Private Tales Muscle

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Kaius

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There was a pregnant silence across their little camp with little more sound than the cracking wood of the fire and the soft murmur of the breeze. It was the stunned silence of men and women slowly processing the turning point in their lives and realising their own freedom. The sound of many minds lost in thought.

"What about the humans?" Elena finally spoke with a nod toward Calden and a few other humans who had grouped together naturally, their faces turning to look at Kaius and Arwyl as they heard the question. "You didn't just save elves..Why?.." her brow arched as she twirled her blade in the naked earth.

Kai's brow furrowed at the question and he sat himself up. "Had it not been for Caulden it's unlikely I'd have made it out of there at all let alone with as many of you as we did." he glanced to Arwyl and looked to the human men who listened. "We are mostly, elves, but not all. An orc, and a human have already joined us. We are not Vel Anir, I judge a man on their actions, not on the shape of his ears. If you can accept an elf as your Prince..." he paused and cleared his throat. "As your King. Then I am certain that he would be honoured to have you help us rebuild. If you want to help us free more people like you. Then stay. If not, we will help you as far as we can and what you do with your freedom is your choice."
 

Arwyl Minras

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King?

Arwyl very nearly mouthed the word incredulously at Kaius. He wasn't a king. He didn't know what he was, but he didn't feel that everything that made up Arwyl was worthy of the moniker.

A new silence followed, very different from the last. The deep hole into which everyone went for silent introspection. Then the furtive glances as they raised their heads to see which way the wind was blowing.

"Fine, but I'll be taking orders from you, not that daft cunt," said Elena, pointing to Kaius and then Arwyl in turn. "King or not."

"Works for me," agreed Caulden.

A king, Arwyl thought, probably wouldn't have stifled a laugh with his hands at such an insult.
 
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Kaius

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Fact was that had Arwyl's kingdom still existed and his parents succumbed, Arwyl would've been king when he came of age. He was now of age, and apparently in the last few hours, Kaius felt he'd earned the upgrade in title, simply for having thought like a King rather than a battle tactician for once.

"Oh, he is most certainly a daft cunt, but he's our daft cunt. But fine, I answer to him, and so the wheel turns." he shrugged a shoulder and laughed with a dip of his chin with their agreement.

A few others followed suit in agreeing to join them, some others remained uncertain, but the meat was cut and distributed and there was more chatter around the fire as everyone ate until they were bursting.

"What if I'd chosen to fight you?.." Caulden asked Kaius across the fire, licking the grease from his fingers and chewing the last of his meal. "You took quite the gamble, you didn't even know who you were fighting." the man's brow quirked.

Kaius nodded slowly and fell silent for a moment. He had undoubtedly been lucky with Toren's choice.. "I'd have had to kill you." he grinned and he and Caulden both laughed.

"Aye, lad. Ye could have tried.." the older man grinned. Based on appearance alone, he looked much older than Kaius, by a decade at least, and it amused him that the human spoke to him as though he were the younger of the two. Not that he minded.

"I knew you'd fight with me. The Komodi I'm not so sure.. But if I'd lost, I'm certain Arwyl would have returned for us." he smirked. He rubbed at the back of his neck and cleared his throat, his tone changing. "My uh.. My mother was a slave. It's no life for anyone, regardless of what race you are."
 
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Arwyl Minras

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That admission gave Arwyl pause, but a lot of pieces fell into place. He hadn't expected Kaius to make that bold gamble back at the pit. Especially after they had found the wards in the flooring.

Arwyl was still irritated that his plan had been entirely undone in that way. There was no way that he could have known they would protect themselves from magic. Out here in bumfucking nowhere he could never have expected that.

In that moment, a little of Kaius' anger - his grim determination - was passed on to Arwyl. The smooth lines of his face hardened and he looked to the fire as if accusing it of all the wrongs in the world.

"I will do right by anyone that follows me," Arwyl announced. Then, in a much softer voice so that only Kaius could here: "She never told me that."
 

Kaius

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A few of the others had fallen silent as Kaius mentioned his mother, a few gracious nods in understanding. All eyes turned to Arwyl, and Kaius smiled at his announcement.

