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 Post subject: Scarborough Fair
View Likes PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2015 5:16 pm 

The Blood Trials have officially begun.

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King Allistair


A morning sun's first rays of light shines down upon a sleepy kingdom named Scarborough. Its citizens were just waking up from their slumber the night before. It remained a peaceful kingdom albeit on the smaller side, but not so tiny that they would have any sort of trouble trying to hold their ground against others. The birds sang and dominated the sky on a usual, lazy spring morning. Flowers budded from the ground here and there throughout the kingdom and opened their petals to praise the sun for its warmth. The towns to the east of the kingdom where the marketplace and the business region lay were just getting settled into their bustle for the morning, the farms to the west were already being hoed and tilled by farmers who'd rose even before the sun, to the south lay the residential area and the town surrounding the castle, and to the north was the castle and epicenter of the entire kingdom.

The castle staff were already at work. The kitchens were cooking breakfast for the staff as well as for the King and his usual accompaniment to breakfast. He usually ate with his wife, his general, his archivist, and a few of the other staff about the castle such as some of his select knights and his heads of various jobs at the castle. He liked to know what was going on when it was going on and discussion over a meal proved an opportune time. He liked to look at them as his family since they were all he really had after his mother and father's passing. He'd even come to see his general as his brother since they were only a short 6 years apart. Being the younger of the duo, he often would consult his "brother" about things whether they were personal matters or matters to do with the military. He trusted his judgment with his life.

Allistair was roused from his slumber by a familiar tapping that came to him each morning when he would rise from his slumber. He opened his eyes and peered through the dark mop of onyx hair in front of his face to find he was laying on his side facing his chamber door. He spoke at the noise his voice coated in a gravelly sort of tone remnant from sleep, "Yes?" A maid's voice answered in return, "Your highness, it's nearly seven chimes. Your breakfast is nearly ready."

He sat up with a stretch and glanced beside him at his wife and offered a soft smile at her form whether or not she was still sleeping. He loved her with his whole being. If it was for her happiness, it would be done. She was another that had gained his trust after the death of his family, and she held it above everyone else. He spoke in return to the maid once more, "Very well then. We will be down."

He leaned down kissing his wife's forehead gently before whispering to her, "Darling, it's time to rise and shine."

After that he stood himself and stretched once more before moving to the wardrobe to get himself dressed and ready for the day.

Harold the Archivist


Harold didn't start his morning off quite as gently as his highness. He was roused from his sleep when he felt a soft sort of tickling on his arm. The man grumbled in his slumber and shifted slightly trying to fall back into the land of dreams. He often worked later than he should, and when morning came, it was a task for him to get going. Especially in his advanced age. The tickling persisted until finally he opened his eyes to see what it was his vision blurred and clouded with sleep. It took a few blinks before he realized where he was or what was touching him.

When he did come to he woke with a start jerking into an upright position. The reason? He found he'd fallen asleep at his desk once more whilst categorizing, and he'd left his window open only to allow a crow to fly into his window and begin to peck at the shiny ring he wore on his right hand. The crow squawked and began to flutter about wildly and blow a few papers into the floor before darting out the window from whence it came.

Harold swore his heart was beating as loudly as thunder cracked, but gathered himself and looked around. He mumbled a few unsatisfactory words under his breath as he straightened his stiff back and tried to get loosened up. He needed to clean his mess. There were papers in the floor and now bird feathers, a few books, and he noticed a couple of quills and ink wells dripping their contents onto his majesty's tiled floor. He must've fell asleep when using his magic to record multiple things at once and now he'd made a mess.

He knelt down using a handkerchief to begin wiping up ink as he wondered where his apprentice had ran off to.

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 Post subject: Re: Scarborough Fair
PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2015 2:53 am 

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The castle walls seemed to seep cold through them. Or that could have just been his sleep demanding brain saying he should go back to his nice warm bed. Which wouldn't have been such a bad idea come to think of it. Then the image of Daimen having one of his own soldiers or even one of his minions slit his throat for not being more active cut across his brain. He didn't survive nearly three decades by being completely lazy. Not when it counted anyway.

And the fact that they were gearing up for war meant it counted. Oh boy, did it every count.

Hastening up his steps, he didn't even wince at the sharp echo. Let people know he was coming. If they didn't get out of his way fast enough...Well, then they would just get run over. He had no problems breaking a few bones here and there. Especially when it was his own bones on the line.

Entering the spacious war room, he immediately scanned the bare room for any signs of threat. No rich tapestries hung here. No big chests or even really that big of chairs. The table was a solid wood block that no one could hide under. The whole room was built with assassins in mind and keeping it bare like this limited the number of hiding places. It also made it very clear whenever someone left or entered the room. Though the closer they got to the war, the harder that would be. Soon this room would be a beehive of activity. Just a lot more deadly.

Striding to the map, he looked down at mini 3D map of Bloods Bane and the surrounding kingdoms. Scarborough was there as well as its neighbors. Small flags were here and there and swaths of green paint represented fields and forests that the army could cross without little trouble. Rock made the mountains and the more rocks meant the higher and tougher the mountains would be to get through. Really, it was a good map of the area. At least as far as Bloods Bane was concerned. Francis was a little skeptical of the kingdoms outside Bane's borders, but that was what spies and intel was for. To find out and plan.

Plan for the downfall of a king and his kingdom. Plan for death. Plan for destruction. But most of all, plan for King Daimen to get what he wanted so that they could all live relatively without fearing for their lives.


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 Post subject: Re: Scarborough Fair
PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2015 4:57 am 
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Archmage of Scarborough
Scarborough Castle


Light green eyes fell upon the faces of three children as they giggled and yelled while passing him by. They ran down the hall and in their paths to the kitchen, knocking everything to the floor. A woman, wide and tall, stopped them in their tracks. She pinched one of the children's noses as the two others laughed. The first one opened his mouth to breathe while the other two attempted to escape. The woman still managed to grip one of them by the ear and drag both kids into the kitchen as they whined. The third, seeing his friends captives to the female miller, had no other choice but to follow behind - a hunched back and a frown on his face. It was that, or playing alone.

