Tearing the request from the notice board, Castus read the slip of paper. ‘Seven hells,’ he cursed as he pocketed it. ‘And here I was thinking that they’d created the Council for exactly these kinds of situations.’ He quickly headed back to the inn he was staying at. He entered, mumbling a greeting to the innkeeper as he stormed the stairs two steps at a time. In his room, he sat down on the ragged bed and began preparing by selecting weapons and strapping on his armour. Finally, he knelt down at the footlocker at the end of the bed, opening the lock and fishing out a small pendant, hanging around his neck.  A little bit of protection could never hurt. Leaving his room as quickly as he’d entered. Nodding a goodbye on his way out, he hurried into the streets and towards the circus area.

Castus wasn’t sure what to expect. The request hadn’t been overly specific and only stated that the Circus had turned out to be a scam. However, given the fact that a lot of the performers had been magi, Castus expected this to turn into a mage fight. Not a bad thing per se but it could turn nasty really quickly, especially if he were to end up fighting the entire Circus. The pay was good however, so there was no room for doubt in Castus’ mind as he reached his destination ten minutes later. Entering the Circus grounds, he slowed down, drawing Gram and lowering himself into a crouch. The tents were still standing but the place seemed eerily quiet. No people, no sounds, no music. He entered the large tent in the centre and pushed the tent flap aside, sword at the ready.

The tent wasn’t filled with any sorts of attractions this time. Instead, an enormous amount of stolen items crowded the centre of the space. The items were varying from books, daggers, clothing, jewellery and even small pieces of scenery. It was going to end up being quite tricky to actually return all these to their rightful owners. But luckily that wasn’t his job.

As Castus turned around, something hit him in the back of the head, making him stagger forwards, almost losing his balance. As he brought up his weapon to face his attacker, he paused for a moment. Rather than mages or even humans, he was facing a trio of monkeys.  ‘What the bloody…’ Castus muttered as he began to close in. The monkeys were screeching softly at him, backing away from the mercenary. One of them curled its tail briefly and the air suddenly turned static before a bolt of lightning struck down from above, missing Castus by a hair’s breadth, scorching the ground and sending up a stream of smoke.  In retaliation, Castus charged the nearest opponent, his broadsword flashing as he brought it down. The monkey managed to dodge the first attack, jumping out of the way gracefully before sending down a bolt of lightning as well. This time, it hit Castus on the right shoulder, stunning him briefly and cracking his armour.

The smell of burnt flesh filled his nostrils and Castus roared as he renewed his charge. This time, his feint caught the monkey that had just hit him by surprise and he managed to drive his blade into it squarely. The animal shrieked before a ball of lightning caught Castus in the chest, making him reel but he kept a strong grip on his weapon. The sword flashed again this time, piercing monkey’s throat, sending blood squirting across the blade and his hands. As he retracted the blade, two more bolts of lightning scorched past his cheek, singeing his beard. Castus reached out with his off-hand and clenched his fist. A full circle of swords appeared around the next monkey, surrounding it before shooting down into it, pinning it in place temporarily. Though the swords disappeared as quickly as they’d been summoned, the brief moment was enough for Castus to close the distance, laying into his enemy with a series of vicious sword strikes. It died just like the first, leaving only the third monkey for Castus to deal with.

 

It roared, a loud, thunderous roar as it outstretched one of its hands, sending out a vortex of pure energy, drawing Castus in as coils of lightning ripped through the air around him, lashing his arms and face. Turning to face his enemy properly, Castus advanced slowly, arms raised to protect his head as he weathered the incoming storm of lightning strikes. Every step was laborious but got him closer in range. He cursed himself for not having a proper ranged weapon before pausing briefly. He lifted his sword above his head and took a single step forwards before flung the sword in an overhead throw towards the monkey. The weapon tumbled lazily through the air, before impaling itself deep into the final monkey. It staggered, swaying left and right before crashing down to the floor. Castus sank to his knees, breathing out heavily before                 pushing himself back onto his feet to recover his weapon. ‘Better make sure I’ve got them all before finding someone, or something to take this all with me. ‘

After he stepped outside, another three monkeys jumped at him from the shadows, casting their lightning orbs at him in unison, powerful balls of energy scorching the air and ground around him before one struck his chest. The attacked coursed through his body, causing brief spasms in his arms and legs as he was electrocuted for a brief moment. ‘I’ve about had it with you,’ Castus growled as he summoned the Aegis, bringing up the shield to cover much of his face. A jarring impact struck the embossed shield almost immediately as thunderbolts crackled through the air. Using his shield as cover, Castus began to advance on his opponents. He twirled his blade in his right hand, readying it as he was within striking distance of the first. He lashed out; a quick blow to the legs that the monkey easily evaded before following up with a reverse stroke to the chest that the monkey also evaded but this time with more difficult.  He ended with a quick stab that was unexpected enough to catch the monkey on its arm. It screamed at him in anger before calling down a storm of thunder from above.

