Old September 3, 2011, 05:05 PM   #1 (permalink)

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Dagger [Neos Megalis] A Pact among Lions and Men (Private)

 
Timestamp: Early Tempris of Era XVIII in the Age of Heroes.
Before the Rising of the Sea Lords.

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Neo Megalis transformed when the Suns disappeared behind the watery horizons in the West. So much more now with Chaos unleashed and the less savory aspects of Secyclion bristled by the new, naive Thane's announcement. Something more ominous stirred, and Secyclion's scum and filth stirred with it. They thirsted for blood and vengeance. But more importantly, they hungered for entertainment.

The sea dogs were rodents, a plague, on dry land. A pirate was a killing machine on the high seas, loyal to a fault, and greedy as feth. But when returning to familiar ports, blood and booty was replaced by an insatiable appetite for sport and women. And so Secyclion's underbelly readily afforded these characters entertainment. During the darkenings, certain back ally arenas sprouted for the sole purpose of blood games. Competitors were usually bored pirates fighting for little more than a gold and bragging rights. The result was an instant culture within Pirate's Haven. Bookies and impromptu 'managers' arranged these fights and took a small cut from the winnings. Other times, brawls spontaneously broke out and the betting ensued.

Yet none of these back ally fighters was as legendary as an old goat of a soldier named Mirridon. Even the pirates tended to hesitate whenever he showed up for a duel with nothing more than his old bronze sword and domed shield. And those enterprising youths eager to prove themselves against the Famous One? They quickly lost a few teeth and added some scars as a reminder of their foolishness. Yet few knew that the Old Man's skill was little more than a myth perpetuated by the soldier himself. And when the suns reigned on their heavenly thrones again and the foul crowds of the darkening dispersed or collected by the guards, Mirridon crawled back into his hole of isolation.

Drink and age took its toll. Where once a proud frame of a career soldier stood was now a bent, broken body of a drunk who happened to be skilled with the Secyclion Style of swordplay. And in his darkest moments, some of the local tavern owners insist that the Famous One muttered his boy's name in his dreams. His only son, the one Mirridon could not save; the boy who spat on his honor and joined the Lords of the Sea for the promise of treasures and women.

Secrets :
NPC: Known simply as Mirridon.
Race: Human
Age: 65
History and Description:

A veteran of the conflicts. He is a born soldier: athletic, sharp, and impatient. In his old age, he has fallen to the drink and slumbers frequently in the taverns surrounding the local hot spots for street fighting. Once a renowned trainer for Secyclion's soldiers, he has since been dishonored by his only son who turned to piracy.

Since then, Mirridon has buried himself in gambling debts owed to various shady loan sharks throughout the Red Island. The only reason he remains alive is his rumored skill with the gladius. Mirridon perpetuates this myth by dueling the occasional riffraff for coin during times he is sober enough to carry his sword. Unfortunately, any money he ever makes in these 'performances' usually ends up in the form of ale or to feed his gambling addiction.

Skills:

Rustified Level 3 (Now Level 2) in Gladius & Shield (Secyclion style; Read: Achilles' style in Troy)
Level 2 Strategy & Tactics
Level 2 Secyclion History & Lore

 
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Old September 3, 2011, 05:22 PM   #2 (permalink)

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Chapter I: The Two Soldiers

The Governor of Eunesia arrived under the shroud of darkness.

It took Straylor a moment to contemplate just how angry his wife was going to be if she ever found out about this. With his Shield of Arcana reverting to a Staff and Arcana reacting strangely to the events following Aetheria's Downfall, the Swordmage was forced to direct his efforts into his sword and shield again. The Governor maintained his skill well, but his style has not differed since his training with Master Sanctus. The elder Kemite taught Straylor to develop agility to overcome his foes and augmented perception to discover their weaknesses. So far, the style of the Western Realms served him both as a swordsman and a mage. Adding the Imperial Spear style to his arsenal, Straylor discovered why the Legions used the pole arm as a primary weapon and the sword secondarily. Still, the Baron could not depart from his first love. The sword and shield just felt right in the hands of their master.

But that's where the problem lay.

His new shield in the style of an ancient Secyclionian design still felt foreign to him. And his new armor, while light and highly durable, still did not feel natural against his skin. He needed practice if he was going to hunt the dark gods themselves and repay Haya for her deceit and curse. A quiet flame burned within Straylor Felix Leonard as he unknowing embraced Clara in his brooding. That was nothing oddity that he was still coming to grips with. His Staff of Arcana no longer granted him access to Clarity. Meditation was required again, albeit minimal. It was another reason for him to take up the blade and shield. Arcana, it seemed, could no longer protect those he loved most any more than House Leonardes' treasuries could shield Elmaryia and his children from the trials ahead.

