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tired and broke
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“The Eyes of Bathala clouded
The Wellspring of Creation, overflowing,
And from the hands of the All-Being
The children of the earth were wrought,
Gifted the world unending”

The Primordial Order


“ Red ”

Situated in the wide plains of central Luzvimin, Aesyth cuts an impressive image against a backdrop of sky-tearing mountains in the far distance. Visible from all across the luscious verdant landscape, the high structures jutting out from behind the outer walls promise to show the very same trend of development that had crept across Luhain for the past century. Yet as one got closer, it would become more and more apparent that Aesyth had- at least for the time being- not yet succumbed to the metal uniformity ubiquitous in most other locales. The spine-tingling clarity of magic pulsed thick in the air, singing in the ears of its children, the inclined, and even to the uninitiated, pure and good and powerful- an ode to a symphony ravaged by time.

The dirt path leading up to the main gates slowly merged into a weathered cobblestone road. The gates lacked any form of grandeur, for they were simple hunks of sturdy wood and beaten iron, unremarkable in every way save for the swath of runes etched down every door. The writings flickered whenever a visitor passed under the arch, though by the rate of people going to and fro that they were constantly aglow, the muted light cast over the entry point and its diligent guards night and day.

Visitors were almost immediately greeted with a plethora of sights. Magicals freely roamed the streets, to the open-eyed amazement of many tourists, without fear of the Withering- the magical climate here was potent, and showed no fluctuation throughout the years. Stone hewn with hard labor and steady hands formed the metropolis, almost melded with the twining and budding greenery. Though it was folly to think so and history recounted otherwise, Aesyth seemed as though it had grown out of the ground, created out of nothing by the storied sorcerers and arcanists that had made the city their headquarters, around the grandiose tower that was the Magic Circle. The Circle itself was the reason why Aesyth was filled to the brim with travelers from any and all corners of Luhain. A steady stream of buyers, apprentices, and the curious pilgrim wove up the main road to the center of the city, where the keep was. If one wasn’t careful, they would easily be swept away along with the foot traffic.


The Circle was surrounded by a bazaar, of sorts, that formed two outer perimeters surrounding the building. Magical items of varied form and purpose were sold here, as were their less genuine counterparts in the more secluded portions of the open market, along with rare alchemical reagents, enchanted weapons, and other such things that would have made the trip to Aesyth worth the fatigue. Products ranging from dream catchers, flower posies, strings of herbs and spices, and strips of cloth dangled down from the myriad of tents. Purveyors of artifacts were just as many as the common villager looking for a healthy turnip for tonight’s stew, and the thick crowd of visitors contained a great number of different people indeed.

However, the inner halls of the Circle were no less busy- applicants were running from one office to another, trying to get the necessary documents, while the weary and waiting sat on the airy Great Hall, on the first level. A cavernous room, this Great Hall was, even though it had a handful of enchanting stations and the like by the sides. Vibrant banners hung from the pillars, swaying with the slightest breeze. The noise of a wind chime, unsettled as a door was open, tinkled faintly in the background, just above the hum of ambient chatter from the people going about their business within the tower. At the very fore of the ground floor was a front desk of some sorts, visible immediately soon as anybody flung open the heavy double doors, and it was manned by four clerks who were busy dealing with their corresponding lines of people with varying degrees of exasperation.

It was, despite the bustle and tedium, turning out to be an ordinary day.

Where were you?
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Aesyth was the stuff of dreams and Anais could hardly believe her eyes - streets festooned with banners, magic charms as far as the eye could see, and magicals. She'd lived in Luzvimin for all her 18 years, yet never before had she seen so many of them walking down the street and mingling with humans as if it were the easiest thing in the world. No judging, no hating, just co-existing. Everything around her was beautiful, and everything around her was the stuff her childhood fantasties were made of.

It was times like these that made her miss her uncle the most, but she wasn't going back to Ivalon anytime soon. At least, not after her latest invention exploded into shards of scrap metal and glass and nearly took out an old man's eye. The bright side was, she didn't burn any bakeries this time round. The not so bright side, the old man was a renowned hunter with connections to the local government. The result of the whole mess, kicked out of the city with the clothes on her back and some choice words of advice from her uncle. It was stupid, they didn't kick her out for burning a bakery but they kicked her out for this. What did they have against bread? The memories were starting to upset her, so Anais decided to focus on the bazaar and its items instead. Excitedly, she made her way from stall to stall, eyeing the wares the vendors had to offer.

And then she saw it - perfection in a basket. Before the poor vendor could say anything, Anais was leaning against the counter and grinning like a Cheshire Cat. "MANDRAKE!"

The gruff man on the other side of the counter arched an eyebrow. "You interested in exotic plants, kid?"

"You know it!" Came her quick response. "That's no ordinary plant, mister."

"I know," he resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "So, what does a kid like you want with a plant like this?"

Oblivious to his annoyed glances, Anais continued to beam at the merchant. "Oh lots of stuff! Mandrakes are great for so many things. You see, mister, the root is a hallucinogen and a narcotic all in one. In large quantities it induces a state of unconsciousness. It can be very toxic and can cause all sorts of respiratory and gastrointestinal problems aside from the usual nausea. In some cases, it can even make you go blind, so you have to be very careful." Only then did she notice the man staring at her warily. "Oh, it has good uses too. If you boil it right, it's pretty much a cure-all. You can use it for charms and amulets too." Anais took a step back then reached into crate to hold up and inspect the mandrake.

Tired of her rambling and slightly disturbed by how dangerous the plant actually was, the man finally spoke. "1,000 gold for it."

"1,000? Can I haggle for it?"

"Nope, take it or leave it, kid. Seriously, what do you even want with this plant? I ain't gonna be responsible for some child's accidental poisoning." Exiting the booth, he walked up to Anais and pulled the mandrake out of her arms.

Only after he'd called her a child did she notice his rudeness. "Is this always how you treat costumers? I'm a mage, not a child."

The man smiled smugly. "Oh, really?"

"Really," Anais barked back without so much as skipping a bit. She held out her hand and gave him her smuggest smile. Channeling the magical energy from around her and using her bracelet as a medium, she began to make fire. Small, firefly-like sparks danced in the palm of her hand before they crackled and exploded into a small flame.

The merchant watched, somewhat impressed.

Anais would have grinned, but in the span of a few seconds everything went horribly wrong. A child running gleefully down the street crashed into her legs and she pitched forward, accidentally tossing the fireball into the booth as she threw her hands out to stop herself from crashing face-first into the counter. Before she could right herself, flames ate away at the assortment of plants and the wooden booth itself. The smell of burning produce filled the air, and the man who was a mere foot away from her, screamed until he turned red and could scream no more.

Shit. She'd really done it now.

Knowing that there'd be no way she'd be able to pay for a Mandrake - not to mention an entire stall of exotic plants - she decided to run like hell. "Run, kid!" She screeched. "What are you, deaf? Run!" Crouching down, she grabbed the fallen child by the arms and began barreling down the street like a wanted criminal.

Somewhere in the background, a desperate mother screamed. "My baby! She's got my baby!"
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Aesyth… Vesara found herself looking ahead, amber eyes focused upon the looming tower, the heart of the civilisation that lay in front of her. She knew this to be the circle, helping those of mortal existence to channel the powers of the world, bending the foundations of life to their own whims. This was not unknown to her, she still remembered the days where she would observe her ‘mother’ teaching the tribesfolk in the ways of magic, augmenting their own abilities. Of course, such mortals did not wield the power that she did, for they were born of their mothers, not of magic itself.

Passing under the runes of the gate, she felt the buzz of activity around her. Even in the close vicinity, there were more bodies than she had ever seen. Not once had Vesara envisioned such crowds, the cobbled grounds that these humans called streets almost covered by moving feet as people went about their business. There had been thoughts in her mind that the Asherans were numerous, scoring at least 100 within their village, nestled deep within the forests. But they were nothing, a sapling within the forest of humanity.

The words of her mother rung through her mind as she watched the hordes of figures passing all around her, her magical attributes seemingly non bothersome to most, except the occasional child or tourist, who would stare for a brief moment, before turning in shame as her amber eyes met with theirs. Aesyth shall be your first destination, a place where the humans thrive alongside us. Here you will learn where to tread… She found herself stepping forward once more, venturing through the life to find what her mother had promised.

As she walked, she could see all those around her, a mixture of race, appearance and voice, something she had rarely experienced previously within her tribe. It intrigued her, where were these people from? What caused their differences? Her knowledge of the outside world had been limited; and thus the main reason behind her excursion from the tribe. She hoped that Aesyth would hold answers, knowledge within its borders that could assist her, making her more knowledgeable than her predecessors.

There was a familiar smell, black smoke pluming into the air as the crowd began to slow, a small perimeter forming around a stall, the stench of burning flora filling her nose. For in front of her, as Vesara found herself stepping through the crowd, was a wooden stand, charred from fire, covered in the ashes of plant life. There stood a man, who Vesara could only presume to be the owner of the flora, as red as rose, exasperated from screaming. She could see his eyes, teeming with anger and sadness, hatred and defeat, worried.

She went to step forward, the flames now faded as most of the traffic began to resume, leaving a slight pocket around the remains that Vesara found herself stepping into. Such destruction, such loss of the rewards of the land, pained her to her soul, watching as this man stared at the ashes. She could hear his faint mutterings, hands balled into fists as he trailed on to himself about some redhead youngling; one whom Vesara could only presume the culprit of this destruction.

Without speaking, Vesara lifted her hand, placing it on the wreckage. She could feel the heat of the remains, discomforting against her hand as she focused. Around her hand, the faint glimmer of energy appeared, as her appendage itself began to grow. From it sprouted plants of many kinds; fruits of the forest trees, flora of the forest bed, both common and exotic, one by one forming and falling from her flesh.

