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The Fire Heart

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  1. Like
    The Fire Heart got a reaction from saga juliet in LotE: Echoes of Byrn   
    "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."
  2. Superlike!
    The Fire Heart reacted to saga juliet in LOTE: Wartime Festivals?   
    The shroud of dusk was drawn over the sky by the tail of the sun, and the two women talking there hardly noticed at all. The change was gradual. There was still light enough to see; evening still glimmered a brightly beaded gem on the sea.
    But the tides did turn. Water crept up the shore, nearly lapping at their feet.
    “Well, perhaps we should return,” Olivia said. “I think we’ll have plenty of time to mull over the matter later, when it’s...cheerier out here.”
    Orsola agreed. The features of the formation had been erased by the decline of the sun, and now towered a dark bulk out to sea like an old wreckage. A cool wind had picked up, too.
    Two lonesome figures made their way over the sands. Where the legate had driven off, was left another chariot with driver waiting at alert. He snapped a smart salute once Olivia and Orsola approached. The legate had been thoughtful enough not to abandon the Princess to a long evening of walking.
    The chariot started down the street.
    Olivia did something with her hands. Suddenly, all noise vanished from around them. Orsola startled, then looked between Olivia and the driver. Olivia brushed her ears meaningfully, then motioned for the girl to continue.
    “We can keep talking, if you like.”
    Orsola relaxed. “I was thinking of my mother.”
    Ah, the mysterious woman. Olivia laughed as it suddenly came to her – of course the girl had a mother! Madon hadn’t mentioned anything about it to her. Perhaps the man was embarrassed. More likely, it was a woman he’d yet to meet. Now that the potentiality of it went into her mind, it lodged there. It would be rude to pester Madon about it. But if Orsola was willing to share… Olivia leaned forward. “Oh, do tell. I do love gossip.”
    The girl shook her head. A wistful chuckle. “I wish I could indulge in something like that. But – no. The truth is...though it’s a great joy for me to finally meet my father, who’d perished before I was even born, the matter of my mother is not so cut and dry. I never knew her, you see. By the time I was old enough to remember things clearly, she had long been gone.”
    “I’m sorry to hear it.”
    The girl shrugged, as if to say that it posed no great inconvenience to her. Madon would do something just like that. Pretensions of stoicism until the bitter end, poisoned by mortal sentiment. The girl was one after her own heart, Olivia thought. It filled her with not sadness but approval. Orsola watched the pillar retreating behind them. “Well, I can’t say I haven’t been curious. Perhaps that’s why I’ve taken to accompany Madon’s force instead of striking out on my own. To see what woman he might grow close to…”
    Olivia tilted her head. “Not to get to know your own father? Retake that which was robbed of you?” She was gentle the way she said it. “It’s alright to admit to weakness. I might understand how you feel. My own parents were slain when I was but a child, just fifteen years ago. There’s no shame in feeling that loss. Nor missing them.”
    “Well…” Orsola hesitated. “My mother...you might think she fell in battle, and that’s what I’d be told initially. But Lady Owend eventually told me the truth, before I came back. She simply left after I was born – vanished into thin air.”
    A word hovered there, abandoned, that the girl dared not say out of fear that by saying it it might become true in her mind.
    Bleeding a hand full of cards. The girl was vulnerable at her heart. Olivia took a deep breath. “I see. I suppose you wish to know why? What shall you do when you do find her?”
  3. Superlike!
    The Fire Heart got a reaction from saga juliet in LOTE: Wartime Festivals?   
    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.
  4. Superlike!
    The Fire Heart got a reaction from EpicRome23 in LotE: Echoes of Byrn   
    "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."
  5. Superlike!
    The Fire Heart reacted to EpicRome23 in LotE: Echoes of Byrn   
    “Come now, Roland, maybe we could buy some hot food for once. Aren’t you tired of eating cold dried meat?”
    "Pffft. Speak for yourself! ... That being said, it is starting to get rather bland, honestly. Could go for something different."
    He chuckled to himself as he, Lily, and Rolliam made their way out of the safehouse.
    It could be said that two things were the primary fuel for Roland's motivation to do, well, anything really. The first was the praise and approval of the Ebon Knight- an idea told not through his actions necessarily, but his words, the ideals interspersed within them. The second was much more tacit through actions, in the here and now especially. The Byrnian scout happily consumed hot food piece by piece, what could have made a veritable platter of delicacies as the trio blazed through the marketplace... or rather, Lily and Roland blazed through whilst Rolliam followed at a calm and leisurely place behind. But eventually, Lily came to a stop in front of the blacksmith. Something within seemed to transfix her for a moment. Then, she turned away and made her way to a bench, seeming on the verge of dizziness. Roland was quick to approach, with Rolliam not far behind.
    "I want a sword."
    There was shakiness in her voice. Roland turned toward Rolliam, exchanging a glance with his brother. Then, he turned back towards Lily, most of the concern previously in his expression replaced with curiosity.
    "A sword, hmm? Doubtless that we can afford it, and I can appreciate the practicality of the idea... but why did the idea just so happen to strike you now?"
    He paused for a moment, then waved the question away.
    "Ah, never mind that, I'm just being too nosy for my own good. Come on then, and I'll see if we can't find you something suitable. ... Also, I need to replace my dagger anyway. Not your fault the dastard didn't return it, but still."
    With that, he would gesture for Lily and Rolliam to follow as he strode forward into the blacksmith.
    ---
    "... are you serious? Even I would struggle to wield that blade, and that would be while I was atop my wyvern, too. Show me the next one."
    The blacksmith grumbled, moving away before returning with a well-made rapier. It wasn't the most ornate of that kind of weapon- a noble concerned with aesthetics would scoff at the notion of wielding such a blade. But even so, it showed the care put into its craft. Roland took hold of it, experimentally thrusting it into the air a few times. Then, he gave a pleased nod, and held the weapon out toward Lily, hilt facing her.
    "Perhaps I am playing to cliches here. But, nonetheless, I do think this well be a blade well suited to you. It will not weigh you overmuch whatsoever, but also will not sacrifice power when wielded will. I've never used a rapier myself, but I've heard tell that skilled wielders have been capable of taking down heavily armored Isorian Knights and the well-bred horse riders of Dodon with them... in one mere blow."
     
