Author Topic: The Road of War  (Read 4218 times)

Lucius DeAuster

  • Moderator
  • Old Wyrm
  • *
  • Posts: 311
    • View Profile
Re: The Road of War
« Reply #45 on: June 04, 2011, 11:01:35 PM »
Two of the Terranthi had pushed through the melee, intent on getting to a hatch leading to the hold in an attempt to set off the powder stores of the Kuru?s cannons. Throwing open the hatch, the first came face to face with Kitian?s secret weapon: a berserker of Guillaer in full battle armor, wielding a battleaxe in each hand. Before he could shout a warning the sailor was nearly hacked in twain, his companion barely able to turn to run before he was cut down, his spine severed by the wicked edge of the duegar-forged weapons.
   
Five of the Northras berserkers had been lurking in the Kuru?s hold, and now they swarmed onto the deck, hacking at any wearing the colors of the Terranthi navy. The Kuru?s crew gave the armored warriors plenty of room, but the five quickly charged the rail and leaped onto the deck of the Victory, setting on the remaining sailors there with gleeful abandon. Kitian?s crew cheered even as they beat back the Terranthi, and Karenthesis prepared to lead a charge onto the Victory.

Kitian, having slain a third sailor and finding no others nearby, started back up the stairs, but movement in the corner of her eye made her pause and look back toward the bow. Behind Karenthesis and his assembled crewmen one of the enemies stirred on the deck, struggling to pull himself up against the wheel upon which the Kuru?s starboard anchor was coiled. A flash of horrified insight had Kitian leaping back down the stairs. ?Kar, stop him!? Her brother, unable to hear her over the din, looked at her in puzzlement, but at her frantic pointing he darted a look behind, his own eyes widening in surprise. He turned and started to pull a crewman to the side to start that way even as his sister charged over the deck.

A shaking hand grabbed the release for the anchor, and the weight of a rapidly-dying body pulled it down, sending the anchor splashing to the water and downward. Even as Karenthesis?s hand touched the release to yank it up the anchor reached the bottom and snagged on the bed of the bay. With a shriek of ripping wood the two ships parted, the Kuru nearly standing on her nose as the anchor stopped her abruptly, her momentum carrying the stern out of the water and nearly half around, the ship wallowing deep into the ocean to end up facing the way she had just come. Men and women tumbled in all directions, some thrown into the water as the Kuru settled back with a large splash.

Dazed, Kitian slowly came to one knee, blinking her eyes rapidly as she focused her swimming vision. Karenthesis lay sprawled near her, one leg hanging off the deck where he had been thrown against the railing. Cursing softly, she watched the Victory as it headed for the mouth of the bay, picking up speed as her sails caught the wind. Sails that were suddenly perforated, the main topgallant mast slamming to the deck as it was blown in two. Belatedly Kitian realized that she was hearing the loud reports of cannon, and for a second thought Lynch was giving pursuit to the escaping ship.

?Ship to starboard!? One of her crewmen yelled, pointing toward the small peninsula that formed one edge of the bay?s mouth. Lurking there, hidden by the trees on the peninsula until the Kuru and the Victory had moved so far out, another ship was moving to intercept the Victory. Not a galleon, this ship was a full-rigged ship of the line with three decks of cannon, all of which were wreathing the Victory in fire. Adding to the din was the loud hiss of superheated air as a fireball raced across the space between the two ships, exploding at the mid-ship waterline.
   
Two volleys and the Terranthi ship was already noticeably sinking, her crew struggling to launch life rafts and abandon the doomed ship. Kitian took another look at the warship, and with a start recognized the colors flying as those of the navy of Dragons Land. That raised more questions in the young noblewoman, but questions would have to wait. The fight had died down on the Kuru, the few Terranthi left alive being herded around the mainsail to be bound. ?Karl!? She shouted up toward the grizzled pilot. ?Get us back to the Axe!?
[color=blue:edda570bea][i:edda570bea]Fate whispered to the Warrior
"You cannot withstand the storm"

And the Warrior whispered back
"I am the storm"

-Anon[/i:edda570bea][/color:edda570bea]

Lucius DeAuster

  • Moderator
  • Old Wyrm
  • *
  • Posts: 311
    • View Profile
Re: The Road of War
« Reply #46 on: June 06, 2011, 09:27:14 PM »
Fiona faded into view by the wall and immediately knelt beside Daniel, resting his head on her lap. ?Breath, Daniel, breath?? As she worked to calm her son, Fiona pulled a softly glowing gem from a belt pouch. The sounds of battle faded from her consciousness as she concentrated, crushing the gem between her fingers and letting the mist trapped within to flow over Daniel. A faint sound, akin to a faraway scream, touched her ears as the mist settled over Daniel?s chest, fading through clothing and skin as his body absorbed the vapors.

Daniel gasped immediately, a ragged inhale of much-needed breath as the gem?s powers kick-started his own regenerative powers. Clouded blue eyes found her ice-green as fine fingers smoothed his hair back from his brow. ?Don?t move.? She whispered to him, continuing her calming tone, ignoring those few daring to come closer. ?Let your body heal.? Daniel nodded silently, his eyes closing as the pain started to abate. Noting that his body was easing out of its rigid tightness, Fiona looked up, sending the curious back with an icy glare. Her attention, however, was focused on her husband.

Lucius and Garis were locked together, trading blow for blow on the stairs. The Terranthi?s left eye was already swollen shut, and blood flowed from a gash across Lucius?s cheek, smoking where it dripped on the stone. A raised arm blocked the foreign soldier?s fist, and the Lord of Pandemonium suddenly pressed close, hands grabbing at his opponent as he drove the other back up the stairs. Garis clawed at Lucius?s face in desperation, but failed to stop the headlong charge up the stairs, stairs that ended abruptly near the top for the rest had been torn away by the collapse of the wall.

Garis felt his foot leave the stone, and scrabbled for any kind of handhold. Growling like a wounded animal Lucius pumped his legs, forcing Garis backward over the drop. His own momentum carried him over the edge also, wings snapping open at the last second to keep him aloft, where he watched his enemy crash to the stones below. Not content with merely watching Garis fall, leathery wings folded closer, sending Lucius plummeting downward where his boots slammed into the Terranthi?s battered body, forcing the chest to collapse with an audible popping sound.

Chest heaving, he stared at the corpse for a long second, before raising his face to the sky and letting out a howl of triumph. The call was joined a second later by the nearest Northras, who had watched the fight in awed silence. More joined in, and soon the inner bailey rang with the cries of the barbarians, the cries echoing off the walls and roofs beyond.

Leaving the corpse in the rubble Lucius began to stalk toward where Fiona crouched with Daniel, but a large shadow made him draw back in time to avoid being flattened by the guillaersk. The infernal beast loomed over Lucius, sizzling spittle falling from bared fangs as it snarled down at him. He growled in return, his talons flexing as he prepared to attack, but movement behind the beast gave him pause. From out of the guillaersk?s shadow strode a form clad in blue billowing robes, its hands hidden within the voluminous sleeves and features obscured by a drawn hood. It moved to stand sedately beside the slavering demonoid as a second figure moved opposite. Similarly clad in all-encompassing robes of deep amethyst, this one moved with a languid grace that was a marked contrast with the last to emerge. Shuffling as though each step was agonizing, the body twisted and hunched under its green robes as it came to stand beside it?s blue-robed compatriot.

The quartet arrayed themselves in a semicircle around Lucius, who looked slowly at each in turn. There was a feel of familiarity with the newcomers, and he only stepped back when, as one, the four bowed slowly to him. As they did so each dissolved into a mist that wrapped around the Pandemonium Lord, surrounding him in a vortex of dust and multicolored motes of light. Those nearest stepped back as the winds howled higher and faster, shielding their eyes from the uplifted dust caught in the unnatural tornado. Fiona threw up an arm to guard her eyes as she leaned over Daniel while others turned away to ward off the grit pelting them.

The twisting funnel lifted finally into the air and dissipating in a slow fall of dust and small debris around those within the bailey, revealing Lucius still standing where he had been, eyes closed and arms held at his sides as though in benediction. Slowly he took in a deep breath and then exhaled, the air seeming to expand and then contract around him with the innocuous movement. His eyes snapped open, the crimson gaze locking on his wife and son, and he started in that direction at a jog. Fiona looked up as he approached, and her eyes narrowed slightly as she felt the primal rage radiating from her husband. ?Lucius?? When he did not reply her eyes narrowed more, and again she said his name, this time putting the power of her will behind the word. He stopped short, towering over her and Daniel, slitted eyes glowing in the morning light. ?Lucius, finish it.? Her gaze never wavered from his, and slowly Lucius nodded to her.

