Quest From Alliria To Elbion

Tzuriel Alanthis

Merchant King Of Arethil
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The call had gone out. Adventurers looked at the postings and mercenaries had grown an interest in the notices. A merchant caravan needed protection on its journey, from Alliria all the way to Elbion. It was a commonly used but dangerous rout through the forests, savannahs, grasslands, and the foothills of the Secret Mountains.

The merchants had five carts lined up in front of the warehouses owned by the Alanthis trade empire. Tzuriel Alanthis oversaw the preparations himself as thick wooden crates were loaded onto the first three carts, and food and other provisions were loaded into the last two. Each wagon had a team of four oxen for hauling heavy loads and a driver for each.

Tzuriel signed off a checklist as the last boxes and provisions were loaded up. He was a fit man, not what one would expect for owning one of the most profitable and expansive trade empires in Arethil. Nor what one would expect of a man hailed as the Merchant King from Elbion to Belgrath. He wore black clothing mostly, which seemed to fit his penetrating and brooding demeanor perfectly.

He had been the one who met with those who answered the call of the contract and told them what they needed to know of the job and what the journey would entail. Though he didn't get more than a few fighting people, the others who signed on were still welcome additions to the caravan. He told them that they would meet at these warehouses early in the morning for a fresh start. And with the wagons now loaded up the time was nearly upon them.

After he had met with the mismatched group he had given them an advance of 20 gold on their payment to help them prepare and purchase anything they needed for the two week journey. Additional mounts, supplies, weapons, ammunition, or whatever they needed. If they weren't already there he expected them to arrive soon.

Also unexpected of the head of the trade empire was the fact that he was traveling with them on this journey. The only explanation he would give to this when asked was, "It was requested by the client."
He had two eastern swords thrust into his belt. A long one and a short one. He was prepared to fight himself if he had to, and he made this clear to everyone when they met.
He removed the map that held their travel plan:

Each mark potentially represented a single days travel, and if all went well they will arrive at the destination in plenty of time. Though it was entirely possible that they will have to travel through the night to make up for lost time if anything did go wrong.
 
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Heskan

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Heskan Noscales slowly strolled up along the wagons, looking at awe at all the goods and the strange beasts that were going to be pulling them. He stopped in front of them and gazed into one of the creatures eyes. He glanced up and managed to flag down a worker loading the wagons. “Excuse me sir? What is this creature?”

The worker momentarily flabbergasted looked at him with shock and scratched his head. “Uhh, you never seen an ox before?” Heskan smiled and looked back at the ox scratching it behind its ears.

“Who’s a good boy?”

He kept scratching until he spotted his new recent employer Tzuriel Alanthis. He gave the ox a quick pet on its head goodbye and trotted off to his new boss.

“Lord Alanthis, if I may say something please.”

He cleared his throat and nervously adjusted his tunic and tightened his leather bracers covering his forearms. This was his first mission as a protector and this man was gracious enough to hire him. He pulled the sleeves of his tunic down a little to try and cover his dragon scale tattoos.


“My name is Heskan Noscales and I wanted to thank you for hiring me on this job, I know this is my first job as a bodyguard. But I just want to reassure you that I will protect these good, your life and these beautiful oxen with my own.”


He bowed deeply, he had heard from his old masters that this was proper etiquette when greeting someone to whom you wanted to show great respect.
 
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Laqueta raised her brow at the sight before her, having second thoughts almost instantly. The pay was decent but she knew she could make more by just continuing her assassination work, that is if she had any clients. She sighed and continued on anyway. She needed to get away from Alliria but didn't have the money to do so. Plus, assassinating people had become a bit boring. Sure, she would likely end up killing people anyway but at least it would a bit more interesting. Definitely a lot more risky considering government officials after her but she didn't care. She just needed the money and as an added bonus, it was getting her far away from Alliria so she didn't mind. It was only about a fourteen day trip anyway.

Laqueta dismounted her stallion, Midnight, and rummaged through her bag for an apple. Apple in hand, she held out her palm to Midnight and he took it in his mouth, happily munching on the crispy, red fruit. Then turning her attention towards the crowd, she spotted Lord Alanthis with whom she assumed was another bodyguard that he hired. She lets out an empty chuckle, slightly amused that she had made her way through security without any hassle even though her name, id, and other information were just made up. She did have a little help, though. I guess you could say her old boss owed her a favor so he tampered with the records just a bit.

Rubbing Midnight's nose, Laqueta began to make her way over to Lord Alanthis and his friend, leading Midnight with her. Not wanting to disrupt them, she stood to the side and began petting Midnight with her free hand. She just hoped they'd get moving soon.
 
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Sledge

Bounty Hunter
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First light through the window.

And Sledge awoke. A godawful mess. Her arms and legs splayed out all across the bed. The blankets in a tangle with her underwear. A spot on the pillow wet with spit and a tiny string of it connecting the spot with the side of her mouth. She moaned. Groaned. Flopped over to the other side and tempted herself with just a little bit more sleep. Just five minutes.

No. You'll be out for hours and you know it.

She sat up in the bed. Eyes half open. She leaned to her right and fumbled for her elven reed-pipe on the end table. Silver with some swirling bronze trim, the long and narrow reed-pipe was the most elegant thing about her. Especially in the morningtime. She put the pipe in her mouth and tried to smoke and cursed and reached over again for her firestarter kit and took the metal and the flint and the paper and sparked it and lit the pipe and finally got the sweetsmoke filling her lungs. A luxurious exhale of grayish-white vapor from her lips.

Sledge slid off the bed and onto her feet, the reed-pipe still in her mouth. She collected her silk pants and shirt and slipped them on and grabbed the key to her room and walked to the door and accidentally stubbed her toe and cursed loudly. She left her room locked and walked downstairs and inquired the innkeeper about her bathwater. Ready. Right this way to the bathroom. Good. It was expensive enough to order it with the room. She couldn't fathom why; Alliria was built on a goddamn strait.

Ahhh. Fire-warmed water. Sledge almost melted into it. Big smile on her face and sweetsmoke flowing out of her nose. She wished she could've taken her time but she had no such luxury today. She had a job. Not a bounty. Caravan escort.

* * * * *​

She dressed in her room. Gambeson over her silken clothes. Elven plate armor over her gambeson. Belt and pouches and traveling pack and all her things collected.

