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 Tarel Soarvas

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Ark Von Doom

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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sat 8 Oct - 21:04

"I reckon I might be of some help there." An accented voice cheerily rang out in the throne room, the voice one that would be familiar to every presense in the room... Though for some, much less welcome than others.

Ixiel Roansfeld, a High Noble of New Treagansland, patted the guard at the entrance on the shoulder as he passed, shooting the man a chummy smile that said he was more than used to entering the throne room where Lach was placed so embarassingly on display. He had cleaned up nicely from his rough working attire, his clothes that of a wealthy rider about to go hunting with his hounds, his hair combed back and slicked as a nobles would be, and his muscles, though present, constrained by the thick fabric of the proper garments of the much colder climate of the capital. He was completely at ease, in his natural habitat, and in every way Lach was not, completely at home. The Roansfelds were an essential part of the New Treaganish hierarchy after all: Ixiel himself was the constant hunting companion of both the Zaaltor and his son, a frequent comer and goer within the palace itself... And of course, a good Common man like any other.

It was therefore one of the hardest feats in Ixiel's life not to reach out and strangle Lach as he walked up to the center of the room and took his bow before the Zaaltor. It was only the presnese of the Zaaltortyns that kept a strained but convincingly at ease grin on his face as his feelings of comfort clashed with the sudden and hostile invasion of one Lachlan Fox... Right in his own home.

"Yer Majesties." Ixiel bowed, with a proper sweep of his arm. As he did, a pair of arms rested themselves over Lach's shoulders, as a purple-haired head rested itself upon his shoulder and Val, Ixiel's fiance and permanent companion even within the city, looked playfully into his eyes and traced in the air with her finger the line that the Zaaltor's eyes had followed around the scar just a moment before.

Recide wasn't grasping around for a way straight to the heart of the Zaaltor and his family. They had found it long ago. And Lach had just walked right back into their hands.

"I've worked with a lot of mages on ma geological surveys," Ixiel said, his eyes resting on Lach with a look that was less satisfaction than a dull and bitter sadness. "I can confirm that that there's a brand, and a powerful one at that. Though I wouldn't be much help tracing it."

That bit said, he finaly offered an apologetic wince, and nodded to the young Zaaltoryn. "I was waitin' for ya downstairs Ty. Sorry for the intrude, but I could hear a bit of things coming up, and it got me worried."
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sun 9 Oct - 13:37

Lachlan winced as Tyrulan’s assessment of the brand, and the immorality of it that tainted one of the most ‘feared and respected’ Mage families. His family. The Fox family. In a way, the young Zaaltoryn was perfectly right. It seemed that this Common man knew almost more about the brand that marked him than he did… and he understood not only what the brand was for, but what it meant. It was hard not to dwell on the meaning of the mark, and over the past week he had not always been able to keep his mind busy enough to stay away from the subject. In essence… it was a proclamation of property.

Bowing in acquiescence to the Zaaltor’s words, Lachlan worked some moisture in his mouth, stealing himself to make the one request he had: Lady Ahlmir’s safety. “Your majesty, I—“

“I reckon I might be of some help there.”

The words died on his lips as the color drained from his previously flushed face. He would know that voice anywhere, whether the words came in Lochsalanian or Treagan. Sickeningly upbeat, markedly casual, a voice of calm and reason that Lachlan had mistrusted the moment he’d heard it for the first time. Ixiel Roansfeld, one of the top five members of Recide, had marched straight into the throne room just as Lachlan’s accusations against Recide were beginning to settle.

A second later, a pair of arms were wrapped around his shoulders, and the tickle of warm breath was in his face.

“Ixiel!” he gasped, jerking instinctively out of the grasp of the nobleman’s fiancé. His momentum carried him a few steps away from the pair as his face turned from one of extreme shock to rage. At a loss, he spluttered while Ixiel spoke, only finding his voice after the nobleman had turned to the Zaaltoryn, appearing on the surface to dismiss Lachlan’s presence.

“You should be worried,” he growled, fists clenched as he glared at Ixiel. “Your majesty, this Mage is one of the five founding members of Recide.”
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sun 9 Oct - 14:45

"I was about to make my way down when Del brought in a distraction; my apologies." Tyrulan answered casually back to Ixiel, obviously on friendly terms with him. Twice a month they went out on a hunt in the surrounding forests, catching game and exchanging stories for an evening, following a tradition they had adhered to for years. Informal as Ixiel was, Tyrulan enjoyed the jovial company and release from the fray of royal life, but in the wake of Lachlan's warning, he wondered just how practical a hunting trip would be. Upon opening his mouth to explain this, however, Tyrulan found himself cut-off by Lachlan's exclamation which drew the attention of every pair of eyes in the room.

The room falling victim to another wave of dense quiet, even Arininlan found hesitation in his response, speaking carefully so as to remind Lachlan that his unsupported claims were beginning to pile up. This one, though, was personal, and he would not allow it to go unchecked.

"Ixiel Roansfeld has been a friend of this family for years. You had best have a means of supporting that statement." He said, allowing his eyes to flicker a moment to Lady Ahlmir who had also seemed initial shocked by Ixiel's appearance; now deep in thought.

Perhaps surprisingly, Tyrulan's face did not mimic his father's, instead settling on something less readable. It wasn't uncommon for him to lack meaningful expression in his face, but given the accusation being made against a man he considered a friend, it was certainly notable enough. Still, the tension was loosened by a sigh as he moved to speak, looking from Ixiel to Lachlan and back in search of an answer.

"Do you know this man, Ixiel? Lachlan Fox Junior?"

It was odd, to be sure, that a person like Lachlan would know a Common Treaganish noble and address him by his first name- especially after displaying proper manners the whole time before- but at the same time, it was not the foremost concern on Tyrulan's mind. He and Ixiel spoke about many things; the most interesting of which were often Ixiel's misadventures and the characters he had met within them. They spoke a lot of the Mages he had met as per Tyrulan's insistence, but not once had Lachlan Fox junior- kin to the Melrakki and rising figure in the political scene- come up.

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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sun 9 Oct - 16:15

Micah, taking cues from Cira, was left with a sense of unease as Lachlan disappeared behind the high wall of the bastion. This was what they’d been aiming for, was it not? And yet Cira was clearly distressed. Xalem too, despite the brave front he put on, did not seem all that comfortable with the situation either. He did seem determined that they would not dwell on a situation now out of their control, however, and soon shepherded them back to the camp they’d set up in the woods—a twenty-minute walk outside the capital, ten if they walked quickly. As Xalem had said, they did not now want to become involved in the business with the royals or the nobles, not when they may potentially do more harm than good.