He felt his chest tighten and words turn to stone in his throat at what Arwyl said next. She. His mother. The one he couldn't bear to speak about.. His gaze fell and he shook his head solemnly, passing a small pebble between his hands as he tried to find an explanation. Arwyl hadn't been privy to any part of Kaius' life before he'd fallen into the service of his family. That was the way he'd wanted it. He let out a quiet huff.

"Sorry.." he rumbled. "She knew that it pained me to talk about it, so I assume she thought you'd ask me about it if you'd known. I like to think my life started the day I was thrown into your grandparent's dungeons." he laughed under his breath. "Everything else before that.." his head shook. "That was another life."

A few of the group were settling down to rest, and Kaius settled back against the tree. "I can take first watch. You should get some rest."
 

Arwyl Minras

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By morning they were down by a few in number. During his shift Arwyl had watched one of them leave. The gnarled pit fighter had stopped when he had seen Arwyl's eyes following him. When the young Prince made no move to stop him, he continued into the undergrowth.

Arwyl had a slight fear that they might be off to report the group, to trade their betrayal for a more privileged kind of servitude. There was nothing that would make it worth holding these people against their will.

When the camp was mostly alert and hiding the signs of their camp under Kaius' guidance, he decided to say a few words.

"We're going north. There is a crossroads a few hours that way. For those that want to stay with myself and Kaius we will be continuing past the road and into the forests. To the east is the free town of Merrinhall. If those that decided to leave form a large group they may not welcome you, so arrive in ones or twos or split up."

"When we reach that crossroad your minds must be made up. You are with me at that point or following your own path."

Arwyl repeated the message in elven and a different human language just to be certain.

Elena just to irritate him, turned to Kaius. "Which way are we heading then?"
 

Kaius

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Kaius couldn't deny his silent disappointment that the numbers had dwindled slightly, but he couldn't blame them either. Kaius managed a short few hours of sleep and woke just before first light to bathe in the river and feed himself.

He was kicking some dirt over one of the smouldering fire pits when Arwyl spoke up, and he nodded in agreement of his plan before he looked to Elena with a quiet huff. He couldn't hide the semblance of amusement in the roll of his eyes, but it was an issue that he'd try to nip in the bud before it blossomed.

"You heard him." he mumbled at her and gave her a playful pat on the back. "We go North." he smirked as the woman half stumbled forward and glared at him incredulously. By the sparkle of amusement in her own eyes, Kaius had a feeling he was going to regret it in future sparring sessions should she choose to stay.

The little group set out as the sun slowly climbed and Kaius huffed quietly.. "We need to get ourselves more horses.."
 

Arwyl Minras

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Kaius had a feeling he was going to regret it in future sparring sessions should she choose to stay.

Arwyl had a remarkably similar vision at that exact moment. He had seen them both fight. Kaius was exceptional. She was better. Getting her in line was going to be an 'interesting' task for them both, even if Kaius was taking most of the responsibility on that front now.

"And we're going to need wagons," Arwyl added. If they were going to make a place their own then they were going to need trade, without leading a trail to the location through loudmouthed merchants.

He did not want to say too much within earshot of those who would be leaving soon. Even without being malicious, they could easily speak too freely around agents of Vel Anir.

"There is going to be much more fighting before we are done with this task," he said quietly. "More scope, but more focus too."

He was starting to plan.
 
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Kaius

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Kai nodded sagely in agreement, but for once he felt that the fighting might actually be worth something and he couldn't help but smile proudly as he quietly listened to Arwyl's planning before quietly speaking up.

"Aye, there will.. We should get back to the others, let them gel with whoever we have left, do some training and let them rest whilst we plan our route." he answered with more enthusiasm than he had for battle plans in a long number of years. He slapped Arwyl on the back with a wry grin. "We'll build us a kingdom yet, lad."

It wasn't long before the group reached the crossroads and the murmur died down. Glances were exchanged, and Kaius looked to Elena and Caulden with a small smile with the mute expectation that they make their choices now.
 
