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/tg/ - Traditional Games

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Alright. So about this time last year I started a small story on /tg/ about a Knight who wound up in a rather ridiculous adventure involving dragons, maids, harems, and a dark artifact from an ancient wizard. I managed to keep the story going until around December when life interfered. I made a small return in February, but that thread never went anywhere.

My question is, is anyone still interested in the story?

First Thread: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive/27693404/
Other Threads: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive.html?tags=Knight%20of%20the%20Realm
Yes, yes we are.
Oh hey, I remember this. The elvish princess was always my favorite.
I vaguely remember this so maybe?
I guess that's a tentative yes then.

I'm probably going to go back a ways just because my last attempt at starting up a thread got nowhere.
Oh boy, I check /tg/ before bed and this pops up! Awesome.
You're awesome, KotR, and I remember you fondly. I guess I'll have to read in the archives though.
[Continuing where http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive/28760492/ Ended]

The assembly immediately placed their hands to their brow in salute. I immediately noticed a problem, half of the soldiers were saluting in the traditional Dwarven manner, palm facing down. The other half were using the Elven salute, palm facing out. I sighed and turned to Sieghild, "This is my fault. I should have taken a more active role in coordinating the units. For our purposes, we'll use the Dwarven salute, it's identical to what the Realm uses so I prefer it. Go inform Rina and then correct the men and try again."

After a bit of work correcting the men, Rina called everyone to attention again. This time everyone saluted the same way. With that settled, Rina and Sieghild turned to me and gave their own salutes. Rina called out, "Sir, the Battalion is Formed!"

At those words I marched out to the head of the formation. Turning to face the group, I returned their salute and bellowed "Order, Arms!"

As everyone lowered their salutes and returned to attention, I began the process of marching the group back to the barracks. I rode alongside the soldiers on Arkhip. When we arrived at the barracks, I dismissed the men to give them a break and called Rina and Sieghild into a meeting in the architect's tent which I had commandeered for the meeting.

It wasn't long before I heard Sieghild and Rina outside. "Enter," I said.
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The two of them entered, marching in a line and stood side by side in front of the desk I was borrowing and saluted. Sieghild spoke, "Sir, Captains Sieghild and Rina reporting as ordered."

"At ease. Sit down." When they did so I continued, "So. I think that today went well. The men are good at the drills and seem well trained. I appreciate the amount of work that you two must have put into this. I also would like to compliment you on how you re-standardized the group's salutes. However that leads into the primarily concern I have with the overall unit. The two of you trained each Company separately, didn't you? That's why the salute issue didn't come up until today. From now on, I want you to change command of the Companies for one day of each week. Then I want you to write down any issues that arise and bring them to me at the end of each day. We can then come up with a plan to solve those issues. Apart from that, Barbute Company seems to be less well trained than Armet Company, which is to be expected considering what I asked of you. On a final point, I'd like to say that you did exceptionally well in the time I was gone. Good job. Do you have any questions or concerns to bring up to me?"

Sieghild shook her head but Rina spoke, "Well Felìcita was a little worried. She said that you seemed more cold and impersonal than normal."

I smiled, and realized that it was probably the first time I did so all day. "Tell her that commanders aren't supposed to have personal relationships with those under their command. Since that is impossible, I can at least pretend not to during the time that we're working. Also let her know that she did well today and that I appreciate it."

Rina smiled, "Will do. We have some more drills to do today, but we'll see you tonight at dinner, right?"

"Of course. See you then."

"Also, one more thing, Sir Knight. What should your rank be?"
"...General. The army doesn't quite warrant it yet, but it would save trouble later."

Later that evening I found myself talking with Eva about the day. She asked me, "So how were the guards doing today? Is it safe to send out the invitations to the other nobles yet?"

I slowly nodded, "Barbute Company needs more practice marching and I'd like to do some practice on parades and review formations but they seem to be doing well enough. I'd also like to send out some messages of my own, to Albero Città, Hammerburg and the Realm. If we could get support from them, we might be able to sway more nobles than we would with just our demonstration."

Eva shook her head, "A good idea, but I have to say… you certainly set things up quickly. You already have multiple companies ready?"

"Sieghild and Rina did most of the work, but yes."

"You really are something? Aren't you?"

"Not really. It's really the people around me who are special. On that note, can you tell me about Zimneye Solntsestoyaniye?"

Eva looked surprised, "Are you looking to thank someone in a special way? Well... there are several traditional gifts to give someone." She then took on a sing-song voice and recited a rhyme, "Some little pride, some little shame, a little ice, a little flame, a brand new tool, a little gear, and something that will bring a tear." She looked at me expectantly before explaining, "It basically means something to remind the person of something that they are proud of, something to remind them of an old shame, something that is purely useful even if it's not wanted, something passionate, two items that relate to the person's profession, and something sentimental and emotionally important to them."

"So seven gifts per person?"

"Yes, one for each day of the festival. They don't have to be large gifts, usually a small token gesture is sufficient for all but the closes of friends and family."
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"Hrmmm… Are there any large towns nearby? I might pick up some things for everyone…"

"Why yes. Gorod is nearby, only a short ride away. They have a decent market."

I obtained directions from Eva and we decided to sent the messages out tomorrow. With any luck, at the end of the festival we'll have a meeting with the major noble houses. Now all I have to worry about is what to give my companions…

I'll update you again when I finish with all this business.
Dear Journal,

The last few days have been quite interesting to say the least. I spent several days after my last journal entry working with the soldiers, training them in parade drills and supervising the rest of the proceedings. On day five, a messenger from the castle ran up to me and told me to return castle as soon as possible.

I rode up there with all speed and hurried into the halls. I was met by Eva and a small army of servants who quickly set about polishing my boots and armor to a gleam. Confused I turned to Eva, "What's going on?"

"Some of our guests have started arriving."

"Already? I thought we were meeting at the end of the festival?"

"Well… the meeting is, but Lady Uliana of House Rada and I have a tradition of meeting during this time of the year. We're old friends actually…"

"I see. It would be a pleasure to meet her then."

"Yes, but we also have some unexpected guests too."

I began to grow worried, "Unexpected guests? Who are they?"

Eva smiled to dispel my fears, "Nothing unpleasant, but those letters that you sent out to your allies have begun to pay fruit. Some very important visitors are here to see you."

She led me into another sitting room, inside I was surprised to see the King and Queen of Albero Città and a collection of dwarves and humans. The humans were divided into two camps, one was a collection of soldiers wearing the colors of my homeland, the other were some nobles that I assumed to be House Rada.

I greeted the King and Queen first, as was appropriate. "It is a pleasure to see you again, your majesties. To what do I owe the honor?"
The King smiled at me, "When I heard your request for military aid I was inclined to grant it, but then I read further in and saw how you desired it for both military and political purposes, so I decided to accompany the soldiers here to lend my support for your cause in person, at least for this meeting with the other nobility. I also figured that I could use the time to visit with my daughter, if she has time to spare."

"Of course, Sire. It should be easy to arrange."

"Ah. Thank you. I look forward to seeing her. But I shouldn’t take up too much of your time. I'm sure these other guests have their own concerns to attend to."

A woman dressed in the Rada colors shook her head, "Take your time your majesty. I'm in no hurry."

The King smiled at her, "I didn't have much more to say anyways. I would like to catch up with you later Sir Knight, but that can wait. May I introduce you to the lovely Lady Uliana? I understand that she is a friend of your Lady Eva?"

