[IC] Swords Beneath the Starlight

[IC] Swords Beneath the Starlight
RE: [IC] Swords Beneath the Starlight
Well! That hurt! Not as much as it could have hurt, maybe, but tell that to someone who just got themselves clawed up by a giant bird.

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"Uh! Sorry! No time to fight ye! Bye!"

Logan, panicking from their not-quite-grievous wounds, swoops right past the crow and dives for the fortress, hoping to find help and/or safety there!

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RE: [IC] Swords Beneath the Starlight
And so Logan darts into the castle!

The crow caws to Calmus. Panic immediately crosses his features.
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"Hells below! They've made it! Full retreat, immediately!"

Him and his compatriots fly across the sky, making quite the racket as they do. Eventually it's enough to catch even Hondo's attention.

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"Wh-- Gods be damned, they're with th'birds, aren't they?! Gah! I'm here t'fill my belly, not have it ripped open! Let's get outta here boys!"

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+150 EXP!

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+2 levels!



Logan immediately find themselves met with the stares of a set of curious guards. Those guards rush off quickly and return within moments with a fine feathered fellow.
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"I take it you're from the party the good Lady Adara was to be sending? I welcome you to my outpost, then. I am Madoc, lord of this castle, brave fighter of the Sky Kings. I imagine the rest of your band is still approaching? Guards, to work." The two posted here immediately nod and swoop out from the castle.

"Please, follow me - I'll bring you to the lounge. You look as if you've just gotten through a hard battle, and rest is vital to recovery."



The rest of you watch as everyone retreats. Soon after, a pair of hawks land before you. One transforms almost immediately into a man, dressed in (clearly ceremonial) armor.

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"Excuse me -- I am here on behalf of Lord Madoc to lead your party to shelter in our castle. If you've no objections, it would be our honor to guide your way."
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RE: [IC] Swords Beneath the Starlight
Barnabas looked about after the fleeing wolves and birds, still shaken from that brief harmless flurry with Calmus, and bristles a bit at the two hawks landing before they explain themselves. He gives a small keening sound, glancing over at Baylee and Milo, then back to where Sunny had been and the rest of the group. His wolf form seemed to focus, eyes frowning as he shifted back, in rougher looking stages compared to the more swift shift of the guard.

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"Thanks for your arrival, that was beginning to be worrying."
"Don't get me started on Henchmen."
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RE: [IC] Swords Beneath the Starlight
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Airitech wrinkles his nose at the fancyness of the bird man, but he knows not to look at a gift horse in the mouth.

"Whoof, yeah. Me, Carlyle, and t'others, would 'preciate a lead back to your lord's home."
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RE: [IC] Swords Beneath the Starlight
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"Uh- aye! Aye, that's us. Ran into some trouble with some... bandits? Think they were bandits. ...Sounded like the wolf-lookin' ones wanted to eat us, but. Aye. Thanks fer the help! Rushed here soon as I could."
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RE: [IC] Swords Beneath the Starlight
Milo exhales and uses his lance to prop himself up for a moment.  That was... too close.  The way those wolves' fangs tore through his armour made him all the more grateful that at least some of them were on his side.  He looks towards the envoy.

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"That'd be... great, yeah.  Did Logan make it to you?  Our companion on the wyvern, that is."
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RE: [IC] Swords Beneath the Starlight
Sunny lets out a relieved sigh, her arms slumping to her sides. She should have expected that her zeal would come back to bite her, though she didn't think it would happen quite this literally. Still... she would not waver. This was just another trial.

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"Some shelter would be most appreciated."
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RE: [IC] Swords Beneath the Starlight
It's quite a bit of a jog to catch up still, and Maz does so huffing and puffing, then starts tending to various wounds. Sunny first, though. Sunny is looking pretty bad, even she is trying to do so while they follow along.
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"Thank you for the guide," she says, before looking to Sunny and gauging the damage done to anyone else. Safe to say, Maz is prepared to start treating anyone dinged even a little bit!
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RE: [IC] Swords Beneath the Starlight
Saya transforms back into their human form and strides up confidently to the hawk guards.

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"Well-met, my distant cousins, and thank you for coming to our aid. Please, lead the way! I would be honored to meet with your lord."
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RE: [IC] Swords Beneath the Starlight
As the guards lead them to the castle's threshold, Casey rushes up alongside Mazelina and Sunny, unable to keep the concern off of his face.

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"Bloody Hell," he mutters, trying not to stare at the blood all over Sunny. He turns to Mazelina and asks, "Any way I can lend a hand?"
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RE: [IC] Swords Beneath the Starlight
Logan:

The solid looking fellow before you nods.

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"Yes. Wolves... Unblooded, more likely than bandits. I assume this is your first time in Laguz territory? There will be much to explain, then."



Everyone who isn't Logan:
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"They did. Our Lord took them in; there's nothing left to fear."

After a short march, the group is reunited. The NPCs you left behind join your party along the way. Roland seems concerned for Sunny, Lain for the rest of you, and Adara is mostly preoccupied with getting the story of what went down from Dorian. Lys helps Mazelina (though her hands shake, as if she fears a mistake in her presence), and you get Sunny healed up in no time!