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Arwyl Minras

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They stayed. Elena had already made her choice, but the knight who had lost his honour simply felt he had no other place to go. Both of them stayed because they had been inspired by Kaius, not Arwyl.

They had both been part of communities without ever seeing or listening to a member of royal blood before. Respecting the royalty because of their deeds wasn't often a luxury people had when it came to choosing their homes.



They had come to find Kaius a bodyguard. At least that was the half-truth Arwyl had gone with. He had wanted some time alone with his mentor. They had needed some patching up. Kaius had started a small revolution instead.

Elena, Arwyl noticed, stayed on Kaius' heel the entire time. She was perhaps the most dangerous elf he had met. In a roundabout way he might have put her between Kaius and danger without having to speak a word to her on the matter.

Riznak was on guard. He gave a sweep of his broad arms to indicate the motley crew and mouthed a: "what the fuck?"

"We're going to be moving out tonight," Arwyl explained as he gathered the rest of his band.

"I want Blue watch ranging ahead and behind covering our tracks. Red watch on guard, pair up with a newcomer each and show them how we do things. Everyone else watching the wagons. No rum and fires tonight, we're slipping South before a whole heap of shit can be flung our way."

Riley Kaius
 
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Riley

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"They're back and then some," the scout in the trees called. By the voice Riley knew it was Thorn. Thorn was younger than the rest, closer to Arwyl's age, with bright blond hair. Perhaps because he didn't remember the burning of their home as much he wasn't as cautious or stand-off-ish around Riley. And when Kaius and Arwyl went off on missions together, Riley had gotten closer to him than the others. She saw him like a younger brother and she knew he was actually younger than her, unlike the other elves here.

The tension and anxiety she'd been carrying on her shoulders began to melt away as she wove her way through the others, hazels ringed in gold finally laying eyes on him.

Kaius.

Goddamnit. She hated it when he went on missions without her. Perhaps she was beginning to understand how he felt when she'd gone off a few times to see her brother. When she and Riz had almost gotten caught on that supply run.

Made her insides twist not knowing if he'd come back in one piece or at all.

Eyes finally tore away from Kaius. But she couldn't help them narrow on the beautiful NEW elf hanging out next to him before they snapped to the prince.

"What kind of shit is coming our way? We're gonna run?" She couldn't help the frown.
 
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Kaius

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The newcomers stuck close, staring around at those in the trees and around the wagons who were staring back at them. Kaius' gaze scanned their group and settled on Riley, his smile growing with the rush of relief he felt at seeing her safe.

He worked his way through greetings as Arwyl gave his orders. A brotherly hug shared with Riznak, a playful tousle of Thorn's hair, a few other friendly pats until he reached Riley and wrapped an arm around her with a sigh. "Y'alright?" he asked her in a quiet rumble, smirking and pressing a thumb to her frown to smooth it away as he let her go. Elena was close behind him, glaring at anyone who looked at her. "Elena, Riley...Riley, Elena." he introduced with a quiet clearing of his throat.

"These people were slaves to humans." he told her, and the few others who were studying them. They'd notice that some of them were also human. "We're moving South.. And then we're going after more." he explained and went to pack his things and help ready the wagons.
 

Arwyl Minras

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Arwyl moved through the group with a renewed sense of purpose. He shared brief greetings with those that he passed.

His relationship with Kaius had been rocky. They had always been close, bound together by everything that had happened. They had never quite seen eye to eye. Arwyl's anger had been powerful, but formless. The new direction maybe didn't bring them level, but it was closer to what they both wanted.

He wasn't living up to the expectations his mother has passed on to Kaius. He was starting down a path that might go there, but that part of the road was well beyond the horizon. They were moving in the right direction and that was all Arwyl could offer now.

It would come with more responsibility. More people who looked to him for protection and safety. People who couldn't handle themselves in a fight. The lean, scrappy band was going to end up much larger if they freed more slaved, found more of his people.

They would need wider skills anyway, he figured. His current crew knew absolutely nothing about building and farming. They moved quickly and hunted on the go. He had been brought up to rule from a young age, but there was a big difference between leading and building. The prospect frightened him.

