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 Post subject: Infinity's Blades
PostPosted: 07 Aug 2008, 16:39 
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Nurich glanced up at Cassius's invitation. He hadn't been entirely sure what Cassius had meant when he said he was counting on him earlier that day, but now he realized is was an invitation to a meal. A meal that was sure to be better than stale bread and chicken broth. Again.

How could he refuse?

Nurich finished chewing his mouthful of bread before standing and following Cassius into the room where he would eat, presumably with Nephie and Caius joining them. Before him was laid out a feast.

The meat glistened with juices, freshly cooked. The bread was excellently done, and the leeks and potatoes looked brilliant. He poured himself some Antaran ale before sitting down, waiting for the others so they could dig in.



Living in the limelight, the universal dream for those who wish to seem.
Those who wish to be must put aside the alienation,
Get on with the fascination,
The real relation,
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 Post subject: Infinity's Blades
PostPosted: 07 Aug 2008, 18:32 
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The Armsman-Sergeant shrugged as Nurich took Captain von Holt up on his offer. This happened sometimes, ususally when whoever he was talking to was called away by a superior, or pretended to do so to get away. It wasn't as if he could argue about it. Atleast in this case it meant the other man had left half a loaf of bread and a bowl of broth on the table.

"More for me then..."

Sol picked up the remnants of Nurich's dinner and began finishing it off.



"Those are brave men," he told Ser Balon in admiration. "Let's go kill them."
-Tyrion Lannister, A Clash of Kings


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 Post subject: Infinity's Blades
PostPosted: 07 Aug 2008, 19:27 
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Nephie strolled into the room, her cloak still about her shoulders, but with the hood down. She raised one eyebrow at Cassius. "Are you going to make me take the cloak off too?"

His silence answered her question. "Very well." Before she sat down at the table, she unclasped the cloak and hung it on the back of her chair. The clothes she wore underneath were ordinary, but of good make, green cotton pants with pantlegs so wide the pants almost looked like skirts, and a light brown long sleeved shirt of similar fabric. The shirt was a v-neck with golden embroidery of leaves along the edge. Matching embroidery lined the edges of her sleeves and bottom of her pantlegs. Her shoes were flats, a shade darker brown than her shirt, also of good make. It was clear she'd changed clothes, since at the docks she'd been wearing more practical clothes. Also, what she was wearing was perfectly clean.

The meal got another eyebrow raise. "I forgot you cooked. Will Caius be joining us? Or is it just us three?"


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 Post subject: Infinity's Blades
PostPosted: 07 Aug 2008, 20:12 
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Sir Caius of Xen sat cross-legged on the now clean floor, huddled around a small camp stove in the centre of the warehouse. The entire legion had dumped their gear and Caius' Wild Cards had indeed, cleaned the whole place. True to his word, his men were eating off the floor, and he was right there with them. The Captain-General tore a bite out of his somewhat stale loaf of coarse bread. He was not going to take money out of the Legion's pocket so he could eat better than what everyone else was. Besides, ten years of army life had been plenty enough to get used to the even harsher rations used by the Royal Army. And so, the Captain-General sat with half a dozen men he had known for nearly half his life, eating the same stale bread and watery chicken broth that they did.

"So then, Jerran decides to go and threaten the wench's father with force. He pulls out his dagger..."

One of the men, Armsman-Sergeant Cerrath, was telling a story of his troop's escapades during the war. It couldn't have been less than five or six years ago, when the fighting was still a rolling cavalry war over Antar's frozen plains, Terran merchant cavalry against Antari hussars. When the casualties were light, the riding was hard and the ground was frozen. The winter campaigns were both some of the best, and hardest days of Caius' life. The first winter on Antari shores, they had entered an inexperienced rabble of petty nobles and merchant's sons who had barely even slept outside more than once. By the time spring had come again, they were one of the most proven units in the Terran expeditionary force.

"...and whadduya know! The old man, he just reaches into this barrel of his and pulls out this real big scary looking hammer. Huge! It musta been oh, the size of a bull's head atleast! You bet yer ass Jerran just went quick and quiet then. He was still white as new driven snow by the time we made it back to camp! You really gave us the time of day didn't ya sir?"

Caius nodded and chuckled as he finished the last of his own supper. He had given their troop quite a dressing down when they arrived back at camp, sopping wet, gasping for breath and being chased by a big mountain of a blacksmith wielding a gigantic hammer. He remembered docking their pay for a week to make amends to the old man.

"Yes I did Urban Cerrath, and if it wasn't for that maybe Jerran wouldn't scamper for the nearest slit trench the second he sees a smith's hammer or a foundry! Speaking of time of day, how much longer until sundown?"

"Glass makes it another half-hour or so sir."

"Hmm. It looks like I'll have to take my leave of you all. I have to finalise the accomodations for the officers and prepare for my briefing. Sergeants! I expect you at the Roaring Griffon Inn at the town square for our briefing in half an hour! That'll be all!"

