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No title.
(2013-07-31 - 2013-07-31)
No description.
Artemis Eurus The New Zodiac Braves, sometimes affectionately called the Heretics, were on the march. Hunted as they are, they have taken up quite the nomadic lifestyle--which really? Didn't actually help their case much. Traveling folk seemed to be almost universally mistrusted, which to Artemis seemed a fairly ridiculous state of affairs. It was what it was however, and they had to keep moving. Staying in place too long would call the attention of the Church down on them. Sometimes, they would seek that attention, but being a much smaller force they had to try to be careful to make sure it was on their terms.

They have a few wagons now, which has improved their standard of living some at least. They are able to carry more than each person can fit on their back. It makes then a bit slower, a bit more conspicuous, but so far it had been worth it.

Artemis is walking near the front of the company. There were chocobos to ride, but Artemis preferred her own legs. She is dressed in casual clothing, leather pants and a long green tunic belted at the waist. Her hair is left loose, the flaxen strands stirred by the breeze. It had been a peaceful day thus far--ought to know what that means.

Artemis cocks her head toward a sound that was carried on the wind, causing her eyes to narrow. The sounds of a struggle. "Tch," she says, then turns to look toward the others, "Hear that?"

If they pick up the pace, they will soon find another wagon with a lone driver--being assaulted by Heartless! The squat old man is trying to defend himself with a wooden plank, but he is most certainly in trouble.
Blivon The church was not so foolish as to think it would ever receive a free lunch, and it didn't assume that The Heretics often made blunders, considering that Ramza was a Beoulve with a mind for tactics, but that didn't mean they'd always pass up an opportunity when the Zodiacs threw a piece of bait in front of them, which was essentially what having circumstances 'on their terms' was all about; Blivon was never placed in charge of plotting, because he refused to be deceptive, even when in the face of trying to thwart evil, but could he be partial to a scheme that someone /else/ had concocted, which might've involved a little trickery? You better believe it!

Thus, not quite an official member of the Braves, was this shaman, but he was welcome enough that he would rendezvous with them on and off, occasionally parting company or joining up when their interests coincided- he was what you might've referred to as a 'free agent'.... And the irony was, he was free in every sense of the word, for he didn't accept any payment, even for his own amenities, the druid took it upon himself to procure his own supplies from the woods, with the exception of sampling Artemis' fine teas, now and again; even so, he'd reimburse by cleaning up. Today, the rune-covered guardian wasn't accompanied by any of his animal cohorts, save one; his skunk. Suffice to say, most of the company gave him a wide berth, for fear of triggering an attack by issuing, in accident, a movement construable as threatening, that would result in having to despise the physicality of their own bodies, to which the molecules of rancid-scented chemicals would adhere, given half a chance!

When the echoes of foul play reach Blivon's ears, he promptly places his helmet atop his head, and brings his shield from across his back, not waiting for anyone to give a formal war-cry before taking initiative. Immediately, the abnormally tall male moves forward, casting a spell of 'Blink' on the reaper's imminent prey, who was well into his years already, hoping that it would help him evade the assaults of the Heartless a lot more efficiently!
Ramza Beoulve While most had accepted their role as heretics, Ramza didn't consider himself one. He was of dissenting opinion certainly. Except in his case opinion was fact, insomuch as he had proof. He'd named the New Zodiac Braves originally as a sort of tongue-in-cheek reference but over time it came to be more meaningful. If the original Zodiac Braves were false, then perhaps someone truly ought to try and live up to what they were meant to be in spirit. As for the distrust? Well Ramza was used to it. He was pretty good at charming his way past that and most of the time he didn't even seem to realize he was doing it. He considered himself diplomatic, not charismatic.

While in the caravan, he rode alongside on the back of his ever faithful Chocobo Boco. Artemis preferred it when he didn't ride as it made him less of a target, but that was hardly fair to Boco, so every now and then he acquiesced to the nagging bird.

When Artemis calls attention to the Heartless, it doesn't take him overly long to assess the situation.

