Private Tales More then Steel

Karl von Stehlen

The Stalwart Shield
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"No one should be ashamed to admit he is wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday."
-Alexander Pope

Karl von Stehlen was often a man whom was in the present of some company, weather it be his family, other knights of the realm, or other people whom belonged to the realm. Yet it was the odd moment that Karl found himself on his own, and often times when he did...he would find himself involved with some manner of commotion or another.

This was one of those instances.

The knight and black had simply been moving along the roads of the Strojland countryside, coming not to far from his mentor's manner. The knight had been assign to patrol with his mentor in the last few days, yesterday so being the last. At the moment, he technically had some down time before his next assignment, and had decided to trot on home back to the family estate.

It might have even been a quiet trip, but when Karl was on his own...these were hardly the case.

Instead, he was now standing in the middle of the road, both hands on his hips, as he observed a massive footprint in the middle of the road. Aside from damaging the integrate of the road, there was a pool of blood that had gathered in the middle of this foot print. One would hesitate to think of all the scenarios of what had happened that would have caused this pool of blood...but that wasn't Karl's primary concern at the moment.

This was not an uncommon thing among the realm, monsters or beasts would occasionally roamed about the lands, with a fair number of them being fairly peaceful. This certainly did not seem like a peaceful animal, at the very least...it could be the cause of a lot of trouble.

Now the question was: What to do? Investigate further? Perhaps go down to the nearest village to do some inquires, call in back up of the nearby patrols of knights or soldiers, sending out a scouting team to find further traces of this thing...and then isolate and eliminate, if necessary, or just simply drive it from the land.

Of course, life hardly goes according to plan. Before Karl had a chance to remount Daisy and go for help, somthing suddenly caught his attention....
Sledge
 
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Sledge

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Fucking Strojland. What a welcome.

The pine forests were beautiful. The misty and lingering fog of the overcast day gorgeous. Added a whole sense of bliss and wonder to the place. Like Falwood, but not entirely. Human lands always seemed to have a rough edge to them beneath the veneer that Sledge liked. It was probably more bias on her part than actual truth, but Falwood seemed more harmonious. Boringly perfect. Fal'Addas and the surrounding area certainly gave off that impression.

So her former mercenary work and her current bounty hunter work often had her in the triangle. The Alliria-Elbion-Vel Anir triangle. And there was always something to do. Always.

Until there wasn't. Or, at least, nothing she could find that suited her interests. High tide, low tide, and this was a low tide. Too many problems had been solved, so problem-solvers weren't in demand so much. Sure that could change in a month or during a trip from Alliria to either Elbion or Vel Anir, that awful fucking city. But that was then, and this was now.

So Sledge figured a trip down to the nearby lands of Strojland seemed apropos enough. Hadn't been before. Might as well see what trouble the humans there needed help with, if anything.

Only, as she rode Mace down the road, an actual cobblestone road that was maintained well-enough surprisingly, she didn't meet anybody or see any towns. Maybe she would have. In time.

If an enormous Unhold hadn't sprang from the treeline and attacked.

Sledge had to leap off of Mace. Moa Striders were never meant to be combat mounts, and Mace didn't want to be anywhere near that lumbering beast. Smart girl. A split second decision, to choose between trying to outrun the Unhold on an agitated Mace, or jump off and fight the damn thing.

An easy choice.

But, as it was turning out, not the wisest one.

Sledge had been fighting the Unhold for about ten or fifteen minutes. The huge, lumbering beast. She'd only heard of them before from monster slayers in taverns. And they were ugly as fuck to look at in person. Some nine or ten feet tall, green and brown leathery skin, bone protrusions like studs on their arms and back, thick arms and legs, big fat nose and jagged teeth, not too dissimilar from a troll. But they didn't regenerate, ran on simple instinct, and weren't especially aggressive or hostile, just fiercely territorial. Like a bear in temperament.

The beast was massive and slow. Wailing its big arms around in wide swipes. Sledge must have struck the beast about a hundred times and still it kept going, the impact of her winged maces seemingly absorbed by its thick hide. Sure, it bled in many spots where the flanges had managed a puncture, but the blood only oozed; nothing grievous.

And now, as Sledge slowly circled around the lumbering Unhold in the small forest clearing, panting heavily as her mount Mace lingered around the periphery, she knew she couldn't keep up the fight. Her muscles burned and ached. Begging her for rest. Her elven quickness had degenerated horribly from fatigue. Disgusting sweat coated her entire body. And there was no end to the beast's endurance.

She realized then her mistake.

Each and every one of those monster slayers who spoke of Unholds all had big, sharp weapons. Longaxes, bastard swords, fighting spears, pikes. Not a blunt weapon among them, or on their person at the time when she spoke with them.

Fuck. These big, meaty monsters could weather blunt force trauma for days, couldn't they? She needed something to pierce or slice through that thick hide, and she didn't have it.

She needed to leave. Distract the damn Unhold, make it trip or get stuck for a moment, then take the opportunity to get back on Mace and get the hell out of here.

The Unhold roared and started charging at her again. Big arms swinging. Eyes glaring.

Dodge this and get it stuck between the two trees behind her. Escape. Fight it another day. With a bigass pike or something.

Only, her legs locked up. Her muscles finally giving out. Unresponsive. She'd asked too much of her body in too short a time. And this was the final protest.

"Sh--!"

The Unhold backhanded Sledge and sent her flying off of her feet and her back crashed into one of the trees behind her and her body spun round and round in the air and she slammed down onto the forest floor, sliding back. A mound of fallen leaves gathered by her body and a trail of dirt where once they had been.

She couldn't breathe.

All the air in her lungs gone.

Her chest tight.

Mouth open.

Eyes wide.
 
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Karl von Stehlen

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At first, it sounded like somthing was hammering away at a surface...grunting too...loud thumbs....but what really caught Karl's attention was when he heard somthing that sounded like a body hitting somthing hard, which caused him to posture his body upright. In his time in the Order, the lad had heard many gruesome sounds associated to the living body. One of the most common was the thud of a body, as the merrid of training regimes were quite physical, the sound of bodies hitting the floor with great speed was common...so the Karl understood exactly what that meant...or at least, he could infer.

Within seconds, the knight had taken a few steps back from the footprint and mounted his steed, Daisy. She's was a brave charger whom have seen as many battles and skirmishes with Karl. Yet what ever had caused that noise or made that foot print, it seemed to have spooked Karl's companion.

No matter, duty called.


Karl reached over and gave Daisy a reassuring rub, calming her a bit...focusing her for what was to come, before urging her forward into the forest and towards the sound. Normally, Karl might have sent for help, as it was always advised when going into battle to always do so with someone watching your back. The issue here was Karl didn't have the luxury of time on his hand, so he had to take that risk, against his better judgment.

To the right, a monster that was akin to a troll, but a bit smaller and much harrier. There was no doubt in the knight's mind that the footprint from earlier belonged to this beast. To the left, laying on the ground was a body. Karl grunted, unable to see if the figure was still breathing, but what he certainly could see was the massive beast advancing upon it.