Once you're in the castle, you are escorted to the room of the castle the lord and Logan wait in.

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"Ah, just in time - welcome, friends. I am Madoc, defender of the horizon. I was just explaining the nature of matters out here on the frontier. I know Adara here needs no briefing, nor does Alexis. The rest of you probably deserve to know who just attacked you and why, though. If you'd be so kind as to join us, I'd be happy to inform all of you who would listen."
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RE: [IC] Swords Beneath the Starlight
For a moment, Mazelina blinks. Then, she smiles at Casey bright enough to crinkle her eyes.
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"Ah-- sure. Bandage holding is always good! Keeping it in place, wrapping the little things-- thank you, Casey." With Lys's and Casey's help, this is way easier! Maz tosses one of those bright smiles Lys's way as well, hoping it might help the nerves.
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"I'd love to hear anything you have to offer as to what just happened. It was...sudden, to put it mildly." Jarring, terrifying, confusing- tons of things.
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RE: [IC] Swords Beneath the Starlight
The birdman nods, his soft yellow hair bouncing as he does.

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"Very well. From the sound of it, you ran into two parties - wolves, and, by the sound of it, birds. Likely corvids from the Kingdom of Death. The laguz of the Wolf King's court are a warlike people, dedicated to battle. They see themselves as protectors of the goddess, and have long had rituals dedicated to reinforcing that role -- rites of passage which demand a pup face an opponent in combat and emerge victorious, having stared through the gate of death and come out the other side. Given the prohibition of bloodshed in their sacred forests, though, they've had to resort to... other methods to see their culture continued. From what I know of history, they had some early skirmishes against the Kings of Lions, all of which ended poorly for them, so instead they came to fight in the lands of the beorc. They turned from guardians, protectors, and warriors to callous raiders. The party you ran into was likely a band of these Unblooded. They're the most eager to kill, and the most vicious about it, from what I've heard. You humans hardly qualify as people to most of them, I'm sorry to say."

He sweeps a lock of hair behind his ear and clears his throat, clearly eager to move on to more pleasant topics.

"As for the birds, as I mentioned previous, they were likely from the Kingdom of Death. It's less a 'kingdom', if I'm being honest, and more a band of pretentious mercenaries. They're the descendants of my kingdom's exiles, living off the scraps of war and bloodshed, turning to banditry in times of peace. In that sense, as a representative of the land of the Bird Kings, I must apologize for the inconvenience, as we bear some share of the responsibility for their actions."

He offers you all a bow.

"As a way of expressing my apology, I'd be happy to answer any more questions you might have about the Laguz kingdoms and my relationship with Adara's resistance. Additionally, you're more than welcome to stay here for the next week or so."
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"Hah! An opportunity I'd encourage you to take. Birdfolk don't often offer up information for free."
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RE: [IC] Swords Beneath the Starlight
Barnabas's eyes darkened, sad to hear that the description of the first of his kin from outside his own lands was as nothing more than murder hungry bandits. He'd been initially interesting in these rituals as the Goddess's protectors but... Even if taken in the best light, he'd not seen any faith or honour in those eyes, just a sick, satisfaction and will to snuff out another's life.

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"Since you're unlikely to hear it from them, I would apologise for the wickedness they've caused in your lands. I..." He just, made a sad sound in the back of his throat, ears flat before turning it into a guttural sigh. "Thank you Madoc for your nobility shown in both your rescue and role as host."
"Don't get me started on Henchmen."
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RE: [IC] Swords Beneath the Starlight
Saya seems very dismayed by the news that the hostile birds were exiles as well.



"I am sad that the exiles of your kingdom have turned to banditry... and I hope that there are more noble folk like you among the Laguz kingdoms."
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RE: [IC] Swords Beneath the Starlight
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"Hrm, 'tis tragic the wolf-kingdom had fell so badly. 'Wonder how it ties to the Ossory."

"..."

"I hafta 'dmit, part of while I kept goin' with this merry band of idiot, is 'cuz I wanted to figure out what's the truth, and what's highfalutin lies in the history of my peoples. Not sayin' Ossory is a high an'noble utopia 'cuz that's stupid-ass way t'view things, but I like to know before I die t'Progress."

"Anyway, I would accept ye invitation. My legs are killin' me anyway. Hah!"
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RE: [IC] Swords Beneath the Starlight
The Wolf King's Court? Interesting. Mazelina feels a flash of curiosity, and shakes it quickly away. Would it be bad to want to learn more? Hard to say.
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"It's not your fault, Barnabas. Nothing you should shoulder responsibility for, at the very least." She pauses, brow furrowing. "The truth would indeed be nice to know. This...violence like this can't happen without a deeper reason, right? More than just simple targeting, there has to be more."

After a pause she loosens up, offering a smile.
"And yes! It would be lovely to stay here. Thank you for your generosity."
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RE: [IC] Swords Beneath the Starlight
Milo is mostly just looking around in stunned silence.  The bandits they had just fought more or less fit with what (exceedingly little) he had ever known of the laguz races, but this was something else entirely.