The walk back to the woods was quiet, uneventful. Micah, out of habit of a quick pace, took the lead with Isaac at his side. Frost cracked underfoot as they went, though Micah barely noticed the cold. His thoughts, as always, were on the strange changes he’d noticed in Lachlan—changes even from the beginning of this whole misadventure. He was determined, single-minded, focused… focused to a degree of recklessness that Micah had never seen in his brother before. Once in a while, after all of the others had dropped off to sleep, Micah had sometimes spoken with Cira about his observations… and he’d questioned her about the missing years he’d spent away from Lachlan. Determination alone was not new for Lachlan… but this was altogether different. And Cira had never seen it either. He’d gone from the defensive to the offensive with frightening momentum.

Arriving back at camp with Isaac several minutes ahead of the others, Micah turned first to checking that nothing had been disturbed. Their food and clothing packs and blanket rolls were all hidden away out of sight, under the dense underbrush. “I don’t know what it matters, whether we’re here or there,” he muttered to Isaac. “We should have stayed where we could keep an eye on things. What if something happens, and we’re not there? What if they need us?”

The crunch of frosty leaves announced the arrival of the other four.

“Lady Ahlmir is with him,” Acacia said, offering Micah a strained smile. “It’s what we’d planned all along, so that should be enough for us.”

Micah turned away, reaching into his pocket and drawing out his fishing wires, making no answer immediately. Eyes and attention fixed solely on untangling the knots in his wires, it was a few moments before Micah spoke again. “I just… I think someone should keep an eye on things back at the capital. Doesn’t seem right to leave them completely alone.”
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sun 9 Oct - 16:50

"What do you think he told her?"

"I'm not sure, but whatever it was, it got her attention."

"Yeah, I just hope it was the right kind of attention, though."

Folding her arms so as to tuck her hands in the crooks of her elbow, Cira let out a huff of white breath and reminded herself to stay optimistic. They knew so little about the situation that she didn't even know what to worry about, but as it was, her focus lingered on Lachlan and just what he was going to do. The past week had seen such a shift in him that she didn't quite know what to expect, though the nights spent talking it over with Micah had certainly helped her to put it in perspective.

Eyes falling on the two heading the group- Micah, with Isaac unsurprisingly trotting along side him- she allowed herself a moment of distracted thought. The past week had also seen another interesting change: a rather admirable friendship between Lachlan's younger brother and her nephew which had a heart-warmingly nostalgic feel. She couldn't help but remember seeing Lachlan and Micah around Himmin and the Esate spending time in a similar fashion, and though she doubted either of the brothers would admit it, she was sure they could see the similarities.

"We simply don't want to attract any attention. The last thing we need is to raise suspicion when that's Lach is already going to be putting them on edge with what he has to tell them. Still..."

Only just realizing who Xalem was talking to and what about, Cira decided not to make a comment, instead setting to unpacking their hidden camp. She didn't much like the idea of leaving Lachlan without support either, but she wasn't about to question Xalem. After all, he'd gotten them this far, and he was just as concerned about Lachlan as the rest of them.

"With things the way they are, maybe we should have someone keeping an eye and an ear out. Chances are we aren't going to learn anything from the outside, but without knowing just what Lachlan pulled out of his sleeve, it's better safe than sorry."

Taking several seconds to finish setting up the wood for the fire, Xalem stood and turned to Micah, already knowing who would want the task. "If you don't find anything out, it might be a good idea to find a place to stay within the city for the night. We don't want our coming's-and-going's to be noted by anyone who might be paying attention."

Handing Micah a small purse of coins for lodging and food, Xalem soon found Isaac making his way over, his intention written all over his face well before he asked.

"Hey, dad, can I go with Micah?"

Instantly the corner of Xalem's lip pulled back, and out of the corner of his eye he could see Lydia look up; watching him without giving away her thoughts. "I'm not sure that's a good idea..." He started, but Isaac had been expecting it. "I'll be with Micah, I'll be fine." He assured. "And I'll make sure Micah stays out of trouble."

Unable to keep himself from laughing at this (Cira as well, from where she was helping Lydia to set up supports for a tent), Xalem groaned an gave a reluctant nod. "Fine, but if there's any trouble, both of you come right back."


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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sun 9 Oct - 17:54

“We’ll be fine,” Micah assured Xalem as Isaac tried to convince his father to allow him to go. Truth be told, it would be good to have the younger boy around. There was no sense snooping around the capital, talking to the guardsmen or the sentries, the stall keepers in the market or the inn keepers about anything they may know about palace gossip or the comings and goings of travelers like Lachlan. That would do nothing but draw unwanted attention to himself. It would be good to have someone to talk to. Someone around whom he didn’t need to worry about what he said or didn’t say. He’d spent a lot of time with Isaac over the past week. When walking, they generally fell into step together, and at nights Isaac usually followed Micah down to the river to fish.

Both of them were easily inquisitive enough for a handful of kids Isaac’s age, though Isaac was mature beyond his years, and so conversation was never in short supply when they were left alone together. Micah had learned enough about Xalem from Isaac to grow to respect the older Speaker, and enough about Xalem’s family that he had grown an admiration for the way their mixed family fit together.

So, though Micah’s primary reason for wishing to travel back to the capital was to keep an eye and an ear out for Lachlan, he would be glad to have the young Mage for company.

Accepting the coin purse form Xalem with a nod of thanks, Micah loosened the drawstring and stuck it around his neck, tucking it under his jacket. He would not use it unless it was absolutely necessary, for he knew that it was all they had left of Galen’s gift to them. What they would do when it ran out… he did not know. He could only hope that Lachlan had accomplished his mission before then.

“Let’s go,” he said, nodding to Isaac. After transferring his fishing hooks and lines to Xalem so that the others would not be left without a means of gathering food themselves, Micah clapped Isaac on the arm and started off through the woods the way they’d just come.

“You should keep your hood up,” Micah said, glancing over at Isaac, a note of apology in his voice. “We don’t want to draw attention to ourselves.” A second later, though it was quite unnecessary, he added, “’S not exactly common for people like us to be traveling together….”

And why not? Why not? After all, a week had taught Micah that Isaac was truly no different than himself.

