Forsaken Allegiance

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Postby Kasandra » Fri Aug 05, 2005 5:51 pm

Kasandra was the first one that was awake because of the sun shining directly down upon her. She groaned and turned over to her side, trying to escape the brightness. She sighed and decided to sit up and look around at her surroundings. The fire was out, only a little bit of smoke still remained from the ashes. Elias was sleeping still, with one hand covering his sword. Kasandra chuckled, he must not really trust Nicholas at all but so far everything seemed to be going smoothly. She stood up quietly, not wanting to awake anyone. Kasandra silently started walking away from the camp, leaving her armor behind but bringing a pocket knife with her instead of her sword. She knew her belongings would be safe with Elias for the brief time she was away. She started walking slowly through the woods, going no where in particular but along the way she placed some twigs and rocks in an organized fashion to remember which way she went so she can get back without getting lost. She heard some water nearby, and started walking towards it. A large river came into view, with a moderate current. Satisfied, Kasandra took a brief look around and found she was alone. She began to undress herself and left her clothes at the side of the riverbank. She began to emerge herself in the cold water, and then she jumped in, shocking her nerves at the refreshingly icy water. She played around in the water a while, swimming and trying to scrub all the dirt and grime off her body and hair that had accumulated along the journey. She looked up at the sky and realized that quite a bit of time must have passed. She quickly got out of the water and dressed herself again. She made a quick pace back along the trail; coming back to find Elias and Nicholas awake and looking around the camp confused. She sheepishly walked up to the men, having Elias turn around with a surprised look on his face.

”There you are! We were worried about what happened to you. When we woke up and your sword and armor was here but you weren’t, we were concerned that something happened to you..” Elias said concernedly, looking over Kasandra carefully. She was still soaking wet with her hair all messed up. But to him, she still looked good even first thing in the morning.
”I appreciate your concern, but don’t worry. I just went for a quick dip in the river just east of here. Just needed to freshen up.” she said with a sly smile. ”Why don’t you guys go in for a quick swim? The current isn’t that strong and it’s nice and refreshing.” she said, trying to stall before going back on the road under the hot sun again.
”Alright, I could go for a quick dip but we have to leave right after. If we travel all day today, we should arrive at Kastrel tomorrow night.” Elias agreed, gathering all of Kasandra’s armor and sword. She took it and just decided to carry it with her; she didn’t feel like putting it on yet. She took the lead and walked back to the river again. They arrived there within minutes, and they stopped at the side of the river.
”I’ll stay out on land and guard our stuff; I don’t need to go in again.” Kasandra offered and Elias nodded and gave her his sword. He quickly undressed to his black undergarments and threw his clothes at Kasandra, landing on her face. ”Hey! she playfully yelled, putting them off to the side as he walked into the water. She couldn’t help but stare at him; he was well built with a chiseled stomach. Usually his baggy clothes covered his physique so she never got a good look of him before. Elias looked over his shoulder at her, and she quickly looked over at Nicholas who stood awkwardly at the side of the river.
”Aren’t you going to go in?” she asked, wondering what Nicholas was doing.
”I… I can’t swim..” Nicholas stuttered, looking down at his feet. Kasandra looked at Elias and raised her eyebrows. She never thought of that, he seemed old enough to know how to. She looked over at Elias and signaled her head over towards Nicholas’ direction. He looked at her confused, wondering what she was doing. She walked up to him and whispered in his ear ”Do you want to teach him how to swim? he looked up with a stunned look on his face. “What?!” he whispered back. Kasandra looked into his eyes, and gave stuck out her lower lip in a pouty face. He grumbled, and muttered to himself. He hesitantly swam over to where Nicholas was standing. Kasandra sat down on the ground, watching the men in the water.
”If you want to know how, I can show you.” he said unenthusiastically, trying to cover his annoyance. Kasandra flashed a large smile at him, as he mouthed the words back at her you owe me She hoped by Elias doing this that the tension between them would subside and they might actually like each other with time. Nicholas cautiously looked at Elias, and then slowly began to undress and slowly walked into the water, hanging onto Elias’s arm. She could see him shiver, but he remained in the river, clinging onto Elias. “Now, the easiest way to swim is the dog paddle. It will keep you afloat but it won’t save you if you get dragged down the river.” Elias told him, slowly guiding Nicholas away from the shallow water. Nicholas seemed to resist a bit, but still hung onto Elias. Elias started showing Nicholas by paddling his hands and kicking his feet, and he copied what he was doing. Then he proceeded to show him how to tread water and float. A while later, Nicholas grew more confident and started to swim by himself, closer to shore. He smiled at Kasandra, and for once he looked happy. Kasandra was pleased and stood up, dusting herself off.
”Okay boys, time to go.” she announced, watching as the two got out of the river. Kasandra threw Elias’s clothes at him jokingly which he easily caught. She quickly put on her armor again and attached her sword to her side. They began their way back to where their camp was to start a new day of travel again.
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Postby Elias_Vinard » Thu Aug 18, 2005 8:00 pm

The following day went by at a grueling pace. It was much hotter now than it had been for several weeks, and the three travelers found themselves sweltering under the blazing sun. Several times throughout the day Elias had cursed the absence of the clouds that could have given at least a small reprieve from the overpowering heat. To Elias’ surprise, Kasandra had not removed her armor, but was obviously struggling with the urge to do just that. He could only imagine how hot it must have been under the thick layer of metal, but she seemed to have an eye on the surrounding forest, as though expecting an ambush. They had stopped more than once to cautiously approach an area Kasandra believed ideal for an ambush. Elias noted that she had more experience in that area than him, and he was grateful for her expert eye. As of yet her concerns had not been realized, but Elias was not impatient and would rather be cautious than trapped.

Both Elias and Nicholas had taken their shirts off in an attempt to keep them dry. Elias found fatigue setting in as they rode, and the oppressive heat stilted most of their conversations. They were content enough to just march on. They stopped several times throughout the day for water and shade, only to find themselves back on the road before long. By the time the sun had grown low in the sky they crested a hill, Elias stopping at the top with the others arriving just behind him.