  6. Superlike!
    The Fire Heart reacted to saga juliet in LOTE: Wartime Festivals?   
    Evening. Sun fiery-red; ambient light, washed-out blues dark as slate. The air was pillowy with salt and humidity. Gulls lazed on the docks, ignoring the breezes that mixed with one another just offshore, where land met sea – it was that time of day when the winds began to reverse, and there was no direction in the whole world but a pleasant sort of confusion in which all change was suspended for the sake of living in the present moment. The tide held its breath. The waves purred over the rocks. Yes; evening.
    From the balcony of the restaurant, the two could see the beach arc beneath them to either side of the delta. In the distance, more traditional communities gathered together to erect driftwood altars and bonfires to celebrate the Sekhalia – that’s what Owend remembered it was called, suddenly. Well, none of that tribal business here, Owend told Tolok. In the heart of the city, where modernity reigned, families and couples browsed the streets, picked out swimsuits for one another, and cheery voices spilled out from every bar and tavern imaginable. Not quite debauchery, not yet. The excess was still on the very limit of respectable.
    The Pearl of the Keys was no different. Every inch of space was filled by at least one celebrator; improvised chairs and ramshackle tables were set up anywhere the staff could find space. Only by pulling rank – a Lieutenant in the Grey Knights – did the two of them find a table at all. And even that had been a vast miracle, the waitress told them.
    Well, festivals were for miracles, after all.
    The buzz of chatter and talk swelled like a wave out of the restaurant proper, but on the balcony things were more muted. Tolok and Owend had come in with the beginnings of a hangover – sweetwine left the system peacefully, but with the amount they had drunk, by God – and swiftly remedied themselves with yet more glasses of wine. They had not been noticed overmuch by anyone. Everyone in the bustling downtown was hungover to some degree. Now there were menus before them, filled with words that Tolok had probably never read in his life, arranged side-by-side with prices that Tolok might well have never seen in his life.
    “Oh, the Princess’ll be paying for all of it anyway,” Owend said wryly. She poured him another glass from the bottle that had been set on their table.
    This was alright. At the moment, all of her own worries were very small and distant and, perhaps most alluringly, someone else’s problem entirely. The magic of festivals. All she needed to think about was what was going to be tastiest in the next hour, and perhaps in the next hour, what sort of swimsuit she’d like to wear – these absolutely worthless worries that made up the meat of life. Nothing really was worth thinking about, was it?
    And here was Tolok with her. She couldn’t rightly explain it, but Owend began to realize that she rather appreciated his company. She said so much aloud, brazenly and without a hint of embarrassment.
    “I hadn’t told you before, Tolok, but I’m glad we got to meet.” She sipped the wine, flipped through the menu non-committally. “Honestly. I’m not joking. When I think about it, I don’t know if I’ve got any other friends. Do you know what I mean? I’ve got commanders and subordinates, and I don’t really understand any of them. My knights are all business with me, even when they’re being friendly.”
    “I mean, they’re ready to die at my command, the same way I’ll die for Glia if necessary, but you know – that’s a seriously fucked sort of thing to build a friendship on, right?” She laughed. It sounded like a joke, but she knew that was how it was. “Severa’s nice enough but – it’s always that but. And the Princess and the Exarch, too. They’re worried about things like avenging their nation or their people, that sort of thing that goes right over my head. It’s more like they’re demigods than they are human. They definitely aren’t playing the same game as the rest of us. So really, it’s only you I can be ordinary with. So, thanks.” She smiled at him. “Honestly.”
  7. Superlike!
    The Fire Heart reacted to saga juliet in LotE: Echoes of Byrn   
    The bath had been some taste of civility, but when Lily went for her clothes she was reminded that yesterday didn’t fade so readily as a bad dream, even when it felt like one. Rags lay on the floor. Roland did not find anything after all; this house was all appearances in the end, a soldier’s pretend domesticity. She had hoped for too much.
    Lily held up the mud-streaked blouse, wrinkled her nose. If only she could go without – but people and clothing had become inseparable at some distant point in the past. They were held as close as humanity, and counted for more since one wore them nearly every waking moment. What happens to a man when all he’s got are filthy rags? What happens to his humanity?
    “This is a mess that we’ll have to clean up,” Roland snarled hastily after she came out into the kitchen wearing the old linens. She sat cross-legged on the sofa and looked between the two brothers. Roland paced back and forth. “If nothing else, I’m certain the Knight will commend us for putting in the effort. And, well…” He cleared his throat. “God, whoever was in charge of this safehouse before Rolliam did a piss poor job.”
    Maybe he was embarrassed at having failed her and trying to make excuses. The thought made her giggle. That would make Roland uniquely charming.
    More likely, he was starry-eyed with duty, so much so that being out of clothes put him into a real disciplinarian mood.
    The younger brother went rummaging, came up with two gold coins. Not the stuff of war chests, but plenty for three people. Lily brightened up.
    “Shall we go right away then?” She jumped to her feet and grabbed one of the coins, turning it over in her hands. “Feels like it’s been forever since I’ve seen a gold coin. God, it’s so pretty!”
    After her bath, she did forget many of her miseries. That hot water did its damndest to erase the mark of the past weeks on her. Lily was still uneasy with everything but maybe she could put all that away for now.
    Where she’d grown up, she counted as an urchin, as well-fed as she’d been; but she didn’t have much in the way of material possessions. She often said that she prided herself on austerity, the way that young undeveloped hearts take moral fancies and live by bouts of fashion. Now? She imagined all the things she could buy. The town was small and its market undoubtedly sparse, but what did she need, anyway?
    Lily was sure that whatever it had, she could find a use for.
    “Come now, Roland, maybe we could buy some hot food for once. Aren’t you tired of eating cold dried meat?”
    It was still early afternoon when they arrived at market, and though their time was better served sleeping – both scout and girl had been up since before the break of dawn to finish the last leg of their journey – Lily found herself possessed by a manic energy that emanated from the two gold pieces she’d convinced Rolliam to let her carry in a bag around her neck. Roland, meanwhile, was animated by resignation, a furious determination to finish the mounting pile of duties he found heaped upon him everywhere he went. Roland wasn’t the sort of fellow who ever expected to rest. Usually, as with now, it helped him cope with the troubling reality that he was surrounded by people with whims bigger than their competence.
    Rolliam tagged along behind the two of them as they burned a trail through the various stores. Picking his way across the food stalls that the others ignored, he’d occasionally hold apples or tomatoes up to the light of truth and, nodding with quiet approval, add them to a growing collection of groceries in a burlap sack slung beneath one arm.
    She was looking around for the clothier when the sign for the blacksmith caught her eye. Peering through the window was a dazzling array of swords and daggers, ranging from the intricate to the crudely fatal, elegant in their own right.
    In the reflection of the glass she thought she saw the flicker of a dagger just like Roland’s, and felt her blood spike hot. She whirled around, tried to find a bench, and sat. Dizziness threatened to overtake her.
    After a little while, when her vision cleared up, she saw the brothers making their way over to her with the usual concern. When they came she announced to them her decision:
    “I want a sword.”
    Her voice was shaky.
  8. Like
    The Fire Heart got a reaction from EpicRome23 in LotE: Echoes of Byrn   
    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.
  9. Superlike!
    The Fire Heart reacted to EpicRome23 in LotE: Echoes of Byrn   
    "Dymbuss made it? Ah, I knew the dumb brute would make me proud. I do hope we can get a deer flank for him, Rolliam, I did promise him one when I sent him off."
    ...
    Just a bit later, Roland begrudgingly accepted the task offered to him by Lily. It was not a matter of mood, though he was indeed tired. No, it was a matter of her having interrupted him in the midst of eating- he didn't like distractions as he sat back and leisurely consumed the food before him. Distractions to that were uniformly met with annoyance, no matter the source thereof. Nonetheless, he finished off his food, then languidly stood up and stretched. Looking around for a moment, he walked down a short hallway and entered into the bedroom of the safehouse.
    In the room, he approached the wardrobe against the back wall- it wasn't a particularly esoteric layout, and if the disguising clothes were anywhere in this safehouse, they would certainly be here. He opened the wardrobe, and... several moths flew out. Roland reflexively smashed one against the wall with the back of his hand, but the rest flew out the nearby open window- which the Byrnian scout promptly closed. Turning back to the wardrobe, and seeing what was within, he raised a quizzical eyebrow. Not the variety of disguises he expected, but a single tunic- full of holes eaten through by moths. He stared at it for some long moments, then let out a deep, defeated sigh before closing the wardrobe and returning to the main room.
    After Lily would be finished with her bath, and her and Rolliam were back in the main room, Roland would address the both of them.
    "Whoever was in charge of this safehouse before Rolliam... did a piss-poor job. The clothes for disguises? Down to one tunic that's been eaten to shit by moths. This is a mess that we're going to have to clean up, we'll leave this place actually usable for the next poor bastards who end up here. If nothing else, I'm certain the Knight will commend us putting in the extra effort. And, well... there's the fact that Lily wants a change of clothes and we don't have any."
    He fell silent after that. He didn't know what else to say. But, hopefully, he had gotten his point across. They wouldn't be here overlong, but it was best to make the best of things while they were here. The last leg to the stomping grounds of the Ebon Knight would most likely safe and easy, barring the presence of belligerent highwaymen and bandits- but even then, Roland and Rolliam together would be more than sufficient to take care of him.
  10. Superlike!
    The Fire Heart got a reaction from saga juliet in LotE: Echoes of Byrn   
    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.
  11. Like
    The Fire Heart reacted to saga juliet in LotE: Echoes of Byrn   
    “Hot,” she after a little while. Dimly she wondered what sort of madman took cold baths; then she remembered her company. Soldiers must be accustomed to cold water, if water at all could be spared for bathing rather than drinking. That was in her books, too, depictions of the hard life, frugal accounts of the trivialities. Hardtack and weed soup. Soil too muddy to dig trenches easily, and mud too wet to spread bedrolls over. Joy at finding a cold river to wash away the blood and caked bile beneath their armor. Occasionally, some footnote of blood which decided the course of history. Then ration complaints again.

