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 Tarel Soarvas

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Padawan the Admin
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Fri 19 Aug - 1:01

"We're just going to walk in through the front gate?"

Issac, one brow raised high on his face even long after receiving a nod of confirmation, asked.

"The capital sees a lot more foreign traffic; our arrival will hardly be noted, let alone questioned." Xalem answered back, and though it was undoubtedly logical (for they could already see the steady flow of people through the northern gate) it still felt bold; risky. Perhaps the caution was just a result of their week on the run, spent constantly looking over their shoulders for the shadow of Recide while trudging on without complaint, for that in itself was enough to have them on edge, but as Cira fell in step while they moved towards the gate, she knew the answer was much more simple than that; daunting but strangely comforting in its veracity:

They had come too far to fail now.

Clearing the city wall with little more than a glance of mild interest from one of the four stationed guards, Cira allowed herself a breath only once they had veered onto a quiet street lined with modest-looking houses where she no longer felt the need to keep her eyes low and her figure meek. Still, they moved along in silence, none of them daring to speak until Xalem took the initiative first.

"This road should take us to the grounds. Just like we talked about before: Lady Ahlmir, Lach, you two will be the only ones going in."

Though he didn't turn back as he spoke, Xalem didn't wait for a reply. Everyone already knew the plan- or at least, what little of a plan they had- but at the same time, he knew it wouldn't make things feel any sort of stable. After all, their 'plan b' was to make it up as they went.

"Things look fairly normal here. If anything had happened to the royal family, you can bet the gates would be closed and the guard staff doubled.” Well, that was something, at least.

“Still, there's a chance the guards might not let you in, and if that's the case, we'll have to figure something else out. If they do let you two in, however, it'll be just like we discussed: exit through the west gate and head for the clearing we were in earlier.”

As the houses began to take on a more regal build, Xalem fell quiet, turning only once they had reached the only bend in the street. From where they were the rest of the city was visible, for the royal grounds had been built at its highest post- a plateau that sat a good couple hundred feet above the surrounding forest- giving them a view that would have been worth a mention under any other circumstances. For now, however, the only view they cared about centered around the two guards stationed at the bastion gate.

“Alright,” Xalem huffed, taking a deep breath in before giving Lady Ahlmir and Lachlan the most reassuring grin he had. “you two be careful. We’ll be waiting here in case they don’t let you through.” He said, clapping Lachlan on the shoulder and giving him a nod.

Cira, taking Xalem’s words as her cue to say goodbye, gave Lachlan’s hand one last supportive squeeze before walking over to Ace’s side. Though she said nothing, Lady Ahlmir gave her a gentle pat on the shoulder as she turned away, to which Cira just smiled. The meaning behind the gesture was one of encouragement; to remind her to remain positive, and so she would try. They would be back by nightfall bearing good news and no wounds, and that would be that. She had to believe it. She did.


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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Fri 19 Aug - 15:51

It was true. Both about Galen never drinking his tea and... Otherwise. Alfaina did her best to keep everything at its best in Ospero but still, for some reason, no matter what, Galen and Lach and everyone else kept rejecting it. Recide had the best of everything. Peace, security, luxury... And asking nothing in return but that one person lose something he'd never wanted to begin with. Recide had the right ends in mind and the right means to achieve them. The entire plan was in place, next to foolproof. It wasn't a matter of 'if' but 'when'. But still, on some principle, Galen, Lach, even Cira continued to reject them.

They hadn't changed since their revelation. They were still the same people, they still went through their days the same way as before. Why Recide had suddenly changed into an object of fear was something that Alfaina could only attribute to the selfishness of Lachlan Fox, and irrationality of the others. Even Cira had turned away from her... Even if Alfaina had spoken harshly, she could not help but feel that if she'd only had more time things might have gone differently; if Galen hadn't interfered and gotten them away. But she couldn't feel angry with Galen over what he did. He was doing what he thought was best. And he was doing *something* for that matter, where Lach had only aimless goals and impossible tasks he simply set himself up to fail with.

Which was why Galen's answer to her question made Alfaina both sad and confused. Why couldn't Galen see what she had seen? He had witnessed the kind of persecution they were fighting firsthand. The Council was not an easy place for a Fox, and the world was not an easy one for a Mage. The number of things done to him based purely off of who he was were atrocious. So why did he not feel the same need to end it? If anyone understood Recide's goals, it should have been him. But instead, here she was, having to hold him at rapier-point just to get a full word out of him.

Trent was already rising, holding his bloodied nose, and Alfaina tried to steady her hand, regarding Galen once again. "You know that this is here to protect you. To protect all of us, for that matter. We're not trying to be your enemies Galen. *I'm* not trying to be your enemy."

"So why does the one thing you want have to be the only thing you know we can't give you?" Alfaina slumped slightly, and her blade wavered, but she got it back on track. "Why is Ospero... Why are peace, and a better world not enough for you?"
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Fri 19 Aug - 16:46

When the runner began to ask questions that even implied he might go along with them peacefully, Yild nodded in response to each. Sure, it wasn't really as simple as a mage saving him. He could have said a whole number of things about why he was so angry with the way this mage was getting singled out by the crowd, or about... *Her*, or any number of his life experiences that had taught him how wrong people could be about eachother. But not only were those personal... They also seemed like overkill. If the runner was going to comply, there was no reason to push things any further. He didn't object when the runner insisted on keeping his sheild up, but while lenient, was not going to simply hand over the 'nallir'' (the clarfication was a great help) without learning more.

"That's fine." Yild referred to the ward as the runner approached. "But I can't give you the bag yet. I want to know what's going on first. but before that, we need to get away from this crowd." Switching back to Lochsalanian, Yild turned his chair to face Sena. "Is there anywhere quiet, we can go to work this out?"

"Quiet?" Sena glared at the runner, clearly as distrusting of him as he seemed of their entire group. "What, are we gonna stab him in a backalley?"

"No." Yild said bluntly, and Sena grumbled, and looked away in clear annoyance. Yild felt bad for snapping but... Well, the runner *did* speak Lochsalanian after all, and she wasn't helping things. She didn't have to like it, but Yild wasn't going to let the boy be attacked after he had promised otherwise.

"Then yeah. I know a courtyard that should be empty this time of day." Sena gestured further down the road. "It's got an abandoned spice shop. Will that do?"

"That's sounds fine." Yild smiled at her, before resuming his serious expression and facing the crowd. And... well, Yild didn't know exactly what to say. He tried to think of what Linder would do in this sort of situation, and gave it his best shot. "The situation is being resolved. Please return to your daily routines. Any complaints or testimonies may be sent to the city guard."

The crowd seemed tentative, but when Yild held his ground, they slowly began drifting off. All but one of the merchants who had yelled, and was now marching over to one of the guard's knocked over into the alley. Apparently *he* was ready to give a report in person. Yild didn't envy the poor men who'd have to hear it. But for now, he needed to come through on his claims.

"Lead on Sena."

Sena raised her eyebrow, but seemed fainly impressed at how he'd handled the situation. Without offering any commentary, she turned, and Drow shot Yild a small thumbs up with his spare hand before following. Yild gestured to the runnerto go next. It was obvious that Yild wouldn't be able to grab him even if he wanted to, so putting himself at the back would leave that route open were the runner to take it... but putting him by Drow also meant that he was showing trust in the runner not to try and grab it. Yild remembered thethis sort of training in little details from his schooling; though he hadn't expected to need to use them so quickly after coming to a new city. Nevertheless, the route was quick, and when Sena reached the spice shop, Yild figured that the area was empty enough to not even require going inside. Besides, it would feel less oppresive when the runner had several directions and an open sky available to him if he got nervous.

"This is fine Sena, thank you." He nodded to the maid, and she shrugged. After, he switched to Treaganish, and turned his attention to the runner.

"You know who I am..." Yild suddenly winced, feeling like the statement was pretentious and looking apologetically at Sena as he clarified. Before realizing that he was speaking Treagan, and getting only a confused look in return, though one that still someone seemed to say 'I know what you just did' somehow. "Well, my name, I mean. Who are you?" Though Yild was almost certain he broke the phrase into 'What are you called' instead... Oh well.

"And furthermore... Why is what's in this 'nallir' so important to you? It's... some sort of book, right?" Though Yild didn't want to feel suspicious, he knew that for mages, books could be very powerful tools indeed. Some tomes taught all manners of terrible things and magicks... And given the runner, whoever he was, seemed to be a Warder (if Yild knew his mage types correctly), there was an even greater range for him than most. Yild recalled in fact, that when Alberto first occupied Ravenholm he had made a sweep of every noble home, seeking books on Curses; and he hadn't waited before testing some of them out either. A Warder, properly aggravated, was a dangerous thing. "What do you intend to do with it?"


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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Fri 19 Aug - 17:18

Galen watched Alfaina closely, his eyes taking in each quiver of the blade at his throat and each tremor in her wrist. He was barely listening to her words. He’d heard them before. She’d repeated them until he was weary with the repetition. He’d never answered her, though, and this time would be no different. It was true… the one thing he wanted they would not give him: his freedom. Perhaps he had not been well liked amongst the Council, but he had been free then. Free to come and go as he pleased. And he’d been given purpose there. Work. Here, though… he had no purpose past the day-to-day schemes that had grown by degrees wilder and more impossible in his quickly deteriorating mind. It was now or never. It was now…

Now. Alfaina had slumped. Her blade was quivering. And Trent was only just recovering himself. Spinning back and away from the tip of the blade, Galen planted a solid kick to Trent’s midriff just as he was balancing himself. As he did so, the Pirate’s blade slashed out again, this time catching him across the shin. His bleeding hand curled into a fist as he gritted his teeth to keep from crying out. As he stumbled the few paces to his half-formed Gate, he looked back once to see that Alfaina had lowered her rapier and was… not moving after him. Impossible.

