Lost Hope: Return of Dragon's Talon

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  1. Last Hope
    Forty years ago a group of elites served under the king. The group was originally nameless and thought of themselves merely as the kings swords. Around the fourteenth winter of the fifth king the citizens of the capital started calling them Dragon's Talon after the claws of 'The Beast of Destruction'. It was said that even their weakest member could crush a stone wall with a single thrust of their sword. Dragon's Talon was a legendary group that even surrounding kingdoms feared. Yes, a small group of elite fighters were able to put fear in the hearts of entire kingdoms... or so the rumors say.

    It was the twenty fourth winter of the fifth king when the events of Last Hope took place. Dragon's Talon, for some unknown reason, turned their blades against the king. They appeared at the gates of the capital a little before dawn. The light of the sun had just started to tint the sky and the guards were getting ready to change shifts, it was indeed a prime time to attack. They started by breaking threw the main gate, only opposed by a few weary guards, then split up and started burning buildings, slaying civilians, and wreaking havoc on the capital. Generally speaking they went unopposed. The tired guards from the night shift were in no position to fight, not that they would be anything other than a nuisance anyways, and most of the guards just getting up were still fairly groggy and more than anything confused. Dragon's Talon wasn't just a group of muscle heads, they had a few sharp characters as well. They spread rumors, planted traps, and shouted out false orders. One moment the entirety of the guard was rushing towards the main gate, the next it was to the Capital Building, following that to the west gate, then they were rushing towards the east. Under the confusion the guards started to fight amongst themselves which only added to the devastation.

    Somehow, after everything that took place, Dragon's Talon was forced to retreat. Half the capital was in ruins, thousands of civilians and hundreds of soldiers were slain, burned, or injured, however the people were still able to rejoice. During a time of lost hope, where everyone thought death was the inevitable, the impossible happened, and half the capital was spared.

    After a few hours the king himself made an appearance outside the castle and announced that by some luck Dragon's Talon had been defeated. He made known that all but two members of Dragon's Talon had been found dead and that the last two are believed to be severely injured.

    Six Years Later
    The first Queen sat on her throne with a displeased look on her face. She had yet to be on the thrown for more than a few months and already she had dealt with a handful of huge problems which had been plaguing the Kingdom for a few years. Unfortunately, even after all that she had accomplished, there were many that wanted a King on the throne, and worse yet it seemed that the mistakes made during 'Last Hope' were finally starting to surface. "What's taking them so long?" She mumbled to herself. She was eager to meet the warriors that she personally invited to the castle. Quickly the queen stole a glance at the man standing next to her, curious to see whether he was just as impatient as her however, despite being an old drunk, his years of training and service still effected him and she couldn't get anything from his blank face. Finally her eyes returned to the two large reinforced wooden doors sitting on the opposite side of the room. She had recently been informed that the last of her guests had finally arrived, so where were they?

    The doors slowly started to open and she watched as her hand picked warrior's stepped forwards. A mischievous grin made it's way onto her face as she whispered to the man standing next to her before standing up, "I am the first Queen of the kingdom, I personally thank you for responding to my letter." She started before descending down the stairs in front of her. "I'm sure all of you are wondering why you are here but before I can tell you anything I have to make sure all of you are worthy." The queen stopped about ten pace's away from the line of warriors. She was a young woman, of eighteen winters, and didn't fit the description and rumors that were being passed around about her. She wasn't tall, she wasn't old enough to have much experience ruling a Kingdom, and honestly she didn't look very impressive at all. The queen turned and looked at the older gentleman who remained at the side of her thrown, "I'll let you introduce yourself and decided how to test them."

    "Very well." The man stepped forward, "I'm an ex-member of Dragon's Talon and currently I'm the queens pawn." He said very bluntly before crossing his arms over his chest, "Now then, the queen wants me to test you..." His eyes scanned the room, "Very well. We'll go to the training grounds. Meet me there in an hours. You're dismissed."
    #1 NorwayFOO, Sep 19, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2015
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  2. Inara Cameri
    As soon as Inara had received the letter summoning her to the castle Inara froze. She was wanted at the castle? Why? Sure, the story of her slaughtering the raiders, and continuing to protect her village had spread, but surely the Queen didn't believe the over-exaggerated stories spreading? The stories saying she was some kind of superhero...she thought of just ignoring the letter, thinking it a hoax at first. But she looked closer and saw the seal of the newly crowned Queen upon the letter. "What in the world would she want me for?" she said aloud. She had been glad to have a Queen. Finally, after years of Kings, a woman had risen to the challenge. She had vowed to serve however she could if the chance had arose, and indeed it had. Placing the letter on her bed, she started packing. She would have to pack lightly, it was a long trek to the castle, even on horseback. After she had finished packing, she placed the letter on top, and closed her bag. Wrapping the belt of her sword around her hip, she sheathed her sword. Scrawling a quick note to her neighbor who would come looking for her in the morning, she headed to the town stables.

    Mounting her horse, she looked around. This could possibly be the last time she saw this place...but adventure awaited her, and she eagerly pushed her horse forward to begin the long trek to the castle.

    A week later
    She had long stopped mourning Roran, but the thought of being here brought a pang of sorrow to her heart. If only he had been alive to see this. Shoving the thoughts away, she pushed her way through the crowd. She reached a castle guard and told him who she was and why she was here. Immediately, she was escorted inside, and told to wait in a lounge area until the rest arrived. Surprisingly, she was allowed to keep her weapon. Seems she was needed to be armed. Out of habit, she started practicing her martial arts. She laid her stuff down and went through the motion, attacking an invisible opponent until the door opened. In marched another of the group, she supposed. Wiping her now moist forehead she offered the newcomer a small smile but said nothing. Leaning against the wall, Inara waited.

    Finally, after hours of waiting, it seemed the final member of the invited group arrived. They were immediately summoned before the presence of the queen. The petite woman moved from her position and was the first to exit after the messenger. Eager to see what they had been summoned for, she practically pushed him out of the way to get into the throne room. Her eye took straight to the soldier. He looked confident. Similar to what Roran had described the demeanor of the former Talon. Remembering where she was she brought her gaze to the queen and curtsied deeply, bowing her head. However, this motion seemed unneeded, for as soon as they had entered the queen began to speak.

    "I am the first Queen of the kingdom, I personally thank you for responding to my letter." She started before descending down the stairs in front of her. "I'm sure all of you are wondering why you are here but before I can tell you anything I have to make sure all of you are worthy."

