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  1. In a tinny voice, the heralds cry. STAND CLEAR. INTERIOR AIRSHIP ROUTING IN PROGRESS. STAND CLEAR. INTERIOR AIRSHIP ROUTING IN PROGRESS. As numerous as the gilded stars arrayed upon the sable canvas of eventide, a legion of animate metal constructs cruises through the relatively narrow passages of Stronghold. The ever-shifting formation, seamlessly incorporating all manner of humanoids clad in exosuits inscribed with smoldering arcane sigils perched atop or enclosed within radiant mechanical behemoths, is thunder rolling over the cityscape as it remorselessly shatters the tranquility of night. With automated efficiency, Caeceila's vanguard surges forward, ardent blood coursing through capillaries, liquefying clots, sweeping stragglers away in a gentle but steady undercurrent. The moderately-paced transit of the convoy is an unannounced parade. Onlookers, drawn from their beds by enticing light and exotic cadence as creatures of flesh and blood join their voices to the brassy melody of a host of fantastical machinery in a glorious hymn dedicated to heroes of legend, of every age and kind unshutter their windows and gaze, eyes alight with equal parts wonder and fear, upon saucer-shaped airships and eyelike drones floating inches beyond arm's reach. Wherever the spectacle travels, the air is thick with a heady infusion of magic. Though the majority of the population is captivated by the inspiring ballads echoing through the streets and the artistry House Glasmann exhibits even in their instruments of war, with aesthetics mimicking well-known mythical entities, a minority embraces its paranoia, arming themselves with whatever weapons they have on hand, barring their doors, and hunkering down as the de facto invasion of Stronghold commences. Encountering no resistance as it cascades through the outskirts of Stronghold, Caeceila's vanguard rapidly advances upon Central Stronghold. Dozens of warriors push forward in unison, securing the rendezvous point well before Caeceila's airship arrives at the site. The vivid blue flames of jump jets firing sets the sky ablaze as designated marksmen alight on rooftops and scouts, coordinating with swarms of spheres, take to the skies. Escort craft are quick to follow, the deafening crack of vehicles exceeding the speed of sound marking their ascent to a sleepy realm beyond the dark clouds. Spidery artillery units scale solid walls with their spindly legs, tarrying on the sides of buildings while their bright red lights playfully dance on fields of cracked stone. At last, Caeceila's vanguard pours into a spacious courtyard before the gates of Central Stronghold, a contingent of smartly costumed Drow intelligence agents shed their meticulously constructed glamours as they link up with the main force. By some standards, the security detail assembled in the courtyard is disappointingly small. Without the eyelike drones in close proximity, they don't appear to possess the manpower first impressions indicated. A veteran would immediately admit, however, that Caeceila's vanguard and Nines's specialists are much more formidable than normal forces of comparable size. Every piece of equipment they employ is state-of-the-art. Furthermore, the makeup of the combined outfit is incredibly varied, allowing them to outgun, outwit, and outmaneuver a more threats than a standard military unit. From spying to skirmishing, the capabilities of this security detail might match those of a bona fide military, albeit limited to much tinier conflicts. Within a minute's time, Caeceila's airship has touched down in the center of the courtyard. Warriors, robots, and intelligence agents take up defensive positions at the boundaries of the courtyard, establishing a defensive perimeter and several killzones just in case Stronghold fails to live up to its name. As a polished metal boarding ramp extends from the airship, a semi-circle of robed catpeople with their palms pressed together, their fingers intertwined, and their heads slightly inclined are revealed. As if on command, they part. Three very, very important persons stride down the ramp and onto Veluriyam territory. The first of the three, standing on the far left, is Nines. Nines is clad in her battledress, that is to say, in reinforced, waterproofed leather, subdued black combat boots, solid black cotton socks, solid black tactical pants with padded titanium knee guards, padded titanium shin guards, and padded titanium thigh guards, padded titanium spaulders, padded titanium rerebraces, padded titanium elbow pads, (all of which are fastened with ties (under) and Velcro (over) for convenience), a