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Forums > Fantasy Roleplay Forum > For the Crown of Laurels (closed)

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In the land of Obelus, the vast forests of Urdu, or Ivory as it is known to outsiders, have begun to crumble. Its leaves and grass wither, its flowers wilt, its blackened as if burned and singed. For centuries, the great Shrine of Mystalion gave the forest life through the conferred power bestowed upon the elven king and the king alone. It had been many millennia since the last time an elven king has left its kingdom so suddenly as this. King Jhahardis Navishiéne, high King of the fourteen elven clans, was a great and powerful elf, generally well-respected and effective. The elven kingdom mourned at the fall of their king, but with his seven children all having died in the ongoing war against their mortal enemy, the Orcs, he was left with no heir, and none could now channel the Shrine's blessing of the forest life without the title of King or Queen.

The King's advisors, the High Council, ran the kingdom in the meantime to the best of their ability. But even in effectively ruling, the Council was not able to confer the power of the Shrine, and the forests of Urdu began to die. The source of life for their forest, their whole lives are at stake. Crops are failing; the animals harsher and less plentiful. Some even say that without the Shrine's blessing, the land itself was cursed.

A new ruler needed to be chosen. And soon. Thus the trials for the Crown of Laurels were instated. Far and wide, the word has spread throughout the entire kingdom and forest, reaching every elf that the Crown shall be claimed by the victor, someone who embodies the elven ideal well. Someone with great prowess in battle, a strong will, a sharp wit, a courageous heart, and a mastery of the arcane. Those who sought the title and power were instructed to gather in the capital settlement Haramon.

The city boasted beautiful spires that rose high with the tree line, and the most bustling of trade. It was market day, twice every moon cycle, but today the city seemed to buzz with even more excitement and activity than usual. The preliminary initiation and the commencement of the trials for the Crown. Out of those who had registered, twenty candidates were chosen to present themselves before the Council for instruction as a group.

The Council's chamber was a vast circular room where the subject if scrutiny would stand in the center of the room, to be judged by those high-stature elves who were seated amm around them. Across from the entrance of the chamber sat a beautifully ornate throne, a cascade of fused gemstones and precious metals fueling over its frame like vines. It had once been the King's place over his kingdom. But for now, it was the Council that held the power and authority of the kingdom. A younger noble upon this council, an elf with long and fiery red hair, stood from his seat as the group filed in. His smile was warm, and he opened his hands with a welcoming gesture.

"Greetings to all, my friends and fellow elves," he began with a sonorous voice. "The very fact that you are here today proves that each one of you is willing to step up when the kingdom lies in dire need, and it is for this that we thank you." He paused, like any seasoned orator, to allow his words to sink in. "Our forests are dying, and should another worthy ruler not be appointed with haste, it could destroy the way of life in this forest, not of just ourselves as a powerful race but to every other species as well that calls Urdu their home."

When word, whispered from mouth to mouth, posted on pamphlets and tossed over long distance through spell and song, reached the high mountainous tribe of Talayna's home, she knew immediately she would answer. Her past had, as so many beings' did, left its mark upon her soul, changing her for better... or worse. Though she had returned to her tribe, learning the ways of wind and sky, of storm and gale, as such was her affinity, she could no longer feel at home with her family. Theirs was a secluded, peaceful existence cloistered away upon high plateaus where they could weave their stories and magic with the fabric of the sky and the thread of the winds and rain. They cared not for the machinations of other beings, and little even for the other elves, their own kind, that wiled away their lives below the mountain. Not often did they leave, nor did they need to for everything they had need of was provided by magic, by the crafting of their hands, or the fruits of the forest that clothed the base of their mountain.

Nearly all of them were related in one way or another, and each elder took on the responsibility of tutoring the young, passing on the age old wisdoms of elf-kind. Talayna had missed out on many years of this, having been snatched at a young age by the sorcery of the Orcs and her will caged within the form of a hawk to serve them in their battle against her own people.

