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Crown's Refuge Palisade <Wildlands>


Running around the perimeter of the bluff upon which the township Crown's Refuge stands, the Crown's Refuge Palisade is a testament to the accomplishments that Talus Kahar has achieved in shaping the sovereign outpost into something greater than the sum of its parts.
The Palisade itself is a fortification consisting of a strong fence made of numerous fifteen-foot stakes driven into the ground, with the purpose of this being to surround Crown's Refuge with a wall in order to fortify its position atop Refuge Bluff. Combined with the advantage of height, and the craftsmanship of the palisade wall itself, this is a purpose it accomplishes well.
Six watchtowers have been built into the Palisade wall to add extra security to the township it protects, with four being situated at the "corners" of the township's boundary, and two flanking the main gate that leads both in and out of the township within. A walkway is set around three-tenths below the top of the palisade, allowing people to patrol or walk around the outskirts of Crown's Refuge, and serving as a vantage point for archers to pepper animals and Wildlings with arrows from behind protection should the need arise.
It is this gate that you stand at now; the path leading back down Refuge Bluff resting to the south, the Palisade stretching off to the east and west as they circle the hill, and Crown's Refuge itself only a few more steps to the north, across the threshold of the Palisade gate, and beyond the aegis once more.


"The fallen shall be forever remembered as the Emperor's finest."
- Brother Carthas Songspire, 273ATA


The scene at the Main Gates - or, rather, what used to be the Main Gates - is a grim and solemn one indeed. The battle may have been won, but with losses as heavy as they are, it would seem that very few people have a cause to celebrate victory.

A quarter of the population dead.

Defenders flank the approaching Deepers and Bladesmen on either side of the ruined and scorched gate; the wood of the Palisade scorched black where it isn't tinted red with blood. Numerous furrows - made by claw and sword alike - are etched deep into the defending wall, while weapons and the dead are scattered upon the ground. Defenders, defenders, and a regal commander sat with his back against the ball and a leg set into an arched position as ice-blue eyes regard the reinforcements that turned the battle into a grim victory.


"Well met." A bloodied Serath Kahar purrs, offering a half-salute with a rapier still slick with crimson. One rapier. Where the other has gone is anyone's guess.


A long night indeed.


The current Protector of Crown's Refuge, or more specifically, just one of them, has just reached the ground from the palisade, and is moving swiftly towards the gate to join the battered victors. "Serath?" he calls, sounding a bit relieved to see the Prince still relatively in one piece. He turns to regard the reinforcements as well, blinking, before dropping into a bow. "Timely."


The Seraphite shield is visible from a distance as Lucius and the others approach. The Marshal and two other Blades flanking him raise their arms up in the salute of the Blades, and Lucius grins at the sight of Serath, even through all the chaos. "Hail, your majesty." Comes the man's tired voice. He offers a bow.

People might also notice what the Blade grasps in his hand - the head of the enormous chief, by its hair. Holding out his spear, whose buttspike he rams into the ground near the gate, the head is then placed on the thrusting end. "How in the Light did this happen?"


The long run up the hill has taken a lot out of Wilesly as his wound begins to catch up with him. His complexion is much paler than it usually is, most likely due to blood loss. He struggles to offer even a curt bow, as his hand rests on the pommel of his bloodied rapier, towards the Kahar and Vhramis. "Well we couldn't let you sirs have all the fun." He winces as he gives a light chuckle.


Ashlynn walks in Vhramis' shadow, face set into a stony mask as she surveys the mess and gaze already beginning to sort reflexively through the wounded before the former steward's greeting has her eyes snapping toward the rediscovered prince. She halts altogether for a moment as she struggles to process that this is indeed no phantom, before she slowly steps to Wolfbane's shoulder and tenders her own bow toward the man.

"Your Highness... it is good to see you," she says with genuine wonder, before the clatter of the others' arrival has her shrugging off nearly-empty quiver and bow to foist upon Vhramis. "I'd better see if they are still managing the wounded well enough..." she murmurs.


A little after the others, a pair of Flying Daggers carry Dirk up from the battlefield, to someone whose his wounds could get better service on. He's bloody. He's messy. He'll likely have more then a beauty scar to be adored. Still, he's alive. That's something.


How did this happen? That's the question, isn't it. A question that Serath Kahar, Prince of the Blood, answers with a casual shrug. "I don't think it matters how it happened." he notes, looking away from the Bladesmen and Deepers to survey the scenes of carnage and war that he's known all too well. "Except that it did. We're in the Wildlands." That said, he offers a fleeting smile towards Ashlynn, and then speaks nothing more than a deep sigh as his gaze is lifted towards the heavens to look upon the stars.

"Even the smallest star shines bright in the darkness." he states, quoting.


