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Full Version: [IC] Swords Beneath the Starlight
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Prologue: A Dying Dream

The Ilyun League is dead.

Only a few smouldering ashes remain to be kicked over - a few kingdoms still struggling to maintain their land. Achaim has fallen. Orun has fallen. Tuathain has fallen. Cheswick, Ossory, Lyra, the Union of Cities - all have fallen. Only the mysterious Peasant Federation and the Kingdom of Renault hold strong, and it is not expected that their resistance will last forever.

You are a band of refugees, following the banner of Captain Brenden - he refuses to answer what he was captain of, but he's damn good with an axe, so you've followed him all the same. Those sorts of skills are useful in times like these. First came Mazelina, then Logan, then Casey, then Airitech. You're not sure who came first between Milo and Sunny, but you know the Captain is suspicious of both. Lyander and Baylee are the newest onboard, and they're the freshest overall. You walk across the plains and hills, day in and day out, hoping to find some sign of a Renaultian banner. For many of you, the journey has already been long, exhausting. The Captain insists that you're getting close. You'll reach safety soon.

Day is turning to dusk one day as the captain holds up a hand.
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"ALRIGHT," he shouts, "I know this land. We're getting close. Damn close. This will be our last rest before we're marching non-stop to Renault."
He lowers the hand. "Get your things together. Get some sleep. Get what food you've got to get. It's all or nothing from here on out."
For a woman who is supposed to never be lonely, Mazelina found those first moments with Captain Brenden that all the same. Never letting it show, she did her best to keep a smile on her face, offering words of tranquility and wisdom for all around her. The more people arrived, the less she could embrace and fall into those feelings. There were people here, people that needed her, perhaps people everywhere that needed help like hers.

The dirt crunches underfoot as she slows her steps, coming to a stop and dropping her pack. Her shoulders ache, and she rubs at them as she casts a glance back at her companions. The corners of her lips upturn as she does so, her smile returning, and her eyes wide and bright
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"How is everyone feeling?" It's an important question, one she always asked at the end of a day. "Let's all respond to the check-in with words and not just grunts, please!"
"Hmm..." Sunny hummed, clasping her hands together as the group came to a stop. She had that same serene smile plastered on her face that she's had since day one, and took a second to close her eyes and think. After a few moments of silence, Sunny simply dropped herself down onto the ground, dirt puffing up around her. She shrugged her shoulders, letting her pack fall off of her back, and finally spoke up in response.

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"I feel very glad that we've once again made it such an incredible distance!" Sunny replied, eyes opening up. It was truly unfortunate that she always responded to prompts like these. Still, her tone was upbeat, for what it was worth. "To be able to make such generous ground... truly wonderful indeed."

Sunny grinned, glancing around at her traveling companions. "In thanks, I will be engaging in a prayer towards Progress. Any who desire to join are more than welcome." And with that, she was again off in her own little world; head bowed, eyes closed, hands clasped, and voice a reverent whisper.
Milo pulled his cloak close around him, an action that almost seems instinctual at this point.  Truthfully, it almost is.  It felt like the only thing that disguised who he had been.  Captain Brenden didn't trust him regardless, and he was probably right to.

Just as instinctually, he almost steps forward to join Sunny in prayer, before catching himself and stepping back.  Those days of doctrine and zealotry, as comforting and simple as they had been in the past, were behind him and he was long past considering going back.

He turns back, instead, to Mazelina.

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"I'm fine, thanks.  Hope you're, um, doing alright too."  The small amount of recognition, of care - regardless of how general it is - almost makes him appreciate the long journey.

Milo sets his pack down, making sure it's what he assumes will be a fair distance from where the center of the camp will be.  He then reslings his lance over his shoulder.

"Assuming it's fine with the rest of you, I can take first watch."
As soon as they stop, Baylee is looking around at the tall grass and hills in the distance. She never thought there could be so much grass without trees around. It’s all surreal to her, like this is one extended dream and then eventually she’s going to wake back up in her home. That’s not going to happen though, and she knows it. She can’t go back. There is nothing TO go back to.  She’s here with these people now. For better or worse.

She turns to look at them as they start chatting. She Glances at the odd cheery girl and furrows her eyebrows, not even knowing about a god called Progress. 