Before them, in the small dip of the valley was their destination. The magnificent city of Kestrel, once one of the most profitable trade centers in the known world. It had since fallen in a small manner of disarray, as the effects of war were being felt even here. Still, from their vantage on the hill Elias could still see the majestic beauty of the city. Tall stone walls surrounded the city, with eight towers Elias could count placed strategically around the perimeter. The city behind the wall was bustling still, and they could see merchant carts and travelers going through the front gate. The details of the individuals were lost from such a distance, but Elias could still pick out the city guards, searching carts and questioning those that sought entrance. The city itself had been rebuilt what looked like at least four times, to compensate for the rapidly growing population. The old city walls still stood, one ringing the other. The center ring being the oldest and most prestigious area, one where Elias knew the Prince would live. With every new expansion of the city a great wall had been erected, only to have the population once again outgrow its space, and have more required. A clever setup in hindsight, as each old wall had been up kept and not been allowed to fall into disarray. Even if the first wall were to be breached, there were still three walls before the palace. Whether that had been the master builder’s intentions, or a fortunate coincidence, it didn’t matter.

”We made it. Let’s go make our introduction.” Elias said finally, after they had spend a few moments admiring the city. Elias guessed by Nicholas’ wide eyes, this was possibly the largest city he had ever seen. Kasandra voiced her agreement before they began down the hill. Though they could see the city easily from this vantage point, the road to the city was a winding one, descending gradually for the ease of the carts that frequented the road. It took them nearly an hour to reach the end, instead of the ten minutes it should have taken if the road had been straight but steep.

The entrance to the city was congested, and the three were forced to wait behind a wheat farmer near the back of the line. Elias kept his eyes focused on what was going on around them. He knew Kestrel was struggling at war, hence their need for mercenaries, but the gate guards were stopping every man that sought entry to ask questions, or stab spears through their hay bales in search of stole ways. This was possibly good news. The more in need the kingdom was of armed men, the more they would be willing to pay. The fact that they were merely two mercenaries and a boy was a concern Elias still had. For the best pay they would need to be in a company, but he would see what could be arranged. Finally, they reached the front of the crowd, and were stopped by a burly guard. He carried a large halberd, and wore a dented skullcap.
”State your business.” The guard said, his voice hoarse, as he looked Elias over, pausing a moment on his sword.
”My companions and I have come to offer our services to your prince. We were told of your need to hire a few more swords, and have come to offer our aid. Our experience may prove useful to your lord.” Elais said evenly, as the guard looked over Kasandra and Nicholas carefully. He scowled, and spat at the ground by Elias’ feet.
”Damn mercenaries and your swaying loyalties. We can hold our own; but you’re right. The prince has put out a call for your kind. You will have to register. Go talk to the arms master. Keep to the right after the gate and you’ll see it. Now, get out of my sight.” The guard barked the order and waved them past.
A warrior lives by acting, not by thinking about acting,
nor by thinking about what he will think when he has finished acting.
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Postby Kasandra » Fri Sep 09, 2005 7:44 pm

Elias led the group through the thick crowds, passing through the gate and went off to the side where there were less people.
”Let’s visit the Arms master first and get our business settled there. We shouldn’t have a problem with getting a job since it looks like they need the help.” he stated, watching the people walk by and keeping a careful eye on his surroundings. This is a huge city, bigger than Farina and that means potentially more petty crimes like pick pocking. They didn’t want to run into that kind of trouble again. Nicholas was looking around fascinated with the area and all the different types of people, yet keeping close to the mercenaries. Kasandra nodded and they began they walk through town, following the guards’ directions by keeping to the right. Within a few moments, they came to a large white building with a small wooden sign on top with two swords crossing each other.
”This must be the Arms master, Nicholas wait outside here for us while we quickly go inside to sign up for a job.” she said, already making her way to the door. Elias soon followed with Nicholas obeying them, sitting down by the door. They walked inside to see a small lineup of three people ahead of them. The mercs waited patiently, until it was their time to speak to him.
”Next!” the husky voice demanded, as Elias and Kasandra walked up together in front of the portly gentleman sitting in front of them. He was wearing chain mail armor with his long sword sitting next to his desk, but was wearing no helm at the moment. The beads of sweat were trickling down his bald forehead as he was shuffling through some papers on his desk. He looked up and studied the two mercs that were standing in front of him, examining them closely.
”So what’s your business here?” he inquired, looking at Kasandra closely. She didn’t back down and kept constant eye contact with the burly man.
”We are mercenaries looking for work. We were told that the Prince was looking for aid, and we were waiting for him at a local tavern, The Lions Den when it was attacked.” she spoke, recalling the events that took place.
”What’s your company?” he said while scribbling something down on the piece of paper.
”We aren’t apart of one, we travel by ourselves. My name is Elias Vinard and this is my companion, Kasandra Hilegard” Elias stated, calmly waiting for the arms master to approve their applications.
”Very well, you said you were at that tavern; I am surprised that you guys made it out alive. Reports I heard was that everyone was slaughtered back there. You guys must have some skill then if you’re able to escape the Taline army.” he said, appearing to look at the mercs standing in front of him in a new light.
”Our skills are exceptional, and we have plenty of experience as well. They were a challenge, but we were able to survive. They wore red armbands and just started attacking us for no reason.” she said confidently, thinking they have a good chance on getting hired.
”Ah yes, they are a vicious bunch for sure. Kestrel has been at war with Taline for quite some time now and we are under manpowered. We are a merchant kingdom; while they are militant and dangerous. We may have a lack of armed forces but we have lots of resources to makeup for it. So the prince wanted to hire an enormous group of mercs to help in the cause. I am not entirely sure, but we suspect that word must have spread to the Taline kingdom and they heard about what the prince was doing, and instead of buying everyone first; they decided to execute everyone there instead before we could get there. By doing that, they are keeping us at a disadvantage and sabotaging our attempts at making a defense. Since then, there have been numerous reports that more raids have been going down at other mercenary recruiting posts.” he said solemnly, writing more notes down on the pieces of paper. Kasandra was shocked, the levels people stoop to just to win a war and by doing so, murdering innocent people she thought to herself.
”That’s absurd, there has to be a way to stop them.” She exclaimed, watching the arms master closely. Before the arms master could answer, Elias cut in.
"What is the going rate for mercs here?" The arms master looked between Kasandra and Elias, before finally answering his question.
"Food, lodging, and ten silver coins a month." He answered sternly before going back to his papers before him. Kasandra couldn't help but laugh at the offer.
"Ten silver a month? Have you gone mad? We're not a couple of farmers plowing your field. It’s our blood that could be shed in the name of your country. You could use all the help you could get. I think at least fifty silver a month, and have your blacksmith fix up our weapons and armor." It was the arms master who slammed his fist on the desk.
"Outrageous! I could hardly justify paying that to an entire division, lettleown two mere swords. Fifteen, that's all I can afford, and that is robbery already!"
"Twenty, and we have the use of your blacksmith." Elias said finally, seeing the arms master growing more irritated by the moment.
"Done." The arms master said flatly as he scribbled a note onto a side piece of parchment. His angry demeanor had seemingly vanished. Kasandra knew twenty silver was a fair deal when it included room and board as well as the blacksmith's service. After all, these wars were often long and drawn out, spanning over the course of summers and winters. There could even be several month with little or no activity on the part of the mercenary groups, and she knew those would be great times to drink or gamble away their pay.
”Welcome to a never ending fight, the weapon smith is just across from this building and the barracks are back towards the entrance of the city. Training starts tomorrow morning.” The arms master smiled as he stood up at his desk.
”Thank you sir.” Elias shook his hand and Kasandra followed suit. The two turned around and walked outside. Nicholas stood up and greeted the mercs.
”So how did it go?” he curiously asked, taking his place by Kasandra again.
”Well, we got in. We have to start training tomorrow and see where they want to send us.” she said, looking over to Elias ”So what do you want to do now?”
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Postby Elias_Vinard » Tue Sep 20, 2005 10:57 pm

