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Later that day, approximately two hours later...

 

Simeon and Sid were both able to get into the stronghold— it was still daylight out due to the early raid, but it would be getting dark eventually. No sign of Rian or Perusian troops for a while, Kane reassured, so he was off watch duty. The bags under his eyes suggested that he was going to be taking a nap really soon.

 

After meeting Adelaida and Godiva, Simeon nodded.

 

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"Aye, ye ladies're fine and primed for some new weaponry. Ye'll need some new armor, something lighter than that suit'a armor..." Simeon looked to Adelaida, inspecting her worn-out armor. She let out a sigh of relief that she was going to be unbound.

 

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"Hey, old man? We're out of-"

 

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"Ye think I don't know my own stores, kid? But yes, I'm low on metal. If I'm te forge ye both new weapons and armor... possibly masks for ye as well so ye don't get publicly outed, I'm going to need some metal. Materials as well, for those masks. I ain't Kane's mother, but I'll think'a somethin'."

 

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"Good. Because as it stands, we're not only low on material, but we're also not going to have enough food for the night. I can get a fire started, but we'll need something... Arthur, do you know of any towns nearby?"

 

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"The closest town would have to-... have to... be..." ...Arthur's idle expression suddenly turned into shock, and then avoidance. "...No I don't."

 

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"..."

 

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"...Yes I do... urgh. It's... not close, but there's one just a little under a couple of hours away if we go by horse and move by the battlefield, if Ferdiad and Godiva are willing to... lend them..."

 

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"Alright— so about four people, maybe five if Ferdiad's horse were to stretch it a little. Arthur, can you go with?" Arthur had that look that said 'no, but you're going to make me go anyway so I'm not going to say anything'. "...Alright. Anyone else? Ferdiad, Godiva, do either of you mind lending your horses or want to go with?"

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Shin gets sent tumbling to the ground by Tabitha's punch. "S-sorry.."

Briefly, a little intrusive thought entered Lizaveta's mind -- an inexplicable thought that somewhere, someone was getting scammed by the merchant class.   But she was on a battlefield, so s

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Mim emerged from the woods nearby where she had been busy. Her hair was damp, evidence of a wash, but perhaps more startling to all but perhaps Fey, it was now a bright crimson red. Beyond that, she was in her undershirt with a light blanket wrapped around her shoulders.

 

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"If I could go... After everything that happened today, my jacket is ruined and I need a new one. I could go with Crimson and get that and the supplies. Probably best to send natives to the country after all, we should be able to blend in a bit better."

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By this point, Shin was feeling well enough to move. Or maybe it was that he wanted to move around for a bit to shake off all this sluggishness..

 

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"Uh. Kane.. I could go too. I mean if there's anything I can at least do, is that I can cover distance..? I guess. I could probably make it there pretty well with Scoopo" Shin scratches his neck.
"Assuming no one else wants to, or something."

 

 

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Kane blankly paused at Shin, before it clicked.

 

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"Right, Scoopo— shit..." Kane pinched the bridge of his nose— emphasizing the bags under his eyes. "That works very well then— we can have six go without encumbering Ferdiad... alright, Shin, you'll go, thank you, Mim..." Kane hardly notices the bright red hair. "That works well, you should also go..."

 

Even Arthur was broken out of the storm clouds over his head to look at Mim with nothing but utter confusion— a pause as he tried to look away for a moment before he gave up and continued to look at Mim, a question brimming at his throat.

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The leader's drowsiness was so apparent that even Shin's usual obliviousness picked up on it, easily. He flashes a look of worry before saying:

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"Kane.. I know you said that you don't run off much sleep, and.. I should probably be the LAST person to tell you this, but.. I don't think it's healthy, get some rest while we're gone ok..?"

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There was a pause as Kane's tired eyes looked at Shin. He let out a sigh— there was nothing quite like Shin of all people telling you that you needed to take a break.

 

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"Alright. I'll take a short rest while you're all out. But someone will need to wake me when you all get back."

