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."]
[h3 [center Early Morning]] Sera's nostrils flared as she struggled to take in enough air. The fight had only just started but she could already tell she was going to be drenched in sweat. While the swords she carried were well balanced they were also three times heavier than the ones that she had used before. Combined with the creepy grins from the dozen brutes surrounding her and she was already beginning to fear for her safety.
[b “Give her no quarter!”] A voice boomed from behind.
She only managed to take in one more deep breath before they lunged at her. A quick thrust from her right sword connected with the first attacker's sternum, while a slash from her left sword to their stomach knocked them out of the fight. A single step allowed her to dodge two attacks from either side while leaving her open to an attack from behind, but with a quick flip of the sword in her left she followed through with a stab to the belly of the attacker behind her and a quick slash to their sternum that knocked them down.
The next attack was sure to be a lethal one as the biggest among them took an overhead swing with his club aimed straight for her head. Sera was faster though as she deflected the swing with her right sword, and quickly stabbed at his sternum with her left. An attack she followed with a downward swing with all of her weight behind it to connect to his hip, an attack that drew sharp gasps from the men that were still standing.
Nine brutes remained and they were smart enough to create some distance to surround her. Sera took the opportunity to take the offensive, and lunged at one at the end of the semicircle they had managed to form. Her right sword was easily knocked away, but it allowed her to connect with a slash from her left to their sternum. Which was quickly followed by a boot to their stomach that sent them into the dirt.
Her offensive maneuver was met by a counterattack from the closest enemy. She sidestepped his lunge though and unleashed two quick slashes to the back that knocked the brute to the ground. An attack that was quickly followed up by a thrust from her right that used her long stride to pierce through another brutes defenses to their sternum. With a second step that allowed her to bring her left sword forward into their gut allowing her to drop another foe to their knees.
Her lunge left her open though and one of the remaining brutes took the opportunity to swing their club into her back. She was quick to attempt to defend herself, but the weight of her weapons took their toll as she was just a bit too slow to intercept the attack. The club connected with her side and dropped her to her hands and knees. Something that was followed up by a stomp on her back that dropped her face into the dirt.
A small groan was heard from the sideline as a lean muscled slightly older red haired woman picked up a simple staff. An act she quickly followed up by lashing out at the six remaining brutes with a terrifying speed. The woman was quick to show off her mastery of the pole arm by making use of the weapons extended reach and variety of attack options. Thanks to her speed each of the six brutes were met with a rapid two strike attack that left them all crumpled on the ground.
Once the brutes were safely out of the way a much older red haired woman appeared and used the tip of a training sword to lift Sera's head up by her chin and locked eyes with her. [b “If this were a real battlefield you would be lucky to just be dead after that,”] the woman said with a firm tone. [b “Do you understand that?”]
Sera wanted to glare at her mentor Rose, but she was distinctly aware of how right the woman was. As royalty she was more likely to be kidnapped or tortured than killed, and even against members of her mentor's former legion she was keenly aware of just how much those brutes wanted to leave their mark on her flesh. She knew because she carried a number of bruises from when they managed to beat her during their training. [b “I understand.”]
[b “Good,”] Rose said before hearing a loud whistle. [b “Looks like that's all for today, go get washed up.”]
Sera struggled to her feet and lumbered her way towards her mentor's house. She made sure to pause to give a nod of gratitude to her personal guard first though, as she knew this would be a difficult arrangement to maintain without her help. While she was not entirely sure why Alanna allowed her to engage in such dangerous behavior she had at least made sure to show that she was appreciative.
Despite the injuries she was quick to get out of her training clothes as she made it to the bath where a young woman was waiting for her. The young woman flushed at the sight of Sera's bruised body, but made sure to speak up about the damage her lady had taken. [b “Do you really have to go through so much?”]
[b “If being brutally beaten by them is what it takes to achieve my dream then it is a small price to pay,”] Sera said as she placed her hand on the woman's cheek. [b “I promise you that it is all going to be worth it.”]
After that Sera quickly went through getting cleaned up so that no one at the castle would know that she had spent so much time rolling around in the dirt. Along with getting changed from the rags that made up her training uniform into clothes more befitting a member of the royal family. While she had a woman there to prepare the bath she did not have the normal number of attendants as she had worked hard to keep her training by Rose a secret.
[h3 [center Current]] Sera strode towards the throne room with a stronger determination than expected for someone just on their way to a meeting. Despite her early morning activities she was perfectly graceful and poised with no hint or sign of having been involved in something so barbaric as sparring with a dozen brutes. She had always done her best to meet the requirements of her position albeit sometimes going a bit sideways to do so, and so she had done her best to keep those activities secret even from her family. Especially as she had taken even more onto her shoulders since her mother passed so as to be a reliable pillar for the kingdom.
