Lost Hope: Return of Dragon's Talon

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  1. Lost 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. Everyone had thought death was just around the corner but 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 immediately let it be made known that all but two members of Dragon's Talon had been found dead and that the last two were believed to be severely, even gravely injured.

    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 years. She took down dozens of crime guilds, she had increased the kingdoms GPD by 5%, she signed three new treaties, reorganized the military making them 10% more efficient, and even eliminated an entire faction fighting for control over the kingdom. Despite all this there were many that wanted a King on the throne, and worse yet it seemed that the mistakes made during 'Lost Hope' were finally starting to surface.

    "What's taking them so long?" She mumbled to herself. She was eager to meet those 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 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 individuals stepped forwards. A mischievous grin made it's way onto her face as she whispered to the man standing next to her before slowly rising from her throne, "I am Miya Winterstar, the first Queen of Resthiam, I personally thank you for responding to my letter." She stated before descending down the stairs in front of her. Sure this was an uncommon move for a queen, but she felt looking down on these talented young men and woman would be inappropriate. No, respect was the key to loyalty, she would talk with them at the same level. "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 'guest line'. From this distance it was easy to tell the Queen was just a young girl, perhaps only seventeen or eighteen winters old, and she certainly 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." With that she bowed and returned to her throne.

    "Very well." The grey haired man stepped forward, "I'm an ex-member of Dragon's Talon and currently act as the Queens pawn." His words were very blunt and he didn't seem to care what they thought of him. After all he had just admitted he was part of a group that razed half the capital. The soldier folded his arms after clearing his throat, "Now then, the queen wants me to test you..." His eyes scanned the group, "Very well. We'll go to the training grounds. Meet me there in an hours. You're dismissed."
    #1 NorwayFOO, May 31, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2016
  2. Hildred kept her hood down and her hands clearly out of her pockets as she approached the palace, clutching the letter in hand like some sort of lifeline. It took a pretty penny to be able to be able to properly wash, preparing her hair and clothes for such an important visit where she couldn't simply rush around looking like her usual, grubby self. Hopefully, the respectable appearance will pay off-oop, nope, doesn't look like it, thought Hildred bitterly as the guards immediately walked towards the young girl and prevented her from entering.

    "State your business."

    What an odd question to ask. What if my business was to assassinate the Queen? I could hardly state that. Still, I wouldn't have taken the front entrance if that was the case. Hildred let loose one of her big, wide friendly smiles and gestured to the envelope in her hand without letting them actually hold it. If they get their fingers on this thing and don't decide to give it back, there's no legal way I'd be able to meet the Queen. Hildred made sure they saw it. As one guard reached out to take it, the letter was yanked sharply away from him. "I'm here because the Queen invited me!" she announced cheerily.

    Surprisingly, the guards simply nodded and let her past. It was the next set of guards posted within who frisked her for any weaponry, as if the skin-tight leather suit was suddenly going to conceal a broadsword or something similar. "Whoop, watch those wandering fingers mister, girl like me might get the wrong idea...!" she cooed mid-way, hoping to get a reaction out of the guards. Hildred pouted when they remained as stoic and silent as ever. Realising that the trip was going to be pretty dull if she couldn't muck around with the staff, Hildred folded her arms and slumped her shoulders, pulling a look of dismay. She was ordered into a waiting room with the-...others.

    It wasn't as if Hildred didn't want to make friends, she simply didn't want to be seen lurking around the royal castle by anyone else but the guards and the Queen. Last time I was here, the stories got a bit out of hand, recalled Hildred grimly as she popped her hood up upon entering the room and went to one of the chairs far, far away from everyone else, hidden in the half-gloom next to an ornate pot with a large plant growing out of it. Whilst she waited, she toyed with the envelope in her hand and made it clear she didn't want to talk by pointedly looking away from the group and keeping very much to herself. Black leather, big hood, very reserved body language and mysteriously silent...Hopefully they'll get the idea. Still, Hildred wondered whether she was easily identifiable as Hildred Harlow, thief and assassin extraordinaire, or the Harlow Harlot - depending on when and where they spent most of their time. She was almost certain that she recognised a few of the faces when she walked in, but Hildred was so focused on not looking at anyone that she didn't have a chance to think it over.

    Time passed quickly when Hildred started daydreaming of being a princess in the castle. All of a sudden, she was being ushered to the front of the waiting room to walk into the throne room with the others. Hildred stood at the end of the row, she always liked having an escape route that wasn't flanked by muscular adventurers. Quietly, Hildred lowered her hood and did her best to avoid eye contact with anyone who might've been looking at her - if she wasn't recognisable before, the pale blonde hair and steely blue eyes were a dead giveaway of her identity. The mere thought of being a door's width away from the Queen herself was enough to crack one of her ear-to-ear smiles, and she rocked from heel to toe impatiently, still holding her letter in her hand.

    As Hildred saw the Queen, in person, for the first time in her life...needless to say she was excited. She couldn't stand still, fidgeting with her envelope whilst her attentive gaze seemed to absorb every little detail - from the pale blonde hair to the gold lace on her royal gown. She looked like the sister Hildred never had. Hildred wondered what the Queen had heard of her, and whether her work went un-noticed...evidently, her Highness noticed something else she wouldn't have invited me here. Hildred bowed when the Queen stood; curtseys were frilly and put one's legs in an awkward position. Even in the throne room - especially in the throne room - Hildred never let her guard down. It was in the way she stood, not only restless and fidgety but also curling and uncurling her toes as if she was preparing herself to dive out of the way. Of course, such subtleties would have been difficult to spot without actually looking at the young thief directly, and Hildred was certain everyone was too focused on the queen to notice. Her gaze flicked to the grizzled old man in the corner. Well, almost everyone. She flashed him a little grin and wondered if he caught it before going back to staring at the Queen in awe.

    Her Highness was everything Hildred looked up to - stunningly beautiful, a sharp and practical mind, pushing for action instead of passively watching the world go by, and most importantly she ignored the rumours and kept doing what she had to do for the Kingdom. Given Hildred's line of work, these traits were nothing short of awe-inspiring. What made it even better was when the Queen walked down from her throne and stood, face to face with Hildred; the thief tensed up and stopped fidgeting, her body preparing for an attack that hopefully would never come, whilst her mind reeled at the sheer fact that the queen herself stood in level with someone like her. Hildred saw the Queen as a person for the first time, and she licked her lips uncomfortably and averted her gaze out of shame. Someone of her position is more than human, remember that, she chastised herself sternly.

    WOAHwoahholdonaTEST--Hildred's gaze snapped back up at the Queen's retreating back and then to the old codger who she flashed a saucy little grin at. Suddenly she simultaneously regretted it and had to restrain herself - the grumpy pensioner standing in front of her was an ex-member of the legendary Dragon's Talon, rumoured to be capable of breaking her in half using just his pinky finger. Any messing about with him was a one-way ticket to death's door, so why was Hildred having so much trouble keeping herself from taking on a playful attitude and trying to lighten his stern mood? It was a physical effort, perhaps the only thing that truly held her back was the fact she was still under the gaze of her beloved monarch. She had to behave herself, at least in the Queen's presence.

    When dismissed, Hildred didn't wave to the old man - she waited until his back was turned, bowed her head to the queen and couldn't help but cheerily wave to her too. Her Queen. Her role model. Hildred was still in shock over finally getting to meet her. Once the group had exited the throne room and the doors had shut, Hildred's demeanour shifted suddenly. She clapped her hands together, rubbing them as she pivoted on the spot and peered at the rest of the group before her. Those faces really look familiar...she grinned at them all. "So! Any of you know the way to the training grounds? I could just wander around until I find them, but I'm hoping you lot are of some use."
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  3. Inara Cameri

    Inara had been in the castle for about a week now. She had gotten the letter three weeks ago, but she was close enough to make the journey with ease. She took a few days preparing for what she was sure to be a long adventure; she packed a bag, lightly, but with all the essentials: five changes of clothing (washing or replacing would do well), food to last the week long trip to the castle, three waterskins, a set of extra shoes, and of course, enough coin to last for several months if she spent it wisely. Finally, she strapped on her belt with her sword at her hip, and placed her back holster for her daggers and strapped it in place. Pulling her pack over her shoulder, she stepped out the door, glancing back at the small dwelling she had called home for the past few years. Her neighbors would look after the property, and maybe let people stay for a small wage. Walking up to Amethyst, her loyal steed that has served her well the past few years as well, Inara strapped her pack to the end of the saddle, made sure the girth was tight, and swung up into the saddle. Setting out at a leisurely pace, Inara didn't look back.

    She had reached the Castle within a week and a half. She made sure Amethyst was properly taken care of, and with a pat and a kiss to the snout, Inara was shown to her room, and accorded every coutesy. She smiled at the sight of a large bath, where she immediately asked a servant to draw a hot bath for her. While she was waiting for the bath, she walked to the window and looked out over the courtyard boasting several small marketplaces, and much more. She sighed. Roran would have loved this. She had stopped mourning him a long time ago, but nothing would make it go completely away.

    She had been wandering and exploring the castle for a week, and had come very loosely aware of where the important places were located. She had gotten her food from the market, and it was exquisite. She was just getting out of the hot bath for the morning when the summons came. Within ten minutes, she was ready. She had purchased a modest, yet appropriate outfit for the occasion, ( [​IMG]
    ) and had strapped her sword to her hip, out of habit. When she realized it was probably not going to be allowed in the throne room, she was surprised the guards allowed it. She was so excited, she was practically shaking. Taking a breath to calm her nerves, she rushed to the head of the line, passing a very ambiguous character with a cloak over her head. Eyebrows furrowing, she kept a cautious eye on the figure, and was surprised to see a vaguely familiar face emerge as the woman removed the hood, although she couldn't quite place the name.

    As the doors to the throne room opened, however, Inara changed her focus immediately, her eyes settled on the young woman who had summoned them. This was the Queen! Inara curtsied deeply. Afterwards, with eager and curious eyes, Inara observed the easy smile that came to her majesty's face, practically lighting the room. She had long, gorgeous blonde hair, the bluest eyes she had ever seen, and a long gown that stopped just short of the floor. She was young. Very young. Younger than Inara had been led to believe, and it made all the accomplishments within her short reign thus far even more astonishing. As her majesty descended the steps to become level to them, she stiffened in shock; to place herself in danger like this? She didn't know these people, one of them could be an assassin! Out of habit, her left hand strayed to the hilt of Obsidian, her sword. Halfway there, she realized she could be also be assumed a threat if she took such a stance, and forced her hand back, tense and ready to move if anyone dared to make a move against the queen. "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's brow raised slightly, but then her brows rose even more as her majesty bowed to them. What? She was utterly confused by how Her Majesty thought they were worthy of this? She shouldn't bow to anyone!

