The Rising Tide

Joeyray's Bar
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OOC: Too many things to copy and paste and no one reads them anyway. The relevant information about the RP along with character sheet is linked below:

Reserved for summary. You may begin at your starting location.
King Aegr Ironwood the First stood outside his balcony. It was a spectacular view of the whole city of Avora. From his tower, nothing could escape Aegr's careful sight. A cool breeze kissed his checks. It was a fresh morning and the early spring winds was an exhilarating feeling.

There was a knock on the door. "Come in," King Aegr said.

A knight stepped inside the King's private chambers, his suit of armor silver, clear, and plain. He took off his helmet, revealing a handsome although grizzled lad. The knight bowed once. "My king, your council has requested your presence at the throne room. They say it is unwise for a king to keep his advisor waiting for too long."

King Aegr took out his golden watch locket. The hands were touching 11:55. Five more minutes before it was time to go back to business as usual. He sighed softly and closed the watch, placing it inside a side pocket on his shirt.

"Of course Sir Benedict. Come, help me put on my clothes."

"Yes my king."

"Tell me Sir Benedict," said Aegr as Benedict placed the cloak over his shoulders, "How goes the Order of the Silver Hand?"

"The Order is strong and as well as our faith in our cause. As the protectors of the King and his family, we could ask for no higher honor. You look ready to stand before your council." Benedict replied, stepping back.

Aegr straightened his sleeves and opened the door, heading for the throne chambers with Sir Benedict behind him. "Do I now? You have quite a silver tongue. How befitting of your rank and appearance!"

"You flatter me my liege."

"Do I now commander of the Silver Hand?"

Aegr sat down on his throne and looked at his audience. The six councilmen were already sitting on the council table. They were a group of advisors in the king's inner circle whose specialties were in matters of finance, foreign and domestic affairs, the law, and war.

"Forgive me for keeping you waiting. But now that I am here, let us get down to business. What matters demand my attention?"

A fairly fat and rounded bald man spoke, "We have good news to report first. The farmers of King's Valley reported higher yields of crops. We can began to replay back the Lebelon for their help. In addition, we have repaid some seventy percent of our debts to outside interests. The banks have been more willing to lend us money."

"That is good to hear Brado Steinback. So what's the urgent news?"

A middle aged man, clearly of the military, spoke, "The wildemen are proving to be a much more significant threat than we thought. Their raids are much more bolder along the country side and they retreat quickly to the Dimwoods where it is hard for us to track. They have united under one leader who calls himself Hverglk and their war band is the largest we've seen in recent years."

"How big Adat?"

"Several tens of thousands."

"Why has House Ayne not dealt with this matter?"

"They say the threat is exaggerated."

"Send the hawks to House Ayne. The Dimwoods is within their jurisdiction and I decree that they end this wildeman threat before it becomes something worse. A fettering wound can lead to the loss of a limb. We end it before it becomes a bigger problem. Now is there anything else?"

There was a moment of silence.

"The fire hawks came from the the Doam's royal family. Your eldest son died visiting Doam with his wife."
Aegr Ironwood- age 51
Year-585, 7 years after Aegr took the throne
1 wife, 3 sons, several illegitimate children (unknown)
Extended family line back at Mesorath
Well, that was a brain fart...I'll start in some woods, preferably not the ones with the wildemen.

IC: I rode my horse silently through the forest, morning just coming over the horizon as I went. I didn't care where I ended up, just so long as I could find work. People like me were rare and far between, though usually more social. Not me. I had been shunned from a young age and the only love I knew was that of my parents, who had both died in a fire early last year, shortly after father had given me my weapon, the rapier at my waist. I had been at the inn that night, looking for my first job. I'd been alone ever since. The forest around me slowly came to life, the birds singing their morning songs and flitting about, foxes, squirrels and other small game animals ran across the path and between the trees. I sang softly to myself, a lullaby my mother had taught me when I was still young, letting the memories fill the loneliness I'd grown accustomed to in my life. "Another hour of riding," I whisper, "and I'll be in the next town." I was in the territory of House Remnani, but I rarely got the attention of the Great Houses.
The sounds of the waves crashed upon rock and the wooden hull of most ships that sailed the sea and ocean. Most of them were fishermen just trying to live their way of life like they had always had since the beginning of their birth in this land. Nets cast against the sky as fish by the dozens were caught and hauled up onto the ship. Ready to be shipped off to the markets around the Stormwinds, mainly Ferrlon.

Dark clouds began to form five miles away... It was going to storm and the crewmen began to yell at each other as the gust of wind was ready to take them back to port.