Upon making it to the throne room though she slow as she spotted a guard approaching one of the meeting participants. She arrived just in time to overhear a change of plans delivered to the unique looking white haired man. [b “The King has summoned you into the council chambers.”]
Betrayed, that is the best of what had happened to him. It was perhaps the only thing that kept him going was finding the man who brought him to his knees and he would pay. Death was a game to the white haired male, and he often drank from the devil’s cup called life. The man looked out across the land. Its fertile fields gracefully flowing in the light breeze as the rays of the first sunlight shone across them. A lone male figure stood out among a crowd in the walls of Radinata, as he stood in gold armor and a bracelet band he was fidgeting with also made of gold.
[b “Commander the king has summoned you for a meeting.”] with those words the captain looked up to the guardsmen who stood in front of him. [#e18914 “Very well Rulian.”] waving his hand the male looked over the city. Its white beacon has shown brighter as the dawn’s first light brightened up the sky. The vivid red of the pipestone rooftops stood out from across the town. Down below stood the entrance and gate into the city. In the middle of the opening stood a fountain and around the fountain were shops opening. Fresh bread, meat pies, and ales even the smoke from the forge could be smelt in the air.
Anu Candle it was the name whispered across Radinata. Commander to the Southern wall Guards, one of six of them all under the king. Anu had gathered up his things before leaving his post on the wall, however as he moved to step away from the wall events unfolded in front of his eyes. A stranger had walked into the city. Deciding he would keep his eye on this new comer, his clothing was weird, but what drew his eyes was the sword strapped to his back. [#e18914 “Captain I want someone to keep an eye on that man.”] he said pointing at the male in blue and impeccable white clothing.
In response the captain nodded and the commander was off. The king knew that his commander didn’t like meetings, even if it was for details and orders about the guards that would affect the whole kingdom, but perhaps it was because it was only a title for anu, his job was far from being an ordinary City Guard, especially one for the only gate into and out of the city. Walking down the steps of the wall Anu kept one eye on where he was going as to not run into any of the other guards stationed under his command. The other part of his attention was the gathering crowd around the market. It would be hard to keep track of the male with the way things were growing.
As he finished his decent of the stairs Anu stopped by the guard’s station to inform them he would be leaving for the citadel and to keep extra guards patrolling the walls as busy time was approaching; while peaceful Radinata still had the occasional crime happen within the kingdom, and it usually happened when a crowd was around. Stepping around to have the fountain in front of him Anu spotted the curious visitor once again. Watching as events unfolded he was run into by another ark rider who seemed to be in a rush. Bright red hair, black and red clothing, it was no other then Alanna. Perhaps she had woken late, but he had places to be.
Before watching what else happened Anu took the path north towards the center of town carefully avoiding crowds and busy streets, as he was in a bit of a rush himself. Eventually he made it to the citadel gates where he had been stopped for identification. [#e18914 “I am Commander of the Southern Wall Anu Candle.”] Holding up his badge of position the male stepped up to have his face inches away from the guard in front of him. [#e18914 “The king has summoned me, and will not be pleased I am delayed by mere identification formalities.”] The guard grabbed the badge and nodded to move out of the way and allow the male to pass by.
Making his way around the inner Noble Quarters Anu made it to the castle itself and into the throne room, a few misplaced guards, however no king yet shown. That was when a guard came up and put a letter to his hand. [b “The King has summoned you into the council chambers.”]
[center [b [#000080 [font "Lucida Fax" Killian Darnus Milivoj Radius, The First of His Name]]]]
[font "Lucida Fax" The castle Radinata stood out among the kingdom’s city like a bright white beacon. The people looked to it not as a tyrannical fortress, but as a protective watchful gaze like a lioness with her cubs. The alabaster structure with clay-red roofs with stood enemy invasions for centuries, never leaving its people to suffer. The front bronze gates remained open for all its citizens with a warm welcome from the High Tower in the center of the palace. Neither a storm nor an encroaching army of thousands could destroy this monument home of seven Ark Riders and their impressive machines. At least, that is what the Radinata’s civilians have come to understand. The kingdom’s streets remained relatively peaceful with King Darnus in rule. Even with the happy chatter and the busy roaming of the people down below, inside the castle was a silent mourning for the late Queen Lunarus. Adore by all and a beloved mother of three. Her presence has been missed this past year and it appeared the castle itself wept for her as some clouds pronounced the shadows on the architecture.] [right [pic http://fotos.fotoflexer.com/f04354dde021ff3439d037e6f355a460.jpg]]
[font "Lucida Fax" The silence was broken from the castle as fighting erupted in one of the palace’s courtyards. In the center surrounded by men with swords stood a young man with hair whiter than his blanched shirt. His porcelain complexion dripped with sweat as he panted. In a fighting stance, the man’s soul-piercing blue eyes remained vigilant to the men encircling him. He wore navy colored baggy pants with a golden sash tied around his waist. A long wooden staff was held firm in black gloved hands. The men surrounding him wore similar attire but with red or blue sashes at the waists. All were brandishing steel swords or daggers defensively. There was a long pause before they all charged in at once.]
