Family Reunion

The fortress-capital of the Ivorian Empire and the seat of the Immortal Ethelynda, which she protects alongside her Mortalborn children. Known as the safest place in Idalos thanks to its iron-clad military presence, it offers a welcoming hand to all honourable visitors.

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Family Reunion

Postby Tessa (Celeste) » Mon May 14, 2018 4:17 am

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61st Ashan 718

Her heart sank in her chest at the sound of him coming home. Careful what you wish for, Tessa, she thought to herself. He was drunk, obviously, he was drunk and he was happy and he had company. That could only mean one thing and that was that he had promised her, offered her to his friends. Benji was a violent and unpredictable brute, he sought to humiliate and break her and the things he made her do meant that she had suffered shame immeasurable at his hands. And yet. There was something about groups of men which made them forget their humanity, turned them into animals and prompted them to do things which even Benji would not do alone.

And here they were.

Tessa knew, as soon as she heard them, what she had to do. She had to keep the babies safe and so she took them into the small kitchen and lay them down in the drawer which served as a crib for them in here. She heard the men come in and Benji was shouting. Tell her hi from him? Oh, no.. no. That meant he was sending someone in to her, she knew. The kitchen was usually a place where she was safe, they didn't want to come here so she'd thought that Benji would take them into the living area, or maybe the bedroom for them to take what they wanted from her. Tessa had long since gone past the point of caring what happened to her. She knew what came next and she had no choice in it.

But they couldn't hurt the babies. She wouldn't let them hurt the babies.

A young man came in. Rough looking, stinking of ale and, oh, Tessa felt fear grip her further as she saw the belt in his hand. She was already black and blue, but she had to give him what he was here for and she recognised that look in his eyes. He was hungry, he was dangerous. Tessa didn't think it was unusual that she was afraid of him, but she did recognise that she was really afraid of him. Her reaction seemed almost instinctual to this man holding her husband's belt.

"S'a'right, sir, I'll be good. You want me t'be good don't ya?" She felt sick in her stomach as she lifted her hand and started to unbutton her blouse. He spoke something, but the roaring of her blood in her veins filled her hearing and Tessa barely made it out. He was here to help? "Oh yes, sir. You're gonna 'elp me. I'll be good, tell me... oh!" The sight of him suddenly drawing his sword was enough that Tessa moved to in front of where her babies were. He threw the belt at her, as though he was helping her and he told her to stand behind him. What was this? What was going on? "Is this a game, sir? Is it ... what do you.. you want me to do?" But the sound of the door smashing in, the man with the sword in her kitchen and the sounds of violence were too much. Tessa Anders moved to stand in front of her babies, grabbing the small knife she'd been using to prepare vegetables just that morning. It looked, ironically, much like the knife he had once used to stab her. Wide eyed with terror, she didn't move to stand behind him.

"Are you 'urtin' Benji? BENJI!!" The sounds from out there were loud and she wanted, more than anything, to run out and see what was going on. Because, as awful as he was, for all that she was terrified of him, Benji had limits and she knew them. Who were these men who broke into the house and hurt him? Were they going to hurt her? She wanted to run, but there were two souls in the room she would not leave. "Please, sir, please.. I'll be good," she whimpered, "jus' don't hurt my babies."

Please note: As of Ashan 718, Celeste Andaris has been kidnapped and has disappeared. Following the events in this thread she believes herself to be Tessa Anders, a streetwalker in Ivorian.

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Family Reunion

Postby Xander Andaris » Mon May 14, 2018 12:42 pm

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When he admitted they had no plan he had not exactly meant for Torqin to do as he had. In truth the man had sacrificed the one true advantage they had, surprise. While he may have caught them off guard he had failed to kill any of them and had now dived literally face first into a very one sided fight. Xander quickly made chase though, coming in through the door moments after the human battering ram. It was an interesting tactic and Xander still wasn't sure the most sensible but he didn't have much choice now.

Unfortunately for the man who had been hit by the door, he was first to be in Xander's path. Not quite quick enough to recover from being knocked down he met a swift end as Xander ran the edge of his sword across the man's throat. For the briefest of trills it felt wrong, to kill a man you had never even seen before but it was quickly buried by the ideas of what he had planned to do with Celeste. This left Torqin cornered only by two men now, Benji and another of his friends but that meant one was missing.

Not stopping to think he looked at the flimsy kitchen door and with a hard kick it swung open, the lock snapping from the old rotting wood. It smacked against the wall as it swung fully open to reveal no other than Rafael Warrick, armed and ready to fight. Celeste stood behind him screaming hysterically and holding a kitchen knife, the look of surprise quickly left Xander's face as it was replaced with rage. Old wounds burning quite literally to remind him of their last meeting. "You."

