Horizon Walkers (Game Thread) Dead

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Well Serragish had a much more elaborate escape plan but I guess throwing a lion at a magical barrier and melting people proved effective if not as elegant as she would have liked.

Serragish pulls out her machete, shame about her plan. It was time to run, well it would have been, almost, but no she couldn't.

Something was happening to the beast, energy thick in the air lavender scents out of sync with emerald hues. Diagnosis overruled danger in her mind as she ran towards the lion, it was further away than she realised but she could still make the sprint. As she runs she throws the blade aside and leaps just needs to touch the head. About half way through her arc she was struck with the fact this was a dumb idea and pleasantly surprised she'd not been swatted out of the air already.

Further astounding her she actually managed to hang onto the mane, the mental picture was even weirder as she probed the mind of the beast what the hell was this? Hardly hanging on.

"Dalrel! Burn the edges of the tear, where it bleeds, it might widen the gap or at least make it safe for us to pass through,"
Dalrel ran at the tear and had fire streaming at the barrier before he even realised what he had agreed to do.
He remembers the blinded lion create this tear, before running through it, but Dalrel was less concerned with that, and more concerned by a potential attack from behind.
''I doubt the arena guards will just stand by while we escape'' he yelled towards anyone and everyone, still blazing a torrent of flame at the tear, with little progress to show for it.

Kyras watched as the barrier began to bleed and the ground began to shake.
"What in the hells."
He heard one of them yell to the fire thrower to burn it. One of them seemed to think it was diseased.

Kyras sheathed Maiar and moved to beside the fire thrower, Dalrel.
"I doubt the arena guards will just stand by while we escape."
Kyras began streaming his own flames at the opposite ends of the tear in an attempt to speed up the process.
"They're probably more concerned with stabilizing their barrier than chaining us right now."

Des looked with a mix of sadness and relief as the large lion attacked what seemed to have been an invisible barrier around the area. While he certainly wanted to get out of there, the sight of mortals being killed and harmed by what looked like blood was sad. However, he followed the others, carrying the girl as he did, taking care of that he was careful enough to not do her any harm. The others decided to burn the parts of the barrier that was bleeding, and then discussed whether or not the guards would try to take them.

"Does that really matter now?" he asked, confused. Wouldn't it be better to worry about that after they had gotten out, when they could still use the panic of the running mortals to their advantage? He looked behind him, at the people who wasn't there yet.

"We should hurry!" Des then continued, voice raised so that everyone inside could hear him. "If we're lucky, we'll get out quickly and without anymore fighting! Be careful when walking though, the blood will harm you!" Des waited for Alex and the rest in front of him to continue walking, reassuring the mortal in his arms quietly, telling her he wouldn't leave her behind, and that they were soon out of there. Safe.

I hope so, at least.

She hadn't expected to throw the beast that far, still the effect was agreeable, they had a way out. She dropped back to all fours and waited for the others to make it safer to pass through, as the barrier fragments seemed to be harmful, though the fact the people in crowd where the ones being harmed, not just by the barrier, but the lion as well made her smirk "Not So Amusing Now Is It?!" she roared at the wounded in the crowd, and in her own way, encouraging the lion to continue.

The lion's mind wasn't what she expected, she'd not planned to crash a party already in progress and felt awkward that there were other people there.

She jumped back, the fall was enough to stagger her but she was tougher than letting it stop her. She saw other's trying to burn through the barrier, looked to be working but there was a whole hell of a mess outside. But better than captivity though, she made for it the lion mystery would have to wait. She ran for the walls, and when close slowed to pick her way round the fire and seemingly acidic field. A close call or two damaged her coat but she made it through

Outside was messy crowds had run over a few of their own and lay street strewed there were already people coming to help but the overall atmosphere was chaotic and messy. No one noticed a lone stranger in the chaos even if her appearance was slightly unusual as she tried to work her way into the throngs of people running like headless chickens. Almost no one I should say.

"Ms." A merchant, looks rich old too and senile judging by how he appeared oblivious to the surrounding chaos. He held a
hand out. "You look like the sort of person to appreciate a bargain."

Seriously now was hardly the time "Can't you see what's going on? You need to get out of here."
"No no no you have to see what I've got to sell you. You would regret missing these deals your whole life."

Looking at him again she saw the sort of thing he was selling, mostly clothes finely made, he'd need to have been rich get stock like this. So, old man some scaring and an odd war wound radiated out to her from beneath his tunic.

So chances are he's a retired solider, how else would someone dense as he have made money? "Sir just shut up would you." She tried to moderate her tone not wanting to draw attention, a brief glance to the surroundings revealed that they were unnoticed.

Hopefully the other's will be here soon. It was time to go, stepping away it was then he placed a hand on her shoulder. She whipped round her hand colliding with his face sending a satisfying spattering of scarlet out as his nose broke.

There was a crack (probably bones) and a distinctly non bone clattering as a shimmering something fell to the floor. With a single smooth motion Serragish sweeps it from the floor and into her coat.

