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 Loyalties

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PostSubject: Loyalties    Sun Feb 24, 2013 10:06 pm

Christopher couldn't help but feel nervous as his group of rangers approached the city wall, this was his first real battle after all, he had been in several small skirmishes, but nothing anywhere near this size, and nothing even close to warrant the use of the dragons. He had seen them fly ahead, leading the charge, he felt awe and envy as he saw the majestic creatures and their riders, that quickly changed to fear and reverence when he saw them burn through sections of the wall and city. He felt a bit of sorrow for the civilians he knew would still be in the city, but quickly stifled it, distractions like that could get a man killed.

As the group he was in neared the walls they used special hooks attached to arrows to scale it and he was the third to climb up, two of his companions already had their swords drawn and were fighting soldiers still on top of the wall. He quickly drew his sword and joined them, helping to cut a few enemies down while the rest of the group climbed up. After that they began to move from building to building by rooftop as best they could, some of them being massively damaged by dragon-fire he couldn't help but awe at the cleanliness of some of the burns, as if it melted through the stonework of the house instantly. He was glad he was on their side.

As the group made it to their destination they saw Atmoran and Langardian troops in combat, he reached for his bow and immediately began supporting his allies, his other companions did the same, shooting enemy troops to help their advance, as they slowly pushed it wasn't long until they met ranged opposition. He ducked down as enemy arrows whizzed past, taking a couple of his allies with them. He slid down the edge of the roof he was on, trying to flank the enemy, when he saw one of their spell-casters standing alone on the street. He aimed his bow but never got the chance to fire, as one minute he was aiming, the next the entire roof was flying through the air, and the next he had hit the ground and everything was black.

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“Hurt spreads and grows and reaches out to break what’s good. Time heals all wounds, but often it’s only by the application of the grave, and while we live some hurts live with us, burning, making us twist and turn to escape them. And as we twist, we turn into other men.”

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PostSubject: Re: Loyalties    Mon Feb 25, 2013 4:48 pm

Elzitin Hazelthorn walked through the city streets, a basket full of fresh herbs nestled in her arm. The sun was already setting; it had taken her longer to find the specific plants she needed than she had expected. Nevertheless, the trip would be worth it in the end. She had managed to find one root of Silvervein, which would give a significant boost to her healing potions. She couldn't help but smile. It had been several months since she had seen one in a store. Today must be her lucky day.

Looking around her, it was easy to forget, almost, that they were at war. Children wove in and out of the people in the streets, peddlers shouted at passerbys in an attempt to sell their wares, birds sang in the sky - she frowned. Actually, she could hear no birds today. That was odd; usually the Whip-poor-wills were filling the evening air by this time. From somewhere near the city gate she heard a trumpet call. Her heart jumped to her throat. She had been trained to wait for that call - to dread it. She quickened her pace. If this was not another false alarm, she would be needed at the infirmary before long.

Mothers began ushering their children indoors, looking fearfully towards the sky. Elzi couldn't help but look up as well. A huge beast, larger than a building, eclipsed the setting sun. She fought back a scream as it spewed a stream of pure heat down on the city. Screams erupted into the dusk as flames began to spread from building to building. She cursed, clutching her basket to her chest. Her path to the infirmary was blocked. She glanced around for an alternate route, but it seemed like the whole world was on fire. The men of the village did what they could to squelch the flames, but the dragon-fire was difficult to put out.

Suddenly black figures began to appear through the flames. Her breath caught. Dragon Knights. Their armor seemed to repel the flames which licked around their feet as they walked. She stumbled backwards, almost falling to the ground, before ducking behind a cart that some vender had abandoned. As if on que, a group of Langardian soldiers came running around the corner. They began hurling their battle-magic at the enemy. Elzi took advantage of the distraction and ducked through the soldiers, determined to make it back to the infirmary. She was one of the strongest alchemists they had; they would need her help magicking the bandages of the wounded. They would need more burn ointment made, too. Strong ointment - dragon-fire burned more deeply than regular flames. Ahead of her, a body fell off of a roof and crashed heavily through a make-shift barn. The mules scattered, panicked. Elzi ran towards the injured man, coming to a skidding halt as she recognized Atmoran armor. She took a deep breath. Her hand involuntarily went up to grasp the green band on her arm that identified her as a healer. Despite what he was, she could not knowingly leave a person to die. She crouched down beside him.

