Private Tales The Sound of Steel

Riley

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"Might wanna watch where yah point that thing," Riley tipped her chin at Arwyl as he waved his spirit stick haphazardly around.

The man on the ground gurgled.

"Fuck you," and grimaced in pain. Riley clenched her teeth. She might be pissed as all hell at Vel Anir. But she really wanted to stick it to the dreadlords. This guy was just doing his fukin job. A soldier following orders. She knew every Anirian citizen was conscripted at the age of 18 to serve one year and there was no getting out of that. Just like she couldn't have gotten out of the years of hell at the Academy - being dragged away from her family.

Killing others for them.

This one looked just over 18.

Head shook quickly as her sleeve wiped across her face, pointed dagger lowering away from the two elves. He wouldn't tell them anything anyway. Goddamned proud muppets.

"No just make it quick." voice was gritty and hard. She kept telling herself she didn't care. Maybe if she kept doing that she wouldn't.

Wiping the bloodied dagger on her pants, she sheathed it back into her belt.

"Why did you two follow me?"
 

Kaius

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Man servant.. He fucking hated when Arwyl called him that, and he tried not to give the elf the satisfaction of reacting but his jaw clenched slightly in effort to keep a retort locked behind his teeth. He glanced down at the dying man and huffed, watching to ensure that Arwyl did, in fact, intend on making it quick.

"Follow isn't a term I'd use.. We, travelled on the same path, at a distance, to offer you backup should you come to need it.." his gaze narrowed with a slight grimace. Following was exactly the term he'd use.

"Look it's not safe on your own. You got us out of that keep, we just wanted to make sure you didn't come to harm and, sort of prove our point that you should maybe have stuck with us." he cleared his throat "Right, Arwyl?..." he glanced sideways at the redhead and arched a brow with a look that said 'fucking agree with me.'
 

Arwyl Minras

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"No just make it quick."
Arwyl didn't even break eye contact as he brought the spirit glass down. His body shuddered from the speed and force of the blow, but his expression was that of a man engaged in idle conversation. The blade went through steel and sternum like paper.

"Right, Arwyl?..."
"I mean, those words are all entirely true. Though I suppose 'followed' would be equally applicable. Would you like to maybe stick with us now? We are going to get beyond the reach of this army until it has moved on. By now some of their cavalry men may have sobered up and feel they haven't had enough sport yet. "
 
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Riley

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Okay, so a killer spirit stick.

Riley, for the first time was speechless.

Brow crinkled across olive skin, perplexed. She'd never had back-up before. Didn't know what it was like. Every man and woman for themselves at the Academy. Her instinct was to bristle against this.

Not trust it.

A wipe of her palm across her face, clearing away more specks of drying blood that wasn't her own. Kaius got a 'wasn't buying it look' about the following and Arwyl got a begrudging flicker of amusement as he addressed the bearded elf.

"There are four packed wagons down there full of steel and iron. Shields, swords, bows, arrows, and armor. How's about you two help me knock them in the ravine and then we depart together beyond the reach of the army?"
 
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Kaius

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Kaius grimaced at the nonchalance of which Arwyl ended the human's life and glanced between him and Riley. Yes, they were the enemy, but they were still Riley's kind and Kaius was trying to at least be a little more careful about being sensitive to that. His brow rose as Arwyl extended the invitation this time however, and his attention turned back to the woman as she tried to negotiate terms with them..

He sighed irritably and laced his fingers together at the back of his neck and lifted his stormy gaze skyward, his words betraying his exasperation "Lass you're determined to get yourself, or us, killed." he frowned and looked at her. Yes they had magic, but they were outnumbered, and one silly mistake would be all it took, as had been proven days ago when they'd been dragged to a dungeon cell to await certain fucking death. But what was the point? She wasn't going to take no for an answer..

He stared at her for a moment and shook his head with a huff.. "How many guards to a wagon?..." he groaned.
 

Arwyl Minras

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Arwyl raised his eyebrows. He looked back across his shoulder to where his remaining band were supposed to be meeting them.

"Armor?" he appended on to Kaius' question with clear interest. They needed that. Good armor cost money. They didn't have much between them.

Every piece of armor could be the difference that meant he didn't lose one of the few remaining elves that followed his family. That followed him.
 
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Riley

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"No, I'm determined to stop laying my ass around and do something." Gold flecks within her hazels seemed to brighten whenever she was agitated and they focused on Kaius. But there was a flicker of hope in them too.

It only grew as Arwyl seemed interested.

It would've been a long shot to do it on her own but with their help...

"Yeah." She turned from them and crouched back in the spot she'd been before the scouts had shown up. Arm pointed down the hill through the thicket of trees and bushes. There was a bustle of activity on the roads. They were loading up. And if the three of them didn't start moving down, it would be too late and they'd be seen.

