Once she would have killed to be on these roads, to be away from the Midlands and finally seeing the whole Sarthenfall, all of Sarthenfall. Sure she’d ventured to the other kingdoms in a guarded carriage for a boring party with her sisters, and though they generally made the trip worth it, she wanted to explore the world for herself.
But no - it turned out that she actually had to be attempted to be murdered to get out of the palace. And now...all she wanted to do was go back. The pines of the northern forest made the air chrisp and sharp, and despite the sun that usually warmed her skin in the Midlands, the sun did little here, but as far as she’d heard, the North always had a bite in the air.
Azalea was following a whisper she knew, and truthfully wether this rebellion was real or not she didn’t know, she didn’t know where it was - if it even existed, and the pines of the North were not an easy terrain to navigate. It was her complaining and pessimism that allowed her to get through anything. Every town she stopped through, every person she met - there was death. Bodies were still being...cleaned up from the streets, and people held grief in their eyes as commonly as they breathed. It was this that kept her going. For if she thought of her sisters, her parents, if she thought of...
Azalea snapped the reins against her stallion, Wind-Cleaver, who began a steady trot through the forest, her lips pressed thinly together in anger, still, she attempted to keep her emotions in check around the wee chit.
Leinad was a small, scrawny boy she’d found in the Midlands, and she knew if she’d left him either theives, bandits, or even worse, Shades, would pick him off in little time. So she offered him some bread and cheese and helped him up into her horse, now he sat in front of her, her arms around him clutching the reins of the horse, if the rebellion existed, it’d be his best bet for survival. The more towns they stopped through, the less recognizable she’d become.
Azalea had obviously seen better days. She wore leather pants that were stained, and beginning to tear leather boots caked in mud, and a long sleeved white button down tunic that was now just a little too loose on her trim physique that was now a little on the skinnier side. Her dark, wavy, maroon colored hair was in a side braid that was coming undone, loose tendrils hanging in front of her pale, gaunt complexion. But even then her gaunt, dirty complexion wasn’t the worse of her. Along her right cheek five lines, caked in dry blood ran down diagonally across her cheek. Princesses didn’t have scars as far as everybody knew.
Even if she wasn’t recognizable, she wasn’t an idiot. They stayed off the main roads, with the Shades on the hunt, no place was safe for long, and the main roads would be searched thoroughly. As a result, it made her journey about three times as long. It’d been awhile since they stopped anywhere, at least a day and a half.
So when she saw a small clearing in the pines, along with glimpses of smoke rising from the trees, Azalea kicked Wind-Cleaver into a full gallop, making sure Leinad wouldn’t go tumbling off as se rode for the building, nearly sliding off the horse as they broke through the clearing and read the big wooden sign placed outside the somewhat larger wooden building that read; “The Pinefrost Inn”.
An Inn, of all things to come across. It was as if someone had heard her bitter thoughts and answered them with a warm building. If they were lucky, maybe they’d eat something other then bread and cheese for a change, this was the only thought that pushed her forward towards the building.
Leinad was a boy of small frame, with a height of 3ft 7in, and a weight of about forty pounds, it was clear he rarely ate anything, the bread and cheese the woman had given him was the first food he had had in 3 days. His parents were servants to a merchant, and they had been forced to defend him from the shades, they had died fighting them, but they fought well, at least for a couple of peasants.
He had enjoyed his ride with the woman, and his only weapon was a knife his mother handed him before hiding him inside the basement of their house, it only a small little thing, but he still had something at least... While riding with the woman, he had used the knife to shorten the length of his long unkempt hair. The hair had previously gone down last his shoulder blades, but now it only went down to his neck, while still unkempt and knotted, at least his hair only went to his neck, and wouldn't get in the way.
He had been silent for most of the ride, only giving the woman his name. He didn't yet know she was a royal, for his parents didn't talk about the royal family or politics much. However he did know that the woman was named Azalea, and he had a huge respect for the woman.
When the woman pushed the horse into a full gallop however, he looked up and what he was almost made him cry. It was an inn! He didn't notice the name of the inn, but he did notice how well lit it was... He was so glad that he would get to sleep in a bed, and glad that he wouldn't have to ration water with Azalea, after all the child was incredibly thirsty.
Aria sat, admiring the view of her conquered Kingdom from her perch on the edge of a cliff - her legs dangling off the precipice as she took another bite of her apple. "Y'know Loki,", she addressed the nervous looking black stallion behind her casually, "They never take the time to appreciate this view.", she spread her arms out, showcasing the misty mountains to her horse, who looked like he wanted to be anywhere but there. "Well, fine! If you won't appreciate the landscape with me, then I suppose Gelert will just have to get my apple core! Hehehe.", she chuckled, and as if on cue Loki let out an exasperated snort. "Pfft, don't be so huffy, you know dogs can't eat the pips.", she rolled her eyes, and folded up the tattered bit of cloth that had held her lunch not ten minutes earlier. Shoving it into the leather pouch at her side, she hopped up nimbly from her dangerous seat, pacing the few steps over to where her beautiful coal-coloured stallion stood, pawing the ground impatiently. "Alright alright, we'll be on our way before you know it.", she said to him kindly as she stroked his long mane and fed him the apple. Nickering a soft thank you, Loki trod over to a nearby pine tree and began snacking on it's tough spines.
Looking around, Aria realised she was one companion short, but with a shrill whistle that sounded like the cry of a screech owl, the undergrowth shook as her faithful friend came bounding back. "There you are!", she got onto one knee as the huge grey beast came prancing out of the dense thicket, a stick held proudly in his maw. "Aww, you big softie. C'mon, give it here.", she chuckled as Gelert, her huge Irish Wolfhound, obediently sat in front of her and lay the stick at her feet. "Good boy!", she pet his head, receiving a loving lick in return. Aria had always been incredibly fond of her animals, they were the only children she ever intended to have.
Standing, her eyebrows furrowed as she looked down and to the South, a few weak trails of smoke billowing into the sky indicating the villages that lay there. From her vantage point, she could see small towns and villages dotted along the valley floor from South to North, although not very far as the many hills and mountains of her beloved country blocked the distance from view.