    Rolliam meandered off to draw water for the bath, firing the furnace on his way. Woodsmoke filtered up the chimney but a stray few wisps filled the room with warm coal. Lily watched him go. That one was different than what she’d expected. He seemed more boyish, but yet more domestic. Attentive to detail the same way a housekeeper might have been. He’d had practice these past few weeks. If Roland told true sob stories, maybe Rolliam had had practice for a far longer time than that. Was he much older than she was?

    Growing up before their time, she mused. So Roland had said; but that was what she was doing now, wasn’t she? She never stopped feeling like a child, and she hadn’t been anything more than that in the Valley, where they had warm baths and hot food on the nightly, where snow did not fall and people got no closer to danger than what tall tales the mercenaries told on their drunken nights off. The process had been sudden and she felt unchanged, still. Even when she looked back there was no lens at all – every memory the way she remembered them being, the same people and same emotions and same places and same formative events, towering like tombstones of her history. Except, of course, that she felt she did not recognize those memories as her own. But everything else was the same.

    The person they belonged to had simply ceased to exist. When she thought of Xander she thought of all the energy that built up in her at that moment and she felt her breathing quicken. Her hands gripped the seat hard enough for her to feel the tell-tale prick of splinters. Pressure built in her head, threatened to explode. The worst bit was that she did not feel so badly about it all, so much later. Of course, she was not complicit in any of it; she did not consent to the decision to kill him, because there had been no decision made to begin with. There had been no choice. There had only been one way out for all the world. And it had been easier than she had thought it might be. After her hand had let go of the dagger she just walked away, ran through blinding light and turned her back on the man. Lily didn’t even need to watch him die. Had he? If he hadn’t…but surely he had. It made no difference to her; she was the one who tried to kill him. That damage was not so easily undone.

    But Roland’s dagger had been fine and sharp, and surely the sharper the less it must have hurt on the way in. Surely! It was better than burning, wasn’t it?

    Then she started wondering who was next, because even if she knew that she would say, never again, she would have to do it again, and like the flap of a butterfly’s wings, one gust promises another, and another. Was it to be her? Now she was marked, too, just as free to be killed. Nobody was special, she realized, even though she felt as if some innocent armor had been stripped from her. Once upon a time she was invincible.

    Lily shivered in her filthy linens. She still had them, the faraway tavern’s spares, because they’d left everything behind in their mad scramble. Not everything, of course, and perhaps even nothing important – her fingers brushed against the hard lump of stone that was the Shard – but all of the trivialities. Lily had lost her clothes, her journal, her books. The spare few things she did bring with her from the Valley, thinking that that was all that was needed to make her home. In their absence there was a stirring in the heart, though maybe not a stirring so big as ‘home’. She had worn that dress for a long time. It was good fabric, from faraway lands, irreplaceable on this side of the desert. The price did not bother her. But she had bought it for herself. Now? At least it was still intact, and maybe it’d make someone else happy to have. But damn if she didn’t want it.

    No doubt Roland had lost a fair few things, too. But him, she didn’t know if he cared about anything he could have.

    Roland caught her staring. “What?”

    Nothing – except, her mind seized on an idea and refused to budge. She fidgeted with her fingers. “Do you have clothes?”

    He lifted his sleeve and an eyebrow. Lily sighed. “Not like that. This is a safehouse for you scouts, isn’t it? Surely you must deal in…disguises and somesuch.”

    “You want to change.”

    “Perhaps a man so tough and rugged as yourself enjoys wallowing, but I want out of this.”

    Her petulance dragged on Roland’s attempt to eat his food, but he tried his best to chew and swallow in spite of the girl. “Yeah, maybe we’ve got something like that. I can take a gander.”

    After a while, Lily said, “Thanks.”

    Rolliam rapped on the wall, casting the girl a look. “Sorry it took so long.” He chuckled. “Getting things ready’s always a lot of work, but now that that’s done with…I’m Roland’s brother. Nice to meet you.”

    He approached and offered a hand. Lily stared at it a while. The hand of another scout. Rolliam’s resemblance to his brother pervaded into their shared career; if appearances were only skin deep, then how shallow was a choice of job? How deep would it go? Was he as cavalier as his brother, so hardened, so used to treating war as a frivolity? Was he so loyal to the Knight? A featureless form of man that viewed himself as serving a purpose to some greater power, blind, or at least uncaring, about what it meant to be living an ordinary manner?

    What did they believe in?

    She took his hand. He led her to the bath room, seemed to be primed to any further need. Earnest, almost. Lily felt ashamed, all of a sudden. The girl snatched her hand away, ducked into the room and closed the door.

    “Thank you,” she mumbled.

    Lily waited until the man walked away from the door, then began to disrobe. Once she got into the bath, she closed her eyes, took a breath, and plunged into the water. Willing herself to simply dissolve into the hailstorm bubbles that accompanied her descent.

