Fable - Ask The Path of Purity

A roleplay which may be open to join but you must ask the creator first

Alaric

Pariah Templar
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Almost as if compelled by something the Golem suddenly twisted and tried it's best to swat away the instect that had climbed upon it's shoulder.

The way that it now moved was not so slow, not so lumbering as before. It was as if a swiftness had been injected into the cold rock, it's hand lashing out and trying to grab at Heike as fast as it possible could. The other hand that Lexi had stopped seemed to struggle, shifting forward.

Then the entire Golem simply fell.

It was not defeated, far from it. The tactic likely would have seemed silly to most, but when what did one do if they did not have a the force of strength to crush something? They added more weight. The Golem simply flopped down, attempting to Crush Lexi entirely.

Alaric himself was still somewhat in a daze, peeling himself off the ground and pulling himself together as he watched the golem fall.

No emotion spiked from it, not even a hint of joy at the thought the Witch might die.

Instead he dashed forward, running as fast as he could towards the fight.
 

Lexi Quinzell

Commander of the White Ravens
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Lexi was strong. Abnormally strong. That was the price for having a deity bound to her very soul - a spell that by all rights should have killed her five years ago when she first cast it. However, even the Gods had limits and being crushed by a golem whilst in a human form was one of them. There was a slight flicker of light around her form and then she truly did disappear under the weight of the golem.

The White Ravens had completely abandoned the post now the vampire had entered the fray and rushed forward. Kain had been watching closely how his Commander and the Pariah had been picking off the others and with a muttered series of words he jumped onto the fallen creatures back and sent his blade, which was coated in an odd ethereal blue flame, straight through the creatures neck.
 

Heike Eisen

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With one hand occupied by Alexandria, Heike need only worry about retaliation from one specific limb in one direction. And she kept her eyes on it. Watched it. There. Hell's fury, this golem was far faster than the others!

Heike let go of the construct's head and jumped off, a diagonally leap down towards the ground from the golem's back. The tatters of her coat slipped against the stone fingers of the construct and a patch at the tail end was ripped off and remained into the closed fist.

Heike hit the ground in a rough roll that would have done no favors for her had her bones not been hardened by her affliction. She came up out of the roll on a knee and looked back, and the golem had fallen. What happened? Did she do something? Did it hit itself trying to grab her, akin to what happened with the second construct?

She could not see what happened to Alexandria, but she could see Alaric rushing back into the fight, and as well the White Ravens joining in. Heike rose to her feet as Kain's flame-wreathed sword plunged into the golem's neck.

Alaric Lexi Quinzell
 
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Alaric

Pariah Templar
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As Alaric reached half a dozen paces from the Golem one of the other templar bounded atop the massive stone figures back and stabbed his blade through it's neck.

Almost immediately the Pariah came to a stop, still holding the oddly humming knife as his boots skittered in the ground and his eyes set upon the figure. Lips thinned for a brief moment, but now a single hint of emotion showed upon his face.

The Witches death was neither regrettable, nor necessarily something to celebrate.

Briefly he wondered if he would have to report this to someone, though he doubted that even his Grandmaster would care all that much. The Chapters were so separate and peeled apart that the enmity did not even matter all that much.

Alaric walked up towards the scene. "We should keep moving."

The Pariah said, devoid of any sympathy.

"There are likely more traps." Alaric stated simply.
 

Lexi Quinzell

Commander of the White Ravens
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"Look here you little shit," Kain was still scrambling his way off the golem as one of his men grabbed a hold of Aleric and snarled in his face. "We are not leaving until we find her," the others nodded in agreement with their hands resting over the hilts of their blades in an unfriendly manner.

Kain hadn't even bothered to stop them he was intent on the rubble. With glowing hands he moved bits of rock left and right over the spot Lexi had disappeared. After a few minutes he gave a shout.

Lexi dragged herself from the rubble absolutely covered in dirt, coughing and splattering.

"God damn fucking Watchmen."
 

Heike Eisen

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Heike approached the site of the fallen final golem, reconvening with Alaric and the White Ravens. And she paused right as soon as one of the Ravens snarled and swore at Alaric, who seemed certain that Alexandria was dead and gone. The last thing Heike wanted to do was interject herself, to further rile up the Templar of one Chapter against the sole Templar of another. Her silence and stillness by the fallen golem might be seen as choosing a side, but it seemed reasonable to spare a few moments for the Ravens to either confirm a fallen comrade or to pull Alexandria's miraculously survived body from the rumble.

