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[ARC 2] We, The Hunted

on Sun Nov 18, 2018 2:08 pm
STRINGS OF FATE
ARC 2: We, The Hunted





Two Months Pass By...

Across all the known world—both East and West—sickness and paranoia spread like a wildfire. Men and women in white robes preaching the importance of visiting their physicians became a common sight in every land; new heralds of the disasters that loomed just over the horizon. At first, the news spread slowly, and the people were critical of the Plague Prophets’ warnings, however soon the small quarantine sites grew so large they engulfed entire city blocks.

People were separated—from friends, family, loved ones. A person could enter the physician’s tent one moment, and not be seen again. Those who were deemed ‘clean’ took it upon themselves to find those who could be tainted.

And for the masses, everyone was a target.

With the threat of illness spreading, and witch-hunts to find the unclean increasing, many of the unchecked took it upon themselves to flee. Perhaps out of fear for their families, or perhaps out of fear for themselves.

The Kingdom of Flamelle, a giant of the eastern world, became a visible contradiction. The weather was as glorious in the early winter as it always had been, the majestic lakes glimmered in the sun, the cities—perched in the hills, near winding rivers, or in the mountains—were as vibrant and colorful as they were known for, snow already fell in the northernmost regions of the country, laying out a light blanket of white across the hills and countrysides… And yet the people walked in fear. Sainté Bourdeaux had closed itself off from the rest of the world; its citizens locked in, and everyone else locked out. Villages, once teeming with life and activity, stood barren as its people were carted off to plague camps for treatment.

Dark clouds hung over the Jewel of the Eastern World.

Castinis likewise fell to the same symptoms of its neighbor to the north, though the witch-hunts took on a violently religious undertone. Those deemed unclean seemed to also be those who acted against the Castinian regime, and thus the Gods themselves. The irreligious, or those who didn’t display the same levels of piety as others were systematically singled out as those most likely to be ill. Those are dared to flee had only two options—head north toward Flamelle with the hopes that conditions there would be better for them, or flee in any other direction, into the barren deserts of swirling sands and unquenchable heat.

In the Broken Kingdoms, far south of The Shogunate, war raged ever on. Although plague prophets soon arrived in the country, they found a very different kind of sickness had already taken a firm grasp on the population. The people starved from famine as their crops were either poisoned or burned to ashes. Countless columns of smoke rose to the sky as towns and cities burned day and night. War, lasting and constant, had created this sickness—A struggle between two warring kingdoms for control of what appeared to be an emaciated and withered country.

On the other side of the globe, similar events transpired. The domination of the Toshkhat Empire wavered every day, however continued to hold sway over much of the western world. The sickness spread despite the plague prophets’ efforts in containing the situation, and thus the normal people of the Empire took it upon themselves to find and hunt down the afflicted. Mass hunts spread throughout the land, forcing those afraid for their family or their own lives to flee in every direction. Many others willingly gave themselves up out of fear of spreading the plague to their loved ones, and the rest of the population.

Drakenlloch and the Republic of Mu, though far removed from most major landforms, were not to escape the same fate as their larger neighbors. Although the inherent diversity of Drakenlloch helped to keep its people together, mistrust of ones neighbors had embedded like a seed of discontent. It seemed that sacrifices to the great Elder Dragons had become more prevalent, the hopes that perhaps, if their winged gods had mercy within them, they would spare their small island from further misery.

Mu on the other hand became more closed in than it had been prior to the outbreak of plague. None could leave, and none could enter. Even the plague prophets who traveled out from the Great Unknown found no safe harbor on that spit of land.

Warenlandr and Kayerin suffered much the same issues as every other country in the world. Witch-hunts became a mandated effort in Kayerin on part of once ordinary citizens, now driven to the brink of desperation by the plague. The government only did what it could, however the fear of losing more of its stalwart knights to this unknown, incurable sickness was certainly a fate to be avoided. The wealthy and affluent shut their gates from the outside world, seeking asylum within the confines of their walled manors, while the poor either gave up hope or fled to the far corners of their island to avoid being hunted down and dragged to the feared white tents of the quarantine camps.


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


In the West, rumors spread quickly, both in and outside of the quarantines, of a fabled world unaffected by the sickness that had spread. A sanctuary founded in an exotic land of mountainous heights covered in thick layers of mist; gnarled trees, windswept and drawn across verdant plains and at the side of rocky cliffs. No name was given to this place, but if rumors bore any truth, these lands lay far into the unknown seas—unchartered and unexplored by even the bravest men and women. Ordinarily, going there would be suicide, but the world had changed so drastically in the last few months, that suicide for many meant simply staying where they were.

A mass exodus took form on every spit of land on earth. Anyone who still had coin to their name, or access to a boat fled for open waters. Under cover of night, or in the mists of the early morning, the people took flight. Many wondered if it would be to their ultimate doom.

