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Alexei

Red Line, White Snow [Monster Hunt]

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The small village of Frostfall sat between the borders of what had once been Ballard Bay and the Cold South. While its appearance was rather rustic, it had been one of the more recent villages to receive the full weight of the Corvinite’s technological support and advancements. Provided with electricity and running water, the hope was to raise the quality of life. All to gain the favor of the people, showing them that the Imperial government under Neronius valued them as much as they valued their own. So far, it seemed to have been working, whatever unrest that did happen was minimal, at best. The places a favorable light on the man known as Neronius and the vast imperium as a whole.

Snow still clung to the southern reaches, pristine white blanketed the surrounding grounds and the rooftops. While to the North the snows had already begun to melt, if only in the areas where the snow could reach; thawing the ground and readying itself for the planting season. Here, such was not the case. The snows took longer to melt, and in the extreme south, still fell. Spring came slowly here, and did not last overlong. It was short and rainy, which presented its own problems. Still the people here survived, and were some of the most hardy people in Genesaris.

It was in this village that Blackwatch had found itself, their first mission since abandoning Patia and its unworthy monarch. It had been through a contact of his own that he had managed to swiftly move away from Terrenus. Not only from under the Patian king’s own nose, but the noses of his own men. They didn’t know why he had ordered them to the eastern coast of Terrenus, believing that is was another independant mission. It was only after collecting all of them in one room, with sigils and wards for privacy and protection; that he revealed his intentions. They had been shocked to say the least.

Many had already grown tired of the king’s ways, his lack of action. Others it had taken some convincing, but ultimately they too saw this as a chance to do something of worth. They all knew of Corvinus, the former Roanist knight that had defected to Orisia, then ultimately too moved on. Building his own throne and empire in his image. Not only had he already accomplished such a great feat, he had moved to make so much more. For soldiers without confidence in a cause, or a worthy monarch; this was an attractive place.

So here they had come.

The entire Blackwatch Company had rented out the massive inn at the center of town, the mayor's own business. They had also rented out quite a few other homes that had been empty since the Whispernight. It was here that Llewelyn, Captain of the Blackwatch Company; resided with the numerous other officer.He sat at a long table, a map stretched out before him depicting the entire region. They had been sent here after being refitted, this was to be a chance to prove their seriousness and ability. Simple though it was, this Monster Hunt was a valuable political tool for Neronius.

He had already made plans to mobilize several units to travel around the countryside, sending regular messages of where a large grouping of monsters or beasts were spotted. Then they would group together as one and smash them. Now he simply waited for the officers of important to join him, as well as a few newer members. Two young girls. One the daughter of his contact, the other quite the esteemed one. Princess Novalie, the daughter of Corvinus. Why he would have her sent to him was a mystery, perhaps a show of trust. Or a test. Either way it didn’t matter. He sat back in his chair, armored arms crossed before his chest. He was a handsome man, stern in jaw, long black hair swept back. He had an eye patch, covering the damaged socket from an orc long ago. His appearance made the locals wary enough not to approach his table.

@Aleksei @Maverick

Edited by Alexei

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A light drizzle fell upon the small village, the young girl's steps splashing audibly on the cobblestone of the main street while the harsh sound of the travel case followed behind her. She held her free hand high to her chest trying to cover it with the oversized sleeve of her ensemble, a cute, frog-motif raincoat covering her white blouse and leggings combo completed with stylish black boots. It felt strange for her to be using her mother's clothes, but it was the only inheritance she could take with her on the journey. Luckily, her body proportions weren't too different.

Her eyes scanned around for the inn described on her father's notes, looking through some strands of her unnaturally colored turquoise hair. It was at this moment that she noticed the common gentry of the place staring at her in puzzlement, doubtlessly because of her exhuberant appearance combined with the pair of blades sheathed on her back looking mighty out of place for a girl of her size and apparent age. She took it in strides, however, and tried to give every single idle stare a cheerful smile, with mixed but mostly positive results.

Finally standing in front of the large inn, she took a deep breath and walked to the entrance.

Two menacing looking Blackwatch Knights stood in front of the entrance, eyeing her diminutive figure approach them. One of them looked apathetic to whole situation, while the other looked confused beyond words.

"Hello!" She began with a cheerful melodic voice. "Are these the Blackwatch headquarters?"

"Uh... Yes?" The confused knight said. "What is your business?"

The girl raised her arm for a handshake and smiled.