“Not like we can’t handle ourselves,” he continued gruffly. “But your pa’s right. Best not to give anyone reason to notice us.”
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sun 9 Oct - 17:55

The little guy was getting bolder. Ixiel had expected himself to be the least likely to actually track down Lach, stuck in New Treagansland, but not only had the Speaker decided to stay in the country, he had the guts to charge right to the nation's royalty at his first opportunity. And Galen wondered why they weren't eager to let them go. Fox was the wrong name for their family. Snake was closer. That slippery varmint hadn't even hesitated to go spilling their intentions all willy-nilly, but now it had landed him way out of his league. Ixiel had nothing much against the guy; past not liking his attitude. But now he was going against Recide and the consequences were probably not going to be too pretty.

Lach's exclamation caught Ixiel off guard- he had been hoping that his presense alone would be enough to shut him up and make him see how silly it was to go ranting about Recide to the world. But the surprise actually worked to his advantage. Ixiel knew that from the bewildered face he made when Lach yelled out his name, not a single person in the room past the Speaker and his friend would believe they had ever met before. But that, of course, would be too conveniant. Ixiel wasn't much of a fast-talker. He was raised to say what he meant, and he did. But he wasn't nearly as unpracticed about it as Lach, and he offered Tyrulan a shrug when he replied, a full idea already forming in his noggin.

"As in, *the* Lachlan Fox?" Ixiel frowned. "I meet a lotta people... but I think I'd remember a mage that important."

Ixiel did get around. He was a cartographer, by all official standards, and the excuse of mapmaking let him away from the capitol any time he needed to head Ospero's way. In reality, Ixiel was actually very good at his job too, and he liked it. With his magical affinity leaning earthward, he could make maps more accurate and more useful than just about anyone without even going to all the places he was charting. That said, his work wasn't actually a cover at all- it was his normal life more than Ospero was in many ways. And that meant that any defense about his activities was practically sealed tight.

Keeping his puzzled expression, Ixiel turned to his fiance, her face in a pout after Lach had shaken her off, and sent Tyrulan's question her way. "Val?"

Val raised an eyebrow, as if surprised at Ixiel, and pointed to Lach with her finger. "Himmin"

"Himmin?" Ixiel raised his eyebrow, though he knew exactly what was going on, and almost grinned at Val's catching on. They knew everything about Lach between the two of them. It was as easy as... "Wait, this is *that* Lach?"

"I reckon I know this guy after all, yer majesty." Ixiel frowned. "But as Lachlan *Fox*," Ixiel said Fox in Lochslanian to note the difference. "A farmhand from Himmin in Lochsalan. Can't say I remember enough to vouch for his character though." And then, Ixiel let a slow frown build on his face, wincing mentally, but knowing what he had to do as he faced Lach and raised one eybrow high. "And did you just call me a Mage...?"
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sun 9 Oct - 18:36

Lachlan’s fists were so tight at this point that he would soon draw blood if the tension did not let up, though at the moment he barely noticed. Ixiel Roansfeld… he had hated the man the moment he’d seen him, and now he knew why. The man was a snake. And a liar. And a murderer. And Lach would see him brought to justice, one way or the next. He would do it, if only to get himself out of the web of lies Ixiel was now weaving around him. It would be so easy for him… for he already had the royal family in his pocket. And Lachlan… he had nothing. Nothing except….

“A farmhand?” He was not quite confident enough for a chuckle, but it came anyway, unbidden and unstoppable. A short, harsh bark of a laugh. “A farmhand? Ixiel…” he shook his head. “Think about it. I’m a nobody! I’m less than a nobody, so what could someone like you possibly want with knowing someone like me? Unless… unless you wanted me for a purpose?” His mouth was suddenly dry. He was shaking, rocking back nervously on his feet, his eyes never leaving Ixiel’s. Challenge… oh yes, there was blatant challenge in his eyes. He would not meet the Zaaltor’s eyes… but he would meet Ixiel Roansfeld’s. And silently he would communicate one simple truth: before Lachlan was through here, he would tear down everything Recide had worked to create. What they had spent years, possibly decades crafting, he would tear down with words in a single day. And with that one thought in mind, he plunged recklessly on.

“You were the one who sought me out, but not in Himmin. You sought me out and brought me to Ospero for one purpose and one purpose only. You, Gregor Midas, Serville Howe, your own *master*, Alfaina Oaklear, and Nestor Streehl. You know me not as a farmhand… but as your chosen man… the one who would put your whole goddamned plan into action. You asked me to murder this family. And I will see you answer for that.”
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sun 9 Oct - 21:27

The last time Idrich Grondellon had seen Lord Jerome Arathorn, his great uncle had not yet held the reigns of power of the largest Mage organization on the face of Eoti. The last time they had spoken, Lord Arathorn had not even hinted that the time was nigh. The time before that, his great uncle had not breathed a word of the attack on Herfiligr that had led to the escape of the prisoners who had previously worked the mines to fill his coffers. And the time before that, Idrich had not heard a word about the former High Mage’s new apprentice—yet another link in the chain that would have to be broken before Lord Arathorn could ascend to the position of High Mage.

His great uncle was a man of great reserve when he had a mind for subtlety. And so it was that Idrich found himself picking up the scraps of information his great uncle let slip and pairing them with happenings only after the fact. It was… maddening, to say the least. But his great uncle was also forceful in his commands and violent in disposition when it served him. It often served him.

And so it was that when Idrich walked into the dining hall and found the table set for two, he hesitated before entering the room. A breath to steel himself against what he knew awaited him. And he stepped forward, undoing the silver clasp to his sleek black outer cloak and handing it indifferently to the waiting Blackshirt without looking at the Mage. He then strode up to the table and seated himself without waiting for his great uncle to reveal himself. Even so, knowing it was coming, he jumped slightly as the voice issued from the shadows.

“You seem… tense, nephew.”

“Tense? Of course not, uncle.” Idrich laughed in an offhanded manner, though it was hallow and cold and unconvincing. “I believe congratulations are in order.”

“Spare me,” Lord Arathorn said brusquely, materializing from the shadows and making his way over to the table. As he seated himself, the Zaaltor of Old Treaganland shifted uncomfortably in his own chair, failing to hide his discomfort. Drawing out the silence, Lord Arathorn signaled to the servers and did not speak until they had withdrawn from the room entirely, leaving the two kinsmen alone. “I trust you’ve also heard of the complication with Ra. The… unfortunate… accident that befell Princess Saelze.”

“Of course. I’ve sent my regard and sympathy to Aelfric.”

“You’ll do more than that.”

“Excuse me?” Idrich looked up from his plate, a mildly irritated look on his face.

