The Tiran Wars: Liberty, at all Costs


The trek down to the mercenary camp was a fairly standard affair; the white oversmocks helped concealed their form above the snowline, and their dark green clothing and headscarves enabled them to hide amongst the coniferous trees. The Vanir camp was the first competent outpost the Strike Team had encountered; the guard towers were cleared of obstructions for 50 yards and had overlapping lines of fire, there were several strong points built in the area to provide a safe place to fall back to, and the patrols extended a short way into the forest and always had two people. It was a very well put together system. About the only things going for Red were the facts that the guards had predictable paths through the forests and a few of the guard towers containing inattentive guards. After the Strike Team split apart to cover more ground, Red took sketches of the campsite from several vantage points, adding notes about general Vanir construction, details about the defences, and other observations that Red believed would be of use to the resistance.

After the sketches were complete, Red played the long wait, slowly crawling to the best point to infiltrate into the inner camp. It took hours of patient waiting, but the tedium was eventually paid off as the nearby guards took their collective eyes off of Red's chosen infiltration spot. When that moment came, Red calmly walked into the inner compound and smoothly disappeared into the shadows of the camp. With the Sun low in the sky, the deep shadows provided enough cover for Red to sneak around the edges of the camp, taking mental notes of every interesting detail for later recording. The camp was unusually active for the time of evening, with mercenaries running about, hastily erecting barricades to connect the guard towers together, seemingly in an attempt to construct a wall to surround the entire compound. Others were rushing around with handcarts containing foul smelling remains, all converging to an already strongly burning bonfire, spewing forth thick, black smoke into the sky, giving the setting Sun a dull red tinge. Most of the corpses wore traditional Khitain garb, and covered the spectrum of age, with both men and women represented. It was probable that these corpses were the former citizens of the decimated village. There was ample evidence here to prove that the Northerners were committing large scale massacres. Red couldn't figure out why the Northmen would commit such an atrocity. Red figured that the Strike Team's main mission now was to figure out why the mercenaries were carrying out such widespread slaughter. It seemed that the Strike Team now needed to figure out why this massacre was happening. Red would investigate the campsite for a few more hours before meeting up with the Strike Team at their predawn rendezvous.


Joshua wouldn’t have to travel far into the trees before finding Sun Mei kneeling before a large tree sobbing her eyes out. Despite the pair of hand shaped scorch marks visible upon the trees broad trunk, Mei would feel considerably cooler than she had the last time he’d put his arms around her indicating that if nothing else that the rage that had been building up inside of her had been safely defused for the time being at least.

Hearing his promise that he had no intention of leaving her despite what Glasya had said Mei would turn to look at him with a hopeful look in her tear filled eyes “Y-you promise?” she asked in Khitain, feeling far too distracted to cope with a foreign tongue at this point in time.

After reluctantly nodding her head in response to his request that she give Alia a chance, one that Mei felt the woman didn’t deserve, she’d blurt out a question that had been quietly prying at her mind for awhile now with her encounter with Alia dragging it once again to the fore “When will you marry me Joshua? I-I want t-to be your wife s-s-so desperately a-and I can’t s-s-stand all these beautiful women trying to t-take you away from m-me, p-please…I –I need to know!” she sobbed. This wasn’t fair; surely he knew how much she loved him? How the mere possibility that she couldn’t spend the rest of her life tending and caring for him was driving her mad to the point that even the merest hint that another woman enjoyed his company would send her spiralling into a jealous rage even though deep down she knew that Joshua would never betray her in such a way.

With tears still streaming down her face she would patiently wait for the love of her life; her Ka-Me, to answer her question before following him back to the others, if that is what he desired to her to do.

It was as the light was beginning to fade and Red was setting out to meet back up with the rest of her team that she would witness something that would not only connect the dots of what she’d previously witnessed but also shed a whole new light on the situation.

It started with a sudden cry coming from the opposite side of the camp, prompting the majority of the Northmen to abandon their current task and rush towards one of the half built barricades in time to meet a rabble of peasants coming from out of the trees clearly intent on attacking them, however the longer Red watched the engagement the more it struck her that something was seriously wrong.

She would watch as the peasants mindlessly hurled themselves at the barricades seemingly uncaring of any injuries they may sustain or the heavily armed and armoured warriors that manned them; fighting them with their bare hands despite the horrific wounds inflicted upon them. A large Jotun warrior easily removing the arm from one man’s body only to then recoil in horror as the peasant leap for this throat seemingly intent to tear it out with his teeth whilst another warrior was dragged away screaming by another pair with apparent ease.

Despite these…unnatural…attributes it was clear that the Northmen would still be the victors of this brief skirmish but the losses and injuries they were suffering were far from sustainable. It was also at this moment that she would notice that save for the sound of fighting coming form the camp that the woodland around her had become eerily quiet.