In response to her question Elias motioned that they follow him. He began to talk as they made their way back towards the town gate.
”Let’s get these horses stabled, and brushed down. We should get ourselves settled in the barracks first.” Elias spotted what was passing for a barracks in this town and grimaced. He had been hoping to sleep in something resembling a bed, but one look at the building and he began to seriously doubt the possibility. The structure was a massive, but old building. The old wood had begun to rot, and there were several places Elias could see through holes in the walls. It looked to be nothing more than a glorified barn for the excess soldiers that were being flooded into the town. There was a stable in the back, to which Elias left Nicholas to tent to the horses. Grudgingly the boy remained to do as he was told while Elias and Kasandra walked into the building. The first thing that assaulted his senses was the stench of molding hay and sweat. From the inside it looked even more like a barn than it had from the outside. There were no beds, but only men with their traveling blankets scattered across the floor. There was scarcely enough room for Elias and Kasandra to slip by the throng of people to get up to the second story. It was less populated here, with most of the mercenaries bunking below. Elias noticed the clearly visible holes in the roof. The sky showed through the worn patchwork that consisted of the roof, and there were more than a few holes in the floor that threatened to plunge the unwary to the level below.
”This place could collapse at any time!” Kasandra exclaimed sourly. From what he had seen thus far Elias was inclined to agree with her.
”They weren’t prepared for the number of soldiers it would need to bolster their ranks. I’d expect the regular army would refuse to share accommodations with the likes of us, so they put us here.” Elias said, clearly not impressed with their new accommodations. At least traveling on the road they slept under the stars, and there wasn’t this oppressive stench to think about.
”Let’s go. We can set up a camp tent outside. It’ll be better than staying here.” Kasandra nodded, already knowing she would not be staying in this dilapidated wreck of a barn. They found Nicholas coming in from tending the horses just as they were leaving. The boy looked confused when he saw them walking out, but didn’t say anything as he followed.
”Well, if this is going to be our home for the next while, we might as well make a few contacts.” Elias suggested, nodding to a tavern across the road. The loud laughter and minstrels could be heard from where they stood.
”I could really go for a drink.” Elias said as they began to make their way to the tavern. He wanted a drink, but he knew better than to lose his senses; at least not this night. It would be a good opportunity for them to listen to the gossip and new about town.
A warrior lives by acting, not by thinking about acting,
nor by thinking about what he will think when he has finished acting.
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Postby Kasandra » Mon Nov 14, 2005 9:45 pm

The three of them made their way to the tavern after discovering their sub-par living conditions in the barn. Kasandra agreed with Elias, she refused to stay in those conditions so she would rather stay outside. They reached the tavern and Elias pushed the door open with Kasandra and Nicholas following behind. The tavern was of moderate size with many men passed out on their tables already and the rest joking around amongst themselves. Kasandra looked around the tavern and caught many men staring at her, whispering to each other probably wondering what she was doing in a place like this. She ignored their cat calls and crude remarks and made their way to an empty table in the back. They sat down and Elias smirked at Kasandra, obviously amused at the attention she was getting.

”Hey, I think that old guy with his three front teeth missing likes you.” he chuckled, soon to be followed by a punch in his right arm as a retort from Kasandra. She shrugged and waved down a bar maid. She ordered two ales for her and Elias and some water for Nicholas. The wench soon returned with their drinks, which Kasandra welcomed quickly by downing her drink within minutes. She waved over the wench and ordered another and requesting food for everyone. Plates of hot shredded meat arrived along with two more drinks. Elias looked at Kasandra strangely, curious of what she is doing.
”Are you feeling okay? Usually you don’t start drinking heavily like this.” he said with concern, watching her down another drink.
”Oh no, I’m fine. It’s just nice to know that we are appreciated for the services that we provide by risking our lives for strangers we don’t even know and this is how we get treated in return. It just gets to me sometimes on how they just throw mercs in some dilapidated shack and give us unsatisfactory food and expect us to fight to the death.” she surly said, ordering two more ales.””At least we negotiated better terms for ourselves, but I just feel that we deserve more.” she paused, staring blankly ahead. Elias and Nicholas looked at each other questionly when moments later she seemed to snap out of it and come back from her own little world. ”Sorry, I just get in these moods sometimes when things just build up all at once and I feel that things are out of my reach and there is nothing I can do about it.” she sighed, taking another drink of her fifth mug.
”Well, there is something that we can do, and that is leave. If you don’t want to be here, just say so and we’ll pack our bags and we’ll look for another employer.” Elias reasoned with her, trying to make her feel better. She paused and thought for a second and shook her head no. Elias shrugged and finished eating his food. ”We’ll give it a shot and see how it is for the first while. If things don’t improve then we can go.” she spoke, and stood up and started walking out the door.