Lady Uliana smiled at me kindly, "It is a pleasure to finally meet the famous Sir Knight. I've heard so much about you from Lady Eva, and even more from the agents I sent to research your background. Don't look so worried, I've heard nothing but good things about you, but it is nice to finally put a face to the name I've heard so often."

I smiled back, "It is a pleasure shared Lady Uliana. I've heard a bit about you from Lady Eva as well. I look forward to working with you in this little coalition we're setting up."

"Yes indeed. And possibly in the aftermath as well…" Lady Uliana said glancing between me and Lady Eva with an expression that I couldn't quite figure out. Something equal parts conniving, playful, and friendly, with a bit of hope dashed in.
At this point a Colonel from the Realm's forces stood up extended his hand to me and spoke, "And now that the nobility has had their time, I suppose it’s a good opportunity for us common folk to speak. I'm Colonel Peyton. I've been sent by His Majesty King Charles to aid you in this mission of yours. After consulting with his seers and other agents, he has decided that this quest is of sufficient worth to justify his support. I'm to command the soldiers of the Realm in this campaign and report on the progress and conduct back to His Majesty. On a personal note, I'm very grateful to be here, it'll be a pleasure to work with the Hero of Magie Mur."

I accepted his handshake but sighed, "I never really felt that I deserved that title, but it will be a pleasure to work with you as well, I'm sure."

As I finished with the Colonel, the dwarves stood up. "Good day, Sir Knight. I am Aufseher Meinard. I am a member of the Clan Wache. I am here in response to your request to aid you and our family members Siegbert and Sieghild. I would like to confer with them soon if possible."

"Of course Aufseher. I can show you to them as soon as we're done here."

A second dwarf, older than the other by far and with a beard tinged with gray, came forward too, "And I am Wolfgang."

"No title, Mr. Wolfgang?"

"Heh. None that I use these days. I just tagged along to see my niece and nephew. When we're done with this meeting, mind if I tag along?"

"By all means Mr. Wolfgang. It will be a pleasure."
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The rest of the meeting was spent with me describing the current outline of the plans and getting to know the military officials brought by the various factions. Afterwards I took the King and Queen, the military officials, and the dwarves down to the barracks and training fields to begin integrating their forces with our own. I gave Felìcita, Sieghild, and Siegbert the day off to spend with their relatives and took personal charge of the soldiers for the rest of the day.

That evening, before retiring for the night, I passed by the castle library. Inside I heard Eva and Lady Uliana talking. Uliana was asking Eva something, "So... you think that he might make a good candidate?"

"Huh? I didn't say anything about that-"

"Come on Eva. We've known each other for ages. I can tell what you're thinking."

I was surprised to hear Martina next, "A candidate for what exactly?"

Eva stammered, "It - it's nothing, Martina. Just some ancient history. And Uliana, even if I was interested, his... companions might cause a bit of a scandal."

Martina exclaimed, "Hey!" clearly offended.

"Nothing personal, Martina. Just well... you know..."

Uliana sighed, "Eva... at a time like this, anyone would do. And there has been precedent..."

"Precedent for what?" Martina insisted.

"It's nothing, Martina."

"If she doesn't tell you, I will later."
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I quietly left, confident that whatever they were talking about, it would make my life more complicated somehow.

The next day, I woke up early and drafted a memo for Sieghild and Rina regarding their orders for that day, saddled up Arkhip, and rode into Gorod for the day. As I entered the town, I immediately felt more comfortable as I entered. I always liked large towns. They are more welcoming than small villages, and less imposing than cities.

Gorod was a very traditional town, with a bustling market and many small shops. I pulled out a small list I made earlier and began to read it. "Hmmm..." I said to myself, "Some little pride. Let's see..."

My first stop was to a small town library. While it was nothing compared to the Monasheskiy Library, it was large enough to have a small section on dwarven culture. A few hours later and I was commissioning two specific hairpieces and a minor trophy from a local blacksmith, I picked one who was evidently dwarven-trained for authenticity. After that I found a weapons dealer to purchase a special scabbard and a dagger, a strange wizards' shop where the proprietor convinced me that a particularly expensive magic ring was what I wanted, a jeweler's where I picked up a tiara, a message service where I sent an expedited message to Albero Città requesting several items, and I finished off with a trip to the outskirts of town where I picked up some wilderness survival gear.
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As I reentered town I looked at the next items on my list, "Some little shame." This would be fun. My first stop was a return trip to the Wizards' Shop where the smiling storekeeper was pleased to sell me another expensive magic item, from there I made a trip to a costumers store, a return to the blacksmith's to procure a small hammer and weapon maintenance supplies, a Fletcher's where I obtained a broken arrow at almost no cost and an intact bodkin as well, I was tempted to purchase a pair of boots to muddy them up but decided against it and purchased a set pair of fishnet stockings instead, I already sent a message back to the elves so I went to a hobby shop to pick up a ship in a bottle, and a bookstore where after a little searching I found what I was looking for.

Then it was on to item three, "some little ice," which should be easy at least. Or not. Evidently the point of this gift was to help with a problem the recipient had that it would otherwise be socially awkward to point out. I'm not sure whether it's because I pry or because my companions are generally improving on their own, but they don't have many faults that I could work with, and those they did have were improving on their own. I settled on returning to the magic shop again and picking up some trinkets for everyone. I settled on procuring several Charms of Confidence, Friendship, Wisdom, and Decisiveness and decided to distribute them accordingly.
Next I set out to procure a "little flame." This necessitated a trip to a leatherworker for an… unusual harness that I was eventually able to persuade the storekeeper to make at a great cost, a costumer for a more… impractical version of a maid's outfit, a stone carver for a carved stein, an exotic imports store for some body oils, a pet shop for a leash and collar, a bardic hall where I was able to make a small commission, a brewery to pick up some beers, a general store where I purchased a spyglass, and a dressmaker's to procure a new gown. After some consideration, I swapped out Rina's fishnets from "Shame" for a small… lewd carving and placed the fishnets with the other "flame" items.

Next I moved on to "a brand new tool," and "a little gear." The first step was to buy everyone their own journal. That would cover one day and give them something to do as well. I think Siegbert already started his own, but he appears to be keeping it on loose sheets of paper. After buying the journals, I returned yet again to the magic shop to purchase several scrolls and tons of alchemical supplies, some armor oil and new thief's tools from a general store, and finally a messenger pigeon rounded out the day.

After finishing with the shopping I found a tavern and took a hour for a very late lunch while I thought about what to do next. I was supposed to find "Something that will bring a tear," or something deeply personal and emotional for the person. What was I supposed to do for that? It could mean anything from a wedding ring to an old toy that the recipient used to play with as a child, I didn't even know my companions as children and as much as I love my friends, there is far too much chaos in my current life to plan for the future. As I finished my Porter and beef stew, I thought about things to come, the Golden Saber, Isocrates, and the damage they had done to those I cared about. Suddenly it hit me, I knew just what to get everyone.
I'm posting these from the copy on my computer, so let me know if something doesn't track right, It probably means I forgot to copy paste a section.


I returned to the messenger service and walked up to the proprietor. "I'm going to need your best trained bird, I have an important message to send."

"Yes Sir. Where will this one be heading to?"

"A location not marked on any of your maps. I can provide directions, but that is all."

The man looked at me suspiciously, but agreed. I sat in the back room as he was preparing the bird and wrote my message down. I stayed around long enough to watch the bird take off towards the distant mountains before I left to return to Eva's Castle.

