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Edric

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Sene - Cortos

Edric stood stunned for a few seconds.

He had never quite seen anything like this, had never thought he would have the opportunity to. Vel Anir had it's palaces of course. The great manors owned by the Houses, the huge halls kept by the richest merchants and members of the King's court. Yet he'd never quite thought that he would ever step foot inside of them.

Before the Revolution he had thought of Dreadlord's as soldiers, had thought himself destined for the battlefield. Even after everything that had happened he had never thought himself destined to see something like this.

It was a marvel of engineering. A wonder.

The Palace of the Doge here in Sene was built almost entirely of quarried marble imported from the East. Every stone had been carefully carved, every nook and cranny planned for. It was an utter wonder, and Edric couldn't help but feel strangely out of place. There was a discomfort he felt, standing here, even though he knew that it was his duty.

"Hey. Close your mouth."

Talea said, leaning over to Edric and nudging him hard in the ribs.

The young initiate seemed to snap out of it as his friend pressed him, lips almost immediately turning into a scowl. His gaze flickered to her, a grunt escaping him as he returned his attention to the Ambassador.

That was why they were here after all, him and the other Initiates. The New Republic had sent an Ambassador to meet with the Doge of Sene, an attempt to build relations with the Free Cities of Cortos. Edric knew next to nothing about politics, but he'd practically jumped at the chance to go on this mission. It had been an opportunity to get out of the Academy, a chance to fight.

Though so far it had been about as boring as humanly possible.

Edric was still waiting for something, anything at all to happen. Yet it seemed that he would be terribly disappointed. For the last half hour alone they had been standing at the same doorway, watching the same boring conversation. He was beginning to doubt anything would happen at all.
 
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Noel

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Noel knew almost everything about politics. Or at least, she thought she did.

After all, she paid attention to the lessons at the academy and had aced every history class since she was five. According to the Proctors most of the free cities of Cortos envied Vel Anir. They looked at the great nation-state of humanity with envy and admiration the way a child looks up to their father. Although, that was a metaphor that Noel didn't entirely understand either.

Regardless, the honor of being one of four initiates to accompany the ambassador here to Sene absolutely flattered her. Getting to see a foreign land, getting to witness an ambassador of the new Republic work their magic, and getting to conduct her duties alongside someone as talented as Initiate Fermin was a reward unto itself.

Of course, the downside was that she was having to be part of this expedition with Talea.

Noel could stomach Edric. He could be annoying but he was undoubtedly talented and strong. Fermin she practically looked up to. But Talea? Talea was the one student in the entire academy that Noel felt threatened by. The girl could simply touch you and the fight was over. She'd win.

However, the dynamics of two girls and two boys on a trip like this didn't end just because of rivalries.

"Yeah, if you keep staring like that people in Cortos are going to think Anirians are fish." She said in agreement with Talea.
 
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Edric

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A scowl pulled at Edric's lips, his scoff loud enough that it nearly threatened to echo in the grand hall. "Like either of you aren't impressed."

The Initiate contended.

It was rare that Edric felt small. He had lived his whole life striving to prove that he was the best, that he was worthy. The fact that standing here now, in the revel of what was supposed to have been a reward, Edric felt so strange didn't sit right with him.

His shoulders seemed to square, his back stiffening. Arms crossed over his chest and he tried to ignore the weight of his leather armor which somehow seemed heavier.

"I agree, Ed. This place is amazing. I could stare at the ceiling all day."

It was Fermin who spoke up, Edric's gaze flickering over to the tall redhead for just a brief moment. The scowl on his face deepened. He had a sort of rivalry with the other boy, or rather, he thought he had a rivalry with him. Fermin always seemed one step ahead, one move into the future.

The two of them sparred often, with Fermin winning more often than not. It was a constant point of frustration, one that rankled him to no end. All made worse by the fact that he still did not know what Fermin's magic was, no one did save for the Proctors.

After the Revolution such secrets had slowly slipped away. People's talents had been revealed one way or another, but Fermin's remained nothing but rumor.

