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Phoenix

Lord of Azure Flame Chapter 22: The Hunt

874 posts in this topic

"According to someone who is also from Altenau - Adam - strange arrows rained down. That is all I can think of to explain this. Some sort of demon," Joe replied, "And we shouldn't wait for any of that. Come on; this is a shortcut."

The merchant led Sadie through the house as whickly as he could down into the house's cellar, tightly locking the somewhat-risen trapdoor behind them. "There's an old hole in here," he explained, leading her down a short, underground tunnel and moving a few stones out of the way. "Here; go," he hastily lifted her up and out the opening she was just be able to squeeze through, "Run and don't stop. You're near the gates. I'll be allong as soon as I move enough of these to get through myself. If you delay neither of us will escape."

There wasn't anything hostile between Sadie and the town's gates. The area was clear...for now. However, sounds of the undead could be heard from nearby, as well as on the other side of the cellar doors. "Hurry!" Joe urged.

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Nodding quickly behind her, Sadie ran as fast as she could propelling herself faster than before. She ran so fast and so hard her body began to ache and it felt like her lungs were going to explode. She wondered what was going to happen to Joe but she kept running and running and running until she propelled herself through the gates, running a little further before turning around and checking to see if Joe was ok, her wind magic at the ready. It would take awhile for the zombies to catch her now.

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Tessa was glad that the situation with Beau had resolved itself neatly, the boy didn't actually seem to have minded her forwardness, and seemed like he might properly listen to the advice, though he did attempt to justify his reasons for it. It was kind of silly he even tried, she knew [i]full well[/i] why he'd felt compelled to heal beyond his bounds. It had to be the same for everybody, didn't it? There couldn't be a healer alive who could simply stand by and not give aid if they were able.

Some further light discussion had followed, mostly regarding finalizing the preparation for travel, who would sit where, and the like, Tessa made certain to actually give Chase the herbs for his headache like he'd requested earlier before waving him off, and then the four of them had settled back into the carriage. Beau had quickly fallen asleep, and in consideration, the conversation tended to be a little muted for most of the ride, with occasional small pockets cropping up here or there about this or that. Charlotte was on the far side of the carriage from her, so Tessa couldn't talk to the girl as much as she would have liked, but that was consequence from the first assignment early in the morning. Beau had wanted to sit next to Arrin, being his closest associate so far it seemed, and when asked, Charlotte had smilingly insisted that she would take the far side 'so as not to interfere'.

For a time, Tessa had dozed off, leaning against Arrin's shoulder, but just recently the a carriage wheel ran into one of the innumerable rocks on the road. The resulting jolt, while nowhere near an impact to cause even any superficial damage to the vehicle, had startled her back into wakefulness. She started to stretch, but remembered her place, and that the enclosed structure, while not cramped, certainly didn't have the room for that and she settled for rubbing her eyes before peering out the window. She was bored, and carriage-travel seemed to instill in her a sense of restlessness she never got while riding. Perhaps it was because she was merely a passenger, and didn't have to engage in any activity directly...

Calling up to the driver, she expressed her sentiments plainly while continuing to fidget "Say... Fargo? Are we there yet~"

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Having located Ava after a few minutes of wandering around cluelessly and being given some herbs by Tessa, Chase followed along near the carriage and looked at the herbs, before realizing he wasn't sure what to actually [i]do[/i] with them. At first he tried eating one, but immediately spit it out. After several attempts he figured out to keep them pressed against the part of his head that was throbbing and felt somewhat relieved by them.

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[b]The Fargo[/b]

Things were gong nice and swell, everything was peaceful and--was that a question? Ah, seemed like it was. Were they there yet? Well, that was certainly easy to answer. "Not yet missie, shouldn't be too long granted we don't get waylaid again!"

[b]
A Paul[/b]

Paul banged his head against the top of the carriage. Of course they were gonna get waylaid again if you tempt fate like that!"

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As Altion and Adam rode over the river and through the woods, to Morgan's group they went, a grim, dissatisfied look came over Altion's face. Though he was sure Adam could not see it, he could see the signs of a recent fight. Blood on leaves, trampled earth, and the faint stench of corpses. "Looks like we are getting close. They must have been assaulted by bandits or something, I can smell the battl-" right on cue, they came upon the bodies of the three men that Esphyr had slain with her weapon. Altion quickly pulled back on Gluebag's reigns, causing the horse to rear up, obscuring Adam's view of the bodies. Altion didn't want the man to see them lest he puke, doubly so upon his back.

