• You don't like snow? Turn it off here:

The Tiran Wars: Liberty, at all Costs


With a look of pure joy upon her face Lucy would throw her arms about Joshua in a display of gratitude that was far more than the situation really warranted causing a scowling Mei to mutter something about some people being far too pretty for their own good! In Jehennan as she continued to stroke Gwyll's soft, golden hair.

Ignorant of the jealous mood she was prompting in the other woman Lucy would break off her embrace before hurriedly scratching out the words FORBIDDEN CITY into the dirt, snapping her stick twice in her haste to get her message across to the man she was certain would help her save Daner from whatever fate had befallen him at the hands of...Him. Cruel, sadistic laughter suddenly filled her head as the Smiling man that had imprisoned them mercilessly ripped her fingernails free with a pair of pliers as she begged him to stop. Squeezing her eyes shut she placed her hands over her ears in an attempt to block out the sounds of manic laughter and her own agonised screams as they filled her head, though not a sound would pass her lips as she did so, and although the episode couldn't have lasted any more than a minute or two it felt like hours to the now trembling girl.

Offering Joshua a rather weak smile in way of an apology she would simply tap her original message with a hopeful look on her face that was simply heartbreaking to behold prompting you to wonder what horrors must be lurking within the poor girls head and the evil that had placed them there.

You had to fall in love with a pretty man didn't you? A man so beautiful that every girl he encounters throw themselves at him! Mei silently grumbled as she watched the blonde half-breed embrace the man of her dreams Just wait until I'm his wife, then I'll... cut off mid rant with a very audible yelp Mei would find herself cradling the head of a rather large wolf within her lap, with Gwyll having seemingly decided to change forms without telling her "Gwyll!? Don't do that you scared the life out of me!" Mei exclaimed in a shocked voice as she unconsciously proceeded to scratch the shifter behind the ear, only stopping when she heard the rather unfriendly growls coming from deep within her throat "Gwyll...what....w-what’s the matter? I...I..." suddenly conscious of how large Gwyll's wolf form was and the fact that her legs were firmly pinned in place by its body Mei began to grow increasingly scared of what would happen if her friend was to turn on her for whatever reason "J-Joshua...p-p-please...h-help m-m-me...." Mei whimpered in a terrified whimper as she slowly raised a single, quaking hand praying that she wouldn’t be forced to defend herself. Being forced to kill her own friend so soon after saving her life would be simply cruel and she didn’t think she would be able to withstand such a blow “p-please G-Gwyll…I….I’m s-sorry…”

"What Bow!? I haven't got a bow, they stole it from me remember!" Alia screamed, drawing the large curved kukri from the sheath on her thigh whilst trying her best to keep up with the others as they fled towards the bridge, arriving just as the first of the creatures scrambled up onto the path in front of them.

Adorned in dried blood and tiny bones the vile, emaciated creatures snarled at the approaching heroes revealing sharp yellowing teeth set within dark, almost black gums in stark contrast to their albino-esque skin and yellow eyes.

Armed with a motley collection of flint spears, axes and clubs they showed no fear in charging down the narrow path towards the larger and better armed mercenaries, brandishing large oval shields made from some kind of hide and decorated with tribal patterns as they moved with alarming speed.

Gracefully stepping in front of Daner in order to block the path of one of the creatures intent on bashing in his skull with a club, Alia would neatly remove one of the creatures hands with the heavy blade before elegantly reversing the swing to open it’s throat
“There…now we're even thief!” she intoned in a regal voice as the thing before her crumpled to the ground, yet the look in her eyes and the smile on her lips gave the title Thief more of a joking quality to it as opposed to the insult it had been before.

With yet more of the creatures blocking their path and intent on their destruction they would be forced to drop Tywin in order to defend themselves. The large Tiranian mercenary using his size and the creatures own momentum to hurl it over his shoulder and screaming over the side of the cliff as Taranis meanwhile duelled with another. The Soldevi tribesman’s spear darting out to open several deep wounds into his opponents flesh before beating it down with a single blow of his buckler
“I hate goblins” he muttered in his low whispering voice, naming the creatures attacking them as he presented the crude bow and arrows that the thing had been carrying to Alia “That…is not…a bow” she stated in obvious disgust at the warped and crooked piece of wood she had been given, not that it stopped her from looping the quiver of flint arrows over her shoulder and notching another in preparation to shoot.

The skirmish in front of the bridge had taken no more than a few minutes yet it had given the goblins behind them more than enough time to climb onto the path behind and close the gap between them. Even with the way ahead of them now clear it would be touch and go as to whether they would be able to cross the rickety bridge and make the exit before they were over run and killed… or even worse, captured. Some fates simply didn’t bear thinking about.

Lord Regal

Well-Known Member
Joshua had to steady himself to prevent from being bowled over as Lucy hugged him, though before long she was back scrawling at the dirt. The name of the capital of Khitai was soon etched into the ground, which meant that the thief had gotten himself trapped in the heart of enemy territory. That meant a single rescue attempt wouldn't be successful. Instead, they'd need to push the main assault, which was problematic in its own right, but nonetheless it was the only solution. It was then that Mei started calling for him, and on looking over he saw his fiancee pinned underneath Gwyll, who had taken a wolf form, growling off to the side. He hurried over, hand on his sword. "Mei, it's ok, her focus isn't you. She thinks there's a threat, her attention's wholly focused on it. Here..." With a little effort he shifted the wolf off of the mage, helping her to her feet. "Stay on your guard though, she's acting like there's something there, and she's never been wrong before." He drew Audhulma, peering into the trees. He couldn't see anything, but damned if he was going to let anything get the better of them after they'd just gone through the effort of getting everyone together and at least relatively healthy.