Xander did not hesitate as he thrust his sword at the bastard's neck. Unfortunately the house was not well designed for sword combat, the doorways narrow and the ceilings low not to mention the fact he did not want to risk harming the babies or Celeste. His options were very limited in terms of practical attacks. Still he carried through with the thrust making sure to be ready for a parry, keeping light on his feet. He was aiming to kill the boy, leaving no chance for explanation and no way for Xander to know he was actually there to help.

The wolf was was practically blinded by his emotions as his tunnel vision kept him focused on the assassin who had escaped him once before and by Ethelynda he would not escape to do harm again. Not this time. His reckoning had come and Xander would be the one to deliver it to the treacherous scum.

The ex-noble had not the mind to realise it now but he had changed, adapted to the harshness of the world perhaps too well. He had become quick to raise his sword and slow to think, however, now was not the time to worry over such things. Justice needed to be dolled out and he had taken it upon himself to do so, the role of judge, jury and executioner falling into his hands.
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Family Reunion

Postby Torqin » Mon May 14, 2018 4:57 pm

Torqin watched as Xander came in following his charge through the door, and quickly dispatched one of the three men in front of him. Torqin didn't know which, if any, of these two remaining men was Benji, but he hoped to the Spirits beneath and the Immortals among them that it was. Both men were drunk, though one much more so than the other, though the threat of attack had brought some sobering to their demeanor. The man on the left wielded a fire poker, while the drunker man on the right was empty handed. Both of them hesitated a bit, for Torqin had them both beat on size and hardware. Poker guy stepped forward timidly when Torqin released a guttural shout in his direction, freezing him up for a moment. And a moment was all Torqin needed.

Shield in right hand, he slide shuffled forward, leaned down into his left hip, and then punched up and outward, thrusting his shield forward, using the spring off his hip. The man got the poker down in front of him defensively, but the shield punch tossed him off balance. Torqin had exposed his right side to the unarmed man, who tackled him into the ribs. Torqin was shoved into the wall, pinning his left arm there between his body and the wooden boards. Torqin's shield arm was held up in a vertical 90 degree grip at the elbow, and being a heater shield, sloped down into a point. As such, he jerked his elbow down, driving the point of the shield into his assailants own ribs, and felt something give, that shouldn't have. A drunken howl was screamed from this man, Benji, although unknown to Torqin.

Benji released his grip on Torqin and stumbled back, out of the way of the shield punch that followed him. Torqin was in the corner now, with little room to work with. He saw a poker swinging down at him, and he brought his club up, catching it just a hair's breadth before it would've struck him where his left shoulder met his neck. Benji grabbed Torqin's shield, and pulled the Lotharro man toward him, throwing Torqin off balance. Torqin, stumbling toward Benji was unable to block the fist that met his face, and he felt his nose crack underneath it, sending a blinding white flash through him. Stumbling again, the poker was swung heavily against Torqin's unarmed back, a white stripe of pain there.

Benji pulled Torqin toward him again, with another punch waiting for the man, but Torqin had been expecting it this time. If he'd learned anything of his time in the Alley was that drunken fighters often repeated the same tactic over and over if it worked. He twisted past it, and instead of trying to pull his shield free of the man's grip, he stepped into it. Torqin lowered his shoulder, and drove the man hard into the wall across the room, hearing a satisfied crunch of the shoddy made planks break. The grip on his shield was released. Torqin, quickly spun, knowing poker was coming for him after he'd earned a bit of a gap.

Shield up, caught the next swing, and Torqin's own spiked club came up and caught the man in the armpit underneath his swinging arm, nearly lifting him off his feet. The thorn like spikes bit deep, but really it was the heavy upward swing of a blunt object that did the real damage. The man's shoulder dislocated and bulged upward at a nauseating angle. Torqin didn't relent, knowing he had to keep space between the two attackers. So he moved away from Benji, pressing forward with his shield into the injured man, his poker having dropped to the floor. He drove his into the man's torso, and with a quick drop and pop up of his stance, threw the man off his feet, crashing into a small coffee table, breaking it under his weight. Torqin turned to his right, keeping his shield up, as he now saw Benji coming forward, the dropped poker in hand.

Torqin cursed himself for not having secured the weapon. The poker stabbed outward with the point, and Torqin deflected it to the side with his shield, following through with the motion, spinning to his right, careful to not trip over his own feet. As he did, the circular motion brought his club swinging upward, catching Benji in the same ribs he'd struck earlier, and once more, a satisfying crunch was felt. Torqin yanked the club toward him, letting the thorns rip more flesh open, and brought his club to an upright hold, blood dripping to the floor below. The man kept his poker raise, but now clutched his ribs with his other arms, "I'll not let you rob my house, ya bastards!"

