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Fierach

The First Feast of Blades

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It was a cloudy day in Predator's Keep. The psionic city was located within the wilds of Terrenus, a small state unto itself. Situated adjacent to it was the mighty citadel known as the Dawn Komturie, first and greatest of the Order of Force Majeure fortress bastions in Valucre. 

The grand land bridge that connected the Komturie to the outskirt walls of Predator's Keep was the hosting place for the starting ceremony. Mid-way through the bridge, the host of warriors, envoys, ambassadors and delegates were assembled at the front, with a mass of spectators behind. Flags of every nation belonging to Terrenus and the ANT coalition lined the spectacle, with a raised platform at the head, where two brass-clad soldiers stood, at least a head above everybody else in their hulking powered armor. Heraldry adorned their shoulders, hands resting on well-crafted battle axes and halberds as they stood sentinel under a flag emblazoned with the vigilant, searing gaze of the Force Majeure. Silver and iron armored Guardians flanked the crowd at intervals, keeping an eye out for trouble, and generally herding them along gently. if firmly.

Behind the assemblage lay the fair city of Predator's Keep, rising above the Labyrinth forest that surrounded it, yet humble in its design as though it were natural for stone and steel to be cast among the forestry. In front of them lay the rest of the Komturie, the temporary residence and quarters for many ambassadors and participants, and above their heads plied airships, both mighty variants designed for war and lighter transport craft and couriers alike. The flagship of the Order of Force Majeure was here, docked at one of the booms of the Komturie that reached into the sky, the Imperator Bellum known to all by its distinctive reinforced prow and stories of its action into the Kadian Harrowing. 

The pavilion at the head of the assembly where the brass elites stood was empty for now, but it would not remain so much longer.

It was time to get ready for a Feast of Blades.

Edited by Fierach

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J1ica8O.jpgAmidst the crowds bustling with excitement for the upcoming opening ceremony, one white haired elf participant set out to traverse across the monumental bridge that stood to connect the Dawn Komturie to the rest of Predator’s Keep. Other than the strange glowing markings that cowered the majority of his skin, the slender and pale elf seemed fairly unremarkable compared to many others attendees that surrounded him.

Larian did his best to not draw attention to himself, even though his appearance served to counteract his efforts.   

The structure was significant display of craftsmanship and architecture without a doubt, however the elf did not bask in the wondrous view that surrounded him as he walked. It was only when he approached two towering knights that his gaze was diverted from his destination and to their decorated and magnificent brass armor. 

He contemplated for a brief moment if his smaller frame would be able to house such hulking protection, but he would brush the subject away without giving it too much thought. It was not the time to distract himself with such thoughts and instead he would be wise to remain focused on the task at hand. For the elf had decided to enter the Feast of Blades for a singular purpose, one that should not be forgotten so easily. 

The anticipation for the ceremony was thing in the air surrounded the crowds. It was clear that many had traveled far to attend and surely expected a grand spectacle.

Larian remained silent where he stood, patiently waiting and watching for the ceremony to commence.


 

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0fee06495b4af73dee90d8d5ea79d5a0.jpgPredator's Keep. A place that Bishop had circled several times, ultimately avoiding it out of fear of what he'd do should he actually visit directly. Especially if he happened to encounter The Scarlet Queen herself. It was irrational of him to actually blame her for the death of his brother, though it was inadvertently her fault for not complying with the Order's demands. A younger him might have already forced his way into her presence to exact his vengeance upon her. However, this more mature iteration of himself was beyond petty revenge. After all, the actual responsible party had already been dispatched. It was taking time to accept his grief, his guilt even, though he at least found some solace in knowing that the fuckers responsible were dead.

Destiny saw fit to draw him here on this day however, in pursuit of achieving two objectives. One was to get a taste of a worth while fight that was more or less sanctioned as to not label himself a criminal in these lands so soon; The other was to reunite with the infamous James Eredas. Despite his unsavory loss to the man at the Battle Arena a long while ago, as much as he'd enjoy it, he wasn't here to press the man for some long over due rematch, but rather to have a little chat about his sister. Word was she had found herself on Valucre before she was spotted back on Gaia Primus for the Heaven or Hell Reunion Tournament. Regrettably he hadn't reached out to her or tried to see her yet, though he attempted to justify himself ever so slightly by learning of her status at least when James had seen her both before and during that very Reunion.

Dressed casually in a plain black hooded shawl, a pair of black cargo pants, each leg conveniently tucked into the neck of his custom cleat-combat boots. With his bloodshot, blue-hazel narrowed into a cold smoldering gaze, a grin crept onto his face seeing how many had already gathered so early on in anticipation of the festivities. Of course most of the bodies present would only be spectating, though just as himself, there were surely other participants bound to be entering and mingling among the crowds. Bishop wasn't sure how his event worked, though he was currently assuming it was more of a one shot exhibition match; Win or lose. Provided it was a full tournament, then he assuredly had his work cut out for him. Either way, he was most interested in scoping out his potential competition as he waited to find out whom he'd be facing directly.

