Even though Sera had agreed with her, Alanna still did not understand one thing. Why was the fact that the meeting would be interesting meant that it would be unfortunate? But it was not a big enough matter to be extremely concerned about, for it was not a matter of life or death.
As Sera walked, Alanna kept taking quick glances at Sera. Taking quick glances at Sera was not a cause for alarm, it was merely a habit instilled in Alanna as a royal guard. It allowed Alanna to gauge the mood of the person she was guarding. Sometimes, moods would positive or negatively impact the protection effort, so it was a good idea to understand the mood beforehand.
On the outside, Sera appeared calm and neutral. But it also felt as if Sera was thinking about something, thoughts clashing against each other in the head. Alanna would not have been surprised if Sera had been thinking about her conversation with Charlotte, since Sera had found out something quite interesting there. But Alanna knew that there was a possibility of being wrong, for Sera could be thinking about her various tasks in running the kingdom.
Walking, the two of them had run into another pair. This pair consisted of the prince and his bodyguard, Prince Killiam and Guy. Alanna did not concern herself with what either one of them did, for it was not really her duty to guard any one of them. All she really knew about them was the talk around the castle, but that talk was not always true.
One had to be careful in distinguishing the truth, from things which appeared to be true.
Prince Killian did have one habit which annoyed Sera, and that was his sarcasm. It definitely drove a wedge between the two of them relation wise, despite the fact that they were brother and sister.
Usually Sera would not grace his sarcasm with an answer, it was the type of sarcasm where it was better to ignore it than to give credence that it existed. But after dealing with the new information she had learned from Charlotte, it seemed as if Sera was not thinking about keeping silence. Instead, Sera replied.
Looking over at Killian, it was quite evident that it was not the reaction he had hoped for. His jaw shifted around, obviously unsettled by Sera's slightly venomous, at least in his eyes, words. That was what he got for trying to be annoying.
And then into this unsettled mess stepped the youngest of them all, Princess Ikana. Alanna had first noticed the smell of baked goods wafting through the hallways of all a sudden, followed by the sound of a very familiar and unsure voice.
Both Sera and Killian had noticed Ikana, but it was Killian who had gone for a more decisive and hands on approach. Killian went of on a responsibility rant, which would have ended who knows when.
But something did interrupt the responsibility rant. And it happened at the same exact time.
All of a sudden, Alanna could feel a warm feeling popping up on her chest. A quick glance downwards and she saw a red symbol on her chest. Trying to connect to her Ark, Alanna found it mentally blocked. Killian was experiencing the same thing, so was Ikana, Sera, and all the other Ark riders present in the room.
Whatever Killian was doing, Alanna was not paying attention. Her attention was on Sera, who was providing instructions, which were wispered, to her crowd. Sera singled out Alanna, quietly telling her what to do.
Well, this was quite interesting. Alanna glanced at Ikana before turning to face Sera again, nodding her head to tell Sera that she understood her instructions.
Right after that, it was time to follow all three to wherever they had been told to go. Alanna had not heard what the king had said to either Killian, Sera, or Ikana since she wasn't the king's child. She had heard the message sent out to the Ark riders, but being Sera's guard took precedent over that.
While walking, Alanna had walked up to Ikana and took a look at the pastries. [+purple "Mind if I have one?"]
Upon hearing the sound of the alarm, Rose had immediately ran out to see what the alarm was about. She had seen the red sphere slowly envelop the entire city. She had also noticed that many of the Ark riders had panicked, as if they were not able to access their Arks. Was it possibile that this red wall was some sort of jamming device?
Making her way up to the top of the wall, she arrived there without a loss of breath. All the townsfolk were being evacuated by the soldiers, an endless stream of people.
At that moment, Anu had walked up. He had nodded to her, and she had returned the gesture. She had heard stories of the man, but she respected Anu and the way he did his job.
Rose walked up close to Anu, stopping until she was two paces off and turning to face the same way he was facing. [+red "Whatever it is, we'll fight it off."] She said this with an iron conviction.
[font "Lucida Fax" Seraphina did not react the way Killian had hoped she would. He was expecting her to shout at him or to wag a finger. He didn’t receive anything of the sort. Instead, she retreated further and further into her seething loathing of his presence. [b [#496be4 “I know you’re not good at it, but do t least try to act like you belong here.”]] The venom of her words cut deep. Killian’s jaw shifted distastefully as his eyes followed his sister for a moment. He looked back toward Guy as though to say, “she’s being unreasonable”. The actuality of her cold demeanor could honestly be seen in his persistent annoyance, but Killian didn’t see it that way.]
[font "Lucida Fax" The Prince’s attention was caught by a small figure standing in the middle of the hall to his left. Small female with brightly white hair, striking blue eyes like his, and an armful of pastries. Killian immediately crossed his arms and raised his brows at his youngest sister. [b [#000080 “Really? Ikana? Pastries? Honestly, you’ll get the sugar sickness if you keep filling up on sweets. Where is your guard detail? Please tell me that they are not tied to a tree again.”]] He went to lecture his sister about the responsibilities of healthy foods and that wandering the city alone was dangerous. Nothing that Ikana hadn’t heard from her brother before. At this point, Killian questioned if he was even speaking to a person; it felt more like nagging to a brick wall.]
[font "Lucida Fax" While in the middle of his teaching moment, Killian suddenly stopped mid-sentence. He could see the glowing red circle on his baby sister’s chest appear suddenly. [b [#000080 “Ikana, wha-“]] He felt a burning on his own chest. He checked underneath his neck adornment and his shirt to see the same symbol. His eyes darted to the other Ark Riders present near him. All had the same confused expression. [i It’s targeting the Ark Riders. I can’t feel my Ark anymore. What’s to bet that they can’t either.] Killian calculated. He ran to the nearest window and peered outside at the kingdom below. A large unidentified sphere loomed ominously over the capital. Killian assumed that it was the source of this magically blockade. The evacuation alarm could be heard through the solid walls of the castle. The people were being ushered inside to safety. People were panicking and rushing to the Noble Quarter. [i This isn’t good.]]
[font "Lucida Fax" Killian turned to Ikana and Guy. He heard the King’s voice echo in his mind, and, by seeing the expressions on everyone else’s face, they could hear him too. The Riders were ordered to assist the civilians at the Quarter Gates. Killian looked at Guy and gave him a nod. He placed a hand on Ikana’s shoulder as comfort. The burning sensation still lingering on his chest. [b “Killian, Ikana, and Seraphina. Report to the War Room, now.”] The Prince could hear the stoic tone in the King’s voice. This was no joking manner. There was a looming invasion outside.]
[font "Lucida Fax" [b [#000080 “Come on. Let’s go.”]] He quickly guided Ikana with a gentle push on her back toward the War Room. He asked one of the servants to fetch his staff for him. Rushing into the large chamber, Killian saw his father up on the platform with his eyes staring down at the floor view. Killian approached one of the technicians at the battle computers. He quickly glanced at the pictures of the large sphere. [b [#000080 “Father, what’s happening? Is this Dakunai retaliating?”]] Killian asked trying to mirror the stoicism of King. No need to panic just yet.]
Anu had felt all the commander's eyes on him, but what it was that drew their attention to him was out of his concern, at least for the time being after all they were being informed of what was going to happen. The King had declined the message days ago, and everyone knew about it, the king Anu felt was going to give some assignments about the potential war to come between the two kingdoms. It was then however his eyes had caught out the window a glimps of something flying over the wall to hover over the middle of the town.
