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Fantasy Like the Stars Chase the Sun

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Noil

cursed with ideas
Like the Stars Chase the Sun
(title from )​

In our history, Cantawar was a land of peace and prosperity. The mundane and the magical lived together in harmony and cooperation, and our land flourished for it. But nothing that good is ever meant to last.

The beginning of the century found our kingdom ruled over by a benevolent king, Maeleg Tirron, his queen Corethia, and their recent addition of a princess who they named Brígh. It was our unanimous opinion that our new princess was a startling beauty of a child, only surpassed by the beauty of the queen, aglow and joyous in her motherhood.

Dark clouds seemed to cover the kingdom when the word went out. The queen was dead. Murdered, they said. The means of it were obscured by word of mouth as the news passed through the people, each messenger telling a different story. One told of an assassin in the night, with an enchanted arrow. Another, an abomination controlled by a beastmaster in the shadows. Yet another told of a family-held curse that a witch had placed upon the kin of the queen in ages long passed. Only one element held constant in all the tales: Magic had been involved.

And so we were left to mourn our fair ruler in mystery. Life quickly settled back in for us common folk, for what impact did the far-off happenings of the lives of royals ultimately count for to the common man anyway?

By that year’s harvest, the king’s grief had twisted into a burning hatred. He blamed magic in all its forms for the death of his beloved, neglecting his infant daughter to initiate a bloody crusade to free his land from the unholy corruption of magic.

Our neighbors the fae were forcibly driven from their homes within the year. Those that remained within the king’s land were hunted like mere beasts. Those purveyors of magic among humanity met their end at the edge of a sword. It's amazing how quickly people can turn on each other in the face of hurt and violence.

A branch of the king’s guard was formed. Initially composed of mercenaries and sell-swords bought to hunt down mages, they came to be known as the Kestrels, and came to work with an ultimate authority over the peoples of the land, second only to the word of the King.

Ten years’ time has passed since the beginning of what the nobles came to call the Cleansing, and as violence eased the kingdom returned to some sense of normalcy. Instead of immediate slaughter, those mages who stubbornly remain in the kingdom instead face a front of perceived justice, thrown in dank dungeons to await sure execution. Torches now burn in the place of enchanted lanterns, and crops are a bit harder to grow, it is true, but we will heal stronger for our struggles.

Word from within the castle is that the king never roams the halls of his home these days, content to confine his ravings to within the walls of his heavily tapestried chambers. The princess Brígh is all but forgotten, only kept in our memories, and in hushed stories of faint hope that when she come of age she might rule with more love than her father had shown the land.

In our history, Cantawar was a land of peace and prosperity. The mundane and the magical lived together in harmony and cooperation, and our land flourished for it. But nothing that good is ever meant to last.

The beginning of the century found our kingdom ruled over by a benevolent king, Maeleg Tirron, his queen Corethia, and their recent addition of a princess who they named Brígh. It was our unanimous opinion that our new princess was a startling beauty of a child, only surpassed by the beauty of the queen, aglow and joyous in her motherhood.

Dark clouds seemed to cover the kingdom when the word went out. The queen was dead. Murdered, they said. The means of it were obscured by word of mouth as the news passed through the people, each messenger telling a different story. One told of an assassin in the night, with an enchanted arrow. Another, an abomination controlled by a beastmaster in the shadows. Yet another told of a family-held curse that a witch had placed upon the kin of the queen in ages long passed. Only one element held constant in all the tales: Magic had been involved.

And so we were left to mourn our fair ruler in mystery. Life quickly settled back in for us common folk, for what impact did the far-off happenings of the lives of royals ultimately count for to the common man anyway?

By that year’s harvest, the king’s grief had twisted into a burning hatred. He blamed magic in all its forms for the death of his beloved, neglecting his infant daughter to initiate a bloody crusade to free his land from the unholy corruption of magic.

Our neighbors the fae were forcibly driven from their homes within the year. Those that remained within the king’s land were hunted like mere beasts. Those purveyors of magic among humanity met their end at the edge of a sword. It's amazing how quickly people can turn on each other in the face of hurt and violence.

A branch of the king’s guard was formed. Initially composed of mercenaries and sell-swords bought to hunt down mages, they came to be known as the Kestrels, and came to work with an ultimate authority over the peoples of the land, second only to the word of the King.

Ten years’ time has passed since the beginning of what the nobles came to call the Cleansing, and as violence eased the kingdom returned to some sense of normalcy. Instead of immediate slaughter, those mages who stubbornly remain in the kingdom instead face a front of perceived justice, thrown in dank dungeons to await sure execution. Torches now burn in the place of enchanted lanterns, and crops are a bit harder to grow, it is true, but we will heal stronger for our struggles.

Word from within the castle is that the king never roams the halls of his home these days, content to confine his ravings to within the walls of his heavily tapestried chambers. The princess Brígh is all but forgotten, only kept in our memories, and in hushed stories of faint hope that when she come of age she might rule with more love than her father had shown the land.


The king is dead. Sometime before the sun had risen, the dawn was shattered into chaos as a massive beast appeared within the castle. Taking the form of a monstrous white bear, it rapidly tore its way through the interior of the structure, leaving destruction and death in its wake. The king's men had only barely begun to gather in the courtyard when it burst out. They could not stand against its fury, their attacks seemingly having no effect on its oversized form, and their numbers were quickly overwhelmed by the sudden unexpected threat. It tore through the heavy courtyard gates as though they were matchsticks and made off into the countryside.

Unable to face the beast, what remained of the Kestrels instead turned their attentions to the inside of their ruler's ravaged home. The first thing they discovered was that the king was no longer among the living. His cold body lay in a pool of blood within the halls of the royal chambers. The second thing they discovered sent dread through them all. The princess was gone.

The assassin's beast had eliminated the king, but faced with royal blood in the form of the child, its nerve must have wavered. The princess had instead been taken. For what end, it was yet to be seen. They could only hope she remained unharmed as they regathered their forces and their wits to pursue the beast and its yet-unseen summoner.

It didn't take much calculation to know they were up against more than they could handle. It had been some time since the Kestrels had faced any fully powered magical threat, and even in the early days when magic still ran rampant in the land they hadn't faced something with this much raw power raging out of it. They rapidly came to the conclusion that they were out of their depth. They'd have to seek help from a despised source.

And so it was that the bedraggled regiment found themselves rallying in town, chained and disoriented mages in tow. Most townsfolk had cleared out of the immediate area when the alarm bells had sounded and it became apparent that the threat was coming from the castle rather than its walls being a source of safety. There were still a brave few who remained in the capital, however, and the Kestrels welcomed their aid.