Another grunt, as Karl reached up with his free hand to push down his face plate, covering his already indifferent expression, before reached down to his belt, where two swords remained sheathed. The knight would draw the upper blade, brandishing it in one hand, as he readied the shield already in the other...bracing himself, as he urged Daisy on into a sprint...as the two began to pick up speed, swerving around the trees...charging stright at the Unhold.

The next few seconds went by almost in a blur, as the knight charged, he was urging is mount to the left. They picked up speed, Daisy's gallop suddenly becoming an apparent sound within the forest, and Karl holding himself steady as they galloped, his plume wavering as the wind brushed past it. It was then the two entered a charge, man and mount, as they speed behind the Unhold. As they did, Karl brought his sword back, and as the two passed the rear of the Unhold, the knight used their momentum to slice horizontally. The force was able to cut through the skin, although the cut was not as deep as the knight would have liked, but it was enough to draw the beast's attention.

The beast roared in what seemed like agony, as Karl urged Daisy to a slow, turning about just in time to see that the Unhold had turned about and was now facing them, somthing was off about this one...but there was little time to ponder the thought, as the beast charged forward, it's footsteps seemingly shaking the ground as it moved as it broke through the tree branches in it's path.

It probably wouldn't have been advisable to counter-charge, but Daisy was spooked and Karl had to do somthing, as he urged Daisy to move. Daisy moved, neighing and bucking a little as she did, as the two desperately tried to move out of the Unhold's path of destruction.

The two were barely able to get out of the way as the beast went sailing by, as Karl urged his mount to wheel around the back of the beast. Karl raised his sword and slashed forward at the monster, cutting into it's hide, yet not able to do more given the franticness of the situation. Karl continued to wheel Daisy about, slashing at the beast where he could, urging Daisy to keep moving in order to stay out of the Unhold's reach.

However, at some point the Unhold got lucky, as when Karl tried to Wheel Daisy around again, a massive backhand caught the knight in the chest. Karl was barely able to bring his shield up when the sheer force of the Upheld sent the armored knight t soaring through the air, hitting a branch, then being sent into the ground. Karl gritted his teeth as he felt himself hit the floor, but his armor was able to cushion his fall. It must of been a testimony to the lad's durability or tenacity to be able to stand up, especially a few seconds after being hit by such a massive force, but this was nothing new to Karl; years of lancer practice had granted the knight many experiences of getting thrown off Daisy via some tremendous force and eating dirt...but more importantly, those experiences taught him how to stand back up and keep fight.

Thus, up he went, grunting heavily as he did, picking up his fallen sword as he rose, debris falling off his armor and his red plume bouncing, bringing up the shield that had been strapped tightly to his other arm. Karl looked up through his visors at the Unhold, seeing Daisy in the background trotting away...thankfully out of danger...as he refocused on the beast...safe in the knowledge that this monster's attention was on him, and not on the body that was currently lying a few feet away from them.​
 
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Sledge

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Something distracted the Unhold. Something that raced past it. A horse? Another Unhold? Mace? Whatever it was, it made the Unhold roar in pain.

Sledge blinked. Hard. Did it a few more times. Tried to banish the stars floating about in front of her eyes and the hazy edges around the periphery of her vision. Slowly, gradually, the tightness of her chest loosened and air rushed into her lungs in quick, hitching gulps.

It could have been worse. Hell, she could have been dead. Her armor helped, but it was the gambeson underneath that softened the blow against the tree the most. Human-made gambesons she generally looked down on, but such a coat would've been a far greater boon in this case. Much more padding. Elven efficiency and craft made for gambesons that didn't need as many layers. Still great against slashes and piercing--and even better for travel comfort--but worse than human gambesons against blunt forces.

Lucky human bastards would've bounced right off of that tree like a pillow, most likely. Up on their feet again, still as spry as can be. Maybe she was giving too much credit to the protective qualities of a human-made gambeson, but that didn't stop her wishful thinking.

The snapping of a branch. Sledge clenched her teeth and rolled her body around to face it. An act of survival instinct and willpower to push herself up to her hands and knees.

And she saw a horse go by. So it was a horse.

A glance over to where she last saw Mace. Yes, still there. Eyeing the horse and the towering Unhold alike warily. Craning her long neck around in a curious but ultimately apprehensive way.

Back to the Unhold.

Wait. There was somebody there. A knight of some kind. And he had a sword! A shield, too, but a sword!

Sledge took a few quick breaths and collected her maces and forced herself back up onto her feet. Staggering a bit as the world in her skull had to right itself.

She started toward the Unhold. Its back to her. Facing the knight.

"Hey!" she yelled. An attempt to get the Unhold's attention. Failed. "Hey, fucker!"

Failed again. They were beasts of a single-track mind.

So Sledge ran up and lifted her maces brought them both swinging down, trying and failing to get the points of the maces' flanges to dig into the thick hide of the Unhold's back. Worth a try, even if it amounted to little more than a miniscule crack in the flesh to match the dozens of others she'd left on the beast.

She did, however, get its attention.

It turned. Elbow first. The big bone ramming straight into her breastplate with force enough to lift her off her feet some distance from the ground. She flew back, not as dramatically as with the earlier backhand, her body still mostly upright. She landed on her feet, but the backward momentum carried her stumbling back and back and further back until she fell down ungracefully on her ass.

And the Unhold growled and started stomping toward her. Its back now to the knight.

She scrambled backward with her arms and legs, muttering, "Shit, shit, shit!"
 
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Karl von Stehlen

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The beast was almost upon the knight had it not for somthing that forced it's attention. Karl had been prepare to receive the charge, as his stance was firm and his blade at the ready. Could he have with stood the charge? Was that even his plan? It was hard to tell now, given that the Unhold had whirled around to face the menace to it's rear.

This would also attract Karl's attention, as his eyes fell upon what had distracted the beast; it was hard to tell at first, but he could tell it had been the body that was strewn from earlier, given the armor. It was by her voice did he identify her as a women, a crude one at that, kinda like a gruffer version of his younger sister...anyways, this women in armor now held the beast's attention.

Why? Well that was a good question, she had been laying on the ground not just a moment ago like she was dead, and now she was up fighting this beast...but to be fair, Karl had his full plate armor butt knocked all the way into a tree, so he didn't really have much room to talk...

Back to the battle, this women had charged the beast swinging two maces at the beast. This certain caught it's attention, as mentioned, and it turned around to deal with the issue. Karl was able to snap out of his stare, as he spun his sword forward, raising his shield forward and placing the blade on top in a defensive advance sort of style. It was starting to become apparent that merely slicing at the beast was not going to work, his blade wasn't penetrating deep enough. So, time to try stabbing.

Thus, the knight charged forward, shield up and the blade resting to it's side, as he dashed towards the rear of the beast. As the knight moved forward, he was able to catch a glimpse of the women in armor getting knocked to the side. Yet he could only spare a glance, as now the Unhold was about to be upon her.

Now or never.

Karl charged, grabbing onto the mid section of his blade with his shield hand and stabbed forward with all his momentum like a spear. The blade made impact, stabbing into the hide of the beast, driving deep into the beast's hide. The knight would then quickly withdraw the blade, yanking it out with both hands, before plunging it back into the same spot. This time, it made the puncture bigger, as the knight desperately pushed in...causing the beast to roar in agony.

