Dubhaine Family/Ciarghuala/Roleplays/1018/July

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1st July

Autumn Day -- Nid Tek

William Fitz Roberts

The fight was on. Helga was clearly the better fighter, parrying her opponent’s thrusts and strikes with ease, and yet she sensed some raw talent underneath some of his less clumsy blows. She racked a few easy strikes across his arms and legs, but he only cried out once. He did manage to strike her a couple of times and she was forced to duck to avoid being hit in the eye. She was just beginning to enjoy herself when she heard a shrill shriek of indignant rage

‘There you are, Giesla and Helga come here this instant!’

Helga immediately disengaged from the visibly disappointed Drake and said ‘Bugger, it’s Henriette’

‘I heard that young lady, just wait until your father hears about this’, Drake turned to see a very short, blonde woman purposefully advancing towards them, flanked by some Bravi in the Fitz Roberts colours. She was a pretty woman, that was clear, but in that instance her face was twisted into pure unadulterated rage that made her utterly terrifying

‘Running off on your own, stealing food, causing a ruckus, you’re supposed to be young nobles not gutter rats’

Both Helga and Giesla immediately bowed their heads. Helga spoke for them ‘We’re sorry, governess. We were bored and we…’

‘Oh, so you were bored were you?’ Henriette’s shrill voice went even higher, ‘your Phrycian lessons not good enough for you? Tell me, what would happen if every person in your father’s camp just wandered off on a whim when they were bored?’

‘It would be anarchy, governess’ Giesla muttered, her eyes still low in shame

‘You’re coming home right now’ Henriette bellowed in fury and snatched up Helga’s arm, before spotting Drake, ‘and who in the name of Darka is this?’

‘That’s Drake Bluelake’ Said Giesla, sending Drake a nasty smile knowing that she had done the exact thing he had asked her not to, ‘he asked us not to tell anyone who he was’

‘Another Highborn? You’re coming with us too young man’

Before Drake could do anything, he was swept up by one of the Bravi. A few hours later, he was in the camp standing alone in the centre of a circle of tents, the twins having been given over to their mother for discipline. Drake waited, unsure of what was going to happen to him. It was then that the flap of the tent in front of him opened up and out of stepped the largest man that Drake had ever seen, dressed in a simple black doublet.

The man towered over the small figure, before smiling and kneeling down

‘Who are you then?’

The boy gave his most perfect bow, knowing it was useless to hide his identity now. “I'm Drake Bluelake Heir of House, milord Imperial Marshal … ? You *are* the Imperial Marshal, right? I heard you were tall, but, I'd never have imagined…” his blue eyes looked fearlessly into William's “You must be able to see very far, milord.”

William chuckled at the boy’s words. ‘I can indeed boy. Helga tells me that you wish to join the army and fight alongside the countess Tyra? I can bring you to her, but our paths might not cross for some time. Until then, would you like to travel with me and be a part of my retinue?’

Drake couldn't believe his luck. He wasn't being sent back! The boy smiled one of his big smiles and assumed the position of one of William's guards. “I’m at your service, milord! And I don't want to be a guest, make me work to earn my stay, sir - milord” he hesitated a bit, considering his options regarding his family “But could you send a letter to Lady Tyra telling her where I am?”

‘As you wish, I shall send the letter presently’

2nd July

Autumn Day -- Poryatu

Luarin Bowker

As the sun sets from the sky, take a drink and remember Him. Our great Emperor. For without him, we would see no sun as Lurians. Do not stop at just you, treat your men to an ale. It is Lurian gold we use, and not D'Haran. Luria Nova has always provided, and it is faith in our Empire - our Emperor - that has always made this so. Let not your thoughts be poisoned, but rejoice. Perfection and peace are but things to strive for. We will never truly have either - but our good Suzerain Emperor Aldrakar Renodin is our best hope of finding it.

Long live the Emperor, long live the Empire!

The Queen raise her glass seconding Lady Isabella words.

Long live the Emperor, long live the Empire! My arms are yours, as long as you need it. My weapons, Lords and knights, will fight at your side as one.

Myr Arnickles Renodin

"Rejoice, the Emperor returns!" - could be heard from outside the Heir's Gate windows. Myr pulled out his ocarina and whistled the melody of the Imperial March.

Autumn Evening -- Dantooine

Kiran Mir-Ashtan

The Diversion of Nid Tek - Sunset

The sun sat low on the horizon, the sunrise had not faired them well as Kiran contemplated events still within his armour. Gambeson beneath chest and armpieces of chainmail, Splinted vambraces and grieves and his head coifed with a basinet as his helm. As was expected he carried his shield adorned his family crest, at least the shield was somewhat fine. The armour was rough and scratched it had survived the test of time and experienced patches, some of which were relatively new.

His sword had been rendered useless during one of numerous battles within Matten Dews and he still had time to wait before a commission could be completed, given he would need to spend time with a smith to have it balanced appropriately. For now, he had decided to employ a hand axe to aid him in the melee and joined his retinue in the deployment of ranged weaponry through the use of Javelin's at least in the case of not engaging in the melee he could keep his arm fresh. He hoped a strategic retreat after causing some damage to the monster herds would at least buy time for his allies to make preparations. They had lost the Imperial Marshal, he did not return from the battlefield after sunrise and could well have been captured or killed and the Chancellor of Swordfell had been wounded. This just left Kiran and his Ember Helms under the Captaincy of Sevonina active in the region.

They would aim to meet the creatures of rough terrain with the intentions of using it to prevent the pursuit after engaging the creatures, though Kiran and Sevonina knew they would of course suffer casualties and likely fatalities in the battle.

The engagement would begin with the group closing with a moderate distance of the creatures, where his most accurate members of the retinue would engage with longer ranged weapons. It seemed that they were in luck as a large cluster numbering around twenty six beasts of a quite sizeable nature, suffered a single casualty likely extenuated as the creature was crushed under its fellows hooves. Though the continued to close as his retinue began their second volley which once again scored another casualty under those same hooves.

The Monsters unorderly mass made up three reasonable clusters on the field of battle, the front made up of the two herds. One the aforementioned twenty six strong herd, with a nearby thirteen strong group of smaller monsters. For the melee engagement Kiran had dispatched Sevonina with a well armoured section of the retinue to prevent encirclement as he remained with the rest and their peltasts to focus on the larger beasts.

The biggest of the creatures bore down on Kiran's remnants as they closed to melee, javelins met with the creatures causing wounds to adorn their body and most fortunately bringing the largest of the large group to its four knees. Kiran supported by his men were able to swiftly dispatch such a wounded creature with axe, spear and small blade. It seemed luck was on their side as the creatures swiftly descended into panic and routed from the battlefield. Luck however did not side well with Sevonina and her section, they struggled against the smaller creatures whom had engaged them in melee swiftly tearing apart a number of the unit. However, there job was done and casualties were building up. In a sense, it was the human's retreating for the hills. The battle had cost them ten of their thirty strong forces during this battle, though they had been able to carry out seven of their wounded in time.

Though now Kiran would have to track himself down a new main weapon, he had been left with but a knife after lodging the axe in the creatures skull. It at least served its use for its time...

3rd July

Autumn Day -- Dantooine

Goriad Gabanus

Goriad was impressed that she was aware of who he was "Lady Andrasta, it is a pleasure to meet you," he said as he made a short bow "I will escort you to the Emperor. Is there by any chance an Imperial army on its way to secure us a safe exit from Girich?"

As they walked towards the hiding place Goriad could not help himself "Milady, if I may ask, in what way are you related to Cador Andrasta?"

Tyra Andrasta Bluelake

Tyra walked drawing shallow breaths on account of her ribs and feeling slightly uncomfortable at being treated so courteously. She was also noticing her savior's light steps, nearly silent, and constant, though discreet, vigilance.

"The army is rallying in Mattan Dews. But since the monsters are starting to travel there... Maybe they won't even come. As for King Cador, I don't really know to what degree we are related. My grandfather lived a long time in the South Islands, and he was an Andrasta... Sennianus was his name. I grew up at the Andrasta manor in Beluaterra... Or rather, outside of it." With a little amusement she said "Sennianus the Mad, grandfather to Tyra Thunderborn, what a bloodline we make..."

The hideout was cleverly devised. Branches were arranged in a way to conceal a camp made between two large boulders. The Emperor's tent was ahead but Tyra preferred going to the fire to grab some food and drink. She'd never met him outside the battlefield... Maybe now was not the time either.

"Earl Goriad, tell me, where did you learn to walk like that? Are you a hunstman?"

Goriad Gabanus

Goriad smiled at Tyra "Sennianus the Mad, I believe I have seen his name somewhere before although I am uncertain where. I am certain stories about such a man should provide interesting conversation. I do hope he was not like Arkady R the mad here upon Dwilight," and he continued walking until she asked him if he was a huntsman.

"A huntsman milady? At times when it is needed, although my scouts usually do so for me. No I grew up in Rettlevile milady and was there when the great hordes ran over the western kingdoms. One is either to adapt, or perish in the darkest of times. When stars shine bright in the sky, they serve as a reminder of the times when men has lost its way, when we have brought disharmony to this world and we have always been punished severely for it," he sighed for a moment "Look around you milady, only those able to adapt will survive."

Tyra Andrasta Bluelake

Tyra looked around the camp, and yes, she could see how each tent had been deliberately set up as to cover an entrance, fire pits doubled as gathering points and strategic traps for wandering beasts. These people knew what they were doing.

"I see what you mean, by adapting. While I've grown up around beasts and undead myself, it was never leading soldiers or servants... As children we'd just climb trees, hide in holes. But you seem to have both the huntsman skill to move discreetly and the strategy to keep a larger group safe." She frowned "But as for disharmony and punishment... Punishment for what? And isn't disharmony just another face of harmony? Like destruction is necessary so there can be construction? Endlessly cycling?"

She was trying to make sense of this against the lessons on Tor she got from Karibash.

Goriad Gabanus

As Tyra spoke, Goriad looked at the young women with a look of intrigue "Do they no longer teach the words of the Holy Prophet Seoras in his homelands?" he responded. "When he died and returned to us, he had seen the truth of our world. The bloodstars in the air do not simply strengthen our emotions, they seem to do so with a cause," but just as he attempted to explain the theory, one of his scouts ran in yelling "They are coming milord, Lurian soldiers, they are coming!"

Goriad looked at Tyra again, "Perhaps another time then milady. Shall we meet the men and guide them to their SEmperor. He has been healing and my healers have cared for his wounds, so hopefully he'll have the strength once more to address the men."

Goriad, 55 years of age now looked at the young lady in front of him "how youth travels quickly," he thought as he smiled and turned to the scout who had entered "Bring them to us, we will see if the Suzerain Emperor is able to address them."

Emyhr le Craint

As camp settled in Girich, the men began the process of distributing rations and drink for the benefit of the Empire. A scout returned back to Emyhr's tent, who was stood there with Captain Gustaf marking points of interest into the map itself.

"Sir Emyhr, we have located the Emperor. His is the care of Earl Goriad of Ashrak, a nobleman from Swordfell."

Emyhr looked upon the scout for a moment, the face of disbelief for a second before vanishing into t determined look. Grabbing his equipment and an assortment of fine good that were brought to Girich with him.

"Gustaf, prepare to mount. We must reach the Emperor at once. In addition, we must thank Earl Goriad for the care he has provided for our glorious Emperor."

Stepping out the tent, he called over one of the stablehands that has come along with the group.

"Bring the two fastest horses at once."

The young boy rushed off to where a few horses had been mounted, bringing back to stallions adorned with a rough looking saddle and replaced it with Emyhr's personal saddle. Clambering onto the horse, Emyhr began to set off into the direction that the scout pointed out on the map. Captain Gustaf was struggling to catch up, Emyhr was riding at such a pace it would seem as if he was gliding across the ground.

Finally reaching the location as to where the Emperor, Earl Goriad and Countess Tyra had been camped. Upon reaching the entrance to the camp, he dismounted the horse and approached a guard standing by.

"I am Sir Emyhr Le Craint of Poryatu, Vice-Marshal of Iuvenilis Attingas Parvulorum, Currently overseeing the liberation of Girich back under Lurian control. My scout tells me that the Emperor is recovering here. I wish to seek audiance with Earl Goriad Gabanus and check on the condition of his eminence Emperor Aldrakar Renodin. I bring supplies and goods as tribute, both as a gift and also to resupply your camp."

Aldrakar Renodin

Walking out of the tent Aldrakar was dressed for travel. Little time was afforded to either friend or foreigner or even native Lurians. Horse! The command boomed from his lips and with purpose he took the reigns and hoisted himself into the saddle. Goriad! The silver City, seek me there, there is business I must attend to. Excellent healers by the way. This'll be a nice scar to remember. His mount pawed the ground. Dame Tyra! You, are also required. Do not be late.

With that the Emperor rode off and trailing behind where but a few retainers and officials scrambling to keep up.

Tyra Andrasta Bluelake

At the Emperor's outbursting exit, Tyra turned to Goriad, sharing a dumbfounded look and laughed. "Well, I suppose he got better and we should be going! Want to join me on the road to Askileon? I'm not from Luria, I have really little knowledge of whatever the stars are." she winked "You can tell me. Apparently I'm learning about all the religions of Luria, don't really know why!"

As she readied to leave camp, she noticed Sir Emyhr dumfounded by the Emperor's exit just the same.

Bennet Selemnir

Bennet rode through the city of Askileon. He was surprised to find the colours more vivid. The buildings more immense. It was funny the way knowing death would do that to a man. Even one so practical as him.

Captain Haldred joined him. The man had been by his side since his ascension to Marshal, and he valued his opinion. As well as his friendship, though that was less willingly given, Bennet could admit.

Bennet had woken into a Luria that seemed very different. He was not sure if that was the course of events while he was abed, or if it was him. It did not matter, in the end. He would do what he must to maintain the order he was used to. Whatever the result.

His horse shifted awkwardly. Haldred put his hand on Bennet's shoulder. He was about to admonish the man, but softened. If Haldred could intentionally ignore the blood suddenly leaking through his chest mail, he could ignore the man's impropriety. And even appreciate it. He was not sure he could stand without it, both metaphorically and physically.

Bennet gritted his teeth as the harbour came into view. He dreaded the ferry, but appreciated the time it afforded. He would stand as tall as before when he rejoined the army.

Until then, he leaned into Haldred's hand just a little harder.

4th July

Autumn Evening -- Nid Tek

Ashley Piper

What a naughty bunch these Lurians, so passionate and direct. Good stuff, I will fit nicely here.

5th July

Autumn Evening -- Askileon Purlieus


A young woman emerged from the catacombs of Askileon, and squinted in the bright daylight. Her copper red hair shone in the light, and her stunning green eyes adapted slowly. She clutched a crude mace, and wore bits of cheap leather armor, and was covered in rotten bits of viscera. She made her way to a public fountain, and washed herself and her gear, drawing stares from the gathered public. She felt a firm hand grasp her shoulder and spin her about. She gasped, and withdrew somewhat from the Imperial Guardsman.

"By what right do you carry arms, and stink up the square with this rot? Ye belong back home, working the fields and popping out children." The guard growled. One of his compatriots jeered, and chimed in,

"I'll take her home Sergeant, and show her how it's properly done, that I will!"

The young lady glared at the guard, trying not to show that his grip was hurting her.

"My name is Jonsu, and I am a Royal Ranger, you will..." her sentence was cut short by a cry of pain as the guard slapped her across the face.

"You must be out of yer mind, claiming that name. Perhaps we should show you what we thi... ARG!" The guard hollered as Jonsu brought her knee into his groin. She whirled out of his grasp and raised her mace and buckler. She snarled at the guardsmen, but inside she knew that she was in trouble if she had to handle this alone.

7th July

Autumn Evening -- Santoo

Sofia Nistalia

The infection took her toll on her, every day was filled with a mix of agony and sorrow as she felt her own body decay, praying to the gods for the illness to go away as the healers treated her wounds. Every day she fought against the infection, her skin turning pale and constantly drenched in sweat, covered in nothing more than blood-stained rags, the viscountess fought against the demons within her. As the infection spread, she removed her withered left eye in her delirious state, yelling insults to the gods before falling unconscious.

And then, clarity. After weeks of treatment, the healers gasped at what seemed like a miracle. One morning, they entered Sofia's tent to find her standing, her legs shaking but with enough strenght to stand. Her skin still pale, and drenched in sweat and dried blood stained her garbs.

"Bring me captain Adric and those still loyal. He's been recieving my letters, and I've been idle for too long."

The healers blinked, immediatly rushing to bring the handful of men still left with her. There was a hint of purpose amongst the sick words of Sofia, a spark of determination re-ignited by sheer will to live.

Myr Arnickles Renodin

"My Lord, we should march out. Orders from Marshal, requests from Grand Panetiere, matters of the order..." - captain pleaded.

Myr interrupted him harshly - "is Sir Emyhr recovered?"

"Not to the best of my knowledge." - was the answer that earned stern silence and unflinching resolve. Captain knew then and there that Myr would not allow hordes to capture his wounded friend. Indeed he would stand against monsters, undead, legendary Zuma creatures or Tor himself. Not with his dying breath would he leave without care for a brother in arms.

Nicholas Archival

The day of Nid Tek's Harvest Festival arrives, centred in the lakeside estate of Ambervale. The hustle and bustle of the common peasantry, blended with the region's minor aristocracy and merchant class, makes for a colourful and warming scene. Despite the most recent hardships suffered, the people appear determined to enjoy their celebration without pause nor restraint - in dark times, the light is to be savoured. The town itself is awash with stands, pavilions and all manner of assorted festivities.

Farmers and salesmen from far and wide ply their trade, to showcase and sell the fruits of their labours. Wealthy vineyard owners present a plethora of vintages, each more expensive and renowned than the last. The more industrious of the populace have crafted entertainment for the region's children, with puppet shows and small rides dotted throughout the fields surrounding the settlement.

Within the town centre, a stage has been erected from finely sculpted oak. It appears to have been built for the purposes of any speeches or cultural traditions. Before it is the fairly sizeable square of Ambervale, whereupon several workers and builders continue the final plans for one key portions of the celebrations and festivities - any peasants consulted may reveal that it is for the 'Fertility Dance', which is probably less practical than the terminology suggests.

All in all, it is well in keeping with traditional, rural festivals, with all the trappings one might suspect. However, there is a certain added grandeur and wealth to the occasion, no doubt supplied by the frequent investments of Earl Nicholas' own family. For those lofty aristocrats of Luria in attendance, there are plush and comfortable quarters arranged within the manor that sits atop a nearby hill, surrounded by warm, golden fields. Nicholas himself, however, seems to not be in obvious attendance; word suggests he is moving about the town, ensuring that everything is moving along smoothly - a true administrator, in every scenario.

8th July

Autumn Day -- Nid Tek

Emyhr le Craint

As the morning sun rose over the horizon, the silence that follows in the aftermath of a battle remained. Emyhr, after briefly regaining consiousness, sat up and began to eat a meal that had been prepared for him. He looked out over the tents and rolling green hills of Santoo, thinking to himself before he made any action.

"Gustaf, you nearby?" Emyhr shouted from his tent, trying to stand and move before a burely man rushed in and assisted the knight to his feet.

"Sir Emyhr, it is good to see you are moving but you are still wounded. You must rest." Gustaf looked upon Emyhr's face with concern recalling the memories from the battle the previous day.

"We must leave, these letters you have piled up have called for movement. Whats the status of the men? Can you retrieve them all?"

"Most have scattered inorder to hide, I will send out scouts to retrieve them all then we can move."

"Wait, have you heard news about Sir Myr? While my memory is hazy, I remember seeing the Redmanes on the battlefield."

"They remain in Santoo. A messengers have come by to check on your condition, I believe they stayed to assist and ensure your recovery."

"That Sir Myr is a fine man, I must send a letter to inform him of the situation and so that we can prepare to move back to safety. Make sure the men are ready and I shall begin to write."

Captain Gustaf left the tent while leaving Emyhr sat at the makeshift table that had been set up for bandages and medical supplies. Moving them away, he began to write.


A barded horse came trotting into Ambervale that day, its rider a man of great proportions. It was as if someone had shaved a bear, and put it upon a pony as one of the festivities acts. Clad head-to-toe with arms and armour near indistinguishable from the nobilities own, save the lack of coats of arms, this impressive looking warrior peered about the town square with glee. Haven't been to one of these in years, I wonder if the Tekian lasses hold up to their reputation.

Stabling his horse at a common tavern, the adventurer made his way through the twisting labyrinth of stalls and colourful arrays, soaking up the vigour and enthusiasm displayed by the locals. He was clearly out of place, as the locals could tell when one of their own was foreign, and it was rare for the common folk to leave their own villages often. A mixture of anxiety, curiousity and no doubt fear exuded from the people he passed by, whether or not he was offering them friendly greeting and a smile. This was the lot of an adventurer; suspicion from the common folk, disdain from the noble folk. But Luria was different, it was not always this cut and dry, as could be seen in the festival itself. He was not hounded away, from either parties, nor was he being watched so closely by the guard who kept an eye on proceedings.

His eye was caught by one of the stalls. A glovemaker, with some decent leatherwork on display. Tyler looked down at his own pair, worn and torn from battle and hardship on the roads. He then looked toward his coin purse, heavy with gold that was gathered from ancient catacombs and waterlogged caves in Poryatown. Shrugging, he approached and paid the man to fix his gloves whilst he was here. What's a festival without a bit of shopping? That's when the sight of the Earl puttering about the merrymaking, caught his attention. He lofted a bushy brow at that, and before he could think twice he was stalking up to the man, armed to the teeth and looming like some executioner. Tyler was not overly tall despite his appearance, but the fact he was barrel chested and built for combat made him out to be quite a bit bigger than he was. No doubt the armour helped as well.

"My liege, I would speak with you a moment!"

Nicholas Archival

In an effort to finalise the plans, so that every facet of the Festival was in fine fettle, Nicholas continued to tour the town. Many of the local common-folk beamed as he passed them by, and before long the small retinue that followed in his wake were laden will all manner of gifts; from the ripest fruit to the sturdiest boot, he accepted it all with a warm magnanimity. Even his cloak, coloured a sunburst of Autumnal amber was a prize from his favoured tailor - it certainly paid to maintain close and friendly ties with Ambervale's finest artisans.

As he strode through the streets, often pausing to exchange pleasantries with the attendees of the festival, the Earl fell to a halt, in order to respond to the call that rang near.

"My liege, I would speak with you a moment!"

The man was large, and imposing, and Nicolas was briefly taken aback by such a hardy appearance. Where he wore comfortable leathers and cloths, the man bore his armour with rugged finesse. At first glance, he was stricken by the memories of his family's master-at-arms, Sir Roderick, but that quickly subsided. Without further ado, he turned to properly regard the adventurer - for that was clearly his trade.

"You have your moment, adventurer," he replied, though not unkindly. "What is it you wish?"


"You have your moment, adventurer," he replied, though not unkindly. "What is it you wish?" - Nicholas Archival

Tyler offered a curt bow, hardly practiced for such an occasion. "My name is Tyler," he paused mid introduction, face frozen as if time itself had stopped briefly, unable or unknowing how to continue. Clearing his throat, he smiled weakly; "Tyler of Poryatown, landed freeman and Lurian ranger. At your service. I just wanted to express my heartfelt gratitude for this occasion. It's not often the common folk can have respite from the daily struggle." He sighed, either relieved from his attempt at saving face or at the thought of his countrymen celebrating together in peace and prosperity. It was pretty clear which was the truth though. "I don't want to keep you, since you are clearly busy with the festivities." Retreating a few steps, he repeated the same sloppy etiquette as before. "With your grace, I would take my leave now. Should you require the services of a ranger, I would be honoured to be considered for the post."

Nicholas Archival

Nicholas peered at Tyler with mild amusement, as the peasant began to stumble over his initial introduction. It was not uncommon for commoners to forget their station, before hastily scrambling to prevent any further insult or offence - in truth, it did not bother him particularly, and so to see them panic was an entertaining display. Retreating a few steps, he repeated the same sloppy etiquette as before. "With your grace, I would take my leave now. Should you require the services of a ranger, I would be honoured to be considered for the post." - Tyler

With those parting words, as the adventurer began to make his escape from an awkward situation of his own making, the Earl inclined his head - just enough to show recognition. "Enjoy the Festival, Freeman Tyler. It is for all Lurians, even men who favour the caves and crypts over tilling the fields," he replied. "But do not stray too far; I foresee myself having use of the services of a man like yourself soon."

When the barrel-chested man had finally departed, Nicholas continued throughout the streets, this time headed toward his manor. Perhaps one of the noble guests had arrived; Staedtler or William, maybe. Of the two, he hoped for Staedtler.

9th July

Autumn Day -- Nid Tek

William Fitz Roberts

William arrives at the festival

William rode towards the centre of Ambervale, flanked by his wife, Anne, and his cousin, Marc Antonio. Just behind him were his daughters and Manfred, each on their own pony. His daughters rode well, Manfred not so well. He hoped the boy would grow into it, but somehow he doubted it. A week spent in an orcish cell had really put a perspective on things. William needed time away from campaigns, time to spend with his family. The letter from the Dean had given him this: he would spend the next month conducting a survey of the entirety of the Empire. He had already arranged leave with his marshal and the Imperial Constable and was quite looking forward to it. After that, he had his renovations of the poor quarter to be getting along with. But at this moment, he wanted to enjoy the sun and the festive atmosphere. A week in a dark, damp pit makes one really miss the sun

As he rode up the main road, he spied the Imperial Magistrate talking to a tall warrior-type. He turned back to his wife

‘You go on with the children, I have some business to attend to’

‘Daddy, why couldn’t Drake come with us?’ Helga asked for what felt like the hundredth time.

‘As I have already told you he is earning his keep by helping Leonardo polish the weapons in the armoury, you can play with him later’

Helga looked sad, but rode on with her mother anyway. Marc Antonio stayed, looking down in thought

‘You want me to stay William?’

‘If you wish, Marc’. William got off his horse, but saw that Nicholas had already finished his conversation and apparently hadn’t noticed him. Leading his horse by the reigns he followed the Magistrate as he rounded a corner and called out

‘Imperial Magistrate, a word if I may?’

Myr Arnickles Renodin

"Yearly harvest festival in Nid Tek welcomes thee, traveller!" - if the written word could shout, the signpost on the market square would be yelling at the top of it's lungs. Myr did not mind. A bit of cheerfulness was desperately needed after recent year full of strife and sorrow. It did feel like the entire realm was on edge, about to burst into flames. Would a keg of Tekian ale quench the embers before they combust?

Myr grabbed a tankard from a nearby table as he rode on, not even bothering to dismount. Contrary to most of his peers, who practiced melee combat for practical reasons, he spent the few free moments he had on practice of horse riding and jousting. The finest knights of the epic tales were the ones on horseback - feeling at home in the saddle, wielding a formidable lance, shining bright and stealing longing sighs from maidens.

He flicked a coin for the stand owner and pointed his horse towards the center of the square, where jugglers and fire dancers were giving a show.

Nicholas Archival

As Nicholas continued his stroll through the streets of the town, a voice rang out to stop him in his tracks:

‘Imperial Magistrate, a word if I may?’ - William

He turned, with a quirked brow, to regard the speaker - Sir William. Even from afar, the man's towering build was apparent, as he awaited his approach. The gods had chosen to send him William for company, instead of Staedtler, but no doubt the man had important words to share; and, as ever, Nicholas was curious to hear them.

"Well-met, Sir William," Nicholas replied with a crisp bow of his head. "Of course, let us walk."

With that, he gestured for the two of them to continue walking up and along the street, ever in the direction of the manor. The cacophony of sounds was perhaps most loud here, down in the depths of the town, and so he continued moving toward the manor, where the voices began to recede and they could speak without such impediments.

"I am glad you could make it to the Festival; the Tekians stock great pride in this event. But I'm sure you would rather cut through the pleasantries. What do you wish to speak about?"

Autumn Evening -- Poryatu

Staedtler la Stylo

Staedtler was craning over a tradesman's market counter, signing delivery orders whilst running his fingers through the braided silver chains around his collar. The market was aflutter with business, music, swallow song and the unforgettable sound of coin hitting woodwork at every corner. At his feet sat baskets and boxes from today's trade, crowding his ankles like puppies, yet Staedtler had his head facing down. His eyes were lacing through the literature, his pen-hand looming above the dotted line, whilst the young carpenter coaxed it forth with practiced charm.

The handsome man idly twirled one of his ribboned dreadlocks like a dancer's cane, fanning waves of perfume into the earl's face. He spoke highly of the purchased bedroom set, his words placing more value upon the novelty of exotics over the trustworthiness of the traditional. Apostrophes and unpronounceable phlegm over oak and leather.

Staedtler ground his teeth tighter upon every stretch of the imagination he boasted. His forced, knife-blade smirk weakened evermore, and the keen-eyed carpenter noticed, and persisted further, with even more violently blunt enthusiasm. He had either began lying, or was blissfully unaware that he sounded as such. Judging from his expertise, Staedtler knew he was unlikely to be ignorant in such a close trade.

The man had seen the earl at his table, prey upon the moors, and went straight in for the kill, blades raised. However, he was sending bloodhounds out to hunt the butterflies here, and the wings of Staedtler's interest were caught adrift by other things.

Staedtler kept shooting his eye over his shoulder.

The carpenter noticed this, and leaned in close upon his elbows.

"By all means, my lord, take all the time you need," said the carpenter. "I am as patient as the stars. It's not as if I have my heart set on anything else aside from hosting happy customers today, anyway."

"I understand, my friend," Staedtler said with a stir in his voice. "My life is numbers and nonsense, so I do like to keep my eye on my money."

"Ah, yes. Money." The carpenter chuckled through a closed mouth. "What a beautiful, impatient thing. Can burn holes in pockets, y'see. No matter the coin or the coffer; silver and gold, burlap and silk."

"A bit of merchant's wisdom across the counter? And here I thought I was buying a four-poster," Staedtler joked.

"Indeed. But I see your arms are full already; fruit baskets, jewelry boxes, trinkets and gizmos." He pointed up and down Staedtler's carry. "Hence the need for the delivery, eh? No room for my wisdom or my furniture."

Staedtler pulled the pen from the paper and stood. The carpenter mirrored him in suit, almost mockingly.

"So, i'll be a good host, and give you some of my wisdom that you can fit in your silken pockets." He lowered his voice to a hoarse, crisp groan, as if the gravel beneath Staedtler's feet was talking. "Money can buy many things, but it cannot buy time. Neither can time buy money. Do not be fooled though, they are brothers; two sides of the same coin. For both, in the end, are either spent poorly, or not at all."

Staedtler bit his tongue and held his temper. He watched the strange man, but his smokey eyes were not meeting him. Instead, they were off and over Staedtler's shoulder.

"Now, my fair lord, buy the damn chair, and go and put your arm round your lady's waist." He pushed the paper back toward the earl with fingers splayed out like spider legs. "Spend your currencies well, my fair lord. This is Nid Tek, after all. There are no bad deals. Just make sure you know what you're buying."