[font "Lucida Fax" The morning sun glinted off the blades that lunged and slashed and jabbed. All attempts cut and sliced the air and nothing else. The white-haired man pivoted in his stance, dodging each strike with ease. His body was becoming a blade of grass in wind as his torso bent and lurched with impossible speed. The staff was lifted behind his head and horizontally blocked a blow from the back. A smirk grew on his face as he turned his head slightly to speak. [#000080 [b “That was cheap.”]] A modulated voice quipped. At blinding speed, the staff lifted again shoving the blade up and whirled around several times. The blunt end of the wood jabbed square in the center of the other man’s chest and sent him flying into the straw dummies meant for sword practice.]
[font "Lucida Fax" All the men stopped in place and stared after their fellow comrade with slacked jaws. A groaning and a grunt erupted from the destroyed piles of straw as the fallen man sat up with a gruff voice that said. “Well done your highness.” In that instance, everyone erupted into laughter as some men patted that white-haired prince on the back as two others went to go help their friend up.]
[font "Lucida Fax" Prince Killian chuckled as he went over to the fallen man to see if he was alright. [b [#000080 “Sorry to hit you so hard Brom.”]] The prince extended a hand out to the guardsman.]
[font "Lucida Fax" The man simply cracked his back and shook the hand before him. “Not a problem, sire. I shouldn’t have let my guard down.” He grinned as he rubbed his back painfully.]
[font "Lucida Fax" The prince nodded with a smile. [b [#000080 “Well see to yourself to the infirmary. I can’t have one of my best guards down on the job, eh?”]] He said cheerfully as he patted the man on the shoulder. [b [#000080 “I think practice is over for the day, lads. Everyone, go rest up.”]] He declared as he graciously gave his staff to a servant that was in charge with clean up. He grabbed a towel that was neatly placed on a half wall for him to wipe his face and neck. They had all been practicing for about an hour now. He didn’t want to wear the men down too much else they’ll be too tired for tomorrow morning’s session. Glancing up at the courtyard’s clock, Killian estimated that he had enough time to freshen up before the meeting located in the throne room. A small feeling in his stomach left him with a foreboding sensation.]
[font "Lucida Fax" After cleaning up, Killian dressed in his stately attire with the kingdom’s color of blue material, white accents and a black overcoat. It was supposed to be the latest in the kingdoms' fashion. A ceremonial sword strapped to his hip as per custom, however, his main weapon of choice as metallic staff. This was all for show. It was the work uniform of a prince that was requested to make an appearance at a meeting in the throne room. No matter how much he disliked wearing flamboyant garments, he had to look the part. The women of the castle don’t seem to mind though. He was aware of the whispers about his appearance behind his back, the great Prince Killian with his handsome features and suave presence swooned many beautiful girls his way in the past. Since his mother’s death, the late Queen Lunarus, Killian’s childish and seductive behaviors were put behind him as he matured for his father. His kingdom needed him now, and he rose to the occasion as a strong and compassionate Prince.]
[font "Lucida Fax" A loud knock on the large doors made the Prince turn his head to the doorway to his bed chamber. The steel hue in his eyes shimmered with curiosity as he nonchalantly approached the doors. Upon opening them, Killian was shocked to see a familiar, and still a bit smug, face. [b [#000080 “Guy Gai’kala, you clever bastard, what took you so long?”]] The Prince greeted the brunet male with a grin and open arms. The man before him was almost the same height as Killian but much bulkier in body frame. [b [#000080 “Good to see that the Vanguard has treated you well, old friend.”]] Killian smacked the armored man on the shoulders. Guy Gai’kala was the prince’s newest appointed bodyguard. The latest one, Hutch Dodson retired at the age of fifty-seven. Killian personally picked his childhood friend Guy to replace him since the young man had completed his elite military training in the Vanguard. It was perfect for the young royal. He joked that no one else would put up with him as much as his best friend. [b [#000080 “You’re just in time, I’m about to attend a meeting.”]] He said while ushering his friend to follow him. [b [#000080 “Maybe with you by my side, the meetings won’t be so dull. Father was supposed to walk with me, but I guess you will do.”]] The pearly haired man chuckled.]
