Night comes, world-jewelled. The stars rush forth in myriads as to wage War with the lines of Darkness; and the moons, Pale ghosts of Night, come haunting the cold earth after the sun's red sea-death - quietless.
The winter evening has falled upon Fastheld; much like the dusk that has falled upon the Imperial Guard, for the steel that was forged is now returning to whence it came, and the Iron of the Blades, steadfast and loyal to the Crown, remains dominant once more.
Watching the cold twilight of the evening from the Rular's Balcony of Fastheld Keep can Serath Kahar be found, his gaze caught by the pale stars of the brisk darkening sky, and a flawless sphere of *something* that seems to almost glow with a seraphic shade of dusty blue glory. His attire is casual, holding neither armor nor jewelry upon his person, save for the shard of an ancient longsword that hangs from the pendant around his neck. The two Scimitars - Naria and Eriya - remain ever vigilant upon his waist.
Those who were familiar with Duhnen's father in life would probably take pause at seeing the younger Seamel walk about in iron. The similarities of their face under the winged helm, and even the way they walk in the metal, is striking. Indeed, passing by a mirror hanging in the hallway, even Duhnen casts it a spectulaive glance, before moving to stop at tne entrance to the balcony.
The man's gaze falls upon the back of Serath, and he watches in consideration for a moment before politely clearing his throat and falling to attention.
"You need not try and catch my attention; I heard you clattering towards the balcony a mile away." Though his words speak of admonishment, Serath's tone remains that ever regal purr that blunt the pointed ends of the words and reveal them for what they really are; nothing more than casual banter.
He doesn't turn away from gazing upon the stars though; content to watch for their clarity as and when the shifting clouds allow. "No doubt those in the Abyss of Shadow did too. Still, it can't be helped."
"Again, my infiltration fails," Duhnen comments, a small amused look taking his face. "But, I suppose Bladesmen are meant to be heard and seen. At least I know plenty who think that way." The Seamel's gaze is drawn to the...odd sphere, his eyes blinking in a bit of muted amazement. Looking away before he begins to outright gawk, he focuses again on the Prince. "I'm sure you're aware of the quiet rumors traveling about regarding the Imperial Guard."
"Of course I have." Serath notes, finally turning around to regard the impromptu Bladesman, resting with his back now leaning against the balcony rail. The smile upon his dashing features seems almost feline by design. "I started them. The different being, however, that they're not rumours."
The sphere of Seraphite continues to glisten and shimmer all by itself, regardless of the lack of any lightsource near enough to cast refracting hues upon it.
"There's usually a varying amount of truth behind rumors," Duhnen shrugs slightly, grinning. "Seems that these are of the highly true sort, then." Again, his eyes flit to the sphere briefly, much like a moth to a lantern. "I suppose the dreams of being shiny by many will have to be put aside for a time."
"You're shiny right now, my friend." Serath notes with some degree of warm camaraderie, gesturing to the armor of Iron that Duhnen is currently fully kitted out in. "Someone in Vozhdya, there's a Ducal Guardsman clad in Silver. He's just as shiny. Racks of Armor in the Hall of Blades are shiny. Does armor provide a measurement of each person? Does it make them great?"
"Of course not," Duhnen chuckles, looking down to himself and tinking a mailed finger against his chest. "Said ducal guardsman could easily be taking bribes. Rotten inside the armor...a bit like a bad piece of fruit." He shrugs slightly and looks back up to Serath. "I'm not quite sure greatness can so easily be measured."
The Ranger Prince, as he's known in a few select circles (mostly among other Rangers), inclines his head in a gesture of serene affirmation; ice blue eyes remaining locked upon Duhnen all the while. "Personally, I prefer light armor over heavy. Though I would, because it's damn near impossible to dual-wield in Heavy Armor. At least, with any degree of dexterity. You can hack and slash forward just fine, but that's just taking the whole point of it away." He trails off, takes a breath, and then shifts his weight around a little to better balance it as he leans there. "Regardless, I doubt you came all the way out here to talk about the effects of refraction upon metallic armor, and the nature of the people who wear it."
"Tangents," Duhnen chuckles quietly, looking to the sphere again and considering it. "I just hoped to find the truth behind the rumors. To see where things were leading me. Where I was leading myself." He folds his hands behind his back and purses his lips for a moment. "But. I'll find a new path. That's part of the fun." He grins back to Serath and nods.
"And herein rests the crux of the matter." Serath laments, looking upon Duhnen with an expression of slight guilt. "For Jurus, I can pull a few strings and see if I can get him reinstated back into the Blades as a Captain, if he wants such a position... but your path is your own, Duhnen Seamel; I'd given you the directions, but the bridge that was once there has fallen. You must walk your own path now, as whatever service we both felt you owed the Blades is now gone. You're under no obligation to continue."
