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  #51  
Unread 31st of May, 2010, 06:18
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Raziel caught Iraj's fist before he could pull it away, and pivoted in such a way that sent Iraj flying down the hall.

"I-I c-c-c-can't CONTRO-" Raziel's voice seemed to break, and he clutched his throat with one hand as he moved down the hall rapidly toward Iraj, blade snapping for his neck.
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  #52  
Unread 31st of May, 2010, 08:03
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They walked, and it was a full minute before Sawrina responded. She was thinking phrase her reasons for being here, without bringing up certain... difficult subjects.

"Well, my lord, as I mentioned before, I am a magician of sorts. However, I am but a novice, and there are few experts in my own country. I have heard rumors of a very experienced spellcaster here in your kingdom. I came here to see if I could learn from them.

"The only way to get from Sheld to the Divine Kingdom is by sea, and the Hakken control the sea between Sheld and the Divine Kingdom is controlled by the Hakken. My only chance to make the journey was by boarding the Hakken armada, and it took every gold piece I had to bribe them to let me on one of the front ships.

"I am no friend of the Hakken. They have raided my own nation many, many times, and I have lost several dear friends to them. And I can hardly find the one who I hope shall be my master if the Divine Kingdom falls. So I decided to betray the spies I came in with, and to give myself fully into your service, my Lord. Whatever you ask of me, I shall do."

It felt wrong to pledge herself to a man, but she lived in strange times, in strange lands.
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  #53  
Unread 31st of May, 2010, 11:40
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Iraj let the momentum of the throw carry him, and he kicked against the wall and came straight back at Raziel. "What are you?" he hissed through clinched teeth. He feinted a thrust at Raziel's head, then redirected his attack at the last moment to try to skewer Raziel through his thigh.

Last edited by Darius; 31st of May, 2010 at 12:16.
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  #54  
Unread 31st of May, 2010, 11:52
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Raziel ducked into the first swing and barely noticed the feint. At the last possible moment, he threw himself backwards and landed hard on his ass. Rolling backwards, he flung himself to unstable feet.

"What am I?" he grinned, "What are we, you mean? What we are not is here for you, Captain; we are here for that bitch-servant of the Old One. Not that we expect a lowly soldier to have any inkling of our plans."

He eyed Iraj warily, slowly stepping backwards down the hall.

[OoC: there is an offer waiting for you in the conflict thread, Darius.]
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Unread 31st of May, 2010, 12:10
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Iraj was already moving by the time Raziel said Captain. Iraj took a short leap forward, lips pulled back from teeth in a wolfish grin, and his sword thirsty for blood. Raziel had forgotten that there was a time for action and a time for talking, and Iraj had taken the attempted ambush somewhat personally.

Raziel could tell the torturers his plans until he begged for the sweet release of death.
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  #56  
Unread 31st of May, 2010, 12:20
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Iraj's sword caught Raziel in the shoulder, cutting a deep gash and throwing him to the ground. His sword clattered to the ground next to him, and his right hand darted towards it instinctively.

He snapped his left hand forward, catching his own wrist. His eyes dimmed, and he began to speak rapidly; his voice and body trembling with strain.

"E-Enhenduana. They wants her dead. And Sawrina and the whole of the Keep if they can manage it. The sword thirsts for the blood of powerful women. There is cabal of female warrior-mages in Sheld. They serve the N-Namer, an Old One. You have to find Enhen-" Raziel choked then, and his right hand snapped up his sword. His eyes were suddenly awash with flame.

He leapt to his feet with such force that he loosened the stones in the floor of the hall. He slammed the hilt of his blade against Iraj's chest, sending him sprawling.

And with that he was gone, leaving ember footsteps in his wake.

[OoC: Darius, see the OoC thread before replying.]
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  #57  
Unread 31st of May, 2010, 12:21
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Karathas arched his brow at the Shelder.

"You pay everything you have to cross the Green Sea, to come to a foreign shore on a Hakken invasion fleet... all because of a rumor? Even were I to believe that - which you must admit is a stretch because there is very little reason for Admiral Deemethreesu to allow you to spread warning of his invasion as you have - I cannot fathom going through all this just to apprentice yourself to some random arcane practitioner in the Divine Kingdom. It is a large land, true, and we do have magicians as you say, but so does your homeland of Sheld. If you were just wanting to practice magic, you could have done so much more easily than this.

"And now," the Prince continued, "you are eagerly pledging yourself to my service. In full knowledge that were I to accept, you would be soon fighting for your life against a hoard of Hakken."

He eyed Sawrina meaningfully. "Your story is lacking a critical element, and it is clear you are not used to covering such things up. Your only saving grace is that I personally believe a real spy with intent to kill me and everyone else within this keep would have concocted a much better tale during her long voyage."

