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 Tarel Soarvas

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Padawan the Admin
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Tue 27 Dec - 23:47

The timing could not have been better for the next course of the meal to be ushered out, and with the rising scent of perfectly cooked northern cuisine seemed to come a second chance to open up the conversation. Thankfully (as Rullan’s mouth had been left rather dry with the knowledge that he unintentionally tugged on a sensitive string), Lachlan was the first one to speak, drawing Ettorin out of her gloomy haze.

“Ettorin… what’s wrong? You look as if all the birds have gone.”

At first Rullan doubted his daughter would answer, her hesitation often a sign of stern reluctance. Lach did have a way with her that was rare, though, and so it only came as a mild surprise Ettorin found it in herself to put words to her thoughts, asking a question that nearly caused him to choke. Lachlan had recovered well, however, quickly reacting to the young girl’s misinterpretation while her father coughed into his handkerchief, composing himself just in time to meet her searching gaze.

“He’s right, Sunshine,” He assured, casually folding his handkerchief and setting it on the table, only absently aware of having used Ettorin’s pet name. “Mages have ‘Masters’ to teach them how to use magic. They’re more like mentors, though, or tutors. Just like Miss Namaiya teaches you how to play the harp, Lachlan’s master teaches him how to use his magic.”

Hoping that Ettorin’s relationship with her tutor would serve to clear up her understanding, Rullan nodded as if to solidify his point. He was going to have to take the time to teach her a little more about Mages when they got back to the Capital.

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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Wed 28 Dec - 0:12

Morgan only barely contained a growl of irritation as Aleph countermanded his order. A cape would put a deeper dent in his coin purse than he’d figured on. And there was nothing wrong with the breeches he wore now wore. He didn’t need a new pair.

The way Aleph carried on with the pair of Commons was enough to make Morgan sick. But he kept a tight reign on his expression, displaying his disapproval only through the Ether. No, no. The only frustration he let seep onto his face came from Aleph’s attempt to dwindle his funds. They were limited, and he would not be begging more money from anyone simply to satisfy Aleph’s overblown sense of ‘style’.

As Aleph was readjusting his cloak about his shoulders, tossing the casual request for Morgan to pay over his shoulders, Morgan nearly choked, spluttering in indignation. He turned, but before he could more than take in a breath to call after Aleph, the other Mage was gone. Well, he’d timed that well, hadn’t he? Fuming to himself, he returned to his original position, aware that if he moved, Madam Floren would only take longer to finish her measurements.

His measurements were finished in silence, and when Madam Floren straightened up, making her last mark on the parchment, Morgan drew out his coin purse, forcing his expression back to one of calm. He could murder Aleph later. Alberto had said so, after all. “My apologies for the rush: my companion can be an impatient man at times. How much do we owe you?”

Morgan kept the false smile firmly plastered on his face until his back was turned on Madam Floren and her daughter. He exited the shop counting what little was left in his coin purse with the knowledge that he would not have enough for a second round of 'capital' garments unless Aleph actually had the money to pay him back. Which somehow he was beginning to doubt.

Sidling up to Aleph when he finally found him at the arranged location, Morgan clapped a hand on his shoulder, feigning friendliness for the benefit of those around them. "You owe me 28 silver, my friend."

--

Grateful that Lady Ahlmir hadn’t had to hear the meaning behind the slight accusation in Ettorin’s question, Lachlan began to dish his plate up as soon as Lord Mith had finished. It wasn’t as if she was unaware of what the average Common thought of Mages… the misperceptions. But Ettorin’s mistake had been so innocent and devoid of any malice that Lachlan found it easy to look past.

Well… almost. He would simply have to ignore the feeling of apprehension that had risen within him at Ettorin’s question until it actually left. It wasn’t there because she had done anything wrong. Far from it. An innocent question hurt nobody. But it had brought memories floating to the surface that he and Cira had been repressing for the last year and a half. Some Mages did keep slaves. They just called them prisoners. And that way… that way it was somehow all right.

“It’s in the past,” he muttered to himself, picking up the next fork in line and beginning on the turkey as if that would settle the matter.

Ettorin, for her part, simply nodded upon hearing her father’s explanation. She seemed to understand it better than Lachlan’s at least. A tutor she could understand. Why, she had one to teach her reading and writing, basic arithmetic, history, piano and harp. The harp, though. That was new. And it hurt her fingers! Just thinking about all of the practice her tutors assigned her made her wonder if Lachlan’s tutor too set him exercises with which to practice. But… he was far too old for that, wasn’t he?

“Do you practice every day?” she asked, looking again across the table at him.

“I should… though I haven’t had the chance recently,” Lach answered, wondering if it was simple curiosity again. Or perhaps an attempt to clear the air. When Ettorin opened her mouth to speak again, Lachlan wondered briefly at her father's silence. It came to him before long, however. Lord Rüllan did not wish to pry too far, it seemed. And yet curiosity restrained him from bidding his daughter to silence. And yet, if she was left unchecked, Lachlan was sure that she would soon have his entire life story out of him. It wasn't as if he had anything he wished to hide for shame. But some memories were better left untouched. Nutmeg had taught him that.

"Why haven't you had the chance?" Ettorin asked, and Lach saw the line of reasoning she was following. Speaking was not like practicing the harp. He could do so anywhere, unlike Ettorin and her music lessons.

"I was... obligated... to suppress my magic for a couple weeks," he said, wondering if he'd said enough. The lack of understanding in Ettorin's eyes gave him his answer, though. Sighing, Lachlan placed his fork on his plate and settled back in his chair. When he looked up, he looked to Ettorin's father, knowing that the girl didn't have a chance of understanding the predicament he'd found himself in. "Recently, I fell in with some people who wished me to live up to my name," he said, an apologetic ring in his voice. "I... well we," he amended, his gesture encompassing himself and Lady Ahlmir, "we've been on the run for the last couple weeks. Which is what brings us here."


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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Wed 28 Dec - 21:56

Tyrulan knew Ixiel; had known him for years, in fact, and yet he wasn’t quite sure what to make of the nobleman’s response to an admittedly raw jab (albeit candied with a sprinkle of humor). He hadn’t laughed, instead turning to a somber concern to voice his thoughts, and though the Zaaltoryn was fairly certain that there was something to be found in that, it was Ixiel’s actual thoughts on the subject that had raised a flag in the back of the young prince’s mind.

A throne grab?

He had been accused not only of being a Mage, but of being involved in a plot that would leave the very family that nearly treated him as one of their own, dead- and his main concern was what the neighbors would think if word got out? It was a typically noble-born mindset to fear whispers of political foul play, but Tyrulan hadn’t expected him to be so easily perturbed by a tale that he had shrugged off as the falsely spun tale of a farmhand from Himmin.

Ixiel had been right about one thing, though: his family was far from the crown, and any chance of them benefitting from a royal assassination was not only a long shot, but would require a plot more intricate and wild than the one they were already dealing with. Such things were not entirely beyond the capacity of the average noble gossip’s imagination, Tyrulan knew, but Lachlan Fox had already stated that it was ‘Recide’ who they were supposed to be concerned about, not once mentioning a court struggle for power. Still, Tyrulan had to admit, Ixiel’s qualms were legitimate, but they were neither likely nor pressing; it was all too suspicious.