Those in the far west traveled even further west into the great beyond—the understanding that if only they could brave the treacherous seas and the great storms, that perhaps they would be delivered to their Sanctuary. And those in the east traveled further eastward, toward the lands of misty mountains and rolling green plains that they knew to be the domain of a powerful warlord named The Shogun.

And for those who perhaps made it through the greatest trials of their lives, across the turbulent seas and into calmer waters, would finally be greeted by a tiny chain of islands bearing the name of Yamato.



PLAYERS: The plague has spread across the world, and with the introduction of the plague prophets comes the signal for your departure. Wherever you might be, and regardless of whether you are sick or not, you sail to into the unknown. For those in the west, you travel into what very might be the edge of the world—uncharted territory known to the East as the Arashi Sea—the Sea of Storms.

It's likely that you have braved the most harrowing seas that you have ever experienced. And finally, now in calmer waters, you find a hint of land ahead, and perhaps a delivery from your misery at sea. You are hunted, but here in this mysterious new land, you see only a sanctuary. Although many will land at different areas of the island nation, many ships sailed together, once spotted on the ocean. It is likely that you and many other players will meet up immediately, or at the very least encounter each other once landed.

Whatever you wanted to conclude prior to ARC 2, feel free to sum up at the first part of your post. There is no going back to your old lives. Yet. If you need some help describing the new setting, let the GMs know, and we can set the scene for you.

For an idea of location, please refer to the map of the world.

Happy gaming!
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Re: [ARC 2] We, The Hunted

on Wed Nov 21, 2018 11:15 pm
JEANNE GIROUX AND THE FIFTH VESSEL
Outskirts of Ponté Flamelle


Panting. Shouting. Muscles aching. The alley became thinner as they went on, barely a shoulders width apart. Men were in pursuit, garbed in black. They’d been at it for days, never ceasing. They were being hunted like beasts. Jeanne turned midstep to glance at her attackers but only met the angry eyes of Hadya.

“Eyes forward!” the woman barked. “We’ll make it!”

Hadya flipped around suddenly, her black ponytail whipping to the side as she swung her spear in a broad arc, sending a few of their pursuers back in fear. One got caught by the tip of the blade. As the man howled in pain and bled on his friends, Hadya sprinted back to the group, hardly looking tired.

Laila stumbled over a loosened brick, Jeanne barely catching the silver haired girl from falling into the hard floor. Hadya shoved them along, swing her weapon at nearby scaffolding and sending bricks and mortar falling onto the path.

“Don’t falter now!” Hadya yelled. “We’re nearly out--”

Jeanne suddenly heard the footsteps behind her cease. Hadya had stopped in her tracks. Her expression of determined fury had shifted to shock. Blood trickled to her feet.

“Hadya!” Laila rushed to her friend’s aid, but the woman raised a hand to stop her. Back at the destroyed scaffolding their pursuers had switched to bows. Hadya turned to face them, an arrow lodged in her back.

“Go. Now.”

Before either could respond, arrows rained down. Jeanne took charged, grabbing the girl and rushing further down the alley, away from danger. They had to keep running. It didn’t matter how much Laila screamed or struggled, there was no turning back.


“Lai!”

Laila’s eyes flashed open as she felt her shoulders being shaken. Jeanne stood over her, the older woman looking concerned.

“I’m sorry,” Laila said, sitting herself up and grasping Jeanne’s hands. “Did I wake you?”

“Oh, you know me,” Jeanne smiled. “I was up already. Are you okay?”

“Yes, I think so,” the silver her girl stretched slowly, eyes drifting towards the rising sun. “Just another nightmare.”

“I wish I could help you with that,” Jeanne sighed.

“What you do is plenty, Jeanne,” Laila smiled, standing up. A cool breeze rolled through the hills, sending a chill down her spine. Wrapping herself in her cloak, Laila looked once more to the horizon. A great city stood at the edge of it, tall buildings even visible from their meager camp.

“Ponté Flamelle,” Jeanne said, following the girl’s eyes.

“Is it?” Laila said.

“Well, I’ve never been,” Jeanne laughed, “but according to our directions it should be it. A great port city, if the villagers are to be believed.”

“I hope all those people are able to depart,” Laila said. “It saddens me to know how many people might be left behind to face this epidemic.”

“I feel the same way. I feel I might have a lot of sleepless nights in this so called ‘promised land’ because of it. But there’s little we can do. Not all can be persuaded to leave. Not all have seen the camps.”

“Yes. I hate to admit it, but I think you’re right.”

