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  #106  
Old 06-10-2018, 07:32 PM
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Berek Steadyhand:
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Berek grits his teeth, They wanted him alive, that gave him more of a chance than previously, They wouldn't be trying to strike with killing blows, but the horse warrior would be. Berek drew his shield around onto his arm and drew forth his sword with a 'Slink' and Spurring Hadhod to Dash back to the West and Kal Vahkor.charged towards the line of horseman on the side that would take him back to Kal Vahkor. He Ragingsummoned all the fury of his ancestors, like so many times before, focusing his rage on attacking and breaking through the line. For once, He wasn't going to fight until he went down under a hail of blows, He knew it would better serve if he were to get back to the Lord Arkad and his companions, tell them of what has transpired here and hopefully give them enough warning to ready themselves for these paltry two dozen. Going it alone would only lead to his senseless death. He struck a
Dice Attack:
1d20+7 (6)+7 Total = 13
Dice Damage:
1d8+6 (1)+6 Total = 7
scything blow left at the first foe with a blade that he came to then
Dice Attack:
1d20+7 (7)+7 Total = 14
Dice Damage:
1d8+6 (2)+6 Total = 8
scythed his curved blade back to the right, trying to throw the two riders on either side of his intended path so that he could break through the line.

OOC:
-Rage

 

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  #107  
Old 06-10-2018, 08:11 PM
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Yu Yan
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Yu Yan's gaze softens. "He was allowed to keep his innocence through his childhood. Most are not so fortunate. You should be proud of that accomplishment, however it may feel like a liability."

She sighs, turning around to face her potential father-in-law. "If your court does not fear him, they will not fear Lady Jieyou. You may not be aware of this, given your gender, but women tend to be viewed more as objects of lust than of fear. Your mercenaries were able to see a side of me that would hardly be proper conduct at a dinner party," she allows herself a half-smile at the mental image of herself knifing an undead dinner guest through a vital artery while dressed in a silk dress.

"If you're asking me to mould him into your image...that seems a task more suited for a father than a wife. And I imagine it is one you've already attempted without success. What I can do, however, is discretely eliminate threats that might arise from within. When those who think they can depose or harm him begin to die in their sleep, the fear will come. They do not have to fear him directly, as long as they fear to share in the fates of dead traitors. If a spirit of death haunts these halls, the lesser nobles will check their ambitions in favor of self-preservation."

 


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  #108  
Old 06-10-2018, 08:13 PM
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Outside Kal Vakhor
Berek plows into the line of cavalry at the westernmost flank of their semicircular formation, trying to punch through... but the line holds, as the disciplined riders close ranks against him, meeting the savage strokes of his blade with precise parries and maneuvering about him to strike where he's left himself vulnerable. Their sabers slash at his bare sword arm, seeking to disarm him, and his legs, seeking to unhorse him - their richly-adorned master bade them take the barbarian alive, but he said nothing about limbs.

Although deep red cuts score his limbs, however, the damage is only superficial, and Berek plunges on, winning free of the knot of cavalry riders and into the open ground beyond.

"Stop him," the leader snaps, gesturing in the horse warrior's direction, and his four underlings turn in their saddles, weaving their hands in arcane passes as they intone a flurry of spells. The grass beneath Hadhod's hooves shimmers and is suddenly grimed in thick grease, but the sure-footed steed keeps his footing, leaping to clear the enspelled patch of ground. Berek scarcely has time to catch his balance from the jump, though, before the young woman at "Father's" side completes her own spell, and his limbs suddenly seize up, held fast by her magic. Unable to hold on, and with no saddle to secure him, Berek topples from Hadhod's back and to the ground.

With the wind knocked from his lungs by the fall, Berek scarcely has time to catch his bearings where he's fallen before a third spellcaster completes his chant, and a spray of hypnotic colors erupts in the air around warrior and warhorse alike. Utterly disoriented, unable to focus or even to move his limbs, Berek can only lie sprawled on the ground as the Celestial Throne's cavalry dismount around him.

"That won't hold him forever," he hears the old man say, as if from a great distance. "Secure him."


 


Yu Yan's Bedchamber
"Indeed they will," says Lord Arkad, nodding in satisfaction. "And I've no doubt that my son's rule will face more than a few threats that can only be ended at the point of a dagger. But the Thousand Hidden Paths are crawling with quiet murderers, Yu Yan. If that were all I needed of you, well..." he steps closer, keeping his eyes on hers. "That could be had anywhere. I ask you for more."