Impossible…

Stumbling through the Gate to the streets of Estrad, Galen closed the Gate as soon as he’d cleared it, sealing off the last view of Ospero he ever hoped to see. When he straightened, he found himself shaking. And he did not know why. It wasn’t the blood dripping steadily down his palm and shin… it was the look Alfaina had given him. That look that begged him to believe that she was no monster. He had thought her cold-blooded, yes. Driven and decided and unwavering in her task. And her task was indeed monstrous. But she also yearned for acceptance.

“Well, she’s going about it the wrong way, isn’t she,” he muttered, limping off down the street and garnering several odd glances along the way. “Out of her mind… if she thought… if she thinks…”

“…Renner. Il trealored Renner.”

Galen paused as the snippet of Treagan came to him. For a moment, he wondered if he had indeed Gated to Estrad as he’d intended. Was he still in the Treaganlands…? The voice continued on in Treagan, asking if it was now illegal for Mages to buy, carry, or otherwise possess books without some sort of license, sounding impatient and more than a little flustered.

“… dag buuch asconcertet tun.”

Rounding the corner, Galen stopped short in shock, his voice failing him for a moment as a young lad whipped around upon sensing his presence and, behind him… a man he had thought never to see again.

“Lord Slauth!”

His eyes then fell on the lad, and hardened as he found the sigil stitched on the young Mage’s shirt. “Are you aware that you are in the company of a Blackshirt?”


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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Fri 19 Aug - 22:04

They had finally made it into Midonsral, the capital city of New Treaganland. Everywhere he looked, Lachlan saw a member of Recide or a face he had seen in Ospero glaring down at him. The guards, the travelers, the street merchants, everywhere he looked, he felt the uncomfortable sensation of one who knows he is being watched. He walked close by Cira the entire time, his misgivings about the whole group of them traveling together rising within him the entire time. The others should have stayed behind. Near the river. In the woods where they’d been safe, where no one knew they’d been.

He would be glad when all of this was over, though… that was certain. In the past five days, the feeling of nausea had only decreased slightly, but never left him entirely. He felt continually on edge, short-tempered and, inexplicably, off balance—as though he were always on the brink of falling. It was so disorienting, Lachlan wondered how most of the experienced Mages had made it through their first few weeks in the mines without some serious injury. And his wrist was bleeding freely again. Cira had woken him in the middle of the night to tell him that he’d been scratching and clawing at it, trying to remove the unyielding manacle, and had torn his shredded skin in the process. For some reason, every time Cira had tried to heal the broken skin, it had opened up again as soon as she withdrew. The healing would not hold… not when it was continually pressed up against the anti-magic of the manacle. And they’d had nothing with which to bandage it.

“All right. You two be careful,” Xalem said, halting the group and turning to them. He clapped Lach on the shoulder as Cira gave his hand one last reassuring squeeze that brought Lachlan back out of the daze he’d drifted into.

“You know we will be,” he answered, offering a weak grin and pulling Cira into a quick hug before she left to join Ace. “We’ll be back before you know we’ve been gone.” He felt none of the bravado his words suggested, but telling himself that everything would work out for the better was the only way to convince himself, and by extension, Cira, that it truly would be that easy.

“Lach, I think I should come,” Micah said, just as Lachlan and Lady Ahlmir turned from the group to make for the gate. “Just in case you need an extra hand.”

“Micah… we’ve talked about this,” Lach said, knowing that Micah would not give in without one more attempt.

“I know, but I was thinking that—“

“Micah. It has to be them. Just the two of them,” Ace said quietly, pulling Micah back. “Don’t you think we’d all like to go?”

Micah looked down to the ground, somewhat angrily. “Yeah, but…” his voice caught in his throat, and Lachlan had to look away as the next words came. “Last time I let you out of my sight, Lach… I didn’t see you for four years.”

Not knowing what to say, Lachlan glanced briefly to Ace before going over and pulling Micah into a tight hug. Micah… wanting to protect him… it was…

“Well that’s not quite so, is it? But we’ll be back before nightfall.”

And with that, Lachlan turned as one with Lady Ahlmir to the palace gates and the guards who stood, solid as stone and ignoring all travel and all passersby. He did as she and Ace had suggested, and approached with as much of a confident spring in his steps as he could put there, Lady Ahlmir at his side. As soon as it was clear that they were approaching the gates and not simply walking by, the guards turned their attention to the two of them.

“Vanar hertec nic dag nesalin tärgid ur?” they asked, and Lachlan took a breath, answering in flawless Treagan and gesturing back to Lady Ahlmir as she’d told him to do.

“Nach dag Council rav Myrr, dag Lady Dahlia Ahlmir. Der verdet tar dag regal femilar hespinen.”

The guards looked between themselves for a moment before grins cracked across their faces and they began laughing.
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sun 21 Aug - 11:56

Though 'Renner' had come along peacefully enough, his instant protests when Yild has tried to ask him anything past his name made it clear that this was not going to be an easy process. Whatever was in that rucksack was not only something important to him, but something that he was going the extra mile to prevent others from finding out about. A normal criminal, when faced with questions like the ones Yild had posed, would probably have lied, and given Yild's lack of any way to confirm or deny whether what the mage said was the truth he would have been forced, in all likelihood, to beleive him. But Renner was frustrated enough that he hadn't even tried to come up with an excuse. What could get him as worked up as he was? Yild was beginning to wonder whether his guess about a book of Curses wasn't so far off.

As Renner launched into a tirade of his own, sarcastic questions (though Yild had a hard time picking up on the actual tone of sarcasm in the foriegn tongue, the words themselves made Renner's intent obvious enough), Yild settled back into his chair for the long haul. He listened through Renner's remarks before trying to calmly but sternly reply back in Treagan; he needed to get the tension down, but he couldn't drop his guard either. "No. but it is illegal for *anyone*, Mage or otherwise, to be in possession of stolen property. Though whether it originally belonged to you or not shouldn't stop you from saying what you intend to do with it now."

"Is it a tome of some sort?" Yild hesitated but decided he might as well go for his next question if he ever intended to get anywhere here. "Can I maybe just look at it myself?"

Asking permission was better, Yild supposed, than simply taking the rucksack and checking it himself. Though he didn't know if he'd have much of a choice soon. If someone like that Serville fellow were here... But no. It was wrong for him to even consider taking the information by force. Just because you were capable of doing something didn't make it right.

"Lord Slauth!"

Yild turned, and he was shocked to see, of all people, Galen staggering up to them. Before he could stop himself, he had already spoken back, the man's warning about a Blackshirt falling on deaf ears in light of what his presense in Estrad meant. His interest in Renner all but lost, he rolled towards the newcomer immediately. "Galen!? Why are you here? Is Cira safe? Why-"

He stopped short when Sena put her hand in front of him, her green eyes running over the other man's wounds suspiciously. She glanced to Yild.

"You know this man?" When Yild nodded, Sena looked back to Galen, bu still didn't lower her guard. "Who injured you? Did they follow you here?"

Yild hadn't even considred that. Galen had stayed behind with Recide before. He came to Estrad to get away from that group... and despite his actions, Yild knew that Galen had been stopped before. If Recide was on their way, Yild didn't know whether he should turn the older Fox in immediately... Or try to escape. Neither was appealing. And on top of it all...

Switching back to Treaganish, Yild leveled his eyes on Renner, not entirely sure how much of Galan's random appearance he could belief, but not taking any chances. "You work for Arry-b-" Yild had to cut himself off. He had heard Valorie call the mad warlord by a pet name so many times that it almost stuck with him too. "Arathorn?"
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sun 21 Aug - 12:51

“I’ve only just gotten… Cira’s fine. At least there’s been no news of them yet. The last I…”

Galen paused to catch his breath as the woman at Lord Slauth’s side cut in, interrupting both him and the Lochsalanian noble. “I…” he glanced behind him, as if her question had suggested to him that the Vashovy would come barreling down the lane after him at any moment. “No. I don’t think so. I Ga…” he faltered at the look on the woman’s face as comprehension darkened her face. “…Gated here.”

He paused again, his attention drawn back to the Blackshirt, wondering for the second time what Yildegarde Slauth was doing in such company. The lad’s eyes were glued to a rucksack in Drow’s hands, though, and this made the picture somewhat clearer.

Without warning, the lad lunged for the rucksack, and Galen reached out reflexively towards him, binding his body to immobility. Unable to stop the momentum he’d gathered, the Blackshirt fell to the ground, immediately fighting off the Wards holding him. Galen stumbled back as the boy burst free, taken by surprise at the show of sheer strength the boy possessed. He himself was not considered a Mage of considerable strength, but to come across a mere lad with not only strength, but skill to back it…?

“Il ranalled,” the boy spat, turning back to Yild. “En dag buuch asconcerten Communis.”

“Vana… What book?” Galen asked, switching to Lochsalanian as he realized it would be easier for Lord Slauth to answer in his native language.

“Fallin… seir tu aen Council rav Myrr Majier?”

Galen nodded briefly, and somewhat warily. “Tagon, il seil.”

“Vanar trealorin tu?”

Galen hesitated, caught somewhat off guard by the rapidity of the Blackshirt’s questions. And the fact that he no longer seemed quite so on edge. “… Galen Fox.”

“Dag Zohn rav Elan Ragor?”

“Tagon.”

The Blackshirt remained silent for a long while, looking between Galen and Drow, his brow creased, his mind obviously ticking away as he decided what to do with his newfound information. At long last, he turned to Drow and switched back to his choppy Lochsalanian. “Give him…” he pointed to Galen. “The… book.”


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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sun 21 Aug - 16:28

"They're not getting in." Xalem groaned, watching the guards laugh in the face of whatever Lachlan had said. They were watching from a safe distance, out of sight in an alleyway sparing quick glances through the gates of the grounds, just waiting for the right moment to leave and make for the forest. It wouldn't come, though, unless Lachlan could convince the guards to let them pass. Unless...

"Who is that?" He asked, looking to Micah and Ace for answers. A young woman, just of age to be considered as such, was making her way out of the gate; moving past Lachlan and Lady Ahlmir with little more than an inquisitive once-over in acknowledgment. A well-adorned guard tailed her at a practiced pace as she went- clearly of high rank to even the most oblivious of onlookers- while she herself gave off an air of high status. If her clothes weren't enough to say it, then her assertive beauty suggested royalty, and even before a response came, Xalem was certain she was a member of the very family they were out to save.

