• Mature • Winning the war

The capital city of the of Rynmere, here is seated the only King in Idalos.
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Elyna
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35th Zi'da 716
The young woman steadied herself on the edge of the bed, her back exposed to the door. A loose shirt covered her shoulders and most of the bruising that purpled her skin. Mottled black and grey spread from her right shoulder, across the trench of her spine and wove down the side of her body and the curve of her hip. Elyna stretched out her legs and bent to pull on her breaches. She hissed in a breath as the scratches broke on the surface of her left arm. Still, she persisted and managed to slide her feet through the holes and ease the warm wool up her legs. The trousers fastened, the skyrider took a moment to catch her breath. Crimson lines appeared on the pale fabric of the shirt sleave. The blood seeping through and starting to spread and blur. Swearing, the young woman pulled at the cloth, trying to free the fibres from the open wound.

Since she’d crashed into the snow, her body had been working against her, again. She didn’t think she’d ever forget the look on Malcolm’s face as he’d coaxed the Volareon aside, the wide-winged creature had reared up, and threatening to strike the warden as he’d bent. Strong arms slipped beneath her neck and knees and lifted her up, out of the unforgiving snow. Never, never in her life had she been so cold. Clothes soaked through with melted snow, that started freezing again. The Volareon had sheltered her, and she’d dozed, pain lancing through her shoulder whenever she moved. It had been crippling and the snow had been a soft bed. So cold, and then slowly the sensation had faded. The creature had been unwilling to leave her side, and even less willing to let Malcolm claim her back from the wasteland.

The army had arrived in Berwick and the wounded found rooms in one of the small local taverns. At least she’d managed to pull her breaches on. She stood, slid her feet into boots and sat again, bending to fasten the laces.
Outside it was snowing, again. Soft flurry’s dropping from a white sky. The room smelt of the dried lavender pouches that she’d found beneath her pillow the first night. Her gear, including the Volareon saddle and harness was neatly packed in the corner. The young woman inspected the bloody stain on her shirt and sighed. In their descent she’d caught her arm on something and the scratches ran deep.

The inn was quiet, preparing for another evening before the army moved on again. Time to return to her unit. The Captain stood again, looking over her shoulder at the sound of bootsteps on the stairs. She started to fasten the ties on her shirt, pulling it across her skin to hide the bruises beneath.
Last edited by Elyna on Tue Apr 11, 2017 9:50 am, edited 4 times in total. word count: 491
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Winning the War