    Inara raised her eyebrow. "Worthy? Why did you summon us if we weren't already..." she thought to herself. But when the ex Dragon Talon member spoke, her eyes widened and a smile spread across her face. This is it.

    After they were dismissed she immediately went to the training grounds. She dropped her pack near the entrance, and placed her sheathed sword near it. Immediately, she picked up a slow jog, to warm up. If a Talon member was going to test them, she'd better be ready. After she had jogged a few laps, she started to stretch, loosening up her muscles. After this, she jogged back to her stuff, put her sword back onto her hip, drew her sword. She went through a series of offensive moves, and then defensive. She even practiced with her left side, as clumsy as it was. She was trying to get her left side up to par with her right...

    Whatever was coming. Whatever they threw at her, she would be ready. Inara was certain of one thing. She was worthy.
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  3. Joycie Mayley

    Joycie knelt over the stirring spring, hands cupping cold water and dousing her face. The light of dawn had already fallen over the empty stretch of plains that surrounded the Lord's City, the rising outline of the keep visible even from her distance. She knew better than to use it as a frame of reference: with a castle of such size, it was as useless a gauge of distance as a pebble or a grain of sand. Other structures, tiny farmhouses and outcropping of village shanties, dotted the horizon, but with the keep dominating the horizon, even they appeared disproportional and warped.

    You were the one that didn't take the road, the ranger thought with wry amusement.

    Taking a moment to fill her two water skins with in the stream, Joycie stood and stretched, taking a deep breath of the chill morning air.

    Many miles to go.

    Halfway through the day, Joycie's trip was waylaid by a pair of burly guards standing watch upon the northern fringe of a small farming village. There could have been no more than five or six houses placed roughly equidistant from a small, stone well, yet they felt the urge to place guards regardless. Already weary and travel-worn, the heat of the noon sun pressing down on her heavily garbed form, Joycie was far from accommodating.

    "I am carry the signed and sealed message of the queen permitting me passage unmolested and without delay," she snapped after being told, once again, that passage to the trail that (eventually) led to the main road was denied to her. "You have no right to accost me here."

    "That's a piece 'o paper," one of the two men blurted. "Can't even read 'alf of what it says - 'oos 'te say m'lady the queen said you 'ould walk through these parts?"

    They were uneducated, untrained farm boys. Only one of the pair had a passable weapon - a short, wooden spear. The other used a cudgel that in a past life might had been better suited to supporting a chair. Their mud-stained tunics hung loose around them, brothers by the looks of them. The larger of the two, the one holding the spear, would easily do her in with one lucky thrust. No, she couldn't fight her way through this, even if it was within her right to.

    "You would defy the queen's command?" Joycie demanded, voice stern. "Very well."

    The smaller of the two glanced towards his brother, unsure of what to do next. He returned the look, offering one last piercing glare at the ranger before him. Fighting the urge to let out a sigh of relief when the pair lowered their weapons, Joycie bowed her head.

    "The queen thanks you for your cooperation."

    Many miles to go...

    -Three Days Later-
    The meeting with the queen had been just that: a meeting the queen. Joycie's assumption that she would act as just about all the nobility did had been, more or less, correct. Dismissive, aloof, disconnected. The man of the Dragon's Talon had possessed thrice her personality, and he had only talked for thirty seconds. Over her allotted hour, Joycie had wandered through what portion of the grounds they had permitted her to, developing a mental image of the castle.

    Once on the open green of the training grounds, the ranger had decided that there would be no point in further examining the keep. Few soldiers drilled in the yard, but that was to be expected: the queen's chosen few were practicing today, proving themselves. What did she have to prove? She had been selected for a reason, and her reputation would more than speak for itself..

    But then, I'm not a noble. Formality is important, but how important?

    How long had it been? Fifteen minutes? Half an hour?

    Calm down. They will come here when they come here. You've made it this far. A little more is nothing to ask.

    Bornaeli Lodiore

    The road stretched onward into the horizon for miles, the sun creeping past its very edge. Already Bornaeli had been traveling for near around five hours, bordering on running late. His head throbbed with pain, his eyes strained as they glanced towards the sun, and his stomach grumbled with hunger almost two days in the making.

    The horse was faring perhaps worse.

    Forced to carry man, armor, and supplies, the loyal beast that now tottered along the path could have been outpaced by a child's jog. Still, Bornaeli was too exhausted and too agitated to bother dismounting. In any case, the castle was hardly another hour's ride away from here: soon, the steady incline would give way to a downward ride straight into the heart of the Lord's City. Hopefully, he would arrive there before exhaustion and hunger claimed him.

    - The Next Day -
    Bornaeli awoke early, well before sunrise. The inn's bed had been a welcome change to sleeping in the saddle, though one night's rest could not undo days of poor treatment and inadequate sleep. Rather than head straight into the castle, as perhaps he should have, he had chosen to wait and arrive the day he would be expected to. Donning a loose tunic and leather breastplate, Bornaeli gathered his equipment, hauled it over his shoulder, and set out.

    The ride to the castle was a short affair. Though watchmen gave him stern glares as he rode, alone, through the streets, Bornaeli paid them no heed. Few would dare to stop the massive, armed man stop his horse, particularly when they failed to outnumber him. With the castle's size dominating the cityscape, it was nearly impossible to gauge his distance to it until he had arrive at the keep's gates. The guards ushered him in without question and he was in.

    As it happened, his early arrival that day had been worth very little: he had been forced to wait for the others to arrive before being allowed to meet the queen. Though while Bornaeli had gone through the motions, used his courtesies, inside he burned with annoyance. Could they not take this as seriously as he had? Sitting in the waiting chamber, appearing awkwardly large for the small wooden chair, the warrior waited.

    And waited.

    And waited.

    Once ushered through alongside a few others, Bornaeli waited patiently through the queen's ministrations and gladly made his way to the training grounds right away. Ignore that he had an hour to explore and familiarize himself with the castle, he had been out of practice for weeks, and he was better spent to using his axe than his words at the moment. His manners were strained at best, chipped away by the bleary pain behind his eyes.

    I made it.

