Private Tales The Lion, The Rookie, and The Giant

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A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Ser Gavin Halbert

The Lion of Oban
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(OOC: Takes place 11 years before the year 369 the picture below is a 39 year old Gavin.)



Kal Palthras was a good albeit crowded place. The nobles have been cracking down on the population lately trying to be more selective in who they invite in. This didn't sit well with the peasants who resided in the outside area as many people who immigrate to Kal Palthras were their families. Once again tensions between the classes rose with small riots being repelled by the Dwarven Special Forces.

Ser Gavin Halbert cracked his neck as he took a long gulp of Goat's Milk. The Goat's Delight was bustling with activity with Tavern waitresses flirting with patrons and sounds of laughing, eating and pieces of dice ricocheting off the table. Taverns were home to a wanderer like Willis there were women, gambling, drinking, fights. Bah! Talk about debauchery! Though Gavin didn't mind the drinks and the dice, the women were nice to look at too. The legendary Knight was sent on a mission from Oban to help an important noble family: The Orerivers with their issues. The Kingdom of Dalriada and Kal Palthras were undergoing trade negotiations and the Orerivers managed to offer them a beautiful price for the Ore they've dug up. Just when they were about to make the alliance official, tragedy struck and the family heir: Dordim disappeared while hunting for a legendary Ice Giant.

The Lion of Oban approached the Dwarven brewmaster and slapped a coin on the table. "Any rumors?" he asked. "Aye," The Dwarf replied taking the coin and giving him a small glass of rum. "A noble family is placing a reward on whoever finds their son. Disappeared a fortnight ago, meet him near the entrance of the Noble City."

Ser Gavin nodded "That's where I'm headed," he said getting up and adjusting his cloak. It was time to go to work, Oban had called on him for assistance and he swore an oath to be loyal to his lords and ladies of Oban.

Heike Eisen
 
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Heike Eisen

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(Female paladin, by Swerc)

It was the first time Heike Eisen had left Reikhurst, and the journey to Kal Palthras was quite the experience.

She had only just in recent months been inducted into the Order of the Golden Blade, being one of very few women who could pass the intense physical rigors of the initiation. Had only just participated in her Accolade and sworn her Trinity of Oaths before King Rommel, the current elected King of Reikhurst, and became a Citizen and Warrior. And now she had the honor of accompanying one of her former knight-superiors, Herr Dieter Roth; Knight-Captain Lukas Sturm; and seven other fellow Knights of the Golden Blade on an envoy mission to Kal Palthras.

Though perhaps the timing of said envoy mission could have been better--even Heike, inexperienced as she was, could see that. The contingent of Reikhurstan Knights had only been in Kal Palthras for a couple of days now, and the city appeared to be on edge. An unsettled tension was in the air. Mayhap Knight-Captain Lukas would learn of it while he was being received by one of the local nobles.

While their Knight-Captain attended his business with the dwarven noble, the other nine knights stood sentinel outside of the noble's home. Not entirely formal and rigid, but still with a degree of such. For this envoy mission they were all armed with poleaxes, versatile weapons with excellent reach and usefulness against some of the dangers that could be found in the Seret Mountains. They stood aligned in a row with their weapons held dutifully in their right hands, feet shoulder width apart and left hands in the smalls of their backs.

Herr Dieter was standing beside Heike. She struck up a conversation with him, saying, "Herr Dieter, if I may, when did you first travel far from Reikhurst?"

He glanced over to her. "Before I had decided to volunteer my service. Is that what you were wondering? If I had done so before I was a knight?"

"Ermm...Partially, yes." Heike was still not quite used to talking to Herr Dieter on a more casual basis. They weren't equals in rank--she being a Knight and he being a Knight-Valiant--but they were a lot more so now that she was likewise inducted into the Order. "It is...to be frank with you, Herr Dieter, it is both thrilling and somewhat frightening at the same time. Does that make sense?"

He chuckled, a throaty and nasally sound. "Yes, Herr Heike, that does make sense. When I was a boy traveling with my father to Belgrath, I believe I felt then as you do now. Perhaps it is something that men of mirth and wit might notice: that one can be intimately familiar with battle and death, yet be made nervous by the all too common unfamiliarity of experiencing a new land for the first time."

"That is a fine way to say it, Herr Dieter," Heike said. She smiled, looked down in contemplation for a moment, then back to him. Said, "I am not afraid of performing the duties asked of me as a Knight of the Golden Blade, but the vast scale of the world, it...well, it truly is daunting. To think about. To see firsthand."

"'As a Knight of the Golden Blade,'" Herr Dieter repeated. And now he offered her a smile, one of fatherly approval. "How does that feel? To have earned the privilege to say those words, Herr Heike? Or should I say, Herr Hei-KUH."

They shared a small laugh together, Herr Dieter having referenced a particularly stressful time during her initiation in which she almost fell behind on a run and failed right then and there, yet had persevered. But Heike's chest nevertheless swelled, her breastplate rising, and she replied, "I could not be more proud, Herr Dieter."

"Good," Herr Dieter said. "Remember, Heike, that pride in times of great strife. Stay true, and no matter what comes, you will always be a proud daughter of Reikhurst."

Within the next few minutes, Knight-Captain Lukas stepped out of the noble's home and descended the steps and spoke to them all assembled there. The meeting had gone well, and, as it so happened, the noble asked something of Lukas and his knights: that he might aid friends of the family, the Orerivers, with a tragedy that had befallen their son and heir, Dordim. It was a chance to make a good first impression, and furthermore, they would not be alone in this endeavor.

They would be joined by a knight of esteemed renown. The Lion of Oban, he was called.

Ser Gavin Halbert.

* * * * *​

They were told to wait by the entrance of the Noble City, and that is where Knight-Captain Lukas led them. And wait they did for a time. This they did at ease, Herr Dieter speaking with Herr Lukas, the other more acquainted knights conversing among themselves. Heike, still quite new and not truly knowing any of them save for Herr Dieter, was something of an odd woman out. But she did not mind. Perhaps this would be a chance to earn some of her own esteem among her Knights in the Order.

