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Ehlmaris 06-29-2008 01:53 PM

The Power of the Ancients
 
Author's note: This is not really an RP per se, just an update on the status of my characters, what they are doing. Completely solo, just me and my characters following a story I have planned in my head. Feedback is encouraged, however. I would love to know what you guys think of this, as it's something that I have wanted to do for months now.

That said, read on, and enjoy the show!
-Ehl

EDIT: This story has ended. Please, if you have comments, let me know! I'd love to hear from you!


====================================
PART 1: THE PROPHECY
====================================

It is one year after the great war between the empires of Darislav and Arkos. The war-torn lands, still rebuilding, are beginning to prosper. Freedom and opportunity course throughout the lands. Ehlmaris, the god-king of the Darislav Empire, has taken Lady Warbird as his wife and queen. Imparting a portion of his divine power and knowledge to her, she has helped him in the ongoing struggle to maintain peace across the realm. However, a rumor from the north has reached the ears of the throne, a disturbing rumor that sends a chill along the spine of the king. He has called some of his closest allies from battles past to the Imperial Palace for a top secret conference...

Clint Arkanis, former Royal Knight of Darislav and now Dragon Knight of the Riders, gazes down on the imperial capital from atop his dragon. "It's been quite some time since I've been here..." The dragon swoops downward toward the royal stables, newly remodeled to accomodate visitors from the Council of Riders. It lands, stirring up a massive cloud of dust as it touches down. Clint climbs down, rubbing the beast's side. "Stay here... I won't be too long, I hope."

Meanwhile, Indrasil, a Paladin of the Holy Order and general of the great war, strolls casually toward the palace, his armor gleaming in the midday sun. Catching sight of the dragon's landing, he pauses for a moment and turns toward the stables, his pace slightly quicker. He reaches the stables, seeing the Knight walking towards him. "Clint, my old friend! How have you been?"

Clint smiles at the familiar face. "Old friend... heh, it hasn't been that long, has it?" He claps a hand on the paladin's shoulder. "I have been well. The Council has been hard at work lately maintaining the peace in the international arena. Luckily, most seem to welcome our return." He begins walking outward toward the palace, Indrasil staying by his side.

"Ah, Clint," says the other man lightly, "that is not what I was referring to. I asked about YOU, not the Council! Rumor has it you got married recently?"

The Rider looks down at the ground for a moment, smiling. "Yes... a week ago today, to Kate. You remember her, Thor's aide?"

"Yes, I do... but a week? Seems like a short honeymoon, if you ask me."

Clint sighs. "Too short... interrupted, even." He shakes his head slightly. "But the emperor was aware of our arrangements. If he called me away from my honeymoon, then it's because he truly needs the assistance. To be honest, I'm a bit worried."

"Oh, come on! It'll be just like old times, fighting side by side for freedom and justice! You should be more anxious to get going, if you ask me."

"I'd prefer not to fight, if possible. I think we've shed enough blood for one lifetime," replies the knight, his expression somewhat grim.

Indrasil, noting his friend's expression, turns his gaze forward. "Well... there's the palace up ahead, so I suppose we'll learn what we need to know soon enough." They continue onward in silence.

Emperor Ehlmaris sits quietly in the conference room, his hands folded in front of his face. His breathing is calm, though worry is evident in his posture. Warbird, sitting to his right, lays a hand on his arm. "They're here... I feel their presence. You have no need to worry, love," she says as a knock is heard on the door. "Enter."

The door opens, and Clint and Indrasil walk into the room, taking seats at the table. "My Lord," Clint says, "I hear you have a bit of a problem?"

Ehlmaris remains silent for a moment, then slowly lowers his hands, placing them flat on the table. "A problem... indeed. In the north, just outside the reach of the Holy Order and the scope of the Council, there is a man... or so I have been told." He unfolds a map on the table in front of them, pointing with his finger. "He supposedly resides in a small hut in this region, and if rumors are true, he could pose a greater danger to this world than the Arkosians ever did."

Hearing this, Indrasil leans in. "Your Highness... what sort of danger?"

The king looks the paladin in the eye. "When we laid siege to Arkos, we killed a man who held knowledge of the Ancients. The information he had was dangerous enough that it could have laid waste to my empire if he could use it." Looking down at the map, he continues. "This man... this man supposedly has an entire library of such knowledge." He glances between the two warriors. "He must be dealt with. Immediately."

Clint anxiously clears his throat. "I assume you will be joining us on this quest?"

The king sits back in his chair. "I am afraid not, my friend. Baradreth, King of the Gods, has called on me. I must meet with him in the Ethereal Realms. Speaking of which..." he rises to his feet. "I must be going. Warbird can answer any further questions you may have." He walks toward the door, glancing over his shoulder momentarily. "Good luck to the both of you." He leaves the room.

The three sit in silence for a moment before Indrasil speaks up. "Lady... what sort of obstacles do you think we might face?"

"Not much resistance until you encounter the man, I believe. However, he may be a difficult one... the rumors say he bears strange weapons, and if that is true, it may mean that he is a Darkforger, a master of the technology of the Ancients."

"The... technology of the Ancients?" Clint asks. "The same that... that brought the Cataclysm?"

"The same, though I doubt he will have anything of that scale. Be on your guard nonetheless."

Indrasil and Clint turn to each other for a moment. "We'd better get going, then," the paladin states. He rises and bows before the queen. "By your leave, milady," he says, exiting the room.

Clint rises as well, but slower. He glances at Warbird and then toward the door. As he turns toward it, Warbird speaks. "Clint... I have a request."

"Yes?"

"Arrest him."

"My lady, what..."

"I want the Darkforger alive."

He furrows his brow in confusion for a moment, but it passes. "As you wish." He turns and exits the room, heading toward the stables.

Meanwhile...

Ehlmaris Darislav crosses into the Ethereal Realms, standing before Baradreth Himself. "Great Baradreth, your servant awaits your command," he says, kneeling before the one who gave him his power.

"Ehlmaris... My emissary to the mortal world. My command to you... is to not return."

The man's gaze turns rapidly upward. "My Lord?! What did I... Why?"

"You have made a crucial mistake. Your power has been misused. The only reason you still live is because your intentions were pure... but nevertheless, events are now in motion that cannot be undone."

"Lord Baradreth, I do not understand."

"Of course not. You were never told of the Prophecy of the Ancients."

"Prophecy? What prophecy?"

The God tilts his head back, his voice booming:

"After the fall, after the cleansing, after the rebirth of man
Their ways shall rise, all to corrupt, at the Phoenix's hand.
The Heavens will shake, the Earth will break, Hell itself will be wrought with fear.
With a change in the wind, should the will of the Gods end, only man can make clear."

Ehlmaris falls backward in terror. "M...my lord... I had... no idea. I'm... I'm so sorry."

Baradreth turns his gaze again to Ehlmaris. "You will remain here. You will watch. Should the planet survive... you will return there. Powerless."

"And if... if it does not?"

"Then neither shall you."

doctor-warlord 06-30-2008 02:35 AM

(nice story i would love to read the next part of it)

Thors Battlehammer 07-02-2008 11:25 AM

(OMG the king leaves us once more...will the world ever be at peace??? Let's hope not =D)

Ehlmaris 07-06-2008 02:52 AM

========================================
PART II: THE DARKFORGER
========================================

After the conference, Indrasil and Clint were shown to their rooms for the night in the palace. A soft rain came down for two hours overnight, ending just before dawn. The skies cleared quickly and the sun rose, casting the world in a golden light. The two woke early and went about their morning routines. Now, they meet up in the stables.

Clint walks into the stable, finding Indrasil preparing his horse. He smiles, thankful that riding a dragon requires very little preparation in comparison. He is now wearing his armor, a magical suit of deep crimson plates, forged for his ancestor. Indrasil, too, bears his armor, the silvery finish reflecting the sunrise beautifully.

"Almost ready? We should get going soon, we have a long ride ahead of us," says the Rider.

"Not as long as you think; new roads are opening. I know a couple shortcuts, we can be there by midday. Still, you're right. Just a couple more minutes."

Clint nods and turns around. "Very well. I shall be waiting just outside." He exits the stables, leaning up on the wall by the door. ^Kate... My dearest...^

A voice echoes inside his mind. ^Hmm? Clint? Thinking about the wife, are you?^

^Yes, Droxi,^ he replies. Through their training together, Clint and his dragon partner Droxi had developed the ability to communicate telepathically. ^It's just... I'm beginning to question my status in the world.^

^What do you mean? Second thoughts about the mission, or the Council?^

^Both. Before Kate... I could do these missions freely. I could put myself at risk, try to help people. But now...^

^Now you have something to care about. Something to live for.^

The Rider looks down and softly sighs. ^Yeah. I do...^

"Clint! Let's get going!"

