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 Eoti--A New Beginning

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PostSubject: Eoti--A New Beginning   Tue 16 Apr - 21:45

((World info that may be helpful. We are moving to the new system of counting time.

1 Day = 8 Watches
3 hours = 1 Watch
4 minutes = 1 Niven
45 Nivens = 1 Watch

1st Watch starts at 6 am our time. Figure out the rest for yourselves.))

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The small village of Himmin was nestled comfortably in southwestern Lochsalan, just a few days’ ride from the sea and surrounded by fertile pastureland and woodland. It was far from the center of Lochsalan’s agricultural capital, but it did provide its inhabitants with enough yield during the harvest to store away a little grain for hard times and sell a little for coin. The weather was mild for the most part, and they were far enough from any major highways that news was slow in coming.

Just outside of Himmin was Oakenhall. The estate and surrounding fields belonged to Lord Oaklear, who was continually a topic of gossip and conversation around Himmin. Since the present Lord Oaklear had come to his seat as the head of the noble family, there had been an influx of Treagan immigrants to that part of the country—much to the discomfort and aggravation of the simple villagers. And because it did not appear that Lord Oaklear entertained much, it was broadly assumed that his wealth was rather in decline or, more likely (in the minds of those who had seen him out riding once or twice) he simply was not well liked in society. He was a hard man, it was often told in the Oaken Stave—Himmin’s one small inn and tavern. A hard man with a glint in his eye that spoke of ambition and discontent.

The young boys of Himmin often would dare each other to sneak in the dead of night up onto Oaklear’s land—to throw stones into his fields and trample the crops—but only the bravest would follow through. Dread held the majority back, for it was rumored that the man was in fact a Mage.

Not much more was known of Lord Oaklear than speculation could offer except that he was a widower with one daughter and two sons who had not been seen in at least the last decade. Old Strom, a constant fixture about the Oaken Stave, often drew a small crowd with his version of the Oaklear family’s history. One of the Treagans, he said, had told him that Oaklear had arranged for his wife and two sons to be murdered. “One of the foreigners did it. Quietly in the night,” Strom would say. “When Lord Oaklear woke, his wife lay dead at his side, but the bodies of his sons were never found. He neither grieved their absence nor arranged memorial stones for them, and his wife was buried with quiet solemnity.” Why or how his young daughter had survived, no one knew. It was generally agreed upon, however, that the girl was to be either feared or pitied.

((I will add other sections to this for other areas such as the mage council, perhaps herfiligr, etc. But this is going up now to kick us off.))


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PostSubject: Re: Eoti--A New Beginning   Fri 19 Apr - 0:05

Nestled comfortably amidst the branches of an ageing birch, the young finch fidgeted and chirped, its tiny ashen wings a mess of fluff and feather. There was something desperate yet charming about the way it dared not venture from the edge of the nest despite the clear interest it showed in the outside world, hopping instead around the tangle of twigs like an excited child until, in a flash of silver, its mother returned, urging it back into the safety of their tiny dwelling.

Against her knowledge, Cira smiled.

A youth on the cusp of womanhood, the pale-skinned girl could not help but find metaphor in the little creatures, though a quick warm breeze quickly stayed her wandering mind from dwelling on the subject too much, returning her instead to the benign task of waiting. Behind her, deep within the confines of an elaborate stone manor, her father was speaking to Eldwuin Kain, the only man in the region with influence even remotely close to that of the Oaklears. Despite her best efforts, Cira had never been able to find the elderly merchant’s presence anything more than bearable, for he always smelled of whiskey and spoke like the shadiest of black market traders she could imagine. Such was to be expected, though, considering he’d spent his life dealing with such sorts.

Sighing, Cira tossed a strand of long, pale blue hair from her face, wondering if she shouldn't partake in a walk around the town to pass the time while her father was busy. She’d given him the excuse that she needed to run some errands anyway, and the bench on which she sat was quickly growing uncomfortable beneath her restless legs. Spring was in its prime, after all, and with every other day spent training, free time was a rare delicacy in which she rarely partook.

Adjusting her pearly silk scarf around her shoulders as she stood, Cira allowed her feet to guide her, leading her across the small square garden and down into the town market. It was here that people bustled to and fro, offering her a smile or a nod of their head should she catch their gaze. Some even acknowledged her by name with a smile that came in two forms: genuine and cautious. Oaklear was a name she bore with equal bane and boon, but Himmin was a friendly town, and she could not blame those who greeted her with distance for it was not her whom they saw, but her father: Lord Marik Oaklear.

“Ciraaaa!!!”

A woman’s voice – young, soft, but tinted with frustration – rang out from somewhere behind her, forcing her to stop and turn just in time to see Elyse running straight for her. Unflattering barmaid gear and all, she was another one of Himmin’s flowers, and despite the way her disheveled hair was tied back in a messy bun, she drew more than a few glances.

“Elyse, what’s wro-“ Cira started, her tone that of genuine concern, but her answer came before the question had even finished.

“Have you seen Dusk around? That little,” A low growl that might have been threatening from a figure much larger and burlier than herself escaped Elyse’s lips as she ground to a halt, her narrowed eyes scanning the crowd.

Dusk.

He was an… ‘interesting’ fellow, Cira thought, though a little on the rebellious side. As she knew him, he was a kind enough sort, but his reputation within the village was one of tumult. A Mage to begin with, he wasn't off on the right foot with many of the Common villagers, but his exploits had started to become a monthly occurrence. Some said he was a danger and a menace, while others were more lenient, calling him a ‘well meaning, yet wild teenager’. As was her nature, Cira leaned towards the latter.

“No, I haven’t seen him in a while; sorry.” She answered after a moment, trying to recall the last time she had. It’d been a week at least. “Why? Has he done something?”

Elyse sighed but did not offer a straight answer. “That kid, I swear. He’s going to find more trouble than it’s worth. If you see him, please tell him to come see me before Keiro find him, alright?”

Cira nodded, sensing that now was not the time for questions while a grateful Elyse thanked her and jogged off. The last thing they needed was for the two craziest fire Mages in their corner of Eoti to go at it again. The last time that had happened, it had spelled nearly two acres of burnt crops and an afternoon of breathing in dry grass smoke.


(( Not the cleanest intro ever, but let's get this show on the road! ))

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PostSubject: Re: Eoti--A New Beginning   Sun 21 Apr - 17:59

"One of the Coach guard is a mage."

The words were like a knife, cutting the boring silence with a delicate stroke of terror.

There were three carriages in their caravan, two with people. Six horsemen. One in front, the scout, made sure the road was clear, reporting back every half hour with news of a log or a suspicious looking bush. Four around, two on each side, with a pair for each the front carriage and the rear, which held trade goods. The middle carriage was unguarded. If either of the other two fell, it wouldn't be leaving the road anyway. The last man took up the rear, and sat backwards on his saddle, looking for trouble and trusting his horse to stay in line.

Yildegarde Slauth couldn't imagine riding backwards on a horse. Just riding in the carriage for so long was almost enough to make him nauseous. As a member of higher society the youth had been taught how to ride, of course, but he had never had much of a talent for it. Suffice to say, he could stay on a horse without needing a pony, and he wouldn't fall from his saddle during a parade march, and that was all his parents had ever asked of him.

It had been several weeks since the groups departure from Yild's own home. Longer for his other companions, coming all the way from the Capitol. But while they bore it well, long rides made him antsy. And so it was fortunate that he was facing the front of the carriage, so that his cousin beside him couldn't see the short spout of panic that crossed his face at the mention of the word "mage". Had she seen, he would have been mocked for a week. As it was, the only one with the angle for it was his Second-Uncle, the solemn Lord Gregor Midas, riding across from the two youths and scanning an errant bit of parchment. Who, to Yild's great relief, didn't seem to notice it.

Instead the silver haired man raised his eyes from his paper just a tad and met his daughter's violet eyes with his own of the same hue, and said:

"Really?"

"Yes. I had my suspicions after your hint in Braeton but now I'm sure of it." In her plain but elegant blue dress, Minoa Midas folded her legs in an unlady-like manner and smirked, pointing out the carriage window. "It's that one. The one with gloves and blond hair."

Yild leaned forward to see where she pointed, but found a mess of white hair in his face instead, as Minoa rather pointedly blocked his view with her head. She was two years his younger, but surpassed him in skill as a troublemaker of the highest caliber. It was easy to mark them as family. Only the Slauths (the Midas's being an offshoot of the main bloodline, and just as highly regarded) had truly white hair so early in life. Minoa's was cut just longer than his own, whereas Yild had his recently cut at the barbers before leaving home. He was properly dressed, like hers, his black vest and white suit a near parallel to Gregor's own proper attire. But, with Yild being only a wisp of a youth next to his inexplicably fit Second-Uncle, he sometimes felt like a child at court rather than the noble lord of Lochsalan he was.

