Cogflake Cogflake

Feb 27, 2024




Onward to Helio


With their business in Gilead concluding for better or worse, Raziel, Aeon, Zorro, and Joseph travel north to the capital city of Helio.


Gilead - Helio


Aeon? (Male Red-eared Slider Turtle)
Joseph? (Male Mouse)
Raziel (Male Tiger)
Zorro? (Male Fennec)

After a few hours, a herald returns to let the soldiers know that they need to get ready for an invasion force, and that some air support is on its way. The soldiers look all confused for a moment, most of them never actually having considered that they’d be used in an actual war. They look at each other and then start to follow the herald out the door, leaving the room in silence, and you lot alone.

The fennec calls out, “Wait! What was that about a reward?”

But no answer returns. Seems they’re a bit busy for that now.

Aeon smiles, chuckling as he looks over at Raziel. “I think they found out we were right.”

Raziel should have known that the reward was a lie. But hey, not being killed is a kind of reward, right? “I believe you’re correct, Aeon…” The tiger stands up, presuming they’re free to go - and if not, well, he’s not sticking around to find out. He pads a few steps closer to the door.

The mouse comments, “At least we got some free food out of it.” That much is true, and the group manage to leave without being hassled. “So what should we do now?”

Aeon stands up and follows Raziel out. He looks around quietly now.

Raziel looks a bit lost. “I…don’t know. I hadn’t actually considered that. I mean, we’re safe, for now, and we got the message out… We /could/ lend our aid to the soldiers, but I doubt any of us are eager to head right back into combat, and there’s no guarantees they’d take out help anyway.”

Aeon says, “I’m not sure…I may be a mage but I’m not exactly the most combat trained one you could find. I’m sure the soldiers have their own more experienced mages.”

Z-fox looks to Raziel, “Well, we could head up to Helio. It should be the safest place right now, what with the Royal guard and the first division of the army, along with the fact that it’s got Gilead and a forest between it and the pirates.”

Aeon looks at Zorro “Thats… not a bad idea really.”

Raziel rubs the back of his neck, “That’s true, and I don’t want to get caught up in another surprise attack…but I don’t want to feel like I’m doing nothing, either. I dislike the Advocates more than most,” he says, absently rubbing his leg. “Though, I suppose you’re right….”

Aeon says, “I would have thought they’d remember to reward us though.”

Joseph shrugs, “They’ve got a ton of pirates coming their way. Suddenly, rewarding us isn’t highest priority. But hopefully they’ll let us reclaim the favor later.”

Raziel chuckles mirthlessly. “Besides, what would they give us? Vira? A lot of good that will do if the Advocates storm the kingdom.” The feline looks up and down Ocean Lane as he steps back outside, before pointing up the hill. “To the gates, then?”

Zorro nods, “To the gates.” The fennec ambles his way in that direction. “I guess, though, if they do make it there, we may end up being part of the conflict whether we want to be or not.”

Aeon nods and turns to follow Raziel.

Raziel snickers to himself. “Just like old times then, eh Zorro? Except with fewer tribals, and more pirates…” The tiger walks along the side of the slowly filling street - it is sometime in the morning, after all, because no on here has slept…

The fennec can’t help but smile, “And less stairs.”

The gates aren’t yet closed, but it looks like you’ll have to move fairly quickly, as they may be shutting them soon. The guards are working to rush through the people on getting either in or out so that they may close up the city.

Aeon grunts as he looks at Raziel “We might want to pick up the pace.”

Raziel laughs, “Of course, fewer stairs…” He looks up when the gates are mentioned, and curses under his breath. “I forgot there were gates. Alright, yes, we should hurry.” He picks up the pace a little, though he keeps in mind that Joseph and Zorro are…eh, short.

Aeon grunts and moves over, softly placing a hand on Joseph’s shoulder “need a lift?”

The short fellas pick up their pace as well, having to do double-time to keep up with the tiger. Joseph takes the helping hand and nods to Aeon.

