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#13658893 Feb 17, 2018 at 02:39 AM · Edited 4 months ago
343 Posts
Prologue: Knights

"Apollyon won't wait for an answer, Thomas."

"I know!"

A breath heaved as wood groaned beneath hard metal slaps, silver-clad hands leaning hard on a table. The armored man - Thomas - slid one to his face, rubbing the bridge of his nose. One eye opened - a swirling orb of gold and green - the other covered by a singular patch. His gaze rested on a woman with bright red hair, greenish-blue pools, clad in cloth and light armor.

"I know, Raina..." He sucked in some air, easing off and over to the woman. Their proximity was intimate, his palms coming to her shoulders. "But...our children..."

The redhead smiled gently, and entwined her fingers with his. Wordlessly, she pulled him along, through the wooden-stone mixed hallways. They stepped out onto a wooden balcony, free hands gripping the banisters. A courtyard lay before them, a stone wall with a gate far across - and a village beyond said walls.

Their home.

Down below, three young children - two girls and a boy - with hair as red as Raina milled about together: two across from each other, wooden swords and shields in hand, the last sitting on a barrel.

Wood cracked hard against each other as the swords and shields swung and block. The boy winced and flinched heavily with each strike, until the eldest girl finally swatted the shield aside and he hit the ground with a groan on his butt. The barrel girl hopped down, at his side in a near-instant and helping him stand. The other approached as well, cupping his cheek.

"Keep your shield up...I don't want to ring your head like a bell..." She smiled at his slow, shy nod, rubbing her hand up his cheek to his hair and ruffling it. She laughs at his childish batting, the other girl giggling in response.

"Good form, Cadence!"

The three shot their differing colored eyes skyward to the two adults. Blue, Green and Golden met the mixed colors of their observers.

"Thank you, mother," Cadence, the eldest, muttered with a bow.

Raina smiled, and turned her attention to the other two.

"Alex, please be the adult of your siblings and get them cleaned up for dinner."

Alex smiled over at the grumbling Cadence, half-hugging her brother's shoulders as she guided them away.

Raina turned her attention back to her husband, noting the curled corners of his mouth. Her touch on his elbow drew his attention back to her.

"Still conflicted?"

"....No," he softly admits. "This...this is for them. Only them."

A Week Later

" long will you be gone?" The little boy questioned, gripping his father's leg. His gaze wide, quivering as he looked up. Still, the older man smiled and patted at his mop of red hair.

"Long as I have to be, to keep my lands safe." Thomas eased down on one knee, and placed his hand upon his son's shoulder. "That is the Warden Oath, Damien. Stand in front of, and protect, the people and the lands of Ashfeld. With honor, and courage."

"Honor...and...courage?" The nine year old repeated, nodding with his father. Then he smiled. "Then I'll do that too! You'll see, father! I'll make you proud!"

Thomas' smile broke into a laugh, and he hugged the boy to his torso. "I already am! Of you, and your sisters."

He stood, taking his son's hand and leading him across the courtyard. An assembled troop stood by the gates, his wife beside them, with his daughters. Alexandra and Cadence shifted their attention to him when they heard his steps, and the former took Damien's hand in hers as he excitedly took his place with them.

"I do not know how long we will be, my children. But...we will endeavor to return as soon as possible." The patriarch's gaze flickered over each of them. Before they fell on his eldest, his fifteen year old. "Cadence, as my eldest, the safety of the province lay upon you. Sir Thorne and his son Gabriel will remain at your side as protectors and advisors as need be."

"I won't fail, father."

"I know you won't, Cadence...I'm proud of you, all of you."

With that, he dropped to a knee and extended his arms, and enveloped each of his children in them. With the three secured, Raina stepped around the mass and hugged them from the other side.

A parting goodbye...their last goodbye.

Ten Years Later


The high-pitched feminine voice, in tandem with a groaning of wooden wheels and the clip-clops of horses hooves, brought the Warden to a groaning awakening. His gauntleted hand combed through his messy, long black hair, gray eyes just barely covered by his bangs. An exhale and a headshake helped little to get the tiredness off his mind, so he let his head sag with his hands on his knees.