Mentally calming himself before he started deviating from the facts due to his increasingly critical state of mind, Tyrulan finally took in a deep breath and nodded along with Ixiel’s upswing suggestion, deciding that little could be done for the time being anyway. Ixiel was a friend, Tyrulan reminded himself guiltily, and it was going to take more than that to convince him otherwise, but the nagging feeling stayed with him even as he cracked a smile and set off towards the rear side of the bastion, leading on.

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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Thu 29 Dec - 18:12

"Not a coin to my name," Aleph responded with an equal degree of false friendliness. "Of course, a regular mind reader like you already knew that."

Actually, that was a lie. Aleph did have his own coin purse, but it was feeling very light, and wasn't nearly enough to handle the things he'd be using Morgan for. Yes, using, not borrowing. Aleph's own purse would have to keep them fed once they got to the capitol, assuming Arathorn wasn't tossing Morgan a bread and Chateau Dor'mont. Even then Aleph imagined he'd have to win a couple of high-odds gambles to keep them sustained for any real length of time. Not that a Spiritmage couldn't help tip the odds, eh?

Had Alberto given them some more time, and had Aleph not been in the depths of a moral crisis, he could have just gotten things the Tyrant Moon way and taken his spoils off of some conquered caravan or threatened merchant. But even that was made awkward by the fact that Aleph was not willing to rob his own countrymen. A Gate out to the Treagans somewhere though, and...

But they could worry about funds later. For now, there was a warrant with Morgan's name on it. Or, that would soon anyway. Given another healthy infusion of money.

Most cities could care less about your intentions. But cities in the Heartland, and especially the capitol itself, were much stricter. If you were a foreigner who didn't have business there, you weren't wanted. And you weren't getting in. Aleph was, despite the loss of his nobility, still a citizen with a legal set of papers. Morgan, as a crazed Treagan Lord's minion mind reader, was not. Luckily the system was obvious enough: if you had the money to be productive in society, and were willing to be taxed, it wasn't all that hard to get even a full legal citizenship.

But it *was* several steps above their paygrade. So while Aleph was more than happy to use his birthright papers for himself, he'd need a logical excuse to drag Morgan around with him in the capitol. Unless there was a two ton shipment of crafted goods lying around for them to use as a trade excuse... That meant using someone in the capitol and going for a visitor's. And that was a problem in itself. Aleph didn't know anyone there, certainly. And somehow he doubted there were any spies of significance Arry could have stuck in for them to pull from. Either they didn't exist at all, or allowing Aleph and Morgan in would been too suspicious anyway.

By this point, Aleph had already entered the town hall, and, given people didn't often stagger up to a counter in the middle of the nation and ask for the kind of passes they would have needed to get *in* to the nation, found no line waiting, and an old, irritable looking man behind a desk. Not the mayor, but some sort of aid, who had set up camp in the lobby of the town, and had a pint of something too dark to distinguish displayed just obviously enough for people to know where he'd rather be. Fixing his posture, Aleph approached the man first.

"Greetings sir. My friend seems to have lost-"

"Destination and business," the man grunted back, and Aleph seethed. Well, schmoozing here was going to be neither helpful nor neccessary it seemed.

"The capitol," Aleph offered back, dropping his own false humor a tad. "He'll need a visitation warrant."

"Personage being visited?" The man had barely blinked. Or, Aleph thought he hadn't. The fellow seemed half-asleep or half-drunk, one, but his clear (if annoyingly blunt) speech made the latter doubtworthy. Besides, there was no point tricking him here. It was the guards at the capitol they'd have to work to get by.

So. A person to visit. It could be anyone... But just anyone would be able to reject them at the door. Gating in wasn't a real option; papers would be checked everywhere they went anyway, including whatever hotel they managed to stay in (Aleph was thinking classy, up-town resort), and the guard was always more watchful than it seemed. He knew no one in the city...

But maybe he didn't need to. Someone that could be there, but wouldn't be. There would be no one to check with then, but the guard wouldn't question their presense. But who did Aleph know that would fit the bill? Even military men returned home on leave, and Aleph couldn't have that even if he did know a few choice names. He needed to gurantee this person would be as far away from the capitol as his legs could carry him, even if he had every right to be there.

Legs. As his legs could...

After Ravenholm, the very idea was almost morally repugnant even by Aleph's standards. It was usury in the worst possible way. He'd have to be sick to even consider it, but, in the end... there was no other option he could think of that was even half as likely to work.

"He'll need one to see..." Aleph sighed, mentally kicking himself at just how bad a person he was. "Yildegarde Slauth."

* * *

It had gone even faster than Aleph expected. And lost them their money faster too, of course. The idea that the war with Ra might give them an excuse to upgrade prices along with security hadn't crossed Aleph's mind. They had already paid for their first set of clothes but this was going to run on a tighter budget than expected... And it was already corset-squeezed to maximum tight as things were. Add in some mental imagery for Morgan, annnd...

"Once our suits are ready, we'll be ready to hit the capitol." Huh. Aleph was a bit surprised himself that actual business came out of his mouth, but there it was. It wasn't even close to sundown; they were in this town for a while whether they liked it or not. Aleph had taken them to a properly secluded spot- in the middle of the marketplace where no one would actually care about what they were saying. Which meant it was time for:

"Brainstorming. And not the kind where you go scrambling my good stuff." Aleph flicked up his dagger, as he usually did to think... and then stuck it away, not liking the idea of what Morgan plus thinking plus an available weapon would do. "More specifically, we're going to need a source of income once we get to the capitol. I can gamble, some, but we'll be stuck in the city for long enough that we can't win a living that way. As much as I love leeching off you, even you'll run dry eventually. And we need to be ready for that. Thoughts? And let's voice them aloud, so I don't look like a lunatic answering myself in public, eh?"
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Thu 29 Dec - 21:34

Getting bows was easy enough. Times were peaceful enough in New Treaganland that only a single guard was practicing on the course when Ixiel and Ty got there, and he left a few minutes after, leaving them free range... on the free range. Heh. Ixiel would at least try to enjoy the little things to ease his spirits.

Normally, there would be horses. And, in fact, Ixiel wished they were still able to use them; but where a few bows might not have been noticed, the chances of getting out of the castle on horseback were next to nil. It wouldn't affect Ty much, Ixiel imagined. He was a good shot, and when the tracking got good, the horse just made noise and got in the way anyway. But Ixiel... Was a mage. And it affected him more than he'd like. The ground and him were like one continuous enitity. He could feel every movement through the trees, every tiny tremor across the ground as a stag made it's majestic way through the forest. It was simplicity itself.

This stag had been eluding both of them, hardly even trying. It grazed, lazily, in a small tuft of grass that juuust peeked out of the snow, enjoying itself. Big. Majestic. An easy target. Ixiel drew back his bowstring. His aim was perfect. Dead on. There was no way-

The buck galloped slowly off, as his arrow embedded itself in a tree nearly five feet away from his target. Tracking was one thing. Shooting a bow when your fingers were half freezing was another. And Ixiel was loving every minute of it.