"There's other ways to cross a river than by a bridge," Duhnen smiles, trying to expell any guilt the Prince may feel. "I'll speak to the Second Blademaster about it. And serve until a point at which he feels I'm ready to leave. It was what I promised to him. After that...who knows? Perhaps you'll even hear of me again, off being shiny elsewhere without the aid of armor." He grins widely to the Prince. "Then we'll know I succeeded at whatever I tried to do."
Serath folds his arms against his chest, regarding the armored Duhnen with some degree of curiosity, head tilted a little to the left. "If I didn't know better," he muses, voice dripping with irony, "I'd say you almost enjoy it."
"Almost enjoy what?" Duhnen asks, his own head tilting slightly.
"The Uniform." Serath notes with a smile, gesturing to the iron curiass as it casts various shades of shadowed cobalt blue; the effects of chiaroscuro at work, with the aid of the subdued light sources nearby that dare to try and defeat the darkness of the night. "The Armor, the Swords, the Ranks."
Duhnen considers that, turning his attention back down to himself. His eyes follow up the prominent ivory tree to the crown at the top. "I've been thrice blessed already in this life," he begins, looking up to the man again. He lifts a hand and begins lifting fingers. "Family, friends, and love. Some things are definately worth protecting, as I know you know. I do enjoy them...they give me the means to protect."
"It suits you." The Prince of the Blood notes; a weapon master by his own right, and thus someone with an opinion that rings of sincerity. "And it's better than donning Silver and pretending you're something special. You *are* something special. The armor dictates it. Though I wonder..." He pauses, then continues, "Longsword or Halberd?"
Duhnen runs his hand down the scabbard at his side, shrugging. "I've worked to familiarize myself with it, since it came to me. Though I used to always have a staff by my side."'
A flash of anticipation alights the ice-blue gaze of Serath Kahar as he considers a wild notion for a moment; his hands instinctively drawn to the hilts of the Scimitars that sleep in their own scabbard at either side of his waist as a smile trailblazes across his feature. "Want to see how familiar you've got?"
"Oh light," Duhnen laughs, looking down to Serath’s twin swords. He lifts a hand to scratch at the scar on his chin with a finger while he considers the proposal, before he finally chuckles and nods his head. "Well...when will I ever have the opportunity again, hm?"
"I am of course, at a disadvantage here." Serath notes as he pushes himself up into a standing position, awakening his Scimitars from their slumber in one fluid motion. With feline-like dexterity, it takes but a moment for the Master Dual-Wieldist to adopt a defensive stance, the platinum of steel and the onyx of obsidian crossed into an X before him, blades pointed downwards. "With no armor, and between a warrior in Iron and the balcony rail."
"It's as you said," Duhnen muses, looking to the two blades as he draws his lone weapon. "Less armor means better mobility. And, we can always relocate to a less precarious position." He grins and reaches back, unslinging the iron shield from his back.
Serath shifts his stance to one that seemingly leaves him open to attack; his hands move to his sides, slightly outstretched from his body so that his blades are angled / and \ away from his form. However, the determined glimmer in his eye, coupled with his lithe frame, honed for such combat, leave little doubt that his guard is never down. Evidently, he likes the disadvantage. "Let's dance." He's apparently allowing his companion the first strike.
"Or at least stagger around," Duhnen grins, hefting his shield in front of him at chest level and turning his body to the side, Nameless Light held horizontally to his side. He considers the Prince's defense for a moment as he begins to advance in a shuffle, before bursting forward, pushing his shield out and driving the sword at him, though ready to pull his blow if a contact will occur.
Obsidian sweeps upwards as Serath moves into a flurry, his off-hand Scimitar striking the legendary Longsword with just enough force to turn aside the blow, the Steel moving to add support as a second *clang* of Steel upon Steel rings out, forcing the Nameless light further aside. He then spins fully around, landing a double-slash upon the Tower Shield without causing any damage; a fluid counter-attack that he then follows through with...
The Iron shield is pushed backwards by the fierce double-hit, and Duhnen slides back with the strike, attempting to keep himself moving. A statue is extra easy to hit, after all. The Nameless Light is drawn back inwards to his side, staving off the lashing twin swords long enough to return with his own counter.
