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The Sisterhood of Hippolyta


Sarah Tintagyl
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[i][size="5"][center]The Sisterhood of Hippolyta[/center][/size][/i]

[center][img]http://dialbforblog.com/archives/181/artemis_templex.jpg[/img][/center]
[center][i]The Temple of Hippolyta[/i][/center]

In the days that Theresia had returned from her travels through Scythia, Bactria, and Judea, the ranks of the Amazons continued to swell as women from across Asia and other continents began to show up in the camp of the Great Khan to join the Queen as a Companion. Theresia's legend continued to grow as the weeks passed and tens of thousands of women signed up for the war to free the boundaries of Asia from German rule, while other Amazons traveled across the various oceans and continents to bring the trials of the Amazon Queen to other leaders who seemed to embrace the spirit of Ares and of Hippolyta. Amazon ambassadors returned from the Alaskan Imperium, rumors persisted that the Vicidalian Senechal joined the Austrian Princess, Angelika von Hapsburg in showing interest into the group and surely there would be other famous figures to pick up the sword, the spear, and the bow. However, the massive amount of women that took up the call of Hippolyta's spirit, presented a problem for Theresia and the Horde. Firstly, most of these women came from either oppressive societies or they were runaways looking for a new future and a chance to start again. Few actually had military skill and those who did were currently fighting on the front, increasing the chances that after the German War there would be few Amazons to actually train new acolytes. Beyond training new women, Theresia wanted to remain independent from Tianxia's political structure, which was, aside from her, fairly patriarchal and wanted to center her new companionship somewhere that could be under her direct control.

With her personal funding and a collection of the Amazons wealth, a complex was conceived in Ehestadt which would serve as the political center of the far reaching Amazon Companions and their individual Tribes. A large section of the central city was cleared and demolished for new construction and orders were sent across the world for priceless marble to be shipped from queries in the Middle East and Europe. Gold, silver, and bronze would be mined from mountains and hills within the Empire while other resources were sent for from the far reaches of the world, Ivory, Ebony, and Mahogany from African jungles and the best architects were hired within Tianxia and Ehestadt to build a temple complex worth the dedication to the Amazon Goddess.

What grew from out of the center of the city was a beautiful temple in the style of the Classical Artists from Ancient Greece and Rome. The architects from the Khanate also included subtle eastern styles into the construction and what shimmered in the sunlight was a massive temple, decorated with gold and silver and glittering marble. The Temple of Hippolyta, as it was dedicated, would be the spiritual and political home for the Amazons. It was a large complex that included several temples, a military academy, a cultural academy, along with a large meeting place for the Companions of the Queen to gather and discuss political problems effecting the tribes and the world. The last piece of the complex, a smaller amphitheater was constructed; this would be open to the public for live sparing matches between the Amazons and those brave enough to challenge the female fighters. Of the Companions already assigned to the maintenance of the temple, Oyona, the shaman who had gone with Theresia during her adventures would serve as the High Priestess to Hippolyta's worship and Theresia hoped that as time passed, other roles around the Temple would be filled.

The Temple Complex would become a sacred place in Ehestadt and given its central position in what would become the Sisterhood of Hippolyta, men were forbidden from entering the Inner Sanctum of the Temple, under pain of death. As time would pass, the temple began to come to life, as Amazons who were not part of the war effort and those arriving from other countries would make living in the complex part of their daily life. Living quarters for the acolytes, priestesses, and guests would be built and there were rumors that in time, the entirety oh Ehestadt's urban area would come to include the temple.

It was now time to wait for the arrival of those brave women recruited and the acolytes.

[center][img]http://almashriq.hiof.no/lebanon/900/930/930.1/ba-leb/Baalbak-TempleComplex.gif[/img][/center]
[i][center]Diagram of the Temple Complex[/center][/i]

Edited by Sarah Tintagyl
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Lady General Jane Whitelighter, commander of the Imperial Army, arrived early on a windy morning, V-22 settling down just long enough for her to step off with her gear, the Temple visible in the distance. Throwing her gear onto the hooks on the clamshell chest plate of her armor, she walked until the sun was high in the sky, arriving the gates at about noon.

