Private Tales The Sound of Steel

Kaius

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"I know you're okay. You're the most okay person in the history of anyone who has ever been okay. But even okay people need rest." his brows furrowed, but he finally managed to crack a hint of a smile at her stubbornness. He rested a hand on her shoulder and gave a gentle squeeze as she chose to lean instead of sit.. "Thank you." he cleared his throat, realising he'd yelled at her whilst she'd been helping him.

Kaius returned his attention to the pair of royals and folded his arms with a quiet huff as he caught the tail end of their conversation.

"We'd welcome the hospitality, Your Highness." Kaius dipped his chin. "Gods know I could use a decent bath and a soft bed at least for one night." he sighed. The thought of it quite frankly made him want to cry with happiness. Not to mention a meal that he didn't have to hunt, skin and cook over a camp fire. Fuck. Maybe there was bread..

He looked between the two, hoping they'd reach the agreement he was wishing for. Perhaps Sylmara might even help him keep Arwyl out of trouble, at least for a little while...
 
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Sylmara

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Sylmara considered Arwyl's words for a second, casting a glance over towards the Human as Kaius began to speak.

Her lips pursed in consideration.

Eventually her hand waved dismissively, her face turning away from Riley and Kaius as she regarded Arwyl once again. He was royalty, like she was. His city had been destroyed, but that didn't make it any less of a fact. Her father would tell her to respect that.

A sigh escaped her lips. "Keep her on a leash, and I'm sure there won't be any problem."

It was hard to tell if Sylmara was being literal or not, and before anyone could ask any questions she quickly continued to speak.

"All the members of your band will be safe with me, Prince Minras." An amused smile played over her lips as she gave him the deference he was technically due. "Even from the armies of Vel Anir."

Saen'Althera was not technically hers, but her father and brother were far from it's reach and those within it's walls would listen to her commands. Even though they were rebels, they would be safe.

At least for a little while.
 

Arwyl Minras

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"Thank you," said Arwyl. He inclined his head respectfully. Above anything else they needed a safe place to hide. "My two wagon men will need to know where they can rejoin the group."

The fortune in that wagon was enough to pay an army for a year. That was wages for thousands of people. Enough for Vel Anir to put significant effort into its recovery. If they left it here - or dumped some of it in the river as Arwyl was currently considering just to hurt them - and left no tracks then they might get out of the predicament.

Hopefully the wagon tracks would lead them astray or some less careful thieves would find the gems.

"Kaius, order them out and follow Sylmara's direction. I have one thing to finish up and then I'll be with you all."

Already the two lead wagons were being moved away from the train just so there was some room. The band were freeing the other horses and sending them running. They weren't fit for anything but wagon duties and they couldnt afford to bring them and leave tracks.
 

Riley

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Head tipped for a moment eyes closed. She waved Kaius off as if to say it was nothing. She frowned as she noticed the withdrawal of Kaius' hand so soon. And her frown deepened as she realized that she thought it was too soon.

Hazels snapped opened and narrowed along the princess elf's words. What was her name again? Princess Snoosnoo? Princess Silky? Princess Fifi?"

Fingers curled into a fist at her side as she pushed off from the tree.

"What. Did. She. Say. To. Me?" Riley's teeth ground in her mouth as she started forward. Riley was a quick spark on a short fuse. Never mind that it wouldn't be wise or polite to smash this princess elf's nose in.
 
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Kaius

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The moment the words had left Sylmara's lips, Kaius felt the tension in his muscles and he skipped forward to block Riley's path toward the Princess, his hands raised in placation in front of her to stop her advancing and apology and mute plea written on his face as he shook his head desperately..

"She said she will offer all of us a safe place to recuperate. And we are grateful..".. so fucking grateful. He'd consider binding and gagging the fiery woman himself and throwing her over his shoulder if it was what it took to get a comfortable night's rest. His brows furrowed and he mouthed the word please as he looked down at her. He was sure she'd had to endure much worse than verbal insult.

He turned to Arwyl and frowned at him for a moment, had the Princess not been there he'd have questioned what exactly it was that he had to do, but he sighed and dipped his chin at the order and looked back to Riley with a jerk of his chin. He was keeping an extra close eye on her, and she wouldn't be leaving his side for a second whilst Sylmara was near.