And they did not need to wait long. Alexandria instead pulled herself from the lithic remains of the golem, announcing her presence with her own string of profanity. Heike let out a small sigh of relief, expelling air that her lungs did not crave nor need. It was good that none among them had been seriously injured or killed--such a thing would weigh mightily on Heike's conscience.

She looked to Alaric. Said, "Seems the Watchmen then are more cautious--or perhaps paranoid--than I had thought. Have you...visited the Sanctum before, Alaric? Was it always like this?"

Alaric Lexi Quinzell
 

Alaric

Pariah Templar
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Alaric reached down and grabbed the man's wrists, his thumbs pressing on the underside and suddenly twisting with a solid wrench.

He did not have the same strength as Lexi, not by far, but he had more than the average man. The surgery and treatment the Pariah underwent rendered them as nulls, but it also rendered them as far from human. Increased muscle density was part of that. Something the White Raven Templar learned as Alaric brought him down to his knees.

"Don't touch me." Alaric stated in that cold, neutral tone.

Before any of his fellows could come to the man's rescue Alaric released him. Deciding that it was best not to begin a brawl. Especially because just as the man's rage was subdued his commander began to crawl out from within her would be tomb.

Alaric stared for a moment, then regarded the Vampire. "I have not visited it."

He told her.

"But they have always been paranoid." The Pariah said with a frown. "The Templar Wars took a toll on many, the Watchmen included."

Not to mention his own.
 

Lexi Quinzell

Commander of the White Ravens
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The spell Lexi had managed to throw around herself, a thin barrier that clung to her skin and gave it an odd yellow glow, disappeared as Kain seized her forearm and wrenched her out of the rubble. The Commander coughed the dust from her lung and her second gave her a helpful few slaps on her back which nearly sent her sliding down the mountain of Earth she was stood on top of.

Her eye only once went to her men whose anger had been stoked by the Pariah. The others may not have noticed the warning tinge of them reaching for magic but their Commander could sense each of their unique signatures. They gave their Commander one look then dropped any and all idea of starting a fight.

"I think she's already picked up on the whole we don't like each other thing, ain't ya lass?" she raised a brow at the vampire then jutted a thumb over her shoulder. "C'mon let's keep going. Nearly being crushed to death is no excuse."
 
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Heike Eisen

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Their comments coincided quite well with one another. Alaric and Alexandria both highlighted the general tension between Templar Chapters--it was one thing to learn of it through education in Arethil's history, but another to see it played out right before one's own eyes. To Heike it was a great tragedy, that former brothers and sisters-in-arms should trust each other only slightly more than their sworn--and more often than not common--enemies. But there was no going back now, was there? All of the Templar Chapters, once part of a greater whole centuries ago, had in common little more than a shared name. A grand statue, now crumbled into hundreds of little pieces, each on its own closer and more vulnerable to being turned to dust and finally lost to time.

Much like the Watchmen, who seemed far closer to this than the White Ravens or the Pariah.

To Lexi with regard to her comment, but to Alaric as well, Heike said, "I hope merely that this dislike and distrust does not cause the Watchmen to turn their blades upon you."

Upon you. Not us. You. Heike knew well the sort of reception she could expect, should there be any Watchmen left other than these autonomous constructs.

C'mon let's keep going.

They would be seen, these things which concerned and troubled her mind so.

* * * * *​

Some one hundred to two hundred meters distant, beyond the slight crest of a vegetated hill they stood upon, the Sanctum of the Night Watchmen peeked through the dense forest of the Reach's southern peninsula. Even at this distance it stood in stark relief, a blocky building of beige stone that seemed as though sand from the shore of a beach had been transplanted into the green forest. It was not overgrown--in fact, no plants grew on or in close proximity to the Sanctum. The land in the vicinty looked maintained.

The discreet path that Heike and the Templar stood upon led in a winding way to the giant, circular stone door of the Sanctum. Small in the distance, yes, but if Lexi stood on Heike's shoulders and Heike then on Alaric's shoulders, they'd be roughly equal to the massive door in height.

Heike took a moment to listen, canting her head this way and that. There were no birds, no sounds of animals or movement, even the wind itself stopped in near entirety. There was an eerie kind of quiet more in keeping with a cemetary than a forest, now that they were so close to the Sanctum.

"I don't see anyone," Heike said, her voice low and close to a whisper. "No guards, sentries--heh--or watchmen, I suppose. Though perhaps they prefer laying out more traps over entertaining parley and pleasantries."