"Oh come on, Tom. It wasn't that rough of a ride."

He smirked, and looked up to a face not unlike his own - albeit far more feminine, less scarred. Her hair parted her face and wrapped around the rest of her head like a cover - her slim frame with some muscle beneath brown leathers and cloth.

"Whatever you say, Thess."

"I have proof!" the feminine twin exclaimed, and thumbed to her left, his right. His gaze followed to a Centurion - clad in black steel Praevalitana armor and with a Aquila blade in his lap - and another Warden - wrapped in copper Lederic and a Magnus-style longsword resting against his dome - snoozing beside them.

"...shhh..." Thomas scowled over to his sister, but the smirk on his lips betrayed his mirth. He looked toward the back of the wagon, at the ensemble of horses that trailed behind them - all clad in black and yellow standards. Standard colors of the Dragon's Jaw Legion, a comparatively small legion to that of the great Iron and the former Blackstone, but with Ashfeld in the way it was, order like this was a rare thing to see.

"Well you're lucky. Looks like we're going to arrive at the DJL's capital here in a few minutes."

Thomas swung himself back onto Thessalia, whom looked at a map in her hands...wait, where'd she get that?

"How can you tell? Some...special landmark we passed by?"

"Nope," she uttered with a smirk, and raised a finger ahead of the wagon. He followed it, and he groaned. How'd he miss this?

Ahead, down the dirt path they traveled, was a walled village, and beyond that - the Dragon's Jaw Keep.


They managed to awaken their companions with little effort - the Lederic-clad Warden made a small show of yawning as the Centurion quickly hopped out of the wagon and fell into step with Thomas.

"Let's hope that our Lord's intuition about the Lady of Dragon's Jaw is correct, Thomas" he muttered to the other man, his gaze on the small crowd that watched the three armored men and the leather-clad woman march by - their standards no doubt the attractor here, a faded green with hints of pink on the edges."Would be a shame if this whole trip was for nothing."

"Let's keep an open mind of this visit, yeah, Korvus?" The other Warden finally spoke up, bumping elbows with the Centurion and getting an annoyed glance in response - but the gladius-holding warrior seemed to ease off a bit and respond with a similar gesture."I don't doubt she'll listen to our pleas when she hears about what's going on beyond her walls!"

"Have a little spirit, Xavier here."

"Someone has to counter-balance your two's recklessness..." Korvus muttered under his breath.

The three men chose to ignore the snickering from Thessalia, who eagerly skipped ahead of them.

"Hello there!"

That got their attention, and they looked back up at the path they stepped upon.

Ahead, two men wait for them at the gate that led into the keep. A Warden, like them - clad in silver Horse Lord armor with a Hallida-styled sword sheathed on his him. And the other a Lawbringer - adorned in golden Haldus armor, leaning against his Eleazar poleaxe. The former took a small bow to the approaching four, before he turned his attention to his larger companion.

They only heard the tail-end of what he was saying before he turned and left, "-et her know."

"Sir Gabriel Thorne, I presume?"
#13662019 Feb 19, 2018 at 05:40 PM · Edited 4 months ago
343 Posts
Prologue: Vikings

The cold bit through her furs.

The blizzard horrifically ravaged the lands around her too, the snow piling up in heaps. Trees bent and broke under the sheer weight of it all. The world just pure white...a deadly white.

She instinctively tightened her arms around what she held onto. In return, the hands that held her ankles tightened as well.

"Don't worry...we'll...we'll find some place...warm..." His voice quivered. He was as cold as she was, no doubt. And he was doing all the walking. He was the only one of the three that wasn't wounded...


He sucked in a breath...the silence made it clear. He never spoke.

Time past, and it felt like it was an eternity before they finally stopped. She didn't even notice the snowflakes stopped landing on her. She cracked open her one eye, her good eye, as the man who carried her settled her flat against a cavern wall. He looked incredibly pale as he made her comfortable, slid his furs off his body and placed them over her. His dull green eyes full of resignation, normally black hair iced over completely.

