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  1. LightSide_Apprentice Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 22, 2001
    star 4
    Imperial_Hammer

    Twilight (Before Dawn)

    Assembly Hall, Wesrah'das Abbey, City of Men, Manrenthain, North Eastern Callanthorith

    A glance passed between the younger and the older Knight. The younger took an interest in Mezzanie's words and sought clarification. "It concerns the Mother Superior. When did you last see her?" he asked, hoping that Mezzanie would respond now that she had been given some small knowledge of what this was all about.

    Unspeaking, yet equally interested in what the priestess had to say and offer, the older Knight simply watched and listened. He thought better of interrupting. Really, there was no need to chastise a man showing initiative, he decided. It was with a slight nod to himself and an intent gaze that he simply stood still and absorbed what was said, just as he did what remained unsaid.



    Reynar_Tedros

    Twilight (Before Dawn)

    City of Men, Eastern Manrenthain, North Eastern Callanthorith

    Faint light crept into the sky from the woods at his back. Merek felt no warmth upon him, however. Sunrise had yet to come and he had no occassion to wait for it. Business as usual kept him occupied. There was little incentive or reason to remain too close to those woods so he crept through the streets, which led into the City of Men.

    Word of a new business opportunity had brought him toward the dark heart of Manrenthain. It was a private contract. One Borelanor Cullrodan seemed to be looking for a man of Merek's specific expertise, someone capable and discreet. Details were scarce, but Merek knew enough to know that the price offered was high, just as the expected risk.

    A meeting was arranged for midday within a small shed adjacent to a stableyard in the city's south. Borelanor would be present to disclose the complete contract at which point Merek would be given an opportunity to accept, or decline. Either option could very well cost the assassin his life. It was his business, his reason for being.



    JediMasterBranondias

    Twilight (Before Dawn)

    Lakeland, Eastern Callanthorith

    Crispin Devaroe was something of a rarity in Callanthorith. Born off the region's eastern coast, and more comfortable in land than on water, he shared a trait few others could appreciate or ever know. The lakeland south of Manrenthain had been his home for some length of time; the place had become something of a refuge.

    Men within cities were far from self sufficient. Crispin was something else. Half human and half aquatic in nature, he was capable not only of surviving on a seafood diet, which he was equipped to provide himself, but also able to dwell upon the lands men walked freely.

    Without allegiance and without foes he was liberated to wander. There was no limit to where he could go, except through his own inner desire. Perhaps dawn was symbolic not only of a new day, but new travels and adventures, too.

    />/>
  2. Reynar_Tedros Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 3, 2006
    star 6
    IC: Merek Therosis
    City of Men, Eastern Manrenthain, North Eastern Callanthorith

    Merek kept a steady pace as he walked through the City of Men, swift, but not rushed. Such smooth steps did he possess that it almost seemed as if the assassin was walking on water, a calm river in a period of peace. Of course, if you asked him, Merek wouldn't be able to tell you if he was walking on grass or stone. He wouldn't tell you anything for that matter. He'd look at you for a second, let you stare down the cold eyes of a killer, and then leave you as you were with fear plaguing your lost soul. And for that moment, those few seconds that you were looking into his eyes, you felt death. You felt the pain of all of his victims, his targets, and you felt his pain. Where that pain comes from, you wouldn't know if you were the smartest being alive. You wouldn't have the slightest clue as to why he did what he did, where he came from, who his family was. But then, at the same time, you would know him. You would know his strength, his power, his life, and you would fear it. The touch of his breath against your skin would send a shiver down your spine, a cold feeling that you'd never felt in your life, and never would feel again. And you would remember those few seconds for the rest of your life. They would haunt your nightmares, your thoughts, your very being. And you would respect Merek Therosis.

    The city was experiencing a period of peace and relaxation, just as the imaginary river that Merek walked on was. It was secluded at the time, and the roads were lit with scattered lamps and torches, illuminating the assassin's path. Yet, he still stuck to the shadows. Detection was prohibited by any assassin. And when you had a reputation like Merek, you tended to stick to that facet.

    Word of a new business opportunity had brought Merek toward the dark heart of Manrenthain. It was a private contract, and the details were scarce, but he knew enough to know that the price offered was high, just as the expected risk. Merek was no stranger to Manrenthain. He had been there before, years earlier, on an assignment. An assignment that had changed his life forever, and one that still defines his very being to this day. An assignment that made him the man he was now, and broke the man he was then.

    A meeting was arranged for midday within a small shed adjacent to a stableyard in the city's south. As the sun peeked its head over the horizon like a small child hiding from a frightening monster, Merek had a distinct feeling that this assignment would prove most intriguing. A challenge, perhaps? He could only wait and see...

    Tag: LS_A
  3. LightSide_Apprentice Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 22, 2001
    star 4
    Reynar_Tedros

    Sunrise (Dawn in Manrenthain)

    City of Men, Eastern Manrenthain, North Eastern Callanthorith

    What lamps and torches lit the night began to fade in their brilliance as twilight gave way to dawn and the bright yellow sun of the world cast its rays across the land. Safety and darkness offered anonymity to one such as Merek Therosis, a wandering assassin, but even in daylight he held no fear. Few beings in the city would dare to glance at him, and none but the Knights of Manrenthain held enough in the way of strength to offer him serious threat.

    Several hours had yet to pass before the sun reached zenith. Once it did Merek would be free from curious eyes should he seek the stableyard and secrecy. Until then, he needed a place to hide. Unless, of course, he cared not for the potential risks that came with wandering the streets in broad daylight, when whispers among the commoners blossomed and rumours among men spread like wildfire.

  4. Reynar_Tedros Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 3, 2006
    star 6
    IC: Merek Therosis
    City of Men, Eastern Manrenthain, North Eastern Callanthorith

    The darkness of the sky began to fade away, making way for the glowing sun to cast its brilliance upon the earth. It was the dawn of a new day for the rest of the world, but for Merek, it was a pause. A pause in his day, his life, a time in which he went into hiding until his secrecy could be ensured once more. Even though he couldn't live without it, the sun was the bane of his existence. And what a bane it was.

