Shin

Angelcynn: The Myrcian Conflict - Act 5

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11th May 812 - The Raewald/Myrcia border

The announcement from Ethel had mobilised the forces of Raewald, the vast force moving to the border to begin the path through Myrcia. The hills and mountains of Raewald flattened out, the plains of Myrcia coming into view. The countryside wasn't too disimilar to that of Wyke, although there was a distinct foreign air to the atmosphere. The march across Raewald highlighted the size of the force Ethel had assembled, the number of fighters dwarfed Wyke's own army - perhaps highlighting how Deira had taken Wyke by storm. Many were faceless pawns, people who would probably die and never be thought of again. However, there were a few familiar faces from Raewald. The likes of Lilith and Steve were present among their ranks, and more disturbingly Feran - it appeared Ethel needed every man she could get. The days were full of marching and the camps weren't exactly homely... and the rough terrain made traversing the country difficult, but the desire to stop Deira was powerful through the army.

Rumours of Olaf's ambition for continental conquest circled through the camps, the sentiment against Deira was commonplace - even bordering indiscriminate hatred against the Deiran people. Relations had never been great between the two nations, but many of the Raewaldean soldiers seemed to treat them as an inhuman species. 

Tarasque had showed herself to be a stoic woman, outside of giving orders and relaying information, she appeared to speak very little, keeping any small talk to a minimum. However, she became far more vocal once they approached a verge, looking down at a village in the distance. Smoke was wafting from the collection of houses, with golden banners surrounding the edges of it. It had only been a week, but Deira had managed to spread its forces right to the western border of Myrcia.

Owen's group had gathered with Tarasque at the front of their forces, looking at the village under attack ahead. "Deira... taking even a village like this for themselves." she growled, crossing her arms as she scowled into the distance. "They've moved quicker than expected, our reports must have underestimated how far they'd spread. Time isn't on our side, but leaving this village to suffer doesn't sit well with me. Prince Owen, we'll need to make a call... this might be a good place to beat some information out of Deiran troops, as well as stop them spreading further. The defensive forces have the border behind us covered, they'll catch anyone who slips past us."

Nelon stepped forward, looking at the sky above the village. "There are no signs of any flying squadrons... it appears that they have not fielded the Reliants here." he added, his eyes slipping down towards the village again. "I cannot see evidence of any camps in the area, it is quite likely that they have only recently arrived... this may be our chance to prevent any serious casualties in the village."

"I agree, the last thing we want is for them to set up a new camp, especially one so close to our border." Tarasque replied, looking over at Owen. "I'm leaning towards stepping in. Your Baron Nelon appears to agree. Any thoughts from yourself, Prince Owen?"

Spoiler

Evening of 27th April 812

It had been a few long days since the wedding, the disasters that occurred were still fresh but the days that had followed it seemed to drag on. The reclusive Cass had probably received only a few visitors over the last few days, many of Owen's group seemed to be actively avoiding her. The Valter sisters, Nelon, all of Serge's men, not one of them had even approached Cass or said a word. However that had all changed one evening. Cass was met with a rather firm knock at the door. It wasn't just a single knock, it was a barrage of hits, followed by another batch almost immediately after.

"Princess, you've got some real explaining to do." Esclabor demanded, banging on her room's door. "I didn't spend three days in an infirmary for you to hide away and pretend that nothing's happened. Open this door or you'll wish that they locked you up in the asylum."

Claire was out that day, gathering supplies from the town. Cass had taken it upon herself to sneak into the girl's fire tome and study some of the text within, which was quickly interrupted by loud banging at the door. Esclabor's voice followed, with some less than vague threats. Cass seized up, not knowing if she had it in her to face someone as angry as him... No. She deserved whatever she got, her shaky body slowly moving towards the barrier, and slipping it open.

Tall and angry... No words better described him. "I have no excuse. And I d-deserve anything you wish to do or say...

"That's it, I'm ready to break this door down if you're not coming out. I did it escaping Nona and I-..." Esclabor began, Cass' appearance at the door halting him halfway through his ramblings. The man's head had a bandage wrapped around it, and his right eye socket was bruised and swollen. It didn't stop his temper though, as soon as Cass eased the door open, he forced it wide open, crashing it against the wall.

"You don't get to play the pathetic and sorry card, Princess. You've gone way beyond that." he growled, gritting his teeth. "I was out there, fighting a hoard of peasants in order to try and save your brother, and you were busy prancing about chasing after your insane girlfriends. Both Arteria and Adele were ready to cut those peasants to pieces, and I've found out all about your sick twisted desires."

Esclabor banged his fist on the door, the tone echoing down the hall during a brief pause from the man. "Serge's men might be a group of braindead commoners, but that doesn't mean you can play with their lives. Getting off on Arteria cutting off one of their identical heads. Ever think about how you'd feel if Charlotte and Freya didn't get Owen back? Or were you caught up in your twisted little game?"

That forced her back, shrinking down. Gods, how angry could this man get? "I'm not trying to play any card! I know what I did wrong, and I know that I don't deserve forgiveness... I don't expect Serge or any of his men to wish to speak to me or be near me, and I don't wish to try for their pity, either. I..." Everyone would be saying what he was going to, weren't they? Everyone... Only Owen and Claire were on her side, and it wasn't even that. They weren't on her side, they just cared enough to not throw her away.

