Private Tales The Sound of Steel

Arwyl Minras

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Arwyl didn't look relaxed. His hands had balled up by his sides. His lips drew a thin line across his face. He drew slow breaths through his nose.

"This wasn't always Anirian territory," he growled. Technically it wasn't even now, but everyone knew that with the fall of the town they had just left that it was by everything but name.

"From here to the great lakes a hundred miles north were elven lands. Humans had to beg permission from the king and Queen to build here."

Arwyl turned away sharply before Kaius could silence him. If the human woman learned too much she would soon sell them out for a handful of silver.
 
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Riley

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Riley shoved off from the rock wall she was leaning against. She could feel her own anger ignite like kindling from the taste of it in Arwyl's words. It was clear, perhaps, that she wasn't mad at these three but it didn't take much to set the runaway off.

"Yeah well, what do you expect from a country that practically enslaves its own magic-born and turns them into ruthless, murdering tools for war? And do you know what they do to any who disagree? The weak? They disappear real quick. Yet why would any disagree? It's an honor they say. Serve your country they say." Hand fell to the side as it pretended to be a talking head - blah-blah-blah.

Eyeroll.

Her own family had been paid off for her brother, Talus. Riley still hadn't seen him and didn't really remember him when they'd come for him on the farm. Part of her assumed he was dead. Maybe he hadn't even graduated or maybe he died on a campaign. Her parents had been so proud. Sad but proud. Mother had felt a little different when Riley was taken but not enough to cause a fight. Perhaps just long enough to hesitate when taking the bag of coin.

"Listen," most of the spitfire was cooling from her words. "I appreciate your help back there with getting out of the city." Probably as close to a thanks they'd get. "You three are a hell-o-a lot better off far from here. But me? I've got a job to do."
 

Kaius

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Kaius only huffed as he listened to the exchange, his jaw clenching irritably at the tension Arwyl insisted upon causing with the human woman. His eyes remained closed and his breathing calm, as he waited for a pause in their bickering to interject..

“Are we really going to have this argument?..” he asked, his words tumbling out laced with exhaustion over the matter. Kaius held his own beliefs but Arwyl was passionate on his hatred of humans, and understandably so. Yet it seemed the Anirians not only oppressed every non human they could find but, perhaps even their own kind. Truthfully he hadn’t ever met an Anirian who hadn’t tried to kill or capture him...

“Then you share my sentiment, just Riley. And yet I cannot convince him to leave.” He gestured toward Arwyl with a jerk of his chin in the elf’s direction.. “What job, might I ask is it that you must do?..”
 
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Arwyl Minras

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Arwyl had been geeing himself up for an argument. He had expected some counter argument or perhaps some propoganda about the troublesome elves.

It had been foolish really. The barely intelligible woman had been fleeing from a full Dreadlord.

He eyed Kaius with a look that asked why they had to ask about her business. Humans killing other humans was just something they did.

"Well now we have to put some distance between ourselves and this place. Once we've found the others. Not till dark. I'll stay on watch."

By nightfall the siege would be done. The attacking force would be ravaging the town and drinking heavily.
 
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Riley

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Riley crossed her arms again, hazels panning away from the pairs of eyes on her and toward where they'd come from. As if she could see the surviving dreadlord tracking them right now. Or the town being broken down piece by piece.

Riley turned back to Kaius. "There's a weapon's shipment coming to the capital and I...," gaze snapped to flaming hair. "Others. What others?"
 

Kaius

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Kaius blurted a laugh at the elf "I don't think so, I can't trust you not to go sauntering off somewhere looking for trouble." he scolded with a huff..

Riley's words caused an inward groan, and he hoped Arwyl wouldn't have been paying too much attention to her mention of weapons, it was the sort of thing he'd try to get himself involved in and Kaius wanted to part in it.. Like he ever really had a choice.

"Just a few friends..." he answered calmly, and his eyes creased as he offered her a smile. "Why don't you get some rest whilst it's safe to do so.." he suggested and turned to the Orc.

"You too Riz, we'll need you fit, brother." he huffed as he slid down the stone wall and settled on the floor. "I'll keep first watch." he rumbled and shot a glare up at Arwyl.
 