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"Oh, godess, protect those innocents and forgive my fibbing... Sadie was simply a passer-by. I could at least try to save her. I hope to see my Merryl soon... And protect the children of Altenau, like I know she must be doing. Merryl loves children so..." Joe muttered the prayer as he began stacking the heavy stones again. He knew he wouldn't be able to move them out of the way to make the hole big enough for him to get through. He could at least make it appear that Sadie had disappeared and stump whoever was chasing them. His task completed, Joe looked about for anything he could use as a weapon.

"I mayn't be so profficiant as to be a warrior...but I can fight for the hope of my wife and maybe make things a bit easier for when those warriors come to liberate us!" he growled to himself as he hefted a heavy hammer that had been previously used for smashing boulders too big to move out of the way. Readying himself, and taking deep breaths to try to calm his nerves, Joe waited for the first to come through the doors. Only one could go through at a time and that gave Joe at least a bit of hope.

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[b]Charge![/b]

Althea charged towards the group, and the cavaliers fanned out around her. The horses quickly formed a semicircle of sorts around the company, who had apparently stopped for a bit. Althea looked out at the group, analyzing their auras [i]Only seven? There should be two others...my work will not be done even after this battle...[/i]

"Please lay down your weapons." the red-haired valkyrie said. "I wish to avoid any more bloodshed than is necessary."

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"Huh? Who are you lady. What do you want? Are you Jace's goons?" Alferis said walking towards Athena, staring directly into her eyes.

"And what's with all this 'anymore bloodshed than necessary' crap you're spouting out. There's no need for violence at all. What do you want from us? Perhaps we can avoid bloodshed altogether."

"Safe it fool," Reika interjected. "Violence is the only thing animals like these soldiers understand." Her tone was hostile towards the soldiers, biting, cold.

"Dammit Reika, I'm trying to get you not killed here," Alferis snapped at her before turning back to Athena.

"Please excuse her. But you better have a good reason to do what you're doing. Do you really want to fight us?"

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Kelas' gaze had settled on the horizon as she'd gone into a sort of half-aware state hours before, as she tended to do on long trips. When the cavaliers appeared, though, she went alert instantly, looking for exits as they closed in. She could have escaped, possibly even with a few of the others. Some of the horses were clearly outmatched, though, and of course the wagon made it even more impossible. She had her bow out, arrow on string, even before the leader called for disarming.

"What d'you mean 'necessary?' You planning on killing some of us?" she returned, bow still out and held across the front of her saddle. She grimaced slightly as Reika started menacing the enemy: that couldn't help. Amari was on alert too, looking for openings.

"...Hm?" Arrin muttered, jolting awake as the carriage halted. He'd fallen asleep sometime ago, since everyone else was also sleeping. "What's going on?"

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Raemond followed the rush of activity for a short while before breaking off a little ways away from where the battle was sure to take place to watch from atop a nearby hill. ([i]This isn't my task, but it is likely beneficial to observe. Tarnished wielders, please heed Sister Althea's warning...[/i])

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Having been distracted by Namid's bad mood, Tas hadn't seen the approching riders until the group was surrounded below. ([i]Oops... Darn it, Tas! If you're going to be a lookout, then be a lookout![/i]) The task had been self-assigned and had never been official, but Tas kicked himself all the same. Namid had broken his grudge and flew down to land next to Kiev. "What's going on?" Tas asked Irina.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Beau still slumbered. He was feeling much better, but would have to be awoken. Otherwise he would continue to sleep. Edited by Mercakete

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"Mmmmm," Tessa lightly murmured in response to Fargo's assurance that the destination was nearby. Shortly thereafter, a sound.

"Did you hear that?" she turned and asked the other members. The troubadour had barely finished talking before a call sounded out from somewhere out of her field of vision. 'Please lay down your weapons...', the unfamiliar voice had begun.

[i]Huh... well that wasn't what I'd meant, but... that's also an interesting development.[/i]

"Looks like we were waylaid again after all. Fargo, what terrible sense of timing you have," she laughed a little and shook her head, trying to keep her spirits up. Edited by Balcerzak

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[b]Luc Altair[/b]

Once he saw yet another group charging towards their own, Luc marshaled Thunder forward and placed himself near the lead. There was over a dozen of them, and they certainly weren't in the mood to let them pass without incident. Unless, it seemed, that they surrendered according to the red-haired woman who spoke. This was not preferable at all. Luc would prefer to avoid bloodshed, but they hadn't made clear their intentions at all, they hadn't announced themselves--though Luc could realize Church troopers from their bearings--and the woman's lines indicated that bloodshed was inevitable.

