ᛡ W I T C H H U N T ᛡ [ IC ]

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    Nine women stood against nine poles, positioned atop a heavy wooden scaffold. The scaffold was not intended for this purpose. The wood crawled spider-like around a large , half-finished sculpture. The sculpture, depicting a woman with a torch in one hand was missing her head. The nine-women stood with their backs against the statue's stony breasts, as if the headless woman was embracing them. The women did not look at their granite captor. Their heads were held in place by a rope around their necks, their hands bound behind them, tied tight behind the beams. They were clad in thin wool dresses that did nothing in the ever-present summer rain. The fabric clung to their frames, and their hair stuck to their faces in the downpour. Water ran down their noses and cheeks, dripping off of them like morning dew. The nine women stood bound to the nine poles, and some of them had anger flashing in their eyes. Some of them had tears streaming down their cheeks. One of them had a smile stretching from cheek to cheek. A few had faces that were more like masks than faces, utterly devoid of expression. None of them spoke, and they did not look at one another. They stared across the crowd instead, with their blue, green, and grey eyes. Those eyes spoke stories. Even in the women who held their emotions back, even in the sorrow and the anger - and the smile - there was nothing but hatred for the humans in-front of them, for the jeering crowd before them. Those eyes had nothing human in them at all.

    The tenth pole, at the end of the scaffold, did not hold a woman, but a man. He was dressed in the same thin, white shift, which clung to his bare legs. From his feet to his knees, he was covered with mud. His black curls were flat against the sides of his head, and his neck had been rubbed raw by the rope around his throat. The man's eyes were golden, and shimmered with moisture and contempt. Those eyes were the same as the women, not human at all, too cold and too hateful. But there was something else in those golden eyes, something strange and fiery that blazed in him and did not subside. Unlike the women, who were as still as statues as they faced their fate; the man's mouth was constantly chewing. His lips were moving too, muttering something that was entirely unheard with the crash of thunder and lightning above this head, and the clamour of the crowd before him. Behind his back, his bound hands turned something over and over in his fingers. His heavy brows were knotted over his eyes - he had to concentrate. He knew that this would be the end of him, if he stopped chewing, if he stopped speaking, if his fingers missed plucking the flowers from his sprig of wolfsbane. His eyes flickered over the women, to see if any of them were speaking, if any of them had wolfsbane behind their back, if any of them were chewing the wormswood. None of them were. The women's eyes all were trained on the man and woman approaching the scaffolding.

    The woman was not quite pretty, with pox-scarred cheeks and blue eyes that were too closely placed. Her nose gave her the unpleasant appearance of a wild boar in the middle of a snarl. The woman's mouth was beautiful though, thick lips that had been painted with charcoal. She seemed impervious to the rain. Her lips did not smear. Her hair, braided into an elaborate silver crown that rested atop her thin brows, caught the flash of lightning. For a moment, she seemed to look directly at him, and her lips sagged, like her face was melting. But in another flash of lightning, her eyes had left him. The tenth man whispered words to himself, chewed the wormwood, and pulled the flowers from the wolfsbane, while he watched when the Imperatrix's eyes had gone. Her attention was solely on the man at her side. One of her slender hands, studded with moonstone from her wrist to her fingertips, clutched the hand of another. Next to him, she was truly terrible - truly small and ugly and so unspeakably human. He was not human. He was the most beautiful thing that the tenth man had ever seen in all of his years. The man had elegant, almond shaped eyes with dark lashes and angular cheekbones that rose high in his face. His lips were soft and gently pursed, giving him a thoughtful air. His hair was long and dark, and curled at the small of his back. But there was something terrible in him too; the glint of his eyes. They were an unspeakable orange colour, the colour of the Duinnobann, the colour of battlefields. That was why he was not human. There was too much magic in him, too much of the Other Place. The man's animal eyes snapped towards the tenth man, and they seemed to glow in the gloom. In that moment, when the tenth man felt like the man knew all about the wolfsbane, the wormwood, and the words - he recognized him. The tenth man knew who he was looking at. Salathiel, the Wielder, the master of the All-Swords.

    Salathiel looked away, his attention on the woman on the first pole. He said something to her in a language that the tenth man did not understand. Salathiel, he had heard, had once come from Eboryr, but what he spoke was not the Common tongue, but something else, something distorted and strange. The first woman - Salomia - spat in his face in response. Globs of spittle from her perfect mouth slipped down his perfect face. The tenth man found himself smiling, despite everything. Salomia, gentle, sweet-spoken Salomia, with all the Lodainic manners in the world had spit in the face of the Gods' fist on earth. Salathiel wiped the spit from his face with one gloved hand - and then lashed out, slapping Salomia so hard across the face that the tenth man could hear her nose snap. When his fist was removed from her face, her nose was just a mess of blood and bruises. The Wielder went to the next woman, and the tenth man chewed hard on the wormwood. The ropes had been coated with tar mixed with salt and iron fastenings bound the ropes to the poles. Salathiel must have told the Imperatrix's witch-hunters that was how you caught a mage. That was not how you caught a mage. The tenth man knew how to bind a mage. You ground beewort's root into a thin paste, and spread it on the mage's mouth. You bound their tongue with Agrimony blossoms gathered under the summer sky, and you poured salt around them. You did not need iron at all - iron could not stop a mage. You needed lead. Only lead mixed with the blood of a white sheep could stop a mage from bursting forth from all of the bindings. The tenth man pulled the flowers from the wolfsbane. There were only a few flowers left on the stalk, and he could feel the soft petals beneath his fingertips. His mouth made the motions of words. Brjóta, ek gørð ráða - ek gørð brjóta ráða. The tenth man didn't let the words escape his lips, holding them in, and repeating them in an chant that would soon come an end.

    They walked across the wooden stage, the pair of them, eying the nine women, and the tenth man in turn. The Imperatrix's eyes were hard and cold in her face, and when she looked at the tenth man, it took all of his strength not to swallow the chunks of wormwood bark in his mouth. He stopped his chanting, stopped pulling petals, and stood perfectly still as she passed him. The silver bells sewn to her dress jingled as she moved to stand at the far end of the wooden stage. Salathiel stood opposite of her, his back to Salomia. Salomia's eyes were hard daggers in her face, wishing curses on the man. Her teeth were bared. A little bit of salvia bubbled at the corner of her lips. The tenth man stared at the Imperatrix's back, and kept curses from rising to his throat. The Imperatrix, Laurentia II, called the Bright Flame by her supplicants, and the Burner-bitch by her enemies -- Laurentia opened her mouth. She had ugly teeth. They had gone black in her gums from sugar and fatty meats. She had asked the tenth man to pull teeth from the whales and carve her a set of new ones . But that had been years ago. Now, she spoke, and when she spoke, the tenth man chewed the wormwood ever harder. Her words were hard and cold, and spoken in Lodainic. After she came to the end of each sentence, Salathiel repeated it in Common; voice devoid of accent, devoid of feeling. But her voice - her voice was rich with passion.

    "Hear me, Good people of the Gods! The Age of Illumination has been a trying one. I come before you - not as Imperatrix, but as an ambassador with a divine mission." The Imperatrix looked towards Salathiel. His face was the picture of stony perfection, and he nodded solemnly. "I come to you, as a servant of the Gods - just as you are." She shook her head from side to side, and reached up, to pull her hair from its braid. The curtain of white hair whirled around her. She kneeled down, on the ground - and the crowd, unruly, loud, and screaming for blood suddenly went silent. The Imperatrix did not kneel. Laurentia brought her nails to her cheeks, driving them into her skin. Blood pooled from underneath her fingertips, as she mutilated her face. The storm above her churned, and the storm seamed to agree with the crowd. The Lodainic small folk were alive with whispering, and the nine women on the poles began to whisper too, in Perthic to one another - knowing that neither the Imperatrix or Salthaiel could possibly understand them. The tenth man heard snips of their words -- what is she doing -- what is going to happen to us -- has she gone mad? Salathiel stood as silent and resolute as the headless statue. The dirt, the rain, it all caught up with Laurentia. She seemed to melt in her dress, and the charcoal makeup smeared down her face, mingling with her own blood. Her blue eyes rolled up to the sky.

    But all went quiet, when the Imperatrix spoke again, and her voice was soft, sad, but more than anything -- disappointed. "The faith teaches us - from the sands of the Duinnoban, with the blood of the children of Geinnee and Marvaanagh, with wet clay of Donegal - we are born. And when we die - our body becomes the salt of the sea." She raised one bloody finger, "But. But our souls - souls never die. Our souls move on - they join our Gods." Tears rolled down her face and for a moment, the tenth man almost believed they were real. But only for a moment - as her words swelled with strength. This was all performance, the tenth man realized. All of it was practiced. He plucked another foxglove blossom from the stalk. The wind caught it, and it passed over his face, before the rain pushed it down down against the cold wood of the scaffolding. One of the women saw it. Criseyde -- the one who smiled. Her green eyes widened and her smile stretched further. Despite her binds, she nodded at the tenth man. She knew. And he knew too - he knew he had her blessing. He resumed chewing, as the Imperatrix continued her performance. "--But not all souls. Some souls - some souls are surely trapped in Hell."

    The Imperatrix rose to her feet. Her blood, tears, rain, and charcoal ran down her cheeks. She turned away from the crowd, and walked towards Criseyde. Her bloody hand snapped out, and grabbed her by the chin, pinching her teeth together. Criseyde's teeth were beautiful, white, glimmering. They were all more beautiful than the Impertrix, but it was not jealous that moved her. It was fear, he knew. He could smell it on her. Especially when she knew - just as well as him, that the sorceresses' beauty was false. Their eyes were cold and hate-filled because they were ugly crones inside, and their soft skin, supple breasts and perfect teeth were lies. The tenth man stripped another foxglove blossom, and closed his amber eyes. The Name could solve everything - everything, except a death by flame. The Imperatrix snarled at Criseyde's white teeth and shimmering dark skin, she yanked out a fist-full of her black curls. The women at the post remained silent, as the Impertrix brought the fistful of hair out to the crowd, holding it above the heads of the peasents. Peasants with lice and pock-marks, small-folk with bad teeth and bræðblack pustules; common people who would never know what it was to look in a mirror and see something other than themselves. The Imperatrix flung the lock of hair into the throng. "Some call this Age of Illumination by a different name! I have heard it - and so have you. They call this the Age of Trials. And do you know why?" The imperatrix wailed, and the crowd was silent, nervous. A baby cried out, and then, was silenced, "Because a plague crawls across our world - the Gauls and Sea Peoples mock our Gods - but do you know who has mocked them the longest? Do you know why those souls - the souls your children, your wives, your husbands - do you know why those souls are trapped in hell?" She whirled around, white hair wet and whipping as she turned, an accusatory finger pointed at Isemay - the Decemvirix, the leader of them all, "The witches. The witches that caught my mother's soul in their webs - the souls that rightfully should meet our Gods above. They take them, and we have let them take those souls for too long."

    Isemay stared at her, and did not blink. She was the oldest of them all, and she had allowed some wrinkles to crawl across her face. Her silver hair hung about her shoulders, and her sharp eyes whispered death hexes that Laurentia II would never hear. She did not flinch away from the woman. She merely watched - as the Impertrix of the Lodainic empire continued her tirade."You cry out to the Gods - my child is sick, my husband's at war, the Southerners have burned my farms and stolen my daughters - sold my sons into slavery." The imperatrix's nose wrinkled, and her teeth jutted out - giving her the appearance of a growling Carindog, ready to snatch up a hare in its jaws. "But the Gods don't listen? And do you know why? Because we failed them - my Sainted mother failed them - you failed them - and I failed them too. We let magic touch this world - we let it shape us. The witches that gave my mother counsel are the very ones that have brought this scourge upon us." The imperatrix flicked her fingers at Salathiel, who walked to her side. His armor - bronze plate with iron fittings, clanked as he did, the orange cloak about his shoulders billowing in an unnatural breeze. He drew from his hip a bright white sword - and its blade was so shining, so filled with Light that even with his eyes closed, the tenth man thought it would nearly blind him. He squeezed his eyes tighter, mumbling his incantation, chewing the wormwood, and stripping the petals. He did not have much time left.