Erik blinked against the brightness of the sun. Not that it was particularly sunny – dawn had not yet fully risen, and the thick clouds hanging overhead made sure not much shone down anyway – but after the darkness of the dungeons it was effectively blinding.

“Mages, I won’t waste my time justifying your imprisonment or reminding you of your crimes. You are a scourge upon these lands, a curse upon the peaceful people of Cantawar. If it were up to me, we would have already painted these stones with your impure blood. But let me ease your foremost concern: You were not brought here to be executed, though whether your life continues from this point depends upon your actions from here. Allow me-”

The captain of the king’s glorified mercenaries was yelling something at them. Hurling words like mud toward the ragged line of mages, words that flew past Erik’s ears unheard. They had been hauled out, mage’s-bane-infused chains and all, and brought through the unusually silent streets to stand in some nondescript town square. It seemed reasonable to assume they were being dragged to their execution.

“-to be frank: We have found ourselves in a crisis. One that affects the future of us all. And like it or not our hand has been forced. We are asking for your, help.” There was an almost imperceptible hesitation as she forced out that last word. “If you agree, you will be rewarded. You will-”

Odd though, Erik noted with a tilt of his head, that other than the prattling on of the captain, it was deadly quiet out here on the muddy cobbles. No sign of the inhabitants of the capital presented themselves, no smoke rose from kitchen chimneys, no horses knickered from the direction of the nearby stables. Erik found his interest peaked enough to start actually listening to the words being thrown towards them.

“-be permitted to continue your practices, with one condition: You shall not interfere with the running of this kingdom. You don’t bother us, we are ready to turn a blind eye to you. In nearly all respects, we shall hand you your freedom.” She stood planted in front of the line of prisoners, right hand resting on the sword at her side, still as a statue aside from a quick, nervous tapping of her gloved fingers upon her weapon’s pommel.

“Now that we’ve covered incentive, let us move on to the situation at hand- The king is dead.” Her words were delivered sharply, without emotion. Her face did not flinch and the tapping continued unbroken.

Erik’s eyes finally fully came to focus in the rising sun. It had been common knowledge for some time that the king was not well in mind, but as far as the people of the kingdom knew he was in good physical health, and the kingdom didn’t currently face any foreign power as a threat. No scenario immediately presented itself to explain why the king should be dead. Not that Erik was unhappy at the news, quite the opposite, for sure.

“This morning the alarm was sounded and we were brought word of a terrible creature rampaging the inner castle. By the time my men and I arrived, the beast had torn its way through the inner chambers and broken out into the courtyard. We tried to take it there, but we could not hold. The creature was massive, and my men were sorely unprepared.”

“What the hell-“ Erik managed to croak out, voice rough from time of disuse. The captain’s steel eyes met his for a moment before continuing to scan the line of the condemned.

“Unable to stop the creature, we turned our attention to the castle’s occupants.” The tapping quickened as she weighed her next words, then stopped. “The princess has been taken by the beast that murdered our king and slaughtered our people. We can only assume that whatever force sent the evil thing had the kidnapping as its main purpose.”

Ah. So that’s what she was leading up to. “You’re saying you want us to go rescue the brat.” Erik interrupted, voice clearer now, “What reason could we possibly have to do that? We have no reason to want to help a royal, and from what you’re saying, it’s suicidal.”

The captain’s rigid posture conveyed the effort it took for the restraint not to snap back at the challenge. She sighed, and it was almost a growl, “It’s true that you may die, but your situation is this: If you refuse, we will execute you where you stand. If you agree but try to turn against us once your chains are removed, you will return to life as hunted animals and we will still see to your execution in time. We captured you once, we can do it again. But-- if you agree and help us find the princess, you shall have your freedom, a chance at life.”

Erik grimaced, but fell silent. It seemed they didn’t really have much of a choice in the matter. Also, his curiosity had been awoken.
 
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house elf

destroyer
This morning had been the most eventful day Eadri had in quite some time. She was usually up early naturally for her scheduled Staring At The Ceiling until her breakfast (or what could even be called breakfast) was hastily forced through small opening of the cell's door and was typically ignored. Instead, there were no no scraps for her and she was cuffed and led out of the dungeons and joined the procession of fellow dungeon mates. None of the Kestrels would even make eye contact or share any news, but Eadri noticed there was a certain sense of unease. Spears were gripped too tightly, eyes shifted around as they walked through the city as if something was about to leap at them at any time, and pulses beat like drums.

The cool morning air was magnificent, and she could see the other prisoners momentarily forget their own unease and take a breath. When was the last time she saw the sun? Thankfully it wasn't fully out or her goblin-like senses she had developed from her time in the dungeons would've effectively been destroyed by the stimuli. Regardless, even the blanket of clouds was beautiful to look at compared to the damp stones she was accustomed to.

As the group began to slow down and come to a stop, she finally tore her eyes away from overhead and on her surroundings. It was oddly silent save for a cough here or the clink of chains. Eadri had never witnessed an execution or even knew where they took place, but this felt like it could be a possible location albeit rather public. Did the nice citizens of Cantawar deserve their dirty mage blood to linger on their cobblestones?

Death didn't feel like much of a punishment. Eadri had longed for it for each minute down in her cell. Death was the way out of misery, and misery was itself the worst punishment which the cell had carried out dutifully. Every part of her had wasted away in a sense. She was pretty sure the cuffs had been a lot more entrapping the last time they had been slapped on, and now they sagged to a point Eadri felt like she could slip them off. However, the longer she stared and contemplated, the more she could feel them tighten. Hmph.

Her feathers and hair were dull, dirty, and matted. Her fingernails looked more like talons than the ones on her feet. She used to be afraid her wings wouldn't work after they first threw her in the cell. She had tried her best to set the broken appendage but it had a permanent jut to it. And then when it healed they made sure to bind her wings (as if she could even fully extend them in that tiny cell or even fly) which scared her the most. But so much time had passed and if it wasn't such a struggle to find a good position to sleep on her tiny cot with her wings causing such a hassle, she would've forgotten she had them in the first place. But now she was reminded of their existence as she was brought outside, and she remembered what the sky felt like. She wasn't sure if she could go back into that cell now, and when one of the Kestrels began to speak, she was all ears.

“Mages, I won’t waste my time justifying your imprisonment or reminding you of your crimes. You are a scourge upon these lands, a curse upon the peaceful people of Cantawar. If it were up to me, we would have already painted these stones with your impure blood. But let me ease your foremost concern: You were not brought here to be executed, though whether your life continues from this point depends upon your actions from here. Allow me to be frank: We have found ourselves in a crisis. One that affects the future of us all. And like it or not our hand has been forced. We are asking for your, help. If you agree, you will be rewarded. You will be permitted to continue your practices, with one condition: You shall not interfere with the running of this kingdom. You don’t bother us, we are ready to turn a blind eye to you. In nearly all respects, we shall hand you your freedom.

