Completed Lethality

Alistair could not stop the eye roll at the predictable rogue Dreadlord. He was quick to react to the first thrown javelin, having already prepared for it. The second barricade of javelins was almost funny. A quick burst of kinetic force through a simple spell forced many of the newly transmogrified javelins back onto Kres, while Alistair jumped into the air attempting to avoid the rest.

By this point, Alistair began to relax, wanting to play with his opponent. He had already seen several moves ahead on how all of this needed to go. He would keep Kres busy, the threat of his saber never allowing Kress to focus on anything else. Then, Kristen would circle around and finish the job.

"Oh, poor mutt. So angry at your collar that you would designate one to everyone who you do not like. I followed a Republic, and ideal. You get led around on a leash like the little pup you are."

Kristen Pirian
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Kester wasn't pleased that his surprise bore no results, and even less pleased with Alistair's continued goading. His face was contorted with wrinkles born of anger, not just for the jabs at his unfortunate features but for the derision spoken of the Rogues at large. Loyalists! Thinking themselves superior! Archon Gilram held the true vision of Vel Anir in his hands, what Vel Anir was always meant to be. Kings and nobles held no real power; that was the domain of the Dreadlords!

Kester circled around just slightly, as if squaring up for close quarters combat. In truth, he was trying to line Alistair up. (What Kester did not see were the stealthy Withering Chains slithering out from the ceiling and the floor behind him, Kristen with newfound careful control manipulating them silently instead of violently).

"Big words from a small noble!"

Holding out his hands wide to his sides, Kester called all of his scattered Javelins from the floor and from the remains of the impromptu barricade to fly to his hands. This, of course, would see Alistair caught in the middle of the Javelins' flight—and such was Kester's intention.

Alistair Krixus
Alistair looked on in confusion for just a moment, having not been away from this aspect of Kester's abilities. His eyebrows raised in surprise before sensing something was off. An eye rune on his back sprung to life just in time to see the javelins flying toward him.

He twisted himself to the side just in time to avoid being completely impaled on the javelin, instead being thrown to the ground with a large cut to his side.

The warm blood flow on his side quickly stopped as runes worked to least ensure he did not die of blood loss. He grimaced up at his opponent. Normally, he could have bounced right up and continued to fight in pain, but unlike Kester, he did spot Kristen's chains.

"Seems like you can teach an old dog new tricks."

Kristen Pirian
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Kester's upturned hands filled with the bundles of recalled Javelins. Though he didn't score the mortal wound he was looking for, still Kester sneered when he caught sight of the blood on Alistair's side and the matching redness upon one of the clustered Javelins.

Even the jab didn't upset him (as much).

"You had your chance in the Blackwood," Kester said, raising up his right arm just a little higher in preparation to throw one of the Javelins. "And you chose poorly."

A Chain shot forward from behind Kester and ensnared the wrist of that arm. The others coiled around his ankles, his waist, debilitating him with the crushing slowness and weakness of old age. He gasped aloud, alarmed from the sickly feeling from the Chains as much as the surprise from having been caught unawares.

As much as it pained her to do, Kristen charged past Alistair. The fact of him being wounded might have thrown her off balance even as little as a few months ago. The somber realization she had in the frigid Blightlands raid, that she had drifted far from the Darling Daughter she once was, became more and more true, more and more pronounced, as these days in the dawn of her year in the Gilded Class went on.

There was a foe to finish. Her care, her worry, her dismay for Alistair's injury had to be corked up and sealed away until then, lest she crumble in the crucial moment.

Kester with his now meek arm threw a Javelin at her. Still once the weapon left his hand his magic propelled it with supernatural force, but his slowness made clear his intent, and Kristen ducked away in her charge effortlessly and pressed on, the boom of the Javelin's impact into the wall sounding somewhere behind her. Kester then dropped all his spare Javelins save one, wielding this like a spear or pugilist's staff.

And the study rang loudly, ceaselessly, with the flashing trades of strikes and parries.

Alistair Krixus
Kristen might have been cutting that one a little close, but she made it in time and that was all that mattered. The runes on Alistair's clothes were already working to ensure that Alistair would be hardy and healthy soon with only a scar to show for his troubles.