Already his heart rate increased, flooding him with adrenal so suddenly that his hands shook with his excitement. Closing his fists he squeezed them tight, as his hands found his pants pockets. About his waist, the Meta hosted a questionable arsenal on his person. While not permitted in the tournament, he still brought all of his gear with him; Just in case. To his left hip was a pair of Spetznas Ballistic Knives, or at least knives modeled just like them these days. Beside them was his pair of spiked cestus', nestled and bound neatly in a manner incapable of serving him detriment. To his right hip was his custom morning star, and beside it a black box sheath hosting a pair of unique brass knuckles. To his backside was a custom holster, affixed for the odd handgun deposited within it.

Edited by Twitterpated

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From the other end of the bridge, from the direction of the Komturie, a party of individuals approached. Clad differently from the patrolling Guardians and the two silent Greatswords, this group was much more eccentric. There was a man who towered above the rest, clad in in burnished bronzed armor and bearing a sword that looked as though it could cleave through a battle tank standing to one of the sides. There was an individual who looked like a monk, flashes of steel, a scabbard, and cybernetic attachments peeking out from under his robes, the techno-Oriental theme in sharp contrast to his Caucasian visage, one eye covered by an eye-patch. On the other flank stood a young woman, blonde locks peeking out from under her cowl, the rest of her sharply dressed in a uniform-like habit. Silvered braces adorned her wrists, and while she was otherwise unarmed, her pose suggested that she was very much confident regardless. Flanking her was another young man, hair a dirty blonde, the very much the image of a proud, veteran Knight in shining armor. He carried an axe and a shield across his back, and if the other Knights were a presence, he was almost luminous.

They were representative of the true power of the organization, Knights of the Order of Force Majeure, beings of unparalleled martial skill combined with powerful abilities and magic, and tempered with discipline and learning... and then there was the man who led them at the forefront.

James Eredas.

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The Daemonslayer was of modest height, standing at just six feet tall, but he radiated power and presence like none other. He was younger than one might have been expected for a leader of a Knightly Order at thirty years of age, and his features displayed the contrast brilliantly, with hard eyes framed by black hair on a handsome face. He possessed the look of a gentleman of Orient ancestry, with scars on high cheek bones, hidden by harsh shadow. The Master Knight’s armor was the midnight sea, inlaid with the bone of monsters and gilded with crimson silk in a manner that evoked fresh blood. Artificer-wrought steel melded with carved chitin, and bore the signs of frequent use and repair; this was no parade garb.

His right hand laid naturally on the hilt of the blade at his side with a tome chained in iron laid resting on the other. A beast snarled outwards from his waist, emblazoned on a belt that wouldn't have been out of place on a barbarian lord of old, and underneath his left arm he carried a winged helm whose decor was extravagantly long, enough to mark him cleanly as the most important target on any field of battle. A calculated risk taken by one with either incredible confidence or ego.

As the party reached the platform, the Daemonslayer ascended to the podium so he was visible to all now. A low whine was briefly heard as he tested the communicator left for him, and he spoke into it clearly and deeply.

Good day to all of you. I am James Eredas, and I will be your host,” he introduced himself without preamble, without title, his voice carrying far. 

"The Order of Force Majeure bids you all welcome to our bastion. You are all friends here, even if you will become earnest rivals within the day. The Contest of Blades is an honored tradition within the Custodes of the Force Majeure, a contest of skill and martial prowess. Our initiates travel into the Labyrinth Forest to survive by any means against the wild beasts and dangers present, and face off against each other for the right to bear a honed blade and become one more sword in the wall of our martial tradition.” At least, it was so on Valucre. In other realms, Custode initiates undertook somewhat different rites and trials of position, but they all still possessed the same significant dueling element. James would carry on.

With the allied nations of Terrenus and beyond, I am proud to extend our traditions to you all with the first Feast of Blades. A contest of chosen champions and hard-luck prize-fighters. Fought between those who espouse honor, or fame or for simply the fight itself." James pointed out at the crowds, his voice beginning to build up louder.

"To live is to struggle. We are all bound by that fact. Some of us struggle more, some of us less. Some  of us struggle for ourselves, some for others, their nation or their home. In that endeavor we find meaning, in the clash of steel and wills there is a camaraderie and passion seldom found elsewhere. It is in that conflict that often tests our character and brings us together. We are tested!"

He paused, looking out at the assemblage. "We are tested" he repeated with a finality.

Now his gaze hammered through all of the crowd, but the assembled fighters especially. The gaze challenged them, goaded them, from one warrior to another. "Show the world where you break".

