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 Tarel Soarvas

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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Wed 21 Dec - 0:07

Oh… oh, Valorie’s anger. It was only growing hotter with every word he spoke. And this time, even though Ensign saw it coming again, had no way to prevent it. The buffet of wind to his back was enough to drive the cold air right from his lungs, but when Valorie added her blow to the front, he absolutely crumpled to the ground, like a ragdoll without the strength to stand on its own two legs. And as he lay panting, winded, and dazed on the ground, all he could think of was that he was glad. Glad Lorne wasn’t here to see this and intervene. The unbridled power of Valorie’s anger would only have taken him down too. There were very few capable of restraining Valorie. And Katya…

A tear traced its way down Ensign’s cheek as he lay unmoving in the snow. Even when he heard Valorie slump to the ground at his side, he could not move for the sheer exhaustion that overwhelmed him and the ache that the chill wind had forced into his bones. He suddenly felt as vulnerable as Valorie had made him. Because Katya was gone. Yes. Yes… he was weak.

But Valorie was wrong about at least one thing. He did know just how alone she felt, because he’d felt it too. He’d been alone since the moment Frekki had wrestled him through that Gate off the Myrr as he’d kicked against him and screamed. Screamed that he would avenge her. Screamed that he would kill Frekki if he didn’t let Ensign go. Ever since they’d collapsed in a tangled heap in Himmin, Ensign had felt that stab of pain in his gut that sent bitter anguish coursing through him. And the oppressive silence that pressed in on him… reminding him how completely alone he was now that she was gone.

And then, unexpectedly, Valorie was at his side. Lifting him up a fraction of an inch, Ensign looked up as Valorie approached and pulled him up and into her lap, holding him close in a tight, tight hug. And he simply sat there, neither trying to push her away nor returning her hug. Because he felt as small, as young, as inexperienced, and as vulnerable as a child in her grasp.

“I’m sorry, Ensign. You don’t deserve this.” A rustle of snow, and Ensign felt the sharp sting as Valorie held a handful against his chin and mouth. “But… you’re in charge now. I’m trying to… deal with that.” Of course… Valorie had never wanted to see this day. Not because she held anything against him, but because it meant that Katya was…. “I don’t want you to die too.”

Valorie climbed to her feet, bringing Ensign with her, and this time Ensign moved with her so that she wouldn’t be left lifting dead weight. Straightening and brushing the snow from his jacket, Ensign simply looked on quietly as Valorie shook her head. She was as much a mess as he was. But now she seemed to know it.

She closed her eyes. “Hit me, Ensign. Hard.”

Breathing in deeply, Ensign felt the calm and confidence returning to him. Snow crunched under foot as he took one step towards Valorie and reached out to her, holding her face in one hand. Gently.

“Valorie… I’m not going to hit you.” And, leaning forward, Ensign kissed her lightly on the forehead. “We’re done tearing each other down.”
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Wed 21 Dec - 2:12

It was... just a little too nice.

He always had to be so... good. At everything. Valorie wouldn't say anything but she could almost feel it. The paragon aspect of Ensign. It was something to admire, but at the same time... Everyone was human. She wasn't one to talk much about reputation; but she liked how she was viewed, at least by the people that counted. At least, those that were left. And sometimes what people needed wasn't an ideal picture of goodness. Ensign was someone to aspire to, for a lot of people. But he wasn't someone she could feel empathy towards. Part of her hated that. And another part of her knew that it was a real concern, and that other people would feel it too.

But she didn't want to think about that. Even if it was too much; like dumping sugar on a cake, it was still sweet. All she wanted to do was sit and bask in Ensign's support for a second. And... well, fix his lip. Mostly though, it just felt good to, just for a second, feel accepted. Feel like they had a plan. Like they could pull this around.

If only it was a little more beleivable. But it would have to do. She didn't like it much, but Ensign did have a plan. And he was right. She needed to stop tearing him down, and at least *try* to go along with it. It was what Katya would have wanted. And it was the only way they were ever going to get anything done.

"You're... such a goody two-shoes." Valorie gently lowered Ensign's hand and stepped away. With a slow sigh, she looked at the damage she had done. "We might want to get you to a Healer. I wouldn't blame you for telling them what I did."

"But... I wanted to ask you about Dusk to. And what's going to become of him." Valorie paused. "I... was thinking... but no, the Healer first."

Good. Normal. She had never wanted it, but Himmin might actually even prove peaceful. In the back of Valorie's mind though, the thought nagged. She said that Ensign hitting her would convince her they could get through this. And, maybe, that was bullcrap. She couldn't know for sure. But by not doing it... Even as he made her feel releived about herself...

He also left her even more worried than before.
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Wed 21 Dec - 19:00

“Ah, well, you’re going to have to get past the Guardian first; he’s been looking particularly agitated this afternoon, too.” Tyrulan chuckled, nodding to a figure a couple hundred yards across the inner court tending to another patch of flowers near the east wall. Eygnis was his name, and though he looked like a Ra’an fellow in his late sixties, no one really knew where he came from. He spoke a ‘dialect’ of his own most of the time, anyway (if mumbles and raving could be considered such), and most of the grounds’ crew steered clear of him to boot. It wasn’t surprising, really, given that he was crazy, and the constant shake in his knee seemed to keep the kids away. Still, above it all, he was the only gardener that could grow such delicate plants in the tough Treaganish soil year-round like some sort of vegetation savant, and so father had kept him around, even building him his own quarters in the far corner of the southern courtyard. Tyrulan didn’t mind, though, he actually liked the quirky old fella. Eygnis and Ixiel, however, had been nurturing something of a rivalry for years.

“I wonder if he’s forgiven you yet for you latest indiscretion.” Folding his arms, Tyrulan half-smirked as he gave off a look of amusement, remembering Eygnis’ overreaction to Ixiel’s harmless suggestion about the garden. It had taken half an hour just to get the old grounds keeper to stop waiving his cane and then another half hour to revive him after what they were sure had been his eighth heart attack in the past year, and the dirty looks hadn’t stopped since. It was ‘his’ garden, his whole life, and he would die defending the placement, treatment, and apparent importance of every leaf and petal within it. Of course, Ixiel could never seem to help himself with such things, and so the battle continued. Gardening wasn’t Tyrulan’s things, though, and so he moved on quickly from the topic as soon as Eygnis noticed them staring.

With a heavy sigh, the young Zaaltoryn looked up at the overcast sky for a moment, breathing in deeply. He was already going stir crazy from the mere thought of being confined to the bastion for days, and even if Lachlan Fox’s warnings were true he was unlikely to be any safer there than anywhere else. After all, Ixiel was 'supposedly' the villain, so it didn't matter where they were.

“You look about as stressed as I am bored,” Tyrulan finally said after several seconds in silence. With a groan he lowered his eyes from the clouds to the gate, and finally to Ixiel. “I don’t think they would notice our absence if we’re only out for an hour or two. We can borrow a few bows from the target range, perhaps, just in case father has warned the storeman not to let out our hunting gear.” Father would, too. He knew his son too well, sometimes; it was often frustrating.

“Besides, it would be the perfect opportunity for you to kill me discreetly, anyway, right Majier Ixiel?”

Somehow managing to make such a dangerous statement into a playful jest with a tone that dared to be seriously addressed and yet was spoken so insignificantly at the same time, Tyrulan kept up his nonchalant grin, giving no hint as to whether or not his words were intended to have a less jovial intention. It was a joke; a means of poking fun at the wild accusations Lachlan Fox had made. He knew Ixiel better than anyone in the bastion, and Fox had yet to come forth with any proof of his accusations anyway. Besides, even if Ixiel was indeed a Mage, he wouldn’t be able to kill a family that treated him as one of their own, and the only reason he'd been able to say something so risque was because he knew it was crazy- silly, even.

Yes, it was obviously just a joke, right?

Right?


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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Wed 21 Dec - 20:45

Well, that had gone over… well.