He scrambled to his feet but kept himself from immediately diving into the fight. Kristen was no longer the bumbling fighter he had once known. She moved with skill, so if he moved in without thinking then it would only serve to throw off her rhythm.

Instead, runes began to write themselves into the air as Alistair cast support spells and simple attack magics designed to hamper Kester without throwing off Kristen. He was confident that as long as one of them remained within melee with the rogue Dreadlord, then they would be victorious.

It was then that he saw the opening and grinned, a quick arcane ball of force shot out and collided with Kester's spear stopping it for the shortest moments. That was the opening that surely would allow Kristen to finish this.

"Kris, now!"

Kristen Pirian
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Even while debilitated by Kristen's Withering Chains, even while not being possessed of the greatest magic for melee combat, Kester still managed to hold his own for a good while. Mayhap an Initiate with far more experience in swordsmanship would have seen him defeated much sooner, but for Kristen...progress was indeed progress. Likely it was that she would have been flattened even as little as four or five months ago, let alone a year.

Alistair's assistance certainly helped.

Especially when he deflected one of Kester's blocks at a crucial moment, allowing Kristen's thrust to slid cleanly beneath his light breastplate, skewering him through the gut. Kester stopped, eyes wide and lips parted in disbelief, then his body jerked violently from the shock. He collapsed down to the floor and Kristen all the while dropped down with him, leaning forward and falling to a knee in order to keep her sword plunged deep in his abdomen.

"You Rogues," she spat. "Your bitterness toward Vel Anir disgusts me. This is for Ambrosie, her loyal heart avenged by the cessation of yours."

Kester, breathing with a mortal weightiness, looked up to Kristen and with that canine grin simply said, "You're already too late."

Alistair Krixus
"We will see about that dog."

They did not have time to bask in their victory. Several runes erupted along his clothes that seemed to force Alistair into extreme perspiration. He moved towards the wall that ran up the side of the spire.

"Kris, I'm out of coins, so you will have to find your own way up on this one." He shot her one last confident grin before leaping into the air with incredible strength, slamming his hands into the side of the wall, and starting climbing with clearly enhanced physical abilities.

Another physical enhancement rune that Alistair had recently improved, granting him far beyond normal physical capabilities in return for painful exhaustion later. It also served to keep his adrenaline pumping so as to ignore the wound on his side.

Were these rogues simply stealing from Markle? If so, then hopefully it was taking longer than Kester expected to take such a large amount of funds. With a grunt, he shoved himself over the edge of the top of the spire to find out who was the other member of this rogue heist.

Kristen Pirian
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Kristen scowled when Kester spoke his taunt. She stood, pulled out her sword, and plunged it into his neck, ensuring that those words he'd spoken were his last. Grim, bloody business, war and battle; yet against foes like these, spiteful traitors who sought to undo the greatest development in Anirian history (and by extension, damage House Pirian who indeed supported it), Kristen found it was easy to ignore the ugliness of the means. Her sword was coated in blood, but it was blood drawn in a just cause.

Yes, a Sentinel was not meek. A Sentinel did what she must to protect all she loved.

"Alistair, are you al—"

Hardly could she even check up on him, assuage her worry by asking him of his wounds, before Alistair was already on the move. Gods above! When determination took him, Alistair did not relent. Truly it was inspiring to behold, and worthy to emulate within herself.

"I will see you at the top."

She could take the stairs, but what were the chances that this was the route Kester's cohorts expected them to take? Best to go an unorthodox route like Alistair. And, fortunately, with the aid of the very artificial hand which Alistair himself had crafted for her, she had just the solution—the same which she had used to swing herself into the study's window prior.

Kristen went to the shattered window. Climbed atop the sill. And then, putting aside what queasiness she felt from looking to the ground far below, jumped out and spun in the air and shot a Chain from her palm all the way up to the top of the Spire. It wrapped around the decorative parapets and pulled taut and Kristen felt the familiar jerk in her arm. The Chain by retracting into her porcelain palm pulled her upward, and her feet she used to effectively run up the wall during this ascent.

She met Alistair at the top, surmounting the edge and planting her sabatons upon the very roof of the Spire. High wind from the heights fluttered her ponytail.

