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Private/Closed Godsword - Fate of Naedria

A pair of mules pulls a wooden carriage over a cobbled street that winds between fields of grain and pastures. The driver, dressed in plain farmers’ overalls, peers out at the valley from under his cap when the cart crests a hill. The sight never fails to fill him with awe, even though he sees it monthly, when his wares are brought to the market at the foothills of the greatest city in Naedria.

A city in levels, of stone and brass, great pillars supporting platforms stacked partly over one another like scales; rails snake above and between them, carrying people and goods on skytrams. It climbs to the base of a sword that has been stabbed point-first into the river valley, rivaling a mountain in size, and in the light of midday its stone gleams as though it were steel.

The farmer remembers asking Father what had carried the Godsword, and Father had recalled the Time of Titans. For days after, he’d awoken to nightmares of creatures that could crush his town underfoot.

The mules comes to a sudden stop and bristle when they spot a figure approaching on the side of the road. He does not need to wait to hear the hissing and rattling; the marching gait is unmistakable. The farmer jumps from his perch to take his mules by the reins and still their nerves, but his own heart flutters when the Stiff closes in, and comes to a halt not five feet from him.

The man of brass plates and steel bolts, carrying a halberd and glowing with an eerie green light from within, fixes its cold, pupilless emerald eyes on him, making unknowable assessments. The farmer can think of nothing to do but tip his hat. A few more terse seconds, and the Stiff’s head snaps away and it marches off. The man releases his held breath shakily.

“The Stiffs keep us safe?” His father had spat once. “From bandits, sure, soldiers and wolves, and things that live in the dark. But not from their masters, not from mages. And a man with any brain fears mages above all.”

Before the farmer climbed back onto his carriage, he picked up a pebble from the road. With a call, the mules began to move once more. He opened his hand and looked to the pebble, which softly rose an inch or two from his palm on a stream of the faintest white light.

He’d held no secrets for Father. None but this one. It would’ve broken the old man’s heart.


Phicus gave the door to Master Gutrichs' magisterium two sharp knocks, a feat given the thickness of the stack of paper in his hands. A mechanical eye set into the richly decorated wood sprang open, looking him up and down with a glowing purple iris set in black stone, before retracting. The door then split down the middle and its halves retracted into the wall with a soft scraping sound, permitting entry.

His master only gave him a glance from the workdesk riddled with finely crafted metal parts and old, dusty tomes. As he approached, he tried not to look out the tall windows to the city sprawling far below. "Yes, Phicus, what is it?" Gutrichs started curtly, his attention focused on a glowing instrument before him.

"Sir, the Captain of the Tempest Guard thinks it time for you to see to the Artifice Knights." The scribe-assistant replied. "Preliminary testing of the arms- and their wielders- has yielded no dangers to the Fragment stability, so with your approval of the lineup, we may move on to the next phase."

Master Gutrichs arched an eyebrow. “If I did not think Leanna could procure a workable lineup, I would not have asked her.” He grumbled. Phicus nodded. “It’s a formality, Sir, but an important one, I’m afraid.” With a sigh, Gutrichs arose from his high-backed swiveling chair. “I suppose I might as well see whose hands my creations have ended up in.”

“The subjects have been gathered on the Guard’s grounds, Master. Sixth Circle.” Phicus said, trailing out the door behind the magister. “Shall I call for a private skytram?” Gutrichs did not break his brisk gait. “Nonsense. We will take the lift and be there in half the time.” He replied, to Phicus’ dismay.

On the outer balcony of the Seventh Circle, the city’s highest and smallest plateau housing only the Assembly’s most important members, laboratories and seminaries, a large cylinder of wrought steel and glass stood separate from the grand halls. Within, a circular walkway surrounded a central spire with brass teeth, which large gears and a complicated mesh of wires and weights allowed the walkway to ascend or descend.

Gutrichs activated the lift with an idle wave of his hand over the tablet on the inner fence, and it rattled to life, descending with some speeds. As it dropped through the circle’s floor and then revealed a bird’s eye view of the Sixth beneath, Phicus gripped his papers with one hand and kept the other firmly on his focus, a wand of ivory tipped with drakeglass.

His master spoke up over the clunking of gears, surveying the city with hands clasped behind his back. “Since it is only my approval we wait on, I am to assume all went well with the passing of the project’s motion?” Phicus did so wish his mentor would keep the slightest bit up to date with things outside his laboratory. “By a certain definition, Sir. The Exalted Council was split, and it only passed by a difference of one vote.” He replied. “Some, naturally, would support any project you deem to put your name to, let alone head. Others saw good reason to explore the potential of the Fragments as a method of bolstering the ranks.”

Phicus rustled through some papers at the back of his stack to scan the transcriptions. “The detractors seemed mostly concerned over the sheer amount of requested resources being allocated to a project with a… volatile track record, when several others of the Assembly’s ventures are already stretched thin.” He continued. “Then, a good number protested the idea of allocating the Fragments to young, unproven novices rather than, say, well-trained Champions.”

Gutrichs scoffed. “Last that I checked, our preeminent Champions are quite busy keeping back the Unmade Kings’ forces, and the fiends of the night, to name a few.” He said. “They do not understand that there is no greater test for these armaments than to be wielded by the spirited and inventive. A Champion would wield a weapon exactly as it is intended; these youngsters will push them to their limits, in ways we will not expect.”

“I hope more will come to see it that way, Sir, before the first assessment is held.” Phicus agreed tentatively. “I somewhat suspect that the disapproval may have been in part due to the ‘lowlier’ backgrounds of some of the prospective knights.” He continued. “And moreso, the fact that one of them is Beastfolk.”

The last comment made Gutrichs turn to Phicus with puzzlement and wonder. “Beastfolk, you say…” He pensively adjusted his beard. “When I was a young fool, I aimed to sail to the isle of Redrock. It is said to be where the oldest, wildest magic in Naedria lives.” He said. “But I was forewarned, as they were harsh to outsiders, not to mention raiders and pirates. Of course, I had other ventures, and then the Wars… I never had the chance in the end.”

“It’s no impossibility, Sir.” Phicus piped up. “Now that the Assembly has a governing presence…” He faltered when Gutrichs side-eyed him. “You think that makes it safer, young man?” His master said. “They’ve been given only more reasons to despise us.”


Leanna Thaumatan, sometimes-mercenary, currently Private Envoy to the Office of Iziquil Gutrichs, observed her team from the balustraded platform from which steps led down to a cobble square. The straw-and-burlap dummies, at the very least, were no match for the young fighters she had set loose on them so their familiarity with the weapons they had received only earlier this morning could develop. Though the air of late summer was warm in her armor, she had respite from the shadow of the Godsword that seemed to be almost cleaving the Circle in twain.

When she heard the clunking of the approaching lift, she brushed a few loose strands of hair behind her ear and leaned on the balustrade with her arms crossed. The old wizard was dressed in opulent and immaculately kept robes of blue and gold, peering at her with stony eyes set deep in a wrinkled face, over a voluminous white mane that fell to his navel. He approached with his scribe in tow, a subdued man whose largely unkempt black locks of hair and stubble spoke of many missed hours of sleep. “My Envoy.” The old man said by way of greeting, and Leanna returned a nod. “I’m afraid that since our last consultation, I’ve been quite preoccupied in my workspace. Care to enlighten me about your endeavors, and the state of our newest regiment?”

“Sure.” Leanna said. “Per your advice, I took to Ivermore two weeks ago. The administrators were not too charmed the idea with bringing their novices into armed conflict, but interestingly, the mention of your involvement seemed to open many doors.” Gutrichs gave no sign of finding this in any way surprising. “Word travelled fast, unfortunately, that I was recruiting for something unique- not even what, and yet the little tykes beset me. I spent most of two weeks weeding out the mages who felt they deserved my attention merely for their name.”

“I filtered my options by every directive you gave me. I looked for novices with training in armed combat, not just arcana. Once I had a shortlist, I let them show off their craft to me, even sparred a few.” Master Gutrichs piqued a brow. “And did any prove an even match?” Leanna couldn’t see if he was smiling, but thought he might be. “Of course not.” She replied. “But how long they held out, and how they handled losing, gave me indications too.”

She motioned for her employer to step toward the balustrade and survey the team. “You asked for five, and these are the ones I felt most secure in. They’re spirited, show potential to grow. All have much to learn, naturally, but most of them had to fight to even get into Ivermore. I took the liberty of having their arms of choice prototyped by the artificers. Pending your approval, they’ll be implanted with the Fragments following the initiation ceremony.”

Gutrichs clasped his hands. “Very well. Talk me through each of them, the pertinent qualities.” He said. Leanna pointed to the prospective Knight on the far left, a middling-tall young man whose auburn hair clashed with the royal purple waistcoat that he and his teammates still wore, over black pants and a white blouse, as part of their Ivermore uniform, missing only the cumbersome black overcoat. “Bronzebender, of Marren’s Eve. Born to smiths, who must’ve spent every penny in their name to get him into Ivermore. Prodigious tinkerer, and according to his teachers, proficient at at metamancy- may make a more than decent artificer, one day.” She said. “He’s got heart, seems to want to do right. And he’s composed- bore a smile even after I kicked his shins in.”

“Interesting choice of weapon.” Phicus said, observing the mage cut away at dummies with a scythe that he wielded in much the same fashion as one would a poleaxe. Leanne shrugged. “You grow up town as small and rural as Marren’s Eve, I suppose you train with what you have.” She replied. “He knows how to make use of the reach and to hook limbs. With a farmer’s scythe bending or snapping of the blade would be an issue, but not so with drakeglass.” She turned her attention to the second novice, a boy notably smaller than the first and frankly small for his age, wiry of frame with black hair and tinkerer’s goggles, who had taken to sparring with a teammate.

“Goldenrod, of the First Circle. Father’s a craftsman, supplies shields to the city guard. Thought of as a righteous man in the circle, I found. I suspect he may have used his good standing with the city to help his son get into Ivermore.” She mused. “He’s our youngest, but he was taught well, both how to use a shield and how to tinker with one.” The boy was deftly defending against the onslaught from a girl with a short, wrist-mounted blade, neither seeming to mind the fact it could lead to real injury. “He gets back up quick when he’s put down. I think I knocked him halfway to a concussion before he tapped out. Instructors say he’s shown promise in the elemental arts and metamancy; seems to like keeping his repertoire broad, keep his opponent guessing. The artificers made a shield with his focus at the front, letting him throw spells from behind it once it has the Fragment. Should serve him well.”

“The girl, then?” Gutrichs asked. “Theodoria Mequie, of Augury Plaza.” Leanna answered, watching the slender girl’s curly hair sway with each lunge towards Rusty. “Goes by Theo. My first and easiest pick, to be truthful. Smart girl, driven, well-spoken. Her teachers speak highly of her; her peers seem a little intimidated.” Phicus made an amused sound. “Do you see something of yourself reflected, Lady Leanna?” He asked innocuously. Leanna gave half a smirk. “She may wish. At any rate, she’s clearly been passionate in training with a shortsword, I think not for any reason but self-cultivation.”

