The Heir Apparent: A Fantasy RP (In-Game Thread)

STAGE ONE: BLITZKRIEG

Red on green. The towering coniferous trees of The Viridian, home of Duke Robert was ablaze. Verdant green life was consumed by the advancing flames, leaving behind crisped and blackened husks. Down from the mountains a wildfire without equal cut a swathe from the dukedom, crawling south and east towards the center of the region: The Mossy Keep, a work of equal parts stone and earth, partially sunken beneath the ground, and the first line of defense for the rest of the kingdom of Hasthfold.

Not ten miles northwest of the Mossy Keep, a vanguard stood to meet the oncoming fires. Three thousand men clad in mail and plate armor stood shoulder-to-shoulder, facing down the high walls of fire as they came over the horizon. The cannon and trebuchets were in place, and a small contingent of cavalry waited by its side. Lines a thousand abreast and a hundred deep of crossbowmen stood ready for the worst of it. But at the rear, the most impressive members of the regiment stood. Clad in ornate, impossibly crafted forms, human-like constructions of metal anywhere up to four times the height of a man stood in clusters. Separated by profession and by talent, they held their heads high and waited for the call to action from their Lord.

The man in question, Duke Robert, stood in an Armor of his own. An off-white like bone, with a helmet like a bear's skull, and claws of the same make clutching a fur cloak to its pauldrons. He clutched a mace, balancing its tip on the dirt as he casually observed the wildfire. He projected the image of confidence, straight-backed and ready for war. In truth, Robert was thankful that his soldiers could not see the sweat on his skin. If the rumors were true... his garrison was not nearly enough to repel what was coming.

Robert became aware of another Armor approaching him, barely over half the height of his twenty-foot monstrosity. Robert nodded his helm to the oncoming man, and in an uproarious voice called, "Hail, Greytongue."

"Duke Robert," curtly replied the shade. Robert kept his indignation to himself. No respect from this man. Duke Cal had given the highest recommendation to Sir Greytongue's team. Robert waited to see proof of this.

Gesturing to the approaching devastation the Duke asked, "I've been told men of your ilk are precisely what I need to curtail this threat. Tell me you haven't been oversold."

"Not in the slightest, Duke Robert," insisted the mage in the smaller suit. "Though we are but men. Pray you have not oversold yourself, or else we'll be of no more use to you than a sword to an armless man."

Robert turned back to give a few more harsh words at him, only to find the mysterious Greytongue was gone. A chill ran down his spine, and he put the thought of the stranger man from Hush away. There was a battle to fight now. He raised his hand into the air, the first signal of the coming battle. "PREPARE, DIVINERS."

Half a dozen Armors advanced past the ranks of the infantry, grouping up into pairs to face the inferno. The encroaching flames came closer... closer... and closer still, until the fire was moments from licking the Diviners themselves before Duke Robert called out once again. "NOW!"

On cue the Armors extended their arms, one mage in each pair digging their feet into the ground. Three of the Diviners called upon the earth itself, drawing great waves of soil up and over the flames, smothering them. And three more blast great torrents of water from the palms of their metal hands, obliterating what was left of the fire. Not a minute had passed before naught but belching fumes of smoke and embers remained.

Robert nodded to himself. Step one, complete. Now he had to pull back his Diviners and--

"CHARGE!"

Too late. The sound of a dozen cannons ripped into the air, and cannonballs smashed the torsos of the Diviners. Two fell on the spot, and another lost a leg to the violent impact. That was only the beginning, though. Through the smoke came an entire line of Armors, their blades drawn and battle cries on their lips. The Diviners were cut down in an instant. Robert swore he felt his heart stop.

"F-FIRE! EVERYONE, FIRE!"

His own artillery returned the favor to the attackers, lobbing stones, bolts, and cannonballs. Their strike was less effective, and a moment later a swarm of bodies followed the Armors through the smoke, meeting the Duke's throng on the field of battle.

The armies of Lisbeth, the girl who would be Queen, had entered Hasthfold and spilled blood. War was on again.


The trebuchets of the Duke's armies, though ineffective at the start, were quickly regrouping and finding targets among the thick concentrations of infantry. This needed to change, and the task fell to a pair of Sheriffs. Ambrose Ausoman and Alastor Rambert found themselves alone in the chaos, facing off against a single foe. A Chevalier by the looks of him, his lithe Armor hefting a lance in its hands as it hopped back and forth, sizing them up. It was either cocky, or deadly.


Arthur Sol found himself in a precarious spot. Separated from the other Diviners, and what was worse, surrounded by dozens of cavalry. The horsemen circled his autumn-colored Armor, clutching javelins in their hands, connected to their fellows' by netting. He could already tell their plan: they intended to trap him and bring him down. His size and his metal plating meant nothing if they managed to immobilize him. If he intended to get back to the fight, he would have to fight his way through these men.


Among the infantrymen came a-rushing Lysandor Kantor, the Red Priest, his warhammer swinging. The men of Duke Robert at his feet were like ants against his massive suit, but he was not without equal on the field of battle. Before him, a trio of mages were arrayed, Shades by the look of them. The one in the middle was tallest and wrapped in a shawl, with a pair of daggers in its hands. The ones to its sides were identical to each other, one grey like coal and the other an amber color. The coal mage held a sickle, and the amber a chain with a weight at one end. An unusual sort, but Lysandor would see if they could stand against his might.


It was a double-edged sword for Marcus Leitner to be at the forefront of this assault. To see the first moment of his Queen's reconquest of her nation up close and personally was the greatest privilege one in his profession could imagine. But to watch his own home burn in the process was not a price he'd expected to pay to do it. It would surely shake a man's psyche. Perhaps that was why he'd been personally ordered to take the Duke's head and bring it to Lisbeth. A test to see where his loyalties lied. Of course, that was only speculation.