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"How have we never heard of your people?" He mutters to himself before catching it and properly addressing Madoc.  "I uh, that is, thanks for the hospitality and help.  What can you tell us about your people, or that lion king you mentioned?  Also, begging your pardon, but I guess I am kind of curious about your people's relationship with Adara and hers.  Is it because of what's been going on in our lands?"
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RE: [IC] Swords Beneath the Starlight
Baylee appreciates the shelter they are giving their band. She sits by the wall and just listens in on the conversations. It’s hard for her to understand but she does try. It’s a good thing Logan got to the castle when they did. She didn’t want to see anyone else fall in battle and she herself could barely scratch the unblooded wolves at all. Can’t imagine that battle would’ve lasted in their favor for long. 

She just sat there, pondering.
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RE: [IC] Swords Beneath the Starlight
Barnabas shook his head grimly, but, gave Mazelina a grateful look regardless, features peaking slightly. "I know. But it doesn't change how I feel for the acts of my kin. Just because it wasn't me doesn't mean I can see and hear the sins they commit and not wish to attempt to amend somehow.

Airitech got a more intense glance, as if Barnabas had noticed the archer anew, then nodded slightly. "Knowing the history of your past is a fine thing. We are all products of it afterall." He said gravely, slowly, studying. "We should talk at some point maybe?" He asked more softly, stepping a little closer to Airitech and trying to mentally offer out a social reach through body language, studying Airitech's also curiously.
"Don't get me started on Henchmen."
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RE: [IC] Swords Beneath the Starlight
Airitech’s stink lessens, as if it was an offering of peace, as though Airitech communicates through smell.

“...That would be good, aye.”
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RE: [IC] Swords Beneath the Starlight
Logan looks up as everyone heads inside! They're looking a little beaten up, but not half as bad as, say, Sunny.

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"Oh, looks like ye all made it! ...Ye did all make it, aye? Not forgettin' anyone?"
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RE: [IC] Swords Beneath the Starlight
Madoc smiles gently at Barnabas.

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"Oh, no - they wouldn't dare interfere with our mountains. Not only are they ill suited for the terrain, but our ability to undermine, monitor, and sabotage is feared by all. The Bird Kings are secure as ever, small as our territory is."

He turns then to Saya. "Your tears are wasted upon the corvids. They are no more of the Bird Kingdom than a lion. They might as well be as foreign as-- well, as you, to be frank. We are kin, yes, but kin with distance. Don't waste space in your heart for them."

Not knowing anything at all about Ossory, he turns to Maz and Milo.

"Unfortunately, the answers I've given are about as deep as they go, far as I'm aware at least. They think battle to be a holy ritual, and in having been denied it, they seek other ways to appease their Goddess. As for the lack of communication between our people: I assure you it's entirely intentional. The lands of the Beorc are fractured, ruled immorally, and prone to foolhardy expansionism. It is the belief of the Laguz Kingdoms that it is hardly worth trading with such a riotous people, to grow reliant on economies which might be overturned with the change of a ruler. Moreover, your own people frequently raid us, attempt to slaughter us, and even try to enslave us. Unsuccessful as these people are, it has left a bad taste in the mouth of most. I am not entirely inclined to agree with the generalizations of the crowd, nor are my immediate superiors - hence the relationship we've formed with Adara in recent years. Our faction hopes to see an overturn of the government of the border kingdoms of Renault and Cheswick by supporting Adara's revolutionary peasant movement with arms and shelter when possible. In exchange, Adara does what she can to see Laguz slaves freed. Recent events have only strengthened our resolve to see things changed, but given the rather... underground nature of this transaction, we haven't been able to intervene directly."

At this point, Adara is beaming, though her two compatriots -- Dorian and Alexis -- have unceremoniously departed the room.

"As for the King of Lions - she is possibly the most powerful woman in all the continent, both physically and politically. Hers is the most powerful kingdom by far. Its size, population, and majesty is only made more spectacular by the fact that her court is home to the Prophet and his family. It's-- ah, wait-- you are not familiar with him either, I assume? Let me clarify: the Prophet is the last living being who has spoken directly with the Goddess."
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RE: [IC] Swords Beneath the Starlight
Casey listens intently as Madoc speaks, interested to learn that the relations between laguz kingdoms are similarly hostile to those of the beorc. He wonders whether that fact might complicate this war even further, especially as Madoc goes on to explain that his arrangement with Adara and her resistance is 'underground' in nature. Adara doesn't seemed one bit phased by this, but it's around this point that Casey realizes Adara's entourage has disappeared. He could've sworn they'd been in the room, but now Alex and Dorian are nowhere to be found. Madoc continues speaking, but Casey has lost his focus. He quietly makes his way to the back of their group, slipping away without a word. He hopes to find Dorian and Alexis somewhere in this fortress.




Some time later, Casey seeks out Sunny.

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"There you are!" he calls once he's found her. "Have you had a chance to explore yet? This place is bloody massive, I've never seen anything like it!" His eyes are sparkling with excitement as he speaks, darting around the room to scan their surroundings before finally settling back onto Sunny.
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