Leanna shifted to the penultimate prospect-Knight, a young man who could be mistaken for a twenty-something with his height and trained build, paying the others little heed as he focused on dicing up his straw doll with a pair of daggers. “My only exception to the “no snobs”rule, as I couldn’t ignore the potency of his psionic gifts… Morningstar.” Phicus looked to her with sudden apprehension. “... You mean of those Morningstars?” He may have led a sheltered childhood on the Fifth Circle, but even Phicus knew the meaning of that name.

“Quite so.” Neither Leanna nor Gutrichs seemed as disquieted. “Void isn’t paraded around like his siblings, so I can only assume he’s their black sheep, gods know why. I would have said he lacked the social wherewithal to function in a squad like this, but it may actually do him good to be a part of something new.” She pursed her lips. “Plus, I couldn’t ignore his skillset. Of the five, he came closest to posing a real challenge when we fought. He’s dastardly quick, dextrous, and a proficient psionist to boot. Put me off kilter a few times with his illusions. If he had ten more years on him, I’d hate to meet him in a dark alleyway.”

Gutrichs set his sights on the last prospect. “Last but not least?" The envoy gave a rare broad smile. “Yeah, I knew this one would make the Council blow a gasket, but I singled him out for other reasons, too.” She said, looking out at what could only be described as a man-sized otter, in many ways identical to the otters found in streams upriver of Godsword but for his bipedal gait and standing height of over six foot. “Seth Sylasson Rudderdog- not just from Redrock, but heir to its throne. Came to Ivermore by means of a ‘peace-building exchange’, but with the stares and abuse he must get, you wonder why he bothers.”

With a sure posture, the young beastman arced back, then threw his harpoon with force, striking his pretend foe in the midriff before sauntering over to retrieve it and repeat. “He had qualified ideas for his weapon- gave our metamancers quite a challenge. Once that harpoon is powered by a Fragment, it will hone in on threats, return to his hand and even snare his foe’s lower limbs if he pierces their shadows.” Leanna continued. “Anyway, young Rudderdog is… pleasant, actually. The very image of politeness and placidity.”

“Come now, Leanna, that’s not all you have to say.” Gutrichs spoke up. Leanna frowned back at him. “Of course not. Merely thought you should know what pretense he puts out.” She replied. “I can assure you there is a keen mind under that fur, and a disciplined one. When we fought, there was not a wasted move. His aim was not to play at winning; he only demonstrated his skill. I get the sense he takes this, and perhaps every endeavor, deathly serious.”

Gutrichs pensively held his chin. “The implications of a Beastman assuming the role of a defender of the Naedrian realm are great.” He mused. “It could build unforeseen relations with others of his kind- if they see it not as betrayal. In any regard, it will fan the flames of rumour when the Artifice Knights make themselves known. The forces of darkness could stand to fear us a little more.”

The old wizard turned to Leanna. “You have my blessings to continue with this lineup, Envoy. As well you knew.” Leanna nodded in agreement. The old man would never have denied her and have her waste another week or two finding new candidates, anyway. He had more pertinent matters to attend to. “The initiation ceremony will be prepared for tomorrow’s eve, then. Since the Knights fall under your purview, your presence will be required for the swearing-in.” She cocked her head. “Perhaps a short speech would be in order?”

Master Gutrichs grumbled something into his beard, and sighed. “I suppose it’s to be a historic occasion, if the concept of the Artifice Knights proves itself. Very well, I will attend.” He inclined his head. “Lady Thaumatan.” He said, and departed. Phicus gave a friendly wave before following the elder mage back to the lift.

“I neglected to ask before, Phicus…” Gutrichs started when they reached the platform and the glass door fell shut. “Whose vote did we swing to our favour to pass the motion unadjusted?” Phicus looked to his papers again. “That would have been Grand Consigner Brae Ashfield, Sir. On the grounds that, I quote-”He pulled a face. “The pupils of a Fifth Circle institution are, if nothing else, expendable.” Master Gutrichs did not reply. From behind him, Phicus could not see the shadow that befell the old man’s face.


Leanna pushed open the oak door with her pack of novices in tow, most of whom seemed to be varying degrees of elated and intimidated by the earlier news that their inclusion in the rank of Artifice Knights would soon be fact (even if the rank had only just been invented, and none knew what it truly entailed). They stepped into a large open hall, lit by gaslight and sunrays coming through the roof half constructed of glass set into iron frames.

It was a sober quarters by Sixth Circle standards, and therefore luxurious to most of its new inhabitants. One of the long walls was split into two levels with various rooms- as they would later uncover, a large enclosed kitchen (surely manned by staff around mealtimes), bathing amenities (with hot water available through brass taps!) and an open storage on the ground floor. Above that, six evenly spaced doors with nameplates (one empty) set into walls of plaster and wood, which led to bedrooms with ample furnishing. A set of wide stairs wrapped around the lower storage up to the gallery of bedroom doors.

Before them as they entered was a large dining table with heavy oaken chairs, but the rest of the hall seemed taken up by two features; a square platform walled on three sides by stone, targets stacked in the corners, and secondly a library with seating and bookcases filled to the brim, as well as a table laden with alchemical instruments and a few tinkerer’s choice pieces.

“We did this up before you were even picked.” Leanna started, her voice calling the immediate attention of the Knights; they had learned, if nothing else, to listen closely to Lady Thaumatan’s every word. “It should serve every purpose it needs to further both your education as arcanists, and your training as Knights. This all may seem like great privilege, but do not forget you will also be held to higher standards than any of your peers in Godsword.” She assured them. “What exactly your responsibilities will entail is nebulous to you still, I know- this is a tumultuous and unsure time for us all, frankly. Much will be cleared up following your initiation and the start of your training proper.”

She looked to the weapons that the former students of Ivermore still held on their person. “Keep your armaments close. They are not, as you know, completed, but they are priceless artifacts by their make and much of your future will depend on your handling of it. For now, grow accustomed to one another’s company. Your cohesion is as vital as your individuality, though much of it will come with time. You will be awoken at dawn tomorrow, and are expected at the same Guard’s field as today at seven-thirty sharp.”

She calmly made for the door, but turned to face the crew again just before stepping through. “Oh, and since I was assured of your participation, I took the liberty of using your measurements for Ivermore’s school uniforms to have your armors crafted. They’re on stands in your bedrooms. Wear them to training tomorrow.” It was all she had to say, but still her gaze lingered for a second on their wide-eyed faces. In the chaos of stringing together a project this great in scale in so short a time, it had become easy to forget who they were drawing into the ranks. Children, they looked like to her. Would their missions ever lead them into greater danger than any their age should face?

“Rest well.” She said, and pulled close the door.



  • As indicated, the weapons are currently unpowered as the Godsword Fragments are not yet implanted. Play them as if they are regular, if supremely crafted metal weapons for now.

  • Over the past two weeks, the PCs have been officially removed from their studies at Ivermore and fallen under the employ of the Arcanist Assembly, specifically the department of legendary artificer Master Gütrichs who is renowned for his hand in the inception of the automatons that ended the Totality Wars. They have been kept largely in the dark and know only that they are part of a project to test the efficacy of a new genre of weaponry that is not enchanted in a normal fashion, but will be powered by some unheard of, much greater source called a “fragment”. A fragment of what?

  • The armor is part leather and layered fabrics, also partially enchanted platemail covering the vital areas, arms and lower legs, all in a colour scheme of immaculate white, cerulean, and chrome. It would likely be slightly personalized to your character to optimize their fighting efficiency- feel free to use your imagination!

  • Contact me in the OOC thread or PM with any further questions if you get stuck or are unsure on any matter.


Previously Shadow_Pup
Void had been extremely exited to go to Ivermore and hone his skills to perfection. He couldn't wait to go and make friends and get out of his families shadow. That excitement hastily faded as his parents own joy became obvious and he became aware that his family would be well known and his parents would expect him t6o keep up appearances. So he went to the school and hated every second that wasn't spent in a classroom. Due to his stature and family reputation, he would go around with a small group of high class gents and they would terrorise the 'common folk', as his father would put it. They were cruel and malicious and ridiculously snobbish. He looked forward to times when he was alone, when he could act how he wanted and sing or simply relax.

When he heard about the separate program he became, greatly intrigued. If this artifice knight stuff was successful he could tell his family to shove it and finally be himself. Of course he would have to keep up pretences, at least until he was sure his families prying eyes could not find him. When the woman approached him, he was eager to show off his skills and hastily accepted her eventual offer to spar, he manage to pull a few good tricks on her and get in a hit or too but was inevitably defeat. Void was elated, this woman had whooped him, she didn't care who he was she fought him fairly and wasn't afraid to rough him up. He was excited about what this would mean for him and couldn't wait to meet the others who would be joining him. When he saw them he recognised a few, mostly by name alone but he hadn't actually spoken to any of them, unless he had bullied them but he couldn't quite remember.

First there was Rusty Goldenrod, a boy from more lowly families, though he did live in Godsword, although it was a lower circle than himself. He was very capable with a shield, which impressed Void as not many could wield a shield as offensively as Rusty was able to. They hadn't communicated at all to his knowledge, and he assumed that he would rather not speak with a 'bully' such as Void.

Then there was Theodosia Mequie, originally not from Godsword. She had a sharp mouth and a wittiness that seemed to border on cockiness. Her skills with the blade were impressive Void hoped to one day spar against her. She seemed to be comfortable even amongst strangers which Void found to be quite remarkable.

Keelan Bronzebender was another outsider, like Theodosia he was also not from Godsword and was the son of blacksmiths if he remembered correctly from what he heard at Ivermore. The kid seemed cautious of people like Void, the bullies and the higher class but he was surprisingly skilled with his weapon of choice, the scythe. Void assumed this was due to his upbringing via farm work.

Lastly there was Seth Rudderdog. A Beastfolk that seemed to favour the harpoon as his weapon of choice. He was cautious of the otter-like boy as he knew all to well of the issues between mages and beastfolk and wouldn't be surprised if the boy hated him already simply because of his heritage. So he deemed he would steer clear of the boy and mind his own business.

The young Morningstar boy looked around the living quarters and cracked his neck slowly as he shrugged, they were relatively basic furnishings and if he was alone he would be content with them but in the presence of others he simply uttered "This place is horrendous, this is the best they could do" he turned his nose up at his surroundings and inwardly groaned at his put on snobbery. He then conjured up an illusion over part of the area making it appear luxurious and regal before waving at it "that's what we should have" he said before lowering the illusion "but instead we have this" he stated, looking around once more. "What the hell are we really even doing here, we're gonna become Artifice Knights or what not, they didn't even exist until recently" he said waving his arms around before sitting in a chair in a brooding manner. He looked at his fellows "so should we have some fun before hitting the hay or are you common folk so dull that your gonna go be by yourselves or something" he said with a raised eyebrow as he smoothed off his clothes.
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Resident Furry
His first thought, upon seeing Godsword for the first time, was that it was an apt metaphor for the mages who called it home. Seven layers, each smaller, higher, and more exclusive than the last, each allowing the people higher up to look down, literally and figuratively, on the little people below. And on the very top, able to look down on the entire world, was the government complex for the Arcanist Assembly itself. For those whose stated purpose was the removal of all kings, it had not taken long for the Mages of Godsword to evoke some of the trappings of royalty, themselves.