"Maybe she can help them get in..." He muttered, half to himself. Judging by how things were going with Lach and Dahlia, he knew they needed to start looking for other options. The only thing stopping him from jogging out the speak with the woman however, was the four foot long claymore glistening menacingly on the back of her escort and the metallic shine of the dark metal that made up his armor. It was likely he wouldn't take too kindly to random strangers seeking a word with his charge, unless they had something of substance to say- something that would pique the interest of the young woman- and if the laughter of the gate guards had taught them anything, it was that the claim of bearing an important warning wasn't enough.

Looking back just long enough to wave Ace over, Xalem returned his eyes to the girl and watched her path, hoping not to lose sight of her.

"Ace, any ideas?" He asked, knowing they had only a few dozen seconds to act before she disappeared down the street; possibly taking whatever opportunity had just presented itself with her. Still, being hasty would only get them in trouble.


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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sun 21 Aug - 17:53

“That’s Zaaltoryna Cantoradel!” Micah breathed, wide-eyed from beside Ace. And he actually moved forward slightly to get a better view of the princess. “Wow… just like the bards describe her! The coronet, and her dress and…”

Ace pulled Micah back a little more roughly than she normally would have. “Micah! You’re… that’s the Zaaltoryna!”

“I know…” A dreamy look had entered his eyes. “Isn’t she beau—“

“Micah!” Ace exclaimed again, this time her tone somewhere between remonstration and amusement. “Really…” she turned her attention back to Xalem, considering his question for a moment as she watched the Princess and her guard make their way down the street. At the gate, Lachlan and Lady Ahlmir had paused and, in all likelihood, completely forgotten their quest. Lachlan, at least, would have recognized her in the same way Micah and Ace had—the circlet resting lightly upon her head. “Well… I’m not sure. We could…”

“Oh, I know!” Micah whispered excitedly, his eyes still glued firmly to the princess. “I know, we could tell her that we can fix her brother’s eyes!”

“Micah, you can’t just march up to a Zaaltoryna in the street and expect to get a word in. Besides, I’m sure they’ve had others offer them the very same!” Noticing that Xalem was looking between them, rather confused at Micah’s suggestion, Ace moved to clarify. “Zaaltoryn Tyrulan’s eyes are… well, they’re mismatched. One of them is brown, and one is green. I think.” She turned to Micah for confirmation, and he nodded once. “It’s caused him a few problems, I’d imagine. People wonder whether he is a Mage… and, given the last Zaaltoryn named Tyrulan was also a Mage… well, that was what started the civil war. And eventually split the Treaganlands.”

Micah nodded, growing more excited about his idea, it seemed. “Exactly, which is why Zaaltoryn Tyrulan is bound to want it fixed! As soon as his father dies, he’ll be Zaaltor. And he can’t have anyone questioning his right to rule.”
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Mon 22 Aug - 19:13

Sheepish at his own sudden outburst of questions, Yild was nevertheless glad that Galen took the time to answer all of them, and to... satisfactory enough ends. No news was good news. No; no it wasn't, especially when Cira was concerned. But it was better than bad news, at least, and Yild could accept that. When Galen began to mention that he had Gated to them, Yild was at first puzzled by his sudden change of phrase, but realized why he had done it, in futility or not, when Sena's expression became more hostile than it had been at any time with Renner thus far. Now, there were two mages talking about the book. And while her open animosity wasn't helping any matters, Yild would admit that it was in some ways understandable. Especially as Renner and Galen took to talking entirely in Treagan on their own, effectively butting her and Drow back out of any input in the events proceeding in front of them.

Renner's irritated tone, transcending all language barriers, only served to escalate the situation. And when, after this long discussion, he turned and issued orders, even Yild was beginning to get irked himself. He had managed to pick up most of the details, and he was confused enough by it... and suspicious. Of Galen almost as much as Renner. He had just told him that he was with the Council, but Yild knew for a fact that he had yet to actually see them, especially if he had only just fled from Recide. And, from what Yild knew, he had been with Recide for a good long time before the rest of them had even arrived.

Too many lies. Too many secrets. Yild was sick of it.

"No." Yild answered the quzzical look his bodyguard had been giving him after Renner's demand, and turned on the Mages, his tone serious now. "That's enough out of both of you."

"He," Yild pointed to Galen. "May have been with the council once, but he hasn't associated himself with them in at least a month. I doubt he even knows where they are at the moment. And judging by your garb," he gestured to Renner now, "Either Lord Arathorn has suddenly become very lax about his dress code, or you're on the run. And as mages can Gate, and you haven't returned to Arathorn, you're on the run from him. As well as the city guard." He turned to his bodyguard, fully into a managerial mode. "Drow, hand me the bag, and take Panya."

His bodyguard complied, and Yild held the book shakily in his one hand, resting it on his lap. He still didn't know whether it was indeed a cursed tome or not, so he handled the bag with chair, only opening it enough to peek the top half of the cover out, and even then making a show of not looking at it, holding it by the bag and extending it out, slightly to Galen, though making it clear that he was only holding it up to be seen, not taken.

"He doesn't seem to want me to look at this, so I won't. That means I'm trusting you on this Galen. What is this? Is it dangerous?" He looked to Renner on that one as well. Though he was being as inoffensive as possible, he was going to have to make the reason for his concern clear now if ever. "And if you know, where did he get it? The city guard was chasing him for some reason, and I'm guessing you'd know how justfied they are more than I would."
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Mon 22 Aug - 20:55

Galen was rather taken aback, both by the Blackshirt’s order to give him the mysterious book and by Yild’s sudden counter order to Drow. He also paused at the glimmer of mistrust that he had caught in Yild’s eyes. It had been directed not only at the Blackshirt, but himself as well. When Drow moved to hand Yild the book, the Blackshirt started and moved forward as if to stop him. And though the book had been intended for him, Galen moved forward to stop him, laying a hand on the Blackshirt’s shoulder instead of engaging him in a battle of Wards. He’d felt the power rippling through the Mage the first time, and had no desire to test himself against the younger Warder.

He watched as Yild took the book carefully and tipped it in his hand so that the covering fell partially away from it. Yild then held up the slim volume for him to examine, and when Galen saw the title embossed in gold on the cover, his jaw fell slack and he nearly forgot Yild’s demand that he not touch it. His hand was half way to the book before he remembered himself, and he exhaled slowly instead, eyes flickering between Yild and the Blackshirt. More for Yild and Drow’s benefit, he spoke his question in Lochsalanian. “Where did you get that?” he asked in a low voice.

“I…” Renner’s eyes flickered to Yildegarde Slauth once before returning to Galen. “I take… taked… it. From High Mage’s… building.”

“You took it from the High Mage’s tower?” Galen asked, his eyebrows crinkling together in question. “It… it was blown up.”

“Before.”

“Why?” Again, Galen was surprised by the intensity in his voice. “Why did you take it?”

“I… I don’t knoh.”

“And you wanted me to have it because…?”

“'Ecause… 'cause…” Renner looked around, as if casting his mind about for the words to express himself. “Arathorn… ignore. ‘Reak Speaker Lah. Council… kee- keed? Council…”

Galen held up his hand, and Renner stuttered to a halt. He turned to Yild. “It’s not cursed, so you’ve no need to worry there. It is a law book, containing the Speaker Articles, which were put in place by High Mage Devaki. It’s…” he glanced at Renner. “Probably the only original law book remaining. All of our laws are housed in the High Mage’s tower, which was… apparently bombed.” Renner glanced down to the ground at this. “It’s… it must be returned to the Council.”

“He take,” Renner said at once, motioning again to Galen. “Him nephu Speaker.”
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Tue 23 Aug - 13:43

The High Mage's tower? Yild looked at the book in his hand, now impressed at how far the volume had traveled. He was well aware of Recide's destruction of the Myrr, and the ensuing losses. Even if it had, by Recide's word, been neccessary, it was a tragic event, and that anything of major worth had been saved was fantastic; commendable even. And a book on mage law... Though he wasn't certain why Renner was so opposed to the idea of him seeing it, he actually wanted to now, if only out of curiosity. Anything with that level of significance was a once in a time opportunity to peruse. And, though he wouldn't say it... The Council under Arathorn could turn into a serious threat. The more he knew about how the group itself operated, the more he'd be prepared to fight them if things did come to that.

Drow's expression when Yild looked to him seemed to express a similar interest. Onemade slightly less serious by the cloaked little girl in his arms, but that was beside the point. But before Yild could even begin to ask about possibly looking at it himself first, Sena's voice, at a bitter deadpan, interrupted the silence.

"Burn the book."

The dark suggestion surprised Yild, even considering what he had already heard from Sena. He actually pulled the book a little closer to himself out of instinct at hearing it; with the knowledge that it wasn't cursed, he was now concerned, from how serious Sena sounded, that she might go through with her suggestion all on her own if given the chance. Not that he wasn't going to object immediately.

"No..." Yild turned to face her, concerned. "Why in the world would I do that?"

"It *is* dangerous." Sena insisted, and when Yild didn't react, clarified with a growl. "Mages making their own laws is dangerous. And he even admitted it was stolen. You can't trust them. The kid's a freaking blackshirt. For all we know, that book might just convince the rest of them that they're better than us too. Burn it. Better safe than sorry when you're dealing with mages."

"I find that... very unlikely..." Yild rejected the idea, but was disturbed to find that on some level he agreed with part of her argument. Mages making their own laws had always been one of the chief reasons for people's distrust of them. They worked in places from which they forbid Common's from being present, dealt with those who weren't mages only out of neccessity, and even ran their own government. It was the reason they had become so isolated in the first place. If things had been different; some of the stigma that came just from being with mages removed, then maybe long ago he and Cira...

Without another thought, Yild handed the book, not even bothering to ask if he could look through it. His thoughts were going back to that dangerous area. He was supposed to be moving on now. He was... finding a wife, here in Estrad.