    The blade shimmering with an unearthly light - and then, in Salathiel's hand - caught aflame. This was not a natural flame, but an every burning, every shining white fire that illuminated the face of every man, woman, and child in Lacus Acre's square. As he raised the sword - five women dressed in dark blue tunics with a white rose embroidered on their breast, carried in boughs of pinewood to the scaffold. Each carried two boughs. There were ten. Ten boughs for ten pyres. The tenth man chewed harder, and his jaw was aching. The Bright Flame's blue eyes reflected the light of Salathiel's sword, and it caught the wetness of her face - making her whole being luminous. In that light, she looked truly terrible and beautiful all at once. "We used magic for our gain - and paid no attention to the demons that rumbled beneath the earth - paid no attention to the enslavement of the human race to the whims of these creatures." She gestured to the nine women, and the tenth man was sure he heard Salomia snort. "They have killed and captured many, and have destroyed the churches and devastated the empire. The South was lost to beasts like these -- and your Brothers and Sisters in All were strewn all along the Old Roads of their daemonic Lord."

    The imperatrix nodded, and Salathiel moved to Salomia's post. The sword sputtered with its white flame. Salomia screwed her face up, closing her eyes tightly. She whispered to herself, and he could hear her. We are mortal, formed of the flesh - and to your flesh we shall return. / For so you did ordain when you created us, saying / ‘You are blood and to blood you shall return.’ Without another word or phrase, her pyre was lit. Her screams echoed through the square. One of the women - Cassandra - began to tug at her post, shrieking a thousand curses upon them all for all that they had done. Isemay said nothing, merely watched as her sister, her student's white gown went up in smoke, her flesh crackling and blackening beneath Salathiel's sword. The tenth man felt tears spring to his eyes - but he did not stop. He needed to begin now. He needed three candles, for the Name, but he had none. He had nothing but sisters, burning away on pyres, incantations said between their screams. The Imperatrix's words continued, and they had turned sickeningly languid, casual at the human lives she was destroying, putting to the torch one by one. "If you permit these monsters to continue thus with their impurity, the faithful of All will be much more widely attacked by them." Cassandra screamed next. "On this account I as a servant of the Gods, beseech you as the thousand hands of All to speak these words everywhere." Then Crieseyde. "--- and to persuade all people of whatever race or place - whatever rank, foot-soldiers and knights, poor and rich." Gone was Pavia, gone was Theodorae, gone was Mabel. Salathiel put them all to the torch one by one, and the Imperatrix's words were nearly drowned out by the roars of the blood hungry crowd.

    " --Destroy that vile race from the lands of our friends, from our families. From our brothers and sisters. I say this to those who are present, it meant also for those who are absent -- The Gods' Many Tongues touch all." Her eyes were burning and terrible, reflecting the pyres of the women she had put to Salathiel's sword. Gone was Evangelina, Gone was Adriana, and all that was left were Isemay and the tenth man. He had ten more words to say, one more blossom to pluck from the stalk, and then he would swallow the worm-wood and it would all be over. "Kill the witches - kill them if it costs your ashen body. For souls - our souls are forever. They will be free." Isemay watched as Salathiel approached her. The Decemvirix turned her head slightly towards the tenth man. Her bow-lips whispered something to him in a language that no one knew - no-one but the tenth man and the Decemvirix. Her silver hair floated around her, as if caught by the hands of angels. Her eyes, sharp as daggers, watched as Salathiel outstretched the sword towards her. He waited, for a moment. As if - as if to let her say something. To repent. The tenth man watched, as the ancient mage smiled. The placid smile of somebody who knew they were doomed to die. She spoke, her voice strong and clear - loud enough for all the crowd to hear. "I know your name, Wielder." Salathiel's orange eyes blazed with a secret fire - a secret hatred - and he did not put her to the torch. Instead - he plunged his burning sword through her open mouth, to keep her from speaking the Name. The glowing sword came out the back of her head, splattering the tenth man's face with gore.

    The audience cheered, and the Imperatrix nodded sagely. Her performance was coming to an end - and the new world was a bitter truth that was hard to swallow. Her final words hung in the square. "All who are slain - all who fall in this divine task, whether by land or by sea, in battle against the monsters - they shall become one with all the Gods, become one with the Unknown Flesh." She bowed her head, listening to the crowd gasp and murmur beneath her. Her eyes were closed, as she channeled her gods with her black teeth and black words; "This I grant them through the power of Gods with which I am invested. O what a disgrace if such a despised and base race, which worships demons, should conquer a people which has the faith of All ---" There was a loud sound of rushing water. It was as if a wave had crashed against the scaffold Laurentia II, who is called the Bright Flame, opened her eyes. She turned to her last heretic. But he had swallowed the bitter truth. He had spoken the only Name that mattered, and now, he was gone.


    A band of thirteen trudged across the cold, hard ground. In the wastes, the rises and crests of the crags were shrouded in the grey of smoke and mist. There was no light to interrupt the grey, save for the single shaft of sunlight that seared through the heavy clouds once a day, with the noonday sun. Moravia was a dark and cold country, even in the middle of summer. The landscape was barren - rocky outcroppings and grassy over-hands which herds of wild sheep grazed upon, snatching up the nettles that stung at the unwary travels feet. A few towering stones carved with interlocking spirals and elaborate knots of runic inscription erupted from the sod. Every few miles, a half-buried, half-ruined statues of Kynazi past stared down at the party; moss rotting their granite faces, dandelion erupting between their marble toes. The road was not paved like the roads in Lodain, but a rocky trail with the occasional carin propped up at the side of the road. There were no others traveling the road, and there hadn't been in days. The only signs of life were the occasional sheep, and carindogs with hungry eyes and eager barks, that prowled at the edges of the road, but they did not assault the company. They would sit at the side of the road and cock their hairy heads and watch the thirteen pass.

    Ten of the party were shackled together, connected to one another by iron-manacles and a heavy iron chain that dragged around their feet, and was caught on the rough earth. Jagged points of volcanic rock scraped at the bottom of the bare feet, and the thorns from Aedris' Tears cut their ragged clothes. They had been walking now for an unknowable amount of time - too long to be so close, too long to be so cold. The ten in chains wore nothing but thin shirts and wool-woven breeches ; not enough to keep out the chill that whipped in the air. The chains of the prisoners were attached to the back of a huge, black horse's elaborate saddle. The horse was dressed in black and red cloaks, horse blankets trimmed with thick red fox fur, to keep him warm through the drizzle that came with the summer days in Moravia. The horse had a strength in his gait, despite the slow pace that it walked - and it's size was incredible - an immense draft horse for the towering woman who rode him. She was dressed in simple red robes a peaked hood covering most of his face. But beneath those robes was a thick jerkin of interlocking leather, and a cold-iron breastplate. Beneath the hood was a sharp and angry face - with golden eyes that burned like the noon-day sun. The prisoners - ten men and women, all forced to march together - were led by the Lady Recreant ; who did not speak, or perhaps, could not. The prisoners had never heard her exchange a word with anyone.

    The Lady Recreant was flanked by two others; a man, and a woman. They too, were silent most of the journey - but the man spoke, from time to time. He spoke in the Common tongue, and told the prisoners when they could rest, when they could speak, when they could scream and cry - and when they could not. The woman was older, and ever more silent. She looked less human than the man - and why should she not? They were Seekers, Changed folk, and it was said, did not blink. They kept their eyes open, even when they slept, so that they could curse all the world with their gaze, and never miss a single soul. The Seekers could see through anything, be it brick, earth, or a man’s lie - in the stories. The woman was completely bald, and dark veins stood out on the top of her skull. Her black eyes were hooded, her nose hooked. The Seekers were both mounted, atop small piebald horses as white and black as they were. The Lady Seeker wore black riding leathers that creaked as she rode through the hills, the wool of her cloak spilling out around her. The amount of fabric that kept her together came from a whole flock of cattle and sheep each, it seemed. The fabric did not disguise her disfigurement. Her stomach and breasts were heavily distended and bloated. She would have been tall, if it were not for her stooped posture, her spine overburdened by lugging around the mounds of flesh that made up her torso. She had never smiled, and had never spoke - but she exchanged black-eyed looks with the Lady Recreant, who in turn, curled her scarred lips.

    The crags stretched before the party of thirteen, but as they shambled to the top of one of Moravia's peaks, the crags seemed to come to an end. From the top of the gnoll, the thirtreen stared outward, down the steep, rocky slough, down the lines cut by slow moving glaciers - they looked down across a large basin. A river cut through the center of it - rich, fast water, where the fish jumped from the rapids and their scales caught the sun. The river was immeasurably wide. Across the rushing water - was a stone bridge - a long stone bridge that ended in a paved road. Lodain stretched across from them, and the Lodainic countryside could not be more different than Moravia. True, there were the rocky peaks and valleys, the windswept hills, but there was also well-tended farms that stretched across the land, giant colonnades supporting canals and aqueducts. Even from this height, people bustled around a small town, at the end of the bridge. The Lady Recreant on horseback stopped in her tracks, and the top of the peak. She dismounted from the horse, as she had done many times before, and pulled the cowl back from her face. Her Her orange eyes glowed, as the summer-sun began to set, growing brighter and as the darkness stretched over the hills. Her scarred lips twitched, and she gestured with one armored hand. Her leather-bound fingers caught the air, and seemed to snap at it, demanding it follow her whim.

    And her whim it did follow. The two Seekers dismounted from their horses - and the man walked to the back of the Recreant's drafthorse. Patting the stallion on the rump, his bloated, tuberous fingers pulled the iron fittings from its tail. He threw the anchor down upon the ground. The man looked towards the prisoners and spoke. Seekers all spoke too slowly - it was said that The Seekers’ spilled out all their blood, and replaced it with tar. It was why they spoke so slowly, and why their skin looked like whale’s blubber from all the way up North. "We make camp here; tomorrow we cross the bridge into Lodain." The Seeker-man gave a strange smile, showing his pearly white teeth in black gums. His brow-line moved upwards, in a sympathetic, sad tilt of the brow - but he had no hairs to make his face mirror human expression. The Seeker-woman said nothing, and dragged her corpulent body across the hilltop, coming to a rest by a large stone. She pressed her swollen fingertips into the runic carvings on the stone - and pressed her bulbous forehead to the stone, closing her eyes and whispering to herself. The Lady Recreant turned towards the collected prisoners, and her fiery eyes burned brighter than any wildfire. She smiled then, a wide-toothy smile with sharp teeth and splitting scars all along her lips.

    Within a few hours, their camp had been set up; a roaring fire in the center of a circle of three tents; one for the Recreant, one for the Seeker-man, and one for the Seeker-woman. The prisoners have never seen the Recreant inside of her tent. The Seeker-man spoke to the woman in murmured, unintelligible words. Cold jerky was pushed into their mouths by the Seeker-man, and then - he retreated into the black wool of his tent - the sewn Nine-Pointed Star of the Gods of All emblazoned on its side. The Seeker-woman followed after him.The prisoners were lashed together by their cold-iron chains, spread in a circle around the fireside. The flames made strange shadows spread across the hilltop, and the stars shone down bright and cold above them. The Recreant had found a boulder to sit on - some distance from the camp's center. The boulder was the one that the Seeker-woman had touched and spoken to, the boulder with the curling runic script. It offered a long view of the valley - but the Recreant did not look at it. Her glowing eyes watched her own armored hands instead, as she sharpened her sword against a whetstone. The jagged, rough sound of the ever-sharpening blade echoed through the hills. She did not attempt to stop the prisoners from speaking - and gave no indication that she heard a word that they said. Her eyes were locked on the claymore in her hands, and her thoughts were unknowable.

