All The King's Men

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  1. [​IMG]
    March 1st, 976

    The halls of Lingerhold were bathed in festivity and merriment. Jovial voices were lost to the greater chorus of indistinguishable conversations that filled the expansive room. The architecture was simple, obviously favouring practicality over elaborate design, but the hall was an impressive sight nonetheless. The gray stone walls were lined with iron braziers that blazed merrily as they fought back the evening chill. A greater, heavily wrought brazier burned brightly in the centre of the room, casting flickering light over the crowds. Several long, wooden tables stretched the length of the hall. They were burdened with a vast assortment of food that was laid out on fine plates and platters, filling the air with a tantalizing smell of cooked meats and spices. Decorative garland had been placed along each table, wound between the trays and candles, while tankards sat ready near barrels of ale, along with decanters of wine and mead. Other beverages, more potent in nature, dotted the tables in various bottles.

    Perpendicular to the longer tables was a single, smaller table, situated on an elevated step at the back of the room and opposite the main doors. It had seven chairs, all of which looked out over the goings on. This was, clearly, the table for individuals of high rank and it was here, in the center seat, that the King sat as he watched his Wardens.

    King Akard was a man who looked the part of a hero from some legend. He was a tall man, finely built with broad shoulders and a trim frame. His features were handsome and well-formed and his eyes were the colour of steel, calm as he watched the scene before him. His hair was a shade of pale blond, kept at shoulder length and accented by a simple golden circlet which sat atop his head. His clothes were finer than that of the common man, but far from the display of splendor and prestige his titled boasted. Akard wore a content and thoughtful expression that melted into an easy smile as he conversed.

    To the King’s right was Warden Commander Jautice Grace and his brother, Lord Royland Grace, as well as a single empty chair on the end. To Akard’s left sat his uncle and aunt, Prince Segard and Princess Adaia. The final seat was taken by his younger cousin, Higard. Behind the King and several paces back were two of his personal guard standing still as stone. A casual glance in their direction might leave one thinking them armoured statues.

    The King’s Wardens filled the hall, the hundreds having settled into various places throughout the room. Some of the Wardens had gone straight for the tables and food, keeping to themselves while others lingered along the walls and arches, chatting with their comrades or observing the scene. It was a sight to behold, seeing them all together. The King knew the numbers-- he knew them well-- but it was a different matter to see them all in a single place, to see how the force had grown. And yet, they still weren’t all here. He wouldn’t hold the announcement if stragglers persisted to be absent, even as the evening drew to an end. In the meantime, the delay would provide a good opportunity for the Wardens to socialize among each other, as was encouraged in the initial summons.
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  2. A banquet.

    It wasn't Lauchlan's ideal evening, but he could hardly refuse a direct summons from King Akard himself. Why announcements had to happen via raucous social event, however, he would never be sure.

    The summons in question had meant a long and rather muddy trek to Lingerhold, and it would be a lie to say he wasn’t grateful to get out of the week-long downpour that had seemingly followed him to the fort. As such, he'd gone immediately down to the quarters upon his arrival, depositing his rain-damp belongings near one of the utilitarian wooden beds that had been made up in preparation for the influx of Wardens. A few of the beds in the chamber were currently occupied by unfamiliar Wardens, and a few packs and boots littered the cool stone floor, but he ran into no one who was presently awake. Lauchlan selected one of the beds in the far corner of the stark, gray room and silently stowed his boots, weapons, and quiver beneath it before peeling off his mud-soaked outer clothes. He was in the process of laying the muddied garments over the back of a plain, wooden chair near the bed, when an old and somewhat sleepy-looking serving man arrived to quietly greet him and take his clothing and armor to be cleaned. The serving man informed him that there would be an opportunity to bathe in the morning, provided the time of a light breakfast that was to be served, and bade Lauchlan a goodnight before leaving him to sleep.

    The following morning, Lauchlan woke before the unfamiliar Wardens and quietly left to wash himself off and take a bit of breakfast. The fort was busier this morning-- even at the early hour there was a slight bustle in the halls as preparations were made for the banquet. By the time Lauchlan had returned to the quarters, the other occupants had gone and his clean attire had been placed on the chair beside his bed. He was rather surprised to find that his boots had been cleaned for him as well. He was unaccustomed to other people taking care of his things for him-- even after two years with the Wardens.

    Around noon, the fort began to smell divine as the scent of various foods started to waft through the halls and, despite his dislike of social gatherings, Lauchlan found himself looking forward to dinner. While it was unusual for the ranger to spend extended periods of time indoors, he was hesitant to go back outside, as he had a sneaking suspicion that it would be in poor taste to show up to the banquet covered in mud-- especially when his clothing had already been cleaned for him once. Instead, he rummaged an old book out of his pack and settled onto the bedside chair.

    When it was finally time for the banquet, Lauchlan made his way down to the main hall, passing several vaguely familiar faces on his way, nodding silently in acknowledgement.

    The hall was already quite busy and there were at least fifty of the Wardens present, with a near-constant stream of new arrivals. Lauchlan was pleased to find that the great hall, much like the rest of Lingerhold, wasn't overly extravagant. It wasn't as though no effort had been put into the feast-- there were decorations here and there, garland and banners, but nothing was overdone, and something about that left him feeling more at ease. Before dinner, he had redressed in his clean attire, sans armor, and had done little more than briefly hope it was appropriate for the occasion. He wore lighter attire than most, as the spring weather that many deemed chilly was a comfortable temperature for him. As such, he wore a short-sleeved, stone-coloured tunic, as well as darker trousers that were tucked into tall, plain boots of brown leather. He had forgone his usual head covering, instead opting to wear the earthen cloth around his neck and shoulders, much like a scarf. He had also made a frail effort to tame down his thick, dark hair, but had given up rather quickly.

    Before finding a seat at one of the many, food-laden tables, Lauchlan advanced to Akard's table to offer a bow and a brief greeting. He liked Akard, even if he did try to occasionally coerce his Wardens into social interaction.

    Making his way to the far side of one of the expansive tables, Lauchlan claimed a seat and went about selecting a bit of food and drink, his mind straying to the possible announcement that would merit this sort of event.
    #2 DinoFeather, Sep 29, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2016
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  3. Tóra leaned her head against the cool stonework of the keep as she fought to catch her breath while the last strings of what until recently had been the contents of her stomach fell away from her lips. From around the corner she could hear a handful of her fellow wardens making their way across the courtyard towards the great hall. Laughter and good natured conversation poured of the group and Tóra could tell that they shared none of her dread, but then again why would they she thought glumly.

    Even without a bottle of rotgut in the mix the very idea of spending a couple of hours in a confined space with hundreds of people was enough to make her stomach turn. The moment she had returned to Lingerhold she had been in her superior’s office asking to be put on a duty, any duty that would have prevented her from being able to attend the feast without any luck. It had been made abundantly clear to her that the King had summoned ALL the wardens, that this did in fact include Tóra, that she would be in attendance even if the other wardens had the carry her and that was the end of the matter. Tóra had spent most of her time since the meeting either trying to calm her nerves through hunting or obliterating them with the bottle.

    Opening her eyes she looked round trying to spot where she had dropped the latest bottle, finding that it had rolled into the gutter. After wiping the last few strands of bile away from her mouth and with a few false starts Tóra manged to propel herself upright before stumbling over to the bottle and scooping it up and critically examining the contents. Most of the nose curling liquid had drained away but there was still enough for a large swig to chase away the taste of vomit from her mouth before she started walk somewhat erratically towards the hall.

    When Tóra was within a few paces of the hall’s doorway she paused and tried to gather her composure. Without thinking she started tugging at the back of her top, making sure the coarse grey fabric was securely fixed beneath the tightly clasped belt before she remembered that her floor length dress was unlikely to ride up and expose her back. The dress was another point of irritation but her superior had also been most insistent that her usual attire of grime caked chainmail and mud stained trousers would not be de riguer at an event such as this. Once she felt that she had built up as much false bravado as she could muster she stepped through door and let the wave of sound and smells roll over her. Inside the hall she made her way haphazardly through the crows towards the royal table pay her respect. The bow was much shallower than it should have been, barely more than a slight incline of her torso but Tóra felt she was likely to end up flat on her face if she went any further.

    With the formalities over Tóra made her way to the edge of the room, snatching a bottle of something suitably strong looking from one of the tables as she passed and began making her way round the room looking for a shadow to skulk in and be left alone. In a room filled with a few hundred mostly convivial people this was easier said than done, standing alone seemed to serve as some sort of invitation for conversation. Every time she settled somewhere people she sort of knew would approach and either began talking to her or drag her to meet other members of the wardens that she’d never met before. Tóra tried to be sociable for the sake of having to work with the people but she never really knew what to say and the haze around her mind made it difficult to follow the conversation anyway.

    It was as she was trying to extract herself from one of these awkward conversation that she saw a possible solution to her problem. Over the shoulder of the latest individual she could see a man sitting by himself at the end of a table looking like he was enjoying himself almost as much as she was. Tóra hoped that he only had limited interest in making conversation and would prefer to sit in silence. Making her excuses she ducked away from the small group and with only a couple of wobbles strolled over to the man, plonking herself on the bench opposite and proffering the bottle.

    “This one taken?”
    #3 Applo, Sep 29, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2016
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  4. Day 5.

    He wasn't sure what purpose of the summons is, but it was apparent that this must have been just about everyone. Many warriors and mages were gather and mostly ate, drank, and talked. A couple of people were doing all or none, and he was just sort of standing by a door. He loved to socialize but he didn't really know anyone and that put him in a cautious state. It was only a matter of time before the king rounded up the snooty and the rowdy to find a seat. Kwir was trying to at least find anyone he met before, but with almost every one being at least 5 inches taller it made finding people a little more difficult than it had to be. Not a single person he knew was in sight. Not including the king, of course. Which, he had already greeted him when he first arrived before sticking to the walls like a piece of cake that had been flung against it.

    Nevertheless, the food and drink looked tasty and he decided to have some. Looking for a good spot, he spotted a table that looked somewhat empty, with the exception of a couple of people sitting there. They looked rather rough and tumble and didn't seem to care much for social interaction. Perhaps he could use that to his advantage and hopefully not be put too much on the spot by sitting with them. Kwirk always preferred the non noble company as those same people were the ones who not only held up society but always had a unique perspective that escaped the confined halls of the noble district of Ibrance.