Daner’s mind was whirring. He should be panicking right now, he should be sobbing on the floor crying, having given up and accepted their deaths. The Daner from four/five months ago would have. He would have ended sprawled out on the floor, probably having thrown himself to his death rather than face the horrible fate that the hands of the goblin creatures promised him. Yet, as the duelling knives weighed in his hands, a calm expression had settled over Daner’s face. A quiet part of himself noted the change, and sensed an approving feeling from Brahmoth. They would survive this, find Joshua and the rest of the rebellion, and save Lucy. Those tasks, however, had to be done in order. Daner’s eyes scanned the room again, appraising the situation, the fastest way out. His voice taking on an authoritative tone, he barked out a set of orders. “Taranis, you’re the strongest, support Tywin, carry him if you have to, just get him out of here as fast as possible. Alia, lead the way, and shoot whichever orcs are nearest to the top of the cliffs on the other side of the bridge. I’ll stay here and hold the ones that get up this side, it’s a funnel, so I can stop them easily overwhelming me, to buy you guys some peace and quiet. Once you’re all across and moving, I’ll come across and drop the bridge as I do, they shouldn’t be able to jump it, so that’ll buy us some more time. If I get overwhelmed, you just go, we’re not heroes and if we don’t all make it out of here alive, that’s okay. That said, I have no plans on dying today and we don’t have time to argue. Move!”

Gwyll continued to paw the dirt in front of her as she growled, before the sudden shifting sensation reminded her that she’d been on top of Mei. Lying prone, ready to pounce should she need it, the growling increased as the smell grew stronger. Watching Joshua prepare for what it was, she pined for a second to grab his attention, and then with her front paws, dug at the ground and growled into it.


With the goblins surging down the narrow path towards them the group automatically started responding to Daner's instructions with Alia already heading towards the bridge; skilfully shooting her bow as she went as Taranis moved towards Tywin with the large mercenary shooting the tribesman a look before speaking to Daner "It's a grand plan lad, it just needs one slight alteration" with the friendly smile still on his face Tywin's fist lashed out to strike the young thief between the eyes sending stars shooting across his vision "Get him out of here Taranis this is warriors work!" Tywins voice barked as Taranis looped an arm around the stunned Daner and hauled him away towards the bridge.

With his back to the bridge Daner would be able to watch as Tywin took up his stance blocking the goblins path and gripping his sword in both hands as he swept it towards them in a low flat arc that shattered their front rank allowing him to take a single step back and then strike again. Even with what was most likely a broken ankle the man was a brute; excelling at the singular task of battering his enemy into submission without any need for skill or finesse
"Get out of here Daner, Live! Save the girl! Save the world!" he bellowed lunging forward to spit a goblin upon his blade before effortlessly flicking it's corpse over the cliffs edge.

With his wits having sufficiently returned to him upon reaching the bridge Daner would note that Alia was already halfway across; pausing on the unsteady surface to send an arrow whistling past his cheek to strike a goblin as it tried to pass Tywin
"Come on! I can't cover Tywin's retreat with you on that side of the bridge!" Alia desperately called racing to the end of the bridge before notching another arrow. By this point the goblins had grown wary of the large human allowing Tywin to pick up his pace with Alia's bow picking off many of those that tried to reach him. The plan was working; they were going to all get out of here. They were all going to live.

Scrambling away as quickly as she could Mei moved to stand beside Joshua, casting a fearful look at the still growling Gwyll "Th-that's easy f-for you to s-say...she's b-bigger than I am in that f-form" Mei stammered, though from the way Gwyll was acting Joshua was right in that her attention and therefore her anger was elsewhere.

Scanning the trees around her Mei was none the wiser to what possible threat there could be but did as Joshua suggested and prepared herself; sending liquid fire streaming down her arms to stop at her elbows with her beautiful hazel eyes turning electric blue and her voice taking on a metallic tinge as she quietly chanted the necessary arcane words.

Having noted the way the two newcomers were acting it didn't take Lucy long to realise that trouble was on its way and that she would most likely have to get involved so as to defend Sync and Glasya who were both out for the count. Tugging at Joshua's sleeve in order to get his attention Lucy would point at Audhulma and then at her empty hand before then repeating the gesture, clearly hoping that he would understand what she was asking of him "why does the girl not speak?" Mei asked in a strange tinny voice prompting Lucy to glare at her before trying her pantomime again, this time pointing to Audhulma, then holding her hands about a foot apart and then pointing to her empty hand which she then clenched into a fist. It was obvious that it all meant something but what it was would obviously take a little bit of thought on their part.

Lord Regal

Well-Known Member
Despite being worried about Gwyll still, Mei rose and readied herself for whatever kind of enemy was approaching. Joshua kept alert, until Lucy started tugging on his arm. Her pantomime was somewhat confusing, and the Swordmaster frowned while thinking about what she was asking, Mei expressing mild frustration about their new companion’s mute nature. “I think she wants a dagger...if I’m guessing right, anyway?” He shrugged and looked over at his fiancée. “I don’t have another blade outside Audhulma, I don’t suppose you have any backup weapon?” He frowned, attempting to think of a workaround as unless Mei had changed her habits he didn’t remember her ever carrying a conventional weapon. Looking over at Lucy, he grimaced apologetically. “If we’re fighting people, try to find something on one of them. We’ll keep you safe in the meantime. If you do find something, keep Sync and Glasya safe. Looks like they’re both pretty much spent.” The tension was getting palpable in their small camp. What had Gwyll detected, and why was it taking so long for it to show itself?


At Joshua's suggestion that she was asking for a dagger, Lucy would nod her head enthusiastically, clearly thrilled that he'd understood what she'd been trying to say though the look on her face quickly turned to that of disappointment when he said he didn't carry another blade before then asking the young Khitai girl; Mei if she did "why would I need a weapon?" Mei responded with a puzzled look on her face as fire continued to flicker and twist about her arms "Why doesn't she use the Way of the Open Hand like everyone else? Or is hybrid girl from city and didn't bother to learn?" Mei asked in a voice that hinted that not knowing the local form of martial arts was the height of stupidity, prompting Lucy to glare at her with such ferocity that she looked ready to launch herself at Mei despite the flames dancing about her arms. Catching sight of the look on Lucy's face Mei's own eyes would narrow as she spoke in an icy voice made worse by the metallic tinge it currently held "don't be stupid, I'd burn you alive before you even got close...here you can use this" Mei threatened before reaching into her bag and producing a small bladed knife which she handed to Lucy "I use it for cutting herbs so it isn't particularly sharp but it's all I've got" Mei said as Lucy turned the knife over in her hands with a disgusted look on her face, clearly unimpressed with the rather poor excuse of a weapon she’d been given to defend herself with, though with nothing else on offer it would have to do. The next challenge would be figuring out how to fight in this stupid dress that Glasya had given her!

