Duty to the Kingdom

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Kitti, Mar 18, 2012.

  1. [​IMG]

    The Triarch looked bold today, more sure than he had in a long while now. His head was growing silver with age and he did not seem to have the same aura of inner calm that he had once possessed, though the weary lines of his face showed the strain of time was beginning to get to him. Once the most powerful man in the land without question, everyone knew that the Triarch had been a paragon of seamless grace and power. When he completed the tournament, the image of him had been emblazoned within the minds of his citizens of him standing over his fallen foe. There was fire in his eyes as he turned to face the people that he would now rule and they had cheered for him wildly. His left palm was studded with the brilliant scarlet spines of red magic and his right arm held the sword he had been wielding. Those glory days, however, were long past.

    Now, his advisor came to him with another letter from a messenger, another sign of the decline in his rule. The crest at the front of it was the symbol of his general to the east, a sea serpent cresting a wave. The wax was dried and showed an unbroken seal, which the Triarch promptly broke to read the contents of the letter. His mouth thinned into a single line, his eyes narrowed and he reread just to make sure that he was clear on its contents. Assured that he had not misread, he called his advisor to bring him a quill, some ink, and a blank leaf of paper. He scrawled a quick note to the general before folding the note and his seal and wax were given to him. The wax was pure and snowy white, a symbol of the Triarch's mastery over all of the other colors in the Seven. The symbol on the seal bore a three-point crown, emblematic of a Triarch. The message sent back was simple and the king hardly cared if it was intercepted, much to the terror of the messenger who then did not have added protection to carry back the missive.

    "I will send my Seven"


    A meeting was being called of the new members of the Seven. A recent ceremony had been held in the city outside the castle for their austere honor. Each had been given flowing robes in their respective color and been expected to memorize a long and complex speech of acceptance in the old tongue of Mas'Elli, but since then, there had been very little going on for them to do and they had not met to speak with one another at all. They did not, after all, know each other. They had been born not only in different regions of Mas'Elli but some of them on separate kingdoms completely.

    Secretly, Eris wondered why they had all been assigned an alias - so that no one would know their origins, or so that they none of them were considered actual people anymore. They were instead the elite, the best at their given branch of magic, or so she hoped. It had been incredible to be invited to the tournament of the Red, absolutely surreal to have won. Now the reigning champion of Red magic on Mas'Elli... the feeling was incredible. Even if there were not that many magic users born, still only a seventh born Red, there were enough that the tournament had been clustered with people from all over. Not just Mas'Elli but other country's magic users showed themselves to compete.

    Having been able to watch the last few minutes of the Green tournament, Eris was alarmed at how much more violent the Red competition had been, but not surprised. Green was a magic of defense and its chosen frequently displayed a tendency for it. Green could craft barriers from the earth itself, it was said, and use the very land to defend themselves. Red, on the other hand, formed weapons from pure light and were often violently tempered. She herself was no exception to the rule, though staunch discipline made her more calm than many of the Reds who'd been gathered. The other branches were less familiar to her, though Black seemed an eerie and unnerving thing. The ability to drain the life force from one you touch... it was a daunting thought. At least the energy one could drain from an unwilling host was substantially smaller than that of a willing one. Still, it was not something one should make enemies of. That could be said for all the colors, though, she supposed. Each terrifying in their own way, the chosen.

    Having found her way to the throne room of the Triarch with only a few wrong turns, Eris pushed open the door and stepped gingerly inside. Resplendent in decoration and imperious usage of color, she was instantly on her guard only because it was so foreign to her. One man sat in the throne, his silver hair shimmering in the candle light. Another stood at his side, surely an advisor. Before Eris had a chance to speak, the advisor cut her sentence short.


    His voice was nasally, though he looked harmless enough. Eris coughed and stared straight ahead, trying to see if any other the Seven had arrived before she had. "Red. My color is Red, sir."

    "Ah. From this moment on, whatever your name was before, forget it. You are now Sparrow, the Red. When the others come, we will assign their name to them as well. Stand there and wait patiently."
  2. Mai walked into the room and saw the a girl who had gotten there before her. She was annoyed b/c she had expected to be first and she wasn't. Rawr, she thought, I don't like his girl too much.

    She walked to stand by the girl, but didn't look at her. She looked toward the advisor, waiting.

    "Good. Your name shall be Shadow. The black clouds be upon you."

    She nodded and waited for the others.
  3. Axel's jaw dropped almost obscenely around a yawn as he trekked through the halls of the castle. The place was garishly decorated and, for the most part, unimportant to him. He wasn't one to really pay attention to his surroundings in regards to style and design. Personally, he thought this place needed to tone it down a smidgen and a half. Living in a place like Emril all his life should have made him appreciate this kind of lifestyle, but it didn't, really.

