Sunrise on the Steppe

Loz

TNPer
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Nurendir

The days since the end of the Grand Gala in Syrixia had been a blur for the Prince Nurendir. From the time he was invited to Craviter by Tobias and Gaiseric to now, he had thought of nothing else but the days ahead. Having spent his childhood in the picture of order and tradition that was the Imperial Court of Alnaria had left a burning desire in the young Prince's heart for adventure and freedom. He had initially chased this desire through military service, and while he found adventure, freedom stood out of grasp. But now here it was, a chance for Nurendir to find both on the steppe. He had decided to take Gaiseric's advice and begin his journey in the Free Port of Kimbria on the western coast of Essalanea. He had told his father of this, but little else. Nurendir was determined to keep his profile as low as possible while on Craviter. While he had no doubt his father would have agents trailing his every move, the only help he would willingly accept was a guide offered by Gaiseric. He had been given no information on his guide beyond "they'll find you at the port." When asked how, Gaiseric simply replied with "You'll stick out." Nurendir laughed and leaned against the ship's rail as he recalled that night in the Golden Palace. His reminiscing was cut short however by the sight of Kimbria coming into view on the horizon.

The Free Port of Kimbria was one of the more modern cities in Essalanea, and was renowned for its controlled chaos. Behind closed doors the port was "anything goes." However the streets were well patrolled by the famed warrior women of Kimbri clan. Clad in leather, well armed, and riding motorcycles; these women ensured that the port remained open to the outside world, and perhaps more importantly, open for business. Not to violate Kimbri law was another pointed piece of advice from Gaiseric. "You can pay with money or with flesh, but you will pay." As the ship pulled up to dock Nurendir strained to see what he could from his perch on the bow. The buildings were tall, cramped, and largely unadorned save for the odd intricate door, or window tapestry. A group of Kimbri were immediately visible to Nurendir as well. Ten or so seemed to be waiting for the ship to begin unloading. "Must be the guides." Nurendir said to himself aloud. To be truthful he had hoped to avoid any kind of welcoming scene in Essalanea, but he would not pass up hospitality if it was offered.

The Prince waited for most of the other passengers to clear off the deck before making his own way down the gangway. The Kimbri were closer now, and seemed to be looking through the crowd intently, presumably for him, although Nurendir realized they likely had no idea what he looked like. As he steeped off onto dry land he began to make his way towards the nearest of the women, but before he could announce himself another of the Kimbri cried "This is him!" The unfortunate "Him" attempted to make a run for it, but was quickly and mercilessly brought down and dragged away by the group. Nurendir stood for a moment in mild shock. Just as Nurendir was about to say something to himself in regards to the incident, another voice behind him spoke first. "Thought they were for you?" It laughed. Nurendir whipped around and found himself face to face with a different Kimbri. She was tall, brown of hair and green eyed. On her back was an old Skandan rifle, but beautifully maintained. "Welcome to Essalanea." She said. "I am Vivika of the Kimbri." Nurendir straightened him self up and replied. "Nurendir Valarun of Alnaria. A pleasure."
 
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Loz

TNPer
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Vivika

Vivika stood waiting on the docks for the Crown Prince of Alnaria. "Nurendir." She said to herself a few times trying to get it right. Not that she cared about him, but she hated doing anything wrong. She cared less and less however the longer she had to wait. She assessed that the ferry must be running late, and then further assessed that as a sister of Anegrette she should not have to babysit southern princes in her own land. She finally gave up with standing and sat back on her motorcycle, she reached down to grab her faithful companion, a Skandan rifle which was her pride and joy. When she was stressed or bored she would disassemble, clean, and reassemble the rifle until it was perfect. Her timing was good today, as right as she finished her task the ship pulled up to the dock.

She slung her rifle over her shoulder and made her way over to where the passenger were disembarking. Another group of her clanswomen were also making their way towards the ship. She remembered something or other about a fugitive being aboard the ship as well. She laughed aloud at the possibility of her and her sisters mixing up their marks. The thought of ten Kimbri dropping a foreign prince on the docks of Kimbria was enough to bring a smile back to her face. She spotted Nurendir quickly coming off the ship, he was one of the last passengers off the ship, and was very easy to spot as out of place in Essalanea. She was about to call out his name, but he started walking rather confidently towards one of the fugitive hunters. She clenched her mouth shut, praying for something hysterical to happen. Alas, it did not come. Although she did take some amusement in watching the dumbfounded look of the Prince after watching the fugitive hunters apprehend their prey.