With that, Caius pushed his now empty bowl to the side and stood up, making his way out the door, and onto the cooling Azulae streets...



"Those are brave men," he told Ser Balon in admiration. "Let's go kill them."
-Tyrion Lannister, A Clash of Kings


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 Post subject: Infinity's Blades
PostPosted: 07 Aug 2008, 20:26 
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Nephie didn't bother to wait for an answer. Of course Caius wouldn't be joining them. He always ate with his men. Usually Nephie did somtimes, but almost every night she found herself eating with Cassius. She'd never admit it, but his cooking was good.

"Well, he's probably coming back to the inn soon... are you going to invite him?"


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 Post subject: Infinity's Blades
PostPosted: 07 Aug 2008, 22:40 
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Cassius admired Nephie again for a moment before he remembered Nurich. He cleared his throat. "Caius is a grown man, I won't play his keeper. If he wants to eat half molded bread and grease, then let 'im. In any case, he come if chooses as long as he gets his own utensils, I only swiped enough from the galley for us three."

He looked at Nurich, who was eyeing everything with a rather ravenous expression painted across his face. "I don't know too much about how Vykkia treats it's guinea pigs, but I know they don't get things like these, so why are you sitting there like some restrained pig? Feed your mute face already! We're mercs here, hardly the best manners of the nobility."
Even as Cassius noted this though, he did treat his own food daintily. Mobius Legion may indeed not adher to the rules of the upper class, but it didn't mean some of them weren't as cultured as that. Cassius was at any rate. He sipped from the plain cup that held the wine.
"You know Nurich, there's a reason you're here, and it's not because I respect you. You'll have to earn that. No, it's about that thrice blasted throat of yours. If you're going to be of any use to us, you're going to have to speak. And for me to make that happen, I'm going to have to rumage in that mute skull of yours, see what's wrong with you."



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 Post subject: Infinity's Blades
PostPosted: 08 Aug 2008, 08:31 
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Nurich glared at Cassius. Jerk. His thrice blasted throat? He had only met the guy, and he was already insulting him. He quickly sawed off a reasonable hunk of meat and bread, giving himself a large serving of potatoes before diving into heaven.

The bread was seasoned, not too strongly, but not too weakly either. Its crust was soft and flexible, while the rest was light and fluffy. It was warm, too. The potatoes were almost like a soup, lathered in their own juices and butter. The leeks added an extra bit of excitement. The ale was among the best he had ever tasted, not that he was a connoisseur or anything. Then he got to the meat. Savory, lightly salted, tender, delectable came to mind. Of course, he had been used to eating stale bread and chicken broth under a bush for the past few months, so this was a feast for a king.

When he was done, he glanced up at the others. They were staring at him, having barely finished their potatoes. Oh well.

He wiped his mouth on his sleeve and pulled out charcoal and parchment. He was hurriedly writing, wanting to finish before Cassius was done so they could get this mind probe over with. I know why my voice is gone, he wrote. It's not disease, or sickness, or a spell. Honestly, I'm not sure there's anything you can do.



Living in the limelight, the universal dream for those who wish to seem.
Those who wish to be must put aside the alienation,
Get on with the fascination,
The real relation,
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 Post subject: Infinity's Blades
PostPosted: 08 Aug 2008, 08:44 
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As soon as Cassius gave the word, Nephie served herself big portions of everything, and, giving the alcohol a disgusted glance, took a glass of water. She was just about to take a bite out of the meat when Cassius mentioned Nurich's lost voice. A small sigh escaped her lips, but she set down her fork and nodded.

"I can help, even though it's not really my forte. It's not something I do everyday, but it is the one thing I had training for. Before I came here, I worked at a hospital, helping amnesia patients recover their memories. So I have some experience in that area."


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 Post subject: Infinity's Blades
PostPosted: 08 Aug 2008, 09:40 
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Nurich shook his head. People with medical background could do nothing for this, since it was nothing medical. If only they knew... he had tried everything. Everything! And he still couldn't recover his voice. Cassius and Nephie were in for a big letdown.



Living in the limelight, the universal dream for those who wish to seem.
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 Post subject: Infinity's Blades
PostPosted: 08 Aug 2008, 12:39 
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Caius flung open the door of the Roaring Griffon Inn with a crash. A splatter of rain and mud stained the opening hall of the big inn as the Captain-General strode through the crowded common room at a slow, measured pace. He quickly picked out the old man who was in charge of the inn, or atleast, the man who his employers had made arragements with.

"My name is Sir Caius Leonis, I'm head of the mercenary company you hired. Why are there still people here?"

The old man looked up with annoyed expression, but quickly erased it from his face once he got a good look heavily armed and obviously dangerous man. Looking through his stack of papers, he nodded slowly.

"Aye, we turned out all the boarders two days ago, so you'll have plenty of room for you... ahem, officers. The men out here are just having a drink."

"I need them out of here, now."