"I reckon that woulda been a headshot. You musta startled it." He teased Tyrulan, now in an actual good humor. They hadn't hit much- or at least, Ixiel hadn't. But that was okay. There was only so much they could carry with them anyway. It was pure waste to leave an animal hunted just lying there, so Ixiel had made a habit out of eating whatever he could on the night of a hunt, and handing the rest over to some of the local butchers. Not for a profit or anything but; eh, waste not, want not waste... Or somethin' like that. Val could barely touch meat unless it had been properly pie-formed, or set out proper-like. Though she was disturbingly good at mincing fish. Ixiel had mentioned fishing explosives to her one day and they hadn't gone a week without some sort of fillet ever since.

Ty had a big ol' family that could appreciate his hunting talents. But... this time, even if it wasn't the first time, they had snuck out. Ixiel wondered a bit what he was going to wind up doing with what he caught, but he wasn't about to bring up subjects like logic when he was having such a good time anyway.

"This sobered up stuff just ain't my cup a' tea, Ty." Ixiel shook his head. "The only sassinatin' I need to be worryin' about is of that darn deer. Think I've lost half my arrows by now."
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Fri 30 Dec - 17:21

“Who was it that told me not to wallow?”

Ensign looked up and smiled at Valorie. She was right, of course, though he wouldn’t tell her that it was she who’d unintentionally set his mind wandering. And where was the only place it seemed to want to wander anymore? Straight back to the regret, the anger, and the loss. And, of course, to those who’d survived Katya. Link, for example, who would never be who Valorie wanted to delude herself into thinking he was. Why exactly she would like to imagine that Katya had married *the* Link Jacobs, Ensign would never know.

“Sorry. I… you’re right, Valorie. And…” Chuckling at Valorie’s continued insistence that Link Jacobs was somehow as famous as his namesake, Ensign tried one last time to dispel her illusions. “Link is a bowyer and fletcher. He’s quite well known for his craft, but other than that…” He trailed off, hoping Valorie would simply drop it. The novelty of being named for a legend had worn off decades ago, Ensign was sure, and since marrying Katya… well, Ensign had never asked Link. But he wondered if there wasn’t a little tension there. Most Commons reveled in the legend—it had been passed down through the centuries as truth.

“Look, don’t insult him. About this ‘dung-hole’ of a town or for any other reason. It’s not what any of us need right now. Least of all him.”

He turned off the main road to a far less beaten path, though he noticed the set of footprints in the freshly fallen snow traveling to and from the house that lay just out of sight beyond a patch of wood. Smoke curled upwards in the distance, indicating that Link was indeed home, and Ensign knew just where to find him. Built onto the side of the house was a small shop, heated in the wintertime by a woodstove. Work kept the mind busy, and so Ensign knew he wouldn’t be surprised to find the aging man in his woodshop, sanding away at a bow or witling away at an arrow.

Through the tree line, both cottage and shop came into view, and Ensign turned aside to make towards the shop. Above the door hung a sign: L. Jacobs. Maker of fine bows.

Stepping up, Ensign knocked a few times and waited. The door opened to reveal an older man with short gray hair, strong arms and hands, and wearing a leather apron flaked with sawdust.

“Hi, Link,” Ensign said in a small voice.

The man nodded. “Ensign.” He looked tired.

“I’d like to introduce you to Valorie. Katya’s sister.”
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Fri 30 Dec - 20:16

Tyrulan was sure Ixiel had the shot; he’d even been holding his breath to be sure that he didn’t tip off the buck before the arrow left the bowstring, but as the shot went left and the dull thud of steel in wood broke the still air, he was reminded of just how harsh the cold could be on one’s hands (and accuracy). The buck itself, not wasting any time in looking back, took off through the woods, his pace fairly leisurely as if taunting them to try again- and Tyrulan intended to. It was a game of patience, though, for hunting already spooked prey was like asking to fail. No, he would wait until the buck had dropped itself into a false sense of security, and then- cold hands or no- he would make the shot. Oh how he loved a good challenge.

“I reckon that woulda been a headshot. You musta’ startled it!” Ixiel joked, and Tyrulan found himself gladly playing along.

“Of course! Moving targets are always more exciting!” He chimed, walking over to the tree where Ixiel’s arrow was stuck, trying without success to pull it out. Whatever Ixiel lacked in aim, he certainly made up for in power; At least if he had hit his target, it would have been a painless kill.

Giving up and opting to snap the arrow shaft off instead, Tyrulan tossed the broken end into the snow with no clear purpose for doing so besides keeping himself occupied. Whatever effect that had, however, was broken when Ixiel spoke up again, forcing Tyrulan to stir up the doubts that had settled at the back of his mind, allowing him the clarity of mind to enjoy the outing. He suppressed them rather quickly, though, not willing to give up the remainder of his day to their incessant pestering.
“Half of them?” He chuckled. That sounded about right, though they had both left with full quivers. “Well, all the more reason for us to track that buck down, then. It’s a personal matter, now.”


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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Fri 30 Dec - 21:54

What would someone say if they met Cezare Lodewijik I, who carved his legend in blood to form Eoti's largest empire, in a shady bar in the middle of nowhere? How could someone introduce themself to High Mage Raj if they met him today, buying food from the local store? Who could bring themselves to say something as simple as 'sup' to Shiverlance, if they found out that the bard-writer of hundreds of epics lived just down the street?

This was Valorie's experience as she approached *the* Link Jacobs' house with Ensign. She almost laughed outright when he suggested she might insult him. This wasn't Ensign, or Dusk, or some other person to be joked around with. It was Katya's husband. That alone would be enough to earn her respect, but this was beyond that. Of course he would be known for his craft: the man had millenia... Or something like that, to perfect his craft! He was clearly a god of an archer; the kind of man who knew every type of string and wood, and crafted his bowstrings from the veins of those great sea-beast things Valorie had always seen waaaaaay out in the currents from the Ra'an coast, and his wooden limbs out of the bones of his his enemies (all of which were ten feet tall, and breathed fire). That was just how people like him did things. After all, he was...

LINK.

JACOBS.

But Valorie gave none of this to Ensign, simply pouting her lips in a way that said 'of course I'll be polite'. Though of course, coming from her, and even after her truce, it probably came across as closer to 'accuse me of screwing up one more time and you'll get the most beautiful view of the Heartlands ever experienced... as you fly past them at a hundred miles per hour from a roundhouse kick to the face'. Not that she'd follow up on that promised threat. Probably.

But before Valorie had more time to think on the issue... He was there. Broad shoulders. Physique as chiseled as the perfect bows that ringed his shop. His hair may have been greying (no doubt with the ashes of his decimated foes clinging to the strands over the years), but had clearly been the kind of blond that fictional storybook female protagonists would die for. But there was something beyond the drop-dead awesome. Something rugged, and powerful. Sad and strained, but that was at Katya's loss... and it didn't feel like anything could take away the level of intensity that poured out of him stronger than any mage aura could hope to duplicate.

This was it. There were plenty of things to say now. She could start by saying hi. Or, maybe, nice to meet you. She could comment on the fine work of his bows, or that she hoped he was doing all right after everything. Oh. Or, perhaps, she could tell him what a fine daughter he had, and how Katya would be proud. That would bring up the topic of Katya... which they both needed to talk about, no matter what they said, perfectly, and in the best way possible. It was thoughtful, focused on the positive, and get them nicely into some sort of weepy session in which they both appreciated eachother much more.