His eyes briefly glanced over to Layhiri, to see if she shared his assessment before he once again turned his gaze on Sawrina.

"So. Let's say that for the moment I believe you're not an immediate threat to me. Why should I accept your pledge? You have come so far and paid so much to want to plant yourself here, in this place? What could possibly be here that is so important? There is no arcane mentor waiting here that I know of, certainly none so powerful as to warrant your alleged troubles. What are you not telling me?"
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  #58  
Unread 31st of May, 2010, 22:35
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Iraj coughed slightly, quickly regained his feet, then took after Raziel. The possessed soldier was gone though, his burning tracks soon disappearing into the maze of corridors. Iraj finally stopped, using a bit of cloth to carefully wipe his blade clean of the blood of the soldier.

Prince Karathas would need to know of this. Iraj could care less about this Sawrina or Enhenduana. Neither of those were his charge or responsibility. The fortress and his lord's son, however, those were, and whatever Raziel was didn't seem interested in stopping at a few murders.

Iraj's one consolation was that he had marked Raziel. Next time, one of them would not be walking away from the confrontation.

As he walked through the hallways, he flagged down a messenger.

"Where is Prince Karathas now? I have urgent news that he needs to be made aware of."
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  #59  
Unread 1st of June, 2010, 18:41
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The messenger stopped and saluted, a closed fist against her armored heart.

"Sir, Captain Bram just sent Jesper to find him. I think he's in the servant's wing attending to that Shelder woman. Anything else, Captain? I'm supposed to bring these orders to Sergeant Raziel..." she trailed off, waving a sealed scroll case about.

"Sir, are you alright? You look a tad shaken, like you've seen a demon or something."
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Unread 1st of June, 2010, 20:05
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"I'll take those," he said, snatching the scroll case from the messenger's hand. "Sergeant Raziel... if you see Raziel," Iraj dropped the title purposefully, "you run. You find one of the other captains. You tell them Raziel is the murderer and should be treated with extreme caution. But most importantly you run. Right now, go and spread the news that Raziel is a wanted man. I'd prefer him taken alive, but it is most important that he be stopped."

Iraj strode off toward the servant's wing breaking the seal on the scroll case as he did so.
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  #61  
Unread 2nd of June, 2010, 05:18
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The prince's words worried Layhiri. Enheduana needed to leave Waystone Keep, and the incoming armada was her best chance, as slim as it was; yet everyone and everything seemed to be after her. There was nothing for Layhiri to do but wait, and hope an opportunity would present itself, that and pray her friend could remain hidden.

As the entered the Shelder's room Layhiri nodded at both the body and the splintered remains of her sitar. Glancing around to ensure the guards had positioned themselves outside the room, she knelt and picked up a splinter of wood, holding it up to her eye, and staring at Sawrina past it. "Well, this part of her story is true. I'm glad my sitar could perform at least one more noble deed before retiring..."

She stood and idly flicked the broken sliver of wood into a corner. "My lord, regardless of what this woman's true intentions are, and I do think her story is missing a key component, she has a agreed to point out several spies to us. It's the best lead we have and it may be prudent to deal with that issue first." Layhiri looked down at the dead guard and shuddered ever so slightly, "Though maybe in a more comfortable location. We can also speak of other things while we're there."
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  #62  
Unread 2nd of June, 2010, 05:49
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Iraj

The scroll read:

Sgt Raziel,

Report to Cpt Samar for duty. Lord Kurigalzu has ordered that he assist in the hunt for spies, and your service record makes you a trusted asset. We need troops on the outside just as much as we need troops scouring the interior of the Keep. If not more so--the spies inside are trapped in here with us. Those on the outside have more mobility, and every scrap of information may be critical.

Do not fail us, Sergeant.

Bram
Captain Samar was in charge of the outer guard, responsible for laying traps and ambushes along the southern approach and ensuring that enemy siegecraft did not make it up the pass to the Keep.

By the time Iraj had finished reading, he had made it to the servant's wing. He could hear Layhiri speaking:

"Though maybe in a more comfortable location. We can also speak of other things while we're there."

They appeared to be just inside one of the guest quarters--there were two guards posted outside the open door of one the rooms in the hallway.
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  #63  
Unread 2nd of June, 2010, 14:51
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Sawrina's lengthy silence was telling, and Karathas knew that he had cornered her.

The body of Pokqar proved her story about Raziel was true. He had been killed by a blade, and the lack of defensive wounds and the fact that his sword was undrawn meant he had been attacked by surprise or by someone he trusted.

"Lady Sawrina, I really don't have time for games," Karathas said. "You've chosen to put yourself into my hands, and doing so in such a short and hectic time requires that you come completely clean. I promise you that so long as your ultimate intentions will not bring about harm to myself or my subjects, then you have little to fear from me. I need to know I can trust you before I start using your information to root out spies."