10th July

Autumn Morning -- Poryatu

William Fitz Roberts

William and Nicholas

‘I am glad I could make it too, nearly a year spent on campaign with the final week spent in gaol really makes you appreciate the simpler life.’ At this William subconsciously rubbed his shoulder wincing at the pain there. ‘I’m in no rush, Nicholas, I have come to enjoy the festival and spend some much needed time with my daughters’

William smiled as he witnessed the hustle and bustle of the festival before they moved into quieter streets. William was not wearing his usual military garb, which he had worn all campaign. Those who knew William would be aware that he normally came to events such as these in his ceremonial armour and so would be surprised that he had chosen a fine black doublet instead, the only adornments being a chain that denoted him as the Grand Master of the Ordo Volpes. The only items that suggested his military leanings were his schiavona, a highly decorative and ceremonial piece made of aestian steel, and its accompanying parrying dagger. Unbeknownst to anyone, he also had a smaller dagger tucked into his boot and a stiletto concealed in his sleeve. One could never be too careful. He contrasted greatly with his cousin, Marc Antonio, who was wearing an incredibly garish gold cuirass and equally garish scarlet doublet underneath

‘But yes to my purpose. As you may or may not be aware, I have been commissioned to write some military studies for the University, which will take up much of my time. I also have planned some grand renovations to Little Poryatown. In short I have no time to be marching up and down the Empire at the present on military campaigns. I have therefore decided to try my hand at bureaucracy, at least for a time until I am ready to return to active military duties’ William smiled and looked at the Magistrate

‘No doubt I have shocked you with such a decision?’

Nicholas Archival

Nicholas nodded along at the appropriate intervals, as they moved through the cobbled streets. Many of the peasantry gave the two noblemen a wide berth, a natural show of respect for their station, while others offered a warm chorus of "M'lords". In a similar manner to William, the Earl also bore a weapon; a finely-crafted arming sword - although its sheath was adorned with silver, it seemed not to simply be ceremonial.

‘But yes to my purpose. As you may or may not be aware, I have been commissioned to write some military studies for the University, which will take up much of my time. I also have planned some grand renovations to Little Poryatown. In short I have no time to be marching up and down the Empire at the present on military campaigns. I have therefore decided to try my hand at bureaucracy, at least for a time until I am ready to return to active military duties’ William smiled and looked at the Magistrate

‘No doubt I have shocked you with such a decision?’ - William

As the former Imperial Marshal drew to his point, Nicholas found himself peering at the man. While William had ever been a man predisposed to violence, he had also often and fervently expressed interests in matters of academia. It was not too surprising then, he surmised, that he had reached such a decision.

"There is no glory to be found as a bureaucrat," he began, "But you never struck me as a man who seeks glory as a priority. I'll have to disappoint you though, William; I'm not greatly shocked. Slightly, perhaps, but not much more. It is my understanding that you serve as and where you feel most useful. I may often disagree with your conclusions about what constitutes useful, but I wouldn't deny that... and - as it stands - the realm does need more courtiers."

Nicholas released a breathy exhale. He paused a moment, their conversation diverted by a plump, finely-attired merchant toddling in their direction. After the exchange of pleasantries and the promise of visiting the man's stall, the Earl continued.

"I do not blame them, of course, but many act as though they believe glory on the battlefield is the best and only way to serve the empire. As you no doubt agree, it is not. Our cities and regions still need to work; to produce. The Amelioration Brigade could use all the help it can get."

Autumn Evening -- Poryatu

Solomon Greybrook

Family on Distant Shores

As Solomon sat on horseback travelling to Nid Tek, many wondrous and unnerving situations had occurred since the previous month. From defending the IAP's expedition into the South Divide, to releasing the Greybrook Guard back into their traditional role and his ascension to lord of Dantooine, there was a lot of transition. Arguably, the worst part of the last few weeks was the captain of The Exalted Arbalests personality. It was no secret that Captain Semund did not get along with him initially. A man of ego vs a man of selflessness. Solomon firmly believed that the Captain of the Greybrook Guard was a man that one could not easily emulate - the Captain Semund only cemented his view.

However, this had begun to change, much like the seasons. While Solomon was impressed with the Arbalests as a whole, they still needed to improve. They slowly becoming a tighter knit unit - which was seen by the friendly banter when resting in camp. There was no doubt about the Arbalest's ability - their capability to support IAP armies was far superior to the revised Greybrook Guard. Nevertheless, something inside Solomon missed the comradely that came from fighting shoulder to shoulder. At first, the elite nature of his unit almost unnerved him. The size too was strange to Solomon. Used to large groups of men, the change of atmosphere had led Solomon to almost master the name of every man and woman's voice in his unit upon it's tone. This comradely nature of this smaller unit made each loss even harder for the companions to bear at points. Additionally, when front lines broke, the Arbalests were ranged troops after all.

Rather melancholy about the whole affair, the townsland came into view. Another fight was yet to come before the ferry to Giask. Another few days before his summon to the family townhouse in the city.

An hour away from the townsland, a messenger came to his scribe and presented to him a short letter from a family member from a distant shore - Ferdinand. A small smirk came to his face as he read the letter. The odd joke and short pieces of information that played between the lines showed that he was well but on campaign for the majority of the time.

Much like himself.

Solomon ordered one of his retinue to find a spare Arbalest and for it to be sent to Ferdinand at once. How long it may take to reach Ferdinand may be unknown. Regardless, the jibes that the two sent each-other were often looked back in fondness. He may find it amusing that Solomon had to "re-master" the Arbalest again.

Maybe one day they may unite again.

But first, the battle has was to take place once the sun had vanished beyond the horizon.

William Fitz Roberts

William listened to Nicholas carefully, nodding at his words

‘Those who seek personal glory do not, and cannot, ever truly serve the Empire. Anyone who thinks glory is their primary goals in life are not only foolish, but dangerous for they can put their fellow Lurians at risk by foolishly rushing ahead or insisting on one “glorious” charge. If I had my way, such nobles would be sent back home’ He sighed, ‘In any case, we all must serve however we are able and I am willing to learn new ways of doing so’

William paused to purchase an apple from a nearby fruit seller. The peasant tried to give it to him for free, but William insisted on paying three times its real worth. He bit into it before continuing

‘I always wonder why people think that glory can be found on the battlefield. Anywhere with that much sh*t cannot be a place of glory. Interesting how the minstrels and poets and historians always forget to mention the sh*t. I guess for some it is the only way we can get them to go to war. Ah well, nothing to be done about that, there will always be vain-glorious idiots prancing about on their ponies pretending that they still don’t have spots’

He finished his apple and tossed it into a nearby pig pen. ‘Anyway, rant over. I thought to start my work in Poryatown, before moving onto Dantooine. Would that serve?’

Nether Leroux


The moons gentle rays of silver light lit the way for Nether and his horse, the touch of cold winds caressed his cheeks as they reached the top of the slope and stopped to watch the world for a brief moment before moving down towards Askileon, his first stop on his journey to Lady Issabella Pavus. He walked alongside his horse Marcus, an unimportant breed from a now dead realm known as Oligarch a city of nobles that dared defy and survive just because they could although sometimes Nether thought the whole situation had been a fools errand, the nobles and resources could've been used elsewhere but then again dreams and ideals are far more relevant than reason.

Together upon arrival to Dwilight they settled in Westfold, a realm of warriors until the realm was destroyed and Nether moved to Westgard. From there he 'borrowed' the gold of the rogue regions, now borrowed might seem like a polite way of saying stole but Nether was and always had been taught good manners so in order to avoid upsetting others he always said he borrowed things. After such, he was hired to work in Astrum as a knight and finally in Swordfell to help in the realms restoration.

"Come Marcus, we'll arrive at Askileon shortly...I'll take an estate and move closer to the heart of the Empire of Luria Nova..." he paused in his footstep, lost in thought. Marcus pulled at the reign desiring to keep going. "Oh..sorry...this time I come to a place I know little of..I do it of my own accord..odd how when you choose your own path it becomes that much more scarier...but then again...I never was one to worry about the future...nor care for the past...just the now."

But as all stories go, the journey never ends and Nether's story was simply turning to the next chapter.

Myr Arnickles Renodin

"How splendid!" - Myr thought - "The entire circus is here. Firedancers, jugglers, gymnasts... bearded women?!" - he rode on - "Great Samum! They even brought a giant... wait a second, why is he allowed to casually chat up the Imperial Magistrate? And why is he dressed so... ahh, could it be?!"

Myr rode on, slowly taking off his gauntlet.

11th July

Autumn Day -- Poryatu

Emyhr le Craint

Arrival at Harvest Festitval

Emyhr's journey back to Nid Tek had been a tough journey, Emyhr had not yet fully recovered from his injury so instead of his usual attendant, he had brought one of his personal healers to assist him in his recovery. Luckily, he was a few hours ride from his home in Poryatu so did not have to worry too much about where he was to stay.

Arriving at the festival grounds, what first hit Emyhr was the smell. The air was filled with the aroma of the different food stalls and festival shops. Walking through the 'Entrance' Emyhr could feel the stares of the people around him, a mix of admiration and fear as many had heard about his escapades both as a noble and a hero.

As they passed by the different stalls, in the distance he could see the former Imperial Marshal and the current Imperial magistrate having a in depth conversation. Knowing that Emyhr would get a chance later in the festival to meet and thank Earl Nicholas, he offered the both of them a polite nod and wave daring not to interrupt them both.

After walking for a while, Emyhr stumbles slightly but the attending healer caught him before he could fall. Finding a place to sit with a bit of privacy, he checked over his injury on his leg. The wound had opened once again, wiping away any blood the attendant replaced the bandage that was wrapped around his leg. Looking over the wound, the image of the monster slash that nearly took off his leg filled his mind again.

Emyhr called over to a local bar maid to bring over a strong drink, handing her a couple silver pieces. She returned shortly bringing a bottle of some finer local ale and a mug. Emyhr poured it into the mug, taking a long sip to wash away the pain from his leg. After a while, Emyhr returned to comfort but continued to rest enjoying the autumn sun watching the passersby at the festival.

Myr Arnickles Renodin

"Imperial Magistrate!" - Myr shouted now only several feet away from Nicholas and William, he was now certain that the giant was former Imperial Marshal. So the rumours were true - he thought. Myr seldomly met people taller than himself but never by such a margin.

"Long time no see my friend. I absolutely love the festival, it is precisely what we need to lift the spirits. There has been a lot of strife and uncertainty lately." - Myr outstreched his naked hand in greeting to Nicholas, not acknowledging the elephant in the room.

Nicholas Archival

Nicholas, William & Myr

‘I always wonder why people think that glory can be found on the battlefield. Anywhere with that much sh*t cannot be a place of glory. Interesting how the minstrels and poets and historians always forget to mention the sh*t. I guess for some it is the only way we can get them to go to war. Ah well, nothing to be done about that, there will always be vain-glorious idiots prancing about on their ponies pretending that they still don’t have spots’ - William

"Without bardic tales of heroism we'd scarcely have a single man up and willing to fight," Nicholas responded to William voicing his agreement. "For that reason I do not begrudge them. I felt much the same way, until my rush to prove myself left too many good men injured - or worse."

‘Anyway, rant over. I thought to start my work in Poryatown, before moving onto Dantooine. Would that serve?’ - William

With a thoughtful hum, the Earl gave momentary thought to William's words, before nodding once in assent. "Poryatown is a good place for you to start, and Dantooine is certainly in need--" he began, before a new voice caught his sentence at the midway point.

"Imperial Magistrate!"

"Long time no see my friend. I absolutely love the festival, it is precisely what we need to lift the spirits. There has been a lot of strife and uncertainty lately." - Myr

After a flash of confusion at the abrupt entrance of the man, recognition bloomed within him and Nicholas reached out to firmly grasp Myr's outstretched hand. Although he realised the discomfort of the exact two worst people to be sharing a conversation with simultaneously, it was still warming to see the younger man.

"Sir Myr, I had been hoping to see you here!" he beamed, pleased. "Let's not stand on too much ceremony; Nicholas will do. I am glad it is to your enjoyment - the people of Nid Tek do not throw themselves into anything halfheartedly, I've found. And with all the strife, as you say, events like these are a bold proclamation that we will not be cowed by it."

With the new arrival to form this strangest of trios, Nicholas paused his stride to properly regard both. The raucous noise of the festival was dimmed slightly now, although many attendees and merchants alike continued to pass them by - many already stumbling jovially from the many beverages on offer.

Myr Arnickles Renodin

"Sir Myr, I had been hoping to see you here! Let's not stand on too much ceremony; Nicholas will do. I am glad it is to your enjoyment - the people of Nid Tek do not throw themselves into anything halfheartedly, I've found. And with all the strife, as you say, events like these are a bold proclamation that we will not be cowed by it."

Myr slid his gauntlet back on as soon as Imperial Marshal released his hand.

"Good Nicholas, of course we will not be cowed! Lions do not get cowed" - he said clapping his shoulderguard and finished with a wink - "we leave it to lesser animals."

Myr clenched the reins of his steed but another sentence froze in air unsaid as he struggled to find proper words. The sound of the celebration grew heavier as it made the silence of the gathered trio more and more obvious. It lasted for merely minutes but felt like hours to Myr, until he finally bursted - "Good Nicholas. I would like nothing more than to stay in this ambivalent company and continue our discussion but I must find Sir Emyhr, he was gravely wounded last time I saw him and I heard he also intended to attend the festival. Have you seen him by any chance?"

Myr bowed to Nicholas and pulling on the reins of his steed he walked away ushering his horse - "come Dauntless, we will show Emyhr the trick with a bucket and a horseshoe, he will love it" - but before he could disappear from view he turned around and looked William in the eye throwing - "Sir William, I hope to meet you in a more appropriate situation, there is one matter I would wish to discuss."

12th July

Autumn Day -- Dantooine

Nicholas Archival

"Good Nicholas. I would like nothing more than to stay in this ambivalent company and continue our discussion but I must find Sir Emyhr, he was gravely wounded last time I saw him and I heard he also intended to attend the festival. Have you seen him by any chance?" - Myr

Nicholas considered for a moment, before shaking his head. "One of my stewards informed me that Sir Emhyr has arrived for the festival, but I've not come across him myself yet. No doubt he's hereabouts somewhere; if I see him before you, I'll let him know of your search."

After Myr gave his farewells and departed, the Earl turned momentarily to William. "I assume this goes without saying, but I'll be hoping there's no hostility between the two of you here," he said, gesturing to the departing knight, in reference to his parting words. "Though I suppose it may add to the theatrics of the day."

With that, Nicholas gave a brief, amused smile, before straightening up. "But for now; Earth's Hall could certainly use another courtier, and should you choose that path, I would lend you any advice I can. Until then, though, I'd best return to the manor - no doubt there's some more paperwork I need to grant my seal."

Autumn Evening -- Dantooine

Luarin Bowker

Long time passed before she could meet her granddaughter and this meeting made her stay away from her duties as Queen, just enjoying the girl - now a beautiful woman - that she never thought she could hold in her arms. She could'nt have Sophia, now all she wanted was to enjoy every moment with Irina and to spoil her as her rightfull heir. irina though, still wanted adventures and it took no long for her to start travelling again.

One day Luarin was talking to Captain Jonas about the unit, when a letter from Lord Staedtler la Stylo was given to her by a boy.

Luarin Bowker, Duchess of Sun Hall, Margravine of Shinnen

My queen, Your Highness, I write to you upon this sun-bleached evening to ask you of something.

I am with your granddaughter, Irina, presently within the region of Nid Tek. We are in attendance of the Nid Tekkian harvest festival hosted by Imperial Magistrate Nicholas and are thoroughly enjoying eachother's company despite the on and off weather. Her and I met a few weeks back within Giask. Since then, I have hosted her within Shinnen Purlieus and happily accepted her accompaniment when I traveled through to Thar Gortauth for the reparation efforts.

Despite the world's best efforts to make our time together an insufferable experience, we have proven to be quite inseparable. I'm certain it will delight you to hear that she is a woman like no other, and my feelings for her are proving stronger through everything we endure.

Therefore, without a shadow of a doubt upon my heart, I would like to ask your permission to marry Irina.

With reason, Staedtler la Stylo

Earl of Shinnen Purlieus

"Irina is here?" the Queen screamed in joy. "I need to meet her", she said to her maid. "Go and make sure the fastest horse is prepared for me." Even old, Luarin still wanted to be in a horse instead of a coach.

Earl Staedtler la Stylo I am coming to meet you and Irina and will answer your letter personally."

For Luria and Sun Hall

Luarin Bowker

The letter was sent and Luarin follow it as faster as she could. She arrived at Shinnen Purileus but there was no one there and now she had orders to attack Thar Gortauth where she could die, before hugging her girl again.

My beloved Irina, I am going for a tough battle and could not leave without sending you this letter. Earl Stedtler told me you both are in love, and asked permission to marry you. I believe he already told you about his inttentions and I need to say he seems to be a good man, loyal and trustfull. If that is your wish, my darling, you have my permission and my blessing. I only hope to survive this battle to see you again. Fortunatelly, Shinnen Purileus is so close that I will be able to meet you frequently and perhaps, live enough to see my great-grandchildren. You might show this letter to Earl Staedtler if that is your wish. Be happy my dear girl.

With all my love.

Your grandma, Luarin.

She asked a maid to send the letter before leading her unit to the battlefield. A huge horde of abominations was waiting for her...

Staedtler la Stylo

The market square was humming with life; a hive of commerce which flared out through every street, criss-crossing over itself as people walked this way and that, yet never without direction or purpose. It was like some great, flawless piece of organic clockwork, working away the seconds of the day with a most definitely human charm. Staedtler was with a young woman, shoulder to shoulder, bouncing from stall to stall as interests and curiosities faltered just as quickly as the arose. Caged, hundred-colour cockatiels surrounding a pair of pipe-smoking sisters in Irvington garb; street performers building pyramids, three layers tall, out of nothing but manpower, a firm grip, and mutual trust; a man selling fireworks from his coat pockets - 'whizzers, spin-pops, sky-screamers, all the colours of the rainbow and beyond!'

This was a hellscape for someone with money to burn, and Staedtler was practically aflame with expenses.

The pair were childishly picking through the compartments of a silver and birchwood herb box as they strode the centre of the market street. Irina tasted a fingertip of some overseas flavour, paused to ponder, and started to gag and cough, face flushing red as Staedtler broke down into laughter. Once he had regained himself with a halfway apology and Irina had reset her breathing, she retaliated with a pinch of the turmeric dust into his grimacing face. They both broke into laughter once more, Staedtler's silver stained orange, and Irina's dark hair painted in patches of red.

Staedtler was handkerchiefing the bitter smelling soup spice from his tear-strained eyes when he caught a glimpse of his host, Earl Nicholas, standing not more than a few steps away. He caught his feet against the cobbles and stopped. Irina, with her eyes set upon the pastry stand of a flour-faced baker, almost tripped from the sudden stop.

"Ah, there he is!" Staedtler said with a point, stooping low to his side so Irina could follow his sight. "Do you see him?"

"Who is it?" she called aloud, the roar of a pantomime in her voice. She began jumping on the spot. "Is it a giant? A giraffe? A mountain, perhaps? Damn, if only I weren't too small to see anything for all these crowds!" She pokes the lanky man in his ribs and snorts a laugh. "Of course I see him, you idiot. Who is he?"

"It's my friend Earl Nicholas, the man of the hour himself - our host for week, and someone I very much trust, and would like to talk to." Staedtler saw who Nicholas was talking with and slouched a slight, his hand drooping to his knee. He growled his words through his teeth, his face looking like it had endured a painfully bad joke. "Oh, but he has company."

"Too right he does." Irina pushed Staedtler forward, palm to his lower back. "Come on. Hurry-hurry-hurry! You want to talk to him, then let's go talk to him. We haven't got much time after today!"

"I would. But it'd be awful rude to interrupt them, don't you think?" Staedtler mockingly put his hand to his chin.

"Hmmm." Irina stopped her pushing and mirrored him, also posing thoughtfully. "Yes. Yes it would be. Quite rude indeed."

The two stood there, hands to chins, scratching their invisible beards and twirling unseen moustaches, watching Nicholas and his conversation with keen interest.

"Come on," Staedtler said, shutting the spice box and putting his hand to Irina's waist. "Let's go and be rude."

Irina had a smirk shining across her face and hugged close to Staedtler's arm. Together, the two went toward Nicholas at a brisk pace, walking at eachother's side. It would almost be synchronised if it were not for Staedtler purposefully stretching his legs to their full reach with every step, forcing Irina to interpose her normal gait with the occasional flurry of quick steps, much to his amusement.

"Gentlemen, Earl Nicholas," Staedtler said with a smile as he stepped into the conversation. "Sorry to be terribly rude -"

"- Dreadfully rude," Irina agreed as she shook her head.

"But we haven't much time, and I did wish to speak with you, my friend, if that is alright." Staedtler offered a paper-lined basket to the centre of the discussion. "Candied apricot?"

Nicholas Archival

"Gentlemen, Earl Nicholas," Staedtler said with a smile as he stepped into the conversation. "Sorry to be terribly rude -"

"- Dreadfully rude," Irina agreed as she shook her head.

"But we haven't much time, and I did wish to speak with you, my friend, if that is alright." Staedtler offered a paper-lined basket to the centre of the discussion. "Candied apricot?"

Staedtler chose an auspicious time to arrive at the conversation between Nicholas and William, as it had drawn to its fitting conclusion. Nicholas, having begun to make his departure was brought to a standstill once again; for the third time in rapid succession, he was approached by another member of Luria's gilded aristocracy. This time, however, the circumstances were rather more surprising; rather than arrive alone, his attention was quickly grasped by woman to Staedtler's side. It was with no subtlety that they were joined together, and surreptitiously the Magistrate glanced between them.

"Staedtler," he exclaimed. "I had been wondering if you'd arrived yet. The administrative duties of the host of this juggernaut demands I attend to some official business soon, but I've time to speak. And perhaps you will introduce me to your companion."

With a sweep of his arm, he gestured for Staedtler to lead the way - should he wish to speak elsewhere - and gave his farewells to William by way an inclination of his head.

"Go and enjoy yourself with your family, William; any more talk of business can wait for now," he announced to the once-time marshal, with the genuine warmth of a man enjoying respite from his usual formalities... and then he spied the apricots.

"I don't mind if I do," he decided, clutching one and, with a quirked brow, awaited the topic of Staedtler's choice.

William Fitz Roberts

William rolled his eyes as the prancing idiot approached and did so as he kept speaking. He waited patiently as the fool continued to speak, and let out a sigh of relief as Myr left.

‘Dauntless is a silly name’ William muttered under his breath, before calling out ‘I’m staying at the Nun and the Ass, you can meet me there later.’ William turned back to Nicholas. ‘Why does this town have a tavern called the Nun and the Ass by the way? Anyway I promise that I won’t break him today, I’m not really in the mood to fight school boys. I thank you for your offer of assistance’

William nodded at Staedtler as he appeared at their side and bowed his head at Nicholas’ words

‘You’re quite right, I best go and make sure that Giesla hasn’t opened a bull pen… again’ As William set off, Marc Antonio stayed for a brief moment, staring at Staedtler’s companion

‘My lady, you are exquisite. Please tell me that you are this man’s cousin and not his betrothed?’

Staedtler la Stylo

"I don't mind if I do," he decided, clutching one and, with a quirked brow, awaited the topic of Staedtler's choice.

"Well, my friend, the conversation in question is not at all as 'serious' as battlefield antics or imperial no-shows." Staedtler bounced the sugared contents about for Nicholas to pick from. Once Nicholas had chosen, Irina leaned in for the apricots, only for Staedtler to hold the basket out of her reach. "No, this is a much more pleasant thing. For everyone involved. Finally."

Staedtler held his expressions still and focused toward Nicholas, save for a sideways smile as Irina went to jump a little in desperation before suddenly remembering that she was amongst nobility. She padded down the front of her dress and calmed herself before her host.

"This weird, little creature," Staedtler said, bringing the basket finally to Irina's height, who snatched an apricot without a second thought, "Is Irina, granddaughter of Luarin Bowker, Queen of Sun Hall."

Staedtler motioned between Nicholas and Irina for the customary greeting of two noble strangers. Irina was halfway through devouring a particularly tough apricot, and rushed to gulp down the treat in a flustered panic. She choked a little, patted a fist against the flat of her chest, and took a breath before extending out a well-practiced and courteous hand, the sapphire head of an engagement ring facing upward.

"Pleasure," she said to Nicholas, hoarsely hiding an emerging cough.

"She's proven to be quite the entertaining problem to have around." Staedtler put the basket to the ground and dusted hands upon the lapels of his necklaced jacket. "Knocking things over. Pushing my stuff about. She's a bit like a cat."

"Keep talking like that, mister, and I'll take it to heart out of spite. Start leaving footprints on your paperwork. Leaving dead animals on your bed sheets."

"... and I would not have it any other way." Staedtler laughed as he hugged Irina's shoulder. "Therefore, I'm sure it'd be no surprise to know, we've decided to get married."

"And ..." Irina looked up to Staedtler, motioning that there was something else.

Staedtler looked a little lost.

Rolling her eyes back round to face Nicholas, and laughing to herself at the silliness of things, Irina spoke up for her Staedtler. "He was wondering," she spoke slowly, each word designed to rejig Staedtler's memory of a discussion not two hours back, all accentuated with hand gestures and exaggerated faces. "Since you've been quite the friend to our dear, old-boy Staedtler, if you would like to attend the ceremony. If there is to be one, of course."

"Yes, what she said," Staedtler chuckled to himself. "Sorry, a lot is going on my head right now. Can't keep track of everything. Fireworks, all of it!" He mimed an explosion in the air beside his wide-eyed grimace, slyly mouthing a great 'kaboom'.

Staedtler la Stylo

"My lady, you are exquisite. Please tell me that you are this man’s cousin and not his betrothed?"

Irina leaned away from the conversation, the offered basket of treats, and Staedtler's side, toward the leering Marc Antonio.

"Tsk, sadly so, I am afraid." She prodded the gem-headed ring around her finger. "I know. Absolute disaster."

Her attention went from the basket and then back to Sir William's lingering entourage. She saw the departing giant of a knight stomping away and smiled.

"So, what would that make you and Sir William? Cousins, or ...? Your name doesn't happen to be Anne, does it?"

Nicholas had made his pick of the basket, and Irina's focus was stolen aside once more.

Nicholas Archival

The increasing presence of a smile decorated Nicholas' expression as he observed the interaction between man and woman, soon to be husband and wife. As her hand was proffered, he completed the gesture by lightly holding it with his own, and leaned down to brush his lips against her hand. Thereafter he returned to his full height, dwelling somewhere in the middle-ground between Staedtler's gangling frame and Irina's own form.

"It is quite the unexpected honour, to have even Queen Luarin's own kin here today. Allow me the civility of properly introducing myself - I am Earl Nicholas of Nid Tek, and Imperial Magistrate of Luria Nova," he spoke, before allowing the comfortable, and more natural, warmth to return to his demeanour.

Thereafter, once again, the flow of conversation was dictated by the back-and-forth between the lord and his lady. Nicholas could not bring himself to mind nor begrudge them; behind the drudgery of daily bureaucracy, he was still an idealist, and theirs seemed an idyllic match.

Rolling her eyes back round to face Nicholas, and laughing to herself at the silliness of things, Irina spoke up for her Staedtler. "He was wondering," she spoke slowly, each word designed to rejig Staedtler's memory of a discussion not two hours back, all accentuated with hand gestures and exaggerated faces. "Since you've been quite the friend to our dear, old-boy Staedtler, if you would like to attend the ceremony. If there is to be one, of course."

At the announcement, he raised both brows - ostensibly in surprise, though the shock had already abated after their initial arrival together. Then, with an affable courtesy, he clapped his hands together.

"Congratulations to you both. I would be most honoured to be in attendance," he answered, with the seriousness the situation deserved... before his lips formed the shape of a lopsided smirk. "Although given your prestigious positions and titles, it would be probably be a grave insult if I didn't receive an invite."

Then, as William departed and his attendant remained to pass comment, the Earl fell silent, observing the man quietly and intently.

William Fitz Roberts

Marc Antonio’s temper was immediately flared. ‘Why you arrogant little slut’ He growled, advancing on her, ‘Maybe I should carve up that pretty face of yours and then we shall see who wants to marry you then?’

Before anyone could react Marc Antonio had been knocked to the floor by a giant mass of muscle and bone. No one had seen William move, all had thought he had left, but he was there in an instant, standing over his cousin, a boot on his golden breastplate

‘Go home’

‘But cousin, she..’

‘Go home’ William’s normally grey eyes appeared to flash red, such was his fury. ‘If you ever do what you just did again you will be cast from this family, do you understand me?’

‘Yes William’ Marc Antonio said meekly, but flashed an evil glance towards Irina

‘Yes what? I am the head of this family. Yes what?’

‘Yes lord.’

William slowly lifted his boot off of his cousin. ‘Get off with you, now, before I really do disown you’

As Marc Antonio scurried away, William turned back to the group he had only recently left

‘That should not have happened, please forgive me my lords for the stupidity and arrogance of my cousin. My lady, are you alright? Know that if he had hurt you, family or not he would be hanging from the nearest tree’ William let out a sound of utter frustration. ‘God’s, this family! It’s going to kill me before I’m thirty, it’s like trying to herd wolves with a limp twig!’ At this last William went on one knee. ‘My lady, as some small way of trying to make up for my cousin’s actions, I place myself in your debt. If at any time you need my help, just send a letter and I will move the very mountains of the Divides to achieve what you ask’

Staedtler la Stylo

William went on one knee. ‘My lady, as some small way of trying to make up for my cousin’s actions, I place myself in your debt. If at any time you need my help, just send a letter and I will move the very mountains of the Divides to achieve what you ask’

"Just," Irina said, wiping her face of spittle. "Just leave."

Staedtler stepped past Irina and up to William, shadowed beneath the haunting frame of the Fitz Roberts alpha.

"Get that creature out of my sight," he said to the giant, slowly, quietly, without even looking him in the eyes. "I will not forget this."

Staedtler returned to Irina's side. He clutched her in his arms and pushed her head to his chest.

"I'm sorry. I ... didn't expect that to ..."

Staedtler held her even tighter; even closer. "Noone did," he lied.

"You know," she muffled through Staedtler's sleeve, "if he had taken another step forward ..." she paused for a second, and swallowed her breath. "I would've headbutted his teeth down his throat."

"I know."

"It would've been like pushing pennies into a wet purse."

Staedtler laughed with Irina, a little weaker than before perhaps, and kissed her hair. He turned to Nicholas. Silently, he surrendered an ailing smile with his host. It was one stained with absolute disbelief, yet showed not a hint of surprise.

"I think it wise for us to leave, soon," he said, voice lowering. "I have a Queen, and future Grandmother, to meet - given she survives the skirmish in Sun Hall. But you've seen the Bowker family." He rubs Irina's shoulder. "They certainly aren't cut from weak clay. She'll survive."

He laced his fingers within Irina's. She was watching the departing Sir William.

"But, perhaps, a warm meal first, Nicholas?" Staedtler put a hand onto his friend's shoulder.

"We'd hate to leave you with on this," Irina wormed her head free of Steadtler's forearm. "You've been a delightful host for us all, too - wild animals notwithstanding." She glared down her nose to the heaving backs of the Fitz Roberts retinue as they trudged away into the parting sea of crowding peoples, like loose boulders tumbling through tall grasses. As they turned a corner and were out of her sight, she returned to Nicholas and shared a warm smile. "You are a good man, Earl Nicholas."

Nicholas Archival

Throughout the interaction between the William, Marc, Staedtler and Irina, the Magistrate was oddly silent. There was a steeliness to his gaze that was not often present, and though he made little exertion to show it, there was no doubt that the man was displeased. William is not the true animal of that household, he realised, with the mildest jolt of surprise.

Once Staedtler had adroitly brought calm back to his bride-to-be, Nicholas' demeanour relaxed once again; a sour experience would not spoil what remained. It helped that he did not doubt William's own fury - perhaps not for the sake of Irina, but for the embarrassment that had befallen him in front of so many prying eyes. A man shamed was rarely tranquil.

He noticed, a moment after, that a small crowd had formed to watch the spectacle. However, now that the matter had been resolved, they began to drift away once again; any stragglers were soon scurrying by the stare of their lord.