    Her thoughts were interrupted by the gruff gentleman she had introduced. "I'm an ex-member of Dragon's Talon...." Her jaw dropped. Dragon's Talon? Did he know Roran? Her excitement showed once more in her eyes, and the fact that she couldn't stand still; she was constantly shifting her weight. Many would take it as being prepared to strike, but it was just restless energy she couldn't afford to express at the moment. "We'll go to the training grounds. Meet me there in an hours. You're dismissed."" Inara nodded and curtsied to Her Majesty once more, careful not to meet her eyes, though she wanted to, and hoped to have private audience later on. She made to leave the room, but the cloaked woman so rudely addressed the rest of them, in the presence of her Majesty! Scowling, Inara nodded. "I believe it's this way, ma'am." she said. As soon as they were out the door, she turned and gave the cloaked woman directions to the training grounds. She had to go back to her rooms for a minute.

    If they were going for a test, she needed more supplies. She assumed it would likely test physical stuff. She made it back to her rooms, donned her training cloths, and settled her dragon scale armor atop of it, laced her boots on, placed her daggers in the holsters on her back, and laced a waterskin to her belt. She was prepared. She made her way to the training grounds with half an hour to spare, and began to warm up. She jogged around the arena a few times, and began to stretch. When she was warmed out, she unsheathed Obsidian and ran through several motions. Satisfied, she sheathed her sword, and walked over to lean against the wall, her posture welcoming to others to come approach her. She noticed the cloaked woman, met her eyes, and recognition suddenly filled Inara's eyes. This was Hildred, the infamous thief. But Inara had always ignored the rumors surrounding the woman, as she had never met her in person. Instead of scowling, ruby red lips pulled up in a genuine smile, and Inara moved to approach her.
    #3 Bitterblue, Jun 1, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2016
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  4. Pillars obscured the stairs on either side of the entrance to the throne room. These stairs lead to a small mezzanine that led to a few rooms that were often used for meetings. In one such room, the crown prince of Chrysos was having an argument with his guardian.

    "Look, I'm not the one who decided that I won't have sword training today." Prince Aurel's hands were on his waist and he shifted his weight, his full armor clanking. "I went, alright? I was not skipping. But the training grounds we typically use is off limits today or something. It seems as though Queen Miya herself ordered it. That is what I was told."

    His guardian closed his eyes and bit his thin lips, heaving a heavy sigh. Aurel chuckled, amused that he was certainly annoying the often sleepy looking Han Young. "Well I did look for my training master but he wasn't around. Also, I probably should not have used my horse on the other training grounds but it's done, I can't take it back." Aurel explained with a shrug as he leaned to a half-seated position on a table and watched Han Young massage his temples. "Maybe the young queen has plans. There's no word from the court so my conjecture is that it's not a state affair nor an event."

    Han Young had just returned from a full day's trip to buy a few magic-related tools when he found Prince Aurel on horseback in one of the training grounds. Although Han Young had noticed that the prince's riding has significantly improved, it would not pardon the fact that Aurel was riding where he wasn't supposed to.

    They were interrupted by sounds coming from the throne room. The creaking of the large double doors, footsteps and what was most likely the queen's voice. Their heads turned to the door and then to each other. Han Young tilted his head in question.

    "I don't know, but I did say I think little miss queen is up to something." Aurel straightened up and went to open the door. "Come on." He urged Han Young in a whisper.

    They were already at the foot of the stairs when they saw Queen Miya bow to her guests. Aurel was surprised and he looked at Han Young who shrugged. The mage's brows furrowed. Aurel and Han Young looked closely at the people lined up in front of the queen. From where they stood on the stairs near the entrance, they couldn't be seen and they couldn't see the faces of the guests.

    They recognized Nori Lightseer by the long orange hair. Aurel has always been intrigued by the sulky looking boy. Like many, he once thought Nori was a lady but he learned from the crowds about the Lightseer clan kid who had no magical ability. There was a petite woman in a modest gown, a distinct looking sword strapped to her waist. Aurel recognized her as the guest who came several days ago. He'd seen her wandering when he was training but wasn't able to find her when he was free. The talk among the stable boys was that she took down some raiders in the nearby towns once, but Aurel couldn't quite see it in her. Aurel and Han Young didn't recognize the hulking figure of the warrior but guessed he was from the northern regions, based on the fair hair and the material of his clothes. Perhaps he was from a town that was harsher than Han Young's home. The woman in a black and red mage garb caught Aurel's eye. Han Young on the other hand was observing the one in a cloak. Han Young guessed she was of a dishonest background, also with the way she stood.

    The old armored man beside the queen spoke, his voice somewhat familiar. The mention of "ex-member of Dragon's Talon" made Aurel and Han Young exchange surprised looks. They first came to Resthain a few years ago, but there were still whispers about the formidable group. In fact, there were some people from Chrysos who heard of such a group but assumed it to be a bard's tale. "Something big is happening, Han Young. I must know. This is not my kingdom but it's a second home to me now and I can't just leave the queen alone." Aurel whispered, though he knew Han Young would not approve anyway. He didn't need to see the look of disapproval that Han Young had.

    When the guests turned, Han Young gasped, making Aurel wince in surprise. "What?" he mouthed. Han Young pointed to three guests and shook his head as he shrugged. He then pointed to the darkly dressed mage woman, with a hand to his chest and nodding.

    "You...know her?" Aurel followed Han Young's gaze and couldn't help but linger. Hers was the most beautiful face he has ever seen, the type that seemed like an illusion. He barely noticed that Han Young was nodding.

    It was absolutely surprising to Han Young that he would meet his fellow former student of the White Dragon priests at such a place. She may have grown into a austere looking young woman but Han Young still saw the child he practiced healing magic with, the girl who was so bad at potions. Now he too, wanted to know what the queen was up to.

    When the doors were closed, Aurel and Han Young revealed themselves. "Your Majesty." Aurel greeted as he and Han Young bowed in the ways of Resthain. "Forgive us, we were in the meeting rooms just now and we couldn't help but overhear. If it was intended to be kept hidden, I shall keep quiet about it. But may I ask what is happening? It seems not a lot of the servants know, nor the other lords and ladies." Aurel spoke in his strong lilting accent as he glanced nervously at the queen and the knight. Han Young nodded, holding up four fingers, pointing to three and shrugging. He pointed to the fourth and nodded excitedly, messing his long silver hair. It was quite unusual to see him eager about something so Aurel guessed that the lady Han Young recognized was important to him. "Also, Master Haeryongdo seems to have recognized one of your guests. Well, we both know young Lightseer but he's talking about the mage. He'd like to speak with her if your Majesty permits."

    Han Young was glad that despite Aurel's easygoing personality, he was perceptive enough to know how to handle such things. He nodded and patted Aurel's shoulder thankfully, bowing once more. Aurel always gave the queen the respect that she deserved despite the talks of her being just a kid. He believed that she was fully capable and had a good head on her shoulders after getting to know her a little. But he was dying to know what she was up to, in case he can help.

    "And I'd like to see what happens in the training grounds." Aurel bowed too. Han Young quickly turned to him, looking shocked that he would blatantly ask it of her. "Only if your Majesty allows, of course."
    #4 Banana-senpai, Jun 2, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2016
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  5. Torgeir fidgeted irritably as he waited in the antechamber. He had been prepared to wait, the more someone was willing to pay him the more they made him wait. However he had been here for most of the day now and his patience was wearing thin, he could feel his temper bubbling away just below the surface. If the invitation had been from anyone other than Queen he probably would have stormed out in disgust by now. Having spent the last few days lodged in the capitol city had put him in a sour mood before he had even arrived at the castle. He hated spending time in the capitol city, there was a certain griminess underfoot about the place that got to him. Unfortunately he had needed to spend a day and far more money than he cared for to make himself look somewhat presentable for an audience with the monarch lest he be refused entry for looking like a vagrant.

    Grunting he pulled himself up in the chair he was slouched in and reaching down picked up the sword that lay on the floor next to him. Pulling the blade an inch out of the scabbard he idly tested the edge with his thumb while he looked round the room. People had been coming and going all day and he had paid them little attention but now there was only a handful of people left in the room and his eyes flicked between them as he weighed each individual up. While he was mostly nonplussed abut what he saw he noted the unlike the other flunkies that had been through the room today most of the people with him now, like him, had kept their weapons with them. Torgeir didn't spend anytime pondering this little mystery as his gaze returned to a small hooded figure half shielded by a plant. While Torgeir had been watching her she had glanced up from under her hood, the face that was briefly exposed had struck a chord with him and he busied himself trying to fit a name to the face he was certain he'd seen before.

    His train of thoughts was brought to an abrupt end when small man tapped him on the shoulder and asked him to move through to the throne room. Glancing round the room again Torgeir saw a couple of his compatriots already lining up in front of connecting doorway. After heaving himself out of the chair he paused only to shoulder his pack and pick up his sword before letting the little man usher him into line. Upon seeing the queen Torgeir was aware or a ripple of activity from the people either side of him whilst he simply nodded his head slightly. It wasn't that he didn't like the queen, her aim of dismantling the criminal guilds that had been rife across the kingdom had put a fair bit of coin in his pockets. It was just that it seemed strange to him to chose a ruler for being born rather than by virtue of their deed as was the way back on the Isles. As the queen descended the steps from the throne and walked towards the assembled he made sure that his face didn't betray his surprise at the queens approach or her youth as she cast her eyes along the line. He got the distinct feeling of being weighed up and wasn't surprised when she turned to what was probably her bodyguard and ordered that he test them.

    While the old soldier spoke briefly the few word he did say caused Torgeir to feel excitement for the first time in weeks. Tales of the Dragons Talon had dribbled back to the Isles when he had been growing up. Their prowess for battle was legendary and as such they were held in awe by many of the islanders for whom skill at arms was a virtue above all else. Now he would have the honor to test himself against one of these fabled warriors, even if time seemed to have been somewhat cruel to the man. After the group was dismissed Torgeir milled around aimlessly unsure where to go until he over heard a one of the group giving directions to the girl with the face he was sure now he knew and went to catch up with her as she departed the throne room.

    "you know, some one offered to pay me to kill you once" Torgeir said convivially, "fortunately they thought your life very cheap Miss Harlow."
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  6. Eleanor the Enchanting
    Eleanor exhaled softly. She calmly leaped from her perch on her ice giant raven construct. She faced the guards in front of her and rose a perfect sculpted brow. Eleanor tried to ignore the way everyone was looking at her, but try as she might, she felt the first signs of a blush. Her Duchess Mother Grimhilde the Corrupt had searched for the proper spell to erase Eleanor's "endearing" shyness when the tales of her hiding behind her half-sister at court reached her ears. When she found no spell that specifically removed shyness, she taught Eleanor to show nothing at all.

    Duchess Grimhilde was always Duchess first, before Mother. Always.

    She ignored the stammering guards for one moment as she turned to her construct. She gave a small smile and dispelled the spell construct. There was a wave of cold air and turned to the guards with indifference honed from the royal courts back in Amphara. "The queen sent for me...?" she spoke, her sentence had turned to a question more of a statement. She inwardly cursed her shyness. But the guards stood straighter and allowed her passage. Eleanor nodded her thanks and quickly but unhurried walked towards the palace. She was here now despite how she hated being away from the cold weather of the Whispering Mountains.

