Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Psychic Loser
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Morianne



@VitaVitaAR @HereComesTheSnow


The troubadour smirked upon hearing the bandit give up so easily. Usually this spell took a bit of work to function properly as Morianne hadn't quite mastered it.

"Palisades," he said, "there's palisades set up around the camp, but it's not a complete wall... a watch-tower too…"

Jackpot! Morianne thought.

The troubadour could only guess as to how long this sort of information would have taken to get if Gerard had his way. Judging by his looks, Morianne assumed Gerard would simply kill the bandit if he refused to talk. Morianne couldn't help but think such behavior would be… unbefitting of a knight and just downright vile.

"Oh my," Morianne exclaimed with a theatrical gasp, continuing her little show while Gerard, having conceded to Morianne's way of doing things, walked off. "I can only imagine what other dashing plans you have it st-"

Her act was cut off by a biting jab from the 'Murderhobo'.

"If you're gonna smooch him, wipe your mouth after. Don't know where he's been."

Morianne looked back at the bandit, only now beginning to notice the grotesque, swollen features of the bandit's face. She gagged, just now realizing what she had initially promised the spellbound bandit. Revolted, she slammed the man's head into the ground with a resounding thud. He was out cold.

"Alright. My fun's over," Morianne said. The troubadour pointed at the, now unconscious, bandit. "Somebody help me lug this damn ugly bastard into a ditch or something! I can't carry his fat ass by myself!"

However, it seemed that the other knights were going about their duties disposing of the bodies, leaving Morianne's demands unanswered.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Crimson Paladin
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Fleuri Jodeau

Fleuri watched as Morianne cast a spell of charming on the bandit. Any resistance the prisoner had seemed to disappear as he explained the fortification that lay ahead. Fleuri was impressed at this feat of magic, but found himself a little unsettled at the notion of playing with someone's mind. Would he be able to resist the effects of magics, if they were cast upon him? A few years ago he would probably would've been easy to put under such a spell. In the present day, by contrast, he hoped that his rediscovered piety would serve him well enough.

Fleuri wouldn't be standing around to think about it- Tyaethe ordered Fleuri, among other knights, to dispose of the corpses. As he began to look around for a body to move, however, Morianne asked the knights for help moving the now-unconscious prisoner.

"I'll help you out, Dame Morianne," Fleuri answered as he picked up the bandit and threw him over his shoulder. He'd much rather handle the living than the dead, and Tyaethe had already gathered plenty of corpse-movers from among the Iron Roses.

"Speaking of him, that was a rather impressive trick, getting him to talk like that," he complimented her.

Morianne was an oddity among the knights. She was a wood elf and troubadour, neither of which were particularly common in the order. She wasn't known for having a particularly pleasant personality, as evidenced by her subduing of the bandit as soon as she had gotten what she needed out of him. Still, Fleuri never made a point of antagonizing her- as an ageless elf and a bard, it was quite likely that if she didn't die in battle, she may very well live to write songs, romances, and poems of the Iron Roses, and to become her enemy would be to risk being portrayed in a less-than flattering light to future generations.

As Fleuri carried the unconscious prisoner to their rear rank to be bound, he noticed the corpses being piled up. As the pile was built up, Fleuri thought back on his past. During the War of the Red Flag, he and his mentor visited the aftermath of a few battles. During this time, the duo witnessed firsthand what could happen when the dead of a battle were left unattended. He learned the importance of cleaning up the fallen, even those not judged worthy of a proper burial. There were many reasons to do so- to prevent the spread of disease, to give the most basic dignity to their enemies, to keep potentially dangerous scavengers from amassing in the area- but the most important one was to ensure they didn't get back up as undead. The Iron Roses were more than capable of handling a few shambling corpses if the need arose, but was much better to prevent the raising of the dead than to undo it after the fact.

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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Richard Horthy
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@ERode

The mystifying and horrifying scenes all at once which were the sight of the bandit slaughter before Katerina gave her an odd reminiscence. She was primarily trained in life magic - healing - and that, as she had come to expect was the bulk of her duties. For all love of life and liberty that was so cherished among the Iron Rose Knights, the half-elf flashed back in time in her head at the sight of these things. She remembered the blood-soaked battlefields, the men, pale in face, weak in eyes, faintly trembling outstretched hands up, murmuring a final hopeful prayer to Goddess or one last love declaration to a beloved now widowed. Katerina saw it all before her once again, but this time, in negative. There were traitors, thieves, renegades, and rogues, and at the same time wished to utter strangers to let them know their final thoughts. Katerina found oddity in the sincerity of it all that persisted in her mind, like a deep mist that gathered in the bogs of the valley.

And soon before her, the knightess-in-waiting broke her muse: "Dame Katerina, how fares Sir Rickert's charge? Will he live to see another dawn?"

Katerina's muse snapped back to the present, her gaze making a disenchanted turn as Serenity posed her query. There unto her was presented the so-honourable cohort of Sir Rickert. He lay there before her, so illucid -- stiff in body, slow of mind. Upon his faint stammering display was matched with the departing lives of the turncoats around them, the knights accelerating their wounds to fatality. She did not understand the Knights she had called brothers and sisters in arms: She had seen them show untold kindness and utter brutality within swift transition, as if stanza of an orchestra raising to climax. Wasn't this so funny? We had killed so many who lay wounded or dying, and now yet another comes with queer of injury, and Katerina was now asked to save him.

Katerina hummed, narrowing her eyes and motioning, and with telekinesis softly laid the man down. As he was steadied into an auspicious position, Katerina removed her gloves, The blood was well along staining his plate, though it'd stayed mostly along his upper body. Not much splatter. She looked into his gashes, removing his coif and cloth. She lightly hymned, whispering into a steady chant as she presided over him. A faint light grew around his exposed flesh, where it grew a deep purple that spread like dye in water. Blood grew clots and gashes around his neck, and as his body lay growing bruised and broken, the good fellow sputtered out in weak coughing fits. Katerina sighed in relief at the sign of even this meek display of life.

"Lovely, isnae too coarse." she answered. Her breathy response was practically a sigh of thankfulness made unto voice, "The lad will be fine, but I ken he'll need proper bedtime. Bonnie man will be in and oot of bed for a few months, but he'll make it."

The banter from ahead caught her ear, even as she attended to the wounded before her. Interrogations had proven successful -- no doubt due to the apt displays of horror about them, and clear signs of their fates all on parade, and the Iron Roses had deciphered the details of the upcoming bandit's fortress. Fusillades and fantastic beasts were the name of their game. Katerina remembered: They were all too-common features of so many impromptu fortresses in the War, and so fitting it was that they would have refurbished so many to use now.

"I need a bloody cigarette..."

The witch-knight shook her head, adjusting her mage's hood and coif beneath it into a neater position, then reached back down to her little baroque case, opening it with a pop audible even through the commotion. She popped a single cigarette into her mouth, covering the light wind with her curled fingers and palm, then closed her eyes as a faint flame conjured from her fingertips. A faint, smokey tartness flooded the winds around her as the little cigarette flared to life.

Katerina gestured back at her sister-in-arms, patiently awaiting their next orders: Her cigarette case was open, posed for Serenity to take one. She should probably save these for herself...but what the hell, she thought.
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by VitaVitaAR
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Fanilly winced slightly at the sight of the man's beheading. It was one thing to see such violence in combat, another entirely to watch it now. But he was not long for this world, and had died after assisting them. It was a mercy to end him in such a swift fashion, just as it was a mercy to end the lives of the dying bandits that lay strewn throughout the forest. Perhaps the Goddesses would consider his assistance when determining his place in the afterlife.

Glancing away from the beheaded corpse, she watched as the surviving bandits, lightly injured or surrendered without much of a struggle, were lead to the back of the formation in chains. From there, they would be returned to the capital, where they would face trial and possibly execution. The truly repentant could potentially earn a lighter sentence and a chance at redemption, but as of now their fates were unknown and it was Fanilly's best guess that most would end their lives on the executioner's block.

It was what they had earned, through banditry and kidnapping.

The Knight-Captain could spare no further thought to that topic, regardless. She had to ensure the success of the true goal of their mission.

"I must confess, Sir Fionn, without knowing more I can't say for certain what the caged beast may be," she replied with to her knight's inquiry. If only she knew more, then maybe she could have guessed. The fact it was larger then a bear, shrieked, and was fed rabbits was helpful in that it informed them it was some sort of predator. But beyond that, she could only guess at its nature, "But we know it's a predator of some sort, given they'd been feeding it rabbits."

The fact that some beast could be sprung upon them certainly complicated things.

"Given they have to keep its cage covered to prevent it from growing aggressive, I doubt it's been allowed to roam freely. If we can prevent its release, or kill it first, then we could eliminate it before it became a threat."

The petite blonde couldn't say with any certainty how successful an attempt to do so would be. But even if she didn't have confidence in herself, at least she trusted her knights.

It was some time before the scouts returned and relayed their information, during which most of the dead had been piled and made ready to be burned. It was undeniably gruesome, but altogether necessary for a number of reasons to ensure the corpses were disposed of.

