­Knight to E-5

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Entry 3251 21/07/11 22:39
"They did hide in a hole, Alexios. This is it," Diana replied with a glare. "We can make the decision of what to do about them once your men arrive." She disappear back into the shadows of the doorway.

The young boy had a grip on his sister's shoulders. Their soft whispers came to an abrupt halt as Diana reentered the tower. She crossed the room and rested her back against a broken stone slab. With a weary sigh, she removed a piece of jerky from a pouch and held it out to the pair. "Hungry?"

The girl slipped free of her brother's fingers. Although the boy grunted in objection, she approached Diana readily with a finger tucked in her mouth. "My name's Tani," the little girl chirped, "That's Rarni." She pointed backwards over her shoulder. Rarni grunted again in disapproval, but his stomach betrayed him with a rumble. Looking down, he reluctantly joined his sister's side.

"Are you alone? Where are your parents?" Diana inquired.

"We donno, but they're gonna come back later with help," Tani stated with a bit of jerky between her teeth. Diana's eyes met Rarni's. The boy quickly looked away and clenched his fist tightly. Gently, Rarni placed a had on his sister's shoulder. With a voice lacking confidence, he said, "Yep, that's right Tani."
Entry 3255 (22/07/11 20:38) 22/07/11 20:37
Alexios, for once, did not retort. When Diana went back into the tower, he did not follow her. He remained silent, and his inaction rendered the city ruins quiet and eerie. Suddenly, instead of the comfort of his argumentative tone, there was the awkwardness of a cool wind whistling high above, and every miniscule sound that would have ordinarily gone unnoticed became amplified tenfold in the hushness. Anyone would be forgiven if they were to believe that there were a hundred men surrounding them, due to how many small noises were heard in the silence. 

Then a figure entered the tower. The small presence brought with it a burst of warming light. Cyrus stopped once he entered the room, moving his torch to one side so he could see who the other humans were. He looked at Tani and then at Rarni. Cyrus became still as they met eyes. The defender was so still and his dark eyes shimmered by the flames in such a way that they spoke of great sadness. He exhaled very slowly, so slowly that nobody would have noticed and would have simply thought the boy a statue. Then he mustered all his intention and broke his gaze, looking first to nothing in particular on the ground near him, and then up to the ceiling. Though it was only mostly there, it was in-tact enough to hide most of the torch's light from the outside. 

Cyrus went and sat on the ground near the other three, not close enough that he would join their silent conversation, but close enough that he could join in without them having to raise their voices. With the torch set against a stone before him, he hunched over himself and pulled his cloak in to keep warm. Finally he looked up at Diana and said in a croaky voice, "May I have some, too, miss?"
Entry 3261 23/07/11 23:45
Diana stretched over Tani's head and handed Cyrus a piece. "This is Tani and Rarni," she gestured to each, "And this is my friend Cyrus." Each child gave Cyrus a curt nod as the munched hungrily.

"So, my friend, what's your story?" Diana inquired to Cyrus, "How is it exactly that you were separated from your men?"
Entry 3269 30/07/11 10:55
Cyrus nodded to her when she handed him food, chewing on it as he sat. He propped up the torch a little, glancing at each of the children before turning back to her. He chewed his first mouthful before speaking.

"I have no story," he said. He looked at her, not with his head down as a small child would, but with his head rolled back slightly, just to one side, as though inspecting her for flaws. "Thankyou for the food. Are you a friend of the prince? You are a commoner, yes?"
Entry 3273 30/07/11 13:21
"A commoner, yes," Diana replied without eye contact, "Prior to today, I had no affiliation with the prince."

The girl sighed a long sigh. She proceeded in an indifferent tone, "Your past is your own. If you want to find your companions on your own, by all means, withhold as much information as you like." Diana gnawed at a piece of the jerky.
Entry 3275 30/07/11 13:34
Another figure entered the room. This man, at first, seemed as big as a giant. The shadow on the wall behind him enhanced his form, and he seemed too big to be human. As he stepped nearer, it became clear that it was Sir Varolta, Alexios' no-nonsense bodyguard. Varolta came near enough to inspect all four people. He sniffed, wiped his dark moustache, and unbuckled his gauntlets. 