As the three of them continued to wait for the mystery enemy to show itself the tension would likewise grow with Mei muttering irritably to herself "Whatever it is had better hurry up...I can't hold this forever!"


Daniel was being quite a bit more vicious than normal. It was possible that he had already found out about Red's liaison with Loolayannie. He definitely believed that there was something going on between the two, though Red couldn't be certain about how much evidence he actually had, if any. His extent of knowledge would have to be thoroughly investigated, though that was a task that would have to be completed on Red's free time, limited as it was at the moment. Red was currently the head administrator of the camp, which consumed quite a bit of time. Combined with the current mission against the unknown force of Northerners and the lessons with Loolayannie over science and magic, there wouldn't be much time to personally investigate Daniel. However, there probably wasn't anyone who could reliably do the job besides Red. Unless if there was anyone who could perfectly disguise themselves, turn themselves esentually invisible. Gwyll was the closest match to that requirment. Her shapeshifting capabilities might prove her capable of the task, if she could be trusted with these secrets. Red would have to investigate that possibility when the expeditionary group returned from their rescue mission. For now, Daniel would have to be kept in check, somehow. Red would have to convene with the rest of the strike team to figure out a solution to this problem, though it was possible that he'd give up the act after a couple of days before he turned his attention to somebody else.

Loolayannie was understandably concerned, however, by Daniel's nearly constant ribbing. She wasn't nearly as used to his style of humor as Red was, though it did take quite a long time to come to terms with humor as crude as his was. "I know the reference not," Red responded to Loolayannie's question about Daniel's name calling. "I believe treacle a zucherteere to be. I understand its human connection not." Red leaned down to hear what Loolayannie was whispering. Apparently it was such a secret that nobody but Red was intented to know. She was understandably concerned that Daniel had already figured out about their secret relationship. Considering the time that had passed since this relationship was established, and the fact that Red was definitely a better tracker than Daniel, it was nearly impossible for him to have proof of anything, much less actually know about any relationships. "He knows not," Red whispered back, then spoke out loud enough for the entire group to hear. "The Northerners will defeat to receive. I guarantee this. We will a cause for Feier to have. I will permit these countrymen free reign not." Red had a sense of national pride to defeat these Northmen, though whether it was because Mauranger was its own country in everything but name bordering upon the rest of the Northlands, or if it was because Red was still technically a Northerner herself, Mauranger's independence never officially acknowledged by the Northern capital of Stadt Kristiana didn't really matter. She wanted them removed from this operational area, although it might turn out that they had valuable information about how an army of Steintøysoldaten was able to destroy the world's center of science in her most rapid period of advancement. Red would find the reason behind this completely unprovoked attack in a war that nobody in Mauranger even knew existed until they were all slaughtered in cold blood by unthinking automata.


“It means she’s sweet!” Daniel called across the campfire to Red; rolling his eyes at what he’d thought was a rather obvious pet name for Leilani “Gods Iceman we really need to improve your Tiranian” he then groaned, clearly more annoyed about the fact that Red hadn’t understood the joke rather than any desire to improve his CO’s grasp of the language, however it was just as Daniel was opening his mouth to say something more on the subject that Leilani interrupted with a cheerful smile on her face “You thinking me sweet? That nicest thing you saying to me Dan-yell, you no being so mean after all!” she said smiling from ear to ear. Such was the girl’s obvious joy at having been befriended by Daniel that the mercenary in question simply gaped at her clearly unable to find the words or the heart to tell her otherwise.

It was during this intermission that Arnold quickly stepped in before Daniel had chance to ruin the moment
“We tracked the Northmen to around this point here…” he said jabbing the blunt end of his fork at a point on the map he’d spread out before them “…therefore we reckon they should be camped out somewhere within this region…you’ll also be glad to know that they’re not Maurangerian, They’re mostly Vanir with a couple of Jotun mixed in for variety” he stated whilst circling an area to the east of the village they’d investigated the previous evening.

It was from the Vanir that Oak Village had originally seceded from, though the remoteness of the Oak Village compared to the rest of the tribe’s settlements had meant that they’d never been too concerned about the loss. The Jotun meanwhile were from the frozen north, far beyond the lands of both the Vanir and Aesir, whom Joshua and his friends had visited during their time with Thorin, and were rumoured to have giant’s blood within their heritage resulting in their larger than average size and ferocity in battle along with several less savoury tendencies
“…We would have told you all this last night only you weren’t at the camp when we returned” Arnold explained quickly followed by Daniel who had seemingly found his tongue again “Edward told us he’d last seen you talking with Treacle here so we went to her tent to get you only to hear somebody really enjoying themselves” he said turning to look at Leilani with a leering smile, whilst simultaneously answering the question of how they’d learned that she and Red were together. A brief look of confusion would appear on the young girl’s face only to be swiftly replaced by a horrified gasp and an accusing look thrown in Red’s direction as she tried to resist the urge to shout, that wasn’t me that was her! As the trio of mercenaries quietly chuckled to themselves.

With the game now well and truly up Leilani would slip an arm about Red’s waist and gently rest her head against her shoulder, scowling at Daniel and the others as she did so “I liking Red very much, who I having in bed none of your business Dan-yell!” she said prompting another bout of laughter from the mercenaries
“Of course it isn’t, we’re sorry” Edward started trying his best to keep a straight face as he said it “…it’s just that we never expected Iceman here to be the one sneaking off with a girl as he’s never shown any interest in the fairer sex before…but enough of that, Red how do you want us to deal with the Vanir?”

