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After The End

Posted: 21st August 2021 01:12

Black Mage
Posts: 175

Joined: 7/1/2014

Member of more than five years. 
Disclaimer: There will be similarities to already existing intellectual properties. This is unintentional. Adult language, drug use, violence, and other adult themes will be present in this work. Also, given the nature of the story, I've chosen to use Imperial measurements until I can come up with a measurement system of my own, I know that may offend some of you.

Ten years.
It's been ten years since everything changed. The Emperor is dead, and the Empire is gone. Ten years ago, an Apotheosis failed, and our heroes disappeared.
At the time, we all cheered. We stood in the rays of the newly awakened sun, smelled the newly bloomed flowers, and soaked in the warmth that sprang from it all.
For ten years, what we thought was peace had reigned.

We were wrong.

As soon as the Empire fell, forces began to array. Imperial generals, petty warlords, bandit kings, and other cults of personality stepped in to fill the vacuum. The funny part about all of this, is people flocked to them.

Why not? The big battle costed them so much. No homes, scrounging food in untended fields, and most of all- the forces our heroes unleashed upon this planet and left behind. Monsters, spirits, and all kinds of wild things that most salt of the earth folk couldn't begin to comprehend.

I was a kid during the final days of the Empire. I didn't know if there was any sort of halcyon time, or not. I just remember people coming home in droves, either horribly wounded or dead. At first, the coffins were steel, then bronze, then wood, then turned into shrouds of muslin and burlap. The priest started holding mass funerals once per week, because the dead overwhelmed him. We stopped marking graves or digging them very deeply at all.

Ansell huffed and put the pen in his pocket. Paper and ink were not that hard to find in these urban ruins, but time and space always seemed to be. As if to emphasize the point, a whirling, conical vegetable thumped him solidly in the chest. The young man started with a yelp, trying to protect his precious diary.

"Damn it, Shad!"

Shadrach stepped from behind his cover, chuckling and holding another rutabaga. "That's what happens when you let your guard down."

Ansell scoffed and pulled himself to his feet. "Don't you have anything better to do?"

The other young man shrugged. "Nah. What were you doing anyway?"


Shadrach was of medium height, and slightly thin. He had light brown eyes and wild dark brown hair that danced in coils on top of his head. "Sounds like a waste of time."

Ansell had a similar hair color, though it was more wavy than curly, and his eyes were a soft hazel. Unlike his wiry counterpart, he was slightly chubbier in build. "As good a thing as any."

Both were young men, clean shaven and relatively neat. Given Mother's absolute mandate on bathing. They wore durable clothing, mostly wool and denim, crafted from squares and slices of other pieces of clothing.

"We need to finish what we're doing here. Patrols might be coming in."

Ansell nodded and put the diary in his pocket. He didn't have a grand reason to start a journal, it just felt like he needed to. Maybe he could look back at what he wrote sometime down the road and see how much things had changed then.

So many people died during the last War, that huge chunks of cities were outright abandoned. Given that monsters and wild animals were thought to haunt the slums of these cities, no one except for militias or formal "guards" would dare trespass.

That was usually fine for Ansell, Shad, and the rest of their pack. This gave them plenty of room to do what they needed to do. However, in this part of the world, one of the warlords often send militia patrols to hunt monsters, and drive people like them away.

Besides food, the young men were looking for brass, nails, possibly glass. Old Man Mac could always use that crap. He was always making things out of them. Like some sort of crazy alchemist.

Hours passed. There was still some sun left in the sky, but its setting would bring about something very close to a death sentence. Mother would cast the warding spell, and no one was to pass beyond it. Not that anyone wanted to, given the manner of creatures that hovered near, staring hungrily at the circled carts and wagons. Sometimes, the sentries would fire an arrow or a bullet at any of the monsters being too persistent, but the monsters would stay out, and the family would stay in.

