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  #1  
Old 07-22-2018, 09:48 PM
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Chapter 1 - The Legacy of war


The fall of an empressEmpress of legend Helena Cornaya controls a large empire for three decades. Her sword skills unmatched, her ruthlessness feared, her laws are just, but her judgment merciless. She continued the legacy of her ancestors and conquered realms and territories with bloody wars and cunning diplomacy. Nobles and kings from all over the world pay her respect on a regular basis with gifts, songs, and poems in her honor. The great kingdoms of the empire are not in total harmony, they are kept in check by the Empress' iron fist. Most nobles are discreetly playing the great game of cloak and daggers, in competition for lands, riches, and favors from the Empress. The nobles rivalry even occasionally end up in short wars to the great amusement of the Empress until she decides to restore order by lifting a finger and make a few heads rolling.

One day the unthinkable happens when the great empress died in her bedroom, after her fifty years old birthday. Her enemies were numerous, and the number of suspects with a motive are countless, but none are known to have what it take to challenge such an epic warrior still in prime shape. After an investigation led by highly qualified people, there's no clue of what happened that night. The official word to the people was that the Empress couldn't be resurrected by Eryka high priestesses, wishing to enjoy her well deserved peace in heaven. The future of the empire now falls on the imperial magistrate that is empowered to act on the will of the Empress. Helena never married and didn't have any child that is officially known to the court, spending most of her life on foreign battlefields. It always has been a source of great concern of who will take over her legacy and prevent the empire to fall into civil war. However, the empress always used this uncertainty to keep her nobles motivated to please her, some said she didn't want a child for that sole reason.

YOU are one of the unlikely heirs of the empress named in her will and are summoned to the imperial capital for the official reading of the will. You have six months to show up at court otherwise your birthright will be forfeit. For their safety, the beneficiaries name are kept secret by the magistrate as long as possible, but eventually, the list of the imperial heirs become public. Many nobles find it outrageous that they were not designated as imperial heir. Some were hoping to get a share of the vast imperial treasure for their years of service, get more lands and titles or even get a shot at the imperial throne themselves. You now have a big target on your back and a spotlight over your head. The commons people are in awe that finally the empress heirs have been narrowed down to a few individual it would seem.
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Last edited by MoonZar; 08-13-2018 at 01:24 PM.
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Old 07-22-2018, 09:50 PM
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Date 3th of Azaëlle, 7453 (Winter)
Time Morning
Weather Outside Snowing, -21 C.
Inside Normal Light, 4 C.

Raven's Den Cells
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You traveled from your home country to the imperial city of Selarya to claim your birthright. The empire is vast and sailing make the most sense in this era of explorations. You family provided a solid escort to bring you safely to your destination. Unfortunately, your vessel gets attacked in the middle of the night, by three pirates ship with grey sails that knew exactly your itinerary to ambush you. The battle is bloodied, you are hidden in the captain cabin for your safety. Canons explosions and screams of death follow. Your friends and companions get slaughtered, you are the last man alive. Knocked down unconscious, captured, a bag over the head and tied up, you get transported to an unknown location. The pirates' ships continue their rampage and get into other battles over the weeks, and other people are captured one by one. Sharing the same large cell in the cargo hold, you all realize that you were summoned to the imperial capital for the same reasons. You are all the empress' heir. Any attempts of escaping resulted in failure and been drugged during the whole trip to keep you in line. Your aggressors are rough northern men, most of them wearing leather armors and furs. They speak among themselves in Darakian, but you learn very little about them, they don't talk in your presence and ignore all your complains.

You finally arrive at your destination and transported in a wagon for several hours. With a bag over the head, you have no idea where you are, but the weather is very cold. That would be an educated guess that you arrived in a northern country. You are thrown in an individual cell of ten square feet, with the minimum necessary for your survival and the clothes you were wearing. The barbarians pirates are thorough and determined to undermine the Empress' last wishes, but they want to keep you alive for some reason. Noble hostages are usually valuable commodities.

