A Knight's Quest

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Darkness descends

Mason chuckles, "As you say, ma'dam healer. Still, very few I've heard of have ever gotten an audible response from the Mogen, and fewer still have even been in her presence." He smirks, "Or, everyone has... if you believe the church." Mason left it at that. He knew that he was basically playing the pot here, for even fewer have had interactions with his god, yet the knight served him still. 

Smiling some and eager to change the discusion, the knight bows, "Yes, of course ma'am. Let us hurry our way then."

Mason and Emerald would walk the road for the better part of the day. Along the way he made idle chat, talking about the small things and occasionally pointing out some ruin or landmark. Anyone that passed them would see two travellers holding small talk and not necessarily a knight and a healer. Despite all appearances though, Mason kept a keen eye on his surroundings and those that they passed on the road.

As day started to slide into evening Mason spotted something peculiar up ahead. Stopping, he took assessment of the situation. There was an overturned wagon, some bags spilling out of it and some guy seemingly injured on the road. He noticed no horse, but did see some tracks. No one else was on the road, but there were some bushes and an old ruined partial wall, as well as a small scattering of maple trees. 

Mason sighed, he figured he'd see just what his companion was all about. After all, if they are to travel together on such a dangerous and important mission, it was important to know his new ally more. He motions ahead to the overturned wagon and injured man, "Hey Emerald, what do you make of that up there?"

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Emerald was happy enough. Perhaps content would be a better word. The chit chat the knight made and the pointing out and talking about various landmarks was interesting and Emerald would sometimes interject with a question or two about whatever he was talking about at the time. She was more than happy to let him do most of the talking so soon in their new companionship. Emerald would open up more, but only as she became more comfortable with him.

As day slowly progressed towards evening, Emerald was just beginning to think about how tired and hungry she was when they came upon a scene that distressed her to some level. She stopped when Mason did and regarded the overturned cart, the injured person and other details. Keen critical eyes assessed the situation and though her main focus was on the injured person, something didn't feel right about it all.

Not the type of person to rush headlong into potential danger she looked over at her companion. Keeping her voice low but watching the scene, she said to him. "I'd be cautious. It looks a little too easy. The guy could well have been robbed, but it could just as easily be a setup to rob someone else. Also, unless this is very very recent, how is it that no one else has happened upon this and tried to help?" Shifting her wings in irritation she was silent for a moment.

"I'll move up first and see about the injured one. If indeed they are hurt, I can help. But I won't be able to pay attention to other things very well if I am helping them. I need someone to guard my back. I trust you to be that someone Mason."
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Mason smiles, she had good instincts. As a healer he knew she couldn't just ignore the man, but at least she was aware of the possibility of it being a trap. Nodding, Mason agrees, "I have your back," he whipsers before quietly ducking behind something. He found a largish bush just off the side of the road. It would allow him a clear view of everything around him and the man and he would be able to act quick enough should something happens. He readies a pair of throwing knives and watches with anticipation.

The man groans in the middle of the road and appears to try to move some. He slides his right leg as if it is broken. Around him is a toppled cart with some spilled grain and fruit. The clothes he wears looks worn and like the clothes of a farmer, though anyone with a keen enough eye could tell they don't fit just right. That and there appears to be some blood splatter on them. The ground looks too clean almost.

The man groans, seeing the angerian woman. He reaches forward and calls out weakly, "Please miss.... my ankle... I think its broken. Can you heal me?"

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With the assurance that Mason was guarding her back, Emerald started forward, keen eyes picking up little details of the situation. As she neared, her eyes flitted over to the ruin of the small wall and the maple trees, checking for anything that might seem out of the ordinary. All of her senses were on high alert because this didn't feel right to her. But she was a healer and if she could heal and help someone then she would. Still her wings shifted again in her irritation.

Seeing the man, she did her best to put on a calming smile for him. Though on alert she was entering into healing mode and would need to see to her newest patient. It wasn't until he asked if she could heal him though that she drew up short, still around 20 feet or so away from him. He was asking for her help but then he asked if she could heal him. That didn't sit right with her. Other than the bag she carried which was overfull of things in addition to her medical supplies, there was nothing about her that should lead the man to believe that she could heal him. Her clothes which were wrinkled may have once been the fine clothing of palace life, but there was nothing that said healer. Not to mention she still had the bandage around her upper right arm from where she had been stabbed.