At his side was a fellow Chevalier, Lady Alexis d'Aur, one of the oldest and most skilled veterans in the Queen's employ. Surely he had the advantage as he drew himself up against the bone-adorned armor of Duke Robert. The traitorous, portly fellow drew his mace up and held it like a bat ready to swing. "You think yourselves worthy to try and take my head? Come then, and I'll give you a personal lesson in humility and respect for your betters!"

Just stall them, Robert. Just stall them, and let Greytongue do his work...

Dried leaves and twigs snapped underfoot as Mathias trudged along the winding path to the cliff's top. He had been sent with a simple but vital mission - ensure the plateau overlooking the coming battlefield was clear of Duke Robert's men, then secure it for the Queen's artillery. This was the only spot for miles that had a clear shot at the Mossy Keep - when Robert's men inevitably retreated, they would need those guns to break its walls. He'd insisted that such an important mission not be undertaken alone, and so the Queen sent three others - Mary, an Outrider like himself, and two Shades, Rickard and von Brandt.

He called back to his compatriots with a whisper, keeping his profile low as they approached the flat of the plateau, his voice growling with a Greypeak accent. "Keep your ears to the ground. We don't know how many mages Robert has at his disposal, and failure here would cost Lisbeth days she doesn't have."

Reaching the top, he ran to the plateau's edge and surveyed the surrounding landscape, quickly locating the battlefield by the pillars of smoke rising in the distance. He grimaced - he'd already voiced his complaints to the Queen that such crude methods would not be needed to march her army through Viridian if she would just lend him time to scout paths. She had decided time was of the essence, however, and brushed him aside. 'We should get this done quickly. The sooner we win here, the sooner we can stop desecrating this sacred place.'

Seeing the smoke extinguish itself and hearing the distant sound of men screaming and steel striking steel, he surmised the battle had begun in earnest. If the Duke would make a move for this position - and he would be a fool not to - now would be time. Mathias turned to enter the treeline. "Let us begin. Fan out and..."

He stopped dead, the words dying out in his mouth as his head jerked to the side. He had not heard the breaking of branches underfoot nor the whisper of a man's breath - Shades were too skilled to make such rookie mistakes. But he did hear the scurry of animals underfoot - heading towards him. Something was spooking them - something that evaded his direct notice, but was not one with the forest. That could only mean one thing - Shades. He gestured for his allies to follow, crouching low and drawing his bow, seeming to disappear into the brush as he did so.

The hunt... was on.

Art looked at the people around him, surrounding him, trying to catch him in a net. That could have been a dangerous situation, considering they could trap him. However, he easily saw something that most people might not even consider, because of their simple minds. Or, simply because they thought force was the only solution. These were the cavalry. The men on the horses. And what horse did not panic when they heard a loud, strange sound? Not even military horses could be tamed so well, and once one ran... All of them would, it was the instinct in them.

Of course, he could just shock all of them, but that was a waste of precious magic, in his opinion. Besides, he wanted to see if he could get one of them to return to the enemy lines, and then use that soldier as a point in order to scry for information.

Art smirked, albeit he had limited time, and a second thing to consider. "Now, they would all run in the same direction, so, what happens with the net, then? If all of them keeps holding it, which is highly unlikely, they could trip me. However, I would say what will happen, is that it will get forced out of the hands of those who keep holding it, or might even force them out of the saddle, and get them trampled to death by the horses." Yeah, that sounded like what he needed to do. Even if some of the cavalry-men managed to stay, they were no threat, and he could easily kick them away or something like that. Perhaps even use his ability of lightning, in case these were some kind of deaf horses, which was a fairly amusing thought.

Art thought about how they had put him together with the other diviners before, even though he had several times politely advised them not to. while preparing the speaker. It was discouraging, really, he had hoped they had enough wit to at least avoid making such a mistake. Unless there was some kind of far-fetched, complicated, fancy reason for them to want to put the attention towards their own diviners and get them killed. He would not be surprised if there were. At least here he could be as loud as possible, without getting anyone else in trouble. Perfect.

Suddenly, the air was filled with a horrendous sound, his own voice getting twisted by the speaker. It was a sound that would make the soldiers as scared as their horses, panic clear in their eyes. The sound would reach far, a lot further than necessary. Double-edged sword, and all that, but he figured the army of the Queen was not that easily scared. Now, how effective was it? He would watch and take note, before zapping anyone who might think it a good idea to stay.

The drums, the drums...

The flames of war spewed smoke into the in the distance. Caspian took a deep breath, the smoke echoed that of the village that now lay in ruined due to his recklessness. It would be the same for every battlefield. Every time, the image of that village, the smell of human flesh burning. However, he would be a fool if that bothered him. What bothered him now was the squad he had been assigned to. For one, the other Shade. From the look of his Armour, he used poison. A crude and clumsy choice. Without the means to measure each enemy troop and tailor the dosage, the man would have to pump in as much as possible and hope for the best. The Outriders insisted on using their giant bows of theirs, another clumsy choice. If there were Shades around the place, they would most likely go in for the kill up close in the blink of an eye. But who was he to question Lisbeth's tactics?

The bells, the bells...

The Outrider's words warned him of the price of failure and the hidden danger nearby. With a sigh, the Armour's plates filled with colour, mirroring the surroundings. The arms drew into a defense position. But even with extra caution, Caspian did not like this. While the forests of The Viridian proved to be good cover, it would be same for their enemies. Not to mention and the thick growth did not leave much room to maneuver. Hopefully the Outriders would prove their worth here. If not, they were just dead weight. Nevertheless, the Shade followed the Outrider into the bush, the loosely bound plates of his Armour reconfiguring to better accommodate stray branches and the like. Each step was silent, experience had rendered moving silently through the environment second nature. Not much to do but wait and follow. And he hated waiting.