?My Lady.? His words were soft, growled as his gaze shifted to Daniel. Fiona brought a hand up and gently touched his forearm, and he turned away, bellowing for his commanders. Lord Unthor and his berzerkers would defend the break in the wall while Terrak led his warband around the inner bailey toward the southern gate. Jerrak fell in beside Lucius as the Pandemonium lord headed for the archway leading into the city proper, slowing only to scoop Drachmel from where it had been tossed by Garis earlier.
[color=blue:edda570bea][i:edda570bea]Fate whispered to the Warrior
"You cannot withstand the storm"

And the Warrior whispered back
"I am the storm"

-Anon[/i:edda570bea][/color:edda570bea]

Lucius DeAuster

  • Moderator
  • Old Wyrm
  • *
  • Posts: 311
    • View Profile
Re: The Road of War
« Reply #47 on: June 11, 2011, 04:59:23 PM »
Cursing, Lusiphur was dragged along with the mob as they crashed through the city streets. Some guardsmen had tried to stop the mob as it surged toward the noble quarter, but after the second troupe had been dragged down, their weapons appropriated by the rampaging citizens, they had pulled back, sealing the grounds of the manor houses as quick as they could. Repeatedly the elf had tried to slip away, only to be dragged back by the exuberant men and women. As the head of the mob started to pass though an open courtyard the assassin saw his chance and leaped onto the lip of a small fountain. Revolver in hand, he aimed toward the sky and pulled the trigger several times, making those nearest him draw back in sudden fear, creating a bottleneck in the alley behind.
   
?Hey, you slags!? He yelled, further drawing their attention to him. Using the gun as a prop, he pointed toward an open gate across the courtyard. ?They?re the one?s that took your money! They?re the one?s that kept you in the slums!? A feral smile grew as he watched their eyes move to that open gate, and he pressed on, the anarchist in him reveling in the stirring of the mobs emotions. ?Why let them live in luxury? Take back what?s yours! Take back your money!?

?Hey, he?s right!? A cry from the crowd, and a general murmur of agreement quickly grew into a wave of outrage. Like a single living being the mob turned and streamed toward the gates of the manor house, leaving Lusiphur safely perched on the fountain cackling in malicious glee.

***

Cieara reached the first floor as the table was forced back by the opening door. Pushing back against the table, she tried to force the door closed again, but fought a loosing battle against the guardsmen shoving against the door. Seeing the eventual result Cieara hopped back from the table and drew Vestia as the door was forced open far enough to allow the guards entry.

The first had no chance, the dagger slipping past a swiping hand to bite deep into his neck, the fine edge opening the flesh as though it was paper. The guard grasped at his neck to stop the wash of blood, and fell forward, blocking the door open with his body. Vestia banged against the blade of a broadsword as the second guard pushed past the first, but he was not able to stop the second stab, cursing as the dagger was buried in his upper chest.

Cieara pulled back, and a glimpse out the door sent her diving back, crossbow bolts whistling over her curling body. Immediately another guard pushed through the open door, already moving toward Cieara as she hopped back to her feet. She ducked the first slash, her return strike knocked away by a beefy forearm. The guard was quick, bringing his sword back around in a complete circle over his hand to slash again at her. The blade thudded into a wood column, cutting off some of Cieara?s chestnut mane as she dodged to the side, rolling to her feet across the room.

Vestia had been switched to her left hand, and her right hand now held her coiled whip, having grabbed it from her belt during the tumble. A loud crack split the air as the whip coiled around the guard?s neck. Cieara tried to pull him off his feet, but the guard set his feet and grabbed at the whip, giving it a hard jerk. Cieara stumbled forward, and used the momentum to slip into the shadows, reappearing balanced on the rafter above the guard. With a sly giggle, she stepped from the rafter, holding the whip with both hands. Her weight yanked the guard from his feet and pulled him into the air, until his forehead slammed against the rafter with a sickening crunch just as Cieara?s feet reached the floor. She let the whip go, and the body fell to the floor with a hard thud.

Something brushed her side, and Cieara whirled back toward the door to see another guard standing just inside the doorway, reloading a small crossbow. Cieara started forward, but her strength seemed to leech from her as her foot came down. Breathing was becoming difficult, and the young woman went down to one knee, a hand to her side trying to ease the sudden pressure. Emerald eyes widened at feeling the flechettes of a bolt deep in her side.

The guard, having slipped a bolt into her weapon, raised the crossbow and took aim on Cieara. She closed her eyes, but they shot open again as a cry of pain and rage startled both her and the guard. Delana, who had crept down the stairs during the fight, launched herself at the guard, who instinctively tightened her finger on the crossbow?s trigger. The bolt hissed by Cieara?s cheek as her friend slammed into the other female and sent both tumbling. Delana hit the wall hard, losing her breath and nearly her stomach at the wave of pain from her shoulder. Their assailant came to her feet quickly, drawing a shortsword and raising it high, intent on driving it into Delana?s defenseless form.

The blow never fell, as a small hand wrapped around the woman?s wrist. She started to turn, but another hand clasped her neck, lifting her into the air and shaking her like a rag doll. The grip tightened, and a brief struggle ended with a wet snapping of vertebrae. The body was dropped to the floor with a contemptuous snort, and through hazy eyes Cieara made out a dark-clad form standing over her friend. ?Mom?? She whispered, trying to stand, but instead slumped further back. She felt arms wrapping around her, easing her back against the wood column.

?Nay, not Fiona.? The words held a primal edge, and Cieara fought to focus her eyes. Black fur swam into focus, resolving into the panther-like features of Sidra. ?She?ll be along soon, but I?m thinking you need a bit of a rest.? The felinoid was already drawing several small vials from her belt, pouring the first over the wound at Cieara?s side. She immediately went numb there, and made barely a sound as Sidra pushed the bolt through and out, another healing potion being applied to stop the flow of blood. Cieara let her eyes slip halfway closed as Sidra worked on her, a fog surrounding her and nearly blocking out the sounds of fighting filtering in from the outside. For the moment her part in the battle was over. And she had done it! A part of her mind was shouting triumphantly. See, big brother? Told you I could do it!
[color=blue:edda570bea][i:edda570bea]Fate whispered to the Warrior
"You cannot withstand the storm"

And the Warrior whispered back
"I am the storm"

-Anon[/i:edda570bea][/color:edda570bea]

Lucius DeAuster

  • Moderator
  • Old Wyrm
  • *
  • Posts: 311
    • View Profile
Re: The Road of War
« Reply #48 on: June 16, 2011, 02:31:59 PM »
?They?re running!? DuBoise?s cry of triumph mirrored the savage grin on DeCort?s features as the mercenary troops broke ranks, fleeing toward the woods beyond. They had put up a hard struggle, standing in the face of concentrated volleys from his bowmen, but the charge of the Malirid knights had shaken their resolve. The regimented blocks of infantry bearing down on them had sent many into flight, most being run down by the circling cavalry. Lieance had joined that second push, slashed down with his glowing longsword, nearly separating an arm from a shoulder, and then kicked out to send his assailant spinning away, blood spraying into the air.

Twisting in his saddle, DeCort looked back behind him, where the bowmen were moving forward to join the footmen. DuBoise led another charge into the fleeing mercenaries, the heavily armored knights wielding their swords with deadly, practiced precision. His footmen, leaving the pursuit for the faster horsemen, were rebuilding their ranks, commanders shouting orders to be heard over the cries of the wounded and sporadic clash of arms.

?Commander!? he held his sword up as he called out, and in a moment DuBoise galloped to him, his horse rearing as he reigned it to a quick stop beside DeCort.

?Your Grace, the sellswords are fleeing toward the bay.? he reported breathlessly, raising his sword in salute to his liegelord. DeCort nodded, and looked to the north again and the walls that loomed close as DuBoise continued. ?The road is now open!? DeCort held fast to his reigns as he looked back around the lines of his troops again.

?Commander, lead the army forward.? He used his blade to point toward the main gates of the city, and the makeshift barriers that had been erected before them. ?It?s time to join DeAuster in the city.?


***

?Sire, we must go.? The head of Nickolas Urevan?s personal guard stood at attention behind his lord, as both watched the chaos unfold in the front yards of his manor house from one of the upper story balconies. Urevan had ordered the gates sealed long ago, but somehow a small group of enemy snipers had infiltrated the gatehouse, pinning his men down until an unruly rabble could invade the grounds of his manor. Now, his personal guard was fighting hard to hold the mob at bay, but with fur-clad barbarians starting to join the fray, defeat seemed certain. ?Sire??

?Yes, yes, I heard you!? Urevan snapped, whirling back toward the guard captain, and then passing him as he headed down the hallway. The portraits of Urevan?s past stared accusingly down at the scion of the House Urevan, silently mocking the impending fall of the proud man. Urevan paid them no heed, his thoughts on making his escape from the jaws of the trap closing around him. Curses were leveled against the DeAusters, the Decorts of Malirid, The Terranthi, and the ungrateful peons assaulting his home. Now, he had to flee, like a beggar in the night.

Urevan?s plan was simple: escape to the holdings of his ally Argus Torvien to the north and begin planning the reconquering of his realm. It had been some time since he had truly practiced the politics of war, as his jiggling belly attested, but this uncouth barbarian would learn he had been trained by the best. And then, what he would do to that bitch wife of his would make the orb that he had received some months before pale by comparison. Even now he couldn?t help the sadistic smile that grew at the thought of the DeAuster woman laid out on the torturer?s table, waiting for his eager ?pleasures?. Oh yes, she would scream?until her mouth and tongue was put to other uses?

Pressing a latch cleverly hidden within the frame of the portrait of his grandfather, Urevan waited for a small section of the wall to slide aside and he followed the captain down a narrow staircase into the bowels of the manor house. He had planned on this eventuality, and below was a small chamber, with a sealed passage leading to an escape route through the drainage system. Two servants waited for the two in the chamber, each laden with a heavy sack. Such a small pittance of his personal wealth, but it would be enough for the bribes and payments needed to start his revenge.

