in this duel - Lindow said pointing to both the participants who were in the arena and those who were already sitting on the balcony - all of you have demonstrated a great ability to combat, a nobility to fight and an honor and respect for your opponent, for all that, all of you have my respect - Lindow said as he began to applaud causing the rest of the audience to applaud.
- Shadowdalians! - Lindow screamed - Today one of these two great warriors will win in this great tournament, get the chest of one thousand gold and name his chosen one as Lady of the New Tomorrow. Good luck and may the best man win -
Maccio and Dawson meet in the square and face each other. Dawson raises his sword in salute and readies himself for the fight. The duelists circled each other a few times swinging testing blows at each other until the actual fighting started.
Once the duelists starting actually fighting it was intense and after a while each noble was bleeding in several spots. However neither person wanted to surrender with the gold on the line.
Finally Dawson found a weak spot in his opponents gaurd and attacked there. Dawson misjudged with the attack and went harder then expected and wounded Maccio. As Maccio hit the ground his second threw his flag in and ran to the lord.
Dawson bent down to check on the other noble before facing the cheering crowd. His second walked over to him and handed him a flower. Dawson smiled at the crowd then walked over to the section where the nobles was sitting.
"My Lady Dana please take this rose as a symbol of my honor and I hope to see you at the dance."
Then Dawson turned to Lindow and salutes with his sword across his chest and bows his head.
"My lord it was an honor"
Summer Day - Evora
Final round ot the Tournament of the New Tomorrow
- Bravo! Very good fight - Lindow said while applauding - Send the best healers to the tent of the Tormentor Lord Maccio - he said to a servant who was near him.
- Sir Dawson, you have left me stunned, a young knight has managed to defeat the best and most veteran nobles of Shadowdale, you have my sincerest congratulations -
A herald approached with a large chest while another herald went to the Maccio´s tent,
- Take your prize, and prepared for the banquet, Lady of the New Tomorrow Dana and you will open the dance at the banquet of the Gray Palace this evening - Lindow said and looked to Foxen.
- If the Shadowdale Champion wants, you are going to fight this evening for who is the best swordfighter of the realm -
"Thank you my lord. I look forward to the festivities and also to duel the previous champion."
Dawson then grabs the chest of gold and walks back to his tent smiling. Still stunned and excited that he somehow got the victory in this tournament.
Smiddich allows Brigdha to lead them slowly on a tour of the mountain oasis, taking in the expansive height of the settlement. Though small, it must have been an impressive feat to build on such a precipice. Being used to sails and masts, and living on somewhat of a precipice himself, Smiddich was no stranger to vertigo and dizzying heights.
"Your Worship", he says plainly, once they had reached a lookout and enjoyed the view, "My presence here must be confusing", admits the Duke of Perdan.
"It must be unseemly to you for a man of my age and stature", he clears his throat, "To be escorting a slip of a knight so much my junior. Her relationship with Lady Luna is baffling and full of juvenile spite, but I believe it has no true toxicity at its core. The two threaten each other, perhaps, in a contest of wealth and power... but I perceive also a mite of jealousy and adolescent curiosity. If not from both sides, then at least from one to another."
The Duke turns away for a time, not wishing to dwell on that subject overmuch.
"These are truly strange times", he admits, in the overstatement of the century, "And the council and I are truly baffled that the previously wholly antagonistic war machine of the North has ground to a halt. Both Perdan and Shadowdale are now of a like; full to brimming with idealistic new knights, pressing at our borders for give, and clamoring to find ways to entertain them without causing an international incident. It must be that every realm refuses to send the declaration of war without the best cause, lest they be identified as the aggressor."
Smiddich turns to address her face to face, "Brigdha, Perdan the realm - the one that people want to hate? It doesn't exist any more. There was a time when we might have deserved what was coming to us but those responsible are gone, and if not, gone from any position of power. All that my young knights have known is this war, and not the reasons for it. Believe us, we have not shied from our awful past, but we have tried to be the better for it."