Donning the full set of armor, including greaves, cestus, and helm, the Lion of House Leonardes returned to his full height from his previous Animal Form: Sea Hawk. The transformation revealed the Baron's scars along the ridge of his nose, his forehead, cheeks, and lips. There were more hidden beneath the black wool focale around his neck and his linothorax. Strapped on his hips were the sheathed midnight magical blades of Leviathan and Avalerion, their black sapphire hilts gleaming in the moonlight. Strapped to his back was his reinforced bronze and metal shield. It was unique with two crescent gaps interrupting its circular, smooth dome shape.

In the stillness of the humid darkening, Straylor could hear ripples of music, laughter, and other foolish things against the breaking waves behind him. With easy stride, he entered the dark streets of Neo Megalis not knowing what the fates had in store for him.

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Old September 3, 2011, 07:31 PM   #3 (permalink)

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It didn't take long to find trouble.

Straylor knew the face of trouble from his patrols in Medonia as a guard and during his time as Chief Constable in Trysvale. Darkness promised to shroud evil deeds and acts of malice. And so Straylor followed the shadows into a little alley behind a makeshift pub near the water. It smelled of sweat and rum, two ingredients that nearly guaranteed a fight would break out. Shouts soon erupted as two men with quarrels soon bloomed into a crowd of laughing, jeering, and wickedness. A portly fellow followed by a mountain of an Arkamatan armed with a cutlass soon joined the crowd. This was the bookie, Straylor realized. And as soon as he took coin for bets, Straylor was sure.

The impromptu arena was about as wide as a small room with buildings on either side and clogged with the crowd. On cue, the two fighters -- lanky men with no real training or sense of sobriety -- scratched, punched, and tore at one another's garments for the entertainment of the crowd. All manner of scum soon joined the matches, accompanied by their own 'managers'. Some were clearly pirates by their garb and speech, others were locals with a terrible hobby.

Draped in a long dark blue cloak, Straylor approached 'arena' purposefully. Onlookers gawked, others cheered and called their bets. His armor and manner of dress seemed both impressive and hilarious to the crowd. But so far, no one recognized him with his scars and with his visage beneath his bronze helm.

Suddenly, a lanky shirtless fellow donning loose pantaloons and twin scimitars emerged from the other end side of the makeshift arena. He gave Straylor a mock salute and a gappy grin. His bookie was a stout Secyclid with an eye patch and a serious skin problem. The enormous fellow with the Arkamatan bodyguard elbowed Straylor gingerly.

"Chairete", he said gruffly. Upon closer inspection, Straylor noticed that the portly bookie had at least four chins. He donned loose robes more befitting an Arkamatan Prince. "I think we can make a lot of coin this darkening", he continued in silky tones. "80/20? A small cut for my services. And I know all the players here. See that man? He's Spider. Tricky. Very tricky. Those two blades, they are a distraction. He has knives."

The Governor nodded but said nothing.

"So 70/30? Right. Very good." The fat bookie's toad-like grin widened substantially. "The man is ready", he told the crowd and Slider on the other side. Then to Straylor he asked, "You have a name, stranger?" But when the Governor did not respond, the enormous bookie frowned. "No matter. This is Soldier! Spirit of the Old Order!" The half drugged, half drunk crowd cheered and booed at once. "Remember the rules! First one to draw blood wins!"

Spider winked at Straylor. "Oy, that shields looks about as old as my grandmother's ass, ha! Last time I see that was on a ghost ship near Terra. Ya, I did time. Killin', lootin', the lot." His thin shoulders bounced idly. "What's one more murder, eh? Accidental, of course. Nothing personal."

And Spider charged in a flurry of scimitars.
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Old September 3, 2011, 09:31 PM   #4 (permalink)

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In that window before Spider's double blades were within swinging range, Straylor perceived two very important points in his opponent's abilities. One, Spider's naturally lithe shape allowed him to move quickly. And two, he was not ambidextrous. His second blade in his non-dominant hand was a fraction slower and he used it as an afterthought rather than in fluid movements that indicated proficiency.

So Straylor favored the Defensive Forms of swordplay to easily block and parry Spider's blows. Straylor back-pedaled, causing the crowd to scream and expand, giving them room. The exhilaration of the fight filled his lungs with air and his blood with flames. Spider seemed to hesitate, perhaps sensing Straylor's own skill and doubting his sobriety.

With an abrupt movement, Spider tried to cut away into Straylor's defenses again. But there was something else in his movements, something that hinted at an ulterior motive to get close. The knives, Stray thought, remembering the bookie's advice. Just then, Spider dropped on of the scimitars and drew a pair of smaller knives from a hidden sheath on his belt. It flew with great precision, but Straylor had a shield. The Baron pressed close and decided that he couldn't let Spider try that trick twice. With a practiced motion, Straylor drew a long knife from a sheath hidden in his boots and threw it haphazardly at his foe. Spider, surprised, avoided the awkwardly tossed knife and hesitated.