"We'd hate to leave you with on this," Irina wormed her head free of Steadtler's forearm. "You've been a delightful host for us all, too - wild animals notwithstanding." She glared down her nose to the heaving backs of the Fitz Roberts retinue as they trudged away into the parting sea of crowding peoples, like loose boulders tumbling through tall grasses. As they turned a corner and were out of her sight, she returned to Nicholas and shared a warm smile. "You are a good man, Earl Nicholas."

"It's what I endeavour to be," he answered, with his smile making its gradual return. "I would offer to act in my official capacity... but I suspect the man is going to be properly punished in his own time. But let us not pay the matter any further heed; there are matters far more worthy of consideration."

With that, he signalled to the two of them as one. "Though I wouldn't want to keep you long, you are both to remain until we have shared a drink and toasted to the joy of your union," Nicholas announced aloud, his voice amiable but brooking no argument. "I'm told my favourite vintner has arrived earlier today - let us pay him a visit."

Upon saying this, he waved a hand to beckon them to follow his lead as he shifted into a sure-footed stride - Marius hosted his vintages in Ambervale at his store, and it was nearby. As he walked, it became apparent the affection he shared with his people - it was here, in the home of his making, that he found himself in his element. Lordship, more than his role in the Imperial Government, was what called to him innately, it was clear to observe.

13th July

Autumn Day -- Poryatu

Tohrm Elrath

Tohrm awoke to a drop of water on his face. It took a second to accustom himself with his surroundings. Not quite the comfortable, warm room he was used to in his previous manor. In fact, the abandoned hut was far from a manor. Still, it served its purpose, being on the construction site of the monastery.

He could already begin to hear the rest of the workers stir.

As he clothed himself and stepped out to be welcomed by a view of overgrown fields and rickety hovels. It was far from ideal, but... so were many things these days. Tohrm consoled himself in the knowledge that his work here was vital. This first temple would be a mark of his faiths rebirth, as well as a shining beacon on the borders of the Empire, bringing Civilization to the very fringes of their lands.

After speaking with the foreman for a short time, Tohrm began to make his way to his horse. Despite having left his retinue behind, his unruly band of mischevious squires still accompanied him. After mustering the boys to action, he mounted his steed and set his heel to its flank.

Tohrm's road would lead him south, away from the borders of Dantooine to the hall of his new lord, Earl Greybrook. Times were troubling and he had much on his mind, and he supposed... so would the young Earl.

Emyhr le Craint

As the sun rose on another day of the Nid Tekkian harvest festival, Emyhr was awoken by the news that his captain had successfully made it back to the north after his brief visit to Giask. Filled with more energy and a feeling of relief hearing this news, he began to dress himself, this time putting on a comfortable grey doublet with black velvet trim accompanied with simple black hose. Finishing it off with a black velvet gown and hood in an effort to fight off the fall breeze.

Taking his horse and riding back to Nid Tek, the journey was shorter and more comfortable now the pain in his leg was calming down. Either that or he had gotten use to the pain by now. Having made it in by early afternoon, this next day of festivities was well underway.

Leaving his horse within the comfort of a local stable, Emyhr began to wander and enjoy the festival. Heading over to one of the food stalls that had been set up, Emyhr bought some freshly baked bread and some local cheeses and continued to walk the festival. Partially searching the crowd in a hope to find Earl Nicholas. Before Emyhr left previously, he had caught sight of Earl Nicholas talking to Earl Staedtler and a mysterious woman, he would be lying if this hadnt had piqued his interest.

Continuing further through, passing the tavern area that Emyhr had previously sat at, it felt nice that this time he was making it further into the festival. After walking for a while, Emyhr began to notice that he had seemed to catch the eyes of other attendants of the festival. When he wasnt concentrating, he collided with a small girl. The girl fell to the ground and began to cry, she was seemingly visibly panicked. Emyhr got down to her height and helped her to her feet.

"Is everything alright? What are you doing by yourself?"

Fighting away the tears, sniffling, "I lost my mummy, I dont know where she is.."

"Well how about I help you find her? Im sure if we both look we will find her in no time."

The small child nodded and held out her hands. Emyhr proceeded to lift the girl up and place her on his shoulders. He now noticed that she was carrying a small stuffed bear, looking around he found a stall that was selling ribbons.

"How about we get a new ribbon for your bear and show that to your mum when we find her?"

Again she didnt speak but proceeded to nod while wiping away the tears. Going over to the stall, Emyhr bought a shiny red ribbon and attached it to the bear, which put a smile on the face of the child. Afterwards, they began to walk around the festival, Emyhr pointing out the sights of the festival to the child while searching for her mother.

After a short while, a woman began to rush over to Emyhr, also crying. Seeing this, the child began to reach out to her mother, Emyhr took the child off his shoulders and let the child run to the woman. Emyhr followed shortly, approaching the two, Emyhr offered a polite greeting. The woman seeing who had helped them out, began to stand and bow for the knight, Emyhr however stopped her to let her continue the reunion with her child. After a brief interaction, Emyhr left the two of them to enjoy the rest of the festival. Before departing, the child grabbed hold of the back of his gown, Emyhr turned around to see that the child was offering the old ribbon from her bear. Emyhr smiled, took the ribbon and tied is around one of his buttons of his doublet. Ruffling the hair of the child, Emyhr turned around and continued to explore the rest of the festival.

Autumn Evening -- Poryatu

Raine Gildre

A year ago, Darfix...

Raine watched from the shadows of a second story window as a patrol of monsters marched along the street below. Her black cape hung loosely from her shoulders in stillness as she stood frozen, not making a sound.

She breathed once the patrol had passed. What had she gotten herself into?

Break into a few rural tax offices, and you think you have the stuff to infiltrate Darfix? she chided herself silently. The beam of light still shined towards the heavens from the portal stones at the center of the city. Monsters had come through, from lands unknown, and wandered the city now, forming bands.

Quickly, she crossed the threshold of the window and dropped to the ground below. Hugging the buildings and the shadows they provided, she worked her way further into the city. She paused as several monstrous beasts rounded a corner ahead of her.

They snarled and snapped at each other. Of the three, two turned on the third, hacking at it with vicious looking swords. They left a mess of gore on the street when they carried on. Raine paled at the sight of the misshapen body, but she carried on.

After carefully working her way from street to street, she reached her destination: the city center. The Portal remained open, a glaring doorway of light. She swallowed a lump in her throat and watched. There were no monsters in the vicinity currently, but Raine had no way of knowing what was on the other side of the portal, or if some were going to come through...

The Dark World

Raine breathed once. Twice. A third time.

Now or never... she thought. Taking one last glance around to ensure she was alone, she bolted off sprinting across the open ground. Sweat from heat and nerves beaded on her brow as each step took her closer to the glow of light. Her heartbeat smashed in her ears like thunder. Not allowing herself a second thought, she charged into the Portal.

She blinked as the world went dark. She could make out the shape of a cropping of rocks, and she rolled to the side to take cover behind them while her eyes adjusted from the blinding light to the darkness.

As her vision cleared, she gazed first at the deep violet sky, covered in rolling black clouds crashing with lightning and thunder. Piercing up into the sky rose dark mountains, leaking trails of lava down their sides in deadly rivers. A barren, rocky landscape rolled out around her.

"Netherworld..." she breathed to herself. She could make out a Daimon in the distance, his firey wings spread, corraling a group of monsters. She would need to move.

Carefully she worked her way from outcropping to outcropping, avoiding groups of monsters and the occasional Daimon. Very little in the landscape changed as she moved away from the light of the Portal, until, in the distance, she saw another glimmer of light. Curious, she made her way towards it, until finally she was on the other side of a rock shelf from it. Cautiously, she peered around the edge.

Her eyes widened, shocked. Before her sat a giant man, bound with golden chains secured to the rocky terrain.

"It has been eons since I have seen a human..." his deep voice rumbled through Raines mind. Slowly she stepped out to look upon him fully.

"Who are you?" she whispered in awe.

"I was once called Ulrith," he smiled at her, "I was once a god..."

"A god?"

"Yes child," he raised his hands until the chains grew taught, "There were once many gods who watched over the realms of man. The Darkness, or as you have called them, the forces of Daimons, have rose up against us, one by one. We are weak, divided. And they took from us our powers. There are other gods here, bound as I..." His eyes grew wistful, "That is what happens when a following dies out. We lose our power, and the Darkness comes for us. Once it has snuffed out the last of us, they will enter your worlds in force. None will be able to stop them."

"What can I do...?" Raine asked, fearful.

"Call my name to the heavens once more, child!" Ulrith clenged his fists, muscles bulging, "Take up my banner, and call upon those who would regain the faith of man and destroy the darkness! The more who rally to my name, the more my powers will be restored, until I can shatter these chains and once again add my protection to the realms!"

He touched her face softly, "You, child, shall be my first angel. The First Angel of Ulrith. Go, take yourself from this place, back to your world, and harken my call!"

Wide eyed, Raine couldn't speak. She just turned and ran.

Cadier, present

Raine had finished. Over the past year she had gathered every tome or scroll relating to Ulrith she could find. She was ready, ready to bring forth the name of Ulrith to the continent. Every convert would grow her master's power, until he could break free from his bondage and cast the filth of evil from Dwilight.

A long, difficult path lay ahead of her. She draped a pendant of Ulrith's symbol around her neck and nodded.

She was ready. But was the world?

Cador Andrasta

It was pandemonium. The noise came from all directions, ringing his ears, but the slits in his visor only allowed Cador the narrowest of views of the world around him. From the blind spot to his right, half of a Lurian archer flew into his field of vision and crashed into the blood-soaked dirt before him, where it was promptly set upon by two basilisks. The creatures tore at the flesh, snapping at each other as they fought over the choicest bits. Foul things, the king thought to himself, and turned away. If only I had the Scythe, I would slay both with a single slash. But the Scythe had been lost to him since Mattan Dews. He stumbled forward through the mud, finishing off, almost without thinking, a writhing manticore that had been feathered by half a dozen arrows. My wounds are itching. I should have Brysea change the bandages. A soldier screamed something at him, but the words didn't reach him, so the soldier turned around to face his next foe. A thin spray of blood splattered across Cador's helmet as the soldier was eviscerated by a large direboar. Poor fool. I wonder what he wanted. Something tugged on his shoulder, and he was spun around. Another soldier was screaming at him now. This one was more persistent, though. I think I know this one. My hair feels wet. Is it raining? What's he doing with that knife? I think I want to sleep. Stop yelling at me. My head hurts.

It was pandemonium. Grimwold had ditched his helmet seconds into the battle. He hated having his vision impeded, and against some of these beasts, a helmet would do you little good anyhow. He needed to see, and hear. One volley after another fell onto the oncoming storm of claws and teeth. The Forlorn were the only Lurians capable of prolonged melee, and they were less than thirty strong. Even the king was posted at the front line. Cencius' last two stone throwers rained death, but they could not keep up, and soon they had to be abandoned. Brutal melee would decide the battle now. The Forlorn braced behind their tall oaken shields, but Grimwold needed both hands to wield his grand mace.

"Hold the line, boys!", he shouted at the men. "If we break, it's over! Even if you die, hold the line!"

Then the horde was on them. Grimwold checked the first beast, a snarling troll, catching it in the jaw with a quick poke of the mace. The thing staggered for only a moment, but by then Grim's mace was already coming down with terrifying speed. The creature's head shattered beneath it, and it slumped to the ground. He looked around to find his master, and found him squaring off against a small ogre. Anything between seven and nine foot was considered small. The king looked focused, drawing the ogre to him, but keeping his distance with the point of his longaxe. Just as Grim had taught him. The ogre lurched forward, stumbled over a Lurian corpse and was promptly decapitated. The king raised his axe at Grimwold, signaling a good kill. Foolish. He never saw the large ogre coming from behind him. Almost casually, it slammed its fist down on the king's head. Grimwold crossed the distance in seconds and swung at the ogre, crushing first its foot and then its skull as it reached down. He finished it off with another blow to the head, and went looking for his master.

The king was staggering around, completely senseless. The top of his helmet was bent inwards. Too deep. Much too deep. Grimwold could see the blood flowing from underneath it. Not a trickle, but a flow. Grimwold rushed over to him as he stood there poking at a dead manticore. This was bad. He grabbed the king's shoulder and turned him around.

"Cador?" The king did not respond. "Cador! Are you there!?" Nothing. "Oh no..." He drew his knife and deftly cut through the chin strap. He felt the king going limp. "CADOR! STAY AWAKE!" It was no good. As soon as he removed the helmet and saw the king's eyes completely glazed over, his face awash with blood, Grim knew it was a race. He cut off a strip of the king's crimson cloak and wrapped it around the king's crimson head before hoisting him over his shoulder and running off to find the nearest healer.

14th July

Autumn Day -- Poryatu

Tohrm Elrath

Tohrm followed the coast on his journey south, soon passing by Sea Cliff Keep, the home of his liege, yet when he asked with the steward, he was told that Earl Greybrook was abroad and that he would have to wait to seek an audience. A minor inconvenience, since there was still so much to do, and Tohrm set himself back to the road without much delay.

A full day passed on his travels, before him and his motley band arrived in Ambervale. The festival appeared to be in full swing. Amidst the bustle of the peasantry and merchants, more than a few men and women of noble calibre could be seen, and no doubt he would attempt to speak to the lot of them, but the Imperial Magistrate was first on the list. Though finding him did not prove difficult, it seemed as if the Magistrate had acquired quite the crowd of his own; more than a few nobles there Tohrm recognized.

Tohrm strolled up to the vintners store, hailing the group of nobility as he did.

"My lords, ladies, it is quite the occasion when so many can gather for such festivity. A welcome respite for all I should think."

Tohrm offered a warm smile to all assembled as he ordered a glass from the vintner. Refreshing, even if the weather had start to grow colder with the approaching winter season.

"I am sure there are many more of repute who are enjoying this festival, and the people are positively unruly."

He gestured to one side at a wrestling competition between the peasants, a large ring had been formed of people where a roar of approval was heard every so often. "The best kind of unruly if you ask me."

Tohrm chuckled and sipped from his glass, allowing for the rest of the gathering to introduce themselves.

Emyhr le Craint

Walking through the stalls, Emyhr spotted a gathering had occurred around one of the central areas. Out of interest, Emyhr approached and spotter a person who he had met before but never on a personal level was addressing the gathered nobles.

"My lords, ladies, it is quite the occasion when so many can gather for such festivity. A welcome respite for all I should think."

A man he had met at that time was known as Sir Tohrm, but news had traveled fast that he had adopted a priestly life. This had interested Emyhr about what could he have discovered that would have changed the path of a well respected knight such as himself. Emyhr found himself instinctively walking towards Sir Tohrm, wishing to talk to the man himself both out of courtesy and interest over his choices.

Awaiting for the time to greet the man, Emyhr was finally given a chance.

"Sir Tohrm, ah sorry, should I address you as Priest Tohrm now? It is good to see you again, I believe we have not seen each other since the council of Earth Hall. How have you fared in recent days? News has reached my ears that you have come upon an interesting revalation. If you would honour my request, I would love to hear about it."

Awaiting his response, Emyhr looked upon the figure with admiration and respect.

Ciarghuala Dubhaine

"Are you still writing for that damn rag?" Ciarghuala and her companion Lady Emily sat in the shade of her pavilion, enjoying a light afternoon tea away from the hustle and bustle of Nid Tek's Harvest Festival.

"The Lurian Pig Breeders and Stockmen's Gazette is hardly a rag Ciara. It has the highest circulation in the Empire," Em's tone suggested she wasn't entirely serious in her defence of the infamous Poryatown tabloid, famed for its sensational exposes, though it was clear she relished her role as Fashion Editrix.

"I swear you only do these things to vex me," Ciarghuala sipped her tea as she skipped to her companion's column, doing her best to ignore the pages of social chit chat and political gossip as she did so. She couldn't afford the Grand Pantry to be drawn into such petty matters.

Winter Stays for the Holidays

Lady Emily D'Arcy, Fashion Editrix

Crowds gathered at this week's Harvest Festival in Nid Tek were treated to the latest creations from the great fashion houses of Giask. An exuberant riot of bold colours, patent boots and shockingly brief hemlines from Jean Pierre Goatlyre put as much as three inches of ankle on display whilst bette diabolique of street culture Vivienne Vestfolder delivered a tour de force of his and hers tailored couture. For the more traditionally inclined House of Flanel updated their signature court gowns with gold and scarlet slipper satin whilst Haughtnell delivered yet another masterclass in shot silk concealed brigandine for our magnificent ladies militant.

The taste for stays has grown apace in recent years as trendsetting debutantes have embraced the "au villein" and "d'orphan la monde" street movements with accentuated curves and ultra-slim waists the centrepiece of this year's on-trend looks. The Winter season's signature pieces feature extravagant tight lacing and longline corseting with sweeping skirts and generous culottes beneath elegant peignoir in Askileon lace or Shinnen silk paired with deliciously teetering high heels.

Men's attire continues to follow the military trend, a nod to the stoic heroism of our brave boys in red and blue. Swords are longer and single-bladed, worn mid-hip with a swaggering bravado, bucklers are making a welcome comeback after several years of disappointing sales, worn provocatively at the hip, and boots continue the above-the-knee look made popular by Earth's Hall's mariners. Doublets are definitely sturdier with hardened leather a common theme and slashed sleeves give glimpses of crisp white linen shirts with blackwork embroidery

Millinery has also taken a turn for the more exotic with sheer veils and brightly coloured feathers gracing women's styles whilst for gentlemen and our ladies militant brims have broadened and are worn with a rakish flourish.

"So what do you think?" Em spread a generous quantity of clotted cream on her unbuttered scone, followed by a dolloped cairn of damson preserve.

"Well I'm sure Mr Haughtnell will be pleased at the publicity, though if the prices he charges his other customers are anything like those he charges me I doubt he needs the business."

"Personally I think it's a miracle he dresses you at all dear considering the mood you're always in when he's taking measurements."

Ciarghuala frowned, "I appreciate what he does with the armour plating, but is it really necessary to put so much... flounce over the top?"

Em gave her a mischievous look, "I rather like the... flounce. It gives a girl something to grab a hold of."

"Yes, well, be that as it may I'm not sure the practice of tight lacing is a good one. Hell, the peasant girls of Giask wouldn't have started cinching themselves so tightly if there was the food to properly feed them, so to see the wives and daughters of the gentry aping the practice is just... well... why don't we have a damn word that captures 'subversive' and 'tragic'?"

"We do dearest. Fashion."

15th July

Autumn Day -- Nid Tek

Nicholas Archival

Upon arriving at the vintner's, with Staedtler and his bride-to-be in tow, Nicholas quickly strode forward to engage with its owner. Such was his focus that his gaze did not immediately spot Tohrm, nor Sir Emhyr. However, once he returned to his starry eyed companions with a pristine bottle of Ambervale Red within his grasp, he spied the duo. With a few, brisk words, he bid a nearby servant to begin filling their glasses. In the meantime, he approached the other two attendees of the Festival.

"Tohrm, Sir Emhyr! A pleasing coincidence to find you here," he announced, genial warmth displayed within a broad smile. "I must echo the words I overheard Sir Emhyr speak; I am greatly interested by your revelation of faith."

With that, he also shot Emhyr a sideways glance. "Ah- if you've not yet seen him, Sir Myr is on the look-out for you. Perhaps he may arrive here to join us yet."

Emyhr le Craint

With that, he also shot Emhyr a sideways glance. "Ah- if you've not yet seen him, Sir Myr is on the look-out for you. Perhaps he may arrive here to join us yet."

"Earl Nicholas, it is an honour to be in your presence. I am thoroughly enjoying this festival, and as I am sure many have also said, it is nice to enjoy some respite and peace away from the conflicts."

Offering a bow to the earl, Emyhr offered out his hand in greeting. Formalities aside, the man stood before him was one he had admired for his actions and the efforts he has made for the empire.

"It is a shame, I must have missed him. Sir Myr is a good friend of mine and even now I would dare to say I owe him my life. He defended me in the attack in Santoo where I suffered a grave injury. Even against the incoming threat of monsters, he stayed to ensure I would be able to continue to fight."

With that, Emyhrs tone changed along with a wince of pain shooting through his leg. But, Emyhr strived to maintain his compsure in the presence of Earl Nicholas and Priest Tohrm.

"Enough of that, we are here to enjoy ourselves not be wrapped up in the past. The work you have put into this festival has truly paid off, it has been a while since I have come to enjoy such pleasures. How have you fared since the council of Earth Hall?"

Patiently waiting for a response, Emyhr took a sip from the hot drink he had picked up from one of the stalls and adjusted his cloak which had slipped off his back slightly.

Nicholas Archival

Pleased by the complimentary words espoused by Emhyr, Nicholas dipped his head into a courteous incline before reaching forth to firmly grasp the knight's hand. By the ease of speech and the relative informality of his mannerisms, the Earl was evidently enjoying himself and the Festival.

"Sir Myr's bravery is rarely equalled, by all accounts," he agreed. Although it was an uncommon event for him to be on the battlefield, he knew of the young knight's headstrong value and the manner in which it matched keenly with the lion of their shared order.

"I am very pleased with the result of all this planning and preparation. I've said as much to others already, but my Tekians are an industrious and unbowed people."

With that, he beckoned over an attended, who promptly deposited a richly-ornamented goblet, filled to the brim with crimson liquid. He drank deeply with his first sip, before savouring its rich taste. For now, he continued to allow Staedtler to enjoy himself before the toast that was soon to be.

"I was disappointed I couldn't attend the council in person, though naturally I was kept abreast of the situation. I've been well enough; the tedium of bureaucracy keeps me safe - and a little bored. Which may well be the explanation for why I've thrown myself into the Festival so fully. And yourself? You have been throwing yourself into danger in the name of the empire, I can only commend you for it."

Emyhr le Craint

"I was disappointed I couldn't attend the council in person, though naturally I was kept abreast of the situation. I've been well enough; the tedium of bureaucracy keeps me safe - and a little bored. Which may well be the explanation for why I've thrown myself into the Festival so fully. And yourself? You have been throwing yourself into danger in the name of the empire, I can only commend you for it."

"Well it is good to hear that you have still be blessed be good health and fortune, thats one of the major differences between our occupations. It was a shame you could not make it, but I am glad you will still updated with its happenings. Being that involved in the future of Earth Hall was eye opening for me personally, really made me think about what I want to achieve myself."

Holding up he glass in toast to good health and the fortune of the Empire, Emyhr took a deep swig once again from his drink.

"While it may seem that I am placed at the mercy of the monsters and the Imperial Command, it is an honour to be able to fight for a just cause and an exceptional Marshal. I am proud of men and the courage they have all shown in the face of such threats, I hope to be able to give them the rest they deserve soon. I seem to be traveling all over for the sake of the defense of Luria Nova, just this passing season, I have found myself in all corners of both Earth Hall and Moon Hall, and as we speak, my captain has gathered some fresh recruits and return back to the north to continue our duties."

Spying around at the peace and joyful atmosphere that was present at the festival, Emyhr couldnt help but smile.

"It may be a tough and risky journey, but seeing the results in the smiles of the people being able to live in such peaceful times makes it all worth it in the end. I will never stop to fight so long as I can maintain this kind of life, my men and I are always willing to continue to sacrifice ourselves so long as people can enjoy themselves and work without fear."

Taking a longer drink, Emyhr finished off his drink. Wiping away the liquid from around his mouth, he found himself smiling once again.

"This is partially the reason I have taken an interest in the work Priest Tohrm. Having come to such a revelation myself, I find myself ever curious about the journeys that others are taking. I am sure he will have quite the tale to tell us all I imagine."

Tohrm Elrath

Tohrm allowed the two men to converse, enjoying the vintage in the crisp autumn weather. It was pleasant to be able to enjoy proper company again, and he only interceded the convsersation once before a lull in their discourse.

"Indeed, this festival is a fine example of the great and joyous nature of Earth Hall's people. It is certainly refreshing."

After which Tohrm drank swiftly, parting from the two to get a refill. He acknowledged Staedtlers presence but seeing the lady by his side, only allowed a polite nod, as to not disrupt them.

When the moment seemed to pass between the Magistrate and knight, Tohrm would remark.

"Both of your curiosity is well received. A sincere thanks to you both for your civil approach to my rather..." Tohrm paused to consider how best to convey the situation. "... abrupt, at least in part, formation of my faith. One that I would share with those assembled, when frivolities have ended, but before Lurian politics take hold once more."

He let his words sink in for a brief moment, his expression becoming quite considerate in nature. "I would still see myself as a Sir than a priest, I do not wish to seclude myself from the realm at large, secular matters included. Rather, I will prefer intergration as easily as one can manage."

He stopped to chuckle lightly, shaking his head as he waved the topic off dismissively.

"Of this I will talk, no doubt at such a pace to tire those who listen, but all to come later. Perhaps the Magistrate would be kind enough that I might gather those interested within the festival to converse with at his personal manor after dark. Should the Magistrate deem it a worthy cause."

Autumn Evening -- Poryatu

Nicholas Archival

Nicholas nodded in assent. Before responding, he took another sip of his wine, while regarding Tohrm with an honest curiosity.

"Truthfully, I have hoped to evade matters of realm politics within the Festival regardless. It will all come rushing back as the event draw to a close, and I've my own announcements to make, but they can wait for now... And, as for your request, I can have my men inform any of high birth and standing in Ambervale currently that you've wish to speak with them on the matter - of course, I will not demand, but intrigued minds will come all the same."

16th July

Autumn Day -- Poryatu

Tohrm Elrath

Tohrm nodded slowly in agreement with the Magistrate.

"Aye, lets not have such talk sour the festivities. I am grateful you would allow me this opportunity though; I will not disappoint."

Tohrm decided a fresh take of all the colours of the festival was in order, so began pacing in a wide circle around the vintners. When he seemed satisfied, he remarked with enthusiasm to the gathered nobles.

"With my estate having now moved to Dantooine, I have scarce had the chance to survey the surrounding lands, particularly regarding the game. If any of you find yourself in the province, I would care for a keen hunting partner. I could lend a hawk or two should one not have their own. The Empires borders are supposed to be quite good sport."

Tohrm face lit up with a wry smile as he drank.

"The more the merrier, they say."

Solomon Greybrook

A Long Awaited Return

It had been a significant amount of time since Solomon was invested with the region of Dantooine. With matters of the realm to attend to, there was not a opportunity to actually come to his new home. A couple of days before Winter, Solomon had arrived as the region's Earl.

However, his return was not rosy.

Upon the rolling hills of Dantooine, there had been frequent incursions of monsters and undead, eating crops and attacking villages. Fortunately, the region had been defended well by the Grand Panetier and Wassgandr Felsenbach of Poryatown - a note of gratitude which Solomon intended on personally attending to. Furthermore, as the sun rose on the lush pastureland, another battle was fought at dawn. With the support of Sir Wassgandr, the small horde of monsters was turned away without any human blood spilled.

Unfortunately, as the sun began to rise in the sky, Solomon could not personally meet the nobleman that had guarded his region numerous times in his absence. Instead, it was to head to his own estate and govern the region that he had been entrusted with.

Upon taking the region, Solomon had ordered that the previous tall stone watch-tower, that was known as the Sea Cliff Keep, was to be renovated. Furthermore, Solomon had recruited the best men that his family knew to create a estate which held the traditional watchtower, but also the construction of a stone keep which could hold court for Dantooine as well as hold the hub of coastal activity for the White Coast.

As the sun was around two hours from it's peak, Solomon and the Exalted Arbalests saw the estate. While the stone keep was still under construction, the tall stone watchtower had been amended. Now encompassing stronger fortifications and details which he left to his household, for now, Solomon was satisfied with it's progress. As his retinue approached the estate, the sharp incline to the estate was tough even for the fittest men. The previous lords of Dantooine had built the watchtower on the tallest cliff in the area. While the cliffs themselves were not tall or particularly jagged like those you can see in the South Divide, their white tint would inspire painters depict the estate in beauty.

With only a hundred meters till the gate, Solomon dispatched Harvard to signal the gates master to open the estate to him. While Solomon himself had been to Poryatown, Harvard had been dispatched previously to check upon Sea Cliff Keep, whom was placed under the temporary care of Carlos, Solomon's uncle. While Solomon's father did not get along with his brother, Carlos had always protected and guided Solomon as if he was his own son. Most of all, he was a man that could be trusted.

As Solomon entered through the gates of his estates, he did not know what to expect. Before him was his estate that he had not even stepped foot into before today. However, a few meters in front of him was his uncle, Carlos proclaimed:

'Earl Solomon! My dear boy! It has been too long!' The man's voice was booming and precise - a man whom had served his time within numerous retinues and ships of Greybrook's gone.

'Uncle! It must be at least 3 years!' With a short hug, Solomon observed the man. He had not changed one bit. He had always kept his appearance in the highest accord, even during his service as a infantry. His arguably most striking feature was the tidy silver beard and groomed hair that swayed to one side which did not move in the sea breeze. While only a inch or two shorter than Solomon, his presence held more accord than many infantry commanders.

With that thought, Solomon turned to Harvard and spoke carefully:

'Please ensure that Captain Semund is attended to. There should be some barracks which Carlos has housed the Greybrook Guard. I have a feeling he will be difficult until there is some ale in his stomach.'

With that, Harvard indicated where the retinue will be hosted and they dispersed into the crowd of people that currently traded within the estate.

'Nephew, or should I say my Earl? There was a slight hint of venom with that statement. However, Solomon knew how his father had treated him all those years ago... 'Before you hold court, there is a few matters to attend to.'

With a outstretched arm, Solomon took his lead from Carlos and traveled through the estate to the watchtower. While looking narrow from afar, the watchtower was rather imposing from it's base. While physically a lot wider than previously thought, the space inside exceeded expectations. While there is more to be done, the ground floor would be a suitable location for court until the keep was finished.

Gesturing up the winding staircase, Carlos begun to explain the course of events since his arrival:

'When I arrived, your assistant Harvard was already hard at work. He had begun to source materials for the keep outside as well as organising the farmland out in the hills. With the numerous attacks of unmentionables, the assistance from the Margravine of Poryatu cannot be understated. However, there has been little issue so far and our granaries have not been touched.'

This came at a sigh of relief. There was only so much reassurance one could receive while abroad. As Carlos turned off the staircase, Solomon had entered what appeared to be a private quarters:

'Earl, this floor is what the previous owner designated as a private meeting quarters for local affairs. Outside of court activities, I can guarantee personally the security of this location for your meetings. Also, if you look at the view it provides, I do not believe there could be a better suited private dining environment.'

Looking over to the balcony, the view made Solomon speechless. The endless horizon over the sea on a perfect autumn day.

'While there is numerous issues I would rather have you attend,' Carlos paused for a second for a thought. He walked onto the balcony and sat down in one of the chairs placed there and continued:

'A few days ago, a man by the name of Tohrm Elrath asked to visit you. I assume you are fully aware of who this man is?'

With a nod, Solomon gestured for Carlos to continue.

'I have had a few of the Greybrook Guard to scout out what appears to be a monastery being built where we demolished the abandoned wooden fort near Danturn Town. We have ascertained that his man has declared himself as a prophet of a new religion he calls the Celestial Scales.'

Solomon knew of this man and his religion. From what he knew, Sir Tohrm was a good man with good intentions. Taking up estate in Dantooine as his vassal was a sign of that.

'Honestly, the man has not approached you personally about this matter. Furthermore, the native religions of the area, Ecclesial Sanguiastroism and Sanguis Astroism, are concerned with his actions. Nevertheless, upon tradition, he should be able to say his piece. While I do not know of his intentions, I recommend you be wary. To the peasants, this branch of the Greybrook family tree are pagans who have not chosen to follow known religion. Hence, we must approach any interaction with this man and his religion with caution.'