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Two Amazon guards stood at the gates of the temple with ceremonial weapons, a long spear and a bronze shield. There were weapons available, but given Ehestadt's location within the Khanate, the Amazons could afford to be a bit more decorative with their appearance. Watching Jane approach, the first guard walked out from her post and bowed her head. "Lady Jane of Alaska, I presume. I am Asharta, one of the forward guards of the Temple. Unfortunately the Queen is currently on the war front with her husband in Kazakhstan and Princess Angelika is meeting with another sister, however the High Priestess is currently in the Inner Sanctum and I can take you there if you would like. Needless to say, it is cold out today, follow me and I will take you inside the complex."

Asharta rested her spear against the guard house while pushing her black hair back behind her head and gestured Jane to follow her into the gates. Inside, Jane would find the Temple mostly empty, as construction had only finished weeks ago and that a great deal of the Sisterhood was currently in the West, only a few younger girls walked around in the long white robes of adepts and acolytes. Walking through the hexagonal court where the great white marble pillars towered around her and statues of Ares, Artemis, and even classical representations of the Buddha gazed down at the Imperial, Jane was taken to the greater courtyard in the complex. Here, in the center of the Great Court, a center altar burned incense, while the various academies surrounded her on all sides; directly in front of her, the massive Temple of Hippolyta rose multiple stories into the air.

"Jane Whitelighter?" Said a voice from the temple staircase as a Mongolian woman approached her wearing the colorful garments of the Steppe tribes. "I am Oyona, the High Priestess of the Temple. Welcome, I have heard a great deal about you."

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While the two were talking, another person was approaching the temple. There was no haste in her movements and slowly she went up the stairs. The sun was dim and the winds were cold, still she used a parasol, obscurring her face for the longest time to the two that had to look down on her. Still, the parasol and also her dress were black and it was a clear contrast between her and the white marble of the stairs. Just as she was five steps away and overheard the conversation, the parasol went back and revealed her chestnut hair and the face with the emerald eyes and a smile of utmost kindness. "Sister Angelika is finished with the new one, as far as I have heard. Looking up to the Imperial Lady, the young woman smiled still, putting down the parasol and closing it. "What a chestplate...I guess you are from the Northern Imperium. Let me welcome you to the Temple of Hippolyta."

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"Ah, Adept, I hope you enjoyed your walk around Ehestadt, it is such a gray and melancholy day. But if I may, Lady Jane, allow me to introduce you to Sister Lieselotte," the Priestess said gesturing to the woman in black. "She is an Adept training under Princess Angelika and that must mean that the Princess has returned. Of course, I am always kept in the dark of these things. Please, if you would both follow me, I'm sure we can find Angelika in the Inner Sanctum somewhere."

Oyona turned back towards the towering temple and beckoned both women to follow her as they climbed the stairs leading into the temple. The great bronze doors were open and the smell of incense gently filtered from inside. Architects of the Khan had designed the temple according to Theresia's descriptions of the Temple in Pontus. A glittering, smooth marble floor stretched for meters and at the center of the temple was a large reflecting pool with crystal clear water, kept spotless by filters within the pool and by daily cleaning by the other priestesses of in the complex. At the far end, a massive statue of Hippolyta stood, stern and heroic, reflected in the water, her golden body glistening by the chandeliers and torches burning on the side walls.

From here, the Priestess led both women down another corridor into the Academy, connected to Hippolyta's Temple and soon to Angelika's private study, which was fashioned in a classical style; incorporating both Olympian and Viennese styles. "Princess Angelika?" Said Oyona as she tapped on the door.

"Oyona?" Said the Princess as she rose from her chair and opened the door. "Ah, good." Turning to Jane she smiled, "You must be Lady Whitelighter, welcome to Ehestadt and the Temple. Though I assume both my Adept and the High Priestess welcomed you. Please, if you all would come in. We have much to discuss."

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Jane gave a short, precise salute to the Princess, and followed her in, eyes taking in her surroundings, noting the architecture. A part of her mind appreciated it for the art form it was, while the other considered the best way to bring it crashing down out of instinct. "If you say so, Your Highness."