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  2. Lillian didn't complain when her bare feet scraped against cold uneven rocks and bled. She didn't complain that she was tired and hungry and cold from the trip. She didn't even complain when she was force fed her tasteless jerky by one of her captors, when she was used to lavish meals. No, she was quiet, quiet and staring. No one knew why she stared forward, not seeing anything. But then again, they hadn't known how much her heart ached for her beloved.

    Her dignity was gone, no silks draping her body, no shoes to keep her feet from bleeding out on the road. She was dressed in simple clothing, that of peasants and prisoners. And she continued to stare off into the distance, biting her lip to keep from crying out the name of her beloved.

    How she missed him! How she wished she could be by his side once more, listening to him speak in his native tongue soothing words that promised a better tomorrow. There was no better tomorrow this time. Not when she was shackled to nine other people without hope of escaping. Normally, she would've said a prayer to the Gods of All to help soothe her, but the last time she tried it, she was smacked across the face, hard.

    She wasn't lying when she said she had complete faith in the Church of All, that it wouldn't be so corrupt as to take innocents and burn them at the stake. But then she looked around her and saw people. Commoners, admittedly, but nonetheless people. And from their eyes she could see their stories, that of false accusations that led to where they were now. It sent her mind reeling and made her dumb, unable to pray in earnest. No, her heart wasn't into any prayers at this moment, not when so many were here accused of witchcraft. Her head bowed as a few tears escaped her eyes. So what if she was chained to others? She just wanted to be with Ismet once more.
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  3. Back when she had been accused of witchcraft -which wasn't actually a lie, but she was harming no one, but all the contrary- Ide had ran and used her knowledge of the place to evade her captors to the best of her abilities. She had been captured in the end, but once she had been cornered, she didn't exist. She didn't know if Mara and Ciarán would grant her a chance to escape later, or if it was their will that her life ended now. For the moment, she had decided to sit back, wait, and observe. If her life had to end in a pyre, then so be it.

    Little did she know how hard it would be to get to that pyre. The little clothing she had now did nothing to protect her from the cold and the weather's harsh embrace, but she could handle the constant trembling. If she let her mind wander, eventually she forgot about the cold. What she was having the hardest time with, was keeping up with the pace of the people she was chained to and their captors, plus the long distance they were covering. She was used to walking barefoot in nature, but never for so long, and her hometown didn't have any of this cruel rock that clawed at her feet, but was always covered with a gentle blanket of soil and grass. On top of that, she was really thin, the muscles in her small frame not capable of keeping up with such a journey. She had fallen to the ground more than once, only to be forced back on her feet. She was almost sure she'd die of exhaustion before she even got to their destination.

    The jerky would have been the most delicious meal she had ever eaten in her life because she was so hungry, if it wasn't because the exhaustion had closed up her stomach. She needed the food, but after swallowing the jerky it went right back up to her mouth. She felt so much pain in her legs and feet she didn't ever care about swallowing the jerky a second time.

    "Why do I bother? They're going to kill me anyway. I might as well just not eat and let myself die." She thought bitterly, sitting -or falling maybe- with a loud thud on the ground. Her gaze was lost on the ground, not focusing or anything, as that last thought lingered in her mind. She allowed herself a few more moments off wallowing in self pity, and then inhaled deeply as she shut her eyes tight. "I can't lose my hopes now. The Goddess and God didn't grant me these powers just to let me die in the end, without ever achieving anything."

    She felt a sharp pain in her throat, as her eyes started to get filled with tears. "Maybe I already achieved what I had to do. Maybe I was brought here just so I could save him..." She shook her head, not caring about if someone saw her and thought she was crazy. Surely all these people she was chained with had more important things to think of. Maybe they were questioning their beliefs and life purpose, just like her. "No, have hope... Have hope..."
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  4. Thirteen was an unlucky number, this Talulla knew to be true. Her mother knew this, as did her grandmother and her great grandmother. But this was not a plain thirteen, it was thirteen split into one, two, and ten. She did not know what that meant. Her mother would know, but she had not wanted to learn the superstition of numbers from her mother, she had only wanted the knowledge of herbs.

    The fire was too hot against her face, the night too cold against her back. Her feet ached and bled, and her stomach ached for something other than the tasteless jerky and stale water they were given. But all those discomforts paled in comparison to the hole in her chest where her children had been. They were gone now, ash and dust beneath the remains of a burnt down hut, and soon, she would be too, just ash and dust on the remnants of a pyre.

    There was a sharp tugging on her chain as the prisoner next to her fell to the ground, pulling her along with. She was quick to shoot a glare, snarling, "Watch what you're doing, you clumsy oaf". Though by this point of time, those with the misfortune of being chained next to her would have likely become used to her rudeness.

    But her irritation didn't last very long. It seldom did, it flared, then was quickly leeched away by the misery of her situation. She stared into the fire, thinking back to her home, her family, back when everything was still perfect. When her nights were spent in the comfort of a shared bed. Unconsciously, she started singing, a soft irgish lullaby, just loud enough to be heard.

    "Oh hush thee my dove, oh hush thee my sweet love
    Oh hush thee my lap wing, my dear little bird.
    Oh, fold your wings and seek your nest now
    The berries shine on the old rowan tree
    The bird is home from the hills and valleys"
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  5. In dreams

    Ronan awoke to find himself in a rather serene place that carried a rather ominous feel to it. Surrounding Ronan was fog, a thick fog that prevented him from seeing further than a few feet from himself. As he walked through the rather vivid dream, the sounds of his bare feet echoed and were the only sounds comforting the confused Ex All-Disciple. As what seemed like endless walking forward through the fog, and an exponential increase of temperature as Ronan marched on. He found himself rather fatigued, sweat dripping down his face and trickling down to his chin, his smooth, medium length , white strands of hair now sticking to his forehead. Eventually he stopped going forward, and remained still, breathing heavily as the hot air seemed to dry his throat even further. It felt as if by breathing, he was only slowly suffocating himself and allowing this infernal heat to cook him from the inside.

    After minutes of being still and heavily breathing, a voice began to speak, not his own but a foreign one. At first the voice seemed incomprehensible but Ronan was very much attracted to it, a soothing voice, a familiar voice, but he could not recognize it. Finally a shadowy figure emerged from the fog, a rather slim figure, tall figure that looked down onto Ronan. Ronan was too fatigued to truly put on any kind of shocked expression or reaction, he instead continued to breathe deeply and attempt to regain his energy in this damned heat.

    "Is this the extent of your ambition young one? Is this all that your current powerless state can bring you?" said the figure

    Ronan's very being was suddenly reenergized, a small spark ignited inside him when hearing these words. Was this figure mocking him? pitying him? Acting above him? He clenched his fist and grit his teeth, he would wait to hear what the figure would say before showing the figure the ambition of a man whom is on the pursuit of power.

    "I have been intrigued by your... "ambitions", Ronan, how strongly you feel about yourself and how others should view you. How with so little power, you believe yourself superior to those around you." said the figure

    Ronan cut in rather quickly after this comment

    "Such insolence! You have been intrigued by my ambition? Tell me something a bit more surprising if you're going to make such a grand entrance! Power? Do you believe I lack power? Foolish is the only word that could describe you. I may lack the power to hurt someone with brute strength, or arcane magicks. But the art of the mind is my treasure, FOOLS rule this land, Fools I could easily manipulate. Look at the results of the reign of these fools, truly catastrophic. I aim to change that, and I am to prove that power is for those whom seek it and earn it and believe with every fiber of their being that they deserve it, it should not be given to someone for simply being birthed! No matter what stands in my way, no matter how great the power, even at the face of death. I will stand above all that is living and dead on this forsaken land, and I will do with it what I please. In this new age, the supposed "gods" of this land will no longer be the ones looking down on us, I will be the one looking down on all beings."

    The dark figure remained silent, it's silhouette shimmering every now and then, as if it were a shadow created from the light of a campfire's unruly flame It was a rather grandiose thing to say and it certainly sounded ignorant and childish, but the passion, presence and unrelenting pressure that Ronan showed was completely unheard of, no one man should be so obsessed, so insane... The figure reacted finally, with a clear wide grin that suddenly appeared on his blurred out, shadowy face. It's unnaturally white teeth almost shining and blinding Ronan.

    "Well then allow me to grant you.... a tool for lack of a better term. A tool that will facilitate the hunt for power and your quest to rule. All you have to do is give me a part of yourself, and I shall give you all of my being. Your words have persuaded me once again, and shown me that you were a correct choice. Now let us join in hands and in self, and may our paths continue together as one. A path that will lead you to your reign."

    The figure extended his hand towards Ronan, asking for a mere handshake, Ronan had also agreed with what the being said and decided to grab his hand, and as he did. He was suddenly awake.


    Ronan maintained the pace of the group as he walked forward. Through the rugged surfaces, the jagged rocks, and finally reaching the camp after another day of this treacherous journey to their possible doom. Of course Ronan himself was rather calm, confident you could say. He told himself that a death here would simply make him part of another meaningless death of the masses. A person with no purpose or accomplishments, a true failure at the art of the living. So he KNEW, that he would not die at the pyre, but he also was aware that he needed to put action behind his words. But he has yet to find some kind of opening for escape, he would attempt to slip his hands out of the chains, to no avail. He stayed vigilant of the guards that watched them, Ronan believed that they were Seekers, simply from the very corrupt and "undead" feeling they give off. As well as the bright eyes he was all too familiar with.

    Ronan looked around and observed his fellow heretics on their lovely journey to there probable demise. He noticed just how sorrowful the lot of them were, and how pitiful they looked, Ronan found some entertainment in observing the particular three ladies that seemed so tragically lost and hopeless. His gaze was a rather soothing and calm one, his bright blue eyes rather mesmerizing as well as how well the flicker of the flame complimented the sharp, exquisite features of his face. It was a bit odd to see someone so... pure and untouched among the crowd of "heretics". But Ronan quickly shook his head and scolded himself internally, he himself is in the same situation, and in these garments he probably looks almost as pathetic as them he remained quiet and thought his words out quite a bit.

    Ronan has always been very silent in person, unless of course he had something to gain from another person. In this situation he would need people to be on the same page as him, and see who would be willing to assist him in an attempt to escape. Or perhaps see who still has some kind of will to live and have not completely given themselves to their maker. He swallowed his pride, being slightly ashamed that he would have to rely on others for this.