    #3 ze_kraken, Sep 22, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2015
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  4. Redhawk

    "Wow , hey there, Big Bran" The brown haired duelist said right after he had narrowly dodged a swinging fist holding a metal tankard and half filled with cheap beer, splashing it across the wall which Arden later found himself pressing against. He was in a lovely place known simply as Stonewall's Inn, a quaint little hovel in a rather large town only a half a week's journey away from the castle where he were to meet the queen. He had gotten his letter only a few days ago and was making his way there, at his own pace of course. That pace lead him to indulge in some merriment in the local watering holes, performing for the simple folks and wooing the occasional maiden. He had also indulged in betting on a cockerel only a day ago and lost a fair bit of sum that he didn't actually pay right away. Big Bran was the owner of the winning cock and he was an ogre. Not literally of course but Big Bran earned his name as he stood over seven feet in height, towering over average height Redhawk who looked up at Big Bran with shaky smile on his face. "I was going to get you the coin when-" He started but couldn't finish as Big Bran attempted yet another swing which Arden was forced to roll completely away from and to the now open room of the tavern. Everyone in there was watching them, moving tables and chairs as to give the two some more room. Arden even noticed that at one table they were placing bets on the outcome.

    "You squirmy little cheat. You think you could've just scattered off? That you could just sneak out of the ring and not pay a single coin for your loss?" Big Bran said, surprisingly well spoken for someone who looked to have as thick muscles in his neck as he did in his thigh, thought Arden as he kept his distance. Bran dropped the now empty tankard and drew his cleaver from his belt. A literal cleaver as Big Bran worked as a butcher too. Arden let out a groan as he saw the sharpened blade rise. He honestly did not think that Bran would've been in the Stonewall when he entered. Bran must've been out emptying his bladder or something as when Arden had just been getting comfortable, Bran walked in from the back door and gotten himself a drink before they both laid eyes on one another and this whole mess had started.

    "Look, I have the money, I just-" Arden started in a chummy voice, his hands held out non-threateningly as the spurs on his boots jingled as he kept his distance away from Bran. He was interrupted by the brutish man who spat on the floor, just shy of hitting Arden's boot. "Nope. You ain't talking your way out of this one. I am gonna carve you up and if you somehow manage to stay breathing, I am gonna chop you up into little bits and feed you to the pigs" The big man said, swinging the cleaver as a way of demonstration. He was obviously not actually a trained combatant but anyone with good muscle and decent hand-eye coordination could be deadly enough to anyone if he had something sharp in his hand and knew how to use it.

    Arden did not make another attempt to wriggle his way out of it and braced himself, Bran charging at him with cleaver held high to do what it was intended to do, cleave. Like a graceful bull fighter, Redhawk sidestepped out of the way of him and quickly increased the distance between them. Bran charged at him again though more carefully this time as he stopped as soon as Arden sidestepped, swinging his cleaver at him.

    Arden saw that Bran was formidable in his own right but he lacked grace and form and was only swinging the blade with near reckless abandon. He was at the tavern counter where the people had quickly made way for their brawl. Arden grabbed a flagon and quickly quaffed the contents into his mouth, feeling the stinging taste of bitter alcohol on his tongue. He did not swallow though and drew his shining sword, the blade making a faint song as it was released from the sheath. The clashing of metal on metal started to fill the tavern as Arden lightly parried the strikes from Bran, re-directing the short cleaver away from him but Bran was letting out a confident laugh as he pressed on. It wasn't long until the cleaver ran down the blade and stopped at the crossguard where Bran was starting to over power Arden. "You are going to die here, bird shit." he said as he pressed the cleaver down with one hand. They nearly at one wall though, something that Arden had planned on and he used his free hand to grab a candle from its wall mount, ignoring the hot wax burning his fingers and brought the small flame near his lips.

    There was a brief moment of confusion in Bran's eyes as he saw the candle and Arden cave him a strained smile before he began to spit out the contents of his mouth. Hot fire burst between the fighters and sprayed into Bran, sticking to his clothing and hair, the scream of pain following his panicked flailing as he tried to bat the fire off his skin without success. Arden smiled at his work and looked down at the table he had lead them to, where the first betters were staring at the man of fire at a moment's loss for words and action. Arden use that opportunity to scoop up some of the gold coins that they had been pushing between one another as they made their bets. It was when Bran had nearly run into some of the tavern patrons did most finally get a clue to leave the place and Arden used the turmoil to his advantage to make his escape if Bran had any of his mates in the tavern who would then want revenge. He went to the stables where he used his sword to cut the tether that held his horse and quickly mounted, riding out of the town. It was surely time to make haste to the castle now. He looked up at the dim sky, hearing his other companion soaring through the sky above him.

    Arden looked back at the town which was getting further and further away with each passing second but he could faintly see that poor Bran had set the tavern ablaze. This would probably be blamed on him but he couldn't help but think about the tales that the patrons would tell their friends about the duel. Maybe they would start calling him "Arden the Dragon" after his stunt. That thought entertained him as he pushed the mare to her limits towards the castle.

    ~Few days later~
    Arden was not the last to arrive but he had barely paid attention to the other guests. His friend was upon his padded shoulder, a small purple velvet ribbon tied to one of her talons. He had named her Rose and fed her small piece of raw meat which she accepted like most animals who aren't hungry but not full either would do when offered food. He was looking at a tapestry as they were being called for an audience with the queen herself and like one was expected to do in this situation he bowed. He bowed from the hip, making it a grand and somewhat exaggerated gesture before he stood up, Rose expertly staying on him with the bow but did not give her own. She answered to no royal after all.

    Arden listened to the Queen's words and arched his brow at her appearance, his copper eyes darting up and down before the line of guards obscured the view. He only barely paid attention to the other guy who was Dragon finger or something and wanted them to be at the training grounds in an hour. He couldn't help but roll his eyes and was just hoping this would lead to a nice payoff by the end.

    He took a small detour to the training grounds, looking around the corridors that he was allowed in, looking at paintings and tapestries which could fetch a high price to the right buyer he thought to himself. He didn't find much that was pocket sized however so it didn't take him long to get to the training grounds where Rose spread her wings immediately and made flight into the open sky. Arden had expected it but a sudden wing to the face is a sudden wing to the face. He ran his fingers through his hair as he looked around the yard and made note of a few figures.

    Two in particular made his brow arch as it usually did as such a sight. This was the first time he actually studied them as he had seen them in the hall before. The women were both rather short, the paler shorter than the one with notably painted face. Both were in no way unattractive though in their in own way. The archer girl had a wilder quality to her and the pale girl with the unbelievably red lips was more like one who would easily be seen in noble courts if not for the scale vest. He noticed how the pale girl, as she practiced, was having much trouble with her left arm.