"You're right. I was caught up in things... I didn't even know Owen had gotten himself caught until after everything. I'm a sick, twisted fool, who got too deep into something I couldn't control-- but that's no excuse for it. Owen owes you, Sidny, and Freya his life... And I do too. So do whatever you will. I'll take any punishment. It's all I can do, for now. Anything else is action being louder than words..."

"That little ass-wipe is still owed a good beating from me, but you don't even understand how messed up the stuff you said was." Esclabor retorted, prodding Cass firmly. "So you're going to hide in your room and sulk until everyone forgets how you tried to screw them over? You don't get it, if things went the other way, you'd be cackling with Arteria surrounded by their bodies. You're royalty, you don't just get to enjoy the perks, you've got to be responsible for what you do. King Daddy isn't going to leap from his deathbed and solve all your problems for you."

Esclabor let out another huff, clenching his fist against the door. "I told you the wedding was going to be a disaster from the start, and I was right. Adele's a loon, just like you. It'd have been fitting if you'd both run off into the sunset after Arteria. At least that way you can't try and get us all killed." he complained, wincing as he put his hand to his side. "I made a lot of bad calls in Magonsaete, got a lot of good people killed... that's why I'm working to try and make things right. How about you put some of that effort you've spent blubbering into fixing things?"

"She's not... I wasn't... Th-Then what am I supposed to do! An apology is far from good enough! And I can't act on anything until we leave-- no one wishes to be near me, and if taking your anger out on me isn't good enough, then what else is there?" It was frustrating, what did he want from her? What action could she take right now? If he knew, then telling her was the only kindness he could bestow.

"My father's already dead by now," she bit out, "all I have left is Owen. Don't act like I don't know that... If you've a direction for me to go, then spill it. Otherwise, say whatever you have to, and leave me be. Your barking for me to fix things is worthless if neither of us know how." Cass didn't want to be so curt, she didn't have that right, after all of this... But it hurt, to be told to fix things, and not know how. What could she fix? The damage was done, she didn't know...

Esclabor looked ready to punch Cass, his fist was raised as if he were a hair away from decking her in the jaw. Sighing, he lowered his hand, putting it by his side. "As much as I'd love to tell you to jump into a lake, that wouldn't really fix anything." he grunted, leaning his back against the door. Crossing his arms, he gave Cass a foul glare. "My old man kicked it when I was five, nobody threw me a pity party. All I got was Ceirch trying to bring me a bowl of oatmeal, ended up dropping it all over my trousers."

Coughing, Esclabor held his side with his arm, trying not to look at Cass until he settled. "Do everyone a favour and get that head of ours sorted out. Nobody wants to hang around with a freak who likes watching people die." Esclabor retorted. "I'm hoping that was just a phase you were going through, if it's not, you might as well go check in at the asylum, I've heard there are vacancies."

"If that's all you've got, then I'm already trying to do that. So either hit me," she said, eyeing his fist, "or leave... I don't want your pity for my father's death, I don't want your forgiveness for what I've done. I know what I did wrong. And I know how long it's going to take to make anyone want to even be around me. I'm hoping it was a phase just as much as you are..."

Cass sighed, shaking her head. It wasn't aimed at Thomas, it was aimed at herself. "I'm sorry," she said, not trying to shrink it, mutter it, or give it any less worth. "I know you probably don't care, but I am sorry. For this. And for before. You deserve a better liege. I can only hope my brother is as good as people want him to be."

"Don't go around acting like you've had it so hard, you got away scot free." Esclabor replied, looking at Cass in disgust. "You're right, I I really don't care, and I do have a better liege - your brother. He's been preparing us for the war of our lives, fighting through an entire continent whilst you've been wasting our funds on a wedding that didn't even happen. You're just a selfish pampered princess, even now you're only thinking of yourself. The reason you can't face anyone because you don't want to get yelled at, you don't care how they feel at all."

"Are you deaf?" Gods, Esclabor knew just how to get on someone's nerve. "Yell at me! Hit me, do whatever you want to satisfy your anger at me for being the idiot that I am! Tell me how you feel, drill it into my ears! But don't dare tell me to start fixing things when you haven't a bloody damn clue how! 'Get your head straight', nice advice Thomas, did you have to ask Ceirch for that? Or did your brain manage to rattle it out. I know exactly how I feel towards getting yelled at-- and I am fine with it. So out with it! Quit your bellyaching and bark at me!"

Esclabor gave Cass a murderous look, his face contorting with rage. "You little piece of shit, all you know how to do is avoid doing any real work. Everyone else always has to bail you out of trouble. Edion's thugs weren't exactly easy to fend off in that tunnel. Even now you're trying to weasel your way out of this. Where are your answers, Princess? Maybe Adele would come and clean my clock for disrespecting you, but I hear she's too busy weeping in a seaside shack because her girly little toy lost her marbles." he barked, slamming his fist against the door frame, causing a painting on the wall to drop and shatter its frame. The mention of Nelon had been too much, Cass had gone one step too far. His good fist connected with her cheek, a bitter rage spread across his face.