Lord Regal

Well-Known Member
All Joshua could really do in response to Mei's confirmation-seeking was nod...he didn't really know what else to say. The rest of her speech though..."Mei...I want to marry you, you know that. And...I'm happy to do that as soon as you want, and we find someone to officiate. I already said we'll do two weddings...our real one and the one they'll insist on showing us off to all of Jehanna for." His distaste for the latter was blatant as he carried on. "But...I have to be honest with you and say I don't know who you think is trying to take me away from you. Er, well, outside Alia trying to kill me just now...but I don't think that's what you meant..." He was making a mess of this, he knew it. He pulled her close again as he tried to plan out his next words. "You saw me rebuke Glasya back at the magi temple...and she appears to have something for Sync now anyway, which is...troubling on its own, but...Gwyll loves the thought of us together, judging from her..." here the Swordmaster blushed and hesitated, " comment...and Alia very obviously would rather have me dead than alive right now, though I'm hoping that at least changes to tolerance...from what I can see no one is trying to take you away from me. And if you think they are, I want you to tell me, in private, after the conversation is over. I can promise you beyond a shadow of a doubt no one is going to steal me away from you during a single conversation. We can discuss it after, and handle it then. Does that sound agreeable to you?" If she agreed, he'd gently guide her back to the others after a kiss...if not, well, he'd kiss her anyway, but would proceed to listen to her counterpoint...after all, there was no point in a one-sided relationship...if she didn't like his approach she had every right to say so...


She'd known it had been silly for her to believe such a thing, but hearing him speak aloud that no one was going to take him away from her and that he would marry her as soon as they found the time and a priest willing to do so was enough to allay some if not all of her paranoid fears "I-I’m s-sorry...I'm being s-silly aren't I?" Mei stammered as he held her in his strong arms, her head pressed against his chest so that she could hear the sound of his breathing and feel the beating of his heart "'s just that...everything I've ever had I've had to share and I-I don't want to share you...I'm also scared that this is just some wonderful dream and that I'll wake up and you'll be gone...silly I know" she said giving a single humourless laugh before lapsing once again into silence, listening as Joshua suggested that she should just talk to him about her fears so that they could find a solution to the problem together, which she had to admit was a better idea than bottling it all up and then exploding into a violent rage.

Nodding her head in agreement to his suggestion she'd then return his kiss; her hand automatically moving to twine itself within his hair as she did so, wondering how she could ever have been so foolish as to believe that he would simply leave her for the first pretty girl to smile at him. Taking his hand in her own, she would then follow him back to the others speaking in a low voice as she did so "I fear finding someone willing to marry us may be harder than I first thought it would be...we may even have to wait until we leave Khitai for a place where you being a foreign...not Khitain...doesn't matter" she said, only just managing to stop herself from using the term Foreign Barbarian a phrase that she’d heard whispered behind her back ever since joining the rebel army with only her position as a magi preventing them from being voiced to her face or anything far worse from happening. She still wasn’t sure as to how accepting of her marriage to Joshua her mother would be either, a fact that still worried her no end.

When they finally reached the others they would find that save for Sync who needed be carried that the rest of the group was ready to move.

Before long the group was back at the village in which they’d spent the previous night along with the charred corpses of the creatures that they had killed still lying upon the hard packed ground “I still hate this place…though I suppose we’ll have to stop” Mei whispered to Joshua as they drew closer to the small huddle of houses
“Something is seriously wrong with this place…What happened here?” Glasya asked, turning her hooded head back and forth so as to study her surroundings before speaking again “I’m not sure stopping here would be wise even if it does meaning passing up the chance of a bed”


Twilight was slowly taking over as the Sun sank behind the mountains. Soon, it would be too dark to read without gaslight, and anything outside the campfires of the mercenaries would be nearly invisible until moonrise. But for now, the twilight produced enough light to make everything faintly visible. Some would call the twilight glow eerie, but Red had never subscribed to such views. The sun was only somewhat less than six degrees below the horizon; its sunlight reflecting off the upper atmosphere. There was no need to make up spooky legends to describe the effect. The camp was still strangely active, however. Usually, the Nords tribes would have settled around their campfires and broken out their smoked salmon and karsk. But these particular examples were still barricading their campsite, forming defensive lines more appropriate to a small fortress. Suddenly, a loud screech erupted from the other end of the camp, reminding Red of the wild beasts that used to surround Mauranger, until the hunting and taming programs had produced their results. That sound prompted every Nord to cease their tasks and rush to the source of the noise, the end of the camp near the trail to the abandoned village that the Strike Group had reconnoitered a couple of days ago. But there should not have been anything coming from the area that would warrant a total alert. Any wild beasts could be easily have been dispatched with the guard complement stationed at the checkpoint, especially with the extensive defensive measures the Nords had established.

Red sneaked towards the source of the commotion, an easy task given that the entire camp was single mindedly focused on the disturbance. The vantage point that Red found afforded an unobstructed view of the scene; the bonfires making up the difference of the fading light of the Sun as it sank towards twelve degrees below horizon. The unfolding scene was one of the strangest things Red had seen since the first departure from Mauranger. Countless villagers were storming the barricade. It was uncertain where the people had come from; the path they had come up contained only destruction and emptiness. The attackers launched themselves upon the barrier, as careless as the waves of the fjords breaking against the cliff faces. The thing that stood out to Red, after a quick observation, was the extremely high pain tolerance of the villagers, as if they had consumed large amounts of efedrin. They attacked the Nords barehanded, their nails and teeth the only weapons they utilized. Though the Nords were outnumbered, their technological advantage would, predictably, render them the winners of this battle, though the drug induced assault would allow the villagers to claim quite a few of the defenders before they were defeated to a man, woman, child. Why were children attacking this camp? Children were much too young to be involved in warfare. Red couldn't figure out why the former villagers would use children as soldiers. It was just another mystery of this region that Red would have to investigate, or ask Loolayannie about.