    At this point, she'd do anything to keep away from her King. The King and her potential Marriage prospects. Yuck.


    Eleanor had rested in her expansive room and when she first saw it, she rose a fine brow in reaction. The room was larger than her own suites in her own home and the one in Amphara Capital Castle. The Queen was either very generous or just plain showing off. She frowned, ignoring the maid that was fidgeting behind her. She really didn't need something this large. She frowned confused at the room, what was she supposed to do with this space? It wasn't like she was going to move in.

    Another stray thought caught her attention away from the massive room. What was the name of the Queen again? Mara? Maya? She glanced at the envelope and made a small sound of remembrance. Right, Queen Mira Winterstar. The one Duchess Mother scoffed at, but then again, Duchess Grimhilde always scoffed at all women younger (and prettier than her). She turned to the maid and instructed her to collect her when she was needed.

    Which apparently wasn't that long, she had managed to bathe and change from her filthy black and red robes to the identical black and red robes she had brought along. She would have brought her more...elegant robes but then again, the Queen needed her for a mission. She didn't need another noble. Ruffling her nose in habit, she was horrible as Lady Eleanor the noble anyway. Well, not that bad really as long as the topic of marriage never came up. She blinked up as she realized that walked into the royal court rooms without realizing it. She adjusted her the halberd strapped to her back and glanced around, focusing on the bright orange hair of a girl to the left. She was fascinated. They didn't have hair like that in Amphara. But she schooled her face to blankness as she noticed that the others were also checking her out. She huddled closer to the wall despite the fact it would make her look weaker. Her shyness was going to be her death. Politically and figuratively.

    Her attention got captured at the cloaked figure that slipped in. Eleanor's bright red eyes widened once she realized who she was. Hildred Harlow. The Harlow's were the type that Grimhilde would associate with and butcher for her potions a few moons later. That and because her all her best dresses were made by the Harlow's. They were that good, it was such a shame Eleanor didn't bring any of those dresses, but she was fleeing for her none wedded life. Also, Hildred Harlow had a hit order in Amphara when Crown Princess Aracelia's favourite diamond pendant was stolen. Everyone assumed it was Hildred. But vindictively, Eleanor couldn't care if she did. Her sister's tears were beautiful to see. Eleanor was thankful for her inexpressiveness, else she would have gleefully have laughed at her sister's distraught face and would have probably been flogged, executed or worse, her title as Battle Mage stripped.

    Darker thoughts aside, she looked back at the Queen addressing them and her eyes widened when she came down the steps and after her little spiel, she bowed. BOWED. Nobles don't bow to anyone but the royals, and the Royals NEVER bow. To anyone. This was the status quo, but here was a Queen who did. Eleanor's eyes narrowed in thought. The others don't seem to realize the importance of a royal bowing to mere commoners (--in her case, noble-slash-royal bastard) but it wasn't the act that made her think. No, the question she was asking was WHY. If the Queen was desperate enough to hire them then there must be a greater importance. This test... she paused as everyone broke from the formation that they had shifted to once the Queen spoke unconsciously. She didn't even realized she had moved.

    She glared in the direction of the Queen. What charisma this youth had. She only moved like this with two people. Her mother, more out of fear than anything else and her sister, hate-love her but she could not deny the unspoken charisma that woman had. She hate-loved those with charisma. Their honeyed words and collective unspoken pulls always made Eleanor sigh. The things she had done for her sister without her sister even asking anything was something she did not remember in fondness. That and this young Queen was as charismatic as her sister, it was dangerous. She grinned savagely inwardly. She did love a good challenge. Why, the Queen might ask her not to go home for months. Wouldn't that be such a shame. To NOT wed as father; the King, had asked. Such a shame indeed...

    When the other's began filing out, she curtsied at the Queen. She thought she saw movements in the pillar but shook her head. She didn't know anyone here really. She was far away from home after all. Thank the Dragons.

    She walked quickly to catch up to the group that left. She heard the question Hildred threw and frowned. Well, it looks like Hildred will not hide what she was. Laying all the cards at the table was bad strategy. Or at least, that was what her pseudo-brother told her as they were playing a ridiculous card game called Old Fish or something equally as strange. But Eleanor smiled at the girl, she wouldn't begrudge her the strategies that worked for her.

    The giant of a man spoke gruffly and Eleanor didn't appreciate his comment any more than her mother's constructive criticism. "No life is cheap, warrior." She spat the group coldly, speaking for the first time. She hated it when they measure life with a few gold coins. Life was immeasurable. Eleanor turned her blood red eyes to look at him coldly. She looked at him fully for the first time, he looked familiar but the name didn't come as quickly as it should. She looked away with a sneer and well, their gaze also made her look away, feeling suddenly shy. "I understand the need to eat, but no life comes cheap." She told him, not meeting anyone's eyes, embarrassed for speaking out of turn. "Life shouldn't be cheap." She added for good measure.

    Eleanor raised her head and walked a bit ahead. She hadn't even been with them than a few minutes but she's already broken character. Cold. You are cold like ice, Eleanor. She repeated in her head, a mantra her mother drilled into her. She repeated it whilst walking in front with her head held high. You are ice. Ice.
    #6 Boss Megu, Jun 3, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2016
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  7. Caela Alanesta

    Fire glowed in the pitch darkness as the young figure moved down the secret passageway leading who knows where. Lifting her flaming dagger, the young lady took step after hesitant silent step, being careful to keep her footing. Caela had discovered this tunnel just a few days ago, and just now had a chance to explore. She had been at the castle for about 4 days, and she had discovered several secret passageways; they were very well hidden, and most people would not even notice their entrances, but Caela was not most people. She was a spy by reputation, and the subtle raises in the wallpaper, the weird placing of books, they stood out to her. "Dorcha." The command was whispered almost inaudibly, but the dagger's flame distinguished immediately, enveloping Caela in the darkness, except for the sliver of light that seeped through the end of the tunnel. Sheathing Eithne and Necia in her cross holster on her back, Caela ran her hand over the wall in front, and then to the left and right, and found the knob on the right, about eye level. The door slid open and Caela stepped in the room, and squinted her eyes, trying to get them adjusted.

    When they adjusted, her mouth opened in a small "O". She had stumbled into some very large quarters, much larger than the ones she had been shown to upon her arrival. Were these the noble quarters? There were several very expensive items laying about; Caela moved to the mirror, and vivid green eyes bore into hers as she met her reflection. Suddenly, footsteps approached the front door to the chambers. The redhead quickly entered the tunnel, and shut the entrance to the passage while simultaneously drawing Eithne from her sheath. After walking quickly down the tunnel, she softly muttered "Celosia." Immediately, flame erupted from Eithne, casting an eerie glow on the tunnel as she quickly made her way back to the beginning. Emerging into an empty hallway, Caela distinguished her dagger and headed to her chambers. No sooner had she entered her chambers, than there was a knock on her door. She raised an eyebrow at the royal guard asking her to follow him. About time. Caela was always one for promptness, and waiting around for days was driving her crazy...especially knowing that since she wasn't doing her spywork at home, her parents weren't having an income....hopefully this paid really well.

    Caela hustled out the door and into line behind the rest of the group, her fiery red hair alone, save one other woman...? or was that a guy? What kind of guy would deliberately keep his hair long so he would be confused as a girl? Caela smirked to herself as they entered the throne room. She turned her gaze immediately to Queen Miya. Hope burned in Caela's eyes, for once she didn't hide it. Secretly, Caela hoped for a private audience with her Majesty. She had personal matters to discuss...her father was counting on her.

    She gasped softly as Her Majesty descended the stairs and friggin BOWED to them. She stiffened, her eyes, filled with hope a second ago, now showing a cold and calculating look. She knew how royalty worked. She'd infiltrated several times. This was definitely new.

    Test? Great. I didn't sign up for no stinking test. When can I speak with her majesty? If she doesn't show mercy...my family will starve. Jerking her mind to the current situation, Caela curtsied once more and exited the chambers. Heading to her rooms, she put on her leather armor, refastened Eithne and Necia, and asked for a royal guard. "Will you kindly ask Her Majesty if she may grant me an audience after this test? I have a...request." After the guard nodded, she headed in the opposite direction of the grounds. Running her hand over the bookcase and smiled as it swung open. Entering the passage she made her way swiftly to the training grounds as the secret tunnel emerged into the shadows. Caela stretched, but didn't dare show anyone what she was capable of. She stood, her body posture daring anyone to approach her and ask her if she was in the wrong place.
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  8. Nori had been in the castle for over two weeks now. It wasn't uncommon to find Nori in the castle for a few consecutive days, but people started to become unsettled after the first week. It wasn't because they found Nori untrustworthy, but it seemed like every time Nori stayed for more than five days something big happened... and now he's been there for seventeen days. Just what was going on? Rumors quickly spread around the servants, "You know 'that one' has been here for a while now." "Yeah, half a month right?" "Exactly, he's been here for so long. Do you think they're getting married?" "Don't be ridiculous. I heard he's here to assassinate someone in the Her Majesty's inner circle. Rumor has it one of her advisors has been leaking information." "He's here as an assassin? No... maybe he's taking over for the Captain? He's getting quite old now." "Please, the captain won't retire until he's dead. Plus, who ever heard of an archer becoming a captain?" Many, many rumors had spread around the castle concerning Nori and the more the servants talked about them, the more outrageous they became.

    Nori however ignored the rumors and instead chose to continue about his daily routine like nothing happened. In the morning he practiced archery, afternoon he'd assist in the kitchen, towards the evening he would hone his swordsmanship. With such a basic scheduled it wasn't hard to track him down, which worked to his advantage, if he was needed they would always know where to find him. He specifically stuck to this routine for it's practicality, otherwise it would be almost impossible to find a wanderer like him.

    A young man came running around the corner with excitement written all over his face. "Sir, sir!" The young messenger cried, "The Queen requests your presence in court!" Although the man, now sweaty from running so far in the heat was clearly bursting with energy it was also quite easy to see his anxiety. Nori had been in and out of the castle numerous times, yet not one of the servants knew his name. "I apologize for interrupting your practice." The messenger said, clearly already itching to go. At first Nori wondered why the messenger had been excited to deliver the message in the first place, it was clear he would rather avoid any sort of interactions. Only after the messenger left did Nori realize why. His entire body was screaming, 'leave me be!' with a very cold look in his eyes... whoops.