?Captain, when I am safely away, you will see to the escape of my wife and children.? Urevan did not wait for a reply, and expected none, so used to being obeyed without question. A distasteful look came over the captain?s face, but he said nothing as he moved to the door to begin opening it. Urevan waited impatiently as the myriad locks were undone, his fingers flexing as the captain straightened from the bottom lock and opened the door in preparation to step beyond. That wait grew longer, and finally his temper boiled over as the captain just stood there in the doorway. ?Damnation, what are you??

He trailed off as the captain slumped to the floor, and Urevan?s eyes widened in shock and fear at the crimson gleam at the throat of his handpicked man. A soft white glow from a well-worn gauntlet illuminated a bloody blade in the darkness beyond, and the nobleman took a hasty step back as a stranger moved into the small chamber, his coal-black hair framing a lean body clad in black leathers. His hard eyes were locked on Urevan?s, and a sinister half-smile crossed the lean pale features of the intruder.

?Greetin's, ?Yer Majesty??? That soft voice sent a shiver down the noble?s back as the intruder mockingly half-bowed, and in his haste to back away Urevan tripped over a chest, falling to the floor where he continued to crawl backward. The two servants, being in no way desirous of a fight, dropped the bags they held and ran up the stairs, leaving Urevan by himself. The intruder stalked slowly forward, the blade twirling in his fingers. ?Don? thin' tae be leavin? so soon. M?sister be lookin? forwar' tae meetin? yeh again.?
[color=blue:edda570bea][i:edda570bea]Fate whispered to the Warrior
"You cannot withstand the storm"

And the Warrior whispered back
"I am the storm"

-Anon[/i:edda570bea][/color:edda570bea]

Lucius DeAuster

  • Moderator
  • Old Wyrm
  • *
  • Posts: 311
    • View Profile
Re: The Road of War
« Reply #49 on: June 27, 2011, 02:19:10 PM »
Lucius strode through the archway and onto the manor-grounds, Jerrak and skeletal warriors of Sir Herzog trailing just behind, and paused at the sight in front of him. Most of the guards in Urevan?s employ had been slain during the fight for the yard and the few remaining were being guarded by what looked to be the citizens of the city. The Northras stood in control of the gate and the doors to the manor house, also watching this turn warily. ?Ah, I see the little revolt came to fruition.? Fiona?s soft voice brought his gaze around, where she was walking beside him. In his surprise at seeing those gathered he had not even noticed her arrival, though even had he been actively searching for her, it was unlikely he would have then. ?I told ye a surprise awaited ye in the walls.?
   
?Daniel?? At his question Fiona smiled for just a second, a leather-clad hand reaching up to pat the heavy pauldron covering his shoulder.

?Safe, and in the capable hands of Myri and Kaelyn.? As the fighting had died down on the fields and the inner bailey the healers had moved toward the city, and Fiona had waited for them to take Daniel into their care before she had left to join Lucius. ?Cieara needs us now, my love.? Lucius nodded, feeling the pain of their daughter through the link the family shared, but his attentions were needed elsewhere for the moment. Fiona melted into the crowd in search of her daughter as he headed toward the stairs to take charge of the situation.

Several of the Northras stood in a ring around the base of the stairs, allowing none of the Cisran citizens to approach any closer. Others had entered the manor house to clean out pockets of resistance, and the barbarians were leading a steady stream of prisoners to the head of the stairs. Servants were allowed to leave, and were fleeing into the crowd as quickly as they were able. The Lady Urevan and her two children knelt on the stairs, spears trained on them from all sides by the glowering barbarians. The noblewoman sported a growing bruise on her cheek, gained when she had spat on Jerrak?s ko-khan upon being taken prisoner.

?I?m thinkin? ye came fer this, Lucius.? It was amazing how such a low voice could carry so well, as Lorcain stepped through the doorway and between the parting Northras dragging the portly Urevan along with him. The quivering nobleman was tossed unceremoniously down the stairs to land at the Lord of Pandemonium?s feet, and Lucius noted with a soft chuckle of satisfaction the many bruises and cuts on his enemy. Reaching down, Lucius grabbed the front of Urevan?s tunic and hauled him into the air as easily as he would a child. Hands clasped at Lucius?s wrist, trying to break the hold, but the feeble attempts were ignored as Urevan was brought eye-to-crimson-eye with Lucius.

?Urevan?? The soft hiss was a counterpoint to his fearsome visage, blending with the soft laughter coming from Lorcain standing just beside them. ?I warned you what would happen, and I am a man of my word.? Heaving the nobleman backwards toward the small knot of family he nodded toward Jerrak?s men, who closed ranks and forced Urevan up the stairs, weapons leveled and ready. ?Well done, Lorcain.? He said softly, looking toward his brother-in-law who nodded once, slowly.

?I hope Torvien be givin? a bit more challenge.?  There was no denying the edge in Lorcain?s words, and Lucius again laughed softly as he turned to look out over the milling people in the courtyard. Off in the distance low booms rolled, and he listened to the soft sounds for a second before his attention was again drawn away. Fiona was exiting the gatehouse supporting Cieara. Behind her came Sidra and Delana, the young woman sporting a bloody bandage across her forehead. He longed to rush over to his family but the day was not yet done and there were more immediate concerns.

?Put them in the cells of the manor house.? Jerrak half-turned and started barking orders in his native tongue, and in short order Urevan and his family was dragged into the manor house, the Lady Urevan kicking and screaming like her children all the way. For his part, The Lord Urevan stared daggers at Lucius as he was forced inside but Lucius paid the nobleman no mind, instead moving to the group of Cisran?s milling near the archway. The men and women gathered a bit closer together as he approached, the weapons they bore held awkwardly by many.

?It would be best for you to return to your homes.? Lucius tried to make his voice calm, for these were not his enemy. Indeed, they had been quite useful distracting the local militias within the city, but could as easily become a hindrance to his plans. ?I cannot promise your safety if you remain in the streets.?

?We want to help!? one of the men near the front shouted, a cheer that was quickly voiced by the others in the group. Lucius glanced to those about him and then nodded slowly.

?Very well. I need you to pick someone who will speak for you, and send him over there.? He pointed behind him in the general direction of the gatehouse, and then turned to head that way before any could reply. For the moment all was now forgotten as he approached his family and knelt beside Cieara across from Fiona.

?She took a bolt to the side, my love.? Fiona said softly, who was holding Cieara carefully. ?She be needing Myri?s touch.?

?Four, daddy!? Cieara added quickly, holding onto her parents for the moment. ?I got four!? Lucius gave her a warm smile, then leaned over to place a kiss to her forehead.

?You did very well, little sweet. I?m very proud of you.? He saw Fiona?s eyes flicker upward over his shoulder and Lucius took that cue to straighten and turn to face the Cisran who had come up behind him. It was the one who had spoken up a moment before, holding one of the captured shortswords. ?And you are??

?George Compton, m?lord.? He held out a hand which Lucius shook after a second. ?The people elected me to speak for them.? Lucius nodded slowly, then stepped to the side, his arm sweeping to take in the small group behind him.

?If you wish to help, then I ask you to escort my wife and daughter to the breach we have made in the wall.? He saw Fiona?s eyes widen in surprise in his peripheral vision as he continued. ?We have healers there who can tend her, as well as your own wounded. But our position here is tenuous and we can be overrun by a counterattack at any time. If you wish to help, than this is how.? George?s eyes moved between Lucius and the rest of his family, and then he nodded.

?Be ye certain about this?? Fiona asked as the Cisran?s began to gather around, and Lucius nodded once while helping Cieara to her feet.

?Sir Herzog will be with you, love, as well as some of Jerrak?s men.? Makeshift hammocks were being prepared, Delana already being helped into one by Sidra. Lucius gently eased Cieara into another. ?Between them and yourself, I have no doubt that Cieara and Delana will be safe.? His fingers brushed his daughter?s forehead, and then he turned to press a kiss to Fiona?s cheek.

?Very well, m?heart.? There was no mistaking the reservation in her tone, but she leaned up to return the kiss softly. ?I will return to ye as soon as the children are safe.? Lucius nodded in reply, his grasp tightening on Drachmel?s haft as the group started for the manor gates, seven of Jerrak?s tribesmen leading the way into the streets and the undead knights following.

?They?ll be fine.? Lorcain?s voice was barely above a whisper, but carried over the shouts in the courtyard as he stepped up beside Lucius. The Pandemonium Lord looked back at him and the certainty in those soft-spoken words, and then jerked his head toward the gate.

?It?s time to finish this.?
[color=blue:edda570bea][i:edda570bea]Fate whispered to the Warrior
"You cannot withstand the storm"

And the Warrior whispered back
"I am the storm"

-Anon[/i:edda570bea][/color:edda570bea]

Lucius DeAuster

  • Moderator
  • Old Wyrm
  • *
  • Posts: 311
    • View Profile
Re: The Road of War
« Reply #50 on: June 27, 2011, 04:19:23 PM »
Epilogue

The fight at the south gate was a bloody affair. The soldiers tasked with holding the gate had prepared well for an attack from the outside, with overturned wagons staggered along the road to break up the movement of cavalry or large infantry formations and tiger traps along the road?s edge to force the approaching enemy into a narrow corridor. The warriors of Malirid were forced to approach slowly, shields held high by the outer ranks to try to protect the inner soldiers carrying an oaken ram from the hail of arrows coming from the walls.