    Making his way over, Kwirk brushed his dwarven noble robes off and sat opposite of the pair. "Good evening." He said with a sincere smile. "Hope all is well." He yanked himself up into the chair, letting the blue and silver lined robes to flutter a bit from the waft of air. The warhorn clunked against the table, as he put it there. His family's crest in full view as he grabbed a plate and started filling it with the food of the Wardens. After a couple of face stuffings, he swallowed and blinked at the two.

    "Have you been with the wardens very long?"
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  5. After much consideration, Noctua decided that the part of human culture she hated the most were the beds.
    Humans loved them to be sure, and she'd heard many complaints about their absence during her first mission on the road. She herself could not comprehend the appeal of sleeping on an object that seemed to swallow any body part it came in contact with. They had asked her to sleep on one often since her debut as a warden, but they hadn't grown any more comfortable over the month. She would probably have been better off sleeping on a hibernating grizzly, given how hard it was to find a viable position. Her wings slipped and got tangled, and a nagging sensation of sinking was omnipresent. In the end, she often finished her nights sleeping on the floor. Most of the time, people were polite enough to ignore that peculiarity and leave her alone.

    But not that morning, unfortunately. Noctua was woken up by the unpleasant sound of a voice that couldn't be described as anything else than a loud, irritating squeak. Reluctantly, her eyes opened to see a tuft of messy red locks. It was attached to a lean man whose outfit was somehow even more obnoxious than his high-pitched chatter. He had been talking to a warden from a neighboring bed who seemed both bored and annoyed by the situation, and from the way the red tuft was gesticulating in Noctua's direction, it seemed that he was talking about her.

    «Oh, perfect,» she grumbled in her mother tongue as she sat up. Maybe 'obnoxious morning people' could compete with beds on the list of things she hated about humanity. When he realized she was awake, he got up to his feet, and started to scold her in the slow voice humans used to speak to babies and animals: "Hello, Miss Bird. You cannot sleep on the floor, see, you're supposed to sleep on the bed. The floor is very dirty. You understand? Dir — ty."

    Noctua squinted at Red Tuft. "Did you just call me 'Miss Bird?'" she asked in dead-pan disbelief.

    The warden from the other bed let out a snicker, and an apologetic: "Forgive him. He's never seen an inguz before."

    At that, Red Tuft's cheeks turned more scarlet than his hair, and he started mumbling a long tirade to justify himself, which the other man took as his chance to escape. Noctua ignored his voluble mess and was about to leave too, when he uttered something along the lines of 'protecting the rules of bed-time etiquette'. The phrase reminded her of her superior's answer when she'd asked what would be expected of them during the evening's feast — a vague 'stick by the basic etiquette, and you'll be fine' — which hadn't been of much tangible help due to the limited knowledge Noctua had of said etiquette. But if this loud human seemed so eager to educate her savage person, maybe he could do so regarding something she actually cared about.

    "Hey," she said to snap him out of his soliloquy. "Hey. You. You're an expert on that etiquette stuff?"

    He pondered on the question a second, before starting what would probably become another endless monologue: "Well, I would not say expert, but I do have sufficient knowledge related to general good conduct in settings of —"

    "Perfect," she cut him intransigently. "You know the dinner, tonight?"

    "The banquet?" he asked, and Noctua had to bite her lip not to mimic the stupid way he had of saying 'ban-kay'. Red-Tuft really proved to be the whole package.

    "Yes. That," she said instead. "When I get in there. What do I do?"

    Even from the mouth of a person he most likely associated to a barbaric imbecile, the question surprised him. "You... well, you salute His Majesty, of course. In a respectful bow," he explained as he showed the gesture to her. With the way he arched his leg forward and did all sorts of wiggling with his hand as he bent down as far as he could, his salute looked overly intricate, flowery, and frankly somewhat ridiculous. Noctua had to hope the man was just being over the top, as he seemed to be with everything else, because there was no way she could reproduce that without making a fool of herself. "His majesty King Akard, third of his name, will be alongside our Lord Commander," he continued pompously, "the Royal family, other eminent members of the aristocracy such as —"

    "Ok, ok," she cut him once more, not really caring which fancy-pants people would be present. "How do I know who these guys are?"

    She had seen the Wardens' Commander once, when she had arrived at Lingerhold a week ago, but it had been from afar and she wasn't confident in her ability to recognize him. And as for the king... Well, there were paintings here and there, but she didn't want to risk embarrassing herself.

    "Why, you could hardly mistake the king for some mere common folk! And, they'll be at the main table!" Red Tuft said in a tone that seemed to indicate that was supposed to be painfully obvious. "The one that commands all the others, of course! It's the royal table!"

    "Alright. So... I bow to them? Why?" It wasn't a custom she had seen many people do since she'd arrived in this country, and no one had told her about it before.

    "What do you mean, why? It's the royal family!"

    She gave an unimpressed nod at that, as though to say: 'Sure. And?'

    "You have to pay your respects!" he scoffed. He was redder than ever and seemed almost physically offended. The word choice, however, confused the young inguz even more.

    "Wait, why — did someone die?"

    Red Tuft was left wordless at that — a rather impressive feat, Noctua noted. Instead he only agitated his arms and brows in complete disbelief and made his way to the door.

    "Hey, this isn't a funeral, right?" Noctua called after him, which earned her an unceremonious slam of the door. She wasn't sure that was in the etiquette.

    The slam had woken up other wardens, though, and Noctua took it as her cue to leave. That conversation had been more than enough socialization this early in the morning. She went to get washed, and spent the rest of the day slightly nervous as she tried to gather more information on how she was supposed to behave at the banquet. She usually didn't mind being inappropriate — the simple fact that she had large wings and a thick accent was enough to make her stand out in a crowd as it was, with or without cultural faux pas, so she had learnt to stop caring. But people said the feast was going to gather the entire force of the wardens, and if she could avoid embarrassing herself in front of such a large crowd of potential future teammates, that'd be great.

    At least it didn't seem to be a funeral, so there was that. As for the bow, she'd tried asking a young warden to show her how it was done, but somehow, the request had frightened the girl, and she'd ran off, leaving Noctua as confused as before. It might've had to do with the misunderstanding that could rise from a bone-adorned inguz requesting "Bow." in an emotionless voice, but the failed attempt made her reluctant to ask again, and by the time evening came, she was still clueless regarding the kind of salute she was supposed to give. She practiced the one Red Tuft had shown, and it truly looked stupid. But did it look stupid just because it was foreign to her? Could humans really have such weird rites?

    Her mind was filled with these interrogations when she entered the hall, but what she then saw forced her to stop walking. For someone who was already impressed by any house made of stone, this dining hall filled her both with awe, and vertigo. She couldn't believe humans had built this. Or maybe only very tall humans, like the Lead Recruiter. How else could they have reached this high? And by the Mother Moon's talon; how many people were in this room? She didn't remember ever seeing so many packed in one place, even at the storm eclipse — and there had been hundreds of inguz then. She could already imagine how shameful it would be to do that stupid bow in front of so many renowned warriors.

    Thankfully for her, the moment she turned towards the main table, another warden was bowing to the king... In a perfectly normal fashion. Since he was not seized for treason, Noctua could only guess Red Tuft had, indeed, exaggerated. Damn that idiot, she thought grimly as she advanced to herself 'pay her respect'. The king was easily recognizable by the crown he wore, and how every person at the table seemed to be looking at him, but while he was comely enough, Noctua couldn't say he looked much the part to her. Inguz tribes chose the strongest among them to be their leader, but it seemed that this logic did not apply in Morcrest — for she really couldn't see how this human could have defeated the giant that had recruited her, or some of the other muscle balls she had seen in the halls.

    She refrained from saying a word though, for very obvious reasons, and instead went to look for a place where she would be left alone. She realized that this had very little chance of happening, considering that the purpose of a banquet as she had gathered was not only to eat, but also to socialize — but as she sat at a fairly deserted table, she told herself that a girl could dream.

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  6. Sweeping through the banquet hall with an air of easy content, Sadira Bάhir was doing his best to greet every single person in attendance-- which was proving to be quite a task.

    While he knew that the Wardens must be a large force, he somehow hadn't imagined there would be quite so many of them. The hall was teeming with people, and more kept arriving. It, of course, made sense there would be such a substantial number and part of him felt silly for making assumptions, but that was neither here nor there at the moment. Regardless of the headcount, Sadira was in his element. Having grown up as the son of a Marquess, he was quite used to entertaining large parties and events, and he liked the energy of so many people in one place. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet new people, which could only be beneficial as these were now his comrades.

    A slender white griffin lazily followed the man through the hall as he made his rounds, seeming wholly unimpressed with the gathering of people. She did, however, spare a moment every now and then to turn a predatory gaze on the spread of food laid out over the decorated tables, causing a few of the Wardens to pull their plates a bit closer to them.

    Since the duo's arrival one week prior, Sadira had been high-spirited and perhaps even a bit over-excited about the banquet. True, he had been a member of the Wardens for over three months, but he been providing little more than monetary support-- until now. When he had received the summons he and Lotus had been near the southern border of Morcrest where he had taken temporary work as a scrivener while the pair explored the area around the town. It had proven an exceptional spot for stargazing and he'd done a bit of recording of local myths and legends. They were already on their way up to Portsmouth when the summons had intercepted them and sent them off to Lingerhold. Now, he was finally going to meet the Wardens properly and have more than just financial involvement. Anyone of wealth could throw some gold at a cause, but this was a cause he believed in and he wanted to be involved and doing whatever he could to help.

    Some, however, didn't seem keen on handling the large volume of people that were going to be in attendance. On his second day at Lingerhold, Sadira had taken note of the nervous state of some of those beginning preparation for the banquet. Further inquiry had led him to offer assistance, and he suddenly found himself helping plan and prepare. Not that he was unhappy about the situation, and it gave him a great opportunity to explore the halls of Lingerhold without feeling too intrusive. Before delving too deeply into preparations, he had taken time to speak with the serving men and women, asking what needed done to ready the hall for company. Better than anyone, they knew what needed cleaned, how much flatware and cutlery was needed, what was needed to maintain the braziers, and how and when to begin preparing the vast amounts of food that would be necessary to feed the eight hundred something people who would be soon in attendance.