    Nori was among the first to arrive before the large doors leading to the throne room. He had put on a silk shirt over his chainmail and dark pants. Given his apparel, and the fact that he openly wore a sword on his hip, he looked more like a higher end merchant rather than a noble, not that Nori cared in the slightest whether or not he looked like a noble, he was here on a mission after all. As the rest of the summoned group arrived Nori took note while doing his best to avoid attention, which he was quite good at. After all he was the only one here normally dress without eye turning features. The room was silent, no one talked, instead they all just looked from one to another. Perhaps they were nervous, it wasn't every day most of these people were called by a Royal, perhaps they were sizing up the others that were summoned, or they simply didn't want to talk (which would be true in Nori's case). He had only been waiting for a few hours before the large doors started to slowly creek open. Unlike most of the others, Nori had been standing dead center on the reception line since he got there. It would be fairly obvious Nori was mission minded and wasn't interested in social interactions. Being dead center Nori had a good idea how the others were feeling. Quite a few of them either overly excited or simply to nervous, Nori however stood with confidence. He had done this hundreds of times before after all. It was simple, get in a line, walk forward until you reach a new line. Stand there and listen to whoever was appointed the speaker, bow, leave. Easy.

    As Nori stopped on the line and the Queen stood up he started to get a bad feeling and it only grew worse as she descended the stairs. He had experience, he had been in the throne room hundreds of times and had listened to a multitude of speakers, however even in all of his experience's thus far, he had never come across something like this. Not only did the Queen rise (which was only done for Nobles) but she descended the stairs to talk with them face to face. Sure he knew the Queen could be rather daring but to the point where she would even endanger herself? He knew quite a few of the people in that room, Hildred the assassin, Torgier the sell sword, the Ice Witch of Amphara, and Caela the ex-noble were among that group. Any one of them could have a reason to slew the Queen... Nori's hand rested on the hilt of his sword however that minor threat wasn't necessary. The Queen had left the entire group dumbfounded and it was quite possible no one noticed where his hand rested. After all was said and done, the Queen had drawn the majority of the attention to herself and left the group quite bewildered. The question that bugged Nori the most was why? If she called them here, trusted them enough to stand within feet of them, had enough respect to attempt to look each one in the eye and even go so far as to bow at the end of her little talk yet still require the group to be tested, something wasn't matching up. Then there was the fact that the Queen's new pawn, which she apparently found during one of her travels, was personally administering the test. Whatever they were getting into... it was bigger than Nori had originally thought.

    After being dismissed Nori wasted no time at all, as soon as he stepped out of the throne room he tied the loose cloth around his ankles before heading to his room in order to grab his bow and stock up on arrows. On his way he passed Torgeir, the Ice Witch, and Hildred all arguing over the value of life. "Instead of bickering over something entirely opinionated you should be preparing yourself for the test." Nori didn't stop to enter their conversation, in fact he didn't even care to hear their response, just as soon as the words left his mouth he rounded the next corner and was gone.

    Perhaps twenty minutes before the test was supposed to start Nori showed up. He no longer wore a silk shirt, instead he wore a long clock that covered everything from his head to about midway down his thigh. Under that was an unseen chainmail and even beneath that was padded cloth. Nori went for the highest amount of protection he could, while still being able to stay light on his feet. He couldn't stand armor that hindered his movement.
    #8 NorwayFOO, Jun 7, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2016
  9. “You know, someone offered to pay me to kill you once.”

    What a charming individual, thought Hildred bitterly. She wheeled around with surprise and had to look all the way up at the man before her, wide-eyed and looking oddly curious instead of shocked or frightened. Hildred drank in his posture, his outfit, his accent; her brain flicked into overdrive as she tried to read the stranger as quickly as possible. “Fortunately they thought your life very cheap Miss Harlow.” At that point, Hildred broke into one of her disarmingly friendly smiles and clasped her hands together.
    “I’m certainly grateful you didn’t take the offer, because that would’ve prevented me from meeting you on such friendly terms like this,” responded Hildred jovially. “Even if you did go out to kill me, I’d imagine someone like you would make it as quick and painless as possible, I’m sure.” Look at him – Northern accent, massive broadsword, built like an ox....clearly a mercenary. Blunt, too – one of those ‘no-fuss’ mercenaries who just go out there and get the job done. Also capable of beating the crap out of you if you say one word wrong, so watch your step Hilly, keep it calm...!

    “I see you already know me, but I’ll introduce myself anyway! I am, of course, the infamous Hildred Harlow – in some areas referred to as the Harlow Harlot, the Magpie, or The One That Got Away Again.” If anything, this was nothing like the ominous portraits on her wanted posters. Hildred was almost theatrical in her introduction, bowing graciously. She used her hands a lot when speaking and almost wandered around slightly, simply overflowing with energy and enthusiasm. “I’m not surprised that there’s yet another bounty on my head, I’m not that good at making friends, but you seem like a really nice guy! I imagine we’ll be seeing a lot of each other soon enough...I assume you’ve given the summons some thought?” Hildred derailed from her introduction, she seemed more interested in what the envelope’s mysterious contents were about – after all, she had only had a few days to examine it. The moment she heard that a royal courier was on her tail, Hildred panicked and fled; that was why she was the last one to arrive. Up until a couple of days back, she was certain that her crimes had caught up with her and it was her execution notice.

    Hildred leant in conspiratorially, lowering her voice and placing a hand on Torgeir’s arm. “A group of adventurers are brought from all over the kingdom and set to be tested, by one of the most powerful people known, to prove their worth. Whatever Her Majesty has in mind, the worthy ones are certainly going to be sent out together to do something big.” Hildred was certain that her companion had an inkling of an idea, but since he did not look incredibly bright, she presumed that the sharing of this so-called ‘secret’ information might garner some respect or trust from her would-be murderer. “So I’d keep doing what you’re doing and make some friends, because who knows what’ll happen?” Hildred smiled. “Anyway, I digress; you haven’t had the chance to introduce yourself! You are-...?”

    “No life is cheap, warrior.”

    “...In-terr-up-ted by the beautiful Lady Eleanor Evelynne Arabella vi Grimhilde, it seems!” Hildred wheeled around, bowing towards Eleanor. “One of my family’s loyal customers; I’ve heard quite a bit about you, my Lady.” Hildred stood to the side a little so her northern buddy could take a good look at the noblewoman, but judging by the sharpness of Eleanor’s tone, this was not going to be a very friendly introduction at all. Hildred sauntered up to the noblewoman and let loose another one of her disarmingly sweet smiles, pressing her fingers together.

    “I understand the need to eat, but no life comes cheap,” continued Eleanor, clearly speaking to the mercenary. Hildred wandered alongside them both down the corridor. “Life shouldn’t be cheap,” Eleanor repeated firmly. Hildred shut her eyes; Stabby McGee over there is probably going to disagree with that, and the last thing I want to be caught up in is an argument...I’ll get called out for picking sides. Hildred took in a breath and too her chances, interrupting Eleanor as she moved slightly ahead, preventing Torgeir from calling out something insulting.

    But of course; they were both beaten to the mark by some girl Hildred never even noticed, who stomped past saying "Instead of bickering over something entirely opinionated you should be preparing yourself for the test." The thief stared flatly at the retreating figure before looking both at Eleanor and Torgeir. “I think that little girl’s nervous. Don’t you worry about her,” she reassured them both. “But milady, you’ve certainly picked an odd topic of discussion to pick up on here!” she responded light-heartedly. “You’ve picked the price of life, but your audience are both paid mercenaries. I mean, I’m technically a fancier mercenary, but I still kill people for a living. I suppose you’ll have to pardon us for not being able to approach the topic with the same opinion,” Hildred looked over her shoulder and flashed a bemused grin at Torgeir – how would a Lady know what the poor must do to keep getting a meal every day? Hildred’s seen it all, she knew the extremes a man would go for to survive, and she sent that unspoken message to the mercenary through one empathetic glance and a flash of her teeth. I get it, she thought. I know what it’s like. Trust me.

    “And to be honest, scholars have been arguing over this for way longer than we could imagine. No life is cheap, but some are less expensive than others – put a farmer in front of a cow and his starving children and you know which one he’ll set the knife to. Hence the need to eat! But what about the bandits, hm? You know as well as I do; their lives weren’t cheap, but the townspeople were more precious than them. You have to make these decisions.” Hildred did not directly refer to the Whispering Mountains, but the sentiment was there, and it proved that she knew just as much as she claimed to do about Eleanor. Still, she spoke so quickly and with such a lively countenance that it was pretty difficult to get a word in edgeways – and that was intentional, Hildred wanted to sort out the problem before it even started to become one.

    “You, me and the Northener could argue about the price of life for hours on end, we’ve all come from different parts of the world where it’s more or less cheap than other areas. Who could honestly put some coins to a soul? Nobody. We’ll take it anyway though, because there’s one thing you simply must remember; when it comes to the price of life...”

    Hildred stopped moving about; she had skipped ahead of the duo in the midst of her energetic rambling, but it was almost as if all of the cheeriness was sucked from her posture as she turned and looked over her shoulder. Her smile was gone.

    “NONE of them are worth more than your own.”

    Gone was the childish little girl who traipsed around the corridor not two seconds earlier, making a big show and dance over her speech. Finally, Hildred resembled the rumours and the wanted posters – the woman who could probably go about smothering you in your sleep without a shred of guilt, the one who the bounties really referred to, someone who reportedly slept on the gold of all the priests and yeomen she stole from. It was a heavily disguised threat, a warning to them both; cross me and you’ll find out just how cheap your lives are.

    However, just as soon as this chilling vision of Hildred arrived, it vanished under the familiar, sweet smile of the girl who introduced herself earlier and a raucous, infectious laugh. “Ohh boy, you should’ve seen your faces! I’m kidding, I’m kidding. I like you both; you’ve been very kind to me compared to the usual introduction I get on the streets.” The shift was so sudden and intense that it could leave Torgeir and Eleanor in doubt as to whether this Hildred, or the one they glimpsed earlier, was the real one. “You two go on ahead, though. I was being so well-behaved here that I left my weapons and belongings outside of the castle, and I get the sneaking suspicion I might need something to defend myself with during this test! We’ll catch up later, sir, I’ve yet to get your name but I’m determined to find it out when there isn’t a member of the Dragon’s Talon expecting me to be on time for something. Seeya!” Hildred frolicked past Eleanor and Torgeir and went around a corner, vanishing.

    “...Okay, so look. You can either let me back in, or I climb over the wall.”

    Hildred tugged on the straps of her satchel, an expression of exasperation and irritation plastered onto her features, her steely gaze boring into the smug expressions of the guards posted at the front entrance. She had 15 minutes, give or take, to get to the training grounds and once again she was being held up by people who seemed naturally predisposed to make her life as difficult as possible. “You think I’m kidding, but I’m not. I’ve done it before, I can do it, and I will do it if I need to. Gods forbid some of you tin cans try to stop me when I’m up there. A member of the Dragon’s Talon is expecting my arrival, and you simpletons are playing a little joke by demanding proof of entry? You saw me leave not five minutes ago!”

    “You won’t be climbing that wall, because if you do, we’re obligated to use force to detain and remove you from the premises,” responded the guard slyly, folding his arms.

    Hildred simply stared back at the imposing figure and put on her best, most innocent smile she could muster up.“You honestly think that the threat of the law is going to stop me?”