“You are to mobilize your troops immediately. Station them at the Lochsalanian border—all of them. Within a fortnight, I want them ready to march—“

With a splutter, Idrich held up his hand to interrupt. “The Lochsalanian border? All… I won’t leave the New Treagan border defenseless, Ärininalan would—“

“Furthermore,” Lord Arathorn pressed on pronouncing the word with purposeful intent. “You are to send a diplomatic party to Ärininan calling for an alliance against Lodewijik. Within two months, I want every soldier the Treaganlands have to offer ready to march against Lochsalan if, indeed, Ra has not fallen by that time.”

“But Lodewijik—“

“Lochsalan must be stripped of power, and if you follow the steps I will lay out for you, we will see the empire disintegrate as quickly as the Cezare falls. But we cannot see Ra fall into the fold of the empire.”

Attempting to bypass the numbness and shock of the blunt immediacy in his great uncle’s words, Idrich attempted a scoff. “What do I care if Ra falls now? It is nothing more than an eventuality. Even with your men on the way to defend the islands.”

Lord Arathorn stood, and seemed to tower over the seated man, as he looked Zaaltor Idrich straight in the eyes. “If it is mere eventuality, then do nothing. Do nothing, and a century from now, when your bones have been long burned and not even the ashes remain, Lodewijik’s heir will not sit on the throne of the Lochsalanian empire. He will sit on the throne of the continent of Lochsalan.”
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Mon 10 Oct - 16:21

"You."

Arininlan's voice churned, low but filled with the capacity to explode at any moment.

"Will say no more until spoken to, do you understand?"

Stepping away from Lachlan's right as her father moved closer, Cantoradel cast a look her brother's way, hoping to gain some insight into Lachlan's seemingly impossible rampage, but found nothing. Even Ixiel was without words, and as the reason for his silence was not wholly apparent, it neither supported nor defaced the claims made against him. There was simply too much on the table at once for any of them to digest without a side of suspicion and assumption, and so she remained silent, trusting her father to make the choice.

"Allow me a moment to try to understand just what is going on, for it seems the story is shifting under my feet." Taking in a deep breath, the Zaaltor set his eyes directly on Lachlan.

"Not a moment ago you named yourself Lachlan Fox bearing word from the late High Mage and spoke of faceless group's plot to see us dead. Now it seems you are but a farmhand, implicating some of the most powerful men of our Era in that very scheme, one of whom is a trusted friend of our family. Not only that, but you admit now that it was you who would do the deed, only by 'Recide's' hand."

Shaking his head, the Zaaltor loosened ever so slightly, looking to Ixiel before continuing.

"There are discrepancies, that much I cannot ignore, but I will not have you pointing fingers at Mr.Roansfeld on unproven grounds; especially to call him a Mage. That said, Ixiel, what was a Fox doing working as a farmhand in Lochsalan?"


(( Short post... but I really didn't know what to do. lol ))

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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Mon 10 Oct - 17:41

...Even if he was trying to make a stand, Ixiel wondered if Lach realized just how silly he sounded. He had just accused the most hodgepodge bunch of continental aristocrats possible of high treason, with next to nothing to back it up and a story that was getting wilder by the second. Even Ixiel was having a hard time believing it was true at this point, and he was actually involved in the thing! He wasn't going to have to do any real fast-talking after all. The Zaaltor was having non of Lach's mad rambling, and Ixiel wasn't having a hard time looking completely overwhelmed; he was, if only from Lach's sudden and self-condemning burst of energy.

The Fox caught his eye, but Ixiel betrayed nothing. However much gusto Lach could pull out of his sleeve, it wasn't any help if he was trying to push something this crazy into the hands of royalty. No... at this point, he wouldn't be surprised if Tyrule at least had already dismissed Lach as crazy and was waiting to send him away and go hunting. But Ixiel offered the Zaaltor his full attention, and didn't leave him waiting.

"I don't rightly know yer majesty." Ixiel offered a full shrug, which was actually a pretty dramatic gesture with his frame. "Must've been months since I've even been near the place, and I didn't see him there then, and I didn't know him well enough to be curious. I'm not even sure what he's doing in the capitol of New Treagaland either... Err, present meeting aside."

Val offered her own noncommital shrug. Technically, what he was saying was true at this point. He *had* passed through Himmin a few months ago, and Lach certainly hadn't been there. and he was likely the most surprised of all of them over his sudden decision to come to New Treaganlnd too. The little guy had to be some kind of crazy.
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Fri 14 Oct - 21:58

Allowing his tired sigh to set the bemused pretext for what was to come next, Arininlan could only groan in response to Ixiel's bit. They were gaining no discernible ground in the fog of accusations and unproven allegations coming from the Fox, and though he was more than inclined to take Ixiel's logical take on the claims being made, he knew he simply couldn't shake off the wariness that Lachlan's warning had no doubt sought to achieve. After all, if Cantoradel had seen fit to bring the 'messenger' before him, then there was likely some stem of merit she'd seen in his words; she wasn't the sort to lend an ear otherwise.

"Well, I see no reason not to be cautious in the very least. Feldar, order the guards around the castle to be extra vigilant. I want anything remotely suspicious brought directly to me, insignificant or no."

Bowing shortly, Feldar made for the door at a motion of the Zaaltor's hand, no hint of question or opinion in his gait. The other two royalty in the room, however, watched their father carefully as he looked between them, sighing again tiredly.

"Del, Tyrulan, escort Lachlan and the woman to a... room. They will be free to move about the bastion under constant escort until I fully understand what is going on here. Also, you are to stay within the walls of the bastion for the time being. Caution, misplaced or not, is a wise man's greatest defense."

"Father... hunting?"

"There will be none unless you can find sport within the confines of the bastion."

Nodding in an attempt to swallow his disappointment, Tyrulan gave Ixiel an apologetic look before taking the stairs down towards Lachlan and Del.

"Now, Ixiel, Lachlan, have you any more to say? I am by no means silencing either of you, I simply wish to understand the wild circumstances of all this." Arininlan started, walking back up to his throne and seating himself.

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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sat 15 Oct - 14:50

A hard lump of frustration rose in Lachlan’s throat as the Zaaltor ordered him silent. Only when his claims were repeated back to him did he realize how absurd they sounded… and yet that realization only increased the frustration. It was almost as though Recide had cooked up the wildest, most implausible plan possible for this very reason. So that if one of their own went rouge, they would be accused of madness before they would be believed. It was ironic—poetic in its own way, even—but Lachlan was in no mood to appreciate that just at the moment.