He had been laughed at, mocked, disregarded, and finally shooed from the Zaaltor’s presence like an annoying fly, and yet he knew the offer which he’d come to extended as per Lord Gronellon’s wishes would at least be mulled over. Truth be told, he was hardly shocked to have received such treatment in the face of the ludicrous alliance proposal he’d been sent to relay, but it wasn’t his place to complain. He was just the messenger; a politician of sorts with a silver tongue to match the silver streaks in his ageing black hair, but he was more than happy to have been chosen for such an important task. He was one of the few whole-hearted supporters of what Grondellon what trying to do, after all.

Knowing that it would be best to let the offer mature overnight and return in the morning, the 40-something year old noble took in a deep breath and collected himself, wondering if he looked as tired as he felt. His posture, always maintained with elegance and assertion, was beginning to slip a little, and so he took care to fix it, not detracting at all from the friendliness of the laugh lines on his face and bright hazel tint of his eyes. He was a gentle man, caring, even, and it showed. Of course, an air of professionalism and nobility still hung about him like a cloak, but he didn’t wear it with arrogance. In fact, for the moment he wore it with fatigue, wanting nothing more than to shrug it off and rest until morning came and the negotiations resumed.

“Alright, Ettorin, shall we go visit that sweet stall you had your eye on earlier?”

The trip hadn’t been easy on his young daughter, but she had insisted that he not leave her alone with the maids, even only for the week. She was always so shy, sticking like glue to his side whenever she could, but he didn’t mind. With everything shifting around lately it was safer anyway, and besides, maybe she would finally open up and make a friend or two during her travels.

Getting no response from his initial offer, Rullan chuckled softly and glanced around. “Or we could go visit the river, if you prefer.” He started, finally taking a moment to glance around to find that the spot where he’d told Ettorin to stay was now empty.

“Ettorin..? Where did you…?”
Turning round a couple times to be sure he hadn’t just missed her, it didn’t take long for it to dawn on him that she was gone. Typical Ettorin.

“Just like your mother.” He groaned, running a tired hand down his face as he set off down the hall.

----

“Ettorin! There you are! You really need to start listening to me when I ask you to stay and…”

Jogging into the courtyard after nearly an hour of searching, Rullan hardly noticed that Ettorin was not alone until he was standing right beside her. Her company was a young man, seemingly harmless but slightly out of place in the way he was dressed. He certainly wasn’t a noble, nor was he a servant or laborer, and so it was with a slightly awkward nod of the head that he addressed the stranger, trying not to let the silence linger too long.

“Hello,” Was the first thing that came to mind; somewhat reluctantly. It felt almost as if he had interrupted a conversation which, given Ettorin’s shy nature, was something quite odd. She seemed quite content with her company, however, and so he decided to let her explain working somewhere between his protective instincts and his curiosity.

"And who might this be? A friend?" He asked her, looking for a moment to Lach before turning back to her.

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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Wed 21 Dec - 21:21

Lachlan watched the departing bird until it was fully out of sight, a question nagging at the back of his mind. Had he… had he sent it away? And if so, had it fully been on purpose that he sent it to Xalem? Without so much as a thought to explain its presence? True, the first thing he’d thought when he’d seen the birds was that they would be his only way to communicate with Xalem now. At least until he and Lady Ahlmir were released. But at the time, he wasn’t sure he’d been aware of the decision to send the bird to Xalem. Strange… how had happened so naturally. The bird had known what he’d wanted, even when he hadn’t.

“Ettorin! There you are!”

Straightening, Lachlan turned in time to see a well-dressed nobleman enter the courtyard, looking slightly out of breath and greatly relieved. He was middle-aged, with silver-streaked black hair combed neatly into place and the demeanor of a man at once friendly and stern. But there was also the suggestion of awareness in the set of his shoulders—awareness of his place in the realm of nobility.

“Tacha!” Ettorin jumped up at once and ran to the man, hugging him tightly as he became aware of Lachlan’s presence.

“Hello,” he ventured, and Lachlan was acutely aware of how his eyes raked over him, probing for answers. “And who might this be?” The man looked down at Ettorin, who had released him but still held lightly onto his hand. “A friend?”

“Tacha, this is Lachlan. And he can talk to birds.” As she spoke the words, the bird in Lachlan’s hand took to the air so hurriedly that it seemed to be motivated by a sudden fright. It fluttered upwards and settled, just out of reach, in the branches of its tree. “And he can teach me too. I want him to teach me how to speak to birds.”

Lachlan’s mouth fell slightly open in nervous incredulity. He had certainly not said that. “I… I didn’t say I could teach you.” His eyes rose to Ettorin’s father, and he shook his head. But before he could repeat himself, Ettorin spoke up again, looking up at her father.

“Tacha, I want him to teach me.”
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Wed 21 Dec - 22:07

“Tacha, this is Lachlan. And he can talk to birds.”

Talk to birds? Ettorin did have quite the imagination, but Rullan’s eyes couldn’t help but follow the little bird as it fluttered up from the young man’s hand and settled on the tree. Lachlan, she had said his name was, but Lachlan… who?

“I want him to teach me how to speak to birds.” Ettorin insisted, but a shake of the young man’s head and a short response confirmed that he could do no such thing. Even so, he didn’t seem to be denying what she was saying about him: that he could ‘speak’ to the birds. It was a rare talent (if he truly possessed it), but he wasn’t about to jump to any conclusions just yet. The last thing he needed was to start making unwelcome assumptions in a place where he was already walking on thin ice.

“I don’t think he can teach you, Ettorin.” He smiled down at his daughter as she looked up at him with pleading eyes, somehow expecting him to grant her wish. “He said it himself.” Not wanting to turn her pleading on the young man, Rullan quickly changed the subject, looking to Lachlan with a diplomatic smile.

“My apologies. She’s usually quite shy, so I suppose that speaks to your character.” It was true, for a young girl, Ettorin was quite the little judge of character; if she was willing to break her bubble and speak with someone it was generally for a good reason. Of course, he could never be too careful.

“Rullan Mith.” He introduced himself, face as friendly as ever as he extended his hand for a shake.

“Lachlan, right? Lachlan…?”


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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Wed 21 Dec - 23:14

Funny as it seemed, Lachlan was immensely relieved when Ettorin’s Tacha chuckled at her request and gently let her down. “ I don’t think he can teach you, Ettorin.” The girl pouted a little, seemingly unwilling to take a ‘no’ from anyone but her Tacha. Now that he’d told her it couldn’t be done, however, she seemed willing to drop the idea, though Lachlan couldn’t help but notice how her eyes still wandered up to the bird’s perch above his head.

“My apologies. She’s usually quite shy, so I suppose that speaks to your character.”

Smiling slightly, Lachlan dipped his head in acknowledgment. He didn’t know what he’d done to gain Ettorin’s favor, but he had felt at ease speaking with her. It was a quality he thought he’d lost in recent years: his sense of ease around children. With Ettorin, though, he’d felt about as calm and comfortable as he could in the heart of the Bastion, with Ixiel near at hand and questioning his sanity. In that light, Rüllan’s words meant quite a bit to Lachlan.

Stepping forward, Lachlan took Rüllan Mith’s proffered hand and shook it, looking into the nobleman’s eyes carefully—ready to look away if he sensed the slightest disapproval at his boldness in doing so. He’d gained Ettorin’s approval. And her father seemed to be leaning in the same direction until… “Lachlan, right? Lachlan…?”

The question became stale as it hung in the air, unanswered for several moments as Lachlan lowered his hand, the look on his face rapidly changing to something altogether unreadable. The only thing that was clear was that he did not want to answer with his full name.

Ettorin’s curious eyes were on him. Questioning, not accusing. Allowing this small insight to bolster him, Lachlan looked back to Rüllan Mith and spoke quietly. “I am Lachlan Fox the Younger.” Ettorin’s eyes widened fearfully, and she shrank back to find refuge behind her father, her grip tightening on his hand.

Internally, Lachlan recoiled from her reaction. He wanted to take it back, say it had been a joke or a nasty coincidence. But he couldn’t. Floundering for words to justify himself—that he was similar to his namesake in name only—Lachlan found that nothing came readily to him. He could only cling to the hope that his name was not worth more to Rüllan Mith than who he’d shown himself to be thus far.
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Thu 22 Dec - 0:23

Lachlan’s reluctance to answer had been answer enough for Rullan, so much so that he had moved to interrupt the young man before he’d been forced to say any more, but the Old Treaganish noble had to admit that there was something in the way Lachlan hadn’t shied away from answering. Ettorin’s reaction, though it was one had had hoped to avoid, was nothing if not expected, but as she stepped behind him for shelter he could only chuckle, placing his hand on her head to bid her calm.

