Radhia of Azandele

A reclusive woman sits in front of a wooden workbench, the rapier before her illuminated by the orange glow of lanterns. Outside of her quaint cabin, the deep forest is darker than night, and ominously quiet as usual. Quiet, save for the occasional rustling of leaves. Was it the wind, or one of the many creatures that stalk through the trees? The woman returns to her sword. Its blade is cleaner than a freshly-scrubbed palace's floors and its edge is sharper than dragons' teeth. She continues polishing it, listening to the silence she's learned to find comfort in.

Living in the deep forest isn't easy, but at least it's simple.

Royal Assassin Amric

The underearth night is cool, calm. That's about to change. The assassin waits atop the unfamiliar castle walls, scanning the roads for the first sign of his mark. It will be over in an instant. First, he looses a flaming arrow. The carriage will fall to its side, unable to withstand the force of the explosive barrles he's placed near the street. Second, he slides down the rope and lands on the streets, ghosting over to the toppled carriage like a shadow. None of the guards will notice him among the confusion and distressed neighing of horses. Third, another arrow, this time to the driver's head. Fourth, two slit throats should finish off the marks, then he'll take his prize from the trunk at the carriage's rear. Fifth, and finally, a dousing of oil over wood, then a match. He'll vanish into an alleyway, and the next day Ichtheon will wonder who killed their prince and princess.

Prince Alaric of Tihul

The prince flinches as he carefully severs another vine. Their right eye was lost, with vines sprouting out from the socket and wrapping around his face, but they could still save the other. A trickle of red runs down their cheek from where the thorns had cut into flesh. He wipes it away, then fastens his blacksteel mask around his head. Celebrations will be starting soon and as the host, it would be rude to be late.

Servants avert their eyes whenever the prince walks the castle halls. Only their most loyal of guards, the one walking beside them, dares to lay eyes upon him. The two emerge into a grand hall, warm-hued stained glass decorating its walls. Elegantly-dressed guests cover the floor, and fall silent as the prince enters. It is impossible to tell whether their eyes are full of awe, or terror.

The prince takes his place on his throne. "Shall we begin?"

The Rose-Eaten Knight

Time has no meaning here. A bee landed on the knight a while ago, deciding to crawl over the rose that had consumed her face. Was that an hour ago, a day? Maybe it was ten years ago. He stares forward, somehow still able to see despite the rose. Birds sang her songs, the sun warmed them through silver armor, the wind carried secrets from Azandele. Their feet never grew sore, their legs never gave out. He was an obelisk, a monument and guard to her charge.

She looks down. Ivy had begun to climb her greaves. She gently shook the vines loose--he couldn't be rooted too far in place. Enemies of the forest's god were abundant, what if one were to show up now?

The sun begins to set, casting streams of fire through the canopy, and the knight watches it sink. They will see it rise and fall for eons upon eons, until it and the world burn out.

Azandele Guard

The bark is smooth from the decades of footfalls that have felt its surface. A less experienced climber may slip and fall at any moment, but the Azandelian guardspeople are quite used to traversing the canopy. As they patrol the central pavillion, Azandelian residents stop by to chat, to offer them food and drink. For here, it is rare that their services are needed. They sit among the twisting branches and watch the trees like hawks at night, but in the daytime, they play among those same branches and sing, tell stories, and be merry. Maybe a drunkard needs a talking to once in a while, or a naive child has stolen a merhcant's wares, but in the light hours those are the worst offenses.

Night, however... Night reminds them of the Overgrown. The lost souls who lurk in the deep forest. On rare occasions, the Overgrown wander a bit too close to Azandele. This is one of those occasions. The guard ready their crossbows, fire a couple of warning shots. The lumbering knight with a moonflower for a head does not notice, or does not care. They shiver, thankful for the lake that separates them and the creatures of the deep forest.

It makes them wonder... why would one of their own leave the guard, and choose to live in such a place?