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 Tale of Two Swords

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Fuzzy

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PostSubject: Tale of Two Swords   2012-09-12, 7:51 pm

Chapter 1: Open Season



A chill breeze snaked its way through the trees and over the lush grass. A woman sat at a lone table in the middle of a forest, sipping tea from a fine Chinese set. She glanced at her reflection in the small cup; eyes of royal purple stared back at her from beyond the frame of her glasses. She set the cup onto its plate, and placed them both on the small table before her. The small device at her ear crackled before hushed words were fed through.

“Target sighted. Orders?”

Lien brought her fingers to her ear and spoke calmly. “One moment. Chiyo-san, are you in place?”

“Ready, ready!” A slightly more enthusiastic voice reached her ear.

“Good girl. Amelia-san, you may fire when ready.” She crossed her left leg over her right and retrieved her cup. It was such a nice day outside.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Yuji leaned against a tree, hunched over on his knees and panting for air. She’s been at this for HOURS!! I’ve never seen her so persistent… He steadied his breath and leaned his head back against the tree’s bark. The sound of rustling leaves carried through the canopy above. If it weren’t for the damn wind, he could probably hear her. Although, the same could be said for her as well. He cautiously poked his head to the tree’s side…

“WHOA!!” A bullet of pure ice rocketed into the tree’s side and hardened into icicles upon the splash. Yuji had ducked behind the tree just in time to avoid being hit. He scrambled to the right and dove for the next tree, dodging three more shots. Yuji jumped off of the tree’s midsection to gain some height as he maneuvered to the next tree. Two ice bullets came close to striking his legs. He sat down at the tree’s stump and took out one of his swords. A stream of sunlight bled through the thicket of trees above him. Judging by the angle of the shots… He needed a little more confirmation before acting.

“Is that really Amelia out there?! I can’t believe that they’d actually send a rookie in after me!” Yuji called out into the forest. An angry voice responded in the distance.

“When we find you, I’m gonna bash your stupid face into the ground!” Yuji closed his eyes and focused on its direction. The wind wasn’t helping too much, but he took the shot direction into consideration. He edged his knife closer to the tree’s edge.

“Bash my face into the ground, what?! That should do it.

“SIR!!!” Another icy shot tore through the bark to his side, nicking his shoulder. Sure of himself, Yuji brought his blade to the side and bathed it in sunlight. Its reflection shot off in the direction behind him. He sheathed his sword, hearing a satisfying “Damn it!” from far off. Amelia flinched away from her scope as a sudden flare blinded her. Yuji launched forward from the tree’s stump. Putting more distance between them was a good thing. If she had no idea where he was, he could probably get away. Yuji chuckled to himself, having out maneuvered her.

Shit, did she say ‘we’?

“CHIYO SNEAK ATTAAAACK!!!” A pink blur descended upon Yuji, prompting him to deftly sprint to the right. The pink object smashed into the ground, kicking up dust in all directions and shaking every tree in the forest with the force of impact. Yuji stood at the smoke cloud’s border. He should have figured she’d be along for the ride. That must mean she’s close by, too.

“You know, it’s not a sneak attack if you yell it out.” Yuji laughed a little at the young devil’s fervor. There was no answer. After a few moments, he started to wonder if she’d knocked herself out. That was a pretty big impact. “Chiyo…? Hey, say something if you’re b--WHOA SHIT!!” Yuji bent his body back in time to see a twenty foot tree sail over him, inches above his face. The tree continued to fly forward like a massive bullet, crashing through trees in its path. He was sure he’d felt his heart stop when he heard another tree being uprooted. “Crap, crap, CRAP!!” Yuji scrambled to his feet and started running away as fast as humanly possible. Fear compelled him to look back. A short girl with vibrant pink hair was chasing him, holding an entire tree!

When Yuji turned his attention to where he was going, a glint of light sent a wave of panic through his mind. Thin wires were heavily laced throughout the area before him. Definitely one of her traps. He took a big step and leaped above the trees. “Haha, no problem!” And it wouldn’t have been, had he remembered there was a very angry woman with a sniper rifle just waiting for a clear shot. A bullet of pure wind force smashed into his side, sending him spiraling back toward the ground. Yuji rolled as he landed and hid behind a tree to avoid another shot. The pain in his side was already subsiding.

“You’ll have to do better than that to--!” A small hand gripped Yuji’s jacket.

“Gotcha!” A pleased Chiyo beamed up at Yuji. She was about to say something else, but stopped and looked down at her feet. “Oh, wait.” She deliberately took two steps back, dragging Yuji with her. Perhaps it was the shock of her having worked together with Amelia, but Yuji stepped along with her. Chiyo’s smile returned. “Okay! AAAAAND…!” She began swinging Yuji around in circles, picking up momentum. His cries of “WAITWAITWAIT!” went unheard as she hurled him into the sky, screaming “FLY AWAAAAAAY!!!”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Quite some distance away, a woman sat at a small table amidst the forest scenery, finishing her tea. Just then, Yuji came violently crashing through the canopy overhead. Instead of smashing into the ground, Yuji’s body was caught gently in various threads kneaded with Chi. He hung from his limbs, which pointed in different, equally humorous directions. An expression mix between grumpiness and disbelief was plastered to his face. Lien set down her empty cup.

“This whole fiasco is rather unbecoming of a young man in your... position. Are you quite finished?”

“There is no way in HELL you knew I would be here.”

“Of course I knew, Ojousama. I am smarter than you.” Now she was just gloating.

“Yeah, okay, I got it. No more skipping out on class. What a lesson I have learned--WILL YOU CUT ME DOWN FROM HERE?!”

“One moment.” Lien stood from her chair and procured a small needle from her pouch. Yuji’s eyes widened. “I checked your medical records and it would appear you are overdue for your tetanus shot.” She smiled up at the bound Yuji and closed in on him. Something about that grin made it seem like she was not smiling…

“A-ah. W-wait a m-minute, there…!” Yuji struggled fruitlessly against his bonds.

“Please do not struggle, Ojousama. It will be over before you know it…” Her words were almost taunting.

A high pitched “Ow, ow, OOOOOWWW!!!” echoed through the forest.
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PostSubject: Re: Tale of Two Swords   2012-11-26, 10:06 pm

Jayce Baidrer, last of the Knights of the Dawn, may well have finally found a cause worthy of his life. A horde of orcs and their cousin races descended from the Dragonclaw Mountains and had already swept aside dozens of small towns and tiny garrisons. The kingdom’s armies were slow to respond, the bulk arrayed to the southern border to ward away aggression from the far larger Draggenden Empire, and even at a hard pace they would could hope for little more than meeting the advancing horde half-way.

Sir Baidrer had been travelling the northern provinces of the kingdom at the time, and was soon embroiled into the war. It became evident quickly that the horde was spurred on by a greater power; in this case, a wizard ripped out of legends. The arcanist had only shown himself once; and his spells had proven more than a match for the ancient walls of Irongate Keep; a garrison of ten thousand men had been slaughtered in a single night, and the fires of the keep’s great towers could be seen from horizon to horizon.

Not one fight a contracted battle, Sir Baidrer had assembled a band of volunteers; survivors of recent battles, mercenaries spurred to a greater cause then coin and reputation, even simple farmers, and they had set forth to seek out the horde’s leader.

Days passed, and dozens of comrades lay dead, buried in shallow graves when time permitted, others left to the buzzards when the enemy was too present a danger. But finally, they had tracked the warlock to an ancient glen ripped from a man’s nightmares; skeletal, dead trees sweated in the oppressive humidity, the ground was slick and mossy, with ancient bones poking out in places hinting at countless ancient battles fought there.

The wizard sought to work powerful magics in that dire place, and had with him only a small guard of orcs and ogres, as well as a dozen of their feral shamans. Sir Baidrer and his allies set upon them with a sudden ferocity, charging from the mists with pike and bow, blade and hammer, war cries and the names of lost loved ones for once over-powering the bellows and shrill cacophonies of the foul races of the wizard’s hordes.

Sir Baidrer was more than a match for the fell races; astride his loyal warhorse Longstep, he cleaved a path through the enemy and barreled down upon the wizard and his collected shamans mid-ritual. More powerful then he might have expected, the wizard still managed to tear the earth asunder beneath Sir Baidrer’s mount, sending both crashing to the mossy earth dozens of yards shy.

Sir Baidrer leapt from the saddle as Longstep tumbled and cried, and he hit the earth in a roll, moving with the practiced grace of a master of heavy armours. Despite the heavy weight of metal about his frame, he rolled to a knee and leapt forwards into a charge, his shield held before him just in time to catch and deflect another spell, the beautiful engravings on the face of the metal shield scoured away in the process.

He charged onwards, the shield cast aside and both hands gripping the long shaft of a warhammer, covering the ground between himself and the wizard swiftly. Two of the wizard’s shamans exploded in clouds of ash, others collapsing to their knees and their chants turning to pained cries as the ritual took its toll on their minds and bodies.

The wizard let out a frantic cry of outrage; the ritual was reaching its apex, demanding more of his attention to keep it from exploding out of control, yet the armoured knight continued to charge upon him, seeking to cut him down before it could be finished. Turning his attention from the spell would destroy him, but if he did not slay the knight he would surely die by his hands. The wizard let out a scream of frustration, nearly tearing his mind asunder in an effort to do both at once.

A sliver of the ritual’s raw power was torn away with a gesture, a wave of tainted arcane energies incinerating earth and trees in a flash, but the knight leapt through it without hesitation. Sir Baidrer had little choice but to continue; both duty and simple momentum demanded it. So he leapt through the desolation, his armour suddenly charred and smoking in places where the magicks had scored the polished steel.

