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The Fire Heart

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  1. "Alright, fine, we'll go together. Just... try not to get separated, ok? Not having someone watch your back could be fatal." Tolok let out a crude smile and lifted his palm, as a sign that Crystal!Mason should stop worrying about all these things. "Haha, no worries there, lady. I will make sure we won't split up, but I can assure you I can take of myself all right. I have a big palm tree with me, after all!" Even with all that, both of them got separated, thing which happened in the blink of the eye. None of them noticed and before they've realized, they were too far away from eachother. "Oh well. Guess I'm all alone now, with just a big, tall TREEEE!!!! Who in their right mind would try and ambush this man I am, with a big tree by my side!" And with that, a few soldiers appeared out of nowhere, with sand on them. It looked like they emerged from within the sand, ready for any kind of encounter. Some of them had... brass knuckle shaped shells...? While others had lassos knotted with seaweed, which somehow resisted all the pressure and stress put on the knot. Tolok, of course, was slightly confused of all this. "So......." A long pause occured, having no idea what's going on, looking at each of the ambushers, then at his 2.5m (8.2ft) tall palm tree. It's not that big as some other of its species, but it was probably long enough to take on at least two of them at the same time, "....Uh..... What do I have to believe first.... That you have lassos and brass knuckles and you want to fight me...... Or that you came out of nowhere, as soon as I..... uhh.... mentioned there'd be an ambush out of nowhere, just he-" The ambushers didn't let Tolok finish his words and rushed him. He shrugged and started doing his job with his big tree. ------ "Phew, you guys are pesky enough. It took a while to beat you all to a pulp. Huh, why are you not vanishing?" Six people were stuck deep in sand, with just their heads out, while the rest were tied with the lassos, thrown in a bunch like they were rotten apples. "Ahahaha, I get it now. I am actually bored. Okay, want to play a game? Whoever is the last one surviving in these six holes survives. Whaddya think of it, fella soldiers-ambushers?" The six came to create a visual cacophony of nods and headshakes, as if they had a choice in here, Tolok grinning while looking at them. "Alright, alright. Let the games begin!" ------ "Tolok? What the hell are you-" Tolok looked over at Crystal!Mason, who was as shocked as any normal person would be. "Oh, nothing! Just playing with these fella ambushers here! They came with brass knuckle shaped shells! Shells shaped as brass knuckles at me! How can you tell me these things really exist, and how can they be so foolish to try those! against me! Oh, and some lassos." He pointed at the remaining bunch of soldiers tied with the lassos, shaking in fear, as if they were Tolok's next toys ready to be destroyed to a pulp. "I thought I would pay them back for ruining my stroll, and here-" one soldier's head popped up and a loud BONK! could be heard. "-I am, having fun. Say, wanna try?" He handed Crystal!Mason the tree, as if (s)he would be able to carry it with no difficulty.
  2. "...So... He could have just shot us between our eyes and call it a day." He looked at Innes, who didn't give a damn about the world and only wanted some peace and quiet, striding towards the food stands. Tolok grinned as well, hearing Wymp's mischievous plan "We can challenge him to a drinking contest. Uh, not really. I just recovered from a hangover." He ended with a chuckle. Though his attempt to persuade Innes was underway, he was quickly interrupted by Amber and Crystal!Mason's arrival. Confused, he tried to speak up and ask about the scout, but was quickly stopped by the appearance of the skull in the sky. "Oh, edgy." He said, as he looked at it. Who would have thought there's people who'd mix up red with the human skull, like in a dark fantasy book and call it a day? Absolutely barbaric and grotesque, he thought! How would they be able to strike back with no weapons? Sure, Tolok had his unrealistically apparent strength, but he has nothing else to fight back. That was until Eve , who appeared out of thin air, showed them the power of the beach ball and the rest of the items in the shack. Watching the whole scene unfold, he only approached the small warehouse-thingy with confusion and looked through everything. "A surfboard here? What am I supposed to do with it, hover on sand?" He kept looking, not finding anything he'd remotely excel at. There was a pair of slippers which were already lethal without any enhancements and... Jump ropes? He left the shack with disappointment, but he brightened up as he saw the palm tree he pulled... On the shore? He quickly picked it up and shook it off the whole water which was soaking it, accompanying it with a grin. "Ha! I found something worthy of my power!" He joined them back, smiling at the weapon in the while. "Well, I guess I would have to choose...." He looked at everyone who picked up their weapons, but Crystal!Mason seemed to have one of the better synergies with his weapon. So... He picked her, even though he hadn't seen her before. "Hey, you up for splitting up? We can do some good work out of them!" He pointed at Trap!Mason, waiting for a response.