Edited by Fierach

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The festivities would commence. The first day would see mostly organization, little true action taking place. Participants and diplomats alike would be led to their temporary accommodations, large and comfortable staterooms on the upper levels of the Komturie expressly built for such purposes. The rules of the contests within the Feast, made known prior to entry, would be further explained in detail. Of particular note were those for Trueblades; ordinary melee weapons of any kind were allowed up to a certain number. Participants were allowed to wear a choice of no armor, or Force Majeure approved training plate or hardened leather. Any worries about equipment familiarity would be addressed as each Custode would be accompanied by a host of expert craftsmen and blacksmiths, taking detailed measurements to ensure that that any equipment would be perfectly tailored and suited to the wielder. They would learn the identity of their first foe the beginning of the next day, the competition day.

Wildblade participants would be brought up to speed on the nature of the hunt, the sorts of potential quarry, all located in the final frontier of this land, the depths of the Labyrinth Forest. They would have the opportunity to meet other participants in their category, and like that of the nations of the ANT, form an alliance for mutual success and achievement. Teams of two were allowed, although a warrior was allowed to hunt alone, given that they understood the risk involved.

The highlight of the day would probably be the Feast. The night before the fights would begin saw everybody invited to the giant mess hall within the Komturie, where an enormous banquet was laid out. Here was a palace of food, a paradise for the stomach, fare for the hale and hearty. It was not the refined delicacies or plated palate of kings or nobles, but sustenance for the vigorous warrior. Various cheeses lay next to freshly baked bread, and assorted vegetables cooked in various styles, next to jugs of wine, milk, water, and fruit juices. Greatest of all were the selection of meats. Grilled calf, ham stir-fry, roast deer, pork shoulder stew, and seared chicken skewers all heaped plates on one end of the hall, ready for the taking. Seafood from Medain Sari Island adorned the other end, three kinds of cooked shrimp, buttered steamed lobster, the most savory of grilled eel and tuna, and the most savory of sauces to go with and it did not even end there, with a large selection of stews still being continually bused in by Custodes Auxiliaries. 

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There were tables and seats everywhere: large, small, round, rectangular, good for a couple or for the largest of delegations. All had a view of the feast table, and at the very head was a long table reserved for the hosts, where James Eredas and the other present Knights of the Order of Force Majeure sat, and welcomed anybody who came up. 

The Individual Event: Trueblade

Entrants

Volentia, the Healer, of the Order of the White Hand (Player: @jaistlyn)

Vadrian Dawnwood (Player: @Die Shize)

Arthur Uskglass (Player: @Voldemort)

Arthantos Thulmann (Player: @Damnatus)

Tzak "The Ripper" Bishop (Player: @Twitterpated)

Mōmoku Akuja Kenshi, "Senjō no Ōkami" (Player: @Etched In Stone)

Caeceila Glasmann (Player: @The Alexandrian)

Dauner Light (Player: @Dauner Light)

---

===

The Hunting Event: Wildblades

Entrants

Lady Yanaihara Koharu, of Datsuzoku (Player: @vielle)

Raion Saikaku (Player: @The Rabbit Emperor)

Nikolai, the Shield Warden (Player: @SteamWarden)

Khakina Khatun (Player: @Thotification)

Larian D'har Cassar (Player: @Moon Owl)

Leoa Melisende (Player: @Aleksei)

---

[This is now a Hub Thread for the first Feast of Blades. Your characters are now welcome to wander and interact within the Dawn Komturie]

Edited by Fierach

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Bearing the simple flag with a shield and a white handprint splashed across it was a paladin in full plate armour; Volentia of the Order of the White Hand, coming alone to represent the forces battling the evils of Yh’mi. Her armour was obviously well-used - the nature of the White Hand having no utility for ceremonial equipment. Her sword and shield strapped to her back were the same ones that spilled the blood of Yh’mi’s monsters, though the training sword at her side was the one to be used in the upcoming tournament.

Volentia’s stance was calm and confident, though the helm that she wore obscured the hint of both excitement and nervousness in her expression. She would have to remove the helm later as part of the tournament rules, and the thought of revealing her visage made her just so slightly uncomfortable. Her stature was tall for her gender, and her corded muscles spoke no lies, but the baby fat on her face betrayed her age. For Volentia was only seventeen years of age, the youngest paladin in the Order of the White Hand.

It had been a dilemma for the White Hand to send someone to attend the event. On the one hand, they were busy with operations to settle the influx of manpower and resources coming in following the A.N.T. Treaty, and on the other hand, the Order was finally starting to gain a foothold into gathering attention towards their cause. Opportunities for exposure like this one would keep the plight of Yh’mi present in people’s minds. Veteran warriors like Fidelitas or Ingel would have been better candidates for the tournament, but Fidelitas at least was much-needed elsewhere. It was Videntia who had convinced Chastity to send Volentia. The youth deserved to see more of the world, Videntia reasoned, and she could learn much from fighting and observing other people. Volentia might be young, but she was no less capable than any of the White Hand paladins. If she secured victory, that would serve to propel the White Hand’s reputation in the public eye and possibly amass them more supporters, and even if she lost, it was still a valuable learning opportunity.