    Born and raised in the harsh environment of Emril, no one thought he could do pretty much anything civilly. Emril was a place where disowned people went, or prisoners and the like were left to die a lonely, miserable death. Food was hard to come by, and the nights were bitter. It had been his first time really venturing into another land to go to the Green tournament just outside the main city gates. He chose green because it was all about defense. No matter how much he liked to fight, one needed superior defense to make it in Emril rather than hot headed red offense. He'd taken great care to make his most prized defense his ultimate offense, and so hand-held weapons were of no use to him. It may be somewhat foolish in the long run, but Axel liked to consider himself level-headed, although he would more or less act like a fifteen year old just escaping the last of puberty.

    Back to more important things, he had won the tournament because of his unorthodox choice of defense and battle. It was hard to get rid of his hair and defend against it at the same time; watching people struggle to do so was quite entertaining, to say the least.

    ...Ah who was he kidding? It was damned hilarious!

    The shield master smiled lopsidedly to himself.

    He came to a stop at a pair of large doors.

    This was it, he guessed.

    Pushing the doors inward, he met the presence of three people: two girls' backs were the first things he saw, then he recognized the faces of two men. One sat on a throne of sorts and had silvery hair. Ah, the days of old age. Beside him was an austere looking man. An adviser or bodyguard, he didn't know.


    "Color?" The adviser cut him off. Axel's expression took on a blank look. What the hell?

    "Green," Axel scowled. The defense champion believed he was an easy going person. Really, he was. But it took most of his self control not to cuss to burning ashes the man's ticket to heaven.

    "You will no longer be called by your birth name from this moment on. Your name from now on will be Garrison, the Green of the Seven," the decidedly rude man announced.

    "Whoa, whoa," Axel said before the man could take another breath. Ha, take that, Mr. Man.

    "Garrison?" Axel asked, incredulous. "Don't I get a say in this one?" He continued on before the adviser could say anything -- again.

    "It makes me sound old," he complained. "Can't I be something like Jack Knife, or Lone Wolf or Alpha One or something? Ace would be preferable, though."

    The adviser's mean look just seemed to turn much darker. Axel knew he did that to a lot of people, but he doesn't do it on purpose. But really....he was twenty four, not forty two! Garrison...sweet mother.

    "Your given name--." the adviser bit out.

    "Is Ace," Axel cut in and gave a sweeping bow. "A pleasure."

    He smirked at the adviser who was stopped by the man in the throne from making anything more of the argument. Axel looked over to his left at the girls who stood there.

    "Hi!" he grinned.
  4. The tournament had been brutal. It seemed that no matter how hard she fought, most of the other colors didn't realize how tough it really was. Especially Red, though she had gotten into an argument with a Yellow as well. Everybody apparently thought that it was easy to fight in the mind, but it wasn't. She was constantly sending mental attacks, as well as moving physically to hurl knives at her opponent and dodge the retaliation. There were a few times that she wasn't sure she would make it, but always she told herself that she was going to pull through and prove herself. When she won, there was no group of people in the stands cheering especially hard, nobody that she knew would be proud of her. Still, it felt good. She smiled and nodded, waving a little to a group of young ones who was waving to everybody who won. After everything had been cleared and the next tournament began, she watched a little, but knew she was supposed to be moving right along so she didn't really linger.

    Aliya hunted for the room she was supposed to find, her bright sapphire eyes scanning the area. Already she had been lost for a few minutes, but then she spotted the door she was looking for. Taking a deep breath and straightening herself out so that she didn't look too dishonorable, she pushed open the door and walked to stand in front of the Triarch and his advisor carefully. She tended to stumble if she went too quickly, especially if she was nervous - which she was, as she had never even seen the Triarch in person before this, especially up close. Bowing before him, she managed to straighten up before the advisor demanded her color.

    "Orange," she informed him, her voice light and lilting in a faintly musical manner, with a faint touch of the accent of the coast. When he told her to forget her name, she bowed her head slightly, but knew that she would never forget. Names were far too important, and hers was the only thing she had left of her family. Moving to the side once he was finished with her, she stood next to a man in green, his other side already occupied by a girl who seemed roughly her own age. She gave them both a smile and clasped her hands silently, wondering what was going to come next.
  5. Rashal was nervous about all of this. Thrust into spotlight after winning his tournament, the farm boy was feeling overwhelmed. People were celebrating in his honor, yet they knew almost nothing of him. Yet, the intelligent Raz had known before he entered that if he did somehow win this tournament, fame would be forced upon him. Having defeated the others with his skills, he had but one match left. An analytical soul, Rashal had studied his opponent for some time before engaging in combat. He knew his foe was not a humble soul. His opponent fought with flair, casting complex spells that sought to confuse Raz. The spells of illusion worked on Raz for but a moment before he countered with extremely efficent, simple spells. In the end, his cocky foe's mind was beaten and filled with horrifying images. Images of what Rashal has been through. The mental pain brought the self-centered oaf to his knees, and Raz won the tournament.