Going through an old general store, all of the tedium of digging seemed to disappear. Ansell had been piecing his way through a coil of fencing metal, using a newly acquired pair of tin shears, while Shad had been prying open barrels, looking for transportable food. The stink of briny vinegar had dropped the young mens' morale, which mingled nicely with the musty stink of decayed vegetables, fraught with maggots. There was gagging at first, but both were tired enough through the day's labor to avoid complaining. Both simply worked faster so they could collect what they could.

That's when Shad found the loose floorboard. He heard it rattle beneath one of the unopened barrels as he pulled it close to pry it open. His interest immediately shifted to this new wonder. With his dagger, he pried the floorboard loose and found something more fascinating- a brass-handled trap door a foot beneath the floorboard. The floorboard and trapdoor had weathered a little during the course of time, and only the smell of wet dust wafted from the hidden compartment. No light shined from beneath.

The wiry lad swore under his breath as recognition crossed his mind. From a loop on his belt, he pulled out a tin cylinder and tapped it on his boot, causing a conical beam of light to shine from the end. As he peered down, he spotted an iron-rung ladder that had been driven to the wall. At about ten feet down, he saw the head of a rusty iron, flat-backed maul.

"Anse!" He whooped. "Anse! Check this drek out!"

Ansell, who was trying not to nick his gloves and hands any more than they were, looked up from his work. He stood up and rushed over to his friend's excited voice. What he saw was Shadrach's booted feet almost in the air as he leaned into the trapdoor. He covered the rest of the distance, tossing aside one of the rancid barrels so he could lean over the door.

A sense of wonder suddenly washed over him, and his imagination began to wander away on him. Maybe the previous owner of this house was secretly a bandit or treasure hunter, and inside were jewels and artifacts from the mythic ages before the Empire. Like the tales of rings that summoned Djinni who gave you wishes, or a magic sword with the spirit of a mighty warrior possessing it.

"Get out your torch, Anse, I'm going down!"

Ansell lit his flashlight and knelt down, watching Shad climb gingerly down the ladder. He followed soon after, kneeling next to the combination sledgehammer and axe. The wood itself seemed to be rotted, but only a moderate layer of rust covered the iron head. Old Man Mac would probably do a LOT of good with this. With a hard effort, he broke head away from the rotten handle, just in time to hear Shad swear excitedly one more time.

Ansell looked up and had discovered this was simply a small entrance way to a larger underground room. It was almost pitch black in the room, save for Shad's torch. From where he stood, he saw where the cone of light pointed. Two desiccated bodies of a mother and a small child. The mother had slumped backward like a carpet being lain out, while the child's head lay in her lap. With relatively little humidity in this place, the bodies didn't completely decay to skeletons.

It didn't take long for the boys to figure out how she died. A halo of dried blood surrounded her head and spattered a little on her feet. Shad had easily found the weapon that did it, a rusted double-barreled scattergun was in his hands.

Shadrach excitedly retrieved the gun from the long dead lady, practically crowing at the amazing find. In the breach, he found the cardboard and brass casings, causing him to giggle. Guns were extremely rare in slums like these, given they were illegal under the Empire, and their successor dictators would often commandeer them for their militias.

Ansell knelt down over the child, who lay face down in her mother's lap. Gently, he turned the little girl around, eyeing her broken face carefully. He could imagine the young mother, sealed in this bunker, both of them facing a long and slow death at the hands of starvation. Maybe the father sealed them down here in the face of danger, intending to return to them soon, but maybe died before he could. He, at least hope that's what happened.

"I think we found enough today," Ansell said dryly. "Let's hurry before it gets dark."

Shad happily clacked the gun closed, "Right."

From there, it should have been a simple matter. Put on their packs and pouches and begin their trek home. However, a human's shriek from near where they stood made things slightly more complicated.
The boys quickly rushed over to investigate. There, they found the source. Someone was in an overgrown outhouse, which was in turn surrounded by a swarm of kobolds. About two to three feet high, the goblinoid/lizard hybrid was a disgusting sight indeed. their scales were the color of sludge, a brownish grey, with elongated snouts and sharp teeth. They walked upright but could sprint on all-fours when they needed to.