The march has begun...

The drive through the enemy lines had been quicker than expected. Even with Lysander leading the assault with his holy magic; he was surprised and proud at the ferocity and dedication of the men under his command and thanks to these efforts the main enemy lines were broken and soon they would be routed off the battlefield. However Lysander's optimism disappeared when he saw three enemy mages approach him.

Seeing fellow Mages within the enemy ranks was not an uncommon site for Lysander but despite his many years of battle, he still felt betrayed if he faced another Mage on the battlefield. Like him they were blessed with the gift of magic and with such a powerful gift it should be used for a noble and just endeavor, not the selfless and unholy actions of an old duke who wished to gain something that was not his. The thought of fellow Mages backing such an unjust cause enraged Lysander; Mages should be working together for the good of the kingdom and the people not their own selfless desires for power or money. The very thought of this selflessness drove him to advanced towards the enemy Mages, the blood of the enemy infantry that he had recently killed still fresh on his giant metallic white armour.

As Lysander approached the enemy mages the battle raged on around him. His rage and determination to kill his opponents blocked out the noise and horror of the battle going on. A few brave enemy footmen had tried to attack Lysander as he advanced; but they were quickly cut down by Lysander's men as they covered his advance. Lysander then stopped a few feet away from his opponents and readied himself, the men who were covering his advanced quickly backed off as they knew that whatever was about to come; they didn't want to get in the way of it.

As he stopped, Lysander quickly assessed his opponents and their weapons. They were clearly Shads by their armour and there weapons were unusual but most likely effective in combat. Lysander would have mocked the use of a metal chain in combat, but hard learnt experiences taught him that anything can be used as a weapon if the user is skilled enough. The fact that Shads used unhonourable methods in combat would have to be observed as well; these men were unpredictable opponents and a great care would have to be taken if he wanted to defeat them.

Lysander then raised his warhammer to his opponents "I fight for a noble cause Shads. Can you say the same?" he then rushed towards the three enemy mages his giant warhammer raised to strike a fatal blow to the group.

"You think yourselves worthy to try and take my head? Come then, and I'll give you a personal lesson in humility and respect for your betters!"

"My betters?"

Even without being filtered through Eurus' mechanical shell, Marcus' chuckle was cold, almost mechanical. "Don't make me laugh, Robert. The lowest circle of hell is reserved for traitors like you, you know."

Striding forward a couple paces, the young man leveled his blade at the duke's Armor, paying no heed to the clouds of smoke or sounds of clashing metal in the background. What did he care if the entirety of the Viridian was leveled? Why did it matter if his home, if his inheritance and birthright, was destroyed in the flames? He had already sworn his allegiance to Lisbeth and her cause; until he helped her to retake Hathsfeld's throne, he had no business worrying about his own belongings or goals.

So, if his Queen wanted him to strike down Robert and deliver unto her his head, then he would do so without hesitation.

Only... He wished she hadn't seen fit to send along the Lady d'Aur as well. Objectively, Marcus knew that the strategy was sound; two soldiers were always better than one, after all. But if this was really supposed to be some sort of test of his loyalties, like the whispered rumors had claimed, then he'd rather it be a test that he took (and hopefully passed) alone. Still. There was no sense in complaining about his commander's orders. Besides, even in the few weeks he'd spent in Lisbeth's camp, the man had heard plenty of stories about the Lady's skill in battle. If he had to have someone watching his back, he supposed he'd prefer a knight as well-versed in close-combat as himself.

Enough thinking. With a shake of his head, Marcus dispelled the cloud of thoughts that had occupied his mind, clearing his head of anything not pertaining to the bone-white Armor before him. The sooner he brought down Robert, the better for him and all of Lisbeth's forces.

"Robert!"

Extending Eurus' arm so that the Armor's blade hovered just above the ground, Marcus shot forward like a bolt of lighting, every mighty footstep kicking up chunks of dirt and grass. "Just how fast do you think you can swing that mace!?"

"Robert!" Marcus screamed at the enemy commander, his blade raised, before bolting forward shouting "Just how fast do you think you can swing that mace!?". Alexis followed immediately, staying close to her partner, but saying nothing.

Alexis wanted to say many things. She wanted to bleed the man dry for the horrors he and his master had committed. She wanted to make him suffer, to make his warriors suffer, his family suffer, and to have him watch everything he cared for turn to dust before his eyes, but she said and did none of this. It wouldn't undo the past, it wouldn't break the Archduke's power any faster, and it wouldn't be proper. Mostly however, it wasn't Lisbeth's order. They needed to take the castle quickly and fortify it before any reinforcements from the capital or the other regions arrived. They needed to stop him before some Shade found a hole in their defenses. She needed to minimize the bloodshed, not hunt for petty revenge against rebellious lords. Her revenge could wait for the Archduke.

Alexis stayed close to Eurus, ready to move her shield in to cover him should anyone attack them - Duke Robert or otherwise. That was her job; her duty. To protect. She would be Lisbeth's shield. She would be Marcus's shield. She would stop the enemies of the royal crown so Lisbeth and mages like Marcus could strike true and hard without fear of reprisal. It was her duty, and she was very good at it.

Her Majesty had insisted she go with the new recruit to keep an eye on him and defend him if he got in over his head. Alexis didn't really like the idea of leaving Lisbeth without her shield, but that was her liege's order. There was also a sense to the order she couldn't deny. Lisbeth had plenty of knights and soldiers protecting her, far to the rear of the army. One more mage - no matter how powerful - couldn't really make that much of a difference in the back. Meanwhile, here on the frontlines, she could at least stop any powerful enemies ahead of time. It was a sort of proactive defense.