"I can see why Katya made babies with you," was instead what came out. She then poked his hair, and made a comment about sheep, and it took all of that, and a nod, before Valorie saw his face and realized what she had done.

Yep. That comment about his daughter would have been a nice one. She should have thought of it. Of course, that wasn't going to help her now, because she had already said something much worse, and she was already halfway back down the path up to his store, kicking the snow hard enough to hit Oaklear's house another half mile away. It didn't help her. She was strong, incredibly strong. Physically, at least. And there was no satisfaction in hitting something that didn't even offer the resistance to fight back. Valorie would have taken the time to be pissed at Ensign again for not hitting her. Because he'd never even tried it enough to see if it helped. But at the moment... she was far too pissed at herself.

"F---ed it up!" She roared at no one in particular. "Yep!" Valorie kicked the snow again, leaving the road for a few steps and nearly forgetting her retreat, and instead yelling at the snow. "One f----ing shot at family left, and I already killed it! Good job Valorie. Good f---ing job!"

Hell, this was better for both Link and Val anyway. They didn't need her crap. Ensign didn't need it either. She was only making things worse for him too, and she knew it. They wouldn't want her. They didn't need her.

At the end of the path, Valorie slammed her head on a fencepost... and it split in half. The post, that is. But she felt winded anyway. She collapsed back in the snow, well aware she had just been through the same thing with Ensign, and would only keep doing it, because she wasn't coping nearly as well as she wished she was and had no idea what to say about it. Yeah. They probably shouldn't have wanted her.

...But she probably needed them more than any of them knew.
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sat 31 Dec - 0:59

Even if bringing the subject up was a bad idea... it needed to be done. If Ixiel did it enough, eventually the subject would lose it's meaning. Alfaina had said something about that once. Part of her psychology stuff. And besides, any worries he did have were now being deflected at the conspiracy theory about the nobles that Ixiel himself had spun. Which had enough truth in it to keep even Ixiel himself from slipping up on that implication.

...Dang. The realization that he was taking satisfaction, or even actively planning the details behind fooling one of his friends on a peaceful, relaxing hunting trip made Ixiel cringe. What he was doing... was the right thing. Ixiel had no doubts about that, and they weren't going to sink in now. But everyone in Recide knew what they were doing with this plan. It was, plain and simple, murder. A few murders, and for the future of the very world they lived in but... Well, this moral pang felt like something he deserved. Doing wrong and not caring: that was what evil was. Doing wrong to make something right, that was different. Like... some twisted justice. But just because justice was the right thing, never meant it should be easy on the person passing it. When that happened, they became even worse than the people they were judging.

Alright. Enough of that kinda thinking. Maybe he didn't deserve it, but Ixiel and Ty were friends. They were *supposed* to enjoy this kind of hunting. Ixiel would just have to keep his head in the game, like Tiberius always did. It wasn't easier to lock away all those memories and stick with the cause: it was harder. And if that fella was pushing along, Ixiel would be doing plum wrong to even think about wasting what time he had with Ty, and not living it up to the fullest.

They *were* friends. He hoped... even in the end, that Ty'd remember that.

"Darn tootin' it is," Ixiel replied aloud, instead deciding to take some joy in Ty's attempt at removing his arrow. Even if his aim was plain awful, an arm like Ixiel could pull a string back pretty darn far. The Zaaltoryn didn't stand a chance- At pulling the arrow out, that was. Jeez. Bad thought lines there. Whatever joke Tyrulan had made, nobody was going to go shooting him out in the woods like that. Not if Ixiel had anything to say about it.

"Let's hurry up and find the tracks." Ixiel smiled. The buck. Now *there* was something he could focus on that was constructive. *And* that needed a good woods-area shooting! "I won't sleep at all tonight knowing that thing mocked us all day and got away with it."

Resisting the urge to pluck his own broken arrow pieces out of the snow where Ty had failed (it wasn't as if anyone could tell what day it had been fired if they stumbled across it anyway), Ixiel passed by his friend to kneel where he had seen the deer glancing off. He traced the hoofprint with his finger, trying to follow the thin tracks before they faded into the snow.

A flicker of movement caught Ixiel's eye, and he started to raise his bow again before realizing it was up too high to have been the buck. It wasn't even anything worth hunting- a solitary squirrel, peeking out of it's nest at all the excitement, no doubt. Pretty soon it would go back into it's little tree hollow and-

The squirrel exploded into bloody pieces at nearly the same instant Ixiel's shoulder felt a razor sharp pain that roared through his body, the force of the arrow that had done both deeds enough to knock him clear off his feet. The forest spun, and bits of the unfortunate squirrel spattered Ixiel on the face as he fell, bringing the urge to retch into his mouth as his rational thoughts took over- or tried to, over that searing pain.

His first thought was that Ty had been shooting for the squirrel and missed; but the Zaaltoryn was well behind him. His second, more terrifying thought was then, of course, that the Zaaltoryn was being targeted: something that would make the conspiracy all too real, and possibly doom Recide altogether; let alone lose him one of his closest friends. It was genius, really: but who could have known about Recide being real, and that they'd snuck out, and made such a plan in time to catch up and hit them now?

"Get down yer majesty!" Ixiel staggered to his feet, stumbling towards the Zaaltoryn as he tore the arrow embedded in his shoulder right back out... and almost gawked when he saw it. It was an arrow from the castle. But not the range where he and Ty had gotten their weapons. This was an arrow from the armory.

Three things hit Ixiel at once. The first was the fact that there was no reason for an enemy group of any kind to use castle bows. The second was another arrow, that would have gone right through Ixiel's head had he not been holding his arm up for cover- and managed to skewer that pretty well as it was, glancing off the bone and sending enough screaming pain through Ixiel's body that he gave up running and simply dove behind the neares tree. But the third thing that struck Ixiel was what really cut him to the core. It was a realization. A realization that no one with the kind of skill with a bow this person was showing would be missing Tyrulan by this much, or bothering to fire at Ixiel again when he was clearly too out of it to react if they were to move in to attack the Zaaltoryn. It was a realization that Ty wasn't the target.

Ixiel was.
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sat 31 Dec - 14:01

Glad to be back on track, Tyrulan nodded, peering through the trees for any broken twigs or branches that would suggest their prey’s destination. If he had to guess, the buck was headed for a stream further down the coulee where the trees thinned out for a spell and the terrain was much easier to navigate. Of course, that put Ixiel and himself at a disadvantage, for it would not only be difficult for them to hide, but they would only get one solid shot before the creature ran off. That, or they could wait, let him fall into a false sense of security before acting. Bucks were often unpredictable, though, the young ones especially, and there was no telling how long he would stick around.

Seeing Ixiel snap into action out of the corner of his eye, Tyrulan turned his attention to the intended target, chuckling as he realized what it was. Or rather, what it wasn’t.

“Ixiel, you’re on edge. It’s just a—“

But a moment later, the squirrel was gone, and Tyrulan’s eyes were focused elsewhere, Ixiel’s pained shout ringing in his ears. Those feathers; that craftsmanship, he could have sworn…

Without hesitation he dove behind the nearest tree, Ixiel’s warning hardly registering. Were they being targeted, or had it just been a stray arrow? They were out hunting without anyone’s knowledge after all, so it wasn’t entirely out of the question, but not a call or holler could be heard throughout the forest. A second arrow served to strengthen the point, narrowly missing Ixiel’s head- and only because it had sunk into his raised arm instead.