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Edmund was being held in a room below the inn. It was cold. The windows were iced over and difficult to see through, and the place smelled like old wine and mouse piss. The wooden stairs groaned as Malcolm walked down into the cellar. His breath clouded in front of him, lingering like a wisp that refused to pass on.
The warden stopped in front of the young noble and stared. Edmund’s hands were tied, and he sat with his head bowed, shivering and half asleep. “Water,” he whispered.
Malcolm walked over to the pot above the fireplace only to find the water had frozen over. He gestured for one of the guards to start a fire and poured Edmund a drink from the flask on his hip. As Edmund raised the cup to his lips, Malcolm reached out with a dagger and stopped him.
“Where is my son?”
Edmund’s lower lip dropped before he chose to speak. “I don't know.”
Malcolm took the cup from him and placed it just out of reach on the table. Edmund had been given very little to eat or drink, though Malcolm suspected Elyna had sent someone to take care of him, the army didn't have enough to share amongst themselves, let alone with a traitor.
The warden took off his gloves and tucked them into his weapon belt. “Do you know what your commanding officer sent me?” he asked.
Edmund gave a weak shake of his head.
“Fingers,” Malcolm told him, still holding the short, sharp blade. “Teeth… skin. Do you think, perhaps, I should return the favour?”
This seemed to get Edmund’s attention, and he sat up straight, eyes keen, fixed on the blade.
“I don't know where Vaughn is!”
“But you've seen him?”
Edmund looked down. Malcolm knew he was holding back.
“I guess I'll let you choose,” the warden drew closer. “Fingers, teeth, or flesh.”
Edmund shook in the chair, trying to loosen his bindings. “I don't know! I don't know!” He cried. “Elyna!” The nobleman had heard word that his sister was here with the army, but he hadn't seen her in the flesh.
“Five, four,” Malcolm started counting. “Tell me now or I'll pick.”
“Elyna!”
“Three, two…”
Edmund threw himself back against the chair in an attempt to send it backwards, and Malcolm helped him, kicking the front of it so that it toppled over and crashed against the floor.
“Fingers it is,” Malcolm told him, and knelt down to start cutting. His blade held against the nobleman’s thumb, drew blood before Edmund stopped him with two words.
“Raptor’s Rest!”
Last edited by Malcolm on Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:29 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 456
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Elyna
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“Elyna?”
Emily burst through the door as the Captain pulled the leather jerkin over her shoulders. Her friend looked pale, blonde hair pulled back and a scarf wrapped around her neck.
“What’s wrong?” It was the obvious question, but Emily seemed reluctant to answer. Finally the petite woman drew a breath.
“They’re getting some answers from Edmund,” she explained.
Elyna felt weightless; able to imagine just how those answers were being brought forward. She looked down, concentrating on the fastens of her leather jacket. Looping the ties with fingers that shook, “who?” it was a quiet question and was answered with more silence.
“The Warden?” The Captain looked up and saw the answer in Emily’s expression.
Fastens complete she crossed the room and collected her sword belt, pulling it around her waist and setting the scabbard against her side.
“He’s calling for you,” Emily moved her weight between her feet, dark eyes fixed on her friend.
Elyna nodded, she felt sick. With her boots on, her sword at her side and fully dressed for the first time in days, she approached the door. She steadied herself, resting her forehead against the doorframe.
“If I go down there,” The noblewoman pushed her fingers through her hair and studied her friend, “I can’t interfere with the Warden’s interrogation.”
“It’s your brother,” Emily lent forward and pushed her own hand against Elyna’s shoulder.
Forced to look up into her friends features Elyna nodded.
“And what if he was there when Marcus-”
“What if he wasn’t?” Emily demanded.
“What if he was?!” Elyna slammed the door shut and spun towards her friend. “He’s a traitor to the crown and-” it was Malcolm’s son that was being sent back to him in pieces. Or some poor sod that they were using to drive the Warden to distraction. The loose jacket felt too tight, too hot. The room to small and her sword too heavy at her sides. How could she interfere with Malcolm’s interrogation? He deserved to know the truth. Vaughn deserved to be found…and yet. The Skyrider steadied herself. Emily hadn’t so much as flinched, stood, silent and trying not to judge before the Captain spun and made her way down the stairs.
Bile made her stomach burn, she moved as though blind through the main room of the tavern and to the cellars beneath. The screams nearly stopped her heart and nothing could have stopped her pushing open the door and descending.
“Excuse me,” she dismissed the guard by the stairs. He recognised her and hesitated.
“I’m sorry, My Lady – I can’t leave.” He nodded to the darkness beneath, “it’s your brother.”
Jaw clenched Elyna remained silent and descended below him, before finally she sank onto one of the lower steps, watching like a shadow. If Edmund had been in Burhan and if he’d let Marcus take her flesh, if he’d listened to her screams…he was an abomination. If that was the truth, then she wasn’t prepared to sink to his level. She couldn’t let Malcolm deform her brother.
The guard waited at the base of the stairs, looking between the Warden and the Skyrider Captain, and waiting for his answers. Elyna remained sat part-way down, unmoving. Dark eyes fixed on the shape of her brother and the face she’d once loved so well. Distance had destroyed them, for her to even consider that Edmund had heard her screams and made no attempt to stop them.
Her hands curled into white fists and she waited.
“I suggest you speak the truth,” Elyna brushed a hand across her forehead, “I will know if you lie,” her voice was soft.
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“What do you mean Raptor’s Rest? It's impossible to traverse the peaks of the Burning Mountains outside of Cylus.”
Edmund grew quiet as Elyna entered. Malcolm hadn't noticed the woman, not until she spoke.
The warden glanced over his shoulder, and turned his eye on Edmund once more. “Explain.”
“They were travelling under Marcus’ protection.”
Malcolm frowned. “With the army?”
Edmund nodded.
“Who is they?”
“Vaughn and Vanessa Krome.”
Malcolm made a low sound, a hum of sorts. These small pieces of information were new, but the puzzle remained very unfinished. “Vanessa got sick.”