Even if that was the case, they still needed to cross the gap and get to that door.

Alaric Lexi Quinzell
 

Alaric

Pariah Templar
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Alaric looked over to Heike with a deadpan expression as she made her small joke, his lips never even quirking in the slightest smile.

He had never much cared for jokes even before his induction.

"Or they are dead." The Pariah said simply as he stepped out in front of the group and slowly began to look around. His lips thinned for a brief moment as he peered across the gap and the massive door.

Were there more traps? It was always a possibility, but those of a magical kind did not really bother him. He glanced back towards the group for a moment, then shrugged his shoulders. "I will go first."

He told them.

"Follow me, carefully." Though he was not entirely sure that would help.

As Alaric began to move he half expected a giant to pull itself free from the ground. Thought perhaps a monster would appear, yet as he stepped forward...nothing came. All that greeted him was a brush of wind across the land.
 

Lexi Quinzell

Commander of the White Ravens
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Lexi at least laughed and clapped the vampire heartily on the shoulder. During the walk she had taken the somehow miraculously unbroken pipe out of her robes and lit it up. Considering she had nearly been crushed to death she thought she deserved it to calm her fraying nerves and unless either of the others knew the scents of specific magical plants they would think it merely a filthy habit. Her second, Kain, kept glancing at her in a worried fashion every now and then though. It was hardly surprising given she looked as though she had just been dug out of a mudslide.

Near death be damned it hadn't damped her spirits much. Clearly.

"What's the first thing you want to do when you become human then, kid?" the Commander asked around her pipe as she followed the other Templar. Despite her casual topic of conversation her eye was carefully assessing everything around her flittering hither and tither between that shadow or that glint of light. Her hand rested easy on the hilt of her blade to draw it at a seconds bit of notice.
 
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Heike Eisen

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Or they are dead.

"They might well be," Heike said. It could be either way, judging solely off of the scant texts and information she had read. Or, even if they were not all dead, what few remained might be away from the Sanctum fulfilling their duties as Templar. It would soon be seen regardless.

Alaric volunteered to go first. Heike nodded. Followed behind him and kept her head canted downward, the hood of her coat keeping the dangerous rays of the sun from her. Lexi--who had enjoyed quite the laugh from Heike's earlier observation--walked with her White Ravens and had lit up her pipe. And here was something that Heike would not miss: the enhanced sense of smell from her affliction. More often than not it was either confusing and beyond her life's experience, she like a woman who'd never seen color before suddenly being bombarded by the entire scope of the rainbow, or it was vastly unpleasant--excrement and decay apparently left trails of scent far longer than normal humans could detect, which was absolutely fine by Heike. Lexi's pipe fit into the first category: she probably would have been able to smell it without the enhanced sense, but not nearly as powerfully as she could and did now.

Lexi asked her a question. Heike, mindful of the sun, glanced back. Kid? Heike's immediate, initial reaction to that was vexation. Why, Heike thought Alexandria and her more or less appeared the same age! And this wasn't the first time she'd patronized others either; she had said the same to Alaric as well. What the hell was the matter with her? Then Heike pondered it further. Maybe Alexandria truly wasn't human, or at least was not anymore on account of whatever had bestowed inhuman power upon her. Maybe she was something akin to an elf now because of it, and was much older than she appeared. Or maybe the corrupting siren's call of magic and power--rightly held in suspicion by Alaric and Heike both--was surreptitiously instilling a sense of superiority in Alexandria over those who were not like her. Or, simplest answer, Alexandria was just an abrasive person.

Either way, Heike, with regard to this endeavor, was a beggar, not a chooser. And she was lucky to have encountered not one but two (several more in fact, with the inclusion of the White Ravens following their commander) Templar who actually held a willingness to help her.

Alexandria did say something that Heike found encouraging, however.

"When. I appreciate the optimism, Alexandria." She needn't think on her answer, for she already knew it well before this journey had even begun. "I will don a suit of armor and acquire a weapon befitting my station and my purpose, for my duty to Reikhurst will have only just begun."

And they walked across the clearing toward to the Sanctum.

* * * * *​

Ian Rengheist sat atop the roof of the Sanctum, just behind the top curvature of the Door's archway. He saw the group of unknowns approaching. Saw them after a casual glance around the curvature. A stern grumble shook his throat, but he did not stand up. Not yet. Still he sat with his back to the curvature of the archway, legs splayed out, simply enjoying the fresh air and the lovely day. One of his last.