"Let's go, lass.." he winked at her and moved to the tree line to call out to the men still on the field.

"LET'S MOVE OUT!!" he bellowed out, picked up his weapons, and turned to give a nod to Sylmara. "Ready to follow your lead, Your Highness."
 
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Sylmara

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"Lovely." Sylmara said, pretending she did not notice the little humans outburst just to the left of her.

There was really no point in getting upset at such a thing. Lesser beings were quick to anger, and humans were...well they had started three separate wars due to their jealousy, one little angry kitten was hardly a reason to get a Rise out of her.

She shot Arwyl a smile. "I will send Guards for your men, they will meet them here."

Traveling to Saen'Althera took more than directions. It was hidden within the Falwood, tucked away on the cliffs and shrouded through magics by the forest itself. Her ancestors had constructed it, a small fortress near the edge of the Falwood that allowed them to peer into the reaches of other realms.

Sylmara watched quietly for a few moments, and then slowly turned on her heels. She still moved with that odd liquid gait, seeming to flow rather than walk. Her bare feet hardly seemed to touch the ground.

"Stay close." She sang in Elvish. "There are dangerous things within the Falwood."

Green eyes flickered towards Riley for just a brief second. "You would not want to meet them on the way."

Without another word she moved into the forest.
 
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Arwyl Minras

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There was no point in Arwyl telling Sylmara that her guards needed to tread lightly. If that was not obvious, or if the guards of her outposts didn't do it as a matter of course, then this was no a safe haven.

Arwyl meandered slowly back down the path, knowing what was ahead of it. It was not the task itself that made his limbs feel lethargic, it was knowing that he was going back on his word. He did this alone. It was cruel, but necessary.

The group of caravan guards had been roped to the trees just a short way down the path. They saw him coming and he felt the confusion, the concern. Arwyl strode with purpose towards the woman against the tree furthest to the left.

His hand was steady, even if his resolve was not. A press of his palm to the forehead to slam the head back into the trunk, one swift motion with the spiritglass blade and it was done. The others knew it was coming now, so he worked quickly until every tree, every prisoner had been attended to. He double checked those that had fallen around the caravan too. He'd wanted a little more gold on his bounty, but the stakes had changed.

He caught up to the rest of the band quickly, light on his feet but carrying a new weight on his shoulders. At least no one had killed the human yet.

"How far did you say it was?" he asked Sylmara, knowing that she hadn't.
 

Riley

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Kaius replaced her beeline for the uppity princess.

Hazels narrowed on the man. Fingers curled and uncurled at her sides. That look in his eyes and the silently mouthed-please was what did her in.

DAMNIT.

"Fine."

Teeth ground in her mouth but slowly, fingers uncurled. She huffed at the red-headed woman's warning. She'd seen far worse things. Had far worse things done to her. She'd seen plenty of monsters in the Itchel Wilds and was not worried about those in the Falwood.

Giving the princess one last mild glare over Kaius' shoulder, she turned and knelt by the stream, getting one last good drink of water and splashing her face. She had two stolen daggers from the dead on her belt and one small ax. And that was it. Straightening, she fell into line with the others, ignoring their looks and stares. Hands shoved in her pockets.

A frown spread on her lips as Arwyl returned, guessing what he'd done. What he'd had to do. Perhaps she would've done the same thing. And she didn't know how she felt about that.
 
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Kaius

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Kaius could feel the tension build in the back of his neck as he glanced between Sylmara and Riley. He offered each of them a smile, a reassurance that everything was fine, just fine. The moment Riley turned to the stream and Sylmara turned to float into the forest, Kaius’ smile fell with a quiet huff as he cast his face toward the heavens for a brief moment, fingertips kneading at the knotting muscles. Never in his many years had he ever stood between two women who hated each other…Silently, he prayed to his Gods, to just let him get through the next day, for the sake of just a little comfort.

He stayed close to Riley as they walked, fending off the looks and stares that she got with a few glares of his own, glares that caused a few nervous looks and eyes to shift back onto their path ahead.