Not unlike Ser Gavin Halbert, as a matter of fact. Both Herr Dieter and Herr Lukas knew about him, despite neither having met him or even so much as having visited Oban themselves. The journey out to Kal Palthras had already been an outstanding experience, and now Heike was going to meet a knight whose reputation had the strength of preceding him so far and wide--at least among fellow Orders of Knights. To be in his presence might well be striking, or even a touch overwhelming, as it had been during her Accolade with King Rommel himself.

Retain your decorum, Heike, she thought to herself. You are a knight now, not merely some fawning girl pretending at such. Conduct yourself accordingly.

She stood somewhat apart from her fellows at the entrance to the Noble City, helm tucked into crook of her left arm and holding her poleaxe with her right hand as she had previously. She did not know precisely what Ser Gavin looked like, but she kept watch regardless.

Intrigued, and eager.

Ser Gavin Halbert
 
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Ser Gavin Halbert

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As soon as Gavin exited The Goat's Delight he was greeted by a cold chill. When he first arrived, he overheard the locals musing that winter came early despite the fact it was summer. Indeed even the person who guided his group through the mountain was surprised of the snow dropping in the mouthing so soon. It didn’t bother Gavin too much but it was something to monitor. Gavin headed for the entrance of the Noble city. He had special permission to enter through a letter written and signed by Feric Oreriver. As Gavin arrived at the entrance, he was greeted by a band of Knights. They were recognizable but the style of armor and the sigil embedded on it. The proud city-state of Reikhurst, it was a land that was ruled by honor and duty and with the military to back it. Some of the best knights in Arethril history had come from Reikhurst. Powerful and rich due to their lands being located in the always fertile Allirian Reach, they were able to provide plenty of food for their own people.

"Knights from the state of Reikhurst," Ser Gavin mused approaching the young woman in front of him. Where he was from women were put on a tight leash and were rarely fighters. The female knight had long blond hair that fell past her shoulders, chocolate brown eyes and an oval shaped face. She seemed more like she belonged to a ball than a battle but Gavin kept quiet about that.

"It is an honor to meet you great Knights," he said. "But what are you doing out here in the Seret Mountains? Do you have business with the noble families of Kal Palthras?"
 
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Heike Eisen

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Not all in Kal Palthras were dwarves. This clear to be seen from the passersby not only going into and out of the Noble City's entrance, but also those walking about attending to their normal business in the commons. Presumably, Ser Gavin would also be seeking out the representative from the Oreriver family here at the Noble City entrance. So even if Heike didn't know him by sight, he and the Knights of the Golden Blade should happen into one another eventually.

It was then that she noticed a man approaching her specifically. He was armored; quite evidently a fighting man. She glanced over, eyes curious and receptive.

It is an honor to meet you great Knights. But what are you doing out here in the Seret Mountains? Do you have business with the noble families of Kal Palthras?

Oh? He seemed familiar to a degree with the Order of the Golden Blade, or so Heike thought. He at least surmised that it was a special occasion for them to be present in the Seret Mountains and in Kal Palthras.

Herr Dieter and Herr Lukas had not yet noticed, they still talking among themselves. So Heike addressed the man. Said cordially (while being compelled subconsciously to stand a little more formally at attention by the man's inherent gravitas), "Hail to you. I am Herr Heike Eisen, Knight of the Golden Blade. And, why yes, we do have business here in Kal Palthras--we have traveled far as envoys from Reikhurst. We have in fact been asked to perform a service for the Oreriver family, and to this end we await another so tasked: Ser Gavin Halbert."

She said, not knowing to whom she was speaking.

Ser Gavin Halbert
 

Ser Gavin Halbert

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Gavin had an brother who lives in Reikhurst with his family, every now and then he would visit the Kingdom to see them. He remembered the last time he saw them a seven year old Harry would swing his wooden sword something he carved out with the help of his father and said that he wanted to be just like Gavin a great Knight. Gavin would chuckle and ruffle the young boys hair, part of him wanted to take young Harry as a page and have him learn the ways of the Knight. However his father forbade it saying that a the life of a Knight was a hard and dangerous life much Harry's chagrin.

"I never thought I would be a Knight," Gavin remembered telling Harry. "But I kept hoping until one day, a Knight offered me to travel with him and learn the ways of the Knight. Keep holding on to that dream Harry and never forget what makes a Knight. It's not through martial prowess but by having a pure heart."

The Knight wanted to visit his brother again, maybe tour through the Victory Arch of the Ninth King and try out some ale in one of the taverns of Vale Street. "Nice to meet you Herr Heike Eisen: Knight of the Golden Blade. I have heard of your order's prowess, one of the best Knights this side of Alliria."

Gavin bowed a bit. "I am Ser Gavin Halbert," he said a bit confused as to why the Orerivers would request Knights of the Golden Blade as well. Surely Gavin would be enough. "I've been sent here by the Kingdom of Daladaria to perform a task for House Oreriver as well. Does it have to do with their son going missing?"
 

Heike Eisen

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Heike immediately flushed red with embarrassment when the man spoke his name. That was Ser Gavin! She started a little, flustered and caught by surprise. She hooked her helm onto her belt and held her poleaxe with both hands and performed a Present Arms salute to him, returning to her normal stance after the formal gesture had been rendered.

"My apologies, Ser Gavin! I did not know that it was you."

Oh, and what was more, Ser Gavin even knew of the Order of the Golden Blade. Complimented them. Heike did not expect him to on either count, but it was certainly a pleasant surprise.

Does it have to do with their son going missing?

"Yes, Ser Gavin, that is precisely it. Noble friends of the Orerivers, with whom we met earlier, asked if we might lend our aid in this endeavor, and our Knight-Captain agreed. Oh! Allow me to introduce you."