"I can't do that. And I doubt you can either pretty-boy, not without either paying them all off or getting your toughs to kill'em all. That wouldn't really be your style would it?"

Obviously the old man have a rather low opinion of mercenaries. Of course, for the most part, the reputation was deserved. Although the Mobius Legion was mostly made up of people whom Caius had heavily screened to be "respectable", other mercenary companies were not as discerning. Most were roving mobs of armed thugs, murderers and rapists out to make a quick crown or two. Mercenaries for the most part were unreliable, undisicplined and not to be hired except as a last resort. The Mobius Legion was none of the three.

"I'll clear them out old man."

Before the old innkeeper could stop him, Caius had found an empty table and was already climbing atop of it. Calmly pulling out one of his half dozen pistols, he non-chalantly loaded it; priming the wheel, locking the flint, pouring the rest of the powder down the barrel, followed by a piece of paper wadding, tossing the lead bullet away, he raised his weapon ceilingward and pulled the trigger.

The weapon went off with a concussive bang and a burst of grey smoke. Everyone in the common room quickly turned to face the nobleman's table. None of them seemed too pleased about having their evening drink interrupted.

"Now that I have your attention, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Sir Caius Leonis. I was hired by your government to deal with certain threat to your good city. I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to all vacate the building atleast until tomorrow. Within 24 hours, this threat to your town will be dealt with and we will be on our way. We would be grateful if you would give us for full and unconditional co-operation."

To their credit, the crowd didn't start telling Caius to go sodomize himself until he was completely finished his speech.

"If you do not leave, I shall have to resort to force. As it is, there are more than enough taverns in the area to reloacate to."

The problem with most cities was that everyone carried weapons. The entire crowd reached for the hilts of the large knives and daggers that townsmen carried for defence against muggers and wild animals, among other things. There were about twenty of them. The Old man behind the table sighed and averted his eyes, wondering how hard it would be to clean up the young mercenary commander's innards after the drunken crowd had finished. Caius looked around him and sighed. With a sweep of one hand, he took off his wide brimmed rawhide hate. It was plumed with two massive blue and white peacock feathers the size of a large man's forearm and almost impossible to ignore.

"Allow me to give you a demonstration before any of you do anything hasty. Keep your eyes on the hat gentlemen."

With a single fluid motion, Caius flung his hat into the air. Without losing an instant, his other hand swept out in a flutter of his cloak, rapier in hand as he leaped from the table, kicking it to the back wall.. Four quick flashes of shining puresteel before a twirling flourish and the blade was back in it's sheath. Caius calmly reached up and caught his had, placing it gently on his head. The crowd was not amused.

"You didn't do anything..."

Then four of the men at the front staggered back, coughing up blood and staring wide-eyed at the expanding red patches in the front of their tunics. The crowd saw this, and quickly made for the door, leaving any hint of aggression behind. Within half a minute, the Inn was empty except for the old man and the Captain-General. The Innkeeper popped up from behind his table.

"What did you- Dear gods! Did you kill them? Will they die?"

Caius turned back to move the kicked table back to it's place, taking it by the brim and yanking the heavy log trestle tack into place.

"Hardly. I pierced their kidneys. They have two so they'll live long productive lives unless they try to pull another stunt like that. A visit to the barber-surgeon and three or four days bed rest, and they'll be fine, although they'll learn a fine lesson about threatening former officers of the king."

Caius dusted off his hands as he walked up to the Innkeeper again.

"Now my good sir. Would you kindly help me with these tables? I'm going to need to put three or four of these together."

Caius didn't have to ask twice.



"Those are brave men," he told Ser Balon in admiration. "Let's go kill them."
-Tyrion Lannister, A Clash of Kings


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 Post subject: Infinity's Blades
PostPosted: 08 Aug 2008, 13:27 
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"Oh. Well then, I don't think there's anything I can do if it's not medical." Nephie resumed eating. She used as good manners as she could. It was a tough battle, but she won mostly. Even if she ate a little fast. But it wasn't her fault. The food was irresistable.

After a few minutes of this, the giant mountain of food that Nephie had taken was gone. She leaned back in her chair, satisfied, and poured herself a glass of fruit juice. When that was gone, she sighed.

"I'm going to head over to the inn. There's nothing more for me to do here." Her cloak around her shoulders and the hood up, Nephie waved, then left, her shoes making soft tapping noises on the wood as she made her way back to the deck. There was still plenty of light out.

As she walked to the warehouse, Nephie dispersed her spell that had been keeping the rain off, but kept a little bit above her head.

"Tally! Coral! Jana! Malaysia!" Her four bodyguards stood up and walked over to their Captain, obviously happy to see her safe.

"You survived."
"Did Cassius?"
"Who's that new guy?"
"Did you snitch any bread for us?"

The five left the warehouse, with Nephie laughing. "Yes, yes, he's a trainee, and yes." Four pieces of bread were delivered, and disappeared quickly.

"You can say what you want about Captain von Holt, Nephie, but he sure does make some good bread." Malaysia finished hers off and licked her fingertips.