Torqin knew instantly that this was Benji. That meant not killing him. Not yet, at least. Torqin feinted a swing down toward Benji's injured side, and the man flinched. And with that, Torqin shoved forward, getting his shield in under the man's poker arm, preventing him from being able to swing it downward. He drove Benji back once more, shoving him hard against the wall, pinning him. Torqin rotated the club in his hand, and slammed it down, driving the long spike of it through the top of Benji's foot, pinning it to the floorboards below, the man screaming in pain, and dropping the poker. Torqin held the man there, and left the club where it stuck, and punched with a heavy left handed hook, striking Benji in the ear.

A pair of hands grabbed him by the back of the shirt, and pulled him off the man, throwing him backward. Torqin was tossed back on his ass, but managed to keep from rolling onto his back. The friend of Benji reached down for the poker, but Torqin kicked it away. The man chased after it, giving Torqin time to get to his feet, while Benji tried to pull Torq's club from his foot. Poker swung down again, and Torqin punched his shield forward, catching the man's forearm on the rim. He then grabbed the man's wrist and raise on the shield, the man howling as his forearm threatened to break. He dropped the poker and squirmed free from Torqin's hold.

The lotharro had the poker now, but Benji was freed, holding Torqin's club in hand, but standing unsteadily on his good right leg. Torqin had effectively disabled his entire left side. Benji's companion was unarmed, but they had regrouped. Torqin focused on regaining his breath during this mild lull in the combat, as the men decided their next course of action. They charged together, Benji swinging his club high in both hands, and Torqin was forced to raise his shield high to catch it. As he did, the unarmed man got beneath his guard and tackled Torqin in the ribs, driving him back into the busted table, breaking it further. Torqin felt something wooden pierce him in the back. He slammed the inner flat of his shield against the companions back, trying to break his grip upon his waist, but the man held firm.

Benji smiled, knowing that with Torqin immobilized, it was just a matter of time before he was killed by his own club. A double handed swing came down again and Torqin caught it on the shield, his arm bulging under the force. Swing after swing, driving Torqin's shield lower and lower. He wouldn't be able to withstand this onslaught much longer, his arm would give out. Another swing came down, and Torqin tried something. Instead of catching it, and it's force, he tipped the shield inward, and this deflect the club down, driving it into the back of Benji's companion. He howled loudly, releasing Torqin, and scrambled away, unintentionally pulling the club from Benji's hands. Torqin seized the distraction and swung the poker down into Benji's injured foot, and the man howled, stumbling backward.

Torqin pulled himself upright, slowly, his ribs battered from where the companion kept hitting with kidney shot after shot while having him wrapped up. He could feel something sticking out of his back, limiting his motion, he guessed a sharp piece of the smashed table. Benji had fallen backward in his pained hopping, and Torqin turned toward the companion with his club stuck in his back. With a thud, he smashed the fire poker into the man's skull, and he stopped crawling. Dropping the poker with a clatter, he pulled his club free from the man with a schick, and stalked toward Benji, who was sliding backwards in a drunken, pain induced panic. Two friends were dead, the other missing, and another assailant in the house. Torqin glowered down as he looked at the small man, his club resting atop his shoulder.

Benji started to beg, pleading with Torqin. To take whatever he wanted. All of his gold, his booze, anything he wanted. "T-t-ake my wife, she ain't wort' much, but she'll do whatever you want." The club was already swinging as the man said wife. It crushed Benji's knee of his good leg, bending his leg backward. "I'm not robbing you."

The man began to sob in his pain, "Wh-wh-why you here then? I never crossed ya. I don' even know ya. I don' owe ya money do I?"

Thunk.

Another howl as Torqin destroyed the man's other knee. "Say her name."

"Wh-wh-who?"

Torqin spat in the man's face, "Your wife."

"Tess? Wha's that stu-"

Crunch.

Torqin's club crushed Benji's arm.

"Her name is Celeste."

Benji's eyes were screwed shut from the pain, tears streaming down his face, blood seeping from his wounds.

"I ain't know a Cele.."

Another swing, another arm broken.

"Don't you DARE soil her name with your tongue!"

"But ya tol' me to say it!"

Torqin leered down at the man, who was completely disabled at this point. He crouched down, balanced on the balls of his feet, bringing him to eye level with the venomous lech. He winced a bit as whatever was stuck in his back tore some more flesh. He set down his shield, and reached back, feeling a large shard of wood. He gripped it, and pulled it free with a gasp, tossing it away. Then with his free hand, he grabbed Benji's ankle and pulled him away from the wall, eliciting screams of pain as the man was made prone upon his back, unable to resist.

"Does it feel good to rape a woman who is kind to everyone? Even to a low life such as you? To force her to do despicable things for paltry coin? To threaten the lives of the two babes she would give everything for?"

Benji just whimpered.

"DOES IT FEEL GOOD?!" Torqin roared.

Sobbing, "Yes! It felt good!"

Torqin stood up to his full height, bringing his club up over his head, taking it in both hands, ignoring the pain in his bruised ribs, ignoring the puncture in his back, and the other bodily wounds he acquired.

"Apologize to her, now. Or your despicable life ends now. She better be able to hear it."