BGM Change:

There were no battle cries from him, merely orders in a calm voice, "Watch the flanks and the rear for the heartless attack. I haven't discounted the possibility of this being a trap from the Church, they've done this before." Artemis and Blivon were already advancing, and they along with him would be enough. The rest could guard the supply train. He spurred Boco forward at an easy gallop, drawing his cinqueda from it's scabbard. He hooked that same hand upon the reins, while raising the other. His magic wasn't the most formidable, but it'd at least give him a good oppurtunity for a first strike once he got close enough.
Artemis Eurus The old man driving the wagon had never been so happy to see heretics. Not that he had any idea what he was looking at, or particularly cared. All he cared about was that some people had shown up to save his butt for a very unfortunate death.

Artemis nods to Ramza, indeed advancing after Blivon, wasting no seconds before she darts forward with all the speed and power of an arrow loosed from the famed English longbow. Her katana is drawn from the sheath in a flash of steel, slicing through one of the armored soldier Heartless. The blade slices through the shadowed body of the creature like parting a silk curtain.

One movement flows into another seamlessly, a dance of beautiful destruction. She executes a turn, aiming a quick horizontal slash to the next creature's yellow glowing eyes before she raises her sword and brings it down hard, the blade lighting with a momentary blast of flame. Two down. The samurai moves then to cover the old man, guarding him from further attack as her companions move in to wreak some havoc.
Blivon Ramza was well familiarized with the ruses that the Church had cooked up in a lot of past instances, and probably officially trained in certain war-tactics regarding how to avoid being beguiled by an initial sign of trouble. As an ex-priest who had almost ascended to bishop-hood, Blivon had an inkling of how dishonest Glabados was, so perhaps between the two of them, any templars' plans that were afoot would not get the better of them. This was not to discount Arte's experience in the battlefield, which may have also been substantial; overall, there were no imbeciles leading the charge, save for the bi-chromatic mammalian who was galloping alongside her master, but proportionately speaking, even the druid's pet skunk was smart for her race, so truly, they had a lot going for them.

They also had a lot going against them; a horde of Heartless who would soon be anything but content to pick on the old geezer. Blivon would personally prefer that they leave him alone, and let the bacteria in the dirt have a banquet after his heart eventually stopped, in a natural way; these insidious, black blots of evil were too selfish to grant anyone a normal death at the hands of those thingies that they evolved from some billion years or so ago, so the shaman would just have to try and advocate for his microscopic-underdog-brethren! "Readin' ya loud and clear... or at least loud, Mister Beoulve!" The sound did resonate through Blivon's helmet, but that didn't mean the message wasn't modified in translation, along the way, courtesy of the metal filtering system adorned.

The spiritual warrior-priest tries to intercede on the elder's behalf, using his shield to deflect some of the Heartless' onslaught.... but oddly enough, he hasn't yet issued a single blow to anything in a genuinely violent manner. In defiance of the fact that he wasn't slaying Heartless, his monumental vigor would allow him to repel incoming strikes for hours on end, so he didn't mind deterrent methodology that employed deflection, over that of destruction. The skunk commences biting the dark-skinned creatures, which is savage in its own way..... and she actually does a better job reducing numbers than her owner, however, recognizing that Ramza and Arte are dishing out damage, Blivon releases a 'Haste' spell on Arte, to start with, and has another in tow, already, for Ramza!
Ramza Beoulve Ramza, despite being mounted, was slightly behind, given that he spent time giving his orders at the caravan. And while Boco was quick, well...Artemis could be something else sometimes. She was already slashing into the Heartless while he was still a good twenty yards or so from the old man's wagon.

Blivon's haste spell infuses him and his mount with some measure of swiftness, to which he gives the man a grateful gesture, but right now he was concentrating. He had an excellent grasp of magic, despite it not being the most powerful, and his spells rarely caused collateral damage. Raising his free hand, he spoke a simple incantation well known to most in Ivalice. "Strike the ground with glistening blades!"

A moment later, lightning arced from the heavens through two of the matte black creatures, who wavered almost like static on a television screen as their inky forms spasmed before collapsing. Momentarily forming a puddle akin to liquid shadow, before fading away altogether. By that time he had actually reached the caravan, sweeping a downward thrust into another of the heartless. Mounted, a Cinqueda wasn't the most convenient blade, but his other sword would be overkill, and would cause the collateral damage that he was /not/ fond of.
Artemis Eurus Artemis flashes Blivon a smile as she feels the spell wash over her, feeling a giddy energy run through her veins that makes her even quicker than normal--which is to say, pretty goddamn fast.