From a pocket within his coat, Carlos pulled out a flask and took a quick swig of its' contents. With this, Solomon replied:

'Instruct that I must see Sir Tohrm immediately. Until I have made a judgement, this man's views and his followers should not be persecuted. When he arrives, ensure that he comes here so that I can meet him in private. I can trust that you can do this for me Uncle with discretion. Until then, I must be in court to help the people of this land and cement my authority here.'

17th July

Autumn Evening -- Poryatu

Sevastian Schwarzherzig

Sevastian and his men boarded the waiting dromon, the Aetherium. Sevastian settled in aboard the familiar ship, and took a seat upon the deck, looking out at the waves, rage boiling inside him.

They will burn. Every last traitor to the Imperial Throne.

The thought consumed him, and he sat, for how long, he did not know. After a time he felt a hand upon his shoulder. He started, and turned.

"Mother." Sevastian whispered. The woman behind him was thin, but not frail. Her once copper red hair had faded and turned white, but her green eyes still burned with a fire.

"Now you know my pain, my son." She said soothingly.

"You got off far easier than I did though. I was already in prison when they announced my ban. I was lucky to have befriended the guards, and they allowed me to escape before I could be executed." She reminisced.

"I already know that story Mother. Getting lost in past memories isn't going to help us here. Its all in ruins!" Sevastian shouted back, and hurled a crate off the deck.

"All wasted! Our home is denied us again!" He roared. The elder woman didn't budge in the face of her son's wrath, and she embraced him tightly.

"Trust the Emperor. We will return. What was ours, will be again. By the Stars, we will right the wrongs of the past, and the present." She said, softly.

"Shhhh. Shhh. It's okay. It is times like this that define who we are. Rise to the challenge. Do as I did, and not as your father did. Your father ran and hid in Balance's Retreat for the rest of his days. As for me, my greatest work came after my banishment. So too shall yours." She whispered to him soothingly.

"I shall send your siblings the notice of the blood feud. You, calm down, and plan our next move. You are my oldest son, and my heir. This nothing you cannot accomplish. Now is the time to resist. Resist, and bite." She said, letting him go, and walking off the quarter deck.

"SET SAIL!" She barked, and descended below decks.

Sevastian's men looked at this woman in awe, as she descended below decks.

"Who was that?" One of them whispered, and a nearby sailor grinned.

"Our Lady, our savior. The Light of the Maddening. Scourge of D'hara, Savior of the West." The sailor intoned reverently.

Nicholas Archival

The frantic journey to Poryatown had taken its toll. In recollection, few details remained to him; he remembered the icy breeze whipping across the plains of Nid Tek and Poryatu, tempered only by the burning resolve in his chest. It grieved him to leave the Festival early, and especially in the dead of night, but his life was no longer as secure as he had once thought.

The guards at White Hall had granted him entry quickly enough and, with Loras in tow, he found himself in a side-wing of the estate. It was the most secure he was likely to get now, though he felt like a cornered animal at the conclusion of the hunt.

"You really think the emperor wanted Matthew's life, and your own?" Loras asked. He had been asking inane questions for hours in a dim attempt to find sense in the situation.

Nicholas sighed and shook his head slowly. "I don't know. I thought he may demand my resignation, but not... this."

He gestured with a wave of his hand to one of the nearby servants. With a crisp nod of understanding, they soon approached to replenish his goblet. From the time of his arrival, he had made this request more than half a dozen times. Despite the warm, drunken haze that was arriving, he could not shake his worries.

"Loras. We're done here for the evening, go home. Father will ensure you're safe; I cannot make those promises right now."

His cousin, ever the impetuous youth, protested angrily. "You can't do--"

"I can," Nicholas cut him off brusquely. "And I will. Go home. Now. I doubt anything untoward will happen tonight, but you're not to be in any crossfire."

A few moments later the heavy, oaken door slammed violently shut. Loras would not be happy with him, all cocksure bravery and a zealous self-belief, but there were no longer any sureties in the situation now.

"So, Sevastian," he muttered lowly to himself. "I thought it would have been Aylwin, but maybe I was wrong."

With another sigh - which came often to him in recent days - he lifted the goblet to his lips, to take a long, hungry gulp. If there was one any to cope with an impending civil conflict, this was it. It soothed his frayed nerves, which had been pent up for weeks on end. Seeing all the plotting and scheming whilst being powerless to end it did not do wonders for his health.

"At least I can try to throw cold water on the flames," he decided to himself. It would be better than finding himself at the headman's block for sins that did not exist, at least.

Staedtler la Stylo

Staedtler was at a heavilly papered desk, looking like a man not quite set straight in the world. A gruesomely thick blot of war, hatred, and treason sat upon his woodwork. It was a mess; painful to witness, impossible to penetrate with reason, and so heavilly tainted with the venom of hitherto unseen feuds, boiling and frothing out from the underworld, that it was practically torture to behold. Unfortunately, Staedtler was not a practical man, and he found himself duty-bound to dissect the trauma, personally. Leaning onto a little island he had spared from the sea of parchment flooding his desk, he was head in hands, bleary eyed and near nauseous, grimly nursing the aftermath of a late night and early morning cocktail. With an ice-bag pressed to his scalp, Staedtler was regretting his timings.

"What a day to try and plan a wedding," he said to himself, massaging the exhaustion from his eyes; an effort akin to chopping a tree down by the leaves.

There were eager-paced footsteps upon the hallway. A single, dull knock at the door sounded, almost strong as a kick, shaking the hinges.

"You still digging through this muck yourself?" Irina called across the room, throwing her coat upon the foot of the bed. "You should really hire a scribe. Details are overrated. The beauty is in the summaries of politics." She began unweaving her hair from a ropish plait as she approached her husband-to-be.

Today she had been overseeing the militia and their bowmen as they went about scavenging unspent arrows from corpses about the walls, taking notes and making sketches as she went.

"I value the hands-on experience," Staedtler sighed in a poor attempt at lightheartedness.

"Feh," Irina snorted, unlacing her boots as she leaned onto Staedtler's chair. "You know, today I saw a man pull an arrow - head n' all - out from the eye of on those things. It was a tough job. It wasn't stuck or anything, but, problem was that it was a good arrow. Feathers were clean, shaft unbroken. Perfect salvage, I guess. I'd say otherwise, but times are tough, and I'm not a soldier." Irina began to mime as the soldier. "So he got down on his knees and began to pull at it, but that wouldn't do. So, he went to worm his finger into the white of its eye to help ease the arrow out. Blood everywhere. Puss and viscera all over his face and shoulder, even some on my boots. Serves me right for standing too close. You're cleaning those, by the way." She pointed to the bloodied boots she had just carelessly tossed aside beneath to the open window.

"At this point, I'd take boot scrubbing over any more of this," Staedtler sighed, scanning line after line of short-fused sentiments. "Did he get the arrow in the end?"

"Yes, but that's not the point," she said, walking beside the desk. "What I am saying is, that this poor, messy little soldier, three knuckles deep in an animal's head, shirked out of three week's pay by a clerical error, had a healthier look to him than you do, right here and now, slumped at your desk."

"I'll be honest," Staedtler said. "Reading through all this, hour after hour? I feel like I'm three knuckles deep into the heads of most of Lurian Nobility. Sure, it's nasty stuff, but what can I do? Can't just walk away from this, turn my back on the hell behind me."

Staedtler looked up to Irina, who was standing at his back, stooped over him, watching him read. She saw her lover, tired and utterly unwound from a long, hard day doing nothing, and smiled. She kissed his head and walked around the desk to the other side, standing between it and the window. She grabbed the treestump of stacked letters in both hands, and, in one broad motion, flung the scattering bouquet of string and papers out into the afternoon air. With a dusting of her palms, she went to the drinks cabinet, took an odd pair of hatched glasses with a full bottle of port, and slammed them right beneath Staedtler's nose.

"You know what? That ... " Staedtler said with a dry, flat expression. "... is exactly what I needed."

"Out with the bad poison," she said, flicking the surviving documents off onto the floor with the back of her hand, like a suit maker plucking dirt from a customer's lapels. "In with the good." She slid her betrothed a full glass. "Now let's plan this wedding. You, me, and our good, Nid Tekian friend here. But only as long as I don't have to sit at your desk."

She threw herself onto the bed, barefoot and carefree, and took a wild swig from the bottle.

"Now," she began. "I'm thinking flowers. Thousands​ of flowers."

Tyra Andrasta Bluelake

A couple days after both Tyra and Jonsu were wounded

Tyra had been fine for a couple of days now, thanks to Goriad's healers. She had been visiting him twice daily, partly for the interesting conversation and partly because she had been waiting for Jonsu to come to. She didn't know what he planned to do with the commoner woman, but felt like she ought to know more about her.

That's when Luria started collapsing. Tyra read a few letters in her own room that evening, grabbed them, got her sword, axe and dagger, and ran. She ran to Goriad. She felt, instinctively, he would be a person who would join her with this. He had protected the Emperor in Girich, and had followed him to Askileon. He was skilled. He wasn't Lurian.

Tyra burst through the antichambre, where Jonsu was tied, looked at her and shrugged. She quickly released the woman and whispered "You can go now, we have other things to worry about - but I'll want a word another day."

Without another look at the commoner, she banged on his bedroom door. "Goriad! Goriad! Get ready, we must go to the Emperor NOW. There might be a civil war looming."

Goriad Gabanus

The place within the palace that Goriad had been given was not extremely large and so he had turned his bedroom in a study as well. For the last two hours he had been staring at a map of an extremely forested area. Perhaps unrecognizable to most, but he knew the place by heart, his home was there. As he studied the map further and drifted back into memmories, the sun began to set.

He took off the shirt he was wearing to put on an evening attire and walk through the palace, but then suddenly knocking was heard upon his door and since he had not closed it well the door itself opened. As Goriad turned around he stood face to face with Tyra ""Goriad! Goriad! Get ready, we must go to the Emperor NOW. There might be a civil war looming." she said quite loudly.

Without shirt it became clear that despite his 55 years, Goriad was still reasonably fit due to all his travels, although slowly the years started to take hold on his body. A few scars here and there, although above all the tatoo covering almost his entire upper body must have drawn most attention. The world at the center kleeved by a red sea, drops of blood drawing down, a 4 pointed star on his left chest, a six-pointed star upon his lower stomach and a many pointed star upon his right chest.

"Lady Tyra, my apologies milady," he said as he reached for his shirt to put it on again. "A civil war? What exactly occured?" he said as he put on his shirt, yet before he moved out of the room he walked towards the table first and picked up a small curved blade and a short pointed blade as well and tucked them away.

18th July

Autumn Evening -- Poryatu

Bennet Selemnir

Bennet looked at the stack of letters on his travel desk wearily. A gust of wind blew open the entrance to his tent, scattering them every which way. No matter. He had already been through them in all their political tedium.

He spotted one of his scribes lingering outside. He rolled his eyes.

"Enter," he barked. The man scuttled in, ignoring the smashed wreckage of some camp furniture that had recently been the victim of Bennet's ire.

He had not had an outburst like that in ages. He had thought them done with, but the events of recent days had boiled his blood. He did not like being conflicted. There was one path to be followed, and it was always forward. Never sideways.

Bennet grabbed the letter produced by his scribe and waved him out. He inspected it, noting that no noble seal could be found. He rolled his eyes again. His staff knew better than to bring him the scratchings of commoners.

Bennet opened it and began to read.

Margrave Bennet Selemnir

Marshal of The Emperor's Will

Lord of Askileon Purlieus

My Lord. Apologies for troubling you with my words, and doubly for not doing so in person.

You do not know me, nor I you. I trouble you only to bring to you some sad news from the streets of Askileon.

Witnesses in the city tell a story of a brave woman, one of little height with fire in her hair. A common woman, but clearly her heart could not be measured by such scales. Recently the city has seen an infestation of the unliving, as of course has much of the realm. We common folk depend on a brave few willing to combat them while you lords defend us on the battlefield.

These witnesses tell a harrowing tale of this woman facing down several of the largest beasts to have been recorded recently. While she acquitted herself well, and slayed all but a few, I fear she was unable to survive the battle. I have been told that she was known as "Delia," and she claimed some relation to your family. I know not the voracity of those claims, nor do I wish to sully your name with such. But should they be true, I though you might wish to know of her valiant demise. The city owes her a great debt. Know that she will be toasted in the simple inns and taverns of the common folk across the city.


Terrick Dilford

Master of the Inn of the Three Winds

Bennet read over the letter a second time. Delia. He remembered the woman. She had darkened his door on a few occasions in service to the realm. He remembered also her as a young girl, kept around their old estates before they fell. He knew she was one of his father's many indiscretions. He tried to summon in his mind an image her face, but it eluded him. She used to sing, he recalled. But the tune eluded him as well.

Bennet allowed himself one more moment of thought on the woman.

Then he crumpled the letter and tossed it in the dirt among the others.

"Haldred!" he barked, summoning his captain. It was time to check on his wounded men. They had taken heavier losses in Ciarin Tut than they had in some time.

But, as most things, men could be easily replaced.

Nicholas Archival

The door slammed open, revealing a shaking and sweating Loras. Clearly he had come running, with a parchment in hand.

"Cousin!" he yelled, panic-stricken.

Normally Nicholas would have admonished him for such a rude arrival, but the letter caught his eye.

"Hand it here. Now," he prompted, before simply taking the initiative and stormed forward to claim it from the younger man.

He scanned its contents. Then again. Then a third time. Only a hours ago had the reports been sent to his office, and now the lunatic had declared it to the realm?

"Bring all my couriers and bring them quickly. There's no chance she'll succeed in this mad endeavour, but if she manages to prolong it, who knows what she may attempt."

Without another word to spare, Nicholas rushed to the most deadly weapon available to him; his parchment and quill.

Staedtler la Stylo

The panting courier rapped his knuckles against the bedroom door. He was hunched over on his knees like a leper. Throat dry, ankles sore, boot leathers eating into the skin of his feet; it had been a long afternoon of running.

"My Earl?" the boy wheezed. In one hand, he held a sweat-soaked rag, in the other, a bushel of fist-crumpled letters adorned with Imperial seals.

"If your letters have anything mentioning Emperors, Kings, assassins, or schemes, Hanley," Staedtler shouted from within his room. "I want you to go and eat every last one that does. Right now. Understood?"

"I'm sorry, but," Hanley choked back a mouthful of dry spit. "It's important. Very much important."

"Important enough to eat, Hanley?"

Hanley looked at the papers in his hands. Dry, sun-cooked parchment, wax, and letter glue. His lips were cracked, his throat horse, and his mouth was peeling at the sides, rotting for a drink. Each and every envelope became a sickening mouthful of husk to even consider. Even from behind the door, he knew Staedtler saw exactly what he was thinking, and how horrid it was to behold.. Hanley gagged upon the painful memories of letter licking from his days in the dusty, old Courier's Office.

"No, my lord," he said.

"Good. Now go and catch your breath, and have yourself a drink."

"Yes, my lord. Thank you."

19th July

Autumn Day -- Poryatown

Tohrm Elrath

It had been a chaotic end to the festival in Nid Tek.

Tohrm had noted a scribe, herald and messenger all approach Nicholas during his time there and eventually, the Imperial Magistrate had rode off at some haste from the site. Likewise, Tohrm had said his goodbyes swiftly and began to saddle his horse for his journey back to Dantooine. An uneasiness had settled in his stomach. He knew something was afoot, but could not quite put a finger on what that might be. But to see the Magistrate spooked from the festival was certainly an indicator for foul circumstances taking hold.

Tohrm did not even think to gather his squires. They would find their drunken ways back to his company soon enough. He had far more pressing matters to worry about. A message had been left at the stables for him once he was ready to leave, summoning him back to the courts of Earl Greybrook.

It seemed as if the Earl had realised his attempt at meeting him and had called for a council of some sort. The courts needed administering in Dantooine regardless and Tohrm was sure that his letter must have reached him by now.

So once more, he rode north along the coast, not even stopping at Poryatown for respite. He noticed that the city itself was absolutely alive. He could hear the shouting as he made his way past at speed. It was not the kind of bustle that was healthy though. Crowds had begun to form outside the main gates of the city and people were rushing to and fro from their houses to collect belongings.

The image burned itself unsteadily in Tohrm's mind as he rode back to Dantooine. All the while, he contemplated what exactly he would have to say to Earl Greybrook when he arrived. It had been before the festival that they had first met, in the chambers of their King. This would be the first, and possibly best time to gauge his liege's disposition toward his faith. It was possible even that he would simply banish them from Dantooine. He had not asked for permission beforehand to build upon that land, or take up estate along the borders of the province.

Tohrm amused himself slightly at that thought. He was an 'illegal knight', at this point in time. He had no real justification for where he had chosen to place his founding monastery, and had not sought the lords support to do it.

Nevermind. All things would sort themselves out in good time. And as the road grew shorter, he could see the place where he would receive his ultimatum. Sea Cliff Keep. The home of Earl Greybrook.

He slowed his horse as he began to reach the gates. It had been almost a full days ride, but he was wide awake. Something about the fatefulness of what was about to occur, exhilirated him.

He let the guard captain know of his arrival, and awaited the Earl to admit him.

Solomon Greybrook

A Fateful Encounter

Earlier, as the Nid Tek festival concludes

And as the road grew shorter, he could see the place where he would receive his ultimatum. Sea Cliff Keep. The home of Earl Greybrook.

As the sun had tracked across the sky, Solomon had taken to his role rather well. After taking a hour to see to it that his personal affairs and those of the IAP were completed, he descended down the spiraling staircase that allowed passage between floors of the tower.

It had been a significantly long period of time since Solomon had worn full political garb. Due to the sheer amount of travelling, he could not carry the clothes with him. Nevertheless, Solomon wore what would be considered to be fashionable in Lurian nobility. A fine black doublet with a crisp white linen shirt and boots provided a rather sharp but powerful appearance for him. Upon his family's request, for a birthday that seemed a lifetime ago, the shirt he wore held elegant embroidery with a martlet at the ends. With the significant amount of time campaigning, he requested for a shave and trimming of his rather unkempt hair. With hair slicked back and a sharp stubble, he began his first court session as Earl of Dantooine.

Due to the period of time which Dantooine was not governed under Imperial rule, there had been a build up of legal complaints and petitions. These requests were met with continued enthusiasm. From petty thievery to more serious offences which were cut and dry - Solomon enjoyed this work. Nevertheless, looking at his surroundings, this was not what originally he had intended for the Greybrook court. With time, the stone keep would portray a far more official, empowering and authoritative court rather than the one he hosted. One notion that he was proud of was the Greybrook Guard that lined the room and the banner of his house and of the Empire draped behind his chair.

However, these requests and petitions did not preoccupy his mind. It was the eventual meeting with Sir Tohrm that concerned him. The man himself, from his letters and brief appearances, was just and trustworthy - much aligned to his own. Nevertheless, the construction of a monastery without consultation and a religion that was completely unheard of had concerned his Uncle Carlos greatly. To Solomon, he wanted to hear what the man had to say for himself. He was intrigued to see a lawful and just man believed in.

Will the lull in proceedings and the rather large grumble of a nearby courtier, Solomon saw the face of his uncle and another man - Sir Tohrm. With that, Solomon stood up from his chair and announced:

"The court shall now break for lunch. We shall reconvene once the sun's heat begins to die down and my courtiers are no longer distracted by their stomachs!"

With a small giggle made by a few female courtiers by the entrance to the Watchtower and the embarrassment of the courtiers in mention, Solomon ascended the steps to his private study room. He knew that his Uncle would know what to do.

Opening the door ajar, Solomon went to the small dining balcony and sat down to observe the perfect Autumn's day over the sea. Pouring out two small glasses of Dantooine Wine, a new batch of made from white grapes recently acquired, he awaited the arrival of his fellow noble.

Tohrm Elrath

Tohrm followed in the wake of Solomon's uncle. Still caked in the filth of his long ride to Dantooine, he was not a particularly welcoming, nor noble sight. It did not seem to bother the knight though, as he strode with purpose alongside the Earl's uncle. He noted that the man made no attempt to acknowledge him aside from directing him to the personal quarters of the Earl. Once he had arrived, Tohrm noticed the Earl and his drinks by the balcony and made his entrance clear, with a dutiful bow.

"Tohrm Elrath, knight of Earth Hall. We have met before Earl, though not quite in this capacity. I hope you will excuse my presentation, the haste of the road and my duties did not leave time to freshen up."

He regarded the room in its entirety as well as the Earl. Tohrm spent a few moments simply considering how he would begin, and made no motion to take the second glass of wine beside the Earl. Instead, he began his discourse in earnest.

"It may come as a surprise to you that I have taken the liberty to stake claim upon the borderlands of Dantooine. I do not do this to draw ire from the realm or from those who have rightfully been given this land. Given the time I have been considering my actions and the path of which I walk, I have had to act with a certain measure of... decisiveness. This is meant in no insult to your person or the realm at large. I sincerely believe the words I speak today will alleviate any transgressions I have made upon your household or Luria at large, as well as assauage any concerns you may have of my purpose."

Tohrm did not await a response from the Earl, yet he began to pace, from one end of the room to the other, briefly punctuating a point by stopping to face the Earl, with vigorous body language.

"The Celestial Scales. No doubt you have heard from the people that now dwell in that abandoned part of the region. Squatting amongst uninhabited houses and working diligently to construct that which I have instructed. A monastery to my faith. But why here?

It is simple really. To bring the Empire to its significant borders. As far from the Civilized realm as possible, so that it may branch out to a greater demense. I know that Luria is predominantly split between the two parts of Sanguis Astroism, and its Ecclesial counterpart. And this has been the case for a very long time. So long as I have called Luria home, and long before that time. In truth, I do not wish to disrupt the faith of these people, but it has become clear to me due to the actions of some of the Astroist priests as well as my time in the realm that disruption is what I bring."

"As soon as my faith was declared, more than one of the Astroist priests decided to pay a visit and try to sway the people back to the cause of the Bloodstars. I do not fault them in this endeavour, why would they do aught but that? However, I must admit... when was the last time the Astroist faith truly worked within the realm to aid its followers? Until the founding of my monastery, but one priest resided in these lands, and he was not even well received by the heads of his faith back in the northern realms. The man Turin is who I speak of, of course. But recently another priest landed on our borders, near Nid Tek. It appears that the Astroists fear what may become of my faith, yet I have heard no correspondence from them. Not one has attempted to approach me and only seek to undermine what I hope to achieve. And yet, as I say this, they are not even aware of what that is exactly.

It speaks great deals to me, these actions. A certain Ignorance. One which Eliad would abhor. But I do not blame them. In their history, they have always ruled over all of Dwilight as the significant faith of many of the kingdoms. They have not known contest or debate for just as many years I imagine. What happens to a faith in this case? There is a reason they have been silent amongst Dwilight for this long, and it is because they have become idle in administering the faithful. It is likely that until provoked, the people merely followed them for traditions sake. I do not doubt this in the slightest.

Yet my faith would not see them removed. There is nothing about the Astroist beliefs that openly warrant my faiths ire. They have done good and evil in the realms, but I truly believe the Astroists have worked for the bettermen of the realms over the years they have existed within Dwilight. Yet they are ancient and complacent.

I wish to assure you, my faith would not bring bloodshed to these followers. If the Astroists wish to remain within Luria, I brook no quarrel with them. My followers will not treat them as enemies, not even as misguided. It is of their own perogative that they serve the Bloodstars. I for one, would have it no other way."

"It is best then that I explain what it is I am trying to achieve here, if not the removal of Astroism. Since that is not my goal inherently."

He took a deep breath and now face the Earl directly as he spoke.

"The Celestial Scales are a means by which Man measures himself. In a balance of the Scales, one finds a true wisdom which would lead him to a greater life. Not one away from the earth itself. No. This Wisdom that has been provided us by the Divine Pentarchy, the Celestials of which we derive this Wisdom, wish us to lead better lives upon Dwilight, even all of Battleterra. Their goal is thus."


"They created this, in ages gone by. The Codexs speak of an ancient time when these beings walked amongst us, as mortal and tangible as we are. They created what it means to be Civilized. They built the first Civilization. Through our actions, our creeds, we still follow this same path. Though loosely, and misguided as that may be. There are parts of every realm which hold these teachings to be true. But they have been lost for this age and further. My family, often spoke proverbs to one another, words of the Celestial Scales, that I never truly understood where they came from or how they came to be. After searching the old archives tucked away in the University of Dwilight, I discovered lost tomes that illuminate this riddle. This Wisdom."

"From then, I shall always hold this to be true. This Wisdom guides me as it will others in the future. Of that I am sure."

"The purpose of it, is to help Man understand his place within the world. How he acts, how he should act, and why it is the way of things. Civilization has always been the goal of any kingdom, whether imagined or not, this is the case. Luria exemplifies it above all us. We are Civilized..."

Tohrm trailed off, pondering his next words as he added.

"But are we truly? In ways, yes, in others, not so much. But man is fallible. Man can err. But it is in Mans mistakes that he learns to do better. That he prospers and grows stronger. If he has the Wisdom to see his failings. That is the Wisdom of the Divine Pentarchy."

"It is all well and good I say that this is the case. How do we know this to be true though? I shall elaborate."

"The Five Codexs are the recorded teachings of the Five Aspects, though incomplete as I may hold them, many more will be recovered over the coming years, of that I am certain. From what scant pieces I have collected, one can begin to discern the true meaning of what Civilization is. How one can strive to make it greater."

"The Five Aspects are this."

"Bellator. The greatest warrior to have ever lived. It is said in proverb and storied legend that the man had the strength of a giant, the courage to face dragons. Yet he also held Humility in his heart. He knew that Man could not treat all of their foes with anger, rushing headlong into battle. He trained and tutored warriors to be more like him. He was the one who held the first Tournament, to decide who was the greatest fighters to take his place when he left the mortal world behind. He was the first to muster an army to drive back the Beast from the first Civilized realm. He was the first, to go delving into the depths of caves and catacombs to vanquish the Beast by his own hand. Yet he never boasted of his skill and strength. He always sought to find a better to replace him. He always sought peace with other Men if they meant no harm to his people. Bellator was Might. Bellator was Humility. Bellator, was Honour."

"Iuris was the mediator of this realm. A man who understood what would be needed to guide others in the ways of Civilization. Justice. He wrote the very first law codes that many realms have partially incorporated to this day. His was a mediation of Justice. Magistrate of the first Civilization, he knew what people should follow to help themselves and eachother. To keep the unruly in line and reward the obedient. Yet he never truly lorded over those who sought his counsel. Instead, he instilled within others a sense of Defiance. He wanted Man to understand that law and order is kept in place so all may prosper by it, but others would use it so that they could dictate the lives of others. He knew this would happen, as he could not rule the mortal worlds law forever. So he taught Loyalty and Defiance in equal measure. That is how Man finds Justice amidst the turmoil of politics and life."

"Eliad. A patron of sorts for our own University, she created the written word. Without Eliad, Man could never have done as we do today. Sign treaties with foreign realms, trade with far off lands. Record the Knowledge we hold so dear to our culture. Eliad made sure the history of Civilization was preserved by opening schools and teaching those mortals with the keenest of minds to write and record. She knew that even if a realm was to fall, the memory of it would forever be preserved. If ever a ruler made false judgement, it was by her invention that he would be held accountable. But writing was not simply good enough, if the ones writing the words did not pay attention to the page. She taught many to debate the written word. To sit in council and decide the validity of these statements penned to parchment. And thus education was brought to Civilization, Understanding of the world at large and the realms that lived within it. Clarity would be found between peoples and the realms would prosper."

"Artis, a wily sort, took the forage of the earliest peoples and stored it aside. He seperated the good from the bad so that there was no spoil. The mediocre was left for consumption, much to the distaste of the people, but it was prudent of him to do so. The best of the grains he buried to preserve them. In this effort however, Artis learnt the art of agriculture. The very basis of all lives on Battleterra. Without the Frugality of Artis, we would likely still be grubbing around in bushes to find our next meal. Even the wine you sip at now Earl, would be but a figment of your imagination. But this was not enough. Artis knew that the harvests he reaped for the first Civilization would not be enough. There would always be more people flocking to their city and he would have to provide for them all. Thus he saved and planted in greater quantity. Through many years of careful management, the fields were ripe and full and the people still had plenty to go around. He took these grains to feed people, but realised that there was no way that they could be distributed to those that needed them most. Or those, that had the acumen to do best with them. And thus, Artis took a rock from the ground. Silvery in its hue. And next to it, he picked up another, more lustrous and golden. He chipped these rocks down and handed them out, as payment to those who worked hard, he gave the golden stones. To those that lazed in the fields, he gave the silver ones. Those who could buy more would work harder, or save it to one side in case of a failed harvest. Those who showed nothing but apathy, could barely afford to live. This, was the Wealth that he created, and by it, Prosperity came to this Civilization."

"Finally, Gloria came to this now bustling city, with craftsmen, warriors, scholars and merchants. Other cities had begun to rise up in its shadow and it was a glorious place. Gloria, last of the five brought with her a great Beast. The people were afraid of this giant monstrous dog, a three headed creature the size of ten men! Bellator was ready to smite it when the Beast came to heel. All looked on in awe. Gloria had tamed the Beast and used it for the betterment of Man. The dog stood at the gates of the great city and guarded it from any trespassers. Gloria knew that Civilization was what Man had strived for, and only when Man could conquer the Beast, would they truly find peace. So Gloria taught man how to control the Beast, and if the Beast would not listen, then she told them to put it to the sword. And Man cried, what if the other cities come to take all that we have gained? What should we do? Gloria knew that strife was unavoidable. Man always coveted more, not necessarily to its detriment, but it would be naive to believe that Man would never turn against one another, even with Beasts rampaging outside the walls. So she instructed that, strife must be quelled as swiftly and brutally as needs be. Man must be focussed on its true enemy. And if they did not, then it would not wait patiently at the gate any longer. If it was ignored for too long, the Beast would come for its next meal. And all it wished was Ruin. The mortals agreed with Gloria and understood now what Civilization was. It was in this moment, that the Five Aspects ascended to the heavens, at the peak of the Civilized world, so that they may always watch over Man. And Man would have to abide by this Wisdom, lest a great evil become of their kind."

Tohrm regarded the Earl for a moment, yet it was clear that the knight was determined to continue. Swiftly after he finished, he began to pace once more, talking all the while.

"So what does this mean for Luria? Are we the bastion of Civilization we claim to be? I think not. There are many parts of the Five Aspects we have faltered in. And that is the goal of the Celestial Scales, to identify, and then right our misgivings. Our failings. For if we ignore them for too long... only Ruin will be left for us."

"Us Lurians pride ourselves on Honour. Honour that is self granted. But this is not what Honour is. It is not us who bestow Honour on ourselves. It is others that must do it, or it is false. We say we are the Mightiest realm. By that, our armies are strong. Our warriors numerous. And yet the Beasts ravage our land even now. Even now, our knights are captured nearly daily by these creatures. Yet the hordes keep coming. Are we truly so Mighty? And of Humility. This is something Luria I believe has always lacked. Yes, we may be the bastion of Civilization to the rest of the realms, but we are so far from truly realising what Civilization really is, that are these claims not false? We have so much we need to repair, to rebuild. Once our lands are free of the Beast, no doubt the nobles of this realm will lord about, spouting nonsense about how powerful we are. Yet many were brought to their knees by the Beast. And yet we will claim so boldly that we swept them aside as if they were nothing. This arrogance, is detrimental to our realm, and will only cause a greater fall further down the line. Our armies, our Might, must be tempered by Humility. If we are to defeat the Beast, we must understand that they are always a threat. Why do we look to other kingdoms along our border, when our own is so out of shape? Our own lands burn and yet we think of doing the same to other realms. This is not Honour, that, is Dishonour. It is under the orders of our Suzerain Emperor that we sought to antagonize other realms even whilst ours was being beset upon. That, is Dishonour. And too many of us showed a level of arrogance that has cost Luria good men and women. We must realise our mistakes and seek to rectify them, if we can truly call ourselves Honourable."

