The Chronicles of Alencia

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    An ancient rift, a realm of magic and demons. The fate of the world hangs in the balance, and this is the story of four adventurers and their journey to combat the threat without ripping each other's throats out. A sequel of Lies of the Throne.

    A 1x1 between @Warden and @Fox of Spades

    "And there we were, surrounded by a mob of demons—shadowy abominations from the Neverworld." The wanderer sat on a slab of wood by a newly lit bonfire. The sky above them was orange, but in a few more minutes it would be dark out. Not too far from where he and several others sat were small carts filled with items that ranged from medical herbs to to magical amulets that warded off lesser spirits. The wooden carts belonged to merchants that wandered from settlement to settlement in hopes of selling their wares, and not too far from the make-shift market place, several tents were erected so battle-weary men and women could rest their tired bones. The settlements were crowded and anything but luxurious, but in trying times such as these they were more than enough to keep weary travelers on their feet.

    "What happened next, mister?" A kid who was missing one of his front teeth leaned in with wide eyes, and soon several others chimed in.

    "Did you chop off its head with your giant axe?"

    Ferris ran a hand through his hair and gave the group of children a winning smile. A rather pretty swordswoman with a grade A figure was sitting not too far from him, but she was more focused on sharpening her blade than on his heroic tales. If he were being honest, he told his story in hopes of impressing her...oh well, winning the adoration of the children worked too. "That I did," hefting his axe onto his shoulder, he paused for effect then eyed his mute companion. "I swooped in, and with a swing of my axe sent several of those bastards flying. Saved Chickenlover over there, and been traveling with him ever since." He doubted Gael would be able to tell the kids he was lying. Hell, he was twenty four and he had trouble understanding the man's gestures, so getting a bunch of kids to decipher sign language. Uh-huh, good luck with that.

    The group of children surrounded the wanderer, and a little boy no older than eight asked if he could try on Ferris' helmet.

    The swordswoman looked his way, and wanting to impress, Ferris agreed generously and plonked his helmet onto the boy's head. The kid lit up like lantern and Ferris winked playfully in the lady's direction. "Kids, you gotta love 'em, right?"
    "Ferris," Arthur called out.

    The wanderer turned around, messy helmet-hair and all. "What is it, Art? Can't you see I'm a little busy right now?"

    "We're leaving for the next settlement, tomorrow at dawn. I thought I'd inform you, just in case you'd like to continue your travels with us." Arthur looked rather hesitant, but he tried to keep a friendly expression on his face. Ferris was a skilled fighter and a useful extra pair of hands, there was no questioning that, but he was also a headache and an overgrown child.

    Ferris grinned, "I'll think about it."

    "Alright," the warrior nodded in Gael's direction. "I hope you've finished preparing, the next settlement is quite a ways off and I doubt we'll run into any caravans or traveling merchants along the way." In the past five years, the country of Alencia had grown unforgiving and cold. And now, it was up to them and the many others who had heeded the call to journey towards the rift and purge the land of the evil that had befallen it.​
    #1 Fox of Spades, Jun 18, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2015
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    That story's a load of bull crap, Ferris.

    Gael shook his head as the wanderer recounted his "daring rescue", much to the fascination of a group of little kids. In truth, the real events were a lot less heroic. Sure... "Chickenlover" was surrounded by a buncha demons, but the ones who came in to help were a mage and a knight. Ferris here spent the entire time yelling out taunts and laughing whenever one of Megara's fireballs hit one of the blasted creatures in the face. Still, the way those eager faces shone with wonder as the tale marched on was a great incentive to lie. Maybe he should make something up too?

    Unfortunately the children didn't take a shine to him thanks to his strange appearance. His clothes were tattered swaths adorned here and there with colorful feathers and his pelt cloak was falling apart. The biggest denominator was on his face though; Gael had wider pupils akin to a bird thanks to his Symbiotic pact with Twinkleclaws, and his eyes had an ominous shine under the light of the bonfire. Stay away from the creepy man, kids...

    He gave Arthur a thumbs up when the paladin called on him for their inventory. He was sure they were ready, and even if they weren't, he could survive in the wilds. That was what beast-masters do.


    "I hate to interrupt the glorious story, but you two have set up your tents, right?"

    A woman with thick chestnut hair roped into a messy side ponytail approached their circle. She wore a traditional robe of faded crimson, the hems marred with lines of dried sludge and mud. As if she couldn't be any more open about her capabilities as a mage, a staff with a dark orange soul gem embedded on its tip was also strapped to her back. "Because I'm not helping either of you if you haven't. Especially you, bird man. You owe me a blanket." Megara bent down to fix her sandals, fingers passing through an armadillo by her feet, and in doing so shot a glare towards Gael.

    The templar made frantic gestures to convey his apologies. After all, it was his griffon who decided to tear through their camp a few days ago... Meg's blanket was one of the casualties. "He told me he was trying to chase a raccoon!" Gael signed again.


    Away from the campfire, a griffon had its face planted on the ground. A few of the others in the settlement watched the creature with interest, especially since its kind grew ever so rare after the rift reopened. A majestic beast capable of flight, it bore knights of legend from the skies to hail carnage down on a battlefield! It was thus an oddity to see one acting like... well... a regular fowl. All of a sudden it got up and plodded through the spectators, bumping into a familiar paladin in the process.

    Meg sighed as she approached the mess of people sprawled over the ground. The griffon, Twinkleclaws, squawked in a manner that said he was very proud of himself right now.