"All knowledge is precious..." Trying to cover for his real, rash reasoning, Yild spoke a quick clarafication to Sena, explaining himself. Or at least, coming up with what he could for a reasoning. "And even if it was taken... It was from Lord Arathorn. I doubt even you'd contest that it's better for the book to be in the hands of the Council than in his."

Thankfully, she didn't seem to be able to argue with the logic, and accepted it with a grumble. Though, noticeably, made no effort to apologize to Galen or Renner either. She was pretty violently opposed to many things it seemed... But this close to the Khorsan border, Yild wouldn't be surprised to hear that sort of thing as the common sentiment. With a big, and a little c. But even if she wasn't the most hospitable person around, Yild wasn't going to provide the same example.

"You don't intend to go chasing down the Council with those wounds, do you Galen?" Yild redirected his full attention to the mages again. Anything to shift attention away from the obvious tension. "You should come with me to the Duchess. I can't say there'll be any Healers around-"

"Nope." Sena stated, bitterly. "They all scampered off after the Duke died. No more money to leech out of Estrad."

"*But*," Yild continued. "You should at least get patched up. Especially considering who was the cause of these wounds, I don't think poison can be eliminated as a possibility. Or at the least infection."
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Tue 23 Aug - 14:02

“No!” Galen barked, startled by the Ra’ans simple… was it suggestion or demand? Burn the book? The Speaker Articles? It hit closer to home for Galen than he suspected it would even the most legalistic of Mages. Or even the most book consumed Mage (such as Tiberius Nutmeg). As she continued with her reasoning, Galen found himself growing even more irritated by her clear hostility towards Mages than he had been before. It was people like her who undermined even those things Mages did for a Common’s protection. And it was all he could do to keep himself from coming up with a retort. What they did not need was an argument, however, and though Galen was not exactly sure what motivated Yildegarde Slauth… he at least felt confident that the book would not be burned under his watch.

He took the book carefully as Yild handed it to him, the Blackshirt watching the exchange closely, as if afraid of some treachery on Yildegarde’s end. “Don’t worry…” he said. “I’ll make sure it gets to the Council.” The Blackshirt nodded once, though Galen was fairly sure the only reason he’d managed to remain so calm was that he’d only understood about half of what was being said. The Ra’an had been speaking far too rapidly for him to pick up on all of her words.

Tucking the book under his arm and examining his slashed palm as the young Lord pointed it out, Galen nodded slowly, grimacing at the thought of poison. “Thank you, I…” he looked up, and found that he didn’t know what to say in the face of such kindness from a Common. He wasn’t sure that Arlan would even have made the offer without a grudging tone. No… that wasn’t true. At times, though, it felt like it.

Looking down at his hand again, now red with blood, Galen felt rather sheepish for accepting aid from the nobleman. It was a powerful gesture, and one that he would not ignore. And it serve to prove that Recide was wrong. “This is what they’re working towards,” he said quietly. “Recide. But… if it can be found here. Now. Without war…” Was such a war necessary? Yildegarde Slauth’s offer… suggested not.
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Wed 24 Aug - 21:42

Though Yild waved Galen's thanks away, his hand now free of bookly constraints, he found that he was a bit confused at Galen's own apparent surprise at the situation. The man was bleeding in the street. Why wouldn't Yild offer him aid? Even if they hadn't known eachother long, the fact that they had both endured their time with Recide and left had been, he thought, a connecting enough experience that he at least knew the man's motivations more than he used to. That Galen had stayed behind while Ci- Lach, and the others had left, showed a good deal of courage on his part. And his promises about keeping Recide's secret were equally convincing; at least of his convictions. Yild didn't have much trust for anyone at the moment... But he beleived at the very least that Galen was trying to the right thing, even if exactly what that was was proving increasingly unclear.

The other mage, however, Yild was not sure what to think of. Renner may have stolen the book from Arathorn, but those shopkeeps had been angry; and it seemed like it was for more than just his genes. But for now, Yild saw no reason to act against him. There was enough persecution before facts going around without him adding to it, and when the mage didn't express his own intentions, Yild extended an offer to him as well.

"You'll stay too, won't you Renner?" The expression Yild got back told him almost immediately that this wasn't his intended course. But on some level, Yild felt sorry for the mage. He was trying to help, in his own way, and had gotten a rather rude welcome for it. Past that... He wasn't looking so good. Renner's clothes were ragged, and he both looked, and smelled, as if he hadn't had accomodations past at the very best barns for a good while. And, though he didn't want to offend, Yild was willing to say as much if it got him off the road long enough to pull himself together. "Forgive me, but you don't look in the best of shape yourself. There's no reason to rush forward. And... those clothes are almost torn to shreds. I'm not very large... I think I might have a few things in your size as well."

Yild realized that he had kept his speech in Lochsalan, and winced, wondering how much of it had gotten through, and looking at Galen for neccessary detail filling. "Sorry... I'm not quite sure I know the Treagan for all of that."

"You aren't serious, are you?" Sena's voice protested. Unlike Renner, she had definitely heard all of Yild's offer, and her expression was far from happy about it. "Dragging two mages into the Castle? One of them a criminal?"

More of the same; though this time at least, Sena had more say in it than before. Yild knew that now he was talking about taking people into her home for help; a home he himself had not even properly been welcomed to. Still, he felt strongly enough about his decision to defend it. "Would you object if it were two Ra'ans?"

"Honestly?" For once, Sena seemed ready for an instant answer. However, when she saw that Yild was indeed considering her opinion, she became less harsh once again. More... resigned. "I might. Yild, you really don't seem to realize how dangerous it is to just open your doors to people like that.

"I trust Galen." Yild nodded to the man. "And I trust that Renner has no reason to do us harm."

"He's a mage." Sena grumbled. "He doesn't need another reason."

At this point, the argument sounded stale, and even Sena seemed to know it. After a long moment of silence, she shrugged, growling to herself.

"Do whatever you want. But if they make one move towards the Duchess, you can forget hands." Sena flipped the knife up and caught it facing Galen, the handle landing nearly perfectly and in a position that, if she had been close to the mage, would have been in the perfect place to remove his head at the neck. "I'm chopping off heads with this thing."

Though it was more of a threat to keep Galen and Renner in line than anything else, Yild found himself questioning how Sena seemed as talented as she did. A normal servant, regardless of their position, wouldn't be assuming the sort of stances used in actual dueling, or, no matter how many street performers made a trick out of it, be able to catch and handle a knife as readily as she did. Not to mention her aggressive attitude. She seemed to hate Lochsalanians almost as much as mages. What was someone like her doing as the maid for a Duchess?

Whatever the case, he was glad for her consent, however grudging. He looked to Renner for his answer, hoping he wouldn't be as stubborn in accepting help as Sena seemed about the idea of giving it.
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Thu 25 Aug - 10:29

“You’ll stay too, won’t you Renner?”

Renner shook his head immediately and waved his hands to fortify his already clear response. “No, I go,” he said, looking distrustfully at Sena once before returning his gaze to Yild. It was quite clear that in his eyes, the two were no different. Both were Common and, as Sena clearly believed of Mages, they were all the same. His general unease around Yildegarde would have been enough of an answer to the question, but the sheer look of distrust he shot the young Lord’s way as he continued (with Renner picking up words only here and there) was definitive.

And though Galen himself still held serious misgivings about the Blackshirt, he translated Yildegarde’s offer, conscious of the weight of the book under his arm and the great service the Blackshirt had done in bringing it to him. When he heard Yildegarde’s offer to clothe him, though, Renner looked simply horrified at the idea, and immediately shook his head again, muttering, “Hof, no… I go. I go.”

And he turned to leave. Sena’s incredulous voice stopped him in his tracks, though, and he turned back with a truly ugly look on his face. Sneering, and putting as much venom as he could into his poor Lochsalanian as he could, he said, “Crimeenal? You knoh me not. And you judge like you are so… so high. So might-ee. Stay? Hah. I stay not in company of Common if I am pay. You are not so different as Khorsans.”

He turned to leave, but again was stopped short by Yildegarde’s question. And though it was not addressed to him, he was… confused by the Common’s persistence. “Would you object if it were two Ra’ans?” What was his game? What did he hope to gain from all of this? And the other Mage… Galen Fox. It was simply disgusting the way he looked at the Common. Grateful when he was thrown a scrap of attention. And the way he dipped his head, subservient to the Common. Renner had no doubt that the man who claimed loyalty to the Council would just as soon pledge loyalty to the Common, if only he received acceptance in return. It worried Renner enough to stay his feet, his eyes fixed once again on the book.

He sneered again at Sena’s gimmick with the knife, almost wanting to challenge her. Before he could, though, he found, incredibly, that the other Mage had acted first. Swiftly, and without hesitation, Galen reached out and wrapped a Ward, long and slim as slim sail rigging, out to her wrist. Renner could follow it with his eyes, though it would be quite invisible to the Commons. In one fluid motion, Galen jerked the Ward, and the knife fell from her grip. Another Ward encased the fallen blade as soon as it hit the ground.

“I will not be spoken to in such a manner,” Galen said in a low voice, marching up to the Ra’an until they stood nearly toe to toe. “I am an honest man and have never wronged a soul, Common or Mage, and yet I have been disowned from my family for the sake of my brother, who is a Common.” He jerked his head towards Renner. “He is right in saying that you judge before you know. I regret doubting even the Blackshirt now.”
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Thu 25 Aug - 22:13

Every time. Every time Yild tried to do something good, it wound up being twisted into something like this, with Sena and Galen bearing down eachothers throats and Renner looking more enraged than ever. The moment Galen had used magic to snatch away her knife, Sena's look had turned from anger and distrust to sheer hatred. The tiniest things always flared into something bigger, and then bigger... It was because of this, and people being so ready to leap at eachother that they would do it on the slightest provocation, that the hatred and distrust that persisted in the world did so so strongly.

"Come on." Though she was shorter, Sena stood squarely with Galen as he made his approach, the two close enough that each could likely feel the others breath, as hot their howling tempers. Though she lacked a knife, her hands were clenched as if she still held one, and Yild had no doubt that if she was pushed then neither of them would find the other as easy as prey as they expected. Sena's face was half smile and half snarl. "Give me a reason."