He reaches up, gently stroking Yu Yan's cheek. "My son needs more than a killer. He needs a killer's instinct. He needs the wisdom that can only come of having one's innocence taken much too early. I do not ask you to mould him in my image... I have never sought that for him. I ask only that you advise him... and, where necessary, that you be his emissary. Go where he is unsuited to go, deal with those with whom he cannot... should not have to deal." His finger slides across her lip, and then withdraws. "He needs someone who can walk the Thousand Hidden Paths in his stead."


Mother Angka's Shop
"Now, you didn't hear this from me," Mother Angka says in a sly voice, "but there is a healer in that temple. A gifted one. A powerful one... maybe powerful enough to help you. Ah-ah," she says, raising one finger. "'But you said they were all faithless charlatans in that temple, Mother!' No, loves... I said that there were no clerics of Heaven's light... and that's precisely true."

"Don't go to the temple sniffing around for her, though," Mother Angka says sharply, fixing them all with a dark look. "She won't see just anybody... in fact, just knowing about her could get you in trouble, if you haven't talked to the right people. She works for the 'right people,' you see... in fact, she's one of them."

At your confused looks, she gives a raspy cackle. "There's a place in the red lantern district, loves - a bhang den called the Serpent and Egg. You want a man... well," she says with a rueful snort, "you want the one who calls himself Seven Devils Clever. Tell him I sent you... have her do the talking..." she adds, with a tweak of Nessima's pointed ear, "and ask very, very nicely... and he might just decide to help you."

"Now," the old witch concludes, as the door rattles open and a wiry old man in threadbare robes enters, "I've customers... and you've a curse to break. Off with you now, dears! I can't wait to hear all about it!"
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  #109  
Old 06-10-2018, 09:34 PM
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Yu Yan
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Yu Yan's hand moves with quickness honed by her assassin's trade to catch Arkad's wrist as he tries to pull it away. "I can do that, my lord. I would be honored to walk those Paths to spare your son. I do have a killer's instinct. Be careful not to make the mistakes of the hapless corpses in Heaven's Gate. I am an object of fear, not of lust. A man of your wisdom should not require a demonstration of the difference." She smoothly twists out of her seat and releases his wrist, then, with the same fluid motion that served her on the battlefield, glides to the door, opening it wide.

"I trust we understand each other's intentions well enough. If there is nothing else, my lord, it has been a long day and I require my rest." She gestures towards the door smoothly.

oocCall it a cunning action to disengage?

 

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Old 06-11-2018, 05:54 AM
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Berek Steadyhand:
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Berek growls as he feels his strikes fall ineffective and then strikes fall in return, scouring his hardened flesh with his own blood. He manages to push through the line but then the magic assault happens. Hadhod gained a moment of praise as the horse leapt over the grease then his own muscles began to fail, locking in place, not responding to his commands. He felt his back hit the ground and he gasped for breath. The hypnotic pattern threw his mind in a daze, he had felt this before but could not hold himself against it. His thoughts turned inward, his wife and daughter...He would not feel their touch and their joy just yet..

OOC:
-Paralyzed
-Incapacitated

 

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  #111  
Old 06-11-2018, 01:38 PM
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Yu Yan's Bedchamber
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Arkad's smile only widens as Yu Yan grabs his wrist, and widens further still at her firm telling-off. "You will be perfect for my son, I think," he chuckles, rubbing his wrist idly when Yu Yan releases it. "I could leave him in no finer hands."

He draws himself up and strolls from the bedchamber, stopping in the doorway as he passes Yu Yan. "If you are willing to walk the Paths for my son's sake, Yu Yan, then you will take your first steps tomorrow. There is a matter for which Lady Jieyou's presence will be required... and another matter, for which I will require you. Be prepared for a carriage ride into the city tomorrow morning, to the Heavenly Cult's temple in the outwall borough. Prepared for both matters."

He nods his head in the slightest of bows. "I bid you good night, Lady Jieyou."

Without - and without any further elaboration on the tasks he has in mind for her on the morrow - Lord Arkad takes his leave. Whatever he intends for her, and however she should prepare, he seems content to leave it to Yu Yan to decipher as best she can.

Another test... everything is always a test.


The Red Lantern District
Drevan, Jin, Nessima, and Jaster set out from Candle Row, following Mother Angka's cryptic guidance to the Red Lantern District. By night, this district of taverns, brothels, and bhang dens is Kal Vakhor's seediest and most raucous borough, home to every sin and delight that will turn a profit for the criminal networks of the Thousand Hidden Paths. In the grey and dingy light of day, however, the red lanterns are dark, and the establishments over which they hang quiet. The streets are thinly populated; a few bleary-eyed drunks shielding their eyes from the sun as they stagger home; a few haggard menials sweeping the streets clean of the blood and refuse of last night's revels, a few bhang addicts shivering in the alleys. You can't imagine what any dweller in this wretched place could have to do with a gifted healer or a temple to Heaven's light... but you've got Mother Angka's directions right; this is definitely the place.