"We...can speak of it soon. They're gone for now. For the moment," Vhramis responds, taking hold of the quiver and bow distractedly shoved upon him. "Now, we need to tend to our wounded." His eyes trace over to Wilesly and Dirk, considering their state. "And yours. We have some here who act as healers. And I'm sure many will offer their homes to you. Including me."


"Your Majesty, I represent an expedition dispatched by the Crown at the orders of Her Grace the Lady Nillu." Wilesly begins as if reciting some speech, waving off Vhramis for just a moment. He continues to muster the strength to speak a few words. "We've a small contingent of Bladesmen with us, as we've just witnessed in all their glory, perhaps seven or so civilian experts... and one Lady, whom judging from the shouting emanating from the battlements before our entrance into the fray, should very much like to make words with Your Excellency." Having finished his duties and responsibilities, he offers one last bow and takes a step backwards.


"Yes, we must get to work, I agree. I thank you for your arrows, Vhramis. That's your name, right? It's been a little while." And yes, Lucius still manages to force another smile. "We have two healers aboard the ship that we came on, the Pride of Darkwater, including the Royal Healer as Master Sprigg noted. Some extra supplies as well. Do you have any pack mules that we could borrow to make the trip up the hill easier?"


Ashlynn's expression eases slightly at the prince's smile, a sign that things might be all right after all despite the blood and gore around them, and she gives Vhramis' arm a squeeze and a whispered, "Well done," before she turns quickly to find Collin and his companions in the searchers, trying to avoid the notice of those just arrived as she smoothly integrates herself amongst the triage sorting out the survivors.


Serath raises a leather gloved hand - slick with blood, most likely not his own - towards Wilesly as the Expedition Leader gives his address in a manner suggesting silence. A gesture that is followed by a quirk of a smile as he nods in the direction of Vhramis, before looking back upon the one he was addressing and offering an explaination in turn.

"Majesty of Fastheld." he purrs, his face smeared with gore and the soot of smoke, but his eyes as clear as starlight, "Not of Crown's Refuge. Speak to Warlord Wolfsbane there. He has more of an angle on the situation here. Me?" The Prince pushes himself to a standing position, looks around for his missing - ah, there! - Rapier, picks it up, slides it back into his scabbard, regards his wartorn cloak - it'll do - and then looks back towards Vhramis. "I'm going hunting."


"My pleasure...Lucius, it is, correct?" Vhramis replies to the Guardian, granting him a smile. "Your healers will be welcomed...especially one as skilled as the Royal Healer is." He shakes his head at Wilesly, before Serath's words has him muttering to himself. "Warlord Wolfsbane. Light." His voice lifts, and he continues.

"Please, Serath, don't be gone overly long. We need to...discuss what we are to do. And I'd feel much more confident with you to offer me council. Despite me being a Warlord now." A faint smile.


Wilesly shifts his eyes towards Vhramis, offering a nod and, despite the pre-existing conditions, a roguish grin. "I don't know if I have the strength to repeat that whole bit again, /Warlord/. So if I might just pencil in a bit about some small skirmish with Wildlings into my report and call it a night...I would be most grateful." He gives a slight groan as he attempts another laugh. He looks to Lucius and his trophy. "Well done, Lucius. I hope I was not too much of a bother to look after."


"It is. To be honest, I certainly did not expect to find the city under siege. That Warchief… was the biggest, most skilled creature I've ever fought. Almost tore Master Sprigg and Dirk here apart.. and I reckon they both need bandaging." Lucius shifts his gaze to Sly, giving him an extremely light pat on his unwounded side. "No, not too much. Things may have worked a bit better if you hadn't tried to fight the chief, but I thank you. Foolish but brave."

Then back to Vhramis. "Now, I must now ask again, Warlord, can we get some mules down to the ship so that we can transfer the heavier equipment and implements off? The quicker we get that done the easier we can secure our position here."


Ashlynn has bustled herself into the background while the leaders of each group converse, loaning her strength to a young man who is bracing a fallen warrior while granting him a warm praise. The youth ducks his head in embarrassed acknowledgment while they stagger toward the lines of wounded forming nearby, healers and volunteers alike scattered throughout as they methodically check the wounded one after the other.


"Nag, nag, nag." The Prince of the Blood mutters towards Vhramis, but not without mirth, spirit soaring at the news of the Royal Healer. Watching as everything starts to return to normal - grim as it is, though without the threat of impending doom anymore, at least for those not mortally wounded - he turns towards that which is known as Crown's Approach and, leaving the devestation of the battle in the wake, trots off to hunt stragglers. As he is wont to do...

"You know the drill. Not back by morning, avenge death." is the departing call. And off he goes; slinking into the darkness like a wildcat on the prowl.