The sound of Arwyl’s hurried pace had him look over his shoulder, dark green eyes giving him a quick glance over under a furrowed brow and he sighed, shaking his head as he turned his attention back to the path. Kai’s jaw clenched and he forced himself to remain silent, and he’d remain so for the rest of the journey unless spoken to.

Bed….bath…bread…

Bed…bath…bread…
 
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Sylmara

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Sylmara moved with the same easy grace as always even when the path disappeared Into the forest itself. "Not far, to those who know where to look."

The answer was a vague one, but Sylmara was no fool.

She wanted to help them, if not for some ultralistic reasons then for her own purposes, but they were still rebels. Keeping the exact path secret would protect both her and then in the end. Of course, that didn't mean they couldn't learn it if they truly watched what was around them. A risk she was willing to take.

The day wore on.

Above them the sun slowly wound it's way across the sky until it was just touching the edge of the world. Orange light cast through the canopy from above. "Not far now."

The Princess told her companion.

"I suggest your all still your weapons." Sylmara mused. "There will have to be some...explaining."

Her words were cryptic, seemingly coming from nowhere, but those observant enough would notice the arrows point at them from the trees above.
 
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Arwyl Minras

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"East Riznak," Arwyl said quietly in the trade tongue. The orc was, by far, the most likely to react badly to an arrowhead pointed in his direction.

When he gave this a little more thought, he decided it was actually going to be Riley. She was already reluctant enough to come this way without any further conditions being placed upon her.

"I hope they do realise you've invited us here," Arwyl said, keeping his hands by his sides. He didn't carry any weapons. He didn't need them.
 

Riley

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Occasionally, Riley caught the looks Kaius gave the others. When she thought he wasn't looking or didn't notice. Brows scrunched up in confusion.

Why was he defending her?

Why did it mean anything at all that he was?

Lips pressed thin. She nearly bumped into the elf in front of her as they all stopped. Head jerked up, her hands resting along the hilts of her stolen knives. She didn't draw them. But there was a sudden smell of ozone in the air as her magic worked. An invisible shield wrapping not only around herself but also around Kaius, Arwyl, Riz, and some of the others.

"Well then start goddamned explaining because we didn't come here to get shot, Princess."

Yeah, Riley would make a terrible diplomat.
 
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Kaius

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Kaius was observant enough. His eyes scanned the canopy above and he shot a glance at Riley as her defence went up, a hand reaching to settle gently on her arm. They wouldn’t shoot unless they were told to, or if they saw them as a threat.. “S’alright...” he assured quietly.

He frowned at Arwyl’s words and he gave the prince a look of uncertainty..

“We’re grateful for the hospitality, but I wonder, whether your father would approve of our visit here, Princess..” he cleared his throat. They’d been friends to Arwyl’s family before their home fell, but that was before they were wanted rebels.
 

Sylmara

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"I assure you, my father will not be pleased when he learns of this." That was probably the last thing that Kaius wanted to hear, but Sylmara was not known for lying. She had a reputation for honesty, even when it did not suit her.

At least that was what most people thought.

There was a knifes edge to honesty, a way to use it for ones own advantage in every situation. One just had to know how. A smile touched her lips, and she looked to Arwyl, once again entirely ignoring the Human and her comment.

Riley may as well not have existed. "No harm will come to you."

Sylmara repeated to the young Prince, and then her voice raised.

"Captain Filven." She knew that he was here. Sylmara had seen him through the eyes of a fox which now lay back in it's burrow. "I would not have arrows aimed at my guests. These weary travelers have been offered my refuge."

There was a pause, a silence, and then arrows slowly unknocked from bowstrings. A rustle of leaves, and then a dozen paces ahead of her an elf of lithe grace and noble stature dropped down to the floor. He wore an odd cloak, it's cloth seeming to shift in hues of green and all the time adjusting. His eyes fixed on Sylmara, and then flickered towards the party behind her.

"Princess. Your father wou-"

He offered her a deep bow.

"My father is not here, and I have offered the Prince of Keirvarn a place of rest." There was a sternness to her tone, command that could have come from the General of a battlefield. "I do not think he would turn away the son of his dear friend."

Filven raised from his bow, looking at Sylmara and then slowly panning his gaze towards Arwyn. For a moment his eyes lingered, and then he looked at Kaius. Recognition crossed his features, and then he bowed his head.