Shadrach glanced down at his dagger, then back at Ansell. By the look in his friend's eye, Ansell knew exactly what he was thinking. They made eye contact, and Ansell angrily shook his head. Mother had always said to leave outsiders to their own misfortunes. The Family had too few people as it was, without risking the lives of able bodies who were wounded or dead because they wanted to be heroes.

Shad's face screwed into a look that showed bemusement, Ansell gestured with a "you know why" gesture. Shad simply rolled his eyes, removed his pack, and drew his dagger. With or without Ansell, he was going to help the outsider in the privy.

Ansell swore under his breath, then glanced around hurriedly for decent sized and shaped rocks. He slipped off his pack and scooped these rocks from the ground.

"Wait!" He hissed at the wild haired man in front of him. "You think you're going to kill that many of those little jevel with a pig sticker?"

Shad shrugged, mutely chastising his friend.

Ansell sighed. Shad was Family, and he was obliged to help his Brother when he was in danger. Even if the danger was inflicted at the behest of idiocy. "Mother told us that these creatures were cowardly. Maybe we can scare them a little. I want you to sneak off to the side, from there I'll toss some rocks at them, and you can jump out and scare them. Sound good?"

Shad gave an impatient nod.

Ansell sighed and signaled his friend. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Shad duck behind a pile of rubble and let him do what he was supposed to do. He stood up straight and eliminated the pretense of stealth, cupping the rocks in his right hand and resting one more in his left. The monsters clawed at the walls, roof, and the doors, gurgling and growling in a savage reverie. Despite his complete lack of stealth, the creatures seemed completely unaware of his presence.

Excitement ran through him, causing his spine to hum like a tuning fork. As much as he hated complications, the thought of danger almost always excited him. He cocked his left arm back and hurled the stone. From twenty feet away, the stone curved like a gyro and struck one of the creatures by the front door. Stunned, the creature slowly turned around. Before he could complete the turn, Ansell had already loosed another stone on it. This time, the stone struck him in the side of the head. Unconscious or dead, the creature fell to the ground.

The creatures were gibbering and growling but that was immediately silenced. Instead of the savage hate he expected, the remaining dozen or so started hurriedly glancing around for their pack mate's attacker. Ansell whistled loudly, startling them, before losing another stone. This time, it struck one of the monsters in the center of the pack. The monster fell, just like the first one. From off to his left, Shad let out his best war cry and charged ahead with his dagger drawn. With cries of terror, the nasty little creatures scattered as the new hunters were stealing the prey from them. One more toss thumped another one in the back. The creature grunted and fell but rolled to its feet and continued to run.

Shad, meanwhile, had gotten to the outhouse. He was leaned up against the door and was talking to the refugee. Ansell pocketed his remaining rocks and joined the duo.

He heard only the back end of Shad's part of the conversation. ".... help you. Just don't panic, okay?"

On those words, the occupant opened the door.

She sat on the privy of the outhouse. Her clothing was torn and scratched, with blood soaking bandages on what was left of her left hand and right ankle. Her face was swollen on a cheekbone, nearly blinding her in one eye. Her hair was long and straight, but due to the dirt and blood, its color was unidentifiable. In her right hand was a smithing hammer, covered in dirt and blood.

Shad gasped, "Drek!" He rushed forward to pull the dazed woman from her seat, while Ansell rushed back to gather the boys' packs. The woman moaned in token protest as the healthier young man pulled her free of the building and lay her on the ground.

Ansell returned shortly with their packs and began to rummage through them to pull fresh bandages and antiseptic to redress the poor woman's wounds. She whimpered when they cut her bandages free, grunted when the stinging antiseptic was added, and shuddered when the bandages were applied.

Shad lay cross legged while the lady lay face up in his lap. He started to brush her hair aside, saw the broken cheek, and decided against it. Finally, he decided to talk to her.

"What's your name?" He asked gently.

Her eyes were light green, with a glassy sheen. She answered, "Bethany."

"Please stay awake," he pleaded, before shifting his conversation. "Where are you from?"