-

Volentia stepped into the banquet hall, with no small amount of wonder. Her assigned room had already been wondrous enough, and she had been almost afraid to touch the pristine bed, worried that the luxury may soften her for the fight tomorrow. She had elected to keep her helm on, which was thankfully not an uncommon sight during this Feast. Besides giving her an official air, she did not wish to give an opportunity for her potential opponents to judge her by her youth before the tournament started. She gave the various dishes on the tables a glance, many of them she knew not the names of. She would bring them to her room later to partake in them privately, but for now she sought out their host, as was proper etiquette.

“Master Eredas,” Volentia raised an open palm over her heart in greeting. “It is good to see you well.” It had been moons ago that James had led an expedition into the caves beneath the Broken Plains in Yh’mi to map them. He had been grievously wounded when he shielded another in his team from the Ghoul protecting the Heart of Darkness. It was by tremendous willpower and strength alone that James had made the trek back to Inns’th with the amount of blood he had lost. Volentia had provided healing aid, but still the man was up on his feet far sooner than she expected. She held deep respect for the master knight.

“Thank you, and your knights, for hosting this event. It is my first tournament, and I suppose I cannot help but feel a little.. nervous. If you don’t mind, may I ask you for your evaluations and pointers when the fights are over?”

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The Blade of the Dawn

wkTcOJo.jpg?1Roaring fires, malt beer and red meat off the bone. Inside the great hall of the Komturie was spread a bounty of food and drink, warmth and shelter, music and conversation, and the hosts and guests to partake in every revelry. Local and foreign dishes were sampled at will, wine was poured by the jug and goblets and glasses clinked as forks and knives clattered against plates. As the festivities ensued, with strangers getting acquainted with one another and with what they put inside their bellies, a group of four individuals sat watching them from a round table near a corner of the hall. These ones had known each other for years.

“It is hard not to admire the might of this place and its people,” came a gravelly voice. The speaker cut his steak with aging hands that did little to hide the might of their making. Ser Benjamin Oakheart, Master-at-arms for the Order of the Dawn, was in his sixties. Those who knew him, however, knew that such age only meant that he could kill six men a minute every six minutes. 

“Then don’t make it hard, Oakheart,” spoke Ser Matthew the Merry, his words carried as casually and boyishly as his shrug. He tipped wine down his throat and smacked his lips, his long, ginger hair brushed back before a female looking at him from an adjacent table. “Nothing wrong with appreciating a great thing. This Keep has it. The curve of its glass, the figure of its steel, the forest beneath its bosom like the hair beneath a wo—”

“Great this Predator’s Keep may be.” It was a third voice who had cut the Cinnamon Knight off, deadpan and bereft of amusement. “Mighty this Order of Force Majeure may be. Great and mighty this Terrenus may be.” Ser Victor Maylong stopped turning his mug upon the tabletop and lifted it to gulp back ale. He set it back down with a thud. “But none so greater or mightier than one Orisian for every one thousand Terrans.” 

Those words had evoked a passage of silence until the table gave way to chuckles. Victor didn’t need tone in his voice to offer humor. Yet, as the men laughed, all of them knew that this was no joke, and that even the truth could be amusing. 

“Almost makes me want to offer my sword to this tournament in place of our lord.” Oakheart followed up while chewing on steak. “I don’t know what it is but these Terrans can rub me the wrong way, size and splendor aside. I do wonder how well they fight. I’d just as much watch you in the ring with them, Victor.”

The Knight Commander returned to absentmindedly turning his mug, staring into its depths. “Maybe one day.” He cleared his throat and looked up. “But the day on the morrow belongs to none of us, and rather to our Blade of the Dawn.”

At that moment, three pairs of eyes were looking one way—toward a fourth that was instead held with a figure who had just walked up to the charismatic Master Knight James Eredas, the host of hosts for both this feast of bellies and the Feast of Blades. The armored figure had greeted him where he sat toward the other end of the hall. The individual was just as much helmeted, which seemed unusual enough, and their heraldry offered no familiarity to their observer, though that was unsurprising since he was himself a foreigner within strange lands. 