  3. "Wymp. Hey, Wymp." He reached for his shoulder in order to gain some balance and ensure he won't fall any sooner from the hangover. Owend followed as well on the opposite side of Wymp but didn't rest on Wymp's shoulder, since she recovered sooner than Tolok. Wymp probably didn't notice the two strolling to him, as his eyes were fixated on Innes and the armored person, who most likely expected this turn of events, thanks to the two drunkards who could have probably, God only knows what, managed to attempt something even more stupid than managing to be stranded on an island. Fortunately though, they were just fine, thanks to Ebon Knight and his subordinates, with the exception of the headache and a dire need of water. Tolok took his precious time on the ship to recover and most of his senses were back (including his common sense, though its presence is uncommon), with the exception of balancing. He took a long look at the two who saved them, trying to connect the dots between Wymp's shock and their dominating presence. Why did the three of them have such weird aliases, to begin with it? His only reason he could think of was to keep their identities hidden and continue on with their work, as long as they can't be identified. It was fairly obvious Wymp knew them and the history between him and the trio was not a kind one. He didn't know much about his history, but he knows only one person who'd hold a mouse as a pet... He facepalmed, with a deep and disappointed sigh, directed to himself. He knows he's an idiot, but wasn't this obvious? Though only an assumption, he looked at the two, then at Wymp. "Let me guess... we fought them several times." At this point, Tolok thought he'd be dead several times due to these circumstances. If there's no weapons, there's fists. And a drunkard mixed with fists is not a great combination. Now there's two of them who wouldn't bring anything to the table. Only thing he could do is pray and hope they don't seek malicious intent during this festival.
  4. Before Tolok hopped on the ship, he threw the "Umbrella" on the island and grabbed the box with his strong, but drunken inarticulate hands, pointed out by his inability to hold the box properly, probably causing Wanker's heart to have an ache, everytime he'd be close enough to destroy the box' content(s). Even though his actions before and during his drunken act would be considered "savage" with anything he'd hold, he took great care of the package and placed it with care in the boat, right near Wanker, as an invitation for disaster. Owend followed as well, almost wanting to sit on it, but quickly changed her mind and sat down somewhere else in the already crowded ship, probably wondering how aren't they sinking yet. Tolok so did, as well. To his luck, he slightly recovered from his hangover, probably enough not to remember anything in particular about the armour the trio would wear, but to remember the squeaking of a mouse.... a mouse on the boat? Who'd have a mouse... as a pet?! He thought, as he leaned towards it. The mouse didn't want to lose this chance, so it pulled its cheeks and stuck its tongue out, as if it wanted to provoke him to cause something mischievous. But then he remembered what's with that mouse. Back during his first fight as part of Exarch's squad, when he miserably failed to scare away his opponents, a mouse came out of the rubble, just to laugh at him, as well. Now, he should not jump to conclusions. Many people might own a mouse as a cute, little pet in the house. Maybe the knight has a wheel for it somewhere in the house, feeding it cheese and grains, anything a rodent would love eating, thus his assumption only lead to curiosity, which lead to keeping quiet and listening to anything that would come up. "Oh, a festival... OH, "The" festival! How much of it did we miss, while we attempted to incapacitate our livers with ale?" His stomach growled wildly. "Uh... What Hic!- time is it? I bet they have tables, over tables, over tables of food. Roasted, grilled, chopped, cooked, baked food is probably waiting for us. Mmh..." He spoke, thanks to his drunken state, most likely thinking for just himself. "Oh, how could I have forgotten, there are so many kinds of alcohol in the city! From the peasantry ale, to the rooooyal white wine!" With that, he made himself comfortable on the boat and looked at the sky, with absolutely no care for the world.