"My name is Ellyna, I'm your new sister!" She exclaimed nonchalantly.

The apathetic knight released a chuckle while the confused one gave the girl a wide eyed stare, most likely because of how this is the strangest thing to happen to his day since their arrival to the small town of Frostfall.

"Are you lost girl? Do you need us to look for your family?" The confused Knight said.

"Shut it Wedge, the girl is carrying swords bigger than your head." The other knight pointed out to his innocent companion before continuing. "Who sent you miss? We can't just let you in without a reason."

The girl blinked cutely to the pair of knights, a little puzzled, before materializing a letter neatly wrapped in official looking signs. The knight read it closely and nodded.

"So you are looking for the boss." He asked rather coldly.

Ellyna nodded happily and smiled. The knight sighed and moved away from the entrance.

"It's official business then. Just don't look into his eye too much... And, don't tell her I told you that."

The girl stepped into the inn with a happy step, the ruckus of her travel case against the wooden floor giving her away. She gazed around the room until finally finding Lewellyn in the long table with the strategy map on it. She walked to the table promptly and with spring in her step, smiling all the way until she was standing before the man himself.

"Hello sir. I believe you are my uncle Lewellyn!" She said. "Father has sent me here to be under your care. Though I assure you, I'm a big girl and I can take care of myself!"

She extended another letter, this time a more quaint looking one, like one someone would send to a penpal. If the Blackwatch Commander would read it, he would read the following.

"Esteemed Commander Lewellyn Penderghast.

I realize that my previous letter stating the arrival of my daughter to your service has already arrived to your hands, but I believe I owe some explanation. I am currently being chased by a group of people obsessed over my previous work for the Alterion government. Right now I cannot fully unravel the reasons of why or who exactly is after me, however, rest assured that your generosity will not go unrewarded. I know that we haven't spoken in a long time Commander, and that however brief it was our work together, you are the only one I can trust right now.

Ellyna is very naive, overly cheerful and perhaps too curious for her own good, but her combat abilities are outstanding and she has other abilities that I'm sure will prove useful to your organization. The only favor I could ask of you is for you to protect her and teach her while I cannot, like any father would. It is a massive burden I understand, but I swear on my honor that I will be forever indebted to you.

I still remember that Ale I owe you, don't think I have forgotten.

Once again eternally grateful for your help.

Dr. Eliazar Garniel."

The girl remained silent, but smiling in front of who she considered her new caretaker.

"Let me know if you need some music to be played, Uncle." She exclaimed, bobbing softly as if enjoying a tune only her could hear.

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Emile Gareau had barely had time to get adjusted to life in Patia before it had been announced that the Blackwatch was leaving the country to join with the Corvinite Imperium. Though there had been some whispers among the men about the decision, all of them had ended up making the journey. While some had been conflicted about leaving Patia, Emile had cared little, as traveling far and wide often came with being a Gareau. Besides, a soldiers job was not to ask questions, but to follow their leaders orders. Besides, many in the ranks had been growing discontent with the way the king of their former country had been running things. 

Now as he walked down the snowy streets to the main building to be briefed upon the mission, he felt like a man with renewed purpose. They had done almost nothing during their time in Patia, and the inactivity had been worse than any battle. Now they had a clear goal; hunt monsters, and prove their worth to their new host. A ghost of a smile crossed his lips at the thought of finally being able to hunt once again. Battle was in his blood after all; and one could only keep a wolf on a leash for so long. 

The young Gareau snapped a salute to the men guarding the entrance and made his way into the meeting room. Aside from his commanding officer, there was also a young girl wearing a frog coat. The girls unusual appearance threw off his stride for a moment, but he quickly recovered and saluted Penderghast.

"Captain Gareau reporting for duty sir!"

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H1kdWBK.pngNero told her that it would be okay, and she wholeheartedly believes in his word. Her father had insisted that such a choice was a good one, and she was never one to doubt him. Both men held the young woman in high-esteem, though it could be because she is sister to Nero and daughter to Corvinus. Novalie has worked very hard to find her place in their growing Empires, and with this, she feels as if she has. Unable to stay in one place, wanting to expand outside of Kadia, and needing to be productive in an Empire that is in part her responsibility; the Black Watch was a suggestion, and she took it as an opportunity.

The men at the door instantly dropped to their knees upon her arrival. She wasn't sure what to do about that, especially since she does not want special treatment nor a real acknowledgment that there is a hefty crown floating above her head. Seconds of awkwardness float between her and them, before she touched one man's shoulder and told him to rise.

