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Fantasy Hunter's Moon: Ascendancy [IC] [CLOSED]

Sub Genres
  1. Action
  2. Adventure
  3. AU
  4. Historical
  5. Horror
  6. LGTBQ
  7. Magical
  8. Supernatural
  9. Zombies


the writer
If the possessed soldiers were charging for melee, then Azathor would oblige and he pulled out Belias' sword and brandished it into a hanging right position, preparing to strike once they got into range. He just had to make sure he himself didn't get hit as he braced himself and snarled.


The Demon Fanatic
Gravewood - Outskirts - Rail Line - Turn Two
Royland attempts to stop one of the charging soldiers! Chance Roll = 10! Critical Success! Royland beheads Possessed Atracan Soldier #6!
Sebastian = 10. Acc. Roll = 15. Does 5 DMG to Possessed Atracan Soldier #1. Possessed Atracan Soldier #1 is dead!
Camille attempts to counter Possessed Atracan Soldier #7's charge! Chance Roll = 7. Successful Counter! Does 5 DMG to Possessed Atracan Soldier #7. Possessed Atracan Soldier #7 HP = 5.
Xiaòzhou attempts to heal himself. Healing Roll = 4. Regains 3 HP! Xiaòzhou HP = 6.
Rajko = 9. Acc. Roll = 18. Does 5 DMG to Possessed Atracan Soldier #5. Possessed Atracan Soldier #5 HP = 5.
Azathor attempts to counter Possessed Atracan Soldier #8's charge! Chance Roll = 8. Successful Counter! Does 5 DMG to Possessed Atracan Soldier #8. Possessed Atracan Soldier #8 HP = 5.
Rebecca = 10. Crit Roll = 6. Does 5 DMG to Possessed Atracan Soldier #8. Possessed Atracan Soldier #8 is dead!


Possessed Atracan Soldier #2 = 2. Misses Sebastian.
Possessed Atracan Soldier #3 = 3. Misses Camille.
Possessed Atracan Soldier #5 = 5. Acc. Roll = 1. Does 1 DMG to Rajko. Rajko HP = 9.
Possessed Atracan Soldier #7 = 6. Does 3 DMG to Camille. Camille HP = 7.

--- --- ---

As the soldiers rushed in with their bayonet charges, some of Rebecca's group prepared themselves to combat them. Royland struck first, casting out his infernal chain and wrapping it quickly around one of the charging soldiers. Once it wound around the possessed man, he jerked, forcing the chain to spin and unravel. And the scythe, blade embedded in the trooper's neck, spun all the way around his throat and completely severed his head from his body. It rolled off as the body of the soldier spun about before dropping. That was one down.

Sebastian was, meanwhile, more preoccupied with putting down the soldier he had been trading shots with. Once he lined up his iron sights, he fired off another 8mm round. Center mass yet again, but a bit closer to the possessed trooper's heart. And that seemed to do the trick, as the soldier slumped over and hit the ground not long afterwards. Another possessed soldier nearby, noticing Sebastian had killed one of his comrades, quickly took aim and fired off a shot at Sebastian which went wide. A complete miss.

Nearby, Camille was soon dealing with her incoming foe. Bayonet at the ready, he lunged at her, only for her to quickly side step out of the way. And soon after, her blades sliced across his back, carving brutal and deep gashes into his flesh. He soon retaliated, spinning around with his rifle and slicing a gash across Camille's stomach with the bayonet's tip. It almost seemed as though he was growling. Perhaps these demons didn't have total control over their victims just yet, but they were certainly getting there. Camille also easily avoided being shot by one of the soldiers further out, noticing where he was aiming and dodging just in time as he fired. The bullet zipped by, hitting a rock behind them.

Xiaòzhou took cover against the front armored train car, pausing just long enough to try and heal the gunshot wound he had sustained. And with some focus, he managed to channel his energy enough to stop the bleeding and seal the wounds. Quick seals, rough in appearance instead of being perfectly smooth. It would do for now. Later, he could give it some more focus.
Meanwhile, Rajko exchanged fire with one of the other soldiers still shooting at them, managing to hit the soldier in the stomach with his own Mauser shot before the enemy's bullet grazed his side. Another well placed shot could put the soldier down, but he'd have to get lucky.

Azathor soon found himself being charged by one of the soldiers armed with a bayonet, drawing his sword and eagerly awaiting the man to near. And when he did, Azathor struck. He swatted the bayonet aside with one hand, before driving his sword through the possessed soldier's side. The soldier wouldn't get a chance to retaliate however, as Rebecca soon charged in and drove the point of her longsword straight through the soldier's eye. The blade continued through, before erupting from the upper corner of his head. Knocking his helmet off and to the ground. A pair of swift jerks freed both Azathor and Rebecca's blades from the soldier, allowing them to focus on the remaining troops.

--- --- ---
Seems as though things have grown a bit lively back at the train. Wonder how the others are doing? Cassandra pondered to herself, as she moved through the streets and alleyways of Gravewood in an attempt to move towards the Church. It felt like an inferno, being stuck there among the large burning houses and other structures. Bodies, and parts of bodies, were scattered about. Blood stained the dirt and walls that had yet to be scorched by the flames. A spectacular mess, really.

Eventually, she found herself near Gravewood's train station. Blood stained the ticket booth's windows on the inside. She gazed through it for a moment, looking down at the mangled mess of an elderly man's corpse inside at the desk. These demons certainly don't believe in a clean kill. But who am I to judge? I didn't either, at one point. She glanced back towards the tracks, and soon noticed something odd.

A bundle of dynamite, sat nicely next to the rails. A cable ran from it along the tracks, connecting to other small bundles of dynamite. "Now, what have we here?" she muttered to herself, shouldering her rifle for a moment as she stepped out onto the platform and looked down the line. Soon, she saw where the wire was running to. A pair of soldiers, one with a spool of wire and the other a sack full of dynamite.

"Oh, this just won't do!" she said with a chuckle, taking aim at the pair. Her eye peering through the Lebel's simple iron sights at the targets a short distance away. They kept moving, however, which made it a tad difficult to get a good shot. So, she opted for something fun.

Cassandra let out a sharp whistle, as if calling a horse. Both of the possessed soldiers froze, standing up and looking in her direction. And she smirked, before squeezing the trigger of her rifle. The gunshot cracked, the 8mm round zipping through the air and finding its home in the heart of the soldier carrying the dynamite. The other one panicked immediately, rushing for cover on the other side of the tracks. Can't let that happen now, can we?