Now that we’ve covered incentive, let us move on to the situation at hand- The king is dead"

Eadri couldn't stop the smile that formed after that sentence. That deranged fool was the whole reason she was here and none of her family was. The king let his rage get the best of him and blamed a whole group of people, and her brother and many other fae had too as retaliation. An eye for an eye could make the whole world blind but that's why you should consider plucking the first eye. The king's foolishness had cost him in the end and not fast enough.

“This morning the alarm was sounded and we were brought word of a terrible creature rampaging the inner castle. By the time my men and I arrived, the beast had torn its way through the inner chambers and broken out into the courtyard. We tried to take it there, but we could not hold. The creature was massive, and my men were sorely unprepared. Unable to stop the creature, we turned our attention to the castle’s occupants. The princess has been taken by the beast that murdered our king and slaughtered our people. We can only assume that whatever force sent the evil thing had the kidnapping as its main purpose."

Eadri's eyebrows furrowed as she realized what these people were asking of them, and the same frog-like voice she had heard earlier once again rang out to voice all of their thoughts.

“You’re saying you want us to go rescue the brat. What reason could we possibly have to do that? We have no reason to want to help a royal, and from what you’re saying, it’s suicidal.”

Aye, it was indeed. None of these armor-plated little human fools could face whoever was the cause of their strife and they needed people they had ostracized and had suffer in their cells for months to years go fight their battle. Execution seemed preferable actually.

The woman who seemed to be the leader of said human fools looked like she was about to be sick as she responded. Even sending their enemies to get killed doing their dirty work was too much kindness being showed to the mages it seemed.

“It’s true that you may die, but your situation is this: If you refuse, we will execute you where you stand. If you agree but try to turn against us once your chains are removed, you will return to life as hunted animals and we will still see to your execution in time. We captured you once, we can do it again. But-- if you agree and help us find the princess, you shall have your freedom, a chance at life.”

Could they capture her again? They couldn't even stop a single beast, and Eadri was as beastly as they come now. She could fly back to the mountains and spend the rest of her days up there, and anyone who attempted following her would deal with storm after storm. As she reveled in her plan, a flashback crept its way into her mind.


Eadri and her brother had just made their way into the city. They were clueless and overwhelmed by how loud and crowded it all was. They spent their first night in what Eadri had learned was a bell tower, and their eardrums had nearly been permanently destroyed when it rang the next morning and they fled in shock and terror. They were starving and December's icy grip had began its torment. The siblings had tried to keep the clouds at bay so some weak sunlight could warm them up as they huddled on a roof and slow the winds, but winter was winter regardless.

"Can we please go back home, Geel. This place is a death trap. We aren't made for this place, we belong in the forests and mountains. We can go back, start new. We can both make sure they can never get up the mountain again! We can make snow ten feet high and have lightning storms surround the peak. They'll never get us." Eadri said, her wings wrapped around her body as she shivered. Geel had just gotten back from a tussle with a guard, he was beaming with pride from his victory and a cape, dagger, and small satchel of coins lay in front of him.

"We don't have a home anymore. These people-" He waved the dagger in front of her face as he spoke with the familiar snarl. "Took them away from us. We didn't do a single thing to them but they hate what we can do so they seek it out and squash it. Look at their cities, look how crude these people and their buildings are. They have their kings and queens and guards. Imagine being so simple minded you and thousands of other people eagerly obey two people who sit on little thrones. If our people joined up like they have, if even a fraction of their numbers, they would be wiped out. And I long for that day as should you. Humans need to be culled. We don't run from them anymore, they will run from us. This is our land, not theirs."



What would Geel think of her helping these humans? He wasn't one to choose death, that was for sure. He'd want her to fight it, even if only two choices were presented.
Maybe there was another way. Maybe they'd find these king-killing mages. Maybe she could join them.

I'll fight for you, brother. I'll fight for everyone we've lost. She promised internally, before squaring her shoulders.

"I'll gladly join your cause, but surely we could get rewarded with a bath first, right?" She said as sweetly as she could muster, her own voice croaking just as the man before her had.
 
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Fairyfloss

Potentially a person. Not sure yet.
Naja... really wasn't sure what was going on. She had heard the commotion - it was hard to not notice something was going on - though she had absolutely no idea what exactly was going on. She as a criminal, after all, and not just because she was a mage, and as such she preferred to stay away from any commotion. After all, it was best for her to not be seen at all; less attention meant it was less likely an active manhunt for her would be started.

And yet... today was different. Something about what was going on made Naja think that maybe, just maybe, she should investigate what was going on. Investigate why everyone seemed to be taking shelter in their houses. A revolution of some sort, perhaps? There was only really one way to find out. Carefully and quietly, she made her way over to the town square, careful to not stumble upon anyone who might be a Kestrel.

She arrived just in time to listen to the captain's rant, listening to her yelling at a group of chained-up mages. A public execution? No, that wouldn't explain the earlier commotions, or why everyone had fled.

Her questions would soon end up answered, though, as a few moments later, the captain dropped a bombshell; the king was slain.

By now, Naja was too invested in what was going on to retreat, and so she stuck around to listen, hiding behind a few crates as she listened further, her eyes widening more with every word the captain spoke. The princess had been abducted, and the mages that would cooperate in rescuing her would be given freedom.

This was... an opportunity Naja really had to think deeply about. On one hand, the promised reward for success... was great. Freedom and safety from persecution alone was an incredible reward, but there was also the unspoken reward that the captain might not have considered. If mages were to make rescuing the princess possible, then perhaps the princess - and maybe even the people - might begin to see her kind in a different light than they did now. Perhaps the princess would even overturn her father's decisions, and end the Cleansing.

But, there were also many risks involved. The most obvious risk was, of course, getting slain while attempting to rescue the princess. But another issue was... that there was no guarantee. No promise that the captain's words would hold true once the princess was brought to safety. The only reassurance that she would not get a dagger through her heart the moment the princess was safe was the Captain's promise.

Taking a deep breath, Naja pressed a hand against her chest, and cast her concealment spell on herself. She was already hidden from sight behind some crates, but this way, she would be even better hidden. And then, she called out.

"How can we trust you will keep to your word once we have recovered the princess?" Naja yelled out once the town square had fallen silent. "What will you do to reassure us that you will not simply kill us once the princess is safe? You have hunted us for ten years, what will you do to assure us you won't resume your hunt the moment the princess is safe?" She then added, before moving away to elsewhere, just to ensure that it wouldn't be as easy to find her, even if she was invisible for now.
 

x_Tasia_X

Member
Nina stared at the sky as she was dragged out of the prison. Rather roughly, she might add. This entire situation confused her. And these cuffs prevented her from looking into the guards minds to figure out what was going on. But none of that mattered to Nina for a moment as she stepped out into the sun. She hadn't seen the sun for so long, what a beautiful sight. She used to love the dawn.