What made it even worse was the fact that Fermin was nice. The bastard didn't even have the decency to be an ass about it. Edric was pretty sure the boy considered him a friend. Dick.

"See, Noel?" He glanced towards his fellow Initiate. "Fermin's impressed."

His gaze turned back towards the Ambassador, watching as the man stood up from the comfortable chair he'd been sitting in and began to make his way back towards the Initiate Dreadlords. "Means any moment now you should probably tell us how amazing you think the frescoes are."

Edric quickly bit, getting in one last dig before the Ambassador returned.
 
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Noel

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Alright, it was true, the palace was mesmerizing to behold. Each angle of the marble was clearly handcrafted and molded for a purpose. The carvings would seem to go off on tangents only to rejoin the rest of the architecture in perfect symmetry.

And hearing Fermin confess it made it all the easier for Noel to agree.

He had to be the highest ranked member of their class who's power was still a mystery. Students would often trade whispers and gossip after training sessions with him trying to decipher just what exactly his magic specialty was. From all they could tell he didn't even appear to have any magical talents yet he routinely would best them in hand-to-hand combat.

"This place is beautiful," Talea added.

"It's absolutely breathtaking, but we have a certain decorum to maintain."

Noel was quick to point out in an effort to defend her earlier rebuke. "Of course Fermin is impressed but he isn't embarrassing the academy or Vel Anir by, oh, just forget it." Cheeks went a bit pink as she showed a rare moment of embarrassment.

She always got like this in situations that involved Fermin but she could never figure out why she wanted his approval so often. Perhaps it was because of how talented he was in combat.

"The frescoes are," Noel stopped herself once she recognized how close the Ambassador had gotten, "sir, do you need anything?" The dark-haired initiate stood to attention, stiffening her back and staring at him with an intense look of eagerness.

"No," he said glancing up-and-down at his four Initiate bodyguards. "We're to meet with the Doge in a few moments. Just stay close but not too close, as we discussed." He gave each of them a once over for a second time. The proctors had insisted they wear their full dress kits which meant Noel didn't get to bring as much platinum with her as she'd have liked. Foregoing her metal armor pieces for decorated leathers that looked identical to her three classmates. And, on more than one occasion, the Ambassador had gone to each of them to brush off dust or shine a smug he claimed was there.

Turning to head towards the hallway the Ambassador stopped and twisted his head back to address them again, "one more thing, if they offer you oeuvres d'heures accept them. But only one serving." Another rule of proper etiquette added to the growing list that the Ambassador had already briefed them on for this encounter.
 
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Edric

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Edric had to bite his tongue to keep from laughing at Noel.

He glanced over towards Talea, but the only reaction he received was a shake of the head and quick look of disapproval. Lips thinned almost the instant he saw it, shoulders rolling as though he had absolutely no idea what she could be upset about.

Face went blank as the Ambassador approached, his eyes glancing towards the man.

He was the dour sort. A kind of person that never seemed to be fully happy unless things went completely his way. Edric watched him carefully as he addressed Noel, noting the expression he wore as he mentioned the Doge and all the etiquette that would be required of them.

Edric tried to commit them to memory, if only because no such thing had ever been mentioned at the Academy.

"Of course, My Lord."

Talea offered as she fell into step behind the Ambassador, the others quickly following behind her.

Edric frowned for a moment, moving along the hallway as they headed towards the grand hall. "There's more rules to this than that fucking dance the Proctors held for us a few months ago."

He whispered quietly to Noel, regurgitating that awful memory to the other Initiate.

Most of them were still trying to figure out whose idea that had been. A 'social' event thrown for a bunch of misfits and sociopaths. More than one request for a dance had nearly ended up in a shattered skull.
 
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Noel

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Noel stepped forward and found herself walking in step with Edric but just behind Talea. The finer points of etiquette the Ambassador had gone over were fun to memorize. Truthfully, she had wanted to take notes just in case there was a debrief when they returned to the academy.

Learning something new was always exciting, even if her training had focused less on education and more on martial skill in the past few years.

