Vision of the Storm

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by Spectre, Dec 3, 2015.

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  1. The large continent of Ajora fans out like a crescent, with the inside facing east. To the east of it’s easternmost point, and across the Whispering sea is a large off-diamond shaped icy mountain country called Midgard. To the south of this country lies another island country called Kubana, in the shape of a leftward moving paintbrush stroke. The southernmost point of the Ajoran ‘crescent’ is the land of the Regency- Fanethia. Across a small mountain range and to the north runs the rolling dunes of Ishtan, a dry desert. West of this across a treacherous mountain range is the land of Galgaroth, rivers and lakes a-plenty. North of Galgaroth on the outside bend of the Ajoran crescent lies the dense rainforests and rivers of Nemor. Out of the wood and across the riverlands to the east is the country of Nantenland, sat in the middle of plains, with spreading farmland. South of Nantenland closer to the ishtan border lies a small oblong peninsula called Liseria, the holy land.


    Book 1: Vision of the Storm


    "...for there were eleven beneath the Angel of Blood. Most feared by the minds of men was the beast of black lies. His down-turned spiraling horns weigh heavy upon his goatlike head, and his blackened eyes freeze the very souls they penetrate. Clawed hands and hoofed feet carry this beast in a twisting storm of ash and thunder, beneath his leathery, coal-black wings."
    -Dracleau, 1:3



    Prologue

    In the kingdoms of Ajora, It was a time unforeseen by all. Gremlins and ghouls from fairytales and myth came forth from the mountains, from the shadows of the trees, and the depths of the waters. Slowly spreading across the riverbeds, mountainsides, forests, and sprawling plains. Beasts in all manner of shapes and sizes stepped from the shade into the light, and began to carve out a name for themselves in ash and blood. It was a scar on the once beautiful continent. They began small, thieving from small camps and villages... This moved to attacking travelers and caravans, to the bravado of attacking small cities. I wish I could tell you that they were mostly unsuccessful, but none were prepared for what was to come. The first month saw the fall of a few small traveler’s camps. The third, the fall of small farm towns. The fifth- the monstrous force of evil overcame some smaller cities. It was a chaotic storm of terror and malice...

    The day before all this began- it was rumored by the priests in the peninsular Liseria that their seers have all shared the same falling dream: Visions they would see while they were awake. Their eyes would roll back, they would proceed to black out and collapse (the non-believers tended to pass these off as epileptic- seizure episodes). They all shared the vision: a flash of light, a halo of pure rage and darkness lower from the sky, calling forth the minions of chaos. Flickering stills of death, despair, and the survival of their enemies brought by a coming storm. 'Followers of Evil will rule this land', they said. It would have been passed off by the Vicar and the Ajoran King; however the story was the same from all over the land. Imams of the Ishtar, Seers of Ruvelia, Shamans of the Midgardian mythos, and priests of Kubanese theisms....everyone who was touched by the greater magics saw the same thing.

    After the first month, all the major cities in the countries were made aware by couriers that something was wrong, and the King was calling a Summit of Nations. The first they've had since the beginning of the peaceful Rule of Lord King Laewyn, years ago.

    From his sickbed, he called forth the heads of each country. The king was unwell, as it were. He had contracted some sort of illness that had him on a slow and painful decline. Fortunately, it did not prove to be contagious in the least. He swore to rise from his bed for the summit, as his beloved kingdom was at stake. In his age and sickness, he became more and more reliant on the words of one of the heads of the ruling Church- the Ruvelian Vicar, and was dead set that the prophecies were true. To the chagrin of his Queen, he was still adamant on governing in his state.

    So they came to the capitol. They all came. The red white and gold robes of Liseria, the proud and honorable Kubanese, the hardy Midgardians, the Rangers of the Direwood, the High Nobility of Galgaroth, humble lords of Nanten, and the Sultan Lord of Ishtan,.

    Each came in their convoys befitting of their countries. The large city at Faneth Castle, also nicknamed Crown City, was large enough to accommodate each country’s troupe without worry. The city was warm, and near the sea. Its architecture was beautiful, even to the people who have lived there all their lives. White and sandy colored stone, archways and pointed spires. Rectangular windows and hanging green ivy spotted with red flowers. It looked like it belonged near the sea, like a paradise on its own. Each house and their protectors stayed in separate parts of the city near the castle, booking expensive Inns if needed, or otherwise using the grounds outside the castle.


    Before the summit commenced, the throne held an extravagant feast, so the houses to eat and drink their sores away from their long, long journeys. Some travels taking a month or longer to arrive...

    This will be the chronicling of the journey to chart the storm, and pull away the shroud of mystery...​
     
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  2. Desmun

    He sat on the side of the bed before falling back with a sigh. His golden armor over his green vest rattled lightly against the bed. A tall rectangular window leading to a balcony shed a long beam of warm light into the room, and onto his face. He closed his eyes, but it wasn’t enough. All he saw behind his eyelids was a fierce red-orange color. He groaned to himself, and flopped a hand from his side to cover his face, palm up. Slowly, he moved his forearm over to cover his eyes. His off white colored shirt was soft against his eyelids and forehead, and the minimal break from the light gave him slight comfort... He hadn’t slept well during his travels. Once they left the woodlands of Nemor it was mostly wide open road, peppered with thin forests and mountains. He never felt secure in the 'wide open'... Now, at least- he was of the road, but into the hustle an bustle of the city.

    His sleep in the Inn's bed the night past didn't prove to be worth much as he now had a persistent throbbing headache, and his eyes felt dry and swollen. He and a few of the other Noble houses spent the previous night drinking hard, flirting, and singing songs. He remembered awakening for a moment- an hour or two before sunup- to a lady leaving his bed. After what seemed like a blink- he awoke, and the sun had risen to his dismay. Since then, he freshened up and got himself ready again.

    He removed his arm from his face and breathed deeply, inhaling the smell of saltwater, and whatever type of sweet potpourri mixture that was sitting atop a table in the room. It was all so different to him, the extravagance. He had been to the Crown City three times, and he was still unused to its charms. There was something about it that always just felt so superficial to him. Always being more happy in his humble home in the wood.

    He had spent some time here apprenticing with the prime lawmaker in the Royal Court at the beginning of the year, and his term had finished for a few months as he returned to Nemoria. Having just been here no more than six months ago, it didn't seem like he had spent enough time in either place before he was back here- and away from his home again.

    * * *
    He then heard the heavy knock at his door, one he had been waiting for for a good forty minutes now. Without further warning, the door began swinging open with a creak, and hollering boastfully with a loud baritone,

    "Good morning, Nephew!"

    It was his uncle, and his Lord. His stomach growled, and his face drained of blood, feeling feint for a moment.

    "Ugh..." he replied as he sat up slowly, his forest green and brown embroidered cape unfolded behind him as he raised. "Not so loud-" he exhaled with a smile as he stood slowly, preening his short brown beard.

    His uncle shook his head and placed his hands on his hips, then gesturing him to follow,
    "Come, come. We haven't got all morning. His Grace will be waiting."

    Desmun had to steady himself after standing. Blinking his bloodshot, honey brown-eyes, gave a final strong breath of intestinal queasiness, and made for his green-clad uncle.

    Heading down the large square cobblestone streets crowded by all it's people- corralled by the magnificent white and sandy colored buildings. Desmun eyed all the well-placed shade trees, hanging flowers, and ivy growing at corners and near windows of facades and walkways. He and his uncle were followed by a few other younger men clad in greens, browns, and golds.

    "Ah- your father dreamed of coming here for something such as this..." His uncle said, talking through a thick mustache and goatee. He gave his nephew a hardy slap on the shoulder as they walked. Desmun felt a lump roll up his esophagus. He fought it down immediately with a sour face.

    "I figured he'd be just as happy staying in the wood..." Desmun replied, "He was always kind of an introvert like that."

    Giving a chuckle, Desmun's uncle shook his head and looked to the ground for a few paces.

    "You may be right... Though it's not like -I- don't envy him..." he was The Lord Eugene Barast. The head of House Barast, and the leaders of Nemoria. He removed his hand from his nephew's shoulder. Lord Barast was a large man. Tall, Wide, and aging slowly. He had that look about him, that in years past he was a muscular, lean, bull of a man- and it was true. However he now gained some fat to cover his muscle, and his dark, pulled-back hair was beginning to sprout grey. "But he's my younger brother, and He is the rightful one to stay and protect the Direwood while us real men do business." he snickered and continued up a flight of stairs to the castle.

    Well-armed guards stood at the edges of the stairs, acting as general peace keepers. Their plate armors shined in the hot sun, and despite hating every minute of it- they needed to be here. The city had become very crowded since news of the summit broke out. Everyone wanted to see all the countries together again, this was history. This wasn't something to take lightly.

    "You're too much, Uncle." Desmun laughed back, climbing the stairs beside him. He stood right beside his Uncle, and they remained in step. Behind them was Desmun's young brother- a sort of squire to Lord Barast. He couldn't have been any more than 13. What else, is he was dressed for the occasion. Dark greens atop browns and lighter greens, with a yellow shoulder cape and a short sword at his hip. Aside the young squire was Desmun's other uncle, the youngest of three. Dressed in Dark browns and green formal attire. They had three elite guards that met them at the top of the stairs from Nemoria- hand picked by Lord Eugene Barast himself. Rangers with keen eyes, and sharp senses. They greeted them kindly, and offered to continue to the Castle.

    Spires and buttresses, as well as the overhang to the entrance door of the castle's keep provided shade to them as they entered. The bustling city noise quieted exponentially as the enormous double door was shut behind them by two DoorGuards. They entered the long throne room hall and took the first left at a large reinforced door guarded by a particularly dangerous looking soldier.

    Stopping at the closed door, the Castle Guard gave a look over all of them, Pulled a ledger from under his arm, and nodded.

    ***

    They entered the room with the clank of the door... King Laewyn sat at the end of a long rectangular table, slumped back in his chair. His long gray beard and salt and pepper short hair were made apparent in the sunlight from a nearby open window. The young Barast squire headed immediately for a chair against a wall, a good five yards from the table in the center of the room.

    Lord Barast addressed the guardsmen to standby with the Squire, as well. The Nobility would need to sit at the table.

    There, already sat at the table was the Head clansman and lord of Midgard. A large wooden round shield hung from the back of his chair. It was painted white with a black howling wolf's head in the center. This was the Lord of clan Vargen, and his two cohorts sitting next to him. He was a rough looking man, Fur around his neck, and black cloth garments covering him. Long blonde hair and a long blonde beard tied up and braided- covering his strong jaw contrasted his dark clothing. His eyes a fierce blue locked onto Lord Eugene. He stood quickly and gave a smirk,

    "Ahh.. Lord Barast!" he called as Eugene went to shake his hand.

    Near the King stood the court lawmaker, who immediately recognized Desmon. He gave a content look as he approached and outstretched his hand to shake.

    "Good to see you again so soon." his voice sincere.

    "Likewise, Master Robben." Desmon replied taking his hand in a firm shake.

    "Are you ready to get on with business?" he asked near sarcastically. He knew it would be a while before there was any business tended to.

    "Ready as always." It seemed to set in on him the serious nature of this conference.

    As time passed, The other members of the other houses entered, slowly making their way to empty seats at the table. Desmon looked eager to the door while making small talk with the others, in hopes of seeing any members of the houses he recognized from drinking games the night before....
     
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  3. Haldan Foloth
    Dawn found Haldan Foloth already awake, fully dressed in cloth and padding and armor, and practicing forms with a fully metal shield and axe in his small inn room. The time was quite normal for him, after having been trained hard in his youth with a simple message drilled over and over into his head: a minute of wasted daylight is a minute of wasted life. Old Ser Gaffold, a knight long in the employ of House Foloth, had been a ruthless but effective trainer in the arts of combat. The metal training implements were also his doing, being far heavier than anything a man of sound mind would bring onto a real battlefield: train for something harder than life will ever throw at you, the old knight had said time and time again, then you'll be prepared for when she throws it at you anyway. Now, many years after the elderly warrior full of sage advice had been returned to the earth, the sun rarely crested the horizon without finding Ser Haldan Foloth already doing some training for the day with his monstrously heavy implements.

    As usual, his mind wandered as his body went through the forms with the smooth grace of familiarity. As usual in recent days, his thoughts quickly fixed on a simmering sense of annoyance. This whole trip, playing bodyguard for the lord of Galgaroth to the Summit of Nations, was feeling more and more like a silk glove slipped over a backhanded compliment rather than a true honor. Galgaroth was nigh under siege from hordes of foul creatures, and where was Ser Haldan Foloth, where was Haldan the Savage, where was Haldan the Hero of Gorbet's Hollow? He was off in Faneth of course, not back home holding the line against the vicious monsters, as any knight worth his salt ought to be. His mood was not at all helped by the fact that a large portion of those chosen to accompany the Galgarothi lords (though many of them had chosen to stay home and protect their lands rather than come along, Haldan's father and older brothers among them) were commoners, which made firm point that needed no words. All in all, the invitation to come to the Summit felt like a mockery to him: sure, he'd saved Gorbet's Hollow, but that was just a tiny mining town full of peasants that didn't matter; sure, he'd done well in his training and in tournaments, but nobody but commoners cared about showy deeds outside of real combat; sure, he'd done well against the monsters flooding Galgaroth, but not well enough to be key to fighting them off so it made no difference if he left the battlefield. He felt like he was being told he was expendable, just useful enough to dress up and look nice as a guard but not useful enough to stay home and fight. It would be almost funny if not for the fact that that sort of message was beginning to feel like the theme of his life.