    "If we didn't need you, you'd be on a spit and roasting at this very second."
    #2 Warden, Jun 18, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2015
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    "Aw, come on, Meg. I was just getting to the good part. Besides, I can sleep under the stars." The young man's eyes flitted to the woman by the bonfire and he lowered his voice to a whisper. "That, or I can help keep someone warm for the night. What can I say? I'm a gentleman—holy Twinkleclaws!" Arthur was instantly knocked face-first into the dirt. Instead of helping like the gentleman he claimed to be, Ferris stared at his downed teammate before breaking into obnoxious laughter. "Haha, Art, you should have seen the look on your face!"

    "Ugh, there's no need for death threats, Meg." Arthur sat up and gave the griffon an awkward pat on its armored head. Being around the templar's beasts always made him a little uncomfortable, but Twinkleclaws was alright, and it was hard to be wary of a mighty griffon that carried such an...interesting name. Gael was strange fellow, but he was alright in Arthur's book. "I'd appreciate if you avoided knocking me over." Arthur gave the bird another pat before rising to his feet and dusting himself off. "Thank you for the assistance, Ferris."

    Ferris smirked at the Keeper's attempt at guilt-tripping him. "You're welcome, Art. Anything for you."

    At this point, the lady by the bonfire gave the companions of the obnoxious man a sympathetic shake of the head. Having to travel with such an immature loudmouth must have been a chore. Ferris was too busy laughing to notice her disapproving glance and approached Twinkleclaws for a high five. "You know, for an overgrown chicken, you're pretty cool. C'mere bird, give me a solid." Waiting for a response, he looked to the rest of his companions. "So the three of you are really leaving on that heroic quest, huh?"

    Once again, Arthur extended an invitation. "Yes, and you're free to come with us if you'd like, Ferris." They each had their own reasons, like the many others that had gone before them, but together, they'd have a greater chance at survival.

    "Maybe, you guys are quite an exciting bunch after all." Ferris save them a wink then made his way to the kid with his helmet.

    Arthur turned to Meg and Gael. "Think we'd be better off without him? Anyway, I suppose I'll be turning in for the night." ​

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    "Please don't hurt him!" Gael dashed over to where the griffin was and motioned in front of their mage companion. She had a fiery temper that matched her familiar's element, and the many times she threatened to make roast chicken out of Twinkleclaws in the past only added to his panic.

    Fortunately for him, murder wasn't on Megara's mind anymore... Now she was just offended at the lines Ferris was using. It was just so terrible! "Azurith's flying knickers, what was that...?" Meg sighed and placed her hand upon her brow as the wanderer proceeded to lay it on thick over the poor lady. After sharing a pained look with the other woman, she shook her head then turned away when someone called her name. "Oh and yes, yes, Arthur. I'll try not to use my evil stare on the poor baby chicken." Speaking of... She probably shouldn't be surprised that the giant fowl managed to bowl over a guy in a huge suit of armor. Arthur must be lighter than he looks.​

    Twinkleclaws cooed as the man gave him a pat, then proceeded to mess up the knight's hair with his beak. Ferris also got a mouthful of feathers when the griffon stretched one wing and draped it over the human.

    "That's how he shows his appreciation. Please don't stab him!" This time, it was Arthur that Gael frantically waved at. Fortunately he seemed far more mellow and approachable than Ms. ArMegeddon over here... "Shouldn't you come too, Ferris? The rift-" The others might have trouble understanding sign language, so Gael waved his arms in wide circles to emulate a gaping tear in the sky, "-threatens us all.'I'm sure that's the reason Meg and Mr. Arkwright want to go too."

    Meg finally got the message after a few more repeats and she shrugged. "I'm going mostly because people are insisting that mages did this. That's stupid. Buuut it wouldn't hurt to be heroic... I guess. That's probably up his alley though," she gestured at the tall and heavily armored guy in their group. They were both Keepers of Light- well, technically she isn't- but they can't be all noble and "HAIL AZURITH, HAIIIIL AZURITH' all the time, huh? Especially with the rift reopened and people from all factions looking for a scapegoat.

    No matter what they said the wanderer replied with a noncommittal tone of voice, then left the three to their own plans.

    "If he keeps his pick-up lines away from me, then sure. Bring 'im along," Meg shrugged once more when presented with the question. She glanced at the dark evening sky then bade her companions farewell, saying that while she wanted to stay up and chat, a mage like her had to make special preparations for a journey like the one they were about to make. This left Gael and Twinkleclaws staring at Arthur.

    The beast-master was neutral about the issue, since it seemed like he was weighing the pros and cons of having another party member. Eventually the two could no longer expound on any points and decided to give up for today. He bade the paladin good night and stayed by the campfire until the embers grew dim and few...​
    #4 Warden, Jun 19, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2015
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    "Just to make sure, everyone packed enough water for the trip, right?" Arthur was slowly slipping into the role of team dad. There was no questioning his confidence in his teammates' abilities, and he trusted they were all skilled individuals, but being the older brother of two hyperactive children made accidentally slipping back into the role quite easy. "Sorry," speaking about kids, thinking about Ali and little Devin strengthened the warrior's resolve and he found himself staring harshly at the widening tears in the orange sky. Like Meg, Arthur was leaving for the rift to clear the name of Keepers and mages everywhere. That, and to maybe find those that had gone missing several years ago.

    Arthur slung his knapsack over his shoulder before his eyes flitted to the beaten path ahead of them. The three of them stood at the edge of the sleepy settlement, and while the sun was already starting to rise, majority of the people were either fast asleep within their tents or nursing hangovers by the dying embers of the campfires. Try as he might, Arthur didn't see Ferris anywhere.