And Minoa was even more of a child than he was, even if she was a head taller. Not playing her game, Yild simply sat back until she got tired of moving her head with his, and then got his view of the man riding outside. He was of average height, with blond hair a bit longer than Yild's own, and was bouncing on his saddle as the horse moved, the red cursive words "Streehl" moving on the riding seat below him to mark the horse as the property of Streehl House Mercantile. He wore gloves, but past that and his surprisingly well kept on hat, he looked completely ordinary.

"What makes you so sure? He looks... decent, enough." Yild pushed back his own white hair, and looked to Gregor for confirmation. but his Second-Uncle's expression was, as always, a shielded mystery.

"He can't stay on his horse, for one thing. And that weapon he has is a dagger instead of sword." Minoa laid back against Yild, pushing him to one side of the carriage to get a better look as she made her deductions. "His hat is staying on, even when we hit strong wind. And his clothes are too clean."

"The same could be said of Yildegarde. But I don't see him conjuring fire." Gregor mocked his daughter, but he had also folded his papers away. Clearly he was interested.

"Well, that's not what cued me off, DAD." Minoa spat out the last word, impatient to get her point across. She didn't have the patience for proper debates.

"I wonder what did then." Gregor folded his hands together, the way he did when speaking to other nobles. Things had gotten serious. And, Yild realized as his Second-Uncle's eyes landed on him instead of his cousin, that meant it was serious for him too.

Yildegarde thought about it. It was true, the man's choice of weapon was abnormal. Yild had thought he might be a bandit at one point, with such a dagger, but that was just bored fantasizing on the road, and besides it was much too nice of a weapon for mugging. Nice. Why would a coach guard have a nice weapon? It was true, many took pride in their weapons upkeep, as a matter of professionalism, but this one seemed different, tailor made, and, when Yild had seen the blade, relatively unused. The blade was unused, and the man was wearing gloves. He was wearing gloves because-

"He's not used to working with his hands. He knows how to use his weapon, but it's not his first choice. He's wearing gloves because his hands have no callouses, and he has no callouses..." Yild smiled, feeling triumph however inappropriate. "Because he uses magic instead of his hands. He's a mage."

"Good!" The edge of Gregor's mouth raised, just a bit. "Good. And without a single hint, Minoa, if you noticed."

"I didn't need your hints. Besides, I did most of the work anyway." Minoa's face had gone from triumphant to annoyed. Everything Gregor did felt like a lesson, somehow. Even Yild could see Gregor fussed at her much more than he did their other relatives.

"It's true, she did do most of it," Yild offered as a toke of peace. But Minoa only rolled her eyes at him, pulled her bangs down over her face, and grumped.

"Nevertheless. Yes, we have a mage with us." Gregor slowly returned to his paper.

"Isn't that dangerous," Yild inquired.

"I stayed awake the first two nights. If he had foul intentions, he would have sprung them when we were further out. After Himmin we'll only be carrying produce anyway." The paper was fully out. Lord Midas was unconcerned. "I suspect he's simply using us for cover on the road. He may leave before we're even close to Revelry."

"It doesn't matter." Now that Gregor had settled, Minoa was back up. The cycle was endless. "We should get rid of him. You can't trust a mage."

"I have met several mages, and proportionately fewer of them have betrayed me than our own country's nobility. Maybe you should be less selective."

"Maybe you should stop pissing off nobles."

"Language, Minoa. And don't worry. We'll be at Revelry within the week and then you'll never have to see him again." Gregor marked something off on his paper with a piece of charcoal.

"People who can't even grip reins without gloves shouldn't be getting paid to guard caravans." Minoa raised her own hand, the skin split over one knuckle, with triumph. She had slugged a peasant back in Braeton, and cracked her skin doing so ("You should see the other guy" she boasted after being dragged off by her father). But she was as rebellious as nobles got, and her hands were already of tougher stuff, used to climbing out windows and over fences in the capitol, and her nice dress already had several tears from the scraps she'd managed when Gregor wasn't looking. Gregor's own hands remained stern, tougher things as well. He was the High Diplomat to the Cezare of Lochsalan himself, and Yild couldn't imagine what kept his hands so active. But looking at the two of them, he couldn't help but rub his own fingers against the bottom of his seat and hope some of the dirt rubbed off to hide his own soft fingers.

The town of Himmin was visible outside the carriage now. It was there for two days (the coach leader claimed one, but Gregor had already told Yild there would easily be there another night during the haggling with the local farmers) and then on to the coastal town, Reverly. There...

But Yild wasn't going to think of that now. Settling back into his seat, and succumbing to Minoa as she proceeded to punch at his shoulder for amusement, only the thought of Himmin had his mind now. Himmin. And Cira.

((Yild! Uncrippled! Two nights only! SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY! In the MEGADOME- err, that is, Himmin. He's also got shorter hair! Will wonders never cease?))
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PostSubject: Re: Eoti--A New Beginning   Tue 23 Apr - 21:32

The sun was setting over the rippling fields of green and gold. Men with hardened, sun-baked skin were gathering up their tools and lunch sacks and returning to Farquad Hall—the northern outpost of Oakenhall reserved for the hired farmhands and their families. The long hall was conducive to the Treagan custom of communal living—all worked, ate, rested, and slept as one, with little regard for family divisions. Thirty years hence, when the first of the Treagan immigrants had come to work on Lord Oaklear’s land, the Lochsalanian workers had taken care to set clear barriers. But as the Treagans grew more numerous, their way of life took root and the Lochsalanians slowly trickled away to find work elsewhere. The overhead loft, which had previously served as the Treagans’ apartment, was given over to the children and their mutts. The ladder creaked and the floorboards groaned as the older boys ascended to their sleeping quarters, but the structure was firm and the wind and rain held at bay.

The sixth watch bell had sounded. Lachlan trudged uphill to Farquad slightly ahead of the other farmhands, wiping dirt and sweat from his hands and face as he went. The sky had been clear all day, and the night promised to be just as obliging. Like Reuben, who strode along at his side, he planned not to let the beautiful evening go to waste.

The heat rising from the Common Hearth nearly stifled Lach as he entered the Hall. The evening meal was already spread out on the long table, but before Lach or Reuben could seat themselves, they were hustled out side again to “wash properly this time!”

“You two are in a rush this evening,” Acacia grumbled as Lachlan and Reuben finally seated themselves and began reaching for the steaming baked potatoes. She smacked Reuben’s hand away with a soup ladle. “You can wait for Tacha.”

Reuben glowered at his sister. “You’re not making Leland wait.”

“That’s his prerogative,” Acacia muttered as Lach began ladling stew into his split potato.

Chaos reigned in the long dining hall for a time as the women bustled about, bringing steaming plates and bowls and cool pitchers to the table, and the men seated themselves, some proceeding to satisfy their appetites while others were obliged to wait. For his part, Reuben glared daggers at his brother, who ate at top speed and had quitted the table before their Tacha had even taken his seat.

“I’m off to Himmin,” he called over his shoulder, but he was gone before a reply could surface from the din of conversation, loping down the hills with a renewed energy in his step.
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PostSubject: Re: Eoti--A New Beginning   Wed 24 Apr - 0:56

With an off-beat melody in his whistling to match the lopsided kilter of his uppity gait, Dusk appeared to be riding the warm gusts of wind that swam silently through the prairie grasses which lined the trail he walked, adding an air of playfulness to an otherwise still evening. Behind him lay Himmin wherein nothing but the inevitable one-two punch of responsibility and regret awaited him, but if it dogged his mind any he had yet to show it. Elyse would have her due, and Keiro would have his hide, but not until he’d had his fun.

Resting between several softly sloping coulees, the youth’s unsettling maroon eyes were set on his destination: a small land-locked lake of no real significance, just within the bounds of the Oaklear Estate; It was a tantalizing escape for an eager young man with an ale buzz and an evening to waste. Even for a reckless heart such as his, Marik Oaklear was not a man to be taken lightly, but he couldn’t deny himself the minor thrill it wrought. Three weeks of mindless training had numbed his will to care, and consequences be damned, he was going to get a taste of adrenaline and freedom or die trying.

His expression souring slightly at the mere thought of Keiro’s insulting regiment, Dusk allowed himself only a moment of bitter reflection before running a loose hand through his wild hair. Nineteen last month, and he still had yet to graduate to anything beyond the basics of combat.

Stifling a groan, Dusk reached down and snatched up a hearty branch from the side of the path, wielding it like a sword. Now was as good a time as any to practice, he supposed, but in the midst of a particularly dedicated display of clumsy swordsmanship he found himself distracted by a figure not far off in the distance, his farmer’s garb marking him as a worker as he left the northernmost building of Oakenhall with apparent eagerness.