The Dame Cecilia and Sir Hope had been able to confirm the information the interrogated bandits had shared, as well as give some specific locations of prisoners, and the caged beast. Most concerning was the Bandit King's absence, but they couldn't afford to wait and see if he showed up.

It was time to move.

"Iron Rose Knights, be at ready!" Fanilly commanded, trying to still her own hammering heart once more. "There is no more time to waste, the remainder of the bandits are still ahead. We must strike, and destroy this threat to Thaln's people."

She took a deep breath. Their objective wasn't just the slaughter of the bandits, however.

"But above all else, we must ensure their prisoners are freed and taken to safety. As such, our archers will hold after eliminating the scouts upon the watchtower until they are able to draw a line of sight on specific targets. The same goes for our magi. The camp is fortified, but not impenetrable, so we shall make our way past the palisades and cut through any resistance until every bandit lays dead or surrendered. We shall bring this Bandit King to the capital in chains or dead."

She had already informed her knights of their plan of attack, and little had changed since then, except...

"As for the caged beast, prevent its release or kill it before it can leave its cage. Now, we shall split into three groups with which to encircle the camp. I shall lead the first, Dame Tyaethe shall lead the second, and Sir Villis shall lead the third. Shields at the front, the rest follow, archers and magi remain at the rear."

Aside from herself, as Captain, she had selected the two most senior knights among those present. Tyaethe needed no explanation, and Sir Villis had served from years before the War of the Red Flag. The tall, imposing figure clad in gleaming armor, a great mace gripped in one hand and a shield bearing the sun gripped in the other, nodded quietly and took his place as the knights separated.

Slowly, carefully, they began to encircle the camp, taking their positions around the bandits. The watchtower was worrying, but as long as the guards were silently eliminated...

Fanilly had faith in the knights, at least, if not herself.

The camp was surrounded. The magi let off their signals to indicate they were in position.

Fanilly's grip on the hilt of her sword tensed. Her entire body tightened.

Kill the guards in the watchtower. Kill the beast in its cage, or at least prevent it from being released. Rescue the prisoners.

Crush the Bandits.

Defeat Bandit King Jeremiah.

"Iron Rose Knights, charge!"

As they rushed into the camp, they would be met with bandits, some far more ready for the coming battle then others, raising weapons, drawing blades and spears, and readying bows.

Unfortunately, more then a few were close to the covered cage...

@Raineh Daze@Rune_Alchemist@Psyker Landshark@Pyromania99@HereComesTheSnow@Saiyan@The Otter@Crimson Paladin@ERode@Psychic Loser@Richard Horthy@Aeolian@Rin
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Raineh Daze
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As the second group moved into position, Tyaethe tapped her fingers against her blade a few times before fixing the other knights with a harsh look. "If they let out whatever beast they have, or Jeremiah shows his face, I want you to forget about dealing with the bandits and work together to focus on those first. They're probably going to be used to separate the captain from her own group, and it's better if you're prepared to reinforce.

"I'll keep any bandits that get in the way focused on me. You only have to help if we can't reinforce the centre."

As the seconds ticked down until the time came to advance into the camp, the vampire focused--and was engulfed in a dark pall, streaked through with red light. The alarming sight only lasted but a second before it faded away into the far more familiar sight of Tyaethe's armour, the paladin now standing shoulder to shoulder with the tallest of their knights.

If she was planning to hold the attention of the bandits on her own, the armour gave a good indication how. Less than worked metal, it looked like an idealisation of armour. Nowhere could a buckle or clasp be seen; no ties to hold it in place. Only the armour itself, all shining metal and rose iconography, impossible to put on or take off through natural means. The fit was slightly too precise, and every piece polished to a mirrorlike sheen, the bent metal offering a warped reflection of the world around. It was the storybook appearance of a paladin, a knight in shining armour, and the way it caught and reflected the light was deliberately eyecatching.

The second way Tyaethe planned to hold the attention was exposed as much simpler as the paladin lead their group in from an angle, steps not faltering even as the bandits manning the defences here put up a much better prepared front than the ambush. Coats of plates, pieces of chainmail, and proper helmets alike--these bandits were veterans of the War of the Red Flag, and actually outfitted as proper soldiers. Their equipment was still a motley assortment of polearms and axes, even a sword here or there, but they were a much more fitting enemy than the little ambush. One even lowered his spear to intercept the paladin, only for a disorienting burst of speed in her step to take her within his reach, sword swinging.

It didn't stop as it carved through his torso. Or that of the woman beside him, arms uselessly dropping with her axe. Or even after the third. It only stopped once she found empty air after the little clump, sword pulling back to catch an opportunistic swing from another of their enemies, pushing the blow away with a twist.

The second method for keeping the bandits on her was, in short, to be a very pressing threat to fight.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Aeolian
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Hope's Battle Theme
Hope's English Voice
Hope's Japanese Voice
🌹 "Take care, as the night is full of monsters." 🌹

🌹 Time: Nightfall🌹 Location: Inside a dark forest 🌹 Interaction: Cecilia@Rune_Alchemist Fanilly@VitaVitaAR 🌹



--- Pre Bandit Encampment Battle ---

As Hope followed behind Dame Cecilia, his angels, Yahoel and Kalaziel stayed to the canopies. The angelic beings, despite their size, moved swiftly and silent in the night. You could hardly hear a rustle of leaves as they beat their wings. Yahoel even lessened it's natural glow so as to appear no brighter than the distant starlight.

In truth, Hope had been paying attention to the position of his angels once Dame Cecilia instructed him to stay away from the treeline and allow his angels to take over that role. It was true however. His role as a mage in the guild meant he was not the fastest or the swiftest of the bunch, so it was best he stayed low and crept among the forest floor to keep from being seen. He nearly bumped into Cecilia when they came upon the dimly lit bandit encampment, silently gesturing an apology with his hands.

From behind Cecilia, Hope looked into the camp, though the darkness made it difficult to make it anything very clearly. For starters, the throne was empty, which meant the Bandit King must of been somewhere else. A hiccup in the plan it seemed, but not all was lost if they could find him before he found them. And then there was a beast in a cage, the silhouette hairy and tough. The creature made a groan, unfamiliar in tone and breath. But Hope's attention was drawn back to Cecilia as she made a stealthy move forward.

"I'll circle around quietly." She quietly nodded to Hope, offering him a friendly smirk and a wink. "See if I can't see anything else. If anything happens just...shout,or something. Make a scene. I'll save that pretty face of yours."

Hope returned the smile, affirmingly, "Understood. I'll have Kalaziel scout the camp from the skies and I'll send Yahoel back to the Rose Knights to report what we've uncovered so far. I just hope they get here in time. Something seems amiss..." he said, voice trailing off as he bit his lip leerily. Hope watched Cecilia until she disappeared around the bend of the camp, and then he let out a soft humming sound, calling his angels to him. He gave out the orders and without delay, Kalaziel, flew high above the camp, its hawk-like eyes trained to find something down below. Its transparent body allowed it to blend into the night sky.

Yahoel on the other hand returned back to the Knight Captain to report what they had witnessed so far. Yahoel, as Hope commanded, would remain with the Knight Captain until they caught up to he and Cecilia at the encampment. With his angels now off fulfilling their respective duties, Hope began moving to the other side of the camp, peering around cautiously as he waited for reinforcements or some kind of signal.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by ERode
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Serenity nodded, once.

Bedridden for a few months; was that something this man could afford, now that the possessions of his profession had been damaged so? Unlikely. But that’s why this order existed, after all. What use was the wealth of the Church, if it could not soothe the suffering of survivors? Off in the distance, she too heard of what words the dying and the captured spoke. Beyond stories of a caged beast, one that shrieked and consumed rabbit meat, it was nothing particularly noteworthy, and all within the expectations of what deserters could come up with. The smell of tobacco tickled her nose, the invitation founded in an open case.

She closed the lid firmly, gently, expression hidden beneath the visor of her helmet.

“A kind gesture, Dame, but there’ll be plenty of smoke to inhale soon enough, if Alodia has any say in it.” A pause. “Save one for me for after our victory march.”



And now, there she was.

Shield up, spear in hand, sword at one hip, and hatchet on the another, Serenity drew in a deep breath, feeling the blood in her veins, the tautness of her sinew, the flexing of her muscle. Lungs expanding, mind sharpening, thoughts flattening. In front, Sir Villis stood, resplendent as always. Behind, her comrades, shadowed by the treeline, immersed in the darkness of dusk. Firelights flickered in the distance.

Soon, those flames would become conflagration.

But no flames could outshine the Moon.

Fanilly’s cry sounded, a girl’s high-pitched call into the night, and Serenity responded with her own, a throaty roar rushing out from the depths of her stomach. Her spearpoint set, her shield aligned, she lunged forth, a cavalry charge on human legs. To their credit, the bandits were armed. To greater credit, none of them had moved to take their prisoners as human shields.

Didn’t mean she’d give them the chance to, either way.

