Kaustir, Chapter 2

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  1. CHAPTER 2
    The Turbatus Scourge


    "The cunt's gone mad. That's the truth of it." Rojam spat a chicken bone into the campfire. Embers leapt and painted shadows on his wrinkled face. "Happens to all Nocturnes. Eighty, ninety years pass and you've killed so many men and fucked so many woman that it loses meaning. The general's a pretty girl who can suck his cock, and ten thousand sons of Kaustir will go to their deaths for it."

    To his left, Labwons stoked the fire with his shepherd's crook. With night drawing in, the Anima's panther fur was near invisible. "It'll be rebellion."

    "You said that when the saffron ran out," Rojam snorted.

    "Korsh was a great leader. I served with him in the Galgesh Campaign."


    "You've never lifted a sword in your life."

    "On the Sea Beneath I swear it. He kept the Drakens in line. Now Korsch is gone and the Czar's made an enemy of K'Jol. And not just him. Da'haka; Lut Sar. Everyone was in someone's pocket."

    The third man around the campfire, a weasely Nocturne by the name of Noelopan, squinted at a crude drawing of the new general. "I'd like to be in her pocket."


    "She didn't even kill her opponent. She has not shed blood. She is not Kaustiri."

    Noelopan looked up and twitched. "We won't even need no rebellion. Once them Pegulians and Maradosi--"

    "Viridosi! Rojam corrected him.

    "Once they find out we got a wench in charge of the First Army, they'll march through the Chersonese and make us all slaves."


    Rojam tossed the rest of the chicken carcass down. "SHUT THAT FUCKING CAMEL UP!"

    Behind them, the animal was bucking its head and pulling at the leash that bound it to a cactus bush. It was the only camel the trio had not sold in Dorgrad. Its milk was sour - that's what the Ipari quartermaster said. At the time the shepherds had laughed at this. Surely those pale-skinned mine-dwellers were being tight-assed - not giving their workers too much camel milk lest they got ideas above their station. But now... now the trio were starting to believe it too. Perhaps this particular camel was defective.

    The Anima, Labwons, took his shepherds crook and stalked towards the beast. "Quiet!" He struck it hard across the neck, but it only reared up more, padded feet kicking out to keep its master at bay. "Down, damn you!" A second whack was answered by a snap as the leash gave out, weathered through by cactus thorns. The camel broke lose, and with an anxious moan bolted fast into the desert.

    "Stupid bastard!" The three shepherds stood and watched their animal flee. Its direction was random, at times towards the smoke clouds over Dorgrad, at times towards the burning horizon of the magma slopes, and at times towards the Deep Sands were glass mesas glittered. It was blind with panic.

    Rojam broke the silence with a joke. "Looks like we'll have to sell Noelopan when we get to Avarath."

    "Yeah, yeah, very fu--"

    The ground beneath the cactus heaved. A hole tore open, sudden as a blinking eye. Labwons dropped three foot down, and with half his body in darkness gave a harrowing scream. He was wrenched to each side, and around his limbs came other shapes - lengths of ridged bone, slender and absurd. It was as if a carapace flower had closed upon him. The hole was repainted, blood red, and the outline of Labwons erased in mandibles and shadow.

    The other two shepherds fled with his cries in their ears. Like the camel they had no direction, only away, into the night. There was a pulse of magic as Rojam used his advent. His leg muscles swelled to lend him speed.

    "Rojam! No! Don't leave me!" Noelopan yelled as his older friend raced ahead of him, up the slope of a sand dune. For a moment the old man was silhouetted in the stars. Then something hit him from the side. There was a flash of wings, segmented darkness, and Rojam was lifted from the ground and out of sight.

    It happened in a heartbeat.

    Noelopan froze, halfway up the sand dune. The screams of his fellows had been replaced by deadening silence. As if they had never existed. He heard only his breath, racing and uncertain. His eyes were fixed on the sand dune, on the starlit ridge where Rojam had been snatched. But there was nothing.

    The Nocturne looked back to the campfire, which cast its light over a blood-soaked chasm. No sign of Labwons either.

    He glanced left and right.

    He realised the stars had been blocked out.

    He turned.

    He screamed.

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  2. "AGHHHHHHH" Draegal woke up screaming. After catching his breath, he got up and put on his robes. He grabbed his supplies and walked out the inn, after leaving he immediately searched for way onto the rooftops. He instantly found a way up and began to climb. Upon reaching the top he stared at the sunrise, this was the time of day when he liked to gather his thoughts.

    When he tried to meditate, he found that his terrors were the only thing he could think of, so he decided to run and run he did. For four hours he ran on the roof tops with no sense of direction to it, occasionally he stopped to work his other muscles. Had the streets been clear he would have been running through them, but even in the morning the streets were crowded. He watched as merchants set up their stalls, prepared their wares, occasionally fight over stall placements, and haggle for better deals. Their work ethic amused him, how they managed to do yell and shout for all hours of the day meant they deserved at least some respect.