    "'Scuse me sirs and madam," crouched by a raggedy cart was a lanky man in a dusty coat. He eyed Twinkleclaws rather warily before a series of coughs interrupted his staring. "You headed north?" He raised a finger towards the sky and pointed at the pulsing rift in the distance.

    Arthur looked to Meg and Gael. Trench coat—check. Rattling cough—double check. This guy was kind of... shady. "Yeah, we're headed north."

    "Tsk," the shady merchant pulled a long frown. "Well, I just thought I'd help you brave warriors out. There's a terrible bandit problem up north. Robberies, assault, all sorts of crimes." Lowering his voice to a whisper the man looked left then right. "You didn't hear it from me, but people are being plucked off the streets, heard the bandits are farming bodies for rituals. I reckon it's just a rumor, but it never hurts to be informed."

    The thought made Arthur sick to his stomach. He liked to believe they weren't in hell yet, but with all the terrible people running amok, he couldn't help but wonder if the Gods had left them to perish and wallow in their sins. "Thank you, we'll keep our guard up—?"


    "Wait up!" Ferris leaped over a bundle of firewood, his ax strapped to his back and his helmet tucked under his arm. "I'm coming with you. Figured you three would need my skills, you know? Wouldn't want the demons getting you after all." His little dash through the settlement left him winded and Ferris huffed and puffed, cheeks flushed from all the running. He loved his axe dearly, but it was also frigging heavy.

    After mulling his choices over, he realized that if he stayed behind he'd never find a group quite like them again.

    A scary and hot pyro lady, a creepy looking chickenlover, and goody-two-shoes keeper. This group was an adventure waiting to happen and he wasn't going to pass up a free show. Not a chance. "So we're heading north, huh? Oi, Art, you look like you've seen a ghost."

    The shady merchant arched an eyebrow...the fate of the world rested in their hands.

    "Uh," Ferris reached out to pat Twinkleclaws. "Did I miss anything important?"
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    The morning was crisp and chill; there was no other sound throughout the camp save for gentle snores and mumbles coming from the ones sleeping around the campfire. Gael and his companion were used to waking up early. He was, after all, born into a family of hunters and his parents taught him to break fast hours before the sun rose over the horizon. He was also the least encumbered in their group in terms of equipment and supplies, confident as he was that they would find whatever they needed in the areas to come. Procuring food was also exceptionally simple when you had a party member capable of flight. “Yes, yes. You’ve asked that for the fifth time now. Have you even had your breakfast yet?” The templar signed towards Arthur when the man once again inquired after their water supply. In the two weeks their group had been traveling together, the knight came off as a keen and cautious type, so Gael didn’t put it past him to repeatedly check their travel details.​


    Meg, on the other hand, was anything but an early bird. Her job as a book mender didn’t require waking up at the crack of dawn and, if she really had to torture herself like that, coffee was an essential part of knocking off the drowsiness. She trudged through the camp with the speed of a turtle and barely paid attention to the suspicious merchant whom accosted them.

    “Farming bodies for rituals? Hmm,” Gael crossed his arms and frowned as he pondered upon the information. That was a serious accusation… Templars like him would go on a manhunt for charges less than that. His griffon mimicked his serious expression at first, but was distracted by a familiar voice nearing in on their location. It was Ferris!

    “Yeah, you big lug. We’re not going north anymore. Apparently there’s some bandits doing violent stuff there and I’m not looking forward to dying, so we’re gonna find another route. Right?” Meg stretched her arms while stifling a yawn. Her fire familiar, in its form as an armadillo, rolled away from the wanderer when he came too close.

    The only templar in the group looked troubled. “But the man said there were bandits ‘farming bodies for rituals’! Rituals mean magic. Magic involving bodies mean trouble… No offense, Meg. We should check it out.”

    The merchant couldn’t understand all the strange gestures from the man with the giant bird, so he just assumed that there was some sort of debate going on. “Well, your funeral. Just tellin’ you folks. Will I get compensation for warning you strong warriors?” He stretched his hand out towards the group, clearly waiting for recompense of some sort.
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    Arthur dug a copper coin out of his coat pocket and pressed it into the shady merchant's outstretched hand. Money didn't mean much in a world as Godforsaken as their own anymore, and he figured that knowing as much as they could about the rift and the possessed would do wonders in the long run. "I'm with Gael. We need to at least check the perimeter, Meg." As a Keeper of Light, he felt obligated to stop these deranged murderers and make sure that no other group of unsuspecting travelers fell victim to their evil schemes.

    "Wait, what?" Ferris narrowed his eyes at both Arthur and Gael. "This guy tells you there's a bunch of body farmers up north then you decide to go? Do you and Chickenlover have a death wish or something?" Sure, he wanted a show as much as the next guy, but he didn't want to get murdered by a bunch of crazy extremists. "Come on, I know I'm a pretty good fighter and that you guys can hold your own and stuff, but there's four of us, Art—oi, are you even listening to me... oh shit, he has that determined look on his face. Meg, why does he have that look on his face?"

    Arthur had locked eyes with Gael. The man was a Templar and he a Keeper, but he felt a connection between them, a kind of mutual respect. He didn't understand Gael's sign language fully yet, but he understood that the news had upset Gael and that his new friend wanted to drop by and check on things. "I'll gladly go with you, Gael. We can make sure those people get what's coming to them."

    "Meg, do something," Ferris whined. "Those two are madmen." For someone who boasted about his battle prowess quite often, Ferris could be a very whiny child. He had plonked his helmet over his head, pulling it over his eyes in the process.

    "Ferris, Meg, if you two wish to stay... Gael and I could always return for you?" He eyed the beast tamer and tried to gauge his reactions. "Er, I wouldn't want to drag you two into any unnecessary danger. But this isn't something we can just ignore either."