The Cisran defenders were unprepared for the Northras coming from the northwest, the wily Terrak ordering his men to remain quiet until the first of the columns slammed into the rear ranks of the defenders manning the trebuchets. The defense quickly dissolved into chaos, the captain on site ordering his men to barricade the gatetowers to protect the counterweight system operating the gates. The tactic worked for over an hour, until the remnants of Tasha?s spectral army swept along the top of the walls killing the militia holding overwatch. Terrak quickly sent several barbarians up an adjacent tower and along the wall in a second assault. In another bloody hour the gatetowers were cleared, and Leiance led his men into the city.

Out on the water an uneasy stalemate had settled. Three frigates of the Cisran navy sallied from the dock, forcing the Axe to disengage from its fight with the Covenant. The pirate galleon limped for the open water while the Enyala Kuru huddled next to its larger cousin the Valorous. The captains of the frigates seemed unwilling to engage the warship from Dragons Land, instead moving into formation with the Covenant as the galleon slowly moved back toward the docks. With the mouth of the bay effectively blockaded for the moment, Karenthesis and Lynch saw to the hurried repairs of their respective ships while Kitian ferried over to the Valorous to speak to her captain.

With the wild magic unleashed by Tasha and Indigo still playing havoc with the black powder weapons the Terranthi had armed the militia the fighting in the streets bogged down into a protracted melee. With the two battle lines of Northras and Malirid converging on the edge of the manor district the commander overseeing the defense of the city ceded the western and southern districts to the invaders, setting their lines with an anchor on the walls separating the manor district from the mercantile district. For nearly four hours the two forces gave no quarter, battering each other in the deadliest of combat environs. Slowly the Northras started to curl the defenders lines back on itself, Lord Unthor?s berserkers pushing from the northwest while Lucius and Leiance led a second strong thrust from the south.

As the afternoon shadows began to lengthen word began to filter back that a white flag had been spotted, and within the hour a meeting was arranged, to be held in Dauphin Plaza, the largest square of Cisroe?s mercantile district. Dominated by a fountain dedicated to Lorina, the Kayliethian goddess of the sea, the plaza made the ideal spot for parley. Warriors from both sides lined the edges of the plaza, watching as the Cisran representatives moved with their flagbearer to stand beside the fountain.

?The shorter of the two is Author Crane, the mayor of Cisroe.? Lucius and Leiance looked to the man standing to the left of the Pandemonium Lord, then back toward the fountain and the men standing there. Johan Farriss rested a hand on his sword pommel as he slowly moved behind Lucius to stand between the two. ?The one in plate looks to be Jonathan Harte, the Duke of Blackcrest.?

?Makes sense. Blackcrest is the closest ducal seat to Cisroe.? Leiance slowly looked over to Lucius, then to Farriss. ?What about the flagman? He looks to be a bit high up the food chain.?

?That would be William Gerard, the official commander of Cisroe?s militia and constabulary.? There was no mistaking the stream of venom in Farriss?s tone, and both looked to him as he spit on the ground. ?He?s Urevan?s hand-picked bully-boy and the one that sent me and my men to Duke Torvien.? Leather creaked as Lucius?s grip on Drachmel?s haft tightened, but his voice was carefully controlled.

?Let?s get this over with.? He nodded to the young man Farriss had picked to carry their own flag of parley, and the three fell in behind. It was strangely quiet as they walked toward the fountain, almost as though the air itself was holding its breath during this meeting. There was a long moment of silence after the two groups arrived at the fountain, each sizing up the other.
[color=blue:edda570bea][i:edda570bea]Fate whispered to the Warrior
"You cannot withstand the storm"

And the Warrior whispered back
"I am the storm"

-Anon[/i:edda570bea][/color:edda570bea]

Lucius DeAuster

  • Moderator
  • Old Wyrm
  • *
  • Posts: 311
    • View Profile
Re: The Road of War
« Reply #51 on: July 16, 2011, 11:17:30 AM »
?Johan Farriss?and here I was thinking you had finally decided to fade into obscurity.? Gerard was the first to break the silence, his words drawing the look of everyone present. Johan shook his head slowly, his eyes narrowing slightly even though a wry smile graced his features.

?Sorry to disappoint you William, but I found the taste of assassinating children not to my liking.? He jauntily inclined his head to Gerard, who looked decidedly cross with his reply. Any further remarks were stopped by Crane, who held up a hand, finger extended, to silence Gerard.

?Gentlemen, that is not the business at hand.? The mayor lowered his hand as he looked to Lucius and Leiance again. ?I believe we all know who the others are, or can guess, so perhaps we can dispense with the pleasantries?? Lucius faintly smiled, and slowly nodded in reply. ?Good. I believe His Grace the Duke has a question for you before we begin.? Harte took a step forward, his fury hanging about him like the thunderheads still looming overhead.

?I would know about my sister, the Lady Urevan. We know she and her children did not make it out of their manor, and that you hold them prisoner.?

?Aye, I do have her and her family safely in my care.? Lucius was biting back the growl, the Beast roiling in his chest with the desire to eviscerate the pompous ass in front of him, but the rational part of his conscious held firm. ?And they will remain so for the time being. Though, to ease Your Grace?s worries, they will not be harmed.?

?And you just expect me to take the word of a barbarian out of the wilderness??

?Then take my word, Your Grace.? Leiance stepped up now, glittering eyes locked on the dukes when he turned toward his Maliridian equal. ?I will have my men watching over your sister and her children also, and they will not be harmed while in DeAuster?s care.? Lucius glanced toward his companion, and after a few seconds Harte nodded once, stepping back to his spot just behind Crane. The mayor of Cisroe watched the duke as he moved, then turned to look back to the others.

?Thank you Your Grace?my lord.? The portly mayor sighed softly, as he was unused to such situations and was very uncomfortable with what he had to say next. He looked to Gerard and then Harte before he spoke again. ?It?s conceded that eventually you will take the city, though it will be at a high cost to both sides. It?s also conceded that to retake the city will be even more destructive, so I am empowered to now ask you for your terms.? That last was a bitter pill, and Lucius almost felt sorry for the man. He waited several seconds before replying, letting the nobles before him wait for his answer. It was a tactic suggested by Leiance, the better to show who held the upper hand. He slowly smiled and finally spoke.

?My terms?? Trialing off a moment, Lucius let the word hang, the smile fading into more of a predatory smirk. ?The militia defending Cisroe will return to their barracks and places of enrollment. They do not have to disarm, but they will assemble under the guard of my people.? He could see Gerard stiffen in his peripheral vision, but he kept his gaze focused on Crane. ?I know that a majority of the realm?s nobility are currently in Cisroe, trapped here when the siege began. They will be allowed to remain in their homes and manors for the time being, but the gates will be opened and their personal guard disarmed.? Harte looked to interrupt, but Crane held up a hand to forestall any outburst, a gesture that earned him a scathing glare from the duke.

?The safety of the nobility and the city is assured if these terms are met. If not??Again Lucius trailed off, the implied consequences an ominous unspoken caveat.

With hushed somber tones, the Cisran nobles came together to speak quietly amongst each other, while Lucius, Leiance and Johan did the same. After a few moments Crane and Harte stepped back up, this time the duke speaking. ?We will send word for the militia to pull back, and messengers will be sent to the manors and villas. We cannot promise that the nobles will accept your terms.? Lucius nodded slowly to Harte when he had finished, since he and Leiance had expected such a reply.

?I understand, Your Grace. Any that refuse will be kept in their manors under watch, and those that try to flee will be dealt with.? Harte looked as though he was swallowing a lemon, but he inclined his head in acceptance. Lucius turned his gaze back to Crane. ?In the morning I suggest all of us reconvene here, to discuss our next steps.? He paused, looking to the two noblemen, purposefully ignoring Gerard. ?And we will see then how farsighted everyone can be.?
[color=blue:edda570bea][i:edda570bea]Fate whispered to the Warrior
"You cannot withstand the storm"

And the Warrior whispered back
"I am the storm"

-Anon[/i:edda570bea][/color:edda570bea]

Lucius DeAuster

  • Moderator
  • Old Wyrm
  • *
  • Posts: 311
    • View Profile
Re: The Road of War
« Reply #52 on: September 18, 2011, 10:36:53 PM »
Antetion Palace, Cisroe, Mercivya

The main audience hall was filled with the soft sounds of conversation between the gathered nobles of Mercivya. It had been nearly a week since the invasion, and most had been kept within their manors under watch from the soldiers of Malirid. The various nobles had been kept abreast of the talks between The Duke of Blackcrest and the leader of the barbarians by messenger, while servants were allowed to venture to the markets for food, bringing back stories and rumors of their own.  Each day grew more tales, from foreign armadas filling the bay to gibbets of sacrifices being erected in the market squares, each holding an empty noose for a royal neck.

As dawn rose brilliant over the waters of Cisroe Bay pages began to arrive at doors throughout the manor district. ?Your presence is requested and directed for this afternoon by the fifteenth hour in the Halls of Antetion.? While undersigned by the Duke of Blackcrest, the wording gave many pause and new fear. But, the conclave had been called, and they were honor bound to attend. And thus, under a bright afternoon sun carriages clattered down the cobblestone streets toward the palace that dominated the northern corner of the manor district. Each was escorted by four knights of Malirid, their armor and weapons, having been reconditioned after the battle days prior, gleaming in the sunlight.