Now he got it's attention!

The roar caused Karl withdrew his blade and then himself backwards, bring back up his shield in tandem as the Uphold raised an arm. The knight only got a few inches backwards before he halted, opting to brace himself, as the troll brought down it's log like hand. Upon impact, the shield began to glow, dampening the kinetic force that had been delivered...like it was absorbing it's energy...but even so, the weight of the blow almost knocked the knight off his feet, instead he slide backwards in the dirt, holding his ground as much as he could against the impact.

Karl had survived the direct blow, but that didn't mean this was over; far from it, as the beast raised both his arms. The knight knew he was going to get splattered in an instance if he took a direct hit from both hands, instead quickly trying to scrabble out of the beast's way...as the monster began to bring down both it's hands towards the knight.....​
 
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Sledge

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It was working. The beast was powerful, but it was still just a beast. Sledge and the knight's impromptu back-and-forth tactic had the thing bewildered. It'd be up to the knight to deliver the killing blow with his sword, and by the sound of the Unhold's agonized roar he was well on his way to doing just that. But Sledge had her part to play too. Provide those openings and opportunities for him. And then they could both get the fuck out of here alive.

Sledge got to her feet. Not as quickly as she normally would, given the fatigue. She'd have to be careful.

The Unhold's back to her. The knight, with a very handy shield it appeared, took a blow from the beast proverbially on the chin. Even the shield's magic didn't completely protect against the beast's might, as the knight slid back and left tracks in the dirt similar to the one she had left earlier.

And the beast was relentless. Raising its massive arms to pound the knight again.

Sledge grit her teeth and ran forward. Had in mind something to really get its attention. Interrupt its overhead strike with something it couldn't ignore. Hopefully.

She shot her right leg out and slid across the forest floor. Low and near to the beast's foot, she slammed her right mace down on its big toes with all the lingering strength she had left. Everybody fucking hated stubbing their toes.

And the Unhold was no exception. It howled. Arms waving about in the air. A second's worth of time where it seemed to forget everything but the sharp pain in its foot.

Problem. It glared down at her now. And she was in an awkward position and incredibly close to the beast.

"Fuck."

She tried scooting back. But the endurance of the beast kept its speed, meager and clumsy as it was, constant, while hers had been drained from exhaustion.

The Unhold swooped both its hands down and grabbed her about the waist in its enormous and powerful grasp. Easily lifting her up and off the forest floor, her feet dangling.

It opened its huge mouth wide. Looking to literally bite her head off.

Sledge tossed her left mace away and grabbed her right mace with both hands and shoved it into the fanged maw of the beast and braced. Like a rickety support beam in a collapsing mine shaft, it held, but likely not for long.

Hot, reeking breath. The beast's saliva, its disgusting, nasty, foul, dis-fuckin-gusting spit on her face and her armor and in her hair. Its slimy tongue whipping around her hands and the mace she held. Its bottom row of fangs scraping against the armor of both arms, its top row against the left side of her face and dragging across her skin as the beast maneuvered its head, drawing blood and cutting gashes into her cheek, her forehead, her temple, her ear, as its teeth scraped along the flesh. And she could only lean her head back and arch her back so much to avoid the fangs.

At the very least, the beast's solution seemed to be 'bite down harder' instead of 'get mace out of mouth first'.

And Sledge yelled, "Kill it, kill it, kill~~~ it!"
 
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Karl von Stehlen

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Karl just blinked, as he watched the beast roar in pain, his eyes quickly darting to the women who had inflicted the wound. It had been a questionable area to place strikes, Karl might have aimed...a little bit higher, but now was hardly the time for mild suggestions. The knight was suddenly snapped back to attention by the movement of the Uphold's arms, quickly backpeddling to put some distance between him and the beast's flailing hands.

A mistake, realized only after the knight had taken a few steps back; the monster's attention was now on the women, and it now grappled her in one hand like some sort of toy doll. Worst yet, it was doing the completely predicable thing of trying to eat her.

Karl only had a split secound to decide on his next course, some of a running theme for this battle. Still, a good knight was flexible in any given situation, so the knight in black reversed grip on his sword...and began charging forth once more.

The knight would quickly close in on the beast, as the women's background yelling perfectly described his line of thinking at the moment. Yet despite these thoughts, he himself remained surprisingly quiet, the only thing heard was his heavy breathing...as he sprinted up to the rear of the beast, the sword hand raised. Then the most spectacular thing occurred; this man in full plate armor leaped forward, leap forward into the air in full plate armor, and stabbed the sword forward like a knife, plunging it into the back neck of the beast. Yet his momentum carried him forward, slamming against the beast's hide as if it was a brick wall, but the sword was in...as the knight frantically grappled onto it with both hands.

The beast's roar this time was louder then any of it's previous roars, as it opened it's jaw wide, allowing the mace and arm to retract. The beast, with it's other hand, tried to reach back and grab the man, which failed given now that it was whirling about, with it Karl's dangling body. Karl at this point was trying to bring the blade downward into the flesh, trying to use his weight to pull the blade down. The knight was somewhat successful, as the sword budged a few centimeters, but the pain was enough for the Uphold.

The monster would half haphazardly toss the armored women to the side, now using both hands to grapple back at Karl. The knight could only evade the monster's arms so long, as ever instance the monster tried to grab him it was dangerously close from succeeding. At some point, the monster might have actually grabbed onto him, if Karl hadn't let go of the sword. This caused him to get swung into the air by the momentum of the shaking monster, plummeting to the ground with a clang. Karl could only endure the landing with closed eyes and clenched teeth, as he felt the landing knock the breath out of him, which took the knight a secound to recover. But a secound was all that Karl could afford, as the moment he opened his eyes, he quickly rolled out of the way, as the massive foot was only inches from mushing him into a pile of metal and blood.

As Karl rolled away, the beast seemed less concern about him or the armored women, instead trying to grapple at the sword now stuck now to the back of it's neck. The beast would whirl around a couple of times, roaring in frustration, before stumbling...away, knocking down branches, as it carved out a path of destruction...all the while trying to yank out the pain from it's side...

This was going to be trouble, no doubt about it...but for the moment, the danger was running away...a semi-reliving thought to Karl, as he pushed his face out of the dirt, pushing up his face plate and began to cough. While the knight's armor held up, Karl certainly was bruised and battered, but it could have been worse for him...but the other armored person?

Karl took another moment to regain his breath, wiping off the spit that had culminated during the fight, before pushing himself up...staggering a bit as he did. The knight then began to look around for the other combatant...hoping that she had endured as he did....
 
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Sledge

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Sledge didn't see it. Not with the Unhold's gaping maw in her face. But the deafening and pained bellow from the beast was proof enough. The knight landed one hell of a strike, finally inflicting a wound on the beast that fifteen solid minutes' worth of fighting it with maces had failed to do.

Her arms and her mace came free of the Unhold's giant open mouth as it arched and rolled its head about during the pained bellow.