"I... do not need Ceirch... to think for me!" he growled, panting as he glared at Cass. "Here's a few suggestions. Go wander out into Magonsaete and find a tribe of savages to live with, you can find yourself a fetching cannibal to marry, you'll fit right in. Maybe then you'll find someone who values other people as much as you do!"

"There we are. Tell me how you feel! I may be a piece of shit but at least I'm not a coward, Thomas--" Finally. At least he was being true to his feelings. She was forced back a step, likely not as far down as Esclabor was hoping. The red mark on her cheek would take some explaining to Claire, but at least it felt good for someone to finally tell her how they feel. Cass smiled.

She stepped forward again, staring him in the eye. "At least. I'm not. A coward. You had to be bailed out of Magonsaete the same as I had to be bailed out here. And I saved you there. How does that make you feel? This piece of shit worked hard and pulled your ass out of death, after your magnificent failure. Do not act like you are better than me because of my mistakes. At least no one died for mine! And I know what I've done wrong, and I am not afraid to face anyone! How do you think you're going to feel, facing down the nobles in Wyke, explaining to them how you lost your entire force AND GOT CAUGHT."

Cass huffed, glaring back at him just as strongly. "I have to fix my reputation with the group and my brother; you've got to save face for your station. Do not act like we are that different. So hit me if you must. Scream, and bark, and tell me exactly. How you feel. I will not back down from what I have done wrong."

Esclabor decked her in the face again, barely giving her a second to breathe after her speech. "We're entirely different. I didn't ask for anyone to die, you were salivating over it." Esclabor retorted, giving his fist a shake. "Fisher, Garrot, Lucan, Modron... they might have been soldiers, but I remember all of them. I'm no coward, I didn't run when my men fell, you're the one hiding in your room, you snooty little turd. Maybe not everyone has the luxury of royalty to shove failures under the carpet?"

He laughed, almost ready to punch Cass for a third time. "At this point, I don't care what the others think. Maybe some of us care a little bit more about saving our home country rather than sob about how everyone is mad at them, you narcissistic cow."

Cass coughed at the second punch, but didn't falter, standing back up again. Her glare was ever present. "I know I was. And I know what I did wrong. We're still alike, whether or not you feel like denying it. And you are a coward, Thomas. It took you this long to punch me; what were you worried about? I'm sure Owen will be displeased, but what else? I can't understand you." God, that smarts. It's nothing I've not taken before, but it's still painful.

"Who's sobbing? I'll face each and every one of you, and then march back home with my head held high to save my country. I'll give even Serge the same treatment, but with respect, for having a backbone. He's less afraid than you are to speak his mind. All you are is bark with little bite, Thomas." Cass spit a wad of blood out onto the floor of the hallway, wiping her mouth. "Is that all?"

"Offing people that you don't like isn't quite my style, Adele always had that going for her. She never was one for words beyond 'My beloved Cass, my loins burn at the thought of you'." Esclabor replied, lowering his hand and scowling at Cass. She was managing to find ways to top Angus in getting under his skin. Punching her would make him feel better for the short term, but it wouldn't solve her disgusting mentality. "Good to see you're showing your true colours. A self righteous cow suits you far better than a whimpering wreck. You've got as much bark and bite as a tree does. Whilst you were lusting over killing those axe brothers, I was busy being clobbered with shovels."

He never knew what to make of her, Nelon had always asked him to be less judgemental, but Esclabor knew he was no saint. "Maybe my hand was getting tired, Cass. You're a spoiled little brat who was taught that they were always right " he retorted, sticking his tongue out as he dropped all formalities. "Don't even bring that walnut brain Serge into this. He's about as obedient as a badger and has the common sense of one too. The idiot tried to strong arm me into saving that peasant over your brother."

She grit her teeth at his obvious jeering, knowing that a response past her dignity was exactly what he wanted. He'd be justified if she played into his game at all. That didn't make it any less painful, but that was how things were going to be. "My true colors, of what, being able to stand to my mistakes and give people what they need? You've said naught but drivel this entire time, and given me your frustrations and anger. You're even stooping to the most childish taunts. Pardon my self righteousness in the face of someone like you."

"If that's all it takes to make you tired, perhaps it's a good thing you got stuck in the mob. Sidney and Freya did a perfectly fine job of saving Owen without you... And you know nothing about me. I was not taught that I was right. I was taught that I was wrong, every time, by every person I knew, including my Father." Esclabor we beyond listening at this point. He was like a child wronged, getting upset at everything no matter the logic behind it.

"Walnut Serge had it better than you do. You would've been better off saving that peasant; better than hurting your pride, getting stuck among the rabble. Are you done, now? I have better things to do than listen to the whining of Ceirch's addle brained lackey. Unless your hand is done being tired, and you wish to continue your childish ranting."

Esclabor smirked, he could see that he'd gotten on Cass' nerves, if only just a little. "Maybe you should have left burning to the candles, but that's been and gone. Even if people did teach you when you're wrong, you're pretty awful at listening." Esclabor complained, visibly exhausted from his interaction with Cass. "Not exactly above name calling yourself are you? Maybe this addle brained lackey decided that life's problem's couldn't be solved by nodding his head and making bowl of porridge."