A smile broke out on her face as the guards brought her to where the other mages lined up. They scowled and scorned her, but it never hurt her feelings. She could tell that they were afraid. Fear turns to hatred, if only they'd listen. But she had tried to use her voice on them before and it never worked. They were too far gone, for now. Maybe one day she would convince them to shed their hatred, it would make them feel much lighter if they did.


Nina's gaze stayed planted on the sun. She only looked at the Captain when she announced that the King had died. She found it tragic how he died, blinded by hatred and grief. It consumed him. She believed the King died a long time ago, with his wife. It was only a matter of time before this happened. She wasn't surprised.


She listened to the offer the Captain gave. Save the princess and she and the others would be pardoned. She would accept the offer, if she were pardoned she could continue to help the other mages in harsh situations. Possibly start a revolution if she could. She would be more careful, not to get caught this time. Someone in the crowd questioned the integrity of the bargain. It raised some doubts for Nina too. Nina couldn't look into their minds with these cuffs on, she had no idea if they were lying or not.


Nina would help either way, the princess was a child who had done nothing wrong to them. She didn't deserve whatever fate that beast would give her. But… Saving the life of a royal would have benefits, she could instill doubts in the princesses' head. Convince the princess that mages weren't monsters by saving her life and perhaps the princess would remember their deeds when she ruled. Perhaps saving this little girl would bring a better life for all mages.


Even if they were all killed after saving her and this was all a lie, the seeds of doubt would be planted in the girl. Nina wouldn't mind death if it was for the betterment of her people. She would voice no complaints for now.
 

spiralingheretic

New Member
It had been a week since she had been imprisoned, and despite the horrid conditions, the worst thing for Harlow was the boredom. She woke up and she was bored. The food they slid through the slot at the bottom of her cell door twice a day was bland and boring. Even eavesdropping on the guards' conversations yielded little entertainment. You'd think those guys would have better gossip than what their spouses were making for dinner that night, but apparently not. At first, Harlow had examined her cell for any weakness that could provide her escape: a weak part of the wall, a loose bar on the tiny window. Harlow often got lucky like that, but it seemed that this time her luck had run out. After a week, she hadn't quite given up hoped, but had determined that this escape would be more difficult than usual.

But apparently fate was playing some sort of prank on her, because as soon as she had woken up that morning, resigned to waiting, she had been forcefully taken from her cell. Before she'd had an opportunity to do anything, though, they were putting her in cuffs. Thinking quickly, she curled her hands into fists and flexed her wrists, so even when the fastened the chains tightly, she had some wiggle room when she relaxed them. It was not enough to slip out of the cuffs, but at least she had better range of motion. Now if she could just get her hands on something to pick the lock... Or, Harlow reconsidered, eying the guard who had fastened her restraints, she might even be able to get her hands on that key. What she needed was a distraction. Actually, the guards already looked a bit preoccupied, as if their minds were elsewhere. Harlow was certain they wouldn't assign the best and brightest guards to her. After all, she was just a smuggler, and had exhibited no extraordinary power. So she had that going for her as well.

Harlow stopped abruptly. The guard behind her, distracted and not expecting this, ran into her. Knowing she didn't have much time, Harlow discreetly felt around on his belt. There it was! The key ring! She was close to detaching it when the guard shoved her to the floor. "Keep moving, scum!" He growled. Harlow scrambled back up to her feet, making a show of looking meek and hurt. Meanwhile, her hand clasped around her prize, hiding it in her fist.

As Harlow was led upwards and toward the town square, and she knew they probably meant to execute her. Not ideal, and not just for the obvious reasons. Being publicly executed meant Harlow would have all eyes on her, and there would be little to no opportunity to make her escape. Welp, she thought, I had a good run of it. If she was honest with herself, this was a long time coming. Yet as she was led out of the dungeon, she was brought to a larger group of prisoners, mostly mages by the looks of it. A mass execution? The thought cheered Harlow up. That would make it much easier to escape. At the very least it would be way more interesting.

A woman Harlow recognized as the Kestrel captain began to speak, and while everyone was listening to her, Harlow tuned the woman out and began fidgeting with the key, trying to get it in a position where she could unlock the cuffs. Easier said than done. Super concentrated on what she was doing, Harlow didn't really pay attention to what was being said (Gods, this lady could go on. Just kill me already damn.) until she heard a single phrase that made her perk up: "you will be rewarded." Oh a reward? Now she was listening.

It was a good thing Harlow started listening then because the next words ended up being something like "blah blah incentive, blah, blah... situation... blah, the king is dead."

Oh damn.

Now this was the kind of drama Harlow had been waiting for.

She paused what she was doing with her hands and paid close attention to what was said next. Apparently some beast had come rampaging through the castle, killed the king and stolen the princess. Harlow was starting to get a good idea about what the Kestrels wanted, and snorted incredulously. The might as well just do a mass execution right here right now. Apparently some other guy had the same idea, and voiced their shared incredulity. "What reason would we have to do that?" What reason indeed... Harlow listened closely to the captain's answer. Depending on the reward, it might just be worth it. Maybe.

But it turned out all they were offering was the chance at freedom, which was what they had taken away in the first place. "What a freaking racket," muttered Harlow, and began concentrating once more on her chains. Others had protests, but Harlow was once again disinterested. Anyway, once the Kestrels found out she wasn't a mage, they'd realize she wasn't of any use to them and lock her back up. How'd she get caught up in all of this anyway? She vowed to never again deal in magical artifacts, even if the profit margin was extremely lucrative.

Hah! Harlow managed to get the key inside the lock. Now all she had to do was wait for just the right moment to free herself. Until then, she would remain silent and keep her head down.
 

Stern LuLuLu

Junior Member
Having just finished up some business in Cantawar the day before getting some fresh coin in his pocket. Seto decided to greet the day with a leisurely walk. Taking a little time off for himself in the great city. He has been here a few times but not enough to know the whole layout of the place. But it didn't feel as heavy as it did today. He can only guess something big happened last after he set in for the night. Walking out of a store a bag of rations from the palace that is still open ."I don't know only coming here for work is a good thing or a bad one. Oh well." He says to himself as he takes a bit out of a sandwich he made while in the shop.

After walking around for a while he noticed that there was a gathering of people in the capital going to where all the commotion was. Sato came upon a group of prisoners. Mabey they have something to with the weird atmosphere that was over the place. A public execution is a bit much but he doesn't know what they did so he can't judge. But this was disproved when what seems to be the captain of the king soldiers started to speak.

