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Chapter 1: the Eternal Forest [DASH=Red][BG=#598A0F]Endry and Aislin[/BG][/DASH]
[BG=#407FBF]It was night, the cold air brisk on both Endry's and the Empress' faces as they looked skyward. The small town they had taken temporary residence in – then unnamed, and now named High Birth town – was still alight with fires inside homes. Strange people they were, once in the service of Aislin herself, now under the iron rule of Anglidar, and yet they were still so welcoming. In the time when they were under the empire's rule, they had never once seen a tax man or any kind of deputy, and yet they loved their former empress as if she were still their sovereign.
Most of the houses in the town were shanties, barely pulled together years ago to stave off winter. Very little repairs had been made on the buildings, and there were huge slits in the walls where anyone could see through. They were taxed too much, now, and the timber they were aloud to keep was so scarce that they couldn't afford to make the repairs. This particular town was created just after the last war, ten years ago, the Anglishr kingdom making haste to tear down the Eternal Forest.
“It's rather quaint, this little place,” Endry said aloud, to fill the emptiness of their shared night. “But, I guess I'm growing fond of these... peasants.” Peasants was probably not the word, but he couldn't think of anything else to call them. Serfs? No...
Empress Aislin was far more understanding. “They're not peasants, my Protector, they're people. And yes, I too feel fondly for them.” She turned her head away from both Endry and the town. “It's almost sad that we have to leave this place to Anglidar.” Bitterness, regret. The Blademaster sensed both of these in her voice.
“I think, given time, we might not have to,” he replied wearily.
“What?” the elven monarch said, “I do not think they have the ability to start any sort of resistance to their new king. They have not any proper weapons, nor money or food.”
Endry smirked in the dark. “My dear Empress, a wood ax may not be a 'proper weapon' as you call it, but it can kill a man surely as a battle ax or a broadsword can. You may need money down the line in an uprising, but someone so desperate as these people could eat grass or even bark if they had to. There are deer and rabbits in the forest, as well. I've hunted a few myself.
“Perhaps I am thinking irrationally, but we could probably help them. I have twenty trained men with me, they could train these 'people.'”
Aislin shook her head in the dark. “I do not see how that could work. I just... Do not see it at all.” She considered things a moment. “We go with our previous plan. We ride to our borders in a fortnight.”
“My empress, forgive me for being so forward. That plan is as idiotic as you think mine is. What good do you think twenty one men could do against an entire city that has been turned against us? Kill everyone? We would die by the end of the night. Home is a week's march away. By the time we get there we will be road weary again and in no condition to fight. We left to find a strategy.”
For all her muster, she could not bring herself to be angry at him. “I suppose..."
[BG=green]Bert sat near one of the many fires in the small encampment, impatiently stabbing at the dirt with the pole end of his halberd. He exhaled through his nose, making an exasperated noise that helped to show how impatient he felt at that moment. It did little to help alleviate the frustration he felt, however, and he shifted on top of the log he was sitting on, hoping that changing positions might help him feel that he was actually doing something. When he had joined up with this company, he had imagined they would be marching on the capital within days, but weeks had passed with them doing nothing more than exactly what he was doing now: sitting and waiting. Bert was beginning to think they would never take action, that this whole plan would never come to anything. What hope did they have of taking back a besieged empire if all they could do was camp outside this worthless little town?
Still, Bert reminded himself he had to have faith in Endry's wisdom. He knew from serving under his command that the blademaster was a man of great valor and courage. If anyone could reclaim an empire with just a small army at his command, it would be him. Even moreso, he had to believe in his queen, Aislin. Although she had been removed from the throne and was now a refugee in her own lands, she still maintained faith in their cause and steadfastly believed she would be queen again some day. If both of these valiant souls still believed they could accomplish what they had set out to do, Bert supposed he could as well. Although he was not royalty nor an experienced fighter, he would do his part to help set the kingdom he called home right again. Even though the forces of Anglidar and the queen's treacherous brother stood in their way, he knew with Endry and the queen leading them they had justice on their side.