    Midweek, Sadira and Lotus braved the rain to the nearby town to purchase the best wines, spirits, and ales offered by the small handful of taverns and pubs, having it delivered to the fort with insistence that good drinks could make or break the atmosphere of a such an event.

    Kept delightedly busy with helping prepare the banquet, Sadira saw the week pass quickly. He was thoroughly enjoying his stay at Lingerhold and had even met a few of the other Wardens who'd arrived early. One in particular, a giant man the size of a small mountain, seemed equally delighted to make new acquaintances. Sadira was pleased to be sharing a room with the man, as he would spend a bit of the evenings regaling him with tales of his exploits with the Wardens. Even Lotus had taken a bit of a liking to him, and would sit patiently through his enthusiastic stories.

    The day of the banquet arrived before he even knew it, and the fort was bustling with Wardens and servants alike, everyone making the final preparations before the banquet began.

    About an hour before sundown, Sadira had gone back to the small, semi-private quarters to dress in more formal attire. He hadn't brought anything overly extravagant, and he was glad of it-- largely in fear of overdressing. He wore a pristine white linen shirt with flowing sleeves, as well as fitted white linen pants. As was common in formal Sotese fashion, he had tied a silk sash about his hips, the fabric a deeply-dyed blue. He took a moment to rim his eyes with kohl before donning a simple golden band around his neck. Lotus, seeming to know what was coming, had resigned to laying on the bed and looking rather morose.

    "Oh, don't give me that look, miss," Sadira murmured as he fished a small vial of incense oil out of his pack.

    Lotus clicked her beak as if in retort, but lay still as a small amount of the spice-scented oil was rubbed into her feathers.

    "Don't you want to be presentable when we meet everyone?"

    The griffin's tail twitched.

    "Stop sulking, we'll be late," he said with a smile, motioning the animal off of the bed.

    Upon arrival, the hall was buzzing with talk and laughter, and Sadira wasted no time in diving into introductions as he waded through the growing sea of Wardens.
    #6 DinoFeather, Oct 3, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2016
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  7. Hlynn.
    Interactions: @BruisedLavender - Noctua

    “Hmph.” Hlynn looked down at the clothes she had laid out on her cot with a look of disappointment. She didn’t really know what she expected; she thought that, at some point, she had picked up a dress or at least a nice set of clothes somewhere. Did she really only have two outfits? That couldn’t be right. Her gaze shifted between them. One was a rough assemblage of leather and cloth, and it was stained with the blood and dirt of living out in the while - she had done her best to get it cleaned off when she had joined the wardens, but it had seemed as though the stains were somehow merged with the clothing at this point. They had suggested she burn the leather armor and go buy a new set, but she had resisted actually going out and doing that. She was still so uncomfortable being in a city for so long, even after two months - she felt antsy, as if any second someone would break down the door and standing there would be a group of villagers with torches and pitchforks.

    Not that she had ever personally experienced that, but it seemed like something that would happen to her if word that she was a profane magic user got out. The scars running up her arms ached for a moment as she thought about them, about how obvious it was that she was a profane mage. Now wasn’t the time. She’d put off buying a new set of armor, so she was stuck with what she had. Hlynn glanced over at the other outfit. This one was much simpler, but only a little cleaner - no blood stains, at least, and the servant had actually managed to get some of the stains out of this one. It wasn’t much more than a pale shirt and dark pants, not really anything more than a farmhand would have worn.

    ‘It certainly does not suit such an occasion,’ Hlynn thought as she slipped the clothes on, lacing her boots up tightly. At least these had been shined clean, allowing the scuffs and marks to be on full display instead of hidden beneath layers of dirt and grime. She sighed and looked back to her gear, to see what else she should bring. The ring, of course, was already on her finger. It provided a little color and shine to her outfit, even if that color was iron. Really she wasn’t sure if the thought that iron actually warded off spirits was true, but she hadn’t taken it off in over a year, and she had yet to find herself haunted by any spirit in particular. The knife was small, and slipped into her boot easily. Concealed weapons were likely not a well-received secret, but no one needed to know about it. It made her feel better.

    Everything else… the whetstone, the lantern, the leather, would remain here. Hlynn had no need for them in a crowded, well-lit hall. But her cloak… she wasn’t sure if she should bring that. She unfolded it wide and held it up to the light, examining it. It was stained, certainly, but the dark and heavy cloth all but swallowed up the new color variations. Was it appropriate for her to wear? It did flow, sort of like a dress, right? She twirled it around herself, and fastened it as its edge fell to rest just beneath her knees. It would have to do. She took a moment to think about her hair. It was long, ratty, and untameable, even after having bathed several times, and she had thought about chopping the whole affair from her head once or twice. She regretted not doing that now, as it certainly didn’t help sell the appearance of a King’s Warden, rather than a girl who had spent the several years living mostly in nature. Really, she didn’t look much different than she had a few months ago when she had first arrived. A little cleaner with regular bathing, maybe. But not much had changed. She idly fingered the ring, spinning it on her finger. Then, with a nod to no one in particular, turned on her heel and marched stiffly out of the room.

    She strode across the courtyard, following the stream of people still entering the hall. She looked up at the sky. Despite the recent rains, it appeared as though some god had decided to bless this day to not have any precipitation. This announcement seemed like it was going to be big. Someone hit Hlynn’s shoulder, and she jumped back a few steps, arms raised. Another warden, looking at her sudden battle stance curiously, snorted and then shook his head, before continuing into the hall. Her heart had already started to race, and she slowly dropped her hands, embarrassed. She still had so much trouble seeing people as not being threats. She glanced around. No one else had seen her display, or at least they paid it no attention. Trying to keep the blood from rising to her cheeks, she set herself and raced into the hall, trying not to make eye contact with anyone.

    She raised her head when she entered the hall, and internally gasped. It was big. And there were so many people! She had never seen so many gathered in one place before, and there was food and banners… she was a bit overwhelmed, but noticed the head table, where the King was seated - as people entered, they would go up to him and bow, or curtsy. Right. She had remembered that was the polite thing to do in this setting. Hlynn owed him much more than the feast, after all. The woman kept her head down and walked towards the table, trying her hardest not to bump into anyone, which was nearly impossible with the crowd and clusters of people, all socializing with each other. Once she had made her way to the king’s table, she froze for a moment. She didn’t have a dress. She couldn’t curtsey, unless she used her cloak or something. But that would look ridiculous. After a moment of awkward thought, she gave him a low, clumsy bow, followed by a simple greeting and recognition of what he had given her, before quickly walking away.

    Fortunately all she had to do now was eat - and she knew how to do that. While the tables of food were crowded, she searched in vain for an empty table. This was impossible, to be sure, as there were so many people in the hall, Hlynn was not even sure that the tables could seat all of them. Still, there were a few tables that had fewer people, and one of those is what she aimed for. The one she was headed for already had a few scarce occupants - one of which was a woman with pale skin and nearly white hair - and wings? Hlynn hesitated. She had seen one or two Inguz in her travels, but had never interacted with them. Still, if she was sitting alone, she probably didn’t want to be bothered either. Maybe the winged girl would scare off other Wardens. Hlynn made her way through the crowd and sat down a few spots away from the Inguz, unsure if she should introduce herself as she grabbed at bread and wine on the table. After a few furtive glances, Hlynn simply said, “Uh… hello,” with a nod, before taking a large bite of food.
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  8. Two women came bolting into the Banquet, the shorter red-hair leading a snow-haired woman by a large margin. The red-head saluted to the guards at the door before turning back and peering intensely at the disorder in the banquet, childlike wonder on her face. The guards were a little surprised; her short red hair was truly as red as a ripe apple or lively rose. She wore a peculiar outfit: a sleeveless, loose-flowing, moss-green dress held up by an outer leather corset. Her arms had form-fitting, separate sleeves of a similar color to the dress with leather bangles at her wrists.

    Oh wow!” the red-head chimed, her excitement audible in her high-pitched, sing-song voice. “Look, Wicker! ⧼We made it just in time!

    The white-haired woman called Wicker finally reached the red-head and fell forward, catching herself by grabbing her knees to keep herself standing. Wicker was far slimmer than her companion, and coupled with her long ears peeking out of her white hair, it was obvious she was an elf. Unlike the red-head, Wicker did not change from her usual attire for this event and believed that her exotic, multicultural outfit would be enough. She did, however, leave the metal armor pieces behind. Wicker pulled herself up and spoke in a harsh, husky tone between pants, “⧼Just… made it… my a–⧽”

    You’re funny⧽, it wasn’t that far,” the red-head teased before dodging Wicker’s slow swing with a giggle. “Human cities are big, but there are no obstacles. Just a straight run–!” She dodged another slow grapple. “You aren’t going to recover doing that!” she advised lightheartedly, but her body language was goading Wicker to try again. After a few moments of the red-head dancing around Wicker as they recovered their breath, the two looked at the myriad of Wardens converging in the hall. While excitement and joy grew on the red-head’s face, disgust and distress grew on Wickers.

    “⧼W-wait, Hëà⧽, wait. ⧼When we–⧽” Wicker trailed off when she noticed Hëà flamboyantly ignoring her. Clicking her tongue, Wicker tried again in the humans’ Common Tongue (with a bit more difficulty), Hiya, what do I do when I see Akard.”

    Though it was less of a question and more of a monotonous command, Hëà—or Hiya in Common—smiled in satisfaction. “Not bad.⧽ Could use a bit more work,” Hiya critiqued in her effortless bilingualism. Wicker glared in response, encouraging Hiya to quickly answer:

    First, you bow,” Hiya started, bowing to demonstrate, “then you pay your respects to the host of the banquet—that is, King Akard. Since we are free from the prison because of him, we should add a little more flair and deference to our introductions, understand?

    “Bane…-kwet? Fl-flehr and...”

    …Acceptable.⧽ Good enough for now,” Hiya continued. “You’ll get it when put up to the task, so let’s go with that!” With newfound intent, Hiya grabbed Wicker and started dragging her through the crowd of men and women to the King’s table. Wicker struggled to keep up, but Hiya effortlessly weaved through the bodies, even having time to exchange short greetings and sometimes jumping in on conversations to share a quick one-line joke before dragging Wicker to the next group. When Wicker felt like she finally could keep up with Hiya, something just had to happen.