Plus these lessons about how highborns conducted business may be helpful one day. After she reached Archon. There’d be times when all of this etiquette would be useful after her tenure as an Archon began.

”Don’t remind me,” she answered Edric. They’d spent half a day learning ballroom dancing and getting fitted into outfits.

After the dance she had joined the others in commiserating how awful the experience was but Noel had, secretly, enjoyed parts of it too. Fantasizing about her future as one of the most powerful Dreadlords in Vel Anir and the various galas she’d get to attend. Of course, for the initial dance they’d paired students off, correctly estimating that most of the initiates wouldn’t willingly take to the dance floor unless it was required. And, almost as if the universe wanted to ruin the evening for her she was paired with…

”You stepped on me four times before the mandatory routine ended.”

She cast Edric a sly look before her face went serious and she added, ”this isn’t an academy event though, so I hope you paid more attention this time.”

In unison, Talea and Fermin turned to stare daggers. Though whether it was because they feared Edric had slacked or because Noel’s voice had carried too loudly she couldn’t be certain.
 
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Edric

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"Proctor Pallatrix had said it was like following Sword Stances." Edric said in his own defense, though he was practically scowling.

Mostly because the man had been wrong, and also because Edric hadn't practiced in the least.

The whole exercise has been stupid and humiliating. He hadn't been taken to the Academy for dancing, he was there to learn how to kill. Had it not been for the threat of more 'punishment' Edric would have blown the whole thing off.

Not that some of the Proctors had been exactly...happy about the whole thing. "I read the da-"

Edric cut himself off as both Fermin and Talea cast glowers back towards him. A shrug rolled over his shoulders, lips immediately sealing shut. Though he did allow a tight roll of his eyes.

Those two were like peas in a pod. His head shook, and his steps fell in unison with Noel.

Before long the palace began to somehow grow even more beautiful. Dozens of paintings, tapestries, and statues lined the corridors they walked along, most of it not even gold. There was an artistic beauty to this place, not an ostentatious show of wealth.

Edric had never seen anything like it, his eyes roaming even as they stepped into what could only be seen as a throne room.

It was not like others that the young Initiate imagined. There was no massive throne, no open space. Instead there was a small raised dais, a chair with an aging old man in it, and a half circle table that was arrayed in front of him.

The Ambassador stepped into the room first, Edric and the others following behind at the proper distance.

"My Lord, a pleasure to make your acquaintance."

As the man spoke he bowed deep, Edric and the other initiates quickly following suit.
 
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Noel

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Edric had always been impressive in sparring matches, going toe-to-toe with nearly everyone in the academy. It was why she respected him despite her jabs. But perhaps he was even less intelligent than Noel had assumed if he was asking Proctor Pallatrix for dancing lessons.

She kept her lips sealed but the uniform behavior displayed by Fermin and Talea tugged at her nerves. Why on Arethil did he tolerate the girl with possessing infection magic?

Thoughts didn’t linger very long as it appeared the group had entered some sort of extravagant museum. How was it that people lived here? Noel struggled to keep her head forward, her shoulders straight, as they continued down the exquisitely decorated corridor. Chestnut eyes dancing from side-to-side in an effort to take it all in. Remember the beauty of this place when she returned to the dreariness of the academy.

Once into the antechamber Noel couldn’t resist sizing the Doge of Sene up. He was old, frail, he didn’t pose any threat to the ambassador which eased her nerves.

Vel Anir’s ambassador greeted their host and bowed, which was her cue to practice what had already been rehearsed. Right-arm bent across her stomach, left arm held straight, a forward bow until the ambassador rose again. The four initiates, for any of the squabbling and drama earlier, performed in near perfect unison.

“Greetings,” the lord of Sene said, “I trust your accommodations are adequate.”

“They are wonderful my Lord, we appreciate your gracious hospitality.”

It went on like that for a bit. Pleasantries exchanged back-and-forth. Noel didn’t know much of the Radiant Church but she understood that this man before them was appointed by their priests to preside over Sene. And that they were here to facilitate trade or negotiate a defensive pact or something. The proctors, nor the Anirian state officials, felt much of a need to explain the purpose of the trip to them. Just that they were to follow the ambassador's orders and behave.