He shifts uncomfortably, "I know that everyone is clamoring for allies, now. No-one wants to be the one sitting out of this dance. I want Shadowdale to know that Perdan has endorsed a peace treaty between our two nations; no more war between us. We'll come to your defense if you suffer for it; if Shadowdale is overwhelmed, you can count on our support. We're nearby and have plenty of knights eager to move North across the river, if it comes to that. However, I understand that you have been allied with Sirion, Eponlynn and Nivemus for a long time. You may still owe them a debt, if not fealty, and we understand that. What I'm offering you - Shadowdale - _right now_ is the first right of refusal. We will not be offering it to Eponlynn or Sirion, and my hand will not be extended for long. I beg you to grasp it!"
The black bladed Duke composes himself, "If not a peace treaty, then one of neutrality, perhaps? Formalised; not to go without saying as we had with Nivemus, or Caligus. For those nations too look for allies. The deep south has finally gotten its act together and with the Vixen merger, their strength is now undeniable. They'll look north for vengeance, without a doubt."
He sighs, "Aila and I shall depart in the morning. I thank you most kindly for your hospitality. I believe we best go and check on the girls before any blood is spilled!"
Foxen, from the day the tournament started in the glorious city of Karbala, trained every morning at his city mansion. While his soldiers spent the wages earned in the last unfortunately interrupted campaign in the tavern.
After training in the morning, he cleaned his body with cold water and walked to his office where he spent a few hours studying the situation on the continent and reading. Unlike most nobles, he did not need scribes. He learned to read and write since his family was a merchant. But Margrave Carmine had more passion for war than for accounts.
When his allies fought in the arena, he could do nothing but watch what made him uneasy. But he calmed his eagerness to fight by drinking wine from a glass sitting in the shade. When the last bouts came, being so close, he did not know who he would end up fighting with, but after a good fight, Dawson won.
Watching the last match from the royal box once ended. Foxen nodded to the king accepting the duel for the Shadowdale champion title he had won in a tournament. It was going to be important, his honor as a warrior was at stake, his position on the council as well. He was not a very talkative person but he liked to be aware of everything that was happening in the kingdom.
Carmine got up and announced:
-Dawson Lawson, Knight of Karbala. He accepted the duel for the title of Shadowdale Champion for winning the King's tournament. Today afternoon.- After this he turned to his armory where he began to prepare assisted by his servants.
Summer Evening - Evora
Dawson faces his opponent and salutes him.
"My lord it is an honor to duel you no matter how this turns out."
Foxen salutes back and with that the duel starts.
"Children are indeed a concern when left unwatched for too long, much like a boiling kettle," Brigdha's voice betrayed just the merest hint of amusement in contrast to her otherwise serene facade, an enigmatic gesture which did nothing to dispel the somewhat disconcerting sense that she often knew far more than she was letting on.
"I think it's quite charming that our two young ladies have formed such a strong attachment despite their mismatched natures, and I see in their rivalry something not entirely dissimilar to the tension between our peoples," even though the Duke towered over the Baroness her presence somehow seemed undiminished by the comparison. They began their leisurely walk back towards the Manor House and their waiting refreshments, as if the heavenlies were leisurely descended on the peaks of Evora to speak of matters pecular to their estate.
Here and there a bird's fulsome screech pierced the evening quiet as the sun sank behind the snow-capped peaks, spreading a sea of purple and orange across the escarpment whilst the sheer sides of the Valley Pool receded into deep shadow. The air would soon turn chill as the last weak light of day guttered into ashen twilight, limning the woodlands below with a delicate rime of hoarfrost even at this time of year. But here in the heights watchful eyes would continue their silent vigil, limbs huddled in thick woolen cloaks within their unseen hides.
"A younger generation seeks a place in this world Smiddich, just as your generation did before them, and mine before that. Few amongst men remember all the sorrows of our past let alone of the times before," Brigdha stroked a whisp of hair from her face, sable strands gliding effortlessly over unwrinkled skin, "Yet there are other powers in these lands who do remember. Once men perhaps, but not of our lineage, to whom the spilled blood of ancient days still screams for vengeance. And there are things immeasurably older. Darker. Unforgiving. Minds which slumbering dream great and dreadful dreams."