It was early morning in Scarborough. It was too early actually that elsewhere in the Kingdom, some people still slept safe and sound. And when they rise from their sleep, they would have rested peacefully, soundly, indubitably knowing they had guardians at their gates. Of course, most citizens would have been awake and on their feet a little bit earlier than the inhabitants of the King's palace. Some of these people were clergymen, bailiffs, farmers, blacksmiths and carpenters, traders and merchants alike along with other service workers. The kingdom lived in prosperity and they woke thankful everyday, thankful that they had something new to do that day.

To Aurion, it always seemed very strange how humans needed sleep in order to function properly the following day and how sleep was like this golden chain that tied their health regimen to their body through the depths of blackness that was the night. Ah, these miserable creatures!

Sleep though he knew not. Every time he was awake, he was awake for the first time. The Djinni never slept before or knew what sleep was like, they did not even need to recharge. But since he was freed and granted a physical form, Aurion found himself to be very curious, curious about a blood and flesh material form he was never used to. For 6500 years and as centuries passed, he knew nothing else but an invisible, smoke-like form. Even when he was conjured, he would shape-shift into nothing else but a simple manifestation of what the conjurer would have wanted to see.

---

A light wind swept over the grass while he stepped into the open, the hem of his somber robes sweeping the ground as he advanced into gardens buried in verdure. He rubbed his hands together, a single sage leaf between his palms. He breathed deep of its fragrant aroma while eyes riveted to one particular window as he looked up. A wicked tremble of the lips pulled one of the corners of his mouth into a faint smile, and he inhaled a swift intake of breath.

"Your highness, it's nearly seven chimes. Your breakfast is nearly ready."

The words slipping through the lips of the maid, adjusted their sails and reached his ears. It was then that a light brow arched above his eye and distaste moistened his throat as he scented her presence - the woman sharing his Highness' bed. The wife. His lips closed tight. He stiffened. That woman. There was something about her he disliked immensely and frankly, if it wasn't for the King, he would have made her swallow her own gut-churning screams as he accompanied her on a trip into the abyss of no return.

Unfortunately, with embracing freedom also came the loss of certain demonic abilities of his, such as the ability to hear people's thoughts from any distance, or the capacity to possess their bodies to turn them into vessels in the physical plane. There were other powers he had lost the moment he joyed in the taste of liberty, and if there was anything in his existence that he feared the most, other than being entrapped and bound, then this other thing would be none else but his very own freedom.

Even though the master granted him freedom, Aurion found himself obliged to serve the ones he was meant to protect and so, he continued wearing his golden bracelets as a sign of his servitude. He was there to ensure the rise of the King, every day, and safely. So if he could, he would have been able to plunge into the wife's mind to find out for himself what exactly was or is she thinking. His instincts did not betray and in the meantime, he would study her closely.

Obtrusive footstep sounds neared. He dropped his gaze away from the King's window and turned around on his heals, leading himself back inside the castle.

---

" I take it that your master is awake? " His sudden presence out of nowhere startled the maid, caught with her ears against the surface of the beautifully ornate doors that gave to the King's massive chamber. His voice was spoken smoothly and low when he asked a question he already knew the answer to.

" Aye, his Highness is indeed awake. " Her fragile answer was short and clear but the nervous change in her breathing pattern belied the glint of calmness in her eyes. This maid, in particular, never felt at ease around Aurion, much to his satisfaction. He never truly enjoyed the company of humans.

Aurion put his gloved hands behind his back as he cocked his head to the side. " Well then, keep moving, unless you want your master to find out that you've been eavesdropping on a private conversation. " He glared at the female whose eyes clouded over with concern.

When the wench departed, the creature began to pace the corridor, patiently waiting.


Last edited by WildSpawn on Tue Jul 21, 2015 10:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Scarborough Fair
View Likes PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2015 11:30 pm 
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Damien woke up at dawn. He started with his usual routine of arming himself and a heavy work out. “It is eight chimes and my breakfast hasn’t been brought up yet,” he pondered to himself, “Where are the head maid and her apprentice!!! I want them in here now!” He began to pace his chambers plotting out exactly how he was going to take over and extend his own kingdom. He looked up at the door when it opened and the maids were standing there. “Why is it eight chimes and I still don’t have my breakfast?” The fact he was completely calm terrified the maids they would’ve felt better if he had just yelled at them”
“Well you see your highness the kitchen staff are having trouble with keeping the fire going this cold spring wind is making it hard …” she said choosing her words carefully.
Damien opened the bay windows and threw the head maid out of it watching until her body hit the ground, and splattered from falling from such a tall height. He looked at the apprentice and spoke menacingly “congratulations you just made head made I get up at five chimes, and I have breakfast at seven chimes don’t anger me further. Now send me the general.” With the death of her mentor fresh in her mind she nodded and went to find the general.

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 Post subject: Re: Scarborough Fair
View Likes PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2015 9:45 pm 

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General Wolfhart // On the outskirts of Scarborough...

Three now. Two missing, one dead, and still no answers.

Scarborough was at peace, and despite militia being his primary function, war was the last thing he wanted. His mind twisted and turned with possible explanations- but he was turning up with none, and the worry kept him up at night. He'd finally resigned to a ride around the patrol route in the quiet darkness, alone with his thoughts. His scouts knew the perimeters and the wilderness beyond them better than anyone else, including himself. They couldn't have gotten lost. For all he knew, they, too, could also be dead, and he just hadn't found their bodies yet.

Bren arrived at the site where the first body was found. There were definitive signs of a struggle: blood in various locations, displaced dirt, and the scout's hunting knife was found some few yards away. No animal did this, it was certain. He contemplated using the blood to divine the identity of the attacker, but he resisted. There had to be a way to do this without reaching into that dark place again. The last thing he needed was the touch of otherworld on his person. He hadn't used that kind of magic in well over a decade, and he wasn't about to begin again. Scarborough deserved a better general than one which resorted to witchcraft, and he was determined to give it just that.

Bitterly, he continued along the fringe. He met with two of his soldiers, whom both halted their steeds and stood at attention as he approached.

“Ser!” they acknowledged in unison, “Nothing to report, Ser.”

He was uncertain if he was expecting anything. Ever since the first scout had gone missing, he gave the orders for all patrols to travel in pairs. Then, one such pair of scouts simply disappeared. Each passing day he feared more of his men would go missing, but thankfully, it hadn't happened. Yet. He'd tightened the patrol routes and put more men on them, but still found himself worried it would not help the situation.