    Without meaning to, he arrived at the Czars palace. The first time he arrived, he merely put it off as an accident, the second time he realized that something was pulling him there. Before putting much thought into it, he decided that he would eat before doing anything else. As he went to pay for his meal, a small dish of eggs and cactus, he found the bottle of dreshnik he had meant to give to the Czar. He quickly paid and began his way back to the palace. Upon reaching the front gates he was stopped by the guards "
    Halt, state your business draken" they said. "My name is Draegal, and I seek an audience with the Czar." After a moment they let him and brought him into what appeared to be a waiting room "The Czar will see you when he's ready, until then you will wait here." As he waited he pulled out the drink and thought to himself as he stared into the liquid. "Is this all I want people to remember me by, alcohol?" As he thought more and more about it he decided that he wanted more, he wanted to help his country, but he wasn't quite sure how "I shall ask the Czar for advice." He muttered.
  3. In the Kaustir Gardens, on the night of the party:

    There was too much testosterone in the garden. Far too much, and all of the attention seemed to be centered on her and well… With all of the alcohol she ingested, all of this tension was adding to her headache. Let them sort everything out, she thought queasily. She rose, smiling sweetly, took a few steps forward, and - perhaps accidentally - puked upon K’jol’s feet. Mixed into the puke, aside from the alcohol, was sloppy lizard curry, grilled dung beetles, and fermented lemons - not a pleasant smelling concoction when it’s been digesting. The woman muttered a faint apology to K’jol and everyone present, then high tailed it to her quarters.

    God, what would the nobles think of her now?


    Amalia fumbled into her bedroom too drunk to see where she placed her feet upon the marble floor. She barely remembered to close her door, and when she turned back to her bed, an empty bottle of Kresnik made her trip and fall.

    Her stomach suddenly gave a mighty lurch and emptied its contents upon her floor and onto her gifts.

    “Ugh. The maids will… They’ll clean it up.”

    Unperturbed, Amalia shakily rose to her feet, a trail of drool and vomit hanging from her lips. She wiped it off with the back of her hand and proceeded to her bed, flopping onto it unceremoniously. She didn’t even bother to get undressed. In seconds, sleep’s enticing arms carried Amalia away into a dream filled with ravishing men who flirted with her, a happy marriage filled with laughter and support, and a bab--

    A frigid breeze hit her face, making her stir and groan. Amalia nestled her cheek further into her pillow and sheets, murmuring sweet nothings to her dream lover. It was the squeak of a chair that made her pause. The atmosphere in her room suddenly didn’t feel right, violated almost, and she sat up.

    A dagger and a dark silhouette lunged at her, pressing her delicate form against the bed via a hand on her throat. Choking, she tried to pry the attacker’s hand away with hers, but the pressure caused her to see stars. Her wound, sustained from the games by the Czar, seared with agony. Amalia’s eyes began to water, tears streaming down her cheeks. She blinked and her second eyelid cleared the tears, but her attacker’s face was obscured by a black hood and shawl. And the dagger - The arm was raised, ready to plunge the sleek blade into her chest and stop her heart.

    She did the only thing she could.

    A fleeting barrier pushed her attacker to the foot of her bed, freeing her throat. An experienced warrior would have fought the enemy, but Amalia backed up into the headboard of her bed and screamed.

    The attacker’s eyes widened in surprise as guards burst into her room, weapons at the ready. Fluid as water, the enemy bounded from her bed, to the floor, and out the window. Upright, she saw her silk curtains fluttering madly from the cool desert breeze. She didn’t remember opening her windows that night.

    Amalia turned to the guards, her heart still pounding and neck crimson from the vice grip. Dazed, she took in the disheveled, drunken look every guard in her room held, and almost burst into tears.

    “This is the protection I get as a general? What sort of guard drinks while they’re on duty?”

    ...No, she didn’t expect something like this to happen once she became general. She expected love, adoration, and respect. But this? This rattled Amalia to her very core. Someone wanted her dead, and the identity of her killer remained a mystery.

    She had her face in her hands and through her fingers, the healer spoke in a ragged, terror stricken voice, “Get me the best soldiers for this expedition. I don’t care who they are, but they’ll be my bodyguards from now on. Is that understood?”

    The guards gave Amalia a bleary eyed look.

    Anger surged quickly, hands balled into fists. “If you don’t follow those orders right now, I’ll personally ensure each and every one of you is impaled on a stake and left to roast in the sun!”

    To her dismay, what she expected to be a full on sprint outside her door turned out to be a lazy saunter from the guards. At least they had the decency to close her door. Heartbroken, Amalia threw herself onto her pillows and sobbed until her chest pleaded for her to stop. Sniffling, she spent the rest of that night with her back against the corner of her room, a broken bottle in one hand, a pillow in the other; her makeshift sword and shield.
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  4. Esteemed General,

    No doubt you will find yourself at the center of chaos as word spreads and people realign their loyalties. But remember, at the center of chaos is the eye of a storm, a place of unusual calm that you must strive to stay within at all times.

    I am most deeply regretful that I will not be able to ease you into your position during your journey to the Deeps, as I am occupied with other matters concerning our state. Know that you will have my full support in your inaugural mission. Prior Generals were chosen for many reasons. However, whether their ability came inborn, from natural genius, or from years beyond counting, our Czar has always chosen them for their potential.