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As the Princess appeared, Sister Lieselotte nodded as if to greet her. In the days she had spent at the temple and in training, she had learned that a respectful nod would be the most she could give to Angelika, if she didn't want her to sigh and feel embarrassed. And it seemed most Amazons considered themselves more down to earth, modest and martial. Almost spartanic. And as she glanced over to the joke of a guard, she followed the Lady Whitelighter.

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Angelika beckoned them further into the room as she leaned against her desk and crossed her arms. "Sisters, right now we are at a turning point in the world. Lady Whitelighter, the Queen's messenger spoke about this and Lieselotte, I touched on this event during our training, but our coming together is the dawn of a new age. At the moment a great war is being fought in the West, between the Horde and Germany, while the Gulf States blaze in a great inferno because of French attacks to hold onto their colonies. For the first time in decades, the world is beginning to collapse in on itself and we will be there to push it over the brink, so that nature may start over. More so, that we may influence this new world as we move to influence all the continents before us. Today the Horde stands as master of all of Asia and the Amazon Tribes stand as an equal part of that power, perhaps even more so once we prove our mettle in battle. You both stand before me as representatives from nations who adhere to the Amazon code; Jane Whitelighter of the Alaskan Imperium and Lieselotte de Nouvelle-Beziérs of the Grand Principality of Vicidalia. After this war in the West ends, a new nation will be proclaimed over the Steppe, the nation of Scythia, of Amazonia and we three will be leading the expansion of our people across the world.

One day I hope that the Court of my sister, Theresia is humongous and this temple is filled with women from all over the world. But it starts here. I want to make this a pledge that the Amazons of Tianxia, of Alaska, and of Vicidalia, shall always support each other as sisters and through that sisterhood we will gain power and strength to forge a new world. Where the war of one, is the war for all."

The Princess nodded at them and walked back over to a shelf in her study and removed a bottle of red wine, aged to perfection from vineyards in Europe. After pouring four glasses, for the women in the room, she raised it up.

"If you all have no problems however, I would propose a toast, to our new sisterhood."

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Echearia brought a hand up to block the glare of the sun from her eyes as she took in the majestic view of the Temple that lay before her, it was a work of beauty and she was proud to soon be calling it her home. She was still wearing the armour of the Amazon who had perished fighting the Germans though she had taken the time to wash and clean it so that no bloodstains marred its surface and on her back hung the rifle the woman had given her to carry into battle.

Honestly Echearia had been disheartened when the Phalnax leader had ordered her to be sent to the Temple of Hippolyta detailing how she had no training and knew almost nothing of the Amazon ways. On the journey to the temple Echearia realised that the Amazon had not meant any offence by her words and actions and had in fact shown her a great honour by sending her to the place where she would learn to become one of the Amazonians.

It would have been good to have seen Nika before she had left or at least found out if she was alive and well and that worry about her friend's health had been on her mind the whole way. Of course she hadn't been able to find out anything as Nika was in the frontlines fighting for their Queen and so she had packed and left a note with one of the Hospital nurses telling Nika how she had gone to the Temple of Hippolyta to become an Amazon.

Taking a deep breath Echearia closed the short distance between herself and the guards of the temple and nodded in greeting to the both of them. "Sisters I come to study and learn as ordered" said Echearia respectfully.

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The two guards looked at the woman with a solemn nod and them smiled as Asharta, the guard who had escorted Lady Jane into the temple reached out her hand. "You've been sent well then, sister. Already having the armor of something fighting in the West. If you are looking to join us, follow me and I will take you to the Academy where you will be shown your living quarters. If you are looking to learn our ways, there are teachers and priestesses who will aid in your progression as a warrior in our faith and in our culture. Come."

Asharta, took the young girl into the walls of the complex and through the marble corridors of the temple and the academy before arriving at a larger room, scattered with bed mats and other young women sitting around in close knit circles talking amongst themselves. The scent of incense was strong here and a few of the girls turned at the new visitor, their individual spears laying near their bed mats. "As you already are armored and have your weapons, you will not be assigned new ones. Though I presume you gained them from a dead Amazon, as one would not simply part with her spear. Honor that tool well, sister, her spirit lives in you."