She didn't know the fellow either, had never seen him before, so there was very little about her that screamed healer. And of course the man himself seemed to be almost too weak for something as simple as a broken ankle. Unless he had been roughed up and fought back, he shouldn't be so weak. Narrowing green eyes, she stayed twenty feet away from him. "Get up," she commanded. "Tell me who you are and what you want with me." There was no way that this was as it seemed.
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The man spats, "Get up? I've got a damn bloody broken ankle bitch! You expect me to get up? Some healer you are!

A man in a hunting cloak emerges from behind the ruined wall, "Give it a rest Grif. She's on to us." He smiles thinly, "Healer to the King indeed.... men, get her!" 

Several men jump from their hiding places. Some where behind the wall, one was in the wagon somehow, and one was wearing a bush. As they emerged, Mason left fly a pair of daggers, each hitting their targets as they jumped from their hiding places. "Down Emmy!" he yelled as he jumps forth, chakram in hand. He swings it out and grabs hold of the chain attached to it, taking out three others with it. He then quickly drops the chain and pulls out his sword, bringing it crashing into the sword from the one wearing the hunting cloak. 

"Ah, turned traitor now have we, Sir Mason?" Mason growls, "It is you who are the traitor, Sir Lysa! How dare you attack the King's Healer and her knight?" Lysa parrys yet another blow, the clashing of metal ringing in the air, "She's no healer, but a doctor of death Mason. She's wanted for the assassination of His Majesty!" Mason goes in for another attack only to be parried, "You are a fool Lysa! The king was already at deaths door long before the healers went in. I should know, I was the last to speak with him. I saw his last breath, heard his last command!

Lysa's face turns red with anger, "So, it is you who is responsible for the King's death!" He swings hard and fast, a bit of sharp metal catching Mason's cheak before he could parry, "Mason, the king slayer, and Emerald, the doctor of death! I will slay you both for king and empire!

Lysa goes in for another wide and fast slash. As he does so, Mason produces another dagger from his bracer and runs it straight through the other's throat. Lysa gasps for breath, a death rattle escaping the spilling blood as he falls forward onto Mason. Mason catches him and weeps, "Dear brother at arms, we both have been made the fool..."

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Emerald was no fool and she knew better than to not listen to the knight when he told her to get down. Dropping her bag she threw herself to the right and as she hit the ground she rolled away from the fighting. As she came to a stop she crawled up onto her knees and watched with sadness and worry for the knight. He was a brilliant fighter, she had to give him that especially considering what they had been through so far, the lack of sleep and food, the long walk across the countryside. It was a wonder that he could still fight. Yet he was a knight and trained probably his entire life for such as this.

She watched in abject horror the way in which he killed his fellow knight and then sobbed at the death of what must have been a friend at one time or another. Thankfully she was skilled at hiding her expression and so there was horror in her heart at the sight of it, her face remained impassive and without emotion. Except that was, in her eyes. In her green eyes you could see the sadness of all the death before her and you could tell without a doubt that though she tried to hide it, she had feelings too.

Getting up and dusting herself off now that the fighting was over with she started slowly for Mason, giving him time to come to grips with all that he had just done. They'd need to be moving on before too much longer. Yet even as she moved towards him she watched their surroundings. Surely all of the enemies were dead, but one could still be lurking in the shadows.

"Word of what has happened and blame has travelled much more quickly than I thought possible. How they got ahead of us and set this up I do not know, but we will need to be on our guard as much as possible," Emerald said as she bent to retrieve her bag from where she had dropped it. Just as she was bending down though she noticed him. One lone man, a dagger in hand, sneaking up behind Mason almost too quietly to be noticed. He was still a good thirty feet from Mason and with Mason's attention on her and the knight he had killed, it was no wonder he was able to get so close.

Spotting one another at the same time, Emerald grabbed and pulled one of the throwing knives from one of the dead men and with a quick shout of, "Look out!" she threw the knife straight for the guy sneaking up behind Mason. As she did though, the man jumped to attack bringing his dagger down. The knife she had thrown however, guided most likely by Mogen David herself, flew true and buried itself in the attacker. Sending up a prayer of thanks that it had struck whom it was intended for, Emerald scooped up her bag and stood hurrying over to Mason. "Are you alright?"
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Mason stood up, "Ah.... yes. For the most part." He pulls off his right glove, the palm of his hand bleeding from a nasty cut, "Seems that his blade managed to make it past my glove in the last moments of our struggle. No doubt it'll need tending to, but first..." Mason looks about, "first, we need safety." Mason was no fool. He knew that there would likely be others after them, and that they couldn't hope to make it to Feli City before night fall. He also knew that he'd be far weaker by the next day if he didn't get some sort of rest. "We'll cut north to the coast. There's some fishing cabins there."