    You see, throughout his life an assassin tends to make a large amount of enemies. Some even become allied to one another in order to bring one down. Merek was no exception. In fact, he tended to make a bit more enemies than most assassins did, than most could for that matter. Some were angry at him for killing a friend, a loved one, a client, etc. Some were just jealous, envious of his abilities that they themselves did not possess and could not imitate. Either way, they were merely a spec of sand on an endless beach to Merek.

    Although Merek had his fair share of enemies, he was not without allies. Conveniently enough, one resided right here in the City of Men, just a few minutes from his current destination. This ally would provide adequate shelter for Merek until he could be on his way once more.

    Five minutes had passed, and Merek found himself at a small log cabin, a lone hut amongst a plain of green grass that a few horses regaled themselves with. He didn't bother to knock at the door, but instead climbed through a window as silent as the night. An elderly man, no younger than seventy, sat on a wooden chair in front of a small, rectangular table carving an apple with a dull, silver blade. Merek merely stood a yard behind him, his hands folded in front of him and his body inert.

    "I heard you when your boot first made contact with my yard," the man said without looking up from his apple. He had long, silvery hair that gleamed in the rising sun, and silver stubble on his face that made up a thin beard over his pale wrinkled skin. "I heard you when you first looked upon my humble cabin only a few minutes ago. Do I look that old?"

    No response, and without warning, the old man hurled his knife behind him towards Merek. He didn't need to look at where it was headed, for he already knew. Just as expected, the knife flew back at the table and stabbed into its wooden surface. Merek had caught the knife and threw it back as swiftly as an ocean wave.

    "People like you and I, though mortal of course like everyone else, do not grow old no matter how long we live. We never cease to stand like curious children before the great mystery into which we were born," said Merek as he sat on another wooden chair across from the man.

    The old man chuckled. "The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom. Tell me, Merek, what brings you here?"

    "Shelter. I've received another offer and I am to meet with a contact today."

    The old man sliced the apple in half after peeling off its maroon skin and handed one half to Merek. "Still up to your old ways. Hmph."

    "Hey, you're the one that taught me all of this," said Merek, taking a small bite on his apple.

    For the first time, the old man looked at Merek. "I showed you the door, Merek. You are the one who stepped through."

    The only response was a small chuckle from Merek as he took another bite of his apple, glaring at the man from behind the hood on his cloak.

    Tag: LSA
  5. LightSide_Apprentice Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 22, 2001
    star 4
    Reynar_Tedros

    Sunrise (Dawn in Manrenthain)

    City of Men, Eastern Manrenthain, North Eastern Callanthorith

    Merek's passage into the City of Men was, for the most part at least, unnoticed. Those few men and women who gazed upon him or caught sight of the traveller paid him little attention, and even less of from their busy minds. They simply carried on with their business, whether work or rest.

    Time passed as the assassin took shelter and the streets soon filled with citizens and visitors alike. Locals set up shop and merchants conducted trade. Children played in the streets, and craftsmen set to their art. Merek saw little of interest in any of them, though he retained a memory for the locations of the blacksmith and pawn shop. Little else that he passed was of any potential value, so it was largely forgotten.

    He could hear some commotion outside the cabin; some merchants were squabbling nearby. Words of frustration were exchanged, there was mention of silver and horses, then relative quiet. Whatever passed between the traders was over and done with almost as quickly as it had begun.

  6. Reynar_Tedros Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 3, 2006
    star 6
    IC: Merek Therosis
    City of Men, Eastern Manrenthain, North Eastern Callanthorith

    The hours slowly ticked by in the City of Men as the old man stood idly by watching Merek practice with his sharpened blades in the den of his cabin. It was only logical, after all, for an assassin to brush up on his skills when awaiting a certain time of the day to arrive.

    Behind his white cloak, Merek possessed a total of six daggers that were safely strapped in separate holsters. He had acquired them as a gift from the old man years ago when he first began the career of an assassin. Aside from this, he had two large blades, one strapped on to each arm. These two blades, each approximately three feet in length, were custom built by Merek. The two blades were extendable, so that they could be hidden beneath the sleeves of Merek's cloak, only to be revealed when needed. When they weren't needed, they would retract back into small blades, invisible, once again, beneath the sleeves. When they were revealed, it appeared as if they were protruding from Merek's wrists, giving him a superhuman appearance, albeit he was nothing of the sort. These two blades happened to be Merek's focus in the training exercise he was undertaking.

    However, he stopped suddenly, and the old man became alert as well. In the distance, they could hear what seemed like a quarrel between merchants. Words of frustration were exchanged, there was mention of silver and horses, then relative quiet. Whatever passed between the traders was over and done with almost as quickly as it had begun. Too quickly. Merek surmised that the conflict wasn't settled in peace, and by the cocked eyebrow on the old man's visage, he judged the old man concurred.

    Merek then glared at the old man, as if to express a feeling in a non-verbal manner. The old man instantly understood.

    "I'll let you get back to your isolation," he said as he plopped down on his straw bed. "After all, it is time for my nap."

    Without any hint of understanding, Merek turned towards the door and slowly walked out. There was no need to stand on the tips of his toes or bend his knees like normal people would do when trying to transportate in silence. His movements were naturally inaudible. He peered around the doorway of the cabin, far enough to see what was going on and close enough to where he could remain undetected.

    Tag: LSA
  7. Kartanym Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 23, 2002
    star 6
    Character GM Re-approved (long story)

    Name: Nithanial Aanalasi
    Species: Human
    Gender: Male
    Age: 25
    Faction (Allegiance): Independant
    Home: Manrenthain
    Place of Birth: Dark Realm
  8. LightSide_Apprentice Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 22, 2001
    star 4
    Reynar_Tedros, Kartanym

    Late Hours of the Morning (Approaching Midday in Manrenthain)

    City of Men, Eastern Manrenthain, North Eastern Callanthorith

    Merek peered around the doorway of the cabin, far enough to see what was going on and close enough to where he could remain undetected. He saw no other persons nearby. The sounds of the city could be heard only too clearly: the chatter of citizens and merchants alike, busy with the affairs of the day; the rhythm of drums and sweet song of music; and, the clanging from the smithy, an endless beat that carried across the winds.