“Stay sharp,” he told them both pointedly. “Carry on.” Frankly, Bren cared for his men. He hated to see them as stressed as he was now, but he didn't want to lose any more of them, and for now, it was all they could do. The safety of Scarborough was compromised, and he'd given the guard captain as many men as he could spare. That was one of the perks of being at peace- there were soldiers at hand. He feared that may not last long, however, and the question still gnawed at his mind: Who was their enemy?

The dawn was slowly crawling over the rolling hills, and Bren decided it might be time to return to the castle. He knew Allistair would want to meet with him over breakfast. He wished he had good news. He left his stallion with the stablehands, then retreated into the castle through the side-entrance into the kitchen. The food smelled incredible, but his appetite was waning. Ever since the news of the scouts, he'd been nary able to sleep, let alone down a proper meal. He needed a shave badly, and dark circles were beginning to form under his eyes.

Without a word, he seated himself at the long table, folding his fingers together to rest his forehead on them as he gazed down at his gilded plate, tired eyes fixed on nothing in particular. He thought he might have had a solution by now, and it vexed him that he didn't. The investigation party in charge of the missing scouts had not yet found any leads, and with each passing day, it seemed more and more hopeless. He would like nothing more than to see his scouts home, safe and sound, but he feared the worst.


Last edited by Kiddo on Wed Jul 22, 2015 8:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Scarborough Fair
View Likes PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2015 12:05 am 

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Cestaline Rhuin
Evil Queen


"Darling, it's time to rise and shine."

Cestaline, who prefers to go by Ces, rolled her eyes at her husbands gentle 'wake-up', if you could even call it that, as Cest had been awake for hours, trying to come up with more strategies for the, likely unknown by her king, up and coming war that was brewing. However, despite the late night and early start, she also knew that she had to act her part- the loving wife, the adoring Queen. So, keeping this in mind, she opened up her mouth and forced a yawn (which wasnt hard, as she was quite tired) and inquisited "Already? It felt like such a short rest," in a sleepy voice.

The king, the man that she shared a bed with, the man that she detested with every molecule of her being, looked at her with loving and adoring eyes as he changed out of his bed clothes. "Yes, dear, it is. Our breakfast is almost ready, so I suggest you get out of bed fairly quickly." He smiled and turned back around to focus on the soft cloth that hes was currentley clothed in. With the Kings back to her, Cest smirked, rather quite proud of her acting skills.

She changed her arrogant, prideful smirk to a peaceful smile and responded with a "Yes, of course. Go down. I shall be there as soon as I change into my colors." Which she did. After the king had left, Ces called for her personal lady's maid, instructing the young girl (Cest didn't know her name as she figured it didnt make sense to pay attention to things that simply don't matter, and a servant is exactly that) to unbotton the rather simple nighting gown that she had on and lace and hook a more elaborate (though not to elaborate, as that would should show power, and the king was the kind of man that didn't like to flaunt things like that) dress. It was going fine, just like any other day, until the stupid girl managed to somehow nick her arm while finishing hooking her corset. How she managed to do that, Cest had no idea, but in the end it didn't matter. Because, despite it being a complete accident, Cestaline, someone who had managed to have perfect milky white skin since she had wormed her way up the palace, was furious. She whirled around, ready to scold the idiotic girl, until she noticed the young thing tearing up.

"I- I'm so sorry, your Majesty," the servant girl said immediately. "It wasn't on purpose, I promise!" She continued to beg, not wanting to anger the Queen.

Cest wished she could explode right then and there, make the stupid girl to wish she had never been born, but she knew she couldn't, as that would completely ruin everything she had worked for, the perfect mask she had created. So instead, she let herself have one have last eye roll, and then forced herself to calm down. She may have been angry, but she wasn't stupid, and ruining something that took years to create was, in her mind, the very definition of stupid. So, taking a deep breath and looked down in the girls eyes. "It's not your fault. Accidents happen, so pay it no heed," she said, smiling and putting a hand on the youths cheek. "However, i would like to finish changing in private now. So go now, run along."

The servant looked immensely grateful. "Yes. Yes, of course," she squeaked, turning around and opening the door. After the terrible servant left, which of who Cest decided she would replace, she finished dressing, which was quite a feat without help, and walked down the stairs until she reached the dining hall.

She took a controlled breath, and, putting the happiest face on she could, she walked in to the large room.


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 Post subject: Re: Scarborough Fair
View Likes PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2015 1:45 am 

The Blood Trials have officially begun.

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King Allistair


Allistair was none the wiser to his queen's evil plot nor her malicious intentions. He dressed in his usual clothing. A dark blue tunic with black slacks and his boots. Atop all that he donned some simple leather armor. Something light so as not to weigh him down or hinder him to much, but something that worked well enough to hold until he could draw a sword if he were to come under a last minute attack. He also donned a black belt and onto it he fastened his sword which accompanied him everywhere along with his dagger on the other side. He, unlike his queen, knew he was perfectly capable of dressing himself. And he didn't much care for being weighted on hand and foot. He rather liked his independence. He knew his staff was stretched thinly as it was, he didn't want them to be even more so. So he did little things like dressing and running his own baths to try to lift some of the burden from their shoulders a bit. After changing he combed his hair and tied it back with a strip of leather so it wouldn't be in his face even though a few loose strands did manage to wriggle from the ponytail nearly instantly and frame his face.

He turned to his wife after giving her the instruction to come down soon to breakfast. He didn't want her to let it get cold. Then it wouldn't be a pleasant breakfast at all, and he rather liked to have a group breakfast for the sense of togetherness it brought. He came over to her once more and gave her one more kiss on the cheek sweetly. "Very well darling. I will meet you there then." He said to her and straightened before opening the door and leaving his chambers closing it behind him.

He turned only to be met with his archmage Aurion. He was always quick to meet him in the mornings. Not that Allistair minded. The man claimed to be his personal servant even after he'd told him many times that he was simply his family and that he needn't worry about being a servant. He'd reminded him a multitude of times that the only job he had any responsibility to was being his archmage, but it was nice to see him taking an interest in his wellbeing.

He smiled to him as he always did in the mornings. "Good morning Aurion. A fine day is it?" He asked him as he began to walk with the man down to the dining room to see who'd assembled for breakfast already.