When Ramza arrives, Artemis is bringing her katana up in a slash, followed by a turn as she ducks down to lower her stance in order to execute a beheading attack. The Heartless she strikes melts and disappears just as the others do. The three make very quick work of them.

The last of the Heartless is suddenly surrounded in a glowing blue energy as Artemis reaches a hand outward and closes her fist, lifting the creature with telekinetic power to smash it hard into a nearby tree, dissolving it with quick and efficient violence.

Perhaps needless to say, the old man is staring at the three of them with wide eyes, mouth open. He's shaking from his encounter, and seems to be considering turning and running from /them/ for a moment before he tells his instincts to simmer down and takes a deep breath. "Th-thank you! I thought I was done for. That was--how did you--buuuh....." the old man shakes her head, taking another breath. "How can I repay you folks? My daughter said I shouldn't travel alone. Guess I'll get to tell her she was right, thanks to you."
Blivon There was something to be said for the shaman-tank's considerable strength. Ramza and Artemis might've seen tidbits of it intermittently, but had yet to see anything truly magnificent. Heartless came in varied shapes and sizes, and so a Large Bodied Heartless waded through the masses of other smaller ones who had been swarming all over the place; they didn't number in the hundreds, but this was something that was definitely suited to Blivon- and so he'd get to work. The Large Body charged, hoping to overturn the wagon, and when factoring in the abomination's magnitude, this was not an unrealistic ambition. Nevertheless, Blivon was there to intercept the assault, and when the gargantuan monster lunged forward, the druid placed his shield before himself, and pushed forward as though doing a bench-press at high velocity; his immense size and even more unbelievable strength was enough to propel the Heartless backwards even when accounting for its momentum, but Blivon's heels dug into the ground, causing him to generate skid-marks because the ground itself decided to yield a little in the wake of the event.

The gigas Heartless was not slain by the attack, but definitely stunned, and found itself spasming as it lie on the ground- which conveniently would've made it a helpless target for anyone with a long-ranged attack. No... the likes of this maneuver weren't on par with the maximum capacity of that which Worker Eight was capable, but it was nothing to scoff at, either! Human potential sometimes showed how truly unbridled it could be, but the gentle-giant seemed content only to forestall, and not kill.....

No matter, his attempts to stymie weren't perfect, and because of the might behind his blows, the next Heartless he smacks with his defensive item expires simply because the impact is so great. Blivon wasn't exactly holding back, but he was making a conscious effort not to go on a rampage and lose his temper, because that would be unseemly for a man of the cloth! Though.... by the time he was just starting to get into the swing of things, and his adrenaline was going, their numbers dwindled, thanks to the two blade-users, who were doing a much more effective job at destroying them. Presumably, the goliath Heartless that was on the ground either ended up the victim of Arte(who was doing hulk-smash via telekinesis), Ramza, or the skunk.... because Blivon, following the conclusion of the fight, or the virtual conclusion, begins to scan around promptly, trying to assure there are no other usurpers abound!
Ramza Beoulve Ramza doesn't even approach the last of the heartless. Artemis had it handled. She'd probably feel /insulted/ if he tried to take the killshot from just a few weak heartless. Ramza just offers the man an affable smile, as he offers his gratitude once the last of the heartless had fallen. "Your gratitude is more than enough, Ser. Truly. And your daughter has the right of it I think. You truly shouldn't travel alone in these times."

And then he offers to Artemis with a smile that was slightly warmer, "Artistically done, as always."

Blivon's strange shamanistic powers. It was the first time he'd witnessed them, and it seemed to have exactly the desired effect. "Well-fought, Ser."

A short pause, before he looks to the formerly beleaguered older gentleman, "Do you require any aid in returning to your homestead?"
Artemis Eurus The man reaches up to scratch the back of his head, looking around a moment. "Aye, maybe so. I expect brigands perhaps, but I can't see them running off with /my/ cargo. I certainly didn't expect--" he pauses, frowning deeply. "What were those things?"

