A trading community for Dark Souls 3.
A trading community for Dark Souls 1.
Hello, I am interested in playing elden ring. I have a PC that i used to play WoW on and a PS4. My wife may also play and she has a laptop she used to play WoW on. Should we get another PS4 and TV/monitor for coop play or use the PC and laptop? Does anyone have feedback on what the optimal platform would be for us with the options listed above? I have played fallout, skyrim and borderlands. What is a comparable game, playstyle wise, for elden ring?
It was dawn when the iron doors beneath the Red Keep, in the torchlit dungeons far below the main castle, when one of the doors that led to the exit tunnels that emptied into Blackwater Bay was shoved open. A Weequay guard fell forward, his throat slit, his corpse slamming down on the cobblestones. Jon Snow loomed in the doorway behind the dead alien, his sword slick with the guard's blood. He wiped his brow and said, "Thank you" to the dead man before kicking him aside and dragging himself forward.
Jon had spent the night slowly making his way toward the Red Keep, creeping among alleyways and the ruins of houses to avoid patrols of guards or droids. He had eventually managed to ambush a guard and take the Weequay hostage. Jabba's men, as it turned out, were cowardly when faced with someone stronger than they and the guard had been all too eager to lead Jon to a secret entrance into the dungeons to save his own hide. It hadn't saved him, of course, and Jon had taken a grim sense of pleasure in slitting the man's throat when he thought himself safe.
Jon grabbed a torch from the wall and removed it. With Longclaw in one hand and the torch in his other, he stumbled forward, his pace slow, every muscle in his body demanding he lie down and rest, collapse into the blissful state of unconsciousness. Jon ignored them and pushed them aside, forcing himself forward. Daenerys needed him. And he wouldn't give up, not for anything, until he had wrested her from the grasp of Jabba the Hutt.
He walked for sometime, nothing to join him in this march toward the slimy overlord of King's Landing but his own footsteps. However, coming to a passage he suddenly heard whispering around the corner. Halting and keeping to the shadows, his black leather of the Night's Watch keeping him well hidden, Jon peeked around the corner and looked to the source of the noises.
To his surprise, he saw someone he didn't think was still among the ranks of the living. Cersei Lannister was on her feet inside a cell, the door ajar. Her once proud dressed had been reduced to tatters, exposed her bosom and bountiful flesh beneath. Her hair was a wild mess and her features curled in disgust as a creature loomed over her. Jon narrowed his eyes, beholding the hideous form of Bib Fortuna, the loathsome Twi'Lek looming over Cerseri. One of his dexterous clawed hands was stroking her face, lithe fingers dancing through the locks of her golden hair. His pants were lowered, his stiff erection shoved inches from her pretty face, a lecherous grin upon his fanged features.
"Jabba may get to pamper his lusts with the four beauties upstairs," Fortuna hissed at Cersei. He grabbed a fistful of her hair and jerked it backwards, Cersei giving a cry as her lips were forced to meet the tip of Fortuna's quivering member. "But I have you all to myself."
"How lucky." Cersei spitefully hissed through clenched teeth, gazing upon his cock with a truly disgusted expression. Jon grimaced, his gloved hand curling around Longclaw's hilt. As much as he'd like to leave the Lannister bitch to her fate, there was no honor in letting Cersei be raped by this monster. No one deserved that, not even her.
So Jon Snow burst from the shadows and gave a whistle. Fortuna spun around with a snake-like hiss, releasing Cersei. His eyes widened and he fumbled for his communicator, a cry of "Guards-" slipping from his lips.
Which was soon silenced as Jon buried his blade in the foul Majordomo's heart. The momentum carried Bib Fortuna backwards, blood spewing from his fetid lips, his red eyes wide with horror. His hands scrambled at Jon's chest, clutching desperately to hold onto life. Fortuna gurgled and sputtered before Jon ripped Longclaw free in a spray of alien blood. Fortuna's corpse slid down the bars and crumbled to the floor, the Majordomo dying a most undignified death.
Cersei instantly scrambled to her feet, clutching the remains of her dress to cover her nakedness. She looked at Jon, her rescuer, to Fortuna's corpse with surprise. A myriad of emotions went through the woman's face before she finally locked eyes with Jon and snarked,
"Well, well. I never thought I'd be saved by a bastard. Much less a Stark."
"And I never thought I'd be rescuing a incestuous bitch but here I am," Jon snarked right back, turning to face his longtime foe. "You're welcome, by the way."
"What, you want a thank you?" Cersei chuckled, her lips twisting in a humorless smile. "Please. I haven't lost ALL my dignity. I didn't think you were still alive."
"I feel dead and sometimes I wish I was," Jon grimaced, hand clutching his sword tightly. "But Daenerys is up there. She needs me. I won't fail her as I did my men."
"Oh yes...you're the serious one, duty bound and all that," Cersei clicked her tongue. "I guess sticking your cock in that dragon whore really-"
Jon raised his blade warningly, its tip right against her throat. A dark expression was upon his features as he said, icy calm but with a terrifying tone, "I've had a long day. I've thought about killing you many times over these years, you and your entire fucking family. Don't push your luck. I promise I won't hesitate if any more foul words slip from these serpentine lips of yours."
Cersei eyed the sword and swallowed. She could see Jon wasn't kidding. "Perhaps," She said, managing to speak as Longclaw continued to press against her throat. "I can help you. You know, a reward for saving me from that foul pervert."