“And these are them?” Noel’s eyebrow inched up slightly as the Doge addressed the four initiates.

Quickly the ambassador replied, “yes, Dreadlords nearing graduation. Trained from birth to protect Vel Anir and her allies from foreign threats.”

At that, the holy man stood from his seat and rubbed at his chin. Eyeing each of the children up like cattle. He spoke after a long pause, “and so, if we can agree and reach a settlement two of these four will accompany the garrison that Vel Anir will provide us with?”

One of these four,” the ambassador corrected.

Noel’s face went hot as the hairs on the back of her neck stood up in concern.
 
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Edric

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Edric tensed almost immediately.

Out of the four of them he might have been the least intelligent, but he certainly wasn't an idiot. He knew exactly what the words meant, and knew exactly how it would undercut everything he had been working towards.

Talea and Fermin didn't seem to react at all. Their expressions were stoic stone, as though the conversation wasn't about being practically sold off. Edric was exactly the opposite. His fingers tightened into fists, his lips thinned.

He would be damned if he got stuck into a place like this.

Sene was nice, beautiful, but Edric had absolutely no interest in being a part of any garrison.

Teeth gnashed together, setting onto his tongue as he forced himself not to speak. The very thought that this could be a possibility was utterly absurd. With every passing moment the simple idea was just making him angrier and angrier.

"One, yes."​

The ambassador said with a nod.

"Well? What can they do then?"​

"They each have their own talents, your Grace. Dreadlords are naturally gifted. Here, allow them to demonstrate." The Ambassador slowly stepped to the side, then looked at the Initiates expectantly.
 
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Noel

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No.

This wasn’t happening.

There was no chance that Noel would ever be ok with this. Spending her entire life becoming better, becoming stronger, just to be used as a political pawn. A sweetener to bolster Vel Anir’s position with Cortos. How was she ever supposed to make Archon in this backwater city? Hell, forget Archon, she’d be stuck as a Third or Second level for the rest of her life if she was stationed here.

There was no need to worry though because it wouldn’t be her. It couldn’t be. Surely it’d be Talea, the academy had just sent the rest of them to accompany her. Or maybe it would be Edric. He seemed plenty expendable. Perhaps the academy and the guard were offering Fermin up, he was one of the best. Definitely wouldn’t be her.

The ambassador promised a demonstration, both men stared at the teenagers. Noel hadn’t cried publicly in years, it was a skill she had learned when she was eleven. But if not for her rigid training tears would have begun to flow in that moment.

Normally she was eager to display her skills. Rise to any challenge. In this brief moment of time she felt stiff, incapable of movement.

Fermin proved to be the bravest, or perhaps most foolish, of the four and moved first. “Mind the vase my Lord,” he said while taking two steps towards the Doge who then knocked his flowering vase off the curved table. In a flash the Dreadlord Initiate sprung forward and caught the thing before it shattered on the ground. The redheaded boy placed it back onto the table and smiled heartily at the Cortosi official.

“Marvelous,” replied the Doge.

“Why don’t you go next, child?” The ambassador stared directly at Noel as he suggested it.

Something less flashy. ”Yes, sir,” she pulled hairband off and manipulated the platinum inside to snake its way out of the loose fabric that covered it. The metals spun and twisted, growing thicker and forming the shape of a flower.

This was the first test in her life she didn’t want to pass.
 
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Edric

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"Very impressive."​

The Doge said his hand running along the underside of his chin, his gaze sweeping over Noel and the rings she floated through the air. A frown touched his lips for a moment, and then his gaze swept over towards Talea.

Somehow her expression remained entirely impassive, stepping forward even without a prompt. Her gaze flickered over towards the Ambassador for a moment, as if she was thinking something, and then she suddenly stepped forward and grabbed Fermin.

There was half a second, a pause. The other boy seemed to stiffen, and then a strange blackness crawled over the whites of his eyes.