"I know, I know, but he just gets on my nerves!"
"You liiiike him."
"Shut up Coral." Their friendly banter continued until they reached the inn. At the door, Nephie adjusted her hood, and her bodyguards adjusted their weapons. Nephie opened the door.

The bar was mostly empty, except for Caius and an old man who Nephie supposed was the inn manager. They were pushing tables together, and the man kept giving Caius frightened, but slightly awed looks.

"Need any help?"


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 Post subject: Infinity's Blades
PostPosted: 08 Aug 2008, 16:05 
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Cassius shook his head impatiently as Nephie made her comments and then left. Ridiculous, of course he would have tried such things!

Cassius sighed. "Nurich, I assure you that what I have in mind is much more comprehensive, and hopefully, effective." He drained his cup of the little bit of wine that was left, pushing away from the table, but still faced Nurich. "But first I have to know exactly what's causing this problem. As I said, I'll do this by going into your head again. Realize though, that this is going to be much more intense and intrusive. It will require a quiet environment, no small amount of concentration on my part, thank you, and endurance and patience on your part. And of course, you'll have to willing to lay bare all of your memories and feelings, no matter how intimate. Who knows how this will go." The Captain paused slightly, letting his words sink in. Then he asked, "Do you understand what this involves on your end?"



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 Post subject: Infinity's Blades
PostPosted: 08 Aug 2008, 16:10 
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Nurich nodded. He understood perfectly. He had, after all, had his head checked after every mission for the Vykkians. Of course, this was likely to be much more intense than that, but he was sure he had nothing to hide. He had always been a tool of others, never had any feelings of his own except satisfaction when the mission was completed and a lot of resented between them. He prepared himself mentally, clearing his mind, sorting his thoughts onto shelves so they would be easier to navigate. Then he waited.



Living in the limelight, the universal dream for those who wish to seem.
Those who wish to be must put aside the alienation,
Get on with the fascination,
The real relation,
The underlying theme.

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 Post subject: Infinity's Blades
PostPosted: 08 Aug 2008, 16:35 
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Cassius looked at him suspiciously, he was very complient. Too complient. Then again, if I had been unable to speak for the rest of my life, would I?
"Very well then, give me a moment." He went to the door of his quarters, making sure it was securely shut and locked. For further protection, he put a temporary spell on it so that it would deter anyone who wanted to enter. Not that he expected anyone would, they were in Cassius own quarters. Someone had walked into his quarters once without his permission, and he had terrorized them straight by turning his human tongue into a serpents tongue for two entire days. Not that that incident hadn't been without consequences, Caius hadn't been happy about it, but had reluctantly agreed that some sort of punishment had been warranted. It was an officer's quarters.

He returned to the center of the room, hauling Nurich up by his arm. "Go lay on my cot over there," he motioned to the cot that served as his bed, set into the wall a bit, and surrounded by drawers built into the same wall. Cassius magically dimmed the lights eminating from the crystals placed around the room. Candles and torches he thought, No wonder we're so far ahead of these primitive humans. As Nurich was making himself comfortable, Cassius knelt down on the floor beside the bed. "Hopefully no one will bother us, if they do while our minds are so deeply enmeshed, there could be...consequences. Now, try not to struggle. This shouldn't be a problem, I just feel like I should tell you this. You'll be conscious, but probably not aware of this room or the immediate surroundings. You may have a flashback or two..."

He layed his slender elven fingers on Nurich's skull, and closed his eyes, delving into the former assassin's mind...



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 Post subject: Infinity's Blades
PostPosted: 08 Aug 2008, 17:29 
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Caius looked up towards the door the second he heard the creak of the door opening. His hand was already halfway to his rapier's hilt before it stopped, and returned to rest on the edge of the table. With one last shove, he and the old man moved the heavy, rough-hewn piece of furniture into another, linking a total of four tables together into a large, relatively smooth surface capable of holding the massive maps that Caius had brought with him. His work, done, he looked up and brushed off his hands.

"No Captain Leuce, that was the last one."

Caius headed for the corner of the room, where a pile of stools made out of sliced up logs with smaller, split pieces for the legs rested. Picking up one in each hand, he set one down at the side of the combined tables and one at the head. Beckoning to Nephie and guesturing for her to sit down, Caius turned back to pick up more stools for the rest of his officers and NCOs.

"You're early. The others should be here shortly. Until then just make yourself comfortable."



"Those are brave men," he told Ser Balon in admiration. "Let's go kill them."
-Tyrion Lannister, A Clash of Kings


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 Post subject: Infinity's Blades
PostPosted: 08 Aug 2008, 17:52 
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"Will do. If you need me for something, just ask." Nephie took the seat at the side of the table. Her four bodyguards sat down, two on either side of her. Resisting the urge to prop her feet on the table, she leaned back, chatting casually with Jana about wildfires. The topic caught Tally's interest, and eventually all five of them were fiercely debating the pros and cons of forest fires. Nephie was on more of a pro side.