"Let me fix that for you." Her tone has changed to a kinder one and she reaches out and touches the nose of the old man, there a disquieting click. The man hadn't spoken for a while and when he does his speech is slow the former exuberance gone as he whispers. "Ms It would be best if you came back to see some stock."

"Yes I think it would."

The shop had an open front under a canopy aside from the shining silks there was various shiny tat, pottery in a lot of different shapes and other trinkets. It was empty for now, most people weren't in the mood for shopping. There was a darkened arch at the back leading into a small enclosed room by way of a short shady flight of steps light switched from solar to the flames of a few small torches. The only thing illuminated was an ornate full body suite of armour lying on a marble alter.

"Yours?"

"Yes, but my days of service feel like another life time now."

"Why defect?"

"I didn't, I'm still serving my empire they just wouldn't see it that way."

"I don't think we would either."

"No."

"Any reason for showing me the armour."

"I need you to smuggle something for me?"

"Looks heavy, how do you expect me to carry it?"

"That won't be a problem." His knowing smile annoyed her, like a joke she wasn't in on.

"The others I've met up with could be here any minuet, keep it need to know."

"Understood"

She could almost feel the other's coming up behind her, she was sure she'd have been followed.

"Damn," he swore, seeing the effect of the flames on the barrier, they stopped the bleeding but did no further harm to it. That means only the lion can hurt it, guess I'll have to try and steer it back to it. He darted forward out through the hole and into the stands, motioning for the pyromancers to follow him.

"Not So Amusing Now Is It?!"

He heard the Ranglie roar, he frowned finding such vindictiveness distasteful. But if it was seeking vengeance for being forced to fight, and if the arena and its barrier were truly influencing the crowds as he suspected, then perhaps he could motivate it to help him further. It was a safer idea than trying to appeal to the cloaked figure, he couldn't be certain what motives it had or how much control of the lion it possessed.

"These people may not be to blame for this!" he yelled, mostly towards the Ranglie but loud enough for others to hear "The barrier itself may be affecting their minds, making them seek such blood sport, if we set the lion on it though we may be able to destroy it!"

His usual smile had faded, and he considered his options quickly. He doubted any of his weapons could draw the lion's attention, though perhaps the others fire could and the Ranglie had proven itself strong enough to throw the beast, in spite of its earlier protests regarding holding it. The cloaked figure itself might even heed his words, though he couldn't be sure. If no one listens I will be forced to flee for now, he thought regretfully leave this world and its people to deal with it themselves. If it was influencing them though then they might already be lost, but his pursuit of the Tall Man was paramount, and he had learned long ago the impossibility of saving everyone.

"These people may not be to blame for this! The barrier itself may be affecting their minds, making them seek such blood sport, if we set the lion on it though we may be able to destroy it!"

Kyras walked through the barrier while keeping his flames on it and yelled at the man.

"It's not the barrier! Their whole empire is like this! They're monsters! If they die they've earned it with their sins!"

Kyras stopped burning the barrier as he thought he saw the rest of the others escape. One of the women ran into a shop, so he followed her in from a distance assuming she knew something he didn't. Silk, pots, clothes, jewels. He realized she must have went into the back room as there was hushed talking. He took a look around as he assumed whatever was happening wasn't for him and saw a ruby bird shaped necklace he could swear was from his tribe. He pocketed it quickly out of a combination of homesickness, anger, and shame.

He began walking back and forth in the tent, watching for guards.

The mortals had started leaving the coliseum, which was good. He followed them, and was soon enough behind the barrier. What was not good, was that they sounded like they were bickering, some blaming the people who had watched, and some not. Des sighed, this wasn't the time or place to do that.

"We should just leave," Des said, though he wasn't going to argue about it. As much as he wanted to help the mortals, as soon as he had crossed the barrier, they were free to do what they wanted. It was their choice. Besides, he didn't think either was correct, he certainly didn't want to harm anyone, but would destroying the barrier really help? How had Alex even known that?

I can't really see anything off about it.

Des looked from one part of the group to the other, then tilted his head.

"What could we even do about it? Or about all these people, what can we really do? Wouldn't it really be better if we just left? Else we could get hurt, or even captured again." He noticed that Serragish had gone ahead, and chose to follow her, finding her talking to someone in front of a shop, of all things. The ice-user in his arms was getting a bit heavier, moving a little more.

"What are you doing, Serragish?" Des asked, confused. He then looked at the girl in his arms, and muttered to her. "Are you okay? Do you want to be let down now?" He spoke friendly and caring to both of them, charmingly and clearly not paying much attention to what was going on around him.

"What are you doing, Serragish?

She knew they'd be there, eventually.

"What I'm doing is securing us a way out. Unless you have a better plan our best chance is to listen to this man, don't worry he's not as crazy as he looks. He's agreed to get us off world if we transport some armour for him." Serragish stepped out to the front room shop, they weren't all here yet. "A few of us must still be trying to escape."