“What are ya doi…” The man spoke, his attention snapping to the nymph as he fell silent once more, watching her hand warp into these creations on the counter, forming once again what had been his supply. “Oh.. I…” The man found himself stumbling, tongue tripping on his words as Vesara finally pulled away, the tabletop laden with flora of vast variety, but her arm near hollow, the writhing vines that had held it all firm now mostly gone, turned into the produce that rested upon the charred counter.

“The loss of such flora is a tragedy to the world, the grounds will weep. But, I return to you what was lost, as best I can.” She spoke, bringing her arm to her side as the amber orbs moved, turning from the table towards the stunned owner. She could see the sadness fading from his features, the anger softened, and a new sapling of thanks within him. “Guide me to the tower, and there is naught else needed.” She spoke simply, waiting for a response as she continued focused on him.

“Oh, of course. Simply follow the road, the doors will be in front of you.” He spoke quickly, unable to maintain eye contact with Vesara as she watched him, unblinking. “Thank… Thank you.” Were his next words, but Vesara had already turned, making headway down the road, oblivious to the musings and staring of those surrounding her, whispers of her deed travelling through the streets. She felt the faint fatigue in her body as she walked, having used a large portion of power in that endeavour. But, within the tribe, deeds were done without asking, and thanks was not something that was exchanged. Vesara was sure it was the same within the humans’ society, walking towards the doors of the circle without a second thought of what she had done.
Prosperity was evident everywhere within the verdant abyss that was Luzvimin. From a bountiful collection of fruits, herbs and edible plants to the plentiful wildlife that pranced between the trees, hidden but still present, Jagred had to confess that he quite enjoyed travelling through the land of plenty. There were few hardships within the jungle. Though poisonous vermin stalked the undergrowth and mosquitoes flocked to flesh and the promise of red blood, the dangers present paled in comparison to the savage beasts of his homeland. No seven-tailed pionxors, no half-starved nailocros. Merely animals with good flesh and fur.

Though a little too kind for his tastes, Luzvimin was a good place.

Good too, was the gathering place that was Aesyth, a town where both Others and mankind intermingled, exchanging knowledge and goods, both spiritual and material. It was nostalgic to the bulky man. Stories of his grandparents, passed down from generation to generation, was now a reality before him, the children of the spirits and the children of the earth walking amongst, instead of away from, each other. Even now, after he had trodden this same dirt path for a fortnight, Jagred still found his eyes drawn from one place to another, the assortment of goods present in Aesyth enough to grab the attention of even someone uninterested in most material goods. Exotic spices wafted through the air, a crafty merchant’s advertising scheme. Silvered blades glittered in the light that filtered from the canopies, decorations rather than tried weapons. All wonderful things, but though they pulled, they did not redirect. There was meat to be butchered, after all, and with a steadfast gaze, the man continued marching on, a large wild boar slung over his shoulders.

It had been an honorable match, wrestling in the mud with the swine, grappling barehanded to even out the scales. Though others used spears to strike down such beasts, it was all too small to warrant such unfairness, and, like he had done so many times before, Jagred delivered death with a quick neck-snap. The butcher he went to would always complain about how tough the meat was, and he would never get much in terms of Lidaran bills, but that was fine.

The struggle was what made food worth it, and as long as he got enough to purchase spices, Jagred was fine with his cut of the deal. After all, Luzvimin was a prosperous country, enough so that shelter, food, and water were in no short supply if one didn’t mind putting in the effort for it. It was a distance of day and night, really, how easy it was to survive in the forests of Luzvimin compared to the wastelands of Lida. He may even have become a bit weaker, a bit fatter.

But there was something that didn’t change, no matter where one went.

"My baby! She's got my baby!"

There were no shortage of slavers and thieves.

Black smoke plumed upwards, the stench of heavily burnt plants and the wailing of a desperate parent drawing Jagred’s eyes down the street. Though his path would not sway from food, ornaments, or other distractions, the law of the Lizard Tongues, hammered into his skull for years, still remained.

One must not walk away from a lawbreaker.

With red hair that blazed wickedly like the flames she must of set, and sickly green eyes filled with fear and shock, the waif was a splitting image of a kidnapper who sought to raise her own, but could not due to a barren womb. Truly, truly pitiful.

With two brisk steps, Jagred walked in her path, before leveling his gaze upon her.

“One must not take another’s child for their own,” he said, voice booming even though no anger was present in the tone. “Stop and repent, and perhaps you may earn forgiveness yet, child stealer.”

Almost a foot taller than her, the shieldbearer with a boar slung fashionably on his back definitely expected her to heed his words and stop…but if she were to make a run for it regardless, he could most definitely respect her courage, twisted as it is.
And what would you say, the Albatross had docked in Luzvimin, a place for any being, may it be humans or magicals. The good pirate crew had been there for a couple of hours. Their main goal was to explore and to stock up on food and anything they might find useful in their ongoing adventures. To help the poor, to explore the unknown. Seek treasure and to occasionally visit their family members, and lets not forget, to plunder the rich. In Luhain, or in general, pirates weren't looked upon with respect.

For any pirate, may they be good or bad, it was common sense to have connections around the world. So they could easily re-supply. If anything, it was a give or take situation at best. Even so, some would always be reluctant in helping the pirates out. However, Faora was different. Having been with the Albatross for seven years, almost eight, the woman had an adventurous spirit and quite the curious mind.

No matter how many times her days back in Gualtierrez would run through her mind, she could never imagine being a part of a pirate crew. She didn't know better in the past, but still, she had somehow, found herself a good pirate crew. But how good were they though? That is a story for another time. Faora had her arms crossed behind her back. Her rifle attached with a sling, or a harness, so she could carry it with her.

In central Luzvimin, Aesyth, the streets were packed. There were food stalls everywhere. Where you could try out food you couldn't even imagine. A magical place for any Magicals. A place where anyone could co-exist with one another as long as you stayed civil. Faora had been in Luzvimin before, but never did she actually visit Aesyth. For now though, Nero Greyhart, the captain of the Albatross had ordered her and a few others to gather supplies for their departure. Others, they were told to repair the ship from any damages, or to switch an old part for a new one.

Faora had a bright smile on her face. The curious woman was basically checking out any stand she passed by. Instead of buying the supplies, other much more interesting thoughts had taken a hold of her undivided attention. The pirate crew knew about her personality, and they very much liked her company, but they also knew that she would probably wander of doing whatever she pleased.

From seafood to meat, she was more or less full. Much time had passed since she roamed the streets of Aesyth. A pouch strapped to the right side of her hip contained silver and gold. Currency she was given to spend in Luzvimin. On her way to an antique shop, a curious event had caught her attention. Nevertheless, in that moment, many kids ran past her, lifting her mood ever so greatly. This was such a nice place, or so she always felt, when she visited Luzvimin.

A stand was set on fire by a red haired woman. "Awwww.. A mage????" Faora spoke up, awed by the fire she created, despite the issue it had created. "Thats amazing! I wish I could do that!" She couldn't help but speak her mind. Even if onlookers and others around her gave her a suspicious look.

Slightly embarrassed, it was easy to take what she said out of context. "Pfft.." She waved her hand nonchalantly, as if that was nothing but a joke. "I was only kidding, hehe. I mean.. Thats bad, bad.. Bad Mage, setting someone errr.. something on.. Fire.." Yeah, no, Faora did not sound convincing, no she didn't.

Before she could attract more attention, or before others believed she was with the red haired Mage, she started to whistle innocently, before walking away, or at least making an attempt. Though again, something else caught the onlookers attention. A woman, who looked like a walking tree, or a plant? Turning around, she could see this creature, who was yes, a unique Magical. Faora had heard about them before. 'Isn't that... A Nymph?'

Her question was confirmed by others murmuring by her. "And now a NYMPH?!" She almost exclaimed at the end, though quickly placed her hand on her mouth. Staring to her left and right, she sighed in relief. The people had their attention fixated on the Nymph. Once more, she had a shocking, or rather, an awed expression plastered on her face. Her cheeks were red, and she couldn't help but gaze at the Nymph who helped quench the fiery thirst on the stand.

Not only that, she almost if not brought back anything that was lost to the owner of the stand. That alone brought a simple smile on the latters face, and other, onlookers. Once the woman left, Faora couldn't help but find her, talk to her, and yes, perhaps even stalk or follow her.

Well, that is exactly what she did. Once the Nymph left, she followed her for a while, and continued to do so, until her curious mind took over, and she jumped infront of the Magical. Her green eyes squinted ever so slightly. Closely looking at the Nymph who probably gave her an odd look. "I can't believe you're a Nymph.."

"You are a Nymph right? I mean, seriously, I've only read about you guys before, but never have I ever seen one in my life. I guess Luzvimin does have everything." Faora had so many questions in her mind, but the next one couldn't help but pop out.

"I saw what you did back there. It was amaaaaaaaaaaazing. What else can you do? Wait.. What are you exactly? A tree? Plant? Are you perhaps going after the Mage who caused the fire? Are you? Oh wait.." Faora softly laughed, wondering how silly she must've looked. Scratching the back of her head, she gave the Nymph a proper look.

"I am Faora Kaynord. I'm a pirate that belongs to the crew of the Albatross. Ever heard of us?. Anyhow, what about you?" It may have been weird, or a bad decision to let the Nymph before her know that she was actually a pirate. Or, would this be a good encounter in her life?
The world is such a wondrous place, Lawrence thought, smiling broadly as his vessel sailed past numerous ships. His pale eyes enchanted by the variety and shape each boat displayed, representatives of their country's engineering and craftsmanship. They reminded the young explorer of home. Solistia was a country built upon the vessels it created, dependant on the sea for its bountiful schools of fish. Why, when Lawrence was just a child, he had sailed on Solistia boats, casting his own net into the cyan blue waters. Yes, the harbor brought back warm memories, the kind that fueled the growing smile upon the Solistian's face.