    Rashal was called to the throne room of the Triarch. As he made his way there, he calculated many different formulae in his head, all dealing with why an alias was required and the likelihood of him getting along with the other Six. He did not like the solutions to his equations. Of course, they were but estimates based upon probability, not definite by any means. Raz walked briskly, keeping his head down low, not desiring any more attention than he already had brought upon himself.

    After shyly asking a female attendant for directions, he entered the throne room, gingerly pushing the doors slowly until they opened. He gazed upon the architecture and beauty of it all for several moments, studying it thoroughly, in awe of it, for where he comes from, a well built stone and wood house is a marvel... not that they stay standing long. Burned and destroyed within a short amount of time due to the bloody warfare of his country.

    Raz walked nervously and cautiously up to the throne, where the gray-haired Triarch sat, looking elderly but still noble and wise. Beside the Triarch stood a tall man, no doubt the Triarch's adviser. Around the throne stood four others, none of whom he had ever seen in his life. This made him fidgety and apprehensive. Keeping his head low, he stood before the Triarch and bowed low, being humble before those he knew were his elders and his superiors.

    "Color?" said the adviser, who spoke with an awkward, nasally voice. Though Rashal would never say such things aloud, he had an odd feeling about the adviser. Though of course, this is probably because where Raz originated from, advisers had a tendency to desire the power of that who they served.

    "Purple, sir," he said in his tender voice. Not a feminine voice by any means, but he was clearly a soft spoken young lad.

    "Forsake your name. You are hereby called Magi, the Purple. Others shall arrive and they shall be given their names. Stand and await with patience.
  6. Mai looked at the rest of the members who had come. There were five others, including herself.
    She thought to herself, What kind of people are these?
    are these my companions?
    She sighed a deep heavy breath and stuck one hand on her hip.
    I hope this goes well, she thought.
  7. No one expects healing to be
    Some sort of fancy show.
    The crowd -
    They laugh as I walk out,
    head held high.

    The crowd -
    Expects me to cast spells on those
    Wounded, sick or near death.
    The runners of the show,
    Know they must entertain -
    The crowd.

    Before me is a slave,
    Chained not just with metal,
    But with earth and mind.
    He is kneeling,
    Shaved head bowed.

    He is not the only one here.
    A great burly man,
    Covered in hair and scars -
    He stands, sharpened sword in hand.

    I needn't words to understand how the game will be played.

    Swordsman slashes at Slave,
    Slave whimpers.
    Blood trails down his skin.
    My heart goes out to him,
    And as it does, his wounds heal.

    Swordsman slashes at Slave,
    Slave moans.
    Blood runs down his skin.
    My heart goes out to him,
    And as it does, his wounds heal.

    Swordsman slashes at Slave,
    Slave starts crying.
    Blood starts pooling...
    My heart goes out to him,
    And as it does, his wounds heal,
    But I see a scar.

    Close to begging, I am.
    The Fates seem merciful -
    The match is called,
    With me declared as the winner.

    My gown glides down the halls
    Of the Palace,
    Fabric riding along cold tile.
    Through the double doors I go,
    Deep breath.

    I am asked for my name, and color.
    "Vriona," I say, head slightly lowered. "Yellow is my color."
    His voice fills the deep space, echoing,
    "You are now known as Harp. Vriona is no more."

    Taking my place with the others
    Is my sign of submission and obedience.
    Eyes still on the tile floor,
    Hands at my side,
    I do my best to look innocent.
    I want no trouble...


  8. With everyone gathered in the room at last, each of them having been abruptly welcomed by the advisor to the Triarch, the mood seemed to intensify. The Triarch, who had been slouching on his throne until now, straightened and clasped his hands on his lap. He gazed at all of them in turn, contemplating each one. They had stated their colors now and he admired each of them, trying to place qualities about each in relation with their color. Some of them were easy enough to distinguish, some a little more difficult. Finally, he smiled to them and held his hands apart, palms facing upward.

    "Welcome to my humble home" he chuckled and he sounded a little as though he was wheezing. The advisor cut in quickly, trying to gloss over the obviously ill sound "There is a special task we need of you. That is why we have called you here with such short notice." Frowning, the Triarch waved his hand to his advisor, appearing to be grouchy with his interference. Whether his health was still fine or not, his pride appeared to be fully intact.