    "So.. I believe introductions might be needed, I am Ronan Khinganme... pleasure to meet you. I personally would like to live past tomorrow, I was wondering if anyone had similar sentiments?" he said in a rather calm fashion (God's Good common)

    (I am so tired, I forgot Ronan's name a couple of times and his last name. Might head to bed but I still have another post for another RP so ye)
    #5 Wizzy The Wizard, Aug 3, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2016
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  6. Wolfe was the last in the line of prisoners, his hands shackled, his feet aching, and his icy blue eyes staring onwards underneath permanently furrowed eyebrows. He did not know any of the prisoners in front of him and he didn't care to. Ever since the afternoon in that valley he didn't care for much at all. Even now, in the cold of the barren land they traversed in, Wolfe could feel the heat of that eventful day brushing against the back of his neck. A grimace came to him as the events played back in his head like it had hundreds of times before. Each detail was as vivid and as horrible as the first time - the sounds of his shouts being drowned out by those of his men, the thick and heavy smell of their blood staining the valley's soil, the beat in his chest as he witnessed the massacre. He remembered breaking away from the Lodainic men holding him and running for that damned general. Wolfe was met with a blade to his gut and to this day he still wished that it had killed him. To die fighting for his men and his country was a death of honor. Instead he was helpless to do anything as the general slid the blade out of his flesh and still wet with his blood, cut off his braid. It was the final insult before he was later dragged, dressed and chained. They refused let him die from bleeding out. It wouldn't be nearly as entertaining as a public execution of a rebel leader, Wolfe thought before smiling grimly in his chains.

    His cold light blue gaze drifted downwards towards his beard. It was long overgrown now, mangled and dried with his own blood. He chuckled cheekily before he stole a glance at the male Seeker behind him. When he first laid eyes on the bloated sod the witty comment that followed afterwards had him knocked to the ground. The comment that followed after that had his mouth kicked in. But Gaheris Wolfe Leighton was a dead man, and it didn't matter how much pain he was in to him or how pretty he was going to be standing in the center of Lacus Acre. He was dead and so were the people in front of him. Wolfe refused to let his last moments in the world be labeled as submissive, all his life he opposed the Imperatrix and her damned Church of All and he sure as hell wasn't going to stop any time soon. Out of all the prisoners he had been reprimanded the most so far and as foolish as it might seem to some of them, he held it like a badge of pride. His latest comment had him stripped of the privilege of having a shirt though it never did much to keep him warm anyhow. Underneath his overgrown beard the hardened warrior cracked another grin. They could cut his hair and strip him to his underclothes all they liked; they would never take away his resolve.

    When it was time to make camp, Wolfe was tasked with some of the minor heavy labor tasks associated with it. He had been a warrior all his life and the conditions they were subjugated to hadn't made him weak. Starving, tired and slightly delirious, yes - but not physically incapable. As the prisoners crowded around the fire, he sat quietly with inquisitive eyes. He hadn't spoken much to them despite the amount of lip he had given to their captors and it was only now did he really get a good look of them all. Not everyone gets the opportunity to see how one acts as they stood waiting at death's door. His eyes rose at the sound of his native tongue, a lullaby. He looked at the source, one of the other prisoners and with a deep gravelly voice he solemnly spoke to her in their language. "No proud Igrisian should be separated from home at their time of death. I am sorry to see you share my position."

    His gaze shifted as another one spoke over the crackling of the fire, a man who introduced himself as Ronan. He spoke lightly and as if their coming death was avoidable. Wolfe chuckled once more in disbelief to see such politeness and casualty in a situation as dire as theirs but he didn't offer an answer. He knew their names would mean less to nothing come tomorrow afternoon. Instead the man simply turned and laid his bare body against the hard ground as he attempted to get some rest. He figured he wouldn't want to doze off before he gets lit aflame after all.
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  7. There was a certain solace in Cearnavon's death, I think. The bastard has been a constant source of pestering issues during the construction, always accusing me of heresy, embezzlement of funds and indecency. I do not think the fool though his words would be heard by someone outside of Syrhaven. The place was a backwater, but a rich and prospering backwater. He hoped to be rid of me, being granted the leadership over the project (preferably with all my documents and plans as well). I think he was very surprised when the All-Swords arrived, and set him on fire as the first of all. Yet...

    Well, it was a feeble solace at best. The long miles with heavy chains that would scrape harshly against skin wherever they touched were full of sharp pain, first. Second, the hunger came, since feeding well those who were about to die was certainly not efficient. Third, the pain dulled, and then I lost the count, since the pain and hunger simply vanished. My memories became a blur of images of a passing countryside, with nothing of note to keep the timeframe in place. Were we on the road for a week? Month? Years? I couldn't say for sure. When the corporeal sensations washed away, and the memories were pushed somewhere to the back of my mind, I could finally think. Think about the things that I indirectly and unwillingly caused, and what they meant. What lesson have the All-Swords taught.

    I suppose that from that moment forward, I became a heretic. It was simple as that, frankly. The All-Swords seeded doubt in me. Well, hammered doubt in me, to be more precise. You can't really see a town being burned to cinders just because someone figured out how to use load balancing a little more efficiently, and thought he could make the bannisters a little rounder and not start thinking: "is this all a good idea? Is this really what the Gods command?" The answer, to me, was a simple no. The gods could not be so cruel, could they? And if so, why should we worship them?

    After those thoughts, the condition of those two... I loathe to call those two bloated walking tubers humans. From what I knew, the process they have went thought increased their lifespans. Perhaps they knew the truth, and simply wished to postpone their departure towards the gods a little. Perhaps they feared the just judgement awaiting them. Perhaps they feared the unspeakable horrors that we were about to be introduced into after our executions. Either way, they feared death, for why else would one let themselves be malformed into this walking sack of puss?

    I felt the taste of bad dried beef, with too much salt in it, and a smell of campfire. I think I may have heard conversation going around me. All of that seemed irrelevant.
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  8. [​IMG]

    Heavy chains. Frozen body. Bloody feet.

    These three things were the simplest for me to think of in his current situation. At the front of the group of prisoners, I walked slowly, head hanging. There was no sadness in this gesture, however. I was simply thinking. I was thinking of a way to get out of this. There was no possible way I was going to let it end like this. I wasn't going to be fated to the very same death I've been fighting against for years now. There was no way that I was going to let any of these others be subject to that fate, either.

    You know, this isn't looking very good for us, mate.

    The words of my Spirit Companion rang through my head. I rolled my eyes and shook my head. This wasn't the first time he's pestered me about how bleak this looked and it definitely would NOT be the last time either. My eyes trailed up to the darkened sky as the drizzle washed over my slightly numb body. There was some way out of this and I was going to find it.

    You know, you could be more helpful rather than just tell me how bad this looks.

    My gaze trailed to the chains that bound us together for the millionth time. There had to be some way to get out of these chains. These thick, heavy chains had to have a weakness somewhere. While there was no way I could force my way out of this, there had to be a way to break free. Maybe there was a key to them or something. My hopes of a key to these dreadful shackles were shattered when I watched the disgusting monster of a man heft the chains off of where they connected to the saddle of the horse.

    Any other bright ideas, genius?

    I swear on myself I would punch you in the face right now, were it possible.

    I noticed the bride that would lead us into Lodain and into our deaths. If we managed to make it across that bride, there was almost no hope for us. I needed to think of something fast.

    After being forced to assist with setting up camp, we finally got to sit down and got what couldn't be considered food. The stale and dry jerky went down my throat with a hard swallow. A cringe found its way to my face as I tried to keep the abhorrent flavor down. It took a moment to get my stomach to settle, but I soon found myself looking around at the others I was chained to. The first thing to draw my attention was the soft song of someone. It seemed to be something akin to a lullaby or poem or the like and was of a language he wasn't sure many others could understand. Igrish. One of the many languages I had taught myself. It was lovely and I found myself quite entranced in it, but my attention was drawn by someone speaking up.

    Introductions? Now? Couldn't this have happened earlier? Or, y'know, never?

    Ademur just couldn't stop with this negative talk. I figured I might as well speak up, regardless of what Ademur thought of this situation.

    "My name is Lloyl. Lloyl Ether Remane. If you're knowledgeable of the high houses of Lodain, I hail from that House Remane." I said, mainly speaking to the one known as Ronan, as he was the one who introduced himself first. Then I turned my attention to the older gentleman and the woman who was singing in another language. "Your song is lovely." I began in their language. "And I'm deeply sorry you both must be taken from your home. I'm sure it's no consolation, but I won't let us accept this fate."

    With that, I turned back to my own devices. The fire in front of us burned brightly and an idea formed in my brain. I made sure my back was to the beast who made sure to keep watch over use while we rested. Ever so slowly, he scooted part of the chain that held his wrists close together towards the fire.

    Congrats, you finally had a good idea. Maybe.

    I rolled my eyes and grumbled. "You know, you've been quite insufferable since I got captured. Remember that if I die that you lose your connection here." The words were grumbled out loud, but quietly. I was unsure and didn't really care if someone heard. Clearing those thoughts from my mind, I closed my eyes and let out a very slow breath.


    The word left my mouth slowly and quietly, but the fire instantly began to get hotter. While no one would exactly know why, unless they were watching me very closely.

    Yeah, you're right. But I won't apologize. I'll just try to not be such a dick for a while. Don't worry. We'll think of a way out of this.

    Lloyl just nodded as he focused on the flame, increasing the temperature of the fire as much as he could, hoping to find some weakness in the metal.

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  9. Lillian didn't snap out of her wishing thoughts until she heard Lloyl's name. She lifted her head up, stray strands of hair matted to her forehead. Her dark blue eyes began to rove, looking around at the motley crew that made up the prisoners. However, she wasn't really seeing them, the people becoming faceless as her eyes scanned again and again. Even Lloyl's face didn't pop out, everyone just remained featureless. She gathered her thoughts together and cleared her throat. Didn't one of them ask something about an introduction? She might as well introduce herself.

    "Lillian Fairview, of the Fairview household in Lodain," she said, her words sounding foreign to her ears. She was still stunned and numb by everything that had happened, but she could at least introduce herself. She bowed her head and once more lost herself within her thoughts, though this time her ears weren't tuning out everything.
  10. Cadoc had marched this far in a day before, but never barefoot. Sitting by the fire, chained to the others, he scoffed at the paltry meal they'd been given and instead focused on rubbing the tender soles of his feet. The surface layer of the skin was swollen and the ball of his feet had blood blisters forming amid the cuts and scrapes that the wastes had gifted him with on this death march. As large a man he was, standing somewhere around six feet tall and with near three hundred pounds to his bulk, Cadoc was sure he was going to make it to the end of the march. Unlike some of the others he had girth to spare and ample time to lose it all.

    Briefly soothing the bottoms of his feet Cadoc leaned back resting his lower back on a low rising rock. The chains tugged on his wrists and turning over his hands revealed yet more blisters. Cursing the Church of All and everything they'd gifted to the world Cadoc looked around at the other corpses the Church had accursed to walk with him. Everyone had lost weight since the start of the march and their hope seemed to wane with it. The only exception to this loss of weight was the bloated bodies of the All-Seekers, afterall It's hard to maintain your figure when you were fed so many lies.

    A few introductions were sounded out among the ranks. Ronan Kingsomething, then some hoity introduction from a Remane fellow that was coupled with a welcome rush of heat from the flames, and the weeping widow Lillian lastly. Cadoc wondered if anyone else would introduce themselves, but everything was quiet.

    “Not t'say it's a pleasure to meet ye, under these circumstances anyway, but the names Cadoc.” His voice was loud and deep, one you would expect a sergeant from the front line to have after years of barking orders. However, he had difficulty with words and they were slung together quickly and sluggishly showcasing Cadoc's poor education. “And I dunno 'bout you lot, but I think we oughta kill them fat All-Fucks before they kill us.” Cadoc looked around. He'd spoken without any real plan. Had he been armed, and with a party of some 50 or so the task would have been simple. Bound by chains with only scraps of cloth to their name it would be a different task entirely. “Not sayin it'd be easy, but well,” He paused, checking over his shoulder to the two bulbous seekers, “we might be able to stone them shite for brains b'fore they know what's happening.”

