Dubhaine Family/Ciarghuala/Roleplays/1018/May

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1st May

Winter Day -- Poryatu

Isabella Pavus

Upon her steed, an unconscious Isabella trotted into the city of Giask. As she came through the gates, there was a cheer, waking her up. However, the masses were confused by her lacking unit. Nonetheless, the rough looking warrior rode through to the barracks. She equipped herself with a new unit, 25 mixed infantry soldiers. They had no captain, he had died. She would make do. Fortunately, the lot were capable enough. And she was sure that they would not desert. And if they did, she would surely have their heads. After a quick moment to bathe, she rubs her eyes and rides off, the unit in tow.

Sevastian Schwarzherzig

Sevastian noticed a fresh new unit marching from the recruitment depot, headed in the same direction his captain had his men marching at present. Sevastian rode slowly behind, observing for a moment. Mixed infantry, he mused. He spied their commander and grinned, spurring his horse on, and reigned in beside Isabella. He gave a practiced bow from the saddle, guiding his horse with his knees.

"Lady Isabella I presume?"

Isabella Pavus

Isabella perks up her head, looking to Sevastian. "Given your manner and your admiration, my list is not narrowed down much," she grins, "But I should think Sir Sevastian. The journey from Moon Bay was much longer, much more arduous than the maps led me to believe. I think next winter, I will take up courtiership and stay indoors. Or, at least, not travel around all too much. I was not even attacked and my unit massacred. They deserted, even the captain. I have heard talk of them discussing my lack of funds in the taverns. I had hoped to trample on their corpses. Luria will need all she can get, and my justice will wait. Nonetheless, I have talked quite enough. How are you?" she smiles.

Sevastian Schwarzherzig

"Quite well, working on a composition for the University. It is my ardent desire to see the institution restored to its former glory." Sevastian remarked casually, adjusting his feathered cap.

"Nasty business, desertion. Fickle soldiers! The very privilege of Imperial service should be pay enough, but the ingrates couldn't even appreciate having such a beautiful commander?" Sevastian said, taking her hand and kissing it. "The common folk are always crying about bread. But what of adventure! Of honor, and glory! Surely there is more to life than a full belly." Sevastian said, shaking his head.

"If the men of the Ultima Ratio Regum catch wind of your deserters, rest assured, they will dance their final dance. Nothing quite as stirring as the gallows jig."

Emyhr le Craint

It had been a while since Emyhr had returned to the north and especially near Askileon, he found himself filled with excitement and a warming to be near home. The Vanguard camped in a clearing in a forest between Cairn Tut and Askileon Purlieus, sat around a make shift table made from gathered wood from the local area. The crisp chill of the winter air was felt among the camp, with the majority of the Vanguard huddled around the fire keeping the fire as warm as possible.

Emyhr along with Captain Gustaf were pondering a map of the north, preparing for the journey for the next couple of days. Crude marks along this map representing known Lurian combatants, they prepared their placement for the foreseeable future.

"Sir Emyhr, I fear that it may be a while before we see the sights of Poryatu again and I know the men grow restless, would you allow the men to relax and find entertainment within Askileon? I worry about the moral among some of the men."

Honest concern for the men was showing on his face as he said this, but also a need for relaxation himself. There was an element of anxiety after the combat they have faced in recent times.

"Captain Gustaf, I too feel the strain of this and miss the comforts of the estate back in Poryatu. However, we have orders to protect the realm and the positioning in Cairn Tut provides us with ample coverage of the rouge states. I do agree with you though, while I have needs to attend to when we arrive in Askileon, I trust that you will show the men a good time and allow them to recuperate."

Emyhr now looked upon the face of the man and could see the tired expressions he was making. Emyhr walked over to the tent set up for supplies and came out with two mugs of ale and headed back to the table.

"This journey may be a long one, but I promise you that once we reach Askileon, you shall get your well deserved rest. I cannot afford to let my captain get too tired, I need your experience."

Handing the mug to the captain, they both took a deep swig of ale and slammed the cups down on the table. With this, Emyhr turned to his men who was now looking over at the commotion on the table.

"Men of the Vanguard, I know you are tired and restless. However, it shall not be long before we make it to Askileon. Once we arrive, I will provide Captain Gustaf here with ample funding to enable you all to rest and recuperate. I look forward to seeing the men that can keep up with the captain here"

With a slap on the back of the captain, the men looked upon the two of them. Their previously tired and shivering faces now filled with excitement, many of them began recalling memories they have of times within Askileon. The captain now had a mix of an embarrassed and cheery look upon him as he returned to the table.

"Now Sir Emyhr, I believe we should discuss the matter of the state of the equipment." The Captain said with a cheeky grin on his face as his pointed towards the pile of damaged swords and armor that could be seen from within a tent.

Isabella Pavus

"The university is quite brilliant. I myself submitted a piece, honouring both the realm and my late brother. As well as a stanza implying that Chance Harte as no heart, and Dodger has no... pene. I find myself privileged to serve. I gave my loyalty and my choice in marriage to the Emperor, to better the Lurian Hegemony. It is where my life and loyalty is, no matter the reward. My family has always been ambitious like this. Touches every single Pavus. It is why my cousin is a judge with higher aspirations, why I served as General in weeks past, and why my brother had bold aspirations, to say the least. There is little I would not give in service of the realm. Yet these soldiers and more mercenary than anything. A mistake that will not be made again. I must say, I think highly of the adventuring commoners. Useful assets to any realm."

Winter Evening -- Poryatu

Myr Arnickles Renodin

"Fly, you fools!" - shouted marshal Stoneandrags. His voice thundering at his rocky minions.

"No! Stay put!" - he yelled, turning left and right within split second, drawing snickers and giggles from the children gathered around.

"March out! Left!" - he ordered and turned right instead. Kids released a volly of laughter, one of them shouting - "Monsters, marshal Stoneandrags, there be monsters!"

"What? Where?!" - he cried out in terror, hiding behind one of his rocky soldiers. He postured up, coughing theatrically - "Ah! Worry not, I have superior tactic!"

He puffed himself up with pride and elucidated his grand plan: "We will all turn around and advance with our backs turned on the enemy! The enemy will think we're reatreating and not attacking! Ha!" - the marshal turned around, his raggy arms flailing from the impetus of the motion and children were laughing uncontrollably.

Myr kneeled down, his arm reaching out to the children, the ragdoll in his hand. Returning the toy to the gathered kids he flicked one silver coin in the air. It spinned mid-air, showing the face of Emperor Aldrakar or Giask for a split-second with each turn, the tallest of the children jumped up, catching the offering.

"Thank you sir knight!" - kids shouted after him.

William Fitz Roberts

William was bent over his desk in the he had hired to ferry him from Giask to Askileon. He had spent the entire journey locked in his cabin, poring over maps, charts and old traveller’s reports. He had several different histories of Dwilight books scattered around the room, the majority of which he had so far simply skimmed. At last, he pulled out his dagger and jammed it hard into the wood of the desk, its point over a city to the western half of the map.

‘Here’, he muttered to himself, ‘It shall be here’.

He turned as he heard the door slowly open, ready to bark angrily at whomever had dared disturb him. He softened immediately when he saw it was, for Anne was standing in the threshold in her travelling cloak, whose collar was turned upwards to protect her from the cold sea winds.

‘Husband, you have been here all day. I have hardly seen you since we rode from Fox Hall. Have you grown tired of me?’, Anne spoke in a mocking tone, putting on an obviously false pout. William reached out his arm to her, beckoning her into his embrace.

‘I have been deep in my own thoughts, come and see’

Her curiosity clearly peaked, Anne came quickly into William’s arms where they shared a long kiss, before she broke it off and stared down at the map William had pierced with his dagger

‘So this is what has kept you from my side, hmm?’ Anne said in a low voice, her interest clearly growing, ‘tell me, what is at this Goldenfarrow?’

‘Quite simply, my dear, our future. The city of Goldenfarrow was once one of the richest, if not the richest cities in all of Dwilight. However, when the monsters came and humanity were forced to abandon the West, it appears much of the wealth was abandoned. Think about it, a city filled with gold, unclaimed by any realm on Dwilight, ripe for the taking if we can defeat the monsters that plague those lands. To think, if it can be settled once more it will be a wealthy kingdom to add to the glorious Hegemony of Luria. If it cannot, think of the wealth that might be stripped from its buildings. I intend to find volunteers to go with me there one day. Maybe not this month, maybe not this year, but one day Golden Farrow will be stripped of its wealth and our family shall be as kings!!!’

Anne looked at the map for a long time. At last she spoke,

‘this would takes months of planning and is fraught with risk, but we might just pull this off’ She looked up at her husband, excitement and greed flashing in her emerald eyes

William sat back down in his chair, ‘Aye, but now we must focus on the task at hand. The Realm must always come before the will of the individual

Anne looked disappointed, but at last nodded her agreement. ‘You are right of course. Are you looking forward to seeing our homeland again? You have not been back for so long I will be surprised if your mother can even recognise you’

William laughed at that, ‘in all honesty, I am more worried about your father being able to recognise me’

It was Anne’s turn to laugh, ‘It has been eight years, do you really think he still hates you for eloping with me?’

‘You know I do, and what is more you know I am right. The man terrifies me’

‘How can you be scared of him, you have a solid two feet on him?’

‘It is simple: everyone tells me that you take after him’

Anne’s laughter echoed across the smooth twilit waters of the Euschean Sea

2nd May

Winter Evening -- Poryatu

Zhou Tai Bluelake

Drake sneaked around the streets of Askileon. He knew his uncle had told him to behave better while in the city, and he had, especially at the horse market where they looked at the new mares from that southern shipment. He had been courteous and polite, his dark blue eyes shining with interest, and he hadn't even laughed at the crass jokes of the horse dealers. Zhou Tai must have been proud of him. But now, he was on an undercover mission... His uncle was finishing his business before they headed back home, and Drake had taken the chance. A few coppers got him a peasant child's clothing to toss on top of his regular garb, and he looked messy enough not to seem of noble blood.

He navigated the huge market with a bit of trouble, but finally, the 8 year old reached the cart he was looking for. The milk merchant! As he walked up to the man, muttering to himself the words to make sure he got every one of them right, he wondered how many sheets of parchment with Sir Leif's latest works would that grant him. He was looking forward to share them with his cousins at home. Stopping before the bulky milkman, he got a suspicious stare. Before he lost heart, Drake said, rather loudly "Dai mne moloko gaspodin!" and blinked intensely thrice.

Leif Wilkins

The waves were crashing along the hull of the ship. Leif shuddered in his fur-lined coat - that of an arctic bear, rubbing his hands together as the penetrating wind pierced his bones. A resilient man, Leif highly disliked boats and open water. He could rarely see what was beyond the rail of the boat, and had a fear of falling into the water after an incident as a young lad in which he almost drowned.

He couldn't sleep as he has woken up to return the food he had back to surface due to the inconsistent and wobbly motions of the ship. "Arse pebbles..." he thought "I can handle most of life's abuse... Even meeting sunrise in bed with what looks like a troll but seemed like a favourable lady upon moonlight after a few tankards of ale... But this.. This darn struggle with sea travel is pathetic."

As the thought passed, Leif could see the spires of Askelion on the horizon. Finally

3rd May

Winter Evening -- Poryatu

Myr Arnickles Renodin

Myr did some calculations in his head:

170 gold coins per week. Three weeks per season makes 510 gold coins per season. Four seasons per year makes 2040 gold coins per year. It would take me... 25 years to gather 50 000 gold coins!

He took a quill and waved off the scribe.

"I'll write this one myself."

4th May

Winter Day — Poryatu

William Fitz Roberts

William seeks compensation

As they strode into the village, William could hear the cries of fear and panic.

‘My, my, what a delightful place’, William said loudly, exaggerating his joy. ‘Look at it, it’s almost idyllic, who wouldn’t want to live in a place like this. A simple life, away from the troubles of the wider world? It makes one almost wonder whether we should just return to Grodno and tend to our fields’. He breathed in deeply, ‘Just smell that, that is the smell of hard work and toil, that is the smell of an honest living’

‘It certainly is pleasant, husband’, Anne walked alongside her husband, joining in with William’s fun

‘Now, now let me see’, William pointed his poleaxe at one of the frightened villagers, ‘who is in charge here? Who speaks for you?

A trembling man stepped forward. He was in his mid-thirties and slightly better dressed than the rest. But only slightly. He still stank of dung. He bowed deeply’

‘M’lord, I am the reeve of this place, what can we do for you? What is your business here?’

‘Our business?’ William exclaimed, a dreadful gleam in his eye, ‘our business is simple. I don’t know if you heard fighting a few hours ago, but my soldiers and eye just saved your village from being razed by trolls.’

‘For which, you have our deepest gratitude’, he gestured behind him to a house, ‘please, m’lord, if you would care to break bread with us as a means of saying thank you? My wife is just finishing making our dinner’

‘Break bread?’, William and his soldiers laughed allowed at that, ‘No, no, no. We require something more substantial. You see, fighting a battle is very arduous. Puts a strain on body and soul, can cause a man to do strange things if he is not treated right. It also causes damage to equipment, which is expensive stuff. Hans, show them your sword’. One of the men of William’s retinue stepped forward, holding his blade aloft. William tutted, ‘You see, completely chipped. Now, what can you offer us by means of compensation?’

The reeve looked up in horror, ‘please m’lord, we are a simple people, we have nothing’ he protested loudly, taking a few steps back, his arms out in front of him as if to shield himself

At this, William’s smile curled into a sneer. ‘Don’t. Lie. To. Me’, he said in a low, dangerous voice, ‘a place as big as this always has a strongbox somewhere to pay the local strongman for his protection. Where is it?’

‘M’lord, please, if we don’t pay Mc Gregor he will kill us’

‘I am sorry, are you operating under the illusion that I won’t?’, William stepped forward, causing the man to recoil in fear, but William persisted and put his massive arm around the man’s shoulders. One slight movement, and William would have been able to snap the man’s spine. He guided the man to one side and said in a mock whisper, as if he were confiding in the man, ‘You see that woman there?’, indicating Anne, ‘She can come up with far nastier tortures and means to kill you with than some common bandit named Mc Gregor. Now, where is the strongbox?’

Shaking beyond control at this point, the man pointed to a building at the end of the village. William patted the man’s cheek and smiled. ‘Much obliged to you, sir, much obliged’

As they approached, a youth no more than sixteen stepped forward, blocking William’s path to the building. He was holding an old and rusty sword. William looked down, and spoke with a menace that would have given a troll second thoughts. ‘Get out of the way boy, don’t try to be the hero, it’s never worth it. It ain’t like the songs. People won’t remember who you are, you won’t even be a footnote in history. ‘

‘I don’t care, I can’t just stand aside and watch you take away our livelihood’, the youth said, his chest swelling with prideful defiance

‘Well isn’t that a shame?’, William muttered, grabbing the boy and smashing his head into the door frame. As the boy fell to the floor, William used the spike at the end of his pole axe to finish the job.

‘Now would you look at that?’ William shouted in fury, ‘the little wretch has got blood all over my boots! These were expensive. I shall likely have to throw them away’. A scream of anguish went up from the crowd, devolving into sobs and moans of utter shock and horror. William presumed the source of the noise must have been the boy’s mother. William turned, and spied Manfred. The boy’s face was a mask of indifference.

‘Boy,’ William called over, ‘have you ever killed someone?’

‘Not yet, cousin’

‘Well, it’s high time you did. Silence that caterwauling would you, I like my mornings to be peaceful and quiet’. William turned his back on the crowd as Manfred went over. He smiled as he heard a soft scream and then silence. Good. The boy was at least efficient

‘now then,’ William said cheerily, turning back to the terrified crowd, ‘I was going to just take the money and go, leaving you to get on with your miserable little lives out here. However, that was before this “everyday hero” got blood on my boots. Now, that is something that I cannot countenance. Of course, you are so ignorant that you don’t even know what countenance means. Ah well, no point teaching you, you won’t live long enough to use it. Burn it all, leave none alive save that one’ William pointed to a boy no more than 8 or 9. ‘Can you ride boy? Good. Off you pop then, go and tell the other villages what happens when they get blood on my boots’

A little while later, as they were washing the blood off of themselves in a drinking trough, Godlinda said, ‘Just to inform you, sir, but the peasants got wind of our coming and organised themselves into some form of militia to kick us out’

William paused at that, before smiling cheerily. ‘Good. Time for some target practice’

Tyra Andrasta Bluelake

Tyra looked out of her new quarters into the desertic view of the Palm Seas. She was pleased. Monsters and undead could be seen from quite a distance in that scenery. She had slept deeply for the first time in ages.

"It suits you, milady" Her piercing, pale blue eyes shot a warning across the room to Duncan. "We are at court now, milady... This servant will not address you with your given name."

The dame smirked but let it rest. "Well, what do you have for me? Anything that's not merely court gossip in that bunch of letters?"

"A poetry competition..." he was interrupted by her laughter.

"You have to be kidding me... Can one get more courtly than that?!"

It was his turn to give her a hard look. "You promised you'd try, milady"

Tyra had the decency to look guilty. "A poetry competition. What else?"

"Here's the sheet for you to vote on your favorite. Well, sheets. I don't know which one is right. Just use them all. Diplomatic news and a declaration of war..." she reached out and took those "A visit from a foreign queen with news of a swordfight competition in Giask" he saw her eyes growing wider "you have to apply and travel there. I also have a report of your estate's condition and relevant guilds... What are you doing?"

The dame had immediately sat down and started sharpening her sword. The scribe let out an exasperated sigh. "What about your duties? You have to greet your liege, write to your relative, visit guildhouses and apply for membership..." "You do all that for me and I'll get my equipment and men ready to move to Giask." "But..." "I'll tell you the rough content of the letters and you embellish for me, is that good enough?"

The older man looked at her seriously. "One of them is from the Emperor himself. Sit with me for half an hour and we can work through this." He softened his tone "But we can do it outside if milady prefers." To which he got one of her dazzling smiles and immediate assent. Duncan knew how to maneuver his charge. He also knew she'd be working on that sword the whole time.

5th May

Winter Evening -- Poryatu

Kelindun Orobar

It was one of those slow days, Kelindun did not have much to do. Sitting by the fire in a local inn, he enjoyed a glass of wine, while reading some poetry. He really had been enjoying this contest. Though he only took his first steps in this field, he could feel how it helped him pushing back the darkness in his mind. Hopefully more of these kind of challenges would follow in the future. Luria Nova, land of opportunity, was healing his troubled soul. Coming here was the right decision.

A discrete cough brought him back to reality. Laura, his captain, had entered the room without him noticing. Now she had his attention, she spoke: "Sir, do you remember asking me to build an intelligence network, paying people in the streets for information? Well, something turned up. I believe it is best you come with me."

Kelindun raised an eyebrow, but did not question this capable woman's intuition. He followed her through several streets into an obscure alley, where they were awaited by a shady looking hobo.

"Speak up, peasant. What is it you have to tell me?", the young Knight ordered.

"Ah, good Sir. A most disturbing rumour has reached my unworthy ears. Surely you will reward me with lots of shiny gold. Let me tell you, one of the contenders in the poetry contest has been cheating. Lady Isabella of House Pavus was seen visiting many nobles, trying to influence their vote. And may I say, what a mighty fine way she found to do so. Word on the streets is, she has been showing her goodies, them good old twins, in exchange for votes", the man rattled while making gestures with his hands near his chest, representing the female forms.

Kelindun could not help but laugh. In fact, he could not stop for several minutes. When he calmed down a bit he said: " well, I should reward you for the amusement value alone. Unfortunately, I have no gold on me, perhaps an other metal will suffice?"

In the blink of an eye, he drew his sword, saying: "Here's a poem for you: Insulting a Noble woman with blatant lies, you should know you'll pay the price, you sealed your fate with what you said, say goodbye to your precious head."

One quick swing later, what once was one man was now separated into two pieces. "This improvising is quite fun actually. Practice does make perfect!"

Leif Wilkins

Leif's company set camp for a break to feed and water the horses on the way to Lupa-Lapu. He was reading the exchange of messages being sent across the realm among the lords. He looked at his men - sitting together, laughing patting each other on the back and sharing stories.

"I've built a commendable group of kind-hearted warriors" he thought "We have operated on a principle of having fun, respecting those around us, and living to make the world a better place"

"My Lord..." said Xavier, walking towards Leif cutting into an apple with his boot knife

"Yes Captain?" Leif looked up, only smiling with the right side of his mouth.

"You look troubled. I see fires in the distance. You told us that we are marching on the wasteland to build our experience and bolster our coffers. I know what this means - we are walking towards a slaughterhouse of unarmed villages, aren't we?" Xavier look into the distance.

"Xavier... This doesn't feel right. We have marched the entire day, the sky has been grey, and not a single song came to my mind. I believe we will lose the hearts of our men if we force them to pillage innocent villages, albeit unloyal peasants."

Xavier kept look into the distance without taking his sight off the smoke "My Lord... The Gwynnblades follow you not for riches, not for gold. We follow you because we believe in you, your principles, and the hell of a good time you show us. Whichever decision you make, we will follow you."

"Finish that apple Xavier, and ready the men. We go back to Nid Tek" Smiled Leif, feeling as though a hefty wench just jumped off his chest.

William Fitz Roberts

William read the last letter of the Imperial Magistrate. He closed his eyes, breathing slowly and methodically. Captain Godlinda looked up from where she was sitting.

‘Bill? Bill what is it?’. William gave no answer. The soldiers were sitting in the inn of a recently pillaged hamlet, enjoying the ale they had taken. Godlinda was nervous. She knew that look. She feared that look. She dreaded that look. She looked across the table to Anne, who was enjoying a drink with Kaspar and Marx. She coughed quietly, causing Anne to look up and nodded towards William. Anne looked over to her husband, her eyes widening. Manfred was sitting next to William, totally oblivious to what was happening

‘Damn him’, William said in a low voice.

‘Bill?’ Godlinda said again

‘Husband?’, Anne said, panic clear in her voice

‘Damn! Him!’ William roared, smashing his fist into the table. Manfred jumped, stunned by his cousin’s outburst

‘What is it?’ Anne asked standing up and walking slowly to where William sat. William, trembling with rage, handed over the letter. Anne read it, her own face twisting in fury. ‘The little fool’, she muttered, ‘the jumped up, self-important fool.’

Still shaking, Manfred said, ‘What is it, cousin?’ Suddenly, William stood up, flinging the table from him. Anne only just managed to dive out the way. For the first time in her life, she looked at William with genuine fear. The prisoners they had taken from the peasant mob they had fought earlier cowered in the corner behind them, shaking as William strode purposefully towards them. He towered above them, his face obscured in shadow

‘According to our honourable magistrate, you are all Lurian and should be protected’, William looked back at his shoulders, ‘However, the magistrate has no eyes here, so tell me’ he whispered, ‘is anyone going to really care if I do this?’ He grabbed the first peasant and smashed his head into the wall behind him.

‘Nothing? Come on, Nicholas, come and stop me’, he shouted at the ceiling. He paused. ‘No? Very well then’. He proceeded to kill each man that was knelt before him, calling out to Nicholas to try and stop him. At last he turned, his entire being slathered in blood and gore.

‘Johannes, come here!’ William’s scribe slowly walked over, bowing his head.

‘Master?’ he enquired, as usual calm and efficient despite his master’s depravities

‘Send this letter to each and every member of our family on this continent. The Archivals shall receive no hospitality in any of our houses. They shall receive no aid. Their goals shall not be our goals. We shall not show it, on the surface we shall show the courtesies necessary to their current station. But beneath that, we shall have nothing but hatred for their house. I declare vendetta and vow that one day, no matter how far away that is, an Archival shall feel a Fitz Roberts blade between their shoulders. But for now we wait, we will not damage this Realm through our pursuit of revenge. Though if our Bravi should happen to start a few brawls with Archival men, so be it.’ Johannes dutifully wrote all of this down, before looking up: ‘am I to send this to your cousins on other continents?’

William thought about this for a moment, before saying. ‘No, they have their own problems. This feud will not leave Dwilight’. He stormed out into the driving rain

Anne looked over to Johannes, her face cold and menacing. ‘If you ever send that letter to anyone, Fitz Roberts or otherwise, I shall kill your daughter. I shall talk to William. He will be calm in the morning. For now, send a letter saying that he respects the decision of the magistrate’ She turned and followed her husband into the rain.

Tyra Andrasta Bluelake

Travelling those few hours before she arrived to Giask, Tyra was taking side roads and getting the feel of the land. She always felt unsafe in main roads, too exposed. Her twenty-one men were also from Beluaterra and more than glad to follow her. She also felt the need to know every part of every region she would now belong to.

Still, messengers would find her. Tyra was baffled at how many letters she got. Several about looting which she read with interest - she had always enjoyed following a raid. Oh, but these courtly types had too many claims and laws. She could feel Duncan's happiness when reading her those letters. "You think this place is perfect to make a lady out of me, don't you, Dunc?"

"Milady read my mind!"

"It was all over your face! But don't go thinking you can have me wear frilly dresses and such." With a frown at that idea, she changed the subject "You know - I like this Dame Isabella's strength of character. We should write her. Maybe she'll be at the tourney!"

"You mean - I - this servant should write her. You really have to start dictating your letters, milady."

"But this is working so well! Tell Isabella I admire her and hope we can meet in Giask. Now I'm off this wagon to run with the men."

The scribe watched her run, sighed and before taking on a new parchment for the letter, added another item to his task list: -Find her a horse riding tutor.

That list was getting big.

Nicholas Archival

With a long, bleary yawn, Nicholas rose from his desk. Reading the vast array of incoming letters and penning his replies had been a tiring experience. A half-eaten supper sat nearby, pushed to near the edge of his table, cold and forgotten amidst all the tension. For hour upon hour he had remained in his manse's study, and had not left it since his arrival in Giask. But still, there was a certain glow of satisfaction about the Magistrate as he pushed open the door and, finally, left to breathe in the fresh air.