    If you accept that you are an empty vessel right now, you will be filled in no time. I have included proof of my belief in your growth. Do not hesitate to use it if needed.

    Yours most respectfully,
    L. Sar,


    Said letter was wrapped around a dagger that General Amalia might have recognized. Said dagger's tip was bloody, used to scratch words on the letter. Said letter was written on the skin of a scalped, severed hand, which clutched the entire affair, and was delivered early at dawn inside a wooden box lined with velvet, by a Nocturne wearing a mask with similar patterning to the one Lut had donned for the games.
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  5. A swift chuckle came from Takeda as the new General vomited where he stood. "Gentlemen enjoy the rest of your night." he said with a slight bow. He stayed at the party awhile longer, conversing with guests and such, before he gave his final good byes and started to walk out into the quiet desert night. Takeda had reached the front gates before he head a scream that pierced the cool night air. At first he thought it was just one of the party guests being rough with one of the whores. Takeda's eyes widened as he saw a figure leap out of the window of the General's room "Oh no!" he gasped. He took off running and made his way to Amalia's room where he saw two drunken guards shambling down the hall. "Is everything ok?" Takeda eyed the two staggering guards. "Oh yeah she's fffine, sir." one guard replied slurring his words. "Move you fools!" he shoved the idiots aside and ran to the General's room stopping just outside of the door. He knocked "Ma'am it's Takeda are you alright?" He stood there, planted, waiting for her response. After 15 minuets of silence Takeda spoke up "I am right outside the door if you need anything of me." He sat down in chair next to the door and went into to light meditative state, enough for him to get some kind of rest. Tomorrow was going to be a difficult teaching day.
    #5 Tone 6th, Apr 23, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2014
  6. It was hardly past dawn in Avarath, and Rakar was sitting down to breakfast in the barracks cafeteria. It had been a very interesting couple of days with the announcement of the new General. The news was unsettling, but Rakar was glad that it would likely not affect him very much. The new General, Amalia, would lead an expedition to find some fancy divine weapon, and in all likelihood, if the rumors were to be believed, Amalia would be dead long before such a fabled weapon could be found. Even so, he was not assigned to the expedition, which was no surprise to him given his low rank.

    However, it would seem that fate decided it was high time for a promotion.

    As Rakar was eating some lizard curry, his commanding officer barged through the door and marched straight towards him, looking amused.

    "Well Rakar, it's your lucky day. You're finally being promoted."

    Rakar looked both surprised and puzzled as the officer handed him a scroll, which he opened up and read to himself.

    "Effective immediately, Rakar Koden is to report directly to General Amalia for reassignment. As of today, Rakar Koden is charged with protecting the General and aiding in the coming expedition."

    His eyes widened at the news, and his jaw dropped. Why him? What did he do to deserve this? The officer began laughing hysterically, managing just barely to speak.

    "Good luck with that! I'm sure protecting the new General will be lots of fun! HAHAHA!"

    And with that, the officer took his leave. Rakar was still reeling from the news. He was being charged with protecting someone with such incompetence? Normally it would be considered an honor to serve alongside the General, but Amalia was another story entirely. He had watched the tournament, and was not impressed with her at all. She barely managed to hold her weapon, and did nothing noteworthy aside from knocking the Czar on his ass in a moment of panic. The other soldiers in the cafeteria, what few there were at the moment, were looking at him. Many were sneering and chuckling to themselves and amongst each other. It was embarrassing, and Rakar suddenly lost his appetite.

    Show Spoiler
    He stood up, and stormed out of the door. As he did, his Aux Coros walked out from under the table and flew up to perch himself on Rakar's shoulder. Like it or not, he had no choice. Orders were orders. So he went to his barracks, donned his gear, and set out to meet with Amalia.
  7. Theo the Miner

    A rumble - distant enough to not cause any real trouble - made the south western tunnels shake slightly. Minor tremors and such were a natural hazard in the deep, but lately they had left people feeling a lot more uneasy. No one spoke of it, no one acknowledged it, but they felt it and no one knew why. Nonetheless, the miners did what they were told.

    Theo trudged along on the way to another day of work, his hooves making a rhythm that echoed in the long corridor. He was at the front of the group; playing the canary with his Aux, Gaios, flying ahead with his tiny stone wings.

    He reached the branching intersection where they all split off to the different ore deposits and paused, watching everyone carry on past him and disappear into their own little holes in teams of two or three. Theo didn't get a partner at his deposit. The rationale was that he didn't need one, so it was more efficient to put workers elsewhere, but lately he wondered if he should request one, just to feel safer.

    "Problem, beast?" the foreman queried, noticing Theo's hesitation.

    "No, sir." He headed onward. In truth, there was a small problem, and had been for a while. Things really just didn't feel right.

    Gaios perched on Theo's shoulder and gave him a hard look.

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  8. Seiyr

    Colors streaked across the morning sky, bright green, purple and red. Seiyr squinted, waiting for her eyes to adjust from the shadows of the palace. It was early enough to where the streets were silent save for the lone traveler packing up for another long ride through the Golden Sea.