"I might be able to help with that." Though old the man hobbled behind Serragish was enough pace to remain part of the conversation. "Here boy." He turns to the back room and out comes the armour, walking seemingly of its own accord in better light the suit is a mix of metal and jade. The heavy armour moves ponderously, as it does so there's a slow clicking sound.
"That's imperial quality and should be enough to disguise flettrox as me, that'll be enough to get you where you need. But you're welcome to go back and help friends, the siege can wait after all."

He switched attention to Kyras seeing him inspecting some merchandise. "You have a good eye, funny story about this piece, and that fascinating history is complementary when you pay a reasonable price."

Serragish turned to Des "So what are we doing with her? If she's in the same boat we are then she's not exactly got a future here. You taking her with us?"

After several more moments, Dalrel dropped his arms and joined the others on the other side of the barrier, as a torrent of people rushed out of the stadium above and around him, with a bit of thinking, he came across a few familiar faces inside a tent with an old man.
After making a noise between a grunt and a cough to announce his presence, Dalrel ignored the old man and asked the others present, ''So what is the plan? Personally I'd like to find the nearest Horizon before we're found by the authorities.''
Dalrel wasn't one to be wary of other cultures, but when one willingly drags strangers off to be part of a bloodsport, that is when his self-preservation instinct kicks in.

She made her way past the Lion, leaving it to its rampage as she followed the others out and to where they had gathered, a shop of some kind, though found a spot to conceal her self for the time being since she stuck out to much. There was talk of the armor and something called a 'horizon'. "My aim from here is going home, if this horizon thing will do this, I'm all for it." she said, adding her own thoughts on it.

Truthfully she was tired of the humans, all of them. Her contact with them had not been a pleasant one and even these ones who'd helped her, only did so after she'd agreed to help them.

"You have a good eye, funny story about this piece, and that fascinating history is complementary when you pay a reasonable price."

Damn, he had been caught, he could only guess how, maybe he's a wizard considering the walking armour.

He made his tone as stern as possible and spoke
"What do you consider a reasonable price for someone who's been forced into slavery and blood sport for about four years?"
He pulled a bag of coins from his pack and set it down on a nearby table.
"I'll pay you after you tell me where you found it."

"So what is the plan? Personally I'd like to find the nearest Horizon before we're found by the authorities."
"Make a run for the horizon, using the armour as cover I think."
"My aim from here is going home, if this horizon thing will do this, I'm all for it."
"It's a portal, it should get us away from these people." he had a brief thought about how he was captured "That's all that really matters here."

The Lion-Id tore up everything in its wake, revelling in the carnage.

The imperial civilians met its maw and their flesh was torn to sheds, the sharp tang of blood reaching the Lion's tongue. Its teeth rended bones and bits alike to ribbons - who cared about half-heard shouts and strange people touching your mind when you could send a hundred men to their graves with a single swipe? It was intoxicating, the bloodlust, the bloodshed... Id's mind was assaulted by the Lion's sensory input. Endorphins leaked across the two minds and soon enough Id and the Lion were drunk with blood and rage. Even the blurry vision from the half-formed eye added quite a bit to the experience as both entities saw smaller ones panic and run away only to be cut down by a swipe of a paw. Yes, this was why Id was a Walker, to hijack other beings and make other experiences its own - a morbid sort of collector. But let not it be said that Id was unkind to its toys.

After all, it was giving its current one exactly what it wanted, even as Id calmly sunk back down into a cold, machine-like, mentality.

Now where was that Horizon?

Vaerys hurried outside the stadium after the lion decided not to eat him for once. Outside, he was greeted to a lovely sight of the lion attacking the citizens of the city. Vaerys couldn't help but chuckle as he scanned the area. The streets were packed with people retreating from the arena and often, they were just trampling over each other to get out. The packed streets meant that the local soldiers would have a hard time getting to them but either way, he had to get away fast and towards the next horizon which drew memories of initial moments in this world. Sure, he woke up in a cell but he could smell the decadence through the cracks of the wall. This city was nothing but luxury and pleasure with this arena being its largest testament to that or so far he'd seen. Now that he was outside of the arena, he breathed in the air deeply only smelling the burning wall behind them.

After a few moments, he spotted the gladiators that helped him back in the arena. They were gathered around a shop nearby. He wondered why they were doing such a thing when they should be trying to get out as fast as possible. He strode over to them, walking briskly as he was anxious.

"Oi! Thanks for the help back there. Any of you know the way outta this pisspot?" Vaerys grunted as he finally got a good look at the group. Varied was the first thing that came to his mind.

Alex watched, disappointed but not surprised as the others ran off to the outside. The lion itself had left anyways, removing much chance of him trying to persuade the cloaked thing possessing it or to try to steer it into the barrier himself. He shook his head sadly and muttered a short prayer to the healers before heading outside after the others.