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 Post subject: Re: Scarborough Fair
PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2015 2:10 am 

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Francis flopped down in a chair and looked toward the door. If Daimen came in, he would quickly scramble up but he wasn't gonna stand around and wait for the butt of a new king to finally make an appearance. Heaven and hell help those who were late to a meeting with him, but he could be as late as he wanted to be. Of course, Francis didn't know that he was late for their meeting. He didn't even know he had the wrong place to begin with!

So it was with a thudding heart that he stood up as the maid entered. She curtsied and almost fell down. She was shaking that much. "General Francis, his Majesty would like you to meet him in his chambers." Cursing, Francis ran from the room and down the hallways. He couldn't fathom why Daimen would want to meet in such a place. Surely the map room would have been the better choice?

Apparently not though as he turned down the damp hallways. Skidding to a slow stop a few yards from the right hallway, he continued at a fast pace. It wouldn't be good to be caught running towards the king. A good dose of intimidation in those lower than you was okay. Downright terror though usually didn't yield good results. It often made people too scared to do their jobs right and those insights you needed to help make plans usually didn't get voice. Least that was his opinion on it anyway. He knew any one person couldn't see it all. He doubted that Daimen saw it that way though.

Entering the room, he bowed low before the king and waited to be spoken too. He did not offer excuses for his apparent lateness. He knew no amount of begging or groveling would save him so in the end, he decided to keep his pride and dignity intact for now.


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 Post subject: Re: Scarborough Fair
PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2015 2:55 am 
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Archmage of Scarborough
Scarborough Castle


His lips rarely revealed a smile even in the presence of the King. Smiling was a facial expression that only passes his features when he's alone in private and rarely does Aurion smile or laugh in the presence of others. He also didn't find a human who was portrayed by others as one with a strong sense of humor, to be funny at all. When laughter was on his lips, it was either forced and un-mirthful, or sinister and sarcastic. He would laugh, sincerely, when one surprised him with a wicked sense of humor.

He put quite the distance between himself and the King's bedroom as he advanced into the sun rays coming through the long and large windows of the corridor. The fall of his long golden hair glinted in the sunlight as he paused to contemplate a portion of the mountains he was able to see from the wide opening. When the King suddenly arrived and addressed him, he found himself flinching slightly before turning around, a light brow slowly arching on his forehead.

"Good to see you finally awake, master. It is indeed, a beautiful day." He commented back quietly, nodding his head as he began to walk down to the dinning room. Out of the corner of his eyes, he eyed the King briefly. He could smell the stench of the mother of deep disgust - the Queen - emitting from Allistair.

The Archmage was indeed very protective of the King, and he was also there to drain the poison out.

"How was your sleep, Allistair? And is the Queen joining us for breakfast this morning?" Aurion asked, resolutely. As might be expected, the Djinni did not feed like other earthly creatures for the same reasons they ate. They fed because the physiological instinct known as hunger, told them to, and they would also eat to survive.

Even in his current physical form, he never got 'genuinely' hungry for food. He would nibble on the food in the presence of the King out of respect, but also to enjoy a delicious morsel if he wishes. Other than that, Aurion mostly fed on the fears of humans, the insecurities, the suffering of others; their tainted dark thoughts, sins and of course, their ceremonial sacrifices.

With a graceful and discreet wave of his gloved left hand, the large heavy doors that gave into the dinning hall opened wide. He scanned the room to see High General of Scarborough, Bren Wolfhart, seated at a long table looking weary. Aurion's eyes narrowed as he glanced at the King once more.


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 Post subject: Re: Scarborough Fair
View Likes PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2015 12:34 pm 

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General Wolfhart // Dining Hall

Bren lifted his head when the doors opened, allowing the King as well as Aurion to enter. His eyes rested momentarily on the djinni; he was never very trusting of it, but reminded himself that it wouldn't bring harm to Allistair. In fact, he found it difficult to trust anything what came from the otherworld. He'd seen the sort of monstrosities his mother had summoned and unbound during her lifetime, and he found it shameful to think he'd once dealt in such a craft. Demons never worked for free. He was uncertain if the djinn worked in the same way.

Almond coloured eyes fell on the king. Surely the queen would follow soon, but for now, he would have relatively undisturbed audience with Allistair. He straightened up in the seat, though his shoulders remained tense as he leaned forward on the table. He didn't know if the king was counting the days in the same way, but after a fortnight without answers, it was time to take control of the situation. His hardened gaze accompanied them both to the table.

“I'm finding my scouts,” he finally announced. He didn't need to provide further reason. The king was already aware of this development, but he expected Allistair would disapprove. Of course, getting involved so directly was a bold move. He'd already given orders for the guard captain to tighten the patrol schedules. Bren would call first for a search within the borders, but if no results were borne from that, he would need to find other means.


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 Post subject: Re: Scarborough Fair
View Likes PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2015 2:57 pm 

The Blood Trials have officially begun.

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King Allistair


Allistair smiled as he was addressed by his archmage and he folded his hands behind his back as they walked. Though it was more of something to do with his hands at the moment as he'd been taught when he was younger. He had a horrible habit of talking with his hands, and men of a noble blood needed to carry themselves with a professional air, albeit Allistair often ignored that, he had been taught to restrain his hands so it appeared that he was focused on what he was saying rather than flailing his arms through the air like a madman. That, and the habit kind of embarrassed him if he got too excited about anything. "I slept well Aurion. I would ask the same of you, but it seems you're the man without tire." He said with a chuckle to joke with him. He knew he had a darker sense of humor, and on the rare occasions that Allistair's own dark sense of humor showed, that was when he and the djinn had bonded. "Yes, my wife shall be joining us shortly. She was feeling a bit tired this morning." He informed him. He wasn't sure why everyone seemed so distant of his wife. He assumed it was because she was a woman. Of course, he couldn't picture his precious Cestaline doing anything of the sort against him or his kingdom.

As they entered the hall, he could see Bren wasn't at his peak this morning. He frowned as he saw the sleep that had evaded the man the night before written in bags under his eyes. He stepped into the room his focus now on him as he became worried. What had happened in his kingdom the night prior? Had they lost more scouts? Had something happened to Bren? His mind became abuzz in a mere moment with the possibilities. He seemed to have a knack for bad luck, and usually with Allistair, the worst possibility was the thing that happened.