“Ixiel!” He called out, his heart racing and his hand firmly gripping his bow. There was an anger welling up in him, mixing dangerously with his adrenaline, but the moment he realized it was a moment too late. Already on his feet, Tyrulan fired a blind shot as he ran across the gap between himself and Ixiel, subconsciously aiming for the direction from which the second arrow had come before sliding to a halt as his shoulder slammed against the tree.

“Cease fire! By order of the Zaaltoryn, cease fire!!”

It was risky, he knew, and his heart was racing so fast he was fairly sure it intended to explode just to spite him, but he stood his ground. Crouched and poised with a steady-handed arrow knocked and ready, he was confident he could take at least one of their attackers down before they could stop him.


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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sat 31 Dec - 16:17

Ettorin’s unyielding curiosity- though harmless and born of good intentions- was something that Rullan was still learning how to control, balancing her desire to learn and his need to keep things within proper social boundaries. She had an odd tenancy to stumble onto proverbial ‘thin ice’, too, forcing him to wade out and clear up the air before things started to crack beneath their feet, but he didn’t mind. She was learning; that was good, and Lachlan seemed to be a kind sort, willing to oblige her. Ettorin’s initial question had been safe anyway, and so Rullan continued to eat in nonchalance, still paying close attention to the conversation- for good reason.

The moment Lachlan had answered Ettorin, Rullan knew what was coming. It was the epitome of typical children’s questions, and the easiest three-letter way of prying into business that was not their own: why.

Trying desperately to chew his food so he could butt in before Lachlan felt he had to answer, Rullan was just a moment too slow, but Lachlan didn’t appear to be peeved. Instead he answered simply (and truthfully, Rullan was sure), even continuing on to clarify when Ettorin’s expression suggested that another ‘why’ was on the tip of her tongue. Instead of speaking to her, however, Lach turned to Rullan himself, and it didn’t take him long to realize why. Ettorin, young as she was, simply wouldn’t understand.

‘Suppress’ was the first word that caught Rullan’s attention, not only because of the way Lach had said it, but because he’d heard the term used before. A Mage could not willfully suppress his magic, he knew that much, but it could be done by force. The Ra’an made binds were the most common- and most ruthless- of the methods he’d heard of, and there had even been rumors that they had been used on Arathorn’s prisoners in Herfiligr. To willingly subject ones’ self to that, though, considering what Rullan had heard the experience was like… he could only imagine. Whoever Lach was running from, they weren’t friendly sorts.

The second (albeit the most important) piece of information Rullan took note of, was Lach’s reason for running. Though he could make many logical assumptions about what- exactly- the Speaker had meant, one thing was certain: his instinct to trust Lach despite his name was starting to make sense.

“I’m glad you didn’t oblige them.” He replied honestly, truly glad to see that the worrisome rumors flying around the Capital about the Melrakki’s ‘heir’ were not holding ground. “Though after having met you, I’m hardly surprised. You are much different than I expected you would be, Lach, in a good way.”

But if Lach was running from who Rullan thought he was, he wasn’t safe.

Putting his own fork down, the nobleman sobered up just enough to bring a cautionary tone to his voice despite the more gentle concern in his fatherly face.

“I feel I must warn you, though, I’ve been sent by Grondellon to extend the hand of alliance to the Zaaltor, but I have my suspicions that there is a third influence in the shadows. Without proof I dare not use names, but you would do well not to stay any longer than you must. I won’t relay word of having met you here, you’ve no need to be concerned of that, but…” Wiping his face with a napkin as the waiters entered with desert, Rullan switched his tone immediately, finishing with a more conversationally ambiguous “I’m sure you understand what I mean”.

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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sat 31 Dec - 21:52

The silence after Valorie’s pronouncement was deep, bottomless. Link simply stared, and even Ensign, well accustomed to the sort of things Valorie was likely to say in such moments calling for seriousness, sensitivity, and (dare he think it?) propriety, could do little more than turn his head to stare, eyebrows raised in disbelief. Well… it technically hadn’t been an insult. Why had he dared to hope for better?

When Valorie reached up to stroke his hair, Link did nothing. Ensign was actually rather impressed by how still he remained, moving not a muscle despite the… weirdness that it generally took a lifetime to grow accustomed to. Mid stroke, Valorie paused, her eyes on Link’s, still reflecting an emotion that Ensign had never seen on her face before: awe. That glimmer was quickly slipping away, though, as realization sidled in. And then she turned away without a word and started back down the snowy path.

Ensign stared after her until he heard the roar of… fury? Anguish? “I’m so sorry, Link,” he whispered, his voice catching between disbelief and mortification, as he took a step after her. “It was too soon. It—“

“Ensign, go back to the house.”

“I… what?”

“Go back to the house and put the kettle on,” Link repeated, his voice as sharp as his face was severe and stern. It was the voice of a father, and ever since meeting him, Ensign had heeded that voice as if it belonged to his own father. He turned to obey without another word as Link lifted the leather apron from around his neck and hung it on a peg.

Taking his time, Link closed the door of the shop after him and then turned and followed Valorie’s footsteps, making sure that she had a sizeable head start on him. He walked at an even, contemplative pace, neither speeding up nor slowing down when he saw the figure on the trail ahead collapsed into a snowy bank.

Tucking his thumbs into his pockets when he finally stood a couple feet from her prone form, Link looked up into the mid-afternoon sky, his breath visible in the chill air. “Well… do you want to try that again? Or should I just leave you out here to freeze?” he asked, the tone of his voice even and unassuming. Judging on that alone, he didn’t seem to care which she chose, but he didn’t leave his words at that. He turned his hard gaze down upon Valorie, still lying in the snow. “‘Whatever her faults,’ Katya always said, ‘She cares about her family.’ I would like the chance to meet my sister-in-law—the one Katya spoke so highly of. So get up and come back to the house. Ensign’s put on some water to boil.” With that, Link turned and trudged away without waiting for Valorie to make a move.

--

The unexpectedly serious tone the conversation had taken so suddenly seemed to stun Ettorin to silence. She stared between Lachlan and her tacha, fork raised half way to her mouth with a bit of mashed potatoes about to fall off the end. It took a while for her to remember how rude it was to stare, and so she busied herself with her plate and fork once more, though still listening with all of her might in an attempt to understand the grim look which now haunted Lachlan’s eyes.

“I’m glad you didn’t oblige them,” Tacha said, almost quietly. There was a familiar note of affirmation in his voice. But what had they wanted him to do? And who were they? Ettorin felt the questions bubbling up within her, but there was something present in her tacha’s voice that, for once, put a stop to the urge to ask. “Though after having met you, I’m hardly surprised. You are much different than I expected you would be, Lach, in a good way.”

Ettorin watched as Lachlan’s eyes made the familiar trek downwards upon these words. It gave her pause. Tacha had already asked both Mages to call him by name, setting them at the same level as himself. And yet the Speaker still lowered his eyes deferentially.

--

“Thank you,” Lach said quietly, unable to hide the troubled glint in his eyes. It was unnerving to hear that people already had ‘expectations’ of what he would be like… especially these noblemen in the Treagan courts. When he thought about it, Lachlan realized that he should have realized that news of a Speaker would cause a stir—and that this Speaker was the son of the Melrakki would cause outright alarm. The fact of the matter was that Recide had warned him of this. But they had wanted to utilize the expectations and the fear that his mere existence had elicited rather than allow him to change… to heal… the image of Lachlan Fox.