“I could always take your place, Lord Vadrian,” Matthew suggested with a smile. “Though I guess that I wouldn’t quite be a direct representative of either the House of Dawnwood or the Order of the Dawn…”

Amber eyes shifted from the soul covered in metal and mystery to the rest of the hall, dancing across dancing flames and dancing figures, musicians and singers, the feast tables and the dining tables, the other guests and participants and the servants who served them, and finally Vadrian Dawnwood’s gaze landed on a banner that hung from the ceiling; the sigil of the Order of the Force Majeure. It showed an ornate blue shield rimmed in gold and silver. What looked like an emerald was centered at the top, a smaller one at the bottom upon a lion's head. On the shield's face were three suns of yellow and black and white, with an eye in the middle. The longer that Vadrian's eyes went without blinking, the more that the lidless eye seemed to stare right into and through him.

“Is it coincidence, I wonder?” Lord Vadrian Dawnwood mused.

“Is what coincidence, my lord?” Ser Benjamin Oakheart asked for all three men.

“That the dawn is under my command in the land we hail from,” Vadrian blinked. “And yet here I am in another land inside the hall named for someone else who makes that very same claim.” The truth is amusing, Vadrian smiled. He looked at the faces of the men whom he had long since learned to call his friends. “Perhaps tomorrow I will find out if fate has led us here after all. Come the morning, when the blades of the sun pierce this Keep that stabs the sky, you and they shall both see the Blade of the Dawn.”

Edited by Die Shize

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@jaistlyn

"Lady Volentia", the Daemonslayer greeted politely the other Knight, but warmly,  standing and giving her his customary salute of one hand clasped over the other before him. "I'm pleased you could make it". James rather liked Volentia, seeing a bit of his own former apprentice Jinsoku in her. They were both young hearts driven to do what was right, full of duty and potential. The incident she referred to was a grim one. All but indestructible, the ghoul was driven off only at combined effort by the entire party acting in concert. James had no doubt it was still alive though, haunting the tainted underground somewhere. James was lucky he survived, although much could also be attributed to emergency aid on the spot in conjunction with his own stubborn refusal to expire. Still... he would head down there once again sometime and find that creature for a proper rematch. 

He nodded at her request, "If you ask I will give you my advice freely. How goes the endeavor in Yh'mi and the rest of the White Hand?" He indicated a woman on his left, a few seats down, where a familar looking blonde garbed in a ceremonial uniform and hood was conversing quietly with another guest. "As you know, Knight (Sheryl) Wainwright just came back from Yh'mi herself. We are rotating our forces there to keep them fresh and spread knowledge on the experiences there."

For that land, the old adage about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure was most definitely true. The slow learners and less savvy fared poorly in Yh'mi.

Edited by Fierach

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After the first round:

The first day’s rounds of combat complete, both combatants would have to retire to their rooms, helped by prompt medical attention by the finest physicians and healers the Force Majeure had on hand. They were additionally tended to by armoureres who would ensure that their borrowed gear was repaired or replaced if necessary, and prepared for the next round. They would have a day’s worth of rest and reflection before the next round, some of them perhaps learning from their hosts that this was different from their internal contest, which was a series of rounds fought almost back-to-back.

This deviance was to be expected however, as this Feast of Blades was more of a diplomatic affair then a true contest, being the first. For one of the contestants however, the day would turn out to be longer.

---

@jaistlyn

"Master Eredas requests the presence of your company" said the Custode who hailed Volentia.

It was a strange request, coming in the evening after dinner, yet it could not really be refused. Where she would be led to was stranger still, into the Komturie itself, to the OFM’s training grounds.

There in one of the pits of the  Dawn Komturie's Charnel House, she would be able to see James. He was training, although the manner of exercise was likely nothing like Volentia had ever seen before. A large automaton with four arms stood before him at a distance of what seemed like twenty meters, and in each of those arms was held a whip that ended in a small barbed tip. The machine lashed out the whips at James, and with each stroke it called out a direction in a robotic voice.

Left. Left. Right. Left. Right. Right. Right. Left. Right. Left. Left. 

If she watched closely, she'd notice the direction called out corresponded to which side the Daemonslayer was using to parry. Both of his hands held a heavy, weighted training gladius, and the warrior was covered in a light sheen of the sweat of exertion and droplets of blood where the barbs had caught and drawn it from him. 

Although James seldom dual-wielded, this exercise trained his ability to do so, alongside his reflexes and coordination. The whips were also much more difficult to defend against then typical weapons like a sword or spear, coming in at sharp, strange angles, and each lash coiled and lengthened as well, subtly changing the curve of every strike. He could only parry with whichever side was called out, and while the weight of the heavy training blades meant that he did not suffer much, if any impact recoil from parrying, their heft depleted his stamina at a rate closer to actual battle. 

Volentia had only heard of the Master Knight defeating one of the giant alpha chittens, and seen the trophy that was taken. Here she could witness for herself insight into just how he accomplished that feat, as he fended off an unyielding and fast barrage of strikes.

"Disengage Program Tiamat" James called out eventually, and the machine winded down all at once, recalling its striking whips and pulling in its arms to a resting state.

