"Aww but I could have such fun with you in shackles and chains, don't you agree?" -Mikan, Page 1. Imperium - Anima Aeternum Raen stares at the mercenary duo and growls lowly, his draconic heritage showing as he shakes his head. "You're all fools who will die dishonourable deaths! BELIEVE IT!" He says without a hint of irony or sarcasm as he runs full speed down another path, both of his katana pulled out in an incredible inept fashion as katana are not duel wield weapons of any sort. He dashes down a hall to a dead end and a loud scream is heard emanating from that path. It was obviously the wrong path. Florence then shrugs as he follows along with the mercenaries. "He should have listened to his grandmother and searched for traps." Trom looks up at Florence with confusion. "What?" Florence chuckles. "An old reference, from another time." Aslo's smoke bombs strike the ceiling and disperse into a mist that quickly fills the room. One Skuva falls to the floor, hitting the ground and snapping its neck from the fall. There were sounds of other chitters, and some skittering, though nothing else. Above him as he tried to set the door up, he could hear some skittering through the ceiling, as could the others as the Skuva sped their way to the next room, likely to remain on the ceiling and try to ambush them like their unsuccessful, impatient member attempted to. As Aslo turns away from the door, he hears it fall to the floor again. It seemed that the damage the minotaur had done to it would refuse to allow it to stand again. Florence's eyes scan the ceiling, he had little reaction to everything going on around him. These were motions he had practiced so many times that it was almost child's play to him, despite Trom and Nyla obviously being worried. "Predatorial, pack animals, think akin to wolves. Though they can seem more intelligent if there is a force directing them." Nyla looks back towards the entrance. "Like those voices. Like magic." Florence nods and even cracks a small smile. "Correct." Nyla's face brightens up as she grips her gladius tighter. Florence, finally, looks ahead and focuses on the situation. He narrows his eyes. "Tables? That can't be right..." From what they could see in the hall, the next room was humongous. It likely had large pillars holding up the structure and unlike elsewhere, it seemed well maintained. It was likely a good drilling room for unit-based formations and archery practice, yet, the tables made for no logical purpose. The ceilings were also even higher than those in the previous room, implying that the ceiling was somewhere at the bottom of the Blood Sea floor. Nyla shudders. "I don't like the looks of this." Trom shakes his head. "Shush, we don't have time to worry. Just follow your orders." Florence looks between them and decides not to add anything, instead finally offering tactical advice to the group. "Since your half-blood nitwit had a mental breakdown, my advice is simple." He draws a sharp breath and sheathes his gladius, pulling out one of the two pilum (throwing spear) on his back. "Do not group too closely. A tight formation will likely be abused by some of the more advanced Scuva who are liable to spit acid or other such compounds at us. Do not spread more than a few feet apart. Two close combat, one ranged per group of two to three. If a group is under attack, do not blindly run to help them, watch for incoming ambushes and intercept those instead. Use the tables, walls, and pillars to remove an angle of attack for the Scuva..." He glares at the tables again. "...And assume we're being toyed with. They wouldn't set up cover like that for us and then simply forget to take it down when they saw us here." Rheinfeld - Scheideweg ((Collaborative: Tempest (Taigyn) & Brovo (Alida).)) Laenaia, Zin, and Draza enter the main tent as Taigyn and Alida sit down across from each other and a large table. There, a large map of Rheinfeld and its surrounding, unenforced land claims were present. Notable, there were even a few within the borders of Renalta, though they seemed of no interest to either the Republicans or the Templar. Taigyn quietly clears his throat and points at the map, tapping his finger on Heiligen Stuhl. "There are large walls which will require siege engines to take down. We however don't have access to the resources to produce them en masse soon enough to end this war quickly. Thus, in the interests of cooper--" He is interrupted as Alida brushes his hand aside and glares at him eye to eye. "No, lets not debate strategy until we've agreed on the end goal of this war, which is the real issue." Taigyn settles back into his chair, relief flashing over his face for a moment to have a break from the military banter. "Very well, let us talk of this matter. To what end does the Republic fight for?" "Well." Alida says as she leans back as well, crossing her arms over her plated chest. Around the tent were four torches lit to grant illumination inside, hung on wooden support pillars away from the cloth edges. One of the torches illuminated the cracked, ebony skin across her face, and the firery look in her eyes. One that would likely remind him of someone else he knew, back in Renalta. "Republic. A government ruled by those that the commons wish to be ruled by, with the military serving its proper rule as protectors and public servants, not as rulers." She rolls her fingers across the table, slowly, repeatedly. "Like the Imperium, like Renalta. A kingdom for the people." Taigyn runs his gloved hand back through his hair, his brow knitting and deepening the well of scars pouring from