Laila turned to the fire and snapped her fingers, a flame igniting. A bit of warmth in the morning would go a long way to soothe their tired bones. They both sat at camp, eating the remains of their supplies before packing up their tents. Laila snapped her fingers once more and let the flame pass. They left the cover of the woods and made it onto the road. Despite the calamity that befell all nations, the beauty of Flamelle’s countryside remained unhindered.

The old woman and the silver haired girl approached the outskirts of the city, anxious to find safety. Neither carried weapons. All they had were their packs and a thick tome filled with crimson scribblings. It was enough. Since Hadya’s sacrifice, the assassins had lost their trail. Simple highwaymen were easy to scare with simple magics, and Laila had plenty of tricks to shock them with.

They walked with ease, savoring the view of a countryside they would not likely see again.
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Re: [ARC 2] We, The Hunted

on Fri Nov 23, 2018 2:04 pm
AERETH DU LÉON
Ponté Flamelle | Kingdom of Flamelle


Leaning against a railing alongside the pier, Aereth stared pointedly toward the ocean. All the noises of the city were muffled by the methodical crashing of waves against the stone harbor walls, the crying of gulls flying overhead, and the rush of sea-born winds. A long gust tussled her outfit, her long dark hair dancing in the wind before settling back in tumbles along her shoulders. Sighing, she thought back to the week prior—the running, the stress of it all. In all the years in her line of business, she had never had to run quite like she did en route to Ponté Flamelle.

Nevertheless, she wasn't alone in her departure from the city.

Those men and women in white robes; the so-called "Plague Prophets" as they were called throughout Flamelle. They were the heralds of disaster—a disaster that most people had dismissed as fantasy, herself included. But then people started to fall ill, and entire quarters of the once glorious Capital were cordoned off as 'quarantine zones'. The witch hunts began soon after, and for a time, Aereth was content to watch neighbor condemn neighbor of being one of the "Afflicted". For a time, it was all like an elaborate game that Aereth was able to simply observe and watch, like an outsider.

At least until the mobs of zealous hunters arrived at her own manor.


. . . . . . . . . . . .


Six days prior...

Her foot tapped on the floor nearby her hearth rhythmically, as though she was attempting to match the beat to the flickering of the flames dancing in her fireplace. Warm crackles and pops was all she could hear as her eyes gazed deep into the fire. In her hands was an unfurled length of parchment. It appeared worn already, as though she had looked it over many times already. An empty envelope sat on the table nearby, the inked-in date from only a few days prior.

She abruptly stood from her chair facing the fireplace and thrust her hand holding the letter toward the flames, though she stopped just short of tossing it in. Something held her back. Her face twisted into a grimace as the fire danced, reflected in her dark eyes. Her outstretched hand shook, only slightly.

A knock arrived at Aereth's door, jarring enough to make her flinch from where she stood. Cautiously walking toward the front of her home, she peered out one of her curtained front windows and found a mob of townspeople waiting for her. Though she didn't see any torches or pitchforks, they may as well have been carrying them as their expressions of lustful wrath told her all she needed to know. Taking one last look back toward her fireplace, she took a deep sigh and folded the parchment up and tucked it away into an unseen pouch within her shirt. Understanding the risk, she opened her door either way, careful to hide a pair of daggers in her back belt in case anyone tried anything.

"Can I help you fine gentlemen?" Aereth asked in a tone as sweet as honey. 

There was a moment as silence. She felt the mobs eyes on her, as if looking for something in particular.

"You Aereth Du Léon?" The first man asked, standing at the head of the pack. He was likely a peasant, if his simple garb was any indication. Uncleaned, untrimmed, and most certainly uneducated.

"I am." Aereth answered flatly. "Is there any particular reason why you're all crowded on my front doorstep?"

"We'ves been told that you're an inflicted." The mob leader answered, adding extra inflection on the last word.

"Afflicted?" Aereth corrected, cocking an eyebrow. "Do I look sick to you?”

“Not everyone shows it, we’ves been told.” He paused, looking her over slowly, the hint of a smirk playing on his lips. “But we can probably find where it shows on you.”

Aereth felt her skin crawl as a jolt of fear ran up her spine. She looked to the mob, seeing the willingness for cruelty written on their faces. One of her hands edged behind for the hilt of one of her daggers. “I’m afraid you’ve been lied to, good sirs. I’m not ill, nor do I plan to be.” Aereth said calmly, though the beating of her heart seemed to grow to a pounding in her chest. “I’d ask that you kindly leave my property.”

“She’s lying.” A voice sounded off within the crowd, loud and authoritative.

Aereth looked further into the crowd, finally spotting a hooded and cloaked figure wearing all black. They moved their head just slightly, and she caught the familiar glint of blue eyes.

Fiona…

Just as the man in front of the crowd made to grab the edge of her threshold, Aereth quickly swung her door shut in his face, locking every bolt and chain until it was secure. It only took one moment before a loud pounding shook the door on its hinges, though it held steady for the moment.