"My apologies Lady Volentia, for the wait". The Daemonslayer relaxed in his stance and strode over to the fighting pit's edge, stowing the two weapons in one of the many emplacements alongside the pit's walls. With a small grunt of effort, James climbed the short walls quickly, coming to the same level as Volentia, where a Custode awaited him with a towel.

"Do you like it?" he gestured to the now-dormant machine, and then to others that lined the walls of the fighting pit. Many of them were multi-arm configurations, with all different manner of weapons in their hands, maces, scythes, swords, and shields. "I place a premium on actual fighting experience, and this is as close as it comes. The enemies that our Orders face are vast and varied, and we must be ready for any of them."

He was handed a jacket next, and the man covered up a bit. He didn't want Volentia to think he was trying to seduce her or anything. That would be awkward and improper. Also Selene would kill him and James was perfectly happy with having just one lethally dangerous woman in his life.

"Now, I understand you might be tired after the day's efforts, but I assure you, striking while the iron's hot is a real proverb. So let’s begin with the simple. Why do you think you are here?"
 

Edited by Fierach

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The irascible Meta found himself frustrated with his inability to formally finish the first round. He wasn't mad about having had a formidable opponent, only that they were incapable of finishing one another in a timely manner. As he was tended to by the healers only, he was already puffing on one of those Lho sticks. With a reassuring drag he exhaled the azure tinted smoke. slowly but surely the euphoric sensations began to creep back into his mind, body, and spirit. Suppressing his true nature for however limited a time as it could before he'd be caught smoking another. Unless he found a situation that not even being high could keep him from becoming angry over. Once the healer's finished mending his cut and stab wounds, Bishop returned his morning star to his utility belt and replaced the belt around his waist respectively. Packing his full arsenal once more, he almost wished a mufukka would just so he could flex and show these people what they couldn't see in the formal rounds of the Trueblades event; Unless he opted to break the rules which would earn him nothing more than a swift disqualification. Pacing out among the crowds once more in the cooling air of the eve, Bishop remained topless. He'd eat more first, then perhaps find him a broad or two to keep him company until the start of the next round.

Edited by Twitterpated

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The Iron Wolf

Black holes where eyes should have been gazed out from a steel skull, two slits of darkness above a snout forever sealed, beneath pointed ears that never heard a beat. The helmet was a poor imitation of the real thing, truth be told, where what was real was bone and flesh and fur that breathed with life in a forest that teemed with it, but the symbolism was not lost on the beholder. Hands warmed by beating blood held the cold metal between them, and above them were amber eyes that gazed with longing to see. Man and wolf stared each other down, two heads that could become one in a moment, with one movement of slipping helmet around hair, but that moment was not to be. Not now. Not yet. For now, it was all Vadrian Dawnwood could do to see his soul reflected right back at him from the darkness of two holes where eyes should have been.

The Wolfshelm was as much a helmet as it was an heirloom, carried through the generations of House Dawnwood, worn by the Iron Wolf, who today was the very man that cradled the helm in his lap at the edge of his bed. He had worn it a number of times before, gazing at himself in the mirror, trying to figure out if it were man or beast gazing back at him. He had worn it for ceremony, greeting the peoples of Tryhold as their patron animal that went far beyond mere motif. He had worn it for combat, leading the forces of House Dawnwood into battle against those of House Cardell. He would not wear it today, but it might yet still wear him.

The Wolfshelm had been a gift from the Wolves of Wolfwood Forest all those years ago. The Goran had settled within the trees, those who walked on two legs to keep the four legs in check, and then came the men of the realm, House Talus, to threaten both Wolf and Goran. The Wolves could not leave their forest, their place there was too paramount, too important, and the Goran were not yet ready to venture much farther from the wood they watched. All too fitting, then, that the Knights of the Dawn had decided to defend the forest and its people from those bent on conquest. 

The Goran’s leader and the leader of the Dawn Knights met on the battlefield for the first time, yet it was not their blades that joined but their hearts. Myra Wood was her name, chief of the Goran and Warden of Wolfwood. Ser Lanias Dawn, Grand Master of the Order of the Dawn and Baronet of the Dawn's Keep, was his, but he thereby left his hold and settled in the lands that adjoined with Wolfwood Forest, and he and his people became the Dawnmen. Through the marriage of Myra and Lanias, the Goran and the Dawnmen formed a union, the new House Dawnwood was conceived, the seat of Dawnwatch built and the lands of Tryhold established. And all had lasted up to this day.

As he sat there staring at empty sockets, Vadrian cracked a smile, recalling those words like his father had spoken them yesterday. The son had learned much of what he knew from the stories of the father, ones that were never just stories. As the Blade of the Dawn, Vadrian wielded Daybreak, the ancestral longsword of the Knights of the Dawn. Yet, he also held Wolfshelm, the ancestral helmet of House Dawnwood. With this helm in his hands, the Dawnwoods carried the spirit of the Wolves wherever they went, and when a Dawnwood wore this helm he became the wolf. The Iron Wolf. 