She scowled at the question, "Bastard." She answered weakly.



Ansell grunted as he straightened out his collapsible shovel. While she seemed sturdily built, she was slightly shorter than they. "That's not a surprise."

"We got a crutch for you," Shad continued. "It's a shovel, but we'll get you home and make you a real one."

"Old Man Mac says he's always doing this to folks. His way of torturing them, I guess. Chops off a limb and slices the ankle and feeds them to kobolds. He says it's just punishment," Ansell said.

Bethany closed her eyes and took a sharp breath. She was somehow fighting off the urge to pass out. When she reopened her eye, it seemed less glassy.

Shad shook his head, marveling. "She's one of the toughest people I'd ever seen."

Ansell nodded, offering his hand to pull her to her feet. She took his hand and did stand up, bleating slightly in pain. Shad handed her the shovel crutch.

"Let's get back," Ansell said.

Ansell couldn't help but be amazed at Shad's strength and boundless energy. So, Shad could properly brace her, she had carried part of his gear, but Shad still carried a lion's share of his gear. Bethany half leaned on the young man and half on the shovel.

"We can get you to Mother," Shad was saying. "She'll fix your ankle. She's good at that kind of thing."

Bethany grunted, looking grimly ahead. She didn't seem to hear anything he was saying but was focused on his voice in an effort to stay conscious. His friend was right, this woman was superhuman in her toughness.

"I think she's going to teach Ansell everything she knows one day. I think he's going to take over if Mother dies. I don't think that's going to happen for a while, because she's not all that old...."

Ansell spotted the landmark that indicated their camp was nearby. He ran ahead.

"Brothers! Sisters! We have injured!" He bellowed.

From seemingly out of nowhere, another young man suddenly materialized. He was of far paler skin than either one of the two, with dirty strawberry blond hair and dark blue eyes. He was much taller and a little more muscular, with a broad, friendly face. In his right hand, he carried a javelin with a leather thong wrapped around its middle.

"Wyatt!" Ansell shouted. "We found a wounded woman! Shadrach has her a quarter mile back! Go help them and I'll get Mother!"

Wyatt stabbed his spear into the ground and started his loping walk toward Shad and Bethany, while Ansell dashed passed the barrier and into the camp. He nimbly slipped passed the cover barriers and through the pack animals and nimbly dropped his pack near one of the sorters.

In one of the wooden and canvas shelters, a woman stepped out of the entrance. Her chocolate-colored skin covered the defined muscles of an athlete. She had the mild wrinkles of a thirty-something woman. She had a muslin towel in her hands, wiping the sweat of the day's labor from her skin. She wore a sleeveless blouse and an ankle length skirt over leather sandals.

"Mother!" Came Ansell's call.

The woman tensed as the young man dashed around the corner. She promptly held out the towel as a flag. Ansell skidded to a halt in front of the woman.

Mother's voice showed an amused exasperation, "Slow down, child!"

Her voice was light, raspy, and strong. That voice could be comforting when she needed to be and authoritative when it needed to be. Her demeanor always seemed confident and assured, which could be off-putting to anyone who attracted her scrutiny. Nevertheless, her smile was disarming, and her scowl was frightening.

Ansell tried to speak, but his lungs immediately protested. Instead, he pointed back from where he come, and gasped, 'Injured...woman."

With a bemused chuckle, Mother tossed her towel over the head of the young man. "Get my kit, child."

Ansell pulled the towel from his face and dashed into her shelter. He found the laminated wooden lockbox, tucked it under his arm and hurried back to
Wyatt, Shadrach, Mother, and everyone else.

When he arrived, a scene had officially been made. Almost the entire camp had dropped what they were doing and milled around a makeshift table. Shad sat slumped against one of the shelters, fatigue finally seeping through him.

With a sigh, the young man began to slide and shoulder his way through the crowd. While the crowd wasn't particularly large or dense, it was difficult to get the attention of the individuals that jostled to the closer look.