And there across from them was a man Kristen hoped she would never have to see again (and it wasn't Edric).

Bull. He stood by a hole in the roof, from which he had been extracting valuables from Markle's personal vault—insult to injury, for the greater sum was already secured. These valuables were all stored now in a hunchback of flesh on his back, and indeed, Bull's arms were still thick, long, and ropey, facilitating the theft which was now complete. His whole hairless body was bulbous and disproportioned, manipulated through his magic for a sort of "extra padding" through layers of fat and engorged muscle.

He flashed a toothy grin when he saw them. "Too bad there's no time to collect those pretty ears."

Alistair Krixus
The perspiration still fell heavily down Alistair's brow, but as he made it to the top, he stood with confidence as his muscles strained for more activity.

He would have sprung into action right then and there had not he been so shocked to see who their final assailant was.

It was Bull. The monstrous fucker who had haunted nearly every person he had come across during his time at the Academy. Almost as soon as this realization struck him, he found that Kristen had come to stand beside her.

For once, a small sliver of something that wasn't logical popped into his brain during a mission. The smallest, and darkest bit of exhilaration pulsed through him as a smile sprung to his lips. His right hand reached for the runesaber at his belt. There was no reason to hold back here. He was going to skewer this meat bag.

"I won't lie Bull. I'm going to enjoy this."

He did not wait for a plan or to get a measure of his opponent. This was Bull. He knew him well. Alistair rushed in and ignited his blade, wanting to end this as soon as possible.

Kristen Pirian
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Kristen stood transfixed for a moment, staring at the man whom she had greeted naively and thereby committed the first mistake in a long procession of the same during that turbulent first year at the Academy. Bull was one of those Initiates who personified the old way, who didn't just accept it but actively embraced and enjoyed it. There was no measure of redemptive quality in those flat, dead eyes of his. Like his very moniker, he was more animal than man, bereft of anything remotely resembling an ennobled human spirit.

The capacity for forgiveness Kristen might believe to be a high virtue, but for men like Bull, it stood in stark relief that forgiveness could only go so far. That forgiveness should only go so far. To protect all those around him from his malice, from his predations, there was only one way, as ancient as the world itself, to ensure it.

"At least now you relinquish all pretense," Kristen said. Bull had revealed his true colors in siding with Gilram, and here it was plain to see that this was merely a means to his deplorable ends, an excuse to do as his sinister whims wished. And oh did she have to agree with Alistair. Whereas with Kester it felt more like honorable duty, here it was different. Here, frankly, it was personal. Kristen could still vividly remember the disgusting feeling of Bull's slimy tongue wiggling around in her ear.

Alistair charged, Kristen close behind him. She thought on what would be the most effective, what magic of hers would be the most likely to succeed against Bull as well.

Bull was unfazed by the two of them, for there was a plan already in place. He tore a chunk of stone from the edge of the hole in the roof and flung it at Alistair; hardly intent on injuring him, more so intent on throwing him off for a second. And in that second Bull thumped one of his massive boots down on the roof, an unnatural reverberation shivering down the whole of the Spire.

This was the signal to the third and final Rogue Dreadlord below to bring the tower crashing down.

Another explosion rocked the Spire near its base, and the Spire shook unsteadily. Kristen stumbled as the roof tilted (and indeed the entire tower) tilted ever so slightly. Like a tree on the precipice of falling after an axeman had worked steadily at chopping its base, the Spire was now primed for an inevitable collapse down upon the rest of Markle's Guild Hall. The sound of glass shattering and wood groaning could be heard from all floors of the Spire.

Kristen righted herself. Bull was grinning wildly at them.

"Alistair??" she said, coming to realize what was happening.

Alistair Krixus
Alistair had never had to face off against Bull during his entire time at the Academy. He was a student that Al had not actively looked for. The man was just all-around unsettling. To this day, some of the most unsettling things he had ever seen were on missions with Bull.

The man was hard to read like he was just some simple meat suit. Yet, he somehow did things that would shill others to their core. It was for this reason that Alistair did not hesitate in the slightest, at the idea of killing him.