She is about to let out a grunt to respond to the blue haired girl but caught herself before it was let out. She sighs and opens her mouth practically for the first time to them.
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“ ‘M fine. Walkin’ never bothered me.....”  She pauses. “If anyone needs food.. I kin help with that. I still recognize sum plants I kin gather ‘ere.” 
Ah, yes. Progress. It's a slap to the face, really, and wholly inappropriate to utter the name so jovially. Mazelina's stomach turns, and her throat tightens as she fights to keep venom from coating her tongue. Dore, grant her the strength to not bitch slap this little thing.

Instead, she smiles wider, the corners of her eyes crinkling with the force of it. Despite her over-compensation, it's all sincere, even if she does turn a little bit away from Sunny.

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"I sure am alright enough," she replies, selling that crock of shit with a smile. "Feel free to take first watch, Milo. Baylee, I can help gather some food as well. Whoever wants to tag along, let's go!" Wandering out into the grass was less dangerous in small groups, after all!
A smelly weirdo walks to Baylee and Mazelina.

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"I ken help with ye food gatherin' too, if ye want. Never been to them woods before, but seems familiar enough. Ha!"

He would make some snarky comment about "them Revotrian Rascals" praying for Progress yet not doing much at all 'cept prayin' and guardin'. However, the Revotrians paved over half of Ossory so maybe its better if those two blonde dumbasses were incompetent as possible.
The captain stares at Sunny for a long, hard minute. You get the sense that she gives him the creeps.

He shakes himself out of it.

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"No huntin'. We're too close to seeing this through to the end for one of you to go out there and get us caught. No. We're sittin' here and we're takin' a load off, and then we're marchin' on empty stomachs until we're somewhere friendly. No ifs, ands, or buts."

He mutters to himself, under his breath: "Freakin' kids, actin' like this is a goddessdamned picnic..."
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"Awright, then. Vigilance over starvin' to death, I guess."

Airitech makes some grumbling noises as he adapts to guard duty, nocking his bow and squinting at the horizon for the colors of the Republic. His grumpiness has proportionally increased with his hongriness, you see.
That smelly weirdo is Mazelina's friend! Mostly! He was always offering to help at the very least, and that's something that she can proper appreciate.

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"Understood, Captain." It's a quick affirmation, but she nods anyway, the smile staying on her face. Mazelina rummages through her packs, looking for any sort of food, herbs, or rations to spread throughout her party. Even that...little fucked up one. Everyone deserves a little comfort.
Baylee shrugs and then sits down. She searches through her own pack and pulls out a waterskin and starts drinking it. Well... they better not run out of food and rations, because she gets grumpy on an empty stomach.

She just grunts in response.
Lyander set his pack down, but refused to fall beside it. Instead, he gradually sit down. Didn't want to look weak next to all these adults, even though he was thinner than he should've been. The famine still left its mark on him.

The whole trip, he'd been taking as little food as possible, taking as many watches as possible, and never uttering a single complaint. He was striving towards excellence in whatever he did, because he was pretty dang sure it was the only way he'd get respect.

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"No hunting it is, Captain," Lyander said simply, agreeing without question. He was pretty sure that if the Captain were willing to lead a march on empty stomachs, there'd be a damn good reason for it.
Casey watches on as the conversation unfolds. Tension has hung heavily in the air since this little band had crossed paths with him, and it's easy to see why. As far as he can tell, there isn't an ounce of trust between the lot of them. How could they trust one another, when some of their ranks are boldly praying to the very god this land was attacked in the name of? The only thing Casey's put his faith in is the inherent strength in numbers. For whatever reason, this group had seen fit to take him among their ranks, and he sees no reason to rock the boat. This is his first time outside of Achaim, after all. Who knows what's waiting beyond each new horizon?

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"I'll help you keep watch, Milo," Casey offers, flashing a small smile at the soldier. Milo seems to be even more on edge than the rest of their party, and Casey wonders if the man might open up with a bit of prodding and privacy. Plus, this way Casey will be able to keep an eye on him, though he'll keep those intentions to himself. As far as his companions need to know, he's simply lending a hand.
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"Mind if I help?"

Airitech saunters to Casey and Milo, because ostensibly he was on guard duty. Milo was on guard duty and that nervous lad seemed to also be going on guard duty. With Airitech joining, it will be three, which is definitely a lucky number - if you were from Ossory.

Also he was fuckin' bored and he is willy to hold up armistice with these Two Sketchy Dudes to kill time and not think about food.
Milo was wondering if he even had any food or old rations left in his pack for when his shift was over.  He had taken as much as he could carry when he deserted but that was a long time ago, and it wasn't like he was traveling alone anymore.  His thoughts were quickly interrupted as Casey came up and joined him. 