    A clear dirt road led from the cabin into the city proper where Merek watched distant figures moving about, conducting their business. He watched as a dog ran down the length of the road, barking at some unseen thing. Before long Merek saw the canine running beside a Knight on horseback heading back into the city. Neither had noticed Merek, but midday was approaching and there was work to be done.

    Within the city, meanwhile, Nithanial Aanalasi observed an unusual amount of activity from the Knights of Manrenthain. He caught sight of two heading toward the northern part of the City of Men earlier in the morning, and just caught sight of another pair heading in the same direction. That in itself was not entirely unusual, but for the rush they seemed to be in.

    A fifth Knight, dressed in light armour, a predatory bird upon his shoulder, entered the city from the east some half an hour before midday. Nithanial recognised the man as some type of scout. No doubt he brought word, or had been summoned, from afar, but to who or for what reason Nithanial knew not. All he knew was that some serious event was cause enough for the presence of so many Knights in broad daylight, hurrying as they were, nothing more.

  9. Reynar_Tedros Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 3, 2006
    star 6
    IC: Merek Therosis
    City of Men, Eastern Manrenthain, North Eastern Callanthorith

    Merek's sight made it past the doorway of the ramshackle old cabin. He didn't see anyone else nearby, but the sounds of the city were clearly audible. Citizens chatting back and forth, merchants selling treasures to wealthy customers, and music being played, drums the authoritative instrument.

    A clear dirt road led from the cabin into the city, where distant figures could be seen moving about, minding their own. Merek watched a dog run down the road, barking at something. He didn't know what it was, and as the canine trotted beside a Knight on horseback heading into the city without taking notice of him, he sighed in relief. He didn't like lives being lost unnecessarily. It wasn't good for business.

    Merek took notice of the sun's position in the sky. Midday was growing nigh, and it was best that he be off to meet the contact. He turned back to the old man without uttering a word.

    "Off to work so soon?" the bearded man said without glancing back at Merek. He was steadily eating a peanut butter sandwich and taking small gulps of water. When there was no response, he turned around expecting to find Merek. But there was no hooded assassin to be found. He chuckled. Quick one.

    Merek moved in and out of the shadows, remaining undetected. There was work to be done.

    Tag: LSA
  10. LightSide_Apprentice Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 22, 2001
    star 4
    Reynar_Tedros

    Late Hours of the Morning (Approaching Midday in Manrenthain)

    City of Men, Eastern Manrenthain, North Eastern Callanthorith

    Merek's return to Manrenthain was a simple first step toward fulfilling a contract he had only recently caught wind of. Details on the hit were, admittedly, scarce. Perhaps that was part of the allure of it all.

    From what little he knew, Merek understood that his meeting was to take place with one Borelanor Cullrodan, who sought a skilled assassin for hire. More appealing than the mystery of the assignment, however, was the expected price one might be in a position to demand upon success.

    The meeting was set for midday. Borelanor arrived six minutes thereafter, entering the shed from its adjacent stableyard, where he left his donkey. He cast a quick glance around him and fiddled with the coins in his pocket, as he waited for any signs of an interested party.

  11. Reynar_Tedros Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 3, 2006
    star 6
    IC: Merek Therosis
    City of Men, Eastern Manrenthain, North Eastern Callanthorith

    The meeting was set for midday, and Merek made his way to the designated shed right on time, according to the small, golden watch that he always kept inside his cloak. He took a glance at the picture on the bottom of the opened part of the watch. He closed it just as quickly.

    There was currently no sign of Borelanor Cullrodan. Was he here, studying Merek's movements as one contact did earlier in his career, or was he really late to his own rendezvous? Merek searched the shadows as he entered the shed. The man was nowhere to be found.

    He then heard footsteps outside. He glanced out of the window, standing to the side of it and thus revealing no part of himself. A man had left his donkey at the stableyard, and was approaching the shed.

    Merek looked around, and found a nice, dark corner of the shed at the top. He swung his arms out to each side of his body, his two custom built blades extracting from his sleeves. He jumped towards the wall and stuck both blades in it. He pulled out his right one and stuck it in a higher position on the wall. He released his left blade, pulled himself up to the right one, and stuck the left blade higher. He did this until he reached the top of the wall, where he hung as still as a statue. The man entered the cabin only seconds after.

    The contact glanced around him, not taking notice of the being high in the shadows. He fiddled around with the coins in his pocket, waiting for his assassin to arrive. Little did he know.

    Merek pulled out both blades and kicked off of the wall, falling to the floor and landing with such grace that not a sound was made.

    "Your late."

    Tag: LSA
  12. LightSide_Apprentice Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 22, 2001
    star 4
    Reynar_Tedros

    Late Hours of the Morning (Midday in Manrenthain)

    City of Men, Eastern Manrenthain, North Eastern Callanthorith

    Borelanor Cullrodan was a successful merchant, in fact he was one of the wealthiest merchants in the district. A man of his position possessed money enough to buy what his whim desired. Unlike many men who fall into wealth, he knew better than to waste his money away on gambling, and alcohol. He much preferred investing in the establishments that drew profits from such activities. And, he enjoyed his position of influence.

    That position allowed him a great degree of freedom in Manrenthain. His only enemy, his only threat, were the Knights of the great city, those loyal servants of the King who could not be bought with money, or promises of power and wealth beyond imagining. The very thought of the Knights caused him to grumble aloud.

    "You're late," came a confident, almost arrogant, voice from behind.