Turning her back, she approached Loki again, opening the small bag in his saddle and pulling from it a deer-skinned bottle, taking a swig as her stallion looked on, a branch sticking out of his mouth. "Silly horse...", she muttered amusedly, wiping her mouth with the back of her gloved hand and putting the water filled hide back in her knapsack.
Gently pulling the branch from his mouth, she looked around the precipice on final time, she wouldn't want to forget anything. This place had provided her some much needed solace from her mission, which has been wholly unsuccessful so far. She held out hope, however. An old man in one of the Southern Trodaire towns had been raving that a Calore Royal lived, and had ridden through his village with a scrawny child - when she had enquired, his wife had informed Aria that the old fellow was struck with the lunacy of age, he could barely remember the face of his own son, how could he remember the face of a Princess?
Still, Aria would investigate. This was a tiny speck of hope, the most she had received in the previous days of her mission... She held the faint warmth of that hope close to her heart - she dearly wished that her cousins was alive... They were the only family she had left...
Shaking her head, dispelling those dark thoughts, Aria focused back on the task at hand. If the old man truly had seen one of her relatives - then her cousin must be travelling North, the Castle or blooming Resistance their goal. Aria would have to intercept them on their journey, or it would spell the end for their long journey.
After studying a map by candlelight the previous night, she had ruled out the main road (much too conspicuous), and the harsh mountains, so that only left the dense forests and lesser used tracks and roads... Aria had decided to investigate four small hamlets that day... Only one remained, and it was much further than the other three...
She heard there was a nice Inn there.
In one fluid, graceful move, Aria mounted Loki, who started to attention, flaring his nostrils in anticipation. "Gelert.", she dog stood, tail wagging as he eagerly awaited instruction. "Follow, don't stray too far.", the huge dog ruffed quietly in acknowledgement of his command, padding to stand near the alert horse and rider. "Come Loki.", she commanded, clucking her tongue and squeezing her heels gently into the horses stomach as he broke into a canter. Rider, horse and dog quickly swallowed into the shadows of the dark forest.
Annabel and her four gang members have been running for their lives ever since the shades had invaded Ezeris. ‘It’s a good thing I have a canteen and some food in my picnic basket, because I like to carry my snacks and my water with me.’ thought Annabel.
She would usually do that when she is sneaking out of her house, as there would be some poor hungry kids who got saved by the Demonic Velvet in their safe house.
They have been hiding in a few caves and a few inns on their way to the north, so they would avoid the danger. ‘I will do everything in my power to destroy those horrible monsters because they aren’t getting away with this.’ thought Annabel. Despite being angry that Annabel almost lost everything that she cares about, she didn’t show it in order for her gang members to not worry about her. Annabel’s co-leader: Daisy was worry about Annabel’s wellbeing, as she did had a feeling she was suffering the loss of her loved ones more than her. “Annabel...” said Daisy, as she hugged Annabel. “I know you are probably mad that everybody that you loved got murdered, but we are suffering from this too.”
Daisy gently patted Annabel’s head in order to calm her down, and Annabel cried when Daisy did that. “Also, someone needs to be our leader during this situation, so do me a favor and don’t give up like this,” said Daisy.
Annabel smiled at Daisy, and then wipe her tears away. “Who said I was giving up on this, and thank you for cheering me up, Daisy,” said Annabel. “We should probably head out before they find us in this cave.” “Your welcome, Annabel, and let’s move out, Demonic Velvet.” said Daisy. The other three gang members said yeah, and they packed up everything before heading out.
They got some fresh water from the river, some blueberries from the bushes, and shot some deer with their bow and arrow. Jerry would cut the meat off the deer since he used to be a hunter before deciding to live in Ezeris with his family. “Hey Annabel. How close are we to the nearest inn, because you did manage to find a map in one of the inns that we visited,” said Jerry. “The next inn isn’t too far from here, Jerry, but I hope we don’t run into some thieves, bandits, or them along the way.” said Annabel.
Nobody wanted to run into the shades, because it would be game over if that happened to them.
Princess Aurelia sat in the back of the carriage, her dear kitten Minette sitting on her lap. Her back was straight and her head was held high. She was dressed in a pretty yellow dress, with a large skirt, a pattern of flowers embroidered with sparkling golden thread. A matching golden ribbon was wound through her soft strawberry blonde locks. Her heeled shoes matched the pretty yellow color of her dress. It felt wrong. She should have been dressed in all black. The color of mourning. She should have been mourning her parents, as well as all the others who perished in the attack on her castle.
All Aurelia knew for sure now was that she was the unofficial queen of Aubigine. She had absolutely no idea what that entailed. She had no idea to how to rule or how to be good leader. At this moment, all she had with her was her dear Minette and a trunk full of clothes and jewels. She was incredibly confused. She had signed a few orders before she had been thrust into the carriage. She had no idea what she signed, and the only person she had with her now was her carriage driver. She had no idea where she was being taken.
This was actually Aurelie's first time outside the grounds of her castle. She was completely oblivious to the outside world. She had no experience in any survival training and she was completely terrified. She had been in the sandy, empty lands of her kingdom for days, and now she was in a wooden area, somewhere to the North of her. Far beyond anywhere she had traveled before. She didn't know where she was or where she was going, she just hoped that the carriage driver she was with would get her to where she needed to be quickly and without any sort of harm.
Her dear governess, Madame Becu, had packed her a few days worth of food. Fancy bread and cheese, as well as some of Aurelie's favorite sweets: macaroons and petite fours. She also had a canteen of water with her. She knew she was too old to have a governess, but Madame Becu was the closest thing she had ever had to a parent, even closer than her actual parents. She had embraced Madame Becu when she had first arrived back at the castle. She had been so relieved that she hadn't perished during the attack on her castle. She had been more worried for her than her actual parents.
The carriage pulled to a stop and a moment later the carriage door opened.