"I only want one thing." Jon moved closer and his teeth clenched. When he spoke, it was with the fierceness that the North was known for and even Cersei cowered before the wild fury of Jon Snow.
"Where is Jabba the Hutt?"
Jabba normally slept very late until at least noon, sleeping off nights of debauchery and partying. But this day he rose early, perhaps emboldened by his orgy with his four slavegirls last night. And so, in the early hours of the morning, Jabba guided his dais back to the throne room, taking his usual spot before the Iron Throne. He was absolutely giddy, his ego and pride soaring to new heights. Enough time had been spent in King's Landing. It was time to expand his empire even further, beyond the boundaries of Westeros! A Hutt's greed was never satisfied. Jabba needed more. More lands to grind under his slimy heel. More riches to wrest from the hands of kings and queens. More women to defile...although he didn't think any would match his four personal pets. But his harem needed more bodies, not just for himself, but his men who shared in a fraction of lusts and perverted personality. More!
His slavegirls were lying before him in various positions. Within the curl of Jabba's mighty tail were Arya and Margaery. Margaery lay against the side of his girthy appendage, deliberately grinding her perky ass into the slimy folds of the the huge thing that surrounded her. Arya, meanwhile, was lying on Margaery, her head cushioned against Margaery's impressive bosom. Margaery was petting Arya's short black hair, running her dexterous, soft fingers through it as she looked at the throne room before her. Arya was stone faced but seemed to be grudgingly enjoying the attention and made so room to escape Margaery's grasp, their leashes intertwining in a pile as they flowed down the sides of their bodies into the nest of pillows cast here and there across Jabba's dais.
Meanwhile, Sansa and Daenerys were standing on either side of Jabba, their skirts fluttering in the small morning breeze passing through the open window in the throne room. Jabba cooed as he admired their luscious backsides and round, firm asses barely hidden by their fluttering, long slavegirl skirts. Sansa seemed more composed than Daenerys, the Stark sister staring ahead with a stoic expression, occasionally betraying her humiliation at Jabba's eyes on her with nervous licks of her ruby red lips. Daenerys, meanwhile, glowered openly at Jabba, throwing glares over her bare shoulder at the Hutt repeatedly. Jabba just laughed, Daenerys's defiance amusing him and arousing him. His tail flopped and wiggled next to Sansa's booted feet, as he lightly played with the chains of Sansa and Daenerys clutched in his fat fist.
"Summon Fortuna!" Jabba boomed, slamming his free fist onto the side of his throne, rattling the bowl full of frogs. Juices of water escaped the aquarium and splattered on Daenerys, the last Targaryan giving a startled squeal of disgust. "It is time to plot my battle strategy for CONQUERING the rest of this planet, ho ho ho! Soon, the Empire of Jabba shall stretch not to one measly continent but the entire world. All shall worship me, all shall serve MY desires."
"Yes, my lord," A Goldcloak bowed to Jabba before turning to find Fortuna in the room he had taken over within the depths of the palace. Jabba purred in pleasure, thrusting his free hand into the bowl and snatching up a screaming frog.
Margaery's eyes glistened with intelligence. She continued to pet Arya's hair non-chalantly but her eyes studied the throne room carefully. At this early hour, there were limited guards, only a smittering handful around. A few alien men armed with vibro pikes and blasters, along with two or three Goldcloaks. The Goldcloaks Margaery wasn't worried about. If this plan worked, then they might throw aside their forced loyalty to Jabba and help them. As for the others...well, with luck either the Goldcloaks or Arya would deal with them.
The plan, as she had come up with, had come from careful observations during her time of the palace, as well as information gained from Jabba's men she had quite literally milked for information. Jabba was a Hutt and although he looked like the very picture of a slovenly, fat bastard, in truth his hide was packed with layers of muscle. His hide was resistant to blaster fire and he could even shrug off injuries that might fell a normal human. The only past his layers of defenses was his neck. For Jabba to die, he'd need to be strangled to death. There were other options of course but none Margaery had access to. And of course, she couldn't exactly strangle Jabba with her bare hands.
But Jabba had leashed them all, with iron chains for Sansa and Daenerys and long fibro leashes for her and Arya. If they worked together...all four of them could wrap their chains around Jabba's foul neck and strangle their master to death.
A bold plan, mad perhaps, perhaps doomed to failure. But it was the best one Margaery's clever mind had come up with. The other girls had agreed, each desiring freedom from their abusive lord. If they distracted him and caught him unawares...this just might work.
Margaery whispered in Arya's ear, pulling locks of black hair aside as her dainty lips whispered in the Stark girl's ear: "Let's begin." Arya grimaced, Margaery understanding why. None of them were particularly ready for what this entailed. But it was necessary. Jabba was ruled by lust, like any other man. So...to distract him, they needed to seduce him. To pretend to willingly give into his foul charms. To appreciate him, as he had so often taunted them with.
But before Margaery or Arya could signal the other two girls, the door to the hall was suddenly kicked open. Guards jolted and raised their blasters, Goldcloaks forming ranks and drawing swords. Jabba made a blubbery noise of confusion, his tail slapping against Sansa's leg as he looked to the front of the throne room, eyes narrowing.
Sansa was the first to react, a gasp escaping her lips. Daenerys next. Both of them exclaimed, in absolute delight at the same time, "Jon!" Arya instantly burst free from Margaery's bosom and crawled forward, a grin splitting her lips as she went to the edge of the dais. Margaery raised a quizzical eyebrow before pushing aside her and Arya's leashes, leaning over Jabba's huge tail to peek at what lay ahead.