The first lunge caught a bandit in the chest, tempered steel puncturing through chainmail as if it were nothing more than cloth. She twisted the haft as she drew it out, letting him choke on his own blood, before the second thrust caught another mid-charge, slicing deep into his knee. He fell over, and Serenity herself advanced, a boot stomping down onto his neck. A glint of light caught her eye and on reflex, she deflected an arrow with her shield, the projectile skipping off the rounded top. An archer, further off from the rest. Couldn’t enjoy the advantage of reach against that one…but it was irrelevant anyways.

She had felt the force of that arrow against her shield. It was insufficient for punching through her armor, so Serenity turned her attention elsewhere.

A cage in the distance, covered. More bandits nearby.

A split second decision.

“Dame Cecilia, I’ll open up the lines! Clear out the ones around the cage!”

Two hands grasped the spearhaft. Veins bulged out beneath the cuirass. Her heart accelerated. Her emotions heightened. Her fangs bared.

A true knight was both might and majesty.

A true knight was a lion.

And with a broad swipe, the Arcedeen scion displaced the men before her, scattering them just long enough for an archer whose skill surpassed the bowmen of House Autmere to have her pick of the targets.
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by PigeonOfAstora
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Lein



Location: Bandit Camp, Forward Position
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Lein had hung back as he watched the other knights pile the dead into the centre of the road, using the time to instead to poke the unsullied corpses with his greaves. Burning the bodies after combat was standard practice after most battles, and although it would mean the dead would remain dead, it also meant most of what these bodies had to offer in the form of beast food and bones would also be wasted. For now, Lein was just there for the occasional trinket he could find before all the opportunity dried up.

After carefully avoiding the attention of Dame Tyaethe as she inducted more knights into disposal duty, Lein looked at what was left. Some of the Knights were messy, alright - some were frostbitten, others cleft in two through the torso; however grisly their deaths, none of them really had much to pick through in the first place. It solidified Lein's suspicions - these were the dregs, cast out here either as a taunt or a bait. They were never meant to stand a chance at even running away from the Knights. "Least Jerry's living up to the title of King." Lein mumbled sardonically, throwing away a bloodied wooden trinket.

As the Knights started to regroup and continue their advance, Lein hung back to watch the fire alight. The stench of An occasional glint of copper or paper suggested some valuable or keepsake, but it was quickly smothered by the roaring orange-red. Tch. What a waste. Lein shook his head, covering his nose with his scarf. Lein turned onwards into the night with the rest of his cohort, preparing for the bigger fight.

<---<<


Lein could smell the anticipation in the air. Excitement at a real battle was there, for sure, but there was also a sliver of nervousness. A caged beast under the thumb of the Bandit King, or so the scouts had relayed back to them. Bandits, especially if they were as ill-equipped and ill-trained as their first encounter, would be easy enough to deal with. But some rabid beast? What sort of trump card could this Bandit King be holding? Lein would certainly have wanted to strike out ahead and act as his usual role of reconnaissance himself, but for now he'd just have to trust that Cecilia and Hope had made good with their claim.

Actually - Lein mulled, scratching his ears as Fanilly delegated their positioning for the upcoming rush against the bandit camp - charging ahead did sound far more interesting than hanging back again, this time. As much as slacking off was a part of his job, he also didn't come all the way here to just sit back and play crossbones while the other Knights burned down the camp. Lein quickly slipped among his more heavily armed compatriots as they advanced on the camp, scanning their entry point. Watchtowers. Dangerous, preferably taken care of by the ones hanging outside the base. Lein had a better shot at pushing through the armoured ones in the front and going straight for that cage. Lein's tail bristled inadvertently. A sinister hunch. Yeah, best to take whatever was in that thing out first.

And now... Lein readied his bow, tapping a bone finger against an arrowhead as a countdown. And one - two - three - the treeline exploded into a chorus of battle roars, their Knight-Captain's cry flying well above the rest as Lein followed the flow of muscle and steel pouring across the palisades and into the camp.

As Serenity warded the vanguard with a grand swipe of her spear, instead of the green glint of verdant crystals she would hear the crackling of a thick bowstring and the mechanical clicking of metal against bone. A weighty thwack announced the release of an arrow that soared past the scattered men and punched cleanly through the metal coif of a cage guard. The bandit staggered backwards in surprise, stumbling over with a confused gurgle.

Before the cage guards could react - another crack and another arrow pierced the gap in the shoulder pads of the second target.

Yet another - this time erupting blood through the eye socket of a third.

"You called? I was about to think you forgot about me!" Lein grinned coyly at Serenity, before dodging behind Serenity's shield arm as the men closed back around them, now with revitalized vitriol against the new Hundi. "Hup - On your left, Serenity!" Lein called out, knocking an arrow into the knees of more men that rushed their forward position.

These ones were smart, quickly catching on. They'd need more than just a spear and a bow to push through. Fire?

Lein barked out to whoever was near, above the din of the battle that now fanned out from the entrance. "Anyone got a light? We need to break through!"
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by HereComesTheSnow
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Gerard Segremors


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He breathed low and deep, letting his mind sharpen as the diminutive Captain's orders floated over the congregation, and he among them.

Before this, he had exchanged the banter with his fellows along the edge of the mounting pile of corpses loosely, a small part of him realizing that it was more than a little odd of them all to be quite so cavalier around the dead, blood spilling onto faces all the while. He'd caught the decapitated head Fionn tossed his way with a bump of the chest and kicked it into the heap once it fell to his feet—a world removed from the time where sight of blood once drove a lump of ice into his heart.

It was true, yes. He had little fear for death these days. His heart had hardened in that respect, long unfazed by the carnage of battle. Warfare was a trade far too unkind for one to keep such an innocence long. Not if they were taking the field. There was drilling, there was training, there was dueling. So much of it you could prepare the motions for— so much of it did have that "dance"-like quality that so many poets romanticized it being.

And yet.

He blinked, remembering not to let his eyes go dry, and slid his gaze over to the back of the winged helmet head of him, just behind the wall of shieldbearers. He was in turn just behind her, within the division that would assault the front gate. Here was where combat would reach its fever pitch— and where warfare would ask the same questions of his new commander that Gerard himself held. They were what drove him to follow her orders for this battle, searching to see them answered.

How thorough was her preparation?

How good a head could she keep above the mayhem?

Was there any merit to the tradition that bestowed this title to her, fate's hands guiding the order so?

War was no dance, it was simply War. It was far too chaotic to be anything else. No matter what kind of preparation one went through, the real thing didn't have that safety net of a controlled environment. It was a mirror, the way it showed you all the holes in what you thought you knew of it. Time and again, it forced you to change or die. He'd rid himself of squeamishness for human blood ages ago.

So, with this being his first time under her command, and her first time taking the field at all... What kind of Captain would Fanilly Danbalion prove herself?

He was a new hire, and she a new officer. He had to know, right off the bat, what he was working with. Even if the circumstances had changed from "mercenary regiment" to "knightly order", Gerard's mind was resolute in this matter. The skirmish from before was just a taste of what was to come. He'd stick to her unit and discover the answers firsthand.

He blinked again, pinning his gaze back onto the encampment ahead. The glow of flame cast red-orange hues over the palisades his former quarry had mentioned, and if his eyes narrowed, he could see the forms of the brigands milling about between them, metal in their hands catching the light every so often. Dim and red... his mind could only see the blood that no doubt stained them.

A pulse of something hot ran through his frame, as the world around him gained sharp focus. Thoughts began to fall away, and with them his concerns of the girl at the front. They'd return later. They'd slow things down for what came ahead.

The circumstances had changed.

He wasn't doing this for something like money.

It wasn't to just put food on the table.

It wasn't against a faceless troop, for a cause he didn't need to understand.

These were pillagers, making merry off the blood of the innocent. Their slaves were tucked away within those walls, beaten, brutalized. Perhaps worse. Remnants of the Cal rebellion or otherwise, these men were bandits. Their brutality knew only one boundary— don't kill those that might be useful to you. The Roses had already confirmed dozens of slaves—

How many hundreds had missed the benchmark, and had their lives stolen in return?

His gauntleted hand rose, taking a grip of white knuckles onto his pommel as he leaned forward and crouched low, awaiting the signal as his blood began to boil, black pitch that shallowed the breath and killed the intrusive Thought with a decisive, pure answer.

No More.

"Iron Rose Knights, charge!"

A high and clear cry pierced the night's cold air, cutting through the clearing as a singular, unexpected note—

And beneath twin points of gold that burned like Lady Reon's own sun, the growl that had risen from Gerard's throat exploded into a rough, bellowing howl, joining the chorus of his comrades as they surged forward. Diving around the palisades, Gerard's powerful legs had charged like this possibly a thousand times— and ever the tip of the spear, the Forlorn Hope fell upon the bandits at their gate, a starved wolf among lions.

That throne was still empty, even as it loomed high within the center.

His blade bit deep into the collarbone of an archer scabbling to nock an arrow, smashing through the oaken limb as though to herald the ensuing spray of blood. Jeremiah had yet to show, even with the knights smashing into his encampment from all sides. What was the big idea? Had the palisades not given ample warning, wherever the hell he was?