With Daner and Taranis more than half way across the bridge Tywin would make a break for it, turning his back on the goblins so as to run, or at least quickly hobble, towards the wooden, rope bridge as Alia continued to cover his retreat, though the goblins seemed far too wary to pursue the giant warrior despite still having the numbers to overpower him. With only a rickety rope bridge separating them from their freedom from this accursed place it would appear that they would all survive this day with a new harrowing tale to tell around a campfire one night dark winters night, yet fate it would seem had different plans in store for them.

The air before Tywin seemed to split as if it had been cut open by a giant invisible knife producing a single strip of darkness from out of which stepped the hooded man they’d seen far below, his frail form the only thing separating Tywin from his freedom. With a bellow of rage Tywin hefted his sword and swung it in an arc that would have removed the figures head with a single blow, only the blow never came. Raising a single hand out towards the warrior, Daner and the others had no choice but to helplessly watch as a flash of light came from out of the hooded mans palm to blow a hole the size of a dinner plate into Tywin’s stomach. A confused look briefly appeared on the warriors face before he tumbled over the cliffs edge into the yawning abyss below, a single agonising scream from Alia signalling the end of his life.

With the large mercenary dead the goblins once again found their courage and charged towards them, flowing around the hooded mage like a rock in a stream as they sought to destroy the intruders. Sensing their impending death’s Taranis would all but sprint across the bridge, dragging Daner with him if he had to, as the goblin war drums continued to beat louder and louder within the darkness of the cavern.

Upon reaching the other side the tribesman would attack the ropes supporting the bridge with the blade of his short, stabbing spear, the ancient rope giving way with an audible snap that sent the bridge twisting round on itself and sending several of the goblins upon its surface spilling down into the darkness below. However with arrows beginning to rain down upon them it would be foolish to try and do any more damage to the bridge, and although it wouldn’t stop them it would buy them more than enough time to get outside, and so with a sobbing Alia supported between them the trio would exit the cave and step out into the jungles of Khitai.

“There! Do you hear that?” Mei said breaking the silence that had slowly enveloped the trio as they quietly waited for whatever threat Gwyll had sensed to appear. Cocking her head slightly to one side Lucy would turn to look at Mei nodding her head to show that she too had heard the muffled sound of drumming coming from somewhere close by.

Holding her feeble weapon ready to strike the silent thief would slowly inch her way forward into the jungle closely followed by Mei whose fingers still crackled with magical flames.

Ruined cities and temples littered the dense jungles of Khitai, the remnants of the once mighty civilisations that had covered this land only to be lost to time and the jungle. It was as they were edging forward that it would become clear that they had stumbled upon one such ruin with the uniform outlines of low walls and what once may have been streets emerging from out of the dense foliage, with the sound of drumming growing louder the deeper into the ruins they ventured.

The sudden sound of stone grating upon stone followed by a loud crash would send Mei whirling round to hurl a blast of arcane fire exploding against a chunk of masonry missing the three figures that had just emerged from the hole they’d created by mere inches followed by a furious cry from the young mage “Gods damn it Daner! I nearly killed you…and what in the name of the gods are you doing here?”


As Gwyll followed the others into the forest in wolf form, the smell grew stronger and her growling increased, her hackles raised in anticipation whatever was coming. The closer they got though, Gwyll also smelt something… different within the repugnant smell, something… human. They continued through the ruins when suddenly a shower of rock appeared and from it three figures, narrowly missed by a ball of fire from Mei. They were the humans that Gwyll had smelt, but behind them lay… death.

Daner watched in horror as the hooded figure appeared on the bridge, dealing two successive blows to Tywin that led to the man tumbling into the bridge. Taranis set off at a run and Daner, knowing that there was nothing they could do now, followed. The two hacked at the ropes of the bridge. Taranis was first up the rope ladder, followed by Alia who Daner passed up, and then finally he fled himself, arrows hissing past his ears as he did. Seeing the wall of the ruin, carved with some form of arcane symbol, Daner hit it and the wall slid open to reveal a sprawling jungle ruins and the whooshing sound of a fireball as it exploded to the right of the group’s heads. As a familiar voice came out from behind the smoke Daner’s jaw fell open. “Mei? What are you… There’s not time for that!” Motion for Taranis to get Alia out of the way, Daner knelt at the hole in the ground he had just climbed up from. He had mere seconds before the goblins reached the ladder and they had no hope of stemming the tide, so many were their numbers. Closing his eyes, Daner focused, letting Brahmoth slip into his hands, sensing the magic in the air, the magic all around him. He placed his hands at the front of the hole and then slowly began to drag them across, the earth producing a wall of solid dirt over the hole, about half a metre thick. Daner’s body shivered at the amount of energy he was using and he could feel the sweat running from his brow as he struggled to use even a basic earth manipulation spell. Ability and ease would come with time, but Daner didn’t exactly have much of that right now. As his hands reached the other side of the hole, leaving a solid patch of ground where the hole had been five seconds earlier, he stood up, his head woozy from the mental exhaustion. That’s it, that’s it, slowly now lad. Deep breaths, you need to let your body recover. As Daner staggered out from the door, the stone doorway seemingly sensing his exit and beginning to close behind him, he saw Mei and… “Lucy?” His voice was hoarse and his mind still unsteady but he was sure of it. That was… it was… Exhaustion overcoming him, Daner collapsed to his knees, his legs seizing up from tiredness. “I really wanted this... to be cooler” he chuckled, the tiredness apparent in his voice “but I’m going to need some help with the whole walking thing. Don't exactly have much magical... stamina yet."


"You're going to have one hell of a headache coming your way" Mei stated with an amused smile as she dispelled her flames with a casual waving of her arms, quietly wondering at what point Daner had picked up his new found magical abilities. She had been about to make a comment on already having an apprentice and not having the time to train him properly only by this point Lucy had already ran up to him and wrapped her arms about him in an embrace clearly over the moon to see him though it also quickly became apparent that he was in trouble for something as she suddenly moved away from him to deliver a stinging slap to his face. After jabbing a finger into his chest Lucy would then point over the horizon as her lips silently moved at a pace that made them difficult to read as she delivered her mute scolding, though from the way she wrapped her arms back around him in another embrace he wasn't in that much trouble.