The man had a long gash across his forehead that had quickly covered his face in blood. It did not look too deep, but head wounds always bleed the most. He would be lucky if he came out of this with a clear head. She glanced around, conflicted. The fighting seemed to be heading deeper into the city, since the dragon blasts were sounding from farther and farther away. She reached into her bag and quickly dug out the raw ingredients for a healing ointment. It would not be perfect, but it would staunch the bleeding and help with any trauma to the brain. She scraped a bit of her Silvervien root into it as well and quickly crushed it into a gooey paste. She ripped a strip of cloth from the soldier's uniform and quickly wrapped his head, coating the bandage in her ointment. She frowned as she looked at the soldier's face. Something seemed familiar about this man.

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PostSubject: Re: Loyalties    Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:09 pm

He faded in and out of consciousness, when he was conscious he could faintly hear the sounds of war over the throbbing pain in his head. His forehead burned from a gash he had sustained in the fall. He could slightly feel the blood pouring down his face, when he tried to open his eyes it dripped in causing them to burn. The world around him ceased to exist as the throbbing increased and the world went black once more.

The next time he gained consciousness the first thing he noticed was that the pain in his head had lessened, and the blood had been wiped away. He could tell the battle was farther away now as the dragon's roars were almost distant, at least, he hoped they were. The next thing he noticed beyond the lessened pain was the smell in the air, it was a strange scent, yet distantly familiar to him. He forced his eyes opened and saw a woman taking care of him, he almost jumped in surprise. He saw the basket of herbs and figured the woman for a healer, the green band around her arm had confirmed it, yet, why would she help him? A member of the army attacking her town.

She wasn't looking at him when he opened his eyes, so he had doubted she noticed he was awake, knowing she was a healer for Langardia, his first instinct was too attack, yet, his pride as a man made him second guess himself, he would not kill a noncombatant, especially one who had just saved his life. Not only that, but he couldn't shake the feeling that he had seen her before, he moved his aching muscles to lean up against a wall so he could at least slightly get off the ground and he looked at the woman, his savior.

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“Hurt spreads and grows and reaches out to break what’s good. Time heals all wounds, but often it’s only by the application of the grave, and while we live some hurts live with us, burning, making us twist and turn to escape them. And as we twist, we turn into other men.”

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PostSubject: Re: Loyalties    Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:21 pm

Elzi looked around her, stunned, as the battlefield around her quieted. She looked, in vain, for fellow Langardians but everyone she saw was in that accursed Atmoran cloth. Luckily, they did not seem to be paying any mind to a soot-covered girl crouching in a destroyed barn. She closed her eyes as she tried to block out the sound of her people, her friends, being systematically destroyed. She heard one voice cry out for help, but she knew she would never make it to him through those enemy combatants. The voice went silent. She felt tears of frustration welling up inside her but brutally forced them back. She would not be seen crying on the battlefield. Her tears would help no one. She started as the figure next to her began to stir.

Elzi backed away as the enemy soldier regained consciousness. Despite her best intentions to be brave, she found a slight tremor beginning in her legs. She prayed that she would have the strength to flee, or fight, if she needed to. She squinted her eyes, wiping away the few stubborn tears that had made it to the surface. Sure enough, the more she looked at this man, the more she felt that she had seen his face before.

He was regarding her with the same mixture of intruige and mistrust that she felt. She reached for the quartz crystal that hung at her neck. She was not skilled at battle-magic, but that stone would grant her enough power for a few attacks, if need be. At the very least, it should be enough to allow her to get away. Hopefully there would be other survivors. . . there had to be. Surly even the Atmarans wouldn't destroy a whole city. . . right?

She shook her head. The soldier didn't seem inclined to attack - at least not yet. A sudden recognition hit her.

"By Luthern!" she murmured, "but he looks just like Christopher. . ."