Indrasil's call stirred the dragon and his partner. Clint looked up and walked back to the stables. "Alright. Let's move." As he climbed on the dragon's back, the Paladin started riding toward the city gate. The dragon rose into the air with a few flaps of its massive wings, the red scales glistening in the morning sun. Remaining in the air, Clint could focus on his thoughts and concerns about the mission - and his wife - without the distraction of Indrasil. But not without his partner hearing.

^Clint, you cannot keep worrying like this.^

^I can't help it. She's all I can think about.^

^If you don't focus on the mission, your fears may come true.^

^Like you said... I have something to worry about for the first time. Ever.^

^Well, your worrying is only making me worry. This could get in the way of the mission.^

^If my concern is affecting you, then can't you stay focused and hope that rubs off on me?^

^I suppose it's worth a shot. Just try to keep your nerves down a bit.^

^Will do.^ Clint smiles slightly and looks off into the distance. ^Hmm, Indrasil wasn't kidding about the new roads. He can ride almost as straight as the bird flies.^

^Or the dragon.^

The Rider chuckles. ^Indeed.^

The ride goes smoothly. After a few hours, Clint and the dragon decide to land and stop for a bite to eat. The humans stay with the horse to prepare a fire while the dragon finds some food.

"So, what's for lunch?" asks the paladin as he drops some wood next to Clint.

"Whatever she can find for us."

Indrasil shakes his head. "Really? You eat what dragons eat? Weird."

Clint looks up. "Weird? How so?"

"Well, from what I've heard, dragons are totally indiscriminate in their food choices... they eat some pretty unsavory things. You really trust a dragon to get you safe food?"

Clint turns back toward the fire. "They eat basically the same as we do... they are carnivores, though. A Rider's partner does pick up on the omnivorous tendencies, though. She is getting pretty good at foraging. Found a delicious patch of wild strawberries just last week."

Indrasil sits down. "Whatever you say... I'm still going to double check her choices."

Clint restrains himself from making any sound... even a slight grunt. He had encountered such bias against dragons several times over the past year, a prejudice he had been working to undermine. If humans felt this way about dragons, if there was no trust, then the two races would never be able to live together in harmony.

^Ignore him, Clint. Let our actions do the job with this one. Words will not convince him,^ Droxi says to Clint through their connection. The human nods his head slightly, knowing that she is right. What better way to show Indrasil that the dragons can be trusted than by working alongside one?

Suddenly, the corpse of a moose hits the ground nearby, stirring up a wind that almost puts the fire out, just after it started. "Hey!" the paladin shouts. "Damn thing almost pupt the flame out!" He glances over at Clint, who chuckles lightly. "What's so funny?"

"You forget... this is a dragon we're dealing with. She can make a better fire on her own, you know. And besides, like I said, she is getting better at foraging, so we don't necessarily need the fire." At that moment, Droxi lands near the moose, gently dropping a few dragon-sized handfuls of berries to the ground. "She's even learned to be gentle with such things. Can't stand bruised fruit, myself."

Indrasil's eyes widen in amazement as he gazes upon the selection laid out before him. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, grapes, apples... He couldn't believe that a dragon could be so discerning in selecting food. "Well, I suppose... I suppose we do have a decent meal after all."

Clint stands to face the man, about to ask him to apologize to Droxi. ^No, Clint, don't. Go easy. It takes time to break old habits. Leave him be.^

^You're right. Let's just eat, shall we?^ The dragon lets out a small roar of approval, grabs the moose by the legs, raises it into the air and breathes a flame onto its carcass, ripping it open halfway through 'cooking' it, then setting it down for Clint to carve up.

The meal goes well, with Clint holding his tongue toward Indrasil's prejudice, all the while watching as Indrasil realizes that the dragons can be trusted more than he once thought. Soon the meal ends and they start on the last leg of the journey toward the Darkforger's abode. After three hours, they turn away from the road toward where the cottage should be. Soon, it comes into view.

^Droxi... stay out of eyesight as best as you can. I don't want this Darkforger to know we are here.^

^The element of surprise... I think I missed the part where you filled our companion in on this part of the plan.^

Clint bites his lip a bit. ^Damn... you're right. I meant to say something over lunch, but I was rather preoccupied.^

^Indeed you were! I thought you would have needed a nap after all you ate!^

Clint slaps Droxi's back slightly. ^Hey, I'm starting to get a bit of your appetite! It's your fault!^

Just then, they see movement. Clint strains his eyes, looking at the ground to see a man in simple robes, slightly overweight, balding... presumably in his mid-40's. He is standing behind a telescope... looking right at them. The man steps back and hesitates a moment.

^****! Droxi! He knows we're here. Move in, now! Go!^ The dragon moves immediately, diving downward with tremendous speed. In a matter of seconds they are not more than 30 feet off the ground. She flaps her leathery wings to reduce their momentum and lands, with Clint climbing off her back just as Indrasil arrives and leaps off his horse, sword drawn.

"You there! Stop! We are here on behalf of the Darislav Empire!" Indrasil marches toward the cottage, the mysterious man having fled inside as the dragon swept inward.

Clint, a few paces further from the doorway, calls out to Indrasil. "Wait up, don't rush in there!" At that moment, Indrasil reaches the door to the cottage.

In the next moment, everything goes silent. Not a half second later, the silence erupts in a flash of light and sound. The thatched roof of the cottage shakes greatly, with some sections falling off entirely. Indrasil flies back from the doorway about 20 feet before he hits the ground.

"INDRASIL!" Clint yells as he rushes over to check on the man.

Droxi, realizing that both of the humans have placed themselves in a very precarious position, moves between them and the cottage. She swipes at the thatched roof with her claws, tearing it off. She rears back and lets out a mighty roar into the cottage, striking the man with terror. He drops a strange looking object on the ground, and a green crystal falls out of what appears to be a handle. Seeing the crystal, Droxi rears back further as if to burn the cottage and everything else inside.

^Droxi! No! Stop!^

Just as her mouth begins to smoke, Droxi stops, glaring back at Clint. ^This is him! We have to deal with him! We have to do it now!^

Clint rises to his feet and marches toward the cottage. ^Lady Warbird wants him alive.^ He draws his sword.

Meanwhile, the man inside regains his composure. He grabs the object on the ground again, fumbling with the green crystal before he slides it back into the handle. He points one end at Droxi's chest, and suddenly a burst of electricity erupts from the tip, striking the dragon. Clint stumbles a bit as he feels his partner's pain, but he enters the cottage while the man is distracted by the dragon.

"Drop it! Now!" Clint points his sword at the man, slowly moving closer.

Ehlmaris 07-06-2008 02:53 AM

The man's gaze rapidly fluctuates between Clint and the dragon, yet he does not drop the object, which is now smoking out of the end that shot the electricity. Droxi lets out another roar, the sheer force of her breath forcing the man to fall back and drop the item.

Clint takes this opportunity and kicks the item behind him, closing in on the now-prostrate man. "Put your hands in the air. You are under arrest."

"You... are arresting me?"

"Yes. You will be transported to imprisonment in the dungeons of the Imperial Palace at Daris."

At this, the man on the ground begins to chuckle, growing quickly to full laughter. "Ha! Ha, you... you have GOT to be.... ha ha... kidding me! Ha... Oh. Has Ehlmaris... heehee... He's lost his mind, hasn't he? heh, heh!"

Clint stops for a moment, utterly confused by this display. He then acts, striking the man in the head with the butt of his sword, incapacitating him. He binds the strange man's hands and feet and, asking Droxi to monitor him, goes over to Indrasil, unconscious with slight internal injuries from the force of the blast. Calling upon his own brief training as a Paladin, Clint places a hand over Indrasil's heart, shuts his eyes, and utters a prayer softly. A faint light forms around his hand and transfers into the injured man. His eyes open.

"Clint... is... is the Darkforger...?"

"He's alive and bound. Droxi is watching him. Can you ride?"

"I... think so. But Clint... we should just... kill..."

"No. Lady Warbird told me she wants this man alive. I will not question that."

"You didn't... see that weapon, though."

"We will take it as evidence. It will go with you. Droxi will carry our prisoner. This way we keep them separated."

"As... you wish." Indrasil slowly stands and moves toward his horse as Clint goes to retrieve the mysterious weapon. He brings it to Indrasil, handing it to him once the Paladin is on his horse. Clint then returns to Droxi, telling her the plan. She nods and grabs the unconscious man.