"Tessa! Ah'm so--"

Torqin swung the club heavily, burying it with a sickening thunk into the man's groin, destroying what Benji felt gave him power. He ripped it away as the man howled and sobbed, impressed that the fool hadn't passed out from shock yet. Torqin bent to grab his shield, and toppled over to the floor in his battered, exhausted state. Grabbing his shield, he pulled it close. He needed a rest. And this spot seemed as good a spot as any. He hoped she was safe, that Xander had executed his part of the impromptu plan. But a rest, that was very much needed. And so, the bodyguard laid there, each breath sending fire through his ribs, hoping to hear something from his charge, cursing himself for not having enough strength to go to her now. He wasn't strong enough. Once again, he'd failed her.

Hopefully Xander hadn't.
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Family Reunion

Postby Rafael Warrick » Wed May 16, 2018 11:57 am

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61st Ashan, 718Rafael frowned. Was she putting on some kind of act? Had he come all this way, spent his last coppers, traveled through freezing cold and blistering heat alike only to find out that the woman he thought to be Celeste Andaris was, in fact, a common whore? Nothing remained of her polite voice, instead she spoke in some broken slang the likes of which he’d only heard lately in his travels, when he’d spent the better part of his coin and had been forced to reside among unsavory folk. No it was her. Had to be. The fear in her eyes was the same as when he’d plunged a dagger straight into her flesh…

Seemed she’d had worse recently.

“I am not here to hurt y-”

There wasn’t any time for more explanations, no time to tell her to stop undressing, no time to tell her she needn’t worry about her babies, there wasn’t even any time to ask for forgiveness. He didn’t see the knife she seized as someone or something crashed into the door. Once, then again.

He was there.

Of course he was. Xander Krome, the cub playing at wolf was how he’d traced Celeste and he’d always known he’d come face to face with the young noble again, and that it wouldn’t be over some Venoran wine. Tesstoy screamed for her husband, or what was left of him anyway, she cried for her babies. He wished he could tell her to calm down, that everything would be alright, but Xander had already leapt forward.

The wolf had grown some teeth. Rafael got his blade up fast enough to parry and push the assailing blade aside, but the speed and force with which Xander had struck was nothing like what he’d faced that fateful night in Krome. From the moment their blades crossed he knew he was facing a far more dangerous man. No, not a man. A husband seeking vengeance on the one who’d commited him, his wife, and his countrymen hurt.

“This isn’t what you th-!” The rest got lost amid Celeste’s whimpering pleas and Benji’s forceful apology coming from the other room. Someone gurgled in the hallway and crept toward the door on the grease of his elbows, leaving a broad brush stroke of red behind him as he clawed at the door handle, seeking escape.

The little hovel was not suited for swords. Tip of his blade raked across the ceiling as it came down, sweeping Xander’s thrust to the side and out of harm’s way, creating an opening. Had he aimed to kill, he might’ve reached for the dagger at his belt, instead he threw his shoulder forward, aiming to slam it into Xander’s chest. The sooner he disarmed the furious Krome, the better.
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Family Reunion

Postby Tessa (Celeste) » Wed May 16, 2018 12:37 pm

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61st Ashan 718
It was chaos and then, it got worse. Tessa was trying to keep Benji's friend focused on her rather than the babies, but then in through the door that Benji's friend had closed behind him burst her Knight. She didn't know his name, she realised wildly, yet here he was. He saw what Benji's friend was doing, or was about to do and he saw the belt and her shaking hands and he ran in. In that moment, she knew that he was here to defend her. Her and her babies. She knew it, she didn't doubt it and she felt a rush of hope at the sight of him.

And yet, she didn't know why.

Her Knight and Benji's friend obviously knew each other and in a way that was not friendly. This served only to reinforce her opinion of Benji's friend who had come in here with Benji's belt - sent in by Benji, no doubt. Tessa saw what was happening in here and she heard the screams from out there. Benji called in to her, he screamed in pain and she stood in front of her babies and she felt the knife in her hand. It was cool and unyielding. Unchanging, entirely just itself and there, in her hand. It was sharp and she was afraid and this man....

.. he was like them all. All of them.

All of the men who had hurt her, humiliated her, used and abused her. Who had paid her, or Benji or been given her for free, every damn one of them and Tessa felt something in her ... not snap. No, that would be entirely the opposite of what she felt.

Tessa felt something wake up. There in that kitchen standing in front of her babies, something in Tessa Anders changed, awoke and flared. She lifted the knife in her hand and she looked at it. Admiring it, she was pleased by how clean it was. It was important to be clean and tidy, that meant that she was a good wife. But she was tired of being a good wife. A good wife meant that she was beaten and abused, that she was hurt.

"No more," she whispered, looking at the knife and she turned and stabbed at the man who was Benji's friend. The man who had come here to rape and hurt her. "No more!" She aimed at the point where his neck and his shoulder met and she intended to not stop stabbing until he died. "NO MORE!"