    Master Sadira!” Hiya waved with an outstretched arm before bringing Wicker close and explaining, “I’m going to go speak to Sadira right now, you go on ahead and meet with the king. Don’t worry and remember, just approach him, bow, give thanks, and leave. It’s that simple!” Wicker’s expression must’ve been horrific, because Hiya quickly added on, “You’ll do fine! ⧼Wèkhïr, I trust you.” Hiya pulled away and quickly disappeared into the crowd, her voice echoing in an unknown language to Wicker:

    “Master Sadira, ⟓I am glad to have found you here!⟔”

    Wicker was still for a moment, biting her bottom lip when the back of a massive Warden goliath shoved her forward. “Forgive me, lass,” he apologized with a nod of his head before reentering and disappearing into the crowd. Wicker was left wondering how they made humans in that size. Luckily, that was enough to help Wicker shake off her apprehension and she started moving through the crowd. Slowly. She wondered how Hiya managed to make it look so easy.

    Upon nearing her target, she suddenly found a row of people slowly moving along the table. She weaved through the line of people, ignoring their strange complaints about her cutting people even though she left weapons at home (and they kept using the phrases “wait your turn” and “get in kyoo” whatever those meant). Finally reaching the human king (much to the displeasure of those around her—the humans were, as predict, racist), Wicker thrust out her hand directly in front of her with a bit of pride, confident that this was the way humans greeted each other. Except Hiya, who was rather picky about human customs, didn’t say to do this for the human king. Realizing her mistake, Wicker immediately pulled back her hand and bent forward at her waist. It was a terrible bow, but in Wicker’s mind it was a perfect replication of Hiya’s demonstration earlier. Wicker tried to remember what else Hiya told her to do. Wicker recalled that Hiya also said something about “flehr” and differences. Or was it defenses?

    Clearing her throat, Wicker straightened up and declared confidently, “I give you thanks and I will protect you, Akard, king of man.” Wicker huffed proudly from her nose and thrust out her hand again, before she immediately pulled it back, spun on her heel, and left. ‘Well, I think that went perfectly,’ Wicker boasted to herself in her mind, ‘besides the wrong custom at the start… and end.’ Wicker couldn’t discern what Hiya meant by “flehr,” but she was right about the defenses; the words flowed naturally from Wicker’s lips and sounded right. A small smile touched her lips.

    “⧼These human things aren’t so hard. Maybe I’ll be better than Hëà soon.⧽” Wicker mused to herself.

    But now there was the problem of being alone at a human feast. She noticed this earlier, but now that she was alone and nothing was distracting her, the repulsively rich smells of the room really hit her. Then came the heat from having so many bodies in a confined area. Wicker wondered what Hiya saw in these human events as she looked for an escape from the groups, or at the very least a spot with fresh air. Unfortunately, Wicker did not find such a haven, and instead only two tables that came even remotely close to her needs:

    One table had two women at it, both looked quiet. It would’ve been perfect had Wicker not noticed the wings peeking out from the bottom of the cloak. A beast was sitting at that table, and Wicker did not want any affiliation with it. Wicker gave a soft prayer to the other girl and looked towards the second table.

    Three individuals: two humans and a dwarf. Though Wicker had no qualms with them, the manner in which the dwarf ate was off-putting, and he seemed eager to speak with the two humans. Wicker presumed that she wouldn’t be spared his questioning either if she approached them. Wicker debated for a brief moment before she was shoved forward by another Warden, and then shoved back.

    Wicker decided that if she must be sociable with these people, she could at least find someone in a similar situation as her. She’d rather talk to one person standing than be dragged into an ongoing group conversation at a table. Squeezing past other Wardens in the crowd, Wicker decided on her task. It would be much easier if she could see over the crowds, however.

    If only humans weren’t so tall…

    @Mite's Hiya and Wicker
    @DinoFeather's Sadira - “Hey, I’ve got something to say!”
    @Rook's King Akard - “I think that went well.”
    @Mite's Anzo - "Not yet, lad! I'm still preparing!"
    @BruisedLavender's Noctua and @Niiwa's Hlynn - "Not a chance."
    @DinoFeather's Lauchlan, @Applo's Tora, and @Cerulean's Kwirkel - "An afterthought."

    Languages used:
    #8 Mite, Oct 4, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2016
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  9. Ansley and Anzo; An Audacious An-counter
    A Collab between @Mite and @FrostedCaramel
    I swear the title was Mite's brainchild.

    Time seemed to have stopped around the two men locked in battle, the air still and uncomfortably quiet. Sweat was beading on the man's forehead, collecting in the creases of the man's brow and threatening to surge forward at the slightest movement. The two men stared each other down, the light glinting off their armor in odd ways as the activity around them cast strange shadows and threw light in random directions. Ansley watched his foe intently, tightening his grip ever so slightly preparing for the sweating man to make his move. The man seemed to be assessing his options before him, concede defeat and leave humiliated or, give the battle everything he had and lose with his honor intact.

    Ansley was pleasantly surprised when the man, unlike his last five opponents, decided to keep his honor. Clenching the man's hand tighter in his own, Ansley let out a raucous laugh as he lifted a pewter of ale to his lips with his free left hand. As he downed the ale without taking a breath he seemed to effortlessly hold back the man's onslaught, keeping their hands locked almost perfectly perpendicular to the table. If not slightly angled towards the sweating man's side.

    Continuing to finish off his drink, Ansley put his strength against his foe's hand and quickly drove it into the table at the same time that he slammed the now empty pewter against the fine grain of the table. Letting go of his defeated friends hand he stood to a rambunctious crowd of hollering and whooping, all of whom had been watching intently to see if the last contender would be the first to finally dethrone Ansley from his self-proclaimed position of "Emperor of Those who Wrestle Arms, First of His name, Anlsey of the Wardens". It was a bit of a mouth full, and his fellow Wardens that had watched him coin it had shared some concerned mutters about things such as heresy, pride and ego.

    Ansley just cursed in their direction and implored them to enjoy themselves a bit more, "It's a feast after all!" he had yelled.

    Spinning in victorious stationary circles with his arms spread high towards the vaulted ceiling, Ansley continued to laugh as he grabbed a passing wench around the waste. Now spinning her about with him, she dropped her empty tray and began to pound against his back with her fists, steadily yelling about how she had to get back to, "Serving the Warden's m'Lord!" and about how he was, "Far to rowdy m'Lord!". He placed her down on her two feet and grinned from ear to ear as she quickly retrieved her tray and made off with a smile on her face, a bit flushed, but a smile none the less. Yet, her smile was short-lived, disappearing when she collided against someone.

    “Forgive m-”

    Her voice halted when she saw what she had bumped into, and her head slowly tilted back to look up at the giant in front of her. If his size hadn’t already given away his identity, the single-horned helmet did. Perhaps she didn’t realize who he at first because this was one of the few times he wasn’t wearing his full attire of plate armor, and instead was wearing a (oversized) blue cloth outfit akin to a military officer’s attire. But even in formal outfits, his unicorn helmet stayed on his head.

    Anzo: the Lead Recruiter of the King’s Wardens, and King Akard’s close friend. He was known to many Wardens as the very man who brought them into the organization. He was also well-known by the lords of central Elliria, and even held some infamy in Vardendale and Artana thanks to his work against them during his time as a mercenary. It is also rumored that his strength from a decade earlier could lift a man in full plate with one arm. An extraordinary rumor, but Anzo leaves an impression that almost makes it believable. To a poor tavern wench, his presence was overwhelming.

    Before she could fully recover and beg his forgiveness, Anzo placed his hands on her shoulders and gently moved her aside.

    “Careful, lass. You nearly frightened me.”

    A deep, rich voice emanated from within the helmet; his gentle tone lowered his voice to a low rolling thunder. Not a moment later did he let loose his full ardor.

    “I've heard that a Warden was being called ‘the strongest’ thanks to his unending victories, but to think it was just you stirring up trouble again, lad!”

    His full volume was a booming roar, easily heard even across the crowd’s chatter. His laugh afterwards was, amazingly enough, even louder. He approached the table and pulled the challenger’s chair back, slowly calming his laugh as he did.

    Ansley smiled wide and looked up at the massive man, with a laugh at his comment he nonchalantly replied "Well you see Ser, all of this--" he moved his right arm in a sweeping motion at the gathered crowd, "--was to get you out here!" he said as he took his seat at the table, the lie was evident in his words yet it was obvious that Ansley meant nothing more than to joke with the big Warden. The unicorn helmet turned to Ansley and a joyous sigh escaped from Anzo.

    “Good, good! It’s an excellent time to be merry; the food is good, as is the wine. But holding a contest of strength without inviting Anzo?!he questioned, tilting his head until a loud crack reverberated out. He chuckled as he tilted his head the other way for another crack, then slowly lowered himself onto the chair. He raised up his right arm, and slowly moved it in a grandiose, circular gesture before planting his elbow firmly on the center of the table.

    Bringing his arm up and on to the table, Ansley grinned wide at Anzo in front of him as he clapped his hand firmly with the massive Warden's. Not a moment later did Anzo's hand clench Ansley's, squeezing slightly to ensure a proper grip. Taking a moment to swallow his pride and accept his defeat prior to it actually happening, Ansley reconciled with the fact that he had probably pushed his luck a bit too far with the "tournament" and realized he should have expected Anzo to arrive in one way or another to dethrone him. "Seems I have quite a worthy competitor, but no Warden has beat me yet!" he proclaimed raising his free hand to the growing crowd who responded with a joyous uproar of cheering and whistling. Anzo himself laughed heartily before replying, "Well... I may be rusty, but beating the ‘the strongest Warden’ after he defeated everyone else?" Anzo chuckled mischeviously. His arm flexed to test his outfit's durability, and an amused snort escaped Anzo's helmet.

    “Now that would make a good story, wouldn't it?”

    "Now Anzo, my friend, I believe that having a hand that nearly encircles mine is a bit of an unfair advantage..." he said with a small shrug as he eyed the man's massive hand enveloping his own, "...But I will let it slide, this time. Next time you will be disqualified for sure with such trickster tactics as that!" The two men let out an uproarious laugh before Ansley signaled a spectator to start the match.

    The spectator walked up to the table and took out a coin. He neatly laid it on his thumb before flicking it into the air.

    "No hard feelings," Anzo teased in this calm before the storm.