Jon Snow stood in the threshold, Longclaw at his side, Bib Fortuna's blood splattering upon the cobblestones. His eyes went to each of the girls and he felt his heart swell with fury. He gazed upon Sansa, his lovely sister, so innocent and sweet, the pride of the Stark family. Now dressed in a horribly skimpy outfit even a Flea Bottom wench would sniff at her, a chain around her neck like some dog! She smiled at him but he could see the pain in her eyes and he shuddered to think about what Jabba had done to her.
And then there was Arya, someone wearing even less than Sansa, garbed in a fishnet outfit that hugged her athletic curves and long legs while leaving nothing to the imagination. She also grinned at Jon, genuine happiness on her expression even through the black makeup that decorated her face. Jon's fury grew as he could see she was leashed too.
And the apex of his rage. Daenerys, his love, the proud conqueror, dressed in a similar skimpy garb to Sansa's and also chained at the neck. Daenerys smirked at him and put her hands on her wide hips. Jon swallowed slightly, trying not to be distracted with how her long white skirts fluttered between her curvy thighs or how well framed her bosom looked stuffed into that metal bra. He could see a glimpse of a final grin, decorate in green straps with long hair, also leashed but he didn't know her and paid her no mind.
"Jon Snow," Daenerys said with a chuckle, some of her old humor returning upon seeing her lover. "What took you so long?"
Jon tried to smile back but it wasn't easy, the sight of his sisters and lover in bondage was fanning the fires of his already wrathful mood. "Well, I had a few houses dropped on me," He said, his eyes dancing to the aliens and Goldcloaks who now formed a blockage to Jabba's throne. "But I'm here now, my queen."
Daenerys grinned and tried to speak further. But Jabba growled angrily and PULLED savagely at the chains he clutched. With a violent yank, Sansa and Daenerys were pulled off their feet with a cry, falling with a squish into the depths of their master's enormous gut. Jabba kept pulling, Sansa and Daenerys clutching at the collars as they were violently strangled, thrashing and squirming on their master's doughy, slimy gut. Sansa's booted heels scrambled for purchase at the edge of the throne, her wriggling causing her red skirt to flip this way and that, offering glimpses of her cunt beneath them. Daenerys meanwhile PULLED desperately at her collar, coughing and gasping for air but even her own strength proved useless against Jabba's dominant hand as usual and she was left squirming desperately for relief on his fat belly.
Arya snarled at Jabba, her bravery returning at the sight of Jon. She moved to lunge at him to stop him from abusing her sister but Margaery quickly grabbed her arm, stopping the younger Stark sister. Arya snarled at Margaery, hissing: "Let me go! We should act now!"
"Not yet," Margaery growled, pursing her lips. Arya stopped, sensing the firmness in Margaery's tone as Margaery guided her back into the curl of Jabba's huge tail. "An opportunity will present itself...but not yet. I'm afraid this man has just blown my plan wide open."
"That's my brother!" Arya bit back. She whirled around, twisting to watch the ongoing confrontation. "Just you watch, he's going to kick this slug's fat ass!"
"So!" Jabba growled, his booming voice filling the chamber. He relaxed his grip on his slave's chains. "A member of Daenerys's little army survived, hmm?" He laughed, recovering from his initial shock. This was just one man and he was severely outnumbered. Sansa and Daenerys tried to rise from his belly, to pull away from the layers of their master's slimy fat, but he pulled them back, his tail thrashing beside Sansa's thigh.
"Survived and more," Jon said, raising Longclaw which caught the glint of the torches. "I'm here for my sisters and Daenerys, Jabba. Release them and begone from Westeros. Take your army of monsters back to the stars. This land will never yield to you."
Jabba erupted with laughter, a laugh taken up by his guards. His tail slithered forward and wrapped around Sansa's leg like an exploring serpent, Jabba giving her succulent thigh a firm squeeze with the appendage. Meanwhile, his other hand began to stroke Daenerys's hair, roaming through her unique white locks, twisting and playing with them between his sausage-like fingers, so soft in contrast to his rubbery, filthy hide. Both girls moaned in disgust, Sansa offering no resistance as the tail coiled around her leg while Daenerys slapped ineffectually at Jabba's bloated hand. Jon's face turned purple with rage at the sight of the two women being molested by the fat slug.
"This land has already yielded, I possess strength of arms and technology far beyond this primitive planet!" Jabba spewed back at Jon, slime spewing from the depths of his rotund maw to shower his slavegirls. "You, boy, have made a very foolish mistake. I admire your courage and your tenacity to sneak into MY palace..." Jabba paused for emphasis, before wrapping one chubby arm around Sansa and Daenerys both. He cuddled them together, his tongue emerging to give Daenerys's cheek a slobbery lick with his slimy, girthy tongue while his tail squeezed Sansa's thigh possessively, its tip teasing her skirts, a thin layer of cloth all that separated her lady parts from being violated once more by the monstrous member. The two girls moaned in horror as Jabba cuddled them, looking at Jon with desperate, pleading eyes.
"I will NOT give up my favorite decorations," Jabba growled, waving his chain wielding hand at all four women, the chains of Sansa and Daenerys clanking with the motion. "I like Sansa, Daenerys, Margaery, and Arya where they are. And now..." Jabba licked his scum coated lips and laughed. "And now, boy, they get to watch you DIE.'