"Have you ever heard of The Great Serpent? The Dragon of Elfland?" she stopped, turning to face the Duke and holding his gaze for the briefest moment, a moment which stretched to eternity and back as a flood of images and emotions crashed in no particular order into his consciousness. Smiddich reeled, struck with a vertigo alien to him and the priestess steadied him. Was this a dream? Sorcery? There was no rock on which to anchor the experience as faces cascaded before his eyes, elf and man and orc, and a babel of tongues filled his ears. But there was an anchor sure enough. A sword forged when the world was young, and two malevolent lidless eyes, serpentine brimstone chasms. The vision was gone in the instant but it left an imprint permanently etched in the Duke's memory and in subtle ways the world seemed new to the Pirate Lord's eyes.
"Whilst the dragon slumbers so do I, a curse from Elven youth, but when the dragon rises in ecstasy, I’ll be that serpent’s proof!" their lips moved in unison as the doggerel passed to her by Meristenzio now passed to Smiddich.
Lady Tempest paid the utmost attention to Lady Aila as she unveiled her gift for the Grey Exarch. At first Luna was a little disappointed that Lady Storme seemly did not understand or did not care for earlier advances but as Aila spoke it became evident that she was so pure of heart she couldn't possibly understand how the Grey Exarch truly felt.
"But it's been close to my heart for many years so I hope you'll keep it close to yours." - Aila Storme
Luna was deeply touched by the Dame's gift. What would seem quite a meager gift to most meant the world to Lady Tempest, she even had to hold back a tear or two while receiving the silver whistle from Aila's out stretched hand.
Holding Aila's hand in her own along with the silver whistle Luna would speak to her fair haired friend, "Lady Aila you have me at a loss. Your gift already means the world to me. I do not measure worth in amounts of gold but in quality of character. If you say this whistle has been close to your heart it's as if you have given me a very piece of your own heart and I will treasure it always."
Studying the whistle carefully Luna saw it was cast in the shape on an otter giving the gift even more significance as the animal was said to symbolize friendship, peace and kindness. The Grey Exarch wasted no time slipping the silver chain of the otter whistle over her head to rest securely around her neck giving it one more glance before looking back into Aila's gentle face.
"I wonder!" Luna exclaims jumping from her seat grabbing Lady Storme by the hand and dragging her along, "Come with me, I wish to show you something on the terrace and your gift should be perfect to call him."
The Grey Exarch proceeds to lead her guest along until they are both standing out in the brisk mountain air with the very last light of the sun to soon be hidden behind the tall mountains around. Luna pressed the whistle to her lips and unleashes a loud shrill then looks towards the sky. A few moments pass but nothing appears, the sky is as beautiful as ever but is complete empty except for its failing color in the darkness. Luna looks back to Aila slightly disappointed when from below the terrace a great gust of wind rises and a massive brown eagle along with it.
Ever the master hunter and the king of the sky the great bird surprised both ladies and perched upon the roof above, sharp deadly talons gripping and breaking some of the clay tiles underneath. He would spread his wings wide once stretching at least 10 feet wide before folding them majestically aside and staring down at the two women below.
Luna could barely contain her excitement grabbing both Lady Storme's hands and speaking to the Dame, "Aila this is Apollo, my friend nay my kindred spirit. We crossed paths the last full moon but I had not seen him since. He is a omen of my destiny and I had hoped he would come to the call of your whistle. Its seems my fate is not only entwined with this symbol of freedom but also with you my fair lady."
Letting go of Aila's hand and looking back at the towering eagle Luna continued, "If only you could get to see his majesty up closer but i'm afraid Apollo is still a free spirit, a wild king. I regret that he will never be tamed to command, perhaps a testament to our own fates my Lady."