    “...I grow bored of these games; if the Queen wills it, you might as well go through, don’t want you being late now do we?” responded the guard, sliding away from the gates. Hildred loved it when she won these little battles. Hildred pelted past the guard and across the courtyard, skipping the castle entirely and going onto the neatly trimmed grass. She leapt over flowerbeds, squeezed between garden walls, vaulted gates and wove between trees as she sought out the wide expanse of ground where, to her dislike, most of the adventurers had already begun to arrive. Hildred skidded to a stop mere inches away from Inara, who for some reason had chosen to approach her in the midst of her mad dash to get to the training grounds on time.

    “WOOOAHTHERE-hello!” shouted Hildred in surprise and elation as she staggered backwards a bit to put a respectable distance between herself and Inara. “H-...Hildred Harlow, infamous thief and-..whew, and assassin, pleased to make your acquaintance. Call me Hildy, Hilly, The Magpie, Harlow, Harlot, whatever you like I usually respond to anything so long as it’s been on a wanted poster. Can I just say? You look stunning, miss. You must be quite the heart-throb back home! What’s your name?” A pale hand burst forth from her cloak, fingers decorated with long and pointed nails that somewhat resemble claws.
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  10. As he watched the little thief almost dance around Torgeir couldn't help but grin. He was well aware of the effect he had on people but it was always entertaining to watch people trying to deal with him. It normally happened in one of two ways, they would either squirm or they would make the occasionally fatal mistake of reaching for a weapon. Truthfully he couldn't decide which reaction he enjoyed more. The Harlow girl was certainly seemed determined to try to seem like a friend.

    "No life is cheap, warrior."

    Pausing monetarily in his stride Torgeir turned to face the newcomer who seemed to almost melt under his gaze like snow under a spring sun. As he cast his eyes over her he realized why snow had occurred to him. The combination of red eye and almost pure white hair was common in the mountain to the north, where much like the Isles, winter's grip was strong and enduring.
    Twice Torgeir started to reply to the mountain girl and twice he was interrupted. The first time as mop of orange hair flashed past the edge of his vision spitting condescension at the group, the second time as Harlow once again took sole control of the conversation. Falling into step with the mountain women he waited for Harlow to finish or run out of breath as she led them along the corridors. The sudden change in Hildred’s appearance didn’t shock him as much as his expression apparently showed. He had heard stories about her and the sudden darkness seemed to match more with them then childlike creature she slipped back into before scuttling off.

    In the wake of Hildred’s departure there was an air of amicable silence between Torgeir and the mountain girl as they proceeded towards a doorway that lead to the training yard.

    “You are right, no life should be cheap” he started as they emerged into the open air “as the one who swings the axe I prefer life to be as costly as possible.”

    He flashed the girl a wolfish grin and laughed before setting of round the courtyard at an leisurely jog, stretching all the while to shake out the knots that had formed from being still all day. After a handful of laps he felt better and found a spot where he could observe everyone else in the courtyard. He only knew one face here and she was know for stabbing people in the back. The rest of them he didn't know at all and so he had no desire to leave himself open to being taken unawares. Torgeir's mind wandered through the past and he was only faintly aware of his fingers resting on the scar he'd received the last time he'd trusted someone at his back.
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  11. The Queen had returned to sitting as she watched the group leave and she half wondered to herself what kind of impression she had left. Every single move she made during her introduction was calculated and she hoped they would be able to understand what she was trying to communicate, especially the meaning beyond her words. Even with the thorough thought she had put into her introduction and her particularly useful ability of prediction she still wasn't able to pinpoint their feelings about her speech. There was one thing that was certain however, they were certainly surprised.

    The young prince and his shadow approached her soon after the meeting was over. She gave him a very welcoming smile and stood to greet him, "Prince Aurel, is there something I can assist you with?""Forgive us, we were in the meeting rooms just now and we couldn't help but overhear. If it was intended to be kept hidden, I shall keep quiet about it. But may I ask what is happening? It seems not a lot of the servants know, nor the other lords and ladies." Her smile changed into more of a smirk for a fleeting second before returning to normal. If she hadn't intended him to overhear them than he wouldn't have been nearby, but for now she would let it slide. It seemed Aurel still had much to learn. "Also, Master Haeryongdo seems to have recognized one of your guests. Well, we both know young Lightseer but he's talking about the mage. He'd like to speak with her if your Majesty permits." "Oh, I would really prefer if Master Haeryongdo wouldn't. I'd like the poor girl to stay in one piece." It was clear she was just teasing in attempt to lighten the mood. "If you would like to spectate the test you're more than welcome too... If I remember correctly you didn't receive proper training today, although you did run amok on the infantry fields with a horse, if you'd like you could even participate."

    The Queen continued to smile and put her hands together, however Darvan (ex-member of Dragons Talon) quickly spoke out against it, "Forgive me for speaking out of turn, your majesty, but I won't go easy on any of the individuals. Not Lady Eleanor, not Nori, not even Prince Aurel." He was originally talking to the queen, however his gaze shifted to Aurel for but a moment as he was mentioned, "Any normal soldier, no, even many elites would find only death awaits them. Plus he has nothing to gain for completing it." "Oh, that's right. A reward for a job well done!" The Queen clapped her hands together before pulling back her palms and tapping her fingers, "I guess even for you I shouldn't increase the rewards, the others in the group will receive information for my purpose in gathering such an odd collection of individuals. Perhaps that would suffice?" Anyone could tell Darvan's objection wasn't about the lack of a reward but he understood the Queen didn't need him to repeat himself, she definitely heard him the first time. Although he felt the Queen was making a rather poor decision he submitted to her will and stayed silent.
    #11 NorwayFOO, Jun 10, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2016
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  12. Inara blinked, startled, as she found herself practically nose to nose with Hildred Harlow. Chuckling softly as the woman scrambled back to put space between the two of them, Inara listened to the thief ramble on in what seemed like a very un-murdery tone.

    “H-...Hildred Harlow, infamous thief and-..whew, and assassin, pleased to make your acquaintance. Call me Hildy, Hilly, The Magpie, Harlow, Harlot, whatever you like I usually respond to anything so long as it’s been on a wanted poster. Can I just say? You look stunning, miss. You must be quite the heart-throb back home! What’s your name?”

    Inara's eyes sparkled with humor as her ruby lips pulled up into a larger grin. Clasping the outstretched hand with her own, Inara shook hands with the infamous Hildred the Harlot firmly. "Why thank you, miss." voiced the short woman (who came barely to the shoulders of Hildred) as she craned her neck to meet the assassin's eyes, a chuckle in her voice. "I'm Inara, from a small cluster of villages south of here...I believe you're wanted there as well, for grand theft, or something..." she continued, keeping her voice light, hoping to go for a teasing demeanor. "So where are you from, Hildred?" She questioned, trying to make conversation as she studied the woman standing before her.

    She had long, very pale blonde hair and vivid blue eyes. She could easily imagine those eyes going hard as stone when threatened. She had seen the result of her...work. This woman had to have guts to show up to a summons amongst hundreds and hundreds of guards who know who she is, and don't arrest her as long as she obeys Queen Miya's orders. She had a fighters' stance, feet spread apart, ready to move at a moment's notice....interesting.

    Caela watched as the others emerged from the doors exiting the castle leading into the grounds. Her eyes fastened on two people in particular, a woman very clearly from the mountains, and a very muscular man, not from around here. One of them had magic. Something within her always tingled very slightly when in the presence of someone with magic, she thought it was her body's way of saying "Warning, don't be caught off guard" Sticking to the shadows, she meandered closer to where she could hear the conversation going on between the two. The muscles rippling on the gruff looking guy caught her eye and held them for slightly longer than was appropriate. A slight blush rising to her cheeks, Caela listened in on what he said.

    “You are right, no life should be cheap...as the one who swings the axe I prefer life to be as costly as possible.”

    It must have been the tail end of the conversation, since the man went off and jogged a few laps. Readjusting her holster, Caela took it off her back, and positioned them so her blades rested upon her hips, making it easier for her to draw them should the need come. Caela slowly approached Eleanor. As she drew closer, the sense of magic grew stronger, signaling it was the lady, not the man. Coming to stand next to her, Caela's stance moved to a defensive position, her feet shoulder width apart, balancing on the front of her foot, her hand resting lightly on Eithne, ready to draw in a seconds notice. She didn't say anything, just observed, a little unnerved by the red eyes of the maiden before her.
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  13. Discipline was supposed to be one of the things Prince Aurel was to learn from his trainer. That was one of the reasons he was sent to Resthain, to train under a strict teacher. Han Young did see the change, he was more compliant with schedules now. However it seemed that Prince Aurel still has the curiosity of a child. Han Young sighed, unable to stop Prince Aurel from asking the queen about her agendas. The prince meant well, but Han Young wished he had different means of showing it.

    "Oh, I would really prefer if Master Haeryongdo wouldn't. I'd like the poor girl to stay in one piece." The Queen teased. Han Young lowered his gaze to conceal his eye roll and he caught Aurel suppressing a grin. Great word choice, Prince Aurel. Just great. Queen Miya went on."If you would like to spectate the test you're more than welcome too... If I remember correctly you didn't receive proper training today, although you did run amok on the infantry fields with a horse,"-Han Young's lip twitched-"If you'd like you could even participate."

    Han Young looked from the queen to Sir Darvan and then to Prince Aurel's pleasantly surprised face. Han Young shook his head softly but it seemed the queen made up her mind.

    "Forgive me for speaking out of turn, your majesty, but I won't go easy on any of the individuals. Not Lady Eleanor, not Nori, not even Prince Aurel." Darvan spoke, glancing at the prince. Han Young gave Prince Aurel a pleading look. He should be studying history and strategy later. He does not have to participate at all. If he was needed, the queen would have called for him. I'll lose my head if you-

    "Any normal soldier, no, even many elites would find only death awaits them. Plus he has nothing to gain for completing it." Darvan went on while Prince Aurel shook his bowed head. Han Young knew Prince Aurel didn't concern himself with rewards of the tangible kind. In fact, Han Young was willing to bet Prince Aurel just wanted to be part of something.

    "Oh, that's right. A reward for a job well done! I guess even for you I shouldn't increase the rewards, the others in the group will receive information for my purpose in gathering such an odd collection of individuals. Perhaps that would suffice?" Han Young wondered if the queen was being polite or she had something else in mind for encouraging Prince Aurel. Whatever it was, he made sure the prince thanked the queen; they bowed properly and excused themselves before Prince Aurel could babble on.

    After they excused themselves, Han Young caught up to Prince Aurel's quick pace. "I knew something big is happening." He said, slapping his fist to his palm. Han Young tried not to roll his eyes again, but he wasn't able to suppress an exasperated huff. This made a gust of wind blow past a few servants, startling them for a second. Prince Aurel looked at Han Young's frown. "I know, I know. You'll be in trouble if I get in trouble. But you said someone you know is there too."