When escape was won, and she returned to her people, Talayna tried to fit herself back among them, learning their magic and stories, songs and rites. Yet always she stood aloof. They looked at her differently now, as if she had been tainted by something beyond her control. The war had come to them, and yet still, they preferred to turn their faces, for they were nearly as impassive as the mountain stone upon which they lived. But she would answer. For this was what she had been waiting for, a chance to regain control, and to wreak vengeance upon those who'd take much from her.

Talayna stood, dressed in a soft thigh length tunic of light blue, dark grey leggings beneath and soft soled boots lacing up over the leggings and around her calves. A soft leather pack was tucked over one shoulder, her hand gripping its strap as her clear amber eyes studied the councilman as he spoke. Her vibrant red gold hair was twisted back in a braid which hung over one shoulder, and a strand of golden rope was twined like a vine around her brow, holding back bits of stray hair. A few reddish brown feathers could be seen poking from her braid and hanging by her tapered ears. Her lips were a pale pink, and for the moment, the were pursed in concentration, for she did not want to miss the words spoken.

Her gaze had already travelled around the group gathered, picking out each contestant and scrutinizing them to glean what she could from their appearances.

Corym had no love for the council and its meddling ways. It was their judgement, approved by the late king himself, that had driven him away from his home without so much as the chance to tell his family goodbye. In his exile he had cursed their very existence day and night as he toiled to complete his life's work. So when the news of king Jhahardis' passing reached him in the out lands he had been forced to inhabit, a small part of him was happy. Now he could finally return home, and things could go back to how they were.

Or so he had thought. Upon his return, he found his family homestead a shell of its former glory, the crops and trees in pitiful shape, or already withered beyond saving. Battles still raged on at the borders of the forest as their Orcish foes still sought to overtake them. And worst of all, no suitor had been found. Instead, the council was spending their time holding a competition with the intent to select a new ruler from the contestants.

It was bad enough that his banishment had disgraced his family, but to find his homeland and his people on the brink of losing their very way of life was more than he could tolerate. So Corym gathered his things, and marched straight to the capital to get to the bottom of things. If a king was what shrine needed to be used, then Corym would take part in their inane little trial, and he intended to succeed.

He was little concerned about the others who had gathered there for the trials. As far as he could tell, they were not much different than him, barring whatever personal vendettas or starry eyed ideals they were chasing. Instead, his gaze bored into the council member who had made the opening speech, as if daring them to acknowledge his presence.

Liam Haleri stood amongst the contestants for the Trials, listening to the Councilman's words. He was reluctant to be there, and had only registered at the behest of his father. Rhett Haleri had always exhibited a domineering presence, and had tried to impress upon his son that winning these trials was up the utmost importance for the family. The young nobleman sighed. He told his father he would enter, and here he was among those chosen to compete. Lucky him.
However, despite the honor, Liam was no fool. He knew his father just wanted him on the throne so that he would be able to potentially use him as a puppet ruler. He needed to find a way to make sure that did not happen. The last thing the dying forests needed was one Rhett Haleri in charge. In that moment, he resolved that if he did end up winning, he would be sure to prevent his father from grabbing the reins of power.

Liam was tall, around 6'3", with light, sandy brown hair and clear, almond-brown eyes. He was lithe, yet muscular, seemingly possessing a graceful strength like that of a jungle cat. He wore a loose-fitting, black, mail-reinforced hooded tunic, black pants, and black boots. In addition, he had both a large Claymore and an elegant yew longbow slung across his back, along with a brown leather quiver full of arrows fletched with swan feathers. He also wore a ring on the middle finger of his right hand depicting a large bear surrounded by woven laurels - the Haleri coat of Arms. It wasn't a signet ring, but a ring that his father had given him five years previously when he had come of age denoting that he was the heir to the Haleri Family Household. Liam's father had told him that his own father had given one to him. While Liam wasn't fond of his father, it was one of the few good things his father had done for him, so he wore it. Not necessarily proudly, but he wore it nonetheless.

As he continued listening to the Councilman, he spotted a figure among the crowd of contestants who wore a brown cloak. Liam wasn't entirely sure why or how, but this figure seemed familiar to him. He wondered who they could be.