"Indrasil, you take your time getting back to the Palace. We will fly ahead to drop him off, and will come get you once that is done." The paladin nods, and the Rider climbs onto the dragon's back. They quickly rise into the skies, taking off for the capital.

After about an hour, they arrive at the Imperial City of Daris and land outside the Palace. Clint leaps off the dragon, taking hold of the prisoner as two guards approach. "What is this?"

"We have a prisoner on the command of Lady Warbird. We must escort him to the dungeon immediately."

The guards nod. One moves to help Clint carry the unconscious man. The other speaks up: "I shall inform Her Highness immediately. You two go ahead and lock him up." Clint nods and they move quickly, putting the man in the dungeon. Clint rushes back to Droxi and they go to meet with Indrasil to escort him back safely.

Meanwhile, Lady Warbird strolls casually down to the dungeon. As she arrives at the man's cell, he wakes up. "So... you are the one that has caused this trouble. You are the one that caused my husband such distress. Tell me, is it true? Are you a Darkforger?"

The man looks at her, eyes barely open. "Y...yes. I am."

She kneels down next to the bars. "Do you have a name, Darkforger?"

"...Snarsh."

Warbird rises to her feet. "Very well, Snarsh Darkforger. I am Warbird. And I have many questions for you."

((Had to split this into two separate posts due to character count being over 12k :P turns out 10k is the max allowed.))

Ehlmaris 07-18-2008 05:28 PM

===========================
PART III: MINING RIGHTS
===========================

A week passes. Snarsh Darkforger remains in custody, while Clint and Indrasil take some time to rest from their journey. Then, at the end of the week, Warbird calls them into the conference room...

Clint Arkanis walks slowly to the conference room alongside Indrasil, who is still weak from his injuries. "I hope she doesn't have many more missions for us. I have to return to the Council, I have duties to attend to there."

Indrasil replies: "Yes, well, I'm not going anywhere for a little while, I still have to recover from that blast I took."

"Yes... that was quite a powerful weapon he used on you. I hope for the sake of humanity that we never see weapons like that again."

Indrasil glances at him briefly, then returns his gaze to the hallway ahead. "...Indeed."

They reach the conference room, enter and sit down. "Gentlemen," the empress says, "as it turns out there is more work to be done. Clint, I need you to go to the Council and deliver this letter to them," she says, sliding a rolled up piece of paper across the table, sealed with the Imperial Seal of Darislav. "It is a formal request for mining rights in the foothills of the northern mountains. Those lands are under the control of the Council, and as such we are willing to offer many things in exchange for the rights to mine there. Food, supplies, military support, economic aid, whatever they need."

"Milady... Would it be out of place for me to ask what you will be mining for?"

"Yes."

The Rider furrows his brow a bit in slight frustration, but allows the feeling to pass. "Very well. I shall deliver the letter. Is there anything else?"

"Yes, there is. Once the mining deal is established, I would appreciate it if you could gather the Council and any other interested parties for a conference here. Further details will be given at that time."

"As you wish."

"That is all for you, Clint. Indrasil... I realize your injuries are still fairly crippling, so I cannot expect you to go on these missions with Clint. Luckily they should not present any problems. As such, I would appreciate it if you could help me with a few things while you stay and recover."

"Things such as?"

"Research, mainly."

"Doesn't sound too hard. I'll do it."

A smile crosses the face of Warbird. "Excellent. Clint, you are dismissed. Indrasil, come with me." She exits to the throne room, the weakened Paladin close behind her, while Clint walks out to the main hallway and to the stables.

"Mining rights? That shouldn't be hard to do. The Council doesn't even use the foothills, as far as I know. But if the Empire keeps calling on me like this to do its work, things may change... Oh well. Best not to worry about it, I suppose," he says to himself as he reaches the stables. "Droxi, let's go. We're going back to the Council."

^It's about time. Did you tell the queen that we're not her personal police force?^

"She understands that. It's just that sometimes they need more than the Darislav military can provide."

^I find that hard to believe, but I sense you'd rather I let it go... Let's just get moving. I'm eager to see Jacuel again, and I'm sure Kate misses you quite a bit.^

Clint smiles, knowing that he will finally be with his wife again. "Yes... let's go." He climbs on top of his partner and they rise up into the sky, flying swiftly back to the Council.

================================================
This is now an open RP, anyone is welcome to join.

Ehlmaris 07-20-2008 02:56 PM

Clint and Droxi arrive at the council, landing on a plateau near the main area. "Ah, home..." the Rider says to himself. "I should probably go find Thor to discuss this message. Droxi, see if you can find Jacuel anywhere." He climbs down and begins to walk the rocky paths among the mountains. ^Would be nice to see Kate first, though.^

Relic 08-27-2008 09:06 PM

Yup, thats a story alright
 
Ehlmaris.. this is a beautifull and engaging story.
But i must say, you have way to much time on your hands.:p


- Relic

Vuxxa 09-11-2008 10:27 AM

Great story, very interesting. I'll be fun to see what will happen.

doctor-warlord 09-14-2008 06:39 PM

i hope the next part of the story comes soon

TBH 10-06-2008 01:40 AM

(Sorry it took me so long, after my hotmail hacking i forgot about this one going on -_- *Slaps self*)

Thor and Jacuel patroled the southern borders of Darislav, the home they were born in some hundreds years past. Now the new era of Riders were here and they held equal rule over the land with the King. Not long had they parted from the council. It seemed to be an eternity away from their mates and loved ones, though in reality it had only been a couple of weeks. To uphold their rule of the Rider Council they had to both order and do the same tasks of the other rider. That and they had a special task of finding potential recruits that they could train. Any youngling that had magical possiblities were considered for a test of intelligence and strength. They found two potentials and had sent runners to the King for the official requests.

They started on their two day journey back to the Rider Council so they could rest and what for a runner to call for them, Jacuel had requested that the Dragon villages send volunteers to settle at the base of their mountian both for protection and messengers. All the while keeping both Human passerbys and Dragons safe and fed under them. Thor could not help but smile as he tought of the good that has come from the recent wars.

Vuxxa 10-06-2008 02:13 PM

maybe ill get into this later

Ehlmaris 11-08-2008 04:01 PM

Clint leans back in his chair, smiling at Kate. They had just finished his first meal back at the Council, and are now enjoying the peaceful quiet that has embraced them. It's been too long... he thought as he reached over, placing his hand on hers. "I've missed you, my love."

She smiles back, resting her head on her hand. "Indeed..." she begins. Her eyes drift toward the table momentarily as her appearance shows signs of thoughts overwhelming her mind, preventing her from sharing Clint's pleasure in the blissful serenity of the moment.

"Are you alright? You look as if something's wrong..."

She bites her lip while hesitating. After a moment, she responds: "I'm fine... better than fine, really. It's just that..." she looks up at him, gazing into his eyes. "There's something I need to tell you, love."

The Rider leans forward, his eyes showing intense curiosity at the subject that occupies her mind. "What? What is it?"

She hesitates again, grasping his hand with both of hers. "I'm... Clint, I..." she breathes deeply, looking down at the table. A tear starts to form in the corner of her eye - not bearing the general qualities of a tear of despair or sorrow, however. "Clint, I - "

"Master Arkanis!"

The moment is interrupted by an attendant to the Council. Clint curses in his mind as he lowers his gaze from his wife's face. "Enter... and make it quick, please."

"Master Arkanis," the attendant speaks to him as he enters the room. "you asked to be notified immediately once we have word on Thor. He is returning at this moment and will be here momentarily." He looks more closely at the two sitting at the table, yet not so much at the people as the irritated looks on their faces. "I'm... sorry to disturb you, but..."

"No, it's alright. I said immediately, and I meant it. Thank you. You are dismissed." THe attendant nods and leaves as he turns back to Kate. "We will finish this conversation soon. But I must meet with Thor."

Kate sighs softly. "I understand. Go. This can wait a bit longer." She lets go of his hand and watches as he leaves the room.

^Droxi... I'm sure you've heard the news by now.^

^Clint... yes. I see them approaching right now. I'll instruct Thor to go on to meet with you in the main chambers.^

^Thank you. And as for Jacuel?^

^I... suggest you try to suppress the connection between us for the next few hours.^

^Heh. Thanks for the warning. Will do.^ Clint walks purposefully toward the main Council chamber where he waits for Thor to arrive.