Home would have to wait, though, Lawrence wasn't quite done. A crew member approached him, clasping Lawrence upon his shoulder with a toothy grin. "A'right Rence, this be Luzvimin, and that," The sailor declared, pointing toward the towering pinnacles arching beyond great stone walls, "That is Aesyth." The young Solistian's eyes grew large in awe, admiring the massive landmark that stood proudly over the grassy plains. "If ya stay on the main road, it should take you bout an hours time walking. Half that if you can catch a ride." The sailor explained, turning his eyes back onto the young traveler.

Lawrence grinned, one hand coming to grip the rail in excitement while the other rose, giving his companion a thumbs up. "Perfect, thanks again Dennick, I'll be sure to drop off the package for you." The young Solistian replied, winking. The sailor looked pleased, turning weathered eyes back to the city. There was a soft touch to them. "Say hello to mah wife for me, will ya?" Lawrence's smile grew softer, recognizing the look of longing in the old man's eyes. "I'll tell her ya love her too." The young man added, chuckling as Dennick rose a brow. "Maybe give her a kiss for ya too, eh?" The Solistian continued, making a smooching face. The sailor sighed, shaking his head despite the obvious grin.

"Perhaps it ain't too late to threw ye overboard."

"I'm quite the swimmer."

"Not with a crate of cannon balls you ain't."

"Point taken."

Dennick chuckled, reaching up a gruff hand to ruffle Lawrence's hair despite the fact that the young Solistian was taller. The gesture might have insulted some as it was usually saved for children, but Lawrence didn't mind at all. In fact, the gesture of affection was welcomed. He had traveled on Dennick's ship for well over two months and had grown to love the crew.

The ship docked and Lawrence was off, waving goodbye to his friends. The young lad was used to these kinds of goodbyes but they never disheartened him for long. He always had this funny feeling he would be seeing them again one day.

The trip to Aesyth wasn't so bad, Lawrence managed to ride most the way on the back of a merchant wagon, sharing stories with the jolly driver. the young Solistia took some time to also admire the landscape, noting the sheer difference in comparison to his home land. The lush grass was rare in the barren desert dunes of Solistia and never this color of green. The smells were also different too, crisp and sweet. Lawrence found he rather liked the smell. Especially when the air became enamored with the delicious scent of freshly baked goods, spices, roasting meat, and burning smo—

Those pale golden eyes snapped open, perplexed. "Well now, I'm fairly certain I'm not in Lida. Why in Solis-sakes is there a fire?" Lawrence wondered aloud, drawing an equally confused grunt from the merchant. "I don't know, that's strange." The man grumbled, looking up to spy the smoke rising up from the bazaar. "It seems to be coming from there, lad." The merchant said, drawing Lawrence's curious gaze. The smoking streak reflected off his eyes before the young Solistian leaped from the wagon, tossing a gold coin over his shoulder.

"Thanks for the ride old man!" He called over his shoulder, already booking it towards the column of smoke. Curiously, it seemed to diminish just as quickly as it started, which was probably a good thing, but Lawrence was an overly curious fellow and he really wanted to see what happened. So he picked up the pace, quickly dodging market goers and merchants with hasty apologies.

Just as he rounded the corner, the red haired Solistian ran into the back of a very broad obstacle. The force of the impact, knocked the breath from Lawrence as he yelped, landing flat on his back with a dull thud.

"Ugh...," He groaned, blinking open his pale eyes sluggishly. There was a broad shape in front of him, looking terrible distorted with a strange bulbous lump on one side, but as his eyes focused again Lawrence found the shape to be a man.

A tall, broad fellow with the bulbous object being a slain boar hoisted upon his shoulder. Actually, upon closer inspection, there were also two more people standing with the big guy. A red headed young woman with a wild look in her eyes and a cute little kid. Lawrence smiled.

"Oops, sorry about that. Didn't see ya there." The Solistian piped, sitting up. "I was looking at the smoke, heh."

Aesyth...The girl was in awe at the amount of people in such a rush within the marketplace. Not just people too...Victoria was equally just as surprised seeing all sorts of Magicals roaming out and about with such gusto and displaying their features so proudly. With so many individuals from vastly different walks of life, surely at least one of these guys must have heard or at least seen Stefan's whereabouts. On her family's name, she swears he'll bring him back, in once piece too hopefully.

"Right, first thing's first is to ask around if anyone has seen that big lug..."

Goal in mind, the young knight began to wander the busy streets of the place, trying her best not to be swayed by such fanciful objects of mysticism or an all-new organic herbal remedy. She began to ask a few merchants if they've seen anyone that fit her brother's description but most had a vague and cryptic answer at best or told her to sod off if she wasn't going to buy anything at worst. The rookie sighed, her search wasn't going well so far, but that wouldn't let her from keeping on trying, harrumphing from one stall to the next she was caught off-guard when she heard an explosion coming from the distance, flames billowing from a stall as a young girl around her age zipped past her while carrying a...child? Was this a kidnapping?! A set-up for bandits? Not on her watch!! Sheathing her blade without a moment too soon, Victoria began to chase the evil-doer! How exciting!

Running past a multitude of folks along the bazaar muttering apologies to those she kept on bumping shoulders with, the young knight was hot on the heels of the criminal and delivering swift justice couldn't come any sooner. As she closed in on the 'napper, another figure came into view and was blocking the way of the hoodlum.

"Damn it! They better not be in cahoots."

She could never be too cautious but with bulk like that, there's no way she'd stand a chance. But then, here she was, calling the attention of the little rapscallion while pointing her sword in front of the redhead. As much as she wanted to show off her great skills in swordsmanship, attacking unprecedented wasn't very knightly, so diplomacy first. In the most rousing voice she could, she began to utter.

"Evildoer! Unhand the child and pay for the consequences of your actions, and maybe then you will leave this marketplace unharmed by my sword!"

There was a lull in the air as a small crowd formed around them, Victoria could only hope that the young girl would do the right thing here and turn herself in. If push were to come to shove, well, at least she'd have a chance to show off her skills in front of a crowd.
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“Must you really leave so soon?” Liberty felt lips brush against her ear as these words escaped them, her icy blue eyes closed as she sat back in the chair. She bit down on her lip as she felt soft kisses going down her neck, resting at her shoulder as she felt the weight in her lap shift.

“I must. I’ve let you… preoccupy me, from my business for long enough.” She chuckled, opening her eyes as hands gently moved to the shoulders of the girl in her lap. With a gentle nudge, Liberty found herself free of her current companion, standing from the chair with a yawn. She could see that the girl looked slightly upset, but such feelings were buried as Liberty placed a soft kiss to her cheek. “I will be back for you, as soon as my business has concluded.” She spoke with a smile, grabbing her jacket and throwing it on. Her hands danced with the buttons as the girl approached her, placing a kiss on her cheek before leaving the room.

Liberty had arrived within Aesyth last night, just before the gates closed for the day. It was too late then to find what she needed, much to her dismay, causing her to retreat to a local inn, finding some company for the night, in the form of a sweet girl she had met, Allora. But as she watched the girl leave, Liberty knew that it was time for business. She felt a sigh escape her lips, grabbing her guns from the bedside table and sliding them into the holsters.

The last she knew, her father had wandered these streets in search of a package, something he was meant to acquire for whoever he was working for at the time. She still remembered her shock when she first heard, that feeling of both dread and hope flooding through her system. Not only was her father alive, but her mother had been falsely imprisoned. She could get both of them back, the people she never really knew, and maybe regain some of the years that she lost.

But did she want that… Liberty shook her head, dropping the thought before it could linger, pushing her way out of the room, heading towards the exit of the inn. Of course she wanted it, she had always wanted her family back, hadn’t she? It didn’t matter, she was here now, and as she stepped from the inn, a deep lungful of the air, so crisp and natural, snapped her back to reality. Aesyth was so, so different to Lida, she could feel nature around her, a severe lack of the machinations of her home polluting the wilds. It was peaceful, a strange balance of human and magical roamed the streets in front of her as her feet carried her towards the circle, looming high in front of her. There were her answers, or at least she hoped so.

Aesyth was nice, but it wasn’t for her. The sooner Liberty could find herself on her way, the better it would be. Unfortunately, she had no intentions of returning for Allora. The girl was fun, but she couldn’t be tied down in her pursuit. Was she a bad person? Probably, but she didn’t know to what dark corners of the world she would be taken to, and couldn’t risk someone else for it. The business of the city did not bother her, ignoring the confrontations and recovery of some fire that she passed, eyes barely glancing across those in her vicinity as she neared the tower.

It was right here, in front of her. The first step to recovery, to finding what she had thought gone, to making everything right once again. Maybe if she had her family back, they could put this life behind them, become a family once again. Or maybe she’d hate their guts, and take off on her own. Either way, she didn’t really care. Answers were what she wanted, no, needed, and she slowly pushed her way into the grand hall, joining one of the queues towards a desk.
Aesyth - The Magic Circle: Great Hall

In Gualtierrez, the weather was a nice, predictable hot. It didn’t flounder from side to side like a drunken wastrel trying to find his way home after a nightly romp; it had conviction, and it had purpose, exactly like the people of the Empire. The skies didn’t suddenly bleed gray during a summery day as if dictated by the temperamental whims of a child- and it certainly didn’t send down a torrential sheet of rain to soften the unpaved roads, leaving some poor traveler’s carriage stranded in the muck.