The battle was over after a few minutes; it was a most interesting encounter. The villagers were the epitome of brute force tactics. There wasn't a single hint of tactics in any of these attacks. It was rush, occasionally stumble, and nothing more. Not a single one had a weapon, though they had the tenacity to inflict massive casualties on the defenders. As the battle wound down, the sounds of the forest didn't return. The surroundings were eerily quiet. None of the regular forest sounds were present; the only noises were the moans and screams of the injured Nords. Every attacking villager was slaughtered; many of them had taken numerous wounds to bring down. As the Nords began to treat to their wounded, Red slipped away under the cover of astronaumical twilight, and headed to the Strike Team's rendezvous point, where Red would describe everything that had been observed, while writing it down on some of the paper that had been brought along. They would sleep in 50% watch; two people sleeping four hours while the other two kept watch for any anomolies.


It was after Red had recounted what she had witnessed to the rest of the team that they would do likewise, describing the scene that had unfolded as viewed from their unique vantage points “there’s something seriously wrong here Iceman…” Daniel spoke in a low voice after recounting his own version of events, with the main details marrying up with what Red had seen for herself “…I’ve seen peasant levies fight in battle, Arnold has too and they did not fight like those…people…did” he said with Arnold quickly adding his voice to the discussion “he’s right peasants are only ever there to add weight to the back ranks, the first sniff of combat and they just scatter…they thought like gods damned berserkers!” he said, jabbing a finger in the direction of the enemy camp from which the distant sounds of fighting could be heard prompting those within the strike team to suspect that a second assault was underway.

It was as they were sitting there within the darkness, listening to the distant sounds of combat that they would also hear the rustling of undergrowth and the snapping of twigs that betrayed the presence of someone unskilled in the art of field craft.

Grabbing their bows Arnold and Daniel would move to a half crouch as Edward meanwhile drew his sword. Moments later a…thing…burst out from the bushes behind Red followed by a pair of arrows that went whistling past her head towards the creature, making it clear that they had no intention in trying to talk to whatever it was that was attacking them.

At first glance the creature appeared to be yet another local peasant dressed in ragged clothes, and yet as it drew closer Red could see the pallid, bloated flesh, yellow eyes and long, lank hair as if the thing had been submerged under water for several months and had started to go rotten.

With one arrow striking its chest and another in its throat, Edward would quickly leap to his feet and drive his sword deep into its side in what should have been a fatal blow. Yet like the arrows the creature simply shrugged off the injury as it continued its charge. After pausing long enough to deliver what seemed like a contemptuous blow that sent Edward stumbling to the ground as if he were a mere child, the creature would make a grab for Red clearly intending to tear out her throat with its teeth, with Edwards sword still lodged deep in its side. Whatever this thing was it was no mere peasant that was for sure and it was coming straight for her.


At the meeting point, the other members of the Strike Team recounted their observations. Their accounts jived up with Red's own. Daniel and Arnold added in their previous experiences with peasants in warfare. They were of a consensus that farmers and laborers never made good soldiers; meant only for intimidation before a battle. "Your conclusion has possibility," Red responded. "Sozialteori suggest a Brechpunkt. People accept Bedrücktheit so much. The Bedrücktheit reaches this Brechpunkt. The people will fight now until the Bedrücktheiter has death. The Nord bedrück the people here. They fight." The Strike Team stared at Red as the explanation concluded. "Iceman, you know we don't understand your technical icespeak, right?" Daniel asked, with the others nodding in agreement. "Oh... right. Forgive me." Red went on to attempt a translation that the Strike Team could understand, with added interpretive hand gestures. "Sozialteori is science of people together. It is giant groups. Brechpunkt is strain of mind. The strain causes Brech of mind. Bedrücktheit is the cause of Brech of mind. Have you understanding?" The Strike Team would have shrugged and attempted to steer the conversation to a different topic, but the group was interrupted.

A cacaphony of stumbling made its way to the campsite. Daniel and Arnold pulled out their bows, Edward pulled out his sword, and Red pulled out the spada da lata. The assailant revealed itself, a villager wearing ragged clothing, and charged at Red. Daniel and Arnold released their arrors, both striking the attacker. With one arrow in the neck and the other in the chest, the assailant should have died. However, it decided to not die and continued its charge. Edward stabbed them in their side, and got taken down for his trouble. The juggernaut continued its charge towards Red, who was able to take a cut to the side without halting its attack. Red was forced to take a step to the side to avoid its flail, though Red did manage to get a good look at the assailant. It had the smell and look of a corpse that had been soaking in a bog for a month. A glance at its eyes showed no hint of intelligence, and it was animalistically focused on attacking Red. Its several wounds should have desanguinated the creature, but there was hardly any evidence of blood loss. Its endurance could have stemmed from the creature's use of efedrin, but its lack of bleeding made no sense.