An agile lunging thrust with a twisted blade meets the Nameless Light as Obsidian clashes with Steel, Serath swiftly turning on his heel to push the Longsword aside once more, diverting the blow as he quickly brings both Scimitar's together again; had he carried through with the parry, he'd have scored a counter attack before following it up with a frontal attack, yet Serath seems to merely forsake the opening in favour of the latter, unleashing a thrusting feint with his off-hand before bringing the main attack to bear with a backhand slash aimed for the Tower Shield once more, evidently attempting to knock Duhnen off balance rather than score any real hit.
Duhnen heaves a heavy breath as he pushes the tower shield forward to aggresively catch and deflect the backhand slash, attempting to instead knock the Prince off balance instead of vice versa. He pushes himself along behind the shield and attacks low, striking at Serath's thigh with the flat of the blade, the steel catching the light shimmering from the strange sphere that so entranced the Seamel earlier.
Taken off guard by Duhnen's Shield-Thrust, it takes all of Serath's dexterity to react in time to thwart the following clash of the Nameless Light a moment later, the Prince deftly crossing his blades into an X once more to catch the Longsword in the consumate V that the Scimitar's produce.
Once held there, Serath attempts something a little unconventional to counter with: Blades locked, he sweeps around to the left, taking the blades with him in the motion, attempting to push Duhnen back with a roundhouse kick to the chest...
That was unexpected, to say the least. Duhnen can only pretty much watch in surprise as a royal foot comes flying for his chest, and though he thinks enough to try to push himself back at the last moment, he doesn't quite dodge. The blow strikes the cuirass loudly, if not effectively, ringing loudly. With a grin, Duhnen lets his shield drop, and rolls with the unconventional attack, reaching his now free hand out to grasp for Serath's ankle and shove him away.
Serath manages to spot Duhnen's equally unconventional tactics as the Seamel launches them, but in the recovery from knocking foot against sturdy Tower Shield, the feline-footed Prince isn't quite quick enough to leap back out of the way; not that he has a great deal of space to actually hop back *with*, but that doesn't stop him from trying. Regardless, Duhnen manages to clip his foot, and - coupled with the only slightly flawed evasion - puts Serath at a slight disadvantage on the riposte.
A riposte that he launches with fluid grace, though slightly off-balance, unleashing a flurry of rapid thrusts designed to keep the Bladesman as equally unbalanced, though with deadly blades to worry about...
Caught shieldless after his shove, Duhnen works his best to ward off the double blades with the longsword, grasping it with his other hand and parrying best he can. Despite his efforts, Serath's weapons manage to slip past his defenses and ring out loudly against his armor. "I'd be dead," Duhnen laughs as he reels slightly from the hit, sweeping his weapon in again as he backs off.
Serath doesn't have time to reply to the quip as the Nameless Light again lunges at him, eager for blood. His proximity to Duhnen doesn't grant him a great angle to parry with, however, and though he manages to meet Blade with Blade, his off-hand doesn't quite appreciate the force that it's just had to try and counter, yanking the Prince's arm downwards as he reels from the assault.
That doesn't deter him though, for Serath can take hits as well as he can deal them out, and taking a moment to pace a step or two back, he comes on again with a flurry of Blades; distracting Duhnen with his off-hand as the Obsidian Scimitar feints before moving into a spin, stopping with his back to Duhnen to follow through with a reverse-grip, behind the back, no look, double-stab.
Falling for the feint, and drawing longsword to the right to parry the blow, Duhnen is drawn right in to a position for the Prince's backwards blow to strike, the weapon screeching against the mail on the Seamel's body. That done, he falls back and lowers his weapon, nodding his head and catching his breath. "Well...I think I could stand a bit more aquainting I see," he comments good naturedly.
Bringing his Scimitars back around in a flourish of speed and skill, Serath considers his defeated sparring partner with nothing but admiration and camaraderie for the Seamel Bladesmen. He lowers both weapons to his side once more, holding them again slightly away from his body in the / and \ stance from before.
“You underestimate yourself." The feline-footed Price notes, his voice a regal purr of sincerity between breaths, "Either you have some innate talent that I wasn't aware of, or Eden's /really/ rubbing off on you. You're good."
Duhnen grins at that, lifting his weapon in a salute and sliding it back into it's scabbard. "You honor me with your words. If you say I'm good, I'm prone to believe it. Though I'll try to not let it go to my head." He bows his head and moves to retrieve his discarded shield. "Thank you for the exercise."
"You're welcome... I haven't fought against a real opponent since..." Serath trails off, attempting to recall the moment as he carefully - but swiftly - puts his Scimitars back to sleep within their Scabbards, before finally moving to retrieve the sphere of Seraphite. "...a drunken Bladesman bet his friends that he could best me, and that was while I was still in Bronze. I'm getting rusty."
Return to Season 3 (2005)