    Redhawk decided that he should probably also loosen up and revise some practice methods himself, putting down a travel satchel where his travel provisions and the such were packed and his independently strapped string instrument which he was a bit more careful with. He got to a good area where no one was and drew all five of his small knives, starting to do standard juggling routine for a moment before he slowly closed his eyes. He kept the blades moving for a good while before he had to open his eyes again, putting the blades down before doing some stretches and reached for his rapier and got to a burlap and hey dummy. He didn't do a standard battle dance but began to twirl the sword in his hand like some sort of a performer, going faster and faster and doing cut after cut while keeping the blade dancing in his hand. That was most of his routine, keeping first his hands in constant motion before began to circle the dummy at the same time, looking more and more like a dancer than a combatant and more so when he drew his stiletto knife, turning the burlap into tatters.​
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  5. Nori LightSeer
    Nori had been in the middle of yet another strenuous training session with his father when the messenger arrived holding a letter marked with the seal of the royal family. Nori quickly tugged off his filthy gloves and took the letter. It wasn't uncommon for Nori to receive letters from the Royal family, after all he had known the queen for quite some time, however it wasn't every day that it was marked with the Royal Seal. With quivering hands he broke the small piece of wax and opened the letter. He quickly noticed that it was hand written and signed by the queen herself. After taking a breath to calm his nerves he read the letters content.

    Nori's heart started beating quickly as he neared the end of the letter. This was it, he could finally prove to the world he wasn't useless. He would finally stand by the Queens side. All the training and hard work he had done, all the dangerous missions he had volunteered for, he would finally stand by the queens side as one of the most recognized figures in the castle. He would no longer be a disappointment. After a quick mumble of thanks to the messenger he ran inside and made himself presentable before knocking on the door to his fathers office. When he was let in he ran up to the desk and slapped the letter onto the desk with uncontrollable excitement.

    Nori had been expecting something like a word of praise, or at least a congratulation, but after his father finished reading the letter he looked up and gave Nori a chilling glare.

    "Why are you wasting my time?" His father said under his breath.

    "F-father, I don't understand."

    "You don't understand huh?" He fell silent for a moment while he once again looked over the letter. "Why did you barge into my office to show me this?"

    "It states that I have been hand selected by the queen. She needs a strong warrior that she can trust and asked me to hurry to the castle."

    Nori's father slammed his hand on the table and immediately stood up, "This says nothing! 'Little did I know the small child I played with when I was a little girl would grow into such a powerful warrior.' For all I know that's a formality, the Queen knows you've been training hard, perhaps out of pity for your small size she calls you powerful. Out of all things, you decided to use the bow?! When has anyone in the Royal family requested an archer to be their Guard? 'Things have turned for the worst and I need someone I can trust.' Nori, use your head a little. She's asking for you because you played together when you were younger. Perhaps the queen needs a crying should? You look like a girl, when you show up at parties my guest mention how they didn't know I had a daughter. Perhaps even the Queen has mistaken you for one as well!" His father raised his hand and struck Nori's cheek before roaring "GET OUT!"

    Nori stood where he was with a hand on his cheek and his eyes wide open, stunned for a moment. He quickly gathered himself and walked out. As he was closing the door he could hear his father mumble, "I don't need a daughter." Over all, Nori was crushed. Never the less Nori, without so much as a second thought, mounted his horse and rode to the castle.

    -Ten minutes later-

    Upon arrival Nori was shown to a guest room and he was told to wait for the others. He set his bag down on the bed and unpacked the few changes of cloths he had brought with him and set the letter from the queen on his bedside table before stretching his muscles that had tightened up thanks to his own carelessness. Finally he laid on the bed and let out a sigh. He had been asked to arrive as soon as possible but when he got here he was rushed to a guest room... Which meant he would be staying here for a while. "I eagerly await your arrival, huh..." He mumbled to himself before glancing at the door. "That's fine, patience is a needed quality of any guard. I'll wait an entire week if I have too."

    Just as the words left his mouth the door opened and a head peaked in. It was no one other than the Queen. Seeing her head Nori quickly pushed himself off the bed and stood at attention only to see the displeasure on the queens face. "I haven't seen you for how many years and the first thing you do when you greet me is this?" She grumbles before closing the door behind her, "Please loosen up a little when it's just the two of us, we're still friends aren't we?"

    "O-of course."

    "You don't sound so sure..."


    "Oh well. Anyways, I had asked the messenger to delay the message for two weeks so you would show up at the castle a day ahead of everyone else but apparently the envelope arrived in your hands a day or two earlier than it should have, but that's alright. I invited you here because the kingdom is facing a threat that it currently can't handle. I'm not supposed to say any more than that, I swore to my advisers I wouldn't tell you too much about it until the old drunk- I mean Sir Darvan tested you. Apparently they don't trust my sense of judgement even though I have yet to fail them one time."

    "Who's Sir Darvan exactly?"

    "I met him in a- that doesn't mater. But he used to be part of Dragon's Talon and he's still skilled and still Loyal, that's what matters."

    "I see."

    After that a long and very one sided conversation took place. As usual the Queen spoke and Nori listened. It continued on for a few hours before the Queen was pulled away for another matter and Nori was left alone once more. "I'll prove myself. If I can help the Queen overcome this 'threat' than even Father won't be able to ignore me."

    -Three Days Later-
    Nori, despite being a few days early. Was second to last to show up in the waiting room. He was shown in by one of the maids and without a word he found somewhere to sit, pulled out a knife, and began to sharpen it. He paid absolutely no mind to anyone else in the room other than the occasional glance. It wasn't that Nori didn't want to talk to anyone... he just didn't have anything to say.

    Finally the door opened and they were asked to follow. The sound of footsteps echoed off the wall as they made their way to the throne room. Nori's heart began beating faster and he clenched his fists. He wasn't sure what to expect. He knew something horrible was happening, he knew that most people weren't aloud to know about it. Would they find out about it now? The queen had mentioned something about a test... he had no idea what to expect.

    Finally they were before the colossal doors that lead to the throne room. They were lined up and the door was opened. One by one they entered. When Nori stopped he found himself in between a very pale woman and a man with a bird on his shoulder. This was indeed a very strange group of people. He now understood why the Queens advisers wanted them tested. Without a moments hesitation he bowed before standing at attention ready to hear whatever the Queen had to say.