“I suspected so. You’re a Speaker, then?” It was less of a question than a statement as Rullan nodded knowingly to himself as if the whole situation was not only clear, but casual.

“Ettorin,” He chuckled, crouching down to meet her at eye level. “A name is just a name, remember?” It was his own personal motto (one of many), and though he knew it had the potential to be viewed as naive, it had gained him many friends over the years. Non-judgmental Treagans were becoming a dying breed with the looming escalation of war- and with it, Mage-Common relations- but he wasn’t about to jump on the bandwagon; Not even in the face of a Fox.

“Sorry, things have been getting a little uneasy in the Capital lately, and when people start to get scared they like to scare others, too.”

Rising to his feet with a groan, Rullan ruffled Ettorin’s hair a little with his hand before turning back to Lachlan, the smile on his lips having diminished slightly but never once fading. The grandson of the Melrakki himself, huh? He was hardly as menacing as the stories had told, but that was hardly surprising given the outlandish nature of some of them. In fact, except for a moment of unexpected boldness, he came across as rather timid. He was a Fox in name, but if the similarities ran deeper than that, he had yet to see it.

"So it really is true what they say, then, you are a Speaker?" Another rhetorical question, but this time less assured. The argument had been sweeping across the lips of gossiping nobles ever since the news from Arathorn's 'inauguration' that he really wasn't a Speaker; that it was a hoax. Somehow it didn't feel right to bring up the lord of the Blackshirts, though, and so he left it alone, curious but yet unwilling to prod Lachlan about his purpose there in the New Treaganish court. It would have to come up eventually- he was pretty much obliged to find out what he could as Lord Grondellon would surely want to know- but that could wait until Ettorin had calmed down and Lachlan felt more comfortable.

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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Thu 22 Dec - 1:08

Rüllan’s reaction was nothing like Lachlan had expected. A calming hand on his daughter’s head and an unperturbed musing that his hunch had indeed been correct. That was all. It was… almost like he was being rewarded for trusting the nobleman with his identity. What would Cira have said? That he shouldn’t have worried in the first place? That he needed to learn to loosen up a little? Perhaps this was proof that she was right.

Rüllan Mith crouched down at his daughter’s side, comforting her with a well practiced quote that the little girl seemed to have heard dozens of times already. “A name is just a name, remember?” And when she nodded, Lachlan found himself nodding too. A name is just a name. There weren’t many who would claim that. In the royal courts, a name meant the difference between trust and distrust. It meant credibility or dubiousness. Ixiel had thrown that fact right in his face. And as for Recide… the whole crux of their plan rested on the name Lachlan’s grandfather had carved out for himself and handed on down through the unwilling generations. And yet, it was just that: a name.

“Sorry, things have been getting a little uneasy in the Capital lately, and when people start to get scared they like to scare others, too.”

Surfacing from his musings, Lachlan looked to the nobleman and nodded. “It’s all right.” And, turning to Ettorin (who had consented to come out from behind her father), added, “I’m sorry if I startled you.”

Ettorin did not answer, though. It appeared he had yet to fully regain her trust. Regardless, Rüllan seemed not to have run out of questions for him. “So it really is true what they say, then, you are a Speaker?”

“I am.” He felt almost guilty for not having confided in Ettorin the source of his skill before now. “One of two.”
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Thu 22 Dec - 1:57

“Two!?”

This managed to raise Rullan’s brows in surprise, having heard nothing of it despite his rather high status in the New Treganish court. Every large event, whether it was in the public eye or not, rarely went unnoticed, and news that not just one, but two Speakers yet existed, was certainly above and beyond what he considered ‘large’.

Having to mentally dam the surge of questions rising up in him, it was a moment before the noble spoke again, his hand rising instinctively to his chin where not a trace of beard was to be found. It wasn't that he couldn't physically grow one, but since Ettorin had told him not-so-eloquently that it made him look like 'grandpa' the last time he'd forgotten to shave, he'd developed a complex. After all, 'grandpa' looked nearly ten years older than he was, and being that Rullan himself was overdue for a mid-life crisis, he wanted to avoid any such catalysts for as long as humanly possible. As such, he couldn't help but revel in the interesting turn of events the day had wrought, hoping to prolong it and thus postpone what was sure to be a long and worrisome night.

“Well, I daresay you’ve managed to make a tiresome day much more interesting, Lachlan. Perhaps you wouldn’t mind joining me and Ettorin this evening at the manor we’ve been granted residence in during our stay? I must warn you, my curiosity may be playing a small role in the offer, but I find that a meal is much tastier when enjoyed with welcome company.”

He had to wonder, what would the other nobles think of him extending such hospitality to a Mage- and the grandson of the Melrakki, no less? They would turn their noses up at the very thought, he was sure, and even more fuel would be added to the fire they had been trying to desperately to light underneath him for years. Grondellon himself would likely consider stripping him of his very nobility, though only to save face. After all, the Lord of Old Treaganland didn’t like him much to begin with, but there wasn’t a soul around as handy with Mage-Common relations as he which, with all the Mages coming to visit his Lordship lately, was the saving grace of assets. Of course, they always kept him in the dark about everything and anything he wasn’t required to know, but so long as he acted the fool, he got to maintain his post while doing a little digging of his own behind the scenes allowing him to deal with the more sensitive issues before the more judgmental political minds even caught wind of it. Well, most of the time, at least.

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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Thu 22 Dec - 15:28

“Two?!”

Rüllan’s eyebrows shot upwards, the amazement upon his face causing him to appear years younger. Lachlan got the distinct feeling that he had caught the nobleman quite by surprise, though in a pleasant way. For a moment, he almost looked like a fisherman who had the problem of bringing in more fish than his nets could hold without snapping. But there was nothing in the way of greed on his face, whether it was for information or otherwise. Instead, he seemed to be restraining himself as he raised a hand to scratch thoughtfully at his chin. His face quite transparently showed that Lachlan had just opened a whole avenue down which he longed to wander and explore. But to do it in proper comfort and with time on their side seemed to be his concern.

“Well, I daresay you’ve managed to make a tiresome day much more interesting, Lachlan. Perhaps you wouldn’t mind joining me and Ettorin this evening at the manor we’ve been granted residence in during our stay? I must warn you, my curiosity may be playing a small role in the offer, but I find that a meal is much tastier when enjoyed with welcome company.”

Lachlan felt his last reserves of caution seep away as aches and chills do before a fire. It was a combination of Ettorin’s innocent brown eyes gazing up at him in expectation and the genuine quality in Rüllan’s voice. Everything he had experienced short of Xalem in the last several years taught him that it was a foolish thing: to trust. And yet the longing to do just that was so intense that Lachlan found he could do nothing but submit.

“I wish I could, my lord. But I am confined to this palace… until a few things have been settled.” It seemed somehow wrong to turn down the offer, but as much as Lachlan regretted it, there was no getting around the Zaaltor’s orders. The only thing he had to console him was the thought that Ixiel was trapped just as he was. There would be no running off to Ospero for him either.

--

Morgan could do little more than stare in light of the very strange and… perverted… reaction Aleph gave to the shattered glass and his bleeding hand. He… was actually enjoying the pain. Pleasure ran through his mind and straight to Morgan as pricks of glass embedded into Aleph’s hand. Really? For a moment, Morgan wondered if Aleph were messing with him. The pain was there. Could the pleasure be faked? No… it was too… raw. Too raw to be a scheme.

This psycho actually enjoyed pain? Morgan… actually didn’t know what to do with the thought. Alberto didn’t seem too chuffed at the idea of pulling all of the splintered glass out of his bleeding hand, but the pain itself was….

A sliver of glass hit his forehead—so lightly that Morgan almost didn’t feel it—and fell to the ground at his feet. Clapping a hand to his forehead, Morgan pulled away his fingers to find a prick of blood, though he couldn’t be sure if it was his or Aleph’s. Bristling, he wiped the blood away on a handkerchief as Aleph continued flicking shards of glass at him, taunting his lack of preparation.