    Startled, Borelanor turned on his heel and reached for the dagger he kept at his belt. He drew it quickly, and waved it threateningly at the stranger. It was all instinct. And, it was wrong. Hadn't the man said that he was late? "Who're you?" Borelanor growled. "How'd you know to find me here?" What he failed to ask, what he feared most, was how the stranger managed to approach him unnoticed.

    He knew the stranger had come for the contract, for the likely reward it offered. What he did not know was the identity of the stranger. For some reason the man looked familiar. Only Borelanor was not sure he knew the man's name. Perhaps he had seen him in passing. The gods knew how many people the merchant must have met over the course of his wicked life.

  13. Reynar_Tedros Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 3, 2006
    star 6
    IC: Merek Therosis
    City of Men, Eastern Manrenthain, North Eastern Callanthorith

    Startled, the contact known as Borelanor turned on his heel and reached for the dagger he kept at his belt. He drew it quickly, and waved it threateningly at Merek. "Who're you?" Borelanor growled. "How'd you know to find me here?"

    Merek's face remained stoic and emotionless, though Borelanor couldn't have noticed if he was frowning or if his face looked like a Picasso painting, for the hood of his long white cloak that flowed silently behind him in the calm breeze concealed his face completely.

    The assassin took a step forward and began to roam about the room, never taking his shielded eyes off of the man before him. His arms hung lifeless at his sides, and not even Superman could hear the inaudible sound of his footsteps. He spoke not a word, but all the while he was instilling fear into the contact. Merek had to be fearful, he had to be enigmatic, for that was how he earned his respect. No one would cross him because of his actions. They were too frightened.

    "You know what I'm here for," he said, his cold and emotionless voice just as chilling as his appearance. That was all he would say for the time being. That was all that was necessary. Little did Borelanor know that Merek Therosis was not there for the money. He had unfinished business that needed fulfilling. He had a hole in his heart to fill.

    Tag: LSA
  14. LightSide_Apprentice Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 22, 2001
    star 4
    Reynar_Tedros

    Late Hours of the Morning (Midday in Manrenthain)

    City of Men, Eastern Manrenthain, North Eastern Callanthorith

    There was no telling who the man was, really. Borelanor thought he saw a face beneath that hood, but whatever he caught sight of was concealed within the dark folds of the man's overhead garment. Despite that, or perhaps because of it, the uneasiness within the merchant remained. Borelanor was not entirely sure who he was dealing with, and that raised all sorts of concerns.

    "You're here for the contract," he reasoned. His eyes narrowed as he watched the mysterious stranger roam about the room. It was easy enough to gaze upon the man when there was no sign of the being's eyes, though it did not ease Borelanor's nerves in the slightest. "Ten silver pieces - that's what I'm offering. The target is William Wentworth, one of the Knights of Manrenthain."

  15. Reynar_Tedros Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 3, 2006
    star 6
    IC: Merek Therosis
    City of Men, Eastern Manrenthain, North Eastern Callanthorith

    "You're here for the contract," Borelanor reasoned. His eyes narrowed as he watched Merek roam about the room. It was easy enough to gaze upon the man when there was no sign of the being's eyes, though it did not ease Borelanor's nerves in the slightest. "Ten silver pieces - that's what I'm offering. The target is William Wentworth, one of the Knights of Manrenthain."

    Merek clenched his right fist as he heard the target's name. All those years...

    "I could care less about how much you're offering," Merek said, revealing more emotion than he had in a long, long time. "Tell me where to find this man."

    Merek was ready to extract his blades if Borelanor offered any sort of denial.

    "Da...ddy!"

    "Nooooooo!!!"


    His eyes began to water. Vengeance would be his.

    Tag: LSA
  16. LightSide_Apprentice Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 22, 2001
    star 4
    Reynar_Tedros

    Midday in Manrenthain

    City of Men, Eastern Manrenthain, North Eastern Callanthorith

    Few assassins cared little for the coin they were paid. That this stranger appeared somewhat disinterested, if not entirely indifferent, to the bounty was among the many unusual qualities he displayed. Were Borelanor a more intelligent being, he might have given a second thought to engaging in business with present company. But, he wanted the Knight dead. The assassin would go a long way to making that happen.

    In the unlikely event that the stranger fell short of success, well, Borelanor did not worry so much about that. If he saved some silver in the process, so much the better. Perhaps he would strike upon a thread of good fortune and the assassin would succeed, and manage to die in the process. The very thought brought a wicked smile to the merchant's face. Certain twists of fate simply required a guiding hand.

    "You can find the man within the Palace," the merchant said. "He serves there as one of the guards." He slipped his hands into his pockets, and supressed his smile of confidence. "I have reason to believe he may be out on patrol in the next two days. Some trouble at the Kingdom's borders, I'm told."

  17. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    OOC: Characters and opening post approved by GM.

    Name: Kensukiro Atsukai
    Age: Mid-thirties
    Race: Human
    Gender: Male
    Homeland: The land of Karuto, across the sea
    Profession: Warlord
    Bio: He is the Chosen of his people, one of two twins marked by destiny for the greatness of the Karutan people. His narrow, almond-shaped eyes are dark, his skin golden, his shoulder-length hair black as obsidian. A long scar cuts its way from his temple to his cheek. His blade, Iss-hogai, Sunset, has been his since his early days. He united the people of Karuto beneath his blood-red banners in a campaign of war carried on from his late father, the Sunset Warrior. Now the Karuto people are reaching across the sea to take their destiny in Manrenthain. And Kensukiro's hatred for the land he proposes to conquer knows no bounds.

    Name: Saigo Kuliya
    Age: Early fifties
    Race: Human
    Gender: male
    Homeland: The land of Karuto, across the sea
    Profession: Bird trader
    Bio: Saigo Kuliya is a small, genteel man with a thin lock of prematurely grey hair on an otherwise bald head. He has been operating his small store in Quandalore for about twelve months. It is a place for pet birds, and Saigo has travelled extensively through the land of Manrenthain, north to the darkling marches, and west to the borders of faerie, capturing rare and exotic birds. Saigo is quite accommodating to any customers he finds.