Then the guard left and Echearia found herself once again in a new environment.

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Echearia had followed Asharta in silence listening and nodding in response but too excited by the new surrondings to offer any conversation, she listened as Asharta explained the situation with her equipment and she managed an acknowledgement before Asharta left her surronded by new and unknown woman bringing back the memory of her first night back in the Brothel though she quickly banished it from her mind.

Walking over to an empty mat she sat down and gently placed her rifle before her before taking the cleaning kit and also placing it next to the weapon. Looking up she noticed a number of her new sisters looking across at her and she smiled to them nervousally unsure of what to do or say, instead she removed the cleaning kit and began to disassemble the rifle for cleaning as she had been shown back at the Great Khan's camp.

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Only three days had passed before Echearia would find herself once again caught up in the movement of war. With the invasion of Vicidalia by the Lunar Republic, the invasion of a nation of the Sisterhood, the Amazons of the Temple were called up for service; Echearia would be one of these women. She would be assigned to the Second Phalanx, under the command of Centurion Nazari. Most of the women who would be in her company had not seen substantial action in their lives and many only received a few months of training after properly joining the Sisterhood. Nevertheless, this would be their baptism of fire, thrown against the demons of the Lunar Republic who were at the moment laying waste to the Vicidalian countryside in a war that was extremely one-sided.

They boarded planes along with the Marscurians, bound for the Horde naval base in Hawaii and from there, the Amazons would be sent to their positions on the Vicidalian front. Rumors persisted that Princess Angelika herself would personally lead the Amazons into battle and morale was high, even for those who had never seen combat. Their naivety along with a sense of adventure and fulfillment would push the women on to glory far beyond the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

Arriving in the barracks in Hawaii, the Phalanxes were assigned to their quarters and Echearia would have her first real partner for much of her journey. The twenty-two year old had an light complexion with a touch of orange in her hair along with bright green eyes. "Echearia?" She said as she entered the room. "You are, Echearia correct? My name is Mina, it's a pleasure."

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It seemed that fate was placing Echearia's life in a constant state of flux as she had only just begun to settle in the Temple when she found herself being thrown towards war once again. Though she hadn't actually fought for the Great Khan she had at least talked to and seen the effects of fighting on the Amazons and in a way she found herself actually looking forward to the fight ahead. This she found worrying as she hadn't really thought of herself as a violent person and yet here she was rifle in hand and ready to kill in her Queen's name.

On the flight over Echearia kept to herself avoiding any conversations unless she had to as any talk with her fellow sisters was always brief and just reminded her how much she missed Nika. She quickly disembarked and headed to her quarters as soon as she could upon which she neatly placed all her gear next to her bed and lay down upon it staring up at the blank ceiling her thoughts on Nika hoping she was safe.

So it was with some surprise that caused Echearia to bolt upright as she heard her name being called out and she looked out across at the woman who had entered the room. She immediatly noticed the other Amazon's light skin tone and hair though it was her bright eyes that really caught her attention. "She's cute" thought Echearia before she shook that thought away from her mind.

"It's a pleasure to meet you too Mina" replied Echearia with a warm smile "I guess you are sharing these quarters with me then?" she asked looking to see what equipment Mina had brought with herself.

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The orange-haired girl nodded and dropped her pack on the ground near the bed and stuck out her hand. "I am and I'm assuming we're in the same Phalanx and company as well." She laughed and threw her spear on the bed, along with the unloaded rifle and side arm that was attached to her pack. "I had a hell of a time getting up here though. Everything is a mess and the Commander said we would be moving back out from Hawaii in a couple of days and that this is no time for Rest and Relaxation. My first time in a tropical zone and it's all for business."

Mina moved and sat down on her bed and looked over at Echearia who she felt was probably older than her, given the way she held herself. Brushing a few strands of orange out from her eyes, she looked around the room. "So, where are you from, I caught a Russian accent I thought, so I'm guessing Vaule?" The girl's German accent was still thick, with the trappings of the Austrian language pouring out of her. "Looking forward to the move?"