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"I can stay here. I'd rather not risk getting caught out without a mask like the rest of you, but I'd also be more than happy to go and be a guide of sorts. Hera could use a little bit more exercise as well, so she can lend a hand as well."

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Baldur wasn't exactly thrilled nor in the right condition to be going on a big shopping trip at this moment. Besides, too many people in one group would draw some attention. At the mention of metal, Baldur is reminded of what he scavenged from Seigmund's defeated corpse. Baldur approached the smiting duo slowly, being careful as to not reopen anything. "Oh Simeon, if its metal you're looking for I did scrounge up this. I don't know what you could do with a shattered blade, especially when its chained and enchanted with dark magic. However, if you could use this in any way, be that fixing this up or turning it into a mask, you're the expert so I'll leave it to your disgression." Pausing for a moment, he then continues, "Though, if it would be possible, I'd like to keep the handle of the blade. Just as a sort of... reminder of sorts."

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Mim awkwardly looked over at Crimson, his stare not missing her notice, and gave him a small shrug. It was her hair color. The potion that had dyed it had been a mistake and she had finally gotten it reversed. Obviously it was causing confusion, but at the same time, it was a hair color...

 

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"It probably makes sense to split into groups of two, approach from different sides of the village. Have one group look for food, the other metal. If we're looking for both, it draws attention. We're looking for supplies for a fighting group at that point. If two people are looking for food, we could just be travelers. Two people looking for metal are just a blacksmith's apprentices running errands for him. Some of our enemies escaped after the last battle. We have to assume that news of us is going to spread, so staying as quiet as possible is best. Wouldn't you agree, Kane?"

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On 2/26/2021 at 2:30 AM, RedMageCole said:

Kane remained silent for a moment, giving his own sigh.

 

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"Yeah. Yeah, same boat." He didn't have much else to say in response.

 

Lenore pauses a minute.

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".....you ever consider giving up?"

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After letting Baldur rest, he'd found himself suddenly at a loss of what to do. Casting a distracted gaze across the bloodied, battle-torn fort, he'd eventually gone sorting through the bodies of the dead. Closing the eyes of those locked in expressions of pain, making note of weaponry and armor. It wasn't their job — nor did they have the luxury of time or means, even if it were — to put them to rest, but he did these small gestures anyway, as though they would be somehow useful.

 

At some point, the rest of their caravan make it through, and talk turns to scouting a nearby town for supplies. Though he knows his answer even before Kane asks, he can't help but feel... something — when the other mentions need of his horse, even for something as simple as transport. Is it relief? Or guilt? It's hard to say for certain. At least until Shin mentions his own steed.

 

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Ferdiad blinks, suddenly feeling a little awkward. "Er, I am happy to lend you all Bradwr, still, if... you have need of him." He clears his throat, tries to sound surer than he feels. "I'll stay here." He's about to say more, then realizes there isn't really anything more, and trails off lamely instead with "he's tethered just outside."

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"...Giving up?... No. As tiring as everything is, as difficult as things are... I don't give up. Even if my work gets sloppy, I will not give up. As long as even just one person will stand by me."

 

———

 

Simeon looked astounded at Baldur's find.

 

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"Ye think I'd waste such precious metal on a mask? This is... I've never seen metal like this in all me days. Hm..." Simeon examined the shattered blade, nodding as fast as his old bones would let him. "I'll definitely need to examine it further. Ye can keep the handle— it's just an ordinary handle. Mementos are more important than turning something into scrap. Thank ye kindly."

 

———

 

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"Okay... thank you, Shin... and thank you, Ferdiad, Godiva. That's very generous of you both..." Kane counted Arthur, Mim, and Shin. "One per horse... mmm... Groups of two right now doesn't seem... ideal," Kane's eyes drifted to Shin, knowing full well Mim's plan. They had a bit of pity mixed with the sheer amount of tired in them. "...but if anyone wants to be a last minute taker, go for it. I'll... be downstairs if anyone needs me."

 

Arthur tried to keep his eyes off of Mim's hair after she shrugged, but he was having difficulty doing so. This would continue, at least until he got on a horse and had to concentrate on the road.