His second thought, was that he hated how the city smelled. He missed the smell of the ocean, how it mixed with the smells of the docks and wafted over Riverwatch, carried on a sea breeze. The city had a metallic scent to it, similar to the twisted automatons that had marched out of the sea and taken everything from his family before he’d even been born. They had those here, too, as he quickly found out. They actually were used for things other than keeping the Beastfolk under their mechanical heels. At least he wasn’t the only person who found their presence unnerving.

Seth felt like a hostage, a prisoner living in a gilded cage. His father had been the one to insist he come, of course, but the family’s situation was precarious. He’d been shipped out from home some time ago, to come to a fancy mages school in the capitol. As it turned out, he did have a little talent with magic, and that had been the family’s in. The invitation had come from someone-or-other, as a little show as if to say ‘see, the old royal family’s getting along great with the new regime.’ A dedication to the continued peace between the people of Redrock and the continent’s mages, or so they claimed.

They called the place Ivermore, the uniform was stuffy and restrictive, clearly not made for Beastfolk like himself. As for the people, well, suffice to say he never made any friends. He did learn a lot of crass expressions, which were fun. He also learned lots of different ways people justified hating him on sight to themselves. He learned a whole lot about things his species had done to that person, or a family member, or a friend, or someone they’d vaguely heard of that one time. And if they learned his holt’s name? Oh boy, that added a whole new level of ‘fun’ to the proceedings. At least most people were content to leave him as some anonymous otter for them to hate from afar.

His fellow students, at least, mostly decided to leave him alone after they failed to get a rise out of him. Oh, don’t get him wrong, the mistreatment left him seething, but strictly on the inside. Compartmentalization was a key skill that was instilled in him from a young age. It was practically a survival instinct at this point. He was nice, he was pleasant, he was likable, no matter how much he screamed on the inside. People mostly learned to tolerate or ignore him. And so he passed the time, until things changed quite suddenly one day.

A woman had come, envoy for the man who had helped develop the Stiffs. She had come to collect a few students to test out some new weapon or other that was being developed. Of course, Seth had jumped at the chance. His mind swirled with the possibilities. He needed to know what this whole thing was about. He easily sailed through to the shortlist, and then he was asked to spar the woman. He quickly learned she had done time as a mercenary, and it showed.

He held out fine at first, he’d trained with a harpoon for much of his life at this point. He was fairly effectively able to keep her back and out of range of striking him. But when it came to actually tagging her, he found himself woefully short of matching up. To make matters worse, it seemed like she was always just on the cusp of out-speeding him, requiring he devote extra energy, care, and attention. Eventually he got tired, and then he started making mistakes. All it took was one over-committed thrust, and she’d grabbed the shaft of his weapon, yanked him forward off balance, and struck him across the back with her training weapon.

To say he was disappointed in himself was an understatement. But he jabbed the end of his own weapon into the ground, and used it as a support as he forced himself to keep standing despite the pain and exhaustion. He suspected she was holding back in some way, too, and that made him feel worse. But he’d thanked her earnestly for the opportunity and the match, and marched off the field under his own power. In that aspect, at least, he managed to stand out from much of the rest of the competition. In the end, perhaps he’d managed to impress her after all, as his name was among the mere five students selected for the program.

As for the others, he’d seen some of them around, knew of others by reputation. They’d been working together, more or less, for about two weeks now, and though he mostly kept to himself, he did get something of a feel for them. Morningstar was something of a name he was familiar with. A big shot family in the Assembly, well know for their casual cruelty to those they considered beneath them. Rumors swirled about this particular member – apparently he’d spent a year in jail at the age of 11 – 11! – because his magic seriously messed someone up. Presumably the only reason he was out now was because his parents and his name got him off lightly. He fought like a cornered monster, several times Seth thought the other student actually was going to seriously hurt the mercenary.

Another was Goldenrod, apparently a local to Godsword. The youngest of the group, father was a smith, who might’ve pulled some strings to get the boy into the school to begin with. He fought with a shield, which definitely stood out. He didn’t know when to quit, either, the mercenary had to knock him off his feet a couple times before he was satisfied. Then there was Bronzebender, also child to smiths, though of a decidedly more poor and rural character. Hard working, upstanding, all the good things you wanted to hear about a person. He used a scythe, and didn’t even get the blade reattached straight on like most war scythes. Seth figured if he could learn to sweep his opponent of their feet with it without exposing himself to counterattack, he might just have a future with the weapon.

Finally was Mequie. The only girl of the group. She was unpredictable, certain persons often moaned of her lack of traditional femininity. Seth could tell she wasn’t one to be underestimated though, there was something dangerous about her, perhaps even more dangerous than Morningstar. He was wild and fierce, but lacked her obvious sense of forethought and cunning. He also thought she could stab him in the gut with a smile on her face, and the thought made his fur raise. In any case, these were the people he would be working with for the foreseeable future. He later learned that the mercenary’s name was Thaumatan, and in addition to hand picking and testing them, she would be something of their leader.

The two weeks since then passed in a blur. They’d all designed their own concepts for weapons, Seth had had a number of ideas how he could get the most out of a harpoon. He’d even picked out a name for it, like he was a hero king of old with one of their famous weapons. Perhaps a bit childish, but it was a little way to connect him back to home. He did not have opportunities like that often. After they received their weapons – presently unpowered by whatever a Fragment was – their days were spent getting a feel for them. And this was where Seth began to feel like he was hitting a minor roadblock.

Training against dummies wasn’t really getting him anywhere. They didn’t exactly fight back, after all. He tried to shake up his regimen every day, sometimes practicing his footwork, jabbing and slashing at the targets from different angles. But without an opponent trying to do the same to him, he worried his reaction speed wasn’t going to get any better. Sometimes, like today, he practiced his aim and throwing arm. When the harpoon was enchanted it’d home in on his targets, but that wasn’t an excuse to get sloppy, he’d still need to actually try to hit them. But he could throw from as many different distances as he wanted, he could add as many moves and flourishes into his set before throwing as his stamina could take, he really needed a moving target.

So, suffice to say, for lack of better stimulation, he did in fact notice when a visitor appeared on the balcony overlooking them. A very specific visitor, in fact, a certain mage who just so happened to be the brainchild for a certain walking mechanical soldier. He caught sight of him looking down at them as the otter was sauntering back to his current throwing distance. As he turned around to prepare to throw again, a dangerous thought crossed Seth’s mind: It would be so easy for him to twirl around and throw the harpoon directly into the mage’s heart. Yes, he could easily do that, but then what? He’d be finished, for sure, but also his family, and perhaps even his people and his entire island. No, instead he imagined the mage in place of the dummy in front of him, and hurled his harpoon with such force it pierced all the way through.

Later that same day, after they’d finally been filled in that they were going to officially be something called ‘Artifice Knights,’ they were brought to what was going to be their new quarters going forward. Apparently, it had been completed before they’d been picked for the job, and apparently had everything they needed to further their educations, as well as their new jobs. Regardless, they were expected to be up at dawn and out to train by 7:30 sharp. Apparently, they even already had new uniforms ready to go, and they were expected to be in them. Sounded like an early night to Seth, which didn’t pair well with the fact that Thaumatan also wanted them to start becoming a more cohesive team. With that though, the five of them were left alone.

Morningstar was the first to make a statement about their new surroundings. Apparently, he was less than impressed with them. And apparently he was something of a rabble-rouser besides, as he quickly set to work putting together an illusion of what he thought the five of them ‘actually deserved.’ Naturally, he hadn’t dared to say any of this while Thaumatan was in earshot. Still, he just as quickly let the illusion drop, and dropped into nearest chair to sulk and throw insults at the rest of them. Well, whatever, Seth wasn’t going to touch that. Better to not rock the boat.

Instead, he took a look around the room, slowly walking around the large dining table. He was a bit dismayed to find that the chairs were the particularly ornate sort popular among ritzy humans, which completely solid backs. Well, they did say the place was designed before they knew a Beastfolk would be among the trainees. Still, he wasn’t going to derive much comfort from these, with his tail wedged between his backside and the back of the chair. Well, maybe the library would provide a bit more enjoyment? He made his way to that corner of the great hall, hopeful to find at least something he could read before turning in.
Just what had he gotten himself into? The thought was becoming a sort of mantra for the boy since arriving in Godsword. When he reached a certain age, he had shown promise in magic, the first in his family! His parents were very proud, especially given the town's current troubles and the difficulty they were having staying afloat with their smithy. When his prowess had manifested, they scraped everything they had together and sent him to the finest magic academy in Naedria, Ivermore. Knowing the pressure put on him, the young man steeled himself for what to expect. When he first saw the city, though, his resolve wavered. The sheer size of the Godsword, the Titan blade stuck into the foundation of the city, caused his heart rate to race in his chest, pounding as the carriage he rode into the city rocked and creaked along the cobblestone road.

After the shock of the Godsword itself had faded, the next shock was the first time that he had seen one of the automatons that patrolled the city. His attention had been absorbed by the small thing in his palm. He hadn't really decided what the contraption would be when it was finished, so much as he was just fooling with it to keep his mind busy as they entered the city proper, perhaps a music box? Mother had always enjoyed listening to simple melodies, they didn't get many bards in Marren's Eve, or many travelers in general, so she had made due with gently humming improvised songs that Keelan could still hear when he closed his eyes for sleep.

His thoughts were interrupted by sharp hissing, rattling and clanking - an actual automaton! Keelan slid to the window of the carriage and peered out into the street, and there, lumbering along the road, was one of the metal men. Stiffs, people tended to call them. They didn't get them in Marren's Eve - like everything else - and Keelan had only heard about them from the older men in the village, the one's who had gone off to war and managed to come back in one piece. The boy wished he could get a closer look at the construct, would love to get the chance to see what makes it tick, so to speak, but knew that they weren't the most accommodating when it came to their personal space. A fact that reasserted itself as a pedestrian on the road strayed too close to the Stiff and it immediately locked into a defensive stance and assessed the danger of the situation. The carriage continued on, and in the growing distance behind them, the young man heard the hissing and rattling continue as the Stiff continued its patrol.