And Lachlan… he refused to rise such expectations.

“I feel I must warn you, though,” Lord Rüllan continued, and Lachlan looked up carefully, listening intently and trying to understand the nobleman’s intimations. He broke off when the servers came in to clear away the dinner plates and replace them with desert, though by now Lachlan felt he could not eat another bite.

“I’m sure you understand what I mean.”

Alarmed at the warning, Lachlan’s first thought was of Recide. He quickly calmed himself enough to remember that Recide—until he had exposed them to the Zaaltor—had taken great pains to remain anonymous. There was no way Lord Rüllan could even know of the group.

It wasn’t long before an altogether more troubling thought suggested itself to Lachlan. Lord Jerome Arathorn. The de facto leader of Old Treaganland? It… made sense. How else would he have been able to keep control of Herfiligr out of the hands of the Commons unless he was pulling strings from the shadows? Where had profits from the mines gone? How had it remained quiet for so long? The thought sent a chill through Lachlan… and stole away whatever appetite for dessert he’d had. But the implications of Lord Rüllan’s suggestion were so much farther-reaching than that. And that was what stole the color from Lachlan’s cheeks and the moisture and words from his mouth.

“I… see,” he said at length. It was at least some comfort that the nobleman had sworn not to pass on word of his presence. Though it did little good. Word would get around regardless. And the best thing he could do was to take Lord Rüllan’s advice and leave as soon as possible. But that hinged on the Zaaltor’s investigation of Recide. Looking up at Lord Rüllan, Lach nodded his gratefulness. “Thank you. I’ll keep that in mind.”

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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sun 1 Jan - 18:46

Pain roared through Ixiel's body. He was pretty fit (understatement), but that didn't make him any more immune to getting shot than anyone else, and while the first arrow had punctured cleanly enough to tear out, the second was too dangerously placed for him to just throw it out and worry about the wound.

In fact... it was a little too well placed. Their assailant was closer than he thought. He hadn't been aiming for Ixiel's head at all; he had seen the arm and was trying to strike him through the wrist. It had almost succeeded too. But if he was close enough to see Ixiel's motions and not just his general shape, that meant that he was close enough to be caught. The snow was think, but these assassins didn't know that they were dealing with an Earth mage.

Closing his eyes, Ixiel reached towards the ground, to feel them out by their vibrations- and then froze. No. It wasn't an assassination at all, or the first shot wouldn't have only hit his shoulder. The second shot was aimed to kill, but the first had been an attempt to egg him out. To use his powers. Because if he had to use magic to save himself, then Tyrulan would realize that everything Lach had been saying was true!

This was worse than he'd imagined. But it was the only thing that made sense. Someone within the castle knew... Or at least suspected that Ixiel was a mage. And now, they were going to use that, whatever the conspiracy, to get him killed.

...Except there weren't any more arrows. Ixiel had been blinded by pain, barely realizing it, but when the Zaaltoryn had yelled, the arrows had simply *stopped*, and while he and Ty were sitting there, hearts pounding, the woods had otherwise fallen silent. There was a chance he could use his magic after all: Tyrulan was so focused on their assailant that he'd never notice anyway. But somehow, Ixiel suspected that this was exactly what the assassin was waiting for.

They sat there for a long time. Ixiel slowly made his way over to Ty, staying in tree cover, but the firing seemed to have stopped.

"Well yer majesty, I reckon yer getting pretty good at this givin' orders thing..." Ixiel made the joke, but couldn't help but wince when he tried to chuckle at it. There was a steady flow of blood from his shoulder, and the arrow in his arm was going nowhere fast.

Ixiel opened his mouth to suggest they go back... But three arrows, each following in quick succession, all sank themselves into the tree against which the Zaaltoryn had been making his stand. The three were lined up in a perfect, vertical row, clearly fired by a single bow, and clearly aimed and to the side enough to miss both of them. It seemed a weird time to give a warning... Until Ixiel realized there was a word carved onto the side of each. Together, it read:

'Roansfeld. Bad. Blood.'

There were too many ways to take the comment. But whatever the case, the sound of animals scurrying to through the woods told him that their assassin had simply left the message and fled. Ixiel didn't even bother to look at them after his first glance, simply slumping. Whether it was his own suspicions, or the fake ones he'd voiced to Tyrulan... His words had just been proven true.

"...I think that deers gonna live to buck another day yer majesty." Ixiel sighed. "We... should probably head back."
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sun 1 Jan - 19:20

...When Link found her in the snow, Valorie thought that she died a little more inside. But her body was too hardened into badassery for that to happen, and the dead chunk of her spirit zombified into something that angrily insisted she make things right. Why did people keep making her do this stuff? If only Ensign could just strike her, or Link could just demand she rise up and be the badass she was. She wasn't made for this stuff. Never had been. Was it too selfish of her to just want people to understand that and let her handle the ass-kicking and fun stuff, instead of having to deal with... with... Family!?

Actually, yes. It was incredibly selfish of her. And as much as she wanted to act like she didn't need it and move on, Valorie really did need their support. She knew it. And, apparently, Link knew it too, or he wouldn't have taken the time to offer the invitation of a second chance. Of course, that meant that she was going to have to go back up that hill, tail between her legs, and introduce herself like a desperate loser. Valorie was not a loser!

But she was desperate. And even though her pride protested with a tangible anger, Valorie slowly dragged herself to her feet, and watched Link's feet moving back off down the path for a moment before forcing her own to start trudging along after him. She said nothing. Rushing things the first time had already screwed her over once: this time she would do it right.

So she waited. Took her time. When she did get there, she didn't wait at the door, but walked inside and sat at the table, still not willing to risk herself quite yet. The fact that she didn't even think to sit *on* the table, or lay down on the carpet, or even slouch in her chair made her realize what should have already been obvious: that she was actually taking the situation seriously for once. That thought got her hyped up again, but the sight of Ensign struggling with a kettle had a profoundly settling effect on her, and after regarding him, and the sheer simplicity of the scene around her, Valorie, at last, willed herself to speak.

"What I should have said," Valorie voiced respectfully, "Is that I've met my niece now. And she's a wonderful girl." Sighing, Valorie strummed her fingers together, the normal, nice words not coming easy. "Katya would have been proud of her. And I think I owe you some credit for that too."

"Even if I don't like that she was kept a secret from me," Valorie followed with, without even thinking about it. But it needed to be said, and hey, she wasn't perfect.
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sun 1 Jan - 21:22

Morgan stood across from Aleph in the largely deserted town square, still silently fuming over the cost of the clothing that Aleph had stolen, yes stolen from him. He would make sure that he was compensated by the time their stint together was over or he would take it from Aleph in blood. Alberto wouldn’t mind as long as it didn’t get in the way of their job.