It had been a long time since unknowns approached the Sanctum of the Night Watchmen. And Ian would know.

He was a older man--uncommon for the Watchmen. His beard was long and dwarf-like, the top of his head bald with a laurel of gray hair around the sides. His armor was venerable, having been passed down to him from his Initiator. And this armor had seen many acts of service over Ian's term as a Watchman.

Like the Pandemonium Crisis. Such was the last "major" act of service to Arethil performed by the Night Watchmen Chapter, and it was a perfect encapsulation of the Chapter's sworn mission. The Watchmen fought the most insidious foes that threatened Arethil: the twisted, the corrupt, the dark and unspeakable. Things whose very gaze or touch was sinister, things which beguiled or enthralled or drove mad the common man, things whose very presence despoiled everything around them. Spawn of the Dark Ones, mages delving into dark magic, monsters that even the Monster Hunters--pragmatic lot that they often were--decided against hunting, and for good reason. The foes that the Watchmen guarded against, merely to be in their proximity was to put oneself at great hazard.

So the Watchmen were all charged to endure the Path of Purity. To become incorruptible. Immune to that which would violate the fundamental integrity of the body, mind, and soul. It was a powerful thing to make oneself invulnerable to the disease, mutation, madness, or other such corruptions that their foes wielded, but it came with a great cost. That cost being one's very life.

Once so altered by walking the Path of Purity, one had but nine years left to live upon Arethil.

It was incredibly difficult to find those willing to make such a sacrifice, especially at the necessarily young age it required one to be. Ian himself first thought that, at the age of thirty-six, that he might be too old. But he was not--he had many more years of natural life to give for the Path's boon, and thus he had.

Now, nine years later at the age of forty-five, he knew the day of his death was approaching. He had less than a month now. And through all of his time, through his years of Uninitiated service and his glorious nine of Initiated service, he had seen much. It was the twilight of his life, and also--with sorrow--the twilight of the Night Watchmen.

And now in his final days he saw these unknowns approaching the Sanctum. Enemies, friends, he cared not. He cared only that they had seen fit for whatever reason to journey to Sanctum. The Chapter was on the wane, but, perhaps before his term was done, Ian would seen a last glimmer of its relevance to the world.

"Visitors," he said to his fellow Watchmen.

At last he stood. Still hidden behind the curvature of the archway. They would reveal themselves when their visitors had gotten closer to the door.

Alaric Lexi Quinzell
 

Alaric

Pariah Templar
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Alaric walked upon the path with all the peace of a dead man. He did not seem to watch for traps or tricks, but simply walked.

Whether it was faith or foolishness, the confidence was rewarded.

Slowly the party drew across the walk-way, and slowly the Keep began to draw closer and closer. There was a serenity to the place, a calmness that seemed to hang over it. Anyone else might have found peace here, might have thought it an escape, but to Alaric it was just another place.

Briefly the young Templar wondered if the Vampire would feel a calm when she drew closer, or if nerves would set in. Did her kind even have nerves? Could they feel such things?

He did not know.

As they walked his steps slowed for a second, fingers folding around the hilt of the strange blade carried on the small of his back. Lips thinned for a moment, and he spoke quietly. "There is movement."

The Templar said, having caught a wisp of movement.

It was not Ian Rengheist that Alaric saw though, no. It was Lilien Albricht, standing atop the keep and clutching her bow. Her figure was shrouded in a hood, dark eyes glaring down at the strange party as they approached.
 

Lexi Quinzell

Commander of the White Ravens
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Heike's words chased Lexi into the deeper recesses of her mind to thoughts she had not dwelled upon for some time. Like the reason why she had wanted to be a Raven so badly. For in the vampire's voice - her determination, her strength and dedication to this cause of hers - reminded her of her own at 16 when she had been on the cusp of graduating. After all, not all White Raven children decided to take the White. Her own brother Damien had chosen to leave as soon as he could and was now fulfilling a life long love of being a Gryphon Knight. But Alexandria Quinzell had wanted to be a White Raven, had dreamed of those robes, since she was little.

Many thought it was because of her parents. The Quinzells were a known name - both Christopher and Taliah had risen steadily in the ranks from young ages too. They were unusual in that they chose to fight side by side even as a married couple but nobody questioned it with results like theirs. but people who assumed that were wrong. Lexi had wanted to join because of how much she believed in what the White Raven's did. In a way they were like the Watchmen. Their mission was to fight things the stuff of myths and legends. Their knowledge was almost obscenely niche - spirits, dying deities, beings that were woven so intrinsically into the fabric of the world that they needed to be handled with the upmost care.