Loras awaited him at the balcony, pacing restlessly against the marble floor. From the fidgety bearing of his cousin, Nicholas quickly surmised that the boy - his squire - had something to say. Upon the soft footsteps approaching, the younger Archival turned to regard his elder and affixed him with a pointed look.

"You're still up, are you?" Nicholas began, "And, from the looks of it, there's something on your mind. What is it?"

"I've been hearing all about this back and forth between you and Grodno's Earl William."

At that, Nicholas quirked a brow. Of course he had; Brenyn was perhaps the most gossip-prone messenger he had ever hired. The fact that she had managed to reach Westgard so promptly to deliver a message or two was his saving grace.

"Do you disagree with me?"

"I don't know," Loras frowned. "It's a bit difficult to really say they're Lurian, isn't it? Besides, they're only peasants; if this William was putting estates to the torch, it would be different..."

Nicholas shook his head in exasperation, to emphasis the vehemence of his disagreement.

"It's not nearly as simple as that, Loras. It's true that the term 'Lurian' is often poorly-defined, but these lands - Lupa Lapu and elsewhere - belonged to us once, and with the grace of the Bloodstars, they will be so again soon enough. But if we allow our soldiers to rape, pillage and reave their way through the towns and villages, they will never willingly follow us."

"But they will fear us," the squire fired back. "Father says that fear is the only thing that really forces obedience."

"Yes, they will be frightened. Mothers will tell their children of the Fitz Roberts monsters who will steal them away if they're naughty. But I will tell you this; devotion is far more powerful than fear. The peasantry will learn to truly appreciate the stability and prosperity that a proper hierarchy provides. Rule generously and there will be no reason for them to harbour thoughts of dissent. However, if you take away their livelihood, they will simply bide their time, waiting for the chance to rise up. Successful or not, revolt is an embarrassment to the realm."

Loras remained quiet throughout the lecture, knowing better than to interrupt his cousin. The weariness of a few minutes ago appeared to have been forgotten as the matter awoke him.

"It might seem like William is the practical man, seeing the situation for what it is and how it best benefits us, while I am a stubborn idealist, but it's not truly the case. Earl William no doubt thinks he is doing what's best, and I do not doubt his letters of compliance were written through gritted teeth, but all he encourages is short-termism. I look to our future; where our borders are brought to their fullest and the people we presume to rule toil productively. And to have that future become a reality, not just the pleasing ideal, we need their loyalty. That will never come if they're slaughtered in their droves today."

After such a lengthy monologue, Nicholas took a moment to gulp in some air. Loras remained silent, chewing on the inside of his cheek, sulking as though he had been scolded and rebuked.

"It also helps that abstaining from base cruelty is the right thing to do," Nicholas added with a soft, dry chuckle. With that, the tension in the air between them began to fade. The younger man loosed a deep sigh.

"I see your point, cousin," Loras eventually relented. "Even though I'm not sure I agree with you. But I'll put some more thought to it... and then I'll come back to challenge you on this again."

"Good. What would be the point in taking you to squire if you weren't able to think for yourself? If I'd ever wanted a mindless follower, perhaps I'd have taken one of William's men for my own. But for now, we both need our rest. It wouldn't do to ride out to meet the rest of the court with black rings around our eyes.&qu

With that, the Magistrate ushered the younger Archival back indoors. When he had sent him off to his bed-chambers, Nicholas strode back toward his study. The night was, tragically, still young and he had more letters yet to write. His hand and wrist began to sting painfully in reflex at further exertion. The war scars of a bureaucrat.

6th May

Winter Day -- Poryatu

Solomon Greybrook

Returning back to the Capital after a few weeks on the road, Solomon was at ease within his estate. It had been too long. Watching the ships from his chair by the Grand Harbor, it was nostalgic. Tradesmen, diplomats, knights, peasants and nobles alike all had to come to the shore this day. However, what caught Solomon's eye was the golden statue that stood in the harbor. Getting out of his chair, Solomon strolled down the stairs from his home onto the path down into the Harbor itself. A few minutes pass and Solomon arrived at what he sees every day from his home, the Golden Statue. Bending down, Solomon read the inscription:

A Golden Statue of Kurlock holding his infamous Toe Crusher to commemorate the victory of Sandalak over the Third South Island on July 25, 2016 by Pythia Jane Fletcher Chamberlain, Wyvern Warlord Isenthorpe Tezokian, Griffin Ghost Enkimahru Dragoness, and Lord Raven Alexei Dolohov.

No matter how many times he saw this statue that shined in the light, he could never place the point in history this statue depicted. Maybe it might be due to his lack of reading. Regardless, Solomon stood back and analysed the Golden Statue and muttered:

'Toe Crusher is a terrible name.'

Turning on his heel, Solomon went back up the path from which he came. Today was a day of sword fighting and sparring, not to be spent in the library or even in his chair.

The tournament awaited...

Winter Evening -- Poryatu

Leif Wilkins

Leif looked at the scroll in front of him titled Poetry Contest Announcement and eagerly looked for the first place winner. It was Isabella. He suspected this may be the result given her art was beautiful and fit to rival his.

  • sigh* "You need to do better Leif... The last time you got second place was in the Annual Imp Spring Triathlon Fare" Leif grimaced.

Leif was competitive. In his mind winning a second place in anything was equivalent to receiving but a peck from a wench after working his magic for a full night. Choosing not to lose spirit, he decided to be a good sport, and stay away from being a sore loser. He felt thankful for the newly acquired funds that would sponsor new inspiration and celebrate the triumph with his company. He admired Sir Aylwin and his dedication to being a patron of the arts. And as far Dame Isabella, even though he only won a second place in this competition, he had but a thought maybe he can win first place in something else.

Leif smiled as he rode on towards Santoo to assist with the monster infestation.

"As Dean of the University of Dwilight, and tutor for field research in all of its forms, I do so solemnly swear to;

Treat each and every student, graduate, and Dean with the respect they deserve as an individual, allowing no bias for creed, caste, or colour to alter my perception of their worth.

Always uphold the standards of peerless education, service, and education that the University represents.

Not infringe upon the educational structures of other Deans without going through the correct hierarchy of authority first.

Be punctual, communicative, and devoted to my tutelage, with the understanding that failure on my behalf to uphold these values is solely my responsibility, and that my position of Dean may be made forfeit if so."

Recited Leif as the new Dean of Art of the University of Dwilight.

Leif felt ecstatic for progressing in the world of Art, and was looking forward to what was to come. Education, enlightenment, beautiful students.

Kaguya Fujiwara

Two casualties. Wounds, not deaths.

Kaguya considered herself fortunate given the odds. There were no reinforcements. Not that she had expected any; the roads were notoriously unreliable in the mud and slush of winter even in the heart of the Empire, and would slow any march to the site of battle.

In any case the whole affair was over rather quickly.

There was the protective box that Alfreid and her retainers had formed around her. She remembered O-yoroi gleaming in the evening sun, the light catching the vibrant colours of each warrior's armour as her men unlimbered their yumi.

Then there was a shout from Alfreid and the coordinated twang of bowstrings as arrows were loosed. Several times they repeated this to great effect, but it was not enough.

Kaguya remembered the sudden din as the rabid pack closed in too close for the Yamatai longbows. Swords were drawn, her own included; a brilliant ripple of polished steel against the oncoming masses of fang and claw. At some point Alfreid had moved slightly closer, perhaps subconsciously, to shield her against the worst of it. His swept-hilted sabre of Lurian make distinctively juxtaposed against her own Yamatai tachi. Alfreid's easy stance and firm grip alluded to hours upon hours of practical fencing routines. Hers, a technique that was more rigidly traditional than experiential.

She recalled the slobbering roar of the enemy and the defiant warcry of her retainers.

Then it was over seemingly in moments.

There was thickening blood and ichor on her sword. Not her own, she realised with significant relief, though she did not recall how and when she had struck one of the beasts.

"Are you alright, milady?"

The voice was Alfreid's. Kaguya found him behind her, carefully wiping down his sabre.

"I... Yes. I am." She shook her head slowly in an attempt to clear it. "I shall have to sit down, for a moment, I think."

"Is that so?"

Alfreid's response was characteristically calm, although Kaguya could see some alarm in her Captain-butler's eyes.

"I am unhurt, if that is your concern." She held up a hand to forestall any further comment from him. "Just... Just see to my wounded men. Please. I need some time alone."

"Of course, milady."

Titos Drakos

As the ferry drew up to the docks, Titos was already leaping onto the boardwalk, determined never to get onto one of the accursed things ever again. He had suffered storms, delays from there being not enough wind, and incompetent navigators getting lost. He had had enough. From now on, he would keep both feet firmly on dry land. He waited only long enough for his men to disembark before striding away from the docks, slamming his helmet back onto his head. Once his men had assembled into marching formation he led them straight out of the city, parting the gawking crowds.

Leif Wilkins

Leif got up from his knees, took a few steps back, and admired his new travel tent that he finished putting together with the help of Xavier, Jimmy, and Olgierd. The tent was of a deep green fabric, adorned with a golden-yellow trim similar to that of his family's heraldry. It had a tall peak, with Luria's flag gracefully swimming in the wind. He went inside.

It was built to replicate his chambers in Irvington. Silk pillows of red, green, and blue, gilded in yellow, imported from the Sultanate of Arabesque across the sea were assembled together to form a bed. Candle-light kept the room bright, dancing playfully with each flicker. An incense kept the room smelling of citrus and mint. To replace the heavy oak table in his study, stood a smaller pinewood desk with quil and parchment.

"Perfect" thought Leif, his hands resting on his hips as he took a deep breath. "The only thing that is missing is a barrel of fine Southern Pinot Grigio".

Leif was now ready to properly tend to his duties as Dean of Art, with an appropriate environment to develop the year's curriculum. Now that he will need to travel more frequently than in his past, he could feel at home anywhere he went.

"Only 20 gold pieces for this magnificent assembly my lord? They may as well call you a thief!" Smiled Xavier

"Watch it Xavier! The only thing I steal is people's heart! But indeed, this was a great deal - and a worthy investment considering this came from the earnings of the Poetry Competition" winked Leif

7th May

Winter Day -- Poryatu

Sofia Nistalia

Sofia and her men lined up on the town's entry, the militias gathered behind them. The bright purple armours a stark contrast to the far less equipped militias. Her men were to hold the line at all costs, the aberrations walked forth towards the town, drooling and swaying as they went.

-We shall hold at all cost! None shall pass!

Sofia's yell incited a battle-cry from the rallied militias, they needed the morale boost against the monsters that appraoached. Winds from the north swayed the crops around them, the Euschean sea was with Luria on this war. The crude pallisades were manned by a few archers, raising their bows and shooting at the incoming monsters. As the first arrows struck, they broke into a charge. The archers retreated, and her men steeled for the charge.

It was for naught. The monsters, three times their size, broke through the shieldline as they shoved onwards, the militia quickly assisting their line, blade met flesh and claw met steel, but the monsters seemed endless. One fell, and another took its place. The line was forced to retreat, Sofia losing a few men during their retreat, until the monsters finally spreaded. The battle was over, the town was lost.


Her voice echoed through the battlefield, and the militias and her men retreated, Sofia watching as men, women, children and cattle were torn apart and eaten alive. Sofia turned around, taking out her damaged chestplate and grabbing her sword, digging through the wound on her shoulder to pull out a claw torn from its owner, the bone digging deep on her flesh as her men retreated, the menders working on her most injured soldiers as they traveled at this snail's pace. This would be a long walk home, and her men were needed in Thar Goruth.

Isabella Pavus

Isabella had been spending the whole day training in Giask in private. As the evening neared, one of her men barged in. She instinctively pointing her blade in his direction, before lowering it. "What is it?" she asked.

"We've orders to move out. Grodno is overrun. We must head for Outer Giask."

"I will finish up my training and have a short rest. Then, we will leave immediately, seeking to arrive by morning."

Solomon Greybrook

Despite the winter wind battering the Grand Harbor, Solomon ate his oats outside overlooking the waves beat against the shore as the sun was covered up by the clouds high in the sky. Suddenly, along the path that led to the shore, courtier Harvard, rather out of breath, began shouting:

'Sire! Sire! Urgent orders from the Marshal!'

Standing up, Solomon got out of his chair, put his bowl to the side and began to walk down from the house to meet Harvard at the gate. Gesturing outward with his hand, Harvard passed the rather battered letter to Solomon. With one quick skim, Solomon passed back to the courtier the letter with unease:

'Ensure that it is stored with the others, I need to summon the Guard.'

'Where are you going to take the Guard sire? Aren't you supposed to be participating in the tournament?'

'Harvard,' Solomon spoke with a far more assertive tone, 'some things are more important to Luria. Evil lurks on the shores of Grodno. Ensure Captain Hadroria reports to me before the sun sets.'

With that, Solomon donned his gloves and walked inside the house.

Nicholas Archival

Nicholas strode back through the gates to the manse. His sable cloak swept behind him, whipping upwards in the morning breeze, while he clutched tightly the pommel of his sword. The Silver Quivers were readying themselves swiftly; there was no time for the minor repairs they were due in Giask, there were other matters to attend to.

"Cousin, what's going on?" called Loras, rushing over to join him, confusion registering on his expression.

"It seems that Luria has been hit by the monsters which have been plaguing the other realms of Dwilight. There's a rallying call issued to Outer Giask - we're going to join it."

Loras looked over toward the retinue. Many seemed nervous or inefficient in their preparations. It was clear they had little experience in working as a unit, much less fighting.

"You want to lead them into the fight?"

"Yes," Nicholas sighed. "It is by no means ideal, and I've no doubt we will not provide a huge deal to the military response... but the monsters are there, and we are here. Men of House Archival are not cowards; we will do what we can, when we can. Ready your horse and armour."

William Fitz Roberts

William hears news of Grodno

The war elephants were marching through Nid Tek on the way to Askileon, with William, Godlinda and Anne riding alongside the beasts enjoying the beauty of the surrounding countryside. They were in deep conversation, laughing about the recent successes in Lupa Lapu when they saw a rider in the distance, approaching at break-neck speed. One of the Doppelsöldners atop of the elephants raised his arbalest in anticipation, but William held up his hand. The rider reined in alongside William, out of breath.

‘Message from your brother, m’lord’, the rider said, holding out a piece of parchment

‘My brother?’, William raised an eyebrow taking the letter, ‘what does Leopold want?’, He quickly scanned the letter, his eyes widening.

‘Johannes, send out a change of orders to the army now, they are to gather in Nid Tek as one force. Those in Giask are to go to Outer Giask at once. Godlinda, tell the troops to set a double pace now!!! We are needed in the south’

‘Why, what has happened?’, Anne asked, growing worried. William handed her the letter. She quickly read it and cried, ‘no, not my girls’, and spurred her horse forwards, riding in the direction that the messenger had come from, discarding the letter.

Godlinda picked up the letter and read:


Dire news. This morning a large pack of monsters invaded Grodno from the sea. Sea Watch has been overrun. The militia, the Viscountess Sofia and King Matthew put up a valiant defence given us time to fortify Fox Hall. We are barricaded inside and the Bravi are preparing to defend us. We should be able to hold out a few days. The twins are safe, as are Prospero, Lucrezia and Ranuccio. Maria and Girolama are also safe, and Girolama has sent a message to Franz but I doubt it will arrive for at least a week, if not more. However, Henriette was wounded helping Karl barricade the front gates

I am not sure how many messengers I will be able to sneak out past the horde, brother, but will try to send word again

Aut familia aut nihil

Godlinda looked up from this last line and whispered, ‘Henriette?’, before spurring her horse after Anne.

Tyra Andrasta Bluelake

Tyra had slept on the floor that night. It had felt much more familiar than the soft, layered bed in the chambers she had been offered at the palace. Looking at the smashed washbasin on the corner, the dame frowned. Those nightmares always came when she felt out of place. Anxiously, she got up and started getting dressed. Tunic, leather, chainmail. Today was another day for her to practice fighting at the academy... She had to admit she had enjoyed that, as boring as it sounded at first. The tutor had made her dance and evade and strike. He wasn't as random as the declawed, defanged monsters they had play fought as children, which made it harder. She had had to be smart.

As she was arranging her pale strawberry hair in a series of small braids on the side, just enough to remove it from her face but leaving the rest of it quite wild, Duncan knocked on the door. Exact time, precise knocks, always proper, Duncan. She thought as she opened for him. Seeing her in fighting garb, he looked surprised. "Have you gotten the news already, milady?" "I'm a knight, Duncan, not a lady. And what news? Have they drawn the tourney names?!" His eyes went from the pristine bed, into the messy floor bed of furs, to the broken basin. "No, that's not the news. A big horde of monsters arrived by sea into Grodno. It seems the competition might be suspended, or not, but in any case your marshal requests your presence in Outer Giask to prepare." He could see disappointment cross the young dame's face, along with relief But, why?, and finally her usual countenance when it came to monsters: ferocious exhilaration.

Letters were sent, questions were asked, paraphernalia checked and purchased, and they were soon ready to leave. As they hit the road, Tyra enjoyed the freedom of being outside, and the relief of postponing the tourney... She didn't feel quite ready to face lots of nobility at once, the emperor, a queen, maybe her kingly relative, or even worse... What if a Bluelake would have been there? Her blood boiled at the thought.

Aldrakar Renodin

Defending the Realm

With the reports coming in of ravenous beasts raging across the plains and rockscapes of Grodno Aldrakar had already send word to the Imperial Marshal to deal with the situation early in the morning. As the hours of the day passed by, more Nobles added their concern and it pleased him to see such dedication and sense of purpose among them. Dressed in resplendent oaken brown and decorated with gold the warriors of the Rendorian Elite Marched through the streets of Giask. The Imperial Banner fierce above their heads. The Citizens of the great city looked on as they saw the Emperor himself riding out to meet this threat of claw and fang.

Word has been left, in private hands, to be delivered to the Aeon Rosalind in person.


These words are from me to you and they begin with an apology.

Early this morning word reached me that a force of monsters had invaded Grodno from the seas. They equal an army akin to that of any of the neighboring Realms of Luria. Fortunately that is all they represent and it should be dealt with absent lasting problems. Sadly, that means I must ride out as honor demands and cannot meet you this evening as I had hoped I could. With luck, the affair should take some two to three days, including the ride back to Giask. Should you still be within the Golden City at that time, I shall do what I can to make up for lost time.

In the interim you could visit the Silver City of Askileon and be back in Giask well before I do.


The scroll was placed in Rosalind's hands by a shrewd looking man. Dressed sharply and perhaps thirty five summers old. The badge of office signified that he was part of the Emperor's personal Retinue.

Winter Evening -- Poryatu

Nicholas Archival

The journey toward Grodno had begun. Nicholas and his Silver Quivers, after several rushed hours of marching, set-up the beginnings of a temporary encampment near the border between there and Outer Giask, atop a low hill with a suitable height. The men rushed to and fro, setting up tents for their small numbers and more, for any other units that might join them.

"Lewyn," Nicholas ordered, "Ensure that the other units know of this camping ground."

The man nodded once, dutifully, and set off at a brisk pace.

Leif Wilkins

A report came in from Marshal Fitz Roberts - Rally in Askileon Purlieus. Leif felt excited as he was getting bored camping in Nid Tek and was eager to see the action of battle. As the Gwynnblades mobilized, Leif sang out a ballad:

When the monsters invaded, A ripple of fear was created , The kin of Luria gathered, Forces amassed, Through field and hill we all pass, Much aid and comfort we bring, Monsters will die die by sword and bow-string, The monsters are ugly, faces like squamous cloaca, No mercy will they see, And once again our people shall be happy and free!

Ciarghuala Dubhaine

"I doubt I'll be no more than a few days Em," Ciarghuala poured two glasses of wine and offered one to Lady Emily, seemingly oblivious to the hustle and bustle as her squire Synne directed the servants packing their field kit.

"Then why must I stay behind?"

"Well... alright I admit it, there will be some danger. Happy?"

"Not particularly," Em was reclining on a chaise longue upholstered in rich burgundy velvet, her satin lounging pyjamas more at home with the fabric than with the somewhat austere stonework of their private apartments.

"Look, you know I'd take you with me if I could, but this... well this could be the beginning of an invasion such as Luria hasn't seen in many years and I'll fight much better knowing you're safe here guarded by stout walls and even stouter hearts."

Em maintained her composure but there was the unmistakable sign of choler building behind those damnably beguiling, but strangely lugubrious eyes, "I am not a fragile maiden Lady Ciarghuala, as well you should know by now."

There was a strained silence for what seemed like hours but was probably no more than a minute or two.

"Just make sure you don't get yourself killed you insufferably lovable fool," Em placed her wine glass on a nearby occasional table and ascended from the burgundy velvet couch like the morning star against the first hint of dawn, arms outstretched to embrace the Lady of Poryatu.

Cador Andrasta

It was nearing dusk when they came across the first refugees from Grodno. These had been the lucky ones, those with horses and oxcarts, able to put distance between themselves and the hordes. From them, Cador learned that the hordes' advance had been slowed down by Lurian nobles in the area, but that they had paid a heavy toll for their bravery. They had done all they could.

Cador had his scouts running up and down the length of the road to Grodno, gathering reports where they could and keeping track of army movement. The Emperor was already well ahead, with nobles trailing behind him at varying intervals. Cador's Forlorn were somewhere in the middle. When they'd neared the border, Cador ordered his column to halt and rest for a moment. He gathered his captain and his lieutenants and led them into a hastily erected tent. When everyone was seated, he began.

"As you know, we've been hit hard. This ragtag band marching down the road should be able to handle the lesser horde in Grodno, but with the reports from the north speaking of an even greater threat roaming about, speed is of the essence." He waited for the others to sound their agreement. "Guthrum and Hayan, you will take the men and continue the march. Brysea, Cencius, you're with them. Grim will remain here for now, as will I."

This time, he was met with confused murmurs. "My lord, I don't understand.", Guthrum said. "Why stay behind now?"

Cador leaned back in his chair. "There is a personal matter I must see to first. I'll be catching up within a few hours at the most. In any case, we have little time to waste. Once the men have had a rest, continue the march. Leave four horses here for Grim and myself. That is all."

With that, he stood up and, with Grim in tow, left the tent to the stares of his underlings. Some time later, it was just Grimwold sitting next to him outside the tent. There, they waited.

Leif Wilkins

"Excuthe me milord" Vaughn tried to gain the attention of Leif as he walked up to him during the march. "Yes Vaughn? What is it?" Replied Leif "Didth you ever conthider running for ofith ath Grand Penetrator?" Vaughn tried to impressed Leif with his knowledge of politics, smiling with his missing teeth.

A few Gwynnblades behind them started laughing. Vaughn looked at them confused not catching on to the humour, considering they got over his lisp a week ago.

"Vaughn... I admire your umm.. Interest in my future. I've been called what you mention before, but certainly not in the house of noble lords and certainly not in government. You must mean Grand Panetier... Master Banker?" Laughed Leif

"Thoundth the thame to me!" Vaughn scratched his left buttock.

"Well Vaughn... There is a good reason why you're called a halfbreed" Chuckled Leif.

"A halfth bird?" Inquired Vaughn

"Yes Vaughn... A half bird..." Leif flicked a tear of laughter off the corner of his eye

Tyra Andrasta Bluelake

Tyra was walking alongside her captain Otwin, the whole Thunderborn trailing after them, and Duncan riding the main supplies wagon at the tail. She was glad they didn't have horses, for he'd make sure to ride by her side anywhere...

Right now she was free. Her hair was blown by the breeze but never reached her face. Her sword was sheathed and her chainmail fit snugly. The night air was pleasant, bringing scents of nature and sweaty men, owls hooted and wildlife ran about. She knew from those signs that the monsters were still far.

When they had almost reached the hill the Archival nobleman had pointed as a camping ground, Tyra saw a lone tent by roadside. Two men were sitting outside. She saw the colors of their tent and her heart jumped. Andrasta colors. Blue and red, trimmed with gold. The time had come. It was better here than in some stuck up hall... But she was still nervous. Looking at Duncan, he gave her a nod. She shook her head of wild hair and smiled.

With decisive movements, she detached from her unit and approached the tent. The King held an imposing demeanour, his short hair framing a sculpted face that still looked quite handsome in his 50s. Tyra hesitated. What if...? Shaking her head ever-so-slightly, the dame moved on. If there had been any doubt left, it disappeared when her own pale blue eyes met their exact piercing match on the Imperial Marshal's face.

She couldn't help but gift him with one of her precious dazzling smiles. Falling to one knee for a proper greeting, she suddenly felt like she had family again.

Cador Andrasta

The eyes gave it away. If he had any doubts about the heritage of the woman kneeling before her, they had gone the moment their gazes met. He hadn't seen eyes like that in almost forty years. Even looking at his own in the reflection of a pond or a polished silver plate, it was not quite the same. His mind wandered back to Norland, to his family, to his sisters. The eyes were just the same. He was already lost in the memories when Grimwold gave him a nudge from behind to bring him back. He looked down at the kneeling woman, and sank down as well, sitting cross-legged before her.

"Grim, some mead, if you would. I bet the lady has a thirst." He looked Tyra in the eyes. "You do drink mead, don't you, my lady Andrasta?"

Staedtler la Stylo

"Come on!" screamed Staedtler, holding his cap to his head against the wind as he ran on ahead of his men. "Limp faster, you cowards!"

Behind him scrambled his guard, a pair at the rear holding eachother upright as they sway their legs out wide in a wounded, wayward gait. Each movement at the knee buckled their tendons and bones. They grimaced with pain through the muddied bandages, day-old blood flaking at the nostrils of their broken noses.