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"Yes I come from Vaule and if I am guessing correctly myself you are German perhaps? Or at least from somewhere close to there I think" replied Echearia. "As for moving out I guess in a way it is exciting but arn't you a little worried. I havn't even had any real training I just learnt the basics from a number of sisters from the East before I was sent to the Temple and even then I was only there for a couple of days"

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It was already a few days since the Grand Princess had arrived and lived with Lieselotte. Vicidalia had fallen, instead of holding out at their line, the troops had deserted and left Vicidalia to the enemy, without a true fight. Now, it all was gone. Vicidalia had been taken by the Lunar Republic, the people were either burning the Grand Princess' pictures or they supported the cause of other countries and the Compagnie, well those were the biggest traitors. In the beginning, the emptied vault had spoken for someone preserving the gold, but now, someone made investments with 'her' Compagnie all over the world. Charlotte had surely not acted in the interest of Louise, but rather in her own. In essence, it was no wonder the country fell with such disloyal people leading it. What could one do to regain the Grand Princess' status, she wondered. For now most likely nothing, apart from ensuring her safety, but the Amazonian cause was going around the world. And should they pick up Charlotte that way, Lieselotte was sure to ask for her to be hanged. If she didn't do it herself already. But for this, the Amazons needed to win.

[quote][b]To: Angelika von Habsburg
From: Lieselotte de Nouvelle-Beziérs[/b]

Dear Angelika,

Since the fall of Vicidalia, I do not know what to do with my dear Louise, given that she still is shocked by the turn of events. I myself am no less shocked, however, I cannot let it interfere with my actions. I have to make sure that my Grand Princess comes to her right and that those who lost our country are punished accordingly. This is nothing I see happening soon, but I'd like you to hand over the traitor Charlotte de Nouvelle-Châteaudun, should she ever be caught. And please assign me a mission. I cannot sit here idling around while this world breaks down. This is the dawn of a new age, with a new order, but I cannot say that I feel like something new, more I feel like the order that is overturned. I was not able to stop the invasion of Vicidalia, but I want to prevent such events from happening in the future.

Sincerely,

[i]Lieselotte[/i][/quote]

From fighting in a trench to agitating, everything was ok, as long as she knew that Charlotte would have less room to move. Until the blonde rat would have her neck broken by Lieselotte herself.

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[quote]

[i]Lieselotte,

Know that you always have family here amongst your sisters and that while the loss of Vicidalia was tragic, we will only come out stronger because of it. Louise however needs to improve a great deal in both body and in mind if she is going to come to power ever again in Vicidalia. She, I am afraid, is far too weak and far too incompetent to lead a country. I would be happy to take her into the sisterhood to train her and educate her on the methods of statecraft, but it will be a long and hard road, that decision must lay with her. As to the traitor, Charlotte, if you desire a mission I will assign you one that has hurt the entire Amazon Movement. You are to bring this Charlotte de Nouvelle-Châteaudun into custody or kill her yourself. We had a great deal riding on Vicidalia, her treason has effected us all. If you require help, let me know and I can arrange someone to accompany you on the journey. If not, I will do what I can to get any leads on her whereabouts and then report back to you.

Under the Blessings of Ares and Artemis, sister.

Angelika[/i]
[/quote]

---

[quote]
[b]To: Yuan Jia, Great Khan of the Horde of Tianxia
From: Angelika von Hapsburg, Centurion of the Amazons[/b]

[i]Dearest !@#$%^&,

While on assignment in Kuklos, I received an interesting letter from the former Senechal of Vicidalia who is part of your wife's sisterhood. She has explained that the failure of the Vicidalian War was due to the machinations of a woman named Charlotte de Nouvelle-Châteaudun, who after research is the founder and proprietor of the Vicidalian Company of Commerce and Colonies. I believe she is now at large and acting on her own and given that she has destroyed, indirectly, a nation of the sisterhood, she must be brought to justice. Lieselotte is currently on the path to hunt her down and kill her with all speed, but we have no clue where this lout hides herself. As this corporation has property in India, I imagine you must have some kind of knowledge on what is happening or where she can be found.