That moment was all the opening Straylor needed. He pressed forward, surprising his opponent by leading with his bronze shield and at the same time hiding his movements behind it. He attacked low from Spider's weak side, lifted his shield, and nearly inserted a good half of his black blade into Spider's naked chest. The pirate tried to evade the next blow, but it was a feint. Straylor pressed his shield into Spider's nose and it burst like a tomato.

"MOTHER FETHING COW", Spider cried as he dropped one of his blades to cup what was left of his nose. Laughter and cheers followed him as he disappeared back into the crowd to lick his wounds. Many others from the crowd swore loudly having lost a good amount of coin betting against the rouge soldier.

Suddenly, Straylor heard a booming sound from behind him.

"I fight."

He turned to find his own bookie's bodyguard stepping into the bloodied arena. The fat man laughed hysterically. "Talk about a win-win", he mused out loud. "Get your bets in, gents! This is going to be a quick fight." He winked at Straylor and the Baron frowned.

Assessing the Arkamatan did not help things. The man was at least seven feet tall and was built like a miner who ate rocks for Pracenda. He was armed with a mace, a wicked weapon with spikes and a hook on the other end of its handle. Fortunately, the bodyguard only donned chain mail armor over his local garb.

"This is between Giant and Soldier!"

At the toad-like bookie's cue, the two men readied their weapons. This time, Straylor made the first move.

Last edited by Straylor Leonard; September 4, 2011 at 03:52 AM.
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Old September 4, 2011, 03:12 AM   #5 (permalink)

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His former master impressed a great deal of strategy into Straylor. While the three Forms he mastered typically afforded him a great range of maneuvers to choose from, sometimes it was the unexpected that won a battle. Improvising meant surprising even one's self at times. So when Straylor charged, he gauged Giant's reaction. The Arkamatan was not a poor fighter. That was certain from the get-go. Instead of trying to swing at his faster opponent, he braced for the charge knowing full well that Straylor was not foolhardy enough to go neck-to-neck with him.

A few prying slashes and thrusts were all Straylor managed during their initial clash. The man's defense was solid. He knew how to use the mace and how to shield his size. The Arkamatan snarled and then counterattacked with a downward bow aimed to fuse the bronze in Straylor's helm into his skull. Thankfully, the Baron danced with using his excellent agility. But it was close. His shield weighed more than his former Shield of Arcana and it took a moment to readjust his movement. Not to mention the armor he wore. The leather had not been broken in and it felt tight against his skin.

Giant did not give up that easily. He followed the clubbing blow with a sideways bash. Straylor blocked with his shield and his entire arm immediately went numb. Suddenly, Giant reversed his weapon and used the hooked end of his mace to ensnare the rim of Straylor's weapon. The Baron's eyes widened and he instinctively tried to pry his shield away. But the Arkamatan was stronger. With incredible force, he ripped the bronze shield from Straylor's hand and tossed it haphazardly behind him.

"Feth", Straylor commented dryly.

"Die!", the Arkamatan roared.

Partially disarmed, the Governor was forced to transition into the evasive maneuvers of his mastered Form. Unfortunately, the back ally limited the space he could use without employing the crowd as meat shields. As tempting as it was, Straylor forced himself to maneuver Giant in hopes of tiring him. Sweat began to build on his forehead and he could feel the wool on his neck grow hot with his movements. Clenching his jaw, Straylor pried his mind of extraneous thoughts and attempted to Meditate. But nothing came. He parried a blow aimed to gut him before realizing something.

His shield.

In the eras since his creation of a shield-shaped Staff of Arcana, he inevitably associated Clarity with the touch of his signature weapon. Fueled by this realization and in part desperate to end the match, Straylor ducked and lunged away from his opponent before circling around to recover his bronze shield. The unique Secyclion design was a relic of the past; and in Straylor's hand, it was a reminder of his lost permanent link to the Astral Plane.

With his shield in tow, Straylor found himself awash in Clara once more. He could see the magical Essences of his opponent plus those faint flickers of the mundane crowd around him. Armed with his magical abilities again, it took only a few precious moments for Straylor to manipulate the Ara around him to merge with his Vis to form Mana. The entire process took less than a heartbeat as he Improvised a spell to turn the skin around his foe's eyes to harden into tree bark.

The Arkamatan literally didn't see it coming.

Before Giant could react, he found Straylor's boot sinking into his gullet. This was followed by a hilt to the back of his head for good measure. The Arkamatan fell with finality and the frenzied crowd screamed for blood. Straylor glared at the fat bookie, who seemed unfazed by the turn of events. If anything, the Governor just made him a lot of illegally obtained coin.
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Old September 4, 2011, 03:46 AM   #6 (permalink)

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"They scream for your blood, kyrio", the words came from somewhere within the crowd.