Eagerness, and an unmistakable mop of brown hair.

“Oi!!!” Dusk called, waving his stick around to catch Leyland’s attention.

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PostSubject: Re: Eoti--A New Beginning   Wed 24 Apr - 20:42

Lach’s pace was light as he jogged down the path to the lake. Himmin lay just to the South of Oakenhall, but the estate was vast, and so even at a quick pace it would take a sizeable amount of time. Perhaps six or seven nivens if he ran. Ten at a light jog.

It wasn’t particularly often that Lachlan headed down to Himmin at the end of a workday, especially if the next day’s work promised to wake him early. But it had been some time since he’d last visited Elyse, the young barmaid at the Oaken Stave. It was hardly a secret that Arlan wanted to see a union between the two, and though Emira, Elyse’s mother, seemed to approve the match, difficulties yet remained. It was not Arlan who needed to approve the match, but Lachlan’s Tacha.

Lach had never met the man, but for once, he supposed, on the day he had received his formal name. He remembered little of that day except the lingering notion of tension. He remembered standing straight and proud next to Reuben, and a tall man in a thick traveling cloak speaking to Arlan. Pride had burst within him at being chosen Firstborn. But his Tacha had left not long after, allowing Lach to remain behind until he was called home.

Elsye would return to Treaganland if he asked her to. Lachlan was sure of it. But until he knew of his Tacha’s plans for him, he could promise nothing with certainty to her.

“Oi!”

The shout roused Lachlan from his musings and, looking up, he recognized a flaming head of red hair. The figure was waving a stick energetically over his head and walking towards Lach with something of a stumble in his gait.

Dusk.

Lach let out a silent groan. He imagined he could smell the rye on Dusk’s breath even from a distance of several dozen yards. This detour was unlikely to be either short or pleasant. And yet…and yet he could not allow Dusk to be found wandering, drunk and perhaps even in a belligerent state, on Lord Oaklear’s land.

“Dusk what are you doing here?” he called, catching Dusk’s arm in a vice-like grip as they met and forcibly turning him around.
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PostSubject: Re: Eoti--A New Beginning   Wed 24 Apr - 23:03

“Good evening to you too.” Dusk grumbled, still sounding outright cheery despite his protests. Leland had a way of quenching even the heaviest buzz with that serious expression of his, but that was all part of what made him so much fun.

“I could have asked you the same thing. Isn’t there somewhere better for you to be, hmm? Out causing a ruckus like a young man should, or perhaps spending his time courting a certain pretty young lass?” Try as he might, Dusk’s attempt at a post nobleman’s accent was nothing short of choppy and forced, but his over-exaggerated expressions provided a decent amount of supplement to the act.

Wriggling free of Leland’s grips, Dusk spun once on his heel for extravagance, holding his stick out in front of him like a fencing wand.

“Or could you simply not get along without your time-tested, tried and true, comrade-in-arms?”

A grin as wide as the sun’s reach spread across his face, and with one final flourish of flair Dusk tossed the stick up into a full rotation, missing the catch entirely on the way down.

“Heh,” Was all he could say as he pulled himself back into a casual stance, though the grin hardly faded.

Mismatched as could be, the two friends were nothing short of Himmin's greatest anomaly: A trouble-making Mage with a taste for excitement, and the eldest Common son of a large Treagan farming family. Where Dusk was outspoken and reckless, Leland was much more tame and reserved, and yet the middle ground between them often felt boundless. Perhaps, Dusk often mused, such sentiment was more one-sided than he cared to admit, but the young farmhand had been his friend for more years than he could count.

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PostSubject: Re: Eoti--A New Beginning   Wed 24 Apr - 23:35

Dusk was in a good mood. An extremely good mood. And as much as this was good news, the unmistakable fact still remained that he was liable to harm someone in his drunken state—especially if he crossed paths with someone who would not take kindly to his presence. Though a fellow Mage, Lord Oaklear would not take kindly to Dusk’s presence.

Dusk was infamous for his antics around Himmin and beyond. He was “uncontrolled,” people would say, frowning as he passed. A wild boy untamed by his master and therefore a danger to the community. Privately, Lach agreed with them. He had seen Dusk lose control of his magic before, he had been maimed by fire at Dusk’s hands, and he had witnessed firefights between Dusk and his master Keiro. Dusk was dangerous. But only as a dog was dangerous. He held enormous power to do with as he would. But his disposition was such that, in Lachlan’s opinion, he was no danger to anyone who took care to stay on his good side. It was not difficult.

The two boys had met at an extremely young age—long before Dusk had discovered his magic, right on the edge of Lach’s memory. So long ago, in fact, that Dusk was one of the precious few people outside of his family to know him as Leland—his childhood name. At such young ages, their differences had not been as clearly defined, and they’d taken to each other like wildfire. Their friendship had stuck despite Lach’s stoic calm and Dusk’s wild eccentricities.

Dusk wriggled out of Lachlan’s grip surprisingly quickly.

“I haven’t got time for trouble making or courting between you and…you,” Lach said, standing where Dusk had freed himself while his friend spun away and began waving his stick about like a sword. “Come with me. I’m going to the Stave.”
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PostSubject: Re: Eoti--A New Beginning   Thu 25 Apr - 0:09

“Back…?” Dusk’s brow arched. Well, it was ‘back’ for him, though the truth was that Leland was just as dear a patron of the sturdy old tavern as he was, however different their reasons. Irony, of course, dictated that their purposes rested on two sides of the same young woman: Elyse. Two gold and a brass was what he owed her, but Leland’s stubbornness told him that an apology would have to do for now.

“Was that an offer or an order?” The slurring youth quipped, his head bobbing somewhat awkwardly on his shoulders. It was a rhetorical question, of course, a meager attempt diplomacy, but for once Dusk was willing to take it in stride- at least so long as they didn't cross paths with a certain cranky old Mage who was sure to be noticing his apprentice’s absence soon.

Leaving his stick behind without a second thought, Dusk set the pace towards the village, his arms up and fingers laced behind his head as he went. “You’d better not be dragging me out so you can dote from the corner table again,” He spoke aloud, glancing sidelong at Leland. “She’s a gentle one, sure, but you've got to rise up a little; you know, be bold! Fun!” An inopportune hiccup split Dusk’s train of thought into two, but he recovered nicely.

“I’ll show you how it’s done,”


----


Tired of looking busy and bored with waiting, Cira circled back to where her father yet sat in conference with the merchant, yet no carriage sat ready to meet her meaning that she still had a decent amount of time to waste. ‘Take a day, even just one’, Lady Ahlmir had insisted, all but physically pushing her from the Oakenhall grounds, and yet she felt little desire to wander the town any further.

Looking with disdain at the bench where she’d already spent more nivens than she cared to count, the pale girl retraced her steps around town in her mind, trying to decide on a means to occupy herself. Among her first recollections was the distressed face of Elyse, the hazel-eyed inn maid who’d approached her in search of Dusk. Naturally, Cira’s curiosity piqued ever so slightly, and though her father was sure to disapprove, the girl’s feet began carrying her to the Stave before she could halt them.



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PostSubject: Re: Eoti--A New Beginning   Thu 25 Apr - 18:14

It was growing a bit dark out. As Gregor had predicted, the caravan's head had come by the carriage and informed the guests that the delay in Himmin might carry on a day or two yet- the farmers had largely gone back to their halls, and would not be available for barter until the next morning. With just as much false sympathy in his voice but a little more hardness Gregor had consented to the inevitable, but had managed to coax the head into paying for lodgings for the lot of them. It wasn't that Gregor needed the money- Yild was well aware he had much more to spare without batting an eyelash than the merchants would make the entire trip- but rather, Yild suspected, simply a goad to keep the procedure moving. Even though the High Diplomat had not yet reached Ra, he had already fully assumed the roll of the shrewd politician.

After a quiet conference with the other passenger carriage, Gregor finally returned to their own carriage, and Yild accepted his hand to help down. Minoa, muddying the bottom of her dress, simply jumped. Around them, the coach guard, mage included, slowly made their camp.

"It seems the most fitting place for our lodging is a small Inn called the Oaken Stave." Glaring without comment at Minoa, Gregor waited until her grouching got her to clean off her dress before continuing. "It's nothing Tectun might offer, but it will be better than the road, at least for the night."

Yild nodded, looking into the town, though his eyes were drawn inevitably away from it. The fields beside the town, or rather what he knew to be past them, interested him far more than lodgings. He would take to the garish sleeping bags again with ease if it meant a spot closer to Oakenhall. Nevertheless, he tried to veil his wistfulness when he answered. "I know of it. Are we going now?"

"No, no. I can handle booking rooms myself. I have some arrangements to make with the innkeeper and barkeep."

