Private Tales Muscle

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Arwyl Minras

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"Fuck," Arwyl swore under his breath. He stood his ground and waved Kaius onwards. A wave wasn't going to spur him one when the tunnels were very loudly collapsing behind Kaius. Motivation enough.

The element of surprise was gone. Questions could be answered later, but there was no chance that riders would not be sent out. Even if Arwyl had his band kill every one of them, the town would know something was wrong and close the gates.

The rocks cracked over his head. Arwyl looked up, then ahead to Kaius. Thirty paces still seperated them.

He held out both his hands and drew a crack in the fabric of magic. Spidery cracks shot both up and down and the transparent beam formed in the air. It wouldn't hold long. Spirit glass wasn't meant to bear loads. Arwyl's face screwed up in concentration as he held it.

Light danced along the length of the spirit glass as it held the tunnel, but started to crack. Just a few more paces, even more shouting from Kaius to flee. Arwyl held.

As soon as Kaius passed him he let go. Darting away and quickly overtaking Kaius again. The rod shattered into a thousand pieces and the section of tunnel came down. Arwyl ran until he could see the light once more.
 
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Riley

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Every step, every jostle hurt like hell. She bit down on the inside of her cheek until she could taste the iron tang of blood. Head rolled against Kaius’ chest, eyes closing. It was her time to plead with beings she didn’t believe in.

Don’t let him die. Please. Please.
If you need someone, if you have to take someone, take me.

With a last shuddering rumble behind them as if the mountain considered her offer, they broke into the light outside. Fresh air. Thorn’s voice somewhere. And a sweet, caressing breeze across her face before she blacked out in Kaius’ arms.
 

Kaius

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His muscles ached from trying to run faster than he could, his lungs burned with the dusty air he breathed into them and coughed back out again. He could feel rocks hit his back as the collapse chased them down, intent on entombing them within. He glanced up, seeing boulders dislodge and fall, rocks that would have seen he and Riley both dead had they not appeared to meet some invisible force instead.

"Hold on.. Hold on.." he told her as he bolted the last few feet of the tunnel and out into the air, a plume of dust exploding behind them as the entrance crumbled behind him. Kaius stopped as soon as he was clear of it and fell to his knees, laying Riley down in the grass. Her eyes were closed, and his heart fell into the pit of his stomach, causing it to burn with nausea and his chest to ache.

"Riley.." his hand cupped her dusty face. "Don't fucking do this." he frowned, too afraid to check for her pulse in case there wasn't one to find. The area of grass around them withered and died as he drew in all that gave it life. He couldn't heal, but if it's energy would keep her heart beating it was all he could do.

"Fix her." he barked at the gathering crowd. Elena's hand rested on his shoulder again, Riz's on the other, and some gentle effort was made to pull him away whilst their healers assessed the damage. Kaius shrugged them off irritably and they seemed to get the message. He wasn't leaving her side until her eyes opened.
 
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Arwyl Minras

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Arwyl felt a tug at his heart at the sight of Kaius like this. Not a gentle tug, a pull that could rend his soul. Arwyl had seen death before - many times - and the thought of Riley being lost hurt. But it was the sight of Kaius so broken that truly got to him. He couldn't remember seeing Kaius like this.

"She just needs air," said Arwyl. He moved to stand between beside Kaius, giving a light shake of his head towards Riznak and Elena. There was no authority to his opinion, just a hope.

They had no elves who knew the old magics of healing. Some of those they had liberated from the slavers knew the basics of medical care.
 
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Riley

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The prince may have forgotten about Baba Yogi. The old woman was unnerving at most and mysterious at best. She had a gnarled cane from at old birch tree she used to walk with...when she felt like it.

"Move aside, move aside, shooSHOO," she hobbled through those gathered around Riley, Kaius, and Arwyl. "You too, cute stuff," twisted fingers pinched the cheek of Thorn quite hard as she squatted down and hovered over Riley. "Hrm, HRm. Shattered bone in the leg. Won't be walking for a bit. Turn her over, gently now. GENTLE."