solid black, zip-up, studded kangaroo leather jacket with cushioned titanium inserts, a rugged magnetic bracer with Batman-esque sword breakers and several embedded and inactive electrical generators concealed within it, wicked, spiked leather gloves with a rubberized grip and metallic veins connected to the aforementioned generators, a solid black battle vest (cut-off) adorned with official patches from her favorite (heavy metal) bands over a solid black women's A-shirt, a duty belt featuring a push knife, a kukri, crampons, two ice picks, a hand crossbow, a pouch of bolts, a dozen unmarked metal canisters, a multi-tool, and a metal canteen, and an ergonomic, gray-tinted M17 gas mask lookalike. Reacting to the darkness of the night that her tinted lenses only enhance, her eyes emit beams of eerie red light that flit about the interior of her mask as she assesses her environment. Nines herself is a slim lass. She is neither exceptionally tall nor exceptionally short, but for an elf, she is quite muscular. Sections of her obsidian skin are horribly scarred, and a shallow gash extends from the right edge of her eyebrow down to her cheek. Her cropped hair has been dyed charcoal black to match her outfit. As with any other elf, her ears are longer than they are wide and taper to a point. With high cheekbones and the like, Nines possesses a dark beauty, one more intimidating and nightmarish than elegant and divine. Pretty much anyone could tell you that the little finger of her left hand is absent; the sleeve of the glove this finger would manipulate does not respond when Nines bends her other fingers. At a glance, Nines is (by and large) your average drow (exile), if a smidge disfigured. She isn't buxom and carefree; she is graceful yet burdened. There is something about her, however, that a run-of-the-mill being would find highly disconcerting. She is a most unnatural being not in body but in spirit, and even if her unnatural qualities are unseen, they leave their mark on those who interact with her. The second of the three, standing on the far right, is Camelia. Cammy is five feet and one-hundred-and-ten pounds of refined feline fury. The kawaii catgirl, who would definitely be an instant hit at a comic con with her sparkling pink eyes, striking silver hair, and a well-groomed tail tied up with multicolored ribbons, is clad in a cute pink exosuit with a telescoping helmet retracted into its neckpiece. Said exosuit is embellished with spot-on depictions of iconic manga and anime characters. Her luscious fuchsia lips are curved in a cheery smile as she greets at several of the soldiers moving about the area with an energetic wave. Cammy's petite frame signals that she isn't a regularly front-line combatant, though her participation in the Tournament of Reverie has no doubt proven she is more than able to get up close and personal with her enemies when the need arises. Her ruffled, lacy cloak and silvery broach feature more obscure manga and anime characters that few residents of Taen or Ursa Madeum would be able to place. Cammy is naturally ad'awwable. Cammy is so charming, in fact, that people are prone to overlook the fact that she can stop people's hearts at a distance or cause blood to spurt out of their ears if they offend her. Though it isn't visible at the moment, she also has a massive tattoo of a white tiger mid-pounce upon her back. Judging by her apparent lack of physical strength, she's either the lamest tiger in Valucre or some kind of magical girl straight out of fiction who can transform into a weretiger at will. Caeceila is the final member of the team attending this negotiation. Her lustrous blonde hair, which would sweep down to the small of her back were she not dressed for battle, is neatly bound in a bun to accommodate the retractable helmet of her simple, black form-fitting exosuit. Her icy blue eyes glow softly in righteous, aquamarine splendor as she inspects the defenses of Central Stronghold with clean, calculating detachment. She's intimidating to say the least. While her feminine qualities are quite appealing, she carries herself less like a lady and more like a lord. Make no mistake, her movements do not belie her upbringing; she carries herself with the grace and poise one would demand from someone of her station - just not one of her station and her gender. Caeceila is a wellspring of power and confidence; the atmosphere encircling her is suffused with chilling paranormal energy. She possesses the body and the mind of a paragon who has no idea what a lasting peace would even resemble. Unfaltering purpose is evident in her bearing. Though she is very young, she commands that intangible presence which so defines great individuals. There, the trio waits for their eminent host/hostess. @Ataraxy