  5. Tolok could be seen carrying the half of the palm tree as an umbrella, trying to find a way out. As hungover as he may be, he still found use in "Quality of life" additions, such as the added shade of the "Umbrella", while Owend was taking down each drink, one by one, as if this was her fuel. That was, until Tolok, whose vision as probably as doubled as it could be, managed to spot the fishing ship, along with three people in it. Tolok's clear, drunk response was to flail the half of the tree around so maybe, but maybe, they could see them on the island. "LOOK AT US!!! WEEEEE AAAAAAAAA-hic-EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE HERE!" Anyone who would have watched would, most likely, fall of the ship, due to the almost comical way of him to gather the attention. Not only he managed to get their attention, but he also managed to get a sore throat, which he thought he could ease the pain with another drink. Carrying the palm with one arm, proudly, like a guardsman watching over the gate. he leaned down to reach for another demijohn, which he emptied in a minute. Inside, there may have been another but unfortunately, it cracked. Now, it would have not been a problem if the crack was as small as it could be, but the demijohn would break as soon as one would try to pick it up or apply force, and the one who'd have decided to drink from it would have to sustain a smelly, beer shower. Not a problem for Tolok, which he hadn't managed to see the crack itself on the other, last bottle, as he only chose his bottle to drink for the only reason that it was closer to him. The ship went closer and closer to them, so Tolok waved at them with a wide, yet very awkward smile. "Are yooouu-hic our savio-hic-s? God bless us, and G-HIC! bless you!" he spun the "Umbrella" around, as form of gratitude. "We may have so-hic-thing for you, as reward, HIC! Are you avid drinkers? We have a lot of drinks for you hic-re!" He pointed at the box where Owend would rest before, where the last, cursed demijohn was resting. "Do you have any problem with that, hic?" He looked at Owend, who was clearly still trying to recover from the hangover. Meanwhile, Tolok embraced it. "Anyways! A-hic we fine if we -Hic could board the ship? -hic!"
  6. Rolliam eyed the jab of the rapier with one, single eye. She was just as new to using her sword as a newborn child would be to their surroundings. Though, her words sounded all high and mighty, as a promise- or rather, as a threatening. He only acknowledged it with a head nod, as he didn't want to cause any fuss about it, as she was more stubborn than an average human could be. "Well, I always thought those wizards may have been some mastermind schemers of some sort. But, if you really say so, that they are just a bunch of seniles... I may just choose to believe what you say." Was his only response to her, only resorting to comment on the wizards. --- He rose his head, which was, before, pointed to the ground, once he heard them coming from the hallway. Nonetheless, he had expected his brother to take credit for his initial thought, but little did he care about it, anyways. Roland had other scopes in his life to set for, and Rolliam was there to make sure he won't be, unfortunately, killed in action during the scouts or not to have to resort to cold food. "But, well, I can say he really wants that great position for the future." He smugged and looked down to the ground, waiting for the door to open, only to raise his head to them, as if he hadn't heard any of the things there were mentioned. So much for hiding things. As soon as the Knight sat down on a chair and began the conversation with Lily, tension could be felt through every inch of their skin. It may have been from the fact that Lily would be intimidated by his towering presence, or the fact that she may could say one, wrong word and her life could end on the spot, even though they aren't barbarians or executioners to do such thing. He just bowed his head back down, keeping quiet. "I sit before you right now, unarmed. One good strike with that rapier, and you would have my life extinguished. I can guarantee that you wouldn't get far afterwards, but perhaps you're willing to give it all for that brief moment of triumph." Ah, the negotiator. As far as he could tell, not many had this chance to hear his words, and none have managed to attempt a murder on his life. As surprising as it could get, a great shock, this would be the schemes a leader would use, to show his wish to trust in those who need a clear path ahead. As much as he would have this high ranking, he hadn't forgotten we are still humans. Lovely, Rolliam thought. But one thing was to be corncerned about... Shall she thrust the rapier and strike him down, or will she accept and begin her path to finding the Exarch and, most importantly, saving Erasmia?