"You know," he said as he joined them "If we leave the barrier then they will simply take others and force them to fight as they did to us, even if it isn't controlling them, and if it is then you have simply killed the slaves of the one to blame for our plight. But if I cannot convince you then I will have to seek an exit to this place, as I suspect you are."

They seemed to have gathered in a shop, why the shopkeeper hadn't fled as any sensible person would have he didn't know, but he had no need of further supplies nor any real money to spend on merchandise. The merchant didn't even seem phased by the screams, blood, fleeing, or the fact that he was speaking with escaped arena combatants. At least the others hadn't decided to blame and slaughter him as well he supposed.

"What do you consider a reasonable price for someone who's been forced into slavery and blood sport for about four years?"

"Take it. As for where I go them the army takes a lot from the worlds they conquer, most ends up destroyed so I liberate what I can to preserve it and sell it on, consider it my way of keeping the culture alive. If I could return them I would so it's yours.

Now if this is everyone I might as well go over the plan again. I used to be part of the army and they gave me this armour." The shop keeper points to the walking armour. "There a portal nearby that's not used any more. The armour will be able to walk you past the guards, and into the portal, from then on out I don't know what you're going to face.

I understand if you're tentative to trust me but I know these people and it's not safe to stay. If any of you are backing out now's the time to say but you've seen how they handle people here. We're working on more liberation, no offence but you aren't the most well equip to help, we fix things from within.

We can set out as soon as whoever is coming is ready."

He hadn't expected this.

"Thankyou, I thought you had- I assumed you were... Nevermind. Thankyou."

He moved his coins back into his pack and raised his hood again.

"I trust you, I'm ready."

Out in the streets, the chaos had begun to settle down. Whether this was the result of the Lion and other escapees moving on or being captured or killed was unclear; only the lack of audible signs of trouble. The Vigiles Urbani were out in force, cleaning up the mess and hunting those who escaped late into the night.

As night fell however, they had their chance to move. Being led by the merchant/retired soldier, the group slowly made their way out of Liem and into the countryside. The escape was difficult; evading capture only by the barest of margins and losing their snow elf to Liem pikes in the process. Eventually however, they were out of the city.

Several more hours brought them to the "Unused Portal", though unused was hardly the best term. The portal itself was in a deep pit and pushed on its side to slow anyone trying to make their way through. Around the top of the pit dozens of ballistae were pointed down, maned at all hours of the day. For about a mile around the pit, tents and permanent military building has been set up as a training ground for new recruits to Liem's 15th Legion.

Now came the fun part.

We can set out as soon as whoever is coming is ready."

Seeing as there was no reason for Des to wait around, he had quickly agreed, and followed the mortals, setting the female ice-user down as he did, and letting her move on her own. Of course, even then they still couldn't move ahead, as some of the mortals were busy chatting.

Feeling that he was in need of more vitae, he had asked her, while they were waiting for the rest to get ready, if he could have some of hers, explaining it quickly and in terms that would appease a mortal. Whether or not it was fondness, kindness or just her sense of honor, she had allowed it, making a small cut on her wrist so that he could access her veins. A short moment later, he'd taken what he could without harming her, he'd be safe for a while now even if he did use his ability to paralyze more.

Then, they escaped, though the woman didn't make it out. Des felt a little regret, even wondering if it could be because of his influence, but it was probably not so, it was nothing but bad luck. After several hours, they were close to the Horizon, it could be seen as a deep pit, surrounded by ballistae and training grounds. However, even so, it wasn't difficult for them to get in, and Des was the first to climb down, and through the portal.

Eventually everyone has made it through the merchant and armour doing their part. The merchant leaves but with a crash the armour follows them into the pit.

Heat hits like a brick as arid air rushes into every pore, and that's before the light gets in your eyes. The star is a brilliant blue on bone white, staring straight at the sandstone arch they'd stumbled through. Its burning glare leaves not a single shadow, as it hangs like an overlord dominating the sky, the size of a bowling ball and just above the horizon. God only knows how long it is before anything else comes into focus.

Serragish is the first to stand up straight and step forward turning to take it all in apparently unfazed by the sudden change in environment. As eyes adjust as best they can to the light other details begin to peek through the heat haze.

The party are standing on a raised circular stone platform with an arch right across the diameter. Standing on it for too long is painful so it's best to keep shifting your feet. The platform is a couple meters off the surface with stairs radiating out and leading down to the ground.

The ground is granular like sand, but bright orange and even finer, cooler than the stone if only slightly.

It's then that Serragish starts to glow, the slight silver freckles spattering her skin that are usually scarcely noticeable come alive. In the solar halo they take on a shimmering range of shades from across the spectrum. She reaches into her coat unhooking a hidden clip as her outfits loosens, the lab coat billows becoming a more trailing robe.

She flicks a formerly hidden hood up even she appreciates a little shade, briefly hindsight tells her it would have been a good idea to pick up slacker fitting and more breathable clothes from the shop they'd just been in for the other , only moments ago but already a world away.