"Do we have Justice in our realm? I truly believe that the Magistrate works with the best intentions in his heart, but it is the Loyalty the nobility shows towards the Emperor which is holding us back. We should not be Loyal to one man, as I think the Emperor is but a man, as I am. The violet smells to him as it does to me. The element shows to him as it does to me. All his senses have but human conditions. His ceremonies laid by, in his nakedness he appears but a man. So why do we put all our faith behind this figure, when truly, the figure of our Civilization is Luria. Not the Emperor of Luria. Our Loyalty is misplaced, this too we must seek to rectify. The Empire is where we should place our faith. Any man or woman could sit that throne and dictate our realms path, yet it is the realm itself that we serve, or should serve. We have lacked a sense of Defiance to the Emperor's orders, and it has cost us much. We have taken land from our allies, we have cast aside our diplomacy to insult other realms without reason. In this, our Justice has failed."

"It is without a doubt that our realm does not Prosper. Every day, our Panetier speaks of how the realm edges closer to a harsh winter, where people will have to scrimp to get by. But it is not their job to do this. As their leaders, we were the ones who should have shown Frugality when it was needed. We had the Wealth of the largest Empire on Dwilight with which to do that, and yet we still failed. There are those nobles amongst us that hoard this Wealth for their own personal gain. They sit inside our greatest cities and covet its riches. Nobles who do not deserve the Wealth of the Empire are given it freely to pursue their ambitions, when other knights who fight endlessly against the Beast are left with nothing to replenish their coffers. And yet we also sought war. We had a time, we had a chance to save for the worst, and we squandered it. We are not a realm of Prosperity, but Poverty. This too, must be recitfied. We need Peace."

"The matter of Clarity is a curious one. I believe it does not necessarily pertain to the Empire, but the faiths that sit within it. As I have said, I have not been approached by a single members of either branches of Astroist faith. And so, their clergy sits amongst the workers at the monastery and seek to convert them from the Celestial Scales. But why? They do not even know of our creed, they simply see it as wrong because they have no Knowledge, no Understanding. Many in the realm have come to speak to me regarding this, and for that, I do believe the nobility of the realm hold Clarity within their hearts, or at least seek it so. This I believe is commendable, but the realm will need time to be able to realise this. Time that we are not afforded by the Beast and Man alike."

At this, Tohrm let his words sink in further, a darker countenance taking hold of his person. He began to speak again in a far graver tone.

"Civilization. Are we truly a bastion of this most sacred thing? Of all the Aspects, we falter or are not given the opportunity to realise their potential. Can we truly claim this? We are still a Civilized realm, one that has the greatest potential of all. But we require reform to see this possible. Reform that has been halted and blocked for far too long. Reform, that must come, and soon. If not, then Ruin will continue to plague our lands, as the Beast already does. We slip further from this most sacred thing and we do not even see it happening. Civilization is faltering, and I will work until my last breath to see that it is not stolen from us. That it is not taken from the Lurian people."

"This is my goal. My quest. I will not rest until it is done. I hope you can truly understand what I wish to achieve here. It is not a detrimental thing. Many believe my stance on the political stage to be counteractive to the realm, but it is all with its glory in mind. I want our realm to prosper, above all else. I simply believe many do not understand how to achieve that. If we follow the Wisdom laid out by the Divine Pentarchy, we can see our realm thrive again. Luria will be brought back to the forefront of Dwilight, and we will know Civilization."

"I seek thusly, that you might pardon me for my transgressions. I have taken land upon your domain without your permission. But I do so for the good of the realm. I do not wish to act against your desires, and if you wish me to leave here then I will. I leave this decision to you, at your discretion. Please, I do not need an answer now if you wish time to deliberate on it. There is much to consider, of course."

At that, Tohrm bowed once more and awaited the response of the Earl. His eyes lingered on the glass of wine for a second. His mouth felt a little parched after his lengthy talk after all.

Autumn Evening -- Poryatu

Isabella Pavus

Isabella walked onto the balcony at the late Rendorian Imperial Complex.

"May I present, Suzerain Empress Isabella Pavus the First!" called out the steward, placing the Lurian crown upon her head.

"This is our Luria. One may call it such a benevolent dictatorship. We shall get things done, and we shall prosper. I hereby announce the new capital of the Suzerain Emperor of Luria Nova to be right here - Askileon."

Myr Arnickles Renodin

Upon learning of Isabella's presence in Askileon Myr made haste to Rendorian Imperial Complex. He shot through door after door and gate after gate like an arrow, upon seeing the lion seal and familiar face no guard stopped him. In the vestibule he seized a courtier by the arms and shouted in his face: "lead me to the Emperor!"

After shaking off the initial shock courtier mumbled: "Y-you mean the Empress?"

Myr squeezed his arms and felt the bones squeeking - "don't make mockery of me, lead me to the Emp... what do you mean the Empress?!"

The courtier said through teeth clenched in pain - "Suzerein Empress Isabella Pavus the Usurp... uhm, the First. Her Imperial Highness now sits the Lurian throne."

Myr let go of his arms dumbfounded. His confusion gave way to deep thinking and that gave way to anger... no, not anger - fury, a rage burning with the fire of a thousand suns. He unsheathed his sword and attacked the nearby column, swinging, thrusting and slashing, accompanying the sound of metal on marble with his own shout of fury. He swung the blade with all the force his muscles could provide but the steel refused to crumble and blade refused to break.

Horseless childhood and long strolls through deserts and mountains reinforced Myr's legs with tendonds of iron and muscles of granite, so the kick that opened the doors to the throne room was in force akin to one a destrier could deliver. One of the doorwings escaping the grasp of it's hinges provided just enough distraction for Myr to find himself merely a yard away from the Usurper, his sword in hand. Guards rushed forward in shock but they could never reach him in time. It was just then that he...

Stabbed the floor and propped himself with his sword as he knelt in deep genuflexion.

"Your Imperial Highness Isabella of House Pavus, I pledge my Imperial Allegiance to you and I shall serve and protect your life and give my own should it be requested. Loyal to the Imperial Throne I serve." - young knight said through clenched teeth, unhidden hatred in his voice.

Nether Leroux

Nether quietly led his horse towards the last place he'd been told Isabella had been seen, he had never failed a duty and at this stage it wasn't for the Khalkar or Luria it was so that a lone lady that had dared to shake the system of an empire and remind it that none are far from the touch of fate. He would marry her regardless, although they'd never met face to face he had begun to like her via the letters they'd exchanged some regarding their respective realm cultures and others about philosophy. He finally believed that she might be the one to rival his thirst for knowledge and debate, all is as fate decides he thought.

He left his horse in a stable and quietly went about town until he took a break to write his journal, perhaps waiting for someone or waiting to be found.

Dear Journal,

Life is certainly full of surprises and fortuna will always remain a flip of a coin, one day she will shine upon you and the next turn your gold to dirt. I can't say my impression of Luria hasn't changed somewhat after the plot I was implicated in, understandable more due to my trade but then again Infiltrators will always be looked down upon in any type of life, so I can forgive them in my mind. I remained myself, calm and collected and here we are....why am I even doing this, surely the reason the Khalkar and Luria were to offer two to wed was so that it would be tied by blood...but will Luria accept the blood of what they might deem a traitor...some might some won't...and then of course the Emperor had wished it...but with him currently away what is the point ....I guess I'm not doing this for either anymore, I'm doing this for myself...and someone I've come to respect regardless of her choices and fate.

I don't know if I'll have a reason to remain in Luria, it has been an interesting lesson in politics for sure and I won't forget it. I guess I can flip the coin after I am wed, for even a short day as it will be...best to make it a memory to remember and celebrate when I am myself at deaths door.

End of journal,

He closed his book and hid it within a discreet pocket within his jacket. "So what now ?" he pulled out a coin and looked at the engraved markings of Oligarch currency. "Heads...tails...lets take a wager."


Jonsu woke, and found herself restrained. She took note of her surroundings, and was struck by the displays of wealth. Clearly the resident was highborn, or a wealthy merchant as her parents had been. After a time a woman rushed in... The same noble she had run into before. Jonsu was untied, and briefly acknowledged this woman's words. There was a panic in her voice. Jonsu hesitated. The smart move was to leave and steer clear of the city...

Jonsu listened to her talk to someone in another room... Her blood chilled when she heard his voice. The arrogant bastard from the academy! She almost bolted to the door... But she stopped herself, stepped into hall and kneeled before Tyra.

"My lady..."

William Fitz Roberts

The man ran through the streets of the city, blind panic overcoming him. He could hear pounding feet behind him and he knew his former master's bravi would be on him soon. He turned a corner and cursed all the gods that he knew as he saw a dead end. He turned and saw Fabrizio grinning at him. The man had not even bothered to draw a blade, he just smiled at the former scribe

'Well, well, Alphonse, looks like you are stuck now, don't it?'

Alphonse quaked in fear as Fabrizio and the other bravi closed in on him

A short while later, he was dragged into the central courtyard of the Fitz Roberts villa. Alphonse waited for William to appear, hoping that he could beg for his forgiveness. All hopes were dashed when he saw it was Anne who stepped out of the far doorway. Stunningly beautiful, yet terrifying in countenance, the wife of William advanced on the hapless scribe

'Your little mistake could have cost my husband his head!' She roared 'It is clear now, you support the usurper. You are a spy in this household' 'Please, m'lady, I misheard his lordship's orders, is all. I thought he said support the loyalists, I realise now he said support those loyal to the true Luria...' Alphonse pleaded with Anne, but it was not enough

'Silence, wretch' she snarled and snapped her fingers. Alphonse was dragged over to a wooden block and his arms strapped down. One of the bravi raised an axe and brought it down twice, severing each arm at the elbow. Alphonse continued to scream as he was flung to the floor and the same was done to his legs at the knee. Through the white heat of agony, he noticed something that made him cry out in abject terror once more. A large cauldron was being dragged into the centre of the courtyard and a fire being lit beneath it.

Anne watched as the man was lowered into the cauldron and the water born to boil. She smiled as the man's screams echoed through the streets of the city, waking the whole of this quarter. Her husband's next scribe would not be so careless

Leif Wilkins

Jolly good Leif is filled with great grief,

An empire torn,

New strength must be born,

Come hither, raise arms,

Gather all men from townships and farms,

The pretender empress sits high,

Please - open your eyes!

She throws false hope like a fake token,

Filthy, untrue and so broken,

It smells like death when her short legs are open,

She croaks, she shags, a filthy tail she wags,

Like those of old legends of swampy old hags,

Come hither brethren, sisters,

Stand for your realm and wreck all these blisters!

20th July

Winter Day -- Poryatu

Isabella Pavus

Following protests, Empress Isabella surrendered the crown. She had achieved such without bloodshed, but now men bled in Askileon. Now she, and the late Emperor Consort Nether, would enjoy the time that she had left. Married life came not as how she thought it would, but it came indeed. She could safely say that the marriage would last her whole life, nonetheless.

Myr Arnickles Renodin

"Dame Isabella, I will not hide the fact that I am glad to be free of my vow to you. However allow me this singular kindness - to lend you my sword this once, albeit in much different fashion.

I have never taken a life of a man, and yours I shall take not with hatred, for my hatred died with your Imperial Reign, but with honour and pity. I challenge thee to a duel to till death."

Leif Wilkins

Heads and Tails

As time shall sure pass,

One must pluck their head out of their arse,

Unite and sing together,

May Luria strong remain forever,

Knights, Margraves, Dukes and Kings,

Embrace each other like chainmail rings,

Do not point fingers or live in fear,

For all of you are held so dear.

Winter Evening -- Poryatu

Isabella Pavus

Isabella sits upon the throne, polishing the crown. As Myr comes in, her idle hands got closer to her chest, . She places her hands together, her fingers now riddled with jeweller, before bowing her head.

"You are a true honourable man, Myr. Rise. If rebellion is declared, you will be expected to side with me. And you will. It is not desirable, I do not want rebellion. I wish for the election to begin overmorrow. I will not make you kiss the ring, nor my boot or any such thing. Your oath lasts until sunset tomorrow. Then, you are free of your oath. Sit with me."

Isabella promptly claps her hands, as servants begin moving a smaller throne besides the Imperial Throne.

Roleplay from Myr Arnickles Renodin (22 hours, 5 minutes ago) Message sent to everyone in the region Askileon (9 recipients) The knuckles on the handle of clenched sword went white as Myr obliged with the request.

This woman mocks me! - he thought - to sit on a throne beside her! Outrageous!

He dry-swallowed a portion of fear and hesitation as he offered: "would Your Imperial Highness require a champion for tomorrow?"

Please say no, please say no, please say n... - he chanted in his mind, hoping that King Karibash or Kind Cador would rip her in two in an honourable duel.

Roleplay from Isabella Pavus (22 hours ago) Message sent to everyone in the region Askileon (9 recipients) Isabella smiles to Myr, shaking her head. "Do not be absurd, I will be fighting. Enjoy the time as it lasts. This is my last day alive, before the Empire is united. It is a beautiful thought, do you not think? Would you like food or drink? I can have it fetched at once. Also, steward - I do not know who will inherit the House of Pavus, but raise him to a Prince, for as long as Askileon stands. No rights to go along with it, just a fancy title. And the jewellery agreed upon."

"We desire much the same thing, I believe."

Roleplay from Tyra Andrasta Bluelake (15 hours, 55 minutes ago) Message sent to everyone in the region Askileon (9 recipients) Without waiting for either Goriad's or Jonsu's replies, Tyra started moving. The Rendorian Imperial Complex was vast, and they were far from the Imperial Seat, where Isabella was probably waiting for Karibash.

She was reached by letters of a counter rebellion mid-way. Well, it was to be expected. But this time, there would be fighting. Should she order the army back? It was too late, now. Hopefully they would all join the rebellion and defeat the militia.

At the Imperial Throne's door, guards made a motion to stop her. "I'm not a rebel. This is a diplomat from Swordfell and that one is my servant. We want to see Dame - I mean Empress Isabella."

Isabella Pavus

Following protests, Empress Isabella surrendered the crown. She had achieved such without bloodshed, but now men bled in Askileon. Now she, and the late Emperor Consort Nether, would enjoy the time that she had left. Married life came not as how she thought it would, but it came indeed. She could safely say that the marriage would last her whole life, nonetheless.

Myr Arnickles Renodin

"Dame Isabella, I will not hide the fact that I am glad to be free of my vow to you. However allow me this singular kindness - to lend you my sword this once, albeit in much different fashion.

I have never taken a life of a man, and yours I shall take not with hatred, for my hatred died with your Imperial Reign, but with honour and pity. I challenge thee to a duel to till death."

Bethany Birkenhead

Earlier today...

"Alright, my loyal men, this is the plan! We will help Aylwin Gottfried storming the makeshift palace of the Queen of Strumpets! I organised torches and fire arrows for each half and arrows with tips that will spread a flammable fluid wherever they impact for the other half of you! You will shoot the doors and all barricades that are standing in the way of Gottfrieds troops. Just do it, no second thoughts, it will work out!"

Bethany had a sparkle in her eyes, an eery one; one with hints of insanity and tons of determination. Her soldiers looked at each other, questioningly, a mumble going through their ranks.

"Okay, we attack! For Luria!" The men mumbled, some shrugged.

"FOR LURIA!!!" One of the Betulaceae all of a sudden raised their voice, and another joined in, followed by yet another. And soon, they were chanting "For Luria! For Luria!". Torches were lit, and the unit started moving, still chanting, towards the palace.

Tyra Andrasta Bluelake

It had been an eventful night. Tyra, Goriad and Jonsu had been admitted to the throne room to find a sulking, menacing Myr, and a lovely and happy Isabella. The two women had talked, Tyra admonished her first friend about all the madness that she had made happen in the last two days, Isabella had been adamant. Tyra begged her to reconsider a duel, to no avail. A short wedding ceremony to Duke Nether followed, and the two retreated to another hall while the rest of them waited grimly for the morning news. Tyra was quiet, but safe in the knowledge that the Renodin household was out of the Imperial Complex.

A new rebellion broke out. From the balcony, they could see some units storming the walls of Askileon. Myr got in line to be the second or third duelist, Tyra couldn't keep up. It was just a matter of waiting for the wave to crash.

Aylwin Gottfried

The walls have been breached, the defenders confused, some dropped their weapons and ran in face of a small well trained army, others lay wounded or dying for obeying the crazed Empress... "A pity" Aylwin said, "It is a shame they had to die like this... Make sure their wives and families are compensated for their losses as the men fell for a pointless battle"

A few who joined him were leading their own retinues, amongst them short and stout Sir Leif in his shining armor and young Dame Bethany with fire in her eyes.

Even the old Pavus Guards took arms against their 'empress'.

As the army made their way, they saw the retinue of Earl Donald and Dame Sofia who chose to stay neutral in this case.

As the nobles stormed the Imperial Palace, Isabella, surrounded by a few people sat idly on the throne. Her face grim, but with a nervous smile. Her guards weapons ready, among them Sir Myr, with a sad look in his eyes, who clearly did not want to be standing there.

"ISABELLA!" Shouted Aylwin holding his Longsword of Betrayal which has history of slaying traitors, and claimed not one, but many lives in the past.

"Isabella, come out and face me like you promiced! I will give you this one chance to die honorable by my blade, or send your champions forth."

Isabella took a moment, the whole palace was quiet without anyone uttering a word, you could hear the cracking of fire burning of the roof and doors of the palace, the place was hot and it was getting hard to breathe.

After a pause Isabella stood up, removed her fancy cloak and placed her crown on the throne. She accepted the duel.

"I will give you this one chance to die honorably by my sword, arm yourself and face me in the courtyard."

Everyone has left the palace that went up in flames, its roof collapsing.

"Pick your weapon 'Empress'" Aylwin bowed and armed himself with his longsword of Betrayal... what a fitting weapon to strike the traitor of the realm.

Isabella armed herself with a well balanced sword, not taking a shield, and charged at Aylwin screaming, she decided to use all her might in hopes of striking the duelist, but to no avail. After just a few parried strokes, Aylwin has caught Isabella off guard and with a faint he placed his sword up to his hilt right through her stomach, getting close to isabella and whispering in her ear "You had your fame, you held the seat of Empress", after which he pulled his sword back out as Isabella had collapsed on the floor.

Everyone were baffled by the swiftness of the duel, and a few man carried isabella away, blood spilling on the floor with steady stream coming from her wound.

The Empress was no more.

Goriad Gabanus

Goriad had followed Tyra in her quest and as Tyra spoke with Isabella, Goriad stood on the side when suddenly Aylwin bursted through the door and a duel followed.

As it finished and her body carried away a clapping was heard from the side. Not soon after, Goriad moved towards Aylwin, still offering short applause. "Suzerain Emperor Aylwin, it has a nice ring to it, a bit of a change from Sword of the Maddening I must say. It suits you," he said with a grin. "It has been a while since we last spoke Aylwin. We are due to catch up, but I should also ask, do you intend to stay Suzerain Emperor, or will we simply recollect old times?" He made a short bow as he finished speaking.

21st July

Winter Day -- Poryatu

Emyhr le Craint and Solomon Greybrook

Swordsmanship match between Emyhr and Solomon

As the sun set over the city of Askileon, the sounds of tavern merriment filled the air. Arriving through the main gates of the city wall came Marshal Solomon and Emyhr, both discussion matters of the IAP and of the situation in the realm. They found themselves a stable to mount their horses and proceeded to enter the city. They had both come with a purpose of repair and refitting their units. Both they could go, Solomon turned to Emyhr.

"It has been a while since I have been in the city, more so to train my sword arm. If you have time this evening, how about we have a match? I am quite curious to see the prowess of the Vice-Marshal? The losers buys a round of drinks afterwards."

He said this with a large grin holding his arm out in conformation. Emyhr now had a big smirk on his face and gripped Solomons arm tightly.

"That sounds like a fine challenge to me, I have been needing to practice my movements. I have duties to attend to but once that is done, I shall meet you at the training hall. Should make for an entertaining night."

With the two parting ways, the time seems to pass quickly. Before long, they had found themselves at the academy ready for their match. By this point, the merriment from within the taverns had become rowdier and many who had heard about the match between the two nobles had gathered outside the academy with only a few being allowed within the grounds.

A small gathering of minor nobles and those with money had gathered into the training hall, surrounding a marked area where to two men stood. Swords in hand they prepared for the match, an official from the academy had been present as was custom for most matches but this man was also struggling to hide his excitement. Emyhr, swinging his sword around getting a feel of the grip and the weight, smirked once again towards Solomon.

"I hope there is not hard feelings once I show my skill, fighting on the frontline with my men has enabled me to hone my skills with a blade."

Solomon said nothing, only looking up and glaring with an equally terrifing smirk. The academy attendant stood in the centre explaining the rules of the match, but neither men were paying match attention, rather staring each other down. With a clap from the man and a cheer from the gathered students and visitors, the match began.

There was a moment of quiet where both men were watching the movements of the other, but rather suddenly, Emyhr leaped into action. Lunging straight for the unguarded point on Solomon's defense, but without much movement Solomon brought his sword down for a block connecting and pushing back Emyhr. Without much hesitation, Emyhr continued to swing and dodge in an aggressive fashion, with hits landing on both sides, but Emyhr was looking worn out from his movements while Solomon was holding strong. Emyhr backed away to catch his breath before darting back into the fray, aiming for Solomons unguarded left. Solomon, spotting this movement moved to change the guard, before realizing this was a trap.

Emyhr, bringing the direction of the sword to the original guard position leaving Solomon no time to change back, brought the sword and clashes with the joint of his armour. The blade slipping through and piercing the flesh of Solomon's upper arm. The judge seeing this, stepped into the ring, bringing the match to a close. The crowd roared with excitement and cheered for both Emyhr and Solomon. The judge went over to Solomon followed by Emyhr, taking off his armour, luckily the sword had only pierced the top layer and the wound would heal quickly.

The judge then announced to the crowd, "The winner of the match is Sir Emyhr of Poryatu." The crowd cheered some more upon hearing this, the cheers were followed by the sound of discussion and cheers from those who had waited outside. Solomon was busy being patched up by the academy healers, Emyhr approached and held out his hand.

"I apologies for the wound, it seems that I got a bit too carried away. You are a formidable warrior after all. It seems however you have lost and I will still be taking you up on that offer for a round of drinks. Once you had been bandaged, let us head to the tavern and drink, I am sure a strong drink will take the edge off that wound."

The events came to an end, Emyhr and Solomon were drinking and enjoying themselves. As was promised, Solomon had bought the drinks for the evening. The two sat and rather than discussing the recent events, were busy discussing their past. The night closed with the two men parting ways and returning to their camps to prepare for travel at sunrise.

Orsino d'Aquini Pavus

“Come, Aurelia, Lisabetta. The capital is no longer safe for us. We return not to the King’s Spire, nor my family estate in Ciarin Tut. We head for Dantooine, where shall rule the House of Pavus.” Said Orsino, somehow with a smile upon his face. With the death of his sister, he had inherited the position as the leader of the Pavus family. While having originally married into his wife’s family, the d’Aquini family, they found compromise by adding Pavus onto the end.

“You speak truth, my beloved?” Said she. “I do,” said he, “we depart at once". “Are you still a Prince, papa?” Asked the young girl. “I am not sure, dear Lisabetta. But it makes no difference, I promise. The trinkets we have will still be ours. Including that tiara I will give you when you turn seventeen.”

“But, papa, that is so far away. I cannot wait nine more years!” She complained, as her parents packed.

“You have no such choice, my sweet. We step to the forefront of society. Our family, the House of Pavus, will forever be known as they who have been in the Empire’s Throne.”

“And I'm sure you will sit there one day, my love,” said Aurelia, taking a break from the packing to embrace Orsino.

“By the Ancestors, I hope not. The weight of an Empire on my shoulders? I should pray not. That reminds me, Lisabetta. I want you to meet your new guardians soon. People who shall protect you and your mother.” Said he, finishing packing the essentials, signalling to the two to begin leaving and going down to the carriage. They passed the throne room, where Isabella’s body was still warm, the aroma of death in the air. Not even the new furniture and perfume could even cloud it a bit. Lisabetta, of course, had her eyes covered and her nose also. This was nothing she should see.

After climbing in the carriage, Orsino and Aurelia, with little Lisabetta wedged between them, looked at the Emperor's Complex one last time.

Winter Evening -- Poryatu

Tyra Andrasta Bluelake

As Tyra left Goriad and Aylwin to relive old days and sign peace between the realms, she wondered if Aylwin would be able to fulfill Aldrakar's dream of bringing other people into the Hegemony.

She wandered the city, feeling the loss of her first friend, crazy as her last days had been, and a few other losses as well.

Her mind was fuzzy. She had letters to answer about subjects she didn't really care about, why had she even meddled? It was time to get an unit again and go back to the battlefield. She might have never felt the veil, but the joy and focus, the fluid exhilarating dance of battle cleared her mind like nothing else.

Tyra Andrasta Bluelake

As Tyra left Goriad and Aylwin to relive old days and sign peace between the realms, she wondered if Aylwin would be able to fulfill Aldrakar's dream of bringing other people into the Hegemony.

She wandered the city, feeling the loss of her first friend, crazy as her last days had been, and a few other losses as well.

Her mind was fuzzy. She had letters to answer about subjects she didn't really care about, why had she even meddled? It was time to get an unit again and go back to the battlefield. She might have never felt the veil, but the joy and focus, the fluid exhilarating dance of battle cleared her mind like nothing else.

22nd July

Winter Day -- Poryatu

Bennet Selemnir

Bennet spat out a tooth. Another one in service to the realm

The battle was won, or close enough. The cost to his men and his mouth, apparently, would be paid in full.

"Haldred!" he called. His longstanding captain came in with all haste and clicked his heels formally. He knew his lords temer.

"Draft a letter my friend. This is a mess."

William Fitz Roberts

William sat at a table in a courtyard of his villa in Poryatown, busily working at his designs and plans. He had moved out of his stuffy study for the cool sea breeze found in the courtyard and to watch his daughters train. He was in deep discussion with his architect, Andrea Bentivoglio, as well his principal portraitist, Guidobaldo Vitelli, about his grand design for the renovations of the area of the city he had been granted by Matthew. However, he couldn’t help but occasionally look up from his work and stare in awe at his daughters at their work. He had never seen anything like it. All Fitz Roberts had been trained from a young age to fight, but as far as he was aware none had shown such raw innate skill as the two children that he saw before him. Even Antonia had not been this good at this age and she was the best of her generation.

It seemed that Karl had finally recognised the prowess of the twins for, rather than pairing them off with their cousins, he had set them against some of the Bravi. This was not unusual, but this tended not to happen in the family until the child in question was ten. They certainly were not winning against the Bravi they had been paired off against, but then they certainly were not losing either. William smiled at that and returned to his papers. In a few weeks, with a lot of hard work and discipline, they might even start winning. He had every confidence in the two children who would one day replace him as head of the family.

He looked up as his wife came out of one of the doors to the courtyard and handed him a letter, her usually smiling face grim. William took it and read quickly, his face showing no emotion. He sat back a moment, contemplating his options. Quickly, he penned a response and handed it to one of the servants who ran off

‘I guess I shall be fighting sooner than I had intended’ He sighed before turning to his companions, ‘it seems gentlemen that we shall have to postpone these renovations for quite some time, my services are needed in the field once more’

Matthew Coffey

It was not long for yet another message to arrive at the Fitz Roberts compound, this time brought by a doughy elderly man with a stern demeanour. He bore the arms of house Coffey.

"His majesty will see you, if you deign to visit, sir William." A tired drone, though it appeared to be more by choice than by fatigue.

Meanwhile, in White Hall, the court was at a standstill. Whispering gentry and beleagured servants plied their trades but seemingly aimless. Nothing was being accomplished at any great pace, or at all. It was as if the entire palace of Earth Hall had been left to its own devices and leaderless. Such couldn't be a truer assessment of the situation.

Matthew sat in his room, alone, pouring over the stacks of letters that had passed these few weeks. He had barely left, ever since he arrived back from Askileon Purlieus. Weeks cooped up in the Hall had taken its toll, and the usually vibrant young King had been reduced to a hunched, baggy-eyed sack of pity. 'Fear of assassins', the court would whisper. 'Fear of the Emperor', guards would jest from their posts. It was common knowledge that Renodins own men still acted as the militia of the city, and they made it clear that fact was remembered daily. The Coffey household guard was scant, no more than ten at most, acting dutifully in their Kings absence. Yet despite all this, the administration that was passed by the Kings quarters was slipped back under the door, completed and ready to be sent out. The letters that were passed through were answered, and given orders to be spread about purposefully.

His latest missive had been to William, who he expected soon. The King mustered himself as best he could, requested a servant prepare his quarters and have him brought fresh clothes. The crown sat, dejected and discarded upon the mans bed. A testament to a broken will. Casting a sidelong glance at the crown, Matthew sighed. How did it all come to this? Scooping up his paraphernalia, he seated himself out on the balcony, overlooking the city of Poryatown. Awaiting his guest.

William Fitz Roberts

William riles up the crowd

As William walked from his estate to White Hall he heard the great proclamation of new emperor being read out by an imperial herald

‘Ah’ He said to his companions, ‘the news has finally reached the common sort’

‘… the new Emperor is therefore proclaimed Alywin I, long may he reign’

The crowd cheered this, but many turned as William snorted at this proclamation. One man, a blacksmith by the look of him, looked at William quizzically

‘Have you something to say my lord?’

‘Indeed I do’ William said, walking through the crowd, pointing to individuals in the crowd, ‘You, good sir, you, good madam, are you happy with this new Emperor?’

‘Aye, m’lord’ they all responded

‘Well then, perhaps I can shine some truth on this matter. Why do you support Alywin?’

‘He drove the tyrant Isabella from the throne, m’lord’ one woman shouted

‘Aye, and many other nobles were prepared to do so. They and Alywin all shared the same goal. Save one. All those who offered to rebel, such as lord Donald, were to step down as soon as Isabella was dead. Alywin, in contrast, decided to hold a weighted referendum asking whether he should step down.’ As William reached the herald’s stand, he looked up to the man. ‘If I may?’ The herald looked like he was going to refuse, but seeing the size of William decided better of it. William got up on the stand and looked out over the crowd, which was getting bigger

‘This new emperor is legitimate under law. Rebellions are legitimate in Luria if they are successful. But the actions of the emperor post his coronation are far from legitimate. He broke Lurian law and customs when he appointed himself king without consulting the other royals. He broke Lurian law and tradition when he appointed the Imperial Marshal without consulting the peerage. He has no respect for Lurian law and customs. And given what he is, it is small wonder that he has no respect for Lurian law and customs’ At this last, William pointed to a man in the crowd, ‘You, there, what are you?’

‘I am Phrycian, sir’

William pointed to another ‘and you?’

‘I am Aestian’

‘I am Tekian’

‘I am Pianese’

The cries rang out

‘And what are you after you are Aestian, Phrycian, Tekian or Pianese?’

‘Poryatun?’ A man said quizzically

‘Yes, but after that we are…?’

‘Lurian!’ A man towards the back shouted.

‘Yes, we are Lurian’ William roared, raising his arms

‘Lurian, Lurian, Lurian, Lurian!’ the crowd called out

‘But you know what the Emperor is, do you know what the new Imperial marshal is?’