She soon held up the rifle with one hand, her other hand held out before her as if steadying herself. And a moment later, she hurled the rifle like a spear. Thirty yards was the distance she threw the rifle, and it hit like a horse at full speed. The blade of the bayonet sank into the man's side, but the momentum and shock of the impact knocked him sideways. Sailing into the dirt and sliding a few yards.

Excellent throw, ol' girl. She commended herself, smiling as she hopped down from the platform and jogged over to where the soldier now lay. It seemed, though, that he was still breathing. "Ah, let me just fix this problem here." she muttered, raising her boot. A moment later, it came crashing downward, smashing the soldier's windpipe and terminating his labored existence. Then, she fetched her Lebel, but soon found that the bayonet at the end of the weapon was now bent beyond use.

"Damn. Well, I can just find another somewhere." she said to herself, examining the rifle itself. It still seemed to be in working order. She racked the bolt, ejecting the spent cartridge she had fired and chambering a new one. Now then, time to see what all the fu--

Her train of thought was interrupted by another shotgun blast at the church. And from here, she could see where exactly it had come from and why, as there was little between the church and train platform beyond a few small rocks and some simple prairie bushes. One of three possessed soldiers around the church had been at one of the church's side windows, using the wall for cover, but that proved to be his downfall. The shotgun blast had ripped through the wooden wall, buckshot blasting through the boards and shredding the back of the soldier.

Good guess. Though its likely you won't find the others as easily. Cassandra sighed, before quickly darting across the empty stretch of land between the church and tracks. It was time to slay two more demons.
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Sautekh Nemesor
Camille's side step was quick and graceful, performed at just the last moment so the charging soldier would not have time to redirect his blade. Using the momentum of her step, she performed a lacerating slice into his open back as her gleaming silver blades cut into the possessed soldier. Seeing them up close was all the more unnerving, as she could not help but think about the poor man she was actually injuring in the process. Fighting a war was bad enough, but he had done so just to become some vile creature's meat puppet.

Overthinking the situation resulted in her not seeing the surprisingly swift movement of the unwilling thrall, the fatal stab to her stomach narrowly made a grazing slice that cut into her flesh. The huntress grunted with the pain, the shock bringing her back to her senses as she spotted a gun barrel being pointed at her. Once more she quickly stepped back both for distance and to dodge the bullet that was meant for her. She gave only a quick glance to the rifleman that made the shot, her focus and intent on the soldier before her. Wasting little time, she lunged forward and crossed her arms over one another to horizontally swipe across the man's midsection.


Roleplaying Procrastinator From Elsewhere
Xiaòzhou sighed, having managed to heal himself up. He noted how in the meantime, three of the possessed soldiers had fallen - less folks to target. Locking onto the remaining soldiers' aura, he wielded his charged spell card upward and pointed it towards them, yelling "[Talisman ~ Scattering Shot!]" and unleashing an AoE attack at them.


Servant Supreme
Watching his possessed foe crumple to the earth after receiving his second bullet, Sebastian worked the bolt of his rifle frantically trying to get another round ready for fire as he scanned the distance for more threats. There were two muzzle flashes in quick succession, and one bullet impacted the ground somewhere near his own position, whereas the other seemed to be directed at either Camille or someone else fighting in the melee. Unsure of who was targeting him, he decided to take the opportunity to move before his enemy could correct his aim.

Holding his rifle with his left hand, he drew out his Luger with his right and advanced forward about ten meters, firing all eight rounds in his magazine at the most likely one to have taken the shot in his direction with a rhythmic timing; he had been trained not to sprint while shooting and to give time between each trigger pull to account for the recoil. Still, the pain in his left shoulder and the fear he could barely deny for the circumstances combined to degrade his aim, and he merely hoped he could land one or more of his shots without really caring where on his opponent's body they might land. He sighted a large rock to use for cover, and decided he would fall behind it once he was close enough.


Big loaf supreme
Royland retrieved the chain as it coiled back around his arm. They were nearly done with this group of enemies, just needed to take care of the rest. He stepped closer, while twirling the chain as if he was trying to build up momentum with it. As soon as he got his target in sight, he tossed the it again.


the writer
His and Rebecca's combined counterattack quickly dispatched the possessed soldier that had charged, and so Azathor quickly moved his attention to the next as he rushed towards one of the remaining soldiers and slashed at him with a hard overhead strike.


Worthless pleb
Just as Rajko thought his foe dead, the demonic soldier had life left in him! With haggard arms, the enemy raised the rifle and fired at Sottaks, whose eyes were wide with the shock of muzzle glare. The bullet sliced through the side of his right arm, just barely missing the inquisitor's triceps. The jolt of pain came as quickly as it receded, gritting his teeth and tightening his neck muscles in response. He got up from his lowered position and rushed forward, this had been intentional if his next shot did not kill his foe then he's trying to bait out the maggot. Another working of his Mauser's bolt and Rajko aimed again to fire!


The Demon Fanatic
Gravewood - Outskirts - Rail Line - Turn Three
Camille = 8. Does 3 DMG to Possessed Atracan Soldier #7. Possessed Atracan Soldier #7 HP = 2.
Xiaòzhou = 2, 2 - 1 (1), 4 - 2 (2), 10 - 3 (7). Misses Possessed Atracan Soldier #7, Possessed Atracan Soldier #5, Possessed Atracan Soldier #3. Acc. Roll = 19. Critical Hit! Does 7 DMG to Possessed Atracan Soldier #2. Possessed Atracan Soldier #2 HP = 3.
Sebastian = 8. Acc. Roll = 13. Does 5 DMG to Possessed Atracan Soldier #2. Possessed Atracan Soldier #2 is dead!
Royland = 5. Acc. Roll = 15. Does 5 DMG to Possessed Atracan Soldier #3. Possessed Atracan Soldier #3 HP = 5.
Azathor = 10. Crit Roll = 9. Does 6 DMG to Possessed Atracan Soldier #7. Possessed Atracan Soldier #7 is dead!
Rajko = 8. Acc. Roll = 15. Does 5 DMG to Possessed Atracan Soldier #5. Possessed Atracan Soldier #5 is dead!
Rebecca = 6. Acc. Roll = 19. Headshot! Possessed Atracan Soldier #3 is dead!

All enemies have been defeated!

--- --- ---
The battle was winding down to its conclusion, as only four possessed soldiers remained for them to fight. The others around them were being dealt with quickly by the soldiers from the train, each trading shots with the possessed and scoring clean hits. Either with their rifles or the large machine guns on the armored cars. It was just up to Rebecca's group to finish off these few before them.