There was no winning with her, no matter what he said she just seemed to have a way to turn it back. Did he really need Ceirch to keep his tongue in check for him? "Maybe you'd have preferred if Angus had gone after him instead, he's a dog who you're more than happy to go around yapping after you."

Cass sighed. This really was going nowhere. "I suppose I'm not above them, no. And I suppose that makes me no better than you, doing so. I said I was going to listen to whatever you were saying, and here I am trying to interrupt you, because it hurts. But that's the problem. You don't care that it hurts. So there's no point in my trying to fight you, is there?"

She shook her head, leaning against the door. "He is happy to go yapping around for me. I've put Angus through too much to be forgiven for, as well. So much so that I suppose I ruined his chances at love proper. But no, I'm glad you tried your best to help my brother. And always have been. I should've stayed back and healed you proper, instead of the weaker staff I tried. I could've made things better... And I didn't. So that was my fault, too. Ugh..." She put a fist up to her face, wincing at the soft spot on her cheek. He really did hit hard.

"I should probably be punching myself, too."

"I'm pretty sure there's a whole bunch of people who should be punching you too." Esclabor replied, crossing his arms as he leaned against the wall outside the door. Part of him was ready to punch her again, although both his common sense and his throbbing hand were suggesting he didn't. "I'm here to get what I want to say through your thick skull, I'd have kept going even if you started crying."

Her face was so punchable, it reminded him of Angus in some ways - which infuriated him. What kind of business had he been on to not be present for such an event? If he'd been present... well, things could have turned out differently. "Screw Kearney, that banjo playing bear mother is almost as unreliable as he's unkillable. He's got all three Valter sisters fighting over him, I don't think he's too lonely."

"Then go ahead and keep saying whatever comes to mind." Having been punched, and with Esclabor winding down-- somehow --Cass was starting to feel less confrontational. Even his talk of Angus wasn't pushing any buttons. She agreed with some of it. "I have no idea where he was. It would've gone a lot differently, had he been around to... Deal with me, better. I don't suppose he is that lonely, not that he'll ever go after any of them." For rather silly reasons.

"You're an idiot, every part of your planning was a disaster. You got arrested whilst shopping, invited a nutjob to the wedding, and tried to hold a controversial wedding in a foreign nation." Esclabor continued, watching as Cass seemed more open to his critique. "Worst thing was your choice of bride, Adele's a serial killer in the making. I wouldn't be surprised if we were invited to her and Arteria getting married. If you're going to marry a woman, at least make sure they're normal... someone like Claire or Decima. They're far less likely to get everyone around you murdered."

Oof, that one stung. She could cry about it later, though. Not in front of him. "I am an idiot. It was a stupid plan, from the start. I'll do better if there's ever a next time." She had to chew out the standard responses to avoid getting overly upset. Of course she thought he was nothing but an asshole for what he was saying, but parts were true. She had extended Arteria an invite. That had been her fault. I wouldn't have been surprised if she'd showed up anyway, though...

"Claire"s nice," she mumbled, trying to focus on positives.

"Between her and Freya, I'd be hard pressed to think of a normal woman in our group." Esclabor replied, grinning as he was aware of the the implications of his comment. He started counting on his fingers. "Charlotte's nutty, Adele's a lost cause, you're a loon... all three Valter sisters could drive a man to end himself. Serge's trio were odd too, I guess that's what you get when you hire based on appearances."

He couldn't let it end there, there was so much on his mind to say. Ceirch had said given the chance, he'd probably never stop complaining, and Esclabor knew that he was probably right. A smug smile spread across his face. "She's nice all right, what do you like about her? She had her own little group of admirers."

"Yes, we're all nutcases. The way you talk of the women here I'm starting to wonder if you swing for the other team." He did seem quite averse to nearly every girl here, but that wasn't enough to really call him gay. He was just a jerk.

"What do you care what I like about her? She's my friend, and makes me happy. Do I owe you anything else?" What was he getting at with this? She didn't understand where he was going anymore, it just felt like he was using her as a post to complain at.

Esclabor shot Cass a sharp look, almost hesitating to respond at first. His confidence soon returned, Cass had given him prime material to poke fun at, as well as see if her fondness of Claire was simply just filling in a void.

"Nothing, I was just wondering how you'd feel about that. It'd be a real shame if you were let down like you let down Adele's brother, wouldn't it? You've got Kearney, Serge and that mad Lord Dougistan to content with. Although thinking about it, she'd be mad to go for any of them... it's a sad day when Kearney's the best of the three." he replied, awaiting Cass' response.

Oh? What was that? Hmm. Maybe there is more here. Instead of play along with his more than obvious prod-- Angus, really? For Claire? Ugh. No, it was time to prod him back, instead of going for pointless insults.

"Why did you jump out of a window to get away from Nona?" And this time, she was ready to block his fist if he decided to throw another punch.