Thus far, Marcus had shown loyalty and strength. He would make a great knight in the not-too-distant future; the kind of knight she would be proud to stand beside as brothers and sisters in arms. but, for now, he was still young. untested. He would be a great knight, and it was Alexis's job to ensure he lived long enough to rise to that potential.

Alexis moved through the battle, staying just outside of Marcus's stance so as not interfere with his attacks, but close enough that when the powerful mace came down, she could block it fully in a moment's notice. For a brief moment, she found herself worrying about Mary and her unit on the plateau, but shook the thought. Mary and her compatriots were strong and her worry only hurt the battle against duke Robert. She did however take a moment to smile, thinking whoever came against Mary was the most unlucky soldier on the field

Save, perhaps, Duke Robert.

The smell of blood and smoke permeated the air, as Alastor maneuvered Joachim over to the enemy trebuchets. The Duke's artillery had so far proved ineffective, but a sudden boost to his army's morale had spurred the troops on to concentrate on the Mages and their Armours amidst the Queen's troops. He saw how, to his right, men were hoisting the large projectiles onto the siege weapons in preparation for another volley.

Although action must be swift, Alastor was not going to be hasty in his attack; although he could not say the same for his colleague, the ever eager Ambrose Ausoman. Being composed of varying types of scrap metal, the boy's armour hardly looked state-of-the-art, and yet that was what he'd tell you, that it was a "work in progress", constantly improving upon his design within the Sheriffs.

Alastor hoped that this wasn't the boy's first foray into battle, but even so, he was going to make damn sure it wasn't going to be his last. Redirecting a small amount of his power, he amplified his vocal range by resonating the sound waves through the ground into his partner's armour, using it as a form of short-wave communication.

"We have to stop those siege weapons from firing upon the Queen. If we can commandeer the trebuchets, we can turn them against their army."

Any further suggestions were cut short however, when he saw a lone Armour approach the pair hefting a lance; clearly a Chevalier. He was either incredibly foolish, or incredibly brave.

Joachim stood his ground, staring resolutely at their solitary foe. His arms reached for a particularly large pool strapped to his greaves, retrieving with it a length of large chain, at it's end an enormous morningstar. Sizing up his opponent, Alastor whipped the chain and it's weight onto the ground in front of the Chevalier, simultaneously traumatising the trebuchet operators whilst also baiting the Mage into making the first move. At the first sign of movement, Alastor whipped forward his flail once again, this time the ball and chain hooking around the lance, before driving it to pin the Armour into the ground by it's solleret.

Keeping most of his focus on the trapped foe, he sent out a command to his colleague behind him.

"Hit him now!"

The cacophonous roar of the battlefield felt enclosing on his senses. The constant movement of hundreds of bodies kept his head swiveling from side to side, desperately trying to keep up with all of the activity. So this was war; what the armours he dreamed of constructing were ultimately for? He could feel his chest tighten and his stomach churn at how naïve he had been to not imagine what a massive tool of war was capable of. Had any of the others known, he would have been laughed off all the way back to Heavensview. Hopefully his partner-

"We have to stop those siege weapons from firing upon the Queen. If we can commandeer the trebuchets, we can turn against their army."

Alastor had cut his thoughts off with the most obvious tactical maneuver the young boy could imagine. While he was subconsciously grateful for the clear order and objective to settle his nerves, his surface thoughts were filled to the brim with how much more idiotic his partner could possibly be.

"Gee, any more sage advice you care to pass along?" he quipped, the edge in his tone quite obvious.

It was then that their first obstacle made itself apparent - a brilliant Chevalier in gleaming armour. Ambrose was almost paralyzed with apprehension at the prospect of fighting one of his former brothers-in-arms. More than that, the Chevalier were easily the worst house to be fighting with Trixie, her weapons focusing on long range ordinance bombardment with little to no close range protection. He shifted his gaze back over to Alastor, hoping the man had some sort of plan to get them out of this jam. He was all too aware that his partner was from the Sheriffs as well which didn't bode well for their close combat capabilities. His hands moved with practiced precision, pulling out one knob on a panel in front of him before pushing another in. His hand then reached up above his head and pulled down a level with a hand sized grip ring. Suddenly the armour was shifting, large clanking sounds ringing through the entire machine as the arrow racks below the shoulders were slowly turning to switch out their payload. If they were going to be facing an armour right off the bat he wanted to make sure he had a nice surprise waiting for their eager nemesis.

Luckily Alastor was prepared for just such an occasion, whipping about a chained morningstar head he drew from his armour's leg. The weapon would give them the much needed separation the Sheriffs would require to keep optimal weapons capabilities and Ambrose could only smile at that. With his shield raised up to be prepared for the worst, he could only hope his ally could tangle up the Chevalier just long enough. The morningstar was whipped out in front, laid to leave a trap for the Chevalier as he undoubtedly advanced in a classic full charge.

"Hit him now!"

"Alright Trixie," Ambrose said with a childish grin on his face, "let's show them what we can do!"

If there had been any doubt as to the performance capabilities of the ramshackle armour they would have been shattered to pieces by the barrage Ambrose had unleashed. Pulling down a similar lever to his right the shoulder pads of his armour opened to reveal large arrow launchers. Within an instant the sky was filled with a storm of projectiles, raining down upon the Chevalier. Each missile was tipped with a small explosive pouch, ready to detonate with sufficient impact upon a target. As the launcher unloaded and covered the battlefield with explosions, the circular design rolled forwards, grabbing new arrows in empty holes and allowing subsequent rows to prep and fire. It was a terror of modern mechanics, as was expected of proper Sheriff.

Oh yes, this was technology at its finest...