Amaranthine stands near the back of the group of hopefuls, shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot on her recently scrubbed and shined leather traveling boots. Long and surprisingly delicate fingers pick and pull at the thin pink silk robe she has worn just for this occasion. It is her nicest and most feminine bit of attire and it matches well with the little bit of jewelry she is wearing. She double checks those baubles too occasionally with a touch of her throat or a wring of her hands as if someone here might steal her meager valuables or she'll suddenly discover she never put them on considering the state of upheaval her mind and heart were in this morning as she readied herself to face the Council at last.

All the important and highly respected people standing and sitting around the edges of the chamber, staring down at them with judgement in their perfectly beautiful faces isn't helping her anxiety any either. Every so often as the speaker drones on about the importance of the forest and the difficult path ahead of them all, Amara reaches up to touch or tug on her veil. This gesture more than any other possesses the ability to comfort and calm her jumbled thoughts.

At the same time, despite her constant fidgeting with one bit of her attire then another, she is trying hard not to stand out or draw undue attention to herself. It's a rather difficult feat to accomplish seeing as at a full six feet and five inches the strawberry blond she-elf stands half a head taller than nearly all the elves in front of her. Even most of the men in the group are forced to look up at her. It makes it rather difficult to go unnoticed in a crowd of her own people. Thus, even though she reminds herself that she should stand proud knowing she made it this far in the selection process, her shoulders sag and her back hunches slightly. It isn't the most attractive posture, but it is as ingrained within her as the need to breathe.

Amaranthine doesn't need the pontificating councilman to tell her that this contest will be a great challenge. It will test every skill she has ever learned and no doubt many she unfortunately lacks. Still, hearing about this contest from that bard in the tavern created within her the closest thing to a true sense of purpose she has felt in all her years of searching. To be Queen, not to rule and to domineer, but to enact change and perhaps even bring peace to the forest, that was a goal worth taking a risk for and Amara is risking everything by being here.

The red-haired elf continued. "And that is why you are all here. Standing in this room at this very moment is our next ruler," he announced, smiling with something like a captain's determination. After a few moments he looked to another man on the council. "I will now defer to Lord Mal'luch, who also has a few words to share with you," he nodded.

"I thank you, Lord Houzin," a voice from the west side of the council room spoke, whilst Houzin was on the south side. Eyes inevitably turned to him. Mal'luch was a elf with long, pinstraight dark chestnut hair, and shared the same ivory complexion of the rest of the Council. His face was well-defined and looked like it had been sculpted from fair clay. Although he may have been easy on the eyes, his own angled, stone-colored hues had a shrewdness to them that one may find somewhat intimidating. He offered a tinge of a smile as he rose from his seat, standing tall to address the candidates.

"As you may know, the great Shrine does not bless simply anyone. With the end of His Majesty's line there is no one to take his place," Mal'luch mused, gesturing with a hand towards the grand yet empty throne, with only a painted likeness of the late King Jhadaris resting upon the cushion instead in memoriam. "Becoming a great ruler relies on prowess, but not only that. You will all be given seven tasks, the first beginning in the morrow. Each task contains its own rules which will be told and repeated at the start of each task. Your activity during this time will be evaluated, and upon completion of the final event, the Council will announce and crown our next ruler based on your performance and character." With a quiet and piercing confidence, he looked directly across the chamber. "Lord Damian will now explain the first task," he nodded to the other noble. "If you will."

Coming back, she felt, was the right thing to do. As much as the idea, and all of the familiar surroundings, felt like they were suffocating her.

She had applied to the competition beneath a false name, Xyla Kailani, which she believed to be justified. If she won, she would reveal herself and cement her own place on the throne. If she lost, nobody would ever be the wiser. But as little love she had for the elven upper social castes, she still felt the great obligation that she needed to be here. She needed to try for the people that needed her. For the kingdom itself. If there had ever been a reason that she would have returned from her self-imposed exile, here it was.