"I believe this is an ample demonstration, Your Grace." It was Fermin who spoke, but his voice was not his own. He moved, mirroring Talea exactly, shifting, stepping as though the two were as one. "Or shall I demonstrate more?"

Edric could see the shutter drag through the Doge as he watched Talea and her puppet.

"N-no that's quite alright."​

Almost as soon as he said the words, Talea reached up and snapped her fingers. In an instant Fermin seemed to bow over, and vomited violently onto the floor. A splash of bile fell onto the floor, within it laying strange black slivers.

Dear fuck I keep forgetting how gross that is. Edric thought with a scowl, entirely forgetting that he was the last one.
 

Noel

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You could physically feel the goosebumps forming on her arms. Everything about Talea grated on Noel. Talea was equal to her in terms of raw combat skills. Talea’s magic received far more praise than Noel’s magic. Talea was prettier than Noel (a fact she swore Talea flaunted even if she did it subconsciously).

And that stench. The smell of vomit haunted her after the multitude of ways some of the Proctors used Talea’s magic on the initiates when they were children. The worst part of it was being a vehicle inside of your own body. It was the thing of nightmares the first time it happened, made all the worse when a Proctor instructed Talea to have you self-injure yourself. Then, as you came to and regained control of your body, you were met with a dizzying wave of nausea that, without fail, induced vomiting.

The reek reminded her of those days. She was just thankful Talea had chosen Fermin instead of herself.

Fermin, that’s right. Without even thinking she moved forwards and put a hand on his back, lifting him by his upper arm and keeping him steady as she walked him back to the lineup of students.

Noel cast a judging look at Talea for a brief second before she trained her gaze on Edric. It was his turn now.
 
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Edric

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Edric stood there for a few seconds, watching as Noel carried Fermin back towards the line. Talea turned back, her face a mask.

He had never minded Talea as much as the others had. She was nice, kind, and it helped that her magic had never once worked on him. The entropy of his magics simply negated Talea's abilities, rendering whatever allowed her to control others inert.

Never once had he felt the fear that Noel did. Only disgust for the after affects. "Edric."

It was the Ambassadors voice that snapped him out of it, his head immediately shooting up from the vomit upon the floor. A frown touched his features, head shaking for a moment as he snapped himself out of it and stepped out of line.

"Apologies, your grace." Edric said as he drew a knife from his belt.

He could see the Doge visibly tense for a moment, but the Initiate paid the man no mind. The blade spun within his hand, and then quickly sliced it across his wrist.

Almost instantly a sea of crimson flowed from the wound, cascading down onto the floor.

Edric's face remained a mask of steal, and then suddenly the flowers besides the Doge began to wilt. They curled in upon themselves, life fading away as Edric's wound was healed. When it was done he took a hand and swiped at where the cut had been just seconds before.
 
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Noel

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Her arms released Fermin once he had regained his footing and retaken his place in the line of Dreadlords. Noel stood between the two boys, with Talea on the far end beside Edric. It was from the close proximity that she could see the knife drawn from her fellow student’s belt. A swift slash and she already knew where this was heading.

Vegetation wilted, his injury subsided, and she wondered if that was his version of a less showy display too.

Regardless of whether or not every initiate had sandbagged the Doge displayed a look of impression. His face aglow with a mix of excitement and desire. She could see from the lines his mouth formed, the way his eyes narrowed, that he longed for more than just Sene. That he had ambitions and wanted more than Vel Anir was likely willing to offer.

“Wonderful. Spectacular.” The Doge clapped his hands together vigorously. “And you’re certain only one will accompany the garrison?”

A questioning eyebrow rose from the ambassador’s face. “The academy was quite adamant. However, exceptions can always be made. Perhaps we could discuss the particulars of the trade deal further and come to an arrangement? I’d need the ruling council of the Anirian Republic’s approval, of course, but I’m sure they could be persuaded if the terms Sene offers required two Dreadlords present to dissuade Amol-Kalit.”

Even sending one of them here was a nightmare. The thought that the ambassador was considering sending two was… well, it wasn’t good.