"Cowards?" cried the youngest in disbelief. His face straining for a view from behind the bouquet of weapons hooked in his arms and tucked beneath his chin, clunking and rapping at his breastplate with every footfall.

"You heard the man," the captain yells with a dry, hoarse throat as she breaks into a rattling sprint. "Ryhard, Trien - I want to see you limp ... like bloody champions! Limp like all of hell is behind us! I will personally ... get down on my knees to massage ... and soap ... every cut and scrape myself ... once we're back on campus ground ... but you must. Limp. Faster!"

Her eyes are not towards her handful of soldiers, but stuck upon the southern horizon they left behind - to the wicked, shadowed hills painting the skyline above their heads. She can hear the barks and howls, smell the ashen smoke, and feel the bruises on her shield arm bite like wasp stings at her gauntlet joints. The memories are still raw and burdensome, yet still she strives to keep pace with her Lord as he dashes on forth like a loosened whippet down a racetrack straight.

"Yes, cowards! All of us!" Staedtler huffed, whipping the hair out of his eyes. "But would you rather be a fast coward ... or a dead one!? It's a very simple question!" The soldiers worriedly look between eachother from wounded to encumbered, racing Lord to shrugging captain, each a little wiser as to just how unprepared they are to shake the title. "Now, less philosophy ... more limping! Knees up!"

Tyra Andrasta Bluelake

"Mead!" Tyra laughed. "I do, milord, enjoy some mead... I'll say I never expected to find any in Luria, though!"

As Grimwold poured two mugs, the dame sat down to join Cador in a cross legged position. She eyed him with unending curiosity. Where had he come from, who was his family, how did he become such a power in Luria, was he good with a sword?

They clinked mugs and she lead the first toast "To the Andrastas!"

Titos Drakos

Titos marched at the head of his column pondering the reports he had been receiving from the southern half of Luria. It was troubling, so many forces of darkness emerging so close to home. He gripped the hilt of his blade tightly before turning and proclaiming to the lines of his phalanx; "We can ill afford a pleasant strolls pace now, We must make haste, for Luria needs her shields". The men clashed their shields with their spears shouting acknowledgment before surging forward doubling the previous pace.

8th May

Winter Day -- Nid Tek

Sofia Nistalia

Sofia looked back at what remained of her men. Their wounds were patched, but their equipment was broken. They had to bear the blunt of the relentless monster assault, from the first blade to the last cut. Over the hills she could watch the camped nobles, preparing their armies. She felt useless, but her presence would be unwelcome, a weight on the effort instead of a boon.

Sofia embraced her left arm, severely weakened after the wound she recieved yesterday, she even struggled to raise a shield, but she had to continue. She couldn't afford to sit back while those abominations razed the lands. She looked at Adric and raised both eyebrows. It was a commong esture between the viscountess and her captain, and the captain nodded at her in return.

Emyhr le Craint

Little time was given in warning. As the vanguard crested the hill they were immediately ambushed. With great ferocity, the battle became pointless. The overwhelming numbers of beasts were too much. One final order was shouted to the men before more damage could be done.

"Men, scatter, this is a lost battle. We must escape and prepare to join the defense."

Emyhr's voice could barely be heard over the monstrous sounds as endless hoards clashed against the the shield wall of the Vanguard. Captain Gustaf, who was further down the line, heard the order. Repeating the same, the wall began to break as men pulled away. With one final swing, Emyhr took down another beast. Without warning however, another beast pounced onto Emyhrs back slashing relentlessly. His back becoming more and more raw and red with each slash, his armor stood no chance.

"Sir Emyhr", captain Gustaf shouted as he impaled the beast with no hesitation, catching Emyhr as he slumped over. "Sir, are you alright? let us get you out of here".

Captain Gustaf, carrying the partially conscious body of Emyhr, fled the battlefield in the direction of the scattered men. He looked back briefly, seeing the monsters now fighting over the men who had fallen in battle. Knowing that he could do nothing to saving their corpses, he continued on. Emyhr, looking dazed and unaware of his surroundings, turned to the captain.

"Gustaf, thank you, I dont think any of us would have survived without your actions here." With this, Emyhr passed out, not truly knowing of the horrors that had befallen his vanguard.

Solomon Greybrook

Solomon looked across his small group of men across the landscape that he knew well. Grodno. As he had been travelling with the rest of the Lurian forces, refugees have begun to stream through towards Outer Giask. Poor souls. They don't deserve this.

Waiting for the rest of the Lurian army to arrive, the Greybrook Gaurd had set up for the day in a small grove with some shelter from the elements. To his right, Captain Hadroria had been attending the troops, ensuring their commitment but also reassuring their nerves. This is the largest army that they have all been apart of. Even Solomon himself. Looking beyond the makeshift camp, Courtier Harvard had insisted in joining the Guard. After talking to Hadroria, Harvard came and sat down next to Solomon:

'So, sir, what are we actually going to see beyond that horizon? It excites me but at the same time, I am sick to my stomach.'

Solomon paused, screwed up his face as if to remember something important. After a second, his face relaxed again:

'When you grow up by the sea Harvard, you spend a good deal of time looking at the horizon. You wonder what the waves might bring to the Harbor. What intrigued me when I was younger was where the sea might deposit me if I chose to explore. It took a while but once you have lived between two places, it dawned on me that the harbor was predictable. Merchants came roughly at the same time every season, fishermen went on their boats to seek goods on the Euschean Sea every early morning and markets began hour or so after sun rise. That is what O'Hagan taught me. I miss that fool. Sometimes he could not be more wrong. I think this is one of those times where he could not be more wrong. Tonight or tomorrow, we are going to see beyond that horizon. I am not sure about you, but no sane person should be looking forward to it.' Harvard's expression began to dull more Solomon talked. However, there was a spark of enthusiasm that could not be placed.

'At least we will see the Emperor ride out into battle. Always wanted to see that.' Harvard muttered.

'Indeed my friend. At least we will be able to see those golden trimmed soldiers.'

Winter Evening -- Askileon Purlieus

Tyra Andrasta Bluelake

Her piercing pale eyes were making out the shapes of the battlefield. The Thunderborn were already in Grodno, along with several other lurian units. Tyra was curious about them all, who lead them, how did they fight, who would stay behind their men, who would rip monsters apart with their blades.

Like the blade she felt through her head tonight. Her advantage point was on a hill crested with a few trees. While Duncan talked to her scout about the escaping refugees, about the burrowing monsters making new lairs, about her own estate being overrun by undead headed south, about the coming units and bushels of food, Tyra chipped away at the bark of the tree with her nails and silently cursed Tyr for the collection of nails on her head.

She barely recalled the previous night. Cador had definitely outdrunk her! She vaguely remembered him allowing her to call him uncle, or was it NOT to call him uncle? She moaned and banged her forehead against a tree. Now her hair was wild and full of leaves. She just wanted to go kill something. Morrow was certainly taking her time...

Rosalind Foxglove

Rosalind accepted the scroll from the Royal messenger and read its contents. After pondering for a few moments, she called over a scribe and dictated a letter.

Suzerain Emperor Aldrakar,

Duty must always come first. May you triumph in your battles against the invading hordes without serious wounds. I fear that we are seeing a fresh great migration of the hordes to the East.

I will take your suggestion and visit Askileon before taking the ferry back to the Giask.

My regards,


The scribe handed his pen to Rosalind so that she could sign her name. The Aeon then waited until the scribe dripped red wax on to the scroll and then she pressed her ring in to the cooling wax to form the Royal seal of the Westgardian Court. She took the scroll and personally placed it in to the hands of the waiting member of the Lurian Royal Retinue, ordering him that he was to hand it to the Emperor himself.

9th May

Winter Day -- Askileon Purlieus

Myr Arnickles Renodin

The Crossroads of Valour

Myr approached Grodno at the helm of Redmanes. Part of the army was already rallied for battle, yet most of it was arriving after him. It was to be his first real battle. He crossed swords before in single combat, but never before was he amidst the clang of steel and bone, and scream of men and beasts. The ranks of the savage army were a sight to behold. Over ten dozen beasts of all shapes and colours, many of them twice the size of a man. He felt his stomach rise up both from the sight and from the stench reaching his nostrils. Suddenly he stopped smelling the foul odour, the weather has changed and the monsters were suddenly downwind of the Lurian army, which now had the beasts' undivided attention. The battle was about to begin.

Everything about the monster horde was shouting 'indomitable force' and Myr's every instinct was shouting "flee", "retreat". A man cannot face a beast twice or thrice his size without fear... or at all. He had hoped - not out loud, certainly not! but in the deepest, most natural part of his mind - he had hoped that his first battle would be against human enemy. A man is born to the civilisation and only through training and effort can become a creature of violent strife, diving into the fray as if into the warm embraces of home; the monsters however - they are born to bite and tear, and claw, and rend. For us it is battle, for them it is dinner. Myr took a glance upon the letter with Imperial Marshal's seal, "infantry is to deploy in the back" - he read and felt comfort at the words.

He shuddered. In fact - he recoiled at the feeling of comfort. With a naked hand he felt the golden engraved lion on his left pauldron. "Compose yourself!" - he angrily whispered at himself. The Lion knights of Luria don't cower before any threat! First battle or a hundredth one, we are lions among animals, we project the majesty of Luria, we inspire fear and awe! We roar!

"Men! We deploy in the front! Redmanes will take the first charge of the beastly hordes. We will sink our blades in their foul flesh before anyone else." - he ordered.

"But my lord..." - Captain Waldred tried to oppose.

"For the Empire, Waldred." - said Myr, not allowing him to finish.

Captain simply nodded, he needn't forward the order, as all 34 of the Redmanes heard their lord, he simply said in a louder voice: "For the Empire."

"For the Empire!" - Redmanes repeated in shout.

Deploying on the field in front of the army he was surprised to see other units deploying next to him. His surprise diminished when he saw the banners of King Karibash. He smiled knowing that today he shall see the Toren in battle.

Not an hour later eager paws of a beast in the front reached for Myr, tearing into his flesh. His vest softly glowed with noble blues and silvers, adding to his courage as he wrestled both the beast and his panic off of himself, shortly before blacking out.

As he woke up he felt his first battle-scar and smiled contentedly. His smiled turned to frown as he realized that he can feel the skin on his chest, meaning that his vest is no longer there. "Oh no!" - he exclaimed.

10th May

Winter Day -- Askileon Purlieus

William Fitz Roberts

Training Manfred

William watched as Manfred attempted to disarm Godlinda, who was lazily parrying his strikes. She was doing her best to encourage the lad, but it didn’t help his confidence that she was eating an apple while duelling him

‘You’ve got to, mmm, put more force behind it,’ she said taking another bite, ‘else I can just do this’, batting away his blade with a lazy flourish. William could see she was beginning to get exasperated. ‘Boy, a rapier should not be able to successfully block a broadsword, put you bloody weight behind it’, she said, her frustration causing her to raise her voice. William decided it was high time that he stepped in

‘Thanks Godlinda, I will take it from here’, Godlinda looked up at this before deftly stepping back and bringing her rapier to her face in a salute, before sheathing it and going to one side where some of the doppelsöldners were watching in interest.

William picked up a guiding stick formally used for guiding the war elephants and walked into the ring. ‘Boy’, he said calmly, ‘I want you to do something very simple for me. Make me drop this stick’

Manfred, confused, looked up at William and said, ‘is that all? You haven’t even got a proper weapon’

‘Don’t get cocky just yet’, William growled, ‘now, try and take the damned stick’

Manfred swung wildly at William’s outstretched arm, which William dodged easily, stepping forward so he was behind Manfred and rapped the stick on the back of the boy’s knees, causing him to cry out and fall to the floor.

‘Try again’. Manfred obeyed, thrusting forward, but this time William brought the stick down hard on Manfred’s wrist, causing the boy to drop the sword. ‘Not good enough, again’.

William could see the anger growing in the lad now, who began to swing wildly left and right. All he received for this was a series of sharp cracks resulting in a bleeding nose.

‘Are you sure that you are really Antonia’s son? Might she have just picked you up off the streets of Askileon somewhere? That would explain an awful lot boy’, William began to mock as Manfred continued to try and hit him, ‘The son of some back street whore, that is what you really are. My cousin must simply have taken pity on you, and taken you in. You are useless filth, you are nothing. You are worth less than the dirt on my horse’s shoe, you are beneath the muck that my dogs bring in. You are as useful as Rannuchio’s vomit. This is probably why Antonia, nor anyone else for that matter, doesn’t really love you’

Manfred bellowed in rage at this last part, and swung upwards, catching William in the face, who was forced to take a step back. William could see the cold fury so often present in himself in Manfred’s eyes, sweat pouring down his brow as he panted. William reached his hand up to his cheek and examined the blood that he found on his fingers

‘Maybe there’s Fitz Roberts blood in you yet. Come on boy, again’

Solomon Greybrook

The Aftermath of Grodno

Looking over Grodno now, Solomon did not believe that he would live through the night a day or two ago. Sitting there with a sling around his left arm and the bandages around his whole torso, Solomon sat on the hill and recalled the last few days...

Vivid colours washed through Solomon's vision as loud clangs of metal, roars and screams alike shook his eardrums. Unable to truely comprehend what was going on. Solomon turned to his right and saw Harvard bleeding.

'Sire! Why didn't you help me? Why did you bring me here!' Harvard screamed with his body lax against a body of a unspeakable. Solomon tried to run towards his loyal servant, but his legs could not move.

'Sire! Help me! Why aren't you helping...' A large monstrosity rose behind him and begun to descend onto the courtier. Solomon wanted to scream out.

He could not. (End)

Solomon shot awake again, in a complete sweat drenched the sheets on the bed he was in. Again, this sudden sharp pain down his back forced Solomon to lie down again. To his right, Solomon heard a familar voice. 'Sire? You are awake? Oh thank the Bloodstars. Please don't mind the arm, the healers said it was only a flesh wound, no matter how bad it looked.'

Able to turn to his right, sat there on a small, wooden chair, was Harvard.

Rolling back onto his back again, Solomon wondered what happened as he began to fall asleep again to see his left arm covered in bandages of red.

Waking up for the third time, Solomon looked around his bed side, no one was there. Looking to his left arm, the bandages had changed. Curious as Solomon was, he knew it would be for the best not to look. It was daytime now outside, nothing truly going on apart from the typical weather. However, the pain down his back seemed grow in strength and felt almost to be alight:

'Harvard! Harvard!' Solomon shouted.

There was no reply.

As he looked to the chair Harvard had been sitting on, there was a pile of messaged addressed to him.

'Great. Paperwork.' Solomon thought out-loud. 'At least it will keep my mind of things and distract me from this pain...'

The day passed as Solomon struggled to deal with the burning like symptoms across his back. Alas, Solomon had caught up with the news of the day. His 'serious injury' seemed to forced the Guard retreat from The Battle of Grodno, according to Hadroria's scribe. With the Emperor's intervention, the hordes were now gone from Grodno. According to the rest of the report, Almeric, Bart and Richardson were killed early on with the first wave while Avina and Tobey were killed when the Gaurd was retreating. Many were saved by the Healers on their return.

'May they rest now.' I need to send Harvard to thank those Healers. They seemed to have saved me too. Solomon put down the reports and messages and closed his eyes, trying to ignore the pain in his back.

They were good soldiers. Started at the same time from Giask, they traveled at least two trips west with them.

He was lucky. They were not. There is no more to it than that he thought. He won't blame himself again.

11th May

Winter Evening -- Askileon Purlieus

Solomon Greybrook

Meeting at the Border Looking over the correspondence that Solomon received, he was concerned. Standing at 24 men strong, the Guard can do better, be stronger and not fall victim to the woes of Grodno. With his armour to his left, he picked it up: 'This is not enough to serve the realm.' he muttered. The reports from the outlier lands show the threat still lurked on Luria's borders. With a thought, Solomon instinctively shouted across the encampment:

'Harvard! Draft me a letter to the Marshal!'

A few hours pass, and his request was confirmed.

'Sir, is this really the right decision?' Harvard commented after reading the Marshal’s reply.

Signalling Harvard to walk with him, Solomon explained:

‘Harvard, Luria needs more. The guard cannot be just the forces of Greybrook anymore. They need to be more than one Knight’s personal retinue. They need to be Luria’s.’

Solomon continued his explanation while overseeing the camp pack away.

‘I have thought about this for a long time Harvard. I am not like my second cousin with his newly found faith. Neither am I like my brother whom was an idealist. I call this land home and I want to protect it and everything it that Luria calls its own.’ Solomon let out a deep sign and composed himself. ‘Harvard just remember that I trust you. Please trust me in return.’

A few hours pass on the trail back to Grodno. Winter was still upon the paths which made it more difficult to transverse. Solomon’s injury was not as strenuous as it once was, but he could still feel the light ember of pain that is still there.

From the horizon, one of the scouts came to Solomon and spluttered out:

‘Sire! The Marshal's Tercios are upon the horizon ahead! Shall we hail them?’

This must be the new scout that we hired in Grodno Solomon thought.

‘Of course, you hail the Marshal’s Tercios!’ Solomon shouted. With that, Harvard quickly looked at Solomon for a second, nodded, and went to the front of the pack with the newly recruited scout to meet the Marshal’s forces. Taking a second to compose himself, Solomon shouted:

‘Guard! Halt! Present arms! The Marshal is arriving!’ Solomon shouted while making a mental note to ask the Marshal about his unique organisation of his unit.

While the Guard organised themselves, Solomon looked towards the approaching Tercios. As the sun settled into dusk, he could still make out the black and yellow of the soldiers coming towards him. Behind the column and rank were numerous individuals upon horseback. However, one stood head and shoulders above them all, clad in pitch black armour. The Marshal. Almost perfectly built upon his rather large frame, he towered over any average man.

‘Look beyond the horizon to find fortune the motto says. Maybe the horizon has brought me something today.’ Solomon muttered to himself as he watched Harvard stand in front of the Fox Hall Tercios and declare:

'The Earl of Grodno and Marshal of the Iuvenilis Attingas Parvulorum! Ahead, Solomon Greybrook, Knight of Giask, hails you!'

William Fitz Roberts

Marching Home

'The Earl of Grodno and Marshal of the Iuvenilis Attingas Parvulorum! Ahead, Solomon Greybrook, Knight of Giask, hails you!'

William was talking intensely with Marc Antonio when he heard the shout go up. He turned to look back at Johannes, the fussy little man attempting to sort through the numerous letters, deciding which ones were worthy of his master’s attention.

‘Remind me, which one is Solomon?’ Johannes looked up and immediately reached for his notebook, tongue between his teeth as he flicked through the pages, finally alighting on the relevant page

‘Not much on him, sire, been a bit quiet in the Realm. He’s one of those that you reprimanded last month, besides that all told he is an impeccable soldier’, the secretary read out primly.

‘Right’, William replied, smiling to himself, before turning to his mounted companions, ‘fancy a little fun?’

‘Husband, you are wicked!’ Anne exclaimed, ‘Don’t torment the poor soul, he has ever been loyal to you after all’

‘You grow less fun when we’re around other people, has anyone ever told you that?’William mocked, ‘fine then. Josef, halt the troops here. We have been marching all day, they deserve their rest’

William’s new captain barked the order with the cool efficiency apparently present in all of his family. The Roists seemed to produce half of the captains in the Fitz Roberts employ. William kicked his horse into a trot, his companions following suit. They rode around the neat marching column formed by the doppelsöldners that made up the tercio. With William at the lead, they made a party of six, of which two were women, as they rode up to the man that had hailed them. Riding casually passed the herald and the scout, they reigned in directly in front of the small grey and blue group of halberdiers, struggling to fall into order and properly present arms. One of the men flinched as William’s jet black mare struggled at her bit, blowing out air through her nostrils into the man’s face

Marc Antonio looked to William, he himself astride a bay gelding. ‘Cousin, is this what the Empire claims to be soldiers these days? No wonder we are so beset! I see why you only hire Poryatuns, every man here seems so weak’

‘Now, now cousin,’ William chided, ‘these soldiers saved our home from destruction, remember? We owe them the lives of our daughters, for which we shall be eternally grateful’. William looked down the small line to the two figures astride horses.

‘Sir Solomon!’ William exclaimed, smiling broadly, his snarling helm clasped in one arm, ‘I believe that this is the first time that we are meeting in person. You must excuse my cousin for his rudeness. He has lots of ideas, and is quite disparaging of those who don’t follow them’

Solomon Greybrook

First Meeting of Solomon of Giask and William of Grodno

‘Sir Solomon!’ William exclaimed, smiling broadly, his snarling helm clasped in one arm, ‘I believe that this is the first time that we are meeting in person. You must excuse my cousin for his rudeness. He has lots of ideas, and is quite disparaging of those who don’t follow them’

Taking off his helm, Solomon saw clearly for the first time the Marshal in the flesh. Instantly, the intimidating presence of his rather full frame came into view. However, the whit of the man almost took Solomon by surprise: 'Marshal! It is a pleasure!' Solomon asserted. 'I can finally put a face to the name. It is a shame it has taken this long to finally meet.' Looking to the Marshal's retinue, his company matched his statue and reputation. Then looking to his own unit for a split second, he was rather disappointed that the rank and file had only just presented arms. All of those in the Guard were fully trained, seasoned campaigners that fight unspeakables with honour.

Yet, they were intimidated by six horses.

Captain Hadroria had removed his helm and appeared to be very focused on the matter at hand. However, Solomon knew that he was raging inside at the discipline of his unit. Facing the Marshal again, Solomon knew that this was the best chance to make a strong impression on the man a few years his elder.

'There is a clearing a few hundred yards behind us Marshal. If it would please you, we would be honoured if you would make camp with us tonight. Fortunately, I have some of House Greybrook's best distilled alcohol flavored with Juniper, Red Wine my merchants picked up in Giask or Ale which you are open to you, your family and highborn companions.'

Karibash ka Habb

As Sir Tohrm wanders his way to the Toren camp, he notices the smells of foreign cooking and the laughter and chatter of foreign tongues. He stands there a moment, wondering where to start, when a man not much older than him walks over. He is shorter, shoulders broad and forearms thick, but his neck and head seem like that of a teenager, misplaced on the body of a man. His voice is untinged by any accent, "Hail and well met friend. You must be nobility," he bows before continuing, "but we were not expecting any. May I be of assistance?" Sir Tohrm speaks his name and his desire to join the celebration for battles won. The man nods, smiling, "aye, but we aren't able to entertain you formally, if that suits my lord." Sir Tohrm nods. "Excellent! I am Siegberht, a hirdman. My uncle Ehrwig is the head húskarl, what you would call captain of this company. We are gathered around the fire eating and drinking, come." He nods towards the crowd of men with the smoke of a fire visible in the centre.

The men are gathered in a circle. At the back, men stand and chat, swilling drinks and joking, closer in they watch the storytelling of old men. At the front the men sit, younger ones on the ground while older ones sit on rocks and boxes. Karibash is hard to miss, seated on a stool and flanked by fully armoured men, his armour and shield lay on the ground beside him, sword ready at his hip. His features look especially grim in the light of the fire, but his eyes twinkle as he listens. Before he can ask, Siegberht begins to translate the storytelling. Quickly finding a cup of Lurian wine, they drink whatever is plentiful, and a bowl of gruel, saltbeef and turnip, he takes in their shouting and acting out of battles and duels.

An old man perched on a rock horks loudly, spitting into the fire. He calls out and the men quiet: "shut up piss worms, let's hear a true Saga" Siegberht explains. There is a bit of commotion as drums are produced, they are beat slow and rhythmic. Almost as if on cue a group of men begin humming in unison, a mournful tune, "The tale of the slaughter in Lesthem." The old man begins singing, explaining the circumstances of the battle, the charge, the melee. When he gets to the melee, Karibash rises and draws his sword, demonstrating. With each blow he sustained he points to the corresponding scar, he swings powerfully and Tohrm sees a memory of the warrior that once was, the fire reflecting madness and anger in his eyes.

As the verse ends the men are quiet, contemplative of the old warrior. A young man hops up and begins exclaiming of the time he fought a bear with just his hands: the men jeer and laugh in disbelief and the ruckus begins anew. Having finished a few mugs of wine and his food, Siegberht leads Torhm back to the edge of the camp.

"I hope you've enjoyed this. Tell us next time and we may formally receive you." He turns back to the crowd a moment. "I hope you are not incredulous of our stories. They are just that, largely based on sh*t. But the Old Toren" he nods back to where Karibash is sitting, "his Saga is frighteningly accurate." Siegberht bows, "Hail and well met, Ser Elrath."

Tohrm Elrath

Tohrm meandered through the campsite arrayed on the fields of western Luria. Despite the fatigue he had felt from the battles, he felt a satisfaction watching the soldiers make conversation and merriment. It elevated his waning spirit to see the commonfolk handle this invasion with such heart. Despite the years he had spent in Luria now, he realised his time had been short here. This was no doubt the first hordes some of these men and women had fought.

His first stop was at the quarters of the young Sir Myr, who had taken a wound upon the fields of Grodno. Tohrm decided not to disturb the youthful knight, should he wish to remain in rest, but he would like to converse with him to gauge his feelings of the campaign so far, if he were admitted an audience.

His path then took him to the foreign smells emanating from the camp of Sir ka Habb. His retinue was fearsome indeed, as he had been told, but to see them in action had been truly awe inspiring. Tohrm wished to celebrate with ka Habb, perhaps in an attempt to understand some of the culture of his people. How indeed, they handled their after combat drinks no doubt.

Finally he would spend some time trying to acquaint himself with the other nobles whos banners he was not familiar with. Scipione, Zeratul, Aylwin and Sevastian, if they were present in the camp.

A long day of celebration with soldier and noble alike would certainly take its toll on the scion of house Elrath. He would eventually return to his tent to find Marshal Selemnir, and he visibly smiled as he approached the man. Holding his hand out for a firm warriors grasp, he remarked to his superior.