Ah. Yild looked over at Minoa, but if she had noticed the minutia in Gregor mentioning available alcohol near their rooms, she didn't show it. Then again, she had her father's skill for hiding expression.

"However, it would be rude for us to pull into town without alerting Lord Oaklear to our arrival. I would appreciate it if you and Minoa would handle that for me- I would let a merchant deal with the formalities, but at this late hour, I imagine he would be much more welcoming to his new territorial neighbor." Gregor crossed his hands behind his back, in that knowing business way. "He, and his family."

Yild's cheeks almost immediately erupted into a blush. It was clearly a mistake to have mentioned his intentions towards Cira to his father back in Tectun. Of course the affair would be passed on to his mother and Second-Uncle within an hour- mercifully, both were considerably better at secret keeping in turn, but by now the damage was done. Only Minoa's pure disinterest in the conversation made Yild confident that the leak had not spread further, at least among his current companions.

And... Neighbor. That was going to take some getting used to. It was only a month ago now that Yild had learned the Lord-Governor of Revelry was retiring without heir. Apparently the Cezare himself had appointed the position to Yild in his stead. Although Yild suspected it was much more due to the actions of his own Granduncle, the Archduke of Lochsalan, pulling strings on his family's behalf. And as fortune had it, Revelry was only just past the edges of Lord Oaklear's own territory, making the timing of Yild's arrival and proposition almost coldly political in its fitting. Yild thought it almost like politically guided kismet. He only hoped Cira would see it the same way.

"I... think that's a lovely idea." Yild carefully fixed his collar. "We would be happy to."

"Says you. I don't wanna trudge across a bunch of farms." Minoa, having finished cleaning her dress, was now in the process of dragging her feet across the ground, covering her shoes in muck and almost invalidating her complaint outright by doing so.

"It's settled, then," Gregor finished, completely ignoring his daughter's whining. However, as Yild left to go (and, much to his amusement, Minoa followed anyway, as she had always intended to), Yild feld a strong hand on his shoulder, and turned to see Gregor extending a small but weighted scabbard his way. His Second-Uncle's eyes caught his own, and he spoke in hushed tone.

"This is a small town, and not as well managed as the inner regions. Take this, and walk with caution. If anyone attempts to trouble you on the road at night, don't hesitate to use it." Gregor passed the sword over, and looked at Yild in a cautionary manner. The sword weighed in Yild's hand, uncomfortable. He'd only had the most rudimentary of martial training, as a noble. But he wasn't going to admit as much, at least not when he was being entrusted with such responsibility. Surely though this was to settle Yild's own troubled mind at mind, not due to any real danger. Surely. "Do not allow Minoa into any more... scrapes."

"I feel so much safer now," Minoa drawled, imitating a higher falsetto and shooting Gregor a look of accusatory hurt pride. Yild barely noticed as she took his arm and began to drag him away, while Gregor, in turn, watched them go for only a moment before calmly stalking his way towards the Stave.
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PostSubject: Re: Eoti--A New Beginning   Thu 25 Apr - 21:27

“An order,” Lachlan answered shortly. But his gait, the way he held himself, did not suggest the stiffness that his words implied. He would only become frustrated if Dusk resisted, and then only out of his concern for Dusk. He’d set foot, unwelcomed, on Lord Oaklear’s land one too many times—and had the dogs set on him for it. Dusk was the sort who enjoyed pushing his luck, pushing men past their threshold of tolerance, and it didn’t always work out in his favor.

His dark eyebrows knit downward as Dusk continued, however, straying once more into territory better left alone. “I don’t sit in the corner,” Lach retorted angrily. “I talk to her whenever she has time. And it wouldn’t do for you to risk the one girl willing to speak to you just to ‘teach’ me something I don’t need to learn. Elyse is… she’s… she likes me well enough as we are.” It wouldn’t do to explain for the umpteenth time to Dusk that his hands were tied—that he could not proceed in his relationship with Elyse until he received word from his Tacha. No matter how many times Lach explained that Arlan was not the one whose permission he needed to seek, Dusk could not seem to wrap his head around the concept that Arlan was not Lach’s Tacha. It puzzled the Mage to no end, and Lachlan had long since given up trying to explain the Treagan custom.

“You’ll do nothing except apologize for however much you’ve stolen this time,” Lach muttered as they finally reached Himmin. It was a small village. Quiet for the most part, and home to a small portion of Treagan families who’d scraped together enough family to become independent of Lord Oaklear. Elyse’s family was one of the oldest in that region of Lochsalan, and had run the Oaken Stave for two generations.

As Lach strode up to the tavern, movement down the dusty road caught his eye, and he turned for a moment to watch the slow approach of a small caravan. “Traders coming,” he said, nudging Dusk in the ribs. “Bet you wish you’d saved your coin now.”
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PostSubject: Re: Eoti--A New Beginning   Thu 25 Apr - 23:18

The sharp bite of tobacco smoke met Cira’s nose with irritable persistence, forcing a cringe out of her the moment she crossed the Stave’s threshold. It was a loud place with an atmosphere all but foreign to Lord Oaklear’s prized daughter, and yet it was that exotic excitement that carried her further inside. Her father would disapprove (to put the sentiment lightly) but he was preoccupied, and she would only be a moment.

Scanning the room for the familiar round face of Elyse, Cira caught the gaze of several patrons, almost all of whom expressed a mixture of recognition, surprise, and finally... amusement? Shaking it off, she made for the bar counter with relative ease, but before she could pose her question to the scruff barman at the end, out came Elyse, her work clothes in her hand.

“Ah, Cira,” There was that surprise again. Then again, it was to be expected; even from someone who knew her well enough to speak on a first name basis.

“Good evening,” Cira bowed her head slightly, her politeness slightly out of place. “finished for the night?”

Elyse nodded. Clothed in a light flowing top and white slacks trimmed just beneath the knee, she looked much more her age, and though her hair was messed ever so slightly from having been tied back all afternoon, it suited her.

“I just came to see if, well, you’d found Dusk?”

This time Elyse shook her head with a sigh. “No,” She started, “but-”


------


“This always happens!” Dusk whined as the caravan came to a stop, adding more emphasis than he legitimately felt. “I swear it’s a conspiracy.”

While a cast of well-dressed figures stepped out from the main carriage, the two of them continued on past, but not until Dusk had a chance to roll his eyes. The troupe was clearly of a noble sort, what with their well-groomed appearance and straight-backed stance, but for once Dusk thought twice against making anything of it. After all, when he willed it, Leland could be just as furious as Keiro. He did, however, meet the gaze of a pale haired young man for a fleeting moment before turning into the Stave entrance.



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PostSubject: Re: Eoti--A New Beginning   Tue 30 Apr - 0:06

The Merchants unpacked quickly. Yild could see the coachguard Minoa had pegged for a mage already pitching a tent beside the caravan, sharing the effort with a heavier set man with a thick helmet over his head. Some Treagan design. From the town, the lights from the houses could be seen turning on, and for a moment Yild caught eyes with one of a pair of boys walking townward from the same direction he and Minoa were heading. He attempted a smile, but it came out awkward, and Yild quickly straightened his face again to avoid additional awkwardness. He was not used to dealing with peasantry, and his rare meetings had always involved him standing in the corner at formal events his family threw back in Tectun, where the only thing he could think of was how much of a mess the place would be afterwards.

He wondered if Himmin had such affairs. Harvest festivals and balls. He had never thought to ask.

Before he knew it however, Yild was out among the fields, and the town was fading behind him. Minoa had begun their journey tugging him but now, receiving no reaction, had begun lagging behind. She picked at all the crops that grew close to the road, picking off corn and such things and tossing them uselessly into the road. It was a waste. But before he could think to scold her, Minoa spoke instead.

"So, when are you going to give it to me?" A full ear of corn in her hand, Minoa took an overly long minute to aim it at Yild's face, and he stepped aside of the thrown veggie with ease.

"I don't know what you mean," Yild returned, but as soon as he said it it occurred to him that she could only be talking about the sword. In which case the answer was obvious. "I'm not giving you a weapon, Minoa, you seem to be killing the local wildlife easily enough as it is."

"Well we both know you won't use it. My Dad was better off giving it to the spiritdamned corn." This time Yild didn't dodge quite so well. The ear thudded against his back just a bit too hard, and he didn't resist the urge to rub at the sore spot, glaring at her. "And you know I've got the better arm."

"You aren't going to provoke me, of all people." Yild grumbled. He'd hoped she would settle a bit without her father around, but the closer they got to the coast the more bothered she was. "You're acting half your age, by now, or less. Do you really think that causing a ruckus like this will keep you from going to Ra?"

"Maybe! No! Shut up Yild." He'd struck a nerve of some sort, as he knew he would. But at least it was out in the open now.