Rising from his seat and taking his halberd firmly in hand, Bert was now filled with resolve and reaffirmed faith in what he was doing. Many times he had doubted himself and the cause he had joined, wondering if he was better off rejoining his family in Highbirth Town and living the life of a simple serf. He now knew, however, that he was fulfilling a greater role by being here with this army. No matter what they came up against, he knew they would prevail because they were on the right side. He had little doubt now that they would soon act, and even if they didn't, he knew eventually they would have to take a stand, be it here or outside the walls of the palace where he had once served. No matter what the cost, he would do his best to uphold his duty to the rightful ruler of Highbirth and to his fellow countrymen, laying down his life if need be.
In the meantime, though, he needed to find something to occupy himself to keep from getting bored. Bert walked over to one of the guards standing a few paces from Endry and Aislin, who seemed to be deep in conversation. He tapped the guard on the shoulder and whispered into his ear, "You can take a break. I'll fill in for you." The guard suddenly started as if he had been dozing off and then sleepily muttered his compliance, walking off to go like down near one of the campfires.
Taking up the age-old guard's position with his halberd held straight by his side, Bert waited for a pause in Endry and Aislin's conversation and then called out "Albert Crosswynd, reporting for duty, sir."
Many years of work were put into this library. Alexandria was finishing her chores, and getting a good look at the shelves of literature. Some dusting needed to be done before she left. Or... Mostly, it was a reason to reminisce on her pride and joy. She would be spending less time here; the empress needed her. There were duties more significant than her library, believe it or not.
With a sigh, Alexandria swept a pile of dirt into a wooden bucket she used for trash. That was surely the last of the filth. The library was spotless now, and everything was in its proper place. Except for the borrowed books, of course.
On her desk, she left a pouch of gold and silver, along with a note. People really liked her handwriting. The way she made strokes with a pen to make beautiful cursive was something to admire. Alexandria didn't think too much of it, though. The appearance of her writing was decent, and that's all she'd say about it. The note said she would be gone indefinitely, and the money was for the young man she hired to watch over her humble home of books. The final item she set down as a spare key for him to use.
A smile touched her lips as she reread the note, thinking about her dear mother as she did. That just couldn't be helped whenever she was in the library. She missed her everyday, and wished she could show her how successful her writing became. "Ah, why must I be so somber?"
Alexandria rubbed at her cheeks, then. Smiling always brought pain to her face, since smiling was so rare. It was rumoured that she didn't even know how to smile, since people rarely saw it for themselves.
Before taking her leave, she gathered some things for her bag. A book of her spells, a book she's been writing in, some survival equipment and some spare clothing. After all this, she'd sleep for a while before meeting with her dear friend, Endry.
[DASH=Red][BG=#598A0F]Endry and Aislin[/BG][/DASH]
Both Endry and Aislin kept their eyes to the village. It wasn't that they hadn't noticed the change in the guard or the new sentry's hail. At this time of night, a thing like this would bristle anyone, moreso Endry Blade, as he enjoyed his solace with his leader.
He held his hands in fists behind his back. “Very well,” He replied to 'Bert. “Is there anything to report?”
Aislin motioned her eyes as if to ask 'why haven't you sent him away?' and Endry read it as such. The captain didn't comment. Instead, he turned his gaze from Highbirth Town and centered it on 'Bert. There was no tension in his gaze, and he actually quite welcomed – for once – a break from the relative quiet.
“So far as the few scouts we spared could see, the king hasn't made a move against us... Yet.” 'Bert replied. “However, it is a near-impossibility that he won't notice us soon. Word travels, sir.”
I know that well... Endry replied to himself. Well indeed. It is time.
"Very well," Endry replied. He glanced over at Aislin before continuing. "Gather our men. There are a few that I will need around me, and soon." He turned to is empress once more. Under his breath he asked: "Is there any way we can send a message to Alex and Alec? Until then, solder, rouse the ones we do have, and get them ready. This town is ours."
