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Old 01-23-2009, 01:52 AM   #21
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hi
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Old 01-24-2009, 12:06 AM   #22
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(hello.)
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Old 01-24-2009, 12:29 AM   #23
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some weird people here on nodiatis too much fantasy
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Old 01-24-2009, 05:13 AM   #24
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(I should really update this some time.)
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Old 02-19-2009, 10:11 PM   #25
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(Update it, this is great stuff, keep it coming!)
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Old 07-08-2009, 04:56 AM   #26
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(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).

Last edited by Ehlmaris; 07-08-2009 at 05:04 AM..
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Old 07-10-2009, 10:23 PM   #27
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(Bump bump, He's got it and now we wait for the much needed update I miss the RPing
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Old 08-25-2009, 11:39 PM   #28
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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.))
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Old 08-26-2009, 12:15 AM   #29
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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.
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Old 08-26-2009, 01:10 AM   #30
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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?"
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Old 08-26-2009, 02:39 AM   #31
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===========================
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."
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Old 08-26-2009, 03:58 PM   #32
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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...
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Old 08-26-2009, 10:15 PM   #33
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(^>^ *Ish speechless* Care for a swap-off? Sounds like we could have fun doing extened 'chapter posts' like this)
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Old 08-27-2009, 09:20 AM   #34
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((Worth looking into at the least. We'll discuss that more privately.))
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Old 09-10-2009, 03:41 PM   #35
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*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......)
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Old 09-11-2009, 03:01 AM   #36
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(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.)
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Old 09-15-2009, 05:33 AM   #37
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((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.))

Last edited by Ehlmaris; 09-15-2009 at 06:36 AM..
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Old 09-15-2009, 06:55 AM   #38
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((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))
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Old 09-24-2009, 02:38 AM   #39
Ehlmaris
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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."
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Old 09-24-2009, 06:40 AM   #40
Ehlmaris
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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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