Twenty years. Not a long time for most of the elves here, but if felt so long for her. Her family was dead. She could not ignore any of it anymore. Anxiety had almost prevented her from attending this gathering, but if she missed it, she may well have just missed her chance and turned her back. The kingdom was more important than what fears she maybe still harbored about her return.

Xyla absently fidgeted with the brass clasp at her collarbone, where her brown cape-cloak was fastened. Her hood was up, which meant that her face was drenched in shadows. Maybe she was paranoid. Not about being spotted by someone, since hardly anyone knew she existed in the first place, but she was breathing very lightly, as if her shallow breaths and silence could help her escape identification by one particular man. And as the group around her turned to the west, she bit her lip for a moment before pressing her lips into thin lines.

He was still an imposing figure with a smooth tongue, but Xyla probably saw him differently than anyone else here, even anyone else on the High Council, and she averted her eyes. She'd grown a bit since the last time he'd seen her. Maybe, now equipped with the hood and the development of her more womanly features, he would not recognize the child he once knew her as. She was, in a sense, determined to bypass him, and to do so and only reveal herself when it was too late for him to retaliate. That, in itself, was enough payback for how he had wronged her.

Of course, word of such a contest would reach the ears of a certain Bandit quickly...and another King even quicker. It was Kayghet who arrived to the Onyx den, and told the Bandit King of what he knew about Theodwin's heritage; Iskra was unimpressed but Theodwin, who had grown wuite older since he took Iskra as his "mother" was horrified at the prospect.

"Don't look so shocked. Where there's one stain, there will be more, and plenty of ladies and even Kings father bastards- you're nothing special, little one." Kayghet had cooed, but the dark elfs little quip did nothing to soothe his troubles. But if there was one thing Theodwin knew of, it was the value of such a crown...especially to the Onyx bandits. Their timelessness was always, in part, due to Iskra's immortality- how long had she been alive now? Long enough to see Theodwin reach nearly 50 or 60 years, though he hardly looked a bit over 18. He was young, but not too young for this, Kayghet insisted, and it was with a hug and a heavy blue cloak that Theodwin left alongside the much older elf King, and found himself in the crowd among the others.

The two stood close together, Kayghet's impossibly dark skin and glittering scales contrasting greatly against the soft pale of Theodwin's skin; the latter fidgeted with the various piercings on his ears, markings of a nobleman from the land his birth mother hailed from. A Prince, really, but second in line to a throne he would never see. Not that he would want it- Theodwin preferred a life of adventure with Iskra and Wyvern to boring council meetings. But when Iskra told him of her desire, well...what else could he do? Becoming King could help Onyx greatly, and of course if he lost, he could simply return to Onyx and they could take this region through violence, as was customary to most bandits. The cloak around his shoulders was heavy and lined with fur, the Onyx Crest of a howling wolf displayed proudly across the back; his clothes beneath it were simple, the most lavish thing he wore besides for his jewelry was the silk fabric wrapped around his back, holding various water skins.

He watched Houzin's mouth move and heard his words, but hardly listened, far too occupied scoping out the others around him. He noted the anxious looking woman in the long cloak, watching her hands absentmindedly touching the clasp at her neck, and pulled his own hands away from his earrings; an Onyx bandit would not display weakness. Theo glances at the other anxious looking woman in pink, and simply looked away, now more concerned than before. If everyone was so anxious, was there really something to fear here? He cleared his throat and pushed his peach colored hair from his face, focusing in on their new speaker.

"My, I can't imagine ruling over such a...warm place." Kayghet mumbled, having unfastened his cloak and draped it over his arm. His tail swung around, and if one looked closely, the strange half-elf was emitting steam from the scales down his tale and face, "I'm afraid you won't see me often when you take the throne here."

"if..." Theodwin mumbled, though his eyes never left Lord Kalkas's face, awaiting his words.