    The Queen stood up fairly quickly and started talking before descending the stairs. This, above all, was a very odd action. Any Royalty or Noble would stand at the top of the stairs. They wouldn't dare lower themselves to the same level of a group of warriors. Then there was also the problem that they weren't all trusted people in the castle. She got way too close. If any of them had been after her life she could have been in serious danger. Nori's fist tightened but he remained silent. He was taught better than to interrupt the Queen.

    When he was dismissed he bowed once more then found his way back to his room. If he was going to be tested by a former member of dragons talon then he would have to make sure he was prepared. Nori put an extra knife in his belt and boot and strapped five extra arrows to his leg before making his way to the training grounds. Unlike some of the others Nori found a shady spot and sat down. He sighed and closed his eyes. Instead of warming his body up he decided it would be more beneficial to ready his mind. He breathed slowly and imagined swinging his sword, loosing an arrow, dodging a blade, ext.​
    #5 NorwayFOO, Sep 24, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2015
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  6. Aurel, Prince of Chrysos

    Every day without fail since he arrived in the kingdom several years ago, Aurel would train at the castle's grounds. He started his day training horse riding, but he had gone beyond the gates and had returned already, galloping happily to train in mounted archery. Half of his mind was on showing off, as usual, but he truly enjoyed riding. His horse Albrecht was his best friend.

    He immediately noticed unusual activity at the training grounds where he would train in swordsmanship. He recognized Nori's fiery hair from where the latter sat in the shade. Aurel remembered seeing him for the first time a day or two ago and thought he was a lady. Either way, Aurel found Nori beautiful and kind of mysterious, the way he kept to himself.

    He walked on and also saw a man standing by a very familiar burlap dummy-or what was left of it. Aurel often had his one-on-one lessons here so that dummy was relocated. When he was better with a steel sword, Aurel started training with the other soldiers, so that dummy was mostly forgotten if he wasn't training unarmed combat. Aurel noted the man's agile movements and what seems to be a bird? perched on him. He has never seen such fighting style and was impressed.

    He entrusted his horse to one of the stable boys who happened to pass by from the well and walked toward the area closer. He then saw a surprisingly well-built warrior with face paint. Much closer now and with his eyes shielded from sunlight by a hand on his forehead, Aurel could see that she was a woman and seemed quite pensive.

    Not so far ahead was another woman. She was clad in silver armor and was warming up by the looks of it. It made her fair skin even paler. She was quite petite but her grip on her weapon showed familiarity.

    Aurel concluded that something special was about to happen and it wasn't announced at court. Not yet, perhaps. These three warriors and Nori must have been gathered by the queen herself. And for a special reason of course, a quest, maybe. As if he wasn't already excited, he grinned. He could volunteer. It may further improve relations between his home kingdom and this one, but he can somehow learn and train from what looked to be the varied styles of the gathered individuals. He was leaving this year, but he wanted to leave a lasting impression.

    "Greetings, to you all." He said to all of them aloud with a friendly wave. "Rarely do people come to this part of the training grounds, welcome, welcome. I am Aurel of Chrysos." He bowed in the fashion of the local knights, well aware that his accent gave him away as foreign already. He often dropped his title when talking to people outside of court, believing in earning respect over demanding it even though it was deemed unbecoming of him. He quite wanted to ask them directly what was happening, but figured it wasn't the most polite thing to do. "Forgive me if I am trespassing on important matters of state, I just happen to train here everyday."

    The only other time he saw a group of powerful warriors together was three years after he came. The said warriors were later called the Dragon's Talon. Aurel was hidden away for protection at the time, being a symbol of peace between two territories. He had insisted that he was sixteen and had never lost in a fight but it was only when he had come of age did he realize the gravity of the situation and became thankful to those that kept him safe. The current queen was a feisty young woman half the court didn't quite approve of though Aurel thought it was not fair on her part as she had no real chance to show her capabilities yet and he felt somehow the same. If perhaps the time came she needed some good swords then of course he would offer his own. He owes his skill to this kingdom after all.

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  7. Caela Alanesta
    A young woman with bright red hair approached the castle with the letter with the Royal seal clasped tightly in her hands. This was a very unusual sign of nervousness for her. She was normally very stoic, and collected. Except for her hair, no matter how hard she tried, she could not get her hair to cooperate, so she just let it go with brushing it every morning.

    As Caela approached the castle, the guards ordered her to hault and state the reason for her presence. Taking a deep breath to calm herself, Caela handed the guard her letter. Immediately, her horse was taken to the stables, and she was shown to a small room with a small group of people. Not as soon as the doors closed, they opened again and were asked to follow to the throne room. Caela smiled wryly as she followed. As the young woman wearing dragon scales (easily recognized by their gleam and shine) eagerly pushed her way in, Caela scoffed softly. The dragon scale girl would have to learn to control herself.

    It surprised her when the young Queen descended to their level to speak to them, as if she were speaking to her equals. She held back her smile, keeping her face stoic, emotionless with a hard look crossing her eyes. She like this one, she had some guts, and may just have what it takes to rule a kingdom. Nonetheless, she gripped Eithne and Eis a little tighter in case they were needed. A member of this small group could very well be an assassin, and she would try her best to attempt to stop it if it was needed.

    As the soldier told them who he was, a single eyebrow rose, highlighting her vivid green eyes. Dragons Talon, huh? What was he doing still alive? Wouldn't they have been executed for their treason? Her father had barely escaped it, but it was avoided, since it wasn't his fault. Her instincts were on high alert.

    As soon as they were dismissed, Caela started to roam the castle, exploring. Running her hand over the wall as she walked she felt a telltale bump. Stopping, a small smile rose to her face. Her hands explored the bump in the wall, and she found what she was looking for: A button. Pushing it firmly, the bookcase to her right swung open, revealing a hidden passageway. This was too easy, not protected enough. But then again, being a spy in nature, Caela was good at noticing the not easily noticed. She passed through the open bookcase (which ominously shut behind her with a soft thud) into a dark tunnel. She swore softly. She didn't have a light source. Keeping her hand to the wall to the left and proceeded slowly, so she wouldn't trip over anything.