The Serpent and Egg, by comparison to the rest of the district, is well-kept, almost inviting. It's a taller structure than most around it, three sturdy stories tall, with well-swept tile awnings beneath the balconies at each level, and strings of red lanterns trailing from each corner of the roof. Several servants, in uniform livery and looking better-fed than the other menials you've seen hanging about the district, are hard at work sweeping and tidying. One of them is up on a ladder with a jar of black paint, retouching the sign hanging out front: a striped serpent with its jaw unhinged to swallow a large egg clutched in its coils. Lounging outside the front door are several more individuals who seem to be employees of the establishment, but these are more sharply dressed and seem to have much less work to do - they smoke long-stemmed pipes as they laze about out front, their eyes roaming the streets. Each bears at least one curved blade, prominently displayed at his hip. Their gaze, at once lazy and predatory, fixes on the four of you as you approach.

Everyone outside the serpent and egg, the workers and the muscle alike, is slender and graceful, with pretty, delicate features... and every one of them has the subtly-pointed ears that mark an elf-blood.
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  #112  
Old 06-11-2018, 01:52 PM
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Into the Urban Wilds
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This was always how it was, on the Paths. "Find this one, ask about this. She may lead you to that one, who knows someone who might know someone who's seen what you seek." People spoke of the Thousand Hidden Paths, but what there really was were a billion nooks and crannies - most utterly without merit, but buried among them were treasures beyond reckoning.

As more individuals came into the shop, it was clear that their chat was at an end. They had the next step. Nessi looked to her three friends. "Shall we?" It would be easy enough to find the red lantern district - any urchin would point the way for a copper. Once there, the Serpent and Egg would be easy enough to find the same way.

Finding the Serpent and Egg was as easy as she'd thought, and when she and her friends approached the stout building it was all Nessi could do not to gawp. It wasn't just that the den of iniquity was just positioned so blatantly, it was that it was quite obviously staffed by people like her. In the open! In all her years traveling, she hadn't seen anything like that, not even on the furthest, most tattered fringes of the empire. This city was built on layers upon layers of intrigue, and in that regard, it was much like a spider's web.

So Nessima approached brazenly, moving as smoothly and quietly as only one with the blood of Elves can. As she drew near, she shook her hair out a little to draw obvious attention to her head and ears. Drawing up about two feet away from the individual nearest the door, she said simply, "We would speak with Seven Devils Clever. Mother Angka sent us."

OOC
 


 
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  #113  
Old 06-11-2018, 08:54 PM
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The Serpent and Egg
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The half-elven thug looks Nessima over, a slow smile spreading over his thin features. ""A thousand welcomes," in the old tongue.Iltha qer'anin, sister," he drawls. "Don't think I've seen you around here before, but any daughter of the noble blood is always..."

At Nessima's request, however, he stops short, straightening up and losing the languid drawl. "The old witch sent you, did she?" he demands, glancing suspiciously over Nessima's shoulder at her three companions. "Well... she's all right, for a human, and the Family owes her a favor or two. For her... and for a sister of the blood... Seven Devils Clever will probably be willing to hear what you have to say. But "Take warning,"han'tha voras, sister," he adds. "He'll be happy to see you, but don't let your round-eared friends mouth off where he can hear them. He'll think it's funny... and you wouldn't like his sense of humor."

With a crooked smirk, he steps to the side, admitting Nessima and her companions to the Serpent and Egg. The interior of the bhang parlor is mostly deserted... but only mostly, for even at this time of day, there are a few deeply-addicted patrons lounging on red cushions in the parlor's shadowy corners. The slight, silent attendant, elf-blooded like those outside, gives a fawning bow and scurries ahead of the party, guiding them up the back stairs and into a private room, screened off from the rest of the establishment by heavy maroon drapery.

right-aligned image
Within, several elf-bloods, each as lithe and mean-looking and heavily-armed as those outside, lounge about a low table, savoring pipes of bhang as they carry on a low, murmuring conversation. At first glance, they're all as young-looking as the ones outside, but Nessima recognizes the subtle clues of bearing and complexion that betray a much greater age in the long-lived elf-blooded... whatever the "Family" is, these are clearly its elders.