Arwyl Minras

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"You got stabbed. I promise on everyone I have and do hold dear that I will not leave this place, but keep watch," Arwyl said. For the first time since they had met Riley his tone turned genuinely kindly.

"Rest and heal. Though...I would like to hear more of this weapon shipment and who it is intended for?"

Arwyl turned towards Riley, one eyebrow arching curiously.

Very convenient. She broke through the wall 'pursued' by a Dreadlord. And then the kind of plot which would bring him and his remaining loyalists out of hiding. Was he worth that much to the Anirian?
 
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Riley

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Riley had gotten so many beatings and punishments during her time at the Academy, before she escaped, due to her temper and for wearing her emotions on her sleeve. If only she’d known Arwyl thought her a master spy and actress on behalf of the Anirian government. She would’ve laughed harder than she’d laughed in a long time.

But that was neither here nor there.

“Are you two salty with each other all the time?” Riley was about to offer to take the first watch to stop their bickering but she figured they wouldn’t trust her enough to allow that.Especially with his Kaius had vaguely answered her question. Which was all fine to Riley. The only reason SHE trusted them was because of where she'd run into them. And they weren’t human.

And she was tired. Even with whatever...he’d done. Hazels flickered to Kaius when she thought he wasn’t looking then quickly drifted away. Back to sunset hair.

She lowered herself to the ground and stretched her legs out before her, propping herself upon her elbows. She made sure her back was to that rock wall.

House Virak is sponsoring a shipment to the Western front.” One of the more violent and war prone houses. She didn’t see the harm in telling them. If they tried to sell her out, what Anirian in their right mind would take the word of an elf? “But don’t worry. I intend to leave when the moon is the highest in the sky. And you three will definitely want to be going the opposite direction.” That would give her a few hours of rest at least, before she had to backtrack. Still had to scrounge up supplies. Figure out how she’d attack the wagons.

Eh. She’d figure it out. Not the best planner but pretty damn good on the fly.
 

Kaius

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"I was shot." Kaius corrected with a grumble at the elf. There was no doubt in his mind that he needed the rest and he stared at him in consideration for a long moment before giving a short nod.. "Fine. Any sound at all, wake me." he frowned at him, a not so subtle warning in his tone.

He couldn't help but groan as Arwyl asked about the weapons and his head shook as he lowered himself onto his back with a quiet laugh at Riley's question, but he decided not to answer. Salty was one way of putting their relationship at times, Kaius had a duty to guide and protect Arwyl as best he could, but at the root of it all despite their bickering, the elf was family and he cared about him and that was the main reason for his constant concern.

His eyes closed with a huff as he listened to Riley.. "It should be left well alone." was the only comment he'd make, he didn't want to know, and they'd be taking nothing to do with it if Kaius had his say. Of course, Arwyl was the most stubborn elf in the history of elves, and Kaius was sadly growing used to not getting his own way at all.
 

Arwyl Minras

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He cared for Kaius more than he would admit. Stabbed or shot, he might have had magic to repair himself but it came with a cost. No one drew magic without the cost. He had summoned just a few creations of spirit glass and he could feel the toll it had taken.

"Get some rest old man," he sighed. There wasn't much to use for comfort in the cave. Just rocks and more rocks. Arwyl shifted his back to make the best of his rock.

"Stopping a weapons shipment all by yourself..." Arwyl mused. Clearly, he did not seem entirely convinced.
 
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Riley

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"How will things change if they're always left alone," she muttered beneath her breath in a huff, not really meaning for either of them to hear. She curled tightly into a ball, on her side, using her arm as a pillow. She was used to sleeping outdoors. On her own. She just wished this place had more...grass.

A small yawn.

Hazels panned to Arwyl as if she was measuring his worth. She didn't need to convince him. She didn't need them; she didn't need anyone. She'd been on the run for the past year and so far, she'd survived just fine. Scanning the ground before her, she spied an overly-fist sized rock. Free hand motioned for it and the rock snapped toward her awaiting palm. She rested it on the ground in front of her, fingers curling over the rough surface. Her version of sleeping with a knife under the pillow.

If anyone found them while Arwyl stood watch, at least she'd be ready.

Eyes narrowed on torch-hair one last time before closing.