"When, sweet Prince, when." Was all Kayghet would respond with, the man turning his own attention to the Lord. He felt odd, being surrounded by so many lowborns, being gazed down upon by Lords. Kayghet himself was a King, and hardly needed to be here- if it weren't for debts owed to Iskra, or his own sly intentions, he would never have come even close to this place. The dokkalfar hybrid was much more comfortable around his own castle of ice and his dragons. He had no doubt someone would recognize him, but had no fear of assassins or thieves. He came simply as guardian to the prince, his young age made him vulnerable. Though vulnerable to what, could depend on who you asked.

Lord Damian Nazael had been sitting in his seat on the east side of the Council Chamber. He had been listening to Mal'luch speak, trying not to let his feeling of disgust show on his face. Damian disliked the man immensely, and the feeling was very much mutual. Damian was one of the youngest to ever serve on the Council, currently only 125 years of age. His late father, Lord Ildris, had been an old friend of His Late Majesty, and Damian had taken over his father's seat on the council when he had died, and since that day, Mal'luch had mocked, patronized, and talked down to him by saying that the only reason he had gotten the council position was due to his father and preferential treatment on the part of the King. Also, the man was a snake oil salesman of the highest caliber: subtly ambitious in the worst way and slippery as a snake.

Lord Damian had platinum-blond hair that was so light it looked almost white and vivid, bright gold eyes. When he stood to address the contestants, one could see that he was tall and lithe. He returned Mal'luch's nod upon stepping forward. When he spoke, his voice sounded pleasant; it was soft, yet was heard clearly by everyone. "For your first task," he began, "you will enter a large maze in pairs. Your objective is to reach its terminus before the other contestants. The final two pairs to reach the end shall be disqualified from the remainder of the trials."

His expression went from pleasant to serious. "However, you must all be on guard," he continued, "for there will be obstacles within the maze to bar your way, and beasts shall be released into it to do the same." His tone of voice had changed to match his expression. This note of seriousness permeated his voice as he continued to speak. "Keeping your wits about you is of the utmost importance," he said, "for doing so will give you the best chance of making it through this challenge alive." He looked at the field of contestants, attempting to gauge their attitude towards what they had been told. He could see that a few of them had become tense at the news that there was a possibility that they wouldn't make it through the first task alive.

"A paired competition. Unfortunate, but tolerable. Actually, this may work to my advantage." Corym thought to himself. "It seems like they're trying to thin the numbers early. I'm not in the best condition to be running blind through such a place either."

He glanced about slowly, before reaching into his inner coat pocket with his left hand and withdrawing a small metal flask and yellowish, bead-shaped object which he popped it into his mouth. He swallowed with a grimace and took a swig from the flask, stowing it back into his pocket. It wouldn't do for him to show signs of weakness before the competition had even begun.

"SO." He said, raising his voice once the council member had finished speaking. "Are we to decide who we're being paired with, or is that to your discretion. And will the decision be known now or tomorrow, the day of the competition?"

Amara's eyes widen at the reveal of what their first trial will be. A maze that involves physical durability and quick thinking? Well, that is right up her alley! She had assumed when she first arrived that the challenges would involve courtly things such as diplomacy or manners. Those are the things she thinks of when she thinks of great rulers. Well, if this is how things are going to be perhaps she has more of a chance at being crowned than she initially supposed. No doubt the more graceful challenges will come in time, but with any luck the more verbally inclined contestants will fall to the maze, making her job easier down the line.

The sudden rush of confidence these thoughts brought her caused the overly tall elf woman to suddenly straighten and stand all the taller. Her fingers cease to fidget with her clothing and though no one can see it, behind her veil she is smiling. Perhaps there will be peace yet. For the kingdom...and for her heart.

Damian nodded at the question, looking at the one who had asked it. "The pairs will be randomized," he said. "You all will find out whom you are paired with on the maze grounds east of Haramon at the start of the task tomorrow." The Councilman looked around at the contestants again. He spotted a veiled figure at the back who had suddenly seemed to straighten up. Where there had been fidgeting, there was none. Her body language had changed. Making a mental note of her apparent confidence, he again addressed the group.

"Now, any more questions?"