Growling, he kicked the corpse free, knocking it into the feet of a spearman, rushing to impale the massed forces. His charge halted, Gerard swung the longsword's blade low, clipping his spinal cord. The meaty thrum of a crossbow off to the side made him throw himself off at an angle, a rightward lunge that carried all but the ends of his hair out of the bolt's way. It brought him in range to grab the spear from the limp grasp of the bandit who'd charged them— and plant it into the gut of a man wearing pilfered maille, holding a shortsword of one of the crown's soldiers. He earned just a little more follow-through, as Gerard grit his teeth.

He didn't for a second trust the supposed "absence" of the lynchpin of these forces. His men would have routed soon without him. Not here in the opening seconds, sure, but certainly not fighting this resolutely, either.

His eyes darted to the side the bolt had come from— Handled. A knight bearing a sturdy kiteshield was bringing his mace down onto the bandit's skull, the crossbow lying shattered in his wake. Too loud to bark thanks— and a distraction would earn either of them a blow that'd actually hit.

The crash of steel as his blade met that of a fellow longsword wielder saw to prove the point, as his rush for the knight's blind spot nearly saw Gerard take his head off. The man's stance suggested former soldier more than brigand throwing in— one of the rebels. Shanil'd love to get a hold of this guy.

Gerard struck again, whipping his blade around in a zwerchau to strike the temple. Meeting with an oberhau, his opponent rushed forward to choke the space, forcing a bind—

And ran his knee into the heel of Gerard's boot, as the knight's rear leg lashed out in an oblique kick moments after he gave a half-step of ground to reset distance. Trick he learned from a man the Faceless had picked up from Chauntressy— their term being "Chassé Bas". Its effects were immediate, as the unexpected attack to the legs hyperextended the rebel's knee, killing his base as he cried out in sudden agony—

And couldn't react in time to stop Gerard's blade from rotating back into the Plow guard, a short oberhau of his own that split the skull. his eyes narrowed, darting along the field, before he set off to rejoin the front being pushed by his target— the Knight-Captain, now in the eye of the storm.

This was the rhythm through which they experienced this loud, bloody, and unforgiving world. A constant give and take of force and space, awash with smoke, steel, and screams. Impacts on the blade, seemingly echoed by the pumping through his skull. It was a place of action and reaction— of naught but ebb and flow.

He fell in, eye catching Knight-Captain Fanilly, Sir Fionn, some others—

—And cast his blade, and all the blood and black fury behind it, into the maelstrom.
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by The Otter
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Fionn MacKerracher


@VitaVitaAR @HereComesTheSnow


Hmm.

So, the captain was as unsure as he was. That wasn't the sort of thing to inspire a lot of confidence in dealing with the beast itself; while they would undoubtedly manage, Fionn's goal was, as ever, to minimize friendly casualties as much as possible. Facing some unknown predatory beast that may-or-may-not-be planned as a beast of war against any reprisal wasn't particularly conducive to that goal, and without any concrete information to mitigate that which they couldn't control, they'd have to rely on their ability to think on their feet.

Unfortunately, in Fionn's experience, most of the high-born sort he'd dealt with as a mercenary were woefully inept at being forced onto such a reactive position. Many had earn their ranks and command by dint of their birth, rather than through experience, and most who showed particular skill and knowledge in tactics and battle had taken positions with the military or other knightly orders instead. Thus far, at least, none of those he'd interacted much within their fellowship seemed to fall into such a trap; with luck, the same would go for Captain Fanilly, even though she was thrust into command by tradition rather than proven skill.

"My thoughts exactly," he replied with an affirming nod as she mentioned keeping the beast—or its corpse—contained. "In fact, in the absence of a blade like Dame Tyaethe's..." He trailed off mid-sentence, the rest of his thought going unspoken. Not that it would make where he was going any less obvious, as he cast his eyes downward, looking among the lost weapons of their enemies, and picking up a crude-looking, but brutal bardiche to take the place of the sword sheathed at his hip. "Those of us who prefer their blades mounted on sticks might prove the best prepared, eh?"

He bent down, wrapping one arm over the chest of their late informant's corpse, dragging it over to meet its head on the rapidly-growing pyre.



As carefully as they had approached, at this point they couldn't entirely afford to simply skulk through the night lest they lose any possible surprise they had left after the advance party failed to report back. It was no wonder that members of the night's watch had gone about waking as many of their fellow warriors as they could after noticing the knights encircling their camp, but the simplicity of their plan and the efficiency with which they prepared for it meant that the camp wasn't half as ready for such an assault as it would need to be to stand a chance of repelling their attack.

Not that the knights could afford to be complacent, of course; just that they had the advantage of speed and focus, even if their surprise wasn't quite as much of one as would be ideal.

At the Captain's command, he sprung forward with a grunt, loping strides quickly catching him up to Gerard as they fell upon the enemy. When the other mercenary bound up with an archer, and as the other knights around them fell into similar positions clearing a path through the bandit forces, Fionn's eyes quickly caught a swordsman advancing towards one of his detachment. Another springing stride brought the blade of his commandeered bardiche hammering down, taking the bandit down with it with the sound of crushing vertebrae and collarbone. He charged over the fallen warrior without a moment to observe the work—he'd let someone else clean up behind him if the brigand was only paralyzed, not killed—bringing up his weapon slightly to displace the thrust of a spear even as he lunged in and flung his weapon forwards, the reinforced point splitting rings, tearing cloth, and finally puncturing a lung as the next bandit fell before him.

No time to put the man out of his misery; a furious bellow and glint of steel off to his left caught his attention before he could. Quickly shifting his right hand ahead of his left, he whipped his blade over to that side with a cross-step backwards, the sudden movement smacking aside the blade of a halberd that sought to take advantage of his lowered position with an overhand strike.

He let the momentum play to his advantage, bringing his right hand back to meet his left at the rear of his haft as the blade whipped around his head with another advancing step, shearing through the opened jaws of the halberdier who'd thought to take advantage of his extended position. Hoping, perhaps, that he'd thrusted too deep, that his blade would hang up within the body of the spearman and leave him open. A worthy tactic, certainly, against the common soldiery or average bandits; but Fionn had not spent so long working up to an elite position within his mercenary company, let alone being accepted into the Iron Roses, to fall prey to such an elementary mistake.

A pity. Some of these enthusiastic, opportunistic bandits might at least have made good pikemen, had they cast their lot with the right side.

The top half of the halberdier's head bounced once as Fionn switched his hands again, blade high and rushing with a roar at a still groggy-looking swordsman who hadn't yet been engaged. Whether due to sleepiness, shock, or poorly-judged distance, the rebel cut high, his blade clanging uselessly against the side of Fionn's helmet, before the entire side of his neck was opened with a pushing cut. Grimacing against the fresh ringing in his left ear—an unavoidable consequence of choosing to take such a strike, even though no true damage would be done thanks to his armour—he swiped the bardiche from left to right repeatedly, warding off the bandits closest while the others made their advance up to his position.

As surely as the sun would rise in a few hours, the bandits were corralled deeper into the camp, even as the rear ranks of the knights cleaned up any stragglers who avoided death in the initial charge or who had managed to flank past it. Up ahead, the covered cage loomed, dominating far more of Fionn's focus than the empty throne beyond it. Even if Jeremiah had fled and would survive the night, the chances that he could recover and mount any worthwhile opposition following the destruction of his main band were nil; assuming he made any such attempt, he'd be met with nothing more than the total failure and death that he merely postponed, with the loss of a veteran force.

In that light, the beast was far more concerning.

The momentary lull on their end of the field was shattered as an arrow snapped against the shield of one of the knights near him; with Gerard returning to the front in the corner of his vision, he charged forwards again. One bandit evaded the tip of his bardiche, only to be bowled aside and knocked from their feet as they were caught by a quick shoulder tackle and sent to the ground to be hacked apart by the others.

The next wasn't so lucky, catching the point inside the thigh, just between the tassets and above the cuisse. That one fell to one leg with a spurt of blood, muscle and femoral artery both severed in a single stroke. A kick sent them sprawling backwards, even as some of the other bandits retreated. Fionn spared the fallen man a glance as he stepped over.

"Hope it was worth it," he muttered, before slamming the butt spike of his weapon down into the bandit's uncovered throat.
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Renar Hagen


Finally, finally, they'd reach the camp of this so-called Bandit King. By the time Jeremiah's camp came into view, Renar was practically chomping at the bit in his own mind to dive into the fray. They'd been waiting long enough, and the previous batch of bandits had proved to be poor sport overall. That's all this was: sport. And a bit of pest control. These men had signed their own death warrants the moment they committed themselves to pillage and plunder as a way of life. There was no pity afforded to them, only contempt for their choices.

As the Knight-Captain began to call for the Iron Rose to separate into three assault groups, Renar joined the second, led by Paladin Tyaethe, simply because she'd been the closest to his proximity. Hopefully, she'd dive into the heaviest fighting. He simply nodded in response to her standing orders to focus on the two largest threats should they appear. It was sensible, and it guaranteed that he'd have his shot at the biggest targets among this lot. All in all, just fine for him.