His first encounter with the city aside, there were to be several more instances of culture shock as he adjusted to life at Ivermore. The hardest of which to wrap his head around was how important some people tended to view themselves just because of their names. The Bronzebender name had meant something in Marren's Eve only because they were the town smithy and provided food from their farm. Keelan still worked as hard as anyone else in the village, and never thought himself above the families that had sent husbands and sons to help with sowing fields or harvesting crops in exchange for a share of the spoils, or a discount on a new farming tool. The people here, however, carried themselves with such self-importance that Keelan could swear he could practically see the air of superiority they exuded.

It made him the target for many cruel jokes and mockery. After all, he had grown up with nothing but the sweat of a good day's work on his brow and the clanging of metal at the forge. People couldn't understand that for the most part, it seemed. Though, he learned as time went on, that there were others who had come from, what some self-important people called, lowlier backgrounds. Keelan didn't let it bother him, he focused on his studies, he was learning more every day than what he ever would have had a chance at learning back home. The small number of books that his mother had used to teach him to read, he had read more times than he could count. Now he had access to the books his teachers gave them for their studies, he would often retreat to his room after classes and pick a new section to start picking over, reading far ahead of where the class was supposed to be.

When he wasn't reading, he was tinkering. It helped clear his mind, keep him grounded, something about taking raw components and combining them into something completely new filled him with determination. If Keelan could take these random components and make something beautiful - like his music box that he finished within his first week at Ivermore - then perhaps the school could take him and craft something useful out of him. He liked to imagine so, he needed to make something of himself, help secure a place for his family. Maybe help his village. He imagined himself becoming a famous mage, albeit a bit childish, he would picture his name becoming as widely known as Master Gütrichs and his village becoming famous for being the place of his birth. His parents no longer struggled to survive harvest to harvest, the town grew exponentially with tourism. Famous bards would often visit and sing tales of his exploits, his mother happily listening and humming along. These are the thoughts that would fill him with joy as he listened to his music box slowly eke out a tune as he lay in his bed at night.

Two weeks ago, everything changed. And Keelan couldn't help but feel, maybe this is the first step along that journey. A woman had come to Ivermore, looking for students for some sort of new program. Keelan had all but given up any thought that he would be chosen, what with so many big names at Ivermore clamoring for the opportunity. However, Keelan had some of his instructors on his side, teachers who had seen his prowess with Metamancy, who had been impressed by his tinkering capabilities. They passed his name along to the woman, and, to his surprise, she had began the process of testing him for the opportunity. He showed her his ability with the spells he had been learning, he was particularly proficient with telekinetic force projection and holding spells. She had placed some components on the table before him and asked him to create something, anything, in as little time as possible. A few moments later, a small mechanical bird whirred and chirped, fluttering up onto the woman's shoulder. She had smiled at that, causing Keelan to blush.

Last she had wanted to spar with the boy. This portion of the process had made Keelan the most uneasy. There was no formal combat training in his background, as a younger boy, he had been prone to fantasize when hearing stories from the men who had returned from the war. He would take his farming scythe and 'practice' in the yard with bales of hay. That was pretend, of course, and not very helpful in the current assignment. Still, he had used a scythe to shear and harvest for many years, since he was old enough to hold one. His body was strengthened from the hard work. It was something that he had to overcome. The woman took him out to the practice field, Keelan followed with his war scythe, which felt all wrong to him as the blade was different than a farmer's scythe would be, but the heft had felt good in his hands, and he had longer reach than the woman had.

The sparring match hadn't lasted an impressive amount of time, by any means. He felt he had done well enough, considering his lack of formal combat training. Once, he had managed to catch the woman off guard by sending a bolt of force an instant before a lunge, the timing caused the woman to lose balance for just a moment as she deflected the force and had to side-step the young man's lunge. Keelan thought he saw what looked like approval on her face as she retaliated, knocking the scythe aside and sweeping Keelan's legs, causing the boy to fall on his backside, her blade suddenly at his throat. Being forced to yield, Keelan let out a disappointed sigh as he stood and collected his weapon, leaving the field certain that he had failed.

To his surprise, though, he found himself on the list of five students who were chosen to be part of the program. They asked his preference of weapon and Keelan had chosen a scythe, but he requested the design be more similar to what he had at the farm, when he saw the finished product, though still unpowered according the woman he now knew as Lady Thaumatan, he was thrilled to get to practice with it. Over the past two weeks, he had become much more comfortable with the weapon, as they now stood in the practice arena, though practicing against a dummy was hardly as challenging and rewarding as sparring against another person, he was practicing hooking, sweeping, and trying to improve his speed. As he did, he took in his companions, though they had been together for the past two weeks, Keelan still didn't know a lot about them.

There was the Goldenrod boy, who Keelan felt he might be able to connect with the easiest, they were both from lowly families, though Rusty had the advantage of living in Godsword, although it was a lower circle. He used a shield, which Keelan was impressed by, they weren't typically used offensively the way that Rusty was able to. They hadn't had much time to chat, but Keelan looked forward to getting to know him better.

Then there was Theodosia Mequie, another outsider, at least in the sense that she, too, was not from Godsword originally. She had a bite to her, a wittiness that seemed to border on cockiness, and her blade was only slightly less sharp than her tongue. Keelan could appreciate those qualities, and liked that she didn't allow herself time to feel uncomfortable in her surroundings. He envied that aspect the most, still feeling very out of place, especially among his four compatriots.

Morningstar was, in Keelan's opinion, the hardest to get along with in the lot. The family was from one of the Upper Circles, which Keelan had come to realize was a big deal in this city. He oozed snobbery, and reminded the Bronzebender boy all-too-well of the bullies who had given him a hard time since coming to Ivermore. However, Keelan could not refute his skill, and could recognize immediately why he had been chosen. His twin daggers were flashes of light in his hands, and his magical prowess was commendable.

Last, but certainly not least, was Seth. The Beastfolk that used a harpoon as a weapon. Keelan knew of the Beastfolk, somewhat, but had lived a very sheltered life in Marren's Eve and knew next to nothing about them in actuality. He knew that they came from a place where magic was strong and wild, he knew that they had been involved in the Totality Wars, but beyond that he was ignorant to just what the political ramifications of Seth's involvement at Ivermore, or their little party for that matter, were.

After training, they were taken to what Lady Thaumatan explained were to be their new quarters. They would continue their studies here and this is where they would train as well. They were officially under the employ of the Assembly, and were going to be initiated into what were called Artifice Knights, whatever that was. It obviously had to do with the weapons they had made for them, as well as these Fragments - though they still had yet to explain what these fragments were and why they were so important. Keelan was looking around the room when he heard the Morningstar boy pipe up, though Keelan didn't really listen until the room shifted thanks to the illusion that the boy was casting changed the room into something he considered more palatable.

Keelan had no such qualms, this room was nicer than any he had been in before, even nicer than the rooms at Ivermore. He felt a little overwhelmed with everything that they had access to. Private rooms, a huge dining table made of elegant pieces, but by far the most impressive was the library and tinkering station that Keelan could feel himself gravitating towards. It was more books than he had ever seen in his life all in one place, and he had access to all of them. In the very same space, he had all the components for crafting that he could want. It was a paradise, and Keelan was afraid that he would have a hard time sleeping tonight, knowing so many tomes resided only a few dozen feet from his room.

Being so entranced by the books, Keelan didn't notice that Seth had also wandered over to that portion of the room. The Bronzebender boy let out a whistle, then said, "Well, shoot, I've never seen so many books before." He was speaking mostly to himself, but as he reached out for a book, he glanced over at the Beastfolk and smiled, they hadn't had many chances to interact in the past two weeks. They had to be up early, but taking a book back to his room for some light before-bed reading wouldn't hurt anything. He also wanted to give those nifty baths a try too, a warm water tap was an unheard of luxury, and Keelan was keen to experience a bath that wasn't made up of cold water from the family well. "Pretty nifty place, eh?" He smiled toward Seth again, taking a book off the shelf and flipping through a few pages.
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Rusty looked around the room. "This is...great, actually." He said. This was shocking to him, as he didn't live this luxurious. He was most impressed by the kitchen, a large kitchen that he was sure to have at least 2 full blown meals a week (or day) in. His bedroom was cool too, as that was where he was sleeping, he was sure to like it. He felt the whole living quarters was amazing.

He then looked to his teammates. One of his teammates was a Beastfolk, and he thought that was pretty cool. He wasn't with offending Beastfolk, as he thought they were really awesome and just wanted a chance. He also heard that they were heir to the throne of their kin, so he saw them as even cooler. He wanted to be good friends with them.

Another one sported black, and had blonde hair. He immediately noticed that they were a Morningstar, and felt weary being in a class with them. He knew about the family's rough history, and decided to stay on alert. This was even heightened do to their sudden outburst of them deserving more space, and them making an illusion to show this.

He also felt the only female on the team, Theo, was pretty cool as well. Her abilities with a short sword were insane, and he wanted to be friends with her. She seemed logical and was a realist, for as long as he could see. She seemed to do good in the fighting test, so he knew she was a good fighter.

Finally, Keelan, who was a lot like him. They were both from lowly families, and both had to work maybe the hardest out of the 5.
He felt like both would make good friends pretty quickly. He seemed to also like books, as he and the Beastfolk, Seth, went straight to the library.

With that, Rusty decided to finally head to the kitchen and make himself a meal. He didn't really know how to cook, so he decided to make himself a little sandwich. He made a ham and cheese sandwich, the bread soft and inside delicious. He took a good, big bite and smiled. "So good!" He exclaimed. He then turned to Morningstar, and decided to answer to their question. "Don't have to be so rude, but maybe we could have some fun and find out all the secrets of our living quarters."
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The constant tickings and hissings of machinery were really, truly beginning to piss her off.

Upon entering Godsword for the first time, Theo had stopped in her tracks at the sight, thick black brows furrowed together as she observed the rumbling metal monster. Stiffs, as she had come to know them; or, as she had heard them being referred to on the streets, those big metal bastards. That, she found, she could not argue with. The first Stiff she encountered had honed in on her without a second's hesitance, lifeless green eyes flickering over her features quizzically. Theo returned the gaze, annoyed, and after studying her scowl for a moment more, the hulking mass of machinery turned with an unsettling suddenness and walked away.

Apart from the Stiffs, Theo was pleasantly surprised with the city; architecturally, at least. Despite her feelings towards the city and its population, and the fact that she vastly preferred her hometown, she had to admit that it was an impressive feat. Godsword felt alive in its own way, what with the hummings of technology and hushed whispers of locals. The Circle System displayed the city as a behemoth monument, reminding her of the stone-stacking on the beaches back home. Each stack more exclusive than the next, casting a dark shadow on the ring below it, up until the Seventh Circle, reserved for those with statuses rivaling the Gods.