It was then the sharp pain had hit. Grabbing his chest he knew what it was now that had drawn all the other commander's attention it was the red ring upon the center of his chest. While clothing would have hid it Anu did not hold "clothing" in a sense over his chest accept the top where his neck base hung down. His Ark! why could he not feel it. it was almost like someone or something had put a wall between him and his Ark. That was the difference between Anu and the other commanders, none of them were Ark riders and it was unheard of that those outside of Royal Guards or specially placed ones were Ark riders.
Hearing the king's command however for the Ark riders to go to the closest entrance of the Noble quarters Anu looked to the other commanders and put his hands on the table. [#e18914 "It seems my meeting time is cut a little short."] before the lord Mattius could say anything Anu raised his hand holding the silence long enough for him to dip out the doors behind him.
Reaching outside the male looked up to see the red wall that seemed to be see through around the entire kingdom like a third wall. He had taken no time to get to the wall around the noble's quarter's southern wall and took the steps up two and three at a time. Reaching the top it seemed the citizens were being evacuated followed by soldiers that were coming in from the walls around the commons. Seeing the bright red hair he looked to his left, however it was not Alanna like he had thought, but instead it was Rose the mentor to most ark riders and soldiers alike.
A deadly foe and a blade the kingdom has strived on. Nodding to her he just looked out across the city that was in an agonizingly slow process, but more importantly out across the wall to wait for the cretan that had put the thing over their heads.
[b “Unfortunately I do believe that you are correct about that Alanna,”] Sera said before leading the way to the meeting.
The moment she had taken to compose herself allowed her to maintain an inscrutably neutral expression, but the thoughts about the event still swirled inside her. While Sera was willing to trust Charlotte's judgment about leaving things well enough alone; she was not looking forward to having a meeting with the very people spreading such an obscene rumor about her and a prostitute. She had nothing against prostitution, but being the responsible older princess of the kingdom meant that she would rather not be associated with it in this fashion. However the thought of it brought a question to mind as to how she had not encountered the rumor earlier given the number of guards she interacted with on a daily basis. Obviously they would not just come out and mention it to her, but to avoid sneaking any glances at her made her wonder.
The most logical explanation she could come up with was that they avoided eyeing her for fear of her brother or her father's response. She attributed it to a benefit of having a strong father, and a begrudgingly admitted benefit of having an older brother who was known to look out for his sisters. Of course just when she was thinking something nice about him; he and his handsome bodyguard had to make their appearance. Despite the thoughts swirling in her head she was confident that even her brother would not see it from her blank expression.
Unfortunately just like always he was quick to use his so-called wit when greeting her. If they were alone she would have had a biting reply for him as all of her thoughts turned to venom, but given their public positioning she had to maintain her face. Under normal circumstances she could get past it with just a roll of her eyes and carry on with her day, but given what she had dealt with so far she found her hold on her tongue quite loose. [b “I know you're not good at it, but do at least try to act like you belong here,”] Sera whispered dismissively to him as she stepped past him towards the chamber doors.
If not for the slightly muffled greeting Sera probably would have made it into the chambers without even noticing her younger sister given her positioning. The greeting though made sure that she caught sight of her in her peripheral vision. A sight that would normally draw a small laugh given the pile of possibly pilfered pastries in Ikana's arms, but Sera only managed to give a small nod of her head after Killian had done his best to ruin her mood.
Sera's hand stopped at the door though as she sensed the sudden severance of her connection to El-Machina. She wasted no time in her response by quickly removing her cape and handing it to one of her attendants while providing some whispered instructions to her staff and most importantly to Alanna. Shortly after her attendants ran off towards her room and the alarms were sounded; followed by an announcement from the king regarding evacuation protocols.
[b “You heard father, we have to get to the war room,”] Sera said as she started marching off.
Azure looks at the drink set before him. The questions the woman asked him were legitimate. Not to mention, based on what he has seen, his clothes are out of place with the average style in Radinata. However, simply answering the woman without weary was not in the cards for Azure. The woman was not aware, but the moment she asked this questions, the conversation became a chess game for Azure.
He takes a deep breath and sighs as he takes hold of the amber colored drink and downs the entire thing like a shot.
"Woah there kid. That's not something you drink as a shot," The Barkeep says as he watches Azure.
Azure chuckles and raises his hand to signal one more, [b "Well, since I have a drinking companion for the first time in a while, I almost forgot that downing the first drink I get at a tavern is a bit of a tradition. One I have continued for an old friend."] Azure looks at the amber colored liquid in his glass. He takes his time to enjoy the second drink as he takes a small sip.
[b "Got today's paper here?"] Azure asks as he looks at the barkeep. The man tosses a paper on the bar and Azure picks up the paper. [i 'Info I am looking for is on the front page,'] Azure thinks to himself as he looks at the leading story. The story is labeled 'Was the King right to refuse Dakunai Kingdom's Offer?' [i 'So he refused it?'] Azure continues to read as he skims the words.
[b "Hey barkeep, what do you think about the King refusing Dakunai's offer?"] Azure asks as he closes his right eye and takes a sip from his drink.
"The offer that came with more jobs and resources we would know what to do with?" The barkeep asks as he cleans a glass behind the bar. "Hard to say."
[b "Why's that?"]
"Well, King Radius has always done what he believes is best for the Kingdom and its people," The barkeeper says as he puts the newly cleaned glass down. "He hasn't failed us as a King for the past twenty years, so I don't see any reason to question his judgement now."
[i 'Twenty years? That's a nice record.'] Azure thinks to himself as he gets lost in thought as he enjoys the drink in his hand. [i 'According to this paper, the deal was refused four days ago. That means I have three days to find Barkus and get an audience with the King.']
Azure is snapped out of his thoughts as his drinking buddy is quietly, but impatiently waiting for his answer. [i 'Seeing the King is my objective, but I can't outright request it. A mercenary wanting to see a King is suspicious in itself, and past experiences dictate my odds aren't good for her to just simply comply with my request,'] Azure sighs a bit.
[b "Is it so hard to believe that someone is here to visit the beautiful Kingdom of Radinata?"] Azure says as he reaches back and draws his sword forward. The entire tavern raises their guard. He shows the sword up to the Ark Rider, and unwraps one strap of the wrap hiding the sword.The entire tavern quickly relaxes at the mere sight of the small segment of sword shown. That is because the blade under the wrap is a rusted, chipped blade that looks as if it could not even cut through some butter. The blade is cracked and looks as if the bandages wrapped around the sword is what is holding the blade together. Azure wraps the sword back up and raises the blade to mount it onto his back. A magic circle flickers over Azure's shoulder blade the moment the blade touches to his back, and resumes its mounted position. On a closer look, one could notice the blade is not sheathed or being held by a strap, yet was remaining mounted on Azure's back.
[b "See? I'm no threat at all. What could I even do with a chipped up trinket?"] Azure takes a sip of his now second drink, showing no signs of slowing down. He knows the Ark Rider next to him will not be full satisfied with that answer. She already knew he was there with a purpose, or at least suspected it.
However, before the conversation could continue, the panicked voices of the people leak in through the tavern walls. Azure closes his left eye and watches as the sunlight outside the windows darkens.
...a large black sphere descends from the skies above and suddenly stops mid air above Radinata. The sphere opens up its center horizontally and magic energy floods out from the sides of the orb. A red see through dome of magic forms over all of Radinata.
[h3 In the Castle's Halls]
Darnus sees the black sphere hovering over his Kingdom outside the windows of the hall. He looks up at the sphere, concerned as the dome of magic forms around his Kingdom. Once the dome finishes forming, he feels an intense weight bare down on him. A burning sensation manifests at the center of his chest and he lifts the collar of his shirt to look at his chest. A red magic circle forms at the center of Darnus's chest as he clenches his left hand over his chest. [i 'This sensation. I can't connect to my Ark.']