Fukin' gobshytes she was still tired from earlier.

Didn't take long to fall asleep.
 
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Kaius

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His eyes had closed, but he opened one to peer at the elf with a raised brow as he called him 'old man', and his head shook mutely as he closed it again with a huff.

"I don't expect things to change, certainly not in your lifetime..." he commented dryly. They'd been trying to 'change' things for hundreds of years, and it amused Kaius at times that humans felt they could make such changes in such a short lifetime. His head shook and he huffed.. "But I meant him.. You can do as you please, Princess.."

And with that, sleep claimed him. He fell deep, his body and mind had taken a battering and desperately needed to recuperate.
 

Arwyl Minras

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Arwyl was not very patient by elven standards. He could happily sit and watch paint dry for several hours without being distracted by his own mind. Most elves could sit in silent contemplation for days.

He dragged his fingers through his long hair, finding twigs and leaves and working them free. His clothes were coated in dust from the wall coming down, as well as some of his own blood from the bar fight that had started this all off.

It seemed a very stupid thing to have done, but how was he supposed to have known that they would end up in the middle of a town under siege? It was not - when he thought it through - the largest leap of logic. His band had scouted out the force several days before.

Arwyl crossed his legs and fell into a shallow trance. He was still alert to his surroundings, but his mind and body would find a modicum of rest. He made the decision not to wake the others until the sun fell and they could make a move. Nothing disturbed the group in those hours.

Deciding not to wake the others up close, he picked up some small stones and tossed them until they roused.

"Come on, time to move. I want you to tell me more about this weapons shipment. I want you to open your mind to an elven memory bond so I can know you're telling the truth."

There was no such thing, but he didn't think she would know that.
 
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Riley

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Crack.

Crack-crack-crack -
thump.

Riley was usually a light sleeper. It's how she'd been trained, in order to survive. Especially the hell-trials of the Falwood. It was the sound of the pinging rocks that woke her before one smacked against her chest.

"The hell," she sat up.

Arwyl was going to win the award of most Riley-glares. The world seemed safer to her in the dark. Less likely she'd be recognized. Easier to travel. Arms stretched above her head and the girl stood. Fingers fell to her spine, massaging out stiff kinks.

One of the biggest things she missed since being on the run? A consistent bed of straw or hay to sleep in. Damn these rocks.

A derisive snort left her nose as she knelt down on one knee and began adjusting her boots. "The fuk is an elven memory bond?" He was right, she didn't know what one was. Or that it wasn't real. Head shook. "And no because I'm not telling you. It's too dangerous. I meant it when I said you'll be better off going in the opposite direction."

Riley didn't need anymore lives on her conscience, even if one happened to be some uppity flaming haired elf.

"And 'sides, you'd probably just get in the way."

A big sniff left Riznak. The orc looked mildly offended.

"Okay fine, not you but definitely him," finger pointed to Arwyl.
 

Kaius

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Kaius' eyes shot open the second the first pebble hit him in the chest, though when he realised what it was he sighed and closed them for a moment longer and groaned as he stretched out.. "Should've woken me Ari." he muttered and rubbed at his eyes with the backs of his wrists as he tried to wake himself up.

The elf's brows furrowed at Arwyl's talk of weapons and memory bonds and he squinted against the light as he looked up at him with a look of what the fuck? He remained quiet but his head shook with a huff before he pulled himself up and rubbed at the tension in the back of his neck.

"Aye. Listen to the girl. It's too dangerous for us elves... She'll manage it fine on her own though no doubt." Kaius grumbled, his voice gritty from sleep. He looked between the two with a roll of his eyes and pulled himself up and reached a hand out to Riz to pull him to his feet.

"Lets keep an eye out for some breakfast on the road.." he muttered and looked back to Riley.

"You should come with us, lass. You're not safe out here on your own with that lot after you." he commented, fully expecting a barrage of abuse for even the mere suggestion that she couldn't handle the entire Anirian army on her own.

"And you" he looked to Arwyl. "No more schemes. We find the others and we keep moving." he frowned.
 

Arwyl Minras

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"Sometimes I wonder how I could fulfil my mother's last wishes without a little scheming," Arwyl replied. He stood slowly, bending over and stretching out his lithe, elven body.