Heike turned back to her fellows, and called, "Herr Lukas! Ser Gavin Halbert has arrived."

Both Herr Lukas and Herr Dieter looked her way, as did the other Knights of the contingent. Then Herr Lukas stepped forward, Herr Dieter in tow, and came up alongside Heike and before Ser Gavin. Herr Lukas handed off his poleaxe to Herr Dieter, then extended his hand.

"Ser Gavin Halbert, an honor to meet you. Herr Lukas Sturm of the Order of the Golden Blade," he said. With a glance to Heike and then back to Ser Gavin, he added, "I see that you have already met one of our youngest and newest Knights here in Herr Heike. May she aspire toward your esteemed example."

Heike, used to the physical and mental stresses placed upon her during her squiring but hardly used to the manner of attention she was received now, kept most of her expression dutifully composed while the corners of her mouth rebelled into small curls of a smile. Her cheeks were hot and she became intensely aware of the pulse of her heartbeat felt in her ears.

"So," said Herr Lukas, "we await now only the representative from the Oreriver Family."

Ser Gavin Halbert
 
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Ser Gavin Halbert

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Women were not common in the Oban military mostly out of fear that their magical powers might manifest in the high stress environment in the battlefield. Gavin admittedly felt uncomfortable when he saw a female warrior out of fear that she might open up the skies and unleash fireballs on ally and enemy alike because she was close to death. The Knight saw Heiske trying to fight off a smile but was failing miserably based on her flushed cheeks. "A pleasure to meet you both," Gavin said smiling.

"I was not informed that the Order was to accompany me on this mission," Gavin stroked his brown beard. "I assume that this was a last minute requisition made by the Orerivers?" he felt a little miffed that the Dwarves did not trust his abilities. After all this was the man who was the hero of the Sandy Steps, one of the few True Knights in all of Dalidara. To receive assistance at all felt like a slap in the face but these are the Golden Knights: Men and women of his skill level so he let it pass..... mostly.

Just then a guard cladded in golden Dwarven armor walked towards them wielding a steel Halberd. "Knights?" he asked chuckling. "A group of Knights now I must hallucinating."

"I'm afraid you're not," Gavin said. "What you see before you are the best and brightest in all of Arethril."

"All right, all right," the guard said scratching his thick black beard. "Next you'll be telling me to kowtow and kiss each of your arses."

"Well It will show respect," Gavin said simply, "And it will wipe the smartasrsery off your lips."

The Dwarf grunted. "The Orerivers summoned you," he said. "I know who you guys are but rules remain rules. Give me your letters so I can verify so I can let you in the Noble City. Don't want the rats to try to make a run for it the moment the door opens.

"You mean the commonfolk?" Gavin asked handed the Dwarf the letter from the Orerivers.

"Scum is more like it," the Dwarf said casting a spell to check its veracity. "This is the 8th run in this month, if I had my way I would've cracked open some skulls."

"Then I'm thankful," Gavin responded crisply. "That it is not up to you, I'd hate to see Kal Palthras be a malestrom of conflict."

The Dwarf glared at the Knight. "You may be a respected knight," he growled. "But this is my territory and we have a saying: If you're going to throw an ax be prepared to lose a few fingers."

Gavin remained silent as the Dwarf shivered. "It's bloody cold," he said. "And this is in the middle of summer! Hurry up Golden Knights! Give me your letters so I can analyze them!"
 
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Heike Eisen

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Ser Gavin asked if it was a last minute requisition made by the Orerivers. Herr Lukas gave a half nod, then fully explained. They--the contingent of Golden Blade Knights--originally were simply here as envoys, a mission purely diplomatic in nature. But the noble family with whom they were meeting, the Thurgrunds, happened to be friends of the Orerivers. The timing of the tragedy regarding Dordim was such that the patriarch of the Thurgrunds asked if Herr Lukas and his Knights could assist. And Herr Lukas had assented. Thus, here they were. Last minute yes, but not quite at the direct behest of the Orerivers, but friends thereof.

The dwarven guard approached then--clad in armor that was reminiscent of the Golden Blade Knights' own in its hue. The interaction between the guard and Ser Gavin seemed to Heike to be a little...abrasive. But dwarves were known for being straightforward, no nonsense.

Heike's smile had faded by the time the dwarven guard mentioned the commonfolk. Oh. That was what was happening, was it? What the tension in the air was all about? Reikhurst was not perfect either, and Heike always found it disheartening when civil disorder of some description gained purchase upon the peace of a city or kingdom. Hopefully it would be resolved soon for Kal Palthras. Order was paramount. From it, all good and civilized things flowed. Ser Gavin's response in this regard was measured--admirable. Where the dwarf seemed a touch too eager to bring harsh (perhaps even wanton) discipline down on the citizenry.

Ser Gavin produced his letter for the dwarf. And Herr Lukas produced his own, handed it to the dwarf for inspection.

"This is the letter provided for myself and my nine knights, from Lord Thurgrund," Herr Lukas said.

Heike shifted her attention from Ser Gavin to the dwarven guard. And she wondered with an earnest curiosity: what would they all be getting into in this effort to recover the lost heir Dordim?

Ser Gavin Halbert
 
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Ser Gavin Halbert

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The Dwarf did the same procedure like to Herr Lukas' letter like he did to Gavin's nodding in the process. "It checks out," he said before turning to the gate. "Open the gate!" he shouted. The door began to lift revealing 4 more Dwarves armed with Automatic Crossbows. They greeted the Knights warmly while keeping a keen look out for anyone who would stupid or suicidal to rush the gate.



"Have fun heroes," the Dwarf said rolling his eyes.

"Don't blame us for doing something you should've done." Gavin said. "The fact that Kal Palthras had to write to us to come all the way from our homes to take care of the issue speaks to your incompetence."