"Looks like two riding and one in the back."

Three guards per wagon. At least, from what they could see here. Seemed right from what she could remember from Anirian protocol.
 

Kaius

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Kaius simply huffed at Arwyl's single lilted word and he knew there was little point in arguing. Little point in trying to persuade either of them otherwise, they were both as bad as one another and he had a difficult enough time trying to convince Arwyl not to saunter off on suicide missions let alone trying to convince Riley too.

He watched Riley for a moment. He could see how determined she was, how passionate about the a cause that they just so happened to share. "Alright...." he reluctantly agreed, and followed to crouch beside her, a hand reaching out to sweep back a curtain of leaves to get a better look. Stormy eyes looked between the wagons, counting the guards for himself, forming a vision in his mind of the best way to do this.

"There are more of us, they should be here by now.." he stood, and started looting the dead soldiers of weapons. "We get this done and we're gone. Understood?.." he looked up and glanced between them both.
 

Arwyl Minras

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"Hopefully," Arwyl agreed with Kaius. "I did ask Riznak to remember a sentence worth of message so it is not entirely guaranteed."

His gaze followed the wagon and looked on ahead of it. The path would narrow and the wagons would have to stay in single file. There wouldn't even be room for them to turn without unhitching the wagons.

"I can go and see if they've caught up with this and head off the wagons at the far end of that tight copse of trees. You two can trail them and go for the rear wagons. Though...if they haven't caught us, I'll have to think of something creative to stop them."
 
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Riley

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They'd mentioned more of them before. Riley wondered who they were. Just others that were trying to escape the jaws of Vel Anir? More like Riz?

Any other non-humans?

As long as they helped her stop this shipment? She didn't care. She would take it. Head turned to look at Kaius. "Okay, okay. Agreed."

Brows rose upon olive skin at Arwyl. He was going to try to take on the front of the wagons by himself? Hopefully he'd run into the others they'd been talking about but...Riley couldn't judge. She'd been about to take on this entire train by herself.

Attention shifted to the road. There was already movement. There was a thicket right before the bridge started to the pass. Head motioned to the side. "We gotta move now." Springing from her feet, she began scrambling down the hillside, sliding from boulder to tree as bests he could. And as quietly as she could.

Had to get to that position by the bridge before they saw her.

And she wasn't sure if Kaius would agree with what Arwyl had said. They seemed pretty close to the hip. For whatever reason.
 

Kaius

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Kaius didn't agree with what Arwyl said. He didn't agree with any of this. But he'd already accepted the fact that there was no other choice in the matter. His head shook at Arwyl, he'd be unable to shield him properly from that far away, and without being able to see him he wouldn't be able to shield him at all.

"No you need to stay where I can see y-- shit." and Riley was off scurrying down the hill. His jaw clenched and he let out a quiet growl of frustration and gave Arwyl a nod. It would have to do.

"Watch your back. I meant what I said. We get it done and we get out of there.." he frowned, hoping neither of the two had the urge to be even more reckless than usual. He turned away from the elf and followed Riley's trail.
 

Arwyl Minras

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"Will do!" Arwyl called back. "Can we keep her?" he asked, but he had turned to run off before Kaius could answer. Before he could even shoot the young Prince in exile an incredulous stare.

Arwyl dashed away, keeping parallel to the direction of the wagons. He could outpace them walking along, but it was going to be tight to get some distance on them by the time they hit the narrow section of the trail.

To his right he saw the copse of trees he has told Riznak to reach with their group. He doubted they would be there, right up until the orc stepped out and waved.

Arwyl stopped. Three hundred paces to the trees, then time to explain to Riznak and then time to rush back. Time he didn't have.

He waved with a big sweep of his arm to try and indicate that Riznak and the others needed to come to him. He repeated the gesture a few times before turning left and sliding down to get ahead of the wagon.

If they were coming then they would be a few minutes. He could already hear the wagons coming. Out of any sensible ideas, he drew a sword length of spirit glass and hacked at a tree. The blade went through the trunk as if it were paper. The canopy above shook, birds cried out in fear and there tree fell to cross the narrow path. That would do it.

It also made the wagon crews well aware they were being ambushed.
 
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Riley

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With a slight bulge and rustle of a thick set of bushes, Riley slid inside. Twigs and branches snagged at her hair and along her face. She ignored the small, sharp stings, hazels peaking through the natural gaps in the greenery at the carriages as they slid past.

Ears picked up on Kaius as he joined her, though he was near silent.

Any surprise she felt didn't show.

The band of carriages stopped and shouts traveled up the line. Riley pressed her hand through the bushes and made a small sweeping gesture, face furrowing in concentration. An invisible force would suddenly slam into the rear carriage, knocking it to the side and over. Shouts of soldiers filled the air as well as the neighing of terrified horses.