An Ark Rider can always feel the presence of their Ark within. The way one summons an Ark is by feeding that presence Mana and calling out to it. Yet, the magic circle that had appeared on every Ark Rider’s chest seems to prevent the Riders from being able to do so.
[h3 At the…]
… tavern, Azure sits at the bar as everyone has already ran out, including his recent drinking buddy. He simply looks at his drink slightly annoyed. [i ‘Leave it to those bastards to attack outside of their usual pattern. It’s like they live for the very purpose of pissing me off.’] Azure puts down a few extra gil as he stands from his seat and takes a sip from his drink. He left a few extra coins as a means for purchasing the glass as well.
Azure stands outside the tavern and looks up at the black sphere. A ringing sound sounds off in his head. [b “A Jammer? When the hell did they make something as merciless as that?”] Azure says as if he were talking to someone. He looks to the Northern pathway to see no enemies have yet to appear.
...Darnus looks at Valgus and says, [b "Valgus, sound the evacuation alarm. We need to get to the war room."]
A loud sound rings throughout the Kingdom. On the corner of every other block in the Kingdom is a large poll. At the top of the poll is a red gem known as a Magistellia. Magistellia are crystallized forms of magic that house one specific function. They are at the base of all technology. The sound is followed by an announcement in the King's voice.
[p "Citizens of Radinata. An unknown object has appeared within our skies. I ashamed to say that at the time, we are unaware of its nature, but I would like to request at this time for all citizens to evacuate toward the Noble Quarter. Repeat..."]
The Kingdom has three pathways that lead directly to the Noble Quarter. The North, Central and South Pathways. Azure watches as along the Northern Pathway, the people begin to walk the very wide roads toward the Noble Quarter.
While the evacuation begins, Darnus stands in the large war room. He stands up top a small platform that overlooks the entire circular room. Directly underneath him is an eagle eye view of the Kingdom. Surrounding this view are several people who sit in front of projected screens. Darnus holds up a blue Magistellia to his lips as the stone begins to shine, [b "Ark Riders, head toward the closest Noble Quarter entrance from your current location. Guide the people and be on guard."] Darnus orders and waits a few moments as the stone fades in light only to re-shine again. This time he talks directly to his three children. [b "Killian, Ikana, and Seraphina. Report to the War room, now."]
[h3 Battlefield Conditions]
Battlefield Conditions are special conditions set up and created by the story line. The conditions cannot be changed until the change is carried out within the story. This can be done by the rpers in most circumstances. The actions and choices you guys make while in battle also affects how the battlefield will evolve and develop.
*No enemies have yet to appear
*Arks are currently jammed and cannot be summoned
Pyra raised an eyebrow at the comment of her being an ARK Rider. She hadn't stated being such, nor did she have anything that showed she was. Of course, ARK Riders were fairly well known, so perhaps he just knew from tales and such. Either way, she would let it slide for now, but still watch for anything that would seem like a threat.
[#430505 "You can't blame Anu."] She replied, leading him towards her favorite tavern. [#430505 "He's in charge of keeping this side of the wall and city safe. Because of that, he can over react a bit when a stranger seems to stand out to him. Believe me, you're not the first one to have him send guards to watch."]
Walking into the tavern, she was met with a few familiar face. They greeted her, some asking how she was. All of them noticed she came in with Azure and would ask who he was. Pyra would simply reply that she met him on the street and had asked for the best tavern. Most seemed to take the answer, while others thought it was strange she would do such a thing. Pyra was a rather helpful person.
At the bar, she couldn't help but to chuckle at the kid's response to being asked if he was too young to drink. He did seem rather young, but Pyra could tell he was of age, if not barely. Still, it seemed rather early to take the strongest ale he had, which was rather strong. The man was known for brewing some of his own, and it was highly sought after for being so strong. Even the biggest of warriors could get drunk off of just one serving. This was going to be an interesting thing to see if this kid was going to take it.
[#430505 "My usual please."]
Pyra took her own drink and had a sip before the kid started asking her questions. She smirked as he mentioned her not coming up to him because of his good looks. She had to admit, he looked cute, but he really wasn't her type. Besides, she had someone back home at the moment. Why ruin a good thing?
[#430505 "You were being followed by those guards so I got curious. You seemed rather annoyed with them anyways. Usually they're a lot better about hiding the fact that they're following someone though."]
She glanced over at him, seeing that grin. There was something about him that seemed...off? She wasn't sure, but he wasn't just a wandering mercenary looking for the next big thrill. This kid was serious about his work. If she didn't know other kingdoms uniforms, she would have probably guessed he was a soldier.
[#430505 "Answer me this. You obviously came here for a certain reason, and it's not because you wanted adventure. There's a reason you came to this exact city and not any other. So what is your reason? And I'll tell you this now, depending on your answer will result in if I help you or send you out of this city."]
[center ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~]
[center [pic http://fotos.fotoflexer.com/7fd4536d6b161084d8cba0fae3d6c8181728746.png]]
The princess was sneaking back into the castle, pastries in hand. She knew all the secret passageways of this place, having sneaked in and out many times in her sixteen years. Ikana was quite pleased with herself of today's adventure. She had managed to get away from her annoying guard, and she was given some of the best treats from the bakery. She had some cookies with jam in the middle, some fresh bread, and other sweets with sugar and cinnamon on top. Sure she could get these from the castle baker, but she liked these specifically.
Opening the way out of the passage, she looked around before stepping out and walking down the hall. She knew of a meeting that was going to happen, but she didn't know the seriousness of it. She figured it was just the monthly meeting that she was never invited to. Ikana was fine with that though. She found the meetings quite boring and always tried to get out of the few she was forced to go to.
Because of the meeting though, she knew her older siblings wouldn't be searching around for her. They probably didn't even know she had escaped in the first place. So long as they never spotted her until after the meeting, she was home free. She smiled at her slyness, congratulating herself on how well she had gotten with escaping and such. Perhaps she could contest for the crown. Nah. Though she liked the princess lifestyle, she knew she didn't want to become queen. Besides, doing so could almost guarantee her into an arranged marriage. She wanted nothing to do with marriage.
While lost in her thought, she rounded the corner and was in plain sight of her siblings. Along with some of the other ARK Riders. She stopped, the goods still in her arms, a cookie hanging from her lips. Seemed she hadn't thought it all through and was being caught...
[font "Lucida Fax" [b [#000080 “You? Second best? Thought never crossed my mind.”]] Killian mirrored with an equally stoic face. There was a slight pause before even he couldn’t keep from breaking into laughter. It was a rare noise to be heard these days. Somehow, Guy's humor has always lightened Killian's day, even if the man was an ass at times. Despite the class difference, Killian thought of the grumbling tall brute as a brother, considering he never had one. The two were considered terrors among the palace growing up. Most ideas came from Killian's adventurous mind. Whenever they would get caught, young Killian Radius would claim to be at fault all the time, even if it wasn’t true. Ever since they were both kids, Killian and Ludlow would find some way to cause another wrinkle to form on the king’s face. Most of it was harmless enough, until Killian thought it would be a great idea to bring a dairy cow into the guard tower. Today, the prince had never seen his father get redder in the face while his mother held back laughter. Ludlow was almost banished from the palace until Kiar Gai’kala and Killian both asked for Guy’s presence to stay. Indeed, the heir to the royal throne of Radinata was a menace to his governess and tutors in his time. Thinking on his youngest sister’s behavior, Killian certainly believed that it was genetics that caused all the Radius children to be mischievous in their youths.]