When he finally broke clear, Old Man Mac had appeared next to Mother, and was already telling people to stay back. As he approached with the box, he caught wind of the conversation between the two.

"Just get her knocked out, " Old Man Mac was saying. "I can fix the leg, but not the arm. We need to get her inside.

Mother shot the older man a glare. No one else would have gotten away with ordering Mother around, but the old man had a little more freedom than most. Probably due to his unique skill set. She motioned to Wyatt and Ansell to lift the table and take her to Old Man Mac's tent.

Wyatt nearly yanked him off his feet as they carried the table, causing Mother to bark. "Keep it steady, Ansell! You want her to slide off?"

With two more villagers flanking them, the two carried the table into Mac's tent. Mac and Mother then gently lifted her off the table and onto Mac's table. Mac motioned to Wyatt to grab certain tools and cleaning solutions so he could go to work. Mother opened up her shoebox sized chest and pulled out a few liquids and powders.

"Ansell, Wyatt, you stay here!" Mother barked. "The rest of you, get back to work!"

Watching Old Man Mac work always fascinated Ansell. He was in his early fifties, but his body was fairly well intact. While not perfectly defined, the balding man sported a long, grey beard. When he did his work, he tended to be shirtless. His chest was covered in wiry hair that made him seem like a bear.

What Ansell witnessed was a bloody and fascinating mess. After Wyatt fire sterilized a scalpel, Mac reopened the wound on the back of her ankle and found the two ends of the broken tendon. Carefully, he straightened both ends and did his best to pin them together.

"Mother! You're on!" He called grimly.

Mother had been mixing an elixir of sorts while Mac had prepared the girl for the surgery. By the time he had everything ready for her, she had already drawn a small vial of the fresh potion. She then pulled a brush from her newly washed tools, shook the vial, then dipped the brush in the vial. Thus coated, she gently applied it to the tendon pinched between Mac's fingers.

Mac held the tendon before letting it go. Mac motioned to Ansell to bring over the disinfectant, to which the young man complied. He then did as he was taught, sprinkling the liquid into the wound.

Old Man Mac nodded and motioned Ansell to get back. He then told Wyatt to close the wound. He quickly washed and disinfected his hands before snatching a bottle of fresh wine and plopping into a chair.

Ansell unobtrusively observed the brooding old man. While he never spoke of his past before the End, rumors abounded that he was an Artifice professor at Calliedre School academy. It was difficult to imagine the stout, surly old man in the robes of an Academic.

"Where we putting her?" Mac asked once Wyatt finished closing the wound.

Mother handed Ansell the tools she used to disinfect while she bandaged the incision. "We barely have room for the forty or so people we have."

Mac pulled a lever operated cigarette maker from a drawer and proceeded to load tobacco and a thin paper into it. "Figured that."

Mother sighed, clipping the bandage and pinning it into place. She then turned her attention to the stump at the end of her hand and started to work on that. Ansell already knew she had intended to close the wound the rest of the way on the severed limb. "You want to keep her."

Mac pulled the cigarette from the machine and started another. "Yup."

Mother dabbed more of the healing salve on this stump where her wrist used to be. She seemed to be preparing herself to ask a question she couldn't find an answer to. "Why do you want her?"

Mac shrugged, pausing from his cigarette production to take a sip from wine. 'She has a cross-peen. She's fairly young and has got skills."

"So she had a hammer. So what?"

Mother did talk about her past quite a bit. Around the time of the End, she was finishing up her tenure as a prize student at that very Academy. She always told Ansell that she got to be in charge because no one else would do it. She just wanted to be a Doctor, and operate a small rural practice for farmers, families, and animals. Instead, she found herself trapped in a cave with Mac and a few orphans. The old man served as her advisor and helped her train the kids to work with riding and pack animals, and to do day to day repairs on their personal equipment.

"She's also every bit as tough as anyone. They chopped her hand off, hobbled her, and threw her into a pack of kobolds. This girl should be dead, but she isn't," Mac replied.

Mother sighed. "You also have a test rat."