After receiving his orders from the blademaster, Bert sprang to action at once. He raced back to the heart of camp and stood where he felt most everyone could see or hear him.
"Prepare for battle! We march soon," he cried at the top of his lungs. With that part of his mission done, Bert then went about checking the soldiers individually to see if they were up to standard. What he saw was not exactly encouraging. Most of their "soldiers" had little training and would have to fight with what few weapons they had been able to obtain from closely guarded and secret sources within the area. He began to worry if they had enough arms for all their men. It wasn't that they had such a large force to arm, instead, the challenge would be distributing what few weapons they had to those best capable of using them. The rest would have to fight with whatever they had left, which in most cases would be homemade weapons and farming implements. It was somewhat discouraging to think they would soon be going to battle without the proper arms and equipment, but if that was the hand they were dealt, so be it.
Bert next went about selecting individual troop leaders to prepare the men and get them ready for battle. He was certain the ones he picked would be capable of the task. They had quite a few born leaders among their company, a fact that reassured him that they might actually stand a fighting chance in the upcoming battle. Although he himself was better at just following the orders of others, he would do his part to ensure they achieved success. What that exactly entailed, he did not know at that moment, but he felt his life had brought him here for a good reason, and he would not fail to do what was right for his fellow fighters and countrymen.
The boy lacks finesse, indeed. The night was headed to dawn, and Endry Blade's troops were information. It was early, and they hated it, but in the end they all did as commanded. Whatever the Blademaster said, they knew was in theempress' full authority. But, he's a good soldier. He might do well, given the circumstances. If there is a future for us all...
An hour had passed, maybe two, and Aislin had retired to her pavilion. They were still waiting on a report from Alec, but Endry could handle that himself. He hid nothing from his sovereign, and his friend hid nothing fromhim.
If the old man were to see thesituation we are in, he would never let me live this down. And it was true, his father, Enich, was a bastard to the core of the term. And Alex... Where was she? Had she left thelibraries? Jonas was keeping tabs on her, but there was no way to get a message out of the city. Aeric himself kept tabs on anyone thought to be of a different mind,to think him a false ruler, those that didn't have an intrinsichatred for Aislin. Surely both Jonas and Alex were on that watchlist. Both were friends of the errant Blademaster and spent many anevening at the royal table, consorting with the former empress, delighting in each other's company.
A few months, so long ago. This was getting very old.
Endry abandoned his tired train of thought and made his way to theformation. The leaders were up front, all were standing at paraderest.
“This is, as it once was, our land. These people havetaken us in as we once were, a unified nation, and not as we are, awretched city-state. They treat us like we are their own people! Whenwe are no longer. Many of us share blood, but no longer nationality.They take us in as if any national origin does not exist! I say werepay them in kind. Our mistress says we pay them in kind! This townshall be a refuge, not for Highbirth, but for everyone!
“As always, I do not force your hand, we do not force your hand! We askyou to force your own, or stay it. I will carve this refuge its ownlife if I have to do it myself!” He refused to call it Highbirthtown. That was stupid. “Will you draw your own blade? Orwill you stay it to rust another day?
“All those who deign follow us to hell, report to either I or Commander Crosswynd.” His task was done, yet it had just begun.
Jonas the mighty stood alone outside the great library of Highbirth, theonly library known that held so many tomes, magic and mundane. He hadthrown up wards of secrecy, dweomers both small and powerful, so that he could be tracked, seen, smelled or heard by any of Aeric theunlawful's cronies. Oh, how he loved giving people silly little titles...
He was there the same as a great friend of his was there, inside as opposed to outside. And he was waiting for her.
[BG="black"]Harmony Ravenclaw had been on the for several days now. Ever since the incident that separated her from her brother, the young elf woman had been wandering around the countryside without rhyme or reason.