"We hire one peasant guide and we receive two children and a tiny priest," he remarked with a very flat tone. "Young lady, you got Alexios to safety and cared for his wound. For that, I am... Hm. 'Grateful' is a strong word. I am appreciative. If you keep at this pace, you may prove to actually be worth the money we are paying you. Just do not steal my job." Cyrus looked at Diana as he ate. [1]
Entry 3277 30/07/11 13:39
Diana gave the knight a polite nod. "Your prince is quite the handful." The girl elected not to divulge the details of their escape without Alexios present. "Tell me Sir Varolta, what is our next course of action? Has Alexios informed you of the defender's orders?"
Entry 3278 30/07/11 13:45
"The defender's orders?" Varolta said. "Hm, yes, of course." He glanced at Cyrus. "Tralius and Nicolas are not far behind me. I became... preoccupied... as they burned that village."
"Preoccupied with what?" Cyrus asked.
"With a preoccupation," Varolta said. "It is not of your concern. I strongly suggest you all rest. We will wake you when the others arrive and we are ready to go. We have found some supplies in this old city, and we will disperse them suitably when we prepare to leave." Varolta stood and walked back out in the darkness. 

"I don't like him," Cyrus said quietly once he was sure Varolta was gone. "He gives me... a bad feeling." 
Entry 3281 30/07/11 14:03
"I feel much the same," Diana replied blandly. The girl leaned her head against the cool stone and shut her eyes. It had been her intention to remain awake until Alexios returned, but the day's exhaustion overtook her.

Unconsciousness brought no fanciful dreams or imaginative tails, just a warm peace. When the girl opened her eyes, she looked up to see morning hues overtaking the sky. Judging from the stiffness that had taken residency in her body, only a few hours had passed.

As Diana moved to stand, she found Rarni leaning against her side and Tani's head upon her lap. With the same dexterity she had used to escape her own brother's sleeping grip, she maneuvered out of the children's grasps. Neither stirred as undoubtedly they had an equally exhausting night.

The sheppard girl stretched tall letting out a satisfied grunt. She scanned the room. Alexios was not among them. Diana began to wondered if he had slept at all. With her body somewhat still reluctant, the girl retrieved her blade and proceed out into the morning fog.
Entry 3297 12/08/11 10:37
The ruinous state of the city became more evident in the ghostly morning light. Trails of crumbled stone walls jutted this way and that around a cracked and uneven paved courtyard. Old mighty timber frames protruded from behind the broken stole walls like cracked bones piercing human skin. The mist rolled down the sheer cliff face to the left. Another cliff rose to the right. The city seemed to block a narrow passage through the deep valley. It would be easy to defend against enemies on the same level, but deadly if archers were to fire from the clifftops. 

"My lady!" a familiar voice came from behind. Sir Nicolas strode to her from the city gate. "How grateful we are that you are still in our company. Sir Tralius and I have returned, and I hear Sir Varolta found you himself only late last night. How fortunate that we should all meet again so quickly after those atrocious Jevitiums burnt another village." He paused and gave her a face that said he thought he was talking too much. "I am merely patrolling the city, and get bored with nobody to speak with; I beg your pardon. How are you this morning?"
Entry 3307 21/08/11 00:57
"I am quite fine Sir," Diana replied very pleasantly. "A bit of rest goes a long way. I'll allow Alexios to fill you in on the nights details."  The girl seemed to give that statement some thought. Cool fog rolled rolled past their ankles. "Speaking of which, where is our stubborn prince?"
Entry 3309 21/08/11 01:16
"Our stubborn what?" Alexios walked into sight. Unlike the previous night, he appeared strong and rested, and he had back his regal keenness. "I am here, but I am far from stubborn. I have not the one who has been peeling potatoes all my life." 
"Children, this is not a time to quarrel," Nicolas said, suddenly quite stern. "This is a time to count our resources, and count our blessings. Are we not alive and well? It is more than can be said for many we have seen lately."
Sorely humbled, Alexios held his tongue. "We are still hunted," Alexios said. 
"Indeed, we are," Nicolas added. "I saw a score of soldiers heading to the west past this city. I couldn't tell if they were Jevithium, Leotian, or perhaps Trelinian. They carried no banners to display their allegience."
"Typical Jevithiums," Alexios said. "They bend the laws any way they can that will benefit them."