Jabba pointed one fat finger at Jon and barked to the small amount of guards in the room, outnumbering Jon eight to one:
"KILL HIM! Bring me his head!"
I'm in the midst of my first playthrough, but the frenzied town, the crazy dancing women, and Radhan's story are my favorites so far
Mid land world about fifty-four hundreds years ago, DARK LORD combine the technique of the metallurgy and the magic. Smelting a lot of rings with the magic power. In face, he return to Mordor stealthy. Smelting a most powerful ring. And with this rings’s magic power to control and suppress the other rings. And to establish the powerful dark kingdom.
Mid land world, before the end of the second centry. The King of the SPRIT - Gilgalad and Numenore’s King – Elendil composed the league of the Human and the Sprite. After the flaming war Dark Lord faild finally. The inheritor of the Elendil used the fragments of the saint sword slashed the dark lord’s finger and occupied the ring.
The ring spread from place to place, surprise appeared in very fond of delicious foods and easy life’s race Hobbits. Frodo Baggins, who inherit the relative’s property in this strange situation. Also inherit the responsibility for saving the world. So it also be the target that the good guys and the bad guys that to fight for.
Seriously, it's insane. I myself have never played a Soulsborne game, but I recently had two friends who claimed they would never play one of those games simply because the fanbase is toxic af, then they went and bought Elden Ring and won't shut up about how fantastic it is. It's almost impressive.
Hi I’m Kai I’ve been trying to find gamer buddies for days now and I mean holy shit is it hard xD
Im into anime, marvel, DC elden ring, Star Wars and a lot of other games and media
Im down to play anything because it’s the company that matters to me
Feel free to DM
So I’m wrapping up elden ring & im looking to play the other souls games. I already heard that I should play the original DS1 so I’ll be doing that, & apparently the original DS2 is pretty different from the “remaster”. Just wanted to get your guys’ opinion.
Edit: Thanks everyone!
Hello, I’m looking for someone I can talk to anytime. I’m usually craving some form of social stop to throughout the day
Here’s a bit about me: I like to play video games. I’m good at valorant csgo league. But beside competitive games I like to play chill games like portal and elden ring. I like to go outside and do things like long/skateboarding. That also includes going fishing, hiking, camping and hanging out with friends. I enjoy to smoke thc, it always brings me up. My favorite music is hiphop and I enjoy juice wrld. My favorite movie is Donnie Darko.
Overall I’m pretty laidback and chill, just looking for a fun time. Have a good day/night
--- Table of Contents
--- Spring 4985, 20 Buromoth
The armor Smith Nangran gave them fit much better than the pieces lent to them for the trip. Shon still hated it, but he hated it a lot less. Practice
, he told himself, trying to picture Master Veon-Zih's face as he did so, you can accomplish anything with practice...
Except Master Veon-Zih didn't wear armor.
"I thought we were going to learn plate, or at least half-plate..." Rerves whispered to his fellows as they adjusted their new armor, working the straps so they weren't too tight or too loose.
His whisper wasn't quiet enough, however, because Master Daunas laughed from where he stood beside Nangran, and the smith huffed. "So you want to try plate, do you, boy?" The Weapon Master asked a little too innocently.
Rerves looked up hopefully, "Is that an option, ser?" Shon swallowed nervously.
"Sure! Let's give it a try..." Master Daunas grinned, the look definitely sinister in Shon's opinion. "Got some plate for the big one, Nan?" He asked Nangran, who rolled his eyes before moving deeper into the forge to retrieve a set of battered but sparkling platemail.
Rerves rushed to remove his new, specially fitted, leather armor, while Thom looked on in envy. Shon half expected Thom to request his own set of the fully encasing metal, but the shy boy stayed quiet and instead settled with helping his friend strip off the leather and strap on the clanking plate. Rerves beamed but could barely lift his arms to don the helm.
"There you go, boy! Halfway to a Paladin already." Master Daunas called out as he turned Rerves by the shoulders and marched him, waddling under the metal's weight, out of the smithy. Shon followed silently, taking note of the guards looking down from the wall and some Squires elbowing each other and snickering in the courtyard.
The four weeks of watch rotation had started, giving the new boys time to catch up before the oldest Squires 'graduated' on the spring equinox. It was four weeks in which they trained from before dawn to after dusk in the basics and foundations, while the others had mostly free time outside of their six-hour watch. Which meant the new boys had an audience of off-duty seniors.
"Now all you need is a sword!" Master Daunas was saying to Rerves as he left the over-encumbered Squire in one of the sparring rings. He strode to the weapons rack and grabbed a sword and shield before returning and presenting them to the boy. Rerves grabbed the sword, but as he took the shield, his arm collapsed, the metal of his vambrace clanging loudly against his chausses. He was still trying to heft the shield into position when Master Daunas drew his own sword, "Now let's test it out, shall we?"
Rerves dropped the shield, gaping at the Weapon Master, "But... but," he scrambled for an excuse and settled on the live steel in his hand, "You don't have any armor, ser, what if..."
Master Daunas never stopped smiling, but his voice was finally serious, "Boy, if you can land a hit on me in that, then you deserve to graduate with the others this year." and he swung.
Rerves didn't really dodge; he pulled back and fell on his backside, scrambling on his butt and trying to roll over to push himself back up but barely able to move. Master Daunas hit him with the flat of the blade in the side with a resounding gong-like ring hard enough to help push Rerves over so he could struggle to his hands and knees. "Get up boy, if you're on the ground in a fight this early, you've already lost."