For Lexi it had always been a noble calling. She had given a part of her very soul to ensure those things did not tear the world apart.

It was that which she was thinking of when Alaric called that there was movement and her eye finally drew up to the keep which loomed before them. She could hear the men behind her rustling as they too gripped their blades but Lexi held out a hand to stay their drawing of the weapons.

"We're not here for a fight. We're here to make a request," her eye flickered to Heike. "It is your request, you should knock."
 

Heike Eisen

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The Sanctum drew closer with each step, the large circular door looming.

Heike would be lying if she were to say that she did not feel exposed, imperiled in some vague way that she could not place, walking through the clearing with its maintained expanse of grass. For all was quiet--even Alexandria had fallen into it after Heike's reply to her inquiry. They had encountered the constructs, which between Alaric and Alexandria they possessed the right skillset to defeat, but how else did the Watchmen protect their Sanctum?

There is movement.

Heike glanced to Alaric. Followed the track of his eyes up. Saw the hooded figure with a bow. And then someone else. An older man, balding with a beard, stepping out from behind the curvature of the door's archway.

"Halt. Who goes there?" the man called down from atop the Sanctum.

Lexi, as it was decided, spoke first. And then turned it over to Heike. Yes, she was right. She had had the first word, but it was Heike--under the watchful eye and guidance of the Templar whose company she was in--who sought out the Night Watchmen, and from her tongue the request should be made.

Heike gave a small nod of affirmation to Lexi. Took a few steps forward to be beside Alaric at the front. The sun to her back, she could lift her head without fear to regard the older man and the bow-wielder atop the roof of the Sanctum. She drew in a breath and let it out--an act which assuaged her trepidation, yet one her undead body did not need. Though perhaps...maybe...just maybe...that could change. That could change.

Today.

"I am Herr Heike Eisen, Knight-Valiant of Reikhurst," she called back. In accordance with her Oath of Truth, despite not even being asked, she revealed her claws and held them aloft and said, "I am a vampire, and I wish to walk the Path of Purity."

The man atop the Sanctum said nothing. Nothing for a while. He glanced briefly off to his side, behind the curving archway of the door where there were perhaps others unseen. Then he looked back down to Heike, Alaric, Alexandria, and the White Ravens.

And stepped over the edge of the Sanctum. A brisk fall and then his armored feet touched the ground, his knees having bent slightly on impact but otherwise he grimaced or winced or reacted not.

Ian placed a hand on the hilt of his arming sword. Looked to Alaric. Said, "The White Ravens Chapter we are familiar with. But not yours. From what Chapter are you, if I am not mistaken that you are indeed a Templar." Here his brow narrowed with suspicion. "And why do you suffer a vampire to exist within your presence?"

Alaric Lexi Quinzell
 

Alaric

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For a brief second a hint of obstinate kicked in.

The Pariah were a smaller chapter, smaller than the White Ravens and certainly smaller than the Broken Sword who now lead the Great Templar Alliance. They wore no real markings that set them apart, save for the odd stoicness that clung to them above everything else.

Alaric's armor might as well have been as plain as day.

His fingers tightened for a moment, looking at the other man with that same expressionless face that he offered everyone else. "I am Pariah."

He offered simply.

There was doubt that the answer would be a welcome one. The Watchmen and Pariah shared an ancestry of sort, but their methods were utterly antithetical.

"I suffer the creature because it suits me." Alaric answered simply, offering no further explanation. "She believes you can cure her of her great sin."

It was a question without a question.
 
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Lexi Quinzell

Commander of the White Ravens
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Lexi continued her more relaxed approach to meeting the Watchmen. Perhaps it was the fact that even though the Templars were a disorganised group, Commanders in particular were still given a modicum of respect by other orders members. Even if they disagreed with one another on how to fight the various evils of this world they all held themselves to a high standard and it took a certain level of skill for a person to obtain the mantle of leadership. Lexi herself might not have liked those of her fellows who bore the ring but she respected them to a degree.

Or perhaps she was just very good at hiding her agitation. Her eye roved over the battlements noting more and more Watchmen appearing to take a look at the newcomers, no doubt with weapons ready in case it led to a fight. It was how her soldiers would have reacted, though Evora was a little unique in that it was open for all orders. As the keepers of the Templars information it was their duty to protect it but also to allow anyone who so wished to look within the archives to access it.