"Thought they were for you?" She laughed. The Prince whipped around and attempted to compose himself. "Welcome to Essalanea." She said. "I am Vivika of the Kimbri." The Prince finished straightening himself out and replied. "Nurendir Valarun of Alnaria. A pleasure." Vivika was silent at the response, it occurred to her she hadn't actually thought beyond this moment. She had no idea why the Prince was here or what he wanted to do, or why she was chosen to be his guide. The silence between the two continued for an uncomfortably long time. Finally, after an agonizingly long time Nurendir broke the silence. "Impressive rifle, Skandan model right?" He asked. "Yes." She replied. "Its older, but it holds up better and jams less than newer machines." Nurendir admired it for moment, he knew its had to be old but it was beautifully maintained. His admiration was broken by Vivika. "Well come with me, I'll show you where you'll be staying, and I'll try to get you the lay of the land." She said. "Sounds good." Nurendir replied. "Have a car or are we walking?" He asked. "Neither." She said with a laugh while pointing at her motorcycle. "There's our ride."
 
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Loz

TNPer
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Nurendir

With a kick Vivika brought the beast to life. The roar of the bike was like thunder reverberating off the crowded streets and close buildings of Kimbria. "Coming?" Said Vivika over her shoulder. "If not, I'm sure the hunters will be more than glad to take you too." She said with a smirk. Nurendir laughed and took his place on the back of the motorcycle. "You may want to hold on." Said Vivika revving loudly. "Hold on to what?" Said Nurendir wanting to be polite. Vivika gave the Prince an eye roll. "To me your Imperial Majesty, unless you think I'll tarnish those clean hands" She teased. "No I just..." Nurendir began to say before Vivika let out a laugh and sent them racing into the city. Nurendir wrapped his arms tight around his guide, the threat of high speed death had removed any sense of modesty he had earlier felt. Vivika had lived in Kimbria her whole life, and was as comfortable here in the fee port as she was on the steppe. She deftly navigated the tight streets and called out to Nurendir as they passed landmarks. Nurendir could only help but laugh as they nearly sideswiped pedestrians and cruised over sidewalks and roads alike. "I thought you all only rode horses." Yelled Nurendir to his guide. "This is a horse your Majesty." She yelled back. "You must not have this breed down south." Nurendir laughed again. "I guess not, also you don't have to call me your Majesty." Vivika looked back over her shoulder. "Whatever you say your Highness!"


After they had finished terrorizing the streets of Kimbria, Vivika dropped off Nurendir outside what seemed to be a bar. "Well, here we are." Said Vivika. "Where exactly is here?" Asked Nurendir. "A place with food and drink." She said. I need to go take care of a few things so I need you to stay here and not die." "And if I do?" Asked Nurendir with a smile. "Just don't. I've already got enough to worry about, I don't need Gaiseric asking me how I "lost" a foreign royal in the bowels of Kimbria." With that she sped off back towards the harbor and disappeared. Nurendir collected his bag from where Vivika had deposited it onto the sidewalk. He looked up at the sign over the establishment in front of him. "The Death Adder" was carved into the stone of building along with a roughly hewn snake Nurendir assumed was the death adder. Nurendir nodded towards the carved snake and made his way inside. The bar was dim and close, the smell of cooking meat and strong liquor filled the room making the air heavy and warm. Nurendir made his way to an alcove and took a seat. The bar patrons were few, but distinctly Essalanean. The more he looked around the more out of place he felt, but as the publican came up to him he did his best to suppress the feeling. "Can I get for you?" Said the man. Nurendir thought for second and replied. "What's the house special?" "Get me an adder!" The Publican yelled towards the bar. "What's in it." Asked Nurendir? "I could tell you outlander, but I'd have to feed you to the wolves." He replied. "Starting a tab?" He asked. "Yeah I think so." Said Nurendir "I'm waiting for a girl."
 
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Loz

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Vivika

The soft smoke and smell of sulfur signaled the end of Vivika's task. The man they captured on the boat lie dead with the other men he led the fugitive hunters to. Vivika herself had gotten a bit close for comfort and now wore a thin layer of blood and viscera on her clothes and face which shined dimly in the moonlight. "Do me a favor and clean this up. I don' want the smell wafting out to the street." She said wiping a bit of blood from her eyes and off her forehead. "Will do, we've got a few more targets tonight if you feel like getting a little dirtier." said the head fugitive hunter with a wicked smile. "You know I'd love to." Vivika replied. "But I have to get back to Nurn...Nured....N....I have to get back to N." The hunter stared back at her blankly for moment. "...Right, well good luck Vivika."