  7. “Rolliam. Talk to me. Tell me what I’m here for. You and your brother spent an awful long time keeping me company. I feel like I spent so many weeks asking, “are we there yet?”, and now we’re here and I’ve got just no idea. What about you, lady knight? What am I doing under the burned roof of Isore, with those who burned it?" Rolliam closed his eyes. Not as a response regarding his ignorance of the matter, but as of creating a thought. Existential problems were the issues which would prove fatal during the long run. They can be there, even though one can try and comfort the victim. No one knew when it would come back, hurt and cover the person in branches of thorns, in a grasp comparable to the bigger snakes. Barely any would escape from that, and with scars. He let Jill speak, so he could find a response fitting to her question. Such a simple, yet intriguing question, that which could be resulting like a war treaty. "Life has its own ways." He opened his eyes, with a comforting expression and moved his hair away from the pair. "As Jill said, it could have been easier for any of us to have a mail with the object you are holding. But you are here for a reason. You are important, and not just for us or The Wizards. If they sent you with that stone, while you have no experience in army related work, you must mean something. The Wizards are smart people, which think steps ahead... even though..." He cleared his throat, trying to get over what he almost just said of the 'High' Wizards. "They think steps ahead of us, so they knew what they were doing. They knew we won't do anything to you. But most importantly... You are trying to find the Exarch, right? During these expeditions, we will have a chance to find him. Think of that as a new chapter in your life. It may be something you won't like going through, but I believe it's a rite of passage, which has already begun." He finished the last note with a simple smile, watching Jill leave the room, then opening his bag, to reveal yet another, small bag, which he unveiled. There was a pie, which he put on a round table close to both Lily and Rolliam. "Say, Lily. You may probably need more to feel better and refresh your thoughts. Would you like some apple pie?"
  8. Perhaps, Rolliam's doubts were true; his delayed return held true to his concerns, but this was not expected. The amount of detail and risks the two had to go through was more prone to be part of a book about mighty heroes, than a real incident. But perhaps, most books take their inspiration from some real events, which they twist in beautiful, colorful meanings that enchroach themselves upon the reader's mind, leaving them hooked, asking and looking for more. But anyways, Rolliam took thought to himself how lucky his brother would be to make it alive with a person which had never touched the inwards of war and its horrors. Maybe it was a sign everything would go their way. Who knows... He came back to reality, just in time to hear his brother's request. He was not busy with anything, except for checking the palace out, but that could be discarded for another time, when they would be truly dismissed from work. Perhaps, that day may never come. He wouldn't have much to help with, when it came to comforting people. Maybe for the fact that he wasn't, really, the right person to help others out with the mental fortitude or the general definition of ranting. It could have been due to his idea of never sharing his feelings, for they were not for anyone to interfere with, thing which he developed during his career of scouting and staying hidden in battle. Or, most likely, he never bothered. He could only shrug and keep doing his thing, without anyone batting an eye, probably, if he were to do his work properly. And with that, which he thought of, he followed the two into the hallway. Now, the three of them were heading, most likely, towards the Exarch's personal chambers. He was behind the ladies watching, at times, if Lily seemed to recover. Most likely, she was still in shock after all that's happened and her opposition was normal. Some could say she is more like a prisoner, than an actual person of relevance, but the way she felt was more leaning towards the former, looking for ways to escape this mess she is imagining. But the last detail she is missing is that, even though she might see the Byrn forces as some sort of hellspawns, looking forward to devouring the world as a whole, they are still human, seen as the bad people in the given circumstances, as the Byrn see the other parties as the opposants. Rolliam was aware of that, but he could only feel pity for Lily, as she had to endure this and live with it. Maybe for years to come. And so, they stopped at the Exarch's chamber, if that was his, anyways. They ventured inside and he closed the door behind them, letting the two have their talk. He sat down in one of the far corners, watching around the place, with a bag in his lap.
  9. Snoooooooore....... Tolok was enjoying his sleep. Perhaps, he was dreaming of cutting wood, helping the world and its infrastructure to rise and flourish, because that was his snore like. The never ending sound of a saw, cutting through to obtain logs. And, by the Heavens, the drunkard wouldn't stop. He eventually woke up, after Owend's gradually increasing shakes. His whole face felt like a hammer was the torture device which inflated every single pore on his face, through numerous hits. One eye opened, as if he needed more sleep than required, even that one with sloth. "Morning. Uh... It's sandy here. Wait." He almost fell on his butt as soon as he stood up, only to take in the view. Beautiful, indeed, but for a more drunk than alive man, this was not the best outcome after a blackout. He couldn't even stand well on his legs, walking around as if he was made of jelly, tripping over sand. "Well, fuck. How many barrels did we drink... again?" As if he'd get an answer for that, he at least remembered they had barrels to drink from and not bottles, like normal people. Perhaps, he probably drank enough that one night to have alcohol running through the circulatory system instead of blood, as if that's how he was born. Or, probably, his body cringed when Tolok saw the wooden box, with two more bottles left. As much as he would love to drink... His body would, ironically, take the easy way to a coma if he'd drink another bottle. His intoxicated brain must have burped the fact that he is, probably, a monkey and he could still have climbing skills inherited from his ancestors. "I'm just...Going to climb this." His voice showed the kind of confidence only a drunkard would show, meaning this won't go well. So he did the unthinkable, only to help with spotting anything remotely close to them. He climbed the palm tree, almost falling due to the world spinning around him. Or was he spinning around the world? Eventually, he came back to his own senses, once he reached the top of the tree. The view was fine, as he looked around for anything, accompanied by the headaches and overall numb state. That was, until he heard a crack and fell out of the tree. When he landed on the sand, the thing that was changed to the island was the palm, cut in half by his weight and him, hugging the other part. And so, he learned he's not a monkey, but a drunk idiot. And with that, a boat was coming, which may or may not have seen him tearing a tree apart with his own weight.