Shon watched in horror as the Weapon Master continued to hammer down on Rerves with the flat of his blade. The Squire did manage to get to his feet and retrieve his sword and shield eventually but he still couldn't lift them, flailing them weakly at the Weaponmaster's legs. Master Daunas dodged easily, even yawning lazily before he flicked his sword and disarmed the poor Squire again.
"Call match!" one of the Squires shouted from the sidelines, the small crowd of them all shaking their heads at the display.
Master Daunas laughed, but Rerves took the advice and called "Match, match!" as loud as he could before dropping to his knees, heaving in heavy breaths from just a few minutes of trying to move in the full armor.
"Match it is then," Master Daunas conceded, saluting the Squire with his sword before gesturing for the others, "Help your brother out of that boys. He did his best."
Shon and Thom rushed forward to help Rerves, but they weren't alone. The other Squires came forward, one with a water skin he presented to Rerves after the helm was removed, "You did better than Zihler did last year," another of them said with a comforting pat on the shoulder after Shon removed the breastplate.
"Huh?" Rerves let out a tired questioning grunt, and another Squire pulled him to his feet so they could get the legs off.
"There's one every year," one of the eldest said sagely, picking up the discarded armor and slinging it easily over his shoulder.
"Yeah, it was Jawsh in our year," another explained.
Master Daunas strode forward and clapped Rerves on the shoulder, giving him a little shake, "You'll be ready for plate eventually, boy, but not until your third or even final year. Grow stronger in leather, then banded mail, then half-plate. Everyone starts at the bottom and works their way up."
Rerves smiled weakly but had regained some of his confidence apparently because he managed to say, "You could have just told me that, ser..." which made Master Daunas laugh out loud again.
He didn't even bother to answer the Squire, just turned around and went back into the smithy, shouting at Nangran, "I told you it would be the big one this year! You owe me ten copper Nan!"
For the entire first week, the new Squires were instructed in the basic drills of their assigned sword types. It meant they couldn't truly work together -each sword having different techniques- but it also gave them a chance to get to know some of the older Squires who helped them early on. The year ahead of them had five Squires, one of the largest years in recent history. Kefir and Baradin both used one-handed longswords and shields and worked with Rerves. Uther and Rehlien both used large two-handed greatswords and helped Thom. Zihler was the only one who specialized in the bastard sword and worked with Shon. He wasn't left-handed, but Shon did all the exercises with both hands anyway, letting Zihler help him with the right first, then switching to using his left after he was confident he had them down.
During their second week, they were given their first sword forms. Like the kata Shon had been studying under Master Veon-Zih, the sword forms were meant to represent actual maneuvers to be performed in combat, and he took to them with even greater gusto than he had the simple drills.
"He's like a dancer..." Kefir whispered to Zihler as they watched Shon work through the form, without complaining, for what must have been the twentieth time that day.
Zihler nodded but also huffed, "I bet he flinches the first time we spar, though."
"I don't know..." Kefir muttered, then louder explained, "He's the one who bloodied Selv on the raid. Rerves said he trained under some old man fighter before he came here."
"We'll see," Baradin interjected, joining his fellows, "Master Daunas is on his way. He wants us to get out the sparring swords."
Zihler gave his brother Squire a lazy salute. Baradin was the unofficial leader of their year. It had chafed at first, and Zihler was still the most prone to defy him on occasion -usually when it didn't matter much- but over the course of their first year even he had stepped in line to Baradin's passive ability to take command. The three waved down Uther and Rehlien, who jogged over.
As Baradin had said, Master Daunas arrived a moment later with the resident Cleric close behind. "Fall in, Squires!" he bellowed to the practicing three, and Shon, Thom, and Rerves all quickly obeyed, standing side by side at stiff attention. "It's officially week three and time to start sparring," he informed them, gesturing for the senior Squires to move forward and exchange the real swords for wooden ones. He looked each of the three over carefully, then nodded to himself and said, "Thom and Rerves, face off."
Zihler noticed Shon's shoulders slump ever so slightly as he stepped away from the other two, who turned towards each other. They were obviously nervous. "Those are wooden swords, but this is a real fight. They will still hurt like a bit-" the Cleric cleared his throat, interrupting the Weaponmasters' use of profanity. Master Daunas coughed but continued, "Despite that, I don't want you to hold back, you fight like you train, and if you go easy on each other, you will go easy on a real opponent. You are not civilians, and neither is your opponent. This isn't a game. The fight won't end until one of you takes a killing or disabling blow. Every adult here, minus myself and Smith Nangran, is capable of healing any wounds you might give or receive. So again, no holding back. If I call 'hold,' that means to freeze, stop moving, hold your position. Now lay on!"
Rerves and Thom both swallowed down their fear and moved slowly, unsure what their first strike should be. As expected, the two did hold back, both from nervousness at not knowing what to do and honestly not wanting to hurt each other. Daunas sighed, but Zihler understood. It had taken him months before he could really hit his friends. And he was one of the faster ones to manage it. And even then, only really
when they were in armor.
The two newbies eventually sped up but were still pulling their hits. They both flinched with each strike, many of which were going to leave decent bruises, but Master Daunas wouldn't call an end until one of them landed a killing or disabling blow hard enough to count. On the other side of the sparring ring, Zihler saw Shon narrow his eyes as he tapped his boot with his sword.
"Match!" Master Daunas called after a loud smack pulled Zihler's attention back to the sparring pair.