He then noticed Iraj walking toward him at a brisk pace.
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  #64  
Unread 2nd of June, 2010, 20:16
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Iraj stopped short, just where Karathas would be able to notice him and call him over. Iraj's eyes were wide, and slightly haunted, and the knuckles of the hand gripping the scroll case were white.

"Prince, I beg a moment of your time." He spared a glance at Sawrina and Layhiri before continuing. "In private would be best. It deals with the security of the fortress."
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  #65  
Unread 4th of June, 2010, 00:15
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Up until now, Sawrina had done her best to be submissive and respectful. But she could not tell the prince her real reasons for being here, no matter what he said.

She stood up straight and squared her shoulders. Her blazing eyes met his. She would meet his judgement with dignity. When she spoke, it was in the tones she had heard her mother used when issuing commands.

"My lord, I am sorry, but I have told you everything there is to tell. I am here looking for a sorceress of great power, and would gladly aid in the defense of the kingdom if you would have me. If you cannot believe me, then do with me what you will, for there is simply nothing more I can say."
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  #66  
Unread 4th of June, 2010, 12:19
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Sawrina spoke and Layhiri sighed. When titans clashed the very earth shook and even the best of mortals were forgotten. Best to cut off any conflict before it started, or none of them would live through the week.

"My lord. Perhaps it is best you deal with the matters at hand. There is an oncoming army and a siege to prepare for, spies or no spies. I'm sure whatever Iraj has to say can't wait. Allow me to deal with our guest's accommodations, free of assassins this time, I promise you, and you can handle this matter at you leisure." Layhiri winked at the prince, and bowed her head, waiting for an answer.
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  #67  
Unread 4th of June, 2010, 23:56
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Karathas nodded and allowed himself to appear to be swayed by Layhiri's words.

"Very well," he said. "Layhiri, I know you are capable and I trust that you do not wish to see your home reduced to rubble. I will need you to keep your eyes open for any signs of malice within the court. Also, I need you to bring Lady Enheduana to me. I must speak with her at the soonest opportunity. It is crucial that I find her, otherwise we might be in trouble."

He turned to Sawrina. "Trust is not given, it is earned. Aid in the defense of this keep, and if we are victorious, I will aid you in your quest. Make your preparations. I will have Captain Bram meet with you later. He will discuss your abilities and determine how best to use them in defense of the walls."

At last he turned to Iraj. "Yes, sergeant, what have you to say?" He led the way deeper into the room, so that the two women could make their way out and let the soldier speak to him in private.
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Unread 5th of June, 2010, 00:05
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As she exited the room, Sawrina let out a small sigh of relief, which she hoped the others did not catch. She'd done her best to mask it, but she had been nervous of the prince's judgement.

When they were outside the room, she turned to Layhiri. "Thank you for coming to my aid. I am even further in your debt."
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Unread 7th of June, 2010, 04:24
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Iraj caught himself about to remind Karathas that he was a captain now, but thought better about it.

"Sir, I had a recent... encounter with Sergeant Raziel, or rather, something that took his form. It was stronger and faster than a normal man, though I di manage to wound it. I failed to capture or kill the creature, however, but not before it pledged that it would kill someone named Enheduana, someone else named Sawrina. He mentioned that they serve something called a Namer, and this Namer was an Old One, whatever that means."

Iraj paused, tapping the scroll case against his leg. "Prince, I don't know if Raziel was possessed by some spirit or some creature has taken his form. I do know that he is a threat to the fortress and should be hunted down. I did manage to wound his shoulder, though whether a man-forged item is enough to hurt whatever Raziel is, I don't know."
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Unread 7th of June, 2010, 10:31
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"Burning hells!" Karathas swore. "Yes hunt him down. And find Lady Enheduana. We need to find her and keep her safe."

Karathas was familiar with religions other than the Zodiac. It was part of his classical education that he often feigned ignorance of. Was this why his father wanted Enheduana found? How did he know of her? Why would he associate with a servant of the Demiurge - enemy of the gods?

"Sawrina!" Karathas half walked, half ran down the hallway after the two ladies. They were at the far end of the hall, nearly about to descend the stairs. He called out to them.

"You serve the Namer." He said it plainly as a statement, with no raised intonation, no suggestion of uncertainty. He wanted to know what Sawrina would do.
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  #71  
Unread 7th of June, 2010, 11:34
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"I - "

Sawrina turned sharply, her face an open book to Karathas. Shock, anger, hatred, humiliation, relief, fear, and resolve all vied for control of her facial features as her mind raced. She had felt herself safe, felt that she had been given time to escape his investigations. She could not allow others to learn of her service to the Namer... perhaps she could avoid the question? But no, he had seen her hesitation, and she had already failed to hide the truth from him before.