"A great victory to Luria. With courage and a bit of luck, we will be free of this menace soon. I must congratulate you on organising the army so swiftly. Perhaps I could stay awake for a few more drinks. What say you, Bennet?"

Tohrm pondered the battles prior to the clean up in Sulorte as his squire removed the plate armour from his person. His shoulders ached from the strain of the fields of Grodno. A dozen men of his company had fallen, but such was the fate of the warrior.

He sat wearily on his chair within his tent and poured himself a goblet of wine. Not his favourite choice of drink, but it took the edge off of the march. He regarded the longsword tucked in its bloodied sheathe, resting upon his suit of mail. It dawned on Tohrm that these were the largest battles he had been a part of, and the greatest was yet to come. Yet there had been no hesitation in his orders. No thought to the fallen.

Until now.

The realm needed protection now. Once the monsters were dealt with, the fragile borders of the neighbouring realms who had suffered greater than Luria would be plunged into disarray.

And for perhaps the first time, Tohrm's thirst for glory abated. He wished silently to himself that the ambitions of his peers did not lead to further bloodshed. The coming days would hopefully assuage his fears.

Rising from his seat, Tohrm stepped outside the canvas entrance to his mobile quarters and gazed across the army encampment. Striding purposefully out between the rings of soldiers huddled by their fires, he deigned it best to acquaint himself with the knights he had fought with.

What better way to take his mind from the troubles that loomed ahead?

Tohrm would sit amongst the Toren camp, not seeming to be particularly out of place amongst the lowborn warriors. Soldiers seemed to share his more callous humour and straight forward demeanour after all.

It was when Karibash's saga began that Tohrm levied his full attention. The rough and coarse entertainment preceeding it had not prepared him for the far more sober rendition of the Toren. He felt a poignant sense of detachment. It was as if his own accomplishments in Luria had been put in perspective.

Where did he hope to be when he was in the aged Toren's place? It was clear to him now that his journey to a great legacy, had barely even begun.

He dare not interrupt the musicality of the show, content to bask in its lofty atmosphere. Once they had ended and he was brought to the edge of the camp, he bowed deeply.

"Tell Sir ka Habb I did not mean to disturb; his hospitality was most welcome all the same.

The campaign had not left me with time for formalities, in future I will make sure to let my visitations be known well in advance."

Sevastian Schwarzherzig

Sevastian took a swing of ale, washing down the gruel being eaten in Karibash's camp. The men had been leery at first, but upon learning this young knight spoke their language, and sense of humor, they warmed to him. The barrel of wine hadn't hurt either. He had a small crowd gathered about him, and he was in the midst of a particularly raunchy joke,

"So I said to the wench, so I said 'Madam, may I push in your stool?" he finished with a wry grin. He turned his head when he heard the common tongue being spoke.

"Tell Sir ka Habb I did not mean to disturb; his hospitality was most welcome all the same. The campaign had not left me with time for formalities, in future I will make sure to let my visitations be known well in advance."

Sevastian hopped off the bench he was perched on, a chicken leg in hand.

"Until next time! Now, make sure that other barrel makes its way to the old Toren. Tell him it comes with my mother's regards!"

Sevastian clapped a hand on Tohrm's shoulder.

"Lively lot, them Torens, wouldn't you say?" Sevastian said merrily, whirling about Tohrm and offering a hand.

"Sevastian H... Errr Schwarzherzig, Knight of Askileon, Dean of Theocracy of the Dwilight University, at your service."

William Fitz Roberts

Setting a roadside camp

'There is a clearing a few hundred yards behind us Marshal. If it would please you, we would be honoured if you would make camp with us tonight. Fortunately, I have some of House Greybrook's best distilled alcohol flavored with Juniper, Red Wine my merchants picked up in Giask or Ale which you are open to you, your family and highborn companions.'

William nodded at Solomon’s words and snapped his fingers. Instantly, his soldiers moved to obey, breaking ranks and heading off the road to the clearing indicated by Solomon. He, Anne, Godlinda, Marc Antonio, Johannes and Louis dismounted and led their horses following the Tercio.

‘I am unsure anything out of Giask will satisfy my soldiers, but you are welcome to share in our own stores. I personally only drink wine at banquets to keep up appearances, if I have a choice I never touch the stuff. Come let us talk, I am sure that there is lots you wish to discuss’, William said over his shoulder as he walked down into the woods bellow

12th May

Winter Day -- Askileon Purlieus

Solomon Greybrook

Greater Meaning

Come let us talk, I am sure that there is lots you wish to discuss’, William said over his shoulder as he walked down into the woods bellow.

Catching up to the Marshal after getting off his horse, Solomon was more at ease now. Despite the Marshal towering over him, he conveyed a aura of integrity which encouraged Solomon to discuss his future plans as they walked down into the woods:

'I would like to follow on from the dispatches that my scribes have been sending you. As you are aware, I requested a refit in Giask for my unit. Although they do not look as impressive, the Greybrook Guard are a worthy soldiers on the battlefield.'

By this point, they had reached the clearing which he saw earlier. The Marshal's Tercio's were well on their way to setting up camp for the night with the Guard close behind.

'So,' Solomon continued while the Marshal stopped to observe the clearing in-front of them, 'I wanted to ask you what greater meaning this unit could achieve as part of Luria's military forces. As you can tell, there are only a couple of dozen of them. However, with the new economic backing my family have received, I can expect to maintain at least a half a century highly trained soldiers, maybe more. Considering recent events, this is needed in order to maintain Iuvenilis Attingas Parvulorum's current position in the south and south west especially.'

Solomon paused to look over his unit. After finding Captain Hadroria in the crowd, Solomon gestured to him:

'That man there, Captain Hadroria, is the beginning of what this unit can accomplish under the right circumstances. The man is honourable, can hold himself and lead others in the battlefield and cares little for his own personal glory. However, the most important virtue I believe he has, the unit and I hold is the utter commitment to serving the Emperor and Luria.'

Solomon breathed in the cold winter air for a second, readjusted his the position of his helm under his right arm and looked to the Marshal for his reply.

William Fitz Roberts

Exactly what we need

Solomon breathed in the cold winter air for a second, readjusted his the position of his helm under his right arm and looked to the Marshal for his reply.

William ducked under a low hanging branch, listening to the steady flow of conversation coming from the knight next to him. He looked up at the words ‘cares little for his own personal glory’, and then smiled at the words ‘utter commitment to serving the Emperor and Luria’

‘Come’, he beckoned to Solomon, ‘You’re exactly the kind of man I am looking for’, and began to make his way through the camp. As he passed, he tossed his helmet to one of the soldiers, shouting at him to clean it. The man caught it without looking up, placed it down carefully and continued to polish his own helmet

‘Well caught, Ulrich’, William called over his shoulder as he strode through the camp, stepping over discarded pikes and newly erected guide-ropes

‘Cheers, Bill’, Ulrich called back

They reached a spot where Godlinda and Anne had already placed some logs in a circle, and Marc Antonio was happily preparing some dried beef for their evening meal. William sat between his wife and his cousin.

‘Come, sit, eat with us’, William said, indicating two logs opposite him. ‘I am to found a new knightly order, one dedicated to service to the Hegemony of Luria, not to promoting self-importance and vain glorious charges’. Marc Antonio snorted at the obvious jibe at the Ordo Leonis

‘But wait, where are my manners?’ William said cheerily, ‘I must introduce you to everyone. This is my wife, the Lady Anne. This is my former captain, Godlinda, newly promoted to major. That fussy little man by the horses is my secretary, Johannes, you have already met my cousin Marc Antonio, and this’ William smiled broadly, gesturing towards a man quietly looking over diagrams on the edge of the circle ‘is Louis Corvinus, a military genius whom I recently met in Giask’. The man gave a small wave without looking up, adding a small note to one of the diagrams.

William looked up as a man and a boy, not quite twelve, came up to the circle. ‘Ah, excellent, you are both here too. Solomon this is Godlinda’s brother Jofef, my new captain, and Marc Antonio’s nephew Manfred. Come, both of you, sit, I am telling the good knight about the Ordo Volpes’

The boy Manfred, his nose clearly recently broken, smiled at Solomon. ‘Please to meet you, sir’

‘Excellent, now that we are all well acquainted, you can tell us what you plan for the Greybrook Guards and then I can tell you of the Ordo Volpes.’

Solomon Greybrook

‘Excellent, now that we are all well acquainted, you can tell us what you plan for the Greybrook Guards and then I can tell you of the Ordo Volpes.’

Solomon sat opposite the Marshal in this newly formed circle of logs after hearing this new proposal. A order of Knights? This is what he had been looking for. With some new found enthusiasm, Solomon begun to describe his vision: 'Well, as you have observed Marshal, the Guard purely wield Halberds and short-swords, as by tradition. While this will probably continue, the tactics and formations are suited for small numbers of men. Hence my dilemma marshal.' Looking behind him to see the Fox Hall Tercios array of weaponry. Solomon then continued:

'Traditionally, my family have never been archers of any kind and while we have wanted to become Cavaliers, we have not been in a position until now to fund or be worthy of Calvary. However, times change, people change and realms war with their once strongest allies.'

Solomon paused and looked to towards his new companions around him. Then Solomon, with a new found determination in his eyes, asked:

'If I could be so bold Marshal, I ask you this. My commitment to the Emperor and Luria is unshakable and this Order would be the perfect way to express these ideals and contribute to the realm. However, in terms of the guard, I am far less confident. They are unshakable in combat. However, they are simply too small in number now. Is it time to station them in Giask's defense and through this order, create something new, whether it would be to lead Knights on horseback or become elite troops such as yours? Or, should they adopt new tactics and arms on the foundation of this order?'

William Fitz Roberts

Military matters

'If I could be so bold Marshal, I ask you this. My commitment to the Emperor and Luria is unshakable and this Order would be the perfect way to express these ideals and contribute to the realm. However, in terms of the guard, I am far less confident. They are unshakable in combat. However, they are simply too small in number now. Is it time to station them in Giask's defense and through this order, create something new, whether it would be to lead Knights on horseback or become elite troops such as yours? Or, should they adopt new tactics and arms on the foundation of this order?'

William listened carefully to what was spoken by Solomon and leaned back, pondering his words carefully.

‘I cannot tell you what to do regarding your retinue, which must be your own decision. However, I can give you advice based on my own experience and what my companions have seen. For the complex formations adopted by my soldiers, you need elite men and women, highly trained and disciplined. Such people are hard to come by, hence why most who command such elite units are in such short supply. I experimented with the Stalwart Defender with giving each soldier an arbalest and a poleaxe so that they could shoot and then fight in close combat. The problem with that was the soldiers lost shooting time putting away their crossbows and readying their poleaxes. By specialising their roles, I allow the unit to brace for melee and be effective in it while the crossbowmen are still able to shoot on the closing enemy until the very last minute and then go round the flanks and continue a steady stream of bolts while the pikemen hold the enemy in place. The swordsmen are there to counteract enemy pikemen and to serve as both flankers and protectors of the crossbowmen. It will work better at higher numbers, but for now I am experimenting to see if the theory is sound. Marc Antonio has helped me greatly in this enterprise with his own genius. The drawback is that it is difficult to find suitable recruits, as it requires high amounts of discipline and near constant drill to keep them fighting as one’, William paused to allow Solomon to take in that information before continuing, ‘I commanded cavalry for a brief time; you need to be wealthy and not afraid to lose many on the charge. However, Marc Antonio swears by them so I will let him take over’

At this, Marc Antonio swallowed his mouthful of food and picked up where his cousin had left off. ‘Cavalry have the potential to be absolutely devastating on the charge. However, if they do not break the enemy on the first charge they are left entirely vulnerable to enemies on foot. You either need to be facing a small number of enemy forces or field a large number, which can be very expensive. I believe at the last muster we would have been able to recruit fifty troopers, but before when William was commanding twenty they were next to worthless except in one battle in Sulorte where they routed a numerically superior force of monsters. They are very temperamental. Their use against undead is inadvisable, as they gather in masses where the force of the charge makes little impact on the horde as a whole, as our dear friend Nicholas Archival once found out’. All around the camp, many soldiers spat at the sound of the most hated name of Archival.

It was at this point that the previously quiet Louis chimed in, ‘my research shows that against monsters in particular soldiers armed with both bow and blade, or javelins, are the most effective. I personally advocate the use of almogavars. They are excellent both at harassing the enemy and then engaging them alongside the heavier infantry’

‘However, against more civilised opponents they can be easily wiped out by superior infantry or out shot by archers’, Marc Antonio interrupted. Louis nodded in agreement at this and then returned to his notes and diagrams of palisade walls

‘I much prefer massed walls of pikes’, Godlinda spoke for the first time, ‘they do not need to be trained as much as those fighting in the Tercio, as those must be prepared to act easily with ranged troops within their own ranks, but they still need to be well trained and work well together. Constant drill is the key. I agree with you, for smaller numbers of troops halberds are best, but if you were to go for a larger force of infantry I would arm them all with pikes instead’

‘And we mustn’t forget archers’, the boy Manfred chimed in, ‘a crossbow is an easy weapon to learn. You can easily find a peasant and in under a week he will be a serviceable soldier. Unfortunately, the heavier arbalests such as those used by those in our Tercio require far more skill and months, if not years, of experience to use effectively. Of course, longbows are also an option, but you have to find men who have used them from childhood as few men can pick up a bow of that size at adulthood and be effective’

‘There you go, Solomon’, William smiled, ‘you have lots to ponder there. As I say I will not tell you which to pick, but I would be fascinated as to which you choose. My cousin Franz will only ever command crossbowmen, my other cousin Antonia swears by soldiers armed with Zweihänders. At the end of the day it is all a matter of personal preference, what you are fighting and the size of your purse. Though I will say this: Poryatuns are the greatest soldiers in the world!!!!’ William said this last loudly, and every man in his camp began to cheer and beat their fists on their armour or bang their knives on their plates

‘Anyway, I would be fascinated to hear what you decide? And then I shall tell you about the order’

Winter Evening -- Askileon Purlieus

Solomon Greybrook

Mixing Tradition and Progress

‘I much prefer massed walls of pikes’, Godlinda spoke for the first time, ‘they do not need to be trained as much as those fighting in the Tercio, as those must be prepared to act easily with ranged troops within their own ranks, but they still need to be well trained and work well together. Constant drill is the key. I agree with you, for smaller numbers of troops halberds are best, but if you were to go for a larger force of infantry I would arm them all with pikes instead.’

Godlinda's opinion had struck a chord with Solomon. It was the solution that he was looking for. He did not need to send his Guard back to Giask, they would simply have to adapt. Solomon looked behind him to see this roar of noise coming from the Marshal's troops. Such commitment, passion and strength. This is what the Guard need to aim for. After the noise calmed down, the Marshal asked:

Anyway, I would be fascinated to hear what you decide? And then I shall tell you about the order’

Hence, after returning to face the Marshal's companions, Solomon exclaimed:

'Thank you all for your opinions, experiences and advice. I shall take heed of it all. Tradition should not be neglected. Tradition is the foundation of which progress is made. The guard need to reform. But, they will not ignore their tradition. Hence, the Guard will swell in number and act one body and mind. Forming a pike square with Halberd flankers, those who are with me today will not be abandoned. Instead, they will just have to adapt. Once again, I give you my sincerest thanks to all of you.'

With that, Solomon stood up and bowed in front of the Marshal and his companions.

Sitting back down again, Solomon asked:

'Now, Marshal, as you know, I am very keen on the idea of this knightly order. Please, tell me more.'

Tyra Andrasta Bluelake

The sky was blue. Blue like only a desert sky on a cloudless day could be. The horizon was immense, the palm sea spreading before her in full. The cold wintry wind blew through a million palm leaves before lifting her hair and touching her face. On the sandy floor of her desert garden, her hands felt tiny grains of sand be lifted by the moving air, climb them and fly past. With each breath she took, she also took in the sight, the birds flying, the grunts of her men filling monster holes and burrows. With each exhalation, she pushed herself up, grunting from the stone bag weighing on her back, and cursing the stillness of that sight. Filling holes only took a girl so far, she knew she had to work all her muscles to keep fit for battle, but truth was, after a few days, even that felt quite dull.

Changing her stance and starting a new series, Tyra was interrupted by master Duncan, who started reading her the usual reports. Her mind was on that commoner that hadn't shown up for drinks, and on Sir Leif's letter game. She'd give it a try, later. After this, though, she'd probably just join her men on their "rest" - playing cards, drinking ale and mead, wrestling and singing the dirtiest songs they managed to learn on their journeys. "Milady, maybe you should finally go meet your liegeship tonight"

grunt - "What?"

"Yes, he has arrived today."

There went her fun plans. But William didn't seem that bad.

"Ok, - ugh - can you please - ooof - write him?"

"Yes, of course... Do you promise to shower first, milady?"

"Duncan!" Tyra dropped the stance and tossed a stone that passed an inch away from his face. He remained serious but had a twinkle in his eyes. "You better not want me to wear a dress!"

"No, milady... Not tonight. But if milord Gottfried does hold a ball..."

"Not then either."

"We'll see."

William Fitz Roberts

The Ordo Volpes

'Now, Marshal, as you know, I am very keen on the idea of this knightly order. Please, tell me more.'

At this, William smiled again

‘A most well-informed choice. The Ordo Volpes is an order dedicated to the service to the Hegemony of Luria, focusing in particular on defence. It is in part a reaction to the vain glorious nature of some of the Lurian nobility. Too many seek personal glory, without thinking about service to the Hegemony. To be a knight of the Ordo Volpes is to recognise that in service, there is honour. To sacrifice one’s own goals in order to promote those of the realm is the most honourable act one can commit. That is our purpose. To serve the Hegemony and the Hegemony alone. We also seek to improve military knowledge, make innovations and put them into practice. All to ensure that the people of Luria are defended and that our empire remains strong. Of course, there are many other aspects to it, but that is the core founding belief. That the individual glory of a knight does not matter, only the way in which they serve the realm’, William’s passion could be heard in his voice and seen in the glint of his eyes.

‘What do you say? Are you prepared to dedicate your life to the Realm? Do not misunderstand me, we do not discourage personal ambition so long as that ambition serves the Realm. Anyway, I am afraid I must depart as I need to see the damage that the recent invasion caused’


"This is a robbery" Ariana said. "134 gold to travel to a Muspel, is a robbery. I am tempted to never come back here again."

Aylwin Gottfried

When a commoner is being taxed so much gold... one wonders how much gold that commoner carries!

13th May

Winter Day -- Askileon Purlieus

Leif Wilkins

"Irvington?!" exclaimed Leif with excruciation, pounding his fist on the table "You better be jesting me Xavier"

"Sir... I am sorry. Our realm is being swarmed. Unfortunately Irvington is on our Southern front, and the monsters are committing their crimes unchallenged. Along with the villagers that were killed, one of your favourite establishments were also destroyed in the raid." Xavier looked up from the scroll, knowing what was to come.

"The Golden Udders?!" Leif held his head in his hands.

"Yes sir" Xavier looked to the side

"Xavier... Please... Leave me to my privacy" Xavier has never seen his commander this serious.

"Yes sir" Xavier walked out of the tent

Leif picked up a quil and hastily wrote a letter to his father, requesting an update on the well-being of the estate and the family. He didn't have the closest of relationships with his kin, but for the first time in his life he felt serious concern for their well-being. Regret crept up to his chest, and he couldn't stop but think about how he could have helped if he stayed back home. Taking a deep breath, holding back an onset of rage Leif smiled, and started strumming hit lute.

William Fitz Roberts

The Ordo Volpes 'Now, Marshal, as you know, I am very keen on the idea of this knightly order. Please, tell me more.'

At this, William smiled again

‘A most well-informed choice. The Ordo Volpes is an order dedicated to the service to the Hegemony of Luria, focusing in particular on defence. It is in part a reaction to the vain glorious nature of some of the Lurian nobility. Too many seek personal glory, without thinking about service to the Hegemony. To be a knight of the Ordo Volpes is to recognise that in service, there is honour. To sacrifice one’s own goals in order to promote those of the realm is the most honourable act one can commit. That is our purpose. To serve the Hegemony and the Hegemony alone. We also seek to improve military knowledge, make innovations and put them into practice. All to ensure that the people of Luria are defended and that our empire remains strong. Of course, there are many other aspects to it, but that is the core founding belief. That the individual glory of a knight does not matter, only the way in which they serve the realm’, William’s passion could be heard in his voice and seen in the glint of his eyes.

‘What do you say? Are you prepared to dedicate your life to the Realm? Do not misunderstand me, we do not discourage personal ambition so long as that ambition serves the Realm. Anyway, I am afraid I must depart as I need to see the damage that the recent invasion caused’

Solomon Greybrook

Choosing a new path

‘What do you say? Are you prepared to dedicate your life to the Realm?'

Solomon looked back to that evening a few days ago with fondness. Sitting in his preferred chair looking over the Harbor, he was savored the moment while it lasted. The cold winds came through the harbor and up the small hill that his home was placed. In the green of the estate below, gathered were 50 new Poryatu soldiers along side the old Greybrook guard. Standing up to the perch he looked over the new recruits. They were fresh and ready for the trials ahead. The guard themselves held experience but they were far more relaxed to be in the Greybrook estate. Captain Hadroria stood to his left and Harvard to his right. Looking at these two men, Solomon smiled. He took a deep breath and signaled Hadroria to gain the unit's attention. Hadroria gave a shout and instantly the gathered mass looked to Solomon:

'Soldiers, old and new, fresh or seasoned, Giask-born or Poryatu-born, I want to personally welcome you to the Greybrook Estate. My name is Solomon Greybrook and I am your commander. This unit is not going to be like those you have served in before. This unit serves a higher purpose, above honour, above glory, above our own selfish desires. This unit is dedicated to the purpose of the Emperor and Luria!'

'Ooo ahh!' The Poryatu soldiers shouted in response.

This is going to take some time to get used to. Solomon then continued to address the gathered soldiers:

'We are going to set off to Grodno to attend the formal ceremony and unveiling of the The Ordo Volpes. It is for this purpose that we must re-organise, become stronger for not ourselves, but for those who cannot protect themselves. Therefore, the new Poryatu soldiers shall be trained and drilled in most advanced tactics of Pike Squares that Luria has available. The Greybrook Guard, my seasoned companions, from today, you add new soldiers to your ranks. Also, you must also evolve and adapt. From today, you shall learn how to synchronize with the Pikemen and defend their charges. Together, you shall defend the realm from all threats. For today, we march to Grodno!'

A noise came from the gathered soldiers in triumph as Solomon walked back to his chair. As Captain Hadroria went down the steps to organise the unit, Solomon cast his mind back to that evening with the Marshal once again.

'My Marshal...' Solomon looked around the small circle of logs. Then, he continued:

'It would be my honour to serve. For the Emperor! For Luria!'

William Fitz Roberts

The Lord Returns

As they rode through the ruined villages of Grodno, a small crowd began to follow behind them

‘Why do they cheer me?’ William asked miserably, ‘I was not here to protect them. They should be cursing my name for allowing this to happen!’

Anne leaned over in her saddle, ‘You are their lord. You have returned to ensure that their lives are rebuilt. They love you for that. In their eyes, Luria saved them and you are the voice of Luria in these lands’

‘Luria is everyone that lives and breathes in her lands. These people are the true Luria, not I’

‘Well then,’ Anne smiled, ‘Let us show Luria that we care for them’

‘We are getting close to Fox Hall, let us hope that Nicholas has already left. I know that I asked him to assist with organising repairs, but the thought of sharing a roof with the man repulses me’

‘By all accounts, the fool has left already’, Anne said reassuringly. William nodded at that, thinking back to the morning’s events. They had ridden first along the coastal road to investigate the damage to Sea Watch. Not a single occupant had survived, the luxurious interior of the villa stained with the filth of the monsters who had created nests there before being driven out by the Imperial armies. The great watchtower that gave the estate its name was in need of serious repair. Normally, it allowed any sentry standing on it to see right across the bay, seeing all incoming threats. However, the reports spoke of the freezing winter fog obscuring the view of the oncoming horde until it was too late, leading to the slaughter that had occurred.

After that they had ridden hard for Fox Hall, the Tercios left far behind them in the capable hands of Captain Josef. The roads were in dire need of repair also. At last, they saw the pristine towers of the small chateau rising from the gentle hills of Grodno. Breaking into a gallop, the small party of horsemen and women rode through the gates of Grodno and up to the main courtyard of the front gardens. Leaping from her horse, Anne began calling out the names of her daughters. Her eyes welled with tears as she heard the distinctive cries of ‘mama!’ as the twins ran out of the main door. She drew them into her embrace, holding them close to her. William doubted that she would ever let them go again.

‘Mama’, the two girls began chattering, ‘there were monsters at the walls, we could see them from the window. We grabbed our swords and went to go out to meet them. We could have taken them, easily Mama, but Uncle Leopold wouldn’t let us’

‘Well, I am sure you could’, Anne said choking back tears, ‘But your uncle was right to forbid you, you are the future of this house’, she mouthed a thank you at Leopold, who had just come through the doorway. William went straight towards his brother

‘Thank you for keeping them safe’, he said to Leopold, his voice full of relief

‘It was all Karl and Henriette, they were the ones who led the bravi to get the gates closed in time’, Leopold told his brother. At the mention of the name, Godlinda hurriedly asked

‘Your letter said she was hurt, where is Henriette?’