“Of course they’d need to graduate and become full fledged Dreadlords first. Perhaps they’d be more comfortable in the accommodations you set up for them while we discuss further?”

This isn’t happening, this isn’t happening, Noel reminded herself.
 
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Edric

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Edric was like a statue over the next few minutes.

He didn't move. He didn't say anything.

The Initiate was like one of Talea's puppets. A stoic expression held on his face as the Ambassador and Doge dismissed the Dreadlords to be. His features unreadable as a servant was brought in to lead them to their 'accommodations'.

There was no gawking at the art surrounding them, no peering at the art which Sene was so famous for. Edric walked forward like a zombie, following along with the others as though he did not have a mind of his own.

It was only when they stepped into the suite put aside for them that he spoke. Only when the servant closed the door that he finally let his fury unleash. "What in the fuck was that?!"

Edric shouted, voice loud enough to ring through the door that had only just been closed.

"We're being given away to this place!" Anger and rage rumbled over his tone. "I thought we were supposed to have freedom! CHOICE!"

His voice boomed, foot coming up to kick a stone plith. It shook, and then shattered as Edric sent it flying to the floor in a fury.
 
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Noel

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Thoughts flooded into her head as they marched back to the suite. How many of the proctors were even aware of this? It was ludicrous.

Rage boiled over, causing her to focus on every possible outcome until they reached their accommodations seemingly much quicker than the journey towards the antechamber.

It was Edric who spoke up first.

Noel understood it. Actually empathized with it. It wasn’t far from her own feelings. Still, a lifetime of training had built in certain disciplines and guards for highly emotional situations like this one.

”We knew our destiny was to serve s-so…” her chin quivered. Unable to finish the words as she simply stated at Edric. Her silence continued as her fellow initiate kicked one of the plinths in frustration.

Fermin turned to face the group, “it’s bullshit.” He seemed to agree with Edric and the feelings Noel harbored as well. Seeing the veneer peel away from the fiery haired boy was still a shock however.

Noel stared at all three, trying to reason a way out. ”M-maybe… what if it’s a test. They’re just testing us.” That had to be it. Just an elaborate test.
 
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Edric

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"This isn't a test!" Edric was practically seething.

This wasn't what he had imagined. This wasn't what he had wanted, or what he'd been promised. Lips thinned and he whirled away from the shattered statues. Bright blue eyes centered on Noel as she tried to reason through the situation.

"They've fucked us." He cursed. "Before we've even had a chance to do anything at all."

His gaze flickered towards Fermin. "They say we have more freedom, more independence, but we're just fucking pawns."

Edric's teeth clicked together.

"They don't care. Houses, Republic, whatever." He frowned, looking around the room as if searching for something. One could practically see the tension running through him, the chaotic force that drove him. "Fuck this."

He said with a shake of his head. "I'm not doing this."

"Edric."

It was Talea that spoke.

"Don't do anything stupid, we don't know the whole story. What's going to happ-"

"Fuck that!" Edric cursed, moving towards one of the windows. "I was raised to be a soldier. A killer. Not a babysitter."
 

Noel

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Typically, hearing a tirade like this would’ve driven Noel crazy. Particularly if it came from Edric.

Every word he said just made it all feel worse. One of them, maybe more, was going to be stuck here for the rest of their lives. And while Edric had already moved onto the anger stage of grief, Noel was still in denial.

Talea spoke up and for a second Noel thought the other girl would talk the hotheaded Initiate off the ledge. Until, of course, he cut her off and continued raising his voice in agitation. There were certainly parts of it that she could relate to though. It seemed like no matter who it was that ran Vel Anir they cared little for the students at the Dreadlord Academy. At least in the old system they’d pledge to a house before they were carted off to a backwater place like Sene.

At that moment it felt like they had less choice than ever.

”You don’t even know if it will be you,” she said, approaching the raging student at the window. ”It might be Fermin or Talea or,” Noel swallowed hard, ”me.” She regained some of her composure after saying it outloud. Admitting to the universe that yes, this was happening, and yes, my career could be over before it even begins.