beneath his eyepatch as he looks at her sadly. "Something I wish as well... But the established military of Rheinfeld is birthed of noblemen, privileged men who would not so willingly forsake their claims. For now, we fight together, their outrage calls for the downfall of the ones who fed them on lies and called for the needless slaughter of their countrymen since the founding of our order... That has demanded the blood of our brothers and sisters for any transgression of their supposed word of God." He shakes his head. "But they are still comfortable with their lot in life and, try as I might to break them of it, you see it even with my second the way they treat their inferior. I fear defects the moment they feel this war is over. The dream of the Republic will not be easy to realize." A look of confusion visible spreads over Alida's face. Since the start of the war, there had been little contact between them. This was perhaps the first real attempt at striking a peace accord in the entire conflict. "You... Are much more reasonable than I had anticipated." The drumming of her fingers on the table intensifies for a moment before subsiding to a resting position, though the fiery look in her eyes remained ever burning with idealism. "A woman with blue hair and her lover restored a fantasy kingdom that cherishes its lower orders against the Gods themselves, including our own Father and Mother." Notable, she still spoke of them with reverence, even though she also showed great respect towards those who stood against them. "If a small group of people, including you as I recall, could stand off against the very Gods themselves, surely, with the might of millions, we could achieve anything. Even a Republic. Even if that Republic would cost us in blood." "And it might mean fighting against the very ones we had fought alongside just months before if we do not take steps to try and ease this idea into the minds of the noble class before instituting it. I do not know about you, Alida, but I grow weary of spilling the blood of those I call countrymen already in this civil war. I would hope to prevent from prolonging this brutality if it were in my power." He closes his eye and takes a deep breath, cracking his knuckles in thought. "Yet how can we trust that if the autocrats were given power that they would not simply solidify that power rather than relinquish it?" The ex-Templar says with a sympathetic glare. A strange expression, to be sure. "How can we be certain that there won't be another papacy in power?" "We can't," Taigyn chuckles and leans forward, "We can't trust that this Republic will run as smoothly as we hope it will either. It's a hope that it will work perfectly for the people, but corruption is a funny thing that runs in the hearts of people, though we try to deny it. I would like to back you in the formation of this Republic, Alida. I truly would, it is a cause as noble as the one I followed a Princess to Cradle to see reality. I am just speaking of what may come should I throw my full support behind you without acclimating the upperclass. I do not wish for a new Papacy to rise any more than you do." Bringing her hand up to her forehead and rubbing it in frustration, Alida stares down at the table. "And so we come full circle... Because I cannot budge from my position and you will not budge from yours." With that said, her hand slowly drops back down onto the table. "You supported the queen in her dream, why not the dreams of your own people?" Taigyn clenches his jaw before taking a deep breath, "I want time. Give this peace treaty a chance. Cease fire between our ranks. Give us your support. We'll give you ours. Get your men through our training programs. Let them see that a crusader. A Templar. Is not just about pedigree. Break down the barriers of class between the military, so that your military can pave the way to your Republic." Shaking her head, she slams her hand on the table and looks at the trio of Queen's Blades. "Right... Any suggestions for our predicament?" Meanwhile, Moira looks at Kasim and smiles a little, looking at his charming grin seemed to ease the tension in her shoulders as they continue to follow Davian. They climb to the top of a grassy hill, where the barn was located. The hill itself was fairly steep, almost surprisingly so, not a great place to settle a barn, that was for sure. Moira looks around and notices a few Republican soldiers running to catch up to Davian, narrowing her eyes. "That's not something you see every day." She murmurs as Davian nodded to them, and entered the barn with his weapons unsheathed. It was at that point that Moira stumbled for a moment and reached for her forehead. Rubbing it gently, a sudden gust of wind emanates from the barn and blows them both back a step, Kasim moreso than Moira found that he had nearly been blown off of his feet. "Magic." Moira growls lowly as she looks up to the barn again just in time to notice a Republican soldier being flung past them to what was likely his painful death at the bottom of the hill. It seemed he had been less fortunate than they had been. "A witch? Here?" Moira states with great confusion. She momentarily looks back to Kasim with uncertainty, then bolts up the hill towards the barn where Davian was likely facing whatever creature was there... Alone. Liveria - Heaven's Haven Elrbetrt dashes around the boulder only to hear the shuffling of two pairs of feet moving towards her. One attacks her from in front and she easily manages to block its throwing dagger, from the sounds of its footsteps it was a little larger than