Elias followed her, watching her stumble a little as she made her way to the door. The cool air tingled against her skin as she walked outside and around behind the barracks where they might tent for the night. Suddenly, she heard a woman screaming from behind some buildings. Kasandra immediately began running to where the noise was coming from. She found a young woman lying on the ground being held down by two older scruffy men while another man stood with his back facing to Kasandra, standing on her arm. Kasandra immediately ran up to the man standing up, stumbled on a rock then drew her sword, impaling him through the torso. She gave it a twist and threw his body aside and furiously looked at the other two who were all over her who had their mouths open with shock. She quickly looked over to the woman and her clothes were torn and shredded and her face and body was covered in bruises and cuts. The two men drew daggers and began advancing on Kasandra, circling her. One took a step forward and attempted to stab her on the side, which she easily blocked. While she focused on the one attacker, the other went behind her and slashed her arm while her reflexes were slower than normal. She turned around and slashed down low and across his knee caps, causing him to crumble to the ground. She raised her sword up and impaled him through the stomach, making him twitch in pain. She turned to face the last attacker but found him already lying on the ground dead. Elias had caught up with her and looked like he cut the man’s throat.
”Wow, you didn’t waste any time did you?” he said sarcastically, looking at the three bodies on the ground. Kasandra didn’t say anything as she turned around to talk to the young woman, but she was already gone. She put her sword in the scabbard and came back to Elias and Nicholas with a satisfied look on her face.
”Let’s set up camp, we’ll train tomorrow morning or see if there are any assignments for us.” she kept walking, stumbling occasionally towards a patch of grass under a lone tree behind the barracks and passed out on the ground.
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Postby Elias_Vinard » Tue Nov 15, 2005 5:46 am

Elias let out a sigh, as he looked back over his shoulder. The bodies of the three men lay lifeless in the street. The fatal slashes pooled their steady flow of blood around them. It was a sight that would make most strong hearted men sick. It had, in fact the first time he had ever seen a sword killed man. Now, the sight of it only caused him to shake his head. Nicholas stared at the bodies for a long moment before turning away. Elias saw the look on the boys face, and knew it to be indifference, not disgust. They had arrived nearly too late, and couldn’t consider it much of a fight. He had heard a woman scream, same as Kasandra, though he was not so quick to respond. He had drunk considerably less than his traveling companion, and judging by how fast she had emptied one mug after the other, he doubted she was in the right frame of mind for what she had gone to meet. Still, by the time he had arrived Kasandra had blade in hand and was fighting three men armed with knives. What had possessed the men to stand against someone wielding a sword with mere knives was beyond him. He reasoned it may have had something to do their superior numbers or the fact that Kasandra was a woman and clearly not sober. Still, one man was cleanly skewered by the time he assessed the scene, and lay gasping his last breaths of bloodied air. The wounded man was unable to cry out in pain, his attempts only rewarded him by causing him to cough a fine mist of blood. Kasandra’s sword had cut into his lung, leaving the man to drown even as he bled to death. There was no woman, though Elias knew that was what had drawn Kasandra here. There was no time to consider the unusual nature of their situation. Kasandra was focused, though far more uncoordinated than he had always seen her to be. One of the men managed to come around and dig his knife into her arm. Elias was already in motion, but was unable to stop him. Kasandra cried out even as she turned on the man who had wounded her. Elias moved to the closest man, who had his back turned. His attention was focused solely on the woman who was at that point incapacitating his partner. Elias moved quickly, the sound of his movement was lost in the cry of pain Kasandra had inflicted. Drawing his sword, Elias brought it around and with a single slash slit the unaware man’s throat from behind. With the cut made, he backed off even as his victim clutched at his throat, as if trying to hold it together. It was a doomed attempted, and after a few strong beats of his heart the man fell down slowly, lying still a moment later, as Kasandra drove her blade into the last man’s stomach. Kasandra hardly acknowledged his presence and began to walk off. Elias followed a few paced behind, concerned. Their conflict had made a fair amount of noise, and he doubted it would take more than a few minutes before someone came to investigate, and he intended to be long gone by then. Kasandra managed to wind her way back through the streets to come into sight of the barracks again. She made it barely off the walkway before she fell. Elias was only a step behind and kneeled beside her. He turned her over to lay on her back, and could see she was asleep. Nicholas came to kneel on her other side, mimicking Elias.
”Her drinks seemed to have caught up with her.” He said calmly. Elias now wiped the blood from his blade before putting it away. He looked around, but saw no peering eyes watching them.
”We can’t stay here, and they might search the mercenary barracks for clues. It won’t take much for them to put two and two together. Her cloths are covered with blood, theirs and her own. We need to find some place else to stay for tonight.” Elias looked around again, ensuring they weren’t being observed. Finally he looked back to Nicholas, who was watching him intently, waiting to see what he decided to do.
”Take a few coins and secure us a room at the inn down the road. I remember seeing one on our way past. After you rent the room come back and help me carry her.” Elias said as he dug into his pouch to pull out a few coins. Nicholas nodded, and took the coins before going down the road. Elias took the time to check Kasandra’s arm. The cut was superficial and shallow, but it was bleeding badly. He knew he would have to bind the wound and the sooner the better, but he would have little opportunity to do it here and now. He waited impatiently for Nicholas to return, and after several tense minutes the boy returned. Together they pulled Kasandra up, wrapping one of her arms over each of their shoulders. Together they half walked half drug Kasandra to the inn. The few blocks to the inn seemed immensely far, especially when Elias heard the shouting for help coming from a few blocks away. He knew someone had discovered the bodies, and he would have to pick up their pace. When they finally reached the confines of the inn, Nicholas held the door as Elias walked Kasandra through. She had since regained some sense of consciousness, though she didn’t seem aware of where she was in her half dream like state. The innkeeper was watching their progression, having been woken by Nicholas only a few minutes earlier. Elias made a point to turn Kasandra so her bleeding arm was blocked from the innkeepers view.
”Is she well? Doesn’t look so good to me.” He questioned, only slightly concerned. Nicholas chimed in before Elias could answer.
”The tavern’s been good to them. They’ll be fine once they find their beds.” He said with a smile, which the innkeeper reciprocated leaving Elias and Nicholas to drag Kasandra up the few steps to the rooms. Once inside, Elias set her down heavily on the bed. Nicholas lit the lamp that had been left on the table, giving them both a dim sense of light to see one another. Elias regarded the boy with interest, and a little skepticism. Nicholas had done as he asked, and helped them both even when he could have made things far more complicated. Elias was still unsure of the boy’s motivations, but this night he had proven himself at least partly trustworthy.
”We need to take her armor off if I’m going to bind this wound properly. Can you find some cloth we can tear into strips and maybe some water if it’s around.” Elias asked even as he began undoing some of the straps on her armor. Nicholas nodded before vanishing out the door. The boy returned with a common white shirt and a large bowl of water shortly after Elias pulled the breastplate off and placed it on the floor. Nicholas handed over his findings, and Elias used his knife to cut the shirt into thick strips. The article of clothing was not one he was familiar with, but he thought it better not to ask of its origin. He used the cloth and water to clean up the wound, and found it to be far less serious than he was expecting. It was hardly more than a grazing blow. Still, he used the other strips of cloth to wrap and bind the wound. Once he was done he examined his work, and was satisfied it would do until morning. The room they had been given was small, with only the one hay covered bed, which Kasandra was currently sprawled across. Elias and Nicholas would have to sleep on the floor, which was a step up from the cold hard ground. With Kasandra looked after, Elias sat down resting his back against the wall. Nicholas had already found himself a seat on the other side of the cramped room. There was hardly enough room for the two men to lay head to toe without hitting the other. Still, it was all they had paid for.
”So, what do you make of all that?” Nicholas said finally after an extended silence. Elias looked up, almost surprised to hear the voice. It was a question he was asking himself.
”I’m not sure. I mean, I’ve never seen her drink like that, though I suppose it’s not all that unexpected. I’ve known my share of tavern floors. New place, new job it always takes a bit of getting used to. Killing those men was a bit of a surprise though. I’m not sure what got into her. It was as though she wanted to see those men dead. I’m not sure what they did, but she wasn’t about to leave well enough alone. How about you? How are you handling it?” Elias asked, watching Nicholas’ expressions. The boy merely shrugged. Elias didn’t pursue his question. They let the silence take over the room again, only Nicholas eventually broke it.
”There was more blood than I would have thought. I didn’t feel badly for them. Maybe I should have, but I don’t. I mean, I didn’t know them. Why should I care what happens to them?” Nicholas finished speaking, his eyes focused on the lantern’s flame. The boy’s nonchalance was disturbing, though only because he was just that: a boy. Elias knew a certain level of acceptance was required for the job, but Nicholas seemed to have a handle on something some men never got over. Elias thought back to Nicholas’ brother, and how he had killed him. It was difficult to tell if the boy held any ill feelings about it. It was more than likely, but since the boy’s plea to accompany them, he showed no signs of hatred or vengeance. If the boy could truly detach himself from what happened, and move on, Elias would train him. The more time he spent with the boy, especially after his reaction to this night’s events, the more Elias wanted to take Nicholas on as his apprentice. It would take years before the boy was ready for real combat, but mentally he was already years ahead of most. It was these thoughts that accompanied Elias into sleep.
A warrior lives by acting, not by thinking about acting,
nor by thinking about what he will think when he has finished acting.
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Postby Kasandra » Sun Nov 20, 2005 10:22 pm