Artemis glances toward Ramza and tilts her head to him in acknowledgment, flashing him a quick smile before she looks back to the old man. It seemed strange to her that anyone would not know the heartless, but no everyone lived a life like theirs. "Heartless. Creatures of darkness. Be very wary of them," she cautions. "We could certainly escort you back to your homestead. It would be no trouble, seeing that we are headed in the same direction."

Artemis looks toward the wagon then, an eyebrow rising beneath the smooth material of her mask. "What /is/ your cargo if you do not mind my asking?"

The old man grins, then moves around to the back of the wagon to move aside the canvas. Inside, are two--bathtubs? Porcelain, polished, and quite lovely. "See why I was not worried about brigands running off with my merchandise?" he asks with a smile.

Artemis peers inside, her eyes widening. "That wouldn't have stopped them from killing you and just taking your whole wagon..." she comments.

The old man blinks, his mouth opening to offer some resistance, before he evidently understands her point. "....Ah."

Artemis turns then and sets her sights on Ramza, tilting her head slightly as she speaks. "Ramza, I want a bathtub."
Ramza Beoulve Ramza had a literal anime-style sweatdrop and blue wavy lines over his expression as Artemis declares her desire for a bathtub. He looks at her, then looks at the older gentleman, then looks at the coinpurse at his side. Then at the wagons behind them.

It was like he was trying to measure many things at once. The response of the others with them. The cost(No he was not going to accept the old man giving it to him as gratitude), whether they had room to take it with them at all times. Finally he asked in a slightly terse, but still affable voice, "Well I suppose a small amount of luxury won't hurt. What's your asking price at the market?"

Boco craned his head around to look at Ramza, and Ramza stated to the bird, "What?"

The Chocobo actually let out something that sounded akin to a snuffling snicker, followed by a /kweh/. "Oh don't give me that." Another /kweh/. Ramza just glowered at the fowl mount.
Blivon Blivon didn't actually need to use his arcane energy to carry out that repulsion which bounced the gargantuan Heartless flat onto its back, but there is something at work that has a little mystique to it; his hyper-narcolepsy. So before he can really appreciate Ramza's flattery, even as generous as it is, for somnolence overtakes him as he had been peering under and around random objects, including the wagon itself. When he suddenly flops onto the ground, it may appear as though he fainted, but it couldn't've been from blood-loss, considering that he sustained no injury!.... or scratches, at most.

Maybe fatigue?

Artemis might have remembered that even in their youth, the druid, who at that time was not a shaman, had these episodes, but the Beoulve might be a little astonished at his sudden onset of a comatose state. He doesn't snore, but his thoracic region rises and falls gently, implying that he's not suffering, because the flow is rhythmic, and quite organic in appearance.... not fragmented, or wooden. His fearless companion, the skunk who has yet to be named, is prompted by this event to jump atop his body and perform the duties of lookout, until he stirs....
Artemis Eurus Meanwhile. Blivon seems to have...fallen asleep? Artemis shrugs. "That happens," she comments to Ramza.

When he agrees to get a tub, Artemis grins. She knew he'd give in. "With the wagons, we can certainly keep it," she adds in her defense.

The merchant blinks, looking between Artemis and Ramza. "You...want one of them? Er, asking price? I'd say, uh...<insert reasonable amount for a bathtub here> but I will give you a discount in thanks for your services!" he replies, glancing then toward the sleeping Blivon. Well, okaaaaay...

A few hours later, the Braves have escorted the man to his homestead and they have set up camp. Artemis is, of course, currently relaxing in the new bathtub. She'd actually carried it out to a nice private location, filled it, warmed it with a bit of magic, then climbed right on in. Ramza had been invited to join her. "See? This was an excellent idea," she says as a squirrel runs by, gives her a perplexed look, then scurries up a tree.
Ramza Beoulve More anime style sweatdrops as Blivon falls asleep. "Does that happen.. often?" He tries not to let too much worry creep into his tone at that. Protecting a man who fell asleep mid battle might offer some distinct difficulties.

And then the man offers him a price. And he counts out the coins one by one.. "Reasonable.."