"I told you, if there's anything you want from Lochsalan I'll send it to you on a ship straightaway. It will be like you never left." Seizing on the offer, and her lack of tossable flora, Yild took Minoa by one hand, and walked with her that way.

"Having crud and silverware doesn't make a country Yild." She sighed, but her words still bespoke her not yet waned irritation. "It's... There's no one in the capitol I will even miss. But it is familiar to me. There are people that I can call by name, even if spirits know I've never made a friend of any of them."

"There are people in Ra too," Yild offered.

"Yeah, great. I'm sure all of the stupid tribals and fishermen will be speaking my language too, and have little parades in my honor when I use the chamberpot like a civil woman."

Yild gave Minoa's hand a little squeeze, and she looked at him, not bothering to hide her glumness with rage anymore. "Anytime you feel too homesick, you can come and stay with me in Revelry. As long as you like. Gregor won't deny you that."

"More time with you?" A half-hearted snort of humor. "I'd rather suffer the tribals."

A rustle in the corn startled them both, and Yild put his spare hand on the hilt of his blade. He could see nothing, but they'd walked a long way, speaking to eachother. The lights of town were certainly a far ways now.

"We can discuss my flaws... After we find the manor. Agreed?" Yild's voice sounded a little more confident than he felt.

"Agreed," Minoa said instantly beside him. The two cousins continued down the road.

* * *

Tobacco. So whisky and ale would not be the only hazards Gregor would need to steer his daughter away from for the night. He'd call it quaint, but as he could smell the coarse smoke and not the finer earthy scent that came from the capitol's own bars, the Stave was only as dingy as it looked.

The trek had been depressingly predictable. The one affair with bandits had been settled as soon as it came, and the secretive passengers of the caravan's last carriage had remained undisturbed even then. Minoa had been behaving as a spoiled brat the entire trip, but he couldn't find it in himself to fault her. Ra was a foul place, by many means- hot and tropical, without any of the common necessary's that she was used to in the inner regions. Were it anything but duty, Gregor would never drag himself out to such a place, but such was his obligation. The High Diplomat. One of few in all the kingdom who held the Cezare's own ear. In Lochsalan such power was only achieved through loyalty unwavering, and a tongue as sharp as the sword that accompanied it. That same tongue had spent many days mastering the Ra'an tongue, and it had taken three times that later to teach the language again to his daughter. It was true, what some men of medicine in the capitol said, that children learn faster than their parents- but that, unfortunately, came with the caveat that they wanted to learn at all.

The High Diplomat exhaled a sigh without opening his mouth as the door swung shut behind him. For a brief, needlessly veiled moment, conversations lulled as the tavern's inhabitants marked his fine clothes, and straightbacked demeanor different from the slouch of manual lifting, but their voices picked back up into normal affairs just as quickly. They would talk, but it would be once he was gone. And he did not intend to provide them with anything that could amount to a foul rumor later.

Hands folding behind him by instinct alone, Gregor crossed the room in a few swift strides, his eyes scanning every table but being caught by none. That man had five aces in his hand. The one there wasn't really smoking, but just coughing into his hand, and his pipe's lip was dry. The boy's drink had gone dry, but he sat and said nothing, too timid to talk to the pretty barmaid at the counter and ask for more. And beside the barmaid...

"It seems I have sent my second-nephew on a fool's errand," Gregor announced aloud as he approached the youngest Oaklear child. Cira had grown much since last he'd seen her. Unlike Yild, Gregor's own travels rarely brought him to the southern coasts, and when they did were under strict cloak and silence. But her hair and fair skin were unmistakable among the rest of the bar's inhabitants. "I did not think to see the daughter of Marik Oaklear in such a place as this, and sent the boy on to the manor. But I'm pleased to see the local Lord's kin has not lost the... common touch."

A small smile formed on Gregor's face, planted, but nonetheless with a positive feeling behind it, making himself apparent to Cira. "Do you know my face, girl?" His eyes drifted to the barmaid, and his tone dropped properly to business once more, his tone suddenly dismissive to such a degree that he was clearly holding his conversations with the barmaid and with Cira in completely different parts of his mind. "I shall want to make a discourse with the owner, shortly, at your pleasure. I have need of lodgings for the night among other arrangements."
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PostSubject: Re: Eoti--A New Beginning   Wed 1 May - 22:35

There were few men who possessed the ability to cut through the rabble of the Stave’s evening crowd without raising their voice, but Gregor Midas was most certainly one of them. Twice, maybe three times, Cira could recall having seen him, but only once had she personally met him. He was not the sort easily forgotten, but not for any particular reason. In fact, save for his sheer political influence, there were no outstanding traits of his that she’d yet picked up on. Perhaps it was simply because he was one of the few men high up in the political game that didn’t seem blatantly manipulative, or, more likely, her father had seen to it that she could not go more than a few months without hearing all about him and his ties to the Slauths.

Acting as an extension of Elyse’s curious stare, Cira’s gaze turned over her shoulder just in time to catch Gregor stride over. Around them, people in the establishment shifted gracelessly in their seats, many casting fleeting glances while others did their best to divert their eyes. More than a few, however, did not look at all comforted by the man’s presence.

“I did not think to see the daughter of Marik Oaklear in such a place as this,” Gregor started, and Cira’s throat tightened an imperceptible notch as a well-veiled look of distaste clouded Elyse’s eyes for but a fraction of a second. “… But I’m pleased to see the local Lord’s kin has not lost the… common touch.”

The momentary pause in his words was navigated as skillfully as one might expect from the high diplomat, but she did her best to fight her urge to shiver, offering instead a modest hum of agreement in response while she turned her focus towards the less controversial half of his statement. Meanwhile, Elyse accepted his request with an equal match of skill in hospitality, rushing off into the back with a cheery “Certainly, sir. I’ll arrange for them to come speak with you; please, take a seat.”

And with that she was gone, but not before exchanging a quick, meaningful look with Cira.

“I must apologize. Had we known you were travelling to Himmin, my father and I would have seen to it that arrangements were made at the manor; In fact, I’m certain the offer is always open should you wish to lodge at Oakenhall. We’ve room for plenty.” Despite herself, Cira was quickly growing fond of the idea of entertaining guests for the evening, but one in particular held a notable place in her mind:

Gregor’s ‘second-nephew’.

Yild.

It had… been awhile.

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PostSubject: Re: Eoti--A New Beginning   Fri 3 May - 21:37

Alongside Dusk, Lachlan watched as the caravan approached, straining to see the if he could discern any details amongst their dress, their weaponry, their horses, their carriages, anything at all that would tell him who they were or where they were from. It was not often that traders stopped over in Himmin, but when they did Lachlan enjoyed looking at their wares, examining the horses, sometimes purchasing the foreign foods they brought with them. More often than not Emira, Elyse’s mother and owner of the Stave, would send for Lach as soon as she caught wind of a troupe of traders coming in. Though he had never traveled, and though he had as little chance of understanding the foreigners as anyone else did, he seemed to be the best at communicating through signs and gestures. In the end he would negotiate the pay for the night’s stay and deal with any problems that arose through the language barrier. It was a relief for Elyse and her mother, at any rate.

As the caravan drew closer, however, Lachlan recognized the guards’ formation and uniform to be distinctly Lochsalanian. A little closer and he knew that this was not simply a trader’s caravan. There were likely noblemen seated comfortably in the central carriages.

“I’ll ask Emira if she needs my help with anything,” he muttered to Dusk as the first few carriages drew up. “They may be a…demanding crowd.”

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PostSubject: Re: Eoti--A New Beginning   Sat 4 May - 0:22

The barmaid hadn't even taken the extra moment to pull back the chair so Gregor could sit in it. He didn't know whether to respect her haste or scold her lack of manners. Fortunately, unlike some of the nobility in Lochsalan, he knew how to function without such things being handed to him, and on the exterior barely batted a lash at the social misstep. He calmly took up a seat across from Cira and, before answering her, offer, simply looked at him until their eyes made contact- enough to gesture in any inner regions bar that he was ordering service, though who really knew in a town like this.

On the other hand, Marik had clearly been prepping Cira for the political climate she'd be entering into soon. Somehow, as much as he respected Yild's more than enthusiastic accounts of her glowing patronage and kindness, he doubted that any nobleman but those within his own family (and not even many of them) would actually welcome him into their houses with any degree of cheer. As High Diplomat, his presence at a Lord's manor meant that someone was in trouble, and as a person Gregor's rise to power had not been one filled with petting puppies and sheltering orphans, even if it had been considerably more legitimate than much of Lochsalan's noble ilk. Either Cira was playing the cautious noble in her own right, or simply hadn't heard enough about him to know better. In either case, she would learn soon enough.