He knew the difference. Making schemes for small plots to annoy the local human forces was not the same as uniting the remains of his scattered people. One was the act of an angry youth, lashing out. The other took far more courage than Arwyl had.

"He's right. You should come with us well beyond the reaches of the army's scouts. They'll be here looting for several days before order is restored now. You want to be a long way from here."
 
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Riley

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She frowned as she looked between the three of them. The moon's light caught against her olive skin, illuminating her uncertainty. She had three days.

Three days to circle back to Wiggin's Pass, set a trap, and try to interrupt the shipment. It would take her at least a day to circle back from here. And if they moved further away?

It just meant less time to get set-up and she'd likely miss the window.

Palm pushed her mop of dark hair from her brow as she stood and looked to Kaius. "I can handle myself." For shite's sake, she just faced down a dreadlord and walked away. Things were going, whelp, better than normal in her mind. Swimmingly.

Head tipped up, looking at the moon. "I said I would leave and I'm a woman of my word." Riley was a lot of things but at least she was that. A part of her knew it was foolish to go off on her own again. But the larger part of her was determined to stick it to her own Anirians.

"But thanks for the offer," hand waved behind her as she headed for the narrow path between the bushes and out of the small clearing. "Now at least you three lovebirds can do you."
 
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Kaius

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As Arwyl mentioned his mother, Kaius frowned and let his gaze linger on him for a long moment, his jaw clenched irritably. “You’ve no interest in fulfilling your mother’s wishes, you’ve proved that much already.” he huffed sharply and patted the dust from his clothes.

His brows rose at the young prince’s words, did he just say Kaius was ‘right’?? Kaius blinked in mock surprise and pressed a hand against his heart as though it were about to fail him with shock.

Green eyes followed Riley wordlessly as she turned to leave, his head shaking before he cast his face skyward and huffed. “I didn’t realise it would be possible to find another as stubborn as you...” he muttered to Arwyl and rubbed at the back of his neck.

“We can’t let her go off on her own, not whilst she’s being hunted by her own.” He said with a frown after a moment’s consideration, a brow arched as he looked to Arwyl.
 

Arwyl Minras

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"She has magic," Arwyl countered at first. He knew full well that he was playing devil's advocate for the sake of it. If Kaius had told him to let the girl go he would have already been after her.

"But she also seems thick as mince. She'll get killed. Riznak, go and find the others. Tell them to go to Mynard's Copse. We'll meet them again there."

Arwyl hated how Kaius felt that he knew his mother even better than he did. It was this constant attitude that he knew what was best for him. If they could barely hold together a band of tens how was he supposed to reunite thousands.

As he set off after the human, his lips were set into a thin, straight light. He melt his back to Kaius to his his expression.
 
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Riley

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For two nights she didn't know she was being followed. She hunted rabbits and only built fires during the day, quickly stomping them out after the meat was cooked. She foraged for wild berries, chives, and mint. She came to a stop along a small hill that overlooked the area for Wiggins Pass. A wide bridge crossed a deep ravine. One side of the road leading further into the twisting hills.

She'd made it.

She'd have to get down to the bridge. Perhaps attack from below. If there was a way she could take the entire bridge out. She wasn't sure if she had enough magic for that.

There was a snap of dry wood behind her and she turned quickly, coming face-to-face with a man in Anirian armor. He looked part of a scouting party.

"What're you doing up in these hills, girl?" Riley tried to hide her relief because it was clear he hadn't recognized her yet from the wanted posters. But how had he snuck up on her?

DAMNIT.

She should've been more careful.

"Setting traps for food for my family," she lie came quick and easy. His arms crossed over his chest as he called over his shoulder.

"Oy Chuck, we've got a stray over here." Another man with a bow along his shoulder appeared from the trees. He had a bush mustache and salty hair. Sharp blue eyes. He squinted at her.

"Looks familiar. You better come with us to town, girl."

Riley took a step back in the pinestraw. "Don't think ma or pa will be too happy if I'm late for supper."

A third human emerged in armor. He was massively tall. "She's the one on the posters." His voice was clear like a bell.

"Fukin' dragon shite can't one of you be a bit more dense?" The tall one drew his sword.
 