    Haldan finished his exercises and realized that he was grimacing and gripping his axe hard enough to turn his knuckles white. Apparently his anger wasn't as firmly under his control as he'd thought, which was another recurring theme these days. He slowly pushed the anger away, breathing deep and slow, reminding himself that he should only ever live up to the appellation of the Savage when it came to fighting. It took him a couple minutes, but he managed it. He kept his mind carefully clear as he put his training weapons away and went to the water basin set on the small table in the room to wash away some of the sweat of exertion. Within a few minutes he was calmed down and on his way out the door, headed for the much nicer inn the lords of Galgaroth had acquired.

    The bottom edge of the sun was just cresting over the horizon when Haldan got there, and he was mildly surprised to see he wasn't the first to arrive. Most of those standing about appeared to be commoners, likely folks used to waking this early to go plow fields or something similar, though a couple others of high birth stood out from the crowd. He noticed a few in the disparate group appeared to be suffering from the lingering effects of a night of drinking, which only served them right for being fools enough to drink heavily while ostensibly representing Galgaroth here in the Crown City. Haldan took up a spot just next to the door to wait for the lords to emerge, keeping to himself as he waited.

    It took a couple hours, during which time the rest of the guards and more or less honored guests from Galgaroth showed up, but eventually the fine lords of Galgaroth emerged ready to head to the castle. Haldan took a position to the front, helping to clear the streets of early morning traffic so the Galgarothi contingent could pass through swiftly. Irksome though the duty and his presence here in Faneth was, Haldan did his duties without any outward complaint. He kept his eyes forward and vigilant as he marched ahead of the convoy, easily able to keep himself from gawking at the sights of the lovely city thanks to sheer discipline, unlike many of the less trained fellows marching alongside and behind him. Nobody in the streets caused any trouble, so the party from Galgaroth made good time up to the castle. Most of the group stopped there in the courtyard, left to wait until the lords were ready to leave, but Haldan was not among them. He was one of those who had been named to go along and attend the summit proper, partly in his capacity as a guard and partly as a representative of House Foloth, which was the one thing that kept his presence here from feeling like a complete waste of his time.

    They made their way up through the halls and into a room with a large table, at which sat a variety of lords. Those from Galgaroth filtered in and took seats of their own, but Haldan remained standing with the other knights; he was no lord so he figured he had no right to a seat despite his noble blood. Haldan stood and maintained his vigilance, eyes never resting on one spot for long, as he waited for the summit to get under way. The sooner the better, so far as he was concerned, for that would mean the sooner he could get home and get back to feeling like he was making a real difference in the world by fighting off the creatures that sought to tear down everything his people had built.​
     
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  4. Silas Morningstar



    Silas awoke that morning with misgivings about his place amongst the nobility of Fanethia and Galgaroth. Though he had participated in the previous night’s drinking festivities, he suffered no ill effects. He had been smart enough to consume only one flagon of the foul-tasting liquor the inn had served (he’d never been overly fond of the stuff in general), conversing with some of the others attending the summit as they drained their glasses and told their stories. Silas had merely pretended to drink anything beyond his first glass in order to keep up appearances, and by then most of the others were too deep in their cups to notice. He enjoyed the tales he heard, but was skeptical of the merit of a few, as they seemed to have been embellished for dramatic effect. Still, it was clear he was less experienced than a lot of the men and women in attendance, and his commoner status was something he was reminded of all too well at a gathering such as this.

    That became painfully clear the minute he was aware that Ser Haldan Foloth had been recruited to guard the Lord Galgaroth on this journey. Haldan was a bit of a legend in Silas’ social circle, and unlike Silas himself it wasn’t for having a crazy family. Ser Haldan had many accolades under his belt, not the least of which was rescuing (or avenging) the people of Gorbet’s Hollow. Silas couldn’t begin to understand how someone like him had been chosen for this mission when there were much more suitable candidates for the task. Hell, the term “Morningstar Madness” haunted him to this day, despite the general acceptance by the people of Galgaroth over the years. His family name was a bit like a stain you could never wash out.

    Silas contemplated all this while strapping the last piece of his armor in place before securing his sword and sheath. The blue, rightward-facing lion of Galgaroth emblazoned on his chest plate did little to quell his nerves. Of course he was humbled to be here to protect his lord from orcs and other miserable creatures or potential assassins, but he couldn’t help but wonder if maybe his presence here wasn’t more political than anything. Perhaps they were only dragging along the “charity case” to prove how generous and fair they were to the other nations at the summit . . . .

    The young man grunted. “I’m starting to sound like my father,” he murmured in disgust. Silas took stock of his appearance so as not to forget anything and then headed out to join the Galgarothi contingent that was marching down the streets of the Crown City. He was neither in front nor in back, but walking along the left-hand side, his eyes momentarily lingering on the crowd and well-designed buildings. Not out of curiosity, but a (likely) paranoid mindset that anything could happen at any time, and he needed to be ready when it did. It was an instinct ingrained in him as a child thanks to his father’s and grandfather’s conspiracy theories about the people of Nantenland. Every day, he worried about slipping and turning into them, as if their madness had been genetic. But he did his best to treat everyone fairly regardless of nationality or status. One, because it was right; and two, because he’d be damned if the black cloud his father and grandfather had left him continued to follow him around for the rest of his life. “Morningstar Madness” would soon be a term that blinked from existence, just like Joseph and Mikael themselves.

    When the Galgarothi host arrived on schedule more or less unscathed, Silas relaxed. A little. There was still the matter of the summit itself to contend with, and there was just no telling how the talks would go. Standing there in the room where all the nobles were seated, including King Laewyn himself, made Silas feel small indeed. He was not of noble stock, nor was he a hero of any kind. He was a common blacksmith turned caravan guard due to an unfortunate incident at a farmer’s market. What could he possibly have to offer these people? The young man took a deep breath, standing tall and straight despite his doubts, doing his utmost to represent his country with all the courtesy and strength required of him. He may not have been born rich, but he never lacked in manners or general social graces, which was surprising given how he was raised. It was a gift he attributed to his loyalty to Galgaroth and its people—a loyalty that had never wavered, and never would. Or so he hoped. The idea that his beloved country could ever do anything to disappoint or shame him left a taste as bitter as bloodroot in his mouth.

    He shifted his thoughts and took a quick look around the room. King Laewyn managed to exude a regal air even though it was obvious he was dying. His pallor was off, his hair seemed even whiter than usual (though Silas had only seen the man once, and that was as a child visiting Fanethia), and he was slumped back in his chair, as if he hadn’t the strength to sit up. Silas was amazed the man had made it here at all, and admired his courage and willful attitude. Even if King Laewyn was just stubborn, that in itself was rather impressive if it had carried him here. Then there was another man. This one was full of life, covered in dark fabric and fur with a mop of long, fair hair and a braided beard. He was a brute of a man. Judging by his dress and looks, Silas assumed he was one of the lords of Midgard. Another man, this one strong too but with a little more weight to him, was also there. In earth-toned hues and gold, it was a safe bet the man was Lord Barast of Nemor. Silas had never seen him, but he’d been to Nemor once on his caravan runs. It was a beautiful country. One Silas wouldn’t mind visiting again someday.

    The Crown City was pretty too in its own way, he supposed. Yet he never felt more at peace than when he was looking out over the rivers of Galgaroth, or taking a break under the shade of a tree after a hard day’s work. Lately though, finding a moment to rest while on guard duty for Galgaroth’s many caravans was nigh impossible. Elves and goblins were making life difficult all over. Thinking about his last run brought a brief grimace to his face. He was starting to feel guilty, standing here listening to talks while his people were being hurt or killed trying to make a living. He found himself hoping these talks would amount to something important, like taking up arms against all the creatures that had been crawling out of the woodwork as of late. With them gone, it would be back to business as usual, dealing with bandits and members of the Forgotten Brigade who found robbing caravans of the noble houses completely justified. Handling threats like that was more than enough for his people. They didn’t need orcs, elves, and all manner of goblins raining hell down on them as well. Silas sighed, brushing a stray lock of auburn hair from his face as he waited patiently for the summit to commence.
     
  5. Valkirus had arrived with the Party of Direwood, he was currently serving as a ranger apprentice one of many under his lord, they had arrived to a lavish feast and celebration though it was to calm the wounds from the travels they had all taken to reach this great summit, for such an occasion it could be said to be rather negative in his eyes, the times at hand could we afford to waste this time eating rather than hearing what is to come and what is planned to go ahead, how we will act under our Great Lord.

    In addition he had no plans to dull his senses, it was his first time ever coming to the Crown City, it was a place he had yet to develop a living map of in his mind and thus he had to cultivate such a thing rather than destroy this opportunity under the power of wine, women and ale, though he would appears as would be mandatory expected of his in his full country dress at the feast, he would leave as soon as possible and begin wandering his way around the city for many hours in till his feet and legs felt tired from walking upon the stone laid streets.

    This place was different to Direwood, the air was filled with the smell of the sea as the salt and brine filled the air of the night, it had a weird feeling to it though it might be because of the fact he had grown used to the smells of the lands he came from, it was a world of stone and metal far from the grand forests that made up his world, in his eyes it had some majesty alongside the ugliness of it, nature was all but abandoned here but for the few small plants that people here would refer to as "weeds" that could sometimes be seen breaking through the stonework in the less worked parts of the city.

    The streets at night were interesting, though it was mainly due to the movement of extremely drunk noblemen, it seemed the women of the night of this city made use of such a time, those men whom hadn't tried or had failed in their attempts to charm one or more of the young ladies at the feast may well have fallen into the bosom of these women, though he couldn't blame them for plying their trade, the noblemen would likely see there pockets somewhat lighter in the mornings, though Valkirus avoided contact with anyone of the sort, he had no interest for any action for now, he had to prove himself in the coming summit and with a extremely rough and sketchy map engrained in his head of a few sections of the city, Valkirus returned to his loggings for the night, though they seemed rather bare as it seemed very few of the Ranger Apprentices had returned maybe as one of the seniors he should have been watching them but he can not be their forever for the young bloods.

    Before he would snooze for around four hours, Valkirus would clean and prepare his garments for the morning, though he was their to test his observation, he had to appear in attire suitable for such an occasion with those prepared and his equipment cleaned, Valkirus would rest seated, he would not lay in his bed this night, he at least had the respect to snooze facing the door should any of the young bloods return this night.

    ...

    Before sun-up Valkirus was prepared, his eyes suited the night better and he preferred to adjust them to the day slowly, he was prepared for the summit and awaited in an agreed spot to join with his colleagues whom would be standing and observing the conference from the edges, the summit hall was a serious place and those whom broke the respect of it Valkirus believed would be punished heavily, though a number of the people in the hall were rather worse for wear.

    Other dignitaries would soon arrive and the summit would begin soon... a time was coming, a new ending would be written in the sands and the soil, what would fate bring them.
     
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  6. A few more people entered...

    Lord Malcolm of Nantenland entered, wearing red and white, trimmed with gold stepped through the door, greeting people as he made his way in. He had the air of a king- himself. His protectors stood aside while he and his dignitaries moved to the table.

    The Sultan Lord of Ishtan waddled to the table, as well as his cohort: Ehab- one of the scribes, as well as a few others. The young Kubanese emperor and his queen entered, and their fearsome warrior cohort stood aside.

    King Laewyn shifted in his seat and gave a cough. Covering his mouth with a handkerchief, shaking lightly due to the stress it has put on his body, he cleared his throat. This was a sign that the summit was likely about to begin, as now everyone was in attendance. Everyone made their way to their seats if they were standing about chatting idly. It again began to dawn on them. This was the first time that all the countries have met at once in near Eighty years. Desmun of Nemor had eyed the King and scooted his chair foreward, grasping out for a stem of grapes on the table.

    The table was long, and specked with wooden plates and metallic platters of bread, pastries, fruits, and cheeses. There was milk, mead, and a multitude of juices in different pitchers available to the patrons on the table. Plenty of things to keep the emmisaries and the leaders of these large countries happy during what would likely be a long, long conference.

    Blinking to the sharp noise of a last cough, he watched King Laewyn trying to prepare his lungs and his body for talking loudly enough for the entire table to hear. His face looked tired and pained. His body was weary now, as the chair slid back beneath him as he rose to his feet. This was not how he imagined his King. He had met him once before, but it still didn't seem like the same man as before. Desmun imagined a king- the way that Laewyn himself used to be. Some at the table would remember him in his younger days. House Grigori- now the royal house, has been on the throne for two generations. They fought in the hundred years' war and were finally able to bring the houses together in a summit of nations. They were generally well liked, but there was still rebellion, those resistant to change. There were still battles throughout King Laewyn's younger days. He was a proud warrior and even a hero in his youth. Fighting on the battlefield with the pride of a lion, and skill of a master. His actions as a youth gave him overwhelming support on the throne when his father was too old to rule. He was also known for being slightly lax for a ruler, especially as the years came to him. Some time in his sixties his health began declining slowly. Though now that the large storm has arrived- it seemed to be speeding his tragic decline.