If you do, please forward it to me as quickly as you can. This woman is a traitor and an enemy of the Sisterhood. She must and will be brought to justice.

Angelika[/i]
[/quote]

Edited by Sarah Tintagyl
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[quote]Dearest Angelika,

I'm so glad you feel so affectionate towards me. I've sent a request that she come to Qingyuan and meet with Wei regarding irregularities with the finances of the trading posts. I am dispatching Rhee and Ryu to this case as well.

Regards,

Yuan Jia[/quote]

A message would be sent to Charlotte through the Indian Trading Facilities, both in sealed letter regular and electronic form each with tracking protocols planted on the message requesting that she come meet with the Grand Vizier in Qinyuan.

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[quote]Dear Angelika,

I will try to fulfill this mission and I won't stop until justice has prevailed. For Louise, she agreed to go into training, though she is somewhat melancholic, as no news from her biological sisters arrived. It was never said that the revolutionaries killed them, but who knows what all could have happened. I think a companion could be helping, given that this blonde devil is not an easy one. And if we get her the first time, it shall be with enough force to not recquire a second attempt. I hope you can agree to this.

Sincerely,

[i]Lieselotte[/i][/quote]

The message would go over the trading post to Neustettin, from there to Paris.

"Heh? Our finances should be ok. Did that old Sebastian ever mess up? Well, there's always a first time."

[quote]
To the Grand Vizier of the Horde,

Sadly, there are important matters holding me from visiting the warehouse myself, however, Madame Lemare shall go and visit you as soon as possible. I have confidence in our finances and accounting, but if you found something wrong, the Compagnie shall fix it immediatly.

With regards,

[i]Charlotte de Nouvelle-Châteaudun[/i][/quote]

Then Charlotte ate her own croissant, Dalian had a cup of tea and both went up the Champs-Elysées, hoping to see the Arc de Triomphe and later maybe the Tour Eiffel.

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  • 2 weeks later...

He had heard great things about the region. The Kaukasus, one of the potential Urheimats. Last time he came here, it was a visarist backyard...but people reported something like a "Second Nordheim", and also a land in which "Men would be the ones to show skirts". It was a land of warriors, and it deeply intrigued him. Maybe the hunnic invasion had been a good thing after all, to crack the ice of Berlinese control. It wasn't a country proper in any case, at least not yet.

This time, he did not want to be recognized. He made sure to dress, for a change, like a civilian - looking like some kind of tourist. His eyes would be turned to green due to the miracle of modern contact lens, and his hair would be dyed black. He looked like a different person, in his classic yet somewhat worn out jeans, his sneakers, and his flannel shirt. There was almost a grunge-like look to the once-dictator, and then...and then he saw the ending of western civilization - the borders leading to this new land. He knew that Jia and his last Northmen couldn't be the last people in this world to have a sense of honor in battle, regardless of ideology and religion. He had to see for his own eyes, if there was something in this world other than the few already mentioned that seemed to have a soul, and lifeforce of their own.

He steps in, and almost instantly feels as if he were in no man's land. Then, he just starts to walk, patiently. It would take hours, or perhaps even days before he reached a town or city, but he was the living proof of relativity, and it didn't seem like a long time to be on the move for the strange man. It was a new adventure, he hadn't felt this kind of feeling ever since he had first explored the black forests of Germania, where Varus had been defeated.

Now it was simply a matter of time. He would find something, or he would be found. He carried a large backpack with him, and instead of a gun or blade, a guitar was attached to it. Who could possibly ever guess who he was?

"Forvärds..."

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Dust rose on the horizon around where Martens walked down the roads of central Kazakhstan. Infrastructure was poor hear and only the direct routes which linked large cities together were regularly maintained; in the wilderness where the German walked however, the road could easily blend with the dirt paths that snaked off deep into the rolling hills and mountains. The plains seemed to go on forever with vast forests in the distance, but they seemed like a mirage that could never be reached and instead the traveler would spend an eternity tramping across the green and yellow grass that blew in the wind and the dust that swirled in small cyclones. Now and then a fellow traveler would ride by, but these merchants and villagers were nothing of the warriors that Martens expected or wanted to see; the warriors who had already made a name for themselves in the recent German War.