"You try being invited around for drinks and then finding yourself in her room... she'd gone to the bathroom, and it was either wait for her to come back or take my chances with the second floor window. Probably broke a couple of bones in my feet, definitely better than risking the alternative. I don't know what that stuff was... but it was strong." Esclabor replied, his face going pale as he recalled the event. "Ceirch had it worse, he couldn't even tell me what happened with him. It's funny, they got along really well until a year or two ago."

Huh. Was that... Pleasant conversation? So even Thomas was capable of talking without cursing or slamming someone down. "Is this sort of thing normal, for Nona? I've heard the rumors, but I never thought she was truly such a monster... I remember Angus said that he spent a night with them, but he had no horror story to share of her." She didn't expect the talk to last much longer, but it was a nice break to steel herself for more abuse.

Thomas nodded his head slowly, it was hard to tell whether Cass or Nona's behaviour terrified him more. Cass' transient psychopathy had been unnerving, especially with her regard to the lives of the people around them. Nona, however, was such a tranquil menace, the absentminded big sister hid horrors that he wouldn't even wish upon Angus. "She's got a bit of a reputation amongst noble bachelors, it's part of why her father's so keen to marry her off. Her and her sisters run circles around her old man." he explained, his bad hand trembling slightly. "She's a lot sharper than she lets on, and she knows what she wants." 

"I see... Then I'll have to be more careful around her. For whatever horrors she has to visit upon people. Thank you for the advice, Esclabor." No need to antagonize him further if he was going to be agreeable. The use of his first name wasn't necessary. Horrors, is it... I see... What is it that she does? "Your hand's trembling. Are you alright? You didn't hit me too hard, did you?"

Thomas hid his hand behind his back, casually walking away from Cass' room. "If I hit you hard enough to hurt my hand... well, you probably wouldn't have much of a nose left if that happened." he replied quickly, faking a yawn as he hastily made his escape. "It's likely from the fight at the church, it was a stupid fight. They're lucky I didn't have a weapon on me, then I'd have definitely scared them off. Bah, you've made me tired with all that shouting and punching, you should go to bed before I get a second wind."

"Yes, I'm sure... The terrible might of baron Esclabor, my poor nose. I think I'll be fine studying for a bit more before going to sleep. I hope your knuckles don't bruise, sir." She couldn't help herself giving him a bit of a shot at his signs of weakness. At least she figured if it came to it, she could beat him in a proper fistfight. He wasn't the most sturdy, was he? Even if he could throw a punch... Probably why he was so bad at farm work, no stamina.

Oh well. She'd have to explain her cheek to Claire, and hopefully it would go away before Owen saw her again. Closing the door before the petty man could get in another word, she stepped back over to the bed and flopped onto it with a groan. Most of what he'd said had been easy insults... But some of them truly did sting. And now that she didn't have someone to be strong in front of, she could let herself get upset... Just a bit.

The party is free to post!

Edited by Shin

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The earth beneath the tents and blankets was a difficult departure from the coziness of being about to sleep in her own bed, yet it was a necessity to begin the journey for retaking Wyke, just not one Sidney terribly enjoyed. The tension among comrades after the wedding disaster seemed to have been alleviated, mostly, on the bright side, but there seemed little else bright among the war, marching along with the Wykians and larger Raewalden forces. Look at that, Charlotte's found her way working with the Raewalden army years after the original training and deciding she didn't like it. It's a funny world.

She was rather drowsy to start the day, and with some of the commanders discussing amongst themselves, instead she headed over to Claire, poking at the mage girl's shoulder. "How are you doing today, Claire? Journey treating you well enough?"

Edited by Reinfleche

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edit: rip serge good luck in e-sports

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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A bear and his mother look down on the Myrcian village, the mother grimacing slightly at the sign of smoke. Losing didn't concern Angus at the moment, nor even the creeping thoughts of what Raewald would inevitably do to feed its troops--horrid thoughts, to be sure, but neither was an immediate issue. No, what curdled Angus' stomach was the sensation of approaching the stable. In a life before he knew the name Dettard, the boy would confront the same odious piles every morning, before the sun even rose. No matter how much he hummed and stalled, Angus would be knee-deep in the wretched quagmire; the same feeling rose up in him on that hill.

"Prince Owen, we should fight." The Prince's loyal crap-clearer wouldn't let his distaste get in the way of duty, then or now. "We--Wykians, your men. The fight'll happen anyway, but if it's us... that migh' be big morals damage." He offers no more. Even that much seemed a bit forward of him, but if Owen wanted Angus' judgment... then he'd have it, at least where the boy thought he knew what was going on. If this was a trap of some kind, better minds would root it out.

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Claire's attention had been split two ways. She was supposed to be listening to Tarasque (and Owen, of course) for instructions and their battle plans, but if anyone paid close enough attention to her right palm dangling at her side, they would spot something round inside of it - somewhat resembling an apple. "Urgh..." she muttered quietly - she couldn't get the appearance quite right. Was it slightly off colour? Too large, maybe? Whatever it was, the illusion wasn't too convincing, and she knew she could do better.