The sound of her bike echoed through the quiet city as she tore back to the Death Adder. Her task had taken her significantly longer than she had hoped, but she trusted Nurendir had managed not to die in that time. The barkeep owed Vivika several favors and so she hoped he had been looking out for the Prince. "Oh wait shit I never went inside." She said aloud to herself. She did a hard rip of the throttle and roared through the cold dark towards the bar. As she pulled up she inspected the outside of the Death Adder. "No bodies, that's good." She said to herself as she pushed open the door. The air was warm and fragrant, and chased the chill right from her bones. She spied Nurendir sitting in an alcove sitting with a few locals. He was reclined against the back of the seat, one leg up on the table and a one hand in his bag. Nurendir looked to be the picture of relaxation, but one of his new companions appeared to be yelling. Vivika could not hear what was being said of the rancor of the bar, but she knew she needed to act fast. She started to push her way towards the alcove. She was about half way to the Prince when his new friend seemed to have had enough. The man jumped to his feet knocking his chair back. Vivika started to throw the people in front her out of her way but she wasn't moving fast enough. "Move!" She yelled as the man pulled his firearm. "Nurendir!" She yelled as she made it to the alcove, but it was too late. The shot rang out and brought the chaos of the bar to a standstill. Vivika stood stunned for a moment, and looked down at Nurendir who still remained the picture of relaxation. His legs were still up on the table, but his hand was now out of his bag and in his lap, fingers wrapped around a .357 revolver. She looked down at her feet where the other man now lay crumpled, and finally she looked down herself. She had once again gotten too close and acquired a new layer of red. "Glad you finally made it." She heard Nurendir say as she wiped the fresh coat of blood out of her eyes. "Good shot." She said pulling a bits of skull and brain matter out of her hair. "Well to be honest I was going to let him kill me, but then I remembered you told me not to die." Said Nurendir with a sly smile. "That's a good look by the way." He said to Vivika. "Ass." She replied with a laugh.
 
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Loz

TNPer
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Vivika

"Well, now that that seat is free, can I buy you a drink?" Asked Nurendir with a smile.


The water Vivika dipped her hands in was warm and clear, a surprise given the rustic aesthetic of the Adder. She brought her face down and washed away the grime and blood of the day. The Prince had surprised her with that move, surprised her enough to want that drink. She dried her face, and prepared to socialize. As she made it back to the table, Nurendir was speaking to the barkeep. "Sorry about the mess." Said the Prince. The barkeeper laughed. "Don't worry about it. I always expect death when Vivika is in the bar." He said nodding in her direction. Vivika shot him a disapproving look. "Maybe it'll be you next time." She replied. "Bah, who'll let you drink for free if I'm gone." He said with a laugh. "Alright fine you can live." She said rolling her eyes. The bartender continued to chuckle as he threw down sawdust and hauled out the former patron. "Glad you came back." Said Nurendir. "Only for the drink." She shot back with a smile. She took a seat as Nurendir went back up to the bar. As she watched him she tried to get a measure of the man. If you had asked her an hour ago she would have told you he was in over his head, but after watching him kill, she suspected there might be more to the posh southern prince. In short order Nurendir returned with the drinks. "Two Adders." He said. "Cheers." "Hmm...Cheers." She replied taking a long drink. "So..." She began. "You owe me." Nurendir looked at her puzzled. "Owe you?" "Yes." She replied. "I showed you mine and you didn't show me yours." Nurendir laughed while taking a drink, spitting a bit onto the table. "Did I say something funny?" She asked seriously. "A little bit." Said the Prince still laughing. Vivika stared back at him blankly before placing her rifle on the table. "I showed you mine." She said. "Ah." Nurendir replied, "I see." He deftly pulled out his revolver and flipped it as to offer the grip to her. She took it carefully and began her examination. It was a simple thing like most revolvers, double action, chambered for .357 and medium weight. The barrel was dark gunmetal with a dull gold stripe on either side. The cylinder was further engraved, and on either side of the grip was the rising sun. "Beautiful." Vivika said softly. "It was a gift for valor." Said Nurendir. "Valor?" Asked Vivika. "I take it that wasn't your first kill." Nurendir nodded. "I'm a soldier back home." Vivika looked up at him. "A Soldier, and what do you fight for?" That gave the Prince a pause. Vivika could see he had an answer pre-prepared, but had pulled it in at the last second. He took a long drink before finally answering. "I fight for me." Vivika smiled. "Maybe you will fit in here."
 