It was as Lucy and Daner were having their reunion that Taranis would carefully lead a tearful Alia over to meet the rest of the group with the sight of Daner embracing the heavily scarred Lucy doing little to improve her mood "I am Taranis and this is Alia, it is a pleasure to meet a friend of Daner's" Taranis said offering Mei a slight bowing of his head that made her wince. Although it was merely a mark of respect within his culture Mei couldn't help but be reminded of the fact that her upcoming marriage to Joshua would be closely followed by her coronation as Queen of Jehenna, something that she still wasn't particularly looking forward to "A pleasure to meet you both, I am Sun Mei and this is my fiancee..."

"Joshua Jehan" Alia breathed her eyes locking onto those of Joshua's as if she meant to bore a hole into the middle of his skull simply by looking at him, and although it would take him a few moments to recognise the startlingly beautiful Jehennan girl, her full name would eventually spring to the fore of his mind.

"Joshua you are being silly, Alia and Tali are nice girls and are from a rather prominent family...besides it would be good for you to have friends your own age" Queen Ismaire patiently spoke to her twelve year old son Joshua whom she'd just had to retrieve from his hiding place within the stables with the boy making a sullen reply "it will only be for a couple of hours whilst their father and I conduct some business...besides you may find you like them, I hear Alia is very pretty" she continued giving a tiny smile in response to his blushing.

Stepping into one of the many walled gardens that dotted the palace Joshua would find himself being introduced to a pair of pretty girls a few years younger than himself; their long dark hair braided so that it hung as a single thick rope down to their waists, with them wearing matching pale blue dresses. No sooner had the three of them been left alone the younger of the two girls would whisper into her sister's ear prompting them both to start giggling "Tali say's you have pretty eyes" Alia spoke before giggling some more at his glowing red cheeks "come on, lets do something fun!"

And it was just like that that Joshua realised that he was standing in front of the same girl that had told him that her sister thought he had pretty eyes all those years ago; Alia Silvertongue. However before he had chance to react to this unexpected reunion with the girl he'd later learned had been intended as his bride, Alia was screaming at him at the top of her lungs "MURDERER!" as she ripped the Kukri free of its sheath and launched herself at him with murder in mind.

Lord Regal

Well-Known Member
The "attack" wound up to be Daner, which was more than a little confusing for Joshua...after all, wasn't he supposed to be in the Forbidden City? Not that he was going to complain of course, as this meant their supposed rescue mission was no longer needed. It was when he moved to examine the thief's companions that things did a drastic turnaround. A rather striking Jehannan woman glared at him as Mei introduced them both, finishing her sentence and naming him. His stomach fell as he recognized her, and he barely had time to draw Audhulma before she was on him. He danced backwards, blocking her strikes and making no effort to deliver his own. "Kraemen Kayle Alia, stop it!" he shouted in Jehannan. "They tried to kill me first!" His protests came between blows, scowling as he went. "And I didn't authorize the rest, that was done without my knowledge! I was furious when I found out...that's not how I want things to be run! Knock it off and we can talk about this like civilized people! Cut it out! STOP!"

On his last word, Audhulma flared with sudden light and both combatants were frozen in place, though their heads could still move freely. "Wh...oh Kist..." the Swordmaster muttered as he realized that his sword had tried to intervene, though somewhat misinterpreting his desires...as usual... "Sorry, I didn't think that would happen...now please. Calm down. I didn't want what happened. The first part...that was in self defense. Your...uncle, I think he was? Ordered the attack and your cousin followed it through. The others...I ordered it to stop as soon as I found out. I was busy training the army so we wouldn't be defenseless when I left, and the regent...took some liberties he shouldn't have. I demanded he stop at once when word got around to me. I'm sorry, truly, I am. You know me about as well as anyone from back home from when we were left while the adults talked...when have I ever willingly inflicted pain on others?" Joshua grimaced a little, his muscles straining in the position he was locked into. "Now can you please at least promise to not keep trying to kill me so my kraemen sword lets us go? I'm not-" he was cut off as the force holding them in place ended as abrupt as it had began. Joshua hurriedly attempted to recover, moving backwards a few steps, sword still ready in case she pressed the attack further. “Come on, Alia, we don’t need to fight...”


With her attacks driven more by blind rage than any form of skill or thought it quickly became clear that had he chosen to do so that Joshua could have killed her with no real effort on his part, not that it stopped her from trying, in fact it was only as a result of Auldhulma's magical intervention that she was stopped at all; forcing her to listen to what Joshua had to say "LIAR! you killed them! You killed them all! I have nothing left, everything I have ever known or cared about is now gone because of you...I don't even have a last name anymore!" Alia screamed in Jehennan as tears continued to pour down her cheeks, her muscles straining to break free of the bonds that held her so that she could have her revenge upon the man responsible for the death of her family "...what did Tali ever do to you? There wasn't an evil bone in her body and they hung her from a tree like a common criminal! I...I couldn't even bury them" she sobbed as the memories of having to flee her home with nothing more than the clothes on her back came back to her. Of how she had been forced to wander strange and foreign lands, scared and alone without a single penny to her name nor anyone to help or guide her, only knowing that she could never go home and was doomed to live the life of an exile. Well...at least now she had the chance to make sure that the one responsible for all of her pain and suffering wouldn't be going home either.

As the magic holding them finally broke down Alia would once again raise her weapon ready to attack as she snarled derisively at his plea for them to stop fighting "no we don't need to fight, you just need to die!" it was at this point that Mei's slender fingers would curl about Alia's wrist prompting the girl to give a shriek of pain as smoke began to appear followed by the rather curt command of
"Drop it. Now" coming from Mei, with the mage only releasing her grip on Alia's wrist once her weapon had dropped to the floor with a heavy thud.