A booming, twisting, gnarling sound erupted from Art's Armor. A noise designed to spook and to horrify the beasts of the cavalry and send them running. A textbook trick that had sent many a horse flying in days past, and the greatest obstacle when putting them up against a mage.

But these horses stood their ground. Of course they did; it was a blunder on these part. These men were veterans of a decade-long war, and their horses had been trained well. His opportunity for action wasted, he had no time to shield himself as the forces of the Duke made their move. A dozen, no, two--three dozen javelins flew through the air, their metal tips supplemented by an array of hooks designed to find purchase on his contraption's metal skin. They snared themselves in all the cracks and breaks and crannies of his armor, and at the rear of the shafts metal wires tied them back to the cavalrymen, still spinning around him. The wires twisted and turned, slowly drawing taut and putting pressure on the Diviner, until his Armor could no longer stand in its increasingly awkward position. He tripped, falling flat on his face, arms bound as the cavalry came to a halt, planting javelins at the other end of the wires into the dirt to keep him trapped.

They turned to face him, drawing maces and other blunt weapons, as well as crooked blades designed to pry. Next came the arduous task of tearing his Armor apart, to get at the mage within.


"I fight for a noble cause Shades. Can you say the same?"

The Shades did not respond to him, but the Red Priest could still feel the sneering contempt they felt at his words. Clearly, they did not find his cause so noble as he. Lysander charged head-on, aiming to strike a mighty blow with his warhammer. An effective strategy against those with stronger urges of chivalry, but not so much against Shades. The trio scattered in separate directions, leaving his striking zone free of targets. But they were not finished; Kantor watched as the amber-colored Armor, with but a flick of its wrist launched its weighted chain, its length coiling across the grip of his warhammer, and then tugged. In his awkward, swinging position he had no weight to bargain with. The Red Priest was flipped heel-over-head and crashed to the ground, sliding in an arc along the direction he'd swung in and kicking up dirt as he went.

When he finally stopped, face in the ground, he could feel the tremors as the others approached. One towards his feet, and the other towards his right side, by his reckoning. He would have to get up quickly if he wanted to avoid an unfavorable position.


"Just how fast do you think you can swing that mace!?"

The young knight Marcus shot a nasty taunt and a swing of his blade simultaneously, charging the Duke, the pretender of his own home, ready to cut him down for the crimes against his Queen. If only he could have seen the man sitting in his Armor, he might have understood his error. He'd have seen Robert's smile.

"Plenty, thanks!"

A strike like lightning. Blue light surrounded Robert's weapon arm an instant before Marcus made contact. And in that instant he struck, swinging his mace up and batting the knight's arm away. The Duke pivoted left with his swing, leaving his back open to counter by the Chevalier--or so it appeared. Robert struck straight back with the grip of his weapon, batting the smaller Armor right in its face, knocking it back a step. There was still a third strike to be made in this combo. Robert completed his turn, going a full 360 degrees before raising his mace up high and swiping its diagonally, from Marcus' left shoulder and across his torso to the hip. Both mages backed away, some space being put between them.

Robert was breathing somewhat erratically. "Oomph! Haven't moved that fast in years! My body isn't ready for that much stress! But still... this portly old fellow can do some surprising things when he has to teach an upstart a thing or two. Young mage, it appears you must have gone without formal education, so let this old man be your tutor. First lesson: Never charge a mage before you know what magic he uses."

That was a valuable lesson, and Marcus could already tell. In both places where he'd been struck, he founds his articulation slowly fading. A visual glance confirmed his fears: thick layers of ice were forming on his wrist and on his left shoulder. More blows like that, and he'd be immobilized. Or worse, refrigerated inside his own Armor.

Feeling the boy to no longer be much of a threat, Robert turned to the second Chevalier present. "You would be... Lady d'Aur then, yes? I've heard rumors of the Queen's bitch. Quite the title, that. Any skill to back it up?"

He waved his mace at her, daring her to try.


Alastor was either a secret genius, or a lucky idiot. The Chevalier opted to make the first move, leaping forward and slamming towards him with the tip of his lance. The ball-and-chain came flying as he'd planned and wrapped tightly around his long spear and twisted it out the way. The weapon buried itself in the ground. That part of his plan was a success. The part that failed was when Alastor expected the mage to keep hold of his weapon.

The Duke's chevalier released the grip on his lance the moment it was clear he'd miss, and tightened his armor's hands into fists. Red light gathered at his elbows, and as soon as his feet hit dirt this light exploded like gunpowder. Both of his arms struck out like pistons, slamming into Joachim's gut. The force of the blow was such that when Alastor next had clear vision, he was on his back beside a newly-splintered tree some quarter a kilometer away.

But even so, that was all the opening his partner had needed. Ambrose opened up with a powerful volley. Explosive arrows by the dozen carpeted the field in front of him, and by far most of them were converging on the Chevalier. He might have been able to avoid it with some warning, but shock and awe tactics precluded such nonsense as prior warning. With barely more resistance than shielding the mage inside with the shell's forearms, the Armor was sent flying in a mad explosion, rocketing back into the trebuchets and smashing them beneath its weight.

As the smoke cleared, the Chevalier wasn't moving. Maybe the mage was dead?

...Nope. An arm, then the rest of it began twitching as it slowly rose to its feet, clearly pained but certainly not dead yet. His once-gleaming armor now dented, charred and coated in soot, this weaponless Chevalier set his sights on the Sheriff that had just made a mockery of him. The red light gathered at his feet now, as he prepared to jump. And by god, did he jump, the explosive motion launching him dozens of meters into the air before leaning down, and speeding towards the Armor below, preparing the mother of all punches.

"You would be... Lady d'Aur then, yes? I've heard rumors of the Queen's bitch. Quite the title, that. Any skill to back it up?"