Unpleasant, however, were the plumes of steam and gas around her that made her scrunch her nose in distaste, the smell feeling rancid and heavy in the air. She was not a fan of the feeling of the air here in Godsword, and found herself desperately craving the smells and feels of home, back in Augury Plaza; it wasn't too far, distance-wise, but it felt like lightyears away in terms of personality. Breezes were always light, and the air always smelled of salt and sweetbread and fresh linen. Chatter was lively and bright, discussion plaguing the air, alongside the clinking of vases and pottery and other wares being sold in the markets. Here, there were just the sounds of silent steps, the occasional sputter of technology, and mocking snickers as one went further up into the city.

Next, there was Ivermore. The prestigious magic academy that she had scraped up the funds to attend by working her ass off for various merchants in town. The school, she discovered, was a sort of personal Hell created just for her. The students were snarky, and not in the entertaining way her brothers were. They were snobbish, entitled, and, might she add, not even that advanced with magic! It was clear that social standing went a long way here at Ivermore, and Theo found herself resenting the establishment for that reason. She was able to avoid mockery, solely with her nearly attractive physicality. She had the potential to be pretty if the effort or care was present, but it wasn't. Theo's attention was devoted solely to her own pride, and that was magic.

Some students were more noteworthy than others; those atop the social hierarchy for obvious reasons, but the stragglers at the bottom were just as interesting if you asked Theo. Dalia Ashfield, for example; fair-skinned, big eyes, shiny hair, the whole shebang. She was a pretty girl, no doubt about it, but Theo found her to be bland. It didn't take long to find the root of her popularity: a relative, maybe her father, Grand Consignor Brae Ashfield, a member of the Exalted Council. As a merchant's daughter, Theo was far too familiar with the name, as it was synonymous with power in the buyer's world. It occurred to her that a relationship with the girl would likely be beneficial, if not excruciating.

Other than Dalia, two other students, in particular, piqued her interest. A Morningstar, who acted not quite as she expected. Just by his name, she anticipated him to be cruel and heartless, as his family was known to be; but by careful observation, she quickly determined that likely wasn't the case. He affiliated with a group of ruthless boys, those who came from high-end families, and who were generally malicious to those they looked down upon, but from what Theo could tell, the Morningstar boy wasn't entirely awful. Usually, it appeared that he would just stand on the sidelines quietly while his acquaintances tormented the weak. She figured he likely felt obligated to be associated with them as a result of his family, but other than that she had no opinion on him.

Then, there was Rudderdog. Theo had seen Beastfolk before, and had actually apprenticed for one while working as a deckhand at the docks of Augury Plaza. Her name was Ubaahni, and while Theo was unfamiliar with the proper specifications of her folk, she looked to be a panther of sorts, with sleek, black fur and a long, expressive tail. Ubaahni was a wise woman, who seemed amused by Theo's rambunctiousness and served as a friend of sorts, a confidant. Her experience as Ubaahni's apprentice was all she knew of the Beastfolk, and even she knew that it meant close to nothing. Knowing one did not equate to knowing them all, but she felt as though she had a grasp on who Rudderdog was as an individual. He seemed polite, but it seemed to be a sort of strained politeness as if he were stretched too thin and on the verge of breaking. In general, he was likable, but subject to torment by many of his peers solely for being different. He treated them with kindness and respect, but Theo found that there was a particular glint in his eye that she thought resembled rage. Not that she could blame him, of course. In fact, she held him in respectful regard. To greet such brutal mockery with good manners and such a docile attitude took a hell of a resolve. If it were her, she knew they wouldn't receive such a placid response. Which, she figured, was probably for the best.

She later met the two boys again, after being selected to participate in a training event that would properly showcase her abilities. She'd been invited to spar with a woman by the name of Lady Thaumatan. While the specifics of the event were relatively vague, it was to Theo's understanding that the instructors of Ivermore wanted a general consensus to the abilities of their students; oh, how wrong she was.

Theo, ever the self-confident, went into the match expecting a relatively even fight. Lady Thaumatan was a bit bigger than her in stature, but the young girl had fought tooth and nail to earn her spot in the academy and intended on making an impression. Sure, she'd never formally received any combat training, or even casual training with a weapon, but years of surviving her brothers had to have left her with something. When offered a selection of weaponry, the girl stared quizzically at the arsenal at her disposal before slowly grabbing a generic shortsword. It was admittedly a bit boring, not much longer than a dagger and as close to the sticks and stakes her brothers would jab with, so she deemed it most familiar and set up to spar.

She, evidently, got laid out. Several times, actually, but her pride got the best of her, and each time she tumbled to the ground she stubbornly rose again. The woman was astounding, weaving around the girl with quick, fluid movements, and Theo having to play on the defensive as opposed to her preferred attack. Even with the gap in skill, the girl played smart, dancing around the other woman with clean footwork in a type of deathly ballet. Keeping her blade close to her, she occasionally parried with several swift attacks instead of one powerful one, understanding that the force of her weapon was too meager in size to benefit from a move like that. She demonstrated her magic keenly, a series of sound-based psionics and tricks, like sending the sound of footsteps out in the opposite direction to puzzle Thautaman. Even though she knew her tricks worked best in crowded, social scenarios, she figured there was no use in letting the magic go unseen; and Lady Thautaman seemed to agree, as, despite her beatdown, Theo was chosen to proceed to the smaller group of five. Which, impressively, also housed two of her most noteworthy peers.

Apart from the Morningstar and Rudderdog, who she had already developed slight opinions of, there were two other boys, Keelan Bronzebender and Rusty Goldenrod. Both were Blacksmith's sons, although one perhaps more well-off than the other. They both seemed friendly enough, and while Theo certainly didn't struggle in social situations, she hadn't yet felt a need to forge any bonds. Still, though, she admired their craftiness, with Keelan's borderline obsessive tinkering and Rusty's unique play on the standard shield, they were both promising.

In the past two weeks, Theo had been granted the creativity of helping to design her own customized weapon; with the help of the support group and mechanical wonders available to the Upper Circle, she had created a sort of switchblade mounted on her inner left forearm. It was mechanized in a fashion that allowed her to extend the blade in a fraction of a second, and withdraw it back to its hidden sheathe in an instant, optimizing her stealth-based combat and remaining rather inconspicuous beneath her clothes.

The blade was wickedly sharp, and the first prototype hadn't gone exactly as planned. A faulty mechanical error led the blade to extend as Theo was strapping it on, leaving a jagged gash from the base of her wrist to her palm. The wound had since healed, and she'd just about perfected her gauntlet model, but the scar remained, if not serving as a reminder to be careful. Which, she considered, was a pretty decent reminder to have, especially for someone as headstrong as her.

With her better understanding of her weapon, Theo got right into training, devising ways and strategies to utilize stealth and simplicity into her moves. It truly seemed as though she was honing her skills to become something seriously deadly, and she didn't notice that her peers realized. Seth, in particular. She'd noticed him studying her, and for a brief moment, she found herself miffed that she didn't know what he was thinking. Still, out of the corner of her eye, she watched with a sharp gaze as the fur on his neck rose slightly, an indication of his unnerve. It occurred to her then, with a tiny thrill coursing through her body and sending goosebumps up her body, that her peers may fear her.

Okay, no, no, that wasn't right. She didn't want them to fear her, she wasn't scary, but she didn't want to be perceived as harmless. A healthy dose of intimidation, she wanted to be a formidable foe that one would dread opposing and be elated to have on their side. That was all. She knew that she stood out, as the token girl of the group, but she wanted her ability to exceed theirs, to be able to outmaneuver them and prove to herself, above anyone, that she could.

It seemed as though the group, having trained around each other for about a fortnight with no progress on relationships, was beginning to attempt amongst themselves to have some friendly conversation. She recalled being treated funnily back home as a child, with young merchant's sons being nervous to approach her as though she were some untamed beast. She'd furrowed her brow at them, watching them sternly as they stumbled over their words and toed the ground. Her brothers never got this treatment, and frankly, it annoyed her. She'd decided then and there that boys were quizzical, finicky creatures, and that she didn't have time for their coyness or games of hard-to-get. If approaching a girl was so damn intimidating, then she'd make up for it, beat them at their own game. Theo felt that being shy was just a waste of time, so with that, she stood and marched off towards the library, where Keelan appeared to be attempting a discussion with Seth. Busying herself by browsing the shelves, she spoke without glancing in their direction.

"You lot don't happen to know how they'll be improving our armaments, do you?" she inquired, looking over her shoulder to study the two. After finding a book she deemed suitable to skim through, Notes on Racial Phylogeny, she took a seat perched comfortably on the arm of one of the library chairs. "I feel like there's too much we don't know. Makes you think, huh?"
After much analysis of living specimens, the Council long ago determined that all humans may mate with each other and bear fertile offspring. Generally, the offspring bear the racial traits of the mother, though some traces of the father's race may also be present...
The girl looked up, tilting her face into the palm of her hand. She hummed deftly for a moment, tracing the words on the page with the tip of her finger, barely grazing over the words themselves as if they meant nothing.
It is less clear whether the Beastfolk is interfertile with humans. Though there have been many reports throughout the Eras of children from these unions, there have been no documented offspring...
"The fragments they're referring to, I mean. They've just been so vague about it. I'm not particularly keen to be the test subject of some unexplained experiment."


Previously Shadow_Pup
Void watched as most of the group made their way to the large collection of books within the library and shrugged, opting to check it out for himself, he casually browsed the shelves looking for a good read to pass the time. Upon discovering a book on the history of Psionic magic, he smiled and pulled it from the shelf, or at least tried to, the old book had become wedged in an overcrowded shelf and as it was freed it flew from his hand, straight into the back of Theodosia's head. Void turned around hastily and accidentally broke character as he reached out to see if she was OK "oh god, I'm so sorry, are you OK, the book got stuck and..." he trailed off and cleared his throat before straightening up again "uh...I mean..uh....never mind" he said angrily and grabbed the book before hurriedly leaving the library area and finding a more secluded spot to read his book.

He found a chair in a quiet corner and sighed heavily, he hoped he hadn't given away anything. He got comfortable and began to read through the book, finding out about families including his own throughout the years and how they slowly improved the power of psionic magic. He found himself beginning to sing as he sat there, not really sure why he did but he enjoyed singing, it calmed him down. He had ignored his own suggestion to have some fun and had instead opted to do exactly what he had scolded the 'commoners' for doing and had realized that being alone would probably be better right now.

"There once was a ship that put to sea, the name of the ship was the Billy o' Tea, the winds blew up, her bow dipped down, O blow, me bully boys, blow" the song he chose to sing was a shanty he had overheard on one of his strolls back home, it had been emanating from some tavern and he had enjoyed the liveliness of it, he knew the words by heart and casually sang them as he delved deeper into the history of his preferred class of magic.


Resident Furry
As the little group of students split to go about their ways, Seth was surprised to see he was not the only one to make his way towards the library. In the time it had taken him to make a circuit of the dining table before he made his way here, the Bronzebender boy had already arrived at the little book nook, and was perusing the shelves himself. Seth would have expected him to make a beeline for the tinker’s workshop, given that he always seemed to have some pet project or other going. At first, it seemed as if the human did not notice his presence, and was thinking out loud, but then – even more surprising – Bronzebender actually turned and spoke to him!