The Guard wanted to say something, but held back but Gavin could see his reddening face, his fists gripping his Halberd and eyebrows knitted into a frown. As soon as the group was in the elevator, the door closed causing the elevator to descend down. "Have you've been a knight for long Herr Heiske?" Gavin asked curious about the woman. He wouldn't lie that he was somewhat nervous even though the Lion of Oban had fought with women plenty of times in the past there was still that feeling of doubt that maybe the woman's magical powers would be unleashed.

The commonfolk of Daldaria wouldn't hesitate to do a witch burning if they suspect foul play by whom they deemed as a witch. Yet Gavin had to adhere to the Knight's code: Honor women and that included the witches. His thoughts trailed to Kallirrhoe Aedus as the elevator stopped leading to the Noble City. He still remembered her touch and her views on magic especially in females. She changed Gavin in more ways than one where was she now?

 
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Heike Eisen

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It did seem odd to Heike that the dwarven guard had such a problem with Ser Gavin and her fellow Knights of the Golden Blade. Was it that he was irritated that they had been called upon to deal with this matter concerning Dordim? In Ser Gavin's case, coming all the way from Oban explicitly for it? Yes, maybe that was it. The dwarven guard might well be irritated that Kal Palthras dwarves weren't being sent out. That Heike could understand. The open (though mild) hostility she did not.

They stepped through the opened gate and onto a platform; a platform much like the ones used to haul heavy blocks of stone upwards during construction of tall structures, but large enough to accommodate all eleven of them. Leave it to the dwarves; the Sixteenth King of Reikhurst, King Grundunn, was famous for his ingenuity and inventive talent.

The platform started to descend down. And it was a peculiar feeling: Heike felt like her stomach had leapt up to shake hands with her heart, and then fell back down into her gut once the platform was fully in motion. She supposed the dwarves who used these inventions regularly were quite used to them.

Ser Gavin asked her a question.

Have you been a knight for long Herr Heike?

"Oh no," she said. "It has only been a few months now since my Accolade. In fact, this journey to Kal Palthras marks the first time I have properly been away from Reikhurst. I may have completed my initiation, but there are many things yet for me to learn and know."

She looked up to him. An earnest expression.

"Ser Gavin, your renown precedes your presence, and you have lived long and stayed true. If I may...could I ask you if you have any advice or wisdom that you might impart onto me?"

Ser Gavin Halbert
 
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Ser Gavin Halbert

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Ser Gavin Halbert frowned for a bit as they took a step out of the elevator. The girl has only been a Knight for a few months, as green and curious like he was during his first days as a Knight. Hopefully Heiske had far less tragic knighting than he did. "She was full of innocence," Gavin thought. "Unlike I was when I was knighted in blood." Ser Thomas believed in Gavin's potential when he squired for him that meant Gavin had to train hard everyday practicing swordsmanship, how to take of a horse and chilvary.

It was to the point where Gavin thought that he was never going to be a Knight. There were plenty of middle aged men who still squired for Knights. It was hard for Gavin imagined being that old and never attaining Knighthood. He might as well stayed at Buckwater being a fisherman or a farmer. Still it was to Gavin's surprise that Thomas used his dying breath to Knight him. "You have honor," Ser Thomas said struggling to keep the blood from surfacing from his mouth. "The most honorable person I know, do not give in to hate and rage. Only then you'll be lost....."

Gavin looked at the nobles walking on the large bridges discussing new finances, he also saw a pair of scholars talking about philosophy and the meaning of life. "You know the difference between a soldier and a Knight?" he asked Heike Eisen . "A Knight sets the example of what a person should be: Truthful, dutiful to their country and more importantly maintain their honor even when faced with temptation to give into their dark impulses especially when faced with tragedy or battle. Without honor a Knight is nothing more than a Sellsword or a Monster Hunter. It is better to die with honor than to live without it."

The last bits, the voice of Ser Thomas came out, it was something that Gavin struggled with throughout his entire career as a Knight. So many oaths to swear and sometimes they come into conflict each other. The Knight's burden is to remain virtuous but still fight and kill. The first thing Gavin did as soon as he became a Knight was lop off the head of Arthur the Relentless. Even though for years he wondered was that an act of honor?

"Being a Knight isn't an easy life Herr Heike," Gavin said. "Even if you do become a legend, it is hard life. You struggle with memories of battles and making the right choice when it comes to protecting people. Sometimes you'll even be faced with a choice that may cost you a piece of yourself. Remember your training and follow what you believe in."

Just then a Dwarf arrived and bowed. "So you're the Knights?" he asked. "Follow me."
 
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It is better to die with honor than to live without it.

Heike gave a firm nod of agreement to this. Though all of what he was said prior was sound, was an affirmation of what she and indeed all Knights of the Golden Blade were taught as part of their initiation, this statement resonated the most with Heike. Therein lay the commitment to uphold the Oaths one swore. The old Reikhurstan custom of Hinrichtung, the ritual slaying by one's peers to restore one's honor, was the physical manifestation of that very statement. And upon earning the privilege to swear her Trinity of Oaths before King Rommel, Heike knew that was how her life would go: she would uphold her Oaths or submit herself for Hinrichtung if she failed, but she would not carry on as a shameful Oathbreaker.

No, it wasn't an easy life. Many of those who tried out for initiation into the Golden Blade failed the physical requirements within the first few weeks, and were either washed out to the Reikhurstan Guard or back to civilian life--their choice. Heike herself had almost failed. And even beyond the physical demands, there were other difficulties. But Heike embraced it. She knew what she had volunteered herself into, and she wanted it. Merely to have earned the title of "Citizen and Warrior" through service in the Order of the Golden Blade was enough for her. She did not seek to become a legend, to pursue glory, no--only to accord herself to the highest standard of Reikhurstan virtue and to perform her duties well.

Sometimes you'll even be faced with a choice that may cost you a piece of yourself.