Baba quieted as she saw the burn. She opened her kit and began cutting away the burned and tattered clothing. Finally, her head lifted to Kaius' eyes alone. "She'll live," she rumbled quietly. "The next few days will not be easy. And this wound will not heal pretty."
 
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Kaius

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Kaius glanced up at Arwyl as his voice dragged him back to the realisation that he'd been the only reason either of them had made it out of the mine at all, and he gave the prince quick once over to make sure he was alright and gave a hesitant nod. There was no hiding the fear in his expression, nor the glassy tears in his stormy gaze that threatened to spill over if his worries were not quickly appeased.

The crone's voice caused his focus to shift, and his expression was a glare that warned her not to even attempt to tell him to move aside. When she didn't, he let his gaze drop to Riley, realising he was still stroking her face, her hair, trying to soothe her when it was he who desperately needed to calm. He turned her as the woman asked, afraid to look at the damage she'd suffered, his heart rattling haphazardly in his chest as he looked at the witch for her verdict.

She'll live.

He didn't hear anything else. He didn't care about anything else. He broke down with relief, a breath breaking free of his lungs with a sound somewhere between a laugh and a sob as he pulled Riley into his arms as gently as he could and wrapped his shaking arms around her, his lips pressing firmly against her head. He tried to collect himself, to breathe deeply, but the shock of relief dislodged tears with tension and his eyes closed as he silently thanked whatever gods had been listening.
 

Arwyl Minras

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Arwyl gave a sharp nod. The relief didn't fully undo the knot in his chest. They were not yet done here. Kaius was done. He needed to organise the group.

"Thorn get the pickets set now. Over the ravine. Scouts will be coming after that noise! Riznak use your voice to get all the slaves together. We need to take them deeper into the forests."

Arwyl wasn't gone from Kaius' side for long. There was a core in the group who had followed him for years. They didn't need specific directions to carry out a plan. The group might have fought, raiding and drank their way across counties but they hadn't survived just from luck.

"Take a moment, breathe," Arwyl said, placing a hand on Kaius' shoulder. "But we need to move soon. Can you carry her to a wagon?"
 
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Riley

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Lids shifted, eyes peeking open. She looked for him first. She would always look for him first. Even in the afterlife, she would look for him.

She swallowed.

While she'd been out it looked like someone set and splinted her leg. Her shirt was off but there were wrappings around her back that also gave her some modesty across her chest.

Hell.

At least she'd been out for the leg-set. She heard the last part of what Arwyl said. "Carry my ass," her voice sounded like dirt and gravel grating in her throat. But it hurt even as she lifted her head slightly to get a good look at Kaius' face.

"Are you okay?" She asked finally, barely a whisper. Seeing tear streaks across his still dusty and sooty face. Hands reached up, forgetting about hiding what the had. Thumb smoothing over his skin as if to wipe the residual tears and pain away from his face. Even as her back protested at the motion.
 

Kaius

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This had been what he'd been afraid of with Arwyl. The leaving him out, letting him rest whilst everyone else moved on, but right now he was right to, he was done, and he couldn't think about anything else. How could he have blamed the prince for thinking that this, that she, was a bad idea? He didn't care, not right now, he wasn't going anywhere and he idly stroked at Riley's hair as the old crone set her bones, his face contorting with a grimace at the crack of it. He was glad she didn't wake.

His tired eyes shifted to Arwyl as he returned and he gave a slow nod and patted on his hand as he felt it rest on his shoulder. He'd been about to answer when Riley's voice croaked out and he flinched slightly and his gaze snapped back to her face.

The mess she'd gotten herself into and she was asking if he was okay. A breathy laugh forced it's way from his chest and he grinned down at her, his hand finding hers to press it to his face as he took a breath, finding it come a little easier to him now that she was awake. "Aye, just about." he answered, turning his head to press a kiss to her palm.

"Arwyl's right, we need to move. Hold on to me." he instructed, and slipped his arms underneath her as gingerly as he could to cradle her and get her onto the nearest wagon..
 

Arwyl Minras

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Arwyl turned to see the scene behind him. So wrapped up in the personal drama he had barely noticed the throng of slaves.