Sledge left the Honeydew inn about an hour after she woke up. Reed-pipe still hanging from her lips. It wasn't called a reed-pipe for nothing. Light, like many items of elven make, it was as easy and comfortable as hanging a reed stalk from your mouth.

Two kids were running by the Honeydew when she had stepped out. A brother and sister. Yelling playfully at each other. Some kind of game going on between them. The boy had a stick in his hand. The boy caught up with the girl. Smacked her back with the stick and threw it down and the girl flopped to the ground ungracefully. The boy said, "Slayed you!" And he turned and ran past Sledge.

Before the girl could run past, Sledge kneeled down and stopped her. "Hey, kid. What are you playing?"

"Knights and dragons."

"Why the hell did he hit you like that?"

"He was the knight. Dragons eat knights, but if the knight gets a weapon he can slay the dragon!"

"And you're the knight now? And you can't use the stick he just used, I take it?"

"Yup! He's gonna go count to thirty and then he's gonna try and eat me!"

Sledge pulled a gold coin from the pouch on her belt; part of the advance for the job. She placed it in the girl's palm. "Buy a bigger stick and beat his stupid dragon ass for me. You're gonna win this round. You hear me?"

"Oh! Okay!"

Sledge winked. Patted the girl on the shoulder. Stood up again and watched the girl run not quite after the boy. Sledge took another drag on her reed-pipe and held it with her index and middle fingers and blew some smoke from her mouth and then grabbed the reed-pipe more securely and shook out the dying embers inside. Placed the pipe into the traveling pack on her shoulder.

And she started jogging. Humming a tune to herself as she did so.

* * * * *​

The stable wasn't far from the Honeydew. And as soon as Sledge stepped through the outside gate the elven stablemaster snapped his fingers and walked into the stable proper.

And he came back with a sight not often seen outside of Falwood. He held the reins to a massive, bipedal bird. Large feathered body, long neck, big beak, stubby little wings, enormous and powerful legs for a bird, darting and piercing eyes that were anything but docile. Altogether standing a little over eight feet tall, though much of it was the neck and head. Drab brown feathers, the hue of tree bark, with only an orange and yellow cockatoo-like frill on the top of its head for color.

A Falwood Moa Strider. Terrible war mounts, worse beasts of burden, but excellent personal mounts. Once one bonded with you and you didn't put too much weight on it, the huge bird offered near endless endurance and the ability to navigate the roughest terrain. Sure, Moas weren't as fast or as elegant or as easy to work with as a horse, say, but their natural aptitudes made them a relentless mount for a bounty hunter chasing a bounty over, through, and across any challenge Arethil had to offer.

Sledge liked them, even if most elves didn't. The few elven tamers there were in Fal'Addas charged quite the premium for their services. And most stablemasters in Alliria and other cities had no idea how to handle them. Even the ones that did didn't like them. For good reason.

Her Moa, Mace, ignored the stablemaster's directions and pulled him along by the reins once she saw Sledge. Mace strode up to her. Lowered that long damn neck of hers and bumped Sledge's forehead with her own. Happy to see her.

Sledge patted Mace's neck. "Hey there, Mace. Sleep well?"

Mace squawked. The stablemaster said, "I'd say no. Despite all my efforts."

Sledge grinned. "She's a big, ornery bitch who doesn't take shit from anybody she doesn't want to take shit from."

"And that'd be you?"

"That'd be me. Most of the time."

Sledge reached into her traveling pack and found what she was looking for. She tossed a single grape up and Mace caught it in her beak and swallowed it whole. She did it a few more times while the stablemaster saddled the bird. And Sledge jumped up and onto the saddle and paid the stablemaster and rode Mace out onto the streets of Alliria.

* * * * *​

The warehouses of Alanthis. That was the staging area.

Mace strode toward the wagons. Big steps with her legs, a slight bobbing of her head with each step. Sledge directed her with the reins to walk alongside the assembled wagons, keeping a bit of distance from the oxen and Laqueta with her stallion. Sometimes Moas just decided they didn't like the way horses or oxen or other big animals smelled or looked and pecked them. Elven tamers often joked that Moas had the spirit of a little goose in them.

Sledge patted Mace's neck and the bird stopped and Sledge jumped off. She saw Tzuriel, the contractor, and Heskan, the bald man dressed strangely. And Heskan bowed to him? What the hell was that about?

Sledge approached under the morning sun and as the workers loaded the caravan they all had been hired to protect. Stopped and stood short of Tzuriel and Heskan and next to Laqueta. Making herself accounted for. Tzuriel seemed eager to--

"Pretty Boy!" Sledge said, snapping her fingers. Looking straight at Tzuriel. "That's who you remind me of. Just a merc I used to know. You two could be brothers. Had a hard time placing it, but now I see."

She placed her hands on her hips. "Too bad he died. He was alright."
 
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Fred looked at the warehouse with eyes filled with splendor. He felt lucky to have the chance to travel to Elbion and maybe visit the wonderful city. The young lad heard many wonderful things about Elbion, especially about their famed magical college and it's bustling trade. He thought that it would have been a great place for Fred Shadowflameinferno to start his legend maybe reaching the level of a seventh order Maester if he could get into the college!

Before that, he wanted to explore the warehouse and meet the people. Fred wanted to leave his mark on the various merchants and personalities that roamed around the place, maybe get to know the people who'd be protecting him on his travels and so he followed a group of weirdos of various levels of attractiveness and quirky appearances somewhere he thought would be important.

The young boy wearing old worn down clothes and carrying an overloaded backpack entered the warehouse confidently then greeted the people who in his head were definitely heroes or at the very least protagonists-like "Good day ol'chums." he said in his best, what he thought was, upper-class accent "I am Fredricko ShadowFlameInferno, I was offered a placement this journey as a culinary aide" he gave a flourished bow towards the group "Am I correct to assume that you fine capable looking adventurers are to guard the caravan in our travels? With the recent uprising of demons, undead and orcs I was worried about the safety of this trip even with my own skills however it seems this trip is in good hands."