TBH 11-08-2008 04:27 PM

(Nice ^.^)

Jacuel landed quickly and stayed down long enough for Thor to jump off. "Where is she..." The dragon muttered in his tongue, the symbiotic worm from the region translating the Draconic language for the humans that wanted it. "When I find her, I'm shutting the door."
"I'll be doing the same once I find my sweety, see you soon, I have a feeling someone has need of me." Thor chuckled then ran off.

Thor pushed his way passed attendents and warriors and other guests as he made his way into the Council. It constantly amazed him how fast they became the top of the gossip train and people were willing to visit them trying to get free help or a meal, he didn't care though it was his job to help out. He soon found Clint and joined him hoping that this little meeting was quick enough that he could have some personal time with his wife then with his children.

"It seems that whenever I get the feeling I am needed, times are getting rough. Please tell me I am wrong. Oh, I found a few more hopefuls, if we are allowed to fully test them we may be able to pair them with the same age of hatchlings this time. But my mission is constant, what news is dire?"

Ehlmaris 11-08-2008 04:40 PM

Clint smiles as Thor enters the room. "Heh. Quit your babbling, old friend, it seems to be nothing dire at all." He walks forward and grasps his fellow Rider's hand. "As far as we can tell, anyway. The current news is that Lady Warbird wants to secure mining rights in the foothills. She assures me that the Empire will be there for the sole purpose of extracting raw materials. The current deals we have with them as far as diplomatic treaties, trade, and recruitment would remain in tact. In addition, she says she is willing to provide compensation for these rights, most likely in monetary form but potentially through expanded recruitment."

He sits down at the table and catches his breath for a moment. "But that's all politics. There's something else going on here. Not 'here' as if to say relevant to the mining request, mind you - but more to deal with the Darislav Empire in general." He pauses a moment. "Ehlmaris is... indisposed. Last I saw of him was when he called for me about two weeks ago. He's been summoned by his... superiors. I know not why. The lands are left in Warbird's charge for now, and she seems to be taking Indrasil as an advisor to represent the Holy Order to her since Ehlmaris is absent. I worry about her, to be honest."

He lowers his head momentarily, then shakes it as if to shake off the grim mood these thoughts have created in the room. He rises and approaches Thor again. "But no matter. She will be fine, I'm sure. We'll discuss this more later - you go and see to your family. I'll be in my quarters if you should need me."

TBH 11-08-2008 04:48 PM

Thor pinched the bridge of his nose then felt a shiver of ecstasy then all went still. "He's gone again? Wonder how long this time, oh well. Thinking of which, how is you better half?" Thor smiled then turned his back. "Frankly, I am wondering if her... gift is well."

Ehlmaris 11-08-2008 04:51 PM

Clint, having already crossed halfway to the door in his eagerness to return to the conversation that was interrupted, stops in his tracks. He turns around, expressing a high degree of confusion. "Gift?" The inherent meaning in the word having escaped him, Clint starts to wonder. "What sort of gift? She was about to tell me something before you arrived, but an attendant interrupted... could she have meant this gift of which you speak?"

TBH 11-08-2008 04:58 PM

"Go talk to her, I've been here a few more months than you, and if you cannot see the results you are as blind as you are stubborn, go youngling, live your elder to tend to the needs of the flesh." Thor chuckled as he thought of his lovely dragoness and children, three months or so since he last spoke to them, he needed the family time.

Ehlmaris 11-08-2008 05:10 PM

Clint raises a suspicious eyebrow. "I... see. I think. Well... I think I'll go and see to her, see if I can figure out what the hell you're talking about. Give the family my best, and let them know I'll stop by and see them in the morning, or at least before returning to Darislav with our reply to the request, once we've settled on something." He walks out of the room and trods toward his chambers. Gift? Gift? What could he possibly mean, gift? The Rider enters the room and sees Kate finishing the dishes from their meal.

"My love... I believe we had something to discuss."

She turns around, showing an anxious smile. Biting her lip, as she tends to do when her nerves start to take over, she walks over and puts her arms around him. "Yes... we do. Clint..."

He holds his wife close to him, clutching her tight in anticipation. "Yes?"

"I'm...." She tightens her grip such that a nail or two digs into Clint's back. "I'm pregnant."

The two stand in silence, holding each other close.

TBH 11-08-2008 05:19 PM

"Ah, young love... now I hope my lovely wife is in our room... and I need to stop talking to myself." Thor sighed then moved on with vigor to his chamber hoping to find his love waiting on him as hoped.

He entered his room and thanked every god he could think of as he found Pyris and Debra and her mate gone for a while. He saw his mate laying in thier bed reading a novel Jacuel had gotten her so she could learn of her heritage. He removed his tunic then slid in next to her. Without a word he kissed her and closed his eyes in bliss...

Kira_Mel 01-23-2009 01:52 AM

hi

Vuxxa 01-24-2009 12:06 AM

(hello.)

zenga 01-24-2009 12:29 AM

some weird people here on nodiatis :D too much fantasy

Ehlmaris 01-24-2009 05:13 AM

(I should really update this some time.)

Perloo 02-19-2009 10:11 PM

(Update it, this is great stuff, keep it coming!:D)

Ehlmaris 07-08-2009 04:56 AM

(Going to post an update soon...ish. Once the semester's over. Couple weeks to go.)

EDIT: Going to move it back to closed, solo adventure... Will seek Thor's permission to improv any actions/dialogue from characters under his command (Thor, Jacuel).

TBH 07-10-2009 10:23 PM

(Bump bump, ;) He's got it and now we wait for the much needed update I miss the RPing

Ehlmaris 08-25-2009 11:39 PM

Morning breaks over the mountains. The various dragons and humans of the Council's village rise out of their beds to go about their day... all but two. Sitting on a ledge, Clint watches the sun rise. Kate leans on him, her head resting on his shoulder. "Clint... say something. You've been speechless for hours. What is it?"

He blinks a few times and shuts his mouth, collecting his thoughts for a moment. "I..." he eventually stammers. "I don't... this... I wasn't ready for..." he looks at her eyes, then down to her abdomen. "I wasn't ready for this. I've been a military man all my life, Kate," he says, returning his gaze to her eyes, wrapping an arm around her. "I've fought for king and country. Now I fight for this entire land," gazing out over the hills, plains and forest, "and if I died in battle... it would be to ensure that you were safe. That future generations would be safe. But now... I don't know."

"So... I'd be safe, but our child wouldn't somehow?"

"It's nothing like that. The Council, the Empire... this child would have thousands who would keep it safe, just because of me. It's just... I wouldn't be there."

"You don't have to fight."

"I can't do anything else," he sighs as he turns his gaze downward. "I've never done anything else..."

"You had to do something before you became a soldier..."

"No. I didn't. I trained as a Paladin starting when I was six. I left there at 14 and headed east. I trained with a martial order there. I came back and joined Ehlmaris. That's it."

"What about before that? What did your parents do?"

He bites his lip, then chuckles slightly. "That would be ironic... follow in dad's footsteps." He looked up, still biting his lip, almost breaking the skin. The morning sun causes a tear at the corner of his eye to glisten. "They died resisting the Arkosians. They died... in battle. They left me alone. I swore I'd never do that... I swore I'd never have a child. I swore I'd never fall in love, just so I couldn't abandon someone like that."

"Clint... I'm so sorry, I..."

"...had no idea. I know. Nobody did. Not even Ehlmaris knows this." He wipes his eyes. "I don't know, Kate. I've got to find something else. I don't see how Thor does it... going into battle, risking his life... risking leaving his children fatherless. I can't do that."

"This baby is coming eventually, Clint, but not tomorrow. You've got some time to figure it out. And I know you will. Just focus on today." She wraps her arms around him, kissing him on his cheek. "You probably won't even need your sword today," she jokes, smiling slightly. Clint just gazes down at the valley below.

"I hope you're right."

((going to do a bunch of posts tonight... feeling creative.))

Ehlmaris 08-26-2009 12:15 AM

Thor opens his eyes slowly as the sounds of a new day begin around the village. He turns his head, kissing his mate on the forehead, careful not to wake her. He gently rises out of the bed and, once firmly planted on his feet, he turns back, smiling as he sees the dragoness smiling away in her slumber.

He dresses and walks onto the street, taking a moment to breathe in the fresh mountain air. The Rider looks around, raises an eyebrow, and looks around again. Clint's not out and about yet? He's usually an early riser... He couldn't have kept himself up all night with Kate... He crosses his arms and laughs internally. Couldn't blame either of them, though. He walks around the village briefly, checking in with the inhabitants, taking a moment to greet the new recruits and check on their progress. After a few minutes, he heads toward Jacuel's resting spot.