"Bren...you look exhausted." He said to him as he approached him at the table and rested a hand on his shoulder leaving the other one to rest on top of his sword hilt. Bren sat to his immediate left, his wife on the same end of the table to his immediate right, and to the first seat on the right side of the table sat Aurion. From there the seats were pretty much free, but that was how he liked the head of his table set up. That way he could talk directly to the people he was closest with.

"What are the developments? I fear the worst."

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 Post subject: Re: Scarborough Fair
PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2015 9:30 pm 
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Earl Seaward, The Archivist Assistant


"Are you sure you must go? Can't you stay just for a little longer?" The voice that filled the silence of the small room was as soft as it was charming, appropriate coming from the figure that had spoken the request. The early morning rays of sunlight that managed to make it past the curtains of the window slightly illuminated exposed parts of the woman that was sitting up on the warm bed. Her eyes, of bright emerald green that also happened to catch the light, fixated on the man that had spent the previous night with her who was now dressing himself at the end of the bed. The look on her face told that she was to miss this man who she had never known at all in her life before he had come to her store in search of fresh foods to take back to his home, where it was she did not know. When she first laid eyes on the man she knew that he was one of much charm and many secrets. She knew with the first words he spoke that no matter how much she could prod and poke, he would forever keep whatever true identity he had a secret. Yet, she was drawn to him the instant she saw him, as she figured a lot of women probably were. Whether or not he was aware of that trait she did not know nor did it make a difference to her. Something about him just made her yearn, and now she was certain that once he left she will never see him again.

Earl Seaward, son of the late Aaron Seaward, did not ignore the question but instead opted to stall from giving the answer he knew she did not want to hear nor did he want to say. He did not love this woman but sharing a night together had given him a sort of attachment to her. They had only known each other for a few hours but within that time they had bonded in a great way, as he did with many other women that he had to eventually leave behind. Used to it as he was, it still was not easy to do. "I wish I could," he began to say as he placed his cloak around his shoulders trying to avoid looking at the woman yet failing miserably as the light from the early morning sun taunted him with vision of the lovely elder of him by only a few years, "but I have to get back..."

"To tending the family farm?" She jokingly cut him off as a tiny smirk played upon her lips.

Without skipping a beat, the young man nodded his head as the words stung at him, "I stayed out longer than I expected to." That happened to be a true statement. Earlier the night before he had been cleaning one of the wing's of the Archivist's library when he came upon Harold fallen asleep after tirelessly working, as he usually does although Earl has requested he try to pace himself a bit more. Earl took the discovery of his sleeping master as an opportunity to go out and get some supplies for the library as well as some food to make a fresh meal for the old man. He had meant to come back as soon as possible, cook, clean the mess that his master had made using his magic, and then wake him up with a full tray of food. Earl had rose his horse away from the castle and immediate town and opted for a place as close to the outside of the kingdom as possible so he would be less likely to be recognized. Though he was just an assistant and relatively unknown, he nevertheless never wanted to run the risk of being identified as someone tied rather close to the kingdom's royal members. After about an hour of riding he made it to this rather small village just on the border of the kingdom and found the tavern, hoping that there would be someone there willing to make trade with him as it was late in the day and most shops were closed at the time. Luckily for him, the tavern he entered was stocked with various foods and the owner, who he came to know as Gwen, was willing to barter with him. This then led to a slight delay for the plans that he now prepares to continue as the morning air wades in through the window.

"It's ok," the tavern owner continued on as she gazed into the eyes of the man that had been her company and lover for the night, "I don't feel bad about it and neither should you." With that she stood up from the bed, her naked form basking in the warmth and slight sunlight as she approaches her one time lover and kisses him softly before helping him finish dressing. "All the things we talked about...all the romance that we shared... I thank you for that."




"I'm sorry, Harold," spoke the young assistant as he walks in through the door into the room his master had seemed to now be awake in, "I was going to clean that up for you when I had gotten back from getting some food for us and some supplies for the library," he motions his head to the tray of cooked meat, vegetables and breads that he is carrying with both hands. "Unfortunately, I got a bit tied up and apparently am late to getting back." He places the tray on a different desk than the one Harold was at and helps to clean up the ink and books. "I've got to say, if you don't mind, you are working terribly hard as of late. Working yourself to exhaustion, more than usual it seems. Is everything alright?"



Archibald the Puppet Master


In just a few short hours the sun will begin to rise over the lands and bring warmth and light to the world. The markets will open soon, vendors looking to sell or trade their wares off while many residents would have been awake for some time already tending to various works of their own. Soon, the world will be waking up together and many of its inhabitants will be interacting with each other as the day goes on. For now, however, many of them are fast asleep, unconcerned of any events that may be taking place during the night but not all are sleeping. During the night hours many folks are very much active in their activities; thieves, murderers, criminals of many sorts looking to prey on the innocent ones that happen to be caught unguarded. The kind of folks that consider themselves to be the bane of the night, believing and bragging that they are the reason that many fear the night and to the average citizen, they might be. To some, they are all nothing but empty vessels waiting for the right master to claim dominance over their souls. Very few individuals harbor that feeling more than Archibald the Puppet Master.

"Please, please let me go..." the cries of the somewhat well known gang leader Tyrus are barely audible as he strains through the pain and embarrassment of the torture he had been receiving from the Archmage, though the words fall on deaf ears, "...I'm sorry."

Shaking his head slightly, the dark mage slowly walks towards the once proud villain of the streets who now lays strung out on a table, arms, legs, and head bound down with various instruments of torture laid out around him."You approach me in the middle of the night while I am on my routine stroll for alchemist ingredients. You interrupt my work to attempt to rob and kill me...like I am some common filth. You lay your hands on me and try to stick me with that pathetic blade of yours," he looks over at the small dagger that sits on the table which belonged to the captive.

Tyrus' eyes are bloodshot red as tears stream from them like rivers, the otherwise strong man broken by the physical and mental torture he had endured from the cruel man that now stands before him, "I did not know who you were. I would have never attacked you if I had known, you got to believe me."

"Oh I believe you, great Tyrus, infamous leader of the Dark Hunters gang. Unfortunately, for you, you crossed the boundary of mercy when you touched me and even more so when you recognized me and thought you could possibly take me as a hostage and claim ransom from the king."

The teary eyes grow wide on the vagrant before pleading some more, "I...do not..."