"The forests need a fire once in a while. Or else they become so choked with plants that nothing can grow anymore. A fire gives the forest a fresh start."
"But it kills the plants!"
"Yes, but they come back. And ash makes wonderful fertilizer."

And so it went on. Nephie stayed firmly to her view that forest fires were good when they happened at the right time. Eventually the topic changed to the subject of weapons, and they all had another debate on that. Which sword was best, which bow was the most efficient, so on.


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 Post subject: Infinity's Blades
PostPosted: 08 Aug 2008, 18:41 
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Caius had been following Nephie and her bodyguards as they debated as he put down the rest of the stools. Sitting down at the head of the table, he leaned forward, forarms on the edge, as if he was preparing to address a full meeting. The others soon noticed and turned waiting for him to say something. He turned to all five of them and brought his hands together, interlocking his fingers, smiling in a way which he usually reserved for addressing people more important than him.

"You all make good points, however, I feel that you are missing something. All of the weapons which you have presented as arguments have one thing in common; they are limited by the strength of the mortal body. Swords obviously cannot become too heavy, or else the body is unable to swing them with anything resembling agility, regardless of skill. Small, light swords like my own are fast enough, granted, but a single blow from a zweihander could snap it like a twig. A human can pull maximum, two hundred pounds on a bow, an elf, perhaps three fifty, but nobody, man, or elf could pull a ballista string, I'm sure you'll agree with me there. Even magic has limits, only perhaps five out of a hundred humans are sensitive, and even then only about a tenth of those actively build the willpower to use it. Even elven magic is not limitless, or else Captain Leuce here would have long ago gone into the past to prevent Captain von Holt from developing the ability to talk."

There were a few chuckles at that one, not all of them female. In the intervening time, two of the armsman-sergeants had showed up bearing the large maps for the meeting. A few waves of Caius' hand later, the two NCOs were busy setting up the maps on the far side of the table and placing a box of small, exquisitely carved wooden figurines representing archers, armsmen, riders, and a nnew addition to the set; arquebusiers.

Caius reached back with his right hand, pulling out one of his masterfully made wheellock pistols. The polished ebony handle was set with a stripe of ivory down the middle, terminating at the silverplated "wheel" of the firing mechanism, hold the carefully carved flint which served as the heart of the firing mechanism. The barrel was of the finest grade of steel short of the pure, magic-deadening variety. Around the shined and burnished metal was a single spiral of Old Takaran runes, atleast six hundred characters in total, wrapping it's way around the long metal tube, terminating in a polished bronzed muzzzle, the silvered ramrod held in a clasp slung under the barrel. Putting the weapon on the table with an audible thump, the Captain-General sat back and tried not to fall over on the stool, his face a portrait of satisfaction.

"This, ladies and gentlemen, is the future."



"Those are brave men," he told Ser Balon in admiration. "Let's go kill them."
-Tyrion Lannister, A Clash of Kings


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 Post subject: Infinity's Blades
PostPosted: 08 Aug 2008, 18:49 
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Nephie snorted. "Don't think I haven't tried."

When Caius placed the pistol on the table, she leaned forward, got a good look, then leaned back. "Pretty. What do the runes do? I'm assuming they manipulate the bullet in some way." She was curious, that was obvious, but there was a strong dislike in her eyes as she eyed the weapon. Nephie didn't like guns. In her mind, using a gun was like cheating. Though she did think the gun Caius was showing off was pretty.


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 Post subject: Infinity's Blades
PostPosted: 08 Aug 2008, 19:19 
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"The runes project a field around the barrel and project magic into the bullet. In this case, these runes split the bullet into several smaller ones and send them out in a wide cone of effect, quite useful when you're facing a mob. That however, is beside the point."

Caius picked up the gun in both hands as he looked around the room. A few more people had arrived, including several Wild Cards, who were nodding in agreement. Nobody spoke, the Captain-General was in full filibuster mode now.

"Guns are a legitimate weapon of war, they have their strengths and their weaknesses but those weaknesses are diminishing every day. Unlike magic or a sword, it's capacity is not restricted by mortal flesh. As long as those who construct such weapons continue to move forward, guns will continue to grow more powerful regardless of the person holding it. I imagine a time, not so far in the future, a time that, we may even live to see. A time where those who are unable to feel the flow of magic like me, can fight on equal footing with those who can. So that battles would not be decided by the type of intelligence that someone must be born with, but the type gained by study and wisdom."

Caius flipped up his gun with a flourish and twirl, spinning in his hand over and over before shoving it into it's place at his belt.