    Leave it to Arthur to pull the hero card on them. Ferris rolled his eyes then looked to Meg. "I guess we have to go along then." The calm voice in his head told him going north didn't sound like a good idea at all, but he was never one to listen to his familiar's advice, and for a wind spirit the bird could be such a stick in the mud. "I mean, someone's gotta make sure these two don't get themselves killed, am I right?"

    The merchant gave them a crooked smile. "Very right, sir. It's dangerous to go alone, but together, you strong warriors should be able to make it."
    #7 Fox of Spades, Jun 26, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2015
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    Well, it’s a pleasure to know that she wasn’t the only reasonable person in this group. Meg sighed loudly when Arthur and Gael stared deep into each other’s eyes, the aura of manliness and whatnot surrounding the both of them mounting by the second. Ferris was still panicking about the suicide mission and she really couldn’t blame him. “He looks like that because he’s up to something stupid. Listen to yourself, Arthur!” Now she could empathize with the old-timey tacticians or council members who tried to stop the hero from launching into danger.

    “Could you two stop making googly eyes at each other and listen to me first?” Meg stomped her foot down just as Ferris pulled his helmet over his eyes. The bromance was getting on her nerves already, and it wasn’t even 10 in the morning!


    Gael nodded at his companions and then gestured at his griffon. “That’s right. Technically, I’m the only one here who’s best equipped for this danger. You two should stay behind,” He sighed with his left hand. Unfortunately, it was as if Ferris took his words for a challenge and suddenly decided to join the mission. Er… He was being sincere when he said they shouldn’t come along! Only templars like him could stop hostile magic! “Uhhh. Okay then. Let’s go.” The beast-tamer started walking out of the settlement and towards the beaten path leading north. Their little discussion cost precious time, time they could’ve used to have travelled more distance.

    “You’re all insane! Old Scrubby here said bandits! Big bad raiders! Oh, did anybody forget that they travel in large groups? Unless Arthur here can take on twenty fighters at once, I’m still against this. Next thing we know it’s our bodies they’re farming,” Meg scoffed as she unwillingly trudged after the boys. It wasn’t too late; she could still change their minds! “Not to mention that we don’t have a healer. Enjoy bleeding to death, suckers.” Just because she was a mage meant that she could mend their wounds. Ha! Stupid stereotypes. Still, she felt like she was talking to a brick wall. Neither Arthur nor Gael seemed like they were going to back out of this stupidity.

    “It’s okay, Meg. I have herbs!” Gael thrust out a small pouch towards the woman and she took it, recoiling at once after giving the package a tiny sniff. “Azurith’s ass cheeks, that smells vile! What did you put in there, Butterbird’s droppings!? I’m not having any of these on my skin, thank you very much. Or within a five-meter radius of my person. Shoo!”

    “They work, you know.”

    “Don’t care. Still smells like piss. Ooh, wait, gimme some.” Meg dabbed her fingers in the suspicious concoction before lunging towards Arthur, smearing the stuff on his face before he could move away. Ferris wasn't spared the treatment too. The mage started laughing when Twinkleclaws sneezed, saying, "Heh. Talk about an olfactory onslaught. I bet this will keep those bandits away."
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    Fighting several bandits at once was not something Arthur wanted to do, but he felt that keeping innocent travelers safe was one of his obligations and so he trudged onward despite the worrying images Meg brought to life inside his head. "Relax, Meg. We've dealt with demons before. As long as we remain cautious, I'm sure we'll be able to handle a few bandits—what?" The fire mage pounce and smeared something onto the warrior's face. It took a moment for the smell to sink in, but when it did Arthur reeled back and clamped a hand over his nose. It smelled positively revolting.

    "Meg, that wasn't funny!" Arthur rubbed at his face until angry red blots appeared on his cheeks. "In fact... that was very immature of you."

    "It was pretty funny to me." Ferris raised his hand for a high five, but Meg had other plans and the wanderer let out a loud shriek when she rubbed Gael's stinky herbs onto his face. "The hell? Gods above Gael, what is wrong with you?!"

    For a bunch of warriors, they were acting a lot like bickering children.

    "Ferris," Arthur took a handful of herbs from the pouch Gael was holding and narrowed his eyes at Meg.

    Instantly, the wanderer understood what Arthur was trying to convey and grinned. Hey, maybe the guy wasn't such a boring rule book after all. "Ohohoho, you're getting it now, Meg." The smile on Ferris' face turned devilish and he reached out to pull Meg into a headlock. "Get your metallic butt over here, Art. Before she gets away!" He was going to pay for this, wasn't he? Oh well... it'd probably be worth it.

    "For Azurith!" The Keeper declared as he pressed his herb-filled palm against Meg's cheek.

    With their mission in the bag, both men shared a moment of camaraderie before the wanderer released Meg. One look at her face, and he instantly marched forward, leaving Arthur within striking distance. "Vengeance is sweet, but oh won't you look at the time?" He paused to peer sagely at the sky. "We're burning daylight, so let's forget this ever happened and move on. It's the mature thing to do."