The gratefulness Luna received her gift in truth was relief to Aila; the little whistle was a relic from the days her little fingers did not serve her to whistle for her falcons and the trinket was her late fathers dear solution. As she pulled the necklace over her neck Aila helped by pulling the raven black braid through and let it rest on Luna's shoulder. At once her hand was clasped in Luna's and she was pulled to her feet then across the great hall of her estate to a Terrance attached as the Grey Exarch exclaimed about meeting /him/ "Him what do you mean him?"
Aila winces at the sound of the shrill whistle; she had played with it on the way to Evora but she hadn't realized quite how deafening it was for everyone around it. Something about Luna seemed defeated in the moments after the whistle, Aila put a hand on her shoulder in unknowing reassurance, as she was about to ask what the matter was a brown flash carried on the wind caused her to jump; startled. The great bird Aila recognized at once as an eagle spread it's wings in a rather threatening display Aila cling to the arm of the other knight in shock and awe.
Dame Aila had a look that could only be described as dumbfounded as Luna grasped both of her hands and explained excitedly what she had just witnessed. The jealousy that always plagued Aila seemed to have shown itself once again as when Luna let go of her, Aila disappeared at once into the dining hall without a word. A long moment passed before she would emerge again with leg of a lamb still dripping with fat, the bone clutched in one hand as she inched toward the giant beast without any hint of wanting or needing permission.
Fascination overtook caution as the lady falconer moved close; offering outstretched to Apollo as he stared down at her with keen eyes that reflected the dancing light of the torches set out on the terrace. "It's for you" she insisted, taking another cautious step forward.
The swift snap of a break longer then her hand made her breath catch in her throat but she did not jump away or even move an inch as he ripped the gift out of her grasp and pinned it under one foot and began tearing away at the flesh swallowing huge chunks at a time as Aila sized him up in absolute delight. "Kings don't need taming, do they handsome fellow" she spoke softly, too softly to hide the trembling inside her. "Nothing to regret about it at all"
The opportunity to stroke his feathers was right there, yet Aila valued her archers fingers too much to chance it. Once he finished his snack she backed away to Luna again, having drank in her fill of the massive animal up close. She would resist the urge to gush to Luna about it all; instead she grasped Luna's hand in hers remaining silent to watch her kindred spirit with quiet and keen interest until he took his leave.
Summer Day - Evora
Grey Palace Banquet
Today was a unique day, a day when all the nobles of Shadowdale were going to enjoy an evening in the Grey Palace, residence of the Shadow King. The district square was beautifully decorated, making a way to the palace stairs.
As soon as all the guests entered, they were introduced by a herald before entering the banquet hall.
The room was huge. Unlike the throne room, this room had no columns, it only had four large windows on one of the long sides and on the other a wall full of mirrors. On the ceiling everyone could see beautiful frescoes of mythological animals, flowers, strange breeds and great warriors. The tables were arranged in a large U, leaving a gap in the middle where the dance would open. In one corner was an orchestra playing ambient songs.
- His Majesty the Shadow King Lindow Moonsun - announced a herald.
Lindow entered the room as the guests bowed. He made his way to his place at the table and waited for the guests to be placed. Once they were all in place, Lindow grabbed his goblet and raised it
- Shadowdalians, welcome to the Grey Palace. Today is a night of celebration, this tournament has not been just one more tournament, its meaning goes beyond what it is, Shadowdale has awakened, hungry for expansion, hungry for conquests and glory, hungry to show everyone that they were wrong to belittle us...welcome to a New Tomorrow, for Shadowdale! -
- For Shadowdale! - everybody toasted
- Bring the food! - Lindow screamed and a great line of servants appeared with large trays of exquisite food: stuffed turkeys, roasted pigs, smoked deer, large pieces of beef, ribs, exotic fruits, cakes, etc.
Grey Palace Banquet
Dawson looks around at the room impressed by the show of strength and power that has been put into the room. He stands for the speech and raises his glass at the end and drinks it down with the toast the king made then sits down and waits for his plate of food to be brought to him while enjoying another cup of wine
"This is delightful," thought Flavia.