He was giddy at what he could experience in the trip. Obviously there was no way a caravan like this could reach its destination without some sort of harassment especially with all the strange creatures rising up all around the continent so he felt excited. For now, he kept himself calm. He wanted to ask the group questions, they all seemed like interesting people but he was worried he wouldn't fit in unless he spoke about himself. Should he say he has Mage College scholarship or go off on a monologue about how he was going to be a warlord? No it was too early and monologing about backstories and plans to people he just met was obnoxious, it simply was not the time. He needed to start small "I am but a simple lad as you can tell and although seeing you adventurers puts my nerves at ease may I ask more about you all. Of course, and I don't mean to sound rude, not at a personal level we can do that later. Simply it seems at a glance, it seems the caravan guard comprises of two mages and two warriors, is this correct? If you all don't mind me asking, what sort of skills do you all have... to help figure out travel formation of course" Fred really wanted to know more about the adventurers but he couldn't let them know his curiosity hopefully, if he talked like he knew what he was saying and lied well enough Fred could learn more about them.
 

Su Jun Seo

수준서
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"The journey is never ending. There's always gonna be growth, improvement, adversity; you just gotta take it all in and do what's right, continue to grow, continue to live in the moment."
-Antonio Brown

Among the man characters whom gathered for this cavarn job, one in particular remained out of sight. This particular bald man hadn't given his name...or at least, it was hard to catch his name, as he said it with such rhythm that most people would have had a hard time fathoming...but, he had indeed checked in with the leaders of this cavern, having been their since the early morning. Where was he now? Lying on top of the warehouse, his hands resting behind the back of his head, as he starred up into the blue sky...with a rather concentrated expression, not caring much about the world around him.

Well, that was until a very long and rather stingy voice from below broke his concentration...causing his face to scrunch up at the sound of that voice.

Proping himself onto an elbow, the bald man idly glanced down to see what all the commotion was about. Down below, it would appear that more people had shown up for the job. It didn't seem to concern that bald man, however, as his eyes narrowed upon this one particular individual whom seemed to be talking incessantly.

If this fellow was along, then this'll be certainly a looong trip.

Instead of laying back down onto the roof, the bald man simply sat up, becoming visible to those below...as watched the rest of the cargo being loaded into the wagons. Of course, that task would grow dull within seconds, so instead his eyes wandered back to the characters whom were present. Aside from the lad and the people in charge of the cavarn, there were a number of other people too: One of those elf looking people he had heard so much about clad in armor, a women whom seemed rather oddly dressed for the job at hand(granted, he looked more like a peasant then anything else), and a man whom was bald...and dressed like someone he knew....

At the very least he wasn't the only bald person on this trip...
 

Quoril

Alchemist, Explorer
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Quoril stood in the back of his small alchemy shop. Shelves filled with glass jars covered nearly every inch of space on the walls, each one containing something different. He stood in front of the gigantic bookshelf which ran across the whole of the back wall trying to figure which of his many books he wanted to bring with him. Quoril had carefully prepared for the journey, taking along the materials for the most commonly used potions and this had left little room for anything else. Eventually he decided on two and jammed them into the already overflowing backpack, and rushed out into the bustling streets of Alliria.

He quickly made his way to a warehouse that was on the other side of the city. As he ran inside, Quoril noticed that he was the last one to arrive. Being one of the last people to arrive was nothing new to the elf. Spending so much time out in the world collecting materials for potions tended to cause him to lose track of time.

Looking at those assembled he first noticed Tzuriel Alanthis, the man who hired him for this job. There was elf who had clad herself in a suit of armor, a monk, and another elf who really didn’t look like she was dressed to protect a caravan, although Quoril didn’t really either. He didn’t possess any armor so he wore his usual attire. Apart from a young man also wearing a large pack, the rest of the people seemed to be part of the caravan.

Pushing back his hood, Quoril walked up to those who had gathered to protect the caravan. “Sorry I’m late,” he said sheepishly running his hand through his messy brown hair.
 
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Tzuriel Alanthis

Merchant King Of Arethil
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Tzuriel looked up to see the eastern man walk up to him. He nodded in return when the man expressed his gratitude and bowed low to him, "We're glad to have you with us, Master Noscale. I am confident my caravan is in good hands."
It was always good to have one of the mysterious fighters from the East in ones company. The men from the east, especially the fighters and warriors, were the stuff of legend. Because of this legend, whether true or not, non of the western kingdoms had any desire to make war on the east. He reflected that he needed to go to the east some day and establish trade relations with the kingdoms there. As of right now the west has hardly seen any of wonderful crafts and tools that come from the people there.
He was fortunate to be able to hire two eastern fighters, but he couldn't immediately see the second one.

Next to ride up on a black stallion was a girl. An elf dressed in functional clothing with a figure that wasn't hard to look at. She kept her face covered with a silk veil and non of her given identity checked out. But this wasn't an issue because it simply meant she had reasons for hiding her identity which gave even more credence to her abilities as a fighter. The fact that he was able to uncover her falsifications didn't say anything about her abilities, but said more about the resources he had on hand to learn everything he can about the people he's traveling with.
She currently stood quietly off to the side with her horse, waiting to leave. He knew exactly how she felt.

Next a bird walked up, with another elf riding it. A Moa riding elf. And she seemed armed and ready for battle. After she made her humorous connection between him and a dead guy she knew he greeted her, "Well, perhaps you can save me and my people from sharing his fate, Miss Sledge. We're glad to have you on board."
He knew some of her reputation as a mercenary, so he was glad to hire her on when she showed up. Her experience would no doubt be an asset to everyone involved.

Then the young man clattered up with his baggage. He talked a lot and that was fine with him. Tzuriel took a gamble on him that his cooking was as good as he claimed it was. The boy wasn't a fighter, but he may help keep moral high as they made their journey together. He nodded to the young man, "Welcome aboard Master Shadowflameinferno. If you would like you can set up your luggage in one of the support wagons."
Again, the boy was a gamble on whether or not he would be more of a help than a hinderance. But he considered himself a fair man, so he would give the kid a chance to earn his keep.

The sun shining in his eyes was briefly shaded as someone on the roof sat up. He looked up and from that distance recognized the second easterner that had been hired on. Tzuriel remembered his name was Su Jun Seo, and he was lounging on the roof of one of his warehouses. Again Tzuriel didn't question the legends. He lifted his hand to him in greeting.

Finally another elf approached the caravan. This one was a male this time as opposed to the two elves already present, which helped avoid more than a few adventuring stereotypes. He apologized for his tardiness and Tzuriel waved it off, turning to greet him, "Just on time isn't late, Master Quoril. I'm glad to have your skills with us as well."