    His long silver robes billowed and Prince Aurel's armor clunked as they turned at the end of the hall. Han Young didn't respond, his brows furrowed.

    "I say we jump aboard and team with your lady friend." Prince Aurel said as they neared the training grounds. "Besides, don't you just get this feeling something bad is about to happen? Those people earlier, they looked pretty...I don't know, seasoned? Like they know a lot. There must be more to this whole thing."

    Prince Aurel went on as they entered, slightly dropping his voice. "A private army, maybe?" He was saying as they came into the clearing.

    "Woah." the prince breathed. A tense atmosphere seemed to hang heavily over the queen's guests. A petite brunette was speaking with a cloaked lady at one side, the burly warrior was stretching in another, the Lightseer lad was brooding in his own corner and there seemed to be a face off between a fiery lady and Eleanor. Han Young approached them, bowing to the dagger wielder in a practiced bend before turning to Eleanor. While he had changed from a lanky apprentice to a ghost-like silhouette, she seemed to him like the same graceful little girl he knew.

    "Pardon us, my ladies." Prince Aurel quickly followed and bowed to both women, keeping his etiquette lessons in mind. "I am Aurel of Chrysos, this is Master Haeryongdo of the White Dragon Order. We hope we're not interrupting any.....thing." He had straightened up to face both women, starting with Han Young's friend, but ended up pausing awkwardly upon seeing Eleanor. Han Young gave him a wary sidelong glance as he cleared his throat and recovered. He finally looked alarmed that the red haired lady stood like a predator.
    #13 Banana-senpai, Jun 14, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2016
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  14. Eleanor the Enchanting
    Eleanor couldn't help but blink when Hildred suddenly disappeared past the corridor. She was certain that the infamous thief said something but she was too deep inside her mind that she didn't register anything. She was going to go about asking where Hildred went when a orange haired lady passed them by with cold words, she had to frown, breaking her icy form. Then the warrior that she was left with began to walk ahead but Eleanor could sense no ill will between them and felt at ease.

    But she was a Battle Mage for a reason. She'll trust him like she would trust an orc. Which was none. But that didn't mean she would attack, he didn't seem like he was going to be any trouble for now. Eleanor didn't feel the need to be guarded just yet. She could probably work with him. Glancing at his larger, burlier form, she unconsciously held on to her halberd (-a true Battle Mage should never be without their main weapon) and looked towards the open courtyard where he led them to. “You are right, no life should be cheap” he told her, “as the one who swings the axe I prefer life to be as costly as possible.” Eleanor narrowed her eyes at his retreating figure and huffed in dark amusement. Yes, Eleanor could work with him - to a certain point.

    As she got herself comfortable, leaning at one of the pillars available. There seemed to be a shift of atmosphere. Eleanor quickly drew her attention away from the burly warrior mercenary and began to look for the source of 'wrongness' as her instinct would tell her. That's when she saw the cause. A pretty woman with fire-locks coming towards her warily, slowly. But what threw Eleanor off even more was the way her hand was on the hilt of one of the daggers. Moving away slightly, she didn't know what brought upon this strange action. Eleanor glared her bright red orbs at the woman, telling her silently to explain herself or move away. But the woman did neither. She simply stared at her and Eleanor did not appreciate it.

    While Grimhilde would tell her off for moving away, Eleanor couldn't really care. The other woman was strange. She simply stood there, defensive, and said nothing. Not even the nobles at court did that and all those she had thieves and bandits she rounded up were kind enough to voice out their hatred and concerns. This reaction...this isn't really...normal. She walked away slowly, her eyes not moving from the red haired woman. She wasn't the best candidate for normal, but even she knew this was strange.

    Eleanor wasn't much for confrontation. She didn't adhere to the pacifist way of life that the White Dragon Priests taught her as a child, but it had deeply embedded herself in her. That, and she has always been painfully shy. This woman was making her uncomfortable. She was at loss for what to do, but an odd familiar figure came towards them and bowed. "Pardon us, my ladies." the attractive man greeted. "I am Aurel of Chrysos, this is Master Haeryongdo of the White Dragon Order. We hope we're not interrupting any.....thing." He seemed to have stumbled on his word there for a second.

    Eleanor took this opportunity to move away from the strange fire-haired lady, completely dismissing her in face of these seemingly polite gentlemen. The man was gorgeous and the scarecrow-like man following behind him made her pause. Eleanor couldn't look away. Finding herself lost in his voice, she nearly missed their introduction and berated herself. This was Aurel of Chrysos. THE CROWN Prince Aurel of Chrysos?! Her eyes widened and clumsily brought herself into a curtsy, like a proper lady to a royal. If her by giving a proper curtsy would raise the slit on her robe and show more of her leg, Eleanor wouldn't have noticed in her nervous hurry.

    Eleanor couldn't keep the blush away from appearing. "Prince Aurel" she properly greeted, attempting to gain her composure "Eleanor Evelynne Arabella vi Grimhilde, your highness. I am the daughter of Duchess Grimhilde of the Whispering Mountains. My country has gained much from our mutual alliance. I hope that it will continue to prosper together." The most tedious introduction, but it one that had to be said. Anything else was improper. Dragon forbid Eleanor did anything improper. She thought sarcastically.

    She couldn't help but wish she wasn't off today. She didn't want to have Amphara suffer just because of her. Though she wondered why a prince was here, not that it was her business. She noticed that he made a look at his mother's name and wondered why that would be? Did Duchess Mother Grimhilde's "prowess" reach Chrysos too? Eleanor winced inwardly.

    Great, mother always found a way to ruin things for her. Even when she wasn't around.

    Looking at Prince Aurel's twig-like companion, she couldn't help but gape. It couldn't be. She took in his form, top to bottom and though outwardly, the happy excitement that she felt was expressed by a small smile. "Brother?" she greeted, momentarily taken back by his appearance. She was ecstatic. He looked different, but he was still...skinny. She frowned quickly, allowing herself to relax in their presence. "Han Young" she greeted properly, "still as skinny as ever. Like a twig." She scoffed with a smirk. She took a quick glance at the Golden Prince and looked away. Her face burning with how much she was blushing.

    She glanced back at the strange red head girl staring at them and dismissed her visibly. Threat or not, she was not important. At least, she wasn't important now. Eleanor didn't know what the girl wanted, but she couldn't care at the moment. Turning back to the two male that approached them, she smiled, unconsciously looking for physical support from the halberd she carried on her back. "It's certainly been awhile, Han Young." she said, focusing on her once brother. "I had received a letter from the priests of your Mastery. Congratulations, Master Haeryongdo." She teased while she carefully removed her left glove and extended it to him. She blushed though, knowing that her skin was going to be very cool to touch. It was an unfortunate side effect being a Master of Ice Elemental Magic.

    By offering him her bare skin, she was offering to communicate with him in the basics of their childhood. A spell taught when they were apprentices at the White Dragon Monastery. The one where they could communicate through their mind but only works with skin to skin contact. Eleanor had done this once with her sister and hated it. Han Young was the one who taught her this spell and well, Eleanor would like to use it to speak with the boy she had considered her brother.

    There was so much to tell him. She left when she was 13 and never saw him since then. There were so much things that had happened already. She blushed as she looked down. Eleanor didn't know where to start, but she wasn't sure if this was the place to do things like this. She faltered and lowered her arm. "Maybe later, Han. I'll tell you all about how I became a Battle Mage." she promised, missing Prince Aurel's horrified look as she turned around. "Duchess Mother Grimhilde was most pleased." She could help but add sarcastically, seeing as Han hate her mother as much as she did. Then she recalled how much Han Young hated being simply called Han. Looking at him apologetically, she apologised quickly when she saw his I'm-not-happy face. "Sorry Han Young. I don't know what I called you that." Eleanor examined the courtyard and narrowed her eyes at everyone. What exactly were they doing here? A test, right? When was it supposed to begin?

    Unconsciously, she stepped closer to Prince Aurel and bumped into his arm. Eleanor froze and purposely stepped 3 steps away automatically with slight arm flailing. The man looked her and they quickly looked away when their eyes met, blushing. Meeting Han Young's unimpressed glare, Eleanor shrugged. He knew what attractive men did to her. Prince Aurel could ask her to get a phoenix and she'd cross the deserts to find one in a heartbeat. She was putty for them. Glancing at the Prince standing slightly beside her, looking at him. She wasn't sure why she's attracted. He looked at her and caught looking, she looked away quickly, missing his reaction. He pushed back his hair in reaction and she blinked.

    "Power..." she whispered. "He's powerful." Not in the traditional sense, but every move exuded calm, charismatic power. The type of power that simply oozes from everything he does but it doesn't overwhelm. It was simply there. Eleanor groaned. She ran away from home because she didn't want to get married and now here she was thinking about the possibilities. A resounding whack came from the prince as Han Young slapped him on the head.

    Eleanor stared as the prince squabbled with the mute Master. Well, she stared at them like everyone else. Smiling slightly, she relaxed as she followed them around the courtyard. Maybe she could work with this group after all. Catching the eye of the red head earlier, her smile disappeared. Maybe not.

    #14 Boss Megu, Jun 14, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2016
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  15. Darvan had swiftly made his way to the training grounds following the conversation with the kid prince and his attendant however he did not step out and make a scene. Instead he remained hidden in the shadows and simply observed them. At first one would think it was just an awkward gathering a school kids. A handful stood together and chatted, seemingly without a care in the world, others secluded themselves, intent on doing the exact opposite, while others attempted an approach but instead ended up clumsily staring down the very same person they hoped to approach. Wonderful, not only was he handed a group of individuals that couldn't be more different in fighting styles, but also a handful of social misfits. Still, this group brought back memories of his youth and before he knew it a small smile made its way onto his usually stony-face. Luckily no one seemed to have spotted him yet so his small slip up would go without notice.