"Come now, Tyrus, don't try to play any games. I am perfectly capable of reading minds much stronger than yours, surely you must know that I can see every thought you have. But, do not fret completely for I will admit that I admire the fact that you were convinced you could actually go through with it. Most men in your position would have recognized me and run away but you did not. You stood your ground, however foolish that proved to be in the end. You should be proud." The mage picks up one of his tools and whispers an incantation which makes small rune-like lights shine upon the small scalpel like blade, turning the tip towards the heart of the bound gang leader. "And for your courage, you will be rewarded. Your soul shall be consumed by me and you will spend all of eternity serving me. There is no finer prize and soon the rest of your gang will be mine as well."




It was slightly after dawn when Archibald had finally made his way to the castle, having spent most of the morning washing up the chamber in which he performed the ritual to turn his newly acquired minion. The screams of the man were heard throughout the otherwise quiet town, keeping many of the denizens awake out of fear. This was proven to be true as during his walk the residents that happened to be awake did their best to steer clear from sight of the high mage whose reputation was just as frightful to them as the figure himself. This made the walk to the castle from his elaborate manor quite tranquil for him as he did not have to bother with any of the common trash that he feels plagues the streets. If only the king would allow me to turn them all into my slaves, he thought to himself as he pushed open a hidden door on the side of the castle that made way for a long tunnel, at the end of which leads to one of the smaller libraries which holds many of the Archmage's tomes and other magical parchments. He ensures that both doors to the tunnel are closed securely before leaving the small library and walking the halls of the castle.

As he walks through the desolate tunnels, many of the servants preparing for the day in other rooms most likely, he catches at the far end of the hall the figure of General Francis hastily marching towards the direction of the king's chambers, provoking the curiosity of Archibald, "Now what could he be possibly doing?" He picks up his pace a bit to try and keep the General in his view while staying back far enough as to not alert him to the mage's presence. The mage follows until Francis makes it to the chamber which was assumed to hold the king but does not go all the way to the entrance and instead hangs back to get a feel for the conversation that will no doubt ensue.


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 Post subject: Re: Scarborough Fair
View Likes PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2015 11:52 pm 
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Damien has been pacing his room waiting for the general, and he was becoming furious with being kept waiting. By now he had lit the fire in his fire place and ordered his breakfast to be brought up to him. “I don’t know whats keeping that fool of a general. I have come to the conclusion he has a death wish he knows I hate being kept waiting.” he thought to himself. He looked out of his window and was reminded why he took this tower. He could see his military encampments from here without obstruction. Not only could he see the army he had assembled here the mortal army but also his army of undead it was the exact army that he used to take over this kingdom. He watched the undead soldiers move through the battle regimens and he was becoming more furious by the second.

He turned around when the door opened and the general had finally arrived. “It is about time you got here!” he yelled at the man, “I have been waiting for ages now and I hate waiting, you must truly have a death wish you pathetic little worm!” He walked to the window and stared down at the camps where the mortal soldiers had just woken and lit the cook fires for their morning meal. It was only when he could smell the smoke from the cook fires. “Hmm hickory, I believe is the wood being your men are using for their cook fires,” he said as he turned to face the man, “Can you tell me why the men aren’t already up and doing their training?” It was then that he was so angry that he took a swing at the general with the intent of sending the man to the floor.

After his burst of anger he held his hand out to the side and began to create small messenger skeleton. He patted the rough boney head of the small construct. He spoke to the small skeleton in the ancient language of the necromancers “Now my pet you are much faster than the servants of this castle go forth and bring to me my mage.

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 Post subject: Re: Scarborough Fair
PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2015 12:38 am 

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Francis just looked at Daimen with no feeling. It was a passive look, meant to give nothing away. "Forgive me my liege. But I was waiting in the war room and only just received you message a few minutes ago. I am not magical like you. I only have mundane means to travel this castle and it does take a little bit. Even at a running pace." His voice was calm and even toned. It didn't betray the slight fear he was feeling at the king's rant. Sure. He would look forward to a quick death, but he doubted that the death would last long. The cons of serving a necromancer.

When the hit came, Francis took just enough of a step away to dissipate some of the force, but still leave a mark. Stumbling a bit, he rubbed his shoulder and bowed his head. "Because my liege, it is better to wait for nightfall. As I think a night raid would be a wise thing against Scarborough, I want my men ready to battle with only the light of the moon. They already know how to fight by sun. They are not lax for the sake of being lazy." Here he gave his king a sly grin, his plan for his army already in motion. "Please my king, it weeds out the week early for I am sure you will kill any that do not immediately go to the training grounds whenever you command."

After all, he was sure that the king would order training sessions on a whim. He was very childlike in that regard. At least based on Francis's observations of him. And he was also sure that any man that didn't jump and make haste at such an order will feel the swift death and then rising from that death from the king before him.

Once again. The cons of serving a necromancer.


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 Post subject: Re: Scarborough Fair
PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2015 2:53 pm 

The Blood Trials have officially begun.

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Harold the Archivist


Harold was no fool, and he hadn't been born the day prior. He knew what his young apprentice had been up to, and he'd taught him better. He was a clever man, and he could see through lies quite easily. Especially when you've raised a boy since boyhood. Of course he wasn't angry with him, just mildly disappointed. He had always envisioned his young apprentice settling with a nice woman whom he'd be able to go home to each night and enjoy his life with, but instead he choose to sleep around with floozies that weren't worth a copper piece of his time. He knew the boy deserved better than that. Or at least he felt he did.

He gave a sigh and tried to straighten himself to talk to him from the stance he'd taken on the floor when they'd finished their cleaning but stopped halfway with a wince and held his back with one hand. He'd ruined it sleeping on a desk, and it was stiff and uncooperative. He paused then stood the rest of the way up. He looked on at Earl with worried eyes. "You were out with a woman again weren't you?" Harold asked.

He'd already had this talk with him time and time again about how he was a nobler man than one who slept with any woman coming and going and that he deserved better in that respect, but it seemed that Earl would never listen to the older man. And sometimes in his own private thoughts, he feared the boy might leave him alone for some harlot who came along. He wanted to live to see him marry and settle and perhaps even have children of his own. Earl was his son, and he only wanted the best for the boy. Whatever it meant he had to do. Earl was all he had. "Son, you deserve so much better than that..." He said gently laying his hand on the man's arm affectionately.