Kasandra slowly woke from her slumber and opened her eyes gradually, finding herself in an unfamiliar room sleeping on a hay bed. She sat up swiftly and looked around quickly to survey her surroundings. Elias and Nicholas were sleeping in the corners of the room and looked to be quite cramped. Then she looked down and noticed her breastplate had been removed but the rest of her armor was in tact. Her right arm had some strips of cloth wrapped around it, making a bandage. Her shirt was soaked in dry blood which she quickly removed and discarded it to the side leaving her with an undershirt exposed. Kasandra thought for a second and remembered the previous nights’ events that took place and the fight she got in with the appalling men. Her head slightly throbbed and her mouth was dry, she stood up and felt a little lightheaded while she bent over to pick up her breastplate and swiftly put it on again. In the corner, Elias woke up and stood up and stretched. He looked at Kasandra and smiled,
”So how are we feeling today?” he asked, obviously referring to last nights events.
”I’ve been better but it’s okay. Where are we?” she wondered, still not familiar with the room.
”We checked into an inn that was nearby, thought it would be more comfortable for you to sleep on a bed than on the ground. Not to mention it would not look as suspicious.” he said with his eyes narrowing. Kasandra didn’t say anything for a couple minutes and just stared straight ahead. In the corner Nicholas now woke up, sitting upright in the corner looking at the two mercs with curiosity.
”Good morning.” he briefly said while getting a nod in return from the two. Elias had a stern look on his face, never taking his gaze from Kasandra. He spoke up, saying what was obviously on his mind since something was definitely bothering him.
”So what exactly happened last night? What made you snap like that and kill those three men without hesitation? And don’t say that the ale is what did it for you; because of how your actions were last night it must have been something deeper. Elias said with a hint of concern in his voice. Kasandra locked eyes with Elias and never looked away with a serious look on her face.
”I was saving that woman from those three despicable guys who call themselves men. She was being raped, and I have no tolerance for that at all. No woman should have to ever undergo that kind of treatment or situation. It was obvious what was going on so I wasn’t going to give them the benefit of the doubt.” She gravely spoke, watching Elias’ expression change to being shocked.
”I never knew that was happening. We were behind you for the first while of the fight and we couldn’t understand why you just started going after those men like that. I am relieved that you are alright and just have suffered a minor injury, but you shouldn’t have taken off like that without waiting for us as backup. Plus if they find out who did that, you will be in trouble and it might jeopardize your job here.” he calmly stated the facts, hoping that Kasandra will see it from his point of view as well. She nodded her head and leaned against the wall for support,
”I understand the consequences for my actions and take full responsibility if they find out it was me. I do not regret what I did, I am just satisfied that the woman is safe for now. But she took off before I got to talk to her...” she trailed off, wondering where the woman went and if she was alright.
”I am sure she is fine, she just probably wanted to get far away from that unpleasant situation as possible.” Elias stated, convincing Kasandra that her deed did help her out. Nicholas spoke up, with a smile on his face,
”Yeah you showed them a thing or two. I hope I can fight like that someday.” he said while Kasandra looked at him for a moment and had a pit feeling in the bottom of her stomach. She didn’t even realize that Nicholas witnessed all that blood shed. She looked over him and he appeared not to be frazzled by it at all. Or he was hiding it really well. She made a note to keep an eye on him and talk to him if she thought he needed it.
”Well anyways, let’s get something to eat, I’m starving and wouldn’t mind some water.” she said as she made her way to the door before grabbing her bloody shirt first. The two men followed her outside to the tavern again and sat down at the table. Kasandra ordered just like she said, some breakfast for the three of them and some water. They ate their meals in silence as Kasandra kept on replaying last night’s events in her head, trying to remember who that woman was. She will keep the image in the back of her mind in case she runs into her again in the future. Once they were finished their meal, they went outside where it was sunny out with a crisp breeze.
”I think we should probably check in with someone to see if there are any assignments or if we have to train at all.” she said, stopping and looking at her companions seeing if they had any ideas.
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Postby Elias_Vinard » Fri Dec 30, 2005 5:58 am