    The King sighed and sat up straight,
    "Ladies and Gentlemen, you all know why it is that you are here." he said, his voice frail, but feigning strength. "Something is upon us that means to rid us of this land." he said, full conviction in his voice. It brought back the reality of the situation that was all but forgotten the night before. "We are losing ground at an overwhelming rate." He paused for a moment, leaning forward onto the table.

    Attention was turned to the Ruvellian Cardinal sitting next to the King, as he seemed to pass forebodings:
    "The storm brings a terrible omen with it.."

    The blonde man from Midgard continued to reiterate their dire situation, speaking up,
    "Our lands have been all but over-run. Most of the population of all Midgard has attempted to migrate from their homes to the Misty Mountain Hold, and the mountains. They have nowhere else to go."

    The Head of the Kubana empire spoke up immediately after, "We are at complete loss. We are holding off swarms of these... these... abominations night by night! It is only matter of time before they begin gaining ground. We lost several of our port cities in the first night of their arrival!" His thick eyebrows furrowed, and his mouth pursed underneath his long, thin mustache.

    Attention was brought to the other side of the table once again as the Head of Midgard continued, "And look at what happened to Galgaroth. Such unrest has reached the people's morale. People are dying, killing other people. Even the noble house has been touched."

    This was making reference to the ruling family in Galgaroth being attacked- either directly or indirectly- and the house lord ending up dead.

    They all looked over to the current house lord for their country. Desmun passed him a look of sympathy. Yes... the Galgaroth family was almost all killed in one night's fire. An assassination no doubt... The king shook his head and spoke loudly before anything else could be said,

    "I will not have this become a shouting match." he glared around the table. He was trying to get the subject changed, in case the wound of Galgaroth was still fresh. "I was not finished..." He continued to go over the statistics of how much ground each country had lost. Ishtan and Fanethia had yet to be hit with much force, but Galgaroth, Fanethia, Midgard, and Kubana were all hit with full force, Nantenland and The Direwood were also hit but not nearly as hard as the others, on constant watch for the vicious and clever elves. Liseria was starting to see the hordes at their borders and staving off small waves. Midgard was relegated to their final cities and mountains in the northeastern Quarter. Kubana was pushed back to the walls of the Kyuuden empire, and small outcrops specked across the island.

    it was made clear that no single country would be able to withstand a long campaign against the plague of monstrosities knocking at each country's gates. Maybe a few years' stalemate at best before being swept away slowly. The question was brought up then,

    "Well, what do we do? We can't sit and wait to die!"
    This was the question, spurred by the Kubanese empire that put almost everyone over the edge. Desmun's head fired left and right, as so many people began to pipe up.

    "Galgaroth needs the help of Nemor and Ishtan!"

    "Ishtan will not whore itself out and leave itself unguarded in case of attack!"

    "Nemor can't give any assistance until we know her borders are secure."

    then the Cardinal added again, his calm voice over top the chaos.
    "The storm grows... It is only a matter of time... The gate of Abbadon will open, and the armies of Gehenna will pour forth, lead by Velius himself."

    This caused a room's silence, and Desmun raised his eyebrows. That name- Nobody had heard the church use that name so openly in ages. In the Ruvellian religion, Velius was not a name to be passed around without the suspicion of severe misfortune or death coming to your door. A superstition that they were not to speak lightly of- this Velius. It was never forgotten who, or what Velius was, but everyone there, even the Ishtan sultan gave a blank, silent look. The King himself looked surprised that the Cardinal used the name.

    "Cardinal Naemon-" the King plead, "You aren't serious..." he said, at first with disbelief and accusation, then giving a look with an air of sincerity and realization. The King had become a very religious man in the past fifteen or twenty years. His lips began moving before any sound came through, speaking as if he were reciting something- "From the unholy darkness..." and trailed off, muttering in the same tone, lips still moving inaudibly... Whatever he was thinking all of a sudden seemed to make sense to him. Glad he didn't share the same religious conviction, Desmun shook his head and his eyes narrowed. He then looked to see what the cardinal was doing. The Cardinal sat there, the same look on his face as he had when he sat down. Sincere, ready for business, holding a look of fatherly concern. Mouthing something of what appeared to be more Ruvelian scripture. For the first time, Desmun wished he payed more attention to his religious lessons.

    The Sultan Lord spoke up, "You mean to tell me that your false gods are the reason for your demise?" he almost laughed. "Then maybe that is why none have touched the Ishtan borders." Chuckling, insinuating that they remain safe because they don't believe in whatever being they were speaking of.

    "Then why have they stepped into our borders?" The midgardian accent cut through the conversation again-

    The cardinal looked to the Sultan,
    "Your most trusted Imams, and pujari had the same falling dream." he shook his head. "You know it's only a matter of time."

    "And who is to say they weren't tainted by your Ruvellian donkeys?" he asked, "I had my pujari imprisoned as soon as I heard that he shared a falling dream with Ruvellian priests." he snorted. But, he was serious. He thought his pujari was lying to him. Then muttered in the Ishtan tongue under his breath, an insult to the Imam.

    "It is a vision of Velius' coming. If you fail to recognize- in time you, too, will fall to the darkness." he said, a sadness in his tone. Before the Sultan had time to retort angrily, the King again Interjected. Though it wasn't with his words. He got caught in a violent coughing fit. His main lawmaker sitting beside him called for help of the servants, who came to his aide. Blood could be seen gathering in King Laewyn's grey beard. The Cardinal himself ran to the King's side.

    Lawmaker Robben of the Royal Court called a brief break in the summit, so the Cardinal and the other servants could see King Laewyn back to his bed...


    ___________________________

    The men from all the noble houses began talking amongst themselves, some getting up and talking in hushed tones.....



    Rocas

    The Midgardians stood in a small huddle.

    "This is complete oxpiss." Rocas hissed in a venomous whisper, arms crossed and fidgeting his posture. He was the middle height one, son to Kjaran Vargen. He was certainly not the spitting image of his father. His father resembled the bear more than he did the wolf- the signet of the Vargen family. Kjaren was often jokingly called the 'were-bear' of the clan. Rocas was of average height of near six feet, but his muscle was natural. He was built for swift movement. He was an expert tracker and hunter, and he just sort of looked that way. He was rough around the edges, like he belonged in the snowy woods of the Misty Mountains. Stubbly beard, shaggy black hair. Jade green eyes hidden behind thick eyelashes. Everything seemed to be foreign when compared to his father.


    "I mean listen to all the redrobes babbling on while our people are actually the ones dying." His voice didn't have a thick norse or celtic accent like most other midgardians had. . . .



    Ehab

    Ehab looked over to the others, and the Sultan Lord, as they stood from their chairs at the table. Looping his left hand in his belt, standing comfortably, he watched as the others began standing as well, talking amongst themselves.

    "Did anyone else see that he bleeds when he coughs?" he said in a hushed, worried tone. "That certainly cannot mean something good..."
    he looked to the ground as he talked. If the King was incapacitated, then the meeting would be put on hold. If the meeting was put on hold, that would delay everything...


    Desmun
    Desmun stood with his uncles, wide eyed. It was obvious that the King was sick, but now- they were all witness to its sincerity. The cardinal, and his templars, as well as the King's advisor exited the room carrying the king to another chamber.

    You could hear his shout-like coughs from down the hallway before the door was closed by one of the servants on her way out. It certainly did not sound good.

    Though Desmun lead his family over, motioning for the emissaries from Nantenland and Galgaroth to gather with him. He then looked to Nemor's own cohort of rangers. Odd, it was. Galgaroth and Nantenland were the two largest and most influential countries of Ajora. They were also seemingly constantly at war. In fact, their people were at odds since the times of Ruvelia 2,000 years ago; even vying for the throne beginning the 100 years war, 180 years ago. Galgaroth and Nantenland were vying for the throne after King Faneth passed, as it seemed the Faneth bloodline was wavering. Nantenland was in support of the young, but frail prince Faneth- as House Nanten was the godfather of the Prince, and Galgaroth was in support of their now widowed Queen- who was part of the Galgaroth family to begin with. It was during that war that Nemor seceded from Nantenland becoming its own sovereign country. Though now, that the Nantenland had changed powers, things may be different.

    They needed to discuss the matters of their countries. If the King would not return, it would be upon them to figure something out. Their lands couldn't take the onslaught much longer. They were all loyal to the King, but one life over the lives of many- the choice was obvious. None of them would let their people continue to die to wait on the health of the King to improve...

    Desmun stood, his uncles behind him talking among themselves for a while. He crossed his arms, awaiting to see if the groups of Nantenland and Galgoroth would approach. He then turned to nod to the rangers behind himself.
     
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  7. Silas watched quietly as the rest of the nobility entered the room. First from Nantenland, then Ishtan, and Kubana last. They were all commanding in their own right, just like the clan head of Midgard and Lord Barast of Nemor. His own Lord Galgaroth was seated at the table, looking quite young and inexperienced compared with the rest of the leaders here, but nonetheless serious or capable. As he was observing all of these people in turn, a cough broke the general calm chatter, and Silas turned, his pulse quickening a little out of both concern for his King and the realization that the summit was finally starting.

    So transfixed by the King’s condition and the many thoughts running through his head, Silas completely ignored the vast feasts laid out before them. Maybe after this was all over—and he still felt like eating—he might avail himself of it. For now though, he simply stood behind his Lord’s side of the table, managing to keep a straight face as he watched Laewyn struggle to stand. It was hard to watch. But showing pity or anything like that might seem offensive to his majesty, and the last thing Silas wanted to do during such an important meeting was offend the King himself.

    Watching him stand there, the enormity of what was happening hit him full force. All these dignitaries, gathered in one place, presided over by King Laewyn. He couldn’t remember the last time something like this had happened. It hadn’t occurred in his lifetime anyway.

    “Ladies and Gentlemen, you all know why it is that you are here.” His voice wavered, yet still projected the commanding tone of a leader. Silas couldn’t help but smile the tiniest bit. Seeing his majesty work so hard despite his condition was inspiring. The young man listened carefully, not wanting to miss anything. He nodded absently in agreement at the mention of something trying to take over Ajora. Visions of grotesque, pot-bellied goblins with clubs and savage orcs made him scowl briefly. When out on a caravan run, he’d begun using a shield or buckler. Why? Because elves in all their stealthy grace loved their bows and arrows. Silas had found that out the hard way.

    Someone else spoke up. This time it was the Cardinal. He began talking about the storm being an omen of some sort, but the blonde brute interrupted him. Rather ill mannered that was. As he told the room about the fate of his lands, however, Silas withheld a portion of his anger. It sounded like Midgard was all but lost to the creatures. Then the man from Kubana blurted out his piece. Port cities wiped out during the first night. I knew it was bad, Silas thought. I didn’t know it was this bad.

    Before anyone else could speak, Vargen turned his attention to Silas’ country’s side of the table, indirectly mentioning the fire that killed his Lord Alaster Galgaroth’s family. Silas’ face twitched in anger and his stomach twisted itself in knots. Everyone suspected it had been a cowardly attempt to end that noble line, but nobody knew who had been behind it, and it was something that still made Silas physically ill with anger after all this time. What he wouldn’t give to find those responsible . . . .

    “I will not have this become a shouting match!” King Laewyn bellowed. Silas’ eyes widened and he let out a breath, steadying himself and returning his attention to the issue at hand. As his majesty began listing everything that had happened to the lands of Astoria, Silas was once again surprised by just how widespread the problems were. The Cardinal had said something about an omen. It certainly seemed like it, didn’t it? None of the countries would be able to stand alone against the masses. Where did that leave them? As Silas considered the options, the room exploded in an uproar, questions and demands being thrown back and forth from all sides of the table. The young man gritted his teeth. Tensions were rising. Nobody wanted to listen or suggest ways of solving the dilemma. They were all looking out for themselves, and Silas was at once sympathetic and disgusted. Wouldn’t the likely solution be to band together instead of alienating themselves? He wanted to say as much, but then the Cardinal’s voice rang out, cool and collected amidst the chaos.

    “The gate of Abbadon will open, and the armies of Gehenna will pour forth, led by Velius himself.”

    Everyone fell into a dead silence. Silas, who had grown up where the Ruvellian religion was dominant and thus had heard the tales and teachings associated with it, felt a chill seize him. Velius. That name was like a taboo, never to be spoken of. It was a name filled with a profound evil that brought only bad tidings. And yet here the Cardinal himself was declaring that the black deity was behind everything that was happening. Silas couldn’t believe it. He had a healthy respect for the religion and those who chose to put their faith in it, but he’d never taken it all as fact. More of a moral teaching than anything. Still, he couldn’t deny that the thought of Velius being real gave him a twinge of fear. How the hell were they supposed to kill a god?

    Silas turned back to the king as the man spoke, watching him carefully. At first, he seemed skeptical, but then his facial expression and body language changed, as if the Cardinal’s words were sinking in and making complete sense. “From the unholy darkness . . .” he murmured before falling silent, the rest of the words lost to everyone but Laewyn himself. Watching the king’s reaction caused Silas’ fear to grow. Was it possible? Could Velius really exist?