She rode upon a stubborn old mule that she had 'liberated' from a pastoral farmer's property. Harmony thought it odd that the human never attempted to try and find it again. Maybe, she did the farmer a favor by stealing his least liked piece of property....
"Well old bud, where shall we go today?" She said cutely too the old mule. The animal didn't respond. "If you are going to be that way, then I'll decide for us!" Harmony giggled.
The elven girl then put her index finger to her mouth, allowing it to get slightly damped by her saliva. This was something many of the unorganized tribes did to determine the direction of the wind. "Hrmm..." Her senses went on a hyper streak, she could smell things from miles away. "Well, I don't smell no smoke coming from the west...So let's head to the east maybe?" The mule didn't respond again. "You really are very stubborn you know!"
"Though...One of these days I really should deliever these goods too the people that requested them. Odd, though. None of the locals really seemed willing to talk with me. Ah well. Their loss!"
She then reached inside of her saddle bag and pulled out a piece of stale human made bread. She had taken a lot of provisions from the pastoral farmer's homestead. It had been abandoned, though she didn't know why. Maybe it was common for the locals in this region to do such eccentric things?
"These breads are odd. Never really that filling." Her tummy then growled. "Well, hopefully we'll come across a town soon!"
Slung over her torso was a messenger style bag with her belongings. A book of spells, a journal with a quill pen, some medical supplies, a ration of dried beef with bread, a spare outfit... All she needed now was her staff. Looking to a corner of her library, she walked over to the hand crafted weapon leaning against the wall. Her thin fingers wrapped around it delicately, as if she hadn't held it in ages. Which was true, as a matter of fact. Only months ago did she actually use her staff again.
Now that she was ready to go, Alexandria made her way over to the door. The library would be well taken care of by the boy who promised to keep the place clean, orderly and safe. She had faith in him. Well, she had faith in everyone. It was a matter of trust; she had a lot of it in this fellow. She had to, to leave him responsible for her pride and joy.
There was somebody waiting outside for her. She noticed right away when she stepped outside and closed the door behind her. Quickly, she turned around so she could lock it up, then she pocketed the key and spun back around to greet who it was.
"Lord Jonas," she said aloud, taking the time to recognize him. Truthfully, she was very pleased to see him. Alexandria could only assume he was headed in the same direction as she was. Having his company would make the journey much better.
"It is good to see you! Did you want to go inside, or have you been waiting all this time?"
[DASH=#666600]''LAAAAARAAAAAA...! YOU... BRAT!!'' the baker's wife yelled, as she stormed out of the basement where the sacks of grains were stored. ''COME RIGHT HERE!''
Lara jolted, almost dropping the eggs she was stealing from the kitchen. She was in trouble. She did not expect the woman to wake up so early. Lara hastily placed the stolen eggs inside her pocket, and rushed out of the kitchen and into the street, chased by the angry woman who was still yelling at her. The older lady, who was not in shape to match Lara's speed, stopped the pointless chase soon at the bakery door. She angrily threw the empty sack she was holding, which hit the ground, making a loud sound. There was not much she could do about it. It was her fault, since she left the basement unlocked. The woman sighed heavily, picked up the sack and returned to her chores, mumbling.
But Lara was far away already, running as fast as she could, avoiding to bump against the few people that were out, grinning as she chewed the seeds she'd just taken from the basement. Tuki, the robin, followed her closely, swerving as he flew behind her. The girl left Highbirthtown and its leading main road behind in a matter of minutes, and swiftly made her way to the forested area, which she knew as well as her own hands. She knew, also, that it was better to wait there for a couple of weeks before returning to the town again, especially after leaving like that. Which she didn't mind terribly.
She slowed down to a walking pace gradually, and she kept going for a while, whistling with her feathered companion all the way. Lara's mimicry of the robin's chirps was not bad at all. Finally she stopped moving and threw herself backwards to the ground, arms and legs spread out. She was exhausted. As she was recovering her breath, a fox approached and took one of the stolen eggs from her pocket, and started eating it.Oh. So there you were, Brother, Lara thought as she recognized the fox. She sat up and started eating her part as well, sharing the seeds with Tuki.