Camille's blades struck true, carving a pair of horizontal gashes across the soldier's chest. Blood stained the ground before him, as it poured from his open chest wounds. Azathor, however, would be the one to finish the man off. He rushed in from the side, before delivering a devastating overhead strike. The blade struck the man's skull, lodging itself inside as the momentum of the strike forced his knees to buckle beneath him. He collapsed, lifeless, just as Azathor jerked the blade back out of his head. One down.

Xiaòzhou's magical attack was soon deployed. However, three of the intended targets were missed. One hit, however, scoring a direct hit on the man's chest and forcing him to stumble backwards a few steps. And stunning him long enough for Sebastian to rush him and fire off his Luger into the man's torso. All eight shots connected, rocking the possessed soldier until he finally fell over onto his back. Dead.

Next came Royland, taking a few steps towards one of the remaining soldiers and slinging his chain out towards him in a wide arc. The scythe connected, cutting a nasty diagonal gash across his torso from shoulder to hip, before the weapon was jerked back towards Royland. This opened up the target for Rebecca, whom had drawn her crossbow back out, loaded it properly this time, and taken aim. She pulled the lever, releasing the bolt and sending it darting across the open ground between them. And it nailed the possessed man squarely in between his eyes. He soon dropped like a sack of rocks. Three down.

Finally, Rajko finished his duel with the remaining soldier. Taking aim one more time, lining his iron sights up with the man's chest, he pulled the trigger. The shot cracked, the 8mm bullet zipping out and punching a hole clean through its intended target once it arrived. The possessed soldier dropped his rifle a moment later, before falling over sideways and hitting the ground. Lifeless.

Rebecca reloaded her crossbow just in case, holding it up as she looked around. The remaining soldiers around the train were finally cut down, the soldiers making sure they were down for good with a few well placed rifle shots to the corpses. "What the hell happened to them?" shouted one of the troopers, walking over to where Rebecca was still standing.

"Demonic possession. Likely loyalist demons, following Taranoch's orders." stated Rebecca, as she looked back down to the corpse of the man she and Azathor had killed. "...There was nothing we could do to save them, so putting them out of their misery was the only option."

"What about, you know... exorcisms?" asked the soldier, eyeing Rebecca. "I've heard a bunch of stories of priests and inquisitors banishing demons that way."

Rebecca nodded. "Yes, that works in most instances." she responded, "...But an exorcism wouldn't have helped here. Their souls had been eaten away by corruption. And in a few hours, their souls would have been gone entirely. Consumed by the demons that inhabited their bodies. A soul as corrupted as theirs is permanently damaged. Unable to be cleansed by even my hand."

She looked back to the soldier. "...Think of it as if someone had hit you really hard in your head. Hard enough to cause permanent damage to your brain. You would never be the same." she said, before pointing to the dead soldier. "...They would have never been the same, if the demon were exorcised. These were mercy killings."

As Rebecca finished, she soon heard rifle shots from Gravewood. Several shots, of different types. Too rapid to be one rifle. Cassandra was likely engaging any remnants. Rebecca looked towards town, then back towards the soldier and the train. "Get the train moving. We can stop it at the train station in town. And get someone on the telegraph, too. We have to let Eternis know what happened here."

"You're terrible shots, you know that?" shouted Cassandra, in the direction of the remaining two demons. Her shout was met with two more rifle cracks, with one bullet ripping through the cloth at the base of her cloak, while the other zipped past her head. She lifted her own rifle back to her shoulder, taking aim from where she stood in the open, before pulling the trigger and firing off her own retort.

Her shot hit one of the soldiers in the shoulder, knocking him to the ground but not killing him. "The best idea you could ever have right now would be to stay down!" she spat, racking the bolt on her Lebel before taking aim at the other soldier. But as she went to squeeze the trigger, another shotgun blast sounded off. Punching through the wooden side of the church yet again and shredding the second possessed soldier's torso.

"Nice shot!" she shouted, so that the others inside the church could hear. They didn't respond, however. They didn't need to. She shifted her attention back to the wounded soldier, before taking aim once again as he tried to sit up. Another squeeze of the trigger sent another 8mm shot through his chest. Putting him down for good.

She racked the bolt once more. "Alright! They're down!" she called out towards the church, "I'm going to come towards the front door! I'm a friend, so don't shoot me! Alright?"

This time, there was a response. An older man called out from inside. "A-Alright! Just give us a second to get the furniture out of the way!"

Cassandra nodded, a smile appearing on her face. Finally, some decent people around here. She slung her rifle onto her back, looking around as she casually walked across the dusty landscape towards the front of the building.

And as she rounded the corner of the church, giving her a clear view of the front entrance, she noticed something that gave her pause.

Sitting on the top step of the church's front entrance, slumped against the large double doors, was a woman. Blonde, early twenties, wearing a beautiful white sleeping gown. She had three bullet wounds in her back, her blood staining the gown. Her blood also adorned the doors and her hands. It looked as though she had been trying to get in, hand prints and smudges coating the white paint all the way down to where she had fallen.

How long had this woman been here? Did those inside even hear her? Beating against the door, screaming to be let in to safety. They had the means to protect her. They could have saved her.

Remind you of anyone?

Cassandra's eyes widened, her head snapping around. Looking for the source of the voice. The mouth which those words had flowed from. But there was no one around. Just her, standing alone at the base of the steps now. On the other side of the door, movement. Furniture being slid across the wooden floor.

And the door soon opened, revealing an elderly priest cradling a double barreled shotgun. Behind him, easily eight or so people. Men, women, a few children. Cassandra's eyes traveled up from the body, meeting the eyes of the priest. Then, her eyes lowered to the shotgun. You could have saved her. Yet you did nothing.

"Thank the gods, an inquisitor!" said the priest, drawing a handkerchief from his pocket and wiping his forehead. Cassandra didn't respond, instead looking back down to the woman's body at the top of the steps. But she soon pointed east. "There's a train coming in from the east. My compatriots are on it, along with other soldiers. Just wait here till they arrive." she stated, without looking up to the priest again.

And once she finished, she turned about. Quietly walking away, back towards the train station. The priest called out to her, but her mind didn't register just what he said. Instead, it was elsewhere. Far from here.
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Sautekh Nemesor
The huntress rolled her wrists as she remained light on her feet, eyes darting at the possessed soldier's movements so that she could infer what his next act would be in their duel. That was before Azathor rushed in to her aid, bisecting the man's skull straight through his helmet with that sword. Blood and viscera got on her own helmeted visage with a sickening crack of bone, and Camille stood motionless as she watched the life leave the possessed man's body.