He had them now, William knew. He could say anything and they would follow him

‘Astrumese! They are both Astrumese’

The crowd roared in outrage at this revelation

‘It was under Aldrakar that the Astrumese began to take over Luria. Invited by him, he gave them positions and responsibilities denied to good true Lurians. It was they who drove the anti-Earth Hall sentiment that spread around Luria. It is their fault that Luria is collapsing, they care the cause of all your misery. The proof? Look now, the new Emperor, an Astrumist, appoints an Astrumist to the most important military position. He is filling the courts, the army and the temples with Astrumese scum. This must end, must it not?’

‘Yes!’ roared the crowd

‘I call for the expulsion of all Astrumese councillors from Luria! In fact, any and all Astrumists should leave! They have corrupted Luria! Their filthy barbaric blood has tainted our good Lurian blood! They must be cast out, they must be expelled from our lands, lest we be destroyed by the northern menace.’

The crowd roared, fully turned by William’s words. ‘Hey, she’s Astrumese!’ One man shouted, pointing to a young woman who was trying to sneak away. Instantly, the crowd leapt on the woman and began to march down the street, chanting death to Astrum

William turned to Josef, formally his captain but now commander of the militia

‘These people will believe anything’

‘Aye sir, should we put an end to it’

‘Certainly not, let them spread havoc’

With that William turned and continued on to the White Hall

Nicholas Archival

Nicholas strode through the corridors of White Hall. Since the revelation of the plots and schemes, Matthew's palace had become his second home. It was from there he issued his letters and continued his work as a courtier, secure from the prospect of that dreaded knife in the dark. A death in service of the empire he could always have countenanced; perhaps he would die honourably, struck down on the field of battle. But a death at the hands of the empire... that he could not allow for himself.

Though he remained straight-backed and straight-laced, his rigid decorum unsullied, the weight of the strain bore down on him. Staedtler, the man who had ever been his closest friend, had been quietly replaced by the goblet that his attendant bore for him, filled to the brim with its crimson liquid. But this time there was not one goblet, but a number. With that, in that familiar and warm haze of wine, he arrived at the doorway he intended. A number of Rendorian soldiers - the last of their number - blocked his passage.

"Inform King Matthew that Nicholas is here to see him," he sighed. Formality had fallen into an extended slumber.

A guardsman sneered, and moved indoors to inform the King of Earth's Hall of his visitor.

Matthew Coffey

"Nicholas you say?" The King quizically asked the guard. "Not who I was expecting... Send him in. And let William enter when he arrives, no need to hold him up."

Hailing over one of the servants that still loitered in his quarters, he requested they make ammendments to his previous request and fetch some wine as well as beer. He hadn't spoken to Nicholas as much as one might have thought, in fact, they had exchanged letters whilst working within the same Hall. Have we become so paranoid as to refuse our own guests? Our own friends...

His thoughts trailed off as the former Magistrate entered, to which Matthew bid him to sit at his table, overlooking Poryatown.

"Come, sit. Share with me what you have to say, I'll hear it."

Nicholas Archival

As one of the servants scurried past in search of beverages, Nicholas shrugged, before waving off his own attendant. No doubt it would be easier for Matthew if they were drinking from goblets he knew to untainted by would-be murderers. Wrapping his amber cloak about his shoulders, he stepped forward into the room - and, at Matthew's invitation, took a seat at the table.

"I thought we might toast to the future of Luria," he remarked, with a smirk that was neither warm nor humorous. "Did you know I won Isabella's popularity referendum?"

At the conclusion of his words he grimaced, and it brought into contrast his current condition. Dark rings circled his eyes, he had lost weight, and he was clearly already merry with drink, so early in the day. But he was ever a man characterised by his rigidity, and he would break before he bent.

Matthew Coffey

"To Luria." The King mimed raising a glass at that, offering a weak smile to his companion. "Really now? Well we better hurry to the capital, we have to proclaim you Emperor and all that."

Matthew paused, giving Nicholas a brief look over. "You look well, I trust the hospitality of my household has been both open and warming to you? I can't say much for it these days. Most of them left, you know? The court. Soon as Isabella declared her rebellion, if you can even call it that." He sighed, drawing a hand down his face as he leaned back in his chair. "I figure they believed the rumours, that we would secede and rebel ourselves. Can't blame them I suppose. Just seeing to their own hides as we all do. I hope they drink and eat well in Giask now."

His speech ended abruptly. Either he had nothing else to say, or did not know how to say it.

Nicholas Archival

Nicholas chuckled gently at Matthew's words, before taking a long gulp from a goblet that had been provided to him. It was no time for frugality, and he savoured a rich flavour that would no doubt be lost to him soon enough.

"I imagine I look about as well as you do," he replied wryly. "The guards of White Hall have kept me alive and its servants have kept me in a fitting condition to cope with this madness, so I cannot have any complaints. Nor can I complain about your court fleeing to the winds. It seems half the realm thought we were vicious traitors - not that I understand it even now."

The erstwhile magistrate fell into a silence of his own for a moment, brooding over his drink while he looked out to Poryatown and its streets below.

"Did you think it would come to this, Matthew? I remember our enthusiasm and eagerness to serve. The way I speak about it makes us sound like old men, but we are barely more than youths. But years of this will do that, I suppose."

William Fitz Roberts

William walked briskly up the steps of the keep, waving the guards aside as he came into the room where Matthew and Nicolas were drinking and seemingly wallowing in their sorrows

‘Hello, what’s up? Drowning your miseries? We should be seeing this as an opportunity. For one, I hear D’hara is even warmer than Giask. However, I do believe my cousin Titos is not keen on boats so an island nation may give him anxiety’ William grabbed a chair, bringing it round so the back was at his front and poured himself a drink

‘So then, what’s the plan? I mean, supposedly the referendum shows that you should be Emperor. Maybe we should proclaim you such and be the Imperialists in exile?’

Nicholas Archival

Nicholas glanced up, bleary-eyed, toward William. He waved him over with a short gesture, before returning to his wine.

"I think it most apt to say we're commiserating," he said, loosing a breathy exhale. "Opportunity or not, the three of us have exerted ourselves beyond reason to serve loyally. I do not like wasted efforts."

With that, he called over a nearby servant, who promptly refilled his goblet.

"Much as I want to entertain the notion, the referendum was made by a madwoman and the realm didn't take it seriously... but more than that, I wouldn't want to be like King Karibash; the barbarian who pretends he's still a monarch."

He sneered in derision. The drink was bringing out a more caustic approach to his conversation.

William Fitz Roberts

William listened to Nicholas’ words, sipped the wine, grimaced, threw the glass to the floor and called for ale.

‘That is a more than fair position. Looking at potential places to go, D’hara has just as many cities we do but a quarter of the nobles. It will not be difficult to find places for all of us. I have already given orders for my household to be packed up if things do not go the way we wish’

Leif Wilkins

A Seat of Thorns, A Game of Thrones

The most painful seat,

Is surrounded by distrust and deceit,

When a man seeks to give,

Some his selflessness grieve,

Ragged quills and sore hearts,

Write franticly in loose parts,

A seat of thorns digs in deep,

A seat that the man wishes not keep,

A game of thrones it becomes,

No respect, love or embrace,

A man is disrespected for grace,

We must come together,

Or we shall face deep red nether.

Winter Evening -- Poryatu

Nicholas Archival

Nicholas hummed. "D'Hara--"

The door to Matthew's quarters swung open, stopping the Earl mid-sentence. A courier briskly strode in, bearing a new set of letters, and promptly announced: "Following the realm's protests, Emperor Aylwin Gottfried has stepped down from the Imperial Throne of Luria Nova."

As the courier left once again, he pinched the bridge of his nose. "Everything conspires to keep us here, just as we prepared to forge our new path. What now?"

William Fitz Roberts

As predicted, William smiled to himself

‘The false king still has votes and the people of Giask will not have their numbers counted in the votes either. I am pleased the dog is gone from power, but he might still be elected again and he will claim even more legitimacy’ William leaned forward in his chair

‘I say if you are not made Emperor and immediately implement a split of the realm then we continue as planned and leave for a better realm to pledge our service to’

Nicholas Archival

"There are no more pretences and so I'll be honest," Nicholas began, straightening up on his chair. "I am the best choice remaining to us, but would Luria see it the same way?"

He gave a shrug, and sipped from his goblet. "I don't know. I would be mad to drink from that particular chalice, though perhaps I may offer myself yet."

With that, he turned his focus to Matthew, awaiting the thoughts of the King.

Tohrm Elrath

Tohrm sat within an office inside the still being renovated monastery. There was so very much to do since he had returned from his meeting with Solomon. To say recent affairs weighed heavily on the knight would be a gross underestimation.

And now, more than one monumental task he had taken upon himself. To record the turmoil in full so it was not lost to the ages. To recover greater truths from his faiths surviving documents. Whats more, his own liege and many he trusted within the realm had voiced their intent to leave the realm if their expectations... nay, demands were not met. Yet again, sweeping political statements had earned Tohrm and his fellow Lurians in Earth Hall further ire from the rest of the nobility. Lines were being drawn, whether directly or otherwise, that much was clear.

It was disruptive, worrisome, the very fact it had all led to this moment was, almost beyond words.

Tohrm smiled to himself despite his fears.

For he knew that this was the right course. The true course for Luria. Many had called for action to replace inaction. Many called for stability to take hold of the realm, and only further instability was ahead of them. At least for the short term. Only time would tell. Though whether the next Emperor could hold the throne for more than a few days was also under question.

Tohrm hoped it would not come to drastic measures, but he already suspected a civil war loomed in Lurias future. Still he heard nothing from the other realms of Dwilight, which further excentuated his uneasiness.

Tohrm cleared his troubled mind with a healthy mouthful of his favourite port. He then set himself to ordering all the letters and correspondence he had accumulated. This, would take a while...

Matthew Coffey

Matthew had remained silent, tapping his chin in thought as he considered the situation. It had all become so complex, and the letters he had been receiving even during this meeting only made it more so. The realm was alive, but was it enough? That was a question he had been mulling over for a while now.

"Let us be clear here." He turned his attention from the city to his companions. "If Luria chooses the wrong Emperor, it will either mean further stagnation, rebellion, civil war or more mass protests..." He trailed off, mouthing something under his breath. A moment later, he continued abruptly. "If Luria chooses the right Emperor, it could still mean all of those things." Finally throwing up his hands in frustration, the young King barked a laugh. "What are we to do, hrm? Let us think now. Who could potentially run for the Imperial seat, win it, and not completely finish off the realm..." He began to count off on his fingers as he listed a few names; "Nicholas, Zajar, Donald, Kaguya, Bennet, Tyra, Ciarghuala, Staedtler and myself." Then he reversed the process, curling back his fingers as he went through. "Nicholas is too involved in Earth Hall, Zajar would probably do a good job but is still an old warhorse, Donald is... Donald, Kaguya is unaffiliated and might find it hard to win Luarin and Cador, same goes for Bennet; Tyra is a scion of Andrasta so might win through there although I doubt she'd even contemplate running, Ciarghuala wouldn't run in the first place and Staedtler hasn't responded to the realm for some time now." He waved it all off, sighing. "And I don't have to speak for myself I imagine, that'd just start a civil war immediately."

Looking between the two, the rotund man spoke plainly. "What do you think? Considering that's just the Imperial candidature, not to speak of the hordes of monsters heading our way or the Empires food situation."

Nicholas Archival

Though still encompassed by the warm embrace of his wine, the conversation seemed to have roused some focus in Nicholas once again. He listened to Matthew attentively, weighing the man's words as they were due.

"I can only agree; Luria is in line for some exceedingly hard times regardless of the outcome of the election. While the armies sat in Giask and Askileon to oust one woman, the monsters made more inroads."

He shook his head with a sigh, making it abundantly clear what he thought of that particular situation, before continuing.

"I intend to run for the position, though I cannot say whether it will lead to any success. If not me, Donald might be the worthiest choice... though no doubt he would immediately instigate the four-way split, and doom his own Sun Hall in the process. I think I could compromise on Tyra, but I have the feeling it's not in her nature to reach so high. But it may just be that I am exhausted; all likely options seem equally bleak. We'll just have to see how the election ends."

Tyra Andrasta Bluelake

In her quarters at the Imperial Palace of Askileon, sleeping on her fur bed on the floor, Tyra started stirring and shaking with a nightmare.

It wasn't the usual thing, though. This time she was chased by a giant crown, rolling the streets of the Silver City, smashing first the dead, Bloodless body of Isabella, then rolling over the valiant, sword in wrist Aylwin, bouncing from a merchant's cart, with Zajar getting out of its way, the crown tangled into clotheslines, horse carts, fish nets, eventually rolling into and absorbing soldiers and horses and houses as she ran, ran, and ran straight into the Imperial Palace. When she finally left the palace through the other side, looking upon the sea, the huge crown had now picked up the imperial palace itself, the local temples and a few townhouses. It kept coming. She saw the water below, climbed the parapet and jumped.

Tyra woke up with her heart racing and panic coursing through her veins. Looking around, the warrior could see she hadn't smashed anything this time. She turned, wrapped herself further in her furs, and furiously closed her eyes, trying to ease back into sleep.

23rd July

Winter Day -- Poryatu

Solomon Greybrook

A Tavern near Lower Askileon

Like how the sun rose everyday, so did Solomon's troubles. After dressing himself and leaving his quarters where his unit had stationed themselves in Askileon Purlieus, Solomon ventured into the town. Situated near Lower Askileon, it would only be half a days travel to reach the new capital.

Nevertheless, despite the horrors that roamed the countryside, the populace were cheerful. There were peasants and traders displaying their wares or attempting to sell the surplus of the recent harvest in an attempt to take advantage of the dwindling food situation that was seen throughout the empire. Sitting down in a local tavern without establishing his noble heritage, he hoped to understand how the populace lived during these times.

The tavern must of been renovated recently, the wood seemed to be of a higher quality in comparison to other taverns and stalls down the street. Even the tables held a distinct personality to them. However, as expected, there was the odd carving illustrated on and underneath the table.

Heldas & Gloria was the largest inscription on the table that he sat on. However, what took his interest was the rather elaborate carving underneath. Getting off his chair, he peered under the table. There, he saw a rough but detailed depiction of a city burning in flames with disproportionate peoples laughing at the city. While it failed to truly depict the exact nature of whom these people were, the cloaks and rather poor attempts of scratching jewelry on these persons indicate whom they were framing...

"Excuse me!" A rather quaint voice pierced his ears and forced Solomon to peer above the table-side. "I do not know who you are but even in here there is decency!"

A woman, slightly older than himself, attempted to stand authoritatively in-front of Solomon. With brown braided hair, freckles and typical bar maid's attire of dark cloths and a slightly dirtied white cloth, she put down her tray and put her hands on her hips.

"I do not want no trouble from mercenaries or whatever noble's unit you come from. However, if you behave yourself, you may actually have some breakfast!" While illustrating her experience with dealing with soldiers and other sorts, Solomon could see the creeping of red colour into her cheeks. With a smile, Solomon stood himself up, brushed himself down and made a request of the maid:

"I do not want to cause any trouble. I was merely intrigued by the scratching made on your table. Regardless, I would like to pay for some breakfast. I am in a rush so can I pay a few silvers for the food before it comes?" Solomon's voice came out rather coarse. However, some drink would hopefully help with that.

With a defiant look within her dark brown eyes, which could be compared to a oak tree, she snapped back with a answer:

"One Silver will get you Breakfast and something to wash it down with to your standards. You better pay up soldier."

With a quick turn, the woman walked off to the barkeep.

How the populace lived and treated each other was rather a shock at first when he was younger. While there is always formalities which Solomon lived by, to truly escape for half an hour and to see how the people he fought for lived, one would have to forgive such formalities. In a way, it was refreshing. Looking around the tavern, there were a few travelers or traders that were going about their own business. Peering around the tavern, in the corner, a figure caught his eye. With a little more effort, he saw the lone man. Slightly older than himself, he held a stump on his right arm with bandages rather weathered and stained in blood.Through Solomon's experience, he knew where that man had obtained that injury - so did everyone else who saw the man whom was only a few hours away from the site.

When the nobility rebel, it is the populace whom suffer the most.

This snapped Solomon back to reality. The underlying tension which was seen by the illustrations, the lone man or even how the barmaid treated him indicated that this Winter could attribute to the well being of Luria herself and it's long term future.

With this in mind, Solomon took some silver out of his pouch, put it on the table and walked out of the Tavern with a mind more frustrated and confused than ever.

25th July

Winter Day -- Poryatu

Leif Wilkins -- University of Dwilight Introduction to Art

Looking Past The Medium

In the world of art, there are no limits to the medium one may choose. Some may choose metal, others may choose marble, and a handful may choose words. All of these materials can be shaped to express the artist's spirit. Art is the language of our soul, and the nature of art is to materialize that which we cannot express through formal speech or behaviour.

Once a person understand this, they can become an artist. An apprentice in art will often be short sighted, forging one word at a time, removing small chips of marble, or hammering a piece of steel. What makes one a true master, is one's ability to look past the medium. One who can see the statue inside the marble mass, has naught to do but to simply expose it. One who knows the art of forging steel has naught to do but to shape it. One who knows the core of the message, has not to do but to speak it. An artist that is able to look right through the medium in which they work, and see the soul of their creation, is a true master.

To achieve this level of mastery one must practice their craft, and focus on the goal - allowing everything else to be simple repetition.

Winter Evening -- Poryatu

Alessio de Medici

Alessio took the carriage up to the seemingly-vacant estate. A large sign reading Hero's Rest had appeared near the road, as the horses travelled up the cobbled road. Outside, stood a lone man: he wore a dark-coloured uniform, though Alessio could not tell for what. He had grey hair, had begun balding, and had a very large nose. He turned his eyes away from the man and back to his family within the carriage - his wife, Andrea, and his triplets, Luca, Lena and Lisa, all aged six. He smiled, as he so often did. There was not a thing in the world he would trade his beloved family for.

The carriage door opened, and one by one, they stepped onto the cobbled path - a comfortable estate stood before them. It was little compared to the family estate on the borders of Giask, but it was certainly beautiful. Clay barrel tiles filled the roof of the estate, with a symmetrical façade. There were two chimneys, given this nature. The windows on the upper level were square, as well as the doors to the balcony, and the eaves had a wide overhang with decorative brackets. On the main level, all the windows were arched, as well as the doors behind the line of columns.

Alessio was no hero, but here he would surely rest.

26th July

Winter Day - Poryatu

Sholan A'Valti

"Fat Chance of that though..." Sholan mumbled as he sealed his letter to the new Emperor. Hopefully this one would stave of the rebllion and infighting among the nobiltiy without protest. Anything was possible.

Seasons like this were why he didn't miss the Throne. He'd rather be asked to bring blade against neighbors than his fellow Lurian, but hope held that there would be no more talk of rebellion. Things would proceed as they had always been planned, and uneventfully at that.

No promises could be made, as fearsome their loyalties are - Lurians are nothing if not unpredictable...

Veronica Gardarr

Askileon, Luria Nova, Dwilight

Weeks have gone by and Veronica had become used to the pitching and weaving of the Caravel she found herself a prisoner on … well maybe not a prisoner or that is to say against her will would be a better description.

She was still pouting at the injustice as she saw it, one day she was attending balls and banquets and the next her brother had whisked her away from Domus and she found herself boarding a ship from Fontan and on her way to Dwilight.

“It’s for your own safety he said, it’ too dangerous he said” Veronica mumbled to herself.

“What’s that my dear, still pouting?”

Veronica turned and glared at the speaker, her Guardian while she was exiled from her home.

“Your forget yourself Tess, I am in charge here, you best remember that” as she said that she felt a little bit guilty, Tess didn’t ask for this , she in fact was literally and figural in the same boat as she was. Veronica broke eye contact and sat down on her cot in her little cabin, picking up her hair brush she started brushing her hair.

“Now, now child, let me” Tess took the Brush from her and slowly started brushing. “ It won’t all be bad, it might seem that your world has come to an end but you will adapt , see it as a new adventure in a far away land”

“I guess, but I really miss home” replied Veronica.” I know my dear, I know, there all better” Tess handed her a small mirror “There look for yourself, very pretty just like your mother”

Veronica glared at her Seventeen year old face.

“LAND HO!!!!”

Veronica was off her bed and heading for the Cabin door when Tess grabbed her, “Oh no you don’t, here, take your cloak” Tess handed her a hooded cloak. “Why though?” Veronica exclaimed.” You know why, come now put it on”. Veronica grabbed at the cloak “Fine, not like anyone would know who I was”

Veronica twirled with the cloak. “There happy?”

“Hood Up, milady”

Sighing Veronica put the hood up “I hate you so” smiling Tess led the way to the Deck of the Watcher of the Waves.

Its Magnificent, Veronica couldn’t take it all in, tall Buildings grew even taller as the Watcher of the Waves grew closer to the docks, there were hundreds, no thousands it seemed to her people bustling to and fro. Smells of Fish, food, smoke and sweat wafted towards her as the ship made dock.

The noise was deafening “Wait here and don’t move” Veronica barely acknowledged her guardian as she made her way to the gangplank, sending a runner into the crowd. It was so much, and Veronica wanted to see and do it all.

Veronica didn’t know how long she was standing there, but coming out of her daze she noticed the Captain talking to Tess and most of the sailor’s busy unloading cargo and goods. Her entourage, which consisted of mostly Guards assigned to her by her brother was gathered at the docks and loading her baggage on a carriage.

“Well that’s done, you ready? “ Veronica’s head snapped to Tess. “Ready?”

“Oh Veronica, where is your head, to disembark Girl. Duke Gottfried has sent a carriage to take you to the estate your brother had made arrangements for”

Mentioning her brother of late was a sure way to get Veronica’s hackles up, but at the moment that didn’t seem to faze her. She slowly made her way of the ship still taking in all of the scenery; her guards in a nonchalant manner mirrored her movements until she found herself stepping into the carriage. Tess joined her and with a rap of the roof of the carriage it set out with her guards slowly jogging alongside it.

Veronica peered out of the carriage in awe as they made their way through the snaky roads; it was slow going as the streets were packed with people. “You mentioned and Estate Tess?”

“I did. Your brother made arrangements and Duke Gottfried was generous enough to make available the Pinean Chateau for your needs. We are almost there now; we will retire for the evening and wait upon the Dukes call for you to attend him at court”

Veronica sat back in the carriage seat and sighed. Court, in a foreign land amongst foreign Lords and Ladies. She didn’t look forward to it one bit.

Not one bit.

Winter Evening -- Poryatu

Kiran Mir-Ashtan

The Sunset Defence of Askileon Purlieus

The last three sunrises and sunsets had been endless battle. Maybe the beasts were growing smarter but a tactic they seemed to at least always employ like a animal hunting its prey was to attack as the sunrose or as the sunset. Maybe they knew their prey's vision would worsen making them easier targets. Kiran had bore witness to his unit being battered in Nid Tek to hold the frontline to protect the remaining Archer retinue's, this had also caused him minor injury but such was to be expected from serving in the front-ranks. He had been able to salvage this unit at the very least unlike the retinue he had lost during Vanguard efforts in Grodno. This sunset's fray would be worse than sunrises, many of the beasts seemed to be regrouping as further groups moved in from Cairin Tut and with a chunk of the active retinues off clearing the beasts from Nid Tek, it reduced their manpower on the Motte and Bailey's first defence line.

Kiran spent the time before the battle with his retinue, he had spent out the additional coin acquiring anything he could to better equip his retinue for the defence to come. Layering additional padding inside their armour or additional plates atop the armour. If the beast made it up and over the first defence line then it would be a disaster and thus Kiran had no intention of avoiding sparing expense with regards to his forces.

The beasts would begin their charge on the defences as the sun flickered behind the horizon illuminating the sky with reds and oranges, much like the floor would soon be. Kiran found himself somewhat disappointed that one of his fellow mixed infantry commands had decided not to take up front-line duty but hold to instead hold the rear but one did not have time to argue. Kiran and his Captain Ludwig had the retinue spread out along the peak of the motte, it would be an easier battle if they could keep the beasts in that kill box which was the motte and make clean up easier after the fray. Kiran would see to marking the missile targets for the Retinue's ranged specialist while Ludwig would handle the melee, at least at first. ... It was rather unfortunate that the first barrage of missile fire failed to scatter, any of the groups of beasts and soon enough the creatures were attempting to scramble up the slick motte towards the defenders. It was almost a blessing for Kiran's retinue as they had the creatures to the slaughter as they fought alongside the First Craint Vanguard under the Command of Vice Marshal Craint. Javelin's supported by any manner of melee weapon allowed the group to move around their Infantry support to drive the beast back off the Motte's peak before they could encroach any further. Though cries for aid and of pain were aplenty from human tongue, they managed to hold. The Ember Helms finally calling their tactical withdrawal carrying out their wounded as the beasts began to scatter back into the night.

27th July

Winter Day -- Poryatu

Roleplay from Emyhr le Craint (8 hours, 48 minutes ago) Message sent to everyone in "The Great Halls of Luria" (48 recipients) Sat in the courtyard of the outer bailey in Askileon Purlieus, Emyhr was making his way through the pile of letters that had accumulated while the battle has taken place. Taking a step back for a breather, Emyhr looked around at the gathering of soldiers that had returned from hunting monsters in the vicinity, many of them showing off their conquests with a collection of horns, skins and one had a giants big toe. The atmosphere was jovial with everyone wiping away the nerves of combat with stories and drinks. Emyhr didn't have much time to join in that day, there was much work to be done.

After a few minutes another messenger appeared at the fort, carrying yet another stack of letters, this time one of the letter stood out. This was bearing the royal seal of the kingdom of Earth Hall, it had been a while since Emyhr had received a personal missive from the king and immediately opened it. For a moment, his eyes seem to glow brighter than usual. He set the letter to one side and brought out a pen and some paper to begin writing. However, it could be seen that he was writing many letters. He handed one of the more official looking letters to the messenger and he sped off. Emyhr began writing another.


I have received some wondrous news, I have been appointed to the position of Earl of Nid Tek. As such, we must prepare to move. As it stands, Nid Tek is still under attack by monsters, therefore I am not expecting you to move right away. Waiting until the hordes have passed.

I realize I have little to none major possessions, however, what little I have I wish for you to pack up while I am away. Send word to the other attendants at the estate. Additionally, if you could include a few bottles of wine from the cellar we could prepare a celebration for when the monsters have cleared.

I wish for you to send word to a mother and child in a village nearby out estate. I wish for a girl named Johanna and her son Ottie to join us. I plan to offer them work within the new estate as there will be much that will be needed to be done and their assistance would be appreciated.

With regards,

Finishing the letter, he called to one of his scouts that was playing a card game with a couple of the soldiers.

"Take this letter to Bloodmoon manor in Poryatu and give it to the house attendant Alfred. This would be greatly appreciated."

Handing him a small pouch of silver coins, the scout rushed out the gate immediately. Seeing this, Captain Gustaf approached Emyhr who was once again buried in papers and letters.

"What has happened Sir? The scout ran off as if he had seen a monster approach."

Looking up, Emyhr smiled at the sight of his captain approaching. Grabbing a spare cup from the table he handed is to Gustaf who began to pour drinks for both Emyhr and himself.

"Ah Gustaf, it is good that you have come, I was about to call for you. It seems I have been granted the now vacant position of Earl of Nid Tek. I just sent word to Bloodmoon manor to begin the preparations for the move." Emyhr took a big swig from his drink. "However, for now we must deal with these monsters in our lands, come here, as you know I sent out our men to the locations that would provide shelter for the beasts."

Pointing at the map in front of the two, they began discussing tactics for the upcoming battle as the sun began to wane over the afternoon sky.

Veronica Gardarr

Veronica and Tess was sitting in the garden of the Chateau Pinean, the view was breathtaking, a calm wind was blowing from the ocean, there was a slight chill in the air , but for the most part it would be a wonderful day.

… That is if Veronica could actually stay awake.

“This city is so noisy Tess, how do the people stand it” Veronica’s muffled voice could be slightly heard from where she laid her head on her arms.

Tess raised an eyebrow “Very unlady like my dear, come now sit up, here’s breakfast.”

Veronica slowly sat up and brushed her hair out of her face. The servers placed some hot porridge, fruits, almond milk and some honey on the table. Veronica poked at her porridge with her spoon.

Veronica noticed the butler place a tray with papers in front of Tess. “What are those?”

“Hmmm, news of day, correspondence, declarations, letters and such” Tess murmured

“Oh … letters? anything for me?”

“As a matter of fact, yes, two of them”, Tess handed the letters to the Butler and he carried them over to Veronica and placed them at her side. Veronica moved her porridge to the far side of the table and picked them up.

The Butler, cleared his throat “If I may Milady, this one, as he pointed to one of the letters bares the crest of House Wilkins, I believe it to be from Lord Leif Wilkins, Imperial Magistrate of Luria Nova.”

Veronica turned the letter in her hands muttering “Imperial Magistrate”

She broke the seal and removing the letter read it. “Oh Tess, the Magistrate has invited me to his Estate for …” quickly looking up at Tess, she continues “tea, he says he is currently marching to fight hordes of un-dead and monsters. That can’t be right Tess, there are no such things. Bandits sure, dressed in rags covered in filth yes, I once saw my brother hang some in Aestus, and I can imagine why the people would think them monsters but they are fairy tales and long stories definitely not real.”

“Yes dear” Tess murmured while still reading through the stacks of decrees.

Veronica folded the letter and placed it aside, picking up the second.

“Ahh Milady, now this is special” the Butler seemed very pleased. “That is the Crest of King himself, King Aylwin Gottfried, King of the Moon Hall” the butler was now positively beaming with pride.

At mention of the King even Tess seemed more attentive. “Well child open it up”

Veronica slowly broke the seal and started reading. With a squeal she jumped from her chair. Tess almost fell back and Veronica’s Guards went rigid where they were standing in the garden.


“The King is going to hold a banquet, I will need a new dress, Tess we need to go to shops, what colour am I going to wear. There is no date, but we have to get the fabrics if I am to have it made.”

Tess sat back down and the guards around the garden relaxed. Sighing Tess just looked at her ward.

I have to send a reply, and to the Magistrate as well. Lifting her skirts, Veronica dashed back into the Chateau. Two guards shadowing her as she disappeared into the Chateau.

Tess was drumming her fingers on the table when the Captain of the guard approached.

“Milady, this was also with the dispatches, I took it upon myself to remove it from the others.” He handed Tess a missive.

It Read.

New Army Assignment

Your liege, King Aylwin Gottfried, has assigned you to the Emperor's Will.

“Milady, Emperor’s Will, is the army of the Moon Court” the Captain Noted

Tess placed the missive with the other dispatches, “Very Well captain, please make arrangements for us to go into The City later today.”

“As you command Milady”

“And Captain no need to inform the young miss about her army duty just yet.” The Captain nodded to Tess as he left the garden.

Tess packed up the reports and headed into the Chateau. I was going to be an eventful day it seemed.

Winter Evening -- Poryatu

Veronica Gardarr

Askileon, Luria Nova, Dwilight

Late Afternoon / Early Evening

As the Carriage came to a halt at Chateau Pinean, the footman barely had time to stop before the carriage door opened and Veronica jumped out. Behind her Tess was surrounded with packages, bolts of silk , trinkets and whatever caught the eye of the young Lady Gardarr.

"Come on Tess, I cant wait to choose the colors of the dress"

Tess glared at Veronica, "Dress?!? you bought enough Silks for ten dresses"

Veronica shrugged. The footman by know had enlisted the help of the Chateau servants and they had made enough space for Tess to make her exit from the carriage. "The bankers of Askileon are going to love the Lady Gardarr" Tess murmured.

Veronica tilted her head and with a faint smile said "Serves my brother right, what's he going to do?" Veronica's eyes followed the servants as they unpacked the carriage.