The meal was short and ended abruptly, as Lara stood up energetically, and started running again. She headed near the edge of the road, again, and climbed up a great tree- she loved the view from up there. Highbirthtown sat calmly in the distance. Lara leaned on a large branch, right above the road, with Tuki on her shoulder and her slingshot ready at hand just in case. [/DASH]
[DASH=purple]Alec Hunt had been scouting the immediate area around Highbirth Town, figuring it would be a good idea to get the lay of the land they were in. He had learned that knowing one's surroundings. He had just finished scouting out the forest to the west of the town. He had found nothing of a threatening nature within the forest, besides the local wildlife. The trees began to thin out more as he neared the edge of the forest, his hand on the pommel of his blade. He began to see rolling hills as far as the eye could see. The morning twilight was receding at a snails pace like the tide. Alec made noted of it as his vision would be impaired as soon as the sun would rise.
Alec creeped out of the refuge of the trees, he scanned the hills for any activity. "Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary," he thought to himself, "I guess I should head back..."
As he was about to turn to leave, he noticed some flickering lights a few hills away. "I guess I spoke too soon..." he mumbled to himself, silently making his way to see what was the source of the flickering light.
When he had reached the peak of the hill, keeping low to the ground, he found that the source of the light was coming from several torches. It was not the torches that had made Alec grip one of his knives more anxiously, it was the men that were bearing the torches that had him worried. Each person was dressed in leather armour with the markings of Anglishr. He could see that some of them were either armed with crossbows and daggers, or a buckler and short swords. This was definitely the scouting party Endry was expecting, and no doubt that more of Aeric's men would be following in their tracks. He counted about twenty men, definitely more than he could handle. "Best get back to Endry..." He mumbled, trailing off as he slide quietly down the hill, until he was pass the crest. He began to run quickly towards woods, using it for cover as he made his way towards Highbirth Town.
Once he had broken from the woods near the outskirts, Alec paused to catch his breath. "Nearly there..." He urged himself, breaking into another sprint as he entered the town. He searched the town for the familiar uniforms of the Highbirth Guard. He spotted one as he turned the corner, and slid to a halt before a halberd wielding guard. "You! Where is Captain Endry?"[/DASH]
'Bert stood at the edge of the clearing, once again on guard duty. It seemed strange, considering the increasing amounts of responsibility he was being given in this endeavor. Commander. He didn't think he would ever get used to the title. It had come as quite a surprise when Endry had referred to him as such in front of the entire company, and even now after a couple of hours he was still finding it hard to accept. He had decided from the start that he would give everything he had in him to help them win, but this new burden was starting to weigh on his mind. Would he be able to live up to the blademaster's expectations and not fail the rest of their men? He honestly did not know at the moment.
They would be marching into Highbirthtown in full force soon. 'Bert was anxious to get started, but unsure of exactly how things were going to develop. Their chances for success seemed slim, but they had Endry for a commander. If anyone knew how to use scant resources to their best advantage, it would be him. The empress was safe back with the closest members of her retinue. The battle should never get anywhere near her, and with any luck they would not have to fall back to her location, thereby putting her in danger.
Suddenly, a man skidded into view in front of him. He didn't seem like an enemy, and from the speed at which he had arrived and the urgent look on his face, 'Bert guessed he was a messenger of some kind. When he demanded to see Endry, 'Bert briefly considered whether or not the commander could afford to be bothered at this crucial hour in their plan, but deciding that the message was most likely of high importance since the messenger seemed to be in such a hurry, he nodded without saying a word and began leading the man to Endry's location.
As they approached the blademaster, who was standing atop one of the many hills surrounding Highbirthtown, surveying the landscape that would soon become a battlefield, 'Bert once again announced himself. "Commander, this man has asked to see you."