    Slowly Darvan started to walk out to the field while taking note as to how long each of the examinee's took to notice his presence. Most of them spoted him as soon as he decided to show himself, others took a little bit longer, than there was Nori, whom didn't look up from what he was doing at all... although the kid was probubly just ignoring him. "Get in line pip-squeaks!" His voice boomed. Darvan had stopped a few feet from the edge of the training grounds, taking his leisurely time to get there and giving everyone a fair amount of time to complete any final preparations. "Who's left?" He said under his breath (though admittedly still very audible to everyone around him). "Oh, yes, the backstabbing thief, Little Harlow." Darvan took a few steps towards the small girl and gazed down at her, the difference in their high was very apparent as Darvan towered over her, "Your dad must be proud, though your methods are a little different you both manage to accomplish the same kind of things. Starve children, kill righteous men... both of you would think nothing of stealing a blind mans last coin." He took a step back and looked around again, this time his gaze landing on Torgeir. "Oh! Of course the barbarian stayed as well! Torgeir, how's the family? Oh, right, you deserted them. Leaving mother to both tend to your injured father while somehow trying to make a livable income off an already failing economy. But what does that matter? After all, you were having fun running around with a group of marauders... that is until you barked up the wrong tree and paid the price for it." The clear insults rolled off his tongue like anything else. It was clear he was used to talking this way, "Next we have, Inara, apprentice of the Dragons Talon wanna-be. He tried to join several times but never managed to get in... I hear he died during a raid. Hah! Slain by a handful of common bandits." His gaze now landing on Caela, "You... who are you?" He said taking a moment of silence as he stared at her, "Oh yes, the ex-noble girl. Your parents supported the rebellion. We got quite a bit of money off your father, what a generous man. I hear he's paralyzed now, and even starving!" Darvan's smile grew. "Serves that traitor right!" Once again Darvan changed targets, "Master Haeryongdo, why are you even here? Too lazy to talk the kid prince out of it? What? Did he offer you a honey bun? You can't persuade Aurel to do anything, you have no martial skill and if Aurel does ever get into danger you can't even yell for help! What use are you as a body guard anyways? Speaking of which, kid prince," As usual Darvan continued on not waiting for any kind of response, "Didn't I tell you to go home? This isn't any place for a pampered brat. If you want to play knight, go play somewhere else!" His gaze landed on Eleanor, "Speaking of which we have another Royal here, don't we? Yes, the half blood. Father doesn't want a witch, but is more than willing to marry her off in order to gain favor with the more powerful nobles. Still running away from boys eh? Aren't you a little too old to still think boys are 'icky'?" Last, but not least, his gaze found Nori. "Oh yes. The Lightseer daughter... oh no, that's right. You're a male. Honestly I don't have much to say to you but lets fill the others in shall we? This is Nori Lightseer! The boy who managed to disgrace his family at the age of five!" Darvan finally took a few steps back and scanned the faces. He didn't care what kind of face they were making, or what they thought of him. He only cared to see whether or not they raised a weapon against him. They had already been informed he would be administering the test. If they thought they could get away with striking him then they were poorly mistaken.
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  16. Hildred broke into a wide smile as Inara introduced herself and mentioned that, once again, Hildred was wanted for grand theft. "I see I have achieved national fame and status, that's good!" she exclaimed, rubbing her hands together, her eyes lighting up ominously with the workings of a plan. Whatever seemed to be buzzing around her head, however, was softened by her bubbly excitement. She not only listened to Inara, but she gave the shorter woman her full attention; it was as if she was hanging onto every word, every syllable, keeping them locked away in her mind. Saying that Hildred was an attentive listener would be an understatement. "Where am I from? Well, that's a funny question. I'm from the Harlow family manor, of course! Nobody's been able to find it yet, which is weird considering how big it is...I blame magic. I'm sure mother had some enchantments put on it, or something. Not too far from the capital, actually, but for the safety of my dear old mum'n'dad I'm going to have to keep the precise location a secret." Hildred raised a finger and tapped her lips, smiling apologetically. "We don't get a lot of friendly visitors, see." Of course, that would be easy to believe; with the Harlow Fabrics company completely dominating the tailoring trade, there must be hundreds of small businesses and individual traders who were run out of a job because of them. Not to mention that their meddling in politics and economics has, at the very least, angered many more. And on top of all that, there was the young girl herself, raking up a horrid list of crimes upon anyone she felt like stealing from.

    Of course, Hildred knew she was being ogled by Inara, she simply let her stare. Hildred knew that her conversation partner was some sort of light fighter based on her armour, quite possibly someone who was agile but handy with a sword...a light warrior. Dangerous? Quite possibly. Hildred was glad that Inara was on her side. "I'm afraid I haven't heard a lot about y-""Get in line pip-squeaks!"

    Hildred pulled her lips shut into an irritated smile and steepled her fingers together. "Looks like that'll have to wait, eh?" she sighed, dusting herself off. "Nice meeting you, either way." Hildred strolled towards the others but took her time, just so they would start to line up. Again, Hildred took the end of the line, just before Torgeir and Inara - two of her new friends. Again, Hildred took a careful stance, ready to get out of the way at a moment's notice. The only difference this time was the dagger strapped to her thigh, it was dark so it melded into her outfit, but it was there. Waiting.

    "Oh, yes, the backstabbing thief, Little Harlow." Darvan took a few steps towards the small girl and gazed down at her, the difference in their high was very apparent as Darvan towered over her, "Your dad must be proud, though your methods are a little different you both manage to accomplish the same kind of things. Starve children, kill righteous men... both of you would think nothing of stealing a blind mans last coin." He must have been expecting to aggravate Hildred, but if anything...it had the complete opposite effect. Hildred's face broke into a big, wide smile and she applauded eagerly, loudly clapping her hands. "Finally, someone gets it! TEN POINTS TO THE DRAGON'S TALON!" she cried with glee, gesturing theatrically to the looming, armoured man. "That's right, sir; loyalty to the highest bidder, right? You and I both know the Queen pays well for a job well done!" Uh oh. A very subtle jab, lowering the Dragon's Talon to that of simple paying mercenaries - Hildred wove her words carefully to avoid getting directly blamed for it, but it was clear she was mocking this powerhouse of a warrior. And it didn't stop there. "Of course, if least your group is - was - full of handsome men like you, I'd pay the price for your-...services." Hildred gave a saucy wink, hoping that the little reference to all his dead friends won't hit a nerve too hard. Now she was simply playing with the man. Her voice was so lighthearted and jovial that it was honestly hard to tell whether or not she meant to intentionally insult Darvan or simply tease him lightly. She shut up after that, knowing her place - albeit barely - but the sentiment was there.

    There was understanding in her eyes that Darvan was trying to intentionally provoke her, so Hildred did the self-same thing right back at him and made sure he knew it. She waited as he systematically insulted everyone across the line, and most importantly, she listened. She tucked away every little scathing insult about her team members, because she knew those were their sensitive spots. If she needed to twist a few arms, she knew to throw comments on Inara about her dead tutor, Torgeir about abandoning his family, Eleanor about marriage...it was all important. She could only trust them as far as she could throw them, and she needed ammo in her belt just in case the fights broke out.

    In fact, she waited until he was finished and scanning her face in particular before she went onto tiptoe and stage-whispered to Torgeir, just loud enough for Darvan to hear, "He's certainly got a rough tongue, but I'd let him plunder my booty any day~."
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  17. WIP

    Grimhilde? Aurel wasn't so sure if he heard Eleanor correctly. She had a rather small voice. When he heard it again he tried to keep a straight face, hoping that the "Grimhilde the Grim" of his childhood nanny's stories is not the one Eleanor mentioned. Tales of "Grimhilde the Grim" doing things like eating children, cursing a whole kingdom into sleep-death and such made him rather uncomfortable around magic. He even disliked it when Han Young would use healing spells on him after training.

    Still quite self-conscious about Eleanor's attention, Aurel turned to Han Young's frown and furrowed brows. He was about to protest getting hit for no reason when a loud voice made them both wince. "Get in line pip-squeaks!"

    Darvan the ex-Dragon's Talon member had just entered with a rather cross looking expression that isn't so far from what Aurel's trainer gives him everyday. He stood between Han Young and Eleanor to face the soldier and Aurel already felt like he was about to get punished. He wasn't exactly wrong.

    "Oh, yes, the backstabbing thief, Little Harlow." Darvan went on to stare down ominously at the girl in a cloak. "Your dad must be proud, though your methods are a little different you both manage to accomplish the same kind of things. Starve children, kill righteous men... both of you would think nothing of stealing a blind mans last coin." Aurel blinked. Is he paid to berate royal guests or was he always this rude? He looked uncertainly at Han Young's blank expression as the girl started clapping. They both looked at her. "Finally, someone gets it!" she said happily and Aurel stared in shock. "TEN POINTS TO THE DRAGON'S TALON! That's right, sir; loyalty to the highest bidder, right? You and I both know the Queen pays well for a job well done!" She simply threw an insult back at him and Aurel looked aghast. He considered the Dragon's Talon as a high order of warriors, having heard quite a lot of tales. While Darvan was unreasonably rude to them, Aurel thought they were much more than sell-swords. The girl, called Harlow (a name Aurel now recognized) continued talking but Darvan turned to the northern warrior.

    "Oh! Of course the barbarian stayed as well! Torgeir, how's the family? Oh, right, you deserted them. Leaving mother to both tend to your injured father while somehow trying to make a livable income off an already failing economy. But what does that matter? After all, you were having fun running around with a group of marauders... that is until you barked up the wrong tree and paid the price for it." Aurel gulped. It seemed Darvan simply knew things about them. But surely the queen did not gather these people just so this old soldier could yell at them? He thought nervously.

    "Next we have, Inara, apprentice of the Dragons Talon wanna-be. He tried to join several times but never managed to get in... I hear he died during a raid. Hah! Slain by a handful of common bandits." Aurel's stomach churned. He liked hearing about other people's lives and secrets but only from their own lips. He felt awful for hearing things these people probably don't want to even think of. He bit his lip, fists clenched. Darvan was not finished and it started to look like it was his job to provoke them.

    "...Oh yes, the ex-noble girl. Your parents supported the rebellion. We got quite a bit of money off your father, what a generous man. I hear he's paralyzed now, and even starving!" Aurel closed his eyes for a moment as if physically pained from hearing about their terrible pasts. He opened them again, feeling sweat run from his forehead to his neck. He couldn't stand how Darvan looked pleased with what he was doing.

    The soldier turned to Han Young whose face looked like a festival mask, pale and void of expression. "Master Haeryongdo, why are you even here? Too lazy to talk the kid prince out of it? What? Did he offer you a honey bun? You can't persuade Aurel to do anything, you have no martial skill and if Aurel does ever get into danger you can't even yell for help! What use are you as a body guard anyways?" Han Young's eye twitched ever so slightly that only people who knew his face would have seen it. Aurel on the other hand, was shocked. Everywhere they went, Han Young was often greeted with respect and sometimes thankfulness for his work as a White Dragon master. Never once has Aurel seen him get talked down by anyone.

    Han Young, being generally quiet even when he could talk, was never scolded with a raised voice by his own family. He narrowed his eyes at Darvan as if trying to understand an unfamiliar language. He was scolded for being a non-combatant mute, which was the mark of White Dragon masters. He looked more confused than anything. Other than that, his training involved having a calm mind in the face of negative energies and was unfazed, unlike Aurel whom Darvan turned to next.

    "Didn't I tell you to go home? This isn't any place for a pampered brat. If you want to play knight, go play somewhere else!"

    Whatever Darvan was saying about Eleanor and Nori faded into muffled buzzing as Aurel clenched his fists. Darvan was a Dragon's Talon, but it seemed to Aurel that the soldier had stooped into the level of a bar brawler. He was not there to play. He was concerned with what the queen was up to. He felt it was his debt of gratitude to her.