-------------------------------------​

He then looked over them all and addressed them together, "We are very grateful to have you all. Without adventurers, mercenaries, fighters, and people such as yourselves, the roads would be forever closed to trade throughout all of Arethil. You all know the details of your contract. Two weeks to get this merchandise to its destination. Once it is done, not before, we will return to Elbion and you will receive your payment in full."

He walked in a slow circle to address each of them who had gathered around him, His demeanor was not condescending or patronizing in the least, but the sternness in his expression and voice was laden with a deep understanding of the dangers ahead, "Until this contract is over I expect the safety and good condition of myself, my drivers, my animals, my wagons, and my merchandise to be your highest priority as per your contract. You are the specialists and the warriors, so you will be left to decide how best to organize yourselves to the fulfillment of your contract."

His face softened and he offered a ghost of a smile to lighten the mood he created, "With luck and your expertise I am confident we will pass unharmed through whatever dangers the path ahead holds."
He looked to one of his drivers who gave him a thumbs up, everything was ready. His expression settled back to his normal piercing demeanor.
"The time is now upon us. We leave immediately."

He turned and walked out of the circle of dangerous people. He climbed up the foot ladder to take his seat beside the driver of the lead wagon. With a wave of his hand he motioned the caravan forward.
 

Heskan

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Heskan darted his head around clocking all his fellow adventurers as his new employer addressed them. They seemed all so different from what he used to when he was growing up in the monastery. That place had only trained one type of combatant. They trained the Ioth Ir, and his fellow monks only fought one way, with their fist and inner strength. But his new associates seemed to be more than just punches and kicks.

He saw a mysterious elf with lilac eyes casually watch them from a distance. Another taller elf, even a little taller than Heskan himself approach them in a very confident almost arrogant way. A boy with a large backpack and even larger name introduce himself in a funny accent he had never heard before. Yet another mysterious figure who was content with watching them from the roof, he was bald as well so Heskan felt a certain kinship to this man, he smiled and waved as he pointed to his own bald head as well, and last but not least a young elf hastily running to greet them. This was their group, and Heskan felt pretty good about this mission. He didn't know how much action they would be seeing but Heskan felt very good about their chances.

When Lord Alanthis finished speaking he gracefully lept on the cart behind him. He took up the reins and followed suit behind the merchant king.

"I'm so excited," Heskan whispered to himself
 

Su Jun Seo

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What was this man on about?

The stranger's eyes narrowed upon Heskan, suspicious...yet not all too worried. Was he trying to say somthing about his head? A question that lingered in his mind for all but a few seconds...before the bald man would just shrug to himself, and turn his attention back towards the moving cavern. In the past, this particular fellow was quite adapt at ambushing caravan such as this and lifting their goods...now he was protecting one, an irony that wasn't lost upon him. Should he take the vanguard of the caravan? He probably should...rooting out the ambushes before they occurred upon the main body of the cavern.

Instead, the man pushed himself up onto his feet, taking a moment to examine the cavern one more time. The man himself was no doubt armed, as apparent by the two meat cleavers on his hips. Yet this wasn't the only thing he had been armed with at the moment; the string of a bow was visible, as it became apparent that there was a bow wrapped around the man's upper torso. Granted, it seemed to have been crudely fashioned, but a bow nevertheless...with a animal skin quiver resting next to it, within it containing a number of arrows....

After a bit of observing, the bald man finally spurn into action; taking the time to leap of the roof, falling sideways as he grabbed onto the edge of the roof, hanging off of it. In the next instance, the bald man would then drop himself, landing upon a nearby crate, before jumping and leaping off, finally landing upon the ground...and began dusting himself off.

As he did, the baldman gave a quick glance to those still gathered, tilting his head, as if to say "let's get going". The rougish man would then quickly dash forward, he jogged over to what was suppose to be the last cart in the pack, wheeling around it's rear and leaping backwards, landing upon his behind as the cart continued, before leaning back against the cart with his hands in the back of is head, his feet dangling off.

This baldman appeared to be taking up the rearguard, not the worst place for a man such as himself...or for those who would join him....
 
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Laqueta scowled at her new companions. She'd hoped there would be little people who were hired but she knew that would not be the case. It was a considerably large caravan, so big perhaps that even herself might have trouble keeping a look out and protecting the entire group. She sighed softly, giving Midnight a final pat and mounted him once again. Before following after the group, she made sure she had everything she needed. Beneath her clothing were multiple weapons, two twin blades strapped to her thighs, several throwing knives attached to her waist, and a hunting knife tucked away in her knee-high black boots. On her back was her bow and quiver filled with arrows. Laqueta made sure to check the saddle bag, too, despite Midnight giving her a cautious side eye. In the bag was about three days worth of food, two canteens, clothing (often lilac, black, or white), a whetstone, and a katana gifted to her by her old boss.

Laqueta closed the saddle bag and begins to make her way over to the group, Midnight in a steady trot. The caravan was on it's way and she couldn't have been more relieved. Turning back to make sure people weren't following them, she narrows her eyes at the source of where she thought she heard a sound before turning back towards the group.

"Care- vamme hil- or tye shall n- demolished..."
 

Sledge

Bounty Hunter
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Miss Sledge.

She had no idea why, but the few times she'd actually heard somebody call her that she couldn't help but to laugh. Not a big belly laugh. Just a grin, an exhale, and a one-two chuckle. Miss Sledge. Had to be the juxtaposition. Or maybe the irony. And there was some irony alright in adopting a name like Sledge and still being called 'Miss'. Miss Yneffuwen and Miss Avastarylline both sounded natural, if far too soft for her taste. Miss Sledge sounded like someone had tied a maiden's dress to a warhammer and called it 'elegant'.

Yeah. Funny thing to imagine, that.

All the hired caravan guards had gathered around and Tzuriel set the standard. Pretty Boy set the standard. If he was going to call her Miss Sledge she was going to call him Pretty Boy. Only fair. And he did look like Pretty Boy. Could he sing? Pretty Boy could sing his ass off. Some of the mercs started off calling him Bard before the actual ex-bard of the company took offense and Pretty Boy stuck. A better fit, in Sledge's opinion.

Like new Pretty Boy said, hopefully Sledge could save him and his people from ending up like old Pretty Boy.

No time to waste. Heskan and the other bald man were already loading up onto the wagons. There was some silly folklore about bald men among humans. A superstition about rubbing their heads for good luck. Push comes to shove, they'd have double the chances to test it out. What odds.