"I would have sent word ahead, but I'm afraid I've caught you while on formal business, which means I'm stuck with a good deal more subtlety than I'd prefer. We've joined our caravan with a group of Streehl merchants that frequent these parts, and some of our travelling companions are the sort that should not be seen too publicly in Lochsalan. Those of a... more southern, persuasion. You understand."

Those would be the passengers of the third carriage, none of which would leave said carriage as long as Gregor was around. As a diplomat himself, Gregor knew never to trust foreign diplomats in his own country without putting them under strict lock and key. Especially with the situation as tense as it was between Lochsalan and Ra. Thinking ahead, he had made sure to bribe one of the coachguard into watching the caravan. Also thinking ahead, he kept in mind that if this guard could be bribed by him, he could just as easily be bribed by the Ra'ans, and so was keeping an eye on the situation anyway, just in case.

As for Cira's offer... Gregor remembered Oakenhall only in the roughest sense. Its details in a dossier and a land contract, more than anything. But what he did remember was that it was a fair space from town. And a noble that needed distance between himself and the peasants had something to hide. Fortunately for Oaklear, his "secrets" were his own, until Gregor saw reason to make them otherwise. Unfortunately for Grregor, as much as a noble's home would no doubt beat the Stave for luxury, he didn't dare stay that far from the caravan.

"That said, as highly as I've heard Yildegarde speak about your father's lands, I'm afraid I must decline your gracious offer. Duty forces my hand." Not to mention how awkward a night it would be if Yild made his entreaty to Cira tonight, and didn't have his affections returned. Though, given Yild's nerves, the real danger was whether the proposal would get out at all. Not that Gregor couldn't help him along. And, cautiously gauging Cira's reaction, he decided to try. "Speaking of the young Lord. I don't know if you're aware, but he's been granted Governorship of Revelry by the Cezare. That would make him your new neighbor, figuratively speaking."

Not to mention Revelry's considerable size, or the margins for profit it held as a port region for whoever held the reigns. There may have been a danger in Yild's proposition to Cira, but if she declined, Gregor would only be half surprised if her own father proposed back instead. Greed was a powerful motivator for such men.
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PostSubject: Re: Eoti--A New Beginning   Sun 5 May - 13:12

Asleep.

He had fallen asleep.

Twenty and a half nivens without rest was no excuse for his diligence to succumb to the siren call of tedium that whispered through the prairie grasses of the Lochsalanian countryside, regardless of the need (or lack thereof) for his services. The young Lord was his charge, and one that he took quite seriously at that, yet despite his dedication he’d failed; it didn’t much help that his stolen dreams had lacked any substance or relevance. Naturally, Lord Yildegarde would likely wave off his inadequacies as if it was a trivial blunder, but that only made the matter worse. It was all, in a word, quite unacceptable.

“Have you seen Lord Yildegarde?”

It was a desperate question, but delivered with Zeyd’s signature mix of stoic professionalism and the busied focus of the travel hand to whom it was addressed, any such urgency was lost or ignored. Regardless, an answer came that directed him towards the expanse of fields to the north where, far in the distance, the lights of a settlement marked his way. If his self-directed briefing was correct, those were the lights of the Oakenhall- and Lord Yildegarde’s certain destination.

A stiff nod of thanks left in his wake, Zeyd was off not a moment later, setting his coat buttons as he moved at a brisk walk so as to straddle the sweet spot between practicality and presentation. As a guard first and anything else second, it was rare that anything took precedence over the former, but the situation had demanded it. Naturally, he’d found a means to nestle daggers into pockets and secure plating beneath his satin white garb regardless, but such was simply his nature. In fact, he knew little else.

Just a few years older than Yild himself, Zeyd was yet a young adult, but there was little about him that showed it. Faded scar marks dotted his face, field awareness occupied his gaze, and his platinum blond hair was always well kept out of a sheer need for practicality. Even his garb, though tailored and fit to match the young Lord’s, seemed like an uncomfortable shell for a straight-backed man who walked with deliberate, tactical steps. Still, for all his soldierly grooming, his was not a cold sort, but rather… oblivious. At least, that was the word Lord Yildegarde so often used to describe his unwitting social missteps. Zeyd didn’t mind, though; after all, what practical use were such things, anyway?

Moving quicker now as Lord Yildegarde and Lady Midas came into his sight, Zeyd managed to close the gap between them in no more than a niven, doing so with reflexively quiet footfalls. In all the years the young Lord had been under his charge, the amount of times he’d managed to unintentionally sneak up on him had become an impressive statistic.

“M’lord,” Zeyd called out once he trailed only a few steps behind. “I apologize for my absence; You should have woken me before you set out. You know that I’m not to let you travel around here without proper escort.”



(( Gah, it's not the greatest post, but it's all I can manage for now. ))

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PostSubject: Re: Eoti--A New Beginning   Mon 6 May - 18:40

From the ground, Yild sighed, and pushed his hair out of his face, seeing Zeyd for who he was. Even if he hadn't been already jumpy from the dark cornfield at night, he had never quite gotten used to his manservant's ability to sneak up on him. As it was, he had gone for his scabbard at the sound of Zeyd's voice, and been stopped only by the fact that Minoa went for it at the same time. The result, instead of a graceful defense, was Yild on the ground and Minoa holding a cornstalk in Zeyd's face as if it were a rapier.

"I thought we ditched snoopy at the carriages." As Yild dragged himself to his feet, brushing dirt from his vest, Minoa despite realizing her weapon as produce, poked Zeyd in the face with it nonetheless.

"We didn't 'ditch' anyone." Yild plucked a leaf from his hair and dropped it. "I should be the one apologizing Zeyd. You'd earned your rest after the long trip. I thought in familiar territory we'd be devoid of mishaps, but clearly we're not quite as on par as we should be."

"Ha," Minoa offered, and Yild shot her a dirty look. It wasn't that Yild had been avoiding Zeyd, per se. The man did his job well, and if the blundering mess he and his cousin had just displayed was any indication, Yild really shouldn't have been travelling alone so late at night (letting it slide that it was Zeyd that surprised them in the first place). But... As tactical as he was, Zeyd wasn't exactly the diplomat that Yild or his second-uncle managed to be. And tonight was very important. There was no doubt that Zeyd would find out about his intentions towards Cira, and Yild had hardly hidden his feelings about her from the manservant. But the topic of actually proposing, Yild had kept conveniently off the table around him. And it wasn't just because Yild was nervous enough about the idea without more eyes over his shoulders.

There was a long-standing tradition in Lochsalan, that was akin to a code among nobles: "Never enlist a sword sharper than your own." While it had shifted into merely a philosophy in much of Lochsalan, the code was taken literally by many, up to even the Cezare himself. While some of Khorsa's famed Imperial Guard were celebrities even in other nations, Lochsalan was the only country Yild knew of that boasted no imperial guard at all, relying entirely on its general military for such matters, and as a compliment to this, the Cezare himself was supposedly not just the leader of the nation but also one of its strongest warriors. Likewise it was considered a sign of weakness to be shown walking with heavy guard when meeting with another noble- as much as such things were widely ignored in the backstabbing pageant that was Lochsalanian politics.

In Yild's case, he did not doubt Zeyd's loyalty for an instant. He had proven that plenty of times. But as much as he wouldn't tell Zeyd as much to spare his feelings, Yild had little idea what Marik would think to see him with a personal guard during a marriage proposal. It was a bit embarrassing.

Whatever the case, it was too late to object now. Yild offered Zeyd a reassuring smile, and allowed the manservant's cooler head to prevail, making every assurance that he had not slacked in his duties and that Yild was glad to have him along. And, when the remainder of the trip proved uneventful, Yild was not entirely unconvinced that Zeyd's very presence had an impact on keeping them from harm. It at least felt that way. That, or any nightgoing bandits were driven away Minoa's griping, which, after a brief lull as she mussed about with her sword-corn, soon came back in full swing.

The actual Oaklear manor, in either case, was a sight for sore eyes. Yild straightened himself immediately as he approached it, adjusting his collar, and making sure the dirt was properly brushed off his clothes. The entranceway seemed uninhabited, but that was not unusual this late- though there was some evidence that other company besides himself might be over, which began to drag on Yild's nerves all over again. Hopefully nothing that would complicate this entire proposal affair even further. Speaking of...

"Zeyd, I have neglected to mention that there might be certain ah... negotiations, tonight, between myself and the Oaklears." By the spirits, if his father had already told Zeyd about Yild's plans, he would be getting the strictest talk of Yild's young life later. "I was wondering if you and Minoa might-"

Before the thought was finished, the loud and repeated rap of Minoa's fist on the front door echoed into the coming night instead. Grumbling, her hair a bit out of place, and a long cornstalk still in her hand, Yild thought his cousin took on her most annoying possible tone when she did shout at the window to whoever was inside.