    The air was chilly, a reminder of the previous night. Seiyr tried to remember what she did; attempts to clear the fuzz in her mind were only met in the form of ceaseless pounding.

    She now understood why people abstained from drink.

    The engineer felt naked. Discarded was her black serpentscale livery, replaced with a commoner’s dress. She didn’t want to attract any more attention to Arania’s shop -or herself- than what was necessary.

    Stepping up to the doorway, she slipped in. The familiar scents of various medicinal herbs soothed and repulsed the woman. It reminded her of much more dire times, times that this exact healer worked diligently to save Seiyr’s life. It was the start of a tentative friendship, something the high engineer had no experience in.

    Despite the flood of memories that struck her, Seiyr recalled her distinct lack of time. She knew not when General Amalia and her crew were to depart, and time was of the essence.

    The smell of tea emanated from the upper floor, indicating that her friend was very much awake. Knocking on the counter, the engineer spoke, “Arania, you have a customer. I’m in one piece this time, but that doesn’t mean you get to take your sweet time. I have shit to do.

    Polite enough? Friendly? Yes... the blonde nodded to herself. She believed so.
    #8 heliacalRebirth, Apr 23, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2014

  9. [​IMG]

    Outside the barracks is where the destroyed wooden dummies laid. Sweat dripped down the Draken's face as she panted. He had exerted so much energy in destroying the things like he would an enemy of Kaustir. Hand to hand combat was not quite his forte but it was standard protocol and what else would he do in a dire situation, like losing his weapon? His hand moved over his eyes as he looked over the walls of the barracks, watching vultures in the distance circle. Something nearby was dead or was about to be dead. The esteemed soldier of Kaustir then walked back into the barracks, walking to his quarters before sighing. On the table next to him was a bag filled with cloth wrappings. He took two of the pieces of cloth before wrapping them around each of his hands. A few steps was all it took to reach another table that held his favorite halberd. K'Jol grabbed his weapon before sheathing it upon his back and staring into the glass in front of him.

    In the reflection he spotted another soldier behind him, motioning for the brute himself. A sigh came from K'Jol before he walked up to the soldier, his form towering over the human in front of him.

    "What do you want from me?

    "General Amalia called. She needs the best soldiers for the expedition today."

    "Oh really? I didn't she counted me as one of those?

    "Do not lie to yourself. Everyone around Kaustir knows about you and your reputation. It is not something you can hide."

    K'Jol crossed his arms before nodding. At least his comrade before him actually showed that he was important. The gesture from Amalia in the gardens last night showed otherwise. The bitch had puked all over his feet and he spent all night cleaning in between his toes and getting rid of the gunk. If no one was around he would have killed the weakling on the spot, but that was obviously a bad idea. Everyone would know that he was the one who had slain her, and the Czar would have his head on a platter.

    Not saying another word to the human before him, he walked out of the barracks and headed to the quarters of the general. A hiss came from his Aux U'Sil who sat upon his right shoulder.

  10. The Day After The Party:

    Puffy eyed and sleep deprived, Amalia stayed awake the entire night after the assassination attempt. Even Takeda, the man in charge of training her, was ignored when he so compassionately checked on her. Fearful thoughts of who could be after her skin filled her mind, and for a brief moment she felt like the entire world couldn't be trusted.

    Then the box with the severed hand arrived, and Amalia was shoved back into the world of the living with a whimper.

    Someone was looking after her this time. In a demented and eerie sort of way, but someone was looking after her.

    Despondently, she settled the box on the floor, near the window. Perhaps she subconsciously thought of using it as a deterrence for other would be assassins, but where else would she put a severed hand? By her bed?

    She went through her morning ritual of bathing her face and teeth in a basin filled with water, braiding her hair so it ran down the length of her back, then sat down and planned. Through the night she slowly accepted the fact that as a new female general, there would be... Misshaps. She should have known this, but she wouldn't let something like that get past her again. What she lacked in physical strength and fighting skills could be made up with her brain, if Amalia would stop and consult it every now and then.

    She headed outside - dagger in hand - to ensure everything went smoothly, and was startled to find Takeda waiting for her. The woman, dressed in a loose fitting red saree and shawl, inclined her head at the man and said quietly, "Lets not speak of last night. I'd rather forget it," then gestured for him to follow her out. She said nothing until they were outside in the desert sun.

    By her orders, and no doubt the Czar, a motley assembly of camels and soldiers stood outside the summer palace gates laden with goods for the journey. All bags were required to be light, but there were no shortages of weapons or food. She was relieved that their transportation was here, but it seemed like such a small party.

    "Where are the others?" she asked one of the guards, her Aux Matil resting on her shoulders.

    "They'll be here soon."

    "Soon? I need them here now. We're about to leave."

    "Why the hurry General?" The question was asked with a sneer.

    Amalia fought to keep the bile from her words. Matil gave a silent hiss. "Send messengers at once to gather all the people coming with me. They are to pack their things and run here. Anyone who is late walks on their own, with no help from anyone, not even our camels."