It wasn’t what she planned, for sure, but Estefania wasn’t going to abandon her trip because of some water and a couple of damnable bullfrogs, no matter how comfortable they’ve made themselves atop her luggage. She was a condesa of Gualtierrez, for heaven’s sake. Yielding so easily would be an affront to her title and the dignity of her nation!

And so, emboldened by righteous indignation and fury against the wailing skies, Estefania dismissed her hired escort and made the trek to Aesyth alone, braving sodden fields and unidentified insects alike.

She promptly went down with a fever and spent a week in the town healer’s clinic.

Estefania fled to the local inn soon as she had recovered, and spent her first night as a cured patient attempting to nudge herself past the shame, mortified at the physical limits of her body. After rearranging her travel bag and writing a letter to her grandparents, the condesa eventually settled on a slightly discomfited state of mind. ‘Oh, bother’, she thought. Nobody wrote that part in the epics. The general citizenry didn’t want to know that the conquisitadores had loose bowels the same night after eating a string of berries, or that this saint had to deal with heat rashes in their nether regions. If she, the scion of the House Villanueva, caught a spring cold once or twice then, well! That was her business, wasn’t it!?

Calmed down by her own musings, Estefania decided to pay a visit to this so-called Magic Circle- which incidentally shared its name with her fighting style- to see what the hullaballoo was about. She left her room early in the morning, for she had been used to waking up at the crack of dawn to train, and spent an hour circling the tower. Estefania was partial to the solid districts of Asturias, where monoliths of dark stone spread banners of shadow across the spacious boulevards, though the rampant flora within Aesyth pleased her as well. At least here she wasn’t in danger of dying by smog or whatever those barbaric Lidarans had to whiff in their pit of a homeland.

The various stalls caught her attention for a time and the condesa whiled away yet another couple of hours by simply browsing the stock. Her grandparents were practical people; she couldn’t imagine sending a lucky charm to her abuela, who had ripped through enemy fleets in her teenage years by no other grace than her cunning and her fierce heart. Head throbbing from the effort of deciding on a gift, Estefania bought a couple of floral tinctures for her letters and headed on inside.

Once there, she found herself engrossed with the enchantment crafthall, and in the spur of the moment chose to have her rapier imbued with some sort of energy. However, the process apparently required her to fall in line- something about number stubs and getting a receipt, etcetera. Estefania followed the necessary step, only to have a blur occupy the position at the very rear of the queue, as if the trespasser failed to notice that she had been there first. The… the audacity! The nerve, to march up here and claim this territory as her own, when it had clearly been marked for a much greater purpose! “Madam, excuse me. You took my spot.” Estefania said, a touch irritably, at the taller woman. She placed her hands on her hips. “Move.”
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A collaboration between @ERode, @Haru Nyan, @Rose305, and @Fox of Spades


Blocking her escape route was a rock of a man, and Anais found herself frozen in place. What was she gonna do, push him? She was a frigging ant in comparison. Hoh boy, she could always go back the way she came. Yup, she was going to do that right about—

"Evildoer! Unhand the child..."

Fudging fish sticks, was the child some secret prince from a far-away land or something? It felt like the entire market population was closing in on them and encroaching on her escape route. And wait, wait, wait, they thought she was some kidnapper? The implications made her squeak. Kidnapping was a serious felony! She was many awesome things wrapped up into one, but cold-blooded child stealer wasn't one of them.

"This isn't what you think it is!" She practically screamed.

Then some oblivious man walked in on the whole mess and smiled. If the rest of the city joined in on whatever this was, there'd be no way she'd be able to escape - wait... maybe she could use him.

"You!" Anais yelled in a desperate frenzy. "Help! These bandits are trying to rob me!"


Lawrence jolted, golden eyes whipping to the young woman. Hmmm, a lot of people were yelling and it seemed there were more people involved in this tight little circle than he realized. The red haired girl looked frazzled... but why were these people shouting things like evil doer... what in Solis was going on?

"Uh, hey, it's not cool to harass a cute mama and her kid, sir," Lawrence piped up, getting to his feet. "And, huh, ma'am." The Solistian almost missed the lass on the other side of the red head.


"So instead of repentance, you choose deception," Jagred said, his gaze remaining level and calm in spite of the accusations levied before him. The rust-haired man that bumped into him had hardly made an impact, and, cornered by the appearance of a young knight, it was clear that the kidnapper had nowhere to go now.

He crossed his arms, tilted his chin up a little higher, and turned his gaze into a glare.

"Your boldness, young man, is laudable, but that woman is a cradle-snatcher and arsonist, the perpetrator of the plume of smoke that guided you here. As a m-"

By now the kid was practically wailing in her arms. The guilt was beginning to creep up on Anais, but there was no way she could get caught in some weird arson-kidnapping crime - or whatever illegal activities these people thought she was up to. "Hey, kid," she whispered. "Just play along, okay? We're going to be fine. I'm going to give you to the nice lady." As soon as the words left her mouth, she lifted the child so she was holding him up by his arms.

The man was thankfully posing as a decent distraction. One step away from Jagred, then two. She spun around so she was facing the loud girl. "Think fast!" She yelled, and before anyone could say anything, she tossed the child at the young knight-in-training and bolted down the street, racing past booths and vendors as fast as her legs would allow.


"What the..." Victoria only had a second to process what just happened, before she could have a chance to properly reflect on the events that had transpired, the child she was attempting to save was now being flung at her. Oh crap, in a reckless move, Victoria began to hastily sheathe her blade back and held out her hands to safely catch the child. Bracing herself, the young knight hesitantly stood her ground as she closed her eyes and collided with the toddler, the impact knocking her down to the ground but with the child safely in her arms.

She looked at the kid and gave a soft smile, while she didn't exactly had the chance to apprehend the foul criminal, she did manage to save a life, and that single good deed alone was enough to make her day.

If he had time to squeal every time a beast unexpectedly popped out of the sandy rocks, Jagred would have been long dead. Cut off from his speech by the sheer audacity of the banshee using the kidnapped child as a projectile weapon, Jagred narrowed his eyes.

One hand grasped the almost 80kg boar that rested on his shoulders.

Two long strides brought him shoulder to shoulder with the pink-haired lass that had caught and protected the child.

One smile of gratitude was shot towards the flower knight before Jagred's muscles bulged, veins popping underneath the hardened leather armor that he wore, his arm swinging like a pendulum.

There was a certain pasttime for young Lizard Tongue boys, where tall stones would be placed at a certain distance, before they would take turns rolling round rocks or beast heads over the sand, trying to knock down the stones.

A boar was much heavier than just a head. Dirt was much firmer than sand. Those tall stones were much shorter than the red-haired childnapper.

But still, as if it were still alive, the boar cartwheeled off after Anais, rushing to collide with the fugitive's ankles.

This was the home stretch, freedom was right before her, so close she could taste it. All she had to do was lose them in the crowd and with so many vendors and so many stalls, Anais doubted it would be too difficult, she already had a head start.

And then something hit her - 80 kilograms worth of dead boar. Pain errupted across her lower back and she pitched forward, crashing face-first into the dirt.

Death by Bacon. This truly was the end of days for her.

Stunned and reeling from the pain, Anais remained on the ground, motionless and limp. A sharp sting was flaring up her back and blood was trickling down her nose and onto the ground. The heightened fear she was feeling caused incandescent sparks to fizzle weakly around her, but they died out as quickly as they appeared.

"FUCKERS!" She screeched from beneath the boar. Considering her current predicament, she was as threatening as a cat trying to swipe at a grizzly bear. Everything hurt. "I was saving that kid from the fire! Fucking ask him! This is assault! I'll scream for the guards!"

Wise words from the arsonist-kidnapper.

Heaving up from the ground and dusting off her armor, Victoria glanced at the kid and folded her arms, and told the youngster that the next time something like this ever happened again, he shouldn't leave his mother's side. And speaking of which, among the still-busy streets of the bazaar, the young flower knight could hear the poor woman still screaming out for her child. Wait...Did she ACTUALLY run all the way from the now-burnt stall all the way to here?! The girl was in awe of the strong maternal instincts of the lady, and she applauded that. Before she could give another proverb to the toddler, she could hear the would-be escapee deeper in the crowd of the bazaar.

Looking at the tall man who did technically help with attempting to apprehend the criminal, a thought crossed Victoria's mind, he seemed like a very capable-looking guy...built like a horse from what it seems and has probably seen his fair share of fights, she needed all the help she could get and some muscle to back up her speed would definitely help at the moment.

Approaching the heavily-built young man, she spoke out,

"Excuse me? I, Victoria Claire-Lacan require your aid in seeking out justice! Would it bother you if you could assist me in apprehending the wayward arsonist?"

Lawrence looked from the knight to the big man looking terribly confused.

Clearly he missed something about this entire situation unless it was normal for a mother to toss her kid and run in this culture. Buuuuuut, Lawrence highly doubted the theory. The only way to figure this out was to ask and unfortunatly the redhead had a hea—


The poor solistian's eyes just couldn't get any larger as the boar was launch mid stride, flying across the ground like a wheel before hitting its moving mark perfectly. If only that mark wasn't the redhead. He winced, "Oh, that had to hurt." He clicked his tongue, skipping past bewildered people to catch up to the the redheaded pancake, passing the big man and the lady knight.

"Hey! Sir! Was that really necessary! Someone could of gotten hurt!" Lawrence called over his shoulder, peering around the boar to see if the redhead was okay. "Scratch that, someone did get hurt." He pouted, stepping closer to check and see if she was still breathing.

"You okay little mama?" Lawrence asked, frowning at the dribble of blood dripping from her nose. The Solsitian grabbed hold of the boar and began to tug on it to help remove its weight from the poor lass. When she screeched, however, the young man flinched back, surprised by the volume of her voice. "Just calm down lass, I'm sure it was just a misunderstanding." Lawrence offered, going back to pulling on the bulk of the boar. "I'll have you out in a jiffy!"