[h3 In a far off land...]
...known as the wastelands, in the depths of the Earth, a brown haired man stands upon a stone altar. The altar resides in a large room that can hardly be seen due to the endless darkness that fills the room. However, even the darkness, strange symbols can be seen written on the walls. The man stands there beaten and battered, his clothes in tatters and are beginning to be stained by his own blood. Drops of blood run down his face like crimson tears as the coldness of the room brushes against his skin. His sky blue eyes look down upon a sword that impales the surface of the altar he stands on. The azure blade glistens and glows, piercing the darkness with its radiant form.
The man pants weakly as the room suddenly trembles violently. The sounds of explosions can be heard off in the far off distance. Bits of earth and rock fall from the ceiling as the vibrations of the room travel throughout the man’s body. The man looks up in front of him to see that the wall behind the sword is actually a large stone obelisk. The obelisk is in the shape of the top half of armor and the eyes of the armors helm pier down at the sword. The man could faintly see two large stone hands hovering by the sides of the altar.
"That little rat is just on the other side of these doors! Bust it down so we can finish off the trash, and claim the Emperor's treasure!" A man shouts from the other side of the stone doors.
The man places his right hand over the crest on his left shoulder plate. The crest is stained in blood, but yet its azure color remains true. He clenches the shoulder plate tighter and grits his teeth. [b "We are to close to die here. We were only one step away from achieving everything we worked for,"] The man says as his vision becomes a bit blurry and he reaches his right hand out toward the hilt of the sword before him. [b "I won't let it end here. I won't let them simply be erased,"] He says in a determined tone as he grips the hilt with his right hand. [b "I will get out of here, and I will finish what we started!"]
The man grips the hilt of the sword with both of his hands, and squeezes the hilt tightly within his grasp. [b "I will carry them the rest of the way by bearing 'their' name!"] The man shouts out as the sword begins to glow. He grits his teeth in pain as blue pathways of energy travel up along his skin. The pain he feels surges throughout his body as his eyes glow blue. The sword glows brighter and brighter as the man shouts in agonizing pain.
A glowing light consumes the entirety of the room and at the core of this glowing light is a voice that says one simple statement.
[i Host Acknowledged.]
[h3 One Year later...]
... an elderly fifty five year old man walks along a brick path. His white mane flows with the gentle breeze that brushes by. Surrounding him is a sea of flowers as he limps along with a cane in his right hand. His right leg has three metal rings wrapped around it as he almost drags his leg along with each step. The man stands tall and holds a strong stance despite his weak frail looking form. The man finds a stone bench and sits on the seat as he looks out at the flowers before him. He strokes his beard with his left hand as he goes deep into thought.
[b "It's another peaceful day Lunarus,"] The man says in a content tone as he rests both of his hands on the top of his wooden cane.
"Your majesty, King Darnus!" A man calls out.
Darnus looks into the direction of the young man and strokes his beard with his left hand. He quirks a brow as his deep sea blue eyes fall upon the man.
"The Young Master and Mistresses are wondering where you went," The man says as he pants.
Darnus sighs and replies, [b "Well keep it a secret from them my young lad. My children can be worrywarts simply because I am old."]
"But sir," The man is interrupted as King Darnus pats his head.
[b "Off you go young man. I would like to have a little more time with my wife,"] King Darnus says with a gentle, but sad smile.
The man simply nods as he seems to show a bit of sadness as well. The man runs off as he leaves the King in the Royal Garden.
King Darnus chuckles as he watches the man run off. He looks up at the sky and says, [b "Our children have become quite nosy. Ever since you passed a year ago, they have been treating me like a fragile old man."] Darnus smiles and closes his eyes, [b "The castle has become to quiet without you here, my dear Queen Lunarus."]
... a young man that goes by the name of Azure has just entered the lively Kingdom of Radinata. The young man wears a blue trench coat and a white overcoat with matching pants and undershirt. On his left shoulder he dawns a prominent winged crest. On his back is mounted a sword shaped object that is wrapped entirely in bandages except for its hilt.
Azure quirks a brow as he stares at the scenery before him. He is at a plaza known as the Bazaar, where most of the public traffic of Radinata travels through for most of the day. The plaza is encircled by impressive stone structures and at the center of the plaza is a large beautiful decorated fountain. A lot of people walk around the bazaar, visiting the stalls and walking into the shops that encompass the lively place.
[i 'This place sure is peaceful,'] Azure thinks to himself as he looks around. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out two golden Gil coins. [b "Time to find a place to get a drink,"] Azure says to himself as he walks off to find a tavern or somewhere that had alcohol.
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