[font "Lucida Fax" Reflecting on the past made a smile crack on Killian’s face. [b [#000080 “Do you remember the day I first ran into you?”]] Killian asked without shooting a glance in Guy’s direction. [b [#000080 “You were this chubby tan boy in a filthy stable. And I knew, somehow that we would be friends.”]] He adjusted the cuffs on his wrists as his powerful gait lead him to the throne room. [b [#000080 “Those were the days, eh?”]] Killian’s smile cracked just slightly. The prince stopped briefly in his walk and he gave pause to his usual charade. [b [#000080 “Shame we can’t go back. Only forward.”]] Killian mumbled to himself.]
[font "Lucida Fax" Even though Killian seemed dutiful, responsible, and cheerful to everyone else, only Guy knew the truth. Killian was a broken man walking around with a mask. The death of the Queen brought a harsh reality to the named heir to the throne. He was stuck. He was chained to that chair until his death. He was trained his entire life to succeed his father’s place. Even though Killian would feel honored to take up his king’s duties, he felt, in no way, capable of the task. He would convincingly parade around acting like he could for the sake of the people and the nobles that all counted on him.]
[font "Lucida Fax" “Prince Killian!” a gentle call disturbed the thought of the white-haired man. He turned to see his manservant, Clarence jogging toward him. The shorter red-haired fellow used his neck scarf to wipe away the sweat from his brow before approaching the prince. “Forgive me, your highness.” He said before catching his breath. “I just received news that the meeting for you today was relocated to the council chambers.” The boy stood up straight and folded his arms behind him. “I was sent to inform you of this change and that Commander Anu and Princess Seraphina are attending as well.”
[font "Lucida Fax" Prince Killian nodded in response and patted the boy’s shoulder amicably. Donning his customary smile, Killian told Clarence that he wouldn’t need him for the meeting this time. His oldest sister and commander of the southern wall guards were coming along? What was this, a festival? This meeting was originally supposed to be about an update on the outline villages. It was a routine gathering that happened every month. It felt odd until Killian remembered the gathering in the throne room four days ago. [i He’s probably wanting to explain why he turned down the Dakunai’s offer.] Killian pondered as he walked silently with Guy for several moments. [b [#000080 “It’s just a bit odd. Nothing to be concerned with.”]] Killian stated more to reassure himself than for Guy. [i I’m sure he has his reason.] He thought as he approached the council room.]
[font "Lucida Fax" He gave a brief nod to Commander Anu before turning to his sister, Princess Seraphina. [b [#000080 “Sera! What a pleasant surprise! It’s an honor that you grace us with your presence today.”]] Killian’s humorous sarcasm did not please the second eldest in the slightest. There was an unspoken strain on the relationship between the two siblings, but no one dared to ask why, not even Killian. [b [#000080 “Thank you for allowing me to share some responsibilities this time. If you handle anymore duties for me, I fear my arse by become too swollen to be of any use.”]] He grinned. He was just trying to get a response out of her. He wanted to know why she was so ill with him all the time. On the plus side, annoying his little sister was half the fun. Isn’t that what big brothers do? [b [#000080 “Shall we all enter together, or do we need to have the heralds make two announcements today?”]] Killian joked while flashing his trademark charming smile.]
Alanna quickly glanced at Seraphina, noticing the greeting smile on her fair face before turning back to gaze at Anu. Anu was a bit of an interesting character. Apart of being somewhat mysterious in character, he also had a somewhat interesting choice in wear. Even though he was a commander of the watch, Anu wore a pure white cloth with an overload of gold jewelry. But Alanna wasn't about to judge Anu for that, since she herself practically wore no armor most of the time either.
But what she going to judge him on, was how he found out about Princess Seraphina's habit of sword training. It didn't help that Anu held up a finger to his nose with that half-crooked smile, making look a bit more stupid in her opinion, that expression just made her want to chuck him somewhere even more.
Maybe it wasn't his fault. Fine, but that meant that one of the guards had to have found out somehow. And that put to light the question, as to how one of the guards had seen Princess Seraphina? During training time at Rose's place, there was a very strict watch over the entrances so no one could walk into the place and watch Princess Seraphina train in dirty clothes.
All this time, Seraphina had maintained that calm, neutral face expression, betraying neither thought nor emotion inside of her. And even though on the inside Alanna felt happy that Seraphina had once again pulled of this trick, and like Seraphina, Alanna betrayed none of this happiness outside. At least not while Anu was still around.
As Anu walked off, Seraphina kept track of him. Alanna could see that Seraphina had decided upon some plan, but was first making sure that Anu had walked off a good distance before acting upon it.
After Anu had indeed left them, Seraphina turned around to her retinue of attendants. Personnally, Alanna thought that this group of attendants was not the smartest of ideas as it allowed for an assassin to easily conceal themselves within the group. But that would only be able to happen if Alanna was not around, and she was around most of the time.
Even though Princess Seraphina had given her the choice of who to go with, Alanna was extremely where this 'small detour' would go. Without a spoken reply, Alanna quietly followed Seraphina on her 'quick errand'.
Alanna, while walking and constantly checking around for surprises, thought about the problem. She started off with anyone in her mother's household who was a part of this whole training in secret scheme, but came up with a blank. Alanna knew her mother quite well, and that meant that no one in her household would have dared talk about it whatsoever. And even those that had no contact with any part of the training would have received strict orders from Rose.
As they walked down a certain corridor, Alanna recognized to whom Princess Seraphina wanted to meet with; Lady Charlotte Grey. From what Alanna understood, Princess Seraphina had some sort of long understanding and friendly relationship with the lady. The lady had some way of finding out what was happening in the castle as well as in the city, information which found great use for Princess Seraphina.
Alanna walked into the room of Lady Grey behind Seraphina. The lady sat as still as if she were drawn in a painting, continuing to read whatever book she had been reading. But despite that calm pose, Alanna knew that the lady kept dangerous weapons beneath those closes. Weapons, that the lady knew how to use all to well.
Alanna stood, leaning against the wall as the conversation unfolded before her.
Well, well, well. It seemed that the Lady Grey knew about Princess Seraphina's 'escapades'. Seraphina had not expected this course of events, evident by the blinking and that long, deep breath. At least now they knew who had been spreading the rumours.
Seraphina recovered quickly, stating that it would be better that rumours would be spread about her than the prince or the other princess. Alanna did not know what rumours were being spread about the prince, but she did know the other princess had a habit of evading her guard and running of alone into town; Alanna felt sorry for whoever had to guard that princess.
Alanna followed behind Seraphina's quick footsteps. [+purple "Unless you have any other quick errands or small detours that you need to take, then let us go to the meeting. Me thinks it promises to be quite aninteresting meeting."]
[b “Anu, captain of the watch. A rare sight.”]
Sera was quick to greet her guard with a friendly smile even as she commented on the presence of Anu. It was quite unusual to see him make his way to these meetings, as he almost certainly saw them as somewhat redundant. Still it would be a welcome sight if not for his terrible attitude as a member of the guard.
[b "Ah Lady Alanna. It is a rare sight we see each other as of late indeed. I hear the princess is doing some not so princess like things."] Anu said as he placed a finger on his nose with a half crooked smile. [b "The Guards talk, especially those on the wall my dear, a close lid would do one's private life good."]
A calm neutral expression that shows no sign of the emotions that lie beneath the surface. It was times like this that Sera was thankful that she had developed the skill so well during her almost decade of service as a most reliable member of the royal family. The skill served her well when dealing with crude creatures like Anu.