"Someone...will...will" He muttered, twitching fingers running through her hair. She didn't say anything. She would've cried, but it felt like they had frozen over. Instead, they shared the briefest of kisses, before he shakily stood, and made his way to the mouth of the cave...

That would be the last she'd ever see of her first husband...disappearing into the howling blizzard.


She awoke later on with a jolt and a cold sweat, the furs that covered her falling into her lap. She instantly caught on to the change of surroundings, rubbing her hands against the blankets and at the bed of wheat that cushioned her beneath. A glance around revealed the inside of a hut - she had been found!

She breathed a sigh of relief, before doing a quick check over her body. Frostbite hadn't claimed any part of her today.

The ruffling of the hut's front flap caught her attention, and a young black-haired girl no older than her fifteenth year stepped into view. Her body filled out well, a warrior's body, and she carried herself with an impressive confidence. Behind her, she barely caught sight of a young man with a less-than-impressive physique and a face set in one of constant annoyance, it seemed.

"Hey there," the young woman spoke, stopping just out of reach and resting a hand on her hip, "you're a Warborn survivor, aren't you? You managed to get away from the massacre at Svrngard?"

She exhaled once and nodded. "I'm...I'm Svana...thank you."

"Johanna, and don't mention it. We look after our own...can't say the same for the other clans though." The raven-haired warrior muttered the last part, but she quickly grinned and stepped over, offering a hand. "We'll make you feel at home here. Other scouts are combing for more survivors...but you're the only one we've found in the last three days."

"Only one..." Her heart sank, and Johanna definitely saw it. Her husband was gone...and that was a hard, bitter pill to swallow.

"I'll...come back later?"

Svana merely nodded, and the tent flap rustled to signify her exit.

It would be another hour before the urging of her hungry stomach spurred her from her bed and she climbed out of it. A fresh set of clothing was laid out for her, which she eagerly put on. Size didn't matter to the Vikings of Valkenheim, not when most women had arms the size of tree trunks.

She pushed her way out into the village and gazed around. Nestled at the base of a mountain, overlooking the seas below, it was placed between two roads and that's it. Two ways to attack...or to escape.

A cough caught her ear and she looked left. Another woman, a little older than the last with matching black hair and a hard gaze with folded arms looked her over.

"Svana?" At her nod the girl unfurled her arms and scooped up a spear from the snow. "Let's go. Feast's underway and Johanna was worried you wouldn't get to eat."

The pair walked along in silence, before the younger of the two glanced back.

"Siv, by the way. One of Johanna's seconds. She herself? Daughter of the Jarl."


"She seems to have a liking for you won't get discarded to the wolves."

There was no longhouse to eat in. Tables were made out of rocks and planks of wood, and everyone was there. Johanna herself paced around the firepit as her people feasted on meat and bread and the rare vegetable. Her eyes met Svana as she stepped into view and she grinned wide.

"Come on! It's time to eat!" She threw her hands aside and did a little spin at the crowd. "Unification is coming sooner than we thought! And the Knights will taste our rage and steel! BUT TONIGHT, WE EAT!"

Warmth and pride filled Svana's heart. She looked around with a soft grin. Here, it didn't matter. They accepted her, cared for her with open arms. She was one of them.

Ten Years Later

The snow didn't bother her. It never did. That was typical among her people. They could wait in the cold white for hours, days even without anything more than a light bear pelt and some food, maybe some mead if it was time for a break. But now wasn't the time.

Svana flickered her eyes off to her left, then to her right. Much of her clan sat on the lines they made for themselves, at the forest's edge. Their eyes stared on at the stone fort that stood between Valkenheim and Ashfeld. After the first wave of their kind having decimated the latter's lands, the tin cans pushed back and held them with defenses like these. Except the conflicts within, the varying Legions and such left them ripe for an assault - a raid.

She wasn't normally an aggressive woman...but the prospect made her blood boil in anticipation.

"Just waiting on the signal."

Svana looked left, spying a black-haired Valkyrie half-squatted, leaning forward on her spear. Johanna, the clan's leader. Fearless, beautiful, approachable. She was well-loved among them.