Enraged, furious and terrified, defending her babies and fighting back for the first time in her life, freezing cold from the chill which gripped her heart and burning hot from the flames of anger, Tessa Anders stabbed. And stabbed.

And stabbed.

Please note: As of Ashan 718, Celeste Andaris has been kidnapped and has disappeared. Following the events in this thread she believes herself to be Tessa Anders, a streetwalker in Ivorian.

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Postby Xander Andaris » Wed May 16, 2018 1:30 pm

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Xander's attack was deflected, not much of a surprise with all honesty. It was the obvious move and relatively pronounced still Xander was not out yet. He saw as the Warrick boy went to ram him, preparing to lung forward and barge his shoulder into Xander. It was a smart move, especially seeing how his sword had scraped against the ceiling just moment before. The wolf moved to avoid it, pivoting on his back foot to leave a gap out into the other room through the door.

However, the shove did not come, the bastard had been interrupted by something else. Xander looked in shock as Celeste stabbed him in the shoulder, kitchen knife piercing the flesh. It did not and then though, no, Celeste withdrew the blade and stabbed again. He watched as the blood splattered out of the wound and off the knife landing on her face and over her clothes. It was a horrifying sight and Xander felt his stomach turn as she stabbed again. The blade tearing at Rafael's tender young flesh.

The fourth stab was enough as Xander dropped his sword and stepped forward, taking a hold of her forearm he stopped it going again. "Stop." He did not want this for her, to kill was not meant to be her life and he had hoped to protect her from it. Yet there she was, killing the monster who had harmed her all those seasons ago. "Its okay." Xander tried to pry the blade from her hands, fingers gently working hers free. "It is okay."

Xander should probably have made sure the boy was dead yet this felt more important. It was unlikely the bastard child would be able to keep fighting after that anyway. He had been stabbed four times in the back by the knife, a wound that would be bleeding profusely. It was clear to see by the blood soaked shirt of his attacker, streams running down her forearm from the blade.

Once he had it in his hands he would turn to the boy, the assassin, the one he had once promised to kill should they meet again. First though, if the young one still lived, there were some questions. There were many things Xander needed to know from Rafael Warrick. "So we meet again." Xander turned the boy to face him, whether standing, kneeling or lying he wanted to see his eyes and know he was hearing the truth.

Following Rafael there was the husband too, although who knew what he would tell them after the sounds Xander had heard it seemed he had been through more pain than Xander could inflict. Besides a dying man is less likely to talk when he knows he won't live anyway.
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Postby Torqin » Wed May 16, 2018 2:47 pm

Torqin laid there, his own heartbeat throbbing in his ears. He could hear his mother's voice, the same voice she used during their many training sessions.

"Get up boy. You're not done yet."

The Lotharro man groaned. He'd taken a battering the last several tentrials, and it all came to this culmination of him flopped out on the floor, bleeding slightly. He could hear movement in the kitchen, and knew Celeste was in there. He remembered seeing that little girl staring up at him with her big brown eyes moments after he'd struck down her abusive father. Ever since she was little, it seemed as if she resigned herself to being the abused, the weak one, with none to look after her. Never again would he want to see those fearful eyes. Never again would he let her be resigned to her fate.

Nor would he be.

He got a palm down against the floor, and started to push himself up. Arm shaking, Torqin grunted and got his hand underneath him. He pushed himself up to the full length of his arms. He got one knee, then the other beneath him, huffing a bit as he recovered. He took another deep breath and pushed himself upright, still upon his knees, now resting on his haunches. He looked over at the mess of a man that was Benji. The man was awfully quiet, but Torqin could see just the faintest rise and fall in the man's chest. There was blood pooling around the husband's groin, leaking down his arms.

It hadn't been enough. Nor would it ever be.

Torqin grabbed his shield, and used it as a crutch to bring himself upright, shakily. He scooped up his club, and held both limply, his legs barely able to keep himself upright. He moved toward the kitchen door, nudging it open with his club, and there he looked on a most surprising scene. Celeste was having a knife extricated from her fingers, blood covering her. The fourth man was there upon the floor, bleeding out it seemed. And while there was no victory in this entire situation, at least the three of them were alive. Torqin slumped against the door frame, "She's alive..." He didn't smile but there was relief there.

He didn't mention that Benji was in there attempting to die, nor that the other man was dead. He figured his presence there spoke more than enough. He was just... relieved. Then the question raised, what next? Would Celeste come quietly? Or would she fear them as kidnappers? He'd let Xander handle that though, he was already there, and he was her husband. Torqin turned away from the kitchen, limping over to the open front door, tying his strap through the shield and securing it to his back as he went. He stepped out into the light, looking around. He didn't see any gawking neighbors nor approaching guards. That was good he supposed. No one seemed to care what happened in the slums. He hobbled back in and picked up the door, leaning it into the doorway, to at least give some semblance of it being normal by any possible passerby.