Aleph stood, and Morgan squared his shoulders, facing the Mage straight on. It galled him that Aleph was right about his clothing, though. He couldn’t go marching into the Lochsalanian capitol wearing his uniform. Aleph seemed to be taking a bit too much pleasure in ordering him around, though. And when he raised his hand to wipe his bloody hand on Morgan’s shirt, Morgan turned to intercept his arm, holding it in a vice like grip. “Touch me again, and I’ll have you hacking your own hand off with a knife,” he growled. “Maybe you’ll enjoy it. But that won’t change the fact that you’ll be short one hand.”

Shoving Aleph away, Morgan turned away and exited the bar. How he hated that Aleph was right.

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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Thu 22 Dec - 19:14

Well now, that didn’t sound good. Though ‘confined’ didn’t seem to quite equate to ‘imprisoned’ in Lachlan’s case, the tone of his voice suggested that it wasn’t a voluntary sentence. Come to think of it, Rullan had noticed an over-abundance of questions from the guards on his way in and nearly double as many men on post as would have been normal, but he hadn’t pursed the source of their escalated security in the interest of being diplomatic. If Lachlan Fox was there, though, there were more than enough reasons to be on edge. The question was, why was he there in the first place?

Once again finding neither the time nor place to be appropriate to outright ask, all Rullan could do was sigh and work around Lachlan’s situation.

“Well, what if we hold the dinner here, then? I’ve already been given the option of a room here through the embassy, and I’m sure the offer hasn’t been retracted yet.” He hoped, anyway. The Zaaltor hadn’t seemed to care what he did, so long as he removed himself from the throne room before they were forced to outright laugh in his face at the message he’d brought. No doubt it would be fine so long as he kept out of sight and mind for the remainder of the evening.

“I’m sure the cooks here are outstanding, and Ettorin seems to be itching to explore the place,” A wry smile down at the girl was enough to convey his message that only now, with his permission, was it okay to do so.

“but only if you promise to be careful and not to go far, right?” It wasn’t a question, but he wasn’t stern enough to make it a statement. Moving on before she could answer was just as good, however.

“So, how about it? Feel free to decline, it don’t wish to pressure you.” He chuckled. “Sometimes I have to remind myself that being a politician is only a job.”

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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Thu 22 Dec - 19:22

Ixiel didn't laugh. For one thing, laughing was the most obvious possibly way to show nervousness. And trying to laugh at a situation that put his family in harm's way in its investigation just wasn't Ixiel's style. Sure, personal danger was nothing. But the way Lach had gone about it, the whole dang Roansfeld family might get a proper screening. Them, at least, having nothing to hide didn't mean it wasn't an uncomfortable idea- and there was nothing that got gossips going more than the idea of treason and drama in the high courts.

"Ty, this is bothering me more than ya think," Ixiel admitted. And... actually, that was a bit of a lie, as much as it made sense. He was confident enough, at least, that Lach's crazy claims would fall short. But that didn't mean he couldn't take a good hard look at his own conundrum and have wild concerns. "What bugs me is that it's so beleivable. There's a long hist'ry of noble familes oustin' their leaders all over the place. The Roansfelds ain't even close to the top of the line, but turn it into a conspiracy and who knows whats all involved."

"I don't mind bein' pried at all too much." Because he covered his tracks far too well for them to be found, and he knew it. but that was beside the point. Even if this had been for something else, Ixiel wasn't the kind of person who obstructed proper justice. Just because the Roansfelds hadn't been put on trial before didn't mean that they weren't prepared to be. Politics was tricky business. His parents didn't know anything about Recide... and as far as Ixiel knew, they were honest folk besides. That's how they raised him after all. But just because his family was... "But this has a right good chance to turn into a regular witch hunt. And no matter how kindly the Roansfelds take to it, there are some people who would get mighty angry if they were accused of gettin' caught up in this business."

Ixiel sighed, and thought he saw a smile on Erygnis face that disappeared as quickly as it had come. The old coot probably thought he was sighing in defeat about the garden. "But yer right. Stressin' up like this ain't getting us any nicer prey." Ixiel shrugged, and tried to put a grin onto his face. "A bit of huntin' might fix that right up. I'm in if you are: I can't get in any more trouble than high treason anyway, right?"
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Thu 22 Dec - 21:50

"Hey, don't mess with my hands!" Aleph ignored the rest of Morgan's threat, but caught that particular detail. Why were people always slicing off his hands!? Seriously! He could never just get stabbed like a normal person. always straight to the hands.

But while Aleph was busy rubbing his wrist and cringing at the memory, he realized that Morgan had already left. Growling, Aleph left the bar after him, wondering how crazy (or stupid) the Blackshirt was, just barging out into the street with blood on himself. Had Aleph not emerged a minute later, and made his own subtle effort to draw attention to his damaged hand, he was sure that half the town guard would have been on them in moments expecting a murder.

"You really don't get out much, do you?" Aleph couldn't repress another small growl. "This *is* an occupied village, moron. You're lucky no one cares much about your boss here or you probably would have been stoned by now. But that doesn't mean you should push your luck."

Ignoring his early warning, Aleph pushed Morgan towards the boutique across the way, at this point not caring how stained it left the clothes. At least with his arm around Morgan like this the townsfolk would think whatever bar-fight they had was resolved and not probe any further. ~And yes, Morgan, that's why I'm willing to touch your filthy ass. Be grateful.~

He didn't give the Spiritmage much of a chance to recover or retaliate though, sweeping him inside the small, classy boutique and closing the door with his good, non-bloody hand as a matter of etiquette.

While not overly impressive, the store was a quaint, stylish little place, with dresses clearly intended for small town weddings in one window, and eqally dapper suits in the other. Luckily it did not seem entirely devoted to the act of marriage or, Aleph knew, the idea of the two men wandering in there after an apparently long day of drinking would likely have raised many more eyebrows did it did. As it were, there were several other vestements on display, of all variances of classy... Above, of course, the peasant grunge that Morgan and most poorer townsfolk seemed content with. In fact, this particular town seemed underappreciated, even considering the slightly higher than standard degree of local wealth.

The shop's two staffers were clear from the moment he and Morgan entered, to the chiming of a tiny silver bell over the door. The first, a young girl of certain, quiet beauty, looking to be a few years less than Aleph's own age, was clearly unoccupied at the front of the store, affixing a recently finished gown on a small hanger on the wall. The second, who shared the dark hair and freckles of her daughter but was obviously several decades older, had to be the store's owner- 'Madam Floren's' had been on the sign above the door. She was hard at work in the back, a few needles in her mouth as she carefully stictched up a neat red suit, with a few too many ruffles around the sleeves for Aleph's taste but just the right amount of red.

The obvious move would be to approach the girl- but Aleph knew better. Two men walkng straight from a bar and immediately moving towards the lone, vulnerable young girl? That reeked suspicious like Morgan reeked... Period. Besides, younger also meant that she had less experience, and that she wasn't the one in charge who could fit them with the quick clothes they needed. Casually bypassing the girl, Aleph made his way to the back of the room, and waited for the woman to finish a stitch before politely stepping over.

"Madam," Aleph started, and waited for her to remove the needles from her mouth and give him a scrutinous expression before he continued. Clearly his bloody hand and... Morgan, period, were not making the best first impression. But his own nice clothes seemed to be enough to convince her that he was an actual customer; ironic, given Morgan was going to be footing the entire bill himself. Aleph had mentioned that, right?

"Pardon the intrusion. My friend and I are going to be venturing inland soon; back from a ship christening down in Bugoba. But there were some delays, and I'm afraid we're run a bit low on... proper attire for the capitol." Aleph dropped the capitol itself at the end; placed too early, it looked like a boast, but dropping it this way... Well, it implied her clothes were suitable for the very center of the nation. Which, nearly, they were. Had their been time for something proper to be whipped up for the both of them, he was sure he could walk into the royal palace with it; though unless he was particularly taken with what he received, he still intended to make a second stop once they were there.