Dirk lies in one of the lines of said wounded survivors, hands clenched around the satchel more as a hook for reality, then any other reason. Brown eyes close languidly, tightening the loose muscles in his face. The oddly loose, unresponsive muscles.


And the newly named 'Warlord' of Crown's Refuge shakes his head in wry amusement at Serath's departure, before he turns back to Lucius, businesslike. "We've no pack animals here," Vhramis shakes his head. "It will all need to be carried on our own strength. I will lend my back to it as needed, however. As will those of us here who are still fit. But I'm going to put most of us to work on repairing this palisade. That wildling... shadow-wielder did much to it."

He glances to the smoking hole and sighs. "Put whatever you need in your report, Master," he says to Wilesly, though his attention has fallen on the grim trophy Lucius impaled and posted in the ground. Wolfsbane frowns deeply and moves towards it. "Lucius. That helmet it wears. Does it look familiar?"


Wilesly watches Serath go with a rather quizzical look. He peers back toward Vhramis. "Does His Majesty have a tendency to do that?” Wilesly asks. He blinks twice before he remembers the task at hand, his arm still over his chest. "Our people will be able to lend aid as well. We've a number of craftsmen and one particularly spunky carpenter. We can work that all out once we make an assessment of the situation." His eyes shift to the helmet Vhramis indicates.


"Alright; I will have the other Blades and myself start to transfer things from the ship to the township." At Vhramis's question, Lucius nods and moves to retrieve his spear, holding it so that the severed neck does not drip on his gloves. Gross, but a necessary step.

"Yes. It probably came out of the Imperial Armories before we adopted steel plate for regular troops. This does not surprise me, from what I've learnt of the Black Wildlings. They take our technology and adapt it."


With little knowledge beyond first aid and emergency wilderness care in her own experience, Ashlynn leaves the more critical cases to the proverbial professionals, keeping herself to simply redirecting bodies where needed and applying some initial treatment of superficial wounds.


Apparently that was the answer that Vhramis was expecting, the man grimacing at that. "I saw none of the other attackers wearing anything that resembled armor. Metal or leather. So perhaps they've not figured out how to begin replicating it as they have our bows. Regardless, all things for another time."

He turns about to clap Lucius on an armored shoulder, while avoiding any splash of blood from the impaled head. "Again. My thanks for your timely arrival. You're quite handy with a sword." He nods his head to Wilesly. "Yourself included. Now go sit down before you collapse."


"If one more person calls me Sprigg or Master tonight...” Wilesly mutters to himself. "It's Wilesly if one must or Sly for short. Titles don't seem to matter much right now anyway." He drags himself along to where Dirk has been dropped off and sits down carefully next to the man, his hand still resting lightly on the pommel of his sword. He emits a sigh and looks up at the stars. "She is going to kill me if I ever manage to survive."


Lucius Nepos grins a little bit, letting out his first chuckle of the night. "Thanks. I have to say you're quite a good shot with the bow, too. Especially that last shot; you hit him and he just went down." Lucius takes a drink from his waterskin. "I'm going to go back to the ship, then, get started bringing everything up. We have enough that it will take at least two or three hours... Depending on how many people help. Light keep you all." With that, the Marshal and the Daggers head once more down the path to get to work.


Ashlynn is barely noticeable in the general drift of those who are still able-bodied helping to sort out the wounded and the dead in the background.


Amidst the somber chorus of groans and clanging of reassembled gear comes a faint sound of hopein the form of exhausted huffs and gasps. It was fortunate that the wildlings had been fended off, for now, for the figure that awkwardly runs towards the scene is severely lacking in stealth and slowing dying in her speed. Not far behind Rowena is a deeper, spitting and cursing his failure to keep the duchess at the ships camp.

"Master Spriggs!? Marshall?" She cries into the horde of strewn bodies, eyes searching the scene through a window of hesitant tears. The deeper finally catches up, reaching ahead and snagging her satchel. In a jangling of gear and feeble weaponry, the woman goes down, slipping over a creature's bloodied remains.


Vhramis watches Lucius and his men depart, and turns to move to approach Wilesly, possibly intent on checking on the man's wellbeing, when Rowena's desperate cry draws his attention back to the rift in the wall. "Light," he mutters, attempting to pick his way through the busy breech to go to her aid. "Duchess," he calls, splashing in a puddle of spilled blood as he makes his way along, reaching out a hand. "Master Spriggs is injured. You just missed the Marshall...he's heading back down to bring the supplies, he told me."


Wilesly looks up from his spot next to poor Dirk, his eyes carrying to the sound of a voice calling his name. "Shades! It's Wilesly!” the wounded man cries out from his spot amongst the grounds. It takes him a moment to put two and two together, a voice with a name and then... his face turns even paler than it was in spite of the blood loss.

