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Charred Forest <Forest District> =========================================================

Toppled and charred trunks of shardwood trees lie fallen across the barren landscape. The forest floor is nothing but gray and white ash strewn across cracked brown earth. Charred bits of bone and sinew can be seen in places where animals were unable to escape the blaze, and the occasional weed or small plant pokes up from the debris, little sprigs of green in the gray and brown landscape.

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In this neck of the forest, the scars from the Ravager's attack still remain, though things have begin to slowly heal. Small shoots and shrubs, and other evidence of greenery stick out of the ash covered ground, amist the ruins of the old growth. Amist that ash stands Vhramis, kneeling on the ground, inspecting closely one such growth.


The sound of four moving boots of a military style can be heard in the distance, if one had a keen ear. Soon in the quadruple moonlight, two soldiers can be seen - one wearing a trademark segmented cuirass on his body which is clearly Marshal Nepos, and another clad in chain armour, holding a bow. They are fairly easy to see in the distance, considering the state of the forest.


In the warm night, under moonlight, the tall form of a black-cloaked figure clunks his way in from the east. That form is one Norran Lomasa, the gleam of his steel helm visible as he approaches. A fairly standard shield bearing the insignia of the Blades is held on his right arm while he wields a sabre in his left. He appears to be walking in step with the other two men, flanking them at a distance as they move through the ruined forest.


Vhramis rises to his feet at the sound of the approaching men, especially easy to make out as they don't attempt to hide their approach. He looks over in their direction, frowning slightly as he lifts his hood over his head. His leathers, mail, and clothing are dusted with gray from the ash, suggesting that he's been crawling about in it for some time.


Lucius Nepos narrows his eyes at the figure, right hand falling down to the grip of his spear, which is withdrawn from the shield's compartment. Uncertain of who he is or what is intent is, he yells, "Hail! Speak your peace, stranger." The other Blade remains wary, knocking an arrow into his bow but leaving it pointed to the ground.


Vhramis frowns slightly at that under his hood, bristling a bit as demands are yelled at him. But, prudent as he is, he doesn't attempt to protest just yet, instead considering the gathering in silence, attempting to make a decision.


Overhead, in the night sky, some movement can be seen. That of a dark winged figure flying in small circles. A demand of 'Corn!' can possibly be heard echoing across the sky in a reedy voice.


Lucius Nepos doesn't let his gaze waver from the man, though the archer is certainly distracted by the odd voice in the sky. "Shades!" He yells, looking up for its source. Lucius, meanwhile, continues to edge towards the figure cautiously. "Did you not here me, citizen? What is your business in the wood that you shroud yourself when the sight of Blades passes upon your eyes?"


The figure could be heard sighing as he gets a better look at the approaching Lucius, and he turns his head slightly to regard Norran as he begins a flanking manuever. "Stand down, Marshal. You know me, I think," he calls out to him. He gestures to the bow strung on his back, an oddly made warbow, smeared black with pitch. "I've every right to be in these woods, as well as all the others of Fastheld."


As soon as Vhramis talks, a smile spreads across his face, and he almost immediatly slips his spear back where it came from. "Ah, Vhramis, it's good to hear a familiar voice in these woods! They remind me of that destroyed forest outside of the Aegis, so eerie they are. Of course you do. I simply have to be careful here.. I've only an advance force in Light's Reach and the area is dangerous." His shoulders relax and he approaches the man, extending a gloved hand. "We were looking for the keep of Duchess Mikin."


Again, the dark winged form circles, looking down at the group of people, before diving to land on the charred remains of a tree. Quirking his head, he looks over the group, quorking questioningly.


A sigh of disappointment is evident from Norran as he recognizes the voice as Vhramis, lowering his shield and sliding the curved iron blade back into his baldric. "The lack of foolish brigands depresses me, sometimes," mutters Norran largely to himself. He quickly grins, however, as he walks to rejoin Lucius and Vhramis. "Good to see you again, Vhramis. What brings you and your compatriot out into these ashes?"


Vhramis looks to Norran and smiles in minor amusement at his words, tugging his stained hood back down from his head. "There are plenty of brigands about," he replies. "Just...not here. There's nowhere to hide." He gestures about the desolation, turning his attention to the surroundings to sigh a bit. "I've dealt with minor indivi.." He cuts himself off, glancing to Lucius, apparently not sure what the Blade commander may think of vigilantism, or what could be considered it. "Dealt with tracking them," he corrects with a small smile. "Finding their locations and reporting the information to blade posts." He steps forward towards them, nodding his head. "Yes...it does remind me of the Ashlands, Lucius. Though, I suspect nothing will ever grow again out there. But here.." He pauses and leans down, running his hand gently along a small shoot jutting from the stained dirt. "Things begin anew."


Quoth the raven, 'Corn?'