"Open the door already, I'm running out of things to wreck on your porch!"
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PostSubject: Re: Eoti--A New Beginning   Mon 6 May - 22:26

A more ‘southern persuasion’; Ra’ans. Try as she might, Cira couldn’t deny herself the unsettling feelings she held for the small island’s inhabitants, for those whom she’d personally met had been of a less-than-savory disposition, while the stories she’d been told of the island itself did little to ease her mistrust. Regardless, it was not a topic she cared to discuss openly, and so she merely nodded again as the waitress wandered over, straightening her posture noticeably at the sight of them; it was a welcome distraction.

“I’m alright, thank you,” She told the server, offering up a smile to ease the poor girl’s nerves. It seemed to work ever so slightly, but the moment her focus shifted to Gregor the pressure was back, but Cira could hardly blame her. Politics had never really been her forte, but not for lack of skill. Even as a child she’d never cared to indulge in the world of false smiles and hidden daggers, and few things terrified her more than the hidden motives of those with the power to act on them.

Glad that the conversation had moved quickly onward, Cira folded her hands in her lap and shifted her focus instead towards Yild. She had to admit, the mere thought of hosting him at the manor had been a tumultuous offer on her part, though at no fault of the man himself. In fact, she found herself rather excited to see him again after such a long spell, but naturally it could never be so simple. With the title of Governor added to his name, at least she knew what to expect from her father regarding the young Slauth’s visit, but that was part of the problem.

“I’ve heard rumors, but I’m glad to hear it’s certain. I’ll have to congratulate him when I see him.” Her good will was nothing if not genuine, but on the eve of such an announcement, his stopover seemed a little too convenient.

Her stomach turned.

Father. He had something to do with this.

“You said you sent him to Oakenhall already, correct? Perhaps I should return to greet him since my father is out, or at least send someone to call him back.” Generally safe though Himmin was, it simply wouldn’t do to leave him wandering with an errand bestowed in mistake. That, and she rather wanted to catch Yild before her father had a chance to mediate, for that was sure to be just as difficult as it was unavoidable.




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PostSubject: Re: Eoti--A New Beginning   Tue 7 May - 17:22

Nobles in the Stave were a sight rarer than the red moon, but the novelty of their presence rarely dampened Elyse’s distaste for their sort. Between the way they looked down at her and the patrons, and their thinly veiled attempts as political correctness, it was rare that she found any pleasure in the way she jumped so cheerily at their command. Naturally there were exceptions, Cira Oaklear being one of them, but others were few and far between. In fact, had it not been for the effort on Cira’s part to set herself apart from her social kin, Elyse doubted that she’d have ever ventured to speak to the soft-spoken girl. Her father, however, was another matter entirely, and for a moment she wondered if he was even aware of his daughter’s whereabouts at the moment. It was no matter of hers, though, and Cira was welcome regardless.

“Mom!” Elyse called, being sure not to be too loud as she stepped into the backroom of the inn.

“Mom??” Poking her head around the corner, she stepped into the storeroom just in time to help her mother pull an aged crate from the top shelf.

“We’ve a… special guest.” She started, setting down the crate with a grunt while dust dispersed around them. “I think he’s acquaintances with Cira Oaklear; said he was ‘in need of lodgings for the night, among other arrangements’.” Her creative use of a posh accent was enough to signal just was kind of guest they were dealing with, but she still took care not to be disrespectful. Her mother might share the same opinion on nobles, but business was business.

“He wanted to speak with you. I was just on my way out, but I can stay if you need some help.“


----


There was something tense about the air in the Stave as Dusk entered behind Leland, and not just because of the debt he owed. All throughout the room voices were still speaking at a lively volume, but there was much more hushed chatter and dipped heads while momentary peeks were stolen towards one table in particular. Of course, one look and Dusk immediately understood, for it was rare enough that Cira Oaklear visited their humble hangout, but to do so in the presence of a man who looked to be of equal if not greater status was a true spectacle.

Curiosity piqued, it took Dusk a moment to force his eyes forward, following Leland with a slouch as he headed for the back. It was nothing short of a buzz kill for him to have to face up to his discretions so soon after committing them, but now was as good a time as any to offer up some good will.

“-I can stay if you need some help.” Came Elyse’s voice from the kitchen, and in the hopes of smoothing over their entrance, Dusk chirped up in response: “Did someone say ‘help’?”

It was a solid effort, but it didn’t quite work.

“Lachlan?” Elyse’s eyes trailed over his face with a mixture of surprise and confusion before shifting with a narrower focus onto Dusk.

“Leland… er, Lach thought that maybe you could use some help. And I…” Dusk chuckled nervously, fighting to find the right words. “… Well, me too. I kinda owe you one.”

Elyse nodded wordlessly, ignoring the slightly inquisitive look from her mother whom she’d evidently neglected to explain the situation to, making him feel both relieved and all the more guilty. Thankfully the attention quickly turned back to Leland, allowing him to drift quietly into his shadow.

“Well, I suppose some extra hands wouldn’t hurt,” She looked to her mother for confirmation before turning back to Leland. “It’s a nice night, though, are you sure you want to spend it here?”

Dusk almost chuckled.




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PostSubject: Re: Eoti--A New Beginning   Tue 7 May - 19:21

Lachlan strode determinedly forward, disregarding Dusk’s initial hesitation. He knew perfectly well that Dusk would much rather allow some time to pass before he faced Emira—or even Elyse—to pay his debt. But from the looks of things, Himmin had just become a rest stop to some very distinguished guests, and the Stave was not accustomed to catering to such high caliber patrons. Though Lach knew that Emira handled stress well and conducted her business with the utmost professionalism, nevertheless he doubted she would mind an extra pair of hands for the night, especially given the unexpectedness of their guests. And so with this in mind, he headed through the mild bustle of the tavern with Dusk at his heels.

The back kitchen was warm with a roaring fire, over which a black bellied pot of stew continually simmered. From the scraping sounds beyond, he guessed at Emira’s location in the pantry, and quickly spotted Elyse hovering at the doorway. It was clear she’d expected to have a night to herself, though freedom seemed rather far off with the incoming crowd.

“I’d hoped to catch you at a free moment, but if I can help that’s the next best thing,” Lach answered with a smile, trying to keep the heat from rising in his face. Nothing was quite as embarrassing as trying to talk to Elyse while Dusk was hanging around, looking in over his shoulder and continually telling Lach that he needed to make less subtle advances. “Besides…it looks as if you’ll have quite a night on your hand otherwise. And Dusk,” he nudged Dusk hard in the ribs. “Dusk really wanted to help out. It was his idea.”
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PostSubject: Re: Eoti--A New Beginning   Thu 9 May - 23:18

"I was not aware your father was away as well. I will have to apologize to Yildegarde later for such a fruitless quest." Gregor shook his head, but supposed that it figured in a way. Somehow he didn't imagine lord Oaklear would be overly fond of seeing his daughter in an establishment like the Stave. Had this been one of Gregor's own favorite taverns, the Tethered Willow in the capitol, he would have been served by the hostess twice over and had his every specification met by now. Instead, she had disappeared into the back, and was not doubt taking her time flirting with the boys who had trailed into the back themselves shortly after. Oh well. Such was to be expected from a relatively nowhere town like Himmin. How would Ra stack up in comparison, Gregor wondered.

At the rest of Cira's bold comment, Gregor could respect her eagerness, if not her clear attempt to flee their conversation for Yild in the night. It was fortunate she seemed just as excited as he was at a chance to speak to him (and probably, it seemed, without her father there to watch over their shoulders). Still, he couldn't imagine sending her out into the night in a place like Himmin alone, nor did he want to wind up forcing the two- he'd be optimistic and call them lovebirds- onto paths that would make them miss eachother twice in one night.

"I would implore you stay here, and wait for them. Yild is quite capable on his own, and I made sure he and his guard were both armed for the trip." And made just as sure that his daughter remained without a weapon- for Himmin's sake. "But if you are set on leaving, I must insist that I at least find you an escort. One of our coachguard was a pastor before his current occupation, and very honorable."

The rest of course were of the typical mercenary variety: some he found reliable, but others made him doubt the screening process that Streehl made its workers undertake before hiring. Still, there was a reason the one, Everett, had been left to keep the others in line. Sending him off might make the rest of them more lively, but if the fool barmaid would ever arrive back he'd see to that matter himself and not need to rely on the ex-pastor once more.