"One day, battle will be won by tactics, strategy, study and cleverness, not by the kind of blood that runs through the general's veins or the size of the fireball he can throw. That day is coming. During the war, Antar had twenty times the men we did, and fifty times the mages! We won because we were smart, we tore them apart, we drove them into the woods and we cut them to pieces. We won, we won through intellect, cunning and knowing when to fight and when to flee. When the Antari sued for peace, they didn't accept our terms. Why? because they claimed that we fought like cowards and should have face them on the field! Where they outnumbered us! They were trying to punish us for winning against a force that would have crushed us in the open! Mark my words. There will be a day, where mage and arquebusier could face each other on the field, one a highborn noble, the other one a farm hand from a village nobody's ever heard of, and both will have the same chance at winning. They will be fighting on even footings, just as the gods intended."

The Wild Cards in the room applauded in loud measured pace as Caius, who had stood up during his speech, sat down and nodded to each of his officers present. He noted, with no surprise, that Captain von Holt was late.

"Anything else before we being the briefing?"



"Those are brave men," he told Ser Balon in admiration. "Let's go kill them."
-Tyrion Lannister, A Clash of Kings


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 Post subject: Infinity's Blades
PostPosted: 08 Aug 2008, 20:11 
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Nephie stayed silent. Caius was right, of course, but in her mind, guns were still the bane of the earth. There was so much harm they could do if they were in the wrong hands. And if people could create these weapons, what would be next? Giant explosions inside tiny balls that could wipe out entire forests? No. She would never let that happen. Equality was needed, but not in the way Caius was talking about.

Their weaknesses are diminishing every day. Great. What would happen when they no longer had a weakness, and every army was equipped with them? When they fought, war would no longer be decided by strength and strategy, but by who had the most advanced killing machine.

Nephie shuddered delicately, her movements small enough that few would notice, and then she leaned forward, resting her elbows on the table, and waited for Caius to begin.


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Cassius immersed himself in Nurich's brain, literally becoming the other man as their brains magically mingled. Of course, Nurich could not explore Cassius mind, as one could compare the experience to Cassius wearing Nurich's mind as a glove. So really, Nurich was along for the ride through his own memories, some of which he would undoubtedly be experiencing for the first time.
Cassius felt the excruciating pain of the Vykkian exercise he had been run through, the cradled warmth of Nurich’s mothers touch, the bite of a cold Antar winter, the warmth of a stake out campfire, the blood flow from various wounds, and more. The memories were a skim through for Cassius’ view point. He experienced Nurich’s anger at Vykkia’s enemies and his near bloodlust at the thought of disposing them (and a more recent memory of the reverse, as he came with Nurich to realize his hate of Vykkia itself), the disappointment of early failures, the sting of rejection from society, and the feelings of desire for someone who would never return the feelings. Cassius paid no regard to the fact that as he brushed through these, Nurich was probably reliving each and every one in rapidly displayed, but nonetheless vivid detail and frightening reality. He had only to find one event, and soon he found it.

Cassius, experiencing the event through Nurich’s eyes and limbs, watched the scene of sinister intentions unfold. He himself was lightly restrained a chair. He could have probably broken out, but he had no desire to, for the few people around him were his mentors, very loyal Vykkian mages who had raised him with an undying loyalty foremost in his mind. Though, Cassius noted everything was slightly out of focus, blurred, distorted. Nurich must have been under the influence of a drug or spell of some sort, to make him drowsy, if not totally unconscious.
The four men in nondescript brown robes were gathered about in a semi-circle in front of him, and in front of them in turn, was a small pedestal with a plate of smoldering embers laying atop it. They must have been chanting or reciting some spell, but he couldn’t quite make out what it was. It seemed to drag on for agonizing hours inside the memory. Slowly, the failing embers in the plate started growing into a flame, growing steadily until it was a raging inferno keeping the mages at a good 3 meters away, the flames feasting on non-existent wood and paper. And a figure was forming in it. It was much larger than the mages, though the apparently weren’t the tallest people around to compare heights to. The creature was a dark red hue similar to the flame that it stood in unscathed, with twin peaks on its head that must have been horns. It spoke, and though Cassius/Nurich still couldn’t make out the words, but its voice boomed through the room, seeming to echo unnaturally, as if a crowd of people were all talking at once.
One of the mages took a small step forward, seeming to communicate with the…demon, yes, he was sure that’s what it was. The mage gestured toward Cassius/Nurich, and seemed to dignifiedly plead with the demon. Cassius/Nurich seemed to stir slightly as his lethargic brain tried to piece together a realization. They were bargaining over him. And it seemed the Demon was getting his way.