Alexis wouldn't fall for it. The Duke was many things - a traitor most notably - but dumb wasn't one of them. He wasn't weak and he had a plan; and she wasn't going to fall for it. "An honorable title, for at least I'm still the Queen's" she said, retaining her stance, but shifting the position of her shields to fight as needed. "I think when this battle ends, I'll suggest the title of Duke of Viridian be retired - no one deserves the dishonor of taking your title." she finished, her smirking face hidden by her armor.

"As for my skill-" she said, swinging her left arm up behind her until her shield was held parallel with the ground, while bringing her right shield to bear in between her and the Duke. "-come and find out, unless your both a coward and a traitor."

Dammit!

Barely managing to bite back the curse, Marcus toppled backwards, unable to keep his balance after Robert's attack. How the hell had that fat bastard managed to knock him back like this? He was just an old man, past his prime; there was no way he should have been capable of dishing out hits like that!

Still, like it or not, it didn't look like the Duke was planning on going down easily. It'd probably take more than just wild swings to take him down.

Growling through clenched teeth, the youth forced his limbs to move. Noisily, Eurus staggered to its feet, driving its blade into the ground like some sort of makeshift crutch. The Armor's left arm, its wrist and shoulder covered by a rough coat of ice, hung limply at its side, little more than dead weight at this point.

Meanwhile, a cold, terrifying numbness was spreading across Marcus' corresponding limb, a painful chill that slowly leeched the feeling from his muscles. Unbidden memories flew to the forefront of the youth's mind, reminding him of the time he had almost lost two of his fingers to frostbite. Suffice to say, it was not an experience he wanted to repeat.

Well, the knight reflected, glaring up at Robert's Armor, the best way to get rid of the magic is to get rid of the mage, right?

Alright, so, simple hand-to-hand combat probably wasn't the best way to handle things. Even if he was breathing heavily, odds were the Duke had enough for a few more hits like that in him. No, if Marcus wanted to take him down, he'd have to rely on a few tricks of his own. Robert wasn't the only one with magic, after all.

"As for my skill... Come and find out, unless your both a coward and a traitor."

Heh, perfect timing. If the Lady d'Aur was entering the fray, then he'd have all the time he needed...

Forcing himself to calm down, Marcus exhaled, slowly and steadily. At his command, Eurus pulled its blade from the ground, and held it steadily in its grasp. "Fall, the wall that blocks the Southern breeze," the young swordsman began, allowing his eyes to slide shut as he chanted. "Break, the barrier that holds the Eastern gusts."

Marcus knew that chanting was far from the most effective way to cast a spell; it was time consuming, effectively immobilized him, and almost certainly gave away the nature of his magic. Obviously, none of these were good things to have on a battlefield. However, at this stage in his life the youth lacked the skill or experience that would allow him to cast his magic without some sort of aid. If he was going to cast with any degree of power or accuracy, he needed the chant to lend him clarity and focus; without it he was just as likely to hurt himself or his allies as he was his foes.

But, when he had someone like the Lady d'Aur covering him and keeping the enemy occupied...

"Sunder, the tower that keeps the Northern gales."

As he neared the final verse of his incantation, the air around Marcus began to shift and dance. Whistling, it began to circle around his Armor, carrying along leaves, bits of grass, and motes of dust like a miniature tornado.

The young man's eyes flew open as he shouted the last few words. "Crash, the castle that stops the Western storms!"

He could feel it: The magical strength that raced through his veins, ready to bend reality to his whim. For a single instant, he held the power to force the air itself to do his bidding, whatever it may be. He couldn't afford to waste this chance...

So, readying his blade, Marcus locked eyes on Robert and the Lady d'Aur, watching for the slightest hint of an opening. The instant the Duke showed his weakness... That was when he would strike.

Well. That did not end well. Not well at all. Actually, it went horrible, and now he was on his face. Art sighed, and clutched his head, which had accidentally hit some sort of device in the Armor he did not remember asking for, but that some other diviner had added, for some strange reason. Was it something that he did not manage to pay attention to, it was the endless ramblings of the diviners working on the armors with actual interest for how it worked.

Art shook his head, the sound of the soldiers on the super-horses trying to rip his colorful and quite nice Armor apart, made him remember the kind of situation he was in. "Oh well. I should have known." He knew very well he had been too arrogant, if he could think of it in a single moment, then others had, before him. And knowing a tactic meant that you could defend against it. In this case, the horses seemed to have been trained, probably with the use of magic, to ignore any sound, even one such as this.

And now he was in a bad situation, they were already trying to pry open his armor. So, next step, using the power of electricity to get them away. Luckily, he had not wasted too much of his magic before, and with the cavalry all surrounding his armor, it meant he could get out of this without using all of it. What use was a scryer who could not scry, after all?

The inside of his armor was filled with electric insulators, reinforced with magic in order to make sure he would not be killed by his own lightning. Of course, there was also the part that made it so that the magic was increased. Which was that again? Well, that did not matter, as long as he knew how to use it. One had to admit, that one could not know everything, just almost.

Art waited for the moment all of the soldiers to touch the armor, which he basically guessed, but hey, it was probably correct, before electrocuting them. Normally, his electricity was in a small, round, form, but in a situation like this, he could just simply make the whole armor the conductor. Besides, the others had to be close to the wires, most likely even touching them, so it was not a bad move. If they somehow had a way of surviving that, then they almost deserved to take him. Of course, he would not, that would mean letting Lord Roesen down.

Besides, chances were their orders were to kill him instantly, so there was no chance of surrendering. A mage having made no name for himself yet.... Well, that was not true. But this was a different kind of name, not the kind that was the result of rumors due to questionable actions, some true, some not, but rather that of a fighter. The electricity stopped, and he smirked, overconfidence keeping him from panicking, as his brain calmly went through the different solutions to any problem that might follow.