    He opened his mouth to speak but was interrupted by a jolt of energy in his arm that made him jerk it away in alarm. He looked at Han Young whose finger was pointing to him. Aurel realized that Han Young had shocked him with a very weak spell, something the priest does as a warning. He looked down in frustration, knowing that of course Han Young was right. He didn't need Han Young to speak telepathically. He took a deep breath and sighed. He chose his words carefully. "My apologies for coming here despite your disagreement." he said in a voice so controlled it was almost a whisper and he stiffly bowed in the manner of students to a teacher. "However, I follow the Queen first above others and it was in her suggestion that I and my friend Master Haeryongdo participate. Should she take her words back and if she wishes it, we will gladly return to Chrysos." Han Young bowed with Aurel, a ghost of a smile on his lips. Finally, finally. Some maturity. Han Young thought as they straightened up. Aurel may have calmed but his left hand instinctively held the hilt of his sword.
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  18. Eleanor the Enchanting
    Eleanor startled at Sir Darvan's booming voice from the edge of the training grounds. "Get in line pip-squeaks!" She stood straighter in the single line they all filed into. Her eyes widened a moment later when Prince Aurel stood between Han Young and herself, but she managed to force her eyes forward and remove all traces of her blush when Darvan began to speak once more.

    Outside, her face paled and began to fall into her usual mask of cold indifference and narrowed her eyes. Emotional blackmail was not something she was expecting really. But she was no stranger to them. One by one, they were yelled at, their worst secrets, the scars hidden under layers and layers of masks, they were all out in the open. She turned her bright red eyes to Hildred's form as she began to gleefully commented on the Knight's words. "TEN POINTS TO THE DRAGON'S TALON! That's right, sir; loyalty to the highest bidder, right? You and I both know the Queen pays well for a job well done!" Eleanor coloured herself impressed. An insult like to an important member of the royal court in Amphara could mean result into two things. A promotion or an execution. She didn't quite know how this kingdom worked or if it was as corrupt as hers was.

    The ice in Eleanor grew colder at the words thrown at others. Despite being who she was, she didn't appreciate this mockery. Criticisms she could take. Valid corrections she could stomach, but this? This was mockery at its finest. One, unfortunately-fortunately, she was used to. Inwardly, she wished he'd hurry so she can take his words with a cold demeanour that matches Grimhilde's heir and lick her wounds in private.

    Her ears perked at hearing her elder brother figure's comments. "Master Haeryongdo, why are you even here? Too lazy to talk the kid prince out of it? What? Did he offer you a honey bun? You can't persuade Aurel to do anything, you have no martial skill and if Aurel does ever get into danger you can't even yell for help! What use are you as a body guard anyways?" She narrowed her eyes and caught Han Young's eye and with his subtle head shake. She found herself calming. Slightly. This wasn't her battle, apparently. She listened more closely to what he said to Prince Aurel's words. "Didn't I tell you to go home? This isn't any place for a pampered brat. If you want to play knight, go play somewhere else!"

    Short, painful and poisonous. Eleanor thinks Sir Danvan would be good friends with Duchess Grimhilde. They're teach each other ways of screwing you with words. She threw that thought away as Sir Danvan focused on her with a sneer that fit her mother's face when she did something horrendous to their line.

    "Speaking of which we have another Royal here, don't we? Yes, the half blood. Father doesn't want a witch, but is more than willing to marry her off in order to gain favor with the more powerful nobles. Still running away from boys eh? Aren't you a little too old to still think boys are 'icky'?"

    Eleanor didn't quite know what to say. Her icy mask broke a little as her left eye twitched. Icky?! What did he think she was?! FIVE?! She turned to Prince Aurel as began to exude that power in multitudes as he opened his mouth to say something to Sir Danvan. But then as quickly as it arrived, it was gone. Eleanor blinked. Prince Aurel then began to reply calmly and still exuded that power, but it was subtle now, more in control. "My apologies for coming here despite your disagreement." he spoke and bowed. She recognised this bow. It was one they were taught when they bowed to a teacher. She breathed in, not realising she had stopped breathing in face of his anger. Eleanor stared as Prince Aurel spoke again. "However, I follow the Queen first above others and it was in her suggestion that I and my friend Master Haeryongdo participate. Should she take her words back and if she wishes it, we will gladly return to Chrysos." Then, Han Young bowed with him and all Eleanor could do was stare. This undertoned maturity and the power that rolled off the prince in waves was what made Eleanor stare more. It made the young prince even more attractive in her eyes.

    This was the time that she vowed to follow this man for the rest of her life. Realising what she had decided, she faced forward, unafraid. Though Sir Danvan's words hurt, but it really just confused her more. She didn't quite know what to say, so she said the first thing in her mind as she played the words over in her head. "Boys aren't icky." She commented loudly, blushing at where her brain decided to focus on. "It's just...marriage is...uh..." she paused as she had began to stutter. Breathe, Eleanor, breathe. Doing so, she started again.

    She continuously survived living with Duchess Grimhilde's sharp tongue, Amphara's cruel, malicious, corrupt royal court and her sister's well meaning but cruel and inappropriate comments. Eleanor the Enchanting could survive this.

    "I do hope you do not let the Father King hear you say that, sir Darvan." she began again. "Father despises the term witch. After all, a witch is what killed his wife." Technically, it was a hag that the late queen spurned, but she relatively hated the term witch. She preferred the more sophisticated term of mage. She relaxed her stiff pose and cocked her hip to the left, showing more of her right leg as she jot it forward. Smirking slightly, she cocked her head to the side as she stared at his coldly. Her red eyes brimming with anger. "As for marrying to curry favour..." she paused and laughed cruelly. "There is not a more power noble clan than mine. The other noble houses are ants compared to us. He needs no other nobles to gain favour.

    "After all, the vi Grimhilde's support is what made the King...king. We are his pet clan."

    Eleanor grinned at him darkly. Did Sir Danvan want to hurt her? What he was doing was as much harm as a fly could. Besides, "What father really wants is for me to marry lower and control my mother using me." She giggled into her hands as she told him one of Amphara's open secrets. "You've got your facts wrong, Sir Knight." she told him with a more gentle smile, though perhaps it looks colder to some. "And boys are really aren't icky. It's just the marriage I abhor, not the men." She said with a nod, calming herself.

    Marriage was an issue because Duchess Mother Grimhilde wanted to be THE Queen. In her head, to be THE Queen, you needed to marry. Her mother became madder than the hatter because of this and if that was what getting married meant, Eleanor wanted no part of it. She'd rather stay as sane as she could by keeping away from marriage.

    Really. Sir Danvan should get his facts straight. Everybody knew that. Who was his Amphara spy? They are incompetent. Eleanor huffed and fingered her halberd. She felt like ramming her weapon in a dwarf or an elf or a tree or even a simple dummy. This mission be important, worth the humiliation that it brought.

    Eleanor stared the Knight down. He was opening a can of dark-magic soaked, violence-addicted worms. She better pass this test or she will freeze him. And maybe the queen too. Who has a test like this? Though she could darkly appreciate the test's humour: humiliate, berate and examine. Her Duchess Mother and Sir Darvan would get along so well. They must NEVER meet.
    #18 Boss Megu, Jun 18, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2016
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  19. "He's certainly got a rough tongue, but I'd let him plunder my booty any day."

    As the little thief spoke into his ear Torgeir's imagination shut down in a act of desperate self preservation. Turning to scowl at her, he saw Hildred was laughing quietly at her own salaciousness and clearly enjoying the attention she was getting for it. Taking a moment to readjust Torgeir turned back towards Darvin and after waiting for the old codger's attention to be sufficiently redirected away from him he surreptitiously kicked Hildred's ankle before taking a quick half step away from her so as to be out of range of any retaliation. He watched and listened as the old knight droned on and some of the other retorted his barbed words. Not to be out done he waited for everyone to finish talking before starting a long slow thunderous clap.

    "Well done old man, you can spread rumor and gossip like the best of old hags. If the young queen ever tires of you as her pet perhaps you might find a new life a washer woman" he said as he slowly shouldered his way past the others. "You claim you were a member of the Dragon Talon, one of the greatest warriors this kingdom has ever seen, all I see is a old man who spends too much time in the mead hall telling tales of a oh so glorious past to any one stupid enough to listen. Anything that you think you once were has been erased by time and drink so why don't you stop berating us with half truths and stories and do as the queen commanded so we might go and do what you no longer can."

    By the time he finished speaking Torgeir had maneuvered himself squarely in front of Darvan and drawn himself up to his full height, eyes fixed firmly on the old man's as he waited to see what would happen next.
    #19 Applo, Jun 19, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2016
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  20. Nori had finished scouting out a suitable resting area to the side of the training grounds. It was a mid sized tree with very full branches that only let a few rays of light through. All in all this was a great spot to get out of the sun for a few minutes while he waited for Sir Dragons Talon to show up. Nori was just bending over to sit down when Darvan's booming voice filled the air. "Get in line pip-squeaks!" He had noticed Darvan walking out onto the field fairly quickly but figured Darvan would simply stand there and stare at them for a while. The man always seemed to be trying to peer into one's very being... creep.

    Never the less Nori followed commands and hurriedly ran to get in line. He was the last one to show up which left him filing in on the end. By the time he had gotten there Darvan was already picking on his first victim. Her name was Hildred, and though he hadn't heard her name before (which admittedly wasn't a good thing. Any high noble should know the names of infamous assassins) he hadn't much interest in her... well until now. Why the Queen would invite a thief and killer to take a test for a mission that was so important and secretive that even he hadn't a clue as to what it was. Could they trust her? What would stop this degenerate from selling the information to another? In response Hildred turned rather flamboyant however it didn't seem like Darvan was paying her any mind as he moved onto the next person. Next they had Torgier, this name he had heard before. Torgier had apparently claimed a fair amount of the Queen's bounties. Based on that alone Torgier was qualified to be here. Unfortunately even he was disqualified, at least in Nori's mind, at the mention of Torgier abandoning his parents to live as a marauder.

    Nori was beginning to give up on this group. The first two to be 'introduced' weren't ideal members of society, to put it lightly. However the next person was at the very least respectable. Inara, a small girl, but also a respected warrior. He had heard of her before as well, thanks to her rescuing a royal envoy (though apparently it was a coincidence it didn't miss the Queen's eye). Following Inara was Caela. Once again Nori recognized her. Darvan, who neglected to mention her name, clearly found pleasure in Caela's misfortune. Nori was not pleased but he continued to keep quiet. It was Caela's problem not his.

    Darvan went over Aurel and Han, who surprisingly handled Darvan's insults quite well, onto Eleanor, daughter of Duches Grimhilde, and finally Darvan's eyes landed on himself. Nori's gaze averted as the large knight looked down on him. Anyone paying attention would realize Nori was extremely uncomfortable under Darvan's harsh stare. Truthfully Nori knew he should have stood his ground and looked Darvan dead in the eyes but somehow he couldn't will his head to rise. Unlike the rest of the group whom tried to say something afterwards Nori stayed quiet. Sure the secret he had put everything into hiding (even the gossiping servants in the castle hadn't caught wind) was out in open air but even then Nori couldn't move a muscle. He was as stiff as a stone and as mute as Han-young.
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