Market folk were busy tending their stalls when they saw the clouds forming... Yet another day of business was closed off for the outside vendors. The guards of the port were ferrying men and women to stay inside to be safe, for any other time they would let them out... But this felt different.. This storm carried an ominous feeling. If only there could be beauty to be shone to this port town.

A fireplace was lit as a girl sat next to it, reading a book as her tutor taught her some more basics in control. The glow of the fire lighting up the room to show a bed, desk with a couple of painting hung up beside it. With a window showing the rolling seas.

A boy spotted a girl on a horse, walking down the path to what seemed to be of the port named Ferrlon... His home. Carrying what appeared to be dead beavers in his hand, he made a whistling sound while in the brush of the forest. It was of a singing bird before stepping out into the path. Setting his catch down while he waved his hand. "Hello there! Where are you going, I might be able to help direct you." The boy said. The smell of a storm hit his nostrils. "Smells like a storm."
I look at the young man. "Where I go is of my business. I will let you know it isn't far however." While waiting for his response, I evaluated him. He was young, strong. The army would likely draft him if there was a war. Such a sad life for one so young.
The boy had a bow on his back... A hunter it seemed but the animals he carried in his hand showed that he was a trapper. "Ferrlon... That's where you are going then. It's the main port town of this island... As well as my home," he says, "and where my House is." He looked up into the sky, seeing dark clouds rolling in, his nose was right. "Yes... It's going to storm... I have to get ready to go back before it worsens," he says, pointing his finger up to the sky.

His hand was brought out, it was stained with blood and had bits of fur and grease on it. "Name is Jeromy... Of House Remnani."
I nod to the boy. "Amy Corsin, mercenary. I would be heading to Ferrlon, yes. And once the storm ends, I'll be returning to the main land." I flicked the reins slightly and the horse started walking again. "I am not worried about the storm either. I have...talents, that protect me from certain elements of storms."
"Amy... Then I'm glad you aren't criticizing us Stormwinds like everyone else on the mainland... Our House and the people of these islands truly didn't know that our king, the king that we sided... was mad to the core." The birds quit chirping as they flew away, drops of rain hitting the dirt road and soon it will turn into mud as more drops of rain came down from the heavens. "Talents... I just hope the fishermen can get back to port in time... We need the coin the fishing brings us,' Jeromy says with little care in the world. Picking his trappings up as he walks down the dirt road. Trees swaying in the wind as some leaves came fluttering in the wind. He would walk to Ferrlon, just like Amy but for a different reason.
"That war happened when I was but a young lass, so who was on who's side doesn't matter to me." I disliked the man's company, but was not about to leave him. If he was a son of the Remnani House leader, it would be foolish to do so.
"I forget how old I was... I try not to keep it pinned to me. But it makes me feel pained at times that the people... With our Navy being taken down to only 20 ships by order of the new king... More pirates are on the loose and my father had to resort to bribing most of them or hiring privateers... Each costing a wealthy sum of coinage. And we can't do anything about it... At this point I wouldn't be surprised if he tried to hire the pirates into a private Navy." Jeromy says carefully, "while I help my part... Selling these pelts to the local merchants and traders as I bring the meat to the poor that can't afford even fish or grain."

Fixed it.

IC: "Then you do what you think is right. I can respect you for that." I fall quiet until Ferrlon is in sight. "I bid thee farewell, child of the Remnani house. Might fortune smile upon you." With that, I spur the horse into a trot and vanish among the crowds at the gate, my white hair showing briefly as the hood of my cloak fell before I could put it back up.
Jeromy caught glimpse of the hair... Shrugging it off... Not wanting to get involved with most mainland dwellers for their views upon the Stormwinds, but she was different. And once she had gotten out of sight where she could hear Jeromy he said, "Yeah... If only we were given a true choice instead of one forced upon us all... Hiring pirates... "

One of the fishing boats came crashing into the port, causing panic as waves came washing up above the wooden port. Sending fish and supplies scattering into the water, crewmen scrambling to grab onto something. Guards rushing towards the boat. Lightning flashing across the skies. Hitting the mast of the ship. Catching on fire as the crewmen rushed to get off the ship.

The young girl from earlier in our story had put her book down and was staring out onto the port. Watching the chaos ensue... She was only 13 and yet there was sadness in the way her voice was, "So it's true... The gods are punishing us as well..," she says with a sad voice, tears dripping down her eyes.
The mage watching the chaos as well... A tired expression was worn on his face. "Yes... If that's the case, yes they have." The mage said as he sat down on a lovely chair crafted by some of the best carpenters of this realm. His robes being tattered and dirty at certain parts from experiments. "Child... I believe we are done with the education this day. The weather doesn't seem to agree with everything that's going on, " he said with a friendly manner, "come to me if you need any help with your studies."