The only one not talking is the man at the head of the table... although you see at once what Mother Angka meant when she hesitated at calling him a "man." His dark, angular face would be beautiful, in a feral sort of way, if not for the nasty scars across his lips and the bridge of his nose, and the deep red eyes with golden, cat-like irises that match the golden rings in his nose and ears. And those ears... they aren't subtly pointed like Nessima's, or most of the elf-bloods hanging about the Serpent and Egg. They rise to knife-sharp points like a devil's horns, betraying a lineage far more elven than human... and, by the look of him, that may not even be the most exotic thing in his family tree.

The conversation goes dead quiet as Nessima and the others are shown in. The looks on the faces of the elf-bloods are nakedly hostile, but the strange-looking man at the head of the table, who can only be Seven Devils Clever, takes in his guests with a look of wicked amusement.

"May I help you?" he asks mildly, taking a long pull on his bhang pipe.
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  #114  
Old 06-11-2018, 09:20 PM
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Jaster
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Jaster gathered his things he knew Angka was done with the for the day and his business would have to wait. Jaster smiles as Nessima asked an urchin how to get to the red lantern district, he knew and had been there many times to meet customers and other reasons. He was a bit excited as where they were going he had never been. He had head of the elven drug den but that was not a place he had ever been invited to. He was silent in the back while Nessima got right to the point. He had no intention of talking but he would be listening and looking around. He even considered trying to cast a detect thoughts spell but a place like this would likely have magics to prevent that or at least notice him casting a spell. It was too dangerous to risk. Instead he would have to trust his own intuition.

When they were introduced to Seven Devils Clever he kept his eyes low. He was very interested in the creature and tried to catch if his words were truth but he suspected someone of his age was a much more accomplished liar than he was insightful, but he tried anyway while saying nothing.


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  #115  
Old 06-11-2018, 09:26 PM
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Drevan
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Drevan followed closely on Nessima’s heels as they made their way into the Serpent and the Egg. He walked softly and made sure to pay heed to Mother Angka’s words of warning to let Nessima do the talking. Normally Drevan could be counted on to make a rash or foolish decision...but not today.

The group made their way upstairs, past half-dead bhang addicts, emaciated and oblivious. Drevan looked at them with pity and in some ways he felt a strange kinship with them. He certainly knew what it was like to let desire consume you to the point of death. The irony was not lost on Drevan as he stayed behind the elven bard. He made sure to keep his hood up and his eyes cast low as they reached the top of the stairs and were led past a plush mahogany curtain.

Drevan made sure to avoid eye contact with the group of elves that they found seated, enjoying some bhang of their own. He waited patiently to follow Nessima’s lead as a most striking elf...surely Seven Devils Clever, addressed them, “May I help you?” he asked. Drevan said nothing, but slowly pulled down his hood, and looked at the elf.


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  #116  
Old 06-12-2018, 03:03 PM
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Upon seeing the openness at witch the half-elves displayed themselves, Jin gapes like a tourist. She tries not to, but it is such a shock. So many questions flood her mind. How brazen? How does the heavenly cult not come here and cleanse this? Not that she wants that, but it was a reality she thought existed. She didn't want to go in there. The whole place made the monk uncomfortable on many levels.

She gives Nessi's had a supportive squeeze to silently communicate her faith in her and that she isn't alone.

They enter and are not thrown out instantly. So far, so good. They meet the creature calling himself Seven Devils Clever. He was beautiful, the same way a wolf is beautiful. Jin wonders if he is a true elf, a pure blood. Even just a few years ago, she could have likely been convinced to hunt this being, to kill him and remove his tainted bloodline from the world. How her perspective had changed since walking the paths.

She lets her cloak of calmness sooth her and she just stands next to and a little behind Nessima. Jin lets her hands rest behind her lower back and lets her passive perception is fine, but I can roll a general perception check to look for danger:
Dice perception:
1d20+6 (7)+6 Total = 13
awareness widen around her. She bows her head very slightly as his offer to help, but says nothing.
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Old 06-12-2018, 03:30 PM
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Outside Kal Vakhor
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While Berek is dazed, two of the Throne riders haul him to his feet, strip him of his weapons and and bind his arms securely behind his back. Taking no chances with the powerfully-built barbarian, they not only manacle his wrists together with iron binders, but lash his elbows together with a length of hemp rope, and further secure all of it with another length of rope wound about his midsection. A Not the Iron Torc, which the bearded leader personally removes.heavy iron collar is fastened about his thick neck. Two separate lengths of chain run through a ring at the front of the collar, with each end held by a cavalry rider, just mounting up as Berek begins to recover his senses.