  12. Like
    The Fire Heart got a reaction from saga juliet in LOTE: Wartime Festivals?   
    Tolok listened to Owend's speech, taking some time for himself to think, as well as digesting her words. He never had the luxury to read a book about mystery, even though he had the feel for solving things. He listened, more and more, as he was absorbed even more by her words. She was the one to bring him hope, now that he is at a low point, right? He would have thought that this is a payback for helping her in Glia, where Owend had to prove she had changed into better, her cowardice turned into willpower and following the greater good. They made it, however hurt they ended up, but it showed what kind of persons they really were. Not just this, but the nobility... The one he despised, when no one was there to help him solve this underlying problem. When his screams echoed through the silvery halls of the noble persons, with the light of their stained glass, a gift to God for his willingness and acceptance, protection and prosperity, nothing came back to him, but the grievous silence, which cut its way into his heart, poisoning it with hate. But now, he felt as if someone lifted a stone off his heart, revealing a lighter side. Nobility wasn't that bad, was it? She is a heir to the throne, after all. 
    He gave her a heart warming smile, still thinking about what's left to do. If they can change the future, there's got to be a chance for him to stay alive, finish his quest and find the mystery behind his parents... Right? At that, he took a deep breath and closed his eyes, in his mind, speaking only to himself, as if he wanted to hear his words echo through his conscious, "We'll get through this. Wherever you are. I'll be fine."  He quickly woke up from his seconds-long meditation after she punched his shoulder. She might look weak, but she got one hell of a force in that knuckle, he chuckled. "Wine? I'm a fan of beer, but something sweet's all good! Wait. Isn't that stealing... Nah, screw this." Owend chuckled at that and they went inside, probably emptying a barrel worth of wine in three gulps.
    ----
    The sun had finally set down and the party reached the inn, with Owend and Tolok's cheeks slightly red from the chugging they had. At first, it seemed like a normal, simple drinking sessions, but it turned out into a competition, such as back when Tolok downed a couple dozen of beers to get noticed by the Exarch. God, noticed by how much one drinks? If only his previous party knew...
    "Well... Swimming?" He let out a long whistle, seemingly amused by this turn of events. "Well, I suppose... If it's a festival, there might be a feast, yes? After a long, swimming sessions with the chilly water relaxing every pore of your skin, the stomach will want to devour something, yes-" Owend nudged him with the shoulder, shaking her head slowly. Tolok stopped, but it looked to be the right time, because it was at the time Wymp mocked Madon for wearing that piece of armour, like a masculine Iron Maiden. He snorted and Owend brought them inside where the rooms were set, chuckling a bit. "And you think with your stomache, Tolok."
  13. Like
    The Fire Heart reacted to saga juliet in LOTE: Wartime Festivals?   
    There it was again, Madon would notice – the way she had it cold, all of a sudden, as he explained his circumstances. Her face was almost unrecognizable – eyes, nose, mouth like a sculpture, while the mind was elsewhere hurtling through possible futures. But he waited. Eventually she would speak.
    And she would – though Madon would hear very little of what truly went through her mind. The Wizards had long made their position clear by the lengths they had gone to in order to avoid communication with Glia. They reclined on thrones of unused, frightening magicks, content to have, and not wield. Save for when the Tower made demands – then they simply expelled the diplomats and had their actions speak on their behalf. So it had gone, for decades, according to the records taken by the previous Princesses. The Wizards were of incalculable age and in possession of incalculable power. Glia had long been accused of wielding undue influence and meddling in the affairs of Erasmia, a reputation not unearned by the nation’s actions in the centuries prior, but the Wizards had that very same ability should they ever demonstrate an inclination toward it. And that ability, that control, sourced not from intelligence and gentle prodding of fellow governments, but of demands substantiated only by sheer tyrannical power.
    The question was beyond whether or not Olivia trusted them personally. They had spurned olive branches offered by Glia and, in concert with the mass bulk of power they possessed, that made them an unfriendly unknown. In other words, an enemy.
    There were a few things that one could do with an enemy, and co-exist peacefully unto eternity was none of those few. A promise of alliance extracted, or extermination.
    But neither could be attained without envoys. Inaction had taken them far enough. Olivia turned to Madon, seemingly pleased.
    “I suppose I should have realized that the Wizards had given you assistance. If I had known that you were on speaking terms with them…those crones have long shunned Glian envoys.” She shook her head. “Well, that will be in the past now. The next time you speak to them, please, bring me along. I have much I would like to ask them. The Wizards are a secretive lot, Madon, and whether or not they look towards that potential future of Orsola’s and your friend Lily’s, I couldn’t say. But I’ll be damned before I let our countries and citizens serve as sacrificial pawns in a needless preamble. If they so wish to save the world then they must help us break Byrn and Zenith. Only once the disastrous present has concluded, should we speak of possible futures. Do you understand me, Madon?”
    In some ways, a mere question of affirmation, and in others, a demand of loyalty. If it came to the wire, would he sacrifice the lives of the present for promises of a nebulous future, peddled by untrusted prophets?
    Olivia hoped with all her heart that Madon would not be taken in.
    Owend and Tolok spoke of lighter things, but not by much. Tolok dwelt only shortly on the Princess, who turned out not to be the subject of his thoughts after all, only a catalyst. Once again, talk drifted to his parents. It was only natural; they had finally stumbled upon some clues, and now he was a man consumed.
    “Seven…eight years,” he said. “And just one clue.” He clenched his gauntlet, formed another ball of fire and tossed it again. “I thought it would be brighter to have these gloves, but…”
    “I read a lot of books when I’m high in the air,” Owend said. She seemed thoughtful. “My favorites are the ones about mysteries long unsolved. They always seem impossible – the women who write those are just brilliant, I can’t fathom it – but by the end, it’s all clear. And it always begins with just one mistake left at the scene of the crime. Just a single clue.” She rapped his gauntlet with her hand. “Of course, that’s all stories, but I think that you shouldn’t grow impatient now. We’ve just begun. Your parents have been waiting for eight years and now we’re headed to Dodon – back to your home, but with the clue that your father meant for you to find. Wouldn’t it be silly, don’t you think, for nothing to happen afterwards?”
    She lifted her face to the sun. The breeze blew over them, gentle, and the sun continued its amble. Tolok would be correct – they’d land just before dusk. But that reckoning was a while yet. It was still noonday, and the day was too early to brood.
     “I believe that all things have reasons, Tolok. Forget all of that Fate bunk that Princess Severa believes in, that’s all to heavy for a free flier like me. But I do think that it’ll all turn out alright. That’s what you convinced her of, you know, and what you taught me! That everything I do now is for a reason, and that reason isn’t cowardice in the end. It’s about overcoming. I’m scared, too, of the future, but all the same I think that when the day comes I’ll be ready to face it.”
    “I think you’ll find them eventually, and you’ll be able to put flowers on their graves. If the future has all possible worlds then we just have to choose by our thoughts, our actions, and our faith.” She punched him in the shoulder. “Shall we go get some drinks? I thought I saw the Princess finagling with some sweet-wine, and the sun’s made me plenty thirsty.”
  14. Like
    The Fire Heart got a reaction from EpicRome23 in LotE: Echoes of Byrn   
    Rolliam took a more relaxed position as roland responded to him with the grin. The mocking response came with a welcome breeze of wind, knowingly the man did things right in his way. Behind Roland's grin, there was another part of him that was tired beyond limit. Did they actually get into as much trouble as he thought, things which blurred his vision with worry? He'll find out soon, once the Ebon Knight meets the trio, thus the mission being unfolded to its last bit, checked, rechecked and plans remade, until the group agrees to everything being discussed. He rolled his eyes while thinking about it, the wait would have to get even longer. And knowing how Roland gets into trouble, he'd need a bit of rest, at least.

    "... The Wizards sent her off with me. Don't know if they're trying to earn goodwill with the Knight somehow, or just saddling us with a problem they can no longer be bothered with. Either way, she's carrying the stone. So, be nice to her, even if she probably won't show any appreciation for it-" 
    Like his brother, he glanced at Lily, his suspicions being confirmed about Roland. Aside from the etiquette (even though both of them were assigned in this safehouse), they came back after a long and excruciating travel, potentially fatal, given the circumstances. He nodded, smiled and pat his shoulder as he made quick steps to where Lily is. "We have a stove, Roland. If you are willing to wait, I'll heat the food for you. If not, that's fine, eat well. And by the way, your winged buddy also came back home safely." he said, turning his head back to him.
    Now it is unknown if Roland's hunger was unbearable enough that it forced him to eat the food as cold as it is, but the archer wasn't the fan of cold food of any kind, but his snobby characteristic would only rise when they would be anywhere considered remotely safe. His thought faded, as he approached Lily. He spun his finger slowly and pointed behind her towards a dark, wooden door. "Right there, miss. It's got a tub that I'll have to fill, so give me a few moments. Hot or cold water?"
    ---
    A bit of time had passed, as Rolliam filled in the tub of water with the water she desired and brought in other things, like soap and a towel, what is necessary for her to feel at home. He rubbed his forehead of sweat and put the bucket of water back where it belonged, at the well and came back to Lily, which was waiting at the door. "Well, sorry it took me that long. Getting everything ready's always a lot of work, but now, that it is done..." He took off his gloves and put them into some hidden pockets followed by a stretching of his shoulders, causing a pop to be heard. "My name is Rolliam and I may assume you know I am Roland's brother. Nice to meet you." He held out his hand to her.
  15. Like
    The Fire Heart got a reaction from saga juliet in LotE: Echoes of Byrn   
    Rolliam took a more relaxed position as roland responded to him with the grin. The mocking response came with a welcome breeze of wind, knowingly the man did things right in his way. Behind Roland's grin, there was another part of him that was tired beyond limit. Did they actually get into as much trouble as he thought, things which blurred his vision with worry? He'll find out soon, once the Ebon Knight meets the trio, thus the mission being unfolded to its last bit, checked, rechecked and plans remade, until the group agrees to everything being discussed. He rolled his eyes while thinking about it, the wait would have to get even longer. And knowing how Roland gets into trouble, he'd need a bit of rest, at least.