The girl gave a hearty nod. Watching the activity outside as the wind was bearing down harder than before.

The mage left the room and to his own quarters in a section of the basement.

All of a sudden the bells of the town began to chime throughout the slicing winds of death. The bells never rang unless someone was warning the town or the wind did it... But the bell usually meant warning to the people. Panic ensued throughout the town, vendors packing up shop quickly as homeowners rushed for the safety of their home. A sloped barrier helping to prevent flooding, but it might fail this day and flood the town.
I draw a long bar of white hot Mithril and place it over the anvil. I quickly grab a 25 pound 'Mjolnir' hammer and begin to pound away. I quickly begin to shape the bar into leaf-bladed shape I wished for my sword. The forge was sweltering but I was used to it. The metal became too cold to work and I place it back into the coals. Several minutes later during which time I had gotten some water as a bit of relief from the heat. I draw the partially finished blade from the fire and return to hammering away. After several hours of this process the final hammer blow for the day rings out and then the sound of water and oil sizzling. I look at the beautiful yet simple blade to be. The crest which adorns any product of my families blacksmith was stamped near where the hilt would go. I place the sword to be on my work bench and check it for cracks or other breaks. Finding none I head into the house as my brothers and father continue to work on their own projects or on something that had been commissioned.
Kendric looks upon the note from the King's Valley. He cursed. The wild men's numbers are greatly exaggerated. He thinks. They will fade away, they always do. But I suppose I will have to send the Geest regiment to deal with them. They have always had the best abilities in the forest. Kendric sits on his wool padded chair within the small living space. Though not today shall I organize them and send them out. Sometime within the next few sunrises.

The open window let the sunlight shine into the room. There were several chairs, and a couch sitting in the room, all of which being padded with wool and furs. Paintings of the currently living family of Ayne sat on the walls, and one of the dog they had up until a few years ago when the reaper took him. He had died in his sleep, one many wish, for it lacks any fear, it simply happens. A new hound was to be gotten this day, to fill the void the last had left, but it was too early to do so, for the sun had only risen an hour ago.

Kara was standing in the library, focusing on a ceramic pot, filled with a greenish water from one of the marshes. A tentacle slowly rose from the water until all the water was within it. It's base diameter easily ten centimeters and it stood about a meter tall. The nearby lit torches cast shadows of the dancing tentacles all along the library. Kara waved her arm and the tentacle whipped at a torches, dousing the flame. It then resumed its dancing position for a few moments before Kara allowed it to fall and her focus slackened. The wizard that was purchased into the Ayne's service praises her. "A job well done, young one."

"Thank you, master Lee." Kara replied appropriately, and this made the wizard smile at being called a master.

"I would say that you have mastered this art. But remember, the larger the tentacle the more focus and energy will have to go into it, and the same goes for amount of time sustained." Lee reminds her.

"I remember such, you don't need to keep reminding me of such, master." Kara responds, obviously not liking being treated like a forgetful child. She was a youth, but not forgetful.

"I am just doing so because I have to. Plus we cannot let you kill yourself by expending too much energy, that wouldn't end well for me." Lee responds.

"Or me!" Kara exclaims.

Harris sits in a shaded spot in the courtyard. Sweat ran down his face and his hands were blackened from his recent work at the forge. He had worked on the steel blade for a battleaxe, it was not yet finished, in fact is was just put into the desired shape so far. Next to him there was a table with various raw materials. Such were some iron ore, copper ore, some coal, and even a slight amount of pyrite. He had not dared tried to forge the pyrite, it was just something he liked to look over everyone in a while. A servant in a blue dress hurried over to him holding a mug filled with the juice of a orange, one of the fruits that blossomed in the Vale. "Thank you." He says with a polite nod.

"Your welcome, my lord." The woman replied before heading back to the house.

The servants of Ayne House were treated nicely. They each had a small room with soft beds and blanketed with warm furs. They were provided fitting clothing, and tasteful food and drink at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They were not even treated as servants, except for the fact that they would provide services to the Ayne House. They were not payed, for they had all they needed, and sometimes were given something they would request. Though there were not many, only nine in fact, if you do not include the wizard/tutor.

At the northern most gate there stood a tall blossoming tree, covered in pink flowers. In one of the branches sat a young man with a boy and a quiver on his back. He was Darren, the middle son of Kendric. He had a hunting knife strapped to his thigh and he looked down upon the guards. Daren had hidden himself there since just before dawn, waiting for the perfect chance to surprise the guards, and it was finally his chance. The two guards that stood at the gate were relieved of their duty and went back to the barracks for rest. The two new ones were completely blissful of Darren sitting above them.