    "I am deeply sorry for having to assign you on a mission just days after we held the tournament to determine the champions, but I have no other choice. There is trouble on the eastern coast of Mas'Elli, specifically the city of Cyrilna, and I need you to handle this grave matter. I've received word that our eastern neighbors are causing trouble along the coast. You will have to take horses on the trip through the eastern swamps to get there. The journey will be arduous, I know, and the swamps are often home to fell creatures and a hiding place for bandits. I have faith in you Seven, however. We will send you with supplies as soon as possible today."

    Sparrow shifted her weight, glancing around at the other six. A trip through the swamps was dangerous at best but with six people that she didn't know, she was unsure how well the trip would go. There was no bond between them yet, no trust. The horses were fortunate, but they would not be able to travel through the swamps. For that part of the journey, they would have to travel on foot.

    The Triarch seemed to be finished speaking and it seemed like as soon as possible was going to be just as soon as the advisor could usher them out of the door. There were seven packs already prepared for them and seven horses tied in front of the stable. Sparrow glanced nervously to the others before returning her gaze to the horses. She wasn't sure she knew well enough how to get to the swamps, simply that the journey was east from the castle. It seemed, however, that this had been thought of already. Already sitting on a horse a little ways away from the other seven was a skinny looking teenage boy with mousy brown hair and wide eyes.

    "Are you our guide?" Sparrow asked nervously, eyeing the boy in front of them. He nodded and the horse he sat on pawed the ground impatiently. "You can all ride horses, correct?" Sparrow could ride, some, though she was no expert. She thought that they might try to bond at least a little before getting to the dangerous part of the trip but everything she could think of to say sounded stupid in her own head.
  9. Axel towed what seemed like a line behind the advisor. The stables weren't shabby either. Then again, it belonged to the Triarch.

    "Are you our guide?" the red one had asked. He didn't get to hear her name, really. But it didn't matter. Red was enough. She sounded....nervous? But red was the color for fire. They were supposed to be fiery and all around a good source of entertainment. Well, there were exceptions to every rule, and he guessed she was one of them. She was talking to a wire-bodied boy already sitting on top of his own horse.

    The boy had nodded. So little boy peep was their shepherd. "You can all ride horses, correct?"

    Axel responded by immediately hefting his pack over his shoulder and mounting a horse. The shield master flicked his braid over to his back, keeping the tail end secured between his thighs. It wouldn't be good to have the horse's hoof trampling over it. It actually left a bit of a trail when standing up, so it dragged on a good day. Axel guided the horse in a clean circle, stopping beside the stable boy. He gave the reins a look and patted the horse as he looked around asif searching for something along the ground.

    "Well, I say," he remarked. "I can ride a horse."

    Axel grinned lopsidedly to himself at the scowl he saw at the corner of his eye from the advisor. But he sat patiently for the others, almost as jittery as the boy's horse, itching to get going.
  10. Mai follow behind the others.
    SHe saw the young boy.
    He asked if they could all ride horses.
    What a foolish boy. Of course they could.
    At least, she figured the others could.
    She saw a beautiful white horse and claimed it as her own.
    She didn't speak to anyone.
    She just waitied for the next command.
  11. Aliya - she refused to think of herself as Flower even if she was now required to 'forget' her name - was not thrilled, to say the least. The Triarch was obviously ill, and she disliked his advisor for a reason she couldn't quite place. Perhaps it was the mere reason that he had cut in for the Triarch when the man obviously didn't want that. The news that they were heading to her home to deal with the trouble there came as no surprise, though she hadn't lived in the city. Things had been brewing there for quite a while, and she was relieved to hear that help was finally being sent. At least she knew her way through the swamps well.

    The part she was least excited about were the horses. It wasn't that she was scared of horses.. She just really, really disliked them. Any large animal like that just made her uncomfortable, and she didn't have a lot of experience with them thanks to that. Once they were outside and she saw the horses, she picked up a pack and edged over to a horse that seemed on the smaller side compared to the others. It was a beautiful bay mare, with a white stripe down it's face and white on three hooves.

    Ignoring the conversation of the others for just a moment, she moved closer to the horse and took a deep breath, telling herself that it was going to be fine. After a few moments, she managed to mount in a sweeping motion that told she had done it before. Hopefully nobody had noticed her hesitation since they all seemed fine with it. Once she had secured her pack behind the saddle, she glanced around at the others. A faint smile traced its way onto her lips as she realized she was sitting on a horse and was perfectly fine - even better, they were heading toward a land she was familiar with even if she had no true desire to return.
  12. My heart,
    It goes out to the ill Triarch.
    I wish to aid him,
    But time goes short.

    I listen to the briefing,
    My brow is furrowed.
    A frown appears on my face.
    The swamp is a dangerous place,
    With the horses becoming a hindrance.