    "... The Wizards sent her off with me. Don't know if they're trying to earn goodwill with the Knight somehow, or just saddling us with a problem they can no longer be bothered with. Either way, she's carrying the stone. So, be nice to her, even if she probably won't show any appreciation for it-" 
    Like his brother, he glanced at Lily, his suspicions being confirmed about Roland. Aside from the etiquette (even though both of them were assigned in this safehouse), they came back after a long and excruciating travel, potentially fatal, given the circumstances. He nodded, smiled and pat his shoulder as he made quick steps to where Lily is. "We have a stove, Roland. If you are willing to wait, I'll heat the food for you. If not, that's fine, eat well. And by the way, your winged buddy also came back home safely." he said, turning his head back to him.
    Now it is unknown if Roland's hunger was unbearable enough that it forced him to eat the food as cold as it is, but the archer wasn't the fan of cold food of any kind, but his snobby characteristic would only rise when they would be anywhere considered remotely safe. His thought faded, as he approached Lily. He spun his finger slowly and pointed behind her towards a dark, wooden door. "Right there, miss. It's got a tub that I'll have to fill, so give me a few moments. Hot or cold water?"
    ---
    A bit of time had passed, as Rolliam filled in the tub of water with the water she desired and brought in other things, like soap and a towel, what is necessary for her to feel at home. He rubbed his forehead of sweat and put the bucket of water back where it belonged, at the well and came back to Lily, which was waiting at the door. "Well, sorry it took me that long. Getting everything ready's always a lot of work, but now, that it is done..." He took off his gloves and put them into some hidden pockets followed by a stretching of his shoulders, causing a pop to be heard. "My name is Rolliam and I may assume you know I am Roland's brother. Nice to meet you." He held out his hand to her.
  16. Like
    The Fire Heart reacted to EpicRome23 in LotE: Echoes of Byrn   
    "Welcome back, brother. Got what you were assigned to find?"
    Roland looked up from searching through his bag at Rolliam's words- as if the act of searching would cause the lost reports to re-appear. But now was not the time to dwell on such things, for there were matters of the present that needed more urgent attention. The Byrnian scout gave his brother a wry grin before responding.
    "I got that, or half at least. And more than I bargained for in the process, as well."
    He flicked a meaningful gaze over toward Lily for a moment.
    "... The Wizards sent her off with me. Don't know if they're trying to earn goodwill with the Knight somehow, or just saddling us with a problem they can no longer be bothered with. Either way, she's carrying the stone. So, be nice to her, even if she probably won't show any appreciation for it-"
    It was at this point that Lily announced her desire to take a bath. Roland quickly gave Rolliam a sidelong glance. His expression said everything. Did he even need out to state his expectation out loud? He had traveled all this way, tired and hungry alike- would it not be fair, then, for Rolliam to draw up the water for the bath, deal with Lily for a time so that Roland did not have to? A reasonable expectation, of course it would be fair. Roland suppressed a laugh, then collapsed into a nearby chair and unfolded a cloth-wrapped package on the table, revealing the cold yet still delicious-looking food that had been bundled within.
  17. Like
    The Fire Heart reacted to saga juliet in LotE: Echoes of Byrn   
    The house was short and neat, set with stone-dark bricks, upon which moss crept from beneath the shaded eaves. An old, sturdy structure on an old, sturdy street full of them, close to the center of town and languid like everything around it. When Lily started towards the front door Roland pulled her back, led her down a staircase around the side.

    “The front’s trapped,” he said, and she sighed.

    Producing a key from beneath a false brick, he let her in first, then followed her, keeping the door open. Moments later, a third man came in. He asked them a question that she willingly did not hear. The two men started talking. Roland had told her enough about the brother that she knew he had been following them from the moment they had come within a mile of the town. She had no more surprises left in her to show.

    Lily went further into the hall, peered through the rooms. The house was well-kept. Rolliam had been living there for several weeks, since Roland had been sent on his ill-fated mission, and although he was a man the younger scout had kept the floor swept and the corners free of cobwebs. It seemed to her to be isolated entirely from the external world; not only the room, but the entire house, and perhaps even this entire town. There had been war and chaos, and then there was this. In the kitchen there was a pail of water that had been drawn from the well in the back of the house. Upon seeing this – upon noticing how still it was, devoid in the absence of change – and seeing her own reflection, she realized that she felt coated. By what? Poor thoughts, the ordinary paranoia of being pursued, all the grit of the un-pristine.

    “I would like to take a bath,” she announced to the pair, and folded her hands expectantly in her lap.