    “You mean to tell me that your false gods are the reason for your demise?” the Sultan’s condescending voice cut in. Silas grimaced. False god or no, the land had clearly been touched by evil, and to act like he and his people were above reproach was both rude and ignorant. He could see the Sultan isolating his country to its complete and utter ruin. All because of his stubborn pride. Lord Vargen piped in. Why indeed was Midgard nearly destroyed if they held a different set of beliefs? It was clear all of Ajora was at risk. Not just those that that practiced the Ruvellian faith. The cardinal spoke of falling dreams. Prophecies of what was to come. That was interesting, if not somewhat disturbing.

    “And who is to say they weren’t tainted by your Ruvellian donkeys?”

    Silas’ eyes widened again at that, his body tensing. Any amount of respect he might have had for the Sultan was now gone. It was one thing not to believe in something. It was another thing entirely to belittle, shame, and insult anyone who did, and to have his own people imprisoned for something beyond their control?! He’d just proved what little class he really had, and Silas found he no longer cared what the tactless man thought. Sure, he’d still help the Ishtan people if he could, just like he would anyone else. But when it came down to the Sultan's opinions here in this room, he could go screw himself. As he was reigning in his anger, Silas missed part of the Cardinal’s response, cursing under his breath at how he was handling his emotions. He needed to remain calm. Now was not the time to rise to the Sultan’s poor example.

    Silas’ braced himself for the Ishtan Lord’s inevitable tirade. But it didn’t come. Instead, a raucous cough filled the tense air, and the young man snapped his head around, his rage replaced by concern in an instant. The King had taken a turn for the worse. Silas could see beads of crimson dotting Laewyn’s chin and beard. His majesty was suddenly swarmed by servants, templars, the royal advisor, and the Cardinal, who escorted him from the room as Robben announced an intermission to the talks. Silas wondered if King Laewyn would return, or if that was the last he would see of the brave man. Alive at least.

    His stomach churned. The weight of everything was hitting him again. People killed, cities burning, creatures terrorizing every corner of the land, and King Laewyn likely being carted off to his deathbed for the final time. Silas sighed and shook his head, briefly touching the hilt of his sword. He found himself really itching to sever the limbs of an orc just then. After a beat to collect his thoughts, the young man looked around, noticing someone motioning in his group’s direction. He appeared to be nobility from Nemor, but for the life of him Silas couldn’t remember if he’d heard the man’s name. No matter. He’d find out soon enough.

    He waited patiently for the nobles of Galgaroth to stand and approach first before following suit, nodding politely to the man who had invited them over. Silas set aside his concerns and sympathies for the King with some reluctance. He knew that there were more important matters to discuss now. The fate of all Ajora, it seemed, was at stake. And if the King failed to return, it might be up to the people in this very room to decide that fate.

    A daunting task if ever there was one.
     
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  8. “Don't pout so girl.” Came that smarmy, sickeningly sweet voice of the lord she was sat with, he reeked of flowers and perfume. From here though she could smell the sickness beneath, it burned at her nose and threatened to sting her eyes but she forced her self to not gag, turning her head with glaciers in her eyes. She did her best not flinch as he grabbed her chin and guided her face to look back at him. “Such eyes I've never seen, so exotic, so wild, you are not like the shrews I have dealt with. You are a tiger.” She bit lightly on her tongue to save saying something she'd regret but her eyes fixed on his, the frozen blue gaze fixed on his sweaty face.

    Before they'd taken to the carriage which seemed to find all the potholes on the road and make a point of going through them. She had undergone an awful procedure, scrubbed until her skin was red and powdered back to pale white, her hair had been brushed and brushed and brushed until her scalp was raw and her hair conceded to being tied in some elaborate braid. She'd been plucked, pinched and painted as if she were a doll and stuffed into a corset and dress so she looked more like a low born noble girl than a wild lower district worker.

    It hurt, the powder made her face itch, her scalp felt pinched and pulled as if her hairs were barely holding onto her skull. The corset was so tight it was hard to breath and due to it's placing the tops of her breasts stuck out of her modest dress. Her feet had been stuffed into shoes and her toes ached and she sat there, silent with shoulders squared and hands folded in her lap, remembering why she was there.

    “It's those eyes of yours that will make the King take notice of us today, it's why I chose to let you live rather than have your pretty head cut off.” Her eyes briefly narrowed and she pulled her chin from the man's grip.

    “I thought I was supposed to be a guard for this journey.” She finally broke the silence, her voice dripped with loathing and she insisted on staring out the window to watch the passing landscape, he had ruined so much for her with his pettiness; in her opinion, now he had ruined the castle.

    When she was a child her father had told her stories, where common girls like her could go to the castle and brush shoulders with princes and nobles from all the lands in the Kingdom. She'd longed one day to go with him but not like this, now the magic and beauty had been poisoned, rotten to the core by this man.

    “A guard? I could have taken any of my house guards to keep me safe, no girl you are coming as my concubine.” That caught her attention and he had that smirking sneer, it made her guts twist as her eyes focused on him in shock. “Your what?” She exclaimed, she couldn't believe what she was hearing, she was going to a castle as a whore? She wanted to throw up, she wanted to hit him, “Well, couldn't very well bring the wife, seeing as I don't really know where she is and those rotten shits of children would just embarrass me but you girl. I can make you do and say whatever I want because I control the thing you want most.” He all but hissed at her with a smug look on his face, he knew he had her over a barrel there and she could do nothing more but glare and turn her eyes back to the backdrop, enjoying what little freedom she had left before she was ruined in front of the King.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    She had been barked orders before the carriage door had even opened and she nodded defeated to every word the lord said. She forced a small smile on her lips, took a deep breath and waited for the light of day to wash down on her. The lord was helped out the carriage and she was offered a hand and she forced herself to take the clammy digit and utter a sincere sounding thank you.

    Together they were escorted through the castle and up to the meeting room where they were to be seated, a rather charming looking man pulled a chair out for her and she offered a genuine smile before she heard the Lord's voice behind her, “No, she is not fit to sit at the table with the king, she's my concubine.” Elin's world crashed as the kind smile from the man turned to disgust and Elin felt her face go red under the powder. “Girl.” If the underworld had a king it was this man, however she forced that smile back on her face and turned to face the lord, “Yes m'lord.” She forced herself to say, “make yourself useful and aide the help.” She bristled internally but as the Lord's face began to turn towards a frown she dipped in a small bow and silently excused herself, filling first her Lord's cup then moving quietly around the room to make sure the guests cups stayed full.

    The meeting got started shortly after this and not long into it the arguing began. They were nothing more than bickering children and she only paused when the King raised his voice, she looked at him and for a moment she smiled fleetingly. He was much as she had imagined him, even with his ailing health and it was nice, of course then someone spoke and ruined it all again, under her breath she whispered, “Jeez.” She continued her rounds until beckoned by the lord to return. As she made her way she heard the speak of prophecy and Vilus and glanced at her lord, “He's already here.” She hissed to herself before steeling herself for the pleasantries she'd be forced to endure.

    Back at his side she was pulled towards him, “In my lap girl.”
    “I'd rather die.” She hissed in a whisper.
    “It won't be you who dies.” Was his evil reply and she complied flinching at the intense acrid stench and how gross he felt beneath her.

    The king spoke of things she'd only heard in myths, of gates, gehenna, curses and magic and an evil older and uglier -as hard as that was to fathom- than the thing she was entrapped by. It was not his words that caught her so off guard but his passion behind them and the honesty in his eyes. So deep was the King's belief that he had made himself sick, Elin didn't think but stood, “My King!” She muttered to herself only to be grabbed by the waist and hauled back down.
    “You evil little goblin can't you see he's sick!” She hissed at the man without thought.
    “Shut up, you move when I say you do.” He whispered back as the others stood to begin their talks. The Imp stood up and grabbed her wrist pulling her to where the rest of the lesser Faenthia Lord's were debating what to do.

    He joined them and quickly fell into conversation, releasing her wrist which she took back and rubbed lightly at. The lord's voices were soft whispers, none of it sounded productive, it was more to do with what they'd do when the king died and how the boy prince would manage. They touched on the prophecy but they were reluctant to talk on solutions, only problems and dangers. She stood for as long as she could before she realised she was no longer the focus of the Lord's attention. “Cowards.” She whispered, turning and looking around the room. Everyone looked so tense, so volatile and she sighed gently, making her way back to the table and sitting lightly on it's edge she swung her feet and looked at her hands.

    She could hear them all from where she sat, though the conversations weren't clear the tones were, disgust, hatred, distrust. This was not the meeting she'd dreamed of and now she was prisoner to some dirty little goblin who no doubt would make her his concubine if he had his way. Get your head out of the clouds Elin there aren't any knights in shining armour any more. Even if they were do you think they'd save you? She smiled faintly, Ishatari had been right, who would save a common girl like her, Then I'll save myself and father. She'd been so confident as a child, what had happened.
     
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  9. The northmen rarely left their mountains. They had little need to, really. Why would one need to leave the safety and beauty of the magnificent north lands when all that was ever needed was right there nestled safely in the bosom of a truly massive range of stone and earth? There were forests that held gargantuan trees, centuries old; the ground was, for the most part, fertile and easily farmed, especially in the valleys. Waterfalls and the natural springs that cropped up had always provided the water anyone might wish. The ocean itself was also close, which provided the northmen with an excellent chance to develop their shipwrights to legendary status, always having a steady and reliable source of lumber. The mountains provided the jewels and ore they used for their smiths and trading. And, of course, there were beasts of all sorts; massive black and brown bears roamed the rivers and holed up in caves while deer and caribou migrated all around the mountain. Fishing was also plentiful and was usually how the pups of the northmen often began in their society.

    Once you could walk, you learned to fish and to provide for yourself and your clan. As you grew, you learned what berries and herbs could be used for mending and healing and poisons, too. When you were ten your parents would know where you put your talents, as all clansmen were made useful. Farmers and herbalists, shipwrights and lumberjacks; fishermen, hunters, blacksmiths, scribes and so on. Everyone knew the basics of every aspect of the society but everyone was also given the opportunity to put their best skills to the best use. It was also not uncommon to move from your birth clan to at least one other, either filling an empty role or trying to start a family.

    In all cases there was one thing the northmen were known for: being tougher than iron. It was in their blood, after all. Generations up generations passed on the traits required to survive in the harsh, cold conditions. Everyone, even the women, were thick and tall, heaped with muscle and a natural affinity for fighting and drinking that no one could avoid. When southerners came to visit, they were often off put and very confused when, assuming a barmaid was for touching, they were thrown out by the very maiden herself. Here, you touched no woman or man without their express permission. All people here were equal, save the lords, of course, who proved their right to rule in both combat and leadership. Even an outsider could easily find his place in the clans, and it was encouraged, if he worked hard enough. This allowed the bloodlines to expand and be refreshed with new talents and the like every few years. Not many could stand the test of the harsh winters and mild, cool summers (which, in some parts, it still snowed.)

    It was these things that Smarbjorn considered as their part had sat waiting for the meeting to begin. They arrived a few days earlier so that they might secure the best spot in the inn where they stayed. The night prior had been especially enjoyable. Smarbjorn had personally tabled at least three men in drinking games and two more in the test of arms. It was refreshing, considering the sinking worry and anxiety that followed him and his party for the weeks it took to get here. Their home was ravaged by the monsters and only the Misty Mountain Hold was still safe, but no one knew for how long. He was, however, confident in his people; everyone was a warrior at heart and there would not be a single soul that didn't pick up a weapon for their homeland.

    Smarbjorn was present with Rocas and Kjaran, both of which he might consider friends. They certainly became as such as they traveled along with the rest of their party down the mountain. By the time the summit had been called, most of the clans were within the hold, so it was easy to throw Smarbjorn at their leader, practically literally, when he asked for men they deemed worthy for the meet. Along the way they had all become battle brothers and clasped arms (which was a big deal to Northmen. A handshake was a cautious sort of power game, but grasping the forearm made you equals and showed trust, as it was within reach of a quick knife). While the three were not exactly equals, it was enough they'd be present at the table together.

    He studied the other delegates carefully; while he had studied many of the societies before, he had never seen them in person aside from the merchant caravans that ventured to the mountains. He was truly fascinated by the various textiles and styles of clothing. Being honest with himself, he felt a bit brutish. He wore comparatively simple clothes, cotton and such, and stood out far less in his eyes. However, upon a quick reflection, he felt pride. It represented his people well. Everyone enjoyed wealth and showing off, but not to the point of being impractical. Even the most well-crafted and preserved wolf or bear pelt used for a cloak was as beautiful as it was useful.

    During the speech he listened, but ate slowly and was more concerned with the people in the background. He safely assumed the other two would listen well enough to fill in any gaps (though it was hard to miss the information at such volumes). It was always the people in the background that interested him the most, for it was they that really ran a kingdom. The servants and squires and lay people who were deemed lower in these societies... he found it sad, even, that they had to endure these things.

    While he was observing, he took notice of the faces. That was how you could tell how smart someone really was, he noticed. There were certain shapes and common things, such as if someone breathed more with their mouth open or not, or how big the forehead was and hair parted, or how far apart the eyes were. As he looked, he made more notes in a small, leather-bound journal with a piece of charcoal.

    There was one in particular, a woman who was done up almost like a doll, that caught the attention of just about every man there. While they looked at her exquisite figure, he watched how her eyes burned with the brightest blue fires of defiance that he had ever seen. It was curious and he found that he kept staring throughout the meeting.