When Ixiel answered the Zaaltor’s next question, only to shed more doubt on Lachlan’s identity and purpose for traveling to the capitol, it was all Lachlan could do to remain silent. His face was red, though, and his pulse pounding angrily. Ixiel would be able to spin whatever story he wanted, and his word would by far be the trusted one.

He shook his head and turned away as the Zaaltor issued instructions to the guard concerning the increase of castle defenses… right in front of Ixiel. Now, now only did Recide know that Lachlan had warned the royal family… they knew that the warnings would be taken seriously. Even if Lachlan’s word was still heavily doubted. Whether Ixiel would try to drag him back to Recide or decide against it for the time being, he didn’t know. What he did know was that Ixiel would be on his way back to Ospero very soon… and when he got there, everything that had transpired would be related back to Alfaina and Gregor Midas and Servile… and Nutmeg.

Nutmeg.

The look in his eyes when they’d parted.

Closing his eyes momentarily, Lachlan raked his hair out of his eyes and then carefully turned back to the Zaaltor, who had resumed his seat on the throne. “My Lord, I would only like to add that anything said in that man’s presence—“ he pointed to Ixiel— “will be reported directly back to Recide. You will be little harder for them to target than a sleeping deer if you confine yourselves here. And whatever precautions you take they will also know of!” He drew in a deep breath as if to continue, but found that his words were spent. Shaking his head, he turned back to Ixiel, a slight slump in his shoulders when the next words came, more quietly than before. “As for you… tell Nutmeg I’m sorry. I didn’t want this for him.”
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sat 15 Oct - 23:24

The Zaaltor's decision was taken passively by Ixiel and Val. It made sense, even it did confine the two of them to the castle as readily as it did Lach and Lady Ahlmer. Leaving immediately after everything that was said would look far too suspicious, and contacting Recide was far too risky, even if they weren't real suspects at this point. That said, it would be even more dangerous for Lach to try and contact his own allies. Their entrapment here was a double-edged sword. As much as Lach had succeeded in sticking himself somewhere relatively safe within the confines of the castle, he had also trapped the people he was trying to avoid right alongside him. And if things came down to a confrontation between the two pairs, Ixiel was standing at a major advantage.

And to think, earlier in the morning he had only been looking forward to a nice day of hunting with Tyrulan. Ixiel's dissapointment was as real there as the young Zaaltor's, and he sighed at the news that their excursion was cancelled.

"Next time," Ixiel offered the Zaaltoryn as he departed, only realizing after he said the phrase that it was a weapon all it's own. The idea of there being a next time was also a claim that things would go back to normal, culminating with Lach's failure. Not that Ixiel had any doubt that the situation would end just that way.

Only half expecting Lach to resign peacefully, the other half of Ixiel's mind already saw Lach's outburst after the Zaaltor's offer coming, even if it did make him pause. Nutmeg. The Speaker was still trying to act as if he had some feelings for the guy, even after all of this?

After the last time Ixiel had seen Serville's apprentice, Ixiel actually feared for Nutmeg's future. Not just mentally either. The idea of any mage trapped on a hunt with the Vashovy Pirates was horrifying, let alone one with a past grudge with Voglethorpe. The man was restrained by Alfaina... Somehow. But even Ixiel tried to limit his dealings with Alfaina's de facto commander of those forces. He was dark; the sort of dark that made Spiritmages cringe away just from presense. Ixiel had even heard once that a Spiritmage trying to enter Voglethorpe's head had died just from trying to take in whatever was inside.

Lach had nothing to complain about next to that. It was practically his fault Nutmeg was there in he first place. But as much as the idea aggravated Ixiel, he kept a semblance of calm, ignoring Lach's outburst and shaking his head to the Zaaltor.

"I'm fine I reckon. I'll just stick around downstairs out of the way in case I'm needed for anything, if yer not opposed." Ixiel hesitated, tempted to speak in spite, but trying hard to keep his words sounding sympathetic instead. "And... Ah, might it be a good idea to have our guest check with the castle physician? Just to make sure he's... y'know..." Ixiel eyed Lach and looked weakly at the Zaaltor, his point more than apparent after everything Lach had spouted. "Sound?"
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Mon 17 Oct - 20:51

"Yes, I was thinking just the same." Arininlan replied to Ixiel, massaging his forehead with his right hand while his left tapped out a stale beat on the carved wooden armrest of his throne. Finding the young man to be out of his mind would certainly make things simpler, but if there was one thing he'd learned in the political games that came with his position, it was that every lie, every scheme, and every man-man's rambling, always held truth within it. Whether or not the truth was worth pursuing, however, that was another matter entirely.

"... Father?" Del spoke up after several seconds of quiet simply to draw him back to the task at hand. A wave of his hand told her to take Lachlan while he, hopefully fruitfully, considered all that had been said.

"Tyrulan, go with you sister, and tell one of the guards in the hall to accompany you two."

"Very well." Tyrulan spoke up, adjusting the cuff of his coat before turning to Ixiel with a nod of his head. "Next time, then."

Motioning for Cantoradel to lead while he took up the rear, Tyrulan ushered Lachlan and Lady Ahlmir out, closing shut the throne room door behind him. As he did, the Zaaltor let out another heavy sigh as his hand slipped from his forehead and onto his lap, speaking up before Ixiel could take his leave.

"I hope you understand that my suspicion here is strictly precautionary, Ixiel, but I must request that for the time being you remain within the grounds as well."

---

"Here," Del said flatly, opening the door to what was not a cell, but certainly not a suite either. It was 'humble'; surprisingly so given the scope of the bastion itself- and a solid representation of where Lachlan stood in the eyes of the Zaaltor. He was a guest- for now- until the slightest reason surfaced to label him otherwise.

"You're to guard the door and escort them around within the grounds should they seek to venture outside of this room, Rullan. I'll provide a stand-in for you during the evenings, however I want a report of your shift each time you finish." Tyrulan explained to the young but stern guardsman who gave him a hearty "Yes, Zaaltoryn". Carefully, he gave both Lachlan and Lady Ahlmir a once-over without a word, his mis-matched eyes searching them without explanation before, with a swish of his knee-length coat, he was off down the hall with a short wave over his shoulder to his sister.

"Typical," She muttered in low Treagan under her breath at his abandonment, turning to the others only after he was out of sight.

"I suggest you don't go far."