Thom dropped his sword, cradling his hand. Rerves rushed forward, "I'm sorry, are you okay?" he had apparently caught Thom on the knuckles unintentionally.
"Both of you are aiming for your opponent's weapon instead of his body. You only hit their sword to parry or deflect. Hitting their weapon won't end a fight." Master Daunas instructed, "Practice boys, it's the only real way to learn, I can talk until my face turns blue, but you won't know until you make and take a few hits. Shon, you're up, Rerves, get ready."
Shon stepped into the ring, and something changed. Zihler couldn't describe it, but Rerves obviously felt something because he met his friend's blue eyes and swallowed. "Lay on!" Master Daunas shouted, and Rerves immediately raised his shield.
Just in time too, because Shon came in like a hurricane. He held his sword one-handed, but it still rang off Rerves' shield like a hammer. Rerves tried to counter as his form dictated, but Shon twisted his sword, taking it in both hands and sliding it along Rerves' blade before pivoting it up and swinging hard with a sickening 'thwak' against Rerves' shoulder. The larger boy immediately dropped his sword and reached for the wound with his shield arm while Master Daunas shouted, "Match!" and Shon stepped back.
He didn't apologize or rush forward as Rerves had done for Thom. The five senior Squires all stared at him, but Shon just bowed to Rerves while the Cleric came forward to check his arm.
"Well, I'll be damned," Master Daunas said with a wide smile, "It's about time someone listens to reason, but can you take as good as you give, boy?" Shon just arched a silent black eyebrow at the Weaponmaster, who laughed and took Thom's two-handed sword from him, handing it to Zihler, "Don't hold back, because this one certainly won't." he instructed the senior.
Zihler saluted the Weaponmaster and stepped into the sparring ring as Shon brought his sword to the ready position. As Zihler met Shon's eyes, his throat turned dry, forcing him to swallow as Rerves had done. His full year of more experience wasn't enough to prepare him for Shon's stare. The boy's icy eyes seemed to bore right through him. He wasn't at all nervous or scared. He didn't even seem determined or angry. Just cold. Like he could take Zihler's head and not lose a wink of sleep over it.
Zihler braced himself for an attack, but Shon didn't rush in as he had for Rerves. He maintained his guard and his stare until the senior Squire advanced. Inching forward, Zihler looked for the opening he knew had to be there. Shon didn't have enough experience yet to truly compete with the older Squire and when he swung, he swung hard. Master Daunas would accept nothing less.
Shon managed a parry, but both swords shook with the force of the hit. He didn't flinch and countered just as hard, telegraphing his attack and taking a breath too long, giving Zihler an opening. Shon was going to take the senior in the neck just as Zihler had imagined, and what was worse, he still hadn't blinked or changed his expression.
Zihler aimed for Shon's ribs, expecting the boy to redirect his sword and block the same way he had for Rerves. He didn't, and Zihlers wooden blade smacked him at full force in the side. If his ribs didn't crack, they were at least bruised, and Zihler felt himself flinch on Shon's behalf as the younger boy couldn't help but fold over the attack. Shon's swing lost some of its momentum, but he didn't stop, continuing to follow through, towards Zihlers neck, until "Match!"
Shon's sword stopped after barely tapping Zihler, showing that he hadn't lost control of the weapon and still had enough sense to pull the strike once the match was over. Would he really have hit the Squire full force if Master Daunas hadn't stopped them? Zihler felt himself sweating and had to swallow again. Shon finally blinked and stepped back, reaching for his ribs and flinching in pain as he gripped them.
The Cleric rushed forward, already speaking a prayer, and Zihler muttered a quiet, "Sorry..." as Shon flinched again at the healer's touch.
Shon furrowed his brow, then asked, "Why?" making Zihler blink in confusion, "We weren't supposed to hold back." Shon explained.
"Yeah, but..." Zihler started,
"You could've blocked that. It's the same technique you used in your first match," Master Daunas instructed Shon sternly.
Shon looked down at his sword, then back up at the Weapon Master. His eyes darted momentarily to Zihler before he muttered, "If I'd been faster, I could have ended it before he put too much force behind it..."
"You took the hit on purpose?!" Zihler shouted in disbelief.
Shon just shrugged, his ribs healed enough that it would only hurt a little to move, "I wasn't fast enough."
"Next time, block," Master Daunas chastised the younger boy, "Even if the blow had lost half its strength, you would've been injured." Shon hesitated, and Zihler noticed him clenching his fist at his side before he nodded in answer.
The bell for lunch sounded its twelve long rings, filling the courtyard as Master Daunas waved the boys towards the weapons rack, signaling an end to the practice. Zihler’s fellows joined him as he handed the practice weapon back to Thom. He didn't speak until the three newbies moved far enough away not to hear, "That was scary..."
"He really went all out, didn't he?" Kefir asked. Zihler could only nod.
"Cold-blooded," Rehlien commented.
"You have no idea," Zihler confirmed, "Even the seniors hold back more than he did."
The five turned toward the fortress and lunch, Baradin saying, "He could've though, did you see how easily he stopped his swing?"
"I felt it," Zihler mumbled, rubbing his neck. But he'd also seen clearly that Shon wouldn't have had the match not been called.
"I couldn't do that..." Uther mumbled, more to himself than the others, his shoulders slumping.
The other four immediately shifted their attention to their fellow. The poor boy had struggled through every stage of their combat training. Baradin patted him on the back, trying to sound soothing, "It’s only been a year. You have plenty of time."
Uther sighed heavily, "That was his first match, and he's already better than I am..." none of the others had an answer for that.