Shaking, Aereth started to move back into her home as the pounding grew louder.

The guild. Fuck. Aereth thought as she bit her bottom lip, gathering herself. I should’ve taken Fiona’s threat a few weeks ago more seriously. I never scratched their back, so now they’re trying to have me silenced.

She shuddered to think of what would happen to her if the crowd managed to break in and corner her. The guild knew what they were doing, using the paranoia and fear of the plague to their advantage over her. Thinking fast, she ran toward her room and grabbed a satchel, throwing everything should thought to take into it.

I won’t let them get to me. Fuck the Guild, and fuck this city.

Grabbing a few dresses and shoving them into the bag, and quickly strapping her leather armor on, she made certain all the necessities for her line of work were present and accounted for. Wrapping a cloak and hood about herself, she slipped her long daggers into their sheaths behind her back. The last items she managed to stuff into her satchel were several pouches of coin.

Pushing a bookcase in her room to the side revealed a stone staircase leading down into darkness. Lighting a torch, she was about to start her descent until she paused suddenly at the top of the stairs. A loud crack could be heard as her front door finally started to give way to the crowd outside. Her eyes flicked back toward her living room and the fire still burning brightly in her hearth. Making her way back into the room, she rose a palm toward the flames and closed her eyes.

“I really liked this house…” Aereth said aloud with a hint of sadness. “But I won’t let anyone else have it.”

Her magic surged, and the fire roared in the hearth, growing larger until it overtook the fireplace. Burning embers popped and leapt out from the coals, burning into the wooden floor and the furniture in the living room. Aereth swung her arm in an arc toward the front door and formed a small jet of flames to burn just beyond the threshold.

When they finally break open that door, they’ll be in for a surprise.

Her job complete, she ran from the room as the flames spread and as she made her way toward the stone steps, she shut the bookcase behind her. Grabbing the torch from its sconce in the wall, she quickly and quietly descended the steps into darkness, eventually finding her way into what became the city’s sewer system.

As every second ticked by, her fear started to melt into a sense of anticipation. As she walked through the sewers, she weighed her options.

I could go toward the mountains up north, I suppose. She considered, though the thoughts of the guild eventually tracking her down made her pause. Or perhaps I should just leave the country… I’d hate to leave Flamelle, but at this point, I wonder if there are any better alternatives.

She thought of the far western forests that bordered Flamelle, wondering what lay beyond the walls of her home. She had heard tales of Fae-kind living there, devouring wary travelers who happened to encroach into their territory. South lay Castinis, however the desert didn’t exactly appeal to her very much, and the idea of being forced to follow their bizarre religious customs left a sour taste in her mouth.

The only other places I could go to escape all of this are across the sea… Kyokai…

She recalled listening to a group of townspeople a few days prior whispering about a so-called ‘sanctuary’ in Kyokai. Apparently, their country had its own share of issues, however the plague was not among them. Even the prophets who traveled the seas found no refuge on its shores. Aereth had never traveled far out of Flamelle, though she heard stories of the Shogunate being a land of intrigues and natural beauty.

She passed below a manhole cover, a thin stream of sunlight leaking into the murky darkness from one of the metal plate’s holes. The sounds of bells could be heard tolling all over town—apparently her fire was doing its job well. And hopefully those ingrates burn as well.

After an hour or two of walking through the damp, foul-smelling sewers, she saw a light at the end of the tunnel. An iron grate barred her way out, but she quickly blew it out from the wall, sending it flying with a loud clatter.

“Ahh, fresh air!” Aereth exclaimed, breathing in deeply as she escaped the sewer’s dark confines.

She found herself toward the edge of the city, within a drainage ditch. She knew that it eventually ended at the mouth of the River Sein, which emptied into Lake Bourdeux. Stretching, she allowed her eyes to adjust to the sunlight before heading down the ditch until she reached the river beyond. Right where she had left it, behind a set of dense bushes, a small canoe sat beached on the edge, an oar laying within. It pays to have an escape plan.

Unslinging the satchel from her shoulder, she tossed it into the canoe and grunted as she pushed it toward the river. Jumping in, she took hold of her oar and began to paddle. Once out of the river and into the Lake, she made due south for Coté Du Fairé.

Once I get to the town, I’ll make my way east, bound for Ponté Flamelle. I should be able to get someone to take me out to sea from there, along with the rest of these refugees, Aereth thought. And luckily, I have a contact in Tonnerre who will give me a place to rest my feet and perhaps wash this sewer stink off me.


. . . . . . . . . . . .