He struck just as the wizard let out a cry of victory, one that was turned to a pained gurgle, as the warhammer embedded itself into the physically feeble old man’s chest, shattering ribs and shoulder in one powerful blow. An explosion of force tore away his senses for a moment. Everything seemed to shift and tear and burn away, reforming and crashing in upon itself repeatedly only to be shorn away like leaves in a tempest. Sir Baidrer crashed into something solid, letting out a cry of pain, but he held to consciousness desperately.

There was an overwhelming silence for what might have been an eternity, but then sound returned to him in an instant. Gone were the screams and cries of battle, replaced instead by the fervent clop-clop-clop of Longstep’s steel-shod hoof stomping the ground in a challenging fashion. The loyal destrier let out a derisive snort, and one hind leg kicked back, pattering grass and dirt against Sir Baidrer’s face.

He came to his senses with a start, finding his bearings quickly and raising to a knee from where he lay against the shattered trunk of a small tree. Smoke still rose from the pitted stains on his armour, and his body ached from head to toe, more in some places than others. Nothing felt broken, which was probably in itself a small miracle.

Gone was the swampish skeletal forest, replaced instead by lush green wilderness (perhaps not so far off from a woman having a spot of tea and discussing medical records to a rather captivated audience) save for a space some dozens of meters across where the ground was scorched near half a meter down, the remaining earth charred and smoking, and a few small fires sputtered and died in the surrounding greenery. Longstep stood protectively over him, and beyond stood what could only be some type of deamon.

Skin jet black and featureless, it stood nearly three meters tall from ground to shoulder. It had no head, nor face, and stood with a hunch. Two massively muscled arms ending in jagged boney blades, two powerful legs seemingly too short for its size. It seemed to cast about its surroundings, pivoting slowly until it seemed to notice Sir Baidrer and Longstep, and it turned to face the pair as the tired knight gained his feet.

His war hammer was gone; he held only part of the shaft of the weapon, which seemed to have been sliced clean through. That was dropped to the earth, and he moved forwards to Longstep’s saddle, where he pulled free a heavy bladed broadsword. His shield had been lost in the battle, so he eased himself into a two handed fighting style, left leg forwards and bent, right behind and fully extended, weapon held vertically and back to his right shoulder.

The creature seemed to hesitate a moment, sensing no fear in the two mortal flecks that stood before it; it was no arch-demon, but rather a mere soldier in its master’s army, plucked from whatever dread realm had spawned it by the dead wizard. It would have been the first of many the old wizard would have summoned, had he had the chance. But now this one was free, brought forth but without the binding ritual to control it. Free to do as it pleased.

The two arms crashed together, the blades were grinded together in an unsettling sound of splintering bone, and then it charged at the exhausted knight. It would cut this one man down, then be on its way to find more responsive prey.

He met its charge head on, leaping forwards as it came at him and letting out a wordless cry of defiance. One of its bladed arms flashed forwards, intent to skewer the slower moving mortal in one attack, but the man managed to leap forwards and twist in the air to his left. The blade left a shallow grove along the back plate of Sir Baidrer’s armour but did not find flesh nor slow the man’s momentum.

He landed on the earth behind the beast, steel-shod feet finding easy purchase in the charred earth, and he spun around to attack the thing as it forced itself to a halt. His blade hacked down at the tendons of one leg, but bit only shallowly into the monster’s tough hide. He barely managed to gain a defensive stance, the blade snapping up in front of him to catch the creature’s arm as it spun towards him, and he was knocked to the earth again a few meters away, hitting the shallow ridge of burned earth with the sound of a dozen pots and pans falling to the floor.

He rolled to his feet more slowly this time, arms nearly numb from the impact and readied for its next attack. Longstep kept his distance, knowing when to interfere and when to stay out of the way. The warhorse was well trained and more then capable in a fight, but against something like this, the huge horse' size would be more of a liability then an aide.
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PostSubject: Re: Tale of Two Swords   2012-11-27, 2:22 am

The faintly visible strands that suspended Yuji loosened. He pulled his legs beneath him on his decent, landing on his feet and rubbing the sore spot on his arm. "Uuuu... You're fired." He mumbled in a feigned ill-nature. Lien had begun packing up the table for transport, setting away her syringe and china. A smirk crossed her face upon hearing those words yet again. How many times was it now? Regardless, they were more a connotation of accepted defeat than a means of termination.

"You cannot afford to fire me, Ojousama." A mocking reply from her turned backside. This was the daily norm Yuji had come to both dread and await. A ritualistic form of training for himself and the girls, though he couldn't possibly let them know these events were intentional. Entertainment was his foremost drive to annoy them within a certain limit. He chuckled to himself as he turned to leave. Lien did not like his tone as of late. She was about to confront him with her suspicions when she heard something.

Each of the four heard something. It wasn't a noise that could be ignored; its magnitude saw to that. An unnatural din that shook the trees. Violently at close proximity, less so in the distance. An intrusion.

The next few seconds filled Lien's sight with blurred forestry as she raced toward the estimated origin of impact. Her receiver picked up a quieted voice. "Three visible targets. One horse, one human... God knows what that last thing is." Amelia's report came quietly despite her current purview from the battlefield. Perched in a tree beyond their sight, she lined her scope with the horse, man, and beast respectively. "Excluding the former, they're currently engaged."

Lien halted her advance, keeping a safe extension from what lay ahead; the intruders had come into view. With a silent flow of her wrists thin wires stretched through the area, no more noticeable than one stray silk strand of spider's web. "Assess the capabilities of both parties. Assume both are hostile for now. Chiyo-san, take point only by my command." Her commands were now sharp and preemptive. Being within visible range of the blackened creature set her on edge. A completely foreign entity that sent chills through her spine. Precautions were necessary, and now in place.

"Huh... This is new." Yuji's voice rang out from behind the fiendish being. His proximity to the demon mirrored the knight's. Lien's brow furrowed in anger. Amelia cursed down the barrel of her gun. Chiyo... had pretty much expected this from him. "It's not everyday an abomination gets plopped into my backyard." As Yuji raised his fists, a sky blue aura enveloped them in a slight glow. Wearing his usual casual clothing, he assumed an offensive stance. "It'd be a shame to waste the opportunity."

He inched forward slowly, aiming to close the gap at a cautious pace. His movements were short shuffles, a controlled center of gravity moved bit by bit. With each blade of grass that passed underfoot the boy watched the demon with unwavering sight.
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PostSubject: Re: Tale of Two Swords   2012-11-27, 5:48 pm

Jayce's vision was just starting to clear from that last blow when he caught a hint of movement behind the daemon. Had one of the men whom had followed him to that foetid swamp been tossed to...the Gods alone knew where he was now, but that was something to worry about later. At the least, it was certainly more scenic then the place that foul wizard had chosen for his ritual. But no; whomever this person was, they were not armed nor equipped for battle. A villager then?

He settled into a defensive stance, holding the creature in his gaze and sizing it up. His cut to its tendons had been less effective then he might have hoped; it's hide was thicker even then that of a troll. His sword would be of little use against it, but his axe was still strapped to Longstep's saddle. The creature's attention seemed fixed on the armoured knight for the moment, paying the newcomer no heed; the daemon was not of a type noted for their intelligence; they fixated on interesting targets to the near exclusion of all else.

Jayce shifted a few steps to the side, the creature turning to follow but not yet pressing the attack, and soon he caught a glimpse of Yuji. A man; of a good height, but somewhat slender...not a farm boy then. Too well dressed; oddly dressed, but the cloth was too fine a quality to be a simple villager. And the scar...a city boy perhaps? The forest here had a tamed feel about it, so perhaps a city was near by? Odd that the lad would be out alone, weapon-less and lacking his House's escort. A runaway perhaps?

"Youth! Stay back, fetch your Lord and his men. I shall keep the beast at bay as long as Fate may allow of me." His tone was not berating nor arrogant; he truthfully wished to keep the lad away from the daemon's attention. Unarmed and unarmoured, the young man would surely not last long. At that declaration, the beast came at him again, right arm on high to strike down at the tired knight, and he barely leapt back to avoid that downwards blow.

His blade flashed out against the beast's flesh from where the bone emerged, the broad, flat point grinding against the ribbed and serrated bone to drive into that shallow roll of flesh where the bone emerged. It found purchase and bit deep, but the beast's other arm flashed out at him before he could capitalize on the success. He was forced to wrench his sword free and throw himself behind the daemon, armour clattering loudly as he barely found the strength to roll to his feet once more and stride towards Longstep. His sword was sheathed in one fluid motion, and he deftly unlashed the long hafted axe from it's saddle sling.

The horse quickly spurred away as the daemon launched at the knight again, and he turned to face it, the axe held at the ready. This time when it struck at him, he swung the axe to meet it, twisting expertly at the hips and shoulders, and the axe met the underside of the oncoming claw with a shattering thwack, the blade sinking to the head and the claw splintering from the impact and the driving width of the axe head. He was staggered a few feet, swung almost comically as he clung to the haft of the axe, but when his feet again found purchase, he swiftly altered his grip and gave the weapon a twist. The sound of cracking bone split the air again, and then the claw shattered near the middle of it's length, thick rivulets of black ichor spraying free of the shattered stump, and the daemon fell back a few strides to gain it's bearings.

His entire body ached; he was exhausted and bruised, muscles protesting against further abuse. When he next took a defensive stance, the axe dipped towards the earth, letting his arms rest while the beast might prepare another attack. He had to hope the young man was quick on his feet, and that his Lord or at the least the local garrison willing to respond at all. He did not wish to see this beast loose in a town, but he was equally certain he would not be able to defeat it. Already, the broken claw seemed to be regrowing; a few minutes time and it would have recovered, while he just continued to fade.
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PostSubject: Re: Tale of Two Swords   2012-11-30, 2:25 am

Yuji lowered his fists slightly, but maintained his stance and posture. "My... 'Lord'?" He mumbled to himself. That was certainly an orderly spin on the vernacular. Examining the man from afar, it appeared that his battle attire was far from regulation... well, anything. Full body plate armor befitting a soldier, but lacking in magic capability. Is this guy for real? His injuries spoke volumes without need for question. The man was far too mobile in that armor for this to be some LARP incident horribly-gone-wrong. Scorches, dents and scratches suggested he had been in a fight only recently, or he was a very seasoned battler. Regardless of the man's origin, the daemon before them was very real and very much a threat.