Gweyr Illy’vana, rode forth on horseback, tracing the forest trail that led to the entry of the capital settlement Haramon. Her long white hair nestled proudly over her shoulders, while her white cloak that covered her aureate elven armor was stained in wet orc crimson. Her ivory face was pale and beautiful, with cold blue hues that turned lighter as she aged...she was approaching 1500 now, gracefully so.

She could feel the harsh energy that slowly cried out in the forests of Urdu. Such pain...such suffering, Gweyr thought. Inwardly, she mourned her friend and Queen who was recently laid to rest. A Queen that Gwyer never wanted the people to forget. Elvira was a woman that she respected and loved. Unfortunately even unknown legends die. Elvira was a rebel in the eyes of everyone who opposed her. She did not play by the rules like her father and perhaps that is why the council wanted to erase her story from the ancient scrolls. As long as Gwyer had life, she would not let this happen; she would avenge her Queen and carry on Elvira's legacy through these dangerous trials.

Beside her was a dark skinned human, Sir Valens, a knight of Jubilee, a human Kingdom in the east. To his people, he was just an unlucky bastard whose mother was a whore and father a rich noble, thus to Gweyr he was her personal guardian, trusted companion and a friend to the Urdu forests. Indeed, the two rode side by side, like children, smiling at each other, both drenched in rich scarlet.

Behind them, Gweyr’s brothers Elwing & Akosh rode in the rear—they were twins; long blonde hair, violet eyes and lithe figures that would put two aggressive panthers to shame. They looked like two lions that just finished a feast.

“You are late, dear sister.” They said in unison. “Don’t do that.” They harmonized in retort, against each other—unintentionally.

Gweyr just laughed. She rode harder, eventually approaching the gates to the capital. Being a sworn Ranger to the forest, duty always came first over politics; and the only reason she would play this game is because she had an obligation to protect this forest. “Welcome, Lady Illy’vana.” The gate keeper said, allowing her group to pass. Their horses were carefully taken and tended to.

When the Rangers finally arrived, all would see them, dirty, soaked, with a stench of orc guts on them. Valens stood tall beside Gweyr after she took her seat; her brothers also took their seats, eating the fruit from the table and draining the goblets of wine. Albeit, they all had heard the tail end of the task:

“You all will find out whom you are paired with on the maze grounds east of Haramon at the start of the task tomorrow."

“Forgive me, for my tardiness.” Gweyr bowed to the High Council, slowly wiping the blood from her comely visage. Her voice was handsome, deep and strong and it did not need to be raised to be soundly heard.

Amara's eyes bore into Gweyr's back as the woman enters. Though she does not recognize this woman, the blood and viscera she carries about on her person so casually speak volumes. Someone who could kill so easily without bearing a scratch on her own person, then wear the remnants of their enemies into the very council room itself as if they were trophies, that is not the type of person Amara could stand to see claim the throne. Well, she had sought a purpose. Here was yet another. And a rival in the mix.

Before the others could speak, the extraordinarily tall elf raises a hand to speak. "Will we be usthing our own gear during thesthe trialsth? Or will gear be provided?" Behind her veil Amara could feel her cheeks pink at having to display her lisp before so many prominent figures. If she truly means to be queen however, that's just one of the things she's going to have to step up and get over.

Lord Kalkas stood up at the well made question, his eyes gazing at Amara and the rest of competitors.


"You may use whatever weapons you possess and carry only, whatever you brought is all what you are allowed to have and use. Acquisition of new weaponry or trading of it have never been allowed in these competitions.
A king must be resourceful and ready for battle and survival" remarked Kalkas, the general of the elven armies

"Each to their own, those who fall behind, stay behind, and those found breaking our most basic rules will be swiftly executed... I shall have lord Oaken send scouts and archers who will watch over each test, ready to kill those who cheat." assured the steely lord.

"Indeed... trickery, treason and rebellion are not permitted, and we will be particularly watchful towards those vanquished outlaws who should not have dared show up at all and shame this great council with their presence in the first place" remarked Kalkas his piercing eyes resting upon the lad Corym, recognizing him immediately, with disgust and loathing barely concealed

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