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Loz

TNPer
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Nurendír

“I think that’s the first nice thing you’ve said to me.” Said the Prince. “Was it?” She replied. “I never said fitting in here was a good thing.” She said with a sly smile. “Unhorsed tend not to like people who fit in here.” She continued. That gave Nurendír a quick pause, he leaned in and said. “Are you implying I don’t like myself?” Vivika‘s smile went away, and a look of thoughtfulness took its place. “Why else would you be here?” She said.“People happy with their lives don’t run away from them.” The words took Nurendír by surprise. If it were anyone else he would have denied running from anything, but Vivika was not anyone. He took a long drink to give himself time to think. Vivika looked at him expectantly, and after long he was able to say one thing. “Are you happy with your life?” Vivika’s expectant look went blank. “I have purpose.” Nurendír laughed at the answer. “And does that purpose bring happiness?” “Sometimes.” Vivika answered. Nurendír laughed again. “You’re so convincing.” He said sarcastically. Vivika gave him a hard look back. “At least I’m not running.” “Would you if you could?” Nurendír shot back. There was an intensity in his eyes that made Vivika pause. “Why are you here Prince Nurendír.” She finally said. “To not be Prince Nurendír for awhile.” He took a drink and continued. “To just be Nurendír and fight and drink and see who I am...can this place give me that Vivika?” Vivika thought on the question for a minute. Her face was a palette of emotion, changing from frown, to neutrality, to a smile of understanding. At length she spoke. “No, Nurendir...Kimbria cannot give you what you seek, but I can. I can take you to the steppe and wear you down to who you are.” That brought a smile to Nurendir’s face. “But...it’s more likely you’ll chicken out.” She said with a laugh. “Let’s make it a bet then.” Nurendír offered back. “Alright, I wager you won’t make it a month on the steppe. If I win you owe me Alnaria.” “Deal.” He replied, and if I win?” He asked. “If you win I will remain your guide for another month.” She said through a crooked grin. “Sounds fair. Shall we drink on it.” Asked Nurendír. Vivika nodded, the mugs met, and the wager was on.
 

Prydania

Það er alltaf sólríkt í Býkonsviði
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Skógurheorot, Prydania

Colart's wooden sword clashed with Tobias', but he managed to disarm the Prydanian King without much effort. Tobias sighed, looking up to the sky, the heavy clouds passing in front of the sun as he paced around the courtyard.

"Let's go again!" he insisted.

"First, listen" Colart replied sternly.
"You're still trying to use the sword like a tool. You're not letting it be part of you."
Tobias sighed again. Veiðiblað had spoken to him, but only when he needed it. It could tell him what to do, but it did not teach him how to properly sword fight. Colar, however, had been Alycia's idea.

"You keep saying that" Tobias replied as he picked up the wooden training sword. Veiðiblað had whispered that to him before too, but he didn't admit to that.
"But how can I feel like it's part of me? It's heavy. I can feel the weight in my hand. I can't pretend it's just a weightless extension of me."

"You need to think of it as an extension" Colart replied, "but not a weightless one."

"I don't understand."

Colart wasn't fazed. He liked his Empress' husband, but he could be very naive.
"Hold out your arm" he instructed. Tobias did as he was told.
"Now let your wrist go limp." Again, Tobias did as he was told.
"Straighten it." Tobias complied yet again.
"Your hand has weight" Colart said. "If you wished, you could let your wrist give in to that weight. Your wrist would go limp, and your hand would droop. Yet you have to think about it for it to happen, because your body knows to support the weight of your hand naturally. You do not even think of the need to support that weight when you pick up a pen, or even punch another man. It just comes naturally, as a part of you."
"It would be foolish if I told you to look past the weight of your sword. Only an idiot gets into a sword fight with no sense of their weapon's weight and mass. What I am telling you, however, is to understand your sword as part of you. Heavy, yes, but a part of you that you effortlessly support or let go limp as you need. You shouldn't think you are raising or thrusting or parrying. Your body should just react, and your sword should play its part, just as your fists would in a fistfight."

Tobias nodded, understanding the idea, if not how he was going to pull it off.
"That makes sense, but I...I'm going to need practice."

"That's why I'm here" Colart said matter of factly.

"I thought you were here to kick my ass" Tobias replied with a smirk.

"The two happen to overlap" Colart replied with a smirk of his own.

"Should we go again then?"

"No, we've been going all afternoon. Rest for a bit, get some water. Maybe food. We'll go again when we're both rested" Colart said as he sat down on a bench on the edge of the court yard. Tobias nodded and picked up his wooden practice sword to set down on a bench of his own, taking a gulp from a nearby water bottle.

Laurids Hummel made his way into the courtyard, trailed by an Essalanean wolf, a creature gifted to Tobias by Gaiseric from his trip to the steppe.

"Myra!" Tobias explained happily, seeing his pet, squatting to rub the wolf behind her ears.
"I hope you were a good girl for Laurids" he said playfully as he looked up at the Lord General of the Knights of the Storm.

"She was good. We get along don't we girl?" Laurids chuckled as he scratched Myra's head himself. He spoke the truth. Myra, named by the King after a goddess of the Crescent Moon in Thaunic mythology, only really liked Tobias and Laurids. The two she was with when Gaiseric gifted her back in Essalanea. She tended to get...aggressive...with others.

"Well that's good" Tobias replied standing up, beckoning the wolf to follow him over to where his water and gear were.

"How are the security arrangements coming for the arrival?" Tobias asked as he sat at his bench.

"Going well. Logistics are easy enough. Rylond won't stop pestering me" Laurids said, sounding somewhat annoyed. Tobias just rolled his eyes.

"Tell him he can wait until it's all set" Tobias instructed. Laurids nodded.