___

The assault began, and Renar charged alongside his group, his poleaxe lowered to prepare for a thrust. He ran a good distance away from Tyaethe, trusting that she was more than able to make short work of anything in her immediate vicinity. Instead, the bastard of Brias was a good distance away, the tip of his weapon already thrusting into a bandit's neck.

A well-armed bandit in a coat of plates and bearing a halberd counter-charged, and Renar frowned beneath his helm's faceplate as he turned to meet the attack. The bandit had longer reach with his halberd, and if he knew what he was doing, it'd be a problem. Hopefully, he hadn't trained as extensively in the polearm-to-polearm counters as Renar had. Said halberd-bearing bandit raised his weapon and swung down. His first mistake. Renar narrowly evaded the downward swing and thrust his poleaxe down himself, locking the haft of the bandit's weapon beneath his own.

With the bandit taken by surprise from the counter, Renar raised his left foot and stomped down on the halberd's head, keeping it locked in place. He drew his poleaxe back and thrust it straight into the man's unprotected face, killing him instantly as his poleaxe tip pierced the bandit's brain.

Comparatively, the next few bandits to come before him fell much easier, all dying in single strokes, slashes, and thrusts. Oh, these men were experienced and decently-equipped, to be sure. But he hadn't been obsessively training day in and day out for nothing. That, and Renar had faced down orc warbands with parity in numbers before. Compared to those memories, these men didn't amount to much.

"This is actually growing concerning." Renar murmured to anyone in his immediate vicinity who could hear him as he withdrew the spiked butt of his poleaxe from a bandit's torso. "This Bandit King is hemorrhaging men, and yet he's still not made a move."
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When Knight-Captain Fanilly ordered everyone into three groups, Lucas Storm did what he usually did these last few months... try to see what Sir Gerard was doing. As the young man looked about for his hero, knights crissing and crossing his gaze, he finally put eyes on Gerard who was lining up with the Captain herself. Heading that way, a turn of the shoulder here, a gentle push there, he suddenly found himself in close proximity to Paladin Tyaethe. In fact, he'd stumbled right in front of her, and whether she was looking directly at him or not, he didn't want to chance disrespecting her. He had already heard a few grumblings from other knights who questioned his presence in the Order of the Iron Roses. If he angered any of the senior knights and was kicked out, he would have nowhere to go. His boyhood fantasy (the fantasy of most-all boys who'd read books or been told stories) that'd now turned into an actually achievable goal within the blink of an eye, would turn to dust. And he would be on the streets with no family or purpose. And so he quarter-turned towards her, using the exposed tunic on his bicep to wipe the worst of the blood from his face before standing to attention.

The orders were clear and concise, (Lucas repeated them a few times to himself to burn them into his mind,) but it was hard not to be distracted by the Paladin who was giving them. There was something very different about looking into the eyes of a vampire, Lucas couldn't place it. His mind flashed him a wild image of his parents as zombies when he considered if it was because he was looking at what was essentially a dead girl. Or maybe it was the idea that his commanding officer had witnessed more than two centuries of time. He'd never had much interaction with Tyaethe and her demeanour didn't exactly invite random questions, but by Reon did he have a list for her.

And that to add to that long list of inquries, the Paladin - just moments before it was time to advance into camp - transformed into a full grown person dressed head to toe in the finest armour.

"Fucking blimey," was the breathless reaction of the young man. Lucas, in spite of being raised around some of the foulest mouthed circus folk, had never actually cursed so hard in his life. But then, he'd never actually taken a life ere tonight either. Yes, there were plenty of 'firsts' for the boy this night. He only hoped he didn't have his first death too.

Just as he'd imagined earlier; the fort would indeed be a significantly harder beast to contend with, in comparison to the skirmish with ambushers. Under command of Paladin Tyaethe, the group charged the patchwork palisade walls and a mass of glinting metal was right there to meet them. That same rush of emotion accosted him as noise level began to rise. He roared alongside his comrades as they neared, and instead of letting the rushing river of nerves and emotion take him away, he stood in the riverbed, feet planted, and let those currents rise around him into a spinning helix of power that reached the clouds. Yes it would be bloody! Yes it would be downright savage! But such was the retribution that these lawless, dishonourable vagabonds deserved!

"JUSTIIIICE!"

As the line crashed against the defenders, Lucas whacked away a spear thrusting towards him, spinning within his enemy's guard and two-hand crashing his blade where neck meets shoulder. He withdrew immediately to fend off other threats, taking two steps back as he did, then closed the space vehemently when the enemy weapons drew back for another strike. His poorly placed strikes did nought but glance off sturdy armour but he stayed determined as he backpedalled to block and parry more blows. An unidentified knight next to him took advantage of the bandit in front of Lucas, smashing his huge mace into the bandits head and crushing his helmet along with half of his skull. Lucas pressed forward again in the rhythmic back-n-forth waves of the fight, copying his comrade and taking advantage of the bandit in front of him, stabbing the waist and turning the momentum of pulling out into an overhand strike to the neck, then quickly moving on from the payback to engage another.

With so many capable knights around him, Lucas was not in any danger of being overwhelmed. His comrades more than held their own, making the young man's life much easier. In fact, the man to his right was none other than Sir Renar - easily recognisable with the distinct fur mantle he wore on top of his armour - was making mince meat of the enemy. Perhaps it was the attention (and fear) the older knight was garnering from the bandits that was giving Lucas the easy looks he was getting. Another bandit fell to the sword of the Storm.

In his short time with the Order, Lucas had gotten the impression that Renar didn't like him. It wasn't anything overt, just a feeling. But right now, as comrades in arms, in the heat of battle, he didn't let that stop him from replying to the man's observation.

"It's gotta be another trap," Lucas answered, a quick pause as his eyes darted left and right to decide his next move. That's when he saw a little ways down the line, the shining knight that was Paladin Tyaethe causing absolute chaos, a teethy grin spread across his face. "He better do something soon, or they be no anvil left to smash his hammer against." A bandit came at him and he sidestepped the attack and hacked at his enemy's knee, before spinning into a slash that wasn't strong enough to take the head clean off, but killed his adversary all the same. "Carve a path to the cage?" he offered to Sir Renar. He wouldn't be confident enough to do it alone, but having the man who'd famously killed an orc warlord at his side, in addition to his raging adrenaline, would be another matter entirely.
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Go time, huh.

Cecil exhaled, calming the own beating of her heart as she'd quietly listen to the captain finish her speaking. She was only a little disappointed she didn't get to cut down on their numbers a bit before the main army hit. She could have harassed them for a few minutes before the main army arrived, throwing their ranks into a bit of chaos...and perhaps, trying to deal with whatever that caged beast was before it became a problem. But alas, time was not on their side and she had to report the locations of the men and prisoners back to the others so they could plan their attack more accurately.

Fanilly's order to charge came loud and clear.

Cecilia threw herself into the battle, taking a position further in the rear as was safest, allowing for a larger view of the battlefield as well as being easier to manage not getting an arrow to the knee. Lein managed to react to Serenity's request faster, but it didn't seem that was enough. Heh, well, far be it from her to deny a lady's request.

"No light, but I've got something better! Shael!" Cecil pulled an arrow from her quiver.

Yes yes, I'm on it.

"Venerable spirit," The arrow was pulled into the bow, a course of quick moving air current forming at the tip of it, slowly wrapping itself around the arrowhead, tightly wrapping in on itself as magical force compressed the air around it more and more. A verdant glow lit up the bowstring. "Of gale and yearning - Shatter!"

Did you just call me old?

thwack

The sound of another bowstring.

A fast moving arrow whizzed right by Lein's head, and whizzed by the bandits nearest him. A solid, meaty thunk was heard as it'd impale itself into the head of a bandit a few feet behind them, and upon impact, the magic compressing the air on the arrowhead released. A pained cry as the poor fool whose head it had been impaled in, quite literally, exploded as the compressed air burst outwards, not only potentially deafening the bandits temporarily from the noise, but also throwing their footing and ranks off, giving Lein and Serenity a moment to swoop in for easy kills.

"I'll cover you, get to that cage!"
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She had just gotten done folding up her cigarette container -- Katerina didn't even have time to shake her head in disapproval. Hurriedly, she moved alongside the forward advance: Serenity, Lein, and their little motley crew, cigarette alight as she made her way forth.

"Ugh, bloody fuck!" the witch-knight groaned, half-mumbling her words. Puffs of smoke fumed with frustration out of every word. "Cannae fetch up a bloody plan before we go an' storm tae' bloody castle?!"

Her ears perked up at Lein and Serenity's regards, calling for just her specialty. With two armoured fingers, Katerina plucked her cigarette from her mouth, resting it in the in-between of tranquility and fire -- elegance and burnt ends. The sorceress nodded back to her compatriot, dropping into a wider stance.

"Aye. I ken i'm able."

A motley crowd of adversaries littered the palisades before her. Cecilia and the entire whole lot of them had already been doing numbers on them, breaking them apart -- but they had will to them. Discipline, too, to boot. As Katerina begun her incendiary hymn, the faint fume of the cigarette ignited to life, then from that smoldering effluvium roared into a blaze. It grew in size, with every passage and hypnotic word, the fireball held in Katerina's hand roared larger and higher, swirling in size, spiraling into a vortex as flame enveloped her. The poor souls in front of her saw the firestorm in conjuration -- the wisest of the lot broke from their formation, scattering to the sides as they dove and flung themselves out of the way. The lesser of the pack stood with their shields up, propping together something resembling a phalanx defence.