"Ooh the green silk" she said as a servant took it inside "So we ready to get started?"

With a sigh , Tess said "Patience child, there is more than enough time"

Before Veronica could go on another tirade, the Chateau's butlers must have seen Tess's Patience wearing thin, because he stepped in.

"Ah beg your pardon Milady, another letter arrived for you why you where out."

Veronica's eyes lit up, "Oh who is it from?" So engrossed was she with the new letter she didn't even notice the careful prodding of Tess into the Chateau. She soon found herself in the parlor still tracing the faint lines of the heraldry on the seal.

"Alas Milady, i do not recognize this Heraldry, but i do believe it is from a young Knight recently arrived in the City." the butler commented.

"A knight in shining armor, how exiting" She broke the seal and started reading the letter"

With a frown she tilted her head and said "It is from a Knight, Alessio de Medici, but i hardly understand anything of it, it seems to be a list of Guilds in the City. The Great Halls of Luria, The Dwilight University, The Royal Rangers and the Grand Pantry, The Ordo Leonis and the Ordo Vulpes."

"I don.t know what any of this means, he goes on to say we must march to war to face monsters." Looking up at Tess she said, "With all these guilds in Askileon, one would have thought there would be one to cater to Knights so wounded in battle they would have time to rest and come to their senses, before being sent to war again. Yes, i have decided as a lady of the court i will write to this poor Knight and insist he accompany me to a reputable healer, so i can make arrangements for his care."

Tess made quick eye contact with Veronica's Captain of the Guard, before saying "Yes dear, you can do that later, lets take a look at those silks shall we"

"O Yes", Veronica said in glee.

With the ladies busy with their silks, Robert the Butler noticed a maid motion him from outside of the parlor, stepping out of the parlor and closing the doors behind him he asked " Yes?"

"There is a messenger here to see the Lady, Robert?"

"Have you lost your wits girl, take the message and send him on his way" They young maid shook her head in the negative. "Not this one Robert, please you must come, your most senior, please Robert, i asked him to wait in the reception room" They way she was distressed bothered him. "Very well, i will see to him, now now, calm yourself"

"Thank you Robert" With that she made her way to the kitchens very hastily.

Robert looked at her one more time and headed to the reception room. As Robert entered the reception room he immediately noticed this was no ordinary messenger, his trained eye immediately caught the white chevalier emblazoned on the breast of the messenger.

Robert tilted his head in respect "Welcome to Chateau Pinean, current residence of the Lady Veronica Gardarr."

The messenger removed a letter from his tunic,"I have here a letter from Nicholas Archival, Suzerain Emperor of Luria Nova, Royal of Luria Nova, Marshal of the Amelioration Brigade for the Lady Gardarr." Even knowing the messenger from his embroidery, hearing the words flustered him somewhat. "Is the Lady of the Chateau available to receive the letter?" the messenger asked.

Now Robert has been doing his job for a long time and he has served many Nobles, and from the few days he had spent in the company of the Lady Gardarr, he knew if he let this messenger deliver the letter to her directly , the scene she would make would spread like wildfire in the Askileon.

"Alas the Lady Gardarr is currently indisposed, be assured, i will make sure she gets the letter as soon as she is available".

"As you wish" the messenger handed Robert the letter and with a bow made his exit from the Chateau.

Robert tentatively held the letter and made his way to the Parlor.

Silently opening the door he stepped in and looked at the young Lady Gardarr surrounded by all the silks she had bought, the Lady Tess seemed to be at wits end.

"Oh Robert, what do you think about this Blue silk?" she asked him."Very lovely Milady, the Blues would suit you."

She frowned as she placed it aside and picked up the Lilac colored Silk. Robert knew now was as good as any time. "Milady, another letter arrived."

"Hmm, oh is it from another poor Knight, i almost forgot i need to write that other Knight and make arrangements for his care , poor thing"

"No Milady this is one is from the Emperor of Luria Nova, himself"

It had been a long time since Robert had seen someone move so fast, once second he was holding the letter the next the Lady Gardarr had snatched it and was reading it out loud.

Lady Veronica,

Allow me to offer my personal welcome to Luria Nova. You arrive to us as we depart from a period of turbulence, and now I hope you shall join us in looking forward to the future and to a prosperity that shall benefit us all.

I would be interested in seeing you at the Imperial Court in the coming days. Though I have not the same time for leisure as I once did, I am ever interested to meet with those who arrive at our shores.

I look forward to meeting you.


Nicholas Archival

Suzerain Emperor of Luria Nova

Royal of Luria Nova

Marshal of the Amelioration Brigade

Robert expected something ,anything ,but what he got was totally unexpected.


With that she dropped the letter and dashed out of the parlor up the stairs , slamming the door of her room. Her crying heard all the way to the parlor.

Tess was messaging her temples "Oh that Girl, what am i to do with her?"

Robert had no comment so he just made arrangements to cleanup up the parlour.

Jackson Wolfbane

As the sun goes down over the green fields of Nid Tek, Jackson sat silently in the midst of foliage silent and waiting. With a flash of white, a small creature darted from a nearby bush. Jackson's eyes immediately locked to the creature, unaware of his presence Jackson began to move. Bringing out his small blade, he silently approaches the feeding animal. With one quick swift motion, the animal fell to the floor.

"Another one added to the list?" His sister, Cecilia, calls through the forest. Jackson stands and turns to his sister.

Coming out from another bush, a tall slender woman with flowing white hair, tied neatly in a small bun. She walks elegantly to Jackson, however carrying a small animal in one hand.

"Can't be too surprised nowadays, we have to hunt for everyone, don't we? We may not be the same as the commoners, but to provide for them is a noble cause." Jackson laughs. He stands, towering over his sister, with the animal in hand and his short white hair still in the calm winds.

"We'll need to take this load back to Orna though, you seem to have made a mess of your batch." Cecilia laughs, while turning towards the village of Fairfield and, while silent yet elegant, walks back to their home. Jackson mocks her vocally, and heads back with her.

28th July

Winter Day -- Poryatu

Veronica Gardarr

Askileon, Luria Nova, Dwilight

Early Morning

Tess was standing in the garden, occasionally glancing up at the second story where Veronica's room was, the curtains were drawn. Veronica had not left the room since the previous evening. The box only made matters worse.

"Captain, did you dispose of the corpses?"

The Captain of Veronica's guard, Mikael motioned for Tess to follow him to the edge of the garden overlooking a drop leading to the ocean. "Yes, Milady. Seems some of the monsters made it over or around the wall. My men cut them down as they tried to scale the incline towards the Chateau."

Nodding Tess continued "And the Box?"

Captain Mikael frowned, "Also disposed of Milady, its is a good thing all packages delivered are screened in advance. I was able to convince the Lady Gardarr that the head sent to her by Knight Alessio de Medici was that of a malnutrition peasant with some birth defects. As you can imagine she was not pleased and sent him a scolding letter in return."

"Milady if i may?" Tess looked at the captain and nodded in the affirmative. "The Lady Veronica, is quite proficient with the bow, and she knows how to wield a dagger, sooner or later she will come to the realization that this place, Dwillight is not like East Island. It would be better if we prepared her for this now than wait for things to escalate further."

Tess stiffened up a bit, "I will take your advice under ... advisement. But for now, i believe i need to get that girl out of her room and busy again. Carry on Captain, i will send for you later, oh and Captain please make sure all future correspondence sent from Knight de Medici comes to me first"

"As you command Milady"

Glancing up at the shuttered windows, Tess made her way inside the Chateau. Robert was standing at the ready with a silver tray bearing yet again another stack of reports, and a sealed letter to the side.

"Morning Milady"

"Morning Robert, let me guess more intrigue from the realm, and is that a letter i see there."

With a smile Robert answered "Indeed Milady, and as for the letter it is of course addressed to the Lady Gardarr, if i may, it bears the seal of Lady Tyra Andrasta Bluelake, Countess of Grodno and Marshal of the Silver Hammer."

Tess was feeling a headache coming on "Well at least its not from some overbearing Knight again. I will take it upstairs, you can place the other reports in the parlor for now if you please Robert"

Robert, making a slight bow of his head left towards the parlor. Tess turned the letter over and was tempted to dispose of it but for a brief instance before making her way up the stairs.

Tess came to a stop in front of Veronica's door and trying to open it found it as expected bolted "Veronica dear, please come down breakfast is ready"

.. Silence ..

"Come now girl you cant stay locked up in there forever, it a new day. We have to get started on your dress ... the seamstress will arrive shortly. It wont do to have her waiting."

.. Silence..

With a sigh Tess looked at the letter in her hand, "I have a letter for you, its from the Lady Tyra Andrasta Bluelake, Countess of Grodno ..."

Bending down Tess slipped the letter under the door and made her way down the stairs to the parlor. She had barely sat down and picked up the reports when she heard pounding footsteps coming down the stairs. A few seconds later the parlor doors swung open and the disheveled figure of the Lady Gardarr was there in her full glory.

Her hair was knotted and unkempt, streaks of makeup on her face, the tears from the previous evening Tess suspected, and she was still in her wrinkled clothes from the previous day.

"What is wrong with this place Tess?!? First Magistrate Leif says hes is fighting a horde to the North, i assumed it to be barbarians or bandits"

A maid carried a washing basin into the parlor and another some clean clothes, another one some food on a platter. Behind them Robert closed the door to the parlor.

"Then i receive letters and a box containing the dismembered head of some poor malnutrition peasant from that oaf of a Knight Alessio. Oh he makes me so mad, claiming it was the head of a Goblin. Just wait till i get my hands on him ... or better yet maybe i should write his wife. She would understand that Knights don't send heads of peasants to Lady's of the court"

While this was going on the maids had started to undress the Lady Gardarr, who seemed oblivious to the fact. Another maid had started brushing her hair and gently wash her face with a cloth from the washing basin.

"And now" Veronica was still speaking even going as far as to try and wave the wash cloth from her face. "I receive a letter from a Countess. And she also claims that is is every Nobles duty to face monsters attacking the City. Has everyone gone mad? Oh Tess lets head back to East Island, we could go to Fontan...".

Tess had poured herself a cup of tea and was sitting back just watching Veronica. One of the maids had picked up fresh bun with lots of butter and had handed it to Veronica. Who took it without much thought and was slowly nibbling on it.

There was a knock at the parlor door, one of the maids poked her head out and opened it for the seamstress. Veronica was still nibbling on her bun as the seamstress start measuring her for her dress.

"Hmm, this is good, any chance for some honey", Veronica asked?

Alessio de Medici

Alessio pressed his thumb into the seal of the letter, cracking the wax sigil of the Medicis.

"My husband,

I hear tales of great battles in the north. Nid Tek, Askileon Purlieus, it goes on. I fear Shinnen, though, I must say - monsters parading in Shinnen Purlieus. Thank the gods that we are safe in Giask. We have finally settled into Hero's Rest, though your parents visit so often. Such should be expected when living so close. I have taken up the task of looking for household staff of our own. We have cooks and maids and a butler, but we should look into expanding. I have already got a blacksmith lined up and a tutor for our children, but shall not stop here.

Let me know how your battles are going. I recall you were nervous about putting your skills up against beasts. May your schianova serve you well.

Your loving wife,

Andrea de Medici"

Alessio look up from the letter and to Captain Jacqueline. "Good news, I hope?" she asks, passing over the scribe's kit. "I will take the men out hunting. We will be back in time for battle, if it comes."

He responds with a smile, bowing his head. "Wonderful news, Captain. Go out there and do me proud. I have a letter to write."

29th July

Winter Day -- Poryatu

Veronica Gardarr

Askileon, Luria Nova, Dwilight

Mid Morning

Veronica steeled herself and approached Captain Mikael, he was currently giving orders to some of the sentries, his back towards her. He was an imposing figure, a veteran of many battles in Highmarch, she usually would have left this to Tess, but after receiving a letter from the Countess Bluelake, she knew she had to do this herself.

At her approach the sentries deferred to her in respect and the captain glancing at her dismissed them. "Milady, how may i be of service?"

"Do you serve me Captain?" she asked

Mikael seemed to stiffen a bit before turning fully to her and giving her his full attention "Always Milady"

"Then explain the box! Explain why i have received confirmation from the very respected Countess Bluelake, that monsters and undead and all manners of foul creatures of the night are real and infest this land?"

Mikael noticed she was starting to get worked up as only the Lady Gardarr could, timid usually but fierce when pushed.

"Milady, i will not hold the truth from you anymore, yes ... this land is beset by hordes of creatures and the undead the likes East Continent had not seen in decades. As for the box, i will not apologize for keeping the sight from your eyes. But i do apologize deeply for keeping the truth from you, as to that truth it was indeed the severed head of what citizens of Dwillight refer to as a Goblin."

Captain Mikael unsheathed his sword and bending a knee held it up to Veronica. "Milady i offer you my sword as per House Gardarr traditions, shatter it and i will leave your service in dishonor, as is your right"

Veronica carefully took the sword from his hands and looked down upon him. The anger that was boiling a few minutes ago had already left her. "Oh, don't be silly, rise Captain and take your sword, silly men with your silly sword and silly traditions, all i want from you is the truth and your protection. I expect that in future you will spare me the sight of the unnecessary, but i demand that you not hold back for fear of hurting my feelings."

Mikael took his sword from her and standing said "You have my word Milady"

"Now about the Lady Bluelake, she made me a interesting proposition which i would like to discuss ..."

Before she could continue she noticed Robert the butler out of the corner of her eye, he was just standing out of ear shot.

"Oh Robert you waiting for me?" she asked as she stepped towards him. "Milady, forgive the intrusion, there are two messengers waiting in the reception room. Usually i would deal with them but one is from the King and the other from the Emperor, and it seems neither will leave without handing their letters directly to you milady, some sort of pride between the messengers, it seems." From the look on Robert's face he was not impressed by their attitude.

Veronica beamed "More letters from the King and the Emperor, how exciting."

"Indeed Milady" Robert replied.

Robert started to follow as she swept past him into the Chateau. Mikael already forgotten for now motioned for her guards to follow after.

The Lady Gardarr stepped into the reception room with a flourish, all smiles. "Welcome to Chateau Pinean, so sorry for making you wait".

The two messengers was taken aback by her enthusiasm. She noticed some refreshments had been placed but as yet untouched. "Oh how wonderful refreshments", she stepped over and picking up some plates she loaded them with food, turning she handed each messenger a plate. The Messengers where so shocked they just took it and tried to juggle the plates with the heaped food and their messages.

One of the messengers, had a letter and a small ornate case, since he was juggling the most Veronica decided to to help him by relieving him of his burden. "Oh poor dear so sorry let me help you with that."

Now there is an unspoken rule between messengers a sort of pecking order if you will, and Veronica had just turned that on its head as she unknowingly took the letter and ornate case from the Kings messenger first. In cases like this there was not much that could be done, but the Emperors messenger was staring daggers at the Kings messenger who had the largest smirk on his face.

"Oh how beautiful." The King had sent her a fine necklace consisting of rare gems cut from the Chrysantalys Mines. "Oh how wonderful the King says they change color depending on the light"

Holding the necklace up she turned and asked the messenger "Help me put it on please?"

The Messenger almost dropped his plate, "It would be an honor Milady" Veronica moved her hair to the side as the messenger took the necklace and closed the clasp firmly. Stepping back he quickly retrieved his plate where he put it on the end table.

Giggling Veronica turned and said, "Its gorgeous, i will have to thank the king when i see him at the banquet." Still looking at the necklace Veronica seemed to remember there was another messenger in the room.

"Oh how silly of me, you have a letter for me from the Emperor?" she asked the messenger.

"Yes, Milady. His Imperial Maje...." Before he could finish Veronica had snatched the letter from him and broken the seal and was reading the letter.

With her hand on her heart she slowly left the reception room reading the letter, deep in thought, the messengers totally forgotten.

The Kings messenger eating from the plate Veronica had given him shrugged and smiled slyly at the Emperor's messenger, who in turn placed his plate on the table and left the Chateau Pinean in a rush, leaving the Kings messenger with the biggest grin ever.

Nicholas Archival

The crown was a heavy thing. The weight of its storied history; the weight of the great men and women who had come before him; the weight of expectation and the pressures that accompanied them. It was enough to turn even the noblest mind queer, if one was not careful. Is this what changed Aldrakar so quickly?

He could almost understand the changes in his predecessor now, as he crossed the Imperial Throne Room and approached the throne that Aldrakar sat upon, while wearing the crown that Aldrakar bore. Observant eyes watched him from all corners of the room, as various members of the court and visitors parted aside to allow him an unfettered path.

With some finality, he reached the dais. A servant diligently moved forward to accept his cloak, before Nicholas took his seat. He shifted uneasily, before an enforced relaxation brought him still. He then looked ahead, to behold the palace that was now his. Hopefully it would not all come crashing down upon him.

Who would be the first to approach, he wondered.

Alessio de Medici

Alessio rode up to the Imperial Palace upon a pale horse, calling to the guards on watch. He was wearing yellow gambeson, below a dark, dirtier cloak, which he tore off as he spoke.

"Take me to our Emperor, good men. I have business with him."

Veronica Gardarr

Askileon, Luria Nova, Dwilight


"Stop fidgeting Veronica"

Veronica dropped her hands from where she was fidgeting with the necklace the King had given her. Usually such a comment would illicit quite a fierce response from her, but she felt that if she would open her mouth she might just throw up.

Tess leaned closer to her "You do look very pale, maybe we should skip this court day?" she murmured.

Veronica sat upright at that comment "No .. no i'm fine just a bit hot, nothing serious i will be alright"

Sitting back Tess nodded, "Well seems its too late now, we are here."

The Carriage, bearing the heraldry of House Gardarr came to a stop in front of the Imperial Palace. The footman climbing down placed the steps and slowly opened the carriage door.

The Lady Veronica Gardarr has come to the Imperial court. Lifting her dress she slowly stepped out of the carriage.

Nicholas Archival

Upon the confirmation of Alessio's identity and purpose, an imperial guardsmen in impeccably wrought steel beckoned the nobleman into the Imperial Palace. He offered few words as they moved through the grand corridors of the complex, which were clearly currently amidst several renovations and adjustments. The banners of House Renodin had already been replaced, however, by the White Chevalier of House Archival, one of the first steps in making his appointment official.

At the end of the travels through the palace was a magnificent, gilded doorway. The huge, oak doors had already been spread open for the day's courts and many aristocrats and attendees already filtered in and around the court. It seemed that no one had yet decided to place themselves upon the pedestal of being the first to approach the new emperor, however, and a figure sat ahead upon the Imperial Throne, attended only by another set of imperial guardsmen upon the dais, while a number of servants flitted nearby.

Despite the ornate, resplendent wealth of the crown he bore, otherwise Nicholas' attire was left in relative simplicity. The craft of the clothing was of an artisan quality, but he made no effort for ostentatious colours; instead, his attire was coloured a warm cream. His relative youth, too, was also clear even from afar; though he was a man grown, he was yet to reach his thirtieth year.

A courtier tentatively moved forward and whispered in his ear, while gesturing toward Alessio. The imperial monarch nodded slowly, before his gaze found the knight and with a subtle motion, waved him forward.

Alessio de Medici

Alessio struts past the numerous aristocrats, his chainmail boots clanking as he alone walks down the hall. He positions himself in front of the throne, bowing, before getting upon a lone knee.

"First and foremost, I pledge myself to your service," he states, before immediately getting back up and clasping his hands behind his back, carrying on speaking. "That aside, I have several matters to bring to your attention, your Imperial Majesty.

"Next on the list, as perhaps you are well aware, I am fond of the power of the quill. It is the aim of any loyal author to have the imperial seal upon any of their works, or to best yet, have the opportunity to write the biography of their ruler. As such, I offer myself to write the royal biography, or any such other text you deem necessary. It would be an honour to write such alongside my current works. What say you, my Emperor?"

Nicholas Archival

As Alessio's words concluded, Nicholas quietly regarded him for a few, long moments, before he nodded once in solemn assent.

"I accept your pledge, Sir Alessio de Medici," he began. "For as long as you serve me honourably and truly, you shall reap all the benefits of that which you earn."

With that, he affixed the man with a firm gaze.

"Luria's greatness comes from the meritocracy of its rule; those who are ambitious and driven, and those who prove themselves worthy, receive the rewards that they are due. As such, I will not accept or refuse your request - yet. Show to me and show to the Hegemony your ability to wield that quill, and you will have what you seek. Perhaps a worthy addition to the University of Dwilight may showcase what talent you have to offer."

Alessio de Medici

Alessio responds with a nod. "Then I shall have a collection of my works on your desk in five days time? Or would three or seven be more agreeable to you? Any variety you have in demand - military, philosophy? My greatest work is of morality, specifically in religion and politics and the relationship of the three. For this, I would ask that you reach out to our allied nations of my behalf and send them my contact details. I am unable to do so, and I would see it improper to go behind your back for such. I also do intend to join the University of Dwilight in the immediate future. As soon as I have the opportunity to return to Askileon with my unit, I shall sign up."

Alessio ponders a moment, pressing his thumb and index finger to his face. "Literature is the living memory of a realm. I ask that to be kept in mind with your decision. After such, I have just one more matter to raise." he bows his head, awaiting a response.

Veronica Gardarr

Veronica heart was pounding a mile a minute.

She was at awe of the beauty of the palace, but the closer she came to the great hall and the gilded doors the more she was starting to panic.

As she passed the threshold of the doors she noticed the Emperor on his Imperial Throne, he was having a conversation with a Knight. Keeping her head down she moved to the side and placed herself behind some Nobles.

Nicholas Archival

Nicholas shook his head as Alessio began to delve into the specifics of the task.

"Sir Alessio, this is not an official assignment or task. There is no deadline or specificity required, except for that which you assign to yourself. Prove your skill in the manner of your choosing, at the speed of your choosing... and, as for your contact details, I will see it done in the next few days."

As he took a pause to await the man's next request, his attention was caught, briefly, by the arrival of another aristocrat, though she was more well-attired than Alessio. Most who strode into the throne room did so with pride and vigour, eager to capture the attention of the imperial monarch. It had taken Nicholas precisely twenty minutes of his first court to realise this particular fact. Those that hid themselves or shied away from sight were somewhat of an anomaly. He endeavoured to revisit the matter for his own curiosity soon enough, but for the time being, he returned his focus to the knight before him.

"You have my ear," he announced to the man, a prompt for him to raise the next topic.

Alessio de Medici

Alessio perks an ear. "I see, my Emperor. I bid you my thanks regarding such - if I can be aware prior to you contacting, which nations can I expect contact from? You need not answer now if your diplomatic missions are in the works, as I shall accept letter at a later date." He dusts off a shoulder, looking around the room before continuing. "The last topic concerns my aspiration to become a diplomat, or ambassador, of our great realm. By which means can I, or should I, prepare? I have already familiarised myself with our current relations to other realms and our treaties, from the Articles of Restitution for the Third Lurian War to the likes of The Empires' Accord."

Goriad Gabanus

Goriad had been in the palace for weeks and as such he was learning his way around the halls.

An announcement had been carried that the Emperor was receiving guests and petitions and Goriad had been present at enough courts to know what would follow. The minor nobility would flock to gain the favor of the new emperor and his administration. While many would not get to speak with the Emperor, nerchants would enter and seek the new ministers for trade, or thr new harbor master.

When Goriad arrived the room was already filled with many guests, but the day was still early. His attire was appropriate for the occassion, fine silk, but not as impressive of many of the merchants and minor nobility around him. He sought to mingle and blend in without being noticed.

He spoke with a group of minor merchants as a noble knight entered the palace and pledged his loyalty. Many in the room stopped to behold it, so did Goriad.

Nicholas Archival

Alessio received a stare, before - abruptly - the emperor began to laugh. Though it was not boisterous or mocking, the warm mirth of the imperial monarch rang throughout the throne room, causing many to pause and listen. For a man usually so formal and reticent, it was a surprising moment of simple comfort and amusement.

"You certainly do not lack for ambition, Sir Alessio," he replied, still grinning broadly. "The rights to the imperial biography, contact information for foreign rulers and now publicly formalising your interest in taking upon ambassadorial work. You ask a great deal for your first visit to the palace..."

At that, he canted his head, regarding the knight again, before continuing.

"But I appreciate the candour of it. Speak to Earl Benedict, Lady Kaguya and King Matthew. All three have experienced diplomatic excursions and I would have you learn from them and what they have to say."

Marjorie de Chevalier

Dame Marjorie had been pleased to finally be off the ship from Giask. The sea had never been her friend, and she was eager to return to the north. She had thought that she would leave immediately, but she could tell that this would not have been a popular decision amongst her retinue. They had already defended Giask, and surely they could be allowed one night's rest before continuing their journey north, she thought.

Said and done, she allowed the fine men in her service an early pay and watched as they made for the nearest tavern. She, however, had other plans.

She waded through the unwashed masses of Askileon by horse until the imperial palace was in plain sight. There, she continued by foot to be greeted by the imperial guard.

"You live?"

The guard recognised Dame Marjorie from her visits to the former Emperor Aldrakar, though he had not seen her now for many months.

"Aye," Marjorie replied, "I am here to pledge my allegiance to the Emperor."

After exchanging a few words, the guard escorted her through the grandiose halls and walkways of the palace until they had reached the throne room with its gilded, oaken doors. There, she could not help but to marvel at the finely cut dresses, the shining armours and the glimmering jewels priding every neck, finger and wrist of the aristocrats. She, herself, wore a metal armour of simple design and impeccable craftsmanship, with no other jewels or points of pride other than the golden sigil of her house, fashioned into a clasp for her royal blue cape. Her hair, black as night, still had that windswept quality that comes from traveling by sea.

She saw that the Emperor was already occupied with attending to a nobleman she was not familiar with, and so she was content to join the sea of patricians for the time being. Fate, it would seem, had brought her close to the one she did not yet know to be Veronica Gardarr.

Leif Wilkins

Leif walked up to the entrance of the Imperial Palace. He wore a dark green gambeson bearing the crest of his family, his left index finger was heavy with the signet ring of the Imperial Magistrate. His face bore a vertical scar stretching from his temple to his ear, a wound he earned during his legendary stand in Ciaran Tut, a battle in which he stood alone against a horde quadruple the size of his own.

Next to him stood his trusted captain Xavier, and his new Lieutenant Rueben. They both wore black chainmail interwoven with leather, a recent innovation and armor given to the Moonhall Sniper platoon.

Leif approached the gate guard with a smile "Good men, I am here to share the company of our new Emperor. Long may he reign!"

"Long may he reign", replied both guards simultaneously.

"I will send word, Imperial Magistrate" nodded the guard on the right. "Please, do come in and take a seat in the meanwhile"

Alessio de Medici

Alessio beams a smile to the Emperor.

"Perhaps it shall be a shame that such is the limits of my ambition, at least for the near future. For all I ask are additional ways to serve the crown upon your head, and you yourself, my good Emperor. I shall write them upon my departure, I am in gratitude. Long may you live." he says, before giving a quick salute, the sound of chainmail clanking on the hall returning as he leaves. Outside the hall itself stood a man in dark clothes, most notably of all a hat with a large overhanging rim.

Alessio looks to him, motioning his hand towards him. "Prepare the birds, Raskolnikov, I have letters to write." as he left the palace.

Nicholas Archival

As Sir Alessio departed, one of the palace stewards stepped up to deliver another hushed message to the emperor. After listening, Nicholas deftly motioned for the steward to return with a message of his own.

"Inform the Magistrate that the hospitality of the palace is for him to enjoy. If he wishes to attend court, he is welcome to do so... if not, he is to be invited to my study afterwards. And make sure there is a chess board prepared."

Thereafter, Nicholas returned to surveying the emperor's court - his court - with a renewed interest. Alessio's approach had proven worthwhile; would the next?

Winter Evening -- Poryatu

Veronica Gardarr

Alessio? Did the Emperor say Alessio? Veronica moved behind what she assumed to be a Knight dressed in metal Armour, with royal blue cape, with a golden sigil on the clasp.

Hiding behind the Knight she peered around him to see the Knight Alessio start to make his exit from the Imperial Hall.

Murmuring to herself she says "So that's what he looks like, the oaf"

Leif Wilkins

Leif was sitting in a lobby laughing with his men, recalling the recent courtship attempt of a local knight by sending a head of a young goblin to a newly arrived dame. Being legendary for his ability to please and seduce women, Leif held his palm to his forehead as he held back tears of laughter. He found the folly of chivalrous courtship equally humorous and entertaining.

After wiping a tear out of his left eye, Leif saw the Imperial Stewart making his way. Leif straightened out, and welcomed the Stewart with a smile and a bow.

"Imperial Magistrate, the Emperor is keen to see you." He leaned closer to Leif, bending down at the knee to reach the dwarf's ear "The Emperor offers you to meet him at his study in case you would prefer it over a public greeting".

"It would please me to see him in public. Once I have greeted our Emperor in the court, take me to the study. I trust you may have a chess board handy?" Leif whispered back.

"As you wish Magistrate" responded the Stewart, motioning his hand inviting Leif and his men into the hall.

As Leif made his way through the great hall leading to the throne, some court ladies bit their knuckles, others whispered to each other not taking their eyes off of his, and some blushed red. He smiled as he walked, pleased that he still held the same element, but knew that his days of experiencing new beds would be much slower while he held his new title.

As Leif made it to the foot of the stairs that led up to the throne he saw Nicholas.

"This man looks exactly as he should, and is sitting in the right seat. Nicholas is looking damn fine" Leif thought.

Without a word, Leif bowed deeply.

Marjorie de Chevalier

Dame Marjorie watched as Sir Alessio departed the throne room and noted that some critter of a girl hid behind her. Gently, she reached out to place a plated finger-tip on Veronica Gardarr's chin, to lift it up. "Stand with pride," she said, with some motherly undertone, "you are in the presence of the Emperor."

The Dame noted that no one moved to steal the Emperor's attention, and so she decided it must be her turn. Without further ado, she released the girl from her grasp and moved to take the scene, eyes steadily on the cream-coloured Nicholas Archival, fresh on his throne.

Nicholas Archival

"Sir Leif Wilkins, Imperial Magistrate of Luria Nova," announced the steward to the court, upon his return to the throne room.

In response, Nicholas set his eyes forward to await the approach of the nobleman. Well, there's no mistaking him, he noted to himself with a smile. Leif could hardly be recognised as any other. The rumours about him appeared true, too; while many of the court's women and maidens had tittered and blushed at the sight of the emperor, it was not quite in the same manner. Nicholas was becoming known for his chastity... while Leif was certainly not.

At the Magistrate's bow, he dipped his head into a small inclination. "I bid you welcome, Imperial Magistrate," he declared. "The hospitality of the Imperial Court is yours."

With that, he reclined back against the throne, and observed intently Leif's reply... just as another aristocrat stepped forward to have themselves seen. He acknowledged her with a look, and seemed content to permit her to remain where she was; at the very least, she had jumped the queue to just behind the Magistrate himself.

Myr Arnickles Renodin

"Askileon holds quite an event, my lord, Imperial Ascension of His Imperial Majesty Nicholas Archival. Shall we depart?" - Alma aksed Myr, pleadingly hiding his duelling equipment. Young knight just smiled - "Dear captain, you know I must stay till the morrow. Knowing Nick... I mean - knowing His Imperial Majesty the receptions will continue tomorrow and the day after. You would have to kill me to stop me from attending..." - Myr winked over his smile as Alma frowned - "... then again if I won't be... able. If I won't be able to attend, please send him the best bottle of Tekian ale we have, along with my deepest apology."

Veronica Gardarr

Veronica was still perking at the retreating Knight Alessio, when she felt a cold finger on her chin lift her head. She was about give the Knight a stern lecture, when she noted that he was in fact a she. The Knight was imposing, her dark black hair flowing down her breastplate.