And Sledge was in the air again, for the third time, as the beast flung her. The thought occurred to her again as her body seemed weightless and the fog and the pine trees and the world entire spun around.

Fucking Strojland. What a welcome.

Her left shoulder hit the ground first. Momentum-induced rolling. Face in the dirt. Still rolling. Clouds in the sky and treetops above. Still rolling. Face down in the dirt again. At rest.

She heard the deep swooshes of air as the Unhold, somewhere not too far away, flailed its meaty arms and hit nothing. Heard a clatter of armor and a big whooping thud. And eventually heard the stomps of the beast's heavy footfalls in retreat, growing ever more distant and fading away.

Good. Because Sledge was done.

Tired as fuck, yes. Sore as fuck, yes. Bloodied as fuck, yes.

But worst of all she was dirty. Literally, now, feeling dirt caked and stuck to her face as she lay there on the ground. But that wasn't the worst of it. The sticky spittle of the beast. The lingering smell of its abhorrent breath. And, worst of all, the sweat. Her sweat. Everywhere. Her silken clothes and underwear underneath her gambeson and her plate armor were soaked. Soaked! Auch! It just felt sticky and nasty, moreso than the smidgen of Unhold spit. Worse still, she didn't even have the pleasure of victory to excuse her awful condition. Fair enough that she was alive, but the shroud of sweat coating her body felt like an insult to injury. As if it wasn't enough that she should have her ass duly kicked, she needed to be a sweaty mess too.

A cruel fate.

Then she felt the first light sprinkle of rain on the back of her head and in her hair and on her neck. What a reversal of fortune.

She heard armored footsteps in the dirt. The knight. She didn't look up. Not yet. Far too comfortable on the ground; or, a better way to put it, her body was spent. Didn't allow her to move. Demanded a moment's rest.

What her body did allow her to do was make a fist with her right hand, turn it, and stick her thumb straight up.

A little gesture of appreciation.

And she lay there. Just breathing.
 
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Karl von Stehlen

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After another moment of looking left and right, the knight finally spotted the armored women whom had been his comrade through the fight....she was giving him...a thumbs-up?...well...one would suppose that the proper response was to...give thumbs up back...and that was what Karl did...raising his free arm up to give the women his own thumbs-up.

Karl would then take a moment to look around, making sure that there weren't anything else around ready to jump them during their thumbs up celebration...before turning himself back towards the women...and marched forward.

As the knight moved closer, he used his free hand to touch upon his shield. A moment later, the shield began to glow a strange energy...it almost appeared as if it was volatile, before the knight tapped the top of the shield a couple of times, and the glow seemingly was flushed out of the shield. After this little event, the knight began to unstrap the shield from his arm, pulling it off with one hand, before leaning it against the same tree trunk that the armored women had been laying against.

It was then the knight got a better look at the women...the elf women, to be exact. Not that elves were a foreign concept to the lad, but Karl didn't really have that many interactions with them, outside of caverns and the odd slave liberation. Other then that, Karl had never sat down and have a conversation with an elf...not that this was really the time....

The knight would step over to the women, giving her another nod...as he moved, he looked like he was in the process of removing his armored gauntlets...which revealed a battle worn hand, complete with a number of cuts littered through his fingers. The knight would lumber over and take a knee, lowering himself towards the ground closer to the women, wearing a rather indifferent expression for someone who had been tossed by a giant troll like monster.

The knight would then just look at the women, even squinting his hands a bit as he did. If she would allow it, the knight would extend his arm towards her face...cupping her chin, and gently tilt her head to exam the other side of his face. The lad didn't seem to have any intent, but it was hard to tell, given the knight's expression.

All this time, the knight didn't say a word...as he grunted, pushing himself back into a stand, looking at her with that same expression upon that face. Karl would then turned around, placing a hand into his mouth and let out a high pitched shrill. Moments later, a neigh could be heard in the distance, before a horse would momentarily appear out of the woods. It had been the same horse that the knight had ridden in on, Daisy, and she had return to heed his companion's call. Karl would step forth as the mount slowed down, receiving her with both hands, smoothing over her manes gently to sooth her. After Daisy had become content, Karl marched over to her rear, where he had stored various items upon her saddle. A moment of fiddling later, Karl would return to the elven women with a water skin, extending her arm and offering it to her.

If she took it, the knight would take a moment to lower himself onto the ground, allowing him to fall on his behind, sitting their with his feet forward as he wiped some of the sweet off his face with his hands. After a bit of time, the man would return is gaze to the elven women...not saying a word at first.

"Can you move?" The knight would say abruptly, not even bothering to introduce himself...although the question itself?...seemed to warrant more then a simple yes or no...​
 
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Sledge

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Slowly, with breath after breath and each passing moment of stillness, some meager strength crept back into Sledge's body.

An attempt. To push herself up to her hands and knees. Failed. A little too bold right now.

She rolled over onto her back. Pine trees reaching up toward the fog and clouds beyond. The light patter of rain on her face. A soothing coolness. Pure rainwater, banishing the sheen of sweat and mixing with the blood and running away with specks of dirt drop by drop.

A roll of far off thunder. Calmed by distance, but the fury would soon enough follow and it would be overhead.

She scooted her body back until she felt the trunk of a tree with the top of her head. Carefully, and with extra effort only when needed, she wiggled her body up into a seated position against the tree. Her arms limp at her sides. Her head hanging back and touching the bark. Mouth open. Big, steady breaths of air. The taste of rainwater on her lips and on her tongue as drops landed on her upturned face.

The knight approached. She watched, looking at him from behind her nose. "Am I glad to see you." A strained laugh. "You believe some people fight those things for a living? Heh. Monster slayers. There's a crazy bunch of lads for you."

He cupped her chin. She let him. Best to have a pair of eyes on the damage. Her face felt fucked up, that was for sure. Those Unhold fangs felt like someone had dragged a fistful of daggers across her skin.

"I look like shit." She swallowed. Took another breath. "I don't know what it is, but my left side always catches hell."

Huh. Man of few words. Making her look like a bonafide minstrel by comparison. Good. Half the bullshit when dealing with people was that they often talked way too much. Danced around what they wanted to say instead of just saying it. Good on him. For sparing her that, at least.

The knight whistled. His steed came around. Mace, her own mount, started poking around in the edge of the clearing, much more content with coming closer now that there was just a horse around and not an Unhold.

He offered her water, and Sledge lifted an aching arm to accept the waterskin. "Appreciated." And she took a few gulps between breaths and let her arm come to rest again by her side.

"Yeah. I can move. I'll probably need help onto my mount," she nodded toward Mace, "but I can move."

She wasn't sure how much of that was overconfidence.
 
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Karl von Stehlen

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The knight said nothing to her response, instead nodding in response...although it was clear that he was paying attention...as his eyes would follow the movement of her hands...before meeting her eyes with his own. The knight didn't really respond to the women's comments on herself...as Karl himself wasn't much to look at this point...as the only part of him visible was just his bruised up face...other then that, the young man was clad in full plate armor...which had been dirtied by the previous combat, although the jet-black color of the armor made it a little less noticeable...