A poor showing for elvenkind. Sledge's fellow elves apparently forgot their armor. Of course, so did the two bald men but elves were supposed to upstage humans. Pretty Boy didn't count, he had paid good coin to ride in comfort and to leave the fighting to those he hired.

Goddamn it, Sledge was going to be the only one sweating just by riding in all her armor and it was going to be awful. She hated the feel of sweat on her skin and in her clothes. Hated it. Working up a sweat in battle was one thing. To be expected. You could even call it the glaze of victory. But simply sweating on account of it being a warm day and being packed inside her silk clothes, gambeson, and her elven plate armor? Dreadful. Hopefully there'd be plenty of streams to make camp alongside every night. So she could bathe, bathe, bathe.

She'd deal with that problem when it arised.

Now, one among the hired help had caught her attention. The kid. The one with the ridiculous name. Fred Shadowflameinferno. He got a lucky break, much like Sledge and Donnirhin had gotten one with Blair Company. Maybe he was trying to break away from his cooking to try his hand at something far more exciting. Sledge could relate. But Fred was trying way too hard. Putting on unnecessary airs. It seemed like he was masking a nervousness or trepidation, or he was just too eager for his own good.

Sledge turned and faced Fred and put her hands on her hips and looked down on the kid. Not condescending. Just had to. She towered over him. Usual elven height and all.

She said, "Hey. Fred. Relax. You're going to be fine. Look. My name is Sledge and I hit things. That's all you need to know for now. You're riding with me. Let's go."

Sledge motioned her head back toward Mace. She wasn't going to take the boy's hand and lead him over, because she'd slap anybody who tried doing that with her. A gesture of respect and common courtesy.

She walked over to the giant bird and jumped up and onto the saddle. Held her hand down for the boy to grab if he so chose. Sure he'd have to the sit on the saddle bag, but it'd be comfortable enough. It was loaded with more sets of silken clothes and travel provisions. Nothing sharp or pointed.

Hopefully he'd take a helping hand that was extended out to him. Be a real shame to see his inexperience be his undoing if things got out of hand in battle.


Fred Shadowflameinferno
 
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Fred beamed even brighter the more he watched the ragtag bunch of weirdos. The bald monk seemed incredibly friendly while the male warrior seemed incredibly professional but he felt they contrasted well in the group maybe as the straightmen. He felt that a warrior randomly committing parkour, a, what he assumes to be, sorceress dressed like a harem girl speaking either foreshadowing or in a heavy accent and a carefree-looking elven woman in heavy armor seeming to adjust her attire while glancing at everybody else's light clothing was seemed like a good start to an adventure story... maybe even a bad joke.

She said, "Hey. Fred. Relax. You're going to be fine. Look. My name is Sledge and I hit things. That's all you need to know for now. You're riding with me. Let's go."
The young boy turned towards the elf, his eyes gleaming in slight admiration at seeing such an imposing and heroic looking figure up close. He smiled apologetically at Sledge before speaking. "It's perfectly fine Lady Sledge, I was simply worried about how the composition of the guards would be given the group's seemingly small amount and the caravan's large size." then he gestured at the Moa "As for the offer of the ride I do appreciate the thought however as I was not offered work in guarding the caravan and instead have other responsibilities in it's function during our journey I must decline" Honestly he was just planning on slacking off until something exciting happened plus Fred would probably be a liability during a fight but he didn't want to say that "If you have the time I would cherish the chance to speak more in-depth with you however as of this moment I must report my station before my presence is missed" Fred's Uncle Gale would likely be annoyed that instead of coming in early to help with the preparations he was rubbing elbows with the guards. Fred gave a bow farewell and climbed into one of the support wagons in the back wherein muffled shouts of admonishment could be heard along with a young boy's apologetic voice.
 

Quoril

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Looking around at his travelling companions, Quoril felt out of place. Except for the boy and the elf with the silk veil, everybody else looked like they had been fighting their whole lives. First there was the monk. His arms alone appeared to be the size of Quoril’s midsection. Second, there was the elf in the suit of armor. He bet she could take down a good sized army just by herself. Lastly, the Eastern man. Honestly the two giant meat cleavers he carried scared Quoril and he would have to make sure to keep his distance from him if a fight broke out.

Quoril thought about what he brought to the party. Sure, he was an alchemist and could cure most any wound or illness that people might get, but when it came to a fight, he wasn’t confident that he would be much of a help. His innate elven agility and his natural tendency to fluidly adapt to whatever his current situation may be might help keep him alive. Quick thinking combined with magic would allow him to defend himself and stay on the attack. There was also his sword, but as it seemed to occasionally have a mind of its own, he didn’t plan on using it unless absolutely necessary. He would be flying by the seat of his pants the entire trip. Unlike everybody else, Quoil barely had any formal combat training. He really hoped that he could hold his own and not be a liability.

He was shaken out of the apprehensive thoughts by the sound of the caravan driving away. Quoril decided that he would walk for the first part of the trip and keep a lookout for any interesting plants or minerals to use in his potions. He walked near the bird riding elf, who Tzuriel Alanthis had called Sledge. Quoril thought that was a very unusual name for an elf but decided not to inquire into the origin, instead returning to his worried thoughts.
 

Heskan

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Heskan held on the reigns of the magnificent ox. This creature was truly special, it was strong, durable and completely content with its life to pull this cart. There was much one could learn from the ox Heskan thought. A cool breeze blew through the air, and Heskan closed his eyes tilting his head up toward the warm rays of the sun. This was truly the life of adventure he always wanted, true it wasn't as glamorous as he first thought it to be but he was content with where he was at in the world. Riding a cart for two weeks surrounded by potential new friends.

"So where is everyone from?" Heskan bellowed as he looked around to try and spot as many of his new associates as possible. He smiled from ear to ear, this was the first time that he was surrounded by new faces he didn't have to punch and break so he was a bit over enthused.
 