Every time, this happened. But Yild wasn't going to let each time turn out the same way. Enough was "ENOUGH!"

Yild's voice was suprisingly loud in the still alley. It actually managed an echo, and he glanced at Panya, but, somehow, the angelic girl was still asleep. It was better that she didn't see all of this though; so he was glad for it.

"Why does every act of decency have to turn into a fistfight?" Yild's look seemed to accuse everyone there, himself included, for having things go this far. He was staying as authoritative now as he could and, it felt strange to see that at the very least on Sena, it seemed to be working. "I had to stand for it in Ravenholm but I won't stand for it here. Sena, back down."

Sena seemed caught off guard by being addressed directly, but she still managed to glare at Galen again. "He's asking for-"

"Sena." Yild spoke determinedly, but almost pleadingly. He just wanted this confrontation to end. "Could you please just take us to the castle?"

"But..." Sena was still standing painfully close to Galen, and she was looking at him with as much confusion and... almost hurt, as actual rejection.

He didn't know what else to say. Yild tried one last time, his voice losing a lot of its intensity. Instead it just sounded... Weary. "Please."

"...Your eyes..." Sena finally took a few, hestitant steps back from Galen, looking at Yild with something like awe. "Look very purple when you're angry." The idea seemed to unsettle Sena further, and she paused, looking at Galen for a moment. "I'm..."

After an awkward pause, Sena growled again and turned away, marching off down the street again. "Screw it. Let's go."

With a sigh of relief (or exasperation- even Yild couldn't tell now) at the issue being, however temporarily, resolved, he placed himself and Drow between the mages and the angry Ra'an, while also quietly accepting Panya back into his lap, her sleeping form like a note that it was time for silence once more. They would go on to the castle now. But Renner...

Looking at the young mage, Yild spoke again in his archaic Treagan. "Whatever you decide to do, I wish you the best. I'll do what I can to get Galen and your book to the Council." And he would. Yild had nothing to lose there. But after what Renner had gone through (a bombing, and guards at the least), he was concerned for the boy's chances alone again. "I hope you'll reconsider. I'll have a door to the infirmary left unlocked, just in case."
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Fri 26 Aug - 19:43

“Asjetéin cern.”

With these two words, Renner turned from the group at large, turning back once to lock eyes with Galen and receive a parting nod. A nod of confirmation as Galen’s grip on the book tightened. In that gesture was all Renner needed to know that the book would indeed reach the Council. And with that weight lifted from him, Renner was free to leave. He did so without hesitation and without acknowledging Yildegarde’s parting words. They were empty.

Galen watched the lad until he disappeared, making his way on foot, apparently unwilling to display his magic once more until he was far from Sena and any other Common with watchful eyes. When he was finally out of sight, a little of the tension in the air drained away, though admittedly not much. Stooping, Galen released the Ward binding the knife to the ground, took it up in his hands (making sure to wrap his own hand in a thin Ward in case Sena became a little too overenthusiastic about getting it back), and offered it to the Ra’an, hilt first. “You might find that we are not so terrible… if you would withhold judgment only until you get to know us,” he said, a hint of frustrated anger in his voice. “I had nothing against you before.” And hard as it was, if only because Lord Slauth wished it, he would try his very best not to hold anything she’d said as of yet

That said, Galen allowed Lord Slauth and Drow to step between them, not at all sorry to be separated from the hostile Ra’an who, despite having received her precious knife back, she seemed not to have changed in any way except that she had bent to the young Lord’s will. As the air cleared and tempers slowly calmed, Galen became more acutely aware of the wounds at his palm and leg. A speckled trail of blood followed them down the street.

After quite some time, he ventured tentatively, “How has Panya been?”
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sun 28 Aug - 0:02

Even if the silence that followed Yild's group was formed out of a painful tension, Yild took it for what it was, and savored the fact that at least no one was fighting. Renner hadn't made the choice to follow them. But hopefully, he'd come around. If he didn't, Yild could only send out his best wishes that the poor kid would be okay all by himself. But somewhere, deep down, Yild had a strange suspicion that for better or worse he would never see the young Warder again. He tried to ignore it, and contented himself to quietly holding Panya, still, somehow, sound asleep. He didn't know how she managed it, and still was able to have so much energy from the moment she woke up. Relying on the bottom of Drow's feet to keep moving with the group, Yild let himself be so completely absorbed in watching Panya's small form relax away in dreamland that it took him a moment to register that Galen had asked a question about her.

When he did comprehend it, it still took him another long moment to think of a response. He had been with Panya and Drow, almost exclusively, for days now. And while he was trying to put the past behind him, the young girl had almost none of his reservations or shyness when it came to revelling in the world beyond the schemes and plots they had become entangled in. She was encouraging. Heartwarming. But that had nothing to do with how she felt; just how he did. And so, struggling for precise words, Yild slowly and carefully answered.

"Panya's... good. She seems to like the travelling. Seeing new places. They're new experiences for her, and she's a very curious child. You should have seen her when we rafted up the Norahad. I've never seen a smile so big or so genuine." Yild felt a smile rise to his own face as he thought back to the river. Even he had felt envigorated by Panya's energy there, and had almost forgotten his problems in light of their mad trip down the waterway. But then he had started thinking of the currents, and the place they were coming from, and *she* came back into his mind. Not to mention the other Oaklear, for whom Panya's own questions came. Deflating a bit, Yild continued his formerly happy assessment on a more somber note.

"She misses Alfaina," he said finally. Sadly. "And I don't know what to tell her when she asks when we'll go back to Ospero again." Looking squarely at Galen, Yild shrugged in his weak little half-sided way. "If she asks me to go, I don't know what I'll say. I can't seem to say no to her."

"We're here!" Sena's voice cut into the sentiment, and Yild realized that they had indeed reached their destination. Estrad Castle was grand, if weathered, its stone the same color as those of the walls of the city, as if it were the centerpiece of a great web. A grand balcony opened up on one of its sides, towards the sea and visible even as far down as they were (the castle being easily four or more tall floors in height). The gate that led into the city was itself as solid a structure as the walls; plain and hard metal and stone, unlike the bars or checkerboard or even wood of most normal castles. Signs of when the possibility of Khorsan invasion had been taken very seriously, though, now with the almost comically small in comparison to the door figure of Sena the only one fighting to get into the old gate, Yild didn't suspect that the threat of a Ra'an takeover was considered a huge concern at the present moment. "Yo, open up!"

"Oi, we got it." A voice came back from somewhere above the gate. "Hold yer bloody horses..."

"If the horses were bloody, they'd be too slippery to hold," Sena shot back. "Do I need to come up there and do it myself?"

"Bah." The voice offered only a loud grunt in response, and, slowly, the door creaked its way open; before stopping with more than half the way left to go. Sena seemed to take this as the go ahead however, and marched through, and though Yild paused a moment to wonder at their hesitance to open it fully, he followed her anyway.

The courtyard that followed was an almost eerie replica of his own in Ravenholm; though, admittedly, much larger sized and in far better shape. The water that ran in the fountains was still clear and fresh, the lawn was green, smelling faintly of the ocean, and the only dogs in sight were in a statue of a hunter with a pair of fine hunting dogs at his side that Yild assumed to be some Estrad Duke past. Guards stood tall and ready beside each layer of the gateA second gate, of a more typical sort, opened for them there, and beyond it, in a grand entrance hall, Sena stopped, Yild and Drow coming to a stop in front of her as she placed her hands on her hips and stared fiercely at them.

"Now you'd better be on your best behavior here. No funny business. This is Eliade's throne room. If the Duchess says leave, you leave." She seemed to be eyeing them all equally at this point, and Yild was silently glad that she wasn't singling Galen out, even if it did mean he was under scrutinty himself. "If she says go right, you go right. If she says jump, you say how high."

"I might have to contest that last one," Yild offered jokingly, but Sena only glared at him, and he slumped back into his chair. Whoever the Duchess was, Sena was being surprisingly defensive of her, especially considering the Ra'ans seemingly great distaste for Lochsalanian nobles. When she continued glaring, he nodded at her demands, and Sena frowned, as if thinking of ways to delay them further. Finally, finding none, the maid sighed to herself, and pushed open the gate further inwards, unveiling the Throne Room of Estrad!

Or, more accurately, stairs. The entrance hall opened into yet another hall, which, in turn, had a wide flight of stairs in its center and was equally on the first and second floor of the large castle. Sena started marching up them immediately, and was a good twenty or so up before she finally winced and realized what she had done. Her walk back down the stairs was slower, and less motivated, and when she reached him and looked at his chair, she only managed a pouting grumble, just above being under her breath. "Why do you have to make things difficult?"

"I'm sorry," Yild said, and though he knew her words were somewhat offensive, knew that she was feeling sorry herself for her mistake and forgave her.

"I'll get the chair if you get the noble," Drow joked, and Sena stared at him a moment before realizing he was serious. Yild felt incredibly embarassed, like a small child, having to be lifted up by Sena while Drow took both Panya and the chair, slinging the latter under one arm so he could still gently hold the girl. Though Galen could have helped, the bodyguard seemed determined to do his part on his own, and handled it well, though he did shoot an encouraging look at the mage when he reached the top as if to say 'really, it's no biggie'. Sena and Yild's trip however, was longer.

He was actually quite impressed at her strength; though she faltered slightly at first, she kept him steady as he went, and Yild forced himself to look away from her face to prevent her seeing his blush of embarassment at the neccessity of the activity ever being done. Despite this, he managed to note that she was blushing as well, though otherwise covering her own embarassment well all things considered.

At the top, they reconvened, and quietly recollected themselves. Adjusting her maid uniform to some military perfection, Sena, at last, and really, opened the double doors to Estrad's Throne Room. A voice immediately sprang up as he rolled in, surprisingly Yild. A greeter, in the garb of a Lochsalanian page, was standing next to the door. Yild hadn't expected any sort of reception after the lack of recognition at the gate, but the castle itself, it seemed, was ready for his arrival.