Darren threw a little pebble behind them and they turned around to see what it was. The boy then dropped down behind them as they had their backs turned and when they turned back to see Darren they jumped back a little. "Boy, why are you always fooling with us?" One of them asks with his spear raised.

"Because it isn't droll." Darren answers. "And you two just happen to be on duty the most when I do so."

The guard sighs. "Will you please stop doing so?"

"Perhaps, perhaps not." Darren answers. He passes by the guards and heads back to his home.

Sierra sits in her room and works at her loom. Her hands move swiftly and effortlessly as she works on another dress, something she found much enjoyment doing. Sierra moves her long brown hair out of her face as she works. The fireplace in her room casts a orange glow over her face, and her windows were shut. In her room is the loom, at which she worked. Her bed, which had a beautiful green silk sheet with a golden blossom embroidered on it, that alone took her days to do. A large wardrobe sat next to the bed with a the doors having a vine pattern carved into them. On either side trees were put within the wood. It was something that had been given to the Ayne's by woodworkers several generations ago, and within it were all the dresses, blouses, and skirts Sierra had created. Pushed to the side in a corner was a desk with a chair with a quill and inkwell sitting atop it and much parchment sat within the drawers, which had handles made of gold.

Kalvir was in the marshes, his Adamantine greatsword sat on his back, ready to be drawn. Kalvir had decided to go through the marsh, just for some time away from the rabble of Natte Hart. He passed by a dead tree and has a double take. He realizes he is next to the Afval Moeras, the Waste Marsh. Here everything was dead, except for its one resident, a conjurer. One he specifically was one who dabbled in the arts of necromancy. Kalvir moves back and retreats farther into the marshy living landscape. The necromancer would kill any who came into his section of the marsh. He did not attack the town, and did not prove a threat to any who are wise, so no men were wasted on trying to kill him. Kalvir swiftly moved through the marsh, back to Natte Hart, completely unaware of the footprints of men.
Hearing the bells, I don't stir from the hay loft I was in, instead creating a few simple wards that would protect myself and the horses from the flooding. The inn keeper hadn't questioned why I wished to stay in the stable, and had not even asked for coin, though I had offered it. I suppose being the only White Wolf in the world helped with my reputation. Sighing both in loneliness and contentedness, I fell asleep, the rain a calming presence as it fell.
A soldier dressed in black armor woke up in the corner of a inn. Cecil sat up and yawned slightly. The innkeeper said, "Hey, how was the nap?"
Cecil looked up, and murmured, "Fine."
The innkeeper laughed, "you saved my life. Stay anytime you want.
"Any rumors?"
" a few kidnapped girls. Some day bandits. Others some things far more sinister."
Cecil smiled.
"Anything based in reality?"
As the two discussed, a man walked in garbed in black armor. "I am Cedric, the black sword! Defender of villages! Give me your best drink on the house! I deserve it! If you don't I might raid this place myself!"
The innkeeper looked incredulously at the man. He started to protest when Cecil hushed the innkeeper.
The knight smiled, how should that imitator be harassed?

"Let us welcome our newest brother! Here is Miriam! He will show his mettle, his belief in destruction!"
A hooded man stood in the center of the room. Underneath the dark hood a pair of silver eyes glanced around the room. Soul smiled, infiltrating was easier than he expected. He had seen better doomsday cults. After the head priest shouted a few more comments, the group dissolved. After the doomsday cult left the building hidden in the mountains, Soul smiled.
After he left he doubled back and slipped back into the building.
The royal spy walked through the rooms. His footsteps soft and soundless.
He wandered though the building, checking doors. Eventually Soul found a door that was different.
The spy smiled, his intuition was buzzing. Kneeling down, he removed a pair of lock picks. After a few minutes of fiddling, it clicked. The door opened. Through the light that filtered in, Soul saw a piece of a ring of blood. His eyes narrowed. He took a few steps inside, and shut it behind him. If he did this with the door open, he would get noticed. Soul started to chant, his song whispering like the wind. After three minutes, the room became as cold as ice. In Soul's palm was a glowing ball of light.
On the ground was a circle of blood, and a star painted within it. In the corner was a rotting skeleton.
Soul looked a little disgusted. "So this was where the kidnapped people went."
After a few minutes of inspection, he knelt and felt the blood circle. Soul thought, "The blood is scarlet. This circle was used in sacrifice recently, or at least prepared for one. The skeleton was too old to have been used as the sacrifice. There were three kidnapped. One was dead, the skeleton matched, probably an old sacrifice. The second was used in the most recent one, explaining the recent drops of blood. Where were the other one?"
Soul after a few minutes of thinking, felt a gust. The spy whirled around. There was no way any wind could get in. Soul walked over to the other side of the room, and felt it with his fingers. A sliver. A hidden door?
He slid his ear against the door. On the other side, he could hear breathing. Ragged breaths. After a few minutes he pried the door with a knife. A young girl was breathing, she was barely twelve years old. Soul reached out, and suddenly she pulled back. "No... It can't be my turn yet. No!"
Soul placed his hand over her mouth. He hissed, "I am here to help. Do you have a family?"
She shook her head.
Soul whirled around. Footsteps.
The girl froze. Soul drew his knife. The high priest walked alone through the doors. Soul closed his hand, the light extinguished. Cut off the head, the body will die. Soul twirled the knife around. He wanted answers, and then the priest would die.