This metaphorical red that he was seeing also made Alistair slow to understand exactly what was happening as he stumbled to the side, barely dodging the rock thrown at him. He looked back at Kristen with a worried look as he felt the spire begin to give way beneath him.

His first thought was wondering how they were going to survive this fall. With their magic, it would be close, but...the people beneath. Alistiar's eyes grew wide as he quickly made a calculated decision. The people beneath would have to take care of themselves, maybe some of the mages of the city would help. However...

They were here to hunt.

"Kris, keep going. Focus on the problem in front of you."

In a very literal sense, Bull was the closest problem. The ground would be the second.

So many things he needed to do quickly. Several runes floated into the air as Alistair began to draw, sending different colored arcane bolts streaking toward Bull. Eyes all over his clothing began to glow, keeping his eyes on Kristen, Bull, and the surrounding area. To much was going on as Alistair cursed as he stumbled from a stone beneath his feet giving way.

Kristen Pirian
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"I don't—!"

Know if I can, is how Kristen would have finished that sentence. The Spire was cracking and breaking all throughout its structure, the ground upon which the three of them stood steadily tilting more and more as the tower continued to topple over. Kristen, for her part, tried to take a step forward, to keep going and focus on the problem as Alistair had said, but she almost lost her balance and her footing upon doing so. She struggled to remain standing.

Bull turned from them and ran to the other side (the side which would become the "top" of the tower as it continued to fall over, as it were) of the Spire's roof. Arcane bolts struck his bulbous flesh here and there, he grunted in pain as his skin was seared, but the magic amounted to little more than a nuisance to him—seemed he may have learned a thing or two, increasing his already formidable resilience, while among the Rogues.

Bull stood now atop the new apex of the falling tower like some kind of conquering figure standing upon a summit with a knee elevated to survey his conquest, and he said to them, "We'll see each other soon enough."

And he disappeared over the now diagonal parapets. Who knew if he simply jumped all the way off the tower or was riding it down or had some other means to see himself to the ground; vision of him was blocked now.

Kristen had to lean into the roof now to keep from sliding off entirely, punching her porcelain hand (thank Aionus for Alistair's work!) through the weakened stone and finding purchase for this crucial moment. She glanced wildly about at Vel Luin below them, lurching (from her perspective) up toward them, searching for anything she might try to desperately shoot a Chain out to grasp. Her choices were between poor options aplenty.

"I-I-I can try! I can try to use my Chains! Jump and swing away!" she offered quickly.

It was all she could do, unless Alistair had a better solution for them in the next few seconds. The thunder from the Spire's collapse was close to its crescendo, and dust shaken from the tower was already billowing out into the air, leaving a hazy ghost were once the tower had stood straight and level.

Alistair Krixus
Alistair fired off his barrage of arcane bolts and was prepared to charge forward once again when he noticed himself slipping. At this point, he had to use his hands to slow his descent. The room was turned completely sideways, and indication that this tower would soon be hitting to grow.

He grit his teeth in irritation as he rushed over to stand next to Kristen. Taking her left hand in his right, he nodded.

"Do it. I'll be there to help us land."

At this point, the room was beginning to turn completely upside down. Meaning they would be landing soon. Alistair drew a rune in the air that seemed to wrap around Kristen's leg.

"You're up."

Kristen Pirian
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Kristen clutched Alistair's hand with an intensity whose full extent she could not possibly be aware of in the moment. All around them was a cacophony of chaos as the Spire was breaking apart as well as toppling over. Gods, at least she'd felt the sensation of plummeting from dizzying heights before! She could easily imagine going frigid with fear if this was her first time being exposed to such.


Kristen let go of her handhold in the Spire's roof and whipped her porcelain hand around and desperately launched a Chain from her palm. She had seen a nearby building, a shop, (adjacent to but not in the shadow of the collapsing tower) with some decorative spires on its four corners. It wasn't a particularly tall building, and the angle of her and Alistair's approach wouldn't allow them to swing neatly without smacking into the wall; but there wasn't any other better choice, nor time to find one.

Her Chain spun around one of those decorative spires again and again until it was firmly set. Kristen made the Chain go taut, and she and Alistair swung as the Aulane Markle's prized tower crashed with a roar to shake all Vel Luin and disappeared into a whirlwind of dust.