The knight would retrieve his water skin after she was done, taking a few gulps of it himself, before pouring some water into one hand...and then bring it up to his face, cleansing it a little from the build up of sweet. Karl would then lower his hands onto each knee...resting them a bit...

"We can't stay here...we're exposed as is..." The knight said in a rather calm tone, his eyes shifted away, as the rolling thunder in the distance echoed again. "...there's a manor not far from here...it's more secure then here...from there, I can get someone to treat your wounds..."

The knight eyed her face again, perhaps he was looking at her wounds or...

"...if you can walk, I'll help you to your mount."

As he said that, knight pushed himself back up, taking a moment to steady himself as he glanced side to side for somthing...his eyes would rest upon her mount...before he turned his attention back to her.

Within the next moment, the knight had taken a knee again, leaning in from the right...offering a shoulder to her to take, if she would take it. ..."Here." Was the only thing the knight said...which in this scenario, appeared that he wanted her to sling her arms over his neck, and allow him to take some of the weight and pressure of her movements...if she could manage that much....

If she would, Karl would help the elven women towards her mount...even helping her onto the big avian...taking care to be careful of her wounds...and her discomfort....​
 
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He was right.

Last thing they needed was to have the Unhold come back with friends, or have some other godawful hungry or angry beast stumble onto them. Or even the usual brigand brigade. Sledge didn't know how much of a problem banditry was in Strojland. Hopefully it lay in that sweet spot for mercenaries and bounty hunters. Not so secure like the immediate area around Vel Anir that the peace was hardly ever disturbed, but not so bad that the full force of the land's men-at-arms was brought to bear against them. That was great in the short term, but in the long term it made for more places like Vel Anir. Too secure. Either way, best to play it safe.

And if nothing else, that storm sounded like a real angry bitch. Sure, she wanted a bath, but washing in the rain was the lowest tier of baths. Desperate times only.

"Right. Good idea. I'd owe you one. Name's Sledge, by the way. You?"

Mace stood nearby and swiveled her head and neck around in the way that Moa Striders did when curious. Like they were trying to find the best angle to view their fancy. At least Mace wasn't too upset by the whole Unhold ordeal and pecking at the knight or his horse. Good girl. Respected the fact that her big sis Sledge got fucked up and didn't want to deal with more shit than was necessary.

The knight kneeled and leaned and offered a shoulder to her. She grabbed her right mace and slid it into the metal loop on her belt and nodded and took him up on his offer. She slid an arm across the back of his shoulders and grabbed what she could of his armor and reached across his chest with her other hand and tightly grabbed the first.

And she clenched her teeth as she stood with his help. The pain and soreness in her body had become general, widespread, the big bear of fatigue hibernating on top of her and crushing her with its weight. The rush of battle gone, the flood gates to dull agony had opened and the muted protesting of her muscles became a chorus singing the high notes. She'd strength enough to move now, but not without paying a price for each step.

Fifteen minutes of full-effort fighting, followed by a sound thrashing by the ferociously powerful beast, left her as drained as she had ever been. Nothing in her time in Blair Company came close.

Still, she walked. Her steps made gingerly. Even the toughest, meanest orc would be wobbling like her right now too, she'd wager. Sure, she needed the knight's help, but she was up and trying and that was something to take a little pride in.

Over to Mace. With the knight's help and steadying hands she managed to climb up and get her leg over and she sat in the saddle. Her plated feet dangled and eventually found the stirrups. She leaned forward and wrapped her arms around Mace's long and thick neck and rested her head against the bird's soft feathers. The Moa let out a low squawk.

"We'll follow your lead," she said. "And if you could grab my other mace on the ground over there and toss it to me, that'd be great."
 
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Karl von Stehlen

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Karl pushed himself up, gently grabbing onto her arm around his neck, placing his other hand upon her waist and lifitng...trying to take as much of the pressure off of her as possible, as both of them rose up. The sound of thunder once more echoed through the lands, as the knight glanced up...perhaps pondering on their current predicament, or perhaps pondering on somthing a bit more far flung then the present...

"Karl..." The knight said simply upon her request of his name, momentarily sparing a glance at the women, before turning his attention back forward. Karl could tell she was struggling, it was obvious in ever step they took...a part of Karl wanted to offer to carry her entirely, let him do all the work...carry her fireman style, somthing he would have done for any other soldier or even any knight of his order...but the other part of Karl more or less thought that she would deny it...perhaps she wanted to save face...and the last thing Karl wanted to deal with right now is a exhausted and injured armored person flailing about, trying to act like they didn't almost get swallowed by a monster.

It took a bit of time to get her over to her mount, but Karl was patient with her, being mindful of any hints of pain she might have exhibited...although he continued his silence as they continued...even as he helped her onto her mount.

When she was finally aboard her avian mount, she had requested for her mace to be...thrown at her.Instead, the knight turned about, eyes scanning about for her weapon. Upon seeing it, he marched over, bent down to retrieve the weapon, before easing back up...returning to Sledge, instead of tossing it, he reversed his grip upon the weapon...reaching up and clipping it to her to her left side...his expression said it all: Your in no condition to be playing catch with a mace.

The knight then gave the elven women a nod, before turning about and marching for Daisy. Karl took a moment to pat her down, make sure that she hadn't injured herself during her flight...before mounting upon her with one swift motion, and urging her back towards Sledge.

"If we go along at a steady pace...we should reach the manor in roughly ten or so minutes..." The knight said as he made eye contact with Sledge. Daisy would sway them around, trotting along side the avian mount. "...bear with it for a it longer...if somthing becomes a matter, do not hesitate to call out..."

The knight then gave another nod, before urging Daisy forward into a semi-trot-run, keeping a steady speed that balanced between fast and slow...​
 
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Sledge

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Sledge wasn't at her most impressive. That was plainly obvious. But the knight Karl didn't much mind. He had a patience Sledge herself seldom had. Especially considering it wasn't his fight and he didn't owe her anything. Or maybe it was his fight, for all she knew of Strojland. Would make for an awful lot in life, by her estimation. He had some nice armor, even if it was human-made by the look of it, but that was probably provided by his Lord or whatever. She didn't imagine knight being a well-paid profession. Duty or honor or some such had to cut in like a taxman in Alliria.

Point being, duty or altruism or both, Karl was mindful of her pain and supportive. Good on him. Helping a fallen comrade, despite hardly knowing her.

Even handed her her other mace. Well, handed, beyond that actually, he put it back where it belonged on the metal loop of her belt's left side. She thought she could catch it, convinced herself there'd be nothing to it. But yeah, this seemed about right. Confidence was likely primed to bite her in the ass again had he actually tossed it.

"Ten minutes," Sledge said once sitting on Mace's saddle and leaning on her neck and he said as much. "That's not so bad."

And she reached and gave the little tug on Mace's reins to let her know to start going. A little awkward steering via the reins to keep Mace following behind Karl, and it didn't take long for Mace to get it and do it on her own. That was good. Yeah. That was good.