I returned later that evening and explained that I had to run some errands that day. Of course everyone immediately guessed that I was shopping for festival gifts and spent the rest of the evening pestering me for hints.

When I finally retired for bed, it was quite late. I had just began to remove my armor when the glow of the fireplace suddenly turned a purplish black color, lighting the room in eldrich light. As I reached for my blade, a figure of smoke stepped out of the fire, rapidly growing to the size of a tall man before coalescing into a recognizable form.

"Good evening Sir Knight, I believe that you needed to speak with me?" the figure said.
"Yes I did. Thank you for coming, Councilman Regulus."

"Yes... I must admit that I was somewhat surprised to find a messenger bird on my doorstep but I suppose I should have expected you to remember the way. What did you want Knight?"

"I am formally informing you that the Oath of Loyalty cast on me has been dispelled... by Isocrates."

I studied Regulus' face carefully before continuing, "You knew, didn't you?"

"I had no idea that the Oath was dispelled and -"

"No. About Isocrates. Don't try to deny it."

Regulus grew icy cold with anger, the magic transmitting his presence actually chilling the room as he spoke, "I. Knew. Nothing." he paused, calming down before continuing, "However, yes I did suspect something like that."

I found myself growing angry, unlike Regulus, this was a hot anger. I seethed, "You should have told us. People have died because of that bastard!"

Regulus shrugged, "Would knowing have made a difference? I doubt it."

"I don't know! At least we could have warned people better!"

Regulus sighed, "Is this all you wrote to me for? To shout about what I supposedly should and shouldn't have done? If so, goodbye Knight."

As he turned back to the fireplace, I growled at him, "Stop right there. You might not have done the right thing, but you will help fix that now," and then I began to list my requests, no my demands to the Chairman of the Dragonmoot Council. I concluded with "and those are my demands. You will fulfill them."

"Oh? And why would I do that? I merely didn't inform you of a baseless suspicion that I had. Why should I be held to blame for that?"

I realized that he was right, I was being irrational and I knew it. However...
"That is probably true. However you will help nevertheless."

"I repeat, why would I do that? Some misplaced sense of altruism perhaps?"

I smiled, "No, because I have this." I said raising Isocrates' Rod.
We looked at each other for a moment before Regulus started chuckling, "I'm sorry Knight. A good try but I have been watching you for some time. You would never allow yourself to use that power, you have too many ethics to do so."

I smiled, "You misunderstood me Regulus. I won't force you to do it. You will do it of your own free will, because you can't afford not to. You want the Rod destroyed, you need the Rod destroyed. And you don't know if the small benefits to moral and the additional support they would bring will make a difference or not. For all you know, it could be the difference between victory and defeat. You can't afford to take that risk."

There was a long frozen silence at that. Finally after what seemed like an eternity Regulus spoke, "You're right. Very well Sir Knight. Those requests are mostly within our ability to provide however, about the spellcasting service... the subject of the spell can't have been gone for over a year. That may eliminate some potential candidates. We will obtain the subjects and return on the appointed day. Goodbye Sir Knight, don't push your luck like that again with me."

"Thank you for your tolerance, Councilman. You can inform your peers that I still will carry out my mission to the best of my abilities."

"Abilities greater than I gave you credit for. Maximus will be pleased to hear that Martina is in such good hands."

With that Regulus turned around and walked back into the fireplace and disappeared from the room. With an audible snap the fire regained its normal warm hue and the room returned to normal. However, sleep was a long time coming.
Dear Journal,

The week of the festival was… interesting I suppose. I'd better start from the beginning. The night before the festival started, there was a religious ceremony. The one held at the castle was presided over by Lady Eva herself who gave a rather nice homily on the importance of friendship and camaraderie. One particular part stood out to me, "It is said that no man is an island, that each of us are connected to our surroundings as though part of the same continent. However I feel that that is an oversimplification. Land masses such as islands and continents are unchanging, unmoving, unthinking, and unfeeling. It is more fair to say that each of us are shipwrecked mariners, drifting in the ocean with only a handful of boards to float on, The gods gave us mariners the ability to work with each other, we can either use that to build a grand ship that is more effective than the sum of its parts, or we can stay separate, drifting alone in the dark ocean. I would like to thank my own fellow sailors for joining themselves with me to build a craft that can carry this entire nation into a prosperous future."

The next morning we woke up for a large breakfast and went down into Gorod to watch the festivities. The entire town was alive with celebration, there were entertainers, parades, plays and performances of all kinds, and more. We decided on seeing a mystery play and I was able to enjoy the rare experience of a noble's box seats. The play was quite good, even if the combination of religious messages and irreverent comedy struck me as odd.

After the play, Eva and Lady Uliana lead us to an upscale restaurant where we got ready for lunch. As we ate, I pulled out the bottomless bag and began to retrieve gifts from inside it.
"Siegbert, this is for you first. I had this crafted special for you, but let me know if there are any problems with it." I slid a dwarven beard bead over across the table to the dwarf, "You know what it's for, but I'll let you decide whether or not to share it."

Sieghild looked at the bead curiously, "A defender's bead? What did Siegbert do to warrant that? Err… no offense brother."

Siegbert looked quite smug, "None taken dear sister… I think this is a good time to let you in on a little story…" and with that he launched into the tale of how he became an alchemist, first earned Michi's enmity and protected Sieghild's honor. When he was done, Sieghild was staring in a mix of surprise, glee, and horror. She was silent for several minutes until I slid a hair bead of her own to her.

"A bead for excellence in command? Whatever for Sir Knight?"

"I took it upon myself to award you it, for your actions in Albero Città."

Sieghild shook her head vehemently, "What actions? I didn't do anything of real significance while I was there."

"Whatever you think of your abilities as a commander, you did an excellent job when I was captured. You took command of the group and used everyone to their best abilities, planned out an excellent mission, and rescued me. You earned it, I insist."

Sieghild smiled a little, "Well… if you insist… can you help me put it on?"
I smiled and gently added the bead to the end of her braids, retying the knot at the end before laying it over her shoulder so she could see it at the end of her hair. Sieghild smiled again, "Th-thank you, Sir Knight…"

"Think nothing of it Sieghild. You deserve it."

Next I pulled out a small trophy, one of a shield fragment with a piece of chain on it and passed it to Rina. "This one is for you, Rina. Can you guess what it's about?"

"I'm going to go with that duel you had with General Zinoviy. I can't say I did much during that time, but I suppose I did help you a little with unbalancing him…"

"And you did it while chained up and unarmed. Don't think of it as some little thing, Rina. And also use it to remind yourself of everything that came after, you then went on to drive General Zinoviy out of the city and put out his eye, the only reason that I didn't put an eyeball skewered by an arrow on there was because it would be a bit gauche."

Rina smiled, "Fair enough, Sir Knight… and thank you for the gift, it was quite thoughtful."

"You're welcome Rina. Now Felìcita, finding a gift for you for today was a little problematic. You see… I already gave you that elven saber from that nobleman a few months ago as recognition of your improved abilities… so today you get a new scabbard to accompany it. I just want you to remember how far you've come and how well you have done."

Felìcita was beaming and practically jumped across the table to hug me as I gave her the scabbard, "Thank you Master Knight!"

"It was nothing really."