The knight seemed intent on defeating the beast on his own. While ever a fan of a fair fought duel, Yuji had no intention of leaving. The fight had yet to weigh in the knight's favor and he was tiring quickly. A few moments of observation was his limit. He had seen the beast's speed and strength firsthand; its defenses and regenerative properties were revealed. A subtle sleight signaled the woman lying in wait to ready her assist. Grasping his intention, Lien complied with her master's order. A laconic "Hold." from her stayed both Chiyo's advance and Amelia's trigger finger.

Jayce lowered his weapon to default a defensive stance, Yuji took this as his queue. He suddenly moved with a speed that did nothing to compliment his frame. He darted toward the creature, delivering a sharp jab to its left flank. While his fist dug into its flesh only slightly, a force tore through the point of impact to smash into the daemon's bones and innards. Little time was allowed for recovery as the beast's fully formed arm became snagged. Its wrist was hoisted into the air by a small metallic thread, struggling would only draw blood and threaten severing its tendons. Yuji shifted to the monster's forefront and smashed his fists into its belly with lighting succession. The first blow blasted through its lower gut, ending at its spine. The second punch was an uppercut, sending a blast of energy upward to rattle its rib cage and vital spots.

Anticipating a riposte of the beast's recovering limb, Yuji sidestepped the deformed appendage to retreat ground. In seemingly one step he had yielded a good ten feet. His steps seemed no more than motions of sliding and shuffling. His legs were an illusion of stationary beings, above his waist visibly held the greater mobility. All the while his eyes were fixated on the headless abomination, watching for its every movement.
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PostSubject: Re: Tale of Two Swords   2012-11-30, 11:58 pm

At first, Jayce was concerned when the young man had not darted off to seek help as he had asked. If he had been fresh to the battle, then perhaps he could have defeated the daemon. But weeks travelling through orc-held lands had led to numerous skirmishes, and the wizard had travelled with a sizeable warband. The battle had been hard pressed, and he had been on his last legs just to reach and strike down the wizard; to find himself in a new locale with a new opponent had not been something he had planned for.

But then the youth pressed the attack, taking the daemon initially by surprise as it had been readying to attack Jayce again. The young man's blows kept the beast off balance, and it was forced back a step by the blows to it's abdomen. The hole rent into it's stomach leaked more of the ill-smelling black ichor, and it's arm held by the mono-filament wires further prevented any sort of defence. It was not a creature bred for wit and thought; it was just a killing machine of instinct, made to loose itself in combat with little thought of repercussions.

It's held arm tugged at the wires, which sliced into it's thick hide. More of the ichor oozed from the wounds there, but when it's arm did not slash out to rend the new-comer in half, it's other arm slashed at the offending cords. The partly-regrown blade was gouged and further damaged before it's good arm was freed. The wounds to it's chest seemed to go unnoticed; already the hole in it's stomach was beginning to close, but the loss of blood would surely begin to slow it down.

The disturbing hump of flesh from which a neck and head should have been began to split and tear, revealing a mouth filled with rows and rows of small, viciously hooked teeth, and an ear-splitting screech of frustration emerged, surely sending what few animals that lingered in the area skittering for safer places to hide. Its arms then crashed together, chips of bone and drops of ichor flying free of each in the display, before it launched itself at Yuji.

Again, it proved fast for it's size, although slower now for it's wounds. It's still-intact arm swept low, gouging easily through the torn earth towards Yuji, meaning to fling his broken body into the air, while it's other was ready to then smash him back into the earth, should the blows have actually landed. It was a bullish opponent; no mind for defensive postures or calculated blows; its kind would wreak havoc on lines of pikemen, where it's powerful arms and long reach could destroy a dozen men in one swing. But single, agile opponents were a nuisance it was ill-suited to deal with.

Jayce held his stance to catch his breath, eyeing the young man. He had never met any of the warrior-monks of the distant eastern kingdoms, but he had heard the stories of course. Men who fought with their bare hands, with feats of acrobatics and agility unparalleled in the lands of his birth. Their powers were often attributed to the results of countless years of training and meditation, but he had always read that they were pacifist philosophers mostly. Perhaps then he had been cast to one of those distant kingdoms? It would possibly explain the youth's strange dress, and perhaps it was a barrier of languages that the young man had not sought help?

Not that help seemed to be needed, as the youth battered and tore at the beast's hide with ease. And he seemed to have help, although Jayce was not about to take his attention away from the daemon to search for the young man's comrade. Another arcanist, perhaps? He could not make out the source of whatever power held the creature's arm aloft, until the other swatted at the binding...wires? Impossible, of course. Metal that thin would not have hampered the creature's movements for even a second.

When the young warrior fell back, Jayce hoisted his axe and slid into a more aggressive posture. In the pair's fight, he had ended up at the creature's back now, likely forgotten by the monster with the appearance of a more interesting combatant. So when it launched forwards to try and strike the lad down, Jayce darted after it.

As it's arm gouged at the earth, Jayce took a running leap, the axe swung two-handed over his head. The blade bit deeply into the flesh at the top of it's back, embedding itself to the shaft just shy of the wicked line that served as it's mouth. It's attacks fumbled as the beast was caught off guard. It staggered, it's good arm, dragging through the earth as it had been, was pushed in too deep for it to carry through it's attack. The arm snagged into the earth, causing it to pitch forwards awkwardly.

Its other arm swung out to catch itself, and the jagged and partly-reformed bone there also punched into the earth, and the beast fell to its knees, another frustrated screech tearing free of it's viciously fanged maw. Jayce found himself kneeling on it's back, and he managed to gain his feet, wrenching the axe free and embedding it again into the beasts hide. He hacked at it like a man would chopping a tree; each blow of the axe at an opposing angle intended to send bits of its hide flying free, hoping to open a hole to strike at it's spine. He only managed two further strikes before it started trying to stand again, and he was tossed to the earth with a grunt of pain. But, a sizeable chunk of it's flesh had been cut free of it's back, near the spine, and it's ability to heal had been slowed by the wounds it suffered at Yuji's hands.
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PostSubject: Re: Tale of Two Swords   2012-12-02, 1:27 am

His stance regained, Yuji had been awaiting the foe's next move. He hadn't, however, foreseen the jarring image of its upper torso suddenly marring to reveal a hideous... 'thing'. It was the stuff of nightmares, a scene completely foreign to the still-conscious. His concentration returned a moment to late, the creature had already begun its advance at a much quicker pace than anticipated. Thanks to Jayce's interception, Yuji found the necessary opening to gather his poise and escape its radius of attack. With a couple swift steps he was around to the beast's backside, the gash in its back fully visible.

An opening presented, Amelia quickly lined up her cross hair. An invisible bullet of wind tore through the air and shredded through the exposed vertebrae. Another shot relentlessly bore into its back further down the spine. Each impact held enough force to blow the beast forward, further exposing the gaping breach. Yuji had a feeling of what was to come. He quickly broke his stance and raced to Jayce. "Time to find some cover, big guy!" He hoisted the knight to his feet hastily, and for good reason. The bullets of wind had been replaced by frigid projectiles of ice. Buffeted by balls of ice, its upper body became more frozen over with each blast. The daemon found itself entombed in a sky blue, rock-hard sleet.

A pink blur flew past the two combatants, rushing the frosted daemon. A short girl with long pink hair stepped onto the creature's back. Laying her hand on its ruptured flesh, a flash of crimson flowed from her palm onto the point of contact. A circle inscribed with ancient script runes willed itself to completion on the disfigured surface. "Ready!" An excited confirmation came from the girl before she was gone again. No sooner had she appeared, she had darted off into the trees. Yuji's hunch was spot on. "Move it!" He warned the soldier as he bolted for cover.

Chiyo ducked behind her shield of choice and glanced into the newly created clearing to ensure the males had evacuated safely. A small chuckle escaped her lips before the red glow returned to her fist. The seal left upon the creature's chilled erupted in a spark of light, immediately followed by an explosion of fiery magics. An explosion ripped through the beast as if it were of inconsequential mass. The torrential flame enveloped the daemon, sending small frozen shards of its flesh in every direction.

"Why has no one taught me how to do that...?" Yuji complained under his breath. He poked his head beyond the stump that had given him cover. While ascertaining the daemon's physical status, Yuji scanned the area for the knight. Stranger or not, he considered the man a temporary ally for now. The smoke had begun to clear, revealing heavily scorched ground, blood stained grass, and smoldering bits of obsidian meat.
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PostSubject: Re: Tale of Two Swords   2012-12-02, 11:41 pm

His vision was still blurred and faded when Yuji helped him to his feet. One spill too many perhaps, one surge of effort past what his body left in it maybe. He wavered in exhaustion as Yuji sent him into a staggered run away from the creature, although through all the confusion he still kept a grip on his weapon. His arms felt as if they were on fire, but his hands kept their iron grip on the thick wooden haft of the axe. Again, the fog burned away quickly, his mind latching back onto the realities of the moment. His staggering run became more coordinated, and once he stepped out of the sunken ring of burnt earth he turned to view the creature again.

The first shot to it's spine, through the conveniently parted hide, took much of the fight from the monster. It dropped to it's knees after staggering a few paces from the force of the blows, the links between whatever passed as the beast's brain and the rest of it's body severed. There was a split second when it might have seemed the encasing ice wasn't going to take; the beast's skin was potently hot, but the rain of freezing rounds, coupled with the loss of fluids from Yuji's attacks, saw the creature collapsed to it's knees and elbows, frozen near solid.