Elias nodded, letting himself stretch after their morning meal. The day was still young, but he knew their presence would be required soon, if not already. He agreed with Kasandra’s idea of finding them something to do. Once they were prepared the three made their way back to the mercenary barracks. They found no trouble along the way, and the previous night’s events seemed almost as though they had never happened. That suited Elias just fine and he was content to leave the subject lay. Behind the ruin of the barn that doubled as a boarding house, in something of an open area before the wall, men were gathered in large groups. It was not difficult for Elias, Kasandra and Nicholas to lose themselves in the back of the crowd. There was an unsettling hum of whispered voices as the assembled mercenaries discussed why they had been summoned together like this. Nudging one of the men standing in front of him, Elias leaned in to speak.
”What’s happening?” The soldier turned to face him, his sun burnt face squinting as it looked him up and down. Apparently convinced Elias was a fellow mercenary, he answered.
”Missed the morning summons, eh. They aint told a one of us why we’re standing out here. Only that there was to be an announcement. There were a few murders last night not far from here. Could be somethin to do with that, but I heard word a rider came through the gates shortly after the sun peaked over the trees. He was nearly unconscious from fatigue they say. My guess, this has somethin to do with that.” The man stated mater-of-factly before spitting on the ground beside the two of them. Elias wondered who ‘they’ were, but he knew better than to question soldier’s gossip, or put too much faith in it.

The idea that this gathering could be related to the previous night’s skirmish was somewhat troubling. There had been no witnesses that he could remember, with the exception of the woman Kasandra swore she had helped. If the woman had gotten it into her head to come to the authorities over the incident, he knew Kasandra would be identified quickly. At a glance he could see Kasandra was uncomfortable at the thought, but the worry he saw was only in the look the two exchanged. Elias’ look was stern, and without a word he tried to ask what she wanted to do? They still had an opportunity to slip away from the crowd and leave the city. He was confident they would be able to get away, but he couldn’t help but wonder why he was even considering the possibility. After all, what had happened had almost nothing to do with him. Why should he miss this opportunity for work? Why was he compelled to stay with this one mercenary? This woman? It was a question he didn’t get a chance to reflect on, as a loud shout for attention came from the front of the crowd. Those soldiers still talking eventually grew quiet after two more shouts for silence. The barrel-chested captain of the guard began to shout, so those in the back could hear.
”We have received a message early this morning that the city of Obouros has been attacked. It is a small city, but one our prince does not wish to lose so lightly. We do not have enough information to know whether the city has been able to repel the attack, or if the walls have fallen. The witnessed force attacking the city was no more than one hundred men. There will be a force dispatched to meet this threat, should they still be there. I am sending a command of fifty soldiers, with the assistance of a mercenary brigade. This is a call to arms for the mercenary brigade The Thorns, as well as all un-aligned or freelance mercenaries currently under the payroll of the Prince of Kestrel. The rest of you are free to go about your business. Those summoned, come forward now.”

Immediately the crowd burst into conversation as the orders were given. The crowd began to disperse, with the men aligned to their own bands and brigades making their way away from the clearing. Within the next few minutes the number of men on the field dramatically dropped. It was immediately clear which men belonged to The Thorns, as they all wore the same red and black insignia of a long stemmed rose, broken in half. They were a group of fifty men themselves, and remained standing in a self circling group. The men wore studded leather, and carried a mixture of axes, maces and swords. Studying the group, Elias could see no bows, or men that wore the robes of priests. He had never heard of this particular band, but he could see by the scars many members wore exposed on their arms and face that most of them had been thoroughly tested. There was also nearly that number of men milling about the clearing, some alone, others in pairs, or groups of three or four. Elias knew these men were the freelance, as was he. It didn’t bother him to be considered so, and he knew the benefits and complications that went with joining a group. For now he was satisfied to keep his options open.

There was one man that stood out of place now that the crowd had dispersed. He was a tall, lanky man, wearing polished chain mail. He stood beside the captain of the guard as the assembled mercenaries gathered together. Elias and Kasandra said nothing as they gathered with the rest. There was nothing that needed saying. It was the captain of the guard that spoke out to those standing before him. His voice was loud and booming, despite the relatively close range.
”Lieutenant Kainbridge here will be the man leading you. The prince has left him in charge of this mission and you are to follow his orders unerringly. You are all experienced soldiers, so I don’t want to hear of any problems. Sir Kainbridge has the authority of the prince to issue commands, and take whatever action is necessary against our enemies. I know many of you merc types like to work on your own, or independently of our leadership, but remember: You are first and foremost soldiers of Kestrel. If commands are not obeyed you will be charged with treason and brought to the gallows. May your mission go with god’s grace.”
Elias listened to the speech and idle threats with little interest. He had heard it all before and even found this attempt to scare them into blind obedience fairly tame. With the captains words concluded he turned his position over to the man in chain mail, Lieutenant Kainbridge. The Lieutenant looked over the group of freelance mercenaries and organized division without as much as a raised eyebrow. Finally after he had finished scanning both groups, he spoke.
”We leave in one hour at the west gate. Dismissed.” The Lieutenant said simply, before turning away. Elias could almost have sworn he heard the slur of ale in the man’s words, but it was difficult to pinpoint for sure. Still, it was something he noted to himself silently.
”Well, it looks like we’ll be earning our keep sooner than expected. We should pick up a proper blade for the boy if he’ll be coming with us.”
A warrior lives by acting, not by thinking about acting,
nor by thinking about what he will think when he has finished acting.
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Postby Kasandra » Thu Jan 26, 2006 11:56 pm