    The two Warden strongmen watched the coin as it tumbled through the air and struck the table with a solid thud.
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  10. The dress was a rippling cascade of green silk. A stiffened bodice that lifted up into a collar that dipped into a low, straight neckline. It had been years since Lareira had worn such an outfit, it had almost caused an uproar in her house as she had gotten to the front doors in a pressed shirt and black trousers only to be doggedly herded back to her room by her brother and sister and forced into the dress she now wore. Her hair had been wrestled from its braid and done up in an elaborated twirled bun, pinned into place with a gold hummingbird hair fork. The last straw had been when she went outside and found that her griffin Tarrir had been fitted with a sidesaddle, but with the sun well and truly set, and her will worn from the struggle of getting dressed she had unhappily mounted up and taken flight.

    The courtyard was crowded with people, mounts, and stable-hands running back and forth trying to clear the crowd as quickly as it formed. Dismounting proved trickier than she remembered it being and she nearly tore the dress on the way down.

    "I had heard some awful rumors tha' you had been a lady butterfly. Nearly tore out such a traitorous tongue, but I am deceived by truth!" Came a voice behind her. In turning Lareira was greeted by the tall figure of a Inguz. Dark hair, cropped off the sides of his head and the slight shading of spots around his head marked him as a hyena inguz. A smile broke the frown that had persisted on her face and she lept forward to greet the man.

    "Morcoth! You made it! I was worried you would worm your way out of this meeting as well." She said reaching out to clasp forearms with her comrade. Accepting the gesture Morcoth bent forward and gently pressed his forward against Lareira's in an affectionate gesture.

    "No such luck, all have been called back for this." He said with a shrug, tugging uncomfortably at the starched cloth that wrapped diagonally around his broad chest. "Come, I 'ave 'ad words from the others, we are expected."​

    The doors leading to the great hall were hung open, a now constant stream of people long making it impractical to keep opening them to newcomers, closing as they entered, only to be in the face of the next group arriving. Lareira and Morcoth entered shoulder to shoulder, squeezing by several groups who had stopped to chat in the door frame. After months living in the backwoods of the north it was almost overwhelming to face such a press of people. More than that, the memories of the many parties that she had attended before her imprisonment bubbled forth and a sadness gripped her. She remembered enjoying these parties, a flitting socialite, keen on gossip, eager conversationalist, and an easy party goer. But, in the here and now there was a fear that poisoned her heart. Perhaps a bit of that sadness and hesitation played on her face because Morcoth gently placed a single massive hand on her shoulder and gave it an encouraging squeeze. It was an appreciated gesture and Lareira half smiled and took that first daring step into the fray.

    Even in this crowded setting Lareira moved with ease, slipping in between the press of bodies she hunted the crowd, familiar faces haunting the outskirts, but none drawing close enough to be certain. In opposition to her weaving Morcoth choose to plow forward through the crowd, drawing looks of annoyance and confusion in his wake, making his way towards a side table where clusters of people were gathering along the length of the table. As Morcoth detached himself from the crowd a small cheer went up, only managing to be a single octave above the steady roar of the feast, as one of the groups spotted their hairy friend.

    "Morcoth you pointy nosed bastard! Where have you been hiding?" A steel bearded dwarf called, lifting his tankard in greeting. The pair clasped forearms and Morcoth gave an imitation snarl of displeasure.

    "Keeping clear of you Tanrain, can hardly breath from your stench Tar-beard!" Morcoth mocked, the rest of the table hooting and chattering joyously, the mood of the room infecting their spirits, and the wine invigorating their minds. Lareira extracted herself from the crowd far more subtly, but her presence did not go unnoticed for long.

    "Lareira!" Was called in chorus around the table and she drew close with a sheepish smile. There was a great up welling of chatter as she was looked up and down, the dress not going unnoticed. Last winter she had found herself placed with this rough-and-tumble group, and until just a few months ago she had still been running with them. Reassignment her superiors said, they needed an extra bow for missions in the north. Strange how it happened only a week or so after she had cursed and spat at an elf who had taken a dislike to her tone.

    A few new faces had joined the group, and they were introduced in turn, but there was an awkward silence that surrounded one particular recruit as Lareira's eyes found him. It was an elf, a younger one by the looks of it, tawny haired and thin. Drinking with dwarves had taken its toll on him already and there was a ruddy red coloring his cheeks and ears. Mind muddied with alcohol he failed to notice the burning fire that was being directed at him from Lareira's ever darkening face. Tanrain the dwarf was sitting closest and swiftly pulled a glass towards him with one hand and tall thin bottle with the other. Pouring a drink he shoved the glass into her hand without so much as a word and pushed the glass towards her mouth, shaking her from the snarl that was lifting out off her throat. A large gulp of the potent cocktail offered her drowned her fire in a blaze that raced to her stomach. A distracted gaze, and a face pulled in shock was enough to ease the tension.

    "Thre' munths an not a word. We was worried ya'ad gotten lost." A broad chested man said through a thick northern brogue. Quick to keep her distracted from trying to engage with the elf sitting across the table, at least until the drink had a chance to soften her resolve.

    "Glad to see you weren't worried I had finally given up the ghost Cassoc." Lareira said, a smirk clearly forming on her lips. Another heavy drink chased her words, but she didn't pull a face, instead savoring more of the taste and the burn.

    "HA!" Cassoc bellowed as several others chuckled appreciative laugh. "Yer fah' to stubborn ta die Lareira! Death well hav' ta take you kicken an screamin."

    A snort into her drink was the only reply given. An hour was spent talking, drinking, and challenging one another to feats of strength, wits, and speed. A deep mud had risen into Lareira's head, dulling instincts and making her almost giddy.

    " 'ave ya greeted the king yet?" Cassoc said, head tilted to indicate the line that had formed for that purpose.

    "Shit. Forgot." Lareira said with a sigh, drowning the last of her drink and pushing herself to her feet. Nearly catching her foot on the helm of her dress she gathered the extra fabric in her hand and, taking a moment to steady herself, made her way to the back of the line. With enough booze in her stomach to stagger a grown Inguz, she swayed a little bit as she waited her turn, but her history of drinking with dwarves and muscle bound fighters at least gave her enough of an edge to keep cognizant. Standing now, she had a chance to examine many of the other Wardens. She imagined how her brother might gasp and grow flustered over what some where wearing to an audience with the King. It brought a smile to her face, and as the line shortened and she was finally standing in front she strode forward with a tipsy grace. With more balance than she should have really been capable of she gathered her dress in either hand and dipped into a low curtsy. Head bent low, dipping straight up and down like she was balancing a cup of water in her hips. Perhaps not her best curtsy, but considering much of the crowd present it was enough to be getting on with.

    On her way back to the table Lareira paused, choosing to instead to swipe an unattended glass of wine and wander through the crowd. The heat and the swirling press of people made her a bit woozy, and the thought of sitting stagnant again did not help. It took a little searching, but eventually a break in the crowd appeared and she slipped though the cracks until she was standing near an emptier table with a few people sitting and fewer standing. She gave space to those who had already claimed this area though it was clear she had detached herself from the crowd. The effects of the booze set an itch to the scars that marred her back and Lareira flexed and stretched to ease the feeling. A nervous habit her free hand found the brand at her temple and traced it around and around again.
    #10 E.T., Oct 11, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2016
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  11. Jericho Swain stood outside the banquet hall. She was dressed in her fancy green tunic, adorned with polished silver armor, and a nice dwarven headpiece that made her face look more intimidating than usual. Of course, it may not have helped that she had it currently scrunched up in contemplation. A man moved towards the hall, dressed well, but not a lick of armor on him.

    “Excuse me, Lord Lady Face, may I have a word?” Jericho called out.
    The man turned, his long black hair swishing across a very effeminate, human face. Bleh. Humans. They did love to wear their chins as smooth as a baby’s ass, didn’t they? “Are you speaking to me?” He asked, even his voice was insulting to her sensibilities.
    “Who else would I be talking to? You’re the only one around here that’d look better in a dress than those trousers you’re currently wearing.”
    Lord Lady Face pulled back, apparently revolted at what Jericho had said. Yet, before he could open his mouth, Jericho leapt up and looped her arm around his neck, dragging him down to her level.
    “That’s not how backs work,” Lady Face said, wincing in pain.
    “Shh, I’m talking now. Not you.” Jericho’s arm tightened around his neck. “Just answer my question, because it is a very important question and it’s about a very sensitive matter. You understand?”
    Lady Face nodded.
    “Does my outfit make me look good?”
    “What? Really? You’re a terrifying dwarf.”
    “Oh, really? Tell me something I don’t know. Of course, I’m terrifying. You have to be if your entire life is staring at the underdeveloped asses of all the tall folk.”
    She huffed. “That’s not what I asked, though. Do you think I look good?”
    “You’re not really my type.”
    “Did I ask if I was?” She squeezed harder. “Answer. The. Question.”
    Lady Face let out a pained noise and wheezed hard into the side of Jericho’s face. “Yes, you look nice. That headpiece is especially fetching.”
    “And you’re not just saying that?”

    Lady Face twisted his hand in the air, giving a definite “unsure” motion.
    “Fair enough,” Jericho said, releasing him. Lady Face straightened up and immediately unrumpled his clothing.
    “Are you trying to impress someone?”
    She placed her hands on her hips and laughed. “I’m trying to impress everyone. I’m not going back to my room alone this evening, and there are some hunky wardens in that banquet hall. Not you, obviously, you’re like a fish with lipstick on.”
    Lady Face touched his mouth. “Are we quite through here?”
    “Unless you want to put me on your shoulders and ferry me in like a noble steed, then, yes, we are through.”

    Lady Face let out a long groan before entering the banquet hall ahead of Jericho.

    It had been some time since Jericho had been in the company of other wardens, but that didn’t mean she was the sort to cling to the wall and shirk conversation. Lord Lady Face had disappeared into the crowd. He was probably telling them about the heathen dwarf that accosted him for his opinion. Ah well, she had worse reputations to live down. Fortunately, none of them tied back to the wardens.

    Jericho made her way to the royal table immediately. She swept into deep bow and then stood erect. “Your majesty,” she said, a hint of a smile on her lips. While he wasn’t her king, he was the founder of the wardens and she was in human lands. Also, she’d completed a very important, very secret task form him a few years prior. They’d had conversations behind closed doors. She’d learned quite a bit about the lore of the human royalty. Did that make them friends? Hah. Of course not. But hopefully she imparted upon him that she could be trusted with noble duties. Jericho had never spoken of it as much as she’d wanted to, and she bore a nasty scary down the length of her back for it. Still, it’d been worth it. Not to mention, men did love scars.