Tarasque's speech had ended up being little more than background noise, and the prod from behind startled her slightly - causing her craft to fall and melt away into nothingness. "Oh uh, Charlotte. Hey..." She tore her eyes away from where the apple had been to face Charlotte, still slightly surprised to see her. "Same as ever, I guess. I was just practicing, while we have the chance. What about you?" Claire tilted her head slightly. It had been a while since they'd talked. She didn't really know what had been going on in Charlotte's world recently, although she didn't seem to have gotten herself arrested, so... success?

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"Hm? What was that?" Sidney could've sworn she'd seen something in front of Claire, but it didn't last. "Is that some sort of new magic you're practicing? I admit that my knowledge of how that works is rather limited, so even if it was just a new spell of the same type, I wouldn't be able to tell. Certainly not my greatest area of expertise... Anyway, I've been fine. I've been practicing climbing recently a lot myself to be more maneuverable, though I think it needs work still. But, I enjoyed my time in Tytila. It felt nice to be home. Did you like it there? Well, mostly, ignoring some issues anyway... I had meant to invite you to my house, but everything got rather complicated and it fell through."

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Never when she had signed up to be a guard in the city of Hull had Freya expected to be marching on Myrcia from Raewald to fight Deiran soldiers, yet here she was. She was newly prepared, yet it was still such an unusual experience for her to be looking below at the village. It could be a lot like mine... "If you don't mind me saying so, Prince Owen, I think it's for the best to go too," she spoke up. "I think it best we stand against all of Deira's wrongs, not just those that have immediate effect on us, as well as the potential strategic advantages that rescuing the village has for us too. The innocents of Myrcia shouldn't see us as new invaders as we aspire to reclaim our own country and repatriate the Deirans from Wykian lands- by force if we must, but not out of ambition, like Deira."

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It wasn't long before the group began to move to liberate Myrcia. Suleiman hadn't spoken much with the members of Owen's group for the duration of their journey to the border- it seemed that they were all preoccupied with their own thoughts and struggles. So when the group had finally come across enemy soldiers in a village, Suleiman was excited. There was finally something to do, something to shake himself from any complacency. It was strange to be feeling a bit of bloodlust after four years of not picking up a weapon to actually fight, but he tried to not think about it much. There wasn't much time to think about these things. 

 

He looked around to check on the others. The princess seemed to be speaking to the lad that he had spoken to the other day. The prince was busy talking to General Tarasque about their next course of action. The Prince's vassal was busy talking to another among them...and there was the old woman. Was it really a good idea to let her into the front lines? Suleiman went up to her, hoping to persuade her to stay behind the group. "Elder, it seems we are to meet the enemy head on. Perhaps you should stay back, with all due respect from me. The enemies would pick you as an easy target, no doubt."

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...Less than a month ago, Eric had been on the same side as the people down in that village. And now, here he was, marching against them...I really need to put that in the past. I can't just keep self-loathing. I've probably got plenty of loathing from these people. He hadn't actually spoken to anyone on the march. He could just sort of...sense that they didn't want him around. So he stared at his feet and kept marching forward...It was what he was used to. But now as he stood overlooking the Deiran banners...

Even from his perspective, the looming fight seemed inevitable. I wonder if anyone I knew is...Eric shook his head. He wasn't going to think about it. Instead, he did something to calm himself; something he hadn't done in a long time. He turned his left side to face the breeze and brought his left hand up, slowly rising it to shoulder level, only to draw it back and point off into the distance as soon as it reached that high...Ah, it felt nice to (pseudo-)dramatically pose. Usually, it wasn't in large, obvious motions like this. It would be a relatively unnoticable hand wave or something. But he felt like he needed this. He then turned his right side forward, leaning forward with his left hand on his sheathed sword, right open and outstretched, palm facing out. Eric knew that anyone who cared enough to look would probably think him crazy, but...he really felt at ease. And that was a feeling he very much needed.

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"Yeah, it's something different that I've been trying to work on." Claire affirmed. "It's not exactly combat ready or anything, but I need to practice it anyway. It's kind of hard to find time now that we're back on the move." She nodded along with Charlotte's climbing talk - it seemed like the pair of them were on similar wavelengths. 

"The city seemed nice, but I kind of stuck around the wards most of the time. I can't really just lounge around and wait on things to happen; it feels wrong to not be preparing." Their visit to Tytila hadn't been all doom and gloom, but Claire hadn't spent an awful lot of time there on leisure. "So on't worry about that," She waved a hand dismissively. "I had plenty to keep myself busy with." In terms of both tasks and people, thanks to her room's unexpected second resident.

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Speaking of Claire's resident, she slowly approached the two, holding her arms and looking down a bit. "Hello, Claire, Sidney... Ehm, you two seem alright. Are you? Er... Sorry. Being around this sort of combat situation, it's... A mite awkward for me. So soon after the issues that happened... Haha. I wonder if anyone trusts me to be able to help. You two do, right? Of course... Oh, Claire, I wanted to show you." Cass gently pulled out a tome that Claire had lent her, flipping page with an open hand. After reciting the spell, a small flame appeared in Cass' hand. Nothing combat worthy, but it made her smile.

"It seems to be working out, after all, Ms. Benett. You're a good teacher... I hope that I can use this sooner rather than later." She snuffed it and closed the book, looking over towards the small war meeting. "I should be at his side, helping him... But I can't bring myself to. Heh."