Brainstorming. Right down to business. Perhaps he’d found his first reason for actually respecting such a repulsive creature as Aleph. Aaaaand… then Aleph lost it with his moronic idea of gambling. Sneering, Morgan shook his head. “Is that the best you can do, Fraum? Gambling? You do know there are restrictions against Mages gambling, don’t you? Or at least limiting. And for good reason. You have any idea how easy it would be for someone like me to tip the tables, turning long shots into favorable odds? What little you’d make would be done in back alleys shooting dice. Quickest way to walk into a knife… which I’m sure you wouldn’t mind all that much, come to think of it. No.” Shaking his head, Morgan pushed himself away from the stall he’d been leaning against, glancing up to the quickly darkening sky. They would be able to leave soon, but what good would that do if they didn’t have a proper plan?

“We’ll have to find proper jobs. Something that will support the expenses of capitol living while remaining as inconspicuous and anonymous as possible. Something that will give us reason to be around the castle, the nobles. The upper courts. A scribe, a clerk, a personal aid. I would suggest something more on par with our skills: the military. But something tells me you’ve had little luck there, despite your best efforts to get yourself onto the first Ra-bound ship.”

--

Ensign looked carefully over at Valorie as she followed Link inside, looking forlorn and dejected. There was none of her usual spark. For once, she didn’t feel the need to draw all eyes to her as she entered, and Ensign found himself wondering what Link had said to her. He’d… why, he’d gotten her to come and sit at the table like a normal adult.

"What I should have said is that I've met my niece now. And she's a wonderful girl. Katya would have been proud of her. And I think I owe you some credit for that too."

Though Link did not smile, Ensign could tell by the sharp nod of his head that he was pleased by Valorie’s second attempt at an introduction. At a gesture, Ensign brought the kettle over and poured the steaming water into a teapot while Link seated himself at the table across from Valorie.

“No one was happy with the decision to keep this family a secret,” Link said as Ensign drew mugs and teabags from a cupboard. “But in the end, it was Katya’s choice. And I supported her fully in that decision.” The gaze he leveled at Valorie from across the table was enough to discourage further questions about what might have been—or even regret for the secrets Katya had chosen to keep. Ensign had been on the receiving end of one of those glares once or twice, and so he knew the full power brought to bear against Valorie. He had to hold back a slight chuckle at the memory of thoughts he’d had as a younger apprentice. With a man like Link around, it didn’t take a Mage to freeze someone in place.

“However. That is in the past,” Link continued as Ensign passed him and Valorie each a mug of tea. “Ensign was not able to tell me how long you’d be staying. Or will it be…” His eyes twinkled with laughter. “… as the wind blows?”
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Mon 2 Jan - 20:42

As Mister Negativity droned on about the problems with gambling, Aleph tried to think of more interesting things. Like wallpaper. Or blank books. Aleph wasn't sure what kind of place Morgan was expecting, but the casinos of Khorsa and the Old Treagans were certainly nowhere to be found in the most militantly monitored city in the world, and card games in pubs, restricted or not, wouldn't net them enough to get by anyway. The gambling sport of choice in Lochsalan was races, both with dogs and horses. And both of which, unless Morgan had recently become a Speaker too, were suprisingly hard for mages to rig. Hard... But not impossible. At least for an accomplished enough wind mage that could work without being seen.

But it wouldn't net them enough, not if they kept low profiles enough not to be caught. Morgan, as much as Aleph hated to admit it, and he did hate it, and Morgan, had some good points. And some ones that wouldn't be nearly as difficult as he thought. Getting inside the castle, for instance.

"Nobles come and go from licking Lodewijik's boots every day. It wouldn't be hard to sneak in with them. Besides, Alberto suggested I try and get my noble title back... and you've probably been around him long enough to know he doesn't make 'suggestions'. That gives us a reason to be in the castle. But the Cezare doesn't pay us to be patriots, and he won't let any lowly file clerk into the good stuff, even if we got the job." Aleph rolled his eyes. "And sorry, but the capitol is more than full of people willing to wave swords for money, and has made it very clear they don't want mages in their frontline infantry. Not to mention that by the time we were done working through the ranks the war would already be over. so the army's out."

Any job that wasn't in the castle meant dividing themselves between their duties and a day job... And given Aleph was their ticket in, and Morgan was the one who could read minds, it would make them both less than useless as spies. So. A source of income that wasn't gambling, or a job, and would keep a roof over their heads for the time they'd need to spend in the capitol. Get rich quick schemes were frankly flying through Aleph's head, with everything from robbing a noble blind no matter how much time it took them, to begging Valorie to hand over one of her stashes to them. Begging, not stealing. The artifacts in one alone would be enough to set them up for decades- but the wrath of Valorie, who had shown herself unafraid of Lodewijik several times already, made stealing from them instead of asking her seem more suicidal than profitable.

So, who made money for doing nothing at all? Nobles, but Aleph's family wasn't sending him anything soon. Money lenders, but they had no cash to lend. And, of course...

Aleph blinked, and a small smirk formed on his face. "Hey Morgan," he offered, his voice just snide enough to be taunting, but just serious enough to show his idea was legitimate. "How do you feel about being a trophy wife?"
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Wed 4 Jan - 16:25

The stillness was almost as piercing as the phantom arrows that Tyrulan stood at the ready for, his hands steady despite the booming in his chest. His mismatched eyes, narrowed and focused, searched every break in the foliage for any sign of movement, daring the assailants to move so much as a finger. The seconds passed uneventfully, however, but he didn’t relent. Whoever they were, they were not to be underestimated- but neither was he.

Easily repressing the urge to roll his eyes as Ixiel’s ill-timed joke distantly reached him, Tyrulan gave no reply, his concentration unperturbed. He did have a point, though: the assault appeared to have relented at his order, though there was no telling whether or not it had simply been coincidence. Then again, he was utterly vulnerable where he stood; an easy shot for someone with the skills their attacker possessed, and yet not a single arrow had been sent his way. Yes, it was clear that he wasn’t the target, but even more important, perhaps, was that they weren’t trying to hide the fact. So then, what was their game? If they were after Ixiel, why would they desist on his command? Unless…

Adrenaline fueling his movements, Tyrulan had fired, nocked, and drawn his bow before the three arrows in the tree to his left had stopped shaking, certain he had hit something. There came no yelp of pain, though, but rather the rustling of scurrying forest animals and the notion that he and Ixiel were alone, allowing him to finally let up on the string and take in a full breath. That one had been too close for comfort, he thought, looking to the side to find the three arrows mere inches from his face. They were from the armory, there was no doubt about it now, but that wasn’t all.

“I think that deer’s gonna live to buck another day yer majesty; We… should probably head back.”

Eyes pinned to the three word message that he was clearly meant for him, Tyrulan could only nod slowly in response.

‘Roansfeld. Bad. Blood.’

Did this have something to do with Lachlan Fox's warning? It was unlikely that the two events were merely coincidental, but he wasn’t about to limit himself regardless. The message, albeit only three words long, contained so many possibilities that he tried not to favor any one of them until he had reason to, but despite his best efforts he found himself re-reading the last two words over and over again until a bitter taste entered his mouth.

‘Bad. Blood.’

Whatever it meant, the implications left him ill at ease.

“Here,” Tyrulan offered, pulling his mind back into the moment as he leant his arm and shoulder for support if Ixiel needed it. His wounds, though not lethal, were quite serious, and the less time they wasted on the way back to the bastion, the better; he could think on things later.

“Whoever did this, I’ll see them pay.” Tyrulan assured, snapping the arrows off the tree to tuck them away in his cloak. Yes, he would personally see to it that they regretted what they had done- but not until he found out why.