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Laqueta could practically feel the stares she was getting, their eyes burning holes into her back. She caught whom she believed was the man with ridiculous last name, staring at her after her speech in her native tounge. He looked like he had never seen an elf speak elvish before. Men these days, she shook her head slightly and observed her companions. She didn't really know any of their names other than her employer, Tzuriel and Fredricko, who had introduced himself earlier. She also believed the armored elf's name was Sledge and the young male elf who didn't even look a to be hundred years old was Quoril. She scrunched up her face, remembering Fred's upper class accent. Ungrateful rich people. If she was honest, Sledge was the only one who looked in the slightest bit prepared although who was she to judge. A majority of her fellow companions were lacking armor and she highly doubted they could summon it like herself, much less use magic. Hearing the man next to her speak, she scowled a bit and sighed. Laqueta spared the monk a glance. She wasn't really in the mood to talk.
"Alliria." Her voice monotone with a hint of hostility behind it. Laqueta turned away from him and fiddled with her loose and flowy lilac top. It was a few sizes too big as were most of her clothes. She then glanced down at her worn, black pants that were now considerably too small for her. She made a mental note that she'd need to buy a new pair in Elbion as she glanced down at her boots. They weren't new but they worked, reaching almost her mid thigh, scratched up from previous battles. She carefully adjusted the lilac, silk veil on her face. She then urged Midnight into a canter and isolated herself from the rest of the group, hoping to avoid any other questions that was deemed necessary by them.

Laqueta kept on the look out for any danger when her pendant glowed a deep red. Looking over cautiously at the group she then muttered a chant and suddenly a rough voice came from the glowing red necklace.

"Oi Lal? Erm..." The voice of her old boss echoed from the pendant. She sighed and shook her head.

"What did you do this time?" She heard the groan of annoyance from the stubborn dwarf. It was silent for a few seconds before she heard his voice again.

"Are any of ye fellows listening?" Laqueta glanced over at the group once more. Her silence told him everything.
"Ah..." He paused before speaking in his native tongue. "Va viag duag seh..." He trails off and she has to keep herself from turning back and ripping his head off.


"Quit de liorhir sakk, hvag joukk duag joukk?" She responds in dwarvish annoyed. There are another few seconds of silence.

"Va viag... dieg employer kag hakk frukk utre at de records pag duag eirag fake..." He goes quiet and waits for Laqueta to respond.

"Hvig?" She answers calmly but with still a hint of annoyance.

"Merg... merg kag hakk been fanget..." She had huffed and gave a quick glance back towards the group.

"Duag eirag useless eirag ikin duag? Duag eirag veldag lucky merg joukk ikin yerhir tilbakke yafir dett o smack de drikk utre av duag!" She rambles on in annoyed voice. "Hvig de faegon vurn duag min gammel boss?" She hears the dwarf chuckle and she sighs."Duag eirag en tapt arsekkag eirag ikin duag?" She smiles sofly but it dissapears quickly.
"Merg er ikin reisegan til forgive, jekyem."
Laqueta muttered still a bit annoyed as the dwarf gasped dramatically.


"Ei, holflikk fran forgive merg." She hears the dwarf collapse on the ground, sobbing fake tears. "Holflikk fran-"

"Ei, med min efog pag de hjan duag bor vaer meinog careful!" She grumbles slightly. "Merg vil sakk til duag later, hadet." Not giving him a chance to answer, she recites the chant and the pendant stopped glowing along with the annoying voice of Elvroul. A ghost of a smile graced her lips once again before she turns back to searching for danger, not bothering to reunite with her companions.

Laqueta tucked a piece of hair behind her pointed ears, fiddling a bit with her piercings before letting her hand drop. The heat, while not unbearable, would be horrible to ride in with heavy layers or armor. She felt a bit of pity for Sledge who would be suffering the most out of all of them. The others could go and die in battle from their lack of armor for all she cared. Then again, she didn't care of Sledge died either. She didn't care if anyone died as long as she reached Elbion safely and got her payment. Maybe she did need to take those empathy lessons Elvroul recommended, still questioning if they were even a real thing.
 
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Sledge

Bounty Hunter
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Or not.

Heh. Lady Sledge. Now she didn't know which one was better. Lady Sledge or Miss Sledge. Both sounded godawful but both were in their own way funny to her. At least the kid had an air of humor about him. Intentional or no on his part, that's how Sledge saw it. Which was going to make it all the more a pity if he got fucked up. Bandits and raiders and all else didn't give a damn what he was hired to do on the caravan.

Well, it was his choice and he made it. Sledge respected that. Didn't matter how she felt about it. Wasn't hers to make. She could wash her hands of it if the kid caught an arrow or got his head lopped off or whatever else. She tried.

"Yeah," she said. "You do that. Wouldn't want your presence to be missed."

What was it with the bowing? Did Heskan know the kid or something? Sledge had lived most of her life in Fal'Addas sure, but she knew enough of human cities and customs to know that bowing was...uncommon at best. If Fred lived and had a bald head at the end of all this, then she'd have her answer. If the other bald man took up bowing too then something was definitely up. No idea what. But something.

As Mace trotted along at the pace of the caravan, Heskan shouted a question. Laqueta answered. Then fucked off on her own. Wasn't any concern of Sledge's. She wasn't paying Laqueta shit. Pretty Boy would have to fix that if it became a recurring problem. Screw that. Being the boss. Managing people. Leadership. All that bullshit. Sledge just did her part when she was in a group. Liked to look out for people who reminded her of herself when she was green, sure; it was good to pay that kindness and charity back. But mostly she did her part and did it well. Less headaches for the Leonas and Pretty Boy Tzuriels of the world. And besides, it felt good to have her shit in order.

Sledge directed Mace alongside the wagon Heskan sat in and looked to him and said, "You tell me why you bow and I'll tell you where I'm from."

She saw something. Corner of her eye when she looked to Heskan. Someone close by and on foot. Following after Mace and her.

The other elf. Quoril. Pretty Boy had said as much. She didn't know if he got contracted before or after her yesterday, but she didn't remember seeing much of him, let alone hearing his name then. But here he was. Comfortable, but not armored. That seemed to be the norm among this group. Oh they were going to have a great time during the ninety-five percent boredom. This son-of-a-bitch Quoril looked like he could run a few laps around the moving caravan and hardly break a sweat, the way he was dressed. Lucky bastard. Had to be nice. But, during the five percent heart-pounding thrill and adrenaline rush of battle, all these softies were going to have a rough time unless they had some tricks to play.

If only elven armorsmiths and enchanters could somehow devise a plate armor that was breathable like cloth. That'd be the day.

Without waiting for Heskan's reply, Sledge looked back to Quoril and said, "Hey. Quoril. You son of a bitch. You really going to flaunt those comfortable clothes by walking right behind me? If I find out you're a mage I'm going to slap you. And its nothing against you personally. Just envy. I've never seen a mage sweat."