Hearing that, understanding the truth of it, was like feeling a ghostly touch of fright in the back of her mind. But this, too, she accepted. Better that she be the one to sacrifice, she who had volunteered to place herself between danger and home, than those who had not or could not. Such was the essence of being a Citizen and Warrior: personally assuming the responsibility for the protection of Reikhurst, and bearing the weight of it by one's own volition.

"Well said, Ser Gavin," she said. "I will carry your words with me, and recall them in times of great peril and strife."

A Dwarf then, familiar with and expecting them, had come and bowed. Asked them to follow. And they did, leaving the elevator behind, the expansive majesty and earthen tones of the Noble City before them. Herr Lukas was at the front of the contingent of Golden Blade Knights following after the Dwarf.

And Heike walked along beside Ser Gavin. Keen to stay near him. To learn what she could from the renowned knight in the time that they would spend together during this endeavor.

Ser Gavin Halbert
 

Ser Gavin Halbert

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A small smile formed on Gavin's face when Herr Heike promised to remember his advice. "I hope so," he said following the Dwarven servant. "As a Knight you'll have a restless life always fighting in the front ranks to protect values that you hold dear: Country, honor, freedom. As a Knight you are equivalent to tempered steel: Strong and wise. Merciful to towards anyone who deserves mercy even your most hated enemies. You will be a beacon of hope for the weak and innocent, to the wounded and frightened soldiers in the battlefield."

Gavin closed his eyes still remembering all the battles he had fought and tribulations that he'd endured. The still hung over his head like a dark cloud. "You'll be haunted by your experiences, the choices and sacrifices that you've made and you'll never know peace. But as a Knight you will bring peace to those you protect, an inspiration to many."

The group crossed a stone bridge and ahead was a large house made out of stone. Gavin saw Dwarven symbols carved on top of the golden door which read: House Oreriver: Glory and Gold. Over the years Gavin had learned some of the Dwarven language despite the fact that the Dwarves are very secretive of it.
As soon as the servant opened the door, a Dwarf wearing red velvet clothing walked up to Gavin and Herr Heike. His grey eyes widened with excitement over seeing the two elite knights.

"Welcome Ser Gavin!" he said. "And you as well Knights of the Golden blade! My name is Raak Orerriver head of my house! Please sit down we have much to discuss in so little time!"


 
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They followed along, the knights after the Dwarven servant.

Ser Gavin imparted a few more lines of wisdom and distillations of his experience as they walked. Heike had not yet herself been in a proper battle against enemy soldiers; only, as a matter of fact, a couple of near encounters with a pack of dire wolves here in the Seret Mountains, and those were scared off on both occasions. Yet the time would come--this grim knowledge unspoken but known, residing in a dark pool in the back of her mind with other such terrible truths. The time would come when she would need to spill the blood of her fellow Man, when she would live and a brother or sister in arms would perish, these and other grave things.

"Whatever may come," Heike said, "I will strive to make Reikhurst proud. And I will stay true."

Further they went, crossing the bridge and approaching the Oreriver house. And Heike (as well as few others of the Knights) marveled at the golden door, no shortage of wonder in her eyes at beholding so solid and massive a construction of the shining metal. Reikhurst had in the past been a prolific source of gold across the whole of the Allir Reach, but the Old Gold Mine in the city had almost been exhausted now. Only the insignias of the Golden Blade were made with the remaining gold--and Heike's own being one of those many insignias so symbolically crafted.

The door opened. Raak Oreriver, the dwarf in the elegant clothing, was there and introduced himself. Heike, being beside Gavin, introduced herself as well, and then did Herr Lukas do so for himself and for the rest of the contingent. At Lord Oreriver's prompting, the Knights entered his home and proceeded to the table indicated to have a seat.

So had Heike walked alongside Ser Gavin, so did she sit beside him at the table. Herr Dieter (and as well Herr Lukas) had noticed that Heike wanted to keep company with Ser Gavin, and he was elated that she had taken the initiative to learn what she could from him. It was a grand opportunity the likes of which seldom came along in life.

As everyone was getting probably seated and before Lord Oreriver was prepared to speak, Heike had a moment to glance at Ser Gavin and say, "I do hope I am not troubling you, Ser Gavin. Please tell me if you find my inquiries bothersome and I will cease at once."

Ser Gavin Halbert
 
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Ser Gavin Halbert

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While Raak clapped his hands prompting the servants to bring the group some refreshments, a small smile formed at Herr Heike she was full of innocence and questions. He just hoped that the young woman will endure the hurdles that Knight constantly faces everyday. "A foolish person thinks they have all the answers," Gavin replied. "But the only thing that a wise one knows is that they know nothing. Ask as many questions that pops into your head young Knight I'll gladly answer them."

The servants came back holding a platter full of golden goblets. "Here's some grape Wine," Raak said rubbing his hands nervously. "Made in the year: 360 very good year!" Gavin took the golden chalice with a nod of thanks and sipped some Wine while the female servant offered the Golden Knights the beverage. "You seem unsettled master Dwarf," Gavin said placing his goblet on the table. "Take deep breaths my friend."

"It's hard to do so," Raak said pacing back in forth. "When your son has been missing for a month and now there's snow in the summer and it's ruining the harvest! Even scholars are puzzled by this sudden change in weather!"

Gavin frowned stroking his brown beard. "Where did you see your son last?" he asked.

Raak slowly turned to the large hearth in front of him. "He went out searching for a myth. There had been claims by the Mountain guides of a sighting of a large creature," he answered turning around showing his blue eyes shimmering with tears. "This fueled speculation that the Ancient Ice Giant has awoken."

"Ice Giant?" Gavin said raising an eyebrow. "You mean Frost Giant no?"

"An Ice Giant I haven't misspoken Ser Gavin," Raak said frowning. "The Ice Giant is taller and more powerful than a Frost Giant according to legend, they can raise the dead to use as their army, summon a long winter, their weapons are made by rocks that fell from the sky and when they speak, their language sounds the cracking of ice."