To Mason that seemed the best choice. In his many expeditions with his group they would have headed south to the river where an old fort remained to make camp. The smell of old fish would not have made for a restful camp for the knights, and besides Mason always favored the old places full of history and wonder. Mason knew that the other knights knew this, that anyone or everyone that knew him knew this. The fishing cabins seemed to be the better choice and besides, if they had to get away they could cross to the nearby island and the labyrithian Morahime ruins easily enough. Only fools would pursue them there...

Mason gently grabbed Emerald's hand with his left and with a quick jog made made their way to the coast to the north west. The sun was setting by now, casting the sky in a marverolous array of pinks and purples as the amethyst moon rose large from the east. The Gulf of Tyr churned gently with calm waves washing onto the rocky shore, a shore of coarse sand covered with smooth pebbles and colorful sea shells. Crimson spear hawks dove into the waters, lancing their dinners that they'd take to their nests and song birds sand with the moving waves. There were maybe a half dozen fishing cabins here, just a short walk over the water across black maple peirs. Being mid summer, some fishermen were out, casting their lines and nets, but not all the cabins were occupied. One was clearly vacant, had been for some time. It was to that one that Mason led Emerald.

Once in, he closed up the doors and lit the lanterns hung about the room. It was a single room cabin, with a small fireplace and wood burning stove, a pair of hammocks, netting hanging from the ceiling and rods long left unused adorned the plank walls as if they were ancient heirlooms. A middle trap door was spotted surrounded by long benches, likely for fishing. Some old iron pots and pans, long rusted, were on the iron stove. Mason sighs, "I had never wanted to come back here... but here we are."

Mason then turns to Emerald, "Your earlier suspicions are right. The way they already knew, and had that trap laid out for us... that was much too soon. We made great haste getting out of Bellitose, took all the shortcuts. There's no way word would have travelled that quickly, they should have still expected us to be trapped in the Capital." Mason sighs as he sits upon a log bench, "There's another thing.... they were expecting you, but not me.... I think it was a trap set for you, before the King ever took his last breath." He reasons, "Think of it, you are the only Angerian in the King's court of healers. The only one not native to Chaladonia. If someone wanted to plan a quick death and let blame fall elsewhere, where better than the one who's nation helped to secure Ian the throne during the uprising against King Cadimus the 3rd?" Mason sighs, "No, I believe Mogen David did send you to me, just as I believe Arameas is charging me with your protection. This is no longer just a quest to find an heir, this is a quest to save Chaladonia."

He extends his wounded hand, "If you would be so kind..."

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The shore line with the sun setting on the horizon was a marvelous site to behold. Rarely had Emerald ever seen anything even close to as beautiful as it was. Sadly though, in their haste to reach safety she had little to no opportunity to enjoy the view. Emerald didn't complain about it though. She knew that time was of the essence and though she was growing quite weary she kept up with Mason.

The cabin was small but quaint and definitely hadn't seen use in quite some time. It didn't bother her though. Strange, considering she was accustomed to the comforts of palace life. Yet as Mason spoke of his theory she listened and started digging through her bag. Pulling from it a bottle of alcohol, a jar of salve and a bandage made of sturdy cloth she knelt before him and silently took his hand when he offered it to her.

"This will sting," she cautioned as she unstoppered the bottle of alcohol. Pouring a small amount over the wound to clean it she patted it dry then rubbed the salve into it. "What I don't understand is why me? I'm a nobody where I come from. Or at least no one of import." She wrapped the bandage around his hand and secured it. "It is true, I was the smartest in my class but there are plenty of others that could have been chosen over me."

Standing, she puts away the alcohol but keeps the salve out. "But then if all this is meant to start a war, why be so elaborate about it. I fear this is politics and not something I understand well." She sits by him on the bench and tilts his head to the side exposing his neck. "How's the wound here," she asks as she slowly and gently probes at it with delicate fingers. She rubs a bit more salve into it just to be on the safe side.