He once more hobbles up to his feet in search of voice, only to locate Vhramis and a downed Duchess. "Shades! What are you doing here, m'lady?" Wilesly looks as if he would offer a hand of his own but his only free one is busy protecting the slash across his bloodied shirt.


Ashlynn starts where she has knelt briefly by the side of an injured, helping to hold a bandage in place while a healer works; as Rowena's familiar voice floats over the now relatively quiet scene. She bites her lip briefly in indecision, obviously discomfited by the thought of a meeting here, before she finally gives in to her concerns and helps tie off the bandage, and then begins to make her way toward the house built by the formerly exiled Emperor.


Rowena looks with disgust over her shoulder to both the deeper and gore beneath the tripped toe of her boot. "Su....supplies." She nods furtively to Vhramis, lifting her chin back around to gaze up at him in wonder. "So this is where you've gone..." she murmurs, and clasps his hand to struggle under the weight of her sack.

There's clearly a question that burns in the depths of her eyes, but now was not the time to indulge in selfish things. After another lingering moment's stare into the man's face, she releases his hand and moves hastily past to confront Wilesly. "MY duty, sir." And judging from her tone, there would be no convincing otherwise. "How many can be saved?" She inquires softly and attempts to gently pull his hand away from the 'secret' it hides.


The ranger follows behind Rowena closely, lest she trip again, keeping a careful eye on her. "It's hard to say how many," he responds, growing more grim. "We're separating those who can and can not even while we speak here. And while he sports some claw marks..." He gestures to Wilesly, "I believe the other one over here needs your aid much more desperately." He then gestures to the fallen and torn up Dirk, unconscious, and laid on the ground.


The wound is certainly not the worst of the battle, a simple swipe across the chest, tearing his shirt and whatever flesh was beneath it to ribbons but stopping at the ribs. Wilesly tries not to wince as he pulls his arm away from the wound but then offers a nod towards Vhramis.

"He is right. The creature tore Dirk up pretty badly. I had told him to stay with the Bladesmen, to stay close to them but he tried to help Lucius and I." He frowns lightly, "Please see to him first, and to the others who are far worse off than I am." He pauses for a moment. "And perhaps even after you have an important conversation with somewhere else. It was an oath in your name that held the Palisade if I am correct." He offers a light smile at that and dips his head.


"An oath?" Rowena scoffs quietly, arching a brow to Wilesly as she allows herself to be led to the first victim, Dirk. She'd spoken with the man prior to their landing. He'd said that this was his second visit to the Refuge. She'd not let it be his last. As they walk, or limp, she swings the pack around to her front, wary of the attached rapier, and fumbles with the laces. Blood did have a tendency to make one's hands slippery. But whose blood was it? "If you mean to tell me that this slaughter was defended in the name of peace, then I just may believe you."


Vhramis glances to Wilesly, and then to the darkened forest nearby. The ranger squints, as if perhaps looking or listening hard for something, before looking back down to the crouched Rowena. His voice drops a bit, turning more gentle.

"Hope, your Grace. I remember I once delivered a weapon to you in the Bronze Hall. A scimitar. I don't doubt that you kept it polished and rust free, as we spoke of. This is a good thing, because it's owner will return soon to claim it once again."


Wilesly settles his self back down on the ground next to Dirk's form as Rowena goes to work on him. He offers a light smile in spite of the circumstances. "Well, m'lady, perhaps we did end up finding what we came looking for after all." He coughs lightly into his hand and winces once more. The smile remains.


Hope...

It was a lifeline that she'd clung to for nearly a year's time....It kept her alive. Hope is what labeled her as 'mad' in others' eyes. Hope is what separated her from the rest of those who knew /him/....It is what had gnawed at her soul, had kept her awake each night...waiting. On hope. And now Rowena was tired. So very tired.

She's unaware as the satchel drops heavily to the ground from her fingers, equally unaware that she'd be soon to join it there as the implication of Vhramis's words sink in. Also sinking in is the 'sedative' she'd taken to calm her nerves, for it has finally overpowered the initial adrenaline rush.

Rowena's eyes lose focus over Vhramis, her expression of awed realization turning grim. "I'm sorry..." she whispers, head reeling into dizziness and her knees sink a little further into mud. Her hand closes over a small packet of substance within the satchel and she rolls her eyes to look uneasily at Dirk.

"Bring him inside... I'll be there shortly... I just need to sit." The constriction of her corset seems to double then, breath faltering as her thoughts turn to stranger things, like how she could possibly get this smell out of her hair, and if wildling blood left stains.

Her sight turns to pitch.


Return to Season 4 (2006)

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