Then her mind flashes back to the other side of the portal, no way were they climbing out of that pit and certainly not without the ballista having something to say about it.

The scene has an eerie beauty to it all if you ignore the intense discomfort and how empty the pale pink sky is apart from the star. She turns back to the rest of the party, "Welcome to the gouged grounds?" She smiles slightly, turning again to take more of the scene in.

A hand reaches down her top pulling out a small piece of gold and kissing it lightly before slipping it back before anyone sees.

She takes out a notebook, she'd been handed it by the old man just before they left, small leather bound thing only about A 5 size, like one she used to have but considerably older.

"We're almost there." She points ahead of them "Wait when since when was that there?"

Following her arm points to a camp, not far away a network of tents and mlike someone had picked a terrible place to throw a wedding reception. But if you look just beyond It you'll see the earth torn in two, a pitch-black gulf in the ground with the sheerest edges. There no seeing to the bottom and the void stretches perpendicular to line of sight from horizon to horizon.

There looks to be a stone structure part way crossing the trench, like who ever wanted to build a bridge had to give it up halfway.

Further in the distance, there's something but what is hard to tell. The bones of some colossal beast perhaps resting just on another horizon too far to see anything but a black outline. The heat haze causes it to flicker slightly, that or the bones aren't as dead as they look.

Just in front of them is another stone pillar, the same height as the one the group is standing on but only has room for one. That one is a figure veiled entirely in black, no face or features visible just a vaguely sitting shaped humanoid there's a low chanting that can be heard coming from them but it's virtually the only sound around. The figure hasn't reacted to the strangers, so no way to know if they've even been noticed.

From the tend 100 meters of so from them another figure veiled entirely in black arms waving frantically in the air. "GET OVER HERE NOW IT'S NOT SAFE OUT THERE!" The Voice is male and clearly concerned and ushering them into the tent.

The armour pushes its way through the other party members and walks forward there's the usual strange clicking from within and a hammering as it walks down the stairs into the sand. It handles the terrain well not getting too caught up in the sand and somehow unaffected by the heat.

The armour is let in through the nearest entrance to the tent but not before the robbed man takes time to bow. Through all this the one of the pillar still hasn't reacted.

A fresh Horizon, the most beautiful sight that he had ever seen.
He began to weep at this new freedom of his, in all honesty he had began to think that it wasn't going to happen for him.
All the failed attempts, beatings, and killings. Much longer and he probably would have given up.

But he was free, and in a desert, his favourite type of land, the type of land he was born and raised in.
He loosened his armour a bit and checked his cloak, it had been awhile since he had lived in one and it might take some time to get used to it again.

Pink sky, orange sand, constant heat. This was nice.
The others began to move, should he follow them?
They escaped at the same time, the armour and the woman led them out.
It couldn't hurt, he didn't know where he was.

"GET OVER HERE NOW IT'S NOT SAFE OUT THERE!"
Locals usually know their lands better that he did, so that's not good.
He rushed to follow the armour to the tents.

Alex followed the others, he wasn't reassured much by the man's promises to handle the problem but there wasn't much else he could do. They reached the horizon, losing the snow elf along the way, gaining the cloaked figure who he resolved to keep an eye on, and quickly made it through into a new world. The first two things he noticed were the heat and brightness, his black clothes absorbed the light all too well and as he squinted and blinked to make his eyes adjust he noticed the odd shade of the sun. Blue. Well you see something new every day.

Serragish unclipped something her clothing becoming a robe, and her skin beginning to sparkle oddly. From her words and demeanor of familiarity it was clear this was her home. She seemed quite pleased to be back, and Alex had to admit it was already nicer looking than the arena though he didn't much care for the heat. The scenery was interesting, a large chasm giving a clue how the place got its name, large bones giving an idea of what wildlife to keep an eye out for, and a tent city that Serragish seemed confused by.

"Wait when since when was that there?"

"Tents are hardly permanent structures, so likely not long," he remarked "But then I've never been here before."

"GET OVER HERE NOW IT'S NOT SAFE OUT THERE!"

A figure yelled from out of the tent, Alex wondered if his warning had anything to do with the similarly dressed man sitting on a column and chanting. Could also be a trap, only one way to find out though.

"When is it ever?" he said with a mock shrug, he smiled "I don't know about the rest of you but I could go for some shade."

With that he moved after the armor, walking at a steady pace and keeping his eyes and ears open for signs of trouble.

The inside of the tent felt instantly cooler it's too dark to see much especially after being outside, the torch sitting on a table helps shed some light on the situation. Removing robes reveal the man to be Mediterranean looking, tanned and fairly tall under his black body covering cloak was a simple tunic, with an all too familiar insignia.