^Jac... warn me now if I'm intruding on anything.^

^You're not, trust me. I was wondering when you'd wake up... we've got things to discuss.^

Thor's pace quickens as he approaches the dragon. ^What? What's going on?^

^It's Droxi... she's sensing something is amiss with Clint.^

He reaches the dragon and sees Jacuel nuzzling Droxi, who is clearly worried about her partner. "What? Droxi, what's going on with Clint? I thought he'd be ecstatic. What? Is he awake?" he asks rapidly in the Draconic tongue.

"He is... but he's shut me off completely. He's never been able to shut me off like this before. Last thing I sensed was that Kate told him... well, she gave him news."

"Oh, that. He probably just wanted to... celebrate. Didn't want to interrupt your time with..."

"Thor, he's not happy," the female interrupts.

"What?"

"He's panicking. That's all I know. He's been up all night."

Thor stands frozen at this. It had been forever since he first became a father... more than the span of a normal human's life. It was still clear in his mind, however... the joy, the excitement. "That... that makes no sense. I thought he'd be ecstatic,"

"As did we," Jacuel pipes up. "But he's anything but."

"I'll check on him." The dragons nod at him. Thor turns around and heads toward Clint's chambers quickly, with intense concern written all over his face. As he walks, heads turn along the streets. Once someone has lived more than a century, they tend to take things slowly. Their moods rarely swing. The transition from the regular jovial Thor to his current disposition hadn't been seen in the mountains since the wars.

Thor knocks on his fellow Rider's door. "Clint, are you up yet? Kate?" He knocks again, a bit impatient. He reaches to knock a third time and almost knocks on the face that opens the door.

"Ma... err, Thor..." says Kate, still not quite used to having her freedom. "Good morning... what can I do for you?"

"You told Clint?" he inquires in a hushed yet urgent tone.

She looks down, wringing her hands. "Yes."

"And?"

"He's... on the balcony."

"I want to talk to him."

"I don't know... he's a bit, um..." She looks up and glances over. Clint rose slowly, faintly hearing Thor at the door. "I don't know if he feels like conversation... he's a bit groggy."

"I'm wide awake Kate." Clint walks over as if in a daze. "Thor... hey... What's up?"

The elder Rider takes a moment before responding. "I... should ask you the same. I just spoke to Droxi."

Kate looks at her husband, who stares at Thor. "Droxi? I..." He thinks for a moment and realizes that he hadn't overheard anything from his dragon partner since Kate gave him the news. "Oh... right. Sorry. I'll check in."

"Clint."

"What is it Thor?"

"Are you alright?"

He nods slowly for a moment. "I'll be fine."

"Want some company returning the news to the Empire?"

Clint continues nodding slowly as he reopens his mental connection to Droxi. "Yes... yes, please."

"Okay..." Thor watches him a moment and then sighs heavily. "I'll start making preparations for a day trip. I'll come and get you when we're ready to go." He starts to turn and then calls over his shoulder. "Oh, and you're going to let one of us in on what's bothering you. Me, Jac or Droxi. We're a team. Can't have you thinking out of the situation if things get heated." The Rider leaves just as concerned as before.

Never say that again, Clint thought. Anything but that.

Ehlmaris 08-26-2009 01:10 AM

Meanwhile, on the ethereal plane...

Ehlmaris gazes at a vision of the events on the earthly world. His arms are crossed, his expression stern. He shakes his head. "We can't allow this. You can't allow this," he demands as he turns to Baradreth, King of the Gods.

"We have no choice."

"You have to do something!"

"There is nothing we can do."

"You can send me back! I can stop this from happening! I-"

"You started this. YOU brought this upon the world, Darislav."

"But I never thought-"

"That's right. You never thought about the repercussions of your actions. Had you thought, this would not have come to pass. We put our trust in you. The Pantheon put its powers in you. You failed us. You betrayed our trust."

"So you're just going to sit back and watch?! Don't you care what happens to your world?!"

"It hasn't been our world for millennia."

"What?"

"We would like nothing more to intervene. As I told you... we have no choice."

"You're the Gods. You made this world. You can save it."

Baradreth sighs, shutting his eyes. "We... are powerless in this."

Ehlmaris opens his mouth as if to speak, but no words come. No words can express his confusion.

"Allow me to tell you the full story... of the Ancients."

He didn't already? thought the human. "I thought you had imparted your knowledge to me..."

"We left some parts out."

"But why?"

"Because of the only thing that you humans can claim as yours. The only thing you had truly created. The one thing that we never foresaw. Pride."

"Pride?"

"We... I..." The God falters. "I have been too proud to admit that we have weakness. That we are now powerless. The Cataclysm... the tragic event that burned the world ten thousand of your years ago... the final event of the War of the Ancients. Their power was not the cause. We were. The Ancients truly threatened us - they could have destroyed us, leaving the world to their own wicked schemes. Their technology had become so advanced that they could not be defeated by anything less than the combined work of the entire Pantheon. We had to rain fire on the world. We had to strike them down, and the only way to do that was for the world to be engulfed in devastation."

The human gazes in awe, trying to even picture such wrath.

"I hoped that humans would survive. I hoped you would have a second chance. I hoped that you would be able to do things right. I held back. And that... is when I became the King of the Gods."

Ehlmaris shakes his head. "But... but you're... that can't be. You were always... ALWAYS!"

"So we told the survivors. But I was a mere servant, as you are to me. I oversaw the creation of humans. I gave them life, soul, thought. They gave me pride. Pride in my creations. I could not believe that I had done wrong, so I held back. As a consequence your race lives... but the Ancients were not destroyed, only lost. My superiors pushed so hard that day... they used so much of their power... that they were destroyed as well. He Who Is... for we had no name for our Almighty Lord... was consumed. At that moment we were banished to the ethereal plane. We have never been able to return to your world. Our very existence is bound to you... to humanity's belief in us. It has never been as strong as it was then... The Ancients all believed in us. They saw us. Every day we would walk the streets, the plains, the forests. Every day we would openly display our power. Now... the world has lost its faith."

"But, the Order..."

"...has been corrupted. You saw it with your own eyes. Your former master at the Order helped enslave your own people."

"So... what can be done?"

"Humans must stop this before it is too late. For us to have power, humans must put their faith in us. But now, for us - for your world - to exist, we have to put our faith in humans. You've proven us wrong twice... the Cataclysm and now. My own creation has failed me twice. I gave you a second chance. Can you give yourselves the same?"

Ehlmaris 08-26-2009 02:39 AM

===========================
PART IV: MISSION
===========================

Thor approaches Clint's chambers and knocks gently on the door. "Clint, we're ready. Let's get this over with."

The knight opens the door, clad in his full battle armor. "Alright. Let's go."

Thor looks him up and down. "Really? We're just going to talk. You won't need all that."

Clint shakes his head, still preoccupied. "I'm not taking any chances. Not anymore."

Thor sighs, then nods. "Alright... I think I understand. Droxi and Jacuel are waiting for us. Come on." The two men walk down the road to the dragons. "Ready to talk?"

Clint remains silent.

"Okay... maybe later." They continue to walk in silence until they reach their partners. "Jacuel, let's do this quick. We..." he glances briefly at Clint, "...don't need to be gone long." They mount up and take to the skies, heading in a beeline for the Imperial City.

^Clint, please. Talk to me. You can't just keep this all inside. You've at least talked to Kate, right?^

^Yes, Droxi. I have.^ Clint grips the reins tightly.

^And are you going to talk to me?^

^Maybe. Not now. Stop pushing the issue.^

Droxi silently consents. The ride is the quietest the four have experienced in their lives. They land at the stables, and the men dismount and walk through the streets. "So, Clint," Thor says, trying to distract him with conversation, "Droxi told Jacuel there's a conference going on?"

"Yes. And before you ask I don't know what it's about."

"Do we know who's taking part?"

"Nope."

"And how's Indrasil? I hear he took quite a blow."

"We'll see."

"Okay..." The two reach the Palace and head straight to the conference room. They enter to an almost packed table - just enough room for the two of them.

"Gentlemen, thank you for coming." Lady Warbird rises from her seat, smiling softly. "Clint, were you successful?"

Thor interjects. "The Council has agreed to your request. Just don't mine at night - dragons have sensitive ears and get cranky if they don't get their sleep." A few chuckles are heard around the table.