”So, lower your voice and calm down.” Brushing a strand of hair behind one ear she tried to reason with him further, ”Listen to Talea. Don’t do anything foolish. We were asked to stay here s-”

“Fuck that. Edric is right.” Fermin joined the cluster of Dreadlords-in-training with a coy grin. “This place has to at least have some booze. Or some other trouble we can get into. Who knows, we cause enough mischief and they might just decide they don’t want a Dreadlord stationed here.”

It was completely out of character for the usually stoic Fermin. Noel was finding it harder to disagree with the two rebellious students the longer they spoke.
 
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Edric

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"That's the first smart thing you've ever said, Fer." Edric spoke as he stepped up to the window, eying the strange lock on the side of the pane. It was nothing like those in Vel Anir, and strangely enough seemingly required a key to open.

A flash of anger ran through him, the thought that they would have the audacity to lock them in. Of course never even considering that it might be there to keep intruders out.

In his current mood even common logic he'd been taught simply went out the window. "I'm getting the fuck out of here."

The Initiate growled, flipping his knife out once more and slipping it Into the lock. It jimmied from side to side for a moment, then a loud click seemed to echo out. His hand came up, and with a hard jerk he forced the window open. A pleasant breeze rushed through the room, air tinged with the scent of the sea.

"You're all welcome to stay here and receive your hard earned reward." Edric said as he offered a half hearted bow, then jumped onto the windowsill. He glanced down, checking the alleyway below, and then darted out.

"Edric wait! You'll get us in trou-"

Talea's voice echoed out behind him, but Edric didn't care.

There was a thought stuck in his mind. One that he did not, and would not share with the others; No Doge, no reason for a Dreadlord protector in Sene.
 
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Noel

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Fermin didn’t reply to the half comment, half insult, that was issued. He simply nodded and grinned as the other initiate began to try and jimmy the lock that barred them from exiting.

Edric wouldn’t listen to reason. He was bounding out of the window before anyone could bother to stop him. It was obvious before he even managed to open the window. Noel crossed her arms and frowned while Talea stared at the other trainee with a look of disappointment. This grand gesture was reckless and stupid.

The reality of the situation didn’t hit her until the fresh air slapped itself against her cheeks.

Now, facing a wide-opened window and the allure of freedom is when every alarm bell began to go off in Noel’s head. This was insane. It was surely against the rules and they’d all face some sort of punishment if Edric pursued this irrational course of action. Luckily it was Talea who tried to speak some sense into hi-

And he ignored her. Great. Just perfect.

”Hahhhh,” the girl with hair the color of onyx sighed. ”I’ll go after him.” Someone had to stay behind to stall in case the ambassador or one of the Doge’s assistant’s came to check on the students. Besides, she didn’t think Fermin was in a position to bring the other student back and Talea would go too easy on him.

Bounding out of the window behind the runaway she caught sight of him as soon as her feet pressed down onto the ground. She could see him moving away and quickly caught up to Edric. ”What do you think you’re,” her words were interrupted by the plopping sound of Talea and Fermin also landed not far off.

Now all four of them were committed into whatever crazy plot the entropy initiate had planned. ”See what you’ve done now?” Noel’s arms crossed as she stared at her fellow classmate with a look of complete annoyance.
 
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Edric

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Edric turned back towards Noel. He was about to speak when he noticed that Fermin and Talea landing at the end of the alleyway. A small smile spread across his lips, growing larger as his shoulders rolled in a shrug.

"I'm just continuing what they started, Babe." The Initiate said, offering Noel a cocky wink.

There were few times in his life that Edric had ever truly felt as confident as he did now. At the Academy there was always doubt, always a glance over the shoulder. Even if he won every bout, every round of sparring, the Proctors had always tried to cut him down.

It had always been that way. Something lurking just behind him, something waiting to snap him up and bring him down.

Right now though? Right now Edric was sure that he was doing the right thing. "I'm embracing the spirit of revolution."

He smirked.

"You're welcome to join me." Edric said as he began to walk backwards, heading towards the busy street behind him. "Or you can try to stop me."