Gathering in the main audience hall, the ruling elite were able to finally talk to their peers and begin to gather nuggets of truthful news. For one, there was no armada sitting off the coast, but rather the Valorous remained on station near the mouth of the bay. The bodies of those killed during the street battles had been cleared away, and none of the reported blood madness was in evidence. Two of the barons that had been trapped within Cisroe refused to attend, and were being kept under tight house arrest. Of the nobility that had been outside the city when the battle had broken out outside only two had refused to come in the intervening days. One, Baron Clynne of Rosecliff, had already fled by galleon with what wealth he and his family could pack. The Duke of Valdell, Roger Chamberlayne, had reportedly closed himself within Valdell Keep, which was even now being surrounded by the Black Tiger clan.

Of more immediate interest were the changes to the audience hall itself. The banners that bore the crest of Urevan?s family arms had been removed, replaced by black and green-edged livery bearing a stylized armored fist clutching an eight-pointed ring. The courtyard and outer halls were guarded by the soldiers of Malirid, but the men-at-arms stationed near the door and at points along the perimeter of the room bore the same livery. In the past Urevan sat alone on the dais at the end of the hall, his wife relegated to a simple seat at the foot of the stairs, subservient to her husband?s power when allowed to attend him in court at all. Now, that gilded throne had been removed and replaced by a simpler heavy oak chair, two smaller chairs of the same material on either side.

Movement near the arched entry to the hall first gained the attention of those nearest it, and the subtle fading of conversation took hold within the room as the gathering turned toward the doors. A court page stood at attention his ceremonial staff coming down three times to call for silence. ?His Grace The Duke of Cyprien Drathwar, Leiance DeCort of Malirid and Captain Reginald Martyn of Dragons Land.? Leiance fought hard to suppress the soft chuckle at the looks as he and his companions entered the hall. To his left was Captain Martyn, dressed in the brown and white uniform of the naval arm of Dragons Land?s military and contrasting with the sky blue and silver doublet he had changed into after the battles and subsequent negotiations. Behind the two walked DeCort?s second, Commander Jarrevik DuBoise, his armor repaired and buffed to a brilliant sheen.  The quartet moved down the aisle created by the gathered nobles to a spot prepared near the front, where they joined Johan Farriss.

?Greetings, Your Grace.? Johan nodded slowly as they settled beside him, the commander?s eyes flicking slowly over the subdued crowd. He looked uncharacteristically uncomfortable in the doublet he wore, a hand resting near his belt as though ready to grasp the hilt that wasn?t there. ?This should be interesting, to say the least.?

?The endgames usually are.? Leiance replied, movement spotted in his peripheral vision bringing his attention back toward the doors where the page again struck his ornate staff against the marble floor.

?The Right Honorable The Earl of Falldale Lorcain DeWil and The Lady Kitian Albaelia.? The taller of the two standing in the doorway was all black, though the well-worn leather armor had been put aside for a rich silk doublet and overcoat. Lorcain?s hair was pulled back in a ponytail that gleamed in the light coming in from the windows, a severe look that contrasted with the more conservative styles currently in fashion with the court. Kitian stood with her arm entwined with his, resplendent in a blue velvet dress, the silver trim matching her hair in the afternoon sun. While she would have preferred to be overseeing the last of the repairs to the Enyara Kuru her older brother Morguian had requested that she represent the Albaelia family for this event. Fiona and Myrialla had stepped in to help her prepare since her wardrobe on-board the Kuru was limited and Lorcain had, in his own style, offered to escort her. She now offered a soft smile to those they passed as they walked along the carpet to take their spot beside Leiance, the small group exchanging the quiet greetings of friends forged on the field as the soft murmurs again filled the hall.

?I don?t see any of the Northras.? Kitian leaned closer to Leiance while softly speaking, her eyes darting about the parts of the crowd she could see without being blatant. Leiance chuckled softly, and leaned her way, their heads almost touching.

?DeAuster thought it best that they not be here, so as not to upset the nobles unduly.? His gaze cut to the solemn Farriss as he continued. ?They have been moved to the outskirts and outside the city and Commander Farriss?s men have been brought forward to take over the duties of security.?

?All fer tha air of civility?? Lorcain grumbled softly from the other side of Kitian, drawing a raised brow from Leiance and an amused soft chuckle from Kitian who patted his arm gently. She leaned closer into him for a second, all watching the doors again as several pike-wielding men-at-arms entered and moved up the central aisle to take positions along its edge.  The page rapped the butt of his ornate staff against the marble tile, glanced to the doorway once, then looked back to the assemblage.

?The Lord Marshal of Raven?s Fast, former ambassador and Bellor Perdifictor of the church of Leorn, Member of the Order of Maestelle and Orklar Okaalkec, Lord Lucius DeAuster.? The figure that stepped into the doorway started a new round of whispers, for it was not the butcher that had been widely speculated about for the last several days. The armor had been left behind in the camp outside the city, set aside for a black silk shirt and overcoat, the edges lined with the green that made up part of his heraldry. His auburn hair was pulled back and tied by a beaded leather strap, a gift from Jerrak?s wife on the eve of the battle that took the city. The one constant, however, was the great-axe slung across his back, the haft angling over his left shoulder

Lucius stood quietly for several seconds, his arms folded behind him as his steel-gray eyes flicking over the assembled as they took him in. The thought of the use of those titles and the sour taste it would bring the representatives of the religious orders amused him, and in fact was a carefully-calculated move, to impress upon the peerage gathered that each newcomer belonged amongst their number. The right corner of his mouth twitched upward in a sardonic smile as he slowly brought up his right hand to chest level, palm upward, prompting the page to speak again. ?Arch-Mage of the Eleventh Tier of Carowyn, Knight of the Obsidian Blade for the Courts of Zymire, and Marchioness of Crystalshade Coast, The Most Honorable Marchioness Fiona Juree DeWil DeAuster.? Fiona glided into view from the right side of the doorway, her gloved fingers curling around Lucius?s as she took her place beside him. Her dress was a polar opposite of Lucius?s outfit, the green velvet being offset with a fall of diamonds that, like the diadem she wore, caught the light as she moved. Lucius and Fiona shared a glance, her lips curling in a smile that held just a touch of warmth, and he brought up his left hand in mirror of the right.

?The Lady Myrialla Tamsina VasDailar.?  Peach silk rustled softly as Myrialla joined Lucius and Fiona, a vibrant counterpoint to their muted colors that flowed out behind her in a train of cloth. Her smile was serene as she looked about those nearest the trio, a disarming gesture that came so easy to the woman the Northras had christened their angel. Exchanging last glance between the two Lucius looked ahead and as one the three stepped forward, moving down the aisle toward the dais. The room had quieted as they walked, and as they passed the last two guardsmen the eight turned as one to face the dais. Fiona glanced to the side as they passed their gathered friends, and the smile she wore mirrored that of her brother Lorcain.

Lucius stopped at the bottom of the dais, extending his arms as Fiona and Myrialla continued upward to stand before the two smaller chairs and releasing their hands as they turned to face the assemblage. Lucius paused for a few seconds more, then reached back and drew Drachmel from its harness, spinning the weapon effortlessly and bringing the butt of the haft down hard, sending marble chips flying as the spikes ringing the base of the haft bit deep to hold the greataxe in a standing position when his hand left it. The act was a statement as loud as it had been shouted, the same sentiments that had rang out over the myriad realms and multiverses for time immemorial:

With this axe, do I rule.
[color=blue:edda570bea][i:edda570bea]Fate whispered to the Warrior
"You cannot withstand the storm"

And the Warrior whispered back
"I am the storm"

-Anon[/i:edda570bea][/color:edda570bea]

Lucius DeAuster

  • Moderator
  • Old Wyrm
  • *
  • Posts: 311
    • View Profile
Re: The Road of War
« Reply #53 on: September 27, 2011, 03:52:21 PM »
Turning in front of the central throne to look out over the assembled Lucius nodded slowly to himself. He had been privately briefed before coming in on who was in attendance and, more importantly, who wasn?t.  The words he had spoken to his son back in Gharnholme echoed in his thoughts as he looked out over the nobles in attendance: This is a battle, just as any on the field.

?Lords and Ladies, I wish to thank you for attending this afternoon.? He paused for a second, his gaze roaming over the small sea of faces before he continued. ?We are here in the hopes to put the troubled week and months behind us, and to start anew. But, before we can do that, there is a bit of unfinished business to resolve.? From near the front Leiance nodded once, almost imperceptibly, at the methodical cadence in which Lucius was speaking. He had been spending the evenings alongside Fiona in preparing the Pandemonium Lord for this moment, knowing that it wasn?t just the words but the nuances that could make or break his bid to solidify support amongst the nobility.

Lucius swept an arm out toward the double doors in the back of the hall, and as everyone turned to look in that direction two men-at-arms stepped through, their longswords held in a cross-body position. Both wore the double golden lions of the DeCorts of Malirid. Behind the two stood the Lady Eliane Urevan, flanked on the left by her daughter Anne-Eliece and on the right by the youngest, Marlon. The darkness on Eliane?s cheek had lightened considerably in the week following the capture of her and her family, and she bore the light discoloration remaining like a badge of honor, her head held high and defiant. Her daughter, while trying to emulate her mother, bore more of the haughtiness with which she and her father were famed. Marlon, on the other hand, stared around him with the bright-eyed shocked look of the young.