"He seems excited."

"Of course he is" Tobias replied. "It's an excuse to party."

"What is?" Colart asked as he approached the King and his chief security officer. Laurids just pet a patiently sitting Myra as he explained.
"His Majesty invited Prince Nurendír of Alnaria to Prydania, back when they met in Syrixia for the Two Thousand Years celebration. The Prince is due here after a stop in Essalanea."

Colart chuckled.
"A southern Prince in Essalanea? You're sure he'll get here in one piece?"

"The Alnarians aren't push-overs, from what I've heard" Tobias replied, tossing Myra some jerky. Colart, however, just waved him off as he made his way back to his own bench.

"I'm sure they aren't. Just make sure he doesn't freeze when he gets here. We'll go again with the swords in thirty minutes."

Tobias nodded and chuckled at Laurids. He'd enjoy the half hour of rest before Colart put him through his paces again.
 
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Loz

TNPer
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Vivika

The dim glow of embers was the only light as Vivika awoke. Shadows danced around the hazy trail of smoke escaping from the roof into the darkness and out onto the Steppe. She knew well the terrors of the dark under a new moon. She had faced and feared them countless times, but under this new moon, she was changed. Her companion had shown her the beauty of the stars on a moonless night. He lay next to her to now, in the comfort and warmth of their tent. She traced her fingers along his chest as she reflected on their journey, and on the changes in both of them. She was deep in her thoughts until Nurendir said something she did not quite hear. "What was that?" She whispered. Nurendir roused himself and leaned in close. "I win." She looked at him puzzled. "Win wha..." She stopped herself as she remembered the wager. "You know I was having a really nice moment before you woke up." She said pushing him back down. "I guess this means I get to keep Alnaria." Said the Prince laughing. "I mean you could always still gift it to me." Said Vivika. "I'm always wiling to accept gifts from strange men." She said with a shrug. "You think I'm strange?" He said pretending to be hurt. Vivika could only muster an eye roll in response. Nurendir chuckled. "So unless I'm mistaken you are now bound to be my guide for another month." She smiled and brought herself in close to him. "How can I guide you if you're in Prydania." Nurendir gave her a soft smile. "I believe you said the wager was for another month, you never said it had to be the next month." She looked up at him and frowned. "I don't like to be kept waiting." She said. "Believe me, I've learned." Said Nurendir hoping for a laugh that never came. "You'll go back to being the Prince." She said. Nurendir spent a moment in thought, but all he could think to say was "Yes, I suppose I will." After a moment he continued. "Undiriel." He said. "What's that?" She asked. "Vivika Undiriel is what I name you...Starlight." He said peering out through the cut in the tent. "My stars will guide me back here." Vivika let out a frustrated sigh. "Always the pretty words...words mean nothing here, only deeds." "All I have is my words Vivika, and in my land, words mean everything." He replied. "I'd like to see such a place." She said. "You will. You'll see Armenalis and the glory of Nurlinor. The Sun Rising over the sea..." He stopped himself before getting carried away. "You'll see that the world is wider than the Steppe." She nodded her head slowly into his shoulder. "Alright, I'll take your words." All Nurendir could do was smile and hold her close. As they drifted back to sleep they were still, their dreams were the quiet sounds of waves at night, or perhaps the soft wind over the Steppe.
 

Prydania

Það er alltaf sólríkt í Býkonsviði
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Beaconsviði , Prydania

"So what's this Nurendír like?" Laurids asked as the King, his entourage, and Knights of the Storm prepared to meet the Alnarian crown prince at the city's harbour.

"You've been planning the security detail for weeks, and you're asking me now?" the King replied, more amused than annoyed.

"You asked me to make sure he got around the country alright. Now that I've done that, I want to know. What's he like?"

"Well" Rylond interjected, "he made it out of Essalanea in one peace. He can't be so bad. Probably knows how to handle himself."

"Give the partying a rest" Laurids replied, rolling his eyes.

"I didn't say anything about partying!"

"You didn't need to!"

"The both of you shut up" Tobias growled under his breath. He was wearing a red tunic with stylings that leaned into the traditional, just a hint of old traditional Thaunic umcircassia garment. The black and gold decorations hinted at prancing stags and oak leaves across his wrist cuffs and up his collar. He never knew what to wear to these things, really. There were always options, and seemingly two dozen advisors telling him what to consider (it had been a dozen, but another dozen had shown up since the wedding, and now half of them spoke Norsian). And ultimately he just chose whatever he felt like at the moment. It was a frustratingly pointless song and dance, but he understood why it had to be the way it was....mostly.
"He's a nice guy. He wants to see the world. I can empathize."

Laurids and Rylond looked at each other before Rylond spoke.
"You've been to Essalanea..."

"Yeah, it's not for the faint of heart."