    IC - Kensukiro Atsukai

    Shoreline, the Blade Cliffs, Southwestern Callanthorith

    The day had greyed over. Here and there, thin shafts of light sheared through dark, brooding cloud, glinting down on the hundred-and-fifty-foot heights of the Blade Cliffs, turning their sharstone walls silver in the fading light. The Sea of Souls, dotted with thrusting formations of bared rock, churned and murmured restlessly around it, throwing itself onto the white sands of the shores at the foot of the Cliffs.

    Kensukiro Atsukai scanned the clifftops for a long moment with dark, thin eyes, then turned contemptuously away. He was not impressed by the beauty. Instead he was pleased. The tide was slowly going out, and the majority of his forces had safely landed. The withdrawal of the tide was creating a wider patch of sand for the forty thousand footmen and cavalry he had brought ashore.

    Not that they would need the patch of sand for long; the muted chaos of the beach landing was steadily declining as his dark-clothed, grim warriors formed themselves into columns and began their march to the northwest, towards the break in the cliff line and the wide, inviting patch of rolling hills that lay several leagues distant.

    "My lord khanten?"
    Kensukiro turned back at the question to the four men riding up to him. Each wore fur-lined helmets, padded armour, and a long fur-gripped bow across their backs. His four commanders; each one strong and quick-witted, each commanding ten thousand, one mark, of the army he had brought onto this shore. Luki, the man who had spoken, reigned his horse in. He bowed his head respectfully as Kensukiro's gaze fell upon him.
    "There is word from the priests' caravan, my lord. The fukhagi humbly request my lord's presence."
    "Very well." There was no hesitation in the khanten's reply; was he not the Chosen of Karuto's gods as much of its people? He looked at two of the other commanders. "Shoden; Dairogin. When your marks reach the hillsides, deploy in a defensive perimeter and send scouts out; a three-mile radius. And have keensighted men on those clifftops. If someone comes by sea they will meet us. Luki, your force into position behind them and commence fortification of the encampment. Suliko--I will need your force encircling the civilian encampment, on the shoreline."
    "Your will, khanten," they replied in unison, and scattered like a covey of departing hawks.

    Kensukiro, meanwhil
  18. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    IC - Saigo Kuliya

    Early morning, City of Quandalore, Western Callanthorith

    The cries of the bread-sellers woke Saigo, as they had every day since he had been here. The small man rose slowly from his flat, thin bed, sipping from the water bowl he kept by his bed. In the front room of his small store, the sigerhawks sensed his movement and began to rustle in their cages, while the pigeons in the cages on the floor of his bedroom cooed softly.

    Saigo got to his feet. And performed the series of exercises that would have appeared strange to any person who knew the little exotic bird merchant on Bull Lane. His body moved in graceful, smooth arcs and lines, hands turning in open palms and closed fists, his body not so much swaying on its feet but flowing as if he were submerged in water. At length, Saigo took a deep breath and ended the movements, dressing quickly in his light robes, and chewing on the wheat germ that passed for his morning meal.

    He crouched at the foot of his bed and lifted the thin tatami mat. Beneath lay a small wooden plate, set into the floor. Saigo put the bed aside for a moment and opened the plate, drawing out several items from within. A thin, finely-crafted line of shiegtwine, light as a hair, unbreakable as steel; a palmful of rounded disc shapes (though he was supremely careful not to touch the edges); three small orinshi,--smoke bombs; and two light throwing daggers. As it was drawn, each item disappeared into the folds of Saigo's robes, but each within an inch or two of his hands. Saigo replaced the wooden plate, pushed the bed back into place, and frowned over the marks on the floor of the room until he was satisfied the movement had left no trace.

    The bird merchant stood and moved into the front of the store, where half a dozen birds trilled their welcome as he ran his hands across the tops of their bamboo cages. He had always been fond of keeping birds, since he was a young boy, long before he had ever commenced their sale ... he located a small iridonis, a tiny, azure blue bird, chittering in a small cage made of dwarf bamboo that Saigo had crafted with his own hands. The bird was a delivery to a guardsman of Quandalore, who was due to marry later in the month. He was seeking a bridegift for his wife; the iridonis was perhaps the smallest and most affordable of those avians he had.

    Saigo stopped to pick up a gnarled walking stick which stood close by the door to his bedroom. He gripped the stick one-quarter of the way up its length and gave the most subtle of twists. The bottom three-quarters of the stick dropped away from the top quarter, and there was a metallic hiss as the glint of steel sparked off the windows. Saigo drew the sword-cane from its disguised sheath, marvelling once more at the crafting. The gods of Karuto had ensorcelled this blade; thin and light though it was, it had as much strength in the steel as many of the crude long swords Saigo had seen in Quandalore. Sit-ghan was its name; the Needle. It had no handguard.
    But Saigo rarely needed one.

    The exotic bird seller returned Needle to its sheath, picked up the iridonis's cage, and picked up the triangular reed hat he favoured on hot days such as this. Saigo shuffled out the front door of his store. He locked the door behind him and started up Bull Lane, tapping his walking stick slowly as he moved, considering his path to the guardhouses of Quandalore, the Merchant City.

    TAG: LightSide_Apprentice, anyone in the city of Quandalore...
  19. LightSide_Apprentice Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 22, 2001
    star 4
    Saintheart

    After Dawn

    Shoreline, the Blade Cliffs, South Western Callanthorith

    A fisherman's life was not a cruel one so much as it was a life pulled by the strings of Fate. Some said that the gods pulled those very strings--the fortunes of man, and other creatures throughout the world, and its surrounds. Whether the gods controlled Fate, or left it to its own devices, none lived to tell for certain. Cronal was one such fisherman, and he believed that Fate was beyond the control of any single being, even the mighty gods.