  2. A local tavern within Stronghold City... The woman waited at the far end of the tavern the rather large hood of her coat covering most of her visage under the shadows. Patience was one of her many virtues. It was evident from thw way she had been sitting on that corner table, with couple of empty cups splayed before her. It had been an hour or two and still she waited for someone to appear. A fish that would be hooked to her promise of coin. The woman has needs. Assistance mostly. There were reports of ghostly sighting at an abondoned building at Stronghold and she wanted to take a crack at it. She had bought that building at a cheap price and she will make full use of it. She was never one to believe in ghosts and even if that thing is true, the woman will find a way to exorcise it. And that is why she needed all the help she can get. Mercenaries at most and some local guide. Also a meatshield to protect her from harm. This was why she sent out this request throughout every tavern hole- All it says was a good pay and the location of the meeting point. Details will be discussed once there are enough people. Find a woman named the Madame. @Bureku -The Madame's lips curled upward into a smile. It won't be long now.
  3. The trek across Terrenus was long and arduous. Had it been Artemis alone, there was no doubt in her mind she'd have made the travel in a matter of days. Unfortunately those had no been her orders. Instead she was at the head of nearly a thousand trained soldiers. Mixed in with those soldiers were persons of both Ursa Madeum and Taen homage, filled with nothing but excellent skill and intelligence. Many of those following, while soldiers as well, where engineers, architects, builders, and the like. Though they traveled to build, they were also prepared to fight. A the Emperor planned to mingle with the other leaders of Terrenus in order to come to some alliance, A.N.T. she believed it was called, he had also tasked her with constructing a stronghold near Ponkapoag Lake. According to recent rumors among the higher class of Ursa Madeum, the civil war in Terrenus was splitting the land into multiple regions. Each of which was filled with factions of differing ideology and military prowess. The Blue Hills were in central Terrenus, and thus unaffected, but no real leader had shown their face in what the citizens were referring to as the blue region. A few days prior to her departure, Titus had explained himself to Artemis despite her strong urging that as emperor, she wouldn't dare question his orders. He was worried that someone ruthless and powerful would see that the blue region was completely unoccupied and decide it was a good place to put down roots. A large piece of land without a semblance of order or that of a despotic leader was exactly the situation he had just free Ursa Madeum of. He couldn't let something similar occur, even if it was hundreds of miles from Taen and even further from Ursa Madeum. Artemis knew the worries of her lord to be true and thus felt her pride surge like a river. Out of all the people at Emperor Titus' beck and call, he'd chosen her to establish what could result in being the empire's first line of defense again threats from the east. Riding a beautiful white horse to her left, Princess Teresa moaned. "Hey Artemis. How is it possible to ride a horse for so goddamned long? My ass is on fucking fire." Artemis clicked her tongue at the princess' vulgarity. She'd previously had no right to criticize the princess, but among his other orders, Titus had promoted Artemis to the Princess' adviser. Artemis had felt like her heart would burst from her chest in pride. She believed being pulled from Everrun was something akin to a bad omen, but fortunately it had proved to be the stark opposite. "That's not how a princess should speak," Artemis corrected, shaking the blonde strands atop her head. The black horse beneath her neighed in response. "However, it's simply practice. Eventually you'll get used to it." Teresa rolled her eyes. Artemis smiled but didn't say anything. The emperor had warned her that Teresa would be a handful. "How long until we get there? We've been on the road for an eternity." "A few more hours at best, " Artemis answered, reaching into the pocket of her saddle to retrieve a map. "We're just passing Ponkapoag Lake. Our destination is a few miles out from the lake and the haunted glen. Empress Red should be just up ahead though. We're just about at the meeting spot." @Red the Ambivalent
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