"It appears I under estimated you and your dishonourable tactics shads" Lysander grunted as he looked up upon the sky which showed know concern to the battle that was taking place underneath it "It'll be a pleasure when I look down upon your corpses", saying that Lysander then quickly shot out his hands in front of him and then brought his closed fists down quickly at his side with a force.

As his fists hit the ground a shock wave caused the ground beneath the advancing shads to move, this resulted in them either losing their balance or stumbling to the ground. This was a minor spell not really designed to cause any damage, but it would give Lysander the few vital seconds he needed to be able to counter-attack the shads effectively.

Lysander shot up onto his feet and spun round to face the coal and amber shads that were approaching him from the right. He charged forward and lashed out with his left fist to the shad closest to him, his heavily armoured fist made contact with the shads head and the resulting impact along with the satisfying cracking of his breaking nose made the coal shad fly onto his back knocked unconscious, his light armour doing nothing to top the heavy blow of Lysander.

Once that was done, Lysander quickly turned his attention towards the amber shad who was now fumbling with his weapon preparing to try and strike Lysander.

"Your unorthodox and shameful weapon may have been of use to you earlier shad...It'll be your last mistake".

Lysander then darted towards the amber shad at full speed. The shad lashed out with his chain but Lysander kept with his assault and as the chain's weight struck his armour he grasped the chain tightly and pulled it using his immense strength to pull it from the shads grasp and throwing it to the side away from the shad.

As Lysander was a meter away from the shad, the shad pulled out a dagger in an attempt to defend himself. Lysander backhanded the dagger from the shads hand with his heavy plate gauntlet and then followed up his attack with a strong head-butt to the shads head, the shad then staggered back due to the blow and was then grappled by Lysander who threw him on the ground.

As the shad lay on the ground winded, Lysander kept up his assault determined to kill his unhonourable opponent. He landed a powerful kick on the shad's breastplate with the result of the chest plate bending inwards, sounds of cracking ribs and blood seeping through the pours of his opponent's helmet.

Lysander then readied the killing blow; his foot on the shad's dented in breast plate, he quickly kneeled down and got a hold of his opponents right arm. Next quickly and with a lot of force he pulled on the right arm. The shad screamed and kicked at the pain of his arm getting pulled from his socket, the shad tried to scream a plea of mercy too Lysander; but the Red priest did not hear it.

Within a few seconds the shad's arm was fully ribbed from his socket and blood flowed forth from the stump staining the grass beneath it. The shads scream of pain rung out across the battlefield and a few of the soldiers who were standing watching this fight unfold. Could not believe this "holy warrior" could achieve such a feat of barbarity. Lysander then hit the screaming and wounded shad with his own arm several times, as if to remind the shad what he had just done with his arm. After two short hits; the shad stopped screaming and died, Lysander then threw the arm on top of the shad's body were it landed limply on top of his dented in breast plate.

The Red priest then stepped away from the mutilated corpse and faced the tall shad that was the last of the three that had attacked Lysander.

"Your men fell easily for their dishonourable cause shad, just as you will" Lysander shouted, his voice booming towards his enemy "You do not deserve to be killed by my hammer shad...that is reserved for my worthy and honourable foes. I'll tear out your spine...it's what traitors without a true cause like you deserve".

Greytongue smirked to himself. This had to be the easiest job he'd been given in a long time - preliminary reports from the Duke's scouts told him there was only a small strike force moving to secure the plateau. That meant a skirmish would determine who would hold this valuable piece of real estate, and skirmishing was what a Shade did best. All that needed getting done was eliminating these fools, and he'd be done.

He signaled to his allies - two Shades, like himself - to lay low as they approached the plateau's apex. Seeing the smoke rise over the distance, he presumed the battle had started - and considering the fact the Queen's camp was closer to this position then their own base of operations, it was likely the enemy mages had already arrived. Now was the time for stealth and discretion, to eliminate them one by one with ruthless precision. He slid through the forest, his footsteps so light he not even the slightest sound could be heard from him. Seeing a small group of mages near the plateau's edge gather and speaking to each other in a low whisper, he surmised their targets had been located. He readied his weapon, a dagger built into the arm of his Armor, and readied to strike...

Wait.

Greytongue froze on the spot. He bolted behind a tree as one of the enemy mages whipped their head around, gazing straight at where Greytongue had just stood. He could feel his heart beat hard in his chest, confusion beginning to cloud his thoughts. How had the mage detected him? He had approached with the utmost silence - in his ten years of espionage, nobody had ever seen through one of his ambushes. Chancing a brief look at his quarry, managed to see the helm of his Armor before it vanished into the undergrowth - a fearsome visage of a wolf adorned its front.

'Outriders.' Greytongue silently cursed his arrogance - he'd thought the Queen would send heavy hitters like Chevaliers to secure the plateau, not a skirmisher like himself. His fears were confirmed further when he saw the others disappear into the brush, likely Shades themselves. 'This job just got a bit more... interesting.

With a silent leap, he bounded back into the forest. Time for a game of cat and mouse, it would seem...

"Direct hit, yeah!"

Ambrose was almost jumping for joy inside his armour as the rain of fire came down upon their hated enemy and scored several hits across the Chevalier's suit. The man was sent reeling under the impact of the explosions, stumbling about as arrow after arrow struck with concussive force. As the last blow landed the Chevalier was tossed from his feet, coming crashing down on the trebuchets Alastor had wanted to capture. The young mage flinched away as the armour impacted with their targets, already knowing he was in trouble with his partner. Slowly the boy tore his attention away from the downed enemy to address Alastor, assuming their foe had either been disabled or killed from the lack of movement.