His arms raised into the air, the smile on his face never disappearing as he continued to slowly step towards the milling crowd.
 
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Noel

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"I'm not your babe and I could stop you... easily," Noel barked through gritted teeth. "But," brown eyes gestured towards the crowd that Edric approached. They couldn't exactly be squabbling or using their magic in front of random Cortosi civilians. There'd likely be more trouble as a result of that than whatever it was that Edric had planned.

Her boots slammed against cobblestone as she rushed after the fleeing initiate. Once she was alongside him she said in a lower tone, "the three of us," she gestured to Talea and Fermin behind her, "are simply here to make sure you don't do anything crazy. We're babysitting." Noel's face was wrinkled with a combination of worry and fury. This was beyond irresponsible.

"Uh, I'm definitely not babysitting anyone," Fermin chimed in gleefully, "in fact, I suddenly love the spirit of revolution."

Noel's face was covered in shock. Was she suffering from aphasia or was everyone around her going insane?

"Edric. You're just trying to clear your head, right? No harm in that." Yeah, everyone was definitely going insane if even Talea was suddenly entertaining this charade.

After a second more of walking the obsidian haired student exhaled in defeat. "Fiiiine, we're joining you. What the hell are you even planning to do?"
 
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Edric

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"Sure, sure. Keep telling yourself that." Edric said as he spun on his heel in one fluid motion and turned towards the crowd.

Oh there was no doubt in his mind that Noel would have given him a run for his money, but self-confidence was something he'd never lacked. Edric knew that when push came to shove, no one at the Academy could have beaten him.

His head tilted back and to the side as Fermin spoke up in support of him.

A smirk crossed his lips, eyes rolling towards Noel as he gave her nothing less than the most shit eating grin he could muster. "I was thinking we'd go to a tavern."

He explained.

"Have a drink." The lie slid from his tongue so easily. "Experience the richness of a different culture."

Then perhaps conduct some light Regicide...Dogicide?

It didn't matter. Edric knew that once he got the others good and distracted he could slip away and kill the old man.
 
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Noel

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“That sounds like a perfectly reasonable way to blow off steam.”

Drinking was explicitly banned from students in the academy. Some of them certainly found ways around this, even before the revolution. Missions sometimes took you to varying townships and there were always people ready to smuggle contraband into the school grounds as well.

But Noel wasn’t as ready to believe Edric as Talea seemingly was. ”A drink sounds fine.” For now she’d play along. Pretend like a quick pint and taking in ‘the culture’ were his only real aims.

“I could go for a drink.” Fermin was another mystery here. Had the reality that one of them would be stuck here simply broken him? Or was he playing along too?

Noel felt her arms naturally cross, her posture stiffen, and her steps echoing the foul mood she quickly found herself experiencing. Talea was too close to Ed to realize this was all a ploy. Fermin was having a mental crisis or… something. The troublemaker leading them towards the tavern was up to some scheme. Some plot beyond kicking his feet back and sipping on an ale.

And Noel was going to find out what it was.
 
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Edric

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Edric glanced over at Noel, offering her another smug smile.

Though behind that smile, something within the depths of his eyes, something else lurked. Fermin and Talea were no fools. Both of them were considered near enough prodigies, top of the class and feared by almost everyone. Yet they were too blinded, too wrapped up in the moment.

Noel? Noel knew that something wasn't right.

Edric could see it in her eyes. The way that she looked at him, the determination on her face.

"This place seems fine." The Initiate said as the group came upon a tavern. The sign was of the front of a ship, a rather busty woman hanging off it's edge. He couldn't see a name painted anywhere, but perhaps that was on purpose.

He swept forward through the crowd, grabbing the half rotted front door and pushing it open. Almost immediately the wafting scent of stale ale and tobacco struck Edric, his nose scrunching almost instantly. Dozens of patrons sat around tables, three beautiful women dressed in loose blouses shimmying amongst them carrying drinks and food.

No one seemed to pay the group of teenagers any mind as they stepped inside. Edric leaned over towards Fermin. His voice low "Might even get you laid."
 
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