Still aware of the fight taking place around them, she spun on her heels in time to see the others kill the remainder of the squad. The shouts and gunfire eventually died down in the immediate area, and it seemed that they had won. In those few seconds as the conflict was subsiding around her, Camille flexed and loosened her grip on her blades as her emotions continued to get the better of her.

Rebecca framing their killing as a means of mercy did not put her at ease for some reason. As a hunter she saw killing vampires driven mad by their affliction and lust for power as merciful, but these were simple men that found their souls and bodies being used as playthings. They did not get to have any aspirations or goals beyond the desire to sow chaos and bloodshed, implanted in them by the invading influence of the Abyss.

"Cowards, all of them," she said aloud in a tone that broke between sadness and anger. "I won't rest until every Icon is on their knees begging to prolong their miserable lives." The huntress flicked the blood from her swords before sheathing them again, slowly reloading her crossbow as the gunshots sounded in the distance.


Roleplaying Procrastinator From Elsewhere
With the battle having wound down on their end, Xiaòzhou put back the card he had used, and held his hand over his wound mark to begin deeper healing. Listening to Rebecca remark that exorcism would not have helped these soldiers pained him greatly. The loss of will and behavior, and in turn, the loss of the Dou's behavior, was something which troubled him immensely, and understanding the true nature of the corruption he had felt inside them made him visibly cringe. The downplayed rage of Camille punctuated the frustration over this whole situation - there truly was no other way to help them aside from a swift death.

"...may they be with the Dou," the hermit remarked remorsefully.


Servant Supreme
By the time Sebastian had emptied his magazine into his opponent, dropped into cover, taken up his rifle, and gotten his sight picture, the rest of the group had finished off the remainder of the opposition so that there was nothing left to shoot at. For a moment, he breathed hard, still on alert, until he forced himself to acknowledge that he was safe again. The moment his muscles began to relax, a terrible tremor went up his arms. "Scheiße..." he huffed, looking over the carnage they had wrought.

He checked the wound on his left shoulder with his fingers, and found it was wet with blood and stinging tender, but not alarmingly deep. He then stood and reached for his cigarettes and matchbook, taking a moment to gather himself before regrouping with the others. Rebecca was trying to assure them that there was nothing better they could have done for the soldiers, but Sebastian found that he couldn't summon the effort to care either way. It's not like he knew anything about exorcisms; if the gods had wanted them to save each and every victim of possession they came across along the way, they wouldn't have sent for hunters, soldiers, and the accursed to carry out this mission.

"So what now? Do we go check on the survivors in the church?" he grumbled.


The Demon Fanatic
Rebecca glanced towards Camille and nodded, as she spoke. "Show them no mercy. I made the mistake of that once before." stated Rebecca, "Now the world is plunged into an apocalyptic war, and my descendant was punished for my actions back then." She then turned towards Sebastian, as he spoke up nearby.

"So what now? Do we go check on the survivors in the church?"

Rebecca glanced in the direction of the barely visible church in the distance, on the other side of Gravewood. The shots had come from in that direction, and there didn't seem to be any more gunfire now. "Yes. We should check on them and see what Cassandra encountered." she stated in response, before turning back towards the train. "Climb aboard. We can ride to the station and get off there."

The group followed, as Rebecca moved back to their car and climbed aboard (with a bit of help from some of the soldiers.) And soon, the train was moving yet again. Rolling along the tracks as some of the soldiers followed on foot outside. They marked the locations of the bodies, so that they could be found and buried later on when reinforcements arrived from Eternis. The heat grew as the train neared the burning town, and soon those walking alongside began to see the remains of the citizens of the town. Those aboard also saw, gazing out of the thin slits in the armored plating over the windows.

As the train arrived at the station's platform, they found Cassandra waiting silently, head turned back towards the church a short distance away. And she didn't shift her attention either, as Rebecca and the others disembarked, walking over to where she was standing near the ticket booth. But she did speak, however.

"Nine survivors. A priest, some men and women, and children. They're still over in the church." she stated, before motioning to two soldiers lying in the dirt down the line from the station. "Two of these possessed soldiers were rigging dynamite charges along the tracks. Likely to either blow the train as it passed over, or to simply destroy the tracks so we couldn't use it to go north. My guess is that's why they were here in the first place. The rest... collateral."

Some of the soldiers from the train continued on, a few jogging down the tracks to retrieve the dynamite while others moved towards the church. One of the soldiers from the front armored car climbed out, heading towards the ticket booth on the platform as well. Once he slipped through the door of the booth, he carefully moved the remnants of the corpse inside out of the way so that he could reach the telegraph machine in the corner. And it wasn't long before he was ticking away, typing out a message to Eternis.


Sautekh Nemesor
Camille grit her teeth as she looked down at the wound she had suffered in the battle, her stomach slowly bleeding from the slash that tore through her clothing. Now without adrenaline coursing through her veins, the pain of that cut was starting to register. It was not the first injury she had sustained, and it would not be the last. The understanding that she had endured far worse was enough to get her to merely apply pressure to it as Rebecca replied.

"I learned early on that granting mercy to the merciless is a fool's errand," she muttered. "Fiends are not fit to be spared, as they only find ways to cause more suffering with the opportunity to keep doing so."

Once on the train she removed her helmet and loosely held on to it with her free hand, leaning against the windows as she continued to hold her wound quietly. She strode out of the train shortly after it stopped, looking around at the state of the station as she took full stock of the destruction. Quite soon she was looking at the pureblood as she gave her explanation, Camille could tell that something was off with her. Bloodshed like this usually seemed to put her in a good mood, or at the very least get her to make a macabre joke or boast about her own killing efficiency. Despite this, the huntress was not exactly chums with Cassandra and would never ask about her warped mental state. The less she knew the better.

"Word must travel fast in the demon's ranks if they are already trying to sabotage our mission. This isn't surprising in the least, but goes to show that we cannot really afford to linger here much longer."


the writer
Azathor sheathed his sword on his back as the fighting concluded, having killed two men unfortunate enough to have been puppetered and possessed in such a manner. He didn't have any departing or honoring words for them, he only felt a pang of anger as the destruction and calamity befalling the world continued at the behest of Taranoch and his icons. Once they arrived at the platform with the train, Azathor watched as the dynamite that had been placed to sabotage their mission was removed before turning his head to Camille from her remark.