Turning to Nadja, I proffered an exquisitely crafted dagger, "Part of me feels that giving you this is a mistake, but you've earned a little trust for how much you've helped us. When we first met, you attacked me from ambush and nearly killed me. Not many people can say that. This knife is called a Rondel Dagger."
Oh wow. Did not expect to ever see this again.
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"Yes they are, I have one of my own in fact. However I think that you'd enjoy the weapon for the same reason that I do, the entire dagger is designed to penetrate the joints, visor and other weak spots of heavy armor. The next time you go up against an armored foe, it might be useful."

Nadja snorted, "You know, giving someone who tried to kill you a weapon to do the job better isn't necessarily the best idea," her face took on a more serious tone, "I do appreciate the gift, however I appreciate the trust implied by it even more. Thank you, Knight…"

"Welcome, Nadja. Now, Aimèe, I didn't get you anything quite as utilitarian, but I hope you'll appreciate it anyhow." As I said that, I slid a small package over to her, puzzled she opened up the package and pulled out a small set of keys.

Looking curiously at me Aimèe asked, "Keys? I'm not sure I get it…"

I smiled, "Look at the symbol on the keys."

"Isn't this the Albero Città crest?"

I nodded and Aimèe continued, "By any chance are these the keys from the Albero Città jail?"

I smiled, "Yes they are. You managed to get into that jail and rescue me that night in the city. You deserve a memento of it."

Aimèe leaned over to kiss my cheek, "Awww… Thanks, Sir Knight."
I said I would be back...

I smiled back and accepted her thanks before moving on, "Veila, now your gift is in the same vein as Aimèe's."

I passed her another package, similar to the last one. Veila opened it and smiled, "I recognize this. This is the lock from the secret passage into the castle, isn't it? Great choice, Knight!"

"Thanks. I figured it would be a good way to say thank you for all your help back there."

"You've already thanked me enough, but I always enjoy hearing it again…"

I returned Veila's smile and moved on. "Gaël, this one is for you."

"Really? Thanks, I'd have gotten you something too... had I known about this holiday before today. You should have said something."

"I didn't want people to feel obligated or anything..."

At the chorus of protests to this, I continued, "and anyways, all of the support and camaraderie that I've received from you is more than thanks enough. Now quit feeling guilty and open your gift already!"

Gaël laughed and opened up his package, "Oh? A copy of Albero Città's Bardic College Performances of the Year? Very thoughtful, Sir Knight."
"Open it up. Try page 34."

Gaël opened the book and began to read quickly, "This... this is my story. The Dread Knight story... and the next one is my version of the Noble Knight story..."

I nodded, "Every year the Bardic College collects popular new stories, songs, and other performances from across Albero Città and publishes them in these annual journals. Looks like you made it twice. Congratulations."

Gaël looked stunned, "I - I don't know what to say... Thank you..."

"Think nothing of it. Boniface, this is for you. After that shipwreck, you led your crew overland to civilization, keeping them alive and safe. Hopefully that disaster won't happen again, but if it does this should help."

"An emergency survival kit? Perfect! I shall treasure it forever and place it in a honored spot in my quarters... where hopefully it'll never be removed."

A small chuckle was had at that before I cleared my throat to move in. I coughed a few times nervously before speaking again, "Eva, it's time for your gift."

With that I pulled out a small delicate box. "When I first met you, I noticed that you prefer to avoid a noble's accoutrements, instead preferring priestly garb. I don't want to take away from that, but I felt that you deserved some recognition for how well you have governed your land so far."

With that I opened up the box to reveal an tiara. Unlike the one that Lady Eva currently wore, this one was ornate, crafted of gold and silver and decorated with gems and other precious stones.
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Reactions around the table were mixed. Lady Eva gasped and tried to protest that the tiara was far too much and that she didn't need or deserve it, but it was easy to see how pleased she was underneath, the dwarves murmured and whistled in appreciation for the craftsmanship and quality, the other women gasped in astonishment and a little envy, and Lady Uliana gave me an approving wink and a thumbs up gesture behind Eva's back. When we finally "persuaded" Eva to put on the crown she looked magnificent and was given a small round of applause.

After things quieted down, I turned to Martina at my right. "And last but not least, we have your gift Martina."

As I pulled out her gift, the only sound that could be heard was Siegbert's whisper, "Is that... a ring box?"

I spoke quickly, "Let me explain before anyone jumps to any conclusions," turning to Martina I continued, "no matter how well founded they are."

I cleared my throat and kept talking, "Many if you know that Martina has been the primary researcher for this group, but I'm not sure that anyone is aware of just how valuable that skill has been to all of us. Martina's research developed the telepathy spell that allowed us to liberate Albero Città. Her research was what allowed us to discover Mr. Aldric's true identity, and her research is what led us to this land. Evidently there is a tradition common to several arcane or magic universities throughout the world that involves the awarding of a special ring to their most prominent scholars... I'm probably not qualified to do so, but I feel that Martina has more than earned it."
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With that I opened the box and revealed the Scholar's Ring. It was an ornate ring, crafted of white gold with silver runes over the band, and obviously magical. Martina held out a wavering hand, "Thank you, Sir Knight... W-would you do the honors?"

I slid the ring on her finger, despite what I'd said about not jumping to conclusions, it was obviously a very emotionally intimate moment. A few awkward moments followed, but they soon passed and the rest of the meal continued in high spirits.

After the meal we returned to the castle. Yet another feast was planned for that night and most of my companions threw themselves into preparation for it. However I had another job to do.

Leaving the brightly lit chambers halls behind, I followed a series of dimly lit corridors to a little used wing of the castle where the sounds of celebration faded away and decoration was nonexistent. I finally reached the room I was looking for. As the heavy wooden door opened I could see the inside of the room was far different from the rest of the castle. The only light came from an open arrow slit that was allowing wind and snow to blow in, chilling the room to the bone and instead of furnishings, the chamber was completely empty save for a set of dark stairs heading down.

I followed those stairs down to a lower level under the castle. This subterranean tunnel was even darker than the last room, lit only by a few torches along the walls. Reaching the end of the corridor, I opened the heavy door and entered the small room beyond. Four guards, the best and most skilled men in the castle stood to attention as I entered. I nodded my acknowledgement to them and proceeded to the small cell that they were guarding.

"So... are you ready to talk yet, Lieutenant Faina?"
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The woman, now lacking her iconic golden armor, snorted in derision. "You don't torture me, you don't deny me food, water, or sleep, and you somehow expect me to break and talk about Golden Saber secrets?"

I shook my head, "You will eventually. You're not getting out of here without helping us. Eventually you'll realize that. And I can be patient until then."

I pulled up a stool and pulled out the folded sheet of paper that I had prepared. "I'm going to ask you some questions now. Answering all of them to the best of your ability will help secure your release."

Faina just smirked at me so I continued.

"One. Your name is Faina, correct?"

The woman burst out laughing, a surprisingly musical laugh, "That's the kind if questions you are asking? And here I thought that they would be important questions. Yes, that is correct."

I hid my irritation and continued, "Two. Is it true that you hold the rank of Lieutenant in the Golden Saber Mercenaries?"

Another laugh, "Yes, it is. Is this interview about the Golden Saber or is it about me?"

I fought down another surge of annoyance. "Three. You are the only female member of the Golden Saber that I have observed. How common are women in the organization?"

"What's a matter Knight? Don't you already have enough of your own?"

I shook my head and forced my anger to settle before continuing, "The point being, women are rarely treated well by your comrades. You on the other hand have not only risen to officer rank, but the other soldiers seem to fear you somewhat. So we come to the next question. Four. Who are you really?"