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"I understand that. Can't exactly go climbing every crag or tree we come across as we traverse the countryside, myself, can I?" Sidney was fine with what Claire started saying, but shook her head when the mage said not to worry about it. "No, no, when everything's finished, if we're all okay, I insist on you visiting the Montana house! It's only fair." Speaking of practice, Cassandra had approached to show progress on what Claire was teaching her. "Well well, we seem to be accumulating new talents rapidly! And Princess, I think it's fine not to worry. Owen's no fool, and has plenty of people to help him, so if you're not up to that right now, then that's what he has so many people for." She pat the princess on the shoulder, smiling. It wouldn't do for her once-chipper attitude to be ruined forever.

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A week and some more days after, their journey led them to the outskirts of a Myrcian village, their first sign of enemy troops with the smoke that rose from it. So they're going far enough to seize resources in such a violent way... or do they want us to not acquire their aid? Considering the Deiran code, I doubt they'd be setting a trap for us. If there was anything worth his knowledge, was that Deira was too proud and far from their home to be able to blindside them. The attack on Wyke was subversive in comparison, but not in the manner the Deiran soldiers so rudely hit their shores and stirred chaos, or so Owen assumed from the reports.

"Then let's wait no longer. I've a mind to step in and save what we can, General Tarasque." Prince Owen approved quickly of the plan, taking hieed of Angus and Nelon's words, unsheathing his sword. "My men and I will move forward. I am confident this is no force that will take us by surprise." He needed to lead and learn, most of all, in an incredibly short amount of time.

Edited by Xinnidy

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"Let them come" Constance said to the youth. "Better they target me rather than some inexperienced fool in over their head. I haven't fought in a long time, yet still, I think I'll provide harder to kill than one would expect." She looked away from the village and at her conversation partner. "What's your name boy?"

Edited by Jotari

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"Well, if you really insist." Claire was fairly indifferent towards visiting the Montana household, but she offered a weak smile for Charlotte's sake. If it was that important to her, the mage supposed it was fine. Before she could respond further, however, the aformentioned distraction joined in their conversation - evidently not feeling too great about this whole ordeal.

"I don't think you have much to worry about, Cass." Claire shook her head. "...Well, besides the whole battle itself, I mean." She was understandably a little nervous, but almost everyone who had been present at the church at the end of the fight weren't with them anymore. Claire wasn't sure what Serge was doing now, but she very much doubted that anyone in need of staffwork would turn the princess down. 

Still, it seemed like Cass had other results to show as well. "It looks like you're starting to get the hang of things." Claire nodded, wondering if she should be taking pride in her student's progress. I mean, I don't really feel like I did that much, but I suppose it's working out...? There were a lot of small things, she supposed, and in the end they all added up. 

"Just don't get too ahead of yourself, alright?" Despite the warning, she smiled. "Consistency is key. Even if you learn slowly, it's more important to make sure you keep it under control. It's far easier to lose control of a spell than it is an arrow... I think." She shot a glance at Charlotte, not quite sure. Claire was far from an adept archer, but magic was tied more heavily to your mental state than one might first expect.

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Suleiman stared at the old lady, his mouth wide open. Had old age made her delusional? With her frail body, she would be the first to go among the large amount of soldiers that would fall here. "M-my name is Suleiman Eser, Elder. The Prince recently hired me for my services. What about your name,Elder?"

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The boy's expression provided amusing. "Constance. Just Constance. What brings you to this place Suleiman? Why have you decided killing is a cause worth pursuing?"

Edited by Jotari

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"I need to get to a higher standing in society, and what better way than to work for a prince? I've spent almost my entire life in poverty, and don't planning on being poor until I die. Besides, Deira is responsible for a lot of Myrcia's suffering, and Myrcia is my homeland. A liberation is in order. What about you, Constance? Not many choose to go into battle at your age, and expect to come out of it alive either."

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"I go to battle for the only reason someone should" Constance said. "To save lives. Be careful out there Suleiman. Your life is worth just as much as any prince or noble's."

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"Of course... Owen will be fine." He had a good head on his shoulders, and he knew what he was doing. If he wanted her opinion specifically, he'd ask her for it. Otherwise, he was surrounded by level headed people... Mostly. There was Angus there, after all... Perhaps he'd been doing a lot of thinking, and that was why he was so busy during their stay in Raewald. It was nice to see him active again, for better or worse.

"Ah, yes. I won't push myself to learn this faster than my body wills it. Still, you made it sound so difficult... I'll simply blame my proficiency with staves for this aptitude. They must be linked, somehow, even if it's just with one's own magical power. I'm sure you'll steer me towards anything I need, should I get stuck, Ms. Benett." Cass snickered a bit at Claire's formal title, letting a smile rest on her face. It faded quickly. "Ah, uhm. Would I be able to ask you something after the battle? I-In... Private." As much as Alain had suggested she learn the magic on her own... She wished to ask Claire about it. Even if she didn't mention the page's origin, she wanted advice.

