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Restored to full vitality, the honey-tan skinned T’Kere grabbed the club of the stunned Inzi. They knew she was strong but had rarely seen her be so unrestrained. It was only rarely where she showed a glimpse of her true might, as many found it intimidating and off-putting since one rarely becomes that powerful without gaining a few considerable character flaws on the way, and becoming all the greater threat for it. That was a lesson she learned well, early on in her retirement as an adventurer; everyone was happy to have powerful adventurers passing through, but one there to stay could go from resident to tyrant in no time at all. But she was clearly putting on a show, and most present knew it wasn’t just for the new recruits.

Truth be told, as much as this zeal terrified the new recruits, the leadership she was using as a chew toy was glad to see such life return to her eyes; it had been years since her spears had glowed so brightly, since she fought with such passion instead of calculated, measured movements, a well-oiled machine. So when she began to pull down on the club resting on shoulder, the captain made no attempt to pull away or drop it, knowing full well what she had in mind. It didn’t take long until the club snapped, too brief a time even for the newbies to notice it was an impromptu act. Hardwood splinters and steel studs flew through the air, and the piece of club resting on her shoulder was grabbed and thrown right at the former wielder.

The air knocked out of his lungs and his sternum cracked, knocking him on his ass and keeping him there as its weight multiplied, always just too heavy to lift without further breaking bones. A common control tactic to keep enemies down without killing them. It may well have been an act, but even holding back so the recruits and her child could track the action, she was a powerhouse.

Without even a glance at the only remainder, the mage, she sent a ripple through the earth in their direction. The tall, nearly brown-skinned inzi had barely stepped out of the way when T’Kere blink teleported over to them, striking them in the chest with her fist at the same time as a spike of earth struck them from behind at the knees. They dropped like a sack of potatoes, partially to help intimidate the deviant guards and partially because they had no desire to take another such blow again.

Dead silence settled over the area, interrupted only by the groans of pain and discomfort. With a snap and a barely perceptible wave of energy washing over the field, she banished the effects still in place and sealed up the wounds of her demonstration partners at the same time. From where they lay, T’Kere’s recent sparring partners/victims could see her winding up for a speech, another thing it had been some time since she last cared enough to do. Her inactivity and bare-minimum involvement these last few years were in no small part a cause of the indolence and apathy of the newer guards. But since Varo’K was born, after that initial scare, life had been returning to the stern leader.

"Listen up. I don't speak of this often and I won't repeat myself. You know me as T'Kere, and as far as the 2,419 citizens of this village need to know, that's all I am. But I know former adventurers like you. I used to be just like you. You love your stories and your respect for order and law of a place are often based on respect or fear. So allow me to contribute," she said, not shouting but her voice carrying naturally, sharp as a razor and loud as a war drum. Nearly as loud as the peal of thunder when a red bolt of lightning struck from the clear blue sky, striking her directly, bright enough to leave a bright red streak in their vision briefly.

Where it struck a broad swathe of red mist poured, covering the spot she was entirely. Slowly a shape resolved, one that looked wholly different from her. Taller, broader, bigger. She wore ornate dark grey platemail, covered in dizzying and distracting swirling patterns that reflected an abnormal amount of red light, and on close examination appeared to be covered in writhing metal snakes. It was heavy, but didn’t hinder mobility, mostly consisting of a segmented breastplate that hid her form and curves and an armored skirt on her hips, with weighty looking plate anywhere except the underside of her arms and her joints. These segments would be hard to hit, however, as most of her was covered in a brilliant red cloak often ending in long, serpent decorated ribbons of materials seemed to flutter and unnaturally move in such a way it made it hard to get a good look at her except the boots and gloves that were adorned heavily with distracting snake motifs.

Her head was covered with a helm that was completely blank about the face, with no eye holes or other clear means of vision. Even if there were, it was obscured by many red ribbons of cloth hanging from the hood that obscured most of her head. The cloth itself seemed attached to the horns.