There was no laugh at this question, instead Faina became sullen, "I'm done answering questions. You can leave."

I stood up and brushed myself off, "Very well. We'll try again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, until we have the information we need. Good day Lieutenant."
>I said I would be back...
There's a long list of people that say that. A very a long list. Though two names, now three, can be taken off it. For a time at least.
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I returned to the upper chambers and met Aimèe in the hallway, "Sir Knight! There you are. We were looking for you."

"Sorry Aimèe. I was just checking on our prisoner. I don't suppose you've had the chance to make any connections in the local underworld?"

"No Sir Knight, we've been too busy. I'll see what I can do though. What did you want in particular?"

"I was just wondering if you couldn't find out any more information on Lieutenant Faina. I suspect there is more to her than we know."

Aimèe nodded solemnly. "I'll see what I can do. In the meantime, come with me. The feast is about to start! We don’t want to miss it!"

"I don't know how anyone could still be hungry after all the feasts we've had lately. Isn't this land supposed to be in a famine or something?"

Aimèe shrugged, "Evidently these past few months were unusually productive. Everyone wants to make the most of it while it lasts."

The feast was jubilant and lasted long into the night. For me the highlight of the night was Lady Eva explaining to the others what the different days of the holiday were and what they represented. The look on everyone's face when they found out that tomorrow would be about embarrassing them was quite enjoyable.

The next day started with yet another large meal before we traveled into town. The festivities were in full swing and the streets were packed with tents and booths, each one offering either foodstuffs, hand crafted trinkets, or games of chance.
After some brief discussion, we decided to split up for a few hours to enjoy the festival before reuniting with each other at the end of the day at an open air theatre. I smiled as we went our separate ways, this would give me the opportunity to deliver everyone's "little shame" without turning it into public humiliation in front of the rest of the group.

I found Martina by a large bonfire that the town had constructed in one of their squares. She was sitting near the fire and enjoying the blaze. I sat down next to her and pulled out a small box. Martina eyed it suspiciously, "More jewelry? But isn't today supposed to be 'a little shame' or something? What's the catch?"

I chuckled as I passed her the box, "Who said that there needed to be a catch?"

Martina looked skeptical but accepted the box and opened it up to reveal a large ruby pendant, "Wow. This is really nice... it's a great gift..." suddenly her brow furrowed and her eyes glowed slightly, "...and it's enchanted to stay with me when I shapeshift isn't it?"

"You look cute when you're wearing nothing but a harness and a smile," as Martina flushed red I added, "however embarrassment suits you well too."

"Thanks..." Martina said shyly. "For what it's worth I'll still wear this, it's still a very good gift."

"You're welcome Martina. Now I need to hunt down the others and give them their gifts. I'll see you later tonight."

I found Aimée in a relatively seedy part of town where the games of chance involved more gullibility than luck, not that it mattered to Aimée, the girl had more winnings on her than I suspected was possible for purely legal play.

Instead of her normal cheerful greeting, Aimée waved me over quietly when she saw me. "Hey, Sir Knight. I was just asking around about Lieutenant Faina like you asked."

"Good initiative. I didn't mean for you to take time away from enjoying the festival though."
"It's fine, I was doing a little of both anyways. I was able to find people who were better at gathering information than they were at gambling. Some of them will do anything to get me to forgive a few debts of theirs…"

"Very clever. Thank you for doing this, it makes me feel a little bad about having to give you this gift though."

With that I handed her a box with a gift bow on it. Aimée looked at it a little apprehensively as she took it, "I suppose I should have expected this… let's see…

She reached into the box and pulled out some of the finest handwork I could find amongst the costumers of Gorod. The item in question was unmistakably supposed to be a darkened outfit for stealth, except considerably more... fitted. It wound up looking more fit for an entertainer would wear than a thief.

Aimée smiled, "Well I don't need to ask what this is for," she said as she affectionately patted the chain shirt she habitually wore nowadays. "Thanks Sir Knight."

I gave her a small kiss on the cheek before heading off, earning another smile from her and some angry looks from some of the more envious men in the area.
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After leaving Aimée, I wandered around town for a while before I heard a familiar pair of voices calling out to me. Turning to the source of the sound, I saw Sieghild and Siegbert waving me over., both were getting an early start on drinking at a tavern. Joining them at their table I greeted them and asked how they were doing.

Siegbert smiled, "Quite well Sir Knight. Quite well indeed. It's been a pleasant day. Yourself?"

"I'm doing fairly well. Just traveling around town and giving out the gifts for today."

Sieghild shook her head, "You're really going to do all seven days? You are dedicated."

I smiled at the two of them, "Well my friends really deserve the effort. Speaking of which, would you like your presents now or would you prefer later? I could always -"

Siegbert snorted, "Day of shame right? Ah well. Let's just get it over with now."

I shrugged, "Your call. Any objections Sieghild?"

The dwarf woman shook her head. "None here."

I shrugged and pulled out two long and thin boxes, handing the smaller one to Siegbert and the larger to Sieghild. "There you two go then. Enjoy."

Siegbert opened his gift up first, "Well I recognize this bolt. It's from the Nadja and those elven guards when they stuck me full of them right?"

"Yeah. I originally was intending to get you a replica, but then the actual elven royal guards showed up with the King and Queen and I was able to get an actual bolt."

"Nice. I'll keep it as a reminder. What did you get Sieghild?"

Sieghild opened her gift carefully and popped off the lid to reveal a small but well cleaned hammer. Upon seeing it, her face flushed a bright red and she inadvertently let out a squeak of embarrassment before slamming the lid closed again.

Siegbert looked confused, "Huh? What was that for? It was just a hammer, wasn't it?"

Sieghild shook her head "Brother, don't ask. Just don't."
He actually came back with drinks for the three of us and we spent the next few hours enjoying each other's company and socializing before I excused myself to find the others in time to give them their own gifts.

The next companion I found was Veila. It wasn't too hard to find her, she was at the center of a fairly large crowd. Evidently she had come across some street acrobats performing and decided to join in. Everyone involved seemed to be having a great time so I found a good spot and settled in to watch. As the impromptu performance ended to tremendous applause, I waved to Veila to let her know I was there. After she had finished accepting various forms of congratulations and turning down offers to join the acrobat troop, she ran over to me. "Hey Knight! Sorry to keep you waiting!"

"It's no problem. After seeing that performance I wish I had brought flowers. And speaking of gifts, I have yours here."

"Ooh, let's see," Veila said with feigned greed, "What is it? Gold? Jewels?" As she finished opening the box she continued, "Or a reminder that today is supposed to be about embarrassing moments? This is the painting from the entrance to the secret passages in the Albero Città Palace, isn't it?"

As I nodded she shook her head and sighed, "I never told you about how I found that entrance did I?"

"I can't say you did."

"Right. Well don't bother sitting down, it's not exactly a long story. When I decided to become a thief, I was inspired by two things. The first was poverty, no surprise there, but the second was the collection of stories I'd heard over the years from traveling bards and other performers."

I chuckled, "Not the best choice for inspiration. Bards tend to leave out... let's leave it at important details, in their stories."
Veila joined me in laughing before continuing, "Yeah. Well in every story about a criminal, well the heroic criminals at least, the rogue has a great moniker or some other form of calling card. So when I started out I figured that I needed one too."

"What did you choose?"

Veila hesitated, "Promise not to laugh?"

"You have my word."

" Alright... I decided to go with the Lipstick Larcenist. I was - Hey! You promised not to laugh!"