He had to be more than that, he knew. He also had to be the Earl of Tryhold, the Lord of Dawnwatch and the Seigneur of House Dawnwood. He had to serve as a regent of Orisia, the Island of Summer, with all the strength and honor that flowed through the veins of a Dawn Knight—or else his titles and names would mean little and less. 

With a deep sigh that settled some nerves, Vadrian let the reminiscing lead his mind to the mission. From the Feast of Blades, his father might recall the Blade of the Dawn soon enough, one would hope, and the Iron Wolf would in turn be brought to mind by consequence. Would it be enough? I know who I am, Father. Do you? Do you remember your position? Do you remember yorur people? Do you remember your place? Do you remember Orisia? Do you remember your words? ‘A New Dawn Rises’. So where have you fallen, Fendrin Dawnwood? The steel helmet in his hands was as still as stone as Vadrian shook his own head, remembering the last words that his father had given him:

The people of this island are bred and built for summer, for warmth and sun, for swimming in the lakes and toiling in the fields, as you were bred and built to be my son. But a father must take his leave like the leaves from the tree that holds them, and though this island and its people may know their summer like the sons they seeded, little do they know that soon the sun will set, that dawn will turn to dusk, and winter is coming.” 

The curtain rippled against the wind just then, a chill creeping in from the outside, sweeping over Vadrian’s shirtless body as he searched Wolfshelm for an answer. After the wind blows and the rain falls and the sky crackles, the dawn cracks and the sun rises, and what was once so dark a night becomes a new day as bright as a fire fed by wood. Vadrian rose from his bed, set the helmet upon the stand that held the rest of his armor, and paced over to the window, drawing the drapes. The day greeted him, a cool breeze tickling his face and hair. Predator’s Keep was a forest of wood and metal viewed from the Dawn Komturie that rose above. Farther off, the world was a silent mystery, horizons dangling from cloudy skies, as cold and distant as a father who had abandoned his son. Bring on your winter, my lord—and recall, if you do, the name of our island. 

With that, Vadrian closed the drapes and got dressed in attire that did not quite warrant a suit of armor. He slipped on a long-sleeved shirt of orange linen over gray trousers, pulled on boots of black leather and locked the door on his way out. The wolf within would wait, silent and still, while the man ventured throughout the keep of another predator to listen, to learn and to live.

Edited by Die Shize

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@Fierach

Volentia had lost in the end. Caeceila’s stab had drawn blood, and though it was not a particularly debilitating injury, Volentia had yielded to the Glasmann heiress. She wasn’t sure who had the upper hand in pure skill, but Caeceila proved to be the more crafty, and that was a legitimate strategy in battle. Reflecting upon the fight, Volentia realized that she had been too close-minded, and had relied too much on anticipating her opponent’s actions, causing her to be too slow to react.

All these she analyzed while having a quiet simple dinner in her quarters. She had hoped the meal would calm her mind, but the truth was that it was hard to do so when she thought of her next bout tomorrow. The victory or loss of it would determine if she could continue on in the tournament. When the knock on her door came, Volentia had just finished her dinner. Her tournament armour had been sent for repairs, and so she opted to follow the Custode in her arming doublet. It wouldn’t be appropriate to keep the Master Knight waiting.

Volentia looked on in interest as James parried with the strange contraption. His movements were fluid, effective, never wasteful. The young paladin could not help but also admire the way his lean muscles rippled across his back. Not from any feeling of romance, but novelty, from the fact that the White Hand never trained in naked flesh.

“Master Eredas,” she greeted as James approached. “I’ve never seen anything like these before.” Volentia only gave notice to the rest of the machines after James had winded down his training. “When I was at the Church, we had training dummies, but nothing as advanced as these. Now, we only have each other to train with.” She referred to the White Hand, who had neither the resources nor the time for a set up that was as elaborate as this.

”So let’s begin with the simple. Why do you think you are here?"

“To go over where I could have done better this afternoon?” Volentia made a guess. During the night before at the Feast, she requested James to evaluate her fights. Recalling that, Volentia scratched her chin, feeling slightly awkward that she had not put on her best performance. “I had assumed too many things about my opponent,” she offered her own analysis.

Edited by jaistlyn

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@jaistlyn

James nodded solemnly. "In a way, yes. You need to be more open-minded Volentia. Not saying that you might not be already, but as one of the youngest members of the White Hand, you are one of the least experienced... and also its future. Sir Chastity requested that I help broaden your horizons, so to speak." He glanced back at the dormant training machine.