"They have eyes everywhere. We will be watched the whole way through, and I'm sure they'll keep trying what they can." he commented as he leaned with his back against the train's exterior. "Doesn't matter how fast or slow we go. We'll be tracked and hunted all the same."


Roleplaying Procrastinator From Elsewhere
Xiaòzhou nodded at Rebecca, getting into the train as he switched from healing himself, now that his wounds were completely healed, to healing everyone else with his hand held up, having noted the injuries they had sustained earlier. He continued to do so as they arrived at the station and got off the train, knowing that if there were any survivors it would be best to include them in healing too. Xiaòzhou turned to Cassandra after Camille and Azathor's remarks.

"Are the survivors hurt in any way?" the hermit asked.


Servant Supreme
As they returned to the train, Sebastian considered Camille's statement about "fiends" and felt a sense of unease about Cassandra running about unsupervised. However, it wasn't long before they had all arrived at the station, where Cassandra informed them of the demons' foiled attempt to figuratively and literally derail the mission. In response to Azathor's grim words, Sebastian replied bitterly. "It does matter. Not all of us have the healing factor or magic powers to throw around. Attrition will get to us eventually."

He tossed the remainder of his current cigarette to the ground and rubbed it out with his boot as he glanced over to Takato. "Danke schoen, by the way," he said, rubbing his shoulder where the wound had been.


Worthless pleb
The conflict wound down eventually, each had dispensed righteous justice on these unrighteous demonic puppeteers, who played with the bodies of good Atracan soldiers. Their families will be left grieving, shocked by how they died. If they ever even discover their fate. Rajko slung his rifle, clasped his hands. And prayed for the pain to be eased when it reaches the souls of their families.

The others expressed their thoughts on these infernal manipulators, Camille's vitriol would not be for a journal. Takato expressed his honourings on the victims, as soldiers from the train inquired if there was anything to be done. An unfortunate truth that Rebecca confirmed was that there is nothing. A pang of hate grew in Rajko's mind and the bitter taste flacked his tongue.

They had heard shots from the church, their next stop to be. Even Sebastian suggested it, Rebecca decided it. Rajko answered. "Right behind you all."

A hiss escaped Sottaks as the numbing adrenaline finally wore off, his arm wound (while not debilitating) stung like a hopped-up Rooster pecking it over and over.

He boarded the train car along with the others, the ride was short as they reached the station. He spotted the dynamite being dismantled away. That might have been the end of them, or very nearly if it had gone off. He listened to Azathor explain the way they'll be hunted. Rajko would have answered, but was beaten to the punch by Sebastian. "My sentiments exactly, Herr Sebastian. To borrow an expression, we'll be "Fix und fertig sein."" (A Daristeinian expression meant to signal extreme exhaustion. "Translated as to be fixed and finished.")

The inquisitor turned to Rebecca. "Should I scout around? I may be able to pick up something with my nose or ears."


The Demon Fanatic
"Are the survivors hurt in any way?"
"No. They seemed fine." responded Cassandra, her tone a bit more serious than before. "The priest was armed with a shotgun. He defended most of them by shooting through the church walls with buckshot, and shredding his targets."

She then finally chose to look towards the group. And her expression was as serious as her tone. Her eyes shifting between them as they each spoke in turn.

"Should I scout around? I may be able to pick up something with my nose or ears."

"I've covered the north side of town. Nothing but burning buildings, corpses, and abandoned mining equipment. I'd suggest checking the south side." stated Cassandra, glancing to Rebecca.

Rebecca nodded in agreement, as she looked to Rajko. "Do a sweep of the south side. You've got fifteen minutes, then we should go." she soon said, motioning with her hand the south side of town on the other side of the train.

As she finished, though, the soldier inside the ticket booth tapped on the glass. Once he had their attention, he placed a piece of paper he had scribbled on flat against it so they could read it. Another train from Eternis would be there within the next few hours. "Good." muttered Rebecca, before looking to some of the other soldiers nearby whom had started to disembark from the armored car at the rear.

"Detach the rear armored car. You'll be staying here with the survivors until the next train arrives in a few hours. Set up defensive positions, defend this station and the survivors. Do you understand?" she said aloud, pointing to the soldiers from the rear car. They saluted in response, and began working to decouple the rear armored car from the rest of the train.

Cassandra soon spoke, as Rebecca turned back to face them. "I shall be aboard the train. Doubt you'll need me until we arrive at our destination, but if you should happen to, you know where I'll be." she said simply, before walking past the group towards the train car that they had been riding in. The not-so-jovial Cassandra started to bug Rebecca a bit, as she watched the pureblood walk away before glancing to Camille. Just what had happened while she was away from the group?

Time passed, with Rajko departing to do his search of the area south of town. And just like the north side, there was nothing of note but burning buildings and corpse remnants. No more possessed soldiers, for now at least. The survivors from the church were given food and blankets, gathered up on the train platform under armed guard. Sandbags had been set up on the platform on both ends, allowing for machine gun nests to be set up using the guns from the armored car.

And it wasn't long after before the group had boarded the train once more. Cassandra had returned to her original seat, leg folded over the other and head propped against her fist as she gazed out the window. Far less talkative than she had been before. The rest returned to their own seats, with Rebecca directing the train to continue on to its final destination before boarding herself. She glanced to Cassandra in the back, before finding her seat and setting her shield down next to it.

They had a long way to go, as they had yet to even depart from Southern Atraca yet. But hopefully, there wouldn't be any more distractions from their current duties.

--- --- ---
The Grand Cathedral of the Divine
Eternis, Delaplaine, Atraca

"An entire town wiped out, just to try and stop them from reaching the northern coast?" said Undite, stunned by the revelation given to the trio of gods by the soldier standing in the doorway. "How did they even know they were venturing north? And by train?"

"We must have spies in our midst." responded Velin, cutting both Undite and Adona a look. "Its the only explanation. They knew what rail line to strike, they knew exactly where to try and intercept them. Someone here in Eternis is feeding Taranoch and his filth information, and we need to find out who. And quickly."

She then looked to the soldier. "I demand to speak with your superiors. Bring them here to the Cathedral at once." she stated bluntly. As the soldier saluted her and went to turn about, he froze when he heard Adona speak.

"Wait a minute." he said, glancing between the soldier and Velin as he folded his arms. "If we do this, they'll know we're on to them. We have to play it smart. One of us needs to be in the room with the commanders when any information comes in from Lady Witlocke and her group, or when anything is done regarding them." He motioned to himself, then to Velin and Undite. "If one of us is there, we can quickly sniff out any traces of Abyssal corruption. We can pinpoint the problem, and cut it out quickly."