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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Tue 18 Oct - 20:30

His lip curled downward, something between a snarl and a sneer, it was all Lachlan could do not to answer back. Ixiel played the part so well… it was almost difficult for Lach to see the savvy, task-oriented Mage he’d been in Recide past the guise as Common New Treagan nobleman—catering to the whims of the royal family and only quietly concerned by a threat that may or may not hold any weight. And with every comment he made, Lach’s own credibility slipped a little further out of reach.

Turning to the Zaaltor with a short bow, Lachlan took his leave in silence, following the lead of the Zaaltoryna as the Zaaltoryn came up behind them. Uneasiness quickly took hold of him as he and Lady Ahlmir were escorted to a small room, furnished sparsely but still a great step above a small cell—which Lachlan had known going in was likely to be his destination. Especially with Ixiel speaking against him. Though he knew he did not yet completely have the ear of the Zaaltor, as Lachlan looked around the small room, he knew he was not being completely ignored either. So, turning to Zaaltoryna Cantoradel as the Zaaltoryn turned stiffly on his heels and left without a word, Lachlan bowed low to the ground.

“A thousand thanks,” he murmured deferentially. “I… understand. How mad it sounds. Everything I know… well, I’ll be around.” Pausing to draw in a breath, Lachlan realized that his words were coming out in stammers. What did he know of speaking to royalty? Apparently not enough to get by, for the next thing he knew, the Zaaltoryna had turned and followed her brother’s lead before Lachlan could attempt to smooth out his rough words.

Stifling a groan, Lachlan turned to Lady Ahlmir as soon as she was gone. For a moment, his eyes fell to the ground as he contemplated how to tell her that it would take the uncovering of just one lie… and they would be sitting in a very dangerous position. And she had walked into it blind. Falling back against the wall, feeling winded, he simply closed his eyes and shook his head. “When Ixiel… I just… I lost myself. I panicked. Didn’t know what to do.” He rubbed at his wrist, which seemed to ache worse than ever now that he knew it was unnecessary, then held out his arm and pushed back the sleeves of his coat. “I don’t suppose you could… I mean, now that they know where we are?”
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Tue 1 Nov - 17:02

Their situation, far from ideal, was certainly a precarious one, but not yet hopeless. Though she had been unable to understand the majority of what had been said, context, expressions, and reactions, had been enough for Lady Ahlmir to maintain a grasp on what had happened, but her ability to contribute had been severely stunted leaving Lachlan to do all of the talking which, for better or worse, hadn’t resulted in what she would consider to be a smooth conversation. Still, neither of them had expected Ixiel to be at the Zaaltor’s right hand, and even now she wasn’t certain as to what it would mean for them. Either way, it was clear that Ixiel had the upper hand on them so far as gaining the Zaaltor’s trust was concerned.

“Sometimes an uncontrolled reaction like that can speak more truth than calm explanation, Lachlan.” She assured him, glancing at the door a moment in thought. The Zaaltor seemed to be a practical man- cautious, though not wholly mistrusting; willing to at least pursue the truth in Lachlan’s claim despite his uncertainties. He would be difficult to convince without more concrete proof, that much was certain, but at least he wasn’t unreasonable.

Then there were the two siblings: the Zaaltoryn and Zaaltoryna. Cantoradel, as the Zaaltoryna was named, seemed to be the most skeptical of the three, quiet as she had been through most of the audience. As such was the case, Lady Ahlmir suspected that, were her and Lachlan caught in a lie, the Zaaltoryna would be the first one with a dagger at their throats. Such a personality would be foolish for them to test, but an utter asset if they could make use of it. After all, she suspected the Zaaltoryna was not one to take well to betrayal, and Ixiel was doing just that. Proving that, however, was another story entirely. The Zaaltor, though, his expression...

“Ah, yes.” Lady Ahlmir woke from her thoughts, motioning for Lachlan to raise his arm to her. Feeling sick merely from having her hands near the restrictive device, she worked quickly using the water from a pitcher that had been placed on the nearby table to freeze and crack the metal band sending it to the floor with a thud a moment later.

“Horrible devices, those things.” She grumbled, not picking it up. Instead she motioned for Lachlan to take a seat and fill her in on what had happened while she found a chair herself, already growing tired from the excitement of the day.




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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Tue 1 Nov - 17:47

A small smile of grateful relief twitched onto Lachlan’s lips upon Lady Ahlmir’s kind words, though he felt like he would rather do anything but smile at the moment. An uncontrolled reaction it had been, and though (as Ixiel had pointed out) it made him look unstable, mad even, if the Zaaltor saw any kernel of truth in his panicked reaction, then good would come of it. Until they knew whether the Zaaltor would choose to see it that way, though… Lachlan would continue to feel uneasy about the whole ordeal. True, it was just the beginning. But now he knew more fully what he was up against. And Ixiel was largely an unmovable force, no matter which angle Lach looked at him from.

Trembling slightly at the prospect of finally being free of the cuff, Lachlan stilled his arm as best he could as Lady Ahlmir worked. The idea of finally being free of the sickening nausea that continually gripped him, the intermittent headaches, the tremors, and the consistent feeling that something was horribly missing and terribly wrong… it must have been how Cira felt on the day of their glorious return to freedom.

As the brittle metal snapped and the band fell to the floor, Lachlan immediately drew his wrist up to himself and rubbed it vigorously, kicking the cursed metal under the table in one smooth motion. It skidded out of sight with a screech, and then lay silently. Twisted and broken and melting. Sinking down to the chair at the desk, Lachlan continued to rub warmth into his wrist. The skin underneath where the band had been dripped with water and blood, and skin, shredded from the friction, hung delicately from his wrist. It was an ugly sight to be sure, but would heal soon enough now that the horrible device was gone.

“Terrible…” Lachlan muttered, echoing Lady Ahlmir. “We need to get back to Xalem… tell him to take it off. He’s… been having a worse time of it than I have.”

With a sigh, Lachlan sat back in his seat and began to tell Lady Ahlmir everything that had been said—everything from the time he’d first stopped Zaaltoryna Cantoradel in the street until she’d left the room and her orders to the guards outside. Though he’d wished to leave out some of Ixiel’s more disparaging remarks and attacks on his state of mind, Lachlan hid nothing from the wise old Mage sitting across from him, knowing that given the precarious situation she was in, she would need to know everything going forward. It was a danger for her even to be present, when she could say nothing in defense of either of them and had to rely only on non-verbals to understand what was being said. And with that in mind, Lachlan knew he had to find a way to secure Lady Ahlmir’s release as quickly as possible.