"Of course, my Lady."

A bird call echoed seamlessly from his lips, and a dozen elves dressed in the same shifting forest greens dropped from the canopy.
 

Arwyl Minras

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Arwyl gave an overly elaborate bow to the elven guards as they melted away. His own troupe didn't move any differently, but there was a shift in the tension they each carried in stillness.

His group had been on the move for years. It had made them hard. They were no honour guard for the Prince, but they fought like demons when backed into a corner.

"A pleasure to meet you captain Filven," Arwyl added.

This was quite a large patrol they had found. It made him wonder how large this outpost was. He had never known there was one so close to their regular routes.

"Been a while since we had a nice roof for more than a night at a time Kaius," he mused.
 
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Riley

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Even though Riley was very much an outsider within the band of elves and orc rebels, she felt more like she belonged than she had at the Academy. It was a strange feeling. And if she felt any surprise at the princess keeping her word, she didn't show it.

Riley more than half expected to be clapped in iron and chains the moment they ran into her people - or whatever it was that elves used to keep prisoners. So far though, the most she had to contend with was being ignored. And perhaps a curious look or narrowing of eyes from Filven and his men.

That quick smell of ozone dissipated in the air as she lowered her magic. Fingers eased off the hilt of her knives and fell to her sides. For once, she was quiet and observant as she would follow the others into this hidden, magical, and forbidden land.
 

Kaius

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Kaius sighed and gave a tense nod at Sylmara’s answer. They’d only be staying one night, they’d have to hope that word was slow enough to get to the King and that they’d be long enough gone by the time it did.

As the Princess called for Captain Filven, his brow rose and his eyes settled on the elf as he approached and bowed. His chin dipped as the man’s gaze met his own. He looked up into the canopy as elves started dropping from it and he smiled to himself, remembering what it was like to protect a home like they were, to have an army at his back.

He couldn’t help but give Arwyl a scowl at his comment.. “Aye and who’s fault is that?..” he asked under his breath, forcing a casual smile.

He gave Riley a gentle nudge at her silence, offering the woman a reassuring smile as he continued forward. As he reached the Captain, the two grinned and clasped arms, two friends from a life long past.

“It’s been a while my friend.” Kaius laughed and patted the elf hard on the shoulder.
 

Sylmara

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Filven offered the young Prince a smile, though Sylmara was already walking ahead of them on the bare path. The young Princess didn't spare anyone, or anything a second glance. Her chin was held high, and she floated with those same lithe steps.

The other Elves that had dropped from the tree-tops quickly fell into formation around the band of Rebels, holding their bows close. It was clear that some of them were still tense, but most seemed to relax when Kaius called Filven a 'friend'.

"A century, it seems like."

Filven said as he motioned for them to follow after the Princess.

"I thought for sure you were dead."

They would walk through the forest for some time, some of the Elven Guards speaking with their brethren while Sylmara lead the group. The forest seemed to shimmer and shift as they walked, the trees themselves oddly flowing away.

Eventually the sound of falling water began to echo out, and beyond the last clearing of trees their destination came into fiew.
 
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Arwyl Minras

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“Aye and who’s fault is that?..”
Arwyl had been willing to release Kaius from his obligations, to take the retirement he deserved. Kaius seemed to think that he didn't have the power to rescind his mother's last wishes. It make Arwyl wonder if he was going to have Kaius around until the end of days. Kaius had done more than enough. He truly did deserve his rest.

"Well that is a dramatic view," Arwyl said as he stepped through the veil of trees.

He realised that his walking gait was affected by the day. There was a lot that needed to catch up with him. They had taken a beating from the town guard, escaped a Dreadlord and looted an Anirian caravan. His body was going to be more bruise than elf by the time the night rolled around.

He didn't want to lower expectations of manners by asking about food already, but he truly hoped a good meal was on the cards.
 

Riley

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A quick half-smile to Kaius before he strode ahead to talk to the Captain. She hadn't eaten since the hare she'd caught in the woods about a day ago. And like Arwyl, she felt the fatigue of the fight starting to seep into her bones, the last dredges of the adrenaline starting to slip away.

Even at that view.