    Maybe it was the sleep deprivation, or perhaps knowledge of the assassination attempt had spread like wildfire. Whatever it was, Amalia's words made the guard hop to, and a handful of messengers sprinted into the city. To those that were already there Amalia said dryly, "Get acquainted. We'll be relying on each other to stay alive."
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    Arania had spent a while talking with Nae, and when he had finally gotten what he wanted, she had been left to herself. Well, so much for that company. She didn't really enjoy being around the troll, either. When she heard rustling the next early morning, she slipped down the stairs, clad in a black robe.

    Her hair was pulled back and into a bun, and over her head was a hood. She shifted her gaze to Seiyr. "Tough night? Are you here to get something for the headache?" She asked curiously as she went looked over to see where those things were. Aha. When Seiyr said that she was busy, she was damn busy. "Despite your hurry, where might you be going? I heard word of General Amalia going on some sort of mission or another."

    Not involved. That was what she aimed for. Maybe she shouldn't have asked the question. But her and Seiyr had a strange connection to each other, and she knew that her... well, friend, would not exploit her. Her Aux didn't alert her with anything either. It just lightly pulsed under her robe like a second heart. On her forehead was the amulet that she always wore for protection against magic. It wasn't useful in any way to physical attacks, but blocking out magic was also a good thing if something went wrong during her experiments. If that happened, she'd be protected from the effects.

    She gathered a few things while she thought, which took her about... thirty seconds. Yes, thirty seconds sharp. She stuffed them in a leather back and tied it, pushing it over to Seiyr.
    "A parting gift. I am aware that Amalia is a healer, but these rare herbs and medicines should provide of at least urgent help without having to use any sort of magic." Arania waited patiently to hear what Seiyr was actually looking for. She wanted to be of as much help as possibly, considering that they were in some kind of strange friendship.
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  12. Rakar and Coros arrived just in time to see the messengers running off from the General. The expedition looked to be just about ready to begin, which surprised Rakar yet again. He had just learned that he was going to be part of the mission, and had no time to properly prepare. Fortunately, it looked like whatever supplies he might need was already gathered and ready to go. He had his armor, his sword, and his trusty shield, so on second thought, maybe it wouldn't be so bad.

    His armor clanked as he walked towards Amalia, announcing his presence. He was a rather enormous Draken, due to the bulk of his muscles and thick plate armor, as well as the large tower shield currently being carried on his back. As he approached the General, he reached up and removed his helmet in order to give a formal greeting. Rakar and Coros, still perched on Rakar's shoulder, both looked her over for a moment, sizing her up. Neither looked impressed. Then, in a deep and slightly raspy voice, Coros spoke.

    "Greetings General. Rakar Koden reporting for duty. We received your orders for reassignment just this morning. Apparently, you feel the need for additional protection, yes?"

    Coros sounded almost as if he was wanting her to correct him, to tell him that this was a mistake and that the orders he was given were false. Rakar simply continued to stare at Amalia silently as he waited for her reply. Both he and Coros shared an expression of mild anxiety as they hoped her reply would release him from his orders to be her guard.
    #12 Kino, Apr 23, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2014

  13. The General's room door opened with a squeak awakening Takeda. Amalia asked him to forget the night before and he nodded in reply. Takeda's eyes adjusted to the bright light of the desert morning. There was a caravan waiting with a few guards and a young man who looked to be from the barracks. It was clear that the guards did not respect their new General. "Why the hurry General?" one of the guards talked back as Amalia gave him a direct order. She eventually spurned the guard into action but Takeda stopped him "Halt!" He turned to Amalia with a stern look and said "Lesson one: The bolder commands the pebbles." With a quick grip Takeda tossed the disrespectful guard from the comfort of his camel and to the hot desert floor. Whoomp The guard lay out flat on his stomach with Takeda's boot digging into his back "This pebble has disrespected you in front of your people and you are just going to let him walk away? No, he must be taught respect and you will be his teacher." the man struggled beneath him. Takeda watched as uncertainty washed over the General's face. "If the bolder wishes to be respected it must command its respect." He left her to devise her own punishment.
    #13 Tone 6th, Apr 24, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2014
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  14. The morning found K’larr in a room adjacent to his sleeping chambers. Curiously enough, the room held access from only one door, skillfully hidden beneath sand-bricks brushed to resemble the natural wall. Within there was a table and chairs, paltry by the standards of the merchant, but artfully carved bronzewood. A decanter of Chersonese wine rested on the table beside two pewter goblets. K’larr was reading by lamp light, the room devoid of any other natural light. Even so, he did not miss the shimmer in the only other object within the room, a full length mirror angled to catch the blaze of light K’larr had lit this morning.

    Parting like hesitant waters, a figure wrapped in brown swaddling stepped through the mirror and into the dimly lit room. Shadows hurled themselves against the walls to compensate for the new guest, none of them catching the spider as it scuttled down his back and across the floor. K’larr’s draken face betrayed no emotion, but he settled forward in his chair before reaching out and pouring two glasses.