The softness of Mace's feathers--odd to think of a Moa's feathers, but softer than the cold hard dirt or that fucking tree. It made her think of how nice it'd be to get some rest in a posh manor. Comfortable bed, tended wounds, a nice bath squeezed in somewhere, a good long smoke. Did Karl smoke? Probably not. Plenty of people to share a drink with, hardly any to share a smoke with.

And Mace followed after Karl's lead.
 
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The ride out of the forest was a rather hasty one, given the condition of the latter...weaving around and through the woodwork, over the shrubbery of the wilderness. Even given how heavily armored both man and mount were, they seem to have a relatively easy time maneuvering through the forest, at least as a single entity. It would be very difficult to maintain unit formation in a place such as this....

It would be a good few minutes of riding, but eventually they would be able to exit the forest proper, as Daisy galloped onto the main road, the knight turned his head back to check on his current companion. The two would ride, quickly past the footprint and the poor bastard that had been imprinted into the ground, before following the trail out towards the proper country side. To the right, were open fields, looked almost like farmland that covered up towards a slope. Upon that slope sat what looked to be a manor...with part of the road into a dirt path towards the manner.

This was where Karl veered off, Daisy galloping a bit faster when she first hit the dirt. It would only be about a minute or two more of riding, before they would approach this manor. In the front, another warhorse that looked not to dissimilar to Daisy (albeit a bit smaller), seemingly packed for a few days journey. Within the next moment, a man in armor not too dissimilar to Karl's walked out, except he was wearing silver. He seemed like an older gentlmen, his beard white and aged, but there was no doubt he was a warrior.

Said silver knight was actually carrying a sack when Karl rode up, looking up with a squint...as if to ask "why are you here"...before giving him a grin.

"Karl! Back so soon lad?" The man called out, with an accent one might associate with a pirate or sailor, giving a wave as he did, until he noticed that he was being followed. "Who's your friend?"

"Give me a hand." Was all Karl said, as he brought Daisy to halt and quickly dismounting even as Daisy was still trotting. The silver knight raised an eyebrow, before placed the sack over his horse, then following Karl back to where Sledge had potentially stopped. The two would carefully help her off her mount, each taking one of Sledge's hand and placing it around their shoulder, effectively lifting most of the weight off of her.

"By the gods, wha' happen t' both of ye?" The silver knight asked, glancing at Karl for an explanation, but the knight in black said nothing...his attention was focused more on the door.​
 
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Sledge

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Mace was right at home, doing what Falwood Moa Striders do best: walking through thick woods. That and pecking things they didn't like. Sledge had gotten bopped right on the head plenty of times during the bonding process. And the tamers insisted on the person going through the bonding not wearing any kind of helmet. Some fancy talk about contact and closeness and building trust. Sledge knew what they were talking about, she just didn't use big, expensive words to describe it. Hell, she did it all the time with people too. With her fists. Worked wonders.

One of the prime reasons Sledge preferred Moas to any other mount. She identified with them. They let you know what they thought of you right away. No bullshit. And they were willing to work out any problems with a few jabs.

Her kind of animal. Firm, but fair. Surly, granted, but wasn't Sledge that too from time-to-time?

Out of the woods and into the countryside. Visibility limited to a degree by the fog and the overcast sky. Wasn't so bumpy now. The lurching of Mace to step over obstacles back in the forest had a terrible way of highlighting the exact size and shape of the bruises underneath her armor. Auch. The big one on her back. Shaped like that tree trunk she'd been smacked into.

The dirt path. And there, the manor Karl mentioned. During their brief journey to it, the light patter of rain had become a moderate patter. Thunder still occasional and distant enough. But nearing.

Another knight. Silver to Karl's black.

Who's your friend?

"Name's Sledge," she said. Wincing and forcing herself to sit up in the saddle now that they'd arrived. "And you got a strange accent. Wouldn't have guessed it."

They helped her off of Mace. That was nice. Better than giving it a go herself and taking a spill down onto the mud. Good that Karl and his friend were tall for humans, and that she was on the shorter side for an elf. Made for their assistance with her walking much less awkward. Hardly any work required on her part. Her feet seemed to just touch the ground out of some adherence to an ultimately unnecessary obligation.

"Unhold attack," Sledge said. "Fucking thing got away."

She pursed her lips and clenched her eyes for a moment. That back bruise was going to be a real bitch.

"But not before it ruined my day."
 
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"Aye! Tough o'l brutes!"

"Not if you take them on with a formation..." Karl suddenly said from his side, expression remaining focused on the path ahead.

"Well of course! Lad! Any o'l monster can be easy pickin' if you have a organized huntin' party..." The silver knight chuffed, as he glanced between Karl and Sledge. "...but by the looks of it, it was the two of ye..."

"Technically...there were three of us..." Karl said, a bit grimly, one might add.

The two knights helped the elf into the one-story manor, taking a bit of effort to squeeze through the door, as each of their plumes brushed past the door frame. After a bit of shuffling, they arrived at a door, where Karl proceeded to slam open with his shoulder, revealing what looked to be a master bedroom completed with everything you expected: Large bed, bookshelf with books, a desk with pen and paper, etc.

The two knights would quickly carry the elf to the bed, taking the time to lay her down gingerly as they could, her heavy frame sank into the bed sheets, quickly dirtying the sheets as her body weight sank her into the bed.

"Aye, and we just washed them too..." The silver knight muttered, as he began to let go of Sledge. Karl took another secound to make sure she was steady, before pulling away. The humans would then take a moment to catch their breath, looking over the elf's conditions.

"Mmmm...now this is some work..." The silver knight said, looking over Sledge first, before looking at Karl. "...ya gonna need to get the armor off to treat her wounds, or at least stabilize her..."

"Easier said then done..." Karl said with a sigh, his eyes never leaving the elf's body.

"As much as I want to stay and help lad, I've got an urgent assignment from da Order they need me on right this moment." The silver "I'lll be passing by the town before I ride off, so I'll let the local medical temple know that ye be needin' some urgent professional care."

"Also tell them to dispatch for a huntsmen patrol..." Karl added, looking up and meeting eyes with the silver knight. "...whatever attacked us is not docile and still breathing..."

"Ye mean ya didn't kill it?"

"Like you said, it was just the two of us...we were lucky to get out as we did..." Karl grunted, as he looked back towards Sledge. "...tell them to also send out a warning that a rogue beast is on the loss, and that all towns and patrols should be on high alert...at least until we can track it down and finish it."

"Shite..." The silver knight said, following Karl's gaze. "...aright...I'll let them know..."

The silver knight took perhaps one step away, before Karl's hand found the silver knight's arms. "...also...send a message to my family...tell them I won't be returning for...dinner...complication...."

"Aye! Of course!" The silver knight said, looking back at his companion, a bit of smile forming.

"Also...tell Llyn not to put too much salt..." Karl said, deadly serious in his conviction, which seemed kinda silly given the topic.

"Oh, come now; she couldn't be any worse of a cook then me!"

"You always put too much salt."

"That is true...but I am getting old...and these taste buds aren't what they use to be..."