Castus raised his shield above his head as he tried to keep advancing, occasionally jabbing at the monkey before him in a careful, tentative way. He didn’t want to overextend himself in such a perilous situation. The thunderstorm had him on the back foot for now. He clenched his left fist again, this time attempting to skewer the monkey summoning the thunder with his sword spell. Although the enemy managed to jump up and out of the way of the many swords, the attack was enough to temporarily break the spell, allowing Castus to lower his shield and charging in, catching the monkey on his blade. ‘Two left,’ he said, spitting upon the ground as he turned to the others, side-stepping a bolt of lightning aimed at his head. He was getting into the fight now and he could feel the adrenaline coursing through his body. With only two opponents left, he was feeling confident. Gram had reaped a bloody toll this day already. Lowering his weapon in a taunting, open posture, he paused and waited for his opponent to make the first move, eyeing both monkeys, watching for their first attack. Without much warning, they began sending out more bolts of lightning. Being prepared, Castus caught the first squarely on his shield, turning the other one on the flat of his blade. Even under this barrage of fire, he managed to close in, bringing himself within striking distance of both monkeys. Gram flashed in the light of the moon before splattering gore across the ground with a rending noise. The monkey collapsed flat on its face, throat slit from side to side. Left with only a single enemy, Castus reversed the blade and batted aside another ball of energy, dissipating it in a violent burst of lightning. Another step took him close enough and he smashed into the monkey with his shield first, stunning it before running it through with his blade.

 As it collapsed, Castus cleaned the weapon briefly, panting. ‘That should be all,’ he said to himself, peering around. ‘Good, he nodded,’ now let’s see if we can’t return all these goods. An idea suddenly hit him and he headed back into the tent. Castus spent the next twenty minutes storing the stolen goods in his own pocket dimension. He eventually managed to hold everything this way and quickly made to leave the Circus grounds. Encountering no more resistance, he first headed to his inn, gathering the most important of his belongings before embarking on a quick trip to Crocus.

Arriving a couple of days later, he immediately made way to the palace, request in one hand, and reins of his horse in the other. As he marched the many steps of the entrance, he handed off his steed to a stable boy before showing the request to a palace guard that challenged him as he was about to enter the palace proper. Several sets of doors swung open as the mercenary quickly made his way through the ornate antechambers, boots crunching softly on the velvet carpets. As he finally entered the throne room, he marched up to the throne before the court marshal could even announce him properly.

‘Your royal highness,’ he began, briefly sinking to a knee before rising. ‘I have here in one hand the request that called for the retrieval of the goods stolen by the Ringtail Circus.’ He held up the sheaf of paper before rolling it up deftly and tucking it into his belt. ‘Furthermore, I have here said stolen goods.’ A murmur went through the crowd briefly as Castus outstretched his arms before clapping. A stream of goods began dropping onto the floor of the throne room in front of the royal court. Medallions, books and other valuable items he had managed to cram into his own magical pocket dimension. Another murmur spread followed by muffled laughter. ‘And thus per this contract, I have come to claim my due reward.’ A sly smile played across Castus’ face as he could see the surprise of the people around him. Surely this tiny display of both casual arrogance and competence would be enough to spread the word. After all, he was always looking for more interesting work.

Several hours later, he left the palace his money pouch much heavier than before. Retrieving his horse, he began the trek back to Magnolia as he still had some unfinished business. In addition to rewarding him, the Fiore royalty had offered him a new contract. He was officially cleared to go after the Circus’ leader to bring him to justice. Such a job suited Castus just perfectly. After all, what would be a more spectacular than bringing in the most bespoken criminal in Fiore at the moment? Or bring his head, if it had to come to that. Upon arriving in Magnolia, he returned to the inn he had been staying at. He’d paid in advance so most of his gear was still stored there.  He began preparations again, just he like had had several days before. Although time was an important factor here, being ready was an even bigger priority and so Castus took his time to sit down and check every piece of equipment he might be forced to call upon during his next fight. He made sure to oil his swords, sharpen his daggers and fix the small dents and breakages in his armour. Although he was no smith, years of practice had made him adept at maintaining his own equipment. Only when he felt he was fully ready after having both inspected his equipment and renewed the runes of warding inscribed on his armour, he proceeded to leave the room and head for his next, big confrontation.

[2022]


Name: Gram
Rank: 
B
Mana: 
80/20
Class:
  Offensive (piercing/slashing)

Element(s):  Earth
Description: 
A large, sturdy broadsword forged for an ancient warrior to vanquish his foes to avenge his fallen kin. It’s blade it roughly eighty centimeters long with a cross-shaped guard and unadorned pommel.

Specifics:
Damage: 
12 + physical attack
Distance: 10 meters
Speed: 
5 meters per second

Cooldown: 4 posts
Duration: 
Sustained


Name: The Aegis  

Rank: D

Mana: 30 / 3 sustained

Class: Defensive (shield)

Element(s): Air

Description: A round shield about half a meter in diameter. Embossed upon the shield is the head of a leering monster, made to instil fear into whoever gazes upon it. 

Specifics:

  • Durability3
  • Distance: personal
  • Speed: 1 m/s

Cooldown: 1

Duration: Sustained