    She followed the tunnel for a few minutes, and it opened obscurely in the training room. As she walked in, a guard noticed her in the weird location and gestured to her to move along. She had arrived right as Prince Aurel started speaking. He introduced himself as only Aurel, but she knew who he was. Her father had taught her all the names of the royals in the entire kingdom. She knew he was a Prince, and the Prince of Chrysos no less.

    Rolling her eyes after his speech, she strode forward as she spoke, giving her a bit of a dramatic entrance. "Oh please. Spare us. I doubt the Queen would let the prince of Chrysos endanger himself on a whim. Plus, I'm pretty sure if she wanted your help, she would have invited you. Now, if you'll forgive my bluntness, get lost." Her slight gaelic accent permeated through the room, as if to question who would dare to speak to a prince like that. Well someone in her line of work naturally didn't behave like one would expect. The only royal who had her respect was the Queen. She was the only one she would truly answer to. She met the prince's eyes, her own vivid green eyes strong as steel. Unconsciously, her hands strayed to the hilts of her daggers. It was a habit formed early in her career as a spy, anyone could jump at you and you had to be ready.
  8. Aurel, Prince of Chrysos

    "Ah, lady Caela. Fiery as ever." Aurel acknowledged the presence of the noblewoman. He knew her family was disgraced and word in the court about her and her family are not particularly pleasant, but he respected her for her skills. That and she was definitely not like most women, apparently. He was a little flustered by the revelation of his title, but he was relieved nonetheless that he didn't have to be the one to establish his true background. He thought it would be too pompous and he wanted nothing more but to make acquaintances and to fight for the queen, and he expected it will come up eventually. He spoke their language well enough if not for his conspicuously lilting accent.

    "Forgive me if my presence intrudes on your business with her Majesty." He bowed to her as is appropriate for high born ladies, although not unfamiliar with her seemingly belligerent demeanor. "I was saying that I often train here at this time and so happened to arrive here while everyone is also present."

    Caela's words confirmed his hypothesis. They really must be on an important mission, since she implied the queen invited them and that it could endanger him. Although there was no mention of this activity among the other courtiers and not even among the generals, they were out in the open, so Aurel couldn't quite figure if the Queen is deliberately keeping this quiet or not. Knowing the Queen's passionate nature, she may well be rallying these warriors for a cause that she didn't trust her advisers with. "I had not known that her Majesty needed help at all when I arrived, and for something dangerous too." Aurel wondered why the Queen would endanger Nori whom she seemed pretty fond of. He glanced at the boy then met Caela's eyes again. "I do not mean to sound impudent but we can let her Majesty decide if I can serve her this way. It is my duty to offer my sword to the Queen who fostered me." He glanced behind him for a moment, searching for his training master. "I could not stray too far from here too, my master might seek me."

  9. Nori LightSeer

    Nori's mind had wandered from his mental exercises to his unappreciative father. For a little while he only sat recalling everything his father had taught him. He could see his fathers wilted lips as he spat each word. It was always simple things, simple mistakes, things like "Straighten out your arm, widen your stance, tighten your grip." would come out of his mouth, but somehow his father made every word sound cruel and unforgiving...

    For a moment Nori tried to remember his father smiling, honestly he would have even settled for a smirk, but such a look never made it on his fathers face, at least not while Nori was around. He was drawn very abruptly from his thoughts by a loud arrogant voice that somehow demanded attention. He had only met Aurel once, but judging by that first encounter he could already tell it was him before even looking. Aurel, the dunce of a prince from Chrysos, was already on Nori's bad side. He started their first conversation with "Pardon, my lady." and no mater how many hints Nori dropped Aurel didn't figure out Nori was actually a guy until he finally had to tell him flat out. Other than being extremely slow, the dunce prince liked to butt into everyone's business and asked overly personal questions... Honestly it wasn't hard to see why Nori thought poorly of Aurel.

    It seemed Nori wasn't the only one who thought poorly of Aurel. A girl with hair about the same shade as his own had walked up to Aurel and already was demanding he leave. It seemed 'Caela', as Aurel called her, already knew Aurel and judging by his actions she seemed to belong to a noble family. He caught Aurel's eyes and instantly looked away. 'Don't tell me he still thinks I'm a girl...' Nori clenched his fists feeling somewhat insulted. Aurel made it very clear, even after finding out Nori was a guy, that he still thought Nori to be beautiful. It was like Aurel thought Nori was lying about his gender... Either way, after passing this test he would be off on his mission and he wouldn't even have to think about the dunce prince.
    #9 NorwayFOO, Oct 8, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2015
  10. Caela and Inara

    Caela observed the princes demeanor as he spoke, raising an eyebrow as he bowed. This was the tradition among noble families, but she was no longer a noble. But if he wanted to observe the etiquette, it was fine by here. She may have overreacted, but she would never admit that. She kept her head high, not moving, just observing. He seemed haughty, prideful, overconfident, and ambitious. But he also seemed to care about his kingdom, and willing to give the newly crowned Queen a chance.

    "I do not mean to sound impudent but we can let her Majesty decide if I can serve her this way. It is my duty to offer my sword to the Queen who fostered me...I could not stray too far from here too, my master might seek me."

    Caela immediately scoffed as she rolled her eyes. "Do you listen? Or do you need everything repeated to understand? If the Queen wanted your service, she would have asked you for your service. No need to offer it if she didn't ask. Plus, I'm sure Chrysos needs its prince. And don't you think the Queen would have reserved the grounds for her team, instead of leaving it open for public use? I doubt she wants this to be a public spectacle." Her voice dripped with sarcasm and indignation. "I dou-" she cut off as a small blade had been pressed to her throat, not threateningly, not intending to use it, just to warn Caela. "That is no way to treat a prince. Apologize." Inara's voice shook slightly with anger. How dare this Caela speak to someone whom she knew to be royal? Didn't she have any respect?

    Caela laughed.
    "Apologize? Me? Not likely." Quick as a fox, Caela had her daggers out. Eithne and Eis quickly knocked the sword away from her neck as she turned to meet the dragon scale armored girl. A snarl played upon her lips. "Never do that again if you want to live." Inara's eyebrow rose. "You think you can take me, young Caela?" she said with a hint of mocking as she twirled her sword at her side. "Let's find out." Immediately Inara launched into a series of attacks, her sword ringing against the younger girls daggers. Caela came to life in this skirmish. Eithne and Eis flashed before her as she parried and attacked with this woman whom she had yet to know the name of. At the mocking tone in her voice, however, Caela's fury ignited. As the sound of blades rang through the air, she started to push her opponent back towards the wall. Inara kept her face neutral, but she was both surprised and impressed with Caela's skill. Even with such an odd choice of weapon, Caela was obviously a master, one to be reckoned with.