 

...

 

Arthur, Mim, and Shin, along with any other members of Virtuous that deemed the time spent shopping useful, went out on their journey. Arthur led the way— his expression staying frustrated the whole ride. His directions took the small group back to the battlefield. Hundreds of corpses from one skirmish littered the grounds, a gentle dusting of snow beginning to cover them all.

 

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"What a fucking waste of life... just how you like it, Father..." Arthur grumbled as the party had to ride past the battlefield full of corpses. Not a soul moved... save for the distant, rare, yet somewhat distinct flapping of a wyvern's wings. Arthur immediately held the reins, scanning the skies. "Shit! We've been spotted, it might be Ruslan's lackeys coming for a round two—! Ready your arrows, you two!... Wait. Wait, hold on." Arthur's battle-readiness was quickly replaced with utter confusion. "...It's just one... two? Why in the hell is there someone clinging to that wyvern's leg?

 

Boss and Mina may post!

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Clinging on for dear life on the wyvern's leg with tears streaming down her face was a pink haired sage seeing just seconds from falling off

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"OH GODS OF THIS LAND PLEASE TAKE PITY ON THIS TRAVELER AND LET ME LIVE!!!" She prayed in desperation, though at the speed they were going it was unlikely anyone would be able to make out her cries. As she continued to grab on to the Wyvern's leg she made the poor decision of looking down, naturally this was a pretty bad idea no matter what when you're barely holding on hundreds of feet in the air, but this was especially bad due to the grisly sight below them. "H-hey Boss are those corpses down there?!" She attempted to get the rider's attention, reaching one arm out and attempting to tap her leg.

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It's not very easy to see her over the pitch-black wyvern, especially from a distance, but a boyish-looking girl in warm clothes is holding onto the saddle of the mount.

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"What?"
Boss barely raises her voice, feeling a tap on her shoe. The beat of a wyvern's wings is loud, and the wind even more so. She can't hear a word Mina's saying, but she assumes she's just afraid of heights or something--Completely unaware that Vaughn has neglected her duties of carrying properly and that Mina is in mortal danger of falling. It's very hard to see her from this angle.

"Is this the place?"

Boss glances down at the landscape. Wow, lots of bodies. Mina wants to get dropped off here? Weird, but okay. Boss signals for Vaughn to start lowering.

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“Well I’m glad you like it, and thanks for letting me keep this.” The butler gives a slight bow before trying to figure out what he’s going to do before they head back out. He knows he should be resting but he can’t sit still while within these halls. Though, now that he thinks about it he hasn’t seen Lucy ever since... that scene. Might be good to go check up on her.

 

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His searching eventually brought him to the throne room where he would find a napping Lucy curled up on its decadent seat. All this stress probably knocked her out. She can’t just sleep here either. First of all, it’s a big chair that’s not meant for sleeping and second she’ll catch a cold without at least a blanket of some sort. Though, it’s not like he knows the inner workings of this fort either. However, Adelaida definitely would. Leaving the napping girl for now he now goes back where he las saw the soldier.

 

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“Say Adelaida, mind showing me where the beds or blankets are kept in this fort? Lucy fell asleep in the throne room and she’s bound to catch a cold with this weather without some covers.”

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On 3/5/2021 at 7:28 PM, RedMageCole said:

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"...Giving up?... No. As tiring as everything is, as difficult as things are... I don't give up. Even if my work gets sloppy, I will not give up. As long as even just one person will stand by me."

Lenore studies Kane closely for a moment.
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"........you know, you sound like one of those fairy tale heroes, don't you? You sound corny as hell.""

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Shin had been trailing behind Mim and Arthur during the whole trip, as expected. His chose to have his eyes wander about to take a look at the scenery before happening to notice a ..moving dot? Somewhere in the sky? It seems to be lowering, it might land near them actually. Shin starts to call out.

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"Hey, Mim, Arthur. There's... something? someone? Up there.."

Upon closer inspection, someone appears to be dangling off... a wyvern?

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"Oh.. it's some people on a Wyvern.."