  10. Whistling was the first thing you'd notice when around the trio. Rolliam was, according to his experience, just on another simple trip, watching the vista of broken buildings, ruins and chaos with an intricate expression. Recent rain had probably washed most of the blood stains on the walls, ground and rubble, but the immense amount of dust would also play a factor in this. And in this way, Rolliam's view about life didn't change: Everything has a cycle, which involved its birth, the absolute apex and slow or... rather terribly quick downfall. Everyone knew The Walled City would fall in time, but nobody expected such a deep drop in one siege. He shrugged and went on his way, with a few other guards which led them to the Exarch's palace. The ruins were melancholic, along with the beauty of nature, slowly taking what had once belonged in the womb of nature back. ----- The Exarch's palace finally was within their lines of sight, from top to bottom. A magnificent look, in the middle of the destroyed city. Rolliam wished it would be taller, though. "We're here. Magnificent, isn't it?" He said, not looking back at them, as he was slightly busy counting all the soldiers guarding the palace, as if he was going to be assigned to assassinate an important person from within it. But he was just bored, making steps towards the stairs, slowly ascending where one of Ebon Knight's most skilled persons was standing, waiting for them. It was Jill, with a face which would be easy to assume would murder anyone who makes another bad joke at the moment. Another spree of bad jokes coming from Innes? When they used to stay under the same roof with Jill and Innes, these jokes were running from day to night, accompanied with slaps and, probably, stepping on Innes' foot. He slowly smiled and regained his neutral expression back, waving at her slowly. At a close look, her face was red enough to take in consideration the posibility of steam coming out of her ears, in a cartoonish way. "Yo. I guess you heard the news from the gate." He quickly moved his shoulders to balance the weight of his bag, which was still half full with food. "Roland has some... interesting news, to say the least. I think all of you have been waiting for this... For a while." And so, Jill lead them to where the Ebon Knight was reading the reports. Rolliam had the same, bored look on his face while looking at the palace from the inside. Now it was up to his brother to explain the whole episode they went through, which he had been waiting for a while to hear. If Roland held out so much not to say much about it, this must have been more important than expected.
  11. "No, it's not injustice." He sighed, running his index finger on the edge of the table, most likely without realising. Nobody was around, that would listen to them, excluding the people around them, that were so caught up in their discussions, an amalgam of words over words, incoherent when one would try to listen closely to a table, as if the sounds themselves were a curtain strong enough to cover the other tables as well, creating layers, upon layers of impenetrable sound barriers. "It's pity. Pity for the poor, innocent people that ended up crushed by ruins, slashed by blades, those which suffered a dark, horrible fate. When a man or woman opts to wield the weapon, attach the heavy armour, under the banner of its land, they knowingly give their life, they know they might end up in dirt, they know everything they know and love would end. They take this risk and move forward with life. This is us, Owend. Our squad, the Glian army, Isorian, Dodon, Byrn. All of its soldiers know what they are in, they know they could die within the first second when the war cry is being shouted. Knowing this, they are fine if they will die Not all of them, but most. It is normal that all of them want to cling to their lifes as much as possible, but they do not fear death, like the innocent people, which we know. Civilians." He sighed, again. "I always hated, despised wars, death and pain to an extreme degree, when it is afflicted upon a person who would have never picked up any of a soldier's equipment, with the exception to defend themselves or their family. The innocent people should never, ever have to the true face of war. When I was a child, I used to love the stories about the great heroes, leading huge armies, on great marches which would ultimately defeat the evil and save the world. But... I grew up. I grew up when I saw their bodies, Owend. Ever since then, I hated the pairing of romanticism and war. Not just war, but all violence that is being poured, for no reason, to kill people which never deserved it. Not just them, my parents. But everyone else." He took a long pause to breathe. Tolok's bright smile changed to a defeated, humiliated face, which was completed by the eyes devoid of meaningness. This was poison, which he's actively spitting out, not to hurt others, but to exempt himself from it. "Being a wanderer, after that episode, turned out to be nothing more than a blind rage towards the unnecessary, murderous characteristic of some humans. Ever since then, I worked with other mercenaries, to actively take out gangs, take bloody jobs and do what an innocent person wouldn't dare to do. I avoided talking to them, the parties. And