Aeon gives Joseph a piggyback ride, quickly following Raziel and hurrying towards the gate.

Raziel doesn’t feel the need to offer Zorro a tiggy-back ride, unless he asks. He’s seen the fennec book it from killer jackals, after all, and he has some respect for the writer. “Well, on the bright side, if we’re not stuck in here, we can make it to Helio, and Acre if need be - and pretty much anywhere in the kingdom from there!”

Zorro nods, and keeps up the pace until the group arrives at the gate. They’re nearly shut, but they let the group through before the gates slam shut behind them. The fennec feels a chill run up his spine, “Why do I have a sudden, terrible feeling now that we’re locked out of Gilead?”

Aeon says, “I don’t know…though it makes me feel if we have to, we’ll have a much harder time getting to Gilead now.”

Raziel glances over his shoulder. “Probably…because they just barred the gates. And we don’t particularly /need/ in, do we? Hence leaving?” The tiger gives a sly smirk, and starts walking along the path to the north. “Might as well start walking…”

Aeon says, “The general would probably not be in Gilead now, in order to avoid getting killed.”

Joseph keeps walking, “If he’s not there, that would make him a pretty terrible General, unless his aim was to fortify Helio.” He looks up the road, “I just hope they haven’t closed off Helio before we get there.”

Raziel furrows his stripy brow. “They may have. Telegraphs travel pretty fast, and the lines are operational here, unlike the ones down south. But there must be other ways into the city…”

The city lays ahead, the gates of Helio still open— for the moment, but only on this side, and there do seem to be several soldiers on alert walking around. You can see a few airships in the background, incoming. But at the moment, none of them seem hostile.

Raziel has never seen Helio in a state like this. Helio is usually so…bright, and cheerful! …And bureaucratic, but that can be overlooked. “Wow…things really must be getting bad for them to start preparing like this.”

Joseph frowns, “I’ve never seen it in such high alert.” As the group nears the gates, the soldiers at them look about ready to close them, seeing as there’s no one behind you.

“Hurry up, you lot. S’not safe out there.”

Aeon grunts as he nods, hurrying quickly to get past the gates.

Raziel nods, and keeps trudging towards the gate. “Yes, we’re coming, we’re coming…” The feline is /tired/ by now. He hasn’t slept nearly as much as he would have liked, and it’s really starting to get to him.

After the group gets in, several soldiers follow in after them, and the gates are shut and barricaded.

Joseph looks to the others, “I’ve never seen this sort of thing before. When has Helio ever shut its gates?”

Aeon says, “I don’t know…I’ve never seen any of the towns shut their gates.”

Raziel shakes his head, and looks to the mouse. “I thought the gates were just for show, honestly.” The tiger grumbles to himself, “And a whole lot of good they’ll do if the Advocates have their airships…” He looks around, but his attention is mostly focused on the expansive scene of the Castrum, and the Kingdom’s ships flying in the background.

A harried-looking NCO lupine barks at Joseph and the others. “Stand clear, there! Within 10 yards of the walls is under military interdiction! Be off to your lodgings! If you’re new here, follow that lines over there to the reception center. They’ll brief you and fix you up with some basics.” Alert viewers with a keen eye for military insignia may notice he’s not from one of the usual Helio army companies.

Aeon was not familiar with military insignia so he just follows the others where they go.

There is a crowd of people around the base of the Castrum which are trying to get in, although a few guards are trying to disperse them. Some of them are wearing the robes of the Cela, and are begging to be let in.

Aeon says, “The Cela… Loka’s premiere mages…”

Raziel has never had close ties with the Lokan military…though he’s at least passingly familiar, and has an eye for detail. He gives the guard a quizzical look, but steps away from the wall, his attention drawn to the base of the Castrum, instead. “But what are the Cela doing /here/? Shouldn’t they be holed up in Cetayanti?”