Once she was certain the man had left she gathered her attendants with a wave of her hand. [b “Ladies please wait for me outside the chambers, it seems that I will be taking a small detour,”] Sera said with as warm a smile as she could muster. [b “Alanna, you may feel free to go with them, or accompany me. I promise you that it is just a quick errand that I have to run inside the castle.”]
A rumor about her spreading among the people was common enough and a rumor of her doing something supposedly ignoble was certain to spread quickly. While there were quite a few things that she had been doing that could be seen as improper; there was only one that she was concerned with keeping a secret. She had to be certain that there was no possibility that the guards had learned of her early morning activities.
There were a number of people that she could be certain were aware of just what it was that she was up to in the morning. Alanna, Gina, Rose, and the former members of Rose's military legion that served as the lookouts and as her sparring partners. Neither Alanna or Rose seemed like the type to spread gossip, and if they were to tell anyone they would more likely tell her father. Sera took a moment to glance at Alanna as she was following her, and although covers are not a reliable measure it still reassured her that the woman could be trusted. Gina would sooner bite off her own tongue than betray her. Which left the former members of the legion who were known to be a bit rough around the edges, but Sera was confident they would keep their mouths shut for fear of Rose if nothing else.
The lookouts could be trusted to have done their job properly given their loyalty to Rose, and that meant there was no real possibility of her secret getting out that she could see. Which meant that there was an unrelated rumor being spread about her, and she knew just who to visit to find out about it. Her most trusted lady-in-waiting Charlotte Grey. The woman knew just about everything going on in the kingdom thanks to her connections and her impressive interpersonal skills.
The corridor they walked down was quiet despite the time of day, as the wing where Sera made her home was usually only filled with her own staff. Most of whom were busy elsewhere fulfilling the extra duties demanded of them by their lady. Sera knocked twice on her own door upon arrival, but quickly let herself in at the word of the lone occupant.
Sitting as though she was having her portrait painted was Lady Charlotte Grey, Sera's oldest and most reliable friend. She was a sight that could easily be seen as more noble than herself, as Sera knew that her choice of attire was more befitting a grand general than a pretty princess. Of course she was the only one who knew that while her blades were more apparent on her belt, the blades that Char kept hidden in her dress were far more lethal.
[b “Is your meeting over already?”] Char asked without looking up from her book.
[b “It hasn't begun actually,”] Sera said as she checked to make sure that no untrustworthy ears could listen in. [b “What rumor is currently spreading about me among the guards?”]
[b “That you're spending your mornings with a lady of the evening,”] Char replied.
Sera blinked a few times as she took in a deep breath. [b “What?”]
[b “It's had a negligible impact on your reputation and I thought it was close enough to a truth to be worth seeing how people reacted,”] Char explained while keeping her focus on her book. [b “Is there a problem?”]
Of course. While she had gone through extreme efforts to make sure that no one could find out what she was up to once she got there she had apparently been less careful while en route. She had been seen In quite possibly the worst neighborhood possible given her route.
[b “I guess it's better to have them spreading rumors about me than ones about Ikana or Killian at least,”] Sera said. [b “Just make sure to stay on top of it.”]
[b “I always do. Good luck with your meeting,”] Char said still focused on her book.
Sera did not bother to spend anymore time on the details as she quietly left her room making sure the door was shut tight behind her and her guard. Charlotte was her most trusted lady-in-waiting for a reason, and her network was the most reliable one Sera had found. If she thought it was something better left alone then Sera would trust her judgment.
[b “Shall we be on our way then?”] Sera asked after taking a moment to compose herself.
Anu had been on his way to the war chambers when he was once again stopped. A message from his commander in his absence. [#e18914 "Damn that women. Pyre dismissed them like nothing more then petty guards."] crumbling up the paper Anu dropped it into the torch close by. At first the flame grew a little bit eating away at the paper, but returned to normal once the paper was nothing more then black ash floating away with the light breeze that blew in from the open windows. [#e18914 "Perhaps it is for the best. They would have just lost him anyway. Akros is my best man, but he has been called to other duties in the Kingdom."]
Continuing down the hallway Anu had heard the familiar female voice. Turning to face the direction of it. The bright red hair caught his eye first. [#e18914 "Ah Lady Alanna. It is a rare sight we see each other as of late indeed. I hear the princess is doing some not so princess like things."] placing his finger on his noise he gave a half crocked smile. [#e18914 "The Guards talk, especially those on the wall my dear, a close lid would do one's private life good."]
Turning to continue his hunt down for the king and his council the male was once again handed a message. [#e18914 "It seems I have a matter to attend to."] rereading the message on the scroll Anu rolled it up and pressed his hand to the gold band on his left wrist. [#e18914 "Tell Lady Mao that it will be taken care of, and do profusely apologize to her about the lack of..."] searching his mind for the best fit word [#e18914 "The lack of regimen to the guards placed upon the Archives."] The messenger seemed to nod and disappear like thin air.
Anu had finally turned and made it to the council chambers. The other commanders where here, however The king, The prince, and the Royal guards had yet to arrive. The commanders where whispering among themselves as Anu stepped into the room. Adopting a none tradition manner of armor being but a light piece of cloth to cover from his waist down along with his many gold pieces of jewelry such as arm bands, necklaces, and finery gold just at the top of the cloth. [b "Lord Anu, its kind of you to join us. We were wondering if you were going to show up to this or not. It seems the king has a favorite and you believe yourself above reprisal."]
Anu just looked at the bigger man speaking. His head bald, but his beard held a deep salt and pepper look. It indeed gave away that the man was older in age. His gut did him no justice however as it stuck out like a sore thumb from potentially sitting in a chair all day giving orders to his men to carry out. [#e18914 "Lord Matius, I am pleased to see that you could peal yourself away from the taverns to be here."] Matius was the man who covered the northern wall, it overlooked most of the taverns in the capital. [#e18914 "I am sorry that you believe your post of any importance to me my lord, but The king has commanded I overlook the gate into the capital and I do so without the use of a chair."]
Direct hit! was the words that came to mind when Anu noticed the man's face turned red and his hand placed upon his sword that still yet hung at his side. The only thing that stopped him was the bang of the door opening. At first someone would have expected the big sound be that of Royalty, but instead it was more of the Guards to the city that came into the room. It was then that a lady's voice came over the crowd [b "Lord Matius a fight here would not help your case any."]
Anu bowed to the lady. She was the newly appointed commander to the Eastern wall. Close in age to Anu's mother, but far less of it showing. A whip hung from her left hip.
Azure sighs as he flips his gil coin up into the air. [i 'Well, always nice to pick up stalkers while out for a walk,'] Azure thinks to himself as he could sense the guards following him. [i 'How to lose them? So, many options to chose from.']
Before Azure can think of a way to ditch his followers, a woman approaches him from behind and offers him direction to a drink. He flips his held coin one more time before catching the coin again. [b "Well, thanks for getting rid of my stalkers, Miss Ark Rider,"] Azure says with a laid back sigh. Without even looking at the woman, he states the knowledge of her being an Ark Rider.
[b "I mean seriously. What kind of over dramatic prick sticks guards on someone for wearing strange clothes. I haven't even done anything,"] Azure says in a monotone voice showing his distaste for the person that stuck guards on him for no reason other then, 'he looked funny'.
Azure lets the woman guide him to the closest tavern that offered a variety of drinks. The place they arrive at a small but welcoming place. The bar tender stands behind the bar cleaning glasses. with a large wall of alcoholic bottles behind him. The bar tender himself is a large bald man with a long brown beard. [b "Hey bar keep, give me the drink with the strongest impact."]