After a moment, they seemed to reach an agreement, and the head mage took a step back to rejoin his colleagues, who in turn parted from the flame, retreating back to the walls. The demon turned his attention to Cassius/Nurich, and took a lurching step forward. He noted with some oddly detached part of his brain, that it seemed oddly quiet for such a large creature, making no discernable sound as it took heavy steps toward him. When it finally reached his resting place, Cassius/Nurich caught a frightening clarified view of the demon as it leaned forward to inspect him, and Cassius/Nurich’s fear finally increased enough to bring him into full wakefulness. The maroon demon had tusks that jutted from its lower jaw, and twin ivory horns stained a light yellow emerging from above its ears and curling to the top of his skull. It’ bloodshot, yellow eyes stared deep into Cassius/Nurich, and the part of Cassius that was still a detached observer felt a very small, never noticed part of him withdraw slightly. It felt as if the demon actually was looking through Nurich into him.
And then, the demon glanced down, and brought up a hand with long, pointed, yellowed nails to Cassius/Nurich’s throat. The demon took his index finger and thumb and seemed to pluck something from inside Nurich’s throat, something that looked to Cassius/Nurich like a small point of yellow light. There was a moment of intense pain in that spot, but it resided very quickly, and only seconds afterward he wondered if it had actually been there.
And then, it was over. The demon took several quick steps back to the flame, which seemed to implode in as it stepped into it. Nurich fainted, and for just a short while, Cassius was left in darkness, as Nurich’s eyes rolled back and closed, but his other senses continued to feed information to the non-receptive brain. Cassius felt Nurich’s body being released from the gentle restraint, and hands inspecting his throat. It must have been the mages, seeing the handiwork of the demon. Cassius caught a few words.
[i]“Voice…worth it…no damage…should be increased…payment is done…â€



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Nurich gasped. He was right- this delving was much stronger than the others to which he had been submitted. He soon regained mental balance, however, recovering quickly. As he steadied, unbidden memories came bubbling up from his mind....

He was a little boy, attending to his studies. His master stood out in the hallway, talking to a strange cloaked figure. Who was he? Didn't matter. But what were they talking about? It must be important to draw his master away from the lab. He snuck over to the doorway, listening.
"The boy is not progressing, my lord. He is stuck. I do not think that he is worthy of our time. If we were instead working on that new fireball I suggested..."
"The boy will do fine. We must rely on that. If this comes through, Verti, he will be a great asset to our military. We must not give up!"
"But my lord..."
"Enough. You will continue activities until told otherwise."
"Yes, my lord..."

He was bigger, almost ten, and his master was called again outside by a cloaked figure. He had more self-control now, but when Verti was out of the room for almost a quarter of an hour, Nurich began to worry. What had gone wrong? He snuck over again to the doorway, listening like he had five years ago.
"And that, my lord, is why he is a complete waste of time! In the ten years we have had him here, he has not progressed one bit! If you let him out on the streets, he would be indistinguishable from the other boys!"
"Patience, Verti."
"Patience?! You have told me to have patience for ten years, my lord. Ten years! I cannot abide this any longer." His master turned to leave, but his arm was caught by the cloaked figure.
"Are you deserting, Verti? You know the penalty for deserting."
"No, my lord."
"Good. Then you will get back in there and continue to work on the boy."
"Yes, my lord.'
"I want you to resume to normal. He must not know that anything is wrong."
"No, my lord."
"Then go."
Verti came back in, and Nurich hurriedly busied himself with a beaker.
"You, Nurich, come over here." Nurich obeyed immediately, like he had been taught to do. He trotted over to Verti, and the man suddenly threw him to the floor, rage in his eyes.
"You, boy," he snarled, "Have caused me more trouble than any apprentice. You almost got me killed just now. Do you understand?"
Nurich nodded fearfully.
"Well, let's make sure."
Verti selected a thin river cane switch from a rack on the wall and roughly directed Nurich towards a chair. Nurich didn't even try to stop the blows. He was used to punishment now, since he had been in the tower, they had punished him severely. He was told it was because of bad behavior, but he knew differently...


All these memories and more flashed by Nurich's eyes in an instant, yet with each one he was reliving them in full. He felt the sting of the cane on his back, felt the room spin as the drug took effect, felt the sharp tightening in his throat as the demon took his voice. When Cassius suddenly withdrew and stopped the mind probe, he spasmed, back arching up above the bed, gasping for breath, and he calmed himself in time to hear Cassius ask "You haven't told anyone else about this since you got here, have you?"
Nurich shook his head. He had not spoken of it to anyone in years.

Except for Sol.

He hurriedly pulled out a scrap piece of parchment and scrawled Sol before handing it to Cassius, waiting for a reaction.



Living in the limelight, the universal dream for those who wish to seem.
Those who wish to be must put aside the alienation,
Get on with the fascination,
The real relation,
The underlying theme.

The World From Here


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 Post subject: Infinity's Blades
PostPosted: 09 Aug 2008, 19:35 
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Caius nodded. Taking a look around the table, he could see that all the officers and non-coms were present, with the exception of the special unit's Cassius von Holt. That really wasn't going to be as much of a problem aas it would normally. Cassius and his mage-artificiers would be close enough to him for him to give orders directly. Anything else Caius could fill in for him personally the next day on the way to the field.

Standing up, the Captain-General cleared out a large space on the tables in front of him. At the other side of the room, the old innkeeper got the impression that it would not be wise for him to do anything suspicious. Bowing lightly, the old man got up and shuffled up the stairs to his own room. Caius looked to a pair of recently arrived cavalry sergeants and nodded at them. Nodding back, the two quicly moved around the room, shuttering and locking the heavy window shutters. Any eavesdroppers from the outside would now be lucky enough to hear anything at all. The two sergeants returned to the door, pulling free their pistols.