It was as if it was a walking corpse. One of them jiangshi Loolayannie had talked about. If these things were actually roaming the countryside, the Strike Team had to get back to the rebel camp as quickly as possible and warn the soldiers. "Strike Team, we must to our camp to return to. We must about the jiangshi to warn." It was uncertain how one could kill something that was capable of shrugging off an arrow to the neck, regardless of its other mortal wounds. It seems it would only be possible to cripple it. The Balone style didn't have many low slashing cuts, but Red could adapt to this situation. After sidestepping around the creature, Red gave it several cuts, severing one leg at the shin and the other at the knee. "We return now to the camp," Red ordered, while helping Edward back on his feet. The Nords were normal humans; it would be simple to defeat them when they were compared to these jiangshi. If the jiangshi managed to arrive at the rebel camp before the rebels prepared, then it could spell the end of the whole revolution. The Strike Team would immediately head back to the camp as quickly as possible. The Nords should be distracted enough to allow the Strike Team to escape without notice.


Despite the wounds that had been inflicted upon the creature would continue its attack, albeit at a more sluggish pace as it tried to haul itself towards Red with the multitude of wounds seeming to have some effect against it if not the desired result of killing it outright. Placing a booted foot upon its back Edward would rip his sword free of the creature’s side, opening up the wound so that thick black blood could exit the wound with it not so much pouring as falling out. Delivering a single cleaver like blow to the top of the creatures head with his sword Edward would finally slay the thing "well...I'm glad that worked else I was all out of ideas" the mercenary muttered, using the Jiangshi's tunic to wipe the gore from his blade before following Red and the others into the trees.

It would be early morning when they finally returned to the encampment with the team having travelled for most of the night to bring word of their discovery to the rest of the rebel company. After being allowed to enter by the sentries on duty the strike team would find that they weren't the only ones to awake at such an ungodly hour as soldiers either having returned from sentry duties or making ready to take their turn quietly cooked their breakfast along with those who were simply early risers. Likewise Red would spy the dim light of a candle coming from Leilani's tent revealing that she too was most likely awake though the tent in which Joshua and Mei usually slept was still dark leading her to suspect that they were yet to return from their trip into the jungle.

Lord Regal

Well-Known Member
Fit though Joshua may be, his arms were burning as they reached the cursed...or whatever...village again. Sync was dead weight, and showed no signs of waking as they traveled. The sun was going down, signalling it was more than possible they'd need to spend another night here. Mei didn't like the idea, which was completely understandable, but Glasya too spoke up, asking what had happened. "I don't know..." the Swordmaster muttered. "Nothing good. You see those corpses? We left them here on our way out...I wish I knew whether they were the inhabitants of this place or simply what killed them...not that there's any real solace either way. They're what made Gwyll so sick...there's worms in the bodies. He shuddered. "I don't like the idea of stopping, arms are tired enough I won't be much use in a fight right now, and it wasn't exactly restful sleep we got here. I would say press on and hope for a better location down the road...I don't think going all night is wise either, but we don't want to was an experience I'd rather not repeat." He looked around wearily at the rest of the group. "Anyone else have any thoughts on the matter?" If a pressing enough argument came through he'd back down, but he really didn't fancy needing to guard against those things for another night...not when he was struggling somewhat to keep Sync steady in his arms...


Slowly pacing about the village Glasya's hooded head would move to examine her surroundings giving the charred remains and the well at the hamlets centre the bulk of her attention " can't be...they don't belong here" she muttered absently to herself with yet more confused mutterings passing her lips as the palm of her raised right hand would briefly glow a pale blue colour, despite the gloves she was wearing. With Joshua suggesting that they find another location and Sun Mei looking deeply troubled as she looked about the village as if she expected to be attacked any minute now, Glasya would nod her head in agreement "yes...I think a night in the jungle would be preferable now that you mention it" she said, though it was clear that something about Joshua's story as to what had transpired here was troubling her deeply “something is seriously wrong…they shouldn’t be here” she muttered once more before heading down the trail once more.

With none of the others voicing any complaints the group would continue their journey, stopping an hour or so later within a small clearing by the trail as the light began to rapidly fade meaning that they would indeed be spending another night within the jungle. Though considering where the closest beds were located that was no real hardship and they should be within the relative comfort of their tents early the following morning.

With a small fire set within the clearings centre Taranis would silently disappear into the trees as the others sat upon the grass to rest, with Mei climbing into Joshua's lap the moment he'd sat down, pressing her body against his as she gently kissed his neck and face with her hands likewise caressing his hair and arms. It wouldn't take Joshua long to figure out that this rather public display of affection from his fiancée was her way of showing the other girls within the camp as to who Joshua’s girl was, with it being yet another symptom of Mei’s insecurities concerning their relationship. Truth be told her efforts were completely wasted, as Alia was sat by herself in a corner looking just as miserable and forlorn as she had before they’d departed, Lucy was awkwardly sitting beside Daner desperately trying not to make eye contact whilst simultaneously making meaningful glances that more than betrayed her feelings for him. Gwyll was still sound asleep having been wrapped up in a blanket more for the sake of modesty than warmth and Glasya's attentions were firmly fixed upon Sync, with the Ifrit gently stroking his hair as his head rested within her lap displaying a previously unforeseen tenderness as she quietly sang to him in a language that sounded like ancient Jehennan to Joshua but was in fact her own native tongue.

It was just as it was getting truly dark that Taranis would return just as silently as he’d left carrying a pheasant like bird in one hand that he promptly conscripted Alia into helping him pluck and butcher so that it could be roasted over the fire that they had built. Although the portions were understandably small after being shared out between such a large group, the warm food was welcome after days of little to no rations.