"His Lordship Yildegarde Slauth." The greeter looked at Drow, and then Galen, with waning interest, and spoke again, less enthusiastically. "And companions."

"Very well."

Yild was immediately surprised by the voice that came from the throne, and his eyes were drawn to the person sitting on it, whose small golden circlet could only indicate her as the Duchess. She was... Young. Very young. The Duchess was small, with fair skin, blond hair that was, fairly enough, shorter than his own, and blue eyes. Yild couldn't imagine that the girl was over thirteen. It had bothered him, when Sena first said that the Duchess was in charge, but while had known that Estrad had, supposedly, no viable heir, he had thought it was because of the now-Duchess's gender. Not because she was too young to assume the post.

More suprisingly than even her age was the fact that she had taken over entirely. Yild would have expected an advisor to assume command, or even one of the duchy's knights before... This. After his introduction

"I am Duchess Eliade, of Estrad." Eliade seemed very much tired. Her voice, even with its lightness, sounded weak. Resigned. Yild, not knowing what to expect, bowed as best he could.

"It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance." He rose, and saw that the Duchess was only sighing.

"I know why you're here. And I realize that I no longer have any defense against it." Eliade shook her head. "We're to be married, I expect."

Yild frowned. This encounter was not going at all as he'd expected. And now that he saw who he was supposed to be the intended of, his doubts were growing even stronger. Trying to sound as polite as possible, Yild managed out. "I don't think... I can do that."

Eliade frowned. "I won't be handing over this duchy to someone that won't even take my hand."

"I understand that. And I respect your decision." It felt strange to be, after making the long journey, refusing his gains outright. But this girl clearly didn't want her father's duchy passed along; she was clinging to the idea that she was doomed no matter what she did, and he wasn't going to entrap her that way. Yild bowed his head again. "But you're too young. And I am here, admittedly, half out of resignation. It wouldn't be right. I'm sorry for wasting your time." He gestured to Galen, still wounded. "I would appreciate it if my friend could be given some medical treatment before he departs. But I'll keep you no longer. Madam."

Bowing yet again, Yild calmly turned around, and rolled his chair back out of the throne room, to a general murmuring of the room's scant occupants. He had fully left, before the Duchess's voice came after him.

"Wait." Yild stopped, but didn't turn. Partially because he'd gone too far, and was afraid he might knock a wheel over the edge of the stairs if he tried. But the duchess had stepped off of her throne, and was now standing in the middle of the room, looking bewildered. "It can't be that easy."

"I had to beat the last suitor off with a rake," Sena added, and Eliade shot her a suprised look. Sena shrugged. "Relax, the guy earned it. Duke Folfner is a douche."

"I'm not comfortable with this to begin with." Yild replied simply. "And I would never marry someone who feels they're being forced into it."

Eliade didn't seem convinced. "You're... pretty good with words. But so was Duke Folfner. And he's..." The Duchess paused, before saying the word anyway. "A douche." Eliade frowned, choosing her own words carefully. "But I don't see why I should keep you. If you're so noncommital to the idea of marrying into Estrad, you'd be just as noncommital to defend it."

"The last town I was supposed to be managing was taken over by a lunatic for more than two years." Yild shook his head. "I don't have the best track record."

"That isn't much of a ringing endorsement, no." Eliade had taken another few steps forward, and Yild, carefully and without hiding his caution, slowly turned his chair around, and brought it away from the edge.

"I'm not here to endorse myself. I was told that I might be of some use here, and I came." Yild shrugged. "That's all. The rest is politics, and me running blindly from something I don't fully understand myself."

The room was silent, and Eliade seemed confused, while Sena was staring at Yild with something verging on doubt. Slowly, the maid spoke up. "You stayed in Ravenholm..." She ventured. "For more than two years?"

"Yes...?" Yild didn't see where she was going with the question. He didn't have any reason to lie.

"In your mansion?" Sena pressed, some accusation in her tone.

"Yes." Yild paused, and amended his statement. "Though it wasn't much of a mansion after some time passed."

"You could've run away?" Eliade added.

"No." Pausing, Yild amended again. "Maybe. But I didn't consider it an option."

"Why did you leave?" Eliade watched Yild carefully, her small eyes making note of his every move. "Eventually, I mean."

"Because the city was freed. And I wasn't the best man to lead anymore. It's in the hands of my old guard captain now." All of the questions about Ravenholm were driving his own curioisty now. Why did they care about his history?

"He's either brilliant or stupid." Sena looked at Eliade, and the Duchess shot her a stern look. Rolling her eyes, the Ra'an shrugged. "What? I think it's the latter."

The two girls seemed to hold a quiet conference. Then, Eliade gestured behind herself, and a man walked in with a bulging bag, placing it in the middle of the door to the throne room, dead between the Duchess and Yild.

"This bag contains one thousand gold coins." Eliade began, and Yild suddenly realized that she was looking at Galen and Drow. "Enough to get you anywhere you wanted, and set you there for life."

"I hate this man." She pointed to Yild, her small finger more piercing than he expected, and her voice strangely cold. "Tell me I shouldn't marry him, and it's yours."
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sun 28 Aug - 18:30

From the time the Blackshirt left and onward until they reached the castle, the going was smooth, if silent. He was rather surprised that the young Panya had not awoken in all of this time, if not from the multiple transitions she’d made going from Drow’s arms to Yildegarde’s, then because of the constant motion and the rocky road they walked. Sooner than expected, they came upon the castle, and had to wait a few minutes while the heavy gates slowly creaked open.

They walked through the courtyard and into the castle itself, Galen beginning to feel less and less at home with every step they took. Accustomed as he was to the simplicity of life on the Myrr, rarely acknowledged by the Council Mages let alone the Mage lords, he almost felt as if he were trespassing upon some forbidden ground. The ground of Common lords.

Reaching vast, magnificent staircase, Galen paused at the bottom with Yildegarde and Drow, glancing up to Sena, who had continued onward and upward, mindless of the difficulty now facing the young Lord. Looking over to Drow, Galen raised a hand, as if indicating his willingness to help. He had seen Drow manage the task of transporting Yildegarde over numerous grounds and through many obstacles Yildegarde himself could not navigate, always with a graceful ease and in a way that (by Galen’s observation) had never seemed to embarrass the young nobleman. And yet when Drow motioned for Sena to help him, Galen felt his spirits drop slightly. That they would choose the abrasive maid over…

Well, it didn’t matter. Galen averted his eyes as he trailed them, walking a few paces behind them. Up to… the throne room, where Galen began to feel even more out of place and increasingly (as time went on and the duchess began to question Yildegarde) intrusive. The nature of the questioning and Yildegarde’s own discomfort in the situation created within him an uneasiness, and the subtle feeling that he ought not to be here, witnessing this scene, at all.

And then the bag of money was brought forth, and Galen became conscious of the fact that the Duchess Eliade was no longer speaking to Yildegarde Slauth at all… but to Drow and himself. “I hate this man,” she said, pointing to Yild, her voice dripping with contempt. “Tell me I shouldn’t marry him, and it’s yours.”

Immediately, Galen looked over at Drow to gauge the bodyguard’s reaction, wondering what could possibly motivate this… this offer. Yildegarde had said himself he had no intention of marrying her, so why did she feel the need to receive… confirmation or, it almost seemed, permission from one of them to dismiss him? Then he looked to Sena, and remembered the glances she had shared with the duchess. This was all some elaborate test, and yet Galen felt certain that he and Drow were not the ones being tested. Yildegarde was.

For several long moments, Drow remained as silent as Galen, neither willing to speak. Galen’s eyes flitted between the duchess, Sena, Drow, and the bag of money, sitting tantalizingly in the middle of the floor, waiting to be claimed. With a great effort, he looked away from it, and his eyes rested squarely on the duchess when he spoke. What had stirred the boldness in him to speak, he would never know. “The day one such as me is permitted to walk from a Common noble carrying that sum of money without being accused of extortion or thievery and then being promptly hanged… that is the day in which a boar will speak and be understood by a Warder. And in which a Speaker will be able to conjure a Ward to protect himself from the jaw of the wolf. I’ll have no part in this.”
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sun 28 Aug - 19:49

The Duchess's challenge caught Yild by surprise. It was some sort of test of character, he supposed, but while he almost voiced his own opinion, Yild quickly realized that the people she was looking to were Drow and Galen. She was looking for his help's opinion on him then? It was a surpisingly shrewd tactic. Yild knew how infamous many Lochslanian nobles were for having their public image and then the one they brought home with them, and the ones who got the short end would always be the ones in their employ. Though of course, Galen wasn't actually working for him. Yild wondered why Sena didn't say as much, but the maid had fallen completely silent, and seemed as interested in Eliade. Maybe she was just trying to prove a point and show that the Warder would not return Yild's own generosity if given the chance... But it was hard to be sure. Given her expression, there was a good chance she had just forgotten about it.

Rather than trample on any toes, Yild let Galen have his word anyway. Though he was shocked by what did eventually come from the Warder. When presented with the situation, he had instantly seized upon it as an issue of prejudice, and Yild felt quietly sad at just how eager Galen was to think the worst of the Commons of the world, though Eliade herself seemed more confused than anything. The full realization of the point he was making took a moment to hit her, and when it did, she shuffled uncomfortably; though, to be fair, tried to hide her discomfort as best she could. Without pressing it into any major point, the Duchess cleared her throat and tread carefully. "I... wasn't expecting that answer, certainly."

Drow stepped forward, seemingly to only releive the tension, though it was really his opinion being asked for regardless.

"I don't think I've got anything so... errr, poetic, in me." The bodyguard let out a small, embarassed laugh that seemed to defuse some of the tension before turning serious and giving a strong nod. "But I've got nothing bad to say about the boss man. Sorry ma'am."

Eliade seemed releived at first; if only because his answer was something more along the lines of what she expected. But as the actual impact of it sunk in, Yild could see her fall into thinking, silently running her eyes over the entirity of Yild's party, including the still sleeping Panya. Yild thought she took an extra moment there, but the Duchess didn't make a comment, and she turned to pacing for a long moment before finally talking again, watching Yild carefully.