Then he flopped down into a chair, exhausted, holding his club across his lap, as he rested, watching the life slowly leak out of Benji on the opposite side of the room. Four down. So many more to go.
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Postby Rafael Warrick » Thu May 17, 2018 2:10 pm

[quote="Rafael Warrick"]
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61st Ashan, 718Ned Warrick dabbed his lips with the handkerchief, still savoring the taste of the new Venoran red that had arrived just a trial ago. Ray placed her elbows on the oakwood dining table and leaned in.

“I’m worried for him,” she repeated. Ned could be such a stubborn mule at times and with so many responsibilities to juggle there was rarely a moment where they could sit and talk in peace. This evening was one of those moments, the eldest children were playing outside while the youngest had been tucked in for the night.

“He’s not your concern,” Ned answered. Whenever she brought up Rafael he seemed to tighten up preferring any other subject, even knitting, over discussing his bastard son with her.

“I am not trying to make you feel guilty, you know I think of him as my son too. I just wished we could discuss this normally.”

“What’s to discuss?”

“Haven’t you noticed?” Her eyes widened in disbelief. “He’s always out on his own, barely plays with the other children, sometimes he goes missing for bells on end!”

“So what? He just likes to explore…”

“Then why does he always look so morose? He disappears for bells on end without you even noticing, comes sauntering back, doesn’t speak and goes straight to his room and you think that’s normal?”

“Maybe he injured himself. Maybe played a little too rough with those farmboys.”

“Ned…” She buried her face in her hands and sighed deeply. “I know you have many responsibilities but if you really haven’t noticed-”

“There’s nothing wrong with him, far as I can tell.”

“It’s not him,” she sighed, “it’s the others. How they treat him. Like he’s different.”

“Well he is.”

“Except he doesn’t know, and they do.” Ray eyed her husband sternly. “You should tell him. He has the right to know.”

Ned’s face went pale as he wrung his hands together. “He’s not ready. Besides, what would it help?”

“What would it help,” Ray fumed, “what woukd it- Immortals, Ned! Why? Why do all our children know he’s a bastard, except him? Why haven’t you told him yet?”

“He’s not ready,” Ned repeated stiffly. “Too young.”

Ray stood up. She recognized the cold, stiff attitude of her husband. There was no fruitful discussion to be had anymore, he had already made up his mind like the stubborn oaf he was. “The only reason I am not telling him myself,” she started as she wagged her finger at him, “is because you wish to be the one to tell him, but you have to see- you have to-” Another sigh. “You’re sowing resentment, Ned, and one day you’ll reap what you sow.”

///

“Good, good!” Olyfer sidestepped Rafael’s thrust before disarming him with a flick of the wrist. “But not quite good enough…” he grinned. They were out on the courtyard practicing one to one combat with wooden swords under the watchful gaze of some of the household servants standing at the appropriate distance.

Rafael rested his hands on his kneecaps, his face glowed with pride and his throat was sore from panting.

“You’re just like your father,” Olyfer mused, “charging right in, expending all your energy, almost forget to breathe huh?”

A few more trills passed as Rafael gasped for air and clutched his heart with a shaking hand, worried it might leap from his chest. “I’m- I-” The hot Saun suns beat down on them. It was hardly the weather for sword practice, but he’d practically begged to train as he did almost every trial. For once, Olyfer had given in, knowing that the alternative was for Rafael sit with his siblings, or rather: aside from them while Ned and Ray were out.

“Take a deep breath…” Olyfer said as he put a gentle, wrinkled hand on the boy’s shoulder.

Rafael wiped the sweat of his brow with his sleeve before he looked up to meet his mentor’s eyes, just in time to catch the watersack the old King’s guard threw at him. He took a swig from the waterskin and emptied the rest over his head before shaking the loose drops off.

“I’m nothing like him,” he growled between ragged breaths.

“Now what makes you say that?”

“He hates me.”

“You shouldn't say that.”

“I was taught to never lie.”

Olyfer crossed his arms over his chest. “Then don't. He loves you, in his own peculiar way.”

“I don't want to be like him. Like them.”

”They are your siblings Rafael, none of this is any easier for them than it is for you.”

He looked up, his cheeks red from exertion, bit something else too. “I didn't ask to be nobleborn,” he said through gritted teeth.

“Neither did they.”

///

Winter had come, freezing the southern plains, shriveling the grass and impregnatong the air with a cold, briny taste as though the violent winds of the ocean had come to haunt the land. Ned Warrick led the sad, shivering procession of horsemen as they passed under the simple gate leading into the walled-off area of the Warrick estate. Olyfer stroked his ashen beard with bony fingers as his friend and once-pupil retured to the warmt of the Warrick stables. “Ned,” he started politely, “a word please?”