    He was camped at the top of the Blade Cliffs where he picked at his recent catch. The fish tasted best when prepared over an open fire. Cronal's only regret was that he could not have enjoyed more pleasant surroundings. Witness to the arrival of a foreign fleet, Cronal saw firsthand the destruction caused by the Karutans, though he knew not yet of their name, or culture. His meal, while of sufficient quantity, failed to satisfy.

    There were so many foreigners that Cronal could refer to them not as visitors, but only as invaders. They came with a mighty fleet, bearing an army strong enough to threaten the free kingdoms of Callanthorith. The fisherman hardly ate his meal. Instead he set it aside as he stared.

    He saw nothing of the merchant ships and wagons that once filled the shoreline. Like a dark wave, the invaders swept across the beach until they swallowed it whole in their presence. And, then, without breaking stride, columns of armed men poured forth up the shoreline, toward the lands beyond.

    Cronal caught view of some of the scouts that were sent out. Though he was far enough from them to avoid danger, he knew they were just as likely to spot him, as he had been to glimpse their approach. He set his food aside, and headed back to his shelter. The Blade Cliffs were no longer safe.



    Saintheart

    After Dawn

    Quandanlore, Central Callanthorith

    Humans were certainly aplenty within the Merchant City. While they were among the majority, there were stranger, more diverse beings to be found than humans alone. Saigo spotted a glowing ball of light fly past him with such speed he imagined it might have been a trick of the rising sun; he saw the familiar form of a Knight from the distant human city of Manrenthain, more heavily armoured than the modest guards normally patrolling the Trade City.

    Among some of the stranger visitors to the city was a being clad so thickly in fur that it was impossible to identify gender, or species at all. It must have been the first time Saigo spotted such a sight. More familiar to his eyes were the scantily clad men and women from some primitive tribes, the occasional elf, dwarf, and even their regional counterparts who, though similar in form and appearance, were of quite different cultures and manner.

    Saigo reached the western guardhouse as the sun crept past the distant horizon. He was greeted by one of the humans stationed there. "Good morning," said the man, as he stepped into the city proper. "May the sun warm your skin, and the clouds wash your thirst with rain."

    From within the guardhouse called the voice of another man. "I bid you patience, I shall not keep you long." The man was the same Saigo met earlier; soon to be married the guardsman had approached Saigo with an interest in purchasing an azure bird. When he exited the guardhouse to meet the salesman, it was with an expectant smile, but not an ungrateful one.

    />
  20. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    IC - Saigo Kuliya

    After dawn, Quandanlore, Central Callanthorith

    As he was waiting for the guard to arrive, Saigo contemplated the sights he had witnessed. The knight, as they seemed to call such a warrior, came to mind first. He would have been an impressive figure to the peasantry, Saigo conceded; one could only imagine the fear such a figure would create charging down a farmer or petty thief on horseback, lance lowered and forty pounds of armour providing solid protection against the hurled rock or pitchfork. But the Karutese had seen their share of armoured warriors over the endless years of war, too -- as had Karutese peasants.

    Those peasants had not simply accepted the superiority of men such as these 'knights'. They had developed ways of dealing with them instead -- ways that focused on using the very metal of their armour against them. Such armour usually had to be shaped to the wearer, and was effective against decent clubs or edged swords. However, if one was using a pick or other heavy-pointed device, the armour often pierced and, better still, the armour itself would push back into the knight's own wound -- holding and tearing the wound further open, aggravating his torment. The same principle of piercing applied to the use of arrows against such armour ... and a decent Karutese archer could put twelve arrows into the air in the space of one minute. Saigo had seen battles where the sun would dim from the cloud of arrows obscuring it.

    Saigo was surprised to see the knight here, though. In his travels he'd been under the impression that the knights of Manrenthain kept closer to home. It troubled him -- but also reassured him, for the knight seemed to be alone rather than riding in company. Which suggested they were not in great numbers here.
    So much the better.

    And it was equally reassuring to see that the knights appeared the highpoint of military discipline and equipment here. The guardsmen he'd seen around -- much like the one walking towards him now -- didn't have the same quality of equipment as the knights. They tended much more towards chain mail or leather armour, coupled with long shield, long sword and spear. Of course, the situation might be somewhat different if it came to war, but Saigo doubted it. Quandalore was a merchant city, and merchants usually were tight with their money until the need was right upon them.

    Saigo bowed deeply to the guardsman who had offered him greetings, and stood to await the younger man. The bird merchant took the measure of the guardsman as he arrived: his helmet and armour well-polished, his tunic clean ... but his shoes were fraying, and the hose and other garments he wore had clearly the look of poverty to them. The Karutese merchant smiled gently, lifting the caged iridonis for the guardsman to see. "This one has found that you seek," said Saigo, his accent gently bending his words. "Many hours of patience it required, but I have obtained the same."

    Saigo let the proper amount of compassion for the young man's apparent financial state to slip into his voice. "I ... presume ... you have been able to locate the funds with which to pay for this little azure miracle?"

    TAG: LightSide_Apprentice

    IC - Kensukiro Atsukai

    Early morning

    Blade Cliffs, Southwestern Callanthorith


    "My lord khanten -- word from the camps. Your will is achieved; Shoden and Dairogin's marks are deployed in defensive configuration, Luki continues the fortification of the encampment, and Suliko stands ready to defend the civilians, should the need arise." The messenger took a breath. "Shoden reports one of the scouts has encountered a native fisherman, although he could not be captured at that point."

    Kensukiro nodded. "He does not need to be. We will deal with the natives soon enough. Send word that three scouts are to trail the fisherman back to his shelter, or village. They are not to enga
  21. LightSide_Apprentice Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 22, 2001
    star 4
    Saintheart

    After Dawn

    Quandanlore, Central Callanthorith

    A bright smile illuminated the watchman's face. He was so overjoyed at the sight of the blue bird that he clapped his hands and rubbed them together excitedly. "You brought me the prize I so dearly wanted," the young man said. "I shall repay you as we agreed." And, with that, he reached into the purse at his belt, and withdrew in his palm a handful of copper, and silver coins. These coins he held out with his right hand. With his left, he reached for the cage. "I do hope the beauty did not trouble you terribly so," he said, eyes turning from the bird to Saigo.