"Your Highness," said the carriage driver. Aurelie looked at him with wide eyes. "We are here."
He held out his hand and Aurelia grabbed it, and she stepped out of the carriage. She clutched Minette close to her and read the sign on the building. The Pinefrost Inn. With a nod of encouragement from the carriage driver, Aurelia walked in. She was obviously scared and out of place, obviously shaking and not knowing what it was that she was supposed to do.
"Still nothing, we've been travelling for days on end and we can't even find living people willing to help us!" Cale shouted in frustration he honestly had no idea if the North was even a safe bet anymore. Him and Angelo had gone through many towns yet all of them held nothing but death. This journey started out with him holding some hope but the constant signs of everything being worse just lowered Cales enthusiasm. And made him wonder if anyone was left outside of him and Angelo. "And alongside that I got the bombshell I'm royalty but, Angelo what in the Five am I supposed to do!?" Cale shouted as he kicked a piece of rubble out of rubble, he wondered why he was like this now. Before the attack he may have been calm and thought this through. Well maybe he'd still meltdown with the revelation he is a prince. To be exact an Illegitimate prince if not for the actual one being dead. But even then he had to trust Angelo. Angelo had all the experience in the world, yet Cale had only some target practice with a Crossbow and making new inventions. And even then he trained with a Crossbow for sporting reasons. "Just tell me you have some sort of plan Angelo, because my plan is dropping faster then a rock in water. I doubt there even is a North left for us!"
Along the dirt road and over the rolling hills of the Northern kingdom, a golden palomino trotted along with her two riders in saddle. The armored one remained quiet, just keeping her attentive eyes on the road ahead. The smaller, scrawny one however, kept talking and mumbling, addressing “Angelo”.
From what she remembered of this place- She had only been to the Northern kingdom a few times- the place was gorgeous all on its own. Tall evergreens stretched over much of it, and it was most certainly a different sight to the Southern kingdom, which Angie had spent much time in, and had found it to be nothing but a gigantic bog full of snakes. Of all the places to wear metal armor, is the place where it is constantly raining. Euch.
That was where she met her current... “companion”. Cale was a scrawny man, maybe a couple inches taller than Angie herself, and- if she believed what this guy’s mother had said about him- the next heir to the Southern Kingdom’s throne. Which is honestly hard to believe. This scrap of a man is the son of the king, who had an illicit affair with one of his maids, and she was then paid quite heftily to remain silent about it? Ooookay. Well, she thought, it’s certainly not unheard of, especially for someone such as me, but come ON.
She sighed when he addressed her by her fake name again, Angelo, and asked her if she’s had a plan. Of course I have a plan, I always have a plan. And then backup plans, and backup plans for those backup plans.
“... I suggest you stop making so much noise, it’ll attract attention... and quit squirming. You’ll give Trillium a backache.”
"As the instructors I expect you guys to really drive home the importance of our Shade specific counter measures. I know it's odd fighting with a torch in one hand and blade in the other or using a flaming like that can potentially singe our hands if we don't drop them in time or some of this other stuff that is literally playing with fire. We've gotten nowhere with the gunpowder but I have guy working on how we can make use of oil and alcohol since those really catch on fire. At the very least archers should be used to firing flaming arrows. Now get down there and make it happen, you taught the Wayland Compandy didn't you?" Sid explained to two surviving mercs from the Wayland Company who now have the fun job of training recruits to the ragtag Rebellion.
Other Wayland Company vets were busy trying to fix up the rundown, abandoned, and forgotten military encampment the Rebellion calls home. They had a scout hopefully still alive who is supposed to find a fortress for the Rebelion to move into but for now this is what they had. For their currently small numbers it's accommodating, but if the Rebellion were to become a full size army they would need a fortress. Sid walked through the Encampment inspecting it with his eyes as he headed for the creative mind in charge of figuring out counter measures for the Shades. He could smell the fire already which means the intellectual was hard at work. Neville was his name and he was a traveler from the Southern Kingdom who was lucky to be up North when this all started.
Isidro turn the corner to see Neville dipping a sword into a barrel of oil, like the kind you'd sock the cloth on torches in. He withdrew the blade and let the excess oil drip back into the barrel. He was seemingly have trouble keeping a good amount of oil on the blade. Too little oil and blade stopped flaming soon after being lit. Too much and you risked setting yourself on fire. Sid had no doubt Neville would figure it out, which is why Sid watched from afar rather than interrupt him and pause his progress.
Its been a long travel ever since he left the village he 'belonged', escaping from the shades was half his trouble neither was running out of food or water - he had enough with what little he could hunt down in the forest even if that would change eventually and become the prey. The soil underneath his feet was perfect to follow tracks and he was sure that won't be the way the shades would find him, if any such thing happens. He was, however, afraid of the thought of it; he had faced them before, but it was only a one-time battle if you can even call it that.
He lay low next to a big root of a larger-seize tree which small insects seem to have long abandon it, even they knew to ran away. Harringoth however rested next to it as it cleaned the silver bolt of his crossbow, his light sight watching his reflection. He grinned slightly as he remembered how he got that scar of his, after that he checked out his teethes hoping there was nothing stuck within them, or hoping there was only to savor whatever was left of his previous meal. He sighed only to feel a fresh wound close to his shoulder, just a scratch that happened while he ran away, adjusting his position as he took the ammo of his weapon back to the group.
His dark-brown hood that went down to cover his shoulders that hide under his armor did not reveal his age or his lack of hair right away, it also allowed him to mimic the mud's color. As his new occupation as a unfortunate low-life bandit, awaiting for even more unfortunate peasants was the only thing he had left to do. That is why he choose to stay near the roads- until he heard something new, many noises in fact. He kept constant surveillance ever since he spotted the inn; he never expected someone to arrive only for that reason, as if anyone would actually believe the Inn is still working as if nothing was happening. Horses, caravans, even some footsteps; too many people - it will draw their attention.
But something wasn't quiet right, they do not look refugees, or holy knights of the South. 'What were they doing? What was this all about?'. Harringoth had to move and stay hidden at all cost, but also had to know the meaning of this... perhaps something could be gained from their situation, perhaps not... or maybe they needed a mercenary.