"I know it's a bit of a rush job, but would you consider an immediate fitting for my friend and I? We've several days ride ahead of us, but heaven knows if we get there in these old things it will cause quite a scandal. Appearance and all that." Aleph shot her his best winning smile. Technically, his shirt was from a custom designer in the capitol itself. But... it was also very, very well worn, and had been used for more flat out brawls than fancy parties.

"I suppose I might be able to whip something up..." The woman said 'something' like a throwaway, but Aleph could already see the glint in her eyes. "For the capitol, you say?"

"That's right." Aleph kept his nice, unimposing smile. "We hope to be there within a few days."

"A few days..." The woman mumbled to herself, and Aleph knew that in itself was just another boast. There were very few carriages capable of making the long journey to the nation's center in only a few days, and most of them were the armored chariot-wagons ridden by Lodewijik's own private court. That they were Gating there... did not need to be brought into the picture.

"Well," the woman gained her composure back all at once, becoming all business. "I suppose you have the money for it?"

"We do." Aleph tried not to smirk at the idea of draining Morgan's coiffers like this. He failed.

"Then I can seat you now. Malin!" The girl at the front perked up. "Malin, sit this man down and take his measurements. We've got a rush job on our hands." She nodded at Morgan, and set down her needles. "I'll take yours here."

Aleph managed to hold back a chuckle. Had Morgan been reading the woman's mind, he suspected that the reason Aleph was being handed off was that he looked considerably more savory than the brute-ish soldier. Madam Floren wouldn't want her dear Malin associating with a ruffian if she could at all help it. And of course, Morgan would be a proper bloody gentleman about it or else. There was no other place in town they could get what they needed, and if he didn't behave, hands would be the least of his worries.

Just as this darling looking girl was now the extent of Aleph's.

"Milady." He gave her a small bow and stood with his arms out, immediately ready for a fitting as she was still drawing out her measuring implements. He could see a small blush on her face- not one who did measurements often, then, unless Aleph's own good looks and manners were doing the job. But he said nothing, and waited for her to finish, while Madam Floren herself got to work.
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Thu 22 Dec - 23:19

Lachlan didn’t know whether to feel humbled or worried at the lengths Lord Rüllan Mith seemed willing to go to in order to acquire his company for the evening meal that night. Few others were willing to make eye contact with him, it seemed, whether because of his status as a Mage or a Fox. Rüllan Mith, on the other hand, was persistent. And though he’d made sure to add that he didn’t wish to force Lachlan’s hand, Lachlan still knew it would appear rude to decline.

“Of course, my lord,” he answered, inclining his head to show his thanks. “But… I wonder if I might… if it would be all right for another to join us? One Lady Dahlia Ahlmir of the Council.”

--

Lachlan made sure that he and Lady Ahlmir arrived at the dining hall early, not wishing to keep the Lord Mith waiting. His meeting with the Treagan nobleman had changed something in him, and when he walked, he now did so with his chin raised slightly higher than before. Instead of assessing the ground as he walked (as Saelze, the late First Princess of Ra would have said, for dropped change) he walked with the quiet confidence it took to look passersby in the eye. Respectfully, of course. And to go with this newfound confidence, the prospect of seeing Ettorin again had put an extra spring in his step.

Before leaving the Miths to find his way back to his quarters, where Lady Ahlmir awaited his return, Ettorin had drawn him aside and told him sternly, in no uncertain terms, that he was not to hide such important things from her anymore. It was so cute that Lachlan couldn’t help but chuckle a little. “To you, from now on, I promise I’m an open book.” He had the feeling that, after her father’s gentle reminder that names were nothing more than names, what had scared Ettorin more than anything was that she had not known. Certainly, it was a nasty shock—just as it had been for Lachlan himself when he’d found out. To be associated with someone as notorious as his grandfather… it was not pleasant. And thus, the little girl’s reaction was understandable.

But they had parted on good terms, Ettorin eager to explore and Lachlan wondering how he was going to find his way back. His memory had served him well, though, and by the time he returned, he found that he had enough time to relate his unexpectedly fortunate meeting with young Ettorin and Rüllan Mith to Lady Ahlmir.

And now, stepping into the small dining room set aside for guest use, Ettorin was again the first one he saw. Rushing up to him the moment he set foot in the room, the little girl looked him up and down and announced, “You haven’t dressed for dinner!”

Lach looked down at himself. Indeed, he had not. The only thing that had changed in his wardrobe since he’d last seen her was that he’d shed his heavy winter overcoat. Beneath was the button-up shirt he’d traveled in all week. It was at least slightly more high end than he was accustomed to, though… having come from Recide, he thought distastefully. “So I haven’t!” he exclaimed, looking down at his wrinkled shirt. “I completely forgot!” Leaving her with a wink, Lachlan turned to her father. “My lord, this is Lady Dahlia Ahlmir. Lady Ahlmir, Lord Rüllan Mith.”
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Fri 23 Dec - 21:33

Ensign chuckled as Valorie stepped away. A goody-two-shoes, huh? Well, she’d been calling him that for a while now. It was nothing new, and so Ensign didn’t let it bother him. Besides, she would just have to deal with his over-whelming niceness. Jeez, what a pain for her! Or… she could take the reminder that none of them had much in the way of morale left at the moment. And to chip away from within… would get them nowhere.

The snow in his hand having melted by this point, Ensign stooped down to grab a fresh handful for the walk back, noting a dull pain in his back as he did so. He wouldn’t say anything to Valorie… but sometimes he wondered if she knew her own strength. Or maybe by now she was immune to the minor aches and pains that came with hard falls.

“Healer, yes. But…” Ensign hesitated, strangely curious about Valorie’s sudden interest in Dusk. How did she even know him in the first place? He assumed she’d known him before the awkward events of that morning. “As for what’s going to become of Dusk… I’d say anything that he wants. Right now, I’m not quite sure what that is… or if he himself knows. I’m not even sure if he’ll be sticking around very long.” He looked over at Valorie, wondering if she could handle the news about Dusk’s apprentice. Perhaps it was a sign that she’d slept through the whole episode. “He could be gone by now for all I know.”

Reaching Keiro’s doorstep, Ensign paused and turned to look at Valorie, not sure if she intended to step inside with him or not. If not, though… “I’ll only be a minute, so don’t go anywhere. You may not feel like you deserve to meet Link yet, but he wants to meet you. So if you’re done wallowing in feelings of undeserving, that’s exactly where I’m taking you.”

“What did she do?” were the first words Ensign heard as he stepped into Keiro’s small kitchen. Rolling his eyes, Ensign stepped over to the table and leaned against it, putting on a casual face.

“Nothing. What gave you that idea? I slipped on a patch of ice. Busted my lip right open. Nicärin, could you go find your father for me?”

The little boy peeped out from under the table and made a face at the sight of blood dribbling down Ensign’s chin. “Does it hurt much?”

“It stings a little. Where’s your pa?”

“I’m coming, I’m—“ Gärrin stopped short at the sight of Ensign. “What did Valorie do?”

Snorting, Ensign drew out a chair and sat down. “Nothing! I slipped and fell outside. Would you mind…?” He motioned to his bloody lip as Gärrin, looking none too satisfied with Ensign’s answer, strode over to oblige him.
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Fri 23 Dec - 22:53

Gone!? What the hell was Ensign think-

No, no. Valorie reminded herself that she was going to have to try harder to go along with Ensign's plans. Even when it might mean allowing an incredibly dangerous mage in an unstable state of mind to run back to the Myrr, reveal their location to Arry-boy, and rain down blackshirted death upon everyone. No biggie. She could still take em. Most of em. Well, if she took down ninety-eight out of a hundred, then the rest of the Council would still have to take on the other two. The sad part was still wondering whether they could manage that.

But Dusk wasn't going anywhere. For once, Ensign had a less than optimistic take on things, and it was, clearly, an opinion. From what she had actually seen of Dusk, he really *didn't* want to leave. He was as lost as a fire throwing little puppy could be, but however conflicted he was, he seemed desperate enough to consider the Council, battered as it was, a real refuge. So she didn't see him running away anytime soon. At least not until he had gotten through his obvious bout of 'extremely annoying angst syndrome'.

At the idea of 'wallowing', Valorie growled, but before she could make a witty retort (and she always made witty retorts, so this annoyed her to no end), Ensign was already inside the building, leaving her alone in the snow.