Warbird sits down. "Good. The Empire thanks you. Now, as for why I called you all here - Thor and Clint of the Council, Indrasil of the Holy Order, and the leaders of the liberated states of the former Arkosian Empire - we seek to expand diplomatic relations through the world. The coastal lands to the west," she states, looking toward the former Arkosians, "I would appreciate it if you could send ships out to other continents, establish ties with them. The Order has agreed to move north and assist us with securing trade routes and support there. Darislav will be moving beyond the Southlands to meet with tribal leaders there. I would like the Council to go east and inform them of what has been going on here. We lost contact with them when Darislav was first invaded, and I would like them to know that our lands - all of our lands - are more stable and prosperous than ever."

She rises from her chair and walks slowly around the table. "The maritime mission will assist us in finding new people, new cultures, in addition to new trade routes. North and south of all our lands, the people are a bit... primitive. The extra trading resources will assist us in helping these cultures become more civilized. The east would reunite us with a great ally. I have never seen better swordsmanship than has come from the east... of course, hopefully, we won't need that." She stops behind Clint. "Rider Arkanis, if I recall correctly, you trained with them?"

He nods.

"Good... I think they'll be more receptive to a familiar face. I'd prefer, however, if you and Thor would both go on this mission... it would show solidarity between the people."

Clint breathes a barely noticeable sigh of relief. Thor glances over at him. "I agree... we'll have to stop by the Council first and let them know what's happening. But I can spare some time."

"Good. Does anyone have any objections?" She glances quickly around the room. Everybody remains silent. "Very well. Just as a reminder - as we are trying to meet with people who have not spoken to our lands in decades, if at all, it is advisable that you be prepared. The safety of our lands and our people is of utmost importance here. One last thing... I would, before ending this meeting, like to apologize for my husband's absence. He has wanted to expand contact for some time now, but is currently indisposed due to diplomacy of a different nature... Hopefully he will return by the time we meet again." She finishes her circle around the room and stand behind her chair. "I wish you all success in your missions." The dignitaries all rise and head out... saving Indrasil.

"Well done, Milady. Very articulate... I have to say, your words reminded me of Ehlmaris a bit."

The door shuts as the last person leaves. "And you are certain the Order will serve my purposes?"

"With all its might."

"Good. The western states, having been subjugated for so long, will send a good portion of their forces with the dignitaries. And while the Council has grown quite powerful, let's face it." She turns to Indrasil, grinning. "Thor and Clint are the majority of that power. And if you ask me... Clint seems a little off."

"That doesn't... concern you, does it, Milady?"

"Of course not." She walks toward the door. "Mining will begin tomorrow. We dig deep. The resources we need are archaic. I believe that with the amount of time that has gone by with no such harvesting, we'll find plenty of junk before hitting the real treasure."

"And what treasure is that, exactly? You still haven't told me."

"Fossilized dragon bones. They become gems about a century after the flesh decays away... and as time goes on, they condense, increasing the magical power contained within... There may even be some dating back to the Cataclysm. Not even the Ancients had gems that old." She opens the door. "Make sure the miners bring back some samples of the weaker stuff closer to the surface, though. Just to tinker with."

"As you wish."

Ehlmaris 08-26-2009 03:58 PM

Thor and Clint exit the Palace and walk along the streets toward the stables. "Glad the Empire's asking us to help with more peaceful things now," Thor says as they pass the market stalls.

"Indeed... almost strange."

Thor chuckles. "Well, it's about time things settled down."

Clint stops in his tracks. "You're right, but... something isn't adding up."

Thor raises an eyebrow. "How do you mean?"

The knight turns around and gazes back at the Palace. "This whole situation seems weird. Warbird had Indrasil and I capture the Darkforger... I didn't question it then, and I feel bad about second guessing her judgment. But now that I think about it... I don't think she and Ehlmaris would have agreed on that order."

"You're saying he would have had him slain? Ehlmaris isn't like that. He sees the good in people. He gives them the benefit of the doubt."

"This is different... Any time knowledge of the Ancients has come up, we've destroyed it. When Arkos attacked the Empire again, he was ruthless in ensuring the limited knowledge they had of the Ancients was wiped out."

"They posed an immediate threat to the Empire, though. You had told me this man was living in a hut by himself."

"Yes, but... even he thought it odd that we were arresting him."

"Still, it's different circumstances."

Clint shakes his head and continues toward the stables. "No. It's not. The only difference is that the Emperor isn't here. He's only spent this much time amongst the Gods once before... and when he returned, it was when we needed him most. I'm getting deja vu, Thor."

The old Rider follows. "You're being paranoid. I can't blame you," he says as he catches up. "You've got a child on the way. You're concerned about its safety, as well as your own. You want to be there for your kid - you're already fulfilling your responsibilities as a parent."

Clint turns and looks at Thor, silently acknowledging that the man was right about his fears.

"You're overanalyzing it, though. Ehlmaris gave Warbird his wisdom, right? She knows what she's doing."

"I... guess you're right." They reach the stables and mount the dragons. "But I'm going to keep the paranoia around for a while longer, if that's alright."

Thor chuckles, as do the dragons. "That's fine. We'll have the Council keep a close eye on Kate while we're gone."

"The eastlands are far, Thor. We'll be gone for a month. I can't leave her for that long, not now." Clint pulls on the reins, and Droxi rises into the sky. "She's coming with us."

The dragons rise over the city as the sun starts to set. They catch a glimpse of the caravan of dignitaries heading west as they return to the mountains. Please, Ehlmaris, come back soon, Clint thinks to himself. Prove Thor right. I want to be wrong on this...

TBH 08-26-2009 10:15 PM

(^>^ *Ish speechless* Care for a swap-off? Sounds like we could have fun doing extened 'chapter posts' like this)

Ehlmaris 08-27-2009 09:20 AM

((Worth looking into at the least. We'll discuss that more privately.))

TBH 09-10-2009 03:41 PM

*POKE* (Ummm....yea.... update? working on it or is it up to me...cuz i forget what we planned and I did not save the PM's......)

Ehlmaris 09-11-2009 03:01 AM

(I'm working out the coming parts... gonna stick to doing it solo for the rest of it. May be a bit before I update, though.)

Ehlmaris 09-15-2009 05:33 AM

((holy crap, an update?!))

After a brief stop at the Council to pick up Kate and inform their allies there of the mission, the Riders take to the skies again. For several days they fly east, stopping only twice a day to rest and eat. One week following their departure from the Council, they reach a small city.

^Droxi... let's set down outside the city. I'll approach the gates by myself; I've been here before, so they'll likely be more receptive if I introduce us.^

^Sounds like a good plan.^ She roars over to Jacuel in Draconic, who nods his approval. The two land, their wing flaps causing waves to flow through the grasses below. Clint dismounts, asking Kate to stay back for a moment. She nods silently as Thor comes to her side.

Clint looks at Thor. "I'll be right back. The people here are probably about ten different kinds of confused right now - it's been a generation since dragons were here."

"Go on, talk to them. Just... be careful," Thor says.

Clint nods and approaches the city walls. As he nears the gates, they open enough for a small band of soldiers to come out, their pikes pointed at the dragons in the distance. A man follows them, clad in lightweight leather armor. "Never thought I'd see you again, Arkanis..." The man glances at the beasts behind. "Or any of their kind." His hand rests on the hilt of a thin longsword in its sheath.

Clint holds up his hands before him. "Hands off the weapon, Joran. I'm here to talk."

Joran grins slightly. "You know, I should be offended that you would think this would be a threat," glancing down at the hilt. He removes his hand from it. "But you know how quickly that sword can end up at a man's throat." He extends a hand forward. "How have you been?"

Clint smiles and shakes the man's hand. "Good. I've been putting the skills we used to practice to good use in the west."

Joran gestures to the group behind Clint that they can come forward, and the soldiers slowly move into a more friendly stance. "We had heard there was some sort of war going on. Even heard tales of a... Dancing Demon?"

Clint chuckles. "Yeah... they used to call me that during the Arkosian occupation. You should've seen it," he says, turning slightly to look at his comrades and wife. "Some of the bastards even wet themselves."

Joran laughs heartily. "Ah, westerners... your countrymen sound like an entertaining bunch. I might just have to visit next time there's a war!"

The group reaches the two men. Thor speaks up: "Hate to disappoint, but it's actually pretty peaceful over there these days. That's actually why we're here." He extends a hand. "Name's Thor. Clint and I, with help from a number of others, have reformed the Council."

Joran raises an eyebrow at the man. He hesitantly shakes his hand. "The Council... you don't say. I suppose that explains those two," he says, looking up at the dragons. His gaze turns to Kate. "Doesn't explain her, though... she doesn't look like much of a Rider."

Clint glares at Joran.