    Cadoc turned back to the flames and warmed his hands. It was a great plan. The specifics of which he had no idea of. Somehow though, he was certain, he would pick up a stone and raise it overhead so he could smash those two until their brains spilled over the grey rocks and moss that covered the wastes. Saving that failed at least they ought to try and kill one of them before they were burned alive. The river that marked the entrance to Lodain was so close that any chance at escaping would have to be taken shortly lest the seekers hand them off to a larger troop of corpses to be brought to the pyres.
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  11. Pain wracked his body but had yet to gnaw his mind just yet. The cruelties of the road provided little challenge for one who had once sought the change that had befallen upon their Lady Recreant, but rather he still bore large patches of skin burned by flames and the bruises and cuts left by those who had roughly taken him into custody. Still, he lived, but the gift of life was a cruel one, reminding him of the decision made that had left such a miserable man. Oh, how he wanted to cry and sob with sorrow, to shriek and scream with rage, and to laugh with madness, but he remained stoic and numbed himself of such emotions to save his energy. The man wasn't sure why he would need it, but he nevertheless heeded it.

    How many days had this journey taken them? In all truthfulness, he hadn't bothered keeping track and was left with only vague memories of walking, chains, brief rests, bland jerky, and the occasional bout of sleep. Deep in his thoughts he had been since the incident, having not even bothered to take notice of his "companions", save for the Lady Recreant. Her place in his thoughts was simply a reminder of how cruel the gods had been to him. No, he corrected himself, for it had not bee the gods who had failed him, but rather he had simply failed himself. Perhaps, had he managed to rise above his shortcomings, succeeded all those years ago, that tragedy would have never happened.

    He was roused from introspective thoughts by the familiar tug of his chains as they came to a stop. Night time had arrived, he would briefly note, as evident by the campfire they settled down around. Seating himself on the cold ground, he prepared himself as the aches, pains, and cold crept into his battered form. He had once tried to distract himself with memories of happier times, but he had quickly learned the folly of that. Happier times would only serve to drive him further into his madness and despair. No, it was better to embrace the pain as it was: his punishment. His failures and sins had brought him to this moment, so it was only fair that he should not ignore his just dues. When his body was done trembling, only then did he take in his surroundings, feeling the warmth of the campfire and hearing the vague sounds of conversing from the others. Some of them were introducing themselves, others offered encouragement in the face of their predicament.

    The man had to suppress the overwhelming need to laugh at such thoughts, lest he never stop. Did they fancy themselves as innocent victims, or were they simply delusional enough to be defiant to the bitter end? Needless to say, but he remained silent, soaking in the entertainment their prattling would bring.
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  12. Trying not to submerge herself in ugly thoughts, when the other prisoners started talking, she welcomed the distraction. She looked around, not really knowing the faces of anyone. If they somehow scattered now, and then passed by them on the road, she wouldn't recognise any of them she guessed. Well, maybe the silhouette of the one who always walked in front of her, since that had been her only sight for a long time. She was surprised that people actually replied to the one who spoke first. Looking at him, he guessed why that had been the case. An attractive face could go a long way, even in a situation such like this. People wouldn't admit it, specially men, but humans unconsciously favoured pretty people. She had made use of that herself, embellishing herself subtly through magic to the eyes of others, since she had a hard time making people pay attention to her through words only.

    Ah, but if people were replying, would she seem out of place not doing so? There were a few who didn't seem like they were going to reply, but maybe they were too tired to do so? If she was going to die, then it didn't matter, but holding the slightest hope of her Gods allowing her to survive, then she didn't want to feel like she was out of place. If she became an outcast among outcasts, then what could be said about how the rest of her life would unfold in the future? "M-My name is Ide Mag Shamhr-- Mhr-- Shamhradaháin... I mean, Shamhradháin. Without the extra 'a'." Ah, how embarrassing. Her surname had always been hard to pronounce, but one should know how to pronounce her own surname. She felt her cheeks heating up out of shame. At least this was the warmest she had felt in days.
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  13. Ronan

    Ronan was met with silence from most of the prisoners that he was with, but there were a select few that responded to him, all a little different and entertaining. First was a blonde boy by the name of Lloyl Ether Remane, although maybe he should not think of him as a "boy" he did after all, look around the same age but much shorter. He spoke the name with some pride and went on to explain that yes. The name belonged to the well known House of Remane; although, Ronan could not care any less. He thought to himself "I asked for your name, not your arrogant display of "nobility" you pompous fuck". Although Ronan scolded himself internally a bit, it was way too aggressive of him to assume the boy was being arrogant to him, an obviously superior person. Ronan responded to the boy first.

    "Pleased to meet you..."

    He went silent as he began to observe what in the world the boy was doing, it was a bit odd but he swore he could hear a word being spoken as the boy got closer to the flames.

    "YES, what a pompous ass indeed Ronan. A display of arrogance that should not be forgotten, for a god does not forgive sins!" He said in a rather stern tone

    Ronan jumped a little when he heard the foreign voice inside his head, had he gone mad? After a few seconds of internal panic, he began to recognize the voice, it was the voice from his dream. The figure he had a conversation with.

    "Who are you exactly? Explain what caused the burn on the All Disciple. What connections do you have to the strange power that was bestowed upon me." He thought to himself

    But for the next couple of moments, the voice had gone silent, before Ronan could repeat himself he was met with more responses. Which forced him to speak to others.

    "Lillian Fairview, of the Fairview household in Lodain."

    "Pleased to meet you, Lillian." He said with a bit of a fake sincere tone.

    "Oh dear... what a pitiful damsel. She must be rather depressed from losing her life as a maiden, she wont be of much use to you." said the foreign voice

    Ronan once again asked for its name but no response came. He shook his head and continued to respond to those around him.

    Next was Cadoc, a surprisingly cheerful, and large, man from the looks of it. He did not seem like the most educated individual of the group but his words had impact. He described his outrageous plan with some degree of confidence, but he was the only one at least providing an idea.

    "You are right about that but the task seems a bit more difficult than just talking about it, The rocks here are a bit sharp and jagged, we could do several thing with them. We could make an attempt to stone them, but swinging with these restraints would seem rather difficult ( http://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/AToAAOxywh1S~ku5/s-l400.jpg provided to you by Basil!) if I do say so myself. We could attempt to set fire to their tents with this rather large source of fire that we have, maybe we take our clothing and use it for that. But of course this is all rather unlikely to work. They seem a bit more prepared." He stopped for a moment then continued

    "We could do whatever it is our friend LLOYL here is doing, planning together would surely be better than alone! For now our resources are, these chains, sharp rocks, the fire and our clothing. Any ideas would be appreciated really."

    "Some ideas I believe could help would be maybe setting fire to a tent, heating our shackles and possibly using the anchor to break/split them, or simply strangling them with our chains and our shackles, similar to what Cadoc here said. We should all think as this WILL be our last night alive." He stated

    As for the final person, Ronan looked at her and smiled as she stuttered, it was not to mock it was genuinely friendly. The honesty that the girl inherently had was a bit amusing, as she could not hide her feelings unlike the some of the others here. Including himself. He kept the response short as he didn't really know how she would be useful.

    "Hello Ide, pleased to meet you." he said

    Ronan sighed and thought to himself what a pitiful lot, a rather useless pitiful lot.

    "Maybe a bit of influence shall get those that are not talking to speak! I am Seymour if you wish to know! As for your other questions, you did. You burned the arrogant All Disciple that chose to belittle you, who was foolish enough to think of himself as superior! Your confidence, your grandiose, your conviction is what brought the power to you." Seymour said

    Ronan looked up from the flames and began to speak

    "Although I must say we all look rather pitiful, I've seen wild animals put up more resistance when being hunted, what I see now for the most part is a couple of swine that have turned belly up and accepted their fate to be butchered." Ronan said, mostly directed at those who thought themselves a bit too good to even try to do something about their pathetic fate.

    He wished to see if anyone would actually begin to contribute something after what he has said, he will be listing his ideas and thoughts later after he observes the reactions of those who did not speak. Although he himself seemed a bit tired, he was dealing with the events occuring outside, and his internal conversation with what he believes to be a spirit named Seymour.

    ((I AM SO TIRED. I kept getting side tracked and dosing off while doing this so im just gonna go sleep!))
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  14. [​IMG]

    I was focusing on heating the iron bar between my shackles, only slightly taking note of the people who were speaking around me. "'Tis a pleasure to meet you, as well, Ronan." I said, my words a bit distracted as I left my arms a bit too long of above the fire. I hissed quietly to myself as the heat had spread to where the metal met my wrists and he removed my arms from the fire as the heat from our small, pitiful flame lost heat.

    You'll do none of us good if you lose the use of your hands, dumbass.

    Lloyl shook his head. Really? Thank you. I didn't know that I should remove my hands from fire. You're such a great help, Ademur. I rolled my eyes as I was sure my companion could practically taste the sarcasm that dripped from my inner tone. I let my arms hang close to the ground, still able to feel the heat radiating off of the metal. Knowing it would take time to cool, I looked around to the others that had spoke up.

    The first to speak up was a young woman by the name of Lillian Fairview, who claimed to be part of another household of Lodain. "A mistress of the Fairview household? I do believe our family had some connections, as I often heard word of mother speak fondly about your house. Although, I didn't hear much else, stuffing my nose in books, and all. It pains me to see you in such a position. You don't seem as though you're one to have done any wrong."

    After just introducing herself, she seemed to retreat back into her thoughts. No doubt wishing for the comforts of home, I'm sure. A sad sigh left my lips as I looked at the others.

    My eyes widened a bit as the Cadoc fellow spoke up. He seemed to wish to escape as much as Ademur and I, but he was much more vocal about it.

    Well, now we know at least one of these prisoners are without tact.

    Ademur, unless what you're about to say is detrimental to our coming escape, I ask that you please, and I can't stress the please enough, PLEASE... shut the hell up.

    I hear Ademur's laugh ring through my head. Sorry. It's just so fun to see you get frustrated.

    I roll my eyes and shake my head, a small smile forming on my lips. Honestly, I didn't care if these people thought me crazy. Not like I'd ever see them again after this escape.

    The man, Cadoc, who had spoken seemed to be brawler-ish enough to suggest stoning their captors. Honestly, with my abilities, I think it could actually work. Then again, it depends on all of these people's opinions on Spirit Mages. My mind was ripped away from my internal opinion of that one as another spoke up. She was hesitant and nervous, that much was obvious. The way she stumbled over her name made it even more noticeable her true feelings of their position.

    "'Tis a pleasure to meet you, Ide." My smile was warm and comforting, giving a silent message that her nervousness to speak was okay. She was much like some of the rest of us: Scared. I was scared to death, honestly, but I would try to be strong. It takes a strong mind to think of what to do in the midst of imminent danger. I didn't hear much of what Ronan was saying, as I was attempting to run possible ideas through my head. However, it was Ademur's voice who brought me back to where we were.

    Friends? I hardly think any of us are to that point. Plus, with that attitude, who would want to be his friend anyway?

    A small sigh left my lips. Ademur, please. Remain calm. I need you right now, and you'll be no help if you allow yourself to be clouded with anger or resentment to any of these people. Don't focus on how they say their words, focus on what they say. Inflection upon words means little at this time, what with death staring us in the face. Put it past you.

    After my little speech to Ademur, who only grumbled in response, my attention was drawn to the rest of Ronan's words. His ideas were decent, but none of them would work alone. This couldn't be done by brute force, and magic was going to be a necessity for their escape. I recoiled a bit at his final words.

    Oh look, this one is devoid of tact as well... Ademur spoke bitterly.