    Jericho backed away from the royal table and towards the massive banquet. She took one of the empty dishes from the food laden table and began pilfering as much expensive meats, cheeses, and warm bread as the plate would hold. She then filled her tankard of mead and drank deeply from it, emptying it in a few strong gulps. She then refilled it and went to find a place among the wardens. Ah, liquor, the social lubricant. She was always more alluring when she was a little drunk.

    Her eyes swept the hall. She spotted Anzo and Ansley in a match of strength. As much as she wanted to proclaim her affection to the human mountain, he seemed to be concentrating. No one would win against his might, Jericho knew that, but there were always those who would try. Instead, she looked elsewhere for camaraderie. Sadira and the gorgeous gryphon Lotus were mingling about. Jericho feared she would ruin his air of importance by encroaching upon it. It was then that her gaze landed on a small group forming on one table. Was that a dwarf amongst the humans? Usually the other dwarves kept to themselves, enjoying picking on the ever stray human or elf that came into their circle. Jericho never felt at home with them. She’d spent the majority of her adult life among the other species. While she lamented being eyelevel with the rears of other species, she was far from xenophobic. So, she made her way to the stray dwarf.

    As she approached, she became immediately aware of the drunkenness of one of the members at the table. A stiff wind would have knocked the woman over. Jericho eyed her before sitting down. She looked at the other man, squinting her eyes. “Lock-Lawn?” she questioned. Honestly, she couldn’t remember everyone’s name.

    Her attention then spread to the drunken woman. She slid her plate towards her. “Maybe you should eat something. Because if you start puking, I start puking, and then we’re kicked out for trying to clean the floor with our stomach acid.” She paused, taking a large leg of poultry from the plat and biting into it. “Just the bread though. You touch that meat, and I start slapping hands.”

    It was then she focused in on the dwarf. She caught his crest. Immediately curiosity fell into narrowed eyes and disappointment. “Oh, a lordling dwarf. Well, that’s less interesting than I thought it would be. Tell me, lordling, however did your parents let you go? The usually keep a tight grasp on their male heirs. Did you break free of your saddle?”
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  12. Despite the crowds and excessive noise, dinner was nothing short of delicious. The food wasn't over-seasoned like pub fare, and the drinks were proving to be quite strong. He had no intention of getting drunk, but enough to dull his nerves was the evening's ideal.

    He had just finished a tankard of ale and was pouring himself a goblet of mead, when a sour smell caught his attention. The smell was immediately accompanied by an loud thunk as a young woman dropped herself onto the bench opposite him. She smelled like a still and looked rather like she'd just emptied one single-handedly. She offered him a bottle, which was probably a gesture of goodwill, but Lauchlan raised one hand slightly and shook his head. He wasn't keen to drink after someone that smelled that strongly of spirits and…well, less pleasant things.

    "It wasn't," he replied to her inquiry about the seat. Obviously, it was now. Even if it had been, it didn't seem like a great idea to ask the woman to move.

    She looked somewhat familiar, but Lauchlan couldn't seem to wrest the name from his brain at the moment. Not that he wanted to initiate conversation with her-- she looked nearly ready to be sick or pass out, neither of which he wanted to deal with.

    He was trying to devise a tactful way of extricating himself from the situation (before he lost his appetite completely), when another Warden sat down at the table.

    Turning to glance at the newcomer, Lauchlan stifled the urge to point out the woman's present condition as being somewhat less than "well." Instead, he gave a slight nod of greeting. A moment's inspection told him that the dwarf must be of some noble line, but didn't recognize the crest. Not that he knew of many houses, anyway. The ranger watched in silence for a moment as the dwarf filled a plate and began to eat. Assuming he would now be able to continue with his own meal, Lauchlan resumed filling his goblet.

    "Have you been with the Wardens very long?"

    Turning back to the dwarf, Lauchlan gave a shrug. He was very much hoping that the woman would pick up the conversation, but she didn't seem overly interested in talk. She still looked woozy. Placing his goblet next to his plate, Lauchlan glanced down at the dwarf once more. He looked friendly and eager-- two attributes Lauchlan really wasn't looking for in dinner company at the moment.

    "Two years," he said quietly. Then, in fear of seeming completely rude to a possible monetary backer he added, "and you?" His voice was low and the tone flat, but he didn't sound wholly unfriendly.

    He looked again to the woman across from them, curious as to whether or not she'd join in and allow him the opportunity to finish his dinner. He didn’t like to eat and talk at the same time, but he was hungry.

    Not waiting for a reply from the dwarf, he picked up his fork and knife and started back in on a piece of venison. Almost immediately, another of the Wardens wandered toward the table. She too looked as though she'd been hitting the bottle hard, and Lauchlan found himself wondering just how many in attendance were currently drunk. Surely they could've waited until after Akard made his announcements? Not that he was well-versed in etiquette, but it seemed somewhat disrespectful. Then again, the king had to expect that this would happen with so many people and so much alcohol in once place.


    Drawn from his thoughts by the voice, Lauchlan glanced around. Another dwarf was joining them at the table-- but this one he knew. They'd met a few times, but had never really worked together on assignment. Nevertheless, he remembered who she was. He'd also heard stories. If he recalled correctly, she fancied herself a sort of treasure hunter, though he'd never really delved into the topic with her.

    "Loch-lin," he corrected. He didn't really mind the mispronunciation, but didn't particularly want everyone to start calling him that.

    Seemingly unconcerned, the dwarf turned her attention to the other woman and began offering her food. Lauchlan took the opportunity to slide a small ways down the bench away from the group that had begun to accumulate. He really didn't want to be around if they started vomiting.

    Despite his intention of focusing on his meal, he couldn't help but listen in to Jericho as she began to question the dwarven noble. She sounded disappointed, though he couldn't really understand why and he arched an eyebrow as she seemed to chide the dwarf him for his heritage. He felt like he should say something, but he didn't know exactly what and he didn't want to incite an argument over dinner-- nor did he want to get into a tiff with Jericho Swain. He didn't trust her around cutlery.

    Instead, he began to eye the surrounding tables, looking for what might be a quieter place to eat-- with fewer drunken Wardens. More and more had begun to settle at the table he'd selected, many of them red-faced. It was difficult to see through the crowds, but he could hear snippets of Anzo's booming voice over hum and buzz of conversation. That table would definitely be crowded and raucous. He liked Anzo well enough, but the man was a bit too boisterous for him to really sit comfortably with at such events.

    From what he could tell, many of the tables were beginning to fill up as more people sat down to eat. Perhaps Akard would make the announcement soon, and Lauchlan could excuse himself. It was beginning to get uncomfortably warm in the hall, and he was itching to step outside for a bit of fresh air.
    #12 DinoFeather, Oct 17, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2016
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  13. Joining the Wardens had opened a completely different world to Noctua — one where people of vastly different species, language, and geographical origin were meddled together, and she had to wonder how did the king manage to unite such an heterogeneous mix of individuals. It was fascinating to watch, really, and the diversity of the crowd made her feel less like an outsider — but when she heard all those strange tongues spoken around her, and all these people whose cultures and norms she wasn't even close to grasp, it reminded her of just how big the world was, and how small she remained.

    She was surprisingly peaceful at her table, nibbling at pieces of food. Surrounded by the constant flow of laughs and conversation, it did feel a little bit like the eye of the hurricane. She was content to simply observe, like she had once done with river rats to understand how they managed to cross the streams. These people were somewhat more complex than river rats, but at the end of the day, there wasn't that much difference. It was probably just a question of... culture relativism, or something like that.
    Still, when she saw that a few tables away, Anzo was pressing his arm firmly against that of another strong man in what looked like some strange mating ritual, Noctua couldn't help but murmur: 《Humans are weird.》 Not for the first time today, and probably not for the last, either.

    She stopped giving them any attention when a feathered animal entered her field of vision, walking on a table a few meters away from hers. It wasn't one Noctua had ever seen, either — and she had seen her fair share of birds in her lifetime — a fascinating mix of feline and avian members, of hair and feathers, bright and yellow. She wondered what kind of exotic country that creature could come from — definitely nowhere Noctua had ever been. She would have noticed for sure. For a second she wished she could ditch the whole humanity of the room to get out and chill with that majestic animal.

    But when she flew close to a human and pressed against him with familiarity, Noctua deduced with disappointment that this must have been her master. The fact that humans kept pets had always made her terribly uneasy — she'd seen animals and inguz alike be exploited against their will to serve humans, and it was hard to get rid of that revolting image, even if the bird-cat did not look unhappy at all. She wondered if some animals liked captivity, in the same way her brother had liked to hide the stars with a roof and work for the humans who scorned at him disdainfully. It really wasn't something she could understand. She was in a form of servitude, here as a warden, but her specie didn't cause her to be treated any different than the others (or at least, not by her superiors) and she knew she could leave anytime if she so wished. But to become a pet... It was more humiliation than she could bare to imagine.

    She nevertheless couldn't deny that the master suited the animal, silky bright whites and blues over tanned skin, and a shiny yellow necklace around his neck. Someone with terrible instinct could have taken them for the two forms of one same inguz, and she had to admit she found the pair both intriguing and intimidating.

    “Uh… hello.”

    Focusing on the strange animal and her master, Noctua hadn't even noticed that someone had sat at her table, and the sudden greeting startled her. Taken aback, any knowledge of how to say hello in human language left her mind for a few seconds. It was only natural that someone would sit there — chances were, there weren't even enough seats for this huge mass of a crowd — but to be so suddenly engaged in social interaction was still stressful. She only wished Fel was there. He knew about these sort of things. She was good at... well. Shooting arrows, flying, and killing people.
    None of which were going to be useful during the course of this feast. Most likely, anyway.