    Then the break was called as the King was taken away in fits. Smarbjorn frowned, pitying the old man and his failing health. He had honestly expected more of an imposing figure and it was, perhaps, because there were very little things that could make a Northman sick, so you hardly saw any person besides a child that was unable to perform due to an illness. Smarbjorn looked down at his companions. "You're right. Put any one of them in our boots and see what they'd cry then, eh?" Unlike Rocas, his accent was indeed thick when it came out in the common tongue. The tall man huffed a bit, listening closely as the other groups bickered amongst themselves. It was pathetic how they all spoke selfishly where as he knew there would be no shortage of volunteers from the north tribes if their lands had none of the monsters that they did and another country was as ravaged as they.
     
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  10. Haldan Foloth

    The summit proceeded with more excitement than Haldan had expected. He was so used to the calm and collected demeanor of most lords of Galgaroth that the outbursts took him aback, though he was careful not to show it. It would have been entirely uncouth to show anything like disdain for the ruler of another nation, no matter how repulsive they were. He couldn't help but notice a handful nearby who failed to show this basic level of courtesy, including one of the peasants in the Galgarothi group. Again he felt that anger building up, rage at the fact that he was lumped in with the likes of these fools instead of being back home doing his job as a knight, but he choked that back as well as he could.

    Haldan was helped in his self-appointed task of keeping a straight face by way of being given plenty to think about. News from abroad often took its time getting to Galgaroth, so he was shocked to hear how bad things had gotten, especially in Midgard. They were a people renowned for their strength, so if even they were pushed to the brink of destruction by these hordes of monsters then the future looked bleak indeed. On the other hand, troubled times were the ideal forge for heroes and legends. The Cardinal's pronouncement and the further talk of visions only cemented this in Haldan's mind. It seemed like there was some level of agreement that a great evil had come upon the world, and how better to carve one's name in the stone of history than to vanquish such a menace?

    Once the king was taken away, a sad but entirely foreseeable event, the attendees of the summit split off into their own little groups. Haldan immediately started looking for where the greatest nexus of power was forming, and it didn't take him long to spot it: a noble from Nemor who seemed to want to speak with the representatives of Galgaroth and Nantenland both. That was a volatile mix if ever there was one, but should some politicking happen that caused them all to work together they would represent the greater part of the wealth and military power of the mainland. He was quite pleased to see the nobility of Galgaroth responding to the beckoning from the Nemor party, and he of course moved with them and continued to act as their guard, making sure to post himself close in to where the talking would take place, ostensibly to protect the Galgaroth lords from any depredations of the Nemor or Nanten groups but truly to be close enough to hear and contribute.

    Things were looking up all of the sudden, though given the panic in the room Haldan suspected he might be one of the few to think so. Perilous times bred great men, and it seemed these times were perilous indeed. He intended to be one of those great men, no matter the cost.
     
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  11. Of course as much could be expected bringing so many varying groups so close to each other was bound to cause conflict, everyone had their own aims and rightfully so, as conflicts and battles waged on peoples borders and shores, others whom had avoid conflict thus far stayed behind their walls, hoping they themselves to wait out the coming storm, if that would work couldn't be said for certain its not like Valkirus could tell the future he was just a humble Ranger Apprentice.

    The King was visibly weak during his speech to the lords, though he did well to put a good effort to showing his power and strength it was clearly quite visible in both his body and voice, it was quite clear from how each of the nations representatives reacted that their would be little to no room for agreement, the engaged forces couldn't send any of their forces to assist and those whom had luckily avoided the storm thus far wouldn't be prepared to deploy their forces, risking their mens lives on unknown shores.

    The king became more visibly ill as time moved on, he discussed things that made little sense to the Ranger, religious theory, he did not practice their religion, he found himself spending far much time within the wilds to follow the religion that was followed by the nobility.

    In the end the king would be removed from the room by his Servant's and Men once he began coughing up blood, it seemed like maybe the Old King was suffering from something similar to Tuberculosis, though it was likely his court doctor would know the exact issue and if it had gone on this long it would seem that their was no viable treatment left to try on his majesty.

    It seemed after the King was removed the conference became that of the nations just discussing plots within their own, now their was some favour to other nations but what would be done for now would come down to the decisions of their leaders, the hardest to sway would likely be the Ishtan's however and their reactions so far seemed like it would lead to little useful benefit.
     
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  12. Desmun Barast
    nephew of the Nemor lord

    It was here that Desmun wanted to start.... He awaited those of the Nanten and Galgaroth approached. He had an idea, but only being a young emissary he wouldn't be taken seriously at the table. The other house lords would be gathering, but the politics ran too deep with them all. He would deal with their cadre of emissaries for now.

    Desmun knew about the conflicts between Galgaroth and Nantenland. At this point it was still hard to find people who didn't- but it was 'why' he called them both together with him at the time. Nemor, itself was once part of Nantenland almost 600 years ago. They should be able to come together on level terms. As the others gathered slowly, he saw the tense state that both the Nanten and the Galgaroth were in.

    Taking a broad stance, he spoke clearly, and succinctly.

    "I know you two have had your disagreements in the past- but let us not get caught up in issues that divided our father's fathers. We have all lost too much to let us remain divided. Just hear me out for a moment."

    It was at this meeting that some of the others around began to take notice, raising their eyebrows. Though still talking among themselves, and not giving them any attention.

    Continuing to talk quietly to the dignitaries around him,
    "None of our lords are willing to stand with the other. But what about us? My Lord Uncle will be too stubborn to lend a range group to assist anyone until they know their borders are secure, thinking it too dangerous to divide his defenses. I'm sure you're all the same." Desmon looked directly to the Galgaroth group, "You from the white lion- your country is the closest in need, and is the easiest reach to us here in Faneth Castle. I know your soldiers are some of the best equipped, but they can't hold off forever." he then looked to the Nanten Knights, "Ladies and Gentlemen of the Black Lion , I think you know what I'm asking here..." Giving a brief pause, " I know you fought valiantly against the previous Lord Galgaroth's men." He didn't wait for any sort of action to let the Nanten Knights retort, "But we can't help the Nanten borders until we secure Galgaroth.... Galgaroth has an elite guard unit." Desmun then looked to the Galgaroth group again. "Lord Galgaroth may be able to send them to Nantenland's borders once his own are secure." He knew he was asking a lot from the Nantenland natives. Some may see it as a slight against his country to fight for their rival.

    A lot was at stake for the countries' prides. Even Ishtan and Nanten were brought in the middle a few times during their feuds... The Galgaroth forces received aide from Ishtan sellswords, and Nantenland was in need of assistance. Nemor had hidden routes into Galgaroth, and Nanten and Nemor were finally beginning to ease tensions that began several hundred years ago when Nemor split from Nanten. But these weren't full blown wars, not since the 100 years war ended eighty years ago. At this point, the Galgaroth country couldn't refuse help- even from previous enemies, despite his possible feelings against the Nanten.

    It was clear what the younger Barast was asking here. None of the countries were willing to work together at this point, too afraid to leave their own borders for fear of their own walls collapsing. Especially since the countries had just been at full peace for a meager handful of years. The bickering was maddening. Desmun wouldn't stand for it. Something had to be done, and it had to be soon. He was going to convince them to stand alone against the hordes. Getting the 'two lions' to come together would be the hard part.

    He would hear what the White and Black lions had to say before bleeding over to Ishtan and the Midgardians; seeing what they had to say...
    -----
    Ser Quinten Hardron of the Nantenland Knights stood before a group of others wearing crimson and white.

    A man in his early forties, short and neatly parted hair, and wearing fine leather and clothes of a noble knight. He stood to Desmun's Right, and crossed his arms, being defensive. Ser Quinten was known for his temper, but also for his pride. He himself was famed at the tourneys as a favorite.


    Despite his grumblings, he turned and spoke with a few at his side. They were all trusted knights and other individuals from Nantenland. They were being asked to leave their homelands to defend their bitter enemies. It seemed both stupid to help, but it would be even worse if they didn't. They all knew it, but their prides often got in the way.

    After some heated internal discussions. Ser Quinten turned to face not Desmun, but the knights of Galgaroth as he spoke.

    sighed, nodding his head at last. “I understand, Lord Desmun. I will do what I can to mobilize some troops to head for Galgaroth......” To aid them rather than attack them for once, he thought dryly.

    “However, there are some among my nation’s nobility that will object to this course of action. If nothing else, I can guarantee you the assistance of My Lord’s Vanguard.”

    Ser Quinten turned to the head of the Galgaroth group, fixing his steely gray eyes on the other knight he knew from the lists- Ser Haldan Foloth. “Assuming, of course, that Galgaroth will have us.” His intention was to ask if the Knights and Soldiers of Galgaroth would spread the word to let them know that assistance may be coming- and from a least likely of sources.

    Desmun motioned to the first Ranger he saw in the corner- a young apprentice- to come to them. He was excited, and wanted his assistance after hearing what any or everyone from the White Lion group had to say.

    Rocas Vargen
    Son of the Midgardian Lord
    Rocas, and the other Midgardians stood from the table.


    "You're right." He nodded to Smarbjorn. "This is complete oxpiss," Rocas hissed with a venomous whisper, arms crossed and fidgeting his posture.

    Kjaren looked to both his son, and their companion. He didn't say anything yet, but he placed his hand to his chin, and appeared to be deep in thought.

    "Allright..." Kjaren chided his son with a long tone, and looked to Smarbjorn. He about said something before looking to the slight disturbance when a handful of Nanten and Galgaroth folk gathered together next to the young lord from Nemor.

    "Maybe they've got the right idea." He rolled his eyes a bit- fully expecting the two groups to come to blows.
     
    #12 Spectre, Dec 28, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2015
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  13. Elin watched the dignitaries of each country acting, well, very undignified. Shouting and cursing and throwing their weight around now the King's back was turned. It would have been an amusing story to tell her father if he wasn't rotting in a jail cell in, what she considered, unfair treatment. She was going to pay for the sodding bread, it was only one loaf, it hadn't even looked that good if she was honest. He was just desperate and hungry and worried about his daughter, what father wouldn't do something silly and rash in those circumstances? Its not like the lord had made anything easy for them, firing her dad, shutting the factory down. With just the two of them he hadn't had much choice and he was always struggling with his grief over the loss of her mother.

    She had refused the 'hospitality' of her Lord the night prior and the following morning, he didn't need to have anything else to hold over her family. Even now her stomach growled in anger but she ignored the flashy spread; when all you've had is potatoes, cabbage and the odd end of bread this was a feast, she wanted to owe nothing to anyone here. The food was wonderful but she wouldn't risk being thrown into jail over an apple. It hurt sometimes but hunger pains had been part of her life for several years now, it hardly bothered her these days.

    Looking at all this noble blood didn't lend her much belief in them any more than she'd had when all this had happened. The only one who had impressed her was the King but who wouldn't be impressed? It was no small mutter in the common quarter that he was dying but he had pulled himself from his bed and he'd got himself here to deliver his message in person. That was a noble she could put her faith in, he might have been seen as soft but kindness wasn't always weakness.

    There was a commotion behind her and she turned her head, watching the nobles of three houses and their entourage discussing in quiet but not private voices. She was almost surprised they hadn't already devolved into violence or another shouting match. The tension in one man's eyebrow was almost hilarious, the thing looked ready to take off on it's own. She had to hide her mirth and stiffen her lips to hide the smile.

    She couldn't quite make out the words that were said but the tension was palatable, it seemed that any moment someone would kick off and yet, they didn't. With a small sigh of relief she was intent to continue watching but it seemed her 'noble' Lord had other ideas. He must have broken from the other Lord's of Fanethia and seen her relaxing at the table because the next she knew a bony strong arm was latched around her upper arm and had yanked her from her little show and off the table. There was a clatter as her hand caught one of the unused metal plates and it hit the floor and she was eye to eye with an angered lord. “Did anyone say you would dirty this place by sitting on the furniture?” The shock of the situation and the venom in his voice left her momentarily speechless and so he shook her. “Well girl are you deaf as well as stupid.” That snapped her out of it and her eyes narrowed. “Neither I was just surprised that the hindquarters of an ass could speak.” That was it, the Lord had seen red and he rose a hand and slapped her hard across the face. Her head whipped to the side with the motion and her cheek stung where the handprint was forming. “You disgusting little street rat, how dare you speak to me in such a way!” He yelled, screeching like a monkey as Elin rubbed at her cheek and tested the inside of her jaw for any bleeding. “If your worthless father had just...” That was all he managed to get out before a fist solidly planted square on his nose, a sick crunching sound following not long behind and a trail of blood as the Lord staggered backwards his hands cupping his nose.

    Elin was hard to anger, it was just one of those things, life was too short to be angry and before this pig had taken away her father over a sodding loaf of bread she'd not had a reason to be angry. Bringing her father into an argument? No, that wasn't wise, for the frozen tundras held nothing on the ice in her gaze right then, it made him flinch, as well it should have. “Don't you ever lay your hands on me and don't you ever speak about my father.” The man whimpered, blood appearing between his fingers but Elin didn't stop as he mumbled to himself. “If you had an iota of his honour, his compassion and his decency then maybe, just maybe, you wouldn't be this pathetic excuse for a human being. I don't know what made your life so miserable and so unbearable that you actively had to seek to destroy other people's, my father- because he is a good man- would say I ought to pity you because of it. I don't, you reap what you sow and your land, my lord will always be barren.” She hissed at the guy, wild cats would have bowed to her anger then and the lord was attended by another, a handkerchief clapped to his nose and his head held forward as he was lead off for somewhere to sit down.