It was a rule Lexi despised but honoured.

Her eye followed the man who dropped down before them to meet and inclined her head politely when he mentioned her order. The Pariah's answer warranted a frown and a thinning of her lips but she offered nothing else; the question had not been directed at her.

"Is it something you can do? Our knowledge does not stretch to more than rumours buried with the dead."
 
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Heike Eisen

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"Pariah," Ian said with a tone of amused derision. "Fitting. Since it seems you attend more to your own indulgent pursuits than to the good of Arethil. How often do you consort with your foes, hmm?"

Ian's eyes slid over to Lexi once she spoke again. And he gave the slighest nod of deference to her station. "Commander Quinzell, it is indeed something that we can do." Then Ian drew his arming sword and pointed it at Heike. "If the vampire would care to step forward and receive our cure."

Heike, seeing the parley slip in a dangerous direction while other Watchmen revealed themselves and took position atop the Sanctum, spoke up once more. Said, "I beseech you and the Chapter of the Night Watchmen with all sincerity! Allow me to walk the Path of Purity, for I wish to be rid of this foul affliction which makes me kin to the monsters who destroyed my home and my kingdom! Please, I beg of you!"

Ian flatly ignored her, as if she and her words were beneath all consideration. He kept his attention focused on Lexi. Said to her, "What are you and your White Ravens playing at? We Watchmen do not poke and prod at our prey, and surely you've the means to learn whatever it is you presumably seek to discover from this vampire at Evora, so why come here? Unless..." Ian smirked faintly, "...your ploy is to add our secrets to your library."

Alaric Lexi Quinzell
 
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Alaric

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"As often as I need." Alaric simply replied.

It was clear that the Watchmen would not speak to the Monstress, the Vampire's pleas finding nothing but silence. For a moment the Pariah considered speaking up himself, but instead he simply looked towards the Commander of the White Ravens.

What would she say?

As the small group waited, Lilien looked down upon them. She was one of only three left, eyes glancing down, hand tight on the haft of her bow. An arrow was already knocked within the weapon, lips thinned as she peered towards those that had come.

Distaste colored her tongue. She did not know these strangers, and in truth she did not care to. It seemed that Ian spoke with each of them in turn, but Lilien could not help the animosity that had settled within her stomach.

She did not trust them.

Slowly Lilien moved around to another of the parapet, shifting so she had a great view.
 

Lexi Quinzell

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Lexi's smile was a slow and sly thing as the man asked his question and she shifted her weight to one leg, hands sweeping out, open, in the mockery of innocence. Unlike other commanders she had never learnt the subtlety of politics and preferred straight forward talking. Which is what she delivered now.

"Would you like the lie or the truth?" Her eyebrow raised and that lazy smile remained before she shrugged. "Of course I want to know, I wouldn't be a Raven if I didn't. But no, Evora does not possess firm facts and we do not ... experiment," she grimaced at the very thought of it. "We have seen too often what happens when the foolish meddle with rumour and myth. My arrogance is not so extreme I would not heed my chapters own warnings and not ask for the help of those with better knowledge," it was probably the most sincere Lexi had been in her entire time with the others.

Kain watched whilst his leader played the game, his eyes moving over the woman with a bow to the bored looking man who leant against the wall with his arms folded over his chest. Men who looked that at ease when strangers were at his door always made the Second uncomfortable. It suggested he knew this game better than any of them did.
 

Heike Eisen

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Ian scoffed at the Pariah's answer. This man who represented them did little for the spurned Chapter's reputation.

To Lexi, Ian said, "I appreciate the honesty and the..." A disdainful glance toward Alaric, "...substantive nature of your answer. And I restate my own answer to your inquiry. We Watchmen do indeed possess the cure for this creature's great sin." He flicked the point of his arming sword upward twice for emphasis. "Here. Yet such a cure is hardly unique to us."

"There are many more vampires to be put to the sword than solely myself!" Heike called to the Templar, her tone growing more urgent. "Have you not heard of Reikhurst, and the tragedy that has befall--"

"No, I have not," Ian said--flatly--to her, cutting her off mid-word.

And this gave Heike no small amount of pause, disrupting in that moment the entirety of the momentum she was building--or attempting to build--with her plea. Her mouth moved and an unintelligible sound, a half-formed and misshapen word, escaped, and it was the best she could do while so taken aback. Her whole world revolved around Reikhurst and its sacking in the year 364; for someone to say they knew nothing of it--whether he spoke in truth or not--was a thing near inconceivable to Heike.