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Hamlet Helper

"I'm sure the Myrcian villagers will appreciate it, Prince Owen." Tarasque replied, smiling subtly with satisfaction. "It would be perhaps too much to lead the entire army into the village. If you were to lead your group to the western edge, I can take the main forces to squash any reinforcements that try to arrive."

A trio of wyverns emerged from an overhead cloud, spiralling down into the middle of the village. Esclabor stepped forward, not amused by the sight. "Looks like those Engel-spouting loons decided to visit after all. With Molenli gone, they probably have slightly less reason to hate us, although full out war doesn't exactly make them friends." Esclabor added, confident about the situation. "I've managed to patch together a couple of mercenaries for you, Prince Owen. It was a little short notice, but I've put together a little Campfire Band of our own. Hopefully they'll pull their weight more than the Hearthstone Squad."

Serge, Hans, Lars and Larissa leave the party!
Angus rejoins the party!
Nelon is fit for deployment!
Graham, Eric, Accolon and Steve join the party!

-

Beautiful Defense

Less than a mile away, the Deiran forces appeared to very aware of Raewald's approach. The village had been mostly subdued, most of the peasants that had tried to resist had been dealt with. One of the soldiers, a faceless minion dressed in gold, hurried to the village hall, approaching a stylish and rather flamboyant man. He hesitated at first, the aura his leader gave off was powerful, but it reeked of disdain.

"Commander Oshea! Raewald's approaching! Looks like they've got a lot of men, should I call for the Justice Friends to come to our ai-..." he began, only to be cut off as his commander raised his hand to him.

"Silence, we have no such need for their assistance." Oshea replied, a sadistic grin spreading across his handsome face. "Let them come to us, the village was created with defense in mind. The close quarters will mean that we can hold them back. If they dare approach me, I shall fell with my fabled emerald sword technique. None have lived to tell the tale."

The soldier wasn't exactly sure what this technique entailed, but it fit with the stories he'd heard about his commander. Perhaps some of them were at least partly true? "I see... commander, forgive me for doubting you. You did train with both King Oswald of Wyke and King Edwin of Raewald... you must know all their tactics." he replied hastily, watching Oshea's expression softening from the praise.

"Of course, of course, I was a fast learner, a prodigy even... they were practically beginning me to study under them." Oshea replied, his tone stinking of fake modesty - the soldier decided it was best to just play along. "Now, prepare the defenses. Raewald will learn to fear the name Oshea Horvath. The sharpest blade and wits, the most charming exterior... and interior... I wouldn't be surprised if they surrendered once they caught sight of me. Now go forth, Raewald stand no chance against me."

Chapter 9 - Fortress of Glass
Objective - Seize the throne
Side objective - Rescue the peasants

0d318ae4bc74fe6ae14be561fddd23c2.png

Deploy in the blue! 2 NPC's may be deployed!
Spreadsheet

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The village had the glimmer of golden armored foes throughout it, and three wyvern riders circling in the sky. Even though she was well equipped to deal with them with her bows, the thought of being chased down by them was unsettling still. She looked over the new bow that Owen had bought her- an unconventional gift, but probably more useful than anything else when she was following him to war, and it was unusually pretty. It could prove useful rather quickly with the flying foes. Or just in general against anybody that seemed too strong for her normal equipment to handle. For now, as they came up closer to the Deiran forces, Sidney positioned herself near some trees, glancing around for opportunities to put her sneakier tactics to use.

Sidney deploys on (3, 13). Also the Gutting Knife is switched for the Silver Bow

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"Well, that's probably just it." Claire shrugged. It wasn't farfetched to think that staves and tomes shared some basic principles, and so transfering knowledge from one subject to the other would be much easier than learning it from scratch. She rolled her eyes at the 'Miss Benett' title, but the following request was slightly puzzling.

"Erm, we can, I suppose." She wasn't sure what Cass was looking for in private, but it was a little odd. They'd had well over a week to deal with it before, so what was different now? Whatever it was would have to wait until later though, as it seemed like they were about to begin their assault. Hopefully this battle would progress more smoothly than their last few skirmishes, but at this point she was expecting just about anything. As long as it's not Malaphar, I really don't care...

Claire deploys at (3,14)

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"Good! Good... Sorry for waiting for so long, but, it'll be worth talking about. I promise." It looked as though things were getting started, though. Another fight... Hopefully, this time, for a good cause. Cass gripped the hilt of Gawaint's sword tightly, remembering where they were. Will you be here, brother? I hope you're alright, if you are...

Cass deploys at 3,15

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Angus shades his eyes against the sun, squinting at those flapping figures on the horizon. [Of course I'd be seeing them again. Father... let them turn back.] The knight spits in vain--he knew that didn't get the taste of sand out of his mouth, but he always had to try.

...and apparently, this time, he had to hit the new blood next to him. The mooncalf didn't even know where the man might have hailed from, but he imagined he'd learn something about his temperament momentarily.

"Er... sorry, mate." Angus gestures with a glimmering axe towards the enemy, hoping to gloss over his blunder. "It's nearly time."

Angus deposits Bronze Axe, Iron Axe; withdraws Nelon's Iron Lance and Convoy's Vulnerary
Angus deploys to (2,12)

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