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PostSubject: Re: Loyalties    Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:38 pm

Christopher was almost hit by a wave of realization when he had heard the woman speak. A sudden wave of childhood memories flooded through his mind as he remembered a dear friend. He lowered his cautious stance yet didn't move towards her, he wasn't sure if she knew who he was exactly. And he could see the crystal around her neck, and knew such trinkets often aided with magic.

"E.. Elzi.. Is that you?" He asked as he traced his fingers across a dagger he had hidden in his belt, 'it never hurt to be too cautious' he thought, especially if she didn't remember him and tried to attack. Yet he doubted she would, as he could tell the majority of people in the area were Atmoran soldiers, his thoughts wandered for a second, as he wondered if any of his ranger group survived. Yet he quickly returned to the matter at hand.

If she did recognize him... what would he do? He couldn't kill her, and he couldn't leave her to be discovered and killed.. or worse. He knew his fellow soldiers could be ruthless, it's how they were trained. Even if she weren't discovered right away, he knew she'd have a hard time escaping the city. Which he needed to know how many hours it had been since the beginning of the assault, he needed to know how much longer they had until the dragons and their riders got bored playing and just razed the city.

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The night is dark and full of terrors.

“Hurt spreads and grows and reaches out to break what’s good. Time heals all wounds, but often it’s only by the application of the grave, and while we live some hurts live with us, burning, making us twist and turn to escape them. And as we twist, we turn into other men.”

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PostSubject: Re: Loyalties    Sat Mar 02, 2013 12:23 pm

Elzi blinked, unable to form words for a moment. After all that had happened today, this was the last thing she had expected. She didn't quite know what to make of it. She wiped her forehead and allowed herself to fall from her crouching position into a sitting one. The commotion outside had almost quieted, though she was almost certain that it wasn't a good sign. She wondered vaguely if the infirmary still stood.

"Chris?" she whispered in response. "Wh-what? What are you doing here? Why are you with the Atmarans!?"

She felt an unexplained mixture of joy, confusion, and anger at seeing him here. It was good to see him after all these years. Why did it have to be like this, though? They were friends - why did he suddenly appear with the enemy? Nothing made sense right now. She shook her head. She opened her mouth to confront him again, but froze as she heard boots outside of the barn. A Dragon Knight pushed over a loose roof-beam that had fallen and had helped to serve in blocking them from view.

"Everything okay in there, ranger?" he asked in a crisp tone.

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PostSubject: Re: Loyalties    Sun Mar 03, 2013 12:48 am

Christopher had moved in-front of Elzi as soon as he heard the boots outside, he was thankful she had sat down and hoped the knight hadn't seen her. He felt a tremendous amount of fear as he stood, trying to hide his friend. 'Everything is fine sir, I was searching for any hiding civilians. I found none.' He said in a confident tone, the one he had always used when he addressed another soldier. He had hoped this would be enough to make the knight leave, if not, he still had his dagger..

Instinct had caused him to move, an instinct to protect her had kicked in immediately, just like when they were younger. But now, if it failed, it could cost them their lives, if the knight left, everything would be okay, if he saw Elzi, Christopher knew he would be faster, but he did not know how quiet it could be. Or if he even truly had the nerve to attack... to kill an ally. Even if he did, the amount of noise it would make could be dangerous as well. His mind was racing as he considered the possibilities...

_________________
The night is dark and full of terrors.

“Hurt spreads and grows and reaches out to break what’s good. Time heals all wounds, but often it’s only by the application of the grave, and while we live some hurts live with us, burning, making us twist and turn to escape them. And as we twist, we turn into other men.”

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PostSubject: Re: Loyalties    Thu Mar 21, 2013 9:35 pm

Elzi acted by instinct, pulling into herself to make her appear as small as possible. As long as Christopher was standing between her and the Knight she should be okay. She didn't dare do anything that might draw attention to herself, however. She barely dared to breath lest he hear her somehow. Her eyes darted up to Christopher's silhouetted form. Why was he protecting her, anyway? True, they had been close friends growing up, but that felt like a lifetime ago - before the war had started. Now he was on the side of the enemy. Atmorans were viscious soldiers, trained to kill without question or prejudice. . . right? That was all she had heard since the Atmorans had attacked. Drachmans weren't much better, though by treaty they were considered allies. What was Christopher's motive here? And, more importantly, how far would he truly go to protect an old friend? She wasn't sure she wanted to find out.