    But there is faith -
    Oh yes there is faith.
    The Triach and the Advisor,
    Trusts us to get the matter seen to.

    Wafts of manure, hay and horses fill my nostrils.
    In the stables
    I find my steed,
    A great prideful black stallion,
    With white socks.

    Amused I am,
    At those who are hesitant of the horses.
    I pet mine gently on the muzzle,
    Breathing softly into his
    'Tis a sign of greeting.

    "Aye I can ride,"
    And I hoist myself gracefully onto my stallion,
    Ignoring the fact that I wear a dress.
    Riding side saddle is for a lady.
    I am a warrior on a mission. ​
  13. The tournament had taken most of Blair's strength especially the last fight. The last fight finished with a free for all brawl that had taken the longest of the other tournaments. Blair had beaten 5 other finalists though he had only truly defeated 2 of the others contestants. He was clearly battered and bruised as he stood in the middle of the arena. His breathing was heavy as his chest heaved. His right eye was almost swollen shut, his nose was bleeding, and there was a small cut over his left eye that had recently stopped bleeding. His long brown hair that was braided had splashes of blood of it. Blair had to go to the infirmary after he had won. The crowd was cheering even as Blair fell to one knee. Healers were quick to get to him as he was passing in and out of consciousness.

    Blacking out, Blair's thoughts drifted to home. Blair was the eldest of 3 children, 2 boys and a girl. His farther was bedridden with a sickness that caused his breathing to be hard. Blair was supposed to inherit his father merchant business when the letter arrived. Blair had been invited to the tournament of colors. His invitations was to be in the Blue tournament. Blair's mother did not want Blair to leave but Blair was not good at being a merchant. His younger brother was actually really good at it. Sneaking up to his father bedroom, Blair told his dad about the invitation and that Blair was planning on going to compete. "I know I can win it, father." Blair said to his father. His father smiled and gave Blair his blessing to go.

    Waking up with a start, Blair's head was pounding for a few moments. He felt sore and groggy. "Good morning." said a voice from beside Blair. The adviser to Triarch was sitting beside Blair. "Well, I hate to tell you but you missed the meeting. Also, forsake your birth name. You are now Riptide. There is a servant waiting outside who will take you to the others. He will also inform you on what is going on. Also, it has been a few days since your tournament win." He said before standing and heading off before Blair could reply.

    Blair sighed and got up. He realized he was shirtless and found a new clean shirt at the foot of his bed. Putting it on, Blair headed out the door. The servant was a young boy who had a pack on his back and held a fine sword that Blair had taken from his home. The boy handed both to Blair as he showed him where the others were. Tying the sword to his belt, Blair listened to the mission and asked the occasional question of how they were getting there. The boy answered with horses and going through the swamp. Blair arrived at the stables as the servant dismissed himself. It did not take long till he found the others. 4 women and 2 men, not including Blair. He arrived just one female said she could ride. Blair could ride but he was not that good at it. He could handle a trot and walking but galloping was hard for him. "I can ride as well though my skill is not that great." Blair spoke and drew attention to himself. "Sorry for being late and I was informed on the way here what we are doing."

  14. Without hesitating any longer, Sparrow put her right foot into the saddle and with almost effortless grace, she swung her other leg over the horse. The move, though she made it appear simple, took more coordination and strength than she'd like to admit. She tried not to even remember how long it had taken her to achieve even this semblance of horsemanship and instead smiled benignly at her companions. The skinny boy seemed oddly calm for one who would be venturing with a newly assembled team of high ranking assassins, but Sparrow assumed that he was just hiding his feelings well. He can't have known about this for very long in advance either.

    "We ride, then. Anyone who is uncomfortable is more than welcome to come to me, however. I'd hate to push anyone." The journey had begun, with just the single step of a horse's hoof onto the neatly cobbled path that led away from the Triarch's castle. The clipping of the hooves on stone was somehow reassuring to Sparrow, who found the easy motion of the horse soothing. As soon as they were out of the town, they would of course pick up the pace but for now, they did not need to attract any more attention than a group of their size would attract anyway.

    Having been announced in the middle of the throne room, Sparrow knew well who was who in the group, at least as far as the colors went. Besides that and their names, though, she knew nothing about her companions. Considering that they were all the hand of the Triarch now, tasked with defending him through any means necessary, she figured that their home life would be a bit of a macabre topic. Instead, she searched her thoughts for a more tame conversation topic.

    Before Sparrow could come up with something safer to talk about, however, she realized that they were quickly approaching the gates of the town. Guards posted there would let them through easily enough for the guide, since Sparrow assumed that the guide had been given as official notice from the Triarch to offset the suspicious look of the eight person band, all mounted on horses. Sure enough, the guards called for the group to halt and the guide approached, a small missive in hand. Without further ado, they were waved forward.