Katerina delivered one last chanson -- and the firestorm rushed from her hands unto the front. A controlled pillar of fire burst the ranks and beams before them, smelting them all into a homogeneous pyrolithic smog. The entrance made little time wasting itself away before the inferno, melting away to an entrance usable by her allies. Katerina seemed steady to control the great conflagration, consciously controlling every swirl and fire-gale from the twitches of her fingertips like the conductor of an orchestra. Her fiery sonatra raised itself carefully above, allowing her friends and allies entrance -- from her unflinchingly uncomfortable expression, Katerina urged them all to move quickly, wondering to herself just how long she could maintain this great firestorm.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Psychic Loser
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Morianne


Morianne looked on as Tyaethe had called down her armor onto the battlefield. No matter how many times the troubadour had seen the vampire's magic, she was always impressed by the pristine beauty of it all. Tyaethe now stood tall, gallant. She was the ideal image of a knight that all great storytellers dreamed of. It made Morianne jealous. Her desire for fame drew her to that form of gross incandescence.

Morianne recalled how, in her early days of knighthood, she had attempted to replicate Tyaethe's armor with her own skills. However, try as she might, the troubadour could only produce fragile swords of pure mana. Armor seemed impossible.

While the other knights had begun their charge, Morianne furiously tuned the strings of her lute, only occasionally gazing upward to see if anyone was upon her. The Knights were continuing their steady push. She spotted a few familiar faces, wincing whenever the blood which began to cake the battlefield became too much for her to withstand.

Morianne sighed. This was embarrassing. Being a user of spellcraft came with a special caveat: Mana. Even as a practiced bard mystic, Morianne knew she risked eventually running out of mana. Without mana, she'd be incapable of fighting and little better than a civilian. Thrash had made it quite clear that musical spells, unlike their traditional counterparts, consumed an incredible amount of mana. This was due to how the casting ritual for musical spells was, unless under specific circumstances, continuous. The duration of the spell coincided with the duration of the casting ritual. So unless Morianne wanted to have her soul recycled into a bunch of dumb fairies, she best be wise about her spellcasts.

Morianne thought back to Tyaethe and ultimately came to the conclusion that, at least for now, she should follow her senior's example. It'd save a considerable amount of mana.

"A copy can be just as good as the original, Mori," the troubadour reassured herself.

She began to play a tune that, had anyone been actively listening, was obviously improvised.

Sharp, staccato rhythms played in quick succession. Droning cords smothered the beats of clashing steel and cries of war. Eventually, the sound settled on a horrid ostinato that chilled the bones.

Come to me
My protector, dearest steel
The one I abandoned in lives past
Your deadly edge, sharpest zeal
I've come to see

The cold you give is better
Than my own displeasure

Goddesses above
With your power I cast
A spell which shall make me an equal peer
So I may stand…No
So that I may be
A iron rose who knows not fear

I ask that you deem me

A Worthy Knight


A single sword of crystalline, transparent blue flickered itself into existence, its hilt firmly in Morianne's grasps. The sword itself had taken the shape of a rapier. A shield would soon follow, a round buckler, materializing in much the same way as her 'sword'.

"It's no armor, but it'll have to do." Morianne said. The troubadour gave a silent prayer to the goddesses before charging into the fray herself.

She changed through. Keeping her shield up, she made way through the entrance that her fellow mage, Katarina, had opened. She sliced and poked her way into the fight making quick, speedy work of any bandits which stood in her way despite her swordplay being quite average. Turns out, shields were pretty useful.
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Crimson Paladin
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Fleuri Jodeau

Fleuri listened attentively to Fanilly's orders to attack the camp. There were several considerations. First, there was a watchtower from which sentries could see trouble coming and rain arrows down from. Fanilly's plan was to have the archers and mages attack it, taking out the sentries before they could warn the others. There was a chance that killing them would itself alert the bandits to the attack, but without eyes up in the tower, their ability to respond effectively would be limited.

The second concern was the fact that from what he could gather, they didn't have Bandit King Jeremiah's exact location. The solution would be simple enough- they'd have to fight their way through the camp to find him. He had to be in there somewhere, Fleuri reasoned, but without knowing where he was, Fanilly didn't have the option of putting together a team dedicated to take him out. They'd have to improvise and adapt depending on when and where he opted to show up.

The third matter was the palisades. The bandits would have a defensive advantage, and being war veterans, they will probably know how to make use of their fortifications. Fleuri could probably smash his way through the wooden fortifications, but he wasn't entirely sure about any specific countermeasure. Hopefully the surprise attack would catch them off-guard and prevent the bandits from hunkering down before the knights were upon them.

When Fanilly ordered a three-pronged attack, Fleuri didn't need to think too hard on who he'd go with. He headed to Dame Tyaethe and took up his station with her group. The First and Youngest was known for aggressive combat, and Fleuri's own preference for hitting hard and fast would be put to its best use following someone like her.

Plus, Tyaethe was an unliving legend, and getting to fight at the side of the companion of Elionne herself would be an honor.

Lucas, the impulsive young knight from before, and Renar, the bastard knight, also had joined Tyaethe's group. No surprise that they had chosen to be with her. Fleuri had already seen Lucas in action, and he had heard of how Sir Renar had won his spurs pushing through an orc raid to slay its leader. Between that and the resulting acceptance into the Iron Roses, Fleuri wondered why Renar Lord Brias didn't legitimize Renar. Perhaps Lord Brias viewed his "legitimate" bloodline as threatened by this bastard knight's success. In any case, the whole situation seemed rather unjust to Fleuri, and made him all the more resolved that if his own irresponsible past actions ever came back to haunt him, he would not dodge responsibility like Renar's father.

When the attack began, Fleuri took up the rear, largely because his reminiscing had caused him to fall behind. being in the back didn't spare him from combat, however- as soon they made it to the palisades, suddenly something metallic struck the upper part of his breastplate. Fleuri looked up to see a crossbowman, armored in brigandine and a kettle helmet, standing behind a shorter section of the palisade. He was fortunate that the quarrel had merely glanced off due to the angle of the shot, and had not penetrated his armor. However, he could not let the man get another shot off.

Fleuri charged at the palisade while the bandit wound his crossbow. The knight could probably cut it down, but that might take too much time, as would going around it. No, he preferred to tackle problems head-on. As he got closer, the knight used his free hand to draw a dagger from his belt and stab it into the palisade. The bandit took a few steps back as to not be within range of Fleuri's sword from the other side of the barrier. This would not stop him- using the dagger as a foothold to step onto, he jumped over the palisade and plunged his sword into the bandit's upper chest. Sometimes attacking head-on was what the adversary expected, but other times it wasn't.

Fleuri's next task was to fight his way back to his group. A nearby axeman tried to stop him, but the knight's greatsword cut right through the man's wooden shield and into him. The voulgier proved a bit more of a challenge, fighting defensive to keep Fleuri cut off. After a few feints, Fleuri managed to deflect an incoming thrust which gave him a window to rush up along the shaft and skewer the man on his sword.

Fleuri had little further resistance as he made his way to where Renar and Lucas were. As he got closer, he could hear that they were conversing about the Bandit King's seeming absence. It was definitely odd to Fleuri- why would he be absent while his camp was being slaughtered? And the cage- just what was the bandit king up to?

"I say we do as much damage as possible before he appears," Fleuri interjected. "If you need someone to cover you on your way to to cage, Lucas, I'm with you." They might not know where Jeremiah is, but they knew where the caged beast was, and they definitely needed to kill that thing.

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Steel clashed against steel.

The bandit she fought was better equipped then the men they had encountered in the ambush, his armor sturdier steel, likely pilfered from a retired mercenary or a higher-ranking solider. Far more skilled, as well, his axe cleaving the air beside her head as she narrowly dodged its edge.

But no matter how heavily her heart pounded, the Knight-Captain could not, would not, let her training fail her.

Beneath his arm.

Both hands tight on the hilt of her blade, Fanilly thrust its tip beneath his arm. The chainmail was not enough to protect from the finely-crafted sword, and she heard a ragged gasp leave his lips as she drew it from his body, leaving him to fall to the ground.

Confirmation that he was dead and not merely dying would have to wait, as another bandit was swiftly upon her, a longsword raised above his head with the aim of sharply bringing it down.

She caught its edge with the side of her blade, forcing him to back off in the very same motion.

Practiced maneuvers. Her hands, her body, all of it responded to the training that had been drilled into her very soul. The intensive work that had been done to sharpen her skills just as someone would sharpen the sword she wielded.

They had to crush this camp. They had to kill these bandits. They had to free the prisoners.

Already, the figures in cages, mostly young women and children, had gotten to their feet, eyes wide as some reached out, as if to call the knights to their sides. Those whose feet had been chained, mostly further young women, were scrambling to leave the center of camp while the bandits were distracted.