Reaching to either side Lady Eliane took the hands of the two children and the three started forward behind the two guards, two more falling in step behind the trio. The small group moved up the aisle to the dais, where the guards stepped crisply to take positions on either side. Lucius brought both hands up in a gesture of salutation, bowing his head slightly to Lady Eliane. ?Your Majesty.? The words were a soft rumble, and both they and the gesture caught her by surprise. Her gaze flickered past Lucius to first Fiona and then Myrialla sitting behind him, and was met with a regard of polar opposite; Fiona?s was cold, calculating, while Myrialla looked upon Eliane with a smile both warming and serene. Finally she looked back to Lucius and returned his nod in kind.

?Lord DeAuster.? The acknowledgment brought a hint of a smile again, and Lucius again looked to the door. There was no need for any kind of gesture, for the clanking of chains and cursing coming from the door was more than enough to draw everyone?s attention.  The soft murmuring started again to fill the room as Nickolas Urevan was pushed through the door by two soldiers in the livery of Gharnholme. The nobleman nearly fell, for his arms were bound to his side by the heavy loops of iron, some of which came close to tripping him as they hung near his legs. The two on either side were not gentle in forcing him up the aisle, followed behind by the silent quintet of Sir Herzog and his skeletal warriors. Those on either side edged back as they passed, the otherworldly pall hanging over the undead making most uneasy at an instinctual level.

Lucius watched as the erst-while ruler of Mercivya was forced to stand before the dais but apart from his family. He noted with an almost clinical detachment the reactions to Urevan?s state, though undoubtedly many had seen similar before during his rule. He still wore the fine silks in which he had been captured, though the grime of the dungeons had dulled the vibrant blue and darker splotches now marred the material where the chains pressed hard into the flesh. Even in defeat Urevan was defiant, needing a hard blow to the back of the knee to be forced to kneel.

?Urevan.? The word was almost a spit curse as Lucius glared at the other, his rage building slowly within him even with his enemy bowed before him. ?I warned you, two years ago, that this day would come.? He couldn?t help the small rumble of amusement that accompanied the grim half-smile. ?You sought to take all that is mine, but in the end it is I who stands in victory before you and those who served as your court. Perhaps you should have better learned the lessons of Vladimir Glashion.?

?You miserable bastard!? Urevan surged forward, and almost succeeded in falling forward as he struggled. It took both of his living guards to keep him in his place as he shouted. ?How dare you act as though you are our equal, or that you are worthy to stand up there with your bitch and this new whore!? The Beast roared within Lucius, and he had just started to move when cold laughter behind him stopped him in his tracks from descending and tearing out Urevan?s throat with his bare hands. The sound of Fiona?s laughter also quelled Urevan?s rants, and all eyes turned to the raven-haired half-elf, sitting calmly watching the proceedings.

?Ah, but Your Majesty?? Even though she held no outward sarcasm, there was no respect at all in Fiona?s use of Urevan?s former title. ??I can assure ye that I nae bear a tail nor go around on all fours. And I can attest that Myrialla is of strong Riori blood, and has nae haunted any street-corners.? Fiona looked to her red-headed counterpart as she spoke, and Myrialla resisted the urge to laugh on seeing the quick wink. Lucius inclined his head slowly to his wife when she had finished speaking and then turned back to lock glares with Urevan.

?Nickolas Urevan, by Latha en?Kathishk I have taken your lands, properties and titles.? He slowly moved his arm to take in the hall and, by rote, Cisroe and the land beyond as he spoke. ?And now, in my first act as Sovereign, I dispense with you and yours.? Urevan again went into a shouting frenzy, his cursing running on for a long moment as he struggled in the grips of his guards. As Lucius let him rant the assembled nobles started to talk among themselves, allowing Kitian a chance to lean closer to Leiance again.

?Latha en?Kathishk? I?ve not heard of that before.? The Maliridian noble looked to her, a grim smile playing along his clean-shaven features.

?It?s a rather esoteric custom, dating back to the Time before Memory. It means ?Rite of Conquest.?? It had been another suggestion from Leiance to Lucius, the latter having planned to use the Northras equivalent. Leiance had felt it prudent to ?be as civilized as possible?, a comment that had brought laughter from the Pandemonium Lord at the time. Kitian nodded, and straightened as Lucius began to speak over Urevan, who had finally come to a sputtering halt in his vitriolic rant.

?Ma?am.? He looked to Urevan?s wife, who had until this point stood quietly by with her children. She paled, and gave a squeeze to her children?s hands before stepping forward, the guards keeping  Anne-Eliece and Marlon where they stood. Lucius looked to her for several seconds before continuing to speak. ?During my negotiations this week the Duke of Blackcrest has offered a petition on your behalf. And in the interest of fostering good relations I have agreed.? The fragile resignation that Eliane wore faded into puzzlement, for she had expected to hear a death sentence. ?Lady Eliane, I render you into the care of His Grace, to be a part of the household of Harte.? Lucius half-turned, accepting a rolled-up parchment from Myrialla and turned back, offering the parchment to Eliane.

?This is a decree of dissolution, signed by my hand and sealed by the Arch-Canoness of Aista, which releases you from any vows of marriage you currently hold.? Lucius ignored the roar of outrage from Urevan, raising his own tone to be heard. ?It also returns the name of Harte to you, along with all titles and properties you held before your marriage.? Now the voices of the nobles joined that of Urevan, a current of disbelief spreading through the hall. Harte stepped forward, moving around the two children to stand beside Eliane, who was staring at Lucius, eyes wide. Lucius waited, offering up the scroll and with a trembling hand the once-Queen of Mercivya reached out and took it from his hand. Lucius inclined his head to her as she was quietly led away by her brother to stand near the edge of the assembly. The guards standing behind Anne-Eliece and Marlon kept the two from joining their mother, the young boy struggling desperately in his attempts to reach Eliane. She started to try to return to them, but was stopped by her brother, who shook his head slightly when she turned her eyes to him.
[color=blue:edda570bea][i:edda570bea]Fate whispered to the Warrior
"You cannot withstand the storm"

And the Warrior whispered back
"I am the storm"

-Anon[/i:edda570bea][/color:edda570bea]

Lucius DeAuster

  • Moderator
  • Old Wyrm
  • *
  • Posts: 311
    • View Profile
Re: The Road of War
« Reply #54 on: September 30, 2011, 01:25:23 PM »
((Reader advisory for adult situations. NSFW))


Looking over to cursing Urevan Lucius smirked, shaking his head in mock sorrow before his gaze moved back to his daughter. ?Anne-Eliece, your reputation precedes you.? He made to bow slightly as the young woman drew herself up, bringing a soft rumbling chuckle. ?And am I correct in presuming that you expect a similar disposition as your mother has received??

?I have done nothing against you or yours, sir.? Anne-Eliece?s voice held no fear as she returned Lucius?s gaze evenly. ?Given that, as well as to the humane and generous way you have treated my mother, I would hope to also avail myself on your mercy.? A russet brow rose fractionally as Lucius regarded her, prompting the young woman to continue. ?After all, you are not the barbarian that rumor and courtly innuendo has made you out to be.?

And just how many naive young men have been seduced by that glib tongue? The thought sprang into Lucius?s mind before he could stop it, and the haunting echo of Fiona?s mental laughter somehow kept him from chortling openly himself.  Outwardly he made no movement for several seconds, finally nodding once, slowly. ?Well spoken, Your Royal Highness.? He watched Anne-Eliece carefully, caught the shadow of a smile and again had to resist the urge to laugh aloud. ?Well spoken indeed.? He stepped forward; coming off the dais to stand slightly to Anne-Eliece?s left and turning his head to look at her. ?It?s too bad though, that you are wrong.?

At that verbal cue the guards shifted, the Maliridian soldiers stepping back, one pulling Marlon with him, as the Gharnholmian men-at-arms left Urevan and grabbed Anne-Eliece by the arms. Steel flashed in the light streaming through the bay windows as keen-edged daggers were brought to bear. The screams of Urevan?s daughter mingled with those of shock coming from the watching ladies in the hall as the daggers descended, cutting the dress away from her as skillful as a hunter skinning a stag. The dress and chemise underneath was quickly reduced to a pile of torn cloth around the struggling woman?s feet, even the delicate stockings being sliced from kicking legs to leave her naked before the eyes of the room.

Lucius had watched the assembled nobles in his peripheral vision, and noted that while several of the men had shouted their outrage none had dared the ready guards that lined the aisle and perimeter. Urevan had tried to lunge forward again, but Sir Herzog had stepped forward and laid a hand on his shoulder, forcing the defeated monarch to fall onto his side with a scream of agony as the unnatural chill bit deep. Writhing on the marble floor he could only watch as Anne-Eliece was held in place, her arms held outward to prevent her from saving her last vestiges of modesty. Even Kitian was surprised by the display, though behind and above Lucius Fiona and Myrialla watched the proceedings as though it was nothing more than a recalcitrant slave being punished, and Lorcain held a decidedly and staged bored expression.