In Tonnerre, a city famous for its storms, she found the weather had predictably taken a turn. Although it had been sunny for much of her day’s trip from Coté Du Fairé, billowing black clouds had started to fill the sky above. Thick drops of rain pelted her as she walked the road toward Tonnerre. She winced as she could feel every drop, even though her hood.

Just as the wind began to pick up, she made it into the small town. Naturally, most of the buildings were made of stone and mortar—generations of stone-masons had continued to build upon the foundations of their homes to protect their livelihoods and families against stronger and stronger storms. As she made her way down a side street and into a narrow alley, a narrow stone house sat at the very end. Its windows were dark, but the hint of flickering light told her that her contact was there. Knocking thrice upon his door, she waited for him to answer.

The door swung open and a man stood looking at her from the entrance. One of his eyebrows cocked as he recognized her once she removed her hood.

“I wasn’t expecting you.” He said plainly, a hint of curiosity hidden in his gruff voice.

“When do you ever expect me?” Aereth said with a sly grin. “May I come in, Caleb?”

The man folded his arms, as thick as tree-trunks, and looked down at her for a moment before moving out of the way and allowing her through. As she passed, his nose wrinkled and his eyes narrowed.

“You stink.” He mentioned with a grimace.

“Sorry. I’ve had a long few days.”

“I’ll heat up the bath. I won’t allow you to sit down in my home smelling like that. My hound would even get sick smelling that, and he eats trash.”

“Many thanks. Will you join me?” Aereth invited, still wearing a playful grin.

The man looked at her for a long moment before gathering some spare pieces of wood from nearby his fireplace. “Nope. I’m sure you can wash yourself just fine.”

Aereth gave a face for a moment. “You wound me, Caleb. What ever happened to the good old days?”

“Those days are long gone. Leave your clothes outside the washroom, I’ll get them cleaned.”

Aereth nodded and did as she was told. Once stripped, she slowly edged her way into the warm water of the bath and let herself sink in with a satisfied sigh. Even when the water began to slowly cool as the wood was used up, she took her time to clean every inch of herself, scrubbing almost excessively to get rid of any trace of grime.

Once finished, she wrapped a warm towel about herself, brushing out her long hair until the tangles were gone. Muttering a short incantation, a burst of warm air ran through her hair, drying it almost immediately. Padding out from the washroom, she found her clothes neatly folded on a chair nearby. Redressing, she nosed her garments for a moment to be sure the smell of the sewers was long gone before being completely satisfied.

“Still playing thief, I take it?” Caleb asked as he sat by his fire, stirring a pot of what appeared to be porridge. 

“I’m not playing anything.” Aereth answered, sitting on a chair next to him, crossing her legs. 

“Then why are you here, in Tonnerre of all places? You’re obviously in some sort of trouble again.”

Aereth fell silent, unable to counter him. “Fine, yes. I ran into a bit of trouble in the Capital is all.”

Caleb looked at her for a long moment, still stirring the pot. “You ran, didn’t you. The Guild’s after you? You don’t ever just run like this, unless it’s serious.”

Her silence confirmed what he already knew. He closed his eyes and exhaled. “I don’t want to know the details, but you know how serious this is. You can’t just run from the Guild, Aereth.”

“… I can, and I will.” Aereth replied, crossing her arms and looking into the fire.

The two were silent for a long moment. Caleb fetched a ladle and scooped out two large helpings of porridge for them. Slicing a loaf of oaty bread down the middle, he placed the larger of the two slices by Aereth once they sat at his table. Much of the meal was had in silence, though Aereth made sure to mutter her thanks for the meal.

“Where are you headed?” Caleb finally asked, leaning back in his chair once he finished his meal. “Castinis?”

“You know I hate sand.” Aereth answered after a moment. “It’s Kyokai. I’m bound for Kyokai.”

“Gods.”

“What, too far? Want me to stay by you? Help at the forge?”

“You know what I want.” Caleb shot back tersely, though his eyes looked tired and sad. “You’ve never been the kind of woman to sit still. For anything. Or anyone.”

“Sorry.” Aereth looked to the ground, dejectedly. “Caleb, I…”

“I’ll help you get to Ponté Flamelle.” He cut her off, sighing. “I’ll help you there, but you’re going to owe me.”

“I…”

“Your antics always upend my peaceful life. This isn’t the first time either, Aereth.”

“You live in Tonnerre, you know?”

“What of it?!”

“Never mind.” Aereth said, giving a small smile. This conversation felt so familiar to her. “Thank you, Caleb. I mean it.”

“You owe me, Aereth Du Léon. You remember that.”

“… I’ll remember it.”


. . . . . . . . . . . .