"There's no need for any of that, sir!"

Her voice conflicted the rest of her. A small woman garbed in the darkness of the Black Watch attire; she looked like she couldn't even kill a fly, let alone a monster. In her voice she held the conviction of any leader and the strength of any fighter, making her an appropriate combination of her father and mother.

"Treat me equally, not formally."

Her gloved hand gave both gentlemen a quick pat on their shoulders before she slithers through the door. A soft hush washed through the inn, leaving her to stand silently just over the threshold to examine the various faces littering her surroundings. There were some she knew and others that remain unfamiliar, not that it directly mattered, she acknowledged them all with the same gaze that was neutral in its long stare. A mastered look you could say!

Impractical heels click across the floor as she approaches the table; the air returns to the inn and sound begins to trickle through the brief silence.

"Captain Llewelyn."

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“Uncle?” He questioned, more to himself than to the girl, who had for the better part caught him by surprise as he was studying the map. After a moment his eye fell to the extended letter, he recognized the seal. Opening it his one eye glided across the words written on the paper, a slight smile touched his lips. “Ah, so its you.” He said, folding the letter and holding it over a candle, he let it burn a moment before placing it in an empty tankard. “That should so it. In any case, we all take care of each other in Blackwatch; simply just pull your own weight and learn. You should do fine.” He said, giving the child a pat on the head. “Perhaps in a while, Ellyna.”

The next moment another newcomer approached him, one he had also expected. “Pleasure, Captain.” He stated smoothly, rising from his seat. “I have been expecting you since I received word from Kadia.” He returned the man’s salute with a thump of his metalshod fist against his breastplate. “I have acquired a unit that uses rifles much like yours from what I have been told, it would be beneficial if you could use your experience in their use to lead the men. Perhaps even to recruit and train some new ones.” He offered. It seemed the Blackwatch was gaining quite a few new additions as well as a refitting in gear.

The next to enter drew his attention, the silence of her entry easily drawing his one-eyed gaze into her direction. “He offered her a slight bow, more of a sign of respect to her station; perhaps even an admission of being equals. Her station wasn’t something to be shunned or disregarded, it was to be acknowledged. “You’re highness.” He said simply, his gaze commanding. “It was a surprise that your father saw my command fitting enough to send one of his own flesh and blood. Welcome to the Blackwatch” He said, rising and facing her head on. Her station would not earn any other special favors than a formal greeting.

“Now that the three of you are here, let's get to business, shall we?” His question was more a command as he gestured for them to gather around the table. “I believe you two have already received word of our purpose here in this region, yes?” He waited for them each to confirm before settling his gaze once more on Ellyna. “We are to consolidate this region, and ensure their loyalty to the Corvinite Imperium. To do that we must hunt some monsters that have managed to either escape Ballard Bay’s blockade or managed to survive out in the wilds to terrorise the smaller settlement since the Whispernight.” He said, gesturing to points on the map; noting several estimated locations.

“This should be fairly easy, and a chance for some of you to learn the basics of unit tactics and command. Particularly you two.” He said the last as he noted both Emile and Novalie with a stare each. “In your case Ellyna, you will operate inside my unit. Watch, learn, and follow my orders.” He said simply, there was nothing more than that to say on the matter. “I know the two of you have had formal military training, and you, Ellyna; I have heard word of you abilities in combat. Now you must learn to work as a team. The Blackwatch never fights on its own, honorable duels are for those pompous fools.” He glanced at each of them. “Save honor for the tournaments, on the battlefield it means less than nothing.”

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Little had passed before more people arrived to the Inn. Ellyna watched the captain stand at attention in front of Llewellyn, an act she found endearing if only to be able to copy such formal movements. She smiled at the man, name and rank already stated, before she hastily patted him in the arm and waved at him in an exagerated motion.

"Hello Captain Gareau... Did I... Did I say it right?" She asked. "I'm Ellyna Garniel, I hope we can be good Blackwatch siblings!"

The inn suddenly fell silent for a few seconds as another person, this time a girl, stepped into the building. From her position, Ellyna could not identify her very well. As she started moving forward, however, her optics focused on her face, a near inaudible zoom-in sound breaking the monotonal whispers of the surroundings. She giggled as the positronic part of her brain brought up the information stored... Her uncle's words only confirming her data that this girl was in fact Princess Novalie of the Corvinite Empire.