Gavin nodded. "So what happened to these Ice Giants?" He asked.

"They have been wiped out by the Monster Hunters during the ousting of the Giants at the end of the Age of Urogosh," Raak answered. "But it is said that some survived the massacre and retreated to the mountains around Arethril to sleep and to swear revenge. There are stories in Kal Palthras that say that an Ice Giant sleeps somewhere in the Seret Mountains. Many fool hardy mercenaries would venture out of the gate to look for this Giant and none came back."

The Lion of Oban leaned closer. "So you son wanted to look for this Ice Giant?" he asked.

"He's obsessed!" The Raak cried out. "He wants to bring glory and honor to House Oreriver. Told the lad that he needs to stay focused on the family business instead of chasing fairy tales. We're one of the newest noble houses that was accepted here and we've got it good! But it wasn't enough for my son! As soon as the scholars were talking about the sudden change in weather he immediately said it was an Ice Giant! He spent weeks researching a possible location before setting off with an expedition the kill the Giant. Now there's been no word from him ever since."
 
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Heike Eisen

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Heike gave a nod of understanding to Ser Gavin. She was delighted that he was so humble in this regard, that he would spare his ear for the questions of a young knight. Other figures of similar renown or authority were simply too busy, could not be bothered, or were otherwise precluded by circumstance or personality from the inquiries of the curious.

The Knights of the Golden Blade, Heike included, each accepted and drank the wine offered to them. Only enough to be polite, however. None among them wished to risk even the slightest impairment. Not with the task that Lord Raak was soon to describe waiting ahead of them.

Heike listened. Listened with a solemn intensity. Frost Giant, Ice Giant, either one was formidable enough to her. And this was to be her first true battle, so it seemed--against a colossal monster instead of an opposing line of soldiers. A tremor of anxiety quaked in the pit of her chest, this both of the natural reaction to facing a dangerous foe and as well the vibrating anticipation of proving herself. She had trained long and hard for this moment, and in a deep but unvoiced way she wished to know if she was truly up to the task. She wished to know what all of her struggles in becoming a knight would amount to. This was the test. The real test. Her initiation had merely been the warm-up.

Herr Lukas placed his gauntleted and clasped hands on the table and leaned forward some. Asked, "Lord Raak. Is there reason to believe that the Ice Giant may be inclined to take Dordim hostage?"

As opposed to killing him outright. If there truly was an Ice Giant out there in the Mountains who was the cause of these strange happenings, then Dordim might well have been unfortunate enough to find what he was looking for. Herr Lukas was loath to voice this explicitly, and so had asked his question of the troubled father in a different manner.

But Herr Lukas's intent was still the same: he was trying to see what this mission would be. The rescue of a lost or captive son.

Or the recovery of his remains.

Ser Gavin Halbert
 
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Ser Gavin Halbert

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Gavin placed his hands under his chin studying Raak he was on the verge of tears natural since his son is missing. Herr Lukas asked a question if the Ice Giant would hold his son hostage which wasn't out of the realm of possibility since some Giants were smart enough to hold hostages for ransom for Lords to trade in usually for food and weapons. "This blasted creature doesn't even exist," Raak said icily. "So no I don't think he was held hostage. The lad always had his in the clouds chasing legends like a Bard chasing skirts, I begged and pleaded Dordim not to go but the pup wants to kill the Ice Giant. His expedition headed to the fist of the Dwarves up north. Because of the winding paths and monsters that lurk there, it's one of the few places that hasn't been explored thoroughly "

"Did you bring anyone with him?" Gavin asked adjusting himself on to the couch.

"I did," Raak answered. "Young human lass named: Abagail a talented Mountain Guide the youngest to ever become one at age 15 an Impressive feat considering that we are very strict on who we choose. But Abagail knows the Seret Mountains from the back of her hand and is very handy with a sword. I paid her a tidy sum to keep Dordim close."

Raak reached into pocket taking out a piece of paper. "This is a picture of the woman," he said handing it to Gavin. The Knight frowned his blue eyes darting the picture of Abagail:



"Looks about 17," Gavin muttered. "Short black hair, blue eyes..... shouldn't be too hard to find her." Gavin placed the picture within his golden grieves. "Do you have a map to the Fist of the Dwarves?"

"Of course," Raak snapped his fingers as a servant gave Herr Heike the map. "It's not completed," Raak said. "But what you have is the latest edition my son has exit the eastern gate, it'll directly lead you to the Fist. Find Abagail and save my son."

Gavin got up and bowed slightly. "Consider it done master Dwarf," he said politely.
 
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Heike Eisen

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Herr Lukas shared a glance with Herr Dieter. There might be an Ice Giant, there might not be. Regardless, the son of Lord Raak was missing, and they had best prepare for the worst and hope that it would not come to pass that such a creature was involved. The young heir still had a chance yet; a month was not so long a time, especially if he had traveled far in his search--the delay in word reaching Lord Raak would be considerable. And what a grand coincidence it would be if a runner came to Kal Palthras with a missive from a healthy Dordim for his father just as the knights were heading out, or if they found a bewildered yet perfectly fine Dordim out in the Mountains wondering why his father had sent eleven knights on his heel. Such outcomes would be ideal, for all this to be nothing more than the benign worrying of a concerned father.

Heike accepted the map when it was given to her. Took a moment to look it over before Lord Raak spoke of the best route out of the city and in the direction of the Fist of the Dwarves. So they had at least two people they could seek out to resolve this matter: Dordim, obviously, but also Abagail, if those two had somehow become separated and they should encounter her before him.

The Knights of the Golden Blade stood when Ser Gavin stood. Secured their poleaxes. Herr Lukas said to Lord Raak, "We will carry out this task with all available swiftness, Lord Raak."