"What kind of shit is coming our way? We're gonna run?"

"Not sure, but some of their old masters might come looking for us. We need to be long gone by then without leaving a trail."
 
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Riley

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oof

That arm around her. The scent of pine that always lingered on his skin and clothing mixed with a hint of campfire smoke. She hadn't realized how much she missed it until now. She leaned into him for the briefest of moments as his arm looped around her.

A playful bat at the thumb that smoothed over her frown.

"Kaius," but she purposefully put a half step between them. They still hadn't told anyone but she imagined some of them were beginning to guess about what was between the human and elf. One of her hands twitched at her side. She wanted nothing more than to pull all of him into a tight hug. Brush her lips along his skin.

Foosty gobshytes.

And slaves to humans?

She frowned and looked to Elena. Gods she was beautiful. Hazels shifted between Kaius and the female. Was there something going on?

She cleared her throat.

"Welcome to the group," her voice came out flatter than she meant it. A quick nod to Arwyl. Thorn was making silent kissing motions behind Kaius and Elena. Instead of following Kaius or Elena, Riley would step into line with Arywl, peppering him with tactical questions.

How many were the masters?

What town were they from?

How far south were they going?

Who did he think could fight among the newcomers?
 
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Kaius

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He glanced back to Riley with a small smile to himself.

There was something different in the way the young elf carried himself, and Kaius found himself watching him for a moment as he helped pack up. Elena stood, arms folded against a tree, her crystalline gaze wandering over each and every one of their group. “That one likes you.” She commented dryly with her eyes on Riley. She couldn’t have appeared more standoffish if she tried, and Kaius’ head shook at her with a huff.

“You’re going to have to get used to working as part of a group, lass. There’s common ground, shouldn’t be too difficult to strike up conversation. This group is going to grow, and fast, we’re a family, and we need to know one another to trust one another on the field. I trust, you’ll be fighting with us…” He asked rhetorically as he lifted a crate onto a wagon. Riz caused a clatter as he fell over some barrels and stirred up laughter around the site. Kaius snorted. “You can start with helping Riz. You’ll get along well.” He smirked at her. The woman rolled her eyes and huffed as she pushed herself from the tree and sauntered over to help the Orc.

She held out her hand and growled irritably. “Big guy said I’ve to help you.”.. Riz blushed, and the wolf-whistling that came from a few of the others quickly stopped as Elena shot her deathly glares.

Kaius rubbed at the back of his neck as he watched. This was only the first lot they had liberated. He hoped there would be many more, and he hoped they’d be friendlier than Elena.
 

Arwyl Minras

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Arwyl stopped sharply. Placing his hands on his hips, he turned to look at Riley.

"We weren't exactly setting out to save a load of slaves. Most of them are pit fighters so they know how to fight. I don't know if anyone with lots of resources is going to come looking for them. We're going to go about five days south."

Arwyl looked at the wagons and the newcomers.

"Maybe seven days," he said on reflection. His notion of how far they needed to go had not changed, just how long it might take.

What came next was not spoken. She was fixed with a very pointed look and he then drew a line with his eyes between her and Kaius. The affectionate gestures were hardly going to have been missed.
 
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Riley

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Seven days South.

She might not have time to see Talus and Zana again before she left. He’d be worried about her. Helping slaves was fine and all. And she was certainly FOR it. But...

“What about the fight with the Anirians?” She managed to lower her voice just a tad. Her goal wasnt to disrespect Arwyl or draw attention to herself even if quiet and grace weren’t exactly her strong suit.

“Are we just giving up? Are we...,” she blinked, following the prince’s gaze to Kaius. Then back to her. “What.” With emphasis on the ‘t.’ Arms crossed beneath her chest as she scowled at the redhead.
 
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Kaius

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Kaius saddled his horse, his eyes wandering from group to group across the little camp as they packed up, his ears trained on several conversations at once. Some of the newcomers were skittish, some friendly enough, and some had their defenses up and some of the existing group members were trying to crack the ice. He smirked and left them to it, hoping there would be no issues in which he’d have to intervene.