"I can't do this..."
Shon looked up from his book to furrow his brow at the older Squire. Uther looked as dejected as ever, staring unseeing at his own books spread out on the table in front of him. They showed drawings of fighting forms being performed step by step with explanations detailing each one's use.
"Uther..." Kefir whispered, reaching out to rub his friend's back, "You can..."
"I can't!" Uther slammed his book shut, and every Squire at the table jumped in surprise, "I don't want to. I hate this. I hate all of this." he crossed his arms over the table and dropped his head into them.
Shon tried to go back to his book. It was none of his business. He hardly knew the boy, and even if he did, what would he say? What could any of them say? And yet he listened as the others tried to comfort the frustrated Squire. "You're the best at our theology and law lessons, though, Uther. We can help you with the rest. We still have time."
"I don't want to fight..." Uther spoke into his arms, "I never did... I just thought... I thought that if I tried hard enough, I would learn..."
"I don't want to." he was barely audible now, even in the absolute silence of the library.
At the end of the table, two boys a year older than Uther exchanged looks and silent nods before they stood and came to kneel beside him, "You don't have to." one of them said. Shon looked up again.
The other rubbed the Uther's back gently, "There was a boy a year older than us, his name was Karlin, he had a hard time too..."
Uther turned his head just enough to look through his arms at the Squire, "He gave up?"
"He went to train as a Cleric instead." the first said, "We got a letter from him last year, he's really happy, Uther. Maybe..." he hesitated, and his friend picked up for him,
"We would never encourage you to quit. If you want to stay, we'll help you. Everyone here will." he gestured to the table at large and then to the rest of the fortress beyond the library door. Uther lifted his head, and Shon nodded when he met the older boy's eyes. Though what he could do, he still didn't know.
The senior Squire continued, "But if you really don't want to, we will support you in that too."
Uther looked around at all of them, then whispered, "It's not too late?"
"It's never too late," the Paladin on duty chimed in without looking up. Perhaps not wanting to interject too much into the Squires' group effort to comfort their own.
"You've only been here a year, and Karlin already showed it's possible to transfer. If that's really what you want."
"I... I think I'll go pray..." Uther finally managed to choke out. The two boys stood and helped him to his feet but let him walk to the door on his own. Shon went back to his book.
He'd wanted this so badly it had hurt. He couldn't imagine being in Uther's position... But he also felt a strange sort of pride in his fellow Squires. They had stood up to help their fellow without hesitation, even now that he left, they weren't judging him for his voiced doubts. And even Uther himself. Shon had to imagine that it took a lot of strength to admit to the others that he might give up, that this path wasn't for him.
The next day Uther left Hamerfoss.
Along with the fundamentals of their swords, the new Squires were caught up in lessons on kingdom law. As Paladins, it would be their responsibility to enforce the law in each of the ten provinces, each with their own nuances. However, kingdom-wide laws always superseded province laws, so the new Squires were expected to know as much of that as possible before they started with the others.
Today they were learning about magic regulation...
"You should've all learned the basic theory of arcane magic before reaching maturity..." the Paladin giving their lecture began, waiting for their nods before continuing, "So you know that, theoretically, anyone can practice arcane magic. With enough study and funding. The kingdom has granted the Mages Guild a leading voice in the laws surrounding the use of arcane magic, and the power to enforce them with the assistance of the local Temple representatives."
The classroom was made to hold twenty five Squires and so felt particularly large and empty with only the three of them seated in the front row taking silent notes as the instructor spoke. He explained how the teleport system of gates worked within the Guild. That transport could be purchased to instantly travel between Guild towers, but that permission had to be granted from the destination if crossing province lines; otherwise, travelers would be trapped in the Guild and heavily fined, even imprisoned in some cases. He touched briefly on the cost cap of certain magical items, such as bags of holding and weather-resistant cloaks, to prevent price gouging. And handed out a list of outlawed magic items they would be required to memorize in their own time for a test at the end of this training period. It mostly consisted of anything that could cause outright harm, rare and valuable spell components for powerful spells, or items that aided in stealth that could be used for thievery. Though with the proper licensure, some experienced allies of the Temples were permitted to use many of them.
"Arcane magic has the potential to be very dangerous, and as such, all practicing Mages are required to be trained and registered as members of the Guild. Only Archmages, the highest Mage rank, are permitted to conduct research outside the Guild and take apprentices at their leisure. Which brings us to Sorcerers..."
Shon looked up from his notes. Their teacher was writing on the board again. At the top, he scrawled 'Sorcerers' then drew two lines down from the word to 'Clearance' and 'Sealing.' "When a Sorcerer awakens, they are required to..." he started, but Thom and Rerves both quickly raised their hands.
"What's a Sorcerer?" Rerves asked after the instructor nodded his way. Thom put down his hand, having had the same question.
The instructor looked at Shon and asked, "Do you know what a Sorcerer is?" when Shon shook his head, the man looked disapproving, "Then why didn't you ask?"
"They did..." Shon muttered down to his notebook. The teacher sighed and Shon glared at his notes. He would've asked if Thom and Rerves hadn't... assuming the answer wasn't made clear as the lesson continued.
Rather than further chastise him, the teacher moved on to answer the question, "A Sorcerer is someone who possesses natural arcane magic. They are born with power over one of the five elements. The power usually manifests around puberty, and when it does, the Sorcerer in question is taken to the Mages Guild. There they are either trained to control it -taking many years of study- or the power is sealed." He turned his back on the boys to continue writing on the board. Under 'Clearance', he wrote 'training' and 'testing', and under 'Sealing', he wrote 'tattoo' and 'item.'