Sledge grinned. Looked back to Heskan. Said, "Can you believe this lad? Got the nerve to walk."

Heskan Quoril
 

Quoril

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Quoril’s brooding was interrupted by the sound of Sledge’s voice calling out to him. "Hey. Quoril. You son of a bitch. You really going to flaunt those comfortable clothes by walking right behind me?” He bent down to examine a deep blue flower growing along the side of the road. “If I find out you're a mage…” He stopped listening as he plucked the flower before opening one of the side pouches of his pack and carefully placing the flower inside.

“Huh? A-A mage? I guess you could say that I am. And if you’re so uncomfortable in all that armor, why don’t you just take it off? I imagine it would be considerably easier to move around without it weighing you down.” Quoril noticed the sweat running down her face and couldn’t comprehend why an elf would want to wear such heavy armor. To him being able to quickly get in and then dodge out of the way was absolutely necessary in any fight. The weight of such armor would just hinder an elf’s natural agility. Of course the majority of his combat experience was mostly fighting off wild animals that decided that he looked tasty while he was out wandering the continent.

Quoril also didn’t want Sledge or his any of his travelling companions to think that he was just a feeble mage that would need protecting. He was carrying a sword after all. Even if the enchantment on it was a tad wonky. If he could control the enchantment he would be more useful in combat.

After putting a small distance between himself and the caravan, he reached back and drew the weapon. The clear, slightly pink crystal blade sparkled in the sunlight as Quoirl held it. In reality it was too short to be called a sword - more like a long dagger really. The weapon felt like a massive weight in his hand as he poured magical energy into it trying to get it to cooperate. After a moment, he could feel the enchantment kick in and the weapon became lighter and lighter as it re-balanced itself until he could hardly tell he was holding it at all. Quoril took a few swings at the tall plants growing at the side of the road. The others might laugh at him for walking, but he needed to practice to be able to have some sort of control over his weapon and he couldn’t be swinging it around inside a cart. Besides, he was determined to not be seen as a liability.
 

Tzuriel Alanthis

Merchant King Of Arethil
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While the party took their positions the carts began moving through the city toward the trade gate. The driver of the cart Heskan took over was a little surprised and blinked as the monk took the rains of the oxen, but he shrugged and decided to let the man drive if he really wanted to. Tzuriel looked back at the wagon train from time to time to make sure all was well, especially with the wagons themselves.
The wagons were well made vehicles. They held a large load and were durable for long journeys. They had covers which were down for now for when the guards would inspect the cargo. The wheels were reinforced with iron to handle the rough roads and the walls of the carts were thick enough to stop crossbow bolts.
These were the regular wagons used by the Alanthis trade empire. No expense was spared to guarantee the efficiency and safety of every trade run. Every wagon had a driver, and when mercenaries or adventurers couldn't be found there was always a guard of three soldiers per wagon to protect the caravan.

As the caravan reached the trade gate the caravan was called to a stop and Tzuriel handed the guard captain the list of merchandise. The captain went to each wagon to confirm the list before walking back and handing the list to Tzuriel with an all clear. The iron gates creaked open and with another wave the caravan filed out of the city.

Tzuriel leaned back and laced his fingers behind his head in the seat beside the driver. The drivers erected the wagon covers. Before them lay the long road to Elbion. He ran over the map in his head. First they would pass through the forests and plains, then those plains will turn into the open lands and wilderness of the Aberresai Savannah all the way to Elbion. After a short rest in Elbion they will continue their way to the arms of the Secret Mountains and to the lands governed by House Nocterose. That was their destination. Then the caravan will return to Elbion where everyone will be payed in full.
But there was a long way between here and Elbion. The danger will not be till they've gone at least fifty miles from the city. Brigands still live in the forests, and only the larger gangs would dare to take on a caravan this size with adventurers employed. Simply the reputation of adventurers would be enough to protect them for a while at least.
The Savannah will be the most remote and so the most dangerous as villages and settlements tend to cling to its edges and oasis's.

He listened to the hired help talk amongst themselves as they got situated in formation. The caravan entered the forest and large oaks and pines rose up on both sides of the road filtering the morning sun through their leaves. The only sounds were the creek of wheels, the clop of ox hooves, the conversation of the drivers and adventurers, and the birds twittering through the trees. It had been a while, but he was finally on the road again. He missed traveling with one of his caravans. The sky was clear and the breeze was warm. The journey was off to a good start.
 
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Laqueta simply kept to herself as she watched for any danger. Although unlikely, she had encountered a few desperate bandits on the outskirts of Alliria, often taking pity on the younger ones and sparing them some coins. She kept a steady trot, glancing back every so often, enjoying the sun rays on her face. Her ears perked up as she heard Sledge complaining about Quoril showing off his comfy clothes and such but then blocked out their conversation once again. All this talking seemed unnecessary to her and she hoped to avoid it as much as possible, although she occasionally listened in for general information on her companions. Patting Midnight a bit, she sighed and gripped the reins looser. Everything was going smoothly so far, unless you count the almost constant bickering between the others. Laqueta shook her head a bit and tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. She forgot how boring journey's were if you weren't constantly fighting and yearned to get to more dangerous parts of the route soon. She soon found herself aimlessly twirling a spare dagger in her hand, glancing around for any signs of an enemy while promptly ignoring everything else.
 

Sledge

Bounty Hunter
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Guess you could say that I am. This mealy-mouthed mage couldn't even bring him to admit he was one. What, was he scared? She was being nice about it! And a typical mage retort. Take off her armor. What the fuck did he think he was doing here? Picking flowers for fair maidens by the look of it. Wasn't that cute.

Nevermind. Not just picking flowers. Look at him. Him and his prissy little pink blade. What was it made of, candy? Maybe he could trim Pretty Boy Tzuriel's lawn with it, like he was doing with those plants along the road. Seemed about as good a use as any.

Alright. This needed to be dealt with. They'd only just left the city and were barely down the road headed west from Alliria, so now was the perfect time, given that they had the whole journey still ahead of them. Release all the tension right now. Lay out all the cards on the damn table.

Sledge slowed Mace down. Fell back from the caravan and back toward Quoril, who'd distanced himself to play with his candy sword. She jumped off of Mace and approached Quoril. Stood right in front of him. Hands on her hips. Big grin.

Needed to make it quick. Lest the caravan get too far ahead or Pretty Boy think they were deserting.