As a sobbing Alia crumbled down onto her knees to nurse a heavily burnt wrist, Mei would move to stand beside Joshua as she quivered with rage, making it clear to everyone that the only thing stopping her from burning Alia alive was Joshua, and that even he had only a tenuous hold over her growing rage
"you will not kill him, I will not let you and you will burn if you even think of trying!" Mei snarled unsteadily, showing that even she was struggling to control the rage boiling inside of her along with her desire to kill the sobbing girl that had dared threaten the life of her fiancee.

Lord Regal

Well-Known Member
Alia’s ranting hit Joshua hard, especially the fact that Tali had been killed. He hadn’t known they had gotten that far before he’d stopped them, and he had to admit they’d probably not told him due to her being an old friend of his. Both of the sisters had been conspicuously absent from the list of those killed in “his” name he had demanded, and he had chosen to believe that meant they were safe. This staunch truth from the furious woman was like a hammer blow.

The fight seemed like it would continue until Mei stepped in and forced it to a close, her temper burning, almost literally, to the surface. In an attempt to placate her, the Swordmaster slipped an arm around her as he looked at the now sobbing form of one of his only childhood friends. “Alia...I’m so sorry. They told me you were both safe. I didn’t want that. I swear.” Joshua’s voice wavered for a moment. “I can’t bring her back. That’s not in my power. But I can absolutely make sure you are allowed to return home. You...the both of you...were two of the only reasons diplomatic dinners were bearable growing up. I always felt bad not telling either of you my plan to leave, but I was worried you’d tell someone.” He chuckled, though there was no humor in the sound. “Always figured I’d apologize when I next saw you. Can’t say I ever imagined it being under these circumstances though.”

He sighed, sheathing Audhulma and rubbing his eyes. “I’m sorry, Alia. I know it doesn’t change anything, but I am. And I swear I’ll do everything I can to make up for what happened. I never held any ill will towards your family. Your uncle and cousin committed treason. That was no reason to go after the rest of you. I won’t let that be my legacy. I won’t rule under a tyrannical law. That way lies an evil as bad as the one that took over before we liberated our homeland.” He sighed, looking at his old friend beseechingly. “Now...can you find it in yourself to accept my apology, even if you can’t forgive me for now?” He hoped that the tension would diffuse at least a little...he really didn’t want to have to try to restrain Mei if Alia attempted to escalate things further...after all, her magic didn’t care if she was restrained...or at least he didn’t think it did...


Sweet. That's what calling someone a treacle meant. It meant you thought someone was sweet. It wasn't really an insult after all, though one could be forgiven for supposing that, given the manner that Daniel called Loolayannie treacle. It was true that the substance was sweet, but what Red found most remarkable about the substance was how incredibly sticky it was. The substance could probably replace several types of glues that Mauranger had utilized before the fall of Oak City. Regardless of Daniel's intent, his comments seemed to have made Loolayannie's morning and had driven the hostility out of him, at least for a while. It would give Red more time to figure out a final solution to the Daniel question. Arnold stepped in and explained what they had found out about the Northern mercenaries. They hadn't come from Mauranger, but from Vanir, the ancient rulers of Mauranger. Red wouldn't have to take out any other possible carriers of Oak Village's lost knowledge. They few Jotun might be a problem; they had gotten their name from the mythical race of giants whose traits they analogued. They were excellent at melee combat, but they'd fall like anyone else to arrows fired from concealed positions. And if any attack did end up getting resolved at arm distance, well, Red had enough trust in the technical abilities of the Balonese sword style.

Red had begun to form a plan on how to deal with the northern mercenaries in the long term, but all thoughts had been driven out of mind with Daniel's next statement. Arnold and Daniel had searched for Red after they returned from their observation mission. When they couldn't find their fearless leader, they searched around Loolayannie's tent, based on a statement from Edward. When they approached the tent, they were turned away by the sounds of a woman in pleasure. They had found out everything. Red turned into a statue and contemplated on the present crisis. This was time for damage control. Admit nothing, deny everything, counter accuse, demand proof. This situation was salvageable, deny everything, admit nothing, make counteraccusations demand proof. But Loolayannie had let the game up by wrapping her arm around Red's waist and converting Red's shoulder to a pillow. There was nothing to be done about it now. "Things happen sometimes," Red responded, while rubbing Loolayannie's head. This would just be something the Strike Team would have to accept. Hopefully this mission with the Northern mercenaries would let them forget this discovery. "We will the mercenaries to observe. Return here in 10 minutes with long range gear." Red gently extracted herself from Loolayannie and headed over to her tent. The long range pack consisted of several days worth of dessicated fish, recording materials, sanitaries, medical supplies, and firestarting equipment. And, as always, the will was brought out. It'd have to get modified to account for her new relationship with Loolayannie. But there was time for that after the Strike Team returned from their mission.


Although he was used to Mei running a little warmer than most people, a side effect of her chosen magical element, Joshua would find that his fiancée’s skin was uncomfortably hot to the touch almost as if she would indeed burst into flame if she didn't calm down, with her eyes seemingly glued to Alia's weeping form as if waiting for an excuse to turn her into ash.

For her part Alia simply wept, her desire to murder Joshua had been the only thing that had kept her going all this time and now that it had been taken away from her all the loneliness, pain and hardship it had kept at bay had returned leaving her a broken mess
"why bother...there's nothing left for me there...I don't have anything to live for now" she uttered in a voice barely above a whisper as she stared down into her lap barely registering Taranis' presence as he surreptitiously collected the fallen Kukri and placed it within his belt before then carefully examining her burnt wrist. The wound was bad and would be painful for quite some time to come but it would heal in time so long as it was properly cared for "We should leave this place...Daner may have sealed the exit but there will be other ways out of that place" Taranis quietly spoke, seemingly unsure as to whether he should be addressing Daner or Joshua, though the young thief was still deeply involved with Lucy at the moment.

It wasn’t the thought of the goblins attacking them that worried him as there were now more than enough of them to see them off, with even the day light aiding them in that particular fight, but rather the hooded mage. He knew little of magic but judging from the things he’d witnessed within the cave; it was a being far more powerful than any of those currently present meaning that they needed to be away from this place and soon.