‘I am here, my love’, said another woman emerging from the doorway. Godlinda ran over and embraced Henriette. ‘When I read that you had been hurt I feared the worse. The journey back was unbearable, all of these delays, I…’

‘Leopold must have exaggerated’ Henriette whispered soothingly, ‘my arm was in a sling for a couple of days, nothing more’

‘I am afraid that we are going to have to save a proper reunion for later’, William said, returning to his business-like manner, ‘I need you to recruit as many soldiers as possible to defend our coastline’

‘Bill, surely that can wait for a day’, Godlinda said pleadingly, ‘We haven’t seen each other for over a month and I am sure the bravi can manage defences for a few more days’

‘There will be plenty of time for that in the coming days. Our coast is insecure and reports arrive daily of regions falling to the hordes all across Dwiliight. We cannot afford the risk. The bravi are hired blades, they aren’t suited to patrolling a region as large as this’

Godlinda nodded, stroking Henriette’s hair, ‘I will return in two days my love’, breaking off the embrace and quickly mounting before riding back out of the gates. William turned back to his brother.

‘Anyone else been here save the Imperial Magistrate?’

‘Sir Sturm Attano is in one of the guest apartments. It’s bad William. Maria and Girolama are caring for him, but they are not sure if he will make it’

‘I shall look in on him later’, William said climbing the steps up to the doorway, ‘for now there is much to rebuild and to plan. Let’s see what the magistrate has managed to accomplish. As much as I despise the man, I cannot fault his bookkeeping.’

Winter Evening -- Askileon Purlieus

Solomon Greybrook

All of Dwilight has lost terrain to these hordes, except for us. Let us aim to keep it that way.

Harvard was about to finish the depicting the scribe notes of the day when the Imperial Marshal's report came in. Solomon grew worried and commanded the Greybrook Guard to turn around. Becoming a knight of the Ordo Volpes, no matter how disappointing or important it was to him, it can wait in the name of the realm. The scout reports that were quickly carried around the respective military commanders showed the scale of what was on the Realm's borders.




Looking at the newly formed Guard, Solomon questioned himself on whether they are ready. Despite their morale and enthusiasm that was infectious from the Poryatu pikemen, their cohesion in training was not optimal. Yet, there was a quite confidence. Captain Hadroria held it, Harvard held it and the Guard held it.

They believed in Luria's forces.

As did Solomon.

Taking his mind away from the continued correspondence Harvard continued to dictate, Solomon thought of a earlier conversation. Hadroria mentioned today that the end of Winter was nearly here. Solomon interrupted Harvard and said:

'Sorry Harvard, I thought I should mention to you that the Guard are going on the Ferry tonight.'

With that sudden realisation, Harvard stopped talking, sank into himself while Solomon chuckled.

Spring was coming.

William Fitz Roberts

Departing from Fox Hall

William sped quickly through Fox Hall from the armoury, already in full armour. Manfred was hurrying behind him, William’s helmet under his arm. William began to bellow orders

‘Everyone, get up and move it, we are needed up north. I want the Tercio ready to march within the next half-hour’. As he hurried along the upper gallery, Marc Anotonio’s head appeared from the doorway of his apartments

‘What is it, cousin?’ he asked sleepily

‘King Cador wants us up north, get your armour and make ready!’ Marc Antonio nodded his assent, threw on a robe and set off in the direction that William had come from.

‘Johannes, send the following letters’, the diligent little scribe wrote letter after letter as William dictated to him. William was always like this, making decisions in the heat of the moment, planning as he went.

Fifteen minutes later, the doppelsöldners of the Tercio were standing to attention in the yard, ready to move off. William rode to the head of the column, flanked on either side by Marc Antonio and Godlinda, with Anne and the others just behind. There was so much more that he had intended to do in Grodno before he left. His plans had required at least a week to be effective. But duty came first. He looked up to the window of one of the high towers where the children were watching, waving at him. He raised his hand in goodbye and ordered column to begin marching. How many would see their families again? William pondered to himself. Will I ever see my family again?

Aylwin Gottfried

The preparations were made and Aylwin was standing on his balcony sipping some oh his wine awaiting the first invited noble to arrive.

14th May

Winter Day -- Askileon

Emyhr le Craint

As the morning sun rose through the sky, the clash of metal filled the crisp morning air around the camp. Emyhr, overseeing the training of the new recruits, watched the veteran members led by captain Gustaf holding a mock battle to teach the importance of a shield wall to the new recruits. A moment of distraction caught Emyhr as a deer approached him, nuzzled his back where the scar was now forming, then proceeding to run off back into the forest disappearing from sight. A moment of peace, while news of chaos was spreading across the continent, gave him time to ponder the future.

With the region, many camps had sprung up with different contingents preparing for eventual conflict. News of the marshal joining the forces in the north gave a moral boast among the camp but also led to fear as rumors of monster hordes converging on nearby locations. Emyhr could not help but worry, after the devastation that was Garuck Udor, he did not want to cause the suffering that his choices led to in that battle. The worry was now showing on his face, at which point Captain Gustaf tapped Emyhr on the shoulder.

"Sir, you must try not to show your worry like that. This could cause your angst to spread to the new recruits."

With a hearty slap on the shoulder and a cheeky smile, he returned back to the men shouting orders. Emyhr knew he was right, if he is to lead these men to victory, he first must set an example. Now filled with a bit more hope, he started to return to group to join in with the training. Soon after his first couple of steps, a messenger approached him.

"Sir Emyhr Le Craint, I come bearing news from Askileon."

Emyhr recognized the messenger as Vincent Arin, A steward and messenger for Ordo Leonis, one he had met during his application and swearing into the order. An older clean shaven man, dressed smartly but also bearing the crest of the lion. Emyhr, stood facing the approaching messenger.

"Vincent, good to see you again, what news have you brought me from the Order."

Vincent hands Emyhr a letter, with the crest of the lion wax seal. The note, rather than a letter, was an official document on the charters of the order and an amendment about the upcoming vote. All of which was written in fine lettering with elegant detail. What caught his eye was a note written at the bottom, not intended to be part of the announcement, but rather a hastily written letter.

Sir Emyhr,

Its a great honour to welcome you officially into the order. When you get a chance to return back to the Askileon chapterhouse, you will find you have been given your place at the table. This represents your participation and position in any and all upcoming events.

With this, Emyhr let out a large grin. The plans of his fellow knights and Emperor has finally come to fruition. He gave the letter to his attendant to look after, handed Vincent a gold piece to thank him and returned back to Captain Gustaf.

"Captain Gustaf, once matters have been resolved I have a place that I wish to show you in Askileon, I am sure you will like it"

Now noticing his beaming smile, Gustaf couldnt help but smile also.

"I see you have been given some good news from that messenger, whatever it is, it couldnt have come at a better time."

With this, the clash of metal once again took over the cold morning. This time, the two opposing forces in the mock battle were led by Emyhr and Gustaf.

Winter Evening -- Askileon

Tyra Andrasta Bluelake

The road to Outer Giask had been long, but as they were almost upon the town, Tyra caught up with her liege and Marshal. She came alone - master Duncan stayed behind to oversee her men - and dressed as her usual self (much contrary to what the good Duncan advised). Everything about her screamed wilderness, fierceness, a valkiry. The strawberry blonde hair haphazardly tied in side braids to remove it from her face, most of it loose. She was wearing a somewhat lighter leather armor for travel, mixed in with chainmail parts. Her tunic bore the hateful blue and silver of the Bluelakes, and it matched perfectly to her pale blue Andrasta eyes.

She caught sight of William's retinue as they stopped to rest, and walked swiftly to catch up. She'd need to learn to ride a horse sometime... Arriving to her liege's tent, she asked for a hearing.

William Fitz Roberts

William was poring over maps of Askileon Purlieus, comparing them to the diagrams that Louis had drawn for him. To his right were maps of Ciarin Tut, and to his left were piles of scout reports, covered in his own notes.

‘Sir’, a voice called from outside of the tent

‘What is it?’ William turned and snapped irritably. He had given orders not to be disturbed. He needed to think. He needed time alone.

‘Dame Tyra requests an audience, sir’

William pondered this for a moment. He had completely forgotten the dame’s request to meet on the road. He sighed, sunk into his chair and told the man outside to send her in. She had been waiting a while to have a formal meeting, he would give over as much time as she wanted.

Tyra Andrasta Bluelake

She walked in as she walked anywhere - with a sense of purpose and like she belonged there. Looking around her Marshal's tent, his map filled table, practical items spread around, the knight felt almost at home, missing a few stacks of axes and monster bodypaint.

Meeting her liege's eyes, Tyra walked up to him and sunk to one knee. He seemed tall, ever though she wasn't a short woman. He also seemed like he would get up and start pacing around the tent at any moment. A bit like a caged tiger. She smiled. Better do it quick.

"Marshal William, my liege, thank you for having me despite your being so busy. First things first, since I am not a person of many words, please accept the vassalage of Tyra Thunderborn Andrasta Bluelake" she flinched upon saying the last name "and my promise to do your desires justice, in return for milord's protection... for as long as this oath shall prevail."

That said, with a practiced motion she removed her sword from the scabbard and offered the hilt to William. She wasn't sure he'd want to do the whole dramatization for an oath acceptance, but she figured he might appreciate the practical, eerily decorated craftwork of Beluaterran weapons.

15th May

Winter Day -- Giask

Matthew Coffey

It would be good to walk Lurian soil again.

At least, that was what Matthew thought. Unprepared with his paltry force for the beasts that would emerge from the waters to attack Grodno. The defenders, if you could call the scant militia that - ready only for small bands of marauders - stood little chance. He let out a long sigh at his desk whilst thinking back on it. No rest for the wicked.

Emerging from a coaching inn near the gates of Giasks urbs, Matthew took some joy in the crisp winter air that would soon recede to spring. This time last year, they were preparing to feast the good fortunes of Luria. Now all that awaited them was blood, steel and death on the battlefield. Perhaps their good fortune was that they were not another realm? From what he had heard after his return, none fared as well as the Hegemony. Only time would tell, he thought as he passed by the second layer of Giasks defences of solid wood walls and even sturdier guards.

Had one seen the King of Earth Hall meandering his way down the paved roads, with only a servant at his rear and a single armed soldier at his flank, one might have mistaken him for some young merchant boy. Fissoa had not ruddied his complexion, nor had he started to grow the facial hair quite common among the older knights and lords of Luria. With no regalia on his person or crown upon his head, the only telling signs of nobility was his signet ring, sword and fine dark green tunic; a quiet display of status.

Arriving at the encampment just out of the townsland, Matthew scanned the various fluttering banners high above the tents. He recognised most, but not all. Something that would need to be rectified. He trusted in Marshal Bennet's words that they would be enough to stem the tide in the south, and for the most part he agreed. Two Kings and an Emperor heralded this army, and he would need to make his presence known if he were to be remembered against such giants. Not that proving oneself on the battlefield was part of Matthews plans for glory, although he would engage if he had to. Thinking on it, Matthew chuckled to himself.

The last time he fought in Luria he was a knight, not a King.

Straightening up for the inevitable onlookers, the stout young man made his way into the war camp of Outer Giask.

William Fitz Roberts

Accepting the Oath

William looked down at the kneeling figure, unsure what to do with the proffered hilt. He did notice, however, the fine craftsmanship of the blade. He was not one for formal ceremonies, so decided that simplest was already best.

‘I accept your oath. Now, please stand’, he gestured over to the maps on the table, ‘what do you make of this? I am trying to determine how best to deal with our little problem up north and could do with a fresh set of eyes’

At this he stood up, towering over the woman and went over to the small rack of swords that he kept in the corner of his command tent. The majority were variations on his preferred schiavona, though there were a couple of katzbalger and a solitary falchion on one end. He picked up one the simplest looking schiavona, holding up to his eye level to check its keenness, before returning to his chair. He produced a whetstone and began to sharpen the blade while he waited for Tyra’s thoughts on the matter at hand.

Tyra Andrasta Bluelake

The knight easily lifted up and with a smile moved over to the table. Most of the reports she had already seen, but the marshal's set of maps was much more detailed than hers. She took a few mental notes to give to Duncan and add to her own maps. "Marshal, some of these reports I didn't really have access to, but from what I gathered today, we have a little less than a third of the monsters fighting force that could force a battle just after tomorrow's sunrise, if everyone in Askileon and Askileon Purlieus joins, including the Imperial Magistrate. If we wait an extra day, we might field half of their forces, which was enough for Grodno's battle to be almost boring for me, seeing these beasts break formation so easily..." With a grim frown, she added "But we didn't have undead in Grodno. They are more tenacious, from what I've heard."

With a look to the tent's flaps, where the sun was making the sky all shades of red, orange and pink, she continued. "We should be getting more reports soon... Would you mind sharing what strategies you plan to use" - as an afterthought - "Milord?"

Rosalind Foxglove

Rosalind sat in the gardens of the Lurian palace. There was some night flowering plant that was filling the air with a heavy scent. She breathed deeply. a bird or two called out, clearly having been disturbed by something, before settling back in to sleep. The city was remarkably quiet tonight, she thought. Or perhaps the sounds simply did not carry so far in to the gardens.

She called over a waiting scribe and dictated a letter.

Suzerain Emperor Aldrakar,

The time has come for me to depart and return home to Westgard. Although my people - undoubtedly the best warriors in the world to my reckoning - are standing against the hordes and assure me that all is well, it is unbecoming for the Aeon to be away from the Shield of Mankind for so long in the midst of the fresh great migration of the beasts. Or invasion, as I believe you easterners call it.

I have commanded the captain of my ship to make ready to sail with the tide. Rest assured that I will return to Luria Nova one day and we shall sit in these gardens again and speak of the great migration and the victory of mankind over it.

My regards,

Aeon Rosalind Foxglove

Once the sealing wax on the scroll was ready, Rosalind pressed her ring in to it to form the official seal of the Royal Court of Westgard and dismissed the scribe with orders to pass the scroll to a messenger, thence to carry it to the Emperor. Taking a last look around the gardens, she stood and walked back indoors to wait for her servants to prepare the baggage for the journey home.

16th May

Winter Day -- Giask

Myr Arnickles Renodin

Steel clad fist squeezed the letter into a rough sphere. Rage was the emotion that barely ever visited young knight's joyful expression.

"Villainous bastard!" - Myr cursed under his breath, careful not to let his retainers hear.

William Fitz Roberts

Talking Tactics

‘Dispense with the m’lord, we aren’t writing a letter. Address me as a soldier, most of them call me Bill’, William said, inspecting the blade once more and continuing to sharpen it. ‘Currently the plan is to form a wall of pikes and spears and shields for them to crash onto us. We shall march in, gain a foothold and force the enemy into an immovable wall. We shall line the archers out just in front of the infantry and force the enemy onto us. There will be huge losses on both sides, but I hope mostly theirs. I intend not to move until we have as many soldiers as we can. Better to lose the region briefly than to risk losing everything because we did not wait. I know that it is a matter of pride that we are the one realm not to lose a region to the recent catastrophe, but pride is all too often the death of good sense. I have written to some of the brightest military minds within our realm, I hope that they will be able to offer suggestions,’ William paused to examine the blade again and stood up heading to the tent flap

‘My cousin Marc Antonio has a saying: “one should never risk one’s whole fortune unless supported by one’s entire forces”. Despite the near constant complaints I am getting, that is what I shall do. Better to be unpopular than dead’, William briefly stuck his head out of the tent flap, ‘send in the thief’.

At that, a trembling individual was brought in, flanked by two soldiers. He had been stripped to nothing but his underclothes. He stared up in fear at his master, whose face was obscured by shadow. William began to speak in a low growl

‘Tell me, soldier, why are you here?’ The soldier muttered something, stammering, ‘Speak up, or never speak again!’ William roared. The soldier jumped and began to stammer again

‘I I I I stole from some peasants lord’

‘What else?’

‘I killed the father’

‘What. Else?’ William said in a low voice, almost a whisper

‘I, I, I raped the daughters sir’

‘At last, you speak the truth. You committed abominable acts on the people of the Realm’

‘But sir, in the north, we..’

‘We stole from the peasants, we slaughtered them like lambs and burned their homes. But those were not Lurians. And we did not ever, ever commit rape, the most vile of crimes’

‘Yes sir, I understand sir’, the man looked down at his feet, awaiting his fate

‘I have decided to be merciful, as it is your first offence.’ At this the man looked up in hope

‘M’lord, thank you, thank you for your mercy,’ the words began to tumble out of the man, relief clear on his face. There was a swooshing sound and a sudden scream of agony as the man looked down at the bleeding stump where moments before there had been his hand. William, wiping his blade clean with a cloth he had produced from his pocket, turned to the soldiers flanking the man

‘Take him away and hang him in the village that he stole from so that they know some small justice has been done’

‘But my lord, please, you promised mercy!’ the man sobbed in between his agonised whimpering

‘You’re not going on a cross, that is mercy’, William said matter-of-factly and turned for Tyra as the protesting man was dragged away.

‘My apologies, but I always feel that good discipline requires the personal touch, do you not agree?’

Myr Arnickles Renodin

Waldred approached Myr with one of his adjutants. "M'Lord" - he said - "New orders came from Marshal William." - Myr hid his annoyance behind a risen eyebrow, as his captain continued - "Early retreat."

At that young knight failed to remain his composure - "Early retreat?! Preposterous! You have not seen a lion flee from another animal and you shall not see Lurian knight flee either. Draft a response - we respectfully decline."

Waldred nodded, while his adjutant exclaimed through his pride:

"We shall fight to the last. Leave cowardice to Marshal William."

Myr looked to the adjutant but with a frown and not amusement.

"Excuse me?" - he said, causing his captain's adjutant to shift nervously.

"I-I said..."

"I've heard what you said, to not dare repeat it!" - young Renodin bursted, not letting the man finish - "Have you heard me talk ill of another behind their back?"


"No you did not." - he interrupted again - "Waldred, what is the second virtue of Ordo Leonis?"

Captain shook his head at his adjutant and standing up straight recited - "Honour - The Lion Knight of Luria does not stab another in the back. We face our enemies with honour. The Lion Knight of Luria does not talk ill of others behind their back..."

"That's enough Waldred, thank you. Inform your ex-adjutant of his new rank and duty, he shall be a boy of the Redmanes, he will carry no sword nor spear, he will carry no shield nor armour, he will haul all these things for our men like a mule. When we go into battle he will not fight among us, but he will aid healers in carrying the wounded."

The ex-adjutant was red from shame, his eyes transfixed on the ground beneath him.

"What do they call you, boy?!" - Myr shouted.

"My name is Dougfrey but they call me Dodger." - the man responded.

Myr just smiled at the news - "How fitting. I will not tolerate dishonourable behaviour. Earn your honour back and you will once again fight at our side."

The two men bowed soldierly to their noble commander and departed.

17th May

Spring Day -- Askileon

Tohrm Elrath

Despite Tohrm's attempts at acquainting himself with the other nobles under the banner of the Emperor's Will, there was still a job to be done. The hordes in the south had continued to ravage the fiefdom of Irvington and needed to be dealt with. The rallying in Outer Giask took a little too long for Tohrm's taste, yet shortly after his letter of support had been delivered to the Fujiwara, that the order was given to march for Irvington. Tohrm had desired to speak with his King, who had been seen entering the camp a short while ago with a new retinue. Of course he had only had the opportunity once during the most recent feast to lay eyes upon his rather rotund liege, he felt the man had something to offer the Empire, even if it was just sat behind a desk, or dining table.

Eagerness was awash in his companies ranks, they had been assured that the campaign would be short and swift. Most were anxious to see the battle done. It was a large and menacing horde, one Tohrm had not seen in such measure before, yet his spirits were not dampened again. He knew the force he travelled with was large enough, and well trained enough that no beast or rotting corpse could defeat them. Or so, he had thought...

Tohrm had arrived on the fields of Irvington ready to join ranks with the rest of the infantry and expel the monsters from this land. The sight he had been greeted to instead was his liege and the Imperial Marshal himself, standing side by side on a hillside overlooking the hinterland of Irvington. Where were the rest of the nobles? Tohrm had no doubt they would be right behind him, but his scouts had taken him through a rather secluded path in Cadier, perhaps he had gotten ahead of the main force? Riding up behind his two fellow nobles, of much greater standing than he, Tohrm dismounted and let his squire lead off the horse, back behind his company.

Kneeling briefly, Tohrm began to address the King and Imperial Marshal.

"My liege, Imperial Marshal," He paused to rise once more and gesture back at his regiment. "Sir Elrath and my company have arrived. What are our orders? Does the army hold a different location further into the woodland?" As he spoke, he had walked up to the side of King Coffey. As he edged to the crest of the hill, it brook a most horrific view.

Tohrm turned to the two nobles beside him. He took a moment to compose himself, considering the oncoming horde that were headed straight for their - in comparison - small and unready force. "My men stand ready. Our orders?"

Aldrakar Renodin

A Helping Hand

The day was young yet the earth was old. The unending cycle had more than dwelt on Aldrakar's mind. Such a simple and regular occurrence yet it held so much meaning when one pondered deeply about it. Perhaps age and time permitted him to muse so much. A hand waved the thought away as his face crumpled up like a discarded parchment. The vistas of Cadier left behind as the Rendorian Elite marched steadily onward towards the townlands of Irvington. That land of an old friend. Ronan the Charger of House Maelodor. The memory of the Spirited Horseman brought a smile to Aldrakar's face.

What else can you tell me about this daughter of House Bluelake? He asked his chief Official. A man in his thirties. Keen eyed and sharply dressed. Undoubtedly a specimen that would have done well in any profession he would've chosen. Tyra has a vague connection as far as I could discern. Apparently she was a wayward child and quite headstrong. The tone was a little bit dismissive but Aldrakar tolerated the younger man's inclinations as long as service was spotless. Zhou had a desire it seems to have her properly inducted into the life of High Court. A thing that the family itself never managed apparently. This is also the reason she was send to Luria, to be reformed if you will. Jarin looked at the Imperial Monarch. Aldrakar nodded. Very well, I shall honor his desire and put a bit of Imperial weight behind it. His tone light and with a gentle undercurrent of mirth. Just a nudge. A small smirk accompanied laughing eyes.

A letter was send and captured within its scroll-case was some of the fresh, spring air that permeated the meadows.

Dame Tyra,

These words are from me onto you.

By merit of wishes from your ancestral bloodline and the grace that I am willing to bestow upon you, I have decided to award you the position of 'Arbitrium Renodin' . Where you will become part of the Imperial Retinue and thus serve me directly. It will be your charge to peruse the actions of those around me and to discern whether their intentions are borne of goodness or of darkness. It will be your duty to report onto me how you find their actions and conduct. Not in brief but in detail and how those actions contradict or support the words they offer.

This will be a service in the labor you provide me with and offers you a chance to reach the potential that others believe you may be in possession of. You will not refuse I presume and begin your charge forthwith. Enclosed a badge of your Office. Wear it proudly and visibly. In accordance to this new position I have granted you, you'll discover some other changes as well. Do not be worried, they will prove necessary for you to preform your newfound duties.

With a benevolent eye,

Aldrakar Renodin

Carefully fastened on the inside of the scroll container was a silver pin. Its shape was that of a beautiful rose with pedals crafted from white Agate in full bloom.

Spring Evening -- Askileon Purlieus

Karibash ka Habb

As the beleaguered men in Irvington rally together for a renewed assault on the beasts, one cannot help but notice the Toren. They are all slathered in mud and foliage, headdresses made of sticks, and scarcely any appearance of steel gleaming through.

The men form lines as they march on the walls where the beasts have made their nests. Horns sound as men begin firing arrows and bolts but a rumble grows. The Toren are grumbling all as one, stomping rhythmically, their first volley is from a large hand cannon that misses, though rubble from the wall lands on the creatures.

With the contact it is the Old Toren who cries out, shrieking an incomprehensible cry, then bellowing in Toren which the men respond to as one. The second cannon strike is similarly effective but the third makes good contact. All the time, the men are chanting and stomping and dancing. As the first monsters crawl down the walls they are met with more fire, a combination of misfires and poor aim is barely effective.

With the advance the Toren increase the vibrancy of their chanting, accentuated with howls and drumming. The monsters advance but against the unrelenting assault they are eventually driven off. As the last of them disappear back behind the walls the Toren quiet and with a sigh begin cleaning their faces and their equipment.

Karibash calls out to no one in particular, "Scare them, I said. But how does one scare a beast?" Anyone close enough would see his gap-toothed grin, face white with chalk, and a great crown of what appears to be a handsome hedge.

Solomon Greybrook

As the sun set once again over Askileon Purlieus, Solomon looked over at the Marshal's tent as the furious hussle of scribes, soldiers and commanders darted in and out.

Solomon was intrigued about these developments but was unfortunately preoccupied with overseeing new Pike Square and Halberd movements with the Greybrook Guard. Instead, he sent a messenger to receive the latest updates. Upon his return, numerous orders had been crossed out and were replaced with new ones. To which Solomon himself reviewed and studied their complications as the sun set. Hence, he poured himself a flask of ale that one of his captains had donated and made a mission to watch the unfolding this evening.

As the evening began to continue on, the Marshal's tent began to cease activity. Eventually, all was silent and only a few soldiers were seen scattered about.

Solomon was never as fascinated and intrigued in military command, positioning and tactics than he did this night. With the final drafted orders that just come through from the Marshal himself, the moon began to intensely shine upon the campsite. With that, Solomon turned in for the night in order to face the next day with new found determination.

18th May

Spring Day -- Askileon Purlieus

Leif Wilkins

Leif walked through the ranks of his men, who were fletching new arrows and tightening up their bows after the skirmish earlier that day. He looked at them with a fiery glow in his hazel eyes - the green around the iris bright as the magically glowing skies of winter in the north.

'Had some fun lads?!' he exclaimed with a warm smile.

'M'lord, it is my honour to protect our realm in your company. But I must say - loosing arrows on those ugly bastards felt good. Especially after what they did to our home in the south' Conrad stood up, heels together.

'Haha! Yes! I got one right in the dirt star mate!' bragged McCormick 'After I shot it down and it bent its wee arse-backwards and I it'im right in the mudpie!'