    As Inara retreated backward, she realized that she had done something wrong: She had infuriated a fiery temper within the young lady. She had intended it to be just a sparring, a chance to see what she was capable of, but Caela obviously intended it to be a real fight. She saw the fire and the anger burning in the vivid green eyes, and her midnight blue ones showed determination mixed with a bit of confusion. "Do. Not." Caela blocked her opponents blade with Eis, "Underestimate." Eithne slapping her opponents side with the flat of the blade. "Me." She dropped under the swing of her blade and twirld, her leg out. Inara went crashing to the ground as her feet were knocked from under her. Caela sheathed her twin daggers, and walked away, anger still seething. She probably shouldn't have done that, but oh well. What's done is done.

    Inara was very impressed she regained her two feet from under her, and sheathed her unnamed sword.
    "Well done, Caela. I'm Inara, daughter of Roran." she said as she walked off to stretch her now sore muscles. Maybe they should have waited until the test to do this...her side stung where the flat of Caela's blade had stung her. She walked up to the prince. Curtsying shortly, she introduced herself. "I am Inara Cameri, my father, Roran may have known you back in his day. How does the prince of Chrysos appear in the center of the kingdom, so far from his home?" she asked, trying to make conversation.
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  11. Arden finished his exercise with a smooth lunge at the dummy's throat, the fine strong blade digging sharply into the wood. If it had been flesh and bone, the blade would've surely come out the other end and severed the jugular. He withdrew his sword and quickly placed it in the leather scabbard along with the knives he had previously juggled with. He sheathed those except for one, the last one he kept in his hand and twirled it deftly between his ungloved fingers, managing to keep it at a steady and fast pace without even so much as scratching his flesh. He walked around the training area that way until he came across a group of people gathered around eachother, seemingly discussing something until two women, the noble looking one with the red lips and scale armor and another that he had not noticed before but was no less attractive than the other two. Seemingly the only women that were invited were all quite pleasant to the eye...maybe this gig was actually worth staying around for. Arden smiled to himself as he approached the group at a slow pace, witnessing the fight between the women. The one who seemed to favor small knives took the win but through a surprise attack, her opponent unprepared for a serious fight.

    He watched as the loser of the duel stood up and approached a man...or a boy that Arden had just noticed, one with that he recognized as to be probably the prince which surprised him. What in the hell was a royal doing in the training grounds...he wasn't going to be a part of this whole thing...was he? Arden, yet again, thought how this entire thing could lead him somewhere bad as he was rather ill suited to be around with these people...but, then again, he could grab some valuables at some point and leaves these chumps with their trousers down and their fingers firmly up their behinds.

    He approached the woman with the knives as she seemed to have the attitude of someone he could mesh with so he approached her while the paler woman went to the prince. "Nice sweep there" he said as he walked up behind her. "Blade work wasn't half bad either" he added as a bit of a semi-backhanded compliment, tossing the knife in his hand up into the air, reaching to his eyes before falling back into his palm where started to twirl it between his fingers.
    #11 Thieving Goblin, Nov 5, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2015
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  12. ~The Last to Arrive~

    == A few weeks ago==
    A roar of triumph followed by a deafening applause. The tavern was bustling as Baldur slammed the twentieth tankard of potent spirits onto the table, denting the pewter as he stood triumphant over his opponent that was under the table. The tall, blonde man was obviously immensely intoxicated as his cheeks were flushed and his balance wavering before the cheers but his smile was from ear to ear and laughter came easily to him. He waved his hands up, the intoxicated crowd chanting "Baldur, Baldur, Baldur" He was the man of the hour and it called for yet another drink as he grabbed yet another tankard and downed it...and that was the last thing remembered before waking up.

    He smelled stale ale and possibly some vomit as he stood up from the tavern corner, his arm aching after having slept on it. His head was splitting and he did not like the taste that was at the corner of his mouth. By the sound of the cockerel, it was early dawn and it triggered a wave of pain once again in his head. He struggled up onto his feet, using a nearby chair for some support as he made his way to the counter, nearly slumping as he was about to ask for a bucket of cold water and something to eat...if he could hold it down. Before he could utter a word however a courier arrived at the bar, announcing himself all too loudly in Baldur's opinion. "Baldur? Son of Geir? Is he here?" the man asked around, the northerner clutching his head and groaned loudly before he raised his hand up. "Ah, great. I have been looking-" he started but was interrupted as Baldur placed a finger against his lips and went "Sssssssssssh..." and held out his hand, gesturing the courier to sit down and be quiet. Baldur proceeded to sit in silence, rubbing his temples before nearly whispering "What is it?" he asked him, the Courier about to go into introduction but thought better of it and instead handed him the letter from the queen. Baldur glared at it and groaned and pushed it back to the messenger. "Read it to me" he ordered him and after the courier got the envelope open he read it to Baldur at a reasonable volume.

    "Well...guess I should make my way there...eventually" Baldur said right before the contents of his stomach decided that they wanted out and he turned to his side to give it a clear area to go to.

    == Present Day ==
    Charging towards the castle, luscious, newly washed, golden hair billowing after him and riding upon a small and fuzzy horse was the northern warrior. He wasn't sure if he was late or early but he didn't much care, the hooves making the clip clop upon the cobblestone road as he looked upon the castle in the distance. It was a short trip from there to the castle where he stabled his horse and made his way the castle steps. Naturally he was stopped by one of the guards, demanding to know what his purpose was to come so heavily armed to the castle. "My good man. I come here at your own queen's invitation" He said as he tossed the guardsman the letter. "You can try to stop me but I wouldn't advice it as I am Baldur Hrafn the Blackmaine, Son of Geir the Bear. I have probably traversed the frozen tundra and killed a wolf twice your size with nothing but a spear and wearing nothing but furs and leathers. I have been in more brutal travern brawls than you have seen in genuine battle. I will answer the call of your queen and see what glory she may promise but either way, I shall see some glory and battling the queen's guards will have to do if I am to be denied" he said and kept walking, hand upon his sword's hilt as he made his way up to the castle, the guardsman somewhat taken aback and about to attempt to stop the tall warrior but was stopped by his friend. "Don't, if he has the invitation he is allowed to go. Even if he tried anything, there are plenty of guards already inside"

    Baldur was later directed to the training area after he was informed that he was very late but he was given a summary of why they were there. Training with the other warriors that the queen had invited did sound quite promising, test their mettle against his own. He walked faster than his guide as he made his way to the door that lead to the training yard, smacking the door open. "I see others of repute have arrived" He announced as he got to the training yard proper, dropping his pack and began to orginize his gear to end up holding his spear with his sword and shield leaning against a post and an axe at his hip. "Come then if you dare, test yourself against Baldur of the North" he challenged to anyone who could hear.