"Aren't you a bit young to have day drinking problems kid?" The bar tender asks when he puts down a glass and grabs a ruby colored bottle from the wall.
[b "Ha!"] Azure takes a seat on a stool and props his elbows up onto the bar, [b "I have so many day drinking problems, I caused my therapist to seek out therapy."]
The bar tender lets out a hearty chuckle and replies, "That adventurous of a life?" The bar tender finishes pouring Azure a glass of an amber colored liquid. He slides the glass down along the wooden bar and into Azure's hand.
"So, what can I get for you Pyra?" The bar tender asks before taking her order and sending a drink her way as well.
Azure takes a long sip of his drink before he sets the glass down once again. [b "So Miss Ark Rider, what can I do for you? And please don't say you approached me for my stunning good looks,"] Azure says as he props his head up with his left hand. [b " A woman of your caliber doesn't approach a random guy like me without reason,"] He says as he taps the side of his glass. [b "So, do you find me 'interesting' the same way those asshole stalkers do?"] Azure asks in a slightly playful tone as he takes another sip of his drink.
[h3 The King...]
...stares out into the distance from the Royal Garden. In the distance, some of the taller buildings of the Kingdom could be seen. Darnus turns his attention to his best and closest friend Valgus Arcov. Valgus is the King’s right hand man and advisor. The two have known eachother since their childhood. Darnus often says that Valgus is one of the reasons he managed to make Radinata so peaceful in the first place.
Valgus is a tall man with white hair just like the King, but his hair looked like a mane of wild white. Valgus’s brown eyes meet with the King’s blue eyes as he smiles. His long white cape hangs down over his body, hiding the royal attire he wears underneath. “My King. I always find you here nowadays,” Valgus says as he takes a seat next to Darnus.
Darnus remains quiet for a good deal of time as the two sit there. Valgus knows why the King remains silently sitting there, gazing out into the sea of flowers. The time is now 12:37 in the afternoon. When the Queen was alive, Darnus and his wife would always come out into the garden at 12 and spend a hour away from their royal duties as King and Queen. It was the one hour during the day they would spend as man and woman, husband and wife. Darnus has never once failed to contribute this one hour a day to his Queen Lunarus, even long after her death.
“These days are far to quiet without her,” Valgus says as he leans forward and props his elbows on his knees.
[b “She brought life to this Kingdom. I am just a man who made regulations. She connected with the Kingdom and spread her warmth to the people through her actions,”] Darnus says in a solemn tone.
“She was certainly a one of a kind woman. Not even the elders of the council could find any reason to complain about her, despite her sickly fragile state of health.”
[b “She was a strong woman who boldly danced on death’s doorstep,”] Darnus chuckled in thought as he closes his eyes.
Valgus chuckles as well as he laces his fingers. “Your daughters are starting to remind me of her,” Valgus jests in a slightly sad tone.
Darnus laughs at the notion and replies, [b “I have one daughter doing secret training ‘behind my back’ and another who runs away daily. They certainly are like their mother. Strong young women who are too restless to sit still for even a minute.”]
“And a son who went from being a player to being serious in a heartbeat,” Valgus teases.
Darnus smiles and nods as he slowly lifts himself off the bench he sits on. [b “Well, it is about time we start heading to the meeting.”]
“Lead the way your majesty,” Valgus says as he stands up with the King. The two begin to make their way to the destination of the royal meeting that is happening soon.
[#2A96E2 "As the youngest of the royal siblings, I still have some command, especially over you."]
"You keep saying that m'lady, but that doesn't mean I'll listen. I have direct orders from your brother to watch over you."
A small huff was heard from the female, her arms crossed in front of her. The guard beside her stood tall over her, full armor except for the helmet, which was carried at his side along with a sword on the other side of his hips. As they walked, people around them quickly got out of their way, a few bowing as they spotted the girl. While she didn't mind the bowing and such, she wished the guard wasn't with her so she could at least try to blend in. The whole point of her going out into the city was to get a break from being royalty and enjoy the city for what it had. And perhaps get into trouble. But that was a different story.
[#2A96E2 "All I wanted was to go to a bakery and find some sweets to take back. I don't need an escort for such a simple task."]
"Princess Ikana, while I agree with you, I have my orders." The guard replied. "It doesn't help what happened last time you went out on your own..."
Ikana stepped in front of the guard, causing him to stop. [#2A96E2 "I said that was an accident! It's not my fault the other guards didn't believe me when I said who I was!"]
The guard sighed, not wanting to argue with the princess anymore. Ikana simply looked away, continuing her walk while trying to find a way to lose him. She had grown tired of the guard rather quickly, but it wouldn't be easy to get away from him. Her brother, Prince Killian, wasn't a dummy. He made sure the guard she was put with couldn't lose her that easily. But that didn't mean it was impossible. She just had to wait for the right moment and then she would be on her own once again. Sadly, it didn't seem like fate was working with her today. The crowds around them were hardly dense enough to even attempt to lose him there. Not to mention how they would quickly part ways at the sight of the two. Also, the guard didn't seem like the type to get easily distracted by a pretty lady or fellow guards. He was serious about his work, even if it was just following the princess around.
It wasn't until they came upon the bazaar that she finally saw the chance. There was a crowd around a stall that was selling jewelry, admiring the fine gems they hadn't seen before. Ikana quickly took the chance, rushing over to take a look herself.
It was too late. Ikana had lost him in the crowd, sneaking off to an alleyway. She chuckled to herself, admiring how great of a job she had done to get away. Now the city was hers to explore without a guard to ruin the fun. Where would she go first? Perhaps a nice quiet shop with clothing? Or maybe to see about some magical items. Or perhaps start with the bakery. Yes, starting there would be the best idea. She had told the guard she wanted to go so he was bound to head that way once he realized she wasn't around anymore. Because of that it was better to go that way before he got there so she wouldn't have to go back later.
[#2A96E2 "Now, where is the bakery that's my favorite..."]
[center ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~]
Not too far off from the bazaar was a house, next to other houses that looked similar but different in their own ways. Inside it was quite neat, and was rather quiet as well. In the bed, a figure lied under the covers, almost completely engulfed by them. A male figure walked over to the bed, sitting on the side and slowly pulling the covers off to reveal a beautiful woman, dressed only in a simple nightgown.
[i "My Love, if you don't want to be late then you need to be getting up soon."] The male spoke softly, running his fingers through her thick hair.
She replied with a groan, trying to pull the covers back over her. He prevented that, laughing as he pulled them completely off of her. The woman wasn't happy with that, looking up at him with a scowl.
[i "Don't look at me like that Love, you're the one that became a knight to the Royal Family. Come on, the sun is already rising towards noon."]
[#430505 "It's not my fault we were up so late.] She muttered, slowly sitting up in bed as she yawned and stretched. [#430505 "Besides, I'm not needed anywhere just yet so why not sleep?"]
The man simply rolled his eyes and got up, walking back to the kitchen. [i "Pyra Tempris, how did you ever become such a high ranking knight?"]
[#430505 "Kicking ass of course."] She called back, now getting out of bed to get ready.
It didn't take her long, dressing in mainly black leather with some dark red fabric to add color. Silver gauntlets were strapped to her arms along with gloves of the same metal, three fire like gems on each glove. The look was complete with her flowing coat and back skirt, the fabric kissing the ground. When in battle, those items would be taken off, but for walking around and attending to the family, it was more of a statement for her. Her hair would stay the same; a slight mess, but neat when viewed with the rest of her outfit.
Stepping out of the house, she started to make her way to the castle. She lived on the southern side of the kingdom, in a neighborhood that was quiet, but had its moments of being lively. She liked it that way. She could sleep peacefully at night after a long day, but still expect something to go on around here. The crowd started to pick up as she got closer to the bazaar, letting her blend in rather well.