'You thood not-th thake tith tho lightly McCormick... On open field your own dirth thtar would hide like a bloody gopher!' lectured Vaughn through his famous missing teeth, the hole seemingly getting bigger each week.

'Smart one aint ye'... You're smarter than a bloody magpie aren't ye?... I hope one of them brutes wasn't ye mother ye bastard!' grimaced McCormick

All of the sudden McCormick felt a jolt of pain traveling from his crotch to the top of his spine as he fell to his knees. He looked up and Leif stood on a bale of hay with a slingshot in hand.

'Watch how you speak to Vaughn you ungrateful twat. While you were enjoying target practice, Vaughn has been risking his arse scouting the neighbouring regions. He has seen more horror in one night on the field than you have your whole life. Your response to his wisdom was irrational, and you better respect the other men in this company. Next time it won't be an apple that flies at your bird" Smiled Leif.

'Men. Today was yet another victory over the monstrosities. But do not be fooled - we stand behind walls among Luria's elite forces. We were born and raised to fight monsters. It is in our blood - but we are but saplings in the garden. We have not experienced the full scale of war against these creatures on an honest field. Do not dare underestimate them, and or consider this victory yours. Rest up, and get ready as we prepare for another assault' affirmed Xavier, Captain of the Gwynnblades - with an identical fiery glow in his eyes to that of Leif's.

Leif jumped off the hay bale, and walked up to Xavier. The clutched one another at the fore-arm as they do in their unit to show respect. Leif turned towards the men.

'Finish what you are doing - we are going to visit some flowers to celebrate the onset of spring' pronounced Leif 'McCormick, get off your knees and lets go. Hopefully your bird hasn't broken a wing'

Tyra Andrasta Bluelake

As Tyra listened to her Marshal's discussion of tactics, she nodded. It was sensible, and she agreed especially to the saying about risking everything: "one should never risk one’s whole fortune unless supported by one’s entire forces". It was a little brash, but yes, if you're risking everything you own, you don't go at it half heartedly, holding back punches.

Then William called in his soldier. The man looked a mess. It took the knight a few moments to understand it had been one of her Marshal's men. The discussion on looting had been the first letters she had received upon arriving to Luria and she had thought it a harsh decision made by the Imperial Magistrate. Looting was fun, even though sometimes soldiers got carried away. It was part of the battle madness. She embraced it.

‘I, I, I raped the daughters sir’

Her pale eyes shot a piercing look to her Marshal, wondering what he was aiming at. A reaction from her?

‘At last, you speak the truth. You committed abominable acts on the people of the Realm’ ‘But sir, in the north, we..’ ‘We stole from the peasants, we slaughtered them like lambs and burned their homes. But those were not Lurians. And we did not ever, ever commit rape, the most vile of crimes’

Tyra was standing no more than a few feet away from her commander, standing still on his gigantic shadow, when he slashed to cut the man's hand. Had he looked back at exactly that moment, he would have seen a dagger instinctively appear on her left hand. But he didn't, and as the blood dripped on the floor and the guards took the man away to be hanged, she had already put it away. That was not the kind of danger she was facing. This was Luria... For the first time she realized that behind the courtly culture of this realm, there was also a subtle game being played. Tyra frowned. She didn't really like subtleties.

The frown was still upon her when William turned. ‘My apologies, but I always feel that good discipline requires the personal touch, do you not agree?’

The knight looked her Marshal straight in the eyes.

"I agree with the personal touch, but I wouldn't call this good discipline. Nor a good execution of justice. You lose a soldier and make all others tense, while the women he attacked will always believe they need someone else to do justice for them." She smirked "I would probably have sent him in his undergarments, with a couple of babysitters of course, to those same women, to work for them for a week or two, or until I got a positive report of his improvement. And if by chance he would turn up one day with a dagger through his belly, well, that's a kind of justice. Local nobility might deal with that in court, but I would certainly not press my claim."

William Fitz Roberts

William nodded at Tyra’s words, but shook his head. ‘That is the first issue of discipline that I have had for months. The way to run a fighting force is to be both loved and feared. You gain love by being a part of the unit, being one of the soldiers, not just commanding the soldiers but leading them, sitting with them, sharing in their dreams and sharing in their fears. But one must not be too lax either. That is where the fear comes in.’ William chopped his right hand into his left to emphasise his next point. ‘Iron hard discipline; that is what a force such as mine needs to be effective. I let my soldiers plunder in lands outside of Luria. I see it as a means to reward them for their efforts, a way to let out their inner brutality, their primal nature. But I never allow them to rob from people in our own lands and I have never allowed rape to be committed. That girl hanged herself out of shame. She was fifteen years old. By not punishing him, we would make her and other girls believe that it was their fault, that somehow they should have fought harder. It is only ever one person’s fault, the person who did it. On seeking one’s own justice: we cannot allow vigilantism. The people must look to the nobility for the rule of law. Not to do so encourages the anarchic regions that border our lands, where local strongmen dish out their own kind of justice using hired thugs. We, the nobility, are the law. It is our duty to uphold it.’ William sat back in his chair

‘That man was only recently hired, as were several others. The new ones now know what happens if you disobey me or Godlinda or Josef. And in return for this discipline, I have absolute loyalty. There is not one man or woman in this camp who would not die for me or my family. Not one who would not die for Luria. Fear and love. The only way to rule. A balancing act. A mix of constant drill in the mornings and drunken debauchery in the evenings. That is what keeps these soldiers ready’ William stopped, realising that he was rambling

‘However, this is what works for me. It does not work for everyone. It is all relative to who you command and who you are as a person. The people I command are vicious bastards, growing up in poverty, used to having to fight to get anything, having to kill to survive. I would not employ the same methods on a unit such as those commanded by Earl Donald, say. Let us move on from this discussion. Did you have anything else that you wanted to say?

Tyra Andrasta Bluelake

Tyra could tell he was dismissing her, instead of really inviting a discussion. He had just given her a deep insight into the man he was, but was wrapping it up then and there. Very well.

"Let us move on from this discussion. Did you have anything else that you wanted to say?"

"Not really. There are many different ways to lead, and maybe one day we'll find out which is best. My men are fierce, loving brutes who find joy in fighting, glory in dying, and enjoy an unruly camaraderie. Much like me. Most units rely on their captains for discipline, though." she turned to leave "Thank you for this audience, Marshal William. Excuse me."

As she was about to exit the tent, holding the flap partially open, Tyra gave him one last look "Also, I will not call you Bill, like I was one of your soldiers. I've seen what happens to them, and what you expect of them. This" she gestured back and forth between them "is different." They exchanged one last nod and the knight left.

19th May

Spring Morning -- Ciarin Tut

Myr Arnickles Renodin

Myr went into the crowd in one of the central villages of Ciarin Tut, his arms outstreched as if for an embrace, his voice bellowed: "Alone no more, people of Luria. Come ye, toast, rejoice as you rejoin your homeland."

Emyhr le Craint

The Takeover of Cairn Tut

Emyhr was stood upon a crudely set up stage, Captain Gustaf was giving orders to the Vanguard distributing goods and relief to the locals gathered. A small contingent was guarding the makeshift podium, as Emyhr turned to the gathered crowd.

"My fellow Lurians, the threat of monsters have caused much heartbreak and damage to this realm. But you do not have to fear anymore. The Northern Garrison has returned to assist you all and bring you all back under the Lurian Banner."

Many of the crowd was now turning to each other, suspicious of the armed men surrounding the noble. It had not been long since monsters had taken control of this realm, there were a few Lurian supporters within the crowd. However, all had faced many hardships in the recent month. Seeing the faces of displeasure, Emyhr signaled to Gustaf, who brought over two barrels of Poryatu Ale that Emyhr had taken from his estate.

"Let this be a time of celebration now, we are here to relieve you of the burden of monsters and support this region once again. Partake in the ale I have brought, those who require medical attention, my healers have been ordered to assist. You are no longer undefended and alone."

With this, a small but weary cheer came from the crowd. The broken faces now looked a bit softer, no longer on edge they began to relax and regale the warriors with stories of Cairn Tut. Emyhr got down from the podium and headed for Gustaf, before he could reach him however a group of children approached him with apprehension is their eyes. Emyhr noticed they were all holding bunches of Freesia flowers.

"Good Sir, thank you for coming to help us. We dont have much but I hope you can accept these flowers".

The children handed him the flowers. With a smile, Emyhr took the bunches and fastened them into his shining armor. He turned back to the kids and from his pocket, produced five silver pieces.

"I thank you children for gifting me this beautiful flowers, however I am only doing my duty to the Lurian people. Your gifts prove that ventures like this are worth it, please accept this silver and treat your families."

After handing them the silver pieces, the children now with beaming smiles, bowed to the knight and ran off into the crowd. Emyhr once again headed towards Gustaf who was now swamped in paperwork and requests from other warriors.

"I see there is not rest my friend, allow me to help you there." Emyhr, grabbing a quill and ink well and a stack of papers proceeded to his tent for the rest of the day.

20th May

Spring Afternoon -- Garuck Udor

Tohrm Elrath

The letter came through with the Imperial seal. Vanguard to Grodno.

If there was ever a time that Tohrm had felt uneasy about the invasion of monsters, it was now.

He had been all too eager to dive head first to Irvington. That had cost him thirty men. Good soldiers. They had fought well, and in better circumstances, they would still be alive now.

When they were most needed.

Not even a brief respite to recruit more brave Lurians. Marching with worn boots, broken shields... it was a sorry sight.

Yet Tohrm confronted his men with measured composure. It was not a task to be taken lightly. They looked tired. It wasn't just the fatigue. Losing their comrades had taken an uncomfortable toll. But they all had duties. He had a duty.

He stood before his retinue, still wearing his armour he had donned at Irvington. Scarce had he had the chance to take it off.

"Men of the Emperor's Will. Lurians, proud Lurians who stand before me, we have our orders from the Imperial Marshal. We are to form a vanguard against the horde in Grodno."

Tohrm paused, weighing the response of his company. And yet, they remained silent. It was disconcerting to say the least.

"To all of you. We have borne an oath, to serve the Hegemony. To serve his Imperial majesty. And yet, this is not what I will hold you to this day."

The response of the men was somewhat confused. They looked between eachother and began murmuring, but Tohrm swiftly hushed them as he continued.

"As we march for Grodno, our orders hold us to our duty to the Emperor. Our oaths, hold us to our banner.

But I ask you all, that we hold fast. We hold Grodno. Not for the Emperor, not for his army, but for Luria. Its people cry out for justice. They bent their knee to our sovereign for protection. We are his answer. We march so Luria may once again know peace. So its people can tend the golden pastures; walk our marbled cities, without fear. What say you?

Are you all too tired of this path? Or have we just begun to tread this road of glory?"

The mens spirits appeared to rouse at his words. The head of house Elrath lofted his blade point to the sky.

"We will not just march as the vanguard. We shall be the Emperor's Shield. The mighty bulwark of his army. Take heart warriors, we march to our enemies end!"

Leif Wilkins

'An audience request m'Lord' Xavier stepped into Leif's tent.

Leif was perched on his bed of pillows. In his hand he held a hose that made the apparatus to which it was attached make a distinct bubbling sound when he inhaled through it. At the top of the apparatus there were coals, and he exhaled fragrant smoke.

'Who is it Xavier? Can't you tell I am busy experimenting with this new smoking device one of my colleagues at the University made for me?" Leif blew a few rings of smoke.

'It is a vagabond sir. A rugged looking fellow who calls himself Gerald. He has requested an audience in private insisting that he has something that you may find interesting.' Despite his curiosity, Xavier averted staring at the smoking apparatus.

'Gerald? I've received a raven carrying a message that he was looking for me. Fine, lead him in and station four men around the tent. You are to join us in this meeting' Nodded Leif.

A dark figure appeared in the entrance escorted by Xavier. The man who stepped inside was of tall stature - same as Xavier. He wore a dark leather jerkin that stretched over his chainmail. Tall riding boots covered his legs, and spiked gloves hung from his belt that supported two empty scabbards. His hair was neatly collected and tied at the back of his head, and a tasteful scar reached from his temple to the bottom of his ear. He was holding a bundle covered in a cloth. His eyes immediately scanned the room, and he produced a smile, waiting to be spoken to.

'Gerald is it?' asked Leif, exhaling a cloud of smoke.

'That is my name sir. It is an honour to meet you. I respect your time, and thus will not burden you with more than what I came with.' Gerald gently bowed, and began unraveling the cloth. He produced an exquisite vest - glowing like a quartz crystal reflecting the dancing glow of the candles.

'This is why I am here m'Lord. I have recently come about this treasure, and fate has carried me to bring it to you.' Leif dropped the hose, and walked up to Gerald without saying a word. As he approached him, Gerald bowed to one knee, holding the vest outstretched before him. Leif felt the material with his hand and smiled. 'Where exactly did you find this Gerald?' his eyes glistening.

'In the Forest of Flying Hongrns sir.' Gerald stood up.

'Interesting... Exquisite piece... Xavier - at ease. Please wait outside of the tent. Gerald, come through, take a seat.' Leif started towards the table in the middle of a tent, gesturing Gerald to a seat. Two chalices were already stationed at the table, and Gerald poured a glass of fine Fissoan wine into both without asking.

'Tell me the story Gerald' Leif sat down taking a sip of the wine.

A few hours and few chalices of wine later, the candles were beginning to burn at the last bit of their wax. Gerald told Leif about a few of his recent adventures, and the story of how he found the vest. They talked about price, and negotiated a figure. Gerald was escorted to his horse Rufus.

'I like this fellow' thought Leif, perched back in his bed of pillows. 'I have a feeling that this will not be the last time we meet'.


In Helhhir.

Looking into his backpack, Ranger Giovanni realize he has not enough Books of Monster Hunting to reduce the monster in the area. He will have to do with his own skills.

Searching the area, Ranger Giovanni using his swordfighting skill has defeated all the groups of monster from number 1 the easiest to number 4 the harder ones. He takes a deep breath as he grows fatigued, resting to catch his breath from the battles.

Thrusting his dagger and knife, Ranger Giovanni battles the monster group number 5 which is led by an alpha monster. Shouting at that alpha monster, Ranger Giovanni grins slightly in face of danger, shows his lack of teeth "You big bad monster. Go home or you shall die at my hand."

The alpha monster points its finger at Ranger Giovanni and then all the monsters rush towards the Ranger. Using his home advantage and his familiarity with the lay of the land, Ranger Giovanni defeats monsters blow after blow. Slicing the alpha monster left hand off, Ranger Giovanni fights ferociously and finally after an exhausting fight, the Ranger will see another day.

A few small monsters flee, but that is the least of Ranger Giovanni concern now. He search the lair of the alpha monster and find treasures worth a total of 3 gold and 2 silver. He also finds items like the skull of a horrible beast, now nothing but bones and A rare flower that grows only in the forest. Gathering the remains of the dead monsters, Ranger Giovanni hands them over to the authorities to collect 17 silver from the local monster-hunting bounty.

As the day draws to an end, Ranger Giovanni swings his dagger and knife more skilfully in the forest. He notices his skills have improved.

21st May

Spring Day -- Garuck Udor

Tyra Andrasta Bluelake

Three times had the sun risen since that letter had come. Tyra had read it so many times she could now recite it by heart. Still, as her men foraged the battlefield for anything useful, she reclined on a cliff's edge, one arm under her head, enjoying both the seaborne breeze, the grass on her back, and the murmur of life coming from the cliff-carved village below. The now softened, almost worn out piece of parchment was on her hand, and her fingers played with a corner as she watched the rolling clouds, bending it back and forth until a small triangle broke off. Immediate guilt followed, and she folded the letter and tucked it back into her tunic's inner pocket. It no longer had the fresh scent of grass and flowers that had come with, but Tyra remembered it and cherished the thought that it had been written outside. It had made the Emperor feel closer, more human even. But the content, she couldn't make up her mind about it.

Tyra hadn't allowed Duncan to read it, except for the first sentence. By merit of wishes from your ancestral bloodline and the grace that I am willing to bestow upon you - she had confronted him, accusing him of contacting the emperor on behalf of her family, of controlling her. He had denied. She had thrown every insult she knew at him and stormed off. She had fought recklessly, drunk with abandon, and sparred with the soldier Duncan most despised. In the morning, the older man came in as usual, organized her tent, removed traces of the previous evening's visit, read her her letters and made her his tea. He told her he had sent a letter to the Bluelakes from Luria when it became apparent King Cador didn't care much for courtly manners. He was sorry, but he had a mission. And she had a promise to fulfill.

Now, as she laid there, wondering about the nature of good and evil, about loyalties and duty, Tyra considered that the mission the Emperor bestowed upon her was a double edged knife. It might bring her many friends, but also maybe not a single true friendship. And how could she, a deviant by all means, a rabid little brat as she had been called so many times... maybe she should write about herself first of all.

Aldrakar Renodin

Two Nudges doesn't make a Push

Agony and pain given voice carried to the Imperial Pavilion. Walking up to the finely worked water basin Aldrakar dashed his hands into the fresh and rose peddled water and splashed his face after rubbing his hands clean. A small cut on his left palm hurt. One of the monster had mauled him but fortunately that was all he had to show for it. Good armor will do that for you. His eyes glanced at the Armour stand that housed the damaged suit of steel. It made him feel young thinking back on the battle.

Water gathered in his cupped hands and it found itself dousing his golden hair. Making it sleeker and bringing comforting coolness to his scalp. With a fine piece of leather he tied it into a short ponytail before returning to his desk. A desperate howl pieces the thick cloth walls. It didn't faze him. War and battle brought wounds. There had been plenty of times he had sat through field surgeries, holding his own men down as limbs were removed in a bid to save the man. A goose quill found its way to his hand and ink became the focus of his attention as he penned a letter.

Arbitrium Tyra,

With the passage of several days I have yet to receive a response form you. Where I doubt the message did not reach you I will offer that potentiality as valid should you appeal to it. Further assuaging you of opting such a response is the fact I've brought you into the Imperial Diplomatic Corps and you now have membership of the Imperial Military Command. Where you silence ensues know that I will not permit it indefinitely. Lest you wish to bring shame to you family name and onto your own head.

Should it be in your heart to improve yourself then these words you shall take to heart. Your service will be paired with excellence and your duty shall par none in your execution. Realize that you are allowed to write to me directly. It is your task to uncover that which is unseen. When next I am in the Capital I shall expect you to make a report in person.

I wish to be informed about William Fitz Roberts, Zeratul Blint and Zyvexus Vangelis at the very least. What kind of men are they, how do they operate, what are their goals and how do they view the Empire. Simple enough for a first assignment. Feel free to expand the list as you see fit or are able.

Further, Tyra, write the letters with your own hand when you report to me.

With a benevolent eye,

Aldrakar Renodin

Sanding the fresh ink Aldrakar blew off the excess sand and rolled the scroll up. Poured a liberal amount of Dark Crimson wax and pressed firmly the Imperial Seal of House Renodin into the solidifying substance.

Myr Arnickles Renodin

"We depart this evening" - Myr read standing by the Bridge of Ciarin. The Redmanes stood in front of him, noone said a word, there was no need as without making a sound their faces all asked the same question - "What shall we do?"

If a wise'ard appeared before him now and offered to split him in two, he would take the offer and kiss the fiend in thanks. Alas no such thing happened.

He lowered his head and - "Turn around! We return to Garuck Udor!" - his voice bellowed.

Spring Evening -- Garuck Udor

Tohrm Elrath

Tohrm stood by his now dwindling company upon the fields of Grodno. Despite the presence of more nobles under the banners of Luria, he was certain of one outcome.

His men would all die this day.

It had been a long road, but they had made good time. Their spirits had been lifted. They were ready to do battle. Reassured of Luria's glory and willing to do their Emperor's bidding. And yet Tohrm could barely lift his head.

The Lord of Wars toll had to be paid. His due was in death; his reward? Tohrm was not quite sure yet.

He had tried his best to retain a stoic outward appearance. That no matter the losses and hardships he and his retinue incurred, he would remain stalwart. But now when the fates of the last of his brave men were sealed, he could only feel pity. The poor folk. Common, yet as resolute in their cause as any highborn that rode with them that day.

Perhaps, more so.

When the horde came into sight, all doubts had been dispelled from his mind. This was the end for them. He was determined in one thing, however. To give these souls the death they deserved.

Tohrm drew his blade once more, the glistening buckler adorning his left arm with the gilded coat of his house. He admired that blazing sun of his crest. A new dawn was coming. Despite his sadness, he felt a great sense of pride wash over him. These men had followed him, even to their deaths.

"Forward! Sons of Luria!"

The cries of their charge were quickly dimmed by the chattering howls of the beasts. But he stood by them.

Until the last man had fallen.

Glory had to be won through sacrifice.

And on the fields of Grodno, none could say that glory was fleeting.

Nicholas Archival

With a sickening squelch, Nicholas pulled the arrow free from where it had lodged itself in the ogre's misshapen chest. The odour that permeated the battlefield was pungent, but he had quickly re-accustomed himself to the experience. The Silver Quivers were arrayed nearby, managed by Loras. They attended to the same unpleasant work, collecting used arrows and salvaging what they could - in times such as these, it was simply impractical not to take advantage of supplies and materials that would otherwise be wasted, rotting in used battlefields.

This was not his only duty during these moments of respite from marching and fighting. Often one of Garuck Udor's many tax collectors and bureaucrats would arrive to badger him, stifling their vomit and clambering over the heaps of monstrous carcasses. He would pause, expertly directing their efforts to refresh the region's administration so that repairs could be made most efficiently. This kind of clean-up was becoming more and more normal too him; in his first campaign, he had no responsibilities beyond the following of orders. Now he was the realm's chief courtier, the duty fell to him to coordinate and overview paperwork and reports, over and over.

For the time being at least, Nicholas was free to keep to his thoughts. The day's work was drawing to a close and the sun was setting above, sinking down to hide beneath the western horizon. The encroaching dusk was ever his favoured time and the golden hue from the sun's rays even managed to dull the grim sight of cleaved steel and fresh corpses laying with only the sky above them. Soon enough, the dirt would be their company and the army would move on.

But that was the way it had to be. The Marshals and their noble soldiers could not waste time better spent scouring the realm. Sentiment was a wonderful thing, but there was scarcely time for it in times of need. Not that Nicholas truly minded; the faster the rogues were driven out, the faster peace would return to Luria. And with peace, prosperity.

Though he knew he ought not to, he could only dwell on more pleasant times. Sharing wine in Ambervale's hall; boat-trips across the lake. Perhaps he would be able to relive them someday yet. But for now, those arrows would not collect themselves. He moved to the next monster.

Aldrakar Renodin

The Young and the Old

As the sun began to lazily sink into the horizon it was yet determined to bath the world in hues of copper and of the vaguest of lilac. Having finished his duties for the day. The day that followed after battle. The Hordes in Grodno were no more. Their blood mingled with the blood of man. Together they soaked the earth and made mud of the land. The camp was full of it and every set of boots failed to escape its stain.

Wearing a comfortable shirt of fine linen and leather hose held snug around his waist with an exquisite, dark leather belt Aldrakar walked around the modest war-camp. The shirt sported embroideries that were hard to make out from a distance. Ivory on Ivory had that effect and the dimming fight did not help either. Campfires began gathering men as they unwound and enjoyed a private moment. Torched were being lit and despite all this, the men knew the Emperor. Perhaps it was his confident stride. Maybe it was the signature golden hair that struggled to reach his shoulders properly. Some saw it by the solid gold ring on his right hand. Big and present to every eye that harbored greed. Then again, the Emperor wasn't a man that loved recognition and plomp, regardless of the fact he used it often. Enough men simply knew him for whom he was. Aldrakar.

Ever since he had lost his flaming Sword on the D'haran Isles Aldrakar never warmed as much to any blade he wore or wielded. Still, from his hip bobbed a blade money shouldn't be able to buy. Love forged in steel and given deadly purpose. His hand rested on the pommel by habit. Nodding to a man there and offering an approving noise to another. A wink spoke volumes and his gaze filled men with confidence.

After a whole his feet brought him to his intended destination. Looking up at the banner planted outside of the tent there was a sixteen pointed sun on a background of sable and alabaster. With a smirk and a gentle look the guards were immediately unsure of what to do. A calm place brought Aldrakar near abreast with them. You going to stand aside? The words were all but smiled. The two guards exchanged a look. Before they could react Aldrakar held up his hands. I am armed but I think I've earned the right, I'm Emperor after all. Certainly rushed to their heads and as one bowed the other tried to push the tent flap aside. At east, it's fine. He said as he passed into the tent. Offering a gentle squeeze to the one that had opened the entrance for him.

Looking at the interior Aldrakar kept a neutral face. Tohrm? The first guess didn't prove true. There was a well dressed servant but it served Aldrakar's purposes. Apologies! The servant bowed reverently. After a short moment Aldrakar continued. Seek out King Karibash of House Ka Habb. Tell him I desire his presence here. At Sir Tohrm's tent. Another brief pause. Go now. and the man was off.

Taking a few steps Aldrakar explored the interior of Tohrm's tent. Inspecting his personal effects and trying to obtain an insight into the man before he would present himself.

Karibash ka Habb

Arriving at Tohrm's tent, the guards size up Karibash and his two armed guards. He wears a fine linen tunic to his knees and loose trousers split from ankle to knee, an adaptation to the heat of the south. He snorts when they demand he disarm himself, "Warborn Tórrarin is a weapon. But suit yourselves." He removes his sword, handing the belt and scabbard to his huskarls. The guards step aside, opening the tent and announcing his arrival.

Karibash walks in and sees Aldrakar straightening up. His eyes dart to the sword as he assesses the scene: Aldrakar is taller and well built but a cornered Toren is not to be underestimated. He raises his right hand and speaks firmly, "Greetings under Tor. We have been summoned?"

Tohrm Elrath


That was the number of men who had managed to crawl back to the armies' encampment, sporting the crest of house Elrath.