    "Um," feeling a little embarrassed about his actions, Arthur took a step back and raised both hands. "Right, we're wasting both resources and time."
    #9 Fox of Spades, Jun 29, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2015
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    If the boys thought they were going to get away with that scot-free, well…

    Meg wiped her hands on her robes as they continued their walk uphill. After a day of walking, her clothes were already covered in dust. At least, the village should just be in the clearing ahead and they were ready to hit some hostiles. It was just their good luck that there weren’t any bandits lying in wait for them on the path there… It was odd, considering how strategic locations the hills were for a good ambush. Oh well! She wasn’t going to count her blessings! The mage raised her head to look at the skies where Gael soared for a better vantage point. That high up she could barely make him out, much less see what he’s looking at. ​


    The griffon descended near the group after a few minutes, and Gael hopped off to report to his friends. “Town seems empty…” The templar signed, worry apparent on his face. On the other hand, a relieved sigh escaped Meg’s lips. “Well, that shows it! Let’s get outta here!” She spread her arms wide in an exaggerated gesture towards the path they came from, but the beast-master only shook his head. He clearly wanted to check the area for more clues. Gods, why was she with the suicidal lot?

    “You know what? Fine. Let’s go into the ghost village. If something happens to us, I swear I’m roasting all of you until your skin falls off,” The pyromancer scowled and stomped off towards the settlement. Gael suddenly grew pale. She wasn’t joking. "Um. Does anybody want to stop her? I don't. Mr. Arkwright...? Ferris?" One look at both Arthur and Ferris’s scorched armor, not to mention his crisp leather bracers, sent a jolt of terror through him again.

    “Meg, wait, it’s dangerous!”
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    "Meeeeg," Ferris whined. "I'm on your side, don't be upset—IT'S DANGEROUS TO GO ALONE!" He yelled the last part out when the pyromancer began storming towards the abandoned city. "I tried. Oh well, dwelling on the past never helps. I say we move forward, take a detour, and meet her on the other side." That is, if Meg made it to the other side. Closed shutters, dilapidated buildings, tumbleweed... this place pretty much screamed cult HQ, or abandoned ghost town. "Oh boy, now Gael's a dead man too, guess it's just you and me now, Art."


    Arthur grabbed Ferris by the arm and tried not to roll his eyes. "You're overreacting."

    "Really, Art? Because you and Gael are being really big idiots right now."

    The Keeper released his friend as he jogged up to Gael and Meg. Arthur kept a hand on the hilt of his sword at all times just in case, but if anything, the town looked abandoned. "Can you sense anything, Gael?" He didn't quite understand how Templar magic worked, but figured their resident beast tamer could sense and banish magic. Maybe the bandits had moved on to another city.

    Not wanting to be left by himself, Ferris quickly caught up with his companions. However, before the wanderer could say a word Arthur shushed him and peered warily at the empty looking houses. If this was an ambush of some sort, then they'd certainly be caught in the middle of it. Out of the corner of his eye Arthur saw a movement coming from one of the houses. "Someone is watching us."

    On cue, the door to their left creaked open and a woman in her late thirties frowned at them. "You a group of travelers?"

    Arthur nodded. "Yes we are, ma'am."

    "You best get yourselves indoors before sundown." She was being a good neighbor and she motioned for them to follow her. "They come out a night, pick people off the streets. It ain't safe to travel in the dark, even in a group."
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    “Huh. Well, I sure won’t spend my vacation in this place,” Meg joked as she stood under the village’s dilapidated entrance arc. So… No ambush? Not even a single archer? Wow, this was underwhelming. She walked out from under its shadow in case the rusted old thing really fulfilled her expectations of falling down and braining any unlucky passersby beneath, but everything in this place was a liability. The mage stopped nearby a covered well, one hand placed on her hips, as she waited for the others to catch up. “Jeez… A group of bandits wiped out an entire town? The shitting shit just got real in here, Azurith preserve us.” Judging from the noise and shushes that immediately followed, the oversized chicken and its owner were clucking their way towards her now.


    Gael frowned as they moved further into the town complex. Arthur asked him whether he could sense any magic within the area, and try as he might, there was just nothing. “No, but perhaps we’re just far from the possible sources…” He signed, though the expression on his face was far from confident. Everything was blank. Considering that he dragged their group up here, the beast-tamer felt responsible for finding and delivering results…

    Everyone went on high alert when they realized they were being watched. Twinkleclaws puffed its chest out and spread its wings to appear much bigger, and flames enveloped Megara’s hands. Fortunately, the one which garnered their attention was just a civilian, and she had the grace to offer them shelter for the night. The mage extinguished the fire coating her skin and hopped towards the empty door before the others could. She was no idiot. All this standing around only made them sitting ducks!

    “Do you know what they do with the people they capture, Ma’am? Thank you for the hospitality, by the way,” Gael tried to make his gestures as understandable as possible, but it seemed that the woman truly did not understand what he was getting at. The templar turned towards his friends in desperation just in case they could translate for him. “So they come out at night, like bats?” Meg snorted as their ragtag group squeezed inside the cramped living room. She didn’t want to know how the griffon managed to get in, and she wasn’t about to ask. Still… These bandits sure stick to the classics huh? “Well that’s cliché. Anyway, what are you two supposed to do now?”

    "Us two?"

    "Uh-huh. You guys dragged us here, so you guys make the plan."
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    "Plan?" Uh, they didn't exactly have one to begin with, but there was no need to tell Meg any of that. "Gael and I will probably scout the perimeter, look around for clues?" The keeper nodded in the beast tamer's direction. "You and Ferris can stay here, it'll only take a couple of minutes, maybe an hour if we run into anything strange." Perhaps there was nothing more to this place than empty streets and decrepit buildings, but Arthur wanted to make sure. And they were here already, so the least they could do was look around.

    Right, Gael was trying to say something awhile ago. Now, if only he could figure out the entirety of the message. "Um, he says thank you."

    The woman stared at both boys with creased eyebrows and a deepening frown. "You're more than welcome to stay."