Aereth flinched when a gull cried loudly overhead as it took flight. Side-stepping, she narrowly avoided being the target of the bird droppings that fell to the cobbled stones beneath her. Swearing under her breath, she looked to the ships moored at Ponté Flamelle’s harborside. Many others stood by the docks—most looked nervous and disheveled, desperate and clinging to hope for a ship that will bear them from Flamellen shores. Many were families, mothers with small children, peasant farmers and townspeople clinging to their bags. Some looked to be nobles, their haughtiness replaced by the same feelings of dread and fear as the peasants standing alongside them.

Everyone was hopeful that the Shogunate of Kyokai would present them with a sanctuary; one that would endure the plague, and for some perhaps, even be a new home and a new life. Aereth stood alone, even surrounded by many, unsure of what she would do in such a strange new land. She had no plans, no contacts, no prospects of a future in Kyokai.

And yet she knew she had to go. Perhaps, once there, she would find her purpose.

A large ship, docked further down the pier, lifted a gangplank into place and its captain strolled in a long gait onto the docks.

“You want to leave for Kyokai, you’ll be paying a premium.” He announced loudly, hands on his hips, thrusting out his barrel-like chest. “Only those with coin will be accepted onto the Gilded Swan.”

Many families, likely from the towns and cities of Flamelle, headed for the ship to fork over what coin they had, while the peasants stood at the docks, counting their coins to see if they had enough. Aereth strode past a few such families toward the captain of the ship. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed a few distinct-looking people within the crowd—some appearing to be of Castinian descent, judging by their garb and darker skin.

Looks like even Castinians are heading into Flamelle, only to find out this country’s gone to shit as well…

The captain looked down at Aereth as she approached.

“How much?” Aereth asked, hopefully.

“For you… how about 100 Loréin and a night with—“

“I’ll give you 200 Loréin and you’ll leave me to myself.” Aereth countered with a frown, dropping the gold into the captain’s hand.

With a disappointed grunt, he motioned for her to board the ship and focused in on the next people to approach. Walking the gangplank and onto the deck, Aereth took in how sparse the Gilded Swan appeared to be.

“This will be a long voyage, won’t it…” Aereth muttered to herself as she slung her satchel about her shoulder and made her way below-decks.


Last edited by Kamikaze_X on Sun Nov 25, 2018 7:15 pm; edited 7 times in total
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Re: [ARC 2] We, The Hunted

on Sun Nov 25, 2018 3:26 pm
KOJURO and HARUKA MORIYAMA
City of Tsukishima | Shogunate of Kyokai


Kojuro watched pensively as ships sailed slowly through the pristine waters of the Bay of Senkei, just outside of Tsukishima. Cutters and sloops, local fisherman and merchants, sailed out from their moorings, only to be told to halt in the waters as military ships moved past in convoy. For the first time in Kyokai’s history, foreign ships were attempting to dock on their shores en masse. Many sailed in from the western territories of the known world—places like Castinis and Flamelle—filled with refugees attempting to escape a plague. If reports were to be believed, many others came from beyond the Arashi Sea to the east—from places unknown.

The Kyokan government acted quickly, mobilizing its military to both defend and keep the peace as a massive influx of new peoples started to crowd the docks. Military ships, large galleons with well armed soldiers and long-range ballistae patrolled the waters around Kyokai, while their smaller frigates and patrol ships sailed through coastal waters between small islands and though the straits. All foreign ships were to be turned about and directed toward a few specific ports where all refugees were to be properly processed.

None would enter the country without the Bakufu knowing—and should any try, the soldier’s orders were to apprehend immediately, or to kill if provoked.

Tenken, Eidou, and Negasaki, huh… Kojuro mused, absent-mindedly scratching his shortly trimmed beard as he gazed out to sea. It’s only a matter of time before the Lord Shogun mobilizes the Kagerougumi.

The sounds of footsteps, light and swift behind him met his ears. Haruka strode over to her husband and stood at his side. With a sigh, she leaned against the wall of the pier and looked out to the military ships.

“They turned around another one. They’re heading toward Eidou now.”

“Yup.” Kojuro answered, crossing his arms. “I lost count of how many that’s been today.

“Ships of all sizes. Some not fit for ocean travel… these people must be so desperate that they’d climb into a rowboat if they had no other choice…”

Kojuro was quiet. Although he certainly sympathized for those who had fled their own nation, he couldn’t help but sense the dangers looming within such a large immigration. 

“I’ll likely be sent to the Capital to help with all of this.” Kojuro stated tiredly after a long moment. “My mind would be at ease if you would just stay home.”

Haruka looked sidelong to Kojuro, a sly little smile playing at her lips. “You know I won’t do that.”

“Why must you be so difficult?” Kojuro drawled with faux exasperation. Haruka laughed, her eyes lighting up playfully. Her arms wrapped around him in an embrace as she rested her head against his chest.

“Isn’t that one of the things you liked about me? My stubbornness?” Haruka asked with a smile.