"If you've found none, then report back to your CO, ranger. Do not loiter - there may still be enemy combatants hiding in the area." The Knight hardly gave Christopher a second glance. His posture said it all - rangers were beneath him in the line of command, which meant that they were merely pawns to be moved about the board. "Glory to the Dragons." He turned and walked back to his position in the line that was sweeping the area for any signs of resistance.

Elzi allowed herself a small sigh of relief once she was sure the Knight was out of ear-shot. That was one trial past, at least. She still had to find out exactly what was going on though. And, by Luthern, she needed to find a way to help the wounded! She glanced up at Christopher, waiting to see what his next move would be.

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PostSubject: Re: Loyalties    Fri Mar 22, 2013 3:57 pm

As soon as the knight was away, Christopher gave a sigh of relief and leaned against the wall. Then he looked down at Elzi and gave her a half smile, "That was too close, you're nowhere near safe here, there's too many of them." He paced back and forth wondering what to do, he couldn't leave her to die, but he couldn't just waltz out of there with her in tow, and if anyone else from his group had survived, they'd start looking for fallen members. All of the ranger groups would, making it harder to sneak through what was left of the city.

He looked at Elzi and realized just how long it had been, they were not children anymore, they had changed so much, when he thought of himself he wondered if it was for the better. The day his family moved he had thought he would never see her again, yet, here, among all of this, she had found him. He couldn't help but thank and curse the strange world at the same time.

"So, what now?" He asked her, curious what she thought the two of them should do. The sounds of the moving army was getting fainter, and he knew, that it was only a matter of time before the dragons flew back through.

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The night is dark and full of terrors.

“Hurt spreads and grows and reaches out to break what’s good. Time heals all wounds, but often it’s only by the application of the grave, and while we live some hurts live with us, burning, making us twist and turn to escape them. And as we twist, we turn into other men.”

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PostSubject: Re: Loyalties    Thu May 23, 2013 4:33 pm

Elzi stood up slowly, brushing the dirt and straw off of her clothes. Her mind was racing with a million thoughts. At least, for now, she seemed to have someone looking after her. She gave Christopher a tentative smile. She looked around, not sure what to do. Christopher was right, there were way too many Atmorans around. They were gathering survivors, for Luthern knew what fate, and gathering the bodies of the fallen. She shook her head. It seemed hopeless.

"I really have no idea," she said slowly. Everything seemed hazy and her heart was racing. She recognized the signs of shock, but now was not the time to subcome to panic. "I wish there was someway to help everyone, but there's no way to do that from here. I need to get out of this city, somehow, and rejoin the Healer's Legion. They'll be able to tell me where I'm needed most. The'll need help with ointment and bandages. We haven't been able to keep up with the demand since the war started and. . ." she bit her lip to cut herself off. She had begun to ramble.

Trembling, she wrapped her arms around herself.

"I just don't know," she whispered.

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PostSubject: Re: Loyalties    Thu May 23, 2013 8:51 pm

Christopher sighed and removed his patterned cloak, and he tossed it to her. "Put this on and put the hood up as tight as you can. That'll make this slightly easier if you look like one of us." He also took out his dagger and tentatively handed it to her handle first. "Anyone gets to us that I can't take care of, stick them with the pointy end." He almost smiled as he remembered a time from their childhood, she had seen him practicing knife throwing not long before he moved, he remembered telling her he wouldn't be around to protect her anymore, and he handed her a knife and gave her the same advice. Never knowing if it would have helped.

This left him with a short sword, sadly his bow was not around, he could only assume it had broken in the fall. He would have much preferred the amount of stealth it would've given him. As it was he'd have to be a smooth talker, or have a very quick draw. He glanced outside the building they were in, there were no people in the immediate vicinity, but it was only a bit down the road that he could see soldiers. He had no way of knowing if the Langardians were still fighting, if they were he could have led her to their lines and left her there. But as it was, he would have to get her out of the city.