"You are all free to go," he called out. "But the owners of these mines will be coming soon. I suggest you come with us. Walk if you can, those who cannot take the wagons. You are free to do as you please."

He turned on his heel and set out across the ravine. Arwyl just wanted to lay that out as it was. He was not here to sell them anything.

There stole little from the area. Just the weapons held by the guards. The raw iron was of little used to them. They bought what they needed or took it rather than try and forge with what infrastructure they had.


They were on the move soon. Arwyl had scouts ranging wide about the core group. They were putting distance between themselves and the mines and covering their tracks. So much for the surprise attack on the town. Before dawn they would need to see what state of alert it was in.
 
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Riley

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It was more comfortable for her to rest on her stomach. Not that lying prone in a wagon over rocky-ground was comfortable at all. Her magic had been burned out in the caves. That on top of her physical injuries. She hadn't felt this tired since she'd had to keep a protective bubble around herself for those three days.

But for Kaius?

She kept a brave face. At least she'd learn one good thing from the Academy; how to hide pain and weakness. She was doing good at the former but not the latter as she let her slitted eyes linger on Kaius' face, her head turned.

"I'm okay," she murmured again.

At least Arwyl wasn't giving her hell. Yet.
 
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Kaius

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Slaves always seemed confused by their freedom at first. Unused to having choices to make or paths to walk, uncertain of the world as they now faced it alone. They didn't always know how to look after themselves, they barely spoke, they could hardly look another in the eye. Whipped dogs.

After Arwyl spoke up, a bunch of the others rallied round, offering them reassurance, ensuring they weren't hurt or injured, urging them to join them and offered food, water and aid when they reached camp. They did come along, and a woman and child sat across from them in the back of the wagon, sunken eyes watching in utter confusion as he, an elf, tenderly stroked the hair of the human woman he sat beside. He offered them a strained smile, and looked down at her again as she spoke.

"I know." he answered quietly. "But you very nearly weren't." his jaw clenched with the urge of berating her, but he pushed it down with a sigh. "Get some rest.."

And on came the familiar storm that darkened his mind after battle, a downpour of guilt and flashes of the men he'd killed, of Henry's final moments, of the fear that'd struck his heart. He'd barely noticed the bleeding wound on his arm, nor the pain in his back or the fact that his hands were shredded and he had very nearly no fingernails left. The pain of it all was waiting to flood him as soon as his anger and fear made room for it in his mind.

"Did we lose anyone else?.." Kaius called to Arwyl as he glanced around at those walking beside the wagons.
 

Arwyl Minras

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Arwyl did not shout out the answer. He had been talking to Thorn about setting the pickets for the night. The plan had changed now. With the slaves safe and the mines closed down but Cindrill would know they were coming. By now their scouts would have made it to the mines. The plans had to change.

Whilst they had planned for many eventuallites, they hadn't expected anything that could make such a noise to alert the town.

Arwyl jogged up to the wagon. He grabbed the back and pulled himself inside.

"No one else was lost," he told Kaius. "A few minor injuries."

No one from the other side had survived. They'd asked some questions of the surviving guards, but they'd been sent into the ravine. No prisoners this time.

"I still want to attack, but before dawn tomorrow. Not tonight. They'll be on alert."

Arwyl crouched down, looking between the two of them. He sighed.

"So...how long has this been going on?"
 
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Riley

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There was something comforting about the sounds of so many footfalls with them. Slaves they'd freed. Many of them elves. Eyes panned upward, knowing that storm behind Kaius' expression. She wished she could smooth it away with a touch of her fingers.

Take on some of his burden; not add to it.

When her eyes shifted, she caught Thorn's worried glance before he disappeared to complete his king's orders. And as Arwyl asked that question, she let her eyes drift closed. Taking advantage of pretending to be asleep. And nearly beyond pretending.

Sorry Kai
 

Kaius

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Kaius huffed and rubbed at the back of his neck, relieved that no-one else had been lost, but Henry's face was still burned into his mind. One man was one man too many, and his jaw clenched to keep his anger at bay. It wouldn't do any good to start cracking up, particularly in front of the timorous elves who'd joined them.