    "Ronan, please. Most of us are scared and, especially in times of crises, will not react positively to most things. Especially being called pitiful and compared to swine. Not everyone has indomitable willpower. All I ask is that you, please, think of your words carefully before speaking them." I probably sounded like an arrogant dick, but who really cares? No one was going to get out of this alone, if they got out at all. Besides, there was no way comparing the others to swine was going elicit anyone to want to help him.

    I closed my eyes and let out a slow breath, so as to clear my thoughts before speaking up just slightly so that those in the circle could hear me. "If you wish to know what I was doing, I was attempting one of Ronan's suggestions before he had suggested it. I was attempting to heat the shackles until they were able to be broken. If that worked, I won't know for some time as it takes time for such thick iron to cool. But, I do believe that there may be a chance for us if we do, indeed, put our heads together and think.

    "Since these are such dire times, I think this information shall be necessary: I am a Spirit Mage. Whether our plan involves stoning, fire or both, my magic can be of assistance. Please. If you have an idea, any at all, share it. As of this exact moment, there are no bad ideas, and let the opinions of none other sway that." I finished my little speech and set back on my feet. Part of me reprimanded myself, my public speaker shining through. It was a habit I needed to break, but I felt as though we needed it.

    Ever the public speaker. I swear, you could be talking to someone currently burning at the steak and make them see their death as a good thing.

    A small smile of pride crossed my face at my partner's words. I wasn't exactly sure about that, but it was nice that Ademur was always there to praise my speaking skills, even if he was the only one who thought they were praise-worthy.​
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    The domed ceiling was set with hundreds of stars. The stars were carved from shell and bone, and scattered amongst the blue-glass mosaics. As the walls came up around the dome, there were alcoves set into the wall - and leaning in each alcove was a flat, painted piece of ironbark. The ironbark was painted white, lacquered with eggshells - and a woman was painted on the white surface. All of the women had deep blue eyes, and long white hair, the brushwork on their faces amplified the severity of their expressions. Inset into each of the panels were six pearls atopt each woman's head. There were twelve panels in total, arranged in a circle, to stare at the large table set in the center of the room. The table was made of ironbark as well, sanded and carefully molded ; the natural black wood of the wood gleaming in light provided by the candle-chandelier that hung low across the table's surface. The surface of the table was entirely covered with a large map of Donegal, with small, wooden figurines standing with their carved shields and banners at attention on the painted parchment. Four chairs of the same dark wood were clustered around the table - and each was occupied. All of the chairs were the same, if the inhabitants weren't - but one chair, and one inhabitant was different than all of the others. The towering white chair was inlaid with mother of pearl and mosaic leaves of the same blue glass that made up the sky that a thousand carved stars were scattered upon. Sitting in the chair was a woman, her hair long and white as the painted faces all around her. It hung around her, down to her knees, a silver and moonstone diadem across her thin brows. She was not quite pretty with pox-scarred cheeks and blue eyes that were too closely placed. Her thick lips were painted black with egg and charcoal. She did not look at the four others around the table, her eyes instead lost on the nearest painted woman - stuck on the proud features that peered up from the wood. A cleared throat was the only sound in the room.

    A red-haired woman cleared her throat. She was seated in one of the four chairs, sitting on a large black book to place her at the same height as the others. The other four seated at the table - including that white-haired woman with the black lips and bright crown - stared at her. She was pretty, with dark auburn curls and nut brown skin. Her hair was unfashionably short - something that she knew, and often joked about - but she was otherwise the height of fashion and high society, in both manners and dress. Bracelets of brass bells hung around her wrists, so that even her slightest movement was musical. She smoothed her hand against her bodice, pressing her fingers against the embroidered Gaheris' Gifts on her hips, tracing the many petals of the stylized flowers. She could not have been more than nineteen, and bits of girlish awkwardness showed in her otherwise cultivated manners. She coughed again, politely leaning into her arm to do so. Her many bells jingled. As she coughed, the white-haired woman's dark eyes narrowed on her - and in turn, so did the eyes of her fellow three Quarae. The man to her side - a man with rings of coarse black hair, and shining black skin's nose curled in distaste, and he emitted a small sound of disgust. The red-haired woman gave a small, sheepish grin, stretching her plump red lips. She leaned back in her chair, straightening her back. The white-woman - the Imperatrix Laurentia II - looked away from her, with her nose up in the air - looking unpleasantly like a hog interrupted in the midst of its meal. The Imperatrix's sharp blue eyes narrowed instead on the Myrr man next to her, and her black lips pulled away from her teeth, making her face into a snarl. She spoke then; hard cold words in Lodainic that pounded across the room, and made the chandelier shake; "One of the Decemviri has escaped ; Gale of Many Waters.' Her blue eyes bored into the Myrr, and he was unable to meet her gaze. Instead, he bowed his head.

    The red-haired woman tilted his head towards the Myrr, listening to him speak. His words were honeyed and his voice was soft. His Lodainic was heavily accented, but certainly no worse than her own; "The All-Voice, Speaker for the Gods of All - He of the Unknown Flesh- " As he spoke, the woman could smell an unpleasant perfume emanating around him - the smell of rotting flowers and burning lemongrass, a sickly, sour-sweet smell, "-has heard word of these events from the Summer Sanctum. He wishes to inform her blessed majesty, her excellency - the Bright Flame - that he will be dispatching the All-Swords Jacob and Ezekiel to handle this matter." The red woman felt a shiver go down her spine. She had met All-Sword Jacob only once before - but that was enough. She did not let her fear show on her face, instead, contorting her features into a pout. Quaris Felix continued, and as he spoke the All-Voice's many names and titles, she twisted a ringlet around her finger, idly spinning the curl tighter and tighter. Her eyes were on the Impertrix, who did not look at her. Those blue glass eyes were even more blue, even more glassy, that the blue glass mosaics all around her. The Imperatrix's jaw tightened with every word that Felix said, and her muscles were so tight that the red-haired woman could trace her skull underneath too taut skin. Her black lips were so strained that bits of her makeup began to crack, and the flesh beneath could be seen. She did not look so terrifying, with her makeup flaking. The red-woman glanced towards the Myrr, who was bowing his head, the gold-rings in his black hair clattering against one another; "--Imperatrix, I can report nothing but support within Tir Caredyr and the blessed peoples ; the Myrrs, whom All-Gods favour, speak your name as an angel's kiss." The red-haired woman found herself choking back a laugh, and consequentially, coughing. The jangle of her brass bells forced attention on her once more - and all the eyes in the room were on her once again. She waved a hand languidly as a pardon.

    The Imperatrix snorted, and cast her blinding blue eyes on another. The woman seated directly across from the red woman was her next target. The red-woman sighed. Quaris Ragna opened her mouth - showing that she was missing her front two teeth, and they had been replaced by silver. The story, as the red-woman had heard, her tongue had spoken slander against a powerful general, and the general had smashed her teeth to punish the tongue. Whatever the truth, the red-woman could not imagine Ragna saying anything about anyone. She closed her mouth again, her white brows knitting, creases appearing across her face. Ragna was very thin, with long white hair in a functional braid. She wore exclusively shades of grey and brown, and her eyes were mis-matched - one grey, one blue. On another person, this might have been a pretty, exotic look - but on Ragna, her mismatched eyes made her look perpetually wall-eyed. Ragna folded her hands on the table, pressing her wrists against the top of Eirreen Isle. Her fingernails were ragged, and bits of blood crept from the corners of her cuticles. There was a green discoloration in a band on her index finger, and she tugged at it idly. Her Lodainic was wavery in her throat - along with any word she said. She had a lisp, which marked her out as a Moravian Lodain; "Bright Flame, your kingdoms are quiet. The people are peaceful, and the plague has not crept out of Igris.' Ragna's eyes turned towards the red-woman. The red-woman slunk down in her seat, feeling the spine of the book press against her in protest. She wrinkled her nose, and turned away from Ragna, to stare at one of the painted women, that sat so stern, so proud, so silent in an alcove. Ragna pressed on, her voice drifting out from behind silver teeth. "I should not wish to be the one to say this -- but there's been some trouble with All-Sword Ezekiel, hasn't there?" Her mis-matched eyes drifted towards the Myrr.

    Quaris Felix's dark eyes seemed to grow darker, and his thick brows lowered over his eyes. The red-woman shifted upright in her seat, and leaned over the table, pressing her elbows into South Perth's bay. Her eyes moved between the Imperatrix and Ragna. The Imperatrix's white complexion had erupted with red blots, and the bones in her fingers stood out like jagged lines. Her nose was scrunched upward, and her brows were pointed. She looked down from her nose, from her high-seat towards the Myrr. Her hands clutched at that high-seat's arm rested, small cracks in the paint erupting from her grip. The red-haired woman looked towards wall-eyed Ragna, who stared with one eye towards the Myrr, and the other towards the Imperatrix. Her thin lips twitched, and for a moment, it seemed like she would break out in a silver grin. The silence was heavy - it was a silence that seemed to smother all words. But it could not smother the red-woman's coughing fit. Her bells chimed loudly - and all eyes, mismatched or otherwise - were upon her once again. She smiled prettily, and leaned backwards in her chair, her breeches scraping against the leather cover of the book. She rehearsed the unfamiliar, Lodainic words again. Dicere - conjugates to dice when its a command, and as a singular. Did she want to show respect, by using the formal dicite? No. She didn't feel like it. "Tell us what happened with Ezekiel, Felix." She batted her eyelashes, making her black kohl flake, and she twisted her plump lips into a smile she hoped was sweet. The Perth diagonal from her snorted, and ran a hand through her hair.

    "Our beloved All-Voice, defender of Man, Keeper of the Final Gate --- did not think this was a matter for the Quaestores." The Myrr folded his hands across the top tip of Moravia. His thick fingers had many rings. One of them caught the red-woman's eye. It was gold, with a seal stamped into it. The seal had the nine-pointed star of the All-Faith. But what interested her was the bit of wax crusted on its side. It was not discoloured, or flaking. It looked like it had just come from sealing a letter. The red-woman cocked her head, as Felix continued his sweet speech; "All-Sword Ezekiel, the position given to us by his sainted being - Ezekiel, Knight of a Thousand Stars - has been tainted. Acacia Ezekiel, who held this office with dignity - was in truth rotting it from within. She was of that heinous brand of witch ; the Blood Mage. There was a collective gasp and murmur from around the table. Even the red-woman gasped, despite herself. Her bells jingled as she did. The Imperatrix was flushed red, her black lips peeling back from her gums and teeth in a ferocious snarl. The Perthic woman brushed aside a handful of her dark brown hair, and turned towards Felix, murmuring something to him quietly. It sounded condemning, though it was so muffled that the red woman could not make it out. The room had devolved into muttering and hard looks. Only one person did not gasp, did not murmur, and did not seem surprised at all - and that was the wall-eyed Ragna. She looked towards the Imperatrix, with a self-satisfied smile twisted on her thin lips.

    But all went quiet, when the Imperatrix spoke again, "The All-Voice has appointed a new All-Sword, I trust?" Felix shook his head, making the beads in his long locks clatter against one another. "Not until the Gods' Traitor -- Acacia is dead. She must surrender her divine Light upon a pyre, so that it may be safely passed to another. " The Imperatrix nodded, and her black lips turned into a scowl. Her blue eyes snapped towards the Perthic woman, who sat combing her dark hair, her heavily lashes low on her green eyes. She was a rare beauty, with angular features and soft lips. Her high-cheekbones were spattered with freckles. Like many of the Perths, she had dark blue marks on her skin. Meinir's went vertically down her eyes and cross her lips, but did not mar her beauty. She had a strange sort of smile, an enigmatic smile one that always made her look like she knew something that nobody else knew.The red woman hated looking at her. She folded her hands across her lap, and her green eyes staring at the Lodainic markers for “Perth” on the large map. She leaned her head forward slightly, her dark hair falling infront of those eyes. The red-woman looked away, staring instead at one of the painted woman, who was not as beautiful, and certainly not as real.

