.:| Quote |:.
"In darkness, no one sees you bleed or cry..."
-- Kierath Ranamor
.:| Vornae Proverbs |:.
"I no naka no kawazu taikai o shirazu."
A frog in a well does not know the great sea.
"Ame futte chi katamaru"
After the rain, earth hardens
.:| Libraries |:.
Tattered and worn would be the common description. What would be a badge of poverty was worn like a badge of honor upon the knight's chest. He rode into Sutherland City at a full gallop and was greeted by others wearing similar colors. He fell from his saddle and was caught gently and laid to the ground. He handed up a silver case with a wax seal still intact and then closed his eyes in death. His body did not dissipate. The large stain of crimson shown upon his ragged tabard told the tale. An arrow lodged within his breast and out of his back revealed the cause of death, but also the cause of his anguish. His lung had been run through and there was no telling how long he had ridden while suffering his lingering death. He bore the symbol upon his hand, but did so in pride. The unbroken circle stricken with a line straight through it was the symbol of the true bond, the one bond and it most likely kept him alive until the he had completed his mission.
The case was carried within the stronghold of Sutherland City, a fortress built from the old, but with additional crafting never laid down on Evendarian soil. It was built in layers, and with fortifications ready to repel attackers. It was built to repel ordinary men and not so ordinary ones. Deep within, near to the grand hall in a smaller room dwelt one such man. He was more than that. He slept and he dreamed. His blood burned with fire and his brow reflected it as it glistened in the dark. The rattle of the knock woke him with a start and he answered the door with anger upon his face. The man delivering the case stepped back and fell to a knee holding the case elevated as far as he could lift. Without actually looking up to see what he feared would come, the case was removed from his hand and the door slammed home.
Duke Westmire voiced his desire for light and several magical sources in the room sprung forth with a light which lit the entire room. He sat at his table and broke the seal on the missive. He read the message quickly and then set it aside. He closed his eyes and thought while peeling an apple. The reports he received earlier that week had now been confirmed. Not only would the Isle of E'it be receiving visitors from the northern Duchy of Tyrangel, but they all would be receiving visitors from somewhere a little more distant. Somewhere...where men were more than just that and where the fire in his blood was lit.
Elsewhere within the walls a meeting was taking place. Many were gathered around a table and tension was thick in the air. One man spoke above the others, his words dripping with venom and his eyes locked upon those he spoke with. His face was known here as was his name, Lord Justice Ragnar Bastable. His position placed him equal in rank to the one he sat opposite, Lord Chancellor Octavian Sojan. Bastable was addressing every man and women in the room and his temper was terrible. His issues were same as the last time he spoke at this meeting with one exception; he was interrupted after mere moments of starting. The one who did this was sitting quietly off the table behind several others. He had been reading documents and concentrating on the latest reports from the field. His attentions had been removed from Bastable until he heard the word Daleron. He looked up and asked “What name did you speak?” Bastable turned to the man and repeated his words “It appears that the nobility to the north have renamed Roderick Daleron to the position of Duke. The man, most commonly known as Seneschal Cynric Carnelian and to others as Viridius reported directly to Duke Westmire himself. He put quill to parchment and made a note, then rose and exited the room. Those within the meeting continued listening to Bastable who started to build his momentum once again.
Carnelian delivered his news to Duke Westmire with a calm voice and without fear. He knew how important it was that the Duke found out from him. Westmire heard the news and smiled. He looked over at Carnelian and threw him the message he read earlier. Viridius read over it and asked “now what?” Westmire reached into his heavy war chest and took out some black leather armor. He knew all those who saw it would recognize it and know who he was. He did not smile and he did not laugh, but he did close his eyes and see the image of a white phoenix facing east holding a red sword and black lighting bolt. He knew who was coming and he could feel it in his guts. He threw the armor back down into the chest and it lay atop a banner. A banner with a white phoenix facing east while holding a red sword and black lighting bolt.
Deep beneath the citadel of Westmire, mages worked tirelessly amid a throng of cages. The room smelled of animals and magic. The static in the air was nearly visible and those within the cages held eyes filled with stars. Their deep blackness only pierced by glints of light floating silently. These beasts looked to be like statues of white fur, or their color was more of a lack of pigment. They almost appeared to be sickly, except for the muscles that bulged from beneath their snowy coats. They stared at those men who walked among them and they seemed to be listening. The look in their eyes was one of intelligence and understanding. It was also the look of anticipation. This kennel was extensive and the cages went on beyond the light deep into the dark. Each cage filled with a white hound and each hound filled with a hate.
Nearby another large room or laboratory was lit dimly and appeared to be filled with large men, or something akin to men. They stood tall and silent, each one stoic and haunting. The looks upon their faces would be familiar to some. Not quite so much identical, but these bore likenesses to others outside these walls. One in particular seemed to be Sir Robert, but upon closer inspection there differences were obvious. These figures were cold to the touch, but were just as dangerous as their Knightly counterparts.
Several weeks earlier, while inspecting the newest batch of war barges, Duke Westmire walked alongside his former baron Ripley Fairfax and the current Baroness of Westmire, Xandra Vasilus. He pointed out the strengths of his ships, while pointing out where he wanted improvements. He was no shipwright, but he did know sea battles. There might come a time soon where he would need to repulse attacks by sea and he wanted every advantage. Xandra looked up at Duke Westmire with something akin to anticipation. She bore a slight resemblance to the Duke, but that was attributed to his being her father. This was not commonly known, but it was obvious in the way she ruled her lands. Fairfax was a different sort. He walked confidently and was not lavishly dressed. This was contrary to how rich he actually was. He could have been wearing cloths woven from gold, or the scales of dragons. He had made a handsome sum working alongside this Duke. Both men knew this, and by doing so, Fairfax had sold his soul to a fate he thought he actually controlled. Fairfax took notes and would see to it that every ship was outfitted as per the Duke's instructions.
Several leagues away, within the Isles De'Hoenig several men walked together in secret. They were dressed unremarkably and their weapons were plain, but sharp. They had no money with them and their shoes were worn and cracked. The only hint of who they were was found in their step and mannerism. They seemed to float and leave no telling of their passing. Leaves did not move and the earth did not reveal the marks of their shoes. Their faces were plain, but had a purpose. Their packs contained a map, rations for the road and a marker symbol of a dragon in flight. This dragon carried a black sword within its grasp. The five of them drew up as they heard riders on the road ahead and before they could be seen, they had slipped into the woods, invisible to any who would look. The riders coming by had the symbol of the Evendarian King. There were 10 in all, and there appeared to be no mages among them. Swords and armor adorned them and their banner flew proudly. The five men in hiding communicated silently amongst each other. The path went still and the riders turned while holding their horses in place. From the woods poured beasts, taller then men, and stood high among the horses. They appeared as wolves, yet stood upon their hind legs. Their claws were sharp and their teeth sank into those white riders. Blood decorated those knights who were on route to meet Sir Robert. Their missive would never make. Instead, these 5 would take their place. They would take up the role and deliver a different message while sending the intended one to a different destination, the hands of Peracles Saramour.