"We hunted a wolf at the same time it was hunting us" Laurids added.
"It was like nothing I've ever seen. The steppes are a different beast than the forests."

"And Nurendír had a Kimbri guide" Tobias added.
"We met some first hand. They're a different sort. Surviving Essalanea is one thing. Surviving Essalanea while following a Kimbri" he chuckled.
"Nurendír's the sort who likes to have a good time, but he's probably crazier than I thought given all of that" the King added in a lighthearted way.

"So he does like to party" Rylond replied with a smile, eliciting an eye roll from Laurids.

"Yeah. He had me at a disadvantage in Syrixia with that rice wine. We'll see how he handles some true Prydanian brennivin though" the King chuckled.
"But don't be an ass, Ry. Like I said, I get what he wants. Let's make sure he has a good time."

"Think you can handle that?" Laurids asked Rylond.

"Yeah" Rylond replied, "sure thing Captain Prydania."

"There's no such thing."

"There will be once I work out that licensing agreement with that Saintonian comic publisher."

"Yeah, good luck with that" Laurids replied with another eye roll.

"You two have the dumbest conversations" Tobias added, shaking his head just before Laurids got the signal.

"The boat's coming in."
 

North Timistania

RolePlay Moderator
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The Free Port of Kimbria, Western Essalanea

The red palace of Kimbria was no stranger to disturbances, it had witnessed murders and duels beyond count in its decades of occupancy. Today though the discord was loud, two enraged female voices echoing through the corridors. Soldiers and clan elders gathered outside the bronze doors to Anegrettes office, bets were placed, and wagers agreed, inside the daughters of the adder waged a verbal war for the ages.

“The answer is no!” Anegrette said sternly, bringing the minutes long argument to an abrupt close

Vivika winced as though she had been struck, the expression on her face caused a surge of guilt in Anegrette. Vivika gritted her teeth and said just one word, she hissed it as through it caused her pain to speak it.

“Why,” she said

Anegrette sighed and rose from her desk, she knew her decision was the right one...but that didn’t stop it feeling like an act of cruelty. She stared at Vivika, her expression softening, she forgot sometimes how much younger her sister was. The last of Saskia’s children to be born, Vivika had been newborn in Anegrettes teens, the age gap had always complicated their relationship. Anegrette could empathize with Vivika but she was always further down the track, she had to consider Vivika in the wider context of the clan, it was seldom a pleasant task.

“Because” Anegrette began her tone gentler now “Because, we are children of Essalan, we are beholden not just to ourselves but to the wider clan,” she said wearily

It was the way of things, Essalan’s way, the clan would always come before the individual. But even so, repeating that same tired and well-tread phrase to Vivika felt like a methodical and heartless exercise. Anegrette knew what it was to be young, in her own way she knew what it was to love, but where she was patient and rational, Vivika was heedless she pursued her passions like wildfire across a forest.

“So that’s it, I have to abandon him for the good of the clan?” Vivika asked her tone laced with bitterness

“Don’t be dramatic Vika, I didn’t say that” Anegrette replied sharply

“but that’s basically what will happen if I don’t follow Nurendir, he will go to Prydania and forget me?” Vivika said anxiously

Anegrette knew the pain of separation well, it was an agony she and Gaiseric had suffered for years. Their pretence of not caring for one another was a public façade only occasionally broken by desperate moments of fleeting privacy. Vivika had a chance to avoid that painful life of political necessity, but not yet, the needs of the clan would have to come first.

“If he has even a grain of sense in his unhorsed brain, he will return to you and if he runs off with some Prydanian slut, then he wasn’t worth your time anyway,” Anegrette said trying to sound comforting
Vivika frowned but she didn’t protest or snapback, it was working, Anegrette was breaking through her sister's fiery temper.

“What now then?” Vivika said in a resigned voice

“The Winter moot approaches, we have the remaining months of the year to prepare and that requires me to be away on the wider steppe” Anegrette replied ominously

“Where does that leave me?” Vivika asked

“I need someone I can trust; Hilde will run Kimbria reliably, but she can’t be everywhere at once, she will need her sister's aid,” Anegrette said placing a hand on Vivika’s shoulder

That was how it would have to be, duty first and then if Ziu willed it a reunion with Nurendir. Anegrette hoped the Alnarian prince was genuine, it wouldn’t do to castrate a future emperor, but she would do far worse if he hurt her sister.
 