And as Herr Lukas led the Knights of the Golden Blade to file out from the Oreriver home, Heike walked alongside Ser Gavin, poleaxe in one hand and the map in the other. She looked to him. Said, "What do you make of this, Ser Gavin? This talk of an...Ice Giant? I myself--and indeed my fellow Knights--have commented on the strangeness of the weather on our approach to Kal Palthras, but we all thought it nothing more than the particular climes of these Mountains."

Heike's look slid away as a new consideration struck her. "While I would have liked to think that Dordim had merely gotten lost, this Abagail...it seems far too unlikely that he would have lost his way with her as a guide."

And, in a lower, heavier voice once they were clear of the Oreriver home, Heike said to Ser Gavin, "Ice Giant or no, I fear that something terrible has happened to him."

Ser Gavin Halbert
 
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Ser Gavin Halbert

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"Agreed Herr Heike," Gavin said as the servant closed the door behind the group. "The Fist of the Dwarves or the Dwarven Fist was the first place the original families: The Kiltors and Karals tried to settle when the expanded. The Karals sculpted a Dwarven fist made out of the large boulder that sat upon the hill marking the occasion. However the path after fist was made difficult due to what master Raak said: Monsters and the bad terrain. At least that's what I've been informed by the bartender during my stay at the Goat's Delight."

It was likely that Dordin did die in the attempt even if they have an talented Mountain Guide and the best guards coin can buy who knew what lay beyond the Fist of the Dwarves. Gavin was almost expecting to find a pile of corpses, but he was hopeful that Dordin and his group are alive and still out there. "I expect we'll find Abagail," Gavin said. "If the worst happens she would most likely survived."

The group exited the noble city with Gavin reaching behind his coat to hold the pommel of his sword. It was a golden Lion sculpted on it. An Ice Giant indeed Gavin had heard the legends surrounding these extinct creatures. How at the Giant's peak, the Ice Giants had Kingdoms made from glaciers and ruled north of the Ra Gnanmh Sea. It wasn't until their fall to the Monster Hunters during the Ousting of the Giants that they've retreated either deep into mountains or even froze themselves into the sea. But that was according to myth.

As the group reached the top, Gavin stared at the Herr Heike and the Golden Blade a look of determination etched on his face. "Aye," he said. "We're to set out to territory that's to even the Dwarves of Kal Palthras. If you any supplies now is the time to get them."

He had a feeling that Ice Giant or no, he wasn't going to like what was beyond the Fist of the Dwarves.
 
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Heike Eisen

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I expect we'll find Abagail.

"Yes," said Heike. "Perhaps so."

It didn't bode well for Dordim. Even without the threat of monsters lurking about the Fist of the Dwarves, there was still--as Ser Gavin pointed out--the bad terrain as well. Any number of things involving the weather, the land, wild animals maybe, could have caused a catastrophic separation of Dordim's party. Monsters, misfortunes, it could only be hoped that neither ill had befallen them, and that Dordim was in fact simply tardy in sending word back to his father in Kal Palthras.

If Abagail lived, then they might at least have someone to tell the tale of what happened.

* * * * *​

Once leaving the Noble City, Ser Gavin suggested acquiring supplies. And to this Herr Lukas nodded. Glanced back to Herr Dieter, and then said to Ser Gavin, "We've all our traveling supplies left in our lodging at a nearby inn. We'll return shortly."

Heike, as well as the other Knights of the Golden Blade, left for about twenty minutes. Returned, then, with their knapsacks on their armored backs.

"All of those marches serving you well now, wouldn't you say?" Herr Dieter said to Heike on the way back.

She walked with a confidence in her stride, even as she was weighed down with her armor and her weapon and now her knapsack. And she replied with a genial smile, "It took some time for my body to catch up to my spirit."

"The same could be said for all us. On that I'm sure Herr Elias would agree."

The Knights of the Golden Blade reassembled by Gavin. Prepared now for the travel across terrain that promised to be treacherous enough to preclude the use of their horses. Prepared to begin the search for the lost heir of the Oreriver family.

Heike stepped forward, map in one hand and her poleaxe balanced against her shoulder in the other, and she said to Ser Gavin, "Shall we?"

Ser Gavin Halbert
 
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Ser Gavin Halbert

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A cold wind bristled against the Gavin's skin while he held his coat close to him. His armor provided some insulation thanks to Kallirrhoe Aedus enchantments. She wanted to add some mundane things to make sure that his armor not only protected Gavin but also helped him in more convenient ways. Herr Heike and the rest of the Golden Blades arrived with their supplies in tact. "Of course Herr Heike," Gavin smiled as he walked towards the eastern gate. While he walked he stared at the young woman and smiled. "So Herr Heike," he asked. "What does a Knight mean to you?"
 
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Heike Eisen

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The Knights of the Golden Blade marched loosely in two columns, the heads of their poleaxes each bobbing with the steady rhythm of their strides.

Ser Gavin asked a question of Heike, and she turned her head to regard him as they walked, a slight rise to her eyebrows in a receptive manner.

She spared a moment to think. Then said, "A knight is the pinnacle of what it is to be a Reikhurstan. An embodiment of Reikhurstan virtue, an inspiration for the people that he or she serves through sworn loyalty to the rightfully elected King. We are they who have bound ourselves to our Oaths, who accord ourselves to the highest standards in keeping with these Oaths. Where the Reikhurstan Guard is the body of the title 'Citizen and Warrior,' we are its beating heart."

Heike's pauldrons lifted as the shoulders beneath rose up, her chest expanding with an inhale. A slow exhale through her nose as she smiled in return.

"Though I cannot speak for all knights and Orders across Arethil, nor the thoughts of the people of those lands these knights and their Orders call home, this is what my knighthood means to me. How the Order of the Golden Blade is to the citizenry of Reikhurst as well."