At least Arwyl and Kaius weren't bickering as much in the presence of this uppity princess. That was one thing going for her. "So is this place guarded against us leaving like it was for us to get in?" She let the question hang in the air, voice loud enough so others could hear but not directed at any one of them.
 

Kaius

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"At least.." Kaius smirked at the Captain and walked with him as they continued along the path, catching up and reminiscing, introducing Riley and sharing stories with her and Arwyl as they walked. By the time they passed through the veil of trees and his eyes settled on their destination, his cheeks dimpled with a grin and he sighed a sound of pure happiness.

"A dramatic sight for some really fucking sore eyes.." he muttered to himself in response to Arwyl's comment and shot the elf a smile. Perhaps he'd like it so much he'd remember what it was like to have a home and build a new one instead of forever seeking vengeance for the destruction of the last... One could dream...

"I'm sure we can leave whenever we please, Sparky." Kaius smirked at her and sighed.. "Not that I'd complain if we were forced to stay." he added a little quieter to her with a subtle wink.
 

Sylmara

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"You may never want to leave." Sylmara commented idly as they reached the edge of a cliff opposite the small city.

There was amusement on her face as she said the words, though her head shook as she gazed at the outpost her people had built so long ago. A breath filled her, and then Captain Filven slowly stepped up besides her expectantly.

A second passed, and then Syl raised her hand.

There was an odd shimmer within the air, and then suddenly a bridge of brilliant marble white came into being before them. It arched over the vast cliff and connected to the other side. The Princess turned, and then motioned for them to cross. "I will go last."

She offered them all a small smile.
 

Arwyl Minras

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"Now that's just showing off," Arwyl remarked, but he was grinning.

It was easy to forget, when you spent most of your time in the open air on the run, what wonders the elves were capable of making.

Though such secrecy was now a requirement rather than a luxury. His own town had been out in the open. That was why it was gone.

"Will our orcish and human friends be left alone whilst we are here?" he asked. He didn't even meet Riley's gaze as he turned to their host.

His leadership might not have manifested to Kaius' expectations but it was there. Riley was with their group and as far as he was concerned under his protection for now. He did actually care about all those running with his band, no matter how they got there.
 

Sylmara

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Sylmara glanced back at Arwyl, almost annoyed that the question was een asked. "We're not like them."

The gaze that she offered him could have cut through glass. It was almost as though the question Arwyl had asked insulted her. In her mind the Princess had already answered that question some time ago. Those invited by her word would be safe.

Even if they were of lesser birth.

"You have been gone for too long, Arwyl." She frowned deeply. "You've forgotten who we are."

She put emphasis on the word of their species. Filven looked slightly uncomfortable for a moment, but Sylmara simply gazed at her fellow royal, green eyes fixated on him.
 

Riley

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She frowned at Kaius and his wink.

"That's not funny," she dead-panned with a small huff. Eyes shifted, catching a sympathetic glance from one of the other elves in Arwyl's band before he quickly averted his attention. Seemed like he was a little scared of Kaius.

Her lips twitched.

And though the prince hadn't looked at her, she'd heard his words. Friends? She'd never had them before. And she felt a tinge of the weight she'd been carrying on her shoulders start to melt off. Just a little. Coming from Arwyl it meant a great deal and she quickly turned away even before the Princesss gave her answer.

Riley stepped onto the bridge first. Eh, if it was a trap at least her death to the bottom would be swift. As she walked closer to the city, she was met by the spray and mists of the waterfalls. And soon after, her feet touched upon solid ground of the small metropolis. She couldn't help the tilt of her head upward, marveling slightly at the architecture. Where Anirian buildings were constructed for purpose, force, and intimidation, these were beautifully crafted more-like a piece of art.

Smells of freshly baking food and the tang of ripe fruits she'd never smelled before hit her nose. Music and sounds that seemed to mess with her head filled her ears. Songs that suddenly made her want to sob, dance, laugh harder than she ever had, or fall asleep.

There was definitely some kind of ancient magic at work here and she'd have to be careful not to get swept up in it. And she wondered if it was all hitting her more strongly because she was human. Perhaps. She looked to Riz, to see if the orc was sensing anything different.

He pointed ahead. "BREAD."

Nope, just the usual.
 
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