Kojuro embraced her back kissing her forehead and looking back out toward the water. “Fine. Just don’t do anything reckless. Please?”

“Fine.” Haruka immediately agreed. “That goes for you too.”

Ahem…” The two turned away from the water and spotted the messenger kneeling behind them. “My Lord and Lady Moriyama, I bear a message for you.”

“Speak.”

“The Lady of Tsukishima bids your audience.” The messenger stated. “You are needed urgently.”

“Very well. We’ll head to the Castle now then.” Kojuro answered, allowing the messenger to leave them.

It had been nearly a month since his Lord’s death. Only days after the Ikedoya Affair, Sanousuke Moriyama died of his illness, peacefully in bed with his family surrounding him. As was custom for the daimyo of Kyokai, the eldest child of the Lord would be given the honor of taking up the mantle. Although offered the position, Kojuro declined as he was but the adopted child to the Lord. With the next of kin being a single daughter, still too young and unlearned to take the title herself, her mother would serve in the interim as Lady of Tsukishima until her daughter came of age.

With all that had happened in the weeks since the Lord’s death, Kojuro knew this impromptu meeting likely had everything to do with the refugee crisis in Kyokai. Without another word, Kojuro called for his horse and mounted, giving Haruka his hand so she could climb on behind him.

“Off we go then.”


Last edited by Kamikaze_X on Sun Nov 25, 2018 6:30 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: [ARC 2] We, The Hunted

on Sun Nov 25, 2018 5:08 pm
AERETH, JEANE, and LAILA
Ponté Flamelle | Kingdom of Flamelle


“Watch your step, Jeanne,” Laila announced, touching her on the shoulder to get her attention. “Some dips ahead.”

“Thank you, Lai,” Jeanne smiled, looking up from the book for a brief moment to avoid rolling her ankle once more. Though the city was in sight, it would be some time before they reached the gates. To make use of their limited free time, Jeanne browsed her codex, making an catalogue of what spells she had remaining and how many more she would be able to create. Her nimble fingers traced the sacred language of her people, words that had been etched in her own blood. During their travels, Jeanne had spent some time communing with the gods, offering her blood in exchange for miracles. Laila took no issue with the process, but she knew others would not feel the same. It was best to get the work done in private before they were inevitably thrust into the masses.

“Eighty-nine,” Jeanne said, shutting the book.

“Hm?”

“Eighty-nine people I can save from the brink of death. Over a hundred I can save from minor injuries. Fifty for me, last resorts. Selfish, I know.”

“Not really,” Laila smiled. “If you get hurt, how are you supposed to help people?”

“I’m glad the gods decided to give me such an understanding companion,” Jeanne laughed. “You’re an interesting girl, Fifth. I can understand why they picked you out of a crowd.”

“The hair also helped.”

“I bet.”

For weeks after their initial meeting, Jeanne thought little of the silver haired witch. She was Castinian, dark skinned as any other, yet had white hair that had a silver glow to it. It was only recently that Jeanne had learned of Laila’s name and importance to Castinis. She was the Fifth Vessel, a magically imbued matriarch who had been announced dead months before. Her magical prowess was difficult to measure, but Jeanne’s observations led her to understand that the girl controlled the elements with little effort. There was a lot to uncover about the girl’s past and abilities. For now, Jeanne was satisfied that the girl had a kind heart. In their current state, nothing else mattered.

They followed the road for a couple more hours before making it into town. It was still early in the day and the port was bustling with traffic. It didn’t take long for them to realize they weren’t the only ones who wished to leave the country. Many people gathered around boats that lined the harbor. They were all selling to the highest bidder, offering safe passage to those who could afford it.

“Are we too late?” Jeanne said, visibly distraught.

“We didn’t march all this way for nothing,” Laila said, grimacing. “I’ll make sure of it.”

They shopped around for a bit, avoiding the sections that were overcrowded, searching for a vessel that had not been stuffed to the brim already. After some time they stopped near a craft that was named The Gilded Swan. A broad chested man stood aboard, presumably the captain, shouting over the din of the townsfolk. If coin could be provided, the man would allow safe passage.

Jeanne clung to the girl as they wormed through multiple people to get to the front. With her silver hair up for display, Laila hoped she would capture the captain’s attention long enough to make an offer. Pulling a bag of coin out of her cloak, Laila held it high enough for the man to see.

“Sir!” Laila exclaimed, her voice rising in pitch. “Sir, please, allow us to board! We have the coin for it!”

The captain of The Gilded Swan looked down at the two from the top of the gangway, crossing his arms and cocking an eyebrow as he studied their appearances.

"A Castinian, eh? Is that pouch filled with Loréin or whatever bloody gold you people carry? Exchange rates are high now, 'cus of this fuckin' plague."