Ellyna was going to say something to her before being interrupted by Captain Llewellyn.

On 3/29/2018 at 6:02 AM, Alexei said:

“Now that the three of you are here, let's get to business, shall we?”

The plan seemed simple enough, the girl assimilating and gathering all information necessary about the quest in hand. She paid attention quite firmly as a matter of fact, going from peppy to focused in a second. A hunt was a quest of many stages, but her job there was a simple as it came. Watch, learn, and follow orders.

"The Blackwatch never fights on it's own..." She repeated after the captain.

On 3/29/2018 at 6:02 AM, Alexei said:

“Save honor for the tournaments, on the battlefield it means less than nothing.”

"Yes Uncle... I mean... Captain!" She answered firmly, with a slight smile on her face.

Ellyna then turned towards Novalie.

"My data says you are Novalie, daughter of Emperor Corvinus." She said rather matter-of-factly before returning back to her overexciting self. "A real life princess right in front of me! And we get to be family too!... Sort of."

Ellyna hugged Novalie's arm affectionately before jumping back and extending her hand.

"Sorry... A little overexcited. I'm Ellyna Garniel, your new sister from now on." She continued, giggling happily. "Can't wait to begin learning from AND with you."

Hopefully, she thought, they wouldn't find her as annoying.

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Ah, so that helped explain part of why he had been made a Captain in the Blackwatch. Emile was under no illusions that his families status within the Kadian empire had contributed to his rank in the newly formed organization; but it was nice to know that his promotion hadn't been entirely political. Though he had asked for no favors; he had heard the whispers among the men about his supposed worthiness, or lack there of. Most of that talk had disappeared when he had shown up to an improvised range in the village to practice with his rifle. Feeling like showing off after all the doubting of his abilities; he had made a wager with one of the men to go out to the end of the range (about a hundred yards) and hold up a gold piece in the air, and Emile would shoot it out of his hands without harming him. Though reluctant, the man had obliged, and Emile had done as he had said. He'd then drawn one of his revolvers and shot the coin three more times before letting it hit the ground. 

In his mind that little display had put any matter of his qualifications to rest; but now that he was to be given command over a rifle squad of his own, there could be no doubt. Emile wasn't here to be a showboat though; and he fully intended to pull his weight in the Watch. He would turn these men into world class marksman; and prove both his and his families worth to the world. He grinned and snapped out another salute to Lewellyn once the man had finished speaking

"Thank you, sir!"

On 4/3/2018 at 12:53 PM, Maverick said:

"Hello Captain Gareau... Did I... Did I say it right?" She asked. "I'm Ellyna Garniel, I hope we can be good Blackwatch siblings!"

Emile looked down at the young girl; still not sure what to make of the oddly dressed addition to the Watch. He didn't doubt her skill in combat; as he knew that every member of the Blackwatch was absolutely lethal in combat, but she was still strange. But she was at least cheerful; and that was a quality that was often in short supply on a battlefield. So he smiled down at her, and responded.

"Your pronouncing the last part Gah-rew, when it's more like Gah-row; but don't worry, lots of people make that mistake. I'm sure we'll get along just fine."

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H1kdWBK.png"I am completely honored."

Novalie has a very ready smile for Ellyna, pleased by the other females exuberance towards meeting her and the rest. Having another sister doesn't daunt her any if anything it makes her a little more excited to be part of such a lively group. Being a younger and older sibling to many, she feels extremely comfortable with the excitable sister she has now acquired. 

"I am indeed," Novalie grasped her sister's hand and gave it a firm shake, "but I'm afraid I won't live up to the rest of the princesses you find fairytales."

Darim would tickle Ellyna's creative juices. Novalie's older sister is dark of hair and eye, with a voice sweet as the most elegant honey, and she can do all the princess-like things you expect a princess to do. One day she will marry a man that will treat her like an equal, but give her a comfortable life outside the circle of vultures, politics, and backstabbing of royals. Darim is a complete contradiction to the woman that stands here now, shaking the hands of new friends and becoming a sister to strangers. 

There wasn't much time to introduce herself and talk shop with her other companion, but that time will come, and he appears to be more interested in Ellyna. For the moment that sat well with her, because her attention was given to their honorable leader. A very bright and unwavering gaze watched Llewelyn's mouth move whenever he talked; there was something pleasant in the way it moved and shaped words. 