    The guide nudged his horse, speeding from its quick walk to an even canter and Sparrow followed suit. There was no leader among the colors, all were equal in their ranks, but the personalities would set them apart. Before they'd gotten too far down the now dirt path leading away from the capital city, however, the group spotted ahead a young woman on the side of the road.

    "Should we stop, or avoid her?" The guide seemed a little more nervous now, with the protection of the city falling away.
  15. Through the town,
    We ride,
    Like heroes out of a
    Fairy tale.

    The horses
    Breathe hard,
    Their hooves trample,
    The ground beneath us.
    It thunders.

    A woman catches my eye,
    And Sparrow asks us if we should halt.
    My eyes flicker to her,
    Then to the stranger on the road.

    "Perhaps we should see if she is ill."

    I don't wait for a word,
    And I slow my black stallion.
    Perhaps the others will do the same? ​

  16. With the words of the woman known now as Harp, Sparrow slowed her horse in front of the woman. She was a beautiful damsel, really, with loose gold ringlets for hair and cornflower blue eyes that glimmered gently in the sunlight. Her dress was soft pink, pooling around her like a rippling puddle of cloth and ripped in several places. It was apparent now that she had fallen in front of a horse, which was sprawled across the ground and obviously dead. The sight of the fallen horse was enough to make Sparrow's stomach turn. What had happened here?

    There was something wrong with the scene, Sparrow could feel it in her gut. Before she could say anything, however, most of the others had dismounted. The men were leading the approach, clearly not thinking with the right head. Grimacing, Sparrow climbed off of her horse, her gaze wary. She opened her mouth, managed to only get out the first syllable of the word 'wait!' but no more. Already, the one called Magi had extended his hand to help the woman up and Sparrow wanted to curse him for not thinking sensibly and her suspicions of being blinded by lust intensified. All but Sparrow and Harp had gathered close around the girl now, the lull making Sparrow want to panic and flee but she could not forsake the others. What if she was being merely paranoid?

    It was at that moment that tragedy struck. Correct from the beginning, Sparrow fell to her knees as something hard and heavy connected with the back of her head, a sharp crack ringing through the air. Still conscious, she hit the dirt heavily. Half a second later, Harp fell beside her, knocked out but not dead. Unable to move, thick strands of rope were tied around Sparrow's hands and, as she watched, Harp's. Suddenly, Sparrow realized that she could not see any of the other members of her group. Feeling oddly outside herself, Sparrow was powerless to do anything as she was slung over the back of her horse. They were abducting the Seven using their own horses. The pain was overwhelming and Sparrow let her consciousness slip away with the soothing movements of the horse rocking her to sleep.

    When Sparrow awoke again, she found herself seated in a circle, facing the other Seven. To her right, Harp was once more awake and she glimpsed, to her left, Axel. All of them were wide-eyed with terror, bound and gagged with no idea of what was happening, each staring at the others as though hoping an answer would be given. The exception to this was Magi, who was slumped over and propped against a sack that seemed to be filled with sand. He was dripping blood from his temple, a sticky and congealed mess of his hair indicating where he had been hit.

    Footsteps approached and from the indistinct darkness, hands dragged the one called Shadow up from the ground, one hand lifting her roughly with her hair. She struggled against them but they were too strong. She looked so fragile in their hands and Sparrow tried to lash out with her projectiles but the attempt only served to exacerbate her headache.

    "You cannot use your bothersome gifts here, none of you can. You need light, you draw from the full spectrum. All light in this place is being filtered through purple glass and your purple seems to be indisposed" sharp laughter rang from another of the shadowy figures. "We want to know everything that you know about the castle, everything about the Triarch. If you tell us, we might let you live. If you do not, we will torture it from you, one by one..." Shadow spat at him and a flash of teeth in the dim light indicated a grin.

    "We'll start with you, pretty thing. All of you, you can stop this at any time, you know... all we want is for you to betray your country" more peals of laughter and Sparrow shuddered. The lives of Seven, what were they in comparison to the wellbeing of all of the people? None would speak, for it was the greater good that mattered. Shadow's hands were still bound behind her back and it was obvious that she could not use her magic to any avail in the purple light. Only Magi, whose wound was still bleeding thickly, could do anything now.

    Trying to move, Sparrow realized that she was not only bound but also chained down, truly unable to move. She suspected as much from the rest of them. A muffled scream from Shadow's gag drew Sparrow's attention. The center of the circle was now dominated with the men, clad in all black from the looks of it. They were careful, however, to not obscure any of the other member's view of Shadow in the center.