You have all been chained in different cells, but you can see each other through the bars of your cells. Manhandled and mistreated, any finery you once possessed is either ruined or long lost. No special treatment has been given any prisoner – male or female, commoner or noble – all of you are bound. Your feet are secured by iron cuffs tethered by one long chain. Your arms are secured to the wall above by manacles. The casters among you have been gagged without mercy except when it's the time for having a dry lunch. Little thought is given to long-term accommodations. Three mercenaries or pirates are posted right outside your cell #18corridor day and night. It's usually the same people who tend to your needs, an half-orc, a tan woman and an arrogant young man with a beard anchor. During the night it's more shady men who keep watch, drooling by watching the female prisoners.

Escape seems hopeless. You have all been well searched and every attempt to conceal anything on your person has failed. And if you could somehow slip your bonds and fly out of this prison, where would you go? Who can you trust that won't sell you to the highest bidder? Since you have been selected as one of the Empress' Heir, it seems that you have a big target on your back. Shackled – all that you can do now is await your fate, until...


 


 
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Last edited by MoonZar; 08-01-2018 at 09:23 PM.
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Old 07-26-2018, 07:24 PM
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René The ship was rocking back and forth, and René’s stomach was rocking with it. The boy had grown up in the islands and sailed from one to another dozens of times, never before had he felt so ill. Perhaps it was the stagnant cellar air, or the strained feeling in his arms, or the feeling of dread about his current circumstance.

Well this IS disappointing, René thought to himself as he sat chained and gagged.

It was a long disappointing trip, but at least his swollen eye had begun to heal.

René wasn’t an imposing figure – but his quick wit and forked tongue often got him into trouble, and more than once he had been answered with a fist.

Brutes. Every last one.

*****

Where was he now, a prison?

Looking around he started trying to categorize who and what was around. A half orc and two humans. Thugs at night. Rats and filth everywhere… and over a hundred thousand golden crowns worth of people.

That had to be their plan, hadn’t it? To sell them off, perhaps as ransom – they would each be worth a significant amount regardless of their position as heirs, but with that addition they could easily extort the empire.

…there was another more sinister possibility.

Mental control or body replacement.

A skilled wizard or magical beast could place themselves at the heart of the empire.

A troop movement here, a misappropriation of funds there, a weakening of infrastructure, and the entire empire could be handed to her enemies on a silver platter.

René’s mind was racing with the possibilities, and there were plenty. Each more horrid than the last.

He needed to get out of here, to get a message to someone, to anyone.

To Jef.

Jef wouldn’t have let himself end up here, he’d have fought.

René fought... and was knocked unconscious in one blow when they stormed the ship, but Jef would have rallied…

Almathea perhaps. Perhaps the savage witch was scrying on him right now…

The young man looked up at the ceiling his gaze transfixed at the center of the room, his eyes slowly glazing as he looked for any sign from the Dowager, a twinkle of light, a skittering spider – anything, and he didn’t want to miss it when it came.

René found himself grinning with a sort of Fey madness. It was all gone; they were trapped with nothing, likely going to be gutted and killed or sold off one by one.

The young man had one trick up his sleeve, but it would not due no, not now - but soon. Yes, quite soon.


 
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Last edited by wodine; 07-29-2018 at 09:59 PM.
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Old 07-29-2018, 10:26 PM
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Sayyida was dirty. Her arms ached so much from being constantly tethered over her head that she intermittently crouched with her back against the cell's wall to rest. Sometimes she'd stretch out facing the wall with feet planted against the stones. She'd inch her feet above the ground up the wall and then bring her body taut as a sail stretched by too much wind and try in vain to stretch her upper back and shoulders. She didn't mind dying, but she always thought she'd drown instead of freezing in the cold of the north.