The man of the house didn't answer which Olyfer had learn to recognize as reluctant agreement.

“It's about Rafael.”

“What of him?” Ned answered gruffly.

“He doesn’t seem to want to be a Noble,” Olyfer said calmly.

“It’s not a question of want,” Ned returned. A barn full of stock down south had been robbed and left empty totrial but there hadn’t been any trace of the bastards by the time he and his troops had arrived and whatever traces there might’ve been had already snowed over. Ned dismounted his horse and landed with an angry thud. Last thing he needed was for Olyfer to pester him about Rafael again. “He’s a noble,” Ned grumbled, “whether he wants to or not.”

“Well to be fair,” Olyfer said with surprising heat in his voice, “I don’t think he’s entirely wrong to call nobles stuck-up prats. I happen to know one…” his eyes roved over Ned.

“He said that?”

“Ha!” Olyfer snorted, “that’s the least of it! Seems far happier with the farmer’s children or that stable boy…”

“He said nobles are stuck-up prats?”

“It was more like shouting.”

“At who?”

“Anyone who cared to hear. He's been doing it for a while now, I’m surprised you didn’t notic-”

“Do you still have the cane?”

“The one I chased you around with when you were too busy frolicking with fair maidens when you should be training?”

Ned grimaced. “That very one.”

“What of it?”

“I suggest you exert some discipline,” Ned said as he undid the leather straps on the saddle with more force than necessary.”Next time he bad mouths his own kind, use it. He’s a Warrick and one day he’ll have to rule part of these lands, the sooner he learns it, the better. I won't have our family name soiled by some self-wallowing-”

Olyfer’s face darkened. “I’m not sure that caning wou-”

Ned spun around, his fists clenched. “I don’t pay you to question my every decision!”

Olyfer retreated a startled pace, then frowned. How peculiar that Ned Warrick should lash out in anger and yet Rafael insisted he wasn't like his father. He might be old and slowly br going blind but he was no fool, the two were far more alike than either cared to admit.

“There’s a lot of anger in him Ned. He’s talented you know, talented, but without direction.” Olyfer turned to face Ned, “without a father. He needs your guidance, your approval, your validation, without it..” Olyfer shook his head. “I fear for what might become of him.”

///

He'd never made that sound before. He'd fought many men, many stronger and older than himself, many who'd landed a nasty hit or two, but even then, even as he'd gutted them, he had never heard to startled gasp that left his throat now.

He'd never stabbed anyone in the back.

How frail and tender it all was, that unprotected bit of exposed skin between his neck and his shoulder. Some force invaded it, pushed against it and then-

He cried out.

Three more times the angry blade punctured his skin, slicing and cutting through hardened tendrils like a knive slashing a thin rope. Blood oozed from the wound, trickling down his back, his chest and spraying up into the air and against the ceiling everytime Celeste raised the blade only to strike again. He stumbled, fell to his knees, then to the side and landed in some clumsy pile of limbs and blood-soaked attire against the stove. One hand reached for the woind, trying to stem it but as he looked at his own, shaking hand he knew there was no way, no way he would survive losing this much blood.

Celeste, the kitchen, the babies, even Xander hovering over him all turned to some ghasty blur like ghosts floating in a sea of speckled stars and in the center of it all a rift opened, a black gaping hole stretching further and further outward.

“What's happeni-? I- help! I wanted to help, father!" He looked up at Xander like a frightened child, "I’m scared...” he wimpered then slumped down further, tried to stand up, toppled over until a desperate, bloodied hand grasped at Xander’s leg. “F-father,” he cried, “Father I’m sca-” The rest was a gurgle as the black hole widened like a gaping mouth. There was nothing there. No light, no love, no music, naught but the everdark awaited him and nothing but cold, stiff fingers wrapped around the wolf’s leg, twitching, squeezing one last time.
Life is a dark comedy, only you're not in on the joke.
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Family Reunion

Postby Tessa (Celeste) » Thu May 17, 2018 2:27 pm

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61st Ashan 718
There was a single crimson dot on the curtain.

Tessa saw that dot and it drove her. It awakened her. It fueled the flames which burned within her. Because if Benji saw it he would beat her for it being there. She felt the knife slide into Benji's friend and it was easy. Easy like it was for Benji to do all the things he did to her, or forced her to endure others doing. He hated her and loved her, wanted to control her and own her yet he gave her to anyone. Anyone he knew, anyone who paid, anyone who wanted her. It was the invitation to violence, the permission to violate and abuse her from the man who should care for her which had broken her over the arcs. Before that, it was Peake. Peake Andaris. Master Peake who had hurt her and hurt her more. But she had been his slave and not his wife.

The droplets of blood splashed out as she pulled the knife out of his soft flesh and she felt them on her skin. They were warm.

And she was oh so very cold.