The remainder of the night and the following morning would prove to be uneventful with them each taking a turn to keep watch during the night with the most eventful thing to happen was a big cat slinking by their camp whilst Joshua kept watch. The large, black furred predator paying the group little heed as it continued into the darkness in search of a more conventional prey.

It would be late morning by the time they walked back into camp after the long walk up the winding mountain paths, with them being met by a rather agitated Khalid
“Your Highness…um…Joshua, I didn’t mean for it to happen I swear it!” he quickly babbled in Jehennan as he bowed deeply before his king “…but you see when you were sick I…I wrote a letter back home to the Regent so he would…you know…know about it but he obviously didn’t get my other letter and…um…well…I’m sorry Joshua but he’s mobilised the Jehennan army they’re marching on the capital as we speak!”

Lord Regal

Well-Known Member
It was with great relief that Joshua finally set Sync down for the evening, his arms screaming for a break. The...whatever he was...showed no signs of waking up, though his breathing remained deep and even, signalling to the Swordmaster that he was at least not worsening. He sat down with a weary sigh, only to find his lap occupied within moments by Mei. He flushed as she launched into, in his opinion, a little over the top bout of affection, though any protest was cut off when she moved to rub his arms. Embarrassing though it was, his aching muscles were appreciative of anything he could get. Looking around, no one was really paying them any attention, so he opted to remain silent other than to kiss her once or twice when she moved to reciprocate...there was a time and place to pick battles, and this wasn't it. A modest dinner later and everyone more or less crashed, save the first watch. Joshua's turn would have been uneventful had he not been scared half to death by an animal passing by. It didn't take any real notice of him, but he felt a minor pang of homesickness...even in his mercenary days he hadn't come nearly this far east...the land was well and truly foreign to him, and it kept reminding him that he didn't belong...both in the people's attitudes and the local wildlife. Or maybe he was just tired and overthinking it. Probably that one...and he went back to bed with relief when his shift ended, pulling Mei close as he settled back in.

Another day, another slog with Sync in his arms. They were going up too, so the...thin air, Mei had said, was taking a toll on him as well. The man in his arms was as unresponsive as ever...was it his lot to just be unconscious most of the time? He didn't know, and speculating was just making him focus on the fact he was carrying someone going up a mountain. Suffice it to say that when Khalid ran up to them all frantic, the Swordmaster was in a mediocre mood at best. Only to be made worse by the alarming news that the Regent had mobilized the army because he had fallen ill. What. That didn't make sense. He gently set Sync down so he could focus before frowning and responding in his native tongue. "Khalid, why would marching on the capital help me if I were deathly ill? We weren't in the capital, we weren't under siege BY the capital, technically speaking...Kraemen Kayle, this is a disaster. We need to get there and stop them. And I swear I'm going to need to talk some sense into that senile old man, he's going to ruin everything my mother built diplomatically if he mobilizes the entire kraem army over something an army can't help with!" This was, admittedly, something worse than what the idiot had done with the Silvertongue family, but Joshua didn't feel nearly the same disgust. Panic, yes, but he was holding it together better than he thought he would. All they needed to do was find the army and bring them to a halt. He was fine, he had proof in his lack of being on a deathbed. If the Khitain army engaged them before he found them was going to be ugly. Very, very ugly.


Wincing in response to Joshua's temper flaring at the news of the arrival of the Jehennan army Khalid would wait until a suitable break in his king's rant before speaking in a patient voice "my liege...Joshua...were that the case I would agree with you but...Joshua you weren't sick you were stabbed and on your deathbed after being attacked by..." Khalid paused, there wasn't really a word within the Jehennan language for the clay soldiers that Liu Han had raised though he supposed golem might suffice if not entirely accurate "...the clay soldiers, which belong to the Khitain Imperial Army...regardless of the fact that you survived it can been construed as an act of war....sorry" Khalid said, finishing with an apologetic shrug. He hadn't meant for this to happen, he'd seen it as his duty to inform the regent of the dire condition in which the king had fallen, and he had sent another letter mere moments after Joshua or rather Sync had awoken informing them all of his full recovery. The only problem was that it was a very long way to Jehenna and messages often went missing or arrived late as it would appear had happened on this occasion meaning that either the regent was unable or unwilling to recall the army.

Meanwhile in contradiction to Joshua and Khalid’s mood of panic stricken dread, Mei would appear overjoyed at the prospect of the Jehennan royal army descending upon the Imperial capital “This is fantastic news! W-we should contact the other resistance groups and join up with the Jehennan army…w-we c-could end the war overnight!” Mei exclaimed in the same language, clearly itching to get started in contacting and uniting the various rebel groups within the country.