"Go..." Karl said, letting go of the silver knight, who just gave a small chuckle. Yet before the knight really left, he turned back to the elf, giving a slight bow as he did. "We miss, as much as I would like to stay and help out, I've must go...don't worry, your in good hands..." The silver knight stood up stright, now beaming at Karl, who's expression hadn't really change all throughout the conversation. "...I know from first-hand experience..."

After such farewell, the silver knight left, indicated by the muffled galloping in the background, as Karl began to undo his metal gauntlets again. This time, he would place them upon the night stand next to the bed, before leaning over the elf, expression still the same.

"This will not be easy..." Was the first thing Karl had said, basically echoing what the silver knight had said earlier. But it was true: Karl was quite masterful with the armor that he wore. This armor, on the other hand, was different...and so Karl didn't wanted to go on and starting tearing bits and pieces off here and there, for fear of riping somthing vital off in the process that was less part of the armor and more part of the body...so, he'd have to coordinate with it's owner. "...we need to get the armor off for me to treat the wounds...you'll going to have to tell me what to do..."
 
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Sledge

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Three of us. The hell is that all about.

A spike of pain stayed her tongue. It was like all the gashes on the left side of her face decided that, well, since the big bruise on her back and the smaller Unhold-elbow-shaped one on her sternum had quieted for the moment, now was the time to protest. A wince as Karl and the silver knight opened the door to the manor and guided her in. Bloodtinged rainwater dripping from her jaw and chin.

Another door. The master bedroom. Comfortable surroundings. Gray stormlight from outside illuminating everything.

Alright. Maybe the pay for being a knight wasn't so great. But the benefits and the perks seemed to make up the difference handily.

"Yeah. Shame," Sledge said to the silver knight. All the dirt and grass and bits of bark and general grime not washed off her armor by the rain made a quick mess of the sheets. Spoke to the hospitality of these Strojlanders, though.

As Karl and the silver knight talked, Sledge rolled to her right and rolled to left. Grimacing all the way as she found no safe harbor from the throbbing pain. Bruises on her front and back, and the Unhold had squeezed the hell out of her sides when it grabbed her.

A nod to the silver knight before he left. "Thank you. For allowing me to stay."

And the silver knight went on his way. Karl took off his gauntlets. Auch. Time for the gritty work. And to see how bad those bruises were, see if the bark matched the bite. Felt like half of her back was a nasty shade of purple, but she'd need Karl to tell her about that one.

"Right. Give me some space for a second." Sledge grit her teeth and sat up on the bed and gently swung her legs over the edge. "Good news, Karl. Might be elven, but it isn't much different than human armor; laced to my gambeson in some places, strapped in others. Alright, pauldrons first. Got the laces right up here, by the crook of my neck. Strap on my upper arm. Got another set of laces on the rerebraces, straps on the vambraces, then each arm assembly comes off as a whole. Two straps over here on my right side to take off the plackart, then you can slide it off to my left. Breastplate and backplate are one piece. Two straps on my shoulders, one on my right side again, then remove it to my left like the plackart. Gambeson underneath all my armor is easy, if a pain in the ass. Whole bunch of buttons. Heard humans like to use straps for their padded armor. Heh. Sorry."

Sledge slid off her gauntlets and lightly dropped them to the floor beside the bed. "Hey. Look. I helped."

A grin that immediately turned into a grimace as the gashes on her face flared up with sharp, biting pain again.

A breath taken. "My legs are sore, but otherwise they feel fine for now, so I'll worry about it later. But I can feel for a fact that I got a pair of nasty bruises up here; one on my back, and one on my chest."

Sledge gave Karl a frank look then. "Karl. Listen. You're male. I'm female. I get it. Feel how you've got to feel about that. I can check and treat the bruise between my breasts myself need be, but I need you to check and treat the one on my back. You're not going to cite some knightly code of honor on me, are you?"
 
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The knight would move to follow the elf's instructions, not saying a word as he his moved over her body, finding the points where the armor was being held together and taking the time to undo it's bindings. The process was by no means an easy one, but Karl was getting through it. The lad was tentative to her pain, as even a wince or a grunt signaled to the human to slow down in the process. A couple of times the knight had to wait for the elf to move a bit, doing his best to help her limit the need to move.Any parts that Karl was able to remove were gently placed or dropped onto the floor, as Karl's attention moved on to the next piece.

It took a bit of time, but the knight was able to remove most of the armor pieces without too much problems, and hopefully without much in the way of pain to the women. All the while, as the knight worked, his expression would only narrow, but not change much. In fact, you'd hesitate to think he had shifted opinion in all the time in-between riding to the forest and removing her armor.

Still, removing the armor was the easy bit, now came the hard bit: Treating the wounds.

As the elf women spoke of the injury in her legs, the big knight went over to a nearby cabinet, opening it and retrieving some sort of large box. A moment later, Karl had placed it on the nightstand, opening it up to reveal a host of medical gear...as he began to riffle through it...until she spoke his name.

"What are you talking about?" The knight had barly blinked when she was going on about the gender issue. Frankly, Karl hadn't even thought about that, his attention was more on treating the wound. Perhaps a weaker willed man might have sized this as an opportunity, but Karl...well, these opportunities were hardly somthing he was intreasted. Not that the Order had a specific code for love and all that, it just...well, most people saw Karl's armor then Karl...which was really fine by him...as he clanked over back to her, offering her some of the medical supplies. "If it makes the process easier and faster...then I do not care what side I take...as long as it does not hurt you...alright?"
 
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Sledge

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Off with the pauldrons, arm assemblies, plackart, and cuirass. Slow-going with the plackart and cuirass. Sledge grit her teeth and eventually they got them off despite the aching of her injuries. The pile of plate armor started by her gauntlets grew until all the pieces of her upper body had been removed.

Sledge undid the set of laces binding the cuisses of each leg to her black gambeson. The padded coat free of the armor now. Karl went to a cabinet and Sledge went about unbuttoning each button down the center of the gambeson. Sure, the buttons looked nice and stylish for all of the few times she was out enjoying some leisure time sans armor after a particularly lucrative bounty. Sure. Stylish. Appealing to her elven sensibilities and all. But damn it was tedious to undo all twenty buttons. Heh. The price of buttons. Not cheap in coin or time.

And Karl came back. Had a nice box loaded with supplies, some she recognized, some she didn't.

And, even better, didn't seem like he cared much about their obvious differences. Outstanding.

"Good. Some people keep things awkward and tense by not speaking their mind. I'm not one of those people," Sledge said. "Heh. I'll tell you a funny story about an ex-Templar in my old mercenary company if you want."

She took off her gambeson and laid it down on top of the pile of plate armor beside the bed. Her silk shirt had been red at one point, but had since faded into more of a pinkish color. It clung to her body, soaked as it was with sweat.

Sledge shifted her body and turned her back to Karl. Hiked up her silk shirt to reveal her bare back to him, holding the folds of the shirt in place in the pits of her arms. As she suspected, there was a huge, thick bruise running lengthwise across her back. Various shades of reds and blues and purples discoloring her otherwise fair skin.

A glance over her shoulder. "It's a real fucker of a bruise, isn't it? Nothing feels broken, though. Could've been worse for being kicked into a tree by an Unhold."
 