    Arthur, you suck. Ferris didn't say it out loud, but he mouthed the words slowly to make sure his travel buddy caught the message. "This nice lady is offering us a place to stay, I suggest you two get your butts in here while the offer still stands." Really, Meg was probably the smartest person in this group. Arthur and Gael were okay, but wow, heroism made people really stupid sometimes. This was exactly why heroes always died first.

    Frowning, Arthur looked to Ferris. "We'll be back soon."

    "That's what they all say," the wanderer could only shake his head at their stupidity.

    "Gael, maybe you could bring Twinkleclaws with us? He'd make an ideal scout." Arthur was already walking away from the house, his eyes fixed on the empty streets before them. Ferris was calling their names, but he didn't look back, they'd come back once they had finished.
    • Bucket of Rainbows Bucket of Rainbows x 1
  14. [​IMG]
    “There they go,” Meg sighed when the boys, despite numerous warnings that crossed over the passive-aggressive spectrum, left the house anyway. She was still convinced that they were out on a wild goose chase and that Gael was trying too hard to find something to show for his efforts. “Oh well. One of them is a walking metal can. They’ll be fine… Right, Ferris?”

    So. They were staying at this lady’s house for free, right? Now it was getting kind of awkward. Meg wasn’t a people person, and the longer she stood there thinking of something to say didn’t ease the atmosphere. Finally, the mage scratched her forehead and turned to the woman. “Uh, any chores you need helping with?”

    With Twinkleclaws flying overhead to give them an overhead view of the town, Gael was pretty confident that they would find whatever they were looking for in a short span of time. Unfortunately, the little village wasn’t so quaint… A much bigger team would have covered the entire area in a moment’s notice, but two people?

    Minutes passed and the templar stopped near an abandoned well. He leaned against its edge, eyebrows furrowed in concentration as he scanned their surroundings. Nothing but empty houses, and those with boarded windows might be full of terrified people. The lady told them the bandits come out at night, but he was hoping to find how they came in on the village. “Maybe we should take a break?” Gael gestured to his companion.

    Perhaps it was wiser for them to set out at night and, should the bandits appear, follow them back to their base? That would be dangerous, but… The templar tried to convey his thoughts to Arthur, when all of a sudden his griffon came swooping down. A cloud of dust blew up when the bird descended, though it was more concerned with the news it offered. “You mean they followed you? Zenara’s wrath! We’ve got warriors coming in from the left!” Gael swiftly signed before ducking towards the nearest cover he could find, tugging the keeper along with him. Just as Twinkleclaws relayed, a group of heavily armored cutthroats descended in from the opposite road. ​
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  15. [​IMG]


    "Chores, you say?" The woman's stoic expression shifted into a thoughtful one. "Now that you mention it, young lady, I do have a few things I need to get done." With a bright smile, the woman dashed across her house at a speed quite impressive for someone her age. "You're a bunch of young and strong adventurers aren't you?" Her tone took on one of flattery, and there was no mistaking the twinkle in her eyes as she made her way through the pile of laundry in the other room.

    Ferris gave her one of his winning smiles. "Of course ma'am. We're mighty adventurers."

    "Perfect, doing some laundry should be a piece of cake for mighty adventurers such as yourselves." The woman marched into the room, arms filled with week-old blankets and shirts. She pushed the crumpled, unwashed sheets into Meg's hands, the smile never leaving her face. "I also need you to fix that hole in the ceiling. Oh, and this place could use a new coat of paint, yes?" She rushed to the other room only to return with a toolbox and a can of white paint. The tools were quickly pressed into Ferris' hands. "If you could cook some dinner for tonight, that would be wonderful too."

    The wanderer shot his friend an irritated look, but he didn't speak until the old woman was out of the room. "Great job, Meg. You're helping me fix the roof and paint the fence. And since you're the fire mage, you should cook dinner too."


    "A break?" He was getting better at this sign language thing, right? "Yeah, that sounds like a plan to me—by the blood of Azurith." Arthur's hand shot for his chest when Twinkleclaws suddenly descended from the sky. Was something the matter? Watching the exchange between beast and beast master didn't help calm his nerves, and Gael suddenly pulling him towards cover alarmed the keeper.

    "Warriors from the left... how many are there?" His right hand immediately reached for the hilt of his sword. Arthur muttered a quiet prayer under his breath before slowly inching towards the edge of the wall. He poked his head out and eyed the armored men who were marching down the street. Two, four, there had to be at least eight of them, way too much to handle on their own. "There are eight of them, Gael. I suggest we keep our distance, maybe see where they're headed." The beast master didn't seem to have a problem with their plan so Arthur crept on before sneakily making his way towards a house across the street for cover. Pressing himself against the wall, he motioned for Twinkleclaws and Gael to follow.

    The group of bandits continued down the road before they broke into pairs. Judging by how each pair was going in a different direction, it looked like the men were patrolling the perimeters. "Think we can isolate a pair?" Maybe it was ambitious, but if they could get two soldiers cornered they could take care of the men swiftly and maybe get some information out of them too.
    #15 Fox of Spades, Jul 12, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2015
  16. [​IMG]

    Gael observed the bandits as they prowled further down the road before branching out in pairs. They didn’t seem very organized, seemingly bickering with each other about the simplest things such as their apparent patrol formation, and their armor were bits and pieces from whatever junk could be stolen off the road. Still… They had strength in numbers, and those muscular bodies told him these knaves had seen their fair share of fistfights. Though the templar dared to think he and Twinkleclaws could subdue four, five at best, due to his natural advantage over what appeared to be a bunch of disorganized, clumsy hoodlums, Arthur had a more rational plan in mind.