Straylor fell into a ready stance but suddenly found himself glancing to either side. The lunatic-filled islanders around him had fallen quiet. A look to the fat bookie revealed that the mere words of the stranger seemed to have wiped the smile off his frog face.

Slowly, the crowd parted to reveal an older Secyclid in a ragged tunic with leather greaves and armed with a bronze sword and shield similar to Straylor's own. The man appeared to be a retired soldier, judging by the way he stood and moved. But Straylor also noticed that his back was a little bent from his age and the wrinkles on his sun-kissed skin were more pronounced. His long white hair was tied in a braid behind him and his gray eyes narrowed at Straylor in keen interest.

"M-Mirridon", the fat bookie croaked. "Y-You fighting?"

The old soldier named Mirridon nodded once and fell into stance. It was a form Straylor recognized only because of his time in Eunesia. It was a soldier's stance, wide with the shield held close to the body and sword gripped so that its tip faced one's opponent. Straylor matched Mirridon's stance with the beginning of a maneuver known as One Hundred Shields. The transition was seamless, born out of eras of practice and application, and Straylor opened with a backward stance in anticipation.

"Soldier has been challenged by Mirridon!", shouted the toad-like bookie to the crowd. At that moment, those gathered erupted in hoots and cheers again as if they were given permission to do so. Mirridon saluted the crowd and Straylor frowned at his showmanship. The man was like a gladiator, eager to please and show off. At the same time, it worried the Governor that perhaps there was a reason why everyone seemed to know this old soldier.

On cue, the two ex-soldiers met in a serenade of steel. Bronze clanged against metal and Mirridon's golden blade hissed against Straylor's midnight colored blade. Under the cover of darkness, illuminated only by torches set in the ally, it was surprising that an old man could move so quickly and see so clearly. Straylor dodged a blow meant to decapitate him and pretended to go on the defensive. Mirridon pressed his advantage, only to be dissuaded by well-timed blocks and quick counters.

It took only a few exchanges for the Secyclid to realize what his opponent was up to. So he fell back, and Straylor sensing that his opponent was tiring, charged. But Mirridon was waiting for it and his shield was waiting -- not to block or deflect, but to disarm. The movement was elegant but deadly. And risky. Straylor saw the spinning movement as his sword slipped past the crescent gaps in Mirridon's shield. But it was too late. The bronze shield caught him in the wrist and Straylor's gloved fingers began to spasm in pain. Leviathan fell with a clank and he was left with only his shield.

Not one to allow his opponent to recover, Mirridon charged and initiated a flurry meant to overwhelm his younger foe. But the old soldier did not know that his opponent was also a mage. And having attained Clarity during his previous match with the Arkamatan called Giant, Straylor needed but a few moments to successfully cast a minor spell to buy him precious time to steal victory.

Oh, and Straylor also brought two swords.

Waiting for the perfect time to unsheathe Avalerion without losing an arm in the process Straylor was forced to defend and evade again. His opportunity came when Mirridon, overconfident, swung and missed. He was punished by a shield punch to his sword arm. Leaping past him, Straylor circled around and drew his second blade at last. Then with a flicker of his thoughts, ensnared his foe's neck with bark. The sensation was akin to being choked, and since Mirridon loose-fitting clothes it was impossible to tell that his dark skin had been affected by magic.

While Mirridon gagged, Straylor delivered the finishing touches to secure his third victory: first came a disarming blow, aimed below Mirridon's elbow on his sword hand. With the old soldier's sword removed, Straylor drew blood by pressing his helm against his foe's unarmored forehead. Surprisingly, Mirridon managed to knock Straylor's helm off in the process with a well-timed punch, revealing the Governor's scarred visage.

Gasps, screams, laughter, and cheers filled the darkening air. As soon as his victory was announced, he Dispelled the small amount of bark from Mirridon's skin and awaited his next foe.

"Fools!", spat Mirridon. "Do you not know who he is? This is the Governor! The damned Governor of the Isles! Look at that fair skin! The boy is Medonian!"

Straylor's eyes widened as he turned to face Mirridon and the crowd.

"He's come with soldiers!"

"I recognize him! That's him!"

"They are coming!"

Straylor turned and discovered that a damn militia patrol was coming on their Gorijas. Someone ratted them out, or maybe someone spooked and blabbered too much to the wrong person. Gritting his teeth, Straylor turned to flee but not before he met the eyes of the old soldier. Mirridon was smiling.

"You cheat", he said. "Very good."

And then he turned and fled into the shadows. Without another thought, Straylor ran and as soon as he lost the patrols, returned to his Sea Hawk Form and flew home to the Little Red Island.

Continued here ...

Last edited by Straylor Leonard; February 21, 2012 at 01:23 PM.
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Old September 4, 2011, 05:15 AM   #7 (permalink)
Wow. So mod. Much nice.
 
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