He stood there, waiting to see what the new arrival's message might be. 'Bert would stay there unless dismissed, trusting he was privy to any information that might be of importance to their cause.
He was alone in his tent, at this point, thinking of the plans set forth.
Endry mused this for a while. He had told everyone to mobilize and wait for instructions, otherwise to train peasants or fortify the town. Everything was going swimmingly. Except; mobilize for what? Were they going to defend this village when they could not defend their own country? It is true that the guardians of the empire were among the best - and the contacts that Endry had brought in were easily at their level (If secretly).
A strange people, both man and elf. Even the most mundane could be hiding terrible powers beneath their guise.
And underneath it all, Endry realized that Aeric may not be the true villain - that inactivity on his sovreign’s part could be more villainous than the evil deeds of a single man. And yet, Aeric’s avarice could easily top it all off. Reports from Highbirth stated that he was using millions from the royal treasury for his own desires, and none of it went to restructuring the system to benefit a city-state.
Greed, Envy, Pride... Lust. All sins, and all were what Aeric Highbirth lived by. Quite a few times Endry had been asked to visit him, only to find that instead of using his magics to better life for the people, he was using women to his advantage. He should have been banned. Aislin took pitty. Were we all not guilty of these sins though? Was he really that wrong? Or just... Extreme? Perhaps it is the extremes we find revolting. And as we should, for the gods won’t redeem extremists - or at least Endry’s wouldn’t.
"Commander, this man has asked to see you."
Endry was broken from his reveree by ‘Bert. “Yes, man? Who comes?”
The canvas was spread open farther to reveal a man with icy blue eyes.
“Alec! My friend! What news do you bring? I suppose I should perhaps sit down, with all this haste...”
Alec huffed for a moment. Apparently he had been running for a very long while, as he didn’t run out of breath easily. His lungs calmed, finally, after taking a drink of water from his hip flask.
“Commander,” Oh, how it was so easy to fall back into those terms... “As you said, we should be expecting a scouting party from Anglishr. Well, they’re about a half day’s ride from here.”
I suppose I aught to have sat down, Endry thought. Damn, but they’re ahead of schedule. So much for our time scale. “Oh, captain?” he called out to ‘Bert. “Alert the sentries that we’re expecting company a little early. Also, get the men to stop training and start resting up. We’ve got twelve hours on our side, optimistically. Three hour shifts for everyone on fortifications. No man nor peasant shall be left out. However, their training on weaponry shall be stunted until we get this all sorted out.”
He spoke again to Alec. “You, my friend, as always should be commended. However, we do have limited time, and instead must figure out a way to hide Aislin.”
The guard stood guard at the West entrance to the village, his pike slack at his side.
Valindor stood in the shadows of the trees, his tattered cloak camouflaging him into the surroundings, having added a dark green and brown mottled pattern in order to achieve an earthly tint.
Oh, it was so easy. So easy to just shoot the guard from where he was with his crossboW. Dead before he even hit the ground. But no, for what he was intending to do, killing off the guard would be something that would spoil whatever little welcome that he had.
Instead, the vampire waited.
The guard raised his head, closed his eyes and let out a huge yawn.
A streak or green and brown flew out of the bushes, past the guard and into the village - the guardsman that heard the rustling of the bushes would've passed it off as a simple, mundane rabbit. Oh, he was so, so wrong. A rabbit couldn't kill a man in 10 different ways - Valindor could.
In less than a minute the assassin was already outside the tent of Endry. He saw a panting man entering it - and so he connected the dots, realizing that it was the tent of someone important. The vampire had his back to the tent, at the back of it and he eavesdropped on the conversation that took place inside. A scouting party of twenty men. Now, that was a perfect chance for him to show his intentions - that were to help the Blademasrer and the Queen-In-Exile with this little rebellion that they were going to have.