His hand stroked the mottled mare’s face with a small smile as he quietly spoke to her in elven. Dusk, he’d called her. More a necessity than a gift, but given to him by Riley all the same, and he and the mare had bonded well. The horse nudged at him and he took the reins to walk her to where Arwyl and Riley spoke, having caught parts of their conversation.

“We’re not giving up. Just taking a wiser approach. We need a base, and numbers. Sylmara was right, right now we’re just rebels. We’re making no impact.. But we will.” He assured with a brief smile to her and looked between the two, having the distinct feeling that he’d interrupted.

“Are we ready?...”
 
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Arwyl Minras

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"Yes, we are ready to go," Arwyl replied. There was a not of suspicion even in his benign answer. Riley's body language had been entirely too defensive.

A human half my age Kaius? He thought to himself. Perhaps he was reading too much into one touch.

They might not have been making a big impact, but every little scrap they had won had been a little piece of vengeance. They were a mouse. They couldn't fell the giant, but every time they sank their teeth in it felt good.



Days later

They had stayed here before. Only briefly on when they had hidden away for the winter one year. There were signs that there might have been a settlement here once. A wide area where the canopy was lower, where the forest had once been felled.

It was only a few hundred yards into the treeline. Fairly easy terrain where the horses and wagons could go with only the odd root to look out for.

It was just a half day's ride from the coastal road, nestled into a curve in the river that came down from deeper within Falwood. Clean water, fertile soil and shelter.

Arwyl called them to a halt and felt a flash of fear.

He didn't know how to run a settlement, how to organise people like this. There was work to be done and he had no idea where to even start.

"We're going to need some supplies," he muttered. They didn't have much left from their raid of the anirian caravan. He had been too afraid to steal those precious jewels and set the worst of the Dreadlords after them.

"We'll get plenty when we take Cindrill," he said more firmly.

There was more to his plan and it started with the mining town. The place where many many elven captives were sent.
 
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Riley

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Riley's head snapped to Arwyl as she dismounted her black horse. All black except for a small white star shape beneath one of its eyes. While it wasn't outright Anirian owned it was Anirian affiliated. When the Anirians didn't want to do the dirty work themselves, that's where they sent the prisoners. She'd actually grown up on a coastal town just north of here. And as they went past the road a few days back that would turn back to where her mother and father lived, she'd wished they were East of the Spine instead.

"Good. Sign me up for the first raid or line," she grumbled as she went through the process of unsaddling and taking down her gear. She'd been itching to go - to do something since they set out on their retreat. She was no longer the only human in the group. And yet, she felt closer to the elves she'd been with than the new humans. Most of them had come to trust her - at least to some extent. There would always be the few holdouts.

She didn't know what she was more irked about. Not having any fighting action or feeling particularly useful in the past few days or Kaius' new shadow of Elena. She missed that cabin in the woods.

Snatching up her axe and a few snare lines, she looked to Kaius.

"Want to go hunting and set some snares?"
 

Kaius

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Kaius slipped from his horse's back and stretched the stiffness from his muscles as his eyes drifted over what they had to work with, taking in the types of tree, a foot scuffing the soil. He patted Dusk's shoulder and unsaddled her, and she went off to drink.

He nodded at Arwyl's words, his gaze narrowing slightly at the underlying tension. He'd been about to call out to the group but his lips tightened, catching Elena's eyes on him as she waited expectantly for some form of instruction.

"It's a decent space." he spoke quietly to Arwyl, a hand slamming down on his shoulder to give it a firm squeeze. "Find out their skills, group them accordingly. We'll need plenty of wood cut, we'll need hunters, builders, thatchers. Food, warmth and shelter first." he rumbled at him and let go of his shoulder.

His attention drifted to Riley and he gave a light nod.. "Aye, sure lass." he answered. "I'll grab my bow."
 
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Arwyl Minras

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"I will come too," Elena called out to Kaius.

The rumour of why Arwyl and Kaius had been in the pit fighting ring had spread. One of the original crew must have let it slip. Apparently she had decided that she would take on the role of his protector without being asked.