To avoid being taken as hostages as much as to avoid the fighting.

The bandit struck again, this time with a thrust that narrowly scraped the her left pauldron, sparks flying. And yet all it achieved was damaging his own blade.

Fanilly's doubts about herself did not extend to her equipment. Her dwarven-made armor was resilient, to say the least.

She brought her sword down, hacking into the side of his neck with its edge, sending him to the ground with a sputtering gurgle.

Sir Villis strode forward in resplendent armor, smashing his shield into a surprised bandit's face before following with a crushing blow of his mace, caving in the man's helmet and the skull beneath it in a single blow.

"By the shining moonlight, we shall deliver judgement!" he cried, his words echoing from within his helmet.

And yet... where was the bandit king? Where was Jeremiah?

"Cover the prisoners, if you can!" called Fanilly over the din of the battle, "Do not allow them to take hostages!"

That was her next biggest concern. It would make navigating the battle far more difficult, not least to mention that it would place the lives of the prisoners in direct danger.

Catching sight of a crossbow leveled at the fiercely-fighting Sir Rickert, Fanilly broke into a sprint, taking the man by surprise before he could loose a single bolt. His armor, light and made of leather, was no match for the edge of her sword as it cut through his side in one swing, then his throat as he twisted, falling.

She had to ensure the safety of the prisoners.

But also that of the knights under her command.

The heat of battle was intense.

Too intense.

Why did the air suddenly feel so much hotter?

Fanilly's question was answered when the dead tree at one side of the camp was suddenly engulfed in roaring flames, licking at its twisted limbs. With the creaking, grinding sound of breaking wood, it fell.

"Look out!"

It was all Fanilly could manage.

Its immense trunk slammed down across the camp's center, cutting the battlefield in two, the resounding thud reverberating through forest. An unlucky bandit, having been retreating in a bid to snatch one of the nearest prisoners as a hostage, was crushed beneath the burning wood.

With the burning tree cutting them apart, the Iron Roses had been split down the middle. At least for the moment.

"Ah..."

Had there been signs? Had she missed them? Was it her fault that the battle had suddenly changed so drastically in an instant? Fanilly did not know. But the mere thought clutched at her heart tightly.

"Knight-Captain, are you alright?!"

It was the voice of Sir Rickert. Fanilly turned towards him.

"I'm fine, we must-"

Her eyes widened, but there wasn't even a chance to warn the knight.

The immense blade came down, shearing through plate armor in an instant, cutting through Rickert's body from shoulder to hip.

The Dragon-helmed knight came apart, hitting the ground with a spray of blood.

"... Sir... Sir Rickert..."

Fanilly's hands shook. Her heart tightened.

A knight died in her command. A man died under her command. Because he had been trying to see if she was safe.

Because-

The enormous blade descended again, Fanilly's body reacting before her mind, hurling her to the side and away from its impact.

"At last," the blade's wielder began, his deep voice betraying amusement, "The Iron Rose Knights."

He was a huge man. As tall as the tallest of the Knights, perhaps even moreso. His body rippled with muscle, and no small number of scars. He wore no armor, standing barechested, looming over her. The sword he wielded was an enormous, thick chunk of metal, stained with blood as he hefted it onto his shoulder.

"Let me introduce myself, little girl. I am the Terror of the Red Flag," a vicious grin came to his lips, "Knight's Doom Jeremiah! The Three Hundred Man-Slayer!"

He charged.




The din of battle was well and truly underway. Former soldiers, now traitorous bandits fighting against stalwart knights, the bandit king, at least, for now seemingly nowhere in sight. Under the moonlit sky, it seemed as though things were going in the knights favor, at least for now. They had successfully circled the camp, Captain Fanilly leading one group, Tyaethe a second, and then Sir Villis a third. It was a sound plan in theory, but plans rarely survive first contact with the enemy.

As the tree caught fire and began to fall with a might cracking of splintered wood, the smell of smoke began overtaking the battlefield as it crashed to the ground. The mighty, ancient tree slammed into the ground, its trunk otherwise remaining unbroken, unlike the knights formation as the ranks lead by Sir Villis, Captain Fanilly, and Tyaethe.

Split from each other now, the knights must fight in their own groups at least for now.

And while perhaps, this would not be a problem against most of the bandit rabble the group that was fighting initially...the bandits that were now swarming Tyaethe's group were proving to be anything but common rabble. As she had correctly surmised, these were no simple bandits. Plate Armor, dirtied and wearing faded, old iconography and logos on some signifying faded glory. Veterans from the red flag war. It would not belong before Lucas, Renar, and Tyaethe were embroiled in melee with the old traitors.

Tyaethe deflected the blow of one expertly, the heavy axe he was wielding being shoved away with grace and skill expected of a paladin. A dissatisfied growl escaped the mans lips from under his helmet, grip tightening on his own weapon as he'd immediately transition into another heavy swing for the Paladin's arm. If she wanted to be the center of attention, it seems she was getting it. A second of the bandits would soon join the melee, a spear attempting to catch the Paladin in one of her legs.

Lucas and Renar were not faring much better, having been surrounded by these more skilled bandits. He might have been able to quickly cut their way through the bandits until now, but these veterans of the war were proving just as difficult to deal with. One, wielding a particularly large warhammer would engage Renar, attempting to go for the mans legs with the weapon while another engaged Lucas with a halberd, attempting to cut the boy down, certain he had the upper hand here.




Cecilia's strategy was hardly an unwise one. The impact of her bow knocked bandits from their feet, and those who still had their wits about them were stunned by the sight of a man's head exploding from air pressure.

But the lock on the cage rattled from the blast, the faint sound of creaking metal inaudible under the sounds of battle.

And then, when the burning tree fell, it slammed onto the campfire, a burning hunk of wood sailing through the air and catching the cover thrown over the cage alight.

From within came a fearful screech, and the cage rattled once more, the creature within slamming into the door in a bid to escape the flames.

If the lock was fully intact, perhaps it would have failed.

However...

The door burst open.

The beast emerged.

Its massive wings spread, feathers almost gleaming in the light of the fire as they flapped once, bowling over the rising bandits once more.

Its hooked beak, tipped with black but brown at its base, came open for another shriek, clawed forelimbs scraping at the dirt, its rear limbs tensing.

The front of its body resembled a bird of prey, but the feathers gave way to a thinner hair-like covering near the rear of its body, resembling some manner of large cat.

Griffins were known as proud, powerful, dangerous animals. They had made their way into numerous pieces of heraldry for this purpose.

And now this one stood free, full of rage and fear, surrounded by men who had imprisoned it.

It would not differentiate between the bandits and the knights.

@Raineh Daze@Rune_Alchemist@Psyker Landshark@Pyromania99@HereComesTheSnow@Saiyan@The Otter@Crimson Paladin@ERode@Psychic Loser@Richard Horthy@Aeolian@Rin
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Raineh Daze
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The beast wasted no time in avenging itself on its tormentors, massive head lunging down and snapping a neck between its beak as if it was nothing. It was just a bigger rabbit, wrapped up in stinking hide and hair. But the griffin had no time to turn its kill into a meal; all around were more of its gaolers. Some even remained unbowed despite its display, and the intelligence behind its avian eyes looked at them calculatingly for only a second before defining the knights:

Challengers.

The griffin reared back defiantly, height on full display; far larger than either of the parts it resembled. Larger than a lion. Much larger than an eagle. Only the mightiest of warhorses would have equalled it, and rearing back in the magical firelight, it was an intimidating sight. Once again, the animal let loose a cry--not a screech of frustration, but a piercing cry of challenge, a single deafening call audible throughout the camp--if not for miles around, enough to spook the horses the knights had brought with them.

The massive wings beat heavily, demanding that all before it kneel, that Lein and Serenity lower their necks in submission and accept their fate. A gust of wind strong enough to send the unaware tumbling; a gale made entirely of muscle and sinew.

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Tyaethe Radistirin


The paladin winced as the massive tree came down. Was this entire camp set up as a trap to separate the captain--no, that wouldn't make sense; even Jeremiah would know that it wouldn't save him. There had to have been something else intended for that, to start with; the tree must have been for equalising the battle somehow. This was just opportunism. At least they knew where the so-called Bandit-King was, and her group had its orders: get to the captain and reinforce her.

Of course, that meant she had to pull more of the attention to herself and force the veterans to stay on her.

"So, you must have been important once. Now look at you, a bandit," she taunted, pushing away the first axe blow. If they weren't important, were just some peasant levy or low-ranking man-at-arms, then there would be no reason to have gone on the run. They'd gotten the traitor, hunted down the ringleaders--massacring the soldiery wasn't practical or necessary. "For a few minutes."

When the second heavy axe swing came down, Tyaethe adopted for the radically impractical tactic of stepping into it--not enough to stop the blow, or even deflect it. Enough to stop the axe from getting an angle to go clean through her armour, but the arm beneath was surely broken all the same, having been taken with so little resistance. Useless for swinging the sword now clenched in that fist. That was fine, it would heal soon enough, and she could still push forward.