Kasandra and Elias started to walk away from the rest of the mercs when Kasandra stopped and looked at Elias with concern.
”Do you really expect Nicholas to come along with us? He is not trained at all with the blade, and for him to fight a war with us is suicide. I don’t want to be held responsible if something happens to him...” her voice trailed off. Elias looked over at Nicholas and studied him carefully.
”We will let Nicholas decide. Do you want to fight with us or do you want to stay in town?” he simply put; the boy was old enough to make his own decisions. Nicholas looked at them with his huge brown eyes, scared for a moment. He stepped forward and nodded. ”I want to come fight too, teach those bad guys a thing to do.” he wildly started swinging his arms if he was pretending to punch the air. Elias chuckled and put his arm on the boy’s shoulder.
”Now we have quite a bit of work to do. Pretty much have to do a quick crash course of self defense to be able to survive for today. Now let’s pick up a blade.” he began walking to a weapon smith with the two trailing behind. They walked inside to no lineup, and browsed around. Nicholas quickly looked at the one handed swords with great interest, but shook his head and brought him over to where the daggers were. He looked along the wall and pointed to a small dagger with a black pommel, about eighteen inches long with a leather scabbard.
”How much for that one?” he pointed at the dagger. The shop keeper walked over and removed it and dropped it in Elias’s hands.
”The Knights Dagger? Ah yes, excellent choice. That would be seventy-five silver. The shop keeper stated, cleaning the other blades while waiting for the customers.
”Seventy-five silver? That’s outrageous. We will no more than forty five for it. Kasandra spoke up, trying to get a good deal on it.
”Oh no no no, I can’t do forty five. Fifty five.” he sternly said, watching Elias give the dagger to Nicholas who started playing with it.
”Fifty.” she stated. The shop keeper sighed and nodded. Kasandra went into her pouch and took out some silver coins and gave it to the bald man. She looked down at Nicholas who was looking at the blade carefully, lightly running his finger along it.
”Now, we have to teach you how to properly handle a blade.” she said as she crouched down and tied the scabbard around his small waist. They walked outside and made their way away from the buildings to an empty field to practice. Elias stepped forward first and drew his sword and Elias held out his dagger.
”One of the most important things of sword fighting is your footwork. You need to know how to properly funnel against your opponents. That is when you are moving constantly and being aware of the situation around you at all times to make sure you don’t get surrounded. You move around your opponents at the last minute so they hit where you were just standing, which forces them to be in front of you. They will surround you again because they have the group mentality but you just have to keep moving but eventually they will figure out your tactics. By then you will have hoped to have taken down a few of them so it might make them rethink their strategy and potentially retreat. he said, doing a small demonstration with his feet. Nicholas nodded and continued to listen.
”Next, when fighting don’t always go for the head, that’s the spot that most people want to protect the most. Since you will be shorter than most of the men on the battle field, don’t feel bad about slicing someone’s knee caps or stomach. Make sure you always keep your hands up covering your face to protect it. Do what it takes to survive and use any tactic or maneuver you can think of that will give you the advantage. Step on his foot, rip out his eye, or kick out the back of his knee, it doesn’t matter. If you’re in a bad position there are ways around it. If you think you’re loosing in a life or death situation, me and Kasandra will come to help. But don’t rely on us all the time, when we are out on the battlefield, we are focused on fighting and nothing else. he said with a serious tone with Kasandra giving a nod.
”It’s not that we are trying to be tough on you, but trying to prepare you the worst of battle. It is not a glorious thing, and definitely not pleasant. You will be hesitant at first of killing people and might feel bad about doing it, but remember they are the enemy and if you don’t kill them, they won’t think twice about killing you.” Kasandra solemnly said, trying to give Nicholas realistic expectations of battle.
”If you think fighting is so bad, then why do you do it?” Nicholas curiously asked. Kasandra chuckled and patted him on the head.
”Dear dear Nicholas, it’s all about the money. Why else do adults do jobs and tasks that they don’t like? Being a merc pays well, but you also put your life on the line every time you are hired to fight for a cause. she said a matter-of-factly. Elias stepped forward and began to thrust his blade towards Nicholas who quickly dogged out of the way. Nicholas retaliated by swinging his dagger back, almost slicing Elias’s arm. Kasandra took a step back and let the two men practice with Elias being a bit easy on Nicholas. Shortly, Kasandra noticed more people walking by towards town again.
”Hey break it up you two. It looks like everyone is gathering together. We should get over to the west gate; we don’t want to be late.” she said while already starting to walk away. The two quickly stopped and followed her lead. Soon enough they got to the gate and the group in front was growing steadily. Minutes later, Lieutenant Kainbridge came back again and looked over the group.
”We will be leaving now to Obouros to survey the damage and take care of any soldiers that were left over. You will receive further orders once we get there and receive more reports. I will be leading you with Captain Sharp in the rear. Make sure you are geared up and we will be leaving now. his voice boomed over the mercs, as he marched past and towards the gate. Everyone followed, marching in lines and clumped together as a group. The gates opened and they soon began their journey to Obouros.
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Postby Kasandra » Sat Feb 10, 2007 12:27 am

The walk to Obouros was long and tedious under the hot desert sun. Kasandra felt like she was in a sauna in her armour but she had to deal with the heat once again. The other mercs seemed to be feeling the effects of the heat as well as their march became a shuffle and beats of sweat trickled down their face.
”Move it you slugs! We can afford to take any more time than we have already!” Captain Sharp yelled from the rear, his deep voice rumbled through the group. Kasandra sighed and wiped the hair from her face and kept walking.