They arrived at the Pinefrost Inn without dealing with the thieves, bandits, or the shades along the way. “Finally an inn and my legs are killing me from all of that walking,” said Thomas. “Enjoy the break, Thomas, because we will leave tomorrow,” said Annabel, as she pulled her hood down.
Thomas and his friend: Sam hates all of the walking, since they aren’t used to doing that like Annabel, Daisy, and Jerry are. “Get used to all of the walking, you two, because we can’t stay in one spot for too long,” said Jerry. “Also, we are getting some good exercise by doing this too,” said Daisy.
Sam was looking at Aurelia’s carriage, as he wanted to steal it in order for his gang to have an easier time traveling. “Hey boss. Want me to steal that carriage?” said Sam.
Annabel looked at Sam with a frown on her face. "No. We will not steal that, because I don’t want to deal with any more problems than we already have,” said Annabel. “If you say so,” said Sam, as he walked into the inn.
Annabel and the rest of her gang walked in the inn, and everybody besides Annabel and Daisy was sitting on a chair. “So who do you want to pick to be the guard for the night? We got Sam to be the guard in the cave, so it is either me, Jerry, or Thomas now,” said Daisy. “Um...how about you, Daisy,” said Annabel. “Ok, and let's go relax with the others now,” said Daisy.
Daisy went to go sit on a chair while Annabel was paying the inn for their rooms. ‘Thank god I was a castle maid, because I wouldn’t be able to pay all of the inns we visited if I wasn’t.’ thought Annabel.
Azalea dismounted from her horse as they reached the rather rundown building, offering to help Lienad down from Wind-Cleaver the moment her boots touched the grassy floor. She unzipped her leather satchel, opening her pouch of gold coins and taking out ten. She dropped all ten of them into Lienad’s small bony hands as she did so. “Alright wee chit, this should buy us a meal and a room for the night, inquire about a bath as well, I’ll tie Wind-Cleaver up and meet you inside.” Her voice was full of authority, at the point of being weary, tired, and overall glum from the journey. Before even checking to see if he did as she said, she took the rope from the saddle of the horse, and began to tie up Wind-Cleaver.
As she harnessed and roped Wind-Cleaver to the wooden post just a few feet away from the stairs that led up to the door of the inn, when large footfalls and a group caught the corner of her eye. Keeping her back to them, she angled her head to the side, watching the group approach and pass led by a woman with light blonde hair, at the same time a large, luxurious carriage came through a small path in the trees before coming to a stop just ten feet away from her. Azalea arched a thin red eyebrow, she finished tying Wind-Cleaver up with a final hard yank before turning her body fully to face the carriage, her arms crossed across her chest in an amused fashion.
“What a great invitation to get robbed,” Azalea muttered sarcastically under her breath, a hint of annoyance in her tone. A member of the blonde girls group even inquired about stealing the carriage as they brushed past her, but she denied them with a grimace, declaring she didn’t need anymore problems.
Neither did she to be honest, Azalea was in the middle of turning around, no longer interested in the carriage but thinking more of a warm bed at this point, she had just stepped on one of the stairs leading up to the inn door before she heard the carriage driver address someone as “Your Highness”
Azalea whipped around in a flash, her yellow-green eyes narrowed at the woman helped out of the carriage, her big, lavish yellow dress indicating she was most likely from the West. And she looked terrified. Azalea was in the midst of contemplating what this meant as the girl, rather pretty in fact, despite fear masking her every feature, even shaking, as she passed her and entered the inn. Azalea took another ten seconds for who she could possibly be, before Azalea nearly barreled in after her.
Her bright eyes narrowed at the woman in the yellow dress as Azalea sauntered up to her, which didn’t take long considering both had just entered the inn before stopping only a few feet away, folding her arms across her chest.
“Who the devil are you?” Azalea asked bluntly, her tone icy. Because there was hardly a chance another royal escaped. Everyone was dead. Upon closer inspection, she was suddenly feeling self conscious of her own dirty apperance, and most especially, the five scars that ran along her cheek still caked in dry blood. She prayed her shirt covered up her neck, bruised all the way around, and was thankful her long sleeves covered her bruised wrists.
Trotting along the barely worn track in the woods, Aria was on high alert. Loki treaded softly on the hard ground, and Gelert ran in front, ears up as he listened for danger, sniffing the air for the scent of it. Loki slowed to a quick walk, Aria barely had to use the reigns she was so in tune with him - she had raised him from birth, after all. Loki's father had been her Father's horse... Loki had always served her well, faithful companion and friend, just as Gelert was.
Gelert stopped abruptly, Loki freezing a millisecond later, both her and the horse watching the dog, staring down at the beast as his head moved from side to side, ears up and tail stiff. "Voices?", she questioned the mutt, receiving a huff and quiet whine in response, as he turned on his heel and sniffed the air, looking at Aria for further instructions, muscles taught. "At ease.", the dog relaxed, and Aria sat silently, just about able to hear the sounds of civilisation in the distance, through the trees. It was still a ways off, but Aria was cautious... She intended to do a perimeter check before approaching the small village, which was the one she intended to investigate. On her way, she had enquired at a roadside shop, offering a small amount of silver for information if they had it... It seemed there were a few interesting characters at this hamlet - the shopkeep had even whispered of a carriage... Something that had truly spiked her curiosity, and her alarm.
Slowly circling the perimeter of the hamlet - it was barely a village save for the roadside Inn - with each circle getting closer as she inspected the goings on of the clearing from the safety of the trees. She saw the carriage in question, the designs and patterns hinting that it was from Aubigine... Certainly a long way to come, unless of course it was stolen.
Her eyes studying more around the Inn, Aria happened to look through the open top half of one of the stable doors, and the horse she saw within made her heart stop.