Mac made sure Mother had finished wrapping the wounds before he lit a cigarette. Judging by the look on his face, Mother was absolutely right. "I guess."

"Wyatt's the only assistant you have, old man. How are you going to find time to build that jevel thing?"

Mac gestured to the unconscious girl. "She's about five or six years older than Wyatt. Don't need to train her much."

Mother tried to put on a show of reluctance. If she was an artisan of sorts, that would make her the rare one that wouldn't be snapped up by the Lords and kept under lock and key.

"Ok. Mac. If she's what you say what she is, and if she wants to. If neither of those are true, she's gone. You hear me?"

Mac smiled over his cigarette,

END Chapter.

This post has been edited by chevleclair on 31st August 2021 19:49

"So, are you a fan of the Fett?"

"Nah, I'm more of a Star Wars guy."
Post #216632
Posted: 31st August 2021 19:44

Black Mage
Posts: 175

Joined: 7/1/2014

Member of more than five years. 
This is just an idea that had been bouncing around in my head.

Would you like to read more? Message me on CoN if you do.

Thank you for reading.

"So, are you a fan of the Fett?"

"Nah, I'm more of a Star Wars guy."
Post #216639
Posted: 2nd September 2021 18:56

Black Mage
Posts: 175

Joined: 7/1/2014

Member of more than five years. 
“Ohhh shi! - “The red-haired Young man bleated as the wooden axe head swept in the space he once occupied.

The young woman in front of him sneered, thrusting the halberd toward him repeatedly, backing him away
from her. She backhandedly swept the pick side toward her target with a savage growl, then chopped the axe
toward her target’s ankle. When the timing was correct, she yanked backwards, tripping her younger brother. At
this point, she was damn near frothing at the mouth as she swung the axe head with all of her might. The boy
crossed his arms at the wrist and lifted his arms as a warding gesture.
Suddenly, there was a harsh flash of white-blue light followed by a loud crackle of magical energy. The wooden
tool detonated in her hands, causing splinters to fly in all directions. The young woman shielded her face to
avoid being injured.
“Bloody hell, Justin!” She snapped. Like the boy, her hair was a very rich red. Also like the boy, her hair was long
and fine. Unlike her brother, she wore a soft brigandine to his silk robes. Both of them had soft, angular faces
and dark blue eyes. Were it not for a slight beard on his face, one could easily be mistaken for the other.
She hurled the splintered sparring weapon to the stone tiling beneath them in pure frustration. “One of these
days, that damned rune is going to kill one of us!”
Justin had since caught his breath and was climbing to his feet. His sister had been gifted with athleticism; he
had been gifted with mana. His interest had been in ars veborum. Word Magic. Supposedly the gods used those
words to create the world, and humans could use the words to alter and shape the world around them to a
lesser degree.
He had imbued a bracer. He had learned a protection rune recently and had been testing it on his
rambunctious sister. The rune had done its job but had two problems: the rune wasn’t permanent, and upon
activating it, it caused whatever was touching it to take some damage. Apparently, it also had the unhappy side
effect of also injuring the attacker. Against an enemy, this might come in handy. In a friendly sparring session,
that might be trouble.
His sister shook the sting out of her hands. This wasn’t the first time he’d tested the runes on her, and one
could tell by the angry look in her eye that it wasn’t the first time he’d inflicted pain on her.
From the door of their gymnasium, a twenty-something man stood. To both of them, he was moderately
attractive. He wore a neatly trimmed light brown beard with dark brown eyes. His hair, a chestnut color, was
combed to the right in a neat coif. “Sir, and madam: I was sent by Lady Rebecca to remind you to begin getting
ready for the Assembly this evening.
Both of them groaned. Politics were supposed to be less complicated now that the Emperor was gone. Yet four
times per year, under the guise of merriment, politics continue to commence. Worse than that, Lady Rebecca
would trot out the two teenaged children of Frey and Alanta, two of the Heroes who had participated in the
final Battle and freed the world from the tyranny of Emperor Jehu.
This entailed for them to set out on some meet and greet with the other Lords and Ladies, who would fawn
over them for a few minutes. After that, they could sit around and listen to half-hearted negotiations that were
usually punctuated by innuendo, drinking, threatening, and posturing.
Justin spoke up, “Thank you, Brynn. We’ll get to it shortly.”
Alyssa scoffed and lightly cuffed her twin brother with her forearm. “Clumsy bastard.”