She regained slowly some measure of traction, and finished saying what she intended to say to Ian, "Yet...it remains that a large and formidable host of vampires dwells there." A steeling of her voice, her words. "And I would be shed of this affliction forced upon me by them, for I cannot properly fulfill my sworn duty until this is done!"

Ian, as before and with the exception of the four words he deigned to say, did not reply to her. He did, however, lower his outstretched arming sword. Lower, but not sheathe. He looked to Alaric. To Lexi. To the White Ravens.

He was a Templar of the Night Watchmen Chapter, and he would not be derelict in his duty--the vampire would not leave this place. But neither was he completely heartless. While he could not yet rule out that these Templar of the White Ravens or the Pariah had been beguiled or deceived, perhaps it was that this vampire they brought to the Sanctum's doorstep was known to them. Kin of someone present, kin of a close family member, kin of a friend of the Ravens or Pariah, what have you. The scourge of vampirism was most insidious in this manner, leaving the relatives and loved ones of the afflicted distraught, grief-stricken, shattered by tragedy. It was a terrible, terrible thing to carry out the duty of a Watchman while a screaming mother begged and begged for her former child to be spared, or a husband to lash out while his former wife threatened both him and fellow Watchmen and Arethil at large. These were the sorts of difficult occurrences wrought by this scourge. Vampirism, in a sense, damaged not just they who were afflicted by it, but all the lives around them. This Ian knew.

"Why do you trust this vampire?"

A simple question, asked in general to Alaric and Lexi and the White Ravens all. Their answers, or lack thereof, would reveal much. And if they were lacking...Lilien's aim was second to none, and Ian's sword arm still had twenty days of service left to give.

Alaric Lexi Quinzell
 
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Alaric

Pariah Templar
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The Pariah thought for a second, looking over to Heike. A small part of him, a very small part that still had some shred of the humanity he had shed to become what he was, felt for her. She had been human once, even if she was a monster now.

He wondered briefly how he would take such a thing. As far as he knew he was immune to the effects of both Lycanthropy and Vampirism, a side-effect of the treatment he had undergone to become a Pariah. Yet he could imagine the pain of it, the thought of the Hunger she must have felt. No real emotions played through his heart, yet some part of him knew the right thing to do.

"I trust her for the same reason I trust a man who is drowning." Alaric said simply.

His shoulders raised in a shrug.

"She is a monster, a creature of the night, but with a chance perhaps to save herself and become human once more." He stated simply. "Who am I to stop that? Who am I to let her drown?"

For a moment Alaric fell silent, then he added. "If it turns out a mistake to save her then I will just put her down."

He shrugged his shoulders.

"It'll be easier when she's human." Vampires could be hard to kill.
 

Lexi Quinzell

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"I don't trust her," Lexi replied bluntly. "But I don't trust him either and frankly, I don't trust you too," she patted down her robes for the pipe she had stashed somewhere. Tiredness from their earlier battle was dragging at her and the herbs in her tobacco would help keep her going to see this mission done. Eventually she found it and struck a match to light it. With a deep inhale and then a relieved sigh she continued.

"But I don't need to trust someone in order to think it is right to help them. If that were the case Templars would never get things done," she raised a single brow. "I believe in her conviction and she has demonstrated she has the same spirit of any soldier to fight for a cause she believes in. She was willing to walk in here knowing she could die, could be killed by any Templar here without a thought. I respect that. Shows she has balls."
 

Heike Eisen

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Before she had embarked on this journey, before she had even read the scant lore on the Night Watchmen, Heike would have thought something like this never to be possible: to have two Templar--Templar, of all people--vouching for her. Alaric gave his answer with stark honesty, and while some people might be outright aghast if he had said the same about them, Heike was only more motivated to prove to him and all those present that this show of faith was no mistake. Alexandria gave her answer, straightforward and without reservation. It was affecting, even if the part at the end was brusque and uncouth, it...was apt enough. Heike knew that she herself could be uncouth at times, especially when dealing with foes.

But all this depended upon how the Watchman before them, and the few fellows behind him up on top of the Sanctum, received what was said.

Ian considered their answers. The Pariah and the White Ravens were not the desperate friends or family of the vampire, searching for hope and dangerously predisposed to irrationally protect their afflicted loved one, as he had dreaded. Nor, in Ian's estimation, were they beguiled or deceived as he had feared. Vampires, those given in to their evil, were a vain lot to a fault, and would not have their thralls openly speak ill--however mild--of them. Even Commander Quinzell's modest praise was tempered first by flat distrust. So no, not beguiled or deceived.