The fennec was about to go to the line to get all regged up, but Raziel’s comment has him curious. He looks left, and then right, and nods to the tiggy, wandering over closer like he does. “I know I’ve seen some of the Cela and Disciples of Skanda studying within the Castrum when I visited last. Perhaps their pilgrimage is being interrupted by all of the commotion?” Still, wouldn’t they understand and be quiet if that were all it was?

Aeon looks at Raziel “likely they were out here when the gates closed…and not all of them are capable of using air magic to fly, so they are trapped here.”

Raziel shakes his head. “No, I don’t think that’s it. They don’t want out, they want /in/…they want access to the Castrum, for some reason.” He looks back towards the officer, and calls, “Excuse me - you’re probably not from around here, but you may have at least a little insight; why are the Cela gathered here?”

A regular trooper passes up the street, gazing narrow-eyed at the shuffling and milling groups of people. “Move it along there. No clogging up the thoroughfare.” He’s of the same species (and apparently the same military unit) as the NCO nearer the gate.

Aeon says, “Hey, he was just trying to ask a question.”

The trooper stops and growls low in his throat at the turtle. “Move. It. Along.”

Aeon shakes his head and looks at Raziel.

The NCO ignores Raziel’s question at first, concentrating on directing several of his men, and apparently also some assorted civilian volunteers, as they work within their cordon on this side of the walls and gate. He turns as he hears the soldier challenging Aeon, making a subtle signal to him before turning back to the tiger. “Religious stuff is above my pay grrade. Don’t be listening to ‘the sky is falling!’ talk from no one, is my suggestion. Go get some rest and some food, and if you want to help out, report to the sentry post yonder in the morrn. Oh, and explain to your friend what ‘marrrtial law’ is, and how not to get himself shot.”

Raziel sighs, and nods reluctantly, gesturing for the small group to head farther into the city. “Come on, maybe we can find a decent place to stay, that isn’t crammed full of trapped travelers…”

Aeon nods and sighs as he turns and follows Raziel’s gesture.

Joseph walks along with Raziel, Zorro as well. “How many soldiers do you think there are here?” The fennec looks around and answers, “I don’t know. I’ve not seen so many. I don’t think the advocates would be stupid enough to try to attack this place, though. I mean, what are a bunch of pirates with a bundle of muskets going to do against the cream of the crop of the Lokan military?”

Aeon looks up towards the sky.

Raziel is immediately struck by images of an armored carriage rolling down the street, a mage with a Svargan pistol, Leviathan… “You’d be surprised,” the tiger tells Zorro simply. “They’re smarter than they look, and better organized than anyone gives them credit for…”

Zorro looks at Raziel, “I remember you telling me about that. What ever became of that thing? At least they don’t have it now. Muon’s likely safe from all this madness.”

Aeon rubs his head. He was looking to see if there were that many airships up in the sky.

There aren’t all that many. A few, and a handful more coming in from the direction of Muon.

Aeon says, “If they don’t have that many airships, the pirates will overwhelm them…there were quite a few pirate zeppelins over Noria.”

Raziel shakes his head, walking towards an inn, not paying too much attention…the nearest one bears the name, ‘The Rampaging Meerkat’. In response to Zorro, he answers, “I have no idea what happened to the weapon. It was supposedly returned to ‘its rightful owner’ - whoever that was.” The tiger shrugs.

Aeon says, “I wasn’t with you at the time so I doubt I have the answer.”

Joseph looks at Raziel, “A Svargan pistol… what was it like?” His engineering eyebrows raise.

Raziel looks distant, even as he opens the door to the inn. “Well, painful, for starters… But from a technological standpoint, quite impressive. It allowed repeated fire, without any overt priming mechanism…I’d never seen anything like it. I held it in my hands…” The tiger looks down at his paws momentarily - it would be nice to have that gun back now.

Joseph’s eyes go wide and wild, “Painful? It hurt to use it?”

Joseph’s mousey tail flicks back and forth while he goes and checks in with the inn-keep, getting us a room.