Velin nodded, as Adona explained his point. "...Yes, that's a good idea." she muttered to herself, before looking back to the soldier. "No further meetings will occur from now on without one of us being present for it. Any information that comes in from Witlocke and her group goes through us first before reaching your superiors."

The soldier saluted yet again, before soon disappearing from the doorway. Valeria, sitting quietly next to Undite, gently shook her head. "...This means that they have to know about where the Amulet might be in Grimtham. They'll be looking along the coasts now." she said, soon looking to Adona. "And its possible they know where the others could be too, thanks to their spy."

Adona nodded solemnly. "Then they'd better hurry if they want to get to the artifacts before Taranoch's forces do."

--- --- ---
Port of St. Gwyndolin
Nocturne, the Nocturne Isles

The trip across the vast sea between the mainland of Adonia and the isles of the nation of Nocturne had been a bit nerve wracking, to put it bluntly. With the war going on, their vessel was constantly on the lookout for anything that even remotely resembled a Tsavanian vessel. The Tsavanians had resorted to sinking most ships departing from Atraca to the north, in an attempt to cut off supplies to both Grimtham Isle as well as Nocturne. Ships had even been hijacked by the Tsavanians, if possible. Thankfully, they didn't encounter any hostile ships. Merely a handful of Atracan warships whom gave them a once over before continuing on.

As their large vessel arrived in port, just outside of St. Gwyndolin, Rosanna McFadden found herself pulling her thick wool-lined jacket on quickly. The temperatures this far north were near unbearable for anyone not wearing proper clothing. And this much farther north than Rosanna cared to venture, honestly. But this was for a good reason. As she adjusted her tan jacket, she glanced back down the steps to Theodore Boivin. "Hope ya brought a jacket, Theo. Its chilly out." she said.

Others moved about on the deck of the cargo vessel 'the Iron Duke', a mix of crew and civilians whom had requested transport to Nocturne to escape the horrors that were plaguing the mainland. Rosanna held her hat in place, as a gust of wind nearly blew it off her head. Cold. She grunted, before moving towards the ramp that was being lowered down to the dock itself. "Let's get movin', Theo. He's bound to be here somewhere, and Aleister only gave us a few days to find 'em." she stated, glancing back to the shorter man as she walked across the deck.

They had travel here for a vampire by the name of Pierre Aliker, wanted in connection for the murder of Theodore's wife. After extensive searching by both Cassandra and Camille, it was discovered that the man had fled here to escape capture. Adona had given his blessing for Theodore to venture here to slay Pierre, and sent Rosanna along to assist him in the endeavor. Now that they had arrived... they just had to find the man.

--- --- ---
Kaizen's Palace / Tariun's New Headquarters
The Hollowlands, Central Territories, The Abyss

"...Do you know how long its been since I set foot in this building?"

The tall female demon's head tilted back, as they seemingly were looking up at the collapsed roof of the palace. It had seen far better days, having been left to fall apart after Taranoch fought Kaizen. "Far too long." stated a nearby demon. Xager, standing almost in a statuesque manner with her hands crossed behind her back. Eyes locked onto Tariun as she walked through the old throne room.

"Indeed. Far too long." responded Tariun, looking back down. She slowly strolled through the room, moving chunks of rock from the roof out of her way with her feet as she walked. "...I was here when Taranoch began his rebellion...all those years ago. And now... I've returned to claim this palace as my own. Hopefully as Kaizen would have wanted me to." As she neared where the throne would have been, near the back of the room, she found it obstructed by large flat chunks of the roof. They had simply fallen inward, crashing down onto the throne and wide circular steps leading up to it.

She soon raised a hand, motioning a finger towards each of the large chunks. And soon, they began to shift and move. Slowly rising up from their long held positions and floating aside. Eventually, one by one, they were all moved aside. Revealing the remains of what was once Kaizen's throne. The large stone seat's back had been broken, a large chunk having been snapped off in a diagonal fashion. Part of one of the arms was missing as well, a rough mass of broken stone left where the left arm would rest. The throne was still usable, however. Barely.

Tariun walked up the circular steps, still moving bits of stone aside with her feet, before arriving at the throne itself. She stood there for a few moments, simply gazing down at it. "...It doesn't feel right to want to sit in it..." she said softly. "...This is Kaizen's chair...but..."

She soon sighed, before turning about. And a moment later, she carefully set herself down in the seat. "...Uncomfortable, but its as expected..." she muttered. Xager approached, quietly walking across the broken tile floor until she stood at the base of the steps. "This is what he would have wanted, my lady. Someone to pick up the pieces he left behind, and rule in his stead. And you served alongside him as one of his most trusted advisors... I think he would be happy to know it was you."

Tariun smiled faintly. "...I hope so." she said softly, before looking up from the chair towards Xager. "...We will use this palace as our new headquarters. It is from here where we will continue our rebellion against Taranoch. And we will win this war, in Kaizen's name."

Xager nodded. "In Kaizen's name." she stated.

Tariun smiled wider. "Now, bring me my lieutenants. We have important matters to discuss." she soon said, motioning to the door on the far side of the room.

"All of them, my lady? I believe Azathor is currently preoccupied with the hunting of the artifacts in the mortal realm." responded Xager.

"Ah, yes. Right. Which is of the utmost importance. Just as important as the war down here." stated Tariun, before motioning to Xager herself with a finger. "You and Mariette will be covering his position in his stead. Do you believe yourself able to do so?"

Xager nodded. "Yes, my lady. And I believe Mariette is, as well." stated the wrath demon.

"Good. Speaking of Mariette, has she decided on a name? I believe you were speaking to her regarding a shift away from her mortal name to something more...Abyssal in nature. Given her status here."

Xager tilted her head slightly. "Not yet, but I believe I might have an idea regarding that. I'll discuss it with her later."



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Chapter One New


The Demon Fanatic



Royal Port of Blackburn
Blackburn, Catanach, Atraca

It had been days since Rebecca's group began their long trek north via train, passing from the dry deserts and rolling plains of the far south of Atraca to the farmlands and forests of the center of the nation. And soon, they were passing through the more urbanized portions to the far north. As they passed into the province of Catanach, however, they would have to take a detour from their intended destination. Instead of the port city of Erith, which would have allowed them to ferry across the thin channel to Airedale on Grimtham Isle, they would have to take a ship from the port of Blackburn straight to the island city of Porthcrawl.