Bronzebender’s first name was… Ah, it was Keelan, that was right. He should be sure to use it, they were going to be working closely together, and it would only be fair that he return at least some degree of the boy’s friendliness. The otter hadn’t had any trouble with the smith’s son in the past. He leaned his harpoon against his shoulder – having the largest weapon of the group was a bit awkward, he had to admit – and tried to adopt a more casual posture.

“Yes, it is quite nice,” he replied, “We should count ourselves lucky that we have been given it.”

He gave Keelan a smile, an expression he’d learned in his time with humans was all in the eyes. They enjoyed showing their teeth as well, but he’d quickly learned that doing such a thing just made him look like he was bearing his fangs. People tended not to like that, it made him look dangerous. Another voice quickly joined their conversation, however, that of Mequie – Theo. He glanced in her direction, and could not help his eyes sliding down to see the title of the book she was reading. A book on Phylogeny. He could not even imagine what such a text would say about his people.

His eyes quickly snapped back to her face though, to show he was listening. Eye contact was another important aspect in human conversation. The way she studied people sometimes, Seth wondered in Theo had the power to see right through them. To find out some essential aspect of them by sight alone. They said the eyes were the window to the soul, after all. She was asking about these mysterious fragments their weapons would be housing. She had concerns, that mirrored some of his own, and probably those of the other students, about how much they were all being kept in the dark.

“I am afraid I am as in the dark as you are,” he said, “the name of the man in charge, Gutrechs, is familiar to me. I caught sight of him studying us at practice today. Weaponry appears to be his forte. I do not care for this secrecy, either, I –”

He wasn’t able to continue that thought however, as in that instant Morningstar – who had evidently gotten bored of no one responding to his attempts at getting a rise out of them – quite literally threw a book at the back of Theo’s head. The suddenness of the action caught him quite off guard, he blinked and missed if the book actually struck true or not, but the next thing he knew Morningstar was stuttering, then sputtering, then running off. He watched the other boy go, then turned back to Theo.

“Are you alright?”
Keelan held his breath, waiting for the response from the beastfolk, this was, Keelan realized mournfully, his first attempt at truly socializing since he had come to Godsword. Sure, his first few days at Ivermore, before he had realized how far names and titles went at the academy, he had attempted to be open to meeting new people. Had tried his hand at introductions a few times. He learned quickly that it was in vain, most would see him as a poor farm boy and nothing else. To say nothing of the fact that he was one of the only people in his village who learned to read! And the fact that his constructs were more advanced than even some of the upper classmen! The former he owed to his mother, knowing the importance of exercising her son's mind along with the physical exercise he was getting from work. The latter he owed to his father, a more accomplished metalworker Keelan would never know - and it was in his father's designs and components that Keelan had found his love of tinkering.

Regardless, he caught his mind wandering and shook his head from his reverie. All of this boiled down to the fact that he was nervous, afraid even, that in the midst of this unprecedented situation, he would still end up alone - an outcast - amongst the five of them in the Artifice Knights. Whatever that title meant, or would mean, wouldn't matter in the end. So it was a great relief that when Seth spoke, he not only acknowledged Keelan's words, but smiled at him!

The tension building up in the Bronzebender boy's body slackened, if only a little, as he responded, "back home, I never would have dreamed to have access to all of this. I still can't quite believe that Lady Thaumatan chose me for this. Like I'll wake up tomorrow and they'll pack my things up and tell me it was all a joke." He smiled sadly, realizing that he was being a bit of a downer, not a good first impression, he thought clearing his throat. He opened his mouth to speak again, but another voice joined in their conversation.

It was Theodosia, she had come over to peruse the library as well, though she didn't seem to give much thought to the book she picked up. She had asked about their knowledge of the program and what exactly they were going to be doing. Before Keelan had a chance to respond, Seth was already speaking. While Seth answered, Keelan's mind wandered again, thinking over Theo's questions himself. There were definitely more questions than answers that they had been given so far, but he hoped that come tomorrow morning, they would get a better understanding of the whole ordeal.

The boy's ears perked up at Seth's mention of Master Gutrechs name, but before the Beastfolk could finish his thought, and well before Keelan could input his own thoughts on the matter, another unforeseen instance occurred. A book, one that the Morningstar boy had been struggling to pull from the shelf apparently, came flying through the air toward the back of Theo's head. It all happened so fast that Keelan hadn't even seen whether or not the projectile had struck true or not, but he looked away in dismay regardless, not wanting Theo to feel embarrassed by the encounter. Or perhaps in anticipation of whatever Theo's response would be. Regardless, the Morningstar fellow seemed, uncharacteristically, to apologize and stumble over his words. Keelan raised an eyebrow, looking up to ensure he had seen correctly that it was Morningstar who was speaking.

A second later and the boy had absconded with the tome, leaving the three of them there as before, though the conversation had, obviously, halted. Seth asked whether the girl was alright, and Keelan cleared his throat and added, "wow... that was... uh yeah, are you ok?" Being at a complete loss for words, glancing after Morningstar and wondering just what that little show was all about. Was he actually stumbling over himself to apologize? If not, just what was he playing at?
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What a bunch. Theo watched Seth as he nodded into what she was saying, seeming very sure to maintain eye contact and seem engaged. She studied him with interests piqued as he carefully monitored his expressions. His movements were slow, deliberate; she watched his whiskers twitch slightly as she spoke, and followed his gaze to find that it had drifted down to the book she'd been skimming. Everything he did was intended, and it seemed to her that he was trying very hard to be as human as possible, and for a moment, she felt a twinge of pity.

She noticed Bronzebender, too, out of the corner of her eye; looking as though he desperately wanted to participate in the conversation, but wasn't quite sure how to interject. Instead, she watched from her peripherals as he mulled over her question silently, and turned back to Seth as he spoke.

His answer, unfortunately, wasn't of any satisfaction to her; she didn't expect them to have any answers, naturally, but she'd been hoping regardless. Perhaps she was naive. She nodded sagely, seeming to be caught up in her own thoughts when a shout sounded behind her, accompanied by a thwack on her head. Instinctively, she whirled around, feeling a gentle ebb of pain thrumming in her skull as she came face to face with a worried-looking Morningstar, just as a book clattered to the floor.

He was speaking to her, babbling apologies with a face contorted with sympathy for a split second, before it seemed he forced himself back into his cold, distant self. He stormed off before Theo could speak, but the worried hand hovering over her shoulder for that brief moment did not go unnoticed by the girl.

She was being asked if she was alright, by both Bronzebender and Rudderdog. Clearing her throat quietly and turning back to them, she uttered, "yeah, fine. Just threw me off guard is all," but found herself looking back in the direction that Morningstar stalked off to with a wary expression. Either Morningstar had a soft side, as she'd initially anticipated, or maybe he was just so cunning that he was trying to implant that thought into her head... Refusing to be outwitted, the girl sat there quietly for a moment longer, brewing over the thought.

Theo stood suddenly, curtly brushing nonexistent dust off of her uniform as if she were just trying to find something to do with her hands. "I guess that's my cue to get to sleep. I'll see you two in the morning, then," she stated flatly, offering a brief nod as a sort of thank you for checking in with her and walking off without another word, ignoring the gentle ache in her head and leaving Notes on Racial Phylogeny splayed open on her chair.

As she walked back to the direction of the bedrooms, she stopped in her tracks at a quiet melody. Quizzically, she hushed, and did, in fact, hear singing. Of course, she knew the words; she had heard sailors singing it during her time working at the port. The words came to her mind immediately, silently filling in the rest of the song when the voice stopped.

Soon may the Wellerman come,
To bring us sugar and tea and rum,
One day when the tonguin' is done,
We'll take our leave and go.

The same voice that had just been apologizing to her moments ago. Gnawing at her lower lip, she ignored it and carried on, though not without noticing it was Morningstar who had been singing the tune. With that, the girl retired to her room, climbing into bed and laying there sleeplessly, alone with her thoughts until the quiet hours of the night finally lulled her to sleep.


Resident Furry
Thankfully, it seemed that no great harm was done. Hopefully this little episode wasn’t a bad omen for future team cohesion. He couldn’t let this experiment fail, not until he had more information at least. Just in case they decided to try again at some other point, with some other group. If this weapon had even the slightest chance of being turned against his people, he had to know all he could, so they could work against it. It wouldn’t be like the Stiffs again, not if he could help it.

Theo, having confirmed to them that she was alright, decided that this was probably a good time for her to head to bed. Seth returned her curt nod, and wished her a brief “Sleep well,” before turning back to the bookshelf to pick out something for himself. He pointedly ignored the book Theo had left open on the page she had been reading. There were somethings he felt it was probably better he did not know.

Of course, it was then that he remembered that Keelan had said something before the whole event with Theo happened. Seth hadn’t actually responded, and the poor boy had barely been able to get a word in edgewise since. He quickly tried to replay the conversation in his head back to the last thing Keelan had said. The boy had been nervous, he should try to say something encouraging.

“It seems that, in some way, we were all exceptional picks. Save for Morningstar, none of us have a name to fall back on. We do not track in the circles of this town,” he mused, lightly running a claw across the spines of a few books. “You are here of your own merits, thanks to your own hard work, because you have impressed Lady Thaumatan. Do not let anyone try and take that from you.”

He picked out a book simply titled Naedria: A History, presuming such a text might have some useful – or at least interesting – information on the goings on on the continent. At the very least, it was good to be informed of potential areas of friction he might have to watch out for. History had a way of repeating, after all. Reading material in hand, he turned back to face Keelan.

“Try not to let your thoughts overwhelm you,” he smiled again. “Rest when you can, we have an early day tomorrow.”

And with that, Seth excused himself to his own room.


Previously Shadow_Pup
Void sat with the book reading it swiftly as he yawned, he was more knackered then he had first realised so he stood from the chair and made his way to the library to return the book. Once the book was in its rightful space he silently absconded to his quarters and after clearing his mind and silencing his thoughts, he lay down and let sleep take him. He did these nightly meditations to assure that he wouldn't conjure up any illusions in his sleep as they tended to give away things and could get a bit out of control.
Before he knew it, his chance at some regular conversation ended as Theo excused herself, remaining well composed despite what had happened. He was glad to see that she wasn't hurt in any way, the tome looked rather large and heavy from what he could see. Most of them did, in fact, the library was well stocked in literature that appeared historical or scientific in nature. When Seth spoke, it broke Keelan's train of thought as he traced the shelves full of books. The boy was a bit surprised by the Beastfolk's kind words, Seth had seemed so distant and quiet the past few weeks, Keelan couldn't help but smile at the response.

