Yet, not quite.
The alchemist had made good on his word, in the end. Artanthos Thulmann was not the sort of man to place his trust readily in others, but there hadn’t been much choice but to work with Arthur Uskglass. That, and by Uskglass’ own vivid descriptions of the world from whence Artanthos came from, it was clear that he had visited Valucre before. Artanthos had never lent much credence to the tales of planes-walking sorcerers from the lips of Elendaran merchants, as they were wont to tell a tall tale to enamor potential customers. Getting caught in an interdimensional storm while at sea, and washing up onto the shores of not just a strange and distant land, but a strange and distant world, though, oft lent to broadening the mind.
The verdant landscapes that rolled peacefully before Artanthos’ sole eye as the carriage rolled ever-onward weren’t exactly the familiar homecoming he had expected, but he had to remind himself that he had already been leaving the cold plains of Illtheria behind when he was thrust into that inopportune dimensional sojourn. The former knight had never visited Genesaris before, as until just a scant few years ago, his affairs had only been concerned with properly serving his liege. That trailing thought drew a thin, rueful smile to his lips, so he turned his attention back to the whorl of color and natural wealth that surrounded their journey.
A land with such a bounty of resources would need protection from the predations of those who sought to make it their own. Therein lied opportunity.
Though he had cast aside his vows and codes of chivalry like a man casting aside a chalice of wine discovered to be poisoned, mercenary work was still a bitter poultice for Artanthos to swallow. He still held distant, vague nightmares of his earliest years, the struggle to exist as the thrice-born son of a minor noble family in a mercenary free company. He had grown up doing hard work, then - routier’s work. There had been some sins that his fellow men-at-arms had reaped wantonly that Artanthos had never been able to stomach, but he could still see the eyes of peasants in his dreams - confused, terrified, hateful, all until the blade bit down, taking the lights in them with it.
Artanthos had tried to convince himself that he had atoned for such acts, but even as a knight, he had continued to witness the evils of men perpetrated endlessly upon one-another. And had partaken in them.
Still, there was naught much work out there for a man born and bred into violence as he. That, and Artanthos was more than capable of being discerning in the choice of his contracts. It would be a simple enough matter to earn enough gold to save up for a plot of land; the difficult leg of that trek would be to learn how to farm. That road would have to be crossed later on, though. He had yet more sins to heap upon his soul before he could be given leave to rest.
Artanthos would have been content to continue the carriage ride in silence - not that he misliked Uskglass and the monk, Tenkai Matsumoto - but he was not the type to engage in prolonged conversation at every moment. He did willingly rise from his reverie, though, when the alchemist was interrupted from his feasting and spoke of an omen. He flashed a glance between his two comrades, and he knew that whatever was troubling them, it was beyond his ken.
“Maleficarum?” Artanthos questioned, his voice alert. Instinctively, his gloved right hand reached over to the leather-wrapped hilt of his sword. Unlike the other two, his weapon was held in no scabbard, and instead was propped up on the ground and seat next to him. A montante was no weapon to sling across your back or hip, lest one enjoyed futilely struggling to draw their sword forth before a melee. Arthur made the decision to investigate, and having no other pressing matters at hand, Artanthos shuffled out of the carriage behind the alchemist and Matsumoto.
Unlike the two men who climbed out of the carriage, there was no pretense in what Artanthos wore to the party. His profession was war, and he dressed the part. He wore a heavy coat of plates - sixty to seventy squares of hardened steel, riveted into thick, brown leather with brass, with some weathering and tears here and there. A heavy steel gorget was belted about his collar, covering his exposed neckline, and his arms were adorned in plate harness down to his wrists. Artanthos had lost his segmented gauntlets during his brief time on Gaia, and had settled to a pair of drakeskin leather gloves in their stead for now. The lower half of a leg harness covered him from knees down, though he lacked full sabatons to protect the top of his feet. Artanthos’ deepest regret with his current ensemble was a lack of a helm; a visor’s limited view bothered him far less than the lack of protection, especially with his training and experience. That left his features exposed to the world; pale flesh over a strong chin and high cheekbones, he painted the picture of a noble-born man-at-arms well with his flowing black hair and piercing blue gaze. Yet, a more studious observation would reveal deeper hardships: scars, such as the one crossing his left eye and beneath the eye patch worn over it; deep frown lines and brow furrows; crows feet that crinkled heavily at the corners of his eyes.
As Tenkai gestured at the extravagantly-dressed man and his coterie ahead of them, Artanthos slung his montante across his right shoulder, observing the situation himself. The two-handed sword was an impressive beast - 55” in length, its blade was thick, only tapering down to the end of its double fullers, and terminating with a hexagonal point. This was no side arm, but a full sword of war, infamously known in the hands of Einderen mercenaries. Artanthos also possessed an arming sword and rondel dagger, both of which were belted to his left waist and secured in their scabbards.
“The endless posturing of petty lords and ladies, my friends,” Artanthos sighed, understanding exactly what was transpiring before them. “You shall witness similar scenes transpire to the very terminus of mankind’s days. Come, then. Let us see how much they bristle at our irreverent approach, and determine if there is any worth to the iron belted at their waists.” Simply stated enough, Artanthos then began to move towards the caustic scene. It would be clear to his two allies that the fallen knight was more than ready to test the mettle of any party at this event, and not because he held any particular ill-will towards any one of them. Heaven or Hell had been enough to engage Artanthos as a swordsman, but it had been cut short.
Mayhap one of the posturers would provide him with the entertainment the tournament had failed to provide.
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