Tohrm trudged ahead, another battle thick in the fray which he had survived with nary a cut through his armour. Fortunate did not give enough credit to his person.

As he reached his campsite, resting his helmet beneath his arm, he turned to the bedraggled survivors of his unit. He passed two gold pieces to each man, grasping their hands firmly in turn.

"You are free of your oaths. You have done Luria a great service. Return to your families. Be at peace."

As he surveyed the now masterless tents of his campsite, he noticed his captain at arms sitting by a now smouldering fire. The embers barely glowed.

"Trajiana. You are relieved of your command."

"My lord?" His captain looked bewildered but he silenced her with a raised hand.

"You have done your part. At ease.

I think the walls of Poryatown could do with a new officer. And you could do with some time away from the field. You have fought well. My gratitude is yours."

He bowed. Trajiana fell silent momentarily, then placed her fist to her chest.

"My lord. It has been an honour."

Tohrm watched as the last of his company departed him. They had fought with him since Ciaran Tut had been claimed by the Empire. Loyal to the bitter end.

It was then that his squire caught his attention.

"The Emperor... he's here!"

Tohrm cocked an eyebrow as he regarded the youth.

"I am aware he has been fighting with the Emperor's Will... what is it then?"

"No m'lord, he is in our camp sir. He requests your presence."

Tohrm waved the trainee knight away and went to his tent. The camp guards were brushed aside as he made his way in.

Regardless of what Aldrakar was doing, Tohrm would sink to one knee with his head lowered as he spoke.

"Your majesty, this is an unexpected honour. To what do I owe your grace?"

  • for Aldrakar's knowledge, inside Tohrm's tent*

It is clear that the head of house Elrath travelled practically. He had little in the way of refined clothes or possessions. Due to the recent battle, his armour stand and weapons rack lay bare. A hawking gauntlet was hanging on the corner of the empty stand.

The table in the middle of the tent is strewn with letters. Correspondence between himself and the Marshal Selemnir seemed fairly active judging by the seals.

A bottle of port seemed to be tucked by his bedside. Unopened.

A manual of the Galenan fighting style was close by his bedside, possibly his favoured form.

Perhaps most interestingly, a book of collected poetry and literature from the realm was peeking out from under his pillow. Were Aldrakar to investigate further, he would notice that a smaller journal, or book, lie nearby. It contained many of Tohrm's own personal efforts regarding the arts and his penmanship.

Aldrakar Renodin

Tools of the Trade

Karibash walks in and sees Aldrakar straightening up. His eyes dart to the sword as he assesses the scene: Aldrakar is taller and well built but a cornered Toren is not to be underestimated. He raises his right hand and speaks firmly, "Greetings under Tor. We have been summoned?" ~Karibash

Seeing the old Toren again made Aldrakar feel young. In a private moment he wondered how the man had defied death for so very long and not just on the battlefield. Smoothly transitioning from thought to spoken word he addressed Karibash. Well met Karibash. Your council I require. A hand indicated the effects about. Spartan as the may be but yet granted insight in the man that called it his, Tohrm. I suspect we'll very soon see a young Knight whom I had previously assigned to you. His manner was failing and that was that. Now however, he may receive his first lesson from you. Aldrakar raised a single eyebrow.

Dragomir is quite distraught. He wrote to me today. It seems his dislike for me has grown yet it seems a personal sentiment. A thing that lacks substance. Concern yourself not with it. Focus your attention to the boy. A sharp eye was cast to the Toren warrior. He is overcome with emotion and from what I saw on the battlefield he longs for death. Not borne from shame but for another reason he perhaps can't grasp himself, yet. You will give him the tools to cope with his, emotions. Aldrakar calmly walked over to the cod Tohrm used as a bed and indicated the books without disturbing the pillow. He is searching Karibash but hasn't found it yet. Several steps brought Aldrakar closer to the former King of Everguard. When he arrives you'll give him the hammer and the rod and the sickle he needs. As Tor provides them. Eyes studied the much older man's face as Aldrakar nodded slowly.

Tohrm waved the trainee knight away and went to his tent. The camp guards were brushed aside as he made his way in.

Regardless of what Aldrakar was doing, Tohrm would sink to one knee with his head lowered as he spoke.

"Your majesty, this is an unexpected honour. To what do I owe your grace?"


Upon the entrance of the brazen Knight Aldrakar turned slightly to face Tohrm. His eyes lingered on the younger man for a moment but then they sought out the Toren's. Your life isn't yours to throw away. Men you will command and men will die under your command. Stones cast formed as but words. What do you make of yourself Tohrm? The briefest of pauses. Is this the sort of displays you want to be known for? Object, it matters not. Your true self is plain to see for all that walk upon the field of battle. Calm blue eyes dared the young man to offer challenge. Lashes heralded a bated moment and then the eyes looked at Karibash. Give him the tools he needs.

Isabella Pavus

"Captain Alaric: how many of ours injured?" asked Isabella.

"Just a couple." replied the captain.

"And dead?"

"One. Giovanni Bellini. Torn in half by an ogre in an attempt to drive the beasts back. The two injured sought to stop him, but were cast back by the beasts."

"We bury him tonight. He died a hero's death. Inform the next of kin." she clasps her hands behind her back, still wearing her iron armour.

"His father also serves the unit as a healer. The news is yours to break, dear Dame."

Isabella gives him a nod, before heading out of the command tent and over to that of the healers. Inside an older man tended to two injured men.

"Mister Bellini," Isabella said looking to him, "I have important news."

The man heeds no attention, far too focused on his work. "Your son is dead."

Moments after the news hits his ears, he pauses and turns around to Isabella. "Dead? How? Why?"

"He died a hero's death, saving the unit from ogres. He will be remembered as such."

"I don't want a hero, I want my son. What will his mother say? I- I can't believe it."

"It is tragic, I agree. Many have died in the onslaught of beasts. Many more will. His death ensured that Ciarin Tut would remain free under Lurian reign."

"That's easy for you to say, your brother used to be Earl here, and met even the Emperor. My son died faceless. Not a noble knew his name."

"I did," Isabella replies, placing her hand upon the man's shoulder. He goes to swipe it off, but lowers his hand before it reaches her gauntlet. "And I will continue to. I am creating a wall of the heroes of my unit starting this day. With each man that dies serving me, his name will be etched onto the stone for future generations to remember. Perhaps in my Askileon Estate, perhaps right here in Ciarin Tut. Take a break, you have earned it. The other healers will take over. The burial is at sunrise and until then, we celebrate his life before setting his body into his grave. It is not something we will rush."

22nd May

Spring Day -- Thar Gortauth

Karibash ka Habb

Karibash frowns at hearing of Lord Dragomir's anger. He listens to Aldrakar and steps back unconsciously, still acutely aware that he is unarmed. He looks at Tohrm, full of youthful vigour and its frenetic energy. Not hesitating with his assessment he speaks, "You are scared. You are ruled by your heart and it is not a brave one." He pauses to let the anger begin to seethe in Tohrm. "You wish to serve, to fulfill your oaths, protect your sworn-men; in short, you wish to do all things and that is not possible."

Karibash produces the pendant of Tor from his collar. "Under the Dead God, man is given ever-living life. We are given the strength to fulfill His will. As loyal servants He gives us the strength to smite those who stand before us. The strong survive. We do not enter battle with fear because we have given our life to the Dread Lord, and in return He gives us the path home. We tread the veil and both worlds are revealed." He pauses a moment and sighs. "I believe our Emperor wishes me to show you how to devote yourself to Tor. It is a journey away from this world towards the veil. Such is the gift. Will you accept it?"

Karibash's eyes were once sorrowful and dark. They have turned blue with advanced age. Framed by his dark skin, Tohrm can almost see the memories of thousands of deaths.

Tohrm Elrath

Tohrm listened from his position below Emperor Renodin and Sir Ka Habb. He considered his liege's words, maintaining as neutral an expression as he could manage. Yet his features relayed a sense of confusion, which given the topic at hand, seemed to be most out of place. As the Emperor's judgement abated and the Toren's began, it was not anger that took hold of the knight. It was disappointment, though mildly so. Once the Toren had finished speaking, Tohrm rose to face the two veritable giants of their time.

"I do object to my lords judgement, such is not my place. I can only hope to rectify my actions that has brought your gaze to see me in this light." The knight paused to regard the two men. He had been in both of their presences before, yet briefly and not as the centre of their attentions. It was curious to him, that the two men he had sought to meet and honour each in their own way, had now both come to him. The fates were toying, as they always did.

"No. My life is not mine to cast aside. Indeed, my oath to the Empire and to yourself, means my life is in your hands, to do with as you see fit. The men I have led to battle have passed from this life to the next. Such is war. I am under no pretence that their lives were not already forfeit. Yet..." As Tohrm paused to measure what needed to be said to the two lords, he became acutely aware of something which troubled him inwardly. However, he made no motion to bring that trouble to light.

"I take to the field beside my men, as a highborn. We are superior to the men we lead in all ways, as such, part of our role to play in this theatre of battle, is to be an example for them. Were I to stand behind them as they waded into the fray, I would only be an example of cowardice. My position is not such in this realm, like yours, my Emperor, that my presence is enough to inspire them to acts of courage. It is by my actions that they ignore their fate, and rush headlong into the jaws of death itself, steel at the ready. One day my actions may bring my demise, it is true, but it is not this day. I am the charge of the Celestials, and as I swear to protect this realm, they do swear to protect me. All warriors seek death. It is by their skill and merit that they avoid it, time and time again, as I have done."

Tohrm spoke cleanly, in a level tone. His gaze fixated on each man in turn as he addressed them, and to the Toren he spoke. "A man who lives without fear, has forgotten part of what it means to be a man. We have been given the sacred duty to protect civilization from the beast. Fear of the beast that lies outside our home, and inside our soul, can do one of two things to a man. It can break him..." Tohrm paused once more as his eyes cast between the two of them. "Or it can give him purpose. I have found purpose from my fears and doubts. At one time I wished to merely prove myself to this Empire. To earn glory in its name. But, merely seeking glory for the sake of glory is a vain and foolish thing. I understand that now. I have a greater meaning that guides every stroke of my sword and quill. To every word I speak. I wish to serve, to fulfill my oaths and protect my sworn men. I do these things to the best of my ability, no matter how fruitless it may seem to another."

"What you offer me, Sir Ka Habb, is a gift I cannot accept. Perhaps at the behest of our Emperor, perhaps at your own... but by all that has been said and done, it is not one that I can take."

"I know you both to be great men of your time, who have accomplished much, far more than I can dream to achieve. Yet it is a great honour that my ambitions would lead me in your footsteps. Despite this, I walk a different road. It may be that you both do not quite understand it, and I hope my words here have helped enlighten you as to why I have acted the way I have."

Tohrm finished by looking directly at his Suzerain Emperor, his gaze not once casting down.

"I do not object to your judgement my lord. It matters not, as you have said. I wish only to rectify my error. Though I cannot do that in the manner that has been presented to me."

Tohrm placed his helmet in front of himself as he knelt once more.

"My oath remains steadfast. How would you have me serve the realm?"

Emyhr le Craint

As the morning sun rose in the sky, the gentle light highlighted the devastation of the battle that had occurred that morning. Emyhr walked to an overlooking position of the battlefield, bodies of monsters and companions alike littered the battlefield. Being the second time confronting the monsters in the south, Emyhr was apprehensive about what to do next. Looking over the battlefield, knowing that the threat of monsters will continue, Emyhr couldnt help but feel worried for the future of Dwlight. However, his thoughts were disrupted by one of his medics approaching.

"Sir Emyhr, Captain Gustaf has woken up. As you requested, I have come to alert you about the betterment of his condition."

Emyhr's face now calmed a bit, the threat of losing his faithful companion had worried hims greatly. Hearing that his condition was recovering, Emyhr rushed to the makeshift hospital set up with a couple of tents and a small farm house. As he entered, the eyes of the injured and medics turned to him, looking around Emyhr caught a glimpse of the grizzled veteran now wrapped in bandages.

"My friend, I see that now both you and me have spent time in a hospital bed covered in bandages". Emyhr said in a joyful tone, attempting to lift to sour mood within the hospital.

Gustaf looked back at Emyhr, and with a smirk on his faced, turned to his commander. "No thanks to you of course, once again we got separated, not there to assist me".

With this, Gustaf held out his hand and the two embraced for but a moment. The captain wincing slighting for the pain was still fresh, at which point another medic came over and started applying a herbal pain relief near to the wound.

"I shall leave you in pain then my friend, come find me once you have recovered enough to walk and I shall treat you to some strong Poryatu ale to relieve you of the pain".

With a wink, Emyhr walked out of the hospital. Upon leaving, he called over his attendant who came over bringing a piece of parchment. Emyhr then started dictating to the young attendant who was diligently writing it all down.

"Make sure that gets back to Alfried in Poryatu. I wish for him to prepare another barrel of wine, I feel we may need it."

Myr Arnickles Renodin

Myr stood atop supply cart, surveying the outcome of the battle. Redmanes did well, few of them suffered wounds, alas three among their ranks paid the ultimate price. He reminisced Dougfrey's torso hanging lifelessly from a hideous maw, still chewing on his legs.

He distributed high praises and pats on the backs to his men - "You did good. It was us and Sir Emyhr who held the longest out of entire army's infantry regiment. The valiant charge of Ordo Leonis once again kept the terrors from spilling through further into Lurian soil."

Mentioning the other Lion Knight in Thar Gortauth Myr suddenly felt the need to check in on his friend. He took no retinue with him as he walked towards the camp of First Craint Vanguard. There he saw the knight he looked for, still in full armour, caught in what would appear to be worried pondering. No wonder, his men suffered the toil of the battlefield as long as the Redmanes. Sir Emyhr was a bit shorter than Myr, but broader in the shoulders. Catching the glimpse of his goatee Myr rubbed his own hairless chin - oh how he envied his friend the facial hair perfectly matching the archetypal image of a chivalrous knight. Approaching the man from the back Myr didn't want to startle him, so he cleared his throat and declared cheerfully:

"Wouldn't it be Sir le Craint, otherwise known as the bravest man on the battlefield?"

Following the unusual greeting Myr grinned kindheartedly.

Emyhr le Craint

Emyhr was stood around, lost in thought when from behind him he heard a familiar voice.

"Wouldn't it be Sir le Craint, otherwise known as the bravest man on the battlefield?"

He turned around, approaching him was Sir Myr Arnickles Renodin. Emyhr cracked a smile on who weary face at the sight of his compatriot.

"Sir Myr, you are too kind, were you not also with me on the battlefield till the end? It gave my men and I quite the moral boost to see a fellow knight of Ordo Leonis on the battlefield. How fares you? I am glad to see that you were not injured in the attack?"

With this, Emyhr approached the knight. Facing him, he could now see the golden lion adorning his shoulderguards. His imposing physique was a sight to see and would be intimidating under other circumstances. Dusting himself off slightly, the sun reflected across Emyhrs chestplate, giving the golden lion infused to the left of his chest a great shine to match that of Sir Myr's.

Emyhr stood with his arm out, awaiting to shake and greet his fellow knight and friend.

Donald Augustus Allan


Donald awoke with a rush, his heavy eyes struggling against the light that now invaded his senses. He tried to move, to turn away and escape this barrage but was immediately struck with a fresh pain that consumed his head. He groaned and shut his eyes tight trying to fight the pounding pain embedded in to his brain. It was only after a woeful few minutes that his eyes finally opened, and several minutes more before he could bare to lift his weary body from the sodden ground. Blinking and dazed, the young Lord could finally make sense of where he was: Donald was in a cage.

He sat in a rough box marked out by heavy stakes driven in to the sodden earth and topped with a crude lid hammered together from aged planks and timber. Gripping the stakes, Donald pulled himself forward and peered outside his prison. His cage sat at the edge of a forest clearing surrounded on all sides by tall trees covered in vines and ivy which blocked all light that tried to push through, save for in to the clearing itself. But as he looked about his eyes lay upon something unmistakable: in the very centre of this expanse sat a huge iron cooking pot. Simple and undecorated it had been placed neatly over a pit of fire rounded with stones, beneath the glow of embers could be seen.

What in the…? He thought to himself. Donald’s eyes though weary, did not deceive him and as he examined the clearing further. Discovering to his surprise this was not just a simple forest clearing; this area was actually lived in. From a nearby tree hung what looked like a set of huge knives crafted from steel blades and wooden debris, the base of a tree had skins laid across it form the rough shape of an oversized chair and not far from the fire was a colossal pile of barrels and crates laden with goods of all shapes and sizes.

But before he could really process what any of this, sounds of vegetation snapping and breaking reached his ears. As though they were snapping underfoot. He turned towards the sound but saw nothing, hi sight was blocked by the cage and treeline. Then it came again: the distinctive sound that something was getting closer. Much closer.

He began looking about the cage for something, anything that might help. But therewas nothing. Not that it mattered, as whatever lived here was about to return.

A huge shape appeared from the treeline, pushing aside branches with ease it entered the light of the clearing. Its shape was that of a man with huge arms and legs as thick as tree trunks, but its skin was ruddy pink like a pig, which great clumps of hair covering much of its foul-smelling body. As it leered towards the cooking pot, Donald could clearly see this thing was huge – easily as tall as an elephant and would have been taller, had it not been hunched forward. The creature lumbered towards the pit and with some skill, began stoking the fire beneath it.

So struck by amazement was he, Donald couldn’t help but utter a phrase in disbelief: “By the stars…”

He put his hand to his mouth. He should have kept quiet. But it didn’t matter, for the beast had already heard.

It stopped what it was doing and reared its ugly head towards the cage and with a toothy mouth, grinned right at him.

Suddenly it jolted towards the cage, pressing its ugly face right up against the stakes of Donald’s prison. The Ogre’s captive recoiled as the sight and smell of it as he beast spoke:

“Well, looks like this ’uns awake” it snarled, displaying not one but two rows of crooked yellow teeth “And jus’ in time too. I was gettin’ hungie”

The Ogre leaned back up, using its massive size to gaze down at Donald “I think yer shall make a nice stew” rubbing his massive hands, delighted at the thought “or perhaps a pie?”

Donald lay in the cage dumbstruck and quite simply terrified at the idea of being this monster’s dinner, he needed to do something.

He stood as much as the cage would allow and called out to his filth-covered jailor: “You can’t do that! I’m a Lord!”

The Ogre cocked his head “You wot?”

“I’m a Lord, which means…” he stopped, panicked and then blurted “…you have to cook me a certain way”

“Wot, you mean?” growled the towering beast.

“Well you see… Lords are very special. And because of this they need to be cooked a certain way” said Donald, not entirely convinced by his own lie “And if you don’t or if you do it wrong you’ll get...” he paused again, but shouting “…bad luck!”

“Bad luck?”

“Oh yes, terribly bad luck”

The Ogre considered this for a moment then snarled at his captive, “I’ve never heard of no Lord nor bad luck befor’, I reckon I could just boil ya” said the Ogre, licking his lips with a lumpy black tongue.

“But then you’d get bad luck all over your pot!” said Donald, the confidence growing in his voice as he realised this might actually work.

“Alright then. I’ll just squish ya. Flatten ya in to tha’ ground” replied the Ogre, balling his oversized fist.

Donald let out a long sigh and shook his head “No, no, no. You’d get bad luck all over your hand then!”

The halfwit’s piggy eyes blinked. He scratched his chin and considered this. Maybe the little man was right, thought the Ogre, maybe he would get bad luck all over his hand. And he certainly didn’t want that.

Before the Ogre really had time to respond Donald was already talking again “For a truly excellent meal you’re going to need a few things: turnips, cabbages, hare meat and mushrooms, lots and lots of mushrooms. Have you got all those?”

The Ogre looked somewhat dumbfounded, but gazed over to the pile of barrels and then looked back at the human “Um. I’ll check”

With huge hands the Ogre began ripping the tops off barrels and boxes, spilling all sorts of assorted rubbish on to the forest floor: bones, wood, mouldy food, and the glint of steel. From among the Ogre’s hoard he could see the hilt of a sword jutting in to the air, Donald’s sword.

The Ogre turned back to Donald and the cage “I ain’t got those things”

The young Lord shook his head and put his hands on his hips “Well, we can’t very well cook without ingredients. You’ll have to go and get them”

Donald’s jailer stood there for a second, his mind focused on ingredients before turning and lumbering off in to the forest muttering something about the difficulties of cooking.

It was several hours before the Ogre turned, the arbitrary assortment of ingredients spilling out his hands. And when he finally stepped back in to the clearing he was looking very, very hungry. But Donald didn’t give the beast a moment’s rest, calling out to him as soon as he arrived: “Good, you’re back. Now, it’s time you added those ingredients to the pot”

So the Ogre picked up the ridiculous amount of ingredients and dumped them straight in to his cooking pot, sending less-than-perfect water spilling all over the place. Donald nodded as if this was actually correct “Excellent! Now give it a stir”.

Grasping a large wooden spoon in hand the Ogre began to lazily stir the pot of less than boiling water and unprepared meat and vegetables. The Ogre’s former captive and now head chef piped up after a few minutes:

“Good! Now I’ll need to check it. Let me out of this cage so I can have a look”

The Ogre stopped for a moment, the spoon still clamped in his hairy hand “Let yer out?”

“Yes, let me out” replied Donald, as if this was somehow the most obvious thing in the world “so I can see the food”

The Ogre having done most of what Donald wanted for quite a while, now wandered towards the makeshift cage with one great hand removed the lid, setting it down on to the forest floor. Hoisting himself from his former prison he very carefully lowered himself down the other side and with great confidence, strode towards the huge cooking pot. From the corner of Donald’s eye there was again the glint of still; the handle of the sword pointed towards him.

Climbing up towards it he peered over the edge of the pot in to the murky water below. It smelt foul – truly an abomination of culinary arts. But nevertheless he examined the brew and through sheer willpower he was able to take in the scent without emptying his bowels. The Ogre stood opposite to him and watched the man closely.

“Oh no. No, no, no” sighed Donald, shaking his head with feigned disappointment.

“Wot? Wot?” demanded the Ogre

“You’ve forgotten the seasoning! Oh, blast” he exclaimed “Without it the food is ruined! It looks like you have to start all over again”

The Ogre roared in frustration and began stomping about the camp “But ya said we needed turnips, cabb-ages, hare meat and lot’sa mushrooms”

“Turnips, cabbages, hare meats, mushrooms and the seasoning. We can hardly cook without seasoning!”

Taken by Donald’s deception the Ogre clenched it’s meaty fists and struck a nearby tree, shattering branches as it roared in hunger and anger. With the Ogre momentarily distracted Donald slipped away from the cooking pot and eyed the sword, moving towards it with an arm outstretched.

But his captor turned back too soon and laid his beady eyes upon Donald; in a single moment he finally connected the dots and saw through the lies.

“You!” barked the Ogre “You tried to trick me. Ya bastard!”

The ground shook as the Ogre’s huge fist thundered in to the ground, narrowly missing Donald but sending a cloud of dirt leaping in to the air. A second oversized hand lunged towards him, as the Ogre’s fattened fingers grasped and clawed at him.

But it was enough. Donald grasped the sword and with all the strength he could muster brought the steel round - connecting the blade the tips of the Ogre’s fingers. The beast yelled in pain and recoiled with a curse.

An opening exposed Donald dived towards his foe and with the sword raised high he struck the Ogre once more, planting the sword straight in the big toe of the monster; Right between the cracked, dirtied toenail and the soft skin.

Jumping back the Ogre gripped his bleeding foot in both hands and hopped about in agony, sending the blade right back in to Donald’s hands.

Stunned by pain the Ogre did little to stop Donald as he readied his blade and thrust it in to the ankle of the Ogre’s uninjured foot. The beast swore once again before tripping over his own colossal weight and coming crashing to the ground. Donald barely dived out the way before the Ogre’s enlarged head connected with the brim of the cooking pot.

The huge pot leapt up and spilt its content over the Ogre. All the vegetables, meat and boiling water cascaded down on to the hairy face beneath as his tiny eyes were singed and burnt. There was a brief scream from the poor creature before the huge iron pot spun about and shattered itself upon the Ogre’s brow, silencing him.

Assorted foods pooled about the fallen beast as the boiling water turned the pink skin a horrid read. Donald pulled himself to his feet and wiped the sweat from his brow, it seems he would not be eaten today.

But not wishing to see if the Ogre would awake or not he looked about the forest, picked a direction and disappeared off in to the woods, grinning as he went.

William Fitz Roberts

The Battle of Thar Gortauth

William stood amongst his soldiers, waiting for the oncoming horde. All around him was a sea of black. Before, the soldiers under his command had worn bright colours and finely polished cuirasses and morion helms. Now each solider wore black, and most even had stained their cuirasses and helmets with soot to signify their mourning at the loss of Grodno. William put all thoughts of Grodno to the back of his mind. He needed to concentrate, not worry about his home. He looked up and down the lines. A few infantry commanders had placed their soldiers in the wrong lines, but there was no time to correct that now. It would be their fault if they lost men. As the monsters and undead approached, he ordered the arbalesters to let fly, smiling to himself as up and down the ranks other groups of archers did the same. The lines of infantry began to move forward as the archers continued their withering hail of arrows.