And of course, no one on his own side seemed to have any handle on themselves. Alferis Reika and Kelas already seemed to be trying to--Luc kept himself from laughing--reason with them. "Hold, before you make demands of us, speak first your own ranks and purpose." Luc told the possible enemies.


[b]The Fargo[/b]

"Whoa!" Fargo yanked on the reigns and brought the carriage to a halt. "O jeez, another bunch of guys?" Fargo voiced loud enough for anyone in the carriage to hear.


[b]A Paul[/b]

This is why you don't talk about being waylaid Fargo you dunce!

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"I am Commander Althea, leader of the Septimian Reformist templars, and my mission is one that concerns some of your number."

"Unfortunately, violence is the only answer here. The Crimson Weapons are an affront to the Goddess and will bring great calamity upon the world. Have you all not suffered due to their influence? Demons attacking, inns burning down, unnatural earthquakes...it is my duty to end such things. And the only way to do so is to destroy the crimson weapons, which means killing their wielders. Please do not make this more difficult than necessary." Althea pleaded with the mismatched group of individuals before her.

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[b]Adam[/b]

As Altion stopped the horse, Adam flinched a bit.

Adam: What's wrong?

He quickly noticed the corpses after a moment and grimaced a bit.

Adam: Who could have done this?

[b]Altenau[/b]

The door leading to Joe's last safe haven began to bang loudly pummeled by the fists of the undead. Time was running out.

[b]Party[/b]

As the cavaliers rode up Iso eyed each and every one of them quickly spotting a familiar face among them.

Iso: ... oh crap. It's the reformists.

Kamilla meanwhile was trying to decide whether to speak up or not. If she jostled the negotiation too much, it might lead into a battle and it was inevitable that people would die, especially on their side given the group's vicious blitzing habits. When Tas came down and asked her what was going on, Irina held her head down and sighed.

Irina: We're getting attacked for the bazzilionteenth time. I need to hand Niket off to Lev and at least get my chest plate on before they start trying to run us down. Edited by Phoenix

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"What? Ok, some of them may be assholes, but let them learn how to control their actions. Or something," Alferis said, recalling Esphyr's explanation at how she lost control because of the sword and Damian going berserk.

"Hell, what are you going to do us? For all you know, some of them might be children or innocent! Some of them probably didn't do anything. There has to be another way!"

"Stop it," Reika said harshly, pushing past Alf and stared down Athena.

"Lady, I know you're stupid, belonging to the church and all, but you're an idiot if you actually truly believe what you're saying. What, your religion preaches forgiveness and mercy and yet you go around trying to kill people for something they have? Hypocrites like you are what make this world hard to live in."

"Reika....stop..." Alf said, trying to pull her back, though secretly, he was agreeing with her a little. Would they seriously kill people like Chase? Arrin? They were just children! And Arrin was innocent.

And Esphyr, he couldn't let anything happen to her.

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[i][color="#006400"]Surrounded?[/color][/i]
"I... Am...?" Elle said, surprised. No wonder they called her that. But, this Eric person sounded familiar... The sage began to ask about him, but then the group was partially surrounded by cavaliers. It was rather odd, however, as they outnumbered the outsiders. Uncertain of what to do, she remained on the horse, and waited.

[color="#0000FF"][b]Parley[/b][/color]
Althea was attempting to reason with the group, but Henry could tell, that it was not going to work. Based on what he could read from their thoughts, the bow-woman would die for most of the Wielders, and in turn, they would fight for others. It was pointless to talk, and so, the swordsman drew his blade, and dismounted from one of the cavaliers, approaching alongside Althea.
"They will not listen, Commander," he said. "I can tell, talking is pointless."

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[b]Luc Altair[/b]

Captain or Count? Neither was likely to have a changing effect on reformist templars, but pleasantries would help. "Count Luc Altair of Directus," he said choosing to go with his title and city. Perhaps he could force Directus authority to clear this mess. "While your points are valid, enough misfortune has also befallen us for reasons other than those of holding the Crimsons." Luc placed his burned hand to his chin. "In fact, if you know of demon attacks than should not your cause of hunting them down be of a higher priority? Indeed, that's where we are traveling to now."

Of course, the others certainly weren't making it easy for Luc to try and talk his way out of this. Neither was that swordsmen who stepped down and accused them of not listening.


[b]A Fargo[/b]

"Ah, jeez, probably should get ready since everyone hates us for no good reason," Fargo said to his passengers.