?You are indeed beautiful, just as the stories have said.? Lucius admitted as he stepped in front of the struggling Anne-Eliece. The young woman hissed at him and lashed forward, a glob of spittle landing on Lucius?s neck in the act. He chuckled softly, a hand rising up so two fingers could wipe away the offensive saliva. ?And spirited. Good, that will serve you well where you are going.? He stepped closer, chest to breast with Anne-Eliece, and she suddenly screamed and twisted at feeling his hand covering her mons, a finger slipping between her labia and deeper within. After a second he stepped back, holding up his hand to show the gleam of moisture staining the leather-clad fingertips. ?Such a pity though, that you are not pure. It will cut the final price somewhat.? His gaze left her shocked features, looking to the guards holding her. ?I want her collared and on her way to Ivory Flails by sunrise.?

?Bastard! Mongrel!? Urevan struggled up to one knee as his daughter was dragged screaming toward the doors, only to be forced down again by Sir Herzog. He was practically frothing as he raged, putting to voice the shock and outrage radiating in the room. His words were cut short as Lucius whirled on him, crimson flashing in his eyes as he pointed toward the bound noble.

?Spare me your indignant hypocrisy, Urevan!? Lucius snarled, but his next words were cut off by a voice from behind him. It was loud enough to catch everyone?s attention and bring it to Myrialla who now held a crumpled piece of parchment in her hands. Her gaze flitted between the paper and Urevan as she read aloud the letter, and those who knew her could not quite recall ever seeing her eyes look so cold.

?I do believe the loss of the two would be a mortal strike in the hearts of our shared enemy.  While the boy is of no use and can be disposed at your leisure, the girl holds some beauty and grace and will fetch a fine price in Ivory Flails or Darkovan.? Lowering the parchment Myrialla glared at the fallen Urevan. ?Your own words, ?my lord?, in correspondence with your ally Argus Torvien of Bastien.? Farriss did not attempt to hide his smile as Lucius stepped closer to Urevan, his hands slowly flexing as they felt the need to grapple Urevan?s throat. As for Fiona, her expression was unreadable and that was perhaps even worse, for the ones who knew her had seen the same expression in times past during her years as an assassin for the various guilds and Duibh Order.

?Remember what I told you when all this began, Urevan.? Lucius?s voice had dropped in timbre as he stared down at the chained nobleman. In truth he was struggling to keep The Beast in check and not become what Urevan had claimed. ?I told you I would do to you what you wished of me.? Lucius turned his head slightly to look toward the Lady Eliane, standing beside and supported by her brother, as well as the young Marlon. His expression hardened as he looked back to his enemy. ?And, as I remember, you wanted to take my lands, take my wife as your personal slave, sell my daughter into slavery?? A hand had been held up where most could see, a finger curling into the palm with each item on his list. He paused for effect before growling the last of the sentence, the final finger dropping to form a clenched fist. ??and you wanted to kill my boy.?
[color=blue:edda570bea][i:edda570bea]Fate whispered to the Warrior
"You cannot withstand the storm"

And the Warrior whispered back
"I am the storm"

-Anon[/i:edda570bea][/color:edda570bea]

Lucius DeAuster

  • Moderator
  • Old Wyrm
  • *
  • Posts: 311
    • View Profile
Re: The Road of War
« Reply #55 on: December 08, 2011, 02:23:29 PM »
?NO!? Urevan had to be restrained again by Sir Herzog as he tried to lurch forward. Eliane also had to be held back by Harte as Lucius turned his glare toward Marlon. ?He?s just a child!?

?And by our people?s standards Daniel still be a boy. And Cieara be even younger.? Fiona shot back as her husband started toward Marlon and his guard.  She leaned forward, gripping the arms of her chair as she glared at the writhing Urevan. ?But that nae stopped ye from trying to decide their fate.?

Lucius came to a stop beside the guard holding Marlon in place, his lips curled in contempt as he regarded Urevan. ?I do not wage war on children, and I will not kill your son.? Eliane wilted at his words, sagging against her brother with a sob as the Pandemonium Lord continued, looking out at the assembled court.

?I have spoken with one of my new counterparts, and he has agreed to sponsor the boy.? Another scream of outrage from Urevan forced Lucius to stop speaking for several seconds, allowing a general whispered din to start up again among the gathered nobles. Lucius had to raise his voice to continue and regain control of the assembly. ?He will be placed with a family in a small community, where it is hoped that he will learn the values of honest work and of community well away from the influence of any court.? His head tilted slightly, as though a flash of insight had come, and then gave a slanted look at Urevan. ?Perhaps he may even rejoin the court of Mercivya and rebuild the name of Urevan.?

The guard released his hold on Marlon at a nod, and the young boy ran to Eliane who stooped to gather him into a deep hug. As Lucius turned away from Urevan he paused for a few seconds watching mother and son before moving up the dais to sit down. At that unspoken signal the guards surrounding the fallen noble grabbed his shoulders and dragged him to the foot of the dais where he was unceremoniously dumped on the floor. Lucius leaned forward slightly where he sat, his eyes again narrowing as he regarded Urevan.  The guards stepped back so as not to obstruct the view of the proceedings as the nobleman struggled to his feet, his efforts hampered by the heavy chains. Finally he stood, if a little wavering, and returned the glare from the three sitting before him. ?Nickolas Urevan, before I pass judgement, you have this opportunity to address the throne and people.?

?You lowborn piece of filth?how dare you think you can sit there and judge me.? His voice was rough, the throat tender from his protests earlier, but as Urevan spoke his tone rose in strength, the edge that he had held for many years in these very halls returning. ?You think you?ve won? You have no idea what you have taken from me. But you?ll know?you?ll know.? He paused, wincing as he tried to adjust the chains binding his arms to his torso and the metal bit into the already-raw sores of his arms and shoulders. ?You can kill me now, and it?s a good thing you are, because I swear on everything holy and not, I WILL see you dead. All of you.? Bloodshot eyes darted between the three before he leaned over as much as he dared to spit on the gleaming marble of the dais.

The crowd began to murmur amongst themselves as Lucius sat unmoving for a long moment, simply staring at Urevan. Fiona mirrored her husband?s glare, ice-green eyes boring into the nobleman with as much hatred as her beloved felt. Myrialla however looked upon him with something akin to sorrow, the fiery mane of hair sweeping slowly over her shoulders as she shook her head. The soft backdrop of conversation died away as another sound grew in the hall: that of mirthless laughter.

A grim smirk split Lucius?s bewhiskered features as his shoulders slowly heaved with the disdainful chortles. Clapping his hands together in mocking tribute the Pandemonium Lord leaned forward in his chair to speak. ?Well said, Urevan. Well said indeed. I had heard you were a skilled orator, but I truly did not appreciate the power of your words until today.? His snort of derision was conveyance enough of his true feelings, the hate radiating off him in palpable waves. ?In fact, it is with the majesty of your eloquent speech that you have managed to sway this barbarous heart.?

It was evident to everyone that he was mocking Urevan, but Lucius?s words caught the assemblage off-guard once again, everyone having expected the fallen nobleman to be condemned to the headman?s axe. His voice rose in timbre as he continued to speak over the shocked whispers. ?Yes, Nickolas Urevan, I sentence you to live. You will be imprisoned in your own oubliette under the Bastion of Durance, where you will be fed well and your needs tended.? Urevan rocked back in stupefaction far enough that one of the guards had to step over and stop him with a hand to the back of his neck. ?Yes, Lord Urevan, I want you to live a long time, and remember.? Lucius?s right hand came up, a small clear globe held aloft in his fingertips for all to see. ?Because your memories are all you have left.? He brought his fingertips together in a sudden movement, shattering the image orb that had been sent to Urevan so long ago.

A flick of the wrist sent the shards flying toward Urevan, and the nobleman flinched back in reflex. ?Get this trash out of my sight.? The guards surrounded Urevan, who struggled as much as he could against their grip as they dragged him unceremoniously along the aisle to the doors leading out of the halls.
[color=blue:edda570bea][i:edda570bea]Fate whispered to the Warrior
"You cannot withstand the storm"

And the Warrior whispered back
"I am the storm"

-Anon[/i:edda570bea][/color:edda570bea]

Lucius DeAuster

  • Moderator
  • Old Wyrm
  • *
  • Posts: 311
    • View Profile
Re: The Road of War
« Reply #56 on: January 20, 2012, 04:16:39 PM »
Kitian looked toward Lorcain as the hall filled with the buzz of whispered conversation. For his part Fiona?s brother held a stoic expression, though when he returned the gaze she could see an emotional fire twinkling in the depths of his eyes. Leiance was softly laughing, having started when Urevan was dragged out of the halls. "Lucius thinks this be a safe way of dealing with the likes of him?"
?If Urevan were to be executed, he becomes a martyr.? The duke from Malirid looked to Kitian as he spoke, though his eyes roamed along the gathered nobles as he sought to gauge their demeanor. ?This way, not only does he demonstrate mercy, but he can quietly hold the well-being of Urevan over the heads of any supporters he doesn?t yet know.?

?And keep them at bay, should they be planning anything.? She nodded slowly in reply as she looked back to the dais where Lucius, Fiona and Myrialla sat whispering among themselves. ?Your idea, I?m guessing?? Leiance merely smirked in reply, having overheard the growl from Kitian?s other side. It was obvious that Lorcain had other ideas when dealing with Urevan.