On her way, she spotted someone who seemed a bit out of the ordinary for the people around here. Especially with that sword strapped to his back. She then noticed how a couple of guards following him and figured Anu had seen him too. Pyra walked up to the guards, letting them know she would keep an eye on the kid instead. They hesitated a bit, but after telling them again, they seemed a bit more okay with the idea and left her to it.
Instead of staying back, Pyra approached him, putting a hand on his shoulder. [#430505 "If you're looking for a drink, I know somewhere that makes their own ale. It's right this way."]
Karin pushed her way through the castle’s occupants, turning heads as she did so. The eccentric foreigner wasn’t known to speak much, but her dark skin, intimidating height and striking manner of dress made her the object of countless stares. Today was a training day, and all the big names of the castle had made a point of using this time to show off their talents in violence - As a result, Karin’s frown was more pronounced than usual; while she had - by necessity - learned her way around a blade, she detested violence in all forms. No, she had dedicated herself to books, and books only.
Slipping through battlements and making her way lower into the towers, she angrily trudged down towards her domain - the archives. A solitary guard sneered as she approached the great wooden door.
“What?” she snapped, having no time for the guardsman’s nonsense.
He focused his gaze forward and stepped aside, as if he hadn’t done a thing. Karin clenched her fist and barged through, stepping out into the hallway. She’d be sure to forward another complaint toward Anu Candle. Perhaps bigotry was tolerated among their ranks, but a flagrant lack of discipline was unacceptable. Candle was an eccentric, but reasonable man. He’d whip his men into shape.
The archives, while old, and in Karin’s opinion, harshly underfunded, maintained a spark of grandeur and magnificence that was unique to the nation of Radinata. In her home country, libraries were a place of quiet contemplation, and bore stark minimal decors that reflected the pursuit of knowledge above all other things. Radinatan architecture, conversely, prized aesthetics. Karin occasionally found herself hating the country’s fixation on pomp and ceremony, but it certainly made for an interesting work environment.
Quietly, she glided onto a rolling ladder and slid down a dark passage of endless literature, looking for a specific book. Over the last few years, she’d grown to know the vast royal collection better than the town that stood under the castle’s foot. Running her long fingers across dozens of spines, she came to a stop at a section on metallurgy and procured a leather-bound book with a fading typeface. Satisfied, she hoped down and strutted towards a small group of librarians who had poised themselves around a small table.
“What are you doing?” she asked, in her characteristic eastern continent accent.
“Oh, Mao. We were uhh-“
“-Playing cards,” she cut them off. “And it is Chief Archivist, not [i Mao.]”
“Yes, Chief Archivist.” came an unenthusiastic reply from the table.
“You,” she said, thrusting the book into the hands of the mouthiest librarian. “Have this delivered to the quartermaster of the southern garrison. [i Now.]”
She spun on her heels and turned to another.
“And [i you], go find Commander Candle and have him remove the guard posted outside the archives, or [i I’ll do it.]”
Without waiting for an answer, she was off, finding herself something to do in the vast halls of the royal archive.
Alanna stood in a strict posture, holding her hands behind her while while standing ramrod straight with the legs held slightly apart. The fight which she was observing had just began, and promised to be an interesting one.
This was merely a training fight, but it had all the elements that would have made it a true and bloody fight if the weapons hadn't been swapped for wooden replicas. But that didn't mean they wouldn't hurt less, for instead of cuts and blood letting there'd be hard hits and painful bruises.
Princess Seraphina versus a dozen strong group of brutes, one would think that the royalty would win. But that conclusion could only be made if one made the assumption that Seraphina had had at least some extensive training; both Alanna and the even older red-headed woman standing besides Alanna knew otherwise.
It had only been a few weeks since Princess Seraphina had begun her training. The first few lessons couldn't even be called lessons, those had been harsh beat downs. Alanna did sympathize with Seraphina, for Alanna had gone through the same exact process with Rose, the older red-headed woman who was the sword trainer.
As the lessons progressed, Princess Seraphina began to improve. But with each improvement, came an increase in difficulty with the next lesson. Each improvement was like a flame of hope that felt good, before the hard slap in the face that was a harder lesson hit like a titanium block. This was a constant cycle, designed to instill all the qualities a master fighter needed.
12 brutes had stood at the beginning, now only nine remained. The remaining nine had spread themselves around Princess Seraphina, forming a circular trap in which Princess Seraphina would be exposed from any angle. Now this, this would be quite interesting to watch how Princess Seraphina would maneuver herself out of this brutish trap.
Instead of waiting for the brutes to come to her, Princess Seraphina decided to come to them. Alanna raised an eyebrow, for this meant that she'd be leaving her back completely open to attack. But then again, a pole arm and a sword were two different weapons which dictated what options one had.
Even though her sword was easily knocked away, brutes had just brutish amount of strength, it allowed for Seraphina to swing the sword back around for a hit to the sternum followed by a swift but heavy kick into the stomach of the brute.
Another one down, eight remained.
By this point, the circle had become a semicircle. It still didn't change the fact that it created too many opening for Princess Seraphina to cover at once, but the idea of utilizing against that against the Princess had not dawned to any one of the eight brutes.
Instead, a brute from the front decided to counterattack. Instead of blocking with her sword, Princess Seraphina sidestepped the lunge. This was a good decision, as it kept both sword hands free from any commitment. Princess Seraphina used that hand freedom to deliver two quick slashes, one on the hind legs of the other, each of which homed in mercilessly on the back of a brute and knocking another one down to the ground.
Another one down, seven more to go.
But Princess Seraphina wasn't done with her attack. With one step and one sword she brushed aside one of the brute's weapons, and with the second stride and the second sword she pummeled the brute to the ground.
One more down, and six more to go.
Finally, just finally one of the brutes realized that maybe it was a good idea to attack from an exposed angle.
Princess Seraphina noticed this attack and even tried to defend against it. But the pure force of the brute's swing crushed through and connected with the side of her body. As Princess Seraphina reeled from the hit, another brute stompted on her back, causing her to fall face dirt into the dirt.
Alanna let out a groan as she quickly grabbed her pole arm, which had been stuck into the ground. Unless she intervened, the Princess she was supposed to be protecting would be completely beaten up and bruised.
The pole arm was a most curious weapon. It had an axe facing front, a sharp spear tip facing up, and a pick facing opposite of the axe head. It was both an offensive and a defensive weapon, allowing the user to both attack from a distance while keeping the opponent at bay.
Since she didn't have to kill them, all Alanna had to do was to slap them with the flat part. As she was making her first step forward, Alanna swung her pole arm against the closest of the six brutes, pounding him to the ground. With her first step planted in the ground, she delivered a quick two strike attack which pounded two more brutes down the ground. With her second step, the last three remaining brutes were pounded into the ground with one hard swing of her pole arm.
Alanna came to a stop, standing in a stance which would allow her to continue her attack or quickly change into a defensive stance. But since no other enemy was around, she stepped backwards and stuck her pole arm into the ground once more.
Rose walked out towards Princess Seraphina, lifting the face by the chin with the tip of a sword. What Rose said was true. On the battlefield, royalty was never killed. All the common folk would be indiscriminately slaughtered, but royalty were always captured. Whether it was for torturing or from ransoming, sometimes it was better to die on the battlefield than to turn oneself over to the enemy; unless their was some specific purpose.
As Seraphina stood up ad began walking back to clean herself up, she looked at Alanna and gave a nod. Alanna politely nodded back, acknowledging Princess Seraphina's nod of gratitude.