So their mages unfortunate is what he was going to say. Until he heard they would get their freedom if they helped. With whatever task they were given. The king is dead this is a bit of a surprise so that's what going on. Something big would have to happen to make them turn to mages for help. Some of the mages had things to say. Even a couple of people in the crowd had words to say about the deal being offered by the Kestrels no doubt those who were affected by the cleansing in some way or another. Going silent a bit before going back to his original mood and listening to the rest of the captain's spiel.

As well the princess had been kidnapped this just kept getting more complicated. So was the king just in the way or did they intend to do away with him in the process? This will be interesting to see how things will work out in the kingdom. From what he heard from the older laymen things were kinda better in the old days. This may be the start of a change which his seniors also wanted to happen.

But Seto was on board the moment he heard a beast was involved. Even if it wasn't the one he was looking for it was a start. Only saying it loud enough for a few people around him to hear. Smiling while saying it.
"I guess I will throw my hat in as well."
 
Dahlia was not having a good morning, and honestly, for her, the bar was low. Her body ached the way one does after sleeping on unforgiving, dank stone floors. By now cold had seeped into her skin and taken residency near her bones, curling around them like snakes around branches. Her body was littered with wounds that were still to fresh to have begun healing, each a reminder of the endless toiling and barbaric fights she had been forced into the days before. Her hands trembled hard enough to make the chains around her wrists- bindings that she could swear were of her own making- jingle quietly in the relative silence of the square. She hadn't eaten since the morning before, and felt like she hadn't really slept since before that; she could feel it in the way her body swayed gently in its protest to being upright.

Her eyes, however, didn't waver. She trained them intensely on the droning Kestrel Captain, and though her expression was mostly neutral, her eyes are what betrayed the rage billowing in her chest. Fury rolled off her in waves, and one of the Kestrels who had forced her awake and marched her outside must have noticed. His attentions had shifted from the captain to her tense form, a wary hand resting on the hilt of his sheathed sword. Dahlia paid him no mind, though. She was too preoccupied with the hypocrisy of the self-important woman before her.

Dahlia couldn't care less that the king was dead, cruel a man as he turned out to be, or the beast that had apparently killed him. She didn't care that his daughter was missing either; she had been raised in a time where all she knew was her father's hatred of mages and Fae, so it'd be no surprise if this heir to the throne held the same ideals. But to have her freedom, her life, dangled in front of her just out of reach by the very people who had taken it, at the caveat of helping them- it was too much. To be "allowed" to exist at the whim of these people, who had somehow deluded themselves into thinking they were the heroes in this twisted reality... Dahlia would call it absurd, almost to the point of tipping into hilarity.

She fought back the thought that she would've preferred her execution, right then and there, in the rays of the rising sun. But even if this illusion of a choice- "you help or you die"- had a better set of options, Dahlia didn't really have one anyway. She had made a promise to her parents before they died, and the least she could do was live another day to fulfill it.

So instead of joining in the outbursts of the small crowd, the half-orc stood, unsteady on her feet but unwavering in her anger. There was nothing she could say that would change the outcome of her situation into something favorable, so instead she remained quiet, tearing her eyes away from the captain only to look over the crowd as it’s members spoke up.
 

YsFanatic

Member
This whole situation scared Valleni. First she was thrown in a cell, her pleas for help ignored, now she was being dragged out into the city with a bunch of other prisoners. It seemed obvious that this was going to be the end for them, and while being faced with her imminent death terrified the young woman, there was also some sense of relief that she would finally escape from the spear. After all, it had already demonstrated that she couldn't escape from it just by being a prisoner, as when Valleni had awoken yesterday she found it right outside her cell, its tip buried in the ground. The confused and frightened reactions of the guards upon its discovery told her that they had no idea how it happened. And if they didn't know how the weapon had accomplished that feat, then how could they keep it from her? With that in mind, it made sense to her that the Kestrels would order her execution.

But that isn't what happened, instead they were asking her and the others for help of all things. While Valleni had no loyalty to the country, and thus didn't particularly care about the king's fate, a child being kidnapped didn't sit right with her. Even more of interest to her though was that this was perhaps a means to get their help in figuring out how to solve the problem that was the spear's existence. Thing was, would she even be of any help or would she be in the way? Hers used to a simple village life, raise some livestock, mend and make clothing for the other villagers, and sometimes foraging for things the village didn't grow for itself. But even with those doubts in her mind, Valleni decided to accept the offer anyway for the lack of better options, her voice quiet from rarely being used. "I'll go, do whatever I am able."
 

Zyngard

There are some who call me Zyn
Irie silently stepped out to the courtyard with her fellow prisoners, gazing around idly at them. Three fae, from what she could see. A public execution. How barbaric. Unsurprising, seeing how the country had regressed without the use of magic. How the people had suffered, for the sake of the king. She faintly grimaced, thinking about it. She didn't like to think about it particularly often, preferred to keep herself busy with helping on the small scale, but the truth of it didn't escape her. She had seen the contrast. But if they were being executed, it wasn't something she would have to worry herself with for much longer. A shame, that. And there was the captain, there to eulogize the 'criminals'. The crime of existing, of daring to seek knowledge declared illegal.

...okay, so she was still a bit angry about the whole thing, but who could really blame her? Three among them were purely imprisoned for being born, for being in the wrong country at the wrong time. Regardless, it seemed that judge and jury was speaking to them. Impure blood, a scourge on the land. Irie would slap the captain if she could. She was born in the time of the crusades, no doubt. Too young to know what mages had done for the country, brought up taught that they were less than human. Never told of the advancements made, or the medicines developed...

The king was dead.

Irie blinked at that, unable to help a surprised start, but hiding her faint grin. She would never be one to wish death upon someone... but hearing of the death of one who deserved it was a certain satisfaction all on it's own. If German was a thing, she'd call it schadenfreude. Killed by a magic beast that had torn it's way through the castle, and escaped with the princess? Odd. So, if she helped out, she'd be allowed to live, if exiled. ...well, while she'd prefer to stay in the country of her 'birth' (she had done it so far, after all), she wasn't going to complain about escaping death. And she couldn't in good conscious just go on, knowing that someone was in danger, particularly from a magical beast, it seemed like. Particularly as, if she were rescued by a group of mages... they could try to start undoing the cultural harm. No doubt it would be difficult, considering the princess' company growing up, but... they could try, at least?