Reflexively, Jagred clenched his fist in triumph as the piggy projectile struck dead center, sending the child-tossing fiend face-first into the dirt, before she erupted into a vitriolic tirade, spewing out delusive statements about saving the poor boy from a fire that didn't even reach that far.

Justice. Has. Been. Brought.

Now, he just had to ensure that the perpetrator wasn't greviously injured. About to walk over, Jagred spared just one mildly incredulous look at the rust-haired youth (strange, how there were so many redheads gathered around), before he was further accosted by the pink-haired child-catcher. The bemusement spread further, a grin breaking out.

"The kidnapper is screaming for the guards herself, but I'll be happy to assist you in the apprehension of this criminal, Lady Claire-Lacan," Jagred said, before sticking out a beefy hand. "Jagred, hunter and muscle-for-hire."

Runing a tad further to the criminal, Victoria was both amused and glad that the arsonist-kidnapper had gotten her just deserts, by a boar no less. She won't be bringing any bacon home today it seems! Pumping a fist into the air while expressing her delight at the plight of the vandal. Her smile growing wider as the musclebound young man agreed to her little request.

"You would? Oh, thank you! Come then, good sir, let us send this fiend to where she rightfully belongs; behind bars!" She said while gripping his hand and shaking it vigorously.

Unfortunately for the young knight, the young man's good intentions weren't exactly what she had in mind, he hoisted the criminal up and carried her with ease...then promptly handed her over to the rookie. Victoria nearly fell down again from the sudden weight placed upon her hands, the girl groaned as she connected the dots slowly in her head...He must have thought that she was a guard herself...Internally, she was already facepalming. Nonetheless, the criminal was hers now and all that was left now was to find an actual guard. Dragging the wayward lawbreaker with both hands as she flailed about in resistance, cursing all the way, she muttered words of gratitude to the man who had "helped" her before walking away in search of a nearby officer.

Alarmed and still hurting, Anais could only curse profusely when the stone of a man practically lifted her off the ground and handed her to the flower knight. She was glad to be rid of the boar's excess weight but being handed off to the guards and labelled a criminal was not on her to-do list. Realizing that her screaming had absolutely no effect, she decided it was time to calm down and play it smart. She was smart. She crafted bombs and poisons, accidental ones, but bombs and poisons nonetheless. Her uncle always did say that her temper and her knack for acting before thinking were two of her greatest weaknesses.

"Hey! Let's not do something we'll regret." She called out to the flower knight as she dug her heels into the ground to slow down her impending arrest. "This was all a big misunderstanding, an accident. I'm an alchemist! I can make potions for you if you release me, I can make anything!" Mostly indigestible things, but they were definitely something.

Victoria was glad when the juvenile's incessant and vulgar screams came to a halt, continuing in their search for a guard, but the silence did make the knight cautious. Whenever the rowdy ones begin to stay silent, they're usually plotting something...The thought made the flower knight sweat a few bullets as the sudden quiet made her feel uneasy, even as they continued to walk in their hunt for a guard.

In the horizon, she could see a heavily-armored figure out on patrol it seemed like it. The steel-clad man looked intimidating just from his stance alone and the way he carried himself. "Perfect!" The pink-haired knight said to herself, the wrongdoer still in her custody, she began to wave to the man and called out to him, but stopped short of actually walking towards him when the redhead began to speak out, her voice panicky.

Wait...was, was she BRIBING her?! Victoria groaned at the uncouth measures the girl had to resort to just to escape the firm arm of the law, it just made her even angrier at the young woman actually. Annoyed at the antics of the little arsonist she said in an irritated tone. "No thanks, I'd rather work hard for my rewards than taking the coward's way out. Guard! Guard!"

She called out to the armored man and hastily approached him with the girl in tow. Firstly introducing herself to the tall man and explaining how the girl she is with was the one responsible for the fire that had caused such a ruckus earlier adding how she also abducted a child from his mother in the ensuing chaos. With a firm grip, she handed the young woman over to the knight, playfully sticking her tongue out to the criminal before giving a wide smile to the helmeted sir. Hopefully the next time she sees that girl, she'll be behind bars.

This was the end and her last sliver of hope was the oblivious man who tried to save her from death by pig. She doubted she'd be able to exploit him again after throwing a child in front of him, but desperate times called for desperate measures.

Considering the situation she was in, acting was far from difficult. Turning to Lawrence, Anais began to cry. He seemed like a nice young man and she hoped that her crocodile tears would somehow appeal to the kindess in his heart. "I really," her voice quavered. "I really messed up, mister. I didn't mean to do anything bad. Please don't let them send me away. I won't survive a week in prison. I'm just a young girl." Running out of time, she forced the waterworks to happen. The tears coupled with her bloodied nose and her quiet sobbing made her look like the pathetic, scared child she was hoping she'd be able to portray.

There were very few times when Lawrence got upset, very few. And yet the way the big guy and the lady knight completely disregarded the redhead's cries unnerved him. True, he didn't understand the situation, but wasn't it natural, as upholders of justice, to get all sides of a story before convicting someone of a crime?

Did they not pause to consider that their action might put an innocent person behind bars? The Solistian recalled the broken pieces of the story he had gathered just from their words. The big guy and the knight had mentioned something about kidnapping and being an arsonist. There had definitely been a fire, the smoke was evidence but the redhead had mentioned an accident.

From some experience, Lawrence was aware of how dangerous fire could be, if condition were favorable, it could spread quickly. The only way she could of started a fire was if she had a source handy or if she could use magic.

Lawrence remembered seeing strange sparks flickering over the redhead's body after she went down, leading him to believe that perhaps her fire source had been just that. And if there had been an accident... hmmm, perhaps her story wasn't far off. And in a market place like this there should of been plenty of witnesses. If they could back track to the location of the fire and ask around perhaps they could ensure they weren't putting the redhead behind bars without reason.

With his mind made up, Lawrence approached the guard, glancing to the two individuals who captured the redhead. "Sir, before you take this lass away I think it might be fair that you consider the possibility that she may be innocent." Lawrence declared, standing tall and in the way of the guard. He jerked his chin towards the other two.

"Forgive me for my doubt, but what makes you think this lass is guilty of child thief? Do you have evidence? Could you show us where this crime took place?" Lawrence asked, politely yet firmly. "It would not be fair to consider this lass's story?" He added, raising a brow.
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This queue was taking... FOREVER! Why did everything have to take so long here? Liberty wondered as her fingers drummed lightly against the metal barrel of her gun as she waited. As her eyes scanned the room, she saw the next queue She had barely moved a place, maybe one person at most, when she heard a voice pipe up behind her.

"Madam, excuse me. You took my spot." The voice was young, irritated, and obviously from some pompous area. She had had her dealings with such individuals several times in the past. "Move." It was obviously an attempt at being authoratative, but the tone of the voice was fairly off, and as she looked back at the perpetrator, the stance and build did nothing to scare her.

In fact, she couldn't help but chuckle slightly, looking over the younger girl. Whilst Liberty herself wasn't the oldest gal to go and adventure, she could easily tell that she had some years on this one. "Well my, my, my aren't you a little cutie?!" She joked, a smirk forming on her face as she looked at the girl.

Well, that was simply demeaning, wasn’t it?

Estefania wrinkled her nose in irritation, though she couldn’t stop herself from also giving out a short huff. It was difficult enough to talk to someone taller than she was without having to be treated like a waddling toddler…! She had to remain calm, regain equal footing, and show this woman she meant business. “My looks notwithstanding, you stole my spot. I had been following this procession until you decided to switch lanes.” The condesa gestured to the coveted space in front of them, which had widened after the cashier sent off the foremost client. Her voice grew louder as she brought her hand up with dramatic flair, “As proper respect to the virtues of industry, perseverance, and all-around civic duty, you ought to return to your previous position and suffer the inane waiting process… Along with everybody else!”

Grumbling began to spread from the individuals stuck behind the disagreeing duo. Clearly most didn’t care much about virtue and whatnot, and just wanted the line to keep on moving.


Liberty looked at the walking tobbler as the girl spoke, a smirk plastered to her lips as she listened to each and every word. So, she was definitely a pompous noble, and from the accent she could guess she wasn't from Lida. But in all honesty, Liberty cared little for where the noble came from, simply how much she could irritate the individual. Riling up the noblity was a fun passtime for her, considering she had never seen eye to eye with their methods, or their attitudes. "Well, my pipsqueak darling, I didn't see your name on the spot." She joked, ruffling the girl's hair. "And unfortunately, you were too peroccupied to notice my arrival as it happened, so I think it's fair game." She spoke, taking a step towards the cashier as the queue moved once again. She could hear the grumblings of the queue, witnessing the displeasure that the noblity could cause first hand.

"My my, you are making such a fuss about this. So, here's a deal, let's wait out this inane waiting process together! It looks like you could use a friend, I imagine one day too many stuck in mommy's manor left you all work and no play, making pipsqueak a little grump." She teased, watching the girl's face for a reaction as once again, she stepped forward in the queue.

Despite her best intentions, Estefania was finding it harder and harder to remain level-headed in the face of such disrespect. Perhaps most insulting was when the peasant decided it would be wise to get physical- the affront was simply taken to the extreme when the woman attempted to fluff her hair, like one would do to a child caught in a temper tantrum. To that the condesa replied with a sudden rush of venom, her hand darting up and smacking the stranger’s offending limb away.