even if I would talk, it would be small, to pass time. Not because I hated being social, but because I would start caring. If they were to die, I'd weep the same way, because they would show me a part of their good-will, hidden between the layers of steel, protected by a will to survive. My hate kept growing more, more and more, my hope for this world would shrink again, again and again, along with my hope for finding out what happened to them. Who caused it, and why..." All this time, he avoided eye contact, because he feared what her reaction would be. "...Until I saw the Exarch in the Valley. Something was special to him. Maybe it was his cloak, lance or his bulky armour. I always considered the armour to be bulkier for the people which would try to hide their true selves, their true good-will. It was not just protection from their attacks, it was a protection for their souls. I never lost my hope, even though it kept shrinking, but I felt as if I could do things right. It was as if this was my call, to do it right and save the world in the true meaning of it. Even though I could have never found out anything about my parents or these gauntlets... I would have been happy to do what I should have from the beginning. That's why I care now, Owend. About this party. Because I might never live to tell the tale." It seemed the rant was over, once Tolok looked up at her, again. "That's why I am here, Owend. If I can help end these wars and, possibly, the whole evil that lurks in this world, I would be more than glad to give it all. My father aspired to help the royalty when he was assigned to make the required gear. He made the finest of the weapons, hoping they would be used to protect or burn the menacing roots of the darkness. That's why he also made mine. He probably knew I'd follow the steps of war, so he made sure I'd come out alive and well." And then, silence. No other word would come out and he ate his order in complete silence, only nodding or moving his head left and right in disagreement. It was as if he exhausted his word count after this. It wasn't a bad thing specifically, but it could have been, probably, worse.
  12. The talk about the Walled City took over for the few hours that were passing by. Right after Rolliam had asked what's wrong, he kept his attention to them for a while, only to check on his quiver, pulling it from his back. He took an arrow, gently and spinned it between his fingers a few times, before resting it in his palm. "We had no right prevailing in that assault, you know. The Knight thought it was ill-advised, that Isore would fall to nothing less than a proper siege backed by monstrous siege engines... which would inevitably lead to being flanked by Glian or Dodonian forces, pressing us between them and the Isorian defenders. But what happened instead, well, it was inexplicable. Somehow, Isore was not prepared for us." The archer looked up at his brother, then back at the arrow, fiddling with its tip, as if an wooden, harmless toy was the killing product of a state-of-the-art fletcher. Rolliam never feared his arrows, for some reason. "Since my brother was aiding to spot the incoming relief forces, I was assigned to send the word straight to the one we were under the command. Both of us are good at spotting even the slightest changes of details, but I would have a better advantage to not be caught, while running back to the command. Even though we chose the best available vantage point, we would still be under uncertain conditions, given our positioning. But... as Roland said... nobody came. It was an unfair, cruel, violent assault, where the defenders couldn't stand even the slightest chance. It was a massacre. But this is war for you." He took a pause, after the long monologue. He showed no expression, outside the words he had spoken, as if he wouldn't care about the result. Truth is, he did. But for one who'd have to see the body of an enemy downed, with an arrow to the head, resting in a crimson pool... He'd have to get used to it. There was never a moment to mourn while putting his archery to work. Not even when he'd have to pull the projectile out of his victim. "You can have the best spies, but." "But... Let me rephrase." He straightened his voice in a fashionable manner, "What if the Glian spies saw them? We know there is a spy network and they are able to catch, at least, glimpses of everything. You know where I'm getting?" "It sounds plausible to me, but it's probably unlikely, since the circumstances of war change all the time. But all I can say is that for one to win the war, he must lose a battle, if he has to. Sacrifice can be hefty, like the Walled City there, but a leader is more important than a thousand soldiers with no orders." He sighed. "I dislike making these comparisons, but that's the truth. This is coming from my perspective as a man. We may be enemies, Isore and Byrn, but I don't think anyone would take the Exarch as a coward, would it? He will, surely, come back to reclaim his land. I feel bad for the regular guards, too, brother." He put the arrow back in the quiver and laid his back on the grass, exhaling loudly in the process. "Black Knight's squad is a good bunch. That's all I am going to say about them. It's up to you to decide, but they are nice people, Lily."