Struggling to keep a straight face I shook my head, "No, no. Just clearing my throat."

Veila rolled her eyes as she continued, "Right. So it was a stupid name. I was barely out of my adolescence then. So I decided to make my calling card a lipstick kiss imprint on a portrait wherever I robbed. I did fairly well and it wasn't long before I was overconfident in myself and thought I could take on the palace. Fortunately I was as lucky as I was arrogant and I actually made it into the castle. I swiped a few pewter candlesticks that I mistook for silver in the dark and then left my calling card on the portrait in the room. To my surprise, it opened a secret passage. Now, as dumb as I was then, I could at least recognize a good opportunity when I saw it. I cleaned off the lipstick to avoid leaving clues to my discovery and went off to explore the tunnels. Naturally I got lost and spent the rest of the night and much of the next morning trying to find my way out."

"And much of the next few years profiting from the discovery?"

Veila grinned, "Exactly. It's nice to see you loosen up a little Knight."

"I blame you people. Such a bad influence..."
We shared a final laugh before bidding each other goodbye and I left to find my remaining friends.

After parting ways with Veila, I wandered around the various weapons shops until I found Rina looking around. Walking up to her I said, "You know, somehow I knew that you would be here. You're not supposed to be working on your vacation you know."

"Mea culpa, Sir Knight. However this time I wasn't actually working as such. I was hoping to pick you up a little something for the holiday. Unfortunately I can't find anything here that would be better than your current equipment."

"Thank you for the thought, but it really isn't necessary. I'm already asking a lot of everyone and this is the least I could do."

"I'm going to keep an eye out anyways. So today is 'a little shame,' right? I have to admit that I'm a little nervous about what you got for me."

"Don't worry too much. Out of this group, you're the one who has kept their decorum the most. That being said, I did find something for you. You might want to open it discretely though."

"Well that doesn't raise my confidence at all. Oh well, might as well get it over with. There's a quiet spot over there. Let's open it now."

As she opened the box she smiled a little, "Oh, that's not so bad. It's just a carving man embracing a woman. What's so bad about... oh... On second glance it is clearly not a... chaste embrace. I get it now. Very funny." She gave me a weak smile.

I shrugged. "Not the most inspired gift, but you really didn't give me a lot to work with for today."

"Really? I thought that businesses with Mr. Aldric and General Zinoviy would have been a better target."
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I stiffened unintentionally and took several seconds to compose myself before answering, "What happened then was not your fault. Falling victim to those men was something that happened and you didn't get much of a say in the matter. I didn't want to imply that you had any reason to feel bad for what happened. In general, I didn't want to remind you of it for fear of stirring up unpleasant memories."

Reina's smile grew warmer, "Thanks Sir Knight, but you don't need to tip toe around the issue. I'm a grown woman. I know not to blame myself. And as for unpleasant memories? We are going to get them back, right?"

"Of course. That hasn't changed."

Rina nodded contentedly, "Good. Then that's enough for me. I trust you, Sir Knight and I know you'll do everything you can to make things right. So don't worry about bothering me, I'll be fine as long as we're together."

I was touched, I'll admit and we spent the remainder of our time together in silence, just enjoying each other's company. Eventually Rina excused herself to go hunt for presents again and I left to deliver the rest of my gifts.
Finding Felìcita wasn't much of a challenge. Visiting royalty was a rare occurrence in Gorod as one might expect, and the elven visitors were the center of a large commotion around one of the upper scale theater venues in the town. Being known to the elven guards, I was able to pass through the throngs of commoners eager to get a glimpse of royalty and actually meet with the family themselves.

I caught the Royal Family as they were exiting the theater, after the usual greetings I joined with their party as they relaxed in the foyer of the theater enjoying some coffee style drink. After a few minutes of small talk the King turned to me and asked, "So… Sir Knight, I'd imagine that you're here to deliver the gift for today. If you'd like we could leave…"

"Your majesty, it's hardly that bad. It involves the first time I met Felìcita."

Felìcita cautiously opened up her gift to reveal a bodkin arrow, snapped in half. She blushed, "Oh… that. I had almost forgotten…"

With that she explained to her parents about how she first met me and her failed attempt to ambush my group. When she got to the part where I knocked her out, her father shook his head sadly, "See that. That right there. That's why I didn't want you to join the Border Guard when I was in my right mind. You just weren't ready for it. Sir Knight, again you have my thanks for taking care of my daughter. Please continue to keep her safe and develop her training further."

"Of course, Sire. You have my word on that."

The King thanked me again and after a few more minutes of small talk we parted ways for the time being.
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By the way, who is still here?
I'm reading, but it'll take a while for me to get through all your new posts. especially since i'm going to older threads for a refresher on what's going on
I was lucky to spot Nadja when I was leaving and called out to her to stop her.

"Hello Knight. What do you need?"

"I'm glad I found you when I did. We don't know each other well enough for me to guess where you'd be."

"It wouldn't have helped. Festivals aren't really my thing. I was just wandering around to be honest."

"Yeah. Well I'd like to give you your gift for today while I have

the chance -"

"Wow. Really? You really go all in on this sort of thing. Are you seriously getting all of us a gift each day? We were enemies until a few weeks ago you know, so why are you getting me something?"

"Yeah, but the fact that we were enemies is why I really needed to get you something. You are all taking an inordinate amount of your time and placing yourselves at great personal risk on a quest that I am undertaking. I think that this is the least I could do to show my gratitude."

"Well... I suppose that's understandable if ridiculous. So what did you decide on for today? Isn't it supposed to be something embarrassing or whatnot?"

"Yeah. The problem is that we only became allies rather recently as you said. In fact I really don't know any major embarrassing things about you. I considered getting something left behind in Albero Citta by Mr. Aldric or some enchanted jewels to remind you that you initially believed him, but that seemed less like playing around and more like being deliberately hurtful."
Nadja rolled her eyes, "Well thanks for the consideration I guess. Look, I really don't need anything right now so -"

"Need? Probably not. But is there anything you want? I figured that I could at least get that for you today. I have a decent war fund built up."

"Not unless you know where I can get some training in countering heavy armor, that fancy dagger you got me is nice and all, but I don't know how much good it would do in a straight fight, with this scrap with the Golden Saber coming up I figured that I could use it."
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Nadja looked at me expectantly so I continued, "Although part of me hates the idea of teaching someone who tried to kill me how to do so successfully, I should trust you if you're going to be fighting alongside me. I've picked up a few tricks and techniques for fighting armored foes over the years. I could probably teach you them, although I can't guarantee that they'll be useful for your personal methods of combat."

"Huh. Sounds interesting. I think I'll see what I can learn, if it sounds helpful we can keep going, if not no loss."

¬¬"Sure. We can start tomorrow morning, before we head into town. That sound good to you?"

"Sounds fine here, Knight. I'll let you get back to delivering the rest of your gifts and I'll see you tomorrow."

"Thanks. See you around Nadja."
After parting ways with Najda I headed down to the lakeside docks where I was able to quickly spot Gaël and Boniface walking along the piers chatting. Boniface was telling Gaël outrageous tales about monsters at sea which the young bard was listening attentively too and occasionally interjecting to add advice about how to better embellish the tale in the future.

As Boniface saw me he stopped his tale and called out, "Well if it isn't the walking legend himself! To what do we humble mortals owe this honor?"

I smiled gently, "I'm here to spread a little holiday spirit gentlemen. In this particular case it is the spirit of gentle teasing, but nonetheless still a spirit."