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Loz

TNPer
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Nurendir

Vivika and Nurendir sat on the pier waiting for his ship to arrive. Any other time he would have been overjoyed at the prospect of adventuring somewhere new, but this time he had something to hold on to where he was. Vivika leaned against him watching the waves and the setting sun, and Nurendir knew her fight with Anegrette had worn on her. He wished to all the gods he could bring her with him, but he understood the nature of the responsibility that bound her to Essalanea. He had said all the words he could, so now he simply sat there in silence with her. Together they watched the sun vanish over the horizon as the lights of the city came alive, all the while listening to the gentle roar of the waves. Nurendir never took these intimate human moments in his life for granted. Be them moments of great happiness or tremendous sorrow, each one opened a new window in the human experience, and each moment brought him a little closer to whatever it was he was looking for. At last the vessel arrived, and it was time for Nurendir to leave. He kissed Vivika on the lips, and again on the forehead. "Look for my return." He said. "For return I will." Vivika only nodded, and handed him his bag. Before he turned away Nurendir smiled, and whispered "I left you something in your saddle bag." With that he walked up the gangplank and disappeared onto the ship. Vivika walked slowly back to her motorcycle and opened the saddlebag. In wrapped in a black cloth was Nurendir's pistol. "The Sun Rises." She said allowed to herself with a smile.

Nurendir did his best to set his mind to Prydania while aboard. His love of adventure was returning to him, but was ever after diminished by his love of Vivika. In his stateroom he began to clean himself up. He had gotten a haircut in Kimbria, but had to attend to the finer points of grooming. After a thorough shower, and close shave he ironed his regalia. A silver and black uniform with a striking silver sun holding a black cape. He was happy to wear it again. His time on the steppe had in many way helped to galvanize his confidence as the Crown Prince. Cleaned and pressed he made his way to the dining room, and after dinner and drink made his way to the deck to look out over the sea. The salt air always meant something new for Nurendir, and with that smell about him a smile returned to his face. Ahead of him was the Kingdom of Prydania, and a new adventure.
 
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Prydania

Það er alltaf sólríkt í Býkonsviði
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Beaconsviði, Prydania

Laurids Hummel ran checks with his security team, and everything was cleared. The order was given to accept the ship's request to dock.

The skies themselves were bright, and a soft wind blew across the harbour. Summer was truly the best time to visit Prydania. The harsh cold of winter had subsided, and the spring had given way to summer breezes. It all meant the countryside was alive once more, with more and more farms being reclaimed and more people finding work.
Here, though, the wind fluttered to catch the alternating Prydanian and Imperial flags. There had been many visits to Prydania since the end of the Civil War. Some had been rather formal, others had relatively no ceremony. That was fine for Tobias. Nearly three years on the throne, and there was a lot he still needed to discover about himself. For Nurendír, however, a formal approach seemed fitting. He was the Crown Prince of Alnaria, after all.

Alnaria wasn't a state that factored much into the everyday thoughts of Prydanians, but what it lacked in immediate impact it made up for in the popular imagination. Alnaria wasn't southern Iteria, full of thousand-year old rivalries and constant fighting. Alnaria was a land of great, green fields. Whereas Prydania sat atop the colder, mountainous, and forested north? Battered by the storms that gave the King's protectors their name? Alnaria was a calm, serene place where one could imagine yourself free from the worries the harshness of the north provided.

Yet the North was in Tobias' blood. Be it Gothis or Craviter, the lands of ice and snow had shaped his own life. So it fell on him to put the north's best foot forward as he greeted a Prince of the south. Rylond, for all of his cavalier wittiness, understood that. He stood behind his friend and King in a ceremonial black and gold outfit fitting the heir to the Thane of Jórvík.

The ship docked, and the Knights of the Storm lined the path to their King. Tobias nodded, almost to himself, as Nurendír appeared.
Nurendír wasn't sure what to expect of Prydania. The place it held in the Alnarian consciousness was likewise not prevalent, but it was associated with a certain romantic notion of rural simplicity. A land of untamed forests and wilderness. More recently, however, was the association with civil war and strife. What would he find here, he thought to himself? Likely a mixture of both. Maybe something else? It was then that Vivika shot across his mind, and he sighed. He'd focused on thinking about Prydania as much as he could, but he couldn't shake the feeling of missing her. If nothing else, the sunny skies helped uplift his mood, and he smiled softly. He'd been expecting grey skies.
Nurendír made his way down the gangplank, only shooting occasional side glances to the Knights of the Storm. He wanted to see how they compared to their Alnarian counterparts, but now wasn't the time for that. Instead he mostly kept his focus on the King of Prydania. He approached, stopping only for a man in a navy blue uniform to officially announce him.

"Nurendír, Crown Prince of Alnaria" he announced, stepping aside. Tobias stepped forward, his mind a jumble of protocol he could never get straight. It was the part of his admittedly informal education he struggled with the most. Maths were preferable to Royal protocol. And so, rather than waste time trying to recall something from the jumble of facts in his mind, merely extended a hand.

"Welcome to Prydania" he said with a smile.
 
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North Timistania

RolePlay Moderator
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Free Port of Kimbria, Western Essalanea

Kimbria stretched out across the horizon its bloated precincts swollen by visitors and trade from across Eras. Great freighters disgorged all a manner of goods only for their recently emptied holds only to be filled again to bursting with minerals prized from the steppe. The rapacious spread of mining and construction that had come to define the new Essalanea had made the Kimbri rich, their free port granting the western clan a virtual monopoly on trade.