He watched Arwyl crouch in front of him and frowned at the question, dropping his gaze to Riley as she 'slept'..

"A while.." he answered and rubbed at his face, unable to meet his gaze. There was little point in hiding it now, he'd thought he'd lost her, and it couldn't have been more obvious with how badly he'd taken it. He hadn't expected to feel the amount of shame as he currently did. Kaius wasn't accustomed to lying, particularly to Arwyl.

"I figured if you knew you'd try to leave me behind." he explained, his eyes downcast.
 

Arwyl Minras

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"I figured if you knew you'd try to leave me behind." he explained, his eyes downcast.

Arwyl had already taken a step back. If Kaius did not want to talk then a while would suffice for now. There was still time to get out into the pickets with Thorn and make sure the scouts were set. To steal a moment of time for himself.

However, at Kaius' sudden admission he abruptly stopped. He faced Kaius, his hands firmly planted on his hips.

"You thought what?"
 
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Kaius

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Kaius could barely look at him, his head bowed and he squeezed at the tension on the back of his neck with a groan.

He lowered his voice. "I was afraid you wouldn't approve. And I didn't want you to think I was.. distracted." he frowned and lifted his mossy eyes to meet his. "Nor did I want you to care so much for my happiness that you'd send me away." he sighed. Either of those things were a possibility, either way, Arwyl had been Kaius' priority since the Prince was born, and he hadn't wanted him to think that had changed. He hadn't wanted to find himself in a situation where he'd have to choose. His gaze dropped to Riley for a moment and he sighed, letting his head fall back against the side of the wagon.

"I'm sorry.." he said with a glance at him.
 

Arwyl Minras

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"Oh stop being a dick about it," Arwyl said out loud. His soft expression didn't match the words. He offered Kaius a smile and gave a subtle nod.

"You look after Riley for now," he said quietly. "That went to shit, but we're holding together well. I'll need your judgement tomorrow when we've got a look at the town."

They had plenty to talk through, but now was not the time. He had never seen Kaius quite like this before and it frightened him a little. Kaius was the rock in his life, he hadn't seen cracks in the only constant in his circle before.
 
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Kaius

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Kaius frown remained, but he smiled underneath it and dipped his chin in a short nod.. "Aye..Tomorrow.." he answered gratefully.

He was well aware that he'd almost lost it. Well aware of how obviously broken he'd have been if Riley hadn't made it. He hadn't meant to feel the way he felt about her. Women had stepped into his path now and again since they'd left Arwyl's burning home, but he'd always stepped straight onto another path. He'd only ever loved one other, and he'd promised her that Arwyl would be taken care of.

With Riley, he was taken off guard. He realised that he could still care about someone that much, and remembered all the same just how terrifying it was. And how badly it could break him. He looked down at Riley and knew he was setting himself up to be broken again, whether it was dying in battle or old age that took her.. something would. Kaius rubbed at his face and closed his eyes with a huff, his hand resting protectively on her side as he rested his gritty eyes for a while.
 
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Riley

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Even as she was pretending sleep, she found she couldn't quite relax the tension building in her shoulders. Human ear turned toward that conversation. Breaths turning shallow as she tried to listen closely to their lowering voices above the rocking of the cart and creaking wheels on the road and grass. Above the shuffling and murmuring of the freed slaves around them.

Godsdamned elves and their super-hearing, lowering their voices that made her strain to hear.

Finally though, she found herself able to relax into real sleep at Arwyl's voice. Kaius' answer. Then his strokes along her side. And she slept and slept until the early light of dawn stretched into her...

Tent.

Bleary eyes blinked open. She was still prone on her stomach. They'd made it through the night without any follow-up attack. At least, she'd slept through it if there was one. A frown pulled at her face as she shifted. Her back still hurt like a mother and her leg. She winced, impatience flashing across her face.

Then ignored all the pain and sat up, slowly.

Thorn tsked from the tent opening.

"Kaius said you probably shouldn't move and stay resting."

Riley glared at her young friend.

"Kaius isn't here, now is he?"

"He'll have my hide if you re-open those bandages on your back."