At the inn, there are two more soldiers at the door. One is actually just huddled up in his greatcoat, fast asleep on the ground. Another, who has a more husky look to her, looks about as haggard, but is standing and awake, seemingly with some effort. She nods at the group as they approach. “Pretty full in here already, but the ‘keeper will find you some floorspace if you can pay.”

Joseph frowns a little, looking to the others, “Don’t suppose the lot of you have anything to chip in?” Zorro reaches into his bag, and is able to toss in some Vira for the effort to add to Joe’s pile. “Floorspace, huh?”

Aeon chuckles and reaches into his shell, getting to the bag with his wallet and pulling some Vira out. “My son is a good carpenter.”

The dog nods, a little blearily. “Yarp. Between refugees and requisitioning, rooms are all taken. So I hear, anyway. If you want to go try to ‘outbid’, don’t do it in earshot, ‘K? The boss already gave the owner the whole speech about ‘war profiteering’.”

Raziel chuckles dryly at Joseph’s question. “No, it hurt to get /shot/ by it. It looked rather easy to fire…” The tiger looks around the inn, recognition flitting across his face. “I know this place. This is where I met Xeones…” He digs around in his pockets, and pulls out more vira - a substantial amount, in fact; at least a few crowns worth. He mutters to himself, “Room twelve…”

Joseph’s voice drops to a whisper, “What’s this about ‘don’t let anyone tell you Engineers make a lot of money?” He smirks. he’d probably have more on him, if his bike and its storage container weren’t in Muon. -.-

Aeon blinks and shrugs quietly, before looking around.

The female soldier yawns, rather wide. “Anyhow, no need to flash your cash in the street. She looks from one to the other, more slowly. “You seen any trouble yourselves?”

Aeon asks, “apart from being the ones who witnessed Noria being invaded?”

The dog narrows her eyes. “I was gonna ask if you were fit to volunteer in time of war. But if you think this is a good time for sarcasm, maybe better to just keep walking.”

A rather large, and grizzled badger staggers through the bar towards the new arrivals, not seeming to care who he steps on…and surprisingly, few complain. Chances are he holds some sway here - which is confirmed as soon as he opens his mouth. “You ‘ere. Tiger. I remem’ber you! You an’ that other stripy pain in the neck, an’ that lizard that stole my bartender.” He scowls for a minute, then looks down at the coin, and a smile crosses his face. “Though, I can’ turn down payin’ customers. Can I interest ya in a room…?” He holds out his paw.

“Twelve,” Raziel replies simply, shaking his hand, and leaving a few Vira behind, as per the underhanded badger’s subtle insistence.

The badger nods, and grins. “Right up the stairs. Lenny’ll give ya the key.”

Joseph elbows Aeon, “No one’s going to believe that, you know.” He starts heading up the stairs to room 12. Oh, goodness, he needs sleep.

Aeon grunts and shakes his head.

Several resentful eyes turn toward Raziel, and there’s some low muttering, clearly to the effect of their opinion of the naughtiness of the newcomers, insisting on private accommodation. Mostly, though, the many people crowded into the inn’s lobby and bar just stare ahead or look nervously around, several of them likely in shock. No few are slumped asleep where they sit or lie.

Aeon looks at the resentful looks out of the corner of his eyes. “We’re not going to win popularity contests here”

Raziel steps over a few pasu, ignoring the glares as he makes his way to the desk to retrieve their key from a chipper, yet unbelievably exhausted looking chipmunk. There’s a reason Raziel chose this room, and he’s not going to let some resentment dissuade him. “Good thing I never cared about popularity.” He heads for the stairs after Joseph.

Aeon shrugs as he steps over Pasu, heading to the stairs himself.

Joseph stops at the room door once he realizes he needs to wait for Raziel to get the key, but leans against the wall nearby, nearly ready to topple over. He looks up at Raz, and asks, “Room 12. Something special about it that you’d ask for it specifically?”

Raziel nods. “Yes, there is. I was here, before. It was a while ago, but… Rhyis had a room here. Room twelve. I’m supposed to find him, and give him a message, and maybe…just maybe he’s here already.”

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Next - From Muon to Helio

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