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"Shouldn't be enough to kill you, but sill far from ideal..." Karl grunted, as rustling could be heard behind the elven warrior. The knight had moved to for some items in the box, doing this and that in preparation to treat the wound, before gently applying the materials in hand to her wound. Perhaps it would not be wholly enough, but it was enough for now...more was definitely needed in order for these wounds to make a full recover.

"As for your story...I have little interest, nor patience, for Templers...former or otherwise..." Karl's tone deepened, holding steady, but changing noticeably...a hint of animosity, not exactly as far as to call it anger, but it would seem that the very word of "Templer" seemed as if it brought a bad taste to the knight's mouth. Very uncharacteristic for a man whom had remained so calm, even after being smacked about by a massive monster. "...they are not exactly seen heroes among these lands or my people..."

Even in a rather ticked off state, Karl seemed to do a really good job of hiding any real irritation on his face. Meanwhile, his hands were still steady at work applying the appropriate medical attention to the elf's back. Though the knight was not used to the elf's biology, it seemed rather similar enough to humans, right?

"That should hold for now..."
Karl gave another grunt, as he gently began to pull down the elf warrior's shirt over the wound. Leaning to the side, he would look over to her with the same indifferent expression as when he first met her. "....Now....what is next?"
 
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Sledge

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Now that'd be an awful way to go. Survive a battle only to die of the wounds sometime after. Well good. No nasty surprises.

A slight stiffening of her back as Karl first started to work. Felt like a salve. The cooling and the numbing effect seeping into her skin. Worked well. Had to be expensive. Karl took the care to rub it in with careful circular motions and to cover the whole of the bruise. Yeah. The pain and soreness wasn't entirely gone, but with the salve applied it certainly was more distant. A gradual loosening of tension the more he worked and the more the bruise was treated with it.

"Oof. No love lost for the Templars, huh," Sledge said. "Fair enough. I'll spare you the details. He got his comeuppance, and we'll leave it at that."

Sledge let her shirt be pulled back down. Looked to Karl. Held out an open palm and said, "Here. Let me have the salve. I can take care of the bruise on my chest."

A smirk then. "Stay and watch if that's what gets you off. Don't take that in any kind of bad way, because it's not meant to be. Every fucking time in Blair Company I caught somebody watching me take a bath. And I take a lot of baths. So I used to give a shit and raise hell if someone saw me. Now I don't. Doesn't bother me."

Sledge glanced to the side. Then back to Karl. "You know. I think those fuckers made a game about it at some point. Coin changed hands some nights when there wasn't any card games going on. Huh. Fuckin' assholes left me out of their mischief. That kind of pisses me off, now that I think about it."
 
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"Good for you...." Karl grunted again(Karl grunted alot), as he handed the elf the bottle of healing salve. This one liked to talk a lot, which was not somthing that Karl would complain about, but somthing for the knight to take note of. The lad didn't exactly know why he did, he wasn't like Otto or Llyn, where little details mattered. Guess it was just a family thing...

Either way, Karl stood from the bed, reliving the cushions underneath of the pressure that his weight had caused. The knight stood to her side, turning to look at the elf. Weather or not he saw her exposed body, you couldn't really tell how he was feeling; his face remained, once more, the same as when he had charged the Uphold.

It was his eyes, however, that would give his attention, yet it had not wandered downwards. Instead, it was focused on her face...as like before, it had been badly gashed. Sighing, he reached over with his bare hands to siphoned some of the salve from her hands...before lifting it to her face...and gently spreading it across her cheeks, sensitive to any indications of pain.

"You were a bit of the path when you fought the beast...were you investigating? Or simply chased off the path?" Karl suddenly asked, as he finished applying the salve to her face, gently removing his hands(which were in contrast to his movements, very rough, no doubt from battle). Of all times, Karl decided to choose now to inquire about the women. Probably because they weren't out in the forest, where another lumber monster or two could descend upon them....​
 
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Sledge

Bounty Hunter
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Karl must be a terror to gamblers everywhere. Man had all the facial expressions of a stone. Except he had a grudge against Templars, and that got a rise out of him. Well. Bad history there, with the Templars. Made Captain Leona's occasional raiding of an innocent trade caravan--and the butchering of the traders and caravan hands--seem like child's play in comparison. Fucked up? Absolutely. But who was Sledge to judge, she took part in it too, as did the rest of the mercenaries and everybody involved kept their mouths shut.

Still. Wasn't really her place then to go casting stones at the Templars for their history.

Karl looked to her, some of the salve in hand. A tensing of her muscles and a clenching of her teeth as the salve stung at first, the open wounds more sensitive to it than the bruise. She motioned with her free hand for him to keep going.

"Think I'll get another scar? Heh. That'd be great. The gashes don't feel nasty enough or deep enough, but maybe. Well. Shit. Hold on. If my left side gets too fucked up, and my right side stays fine, then people'll start calling me 'Two Face' or something. Fuck that. I like my nickname. I earned it. Put an extra dose on, maybe."

And Karl had a question.

Sledge shook her head. Winced and stopped. Said, "Not investigating. Chased off the path, yeah. I was just coming into Strojland. Hell of a welcome, huh. Not my kind of fight to take on but the damn Unhold came out of nowhere."

She sat up a little straighter now. The stinging sensation of the salve fading and the cooling and numbing taking its place. "I'm a bounty hunter. Work got a touch thin back in Alliria and around the Reach, so I decided to come here. Do you Strojlanders have any problems other than rampaging beasts?"
 
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Karl von Stehlen

The Stalwart Shield
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"If you keep your head exposed like that, you'll might get more then just scars...brain damage...or just your entire head getting lopped off..." Karl said idly, as he reached over to siphon more of the salve from her hands. "...if I were you...I'd avoid doing anything that will lead people to call you "headless""

Karl applied the another thin layer of salve over her cheeks, taking the same care as before, but this time finishing up a bit faster. The lad's hand dropped to his side, but his eyes still on the elf.

"If you stay on the major roads, you'd probably be safer...if not, at least have some more back up...not many people pass through these parts...no one with anything particularly important, anyhow...."
Karl continued, his eyes trained on the elf, not even a hint of concern about what was below her face..."...but...I suppose we owe you an apologize for this...normally we would have already identify the problem and moved to neutralized...which means...the beast must also be a new comer to our lands."

Well, by that logic, this was trouble indeed. Karl could only hope the beast would be found soon and taken out. It would not be good for the people in the surrounding area to have a rampant beast about, causing havoc and terror in it's wake.

"As for bounty hunters...I'm afraid you may have come to the wrong land...unless your into guarding caverns..." Karl folded his hands, his armor shifting with his arms, clanking just slightly as they made contact with each other. "We Strojlanders are a martial people...which means we prefer stabbing our own problems...between us knights, the standing army, the Crossbowkorp, the engineers of the Academy of Arts and Sciences, the huntsmen brigades, the militias...we have more then sufficient enough of men and women willing to defend the lands, in a variety of ways...any hired help are usually those with a particular skill...even then, they often are specialists, hired to help train or augment our induestires...but you never know...any bounties you find, it'll probably come from my brother's administration office..."
 
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