When they brought food and her mouth is free, she makes small talk. Sailors are sailors, eventually they all get bored. She didn't ask about how or why or when. She asked about the sea and the wind. They might cuff her across the head now and then, but she hoped they'd eventually settle in and realize she was just interested in the tides and storms they'd seen. Some of them might like a woman who speaks about the things they know. And maybe they didn't know her language, but if they did she figured familiarity would bring'em around.
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"You ever coasted the rough waters past Arbak,"
she asked the night watch. "Them mountain cliffs rise straight from the water to the very peaks. But boy that water is turbulent. Like'a running cross current thru shoal-water."

"Nuthin like the wide waters past Bakaria. Those be cool and soft. Waves of silk. Big rolling hills of azure water so clear ya kin see the bottom fathoms below. Its on account of the mountains stealing some of the winds urgency. Like we lay in the lee of their broad shoulders."

With the day watch, Sayyida takes a different tack, sometimes into the wind and sometimes not. For the most part, she talked up the arrogant one. That kind of demeanor makes one foolish when they have the wind in their favor. And oft-times, you can sneak in and steal it with the right kind of sailing.

"Do ya curl your little finger around the hilt with a quick arc counter," she asks him from around a mouthful of disgusting porridge. "I tend to dip the tip a bit an go clockwise rather than loose my fingers upon the handle. Course, I like to slide my other hand down to the guard and backhand a swift dual-riposte instead. Sets your off-side hip front-wise ta jam them close an spin'a hilt against their head."

And when they are gone, Sayyida tries to see the others. She can hear them when they breath, or moan, or get frustrated. Sometimes when she is kneeling against the wall, she makes signs with her hands. Signs she learned from sailors and pirates. Signs a man high up in the riggings will make so others on deck know what he needs or sees when the sea is too loud against the boards for his voice to be heard or the wind thieves the sound away. They are simple signs. But it is all she's got as she chews upon the gag in her mouth.

Eat. Storm coming. Batten down. Be Ready. Fight.

Sayyida tries anything. She doesn't know a lot of signs of that secret language of sailors and pirates, but she knows some. Maybe, just maybe, someone else will also. Or they'll cobble together something to communicate so they are ready if any opportunity comes. She makes an attempt to communicate with Rana bint Jimal Al Motallebzadeh by writing with her feet on the ground or mumbling thru her gag. And despite how bad it tastes, Sayyida eats everything they bring and encourages Rana to do the same. If they have any chance at escape, they must remain strong.


 
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Old 07-30-2018, 01:01 AM
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RanaClothes torn from battle and sullied by the filth and dirt from prison, thus one of the precious jewels of her family, Rana was well-enough humbled by captivity. However, the state of things could have been worse. One, she, unlike several others were not gagged. Brigands after a womanly body or hostile nobles were one thing. But her body was relatively unmolested and what wounds were sustained in her capture were the last damages sustained. Though distance from magic items and her spell book were a great discomfort.

She shared the cell with the sailor Sayyida, whom she was acquainted to once at a party. It was difficult and embarrassing to remember the name of the one she was in a cell with, but that is likely forgiven on account of them being in prison together. Unlike Sayyida she did not try to strike up conversation with the guard during the eating hour. Provoking someone was not a strategy she wished to try in a deteriorated state of little practice and a dwindled supply of magic to use.

Being unaccustomed to a sailor's sign language, trying to receive the messages from her cellmate were often difficult and verbal exchanges during eating were innocuous at best, making plans for escape in front of one's captors was not a fool move this Motallebzadeh would be caught doing.

During their brief stints of time when they are un-watched, she tries her hardest to receive whatever messages, but they seem to have many daylight hours to learn. With her toes she writes as best as she could, Fight how?

Last edited by Vaerdis; 07-30-2018 at 09:11 PM.
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Old 07-30-2018, 09:00 AM
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Sayyida
Sayyida watches Rana. She understands what she asks and looks away from her. She had no ideas, no plan, no course to take. She floundered like a de-masted ship. All she knew was they would have to wait for a chance or a mistake and be ready to take advantage of it.

Head down, body shivering in the cold, Sayyida whispers to Rana, saying the only thing that makes sense.

"Patience."

Sailing against the wind required tacking back and forth across the line of desired travel. Sometimes the wind was too strong even for that and one simply turned, ran with it, and waited for it to break.