It was as the trio continued to chatter in a language that the majority of the group couldn’t understand that Alia would meekly approach Daner with the blonde and extremely quiet Khitain girl that followed him around like a little lost puppy giving her a wary look “so…what happens now? I mean we’re here but I have no clue as to what is going on or what I’m supposed to be doing” Alia spoke, clearly hoping that Daner would be able to give her life a modicum of meaning, after all his leadership had served them well in the dungeons. Upon hearing Alia’s question Lucy would also silently turn to look up at him questioningly. Glasya meanwhile simply crouched beside Taranis and tended to Gwyll who they’d managed to slip into a blue dress earlier that morning. It was clear that she was still extremely unwell but there was some colour in her cheeks and she had briefly awoken at several stages throughout the journey to whimper pitifully before lapsing back into a sleep. She would recover. Sync on the other hand was an entirely different story and the fact that he was yet to stir troubled Glasya deeply. She wanted her baby boy back

Lord Regal

Well-Known Member
Right, Sync had been stabbed, that's right. By a thing that a Khitain mage had done. Wonderful. And now, with greater Tiran still trying to fix its mage problem, the regent had left Jehanna without much of its army and come tearing off to show them that no one hurt their king without paying...or something. Kraemen Kayle Joshua hated action without thought...that was one thing he'd admired about his mother, she always thought through her actions before doing them. A great mother she was not, but he had never felt punished without cause...unless of course you counted being stuffed into a stiff shirt and forced to endure another diplomatic dinner punishment, which he had. Mei to his side was ecstatic with the news, thinking about how they could end the war with the support of the Jehannan army...which...she wasn't wrong, but he still didn't like the idea. "The numbers would help, you're right about that...but I don't like what the implication is. Jehanna gets a new monarch and their first international action is to invade another country? That's not setting a great precedent. Though I guess if we could spin it as liberating another land...which wouldn't be difficult since I have no intention of trying to annex the other side of the continent into Jehanna...but still, our army is just recently rebuilt, using it like this..." The Swordmaster rubbed his eyes. This was why he wasn't made out to be a monarch...he couldn't grasp the impact any decision could have. His mother could have, she'd've known exactly what to do. He wasn't any good at this. " you know if Khitai is aware of the Jehannan army yet? We have more options if they don't know they're here, and with how many resistance groups are out there it's possible they haven't been properly identified yet. I know you only know what's in the letter you got, and things may have changed since, but...anything is better than nothing at this point..."


Shrugging his shoulders in a defeated manner Khalid would briefly consider the question before replying “last I heard they were sailing the fleet into the bay so I’d have thought so by now” the look on his face saying that it was far too late to do anything about that “Joshua you’re not seriously considering going through with this? Throwing our soldiers into a war that has nothing to do with them?” He said, making it clear by the way that he spoke that he felt the question wasn’t even worth considering, something that Mei clearly didn’t appreciate “what’s that supposed to mean? I helped liberate your homeland!” She retorted angrily “that’s not the same and you know it”
“How is this not the same!?”
“Well for starters we were fighting the blood magi, this is a gods be damned civil war! Half of the rebel factions here hate the other half, so why should we risk the lives of our people for a war with no end!”
“Oh I see, so it’s fine for my people to die but not yours” Mei snapped, her eyes ablaze with barely suppressed fury. Knowing that there was no correct response to such an accusation and that to continue arguing with Mei whilst she was in this state would be futile, Khalid turned to look at Joshua as he coolly spoke “when you’ve decided what needs to be done then come and find me, and I’ll tell you the location of the army’s encampment, but until then I have a camp to run” he said, offering Joshua a polite bow before leaving him in the company of a fuming Sun Mei.
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The travel from the site of their escape was difficult enough and the evening spent in the forest wasn’t amazing, though the pheasant Taranis somehow procured for them was pleasant. Daner, for the most part, was preoccupied with the fact that Lucy was now back in his life and he was very glad to see her. Several hours after they’re coming back together, Brahmoth showed back up, his headache having cleared and the night was spent enjoying the sensation of feeling another human being beside him after so long alone on the road and dealing with Brahmoth’s lecherous suggestions. The sun rose, they set off, and the trek continued and not before too long in front of them stood… Khalid? He started conversing with Joshua and Mei and though Daner couldn’t follow what was being said, it being in Jehannan, he could tell it was clearly important. Alia approached him as the conversation continued and asked him what they were supposed to do and he shrunk back for a second before Brahmoth chided him. Come on lad, you’re better than this, give the girl an answer. “We, uh… Well. I don’t know what your history with Joshua is, but I trust him and so I’d ask you to stick with me and join the Resistance together. We need to figure out what they’re doing as…” Daner slowed down for a second as he remembered what he was carrying in his pocket and quite just how important it was again. “We, uh… Sorry, hang on, I need to say this now.” Reaching into his pocket and pulling out the star-shaped amulet from the folds of his clothing as Khalid turned to leave, he called out “Joshua! Mei! Khalid! I need to talk with you for a minute, you’re going to want to see this.”


As she slowly awakened, Akana would once again find herself within Leilani's tent with the tiny apprentice magi snuggled in close to her adding her body heat to that of the swathe of blankets that covered them so as to keep the chill winter air at bay. She wouldn't quite be able to recall why exactly she'd come to the young girl's tent only that once she was inside it had been impossible for her to leave again, though seeing as she had been allowed to remain within her lovers tent and subsequently sleep in, it was probably safe to assume that the Jiangshi Red had seen down within the jungle hadn't attacked them during the night.

It was also becoming clear that the threat of attack wasn't the only problem she would have to deal with as she spotted the large purple bruise upon Leilani's back which when coupled with the look of pure abject terror upon the girl's face as she'd entered the tent would lead her to believe that all had not been well in her absence "Mistress Sun has returned" Leilani's voice softly mumbled into the side of Akana's neck "...I recognising of accent anywhere" she continued with a soft chuckle, with it soon becoming clear that she was referring to the sound of arguing voices coming from outside.