In all the time he spoke, no one interrupted them. Not surprising in itself, though Lachlan was aware that he had gone through every detail meticulously, and thus his explanation of what had been said had taken quite some time. Once finished, Lachlan fell silent for a moment, though the look on his face clearly hinted at the nervousness of a resolution at the tip of his tongue. When he looked up again, he said quietly, “I… need to tell them. Right away. That the Council didn’t send me. It was the only authority I could think of that they would listen to to get us this far, though.”
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sat 12 Nov - 21:27


Though she could only imagine the sickening weakness both Lachlan and Xalem had willingly shouldered for the past two weeks, Lady Ahlmir knew that it was not without benefit. The cuff, as it now sat broken and useless on the floor, had been a necessary evil in keeping them hidden, and even though Recide now knew the location of their would-be-scapegoat, the same couldn’t be said for the rest of the group. It was unfair, perhaps, or at least so Lachlan would likely see it, but she was sure Xalem would agree with her as she spoke up with a gentle shake of her head.

“Not yet. They’re still hidden, and should anything happen, it must remain that way.”

As it was, she wasn’t sure what help the others would be- if any- for it seemed as if the issue was going to be made purposefully internal. All the same, they had known going in that they would be essentially on their own the moment they had passed through the bastion doors, and so they were hardly dealing with anything unexpected- except Ixiel, the naysayer to their story; and their latest and greatest challenge to overcome. With a story composed of unprovable truths and outright falsities as their alibi, they were surely going to be fighting an uphill battle to be heard.

With a slow, thoughtful nod, Lady Ahlmir considered Lachlan’s words but found it to be of little use. There was no telling what would come of them admitting the truth or what Ixiel and the Zaaltor’s reactions would be, but she was almost certain that they would find themselves sitting stale just long enough for Recide to act first if they held up their false story. Of course, revealing their lie meant casting doubt upon any truths they had spoken, unless they could use the whole mishap to their advantage.

“Perhaps we should just wait a short while. Ixiel will be building his story on what you said in there, no doubt; It may be our chance to catch him in a lie of his own. Still, we do not want to wait to long, and should the opportunity come for you to tell the truth it would be better to air on the side of caution and take it. Hopefully the Zaaltor is truly a reasonable man.”

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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sat 12 Nov - 22:56

“Not yet.”

Still rubbing out his sore wrist while reveling in the feeling of finally… feeling again, Lachlan looked up in surprise upon these words. It simply wasn’t right to ask Xalem to suffer any more than he had already, especially when the game was up. There would be no more hiding from Recide. If they wanted Lachlan back, they would know right where to find them. And if they wanted the others as well… he was sure they wouldn’t be opposed to rooting around within either his mind or Lady Ahlmir’s for the answer. And there they would find images of the camp they’d made in the forest… as well as the route Lachlan and Lady Ahlmir had taken from there to the gates of the palace.

Rubbing at his forehead, which ached dully in the wild, dizzying rush he was experiencing, Lachlan let his eyes slide closed as he attempted to contain the urge to grasp the magic that danced tantalizingly before him. Even as he pushed the dancing flows away, though, he remembered the time Cira had removed his collar. It had… not ended quite so well. And though he was not yet finished with his training, he had made great strides. He would not need Lady Ahlmir’s help to control the magic.

“You wouldn’t say that if you knew,” he snapped, his hand clenching into a tight fist. Taking a deep breath, Lachlan opened his eyes and looked up at the wizened old Mage. A small tingling of regret ran through him at the tone of accusation his impatience had forced into his voice. But he could not apologize. Not when it was only borne of an impatience to get word and warning to Xalem.

Slumping down over the desk, Lachlan let his head sink into his hands, where his fingers twisted into his hair. “Let me think,” he muttered. “Let me think.” But no matter where he wished his thoughts to take him, he could not pass the horrifying thought that Ixiel was near at hand, that he had the direct ear of the royal family, and that Cira, Xalem, and the others did not yet know. Nor, in fact, could they know. Not when neither Lachlan nor Lady Ahlmir would be allowed to leave until further notice.

But ten minutes passed in silence, and Lachlan found that he could not imagine a scenario in which sweet-talking Ixiel would slip up and find himself contradicting himself. Perhaps he would lie plenty. But they would never catch him at it, just as Lachlan himself would never be able to prove even a single truth he told.

More time passed, and with every second that ticked by, Lachlan grew less and less certain that there would be any favorable outcome in all of this. It had not occurred to him that he would be utterly unable to prove a word he said. Nor had it occurred to him that they would lack the urgency he himself felt in relating the matter to them. It was something, he supposed, a small step in the right direction, that he was at least being taken seriously. In the meantime, Lachlan could only pray that Ixiel would not convince the Zaaltor of his madness.
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Mon 14 Nov - 19:06

Lachlan was right, she knew, but Lady Ahlmir’s lack of a truly empathetic taste of what he and Xalem had been subjected to did not lessen the truth of the situation. Even if she wished to, her current position didn’t allow her to update the elder Speaker on their situation, and asking to take a leave into the city would only raise questions which she would be unwilling to answer. It was a frustrating situation, certainly, and with so much at stake there was going to be a lot of difficult choices to be made, and so it was with understanding that she bore Lachlan’s outburst, knowing the effects of the pressure were already weighing on him.

Allowing Lachlan the silence to think on his insistence, Lady Ahlmir fell into her own thoughts, finding it easy to sustain, but difficult to make fruitful. She had little issue with the waiting they had been forced into for they had little to act on anyway, but the lack of information coming from the world outside their door was admittedly concerning. It was much like playing a game of chess while blindfolded, the board only being revealed when it was again their turn. Though, she supposed, there were undoubtedly pieces that would remain hidden until called upon.

With a knock at the door just authoritative enough to be noteworthy but soft enough so as not to seem urgent, the thick air in the room rose a little, allowing them just enough time to face the door before it opened and closed behind the only figure who entered through it- The Zaaltoryn.

“We will speak fast.” He spoke from where he stood, his Lochsalanian heavily accented and lacking true fluency. It took only a glance towards Lady Ahlmir to explain his use of the language, though the way he took a cautious glance at the door before crossing the room seemed to suggest a need for discretion as well.

“I would believe you have more to tell than what you have already said, yes?” He started in broken speak, addressing Lachlan. “If you want to be heard, tell me now. You will not find your voice- that of a Majir- to be heard well here.”