Seeing this, as well as the bands on Kate and Clint's fingers, Joran realizes his offense. "Though... appearances can be... deceiving..."

^Jac, did we bring a shovel? I think he's trying to dig a hole,^ Thor thinks, trying not to smile. The dragon blows his cover by laughing out loud.

"Anyway, um... I suppose you'll be talking to the Masters, then?" Joran looks at Clint, biting his lip slightly.

Clint inhales deeply and slowly. "Yes. Yes, I will."

"Well, you know the way to the temple. You also know the rules. We'll take care of your companions while you speak with them," Joran says as he turns and begins to walk back to the gates.

"The rules are going to change a bit."

Joran stops. "What did you say?" The man remains facing the gates.

"Thor's coming with me. I'm not going alone."

Joran turns around, staring into Clint's eyes for a moment before speaking. "You know that such a thing hasn't happened in decades."

"And there hasn't been a Council for centuries. Things are changing," he states, staring the man down.

Joran grinds his teeth together. "I'll notify the Masters. Just... pray you don't offend." He turns back to the city. "It would be a shame for the West to lose its reminder of our skill."

((also: I've starting work writing stuff based almost entirely on the RP's we've done. I've got chapter one of book one done, and it's... well, it's alright. I'll edit it as time goes on, I'm sure. If I eventually end up with a book deal, I'll be approaching several of you to discuss legal BS! If not, I'll just release it free online. TOTALLY STOKED ABOUT THE BOOK(S) AND THIS RP AND BRIGHT ERA RIGHT NOW OMG. i bet you cant tell.))

Ehlmaris 09-15-2009 06:55 AM

((too excited to sleep. updating again.))

Clint, Thor and Kate settle into an inn of the city as the dragons wait outside. "I'll tell you right now, the first thing we're gonna do once we've got diplomacy here," Thor says, looking out the window, "is build a stable big enough for dragons." He gazes at Jacuel and Droxi, cuddled up outside the walls. The sun is setting, the last rays glistening on their scales.

Kate chuckles. "Good luck with that... this city looks packed enough as it is!"

Clint smiles, happy to see her in such spirits. He joins Thor at the window, looking at some hills in the distance. "It'll be a few days before Joran returns from meeting with the Masters. I suggest we all get comfortable here."

Thor steps aside, leaning against the wall, looking at Clint. "I suggest we find a meal. I don't suppose you know where we could get a meal big enough for them?"

Clint glances at Thor briefly. "The dragons? That'll be... difficult. We don't have anything to trade with, so getting cattle will be difficult. We'll probably have to do a couple odd jobs..."

Kate interjects. "It's fall... harvest time. Farmers could probably use some help with that."

Thor nods. "That's a good idea. Some of those fields looked pretty ripe - and pretty big. We can talk to the farmers in the morning about it."

Clint nods. "Sounds good to me." He walks to the room he and Kate are sharing. "It's been a long flight... we really should get some rest," he says, looking back at the two.

"Probably. Well, I'll see you two in the morning, then," Thor says, turning to his own room. "Night."

Kate rises and follows Clint into their room. The door shuts, and he gently pulls her close, his eyes shut, chin resting atop her head. She draws her hands upward along his back, resting them on his shoulders. "Thank you, love," she whispers.

He pulls back slightly, gazing into her eyes. "Thanks? What for?"

"Thank you for smiling earlier... You've been so worried lately. It's good to have you happy... to have you back."

He smiles, pulling her close again. "It's good to be back." They climb into bed and quickly fall asleep.

The rising sun of the next morning shines light through the window, gently resting the glow on Clint's cheek. He slowly opens his eyes and, finding Kate still fast asleep, head and hand resting on his chest, bends his neck and kisses her lightly on top of her head. He gently climbs out of bed, careful not to wake her, and exits the room to find Thor waiting at a table nearby. "Morning!" he says with a smile.

"Back at ya," Thor says. He motions to a chair across from him. "One of the farmers came in for a cup of tea while you were still asleep. I told him of our situation, and it turns out he could use some assistance over the next two days. Ever harvest corn before?"

Clint sits down, pouring himself a cup of tea. He sipped lightly before answering. "You realize who you're talking to, right?"

Thor laughs. "Good point. Besides, we're not going to harvest normally anyway."

Clint takes another sip of tea. I forgot how good the tea was out here... He sets his cup down. "Okay... so how ARE we harvesting?"

Thor sips his own drink. "The dragons are going to rip up the stalks and shake 'em in the air. You and me will just pick up the ears as they hit the ground."

Clint nods. "Sounds simple enough. But... ripping up the stalks?"

"You really don't know anything about farming, do you?" Thor says with another laugh. "It's the end of the growing season. They're going to change to another crop anyway. Leaving the stalks would just take up room, and the plants would die as it gets colder."

Clint takes another sip of tea. "Well... that does make sense. I guess."

Thor smiles and pushes a plate of bread and eggs across the table. "Good. Eat up, we've got work today!"

Following breakfast, they dress lightly for the day and exit the inn. The farmer is nearby, and calls to them. The pair stroll over. "Ah! Mister Thor, right?" He smiles as Thor nods. "And Clint Arkanis... I haven't seen you for years! How have you been, lad?"

Clint smiles, shaking the man's hand. "Mister Ranthier, hey! I've been well, aside from the wars."

The farmer shakes his head. "You know me better than that, Clint. Come on, now."

Clint laughs. "Sorry. Tom."

"That's better. Yes, we heard about your wars in the west..." He leads them out of the city and toward his farm as they talk. "Unfortunate, that. Rumor has it the Council's back, though. Your dragons must make that rumor true!"

Thor nods. "Yep, we've reformed it. Thankfully we haven't had to do any of the old Council's work since then - you know, fighting and the like. Things are finally settling down back home."

"Good, good! Glad to hear it!" Tom opens a gate and leads them onto his fields. "Speaking of settling down, Clint, who's that lady you came into town with?"

Clint smiles, gazing down, blushing ever so slightly. "Heh, yeah... I suppose you could say I'm settling down myself."

The farmer laughs. "You must be! Bashful's the last thing I'd ever say about the Clint all those years ago. Only a woman could make such a change! But, humility's a virtue, as they say. Kept me safe all these years!" He stops them in the middle of the field and looks up. "And there's your partners, it seems," he says as the dragons approach. "Well, let's get to work, then!"

The harvest starts off slow, the dragons shaking the stalks so hard that ears of corn fly across the field. After a little, Jacuel starts using his claws, pulling the stalks along them to strip the ears. Droxi follows suit, seeing that it's much more efficient. By noon, almost a quarter of the field is clear when they break for lunch.

"I have to say, Thor, this is nice." Clint sits down as the farmer returns to the house to gather some food for the men after giving the dragons permission to snag a couple sheep. "I think I could get used to doing something like this."

Thor grins as he sits down as well. "I know what you mean. Much more relaxed than fighting, right?" He looks over at Clint, who smiles and nods. "With any luck, once we - and Ehl - get back, things will be calm enough that we can do things like this instead."

Clint runs a finger through the loosened soil, thinking of Kate and his unborn child. "I'd like that..."

The rest of the day, as well as the next two, pass uneventfully. They continue work, clearing the whole field within those three days. Elated by how fast the work is completed, farmer Ranthier gives the dragons a bonus of two large cows. "If you had smaller claws, I'd ask you to help plant seeds for the fall crops, you did so well," he exclaims, gently - and somewhat cautiously - patting them on the noses. "But thanks to you, I've got plenty of time to plant!"

Having earned enough food for the duration of their stay, the group slept very easily that night.

((I love farmers. So quaint! All crop-related information is courtesy of Harvest Moon games. I played them incessantly for years... and would be a better farmer than Clint. :P))

Ehlmaris 09-24-2009 02:38 AM

The sun rises and illuminates the village in a faint, reddish-orange light the next morning. Clint rises and dresses quickly, strapping swords at his sides quietly. Before leaving the room, he glances at Kate, and gives her a light kiss on the forehead, mouthing the words "I love you" before pulling back and exiting the inn. "Don't you ever sleep?"

Thor smiles as he pushes himself up from his seat on the ground. "When I can remember."

Clint chuckles. "Well, hope you got some sort of rest." He begins walking out of the village, toward the hills. "We've got a hike ahead of us."

They reach the hills, and their progress slows. The trees are packed tighter than any forest their lands had ever known; the leaves above them almost block out the sun. "You know," Thor says as they struggle to move forward, "maybe if trainees had a path to lead them to the temple, these friends of yours could've conquered the world by now."