The reason for this diversion was heard across most of the cities and towns they passed through on the train: Tsavanian Marines and naval forces had invaded the northern half of Catanach, capturing the port as well as the far eastern half of Grimtham Isle. They would have been heading right into a mass of enemy forces if they had continued.

In Blackburn, Atracan forces were mobilizing for a counter-offensive in an effort to drive the Tsavanians back into the sea while the Atracan navy pulverized their ships and landing craft. Several thousand troops were amassed outside the city in large clusters, with artillery and other equipment being brought in from the south and west. In the port, dozens of large warships sat mostly at the ready, with ammunition being brought aboard by crane and by hand. Their ship would be one of these vessels, a light cruiser apparently known as the HMS Black Swan.

As their train arrived at Blackburn's station, the group found themselves stepping off into a mass of civilians on the station's platform. People were fleeing the Tsavanians from the north and east, having been directed to use whatever means to get to safety. As soon as the group was clear of the train, moving down the stone platform out of the way, the civilians poured into the train. "Well, it looks as though we won't be using that particular train to return south." muttered Rebecca, as she watched the mass spill through the train's doors.

Nearby, a male voice spoke up. "I'm sure the Church will have some other method of transport prepared for you, Saint." said the voice, forcing most of the group to turn about to see its source. Propped against a pillar was another inquisitor of the new Vigilant Order, whom appeared to have just come from out of one of the battlefields to the northeast. His graying hair, matted with sweat, was brushed over the top of his head as if he had just run his hand through it. Blood and mud caked the lower parts of his legs, covering large portions of his boots and pants legs. In his hand, a lever action rifle. A new model, made to use newer smokeless powder rifle cartridges via stripper clips like a Mauser. On his side, a Tsavanian revolver.

"I am Senior Inquisitor Gribov Isaak Ivanovich. I'm here to point you to your ship." he stated, motioning towards the far end of the platform leading out into the town of Blackburn proper. Apparently the man was a full fledged Tsavanian, but not of the lot that were currently up north.
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Big loaf supreme

The cold air served as a nice wake up due to the lack of coffee or tea or any other luxury they couldn't afford. Those were reserved mainly for the war effort, so the soldiers could have something to comfort them before throwing themselves in danger once again. Civilian vessels could hardly afford to supply their crew, let alone guests. Despite the inherit dangers of sailing across the sea to Nocturne, Theodore was more than happy to take the trip. Pierre was out here on this island and he was going to find the wretch. Next to him stood Sara Reid, an inquisitor of the new order set up to replace the old one. In her hand, she gripped the handle to the box that contained a rather grizzly trophy. The head of her pureblood cousin, Lady Lynch. The woman that was partially responsible for one of Theodore's greatest mistakes-Henderson.

Even if she had to carry that burden, Sara refused to complain or let her determination fade. That served to make the trip bearable for all of them as she shared what she knew and absorbed every bit of knowledge Theodore and Rose could spare for the young inquisitor.
Hope ya brought a jacket, Theo. Its chilly out.
"No need to worry, Rose." He assured his travel companion as he tugged the collar of his jacket "Truth be told, the cold wind feels like an old friend. Feels like I'm once again setting off as a new inquisitor." He might have refused a position in the new organization that was built to replace the corrupt and rotten old guard, but even he had to admit that there was a certain excitement to pursuing a dangerous quarry that teaching children couldn't replace. Theodore followed after Rosanna down the ramp and through the docks, noting the sorry state many refugees were in. The war raging for a relatively short time, but already it was reaping devastation unseen by the people it effected the most. He remembered how he scoffed at the prediction from Atracan officers how it would be over by the Grand winter festival and the soldiers would return home to their families to celebrate their victory. Even if the Abyss wasn't a player in this game, that was so naïve and downright stupid, it could only come from the mouth of a high-bourne glory seeker. Damn fools would doom them all for a moment in the sun.

Let's get movin', Theo. He's bound to be here somewhere, and Aleister only gave us a few days to find 'em.
" Yes, very gracious of him." He replied with an annoyed tone. Though he counted any time given as a blessing at all, given how their relationship developed and deteriorated post inquiry. "If we play our cards right, we just might get the bastard before the time is up." Theodore sped up the pace as Sara passed him by. "But make no mistake, with or without Alestair's permission, I'm going to make him pay for everything." The scholar's mask hid his face, but the anger in his voice betrayed his intention well enough. Whatever the outcome, Theodore was sure that he wasn't going to be welcome in Nocturne once his business was finished.

The custom's office was their first obstacle, which took its time even with Adona's blessing and the required documents in hand. The hardest part was not the array of weaponry, but the head in a fancy box once it was oppened. The guards were understandably on high alert due to the horrific artifact, some drawing their weapons.

"Sir, there is no need to escalate!" Sara spoke up with her hands raised. "The head belongs to one Lady Lynch, a pureblood who met her end a decade and a half ago. The church has no need for such a trophy and we only wish for it to be put to rest."

"And you thought to bring the head in a fucking box?"

"It is a rather fancy box, wouldn't you say?" Theodore spoke, motioning for Sara to lower her hands. She still had authority and needed to show it. The guard didn't seem amused by his comment. "The Church has had its fair share of atrocities and mistakes and inquisitor Reed has come here with the intent to correct at least one."

"Mister Boivin is right." Sara spoke more calmly now "Lady Lynch had done horrific experiments on human, vampire and werewolf in her time, but met a terrible end at the hands of one. Whether it was deserved is irrelevant as her actions still blighted my own family and the way the Church preserved her remains only serves to strain the relationship between us and Nocturne."

"The possibility to revive her is quite impossible as a task, I assure you." Theodore continued "Body parts were scattered across the Atracan wilderness long ago and her head is the only recovered part. So this is not some trap or timebomb being handed to you."

"She will be finally put to rest here and my own family be absolved of her name." Sara looked at the guard, anticipating his answer. The officer ordered his men to be at ease and proceeded to stamp their documents.

"You have your business here, so be done with it." He took another look at the box "But for the love of all that is decent, next time you people do something like this, warn us ahead of time."

"Sara, head towards the local chapel or cemetery and organize the last rites for your cousin." Theodore started to give orders. He didn't particularly like talking to her like she's fresh out of an academy, but they didn't have the luxury of time on their side. "Once you're finished, meet me and Rose at the municipality." Sara nodded as she took the box with her and left. Theodore and Rose would leave for their own destination in the city. They needed to narrow their search if they were to comb the city and island in just a few days. They would have to visit the local archives if there was a chance for that. Nocturne was a fresh nation on the world stage, but even it would have records of those who made their new life here. Lucky for them that Theodore had managed to procure a list of names that would also serve as aliases for their man. Pierre had left a long list of broken souls in his wake, but his days dodging consequences were nearly over.