Jayce was not the type to duck and cover, but when the small child-like figure appeared on the creature's back and seemed to lay some sort of arcane sygil before vanishing again, he too the lead of the only other person he could see. Yuji had taken cover, so Jayce dropped to a knee, one arm up infront of the grill of his helmet, the axe stuck into the earth as an anchor to which he gripped tightly.

The explosion that followed was unlike anything he had seen before. He had witnessed the horror of trebuchet-launched fire jugs. Heard the stone-shattering cracks of catapult-hurled stones against fortress walls. But an attack so casually executed to such devastating effects was quite the display. He almost thought twice about his choice not to seek cover.

A few shards of the beast's remains pelted off his armour, but once the patter and pinging of bone and ice shards ended, Jayce gained his feet, the heavy axe hoisted one last time to rest against his shoulder. His armour had finally stopped smoking where the slain arcanist's magical attacks had scoured the metal. It might have gleamed once, but now it was pot-marked and battered from what had surely been a very long battle before even the confrontation with the daemon. Dirt clung at joints and clung to the chainmail from being pitched about the ground.

His horse emerged from the forest; it had quit the area when the first of Amelia's shots had been fired at the creature's spine but returned the moment things had quieted down again, loathe to leave Jayce out of sight for long.

As the adrenaline of the battle faded from his system, it was replaced with pain and exhaustion. Neither were foreign sensations to him, and once his breathing was back under control, he let the axe down, sliding the haft into a loop in a heavy leather belt about his waist. Once it was properly seated, he brought his arms up to remove his helmet, tugging at a few leather straps that held it properly seated before he was able to pull it off. Beneath was a chain coif, which he also opted to remove, and the cloth padding worn beneath that.

His short greying hair was plastered to his head with sweat. The padding and coif were placed inside the helmet, which was then tucked under one arm. The gauntlets were removed next, each set neatly within the helmet, as well as the padded leather gloves worn beneath. Then finally he produced a handkerchief from a pouch, which was used to clean his face. He glanced at the cloth after every few dabs to check for blood; ears first, then nose and lips. Once nothing was found, the cloth was used to mop some of the sweat from his hair, more for comfort then to make himself presentable.

Then he finally turned to look at Yuji, unsure of where his allies might be lingering. There were perhaps two of them; the strange arcanist girl that had finished off the daemon, and he guessed a second that had worked some other form of magic to bring the creature to it's knees. Perhaps Fate had thought it would be kind to deliver him to the very spot where aide could be found in his fight with the daemon, or perhaps warriors of such power were terrifyingly common place in those far eastern kingdoms. If that was where he was, of course. Either thought was vaguely displeasing; whether it had been Fate guiding him along to her plans, or that the warriors of his lands were so soundly outclassed, neither was a particularly uplifting thought.

"Well met, youth. I must thank you and yours for the help. I would not have lasted more then a few minutes in melee with that daemon." His horse moved towards Jayce, and after a moment to pat the huge animal in greeting, he set the helmet wedged against the saddlebags where it and it's contents would not fall, and pulled a waterskin from a loop. The leather sack was nearly empty, just enough to cleanse his mouth and a couple of swallows to help quench his thirst. When the skin was returned to it's hook, he carefully rubbed the palm of one hand to help hide how badly his exhausted limbs were shaking, a result of exhaustion rather then any sort of medical problem.
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PostSubject: Re: Tale of Two Swords   2012-12-12, 8:29 pm

The battle had come to a close. Once Yuji had deduced as much, he stepped out beyond his cover. The glow around his fists dissipated as he shook away the tingling feeling from them. Witnessing Jayce's post-battle cleanup was quite a sight; that armor wasn't just for show, it was indeed the genuine article. The dull monotony of his daily education and practice had been finally broken, even if for a short while. Yuji noticed his allies had yet to reveal themselves despite the cease in combat. It appeared that his enthusiasm for their visitor was not mutual.

Amelia held her aim trained on the knight, the elongated barrel of her weapon held eerily still. Lien held her position, along with numerous wires still lining the area in contingency. She noted the man's fatigue and physical condition. He appeared in no condition to fight, but appearances could rarely be trusted in this world. Cautiousness came with their job description. As far as they knew, this was an elaborate ruse. Such a creature had never been seen before. Chiyo, on the other hand, poked her head from beyond her tree. Her charge seemed calm around the stranger, so she wanted to meet him as well. Caution be damned, curiosity outweighs danger.

Yuji payed them no mind for the time being. No one removes their armor and stows their weapons if they're looking for a fight. "Glad to help! I've never seen anything like that before, so it was an interesting experience." Examining the knight's armor and steed only reaffirmed his suspicions. "I guess the answer's pretty obvious, but you aren't from around here, are you?"
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PostSubject: Re: Tale of Two Swords   2012-12-13, 7:45 pm

He was in no shape for another fight; not against one whom had, apparently, mastered the mystical arts to such a level to so easily have dispatched that daemon. And even if he were in prime condition, the youth had allies hidden in the woods, ones whom also seemed to have capabilities to outstrip one world-weary swordsman. The rush of battle faded quickly, leaving him intimately aware of all the aches and pains of the day's activities. Too prideful to admit how weak he was, Jayce kept on his feet and kept himself busy with simple tasks and motions to hide the shake and quiver of exhausted muscles; the shaking would fade as his body recovered and the pain of all his tumblings and falls diminished.

The youth's question was met with a hint of a nod, and he looked up at the sky, one hand shielding his eyes from the sun's glow in an effort to judge the time. "Creatures of legend and hearth-fire tale, or so I had thought.. And no, I am not from around here. The west, I think...we were hunting a fell wizard. The wretch had enthralled many orc tribes and had seen countless villages burned and butchered. I suspect the arrival of myself and that daemon were a result of slaying the arcanist before the wretch could finish it's ritual."

It was many hours difference from when he had faced the wizard, but that was perhaps a result of the creature's failed spell. Could that fragile arcanist have had control over time as well as realm? A frightening thought, that. "Baidrer, last of the Knights of the Dawn. I hail from the Aselid kingdom, now little more then a protectorate of the Draggendan Empire." He watched Yuji in hopes that the young man recognized either name. That would help him judge how far afield he had been cast.

As long as the young man was talking, Jayce held some hope that his companions would refrain from attacking him. Not that he expected such a turn of events exactly; his education of the far eastern lands had indicated that most were honourable folk, if a bit strange of belief and mannerisms.

The massive horse prodded the charred earth and snorted in disdain as it eyed some of the closer bits of the fallen daemon's scattered remnants. The thing was dead, but its scent was vile and the horse was tired and irritable. It's gaze was drawn to the near tree line however when little Chiyo poked her head out to watch them.
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PostSubject: Re: Tale of Two Swords   2013-01-08, 3:36 am

Yuji cocked his head to the side as Baidrer neared the end of his introduction; a mixed expression of confusion and skepticism showed on his face. His tone reflected this. "'Draggendan Empire' and 'Aselid'...? Oho, man. Either you're completely in the wrong place or that thing landed a pretty rough blow to your head." The boy scratched his head, pondering the strange things the knight just told him. He had no reason to lie, but the truth made no sense. He'd never heard of either location Baidrer had mentioned, let alone these 'Knights of the Dawn'.

"Look. Why don't we all head inside and you can start from the beginning? A bit of rest and change in scenery would be nice." He hadn't even eaten breakfast this morning, what with the surprise training regimen he sprang on his closest employees after waking. Yuji was also tired of standing among chunks and bits of a creature that threatened their lives but only moments ago.

A short distance from them, Chiyo listened intently to their conversation before noticing the rather large-bodied horse in her peripheral. Her interest torn from the conversing pair, she approached the warhorse. Her advance was slow, though she assumed it was accustomed to seeing strange things as it had accompanied its owner to the battlefield. "Nice horsie?" She extended her hand in an attempt to pet its elongated nose.


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PostSubject: Re: Tale of Two Swords   2013-01-08, 11:23 pm

The difference in size between Chiyo and the warhorse, Longstep, was almost comical at first glance. The warhorse was a particularly large specimen even for a destrier, and had been trained since a foal to be aggressive and effective in battle. Luckily however, the massive animal had long proven itself more then worth the small fortune Sir Braider had invested, and had an almost pleasant temperament. The massive animal took two slow steps towards Chiyo, hooves thudding heavily against the scorched earth, and slowly leaned in to sniff at her hand before letting out a snort. The girl was apparently not a threat though, so Longstep finally decided to let the girl pet him, dropping his head low enough for her to reach.

Yuji's admission of having never heard of Jayce's homeland was disconcerting. Perhaps he had indeed been flung farther afield then he had thought? He doubted he had taken a blow to the head during the fighting, or at least not one solid enough to have rattled his memories so thoroughly. He finally nodded in agreement to the idea of rest; his exhaustion was threatening to overwhelm his strength of will, which was about all that was keeping him on his feet at the moment.

Normally, Jayce would not allow himself intrude on another's home. On the other hand, it was the first time he had found himself in such a drastically alien situation; he had no bearings with which to decide what to do next. So the tired knight offered a ghost of a smile at Yuji's hospitality and nodded slightly. "Thank you. A chance to rest would be appreciated." He turned, intending to do a final check of his gear and to take Longstep's reigns only to find the massive horse was being pet by a small girl. The one, he suspected, whom had caused the colourful blur that led to the daemon's death.

Much like Yuji, her attire was strange. A servant's uniform, perhaps? It was far more...colourful...then he might have been used to though. Most Noble houses that employed servants dressed them in the colours of the House, which were rarely such vibrant pinks. Nobility usually favoured more royal or subdued colours; blues and blacks and whites and reds, but quite rarely pink. But, so far from home as he seemed to be, he could not be so foolish as to think that the local fashion and culture would be quite different then what he was used to.