"As you can tell, this automaton is a rough analog to the chhitten alphas that can be found in Yh'mi. I had this specifically set up, and will be donating it, and a few other tools to the White Hand alongside your return to them. However, you cannot only prepare for the threats you know about." He looked contemplative for a moment.

"You see, I believe that Yh'mi is a place where the Empyrean, or the Warp, or whatever name it might go by, what I'm referring to has many-," he added that last line in an undertone sort of fashion, “-seeps through the veil between realms and has corrupted the land itself. It will not be easy to defeat, because ultimately it is a twisted echo of reality, and we of reality can be ever so twisted already. Therefore, although I'm sorry to say that while the White Hand is diminished in size, that is in itself was a strength, as Yh’mi had less to feed on. I worry that the influx of support given can have a negative effect, and give it more fuel to create its horrors”.

He looked back up at Volentia, smiling softly to ease whatever anxiety she might've felt at the ominous theory. "No use worrying too much about it though. Even a battle lost must still be fought." Stepping back now, the Daemonslayer spread his arms to indicate the wider arena. "So lets begin your training."

James held up his right hand, slapping it once with the other for emphasis. His right fist was held rigid, fingers out but together. "What is this to you?"

 

Edited by Fierach

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927a25fe1c9cde47cfa3eaee85908abc.jpg It wouldn't be much longer. Any moment now they should be arriving at their destination; Predator's Keep. For the majority of the ride, Xartia was no bother, and contrary to the opinion of their gracious hostess, he obliged any and all of her obligations without any signs of resistance what so ever. While mysterious and still more or less a stranger to his current company, he ultimately had nothing to hide from them. Once upon a time they'd be incredibly smart to be weary of him. However, since arriving on this world, he'd made wise enough decisions to keep from tarnishing his reputation. In any lasting meaningful way anyway.

He spent his afforded silence in meditation, contemplating on just how his arrival and reception would in fact be. This was his first formal return since the coup of Port Caelum, and without the Prince at that. He doubted that he'd be facing any charges himself, but whatever was left of the counsel expected answers; Lest they already had all the answers they needed. If absolutely nobody else, he was certain he'd have to touch base with James considering the intimate relationship the Scarlet Court obviously held to the Order of Force Majeure. It was of his best interest to have his facts together prior to the start of such a conversation. For he wished not to share more than what was absolutely necessary, without overtly appearing to be dismissive of any details.

Once given confirmation of their inevitable arrival, the Cambion took a deep breath before sighing in exhale. His sparkling, emerald eyes pried themselves open once more, remaining half lidded as he came to stand and stretch. It'd be nice to know if a limb had fallen asleep prior trying to walk on it. Smoothing out the fabrics of his clothing, he finished by running his fingers through his short black hair. Ensuring it was all still neatly swept back, save for those stray bangs that always seemed to defy even pomade. Once instructed, he'd reunite with his new friends and together they'd disembark together. From the looks of things upon arrival, the festival was already in full swing, and quite the success.

@Pasion Pasiva @Dolor Aeternum

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It was difficult to say the match up between he and Bishop held little weight to the fact that both these fighters were limited in their abilities for the sake of the tournament. One simply couldn't gage who was better of out the two because of it. While the Hanyo had trained and lived to fight in war as a warrior, the better entertainer just might have been the Russian on the other hand - still, the foreigner thought about all this in the care of the clinic staff. They repaired the broken elbow, his right foot patched anew suffered from a slight fracture, staring at the reconstructed injuries with his blank white eyes of a blind man next he flexed them, the corresponding arm bending beneath the sleeved fold of his yukata. No doubt in his mind was there, his performance he'd critique today he was challenged by unorthodox fighting methods. This guy Bishop didn't seem to calculate as a Martial Artist, he only stuck to his goal - in his ferocious endeavor to crush Kenshi as quick as possible that was a true fighter. Rising to feet wiggling his right foot, Kenshi bowed to the medics in a small gesture of respect and gratefulness. Handing his belongings first the sheathed two swords and Naginata, well as his geta wooden sandals they offered yet, another glass of cold water before he was on his way out the door and heading to the Feast Hall. The seven Okami from Jigoku awaited at the other end. Barefeet guided him through the corridor into the scent of the delicious namkeens and plates of various entrees. Unlike the other combatants that were present earlier all the Soke ate today was a Fuji apple. His stomach growled intensely, twisting and curling releasing gassy knots. Still, even as he came into the light of the Feast room he re-centered focus into finding an area furthest from the rest that was unoccupied. A lone wolf he was, seemingly reserved even quiet as he passed the others in attendance with little acknowledgment he remained task-oriented nonetheless. Kenshi soon found a table, coming into contact with it in his extension of a guiding foot. The pack realigned themselves gathering around him, yet with their master in the forefront center.

Edited by Etched In Stone

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