Before either of the two could provide an answer, shouts started to echo through the bustling crowd of hopeful refugees. The sun glinted on crested steel helms and speartips as the city guard arrived on the scene, shouting at people to move aside and let them through. Others walked with them, wearing brown and gray cloaks and carrying cruel looking truncheons and iron pokers.

Both the women looked back at the chaos beginning to occur behind them. They had little reference on what conflicts were occurring within the city, but the attitude of the guards told them plenty. If they didn't board a boat now, chances of them leaving the city anytime soon would become slim. That, and the cloaked men gave off an aura that seemed very similar to their pursuers months prior. It was enough to send them both into a panic.

"If coin doesn't interest you," Laila shouted over the others, digging into her pouch, "perhaps this will!"

She pulled out a thin slab of gold, one of few she had taken from the royal treasury before escaping the madness that consumed her own state. It was an inch thick and fit into the palm of her hand. Pressed into the surface of the ingot was a Castinian seal, the mark of an eye.

The captain's eyes widened at the sight of it, but he made no urgent moves to pull them onboard. The guards pushed closer, pulling some from the crowd away and pummeling those who resisted. The cloaked men worked in tandem, some even ordering the guards to grab certain individuals from the masses.

"Make the choice now or you won't get it again!" Jeanne shouted at the man. "Guarantee our safety and we'll double that."

"Jeanne!" Laila hissed, but it was too late. They'd already gathered the man's interest.

"Captain, we need to get moving!" A deckhand yelled over the din of panicked citizens on the wharf below them. "We're raising anchor!"

The ship started to slowly pull from the dock, just as the Captain motioned for the two women to climb up the gangway. Just as their feet touched the wooden floorboards of the ship's deck, a sailor standing alongside grabbed the plank before it fell into the water.

"Fine, lower the small sails! We're embarking for the Hagane Ocean, lads!" The captain eyed Laila, a smirk on his face. "You're lucky you had that kind of metal with you, Castinian. Those guards were getting bloody close."

Back on the quay, a scene of chaos unfolded quickly. As The Gilded Swan pulled away from the docks, citizens who didn't wish to submit to the guard dove into the water to try and escape. Archers raised longbows and knocked arrows, loosing them on whoever couldn't swim far or fast enough. Those who remained on the wharf were beaten down and dragged into a group to be tied up like cattle. Where they would be taken could be anyone's guess.

The few who managed to swim and catch up to the ship tried to grab hold of whatever loose rigging hung close enough to the water. The Captain grimaced as he walked the deck, taking stock of any who managed to climb on board.

"If you don't have the coin, you'd better be ready to serve as a deckhand to pay off the debt. I don't take freeloaders on my ship."

Aereth stood nearby, arms crossed as she leaned against the foremast of the ship. Her eyes lingered for a while on the two women who were last to climb the gangway before the ship left the docks. While the old woman didn't interest her much, the dark-skinned foreigner certainly did. The gold she pulled from her satchel caught her eye, as did the desperation the two showed to get on board. If her eyes didn't fool her, the gold bore the sigil of Castinian royalty on it—no ordinary traveler would carry such a trinket with them, that much she was certain of.

Very interesting, those two...

For a few moments, Laila was all smiles. The relief of having made it was overwhelming, even if it cost her an incredible amount in the process. Her expression faded when her gaze drifted to Jeanne, who leaned against the rails of the ship. Most of those who made it on board refused to look back to the port, but Jeanne couldn't look away. Bodies drifted at the edge of the port, arrows sticking from the surface of the sea.

"Dammit," Jeanne said under her breath. Laila opened her mouth to speak words of encouragement or inspiration, but nothing came. Instead, she stood by her newly acquired friend and watched along with her. With her gold, they paid for passage that others could have gotten. It was a difficult fact to face, but it was there. Even in the face of carnage, however, Laila was ashamed to admit that she still felt immense loss for the gold she had given up for their journey. In a way, the golden slabs were the only proof of what she had been in Castinis. As time went on and more gold was required of them, Laila felt her identity, too, would fade.

Laila laid a supportive hand on Jeanne's shoulder, smiling softly to her, before turning to take a better look at their ship. The captain was bellowing orders to his newly acquired hands and newcomers were scattering all over find spots to lay down their traveling gear and take a breather. Laila was quickly reminded, as the ship swayed back and forth, that this was her first time on a ship. Bile rose in her throat, causing her to whip her face over the edge and vomit into the sea. Beside her, she heard the sound of Jeanne chuckling.

"It's going to be a long journey, isn't it, your highness?" Jeanne said, a sad smile forming on her face.

"I'll get used to it," Laila grimaced, the taste stuck to her tongue. "I hope."
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Re: [ARC 2] We, The Hunted

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