"Hey. Quoril," Sledge said. "I don't fucking like you. I think you're a dainty slip of an elf with a bitchy little sword made of candy. And you don't like me. You think I'm an idiot for wearing all this armor and bitching about it, and you probably don't like my face. So here's what we're going to do. You're going to slap the shit out of me, and I'm going to slap the shit out of you. Get it all out and done with. Right here. Right now. So we can drink or smoke and laugh about it all later with this behind us."

She raised her hands and invited him to strike. "Come on. Time's wasting. Give me your best shot. Let's go."

Quoril
 

Quoril

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"Hey. Quoril, I don't fucking like you. I think you're a dainty slip of an elf with a bitchy little sword made of candy. And you don't like me. You think I'm an idiot for wearing all this armor and bitching about it, and you probably don't like my face.So here's what we're going to do. You're going to slap the shit out of me, and I'm going to slap the shit out of you. Get it all out and done with. Right here. Right now. So we can drink or smoke and laugh about it all later with this behind us." She raised her hands and invited him to strike. "Come on. Time's wasting. Give me your best shot. Let's go."

Quoril was startled by Sledge’s sudden confrontation. He felt like he was looking up at a towering giant even though in reality, she was a bit shorter than him.

Quoril had to take a moment to dissect the verbal barrage that had assaulted his ears. So Sledge didn’t like him. This was a little disappointing since he had attempted to be friendly, but he knew that it was impossible to be friends with everybody. Although he was on the light side for an elf, his elven speed and agility were amplified by the lack of weight. As for the “bitchy little sword made of candy”, it wasn’t going to be used as his main method of attack anyway.

“I didn’t mean for my comment about your armor to upset you, or for you to think that I didn’t like you. The intent behind my comment was to suggest a way to be more comfortable. I never said that I didn’t like your face either. In fact I think you have a very-” Quoril snapped his mouth shut realizing what he was about to say. He couldn’t tell Sledge that he thought she was pretty. Even if he did, she would probably just laugh and tell him that he was an idiot. "He face really clashes with her un-ladylike demeanor," Quoril thought to himself.

Quoril sheathed his weapon and took a long look at Sledge. He really didn’t want to hit her. Not only because he didn’t fighting for no reason but also because there was a good chance that he would hurt himself significantly more than he hurt her. Quoril took a deep breath. It appeared that she wasn’t going to leave him alone until he hit her. There was no way that he was going to do any damage. Reluctantly, he pulled back his arm and let his fist fly.
 

Sledge

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Holy shit.

He punched her. Balled a fist and actually punched her. Normally that's what she suggested. A trade of punches instead of slaps. Slaps were the softer option. But Quoril rejected it. Good on him.

Her head snapped to one side from the hit and she brought a gauntleted hand up to her mouth and touched her tongue to the black gloved underpart of it and looked for blood. She thought she had bit her tongue in surprise but it didn't seem so. Still, a quick hiss of spit from her mouth to the side and down to the road.

Another grin to Quoril. And Sledge spoke as she started to take off her right gauntlet, "I didn't think you had it in you, Quoril. You're not so bad. See. I'm already starting to like you now. Wasn't this better than letting all that bullshit go unspoken? For what it's worth, I hope you don't die. And remind me to buy you a drink if and when we stop at an inn."

Gauntlet off. Held in her left hand. Her right hand bare. Her grin turned as wilder as a brawler's.

"Ready?"

The word had barely come out of her mouth as she swung a hard right hook at his face.

Quoril
 

Quoril

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A sharp jolt of pain burst through Quoril hand as his fist made contact with Sledge’s face. He shook his hand trying to return feeling back into it. This was one of the rare times in his life that he had actually used his fists to strike someone.

As he stood there shaking his hand, Sledge said, "I didn't think you had it in you, Quoril. You're not so bad. See. I'm already starting to like you now. Wasn't this better than letting all that bullshit go unspoken? For what it's worth, I hope you don't die. And remind me to buy you a drink if and when we stop at an inn." Quoril felt like he had finally earned a little bit of respect from her. And Sledge was right. He did feel better now. The elf wasn’t quite sure what “bullshit” she was talking about - but he definitely felt better. He had proven himself and had seemingly gained himself an ally.

By the time Sledge had finished talking, she had removed her right gauntlet. “Ready?” she asked with a crazy grin. An instant later her fist shot toward Quoril. He tried to brace himself for the hit, but as her fist connected with his jaw, he was knocked head over heels and went tumbling into the ditch.

After a moment, Quoril picked himself up off the ground rubbing his jaw. “Feel better now? Did you sort through the problems you had with me? I hope from here on out we can finish the journey without any misgivings.” Quoril held his hand out in a friendly manner, praying that she wouldn't demand that he hit her again.
 

Sledge

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Oh yeah. That felt good. Nice solid hit. Didn't expect him to go flying as dramatically as he did, but maybe she should've. Mages weren't mages because they liked getting into fistfights. Or swordfights. They might carry weapons, like Quoril and his candy sword, but last ditch efforts were just that.

Sledge shook her hand just as Quoril had shaken his. The blunt pain of impact clinging to it. A pain she didn't much mind. Enjoyed, actually, in its own little masochistic way. Swords and maces and axes and all the rest had a detachment to them, and furthermore were all business; meant for killing, and not personal. Fists were for fun. Intimate. Nothing quite like that split second feel of knuckles and fingers slamming into someone else's body.

A release of tension. Wham. Right there. Had a way of bringing people closer together, in Sledge's view. Just look at Quoril now. She felt far better about him now that she'd channeled all her misgivings into that punch and rocked his face with her fist. Didn't have to worry about it anymore. Sure he could fuck up with something else in the future; it was near impossible not to, everybody did eventually. But until then, all she would need is to remember this trade of blows, and she'd be content.

Sledge started to put her gauntlet back on. Paused. Took the gauntlet off when he extended his hand and shook his with her own and then started to put the gauntlet back on again. Said in response to him, "Yeah. Much better. Now I don't have to worry about it, and neither do you. Heh, now I'm curious to see how you're going to swing that candy sword once we get into a fight. You fuck up, don't worry, I'll have your back."

Gauntlet back on, she turned and walked back to Mace. "Come on. Let's catch up."

And Sledge hoisted herself up onto Mace and took the reins and directed the bird around and started at a brisk trot to catch up with the moving caravan.