Just a little longer.

Royland had taken no joy or satisfaction in the extermination of those possessed soldiers. They didn't deserve to be cut down like that, as marionettes of a higher power that controlled them against their will and shattered their souls when it was done with its playthings. Something demon trickery had in common with necromancy. A vile source of unholy desecration that only burned the fires inside with more intensity as a similar magic was stirring within him. The knight had returned with the rest on the train, but again he isolated himself to meditate.

As he sat in place, he thought about the trials ahead and what Lozon had told him. That so many things hinged on their success, but not only for their world, but for the Abyss as well. This war, the invasion and the rebellion all depended on them. The Gods depended on them. She depended on his determination to see things though.

Eventually the train would stop and force them to proceed by other means. He was somewhat relived to be off the train, but annoyed that they would have to swamp one wobbling transport for another. The sight of Inquisitor Ivanovich was a welcome one at least. Dependable and loyal to the true cause unlike many of his countrymen who couldn't see the real danger.
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Sautekh Nemesor
Camille was feeling slightly better now that her wound was mended by Takato's magic, though it was hard for her to shake the anger she felt. As ever she would have to hone it, use it as a means to focus on bringing the monsters responsible to justice. Sebestian was right to speak on attrition, the huntress admittimg to herself that the soldier understood strategy on a macro scale better than she could. Tracking the movements of a single vampiric target was a simple matter, but an entire army and its leaders? That was proving difficult to wrap her head around.

The huntress stepped off of the train with the others, her helmet kept in her hand and held against her side as she looked on at the station. The civilians looked scared and uncertain, and as mothers tried to calm their children Camille found herself longing. Not just for her own family, but for things to be better for all of these innocent people whose worlds were shattered.

The inquisitor trying to grab their attention soon got her to focus again. Being used to riding in her family trade ships, she wasn't fearful of the mode of transport. And yet she found the possibility of being a passenger in a warship quite strange for some reason. Perhaps being on a deck with such large guns did bother her somewhat.

"... Well," Camille spoke, making a halfhearted gesture about the place with her free hand. "please point on, Senior Inquisitor."


Servant Supreme
A human! And a tsavanian one, at that!

Sebastian's mood was immediately improved by Senior Inquisitor Ivanovich's sudden appearance. It didn't matter that he wasn't a soldier, Sebastian was just happy to see a friendly face from a country that didn't despise him. "Hallo, sir!" He said with a grin that made him seem oblivious to the civilian plight around him. "...I've always been curious about the sea. If der Vaterland wasn't landlocked, I might have gone for a naval career. I couldn't possibly imagine it being as bad as what we're seeing on land," he added with a bit less enthusiasm.


Worthless pleb
Sottaks had managed to unwind himself around the group in the few days after the battle. His mind had been assuaged by their combat prowess, it is very different when one is in person rather than reading about prior encounters. It had only been a spiritual relaxation, his combative experience taught him to be at peace with his soul but never be disarmed by the tranquility. And if personal philosophy hadn't put him on alert, then the diversion of paths certainly did. A part of him wondered whether the occupation of Erith had been a natural progression of the war or a subtle manipulation, an answer that he cannot resolve yet still he taught about such frivolous things.

The train grinding to a halt signaled that they had arrived. The citizenry were deprived of solace, mothers cradling children, young men holding wounds together. A sad sight for all to see. This did not shake the steeled inquisitor as he waited for their escort to arrive. And arrive he did. A senior inquisitor of Tsavanian origin. "Senior Inquisitor." Rajko greeted his superior with utmost respect. "As the others have said-" A brief glance to the others. "Or not, lead the way. We're eager to make our way."


The Demon Fanatic
"Hallo, sir!... I've always been curious about the sea. If der Vaterland wasn't landlocked, I might have gone for a naval career. I couldn't possibly imagine it being as bad as what we're seeing on land."

The greeting earned a simple wave from the grizzled inquisitor, as he straightened himself up away from the pillar. "From what I hear from both sides of the war, Tsavania has started torpedoing cargo ships and transports carrying civilians. The Motherland fears losing Grimtham again, so they're making every effort to prevent the Atracan forces on the island from receiving any sort of support. And some vessels can be 'disguised' as civilian transports, as the Tsar himself put it, so..."

He soon sighed wearily. "The war on the waters is growing more severe by the day, but it will probably never reach the same level of wholesale slaughter on land. I've had to cross two battlefields to get here... and crossing one of them forced me to shoot my fellow countrymen down like rabid werebeasts."

He then glanced to the civilians boarding the train, before looking back to Sebastian. "...My father was a sailor. A simple crabber, off the northeast coast of Grimtham when Tsavania still held control over it. He loved life on the waters. I would have been a sailor too, if he had his wishes, but my calling came from elsewhere."

He soon greeted Rajko and Camille with nods. "Follow me. We can talk more on the way." he said, glancing back to Sebastian afterwards.

The group did as instructed, following the worn inquisitor down the platform to the end, eventually descending a short staircase to the street. The war's proximity to Blackburn was already apparent: as they crossed the street in the direction of the port, the group could see various shops up and down the street had been locked up tight. Boards covering the windows, chains on the doors, anything to prevent looting. Of course, none of these things would really stop someone wanting to get in, but it made the owners feel better at least.

There were some civilians still about, either packing their things or moving towards the train station. Some were even on wagons or in carriages, on the way south or west out of Blackburn. Soldiers replaced them, building defensive positions here and there in the streets and in select buildings in the event the counter-offensive failed. As they moved down the sidewalk, they even saw a large command tent pitched in the town's park. Inside, several officers moved about. Likely coordinating the troop movements in the area.

In a more peaceful time, Blackburn would have seemed like quite a nice place to visit. Large brick houses and buildings, with warm, spacious interiors. A vast assortment of restaurants and coffee shops. An expansive park, with large beautiful trees, a lovely assortment of flowers, and a small pond in the center. Cassandra had been through here quite a few times, as she moved back and forth along the northern coast to and from Grimtham Isle over the years. It was quite pleasant.

Now, Cassandra simply remained silent as they walked, following the group from a few yards behind. Her mind wasn't on the task at hand, instead several miles away to the southwest. To an old estate, once upon a time.

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