"It'll take more then the two of us," she mumbles mostly to herself as she tries to find a comfortable position again.

She had no idea what Rana could do or if she could do. The guards watched a few of the others far more closely than she or Rana and Sayyida figured they must have some 'ability' with magic. Guards get twitchy amidst a 'user'. The fact that they didn't hover over Rana, aside from the leering, meant she didn't have the skill Sayyida thought she might.



 
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Old 07-30-2018, 01:07 PM
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Tatsuo & Rene's CellFor the umpteenth time, Tatsuo discreetly flexes his fingers and wrists against his bonds. But this occasion finds his bindings just as secure as the rest of the times. The ceaseless attempts might be viewed mad by some, but the d'Aidendale scion is just that stubborn. Stretching & flexing his torso with the rocking of the ship, he grunts at the lingering aches & bruises left by their captors to discourage another ill conceived escape. 'Should have gone alone and discreet like I wanted. ... Not my worst straits but pretty high up there I have to say.' But now that the spy is stuck here, it seems he shall have to play the waiting game. With their captors' vigilance, he has little reason to feel optimistic.

Tatsuo looks to his current cellmate, a mage. Gnawing around the acrid tasting rag in his mouth, he tries to loosen his sandpaper lips enough for a garbled whisper. "Hey," he states to catch his cellmate's attention. Catching his eyes, Tatsuo cycles through a number of languages he knows, steering clear of Selaryan or the Darakyan he heard, gauging the mage's eyes for recognition. After revealing a Aquan, Elven, Ignan
(I think MZ mentioned that Matuzalyan is Ignan.)
few options for a discreet conversation, he settles for the watery tongue. If nothing else, it flows better around the accursed rag. "How are you holding up? What's your name?"

 
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Old 07-30-2018, 01:27 PM
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PachoThe chains jingled as Pacho twirled his wrist to keep his blood circulating and his limbs from going numb. He slunk in his chains, his mind tired from plotting futile schemes. He had spent his time studying his captors, their tongue, manors, pronunciation anything he might use to escape, to become them. Despite their rough appearance they made few mistakes.

He looked over to his right, two men bound and gagged. Pacho had wondered if they had survived the wagon ride, a gag and a bag over one’s head can be a deadly combination. Pacho stretched his neck out, trying to get a better view, recognizing one of them. He jingled his chains to get their attention, locked eyes with the man and nodded. Whatever their difference were, an ally was an ally. Pacho tried to lock eyes with the lithe lad but the angle was poor and all he could see was a grin strung across a narrow face.

With the shackles straining his limbs he slumped backwards relaxing with the loosened tension. The seafaring lass across the cell began again trying to strike up conversations with the guards. The girl was smart and dogged. He should be helping but instead stayed silent. Part of him was happy for the events. He never had any aspirations to be an heir, perhaps this was his way out.

Given where they were taken Pacho secretly hoped it was all Elza’s doing. Take the throne, imprison the heirs till their claims runs out and then we all return happily to where we were before this debacle. Pacho could return to Zephyr’s side, free of the complexities. A farfetched hope the Empires drama would wipe his life clean. "An insane idea would she do this to her own blood? Possibly" Pacho thought as he looked over at the man beside him.

“How are you holding up friend?” he said quietly, nudging the man and checking for injury.


 

Last edited by gotha; 08-01-2018 at 02:52 PM.
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Old 07-30-2018, 06:06 PM
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Korag Bolin
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Brutus will be insufferable after this.

The orc, Captain of the Hedarth Guard, had argued at length that he should accompany Korag on his journey. The prince, however, had been sure the trip would be safe enough, and wanted Brutus to stay at home looking after his wife and newborn child. He’d finally relented, but insisted on sending along a squad of guards. Those men, loyal soldiers all, were now dead. Whoever is behind this will pay for that.

The question of who was behind it lay heavy on Korag’s mind. At first, he had wondered if it might be his jealous brother Sokar, but that seemed unlikely. If nothing else, he couldn’t see why Sokar would imprison all these humans along with him.