As far as Estefania was concerned, she was right, and she abhorred being talked down to when she had been (fairly) reasonable throughout. So far from home, and yet this offender was the spitting image of those morons in Gualtierran high society; the accuracy of the comparison mixed with the unpleasantness of her current situation raised her ire to even higher levels. One would think that her prior experience with this kind of treatment should have taught Estefania how to deal with it properly, but she was a passionate sort- in her heart transgressions were never truly forgotten.

The rest of the words were mired in a red haze, punctuated by instances where she stepped forward. Estefania dimly registered backtalk about her height- again- and something about a manor. Her face was a mask of stone at this point, though it seemed as if she was just this close to drawing her weapon. A moment of silence passed. Surprisingly, the noblewoman managed to counter in a sickeningly sweet mockery of Liberty’s voice, “I don’t see your name at the spot, either.”

Well, as her abuela had said so many times before… If diplomacy didn’t work, then by all means, use unrestrained violence. The condesa’s glare shifted from the vile woman to the space behind her. She wordlessly shifted to her side, where her rapier hung from its belt, and readied to charge.
The hum of the marketplace was… changing, somehow. Hawkers ceased extolling the benefits of their wares and buyers slowed their pace. Even the hubbub of the crowd gathered around the arsonist and her jailers began to quiet down. There was a strange lull in the air, creeping in from the frozen tongues of one person to another, and like rot it afflicted the entirety of the bazaar. Tension gelled… But why? And from where?

The answer became apparent soon enough; wafting high above the hush, the creak of wooden wheels on the stone road and the whinny of restless horses as they stamped their hooves down in jagged intervals. A normal enough sound, were it not prefaced by the sobs and moans of a dozen voices. Two wagons, each pulled by a team of four horses, eased through the parting crowd. The cries of anguish that escaped from the tiny barred windows of the high-walled carriages heightened, before dropping off into a feverish pitch of whispers and threats. The guards sat atop the driver’s seat had varied reactions to the reception their strange quarry had garnered; covered in dust and weary from several days of travel, the two escorts of the foremost van stared unflinchingly ahead, while the lone soldier manning the last carriage fretted as skittishly as his horses.

The first wagon passed by without incident, heading on towards the Great Hall. However, disaster struck for the second one - with a loud, deafening snap, something under the carriage broke- and lo, it careened off to one side with its poor aide screeching in terror as he tumbled off his perch.


The uneventful happenings in the Great Hall- well, save for two certain individuals having a pissing match in the middle of the service queues- were brought to a screeching halt as the grand doors were thrown open. A huge wooden box, reinforced by thick, rusting shafts of metal, nearly filled the entrance path. As it inched forward, it became clearer that this was a carriage of sorts- and that its only exit was the one on its back, a swinging door currently barred with a beam of lumber and a large iron lock.

A chorus of murmurs trailed out of the wagon when the wheels finally stopped its turning, and the detached carriage rested firmly a few feet from the doorway. Two red-faced soldiers emerged from the front of the contraption, with one going back the way they came- probably to check on the beasts of burden that had so far borne their load- whilst the other approached the back, resting his hand upon the grainy surface of the unsettling arrival.

After a heady pause occupied by the man taking in deep lungfuls of cool Luzvimin air, the guard waved over the receptionists and addressed them. “Call the Magemother, will you, lass? Got a bit of a, uh, problem ‘ere. Statesman said we should go to Aesyth, ask ‘er what’s wrong. Me and my buddies, we’ve been travelling for over a week now, nonstop.”

The carriage rocked on its wheels, as the voices inside intensified in their ramblings.

Unperturbed, the gruff old man spared a short look at his charge, before taking his hand off the wall. “They do that a lot.”

As the wagon settled down with a shudder, the subdued noises inside suddenly became a cacophony of screams. The nearest civilians flinched from the unexpected increase in volume, not to mention the strange raw quality of the voices that had carried the note.

“Blast and damnation. As if we didn’t have enough problems already!” The soldier, a young recruit from what it looks like, cried out from the ground. In a short while he was back on his feet and checking on the horses, most of which were understandably frightened by the commotion. After seeing that the creatures were unharmed and still attached to where they were supposed to be, the conscript circled to the other side of the carriage, where he found a wheel that had managed to become dislocated. “Aw, shucks. Hey, can anyone lift this thing up? I can reattach this, didn’t look like it got damaged much.”

The nearby guard, who had been woken from his afternoon nap by a report of a childnapping pyromancer, had long turned his eyes away from his entourage of adventurers and criminals. Unfortunately, he was far too old to be breaking his back over a wagon that weighed who-knew-how-many-tons, if the white bushy whiskers and the numerous wrinkles on his weathered face were to be believed. After waving forward a couple of willing volunteers, the old sentry turned to Jagred and company. “You young boys and girls ought to help with that, if you want all the noise to stop.”

“Except for you, young lady,”
he added, eyes twinkling, for Anais in case she had any intentions of escaping. “I still have questions for you.”
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As Lawrence pleaded her case, Anais sniffled. Her act was, unfortunately, turning into less of an act as the whole thing dragged on. If she ended up in a cell, it would be the end of her. She didn't have any gold and she sure as heck didn't have any connections. There was a chance her uncle could bail her out, but how in the world he'd even find out about this was a huge question mark. That, and this whole mess would be just another disappointment added to her already lengthy list of failures.

At this point, she wasn't even sure if she was acting anymore. She'd messed up, she'd really, really messed up big time.

Preparing an assortment of excuses and apologies, Anais was just about to spew out some soppy sob story when the crowd gathering around them went quiet. The hustle and bustle of the bazaar died down and was replaced by the clopping of horses' hooves against the ground. Two carriages made their way across the bazaar, only one carriage left.

The gathering crowd turned their attention to the fallen carriage - odd, ominous sounds emanated from within.

The strange occurrence was as frightening as it was fascinating, and all thoughts of using the distraction to escape left Anais' head. Instead, the girl inched closer to Lawrence, who was, at this point, her only ally. "Is this normal?" She whispered, both intrigued and alarmed by the shrieks and gnarled voices coming from within.

As the young recruit attempted to fix the fallen carriage, the old guard called out to Anais.

The pyromancer jolted upright, then turned to Lawrence one last time. "You've got my back, right?" She attempted to ask discreetly before she decided it was time to approach the soldier. As she walked towards him, her gaze flitted to Jagred and Victoria - damn them. She allowed her smoldering glare to linger for a brief moment then looked ahead to face the old man. He didn't sound furious and that alone was enough to ease some of her fears. "Yes, sir?" She asked. "I didn't kidnap anyone. It was all a big mistake. Um, what's going to happen to me? Surely you can't arrest me without proof, sir?"
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  • Bucket of Rainbows
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Merrily walking away from the guard with a hop in her step, Victoria wandered the marketplace once more in pursuit of information that might lead her to information regarding her brother once more, but the knight's caution was apparent once more, it was strange...the bazaar was still lively, even before the whole commotion with the arsonist, but there was something in the back of her mind that made her feel that there might be trouble in paradise...A look of worry adorned her face, even as she was asking the merchants about the whereabouts of her wayward sibling. Trying to calm herself down by browsing some selections aimlessly, the flower knight was alerted when she heard the galloping of horses nearby, her eyes following their destination...

Then suddenly...a crash, splinters flying off in every direction and the screams alerting many around the vicinity of the accident. Her eyes widening at the aftermath of the mishap and bolting from the stall she was in earlier, Victoria rushed to the scene and began to approach the struggling young knight. But before she could, the old knight that she handed the criminal to earlier called out to her attention, this was good...Since he has the attention of the heavily-built man from earlier, maybe he could help as well? The young floral knight nodded and darted away.

He was exerting a substantial amount of effort trying to lift the wheel, calling out for help too. Victoria looked at her own build and sighed, this doesn't look like something she's cut out for...This looks like something the big guy was more suited for. Hesitantly she asked the youthful soldier if there was anything else she could do to help, perhaps something that didn't require too much physical labor. Perhaps maybe trying to save whoever was inside the carriage from whatever was causing them so much grief, maybe this time she could actually show off her skills in the ways of the blade...​
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This far in, and the rust-haired man was still trying to fight for her innocence? Even after seeing her toss a child at an armed individual? Even after the real mother had ran all that way, saying someone had stolen her baby? Jagred stared at the young man impassively, only a tinge of pity in his red eyes. He was a good person, wasn’t he? One that gave people the benefit of the doubt, that overflowed with kindness and openmindedness. The world could do with more of his type, really.

But the world would also be fine with using those types and then tossing them under a carriage.

“Where,”Jagred said in a measured tone, hands spreading outwards, “is the innocence of an individual who would gladly harm a child in an attempt to escape?

The tall man paused then, before conceding one thing.

“It is true, though, that I am not justice, and thus, cannot ascribe her as guilty.” His eyes narrowed. “But you are not justice either, and thus, cannot ascribe her as innocent. Therefore, it is imperative for her virtue and her vice to be brought to the attention of the one in this great city that does have the right to judge her. Others are more suited to gathering proof and persuading thoe who embody the spirits of wisdom and righteousness. What we must do is ensure that she does not escape from their gaze.”

Eloquent words rolled off the tongue of the muscular individual, an unnerving juxtaposition between his savage nature and civilized words. And yet, even more disturbing was the tense silence that followed such words, the atmosphere of the bustling bazaar shifting dramatically, as his eyes glided over to where all other eyes were drawn. Sobs, moans, sorrow and despair, intermingling in large carriages of sturdy wood and bolted steel. Beasts of burden frothed as they pulled their load, all while the banshee cries intensified. Unconsciously, Jagred grabbed the legs of the boar once more, ready to use it as a weapon if necessary.

Slavery? A surprising dark side to such a tolerant, multicultural place. Or was it something else? Criminals from another part of Luzvimin then? Questions bounced, but no answers came to mind, and his thoughts were cast away by a carriage tumbling over onto its side.