Edmund nodded again. “Vaughn didn't want to leave her with the Warricks, but Marcus forced him. He escaped when we reached Burhan. Yoreth ordered him captured.”
“Which Warrick?” It explained the grave, he thought.
“I don't know.”
Malcolm looked back at Elyna to confirm whether or not Edmund was telling the truth.
“Marcus found him and brought him back to Yoreth.”
Malcolm looked at Edmund and cursed the traits he shared with his younger sister, their eyes almost identical to each other. “Is he alive?”
“He was when we sailed east,” Edmund admitted.
Malcolm frowned, he didn't want to ask again. “And after that?”
“I don't know. I heard Yoreth tell one of the Blazers to take him to Raptor’s Rest. Marcus met with the rider two nights before you attacked us.”
Eyes closed, Malcolm appeared to be considering his options, when in reality, he was merely trying to keep himself from knocking the young man’s teeth out. At least, he told himself, Edmund had been cooperative. “Give him water,” Malcolm ordered, and left the room at once.
Last edited by Malcolm on Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:29 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 290
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Elyna
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Her hero was dirty, but at least he spoke the truth. His eyes had lingered on the strange mark on her forehead before his answers were given. Elyna, perched on the middle step, folded her arms on her knees and watched the exchange. Ed was bleeding from the hand and a few scraps down the side of his face. His dark eyes were wild and his hair untamed. Stubble haunted his cheeks and she couldn’t remember a time when she’d seen her brother looking so uncivilised; like a pirate. A traitor to the crown. The young woman nodded when Malcolm glanced in her direction, taking care to appear calm and unmoved by the situation.
Her stomach threatened to reject her breakfast. The cellar stank of stale ale and worse. Everything that seeped down from the floorboards and clung to the walls. She made a note, never to eat anything from the tavern again. Not unless it had been boiled first.
Yoreth, Yoreth, Yoreth… perhaps she should have killed her lover instead of her Uncle. Was he the true serpent behind the rebellion? The woman lent to the side as Malcolm passed her by. His steps thundered on the stair, shaking the wooden frame. She waited until the last tremor faded before she stood and edged down the final steps. Her legs felt wobbly beneath her, so she held onto the railing. Clammy palms slipping over the wooden pole.
There were two guards that she didn’t know, and they’d followed the Wardens’s instructions.
“Would you excuse us?”
The two men exchanged looks, before the younger shook his head, “My Lady-”
“You’re worried that the prisoner could hurt me?” She peered around them at her brother. His hands a feet bound as he sat on the chair. Gripping the mug of water as though it was a lifeline. The woman drew her own small dagger and inspected the sharp blade, “he won’t.”
They exchanged looks again, “beg your pardon Captain, I don’t want to be the one to tell the Warden that you’re injured.”
“Or that the prisoner has escaped,” the older guard finished and glanced at the Burhan sailor. The resemblance between the siblings was striking.
Elyna gestured to the top of the stairs, “they’re the only way in or out. I’m not going to free him, that is the truth. Stand at the top if you must, but I need to speak to my Brother and I would prefer to do it privately.”
Another exchange of looks before the older man shook his head and made towards the stairs.
“Sarge-” the younger man almost whined but followed his commanding officer towards the steps. He looked back, regretful as they climbed to the top. The Sargeant paused at the top before ushering the first guard through, “you’ve got ten.”
Ten bits. Was it going to be enough? Elyna sank down onto the chair opposite her brother. They had the same eyes, it’s what everyone had always told them. They had their father’s eyes and the curved oval faces of their mother. They both had thick dark hair, though Edmunds was shorter and scruffy, falling over his features in a tangled mess. Water dripped in the darkness. Her breath came in uneven wisps and Edmund watched her as though he too, was unwilling to break the stillness.
His cup was empty, so she pulled it from his grasp and re-filled it. Pushing it back into his hands, silent. Her foot shifted, jigging from side to side as she forced herself to remain otherwise still.
“I saw you at Veljorn’s wedding,” Elyna watched the eyes that mirrored her own darkness.
“I saw you too,” he smiled for a moment, as though the memory was a happy one. The expression was fleeting and it passed.
“Where did you go after the ceremony?” she edged forward and curled her fingers around the base of the chair. Gripping it tight, afraid to fall off and onto the dank stone floor. There was a note of panic in her voice that she struggled to smother.
“Yoreth and I were bound for Krome. There wasn’t much time to stick around.”
She wanted to ask if he’d been there, when Marcus had dug his blade into her skin and made her scream. She wanted to know if her brother had been sat downstairs in Burhan and done nothing to help her. The questions were stolen from her. Her lips thinned into a line and her eyes burnt hot once more. Elyna hadn’t seen her brother in four arcs before the wedding. The only correspondence she’d had, was the notice that her lover was dead. The young woman stilled, as if he’d sunk a burning blade into her back. Paralysed she could only stare at the man who’d been her idol. Beneath the beard and the wild eyes was the boy she’d spent a lifetime, scrambling to keep up with. Desperate to prove herself, not to their parents, or their grandparents…but to him.
Her childhood dreams fell away in brightly coloured ribbons and left behind nothing but grey stone. The skyrider stood, feeling more like a little girl than she had in decades.
“I loved you,” she summoned the words as she studied him. Was there remorse on his features, or merely regret that he’d been caught. That all his lies were coming undone. Her instinct was to flee, but then she might never get another chance to find her answers. Hesitating before she forced herself to cross the room once more and planted her hands on the back of the chair.
“Edmund you turned traitor against the crown, and against your own family.” She struggled to keep her voice level. Overcoming her desire to flee by meeting his gaze. Her fingers turned white against the wood and her nails pressed against it. “You lied to me, you told me Yoreth was dead and then you - you joined with him?” She glanced back at the door and the small crack of light that snuck through.
“Ely-”