There was something unusual about the girl's appearance asides from the vibrant pink clothes though. And besides the fact that she had proven to be a devastating force in a fight. But for her apparent martial or arcane prowess, she seemed just a child, more interested in petting a big scary horse then in the aftermath of a battle. It was almost refreshing, that simple show of innocence.

He gave Longstep a familiar pat on the flank and looked down at Chiyo, offering a tired, friendly smile. Jayce was by and large a good man and a good person, friendly and approachable and kind, but he was also worn down by long years of strife. The smiles, as honest as they might have been, never quite seemed to warm his eyes. His tone didn't hold the usual softening and curious pitch of an adult speaking to a child; much as he had spoken to Yuji, his tone was confident and friendly, the type one used speaking to adults. "Hello, young lady. I believe I have you to thank for the creature's defeat, yes?"
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PostSubject: Re: Tale of Two Swords   2013-01-14, 11:27 pm

Chiyo uttered a small giggle of delight when the horse gave her the permission she sought. It really was much larger than any horse she'd seen thusfar. Though to be fair, she had not encountered many equine creatures to begin with. This one was suited for battle, yet tame enough to tolerate her touch. With a hearty salute, the girl then gave Baidrer a cheery grin in exchange for his own. "Yup, yup! It was more of a team effort, though. I just blew him up." Her buoyant tone reflected her animated movements.

By now, Lien had grown weary of laying in hiding. The lack of a potential threat was growing more apparent with each passing second. Reaching up to the receiver at her ear, she relayed a message to the sniper in the distance. "Stand down. Would you mind collecting a sample before returning to the mansion?" The slender assistant began her walk back to the homestead.

"No problem." Amelia began dismantling her weapon for transport.

Meanwhile, Yuji started leading the way. He waved to the knight, gesturing for him to follow. "Okay, right this way! Unfortunately we don't have a stable for your horse... I guess we'll figure something out?" Chiyo picked up her pace to match Yuji's. They would arrive at their destination only minutes later. The forest cleared before the mansion, revealing a long road stretching into the distance.

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PostSubject: Re: Tale of Two Swords   2013-01-15, 12:35 am

The young Chiyo's modesty was a strong hint that there were yet more warriors hidden in the woods. Something had unleashed powerful magicks against the daemon before this unusual, but decidedly chipper, child landed the killing blow. Considering how unusual young Chiyo and Yuji were, he could not be sure what to expect of any others that may have been involved. If it were to be that these people were examples of the common martial prowess of these lands, then he was truly far afield from his homeland. Which, in turn, was a somewhat disheartening thought. And if it were another continent entirely? There had always been an unspoken comfort that when Lady Fate did finally let him find a worthy end, he would at least be put to the same earth as his family and brothers. That was, quite likely, taken from him now.

Longstep snorted heavily and gave a long, featureless stare to the departing child, before moving to follow the pair. Jayce opted to walk, unwilling to give in to exhaustion and discomfort; it would be rude to ride while these two walked, and the occasional stabs of pain kept his mind more alert, and the movement prevented his muscles from seizing and stiffening. For the moment at least. His armour jingled and clanked as he moved, quieter than one might expect of such things but still sorely noticeable. Again, his exhaustion, plus the damage sustained to the field plate, deadened his inherent skill with such things, making him sloppy enough to be so loud.

The walk was blessedly short at least, and the sight of the manor gave him some brief pause; the architecture was somewhat reminiscent of his homeland, although the red brick was an unusual and extravagant sight. The mansions and castles of his youth had been slate grey stone, often large hewn blocks; far sturdier against attack. But considering the blows the young man had landed against the daemon's hide, and the explosion the young girl had wrought, he suspected thick stone would have proven little barrier against the warriors in these lands. Of course, Lady Fate could have seen fit to dump him so unceremoniously on the doorstep of a band of exceptional warriors, but even if that were the case, it still had ill tidings regarding the skill of the common soldiers of this country.

The lack of a stable was certainly curious; how could so extravagant a manor be without such a basic outbuilding as a stable? Did they walk everywhere, rather then keep mounts? But what of carriages and wagons? The girl had seemed awed by Longstep's size, not his species; they were surely familiar with horses in these parts, but were they not common place? His curiosity was nearly enough to allow him to forget his aches and pains for the moment.

"Worry not, youth. We are quite accustomed to sleeping under the stars. Although I fear the sky here may be an unfamiliar one." He offered an honest, softly amused smile which never quite seemed to reach his eyes. It was a rare thing for him to be so warmly received; even many villages he had aided with local beasts and bandits were only willing to offer him provisions and perhaps a hayloft to rest in before wishing him on his way. To host one of the darkly fabled Knights of the Dawn was thought to bring bad luck, or Draggenden soldiers and inquisitors.
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PostSubject: Re: Tale of Two Swords   2013-01-18, 8:57 pm

Yuji shook his head. "Like I said, we'll figure something out. So long as you're a guest here, we can't have you sleeping outside. That'd just be plain rude of us. As for the horse, hm..." There should be time to accommodate his steed. No reason he should be treated differently.

Yuji approached the large double doors at the home's front and opened them himself rather than knocking. The foyer itself screamed extravagance, from the spotless floors to the grandiose chandelier that glistened high above a staircase. Two butlers who stood at either side of the door on the other side bowed at his arrival. Their suits were of fine material and their appearance proper in every respect. "Ms. Wong awaits you and your guest in the sitting room, sir." One of them reported ceremoniously. Yuji nodded in response.

"Thanks, Tanaka. Say, we've got a horse outside. How long would it take to put together a small stable for him?"

"It will be completed before nightfall, sir."

"Awesome! Thanks again, man." Yuji patted his servant on the shoulder and continued his walk to the sitting room. He motioned for Baidrer to follow; Chiyo followed as well. The room they entered next was just as spacious as the last, if not more. Eight plush armchairs surrounded a low coffee table, arranged in a 'C' formation leaving the open side to face a large fireplace. An ornate rug was spread beneath the chairs to contrast the tiled flooring. Lien stood next to the coffee table and bowed to their entrance. A saucer carrying two cups of tea sat on the table next to her.

"Welcome, Ojousama. I have had tea prepared for you and our guest. Baidrer-san, please have a seat." She waved her hand toward the chairs in an open gesture. Chiyo ran up and hopped into the seat next to Yuji's. Whenever Baidrer selected his chair, Lien would bring him a cup of warm tea. Upon drinking it, if he so chose, a warm sensation would flow through him to quickly ease his fatigue.

"Thanks, Lien!" Yuji took his rejuvenating tea and sipped it idly.

"Of course."

"Well, then, I guess I should start. You're in a country called 'Japan'. I'm hoping you've at least heard of that, because I've NO idea what your empire is. 'Draggendan', was it?"
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PostSubject: Re: Tale of Two Swords   2013-01-19, 12:20 am

His House had been one of the wealthier, more politically powerful, of the Aselid kingdom. The castle he grew up in had been more a small palace then a purely defensive structure, with grand ballrooms and expansive gardens. This mansion was perhaps not quite as large as his home had been, if one counted the outbuildings, the curtain wall, and the old keep, but Yuji's mansion home was built more for extravagance and beauty then his had ever been.

The two butlers within the doorway were a familiar concept and sight; their clothes were perhaps finer then he might have expected, but their mannerisms and speech were reminiscent of men of similar station where Jayce was from. Without a stables our the sort of outbuildings Jayce was used to, there was no easy means for him to remove his armour before entering the home, but neither the butlers nor Yuji seemed to require it of him. He dallied outside long enough to pat Longstep's flank and set his reigns to the earth, allowing the horse to wander and knowing the loyal destrier would not go far.

He followed Yuji and Chiyo into the mansion, letting them lead the way to an expensively furnished sitting room, a most unusual choice to lead a man in battle-worn field plate. He wouldn't dare make use of any of the seats, as his armour would surely tarnish the upholstery. While it would be rude to stand as others sat, it would be equally uncouth for him to ruin so expensive a chair just to seek personal comfort. An awkward line to walk when one knew nothing of the local customs. In his homeland, it would be excused by most, considering the unusual circumstances, and these folks seemed mild mannered. He doubted they would find it an insult if he opted to stand.

The servant whom awaited them in the room was an unusual sight. Lovely, certainly, but he was far too old, and far too lost to entertain such thoughts. In his home land, and throughout even most of the Draggenden Empire, he had been considered a particularly large man. He had towered over most opponents during the War, and his impressive height and build had proven enough to make even an orc hesitate and know fear. This woman however, named Lien apparently, was nearly as tall as Jayce. He'd seen few men of such height, and certainly never a woman. This was a most unusual place he had found himself in. Lady Fate was truly a fickle mistress, as the saying went, surely finding endless entertainment in his trials and tribulations.

He moved to stand towards the open end of the ring of seats, circling the expensive carpet; the iron shod boots he wore would track dirt and cause unnecesary wear and tear in the fabric. Creator's blessings he hadn't chipped the fine tiles yet. He had to decline the tea, one hand upraised to ward off the offered cup; he did not trust himself to be able to hold it steady by this point. "No, thank you, young lady. Not till I have seen to my horse." It was not entirely an excuse to avoid insulting anyone; he preferred to tend to the destrier before seeing to himself. The Ghosts of the Dawn had learned quickly that their mounts needed to always be ready to move, always well rested and cared for. Each knight's horse had been his life, even more so then his armour and sword.

The honorific she attached to his name, the 'san,' was unfamiliar to him. That of course came as no surprise, as he was in a foreign land. Japan, apparently, a place he had never heard of before. But then again, his education of the further flung lands had always been spotty at best; partly his own fault for being such an impetuous youth, so eager to run off and have adventures while paying no heed to his formal education. Not a regret; it had been that very attitude that had allowed the Knights of the Dawn to form to begin with.