Jagred moved before anyone had even asked, ignoring the splinter of wood stuck in his right cheek. Rushing over, the Lidaran man dropped his boar to the side and nodded at the soldier once. He crouched, breathed deeply, dug his fingers beneath the carriage, and strained. Muscles coiled and veins popped, creamy flesh turned red with exertion as an expression that was almost hateful surfaced. Slowly, as more offered their bodies and their will, the carriage inched off the beaten path, Jagred adjusting his footing as they gained more and more leverage.

But it wasn’t merely kindness that made him offer his strength.

As the carriage righted itself, he was in the optimal position to peer into the barred windows of the carriage.

Collaboration with @Unbound


Vesara’s steps had been carrying her towards the tower, her mind clear as she approached her destination, the place that she was sent to as her first part of her journey. She did not know what she would find there, but simply that it was where she was going. She did not understand the need for moderation of magic, it was life, it was each and every thing that existed. Magic was the---

Before she could continue her thought, she was ambushed, seeing a blur of brown locks fly in front of her. It was a human, female in nature, but there was little more that Vesara could determine of the suspect before she heard the mortal speak. A barrage of questions poured from the girl, too quick for Vesara to grip what she were saying. But she could at least answer the last question.

The Albatross is a majestic bird, but I was unaware that there was a crew protecting it? That is a valiant cause indeed, it would be a shame to see such a creature lost to this earth.” She spoke, applauding the efforts that Faora had gone through to protect the species of the Albatross. “I am Vesara Destinia Asheran, heir to the tribe of the Asherani, the guardians of nature, heartbeat of the forest, voice of the green and mind of the earth. It is unique to have met you.


It seemed like her line of questioning got out of hand, or so she felt. Faora was albeit happy to see that the Nymph before her didn’t feel awkward or wanted to distance herself from a total stranger like her, something she was at the moment, working on. Though the response in return slightly confused the young woman, who could only have a perplexed expression plastered on her face for a few moments.

Faora looked around, wondering if her introduction was taken out of context. “Hmmm..” Pondering, it quickly came to her. A smile came across her face, though she didn’t want to point out the misunderstanding, and rather, went along with it. “Yes, umm. It is. We protect it whenever we can, but we also travel on the sea with our ship. It’s also called the Albatross, like the majestic bird, tehe.

However, when the Nymph introduced herself, the only thing Faora could think of was the length. It was a long name. A tribe she hadn’t heard about, which was not surprising to her. The young woman did not know much about the Nymph in general, nor had she encountered one before. Only a second later, you could see that her expression was all bright and cheerful. Maybe she was reading too much into the ‘unique’ word the Nymph uttered. “Oh.. pfft..” She placed her hand on Vesara’s shoulder, slightly laughing thereafter.

Maybe she was getting too comfortable with the Nymph? Faora realized that, and quickly moved her hand away. “Oops. I’m sorry about that..” Not keeping eye contact for a while, she embarrassingly laughed, but for a short moment.

But I like your name..” Returning to her introduction, she wanted to ease the awkwardness between the both of them, but perhaps it was only one-sided. “Being the heir to a tribe would make you a Princess, no?” The hierarchy of the Nymphs caught her curious mind. How did it all work?


Vesara listened diligently as the human spoke, explaining that she travelled on a ship known as the Albatross also. That was an interesting choice in name, but one she would not question, for now. As the girl continued to speak, she felt a hand reach to her shoulder, seeing that it was the human herself. That was a… strange gesture, Vesara not shying away in order to not seem rude. Physical contact was something that she did not know, it rarely happened between members of the tribe, except for the lovers who return to their huts late at night.

Your apology is accepted.” She stated simply, going quiet once again as the girl spoke, asking about the hierarchy of her tribe. The few mortals she had encountered out of her tribe had never shown such… interest, in the intricacies of her tribe. Vesara wondered why this one showed such interest. “You are not a hunter, attempting to eliminate the Asherani, no?” She spoke. That was her immediate thought, someone who wanted to know so much must be trying to understand the tribe, so they could get into it, to use its weaknesses.


Almost surprised by the Nymph’s reaction, she couldn’t help but wave her hands in front of her in denial. “No.. No.. No.. It’s not like that at all.. I’m a pirate, not a hunter.” Faora thought about her line of questions one more time. Yes, the Nymphs were rare, and there were hunters out there who would prey on the Magicals, or at least those who did not look like humans in a way. May it be for money or just for sports. Something the pirate woman disliked a lot.

I’m not here to eliminate the Asherani.. Your tribe.. Or you.. I just saw how you helped the man earlier during the fire. I’ve seen many Magicals but I’ve never seen a Nymph before.. I have a curious mind, but in a good way.. Not bad..” A soft laugh escaped her lips, trying to lift the slightly tense air around them both.

Looking behind her, Faora gazed upon Vesara once more, before she tried to change the subject. Perhaps it was better to ask her about her tribe and, or herself once they knew each other on a better level. Right now they were practically strangers, but her reception by the Nymph was so far very neutral. She was happy about that, and was not one to ruin it. “Anyhow, I know you were heading somewhere.. Where may that be? Perhaps I’m going in the same direction..


Vesara watched the girl’s reaction, seeing the flustered and quick reactions of the human, amber eyes scanning her for a moment. As she spoke, the girl seemed to be telling the truth, from what Vesara could determine of her motions. “Very well, if what you say is true, it lightens my worry.” She spoke, eyes still looking over the girl. The next question was simple enough, open enough, not trying to find out about her tribe so that it could be destroyed. There were hunters and other unpleasantries that would try such a thing, but she did not seem like one of them. “I was heading towards the large construction before us.

Vesara was about to continue towards said destination, if it weren't for the new atmosphere within the market. What had once been a loud hum of life, now faded away, as two carts began to roll through. One made it well, but the other collapsed, and the sounds of wailing from within could be heard. That was strange, Vesara was unsure of the cause of such anguish from within, even as others began to assist in raising up the cart. “What causes such distress within the box?” She asked Faora, gaze turning back to the other momentarily.


Oh yeah?” Faora enthusiastically added. She was too, heading towards the said construction. “I am heading in the same direction as well.” In all honesty that was more or less a lie. Walking next to a Nymph was more interesting than doing what she was really suppose to be doing for the crew of the Albatross. “Maybe I can accompany you?

And just like that, the air around the both of them changed. The people around them were not only nervous, but also tense due to the new situation at hand. Two carts approached the area, whereas one didn’t make it through. Just like Vesara, her own attention was fixated on the cart that had collapsed. People started to help get the cart back on the road, but the question asked by the Nymph was the very same thing she was wondering about.

For that very moment, due to the painful sounds coming from the carriage itself, Faora’s expression changed. It was more or less serious and curious at the same time. She had a vague idea about what it could’ve been. Her green orbs squinted ever so slightly, looking at the unusual event unfolding before the both of them. Standing next to Vesara, she responded. “Thats a very good question..

Though it was tilted, people who helped made sure the carriage was back on the road.

As a place for the magically inclined to study and do business, one would expect that the Magic Circle of Aesyth would be quiet, a peaceful retreat in comparison to the industrial continent of Lida akin to a monastery. Unfortunately, very few things are quiet whenever a certain Gwyllgi happens to be in the area.

"WHAT DO YOU MEAN 'MY BAD'?" Cain shouted, a gloved hand shot up to run through his filthy, soot-laden hair; the action served to dump a significant bit of the spot and ash onto the ordinarily well-cleaned office. "First, you tell me that there are ruins out near Lothburn – surprise, surprise, there were none, your sources strike out once more; second, you tell me that the non-existent ruins were situated on unclaimed land – yet again, they weren't and the noble noble family's guards almostwho lived there almost carved a slice out of me before I could get away; and, last but not least, you told me that the place had been cleared of bandits less than a fortnight ago – and, foolish me for believing you with this, the entire area outside of the noble's house was swamped with bandits with more explosives than a Lidaran warcamp!"

He stomped to the side of the room and reached into a lone bucket, from which he withdrew a damp cloth that he started using to cleanse the filth from his face and neck. "And, let me tell you, they don't skimp on things that explode there, I swear they never ran out of their little bombs. It was like when the human miners first discovered that they could open up new caves with the damned things: a lot of the ol' 'splodey stuff and accidents out the arse."

The man, a middle-aged mage whom up until then had remained silent as Cain went off on another of his tirades suddenly popped up with a curious expression as if struck by a sudden revelation. "Ah, yes. I recall tales that a few reckless individuals cause many mines to collapse due to misplaced detonations." The man immediately withered under the disappointed look that he received from the Magical archeologist.

"Of course, playing with the things is about as smart as sticking your hand in a viper pit." The Magical shook his head before a stack of papers on the man's desk drew his attention. "Please tell me that isn't a report from another one of your 'reliable' contacts; if so, make sure the lead is a good one first. I swear I'm close to a breakthrough, I just need to find the right ruin."

The man coughed and shook his head, embarrassment plastered on his face. He hurriedly shot to his feet and plucked up the papers from the desk. "O-of course not, old friend, that's something else entirely. I'll make sure to find a new lead for you within the month; my contacts are currently looking, and I'll make sure they double check everything first."

"I'll be back in a month, maybe a little longer, then. I plan to head West, into the forest on the other side of the far mountain range, maybe luck will help me more than those so-called contacts of yours." Cain let out a sharp laugh before his wolf-like ears suddenly twitched at a new, peculiar sound.