  18. Like
    The Fire Heart got a reaction from EpicRome23 in LotE: Echoes of Byrn   
    An arrow tip was thrown on the table, with a loud knock coming from its impact with wood. A few heads turned, curious, but they went back to their business, noticing one of the scouts. He was tinkering with the arrows, trying to make specific heads that would suit his missions. The man was bored from tying, loosening up and fixing the customized projectiles over and over again. It's not as if he'd do this to all his arrows, but he had a far greater quantity of arrows which were all the same, boring sight when picking up one from the quiver. 
    Rolliam was doing this for more than a few weeks, every since he was relocated here, in order to secure the highways from any further incidents and threats, clearing the way for his brother to come back with whatever he was tasked to bring. Dragonstone was it, right? Yeah, right. Roland would surely be able to steal that, considering how much him and I used to steal before they were recruited by Ebon Knight. Hell, it feels like days since then. But... Roland's wyvern came back recently. It has been a good amount of days since then and there's no sign of his brother. What could have happened to him? Roland's as slippery as a fish, but this is extremely concerning. Did he cross any borders and got himself into trouble? Was he caught by any other patrols? Partisans took him as prisoner?
    Hell if he knows. Every morning, noon and evening Rolliam would sit in one of the highest trees near the safehouse to seek the lands. The landscape, as beautiful as it is, with the sun bathing him in its holy light, wind blessing him with its gentle touches against his pale skin, his heart was being filled with dread and fear. Fear, the strongest at the moment, that he won't see him back...
    But a few days later, when he was up on the highest tree, camouflaged, while the sun would rise, he saw a duo. A duo of horses, with a person each. He recognized his brother straight away, with a smile on his face, but it faded once he looked over at the other person, riding the horse. A woman with him, here? The duo was approaching the surroundings of the safehouse at such a fast rate and Roland would let a stranger come with him? Nothing at this moment is part of the plan and Rolliam was getting suspicious. He let them walk, as he stayed hidden in the tree, hoping Roland wouldn't notice him hiding there. After all, their childhood game was Hide and Seek. Both of them were good enough at it to notice eachother hiding in trees, in high foliage or even camouflaged. How? None of them know. Maybe talent?
    It didn't matter now. The duo would approach a bigger than average Isorian village, where the people looked all lively, doing their daily things, never noticing the others. They were all busy helping themselves in times like these, when Isore would fall to its knees due to the attack of Byrn, which hurt hard enough to destroy most of the remaining remnants of Isore's infrastructure. Roland was approaching a house, with a hand rummaging through his bag, looking for what would seem to be a key, an old, black key which seemed like it would open another old door... With the lady behind, Roland got off the horse and went downstairs, right outside to this house to what would seem to be its basement. With a swift move, he inserted the key and a click was heard, the door was opened. Rolliam wiggled his nose and followed the two, as they entered the basement. He followed them, entered and locked the door behind, giving both of them a good look, as they were looking around at the house. Roland was checking his bag once more, trying to find the thing he was missing after putting the key inside. Rolliam opened his mouth, "Welcome back, brother. Got what you were assigned to find?" He looked at the lady for a slight of a second then back at him, with his head tilted in curiosity and suspicion. 
    Rolliam is a young lad with white, spiky hair which would occasionaly cover his brown-blue eyes. He was dressed in coloured leather armour, fitting the lands they were in: Green, with brown and specks of in between, blending in with the nature. He has a brave bow on his back, made from dark wood with several green tints on it, for further blending in with the enviroment, including his quiver. His face was a bit dirty from one of his recent missions, where he painted himself in all sorts of colours to take down a few bad guys. He seems like he wasn't really paying any attention to this, his mind seemed to be in a whole other world, coming back only to focus on his brother and the lady. Otherwise, his face is not really so dirty as one would expect from a scout. Not like he'd care, anyways. He preferred being stealthy over looking nice any day, but he'd forget the line between a task and free time.
  19. Like
    The Fire Heart got a reaction from saga juliet in LotE: Echoes of Byrn   
    An arrow tip was thrown on the table, with a loud knock coming from its impact with wood. A few heads turned, curious, but they went back to their business, noticing one of the scouts. He was tinkering with the arrows, trying to make specific heads that would suit his missions. The man was bored from tying, loosening up and fixing the customized projectiles over and over again. It's not as if he'd do this to all his arrows, but he had a far greater quantity of arrows which were all the same, boring sight when picking up one from the quiver. 
    Rolliam was doing this for more than a few weeks, every since he was relocated here, in order to secure the highways from any further incidents and threats, clearing the way for his brother to come back with whatever he was tasked to bring. Dragonstone was it, right? Yeah, right. Roland would surely be able to steal that, considering how much him and I used to steal before they were recruited by Ebon Knight. Hell, it feels like days since then. But... Roland's wyvern came back recently. It has been a good amount of days since then and there's no sign of his brother. What could have happened to him? Roland's as slippery as a fish, but this is extremely concerning. Did he cross any borders and got himself into trouble? Was he caught by any other patrols? Partisans took him as prisoner?
    Hell if he knows. Every morning, noon and evening Rolliam would sit in one of the highest trees near the safehouse to seek the lands. The landscape, as beautiful as it is, with the sun bathing him in its holy light, wind blessing him with its gentle touches against his pale skin, his heart was being filled with dread and fear. Fear, the strongest at the moment, that he won't see him back...
    But a few days later, when he was up on the highest tree, camouflaged, while the sun would rise, he saw a duo. A duo of horses, with a person each. He recognized his brother straight away, with a smile on his face, but it faded once he looked over at the other person, riding the horse. A woman with him, here? The duo was approaching the surroundings of the safehouse at such a fast rate and Roland would let a stranger come with him? Nothing at this moment is part of the plan and Rolliam was getting suspicious. He let them walk, as he stayed hidden in the tree, hoping Roland wouldn't notice him hiding there. After all, their childhood game was Hide and Seek. Both of them were good enough at it to notice eachother hiding in trees, in high foliage or even camouflaged. How? None of them know. Maybe talent?
    It didn't matter now. The duo would approach a bigger than average Isorian village, where the people looked all lively, doing their daily things, never noticing the others. They were all busy helping themselves in times like these, when Isore would fall to its knees due to the attack of Byrn, which hurt hard enough to destroy most of the remaining remnants of Isore's infrastructure. Roland was approaching a house, with a hand rummaging through his bag, looking for what would seem to be a key, an old, black key which seemed like it would open another old door... With the lady behind, Roland got off the horse and went downstairs, right outside to this house to what would seem to be its basement. With a swift move, he inserted the key and a click was heard, the door was opened. Rolliam wiggled his nose and followed the two, as they entered the basement. He followed them, entered and locked the door behind, giving both of them a good look, as they were looking around at the house. Roland was checking his bag once more, trying to find the thing he was missing after putting the key inside. Rolliam opened his mouth, "Welcome back, brother. Got what you were assigned to find?" He looked at the lady for a slight of a second then back at him, with his head tilted in curiosity and suspicion. 
    Rolliam is a young lad with white, spiky hair which would occasionaly cover his brown-blue eyes. He was dressed in coloured leather armour, fitting the lands they were in: Green, with brown and specks of in between, blending in with the nature. He has a brave bow on his back, made from dark wood with several green tints on it, for further blending in with the enviroment, including his quiver. His face was a bit dirty from one of his recent missions, where he painted himself in all sorts of colours to take down a few bad guys. He seems like he wasn't really paying any attention to this, his mind seemed to be in a whole other world, coming back only to focus on his brother and the lady. Otherwise, his face is not really so dirty as one would expect from a scout. Not like he'd care, anyways. He preferred being stealthy over looking nice any day, but he'd forget the line between a task and free time.
  20. Like
    The Fire Heart got a reaction from EpicRome23 in LOTE: Wartime Festivals?   
    Tolok was watching the steam rise behind them, as a spirit raising in the Heaven, where God would judge them for their sins. He was standing at the prow, thinking about everything. He was deep lost in those thoughts about what else would come, as he was for several days after the talk with Severa, where Owend and him fought to regain the green haired girl's honor in Glia. Should one still talk about the future, when no one knows about it? He heard it brings bad luck but... He misses them. He misses a future without them and he'd fear that this future they will settle in will seem normal, after he would, seemingly move on, a more mature Tolok. He was ocuppied with all this, playing with the gauntlets and being fidgety for quite a while, trying to regain sense in the world around them. A bird flew by, which woke him up from this slumber of thoughts and looked at Owend, who seemed worried. Perhaps because he was so deep in thoughts the anger showed up? Was this another thing to care of? No, it wasn't. Luckily, it helped him regain his control.
    He took a few seconds to see reality as it is. "Food, you say?" He smiled slightly in surprise, as if she had some sort of ancient technique named telepathy. But perhaps, his stomach growl gave this away. "I think we'll be there by nightfall, or even faster, who knows? I'd watch the dusk on the river, I haven't really experienced that sight on water for so long. And... Pearl of the Keys? I've never heard of that place, but it sounds exquisite."
    The gauntlets' gold-white sun shone for a bit in a bright yellow, which Tolok looked at with confusion. He wanted to touch the glowing mark, as if it was calling him, the temptation growing larger and larger with every blink passing, but the glow faded. He looked back at Owend and sighed. "I dislike that <<Stray-Cat>> nickname. It feels like someone would put salt on the wound and enjoy the sight. But it's not just that. I fear... I fear a dark future where I would miss them. I think you know who I mean, right?" He turned back against the fence at the prow and rested on it, crossing his arms and biting his upper lip. "I've been exploring for seven, eight long years to at least find out a clue about my parents. I feel like the more I explore and try to find out something, at least a ray of hope in the dark, I drag and weaken myself. I thought it would be brighter to have these gloves but... I feel like it's worse, for some reason."
    "...I miss them. I couldn't tell them a proper goodbye." A tear shed from one of his eyes, "Let's hope this adventure will help not just me, but everyone with their inner demons." He shrugged.
  21. Like
    The Fire Heart got a reaction from saga juliet in LOTE: Wartime Festivals?   
    Tolok was watching the steam rise behind them, as a spirit raising in the Heaven, where God would judge them for their sins. He was standing at the prow, thinking about everything. He was deep lost in those thoughts about what else would come, as he was for several days after the talk with Severa, where Owend and him fought to regain the green haired girl's honor in Glia. Should one still talk about the future, when no one knows about it? He heard it brings bad luck but... He misses them. He misses a future without them and he'd fear that this future they will settle in will seem normal, after he would, seemingly move on, a more mature Tolok. He was ocuppied with all this, playing with the gauntlets and being fidgety for quite a while, trying to regain sense in the world around them. A bird flew by, which woke him up from this slumber of thoughts and looked at Owend, who seemed worried. Perhaps because he was so deep in thoughts the anger showed up? Was this another thing to care of? No, it wasn't. Luckily, it helped him regain his control.
    He took a few seconds to see reality as it is. "Food, you say?" He smiled slightly in surprise, as if she had some sort of ancient technique named telepathy. But perhaps, his stomach growl gave this away. "I think we'll be there by nightfall, or even faster, who knows? I'd watch the dusk on the river, I haven't really experienced that sight on water for so long. And... Pearl of the Keys? I've never heard of that place, but it sounds exquisite."
    The gauntlets' gold-white sun shone for a bit in a bright yellow, which Tolok looked at with confusion. He wanted to touch the glowing mark, as if it was calling him, the temptation growing larger and larger with every blink passing, but the glow faded. He looked back at Owend and sighed. "I dislike that <<Stray-Cat>> nickname. It feels like someone would put salt on the wound and enjoy the sight. But it's not just that. I fear... I fear a dark future where I would miss them. I think you know who I mean, right?" He turned back against the fence at the prow and rested on it, crossing his arms and biting his upper lip. "I've been exploring for seven, eight long years to at least find out a clue about my parents. I feel like the more I explore and try to find out something, at least a ray of hope in the dark, I drag and weaken myself. I thought it would be brighter to have these gloves but... I feel like it's worse, for some reason."
    "...I miss them. I couldn't tell them a proper goodbye." A tear shed from one of his eyes, "Let's hope this adventure will help not just me, but everyone with their inner demons." He shrugged.
  22. Superlike!
    The Fire Heart reacted to saga juliet in LOTE: Wartime Festivals?   
    “My grandfather is among them,” Madon said. “The former Exarch Dawnwulf.”
    “Is he now,” Olivia said, seemingly taken aback. “Why, you should have told me earlier!” And she laughed, bell-sweet. “A den of turban-wearing rats and your grandfather, then.”