"Cover me!" She grunted to Kaius as she sprung from the bushes and pushed her magic toward a second carriage, aiming to invisibly knock it off the cliffside.
 

Kaius

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Can we keep her?....."Gods help me." Kaius groaned to himself. It was difficult enough keeping Arwyl on the right path, let alone dealing with another impulsive hot head. They'd both be the death of him. At least she was prettier to look at..

He watched as the rear carriage tipped over and the chaos commenced. The elf glanced to the heavens with a quiet huff as she made a run for it, and his thumbs ran over his fingertips as he cast a shield over the spritely woman. He watched, and his attention split between her and the falling tree. He cursed under his breath, unable to help but feel like they really hadn't thought this through well at all. Another reckless, impetuous mission that was going to lead to some sort of death, injury or incarceration.

"I'm getting too old for this shit..." he muttered to himself, nocked an arrow, and rushed from the trees.
 

Arwyl Minras

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Three soldiers made their way down from the wagons to try and move the tree. They heard the commotion from behind and knew what was happening. One of the covered the others with a loaded crossbow.

"Now that," called out Arwyl, gesturing to the fallen tree with a spirit-glass knife, "looks heavy."

There was a thud as the crossbow launched a bolt somewhere over his shoulder. One man dropped his crossbow, the others stopped trying to lift the tree and drew swords.

"All this endless practise. In the morning. At night. Whenever he damn well feels like it. And he doesn't want me getting into trouble."

"What?"

"Just trying to keep you long enough for my big friend to get here. Though I was genuinely complaining about the practise. More fun to test yourself for real," Arwyl replied. He smiled. His grin heralded death.
 
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Riley

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Riley flinched as two arrows from a crossbow slammed into the invisible shield around her.

Thwack.

Thwack.


Two men went over the cliffside with the carriage she'd pushed over, falling into the hungry white-water of a river below. The weapons and men were swallowed up.

Whelp, at least that hadn't been the carriage with the armor; the one Arwyl wanted. Looked like it was the one with swords and steel. The two men from the first carriage she knocked over were crawling out. Riley ducked as an arrow sailed just over her head. Another guard came charging from behind, swinging his sword at her back.
 

Kaius

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He heard the tree fall..Kaius dearly hoped that Arwyl, for a change, wouldn't be reckless. He felt like he'd been split in two trying to keep both he and Riley protected. Being a shield was heavy work. Being a shield to two impulsive pests was far worse. And still here he was, going along with it, taking the strain and the stress and no doubt another fucking arrow.

Kaius too ducked the arrow that Riley had, planting his feet for no more than a few seconds to nock, aim and fire an arrow into the back of the guard's neck before he could reach the woman. Every few steps he aimed and picked off another.

"Whoever...said men couldn't multitask...can get fucked.." he muttered to himself between shots and shielding.

As they grew closer, more guards charged toward the woman to meet her head on. Deflecting arrows was one thing, but if they reached her there was little he could do to stop them cutting her down. "Riley! Stop!" he yelled and picked up his pace to try and catch up to her.
 

Arwyl Minras

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Ah, there was Kaius' voice. It was the tone he usually reserved for Arwyl. Dancing away from several heavy sabers, the elf couldn't help but smile.

He caught a swing on his blade of spirit glass. It dug a finger's width into the blade of steel. Until Arwyl lost his focus and the glass shattered it was far stronger than any metal forged without magic.

He drew the three back away from the caravan. More men came forwards to move the tree. Several came to join the chase.

Arwyl was good, but not good enough to take on five men. Already a single misstep and the three trying to cut him down now would have their way.

A javelin cut through the air, trees hissing as they lost leaves to its point. It thudded into the thigh of one of the soldiers.

"Well, here they are."

Arrows started whistling out of the trees, forcing the guards the abandon the task of moving the obstruction.
 
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Riley

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Riley spun as the man about to open her back with a sword thumped to the ground with an arrow in his neck. Hazels locked Kaius’ for a moment. A silent thanks before her attention snapped to the others. Dagger left her hand and buried into the throat of a charging swordsman.

She heard Kaius behind her, not used to taking orders. Definitely not liking them. But to her goddamned credit, she didn’t move forward anymore. She just dodged.

She ducked as another guard swiped at her. Getting in close to him, she tackled his sword arm with a grunt and slammed the heel of her boot on top of his shoe. Elbow slammed up into the man’s face, breaking his nose with a splash of blood.

It was clear she had decent hand-to-hand combat training.

There was a commotion from the front of the line but her attention remained on the man she was grappling with. Then a boot into her side, knocking her down.
 