    Noctua cleared her throat and managed a hesitant: "...Hi." She was trying to remember which words Fel would have used when meeting strangers... His name? Yes, that was it. Something along the lines of 'Felix Aemores — you can call me Fel,' with a bright smile to smooth things out.
    Well, the bright smile wasn't going to work for her anytime soon, but the rest she could probably try, right?
    An uncomfortable silence followed her declaration, and she realized that she had, yet again, been completely cryptic. How was the girl supposed to know this was her name? Oh, she was so bad at this. Couldn't this feast be over yet? "That's my name," she clarified, shifting awkwardly. "You can call me..." she started, before realizing mid-sentence that she actually did not have a nickname, "...that."
    #13 BruisedLavender, Oct 17, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2016
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  14. The kitchen was busier than ever, cooks, commis and bakers running around hurriedly, overwhelmed with the unusual number of mouths to feed. As he took a platter of traditional elvish pastries from the stone oven, Maska sent a look of disapproval to his partner.
    ⧼You should go, you're not helping out,⧽ he told the older elf with a sigh, using Elvish as they always did between the two of them.
    Helke had been having fun around the kitchen for a good hour now, filling water pitchers with ice cube, making ice cream figurines on the cakes, and other cheap magic tricks which, while not doing any harm, could hardly be seen as productive.
    ⧼Excuse you? I'd say I'm marvelously helping out,⧽ he retorted with a grin.
    Maska rolled his eyes. He had known the elf for 41 years, and in that time his childish shenanigans had anything but improved.
    ⧼Go to the party,⧽ he scolded softly as he poured icing on the pastries. ⧼That's where you're supposed to be. What if the king makes his announcement and you're here playing with ice cubes? You need to be more serious. This is a very important summoning.⧽

    But when Maska turned around, it was to see Helke throwing tiny ice balls at a passing cat, having apparently not listened to anything his husband had just said. When the other elf noticed he was being glared at, he grinned innocently. Maska crossed his arms.
    His grin grew wider, all sweet and innocent. ⧼Yes~?⧽
    Maska answered with a cold, tight smile. ⧼Get the fuck out.⧽
    At that, Helke scoffed and put a hand on his heart, pretending to be terribly offended. ⧼Must you wound me so deeply?⧽ he asked with exaggerated sadness as he walked towards the door. That only made Maska shoo him more, though the smile on his face somewhat discredited his exasperation.

    These days, Helke and his husband did not spend much time together. He thankfully was not often summoned on long term missions far from Lingerhold, but the elf was still busier than he had been at the Arcanium (which was saying something, as he had been rather industrious then), and didn't sleep at home quite as often as he once had. For that reason, the summon to the city two weeks ago had been a blessing. To make it better, he'd even been allowed to stay at his own house. It also perhaps wasn't much of a coincidence if Maska had been asked to help as a baker for the banquet. While the other elf didn't officially know of Helke's sneaky recommendation to the castle's chef, he probably suspected it, but didn't seem to mind the change of pace.

    Helke finally entered the hall, dressed in an elegant blue tunic, his hair braided in formal fashion and decorated with an assortment of pearls and beads. The atmosphere was effervescent as he made his way to salute the king, and he loved the energy of loud conversation and laughter he could feel in the air. There were many familiar faces, and as the elf was not only a social butterfly, but also remembered the name of anyone he had ever talked to and considered a 'friend' anyone with whom he'd had more than one conversation, he saw at least one in four warden as his friend. There was a lot warm hand shaking here, some more jokes and small talk there. Helke liked the wardens and their combattive spirit — they were a fascinating group of people, and he hadn't been bored for a second since joining.

    Of course, that did not include the less... civilized ones. Helke had to repress a shudder when he saw a couple of feline Inguz passing by. Why these savage creatures were allowed at official events like this was beyond him. As he turned his eyes away from their disgraceful sight, he perceived a young mage he remembered to be called Sadira. They had met for the first time in Artana, introduced by the young man's teacher — Helke's friend and colleague — and the man had praised his student as "kind, curious, and of a rare talent". From what he had seen back then and later in their encounters as wardens, Helke had to agree, though he also found the kid a bit too pampered and idealistic for his own good. Still, he was of a good spirit, and the elf liked him.

    "Hi, Sadira, my boy," he called out before greeting him with a friendly pat on the arm, overly familiar as he was with everyone whom he knew the slightest. "'Been practicin' yar illusional magic, I hope? Duntcha get rusty, others magics might be pretty a'ight, but illusions are what'll save yar life when ya meet a bigger fish than ya!"
    It was probably not the first time he'd said these words to the young man, since he said them very, very often, to almost any mage he talked to — but for all his memory, Helke never grew tired of repeating himself. On the side he noticed Sadira's mount, who seemed to be eying at other people's meal. The griffin was beautiful, but its aura had a certain... hostility, and Helke knew better than to approach it.

    Cheers not far from them made Helke turn around, to see that there was an ongoing arm wrestling match between Anzo and a younger man he did not recognize. With a word of parting to Sadira, he got closer to the growing group of spectators around them, loving these kind of manly competitions. They were useless, perhaps shallow, more than a little barbaric — but so much fun.
    Adding his voice to the cheers, he dropped a coin next to the duo and boasted, laughing loudly: "I'm puttin' my money on the yung'one, Anzo, ya're gettin' old!"
    #14 BruisedLavender, Oct 18, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2016
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  15. It had been such a good plan Tóra reflected as she studied the delicate patterns of the wooden table. The man had declined the offered bottle and she had been congratulating herself on finding a suitable companion to pass the rest of the wretched evening with when the scar faced git had ruined it all by opening his mouth. The words themselves weren’t unexpected but the voice that delivered them had a sting of a slight norboroian accent. It was an accent that drilled into her soul, which brought up feeling of fear and shame, that she had spent her whole life running from.

    Now the man was staring at her as she was trying to avoid his gaze by suddenly finding the table in front of her the most interesting thing in the world. She hated it when people’s eyes lingered on her. The quarter master Saga was the worst. He would stare unrepentantly at her with a grin on his face that made her skin crawl and while the warden opposite her now was nowhere near as bad, the hint of her homeland in his voice had set Tóra on edge.

    The clanking arrival of a newcomer at the table seemed like a gift from the gods. Tóra didn’t relish the idea of more company but anything that drew attention away from her right now was more than welcome. Keeping her head down she took occasional sips from the bottle clenched between her fingers as the sound of contented chewing filled the silence that had settled over the little group and waited for a chance to escape. When the dwarf asked a question of the scarred warden she sensed her moment to get away had come and made to leave. Her legs however seemed to have become traitorously uncooperative since she had sat down and the attempt to stand up came to an abrupt end with a bump before she got more than a few inches off the bench.

    Concluding that for the time being she wasn’t going anywhere she looked up to see the dwarf who reeked of armour polish and radiated keenness watching her. Realising that the question had also been ment for her she thought with a little difficulty about what had been asked and then with greater difficulty the answer. “snearly about a........ummmm a year now” she mumbled before adding "I think". Happy that the social obligation on her part were done Tóra went back to examining the inside of the little bottle as she tried to work out how much of the spirit was left and how she was going to get some more if her legs continued to be difficult.

    After some time the slow moving wheels of her mind spun back around to the enthusiastic dwarf across from her. Maybe he could be persuaded to fetch something for her when the time came, she’d have to talk to him but dwarfs weren’t too bad, as a rule they weren’t the fastest runners which was a big plus for the species in her mind.

    “Maybe you should eat something. Because if you start puking, I start puking, and then we’re kicked out for trying to clean the floor with our stomach acid.” Said a voice that would have made Tóra jump if the message hadn’t got lost somewhere in the fog that was enveloping her mind. “Just the bread though. You touch that meat, and I start slapping hands.”

    Turning to the direction that a plate had appeared from she was surprised to see another dwarf had joined the group. They had arrived so stealthily that Tóra wasn’t sure if she was imagining them or not and gave the latest arrival a couple furtive pokes just to be sure. Convinced the newcomer was indeed real Tóra took a piece of the offered bread and began ripping it into small lumps.

    A handful of the chunks did end up in her mouth but most of them were arranged into patterns on the table as she tried to pass the time in a way that had earned her more than one clip round her ears when she was younger. The brief trip through her memories and the ever thickening cloud of alcohol combined to make Tóra tear up and she quickly buried her head deep into her arms so that no one would see her being a pathetic soppy idiot.
    #15 Applo, Oct 18, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2016
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  16. [​IMG]
    Anzo was confident in his strength; in pure physical prowess, Anzo was peerless. Never before has he been beaten in contests of strength, and Anzo often required multiple opponents to consider a challenge fair. But Ansley was different. Once every few years, there would be a Warden that could challenge Anzo’s might. Match it, unlikely, but even still these few Wardens were the closest rivals Anzo had.

    Anzo’s massive arm flexed and bulged as he pushed Ansely’s arm, yet Ansley’s hand had yet to hit the table. It was not due to any pity or lenience on Anzo’s part: Ansley’s strength had prevented Anzo from winning so far. Not only that, whenever Anzo did let up, their entangled arms started pushing towards Anzo’s side. A throaty chuckle echoed from the Anzo’s helmet; he relished facing the few people that could give him challenge, and Ansley was among the top of the list.

    Coins were flowing throughout the crowd, exchanging hands and finding their way to the table as bets were made. The original coin used to start the match was now buried under a small mound. Anzo was far more interested in the growing crowd than the growing pile of coins, especially that of an interesting figure that approached.

    “Ah, the Sage of Artana!” Anzo bellowed as Helke added to the coin pile. “Old, am I? Then I might need a handicap! What say you, lad?” Anzo looked towards Ansley, his confidence and jesting tone clearly signaling that Anzo’s suggested handicap was not meant for himself. “Best two out of three? The wise Helke has come to take notes on strength after his magic fails, after all! Best give him a good show!”

    With that, Anzo let loose a roar of laughter and forced his full might into his arm, aiming to press Ansley’s hand into the table and finish the first of their matches.

    @Mite's Anzo
    @FrostedCaramel's Ansley - “We’re in a match, lad!”
    @BruisedLavender's Helke - “I’ll be old when I’m dead!”

    Languages used:
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  17. "Just under a full week. for me." He thought to keep the answer short, despite actually being talked to. The man's demeanor suggested that he wasn't ready for a full scale conversation that Kwirk was capable of doing, and was honestly looking for at this moment. And the drunk girl looked as though she would turn into whatever she drunk so much of at any moment. I remember my first drink. They would likely have plenty of time for him to catch this man in a better mood, hopefully. Honestly, after this, he might never see this person again. No harm, no foul this time around. The drunken woman wouldn't even remember him in a few hours.

    Then as if the Halls of Ibrance themselves heard him, another came over to the table. His eyes picked up on the movement and the rest of him seemed to want to turn, but the chair thankfully held him back from doing so. It would have looked a little too improper. As the nice pair eyes and amusing freckles came over, he looked her over, to try and figure out where she was from. Her headdress was odd but the armor was a nice touch.