  13. "Phew, he will eat some hot food for once and It's not mine. Or is it?" He closed the door behind him with a smug smile and made his way to them. Rolliam was whistling behind them, as he added more and more groceries to make some great food. While he'd be considered the "woman" of the house, considering he finds joy in cleaning, making food, general household chores, he mostly took all this as part of his archery. As one would consider shooting an arrow as easy as, say, cooking, both of these have their little things to manage. Preparing the bow and finding a place to hide, climb a tree was just as beautiful as preparing all the utensils one would need for making a good, long lasting food. Aiming downards, as a ranger would acquire sight, was just as choosing the right way to cut the meat, in order to achieve the best crisp while cooking. All the little things that one would prepare to make the final action, holding the breath, calculating the trajectory would be compared to the required amount of precision you'd need to cut the fruits, if one wants all the cuts to be perfect by centimeter. He found joy in all these. He found joy in all that is difficult. He wouldn't like admitting, due to his brother fighting close ranged, but his thoughts around melee weapons are always... barbaric. He mostly can see it as flinging the lance left, right, above, down, but never doing the swooping, dance-like moves that he would dream of. He would see the battles as a certain form of art, where the brutality combines with the skill. He believed bows were fitting to art. The amount of time required to do a clean shot, as so no one would see the bowman. He appreciated art. Cooking was art, house chores were art for him. Bows were art. And that was why he was stuck into his little, own world, where he'd consider every single fine detail about the grocery he'd pick. And that was filling his own time. He appreciated filling it with something he'd do. He never seemed to lose energy, even if he'd work for hours in a row, with no pause. He finally came back to them, greeted by Lily's shaky, shy words, her wish to wield a sword. Defence, self defence or straight up slaughter... She never looked like it, in any way. He kept it hidden, but he was concerned that her innocence was finally giving in, only for the violent nature of battles, the sudden realization of killing a man, the guilt. He went through this, but he managed. He could never forget the face of the first man he had killed, so he'd doubt if Lily will never lay, even if a single tear at only the thought of that. Such is life, though, he thought. If that's what it comes to, he can't say anything against it. After all, they might get in trouble soon. He nodded to Roland, after he made his way on the other side of Lily. It is what it is, anyways. --- A snort could be heard from the door, as in mockery to the size of the sword. He looked at Roland, then at Lily, as he waited for the blacksmith to come back with another sword. A rapier, while at it. It looked far more different than other swords and could see some... moves with that. "I agree. You know what I think of swords, Roland, but I like this rapier. While it might take a while to take down those..." He snorted again at the thought of it, "turtles of knights, you'll do just fine. Besides, I like its look. It's simple and well-made."