Korag was alone in his cell, the only one who was, so far as he can see. Wonder why? Because I’m a prince, because I’m a dwarf? Maybe just because they had an odd number of prisoners, and I’m just “lucky”?

In the cell to his left, he could make out a couple of women, but couldn’t tell much about them. One of them kept talking to the guards, seemed to be trying to provoke them. Sounded like a sailor from the way she spoke. Korag’s dukedom included seaports, so he’d known a few saltbeards in his time.

"Say there, ladies," he said, just loud enough to be heard in the next cell over, "These are...interesting accommodations. Do you happen to know who our hosts are?"

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Old 07-30-2018, 08:56 PM
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René René was transfixed watching a particularly large legged spider. His eyes followed the creature as it walked down the chain its eight legs moving in unison, gliding across the rusted iron like an ice dancer across the ice. As it made its way onto the floor, René finally saw what the spider was so exited about. His eyes, unfocused and lost staring at the creature on the prowl like a comet soaring through the dark beyond. The spider jumped a jump which, by scale, would have broken every bone is René’s small and lithe body. The many legged creature landed on an oblong insect with six legs and two large antennae and sank its fangs deeply into its prey.

It was a primal display of a rite older than man fated to survive well past his time; the primal right of survival of the fittest. The small six-legged creature squirmed its finally motion, death finally taking it.

René starred transfixed at the blood sacrifice, oblivious to all dread and all other things in the world, his mind foxused on the mad spaces between the stars…

"Hey"

"Hey"

"Hey"

René’s eyes flashed as his consciousness came slamming back to reality so hard it made his arms ache… or maybe that was the stress on his joints.

René rolled his eyes as the man strained to find a means to communicate trying all sorts of languages René had long since mastered.

René The man tries his best to properly accentuate the pronunciation even though his tongue is currently impaired. Fortunately, René has a great deal of practice managing to speak properly even at the most inopportune times.

What I wouldn’t give for a feather bed… René tries to smile, only to remember he can barely move his mouth.


 
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Last edited by wodine; 07-31-2018 at 06:25 PM.
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Old 07-30-2018, 10:09 PM
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RanaRana breathes out a sigh in response to her cellmate. Being in the corner of the prison gave the two of them quite a good view of the other prisoners, and, since it has been awhile since each of those present were captured she remembered them from the parties and events she had been invited to. With the exception of two, the dwarf and the dark-skinned woman that seemed to lack for apparel before being tossed in prison. She looked back at Sayyida and gives a slight nod, 'What I would do for her to swap places with her legendary ancestor about now. Then again, that admiral was both a pirate and a traitor to the sultanate. At the very least he would have some underhanded escape method in ploy.'

Rana gazed up at her manacles and chains, she softly gripped them before letting go of the chilly iron. She, looking to the others in the room then back at her cellmate smiles and whispers in return, "I know...I think I have a plan."

Rana points her chin toward the dwarf's cell from across the row, "Likely, when they unbind him...is our best chance. Lest something else occurs. Only one shot, though."

Fortuitously the dwarf seems to be in a talkative mood since the feeding hour had long since passed. Rana replies more aloud than she did prior, "Nay, my first guess would have been bandits. The second is...not so charitable to the nobility of the Empire." She pauses to try and shine a humorous light on this situation, "More likely a birthday prank, I do await the yet alive Empress, rest in peace may she, to leap out of the next, largest confectionery shown before us." After the joke landed or flopped on its own she asked, "Your name, ser dwarf?"

 

Last edited by Vaerdis; 07-30-2018 at 10:12 PM. Reason: wrong sheet link
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Old 07-31-2018, 02:22 PM
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Taevar
Confusion had swept over Taevar ever since the night of the kidnapping. So many had fallen on their ship when the raiders came and despite his best efforts they were overwhelmed. What he didn't understand was why he wasn't dead. There was little value in a forgotten bastard especially when the Empress' heir had been on the ship with him. They had knocked him out and hogtied him before he could get an eye on his half-brother and until he was put in the cell he had a sack on his face to prevent him from sorting out exactly what was going on.