    She spoke to his previous conversing partner, and the woman got as much out of him as he did. Of course, it was only because of a name pronunciation. So Kwirk: 1 Shapely Dwarven Woman: 0. Learning his name, he nodded his head, to acknowledge the new information and to hopefully commit it to memory.

    And like a bad itch, the fellow dwarf decided to try and lay into the fact that he had a noble background. It was bound to happen eventually, but he decided to try give some banter back. After all, she did call him a lordling.

    "They didn't. I told them I was done being stuck in a life that wasn't worth living. I wanted to make a real difference in the world and have a damn good adventure while doing it." He said, taking a drink. "[ And if you don't mind me being so bold, if you keep up the lip with those emerald eyes and hips, I might to show you how tight of grip you need before your saddle is broken. Assuming you can even lady. ]" Deciding that his response was quite enough, he stared her down a little longer and before turning back to his plate. Granted, he did think she was quite alluring but even a lordling would know a slap was coming. If it wasn't, then he just made a hellava friend.
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  18. Wading through the crowds have become significantly more difficult as more and more of the Wardens packed into the hall. Sadira was now wary of bumping into people and causing spills of food or drink-- especially as there seemed to be quite a number of the attendees enjoying the drinks. He was delighted to see that most of the Wardens were enjoying themselves, and it bolstered his spirits all the more. Lotus, on the other hand, was growing grumpier by the moment and kept nudging Sadira's shoulder with the curve of her beak.

    ⟓Oh, come now,⟔ he said, giving a soft laugh, ⟓you ate just two hours ago.⟔

    The griffin seemed wholly unimpressed by his response and nudged him again-- rather harder this time.

    ⟓As soon as Akard has given his address,⟔ he reached up, smoothing the feathers on her head, ⟓we'll get you dinner.⟔

    "Dinner" was, apparently, the word the animal was waiting for and she gave a crooning sort of purr, rubbing her head against his shoulder.

    ⟓Sometimes,⟔ he murmured, ⟓I think you only stay with me for the food.⟔

    "Hi, Sadira, my boy!"

    Turning abruptly as he heard his name, Sadira scanned the crowd for the source of the voice. Catching sight of the waving elf, Sadira gave a wave in return as he slid through a small cluster of laughing Wardens to meet his friend. He had first met the older elf in Artana, and had even received some tutoring from him a few years back. After becoming a financial backer for Akard's Wardens, Sadira had been pleased to discover that Helke was a member of the force-- and just as much to find the elf at the banquet.

    "Helke," he greeted jovially, "how are you?" He received a bracing pat on the arm from the elf, and gave a wide, genial smile. "Practicing," he agreed, "but far from perfecting, I'm afraid." It was something that was asked of him every time he encountered the man. Not that he particularly minded, but Sadira had never really had a head for illusions, and he'd spent most of his time refining the magics he could control. Not something he felt he needed to share with the elf as to ruin his mood or opinion. He was fond of Helke, but the elf was rather set in his ways and Sadira wouldn't argue against him. "Though," Sadira added jokingly, "I suppose if I live to be your age, I'll have had ample time to improve."

    "Lotus, you remember Helke?"

    But Lotus was busy eyeing an unattended plate, and had even gone so far as to climb halfway onto a table.

    "Ah, ah! I don't think so, miss!" Sadira chided, summoning the griffin back to his side. "We do not take food from other people's plates."

    Lotus slunk back toward him, obviously sulking at her foiled dinner plans. She eyed Helke warily for a moment, then nudged Sadira once more.

    "Sorry about that, she can be a handful when she's hungry," he said with a laugh.

    He talked a few moments more, catching up with the elf's state of affairs, then parted with another wave and a smile. It was always good to catch up with acquaintances.

    There was hardly a moment to get his bearing in the crowd when he heard his name yet again. Another elf was waving at him, and Sadira lifted his hand in greeting. He was again met with the challenge of navigating the sea of people to reach the young lady, and apologized profusely as he nearly sent a rather red-faced man toppling over as he slid between a group of people clustered around what appeared to be an arm-wrestling match. Sparing a glance at the scene, he saw Anzo and another large man trying to force each other's arms to the scrubbed wooden table. With a laugh, he called a cheer of good luck to Anzo.

    Seemingly intrigued by the tabletop battle, Lotus lagged behind, her amber eyes fixed intently on the two participants. She cocked her head, laying one ear back and twitching her tail as she watched the younger of the two men.

    "Lotus," Sadira called over his shoulder, "you be good, miss. Do you hear me?"

    With that, he turned to the elf with a smile. "Hiya! It's good to see you!" ⟓You've been practicing!⟔

    He had met the elf shortly after his arrival at Lingerhold and had been delighted to find that she too had an interest in learning languages. When she inquired as to whether or not he would help her with the Southern Tongue, he had eagerly agreed. She was a gifted linguist already, and he was confident in her ability to make fast progress.

    ⟓You look lovely,⟔ he said, giving her a slight bow. ⟓Are you enjoying the banquet thus far?⟔

    Mentions @Mite - Anzo and Hiya
    @BruisedLavender - Helke
    @FrostedCaramel - Ansley (you're being watched)

    #18 DinoFeather, Oct 25, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2016
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  19. Straining with all his might, Ansley was managing to put up quite a good fight against Anzo, and an even better show for the crowd that had gathered to watch the two men. Pouring as much mental strength into his composure as he was pouring raw power into his arm in an attempt to keep from showing that his defeat had been assured from the moment Anzo appeared. Ansley plastered a wide grin on his face as his opponent let up ever so slightly and allowed him to tilt their arms just a few degrees in his favor.

    Directing his attention to the "Sage of Artana" as Anzo had said, Ansley found himself gazing upon an elf he had never met before. "Odd that we have never crossed paths Sage!" he called out to the elf, "Name's Ansley Norcott! I'd offer a hand but..." he tilted his head at the deadlocked arm wrestling match in front of him with a deep and short laugh before raising an eyebrow at the Unicorn helmed Wardens proposition.

    "Odd's th'word, son!" Helke agreed, laughing at the joke; he was always a man to appreciate spontaneous puns. "I'm Helke Vyrïnnosta, if it pleas'yah!"

    Giving Anzo's suggestion a few moments of thought, Ansley couldn't help but laugh as he replied, "Two out of three Anzo? But that allows one of us to fail!" he jovially proclaimed to Anzo, "If anything, we should only go at this once! A true test of strength never has a redo, and besides, the good Sage will learn nothing from three matches of partial strength!" he mused while raising his free arm in the air and flexing, 'Just have to put up a good show before I lose this match...' he thought as he tried to move Anzo's arm a bit more in his favor.

    Ansley Norcott looked strong, to be sure, and the fact that he was giving Anzo a fair match was enough to put him in a higher category than most humans could vouch for. But this was Anzo — the Great, the Grand, the Giant — and Helke doubted he'd ever lost a duel of pure, untampered strength. This competition was probably going to end as usual — Anzo struggling for some while, then crushing any hope of victory from his opponent's eyes. But if he were to be beaten by this younger man... Now that would make a story worth telling.

    It would also mean good coin for the elf, seeing as most of the bettors were putting their money on the Giant. Not that Helke cared about such terrestrial matters. The minds of wise sorcerers like he was were occupied with much nobler concerns.

    Although... there was a new gown of cobalt silk from Lingerhold's famous tailor he'd had his eyes on. And there was spilled ale on the table.
    ...It wasn't cheating if he didn't get caught, right?

    Without interrupting his cheering or letting any suspicious facial expression show, Helke froze the ale under Anzo's elbow for the shortest instant. Just long enough for said elbow to slip, and his arm to be smashed on the table.

    With his final bit of showmanship about to come to an end, Ansley let out a roar as he pushed with everything he had against the human fortress in front of him. Then it happened, Anzo's arm seemed to loose it's traction as Ansley went for his final push and before Ansley had realized what was going on Anzo's arm was pressed firmly against the table and the crowd fell silent. That is until Ansley let go of Anzo's arm and stood up.

    Placing a leg up on the table and grabbing a pitcher of ale from a nearby Warden, Ansley raised his hands triumphantly into the air, letting a large amount of ale spill over the pitcher before he opened his mouth, "There you have it folks! The Emperor of Those who Wrestle Arms, First of His name, Ansley of the Wardens defends his title one last time!"

    A Collab between @BruisedLavender and The Frostiest of Caramels

    @BruisedLavender's Helke - "We'll drink to my victory Elf!"
    @Mite's Anzo - 'There's no way he's human...'
    @FrostedCaramel's Ansley - 'I won...? I WON!'
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  20. “Loch-lin! Right~" Jericho said with a bright smile. “There are so many of you, and you all have such odd names. Human names. Elf names. Animal-people names. I’ve been across the continent a hundred of times, and I’m still amazed that your names don’t hold any purpose. Dwarf names are important. Strong.”

    Jericho buried herself back into her food. The drunk woman took some bread but played with it like a young dwarfling. She furrowed her brows. At least the woman wasn’t splattering vomit about like a dog went through wet meat. That was—comforting.

    She grabbed a large leg of meat and started to chew on it as the lordling dwarf began to speak. Her eyes narrowed at his words. His common words were fine, but when he slipped into dwarven, she stopped chewing. She slowly sat her dinner down and looked at the young dwarven noble. He was—
    handsome, in the dwarven sense. If she’d never left Ibrance she might have swooned. But she’d seen other species in a variety of shapes and sizes. For instance, Anzo was a mountain of a human man. Jericho had said something entirely inappropriate when she first met him. Did she regret that decision? Of course not. He should know. Still, nothing had come of it.

    Jericho let out a polite laugh. “I am sure that you will have a very interesting journey.” Her lips then turned down and she leaned in, her voice husky. [“I have ridden over a hundred horses, Lordling, Do not assume that you’re the first pony I’ve ever seen. I admire your courage, but you’re going to have to do more than words.”] She took her ale by a stern hand. [“You are handsome. Though, try to be more than handsome.”] She tossed her remaining ale into the dwarf male. It wasn’t a lot, but it was enough to make her point.

    Jericho left the table and moved towards Anzo. “Anzo!” she exclaimed. “My favorite human! You are looking quite handsome this evening,”
    #20 Tyrannosaurus Rekt, Oct 30, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2016
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