Ser Gavin Halbert
 
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Ser Gavin Halbert

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Gavin listened to Herr Heike's definition of what it means to be a Knight. Throughout his travels Gavin met other knights many trained from childhood and some earned based on their merits or how much of a bloodthirsty killer they were. They all came from all walks of life though the majority were nobles since they can afford the expenses of being a Knight such as maintaining armor and weaponry. If there was one thing that Gavin learned was that the Knights he conversed with had different views of what chilvary was and that many didn't give it too much thought.

"Aye a Knight exemplifies the best of their Kingdom," Gavin said as they walked past the shivering inhabitants in the marketplace. "Remember that your actions reflect on image of your Kingdom. If a person sees you as a raving, murderous madwoman with no self-control then their perception of Reikhurst will lessen. The common folk see soldiers as nothing more than looters, rapists and thugs and to they are correct to some degree. But know that a soldier follows orders but a Knight what's right."

The Lion of Oban adjusted his coat. "The honorable path will be marked with dilemmas," he said. "And some will put you at odds with your countrymen. Aye it happened to me more than I dare admit young Heike but there is always a question that plagued Knights: To be lawful or good? We are giving so many oaths to swear and they always contradict each other. But there are moral laws transcends all of the laws made by man: The belief that all men and women despite the odds are worth fighting for, the gift of forgiveness, love and friendship. Sometimes in order to do what's right for the innocent you must break some oaths."

It was something that Gavin struggled over the years and breaking an oath was like removing your own limb but if it helps the innocent if it protects people from wrong doing then so be it. Gavin already broke an oath when he killed his fellow soldiers from Kallirrhoe Aedus all those years ago. The group arrived at the Eastern gate, the door was sealed shut and two Dwarven guards gladded in golden armor gave a curt nod at the group.

"You're the Knights rescuing Lord Oreriver's son?" One of the Dwarves asked. "You're given permission to enter but be careful. The Mountain Guides informed us that there was a massive blizzard lately."

"Noted," Gavin said as the gate opened revealing a gust of icy wind. There was a narrow path which lead one way and Gavin stared at the Golden Blades. "Let us depart then," he said.
 
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Heike Eisen

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A raving, murderous madwoman. Such a thing sounded like the tales of the bear-warriors (whatever it was that they were truly called) from the far north in Eretejva.

And just what was the matter with Oban, then? If either the common folk saw their soldiers as all of those terrible things, or if their soldiers were all of those terrible things, then one was perhaps misguided or the other horrifically undisciplined savages. Heike assumed that Ser Gavin was speaking of his home when he spoke of that, for it was certain that citizenry of Reikhurst did not view its Guard in such a manner, nor were the Guard permitted to act as such--the gallows awaited the man or woman who did, their executions widely public for all to see.

This seemed confirmed when Ser Gavin went on to speak of how he was put at odds with his own countrymen. By the Reik crown, he made it sound like Oban was some kind of cesspool. Perhaps it was not his intent, but the inference was powerful and unavoidable. Lawful or good? To Heike's ears that made no sense. How could that even be? How poorly written or prescribed were the laws of Oban? Heike knew from her studies that Reikhurst was different than most other city-states and duchies and kingdoms, but--

Sometimes in order to do what's right for the innocent you must break some oaths.

And now this was perplexing. An oath that put a knight in such a situation was without a doubt an oath not worth swearing at all, and such a thing ought to have been evident to any sensible man or woman. And to be made to swear so many contradictory oaths? How truly lost was Oban? Heike actually felt a wave of pity for Ser Gavin: how cruel and difficult it must be to live justly and conduct oneself with noble intent in a place swamped in apparent corruption. Perhaps Reikhurst would be much the same if a man as great and humble as Edwin Reik had not been its First King.

Heike shook her head at Ser Gavin's last statement.

"I shall never suffer the shame of living as an Oathbreaker, Ser Gavin," she said. "I would sooner face execution, for I have not sworn my Trinity of Oaths lightly."

They arrived at the Eastern gate of Kal Palthras, and were informed by one of the guardsman dwarves there about the conditions they could expect to face.

"Lovely," said Herr Lukas. He was known for being quite dry at times, and this was no exception.

Heike started out--immediately greeted by the stabbing frigidity of the wind--and the rest of the Knights of the Golden Blade followed. There was a question on her mind that she did not want to ask Ser Gavin. A question whose answer had been implied by what he had said. Implied, yes, but not outright stated. And Heike was keen to simply leave it that. She did not know all of the terrible conditions of being a knight in a place like Oban, of being a good man in a place like Oban, and did not want to judge. Yet some truths, once known, persisted in the face of their surrounding circumstances.

Ser Gavin Halbert
 
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Ser Gavin Halbert

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Gavin gave a small sigh perhaps he shouldn't told Herr Heike that so soon but it was the truth no matter how harsh it may be. Many young Knights including Gavin thought it would be easy to hold oaths when they were first knighted. Unfortunately barely two years into being a Knight did Gavin found that how difficult it was balancing being honorable and show loyalty especially to your country. "It is something that all Knights will face eventually young Heike," Gavin said while they began to traverse the narrow, rocky road he can heard the giant door close behind him with a loud thump. The noise echoing throughout, a sense of dread filled Gavin's stomach. The noise created by the door sounded ominous but he was one not to give into despair.

"We do not what tomorrow will bring us," Gavin said to Heike avoiding the jagged rocks that protruded from the road. "Aye perhaps it was foolish of me to say to break oaths. I should've said what you can control is whether or not you can become a true knight. For a true Knight sticks to their morals and does what is right."

Four years ago Gavin was declared a True Knight, a person who never forgot his vows and is a champion for the people of Daldaria. Gavin took the title with pride but not forgetting the decisions he made along the way. There distinction between a Knight and a common killer can be razor thin at times and Gavin was sorely tempted just to let his sword do the talking.

The group arrived at the Fist of the Dwarves, the fist itself was much bigger than what Gavin was expecting. It towered over them birds flying above and sitting on the fist staring below. "The Fist is much bigger than anticipated," Gavin said holding his cloak closer. "It's also getting even colder."

 
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