  14. Once they had settled down in the restaurant, Pearl of the Keys, with the breeze of the wind calmly wiping away fears, dark thoughts and what not, Tolok listened to her talking while looking at the menu, with a rub to the head, whenever he'd see a word he'd consider a tongue twister, just by trying to speak into his mind. The prices were enormous, feeling a bit out of shame for not accepting the gold the Exarch had offered him. But, most likely, that wouldn't have been enough for a full course meal, though, so her response calmed him down, breathing out some air, in a sigh of relief. "Thanks." He said, as she poured him another bit, sipping not before he took off his father's gauntlets, the legacy he'd sworn to keep safe. He put them on his lap, as to feel just fine, knowing there'd be no way to lose them. “I hadn’t told you before, Tolok, but I’m glad we got to meet.” A small, yet smile slowly made its way on his face, as he was looking at the menu with a somehow inhuman focus, trying to hide the embarassment of him not handling emotions, feelings and the jumble of things happening in the background, considering the adventure the whole party is in at the moment. But deep inside, he was happy he heard that. He kept listening to her, sipping some wine and checking if his gauntlets are still there, but his eyes rose to her, once it had been mentioned she'd doubt her circle of friends, or rather the lack of. "What about camaraderie, Owend? That is a friendship, as well. I think it is not as superficial as some other would think." His eyes showed a tint of sadness, as those words had been spoken. And one could have admit, his eyes' dark green colour amplified that feeling, any human would recognise that he wouldn't lie. "But I understand what you mean. I didn't live with knights, commanders, a chain of command, all in all. I was a free soul, who'd take up jobs for coins and to help others. Even if you could explain to me, I'd probably still be cryptic and only understand when compared to my life." He poured her another glass and laid back on the chair, rubbing his nose in a calm, thoughtful silence and not awkwardness, as one would expect. He snapped out of it, once she made the joke. He smiled again, but probably had a feeling she was deeply affected by this. Now, that he recalls it; back when they were in Glia, the subordinates greeted Owend as a soldier, rather than a friend. They had known eachother for, at least, several years, where one would expect they'd become great friends, the link, string of that would be tied from one to another would be as tough as steel, unbreakable and only becoming stronger with time. But, he might just consider it as a façade. Nothing more, nothing less. "You're welcome, Owend. The feelings are mutual. I've gone through different parties, but none of the people I've met managed to be out of ordinary, like all of you. This party both of us are part of! It is true, we may not be as strong as the Princess and the Exarch, but we can only aspire to be better and help, in any way we can. Not only to avenge the nations or people, just like how they want, but to also find what we're looking for, whatever it may be." He smiled brightly, as if a ray of light came up from him, like a pocket-sized sun. Was he as much of a brute as others would think? Sure, he may fight, fight and fight. He may not be the best talker or to be skilled in any other things, other than battles, strategies or exploration. But he was just hiding behind a shell. And it started breaking, slowly, as if someone used a spell to wither it away. None of that mattered, battles, fights, blood. He had to cherish this moment. He felt special and he wouldn't know why, but the setting was unbelievable to his eyes. "But, why are you saying you've got no friends? What about your childhood?" He only said two simple questions, and waited while looking through the menu.
  15. Lightly tapping a wall that was not connected to the bathroom, Rolliam had his own thoughts, related to the two coming back safe and sound. He was lost in the details of time, place and what was next. Maybe taking care too much, preparing anything was too much? Such thought would storm in like a lightning and disappear just like that, knowing it weren't true. Certainly, even though his brother took care of her, she looked like a person who'd take the time to trust someone, no matter the circumstances. But this was a normal thing to do, that some people would forget about. He stopped tapping, only to see the wall, dirty again of the brown filth that was adding up. Dust; anything he'd clean up, dust would come back, like a parasite, destroying beauty, turning objects into antiques and ruining people's work. He had only cleaned it a few days ago, comparatively to other places he had been, this was not so normal. Just like life, it always finds a way to change the perspective of the people whose hearts, souls and minds were not singed by the impurity of the real world. Looking back at it, Lily seemed like that. She was slowly learning to see everything ugly about the world. Slowly, learning everything which she had never hoped to see. Unfortunately, life finds a way, at its worst times. --- After Lily was done, Rolliam and her came back in the main room, with Roland waiting as a hunter, his eyes showing a slight tint of annoyance. Rolliam noticed it and waited for Roland to say his thoughts, as if a barrage of arrows came out, not actual words. After it was done, Rolliam looked down, into his pockets, only to reveal two gold coins and a gentle placement of those on the table. "It was that bad you even lost the coins? This is what I have for backup. You might get everything you need with that: food, clothes, fixing gear, whatever." He sat down on the chair, gulping as if he had to swallow another hard truth, the bedroom. "The bedroom, you say? Hm. I haven't looked there, inside the wardrobe because I thought it would be empty." He sighed, then came back to his sentence, "But well, whatever it is, I guess. Most part of the safehouse is clean, except that wardrobe and... maybe... the chimney..." He instantly regretted mentioning it, but there was no going back now, those words slipped as if another entity drew them out of his mind, wanting to hear them itself. As brutal and horrendous he had imagined, it would be just a perverted excuse. "We will make sure the safehouse will look good after our departure, make sure she is dressed well and... What else. Making sure everything is done correctly, so our body and mind can relax and fare safely to Knight." And with that, he he sat on a chair, comforting himself, even for five seconds, those considered golden for all the work he'd been doing these past days, until they were off to work on the aforementioned.
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