The manacles above his head dug into the skin of his wrist as the dank prison cell sought to suck out any hope or positive spirit from him. Looking over at the man next to him he realized how dry his mouth was when he tried to answer. Licking his lips and attempting to swallow in an attempt to clear his dry throat he answered it a raspy voice. "I'm... alive." he said simply in a way that seemed like more of a question. "What about you? Any idea what this is all about?"he asked looking around him.

Gathering up his will he tried another pull at his shackles which continued to tear into his wrists. "I need to get out of here..." he cursed before pulling at them again. "Blasted chains."




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Last edited by Avner; 07-31-2018 at 02:27 PM.
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Old 07-31-2018, 06:11 PM
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Korag Bolin
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Korag sighed softly. Ser? Even in here? What, do I have “royalty” tattooed on my forehead?

"I’m Korag, Korag Bolin. There’s a lot of titles that go with that, but I don’t think they’ll be much use at the moment." He paused. Courtly manners didn’t seem to make sense in this situation, but then, to him they hardly ever did, anyway. He sighed again. "And whom might I have the honor of addressing?"

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Old 07-31-2018, 09:28 PM
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Olesia's Dream
 




Olesia stirred from the grip of this unending nightmare, grimacing as though doused with ice. At first, as the drug slowly wore off, she was only able to contemplate the deep chill that had pervaded her flesh, the chorus of clinking chains, and the pad of heavy boots skidding along stone as they lumbered past. Gradually, very gradually, she came to. For a long span, Olesia remained still. Her thoughts were fragmented shards jostled so that it was a challenge to piece them together. Almost immediately though, Olesia numbly sensed the cold iron of her shackles, snugly fit to her wrists and ankles, and the aching sway of her dangling arms. Lips cracked from the salt air and dehydration, her mouth likewise was uncomfortably parched.

In time, when her mind was less aflutter, Olesia slowly cracked open her eyes. It felt as though she had been bottled in a jar, and cast adrift, only now washing up to a beleaguered shore—hedged in by iron bars. Oh, frightened are we?

Olesia’s head lulled to the side, taking a calm gander at the other souls imprisoned with her. There was an exotic beauty chained beside her—noticing too that their dank cell was a bit tight. Directly across from them was a dwarf currently engaging in pleasantries despite the gloom and uncertainty of their Fate. She couldn’t think too hard at the moment, weighed down by an invisible wall of grogginess—and great! A nasty migraine to top it off!

How did this happen? Slowly the knight stitched together bits and pieces, pretending all the while that she was dead to the world. Faint whispers reached her ears, but nothing distinguishable. Let’s see. She had been sailing to Selarya, still grappling with the carnage witnessed there, the loss of Sir Mathis, and the life she left behind in Athenya, when the Falchion Triad was set upon by pirates—Skull Isle pirates she had presumed, but who knows? As her memory flooded back, Olesia felt not only a sinking disgust, but a bristling flame tickling her gut. Two dozen Falchion Knights, elite soldiers of Eryka, had been lost in the ensuing fight…many struck down while defending her. Yes. They would yet be alive if they had steered clear of Olesia Knox.

So much needless death? For what?! Olesia grit her teeth, finding this plight hard to fathom. Because of the wicked scourge of the sea, she was forced to rehash the same nightmare left in Athenya! But, assuredly their triumph wasn’t without cost. Three Athenyan Dodgers versus a handful of ramshackle ships…outnumbered and outgunned, they managed to extent the battle over the course of a few days and nights. Olesia fought beside Dane’s men, her sword claiming its first soul during the skirmish, and another, then another, and so on, each pirate hewn down feeding the fires of this newfound rage. Olesia, with the help of two veteran knights, slew at least one captain and scattered his crew…after that, the remaining ships doubled back and reorganized. After witnessing the strength of Eryka’s paladins firsthand, they must’ve realized the express need to change their stratagem…and they certainly did.