"It's the first part of the training. Anyone who can find the temple knows how to maneuver in a tight situation." He stops in his tracks, causing Thor to bump into him. Looking down, he sees a highly poisonous plant. They change their path, moving around it. "And how to identify hostile situations."

Thor sighs, uttering under his breath, "so it would seem." He steps lightly, looking upward. He sees a skeleton above, dangling from the trees. "So... there's a reason you brought the swords, then?"

Clint looks up as well. "Heh, no more than paranoia." He continues on. "That's there to intimidate people. Usually works."

After several hours they reach a small cave, and Clint leads the way in, crouching down to fit. They crawl for another hour before light appears at the end of the tunnel. Instead of opening to the day, though, it opens to a bridge leading across a chasm, splashed in the light of thousands of torches, and a molten river below. "Nice place...." Thor hesitantly follows along the span.

They reach the temple. Two guards, clad in lightweight armor consisting of overlapping leather pads, bring their long, thin blades in front of their faces in salute as Clint approaches. He raises a hand and lowers it, signaling the guards to drop the salute and open the door. The doors open as Thor and Clint draw closer, and the hums of dozens of songs suddenly flow forth from the interior... alongside the clash of steel.

Thor whispers to Clint as they walk forward. "This humming... this is part of your fighting style, isn't it?"

Clint nods. "We view combat not as the ugly, violent massacres the west tends to see. We see it as an art form." He stops, watching two combatants on their left. "See their movements; one swing leads into the next. People generally can predict an enemy's next move, maybe even two; we are taught to study the enemy before the battle, learn their style, predict every move." He continues on. "The music... centers us. It allows us to focus on the fluidity of our movements, on the enemy's attacks."

"Makes sense." Thor watches the groups sparring around them as they continue, blades flashing through the air with blinding speed, always meeting steel or air. "They practice with real swords...?"

Clint smiles. "Yes. Keeps us on our toes. Also helped me get in here. After training with the Order, the only thing I knew how to do after ten years was heal wounds." They turned as a shout erupts from the side and a student collapses, clutching his arm. "They had use for my skills." Others run over and begin bandaging, one holding his hand over the wound, a faint light coming forth. "I taught some what I knew in exchange for training." The pair continues on. "But we never go for fatal strikes - we fight to disarm the enemy. The only training-related deaths this temple has ever seen were from infected wounds."

They reach the central temple and climb its steps, the elaborately engraved, solid gold doors opening before them. They proceed through a hallway, silver-plated pillars alongside the center. At the far end of the hall, they stop before a simple oak door, almost invisible in the wall. Clint opens it slowly.

A group of men turns to view the men as they enter. "Arkanis... we had heard of your return. You know the rules of this temple, though. Why did you demand to bring your companion here?" They are seated around a rectangular table, its length stretching away from the door. The man speaking is seated at the far end. The rest of the room is as plain and unremarkable as the door - earthen walls, illuminated by four torches, one in each corner of the room.

Clint bows slightly. "Apologies, masters. We are on a diplomatic mission, and though we are both members of the newly-restored Council, I personally am representing the Darislav Empire. The Council's representative is Thor," he says, motioning to the other man.

"I see. That is... an acceptable excuse. It does not explain the weapons at your sides, however."

The corner of Clint's mouth rises ever so slightly, revealing a minute smile. "As you said, I know the rules. Call me paranoid, but from what I remember, punishments are severe here."

The man speaking rises. "And there is no reason to not be prepared." He walks around the table. "What sort of diplomacy are we discussing?"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Meanwhile...

An old, haggard man walks toward the village. His body is covered by a dark green robe; a long, salt-and-pepper beard extends from the man's face, hidden under his hood. He leans heavily on his staff as he approaches the gates.

"You there, old man!" Joran calls as the stranger approaches. "What is your business here?"

"I seek the Riders."

Joran chuckles. "The Riders of the Council? You're far off track, then! They're out west, from what I hear." He points into the distance, toward where the sun is now setting. "We'll let you stay for the night, but you'll have to be going in the morning."

The man lifts his head up, gazing into Joran's eyes. His eyes, the irises such a dark brown they appear almost black, begin to glow green. He thrusts his staff forward, resting it an inch from the man's face. A vine shoots out of the ground, lashing Joran's hand - now securely gripped on the hilt of his blade - to his waist. "I seek the Riders. Not the Council."

Joran's face becomes a ghastly pale. "They... they will return soon," he stammers. "Likely tomorrow. Please, stay in the inn. The younger one has a companion there. Perhaps you know her?"

The man lowers his staff and continues into the village, toward the inn. "Tomorrow is not soon enough. I will find them tonight."

Ehlmaris 09-24-2009 06:40 AM

Clint sits down near the head of the table, Thor across from him. The room is mostly empty; only the two emissaries and the High Master of the temple remain. "That's it? Just establishing relations?"

Clint nods. "Darislav is looking to assist more primitive tribes nearby in settling down, building cities, founding civilizations."

The man snorts. "That's all well and good, but it's expensive. We can't afford to help with that. We're simple people, Clint, you know that."

"You won't have to pay anything," Thor states. "The former Arkosian lands are establishing trade routes overseas. That will pay for everything."

"Then why," he asks, leaning forward, "are we being brought into this?"

Clint breathes deeply. "Well... the problem with primitive civilizations is that they're inherently distrustful of outsiders." He clenches his hand into a loose fist on the table. "After seeing the abilities of the Order of the Singing Blade, the Empire is convinced that your lands could be a great military ally. Also, someone's got to police the roads between here and the west - we can't do it all ourselves."

The Master sits back in his chair, thinking for a moment. "You make a valid case. And it's not like our trainees are doing anything practical with their training." He glances between Thor and Clint. "Give me some time to meet with the other masters. We will call for you once a decision has been made." He rises, followed by Clint and then Thor. "We will have a guest room prepared for the two of you. Good day." The man leaves.

"Well, that wasn't so bad." Thor leads Clint out of the meeting room and back into the grand hallway, where a guard asks them to wait for the room to be prepared.

"I didn't think it would be." He looks around. "The Order is secretive, but they have their pride." His eyes come to rest on Thor. "One compliment to their training is all it took."

Thor chuckles. "Might want to check your own pride, friend. You complimented yourself - after all, you're the only example of their training the west has seen!"

Clint smiles, hanging his head. "Yeah, well, even the Order would agree - I'm a pretty good example."

Thor shakes his head. It's like he didn't even hear me calling his ego out... "Well, no matter. Think it will take long for them to deliberate?"

Clint shakes his head. "They'll decide in under an hour. Probably be morning before we hear anything, though."

"Why's that?"

"Because... it's getting late."

Thor looks up, then around. "How can you tell? There's no sun in here."

Clint smiles. "Live without the sun for long enough and you learn to get by without it."

At this point a servant comes up to them. "Sirs, if you would follow me, I will show you to your room."

They turn to the young man. "Lead on, then," Clint commands. The pair follow him to a plain room: two beds, a table and two chairs. A bit of meat and bread is on the table, next to a pitcher of water and two glasses.

"Far cry from the Empire's accommodations," Thor says after the servant leaves them.

Clint sits down and cuts himself half of the meat. "Indeed. Gonna eat?"

Thor nods and sits down, joining him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The old man rushes straight to the inn, past the front desk and bar to the guest rooms. He immediately bursts through the door to Clint's room, surprising Kate. She stares at the man, her expression a mixture of shock and fear. The man stops for a second, his eyes widened in surprise at the woman before him. "You... he brought you?"

Kate stumbles for words, but none escape her lips.

He walks to a chair near her, easing himself down with his staff. "It is no matter." His eyes lock onto hers. "I need to know where your husband is, Kate."

"Wha... Who are you?"

"I am a friend. A friend of Arkanis, of the Riders, of the Empire, of Ehlmaris and his ancestors." He leans in. "I must find Clint. I have urgent news for him."

Kate looks around frantically, her lip trembling.

The man leans back slowly, taking a deep breath. He sets his staff to the side. "Kate, I know many things, but I need your help on this. Please."

She bites her lip for a moment, then speaks. "He... went to the hills. There's a temple there, I... I think."

The old man smiles, reaching for his staff. "Thank you. From the bottom of my heart," he says as he pushes himself up, "thank you." He turns to the door and begins to head out, then stops. "Oh, and Kate..." He turns his head, looking at her over his shoulder. "Stay behind. This Order will protect you. You must not return west with the Riders. I shall return for you when the time comes."

He rushes out the door with a speed and urgency incredibly out of place for such an aged man. Kate remains behind, stunned.


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