    “To wash the taste of Virdosi piss-ale from your palette, Trask.” The merchant offered.

    Taking the glass, the stranger nodded and pulled the wrapping away from his mouth. He swallowed the wine in two gulps, showing as little decorum for the vintage as K’larr assumed he would. Not that it mattered, K’larr wasn’t foolish enough to waste his prized wine here. “Fermented tree sap and sweetpeas,” Trask spat, reaching out and pouring himself another glass, “There is no fire to it.”

    “Thank fortune there was no poison to it as well,” K’larr reminded wryly, “I hear there is a drink in Riven called Teftri, poison to any who are not forest kin.”

    The Kaustiri waved the warning away and pulled out the chair, sitting as his spider aux crept up his body and settled on the table between them. Its many mirrored eyes held K’larr with cold calculation. Sometimes. Just sometimes, the draken ardently wished he had the ability to smash the thing. “It is done,” he finally said, “Hired privateers will deliver the monolith to Wyrm Rock.”

    “Privateers?” K’larr questioned, setting his glass on the table and clacking his claws together, “Not like your employer to utilize such unstable elements.” Trask said nothing and K’larr’s eyes brightened, “Recruiting again, perhaps? He does love his little tests. Still…over something so important you’d think he’d…”

    “Enough,” he said, raising a hand, “We’re not here to debate decisions made. We proceed.”

    “I expected you here yesterday,” K’larr chided, “Viridos did not prove too challenging, did it?” His guest said nothing, and beneath the wrappings it was difficult to ascertain his expression. K’larr shrugged and let it go. “The Czar has chosen a new general.”

    “To think Korsh would be so quickly replaced.”

    “A woman,” K’larr revelead, baring his teeth. With drakens it was always hard to tell if it was in glee or hunger “A healer, I’m told.”

    “Truly?” Ah. And there it was. Disbelief. Shock..and a hint of recognition. It was enough. The draken read from a single word what he might have needed to pay a small fortune to acquire. K’larr bared his teeth again,
    “A healer to lead his armies. Does he seek rebellion?”

    “Maybe,” K’larr shrugged, drawing his richly embroidered robe around his shoulders, “Perhaps he seeks a culling of the disloyal…awaiting them to try their hand at his throne. In any case, she has fortune.” His guest nodded for him to continue, quaffing another glass in the process. “I dispatched a ‘test’ of her abilities. Even Korsh was routinely ambushed in his first few years as general, it’s a Kaustiri tradition.”

    “And?” It was easy to hear an edge of worry when one knew to look for it.

    “Luck is her shield. Lut disposed of the assassin afterward and sent her his hand as a show of good faith. A bit grislier than I’d arrange but there is something theatrical about the dagger still clutched in the hand.” K’larr hissed quietly, chuckling like a snake, “Lut is always a delight.”

    “What of our ends here?” Trask interrupted, swiftly changing the subject “Was the acquisition a success?”

    K’larr reached down to his lap, placing the sandstone tablet on the table almost reverently. The strange writing across it almost seemed to move, crawling, twisting, the burrowing path of a thousand hungry worms. Trask reached out and put his hands on the stone, but before he could pull it towards him, K’larr’s claws snapped forward to dig into unprotected skin. “It has been almost a season since your employer supped with me. I do not appreciate being ignored, not when I’ve invested so heavily.”

    “It is easier to come between a shark and its meal than a merchant and his gold.” Trask said through gritted teeth. Neither of them relinquished their position and rubies leaped up from the points of K'larr's claws and welled around them.

    K’larr scowled, “It is more than that and we both know it.” He released the Kaustiri’s hands and drew them back, lightly licking the flecks of blood from his claws, “Now, you will need another day before you can travel , use your time constructively. I need some skilled hands and tight maws. Although the tablet is mostly illegible, I found something rather interesting.” Turning one claw over, K’larr allowed a drop of blood to fall onto the tablet. The stone reacted immediately, the lines twisting into the rise of mountains, the expanse of desert, and an unmistakable place marked. “Sacrifice to show the way.”

    Trask studied the map for a moment, rubbing his hands and smearing the blood the draken’s claws had left. “How long do we have?”

    K’larr hissed, something between chiding and laughter, “How long would trust the Czar to be blind?” Trask nodded and stood, snatching his glass and draining it.

    “Next time, bring something worth drinking.” He said, placing the glass down on the table and allowing his loathsome aux to crawl up his arm and settle on his back. “One day. Contact your compatriots and I will mine. If the Czar finds you’ve betrayed him your head will not be long for your shoulders.”

    “Ah, the killer has a taste for vintage…how unexpected,” K’larr breathed with a satisfied toothy grin, “Very well. And when you do travel again, give my best to your employer. Tell him he should really visit sometime. There are those here who have not forgotten his face.”

    Trask crossed to the door and paused, “Perhaps as good of a reason as any not to return. Nocturne memories are long and they did not part on the best of terms.”

    “Lut or Lukesh?” K’larr asked innocently, staring at the way the lamplight lit the wine like fire beneath the glass.