?My lords and ladies?? Lucius?s strong voice brought their attention back to the front where he had once again come to his feet, his arms spread and palms upward as if in benediction. ?You have seen my judgment, and now we have a decision to make, you and I.? Slowly he stepped down, coming to the floor and placing himself level with the assemblage. ?Contrary to the rumors that have been prevalent about myself and my motives, I have no desire to take from you your titles, lands or wealth. Just the opposite, I would hope that together, you and I can mold this realm and guide it forward for the betterment of ourselves and the people that rely on us for protection and guidance.? Looking to the side Lucius made a quick gesture prompting two pages to bring a chest forward. The chest was set in the aisle before Lucius, and he waited for the pages to retreat back to their positions before speaking again.

?In the spirit of new beginnings, I give you this.? He motioned to the chest with his right hand as he spoke, his eyes roaming over those gathered. ?In this chest are the collected materials that Urevan held to ensure your cooperation and loyalty.? Pausing for a few seconds, he let a wry half-smile cross his features as the mood of the nobles shifted, a darker pall falling over the emotional wash of the room. He would have to thank Urevan later for this gift.  ?Therefore, I give this to you as a symbol of my commitment to the future.? Lucius?s hand closed into a fist, and a wave of astonishment rippled through the gathered nobility as a black cloud formed over the chest, boiling for several seconds before falling away like a morning mist and leaving an empty spot where the chest had rested.

?To be honest, I am not interested in the skeletons that may be in your closets, nor am I interested in the intrigues that invariably surround the court.? Lucius had to raise his voice to be heard over the din, and he again stopped for a moment to let the assemblage regain a semblance of calm. When he spoke next however Lucius?s timbre held a thread of iron. ?I do, however, expect your loyalty to the throne and the realm.?

Slowly he looked around the room, taking in the somber faces that regarded him. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Leiance nodding slightly in approval, while Kitian also looked around those standing by Lorcain and herself. ?I do not want any pretentious displays of fealty. All I ask is that you show your loyalty to the throne.? Lucius half-turned and looked toward the dais, the smile taking a hint of warmth when it was only Fiona and Myrialla who could see it.

After an eternity of a moment it was The Duke of Blackcrest that first moved, slowly dropping to a knee with his head bowed. His sister Eliane followed suit, dropping into a courtesy, one hand holding her skirts while the other urged her son Marlon to do the same, the young boy awkwardly aping his uncle. First in pairs then more the assemblage showed courtesy toward the dais, the only sound in the hall being the rustling of fabric and the occasional grunt coming from those older noblemen. Leiance dropped into a half-bow as Kitian curtseyed, until only Lorcain remained standing upright. He folded his arms as he nodded once toward his sister and Myrialla, and neither could truly hide the amusement at his blatantly disrespectful behavior.

None of the three on the dais would have it any other way.

?My friends, please rise.? Lucius?s voice rang out as he turned back around, his hands motioning for the nobles to stand. ?Over the next weeks I will be meeting with each of you to discuss your individual needs and desires, and we will look to chart a new future for Mercivya and its people.?
[color=blue:edda570bea][i:edda570bea]Fate whispered to the Warrior
"You cannot withstand the storm"

And the Warrior whispered back
"I am the storm"

-Anon[/i:edda570bea][/color:edda570bea]

Lucius DeAuster

  • Moderator
  • Old Wyrm
  • *
  • Posts: 311
    • View Profile
Re: The Road of War
« Reply #57 on: May 28, 2012, 07:16:55 PM »
?You may have made a mistake letting the boy live.? Leiance took the glass proffered by Lucius and waited for the Pandemonium Lord and newly-coronate ruler of Mercivya to set the bottle of brandy to the table and turn back toward him. After the gathering with the nobility of the realm Lucius had bid his family and friends join him in the smaller well-appointed study set off the throne room to celebrate the successful ending of the campaign started months before in a similar conclave in Gharnholme.

 ?He could nae kill him!? Myrialla spoke up from where she sat on the couch beside Kaelyn and Cieara, the glass of juice balanced carefully on a bent knee as she looked aghast at Leiance. ?Not in cold blood! None would have stood for it!?

?Perhaps, but is it wise to leave a potential enemy alive?? The Maliridian nobleman?s eyes swept around the room, from the couch to the wing-backed chair by the hearth where Kitian reclined, Lorcain lurking behind her. Daniel sat by the door, the stark white of bandages peeking from under the collar of the simple shirt. The wounds he suffered during the fight with the dragon-kin Garis were slowly healing even with Kaelyn and Myrialla?s attentions. Despite their admonitions he had insisted on being present during the coronation, as had Cieara. Lucius had acquiesced to Leiance?s demand that they not be in the hall and present too tempting a target for any allies Urevan may still have, so the two along with Kaelyn had watched the proceedings from one of the balconies. ?He is a rallying point with a claim to the throne that many may back.?

?He will nae be a problem for some years yet, and those who support Urevan know his continued well-being is contingent on their being discrete.? Fiona leaned forward in her chair, her fingernail idly running along the engravings of the small chest sitting in front of her as she regarded Leiance. ?That, along with the documents in here, will keep the nobility in line.? Lucius chuckled softly as he moved around the desk to stand beside Leiance near the hearth, his own gaze slipping toward the chest for a few seconds. It had been a trivial matter for Fiona to call the shadows to sweep away the chest earlier, a bit of theatrics to sway the gathered nobles with Lucius?s apparent naivete.

?As I said in the hall, I do not wage war on children. Let Marlon grow under the watchful eye of King Korrelos in Dragon?s Land. If he later wishes to try to reclaim the throne, then we will deal with him.? A predatory smile grew as he clasped Leiance?s shoulder, who returned the gesture in kind, before he raised his glass to the room. ?To victory.? Everyone brought up their glasses and repeated the toast, the room then filling with the light laughter and conversation only victory and friendship can bring.

 ***

The shove sent Urevan stumbling forward into the center of the small oubliette, the once-proud nobleman turned back in time to see the heavy oak door slam shut behind him. The tumblers of the lock falling into place were impossibly loud, almost drowning out the words of the guards as they walked away.  Soon even those sounds faded away and left Urevan within the silence of the deep prison. The chains had been removed upon his arrival at the bastille, but some of the lacerations caused by the unforgiving iron still oozed blood staining the white silk doublet he had been permitted to keep. The aches of the days of imprisonment in the heavy shackles, on top of the beating that Lorcain had inflicted when foiling his escape had him wincing with each halting movement.

Slowly turning in place Urevan took stock of his surroundings, his new home. For now, he thought bitterly to himself. Though he had been to the oubliette several times to gloat over an imprisoned foe he had never paid much attention to the chamber itself. A heavy table rested along one wall, the chair that accompanied it lay on its side underneath. A deeper niche held a plain bed, the only covering a thin blanket haphazardly folded at one end. The room was otherwise bare of furnishings, the wall bereft of any torch sconces that might be used by a prisoner to hang themselves. The only light source was a grated opening far above, which also provided a intermittent amount of water in the form of a slow drip, the runoff flowing down the sloped floor to another small drain set in center of the room.

?Damn that bastard and his bitch!? Urevan spat to the side then winced at the sharp pain arcing through his shoulders. He shuffled to the table to get the battered tin cup so he could capture some of the dripping water. Even tepid it was better than any he had received in captivity.

Captivity. That thought stung him more than anything. When the curtain hall had been breached and his escape thwarted he had resigned himself to whatever death DeAuster had devised. In fact he had welcomed it for his death would have been a rallying for Marlon. The Dukes would have gathered behind his son and reclaimed Mercivya for the Urevan line. The surrounding kingdoms would have acknowledged the young king with his Regent-mother and all would have been well. But DeAuster had outplayed him. He knew full well that he was leverage now, and with Blackcrest appearing to back the new Sovereign hopes for his revenge were rapidly fading.

His dark musings were interrupted by a scraping noise at the door. Urevan eased in that direction intent on trying to look through the barred window when the dim light of the corridor was obscured. Urevan?s eyes widened and he stumbled backward, his cup clattering to the floor as he tripped and collapsed against the bed. His shocked gaze was locked on the deaths-head of William Gerard, the man he had trusted with so many things to keep his own hands clean in the past. Gerard?s eyes were rolled back, the bloated tongue forced past pallid lips by the lance that had been driven upward through the torn neck.

Urevan?s scream of rage and denial echoed down the corridor, bringing a slow half-grin to Commander Farriss as the door to that wing of the dungeon was closed behind him. Giving the guard a nod he started for the stairs leading toward the main hall of the bastille. The blight on his personal honor had been wiped away, and by the time he stepped out into the afternoon sun the smirk had grown into a full-blown grin, soon followed by soft laughter as he spurred his horse around and started back for the palace.


Wish I may, wish I might,
Have this I wish tonight?
Are you satisfied?

Dig for gold, dig for fame,
You dig to make your name?
Are you pacified?

All the wants you waste
All the things you?ve chased?

Then it all crashes down
And you break your crown
And you point your finger
But there?s no one around

Just want one thing
Just to play the king
But the castles crumbled
And you?re left with just a name

Where?s your crown, King Nothing?
Where?s your crown?

Metallica ? King Nothing
[color=blue:edda570bea][i:edda570bea]Fate whispered to the Warrior
"You cannot withstand the storm"

And the Warrior whispered back
"I am the storm"

-Anon[/i:edda570bea][/color:edda570bea]