Irie was simply curious about the strings that were attached. And so was someone else, based on the voice calling out from... the crowd? Irie furrowed her brow at that, glancing around at the small crowd that had gathered, dead silence having descended on the square at the news of the kings passing. She wondered if this was the first place that knew outside of the capital. Their choices were stay and be executed, or go on a suicide mission? What were they, some kind of-

Taking a breath, Irie nodded, steadying up and gazing up at the Kestral captain. With a calm voice that held steadiness she didn't really feel, Irie simply stated, "I accept."
 

Noil

cursed with ideas
That actually went over a lot better than Talia was expecting. None of the vermin had outright refused them or tried any kind of ill-fated escape attempt, not that they could do much with their magic still hampered by the chains as they were. Whether they would remain this subdued once the shackles dropped, however, was still to be seen. Her men, those who remained anyway, had expressed such concerns, but no one had an alternative. They had all faced the frenzied power of this beast. They knew they could not pull this off on their own.

At Naja’s unseen interrogation from somewhere in the square, the captain straightened further, if that was possible from her already rigid stance, “We could ask of you the same thing. We have all of us lost companions to your kind.” She gestured to the gathered Kestrels, their faces grim and determined, “You are entitled to your share of resentment and mistrust, but I give you my word, there are no deceptions being employed here.”

Erik scoffed loudly from the line of mages, not bothering to try and hide it behind a cough or sleeve. What good was the word of someone whose job it was to kill them?

Talia ignored any incredulity from the line, continuing on, “To be frank, there is no assurance of trust between us. However, you need us for this chance to restore yourselves to a position of favor within this kingdom, and we need you to be the means by which we defeat this evil. Like it or not, we need each other.”

She was self-righteous, and what some might consider a mass-murderer, but she was unfortunately also right, Erik thought. If there ever was a time that Cantawar had a chance to return to the way things were before King Maeleg turned the country to shit this was it. Any time power changed hands it was likely to bring change, and if they could get on the good side of the new ruler, this time the change might be for the better. Gods, but that woman could talk. If they kept on like this the kid would be across the ocean by the time they started off.

“We all hate each other, and if we don’t work together, everyone’s fucked. We get it. Can we all agree not to murder each other so we can get these things off already?” He raised his hands, the clink of the shackles there punctuating his question.
 

YsFanatic

Member
The lack of conflict about this turn of events, at least so far, was heartening to Valleni. Sure there were suspicions on both sides, but that was to be expected given what little she had heard about the Cleansing. The curse-affected woman desperately hoped everyone kept a cool head, if this expedition fell apart then her chance to find a way to return to normal would vanish, the thought causing her tail to twitch once in concern. Unfortunately she had no words to offer that might help convince any more of her fellow prisoners to agree to the proposal being offered to them, so she stayed quiet for the moment.

Thankfully one of the other prisoners seemed to be as eager as her to get things moving, at least that is what it sounded like to Valleni from what he was saying. The sound from his shackles caused her to glance down at her own restraints for a moment, just long enough enough to also note the tattered and ruined state of her hunting clothes that had been damaged during her attempted flight from the Kestrels. There was no way that they were going to be sufficient for the journey ahead. If the Kestrels had confiscated her other belongings, then she'd be in luck for she still had the nicer traveling outfit that had been originally bought with the money gotten from selling the spear. Valleni had worn it whenever she dared to venture into town to try to look more respectable than her worn hunting clothing would have done, but had since packed it away once the changes to her body had become too obvious. But if that outfit, or any of the other clothing she had made for herself were still in her hut, then she was going to need to be provided with something better than rags.

"Um, what..." The woman paused for a moment, then raised her voice to be louder than a whisper, "What are we doing for clothing and traveling gear?" Valleni would think the Kestrels would provide the necessities, but it was better to ask and know for sure. She did wonder if they would bring along the cursed spear, or try locking it away again and give her a regular one. If it was the latter, then they would learn as she had that it would follow her no matter what anyone did.
 

Fairyfloss

Potentially a person. Not sure yet.
Hidden from view, still sheltering within the alley, Naja listened to the captain's words. Though she was not happy with what she said, Naja knew that they were correct. Neither party could give the other any assurances, they needed eachother in order to be able to complete this quest. Without the help of mages, the Kestrels would not be able to fight this threat, and without the Kestrels, the mages would not be able to put an end to this, either.

So, for Naja, there really only was one option, here.

"Then you will have my assistance." She called out once more, not yet revealing herself. "However, you must understand that, for my own safety, I will not reveal myself until we leave this town." Naja spoke.

"You may ask me questions, or ask for input, and I will answer and watch, but I will not come out of my hiding place yet. But you have my word that unless this is a ruse of some kind, I will lend you my assistance in ensuring the princess' safe return."

"I have never struck down any of your comrades, and if you make no attempt for my life, then that will not change. My sole condition for helping you is that you make no attempt to kill or capture me. Do you accept these terms?"
 

Stern LuLuLu

Junior Member
Seto listened to how the captain of the Kestrels answered the question and queries put to her. Int was a decent deal as far as he could tell He thought it all seemed pretty upfront. Don't help a be killed or imprisoned again. On the other hand, you can have a chance at freedom and maybe more depending on the princess But that was something yet to be seen. Who knows how that will turn out.
Hearing the voice from before speak out again saying that they would help too but with a couple of conditions was nice. It also made him feel better knowing he wouldn't be the only nonprisoner helping out with this even if his fellow citizen was being cautious.
Walking to the front of the crowd in clear view of everyone and looking dead at the captain of the Kestrels."I'm not sure if you will allow it but I too would like to help find the princess. I may just be a citizen of this land but I can't sit by and do nothing. I am well-traveled and I know my way around a weapon or two. So I humbly ask to be allowed on this venture."

Seto also wanted to see if the beast that took the princess was the one he was after. He knows how it is to watch a beast rip through people you know. and be powerless to do anything. But now was different he would do everything he could to help and if the chance came up get revenge.
 

Zyngard

There are some who call me Zyn
Hm. At least they admitted that there was no trust on either side of the equation. One of the other prisoners near her seemed to be rather eager to get the chains off, which... she agreed with, to be honest. She nodded at one of the others asking about equipment, and she shifted in place. She'd like her own equipment back, which would be nice. As was expected from being captured, it had been confiscated when she was... captured. What was more surprising, though, was the mage in the crowd. Not only the fact that there was one there, but that they were offering to help. Perhaps unrest was behind it. Irie had grown rather disdainful of the system, too, but she doubted she would put herself in such danger if she was free.

Notably, her voice this time was from a different location than the first time, so she was moving about, too. And yet, in a way that didn't disturb the crowd, as she didn't hear any protests, or see shuffling towards or away from the source of the voice. Interesting.