    “Okay,” Gael held his hand up before glancing over to where the brigands went. Those words brought his head down from the clouds and made him re-assess the current situation. His firsts wouldn’t fare well against iron armor, no matter how cheap they were… Maybe what he truly wanted to do was to prove that he was at his Guardian’s, Sif, level. Back to the point… They should head to the ones closest to their direction, right? “My companion will act as a decoy.” The beast-tamer explained the plan to the griffon through his thoughts, and Twinkeclaws shot to the sky quickly enough. “They will lose interest in him the longer the chase goes, so we have to move fast. Can you…? That armor looks heavy,” Gael straightened up from his crouch and eyed the keeper’s apparel with obvious doubt. They would have to keep their distance if they didn’t want Arthur’s heavy metal boots to ruin their chances of stealth.

    In any case, the two managed to trail after their targets with as much care as possible. Gael tried to do as much as he could with his instinct as a hunter, though it was a challenge trying to gauge the perfect distance between them and the bandits at the same time as watching out for reinforcements. However, the perfect opportunity presented itself when the men stopped short of a nondescript house. The templar couldn’t be bothered to see just what the location’s importance was. Now was their chance! “I’ll take the one on the left!”

    Gael quickly snuck over to the brigands and aimed his kick at the back of their leg. Unfortunately, this was also when he realized the reason why they stopped right here, right now! The idiots were taking a piss! A look of disgust crossed his face when the guy fell back, an arc of pungent yellow liquid following in his wake, but the beast-tamer was quick to follow up with another attack to the disgruntled teammate.

    Oh no, the old lady didn’t understand the concept of formality. Meg only asked that question because it was the polite thing to do, and the right way to reply was by saying “no, it’s okay”! Darn it. Well… It seems as though they’ve got no choice, unless she or Ferris wanted to be a jerk. Laundry was an icky job and she didn’t want to get up close and personal with a stranger’s unmentionables, so she would find a way to chuck that back to Ferris… Wait wait wait. Painting the house and fixing a hole on the ceiling!? The pyromancer slapped her palm against her forehead as soon as the list of chores stacked higher.

    “Yeah yeah, get your butt moving,” Meg sighed and trudged out to the yard where the water outlet was. Ferris followed too, probably because he wanted to finish the painting job first, and she could watch him from where she was wrestling with the sheets. “And I’m not cooking. My food might kill that old lady faster than you could say ‘geronimo’!” She protested as she threw absolutely everything to a dusty but wide basin, and then started pumping it full of water. Meg rolled up her sleeves and crouched, another sigh escaping her lips. It was quiet out here, and while the two of them were outside, they were in a cramped yard with what seemed to be a sturdy little fence. They were safe… and bored.

    “Now I wish we went with Birdhead instead…”
    #16 Warden, Jul 17, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2015
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  17. [​IMG]

    Arthur didn't have time to worry about whether or not the clinking of his armor would get them caught, because as soon as an opportunity presented itself, Gael was off. This was just one of the many things the keeper liked about the Templar. Quickly, he made a beeline for the bandit on the right. The poor fellow was hitching up his pants when two metal gauntlets were brought down on his shoulder. The weight of the blow brought the bandit to his knees and Arthur followed up his initial attack with a metal boot to the center of the kneeling man's back.

    The element of surprise had definitely served both him and Gael well.

    Arthur noticed that the bandit on the ground was reaching for his sword, so the keeper kicked away at the hand before pulling the sword out of said bandit's sheathe. Judging by how these bandits were acting, it was clear none of them had any proper training whatsoever. Arthur pressed the tip of the blade to the back of the bandit's neck and the man froze up and begged to be spared.

    The pleading made Arthur frown deeply, neither he nor Gael were planning to kill anyone... they weren't that kind of people. Well, he couldn't speak for Gael or Twinkleclaws, but the beast tamer was an okay guy. And as far as Arthur was concerned, a good man.

    "What... what do you want from us?" The bandit asked. He had his arms spread to the side and his cheek pressed up against the ground. "Do you want our gold? You can take it, we're just looking for supplies." He piped down when the cold tip of his blade brushed up against his skin. "We aren't looking for trouble, boys." The bandit noticed a familiar face in the distance, and he understood what he had to do, keep these men busy until reinforcements came. "Really, I'm Grant, a merchant from the north. Used to sell my wares by the Crystal Lake before Alencia went to hell."

    "It's true," the man Gael had taken down bellowed. "We're just two traveling merchants."


    "My favorite shirt," Ferris crinkled his nose at the white paint splatter on his sleeves. His helmet, shoulder pauldrons and chest plate were lying on the grass not too far from the bucket of white paint.

    "Your only decent shirt," the weary voice in his head snapped.

    Once again, the poor familiar was ignored. Ferris slapped a new coat of paint over the wooden fence then turned to face Meg. "Hey, that wouldn't be such a bad thing. If your food ends up killing her, we won't have to do the chores. And you can't cook?" The young man raised both eyebrows, the look on his face one of complete disbelief. "What kind of fire mage can't cook? I mean, if I had your powers I'd be roasting barbecues and flipping burgers and eating like a prince." The wanderer just shook his head in disappointment. "Anyways, maybe we should go after Art and Chickenlover, not to make sure if they're safe or anything, but doing chores in the middle of an apocalypse isn't very appealing." Come on, if they were going to die tomorrow he didn't want the last thing he ever did to be painting some old lady's fence. Talk about lame.