Against humans, against trained warriors--always push forward, always attack. That was Tyaethe's style. Injury was just a nuisance to be accepted; defence a frivolity that drew out the battle. Here, then, the bandit was expecting a normal response to injury--panic, defence, some form of backing off. Instead, the paladin's paces quickened, and her good, left hand slugged them in the face, dropping back to the blade's ricasso, pulling the weapon up tightly to once try and gut this one like a fish.

With her rapid advance, and proximity to their ally, Tyaethe wasn't worried about the spear strike--not immediately, the first blow glancing off the armour. They'd try something worse next time, she needed to deal with the axe-wielder fast or at least keep them off-balance. Fighting on multiple fronts was annoying.
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Bolts, steel, then arcane, pierced throats and eyes, well-placed shots by Sir Lein followed by an eruption of gale-force wind to scatter those who remained still. Dame Cecilia, her spellcraft creating the conditions for Dame Katerina’s firestorm to truly feast. The bandits may not have been felled completely by their efforts, but it mattered not. Their numbers have been evened enough that Serenity could run through the rest of them on momentum alone. She readjusted her grip, held her shield affront, and…

heard the thunk of steel through wood, a clean sound accompanied by the felling of a flaming tree, crashing dangerously close to the cage. It was an all-consuming sight through the slits of her visor, all fire and ash and sparks, the rush of the conflagration stalling her just enough to admire the beast that the bandits had somehow managed to corral into a cage much too small for such a majestic creature. A griffin, its size rivaling even the towering warhorses of the famed Velt Cavalry. Scholars have spoken of what musculature would be required for men to fly the way of birds; seeing it up close, Serenity could marvel at the fleshiness of the beast, the scornful disdain that it held to all present.

A prideful predator, burning with the shame of captivity, blinded by the smoke and firelight. But not a bandit. Would a knight skewer the enslaved for acting out of fear? Would a knight strike down a beast, panicked by circumstance?

The gale swept past, broken into eddies by shield and stance, the lady knight unmoved by a creature so fantastical as to be mythologized into the heraldry of Thaln’s knight-nobles. She recognized the challenge there, the cry of indignation mixed in with it, but not all duels ended in death, and this was no pitiful mongrel, dancing to the will of its miscreant master. So she advanced, steady paced at first, then charging forth, spearpoint at the ready, ready to attack, to defend, to take initiative and to draw its ire!

And within the thunder of her one-woman cavalry charge, so too came that paradoxical cry. “Give it a way out!”

If it wished to offer its heart to the tip of her spear, then so be it. But if all it took was the draining of some of its bad blood to get this beast to spread its wings and fly away? Then that too was good.

After all, House Arcedeen had its fair share of griffons already, mounted upon plaques above hearths and dining rooms.
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When The Flower of the North appeared, Lucas was filled with even more confidence. He was now looking at two of the most skilled knights the Iron Roses had to offer, and the young lad - even with his average abilities - was ready to prove himself alongside them. Knight-Captain Fanilly or Paladin Tyaethe might even thank him for his impetuous adherence to their commands. Such desires burned like embers within him, even in the chaotic intensity of the action.

"I say we do as much damage as possible before he appears," Fleuri interjected. "If you need someone to cover you on your way to to cage, Lucas, I'm with you."

"Then let's do this," the junior knight replied, a cheeky one-sided grin on his face.

And with that, he moved.

It was strange a thing: Fear was completely absent. Fear of death, at least. Fear of failure, perhaps. He wanted so badly to grasp this opportunity life had presented him. To make his parents proud, if they were watching over him. But even that fear - fear of failure - was barely present. He simply wanted to be successful. Wanted it more than anything. But he didn't worry about failure. He didn't worry that everyone around him, friend and foe alike, was a superior combatant. He didn't worry about anything. He'd been that way his whole life. It was this strange quirk that allowed him to be so successful so quickly as a trapeze artist. To fly through the air at dizzying heights, swinging from one trapeze bar into the grasp of a fellow artist... fear was an obstacle that most human beings would have to conquer in order to execute. Usually by extensive practice over safety nets. But fear was never something Lucas had to conquer. And here, in the midst of battle, it was the same. The righteousness, the prospect of glory, the ideals that the Order of the Iron Rose stood for... it was these things that filled his mind and glowed under his battle-rage of nerves and emotion.

Lucas swayed left to slip a swordsman's attack, then swiped at the back of his knees as the bandit went past him into the capable attack range of Sir Fleuri's greatsword.

The cage was in sight, but Lucas' vision was soon blocked by more bandits advancing on them. "Come and pay the price for your crimes!" Lucas' advance did not falter. He didn't care about his mortality and thus felt invincible. He was a sword of justice. He was not a boy but the law itself. Righteous indignation and conviction in human form.

In the loudness of shouting, screaming and steel clashing with steel, it was almost too difficult to hear the charging footsteps of a flanking bandit. Lucas looked right, just in time to throw up a parry and sidestep. It was now at least a quartet of bandits on the three knights, Lucas, Fleuri and Renar. Lucas struggled with one, but with enough space on the battlefield to move around, he managed to draw his opponent into overreaching and countered with a savage charge, running his sword right through the bandits neck and following through until he'd run the bandit into the ground.

They were close, but then...

The dead tree at one side of the camp was suddenly engulfed in roaring flames... "By Reon." ...before it tilted, looming, creaking and finally plummeting to the ground. Its immense trunk slammed down across the camp's center, cutting the battlefield in two. The reverberating blast on impact forced Lucas to turn away from the heat and pressure - his free arm up and covering his head.

Captain Fanilly, was his first thought as everyone recovered from the impact. He was sure her team had come from the east side, across the camp where the flaming, fallen tree trunk now barred. The flames distorted all vision. Lucas didn't have time to look for a way around when the cage finally broke open and out emerged a beast that Lucas had only read about in books. But he knew it as soon as he saw it. That massive eagle-like head was unmistakable. It spread it's wings majestically and some bandits were knocked away, but Lucas' focus was not on the bandits, but the beautiful, mythical creature in his sights.

"Wow," he whispered, right before it shrieked so loudly, it drowned out even the din of battle.

And then he was back in reality, the sequence of events from tree falling to beast unveiling lasting mere moments. So this was the trump card of King Jeremiah. A griffin. How in the world could they deal with that!? The felled tree must have been part of the bandits' plan too. An elaborate trap was expected, but it's execution was successful and now the Knight-Captain was nowhere to be seen.

And to add to the difficulty, an altogether different squad of bandits set upon Paladin Tyaethe's team. No mere brigands but finely armoured warriors - the difference measurable, even by sight. And Lucas would quickly find out that they were far superior in skill too.

A halberdier engaged him. Lucas backpedalled as he parried away the strikes, then tried to advance and strike back, but couldn't get close. The halberdier countered easily, and Lucas might've been dealt a mortal blow had he not disengaged with quickness. And yet he didn't get away without feeling the sharp slice of metal cut through cuirass and graze his skin. "Ha! An amateur," the rebel realised. "You're in trouble boy. I'm gonna gut you like a fish." Lucas was outclassed. He did his best to fend off blows but his armour kept getting nicked and his body taking lacerations. It was only credit to his agility that he wasn't yet bleeding to death.

"Ha!" The rebel thrust his blade to sever the boy's leg and cut out all the dancing, but Lucas jumped (an awful habit) one foot gently but firmly pushing off the end of the halberd, propelling him toward his opponent, inside his guard!

"Arrgh!"

His progress was stopped easily by a quick push-kick to the chest. The mid-air collision with a steel toe-capped boot knocked the wind out of Lucas and he was sent tumbling and crumbling to the ground. He'd lost his bearings. He didn't know where his allies were, at this point. All he knew was that the halberdier was walking up to finish him off and the young knight was in arms reach of long, heavy steel chain with manacle attachments. His enemy got within reach and Lucas let go of his sword to grasp the chain in his two hands, got to his knees and spun with all his might.

"Arrgh!"

The chain: Long enough to negate the halberdiers reach advantage. Heavy enough to do some damage - whipped around with force and Jeremiah's elite warrior - thinking his victory was assured - turned his face just in time to get slapped with the force of a battering ram across his jaw. The halberdier spun 180 as he fell to the ground, his finely crafted helmet just-about managing to allow him his consciousness. His jaw was broken, his disposition groggy and furious and he tried shakily to get up, much like a downed pugilist. Lucas, wide eyed, was surprised his resourcefulness had turned out so well, but he quickly snapped out of it, grabbed his sword and went to take advantage.

The sword of the Storm pierced the back of the halberdier's neck. The superior fighter's life ended for naught more than overconfidence. Lucas drove it downward, then poured his weight on top to drive him further into the ground. The young knight ignored his lacerations, his bloody nose, his maybe-broken ribs. But for a second he caught his breath, looked up and saw Griffin engaged with Serenity. The way it could just fly around whenever it suited itself, had to be negated. Lucas looked back at the chain on the floor.

Without even knowing what his plan was, he hauled up the chain and threw it over his shoulder, then wrapped it like bandoleer around his chest and threw it once more over the shoulder. And then he ran towards the biggest threat on the battlefield without a clue of what he was doing............
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