"What's the signal?" Her grip tightened on her Dain axe as Johanna glanced over. Svana could feel her smirk.

And as if on cue, the drawbridge collapsed, and the guard who presumably stood over it slapped against the wood and metal. He didn't move.


Johanna laughed, jogging with haste in front of the horde of men and women.


She spun around as the rising vocals of her fellows bellowed out. Snow kicked up and got trampled as they followed after their leader. Svana herself, all too eager, followed with.

The Knights would bleed and burn tonight, and there'd be one hell of a celebration afterward.

#13666739 Feb 23, 2018 at 02:34 AM · Edited 4 months ago
343 Posts
Prologue: Samurai

Run. Run. Run. Ignore the pain, do not stop. You'll burn too. Don't burn. Don't let her burn.

The mantra pulsed over and over in his mind, flashing to the forefront again and again and again. His legs thumped against the dirt and over wood, despite the intense burn that ran up them. His arms wrapped a pair of smaller limbs against his sides, and refused to let go. In response, pale hands clung to his throat.


No, he had to ignore it. Hesitation was death.

The screams of dying innocence punctuated that. The laughter of their assailants drove it home. The damned...barbarians...the "Vikings" of Valkenheim, the frozen north...burning their villages, taking what they wanted. The mere thought made his blood boil, just picturing their heritage being plundered just for the sake of plunder.

He ducked down between two small wooden huts. He had to get away, had to protect her. Or...die...die trying.

Whatever ounce of bravery he was building up dissipated in an instant as one of those very barbarians stepped into view. The yelp that came out of his throat was high pitched, and his behind skid through the dirt. The arms around his neck tightened.

The woman stepped forward with a leer, bouncing the two axes in her hands. Her eyes flickered between him, and the small girl that tried to hide behind him, instinctively.

"Þú ert ekki að komast í burtu!"

She darted forward, arms wound back and ready to strike.

"IZUMI!" He screamed at the top of his lungs. With a spin, he caught the girl up into his arms and buried her in his embrace. Take the pain, take the death, protect her!...But the pain never came.

Slowly, he opened his eyes. First, he looked down at her. Ice blue eyes full of fear stared back, framed by short brown bangs surrounded by miles of battle-free pale flesh. She seemed like a lighter version of himself. Then he eased back to his knees and turned over his shoulder.

A large boy, larger than him and the viking, stood between both. His thick hands clutched the woman - one by her wrists, which were bent at an awkward angle, and the other on her throat. She gasped for air once, then twice...then she breathed her last as her neck snapped.

He winced, and Izumi burrowed herself against him.


A chuckle rang up from him - this Zozo - before he turned and stepped towards him. Fated to be a Shugoki from birth, it seemed, the large boy offered his hands. They took them, surprisingly soft despite the dirty deed they had just done.

"Been looking all over for you, Kaito. Hello, Izumi." His voice was muffled behind the mask that covered his face. "Happy to see you're both in relative peace...funny, she didn't see me coming, like you didn't see her."

"I'd like to spare the commentary and idle chatter until we...we're away from...all this."

"Of course, apologies," Zozo uttered with a bow. Then he made a gesture, and started back down the alley.

Kaito looked down at Izumi, and squatted. She instinctively clambered up onto his back.

"Get some rest...I'll wake you up when we're away."

And he would. As his steps became a rhythm and the three got further and further from the raid, from the vikings, from the flames and death, his sister slipped into slumber. He and Zozo marched along in silence, side by side, onward to safety...a rally point for the civilian populace.

And then the shock of it all would set in. For both him, and Izumi. At least they had each other...and Zozo, of course. The realities of the sudden attack upon their people hit everyone hard, the fact they were almost slaughtered like cattle just for the sake of the kill. He had been willing to die to protect her...were they willing to kill to protect their homeland?

One night, as they sat beside the flames of burning wood, Kaito glanced into Izumi's ice-blue eyes and saw the intensity the fire danced in them. She did the same to him, and her expression mirrored his own. They both had their answers.