"Stand with pride," she said, with some motherly undertone, "you are in the presence of the Emperor." Releasing her chin she turned and moved towards the Throne. Veronica didn't know where to look some eyes was on her . She was about to step into the throng again when she noticed that the Emperor had motioned for the Dark haired Knight to wait a few minutes. While she was talking to Veronica, another had entered just ahead of her and approached the Emperor.

The Emperor had greeted him as Leif Wilkins, Imperial Magistrate of Luria Nova. Veronica tilted her head and spoke to herself. "He is a bit short for a Magistrate isn't he?"

Leif Wilkins

As Leif came up from his bow, he saw a smile formed on the Emperor's face.

"I bid you welcome, Imperial Magistrate," he declared. "The hospitality of the Imperial Court is yours."

Leif smiled back and knelt at the knee, holding his right fist to the left side of his chest "That is very kind of you my Emperor, it is a pleasure to finally see you again. I wish to congratulate thee on the well earned station. Long may you reign!"

Xavier and Rueben remained at the foot of the stairs, and too knelt on their right knee and echoed "Long may you reign!".

Leif stood up, and brushed off his knee. "Many have come to see you, I hope the throne is comfortable!" he smiled.

30th July

Winter Day -- Poryatu

Matthew Coffey

"Holding court are we?" Matthew rubbed his chin, having heard the news from a nearby herald in the inner walls of the city. Having crossed the urbs before his retinue, the stout young man had been looking for more personal items. After all, his armour needed refitting after four years of gathering dust, and a better weapon he could now afford. "I'll return for the armour by tomorrow, I expect it to be finished." The armourer sighed, waving the noble off to continue his work. Matthew knew the gold couldn't be turned aside, nobles always pay well, but the time they expect such work to be fashioned was always a headache.

The guards of Askileon numbered many more than his home, and there were banners to boot of many more martial nobles still. Let alone how many might be here without retinue. It didn't matter much to him, he had no time for soldiery at the moment. Approaching up the marble steps to the Imperial palace, that place where Renodin had sat for much of his adult life in Luria, Matthew recalled when he had last made this ascent. That was when he was a Viscount and Aldrakar had been made Emperor. How time flies by, he grinned to himself.

"I'm here to see our Suzerain," he announced curtly to the guards, not breaking his stride, "I will not be barred." The guards at first seemed hesitant, perhaps even resistant to such claim, but the Imperial defenders knew their heraldry better than run-of-the-mill warriors. As he got close, the heraldry of house Coffey became apparent, and the way was unblocked. Now, let's see how ridiculous Nicholas looks in the Imperial attire.

The hall was packed, as always. Second heirs and wizened bureaucrats plied the court for favours and boons. There were a few notables in their midst, however. Wilkins, de Chevalier, and a few new ones... Mouthing the names as he slowed to a plod, Matthew found himself meandering haplessly into the crowd gathered about the base of the Imperial seat. No doubt his large presence, both literally and metaphorically had drawn a few looks. However he was contented to be an observer for now, he had not seen the new Imperial Magistrate in their function yet, and still wondered what his former peer thought of him and his realm.

Solomon Greybrook

Court & Religion in Dantooine

It has just been over a day since Solomon had returned to Dantooine. However, he was already exhausted. Upon arriving the previous evening, he was flooded with correspondence which he had to deal with and letters he had to sign to the local nobility. A suprise mention was the disappearance of the Pavus family from the Castle Dantoo - he made a note to investigate where the family went. Nevertheless, there was numerous chores and tasks Solomon had to accomplish here - he could not be away from the front lines for too long.

First on his list was to check the progress of the new stone keep he requested. When he last was here, the Keep was some distance off completion. However, with the newly found labour source of peasants from the local parishes being recruited for manual labour, the speed of the construction improved massively. Has he stood towards the Eastern side of the keep, he could see how the final product would look. Using materials from the coast, the speed of which new materials could be mined was extraordinary - especially compared to shipping them in from the Grand Harbour of Giask. Running away with his thoughts, he did not see the man stand next to him...

"Earl, Nephew, Son, tell me... Are you happy with it's progress?" A raspy voice spoke to him on his left. Instinctively, Solomon knew it was his uncle.

"Uncle, it is looking better each time I return to hold court. The progress is splendid." Solomon didn't take his eyes of the construction site that hard formed in the middle of his estate.

"Well, it has been a tough few weeks. I will not burden you with details. However, it should be done by the turn of Spring for court purposes."

"Spring?" Solomon was rather shocked by this quick turn around. Facing his Uncle, the man had grown a longer beard that was rather unkempt. The Winter was not as kind to some men than others. Unfortunately, his Uncle has always suffered from Cold strikes - or that is what his healers say.

"I would be happy to invite the Earth Hall nobility to the Keep and host a ball of sorts. Would that interest you my Earl?" Carlos knew what he was doing. With a smile creeping into his face, Carlos gave a small bow and walked to the construction site to bark some orders to the workers.

Turning on his heel, Solomon walked further into his estate and was handed a report by one of his scouts, it seemed that the Priest of the Celestial Scales' Monastery was expected to be completed soon. He should really visit the noble that resided in Danturn Town and provide a response to him that he could not do those weeks ago.

Solomon shook his head and came back to reality as he entered the Watchtower. There was one concern that he became worried over. It became increasingly clear that despite his striking outfit of his favourite black doublet and polished armour with the Greybrook insignia on, many peasants still struggled to identify himself as this regions Earl upon sight.

That will change soon with the increased tax rates and the recent persecution of a rebel group up north. Not being aggressive man, he would rather not make a spectacle.

Unless something forced his hand...

Tohrm Elrath

Tohrm was sat amongst a great deal of papers and drafts for his archive on the Autumn Throne, much of which he still had to collate before sending it to the University to be copied and dispersed. The Grand Panetiers work into the topic had greatly expediated the process, but elaboration, and more importantly, a little bit of flair and eloquence was needed to truly set the work apart.

A scribe interrupted his meandering quill with a message from Earl Greybrook. He had not had much time to see to the realms development since he began his chronicling, but he had made it clear that his liege's letters were to be brought to him with priority.

Upon reading the letter, Tohrm set it to one side for a response. Soon enough he would be finished and then another task would be placed before him. He saw the hazy autumn sun glisten through the now well renovated office in the monastery, and knew it was time to walk amongst the workers at the site and many peasants who had begun to flock to this place. His faith was establishing itself well with the commoners, but he had not had so much success with the nobles of Luria.

Perhaps this ball would change that. All in good time of course. By spring, he imagined that the Celestial Scales would have begun to root securely in Luria, and then a visit to the new Emperor would be in order.

Emyhr le Craint

Arriving at the city of Askileon, the streets were abuzz with commotion. Banners of nobles and groups of merchants moving through the streets. The largest gathering could be found around the steps leading up to the palace, as Emyhr was aware, the Suzerain Emperor was holding council. Unfortunatly, as much as Emyhr had wanted to visit, his attention had been taken up by the conflicts in the north against the unrelenting tides of monsters. Luckily, he had been given a chance at respite with the completed defense of Nid Tek and Askileon Purlieus.

Emyhr, who had been joined by Captain Gustaf and a couple other armored warriors walked the main street heading towards the training ground of the new recruits. They had been gathering a lot of attention, they had not been given a chance to repair their equipment since the onslaught had begin and their armor had become horrible damaged. Emyhr could be seen with large chunks of metal plate missing and his right gauntlet had been torn off by an extreme amount of force. But rather than looking disheveled and worn out, Emyhr and his warriors were standing tall and holding their heads up with pride. The looks were more of admiration than that of sympathy.

Reaching the training grounds Emyhr stood and watched the men, who were at that moment were training with swords and shields. He had sent Gustaf off to arrange for the hiring of some more infantry to bolster his ranks. After watching for a while, he noticed that one of the men was struggling with his posture and holding the sword and shield at the same time. Without hesitation, Emyhr made his was into the grounds and went up to the man that was struggling.

"Your footwork is off slightly, take a step back and keep your backfoot behind as your leverage."

The young man stopped trying to swing and took a step back, fixing his footing and bringing his shield up once again. With his surprise, he could now hold the shield easier and allowing him to move his sword arm. After a few swings, he turned to the man about to thank him for his advice when the man leading the group approached.

"Whats going on here, why have you stopped..."

Without finishing his sentence, he looked towards Emyhr and immediately fell to his feet kneeling.

"Earl Emyhr le Craint, I apologize profusely, I was aware that you would be coming by however I was not expecting you to join us on the grounds."

The young man, now aware of the figure before him started to stutter and hesitate.

"It is quite alright, I came here uninvited. I was just watching the group and noticed that the young man here was struggling. However, I believe he has great potential as a warrior an wanted to assist him. I shall be departing soon, so continue with the good work here."

Bidding the group ,who had now become aware of him, farewell he went to meet up with Captain Gustaf. As he left, he noticed that the crowds heading towards the palace had intensified. He linked up with the captain and made their way to the blacksmiths to order some armor repairs. Before they could get too far from the training ground, the young knight from the training grounds had approached them.

"I apologize for being implusive and rude, however such a venerable figure like yourself it would be an honour to train under you."

The captain was about to stand and put the man in his place. But before he could do that, Emyhr put his hand on Gustafs shoulder.

"I will not be a kind nor merciful trainer, you would be safer back at the training grounds."

"I am determined, under your command I will become strong enough to protect people who cannot do it themselves."

Emyhr turned to Gustaf, nodded at the captain who then stood down and continued to walk on.

"Come with us then, I can provide you the training you seek but dont expect any handouts. We are heading our way to Cairn Tut, come with me and I will introduce you to everyone."

Placing his arm around the young man, they continued around Askileon to the duties they needed to attend. Before long, the day was begining to end. Emyhr, Gustaf and the young man headed out from the main gate with the newly recruited warriors making their way to Askileon Purlieus once again.

Myr Arnickles Renodin

Sun rose and shone on the two duelists. Myr practiced swings, anxious to get in the fight as his contender's entire presence seemingly mocked him even then.

As the arbiter gave sign to begin both attacked with the ferocity of a thawing river and met amid the levelled field in the thunder of metal sounds tearing through the air in quick succession.

The duel run it's course with neither swordsman having the upper hand up until Myr feinted an overhead swing and instead pointed his bastard sword at his enemy's belly and delivered a vicious downward thrust. The blow went through and Sevastian collapsed. Arbiter called the match in favour of Myr and two seconds rushed towards Myr to hold him back... had he decided to attack they would not be enough to stop him. But even through white knuckles clenched on the handle he knew he could not attack the wounded, unarmed, lying man. Even that sort of man. He begrudgingly dropped his sword and departed towards Askileon.

Nicholas Archival

Leif stood up, and brushed off his knee. "Many have come to see you, I hope the throne is comfortable!" he smiled.

A smirk found Nicholas' lips at that. "Less comfortable than I had hoped, but more than I had feared," he answered, before inclining his head a second time. "I will be looking forward to that game of chess later this afternoon."

With that, he motioned for Marjorie to step forward and present herself. He appraised her attire for a moment - such fine armour was expected of his new array of guards, but not of the aristocrats who they watched over. Though, as she approached, he spied a waddling figure making his way through the crowds and throngs. Though no words were spoken, he sought to catch Matthew's eye, in order to give him a short, imperceptible nod of recognition.

Myr Arnickles Renodin

"Honestly, Alma, can you not tie the straps? How long will it take?"

"If you stopped fidgeting, it would be faster... my Lord." - Alma eyed the young knight carefully.

"Apologies." - Myr calmed down a little - "I can't even recall when was the last time I worn a cape. Must've been when Aldrakar was sitting the throne. Things were simpler back then. And I certainly needed not to announce myself back then, Renodinian lion opened the gates of Imperial Halls just as well as Emperor's direct order."

"Surely His Imperial Highness will be glad to see you. Weren't you friends?" - asked the captain trying yet another knot on the straps of the cape.

"We still are! I should hope so. Frankly I'm certain I will feel much more at ease in Emperor Nicholas' presence than I did in Aldrakar's. He is yet to become legendary and even then it won't wipe the memories of camraderie between the two Lion Knights." - Myr dove deeper into memories - "Good old Aldrakar, have I disappointed him? I stood true to my vows, even in face of threat and infamy, I shown courage, even when I felt none, I fought for honour and good name, I hope I filled the boots of a knight quite well... I can only hope I am now worthy to wear my name with pride. Even though I am no longer in the second decade of my age I still can't help but think if I am truly ready..." - Myr thought out loud.

"Ready!" - said the captain.

"Oh, thank you Alma, that's very..." - but Alma interrupted him, saying:

"I mean the cape. It's ready."

"Oh." - Myr hid the flush of embarrasment by summoning a servant with a mirror.

What he saw was not a boy playing a knight but a man, clad in pristinely polished full plate armour, shining with silvery gleam. The chestplate was hidden behind the long tabard depicting red lion of Arnickles branch of House Renodin. The golden lion of Ordo Leonis adorned his shoulderguards, partly covered by the red cape gently flowing behind his back all the way to the floor. How different was this image from the one from three years ago, when he walked into this very hall, with an armour he bought from a widow after a cavalry officer, an armour that was to heavy to walk through the entire city in it - and yet he did - an armour that was too old and rusty to polish all the imperfections away - and yet he did, he walked right into the Imperial Hall, with the face of someone who's about to have a godhood bestowed upon him, as if he would stand among the heroes of marble and granite from the tales he heard in his youth and walk among them as an equal...

"Hmm..." - he growled.

Three years of strife on the battlefield and - less willingly - in the courts of politics did matured him but did not change him. He was still the knight of the same conviction and the same resolve. And of course - the same youthful glee for his friend's imperial ascension...

Myr approached the gate and three heavy knocks of halberds on the granite floor followed by opening of the gates announced his entry. He walked inside confidentnly, only through peripheral vision he acknowledged all the noble guests: roundish shape of King Matthew was there, the Imperial Magistrate could not be mistaken with anyone else, noble Goriad of Swordfell stood in a secluded spot by the wall, several other nobles he did not recognize flocked around the Emperor. He also noted the absences, most porminently Sir Emyhr and Countess Tyra, one presence would be most reassuring, the other most infurtiating... there is balance for all things in life - he though, or was it chaos? He approached Nicholas Archival and bowed in the most ceremonial fashion he could manage. Straightening back up he bellowed with a strong voice and melodic accent:

"Your Imperial Highness!" - the title was a request for permission to continue, the look of Nicholas' eyes was consent, so Myr did continue - "I greet thee Suzerein Emperor Nicholas Archival! Long may you reign!" - he looked up at Nicholas, immediately noticing the elevation of the throne, the only two people he would ever need to look up at were Sir William and King Karibash. A smirk painted Myr's face, one that added friendliness and familiarity but didn't subtract respect owed to the ruler.

Marjorie de Chevalier

Dame Marjorie strode forth with purpose, with her plated boots signalling her approach. As she reached the steps of the throne, some small smirk had appeared on her face, with a glint in her eyes betraying her thoughts. How quickly one's luck can change, she might have said, had they been alone. Instead, she drew her blade - fine steel, of no extraordinary design - and thrusted its tip into the ostentatious floor of the throne room, and knelt.

"Once, I pledged my allegiance to you, Your Imperial Majesty. Then you did not want it, for you served Aldrakar Renodin loyally as his Magistrate. Now that the tyrant has been ousted, I offer my allegiance again - and hope that you will accept my blade, my house and my service. House de Chevalier stands with the rightful Emperor of Luria, Nicholas of House Archival."

Nicholas Archival

As Nicholas waved Marjorie forward, another came forth with the sure-footed stride of a knight. Myr and Marjorie arrived at the base of the dais concurrently, and in response he quirked a brow at the former's abrupt entry - though there was no displeasure in it. There were a few whispered words amidst the court, in response to Marjorie's words of tyranny, but Nicholas himself appeared to leave any response he might have unsaid.

"Dame Marjorie, Sir Myr," he answered, projecting his voice so that it might carry throughout the lofty confines of the hall, "I bid you both welcome to the Imperial Palace."

With that, he allowed another smile to reach his lips. He beckoned for the Dame to stand once again, before allowing his initial focus to remain upon her.

"I accept your blade and your service, Dame Marjorie de Chevalier. For so long as you remain true to your pledge and to your fealty, you shall ever have a home and succour within my halls. Continue to prove your talent and your skill, and know that you will be rewarded."

Nicholas nodded at that, largely to himself. Aldrakar had favoured lengthy words of fealty, but the new emperor appeared to have decided against it for his own reign, despite the grandeur of the ceremony and the palace themselves. Then, his gaze shifted to Myr, with a wry look in his eye.

"Sir Myr, I thought you would have departed by now - though I am glad for the chance to see you at court at least once. We shall have to ensure you yearn for what you miss after your departure, hm?"

Winter Evening -- Poryatu

Nicholas Archival

Nicholas set upon Myr a knowing look, making it clear - even without words spoken upon the topic - that he was aware of what the knight briefly attempted to hide. But a second later, he turned his attention to Marjorie, to whom he offered a firm nod, though he had also apparently taken note of her consternation.

"Ride well, Dame Marjorie. Know that you go with the blessing of the Imperial Throne. Lady Kaguya is a good friend, and I would have her region restored to her forthwith."

Once the dame had departed, he turned to answer the remainder of Myr's words.

"I know well your patriotism, and I will let none deny it. For as far as you travel, you will remain Lurian in the eyes of your homeland. Though I would sooner see that you remain, I understand your desire to spread your wings. Had fate not aligned for me in this manner, I may have been the one travelling far afield."

At that, he made a brief scan of the hall, to see if any others intended to step up to speak; King Matthew was nearby, as was the shy noblewoman and perhaps even Lord Goriad was present - though if he was, Nicholas would not have recognised him.

Matthew Coffey

It was clear he had noticed Nicholas' prying eyes on the crowd he stood among, but Matthew was content to await the two knights before the Emperor. Once they had seemingly finished, then emerged the young King rather unsubtly from the throng of nobles. As usual of these unannounced visits, he lacked the royal attire for a formal ceremony, instead attending in a thick gambeson coloured in his family heraldry.

"I won't be stopping for long, but, I figured I should pay a visit whilst you were present." Matthew cut in from the group, giving the new Suzerain a good look over on his throne. "I would say it suits you, but you don't nearly have the bulk to fill out that enormous seat. You should work on that." He refrained from grinning, instead taking on a more serious tone for his jibe, accompanied by a sweeping and imperious glance at the court. "Nevertheless, the realm calls and it seems I will not be travelling the road to Ciarin Tut alone anymore. I would join the ceremonious oaths and what have you, but it might be a bit short lived given my record on the field of battle. Perhaps after we've dealt with the beasts?" His gaze shifted toward Marjorie for just a moment, as if to grab her attention. "I expect that the armies of northern Luria to be feasted on our return, out of your magnanimous and deep pockets." He finally let out a grin, bowing with a flourish. "Suzerain Emperor, Nicholas."

Myr Arnickles Renodin

Myr nodded politely to the Emperor and quitely stepped aside, allowing other nobles to present themselves. He looked around the room for someone to keep company when he spied the foreign emissary mingling with some lesser nobility by the far end of the hall. The man oddly enough would go completely unnoticed by Myr if not for a sheer fluke. Myr strode towards him and could not shake the feeling that the man spotted him the second he started walking, perhaps even recognized his intent before he even moved.

Coming near the emissary Myr uttered his greeting - "Sir Goriad. How fine to finally have a chance to meet our foreign guest in a situation that allows for a little chat. Is it Sir Goriad or Lord Goriad? I wouldn't want to make a mistake."

Myr knew Goriad's face since he saw it during Isabella's rebellion, he also knew of him - Fellish noble's name was uttered with respect and admiration usually reserved for heroes from the epic tales Myr was so fond of during his childhood, yet no tales were told of that man.

"From what I've heard you are a well-travelled individual, and I myself am about to embark upon an adventure... forgive the curiosity but I wanted to enquire if you would have any wise counsel?" - Myr offered an innocent grin with his question, young knight would not pass up any occasion to learn from those more experienced than himself.

Marjorie de Chevalier

Dame Marjorie had remained in the throne room after concluding her audience with the Emperor. As she forged through this sea of silks, jewels and perfumes, sickness had overcome her and she felt it necessary to stand as close to the room's exit as possible while she awaited her King. She cast a quick glance to a passing Sir Myr, and he might have noticed a darkness to her eyes that likely give a hint as to how she feels towards this man.

As King Matthew shifted his gaze to Marjorie, she bowed her head in understanding and some smile of relief was brought to her lips. They would leave soon.

31st July

Winter Morning -- Poryatu

Veronica Gardarr

Veronica slowly made her rounds through the throng of Nobles in attendance. Her eyes followed Dame Marjorie as she moved away from the Emperor and situated herself close to the exit. Veronica found her fascinating, well at least now that she was at the other side of the throne room from her.

Her eyes shifted to the Knight that was with her, he had noticed another Noble among the throng and had approached him. Veronica was a bit closer to the front of the Throne room that she would have like to be, but as the Emperor continued holding court her heart flustered less and she was slowly becoming more relaxed.

With the two knights departing a heavy set man stepped out to speak to the Emperor, Veronica halted as she heard him speak to the Emperor in such familiarity.

"I won't be stopping for long, but, I figured I should pay a visit whilst you were present. I would say it suits you, but you don't nearly have the bulk to fill out that enormous seat. You should work on that."

Veronica was taken aback, looking around she didn’t notice anyone else show concern at his words. Who was this man who could speak to an Emperor so casually almost as an equal?

She wanted to have a closer look at him, slowly making her way closer she felt a jolt. A Jolt, someone had stepped on the hem of her dress, with a bit of irritation she pulled at her dress and the person standing on it must have felt because he or she lifted his or her foot and the force of the pull made her stumble. Finally getting her dress under control she noticed that she was about a foot and a half clear from the other Nobles, all eyes were on her.

Veronica closed her eyes and whispered, "Oh my god". Did her heart stop? Was she dead? It seemed so. Taking a deep breath she opened her eyes, turned and noticed she was in the open and there sitting on his throne the Emperor had of course noticed her.

She slowly crossed her hands and with a slight curtsy lowered her head to break eye contact.

Goriad Gabanus

Goriad had closely watched one noble after another coming to the emperor. For the duration of the event he had yet to see a noble of greater years. Even the man who announced himself as King Matthew was but a young boy.

Then suddenly one of the nobles approached him, Sir Myr. These last days he had read some about the young knight and his arguments with Sevastian. "Sir Myr, titles are of little importance to me. You may address me as you deem appropriate."

At the realization that they have been speaking to a foreign emissary some of the merchants looked in shock but did not dare interrupt either of the higher nobles.

"I have been everywhere on these lands yes, but each place is different than the next my young friend. Where exactly are you headed?"

Matthew Coffey

As the young noblewoman stumbled into the corner of his eye, Matthew could only anticipate the tension that followed. With a wry smile he retreated with surprising grace on his feet. If it weren't Nicholas, perhaps he would have done something to draw the eyes of the collective court, but he was a tame soul, so saw nothing of it. "I take my leave then, your Imperial highness. In truth and glory." He was about half way through the crowd when he swiveled about, making his way across the hall toward Marjorie. Beckoning for her to join him as he left the grandiose palace.

"It is good to hear from you again, you look well. Unfortunate you had to join us during all of this." He chuckled, looking over the city walls as they made their way down the Imperial palaces steps. "It seems you're about to see one of Luria's most famous warriors on the front lines, you should be honoured. I have quite the reputation. I'm glad I won't be sharing the journey to our army alone."

Nicholas Archival

Message sent to everyone in "The Great Halls of Luria" (51 recipients) The court held their breath at Matthew's jape. In the years of Aldrakar, no doubt it would have been seen as a grave insult, worthy of a harsh response - or so Nicholas presumed. His predecessor had always been prideful, so it was little surprise to see the nervous anticipation in the air. But, to their relief, the emperor simply rolled his eyes, with a grin that matched Matthew's eventual own.

"Matthew Coffey, King of Earth's Hall, you and your wit are both welcome at the Imperial Court," he said, albeit swiftly, as though to get through the necessary formalities for both of their sake. "I shall hope for your good fortune on the battlefield. Retake Ciarin Tut and that feast is yours."

... and then the shy noblewoman fell, straight into the centre of the court. Nicholas watched her with raised brows, surprised - and a little amused - by what had happened. His ever-present steward walked toward him once again, with an aloof displeasure at the break from procedure, before whispering the identity of the woman in his ear. The emperor nodded knowingly, as though it now made sense.

"Welcome to the Imperial Court, Lady Veronica. Come, step forward," he beckoned with a wave of his hand, directing her to approach the dais.

Veronica Gardarr

Her heart was racing; her face felt like it was on fire. She dared not look up. But now what, the Emperor had beckoned her to approach.

Taking a deep breath she put on her best smile, and lifted her head. She caught his eyes. It took all of her willpower to not look away and she took a step and another and soon she was as if gliding moving towards to the throne.

She could feel hundreds of eyes on her every movement.

Coming to a stop in front of the Throne, she bowed low and spread her Emerald Green dress around her, bowing her head her golden locks almost touched the ground.

She dared not look up as she said; "Your Imperial Majesty, as beckoned I have come. On behalf of House Gardarr, I Veronica Gardarr bring you tidings from my family situated in the Realm of Highmarch, East Island." taking a shallow breath she continued.

"I have come to strengthen bonds and give support where needed from me and that of my house to you, the Emperor and in turn Luria Nova."

She still did not dare look up as she waited with abated breath. Why was it so quiet?

Myr Arnickles Renodin

"Well, Sir Goriad then..." - Myr smiled - "Just upon the conclusion of this reception I will embark for..."

The commotion at the center of the room drawn Myr's attention. There was a young noblewoman facing the Emperor, her face adorned with healthy blush, her shape like one of a doe caught in the middle of the road by nightly caravan blazing light with torches and lanterns. He chuckled a bit kindheartedly, up until his eyes briefly locked with that of Dame Marjorie, her gaze was unbearably intense - "does she fancy me?" - Myr thought before he turned to Goriad to finish his sentence:

"Astrum, I embark for Astrum."

Nicholas Archival

She's shaking like a leaf, Nicholas noted to himself. It was not an uncommon thing, he surmised. A fresh-faced aristocrat, at the court of an emperor for the first time. He remembered possessing similar nerves when he first attended Aldrakar's court, though he had done a better job of keeping it to himself - though there was a vague memory of Earl Benedict, then just a knight, swaying after an inordinate amount of alcohol.

He awaited her approach patiently; it would be interesting to see how she would take to the spotlight.

"I have heard of this Highmarch," he mused aloud. "My cousin once served there as one of its knights... though now she fights in the name of the Kingdom of Perdan."

Nicholas affixed her with a curious stare. He knew the significance of that particular revelation, but did she?

"Though, Rhiannon's fights are not my own," he eventually shrugged. "Allow me to welcome you formally to the Hegemony of Luria Nova. For so long as you remain House Gardarr's representative in this land, and for so long as you remain a true and honest vassal, you shall always find the warmth of succour and hospitality within these halls. The court will be following your career from hereon with avid interest."

Thereafter, he leaned back once more against the throne, observing her response. It was rather plain to see that he was taking her measure.

Goriad Gabanus

Goriad smiled as he saw the stumbling noblewomen and the looks between her and Sir Myr. "To Astrum he replied."

Goriad nodded thoughtfully, "Interesting. Lately several in Astrum ventured here, yet you wish to reverse the travel?"

He paused for a moment, before he continued again: "There is much to do in Astrum and the north, it depends on what you seek over there."

Veronica Gardarr

Two thoughts ran through Veronica's mind as she was kneeling in front of the Emperor.

One, will she die of embarrassment now or later and two, she should really have not worn this dress, it was fit for a banquet or a ball not court, and so she found herself in a situation. She couldn’t get up.

The folds of the dress had gone everywhere when she bowed so low and she could not get the right footing to get up. So engrossed was she with this problem, she only caught some of his Majesty’s words to her until “she fights in the name of the Kingdom of Perdan” reached her ears.

Slowly lifting her head she made eye contact with the Emperor, some strand of her red hair hanging over her eye, she tried to blow it away but it just settled in the same place. The Emperor was leaning back in his throne waiting her response.

Putting some steel behind her words she said “The Perdan issue your Majesty I will leave in the capable hands of by brother and that of the South.”

Veronica narrowed her eyes as she glared at the Emperor, she had the feint inkling that he knew she could actually rise by herself. He did seem to have a sly smile on his face.

Myr Arnickles Renodin

"I seek to learn, Sir Goriad." - Myr crossed his arms, beaming - "Most legendary warrior of the continent has been kind enough to take me into his tutelage of martial matters. Other than that there are different experiences in the north than there are here. Man ought to gather as much experience in his life as he can, wouldn't you agree?"

Winter Evening -- Poryatu

Marjorie de Chevalier

Dame Marjorie was visibly relieved as she retreated from the battlefront that was the throne room with her liege lord, King Matthew. As they were once more breathing the free air, she made certain that she would always walk half a step behind the King of Earth Hall; in recognition of his station and of hers, regardless of her liege's egalitarian ideas. "It will be my honour, indeed," Marjorie affirmed, with such a sincerity to her voice that one might think she had not understood that Matthew was jesting at all. "I hope that I will learn much through my travels with you, my liege."

"I recieved words that I had been reassigned from the Emperor's Will to another army, the Iuvenilis Attingas Parvulorum. It is not my place to ask, and please forgive me for doing so, but I wonder: why?"

Marjorie nodded silent greetings to the passing guards of the palace as the duo made for the streets of Askileon, but beyond that her attention was firmly fixed on King Matthew.

Goriad Gabanus

"The most legendary warrior of the continent," Goriad repeated "There are but a few who could ever fit such a description, but given the current situation I would assume Lord Karibash will return to Astrum then with you?"

He smiled for a moment "The north will have different challenges in part, although they too suffer from the invasions of monsters. It will be good for you to visit foreign lands and learn of their culture. Upon entry I would speak to Dragomir, he is known to be just and kind."

Myr Arnickles Renodin

"Dragomir..." - Myr repeated - "I will take your advice, good Sir. And yes, King Karibash is on his way already, I believe."

Myr looked around and saw several of the guests already departed. "If you don't mind, Sir Goriad, I will be on my way. Nightly ships are not as easy to catch as one would think - darkness gets in the way." - Young knight bowed slightly and steadily walked towards the door.

Goriad Gabanus

Goriad nodded to the young knight "Give King Karibash my regards and stay safe on your journeys. Perhaps we shall meet again."

As Myr walked away Goriad looked through the room again and he saw that most of highest station had left the room and mostly merchants and lower nobility remained. He had seen enough for today and as such he left almost as silently as he had entered, accompanied by two wealthier merchants as he had asked them for a ship to travel west and they saw an opportunity for more profit.

Nicholas Archival

So there is a bit of fire behind the timidity, he noted. His words had been an open provocation, and she had taken to it without any hesitation. She was even glaring at him; now that was certainly a first, since he had taken to the throne.

"Perdan is an ocean away from Luria. As are Highmarch and all its other enemies," he began calmly. "I have no personal investment in their war, nor should I. This is Dwilight, and we have our own concerns - something I trust you will understand while you are here."

Thereafter, he cocked a brow openly at her attempts to regain an even footing, which appeared to influence the direction of his next words.

"In Luria, Lady Veronica, we all rise or fall based on our own merits. Whether you are Lurian by birth, or some the democracy of Highmarch, or anywhere else, what you do and how you serve will define you here. Though we will all pave the path to our future together, we must - all of us - stand on our own two feet."

Though he had begun to slip into a monologue, it was readily apparent that he had a clear belief in the words he spoke.