she was, akin enough to the orc champion for her to discern that it must have been an orc of some kind. The smell of a second approaching from the flank gave it away despite its attempts to hide its attack, and she ends up locked in a duel with it as her weapon locks against the creature's jagged, uneven blade. It growls at her, its tone distinctively masculine and yet weaker to that of its larger cousins. She could hear the first, small orc, unsheathing another throwing knife. It would be impossible to hold that position, and the only reason she survived was seemingly the pure whimsy of fate and destiny. Meanwhile, Rayvon's charge was met with the ruthless axe of the orcish champion, ending her life. Or, it would have, were it not for the fact that his limbs were slowed, and his attention was drawn between two potential targets. The shining light of the paladin armour showed clearly her weapon burying itself into the orc's flesh at his waist, rending through the chain mail as though it were a mere nuisance and tearing open his gullet in a single, clean swing. Blood sprays out immediately as his intestines roll down to his thighs, and with a single groan of protest, he falls over onto his side, dead. Rayvon, coated in blood no less, had slain the giant, and her life had been saved by a now exhausted looking Mila. Gabriel complies with the command to fall back, and with one burst of his wings, pushes himself backwards with great force away from the orc he was engaged with. Blood seeped from his open wound as he cradled it with his shield bearing arm. A droplet of blood falls from him and lands on Andrea's cheek as the cloudy skies slowly began to open up with rain. Gabriel looks up to the skies and smiles a little as Ceann's arrow passes by him, yet, he heard two arrows shot... Ceann's arrow strikes true despite the rain starting, whistling through the air it hits the orc that Gabriel had been engaged with. The arrowhead buries its way into the skin past the armour, and then explodes, presenting an alarmingly effective weapon as the orc's ribcage is blown outward, along with burned chunklets of his flesh, internal organs, and tissue. One of the ribs lands beside Ceann, steaming, but not burned, as his corpse falls off the cliff's edge and onto the ground below with a ground shaking thud. Still. The first orc archer had managed to get a shot off in the mess, and with a shriek of terror, the possessed orc ran past Rayvon to the motionless corpse of Mila, who had been impaled to the ground by the oversized projectile. Mila is dead, and for those magically inclined, the possessed orc's identity was clear: Princess Helénē. The rain continued to fall as a bit of silence came to the battlefield at the shriek of horror. Even the two half-orcs engaging Elrbetrt hesitated, as the shriek sounded like one of their own, yet, didn't. The possessed orc began to cry over the corpse as the leader's voice rang out into the valley with its familiar, thunderous volume. "ENOUGH!" He glares at Gabriel as he approaches the edge of the cliff, with Elrithos managing to climb to the top. "You are strong. Could kill us. We could kill some of you, but you would kill us." The first archer orc seemed to growl in protest, though was silenced as he was suddenly shoved into a wall with magical force from the leader. "Let us talk." Free Holds - Devil's Children There wasn't much to say of the situation while they changed clothes and got ready. Mikan answered their questions quickly and concisely before they moved out. Aëyr received her answer first: "Aëyr, that's a good question. We'll head back here. Should this place be crawling with guards, then find your way to the nearest mage's guild outpost and get home, and don't worry about me." Mars' question came next, to which Mikan offered only a small, vague smile. "I might be able to arrange that. We'll see how they feel." Quietly, Fahim met them at the entrance of the Inn. As the sun slowly began to set, he led them to the Keep. It towered over them, a four floor tall structure that dwarfed the other buildings, one could more accurately describe it as a small palace, complete with slaves, fountains, slaves, gold, and of course, slaves. The doors were tall and wide, large enough to accompany two elephants standing side by side, it took slaves simply to open and close them. As Fahim reached the entrance with Mikan, he looks at the guards and smiles. "Ah, hello." Mikan was wearing thick, brown robes, while Fahim wore the typical, aristocratic garb. Well, "wore" it, in his own, shapeshifting kind of manner. The guards look between each other, then glance at the group. "Dancer group, obviously. Who is the cloaked one?" Fahim smiles viciously. "My surprise." The guards roll their eyes. "We'll need to see the face of your surprise." Mikan giggles as she pulls her hood back. The description of Mikan that was whispered about in the lands was one with pale skin and green hair, with equally green eyes. Mikan, however, had tanned skin, freckles, a pair of blue eyes, and black hair like that of a crow. A night and day difference, though she had arrived in town with the tanned skin, obviously. With a wink, she presses the rest of her brown robes tightly to her body. Partially to show off her curves, and partially to show that there were no obtrusive, large weapons hidden underneath. The guard chuckle and motions them on inside as Mikan flips her hood back up. One of the guards even looks at Aëyr with a bit of familiarity. "I remember you. Not a lot of your kind got to be hookers." Fahim glares at him. "She ran away, I