William watched the swirling melee before him. He smiled once more as the monsters began to flee or get cut down by the strength of Lurian arms. However, as the last of the infantry under Sir Emyhr and Sir Myr was forced to retreat, William knew that at last the melee capabilities of his new formation was be tested. Slamming the snarling visor of his helmet down, William roared at the pikemen move to the front of the unit as the arbalesters pulled back to the flanks. William hefted his mighty poleaxe and joined the ranks of swordsmen ready to counter charge. The arbalesters continued their constant volley as the last pack of ogres closed on the pikemen and the Free Fontanese Guard. William waited until the pikemen were fully engaged before ordering the swordsmen forward into the flanks. It was then that the rage over took him. The rage at the loss of his home and the potential loss of his family. He knew only one thing: hatred, utter loathing of the monsters in front of him. As one of the ogres turned to meet the oncoming threat William brought his weapon back in a mighty swing and cleft the monster’s skull in twain. Roaring his fury he dived onwards into the ensuing melee as the pikemen continued their inexorable push into the monstrous forms. The swordsmen darted back and forth, side to side, waiting for openings before they struck. Their grief and fury at the loss of their home drove his soldiers to new heights of ferocity and brutality hitherto unseen. At last there were but two ogres left and they broke, running for their miserable lives. William, the rage still on him, brought his arm back and threw his poleaxe with all his might, striking one of the fiends in the back, causing it to fall. The other monster looked back in horror, before continuing its retreat from the ferocity of the warriors of Luria. Marc Antonio walked up to stand beside his cousin, clapping him on the shoulder

‘You know, a poleaxe is not supposed to be used as a javelin’

William chuckled at that. ‘Well, the formation works. It damn well works. We keep with it from now on. Could use some more soldiers though’

‘Will be difficult to find soldiers capable to performing such manoeuvres, Bill’, Marc Antonio said, although he was smiling with glee

‘Aye, but find them we shall. For now, let’s see if there’s any news from Grodno’

Myr Arnickles Renodin

"I am glad to see that you were not injured in the attack."

"I am not..." - Myr paused with feigned disappointment - "How would anyone look at my pristine, scarless features and believe that I am a battle-experienced knight?" - he held the theatrics for a second longer and then bursted with laughter at his own joke and shaked Emyhr's offered hand firmly.

"Well met, my friend, well met. I see you too suffered few losses to the beastly hordes. Not counting the wounded, three beasts have fallen for every one man on our side. And those who gave their life today did so to protect countless others in our rurals, townslands and cities." - Myr assumed a somber but hopeful tone.

"I wanted to let you know in person that Ordo Leonis is growing steadily and we shall operate in our fullest extent before summer. Our chapterhouses are well-staffed and self-sustained. Next time we pass through Garuck Udor, Nid Tek or Askileon we shall raise tankards in the halls beneath the Golden Lion. I hope one or two among our rank take a mantle of Eques Coerator, to ensure there are tankards to be raised in the first place."

Myr laughed heartily and taking one more good look at young le Craint he said:

"I am glad to see you well. I really am, but... where is that battle-weary man that always accompanies you, what was his name... Gustaf?"

Emyhr le Craint

"I am glad to see you well. I really am, but... where is that battle-weary man that always accompanies you, what was his name... Gustaf?"

Emyhr's cheerful face turned dejected for a slight moment but then returned to a smile.

"My loyal compatriot Captain Gustaf took a serious wound in battle. I only saw it for a moment but a beast caught him off guard when he was rallying the vanguard.

Emyhrs face turned to Sir Myr, but rather than a look of sadness, he had a cheery look upon his face.

"He was fortunate, Gustaf has recovered and is conscious in the makeshift hospital over by the farm house. I suppose it is lucky that casualties were not high, but some wounds are quite serious. My medics are working hard to treat them but I fear for some of them".

Realizing this was not a moment to be sorrowful, rather joy that we vanquished a formidable force. Emyhr called over to his attendant who brought with him a bottle of wine. Emyhr handed Sir Myr a well polished glass with the finest wine from Poryatu.

"I know you mentioned about drinking in the chapterhouse, but I feel a toast would not go amiss right about now. To those who have fallen in the line of duty."

Karibash ka Habb

As Sir Tohrm continues his monologue he doesn't notice the growing anger in the Old Toren. As he finishes, Karibash poignantly spits on the floor to punctuate the beat.

"You refuse me? The path to the one true god? You arrogant little quim. A tradition spanning back beyond the days of kings literally into the mists of creation and you've refused it." He raises his hands in front of him, face locked stoic in rage. He looks to Aldrakar who had simply stepped back to make some space. Pointing to Tohrm he says, "This is YOUR vassal, he reflects on you!" He looks back at Tohrm, "you reflect on your emperor, oh so loyal servant. Consider that next time. I would execute my vassal were they so poor mannered"

The Old Toren looks very old as he turns to the desk and very scary as he sends it tumbling with a seemingly light tap. "Sir ka Habb, Sir Karibash, it enrages me every time. We are King," he turns back to Tohrm, eyes wild with rage, "we are King of Everguard. These monsters and undead are nothing to us. Our oaths are worth more than gold. You little worm wriggling in mud." He spits again then walks out the tent, no longer concealing a stiletto dagger at his waist and shivs in his boots.

Aldrakar Renodin

Refusal of the King of Everguard

The old King raged and saw fit to display his lingering strength despite his yeas well placing him in the category of ancient. The desk flew and with it all the scrolls that had previously found perch upon it. As Karibash exited Aldrakar kept a calm demeanor. If I was a less kind man, you would be dead now Tohrm. He indicated the direction in which the old Toren had departed. Fortunately for you, I am kind. Hands found solace in one another. You've refused a great thing. The reasons you have kept yo yourself but they must be superior to that which I've just offered you. Keep them if you wish young Knight. Everyone forges their own path but know that once offered and refused it is not offered again.

Time stretched as Aldrakar let the words sink in. Eventually he looked at the mess that Tohrm's tent had become. You will find appropriate means of redemption. With your choice you've tarnished my standing. Make peace with Karibash and offer him an apology he will accept. His eyes sought the younger man's. You will not fail me in this.

Slowly making his way towards the exit of the tent Aldrakar paused next to Tohrm and placed a hand upon his shoulder. I know you won't. With that he left the Knight and joined his men as they departed for the Capital.

Tohrm Elrath

Tohrm retained his posture as the Toren's tirade was levied upon him. It was not totally unexpected, but the depth of his rage had certainly suprised the knight. The one true god... The words lingered in his mind a moment, the rest of his rant drifting away with the breeze fluttering into his tent. It reassured him, that he had made the right decision to refuse the Toren. This was not the path that had revealed itself to him. The paperwork which crashed to the ground with his desk mattered little. He had done a poor job in organising it recently anyway. The threats and insults had made scant difference to his mood. It was unfortunate, indeed, that the old King had decided that his worth was next to nothing, but it was yet another hurdle Tohrm had to cross on his journey forward.

As Karibash left, he had remained still awaiting the words of his Emperor. As he spoke, his attention became fixated once more. Kindness. This was kindness? Of a sort, he supposed. Merciful in one sense. To seek redemption? Maybe that was what was necessary right now, but he had marked this as another duty to perform. Nothing more. It was guidance of a different sort that he now understood he must seek. Karibash was not the one to grant it, and so he must begin his search anew. Tohrm wondered, in his more brash ambitions of before, the King's offer probably would have intrigued him. He would most likely have jumped at the chance. But this change in heart was not as sudden as he had once thought it to be... no. This change had been coming for some time now. It had just taken longer to realise it creeping up on him.

"My liege. I have failed in the task you had once set me. You would be right to say twice, that I had failed. I will not seek that which I have refused, this I can assure you. But restitution for my indiscretion is in order. I shall seek to regain your trust, and the faith of the Toren King. This I will do." Tohrm rose from his knee as Aldrakar passed him, lofting his helmet once more into his hands. He regarded it, the scratches and dents of the recent campaign still marring its plates. The loss of his company was still at the forefront of his troubles. Building his reputation amongst his fellow nobles no longer seemed to be that much of a concern. He knew what he must do. To Giask the knight of house Elrath would ride. A new force he would forge of sturdier hearts and stronger wills. Ka Habb would be a tricky matter, though Tohrm knew how a true warrior should solve his differences when words failed. Then, once the invasion had been dealt with and diplomacy aside, his road would bring him to the University he had pledged his support to.

In the ancient libraries of Shinnen he would seek answers. Answers to a question long held over his families name. Legends and sayings spoken of in reverance, yet barely given substance in his life.

23rd May

Spring Morning -- Thar Gortauth

Myr Arnickles Renodin

"I know you mentioned about drinking in the chapterhouse, but I feel a toast would not go amiss right about now. To those who have fallen in the line of duty."

"To the fallen..." - Myr downed the glass and spat on the ground, seeing confusion he rushed to explain - "forgive an old habit. I come from the Desert of Silhouettes. On the endless dunescape the gift of water was the most appreciated gift of all. Though wasting anything potable there was unthinkable, greatest honour to the fallen was given by devoiding oneself of fluids, hence spitting is viewed much differently depending on the culture."

Trying to dispel the moment of awkwardness, Myr raised the now empty glass up high and gawking at it intently he noticed: "How extravagant good Sir! You bring glass to the war campaign? I have some cups and tankards back in my camp, but it's all metal and wood. How on earth do you keep it from shattering on the bumpy road?"

Emyhr le Craint

"forgive an old habit. I come from the Desert of Silhouettes. On the endless dunescape the gift of water was the most appreciated gift of all. Though wasting anything potable there was unthinkable, greatest honour to the fallen was given by devoiding oneself of fluids, hence spitting is viewed much differently depending on the culture."

Seeing Sir Myr spit the wine on the floor came as a shock to Emyhr. However, after Sir Myr explained his customs, Emyhr couldnt help but feel honoured to have allowed such a practice.

"The custom of your home is an honourable one. The idea of such a practice had never occurred to me but your explanation was most satisfactory. To honour the fallen who gave their lives for Luria Nova in such a heartfelt way pleases me greatly. I admire the respect you have to your men greatly."

Emyhr took a great gulp from the wine, savoring every moment of it. His mind flooded with memories of the men who have fallen. Upon finishing the glass, a single tear began to fall down his cheek before quickly being wiped away by his glove. Emyhr turned back to Sir Myr.

"How extravagant good Sir! You bring glass to the war campaign? I have some cups and tankards back in my camp, but it's all metal and wood. How on earth do you keep it from shattering on the bumpy road?"

"I am not normally a person for the finer things. However, these glasses as special. These were a gift from my grandparents, given to me when I graduated from my swordsmanship course when I turned 14. They were a very ceremonial couple, always appreciated gifts with inherent meaning."

Emyhr held the glass up to the sun, the sun reflected off the golden trim giving a very dazzling reflection. Blinding Emyhr for but a moment.

"When these were gifted to me, they told me that when my grandfather had led a mercenary band he used to drink from these very cups in times of loss. I take great pride in these because they carry the memories of all those who have been lost. To honour their memory, I drink from these to glasses in important times. Especially when I am in most need of encouragement.

Holding the glass up the sky once again, this time observing the fragile stand. The names Radulf and Isylte can be seen etched into the side, such were the names of Emyhr's grandparents. Recovering from the somber mood, Emyhr placed his glass back into the velvet padded box and turned back to Sir Myr.

"What do you plan to do now? I must venture to Shinnen to seek necessary repairs and rest for my troops. Should you wish to join me, I would be honoured to travel with you."

Leif Wilkins

A sigh of relief. The monstrosities tormenting Thar Gartauth have been vanquished. Leif and the Gwynnblades mobilized towards Shinnen Purelius on the way to the city of Copper.

‘How are you holding up McCormick?’ Leif rode up to the stretcher on which the soldier was laying.

‘Aye m’Lord thank ye, I am holding up fine. A bit slower in the battle upon the mornen… Ever since yer apple hit my bird it has been harder to evade blows. A darn ugly bastard swiped me leg. I reckon I will be all good by tomorrow sir. Learned me lesson’ smiled McCormick.

‘Good solider McCormick – back at it tomorrow’ Leif rode on to the front joining Xavier who was trotting gracefully.

‘Sir!’ Xavier straightened up in his seat as he saw Leif approaching.

‘At ease mate!’ Leif gestured with his right hand ‘What have you learned of our unit in the last few skirmishes?’

​‘Our men are cohesive. They follow orders, stand their ground, and shoot sharply. I believe the recent encounters humbled many of our soldiers. They are realizing the terrible force that these monsters can become in hordes, and are thankful for the support of our Lurian brothers and sisters fighting in honor of other nobles. This war would be terribly different without a strong army and the protection of fortresses. The Gwynnblades are loyal to our country, and are willing to die even if their last breath exhaled “For Luria”. Overall, we see a bright future m’Lord – you’ve taken better care of us than some of our mothers’ Smiled Xavier.

Spring Evening -- Garuck Udor

Tyra Andrasta Bluelake

Taking her sword, Tyra excused herself to go train in the woods in Thar Gortauth. She walked for about an hour before finding a small clearing with no trace of monster. As she walked around in circles to down the grass and make for a good training spot, she worded the letter she was about to write, very carefully. The sun was setting and she had to be quick if she wanted to make use of it to pen those words.

Still she moved slowly, gathering some branches, taking out her set of stones and starting a small fire. Finally, sitting down, the knight removed from her inner pocket a piece of parchment, a feather, a small steal bottle of ink with the carving of an eagle's head. Pushing the Bluelakes from her mind, she started:

Emperor Renodin,

I don't need to appeal to the excuse that your Majesty's letter never reached me. The fault is all mine, in that I took my time wondering about the nature of its contents. I did not enjoy it, truth be told. What you offer me is - it's perhaps kind of you to pay attention to me, but it also burdens me with a title that takes me so very far from my peers, and a mission that can swing in either direction. I am having a lot of work trying to figure out a way of going about this that won't go against my very nature.

What do you know about me, Emperor? How can you trust my grasp of good and evil without the least knowledge of my inclinations? Well, of course you can't, but will also use this to learn more of me. Maybe the first thing you should know is that I have always been the one protected by my friends' secrecy.

I subject to your wish. But I will have questions, if your Majesty doesn't mind.

Tyra Andrasta

It was dark when she finished. The knight had brought three pieces of parchment, and two now laid crumpled in the fire, slowly picking up flames and burning out. The last wasn't perfect, it didn't have all she wanted to yell at him, it didn't show her frustration at not knowing how much she'd have to keep hidden, how much she would trust to tell him. What if he was as stuck up as those nobles back home who thought playfulness was evil? Who could think of true tortures in ways of punishment? She would need to find out.

With a war cry, she settled into a battle stance and began her series. After a couple of hours, back into her own soul, she left the woods, moving like someone who had done that her whole life, and got the letter on its way. Duncan was a little surprised when she got into the tent. On her hair, holding one of her many braids in place, shone a silver pin adorned with a white rose. She smiled and removed it for him to see: it had been attached to a thin steel blade.

Myr Arnickles Renodin

Myr listened to Emyhr's story of the curious heirloom and took one more look at the glass in his hand, now with newfound interest, before he placed it carefully into the box nearby.

"What do you plan to do now? I must venture to Shinnen to seek necessary repairs and rest for my troops. Should you wish to join me, I would be honoured to travel with you."

"Oh, I would like nothing more" - Myr said - "however a different path is set in front of me. After I deal with the remaining beasts in Thar Gortauth I will move ahead of the army to Ciarin Tut, to help the nobles there. I am sure your destination shall be the same after Shinnen. We shall meet again, among the celebrations in Ciarin, when we free the region."

Young knight regarded his friend once more and exchanging few more pleasantries and anecdotes he politely bid his farewell.

24th May

Spring Day -- Ciarin Tut

William Fitz Roberts

The Fall of Grodno

Three days

Three days and no news

Three days since Grodno had fallen

William had tried to concentrate on his duties, but at times it had proven impossible as emotion overcame him and Marc Antonio or Godlinda had had to take over the issuing of orders. Anne had not spoken once for those three days. Instead she sat silent in her tent or astride her horse, staring straight ahead. She at very little and no one had been able to coax a single word from her lips. Some of the soldiers of the Tercio had the same expression. While most hailed from Poryatu, some were Grodnoin and many had taken wives and husbands amongst the people of Grodno. The fall of their home had set a dark mood over the entire regiment. It was as if all joy had been sucked out of the world, as if some invisible set of hands had pulled a veil over the sun, casting a grim shadow over them all. Several kept coming to William with questions, but they knew as much as he did. The most coherent news that they had received was from the bravi, Ascanio. He had ridden hard for two days, arriving in camp yesterday morning. He had braved the rogue lands to bring William what little news he had and William had rewarded the man greatly for his loyalty

Ascanio had been sent out the night before to scout the monsters and see what could be done about getting the family out of Fox Hall, but had become trapped atop a hill overlooking the chateau and spent a cold night there. When he had awoken that morning, he had felt a surge of hope as he saw the first Lurian banners appear over the distant horizon, but this hope had been quickly dashed as he saw the ogres begin one last attemp to assault the gates of Fox Hall. To his horror, they had broken through the meagre defence that had managed to keep the monsters at bay for the last few days and cut all the defending bravi to pieces before battering down the doors to the chateaux proper. Even from a distance, Ascanio could hear the screams ensuing from inside as the monsters ransacked the place. He had been forced to vacate his vantage point when a pack of ogres had spied him and begun to run up the hill. The last thing he saw as he looked back before going over the crest of a hill was Fox Hall ablaze, the bright orange flames mixing with the blood red of the new dawn sky

Now William sat alone in his command tent, poring over reports. He had found this the only way to distract his thoughts.

‘It’s no use!!!’ He roared at last, throwing the papers off of his desk and burying his face in his hands. It was then that a cry went up

‘Riders! Riders bearing the scarlet fox!’ William looked up at this, hoping against hope, wishing beyond all probability…

‘Leopold Fitz Roberts, approaching’ the voice of the herald called out again. At this William stood up, upturning his chair in his rush to leave the tent. He ran to where the horses were coming from and stopped dead in sheer relief as he saw the familiar blonde hair of his daughters amongst the riders. Composing himself once more, he ran to the group calling out his daughters’ names. Anne emerged from her own tent and did the same. As they reached the group, William lifted Helga from her saddle and held her close to him, Anne doing the same with Giesla. Father, mother and daughters shared a long embrace, overcome with emotion at the reunion. At last William looked up, smiling at the other riders. But wait, something was wrong. Leopold’s face was grey and Maria wore the same expression that Anne had worn these past three days. William quickly counted the riders and said softly, his voice almost breaking

‘Where is the little one? Where is Ranuccio? Where is Girolama?’

Leopold simply shook his head and Maria began to wail inconsolably

‘No, no, no’ William whispered, silent tears rolling down his cheeks. How was he to tell Franz?

‘Girolama and Ranuccio were in the east wing when the monsters set it ablaze’ Leopold choked, ‘they were on the third floor. There was no way of getting them out. Nothing we could do. Nothing anyone could do.’ At this last William drew his brother and sister-in-law into the embrace, his niece and nephew joining them. All around the soldiers of the Fox Hall called out to the other survivors, searching for news of their own loved ones as the Fitz Roberts family shared in its grief. Few found comfort that day. Grodno had fallen

25th May

Spring Evening -- Askileon Purlieus

Tohrm Elrath

The messenger had come pounding up the road behind Tohrm and his new retinue, bearing with him a response from Marshal Selemnir. After giving it a cursory read, Tohrm ordered his company to turn back around. It seemed Grodno was in more need of his aid than he had thought. It was not a problem for him though, as the needs of the realm came before his own personal agenda.

Upon arriving in the region, Tohrm sought out the familiar face of Bennet. Tohrm set the rest of his squires loose with a handful of coins each, to placate the locals with ale.

It was more likely the squires set off to placate their own thirst first, but that was of no true concern.

After discovering the location of the Marshal, Tohrm would ride up at a leisurely pace. He seemed somewhat more at ease then he had over the course of the campaign.

"My company has arrived. I shall endeavour to see the region free once more, I hope only the best has come of our efforts thus far?"

Tohrm paused a moment to allow the Marshal response, otherwise he would continue.

"I must ask, what are we to do after Grodno is secure once more? If we travel north to Sulorte, I suspect my retinue will be required again, no? My scouts believe the surrounds to be fairly clear, unfortunately I was not given the time to venture as far as Thar Gatauth. I suspect the numbers of monsters are waning, but if the people of Western Luria would feel safer with an extra knight and two dozen men, consider me committed."

27th May

Spring Evening -- Askileon

Kiran Mir-Ashtan

It had only been a short time since Kiran had taken the mantle of the estate of Ember Hall and since then he had been on the march. His men had racked up the miles traveling first towards Ciarin Tut before being diverted towards the city of Giask to recruit further forces and a captain to his personal estate guard retinue. While of course he had other future objectives in sight, he was a fresh knight of the empire and thusly had to prove himself before he would be able to get anywhere.

While he and his men on their travels did have a single chance to witness the monsters that beset the territories to arrive here. They had yet to see any active melee, such was the dominance in battle of archers against the bestial hordes. In a sense, this was good as it minimised casualties though he did worry that inexperience of melee would dull the sword arms of both himself and his infantry and when the time came for a proper. Though he could hope with the addition of his fresh captain whom went by the name of Flavonia.

It disappointed Kiran that the Armies focus was towards freedom celebrations, after all this was arguably the territory of the Empire that had fallen to the monstrous hordes. If it was his decision, he would have preferred to focus on repairs to aid the region in being productive once they had cleared out remnant resistance within the region.

Though he was well aware making those views known would likely be disliked or not tolerated due to it possibly degrading the position of a noble and their retinue by having involvement in such "menial" tasks.

Aldrakar Renodin

Walking through the town square Aldrakar nodded at the people he saw there. Locals enjoying the bounty of the Imperial Forces. Not just measured in security but mostly in ample stores of food and drink being handed out to the wanting men and women of Grodno.

28th May

Spring Day -- Askileon


The Chase

Gerald woke up on a Monday morning. He had to sleep in his tent yet again due of the poor conditions in South divide. There were a few scattered Villages here and there but mostly there were vast areas without any humans. The monsters and Undead roamed the countryside. Gerald had to avoid main areas in an order not to get spotted. He already destroyed two or three monster armies by dragging and killing the beasts one by one.

The reason Gerald was traveling through this land was for chasing the sage who quite elusive some time now. The bastard was so elusive and so fast Gerald sometimes wondered how could a hundred-year-old move with such speed and grace, likely Magic and vigour potions as there was no other explanation. The morning was clear, the air filled his lungs, and Gerald packed his tent and set a foot towards Lupa Lapu where the rumor was that the sage traveled to.

Titos Drakos


Titos walked into the ceremony hall stopping on the dragon carved into the ground.

He did not look at the burning brazers he already knew what must be done next.

"Are you prepared" A voice from the dark asked softly.

Titos nodded once and cut the straps of his armor letting the pieces fall to the ground.

He then knelt to one knee bracing himself.

As one four hooded figures stepped from the shadows and withdrew brands from the fire, they paused only for a moment before pressing the brands into Titos' shoulders and back.

He gritted his teeth but did not let a sounds escape his lips for that would have meant failure.

After agonizing minutes of this the brands were withdrawn and four glowing marks were left in their place, Dragon Heads on his shoulders and a pair of Dragon Wings on his back.

He stood and proclaimed the oath those that had gone before him "I am the Drakulan Dragon, with this gift bestowed to us we shall burn away the blights of this land"

Titos strode forward and took up the black armor that the other Dragons had worn before him.

He then turned and walked outside to face the phalanx elite of his family who knelt before him, ready to heed his command.

29th May

Spring Day -- Ciarin Tut

Matthew Coffey

Matthew sat within his tent, perusing the latest bout of letters that bombarded him on a daily basis. Mostly reports. Reports of victory for Luria and defeat for most others. In but a season of these fiends arriving on the shores, they have either wandered off or been repelled. It is as if they had never come to Luria, the armies merely exercising their legs as they tramped through the countryside to reassure peasants that they were here to defeat the beasts. It was true that Matthew had engaged a larger horde at Irvington with the Imperial Marshal among others, but the result of their struggle was it to be left behind at the order of the Emperor. It had been a bloodier engagement, one he would not walk away from without another scar.

As he reached the letter from the Imperial Marshal, the one about resignation, he decided it was worth a greater look. A few replies here and there, perhaps he should reply also? Nodding slowly, he began to scribble down the words of farewell and congratulations that would mechanically find their way onto the parchment. Thoughtless, almost. He paused, frowning to himself. His last correspondence was in Fissoa, and it had been enlightening to say the least. The measure of King Cador was more than a simple minded soldier. The most valourous man in all of Luria, he recalled with a chuckle. At that, he rose from his seat and called for his servant to bring his garbs.

Emerging from his tent in his usual military wear - a plain and unadorned white gambeson, save for his coat of arms - Matthew strode with purpose through the camp. Accompanied only by what seemed to be a bottle of wine, which was not unusual of the rotund King to say the least. What was odd was the lack of the servile trailing behind his person. His path no doubt had him pass through the other regiments which comprised the Emperor's Will on its march back to Giask. Finally, he stopped outside the Imperial Marshals temporary abode. Informing a guard much louder than necessary; "I seek the Imperial Marshal, King of Sky Hall, on matters of urgency. Will I be granted his audience as King of Earth Hall?"

All the while as he stood and spoke aloud, the young King wore a particularly mischievous grin plastered across his features.

Spring Evening -- Nid Tek

Nicholas Archival

With Nicholas at its head, the Silver Quivers continued their march across the rural countryside to return defend their lord's sovereign territory. They had been in a number of battles thus far and their eagerness for the next was palpable.

"Cousin!" called Loras, riding to catch up with him.

The squire had been making the rounds with the other units, and came bearing a message.

"The Grand Panetier has cleared Nid Tek in our stead. Marshal William orders a return to Ciarin Tut!"

With a raised brow, the Magistrate exhaled. It would have been good to return home. It had been too long since he had sat in his Ambervale manor and overlooked the lake; fighting to preserve that tranquillity would have been a fight worth having. After some yelled instructions, the Quivers turned and began their return with disappointed hearts.

"Imperial Magistrate!" yelled another voice, this time a common messenger. "New orders! We are to continue our march to Nid Tek once more!"

He sighed.