    Shadow's clothing had been stripped away, unceremoniously ripped from her and in tatters on the ground around her feet. The men were pinning her limbs and Sparrow felt bile churn in her stomach. From the darkness, another man emerged and in his hand was a metal pole, clearly incredibly hot but carefully maintained so that it was not red hot, did not give off light of its own. The metal was pressed to the exposed flesh of Shadow's breasts, the skin turning an angry red and eliciting more screams from her. Tears streamed down Shadow's face as the rod pressed into her flesh and the edges of the small circle smoked and took on a black hue, the center being a dull pink.

    Still, none of the Seven spoke. The men seemed pleased with that and one turned to look each of them in the face. "Still not willing to talk?" There was a hint of excitement to his note that made Sparrow feel all the more ill. She watched, afraid of what the next intended punishment was. One man was still holding in place Shadow's bound hands, but her ankles were being unbound by two other men. Each held one of the ankles, pulling her slim white thighs apart and another scream from Shadow pierced the air.

    Sparrow turned her head as far as possible to avoid looking at the scene in the center of the circle, but the sobbing from Shadow was hard to ignore. In looking elsewhere, Sparrow happened to catch sight of Flower, whose gaze was, unlike the others, not sickened and turned away. Instead, her face was bunched in pain and the cause was quickly apparent. Flower's bound hands were being turned within thumbscrews by a man who had been all but hidden. Intensified crying pulled Sparrow's reluctant eyes to flicker over to Shadow and her ankles still wrenched apart. In horror, Sparrow saw that Shadow's rape was accompanied by brands being pressed into her skin.

    In the haze of horror, no one had noticed Magi move. Confident in his state, they had neglected to bind him. He had grabbed something and thrown it at something the rest could not see. A shattering of glass and light flooded the room. All at once, bodies were in motion. Shadow lay crumpled in the center, bleeding and unconscious. The pain seemed to have caused Flower to pass out as well, which left the rest to take action. Their powers suddenly, functioning, it was only a matter of seconds before they were all free.

    As though in slow motion, Sparrow tried to lunge for the man already halfway through stabbing Magi but she was not fast enough. Magi fell over, blood coating his clothing. Sparrow grabbed Shadow's body and someone grabbed Flower. They made a mad dash and found a door, which they kicked down. Ace constructed a barrier to prevent the men from following. Luckily, the horses of the Seven were tied just outside. Without time to speak, they rode away as fast as they could go and spoke not a word until they stumbled upon a town. They checked the vital signs of Flower and Shadow, though Sparrow did not need to check Shadow's. Her lifeless body had haunted her the whole ride.

    Sparrow exhaled sharply, rubbing her hands together. They were at the edge of the village now, though unsure exactly where they were. They would need to get their bearings and ask townsfolk for some meager supplies. There was also an unspoken question - do we report back to the Triarch or continue in our duty?
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  17. Aliya - Flower - was in such a daze when she came to that, at first, she didn't notice that she was on a horse and moving. Her bright blue eyes were dim and dull, unfocused as her mind turned in on itself and she was thrust into her memories. She remembered waking up after being slammed across the back of the head with something. It had been terrifying - she was shaken awake by a man that she didn't recognize, in a room with no sunlight. She had seen her comrades bound, only then realizing that she was bound herself. The man had demanded answers about the Triarch, but she just stared at him and refused to even open her mouth. He hadn't appreciated that very much, and had left another man to start torturing her as the others began waking up and he told them all to start betraying their country or be tortured for it.

    The man that she had been left with had ripped her clothes off in such a manner that she knew she'd never be able to wear them again. That was the least of her worries, considering she was now bound and completely naked. After registering that fact, she shut down. She shielded her mind from herself and felt nothing but numbed horror as he used her. Of course, what he wanted was screaming and crying and confessions, but he got none of it as she gazed blankly at the ceiling. That was when he pulled out the thumbscrews. She was not deep enough in her mind to block out the pain completely and started to cry, the shimmering tears coating her cheeks as she struggled to ignore the sounds of Shadow's own tortures. All she wanted was to escape and help the people that she counted as friends even though they didn't know each other that well, but she couldn't do anything.

    When she came to on the back of a horse, she couldn't even focus enough to tell who was riding with her. She knew it was another of the Seven, however, because she had been wrapped in a blanket and nobody was trying to kill her. Her hands hurt terribly, and she knew without a doubt that they were broken. Still, she didn't complain. There were others worse off than she was, she was certain - especially Shadow. She could still hear the echo of the girl's screams ringing in her head and likely would for the rest of her days.

    The slowing steps of the horse and the faint sight of buildings ahead told her that they were approaching civilization. Where they were, she had no idea. She couldn't even force her mind to focus enough to read a sign that they rode past. It was probably some town near the coast, she hoped, but perhaps they had decided to turn back. She wasn't certain, but she was too exhausted to really care at this point. Hope was all she had left, and it was thin at the moment.