"You said you were only opposed if the other person was unwilling, yes?" The Duchess raised an eyebrow, and when Yild nodded, the younger girl fell silent again. Her youthful face was in deep thought, and she studied over Yild once again before slowly, carefully planning her next move. Before she did however, Yild spoke up again, unable to restrain one of his actual problems.

"There is, however..." Yild thought of how best to phrase his complaint, but decided honesty was the best policy. "Given your age, and what's happened recently in your city, I will admit I have some reservations about the idea."

Eliade looked at Yild with suprise after his comment, but he thought he saw a flicker of something positive in her eyes that hadn't been there a moment before. And when she did, he was the one who got to be suprised once more. "I'm of more than legal age. However," Eliade probed. "I wouldn't want to make a decision right away."

"Of course not." Right away? Yild was admittedly surprised that he was being considered at all, after her show in the throne room. But when he realized her situation... There was no telling how many times she had been through similar spiels. The fact that he might actually be the best candidate for the job was both slightly motivational to Yild, and slightly saddening considering what it meant about the rest of the Lochsalanian upper crust who had made the trip to see her.

"And there's no gurantee anything will happen at all," Eliade probed again.

"I have nowhere to go," Yild replied, truthfully. He couldn't go back to Tectun now. Not after all he'd seen. He had burned the bridge to Ospero behind him. And while he needed to make a trek to Lodewijik if he ever wanted to get to the bottom of any of this, the idea of living out his days in the capitol city were far from tempting. And given his mother's ideas about his romantic future, very unlikely to happen. "Take all the time you need."

For a moment, nothing was said. And then Eliade sighed, as if a great weight had been lifted off of her small shoulders, and Yild wondered if he'd passed whatever test it was she had been running for him. Whatever the case, she seemed in much better spirits, and her tone friendlier, when she at last spoke again. "There are more than enough rooms free in the castle. Most of the west wing is currently vacant. I can make arrangements for your party to be situated around my brother's old quarters, if you don't mind what decorations he left there."

"That sounds lovely." The idea of any place to rest sounded great actually. And of a decent bed to put Panya in, instead of a cloak and blanket like she was currently stuck with. Though, considering what happened a few minutes earlier, Yild was more cautious this time. "Ah, barring any major stairwells."

Eliade laughed, her mood seeming to brighten a bit more at the joke. She had a nice laugh; and Yild certainly preferred it to the stoney exterior she had been putting up until this point. Gesturing to her side, the Duchess waited for her chuckles to subside before answering. "It's on this floor."

"Perfect then." Yild smiled back apreciatively.

Eliade nodded approvingly at him. "Well met, Lord Slauth. You've caught me quite by surprise."

"I'm sorry..." Yild frowned, now worried. "I did try to send word ahead."

"No, not that." Eliade shook her head, her blond hair bobbing slightly. "And don't worry, it's quite a pleasant shock I assure you."

with the obvious issues squared away, the Duchess then turned to Galen, stepping over to him and examining his hand appraisingly as she spoke to him. "You were the one in need of medical treatment, yes?" Pausing a moment for confirmation, Eliade went back to the hand without waiting for the response. "I can see to you myself. I fired our physician after my father's death, but I've looked into a good bit of medicine myself to make sure the Healers coming in weren't playing me for a fool."

"I'm sorry for your loss," Yild offered, suprised the issue hadn't come up sooner.

"We knew it was coming for a good while." With a small sigh, Eliade lifted Galen's hand and gently poked it. "Tell me if you feel anything like prickling." Looking back to Yild, she kept up her gentle prodding down the wound. "I'm sad, of course. But I've made peace with what's happened." She returned her attention to Galen instantly. "May I ask where you got this?"

"Well!" Drow bowed in the duchess's general direction. "If that's all wrapped up, I'm going to go check on the carriage. Miss Sena, I leave the boss in your capable hands."

Sena only snorted in response as the bodyguard jogged off, whistling.
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sun 28 Aug - 20:38

Galen looked away when the duchess shuffled, clearly disconcerted as she untangled the meaning of his statement. He kept his eyes averted as she and Yildegarde spoke with careful words, tip toeing around the other, careful not to offend and yet… and yet hoping for the best outcome. Whatever that was.

When the duchess walked up to him and took his hands in hers, therefore, Galen was not expecting it, and actually jerked his hand back slightly at the unexpected touch. Nodding cautiously, he allowed her to examine his hand, though the idea of the duchess, a high born Common girl of Lochsalan seeing to his wounds was quite a discomforting notion to him, and not simply because of her status as a Common. His face hardened significantly as she explained why she had pursued the medical knowledge she possessed. He did not speak, though, even though he was itching to retort that a common physician would be just as capable of treachery.

“May I ask where you got this?”

Galen withdrew his hand with a sharp intake of breath, the slash on his hand burning and stinging with the duchess’ prodding. Pressing his hand to his shirt again to catch the dribble of blood, he considered answering with a solid ‘no.’ And yet if he gave her the truth, he had no way of knowing how she would take the information. A Mage being held by the Vashovy Pirates…. They had been inactive for quite some time, due to the combined efforts of Ra and the Council. Some believed they had been effectively disbanded, and Valorie had become quite famous... or infamous. In fact, except to commend Valorie for her efforts, most Mages simply avoided the subject of the Pirates. It did not do to dwell on the past, allowing the open hatred they'd felt for the vicious group to fester.

But… Galen glanced over to Yildegarde, knowing that the noble would be able to tell the duchess anything she wished to know. So, still holding his hand out of her reach, Galen answered quietly. “For the past week I have been held against my will by the Vashovy Pirates. I received these and many other wounds—“ he rolled back his shirt sleeves to reveal several other cuts, scrapes, and bruises in varying states of healing “—in my… frequent… bids for freedom.” He let his sleeves fall back to cover the old wounds. “If there was poison on the Pirate’s blade, I’d rather find a Healer. In any case, I cannot stay. I must return to the Council.”
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Mon 29 Aug - 21:32

Though every word of it was the truth, Yild had to suppress a sigh when Galen tried to explain to a Common audience that he had been held by an infamous, but now considered eliminated organization from the not so distant past. When he first mentioned the Pirates, Eliade made a short, nervous laugh, but when Galen continued and seemed serious, her expression turned disturbed. And, doubtful. No one could blame her for either. The story sounded ridiculous, and that she seemed to be trying to take it seriously at all was a credit to her; though, of course if it was true, it meant something very dangerous indeed. She looked at Yild for confirmation, but he only mouthed 'we can talk about it later', and was surprised to see that she seemed to beleive him instantly. Not that he had any intention of backing away from telling her anything he needed to tell her to keep her, and Estrad safe from any... Dangerous outside influences, like the Vashovy. He wouldn't break his promise in Ospero, but he wasn't about to put people in harms way needlessly either.

But while Eliade seemed pusuaded, the dark glare on Sena's face led Yild to conclude that the Ra'an girl clearly thought the Warder was lying regardless. He and wasn't surprised, considering the story. In fact, from any outside perspective it would seem like Galen was crying wolf, either as some political reminder to them of what people had done to mages (something he suspected sena would jump at the chance to rebuke), or as some cruel joke intended to scare the young Duchess. Estrad was quite close to Khorsa, and when the Vashovy had been fully active, it too had been on a constant and full alert at all times. Mage-hunting was a policy, but for the Vashovy, ruining even military ports like Estrad was a livelihood. Their return could mean a whole slew of things. And none of them were good.

Recovering admirably, though with no further questions and with a bit of a waver in her voice, Eliade managed to pull up the courage to take Galen's sleeve and pull it back up, her tone growing fully serious. "You're not leaving in that condition." She pointed to one of the additional wounds he had shown her- it was a blotched and sickly looking yellow color around the edges, as were several others. "Your new cuts don't seem infected. This one definitely is."

"And here... Bruises shouldn't change color that way." She gestured to another one, her face trying to stay as professional as possible. "That these haven't healed could only mean malnourishment. That you haven't asked for food makes me think that it was self-inflicted too. Were there no physicians where you were?"

"I suspect you were struggling too much for anyone to give you a decent examination." Yild spoke up, suprised at Elaide's knowledge, but willing to show the same trust in her that she showed him. He turned in frustration to Galen. "You could have told..."

The words caught on Yild's tongue. Yes, Recide would have offered Galen help... At least so far as Yild knew the organization. but they had certainly never struck someone while he was around. And that Galen was trying to escape meant that he likely wasn't on very friendly terms with Ospero's other inhabitants either. In all likelihood, there really was no one the Warder could have told about his problems. And that, in itself, was a sad affair for all sides. Taking a moment to regain his composure, Yild spoke out again. "Regardless, you don't even know where the Council is. Running off and hoping you find them before you collapse isn't a possibility Galen."

"You're..." Eliade started, but shied back a bit when attention was returned to her. "Err... Welcome to stay here as long as you need. I can treat those, or I do have a medic in the guards' quarters that could probably handle the job as well. It's nothing too advanced, though it isn't very light either."

"I'll find the Council." Sena's blunt voice cut in, breaking her seemingly angry silence. The idea of Galen staying had only seemed to annoy her when it was proposed before, but said after his 'explanation', that annoyance had turned into a disproportionate amount of fury. She seemed even angrier then when Galen and her had been on the verge of a confrontation earlier. It was... actually pretty frightening. Yild had never imagined a maid as being a particularly threatening sight, but now, without her knife, Sena seemed more intense than ever. Though her nose did have a bit of a cute twitch to it from the effort, and it managed to undo a little of the effect at least.

Yild posed the obvious question. "How do you intend to do that?"

"It doesn't matter." Sena shuffled uncomfortably, and Yild was forced to wonder further at exactly what sources she intended to use. "I'll find the Council. I can get you their location by nightfall." Sena looked at Galen and growled. "Whatever gets you out of here as quickly as possible."