She had enjoyed the tournament, even though she herself had not made a good showing. And now-- the decorations were superb. And as for the food ...
She raised her goblet as the King proposed a toast.
Summer Day - Evora
Grey Palace Banquet
People were enjoying dinner. It could hear laughter, screaming, singing, people telling stories, etc. Lindow raised his hand looking at his butler Sebas to come closer.
- Sebas, bring it now - Lindow said
Sebas bowed and left. At once Lindow rose from his chair, crossed between the tables to enter the central area. He looked at the guests and said:
- Sir Dawson, come here -
Everything got quiet as Lindow moved to he center of the room and told Dawson to step forward. The knight was nervous and excited at the same time as he arose from his chair and walked to his king. Once there he bowed his head.
My Lord I am at your request
Grey Palace Banquet
- Sir Dawson, kneel down - Lindow said, at that moment Sebas came with Lindow's sword.
Dawson knelt down in front of Lindow, who took his sword and placed it on both Dawson's shoulders while he said
- For demonstrating the best sword feat in Shadowdale, I, Lindow Moonsun, Shadow King of Shadowdale, appoint you, Sir Dawson, Knight of Karbala, Champion of Shadowdale, rise up Champion Dawson -
Grey Palace Banquet
Dawson stood up extremely excited.
My lord thank you for this honor. I will serve the realm the best I can.
Summer Day - Evora
The guests were applauding while Lindow put away his sword and his butler Sebas withdrew to put it away. Lindow looked at the musicians and shouted.
- Play! It's time to open the dance! - Lindow said while he looked at Dawson and Dana, then he returned to his chair leaving the center empty.
Summer Evening - Evora
Dawson takes Dana's hand.
My lady can I have this dance?
Summer Day - Evora
“Have you ever heard of The Great Serpent? While the Dragon slumbers, so do I, a curse from Elven youth, but when the dragon rises in ecstasy, I’ll be that serpents proof!”
Lady Brigda Dubhaine
Smiddich felt his lips moving unbidden, uttering those words. A snake, a sword, an elven youth. How much did she know? His hand flexed reflexively, dancing over the hilt of his sabre as if to ward off the serpents gaze; or that of the Shadowdale Ambassador. For all that he despised spellcasting and the mythical world, pirates were superstitious and too much of her vignette rang with truth.
“I’m sure I have not, your Excellency”, he says at last, turning up the collar of his cloak against a suddenly frigid blast of cold. “But I thank you for the tour, the view, and your attention. If you will allow me to pen Perdan’s official offer, I shall leave it for your review before we depart, tomorrow. Now – we had best turn our attention to our knights, I fancy, should be left alone no longer!”
He escorts the priestess down the cliffs again, but it is uncertain who is supporting whom. Twice, Smiddich is struck with a bout of vertigo – unimaginable! – and once the surefooted pirate slips on a loose rock which clatters to the ground. The world seems out of focus and sounds jangle discordant in his ears.
At dinner, and during the evenings conversation, he is dour and distracted, easily startled by light and sound. He drinks heavily, but eats little, and the one cigar he takes burns low without his intervention. Is the Duke lost in the perils of diplomacy, his thoughts reeling with treaties and the wages of war? Or is the subtle susurrous of the slumbering serpent insinuated into his psyche already?
He stands, suddenly, unsteadily, “Ladies”, he utters, addressing Aila, Luna and Brighda, “I fear I must retire. The long journey and the thin mountain air does not agree with me. My apologies, please; if you will see me to the accomodations, I would be obliged. Thankyou for entertaining us here, in the heart of Evora. The trip has been eventful, and I hope, fruitful for our nations. Think on peace, and if not peace, then at least, not war.”
With that, he turns and swirls off down the corridor, brooding with sour thoughts, to pen a treaty he fears will never be signed. In the morning, he rises early and urges his men to prepare horses.
It is clear he has not slept.
Aila is the only one astute enough to notice, meekly (for the Duke snaps at her once for tarrying), that the grey streak in his hair has disappeared, replaced with ravendark.