Having nothing better to do, and not eager to head inside again any time soon, Valorie tried to wonder exactly what kind of person would have won Katya's affections. He could have been a warrior- some seven foot tall behemoth, with a giant, flaming axe, that he had used to rain destruction down onto his enemies in during a great war in some place she'd never heard of. But no. Katya was an intellectual. So, maybe someone else smart? A brilliant scholar, who had devised a cure to a bajliion and a half diseases, and fixed the common cold? Or a tactician that had managed to take over a whole company, or an empire!?

What if he was a jerk? What if he thought she was a jerk? What if he was a mute? Or blind? Or deaf? What if he was as strong a mage as she was? What if he was a reaaaaaally old man? Or a really, really young guy? Or a tree! what if he was a tree, and Val was actually part redwood!?

...Yeah, no. Even Katya wouldn't be radical enough to have the first human-plant marriage in history. So he was probably a human. But past that, and a name... a first name, not even a last one, she had nothing to go on. All she got was "Link". Link. It sounded heroic enough, somehow. But it did have... implications. After all-

Wait. Wait, no that wasn't possible. But it made sense. Even if he had done something terrible in the past, the only guy that could possibly be right for Katya was Link Jacobs. *The* Link Jacobs. The legendary one. He must have lived thousands of years, and reformed his ways... and Katya was helping him! That was it! Which meant she was about to meet a legend as old as time itself. To meet-

LINK.

JACOBS.

Hardly thinking about it, Valorie pounced on Ensign- err, carefully, and not actually bowling him down, as he left the building again, suddenly feeling very excited to the point that she didn't even wonder whether he'd told them all she clobbered him.

"You're right Ensign! No wallowing." Valorie curled one hand into a triumphant fist. "I'm ready to meet the legend!"
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sat 24 Dec - 0:02

Well, well. This was quite a change from the Valorie Ensign had left outside not five minutes ago. Ready to meet a legend? Well… that was certainly one way to look at it. In fact, now that he thought about it, Valorie was right. If whispers began to circulate (as was all too possible now that Katya was gone and a few people had been let in on the secret), Link might find himself the center of a legend. After all, it wasn’t every day the High Mage was able to hide even the smallest aspect of her personal life from the Council—and, by extent, the rest of the world. What Katya had accomplished in marrying Link, having a child, and raising her as she had—all in complete secrecy no less… it was unheard of.

Ensign chuckled to himself at the thought. Yes… unheard of.

Regardless, if word got, it would come to be something of a legend, Ensign was sure. Perhaps he should have taken better notes while he’d had Katya to instruct him. Sometime… in the distant future when he did have the time and peace of mind… would he want his family thrust into the scrutinizing eye of whatever form of the Council would then exist?

“Legend? Not so much around these parts, no. Though I’m told in his day he was quite the marksman. Nigh unbeatable with a bow.” He looked over at Valorie, wondering if he’d see the spark of challenge rise in her eye. Somehow, he doubted Link would be up for a ‘friendly’ competition at the moment. The man had suffered much for the lifestyle he’d chosen with Katya. He had raised Val practically on his own, Katya coming at unexpected hours for uncertain lengths of time… and only intermittently. And he had done so in the midst of a haze of questions and gossip from the villagers. How could he have told them?

And now… now Val had grown up. She was on her own… about to be married. And Ensign knew that no matter how hard the strain of a double life had been on both of them, Link would give anything to have Katya back. ~She should have outlived me.~ It was the first thing Link had said to Ensign upon hearing the horrible, horrible news.

He had been the one to deliver it, of course. And now, on the road to Link’s, it was really all Ensign could think about. The way, for the first time, he’d seen proud Link Jacobs cry.

--

If there was one thing Morgan generally prided himself on, it was his crisp, soldierly appearance. Uniform pressed and properly buttoned, bootlaces tied tight and tucked in at the ends and, when he wore one, his cloak square about his shoulders. Not a speck of dust or mud anywhere. So when Aleph slipped his dirty hand around his shoulder, Morgan turned to shove the other Mage away, but was stopped by Aleph’s thoughts. What was possibly most annoying was that in the little time they’d been together, Aleph had already become quite proficient in silent communication with him.

Sweeping him into the tailor’s shop before they could draw many suspicious eyes, Aleph looked around, and, as he seemed to be right in his element here, Morgan decided to sit back and let the fashion conscious Mage do the talking. There was something… strangely effeminate in the way he talked and walked—especially when he approached the mistress of the shop.

Morgan actually got the general impression that Aleph was quite used to this sort of casual chat. He was quite a good suck up, though Morgan wasn’t surprised for an instant by this. It was how he convinced people like Valorie and Alberto that he was worth their time. And when he realized he wasn’t… well, he had nothing left but to turn tail and run.

Allowing his eyes to wander as Aleph continued to talk, Morgan examined the mannequins, done up in the newest fashions this small town seamstress and her daughter had to offer, from a distance. Honestly, he didn’t care what Aleph or the seamstress herself had in mind as long as it was current enough that they wouldn’t be laughed out of the capitol. But at the same time, he wasn’t going to leave Aleph in charge of picking out a suit for him. No no, then he might end up with ruffles, lace, and a revoltingly exaggerated ascot.

When Aleph had finally finished running his mouth, he stepped over to the younger girl for his fitting while Madam Floren turned to him. Ignoring Aleph’s internal sneer, Morgan unclasped his cloak and draped it across the back of a chair, then stood straight-backed so that the seamstress could take his measurements. As he did so, he couldn’t help but notice just how Aleph’s thoughts swarmed around the girl. And Madam Floren trusted the nice talkative ‘sailor’ with her daughter more than the silent one, did she?

~The girl seems quite taken with you. But Floren won’t be impressed if you begin taking liberties with her daughter.~

Aleph’s fingers twitched, ever so slightly, as the thoughts made their way to his mind.

His back turned from the pair, Morgan drew Madam Floren’s attention to a simple suit displayed in the window. “How much for something like that? Just the vest and jacket.”
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sun 25 Dec - 16:47

Even if he laughed at it, Valorie was sticking by her idea now. She ignored Ensign's chuckling, finding it both apt and contenting that Katya had married a true legend of a man. And a legend he was, no matter how Ensign tried to talk him down. There wasn't a person alive who hadn't heard the name Link Jacobs; ensign just hadn't made the proper association between that and this one yet.

The fact that he could use a bow to any note was also interesting enough. She had never learned how to use one herself, no matter how much annoying talk she hard about 'ace marksmen' among the wind-wielding community. When Valorie wanted to hit something far away, she did something more effective. Like chuck a table at them. Or a cow. The look on those farmers faces when Bessie came flying through their angry mob... Priceless.

Wherever Link Jacobs had decided to pick up arrows over the year however, Valorie knew it wasn't Katya's doing. Her sister had surely shared the same opinion on the weapons after being taught by Valorie herself how easy it was to pluck arrows right out of the sky and send them flying back. There were very few bowmen that could shoot faster than a mage like her could ruin them... Valorie even suspected that this was the reason Aleph's little gang, Tyrant Moon, had developed their "cross-bows". She had managed against them, but most Blackshirts or Councilmembers, she imagined, would be hard pressed to mount a resistance against something that could hit like a cannon with the subtlety of a dagger.

So Katya would have surely mentioned how useless bows eally were... Unless Link was one of the few who really was proficient enough with them to beat even her. Link Jacobs had just raised a few more bars on Valorie's respect-o-meter, now lying somewhere between championship gladiators, and Ilander Ra. And she still gave the kid- err, Prince, considerable credit for the damage he'd done during the Vashovy incident, so that was saying something.

But while Valorie let her thoughts run wild with bows... Ensign had a strangely sad, reminiscent look on his face, that made her consider slapping him before remembering she was supposed to be supportive. Not that a slap couldn't be supportive; but she'd at least consider more docile means of prying out answers first.

"Who was it that told me not to wallow?" Valorie piped in, trying to stir him away from whatever was troubling him as she followed closely behind.

Speaking of wallowing... Himmin was Lach's home. Why... "And why is someone this important living in Himmin? The town's a dung-hole."