“Don’t!” Her hand wavered in front of his face, fingers extended. She wasn’t about to strike a tethered man so her hand dropped once more. “Four arcs and you slip away with the man you told me was DEAD. You told me he had Edmund!”
“I was trying to protect you!” It was a roar, almost louder than the bellow of panic that Malcolm had coaxed.
The rush of silence that followed was only broken by the inane dripping in the dark. He’d told the truth. Her fingertips tingled with the force of it.
“What from?”
He didn’t answer and she moved around the chair to sink down once more.
“Ed, what were you trying to protect me from?”
Her brother seemed to edge back in the shadows, watching her through his hair. “I’ve seen the way he treats women, and men… I don’t know his intentions but somewhere along the line he would have hurt you,” the words came slow and unsteady, “you would have stopped being useful, or convenient…or you would have done something, Elyna and I had to get you out of that.” He let out the air in his lungs and it clouded the air between them. “I saw the way you looked at him, you would have followed him to the end of Idalos…the only way to stop you was to tell you he was dead.” He seemed to gather himself and watched her in reply. “I love you, Elyna. Seven, you’re my sister…”
She shivered and dropped her gaze to her lap. Wondering just who was being interrogated now. The steady earth she’d planted herself on was slipping away beneath her feet. “I make my own decisions, Edmund.”
Edmund Burhan looked at the stairs beyond his sister, “you’re involved with the Warden now,” it wasn’t a question. “I saw the way you looked at him.”
A smile pulled at the edges of her mouth and Elyna nodded, “we have a child together.”
Her brother sucked in a breath and she took her cue to stand again.
“You’re not allowed an opinion on my daughter, or my lover, Edmund,” the Skyrider was proud of the calm she managed to project, even if she didn’t feel it.
She made it to the bottom step before he called out again.
“You’re just going to leave me here?”
Elyna turned to face him a final time, “yes. Because you’re a traitor to the crown.” She bit her bottom lip before shaking her head. “But I’ll make sure that you’re fed, and given water…and that while you’re at the mercy of my commanders, no one brands your skin or rapes you. Alright? I promise to do a far better job at protecting you, then you did me. Because you’re my brother…is Vaughn alive?”
“I don’t know.”
The woman left without another word and heard the door slamming closed behind her. As blind as she’d walked down to the cellar, she made her way back through the tavern and up the stairs. At first, she was confused to find the tall-man within the room. Blinking at him as he stood with his back towards her. Silhouetted against the morning sky and the falling snow.
“Mal?” The woman approached him, resting a cold hand against the middle of his back before bowing her head against his spine.
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The frost on the window edges looked like overlapping spiderwebs, and the sight of the snow beyond the panes made the small room seem warmer than it was. Heat spread through the man’s muscles from the point of his back where Elyna had touched him, to his pounding heart. What if Vaughn was dead?
Malcolm turned to face the noblewoman and looked at her with glassy eyes, his hands cupping her angelic face with care. Elyna had been bedridden for days, and Malcolm was happy to see her on her feet again. His mouth wanted to smile, but the idea alone threatened to cause physical pain to him. The warden bowed his head so that it was pressed to Elyna’s, eyes falling closed while warm hands reached blindly for mottled arms.
“I didn't want you to see that,” Malcolm spoke in a whisper. “I would never hurt him,” he promised, but he had needed Edmund to believe otherwise, something that could not have been achieved with Elyna in the room.
Malcolm’s arms went around Elyna, and they stood, enveloped by his wolfskin cloak. A kiss followed without warning, one just as swiftly halted by a knock at the door.
The warden walked forward and opened the door just enough to recognise Benjamin, before inviting the man in. “Ser,” the captain greeted him.
“What news?” Malcolm inquired.
Benjamin glanced at Elyna before answering. “The rebels are said to be moving northeast and our scouts say that if we do not follow them they will be lost to the goat tracks and mountains before the weather turns. Now is our last chance,” the knight encouraged.
“Very well,” Malcolm agreed, “there is no time to waste. Have your command ready to move out after breakfast.”
Benjamin bowed and left the room.
The look Malcolm gave Elyna was one formed out of guilt, they would not be going home, not until the war was won. “My love, you should rest, send Emily and catch up when you are feeling well enough to ride.” He took her hands in his. “We will be home before season’s end,” but even as he spoke the words, he knew it would be a stretch.
Last edited by Malcolm on Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:29 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 380
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Forehead to forehead, the woman closed her own eyes. Her lashes brushed his cheek and his stubble was rough against her jaw.
“I wouldn’t have stopped you,” Elyna replied. “You deserve your answers, Mal.” Vaughn deserved to be found. She shivered at the thought of Edmund writhing in pain, his body and flesh mangled for information. Yet she held firm, supported in his arms. Her own wrapped around his waist and she softened, for the first time in weeks. The kiss took her by surprise, her fingers curled in his shirt and it was the act of a moment to press herself against him. His skin was hot beneath the cloth, a distraction to the cold world outside.
The knock jarred across her senses and she pulled away. Malcolm was quick to retreat and she set her hands on the windowcill. Features controlled she turned to watch Benjamin and the wary way he glanced at her. Had she lost the Captains’ trust?
Northeast through the mountains. Elyna held back her sigh and waited for Ben to leave. She smiled at Malcolm, curling her fingers in his. “I’m well enough to walk, so I’m well enough to ride,” the woman lent forward and pressed a kiss to his cheek. It was then that she released his hands and circled around the bed, collecting her bag and pulling over her shoulder. The young woman paused at the door and looked back at the Warden.
“I’m going after Vaughn,” she promised. A second unit of Skyriders had arrived with their own Captain. They’d serve well enough as scouts for the army as it trickled through the mountain pass.
“I love you.”
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Winning the war