Kaius

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As he ran toward Riley he could see Arwyl, almost surrounded and out of his depth. Fear struck him in the chest and he forgot to breathe, his attention shifting between the two, but Arwyl was too far for him to reach.

Everything seemed to slow in his mind, until all he could hear was his own heart beating in his ears, and he summoned all of the energy he could muster with the intent on creating more time.

He saw Riley, and blood, and cursed under his breath with no idea who the blood belonged to. He didn't pause this time, and he took aim and fired two arrows in quick succession at the two men closest to her, and another at a guard heading straight for him. All three arrows hit, and more men continued their approach.

Kaius leapt forward, and as he slammed his feet back into the dirt and landed on one knee the ground trembled, sending a shockwave across the field in front of them, sending every soldier flying backwards into the carriages which rocked and creaked in protest. Kaius growled out with the effort of it, and quickly cast his eyes toward Arwyl who had reinforcements, and to Riley.

"You good?.." He breathed again.
 

Arwyl Minras

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A roar heralded Riznak. The orc had been wronged as much as any of the band, but he did not fight like them. The elves that still followed his family line were peppering the guards with arrows. Riznak charged right past Arwyl, his hammer came swinging down and cracked a skull.

The two left gave Arwyl a slim opening. It was all he needed. He was quick and spirit glass was weightless. Two blades snapped out, puncturing heart and throat.

"To me!" he called out. The guards were taking coverans they were starting to waste arrows. Kaius was near the rear of the train alone. Well, the human was there too.

Riznak at his side, with a wedge of elven swordsmen behind him, Arwyl charged through the first wagon.
 
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Riley

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Riley lifted her head, fingers splayed across her side. Bruised not broken. Hair finally settled around her cheeks, feeling the periphery of the elf’s attack

“Fine,” she growled to Kaius and pushed herself to her feet, scooping up a dropped sword. Gripping the hilt in both hands she charged forward, swiping at a guard before he could regain his feet from Kaius’ attack.

Hazels swept toward the front of the train, seeing Riz pound away with his hammer.

“Holy hell,” she huffed. “This is the fukin’ FEW others you guys talked about before?!” An invisible barrier crackled to life behind Kaius in time to stop an arrow from burying itself into his back.
 

Kaius

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As soon as he was sure she could go on he was up and firing at the grounded men, managing to pick off a fair few before they were back on their feet. He could feel the weakness seeping into his muscles, tiring them as though he'd been swimming for too long. He had no time to stop and leech energy, not at least until they were no longer outnumbered. He heard the arrow strike the barrier and let out a breath with a glance to Riley, and he shook his head against the growing dizziness as his ears rang..

The Anirians were dwindling fast, and Kaius snorted in amusement at Riley's shock over their own numbers.. "Compared to what we were.." he groaned as he shot another two arrows at the men trying to mount the horses attached to the nearest wagon.. "We are few."

"Alright - you get the wagons, I'll cover you." he told her as he lifted a spear from the ground and javelined it into the face of an oncoming soldier so that he now stood between Riley and all remaining Anirians..

He could hear Arwyl command his charge.. "Good, lad." he rumbled quietly, a small smirk twitching at the corner of his lips as he readied another few arrows.
 

Arwyl Minras

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Arwyl launched himself out of the back of the wagon. It brought him out behind three guards who had set themselves against the oncoming force. Poor positioning on their part.

They broke their small line to try and flee behind the next wagons. Arwyl caught one of them. He sliced a calf and then finished the job with a single blow. The other two fell with arrows in their back.

Riznak rushed past. Their next line was broken with a single swing of his hammer. Elves followed in his wake. They didn't even outnumber the guards, but they moved so swiftly as a group. They attacked any weakness, broke the guard down into small chunks and took them apart piece by piece.

"Old man!?" Arwyl shouted in elven.
 
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Riley

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Riley gave a quick, short nod and called over her shoulder at Kaius as she sprinted for the unoccupied wagon.

"We're gonna talk about this you barking orders out thing if we all get alive outta this!" Hand grasped the empty front of the cart as she hoisted herself up into the driver's seat. Eyes spotted the reigns and she lunged for them as two guards that had been hiding behind the wagon lunged for her.

She punched one across the cheek and he stumbled back to the ground. He took an arrow into the gut from Arwyl's band of elves from down the line. Riley sent her fist into the underside of the second guard's jaw. He stumbled back, one hand hanging on the side of the wagon as the two horses hooked to the cart spooked, reared, then planted their hooves and dug in, taking her and the cart off-road.

With a flick of her fingers, the reigns suddenly jumped into her hands. Teeth grit as a spark of amusement crossed her hazels, hearing Arwyl's elven shout.

Oh fuk, hopefully they wouldn't shoot her.
 
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