He sighed

"You know I'd given up on help coming, you're the first troops we've had through in ages." He lets himself smile a little. "Glory to the empire" that actually sounded genuine. He bows again to the suit of armour. "Sir you'll want to speak with our senior officer, Pragma will escort you." A smaller person previously concealed by shadows comes forward "Yes sir. This way."

Pragma walks away with the armour in toe. Leaving just the party and the man who brought them into the tent.

"You've probably got a lot of questions, chances are the higher ups failed to mention exactly what you were in for. The empire appreciates you're being here. You're lucky in one respect at least, it's meal time and the foods not been better in a long time. If you'll come through with me we're just setting up."

The dining area was a bit brighter, still nothing comparing to the outside and the claustrophobia was palpable. They were now in a larger tent, there was enough room to stand comfortably but only just. Then there was a long table, seats were mostly equal apart from the larger one at the end which wasn't occupied at the moment.

In fact plenty of the seats were clear though others were occupied by quite a range of races all wearing the same uniform though, the Liemian crests are scruffy but less so than the rest of the uniforms. All in all 13 or so people are sitting around. The spread is actually pretty good, a mishmash of meats, none recognisable as anything from other floors but it's their and it looks fresh there's not even the sickly salty taste most rations have.

"Dig in and don't be shy, these people are in the same boat you are, and I'll be happy to answer any questions you have. I assume you've seen our little garden gnome." He pauses for a second catching himself "don't tell her I said that, she looks all tranquil and meditative but when she's not chanting she knows how to shout."

Dalrel hazily remembers the past hour or so, something about armour, and the nearest Horizon being guarded. Regardless, he didn't really care about an old man's troubles, and Dalrel's learned how to hear people, but not necessarily listen.
What he did know while his brain switched back on was that the Horizon led to a world of searing heat, and as the group shuffled into welcoming shade, he made his way into a surprisingly civilized dining area.
Savouring the relative peace, he sat on the nearest chair, slouching.
''Hello everyone, my name is Dalrel, pleasure to meet you all. Who's next?'' He asked to anyone and everyone, hoping for some sort of reaction. As he scanned the room, he noticed the unconscious Snow Elf was no longer with them, probably for the best, he thought, she'd be baking in this heat.

She simply walked along with the others, apparently they planned to fool the people there into letting them pass by dressing like they do, she did not understand this, but went along with it, by remaining silent as well as beating back the urge to bury a claw in the head of one of the humans that tried to lead her away, to where other beasts where kept.

The pen she was put in, was a marked improvement over the cell she was in, which she found amusing, so, for the time being she simply lay down and wait for 'the plan' to get going.

Kes barely noticed the heat; there was little in the way of environment the world could throw against her or her people. That said, she had to admit the world had a certain beauty to it. Though it lacked the same abundance of life that her homeworld had, the world felt like home; wild, untamed, brutal, and deadly. She liked it for that.

After several minutes, the group drew the attention of a robbed man. After being waved in to a tent. Evidently, the man thought they were Liemian soldiers. Kes remained quiet though inside she wanted to tear the man to pieces for what Liem had done to her.

Eventually, he lead them to an eating area of sorts. "Dig in and don't be shy, these people are in the same boat you are, and I'll be happy to answer any questions you have. I assume you've seen our little garden gnome." Despite the words, Kes remained distrustful of the man; did he really think they were soldiers? She waited until she saw others partake of the food before she took her own portion.

Hello everyone, my name is Dalrel, pleasure to meet you all. Who's next?' one of the former gladiators said. Never one for words, she said one word - "Kes" - than continued to eat.

Vearys was weary and a bit tired of all the travelling but when they reached the camp, his senses told him to stay alert. The place looked dangerous with all the battlements. One wrong move and the whole place could erupt with activity. Vaerys didn't mind at all since it would certainly wake him up and get his blood flowing. He saw the Horizon as well but it was well guarded. He followed the group inside the tent axe at the ready but there was no need to use it just yet. Just holding his axe made him feel safe and confident. There was food that was being served and that was a good thing. Vaerys carefully took a slice of bread, sniffed it then ate it. The bread certainly didn't taste like poison but what would he know anyway?

"Hello everyone, my name is Dalrel, pleasure to meet you all. Who's next?" One of the ex-gladiators said. He eyed the man up and down before answering.

"You can call me Vaerys or dwarf... doesn't mind me much. I've been called worse." He grumbled.

Liemian's, of course there had to be more Liemian's. His eyes started to glow a bit as he looked at them, anger boiling under his skin.

"You know I'd given up on help coming, you're the first troops we've had through in ages. Glory to the empire. Sir you'll want to speak with our senior officer, Pragma will escort you. Yes sir. This way."

Images flashed in his mind of him being captured again, here and now. He began to draw energy into himself.

"You've probably got a lot of questions, chances are the higher ups failed to mention exactly what you were in for. The empire appreciates you're being here. You're lucky in one respect at least, it's meal time and the foods not been better in a long time. If you'll come through with me we're just setting up."

He sat down with the group as Images flashed in his mind of him doing their work again.