As the priest entered the sacrifice room, he sensed a presence. A small flame of magic of a person's soul resided in the corner. Raising a staff, the priest started to pump energy into it. Then the staff shattered. The energy being gathered went into an extreme backlash, burning the internal organs of the priest. After a few seconds of screaming, he shouted, "But how! There was only one person..."
Standing before him was Soul, the being in the corner was the pale girl.
"You Miriam! What is this!"
"That is not necessary for me to tell. Tell me everything about the girl, the purpose of the doomsday cult. You are fated to die. The backlash guarantees it. But I decide if I should stab you mercifully, or let you suffer."

The priest grit his teeth. "Never!"
Soul smiled devilishly. The knife came down on the priest's shoulder.
There was another cry.
"Tell me!"
"It was to make a vessel! We needed a powerful mage!"
"So what did you do!" Soul shouted, twisting the blade.
"Used scraps of flesh, for the code, and used magic to mutate the existing!"
"Was it successful?"
"I don't know!"
Soul whispered, "Anything else? Coward?"
The spy slammed his knife against the man's skull.

Then he turned to the girl. "Come on. I will take care of you. Do you have a name?"
"I don't know."
"I have to report back. Follow me to the royal house. They could help if they are generous. If not, you can always come with me. You are evidence, and I always take good care of that."
(Can I use this character as a third. No name, no backstory, and nothing yet.)
Anyways, can't post often.
I realize today is not one of the official days, but I haven't posted yet.

John Heartstone stood upon one of the outer balconies of the castle. The cool, smooth stone felt good against his bare feet, and he leaned comfortably against a pillar.

Most would not have found hard stone comfortable, but John was a Heartstone. To them, there was nothing finer than stone. The peasants said they slept on beds of granite... an exaggeration. Still, the young man had passed many nights on a rock when away from the castle, and his elders considered him soft.

From the castle's position built into the side of the mountain, and his particular position at one of its highest points, he could see quite a ways out into the surrounding lands. He saw hemispherical layers of the villages below progressing outward like the age-rings of a tree, the faint verdance of the sparse forests that surrounded the mountain. His keen eyes could pick out the scurrying blips of the villagers within the town.

In particular, he watched a single figure making its way out of the town's far edge. Focusing, he could tell that the person was on horseback and dressed in forest green and navy blue, the house colors.

Emmanuel Heartsone the Second, no doubt. Even a Heartstone's eyes couldn't distinguish his diminutive form at that distance, but he was right on schedule. It was undoubtedly him.

Another blip mades its way out of a nearby stand of trees, also on horseback. The two stopped a moment, greeting each other, then continued on together.

That was Li, obviously. His identity was discernible for a similar reason. No doubt he'd been goodbying his peasant lover in a sufficiently emotional manner. John snorted. Li was loyal, but stupid. Smart, but stupid, if that was possible. Perhaps naive was a better word. Did he honestly think nobody knew he was seeing a peasant girl? John wasn't sure who it was, he could hardly be expected to keep track of the assortment of female peons that lived in the Stoneberg's shadow, but it was still obvious. Li would come to a bad end if he continued that way. The Baron would not approve at all. Fortunately for the lad the Baron and his sons seemed too busy backstabbing each other to care.

John was lucky enough to have a neatly arranged marriage all set up, and better yet his wife was both comely and especially quiet. He probably would have picked her himself. Ming had been brooding continuously lately and had no time to set such things up. The Baron had briefly fancied that Li ought to be married and began speaking to Lynn Laughlin's father about a match, but it was just one of his passing fancies.