As hard to discern as it was, this was a suit of armor well known to the region. “To my brothers in arms, however, I am T’Kere of the Gorgon Blood, former Captain of the Gorgon Branch of the Red Mist Free Company. I am best known as the Iron Wall of Sunasvir, Slayer of the Ancient Djinn Hra-Knagotha during the Siege of Sunasvuratha County of 1382. A tale you’re likely familiar with, coming from the homes you do. So as much as we adventurers may tend to disdain strict local authorities, know that you ARE a local authority now, and the people of this village depend on you to keep the order that has allowed for this village’s survival during these times of strife. The hunts and harvests are growing leaner, and those accustomed to higher standards of living than we can currently manage may well act out in an attempt to emulate the better times of yesteryear. But they cannot, and every moment of their delusion makes things harder on EVERYONE here. It is up to YOU to show why the guard is still on full rations while everyone else is on 3/4ths, and that it’s important they take only their share. Up to YOU to ensure that we can keep the kind of unity we need to make sure we make it through this, whether that means patrols and brigand or monster fighting, or managing bar brawls and cut-off limits, or even ration delivery. Show them that this is a peace worth keeping, and even us unruly, troublemaking, good-for-nothing mercenaries can see that.” She shouted, gesturing emphatically as she did so, clearly impassioned.

She was cut off by another red lightning strike, though this one was much quieter and didn’t leave a lasting red mark in their vision. With less dramatic red mist to veil them, another figure identical to her in every way stepped out.

“Ye gods woman, you had me worried. I could see your all the way across town. You blinded Gres when she was carrying one of her new pots we commissioned, you little shit. All so you could show off and play dress up? We only recently got people to stop talking about our history, and now we’ll be hounded by the kids again for months,” the voice said, more distinctly masculine. It was a familiar voice, though more annoyed than most present were familiar with. The recruits she was impressing had their jaws drop. So did Aeva’s. Was that…?!

Both red clad figures pulled back their hoods despite the attachments and took them off at the same time. “Ah, you say such things as play dress up and showing off, yet you surely had time to scry my position, knew what I was doing,” she said with a playful grin as she teasingly tapped his breastplate with a pointy fingertip. “You complained about being known, yet showed here in full regalia yourself. Almost, my love, like you enjoy the attention. Or perhaps you wanted to show off your badass history yourself…?” she accused with a cheeky grin and a kiss. “I wonder who ever for…?” The woman teased. A loving glance from both the hardass captain and town alderman was shared at Aeva, their adoration obvious.

“Bah. That’s besides the point. But since you’re already strutting your stuff, I may as well say my piece, make sure you haven’t scared them out of town…,” clearing his throat and turning to address the audience with his helmet under his arm, he sighed.

“I am Mar’Kir of the Gorgon Blood, former Sage Master of the Gorgon Branch of the Red Mist Free Company. She is correct of course about your obedience being tied to respect, so I’ll contribute as well… I am also known as the Binder of the Ancient Djinn, Hra-Knagotha, All Seer of Sunasvir, and the Blade of Oblivion. She speaks true of our past. But now we are here, just T’Kere and Mar’Kir, residents of this village. I know how hard it can be to change mentalities, to see all of these people as friends and neighbors and not potential sources of income to keep you out of the cold, but ask of you, please try. Most of these folks will never leave this place, so while you’re used to being able to run from some of your problems and unspecified crimes in Volden, Hag’Athu, and Ist counties,” he said as they all shared alarmed glances, “not everyone here has that luxury. They must live with and confront their problems, can’t just nip off to the woods to hunt the first thing that catches their eye or flee from the unexpected pregnancy of the innkeeper's daughters. So please, have the same compassion for us that we’ve had for you in housing you until you settled your work and misleading the bounty hunters of Count Ministhere. We ask only that you give as good as you've gotten. In times like these, we need every loyal hand we can get." The new young guards were pale at this point, unaware their past had caught up to them.

T'Kere chuckled to herself, always entertained to watch him blend intimidation, persuasion, and compassion, though he leaned heavily on the intimidation for this one. Their recent shenanigans must have annoyed him greatly.

"Now please, dear, can you send away your armor before the Dragon Branch comes to investigate the unexpected signal? You know they always complain about distractions to their ever so important work of suppressing the vast fiend presence in the area," the exasperated alderman said, dripping sarcasm. This just got another cheeky grin.

“I don’t know, I think I look pretty good in this suit,” she teased, clearly having fun with it all.

He just rolled his eyes and thumped her breastplate. “I have things I have to get back to. Don’t cause trouble, please.” It was unclear who, exactly, this last sentence was meant for.

He seemed to simply vanish from existence, as though he were never there, and her armor did the same. Not a hint that the inzi woman was anything more or less than a simple townie who played guard and did some hunting.

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A note from Kera Nyx

"Amioemthobi!!!!!" - Aeva


About the author

Kera Nyx

  • Chaos Beast

Bio: Hi! I'm a writer and artist that enjoys a wide range of genres.

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Clip Studio, and my fingers on a keyboard.

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