The two men smiled and I retrieved their gifts from my pack.

"For you Captain Boniface, a ship in a bottle. After all, a captain should never be without a ship."

"Argh. You wound me Sir Knight! But fear not! I'm sure it won't be long before I return to my glorious nautical career!"

"Probably sooner than you think even," turning to Gaël I continued, "and for you, a little advice book I found around town."

"Romance for the Hapless? Well played Sir Knight. Well played.". His tone suggested that he was less than amused.

I shrugged, "Sorry if that seems a little harsh. For what it's worth, you are far more unlucky than hapless."

Gael's tone softened. "Ehh. It's fine. I'm just oversensitive about it. I'll give the book a read though, you never know after all."

I smiled back, "That's the spirit. Now let's get going. It is almost evening and we don't want to keep the others waiting, now do we?"

"I suppose not," Boniface said with a shrug. "We were just - Look out!"
As he cried out I whirled around and barely had time to duck as a crossbow bolt flew through the space where my head was moments before. Tracing the path of the shot back to its origin, I saw several men in Golden Saber colors exiting an alleyway and approaching us.

Before they reached us I was able to draw my sword and fasten my helmet. Beside me I could see Boniface draw his cutlass and Gaël retrieve a pair of daggers, as he drew them he turned to Boniface, "Well I'm never making fun of Sir Knight wearing armor everywhere again."

I turned slightly to Gaël, "When did you do that?"

"Mostly behind your back," Boniface said with a smile. "Heads up, there's a few more on the roof with bows."

"Why don't you two try to find a way up there so Gaël can take a bow off them and cover me?"

Gaël nodded, "Will do."

As they headed off I called out, "and try to figure out how to contact our friends while you're at it!" before turning to meet the lead soldier. He was far closer than I expected, and as I turned to deflect his attack with my armor I began to wonder if I was a bit overconfident to send off my allies that quickly.

My repost was a powerful blow with my blade's pommel that caved in the face of his helmet and dropped the soldier to the ground. I was able to turn my follow through into a thrust that dropped his partner but had to fall back to avoid being flanked by two more soldiers.
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As I fell back, I noticed more Golden Saber men coming from behind me. At the same time I heard a clash of blades from the alley where Boniface and Gaël headed. The archers had the foresight to set a rear guard this time. That confirmed a suspicion that had been building inside my mind for a while. This wasn't an opportunistic strike. These men were a kill team, specifically hunting us.

Fighting a kill team, at least a competent one, is impossible. If they know what they're doing they will have studied your tactics and techniques and developed countermeasures. The rear guard for the archers was evidence enough of that. As I examined the situation I realized that I was not going to win this fight. I was being attacked by too many people from too many sides. I tried to think back to my training for clues as to how to react. I recalled one my instructors lessons, "If you're being targeted by a kill team, you can take comfort in the fact that everything is going according to plan. Unfortunately, it's not your plan, it's theirs, and that means that its going to end with your death or worse. If you want to have any hope of surviving, you need to evade your hunters long enough for the situation to change and then face them once their plans are obsolete."

So I had to run. The lake was out of the question. While I could stay afloat briefly in armor, I couldn't swim very far. Diving in would force me to either return to the arms of my pursuers or drown. The alleyways were where the enemy was coming from, no use heading that way. That left the buildings themselves. If I could find one to duck into, I could leave out of the back and escape. If I was extremely lucky, I might even be able to save my friends too.
welcome back!
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As they began to slowly close in on me, blades drawn, a fatalistic determination settled on me. I decided that as long as I was going to die here I should at least take as many of my enemies with me as possible. Concentrating my determination, I once again ignited my blade and inverted it to point the tip down at the floor.

One of the Golden Sabers sneered at me, "Surrendering Knight? Your reputation is unwarranted it seems…" suddenly his eyes widened as he realized what I was about to do. "Oh damnation… look we can talk about this…"

I shook my head sadly and jammed my sword into the floor. The flames spread fast, and soon the entire room was in flames. Seeing no way out I said a quiet prayer and resigned myself to my fate. As the roof began to cave in all went dark.
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I have to be elsewhere for the next few hours. I have more pre-written though, so if the threads alive when I return I'll keep updating.

Thanks. Its good to be back.
You did that deliberately, you jerk!
well done
Woohoo! Knight is back!
Still working my way through older updates
Good to see this resurrected after all this time
did you miss a paste here?
I'm back. I'll begin posting again soon.

...Yes. Yes I did. Hold on while I delete that post and redo it.
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Evidently I cannot delete this post. Its too old.

Please insert the following in front of it:

I spotted an old warehouse that looked promising. It didn't look like it had a back door, but it did have windows. Unfortunately they were on the second floor. It would be a hard fall, but unless I wanted to fight my way past a small army of men it was my best choice.

I hustled into the building, hoping for the sake of the town it was empty. It was, but as I saw the interior it became the last of my concerns. The building had been long abandoned and decay had set in, where there once were stairs, now only rotted and broken timbers remained. The window I had hoped to use to escape sat far out of my reach, taunting me.

Behind me I could hear the Golden Saber soldiers approaching. I looked around frantically, searching for anything I could use to survive but only dry straw remained in the building, covering the floor.

Out of other options, I returned to the doorway hoping to use it as a funnel that would allow me to fight the soldiers one at a time, however when I got there archers had already taken position across the street and made it impossible for me to safely hold the position. It wasn't long before the Golden Saber troops had broken into the warehouse and had me surrounded.
Then comes:
As they began to slowly close in on me, blades drawn, a fatalistic determination settled on me. I decided that as long as I was going to die here I should at least take as many of my enemies with me as possible. Concentrating my determination, I once again ignited my blade and inverted it to point the tip down at the floor.

One of the Golden Sabers sneered at me, "Surrendering Knight? Your reputation is unwarranted it seems…" suddenly his eyes widened as he realized what I was about to do. "Oh damnation… look we can talk about this…"

I shook my head sadly and jammed my sword into the floor. The flames spread fast, and soon the entire room was in flames. Seeing no way out I said a quiet prayer and resigned myself to my fate. As the roof began to cave in all went dark.
While I'm getting the next piece ready, how's everyone liking the story again?
Fun, and cliffhangery
Fantastic, KotR. Glad you're back in full swing.
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Much to my surprise, I awoke. Compounding my confusion, I found myself in a comfortable bed, my wounds bandaged and healthier than I had any right to expect. I tried to get up and suddenly gained a new appreciation for rich carpeting and its effects on cushioning a fall. A door opened nearby and Siegbert was soon helping me up and back into bed. "Easy Knight. You shouldn't be up and moving just yet. I don't even know how you're still alive."

I shrugged, "I'm just lucky I guess. That and I have some skilled companions to help me out."

"Not quite. The building collapsing on you did a real number on you, but not to put too fine a point on it, you should have burn to death before we found you."

"What do you mean?"

Siegbert shrugged, "I'll start from the beginning then. We were relaxing at the festival when the alarm sounded, a large warehouse catching on fire is an event of note but the bucket brigade screaming about Golden Saber troops was what really got everyone moving. We flew over there, literally in Martina's case, just in time to see the warehouse collapse. We had a bit of a time fighting off the Golden Saber, there were a lot of them there. Everyone was fighting, even some of the dignitaries who traveled all this way to meet you. You should have seen it. The elf king and my uncle alone must have accounted for - "

"I think I get it, Siegbert. But if you drove off the soldiers before removing me from the rubble, wouldn't that only make my survival more likely? I don't see where this confusion comes from."