"Dig in and don't be shy, these people are in the same boat you are, and I'll be happy to answer any questions you have. I assume you've seen our little garden gnome." He pauses for a second catching himself "don't tell her I said that, she looks all tranquil and meditative but when she's not chanting she knows how to shout."

Images flashed in his mind of being in their damned arenas again. He began to focus himself for what he was to do.

"Hello everyone, my name is Dalrel, pleasure to meet you all. Who's next?"

He stopped as he realized there were others in the room, he doubted he'd be able to stop them from burning to death.

"Kes"

Killing them would be wrong, for all he knew they were in there as long as he was.

"You can call me Vaerys or dwarf... doesn't mind me much. I've been called worse."

If they can manage restraint for now so could he.

"I'm Kyras."

He allowed the energies to flow back into the Ether and Earth around him, slowly and carefully so that it wouldn't take shape.
He watched as the others took food and carefully picked from the table, taking some pieces of fruit and slices of bread.

"Dig in and don't be shy,"

Alex smiled and sat down, quickly inspecting the food before beginning to eat and drink what was available. Mostly drink, he could tell from the heat that staying hydrated would be important here. They seemed to think they were reinforcements, something Alex was willing to play along with for now, though he wasn't sure he liked where it might lead.

"Hello everyone, my name is Dalrel, pleasure to meet you all. Who's next?"

One of the others started introductions, Alex swallowed what he had in his mouth and looked up to reply "Alexander Ginshell, Inquisitor of the church of the Healers," he said cheerfully, then paused for a moment before continuing "But please, call me Alex, I know your names already, or at least how you were announced."

The others seemed to be doing fairly well so far, though he couldn't help but notice how tense Kyras was. The glowing eyes certainly made it more obvious than it was with most people. He suspected it was the Lieman's around them that were making him so ready to strike, though these ones had done them no harm. Alex remembered the arena though, and doubted that mattered to Kyras. Yet another one to keep an eye on, wonderful.

For a while, people just ate and talked in the flickering flames that kept the meal just light enough. There was conversation in a range of languages and the food was indeed both good and plentiful. There was surprisingly fresh meat and just enough water and bread. It wasn't the fanciest food but pretty much everyone appreciated it. A few of the strangers tried to start up conversation with the traveling party; after all there no need to add animosity to this sort of environment. As the meal drew on some people even sang a little.

Serragish wasn't eating; she was sitting back not meeting anyone's eyes but listening.
Eventually the man who appeared to be in charge - or at least who had said the most to the party so far - got up and took some food away only to return after a few minutes he came back when the food now gone.

He then spoke.

"Excuse me everyone if I could have your attention. I know the commander isn't here at the moment but he's meeting with another commander from the empire. The man who brought these new recruits. Now since we've got new recruits and we've not had any in a while, I think I should catch everyone up on the situation."

He pulled out a map. It was mostly clear that the camp they were currently in (the only thing that resembles buildings at least) was in the centre but they'd have to squint a tad to make it out. There's the trench running from one edge of the map to the other and wider than the entire camp. The only other annotations are the words "broken bridge" with an arrow pointing to a lump on one side of the trench.

After a sigh the man continued "It's been calmer recently, but I'm sorry we can't let ourselves slip. Remember we all have people back home we're fighting for; some of us even have people here." He glances up to the exit again before coming back mentally. "Now the enemy is quiet, you did a good job last defense. Thanks to everyone here no one got eaten... well none of us ."

He looked up at the party specifically. "You could make a difference here. I won't pretend to know why you're here or what the empire has done to you. I'm not blind. But look at the people you're with; they're no less diverse or more deserving of this than you. We're here stopping god knows what from over running the empire. Not just for the emperors or Commanders and not just for the Liemainains but everyone else they've occupied or reached out to, every trade partner or person we've aided. This isn't just for them; it's everyone for everyone and we're the only ones who can solve it."

Serragish was breathing heavily, flinching every few seconds and catching herself before each outburst.

"I've seen these creatures attack and trust me..."

"IMPOSTER!" a voice bellowed out, coming from another part of the tent complex. The man ran outside to another side of the complex where the party hadn't yet been.

In the near blinding light of the star - that was now low in the sky, just sitting on the horizon like a silent ambivalent audience - was the armour standing there. They couldn't make out which way it was facing. "BRING ME TO HIM" the same shrill scream came again from just out of vision.

Shortly after, a chair with another black cloaked figure was pushed out. The chair had been modified with what looked like skis so it could move. The voice continued quieter but no less easy to ignore. "You though I wouldn't recognize him, even after all this time. Even with one eye I never forget a face. You disgust me. Men, let's throw this monster into the abyss where scum like him belong."