    The Perthic woman pursed her lips, giving her face a smirk. Her eyelashes fluttered, and she spoke “The South suffers without your love, Mother Imperatrix, Empress of All-Gods and All-Men.” Meinir turned her gaze towards the Myrr, and her mouth opened slightly, and then closed - it was almost as if she was blowing him a kiss. The red-woman coughed again, but the Perth continued speaking, her heavily accented Lodain simultaneously musical and gargled, “Brigiant has found itself in fine friendship with Ebroyr and Tir-Caredyr,“ She nodded once towards the Myrr, who smiled back at her - his white teeth standing stark against his black skin. One of his teeth was solid gold. “The plague has swept through its Eastern reaches, but has largely left Brigant behind. The farms are recovering.” She waved her hand dismissively, her nails clacking against one another. In the Perthic fashion, her fingernails were supplemented with plates of copper, making them sharp and shiny. “But Gaul and Igris - as I’m sure their Quaris can tell you - “Meinir’s green eyes shot to the red-woman, who in turn was studying the worn face of the panel nearest to her, “-have spread the plague to Perth and Airmyn, and it ravages my people. "Five of the six Isiarllaeths report the plague is running its course through their people.” She tapped her long nails against the table. The sound of the copper against the wood echoed loudly in the small room. “Isirarlles Maredudd the Dark, Lady of the Môragored is dead, as well.” She said this very casually, but the red-woman saw the Imperatrix’s face change. Blood was running freely through her face - and why shouldn’t it? Môragored was the wealthiest province in all of Donegal - wealthier than Tir-Caredyr and Lodain combined. Close access to the sea, famous gold mines, and a special wealth in copper and pearls. The red-woman turned slightly to look at Meinir. She had that same smirk on her face. She did not care that Maredudd was dead. The red-woman grimaced, and looked away again as the Perth began speaking again; “Dead to plague - her eldest child, Merfyn will succeed her, when he is found. The boy suffers from a curse - or so the smallfolk say. Her daughter Mabyn is ruling in his stead.” The Imperatrix's blotchy face loomed above them, and she said nothing, only cocked a brow. Her black lips were smeared on her face. Unbidden, but knowing - the Perthic Quaris continued; “Merfyn will not be found, and Mabyn is a sweet, simple girl. Lady of Bright Flames and Cleanser of Sin - you could win Môragored’s wealth through your brother’s marriage to Mabyn.” The red-woman coughed again, her bells jingling. The Imperatrix’s brother was all wrong, and shouldn’t be marrying anyone. As far as she knew, Lucain was still locked up in a tower. The Imperatrix said nothing, in response to this advice, she merely turned her white head, and placed her blue gaze upon the red-woman, staring through her with her dagger eyes, her smeared lips curling.

    The red-woman coughed. Her bells jingled, as she ran a hand through her short curls. She went through the conjugations in her head, and watched her fellow Quarae stare at her. Meinir and Ragna were smiling at her, but their smiles were different. Meinir’s smile was a victor’s smile, proud of herself and piteous of her - but Ragna’s smile seemed genuine, lips pulled back to show her silver front teeth. The Myrr, Felix, did not smile - his dark eyes bored through her as surely as the Impertrix’s own eyes did. His mouth was a terse line. The red-woman cleared her throat, and began her report; “There’s no mincing words about it, Bright-Flame. Gaul is in disorder. The Witch-Hunt has thrown chaos into the Gaulmen’s own practices, and villages are quick to turn on one another. Civil war between the All-Followers and the heathens seems inevitable. The interior of Gaul is almost entirely heathen still.” She wrinkled her nose, “About the only thing keeping them from starting an all-out war is the plague. It hit Gaul hard.” The red-woman tugged idly at a curl of her hair. She tried not to notice that the Perthic woman’s smile - and how it stretched wide and ruthless across her face. She simply continued on; “Igris is ready to rebel again, under the banner of Eril Skye; but it will surely fail.” She swallowed hard, “They simply dont have the men within Igris, especially not with the Knights of the White Banner there — they’ll be slaughtered.” The red-woman looked towards the Imperatrix. There was a light in her blue eyes, something shinning and malicious. A smile was stretching across her charcoal lips.

    “Let them be slaughtered,” The Imperatrix said, her voice cold and her syllables strong. The red-woman’s blood ran cold, and her fingers curled against the map on the table. “Let them be slaughtered,” The imperatrix repeated, this time - her sharp words seemed to be directed at the red-woman. A shiver ran down the back of her neck. She nodded slowly, but inside she was screaming. “Give word to the Banner Knights to assassinate Skye. Give his province to Lucain by Imperial decree; marry him off to that Perthic princess,” The Imperatrix flicked her fingers towards Meinir, “Have your pet Recreant find Merfyn, and kill him.” The Perthic woman bowed her head, and murmured some pleasentries, her copper fingers lacing around one another. Laurentia’s eyes snapped towards Felix, “Ensure your All-Sword reaches her pyre. Burn her.” Felix placed a hand on his chest, curling his fingers inwards. Laurentia’s white brows rose on her face, her nostrils flaring. She rose from her high-seat. The red woman - and the others - clambered to their feet, standing at attention as she walked from the room, her skirts trailing behind her, white hair drifting out as a cloud behind her. They all bowed to her, watching her leave, her words seeming to hang in the air after she left. Let them be slaughtered. Burn her.

    When Laurentia II, called the Bright Flame, left the room, the red-woman looked towards her fellow Qurare, a smile stretching across her face. She smoothed out her doublet, and shook her curly head. “They don’t call this the age of shite for nothing, do they?” She chuckled at her own joke. Nobody else laughed. The Quaestores was over.


    Night had truly fallen over Moravia , with the black night making the jagged mountains look like gauzy shadows. The few withered trees on the moorland rattled in a breeze , their branches clattering together. A few lonely heather bushes clustered on the hills exposed their roots as the wind beat against them, churning against their leaves and blossoms, sending petals into the night.The breeze swept down the grass , blowing back the fire that the prisoners huddled around. The smell of burning iron- an ozone scented, metallic tasting smell - rose from the fire. The wind passed, and the fire blew back : scattering hot embers up against the night sky like its own constellation. Quiet songs and quiet talk came from the campsite , and the Recreant watched it all with bright orange eyes. She scraped her whetstone against the edge of her blade - a shrieking sound that echoed through hill and dale. Her nose was wrinkles , and her lips pulled back, revealing that her teeth had been filed into points. Bits of the hard jerky that had been their only source of nourishment on the road was stuck in between her teeth, strings of gristle connecting her incisors and canines. She lifted herself up , using her massive long sword as a support, digging its tip into the heath. She walked towards the camp, holding her sword loosely in her fingers , her leather greaves creaking as she walked. In the night , her orange eyes seemed like her own little fire, burning brightly and twinkling through the night. She stood before the prisoners, looking down her nose at them, sword in hand.

    She spoke the first words she had ever said in the company of the prisoners; "It will be cold." Her common was perfect , but strange. The Recreant did not seem to have much inflection in her voice , a monotone sounds that didn't seem masculine or feminine. She turned her head away from the prisoners and walked towards her horse. She bowed her head as she pawed through saddlebags. There was an unpleasant sound as she did so : a squelching , sticky , organic sound. A frown spread deeper across her face , etching lines around her fiery eyes. When her hands came up from her bags , they were stained red to the elbow , and dripping. When she returned to the prisoners , her dripping hands were filled with fabric; folded blankets made of coarse Moravian wool. Wherever her hands touched , the fabric was stained a deep red, like spilled wine. She tossed them at the prisoners feet , flicking blood on their faces and feet. It was warm. From so close, from the breeze that has blown her cloak back, it was clear to see what was around her waist. She had several glass vials attached to her hips, held tight with strings ; a water skin that dripped ; a short and sharp hunting knife in a sheathe ; and a hatchet. When the wind died down, she pulled her cloak around her - fur trimmed , oiled to waterproof - and clutched it to her body. She sat down across from the prisoners, holding her hands out tot he fire.

    Over her shoulder, there was a tiny twinkle of an orange light in the dark - nestled on the black shadow of a hill. It was moving towards them - slowly, its movement only notable by the slightest flicker. The Recreant did not notice. She flexed her fingers by the fireside. Her hands were as scarred as her face, and she was missing her left pinkie - just a short stump on her hand. They were covered with blood. The fire swelled in front of her eyes, and her nostrils twitched. The blood on her hands began to congeal into a sticky, jelly film. When she was this close to the prisoners, and there was no horse alongside her, no Seekers - her smell was clear. She smelled like carrion, like rotting meat and warm beer. A smile spread across her face, the firelight catching the gleam of her yellowed teeth. She spoke again, the most she’d ever spoken. “I could smell you trying to escape. I could smell your skin burning.” She laughed then, a short, barking laugh. She reached around the flame, to jangle the chains around the prisoners.

    The rattle of the chain was loud, echoing through the moorland. Her lips stretched widely, the scar tissue on the Lady Recreants lips pale and straining. “This is cold iron. You cannot escape iron and salt.” She tugged hard on the iron chain, yanking the prisoners closer to the fire. Her expression changed. The fire-leapt across her face, casting a pale orange light across her sharp features. Her bright eyes dimmed in the light, becoming cold gems in her face. “You will burn tomorrow. Lacus Acre is only a days ride away.” Her lips twisted, and dimples appeared in her face, looking more like crags in her face. But there was a gleam in her eye, a wistfulness, “You’ll see The Bright Flame before you die. She likes to give you one last pretty sight.” There was no mirth in her voice, but the Recreant laughed again, the same, mad-dog laugh. She pulled herself up, with the clanking of leather. “Sleep well. It will be your last sleep. Hide yourself in your Duinnobann, and know that it will not help you.” Her voice was monotone, not condemning, not mocking, just flat and liltless. She slipped away from the campfire, and moved towards her own tent -the one she had never been in before ; the tent covered in many scattered nine-pointed stars ; the sewn Nine-Pointed Star of the Gods of All. She disappeared within it, with her sword and whetstone in tow.
    The light in the darkness - the pinprick of orange light seemed to be getting closer and closer, but its source was unknown - it was still far off. The runed rock at the edge of the Moravian bluff stood silent on the hill, the carved, swirling runes across its body a blur in the night. The wind howled across the moors. Although the prisoners on the hill could not know his thoughts - although he was hundreds of miles of way; a line of poetry sprung to the mind of Gale of Many Waters, from the Lodainc poet Avitus; “Death whispers in my ears. She tells me; “Live. Live, because I am coming.”

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  16. "Come and let me see... Them, outside our holy realm... For I will not let them come closer. Come and let me be yours... Come for me and take what's left..."

    A crimson glimmer swallowed the room. A set of candles, placed on top of a wooden table as the lone source of light, flickered in the center of the room. Shadows danced across the room. A woman kneeling close by the candles murmured, her unhealthy face illuminated. Like a long-abandoned but intricately built shrine, the woman's face screamed about its long-forgotten beauty; In its place a deprived mask. Her unusually modest brown hair was so badly dishevelled that even the braid it was in failed to give it a feel of fashion or control. Her plump lips and the pouty mouth had become a dried out facade for rotting teeth.

    A juvenile cackle took the whispers's place, as a subtle sound threatened to be drowned out by her giggles--a sound similar to that of a finger running through mud. Eventually, the sound vanished on its own, but was replaced by a new on.

    Drip. Drip.