A steady increase in conversation had suddenly erupted just outside the door, mentions of two arguing woman disrupting the other patrons drew his attention. In a mere second, his previous annoyance had flown away and instead found itself replaced by curiosity. "Don't let me down on this, kiddo. The past is perhaps the best chance we have to find out more about the Withering phenomena, we have to find any and all hidden ruins on this continent, hopefully the ancients left something that can tell us how to stop the spread of this wretched blight." Cain swept towards the door, his interest now temporarily drawn away. "And tell the kids that Uncle Cain says hello." He finished and then, without giving the man a chance to respond, left the room, slamming the door behind him; the hanging identification sign on the door clanked loudly as he once more entered the Great Hall, on it were the words 'Professor Kad'rik - Head of the Luzvimin Historical Research Dept.' engraved into the golden accented sign.

As he stepped from the room, Cain glanced around the Great Hall; his eyes passed over the horde of people, human and Magical, some were walking to and fro with purpose, obviously those who either lived or worked in the tower, though the majority were waiting in the many lines that popped up across the Hall as they waited to go where they needed to go. Quickly, he began to pick his way through the crowd, following the hushed conversations of those who talked about the disruptive duo, until he entered the enchantment crafthall and found the two and the grumbling patrons who stood behind them.

He paused to look them over, immediately identifying that one came from Lida - the firearms on her person showed this as most gunslinging mercenaries tended to come from that country - and the other came from Gualtierraz, mostly duo to her accent; both were observations made quickly by those well-travelled like himself, though their unusual outfits also clearly pointed them out as outsiders to even the least perceptive individuals. It was only when he noticed that one, the shorter one with the accent, was obviously leaning towards a more...direct approach that he decided to step in.

"Hey now, you two. What's the problem? Are the lines that boring?" Cain began he brought his hands up to show he was without a weapon. "I'd be careful, if things get too loud in here, you two might be tossed out." He gave the rapier-wielding girl a look as if saying he knew what her thoughts were. "And, take it from me, they aren't exactly gentle when they throw you out of here."
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Great Hall

As the strangeness of this new entry settled into the Great Hall, its novelty waned in the slightest. After all, it could have been any manner of beast; the mages were usually tasked to identify strange creatures, after all. Never mind that they sound so human.

One of the secretaries had left their desk and marched off towards a staircase, no doubt off to fetch the Magemother, her heels click-clacking sharply on the cool marble floor. The rest of the entourage at the front desk kept staring at the covered wagon, although one or two slowly shook off the distraction and returned to their work. Activity stirred back throughout the floor, like a great lumbering beast shaking off the siren calls of sleep.


[@Fox of Spades]
The elderly guard straightened his back, wobbling in place after a loud pop echoed from somewhere in his body. Let’s hope he didn’t dislocate a hip or rupture a vital body organ. “Ooof. How I wish I were twenty years younger…” he complained, though without any real heat. After a second or so spent ooh- and aah-ing at his aches and pains, the man finally turned his attention back to Anais and Lawrence. “My right ear went out when that tall young man was explaining earlier. You would have to speak louder so I can hear you, all right?”

He padded to his left, then his right, before turning in a half-circle. Finally though, the old man found the people he was searching for. “Ah, that man-,” Jagred, he meant, “and that small girl.” Victoria, apparently. “She reminds me of my youngest granddaughter. She’s just learning to read this month.” Oblivious to the fact that his sentiments may have sounded just the tiniest bit offensive to the latter’s ears, the soldiers sighed in contentment and remained still for a moment.

He seemed to have dozed off.

Either his dreams weren’t giving him any respite, or the watcher suddenly remembered he was supposed to be doing something else, because he jolted back and stared down at Anais. “It’s just Guardsman Crane to you, lassie. I don’t have a rank, and I don’t care much for being addressed like a fossil,” Guardsman Crane said with a toothless grin, before his eyes fell upon the collective effort being expended to right the carriage. He brought a hand up and caressed his white beard. “Heh. When I was half my age, I could do that too! Darn these old bones…”

Wait… Getting off-topic, are we, sir?

[@ERode, @Haru Nyan]
Glowing pinpricks in the dark. Fingers crept upon the edge of the bars, before curling around the chipping metal so tightly that flesh distorted and paled. The rough outline of a humanoid face shuddered away from the light.

The recruit jostled past a few legs as various men and women lent their effort for the cause. Trying to ignore the sound of bodies hitting the walls as the carriage was jostled to and fro, the young man- sweating harshly under the thick brow of his helmet- trembled as he attached the godforsaken wheel.

And then someone in the line slipped.

The effect was instantaneous; people staggered to the side, while others slid back. Amidst the cries of anger and complaints the burden of carrying was abandoned to even fewer hands, and even fewer bodies. The wagon tipped forward with a wet, bone-crunching thump; the recruit yelped and crawled out of the way to avoid getting crushed, the wheel clattering on the ground when he abandoned it.

In the painfully short amount of time between this incident and the following pandemonium, Jagred and the nearest citizens glimpsed the face of a woman through the narrow window.

Her face was gouged in places, whitened skin forming a patchwork museum of where scabs had been picked off and injuries disallowed to heal. Her eyes were swollen shut.

And running the gamut of what had been her face was an unidentifiable, pulsing growth of red.


Great Hall
[@Unbound , @TheAlphaTitan]
It wasn’t that everyone else had learned to ignore the presence.

It was because the presence, for some maddening reason, quieted down.

“Huh, that’s odd.” The guard listened in for the telltale mutterings inside the wagon. Strangely enough, it was as quiet as a tomb in there now… Although he couldn’t be sure if they had just decided to shut up, or if something of note was happening. Worse, he became convinced that all of them had somehow simultaneously died- and that was not good. No, siree. A whole lot of people will skin him if any of these freaks expire on his watch.

So, thinking that this was a normal check-up and he would remain unharmed if not disturbed, the man pulled up the keys from his holster and walked to the back of the wagon. To be fair, he was right. The creatures had not done anything before; from what he knew, they were normal people before all… this. They simply happened to be the unluckiest saps in the whole world, but they weren’t all that bad asides from the occasional screaming. He keyed the padlock and hung it from a hook jutting out from the side of the carriage. Then, the guard wiped his hands off his pants and began to lift the bar. Before he could even fully do so… All hell broke loose.

Fury manifested in physical form as the wooden doors shattered open and a red flood of men and women- but only just- flowed out from the wagon. They scrambled atop another, caring little if their viciousness crushed one of their brethren underfoot, and surged towards the line of shaken civilians.


[@Unbound , @Akashi]
Someone who had seen the visage in the window started yelling their head off.

As sudden as it had appeared, the woman tore her doughy profile off the barred opening, retreating into the innards of the wagon. Those who had abandoned the carriage returned, lending their strength once more to the pursuit they had thought was still available. In truth, the naïve recruit was amongst those who had beheld that monstrous mask- and he remained frozen on the same spot he had hastily crawled to before, mouth agape in an expression of extreme surprise… and horror.

“They- it’s… It’s gotten worse,” was all he managed to blurt out, before the wagon violently rocked back and forth, the weaker walls splintering, as its occupants began to slam against the walls. The men and women who had lent their arm to the endeavor of carrying the container found themselves being swept away by the raw power of those inside, and though it was amusing to see a dozen or so adults bowing and bending as the package they carried catapulted from one side to another…

It wasn’t, when the screams started once again. This time, they were angry.
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A sudden shift in weight, weaker, paler individuals sliding against the dirt, caused the entire carriage to crash down once more, but not before a glimpse could be caught within the darkness. A red growth clinging onto a diseased, disfigured face, pus oozing wounds that refused to be healed, agony and hatred mixed around. Even in the darkness of the carriage, that growth had almost seemed to glow.

A disease. A plague. But not just any. It was a distinctly magical one, of such cruelty that it gave even Jagred pause as he backed away from the violently rocking carriage. The red-haired giant narrowed his eyes as wooden cracked under a powerful, unified force, whatever was within the carriage now breaking out with sheer physical force. Criminals? Bearers of a magical curse? Regardless of what they once were, there was reason for them to be locked into a carriage, a reason frightening enough that the soldier was frozen with fear now.

Frozen, but at least he knew something.

Watching the carriage, Jagred strode up behind the young man and placed a hand on his shoulder. “Little man,” the Lidaran said, eyes narrowed, “Explain quickly. What’s in there?”

With his other hand, he relieved the soldier of the carriage wheel they held onto with trembling fingers. He had no shield with him. A wooden wheel would have to do.

The guard was old and deaf, and judging by what he'd just said, Anais was guessing he'd heard nothing at all - not Jagred's heartfelt speech or Victoria's angry accusations, he hadn't even heard her questions. Perhaps, she wouldn't end up rotting in some jail cell after all. "Yes, Guardsman Crane!" She practically screeched as relief washed over her.

Everything was going to be just fine.

Or at least, that was what the young pyromancer thought. The illusion, however, was shattered the moment the carriage pitched forward. A loud crack resonated throughout the bazaar, and what followed after, were screams much more haunting than the previous sounds that emanated from within the carriage. Several pained voices melded together creating a chilling symphony that clung to the place like a ghostly presence. Anais' insides turned to ice, she'd been in countless life-threatening situations in the past (most of her own doing) but something about this screamed wrong, wrong, wrong.

She swiveled around to peer at rocking carriage, at the number of bodies knocked back by the sheer force coming from inside it. "Keep your distance!" She yelled to the people who were still trying to right the fallen vehicle. "It's not going to hold!" She could already hear it, the telltale sound of wood crunching beneath a massive force. It wouldn't be long now.

Anais held out her hand and focused, gathering heat and energy from the world around her. The beginnings of a small flame began to glow in the palm of her hand. She wasn't planning to set anything alight, but when unknown, wailing creatures threatened to break out of a carriage guarded by several soldiers, well... it was always best to be prepared for the very worst.
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