Her face calmed.

"Yes. I do." Her voice was emotionless.
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  #72  
Unread 8th of June, 2010, 16:16
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Karathas wanted to scream. A heretic. Sawrina was a heretic. And if she was ready to confirm Raziel's story, that meant that Enheduana was likely one too. The thought grieved the prince. He had felt a strong connection with the noble woman he had danced with so briefly at court. He somehow knew that that connection had always been there. But there had been a hole in his memory of her. Could that have been the results of forbidden sorcery?

He looked coldly at Sawrina. To condemn her now would be to condemn Enheduana too. He couldn't do that. His father clearly knew of this somehow. There must have been a reason his father hadn't acted.

To serve the Namer was punishable by death in the lands of the True Gods, nowhere moreso than within the Heavenly Kingdom. Solar priests would flay this woman, remove her eyelids and strap her down in the middle of the Yasil Desert to gaze upon the wrath of Sol. Lunar priestesses would have been far more cruel, taking her to the Forest of Lunacy - not a true forest at all, but rather a labyrinth of stone interwoven with trees that spanned several leagues. The exact methods were known only to the sisterhood, but a heretic could expect to go insane under the gaze of Luna in that horrible maze long before granted the mercy of being ripped to shreds by the night creatures that dwelt within.

To give aid and succor to a heretic was to endure the same fate.

Karathas strode towards the Shelder. "I presume then, that you are searching for someone who could teach you more of the dread Demiurge?" He held up his hand. "You don't have to answer that, it is obvious. What you should know, Lady Sawrina, is that something very dangerous hunts both you and your would-be tutor. If it finds either of you, it will not hesitate to kill you. I am not sure I can stop it - not sure if I should even try, given what you are, but I have orders to protect this keep and the people in it. This demon that hunts you has possessed Raziel. It has shown that it will kill anyone in order to succeed, and that I cannot allow. Therefore you will go with the soldiers. Iraj here will escort you. If it tries to attack you again, our soldier will attempt to kill it. You however, are not to leave this keep, under pain of death should you try otherwise. We will deal with your situation once this siege is over. How we will deal with it, will depend very greatly on your deeds during the siege."

He nodded to Iraj. "Ser- I mean, Captain, this is Lady Sawrina, a novice mage. She is going to help defend this keep and she will take orders from you. Also, Raziel will likely attempt to strike at her again, so you can expect him to come to you. You must find Enheduana, as he will also attempt to kill her if he can. We must protect her above all else, my father feels she is the key to our survival."
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  #73  
Unread 9th of June, 2010, 01:34
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Iraj kept his face a neutral mask, devoid of all emotion.

"As you say, Prince," he stated, saluted and turned back down the corridor to find Captain Samar and pass the word that Raziel was not to be trusted, and in fact shoudl be treated as a dangerous enemy. He didn't wait to see if Sawrina followed after him, assuming that if she knew what was best she would be dogging his feels.

"So, Lady Sawrina, where do your talents lie? Can you turn our enemies into pillars of fire? Can you make our walls impenetrable?" Iraj failed to keep the scorn from his voice. It had long been his experience that so-called mages were little more than charlatans, and come battle, it was ordinary men killing and dying that determined the course of events. "At the very least, can you tell me where to look for Enheduana?"

His one consolation was that if Raziel was determined to try and kill her, it would make him easy for Iraj to find.
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  #74  
Unread 9th of June, 2010, 07:41
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Layhiri stayed silent through the whole exchange, staring past the trio down the hallway. She bit her lip and kept her ears open as they discussed. So, servant of a Namer. That's new. As Iraj and Sawrina made their way away from the intersection Layhiri turned to Karathas.

"You've let a heretic into our land's defenses. It should be a simple matter of passing her off as a more standard mage. I believe we have one in the Keep's employ now, Akihiqar, he should be back any time now. And we can use the age old method of simply not telling anyone Lady Sawrina believes in The Namers. Though that leaves me to question, in how bad of a shape are we in? It must be pretty dire if you're willing to let a Heretic, and a foreigner, and possible spy into the Keep's forces."

Layhiri reviewed the previous conversations in her head, "And I think you're developing an unhealthy obsession with my friend..."
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  #75  
Unread 9th of June, 2010, 11:13
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"I know what I'm doing, Layhiri," the prince said, though as he spoke the words he wasn't entirely sure of their verity. "Right now it's Raziel, not Sawrina who is killing my forces from within. If I'm going to catch that man I'll need some bait, and the Shelder serves just fine."

He looked down at the young spymistress. "As for your friend, my concern stems entirely from a direct order from my father. He believes she will be important in the keep's defense and that I am to find her. That our Lord wishes this is all that need concern you at the moment."
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