Another one offering from the crowd..? Was that a mage, too, or just some guy offering? She couldn't imagine it was a mage, not making an action that bold in front of the guards. It was true that they needed as much help as they could get, but at the same time, a mage making such a decision was... frankly, stupid at best.

"...Well, I can confirm that I will assist, but I would like a few assurances myself. Equipment, and these shackles coming off would be first. Can't do magecraft with the cuffs on, and you want us for our magic." She states to the captain. "Whether you like us or not, we won't be able to work together if you can't trust us with the basest freedoms."
 
"Let us just get on with it." Dahlia spoke loudly when a brief pause in conversation presented itself. She didn't shout or snap, but much like her stature her voice was imposing, and it cut easily through the murmurs of the crowd. She had listened intently to the response of her fellow mages so far, and though she thought the questions and comments were pertinent, something about the ease at which everyone was just accepting this arrangement annoyed her in the worst way. It was especially irritating since she wasn't in any position to go against the plan herself. More than anything, though, she hated the way the Captain addressed the crowd with an almost pious air about her. Dahlia was already sick of standing there listening to people talk, and she wanted nothing more than to get a move on so that she could walk off all the anger and annoyance she felt. She was practically itching at the thought of getting out of the city walls. She turned to face the captain fully.

"This is bullshit," she said dully, latching on the the little sliver of attention she had gained from speaking up. "You're desperate, yes, but most of us are disposable and don't exactly have leverage in this arrangement." She held up her wrists, showing off the cuffs around them as if the reason why the prisoners were at a disadvantage weren't obvious.

"On top of that, if things are as dire as you say, I can't imagine how all of us standing around and chatting about it is any help. You've made your demands, and so far things are going your way. Let's move on to whatever's next."
 

Noil

cursed with ideas
“Right,” Talia nodded to one of the Kestrels standing behind her, and he approached the mages, ring of silver keys in hand. As the man - still just a boy really - approached them, signs of the ordeal the Kestrels had been through that morning became more evident. The boy’s tabards - usually a source of pride among the capital branch - were rumpled and askew under his armor, and the distant look behind his eyes and rust color not quite scrubbed off his hands hinted at the encounter they had faced. There were a lot less of them standing around than one would expect to see in Danach after all.

As the boy came up and fumbled with the shackles, Erik held his gaze with unhidden distaste until the cursed metal dropped to the ground and the boy moved on. He stretched, breathing in deeply as he felt the flow of magic return to his body. It was like sight being returned after having been blind, and Erik couldn’t help a small, tired smile from flickering across his face. Compared to some of those standing here, he hadn’t really been without it that long, but having an integral part of being cut off from him had made the time stretch into an eternity. Keen eyes might even notice a slight teal glow flicker across his eyes for a fraction of a second, as small sprigs of grass which had eked out an existence between the cobbles of the square suddenly shriveled and collapsed.

Talia continued, “Regarding equipment, we have retained some of your possessions.”

As if on cue, two Kestrels appeared making their way down the street that led back up to the castle. Many of the mages’ belongings had been burned or otherwise disposed of upon their capture, but there were a small number of items that had been held for one reason or another, and the two individuals’ arms were loaded with a seemingly random selection of things. Talia nodded to them as they approached, and they deposited their loads without ceremony on the cobbles.

“Reclaim what was yours,” Talia said, motioning to the small pile, “If need for anything else arises, we will obtain it along the way.”

Erik rolled his eyes. Of course she would assume the people of the kingdom would be happy to supply the effort. No one ever had a choice in supporting the Kestrel’s movements in the kingdom, if they didn’t want to be accused of treason that is. Although, if word of the royal situation spread as fast as most news in the land did, would people still feel that duress? If there was no ruler on the throne to give them sanction, all the Kestrels really had going for them was their reputation as protectors and the threat of violence.

“As for those of you who have volunteered yourselves,” Oh gods, she was still talking, “Your aid is most welcome.” She nodded toward Seto, as he was the only speaker she had seen, “Go, gather what you need and meet us at the eastern entrance to the city. We follow the beast’s trail to Lúth-glad. But be quick about it, we can’t afford to waste any more time as the princess is taken farther away by the minute.”

Erik glanced briefly over the discarded pile of belongings, not truly expecting to see anything he’d lost upon his capture. He traveled light to begin with, and any weapons or valuables he might have been carrying had surely conveniently gone missing once the Kestrels had rummaged through his things.
 

x_Tasia_X

Member
Nina hadn't been listening to anything the guard or her fellow prisoners were saying. She was much too distracted by the world. It had been too long since she saw outside. The grass, the sky, hearing the sound of the birds singing, and the people. It was odd, looking at someone and not being able to hear their thoughts,l when she wanted to. Thanks to these cuffs. It was too quiet in her head, she didn't like it. She longed for her wrists to be freed of these.


Nina finally turned her gaze from the skies when a young man approached her. She watched the boy with a sympathetic gaze as he fumbled with her cuffs. He didn't look to be in the best shape. She supposed it was to be expected. There must've been a battle with the beast. Nina looked around the crowd. There weren't as many Kestrels as usual. That told her enough.


Nina watched the cuffs fall off her hands, she held back a sigh and smiled widely. Her eyes almost seemed to get brighter. She stared at her bare wrists, only bruises left from those shackles. She could hear the thoughts of others returning to her head, but they were quiet. Mostly inaudible from a lack of use, she presumed. She looked up from her hands, it was still quiet, but it wasn't silent anymore. She should be happy with that. She almost thanked the boy who held the keys, but she remembered that one of his kind would not appreciate her gratitude.

As for the box of belongings, she knew nothing of hers would have been saved, she was a child when she arrived here. And they wouldve burned everything she held dear. Maybe when she escaped, she could collect new things that would be precious to her. To replace the old ones.
 

Stern LuLuLu

Junior Member
After hearing that he can join the quest for the beast that took the princess Seto gave a bow to the captain of the Kestrels. Seeing the state of his soon-to-be comrades' belongings kind of made him think things might start rough. Seto then looked to his new friends giving them a bit of a smile and waving to them."Hello, comrades, I hope that you don't mind me tagging along with you though I do not have any magic I do hope that we can get along. Also, I may not be a rich man but if any of you want I can get you basic things if you want. That goes for you as well fellow citizen. I still have to go get my things so we might pass up a couple of shops on the way."Talking to the other person in the crowd who is still hidden. He then turned around letting anyone who wants to follow him do so.

"By the way, I am Seto Luzon. A friendly traveler who takes on odd jobs to get by."


He figured none of them would know who he is so it would be fine. The only thing they might have heard is that he goes after any new information about any magical beast.
Seto thought to himself that these former prisoners could use a bit of a hand. He didn't mind taking chances after all. It would also be a good chance to get to know them a little too. Seto wouldn't go into full details about why he was helping but he hoped the one he gave about the concerned citizen would be enough after all they had their reasons to.
 