Within a couple hours they saw a haze of smoke coming from the city. This prompted the group to increase the pace of their march and draw their weapons. They soon reached the city gates, five dead guards greeted them that were sprawled across the ground. Lieutenant Kainbridge ordered the mercs to be split into two equal groups to cover more ground quickly. Kasandra, Elias, and Nicholas went with a mixed group of swordsman, macemen, and archers who was led by Captain Sharp. They took the left side of the city, searching all the houses and watchtowers for any surviving peasants or guards. However, it looked like the battle was finished long ago with the corpses that lined the alleyways and various fires that were burnt out. Nicholas looked horrified of viewing the aftermath of a gruelling blood bath. These soldiers had no chance or enough warning to make a sufficient defence against the Taline army.

They finished searching the city when they joined with the other half of the army with Lieutenant Kainbridge at the end of the city. They met with the leader of The Thorns who were dispatched earlier to the city. The group had already collected the wounded peasants that they found into a group and were attending to them.

”What the hell happened here?!” the Lieutenant demanded, wondering what happened.
”Sir! We received reports that the Taline army traveled South towards Basir shortly after we arrived.” the commander replied, saluting the lieutenant. The Lieutenant’s face turned a deep purple as the anger swelled up from inside him.
”Damn it! The Thorns stay here and tend to the wounded and gather any evidence that you may find and meet us at Basir. Everyone else, we march there now!” he demanded and began a quick pace, almost a run to the next destination.
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Postby Elias_Vinard » Sun Feb 11, 2007 6:40 pm

To his commander the assault and destruction of Obouros was an outrage. To the mercenaries that followed him however it was a mere fact of war. Elias had grown somewhat tired from the march to Obouros, but he had done far worse before. Nicholas, however was unaccustomed to such a pace and looked to be on the verge of collapse. Once word reached back into the ranks of the mercenaries that the march was to be taken up again there were groans and complaints. Still, they were hired swords and would go where they were ordered. The new pace set for the march was considerably faster than before, and the lieutenant continued the force march even as a fair number of mercenaries began to fall behind. The Captain remained at the rear, spurring the mercenaries on. As the pace continued the gap between the lead group and the stragglers had spread quite thin. The men still had a large march ahead of them with little sign of the pace slowing.
”What’s he trying to do, march us into the ground?” Elias said through gasps of breath. The march had gone beyond what anyone could consider reasonable.
”Even if we get there after all of this we won’t have the strength to lift our weapons.” He complained as he found himself falling a little farther back in the thinning formation. Within two hours of marching the line had been spread over a quarter mile, and although the lieutenant could hear the complaints he ignored them and ordered them to press on.
”This is insane… no one can keep this pace up forever.” Kasandra said, with one hand holding her side as it began to cramp.
”Your right. This is not rational. The lieutenant must have had a personal interest in Obouros… That’s the only explanation I can think of.” Elias said wiping the sweat from his forehead.

Elias was exhausted and very nearly ready to collapse. He could see that Kasandra was far worse, having refused to take off her armor even at a run in this heat. Nicholas had since fallen to the back of the column, and they had let him go. The run was too much for the boy, and he would get to the city eventually with the others that could not keep pace. Elias knew that several men had collapsed already and they were now trailing at the end of the column. He looked up at the relentless sun, hating the very sight of it when suddenly a scattered shade fell across the blazing orb. Elias hardly had time to react once he realized what he was looking at.
”Down!” Was all he had time to shout before tackling Kasandra to the ground. They both hit the ground hard, and Elias landed heavily on top of her. She was more exhausted than him in her heavy armor and went to the ground easily. They had only just touched the dirt when the whistle of arrows came down around them. Elias’ head was tucked in, trying to make both himself and Kasandra smaller targets, though he felt an arrow burry deep into the traveling bag strapped across his back. Cries of surprise were mixed with screams of pain as the majority of the arrows struck their unsuspecting targets. Once the volley had fallen Elias scrambled to his feet, with Kasandra getting up as quickly as she could manage. He could see their enemies on the ridge to their left. By the time it took Elias to see their ambushers the next volley was launched. Without wasting a heartbeat Elias grabbed one of the wounded mercenaries laying on the ground beside him and rolled the still living man on top of him. Seeing his example Kasandra did the same. There was no shortage of wounded or dead to choose from after the first volley, and the second one was just as devastating. Elias felt the thud as two arrows penetrated the back of the man he used as a shield. The mercenary looked at him with hollow eyes; blood beginning to drop from the corner of his mouth. It was clear the man was dead. Looking over Elias could see that Kasandra had managed to protect herself from the barbed points as well. It may not have been an honorable defense, but they had survived and to Elias that counted for a hell of a lot more.

Elias could see even from his position on the ground that the volleys of arrows had taken down a substantial number of their men. As the survivors were beginning to arrange into some kind of battle formation the sounds of horses charging could be heard above the cries of the wounded. The mercenary line had been spread so thin from the forced march that it made it nearly impossible to mount any kind of retaliation, and looking over his other shoulder Elias could see a number of cavalry charging at their position. It did not take a master tactician to figure out their intent.
”They’re trying to split our force. We need to regroup.” Elias called over to Kasandra. She nodded and they both pushed their body shields away and drew their weapons. The cavalry had been swift and quickly cut a path through the thin line of mercenaries, separating them into two smaller forces. Each mercenary was already exhausted, but they were now forced to fight for their lives. Elias and Kasandra began to run towards the horses in an attempt to break through to join the two mercenary forces. Two dozen other mercenaries had taken up the charge with them, but before they had reached their targets they heard a shouted warning from behind them. Elias looked to see enemy swordsmen and mace men moving in from the other side.
”They’re trying to crush us against the wall of cavalry. If we don’t break through to the others we’ll be slaughtered.” Elias shouted for anyone who cared to hear. With legs weak from exhaustion the mercenaries reached the first of the cavalry and Elias brought his sword around to strike at the first horse he could reach.
A warrior lives by acting, not by thinking about acting,
nor by thinking about what he will think when he has finished acting.
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