    Madon didn’t see what was so funny about it, but he cracked a smile for her because he knew what it was: beneath all of this inconsequential small talk, something fomented in Olivia’s mind. Women – always scheming, and never giving voice to the thoughts behind the façade, and Olivia the worst of them. It was when she indulged in mindless pleasantries that she was thinking most viciously.

    Of course, his own expression was as readable as a smooth pebble when he thought this, but that was neither here nor there. Just a force of habit, after all.

    Olivia finished commiserating with Wymp over the horrors of false prophets and interrogating Owend about her misadventures. The latter kept her cool even as talk danced deftly in the shadow of such topics as desertion and the consequences thereof. At last, Olivia made her goodbyes, and sent one long, beckoning look to Madon in-between the shaking of hands.

    He cleared his throat. “Olivia, I’ve been meaning to ask.” His tone was measured, the question pre-formulated. “What exactly is the cargo that this ship carries towards the front?”

    “You haven’t seen, then? Come, then. It’s mostly weapons, but if you mean to lead this brigade then you ought to have stock of things.”

    The two wandered off, leaving the rest alone.

    “The first weeks after Severa came, the old Princesses grilled her about Byrn’s forces until she was just about ready to choke all three of them,” Olivia said off-handedly as they crossed the vast deck of the freighter. “I don’t know how much you’ve acquainted with the Hunting Party, but wyverns are a newer development. Last fifty years or so. We’ve been forging wyvern-slayers for quite a while now, as a result. That boy of yours, Tolok? Anselm told me that his father, Master Sur, was actually one of the architects of the design before he died.” While one princess had made deals and another terrified her subordinates, Anslem had been doing her due diligence. Such a diligence turned up all too many questions, and a few more interesting connections besides.

    Olivia frowned, remembering Anselm’s brief. “Oh. His parents are dead, aren’t they? Perhaps ‘stray cat’ wasn’t the most tactful nickname, Madon.”

    When they came to the hatch to the underdecks, Madon opened it for her. Olivia went through without so much as a word, and the Exarch closed it behind them as they went into the darkness. Outside the eye of the public, the two didn’t need courtesy amongst each other, nor entertain pretensions of chivalry. When they were alone things were peppered by an entirely different sort of tension that lay between the Princess and the rest.

    An orb of light popped into existence, hovering close to Olivia’s face. A second crackle, and one flickered into existence beside Madon’s. They continued walking, separated by a scant few centimeters. The hallway swayed ever so slightly, creaked and groaned and distantly water sloshed in the bilges. Yet the construction here was fine, and the still air smelled of dry oak and cypress. Soft smells, cushioning their heads as pillows.

    She swung open another door, and vanished inside with the Exarch following.

    “Oh,” Madon said. “You weren’t joking.”

    The hold, running nearly the whole length of the ship, was stacked high with boxes. Olivia opened one carelessly, revealing crystalline lance-points that glittered in the orb-light, lined dozens to a box, with screws loose at their base. Hafts of dogwood twice as tall as a man were bound together and stacked alongside, leaning against the walls of the chamber.

    She picked up a ledger off a box. “It will be good for you to implement those legendary Isorian logistics I keep hearing of. Boots on the ground aren’t Glia’s strong suit, since we have that whole flying bit. But that won’t do during wartime.”

    The Exarch took the folder and tucked it beneath his arm. He leveled a stare at her. “Really, Olivia. What did you want to talk about?”

    “Now that we’re alone, you’re quite forward, aren’t you?” Olivia dropped the coy act as quickly as she picked it up. “Your grandfather, a Wizard? Obviously, I’m surprised. I don’t think we’ve heard anything like that, else we – “

    She hesitated. Madon raised an eyebrow.

    Olivia folded her hands behind her, looking still straight head down the length of the ship. “Have you spoken with him recently?”
    And, with that, the pair left, one a man, one a woman, both entirely the opposite of unassuming as they drifted away to talk of things like empire. Owend watched them leave, then cricked her neck. In both their services she fought, but neither she truly began to understand, though if she had to choose, the Exarch would serve as the more personable of the two. At least ideals like revenge had roots in the ordinary person’s cognition. The Princess…frightening. What she wanted for her nation was borne of love, but the ways in which she thought and acted indicated that the love she had was not the love that ordinary men and women knew to express.

    But she did love. Of that, Owend was certain.

    “You think we’ll be there by nightfall?” Owend said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been. It’s a breathtaking place. Perhaps we can go dine at the Pearl of the Keys, if that’s still around.”

    She remained with Tolok at the prow of the ship as the city of Onstade drew closer and closer. The man seemed preoccupied, playing with the gauntlets that they had fetched while in Glia. They were beautifully forged, ornate – it reminded her nearly of the spun-silver make of the Grey Elites’ specialist lances that she’d only ever seen in palace functions. And the white-gold sun on the back seemed awful familiar. The Sur father had been a blacksmith in the city itself, of such renown that even Anselm had heard of him. Undoubtedly, his emblem was on a few of the finer pieces floating around.

    Tolok was brute with them, though, throwing them one hand to another with some immense force. A man frustrated in some ways. Displeased? He had been in a way, dwelling on thoughts, since Olivia had left.

    He pegged his ball of flame into the sea, where it vanished in a puff of steam.

    The pegasus knight sighed. “Are you worried about something? You’ve been rather quiet for a little while. Did something the princess say bother you? She can be quite…eccentric at times.”