    The guardsman who passed the salesman initially glanced toward them with curiosity. "A fine specimen," commented the older man. "Might I ask where it was to be found?"

    Keen to purchase the delicate creature, the younger man gave little mind to the other guard. His eyes were all but locked and tied to the object he hoped would please his beloved. "I am grateful to you, friend," he said to the merchant, though the guardsman hardly gazed away from the avian. "Perhaps you will come to our wedding celebration?"



    Saintheart

    Late Morning

    Shoreline, the Blade Cliffs, South Western Callanthorith

    It was late into the morning, a few hours short of midday when word reached Kensukiro from each of his scouts. The three who returned from tracking the fisherman discovered a large village on the edge of the Cliffs, just east of the beach. Further east was a smaller cluster of shelters, but little else. Other scouts confirmed that a dense forest lay to the west, with little in the way of settlements in its vicinity.

    One of the three spoke up upon his return. "My lord, khanten," he began slowly, "these people are weak, and their numbers no match for our own. Yet word of our arrival travels quickly. There are travellers along the road, and wagons. Some might already be on their way to Quandanlore with news of our presence."


    Meanwhile, Cronal set to keeping within his shelter. There was little hope for him should the invaders seek to attack him. He was afraid, and knew not what else to do. So, he remained hidden and hoped that his shelter would go unnoticed.

    />
  22. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    IC - Saigo

    After dawn, Guardhouse, Quandalore, Central Callanthorith

    Saigo bit his tongue, hesitating, as the guardsman issued the invitation to his wedding. He had come here with a different purpose for the guardsman's gratitude, but this was something else again. A wedding, no less. And who might come to a guardsman's wedding but other guards and men similarly connected to the real workings of the city? It was unlikely any great lord of the city might turn up--but then, Saigo had more use for men such as the guardsmen standing before him.

    Realising the guards were looking at him, the bird merchant released his hold on the cage, letting the small bird go into the guardsman's hands. He covered his thoughts with a bow of gratitude, resting both hands on the walking stick he carried with him.
    "Good sir, you do me much honour even for a bird," he said to the younger guard, then glanced towards the older man. "It took me many hours to trap the iridonis. They are not native to this area; I was most surprised to find one only three hours north of the city. Normally one only finds them on the borders of the faerie realm, far to the east. At least, that is where I have found others in the past."

    Saigo looked back towards the young man again. He smiled in the correct way and took a couple of steps forward, reaching out and closing the young man's hand around his own coins. "Keep your coin, my friend. You invite me to a wedding, and that shall be payment enough. The taxes of the merchants who run this city leave little enough for a man to purchase a decent wedding for his beloved. It would be wrong of me to ask you for more. I shall be at your wedding with great pleasure."

    TAG: LightSide_Apprentice

    IC - Kensukiro

    Late Morning, the Blade Cliffs, South Western Callanthorith

    The khanten nodded. "Send word to Dairogin's mark: I shall need eight hundred of his troop. Two hundred light cavalry, two hundred heavy infantry, two hundred foot archers, and two hundred horse archers. Let the word go out that I shall be going with them to this village you speak of; that should please them. Dairogin is also to assign a further hundred heavy horse and a hundred horse archers to intercepting any travellers and wagons moving along any roads in the vicinity. Kill every person you find. Recover the wagons and bring them back to the civilian encampment. As for the shelters you have found ... have them burned, and kill every inhabitant you may find there."

    Kensukiro turned to his bodyguard. "My horse!" he called.

    TAG: LightSide_Apprentice

    OOC: Yeah, short, but I'm busy ... :D




  23. LightSide_Apprentice Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 22, 2001
    star 4
    Saintheart

    Midday

    Quandanlore, Central Callanthorith

    If the joy and suprise of the youthful guard was unexpected, then so, too, must have been the reaction from the senior. Both guardsmen were quite taken aback by the generosity of the merchant. For his part, the younger man laughed with complete sincerity and a great degree of relief. He'd not expected to acquire such a gift without significant cost.

    "Thank you," he said to Saigo. "Thank you so very much." He stepped forward to hug the bird saleman, but stopped short as he brought the avian close to his heart. "My beloved will be so overjoyed!" Still grinning, he headed back into the guardhouse, though not before he called out once more. "I shall see you at my wedding!"

    The senior guard meanwhile offered the merchant a slight nod of respect. "You're a kind man," he said, referring to the merchant's gesture. "Too few seem unconsumed with their own, often selfish ends." The guard held the merchant's gaze for a few precious moments before he resumed his rounds along the city wall.



    Saintheart

    Midday

    Shoreline, the Blade Cliffs, South Western Callanthorith

    Kensukiro rode with some eight hundred troops in tow. He reached the village before midday, taking note of its size and proximity to Quandanlore. While small by his homeland's standards, Kensukiro's scouts reported that it was the largest settlment within their immediate surroundings, just short of Quandanlore itself. Two hundred light cavalry alone were likely enough to overrun the enemy's numbers. Yet in addition to those, Kensukiro held at his command a further two hundred heavy infrantry, two hundred foot archers, and two hundred horse archers.

    The village was relatively small, and comprised of no more than thirty dwellings, more than half of which were likely houses for its residents. The others were workshops, taverns, inns, or other such establishments required for its continued indepedence from surrounding cities.


    Meanwhile, at Dairogin's order, an assorted mass of horseman moved to intercept any wagons and travellers moving between the surrounding roads, particularly on route to The Trade City. By the time mid afternoon approached, they had massacred scores of civilians and guard patrols alike. Wagons and supplies were recovered from those persons, items, vechicles, and shelters that were not razed or burned, and brought back to the civilian encampment near the beach. There, they waited for Kensukiro's return, or further word of their next orders.