/Hours later/

"I never said it wasn't, though some of the others may start to talk..." He climbs in the tub across from her. "I mean.. it isn't as if we bought it for the entire company, to partake in, or did we?" He gives her a teasing look as he states that, allowing himself to sink into the warmer waters.
Artemis Eurus Artemis waves a hand dismissively, rolling her eyes. "Of course we shall let the whole company use it--but as the leader of the Braves it is your right to use it first--and as your bodyguard, /naturally/ I must be with you while you bath. It is when you are most vulnerable," she replies, cracking a coy smile toward the end of her speech.

As he wiggles his way in she arranges her feet around him to give him adequate room. "Besides, they are already talking--if you are referring to gossip about us you could end it quite quickly you know. You simply need inform then that yes, we are lovers, and make no secret of it. They will then tire of it," she informs, as someone with practical experience.
Ramza Beoulve "Well if it is available to all then I doubt they will have any objections." He just laughs, and shakes his head at the rest of it.

And then he smiles at her warmly languishing within the waters, "I don't think I need to say anything. They already know. I don't kiss and tell, they can leave the details to their imagination if it pleases them."
Artemis Eurus Artemis laughs, giving him a gentle nudge with her foot. "I have been quite open about it, I hope you do not mind. I see no reason not to be," she offers with a shrug before sinking down into the water a bit more, looking up at the trees above, dappled sunshine reflecting off the surface of the bathwater. It is an extremely lovely moment.

"Ah...that's right. I have something for you," she seems to remember, straightening and reaching toward her things, which are right beside the tub in case she needed to have her sword in hand quickly. She's really quite serious about staying armed when you bathe or go to the privy. "Close your eyes," she instructs.
Ramza Beoulve Ramza gets nudged, and he nudges back with his foot, chuckling, "I said that /I/ don't. I don't mind if you're open about it." He looks up briefly as the rays of sunshine flow through the trees and into their little slice of porcelain paradise.

And then she states she has something for him, and he gives her a look of consternation, "Do you? I've got nothing to gift you with in return, given that this bathtub was a communal you have me at a disadvantage." But even though he's a little chagrined at the fact that he has no return gift, he does in fact close his eyes, awaiting the gift. "Alright..."
Artemis Eurus It takes Artemis a moment to sort through her things and find the intended object. The sounds of her searching would imply that it is a small thing, or she'd have found it quite easily.

While his eyes are closed, Artemis pulls the object out of the box and holds it up, letting the sun reflect off of it for a moment as she studies at, a small almost nervous smile appearing. Tch. What a fool he's turned her into!

Artemis would then take Ramza by the hand and quickly shove something onto his finger.

"Open," she instructs, sitting back then to study him as he opened his eyes and discovered the ring on his finger. It is a solid band on jade. The color is a nearly perfect match to the waters by Zhou in the Wuyi mountains. The place where she told him she loved him. The place they mean to retire if they survive. "A....reminder," she comments quietly.
Ramza Beoulve Ramza doesn't move, doesn't open his eyes, even as he feels something being jammed on his finger. Not until she actually says for him to open them. And then he opens his eyes, and lifts his hand, and looks at the band of jade on his finger. He observes it for a while, even turning his hand to see the opposite side. Then he slides it off and looks at the inner band once before sliding it back on.

And then he looks back at her, and smiling warmly states "As if I needed a reminder...." He murmurs it, before leaning in to kiss her on the lips, his arms moving around her in embrace, before finally moving away just slightly, to keep his forehead against hers, " could I ever forget that? I'm just going to have to find some gift for you that's just as worthy."
Artemis Eurus Artemis watches him intently, hoping that he will actually understand the significance. There was always a chance he'd just be oblivious. Ah, but he does not disappoint. Artemis smiles, leaning into his touch with a small sigh of what could be relief. Give a man a ring and he may just freak the hell out. Ramza understands. " do not have to get me anything. I saw it, and the color reminded me so of the water..." she explains, shrugging her bare shoulders lightly as she leans her forehead against his, reaching up to wind her arms around him.

She kisses him then, gentle, warm, teasing. "Now don't you expect to get me in a dress and in a bloody church Ramza," she says with a smirk.
Ramza Beoulve He considers that for a moment, before teasing back, "I was thinking a hillside instead. No church. But alas, you've already headed those dreams off at the pass."

And then he returns the kiss once again.

This scene contained 22 poses. The players who were present were: Ramza Beoulve, Artemis Eurus, Blivon