"Thanks, I'll try to keep that in mind. It sure is weird going from being a nobody to all this, but I'm glad I don't have to experience it all alone. G'night," he said with another warm smile. And just like that, Keelan was alone in the library, he sighed again as he looked over the books. It was hard to decide what to read when there were so many to choose from, but as he traced his finger along the spines of the books, one caught his attention titled Magic and Gears: A Brief History of Mechanical Enchantments.

He took the book and went to the baths, impressed and a little intimidated by the hot water taps, he ran a bath - which was admittedly a little too hot, but still enjoyable - and relaxed for a while, just thinking about the situation. Tomorrow they would find out what these fragments were, but given who the mastermind behind the whole project was, he expected it to be something extraordinary. He glanced at the scythe, leaning against the wall beside his clothes, and imagined what the weapon powered by whatever a fragment was would be like. He was a little hesitant to be handling something that commanded as much power as what his imagination conjured, but obviously someone thought he was able and ready to do so.

It made him feel a little better to know that there were people who believed in his abilities, but he was also afraid that he could not live up to their expectations. He had never disappointed anyone before. Shaking his head, plugging his nose and taking a deep breath, he dunked below the water, popping back up with a bit of a splash - it worked to help clear his head. He looked at the scythe, preoccupying his thoughts by thinking of modifications that he could make to the weapon. The boy decided to call it a night and head to his room, excited to read a bit of Magic and Gears and taking some inspiration for his weapon modifications before falling asleep. Before long, his eyes grew heavy and sleep overtook him, the book open on his chest as he slept through the night, dreaming of the possibilities the next dawn would bring with it.
Leanna caught every glance thrown her way as she walked the marble streets at sunrise. Some were plain curiosity at the sight of someone not Champion, mage or staff in the Sixth Circle; some were of evident disdain and accompanied by grimaces. They’d never be so bold, she mused, if they caught word of her lineage; the Thaumatan name came with a burden of expectation, but equally a certain measure of respect, enough for her to keep the name when all other ties were cut.

The Knights’ lodgings were a decent walk from the centre, sat among storehouses and staff quarters, and even further from their appointed training grounds and the grander barracks of the orders of Champions. Sure, they were only temporary quarters, meant to bridge the gap between the project’s shaky launch and its anticipated but Leanna hoped it would keep the youngsters from falling prey to lavishness or delusions of grandeur, or any such ails seen all too commonly in the highest echelons of fighters. In truth, she was glad the responsibility of mentoring a new rank of protectors had befallen her. There were none she trusted as much as herself, to train them to have real impact on the sorry state of Naedria- not just live large as trailblazers of another exciting technology.

The usual crew of uniformed stewards awaited her at the grounds. “G’morn, Lady Thaumatan.” The lead, a man of perhaps forty who tipped his hat, greeted her. “Are we setting up the targets again today?” Leanna returned his greeting with a bow of the head. “No need, practice will be a little more lively today.” She replied. “Actually, I would appreciate a few sweatrags, canteens of water and medical kits. Chances are they’ll make use of those.”


The Knights had made it to the grounds in time, all looking fairly refreshed and sated. Standing at attention in front of Leanna, she regarded them with hands clasped behind her back. Goldenrod tapped an impatient rhythm on the edge of his shield; Bronzebender held his scythe blade-up expectantly, resting the other end on the cobblestone. Morningstar had his arms crossed, Mequie rubbed a spot at the back of her head with a slight wince, and Rudderdog gripped his harpoon as though he were standing guard, focused solely on her.

“Artifice Knights, tonight’s the eve of your initiation.” She started. “I’ll deliver more news when your training concludes. Focus on the task at hand- practice is not just your duty, it is essential to your survival.” She looked each of them sternly in the eyes. “You may all be gifted fighters for your age; you have not faced the extent of what this world throws at those who stand before the innocent. You will need knowledge of how to counter whatever you may face, and that starts with defending against more than simple blade, tooth and claw.”

“Therefore, you will be sparring against one another. I will call your opponents and the time- the lone fifth each round will be facing me.” She rested her gauntleted hand on the pommel of her bastard sword, at the crossguard of which was set a large, rough-hewn purple gemstone. "The aim is not to one-up the other; it's to get a sense of their style and capabilities, so that once you are fighting side by side, you will know how to cooperate. Practice restraint, too- breaking through your opponent's defenses without harming them is a valuable skill to master. Same goes for spells and psionics- use them, but keep your peers safe."

She drew her sword, baring a blade that had clearly seen much use, though a notch near the base seemed intentionally made. "Rudderdog and Goldenrod can start off. Mequie will face off with Morningstar. Bronzebender, with me."


As the day progressed, the shadow of the Godsword passed over the city like a sundial- a fully intentional design, as at midday it cleaved the Circles in twain. Her involvement in the sparring did not stop Leanna from observing the other pairs closely; she’d been right to think putting the Knights against moving targets, deflecting blades and spells, livened them up. The matchups were fierce to start, each Knight hoping to prove their worth again, but as the hours dragged on and the only respite came from watering breaks and one for lunch provisions, the battles came down more to tactics and blows grew infrequent and deliberate.

To their credit, few dared complain; the realization seemed to have set in that this level of exertion would be routine moving forward. None seemed to have second thoughts about their involvement, and they continued to fight until Leanna called time at four past noon and had them stand at attention, slickened with sweat and shaking off the ache in their limbs.

“You’ve put in good effort today.” She began. “You’re expected to keep that up. I have a solid grasp now on the pitfalls that each of you needs to work hardest on, but that's a matter for our next session. You’ll have a few hours to dine and freshen up before the ceremony. You’ll be required to don your armour after it’s cleaned, and the stewards will take you to the hall.”

Leanna crossed her arms. “I have one last announcement to make, so pay close attention. I was informed earlier today that this team will be receiving a sixth and final addition.” She watched looks of interest and confusion get shared between the Knights. “This individual was put forward as a participant from the project’s inception, but her… complicated allegiances muddled the prospect of her joining. Until, apparently, a few days ago. She is currently underway from Crowharbour and should be present just in time for the initiation. You will likely have little time to get to know her before, so save your questions for after.”

The Knights were looking expectant, waiting for a reveal. “Not to be cryptic for the sake of it, but I’ll leave her the honour of introducing herself. Also, I prefer for you not to head into any engagement with preconceived notions or expectations. She carries a name some of you will recognize- that’s all I’ll say.” She followed up. “Now, off to your quarters. The eyes of much of the Assembly will be upon you tonight; consider what impression you leave.”

She waved them off with a gesture.


OOC Notes;
  • Sorry for the long wait!
  • Feel free to describe one (or all) of the sparring sessions and your character’s impressions of the others! These are not win/lose scenarios, so don’t worry about “coming out on top” (It’s actually more fun if your character realizes their weaknesses/is impressed by the others!).
  • We’re heading to a big ceremony, which could be nerve-wracking for the Knights! Especially with this mysterious broad joining the party...


Resident Furry
When he woke up the next morning, he found the book he had been reading resting open against his bare chest. He’d been more tired than he thought. Still he felt mostly refreshed, and was more then used to being an early riser. Despite that, he didn’t have much time to engage in quiet contemplation. They were expected to be on the training field early today, dressed in their new uniforms besides. So he set the book on the bedside table beside him, deciding he’d give it another shot tonight, and slid out of bed, raking claws through his fur as he did so.

As far as that new uniform went, he wasn’t really looking forward to wearing it. He’d mostly ignored it the previous night, left it hanging with some of his other clothes in a small wardrobe, but he did not have that luxury today. It was a stuffy looking thing in blues and silver, armored just enough to protect key points without impeding mobility. Notably, it had been modified to take into account his physique, which immediately gave it a leg up over his previous uniform. Aside from the most important – a hole in the pants for his tail, he wouldn’t have to make it himself for once – the outfit featured vambraces but no gauntlets, and greaves without sabatons. No helmet to speak of, either. There was a bulkier breastplate to protect his vital organs, but the rest of his torso was trusted to a hauberk he was apparently expected to wear between the topmost shirt and an undershirt. Taking into account his fur, that meant five layers between his skin and the air, and he was expected to do some pretty heavy exertion in this gear.

He wasn’t going to complain though. He would treat this as any other test designed to break his will, with dignity and poise. Once he’d dressed himself, he had enough time for a short breakfast before, harpoon in hand, it was off to the training grounds again. In the long march, he was subjected to many of the same hostile stares and furtive glances as he’d always been. Such things seemed to get worse the higher up he climbed in the rings. People were always quick to remind him with their eyes that he did not belong, not so close to their centers of power, not on this ring, not in this city. Perhaps not even on this continent. He’d long since learned to be weary of traveling alone through the city. That knowledge would prove especially useful here. Still, it was a long way from their lodgings to the training yard, and a lot could happen, even in a group.

Upon reaching the training ground, it was revealed that today would be a set of sparring matches. Seth made sure to stand at attention as the general orders of the day were given, the same way his father expected him to stand back when he was getting his harpoon drillings. They would be paired off into matches with one another, with the odd student out each round facing their teacher in a rematch of their first encounter. It was important that they not harm one another, naturally, make use of their skills without going overboard. So, this was also a lesson in controlling themselves.

He was first paired against Goldenrod, who he hadn’t had the chance to speak with the night prior. The boy’s shield turned out to be quite good at parrying his probing spear jabs, and it allowed the boy to sling spells from relative safety. Goldenrod’s reaction speed, however, left something to be desired, and once Seth started pushing the offensive cracks began to show. Goldenrod was learning quick, but Seth had been training for more than half his life at this point. At one point, the Otter Beastfolk jabbed his harpoon into the ground, and with a little magic under his heels, vaulted over the short boy’s head, and aimed a kick directly at Goldenrod’s upper back. That was maybe taking things a little too far, but Seth hoped Goldenrod would understand that not every challenger would give him an honorable fight.

His second matchup was against Theo. If she felt any lingering pain from last night’s book attack, it didn’t seem to affect her any. Her speed was dangerous, her weapon unpredictable. His best bet was to keep her at a distance, but she constantly challenged him on that front, much like Lady Thaumatan had. He was only able to make one opening for himself the entire time: by sticking his harpoon’s point into the ground once again, but this time directing some magic into the weapon’s point, and flicking it upwards to splash dirt into Theo’s face. That gave him the chance to go on the offensive, but once she’d recovered it was back to their usual dance.

His third bout was against Thaumatan herself once again. This time, he was determined to not go down so easily, he needed to prove he was improving. Still, there were no two ways about it, she simply out skilled him in every measure. He was able to hold his ground a little better than he had the previous time, however, several times managing to smack her sword out of the way with a flourish of the blunt end of his weapon before threatening her with a slash as he twirled the sharp end back around. She’d always danced out of range before he had a chance to connect, but the fact that he’d made her back off for once, rather than the other way around, was a sign of improvement in his book at least.