Was that... Wind-Cleaver...? Her eyes were moons as she stared at the familiar horse, disbelieving. Had the demented old guy been right, then? Was one of her cousins here?? It took great self-discipline for her to stay where she was, and not sprint right into that Inn calling for her family... She didn't of course, that would hardly be safe. Not that she thought any Shades were around... This area was so sparsely populated... But still, better safe than sorry.
Once she had finished her perimeter checks, Aria went a distance away before Loki jumped down an embankment, and she was on the road. Loki walking along calmly, Gelert padding beside her, she entered the town finally.
Approaching the Inn, she put Loki in the stable next to Wind-Cleaver, a closer inspection of the horse made her even more hopeful, she was sure it was him.
Rounding the building, Gelert in tow, she climbed the stone steps of the Inn.
Pushing the door open with a creak, Aria was greeted with a gust of warm air, a pleasant contrast to the damp cold of outside. Entering, she stomped the mud off her boots on the mat there, eyes scanning the scene before her - if one were to look deep into her eyes they would see the feverish desperation hidden there. Family. She searched for any sign of a member of her family. Her gaze was unconsciously drawn, however, to someone very out of place. A yellow dress? This woman couldn't be serious, and with such short sleeves... This woman must have been the owner of the carriage. Aria didn't get a good look at her face before her eyes moved on, but it was plainly obvious that the foreign girl was scared out of her mind... Heh, she was going to be eaten alive.
Aria would have to have a little chat with this foreign rabbit... But first...
Her eyes drifted over slightly, and spotted dark red hair, a woman standing right next to the yellow rabbit. Hair similar in colour to her own... But of course that was no indication, and neither was-... It was long and wavy like hers too... L-lea...? She stood there, staring, until a few seconds later the redhead turned, her face now visible to Aria. "Lea?", her voice was a horse whisper, choked with emotion. "Lea!", Aria's face lit up as she strode over to her cousin, Gelert following faithfully. "By Merlin's beard, it is you!", a lone tear escaped as she stood there, utterly relieved, elated, and heartbroken at the same time. "Oh God...", she breathed, "When I was following that tip I... God Lea, I'm so glad I found you...", she took a deep breath, composing herself. "Who is this...?", she looked the yellow dressed rabbit up and down, one eyebrow raised amusedly, before finally getting a good look at the woman's face - the colour drained from Aria's. "Lady Aurelie..? What are you-??", she was confused. Very confused. "Lea, did you pick her up along the way..?", she asked her cousin, shocked that she had just found two Royals in one place. What a ridiculous coincidence.
Leinad graciously accepted the money, not seeing to disobey the woman for a multitude of reasons. The first one being that the woman saved his life, he was also afraid of her getting angry and leaving him on the streets, and the tone of her voice pretty much commanded compliance. When he approached the counter, his chin was barely above the ledge, and he had to reach up to give the woman the money, he told her he needed two meals, a room for two people, and two baths.
The woman then took the money, giving the boy two copper pieces for his change. She offered him some cocoa for the rest of the change, but despite the fact that he wanted it, he looked at the woman and said "No thank you... It's not my money..." The woman smiled slightly despite the fact that he denied her offer, and have him a key to the bathhouse, and a key to their room, on it said 204 their room number.
Leinad walked back to Azalea, offering her the two copper pieces that belonged to her, along with the key to the room, and the key to the bathhouse. He then stood by her right side, resting his head on her hip, as he watched her talk with the woman.
Aurelie knew that she stuck out like a sore thumb. Her carriage driver told her that he would take care of any arrangements and that it would be a good idea for her to stretch her legs. It had been quite some time that she was sitting down. Aurelie nodded and awkwardly walked in attempt to stretch her legs. She still kept Minette close to her, not wanting her to run off.
Aurelie gasped as a red-haired woman stepped in front of her. She was obviously rich. And, by the looks of it, this woman was obviously not. Aurelie noticed that she was wearing pants. If she was being honest, she had never seen a woman wearing pants before. In the court of Aubigine, women wore dresses and men wore pants. She knew of no other world outside of her castle walls. She did not know what life was like outside of the little bubble of a world that her parents had created for her. She didn't know how others lived.
"Aurelie," she said her voice shaking. She quickly gathered her skirts and tried to walk around the woman, eager to leave this conversation as possible. Unfortunately for her, another woman whom she did not know entered the conversation. She had no idea how this woman knew her name, but she had no care to find out. She wanted to run away a quickly as possible. She simply gave the other woman a scared smile. She bowed her head slightly, trying to be polite. "Madame."
She wanted to run to her carriage driver and tell him to carry on. She was terrified and she wanted to get out of here as quick as possible. She didn't know anything about what was going on.
While Annabel was counting her money on the table after paying for the rooms in the inn, and her gang was looking at the map for a safe route to the north. They heard what the other girls were talking about. “WHAT!” said all of them, surprised.
They weren't expecting the girl in the yellow dress to be a noble, as they thought she stole all of that stuff. “Everybody, code: greedy noble go!” said Annabel. They got all of their stuff and left to go to their rooms because they all didn’t like how the rich and the royal family treated them. Sam was the last one to go to his room, but he turned around to say something towards them. “Fuck you, nobles. You and the royal family didn’t help Ezeris out with its problem, and left it there to rot,” said Sam. “I would have ripped your awful yellow dress too if my boss wasn’t here.” Sam then enters his room with an angry look on his face.
Annabel kinda opened the door of her room after that happened because she doesn’t know what to do in front of some nobles. “Um...I want to apologize about Sam. His mom and his sister got kidnapped while his father was murdered by the criminals. He barely made it to us when he needed our help since Sam was trying his best to run away from them,” said Annabel. @Ms. Sparrow@TeslaRolePlays@FrostFire
Azalea ignored the woman’s startled reaction and waited for an answer, still, heat flooded her cheeks, she was sure she didn’t look at all royal, and more likely that she was about to rob the woman instead. Her new scars did little to add to her apperance.