Later still, Kaito stood on the edge of a pond, feeling the wind curl through the trees, ruffle at his hair and then carry on. The familiar thumping of Zozo's feet reached him before the boy spoke...except he didn't.

"You've heard the news?"

"Who hasn't?" Kaito muttered, frustration mixed with rage rising in his tone. "They deserved better than...being slaughtered by those...damned raiders."

Silence reigned again.

Kaito flickered his eyes right, to the larger boy, before he settled his palm on Zozo's shoulder. Their gazes met.

"When things are settled...and my duties are renewed...I'll need a right hand man."

"Well, I can hardly say no to an offer like that, let alone from a fresh lord."

Kaito slowly smiled, and the pair laughed. When they paused to breathe, Zozo reached up and patted at the smaller male's hand.

"When our duties are entailed, and we've mastered our Orders...I will swear my fealty to you, Kaito."

Ten Years Later

"Waste no more time! Ships ready to launch at midday!"

The docks groaned beneath his feet, Kaito pacing back and forth as his men and women prepared. The seas were calm today, and with a scarce breeze coming from the horizon. His lips thinned, and his grip tightened on his katana. To leave home...

"Aahh, Lord Yukimura!"

The voice brought a small curse in the back of his mind, and he turned on his heel.

The Kensei before him strode with a confidence that borderlined arrogance, and his hands folded behind his back when his feet came to a halt. His Ginkei armored rattled, a definitive sign of his clan. Behind him, a Nobushi ceased her motions as well, planting the butt of her naginata into the wood beneath them.

"...Lord Fukoshima." The bow was mutual, and the newcomer glanced about at the sizable landing floor surrounding them both.

"Wasted little time with the Empress' approval, I see, Kaito...may I call you Kaito?" He flapped his hand in the air, before pressing his fingers to his own chest. "Satou."

"...I know, Lord Fukoshima."

"Oh. And this is Michiko. My esteemed bodyguard of many years."

The masked woman's eyes seemed to be fixed in a narrow gaze, but when his met hers, they both bowed in respect. He could tell from her stance alone she was experienced. Possibly far more than her master as well.

"What brings you here?"

"I was just inspecting the force that will be our Northern front! Many of your...detractors point to your youth as a possible detriment but..." Satou stepped forth, coming up to the younger man's side as he stared at the horizon. "Dare I say my fears are assuaged."

"I...appreciate that, my Lord." Not entirely, however. Satou Fukoshima was a war-dog, known for his particular distaste for their foreign neighbors. Many potential peace talks were shut down by his supporters. Generals and Daimyo were divided as a result...and this fleet was a sign of which side was winning. Still, Kaito was aware of the duty he held.

"Is your sister traveling with you?"

Kaito's breath caught in his throat, but he gulped it down and shook his head.

"She is traveling west, under Lord Tanaka's command."

"Hmm..." Satou chuckled as he turned back, "well I'm sure she'll do quite well under him. Nothing quite like an authoritarian commanding a rebel. I'll pass on your regards to him."

Kaito blinked. "Are you...traveling west, as well?"

"A two-pronged strike, yes. The metal men in Ashfeld will not expect it. Reports say they were even caught off guard by the barbarians in the north!"

Kaito hid his frown beneath his palm, but nodded nonetheless.

"I wish you luck, Lord Fukoshima."

"And you as well! Young Yukimura. I hear it can get quite cold in Valkenheim."

Well wishes mixed with a taunt, it sounded like. Still, Kaito bid both a curt bow, and watched as the man stepped off. The woman remained - her eyes flickering up to the top of a mast before she finally went after her Lord. Kaito himself glanced up, and exhaled as a soft 'thump' came up beside him.

"She saw you, you know."

The Shinobi "humphed" beside him.

"I don't trust them."

"What do you have for me, Kane?" Kane Takemura. A Shinobi, trained from birth. One of millions, he assumed. Truth be told he couldn't remember how she came to his service...either she chose him, or he chose her. By now, it didn't matter. Her impulsiveness detracted from her skill, but she was nonetheless.

"Lord Zozo and Lady Izumi were looking for you. They're in the temple gardens."

Oh great...

"Good luck~"

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