    For a moment Elin felt immense regret for her actions, punching a lord in a room full of nobles was perhaps her most foolish action yet. Though glancing around the room the royal guards at least seemed to be trying to hide titters and mirth of their own and she felt heat rising to her cheeks. None, as of yet, made a move towards her and she momentarily allowed herself to relax, loosing her hair from the preposterous do it had been forced into and slipping off the uncomfortable shoes, kicking them under a table. If by now it wasn't clear that she was in fact, not a concubine, then the people around these table needed serious mental assistance.
     
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  14. Smarbjorn chuckled a bit at his feisty cousin. Out of the three of them, Rocas had always been the most emotional. It seemed his cousin not only missed their looks but also the typical northmen demeanor. Not that it was a bad thing, of course; indeed it often made things quite interesting. Above that, though, was the sort of satisfaction a sibling might have when parents chastise one and not the other.

    He followed the gaze of his lord to the group of men who did indeed seemed ready to turn on one another. However he was distracted by another tussle. "Ah look at that. The she-wolf bares her fangs." The arrogant lord and the girl with the brilliant eyes had kept their words to harsh whispers not for long. Fortunately, most were distracted by the young lords and the guards thought it best for the lord to deal with his own charge.

    Those who observed, Bjorn the foremost among them, shared grins and winced when she flattened the fat man's nose. She stood alone, then, a paragon of rebellion and seething emotion. The big northman exchanged a few glances around the room. This could spell trouble for her soon. "I'll be back. I dont want the sharks swimming for the blood on those claws."

    He detached himself from the other two and approached the woman carefully. At least one other was also headed her way and was visibly disappointed to find the expert hunter had reached her vicinity first. The others, all men knew this game, shared knowing looks and chuckles.

    The northman kept her out of arm's reach. He was big and tough, but knew anything with claws and teeth hurt just the same and angry women were far for fearsome than any beast. "Miss. That was unwise. But impressive." He eyed her cautiously, but with a grin. "In the mountains, you might find suitors lining up to fight you for the right to you hand." After a moment, he added,"Men and women both." He wondered, as he had many times before, how strange their customs must be to the others of this land.
     
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  15. Silas stood with one hand resting on the hilt of his sword. Not because he expected to have to use it, but it was better to be safe than sorry. The people of Nantenland and Galgaroth together were a potential recipe for disaster. He need only reflect on the actions and beliefs of his father and grandfather to know that. The young caravan guard watched Desmun for a moment, listening carefully as his eyes lingered over the faces in the crowd, judging the tension in the room. If anyone were prepared to strike, he’d need to be ready for it.

    Silas himself had no qualms with working together. Every once in a while there was a slight fear that he’d slip or pick up bad habits instilled by Joseph and Mikael. He actively worked so that something like that would never happen, but bad habits were like dragons—they didn’t die easily. Shifting his gaze back to the one speaking, Silas considered his proposal. He was right. Silas couldn’t shake the unease that surrounded his heart when thinking about leaving his country though. But how could they stand alone against such a growing tide of evil? The answer was simple: they couldn’t. None of them could. The only solution was to come together and fight alongside one another instead of against each other for once. He wasn’t stupid though. Convincing the others wouldn’t be so easy. Sometimes emotions ruled over the house of logic, especially in such dire times.

    One of the men from Nantenland suddenly turned and starting speaking to his compatriots. He was older and dressed in a manner that suggested noble stock. He was also a knight. Silas observed them, curious as to what the man was going to say, and whether it was in favor of fellowship . . . or simply to make the wall dividing their countries even higher.

    To his great surprise, the Nantenland knight actually offered his lord’s men to aid Galgaroth. It didn’t seem to come easily, but Silas was heartened by the fact it had been said at all. Something good might come out of this meeting after all. As the noble knight turned to address Ser Haldan, Silas caught a scuffle out of the corner of his eye, looking just in time to see a woman in a tightly fitted dress and heavy make-up punch a nobleman in the face. He’d been so preoccupied with his current meeting that he’d missed everything that came before it. What in the world was that all about? She risks confinement for such an act. Silas wondered if he should go over and speak to the woman. Then a large, blonde-haired man—a Midgardian and make no mistake—stood and approached her. She looked to be in good hands, so Silas focused his attention back on his small group, waiting patiently for Ser Haldan to reply before saying his piece.
     
  16. Ser Renford Godwyn
    -Captain of the Crown Guards-
    Ser Renford was one of the nobles sitting at the table near the King, opposite the Clergyman. This meant- and confirmed that he was a trusted member of the King's court. The King's Crown Guard were some of the best trained- and proven best swordsmen and women of the entire continent- and Ser Renford was indeed still fit to hold the title of the Commander of the Crown Guard.He was a taller man, and still fit for his advanced age. He was stark white of hair, and goatee. Though his skin was still fairly tight and his muscles were strong. His gray eyes still held passion and a certain fierceness to them as they held in his youth. He was clad in his Crown Guard attire- Silvery, ornate, piecemeal plate armor and scale mail with an off-white cape that draped to his calves. Things had not gone smoothly, and as the King was taken away, Ser Renford stood at the door that the King passed through. Accompanied silently by two of the other Crown Guards to each side.

    As the groups started to converge with one another, Renford watched on, hoping to hear one of the other Court members to peer through the door behind him soon. Though- some more odd behavior from one of the Fanethian lords came up. The only concubine in the room began mouthing off- barking over the rest of the noise from within the room. She then struck the man she arrived with.

    Closing his eyes, and sighing, Renford stated swiftly and quietly to his guards- "Seize her, and bring her to me. I'll be outside the doors here." He saw the large Midgardian make his way to her as well. He would hope this would be a quick and easy apprehension that way the drama that was escalating in the room could be de-escalated. Renford retreated behind the door he stood before, and his two guards approached the girl. Their left hands gripped their sword scabbards, hopefully not having to draw- but their job as peacekeepers often required the use of force.

    "Calm down- and come with us. Now." One of the guards stated clearly in a calm, but stern voice- looking directly into the girl's eyes. He was a bit older, and was built like a bull. The other guard stated in the same stern tone- "We don't want to have to ask twice." He was younger, but had a scar than ran along his jawline speaking of some experience in his position. The younger one reached out his hand as a gesture for her to exit the room with them. Depending on how she reacted, they would calmly walk out the door to speak with Ser Renford.

    Ser Renford awaited outside the large wooden door in the enormous hallway impatiently. He stared out the tall rectangular windows that lined the arched hallway. His arms were crossed, and he imagined the things he'd say. Though what needed to be said? She was in the company of a lesser lord that had less to provide the table than the poorest of the nobility from Nemor. He didn't actually care about the transgression, or about her or her lord. What he cared about was keeping order as far as the law went. Though he wasn't without heart.... Servants are normally left to the care of their own lords, but when they are in Castle Faneth- under the direct supervision of the King's personal guard- they had to deal with these problems. Normally something like this would throw the accused in jail for an evening, then they would be flogged publicly in the morning, or mutilated somehow- depending on the justice overseeing the case. Then the real punishment would likely come as she returned to servitude to her lord. They could basically do as they wished. Murder was punishable by death- but often times Lords would have their servants killed by 'accidents'.

    Luckily for her, Renford disliked this particular lord, and may be sympathetic...

    Desmun Barast
    nephew of the Nemor lord
    He gave a half smile, as the Nanten side began to see reason. He then looked to the group from Galgaroth, as everyone seemed to remain silent. One of their forefront Knights- Ser Haldan had yet to say anything, likely hoping another would answer first.

    "I understand this means a lot. Galgaroth is receiving a lot of violence from both the people- and the gross hordes. But if someone doesn't come to your aide soon..." He gave a grave look to the ground...

    He then had another idea...

    "What about this: if Nantenland can send even half of what they promise- that should provide some relief to your capitol so you can meet the hordes head on. I can also guarantee my personal unit of Rangers' assistance. It won't be much, but they are good at what they do." Desmun stated with optimism. He nodded to the Knights of Nantenland- "They can go on their way to litigate with their lords about the support." He looked around the room. "Once Galgaroth receives aide- they may be able to send support to the next group who requires it... " He looked to the Galgaroth Knights- hoping they would agree to some of what he said at least. The Knights of Nantenland were known for being well trained, and the Knights of Galgaroth were known for being the best equipped. Once these countries freed up- then they could aide the other countries who were needing help. It would hopefully be a sort of domino or snowball effect.

    He placed a hand to his chin... and pleaded with the Galgaroth Knights- "I will personally ride to Galgaroth Castle with you to deliver the message, and provide any aide I can. I can guarantee at least one battallion of rangers to assist from Nemor- but likely no more. Nemor has it's issues of course, but we all will need to work together to stabilize the kingdoms..."

    He then looked to see if the young ranger apprentice was coming his way. If he was not, he would motion again for another of his rangers to come to them.

    Then the commotion broke out as one of the lesser Fanethian lords- who arrived with a concubine- was struck. It seems like the entire room stopped to watch-

     
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  17. Elin puffed a lock of hair from her face and glanced up to see two large figures making their way to her. Inwardly she winced, she was in so much trouble, she'd be lucky if she wasn't clapped in irons and only thrown from the meeting hall. Not that she regretted what she'd done, even though her hand throbbed and her knuckles bruising from the impact with the soft squishy nose she took solace in the fact she'd finalyl done something she wanted to rather than had to do. Of course it probably boded badly for her father who was still sitting in jail but she'd find another way, a way that didn't involve selling her body to the very scum who'd put him behind bars and refused to see compassion.

    It seemed as one of hte larger men approached the other split off, fell back like a cowed pup, by their dress and their behaviour these were northmen. Their customs were strange but in some ways she idealised the way they treated their women. Complete and utter respect. As he spoke she tilted her head, he started off chiding her and that nearly earned a frown and a mutter of false regret but when he complimented her actions she allowed herself a small smile. "Thank you." She uttered quietly, glancing at the room which seemed quieter again, no one was comign to send her to prison it seemed, so she let herself focus on her company. He further complimented her - or at least she assumedi t was a compliment for a northmen - and she found her cheeks reddening under all the powder and paint. For a moment she was speechless and uncomfortable but it was nice to have someone talk to here. Not jsut the pig ignorant Lord but someone who seemed more human somehow.

    Gatehring her courage she shrugged lightly with a smile, "I agree, it was foolish but gods did it feel right. Dressing me up, painting me and dragging me around like I was a doll he could own. He had it coming." She laughed lightly and looked up to the larger man. "I don't know if people would be lining up when they realise I'm dirt poor, probably homeless and..." Glancing over to the Lord whose nose she bloodied, "Probabyl headed for jail when he regains his ability to speak." She laughed lightly though and glanced back up to her company, "Fighting over me is all well and good but they'd have to beat me in a fight to win me." She winked lightly and offered out her swelling hand, changing her mind and offering the other instead, "By the way I'm Elin, my father calls me 'star' though. Nice to meet you."


    Smarbjorn grinned down at the fierce girl. "Ha.Men have pride, but any northman is as happy to be bested by his lover as he his besting her." She was no less fierce now that she accepted his company. He like the sound of her voice as she spoke. "A pleasure, miss Elin." Bjorn was often proud of his ability to speak the common tongue without much trouble and only a mild accent, where as his brothers might have said something akin to "Ellane" instead. "I am called Smarbjorn, or 'Little Bear' in my tongue." His eyebrows lifted a bit, hoping she might get the joke.

    Elin smiled faintly, honestly, his country sounded pretty wonderful on the front of things. Of course everything seemed so much nicer from a distance and she did hate to be cold. "Well that's the kind of man I wouldn't mind meeting." She teased. As he caleld her miss she seemed rather caught off guard, never in her days had someone called her miss and it made her feel uncomfortable but in a way she liked. When he spoke his name she tried sounding it out in her head, not wanting to pronounce it wrong since he had made sure to pronounce hers correctly. When he spoke the meaning of the name she blinked, leaned back slightly to make an obvious show of looking over him. He was far from little, he towered above her, then again most people did but more so than a normal person and he looked as little like a bear as she could imagine, well, compared to his kin anyway. She giggled quietly behind a hand and smiled up at him, "Someone had a sense of humour huh? I don't think it quite suits you, but I like it. So, what do you think of the meeting so far?"

    He laughed, quietly, at the way she struggled to say her name and offered some assistance, though the language forms habits in the tongue makes pronunciation difficult when crossing certain language barries. He was satisfied she had gotten the joke that trailed him whereever he went... up north, anyways. Such play on words were common throughout Midgard. Bjorn looked over his shoulder at the groups forming around the young noble, his own entourage, and others about the room. He gave her an honest sort of shrug of indifference. "I think its oxpiss," he said, though without the harshness of tongue his cousin had used. "All these petty squabbles. The lords sit comfortable on their chairs while my kin are holed up like wolves in the den." Bjorn gave a frustrated sigh and crossed his arms. "I fear if we do not act quickly, there will be no den to return to. And yet they'd rather slit each other's throats instead of this... this... this darkness." Bjorn seemed to struggled with finding a common word. "In my lands, they whisper it is Fenrir that rides the storm. But we have many tales of the doom of the world." The man looked around once more. "I only hope we are able to put to rest whatever it is that haunts us before these... soft men know what we northmen already know too well."