Looking back to Casey, Milo gave a somewhat forced smile back.  It wasn't as convincing as Mazelina's, but he was still genuinely grateful enough pass as awkward at worst.

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"Yeah, thanks.  I'd appreciate the company - Casey, was it?"

As far as Milo knew, Casey was one of the early members of Brenden's ragtag group, though truth be told he didn't know too much about him.  Part and parcel with having a group this diverse and desperate he supposed, and he would be the last to talk about keeping to himself.  Regardless, Milo would rather have someone to share a shift with besides the vagrant who kept shooting him dirty looks.

"Looking forward to being able to rest without constantly being on guard..." Milo pauses, looking back towards where the group had just come from.  "Though I suppose just being in Renault might not change that."
Speak of the devil.  Airitech.  Milo was still uncomfortable pronouncing the man's name without butchering it so he decided not to take the chance.

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"Of course.  Three's better than two I think, and a hunter's eyes' are probably a good asset for it."  He nods towards Airitech's bow, presumably still nocked.  "Think something is close?"
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"Well! If they've got watch covered, the rest of us need to get some rest." Clapping her hands together, Mazelina eats the bit of bread she left for herself, after distributing a share to everyone else. Gotta be nice. Gotta extend courtesy and kindness to all of her party. Even if it wasn't always given to her! Ha! Ha! "Sleep well! Watchers, wake us when first shift is over, please."

Was she going to be able to actually sleep? Maybe not. But that's fine. She lays down to rest all the same, rolling onto her side.
((am sowwy palamedes))

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"Well, Brenden said we're restin', but I'm bored out of me goddamn mind so gotta keep busy. Idle hands are the devil's workshop and so forth, even with a bang-on bow. Ha!"
(No biggie, I shouldn't take a million years to post all the time :P.)

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"Makes sense, I'm feeling anxious as well.  It's been a long time since any of us have been close to taking a break that I'm not used to any of it."

When Mazelina passes by to offer them scraps he pauses his conversation to nod at her.  For a second she looks stressed maybe?  Agitated?  But no, it's gone in an instant.  It must have been his eyes, or the fading sunlight.

"Thank you Mazelina.  It's appreciated."
Sunny remains quiet, still evidently deep in prayer, seeming almost like she's sleeping. At least, she does until Mazelina approaches her. The instant the other woman is near, Sunny springs to her feet, her smile warm.

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"Thank you so very much! I'll be sure to repay this kindness when the chance swings around!" Sunny offers Mazelina a curt wave as she walks away. And once that's done, Sunny happily trots over to Captain Brendan.

"Captain, a question for you! When is our rest to be finished?" Her eyes are inquisitive as she stares him down. "I certainly hope we're not to be marching in the dark, though if you decree as such, I will definitely follow!"

Logan is asleep.

Specifically, Logan is asleep on the back of Morven, their beloved wyvern, who's been kind enough to do most of the walking for them. Probably would've been faster for them to fly, but there wasn't enough wyvern for everyone, and that would probably be pretty conspicuous.

Still, all the noise is eventually enough to wake them. Bleary-eyed, they yawn and have a look around. They were the second to join up with this little group, and honestly... they spend a lot of time sleeping when they're not on watch. At least they're conserving energy, but that poor wyvern is definitely underfed right now.

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"Oh, we stoppin' for the night? Tell me if ye need anyone else on watch, I guess. Gotta take shifts, aye?"
As you're prepping to take shifts, the Captain scans the horizon. His eyes catch smoke, and they widen.

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"Hells below!!!!"

Without warning, he jumps upon your group's only pack-horse and begins riding at full pace toward the billowing smoke! You've never seen him in such a panic.
Logan glances off at the rest of the group uncertainly.

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"...Should we follow him?"
Retroactively, Mazelina would smile at Sunny! Whoops! Just because she prays for someone that, uh, Mazelina is wary of doesn't mean she's not deserving of consideration and kindness.

Back in present time, if there's yelling that means Mazelina must get up! Rising to her feet, she grabs for her staff, squinting into the dark where the Captain rides.
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"Yes, we should! Let's all up and at 'em, please! Let's go!"
Casey bristles, one hand slipping under his cloak and wrapping around his knife handle.

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"Milo, Airitech," he calls, "Could you help me watch our flanks?" He's not so bold as to start barking orders, but someone has to play the rear guard.
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