Breaking away, she looked at the map with keen interest. He spoke of monsters, the heart of why they are here and the soul that waters their growing intentions. She eyed the areas, but one in particular stuck out to her and without real thought, she tapped a finger against the length of the Cold Mountains. Will they be doing something there? Her brother could benefit having his flag planted there, and the people there could also benefit from their assistance. The way the mountains are situated, just a beautiful expansive array of peaks cutting through Genesaris like a knife - they are needed.

"I'm delighted to work with such an amazing group of people," she lifted her finger away from the map to look at the group evenly. Her smile never wavered.

Edited by Aleksei

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“Good, good.” He said with a nod to Ellyna. She had promise, that much he could see, and her father had given him enough details to know she would be a great addition to his force. She showed great interest and focus on his words, there was a great deal more to the child than just what could be perceived on the surface. He intended to explore her abilities carefully and in a steady manner. Cultivate her properly and there is no telling where her potential will take her in Blackwatch. He supposed that would be revealed in time.

His attention returned to Emile, his eyes looking at him thoughtfully for a moment. He knew little of the group her hailed from, though Corvinus had given him the promise that he would be quite useful in advancing the skills and flexibility of his men. “No need, soldier.” He said, returning the salute. They shouldn’t thank him just yet, as they might very well come to curse him. The Blackwatch would be a hard life, even for the experienced mercenary. To hold the red line at the cost of your own was no easy thing.

His one eyes followed Novalie’s finger keenly, but did not linger over long on the spot that she paused at. Such frightening insight, that was to be expected. His metalclad finger traced along the border villages of what had once been the Southern Swell. “These are the areas that have requested out aid the most.” He said, tapping three specific points, a clear pattern that led ever closer into the Cold South. “Whatever these creatures are, their intent in clear. They are making their way east.” His finger tapped thoughtfully as he considered something.

“We are not sure of anything where this is concerned. Details of their appearance vary, but what remains evident is that they have a pattern and leave few survivors.” He ran his finger along the road. “I will be taking you lot, with a number of veterans to hunt them down.” He settled his one-eyes gaze on Emile. “I will be giving you the new compliment of riflemen to lead, we will use this as a test.” His eye then fell on both Novalie and Ellyna. “You two will fall under my direct command, this way I can assess your skills and then place you properly.” He then fixed them all with a stare. “If you have any thoughts, voice them now.”

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On 4/5/2018 at 4:11 AM, danzilla3 said:

"Your pronouncing the last part Gah-rew, when it's more like Gah-row; but don't worry, lots of people make that mistake. I'm sure we'll get along just fine."

Ellyna nodded happily, practicing the pronunciation a few times in her head for safekeeping before patting the man's arm and turning to face Novalie.

On 4/9/2018 at 9:41 PM, Aleksei said:

"I am completely honored."

Novalie has a very ready smile for Ellyna, pleased by the other females exuberance towards meeting her and the rest. Having another sister doesn't daunt her any if anything it makes her a little more excited to be part of such a lively group. Being a younger and older sibling to many, she feels extremely comfortable with the excitable sister she has now acquired. 

"I am indeed," Novalie grasped her sister's hand and gave it a firm shake, "but I'm afraid I won't live up to the rest of the princesses you find fairytales."

"Ah, don't worry about that. You already look the part I asure you!" She said to her new sister, shaking her hand.

"If anything, I am the one honored to meet you haha!"

Ellyna then faced Lord Llewellyn again as he began speaking. The way he spoke reminded her of the teachers and professors in her father's educational videos, men and women of stern but pleasing attitude, carrying the crowd through their words with explanations and hand gestures. In her mind, the plan lacked a few essential components, as they had no specifics on their marks. However, a company of veterans was a solid option as they would be the most adapted to change and on-the-move strategies. Ellyna scanned the map, her eyes flickering as the information imprinted on the digital part of her brain.

"Done." She whispered in a soft tone as the captain finished talking. "I have stored the information from the map, if you need to review it just tell me yes?" She continued excitingly.

"My only question is... Where can I put my things? Oh... I have to change into my armor..."

Ellyna looked around for a place to change, her naivety coming out to play once again as her lack of questions would denote. However, in her mind at least, she had all the information she needed and would need to be of as much help as she could in the mission to come. When pointed, she would excuse herself and walk cheerfully towards the room for a few minutes, returning already doning her suit of Blackwatch Armor and her pair of blades hanging from the sheaths on her back. She walked back to her place next to Novalie and began humming once again.