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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Wed 4 Jan - 19:33

Having siblings sounded… nice, like having a best friend around all the time. Micah insisted that it wasn’t always so pleasant, though, and Isaac had expected that much, but he’d caught the underlying message that Micah still wouldn’t change a thing if given the chance. Isaac didn’t mind being an only child, though, but he did like the idea of never being alone. He had his parents, of course, but that was different.
Listening intently, Isaac glanced up for just a second as Micah dove into a story, the smile on his face becoming contagious as the scene played out in his mind. He knew his mom would probably lecture him for thinking so, but it sounded like fun. Swimming in the river, laughing and having fun, it was clearly a memory that Micah cherished- until his tone darkened at the mention of someone else named ‘Dusk’.

Looking up again towards Micah’s face, Isaac tried to make sense of the sudden change of mood, but found little in the way of understanding. He wanted to know why spending time with the boy had caused fights, and he was curious as to just what had changed, but Micah’s saddened expression held him back. He’d seen a look like that before- whenever his dad spoke of Uncle Luc. Speaking of which…

“My dad told me that change can be a good thing, but only if we realize that just because something isn’t the same, doesn’t mean it’s bad.”

Giving his best assuring nod, Isaac took on his best impression of Xalem, continuing on in an imitated voice.

“Sometimes things have to break so that we can rebuild them stronger than they were before.”

Smiling, Isaac hoped he could cheer up Micah at least a little bit. Everyone was frowning too much lately, anyway.

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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Tue 7 Feb - 21:49

Yowch. The idea of 'not prying' into their keeping Val a secret had never even crossed Valorie's mind. but one look from Link Jacobs was enough to more than convince her how bad of an idea that'd be- and given her rusty start, she wasn't in a very good place to bargain with him about it. If Katya had the kind of force he had shown with just a look... The image of Oaklear wetting himself was the first of many that came to her mind, but it was pretty much how she pictured the results.

Valorie's bladder was made of stronger stuff however, and she even shot Ensign a glare of her own when she saw a smirk slipping onto his face. But she'd have to spare him- she'd gotten off far too many jokes at his own expense, not to mention their episode earlier. She was willing to let a few puns about Ensign staying in the kitchen into her head though. What wasn't said hurt no one.

When Ensign handed Valorie her tea however, she froze, and blinked at Link, scarcely believing what she heard. By Frekki's Frilly Pink Underpants. Link Jacobs, *the* Link Jacobs, had just told a corny joke. Valorie almost dropped her tea. And, for a moment considerably longer than the question itself warranted, she simply blinked, trying to process the idea of it as funny, and feeling like laughing after such a pause would be weird, but not laughing would be putting her back on the wrong track already. What she did manage sounded more like the noises Aleph has used to-

She covered it by drinking tea, and gagging some down before she replied.

"I'll be here as long as it takes. At least until I get my room back." Valorie wasn't about to leave the Council- the *real* Council- to operate without her before Arry-boy was in chains. And on fire. And dead. At the bottom of the ocean. And... on fire again. They had plenty of time to work out the specifics, after he was a body.

"But *here* is still very subjective. Strategically, I still think we're sitting ducks- and I'm a terrible strategist, so we're probably even worse off than that. But if you're asking to try and get rid of me..." Valorie paused, but dropped the joke, not bothering to even pretend she didn't want to be around Link and her niece, and changed her tone. "No. I'm not going anywhere. It ain't the Myrr, but for now, Hillin- Err, Himmin, is home. And you'll have plenty of time to... Tell me anything you are willing to, that I don't know. Which, given a history of alcoholism and general ignorance, is probably a lot."

The hint couldn't have been less subtle, but at least it wasn't forcing anything. She could keep *that* much class, at least with him.
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Wed 8 Feb - 22:30

“Your tacha seems like more of a scholar than a farmer,” Micah said. Not that he knew anyone who had any formal schooling much less who’d been to University. But it sounded like something an educated scholar would say. It sounded backwards, even wrong. But it was said with such seriousness that Micah couldn’t help but think it also sounded exciting. Crazy enough to be true.

In a way it reminded him of Lady Ahlmir. Why, though, he would readily admit he had no idea. He had no reason to connect the two in his mind except for the vague and hazy knowledge that Xalem had once, very long ago, been tutored by the wise old Mage. But that had been before his time. He’d only heard of it second hand, through stories of the Oaklear family that were occasionally told by the older farmhands. Rumors, most of it. But even if he hadn’t believed most of it, it had been sensational to hear about how old Lord Oaklear had sold his sons into slavery because of their magical incompetence, how Lady Ahlmir was protecting his only daughter against a similar fate, how she had vested such an interest in the girl because Cira was not in fact a legitimate child, but the benevolent Lady Ahlmir’s own daughter.

Micah blinked, realizing that his thoughts had carried him in silence for far too long. They had reached the main road and merged with the traffic, moving in both directions on the road, in and out of the capital city.

Straightening his back and squaring his shoulders, Micah put a purposeful spring in his step, eyeing those around him with a mixture of curiosity and wariness. He’d begun to realize that there was really no useful purpose he and Isaac served by waiting for news of Lach and Lady Ahlmir in the city. But Xalem had seemed to understand his need to be as close as possible to his brother.

“All right,” he muttered in an undertone to Isaac, not wishing to draw eyes due to his foreign speech. “First we’ve got to get our story straight. You’re my… uhm… mute cousin from, ah… Millinvol.” He eyed Isaac hard for a moment, biting his lower lip in concentration, then shook his head. There was no way Isaac could pass for a Treagan.
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sun 12 Feb - 23:38

The remainder of the evening passed with a relatively lighthearted tone as Ettorin made quick use of the abrupt dissipation of Rullan and Lachlan’s short but serious exchange, taking the opportunity to ask another set of questions, thankfully- albeit unintentionally- allowing the evening to end on an enjoyable note. Funny, it was the last thing the nobleman could have expected, but an evening at the dinner table with Lachlan Fox Jr had been pleasant despite the odd surfacing of seriousness. Ettorin seemed taken with the young Speaker as her latest best friend as well, and Rullan couldn’t help but admire her innocence. Even he, an advocate for Mage-Common relations, had to admit that he’d had reservations. They’d been dispelled, of course, but it was with an ounce of shame that he still felt surprised at the fact.

And then there was Lady Dahlia Ahlmir.

“Just as kindly as they say,” Rullan complimented, bowing his head to Lady Ahlmir as they collected their things and made their goodbyes. In response she smiled gently but replied with modesty, drawing a friendly chuckle from Rullan as she confirmed his statement.

“As are you. If only there were more friendly souls like you around, the world would be in a much better state.”

Slipping Ettorin’s clock over her shoulders, Rullan smiled without answer, shaking his head instead.

“After having met you- the two of you- I’m a little less concerned about the direction of current affairs,” Pausing for a moment, he swung his cloak over his shoulders, latching the clasp and adjusting the cuffs out of habit before continuing. “Just be certain that you take care, hmm?”

(( WOW am I ever rusty. haha.
Bear with me. ^^; ))

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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Mon 13 Feb - 14:33

((I know, eh? Same feeling when I went and did that Micah post. It's really unhealthy.))
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