    Elin tried hard to get his name right, it took several attempts but she got there, though she wouldn't be confident enough to speak it in front of his kin. He was probably being kind when he said she'd got it. She had a nickname for him for if she got too paranoid about it in future. As he turned to the subject at hand she smiled slightly, he certainly didn't mince his words but he was right. She remembered what everyone had said at the table, how those from his land were fighting and dying daily, it wasn't right. "Fenrir?" She asked but followed his eyes about the room, "I'm not sure anything less than them knocking down the front gate will bring home the reality of what is happening. They're too busy arguing about what will happen when the King dies to think of the evil happening to our neighbours." She sighed lightly, sometimes it was a tad embarassing how narrow minded her kin were. "I can only see two ways this meeting ends, with a fight. Or with people agreeing to ride out and meet this darkness at the source. Though I doubt you'll find many of my city volunteering to go."

    Smarbjorn gave a grunt of agreement. "You're right. But, I am hopeful. I have a good feeling that they will come together." He patted his heart gently and smiled down at her. Indeed, he had always been an optimistic one. There was far too much negativity in the world already, literally now, and he found it a burden to focus on it. This may have been a reason he was somewhat popular with his peers. He realized he never answered her curiosity about his people's myth, though. "Yes, Fenrisúlfr. The great wolf, child of Loki and the giantess, that will father the wolves to eat the sun and the moon while he himself will consume the earth. He comes now, jaws wide, a summons his ilk." There was no pretense in any thing he said, for he believed it. "In the mountains we had wolves, but now the beasts are the size of horses, or worse. We killed one on the way down." At that, he smiled a bit. "It is a true blessing they do not hunt in packs. Not yet, at least."

    Elin couldn't help but feel his optimism rub off on her a little, perhaps it would all work out? So far the only one to spill blood here was her and, quite frankly, that was something, with all the lands in the continent here in the same room, sharing the same air for the first time in, well she wasn't even sure how long. "I hope so too." She uttered lightly, whether it was imagined darkness or a real curse something had to be done to stop the monsters and the death. She listened intently as he spoke of Fenris and of his gods and the stories surrounding them, it sounded wonderful to her so...adventurous so....alive and colourful. Of course dark and morbid and a bit scary but honestly it was those kinds of things she'd always wanted to learn about other cultures. So not once did she look patronising or like she didn't believe him. As he moved onto the wolves she pouted briefly, she'd never seen a wolf, not a real one, stuffed or dead for sure, but not alive, not roaming. Though it sounded vicious all the same, "That is.., just wow. I've never even seen a wolf, much less thought about how I'd fight one, as big as horses? That's truly terrifying...though is it bad I think it's a little exciting as well?".

    The big man laughed. "No, of course not." His eyes shined a bit as he remembered how exciting his hunts had been. "Every pup up north must prove themself by slaying a beast near their homestead. It is our right of passage. When the giant wolves came, it was like the first hunt all over again."

    Elin smiled at his words, it sounded so adventurous, she was about to reply when ah and lay on her shoulder and she naturally flinched. Looking right into the eyes of the royal guard. Their words sent a shiver down her spine and there was no hiding that she was petrified, a fine tremble ran through her body at the idea of where this was going and the way they clutched at the handle of their weapons, as if she was a threat, it made her want to weep. She shouldn't have hit him, she really shouldn't have but she wasn't going to say sorry because she wasn't. Glancing to the bear she tried to fake a brave smile but even her voice trembled, "I guess it was too good to be true huh." She gave a shrug and a small wave before following the pushy guards out of the room. She was in serious trouble now, why the hell they couldn't just leave her alone she didn't know, as soon as her back was to Smarbjorn she let her brave act fall and hid as the tears stung her cheeks, they'd jail and flog her for sure, before that prick she'd never so much as been struck and now she'd have scars all her life and she was still no closer to getting her dad back.

    Once in the hallway she flinched to the sound of the heavy doors banging shut behind her and waited, hands folded in front of her, a mix of pride and will holding the flood of tears back but only barely. The gods had truly forsaken her.
     
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  18. Silas began to grow uncomfortable at the lack of hospitality from his countrymen. None one was talking—except amongst themselves—or even so much as showing that they heard the man and were considering his offer. He was suddenly disappointed, not just in the actions of the Galgaroth host, but at his own lack of action, which he’d believed was the right thing at the time due to his societal status. Now, it just made him appear as aloof as the rest, and that was the last thing he wanted. Knots formed in the pit of his stomach as he listened to the man from Nemor speak. He was almost pleading at this point because he’d yet to receive even a sneeze in his general direction. Silas would have winced, but he restrained himself. No matter what his upbringing, you simply didn’t treat people like this. Especially not those who were offering a helping hand.

    With some trepidation, Silas let out a breath and took a half step forward. The caravan guard was still somewhat behind and on his Lord’s left-hand side, but more visible now and (hopefully) easier to hear. His heart pounded a little harder, and when he spoke, it sounded like every other noise in the room suddenly vanished, and his voice was projecting off the stone walls. But that was simply the nerves messing with him.

    “I don’t presume to speak for the rest of my group,” he started, his voice surprisingly steady despite how he felt. He heard what sounded like the far doors banging shut. Silas kept his focus though. “But I would like to thank you, Lord Desmun, for bringing our countries together like this, and the noble knight from Nantenland for his generous offer. I realize our people have had a difficult and antagonistic past. Though I did not fight in it personally, I was made keenly aware of its horrors every day by my father and grandfather, who rarely had a kind word to say about your fair countries and citizens.” At this point, Silas heartbeat began to slow, and his worry was replaced by a strong feeling of sincerity.

    “I am not my father. And I do not share his sentiments, or those of my grandfather, and I refuse to live in the past. On that, I agree with Lord Desmun. I’m tired of fighting a war that ended years ago. Ajora is being swallowed by evil. No matter where that evil comes from, or what we choose to believe about it, one thing is clear: this darkness doesn’t discriminate. It is intent on putting all of our people in the ground. Every single one. We have common enemies here, and if they’re willing to band together to wipe us out, why would we not do the same in defense of this great and diverse land? I understand the hesitation. No one wants to risk aiding another country for fear of losing his or her own.

    "But it seems clear to me by what I heard earlier in the summit that no single country could hope to stem the tide alone. If we cannot come to terms and fight alongside one another instead of against each other . . . ” Silas took a deep breath again to steady his voice, which had started wavering with emotion. “Then I fear it is only a brief matter of time before the countries we hold so dear are brought to ruin. I do not wish to spend my last days on this earth watching it burn and looking back on this summit filled with regret because we could have prevented it from happening, but instead chose to let our differences keep us divided. We can defeat this evil together.”

    The caravan guard swallowed once and looked at his own contingent, then to Ser Quinten and his knights, and finally to Lord Desmun and the rangers, his eyes narrowing with determination.

    “So let’s not give those bastards the satisfaction of seeing us falter.”
     
  19. Elin & Renford

    Ser Renford's eyes flashed to the door, and he turend his head- but not his body to look at who was passing through. His posture was still one in agitation. His arms were crossed, and his head was slightly low. His two guardsmen, and the female who caused the ruckus inside. His teeth clenched, and his nostrils flared as he inhaled deeply.

    "Your name?" he asked. His tone did not ascend at the end- indicating that this was less a question, and more of a demand.


    Elin fidgetted, this was perhaps the worst thign she could have imagined, "Elin." She replied quietly, wiping off make up as wel las tears on the sleeve of the dress she'd been stuffed into. She chanced a glance up from the floor but what she saw only made htigns worse and she looked back to her hands and the now stained dress.

    "Elin..." He began, shifting his body to actually face her now. "Do you have any idea the consequences of your actions-..?" He asked- though not intending to insult her knowledge. He then shook his head, and raised his eyebrows. "And I don't mean consequences of what the justices here may dole out.... That man- " He pointed his finger toward the door- indicating of course the slime she had given a nice thrashing "may not be either respected- or respectable.." he then returned his hand-crossed over his breast, "but he doesn't seem to really enjoy what you've just done."

    His tone sort of shifted unexpectedly. The sound of his voice was more over concern to her own well being than it was over anything else. This was tantamount to Ser Renford's actually knowing who that man was, and partially capable of. Hardened and stern were two things that most people knew Ser Renford by- though he was also understanding and compassionate. It was his age that brought these two things further into the limelight.

    Elin shifted uncomfortable, "Yes sir, public flogging in the square." She uttered with a whimper, he continued though and she glanced up, "He's capable of? I know what he's capable of. He locked my dad up over a laof of bread, he was starving, I wa....he was jsut trying to be a good dad and he wouldnt' even let me pay for the bread! He just took him away! He said he'd think about letting him go if I let him dress me up and bring me here to show me off in front of all the nobles. I know that if I'd behaved I'd be dead by morning because I would never live with myself with what he wanted to do to me when he was done here." She almost broke into tears all over again, "He's not supposed to enjoy what I did, he's supposed to be hurt and sad and mad and have nothing he can do about it. He's supposed to never be the same again so he knows an inkling of what it was like for me." She looked down, realising she was getting angry. "I-I'm sorry. I didn't mean....to take it out on you...I won't apologise for what I've done to him...but I am sorry I did it here, in the King's halls."

    He listened, oddly enough. Despite hearing pleas like this on a weekly basis- though this was who he was now. No longer a war hero- everyone had to get old, and his duty was now to the city's people.

    He shook his head and gestured out with his hand- "He's extorting you. You hit him in public, and humiliated him. What do you expect him to do to your father now?" He asked, his eyes narrowing a bit. Shaking his head- "I can't stay his hand. From where I stand, and anyone else stands, he can still do as he wishes."

    Pondering for a brief moment, he sighed, "Self defense is something I can put the word in for. This helps you, but certainly not your father. It seems like your wish is to see him set free for the..." He paused, trying to think of another word- "Crime...he comitted. Though what this also does, is puts him under the thumb of the justices." Letting that statement sink in, he continued. "This means if your father happens to end up dead- he will be highly implicated due to this instance." The situation for Elin's father was not good no matter what light you shed on it. Being imprisoned, and under the 'care' of what most would call a criminal, was not favorable.

    "Thankfully-" He added, "The justices already have plenty of reasons to keep an eye on him." Though he wouldn't say why, though she could probably imagine, depending on how close she was to the particular man.

    At the implications for her father she nodded faintly, as soon as she'd hit him she knew what she'd done. She'd practically signed her fathers continued imprisonment if not worse. She just couldn't deal with it, with his grip and his degrading words and his slimey smile and...she shivered again. Glancing up she nodded faintly, "I-I know, it was stupid." When he spoke of staying his hand she felt a knot in her stomach, she couldnt' say she wasn't scared. The physical beating would be bad enough but if he decided to take it further...if he...she couldn't think like that, she had to free her dad and if it meant dealing with Lord Hogwood another night she'd try.

    As he spoke further that while her actions would probably mean certain punishment for her and possibly some for her dad, in some ways he was also...safer. It would be suspicious if something happened now, her dad was in a cell and surrounded by guards too. Sure they might paid for by Hogwood but osme of them might not be corrupt. While the jail was still a cage for the time being it would keep her father safer than if he was out in the streets. It was cold comfort but it was comforting.

    When he spoke further on possible crimes that the lord douchebag himself had commited she was fortunate to only be able to guess what they might be. Though having spent nearly a full day with him she had a pretty good idea what he was like. "I'm not surprised, he is a greater evil than..." She paused, it wasn't right to say it, "Sorry, poor timing." She admitted, running a hand through his hair and trying to stop the shaking in her fingers.

    "For now- We can't imprison you." He looked to the two guards who brought her out- as they were now standing on each side of the closed door behind them. Both of them gave a bit of a smirk and srugged their shoulders- as if they didn't see anything, or care.

    "I suggest that you stay away from that room. Are you in servitude, or are you a legal citizen of Fanethia?"

    Her heart sank at the idea of not going back in the room, she'd heard things she couldn't unhear, she wanted to help but she had to resign herself, she was just a stewards daughter, what could she do aside from jump about a bit? she wouldnt' even get to say goodby to little bear and he'd been really interesting. "I...I'm a legal citizen sir. My father is freeborn too., he was a steward to that man, employed not endentured."

    Nodding in acknowledgment, "Then you are free to go for now- on account that he struck first- and you- as a freeborn citizen- struck back."

    With that, he wrapped up. "If you need anything from me, or have any issues, I am Commander Renford Godwyn. I'll be able to dispute any charges in the future if anyone comes to you about what happened inside."
    "I...I know who you are...my dad used to tell me bed time stories about you. He says you're the best..." She poked the ground with her toe, slightly embarassed to admit such a thing but such tales of men were all they could afford and were foten better than books.
    Giving a slight exhale of a single syllable laugh, he shook his head and looked to the ground. Having been known for such things in the past, Ser Renford still didn't know how to deal with the tales and myths told about him.

    "Don't believe everything you hear." He stated positively, however plainly. It appeared he wasn't keen on sharing much about his past.