"Fair enough, but it's not like we dug you out immediately afterwards. After talking with Gaël and Boniface a bit we got concerned about your whereabouts. We waited almost an hour for you to turn up and when that didn't happen Martina used some divination to find you. We realized you were under the rubble and got you out as soon as possible."
It is amazing and goin a long way to cheer me up after a painful surgery
"Wait… so I was buried under that rubble for over an hour? That would explain why my chest feels like a solid mass of bruises. Thanks for intervening though. If the bucket brigade hadn't been able to do their work I would have been dead for sure."

Siegbert shook his head. "That’s not exactly true. You see, the bucket brigade wasn't able to do its job. The warehouse was still burning. YOU were still burning. And somehow you're not even singed."

We both went quiet for a long time after that. Finally I broke the silence, "H-how? How is that possible? Are you sure I was on fire? Maybe the fire was just on the outer layers of the warehouse… somehow?"

Even as I asked this part of my mind immediately rejected it as idiotic. I remembered lighting the fire under my own feet after all.

Siegbert shook his head conforming my doubts, "No. Evidently from the ashes you were right in the middle of the flames. No one's sure exactly how you lived. For now everyone is satisfied with saying that it’s a magical defense of some kind, but they can't figure out where it comes from. Martina thought it might be your sword, but evidently that theory turned out to be wrong. She's looking into some other theories right at the Monasheskiy Library now."
"Well when she gets back you can let her know that I'm feeling better and would like to ask her about it myself."

Siegbert chuckled, a welcome relief after the gravity of the near death experience I just had, "I'd hold off on that. The ladies in general are torn between taking turns nursing you back to health and wanting to finish you off for being stupid enough to put yourself in that situation."

"I'd still like to see her anyways. And I really didn't have any other choice. It's not like the Golden Saber would accept a peaceful surrender -"

Siegbert raised his hands in mock surrender, "I told them that too, but they're still pretty upset that they almost lost you. You've got to consider how your death would affect them you know."

That hit me like a hammer to the gut, "Oh. I… I should have considered…"

"Don't worry about it too much. You lived and that's what's important. Just don't try something like that again, okay? At least not without making sure that you're immune to whatever it is you're trying anyways."

I smiled a little weakly, "Fair enough. You have my word on that."

"Good." Siegbert was about to say something else when a small commotion arose outside, looking out the window Siegbert nodded, "Looks like Martina is back from the library. I'll let her know you're up right now. She'll want to see you after she gets through her adoring public."
"Her adoring public?"

Siegbert smiled, "What? Didn't you hear me say that she literally flew over to you? It's not every day that folks in these parts see a dragon, and they're quite interested in asking her all about… well everything really."

Leaning forward (with considerable pain) I noticed two things. One, we were at Lady Eva's castle as I should have expected. Two, Siegbert was right about Martina being popular. All sorts of people were flocking around Martina and asking questions of her. She even answered a few of them.

"Miss Martina! Miss Martina! Can you really breath fire?"

"Yes, I can. Some dragons can breathe another one of the classical elements, but I can breathe fire."

"Lady Martina? Is it true that Dragon's can bring someone back from the dead?"

Martina laughed, "Only the most powerful of the Dragon Priests can do that. It is well beyond my abilities personally."

"Miss Martina? Is it true that dragons only eat princesses?"

"What? No. That's ridiculous."

And so it went until she made it through the crowd and into the castle itself. Siegbert turned to me. "All right, I'll let everyone know you've come too. And I'll warn them to be careful too. Brace yourself, they were pretty worried."

A few minutes later, a red blur sped into the room and towards my bed. Feeling the dragoness slam into me, I winced as her powerful arms nearly crushed my chest.

"Martina! My ribs are still tender..." I cried out futilely.
"Good! You deserve it! What were you thinking?"

"I'm sorry. I tried to - "

"To do what? Take some of them with you? Go out in a blaze of glory? That fatalism is the curse on this land taking! Do you think things would improve at all with you dead? We need you! " Quietly she added, "I need you. "

I was left speechless by this. Eventually after a few moments I managed to stammer out "I'm - I'm sorry, but I really didn't see any other way out."

Martina nodded sadly. "That's the problem. You could have fought them as long as you could have. You might have fallen, but you would have been fighting FOR your life the whole time. Instead you chose the one plan that guaranteed that you would fall too."

I took a moment to gather my thoughts, trying to recall exactly what I was thinking in those moments before I started that fire. I remembered the sound of panic in the Golden Saber soldier's voice and his offer to talk things over. I remembered ignoring him. I looked up to meet Martina's eyes. "You're right. You're absolutely right. I did have better options."

We were quiet for a long time after that. Finally I broke the silence, "Is there anything you can do to protect us from this curse in the future?"

Martina shook her head, "I don't think so. I've been reading the Tome of Gamayun lately. It talks briefly about something called the Grey Malaise. Some of the older prophecies talk about it being a byproduct of the rise of Isocrates. The last mention of it comes from the Prophecy of Vengeance where it is described as either dissipating or expanding to cover the world, depending on whether or not Isocrates is defeated or not. I can try a few wards, but the strength to fight this curse is going to have to come from within."
I nodded. "I think I understand. While we're on the topic of strange phenomenon, how did I survive that collapse. Were you able to find anything in the library?"

Martina looked troubled, "I'm sorry, but no. I have no idea how you survived that. I'll... I'll need to do some additional research before I can find any answers. I have a theory but... I want to be absolutely sure before I bring it up."

"I... I think I understand."

We sat there in silence for a few minutes before Martina broke the awkward silence, "You know, you should get some more rest. I'll be able to do some more healing in the morning, and the others won't be up until then anyways."

There wasn't much more to say after that so I allowed myself to drift off to sleep. The next morning I was awakened by what seemed to be an argument between just about everyone in the castle. I was able to make out several demands to see me and find out how I was doing. Martina and Siegbert were fending off the mob for the time being.
I've hit the end of my pre-written material. I'll keep going for a while but expect the updates to be much slower.

Granted you came with a fully loaded gun this time, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt... By bumping with my crazy theories!

Clearly the fact that Sir Knight wasn't burned to death in the fires is no coincidence, but rather the continued, profound evolution of the hypno dick as it reaches ever greater levels of power. See now how even the mighty flames bend before it's mighty magnetism! Err long, all elements shall bend before his phallus, then life and death itself. He shall fuck death itself away, make it his own... and then he will come for Isocrates.
Woo, glad to see you back KotR, I'm about to head off to work for now, but I'll catch up on the thread when I get back.

It's entertaining to have another /tg/ writefag come back to the fold, but always keep in mind that board spaces are limited. You haven't done this yet, but I would prefer you not encourage people to bump dead threads for going on a week while you forestall updating. It denies other, more productive threads their space and it isn't particularly polite.

That said, carry on.
>It denies other, more productive threads their space

What the fuck are you babbling about?
Welcome back KotR.
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Hello everyone,

Sorry I wasn't able to update again, but I need to get some rest. I have an early day tomorrow. I don't know if I'll be able to do any updating then. Feel free to archive this thread if you feel like it.

If the thread is dead before I return, keep an eye on my twitter page for more updates or drop me a line.

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As always, reviews and comments are much appreciated.
Good stuff, knight. Have to leave and haven't finished it yet, but looking forward to reading tonight.

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