But as dusk began to fall over the plains, the sounds of hoof beats echoed from across the valley. The riders had spotted a fire from a ways off and as per their duties in the region, law and order was to be enforced in all corners of the Empire. Pax Tianxia was alive and well here and Martens would have a first hand experience.

When the riders approached, he would see the legends that had graced his ears before arriving on the Steppe. Their horses surrounded his meager camp and the first woman, the Centurion, jumped off her horse with a loud thud as her armor jingled. She wore a red bandanna around her head and her black hair was pulled back into a stiff ponytail. Her skin was darker and her mysterious dark eyes spoke of Persia or far off Arabia and then the second woman who joined her was the complete opposite, with blonde hair, pale skin, and piercing blue eyes, one of the German refugees - turned warrior. If he would scan the other women still on horseback, he would notice the diversity, Russians, Chinese, Kazakhs, Persians, Arabians, Turks, Germans, and even a few Africans.

"Greetings friend." Said the Arabian woman as she approached him. "Mind our party, but we were riding through the region and saw your fire, as Centurion of the Fifth Guard I have to ask if everything is okay, but you seem to be doing just fine."

The German eyed him more closely, "Though if you don't mind, what is your business of travel. Its not often we see lone figures out in the wilderness."

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By then he had learned to put a cap on, just a generic dark blue cap, and he used his long hair as a sort of curtain to block the biting sun. He had sunglasses on, but not merely for their aesthetic effects - he truly needed to protect his eyes from the rays and the terrible weather. For a moment, he wondered how any kind of civilization could ever prosper in what to him seemed a wasteland. Before he knew it, he was surrounded by horsewomen of multiple nationalities, and he couldn't tell if they were truly taller than him, or if it were just the horses that made them tower so. He smiled fondly, as if he knew them. Only then did he take into consideration, glancing at the fire for a moment, that he must look really odd, and took off the sunglasses at once, tucking them in a pocket. He rose deftly, with an optimistic air.

"Greetings. Everything is fine. As you can see." - It was hard for anyone to tell that he wasn't Russian, as far as spoken language was concerned. He wondered for a moment, if he should try and pass as a Russian in that case, being that the riders used that language on him. Yes. That would have to do the trick for now. Who would suspect that Martens would pretend to be Russian?

"Tourism. I have heard of a new kind of wonderful society springing up out of nowhere. I decided to see for myself, and..." He looked her up and down, nodding in approval, the proverbial "Not bad" look upon his features. "You do not dissapoint me so far, Good Lady. Might you be able to tell me where the nearest city or settlement is? I think I'm in the right track, but one never knows." For a moment, he felt a little awkward. They did not know him, and his gesture may have seemed as if he were sizing up a piece of meat, rather than evaluating a warrior.

If only the weather were nicer...

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Looking at his glances the Arabian and the German turned to each other with a laugh and shook their heads. "We suggest," said the Arab, "That you focus on our eyes. You'll live longer."

The German chuckled and then walked past Martens and pointed off into the distance towards the east. "Almaty would be your best bet, but from where you are now, you'd have to cross rather rough terrain and for someone undefended as you seem to be, friend, the journey is perilous. Quite honestly, I'm surprised that we've found a lone traveler alive this far into the Steppe. But perhaps you have the spirits' graces. As to the wonderful society," she said turning back around. "I figured it was only a matter of time before we started to get men walking across the plains hoping to size up an Amazon. We're going to become a novelty soon, Jazerin."

"Aye, Astrid, but they'll know not to mess with us. We taught your demon brothers in the last war, didn't we?"

"Mmm." Astrid groaned, her bare arms were still covered in scars from bullet grazes, but these wounds only made her appear larger and stronger. "Anyways, stranger, if you are touring the region we can escort you to Almaty tomorrow. The Guard has been moving across the mountains for most of the day and we were going to find a place to rest. Surely by your earlier expression you won't mind us camping with you."

"I'm sure he doesn't mind." Said Jazerin. "Most don't."

And soon a small village was soon erected around Martens' small camp.

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