As the strike team set about gathering their equipment Leilani would follow Red into her tent, watching as she gathered her things for the upcoming mission “you no angry at me for telling about us are you?” she asked, concerned that even though there had seemed little point in denying that they had been together last night that she may have upset Akana in doing so “I was thinking that if they knowing then they no tease you so much about liking me…that they just accept us as couple and growing bored…no more prying” she said trying her best to explain part of the reason why she’d done it with the other part being the simple fact that she wanted to be with her.

Moving to stand before her, Leilani would gently turn Akana so that her back was facing the tent flaps before sliding down her scarf so that it hung beneath her chin “I love you Ana” she softly breathed before leaning up and kissing her, the beautiful Maurangian woman being just slightly taller than she was and possessing a fuller figure that was sadly hidden beneath the layers of clothing she wore.

Breaking off the kiss Leilani would reluctantly take the envelope containing the will, with the girl giving it a concerned look before quietly asking “you coming back in time for teaching of swords?” Followed by a small smile creeping onto her face as she glanced over at Akana’s neatly made bedding with her then asking a single word question that held so much promise “Tonight?”


As he knelt there, his arms wrapped around her, Daner couldn’t stop thinking about how nice she smelt. He should be panicked about the goblins who could get out of the cavern and chase them down any moment, concerned about the shout he’d heard coming from Alia, saddened by the death of Tywin, but instead he just felt… complete, as if he could stay in this embrace forever. It’s called love lad, get over it. Don’t ruin the moment! I’m sorry to lad, I’d love this to get to its conclusion as much as you would – We are not going there – but we need to get moving. Reluctantly agreeing, Daner squeezed Lucy closer into himself before pulling himself back. “Look, I have… so many questions right now and by that slap you probably do to, but we gotta go. I don’t know how much time my little stunt bought us”. Mei was right, Daner could feel a headache oncoming, and if it was anything like when this had happened in reverse, he wouldn’t be able to talk with Brahmoth that well until it passed. Shakily getting to his feet, he saw the aftermath of the fight between Alia and Joshua, the girl with her burnt wrist lamenting what she was going to do now. Sighing, Daner wearily stepped forward, consciously aware that he needed to keep his body moving. “Taranis is right, we need to get moving. Joshua, Mei, where’s your base camp? I presume you’re with the resistance army and after the past few months, something vaguely resembling a bed would be pretty nice.”


Red had just thrown the long range pack onto her rack when she noticed Loolayannie standing at the entrance to the tent. She must have walked in at some point, unnoticed while Red prepared for the upcoming mission. "I hope you here long not to wait," Red spoke when the magician girl was noticed. But it didn't seem like the time waited mattered much. Loolayannie was only concerned about whether Red was angry with her for revealing their relationship to the Strike Team. "I have anger not," Red responded with a sigh. "I wanted the Strike Team not to know. I wanted this an issue not to be . You have correctness, maybe. It is now in the past. We will this situation to deal with. The Strike Team might their teasing to cease." Red was unable to say anthing else, for she was interrupted by Loolayannie pulling down her scarf and kissing her. "I... I love you as well," Akana managed to respond, barely, through the blushing and stuttering that Loolayannie's affections caused. It would still take a while to get used to this whole relationship thing and everything that it entailed. She'd probably blush and stutter at every gesture for a good while. Fortunately it wouldn't be a problem; the scarf would cover up any redness in public, and in private there wouldn't be any need to hide any reaction. Presently, Loolayannie picked up the will from the desk and asked Akana if she would return in time for weapons training. "We will return not, Loolayannie. Our mission has long range. It will us for several days to take to complete. We might for a halbwoch away to be. Worry not. Focus on magic. Practice sword techniques. Read your science notes. We will review when I to the camp to return."

Akana wished that she could return to Loolayannie that very same day. To continue all the wonderful things that had been started the night before would be an impossibly blissful dream come true. But, unfortunately, such a thing was impossible. This was a long term observation mission, culminating in the elimination of the the Northerners. It would take several days to complete, at least. Perhaps a whole week at the longest. When Akana had first proposed this type of mission, it was questioned why the team performing the task would expend several days observing an enemy that they would just eliminate. It took much convincing in barely intelligible Tiranian to convey the facts that it was necessary to gather as much intelligence about the enemy's standard modes of operation while nearly simultaneously taking out important targets that would weaken the enemy's ability to wage war. And while the long range reconnaissance was conducted by a group of no more than ten people, and usually only four, they were capable of wiping out groups several times their size by striking the enemy quickly and completely unexpectedly. It was definitely a risky venture, but Akana had performed this particular mission quite a few times and was confident in her abilities to successfully carry it out. She had devised the idea, after all. "Worry not, treacle Loolayannie. I will to you to return. I have for you too much care not to return. Until later, treacle Loolayannie." Akana bent down to give the magical girl a deep kiss, then reluctantly broke is a few moments later.

Akana then pulled the scarf over her face, flung the long range pack over Red's shoulder, and grabbed a white oversmock with green brushstrokes. If the Strike Team ran into any areas with heavy snowfall, the smock would help to break out the human outline, while the green strokes would help them blend in with any evergreens they would encounter. Red exited the camp with one last little wave to the beautiful magician and walked over to the Strike Team's campfire. When the rest of the Strike Team had assembled, Red would go over the mission parameters. "We will the Northerners to observe. We will them to record. We will the mercenaries to eliminate. I have trust in you all. We will the Northernern to understand and to eliminate. Have you questions?" After the Strike Team confirmed that they were ready to go and had no further questions, Red would allow Arnold to lead the way to where the Northerners had last been seen. From there, they would search for sign and spoor, and record any peculiar habits that the Northerners exhibited, all to allow future rebels to better combat any Northern mercenaries that they might encounter in the future.