When the woman did answer, it was Azalea’s turn for her own shocked reaction, her jaw dropped. It seemed another royal had seemed to live. Aurelie, princess of Aubinge. It was honestly a miracle she’d made it to this inn, considering her grand carriage most certainly put a target on her back. Azalea closed her jaw, pressing her lips in a thin line in both irritation at how shakey she was and how much of a fool she was for wearing lavish dresses and prancing around like royalty. When all they needed was to not draw attention.
She looked down as Leinad approached and returned to her two coppers, guessing at the small amount of change she had leftover, they had gotten baths. She smiled at him, ruffling his hair a bit before she placed her hand on his shoulder in both a comforting and protective manner as he leaned his head against her hip, this movement revealing a bruised wrist all the way around as her long white sleeves stretched at the movement.
She was about to demand from Aurelie what she was doing here and what she was thinking of using a carriage when a familiar-an impossibly familiar voice called her out by her nickname- a nickname only her family called her. Azalea turned, her bright eyes wide as they caught a glimpse of red ginger hair and a pale freckled complexion before Aria’s face came into view.
It took everything in Azalea to keep from collapsing to her knees, chocking back a cry of relief and shock. Her eyes were wide as Aria approached, taking in her features, her apperance, checking her health. It was hard to believe her cousin stood in front of her, and she, another royal had yet lived the attack. She pushed down a pang of guilt as she watched a lone tear roll from Aria’s face, wondering what horrors she had endured, Azalea’s lips were pressed so thinly together they were white, for Azalea crying was a rare sight, and it took everything in her to make sure she didn’t.
As her cousin regained her composure so did she, struggling to find the proper words for such a reunion. A magnificent grin lit up Azalea’s face, a bright spark in her yellow-green eyes as she said,
“Aye, why am I not suprised to see you’re still kicking?” Her amused grin grew, “Corking to see you too, myy-yy-y la-aa-dee-y,” she dragged out the title, in a playful mockery in an impersonation of a pompous gentlemen, making a dramatic bow as she did so before she straightened, still grinning from ear to ear as she put her hand back on Leinhads shoulder while her other hand rested comfortably on her hip in a more relaxed position, her smug grin hurt her still recovering scars, and she realized she hadn’t smiled - truly smiled in over a month.
She let Aria turn her attention the Aurelia, a smirk still quirking her lips as Aria’s face drained of all its color, making her freckles contrast against her skin even more. Her amusement grew as her cousin turned to her for answers. Azalea shook her head, “Oh no, if I did I may as well just made a sign and hung it on our backs that said; ‘Shades we’re right here!’, but thankfully the carriage does the job just fine.“ she said in a false cheery manner. It was never like Azalea to be very sensitive, despite the fact that Aurelia looked like she might faint from pure terror.
Inspecting her, Azalea gave in a little and gave a curtsy, and a beautiful one at that, her thin strain of balance impeccable, her nose nearly touching the wooden floor before she rose. This wasn’t surprising, as Azalea had always taken a fancy to dancing, just as the rest of her siblings had, and was surely the best at it. When she straightened she grinned the slightest as she introduced herself, Azalea Windfore, Princess of Calore if you will. Though you can just call me Azalea, and as peachy as this all is this wee chit,” she said, gesturing to Leinad with the hand that wasn’t resting on his shoulder, “needs an actual meal and bed, so if we could-“
Azalea was cut off as a man, whom she recognized from being apart of the blonde girls group, which was odd if she thought of the young blonde being the leader truthfully, started to scream at them, rage in his eyes, hate-filled. His words didn’t fall unto deaf ears. He was from Ezeris. Oddly enough she never met anyone in the palace from there, and when she asked her father why he declared a country was only as good as its rulers. She knew it was a poor, and crime riddiled Kingdom, but it was all she knew of it truly. Her history lessons and studies of the kingdoms seemed to leave a great deal of Ezeris out of it. She had no doubt the man would kill them if he could. While generally she would’ve had her own fit of anger and raised her own argument, what was held in his eyes made her consider his words.
The inn was completely silent, stunned at the outburst of the man, who’d disappeared into his room, before the blonde woman, the boss, poked her head out and apologized for him. She shrugged and a smirk quirked her lips, one that held a bit of sympathy even as she said, “Aye no worries, I wanted to rip the yellow dress too,” Azalea joked with a grin, jesting poor Aurelia, a woman she barely knew, once again.
She had a knack to make a situation ten-times worse or ten times-better. Usually the latter.
“Still though, the noble girl in the yellow dress really shouldn’t be wearing that nor riding in a carriage. It does bring too much attention, and she can be a target for the criminals especially in Ezeris,” said Annabel.
Annabel wanted to go meet them, but she was timid to go face them. ‘Oh god. Oh god. Oh god. I am talking to real nobles here, and Sam had to be angry at them for his painful past.’ thought Annabel, who was a bit unsure.
She looked at the girl, who wanted to rip the poor girl’s yellow dress with a smile, because Annabel thought she might be a cool person. “Um...do you want to know why I have a gang, or do you want to know why we are here?” said Annabel. “This is my first time meeting someone from a different kingdom, is not wearing a different kingdom armor to go deal with the criminals, and is a real noble.”
Daisy opened the door of her room and drag Annabel out to make her go talk to them. “Oh my gosh, Annabel. Can you stop being so timid towards them, and go talk to them properly,” said Daisy. “But I don’t know them very well, and they might try to trick me into being friendly towards them,” said Annabel. “Seriously? You are Demonic Velvet’s boss, and you are being timid towards them because they are strangers? Stop acting like that, and just do it.” said Daisy. “You are also doing the “do you want to know” conversations towards them too, so you have no excuse to be timid.”
Annabel sighed in defeat, as Daisy automatically wins in this argument. “You are right, Daisy,” said Annabel. She was looking at the ground because how uncomfortable she was near them. “Can I go back to my room?” said Annabel. “No Annabel, and you need to get to know other people besides being with us,” said Daisy. “Fine,” said Annabel, who was pouting. @Ms. Sparrow@TeslaRolePlays@FrostFire
As he watched the woman converse with the others, one might of thought he was bored. On the contrary, however he was far from it. He thoroughly enjoyed the laughter, it was the first he had heard since the shades attacked. He stifled his own laugh, and simply continued to watch everyone while they conversed. He rested his head on the woman's hip for most of the conversation, until the woman mentioned him. He quickly his his face in her back, peeking out a tiny bit to watch the others. He was, to say the least,embarrassed, and surprised that she had suddenly mentioned him. So he just watched everyone from behind her, barely peeking out from her right side with a yawn.