    "Besides, it's not like we'll ever see her again." His eyes flitted to the closed door of the old lady's home.
    • Bucket of Rainbows Bucket of Rainbows x 1
  18. [​IMG]
    Oh no, no, no. These guys were just plain old travelers? A wave of guilt immediately knocked down whatever resolve Gael had earlier as he stared down at the two. He threw his hands in the air and stepped away, clearly exhibiting his apologies through his body language, but it didn’t take long for logic to kick in. Siv always taught him to doubt everything and, while it was easier for him and Arthur to take them at their word, he had to root out every vein of doubt he had about the situation. It was safer that way!

    “Wait a minute!” The templar held a hand up and used the other to gesture for the captives to stay down. He glanced at Arthur with a frown, a crease on his brow as he quickly signed, “The merchants I know don’t leave their wares. From how they’re armed, I would believe them more if they confessed to being mercenaries. But... Um... Could you tell them to be quiet?” Bandits or no bandits, the way these people were yelling was bound to attract trouble.

    Little did Gael know...

    “Are you seriously planning to murder an old woman?” Meg whispered back as her hands pulled the dirty linens in and out of the icy water. The area around her basin was now drenched and soggy thanks to her subpar skill at washing clothes, but it wasn’t like their ‘employer’ minded how her new lackeys were taking an exceptionally long time to finish their tasks. As if he didn’t see how a proposed assassination attempt was a big deal- it wasn’t, she was just amused by the suggestion- Ferris immediately switched the topic to her cooking skills. Aw man, just when she was about to approve of the coup d’etat...!

    “Aw shut up, Ferris. You cook. It isn’t easy!” The mage stood up and dusted her skirt off, adding, “You know what, you’re right. Let’s scram. I didn’t use lotion for all those years just to wash dirty underwear. Eeeeew. I wonder how long these were in the- actually no, nevermind, I don’t want to know.” Meg tugged her sleeves down and stealthily stepped over the wash area, taking care not to make any loud noises. “Let’s go, let’s go!”

    Sure, sure, leave the chores unfinished...
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  19. [​IMG]

    Arthur had to agree with Gael, the pair didn't look like merchants at all. Merchants had carts and wares, and neither of the two had any of those things. Still, the Keeper of Light in him made him feel just a tad too guilty for his liking. "Can't be too sure in these trying times," he stated with what he hoped was a blank expression. The men continued to complain, and his resolve crumbled. Sienna always told him he was too soft for his own good, Arthur threw in a few reassuring words. "We're not bad people, just wary travelers like yourselves."

    Sensing Arthur's hesitance, one of the men pleaded in his most heartbroken voice. "Then please, be a good person and let us go."

    The second bandit lowered his eyes and tried not to focus on the reinforcements who were slowly sneaking up on the Templar and Keeper pair. However, the man couldn't help but smirk a little, and seeing the shift in the bandit's expression made the cautious Arthur feel a chill run up his spine. "Gael?" Instantly, he reached for the hilt of his sword, but just as Arthur spun around a fist connected with his face causing a sharp pain to shoot throughout his head. "Ambush," the keeper slurred as he clamped a hand over his bleeding nose and staggered back.

    With his free hand, Arthur unsheathed his blade and made wide horizontal sweeping motions to keep the advancing enemy at arms-length.


    "I wasn't planning to kill an old lady, Meg. Geez, get your facts straight. I just said it wouldn't be such a bad thing. Anyways, that's the spirit!" The wanderer put on one of his winning smiles before tossing the paintbrush over his shoulder and plonking his beloved helmet on his head. "Let's go save Chikenlover and Art from certain doom." Oh Ferris, if only you knew what sort of trouble they were really in.

    He marched past the gate with much enthusiasm only to pause after he had taken two steps. "Uh, so where should we look first?"
    • Bucket of Rainbows Bucket of Rainbows x 1
  20. [​IMG]

    Gael would have acted too, if the bandits they had caught earlier didn’t spring to action once their reinforcements arrived. The one he had pinned used the exact move the templar used earlier to bring him down, and thanks to the surprise, it worked. He crumpled down on knee, but instinctively curled up and rolled to the side after receiving a hefty kick to the ribs. Using his body weight to further his momentum, Gael got on his hands and swung his legs in a forceful upward kick. He managed to connect with something- someone- but it wasn’t long before another fighter came in to replace that guy.

    The templar did what he could to avoid getting hit, but it was a narrow alleyway and he had no space for any of his maneuvers. He could barely make out Arthur near the opposite wall, and could only hope he was alright. A blade cleaved through the air above his head, narrowly clipping a few strands of hair, and Gael stepped around the warrior then pushed him to his companions. A plated iron gauntlet immediately socked him on the face when he turned his face.

    “Man, you’re a real prize, Ferris,” Meg sighed and hit her forehead with the back of her hand. Here she thought this guy would lead the way, saving her from having to make terrible choices in the name of leadership! “And pipe down! Don’t want the old lady to know we’re staging an escape!” She brought a finger to her lips before throwing a look over her shoulder. A sloppily-painted wall and a mound of clothes thrown in a mix within a large brass tub... It would be fine if they actually completed their chores, but not doing those and leaving them in that state of incompletion was...

    The mage laughed uneasily and tugged her companion away. “Old women are scary when they’re angry... My grandmama sure was,” Meg muttered as they snuck away from the house. Of course, she had the sense of mind to walk away from the road that led to the town, but everything else asides from that was just random.

    After a few minutes, it was apparent that their search wasn’t going so well. “I don’t see them anywhere. What about you?” Meg sat down on top of an abandoned well then peered down at its depths. “Oooh, I’m thirsty. Wait a minute, okay?” She looked around for the bucket and then threw it down, where it hit the water with a loud splash.

    Sorry Ferris, looks like you two have to stop for a while.
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