"I've heard that ash of fallen trees makes the ground all the more fertile to start anew. Perhaps we should be growing crops out here. We could feed the entire city state, indeed." Muses the Marshal, smirking at the antics of the bird. "No, little raven, no corn for you." Then back to Vhramis. "A brave citizen's actions against Blades is admirable, Vhramis, though I know you're slightly more than a brave citizen. But you don't need to kid me.. there are no Blade posts in proximity. If you've been hunting then I applaud it. The Justiciar's Claws have been assigned to this area to help protect the rebuilding effort, so you'll soon have fifty of the Empire's most dedicated and skilled soldiers hopefully deterring and destroying what it is those bastards try to do. We do however need somewhere to stay, and an already established stronghold is superior to an impromptu fort that I would otherwise be building at Light's Reach. Are there any castles nearby?"


"Impromptu, Marshal? We'll have the dining hall up in a week," jests Norran mirthfully in answer to Lucius' words, a grin holding on the noble's face as he takes a glance about the forest. "You may be taking all the fun from us, Vhramis, but it's an honorable way of things. Good work."


"Light's Watch," replies Vhramis immediately to Lucius' quarry. "It was Varal Mikin's keep. I served there when I was a Mikin Ducal. Alternatively.." He frowns slightly at his next thought, looking off into the darkness as he rises to his feet, his fist closing about a small rock. He glances to Norran and smiles slightly. "Don't be praising me too readily. I could simply be causing them to band together in greater numbers, into something I can't hope to handle on my own. In which case..it may be best that fifty of you are garrisoning here." He shrugs and turns to regard Medivh, the bird and he fixing glances. The ranger's mouth quirks downwards, and he pitches the rock where the raven sits, causing the bird to cackle in protest and take wing again.


"Men who turn to banditry tend to be men of little character. Men who will be prone to feuding amongst eachother. That is not to underestimate them, however, as you may very well be right and we shall prepare for the worst." Lucius offers a helmeted nod. "Light's Watch sounds to be a good keep, as I remember hearing it is well equipped in regards to quarters and fortifications. Where would the alternative place be?" To Norran, he simply grins.


"That reminds me," Norran suddenly speaks after talk of Varal, looking over to Lucius. "Varal Mikin expressed interest in enlisting. That was a couple months back, though, I think. He wanders lately, I don't know if he'd actually be at Light's Watch." After this, Norran looks curiously over to Vhramis at the talk of an alternative. He remains quiet, however, eyeing the crow above every now and again as he stands his spot. "Duchess Mikin lives about here," continues Vhramis, watching Medivh go back to circling overhead. He sighs and looks back to Lucius and Norran. "Her home after West Bluff was destroyed. It may be worth meeting with her, being that this is still her land." He shrugs, however, making it clear it's just a suggestion.


"I highly agree with this idea. She's the administrator of Light's Reach at the moment, of royal blood and a woman of great courage and character. This was my intention all along, though I did not know where she lived." The Marshal shifts about in his armour, his comrade's eyes trained on the surroundings as if attack is imminent. One can never be too cautious. "Interesting, Bladesman. We can always use more Blades, that's forsure."


"As I mentioned, I...ran into the Duchess recently. Hopefully she's holding no significant grudges," asides Norran with the usual smirk, adjusting his shield as he looks over the surrounding lands. "Where abouts would she be, Vhramis?" asks Norran once Lucius finishes speaking.


Vhramis turns from them to look about the woods in various directions, frowning slightly. It all rather looks the same, unfortunately, and after a few moments he puffs a breath in soft annoyance. "That way, I'd suspect," he states, gesturing in a vague northeasterly direction. "Watch out for the Gateman. He's somewhat loopy."


"If you two don't mind, I'm going to be retrieving the rest of the troops from the camp at Light's Reach. It's a very exposed location and a dangerous one as well, and bringing them for even a night's respite at a keep will be a welcome change of scenery for the men. Please tell the Duchess that we're going to be arriving.. I don't mind paying for the accomodations if she's so inclined, though of course I would hope that is not the case." Lucius gives Vhramis a further nod, a thump of a closed fist on his cuirass to Norran and he's off back the way he came, Ranger Blade in tow.


"I'll take care of it, Marshal," Norran answers Lucius with a respectful inclination of his head in response along with a fist over his cuirass in salute. Returning his gaze back to Vhramis, he watches the gesture to look off in the northeast direction. "Over there? I'm sure I'll be fine. Much thanks," Norran tells Vhramis with yet another nod, grinning as he begins to set off toward the northeast.


Vhramis lifts a hand in a wave to the departing soldiers, watching them, and thus he's taken completely by surprise when Medivh swoops down to perch on his shoulder. The last thing the Blades likely hear of the pair is a surprised curse and avian cackling.

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