captured her, she's mine now. If you want a night with her, you'll have to wait until after this is over." The guard raises both of his hands as Fahim intimidated him. "Alright, alright! I didn't mean nothin' by it!" Inside, they were greeted with a humongous room, decorated in brilliant golds, sapphires, and rubies. Enough wealth to outright feed the entirety of Renalta's population for at least five years was sitting in this one room. At the center of the room was a large area with decorative tiles, likely where dancers and other competitions would go down, judging by the fact that there was a blood stain being cleaned from the floor at that very moment by a magician with a mop and bucket. People of all different shapes and sizes were around them, from Tulerian lizardmen to even a couple of Renaltan nobles, though they didn't appear to have slaves with them, only guards. One such noble nods to Fahim as he enters, and Fahim nods back. It seemed that there were Renaltans involved in this operation. Up several golden steps was a throne made out of, auspiciously enough, simple, fine quality wood. Sitting upon it was a man with deep red eyes and short, blonde hair. He was unnervingly attractive. It was very likely a power of his: Should any of them get too close to him alone, he could easily subvert them to his overpowering will. Mikan shudders and looks back to the others, whispering to them. "I've felt this... Before. The... Demon associates I mentioned... Have a very similar aura about them. Though this one seems... More... Magical, less... Less a product of... Whatever it is, demons do. I can resist it. The rest of you should be careful not to get too close." Sympathetically she looks at Aëyr, knowing that throwing weapons were not easy to use at a moderate range in a thick crowd. Closing to a guaranteed kill range however might also prevent her from even using her weapons due to the aura. It was a risk she would have to decide on her own. Looking about the room, Fahim looks to the Queen's Blades and smiles. "The dancing won't begin until they finish selling the best of the slaves. Those deemed beautiful or deadly enough to warrant being wheeled out in cages. It is my guess that there is only three of them left, perhaps four." He glances about the crowds, and motions about the room. To everyone else, it would appear exactly as it looked: A master telling his slaves what to do. "Our dancer here is going to be paired with you, Tivan." He looks at Mars with a charismatic smile, he was already making up identities for them. "Aëyr, feel free to mingle and try to pick up some rumours for me. The closer you are the richer nobles, the better." What he meant by that was anyone's guess, though he likely meant to take her time for now. They would most certainly be on alert now, moreso than with the dance. "And you, my dear... You know what to do, Cynthia." Fahim says with an air of elitism in the tone of his voice as he looked at Abida. "When the dance begins, you can either try to help draw attention to our two dancers here, stop others from sabotaging our dancers' performances, or sabotage the performances of others." Fahim then straightens the collar of his aristocratic vest. "Oh, and whatever you do Aëyr, please... Don't find your other associates. And, remember, I do have money on me obviously, but only enough to purchase... One slave, this time. So if you feel that you want to add to our little repertoire, make sure to keep it... A choice, selection. Yes?" Amazons - The Greatest Hunt ((Go read the OOC.)) The Queen's Blades quickly sniffed out the succubi in the ranks of the Amazons. Esyllt had been stabbed when she went back to the amazon who was impossible to read telepathically. She then promptly went after the princess and failed as Fafnir pinned her down and tore her throat out in a single, violent stroke. Esyllt was quickly healed by Unamo, a young shaman who had been taking interest in the necromancer's arts prior to the violent interruption. Ethlinn then led the Queen's Blades, and Alexandria, out into the jungle, out of the village. Taking with them all the supplies they would request or need, Unamo stuck along to observe Naream and his magical arts, while Tasha and Rashan joined them, impressed at Fafnir's display to the crowd. After traveling for about two hours, they stop in a small clearing where it was obvious that a great assault had taken place: There were several jungle trees that had been taken down, along with a few blood stains, but strangely, no corpses. A few necklaces were scattered across the ground, and they were most certainly amazonian. The princess of the amazons told everyone to wait momentarily as she looked at the scene with utter dismay. Alexandria, on the other hand, agreed for entirely different reasons as she sniffed the air. Though there were many unfamiliar scents, there was one she was all too familiar with: Lycanthrope. There was at least one in the area, and he or she was likely stalking them to try and pick off a straggler. With that said, Tasha and Rashan both took guard positions in the clearing, keeping a lookout for any potential threats while Unamo began drawing shapes into the dirt of the jungle floor. "I'll find them." Unamo says as she hums to herself. There wasn't much to do now except try to get their bearings, investigate the area for clues, look into the lycanthrope threat, and perhaps ask some questions of the surrounding amazons. After all, while they didn't seem to respect their princess, they had gained some level of respect for the Queen's Blades, and might do as they ask.