Stretching languidly beside her like a well contented cat, Leilani would lean in to kiss her before softly speaking to her in broken Tiranian "I missing of you no leaving of me again?" her voice filled with obvious concern that that would be the case.

Quirking an eyebrow at Daner, Alia would reply in a voice filled with bitterness and hate that would cut through her depression like a knife "my history Daner is that the childhood friend to whom I was destined to marry and become Queen of a mighty kingdom ordered the execution of my entire family...I have no home, no family and no purpose...he has destroyed my entire life" she spat, momentarily turning to glare at Joshua's back before turning to look at Lucy " this is the girl you rejected me for? A scarred half breed incapable of speech...just as I thought my self-esteem couldn't get any lower" she said with a humourless laugh "I'll follow you Daner, and if that means fighting in his war then so be it" she stated moments before Daner ran to catch up with Khalid and the others.

By the looks that Daner received from two out of the three names he had called it was clear that he had perhaps not chosen the best of moments with which to speak with them and that the anger they currently held towards each other could quite easily be turned upon him instead, as made clear my Khalid's irate tone of voice "make it quick Daner some us have an army to run"
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Despite the noise that the Strike Team was making in its expedited return to the Resistance main camp, they encountered no enemy patrols, and no more of those Jiangshi. Their speed was such that they returned to their little site as astronomical twilight lit the sky in its predawn glow. The campfire was cold, but nobody in the Strike Team could muster up enough care to relight it. "Sleep," Red ordered, which the crew complied with without making a hint of complaint. As they shambled over to their tents, Red looked around at where Loolayannie's tent was set. A flickering candle in Loolayannie’s tent suggested that she was currently in. Naturally, Red had pay her a visit.

Akana regained consciousness sometime in the late morning. In bed next to her was Loolayannie. They were obviously in the magician's tent; Akana's desk was nowhere to be seen and the stacks of papers were conspicuously absent. Despite all the joy the visit had brought, it had also brought some disturbing news. There were obvious signs of abuse on Loolayannie, most notably a large bruise on her back. Akana would have liked to solve this issue by gathering up all the perpetrators, and beat them with a fitting wrench. But that wasn't how the civilized world was allowed to work. Legal justice needed to be meted out after completing a trial. Akana would bring the issue up with the leaders when she spoke to them later. Akana slowly got out of the bed after returning Loolayanie's kiss. "I miss you also. I prefer with you to stay. However, I must with Zoshua to talk. Come with me. The Ziangshi are real. They are here. You can the Ziangshi better than me to explain." Red quickly got dressed and waited for Loolayannie to do the same.

They headed to where May's voice was coming from. As they got closer, more could be heard. It sounded like she was arguing with Khalid in some foreign language. Red couldn't understand what they were saying. They finally got to the group, which was much larger than when they set out. Besides the two they had set out to rescue, four newcomers were with them. They all looked to be in a sorry state, with Sync and Gwyll both unconscious, and the newcomers bore signs of recent starvation. Red would have to take a look at them later. Perhaps her knowledge of Maurangerian medicine, limited though it was, could provide some assistance in their cases. "Guten morgen, everyone. I must with you several issues to discuss." It was obvious that there was much tension in the air; Khalid was still responding harshly when one of the newcomers called out to them. But these issues were much too important to put off until the squabblers had time to cool off. We have a new creature here. It is a ziangshi. Loolayannie can the ziangshi better than me to explain. I will a report later on them to write." It was extremely important to get this information out, but a complete follow up report wold be necessary to fully explain what was known about the Jiangshi. Red would get it out by the next day. It would be long work, but Red would get it done.


As three sets of quite hostile eyes turned to look at Daner, his interjection not having been at the most auspicious of times, the coward turned leader shrank back slightly. Alia’s parting comments could wait. Come on Daner, confidence. You can do this. Holding out the pendant he’d already pulled from his cloak, Daner gathered his courage and spoke. “Well the running of your army might be a bit easier with this piece of security.” He paused for a second, taking a deep breath before continuing. “I don’t know how much you guys know so I’ll run through this from the beginning. I presume you’re aware that the Emperor is actually some form of demon spirit possessing the boy’s body. What you’re probably less aware of is what this pendant is, and what it means. To give you the shortened version, and please don’t ask how I know this, there’s a dragon sealed under the main Palace. It’s sealed away by a set of keys, of which this pendant is one. I had another on my person but on my way here I was captured, and they took it. We got this one from the ruins though, and they can’t open the gate without all of them. So, uh… yeah. I did an important thing…” Daner trailed off having not figured out how to end what he’d been saying, before realising the obvious question. “Have you come across any more of these? They won’t help us fight but it’s important to keep a firm grasp on them.”