    “Both.” Trask answered, and stepped out. K’larr didn’t bother to follow. He knew the killer would find his way from the dwelling without being seen. Standing, he only regarded his reflection a moment in the full length mirror before blowing out the lamp. Long years had given girth where draken like K’jol had gained muscle, but K’larr much preferred to be underestimated. Scooping the tablet up beneath one arm, he returned to his room and re-bricked the entrance. Lut would arrive soon to discuss the next steps and K’larr would eat before that.

    Before leaving his bed chambers, K’larr lay a tentative hand on his chest…feeling the rising rhythm of his heart and hissed satisfaction. How exciting treason had become.
    #14 Jack Shade, Apr 24, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2014
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  15. Seiyr

    The engineer frowned. Was it that obvious that she had a… "tough night"? Batting away the thought, she accepted the bundle, showing her thanks by tossing down a black pouch- the payment for the injured pyrotechnist. It landed with a thud. A very loud thud. Seiyr smiled at she watched Arania's eyes widen, but the expression did not reach her own eyes.

    "I… I need you to join the group headed to Dorgrad." She watched Arania carefully, "I know you aren't one for risk, for fighting. But the entire nation is on the brink of disaster."

    Arania still looked skeptical. Seiyr bit her lip. Making an internal decision, she decided to go on, "Lukesh is being presented with a nation that is consuming itself. We have little time to watch the other two nations, to know what they plan. His decision to choose Amalia as general not only left the woman with thrice the amount of enemies she had before, but a whole people who are watching her, waiting for the bitch to make a fool of herself. This expedition will give people the opportunity to strike. Hell, even the Czar might be after her blood…"

    Seiyr let her words sink in. Looking at the healer, she added softly, "She needs someone to mend her when her protectors fail. Someone she can trust."

    "Will you accept your duty in the name of Kaustir, Arania?"
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  16. [​IMG]

    K'Jol pushed the door of the general's quarters in, seeing no one but one scatterbrained soldier by the name of Braten. The sound of the Draken walking in probably startled him because he dropped the items that he was packing into a bag. The Draken squinted before looking around, and a low growl came from his throat. First the general puked on his feet, and now she was not in the quarters. One day there would be dire consequences for the things that she was doing to him. His eyes fell back on the scrawny soldier before giving a stomp, signaling that he was about to speak.

    "Where is General Amalia?"

    "U-Uh... she and the others went... to the palace gates..."

    "Already? She is more quick-footed than I thought... why are you still here?"

    "As you can s-see, I am p-packing...."

    A sigh came from K'Jol, generating pity for the lowly soldier. There was no way that Braten would ever be promoted or be looked at as strong in the eyes of Kaustir. He quickly shoved the provisions and extra clothing into the bag before placing it upon his shoulder, his hand keeping it secure upon it. K'jol titled his head to the door before heading out. The timid warrior slowly followed behind as the two headed to the palace gates.

    As the two arrived, they laid their eyes upon a congregation of camels and soldiers. Upon closer inspection, the group did not seem that large. Where were the other soldiers of Kaustir? He saw another man with his helmet in his hand speaking to the General. The Draken had never laid his eyes upon him before so he deduced that he was a new soldier. The brute dropped the bag on the ground and he watched Braten pick it up before walking to his own camel. A sigh came from him as one thought came through his mind. 'Do we truly need another weakling coming along upon this expedition... those fornicating in Kaustir should watch who they are mating with. They are making ugly and fragile beings...'

    K'Jol walked up to his general and next to Coros before banging his chest plate with a fist, displaying his attendance and that he would also be going along on the journey. One hand patted the newcomers back before another soldier pulled a camel on his reigns towards him. It was Braten. K'Jol quirked an eyebrow at the boy before shrugging. He mounted the camel before him before turning his attention back to Amalia.

    "First true mission that you shall be going on, hmm? How do you feel? Also, have you got that combat training yet? I can assist with that as well sometime on the journey... hand to hand combat interests you right?"

    A slight grin came upon his face at the thought of her sparring against him. It was apparent that he would not go easy on her if they did train together.

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    Arania was fairly surprised. Leaving Avarath so suddenly. Her mind flashed back to her times in Viridos, wandering the forests, wandering the desert to get all the way to Avarath. She'd been in all those kinds of places, and now, she was wavering, once again. She felt horrible for doing so, but none of this emotion showed on her outside. She stood for a little amount of time to let the things process.

    She'd heard about the new general, well, who hadn't? Even in her closed-off world she got some information. She'd been there some time at the Games, but hadn't actually seen her win. She supposed that the party in question afterwards was what Seiyr had attended.

    Her mind was in a frenzy, could she really leave her life? When she looked up at Seiyr again, she knew that all attempts to say "no" would be futile. And she decided in that moment. In that very moment, she had made her decision. She took a deep breath. The amount of time she'd been standing there... about 15 seconds. That was a new record.

    "... I understand. I'll go with you. I'll pack a few things and then we'll go."
    She said, feeling to make sure her protective amulet was there. When that was done, she packed a kit of herbs, tools and other things for her alchemic healing, along with an extra rope and a knife. On her back she had a bow, the only weapon that she could skillfully use. She'd used it in Viridos, and since then she hadn't even dared to look a the instrument.