    The woman's chest rose and fell a little faster than before, her breathing becoming louder. The few droplets became a small shower of red, so close to the flames that they wavered. Mixing with the hot runny wax, the stench penetrated her nose and made her turn away a bit. The serene scenery was broken up by a harsh but brief noise; Metal hitting something solid. The knife she had held in her righ hand a second ago dropped to the floor. The woman's sickly pale left arm fell down her side, as if boneless, the stream of blood contining to flow.

    "I hear the beasts. I hear them scream. I'll kill them every time I dream..."

    The sing-sang was interrupted by the cannon-like sound of the room's heavy door being kicked in.

    "All-Sword Ezekiel! You're being apprehended for your heresy and for practicing Blood Magic! Until further notice, your privileges will be removed. A trial will be held to decid..." His voice seemed to wash over her without affect, merely forcing her to turn down her voice's volume. She murmured as the guard continued her monologue about the rights and Acacia's violations.

    "But when I wake, I hear them still, they're all out of my sight. A pointless fight, devoid of light, the Gods must have their will..."

    The All-Sword licked the corner of her mouth, her lips seamed with sulci. Her blank eyes never met the guard's, but her bloody arm would soon be connected with her right one, as her wrists were put in chains.

    "The lovely shine, I see it still, it's burned into my lids..."


    "Can we have some decorum, please!"

    The crowd fell silent, but their gazes became hungrier. How scandalous to see a respected and trusted champion of the faith in this position, now a feast to the common gasbag's delight, trialed for her heretic ways. Acacia Ezekiel did not move throughout the process. Her shoulders hanging and her back arched, she seemed void of control. Her orange eyes, despite the eerie glow typical of All-Swords, seemed dull in the dust-riddled light. A mere shell, waiting to be moved.


    Time seemed to stretch next to the constant rattling of metal and tin cups, and leathery clothes squaking subtly with every motion. Four guards for a sole captor was far from standard practice, but it seemed the court was unwilling to take any chances. Wrapped in chains and strapped to the saddle, Acacia bobbed back and forth ever so slightly as her guards' mounds surrounded hers, each of them holding one set of chains. Their formation and the chains created a cross with Acacia at its center. The man leading the group up front made no attempts to hide his occasional jerks on the chain, causing the woman to chafe her skin against the rough iron. And so this sad convoy whispered and ached its path towards certain death, a trail of finality following them. The flame that hovered above them only accentuated the gloomy dark that seemed to not only swallow, but emit from every last individual.
    #16 alaska, Aug 12, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2016
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  17. Ide nodded her head in acknowledgement when some of the other prisoners greeted her back. The one who had started this chat sounded somewhat impersonal even if he seemed to be trying to be courteous. The first impression this Lloyl gave her was that of a much more gentle man. Even in their dire situation, he still had a warm smile to offer. She frowned when Ronan, who was the first to speak, went from being completely neutral to her to coming off as a huge asshole.

    Her knee jerk reaction was to reply heatedly, but right before she could do so, Lloyl started talking. She was too used to being low profile to even try to speak over another person. She titled her head in interest when the kind man informed them he was a spirit mage. Only then she dare to speak up, looking directly into Ronan's eyes. Her hands trembled, and she didn't know if it was out of shyness, or because she was so cold. 'W-w-who are you to say we haven't put up r-resistance? D-Do you even fucking know what all of us went through t-trying not to get caught? I-I'm sure I'm not the only one--'

    She stopped talking suddenly, as she saw the Recreant standing up. She gritted her teeth as she swore in her thoughts, wondering if it had been her heated speaking which had sparked the woman's interest, since the Recreant was walking towards them now. At least for the moment, now they couldn't discuss any plans or ideas. Ide followed the Recreant's movements, not replying to her. The sudden movement of her throwing the fabrics at the prisoners made Ide flinch, both out of fear of being attacked, and reflex of feeling some droplets of blood landing on her face. She looked at the Recreant like a scared pup, and hesitantly reached one of the fabrics to wrap herself in it.

    She remained still, always observing the Recreant closely, as if not looking at her would be such a sign of disrespect that it would mean an earlier death at her hand. Because of this, she noticed a small orange light in the distance, over the woman's shoulder. She instantly looked back at the Recreant, but even if she tried not to, she couldn't help but lower her gaze in shame when the woman told them she knew they were trying to escape.

    She kept her head bowed the whole time, trying not to let the Recreant's words get to her. She was battling her own doubts on her faith on her own, and would not be able to stand another person adding more reasons for her to believe her Gods had abandoned her without breaking. Only after the Recreant went away she raised her gaze again, and looked for the light in the distance. 'I wonder what that is. I thought it was another campfire, but the light seems to be moving. Even more prisoners?' She told to anyone who would want to hear. Any rage he had in her before had faded, sounding far more defeated now.
    #17 Isho13, Aug 13, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2016
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  18. Despite the fact that he had closed his eyes while he laid down, Wolfe listened silently and intently to the conversations whirling around the campfire. He still thought that they were an awfully talkative bunch but he assumed it was only natural. The easiest way to face death is trying to convince yourself that it isn't inevitable. Everyone dies, the valley taught him that much. But maybe it wouldn't be tomorrow. Cadoc's suggestion was a good one in his mind. Either they get lucky and kill one of those damned abominations or they die on one of their blades out in the wilderness rather than on a pyre for entertainment. He sat up as he pondered the thought, his light blue gaze matching the voices he previously heard with their faces.

    His eyebrows narrowed as Ronan addressed the fact that a decent portion of them had seemingly accepted their fate. He spoke like he was all seeing, that he knew what everyone - what he - had to go through in order to end up in this position and that it wasn't enough to excuse the lack of fantasizing about escape. To liken him to a damned swine ready to be served was incredibly confident if not foolish move. If the chains hadn't restricted him Wolfe would've shown the younger man just how much a swine a lifetime of warfare had made him. Wolfe growled underneath his breath and intended to speak up but was pleasantly surprised to see the young timid woman, Ide, say the words held on his own tongue. Good girl, he muttered impressed to see her show some backbone.

    But like Ide, Wolfe's attention was redirected when the revolting Recreant approached the circle of prisoners. As she crouched down next to the fire with them the man held back a gag at her equally disgusting smell. Their kind smelled like death just as much as they brought it to the common people. It took all his willpower from spitting on her face due to how close she was in proximity to him. But he refrained as he did not wish for certain prisoners to get caught in the retribution. Wolfe wouldn't have minded if Ronan had accidentally got caught in the theoretical crossfire but alas he was on the opposite side of the fire. So Wolfe simply glared with intensity throughout her revelation. His icy blue gazed followed the creature all the way to her tent before turning back to the group. She had known the entire time that escape was being whispered among their captives. Of course she would their kind sleep with their eyes open just so they don't miss a damn thing.. he thought cynically to himself before looking up and seeing the light that Ide pointed out.

    "I don't know but Cadoc's plan is still a possibility. I'd rather die fighting here then presented on the stake for damned peasants and nobles alike to see." Wolfe spoke grimly, his words not addressing anyone specifically. He thought what it would be like to be burned alive in the middle of the the nation he worked so hard to combat his whole life. He wondered if Irelith would attend his burning as she was the one after all who took a dagger to his own heart. His eyebrows narrowed even further as his frown was buried in his overgrown blood-stained beard.
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  19. It was quite apparent that desperation clawed at their minds for this group could only produce two means of escape: burning the chains that bound them or attacking the escorts. He was no blacksmith, but he had been to plenty and it was fairly obvious that the flames use to mold and shape shackles and chains such as these were much stronger than anything this campfire -a miracle itself in such an environment- could produce. As for the latter, well, it was quite clear that between the irons that restricted their movement and being kept in a state of near exhaustion that they would pose little threat unless the All favored them. Of course, if that were the case, none of them would be here right now.

    How he wanted to plead with them to accept their fates and make peace with it, but he knew that none of them would listen. Perhaps he was the only guilty one among them, deluding himself into thinking the others had just as much blood on their hands? No! That thought alone was enough to convince him that his mind was beginning to degrade. Yes, surely that was it. Even if he had taken the words spoken by the All-Fathers and Mothers throughout his life with a grain of salt, surely there was enough truth to it all to justify that which they must go through.

    Ignoring the blood that stained the blanket, he wrapped himself in one, caring not if the others looked upon him condescendingly. If he was to die tomorrow, he wanted to enjoy the last bits of comfort he could, all the while ignorant of the light in the distance that had perplexed the others.
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  20. Ronan was rather entertained by the responses he got to his remark, what a sensitive crowd indeed he thought to himself. He was only saying the truth really, but he was glad that it at least stirred some responses from the others. Although he began to slightly doubt himself in the process, it would be common for any lad of his age to become self conscious after saying something the majority would disagree with or be outraged by... this side of him had not been tamed yet. It was the side of a normal boy, a weaker him, where he would doubt himself, a side that asked him if he truly was as great as he was. But before he could delve into his own thoughts of shame, Seymour spoke out.

    "Oh how pathetic, they're trying to hide their pitiful behavior by saying that you're too harsh? Swine is a perfectly accurate description of them! Maybe not a "perfect" comparison, swine seem a little smarter, at least they try to resist when being butchered. A pitiful lot, what you said was accurate!" Seymour stated

    After he listened to what Seymour said, Ronan let out a rather patronizing smile quickly, he was going to respond but was interrupted by the Recreant suddenly showing up. She spoke to them briefly, she spoke of how she was aware of their attempts to escape, and how "futile" they would be. She tossed them what seemingly looked like what they would eat then. After she left he paid closer attention to the light that approached them from afar. His initial thought was also that it could be more prisoners... But why would they meet up so late into the journey? Why not have them group with a different batch of "heretics". He stayed alert and aware of the light.

    He thought back to Lloyl's words and how annoying they were, the boy was starting to become an eyesore for Ronan. However what kept him interested was the fact that he stated that he was a mage himself, and from what Ronan had heard and read about, he himself was also a "Spirit Mage". Having dreams of the Duinnobann and the sudden voice he could hear in his thoughts, although Seymour for now has only really had a one sided conversation with Ronan. Ronan would eventually speak to the spirit and figure out what he knew. For now, Lloyl suddenly became a rather important person to be around as he would be of use to Ronan and his quest for power, as well as knowledge of his new powers.

    He first responded to what the shy girl said

    "Could be prisoners, but it would be odd to see them come all the way out here just to deliver a handful of prisoners. They could have just made a different group and gone on a more efficient trip. It is still a possibility, but I hope it is something a bit more exciting than that, something more useful to our current situation." he said

    It would remain a mystery what it is for now, for all they knew it could be nothing at all. A mere coincidence that someone might cross paths with them.

    He then responded to what the bigger fellow said about Cadoc's plan

    "His plan those seem to be the best one at the moment, as well as the most desperate. Seems unlikely that we could win against fully armored guards with sharp stones but if it comes down to that, fighting doesn't seem as bad as burning at the pyre."

    He looked down at the bloody contents that the Recreant had tossed at them, blood was splattered across his right cheek, he didn't touch it yet but eventually he may.

    "Lloyl, you said you were a spirit mage? How interesting!" he said genuinely

    Ronan managed to scoot over to him to ask him

    "Do you also hear a voice in your head? As well as have strange dreams?" he whispered curiously.

    The questions were rather mundane really, but they were to start conversation. He wanted answers and Lloyl seemed to be the only source he had for these. Although as annoying as it may seem, befriending him may not be a bad idea. He kept his eye on the light every now and then and looked back to where the Recreant and her lackey sat, a boulder with maybe something carved in it? He wondered if there was anything about the boulder.
    #20 Wizzy The Wizard, Aug 18, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2016
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