How peculiar. They earnestly sought to give this particular creature a chance. In truth, Ian simply did not know if the Path of Purity would rid the vampire of her disease, for it had always been intended as a preventative measure and not a curative one. It had just not been tried before, and for a various number of reasons. Ian, with his final days all visible with a single glance at a calendar, had within him a tiny spark of curiosity. The chance to see something unprecedented before his passing. The chance to see someone walk the Path of Purity again, for there had not been a new recruit to the Chapter in years.

A last glimmer of relevance to the world.

And it was then that Heike called out, catching Ian's attention and saying, "I would speak again if you would so allow. I wish to state my case, such that you might hear it from my own tongue and in full."

Ian said nothing for a moment. Then: "Speak."

Heike drew in a breath. A precious thing--breath and the act of breathing--brimming with the effervescence of life and humanity, a treasure taken for granted. And it was one that may yet become an essential part, a cherished part, of her being if she did not fail here.

"If any of what I say offends you, or displeases you, or rings with insincerity in your ears..." Heike outstretched an arm to her left, "...then may Alaric cut off this hand..." and her other arm to her right, "...and Alexandria this hand, and may you or they finish me, slaying me where I now stand. To your judgment I submit myself. And now, this stated, I will make my final entreaty."

Heike closed her eyes for a moment. Recalled all the mementos she carried. Of a time with family. Of a time with home. Of a time with love.

Of a time before she woke in the ash as a monster.

She opened her eyes. And spoke. "I am Herr Heike Eisen, a Knight of the Golden Blade, this very title bestowed upon me by King Rommel of Reikhurst. I swore my Trinity of Oaths before him, and I come to you now upholding them still. I speak to you in Truth, as I have sworn. I accord myself with Honor, as I have sworn. But in order to carry out the due Justice against the traitor king, Jürgen Kaiser, and his host of vampires, I am in need of aid. Your aid, you of the Chapter of Night Watchmen. For I cannot rally my people, the surviving Reikhurstans of that most terrible night of slaughter and destruction, as a vampire. AND NOR WOULD I! Victory over this vile affliction must come first, for I would see Reikhurst reborn with a beating heart within my chest and blood that is my very own coursing through my veins!"

Growing more impassioned, she continued without pause, "My sworn duty has led me here, to your Sanctum, in search of this victory. And if there exists even the slightest chance that the Path of Purity is the cure that I seek, then I have come to the right place regardless of outcome. If you deem me worthy, then I shall no longer have to chase hope across the span of Arethil. If you deem me unworthy, then I will have done all that I can in pursuit of Reikhurst's avenging and restoration. And if I should die, by your sword or by failing in the Path of Purity, then at the very least there shall exist one less vampire in the world."

Silence followed.

Ian considered again, and if Heike's heart could beat, it would be near bursting from her breast.

Then.

Ian turned his head. Looked back over his shoulder to that small cadre of Watchmen atop the Sanctum. And he called to some of them by name, "What say you, Lilien? What say you, Ulgrim? What say you, Mathias?"

Alaric Lexi Quinzell
 
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Alaric

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Alaric did not speak further, instead he looked towards the Watchmen that Ian had indicated.

There was something utterly unsettling about this. The feeling did not quite reach him, it never did, but he could tell when something was...off. Something was being left unsaid, something that he couldn't quite narrow down.

Lips thinned for a brief moment, and then his thoughts were interrupted by the voice of a woman echoing from the top of the Keep.

"We are not a charity."​

The words were biting.

"We do not frollic and throw around our ways just because some beggar comes crawling. We are Templar, Watchmen."​

Alaric looked up, his eyes narrowing slightly to peer at the woman. There was a sneer on her face, a look of disgust as if she couldn't quite believe that this idea was even being entertained. A fire sat to her tone as she continued.

"If there is a Kingdom infested with these creatures then it should be cleansed with fire and blood, not reborn. The taint of what this creature is can never be undone. Do you truly believe she has not taken a life? That she has not tasted blood? That she has not kept herself and her dreams alive with the strength of what she is now?"​

The woman sneered.

"These Templar should have known better. They should have taken the creatures head and marched their Chapters upon this 'Reikhurst' to cleanse it of any more beasts that may make their home there. Just as we should now."​