Dirt flung from the ground at Nicolas' feet. Alexios barely glanced down before Nicolas announced what they were to do.
"Archers!" Nicolas pushed both Alexios and Diana towards their tower shelter. "Move! Get inside!"
More arrows shot down, presumably from atop the surrounding clifftops. The three of them only just managed to catch sight of soldiers marching through the city ruins on foot, with a few on horses. It was not just a few loose soldiers, it was enough men to slaughter a town of people. At the head of them, towering above their helmets, was the giant knight. The Grand Marne scanned the ruins as the archers fired arrows before his path. Then the three were in the tower, and they lost sight of him. Cyrus, who was with the children, scrambled to his feet. 
"What is it?" Cyrus asked them. 
"There were archers," Nicolas said. "And there are more soldiers scouring the city. They will find us within minutes. We... need to find a way to escape."
"Where are the others?" Alexios demanded. "Tralius and Varolta. Were they captured?"
"I know not," Nicolas said. He drew his sword and tried to find something with which to cover the open doorway. Nothing was suitable, so they all cowered back into the tight corners of the old guardhouse. Cyrus looked to Diana and then to the children with eyes full of fear.
Entry 3310 21/08/11 01:24
Diana took refuge behind an overturned table. The girl once more drew her blade. Over her shoulder, she barked back to Cyrus, "The soldiers only saw us. Move the children beneath the stairwell and pull that bookshelf over to hide yourselves."

The rhythmic sound of footsteps droned closer.
Entry 3315 30/08/11 08:12
With admirable bravery, Cyrus guided the children into the deep stone recession under the stairwell. Nicolas and Alexios slid an old rotting bookshelf in front of them. Luckily it had enough frame in it to block the recession from view. Then they drew their swords and stood right behind either side of the doorway. There were sounds of metal clattering, and footsteps charging. The light from outside was dimmed as armed men crowded outside the tower. Two with swords ran in. With a roar, Nicolas swung round his broadsword and it cut both men just below the neck, stopping them in their tracks and sending their heels into the air. Blood shot across the room as they cried out. Nicolas and Alexios promptly ended their struggling and the next men to enter were more prepared. They jumped in facing either side, immediately engaging the prince and the paladin. As they were forced away from the door, more men entered. Soon it was two-on-one for both of Diana's companions. 

Two more men saw Diana standing behind a table and approached her. When they reached the table, they paused. It seemed like a trap. A common girl standing behind a table with an elaborate sword? One of the men judged her as no threat, and moved around the table, reaching out to grab her arm violently. 
Entry 3319 (06/09/11 23:47) 06/09/11 23:45
The soldier promptly regretted his underestimation. With a twirl of her wrist, Diana sent the man's forearm tumbling to the ground. The limb sent a small puff of dust into the air as flecks of blood began to soil the floor. For a moment, both the girl and the soldier shared a similar dumbfounded expression. Exploiting Diana's hesitation, the other soldier shoved his companion to the side and swung his heavy sword down in a wide arc. Having enough whit about her, Diana quickly stepped to the side, allowing the sword to clang hard against the stone table.

She swung her blade only to be parried by the soldier's steel gauntlet. Although her footwork proved clumsy, the elaborate blade continued to dance within her grip. Sounds of metal clanging rang out in a strange melody as the soldier and peasant girl waltzed across the tower floor. In a gross miscalculation, Diana tripped over a slab of overturned marble and slammed hard into the cold floor. The girl's sword clattering far out of reach.

In a grunt of satisfaction and amusement, the soldier propped an elbow upon his hip. "You crippled one of my men," the soldier stated as he stood over her, "Should I kill you, or could we find some other way to make you pay?" A crooked grin crossed his face.

The sound of metal on bone escaped his chest as a blade suddenly protruded upward through the man's breastplate.
Entry 3334 18/09/11 07:58
The soldier's body spasmed and stiffened. With his head slightly tilted back and his arms reaching outwards, he choked and died. Alexios stood behind him. He yanked his blade from the soldier's ribcage and kicked Diana's sword within her grasp. Alexios was breathing heavily, clearly affected by the pain of his injured shoulder, but he pushed through and enaged another soldier that had tried to charge him. Another soldier with a sword saw Diana still on the floor and ran at her and he began to chop downwards at her. 
Entry 3351 28/02/12 17:57
Diana threw herself to one side just as the blade struck the stone behind her. An ear piercing clang rang out from the sword as it sparked across the floor. She grabbed her sword with one hand and propped herself up with the other. In a panicked thrust, the girl drove the blade underneath the man's ribcage and deep into his gut. Using her grip on the sword, she propelled herself forward as the soldier toppled over clasping his side. As she drew the sword from his wound, Diana swung the blade in a wide arc and brought the tip back down into the soldier's chest.