But before anyone worked up the courage to approach the suit it walked away; towards the edge. Looking down there was a featureless drop bottomed by a sort of mist that obscured the true bottom. "Wait" the same harsh voice from the tiny man in the chair called out. "I didn't... someone stop him" he said but too late. The armour walked over the edge. "No."
The chair turned with the midget still in it. The party could just make out the silver sliver of an old eye peering out. "What was that?" The question spat out venomously at who you guessed was the second in command.

"I'm sorry, I didn't know, I just thought it was another commander, Commander." he stammering a little and finding it difficult to respond. The one who had been so confident earlier now near speechless by someone in a chair half his height.
"And pragma said he was with other's who?"
"A small party sir."
"You know what to do."
"No wait."
"Is that defiance boy."
"Not exactly but well, whatever happened back there you don't know they were involved."
"And you don't know they weren't"
"Wait, I'll talk to them."
"And why should I allow that?"
"They've not hurt any of us, and anyone we execute is just one more dead body not fighting to defend our homeland sir."
"Very well, I'll speak to one. Tell them to pick a leader and the rest can fuck off and shut up until this is sorted. "

With that the old man was pushed away by the same nameless faceless troop who brought him out. The second in command wiped his forehead collapsing with a sigh. All that suddenly found confidence leaking out of him and into the air.

Back in the tent those who didn't run out and those that did look recombined. The makeshift room was abuzz with frantic conversation; the second in command slumped on the sand.

Serragish stuck back, staying out of sight. She picked up a little bread and drink and, when she thought no one was looking, pocketing it. She leaned over the map, memorizing what few details there were.

Dalrel witnessed the spectacle unfold as others ran bleary eyed into the sunlight. If Dalrel wasn't imagining if it was him at the bottom of that abyss, he would have ran with them.
Around the time he stopped with his dreaming he was on his feet. Adjacent him was Serragish, bent over some poorly drawn lines passing for a map, while those that didn't leave the room were all backed up against the walls.
The room was silent, until the new commander sauntered in, eyeing anyone daring to look him in the eye.
It was after several moments noisily making themselves known through the commander's exhasparated breathing that Dalrel approached him positively.
''....Anything you'd like to know?'' he asked. The group he joined were total strangers, and best he try and cement a position for himself if he's to have any hope of survival.
''Please, by all means, what do you need?'' he said, hoping not to come across as sarcastic.

Des followed the mortals as they walked through the strange, new horizon. He hadn't passed through a lot, so each one was different, a new experience. Part of him wondered if he should find a way home, and if all of this had been because of a rather silly and not well-thought action. However, he looked at the women in the group, and decided that he certainly had found what he was looking for, exotic women, all beautiful in their own way. He thought of the ice-user again, and felt mixed feelings, regret, of course, but there was also the vitae inside of him, delicious and energizing.

I'll just have to try to remember her.

How often had he thought something like that? He couldn't remember, he never could. His memory wasn't exceptional in any way, barely a good as a mortals, and most of his 400 years consisted of women, loving every single one of them, seducing them, sleeping with them... how could he ever hope to remember one of them more then the others? Deep in thought, he didn't say anything when they sat down, though his attention was more there when people started introducing themselves. He knew who most of the others was, and he was sure most of them knew his name, but still, he smiled.

"Hello, my name is Des, it's nice being able to greet each other without being pitted against hostile creatures." Just as he spoke, more people arrived, and started being... well. Mortal. Speaking of fighting and war. He tended to just shut out those noises, and so he did, besides, the others could just deal with it, he wasn't much for speaking to mortals who tried to make themselves better than other mortals. It seemed a little silly to him, was all. Des kept eating as the whole ordeal went on, and suddenly he found that a lot of people had gone outside, or left their seats. Was he supposed to do that?

The mortals will sort it out,

he shrugged, and spotted Serragish. "Hi," he smiled, warmly, as if there was no one else in the room. "Serragish, do you need help examining that?"

"....Anything you'd like to know? Please, by all means, what do you need?"

That made Des even more sure of the mortals were taking care of it.

She listened to the happenings from where they put her but did nothing for now, deciding it was best to just stay still and let the humans handle the situation, besides, even if she did try and 'help' she'd likely only make things worse by simply talking, so for now she lay down and closed her eyes, and kept a ear on the happenings around her case something needed a response from her.

Names flew around as the others ate and drank their full. A Leimian in the corner of the room also joined in with the feast, savouring each bite. Though, one might say that the person was enjoying the food a little too much. The glutton pushed aside feelings of dizziness, grogginess and fullness just to cramp more food in, like the Leimian hadn't eaten in decades. At least, until all of those lovely things were put away. The gormandizer was busy with the matter of picking teeth as the goings on when on and on. It was really quite droll. All that mattered was escape, anyway, and this charade was pretty demeaning. It would probably been more fun to stick a nose somewhere else or stay and watch and perhaps participate in the carnage near the arena.

And to top it all off, some lout was trying to play leader.

The Leimian sighed and stood up.

A speech was made, "My name is Tarquin - short for Tarquinius. And dear me, this 'Daldrel' doesn't seem to know anything."

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