EDIT: Added reaction to Henry. Edited by Script

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"I'll keep an eye out while you do that," Tas agreed, watching what was going on and having namid hover near Irina.

Niket was a little confused but it looked like people were trying to take something from them. He'd defend their terriroty! ...If the Irina let him go. ... Oh. The fun-to-bite human. Niket wondered what sound referred to him.

~~~~~~~~~

Joe held steady, calming his nerves and sending up annother prayer.

~~~~~~~~~

Raemond couldn't help but sigh. ([i]The battle will procede, it looks like. May the demonic weapons be put down quickly...[/i])

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"What the-?! No! Stop! What are you doing!" Alferis said panicking at Henry. "You all nuts or something?! What is the matter with you people? You haven't thought of looking for another solution?"

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Esphyr's sword was out in a flash as she dropped back into a defensive position. What on earth were these guys here for? Couldn't they see the bodies of the bandits who attacked them literally littering the ground only a short ways off? Her eyes glanced back and forth across the mounted soldiers, trying to keep all those in front of her in her vision. This was a clear flanking maneuver, and that made the intent of the people clear enough to Esphyr. They were here for something and were not above resorting to violence to get it. Still, even as a mercenary, there was no reason to provoke a fight beyond anything necessary. With a wary eye, she started to kneel down, lowering her steel blade to the earth slowly and carefully, expecting the soldiers to charge forth at any moment.

"I'm laying my blade down as you commanded." she said. Yet, as she stood back up and backed away, she kept her hand curved and her stance in the ready position; just incase she needed to pull her 'backup'. Yet, even as she did so, she could feel the hairs on her arms and legs standing on end. Something was going to happen... and less than a moment later, her fear was confirmed.

[i]"Unfortunately, violence is the only answer here. The Crimson Weapons are an affront to the Goddess and will bring great calamity upon the world. Have you all not suffered due to their influence? Demons attacking, inns burning down, unnatural earthquakes...it is my duty to end such things. And the only way to do so is to destroy the crimson weapons, which means killing their wielders. Please do not make this more difficult than necessary."[/i]

"Crap." muttered Esphyr under her breath at hearing that. Even if she, Morgan, and every other wielder here tried to deceive to slip by without a fight, Esphyr felt sure Reika would not. A fight was about to happen.

---

"I don't know. I haven't seen any weapon that could remotely cause wounds like those. Magic mayhapes? No burns or clear cuts; I doubt it is fire or wind. Lightning maybe? It matters little. These bodies are near the path where the group would have traveled, and they are fresh. We need to hurry! They may still be in trouble! On Adam! On Gluebag! Tis our honor to stop such ruffians!"

He didn't know if the group was safe or not, or if there was any need for his assistance, but he was sure of one thing. He had been a coward; and if he was ever to become like the knights in the stories, he would have to start working towards that goal! Kicking Gluebag in the side to spurr him on once Adam was secured, he took off into the underbrush; his head lowered as he used the armor to ensure a clear path for him through the trees!

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[color="#0000FF"][b]No Third option[/b][/color]
"... The fact is, we must destroy the Weapons, in order to save the land. And in order to do that, their wielders have to be sacrificed. It is unfortunate, but the only way. I can already tell that you and others refuse to stand aside, so, the only option is to defeat them and you by force," Henry retorted, opening his eyes as if he could see through them. "Prepare yourselves."
[b]
Zombiez[/b]
The man had finally arrived in Altenau, only to find a horde of zombies, breaking down a house door. Without deep thought, the man drew his bow and began firing upon them, in an attempt to draw attention to him.

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"Please...there has to be some other way to solve this..." Alferis said, nearly begging to have them not fight.

"Are you sure it's them that's the cause? Why can't you find a different way to solve this? Why do you have to resort to violence? We already have more than enough here."

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[b]Luc Altair[/b]

The man had just inadvertently offered Luc an exploit, but--memories of the consequences of the severing flashed through Luc's mind. Would destroying the severed weapons work? Would it save the wielders? It might be worthwhile to attempt in the future--Esphyr would probably jump at that chance possibly--but for now it was too risky. If they could even do it.

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"The demons are drawn to the Crimson Weapons. If the weapons are eliminated, that will make removing the demonic presence from the lands easier." Althea said.

"Some of the wielders...are children." she said, giving a sad look at Arrin. "By eliminating your teacher I had hoped to spare your life...but you were apparently the true wielder after all. I regret that to save others your lives must be sacrificed, but such is the way of the Goddess..." her voice trailed off [i]Henry may be right, they're not backing down...[/i]

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