Having dispatched with her immediate threats, the girl rejoined Alexios's side. Between heavy breaths, Diana stated with great composition, "There's too many."
Entry 3355 01/03/12 07:58
Alexios paused and looked at Diana. He didn't just look at her, though. He looked past her. Through her. Into her. In his eyes was a shadow of defeat, every move he made and every breath he drew was full of effort and weariness. He nodded in agreeance and helped Nicolas slay his opponent and then grabbed his arm and said something to the man over the yelling and clanging of metal. He turned back to Diana with a panicked look on his face. Then he was yanked to one side. Cyrus was tugging on the prince's sleeve, trying to pull him back to the recession beneath the stairs. Cyrus had shoved the bookshelf aside and was yelling something about a tunnel. Alexios motioned for Diana to follow as he turned and began to follow the young defender back under the stairs. 
"Go!" Nicolas yelled at Diana. "I'll hold them off! Go now!"

Alexios ducked under the stone steps and slipped into the darkness. It was immediately cold and dark, and he couldn't see anything. Something sharp grazed the top of his head and he cried out and ducked lower, almost tripping on loose stones and falling forward on his hands and knees, sending his sword clattering away in the dark. He looked up as his eyes adjusted to the dark. He was in a long, dark tunnel that appeared to be part natural cave part manmade. The two children were standing before him. The boy picked up the sword and offered it to Alexios. The prince stood and took back his weapon. 
"It goes deep," Cyrus said, pointing past the children. He looked at Diana, who was behind him. From where they stood, they could just see Nicolas at the entrance to the tunnel, fighting off swarms of soldiers. With a pang of regret, Alexios urged them all onwards. 
"Come on," he said. "Let's go quickly before they manage to follow us." [1]
Entry 3357 07/03/12 21:38
Cyrus set a brisk pace into the darkness. With a hand on the passage way wall, Diana progressed at the tail of the group. Her fingertips stirred decades of dust into the still air. For a long while, the only sound that scratched at her ears was that of the children's feet shuffling across the ground. Seemingly in unison, both Diana and Alexios halted, each turning an ear behind them. Cyrus, sensing the hesitation, slowed and drew back deeper into the passage with a hand grasping each sibling's shoulder.

There was no room for Alexios to squeeze past Diana. Heavy breathing from behind shifted through the corridor. It could have been that of only one man, but the heaving echo through the darkness gave it a monstrous quality. Metal scraped against stone, a grunt rattled through the air, and Diana turned with her sword raised.

"Nicholas," Diana called out in soft but level tone. The breathing stopped. "Nicholas, identify yourself," she tried once more. Still no reply.

With one hand holding her sword out, she traced the contours of the stone wall. Stepping backwards into Alexios, Diana gave the boy a gentle nudge, and he too begin pushing deeper into the corridor. As she edged backwards, the girl could feel the change in the wall's texture. Where the beginning of the tunnel had felt carved, this portion seemed to have been constructed. Just as her fingers grazed the course grain of an old wooden beam, the heavy breathing began again.

Diana hurled herself backwards, throwing Alexios off his feet. The sound of boots drilling into the ground grew closer. She stabbed her blade into the ancient beam spanning the tunnel's roof. With a loud grunt, she twisted her sword and split the support down its center. The sound of stone rattling quickly became deafening as the whole tunnel seemed to give in. She fell backwards onto the prince. The beastly voice cried out before falling silent.
Latest Post Entry 3359 09/03/12 19:45
There was no sound at first. The dusty blackness began to smell of death and mould. Some pebbles trickled to the floor. Then there was a coughing and spluttering and the sound of scrambling. The first coughs were young; the two children clutched one another. Cyrus found them and quietly made sure they were alright. 

"Diana?" Cyrus eventually asked. "Miss, are you there? Where has his highness gone? I can't hear him."
Sure enough, there were only four voices within their immediate area. Cyrus reached out to find her sleeve and tried to tug to encourage them to head onward through the tunnel. 
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