"I have never heard of a land called Japan. The Qui-Yin Dynasty? It is a powerful realm far to the east of the Draggenden Empire, across the Dragon-felled Wastes. My home land, the Aselid kingdom, is now a protectorate of the Empire, and has been such for many years now." His tone was without much emotion still; perhaps more for the bone-hollowing exhaustion he felt, perhaps for the fatigue of the soul he had come to live with. Talk of his homeland was rarely a joyful topic.

Outside, Longstep would not wander far, busying himself with munching at grass or staring at servants as they worked. The horse still wore the heavy chain barding, the saddle and spare weapons and saddlebags once filled with rations and now precariously near to being empty. The horse's rider had not been expecting to return from swamps to which he and his band had chased that fell wizard, and so had packed light on food and water. Enough on hand to get he and his comrades to the fight, and had any survived, they would likely have been diminished enough in numbers that those few that had remained could easily have hiked out and scavenged. If any had survived, of course.
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PostSubject: Re: Tale of Two Swords   2013-01-19, 8:51 pm

Yuji leaned forward in his seat, listening to the knight intently. Neither he nor his servants had taken offense to his refusal to sit or drink. Both were customary offers, none required to be accepted. Considering the man's mannerisms, he expected the decline. This was something that bothered him for a different reason. Everything about this knight from his formal speech to his battle armor to the minor idiosyncrasies of his reasoning didn't just seem foreign. It was downright archaic. Lien, too, had adopted this line of thought. She was set to inquire before her employer.

"Baidrer-san, if I may?" She adjusted her frames, examining the knight from head to toe. "Forgive the informational onslaught, but I feel some clarification may be in order. The world we live upon, the world in which you now reside, is called 'Earth'. Through years of to conjoint scientific advancement and harnessing of magics, this world is now connected to other worlds indefinitely. It is possible to travel between these worlds with relative ease. If you hail from a world other than this, returning you to your own lands will be simple; an endeavor I am certain my employer has every intention to see through..." She gave Yuji a sidelong glance, to which he tauntingly shrugged in response. They would surely have talks in private in the future. Lien returned her attention to Jayce and continued.

"However, your speech and mannerisms may be cause for concern. While foreign at present, they resemble descriptions of historical figures long past. Your reference to the eastern dynasty may be accurate to our records. I will volunteer my service to provide the necessary research, but I am wondering if you might know what 'year' it is. It would make my search considerably easier." She was hoping his lands had some sort of method to keep track of yearly seasons at the least. More so, she hoped her conjecture was incorrect. Traversing worlds was a trivial matter, especially with the aid of Nobus. Time, however...

"The reason she's asking is because, for all of our technology and science we still don't have a convenient method of time travel. If you were flung here from hundreds or thousands of years ago, getting you back home might actually be impossible..." Yuji explained the dilemma in full.

The servants outside had already begun their construction of a stable for Longstep. While the structure was still in its primary stages, a trough had already been fashioned and filled with water. It would take a short while longer for sufficient food to be presented, but any sort of interaction with the steed was kept to a respectful minimum.
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PostSubject: Re: Tale of Two Swords   2013-01-19, 10:45 pm

The realm Baidrer hailed from had magic and the like, but such things were far from common knowledge. He could easily be considered a well educated man; literature and mathematics, philosophy, architecture and science. He could oversee the construction of fortifications and siege weapons, manage camp logistics or balance the House books and coffers. But amongst all that, and all his experiences, he had little means with which to fully grasp the idea of over worlds, or the means of travelling through time. That was the realm of gods, and only touched mortal lives through the black arts of wizards and worse.

Luckily, he had always been a decidedly open-minded person, all things considered. He frowned in vague confusion as Lien looked him over, not sure what to make of the gesture; he was certainly not dressed to be in a lavish sitting room. No, he would fit much better on a battle field, dressed as he was. The battlefield of a loosing army, more accurately. Which was something he was rather familiar with. She wished to know the year? That they named the world Earth seemed rather simplistic, but surely many regions had their own names for such things. It was then that he finally glanced about the room. Most of the light came from the windows, of course, but the chandelier, the wall lamps...they were decidedly foreign in appearance. An unusual note to be investigated further at a more convenient time.

"It is the 12,973 year of the Valeerian Ministratium. The calendar system is a hold-over from the Holy Valeerian Empire, whose rule encompassed much of the known world. And the forgotten lands as well, if the histories are correct. It is based on the solar cycle, and modern scholars believe it to be quite accurate. However, it has fallen out of favour in some regions as there was a resurgence in belief that the sun circles our world, a vulgar back-step in universal understanding perpetrated by the Draggenden Empire." The Empire had orchestrated the rebirth of a forgotten religion, their Emperor painted as a god. A despicable practice that was, sadly, proving very effective in subduing the masses.

Any research would easily discover that he was indeed not from Earth. None of the kingdoms or history he spoke of existed here, although there were some basic similarities. The idea of Asian cultures residing to the 'far east' being the most prominent. They were correct to think he had been cast not just through dimensions, but time as well. His home still existed amongst the myriad realms of Creation, but he was some thousands of years removed, and the planet he hailed from was a near dead and hellish place now. A great catastrophe a millennia ago had seen the world overrun by creatures not so dissimilar to the one they had fought earlier that day.

As much as he wished to refrain, Jayce could not stand properly still. His shield arm ached to the bone, and he could feel exhausted muscles threatening to cramp. So, he paced the room briefly as to admire some of the fineries on the walls. As he moved, he would roll his shoulders or carefully squeeze his hands in fists and twist his arms to ease the complaints, and his armour jingled or clinked noticeably in the quiet room, each footfall solid and heavy. As he did, he got a closer look at one of the wall lights, and the lightbulbs behind the decorative screen.

If what they said was true, and that he was indeed in another realm entirely, perhaps removed by centuries or longer from his homeland, then there was little to be done. "I am indeed far from home, am I not, friends?" He turned back with a faint grin, and raised his shield arm to carefully adjust the positioning of the bracer there, so the padding beneath the plate and chain rubbed lightly against his sore arm, testing for break or fracture with casual indifference. Not only had he proven himself unworthy to join his fallen brothers, he had been stripped of any chance of joining them in the afterlife now. A somewhat disheartening realization, but not so dreadful as to crack his quiet resolve.

Outside, Longstep had been easily drawn to the water trough. The animal was well trained, and unlike most of his kind there was no risk of the horse drinking itself to death. The animal then resumed watching the men work on the shelter, letting out an aggressive snort any time someone might be so foolish as to draw near. Without Jayce around to keep the horse in check, his somewhat abrasive nature was showing through.
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PostSubject: Re: Tale of Two Swords   2013-01-22, 11:39 pm

Yuji's eyes widened in surprise after hearing the year of Baidrer's home world. " Nearly t-thirteen thousand years?! Jeez, that's more than six times the year of our world's current civilization!" That was insurmountable to nearly every being within his world. There was no way the knight came before him. If anything, it was feasible for him to be from their distant apocalyptic future.

Lien nodded after a moment of consideration. "I see. The likelihood of your travel from another world has gained favor over my time theory. If this happens to be the case, all the more luck to us. As stated, I will put forth the necessary forms to gather any information available. In the meantime..." She gave Yuji a quick glance, noticing he was sitting on the edge of his seat with a knowing smile on his face. "In... the meantime--"

"You can stay here!" Yuji exclaimed energetically, cutting Lien off. "I'm sorry you got knocked so far from home, but you're totally welcome here. We're already building a stable outside. And besides! We've got like a billion spare rooms that we're not even using. Pinpointing your world's location might take Nobus a few days or even longer; it makes sense to keep you nearby rather than seeking you out after the information is found. That shouldn't be a problem. Right, Lien?" Yuji's smile grew as he looked to his tallest servant. He was in that damned playful mood again. She shook her head. Yuji threw his hands up in the air with a vivacious "Whoo!!"

Chiyo had been listening quietly during the conversation, absorbed with humming a small tune to herself and kicking her feet gently. She suddenly spoke up. "Mr. Baidrer, sir? You should take off your armor if you're so tired." Of course Lien had realized the man's state of fatigue, but she'd held her tongue out of respect since he declined the tea. Chiyo was accustomed to picking up physical mannerisms, not cultural courtesies. Yuji hadn't noticed at all. "We can also heal you up! But if you wanna wait until Mr. Horsie's taken care of, that's okay, too. But you don't have to wear your armor forever."

"That's right." Yuji agreed. "There's a few rooms you can change in upstairs, and we've got spare clothes for guests as well. As you said, you're among friends." He stood from his chair. "I can have someone show you the way, if you like."


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PostSubject: Re: Tale of Two Swords   2013-01-25, 3:24 pm

Jayce raised his left arm for a moment, flexing and releasing his hand into a tight fist a few times in an effort to further loosen the tendons and muscles there. At least his hands had stopped trying to shake, his body finally relaxing from the past weeks of skulking and fighting through ork-held lands. The hunt for that blighted sorcerer was over, and likely he was the only one to have survived the fight. Of the handful of mercenaries and villagers whom had sought to aid him in the hunt, most had fallen before they even found the caster. Before he had been so unceremoniously cast away from his home and all he knew, there had been less then a dozen men left standing and the bog had still been swarming with orks.

Of course, desperate gambles and heroic last stands were something he was intimately familiar with. They may not have ended the war, but they had removed the enemy's most powerful piece. The one thing he could trust the of the Dragendden Empire, it was that they would have their armies purging every last ork from those ancient forests and swamps. His move against that fell wizard had simply been to buy time, to delay the orks. Without their shamans and ruler, the clans would return to bickering and in-fighting, wasting time and effort on each other rather then the villages and towns of that far-flung frontier.