(Pardon length, it is hard to post without dialogue, and I don't want him talking much yet, except maybe here and there to Azalea)
Aria was so glad to see her cousin, and the lighthearted banter that she remembered was like a weight had been lifted from Aria's shoulders, her face just as lit up as Azalea's. She chuckled heartily at the banter, "Hah! But of course, my warrior training was hardly all for nought.", she patted her cousins shoulder playfully, but gently (she had noticed the bruises but felt it wise to hold her tongue). "At your service, honourable si~iir.", her tone was just as jesting as her cousin's.
After their little joking session, she turned her attention onto Aurelie, who looked like she was about to have a heart attack. "Very true. That carriage is the brightest beacon I've seen... It's a wonder this little rabbit even made it this far.", she chuckled, poking more fun at the naive Princess... But there was a dark and serious truth behind her words.
She paused her train of thought as Azalea introduced herself, something Aria was cautious to do herself... Not that her citizens wouldn't recognise her, this was her Kingdom after all, but she certainly didn't intend to shout her status aloud in a place like this. "Nevertheless-", she was cut off by the gang member screaming at Aurelie, the poor frail girl must've been at her wits end by now. Sure, a bit of testing and poking fun was fine in Aria's book, but screaming abuse like this? "Hey! That's-", she began indignantly, before he disappeared into his room. Aria huffed, blowing a stray curl from her face, as the brown haired female, presumably the 'Boss' awkwardly apologised for her underling. After she explained his backstory, Aria could sympathise with his reaction... Still, that was no way to speak to a stranger, even if their parents had singlehandedly destroyed their Kingdom.
She turned to Aurelie, "She speaks the truth, Lady Aurelie. You will need to change into something less conspicuous.", her brows were furrowed as she directed the terrified Princess kindly but firmly.
Now that she had found these two Royals, it was her duty to deliver them to the resistance. Azalea; Aria knew her cousin could mostly look after herself, of course she would offer help... But Princess Aurelie? Aria could already tell she would have to babysit this Princess. She had obviously barely set foot from her home before, and Aria saw it as her duty to protect her. "Lady Aurelie, I will be looking after you from now. There is no need to be afraid, we intend to help.", she spoke seriously, calmly, and bowed slightly towards Aurelie, before focusing again on the gang leader, Annabel... Huh, that was a coincidence...
Aria dismissed the forming thoughts as she watched the little back and forth, one eyebrow raised in amusement. "Miss Annabel, Azalea's bark is certainly worse than her bite", she smirked playfully at her cousin before continuing more seriously. "I'd imagine you are here seeking asylum...", she trailed off, squinting at Annabel, an ever so slightly bewildered expression crossing her features. "My apologies, but Miss Annabel...", her brows furrowed, "You remind me of-", she didn't finish her sentence as she shook her head. "Nevermind that,", she moved on quickly. "Please, express your intentions in Trodaire. Regale what you wish.", she stated, gesturing towards her.
At one man yelling at her about her dress, Aurelie shrunk away even more. She wasn't cut out for this. She had no idea what was going on. She didn't know how to take Azalea's teasing, either. This woman looked like she had been through some rough times, and Aurelie felt sorry for her. But she really didn't know what she should do about it.
Aurelie was confused. This woman seemed nice enough, but she didn't know if she could trust her. She knew her dress made her look like a royal, but she little time to change before she left. Her clothes were so complex. She just hoped that Madame Becu would have packed at least one of her muslin chemises. They were far less conspicuous. Besides, they were far more comfortable than some of her other dresses. Still, all Aurelie wanted to do was run away and hide. She didn't know what there was for her to do. She was surrounded by strangers.
Even with the kind words from Aria, Aurelie wasn't convinced. But she supposed that she had little option in the matter. She had no idea where she was or what she could do. She was surprised that she hadn't collapsed at this point. Or at least, run away. She couldn't do this.
"If you'll excuse me," said Aurelie. She gathered up her skirts and went to her carriage driver. He had gotten her a key to her own room and taken her trunk up. She went to take the key and wanted to run up the stairs and hide. She wanted to get away as quickly as possible. She had absolutely no idea what was going on. All she wanted was to run and hide.
“Well, we are in Trodaire in order to find the rebellion. Ezeris got destroyed by those Shades, and I don’t want to risk losing the rest of my gang,” said Annabel. “I also want revenge against the Shades too, because I hate them.” “They almost kill us, but we outsmarted them by hiding in a hidden room in our base,” said Daisy. “Like seriously, they are terrifying and impossible to beat with just a sword and a bow and arrow.”
Annabel looked at Daisy when she said that. “So that is how you guys survived,” said Annabel. She didn’t know how they survived that since Annabel was more concern about their safety. “Oh. You should tell them that you used to work as a castle maid, Annabel,” said Daisy. “I don’t know, Daisy,” said Annabel. “Oh come on. The king and the queen are dead, and you heard a lot of rumors about them from the other maids,” said Daisy. “Also, it gives me a good reason to make fun of them, as they sucked at being a king and queen.” “Um...when you put it like that then I should probably tell them,” said Annabel.
Annabel took a deep breath before starting the Ezeris royals’ rumors. “The queen is greedy, the king is a hopeless jerk who listens to the queen, and the prince loves to flirt with a bunch of girls at the parties. One of the maids even saw him going on a date with some girl,” said Annabel. “That is most of the important rumors about them, and the castle is ridiculously beautiful on the inside.” “...Yep. I am so calling them butt and fart for that. They really shouldn’t be a king and a queen if those rumors about them are true.” said Daisy.