"A Sorcerer with a clearance is the same in practice as a Mage who is registered with the Guild. Most Sorcerers, however, have their power sealed, preventing its use,"
"Why?" Thom asked, then quickly clapped his hand over his mouth, embarrassed for interrupting.
The instructor didn't seem to mind the interruption so much as the question itself. His eyes went wide in his disbelief as he looked down at the boys, "It is incredibly dangerous. Earth Sorcerers have been known to cause small earthquakes; Water and Air Sorcerers can drown or steal the air right from the lungs; Ice Sorcerers can freeze an entire room; and Fire Sorcerers... well, they are the most destructive. And all of that can be unintentional. Their magic is driven by their emotions, and if they can't control it, they are a danger to themselves and everyone around them. This is also why they are usually sealed with a tattoo..." he tapped the word on the board, "The sealing tattoo blocks their ability to use any kind of magic. It locks their energy, and thus their magic, in their body, preventing its manipulation. It is also given to any Mages, Druids, Clerics, and even Paladins that break the law and endanger the kingdom."
Rerves opened his mouth but then remembered to raise his hand, waiting for permission before he asked, "But don't Clerics and Paladins lose their God's blessing and their magic if they use it for evil?"
The teacher sighed again, though sadly this time, "Only Saint Giorgos reveres law itself as holy, and not every God holds the same standards for evil."
"Horsa..." Rerves growled under his breath, and the instructor nodded solemnly in agreement, his eyes flashing angrily at the mention of Hengist's brother and nemesis.
"Spells that are acceptable in Horsa-controlled provinces are not always permitted in Hengist's lands and vis versa. The Temples prefer to transfer those caught performing illegal acts with magic to a province where it is permitted, but occasionally, even a Cleric or Paladin can be tattooed to prevent further spell use. In some provinces, and you will learn more about this later, they even tattoo non-magic users who commit violent crimes. To prevent them from ever learning dangerous magic in the future."
Shon stared at the word scrawled in his notebook. Sealing tattoos worked by sealing the person's energy in their body, their ki... would it prevent Monk abilities too? The bell ending the lesson interrupted his thoughts, and Shon looked up to the teacher with the others, waiting for official dismissal before they would close their notebooks, "You should have that list of contraband memorized by the end of the week," the instructor reminded them as he began to erase the board, "Dismissed."
A rabbit made of fire hopped its way around the open cage. She sat on the floor, focusing on it, forcing it to keep the shape she willed while she stroked the cat's crimson-scaled head. The cat rested its entire front half in her lap, its lower legs splayed out on the ground, limp, too weak to move. She fought back tears as it tried to lift one great paw to bat at the bunny. She let the cat hit it, even made the flame rabbit fall down, pinned under the red claws. Not all of her treasures could touch her fire, but this one could, so she would do this for it at least. It purred in triumph at catching the flaming bunny but closed its eyes a moment later, letting out a ragged breath.
It was dying. They all died eventually, but it didn't stop the pain. She sniffed, trying to keep the tears from falling as she let the fire go. Snuffed out like her treasure.
"Come on, Red... it’s time to go..." Ran whispered into the cage.
She shook her head, stroking the large cat's side. Its breathing had slowed even further, "Not yet," she choked, then sniffed again.
Brom rested a hand on Ran's shoulder, "Give her a little longer."
"He can wait," Brom whispered.
Her tears finally started to fall, streaming silently down her cheeks and over her scales, the same shade as this treasure, the first treasure she'd ever pet. It had lived longer than the others, somehow, and was one of the few she was capable of touching for more than a few moments. "Why?" she asked the journeymen, not really expecting an answer she could accept.
They squatted down outside the cage together, and Ran answered, "Their bodies can't handle the magic. They're animals with dragon power. We're trying Red, but we haven't figured out how to stop it yet..."
"Am I going to die too?" she asked. The cat's breathing slowed further, her tears dripping onto its head and sizzling as they landed.
"No, Goldy, no... You're different... you're..." Brom struggled to find an explanation.
"A Sorcerer Red," Ran provided, "And a really powerful one."
Her treasure breathed its last, letting the air out slowly until it was unmoving in her lap. She cried silently. Curling around the large cat that was too heavy for her to lift, she cried into its neck, holding it close.
Brom crawled into the cage, but he didn't touch her, "Come on, Goldy, maybe the next generation..." he braved grabbing her arm, flinching at the heat of her skin and pulling her out of the cage as silent tears continued to fall. She tried to control herself but couldn't and fell to her knees as soon as she was out. Brom pulled quickly away, shaking his burned fingers. "Oh, Goldy... please don't..."
She squeezed her eyes shut, trying to stop crying while also keeping her power pulled in, so she wouldn't catch any of the scattered straw or her caretakers' robes on fire. Her eyes flew open when a thick heavy blanket wrapped around her, and strong arms held it tight to her.
"I've got you, Red... It's okay to cry..." she could feel the antifire spell on the blanket press into her skin, but past that was Ran's arms, and a moment later, a second set, Brom's, wrapped her in a tight embrace. It was the only way they could hug her, and she was grateful enough that she let herself go, her shoulders bobbing as she sobbed and wailed for the loss of her treasure... and for herself.
--- Table of Contents
Thanks for making it this far, you are the real MVP