He was long passed the point of no return, he could see the walls of the city, but they looked so far on all sides, he decided they would go in the opposite direction of the Atmoran camps, that would lead them into a forest if he remembered the land correctly. From there they could go towards a Langardian city, and find her Healer's Legion, the only soldiers they should pass were the ones gathering the dead and wounded for the pyre. They would take them all, and burn them in the name of the dragon lord and their king. These soldiers would be of low rank, and wouldn't have cause too question a ranger, they knew it was our custom to hunt our dead to add to the top of the pyre. As it was believed their souls would be the first to meet the High Dragon, and go to reside in the Catacombs of Atmora. He looked as Elzi and said, "We'll go east, that should get us out and into a forest, from there, you can lead to a city. We need to hurry though."

_________________
The night is dark and full of terrors.

“Hurt spreads and grows and reaches out to break what’s good. Time heals all wounds, but often it’s only by the application of the grave, and while we live some hurts live with us, burning, making us twist and turn to escape them. And as we twist, we turn into other men.”

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PostSubject: Re: Loyalties    Wed Jun 26, 2013 10:05 am

Elzi wrapped herself in the cloak, trying not to shiver. It felt wrong to be wearing Atmoran colors, but there was no other alternative. She pulled the hood over her face so that it shadowed most of her features. A bead of sweat ran down her face. The cloak was hot, and the fires from the dragon's flames were not making it any better. She wiped it away absently; there were much larger problems to worry about than her physical comfort.

She took the knife and found herself smiling at the familiar words.

"I've never been that great with the pointy part," she admitted. Thanks to Christopher she did know how to use one, but blades had always made her uncomfortable. Any weapon brought on the same response, truly. She strengthened her resolve. She would use it, if she had to. The thought sickened her, went against everything she believed in as a healer, but she would do it.

She followed Christopher as he turned towards the East. She kept close behind his back, doing her best to act like she was supposed to be there. It was hard. Atmorans surrounded her, going about their business. She felt like a lamb who had wandered into the wolves' den. She kept her back straight, her stride confident, despite her tumultuous feelings inside. She would not give these wolves a reason to believe she was prey.

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PostSubject: Re: Loyalties    Thu Jun 27, 2013 9:41 pm

As Christopher led her East, he could feel her discomfort and worry, and he was thankful the cloak concealed her face and form. It was not impossible for a woman to be in the rangers, but uncommon, and there were none in his division, and any other ranger would know that. But the cloak easily hid her feminine features, and so far no one had stopped him. He didn't see any one of higher rank than a foot soldier, other than the occasional ranger poking through buildings in the distance, those were his true worry. There was a friendly rivalry between the ranger groups, and they made it a point to know each other, they would be the ones that could expose them right away, and he made sure to give them as wide a berth as possible. This part of the city almost looked like it had been ruined for years. 'The dragons had been thorough here' he wondered aloud before he remembered they had flew in from the East. Ofcourse this part of the city would be so bad.

The further they went the less of Atmoran soldiers they saw. The majority of them were heading Northwest towards the keep. Pretty soon they would be so far away that that alone would make them suspicious, but the walls were getting closer. He hoped there wouldn't be any troops, but almost knew that would be impossible.

Almost as if in response to his thoughts he heard voices, "Quick, in there, now." He whispered urgently to Elzi and pointed to the closest building. He pressed himself against the wall hoping she listened to him and he slowly inched forward, when he could see around the corner he saw a group of 4 knights talking. "Do you think anyone is actually stupid enough to desert?" He heard one of them say. "Probably, they always do." Another one answered. Christopher stayed against the wall peeking out at them, praying Elzi would be safe as he tried to figure out how to get around them.

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The night is dark and full of terrors.

“Hurt spreads and grows and reaches out to break what’s good. Time heals all wounds, but often it’s only by the application of the grave, and while we live some hurts live with us, burning, making us twist and turn to escape them. And as we twist, we turn into other men.”

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