    "I will follow as healer, and hope that my power of aiding the soldiers will be efficient. If I have to fight, then that is what I'll do."
    She took the black pouch from the table, emptying the contents into the bag around her waist where she kept her money. Well, she kept it there when she was traveling, tied safely and hard to get to.

    When she was about to leave the shop, she took a little bottle. She placed it in Seiyr's hands.
    "For the headache." She said, a smile dancing on her lips. She had just turned her own life around. It was a bit hard to process, but for now, it didn't matter that much.
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  18. "... I."

    She let that word hang in the air, staring down at the guard that disrespected her. Truthfully, Amalia had no inclination to discipline the man. When it came to respect Amalia wanted to earn it through her positive deeds, not her negative ones. But now Takeda had dragged the public's attention to this affair and she was forced to choose.

    Should the guard be flogged?

    No. Amalia knew what the end of a whip felt like, and this wasn't worthy of such punishment. And as a healer she wouldn't be able to live with herself if she knew she caused another human being unjustified harm.

    A fine then?

    Amalia looked up to see a new face approaching, another Draken dressed from head to talon in full plate armor. And there was K'jol, striding towards her with a lackey. Matil made figure eights in between Amalia's ankles.

    No, that sentence seemed too light now that there were onlookers.

    Perhaps an unconventional punishment was in order.

    Amalia removed her shawl and her saree, revealing an outfit of similar color underneath. Now she wore pants and a sleeveless shirt made out of silk. Despite how calmly she removed her clothing, Amalia's hands were trembling. She had planned to remove her dress when they were in the middle of the desert, away from prying eyes and questions. Spattered all across the top of her shoulder were scars indicative of past whippings. Brutal ones. Matil settled herself on Amalia's shoulder, hiding it with her translucent body.

    The healer threw her garb at the guard and said,

    "You'll wear these for the rest of the week. See how it feels to be a woman in this unforgiving city."

    The onlookers jeered and snickered. The guard looked none too pleased at this treatment, but donned her clothing nonetheless.

    She turned to Rakar then, blinking when it was his Aux who introduced the pair. How peculiar.

    "Yes I do need the added protection. Unless you feel like your life is better suited elsewhere?" Amalia heard the anxiety and didn't take lightly to it. "You'll be riding next to me, so pick a camel and get packing."

    She turned to the other draken she puked on the night before and grimaced. "I feel... fine K'jol. Shaken, but otherwise fine." She rose and straddled her camel, choosing to ignore his grin. "We'll spar when night comes. I'm assuming we'll be traveling for most of the day."

    The General looked at Takaeda and offered a small, hesitant smile. "You'll be right on my other side, won't you?"
    #18 Zen, Apr 25, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2014
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  19. Rakar and Coros paused momentarily after Amalia's reply. It was a loaded question, and she knew it. Answer yes, and he insults her, resulting almost assuredly in punishment. Answer no, and he goes along with her regardless. Before he could answer though, she had already done it for him by instructing him to pick a camel. This, undoubtedly, was a kindness, and one that did not go unnoticed. The small dragon Aux, Coros, replied in a much more confident tone.

    "Very well General. We shall protect you with our life. The Wall is at your command."

    In truth, there really was no better place that he was suited to be right now. He may not be very renowned, but he trusted his own abilities to protect those around him.

    Rakar, who had remained silent the whole time, looked to K'Jol after being patted on the back, giving him an unpleasant look before he turned back towards Amalia and the guard she had just ordered to wear women's clothing. He remained silent, but a smirk cracked his face at the sight. An unusual punishment, but undeniably humiliating. After the situation had been resolved, Rakar hooked his helm to the side of his hip with a small ring on the back of it latched to a hook on his armor, then picked out a strong looking camel, and mounted it.

    His mind was restless, jumping from thought to thought. Was Amalia really as untrained and unskilled and everyone seemed to believe? Was this mission really going to lead them to a Divine weapon? Was K'Jol going to have to find out the hard way that he doesn't like to be touched? All these and more filled his mind as the reality of his situation was sinking in.
    #19 Kino, Apr 25, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2014
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  20. Nils walked casually through the streets of Avarath, pondering the important mission he had been given. With his hood over his head he continued his steady pace until he came to the staging area that was busy with activity. Noticing a guard wearing a woman's clothing Nils smirked and walked past him, Nils looked around at the gathering and noticed several faces that stood out. There was K'joll the draken that was the favorite to win the games, Takeda the calm and deadly swordsman, the mercenary Rakar or "the Wall", and finally general Amalia herself. Brushing past the crowd Nils took off his hood and approached Amalia. Stopping in front of her he looked her up and down before introducing himself. "Greeting general Amalia, I am Nils Maupin. I have been assigned to your expedition by Czar Lukesh himself." A man of few words Nils waited patiently in front of Amalia, Rotter perched on his shoulder sniffed the air and looked at Amalia quizzically, as if to discern whether she was a potential meal or not.
    #20 Dunruffle, Apr 25, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2014
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