Lord Regal

Well-Known Member
Alia was despondent at this point, and Joshua knew that he had another battle with her coming up, though this would be a more emotional, mental one than physical, and he had never excelled at that part of life. Taranis made the rather good point they should move off before any of their enemies came after them, though as he looked around, Gwyll, Sync, and Glasya were all indisposed or near to it, meaning they had a lot of extra bodies to move that weren't going to pull their own weight, or at least not easily. "Gwyll...are you ok to move for a while? If not, shift back and someone can carry you...Glasya, is Sync...no, he's still out cold...are you able to walk? I can carry someone if needbe, Taranis, you're up if two people need it...if three do...then we may be stuck." The Swordmaster looked around at their growing party...this had started as a fetch mission for two people, but at this point they had a small task force, even if a good number of them weren't up for fighting at the moment. Why could nothing be simple anymore? He looked back over at Glasya, grimacing a little. "I know you have no reason to trust me yet, and...I'll admit I'm hesitant, but I can carry Sync...I swear on my life I won't let harm come to him as much as I can help it. Is that ok?"


Seeing her kiss reduce Akana to a stuttering, blushing mess, Leilani couldn’t help but giggle in response, clearly looking forward to repeating such results. Unfortunately her good mood was quickly replaced by one of dismay when Akana revealed that she and the others would be away for several days leaving Leilani entirely by herself and at the mercy of the rest of the camp, of which the majority viewed her as either a turncoat, a spy, or both. She was about to beg Akana not to go or even to take her with her when she was cut off by a long and lingering kiss that left her speechless.

Clutching Akana’s will to her chest, Leilani would watch as the woman departed before heading for her own tent where she intended to hide until either her mistress or her lover returned; fighting the urge to run and hoping that no one would notice that her guardians were all gone.

Meanwhile Akana’s mission would follow a predictable course; a long journey down the mountainside and into the jungle only to then split up once they were in the vicinity of the enemy camp where upon things would become a little more complicated.

Unlike the majority of the Khitain army, both government and rebel, the Vanir mercenaries consisted of well trained veterans that knew the value of well placed and observant pickets that patrolled in pairs making the task of silently picking them off without alerting the rest of the company next to impossible. However with a little effort and a whole lot of waiting Akana was eventually able to slip into the inner circle to view the enemy camp.

It was during the dying light of the evening that Akana discover a hive of activity as Vanir and Jotun soldiers busily erected a barricades that were far in excess of normal practice about their camp whilst others hurriedly set about the task of burning several bodies of what at first glance appeared to be Khitain peasants. With such an experienced force seemingly spooked about something it was clear that something wasn’t right.

“I wouldn’t expect anything less” Glasya quietly intoned from where she was sitting; gently stroking Sync’s hair as she spoke to him from within the shadows of her hood “I can walk, though I may need someone to lean on, I haven’t been feeling my best as of late” she stated without going into any details as to what exactly that meant, but at least she didn’t need carrying unlike Sync.

It was with both Joshua and Daner stating that they all needed to start moving before the enemies that had been sealed within the cave found another way to strike at them, with Daner suggesting they head back to the resistance camp, Mei would suddenly snap; jabbing a finger angrily in Alia’s direction as she spoke in a voice that was on the verge of exploding into a full on rage
“and what are you going to do with her?! She’s not coming with us, not after what she tried to do, I won’t let you! She’s not coming and that’s…”

“Sun Mei! You are not queen yet and if you don’t stop pouting like the jealous child that you are he may very well change his mind about marrying you altogether! Joshua is not your slave and he can talk to as many pretty girls as he wants to, now is that understood!?” Glasya screamed at a horror struck Mei, the young magi hesitating for several moments before running off into the trees with tears streaming down her face “oh dear I seemed to have made her cry” the Ifrit sighed in a disinterested voice before turning to speak to Joshua once again “I’m afraid your girlfriend has a lot of growing up yet to do…Also you may want to keep an eye on her temper, a magi throwing a temper tantrum can be rather…destructive” she said, with Joshua catching a brief glimpse of smile within her hood before turning to head towards Alia “Go and find Sun Mei whilst I talk to our young assassin here, and then we can all be on our way” she said gesturing towards Alia as Taranis meanwhile set about picking Gwyll up in order to carry her.

Meanwhile Lucy would silently follow Daner; his question concerning the slap he’d received having been answered with a reluctant nodding of her head with the blonde thief clearly not looking forward to revealing the fact that she’d seemingly lost the ability to talk.

With only a tearful Mei and a comatose Sync to deal with, the rest of the party would very soon be ready to start moving, with even Alia stood with a supporting arm about Glasya with the pair whispering to one another in rapid Jehennan. Although neither Joshua or Daner would have any clue as to what they were discussing it was clear that the hooded woman had managed to persuade the fallen princess that life was worth living for a little while longer at least. Though considering they would most likely have to spend the night in the village how long that would prove was another matter entirely.

Lord Regal

Well-Known Member
Things were going well and the party, now distinctly larger than when they’d set out, were about ready to move when Mei exploded over Alia coming with them. Before Joshua had a chance to say anything Glasya angrily responded using...harsh, to put it mildly, logic to rebuke her. His fiancée took off, crying, and things more or less stalled. Glad that he hadn’t picked up Sync yet, the Swordmaster nodded at the Ifrit’s suggestion he go try and find his love before heading off, irritated. He followed the path she’d taken, looking for her, though without calling out in case enemies were closer than they expected.

It didn’t take too long to find her, as everyone knew running off alone in their current location would be foolhardy at best. Joshua smiled a little as he approached, wrapping an arm around her waist and pulling her close. “It’s ok...” he began. “I’m not planning on leaving you, promise. That was uncalled for. But keep in perspective what we’re doing here. We went out to find people who possessed you with intent of taking you over and who came closer to killing me than Alia ever did. Someone who, despite being in a coma for most of it, convinced you he was me when he was awake.” Joshua sighed. “You asked me when we started this to give him a chance, and I’m trying. Please give her a chance too. She attacked out of grief, not with true malice. Once she’s had time to calm down and think things out, talk...she’ll be ok.” He squeezed a little with the arm around her, trying to further comfort her. “Does that sound ok?”