As her beloved Ana climbed out of bed in order to get dressed, a sullen pout would appear on the young girls face making it clear that she would have much rather remained within the arms of her lover for a little while longer. Deciding that this was something she’d have to work on at a later date along with finding the woman some feminine clothing so as to show off those gorgeous curves, even if only within the confines of her tent, Leilani would reluctantly get out of bed and quickly change into one of her dresses "You no having to be so formal with me Ana, you can calling of me Leilani…. or Ani if you like" she spoke as she fastened the buttons at the back of her neck. Although technically Lei was the more common way of shortening her name she had quite liked it when Akana had called her Ani, although it would be improper of her to be called that in front of Mistress Sun, as such it would be down to Leilani to begin teaching Akana some of the more important aspects of her culture so as to avoid embarrassment.

Before Akana had chance to don the last of her disguise Leilani would quickly snatch the scarf she wore about her face and hold it over her head, a futile measure considering Akana was at least a foot taller than her, though it had forced her to get close enough for her to kiss her, which had been her intention all along. And so it was on that note that the pair would leave the tent and travel the short distance to where Mei and the others were gathered, listening as a young Tiranian man spoke to them causing the young mage to gasp when she caught sight of what he was holding "where you finding of that!" she said running up to examine the pendant he carried "you must be telling of me, I searching for months for that!"

"You know what that is?" Khalid asked in a surprised voice. The young commander had worn a sceptical look upon his face throughout Daners story however with someone else present to potentially corroborate the tale he was now willing to give it a little more credence "of courseI knowing what it is! You foreign devils knowing of is being magic key Tazeko Kensei used to seal away dragon, now tell me where you find it!"

Like Leilani, Mei was likewise familiar with the tales of Tazeko Kensei and the dragon although she hadn't linked the two until her young apprentice had spoken of it, though truth be told Red's tale of Jiangshi was far more worrying considering her own recent encounter with those...things, she was also rather curious as to why Red and Leilani had arrived together? "They can't be, Jiangshi are just a children's story" Mei began, though considering the fact that Daner and Leilani's tale of dragons and magic keys had also sprung from such a source, perhaps that wasn't the best way to disprove something "...describe them, what were they like?" she asked in the vain hope that Red had simply misidentified some of the local wildlife. With all this talk of Dragons, foreign armies and the walking dead things were starting to get very messy and they were very real danger of everything they’d carefully built crashing down upon their heads.


Red was slightly confused about Loolayannie's request in the tent. Red had assumed that Loolayannie was her vornaven, yet she desired Red to not be so formal in her address. In Mauranger, it was considered very informal to address someone with only their vornaven; it was only done with family, close friends, and lovers. With everyone else, the vornaven and farnoven were used together. Red hadn't believed that the Khitain had three names, choosing only to adopt the vor and familie navene. Apparently, Loolayannie was her full name. Either that, or people familiar with each other went straight to a contraction of their vornaven. Regardless, if that was what Loolayannie wanted, then Red would start calling her Ani. She'd do just about anything to make Ani as happy as possible. Nearly immediately after they arrived at the fairly irate group, Ani became nearly ecstatic at the necklace one of the newcomers was holding. Upon further examination, it did remind Red of the pendant illustrated in Ani's book, one one that the federales believed to be their war winning key. If this necklace was that item, it could be possible to use it against them and win the war that much sooner. Though how a small pendant could win a war was anybody's guess. Though Ani believed that the pendant was involved with unlocking a dragon from somewhere. Though, if the amulet had been hidden away for as long as Ani believed it to be, combined with the opening theories of a Maurangerian first draft concerning the question of life, the dragon would definitely not be alive today, due to the scarcity of free energy to maintain its highly ordered internal systems. It would be nothing more than a pile of crumbling bones, not quite a war winning creature.

But that subject would be something that Ani would have to deal with, quite possibly being the most knowledegeable person in the camp on such matters. Red herself was called upon to defend the claim of the jiangshi encounter to May. Being a native of Khitain, May was of course at least passingly familiar with the stories of the jiangshi. She had grown up with these jiangshi as nothing more than legends; they were boogeymen to be driven out by the light of a candle. She was prejudiced to believe that the jiangshi were not real. And though the experience of Maurangerian science had proven many myths and stories to be nothing more than that, there were usually some parts of legends that were true. Very occasionally, very rarely, whole legends proved to be essentially fact. Unfortunately, it was Red's job to bring forth the evidence that verified that the jiangshi were real and that they were here. And though the report about the jiangshi and the Nord presence would be ready by tomorrow afternoon, May demanded some sort of proof immediately. The evidence that Red could provide would not be much better than anecdotal tellings, but it would have to tide May over until the full report could get out. "We observed the ziangschi the mercenary camp to attack. They ignored wounds. They had emotions not. They had fear not. They accept wounds over well. We fought one ziangschi. It refused death. It accepted wounds of the neck. It accepted wounds in the chest. It accepted wounds in the extremites. The wounds bled not. The ziangschi continued its attacks. It was killed by a strike to the head. It died of nothing else. It exihibited a mind free state. I discussed the ziangschi with Ani. The observations match the stories very well. I conclude the ziangschi are here. We must a plan against the ziangschi to develop." Of course Red was certain that a concrete plan to deal with the jiangshi was required before they were encountered in large numbers. If they truly could only be killed by cranial trauma, it would require a retraining of the troops, who were used to going for easier attacks to the chest or the extremeities. But that plan would have to be developed jointly by the people who had the most information about them and the people who had the most experience with them. At this time, those two people would be Red and Ani. Yes, many late night sessions would be required to develop new combat techniques for this new threat.