This cloud of disastrous dust billowed furiously past Kristen and Alistair, choking the sight from their eyes and turning day into a dark brown night. Kristen didn't know when exactly her side smacked into the shop's outer wall as she predicted, but she remembered a sheer blunt pain erupting from nowhere.

The Chain was still tight. Her feet scraped along the ground. Then the Chain went slack (the decorative spire had broken) and she and Alistair dropped roughly to the ground: feet then knees then hands then face.

Alistair Krixus
Alistair was left to the strings of fate, or more specifically Kristen and her chain as he felt them begin their swing. The only thing he was aware of was Kristen's strong, vice-like grip, and that was her normal hand. It was almost painful, but the other option was for him to be splattered on the ground beneath him, so he would remain thankful.

He fell the to end of their swing coming before he saw it, and was preparing to cast another spell that would help them land. However, such a spell was lost as the two of them slammed into the side a wall. The air was pushed from his lungs, and if that wasn't bad enough, he was jolted once again when he landed painfully to the ground.

Alistair struggled to force some air into his lungs, only to succeed and pull in dust directly into his lungs. He had nearly coughed up a lung by the time he got to his knees. Al brought up his hand in an attempt to protect his eyes from the debris as he looked around.

"Kris! Kris, are you ok?"

Most of his body was in pain, but he could feel a bit of sharp pain in his arm, maybe a fracture. He would have to get that looked at later.

Kristen Pirian
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"My arm..." was the first thing Kristen could actually hear herself mumbling. "I can't..."

She blinked. Once, twice, and then rapidly. With her right arm, the one she could actually move, she reached up and carefully brushed at her face, tried to clear her eyes, yet the porcelain of her fingertips was not so well suited for it. That, and the dust all around them seemed endless, like they had suddenly been whisked away to a realm that was naught but desert, and resettled upon what progress she was able to make.

She heard Alistair and immediately her hand went from her face and began searching semi-blindly for him, patting along the ground until she felt clothes instead of cobbles.

"Alistair? I am here. My arm...I believe...ah!...yes, I cannot move my left arm."

It was the side which had struck the shop during their swing; the impact had dislocated her arm from the shoulder.

Alistair Krixus
By now, the ringing in his own ears was beginning to subside, only to be replaced by the screams and shouts in the distance of people calling for help. He cursed under his breath as he scrambled over to Kristen to gently touch the shoulder that she could feel. That was the one with the porcelain arm.

No, he would not let her lose the other.

A rune activated along his neck that caused his normally dark blue eyes to shift into a far lighter, almost white color. His eyes scanned over her body, seeming to nod in satisfaction.

"A dislocation, and then some smaller bumps and bruises that can wait for later...I can fix it now, but it will hurt."

However, before she could give him the ok, he suddenly grabbed her left shoulder and gave a firm pull and then a swift push, relocating the shoulder into its socket. It would hurt like hell, but the sooner it was fixed then the better it would feel later. He would apologize later for the sudden action.

"There, done."

He quickly cast another simple spell that began to push the dust away in the area to improve their view.

Kristen Pirian
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Indeed, as her lips parted to say something further, Alistair had already popped ball of her arm back into the socket of her shoulder, and what instead escaped her mouth was a yelp and a high-pitched and briefly lived shriek of pain. Her mouth was still wide open in a now soundless scream as she rolled to the left (big mistake), and then rolled to the right, clutching at her left arm. She stopped. Breathed heavily as she opened her eyes. Gingerly did she look at her left arm, and even more gingerly did she try to move it; and yes it could move, but still there was a lingering sharpness and burning which said movement did only inflame.

Still, she found the wherewithal for gratitude. "Th-Thank you...Alistair..."

And with a strained groan she forced herself to sit up, taking stock then of their surroundings. They'd effectively a capsule of clean air created by Alistair's spell, beyond which the haze of dust still swirled and hovered, but they had some visibility. Enough to see some of the destruction of the Spire's collapse, the Markle Guild Hall which it was connected to now crushed under all of that broken stone and metal and all else, a total ruin. Wailing and weeping and shouts aplenty could be heard from corners near and far, and it was clear even through the veil of dust that all Vel Luin was thrown into a state of alarm from so conspicuous and disastrous an event as the tower's fall.