Riley rolled her eyes.

"Can you just get me a fuking crutch so I can look outside?"

Thorn gulped, wishing Kaius was back here to deal with her himself.
 

Arwyl Minras

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Arwyl, Kaius and Elena happened to be returning to the camp as Riley argued with Thorn. They had been out to observe the town, to see what they had done in response to the assault on the mines. Arwyl looked determined, rather than dejected.

He crouched down over a patch of bare earth where he had already etched an outline of the town walls. He took his knife from his belt and drew across the openings in the outline.

"As expected they've closed the gates. They're searching everyone in and out. That means our original plan to get some humans inside before the attack is no longer on the table. But I didn't see many more on the walls than before."

He drew several small circles. The palisades only had a few places where the guards could climb to look out beyond the walls.

"So how do we get those gates open?" he asked Kaius.
 
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Kaius

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Kaius rolled the tension from his shoulders as he looked down at the town's outline in the dirt, nodding slowly to himself as Arwyl spoke and added their findings to it. He dropped into a crouch as Arwyl asked for his input, scratching at his beard as he looked over it, his eyes distant with thought for a moment before he slipped his dagger from it's sheath and pressed it into the dirt. He drew wavy line down one side of Arwyl's drawing.

"We open it from the inside. There will be a trade entrance on the river side, there were merchant boats further up the canal. Perhaps too heavily guarded, we want to get in without alarm being raised." he frowned. "We're not losing anyone else." he muttered gruffly to himself.

His blade drew a small archway about half way up. "The river on this side acts like a moat - it won't be as heavily guarded as the other sides, we definitely can't approach from the front. It's wide, but not troublesome. If we swim across here, we just need to get through the grates and into the sewer tunnels." his brow quirked as he looked between the two.

His focus shifted toward the tent where Riley was resting, catching sight of Thorn looking edgy. The assumption of why wasn't difficult to put together and he rubbed at the back of his neck with a glance back to Arwyl. His urge to be at her side difficult to ignore.
 
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Riley

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Thorn disappeared for a second, re-appearing with a carved crutch from the supplies. Riley wasn't the first to get hurt during a raid and nor would she be the last. Taking a deep breath, she gripped the crutch, heaving herself to her feet, well, foot.

Pain barked up her spine and she bit back a yelp.

Thorn made to go around to support her on the other side as she stood just outside the tent entrance.

"Don't....you.....dare," she breathed and snapped out. Thorn's eyes narrowed but he didn't say anything. He remained at her side but gave her, her space, eyeing her warily.

"Riley," he half pleaded, wondering how Kaius dealt with this woman. She shot him a look that would make any man's hair fall out. Good thing he was an elf and not a man.
 

Arwyl Minras

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Arwyl nodded slowly. "Good. I don't like leaving things to chance, so perhaps some of the humans among us can take wagon through the gate posing as merchants. The more people inside when it starts the better."

Kaius could state that they wouldn't lose anyone but it didn't change the fact that they probably would. They were taking an entire town. A small one, but there were guards to be dealt with. That had to be on hiw own conscience and not Kaius'

Arwyl did not know how to shift that burden.

Arwyl followed Kaius' gaze and sighed.

"If you and Thorn bring her to sit over here can I keep your counsel a little longer?" Arwyl asked.
 
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Kaius

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Kaius snorted, his head bowing to rub at the back of his neck as he laughed quietly to himself. "If you think she'll accept the help you've another think coming.." he answered, his brow creasing as he lifted his eyes to him. "If I'd given her choice in the matter she'd have tried crawling out of that mine rather than be carried." he smirked and huffed to himself, giving Thorn a shrug and a shake of his head that wordlessly told him to let her do as she pleased.

"Aye.." he said, returning to the plan at hand. "We have a fair amount of them now - I just hope we can trust them enough to remain on our side." Some of the humans were still edgy around elves, despite what their own kind had done to them. They'd been pitted against elves in fighting rings, been taught to fight them and fear them. He could only hope that their grudge with slavers superseded their dubiety over the elves and that with time, their deep-rooted fears would dissolve.
 
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