Valindor casually slid around the tent and slipped himself through the entrance, revealing himself to both the Blademaster and his friend. In seconds, a crossbow with a poison-tipped bolt was in his right hand, and a throwing knife was in his left hand. It was the leverage he was going to use. He would announce his title. He knew that his name was spoken throughout the land, and he was sure that this two would know it.
"Now, my name is Valindor. You may know me, you may not. The fact remains, is that I can kill the both of you without batting a single eyelid now, so I suppose you will have to listen to what I want to say."
The man smiled for a moment, a cold smile that was made even scarier when it reached his eyes. It made the prospect of holding two people hostage seem pleasant, forcing them to hear him speak, amusing.
"You speak of a hunting party of how many men? I suppose nothing more than two and a half dozen. Then, are they superstitious? Because one. I am here to join the side of the Queen in her little rebellion, and two. If these men aren't superstitious, I will make sure they are. They will speak of stories to their grandchildren, their children about how the forest in these parts are full of malicious spirits and other ghastly things of dark magic."
“Hold. I can’t say I trust a man who comes into my own encampment and openly threatens my life. How, then, am I to know that you are in fact to follow Empress Aislin? Or is it that you want to get close to her, to assassinate her for her brother? Speak man, and use your words well.” He walked around his desk.
“I realize you are a fast man, but I can’t say I’ve heard of you... or your services. And what are you that you can enter this tent without such as a word from my men?”
Cool, calm and collected. That is all a commander could ever be. That is all Endry Blade could ever show. He eyed the tent flap, still fluttering behind this impossibly fast man. Both guards were alive, if not quite cognizant. “A quandary, indeed.”
“Lord Endry sent me word just this morning, miss Alexandria. We’re to obscond as soon as possible and reach his encampment. I’ll tell you that bit as soon as we sneak out onto the road.” Jonas said.
They had walked toward the center of the city, so as not to spark suspicion, and now they headed to the western wall, ducking through alleyways (and hoping to everything that they weren’t too obvious, but there were many commoners and few guards here) and crossing odd streets to get to their destination. The buildings on this part of town were squat and disorderly, a hodgepodge of different styles of homes, from thatched roofs to adobe style homes, all broken down and in disrepair. There were very few here that had good quality tile and those who did only had at most 90 percent of their roof intact.
Indeed, this was the slum side of the city, unregulated and dangerous both, but at least there were no guards. Jonas took it on good faith that they were all for Empress Aislin, as the Pretender was squandering money worse than any before him.
Here, on this side of town the wall to the city was still in disrepair from the previous war, and at one point there was a point they could escape unnoticed, the guard there were Endry’s own men.
"Because I owe nothing to the Brother of the Queen. In fact, I hate traitors more than anything. Plus, you need help. Your men are outnumbered, after all. Instead of going up against two and a half dozen fresh, battle-ready men, I can leave you with maybe one and a half, close to two dozen shaken, fearful men that would rather go against your blades than enter the forest again. Your choice."
When Valindor was done replying to the Blademaster, he lowered down both of his hands before he swiftly stepped into a comfortable chair away from the blademaster and her friend. He crossed one leg over another, placing the crossbow on his lap and the throwing knife dangling from his other hand casually. He knew that with his unnaturally strength and speed he would still be able to kill them both easily if they attacked him. Not that it was desirable to kill both of them. He wanted to help the Queen get her throne back, after all!
The next part of the Blademaster's reply flared up the light of hope in his mind again. He was getting interested in his offer - Asking him what he was, how he stealthed through the place without even alerting her men. The knife that was spinning in his hand stopped as he pressed his finger against the flat of the blade to disrupt it's motion, and he leaned back into the chair, shaking his head to move his long hair out of his eyes before he smiled and lazily said, "I am a vampire, Blademaster. I stalk the night. Since I was but a baby I learnt to stalk my prey without them even knowing I was there. If you let me join you in this rebellion, I can kill three men from the scouting party without them even realizing first. And then I can wreak confusion and havoc amongst their ranks. I assure you your upcoming fight would be easy. Terribly easy."