* * *

"I think I'll want something... Yellow, perhaps, for the shirt," Aleph began, holding out his arm as a long measuring stick was laid against it, the results scribbled down on a small piece of parchment as well as his words. White was fine, and Aleph usually preferred it. But it was also very stark, and it tried a little too hard at 'innocent flower maiden'. Besides, white showed blood of like a trophy, and it stained. He was getting battered far too often within the past few months, and would be sneaking into far too many places in the capitol to let stains do him in. Yellow would do the same... However Aleph was quite insistent on lighter colors. They let him show off the best, and were gaudy enough to fit with the rest of the capitol's general splendor. "And a coat. Something blue, with a frilled edge, and not so loose around the waist. Maybe... alpaca wool, around the sleeves?"

Yes, Aleph *knew* capitol dress. He hadn't gone there often... The place was a fortress. But every town around the city tried almost desperately to be just like it, and while being in a place like Tectun might not get the news of what was going on inside... It always picked up the fashion. It was winter, so heavier things, like coats, but at the same time the capitol was a show of strength, and so lighter things like the shirt would be appreciated as a sign of the physical superiority many upper crust families liked to boast with their ranks. And people wondered why so many of them got colds around this season?

He tried to be as compliant as possible with the younger Malin, who was a bit... pokier with her fingers, than a more disinguished tailor would be, and kept muttering small apologies, almost more to herself than him. Morgan's attempt at a sly comment made Aleph have to resist the urge to turn and reply to him aloud, but he managed to catch himself before turning and making Malin panic even more. He curled his hand up into a fist and unballed it with a twitch anyway, and Malin winced back, startled.

"Did I hurt you?" She seemed both horrified and confused, as she hadn't actually used anything like needles yet for trimming.

"No, no, of course not." He shot a winning smile. "You're doing excellently milady. Better service than the capitol itself, I assure you."

"I've always wanted to see the capitol..." Malin sighed breathlessly.

"Well from what I can see, clearly someone like you is suited for it." Aleph lowered his voice to a whisper. "And of course, it would be easy enough to find an excuse. All sorts of fabrics and materials heading through the place that an up-and-coming designer might need, hmm?"

The whisper, combined with the flattering message about subverting authority, seemed to excite Malin, and she blushed despite herself. Before Aleph could flatter further however, he heard Morgan's own order and flinched. What was he trying to do, be a bartender? Or perhaps a card dealer? Hell, combine them both: Morgan was going to be dressed as a barmaid card shark if he was left to his own devices.

"A cape!" Aleph tried not to sound too irked, but only for Madam Floren's sake. Morgan would pick up the irritation in his head easily enough! "He's going to need a cape. And some proper pantaloons."

"Aye," Madam Floren consented, eyeing Morgan as if thinking he were lucky to have someone as tasteful as Aleph along to help him handle these things. "You'll be wanting that in winter drab too, I suppose?"

"But of course," Aleph consented.

"Umm... that should be... It, sir." Malin looked up at Aleph, and he stopped supervising Morgan's silliness to frown at her. The younger seamstress quickly clarified. "For the measurements, that is! Umm..."

"Marvellous!" Aleph knelt to help the young lady to her feet, which made her nervous again- honestly, did the normal bumpkins in this county not show her at least that decency? He wanted to flirt with her furhter. But there were other things to attend to, and it would likely be some time now before their actual clothes were ready. "How long should it take, do you think?"

Madam Floren thought to herself, aligning a stick with Morgan's leg and counting as she did so, never missing abeat. "The materials are all here. We should have ya set by sundown, at the latest."

"Fantastic." Plenty of time to get Morgan situated with a proper passport. With another small bow to Malin, Aleph adjusted his clothing and stepped towards the entrance. "Well I'll be seeing you quite soon then! Morgan, be a dear and pay the lovely lady." They could meet at town hall afterwards; that big stone building, with the words town hall? Yeah. Aleph didn't want Morgan getting lost over not being willing to look at Common *writing* either.
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sun 25 Dec - 21:17

It was obvious in the way Ettorin chattered on and on about Lachlan from the moment they parted to the moment they left for dinner that the young man had made quite an impression on her. Rullan himself had to admit that there was something different about the fellow, a certain friendliness born of a character that was not trimmed and restricted like the nobility with whom he kept most of his company with, and yet still so respectful at the same time. Given who his name suggested that he ought to be, such a warm personality was truly refreshing, and though he wasn’t yet ready to give Lachlan his full trust, he was well on his way.

Speaking of being well on his way…

Adjusting his cuffs and collar while Ettorin tapped her foot impatiently by the door, Rullan chuckled to himself and threw his coat over his shoulders, taking care to wear one without a tail so as not to be over-dressed. He wasn’t one for flare, anyway, and the classy look with only a silver trim on the hem suited his short hair and laugh lines. His daughter, however, looked like a princess- as per her liking.

A short walk and a rather one-sided conversation with his excited daughter later, Rullan found himself in the guest dining hall, handing his coat over to their appointed serves as he sized up the place and found it to his liking. It wasn’t anything like the dining hall at his home manor, but it would do. Something told him that Lachlan wouldn’t mind anyway, and from what he knew of Dahlia Ahlmir, neither would she.

No more than five minutes behind Ettorin and himself, Lachlan and Lady Ahlmir arrived to Rullan’s warm welcome. Ettorin, however, had different priorities, starting with Lachlan’s outfit.

Chuckling as Lachlan went playfully along with Ettorin’s concerns, Rullan couldn’t help but smile, even as the conversation moved into an introduction. Though he knew Dahlia by name and, on the odd occasion, by face, he hardly knew her beyond that. She smiled with the gentle friendliness that preceded her in reputation, and he couldn’t help but bow his head in respect.

“It’s my pleasure to finally meet you, Lord Mith. Despite all you’re visits to the Myrr I don’t believe I’ve had the opportunity.” Lady Ahlmir said, quite honestly. As far as diplomats from Old Treganland went, he was certainly one of the few who seemed not only good at dealing with the Council and Mages as a whole, but glad to. There were also rumors abound that he had the tenancies of a detective as well, rarely willing to allow the politics that surrounded him to blind his eyes. True or not, it was for that reason that she looked forward to meeting the man personally. That, and Lachlan seemed rather excited about his meeting with the man, and the livening of his spirit was certainly worth pursuing.

“Ah, no, the pleasure is mine to have such warm company for the evening!” Was Rullan’s response, his grin spread wide. New Treaganland had a lot of things going for it, but hospitality and interesting dinner company was not one of them. Then again, he couldn’t expect much, given his position.

“Come, have a seat.” He said, waiving them over. “And please, both of you, call me Rullan. Or Mr.Mith, if you must.”

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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sun 25 Dec - 22:30

It was hard to describe just how out of place Lachlan felt as he was ushered into a seat at the table, and as such he felt almost as shy as Lord Mith claimed Ettorin usually was. In all of the time they’d spent piecing together what little knowledge they had of etiquette among the royalty and nobility with Ace and Micah, they’d never once gone over table-manners. And Lachlan was starting to realize this as he realized that his place setting was complete with plate, three forks of varying sizes, two knives, and two spoons. He glanced over as Lady Ahlmir took the seat at his right hand side. Lord Mith had seated himself at the head of the table, and Ettorin sat across from Lach on her father’s left. The rest of the table, which generally held upwards of twenty guests, stretched on beyond their own place settings, empty but for the interspersed centerpieces.

As they sat, one server came forward to fill their water glasses, and Lachlan found his attention divided between his murmured thanks again to Lord Rüllan and Ettorin, who was now looking at him. Lachlan got the distinct impression that she’d used the entire afternoon to store up questions for him. As the server left by a side door, he took a small sip of water, as if to fortify himself for the onslaught of questions.

And sure enough, Ettorin dove right into her first question before Lach had a chance to set his glass down. “Are there other sorts of animals you can talk to? Or is it just birds? And how does it work? Do you hear voices? How do you understand them? Do they each speak different languages?” The rapid onslaught was delivered in Treagan, and though Lachlan had expected Lord Mith to speak Lochsalanian for Lady Ahlmir’s sake, he hadn’t been sure whether his daughter yet had enough of a grasp of the foreign language in order to hold her own. She seemed so excited for her questions to be answered, however, that she hadn’t been able to wait.