     
  23. Like
    The Fire Heart reacted to EpicRome23 in LOTE: Wartime Festivals?   
    "Siblings in arms... right."
    Madon was still guarded around Olivia, if only a little. Even considering their past bond, and the one renewed by present circumstances... that scorpion woman, that assassin, had named her as her employer, and she had not denied such a thing when confronted. Whatever the circumstances, whatever, the rationale, it had been an attempt on his life, ordered by her hand, in the end. The others were guarded insofar as they showed deference to her. None of them wanted to inadvertently insult her and subsequently have that reflect onto him. Yet...
    Perhaps they were being too cautious. If Olivia was genuine in her intentions, she might be irritated by their guardedness and such, however slightly. Madon resolved to address the matter at some point, when they had all spent more time with each other and gotten used to her presence. Then, perhaps, they could truly be siblings in arms, with genuine trust in each other. But for now, the wounds were still too fresh, the arrangement still too new and strange for all of them. The time was not yet right to mend that small, imperceptible gap between them.
    So he watched the proceedings with his usual stoic, reserved expression, breaking it only slightly to nod assent to Wymp in handing over Arbalest. He had hesitated for a moment, admittedly. The thought that she could have turned then and there and simply shot him. Chaos in the ranks, she might even have come out unscathed after all was said and done. But to what end would she do so? No, if there was even but a grain of truth in what she had said, she would never do such a thing without thorough consideration. And so he nodded, and all was well, a seagull shot out of the sky.
    Had that been a seagull? Admittedly, Madon couldn't tell the difference between a seagull and an albatross either. He just had to assume it was the former. So after Olivia spoke to Wymp and silence faded, Madon finally began to speak again.
    "Is imitation not the sincerest form of flattery, though? Or is the application of that more limited than the phrase implies? Anyways... Crystal being optimistic is a bit surprising to me, being supposedly related to Amber, whom I find to be rather cynical. Then again, siblings do tend to diverge in such ways, from what I've seen. And I must wonder, Olivia... what impact would there be on your strong opinions of The Valley and The Wizards if I told you that my grandfather, on my father's side, was among them? The former Exarch Dawnwulf?"
    "You must understand, Amber, that I need to be careful of what I say, especially in regards to such matters. Time is like the surface of a still pond, and too much of a disturbance will send many strong ripples across it. That being said..."
    Orsola was obviously deep in thought for a few moments.
    "... I can tell you this much, at least. Granted, the majority of this is secondhand, what I was told by Owend and the others whom lived with me in the fortress cities of Isore, the only cities to survive the calamity. So, Mason... I suppose he was the same as he is now, in some ways. As were you. But sometime between now and my time, he became willing to undertake a deplorable deed. A leader of men... a person with good intentions. The keystone of an effort to defeat Byrn and restore peace to Erasmia. This persob, unfortunately, become lost to wrath, to the desire for revenge. Willing to trample over anyone who stood in their way. Mason stood against them. As did you. But they were not given a swift, merciful death. Oh no, from Owend's eyewitness account and the written testimony of the Ebon Knight... the two of you gave this person a drawn-out, torturous death. I suppose that you in particular, Amber, had reason to draw out their fall, though the details are... best not stated, here. But regardless, with their demise, the future's course was sealed. How the two of you made it through the calamity, I know not. All I know was when I came of age to venture out into the wastes Erasmia had become, I did encounter the two of you eventually."
    She paused for a moment, shaking her head.
    "It wasn't cordial. I will divulge that much, at least. As for why, well, it doesn't matter too much to the present. Raids on the farms of the fortress cities and such, in which you two took part. It's simply the reason for my initial reaction to the two of you, which I do apologize for. Because again... though it's still possible that you become the same as I knew you then, it is equally as possible that you will not. And if I antagonize you, surely I would just be more or less ensuring the former?"
  24. Superlike!
    The Fire Heart reacted to saga juliet in LOTE: Wartime Festivals?   
    “There’s nothing I want, Madon. I was just observing your lot. We are siblings-in-arms now, aren’t we?” She touched Madon’s shoulder as she passed by, squeezing a tight smile. “Always business with you.”
    Madon seemed to keep a little of his guard, however much they were meant to be comfortable with one another. Once her presence was noted by the rest, backs straightened up, chatter grew more strained. Of course. The new spook comes round the block, nobody wants to be the one to screw the pooch by mistake. Madon had his own thoughts to deal with, as Olivia had hers, each concerning the other. And however much weight the Princess carried in Glia, she was the foreign agent here. She tried a disarming smile.
    “Though you’re right, this is business of a sort. I’d like to get to know my allies, and I’d like them to know me. You’re the people I’ll be trusting my life to. I’d hope you’d do the same.” She tilted her head towards Madon. “I’d just come from speaking with one of your small questions, Crystal. Pleasant enough woman, though a bit...optimistic.”
    Owend stood straight to attention as she passed by, clicking her boots. A sharp-featured young woman, darling beloved of sister Severa, two-time deserter. Blinkstrike strapped across her back, tip glinting like a beacon. There were two other platoons of pegasus knights on the two other barges down from Glia, but the platoon on this one, led by this girl, was special in all ways right and wrong. Despite everything, she had the peace of mind to stay cool.
    Olivia looked her up and down. “At ease, Lieutenant.”
    Tolok eyed her too, standing beside the pegasus knight. Now this was a new face, one who’d Severa spirited away for some reason or another. “I don’t believe we’ve met.”
    “A stray cat that Owend picked up,” Madon offered, a ghost of a smile on his lips.
    Owend stared straight ahead, downright professional. Tolok might’ve startled – the knight, it turned out, did have a face for cards, whatever emotional tides she had showed under Severa. Unlike with the Princess of Grey, however, she had cause to use it here. “A conscript, Princess Madam. We picked him up in the Valley.” After a moment of hesitation, she added, “One of many.”
    “That treacherous den of turban-wearing rats?” She touched a hand to her lips. “Pardon me. I’m rather outspoken when it comes to those wise-asses who squirrel themselves away in the Valley. Your name?”
    “Tolok,” he said, seemingly bemused.
    “Tolok. Certainly. Well, stray-cat Tolok, do care to be gentle with the Lieutenant. Despite her exterior, she’s quite delicate, and I happen to know a Princess who’d have your head for scratching up her favorite toy.”
    She came to the vista on the other side of the railing. More of the same, more interminable fields of grain and patchwork forests. The fertile bounty of Erasmia, by the presence of which Glia once exerted immense economic force across the nation. Nowadays, with advances in agricultural science and, in Zenith’s case, indefagitable excursions into the thicket jungle of the Coppice, the other nations had developed a degree of self reliance. But Glia was still the breadbasket – Glia, and its former lands now called Dodon and Isore.
    A shadow of a seagull fled overhead. Olivia motioned Wymp give her the crossbow, a beckoning that he nearly refused at first, before Madon nodded imperceptibly.
    She noted all this, and more. A microcosm prediction of what her treatment may be.
    Sighing, she received Arbalest with a nod. That thing sang in her hands, it did. Wood hard as steel, old runes inscribed on the surface and deep within, where wood-scribe could not touch. Things of power were so often beauty inherent. Beautiful because they are powerful, and not so much the other way.
    She put the stock to her shoulder, aimed down the sight, and two whizzing shadows collided with a squawk a little ways out on the water, ending with a plunk.
    “Such a fine thing.” She admired the weapon for a little while longer, then shrugged. “Yours, good Father.”
    She tossed the thing to Wymp.
    “Seagulls, I’ve never heard anything of. But I have heard that albatrosses are embodiments of sanctity, of the will of the gods, and to shoot one is to curse an entire voyage to damnation. I’ve never seen one outside pictures in books, but I don’t know if I could tell the difference between a seagull and an albatross.”
    She gave Wymp a smile.
    “Still, there must be some great sin in approximating the messengers of the gods. Or so I’d think, anyway.”
  25. Superlike!
    The Fire Heart reacted to vielle in that lost summit [quest]   
    The job, the Rifleman says. Money and thrill, the Chameleon says. 
    Juno accepts these succinct answers—people have done worse things for less.
    The Captain, she is very surprised to note, appears far more interested in the tiny bones crumbling beneath their footfalls than in the tower looming in the distance, a ghost figure in the grey. She watches the man lean towards Tolok with a look of eager interest in his eyes. “Unnatural? Truly? Why, that trait might be very interesting.” He gives the Chameleon a friendly smile. “What say you about helping me gather some of these bones for the good scientists and researchers of Arcturon before, er, whatever problems might have caused this comes back around? They might just yield a profit for us back at the city.” 
    Bones of strange animals may be of utmost importance to some of the more eclectic collectors in the hallowed halls of Arcturon, but they are not anywhere near Juno’s interests. That tower in the Rifleman’s sights, however: there’s something about it that draws her eye with unnerving focus, a structure that inspires both trepidation and anticipation. 
    “I’ve never heard of a building here in the reports the Conclave Tel has given us,” she tells Isaac, moving closer to where he stands and casting her gaze far into the gloom. “I’d also vote to check it out.” Juno looks to the others for their answer, noting that Arran will give the verdict of action once everyone has given their opinion.
     
    @Fierach @The Fire Heart @Hani
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