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@Aleksei @Maverick

“You two will share a tent with the other female knights.” He said, gesturing to one who stood by in the main tent. “I will call you all to me in the morning, and we will begin our mission then.” He said, his one eyes looking at the others thoughtfully. When Ellyna requested a place to change, he had one of the knights give her directions to the tent. “Don’t unpack anything of yours, we will be moving around quite a bit during the hunt, so it will be some time before we return to the main camp.” He said.

He waited patiently, comfortable with silence that stretched, even with the emperor’s daughter before him.

“You’re armor fits well.” He stated, a mild compliment. “Alright, you two bring your gear and baggage to the tent assigned to you. In the morning I will have you called upon and horses will be prepared.” He said. “Dismissed, and sleep well. We’ll have a long ride, and the weather is going to be difficult on those not yet accustomed to it.” He said, and with a gesture he dismissed them both. Regardless, the two of them will be in for a difficult time, though not everything he said was entirely untrue.


The next day was bright, but cold. The blue sky caused the snow to bright sparkle, and the girls were advised by the other knights to apply charcoal under the eyes. Snow Blindness was just as much a threat as the beasts and cold here in these harsh lands. They would have enough time to break their fast before being called to the makeshift stables. When they arrived, they would find Llewelyn already mounted on a black stallion with a haughty temperament. It snorted and shook its head, pawing the ground as they approached.

The Novalie and Ellyna would find a dapple grey mare and a roan stallion saddled for each of them. “Get your gear tied to your saddles and mount up. We will be riding well into the evening so we’ll stop rarely, and eating will be done on horseback.” He said, gesturing to the horses before them. He was a natural in the saddle, his mody adjusting smoothly to the movements of his warhorse, that it could not be noticed. He waited until they were mounted before continuing to speak.

“You two will ride behind be at my left and right flanks, respectively.” He gestured for Novalie to ride at his right, a Ellyna at his left. They would find themselves in a ‘V’ formation, and group of thirty knights in total. Archers too were mounted at the rear, but in a straight line formation with the gear. On foot were the pikemen, whose weapons were loaded onto carts along with the foodstuffs. Alright, let's go, we’ll be taking a more roundabout route, to cover any holes missed by my main forces.” He said, though it was not the truth. That would be given once they were well on their way.

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They road at an easy pace following the snow covered roads, still busy even at this time of year. Luckily it had not been completely covered by the snow, otherwise traveling would have been much slower. For hours they traveled northeast into what had once been the Southern Swell. Llewelyn contemplated that for a moment, how the world was changing. A new Empire that stretched from here to Tellus Mater, The North had now bent it’s knee to another. There was a strange wind blowing from the Rising West. Terrus too was undergoing change.

His one eye ran over the snowy landscape, more habit than conscious.

“Keep your eyes open, even during this weather bandits and beastmen still pose danger.” He warned, loosening his sword in it’s scabbard--attached to the left side of his saddle. “The creatures we’re hunting have seven limbs nine eyes--humanoid, but highly asymmetrical with no mouths.” He looked around for a moment, before leaning  settling his eye on them. “They are fast and strong, so make sure you fight one in pairs.” He cautioned before turning around again.

All the while he led them gradually further east, taking roundabout roads.

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Ellyna could barely contain her happiness as she was given her own horse to ride. The girl rode excitedly for the first few hours, chatting softly to her horse and petting it's hair between glances towards the road and her companions. So far, the road seemed easy and calm, with snow covering most of it but not to the point of slowing them down. 

She smiled to Novalie a few times, keeping an eye on her surroundings as well as her senses sharp on picking any disturbances nearby.

"These roads are so pretty... Much more than the pictures could ever show me. I'm glad I came here!" She expressed to the group. "With a group like us I'm sure our mission will be succesful!" 

The road stretched for hours on end, and the more time it passed, the more thoughtful everyone became. If only because of boredom, Ellyna began humming a cheerful tune. Some of the pikemen at her side seemed to enjoy it, sometimes humming along with her or giving her nods of approval. Sure enough, she kept her side of the group's morale as high as she could muster, making some friendly chatter and giving them some tunes to march to as well. 

It was only as the captain spoke that she noticed how pensive he was. He spoke of odd creatures, her eyes twinkling as her brain tried to search for relevant data, to no avail. 