    He waved his hand in a dismissal, and the guards at the door relaxed a bit, turned, and opened the door. Ser Renford strode toward the door, and before taking the handle in one hand, turned and looked to Elin, "Good luck to you, and stay out of trouble."
    "I'll try." She uttered lightly, not quite sure how one would manage to 'stay out of trouble' when it kept finding them.
    With a gentle smoothness, he pulled the door further open than the crack- and disappeared inside, and his two guardsmen filed in behind him.
    As the doors shut behind the guards and she was left in the hallway alone she paused, what she hadn't said was how Sir Godwyn , as he was in all the stories, was sort of her hero. She used to draw him when they had paper and so she was mentally debating disobeying her hero or jsut cutting her losses and...and doing what? Lord Hogwood would find her later, after the meeting but before then what was there for a poor person to do? Being unemployed wasn't good for entertainment value.

    Sighing she removed the dress, unbuttoning it and folding it neatly on one fo the side tables. While she'd been told to get changed she'd not removed her clothes of course. No boots, which would suck but barefeet wasn't so bad. Giving her face one last wipe in the hope of removing most of the poweder she fished into ehr corset for her money pouch. It was quite light but then she wouldn't know what a heavy one felt like, enough though to get her some food and maybe a drink at the tavern, she needed one and the logner she spent away from that empty shack the better. Home wasn't home without her father and she didn't want to be reminded she was alone.

    With one last glance at the door she sighed, it was a real shame, things were about to get interesting, she could feel it at the back of her neck and in her fingertips. Still she shook it off and began down the hall, following the way they had come in. She was going to bei n so much pain later, might as well get loaded so she couldnt' feel it? Stuffing the money back into her corset she wondered quite how she'd get that drunk on that little coin but she was sure she'd find a way. Or maybe she'd just spend the evening on the roof tops and go to the stables if she got cold? Regardless, she'd avoided a public flogging so was already feeling slightly more chipper.


     
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  20. Desmun Barrast
    A smile crossed his mouth as the Knight from Galgaroth spoke up. His heart raced with excitement. Though despite he being the only one to have spoken from Galgaroth, the other knigts standing by seemed to agree on a basic level. They didn't disagree, for certain. It was likely that they may have been a little sheepish or stubborn, but thankfully someone spoke out.

    Ser Quinten Hardron of the Nantenland Knights, in his crimson with white nodded his head, and reached out to Silas for a handshake. He huffed a chuckle,

    "Then we will work together. We will make it work with our lords- I have no doubt." The Nanten knights had some explaining to do to their uppers, but that would only be a matter of time. The Nanten Lord was here, but the rest of the council was in their own country, just like the rest of the countrymen there- the Lords were present, but their advisory boards and other folk were not present.

    "Good!" Desmun almost shouted with excitement. "Will you both join with me in riding to Galgaroth, to bring the news, per chance?" He asked directly to the Galgaroth Knight, and Nanten Knight who had spoken... not sure what to expect.

    Desmun looked to his couple Ranger guard near the wall, and since the younger new member had not seen nor approached as he had motioned, he motioned for another that was standing by. The man swiftly came up- he had longer brown hair brushed backward, a mustache, soul patch, and separated goatee. He wore padded armor over maille, and a green cape, and had that 'typical' ranger look to him. Desmun whispered something to him, and he left the premises immediately. He was ordered to ride swiftly back to Nemor and deliver the news to send aide to Galgaroth immediately. The news would take a few days at least to reach, so going now owuld be paramount.

    "All right. It seems that we can forego the typical biases placed upon us by our fathers, and fathers-fathers.." He nodded, then continued- "So, let us see if we can get momentum, and get others' support in getting Galgaroth up, so we can begin pulling the countries together again."






    Rocas Vargen
    Still standing in a huddle with the other two Midgardians....

    "We just need them to agree to send us aide..." Rocas whispered, ashamed of the thought. "We can't h-"

    "We can hold them off at the misty mountains as long as we need." he was promptly interrupted by his father's apparent mind reading ability over his son. "We are Vargen, and we protect our pack. We won't let the Misty Mountain Hold fall to the roughskins."

    Un-crossing his arms and looking up in a sigh of frustration,
    "Yes. We protect our pack..." he rolled his eyes, staring now at his boots. His lord father had some of what he thought were the most childish phrases, but he went along with it. He didn't finish his entire thought out loud....about 'protecting the pack' when there was no pack to protect, though. Their situation in their homeland was indeed a dire one. Their losses were great, but they would certainly- and accurately- say that the enemy's losses were greater in number.

    There was a brief silence between the small Midgardian huddle, standing in a corner of the meeting room. Looking around, Rocas saw the others standing about, talking amongst themselves. Finally, he spoke up again, but kept his eyes on the smaller door on the other side of the room, the same one the Cardinal, King, and lawmaker left from.

    Lifting his green eyes to a circular stained glass window high up on the wall-
    “’Wonder how much time he’s got left?” Kjaren just looked at Rocas with a disapproving look that faded into a thoughtful one, actually thinking the same thing.

    Kjaren’s face then twisted.
    “I wonder why the Ruvellian church is so involved with this…?”

    “They are part of Liseria,” Rocas retorted,

    “But the High Confessor isn’t here.” The high confessor was akin to the highest of the Ruvellian Church’s heirarchy, and also the lordship of Liseria. “He would be here representing his country if it was a matter of Liserian importance, not just sending one of the high Cardinals to represent the church.”

    Rocas shook his head, “Maybe he’s there commanding the Temple Knights at the walls of Labados Cathedral? Maybe he has taken ill? He is at an advanced age- even for an old Knight.” He smirked, the last one intending to be a joke. The High Confessor was a renowned Knight before he took up the robes of Ruvellia years ago. Rocas also had a funny tone when he spoke the word 'knight'. He, like many other Midgardians, thought it funny that the mainlanders had a warrior caste. Compared to where Midgard, almost everyone was a capable warrior in their own rights.

    “The red robes are the only church with an armed branch… Maybe that’s why they’re represented?”

    “You've got a point,” nodded Rocas.

    They continued their talk among themselves for a few more moments before Kjaren cut them all off with a raised hand. He was looking at something behind them all.

    Turning slowly, Rocas saw that there was a group of mainlanders gathering. The Ranger in green who looked just a bit older than him, the large Black Lion warrior, and the young Galgaroth knight. Rocas’ eyes went wide, and his mouth near dropped.

    With a raised eyebrow and a curled lip, Kjaren boasted, “now this… this is interesting.”

    Midgard was not part of the ‘Hundred Years War’ that began one hundred and eighty years ago, but everyone remembered it. The ‘black lion’ hated the ‘white lion’, and they fought over power of the throne. At that time, it was House Faneth that still held the throne. The black dragon on a yellow field. People still remember this sigil, and pay respects to Faneth’s history. But the war was ended by the current King’s father. House Grigori, from Galgaroth took the spotlight, and the crown prince, still a Faneth, died of illness. Grigori was rushed to the throne with a wave of support from the entire mainland and married the widowed Queen. Despite this, Galgaroth and Nantenland still held grudges. They had some spotted skirmishes, some large enough to involve both Ishtan and Nemor in their fights.... Though the recent peace- everyone knew was temporary....

    Now they were seeing some from both countries stand feet from the other, without swords drawn? It was a spectacle for everyone who noticed. Apparently Midgard was the first to see, as the Ishtani were still talking among each other, and the Kubanese were tending to their Emperor. Lord Barast was talking with lord Duncan, had no idea what was going on.

    Even the head of Nantenland, Their Lord Duncan and Galgaroth’s father could barely be in the same room with the other without starting some sort of argument. The previously arrogant Galgaroth usually starting the friction, in Nantenland’s defense. That was the views of many when it cam to the two Countries. Nantenland was usually the 'good guy', and Galgaroth were usually the 'wrongdoers'. People usually just considered them cut from the same cloth, despite others taking sides. In all fairness- they both provided much for the Kingdoms, and did their fair share of good, but people still remember the hundred years war before they remember the dams that Nantenland help build in Liseria due to flooding of one of the largest rivers. People remember House Galgorath hanging captured Nantenland ‘heroes’ before they'd remember that Galgaroth largely funded the repairs and restructuring of the Crown City, and housed the refugees that were left homeless during the war.

    Even Rocas, one of the farthest removed from the situations remembers that the lions hate each other. Galgaroth was always referred to as having upturned noses and deep purses. They may be driven by things like honor, but most thought that it was because they were so concerned with their vanities. Nantenland were supposed to be dim-witted but chivalrous. It was a strange thing, reputation. Even in Midgard, there were houses –they called them ‘clans’- that were the same way. Reputation built on things their fathers did. Actions that sons, and sons of sons had to deal with and clean up and take the blame for. Rocas would forever have to deal with the fact that his father beheaded his cousin as a traitor. He knew in the back of his mind that someday he may have to cross swords with their sons and daughters for revenge. At least the ones who were once too young to fight the original rebellion.... Or the ones who hadn’t fallen on the fields already. There wasn’t any outward animosity now, but time has a way of changing things.

    Now, they were witness to something that hadn’t happened in almost two hundred years. The Nanten and Galgaroth coming together in conversation that didn’t involve swords, or sour words. He saw that the one doing most of the talking was the young ranger lord. ‘Something’ of House Barast, Rocas couldn’t remember. He looked just a few years older than himself. He supposed they were from the same generation, wrongfully assuming him to be the son of Eugene Barast, head of Nemor.

    Rocas was looking at Desmun as Desmun turned from that group before walking to the Midgardian trio.

    “Is the ranger lordling coming this way?" he muttered to himself.... Indeed he was.

    His dark green cloak covering most of his golden armor, his confident stride and determined look. Up close the armor looked like it was dark colored steel or iron that had just been painted gold. A very good paint job, but up close it looked more like a subdued or dull golden color.

    Rocas sidestepped from the trio to face the young lord from Nemor. Kjaren turned as well. "What do we owe the pleasure?" Rocas asked with a smirk, and a hint of sarcasm.

    "I'll tell you the same thing I told the Lions." Desmun looked to the two norseman and their companions. "We all understand everyone's borders are being compromised right now. It is something that is becoming more than obvious. But standing alone won't get us anywhere. After discussing this with the two lions, we're going to ride to Galgaroth's aide, and try to gather their forces that have been spread out. With any luck, we'll see if Nantenland can offer the assistance of a portion of it's elite knights."

    Kjaren furrowed his brow- "You, yourselves, are going to just go to Galgaroth, and stitch them back together?" he snorted in disbelief.

    without hesitation, Desmun gave a riposte, "Everyone else is too scared to leave their borders unprotected." He looks around the room to each person within, in gesture- "we all are here, away from our borders. What will it mean for us to be gone much longer?" He tilted his head, "We have to." he spoke dutifully.

    "So what are you coming to us for?" Rocas asked,

    "Midgard has taken the largest blunt force hit that we know of. You have fought the hordes for longer than we have. You could provide us with a good deal of insight to the enemy."

    "You- as in.. Him?" Kjaren reached out and clapped his hand on Rocas' shoulder. Kjaren's voice was weary- and the two Norsemen looked to each other.

    ".... I'll do it." It took a moment, but the moment wasn't long. Rocas was a forward thinker, and quick to try to 'buck the system'.

    "You would turn your back on Midgard?!" Kjaren's eyes became intense.

    Desmun made sure no one else got time to speak after Kjaren's last word. "No one is turning their backs on anyone. Once we strengthen Galgaroth- they have the best equipped army. They can assist the rest of the Kingdoms while we can help you in Midgard... But it starts there. Help us, so we can help you."

    Kjaren went silent. Finally he admitted- "I...don't know how much longer we can hold out." Normally he's all about showmanship and pride in his countrymen's warrior culture.

    "Then we can have Galgaroth send troops to Midgard first. But it all. starts. there."

    "You're so sure we can help Galgaroth?" Rocas spouted in disbelief.

    "They have groups of clerics and scouts spread about their country who can greatly bolster their lines. They need to be united. We will be the thread who stitches them together."

    Standing silent, they all started at one another, waiting. Kjaren sighed, and looked to Eamon. Watching and feeling a sense of both fear of leaving his country behind for a while longer, and duty. He knew this was the best way. From Galgaroth, forces would pour- if successful.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Desmun left the Midgardians to talk it over. With that, he turned and went to the Ishtan group.

    Speaking to them, was like speaking to a stubborn child. Ishtan would not help the others without being payed handsomely up front. The Sultan lord was not happy to leave his borders unguarded in case they came to him in force. He wouldn't budge, and he would continue to be isolationist. The Ishtan would not interject with the Sultan there, his word is law, and he didn't want to hear from his other emissaries. Especially being religious, thinking the Ruvelians were being punished, and the Ishtan being saved. He wasn't going to go against this and risk his beloved people.

    "We have spears to spare, especially right now." Ehab tried to argue. Ehab was a younger scholar who had proved himself during a few Ishtan uprisings against the constant iron fisted grip the Sultan held.

    "But what if that is what they are waiting for?" the doubts kept pouring forth. "I will not risk the lives of the people of Ishtan for your Ruvelian crimes." The Sultan barked.

    Desmun couldn't reach him. Ehab gave sympathetic eyes, but that's all he could do for the moment. Not giving up, but allowing the Ishtani's time to think, Desmun walked away, back to his Lord Uncle...




     
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