A hail of cannon fire ripped through Olesia’s ship, crippling the mast, and maiming those aboard. Only after they were soundly scuttled did the pirates attempt to board again. Olesia and three Falchions fended them off with every ounce of courage and fortitude they could muster, but as the very last of her comrades fell, she was quickly overpowered—not that she didn’t cut them up pretty good in the process—until one swift knock to the head plunged her into darkness. Beyond that point, it was all hazy and fragmented. Obviously they took measures to prevent her from waking…cowards.

Taevar Seaborn’s unmistakable voice prickled the paladin’s ear, eliciting a funny look. Lifting her sore head, flashing her gaze across the way, Olesia quickly recognized the scruffy contours of Pacho Carello’s face. Three of nine were good odds to assume what they all had in common. Then the Dwarf revealed himself as Korag Bolin, a name of renown that any educated noble of the Kingdoms should recognize. Olesia cringed, praying that Aurelia had nothing to do with this…but Eryka help whoever was.

Olesia turned to her cellmate, softly inquiring. “Have the true vipers revealed themselves yet?” She was well aware of the men keeping guard, so she didn’t dare appear that lucid, for fear they may come back with more of that infernal drug. “What is your name?”
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Old 08-01-2018, 07:27 AM
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Aria.

The filthy, brutish men that had taken her from the garden kept calling her Aria. They said nothing more, nothing she could understand at least, but the name stood out. Xan'cha might not have the book learning of Alexander, but it wasn't difficult to figure out what had happened. These men were sent to abduct Aria Rador, daughter of Ceril Rador, Archduke of Celestya. Protesting, demanding to be released, and insisting they had grabbed the wrong person would be a death sentence. These men would then have no use for her, even worse, delivering her would only show their incompetence. No, killing her, disposing of the body, and claiming their victim had escaped would be the only reasonable response.

And so Xan'cha chose not to correct them. Both out of a sense of self-preservation, and to protect their true, intended target. The longer they think they have the right person, the more time it gives Aria and the Archduke's men time to properly protect her from a second attempt. If she must die, at least it will have been protecting a girl who has come to be a sister to her, and in service of the foreign empire she was dedicated to reaching an allegiance with. That, should it ever be known, should count for something.

But the Tonali princess has no intention of dying. Not today, not to this filth. A princess of Matoyati and priestess of Quetanali is made of much sterner stuff than these men could know. Though clad only in the tattered remains of what may have once been ceremonial garb of some sort - a green, almost leafy-looking skirt and matching sash tied around her chest that is doing little to nothing to hide the assets beneath, and clearly shivering from a cold she is very unaccustomed to, she still looks somehow healthy. Her green eyes show none of the weariness that weighs upon the others, superficial cuts and scrapes fail to mar her skin, and even the chains biting into her wrists and ankles have yet to leave a mark. If one didn't know better they would think she was chained up only half an hour ago, even though she's been there as long as the others. What the pirates don't realize, and she hopes they don't, is that there is a magic within her, the magic and abundance of life itself, that even without her conscious will fights to preserve her. It's a magic she can still feel, but she isn't about to unleash. Not until the time is right.

Though given what some of the others are saying, that time may be soon. Slowly the other prisoners are coming around, some of which she recognizes. There is talk of escape mixed with more of that short talk. Was that right? These imperial expressions are so foolish. She thinks she might know the woman in her cell as well. Did they meet at some courtly gathering? Xan'cha found herself unable to remember her name, but this is hardly the ideal place for a reunion. Most likely she was wearing a bit more finery as well, these northerners sure did like their finery. She herself awakens shortly, wincing from the pain and addressing her. Xan'cha turns to regard her, answering in a low voice. "No, tey have not. I am Aria Rador, daughter of the Archduke of Celestya," she answers in a very somber, almost mechanical tone. There is little doubt that Olesia knows she is lying, but the look in the woman's emerald green eyes clearly states do not question me on this, not in front of them.
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