Li, in his typical idiotic fashion, was relieved. Relieved! Lynn was one of the fairest women in Mesorath, and was plenty rich as well. Li claimed he couldn't abide her cold stare, her haughtiness. Fool. John valued Li as a friend and asset, but sometimes...

The man contained his fury, only to have it renewed. Why were Li and Em of all people being sent to the King's Valley? Naive Li and stupid Emmanuel. Within the week Em would make a fool of himself and Heartstone, and while Li could handle the politicians he was no match for the ladies of court. He could barely speak in a lady's presence without stammering, and his eyes usually remained fixed on the floor in those circumstances.

He knew the reasons. Emmanuel I was back in Georg's favor. Typical of him, he requested that his son be sent as a representative despite the fact he was the worst person for the task. Naturally someone must have insisted that he not go alone, so Li went as well. Why not John? He knew, factually and without bias, that he was the best pick. Yet here he remained, and he knew the reason for that as well: the Baron was angry with his father.

Such was politics. John had some plans of his own to change things for his better. He turned, his blue cape swishing, and waled back into the cools dimness of the Stoneberg.


"I'll wager that was John up there."


Li breathed a sigh of exasperation. "Atop the Stoneberg."

"Who? What?"

The lad shook his head at his cousin's ignorance. "Never mind. 'Twas nothing."

"Oh." Emmanuel looked back at the road. "How far is it again?"

"You know I have no idea for distance. I just know how to get there, I don't know how many miles it is." It was true. Li could find his way back to anywhere he'd been, but anywhere he hadn't... there was none worse with a map.

"But it is this way?"

"That I know."
OOC: Posting day! Textwall cannons armed.

Eriel Ileris stood at the top of the highest tower in the city of Athernae, sweeping the land around him with his eyes. The sun was bright against a clear grey blue sky, though it was still bitterly cold, especially at this altitude. As usual in the White Lands.

A storm was on the horizon, but far away, closer to the land of House Remnani. The Bay of Glass was perfectly still and clear as always, and Eriel could see all the way to the glowing deposits of mana on the bottom. Several of the Athernaen navy's ships were preparing to launch, supplies and crew being loaded on to them. Far in the distance, a pair of pirate ships were passing by. They gave the bay a wide berth however, having learned long ago to avoid Athernaen ships.

A gust of wind blew past him, flowing invisibly over the magical barrier he had covered himself with. It wouldn't do to have the leader of House Ileris die from falling off a tower. He came up here often, during those periods where there was just nothing that needed to be done. Now was such a time. Well, there was to be a council meeting in four hours, but that was in four hours.

A flash of light from the edge of the city caught Eriel's eye. Richard Ileris, his eldest brother, had just incinerated a small animal passing by his house with a fireball. Typical of him. He was... odd. Not like Eriel's wife Veria, who was rarely seen and always seemed to be doing something or other that even he had only a vague idea of, but he liked killing things, especially with fire. When an animal passed by their house, most people would either ignore it or shoot it for food. Not Richard though, he would rather burn it to ash for no practical purpose. He had even been rejected from the council, because he preferred to solve diplomatic issues with fire instead of words and there was the concern that he might spark a war by killing someone from another house. Eriel typically just turned a blind eye to his brother, having absolutely no idea what to do with him. So long as he relegated his destructive impulses to wild animals and not people or domesticated messenger birds, he could be tolerated.

The wind was picking up now, and though a shield from wind took little energy to produce, it was tiring to maintain it for extended periods of time. Eriel opened the door to the tower, took one more look at the land below, and descended the stairs, closing the door behind him.

Zaraiel Eleris leaned over a table in his study, a thick book opened to a page about the properties of Vandarium. Beside the book, several samples of ores and crystals sat on the table, including a large piece of pure Vandarium ore mined from the Barriers recently. He pulled out a set of equipment from a chest against the wall, composed of a small hammer, a stationary magnifying glass with a base and pivots, a small obsidian knife, an Adamantine blade, five vials full of different coloured fluids, several small instruments for grasping and manipulating, a notebook, and an unmarked wooden box. He placed the items carefully on the table, organizing them to leave as much space as possible to work.

Zaraiel placed the magnifying glass at the top of the table, adjusting the pivots so that it is positioned over the Vandarium. He opened the notebook to a blank page and pulled a bright orange quill and a bottle of black ink out of his pocket, opening the bottle and setting it in the corner of the table, before dipping the end of the quill in the dark fluid. He marked down the date in the top left corner of the page, titling this entry as "Vandarium - Properties and Observations".