    "Thank you," she managed to murmur to whomever held her on the horse.
  18. [did everyone else die or something?]

    Ace [Axel] carefully kept his hair above ground, loosened enough just in case it was needed again. He shifted and sat on his horse backward, driving the ends of his hair into the earth and moved them deliberately. It made the horse push harder to run, but it was a necessity. The hairs hardened and dug deep into the ground, creating more of a fissure between them and the enemy. The magic used back there was sure to wane and die out eventually.

    Soon enough, after confining the retracted clumps into its customary braid, they happened upon a village.

    "Hey, Red," Ace called over. He never learned her name, but was around to hear the others. Either way, he should learn it . But for now, there were things to be done. "I think you should take Flower to the doctor of the town. It'd be best to stay the night, if anything. The horses, while they're pretty damned good, deserve a break. The delay sucks, but a carrier pigeon is enough to send word back. You know what a stickler that damned advisor his." Ace made a face at the thought of the man. While it was fun to antagonize him, he still didn't like him much.

    "The rest of us, I guess are going to find a stable to keep the horses and shop around for some stuff to carry us out." Ace looked around at the rest of the Seven. "Sound like a plan?"
  19. Was that? Naritien strained his eyes, looking toward the path that led into town. Horses and people? He blinked, and rubbed his eyes before looking again. Their village was a waypoint that saw many travelers, but usually peope came alone or with a single partner. Traveling in a group through this town was strange. Most would have chosen the more northern route through the larger city of Udaine. Though it was strange, it didn't matter. These were potential customers.

    "Excuse me," he said to the merchant, "Can you keep these for me? I'll return for them." Narit set down the basket of food he had been selecting. No doubt by the time he returned half his best vegetables would be gone, but he would deal with that then. He had been tasked with buying the supplies for the next day's meals, but he knew his aunt wouldn't mind if he brought in customers instead! And if they did come with him, then his aunt would surely just send him off again to find more food for dinner, so there was no point in finishing his task. Their inn, The Quail's Egg, didn't see much traffic after his uncle disappeared. There were other places to stay in the town that were better maintained. These were strangers, though, they wouldn't know better.

    And he had seen them first! Just across the street, Narit saw another tavern owner looking down the street at them. No! This group was his. When his feet touched down again, it was at a sprint with just a touch of magic energizing him. He wasn't even winded when he reached the group.

    "Good sirs, and ladies, greetings! Welcome to Chadon," Narit walked backwards as the group guided their horses toward town. "You look like a weary bunch, or at least your horses do! I'm from The Quail's Egg. We've got a stable, and we'll feed your horses right. We've got beds and dinner." His eyes glanced over the group and saw that they weren't all riding alone, there was one lady who looked like she needed help. "We could arrange for a healer to meet you at the inn. I can send a message ahead." Narit looked at them each in turn. "Aye? It's just this way, if you would follow me..."

    It looked like these were folks with stories, tales to tell about their adventures. Their last one didn't go so well, but maybe they had had better days! And if they stayed at The Quail's Egg, Aunt wouldn't be able to say he was slacking by engaging with them. He was simply entertaining the guests!
  20. Ace blinked at the voice behind him and looked around...then down.

    What a strange kid. But he was good, he'd give him that. Reminded him of when he used to help his old aunt with her shop when he was the kid's age. It was awesome what one could do with the minds of other people, really. Persuasion was the name of the game. But there wasn't time to horse around with the kid; that could come later, though the lad could use a few...pointers.

    Ace dismounted mid-stride and led the horse without the reins. It wasn't necessary, since the horse was chasing after his hair as he lat it swish back and forth like a cat's in front of the animal's snout. It was subtle, however; he couldn't exactly explain to many people how it was that one's hair could move like another part of his body at will. The barrier spells were done well enough by incantation, but the fissure from before was a special one: anyone who fell in would be swallowed up. Using a regular trap curse would only last for so long.

    Soon enough, the horse got irritated and had Ace not looked back when he did, the horse would have gnawed off his entire head in one chomp. Ducking out the way swiftly but gracefully, he smacked the horse lightly on the nose with the end of his braid with a scowl and a smirk. The horse seemed to glare at him.

    Well then...

    The boy was still talking at the time, and Ace had only caught 'stables' and 'doctor' and 'dinner' in one go before "It's just this way, if you would follow me..."

    "We'll take it," Ace said without much hesitation. He motioned to the path behind the boy with a flourish. "Do lead the way. But one thing..."

    Ace walked up and ahead, turning the boy around and slinging and arm over his shoulder. Ace leaned in, looking around in a dramatic, shifty way, and asked in an exaggerated whisper: "They got pretty maids around?"