    />
  24. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    OOC: I think I'm enjoying roleplaying far too much. My wrists are hurting from all the typing I'm doing on the SWRPG, NSWRPG, and Resource forums ... and to think I'm only in three RPGs including this one and GMing one ...

    IC - Saigo Kuliya

    Noon, Quandanlore, Central Callanthorith

    The bird merchant smiled appropriately as the young man departed, and bowed in reply to the older guardsman's words. Saigo was pleased with this turn of events.
    "We have a saying among my people," said Saigo as the older guardsman looked at him. "The tiger may kill the deer, but do they not drink from the same waters?" He smiled. "The Way of Generous Skies has always been mine, friend. And it is well to be happy when one is young. Your young friend is so entranced by his bride he has even forgotten to tell me when and where his wedding will be held." Saigo let an endearing chuckle escape his lips. "I should be most grateful if you could tell me when it is!"

    The merchant smiled and drew the end of his walking stick in small circles on the ground. "True it is that few are concerned with the welfare of all," he noted. "You men of the guard would seem to be part of that few. And what word from Quandanlore's shield? Is the Lady well?"

    The Lady was a term Saigo had heard used by the merchants of the city in reference to the city wall that surrounded Quandanlore; just as often were the toasts sometimes given in honour of The Lady. Saigo had heard the phrase often enough, and understood its reference, but he had yet to discover what the history of the phrase was. Perhaps the guard could tell him that as well as disclose something of the city's defences.

    TAG: LightSide_Apprentice

    IC - Kensukiro

    Midday

    A Village, The Blade Cliffs Area, southwestern Callanthorith


    Kensukiro reigned his horse in momentarily. He and his bodyguard were on a slight rise above the small village his scouts had located, about eight hundred metres away from the most outlying hut. The place was clearly occupied; there was smoke rising from some of the chimneys below and the khanten could see a child or two run from one door to another.

    It reminded him of Jubei.

    In spite of himself, Kensukiro touched the scar on his face and wondered again how it could have occurred. It had been the last day of the campaign; the Ikamagi had thrown themselves back against Mount Dukiyama, trying to stop the inevitable, as Kensukiro's marks had moved inexorably into position. They had refused surrender, and on the dawn the khanten would allow his army to flood in and have the surfeit of killing that would make him master of the Karutese continent. It had been, quite literally, the eve of victory.

    An eve for two brothers, but a victory that would be shared by only one.

    Kensukiro had still ridden out the next day, even with his twin missing and presumably riding hard for the hills. Their father, the Sunset Warrior, had declared that there could only be one ruler in Karuto, and so it was Kensukiro became the one ruler.

    But there were still memories of other duels they had fought; duels between two ten-year-old boys, fought with heavy ash sticks, beating each other until the bruises rose and the cries of battle were silent. He still could not understand why Jubei had betrayed him.

    "This will be our stand," he said suddenly, banishing the memories. "Draw the archers up in a rank on the crest of this hill. Heavy infantry are to screen the archers, between the archers and the village. Horse archers on the plain parallel with the infantry. Light cavalry ..." Kensukiro considered for a moment more. "A hundred among the horse archers."
    "What of the remaining cavalry, my lord?" asked his subcommander.
    "They ride with me and my bodyguard," replied Kensukiro.

    As the orders were carried out, Kensukiro rode with his bodyguard of twenty men, each armed with shields, and the h
  25. LightSide_Apprentice Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 22, 2001
    star 4
    Saintheart

    Midday

    Quandanlore, Central Callanthorith

    The older guard paused at Saigo's word. "We have a saying among my people," the merchant began. "The tiger may kill the deer, but do they not drink from the same waters?" It was an odd saying, one that the guard wondered about. But, the merchant continued speaking, forcing the time for reflection aside.

    Mere moments later the merchant politely asked where it was that the younger guard's wedding was to be held, and when. To which the older guard responded, "I believe celebrations will be held two days from now, within the City Hall. I suspect many will be in attendance." There was no need to add that many of the other guards would also be present as they were among the groom's closest friends.

    Seeming to take all of this in, the merchant smiled and drew the end of his walking stick in small circles on the ground. "True it is that few are concerned with the welfare of all," he noted. "You men of the guard would seem to be part of that few. And what word from Quandanlore's shield? Is the Lady well?"

    Raising a curious eyebrow, the guardsman offered the mercahnt a sideward glance. 'The Lady' was a term used among the City Guard in reference to the wall that surrounded Quandanlore. It was not often referred to as such among the common people. "She holds strong and true," the guard said, confident in his words and the defence of the Trade City.



    Saintheart

    Midday

    Small Village, Near the Blade Cliffs, South Western Callanthorith

    Surrounding the village with numbers great enough to render it ruined was a small army unlike the region had seen in many years. Kensukiro led the mass of soldiers as if preparing for war. He soon had his men positioned to destroy the village and those within its shelters as he prepared to offer its people one last chance at keeping their lives.

    The warlord drew up at the outskirts of the village, his bodyguard moving around him in a wall of shields. Kensukiro raised his voice, his powerful basso tone ringing across the village, conditioned from a thousand shouts on a thousand battlefields in his past. "I speak to the rulers of this village!" he shouted. "You will present yourselves now! You will be given one chance! Surrender and become my thralls, or be annihilated!"

    A full minute passed before a lone man walked out from the village. Several others remained clustered behind him, as if in fear for their own lives as much of their apparent leader's. That man approached Kensukiro hesitantly. When at last he was within several metres of the warlord, the villager said, "We mean you no harm or trouble. Please, do not destroy our homes or harm our people."

    Even as he said the words he caught sight of a blackened smoke rising toward the sky. Several other houses or smaller settlements must have been destroyed and burned to the ground already. He hoped to avoid a similar fate for both himself and his family.



    Saintheart, you can never enjoy yourself too much ;) But, at least it is a sign that you still carry the joy and love for role playing that I know many of us here share.
    />/>
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