Securing the lid back on the jar she shifts her wings and shoulders. "How can two people, a knight and a healer of all things, even hope to save a place so vast as Chalacedonia? It seems an impossible task. One I'll not give up on, but one I fear may mean the end of us." The sadness in her eyes is clear but it doesn't show in the rest of her demeanor.
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Mason sighs as he listens to her absorb all that she's heard, all that she's experienced in the past couple of days. 'How can two people, a knight and a healer of all things, even hope to save a place so vast as Chalacedonia?' How could they indeed... The empire was indeed vast, the task indeed seemingly insurmountable.... But if not them, then who?

Mason smiles, "We will, by following the light and the truth. We will find this heir, we will save the empire... and we will help her citizens as we go." He extends his hand, "As you help me and I help you, we will help them. Don't you see? Chaladonia isn't about borders or the vast land within. Chaladonia is the people. A person saved is the world saved. Besides, " the knight chuckles, "never have I ever heard of the Mogen David assigning a task to her worshippers that couldn't be overcome."

Mason stretches, "But where do we go first? I think by now Feli City is out of the question. They will be looking for us there. And while here is the last place I would have gone or told anyone about, I'm sure this place will be found soon as well. We have to press on, but we have to find help."

Mason rolls out his map and studies it. "There," he points to a symbol on the map, "we will go east, to the wilderness camp there." He rolls up the map, "The camp moves about but is in that general area. What's more, they hold no allegiances to crowns or armies, only to the people. We can find help there. Help to help us move about Chaladonia more easily."

Mason smiles, "But for right now, we will rest. We will set out at sunset."

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Emerald's spirits were lifted slightly at his words of reassurance. He was right, of course. There was rarely if ever a task that Mogen David set upon her followers that could not be overcome by them. It was just that this task seemed so enormous as to be almost impossible. And Chalcedonia was a very large place and they were looking for but one person. As the saying went, they were searching for the needle in the haystack. That thought alone was almost enough to dump her spirits back into the dust. Yet she reminded herself of Mason's words and of the fact that she felt she could trust him. With those things in mind she nodded in understanding of their next course of action.

When he mentioned they should get some rest, an involuntary yawn escaped her and her stomach gurgled with hunger. Hopefully he hadn't heard her stomach. Surly her yawn had been louder than it. Deciding to ignore her stomach for the time being, Emerald settled onto the floor of the cabin, wrapping her wings about herself for a little added warmth. Then a stray thought hit her and she lifted one wing to look at him. Holding out her hand she said simply. "Come, you'll be warmer here than by yourself." She was thinking only of his comfort, knowing he would need warmth as much as she and if she could provide it for them both, what was a little shared intimacy in keeping one's travel companion safe and warm? In her mind, it was practical and not sexual in nature at all.
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Mason nodded, giving Emerald's suggestion no other thought that being good strategy. Being a knight, he and his troops had often encountered cold climates and times where body warmth was all that was available. So, without any hesitation Mason rested against the angerian healer as he would any comrade, and soon he driffted to welcomed sleep. Had he been not so tired already, it is likely Mason would have insisted on taking watch, but his body did need sleep. Besides, the camp look abandoned....

With sleep came a dream, but it was a dream unlike any other. It was a dream shared by both, though neither would be aware of this unless later they discussed it. In the dream they saw a monk. The monk was sitting in a meditative state, and held a strange ornament that had four gems alined in it: red, green, blue, and yellow. In front of the monk stood an empty mirror. Without warning, the monk falls over dead, dropping the relic, and death comes to the body, but finds no spirit. Instead the spirit can be seen in the mirror, as it inhabits another body. It was as if the body slept, dreaming of another world and another life...

Mason is suddenly awakened by the clap of loud thunder. Wiping his eyes for a moment, he quickly makes his way to his pack and takes out a notebook within which he writes about what he saw in his dream. The pitter-patter of rain is heard hitting the fishing cottage, and flashes of lighting with trailing booms of thunder filling the nighttime sky. Such weather was not ideal to travel in, but Mason knew well that coastal late summer storms could last for days. And days they did not have. He removes any metalic armor and stores it in his pack before going to Emerald. Gently he wakens her, "Come, we need to get moving." And yet another clap of thunder sounds as if confirming his urgency.

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