Fourth was Keelan, and by now Seth was starting to feel the exertion getting to him. Keelan fought with a scythe, and the two of them spent more time probing each other’s reach for weaknesses. This was a contest Seth had some advantage in, being both taller and with a longer weapon. Not to mention, a scythe’s cutting edge being on the inside meant it favored wide slashes, and trying to get close and hook its opponent from behind. So long as Seth kept distance, he was able to punish any attempts at that with quick forward thrusts of his own weapon. Much more dangerous was the boy’s magic, it reminded Seth of his own in some ways, and more than once he had to dodge an attempted trap spell.

Finally was Morningstar, he of the mixed messages. Tired as he was becoming, Seth refused to let the haughty boy embarrass him. Still, his training was probably the one that closest mirrored the Beastfolk’s own level of experience, and his daggers allowed him to get uncomfortably close. He became dangerously close to losing his composure at several points, forced to beat Morningstar back with the shaft of his weapon or his tail, or defect attempted cuts off his vambraces, or lash out with a kick or a punch to get some space. Still, none of it seemed to keep the boy back for long, if anything Morningstar seemed to get wilder the more the fight progressed. And this wasn’t even taking into account the illusions. By the time Thaumatan called time it was clear that this had been a fight Seth had been undoubtedly losing.

When they were called to attention he returned to his previous at-rest pose, leaning ever so slightly on his weapon, and doing his best to keep his breathing controlled. Beastfolk didn’t sweat like humans did, and the heat had been getting to him. But he couldn’t show weakness, not here and not now. So he tried not to pant too hard as he listened closely to their mentor’s words. Their initiation would be tonight, and they would have a few hours to freshen up beforehand. Also, they’d be joined by a sixth member prior to the big event. Apparently, she’d been kept from joining them prior by some complicated allegiances. He couldn’t help but think to himself that if they were more complicated than being the prince of a conquered people, it must be severe indeed. Or perhaps there simply was something they weren’t being told.

They would have their chance to find out after the ceremony. For now though, they were dismissed back to their quarters. Food and a chance to cool off were both greatly appreciated, so Seth wasn’t going to complain. He was used to people being secretive around him anyway. He gave a quick salute, drawing his feet together and pounding his left fist against the right side of his chest, before turning smartly on his heel and marching out of the arena. At this point, he was too worn out to check if his fellow students were even following him.


Previously Shadow_Pup
Void woke up groggily in the chair he had claimed the day before, he had nodded off before managing to make it to his bed. He stood up shaking himself awake before promptly making his way to his room to change and freshen himself up. The uniform was functional and restricted his movements a lot less than previous uniforms but Void was very aware of how he dressed, even if he didnt see eye to eye with his family there was one thing he agreed with them on, and that was style. He is family greatly believed that one should aim for sleek and stylish over bulky and protective, after all if you could trick and out over your opponent you would have no such need for armour. Nether the less he donned the uniform and after a rushed breakfast made the journey to the training grounds.

Upon finally reaching the training grounds, only having to deal with the odd drunken fool ir pickpocket, he listened to his instructions and nodded swiftly in understanding. Sparring was a great excuse to test out who was better, as he father would put it, but it was also a way to better understand the capabilities of your team. He prepared for his first bout.

His first opponent was Theo. He still felt a little bad about the book incident but he wouldn't cheat her out of a decent fight by going easy on her. He had been wary of fighting her and for good reason her speed and ferocity nearly rivaled his own and the fight was a good one, on more than one occasion she nearly bested him, if not for his trickery and illusions Void would have lost miserably.

His next opponent was Thaumatan, he was ready for this fight and immediately had put his illusions to good work by having her fight multiple copies of himself before attacking her from behind and getting her in a headlock on to have the butt of her weapon hit him in the stomach winding him, clearly he needed to handle his cockiness.

Next was Keelan this fight was hard fought and an honest struggle for Void as he had to rely much more on his illusions to avoid getting caught by the scythe that kept him at bay with its wide swings, he managed to trick his way into some opening but not many, he was a little out matched against such a weapon.

Finally he was up against the beast. The otter's training showed clearly as the two fought hard each getting in their fair amount of hits but Void soon managed to get the upper hand due to his opponents reliance on long range combat. He revelled in the fact that once time was called it had been clear that he had been winning.

After the matches they regrouped and Thaumatan gave out more instructions that made Void yawn in order to keep up his character. He perked up slightly at the mention of an addition to the team "ooo a fresh face, now that sounds interesting, I certainly hope she's an improvement over present company" he said not even attempting to be quiet. He cringed inwardly at himself but refused to lose his facade at least until after initiation.

Once dismissed Void eagerly took off his uniform, only to reveal a fine suit beneath it. He had been fighting in multiple layers this entire time and was only sweating a small bit. He held the uniform over his arm as he began to walk back. He faced a lot less problems on the way back now that his parentage was clear due to the multiple hints on his attire, including cufflinks, tie clip and a tattoo on his neck all baring the Morningstar family crest, which was two blackstars with four points overlapping to create a star with eight points.

His fourth fight was against Goldenrod and the boy's shield prove to be quite a bloody nuisance. Once multiple attacks proved fruitless he simply made the boy's shield appear to have vanished, of course it was still there and the boy could feel it in his arm but the fact he couldn't see it made him flinch as Void lunged allowing Void to bypass the shield. He removed the illusion deciding the fight to be over.
Keelan almost overslept, having spent much of the night in uneasy dreams about what the next day would bring, he had only fallen into a deeper slumber shortly before the sun began to rise. If not for the shuffling of his fellow students and the opening and closing of the heavy dormitory doors, the boy may have slept through the entire event at the training grounds. Thankfully, his eyes flitted open, the book he had been reading lay open on the floor beside the bed, his restlessness was evident in the disheveled sheets and blankets of his bed. Taking a deep breath, the boy stepped out of bed and stooped to pick up the book, looking over the cover absentmindedly, his thoughts wandering to the ideas that had engulfed his imagination the night before as his gaze drifted to the scythe. Soon, but not yet, he thought, shuffling over to the mannequin with his uniform arranged on it. He dressed himself quickly, quietly lost in thought, which continued until he came back to reality with the realization he was standing in formation with his fellows. Luckily his body's instincts led him where he needed to go while his consciousness was occupied elsewhere. Now, though, he needed to pay attention.

A series of sparring matches were to be their order of the day, up until they were dismissed to collect themselves for the ceremony that night. The thought of himself at a well-to-do event with so many prominent figures in Godsword's higher circles made his head spin, he had to ground himself in the moment by remembering he was about to spar with his classmates, and that they were all a fair bit more practiced than he was.

His first opponent was Lady Thaumatan, of course, and Keelan was both glad he was matched against her first, while his strength was fresh, and intimidated because she was, of course, outrageously out of his league with her combat prowess. She was fast, and he still felt clunky at times with his scythe, for the most part this match went her way and Keelan played catch up. There was one moment that he felt pride swell in his chest, he took a heavy, wide swing at her and she did a backflip to avoid it, landing on her hand briefly then pushing off back onto her feet; during this flourish, Keelan allowed the momentum of his swing to spin him into a second heavy swing, this time he focused his magic and released an arcing blast of force energy from the end of his weapon that connected with Lady Thaumatan just as she landed back on her feet. It knocked her off balance and Keelan followed up with an overhead swing closing the distance between them. She recovered and deflected his blow easily, but she offered him a hearty, "good!" As she did so.

Next he was paired with Goldenrod, and the boy knew his shield much better than Keelan knew his scythe. Keelan was largely unable to find an opening in the defense of his opponent, being forced to focus on defending himself from the combination of Goldenrod's physical defense and magical offense. The scythe user gained the upper hand once in the match, as he stepped with his right leg he released a burst of magic, which traveled through the ground and created a trapping rune to Goldenrod's left, Keelan then stepped and swung his scythe from the opposite direction, forcing his opponent to step into the rune, which burst with a violet energy and coiled around Goldenrod's leg, slowing his reactions. The boy was quick to recover, however, and as Keelan tried to press his advantage, some quick footwork by Goldenrod and a flourish of his shield knocked Keelan square on his rump - Keelan recognized he was too eager to close the distance between them and could have followed up with another attack to break Goldenrod's defense fully before such a move should have been made. Still, Keelan's pride was the only thing that was hurt as he went into his third match up.

Morningstar's weapons proved to be a bad match up for Keelan's extended reach, and Keelan used this knowledge to his advantage throughout the bout. The day was dragging on by this match, and Keelan felt his chest rising and falling slower and slower with each intake of hot afternoon air. It made it even more difficult to see through the illusions that Morningstar continued to produce. Keelan was forced onto the defensive a few times, and it made him think outside the box with his abilities, as Morningstar attempted to throw him off with a doppelganger illusion of himself, seemingly attacking from two directions at once, Keelan dragged his scythe's blade through the dirt and sent a force wave through his weapon into the earth and kicking up a dust cloud for cover, managing to avoid the attack and getting back into the fray.

Seth was next and where Morningstar's weapons were a poor match up for Keelan's scythe, the harpoon that Seth used was much more adept at keeping Keelan at bay. They both had reach, but where Seth's weapon was made for thrusts, Keelan was beaten by the speed that Seth could employ in his attacks, meaning that he had to rely much more on his magic in this fight. A tall enough order as it was, coupled with the fact that this was his fourth match, and each spell really took its toll on his endurance. Though he could tell that he was not the only one feeling the effects of the long day, which made him feel better about his own toughness. They shared many similarities in their weapons, but also their magic shared many similarities as well. They were both fairly focused on Metamancy, and overall this match up felt the most balanced of any of the matches he had fought.

Lastly was Theo, at the beginning of their bout, Keelan almost asked how her head was after the incident the previous night, but her eyes told him that this was all business, so Keelan quickly took a fighting stance and began the match. Keelan had thought that he would have the upper hand in this match, much like with Morningstar's, because of the range advantage that he held. That did not quite prove to be the case, however, as Theo's speed was dangerous, and her attacks were quick and precise. Keelan found himself expending a lot of energy throughout the match as he tried to predict her movements and place snare spells in her path. As he dodged and weaved, he placed smaller traps with every step, eventually encircling them both in runic symbols barely glowing against the ground. He managed to get her with that maneuver, but the effort expended so much energy he was unable to capitalize on it before his opponent recovered and the remaining glyphs faded.

After what felt like an eternity, the students were called back to attention and Thaumatan gave them a few final announcements, the most surprising of which was the addition of another member to their ranks, though the announcement was a bit on the cryptic side, as they didn't learn her name or, in fact, much about her at all - aside from something about her allegiances being complicated, whatever that meant. Keelan gave a sidelong glance at Seth before Morningstar piped up about present company, which Keelan barely heard as they were dismissed and he wiped the sweat from his brow. He was definitely going back to the dorms for a bath and a bite to eat before the ceremony, though his stomach was sour at the prospect of the event, more nervous about the event than the sparring matches he had just gone through. He took a deep breath and started back to the dorms, his mind racing once again as he anticipated the presentation of the knights at the ceremony and all who would be in attendance.