After giving him ample time to answer, he spoke again. "I do thank you for the thought and the food though. It smells delicious Earl." He said giving the man (still a boy in his opinion) a loving hug, and then answered the last plight he'd informed him of. "Well....I fear the worst may be upon us very soon....I've had a bad feeling for a long time now son, and I worry that we might be heading into a storm. I've felt a sinister presence for awhile now, but I can't pinpoint it. And worse than that, when I was filing the latest military reports from Bren, he's got scouts missing." Harold explained.

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 Post subject: Re: Scarborough Fair
PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2015 11:04 pm 
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Archibald the Puppet Master


It was no surprise when Archibald heard what sounded like a blow being landed onto the flesh of a victim, most likely that of the evil king's General who would be unfortunate enough to be within range of his highness' temper. For as long as the archmage has known the still very young necromancer king, he had been witness to a type of leadership that he both admired and supported as it made it easier for the mage to practice his dark arts. For anyone that was foolish enough to cross Damien, which was not a hard thing to accomplish, was as good as dead because the king does not tolerate incompetence nor insubordination on any level, as was the same for old Archibald. Many mortal servants that had slacked off in his presence paid for their insolence without mercy. Fortunately for the rest of the servants of the royal families' they learned to keep on the ball at all times. This made the kingdom better in the eyes of the Puppet Master and knew that king Damien understood that as well considering it was Archibald, who had been the Archmage for many years before Damien took the throne, who helped develop the young king grow into that mentality.

Contemplating on the easily irritable nature of the king, Archibald also considered the implications of General Francis being on the receiving end of such rage. It was one thing to punish the lowly servants, especially those vermin that still held their mortality, but a whole different case with such a high ranking official. No, Archibald held no feelings towards Francis on a personal level, in fact he could not care for the man aside from his proven ability to lead an army as well as his reputation as a fighter. But it was not wise for even the evil king to demoralize such a valuable pawn. Unfortunately, it is his kingdom. Regardless of what advice I give, he can reject or accept it as he pleases, thought the old mage just as he watched the doors open way to small skeleton that was to summon Archibald to see the king.

Without hesitation the necromancer waved off the creature and made his way to where two of the most powerful members of the kingdom had been meeting and talking, of what the mage was unsure of, "Good morning, your highness," he spoke while bowing slightly before standing straight and looking to Francis, nodding his head, "General." It did not take any magic to feel the tension that had been packed into the room, "What can I do for you, my king?"


Earl Seaward, the Archivist Assistant


No matter how many times he had gone through it, no matter how used he was to the master knowing exactly what he had gone through, Earl could still never help keep his face from turning bright red whenever the question was presented. He knew that Harold never really approved of the young assistant's entanglements with many of the women that Earl had been with, believing most of them to be beneath the growing lad's merit. Sure, Earl understood the worries of the man that had come to be like a father to him, that he would like to see the lad make a commitment to a nice woman, which Earl was not truly against. "It was not something I had planned, Harold," the youth spoke in an apologetic yet explanatory tone, "I had gone to get us some supplies and while waiting for the servants to prepare the cart, the woman and I began to speak with each other. After sharing many of our childhood memories and other pleasantries with each other we seemed to just feel this bond towards each other and, just like with all the others, the bond evolves quickly." He could feel his cheeks starting to burn as he left out all the details, "I believe she would have married me...if I had stayed."

Even though Earl knew that Harold had at many times talked about his adoptive child settling down with a good woman, the young man could never forgo his current duties with Harold, as well as his goal for justice for his parents, for another type of commitment like marriage, not yet at least. No, the boy loved his current life with the older man too much to let that go for now. He took in the embrace of the old man while returning it before hearing the news of the missing scouts and Harold's intuition of a sinister presence among them.

"How long have the scouts been missing for? Do you think this presence you feel has something to do with that?" The young apprentice knew Harold long enough to know that when he said he felt something, he was usually right about what it was he felt. Which meant that if he senses something sinister, then something sinister is definitely going on. This thought makes the hairs on the back of the young man stick up while he grabbing a piece of bread and a cut of meat from the tray. "You say you fear the worst, as in what?"


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 Post subject: Re: Scarborough Fair
PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2015 1:56 am 

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General Wolfhart // Dining Hall

“Someone is trying to send a message,” Bren grumbled, knowing full-well it was most likely the conclusion they had all come to already- but, Bren knew this after the first scout was found dead. The point was driven home into his mind now, and he couldn’t shake it no matter how much he wanted to. “I just don’t know who.” He was worried. He could sense Allistair was concerned as well, though he was uncertain just how deeply he understood the implications of this. His folded fingers tightened into fists, like he was attempting to squeeze the life out of something between his palms. He would like to think he was merely overthinking the situation, but unfortunately, overthinking was exactly his job in this scenario.

“I’ve no word yet from my investigation, and it has been long enough. No clues, no tracks, nothing,” he maintained his eye contact with both Allistair and Aurion as he said this, particularly Aurion, as he slowly and deliberately explained, “It is my opinion they were not captured by ordinary men. Men leave a trail.”

“Thus,” he continued, allowing no room for interjections, “I feel it is my personal concern to continue this search. Whomever is responsible for using magic to incapacitate my soldiers must answer to me.” He hadn’t noticed when his fist had dropped angrily onto the tabletop. Bren was especially sensitive to magic, his mixed feelings on them an enigma to those who misunderstood him. He believed that magic should serve man, not use them. Dark magic, especially, with its intimate and manipulative relationship with its user, was unforgiveable according to Bren. Therefore, if it really was magic at play here, it was almost a personal insult on top of the threat it was already turning out to be.

His dark eyes bore into the two of them, now awaiting their thoughts. When Bren was finished talking, he made it quite blatant when he was. Even as adamant as he was about addressing this matter personally, he was not above the opinions of his peers. They had saved his hide from impulsive decisions many times before, and he valued them.


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 Post subject: Re: Scarborough Fair
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2015 2:35 am 

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Harold the Archivist


Harold smiled a bit at the boy's words about the woman despite his dislike of his actions and spoke as a bit of nostalgia entered his eye. "Then perhaps a second date with her? It could do you good to get to know someone. Drop those silly ties to revenge. You worry me so Earl with that sort of thing. I fear that if you pursue you'll not be fulfilled when you reach your goal. Hatred breeds hatred. And vengeance is an empty victory." He said. The old goat never seemed to run out of sayings, or tidbits of wisdom. Perhaps it was his years on the earth, perhaps it was his habit of reading for hours upon hours, but he seemed to have some sort of a solution, or attempted solution for everything.