"Sena..." Elaide looked at her curiously, but the girl offered nothing back in reply. His own stance clear, Yild could only look at Galen for the man's decision.
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Wed 31 Aug - 22:21

Galen was taken aback when Eliade Fraum, Duchess of Estrad, reached out once more and took his arm, pulling his sleeve back again to examine the older wounds. So shocked, in fact, was he that he did not try to pull out of her grip again even when she began to assess his condition. He fixed her with a strange look… one that almost seemed to suggest he’d never seen or met anyone like her before. And indeed, he’d never had come across someone quite like her. The thought gave him pause, and a deep quiet settled over him, one that demanded he step back from his expectations.

“You could have told…”

Galen turned slowly to Yildegarde, feeling oddly lightheaded. His concentration seemed to slip away from the nobleman for a moment, and though he was looking directly at Yildegarde, he didn’t really seem to be seeing him. When he shook his head, he came back to the present and fixed his eyes directly on Yild. “Could I have? Alf… Our friend… she’s kept a tight hold on the Vashovy. It is not in their nature to show compassion of any kind. Without her intervention, I have no hesitation in saying that I would not be alive at all now. In the past, they hunted us for sport. What you saw of them… is not fair representation.”

He fell silent, more contemplative than brooding, though a deep frown had darkened his face. He seemed to be taking in Yildegarde’s words now, though, for he simply nodded, ceding the noble’s point. He did not know where the Council was… and he had neither the resources nor the stamina to have any reason to believe he would be able to make it to them safely.

“You’re… errr… welcome to stay here as long as you need.”

Galen felt his throat tighten at this, and when he looked down on the duchess now, he saw in her the girl of thirteen or fourteen that she was, not the status she carried. “If it… wouldn’t be too much trouble… my lady. I…” And his gaze dropped markedly, straight down to the floor beneath his feet. When he spoke, he did not look up to her again, maintaining his formal position of humility. “I’ve misjudged you.” Of course, Sena’s brash, offensive nature had gone a long way in suggesting that of her Lady’s to Galen. But when the maid cut in, her words dripping with caustic venom, Galen found that he could do nothing but turn to her in that same state of quiet submission. “Thank you. It means a lot.”

“Whatever gets you out of here as quickly as possible.”

Galen closed his eyes and let out a slow breath. A deep weight settled on his chest and would not lift. And when he spoke, his voice was detached. “Then I won’t impose.”
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Thu 1 Sep - 22:29

Though more talk about the Vashovy brought noticeable concern to the Duchess's features, Galen's polite words only brought a blush to Eliade's cheeks. Yild had a hard time telling however, whether they were from embarassment or nervousness. The girl was hiding it well, but the fact that Galen was a mage was still bothering her, he knew. Only her experience in handling other matters of diplomacy were giving her the strong face she had been putting on, but the longer things dragged on (at the moment at least), the worse she'd likely get.

But Sena was another matter entirely. Though she didn't flare up at Galen, her face, even when he agreed, was still a mask of dull anger that seemed to deny any possibility of reasoning with her. Yild was surprised by her offer, and though he couldn't fathom how she would manage to find the information she claimed, he couldn't help but feel drawn off of the subject by the simple fact that she was now going out of her way soleley to remove the mage from his party. Galen had never had it easy that Yild knew, Ospero seeming to pain him even in it's luxury as much as any normal prison; but Yild doubted many mages would have gotten even as far as he did into the affairs of Estrad's nobility. He had expected some resistance. But Sena's... was much more intense than he had ever seen coming. There was more to the story, even if he didn't know the other facts yet. Though...

He probably had the rest of his life to find them out.

"Whatever you seem to think about the Vashovy is bullcrap." Sena eventually spoke when she felt she had received a full go ahead forher intentions. Though the way she glared daggers at Galen, you would never think she was about to go find things to help him; regardless of the circumstances. "Spread your propaganda somewhere else mage. It won't work here."

Sena's eyes narrowed, and she said her last sentence like a warning. "The Vashovy don't take prisoners." Turning, her bright hair flicking back behind her, the maid half ran away from the entry hall, off deeper into the castle, and not pausing when she called back, irritated: "I'll be back."

As the maid's footsteps faded, Eliade cleared her throat, and the air seemed to clear a bit of tension as well as echoes.

"Well then, I'll get the keys for your rooms. Yild, would you...?" She gestured for Yild to join her, and he nodded his acceptance readily. Though he hoped that she wouldn't dive right into the matter of the Vashovy... he couldn't blame her if he did, and given her hospitality there were few requests he intended to decline at the moment. Seeming releived, Eliade seemed to be noticeably facing away from Galen when she spoke again; likely to keep her voice as bold as it was when she issued orders. "Don't lean too much on that leg; there'll be materials to get it prepped in the room. Guardsman!" She gestured to one of the guards by the throne room door, and he immediately came to her. The Duchess nodded vaguely in Galen's direction. "Find him a seat. And send someone down to the barracks for a field medic."

The guard complied, pulling over a high backed chair while Eliade, Yild in tow, made their slow way down the opposite side from the one Sena had gone down. They had barely been going a minute before she spoke up.

"I don't..." Elaide paused, shaking her head and instead gesturing to the castle around them. "You'll be expecting a tour of the facilities, I suppose?"

If she was going to ask about the Vashovy, Yild almost wished she would do it directly. But he didn't force it, and decided to start planning his answer to that question while he happily answered the easier one now. "I'm in no hurry, but yes, when there's someone free to guide me."

"I could get someone now, if you wish." Eliade stopped walking a second and chuckled sheepishly. "Well, once I get the keys."

"Thank you for the offer, but I'm afraid I must decline for now." At her puzzled look, Yild elaborated, smiling knowingly. "Drow might be able to unpack largely by himself, but I'm not exactly the most mobile individual. I'd be rather useless in some places I'm afraid, and I wouldn't want to add any more inconveniance to anyone already gracious enough to give me a tour by making them lift me around as well."

"Oh. Of course." Eliade frowned, and stopped walking again, so quickly this time that Yild almost bumped into her with his chair. "I... don't want you to think I'm trying to get rid of you. This will just take some getting used to, is all."

"That's fine. I'm not exactly used to it myself." He smiled encouragingly and, seeming reassured if not convinced, the Duchess continued, with Yild just behind, for another moment or two before he tentatively posed his own question."Is Sena...?"

"I'm not sure quite what she intends to do." Eliade seemed to understand his question immediately, though she paused in thought for a second afterwards before finishing her answer. "But she can be remarkably resourceful sometimes. If she actually wants to help your friend, there's a good chance she will."

"And if she doesn't?" Yild asked, not expecting any solid answer, and the shrug he got mirroed his views. If Sena decided not to help Galen, then she would simply not do it. There didn't seem to be many ways to reason with her so far, so they just had to hope that she was actually able to do what she claimed.

Eliade's next question surprised Yild however. "He is... Safe, right?"

Was Galen safe? He had just broken free, aparrently on his own, from a town run entirely by the Vashovy Pirates, so was he dangerous? That would likely be a yes. But would he try to harm anyone in Estrad? That, he didn't see. Unless Sena and the Warder really hit a fever pitch. Then... But that would hopefully not become an issue. So Yild answered solidly. "Yes."

"Good." They had apparently reached their destination, and Eliade opened the door to a room with rings of keys set against the wall. Many were vacant, but a dusty set below the words 'west wing' remained, and she took these. "Here they are."

"You hide your worries well." Yild remarked, when they had just begun their return trip. "Handled with much tact, my father would say."

"Handled well?" Eliade laughed, in what seemed like a real humor, and looked at him wryly. "You're a good speaker, but not so good at lying it seems." The Duchess shook her head. "Not that I'm complaining. "

Making better time on their return to the lobby, Yild drew himself to a stop next to Eliade as the girl fiddled with the key ring, searching for one to give to Galen.

"Sorry to have kept you waiting." Eliade took one of the keys off of the ring and handed it to Galen. "Your would be the door nearest the stairwell, on the right. It's a double-bed, and there's should be cloth in the drawer. Keep pressure on that hand, and wrap something around your leg to keep it from the air. I've still some documents to look over, but I'll brief the medic when he arrives and send him your way." Eliade paused her eyes hitting Galen's face a moment before moving away again. "If... that's alright with you...?"
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Fri 2 Sep - 15:47

Galen fell into the chair as it was brought, suddenly feeling more mentally drained than physically. Coming across Yildegarde Slauth again had been a stroke of luck, and indeed, if there was one Common nobleman who had gained Galen’s trust and respect, it was he. But the sudden flurry of thoughts—that Lord Slauth could be used to influence others and bring about an age of relative peace to the hostilities between the sons of Man and Mage—had been tempered by the Ra’an maid’s daunting and immutable anger. Was it wise for him to place his hopes in her abilities? Perhaps now… but it was clear to him now that he could not turn down the help offered.

And the duchess—she was another matter altogether. She was less like Lord Slauth than he could have hoped, but she was nevertheless well versed in the art of diplomacy. He had sensed her discomfort—but also her attempts to at least refrain from showing it. Such could not be said of most. And so, though Galen’s heart became heavy with the thought, he appreciated it.

He came to his feet again as the two nobles re-entered the room. The key handed him, he accepted in silence, inclining his head slightly in thanks. Before turning to take his leave, though, Galen felt compelled to speak to the duchess, knowing that he would likely not see her again, busy as she was. Reaching out with his left hand, unstained with blood, he gently took her hand and attention, and fixed his gaze solidly on her. “I too am sorry for your loss. It is admirable that you show such a spirit of generosity despite your present pain.”

His eyes flicked to the bag of gold, still sitting where the servant had placed it.
“You asked us to tell you that you should not marry Lord Slauth. I don’t want your gold, but were I your father, I would tell you not to marry him. Not yet, at any rate. This is your season of mourning. Wait it out. And do not emerge from it until you are ready to. Lord Slauth is a man of noble character, and so if you find him worthy, if you ask him to wait, I am confident that he will. You would be hard pressed to find any better than he. I’m sure you find yourself in a difficult position… one that requires you to act as quickly as possible. But… perhaps it will be enough to simply announce an engagement. There should be no hurry. It may stretch across several winters if that is your wish.” He averted his eyes, having grown increasingly uneasy with his boldness.
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