"Seven limbs, nine eyes, no mouths... My databanks show no match Uncle." She said to her commander. "I'll keep my sensors up." 

She then turned to Novalie. "Do you know anything about these creatures, sis?" 

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“I have no doubt they wouldn’t. These creatures are fair new to this world, brought on by the Whispernight and cultists tapping into the power of the Immaterium.” He said, his face taking on a grim expression. Those who dabbled in chaos never were any good, the rumors of the Patian devil playing with such forces did not end well. Word of sacrifice, and dark creatures of madness beneath his castle. Things that twisted humans into one of them. The Imperium seemed to be the only nation to stand against such acts, often in ways that many complained too harsh.

But what did those fools know about what must be done?

The sun began to rise higher in the sky, marking that it was close to noon. They had ridden steadily and made good time, and the weather had been good to them. He looked to his right, and in the distance Shrine City was quite clear to everyone’s view. Though the roundabout paths had brought the nearly past it, the mega city was in clear view just a bit behind them. He took in a deep breath, then let it out in a cloud of mist into the cold air.

“As you can see, we are not going where I have said.” He stated plainly, turning his horse about so that he could meet each of their gazes. The soldiers escorting them were of little concern in this, as they had already become well accustomed to the nature of their Commander. Secretive, never sharing his plans until the last moment, or only allowing them to figure it out the moment of its initiation. Only the too proud would find his distrust insulting, while those loyal understood the necessity of it.

“We are heading to the Cold Mountains, particularly the southernmost range, Mount Eira. I have orders to spearhead an outpost there by the orders of the Kaiser.” He stated plainly, his horse shifting its weight, snorting. “If you have any objections, state them now, or it will be too late to turn back.” He looked to Ellyna and Novalie, his one remaining eye piercing and calm.

@Maverick @Aleksei

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H1kdWBK.pngIt's clear that Novalie has an easygoing smile that's permanently planted on her lips, but the smile she wore today was a little more honest. When applying the charcoal beneath her eyes, she was reminded of the games she and her siblings used to play. 

Desmond had snuck herself and Olympia into the armory, allowing the girls to indulge in his expansive knowledge of armors and swords. Neither their mother or father were against their children wielding weaponry; just they had planted caution and reason into the minds of their children. It was inappropriate just nilly-willy to swing a sword and bash things with a shield; safe to say the bunch got a scolding afterward, but nothing else. The memory of the three with charcoal wrinkled by their smiles beneath their eyes made this change ... comfortable. 

Readied, the young woman made her way to the haughty Llewelyn casually propped atop his wild horse. The princess took a second to examine the creature before letting out an airy laugh; it was handsome, handsome enough to scare her mother. Accustomed to riding, she found herself comfortable preparing and mounting her mare, not at all flinching at the prospect of a long trail ahead of them all. Her father would have his children often accompany him to various parts of Kadia on horseback, keeping them all aware that the world outside Kadia is not as technologically advanced or as comfortable.

During their ride, she would smile at Ellyna and exchange casual conversation, growing more and more comfortable in the company of her sister in arms. Between snippets of talk, she kept her attention spread around herself and the group, something at the back of her mind urging her to do so. Something was telling her to look around, see what they were passing, what paths they were taking.

And that something quickly came to her as a form of realization of where they were. The heart in her chest beat to the word of home; Shrine City sparkled like an enormous gem of black, and she reached out to it. Too long has it been since she's wandered the halls of her home or infiltrated the rings surrounding it. Kadia is her birthplace, but it's Shrine City that holds many memories and feelings for Novalie, and she yearns to go and hide Nero's crown beneath a servants pillow. The castle holds various ranges of laughter and giggles were permanently painting the walls; in a sense, it was a relic of happiness for most of the Melisende brood. 

With the city behind them and her hands returned to the reins, she listens to their leader with piqued interest. 

"There is a minor band of priests and priestesses inhabiting Mount Eira," she says, tapping into the well of memories. "Their numbers may be thin now, but they may serve useful for this outpost."

Though home is precious and she loves it much, it is a cage she has escaped multiple times. Desmond had suggested the wandering tribe of holy sayers, knowing that in their company she may find peace or at least obtain an understanding of such. His letters had described them in rich detail, and now she wished she had kept them, not that her memory is terrible; she would rather have certainty in words at her fingertips. Nonetheless, if they were to come across these priests and priestesses, they may remember Novalie kindly. 

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