The idea of rest, of a chance to bathe and sleep a night without possibility of ork raiders marauding out of the darkness was certainly tempting. The little one, Chiyo, was an astute observer, a rather unusual trait for one that seemed so young. Another tired smile for the little one's empathy, and for Yuji's offer of a place to stay. He was curious as to just what this Nobus was; an oracle? No, they seemed to imply it was some sort of brotherhood or organization. Adepts and scholars then? Perhaps arcanists of some type? The idea of a brotherhood of arcanists, working openly and known, and even accessible to the peoples, was a most unusual concept. Such types tended to be secretive and rarely of altruistic intentions.

"I graciously accept your offer..." He frowned briefly, thinking over the events since the daemon had been felled. He had learned some of their names through observation, but there had been no proper introductions as of yet. So he let out a quiet, steadying breath and offered an appologetic, faint grin, "I am sorry, young lordling. Perhaps proper introductions are in order before you invite me into your House? I am Jayce Baidrer, last of House Baidrer. Last of the Knights of the Dawn. My mount is the destrier Longstep, grandsired by the mount of King Aselion the Giant Slayer." He no longer held the title of Sir; his king had stripped what few members of his Knights that had survived the war of their titles as his last act, before being beheaded by the Emperor's son.

He would have to tend to Longstep before he allowed himself the opportunity to remove his own armour and rest. The destrier had been encased in barding and saddle for days already, and was just as exhausted, perhaps more so, then himself.
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PostSubject: Re: Tale of Two Swords   2013-02-01, 1:45 am

Yuji stood up, a bit startled by the realization. "Oh, man. Did I not do the introduction thing yet?" He caught Lien's disapproving glare, quickly answering his question. "Whoops! I guess not!" He declared in a carefree manner. Lien sighed at her employer's boorish behavior in front of a guest. Customarily, the introduction should have come before inviting a guest into the home. Had he not ordered his staff to drop certain formalities, she would gladly have presented a proper introduction. "The name's Hamamoto Yuji, second son to the... er, House of Hamamoto! Though, I do like the sound of 'lordling'... Hm. Maybe I could add that in somewhere? Anyway, these are my friends, Lien and Chiyo." It was glaringly apparent the boy was not big on formalities.

Lien, however, was a far more professional individual. She couldn't very well introduce herself before her employer, could she? She greeted Baidrer with a respectful bow. "I am Lien Wong, firsthand assistant and personal guard to Master Yuji. Please feel free to address me as Lien if you so choose. I hold the tasks of housekeeping and currently stand as this resident's medical examiner. If you have any requests or medical issues during your stay, please do not hesitate to contact me." Her movements and speech were exceedingly proper; compared to the young girl sitting next to her lax-minded proprietor, she was the only one to fit with the high class scenery.

Chiyo hopped out of her seat after Lien's introduction and pumped a fist into the air. "Kawano Chiyo, at your service!! "Chiyo" is okay with me! My job is to do combat training, keep Oniisama alive, and blow up intruders! Pleased to meet'cha!" She crossed her arms and grinned happily. Her small frame and boisterous personality were far from the usual servant's demeanor. It seemed as if her energy was positively bursting at the seams.

"Oh, good. I didn't miss this part." A woman with short dark hair and blue eyes stepped into the room. Her pointed ears were nearly concealed by her hair, but not completely. She carried a black suitcase slung over her shoulder and wore a patch of cloth over her left eye. Other than that, her attire appeared no different from the other female servants of the homestead; excluding Chiyo and Lien. "My name is Amelia Noel. Amelia's fine. I handle cooking and marksmanship training. Any time I'm not wasting by keeping this guy out of trouble, I'd be happy to help you with anything you need." She pointed at Yuji accusingly; he shied away from her in jest.

"There you have it. I feel better, now." Yuji said with a shrug. "You said you wanted to take care of your horse, right? Go ahead and do what you need to. I'll ask Tanaka to show you to a spare room and find a change of clothes for you."
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PostSubject: Re: Tale of Two Swords   2013-02-01, 8:52 pm

Where the young lordling, Yuji, seemed to an embodiement of casual flare, and of course little Chiyo had all the exuberance (and more) of what one would expect of a child, Lien presented herself in a fashion he was far more familiar with. Even Amelia, whose personality and presentment seemed more akin to a seasoned campaigner rather then a servant, as she seemed to be dress. The skirt was certainly far shorter then what he might have expected, or was entirely comfortable with, but he had to remind himself this was a foreign country, with different cultures and values.

The roles of the three women were curious; that a Lord's personal Yeoman would also be the resident healer or house servant, or the master bowman also being, as her uniform seemed to indicate, a common maid. That a young child...even one as unusual looking as Chiyo, as a combat instructor? Perhaps Lien's more mundane roles as healer and servant were meant to disguise her true role as bodyguard. But if that were the case, why tell him so openly? Unless, of course, there was another who did secretly hold that role, and she was but a decoy? Could House politics be so convoluted here? Lord Yuji's mannerisms seemed to indicate otherwise. The lad was too honest with his emotions for that to be the case.

And Amelia, the marksmanship instructor, with but one eye? Or perhaps the bandage she wore was a temporary thing, relating to an injury suffered only recently? But her movements were far too confident for that. Even a temporary loss of an eye, bandaged to allow healing of minor wounds or infections, left most men unbalanced and awkward. She seemed to move too naturally for it to have been a temporary thing...so how then could she manage as an archer with just one eye? He had been long taught that one required both eyes for proper depth perception...excluding incredibly talented individuals, of course. Considering the abilities and degrees of skill he had seen Lord Yuji and even little Chiyo when fighting the daemon, he had little doubt that Amelia would prove to be cut of a similar cloth.

With introductions complete, Baidrer bowed shallowly to Lord Yuji and his retainers. He would have preferred a more proper display, but encased in armour as he was...well, anything appropriate would have made for quite the awkward display. "I am honoured to make the acquaintance of you and yours, Lord Yuji. And I am grateful for you offer of lodging and clothes until an answer to my origins can be found." The entire concept of his current plight was entirely foreign to him; to be so soundly removed from one's proper place was an entirely alien concept. There were always tales of sailors and fishermen who would wash ashore with no memory of their past. It was the closest he could imagine to what he was now experiencing, and was still off by leagues.

"I shall take my leave then." He nodded to the group again, then moved to exit the room. He had, at least momentarily, regained some semblance of endurance and energy, strolling from the sitting room to trace his path back out the door and to his waiting horse. The massive animal had already drank his fill of water and was standing a short distance from the house proper, occasionally grazing on grass or watching the men working on the make-shift stable.
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PostSubject: Re: Tale of Two Swords   2013-02-05, 12:03 am

As soon as Baidrer approached the door, it was opened for, and closed behind him by the butler named Tanaka. Lien sauntered over to a chair and picked the excess tea from the saucer she'd carried in. "We mustn't waste." She took a seat and crossed her legs, sipping the tea elegantly. "Ah, Ojousama? You and I will have words after you are finished." Yuji jumped a little at that. "Having words" usually meant her berating and lecturing him on something he screwed up with. Wait...

"Uh... 'Done with' what?" At that, Amelia dropped her case and almost flew across the room with a very pissed yell. Yuji didn't have time to react as he was clotheslined over the back of the chair he stood in front of. Amelia rolled with him and landed on top of him, holding both of his legs in a lock. Yuji was on his stomach with little room to struggle.

"OOOOWWW, ow, OW, ow, OWWWWW!!! WHY?!?" He flailed his arms in futility.

"I am SICK of this crap in the mornings!! Then you go and attack some mystery demon head on?! We're supposed to be protecting you, dipshit!! Act like you've got some freaking sense!!" She leaned back and tightened her grip. Yuji thrashed about harder than before whilst yelling out in pain.

"I'msorryI'msorryI'msorryyyyyyyy!!!"

"My ass, you are!! Chiyo!!" Amelia sounded pretty angry. Chiyo poked her head over the couch after hearing her name.

"W-WAIT!! NONONONO--!!" She grinned giddily at Yuji before jumping high into the air.

"YAAAHOOOOOOOOO!!!" She landed on his upper back, knocking the air from his lungs. Amelia sat on his waist with his legs pulled back. Chiyo grabbed one of his arms and twisted it upward playfully. "Roughhousiiiiiiing!!!"

"GYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!! You'll break it!!! You're breaking iiiiiit!!!!" He was frantically tapping his free arm on the ground, attempting to signify a tap out.

Lien finished her tea calmly despite the scene. Afterward, she stood up. "Amelia-san? Chiyo-san? Would either of you like any tea?"

"Please and thank you, Lien!" She loosed her grip during her answer then tightened it again.

"Tea's gross! I want some juice!" Chiyo did the same as Amelia, loosen then tighten. Lien quietly made her way to the kitchen. Poor Yuji wasn't getting any help this time.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Outside, the shed was already beyond its framework stages. The servants worked surprisingly quickly, though there was a considerable number of them assigned to the task. None of the workers dared approach the horse. Most out of respect, some out of fear. The maid in charge of the steed's food and drink informed Baidrer of the remaining time before quality food could be provided. Tanaka stood at the mansion's entrance, prepared to escort the knight as per the directions he received from Lien on her way to the kitchen.
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PostSubject: Re: Tale of Two Swords   2013-02-05, 10:04 pm

Baidrer paused briefly a short distance down the hall from the sitting room, head half turned due to the muffled commotion. He frowned in confusion for a moment, then just shook his head with a tired smirk and nodded for the butler to lead on. The young lordling had surrounded himself with some particularly spirited, and entirely unusual, young women. The lad had his work cut out for him to keep himself out of trouble, and apparently still had much to learn. Appeasing women was a rare and un-knowable skill.