“All kinds,” he answered in Treagan, a genuine smile tugging at his lips. And it actually surprised him what a pleasure it was to talk about his particular brand of magic. When not so long ago… Xalem had been chiding him for not taking up his studies with enough interest to actually make progress. “Though the more intelligent animals are easier.”

Before he could add to it, however, the servers were returning with a salad. Ettorin’s brow furrowed in concern as she saw the chicken Caesar, and added one more question to the growing mountain. “Do you… eat meat?”

Taken aback, Lachlan’s answer was short. “Of course.”

Ettorin shot him a skeptical look, and Lach quickly added, “I’ve never really thought about it. My master does as well.”

This seemed the wrong thing to say, however, for a very somber, serious look entered Ettorin’s eyes at this.
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Mon 26 Dec - 17:07

Nearly stopping Ettorin in her tracks before Lachlan drowned in a tidal wave of youthful curiosity, Rullan realized quickly that his concerns were unfounded as the young Speaker began to answer, seemingly glad to do so. As such, he simply looked on with amusement, finding many of Ettorin’s questions mirrored his own, anyway. As the conversation went on, however, and the waiters entered with their first dish, things took an unexpected turn at the fault of Ettorin’s innocent lack of conversational etiquette.

“Ah, well, speaking of your master,”

Rullan spoke up, sensing that he had better pick up the conversation and salvage it from an uncomfortable silence. The slightly confused but politely unperturbed look on Lady Ahlmir’s face was enough to tell him that she didn’t speak enough Treagan to follow the conversation however, and so he switched easily over to Lochsalanian before continuing on, giving her a small apologetic nod as he did so before turning his focus back to Lachlan.
“Is he with the Council, then?”

Though recent events suggested that Lachlan’s master had been within Arathorn’s ranks (if he indeed had a master at all), Dahlia’s presence suggested otherwise. In fact, there weren’t many things about the situation that meshed well with anything he had heard of the young Speaker, and so was his curiosity left without solid ground to work from, forcing him to be cautious with his words. After all, last he had heard, the Council was presumed to have gone underground at best, and to have been totally eliminated at worst.

Opening his mouth to ask on the fate of the self-governed circle of Mages, Rullan quickly stopped himself smoothly covering his tracks by taking a bite of his salad. Ettorin’s still grim expression was dampening the conversation enough, let alone the almost certainly somber answer he would receive for his question.

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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Mon 26 Dec - 23:13

Lachlan was extremely grateful when Lord Rüllan spoke up, not quite sure where Ettorin’s suddenly somber look had come from. When her father’s words came in Lochsalanian, however, it seemed that she had to put all of her efforts into understanding the foreign tongue and could no longer continue her questioning. She must at least have had a rudimentary grasp of the language, Lach thought, for the expression of concentration on her face was too great. But understanding and speaking a second language were two different things entirely.

Lord Rüllan spoke slowly and simply enough, however, that even a beginner was sure to grasp most of his meaning. “Ah, well, speaking of your Master. Is he with the Council, then?”

Not sure what the Treagan nobleman would think of his answer, Lachlan was hesitant at first. Xalem did not answer to the Council. Lach assumed that he was still answerable to the Council’s law, but he had always heard that Commons were more… nervous… around unaffiliated Mages. Why that was, he had no idea.

“No, sir. He… my master doesn’t think much of the Council.” For obvious reasons. On second though, not so obvious to a Common. So, drawing a breath, Lach continued. “My master isn’t on… very good terms with his father, a CouncilMage. And he’s also the first Speaker in…” Actually, Lachlan didn’t know how long it had been since another Speaker had walked the face of the earth. “Quite some time. He didn’t want to put himself in their hands.” Lachlan still remembered the relief that had flowed through him upon learning that Xalem and he were like-minded about the Council.

Looking down at his silverware for a fork (and an excuse to pause and collect his thoughts), Lachlan realized that he didn’t know which of the three was the proper one to use. He glanced surreptitiously over at Lady Ahlmir to find her holding the smallest of the three.

When he looked back up at Lord Mith, he felt the sudden need to add one thing, so as not to tarnish Xalem’s reputation. “He does not pledge himself to Lord Arathorn either, though. My master prefers his solitude.”
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Tue 27 Dec - 20:10

The Council was a turbulent political landscape at the best of times; it wasn’t much of a secret, but for someone with such a rare status as Lachlan’s master had, he could only imagine the circus that it would stir up. He had respect for the Council, moreso than the majority of Commons in his line of work, but even he could see that things were not as disciplined as they seemed. They tried, though, he would give them that, and there were far worse Mage factions out there, but he had to admit that comfortable affiliation with any side was likely hard to come by for both Lachlan and his master. Where had he found solace, though? Rullan wasn’t sure he was willing to ask.

“He does not pledge himself to Lord Arathorn either, though. My master prefers his solitude.”

So, his concerns had been unfounded. A small smile spread across Rullan’s lips as he breathed a subconscious sigh of relief at Lachlan’s clarification, and though his master’s preference didn’t exactly speak for the young Fox’s own, it was certainly an encouraging sign.

“Solitude must be something of a rare commodity, these days, with the state of current events as they are.” He replied, a note of apology in his voice as he directed his words both at Lachlan and his master. It was to Lady Ahlmir that his eyes turned next, though, the apologetic tone turning into a glint of sympathy in his eyes.

“Come to think of it, I haven’t heard anything of the Council since Arathorn’s latest bold move. I’m glad to see you well, Lady Ahlmir; I trust you presence here is reason to be optimistic?”

Though she tried to keep up a smile, it was only half-hearted as she shook her head sadly in response to Rullan’s surprisingly genuine concern. He had always been Katya’s choice diplomat when dealing with Grondellon, but only now did she realize for herself his kindness. A politician with a big heart- Lachlan had certainly made quite the acquaintance.

“Unfortunately I have heard little myself.” She said, somehow without the dread that her words suggested. Rullan understood what she was trying to say, though, and so he said no more, knowing he had asked enough questions of his guests for the time being.

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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Tue 27 Dec - 22:32

It was difficult for Lachlan to condone the feelings of ill will he felt rise within him when the subject of the Council’s survival came around. Averting his eyes for the time being, he polished off his salad and tried to repress the sense of foreboding and unease that the topic brought with it. Though his contact with the Council had been mercifully brief thanks to Xalem’s intervention, it had been enough to bring about the same feelings of mistrust Xalem himself had in regards to the quarrelsome group. They had rarely spoken on the topic, but when they had, it had only confirmed Lachlan’s sense of indignation.

Only when the servers reentered with the main course did Lachlan realize that he had been sitting in silence for quite some time. Shifting back in his seat to give them room, Lachlan watched as his plate was replaced with a fresh one and several platters of freshly roasted meats, dishes of vegetables, and freshly baked loaves of bread were placed on the table.

Looking over the platter of turkey at Ettorin to grin at her, Lachlan found that the girl still looked stony-faced and troubled. Wondering what could possibly be the matter when, not ten minutes ago, she had been beaming from ear to ear, Lach leaned forward, a cajoling smile on his face. “Ettorin… what’s wrong?” he asked in Treagan. “You look as if all the birds have gone.”

Ettorin was silent for several seconds, but when she spoke, she sounded for the first time hesitant. As if she didn’t want to receive the answer or wasn’t sure whether she should voice the question. “Well… I was just wondering if all Mages keep slaves.”

Lachlan’s eyebrows shot upward. Was that what the Commons thought? He shot a look at Lord Mith. Was that what they taught their children? “What exactly gives you that idea?”

Ettorin gave him a strange look, as if Lachlan were somehow should have known the answer. “You just said your master…”

“Oh. I didn’t mean…” Lachlan trailed off, wondering if he’d chosen the wrong word for Xalem. Maybe the sense of the word was much narrower in Treagan. Why would another, more appropriate word not come to him? “I’m not…. Mentor! That’s the word. Xalem just teaches me. That’s all.”

Ettorin looked to her father, as if asking for confirmation from someone who dealt with Mages on a regular basis.
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