Kaius

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The compromise. Stay far enough back from the woman that she had no idea that they were keeping an eye on her, so that when they inevitably had to drag her out of trouble, Arwyl could rub it in her face..

"Fuck.. look." Kaius dipped his chin, gesturing to the soldiers heading in the woman's direction. He threw down a the rabbit bone he'd cleaned of meat and huffed as he stood and lifted his bow. "Five gold I get the three of them before you've had time to draw a weapon." he smirked dryly at the elf as he made his way through the thicket, picking up the voices and quieting his steps.

For his size, Kaius could move with complete silence, as was the case with most elves, and he had his bow drawn and nocked with one arrow, with another two arrows drawn and ready to replace the first. He cast a side glance at Arwyl and gave the elf a slow nod as he drew his bow string back to his chin, pulled in a breath, and loosed the arrow as he breathed back out.

The arrow hit the back of the soldier's neck as he drew his weapon, bursting all the way through his throat and no doubt spattering Riley with fresh blood. The other two would turn, he assumed, and as they did he was quick to nock again and loose a second and third arrow at the wide open eyes of the other two soldiers..
 

Arwyl Minras

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As Kaius' now gently creaked back with the second arrow, Arwyl waved the shard of spirit glass next to his face.

"That was a stupid bet, you only get one. Next time..."

Thwang, another arrow was loosed.

"...make it more of a challenge. I can draw a blade as fast as a bow. Like...Arwyl I bet you can't run to those solders and strike one before I shoot them all." His impression wasn't that close to Kaius' voice. It could have been any accent, as long as it was deep and grumpy.

Arwyl was doing his best to put Kaius off his third shot so that he might get some practise in. The stupid girl was probably going to deal with the third one if Kaius missed any way.

"What did I win by the way?"
 
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Riley

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Yeah and the stupid girl did.

Warm, fresh blood of her fellow Anirian splattered across her face and neck. She blinked, just as surprised as the soldier, his face planting into the roots and dirt. Then number two.

Dagger was already in her hand. The last one was too slow and didn’t even have time to turn toward the archer as he got a dagger buried in between the eyes from the front at the same time an arrow cut through his throat. Luckily it stopped before following through to Riley.

More blood splattered onto her clothing.

Chest heaved as she swallowed the shock. Hazels tracked to the voice that sounded like a squawking chick.

"What. The. Hell," she caught her breath and stooped to yank her dagger free from the still-warm corpse. "Are you two doing here?" Bloodied tip pointed between the two elves.
 
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Kaius

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Kaius' eyes rolled at Arwyl's incessant need to be such a pain in his ass.. "Not everything is meant to be taken so literally." he argued as he shot the second arrow and quickly nocked the third, hardly looking as he let it loose, already turning back to the redheaded elf.. "But as per usual you nip nip nip at my ear." he frowned, his hand mimicking a talking mouth. "And will you stop waving your fucking spirit stick around in my damn face? You insist on being a little sh--"

He had intended on going on with his rant but Riley's words caused him to whip his head around to look at her with a slight grimace at her garish state.. "Coincidence?.." his brow arched, and he side glanced at Arwyl as he continued through the trees toward the blood-soaked woman.. "Don't give her a hard time. Try to be nice.." he muttered at the elf under his breath.

His eyes fell for a brief moment upon the bloody dagger in her hand and he made sure to stop a safe enough distance from her.. "Are you alright?.." he asked, the words tumbling out calmly with genuine concern, his hands risen in placation.
 
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Arwyl Minras

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"Well me and my man servant were going for a stroll together..." Arwyl started to monologue with an exaggerated wave of his hands. He still carried what appeared like a sharp of glass in his hand. Or a 'spirit stick'. The air itself seemed to crack around it as it moved.

Arwyl did at least fall silent as Kaius spoke to mage. He wasn't certain that she wasn't some attempt to infiltrate them. It was hard to imagine the chaotic mess of a mind that would conjure this personality and story and put it into a plan.

Arwyl walked closer to the soldier who had made it the closest before being struck with an hour. He still appeared to be alive, the arrow having struck bone.

With a flick of his hand the shard took the length of a spear.

"Did you need to ask this one any questions?"
 
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