As he got back to the topic on hand he let the smile fall and took on a more serious look with his dear son. "Well, I do feel this presence has something to do with it. The scary thing is I have a sinking feeling that it's not far beyond the castle walls. It seems I am the most unsettled when we're in our beloved library." Harold lived just outside the gates of the castle with Earl even if he did often fall asleep here in his office inside the castle walls where they now stood. "Dear Earl I fear....I fear war at its most brutal....And I don't think it long off." He said seriously as he settled another chair down next to his own so Earl could sit and eat with him.

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 Post subject: Re: Scarborough Fair
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2015 12:45 pm 
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Earl Seaward, The Archivist Assistant


It was that smile of Harold's, the same smile that the boy had first seen all those years ago when he first met the Archivist, that made the young assistant feel a warm and homely feeling. Whenever the old man would smile like that Earl could feel the care coming off him as if he radiated with it. It was that smile as well as his gentle words and kind nature that made living here so much better but also made it very hard for the lad to think about how bad he wanted this vengeance and even worse that, regardless of what had ever been said, the youth was determined to see this goal of his to the end. He smiled along with Harold but cut the look somewhat early as he listened to the wise words of the man that had experience far beyond his own, a slight frown playing upon his face as he replied with, "I'm sorry, Harold. I know you disapprove of my wanting to seek out my parents' killers. To be honest, I know it is a foolish endeavor that will probably end up killing me in the end, especially if the rumors I had heard turn out to hold any truth. Truth be told, if it were not for the rumors, I would have most likely dropped the idea of pursuing this under the reasoning of it just being some random attack, though to say I would not seek vengeance for that as well I cannot say. But to think that my parents, who had always just been humble craftsmen, being lured out and specifically killed off, I...I cannot let that go. To think that their deaths may have been avoided if not because of some foul play is just too much for me bear."

The young man cast his gaze down to the floor as he tried to keep his mind from wandering back to that time of his life when he was all alone at his parents' general shop that they had owned which also doubled as their home. Though not truly alone as Earl's uncle was to care for the still very young child and the store while the parents were called away. This proved to be just as good as being alone, however, as the months for which the uncle was supposed to have been taking care of the lad he had spent in a drunken stupor while ruining the business that had taken Earl's father and mother so much effort to bring up. The uncle had no ill-intent, mind you, he was just a lost soul whose days working for the kingdom's military had plagued him with curses that only strong drinks and cheap women could only hope to suppress.

It was when the two of the, Earl and his uncle, had heard word of the death of the Seaward's that everything had hit its final point; the uncle killed himself days later...though the cause was alcohol poisoning and Earl was sure he had accidentally drank himself to death over the loss of his brother. Earl, through this, held strong however and tried to undo the damage to the shop that his uncle had done but it proved futile as he could not manage it on his own. Once the death of his parents' had been deemed officially confirmed and Earl inheriting the full rights to the building that was now his shop and home, he sold it off to the local government, took the money gained from it as well as his uncle's prized broadsword, and ventured off.

Tears began to form in the eyes of the lad as he looked upon the floor, trying to fight them back as he hated to cry, especially in front of others, even Harold, the man that had been kind enough to take the former orphan in many years earlier. Feeling that he did an efficient job holding back any tears, hoping the old man did not take any notice, Earl shook his head as he remembered that there is a much more pressing matter at the moment, fixing his posture upright before looking back at Harold, "For now, though, I have sworn my loyalty to this kingdom as well as to you Harold and I will be sure to stand by you and the king."

Earl listened with great concern as the archivist explained a bit more on the feelings of ill he had been having lately, unsure what to make of the thought of something within the very castle they now stood in to be holding a presence sinister and powerful enough to gain the attention of the otherwise joyful elder. The worry that something that may prove to be against them having somehow made its way all the way to the heart of the kingdom begins to play on the young man's mind. This feeling is made even stronger as the idea of war is introduced to the conversation, "War? Can you be sure about that?" It was never something the young man did often, question the words of his master but right now the lad could not fathom the peace between the kingdoms being broken so soon. More so, Earl did not want to see any sort of war break out. "Surely this cannot be true?"


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 Post subject: Re: Scarborough Fair
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2015 8:03 pm 

The Blood Trials have officially begun.

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Harold the Archivist


Harold saw the boy struggling with his memories and he give him a reassuring hug from the side with one arm. He didn't want to disturb his work of cutting up bread and meat for them to share as breakfast. He knew that the boy had a rough life, and he wondered sometimes if perhaps he did a good enough job at keeping those memories at bay. He had always encouraged Earl to come to terms with their deaths, but he never seemed to be able to always insisting on seeking out vengeance. He didn't want the boy to completely forget his roots. They were as much a part of him as his training here in the archives was, or his hair color. To forget his past which formed him into who he stood in front of him as today was criminal. And Harold knew if none of it had happened, he'd be sitting here a lonely old man with no one.

The old man reached up in his thoughts and touched a set of rings he always wore around his neck. A small golden band, another the same size with a small diamond, and a larger one that matched the gold band rested on his finger. It brought some comfort to him to hold onto them. And it was part of the reason why he kept trying to convince Earl to find someone he loved and settle. The love of a woman could change a man and change his intentions too. Harold thought perhaps if he could find the kind of love that he and his late wife Millie had shared, then he wouldn't hurt so badly from wounds that Harold wasn't able to heal.

He let a slight smile tug at his lips as he looked up at the young man's face and changed subject to a less tense and worrisome one. "Do you remember Millie?" He asked him unsure if he was too small to remember. Harold had still been married to his late wife when he'd taken little Earl in. She'd loved him just as dearly as the old man did. And they'd both seen Earl as a blessing for they weren't able to have children of their own. She would've made a natural mother. She used to check on Earl at all hours of the night and would sit with him pulled into her lap and rock him as a child. "She loved you so much." He said. He often thought of her when he got stressed and it seemed she'd been on his mind a lot lately. It was evidenced in how he would talk, the picture of the lovely woman he held on his desk, and how he would hold the rings around his neck every so often. She'd taken ill and died around a half a year after they'd gotten Earl.

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