YsFanatic

Member
Unlike some of the others, Valleni didn't feel any different physically when her shackles were removed, but there was the emotional relief of not being bound any more. While she hadn't been held prisoner for very long, it still felt absolutely wonderful to ability to freely move around be restored to her and she couldn't even begin to imagine what it felt like for the others that had been captured far earlier than she had.

Then the topic of equipment was addressed, and the curse affected woman was pleased to hear that the possessions of the prisoners was being returned to them, what remained at least. However, even with that news, Valleni was surprised to spot one of the Kestrels carrying the cursed spear amongst the other items. She had expected them to be treating it with more caution given its nature, but she knew that it was quite likely that the poor man had been influenced by the spear and hadn't even realized that he had picked it up. But whatever the case may be, Valleni didn't give the weapon much attention when she searched the pile of items for anything else of hers. To her surprise, the Kestrels had indeed kept her 'nice' outfit, or at least most of it. The necklace and bracelet that she would wear with it were nowhere to be found, likely sold off or claimed by someone she guessed, but the actual clothing parts were all there. Scooping up the clothing, she then paused for a moment before arranging it so she would have a hand free to pick up the spear, grimacing when her fingers made contact with the cursed metal.

"I... I don't suppose there would be a chance to get changed before leaving?" Valleni hoped the Kestrel leader would give her the few moments, and a spot of privacy somewhere, to do so. Plus she imagined there had to be at least one or two others that would like to have a chance to change into something better suited for traveling. But if not, she'd see if any of the various bags and other means of carrying items laying on the ground went unclaimed by the other now ex-prisoners for her to use and just make due until they stopped for the night.
 

Zyngard

There are some who call me Zyn
Good. She had her magic back. Of course, they couldn't totally block off her magic, seeing as part of her biology functioned around circulating mana, but when it came to casting spells, she was as helpless as the rest of them. Just a little bit more comfort than the rest of them when the cuffs were off, and a bit less relief. Higher low, lower high, so to speak. On the topic of equipment... unfortunately, it didn't seem like her own bow had survived the trip. Fortunately, it did seem like she had a few choices when it came to equipment. Nothing that looked like it was terribly maintained, but workable.

Irie frowned as she picked up a bow that clearly wasn't the highest quality, but... it was workable enough. She had worked with worse, back when she was making her own bows. A few arrows, but just mundane ones, of course. Just five of them, not too much to work with. Maybe if she had some time, she could whittle more, but she'd need- ah, a knife. Of course, none of this was actually hers, but she doubted the soldiers knew that- she didn't recognize any of them from her capture, and she very much doubted they kept track of belongings of mages.

A few more mundane items, a belt, quiver, a smaller knife... and that should be enough to be ready. Ah, spare clothes. Good to take those, err on the side of having them a bit bigger... and she was good to go.

...there was the temptation, of course, to immediately make a run for it, but that was an easy enough temptation to shove down and ignore. Too great of a risk. Besides, without the princess, the Kestrels were in control of the nation, and her best bet for making any sort of systemic change would be to appeal to the princess. Or if all else failed, she could simply... no, kidnapping the princess herself would be a terrible idea. She grimaced, and simply approached the captain silently, bow in her right, gloved hand. "Will we be doing anything in particular before heading out?" She asked, though her tone almost made it more of a statement than a question.
 

Fairyfloss

Potentially a person. Not sure yet.
With a few more folks announcing their willingness to join forces with the Kestrels - the minority of whom weren't already prisoners - it seemed that it was about time to get going. Especially once the captain called for the prisoners' possessions to be returned to them. Naja had no possessions that had been taken from her, of course, but still, she figured that getting equiped with more things couldn't hurt, right?

Assuming she could get to them, that is. Naja was still unwilling to reveal herself this early. Sure, the mages had been freed so far, so there was less of a chance that this was all a big and complicated trap, but still she felt... uneasy about just giving herself away. Additionally, she didn't have the most need for new items. The others here would most likely have more use for them.

So, she waited, at first. Slowly making her way towards the wagon, still unseen, careful to ensure nobody would bump into her. She couldn't move too fast or she'd tire herself out too much, so she had to be careful, for now.

Only when most of the former-prisoners had taken items would Naja take a few of her own, and those looking very closely would notice a few objects briefly lift up then vanish. A dagger, a pouch, and a few caltrops.
 

Noil

cursed with ideas
“We’re not waiting or delaying any longer,” Talia stated, swiping a hand horizontally to emphasize her declaration. Her voice clearly projected her growing impatience with the situation she had created for herself here, and a few of the Kestrels behind her shuffled uncomfortably at her sudden shift away from a professional manner. “We are departing immediately. We need the help but if you can’t keep up you forfeit the benefits of our partnership.

“Cadogan you and your Wing bring up the rear,” she said, motioning toward a severe-looking man in similar garb to her own. The man straightened and with a ‘Yes, captain,’ moved with three others to circle around the small group of mages.

Talia’s jaw clenched at the small number of people that had entailed, and perhaps for the first time that day truly noticed the full extent of the losses they had incurred. She only had four of her own Wing, her squad, left to her after the fight in the courtyard. They would have to seek reinforcements from those stationed at the next town they came to. For a moment she looked like she was going to say more, and in different company she probably would have - some words of encouragement to rally around or resolve their purpose - as it was she only gritted her teeth and turned, the four members of her Wing, hesitating awkwardly before moving to follow, lingering back a bit to keep eyes on the mages.

Erik had crossed his arms over his chest as everyone was speaking, and he dropped them back to his sides as the Kestrels surrounded them and his nonchalant attitude wavered for a moment. He quickly squashed his nerves however, shooting a glare toward one who’d passed close by. He’d made it this far in life without letting them get to him, that wasn’t about to change now.

He stooped and swiped up a set of leather spaulders that hadn’t been claimed when the others had stepped forward. They definitely weren’t his, but they would fit well enough and he would feel better with at least a little protection. “Kegaan duun draal dherlec” Better to die fighting than live without moving, he muttered the goblin saying to himself, one of many he’d picked up in Gammelig. The goblins didn’t do many sensible things, all told, but every now and then they struck on something that could be considered good advice. It was high time to start taking a more active role in this world.

He was used to a more stealthy type of motion through cities like this, though. It didn’t feel right to be going along this blatant and out in the open, to say nothing of being part of a group this large and consisting of so many outright enemies. Erik had essentially been on his own for the past ten years, this would take some adjustment. He swept his gaze over his fellow freed mages as everyone started into motion, not surprised to find he didn’t recognise any of the faces there.
 

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