When Aria said You remind me of, that confused Annabel. “You remind me of what?” said Annabel. “Wait. Was she talking about that rumor, because I don’t believe them,” said Daisy. “I don’t believe them either. Ezeris has no royals now, and yet, they think I am one. I don’t even look like them, to begin with.” said Annabel. @Ms. Sparrow@TeslaRolePlays@FrostFire
It felt good to laugh. It sounded hollow at first, rusty even. It’d been months since she actually laughed. It used to be for the sake of her siblings, but even near the end...well, she supposed there was no use thinking on it now.
Azalea grinned down at Leinad as she shyly hid behind her when she mentioned him before she turned her attention back to the gang leader, who’s name was seemingly Annabel, an exquisite name for running a gang. She arched an eyebrow as one of Annabel’s comrades convinced her to speak to them, and she wondered if they truly thought all royals were snobs. She seemed to pout as she was pushed to speak to them, and a smirk quirked Azalea’s lips in amusement. Behind her she heard her cousin swear to Aurelie that they would she would protect her and that they intended to help. Azalea resisted the urge to roll her eyes at this, her cousin had the patience she never managed to maintain.
A smirk was still slightly quirking her lips until her cousin chided her playfully, claiming she talked more than she bit, Azalea scowled, crinkling her nose, but a smirk was still evident on her face. It’d been to long since she faced a worthy opponent when it came to snarky remarks. As her cousin began to pause in her speech, she couldn’t help but turn around and arch an eyebrow at her, who seemed very concentrated on Annabel all of a sudden, inspecting every feature.
Confused, Azalea turned around to see what was so special about this Annabel just as Aurelie pushpast her, looking like she might get stabbed at any given moment. Azalea groaned outloud as Aurelie quickly brushed past Aria. “Oh, honestly, Aurelie if we were gonna hurt you we wouldn’t have taken this bloody long!” Azalea shouted wearily after her, bending down and ripping off one of her boots with some effort before she raised her arm to throw the boot after Aurelie, ignoring the conversation between Annabel and Aria, too wrapped up in her weariness and irritation of Aurelie’s fright and her exhaustion of the road wearing down her, her lips were pressed thinly in anger as she raised her arm back, ready to sling the boot across the room at Aurelie.
Aria nodded thoughtfully as Annabel stated their intentions to find the Rebellion. "Now that, I can help with... But not now.", she looked around wary of prying eyes. "A topic for the morning.", she breathed quietly. It wouldn't do to speak boldly in such a place as this, despite the fact that she had definitely made sure there were no Shades... Spies were always a possibility.
Aria listened, amused, as gossip was shared. It wasn't something she was that interested in - and honestly, despite their poor leadership, she didn't think it proper to desecrate their memory. "Well, I have met them, on a few occasions.", she muttered, amused despite her opinion. "And had many a lesson on the... Shall we say, 'inner workings' of every Kingdom.", she lilted mysteriously, neither confirming nor denying the rumours, nor did she say exactly how she had met them - she hadn't revealed her identity yet, after all. "... I suppose you have never actually... Seen them? The King and Queen of Ezeris.", she cocked her head, a funny expression on her face. This girl... Well, it was remarkable how similar she looked to the King and Queen... But that must have been a coincidence...
Or maybe not. "Regardless, that is a topic for another time.", she dismissed the subject, Annabel would be coming with her to the Rebellion anyway, she would enquire once they were in the fragile security of allies.
She was distracted by Azalea taking off her boot, and it took Aria a second to realise exactly what was about to transpire. Quick as anything, her arm shot out and grabbed Azalea's, gently holding it in place and preventing her from throwing her boot at the fleeing Princess. "Wow wow wow. Lea, that's a bad idea, trust me.", she spoke calmly, reassuring. "Put your boot back on, and how about you go and have a meal and a bath. I think you deserve a little pampering, eh?", her voice was soft, eyes kind, as she laid her other hand on Azalea's shoulder. "A tough few days on the road, you'll sleep like a baby tonight.", she patted Azalea's shoulder before letting go. "And we have another tomorrow. Best to relax now...", she smiled softly, turning back to Annabel. "The same goes for your group. Rest up. We'll be leaving early, two hours after dawn at the latest.", her tone was militant, but fair. In that moment, she sounded exactly like her Father, the Warrior King.
Annabel got interested when Aria mentioned that she can help her with that. “Alright, and I wouldn’t mind talking about that in the morning,” said Annabel. She didn’t want to risk the rebellion being in danger by the Shades, as they would do everything in their power to kill them. ‘The Shades would try to send their spies for that important information, but I won’t let them.’ thought Annabel. ‘After all, the rebellion is our only defense against them.’
When Aria said that she met Ezeris’s royal family, she got curious about that. “I wouldn’t be surprised if a noble like you have met them since you do seem to know the yellow noble girl and that other noble girl already,” said Annabel. She was intrigued by that, as Annabel wasn’t allowed to meet them due to her duty as a castle maid. “We castle maids aren’t allowed to meet the royal family, but I did saw the prince walking down the hallway a few times,” said Annabel. “Prince Damon looked so mysterious even if there were rumors about him flirting with a bunch of girls at the parties, and probably going on a date with some girl.”
Annabel actually secretly liked Damon, but she didn’t want to say it to his face, because she wasn’t a noble nor a royal.
She then nodded a yes to Aria, because she wouldn’t mind talking about what the King and Queen of Ezeris were really like another time. “We always leave the inn early anyway, so the Shades wouldn’t find us. Hell, we had to sleep in a few caves, because there weren’t any inns nearby,” said Annabel. “They made us walk to a bunch of caves and inns, because we can’t have a horse in Ezeris,” said Thomas. “Horses are a major target in Ezeris, as the criminals want to sell the horse parts to the black market by killing them or stealing them for their own use,” said Daisy. “Also, all of this walking is a good exercise for our two lazy gang members: Sam and Thomas.” “We hate it, Daisy,” said Sam and Thomas. “Deal with it,” said Jerry. @Ms. Sparrow@TeslaRolePlays@FrostFire