Justin just simply shook her arm off of him. “We have to get ready.”
Both went their separate ways to go change.
When they both returned, they looked like twin siblings. Dressed in forest green, he in a suit, she in a gown. Her
hair pinned in a tight bun, while his was pinned beneath a stylish green hat.
“By the living gods- this is not going to go well,” Justin grumbled.
“Agreed,” Alyssa added. “I can think of a thousand things I’d rather be….”
Both had turned to make eye contact before she could finish her sentence, both of them seemed to come up
with the same idea at the same time.
“Won’t be that hard, sis.”
Alyssa’s face, once drawn with annoyance, suddenly began to spread to an impish grin. It was never something
either sibling could turn into words, but Justin’s face mirrored his twin sister’s not even a second later.
After Brynn retrieved the two of them, they were led through their manse and out the front door. While not
quite as opulent as a fairy tale castle, their house was still considerable in size. Three bathrooms, two kitchens,
two studies, a sitting room, a den, a gymnasium, an observatory, several bedrooms, and a library were among
the highlights of the three-story manor. Lady Rebecca had managed to retain the house after the End and had
proceeded to fill her staff with widows and orphans of those tragic events. While she did require them to fulfill
their militia obligations as the rest of the people under her care, she did her best to protect them from the
hazards the current world offered to them.
The twins did their best to mask the excitement of their upcoming hijinks. Neither of them knew what they
wanted to do just yet, but anything was going to be better than hobnobbing with a bunch of stuffy, old-world
blue bloods. Both of them were escorted to a carriage, where a footman gently helped them out of the open air
and into the wheeled box. The benches themselves were draped with velvet but stuffed with soft heather
From behind them, a groom led Lady Rebecca’s personal horse up to the main door. Upon the mare’s arrival,
Lady Rebecca exited the manor. She was very tall. A head taller than the twins, with wide hips and broad
shoulders. She wore her old officer’s uniform, a blue and gold set replete with a baldric for her halberd. Unlike a
lot of fellow Lords and Ladies, she never wore spurs, preferring to guide her beloved horse with light taps from
her heels instead. Her hair was long, jet black, and straight, tied onto a tight bun similar to Alyssa’s hair. While
she was slightly weathered due to being over forty, she was renowned for her beautiful countenance. Her jaw
was a little more set than the twins, her eyes slightly rounder, and her almost mask-like face could transform
from stern and intimidating to incredibly sweet and girlish. She was a cavalry officer in her day and always
loathed being closed in a box then she traveled. A footman handed her a revolver as well, which she holstered
at her hip.
With a quick glance at the twins inside their carriage, she gestured to driver to follow her.

The trip would take a few hours, and the twins had been left to their own devices. For the first hour or so, they remained conspiratorily quiet. Bryn sat in the driver's box, giving one word answers to a very chatty driver. The overgrown ruins passed in front of the carriage windows, leading to an oddly beautiful mosaic of plants and buildings in a perpetual wrestling match. Tree roots grappled with posts, grass burst forth from foundations, and bits of fern and moss carpeted the houses. In a strange way, the blend of civilization and nature seemed pleasing to the eyes of the young ones.

Alyssa was the first one to speak, "You know what would be funny?"

Justin, who had been trying to keep his mind occupied for the ride, seemed interested in what his sister had to say. He leaned forward, elbows on knees.

"Some of those moronic pets that those lords carry. If Lady Ella's cat got free and chased off those dumb doves Lord Edward likes to take with him to these meetings, " Alyssa started.

This post has been edited by chevleclair on 5th September 2021 23:44

"So, are you a fan of the Fett?"

"Nah, I'm more of a Star Wars guy."
Post #216643
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