Kristen looked up to Alistair, eyes big and round and fractured throughout with dismay. But with her emotion set aside she said soberly, "We should go and find Markle and Malik."

In the back of her mind, of course, was Bull. He may have eluded them for the present, but they could not, could not, allow him to get away.

Alistair Krixus
Kristen's words reached him, but he only nodded absentmindedly as he looked off into the distance. Every move and every cry was new information telling Alistair of a new problem that he desperately wanted to solve. That girl's leg was broken. A boy was looking around, likely for his parents. The dust was causing most of the confusion with people unable to see. It was all overwhelming, but Alistair just wanted to help.

Slowly, he took a deep breath and then exhaled, looking down to meet Kristen's gaze. This time he nodded more in the affirmative.

The time for subtlety was over. He forced more energy into the spell blowing away the air before casting another simple spell that amplified his voice. Then he began to speak.

"Initiate Malik, please follow my voice and bring with you Mr. Markle, quickly...or make your location known to us."

He was not sure how far the voice would carry, but anyone that he could see was now looking towards him so that was a start. Unfortunately, the revelation that Alistair was a magic caster caused many people that start making their way toward them.

"Let's get moving."

Kristen Pirian
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Alistair's magic, his dispersion of the dust and the amplification of his voice, did indeed prompt a crowd to find him and Kristen and to beg them for help. Kristen's dismay was compounded as each request, each entreaty, each cry for help came rolling in. It was all she could do to say, "I am sorry," as gently as she could, her magic insufficient to help any of them at all. Dreadlords were forged to be excellent in battle, in war, but in times like these? She felt helpless, as if she were not so gifted at all, and her heart sank as she could see in the eyes of those she turned down that she could do nothing for them and their plights.

Perhaps one day, after many more prayers and having done what it is she must do to please Aionus, she would have bestowed upon her magic of the kind she truly desired. Magic which could have helped here.

Malik emerged from the thinning haze not far from where they had been ambushed at the city gates. Markle was following him, still in a kind of fixated agitation over all that had happened, muttering to himself "How? How? How could it be?"

Malik, meanwhile, carried Ambrosie in his arms, her body pale, her eyes closed, her limbs limp.

"She's dead," he said, betraying no emotion over it, no hint of sadness or anger or glee or anything, as was typically the Dreadlord way.

Kristen, however, was visibly crushed. "May she find rest...and better rest, when we put into the grave the other Rogues responsible for this."

Alistair Krixus
As they drew near, Alistair's eyes quickly trained in on Mailk and Markle. Kristen could see Alistair's jawline growing more rigid as his annoyance grew with the crowd around them. His eyes briefly passed over Ambrosie's body, and there was a look. It was not sadness, that would be ludicrous for a Dreadlord. It was far closer to annoyance like Alistair had just lost an important piece on a chessboard.

Standing up to his full height, his voice echoed over the crowd.

"We are Dreadlords! Not the city's healers. Find your way to the nearest healing houses. City personnel will soon be making rounds to ensure everyone's safety. If you bother us any further, you will be removed for obstruction of justice."

Alistair had no clue how quickly city personnel would be moving, but the sternness in his voice seemed to at least cause many of the people to pause and take a step back.

With that momentary gap, he moved to stand before Malik and Markle.

"Malik, ensure that Ambrosie's body is properly cared for. Markle round up any men you can find, they will listen to you, start helping the people." Alistair snapped a finger at another boy that was close by. "You! Find me two horses. Fast ones." He threw the boy several gold coins.

Alistair finally turned his attention back to Kristen.

"Kristen, we will move out as soon as possible to apprehend the thieves."

Kristen Pirian
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"Dreadlord! If I may!" Markle said suddenly, perhaps the direct command jostling him out his fixation (and even causing him to add some uncharacteristic politeness with the If I may at the end).

"What is it?" Kristen asked.

Markle, though, either ignored her outright or was so focused upon Alistair that he didn't even register that she had spoken. "These trickers, these thieves, these imposters! I have an idea of where they might be going!"