The free port was an exercise in controlled anarchy, in practice, the only firm law was that the clan's affairs were not disturbed. The narrow streets were choked with vendors of every nation who hawked their wares in a thousand different tongues, everything from silk to drugs and firearms was sold openly, free port truly did mean free. Travellers clogged the streets and alleyways like precious life's blood flowing through a vein.
Students seeking all manner of hedonism impossible to find in their homeland, sailors eager for drink and whores, underworld merchants chasing a profit. Kimbria attracted all manner of outsiders, the free port offering temptations aplenty to all in their turn.

Only a clan as unconventional as the Kimbri could have brought a creation as vibrant and unruly as the free port into being. The Volkmann had been the first to establish permanent settlements true, but it was the Kimbri that had truly allowed the idea of the city to blossom beyond quaint outposts. Kimbria was almost twice Neuanfang’s size and boasted a society overflowing with all the technology and vice that modernity could bring to bear.

Vivika watched the bustle of the streets with disinterest, her eyes were in Essalanea but her mind was elsewhere. The days since Nurendir’s departure had left her adrift, Hilde kept her busy with an endless stream of tasks. But whenever there was a moment of quiet her thoughts would wander back towards him.

“Are you going to stare out at the horizon all day?” Hilde asked irritably

“Maybe?” Vivika replied disinterestedly

Hilde sighed and held her arms in exasperation, Vivika’s elder sister was not one for small talk. The result of Saskia the red having a passing fling with an Andrennian sailor, Hilde seemed to have inherited that dour people's hard personality.

“We have a city to run,” Hilde said her tone indicating there would be no further argument

Vivika nodded and rose from the wall she had been leaning on, the two sisters walked down the long red brick hallways, a great statue of Saskia beckoned at the end of the corridor. The red adder glared down at her daughters; the cold bronze contorted in an eternal snarl. The statue of Saskia stood sentinel over the council rooms, the red adder guarding the seat of power with a blade in one hand and a serpent coiled around the other.

“Do you think she would judge me for loving an Alnarian?” Vivika asked suddenly

Hilde stared with a look that was a mix of annoyance and confusion “She had 40 male partners Vika! She wouldn’t have a horse to field in this race!” Hilde replied in a grumpy voice
Vivika smiled, Hilde’s abrasive reply might have seemed cruel to an outsider but to those that knew her, this was practically an act of comfort.

“Now come, the council is waiting!” Hilde snapped as the bronze doors creaked open
 

Loz

TNPer
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Nurendir

Nurendir could only smile at the greeting which awaited him as he peered down the gangplank of his ship. The day was warm and the sun shone down upon the Knights of the Storm and their King Tobias. The Prydania he saw before him was a far cry from the frozen wasteland many described the north of Craviter to be, none the less Nurendir was happy to be visiting in the Summer. Nurendir made his way down the plank and began to walk the long path to the King. A crowd had formed on either side of the line of Knights, Nurendir waved to them realizing they probably had no idea who he was, but in his mind it was always proper to put the best foot forward. As he walked he called out to the King "Your Majesty! I, Nurendir, Crown Prince of Alnaria request entrance to the Kingdom of Prydania." Nurendir halted several paces from Tobias as awaited the King's response. Tobias turned to his advisors, and then back to him. "Only entrance?" Asked the King with a sly smile. "Well..." Nurendir started. "The King's hospitality would be welcomed, preferably of the liquid variety." As the assembled advisors laughed at the joke Nurendir made his way to Toby with an outstretched hand. "Its good to see you Tobias." Toby grasped his hand and replied "Toby, and you are of course granted entrance, and will be granted hospitality.

Once the formal greetings were done, the Knights led Nurendir and Toby to the motorcade for a tour of the city. The Prydanians had prepared well for the arrival of Nurendir, as within the vehicle were an assortment of food and drink. The tour began in the river district of Beaconsfield, on all sides were brightly colored houses rising above the water. In many ways the vibrance reminded him of home, though the Prydanian summer lacked the same overbearing brightness as was common in Iteria. From there the motorcade went to the sites of restored Thaunnic statues, and key moments in the city's history. All the while the two Royals spoke of their adventures since their last meeting. Tales of the Steppe and Prydania, of Vivika and Alycia. Nurendir made a mental note to revisit Saint Ro's Cathedral as the motorcade went past on its way to the Royal Apartments. Upon entering he took his leave of Tobias, his provided apartment had a certain Prydanian coziness to it, but was still strikingly modern in design and amenities. He was thankful the staff had left him to him self to settle in and prepare for dinner. This would be his first meal in Prydania, and certainly not the last.
 
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