"Sorry Sir. I guess I-"

Ambrose was let speechless at the sight of his partner having been launched into a now splintering tree. The young man rushed over as quickly as he could, Trixie waddling towards their downed compatriot with an uncanny fervour. It was almost comical watching the shambling mound of scrap shuffle towards Joachim as quickly as it could manage - if it wasn't for that fact they could die at any moment. As the duo reached their intended destination, Trixiereached out with a single hand and helped her ally back onto his feet.

"Sorry 'bout that, Sir," Ambrose apologized again, sounding downtrodden by the turn in events. "Guess I need to pay more attention..."

It was just then that the young mage took his words to heart. Then again, it wasn't difficult to sense the tremors that were emanating from the enemy armour that launched itself into the sky. Ambrose took no pause in putting himself in front of Alastor and Joachim, making himself as big as possible with Trixie's arms wide open to give his ally something to shield him while he recovered. Almost immediately after his stance was taken, braces rocketed out of his legs to keep the armour steady. At that same moment the two thirty-two pound cannons began to inch their way up into a locked position between the shoulder and neck. If the Chevalier wanted to finish off Alastor he'd need to pass through both Trixie and her barrage.

"Elevation sixty-two degrees, orientation one hundred ninety-six degree..." Ambrose muttered to himself, making the necessarily calculations to aim his shot.

All barrels were bearing down upon their assailant, the youth waiting for the absolute last moment to fire. He could feel the cold sweat dripping down his forehead as the tension mounted, every second passing as if it were an eon. The enemy armour was continuously swaying back and forth in the wind, making tiny movements to shift himself ever so slightly as he dived towards his prey. It was of little use against a Sheriff like Ambrose, keeping his bead with dexterous movements of his fingers to adjust the targeting solution with astounding accuracy. He knew there was no way he could avoid a target barreling towards him and if Alastor was any indication blocking was of little use. Ambrose simply played the gamble, aiming his large caliber weapons at the shoulders and upper torso in hopes to rip off the target's arms. It wouldn't be comfortable but a tumbling armour was much easier to withstand than one with magically enchanted power fists. It was all a matter of timing and as the moment drew near the magus could feel the tension reach its crescendo.

"Alright Trixie," he cried out, "all weapons fire!"

Two resounding cracks from the thirty-twos led the barrage of concentrated fire. A screen of arrows followed instantly afterwards to pepper the assaulting suit with more explosions after the cannons did their work. The armour couldn't have been more than thirty feet in front of Ambrose and Trixie before he loosed his fusillade. The mage hadn't even taken time to witness the results, closing his eyes and bracing for the imminent impact of an out-of-control giant hurtling through the sky.

Caspian continued stalking the undergrowth, then stopped for a moment.

This forest was a perfect place for ambushes, both for the enemy and for him. No doubt they would want to play at the same game. The rush of animals from before indicated that the enemy was here. Fellow Shades, no doubt about it. And now the metal face of a wolf could be seen through the branches. Time to put a little counter espionage into action. Time to play a little hide and seek. If that was a Shade, then he deserved to die for revealing himself so far from his target. Or even for revealing himself at all.

The Shade must have realized his mistake and disappeared in the bush again. He wished to play a game of cat and mouse? How boring. Caspian had been waiting all this time to be ambushed, and strike the ambusher in return in a mean counter. At least that approach was somewhat interesting. He whispered a chant to aid his own camouflage. The forest would do the rest with its myriad of branches and leaves. Break up his profile. He sighed, it was too cramped for a direct charge...

Still, whether he liked it or not, the game was on. And Caspian ensured that he was ready.

All Alastor saw was a flash of red light before he was sent sprawling across the battlefield, his flight only being intercepting by a thankfully sturdy oak. After his brief encounter with the Chevalier, he awoke amidst the splintered remains of the previous tree. Joachim's breastplate visibly dented, and his own head beating like a drum, Alastor gathered his senses and rose to his feet with a heavy sigh, as his fellow Sheriff came running to his aid.

The young Ambrose offered his hand to the weary nobleman, to which he graciously declined, preferring to brush of the fragments of wood from his Armour. He picked up his flail from the ground beside him, before retracting the weapon's chain back into it's mace form, feeling it's familiar heft back in his Armour's hand.

"Sorry 'bout that, Sir...Guess I need to pay more attention..."

Alastor placed a reassuring hand on Trixie's shoulder, dismissing the boy's worries.

"Do not doubt yourself so much my boy, have faith in your abilities, and your faith will be rewar-"

His words of comfort were interrupted as he heard the thunderous explosion from across the field of battle, the Chevalier coming crashing towards them. Alastor dug Joachim's feet into the ground, his morningstar gripped firmly in anticipation of the oncoming mass of metal, ready to smash the mage to kingdom come.

Alastor was not quick enough however, as his companion was the first to notice the threat and to prepare a retaliation. Ausoman intervened in order to protect his companion, stepping between him and the flying Armour and lining up his artillery, determined to shoot the enemy out of the sky.

"Alright Trixie, all weapons fire!"

The young mage let loose his barrage, the two cannons firing off their loads before letting loose a swarm of comburant arrows.

Overzealous fool...

The enemy had closed the gap more quickly than anticipated, and now Ambrose's payload threatened to send the Armour crashing directly on top of them, that is if everything didn't just end up blowing up in their faces.

Alastor was quick to act, letting loose his flail's chain in an instant before sweeping the weapon horizontally, causing it to wrap around the stalwart Trixie. Rambert directed a large amount of his magical energy towards his Armour's legs, before directing Joachim to leap backwards with all his might, carrying his fellow Sheriff with him despite his protest.

The duo launched a good 20 feet backwards, with Ambrose coming crashing down to land directly on top of Joachim as the made landfall, pinning down Alastor and blocking his view of the results of the young mage's bombardment.

 

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