Hadhod, meanwhile, is fitted with a bit and bridle, for he wore none before, anymore than he wore a saddle. The Horse Clan do not rely on such things. Were he not as stunned by the hypnotic spell as Berek, Hadhod would never tolerate being bridled; as it is, he bucks and rears once the bridle is in place, following along only reluctantly as the cavalry officers mount up and drag him along.

The mages who lead this procession, meanwhile, ignore their captives in favor of the prize they have taken. "Is it really the Iron Torc?" murmurs one of the four apprentices - the only woman among their number - studying the humble-looking iron band adorned with crudely-wrought ram's heads. "I thought it would look... fancier."

"It's quite real," the old man says grimly, tucking it away into a leather pouch at his side, beneath his embroidered mantle. "The one who wrought it was not concerned with appearances."

"The one who wrought it?" the apprentice asks in a hushed voice. "You mean...?"

The old man silences her with a stern glare, from which she visibly quails, but before he can say more, one of the other apprentices glances Berek's way.

"Father Dameron," he murmurs. "The spell's wearing off... the barbarian is awake."
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Old 06-12-2018, 03:43 PM
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Berek Steadyhand:
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Berek shakes his head, his hair whipping about just a little and immediately he realizes that he is bound pretty heavily, a rope around his elbows pulling them together as well as manacles that bind his wrists. The iron collar chafes his neck as he tenses his neck muscles and he realizes that he no longer wears the Torc. He has failed his friends, He made a silent vow to them that he would protect it. This did not crush his will, he summoned all the strength he could muster, feeling the rage of his ancestors, he would break these bonds. He growled and pulled with everything he had. His muscles strained and tensed, He would not be held by the means of man! With a roar that eventually died down coming from his throat, his bonds held and he his head sagged, he knew that no mortal man could ever bend or break metal as if it was nothing. He was bound with rope and metal, after all...And he would throw his life away trying to escape. He had no choice but to let these men take him to Kal Vahkor.

OOC:
-Bound
-Rage
-Attempting to break his bonds.
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Dice Strength:
2d20+3KH1 (15, 20 (keeping 20) )+3 Total = 23
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Old 06-12-2018, 03:58 PM
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Into the Urban Wilds
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"May I help you?" Four words could be the beginning of almost anything. Until today, Nessima knew, she had really been a background player in their adventures. Not irrelevant, not at all, but in a fight she was wholly unsuited to the front lines.

In a physical fight, anyway. But wars were often begun and ended at council tables, and Mother Angka had made it clear that this was to be her challenge. The weight of responsibility was unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Keeping her face and voice composed, she inclined her head politely to the imposing Elf.

"Thank you for seeing us. For their sake, I would speak the common tongue. But I can speak the Old Tongue if you preferNan' amin can quena i' iant lambe manka lle ve'. Mother Angka suggested that we seek you out, that you may be able to help us. This one," Nessi said, indicating Drevan with her hand. "My friend, is in need of a healer, a particular healer, who might be found in the Temple of Heaven. Mother Angka suggested that, if you chose, you might be able to put us in contact with such an individual. We would be grateful for any assistance you could provide, and in return, it is possible that we could be of some small help to you in your various...endeavors."

Nessi had had her life force stripped away by dark magic and had run through a horde of skeletons on a suicide mission to open a sarcophagus. This was so much harder.

OOC
 


 
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Last edited by Berith; 06-12-2018 at 04:03 PM.
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Old 06-12-2018, 05:10 PM
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Elwen Elwen is offline
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Yu Yan slumped onto her bed as Lord Arkad left her chamber. So the game continues... This delicate dance of keeping his respect without letting him have everything he desired had left her as exhausted as the day's journey. Some part of her longed for another bath but she opted for sleep instead. It did not take her long before she was asleep.

The morning sunlight crept into her room in what felt like an instant. Yu Yan awoke, and began the laborious process of applying cosmetics and arranging her hair so she could assume her Lady Jieyou persona. It felt like slipping into an unfamiliar pair of shoes after so many nights sleeping in leather on the ground. In her pack, she placed her leather armor, her blades, her bow and arrows, as well as the mysterious bracers from the marsh. A dark alley and a few minutes would suffice for her to change into her other persona. Lady Jieyou's mask took more time to craft. Soon, she was descending from her chamber to await the carriage that would take her to a temple at the edge of town.


 


Last edited by Elwen; 06-12-2018 at 05:11 PM.
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