Zaraiel deposited the quill in the bottle of ink, picking up the hammer first. He looked through the magnifying glass at the Vandarium shard before carefully aiming the hammer at the center of it and hitting it with moderate force. The stone hammer bounced off of the metal, a reverberating !@#$ing sound filling the room before dying off a few seconds later. He examined the hammer through the lens, revealing a small fracture in the iron head. The Vandarium appeared to be undamaged, the only cracks it having been in existence since before the piece of rare metal was mined. He noted these results in the book, and then continued to test the metal with the various things arrayed on the table.

The obsidian knife shattered against the stronger material, with the Adamantine blade damaging it, but only slightly. Only one of the liquids contained in the vials had any effect whatsoever; a glowing blue and highly corrosive substance called Alericite that was harvested from the refined sap of the rare Alericus Pine. This did significant damage to the metal, a drop from the vial burning a hole a good way through the Vandarium, but expending its volume and vaporizing before it had a chance to pass fully though the metal. A stray drop of fluid leaked off of the metal and landed on the table, burning through it almost instantly before landing on the stone floor, resting there as it evaporated. Zaraiel made note of these as well, his hand moving quickly across the page as he wrote down his results.

Having moved away the other items, Zaraiel picked up the last thing he wanted to test, contained within the small, unmarked wooden box. He carefully picked the box up in his hands and opened the lid. Inside was a piece of pure Pyrite about the size of an avocado, shaped like a giant arrowhead, and razor sharp at the tip. Zaraiel put the box down on the table and pulled a pair of thick leather gloves out of his pocket, putting them on his hands to prevent injury from the lethal sharpness of the Pyrite's edges. He carefully put his hands into the box, grabbing the piece of Pyrite by the flat end. The tip barely grazed the box as it was lifted out, creating a small cut in the wood from even that momentary touch.

Careful not to touch the sharp edges even with the gloves on, Zaraiel raises the Pyrite over the shard of Vandarium, aiming the sharp tip downwards before releasing it. There is a scraping sound as the two rare ores collide, and a small fragment hits Zaraiel's arm, causing him to wince in pain, pressing the wound against his robe to absorb the trickle of blood. He turned back to the table to look at the ores, the Pyrite having penetrated the Vandarium entirely and gone partway through the work table. Zaraiel reached to extract the Pyrite with his uninjured arm, and it came out easily, the sharp edges cleanly cutting through anything that would have offered resistance. He held the piece of ore under the magnifying glass, rotating it as he examined it for damage. The Pyrite, it seemed, was almost entirely unaffected from the impact. Having put the ore back into its box, Zaraiel went back to his notebook and wrote a few more lines of script. He cleared the table, putting every item back into its respective place, before closing the notebook and leaving the study. His father would want to see these notes; he was very interested in the use of Pyrite as a weapon. Judging by his tests a moment ago, it would be very effective if a good way was ever found to shape it.
Ciara Ileris stood on one of the docks extending into the Bay of Glass, watching the crates of ballista bolts and other equipment being loaded onto the Kestrel. There was a faint but distinctive sound from just beyond the bay's entrance of a ship passing by, and she looked over the water to see two pirate vessels sail by. Hence what the ballista bolts would be for. They would be departing in a few minutes.

As admiral of the Athernaen navy, Ciara held almost high a rank as Eriel Ileris, and was permitted to do almost anything involving the navy as long as she informed Eriel of it and it did not go against direct orders from him. If she did something that Eriel he did not approve of, she would find out after the fact, well, unless it was urgent enough for him to send a bird to seek her out. They both knew each other well however, and there was a mutual trust that the system would not be exploited. However, she still had yet to inform him.

Ciara reached into her pocket, pulling out a slip of paper, an envelope, and a special quill that contained the ink inside of it. Resting the paper on one of the crates that was waiting to be loaded, she wrote down a message quickly in small, crisp handwriting.

Taking the Kestrel and two other frigates out for a while, two days maximum. Several pirate ships have passed by the bay in the direction of House Remnani in the last hour, and I am almost certain that they have a base or staging area in that direction. While they are easy for us to deal with, the surrounding lands have more trouble with their raids, and clearing their encampment out would be a service to all. Their ships are eyesores for me to look at when they pass anyways.

We may be able to buy ourselves some goodwill with House Remnani while we're there; we should be arriving at the edge of their territory just after the storm on the horizon passes them and it's likely that pirates would take advantage of their weakened defenses, especially with their restricted navy. They will most likely need our help, and we might as well make some friends.

In all honesty, even though we're doing fine on our own and I know that you prefer to remain independent, House Ileris needs to have more contact with the other Great Houses. Our military is strong, but if, say, three other houses joined forces against us for some reason, it is unlikely that we would be able to stand against them. We cannot be isolated forever.