    Crow heard the man before he saw him, turning his head to see the man arrive in a boisterous tones and a massive smile upon his face. As a performer and a bard himself, Arden had heard something about the man during his travels near the northern borders but he figured that the man was merely an exaggeration but the man was indeed something that the ballad that he had heard about him actual describe, even wearing the black wolf fur cloak.​
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  13. Aurel, Prince of Chrysos

    Startled when the ladies got serious, Aurel was speechless. Obviously, if the queen herself summoned these warriors here, they would have to be the cream of the crop. Even with the split second prologue to a duel that just happened, he could tell that they were more than professional.

    Just when the ladies stopped, he opened his mouth to speak but was interrupted by the entrance of a burly man whose features were distinctly northern. Again, Aurel was impressed. The newcomer seemed to be the type who could tear apart a bear. He challenged the crowd of warriors and Aurel figured he can finally speak.

    "Now, now, everyone. You all must be here waiting for someone." Aurel guessed as much. Maybe the queen. "I suppose it will be in your best interest to keep your weapons sheathed as you do so. A suggestion, really. I shall take my leave as soon as my training master arrives."

  14. Sir Darvan Darvan took his time getting to the training grounds and even when he got there he ended up standing in the shadows watching the group interact. Honestly he wasn't surprised to see the group treating each other more or less as acquaintances, perhaps even obstacles, rather than allies. Then again who could blame them? They hadn't the slightest clue why they were gathered here or the gravity of the situation. Never the less if they managed to pass his test they would all find out sooner rather than later.

    Darvan strode forward with heavy decisive steps, "I see everyone is here. I was beginning to think the great puppy slayer Baldur wasn't going to show up." The words rolled out of the old mans mouth naturally as if he was taking part in an everyday conversation. "I see the kid prince is here as well, and if my ear's didn't deceive me you're willing to join us. Good, I'll let you take the test as well. Perhaps you'll finally be useful." He stopped a few feet from the majority of the group where the two girls had been sparing. His hand rested leasurely on the hilt of his sword and he stood tall before them, "I see the apprentice of the Dragon's Talon wannabe and the traitor noble's daughter are full of spirit." He continued, "I'm rather surprised the circus freak hasn't tried to help himself to any of your pockets yet." Finally Darvan's eyes rested upon Nori, "And as usual you're sitting in the corner. I really don't have much to say to someone who managed to disgrace his family at the age of five."

    Darvan wasn't making any friends but the test had already started. Everyone here knew he was administering the test and they were hopefully smart enough to hold back their anger, at least for the time being. "I'll re-introduce myself, I'm the queens pawn, call me whatever you'd like." A bead of sweat rolled down his forehead but he didn't bother to wipe it. "Most of you here are perhaps among the strongest men and woman in the kingdom but as you can tell I have little to no respect for any of you." His eyes carefully scanned their faces as he continued, "Make me respect you and perhaps you'll get what you came here for."

    Darvan walked to the edge of the training grounds and motioned them to follow, "You'll take a test designed by the trap artist of Dragon's Talon herself. I'm sure this doesn't scare anyone here but it's very possible for an average person to lose their life while taking this test. If you aren't willing to take the risk I suggest you leave now." They walked at a leisurely pace for about fifteen minutes and were nearing the Castle wall when Darvan stopped and motioned to several large stone gates. There were seven in total and though they looked to be well maintained they were obviously quite old. "Once you get inside you'll be led through three different rooms, each room will present you with a different problem. Get through it and you pass my test." Darvan once again scanned faces to give the group a brief second to change their minds and leave. "Very well, the groups will be, Caela and Arden for gate one, Nori and Inara for gate three, and Aurel and Baldur for gate seven. Start whenever you're ready."
    #14 NorwayFOO, Dec 2, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2016
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  15. Aurel, Prince of Chrysos

    Sir Darvan's arrival made Aurel conclude whatever situation these warriors are in may be more serious than it seems. He has no idea what was happening, just that he had to wait for his training master. But if Sir Darvan himself is in charge of the group, it may be possible that his training master was informed beforehand. Aurel wondered briefly if his teacher let him wander in on purpose.

    "Sir Darvan," he bowed in the local custom again, this time, accurately. His lip twitched at being addressed as "kid prince" but he expected as much. Sir Darvan wasn't known for his kindness nor politeness, but for his hardened skill in battle. And to a senior like him, of course Aurel is considered a kid. His training master would taunt him that way sometimes, calling him "boy" or even "young maid" Aurel wondered again if his training master set him up.

    He was pretty much one step behind the group as he had no idea why they were gathered in the first place except for a few guesses from what Caela said. He wanted to thank Inara's defending him earlier but obviously that time has passed. He followed the group to a line of stone gates he had not seen before. He realized that they entered an area that was restricted for sometime, now he knew why.

    A trap artist from the Dragon's Talon? Aurel's eyes widened for a second. If the queen truly needed these people, why would she risk getting them killed? What if some of them did die, what would she do about the depleted numbers? Aurel thought for a moment. Caela is probably right, this is too dangerous. His life wasn't only of value to him, it was also important to his home and this kingdom. If Her Majesty chose this group, that could mean they are of value to her, and him being allowed to participate, Aurel figured that the queen would want them all alive at the end of it. He glanced at Nori for a quick second. The queen can't possibly risk him too.

    They were paired up and Aurel looked at each of the warriors as their names were called. At the very least, Sir Darvan addressed them al by name this time, and even dropped titles. Aurel glanced at Baldur and gave the man a congenial nod.

    "Alright. Best get started." Aurel sighed and smiled, walking off to the stone gate at the end, unsure of what to expect.

    #15 Banana-senpai, Dec 2, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2015
  16. ((Bump, again))
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