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Elyna


Points!:

Story: 5/5
Collaboration: 5/ 5
Structure: 5/ 5
Knowledge:

Detection: Listening for sounds in an unfamiliar place
Discipline: Priorities can be hard
Discipline: Remaining calm outwardly in the face of betrayal
Endurance: Movement when injured leads to sudden pain
Interrogation: Provide answers for confirmation to those reluctant to answer.
Interrogation: Stating cold, hard facts

Edmund: Was trying to protect you from Yoreth
Edmund: Told you about Vaughn & Vanessa
Edmund: Told you the truth
Vaughn: At Raptors Rest
Vaughn: Escaped, but was re-captured
Vaughn & Vanessa: Were traveling under Marcus' protection.
Vanessa: Got sick

Loot:
NA
Fame:
+3 (kindness and compassion)
Devotion:
NA
Magic:
These points may NOT be used for arcana
Malcolm


Points!:

Story: 5/5
Collaboration: 5/5
Structure: 5/ 5
Knowledge:

Detection: The unique odour of the cellar in an Inn.
Interrogation: Direct, simple questioning
Interrogation: Present a question with a desired item.
Intimidation: Be clear about what power you have
Intimidation: Be clear about your limits
Intimidation: Count down to threatened torture
Leadership: Making swift and clear decisions
Torture: Deny food and water.
Torture: Place water just out of reach of a prisoner
Torture: Interrogation techniques.

Edmund: Told you about Vaughn & Vanessa
Edmund: Told you the truth
Vaughn: At Raptors Rest
Vaughn: Escaped, but was re-captured
Vaughn & Vanessa: Were traveling under Marcus' protection.
Vanessa: Got sick

Loot:
NA
Fame:
+5 (went as far as he needed to, no further = respect from his soldiers / those who saw it)
Devotion:
NA
Magic:
These points may NOT be used for arcana

Overview:

Story Great thread - lots of emotion and really well paced. I enjoyed the small details you both wove in to the thread. I must admit that I chuckled at the cellar room smelling of "mouse piss" - but it was an example of a clever and well written snippet. The interaction between the two of you was written really well, and I had a clear visual of them wrapped up in Malcolm's cloak.
Structure No problems - lovely writing from you both.

Please do PM me if you think I've missed anything or you have any questions!
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