Once outside, he quietly excused himself from Tanaka and moved to Longstep, stopping briefly to converse with the maid charged with watching the animal. The news was heartening, as the tired warhorse had gone some time without proper feed, having to sustain itself on whatever greenery had been available during their trek through ork infested lands. He spent a moment petting the animal's neck and appraising the on going work of the make-shift stable. It would be more then suitable for the large horse, and a far cry better then what Longstep had known in the past few months. Nodding faintly, he then turned to the task of removing his companion's saddle and barding.

The huge destrier's barding was a heavy ensemble. The champron was removed first; a sort of helm that covered the head and face of a warhorse. It sported gouges and dents from many past battles, although far too many were entirely fresh and aligned with bruises and cuts that marred the proud horse's face. The flanchards were next; long and curved metal plates that draped the horse's flanks around the saddle. Then the criniere and peytral, a series of overlapping heavy metal plates that covered the horse's neck. These too sported more then their fair share of battle damage, and were set aside carefully. The croupiere was last; the heaviest single piece of metal in the armour, covering the destrier's hindquarters and flanks. The metal plates were set aside and arrayed with practiced ease.

Much like a soldier or skilled gun-slinger would array the pieces of their firearm when disassembled for cleaning, he did much the same with Longstep's barding. A routine made for easier assembly if in a hurry, a lesson the Ghosts of the Dawn had learned early in the war. Always be ready to ride.

Once the full plates were removed, next came the chainmail. A modification had been made to allow it to be more easily mounted and removed; the neck was a separate piece from that of the body. It was made of a lighter gauge of chain then that of Baidrer's own armour, but for the sheer amount of horse that was needed to be covered, a lighter gauge seemed to do little to keep the over all weight down. These were draped over a conveniently adjacent decorative garden wall, so that he could inspect it more easily for damage. Of which there was much; entire swaths of the intricate chain links were damaged or simply torn free, although Longstep was miraculously without any serious injuries.

Last to be removed was the caparisons, a thick quilted covering that served both as padding against the heavy armour and as an added layer of protection as it hung down near the large animal's legs and flanks. It was pulled free and also draped over the garden wall, to allow the thick and use-worn fabric to air out a bit.

Finally uncovered, the massive horse trotted a few steps as if to work out stiff muscles and with a gesture from Baidrer, Longstep bolted into a full run. Steel-shod hooves tore at the gravel of the pathway, sending bits of rock and shale flying, a few pieces even pinging and clinking off his own armour. The horse needed a chance to air out, to feel the wind and air against its flanks again, having been encased in steel and wool for far too long. He circled the house until the large, low-basined fountain in the front yard presented itself. The closest large body of water, it drew Longstep much as a pond or river would have.

The huge destrier leapt into the fountain without hesitation or care if his shoes damaged the fountain's bottom, and then the animal began trotting and bucking, before going so far as to kneel and roll into the cool water. This lasted many minutes in an effort to cleanse most of the sweat and grime from his hair, before the warhorse was off at a run again, circling the house twice before finally returning to where Baidrer waited, inspecting the leather straps and finding that they were none the worse for wear. A pleasant surprise, to say the least.

The tired knight dug out a brush from one of his saddle bags, and turned to the time consuming task of brushing down the large horse. Wounds and rashes covered the animal's flanks, a natural result of having worn the heavy armour and paddings for so long; they would clear up in a few days now that the animal had a chance to rest, but some of the worst received simple salves that Baidrer carried in a leather satchel. The herbal mixtures were smeared on thickly, bringing quick relief to Longsteps aches and pains.

This process lasted hours, as the animal was brushed and checked for injury and infection. The horse's shoes were inspected, and found wanting...they were due for replacement, before the hooves could become damaged and cracked. Once finally satisfied with that, Baidrer requested the barding be stored somewhere out of the way, where he could further inspect it when better rested and settled, then he finally accepted to be shown to his own room.

Once alone, the tired knight bent to the task of removing his own armour. As with Longstep's barding, this was a process better suited to a team of assistants. But again, years of experience and necessity had see that he had turned it into a well practiced affair. His gorget was unlatched and set aside, then the pauldrons and braces. The breast and back plate were easy enough; with his back pressed to the wall, he undid the straps for the ensemble, and set the chest plate down first, before stepping away from the wall to catch the backplate and set it aside as well. He hadn't been able to fully appreciate how battle-worn his own armour was; between orc blades and the fell wizard's decaying magics, the armour was pitted and gouged almost beyond repair.

The rest of the armour came easily enough, and were laid out in a similar fashion to the barding. Both for ease of inspection and for ease of donning the armour in a rush. Chain hauberk was slid off next, and after a second thought was draped over a solid looking desk rather then the adjacent chair. His padding was next, and there was no hesitation in hanging those from the window sill; much like Longstep, he had been wearing his armour for quite some time. Time spent trekking through foetid swamps and in heated combat. And also much like Longstep, his body was covered in sores and wounds and bruises.

He cleansed himself, with some aid from Tanaka in understanding how to work the bath. Running water existed in his realm, but was an expensive and rare thing and was certainly not known to provide such blessedly hot water. Many of the conveniences provided were foreign to him; the plastic bottles of shampoos and body soaps for example, and in the end he settled on a more familiar bar of soap instead. With water near hot enough to burn, he soaked for a time and rested his weary body, but eventually turned his attention to cleansing and drying off. His wounds were inspected, and some were neatly stitched or bandaged with what supplies he had with him, then cleansed again and dried carefully. Luckily, none were serious, but would add a few new scars.

Salves were applied to ward off infections and then he finally turned to dressing in the clothes provided. These even were found to be strange to him; the fabrics more so then the function. He opted towards types most familiar to him, and soon enough requested of Tanaka to lead him back to Lord Yuji. Now clean and properly dressed, it was easy to tell how large a man he was. The armour certainly added to his already powerful frame, but even without that he was broad of shoulder and thick of limb.

The sleeves of the simple button-down shirt he had chosen were rolled up above his elbows, revealing forearms of corded muscle and faded scars, as well as places where straps and armour had worn the skin raw and callused. Similar to how a person's glasses would wear down the cartilage of their nose, such spots were to be found all over his body from long years of wearing such heavy armour, most obviously around the shoulders and hips.

He still wore his sword belt, and a pair of rough leather gloves were neatly tucked into one of the loops of the thick belt; he was always ready to fight, even when in so relaxed an atmosphere. Had he a blade better suited to more courtly affairs, he would have deigned to wear that instead, but no such blade was at his disposal. His weapons were of war, not ballroom duels and boasts. Naturally, with Tanaka leading, Baidrer would not simply walk in on Lord Yuji and his advisors and caretakers. The reserved butler would surely knock and await a summons before allowing their guest to simply enter unannounced.
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PostSubject: Re: Tale of Two Swords   2013-02-07, 10:08 pm

Yuji spent the better part of two hours getting chastised, both physically and verbally, though much less the former. After a lengthy lecture from Lien, he was relinquished to his tutor, a man none too happy about being forced to wait around a few extra hours. Yuji's hastened completion of the work provided only served to infuriate his tutor further. If the boy held such a firm grasp on the material at hand, why not simply complete it in the first place?? Yuji was all to eager to excuse himself from the stuffy study and relocate within the mansion.

Amelia took this lull in responsibility as an opportunity to catch up on the maintenance of her arsenal. Although her ammunition cache majorly consisted of energy, proper cleaning and calibration was still a necessity. Myriad miscellaneous munitions lay strewn about her room; in pieces, intact, and in disarray; seemingly. Every inch of available space on her workbench, bed and desk were covered with parts. The smell of oils wafted from her door and window for most of the day.

The task of maintaining the cleanliness homestead was delegated among the cleaning staff, though Lien saw over most of the activities. After reprimanding her employer for the umpteenth time, she was finally able to begin her daily duties. The cleaning of the sitting room was of little difficulty; they were quite accustomed to the scuffings and messes often tracked about by Yuji or his cohorts. On days of especially marred flooring, he would even take care of the issues himself. Baidrer's steps were little cause for concern. Once outside, however, the fountain was brought to Lien's attention. She held her glasses by the bridge as she inspected the damage caused by Longstep. Again, it was a negligible amount compared to that caused by Chiyo or Yuji. However, this would call for a sturdier material to be used as a base in the future, lest the incident repeat itself. She made the necessary calls for repairs and resumed her work.

Chiyo took her post with the surveillance team about the mansion's grounds. She could cover far more ground than the average person within any given time, even more so thanks to her shadow magics. After her shift was completed, she ventured into the mansion to find something to do. Since her usual playmate was stuck with his tutor at the time, she made her way down to the training room. It was located below the mansion so as to decrease the range of possible collateral damage. This is where Yuji retired to after his studies, as well.

Led by Tanaka, Baidrer would feel very light tremors now and again. The sound was insignificant in volume, but occasionally a light fixture would wobble suddenly or the ground beneath him would give a slight tremble. Tanaka paid the occurrences no mind as he descended a stairwell and approached a sturdy-looking door. Though within the mansion's walls, this door had its own doorbell. Tanaka pressed the small off-to-the-side button and a chime rang throughout the room beyond it. A distant "Come in!!" responded to the call. Tanaka opened the door and stood to the side, allowing Baidrer passage.

The next room was rather large, roughly the size of a school gymnasium. The entrance allowed newcomers to step onto a rail high above the actual floor. This rail traveled around the room, but a short ways before him stood a metal staircase leading to the floor below. There sat sandbags, practice dummies and poles, weights and other various workout materials. A few servants stood around the room surveying the sparring. In the room's center lay a large soft-looking mat. Atop this mat stood Yuji and Chiyo, both had adopted fighting stances. Those were dropped upon seeing their visitor, however. "Hiii, Mr. Baidrer!" Chiyo waved to him.

"Hey, there! You all settled in?"
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