Without Alanna, this whole training deal would have been nearly impossible. Princess Seraphina had wanted to become a sword fighter, and for some unknown reason Alanna decided to grant that request. Alanna knew where to find a sword fighting master, who was Rose. But there was one thing about Rose which Alanna had kept a secret from Seraphina; Rose was Alanna's mother. It made things a bit awkward during times, but Alanna had managed to preserve that secret. Princess Seraphina didn't need to really know that anyways.
Alanna sighed a bit as Seraphina walked away. Rose, her mother, noticed and walked up to her. [+red "Something the matter?"][+purple "Nothing is the matter. Just sometimes wonder whether she's shaping up the way you want."] Her mother looked her in the eyes, [+red "My dear daughter. If your mind and heart are in the right places, then that is all I care about in a trainee. Princess Seraphina, she has that determination to persevere, despite the challenges I throw her way. After teaching you, she has been one of my best trainees I've had."] A silence followed as they stood side by side. [+red "I think you've best run along now, it would appear a bit weird if the Princess didn't have her guard with her."] Alanna turned around and hugged her mom, before walking off with her pole arm to the castle.
Back at the castle, she found Princess Seraphina; not in training clothes, but in a regalia befitting a princess. [+purple "Anu, captain of the watch. A rare sight."]
[center [pic http://hdwallpaperfx.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Anime-Sunset-Alone-in-Darkness-Wallpaper-469x304.jpg]][center [u [i As the story usually goes, there was once a boy, a farmer's son.]]]
[i His mother was stolen away by an illness a farmer's wages could not afford, and was left to a father whose heart had been emptied thereafter, choosing to drown himself in spirits day in and day out. He filled the remaining void with liquor and violence both, unable to look at his own son for fear of seeing his wife in their child's features. So instead, he either beat or ignored his son, allowing him to make a number of helpful observations, even in his dull, illiterate youth.
As he recalled having overheard from their neighbors at the time, he himself was bound to end up in the gutter somewhere, swimming in his father's debts and his mother's broken memory. Nobody was going to help him, save him, or hold his hand, they'd readily said so. It was ugly at home, and Ludlow much preferred things that were beautiful. Shiny things, nice things, warm things.
So, the chubby, tanned, barefooted boy did the first of the strange, innumerable things he would become known for. He [b left]. He didn't sneak out, he didn't sprint down the long dirt road leading into the forest, he didn't duck out behind his father's back. No, Ludlow saw the Sun setting over the trees one day while picking carrots, and decided it might be best to find that place, wherever it was. The place the Sun rested, the land of light and warmth that he'd been yearning for and dreaming of since his mother's passing two years prior.
With a bag of muddy vegetables, a potbellied Ludlow Barnes wandered away from his family's home, never to return.]
[left [pic http://i65.tinypic.com/2im487t.jpg]][b "That is [i by FAR] the ugliest washrag I have ever seen, and I bed scullery maids."]
He said this outright. He wasn't one much for whispering, and he wasn't going to lie and clap, as these clowns were, to save face and kiss ass.
There was quite a bit of staring, though whether it was because of his comment or because of the outburst of sobbing, Guy neither knew nor cared. His brow went up as one of the older, 'refined gentlemen' milling about in the hall approached him with his nose in the air, surely an attempt to stand on equal footing with the almost regal young man leaning against the far wall. In Guy's defense, the sobbing woman in question was easily ten years his senior, not to mention she was wearing one of the ruddiest shades of forest green he'd ever seen. The train was asymmetrical, sloughing off her ashy skin on one side and clinging to the other for dear life. It dug in like an elastic claw in awkward places and it was nearly slipping off of her bosom on the right side, revealing the edges of her corset in an unflattering manner. She was also quite clearly sweating through her dress, as there were dark pools of an even nastier puke green below her armpits, not so well hidden by her mink scarf as she must have thought. Her hair was similarly asymmetrical, looking almost fresh from her bed as her awful, partially loosened bun allowed hair to fly free at every angle. Her gloves were red, and ruffled at the wrist. Crimson as blood, brighter than a carnation. The shoes were blue and pointed at the toe, not unlike an elf slipper.
The entire ensemble spoke for itself.
[i "You dare insult the Lady Celaena's fine display of high fashion?"] the older gentleman huffed, to which Guy sneered, eyes bright. A man with brilliant observational skills, Ludlow missed little, and remembered most everything. What he said next was, to his knowledge, the honest truth. [b "I have seen horse teeth with more charm than that woman's fashion sense."] he deadpanned, catching sight of the royal crest and looking up to see a royal courier as he bowed a bit, trying not to smile at the remark. He noted the parchments in the crook of his arm. [i "Sir, the prince's training has finished. Your father sends his regards, as well."]
The courier turned to leave, and Guy murmured an informal thank you before peeling himself from the wall and stalking away from the group of nobles, ignoring the hushed tones and the whispered insults that followed. Sometimes, he felt as though he were the only realist in the kingdom. Then there was his father to consider.
Oh [i yes].
Kiar Gai'kala, father of the year, the greatest man alive. He reached up, absently running his fingers over the trio of deep scars along his cheek, and eventually over the smaller fourth across his lower lip. Well, at least he'd gotten into the palace, had to count for something, right?
His freckles had gotten him made fun of during his days in the stables, the broken prepubescent hierarchy of stable-page boys getting him into all manner of trouble before his having met Killian, and Kiar! Kiar was a nightmare of a man, were you to ask Ludlow fourteen years ago. He'd made it all the way to Radinata on his own and still hadn't found the warmth, so he'd thought. The other stable boys had parents that worked inside the castle, and none were as strong, freckled, tanned, or as accustomed to actual farm work as he was. His differences got him attacked daily.
Luckily, -or was it unluckily?- Kiar Gai'kala, the current head of the Radinata Royal Vanguard at the time, had taken an interest in his... peculiarities.
The adoptive relationship [u sounded] nice enough, sure, but for Guy, it was like escaping a starving hound and running full blast into a snake's mouth. Kiar was a hard man to deal with, and the training was brutal, but at least some good had come of it. He'd been rejected by Radinata's barracks twice before having been admitted to the palace guard as a new recruit as a favor to his 'father'; He fought oddly, nearly animalistic in his responses to incoming attacks and knowingly guilty of fighting dirty. Even his Ark had claws. All combat was instinctual for Guy, which was ill-advised and supposedly disallowed in a gentlemen's duels, but Guy wasn't a gentleman to begin with. The Vanguard couldn't wait to get their hands on him and his beastly manner, which had worked out well enough.
Clad in the simplistic, shining mail of the Vanguard, a broad specimen of a man with bronzed skin and a perpetual scowl sought out Prince Killian, a friend of many long years and, as of today, his new charge. It was one of the very few things that could put a smile on Guy's face, working alongside one of the only people he cared about. Killian also didn't chew him up for every uncouth comment he made, which made it the perfect friendship in Guy's opinion. A slow grin crept up on his already dark features before vanishing as he caught sight of his white-haired friend, patted on the shoulders and greeted as per Killian's usual cheeriness. Such a relief, considering his mother's having passed. Radinata had felt a little less colorful after she'd been laid to rest, which worried even the more or less stoic Ludlow. More for Killian than for the kingdom itself, but it was still cause for deep concern, nevertheless.
[b "I am [i physically] hurt by the notion that I could only pass for second best as your date to the council ball."] he said with an impressively straight face. A burly arm swung outward unceremoniously, however theatrical as he leaned into a relatively half-assed bow thereafter. [b "After you, your Highness. I'll try to stay awake."]
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