There was a set of tension that even spirit glass could not have cut. Arwyl surprised himself by breaking it.

"Stay please. When we've got people working I want you to tell me about the mines. It's time for a plan."

Arwyl wasn't a strategic mind, but he tactically capable. His small band had dealt serious blows to much larger forces. He was a sharp mind when his focus was narrow.



It turned out that the skills they had were not as broad as they could have been.

Only one of them knew how to put together a hut that could last. Arwyl quickly decided to set one team working with him to start collecting the timber they needed whilst the rest built the sort of temporary shelter they usually worked with.

He sat Elena down by the fire and soon they had a reasonable map of the town and the mines sketched on the ground. It was impossible to map out how many tunnels had been dug. The captured elves were forced to crawl through tunnels only two feet high with just the light of a single candle. Arwyl could not think of a worse kind of hell.

What they did have was the entrances and the main corridors the guards would watch. Only twenty or so men. A garrison of fifty in the town but they had good palisades. This needed a plan.
 
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Riley

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Riley owed Arwyl.

Maybe one time where she didn't question his orders. Or snark off to him when he snarked at her.

She lost track of how far she and Kaius had gone until they were a little further up the river, where the current was a little stronger.

A little louder.

She'd set snares along the way, along some small game trails. She hoped that they started producing in the next day or so. This place reminded her of where the proctors had dropped her and the other recruits saying they'd only come back when half of them were left. It had been beautiful there as it was here.

She had to silently remind herself this wasn't that place. This was different. And Kaius was here. Forcing in a fresh lungful of air, she stood from the last line she was setting and found those verdant eyes of Kaius.

"Come here," a hand would tug him closer as she sought after his mouth with her own. That familiar smell of pine and smoke.
 
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Kaius

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Elena didn’t look happy about having to stay behind, when she’d looked to Kaius for his final instruction, he’d only nodded in agreement with Arwyl. The woman threw her head back and huffed, and Kaius smirked silently and looked to Arwyl, wondering briefly whether the young elf had asked her to stay behind on purpose. Perhaps he had got the message that he didn’t need or want a body guard.. He smiled at him gratefully none-the-less and dipped his chin as he headed off with Riley.

"D'you think he kn--" he'd began finally, but his words were silenced. It felt ridiculous to hide such a thing, but Kaius had a duty and responsibility to Arwyl. His own needs were irrelevant, but she was the first selfishness he'd allowed himself. Even then he still felt guilty; she didn't deserve to be hidden, and he didn't deserve to be lied to, but Kaius couldn't risk being ordered away or left behind...

"We need to be more careful.." he muttered as he pulled on his boots. Arwyl wasn't stupid, he'd note Riley's tension around Elena, he'd catch Kaius' lingering gaze, his gentleness toward Riley where it lacked toward the other women. How did one pretend not to love another without being impassive and cold? "And we need to hunt quickly.." he added with a glance toward the dimming sky.

Luckily, they picked up the trail of a stag further along the river and it wasn't long before they spotted him grazing in a clearing. It took some effort to carry the kill back to camp, and by the time they dropped it off next to the fire, Kaius collapsed against a log and let others deal with the butchering.

"Was about to send a search party, lad." Caulden mused from the other side of the pit as he stuffed a whittled pipe with some sort of herb, a wry grin on his face. "Track that to Fal'Addas?" his greying brow quirked as he jerked his chin toward the carcass.

"Funny." Kaius muttered.
 
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Attacking the minea

Arwyl Minras

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07081bdcb312db3c571bcea505e0d161.jpg

Arwyl stayed as still as he could. The slavers weren't looked outwards from the mines, they were watching the slaves.

"Just as Elena described it," he said to Kaius. "And I don't like it."

The bridges to the cliff side were narrow. If the armed guards saw them coming they could hold them long enough for reinforcements to come.

"We need a small team on that side of the ravine. We need to silence the guards before we bring in the whole crew to finish the job."

Thst was just the beginning. Once they had the mines and had secured the slaves they were going to take the town itself. It was an hour's walk, but they couldn't strike until nightfall.
 
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