P.S. Just to make sure you know, Zirian and I will both be absent from today's high council meeting. Please let the others know so that they are not surprised.

- Signed, Ciara Ileris, admiral

She put the note into the envelope before calling for a courier - a bird was unnecessary for this short a distance - , who looked and walked over to her.

"Message for Eriel Ileris." She handed the note over, along with ten silver coins. "Make sure he gets this."

"I will," he said, casting a glance at the money in his hand before depositing it in a pocket "Especially with payment like this."

The courier ran off towards the keep, putting the envelope securely in his satchel.

That done, Ciara walked over to another nearby dock, each side of which was occupied by one of the ships that would be accompanying the Kestrel.

"All equipment aboard and ready to leave?" she called to the crews of the two frigates, the Javelin and the Rapier. The captains of both vessels in turn nodded and gave a thumbs up to signify that their ships were prepared to launch. "All right then", she said, "follow the Kestrel out of harbour once we launch. We'll start by going after those ships that passed a few minutes ago."

They gave Ciara a quick salute before going back to the controls of their respective ships and hollering orders to the crew. She went back to the Kestrel, climbing up the ramp that folded down from the side of the ship and closing it behind her. The Kestrel was one of the only ships in the Athernean fleet which had a fully enclosed bridge, and it extended several meters upwards from the deck like a small tower, complete with magically reinforced windows that gave almost 360 degrees of vision around the ship and offered a little bit more protection than standing on the deck as was necessary for other ships. The ballistae which served as the ship's primary weapons could also be controlled from the bridge by way of clockwork mechanisms in the hull beneath them that connected to two control stations inside the bridge, each consisting of a single chair, a pair of joysticks topped with buttons, and a periscope which allowed operators to have a point of view from the position of the weapon itself.

When she arrived at the ship's bridge, Ciara Ileris took her position behind the wheel and gave the order to unfurl sails and cast off from the dock. The sails opened with the throw of a lever, and crew members near the bow and stern quickly untied the ship before pulling in the ropes that had been holding it steady. That done, she summoned a moderate wind behind them to take the ship out of harbour, and those capable of using magic on the other ships followed suit. They would soon catch the pirate vessels which had passed several minutes ago; Athernean warships were capable of moving at speeds nearly twice that of most others, partially due to the fact that each one had its own wind mage stationed on board, and partially due to the fact that House Ileris spared no expense on its navy, building its ships out of the best available materials. The three frigates swiftly glided out of the Bay of Glass and were gone, leaving ripples from their passing on the surface of the smooth, clear water.

Richard Ileris sat reclining on the front porch of his house at the edge of town, stroking the small white rabbit which he kept as a pet. In his other hand he absently twirled a small fireball between his fingers, whistling almost cheerfully to himself. Truth be told however, he found it rather boring here in Athernae, especially since his brother Eriel had expressly forbidden him from destroying nearby small villages when he found out about it.

For almost anyone else, finding out that they had killed hundreds of villagers and razed their town would have warranted an execution, but he was spared due to the fact that, for one, he was Eriel's older brother and would have been leader if he had actually wanted it, and secondly because he was the only fire specialized mage in the Athernaen military. Now that he had nothing to kill however, Richard was about to go to the keep to meet his brother and ask him if he would please start a war with someone when he saw a small fox passing by.

His golden yellow eyes lit up at the sight and he immediately cast his had towards it, conflagrating the creature's head and then quickly spreading to the rest of the animal. Richard listened to the wonderful screams of death from the fox, before putting the rabbit on the chair and jumping over the railing to collect the corpse, which he proceeded to eat right where it was. Well, maybe a war could wait a little bit longer, he thought as he contemplated the idea of going hunting in the forest to the north. Maybe I have underestimated the joy of incinerating even a small animal.
Thunder booming in the clouds, lightning flashing across the heavens! Water surging onto the port as the barrier was erected just in time. Crashing against the risen stone walls. Ships colliding with each other as any ship that had not arrived yet to safety rocked against the violent waves of death. Rocks tearing apart the hulls as water surged through.

Ceodore Remnani sat at his chair. Elegant and curving just right. Made from a master craftsman. In thought as the storm destroyed his thought. Crushing it completely as one of his sons, Jeromy, walks through the main doors... Soaked to the bone as his catch was thrown onto the table... Dinner for tonight. Jeromy brought a chair next to his father and sat down. "Father... The storms are becoming worse. We can't deal with this forever and we need the help of the other Houses... But none agree with our courses of actions and now we are forever lost in the tide that is coming... We need to make an alliance with the others."

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