Alistair Krixus
"Then speak up man. We don't have much time and only a thin trail to follow at the moment."

Alistair's sharp hawk-like eyes snapped over to look at the man. For all of Markle's impressive reputation for trade, today had only proven that he was just a man like any other. A man who made really dumb mistakes like not confirming Dreadlord identification through codes.

He, on the other hand, was not just a man. He was a Dreadlord, so he and Kristen would solve this mess for the man. Hopefully, Markle would be appreciative and Alistair could gain a favor from this.

By this point, Alistair noticed the boy he had ordered had already managed to find two horses for them and was pulling them down the road. Good lad. It was clear the horses were a little skittish from all the debris, but they would have to do.

"Malik, if you do not hear word from us within the day. You will send word to request further aid to continue the hunt, as it is likely that we have failed."

Kristen Pirian
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"Yes, Dreadlord," Malik said, characteristic not only of his brevity but also of the heavily ingrained obedience to authority.

Kristen herself thought this division Alistair had conjured was good. Malik could help see to Vel Luin's security, for who knew whether some secondary strike might be planned here or not (and as well, he could see to poor Ambrosie's final needs). But Bull. Bull! Never before had Kristen felt such a powerful urge to be a part of a hunt for a villain, a criminal, an utter ruin of a man! Bull, even among such contemptible company as the Rogues, had no qualities to redeem himself. She could say ten nice things, a hundred nice things, a thousand nice things about Edric before muttering even a half-formed, forcibly charitable comment about Bull. In no way had Bull spared his soul from any form of depravity. He was a man who for himself permitted everything, denied himself nothing, and this vileness beget only more vileness in a horrid loop without end.

May Pandemonium swallow him whole (and his awful fetish with ears!).

Kristen turned her attention from the boy who had dutifully fetched them a pair of horses back to Markle. The man had organized his thoughts for a moment, and now began to speak. "Listen, so, I encountered these imposters, these so-called Initiates, here in Vel Luin. They knew me (but that's not surprising). They knew that I had requested a mission from the Academy and what specifically it was. They knew everything!"

Kristen glanced worriedly to Alistair and then back to Markle. "Did they...have our codes?" A procedure updated for this new and uncertain era with Gilram's Rogue Dreadlords running about; something specifically meant to stop an occurrence just like this from happening in the first place.

"Rose. Midnight. Fencer," Markle said, giving off each of the codewords identifying Ambrosie, Malik, and Kristen for this mission (and this specific mission only) that but a small number of people should even have had access to. "Those are it, aren't they?"

"Blessed Aionus..." Kristen said breathlessly. Somewhere, somehow, a leak had happened. Or worse...there were more Jenna's at the Academy.

Markle massaged his head, still clearly frustrated over everything, and said, "It's done. In any case! So, I went with these imposters south, to the peninsula, to Vel Acan as it so happened. I had some finalized business there and a great sum of gold to pick up and consolidate here in Vel Luin before delivering my donation to the Army of the South. I have reason to believe that they might be heading to Vel Acan again!"

Kristen went a little pale and shuddered at the very mention of the name Vel Acan.

The place of her first mission. The place of her most embarrassing failure.

Alistair Krixus
Alistair frowned, the apparent situation far worse than what he had originally believed. If there was an information leak, then this mission was certainly not the only one in danger of being compromised.

"Slight change of plans. We will head towards Vel Acan and retrieve your funds and the thieves. Markle, I want you to get your fastest rider and fastest horse, or use magical transmissions if you have any. You need to get word to Vel Anir that the codes and potentially other information have been leaked to rogues. There will need to be an immediate overhaul."

Trying to find a mole in the Dreadlords was one of the most difficult things to do. They would need to send in a specialist for that, although the process may go quicker if the mole is an initiate.

Alistair wasted no more time in hoisting himself into the saddle of one of the horses. Vel Acan was close enough by. Hopefully, they could catch Bull before he made it inside the walls.

"Let's move. Malik, change the timeline and allow us two days to get back to you."

He would wait for Kristen to get herself saddled up before quickly moving out of the city. The hunt was on and there was no time to waste.

Kristen Pirian
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