Upon even closer inspection, said dangling person is clearly not having a good time.
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".....I think we should help them." Shin starts to have Scoopo speed up toward their direction. "HEY! ..ARE YOU OKAY??" He shouts towards the airborne group.

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"Lenore—" Another crack opens in Kane's shell— a particularly large one with fragments of impatience splitting off. It was only when he put a hand to his forehead that Kane was able to take a deep breath. "...If that's your view of me... then that's fine. I don't mind being corny or living in a fairy tale. As long as it gets the job done, then I'll don the mask of Phoenix for as long as it takes— it was stupid of me to try to be anything but Phoenix." Kane turned away, his voice turning quiet. "...I need to go figure out our next plan of action. Alone, please."

 

His footsteps were muffled underneath the snow.

 

———

 

Simeon bid Baldur farewell with a toothy smirk. He had a couple of teeth missing.

 

Adelaida wasn't too far off— she had already begun taking her pauldrons off before she noticed Baldur.

 

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"Huh? Oh, yeah, there's- Oh, shit-" Adelaida's eyes slightly widened, before closing with a set of gritted teeth. "Fuck, there's wounded Rian soldiers down there, I forgot... Well, we're in for it if they come up here. I don't imagine they'll be willin' to go for a fight immediately but... Well, your call. I don't see bossman around here."

 

———

 

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"...Mmmrgh. No, we'd better not take our chances. Let's keep moving and pretend—"

 

But it was too late. Shin had already begun shouting. Arthur reached out to him, then slapped his forehead.

 

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"Shin— Shin stop it— Shin— oooh boy this is gonna be interesting. Mim?" Arthur looked to Mim with a somewhat pleading look, his eyes instinctively darting to her hair.

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Boss sees a man on a horse approaching as Vaughn flies lower. He's yelling and waving.

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("A meeting?")
If this is somewhere Mina wants to drop, it makes sense that someone is waiting for her. 
As the wyvern glides down close to the ground, Boss taps her on the wing. Vaughn lets go of Mina at a low elevation, aiming for the ragged man on the horse.

After launching dropping off Mina, Boss lands close by. Vaughn's claws drag a small cloud of dirt behind them. She turns around to look.

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("...She didn't die, did she?")

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Vaughn grunts. Boss takes it as "No, probably."

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So this is how she was going to die... not peacefully in her sleep surrounded by loved ones back home, but instead by being dropped from the sky by a Wyvern onto a sea of corpse a millions miles from anyone she knew. At least no one she cared about would know about her humiliatingly fate.

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"GYYYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!"

The sage screamed as she plummeted down to the ground. Fortunately there seemed to be some homeless man on a horse right below her, maybe he could break her fall? Without any hesitation Mina braced for impact as she moved in to crash into the strange looking man.

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Without even a moment to process what was coming at him, by the time he noticed a person being flung towards Shin, it was already too late.

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"..Wait a minu-" Shin could only mutter out, before a woman lands, foot first onto Shin's face, COMPLETELY knocking him off his horse landing face down onto the ground. The girl, miraculously lands perfectly onto Scoopo, who knows enough to focus on bringing her to safety. Shin has survived worse after all. Probably.

Shin is now currently left in the dust, having absorbed the impact for the girl. He might be unconscious. 

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Arthur could hardly watch this— the hand that hit himself in the face blocked his view.

 

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"...We'd... Better help him more than anything," Arthur sighed, peering past his hand towards Mim.

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Mim... Had no chance to react to Crimson's pleading due to the sudden dropkicking of Shin that occured. A quiet sigh escaped before she made her way to Shin. 

 

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"I'm not quite sure who you two are, or where you're from, but could you please try to refrain from dropping onto any more of our companions? We've been through a lot and we really don't need more people getting hurt."

 

She knelt down next to Shin, checking to make sure he was still breathing. Thankfully he was, so she just put a small portion of a potion down his throat and settled into a sitting position next to him.

 

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"So mind telling us who you are? Only feels fair after you dropkicked our friend off his horse. You don't usually see that many travelers out here all that often, especially not with the battles going on around here."

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