"I know it's improper of me not to take you myself, but unfortunately, if I leave this establishment to its own devices, I will likely end up leaving Himmin a full week from now, and with half the crew and my daughter included thoroughly hung over. You are-" Gregor caught himself before slipping and announcing Yild's intentions too early. "It is fortunate, that young Yildegarde is a great deal better at controlling his temptations. He is very level headed for his age, no doubt why he was granted such a high status so quickly. But, back on par, there is no reason to make your father worry further about you being alone at night- if not for him, please accept an escort to ease my own strained heart."

Now if only Minoa would follow Yild's cue, and help ease that strain herself.
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PostSubject: Re: Eoti--A New Beginning   Fri 10 May - 19:37

A shy but grateful smile crossed Elyse’s lips while Emira concealed a knowing look behind her, and had it not been for the sharp jab to the ribs that had him clutching his side, he was certain the moment would have turned awkward. At least, he thought, his pain was of relief to someone, then.

“I… yeah,” He winced, trying to play off Leland’s attack. “I thought it might be nice. You know, since you’re busy and all.” Of the pair, Dusk was certainly weaker with words, but Elyse nodded anyway (albeit slowly) apparently willing to give him a chance. His monetary debt, however, wasn’t something he intended to shirk, but that could wait. For now he was simply content to be back in the Stave without the full weight of guilt on his shoulders.

“Well, in that case,” Emira picked up, her weathered hands busy straightening her dress. “I’d best go greet our guest. Elyse, if you could bring one of the boys and tidy up the balcony suite while the other grabs a crate of Lafette wine from the cellar, that’ll get us started.”

Eyes as bright as her daughter’s, Emira nodded thankfully in Lachlan and Dusk’s direction before sweeping off with a smile so practiced that it was a wonder she could ever pull it from her face leaving the three in a momentarily awkward silence.

“Well,” Dusk picked up, hardly missing a beat as he turned towards the basement stairs. “I’ll just be off to the cellar, then.” Elyse, however, was having none of that.

“Oh no you don’t,” She interjected distrustfully, stopping him as he took his first step.

His back to the pair, the transition from a slight wince to a charming grin went unseen, but his request for a second chance at trust was unmistakable as he turned back to them, his fingers running once front to back through his hair the way they always did when he was nervous.

“Don’t worry about it, I’m here to pay you back, remember?”

Elyse didn’t look totally convinced, but if she had any reservations they went unvoiced as the redhead disappeared down the cellar gate.

“I guess that leaves us the suite, then.” She finally sighed, looking for only a moment to Lachlan before making for the stairs.

----

“You’ve travelled so far, I do not wish to strain you or your men any further, but perhaps it would be best.” Cira nodded, deciding it best to humbly accept Gregor’s offer rather than to shirk it. It was true that her father would not take lightly to her travelling alone, and it was usually better to keep him sated when possible. Besides, a travelling companion was sure to keep her from thinking too much.

Before the conversation could go any further, however, Elyse’s mother was at their table in a simple servers’ garb, though Cira couldn’t help but notice the improvements in her posture. She was quite pretty for her age, but there was definitely a village charm about her which was sure to be misinterpreted by one such as Gregor Midas. Still, her welcome was as warm as ever, and it didn’t take much to realize where Elyse’s manners had stemmed from.

“Welcome, m’lord, to the Oaken Stave; I apologize for the wait. I’ve been informed that you’re in need of lodging arrangements? If you would like, I can settle that for you and have some refreshments brought over in the meantime. We have a modest collection of rare aged liquors and wines should you be so inclined.”

Humble and genuine, but slightly lacking in the practiced confidence of a noble, Emira’s service was impressive to Cira, however she was certain Gregor wouldn’t quite feel the same.



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PostSubject: Re: Eoti--A New Beginning   Fri 10 May - 20:38

“I’ll draw some water,” Lach said as Dusk disappeared into the cellar, despite Elyse’s protests. The night was quickly falling, and with it came a slight chill to the air. He waved Elyse up the stairs, grabbed a water bucket from where it sat near the washbasin, and hurried out the kitchen door.

The pump was somewhat rusted, and rather difficult to work without a bit of muscle, but after a few moments a stream of icy water gushed forth in fits and starts as the pump rose and fell. Lach hurried upstairs, following the sound of Elyse’s footsteps, and soon arrived in the balcony suite, the best room the Oaken Stave had to offer. It was not a large room, but it would easily have catered to all of Lachlan’s siblings and half the other farmers’ children Lach shared the loft with back at Long Hall.

A bed, large enough for at least four people in Lach’s opinion stretched out at one end of the room. A thick set of brown curtains hung open about the bedposts, looking rather dusty and worn. Elyse had opened up the balcony doors to air out the room, but it still had the feel of a room long unused. Himmin did not see many travelers pass through in need of such spacious accommodations.

Setting the water bucket down along one wall, Lach took a rag from Elyse, wet it, and began wiping dust from the tall wardrobe on the opposite end of the room. “Almost like going out for a walk,” he said, standing on the tips of his toes to reach the top. “Almost finished baling the hay today. Might have a bit more free time after that. I could come down more.” He looked over his shoulder and suddenly grinned. It was a nonsensical grin, brought on by nothing more than the thought that Dusk was stuck below stairs, perhaps even running back and forth from bar to kitchen and taking care of the demands of Emira’s patrons, while he and Emira were alone. It was quiet, up on the second floor. Quiet without Dusk butting in between the two of them, obnoxiously making his presence known and commenting on Lach’s lack of ease around Elyse. It was good of him, Lach thought. Good of him to step out for a moment. And give them this small space of time.
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PostSubject: Re: Eoti--A New Beginning   Mon 13 May - 20:03

Pleased with Cira's acquiescence, Gregor offered her a reassuring smile, and patted her hand. No matter how he tried, their caravan would be in town at least another day- plenty of time to arrange a formal meeting between the younger nobles. Not as desirable, but if the Lord Marik Oaklear was out, it was probably for the best anyway. As dramatic as it may have proven in theater, no parent approved of secret romantic flings. He still remembered the one vagrant who had dared attempt such a courting with his own Minoa. Gregor had met with him privately, and politely offered him a a position in high society- instead of being a city guard, he was now the captain of a scenic, airy outpost on the closest mountain to the Treagan border. There were days the temperature almost rose above freezing, Gregor was told.

"Thank you for easing my troubled mind. One can never be too careful. Not with our southern guests about." As he finished the statement however, Gregor noticed the bar's matron at last approaching from the back. In the next instant, all traces of warmth had vanished from Gregor's face and stance, and he had fully returned to his professionalism as he heard her welcome. At least she had had the decency to provide courtesies for her tardiness. He wasted no time in reply.

"I will require two rooms, your largest and one smaller, with a window facing the road. They needn't be adjacent. I wake exactly fifteen nivens before sunrise, and am not to be intruded upon at any time before. I am here with a caravan of the Streehl corporation. You are not to accept a tab for any of the coachguard or passengers- require payment up front. No matter what they tell you, the merchant in charge has not put up a tab on their behalf, and will not be paying for anything they might purchase from you. Limit the coachguard to nothing stronger than whisky, and no more than to keep them buzzed- I will not have them hung over and delaying the caravan."

Mentally, Gregor clicked off each item as he said it, running down a list.

"My daughter will attempt to consume some amount of alcohol during the night, likely multiple times. No matter what amount she attempts to bribe you, she is to be given none..." For a moment, the image of one of the boys who had staggered into the back after the barmaid came to Gregor's mind. "...No matter your local customs on the matter. Any offer she does make from her purse I will return double in the morning for your discretion- I guarantee that she can not outbid my vigilance. If she does not acquire alcohol legally, she may attempt to swindle it. I will not be paying for anything she might imbibe in this manner, and trust you to keep your own watch to prevent it. My nephew is free to drink as he wishes, but if he is to order anything-"

Gregor paused, and noted Cira, choosing to whisper the last bit. "-See that it is watered down privately, as he does not hold his liquor well." He resumed normal volume. "As for myself, I'll have something from your cellar, not too young, and a piece of fruit, whatever's local. Leave the cork, I'm not sure how soundly I'll want to sleep tonight." Gregor's eyes slowly shifted to the tavern's front door as it opened. "You'll want to begin monitoring the coach now. That will be all."

And just as suddenly as he had begun, Gregor was finished with the hostess, and she lost all of his attention. His smile returned, and he offered his arm to Cira to walk with her as the first members of the coachguard began to shift into the bar. The white clothed mage led the way, walking backwards and offering a bawdy joke to the helmeted man, who did not laugh in return, but offered a silent nod of apology to the other barguests as the mage danced his way without looking and ran into several of them on his way in. The other guards that followed seemed more tired, but nonetheless a few men cheered at the sight of ready liquor. Fortunately, as Gregor had expected, the one he had in mind was not among the crowd.

"Now, madam, let us see about that escort. Everett does not drink, so we shall have to search the camp. If your lord father is not at home, would you know where he is, to be taken there?"
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