Her hand moved again and Tessa noticed that the knife had blood on it. That was bad, she liked to keep things clean. But then, there was blood on the curtain too and that wouldn't come out. It would leave a stain. Like the stains on the wall where her blood had soaked into the wood or plaster. Like the marks on the rugs, each one of them, from the same. All through this house there were bloodstains and they were hers. Now? Now they would be someone else's.

And so, Tessa Anders stabbed.

She was lost in the motion of it, in the single drop of blood slowly trailing down the curtain now, and then there was a firm hand on her arm, holding her but gently and the Knight spoke to her. Tessa's eyes turned to him, shock whitening further her already pale complexion and showing the bruises in stark, vivid and awful contrast. Every part of her was shaking and she had no understanding in her eyes until she looked at him.

"My Knight?" Tessa whispered and as he spoke to her, she heard his voice tell her to stop. That it was okay. The knife fell to the floor, her hands complying and looking at him, her knees buckled. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I don't wanna, I nev'r want'd to an' I jus'.. I can't do it any more, Ser Knight. I can't. I don't wanna do those things, sir, please don't make me." Benji's friend lay where she had laid so many times. In her mind, just for a brief moment she thought that she had once made that noise. The gasp he made as the first blow sliced into him, she had made it once. It made sense, she had the scar, after all, on her side. Where she'd been stabbed, she knew, but she had thought it had been Master Peake who'd done it. Or was it Benji? Shock and fear twisted her and she couldn't quite understand or remember right now. But then, there was her Knight and he spoke to her, once he had checked Benji's friend. She held on to him, the only thing keeping her standing and she spoke words to him which she never would, normally, to anyone. "I need'ta know my babies'r safe, sir. I do. But I've got nothin' an' no one an' now'ere to go. And I don't even know yer name, but I know I can trust you. Will you 'elp us, sir?"

She didn't so much see Torqin as just be aware that there was another presence in the room. As she was aware of that, she flinched slightly and her hands on Xander tightened. Fear was where Tessa Anders lived. But standing in her kitchen, covered in blood and clinging on to a stranger who was actually her husband, she thought that maybe, just maybe, she could live somewhere else.

Thanks to a man whose name she did not know.

Please note: As of Ashan 718, Celeste Andaris has been kidnapped and has disappeared. Following the events in this thread she believes herself to be Tessa Anders, a streetwalker in Ivorian.

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Family Reunion

Postby Xander Andaris » Thu May 17, 2018 3:15 pm

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Xander had never seen some one so young die so violently before and suddenly he felt revolted. He had killed before and it had never bothered him but there was something darker about this. It was as if his revenge fantasies had all been fulfilled but in the most twisted of ways. As Celeste kneeled there, covered in blood, Xander hovered over Rafael. The boy's fingers wrapped around his leg and he watched as the blood leaked out of the other fallen noble. The crimson pool spreading out across the once pristine kitchen floor.

Then the wolf did something he had not expected squatting down and listening to what he had to say. There was no making up for what he had done to Celeste before but the words would haunt Xander. The harsh reality of death was cruel and to watch it come over so slowly was frightful. Xander had killed but it had always been quick, the wounds inflicted bringing a swift end to their lives but here the life slowly drained away. There was no honour in his death and for a moment Xander felt sorry for him.

So taking the boys hand from his ankle he grabbed the bastard's sword replacing his leg with the bound grip. "Fear not in death you are judged and for your crimes you can repent. Pier and Pre will come and then you will face your final choice." Xander pressed it against the boys chest as he rolled him onto his back. "You strayed from your path of nobility and for that you have paid the price and so you will be remembered." Xander left Rafael then, leaving him to his final breathe alone. The death rattle causing a shudder within Xander, the last sound he heard from the boy as he returned to Celeste.

There was no time now to let it bother him though, the death of the boy was a inevitability in truth. He had crossed Xander and Celeste and that was a mistake none should make. As she then clung to him he placed an arm around her, looking at here and hardly recognising her. Soaked in blood and bruised she looked like one of the women he had saved from the underground brothel in Astedia. He found himself unable to treat her as his wife in that moment and only as a stranger he had rescued.

"You will be fine, we are here to help you and right now we need to leave." He pulled a chair over from the table and gently placed her into it. "The babies are okay." He looked into the draw their tiny innocent faces looking up at him, reminding him that there were still pure things in this world. Never would he allow what had happened to himself or Celeste or even Rafael happen to them, their future would be better. "We can't stay here though."

Xander looked over at the bloodied Torqin. "I hope you got what you came for, you could have got us both killed." Xander rubbed his forehead and sighed not realising the blood he smeared across it doing so. "Good job, are they all dead?" Noticing the Lothar's current state he assumed a straight and completely lucid idea unlikely.

So he checked for himself, and low and behold there were three dead men. To be more correct two dead men and the still whimpering Benji Anders. The man was next to useless in his current state, much to Xander's disappointment.

"Time to go."
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