The mercenary commander extended his hand to his second in command, a lanky leftenant dressed in a plain Terran cavalry officer's tunic, minus the insignia.

"Leftenant Hawkins, if you'd please."

Hawkins nodded and reached into a long, thin leather pouch, pulling out a very large parchment map, folded into a thin wooden case. Pulling out the map, he unfurled over the cleared space like a housewife spreading a quilt. Spreading the parchment smooth, several of the others around the table took hold of the edges of the maps and pulled it taut. With a quick nod from the Captain-General, Hawkins and his aide-du-camp began picking up the small figurines at the edge of the table. Atleast two or three eyebrows shot up when they realised that most of the pile of arquebusier models had been taken. When Hawkins and his assistant finished, they were arrayed in a line along the big map; a meticulously scaled contour map of the entire island, so well detailed that the buildings of Azulae were individually drawn.

"Three weeks ago, the viceroy of Azulae petitioned the regency council of Terra to send a regiment of the regular army to deal with a matter of national security. The viceroy had believed that the Antari were planning to land troops on the side of the island opposite the city proper to put enough pressure on the Azulonians to break trade ties with Terra and align themselves with the Antar League. The regency council were unable to spare any regular troops, instead they sent us. There were several conditions to our hiring. The nobles up in the central keep throught they could cut some corners, they gave us two conditions. The first was that we would have to provide our own transport, the second was that we could only demand in payment what we could carry in silver back to Terra. I hope that will provide you with an adequate explanation on why we only brought half the company?"

Chuckles went around the table. Unlike most mercenary companies, who paid on commission, the Legion actually gave it's troops regular salaries. Of course, that didn't mean that the legion didn't pay out bonuses. As the laughter faded, Caius continued along his briefing.

"In the meantime, the situation has changed. About three days ago two Antari cogs appeared off the north coast. They landed six hundred soldiers of the Antari regular army. Unlike a normal regiment, which would consist mostly of hussars and peasant levy, this one is an experimental force. Most of the troops, as you would notice, are light infantry. They are a new type, armed only with a shortsword and a runegun arquebus. Duke Warburton of Royal Intelligence says that the Antari call them "streltsi", That means "musketeer" in terran. I don't suppose the risks and rewards need to be underlined too much; if we lose, the Antari will be able to forge their army into a nearly unstoppable force. If we succeed, we shatter their confidence in new weaponry, not to mention the fact that we'll capture a whole lot of very expensive runeguns."

Caius reached across the table to pick up a set of figurines painted blue. These always represented the legion on the maps. He placed five of the archer figures behind a ridge on one side of the red gunmen figurines, and another fire blue archers in an area on the other flank, marked as a dense forest.

"To maximise their effect, they have been trained to advance in a thin, three rank line at walking pace. 5th platoon will split and wait in ambush on the flanks. I'll lead a small party of riders to lure them into this location, our light troops will fire from cover, supported by the special unit. To make their fire worth anything at all, they'll have to split their line to deal with attack from both sides."

The Captain-General put down the eight blue horsemen figurines representing his own cavalry unit facing the centre of the Antari line.

"The second their line breaks, I will signal the charge. The Wild Cards will ride up, discharge pistols and charge with lances before closing with swords. When the Antari turn back to engage us, the light infantry will draw swords and charge. That way, we'll have them pinned, encircled and demoralized. From there, our individual skill at arms should be ample to carry the day. It was never failed me before, and I doubt it will fail us this time. I have full confidence in your ability to grasp victory from this stage onwards.

Caius sat back down, leaving the figurines on the table.

"Any questions?"



"Those are brave men," he told Ser Balon in admiration. "Let's go kill them."
-Tyrion Lannister, A Clash of Kings


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 Post subject: Infinity's Blades
PostPosted: 09 Aug 2008, 19:54 
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As Caius spoke, Nephie picked out the pieces meant for her and stored them in her head for later reference. The rest she listened to, but didn't remember as strongly as the parts that pertained to her. As long as she did was she was supposed to, everything would turn out fine. She laughed softly at the comment about the silver. More room on the ship, more room for silver, I suppose. When Caius finished, she nodded, and spoke.

"When will this be taking place?"


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 Post subject: Infinity's Blades
PostPosted: 09 Aug 2008, 20:19 
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Caius looked up.

"Tomorrow. We'll leave the city at dawn, muster will be on the field outside the city at eight of the clock. We're assume positions by noon. The battle proper should be over within two hours. If we are extrodinarily lucky and all goes to plan, we'll be back in the city by nightfall, and we'll be able to sleep aboard ship tomorrow."



"Those are brave men," he told Ser Balon in admiration. "Let's go kill them."
-Tyrion Lannister, A Clash of Kings


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