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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Mon 14 Nov - 23:11

There was no way of telling how long they waited. Eventually, all activity within Lach’s mind ceased, and he sank into a dull stupor, unable to think of anything beyond the increasing cycle of rage and frustration that just when he’d gained a small victory, Ixiel Roansfeld had come and stolen it away. And accused him of being mentally unstable at the same time. It was almost too much to bear because, of the two of them, Ixiel’s word would be believed a hundred times over before Lachlan’s would even be considered. Ixiel was everything to the Zaaltor and his family that Lachlan was not—a trusted friend, a nobleman of respectable repute, a Common. The last being, quite possibly, the most important and damaging distinction of all. It was disgusting that he could hide his identity as a Mage from them as he pleased and yet… and yet Lachlan couldn’t even hide it from himself.

Not… not that he wanted to.

Not anymore. Not after two solid weeks being denied the one thing that—he had soon realized only by its absence—gave him such genuine pleasure. Acceptance came and went. But this time, it had only come with a bitter price—one that Xalem was still paying. The very thought made Lach’s hands clench in frustration, even in anger that he had allowed it.

Upon the knock at the door, Lach lifted his head from the surface of the desk, bolting upright and to his feet only after realizing who it was. Tyrulan—the Zaaltoryn himself.

“We will speak fast,” Tyrulan said, before Lachlan had properly regained either his footing or bearings, his Lochsalanian broken and accented. “I would believe you have more to tell than what you have already said, yes? If you want to be heard, tell me now. You will not find your voice⎯that of a Majier⎯to be heard well here.”

Stunned to the point of silence for several moments, it was all Lachlan could do to remember to lower his head in a deferential bow. It was a surreal experience, to find himself unexpectedly face to face with the Prince of New Treaganland⎯and… and to so candidly be reminded that he would enjoy very little regard, not through fault of his heritage this time, but because of something equally outside of his control. It… it was something he’d mentally prepared for. But never had he experienced it first hand. And so it was that on this springboard of indignation that Lachlan found the courage to look up into the Prince’s mismatched eyes and give answer—with heat and strength in his voice that had previously lacked.

“Whether my words will be taken well or not, your majesty, they are truth. Perhaps I should have asked my Common brother to deliver the warning. But it would have been no less true coming from his mouth or mine.” A pause. An intake of breath. And Lachlan lowered his eyes to the ground, humbling his posture ever so slightly as he prepared himself for what would possibly work to undo everything he’d said thus far. “I… I have only two things to add. And I beg that your majesty would hear me out.

“I was not… sent by the Council. I came of my own will. It was my only lie. The only way I could gain your ear.” The note of apology rang loud and clear in his voice, though he wasn’t sure how easily the Prince would hear it—expending most of his effort just to understand the meaning of the words themselves.

Not wishing to tarry long, however, on the one lie that had the power to destroy whatever credibility he’d possessed, Lachlan moved on, struggling to keep from rushing. “And secondly, I must tell you that Recide will not abandon their plans simply because I have not agreed to… to… assist them. I believe they plan to send another in my stead. One who has taken on my appearance through magic.”
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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Sun 20 Nov - 2:08

“I know Katya did not send you.” Tyrulan answered back, almost disinterestedly. “It is why I have come to speak with you.” Though it was apparent that the Zaaltoryn had little interest in elaborating, Lady Ahlmir couldn’t help but wonder at what he had meant. The New Treaganish throne had never displayed a desire for strong ties with the Council, and though Katya had never outright ignored them, she had never seemed to pursue contact without prompt or purpose. For Tyrulan to know with apparent certainty that Lachlan’s alleged task had not come from the former High Mage’s lips however, meant that his contacts within the Council superseded the official boundaries. It was... concerning to her- one of the Council’s esteemed members- but at the same time, she was eager to see if his knowledge could become an asset.

“I also know of how you... ‘left’ the Myrr .” He started again, clearly frustrated with his limited Lochsalanian vocabulary. “For weeks you disappeared, then, and even I could not find you until I heard word from the north.”

Standing, the Zaaltoryn turned and mulled over his thoughts for a moment, giving no hint as to what was going on inside his head. Even so, it wasn’t long before he turned back again with that same unreadable glint, watching Lachlan carefully again while he continued.

“Tell me, then: What would you have us do? You came with warning, so you must have a plan, yes?”

Though he didn’t make it clear whether or not anything Lachlan said would be taken to heart, the Zaaltoryn clasped his hands behind his back and devoted his attention. There was something else on his mind, though, intentionally made visible on his face. It was amazing, Lady Ahlmir thought, that at an age where he wasn't even a true adult yet, he could maintain such a controlled air about him. He was an undoubtedly intelligent and calculating young man, that much was clear, but what it meant for them had yet to be seen.

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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Tue 22 Nov - 1:58

“Mmm, yeah.” Isaac agreed with a nod, flipping his hood up over his head in one smooth motion. The lack of defiance and frustration in his tone was enough to prove that he understood all too well the source of Micah’s caution, and it wasn’t until several seconds later that he mentally backtracked himself. Prejudice, even if none of them agreed with it, was second nature even within their open mindsets. Sure, they weren’t prejudiced themselves, but it was an inescapable reality in a place like New Treaganland- or anywhere in Eoti, for that matter. It was part of the reason why Isaac admired Ace and Micah though, for his time in Himmin had shown him many examples of how the bond between family, as strong as he believed it to be, was not always a match for the hatred and mistrust between Commons and Mages. Uncle Lach, it seemed, was a lucky man.

Glancing over for a fraction of a second, Isaac took in the underlying worry on Micah’s face, trying as hard as he could to relate. Undoubtedly there were many ‘worst-case-scenarios’ running through his head and even more concerns and complications to fill the spaces between them, but try as he did to fully understand, Isaac found himself limited by the one defining factor at the heart of the matter: siblings. He could only imagine what it was like to have a brother or a sister, and though he imagined something like a mix between a friend and a parent, something told him that he didn’t quite get it. So, with a note of curiosity and the hope that he wasn’t treading on hallowed ground, Isaac put his questions to words, certain that Micah would give him an honest answer.

“Hey, Micah?”

Battling a strange pique in nerves, Isaac adjusted his hood around his head to sit lower on his brow, giving him a moment to compile himself. His ears were a little cold, anyway.

“What’s it like to have a brother?”

That wasn’t quite it, though, was it?

A second passed with only the crunching of snow under their feet before Isaac quickly reiterated his question, this time going for a broader approach.

“Or any siblings, really.” He added, a previous conversation with Ace coming back to him. “I mean, you have other brothers and sisters besides Uncle Lach and Ace, right?”

Ace had been so careful when she’d spoken about their other siblings, always glancing around to her brothers to see if they were listening before she continued. It was because of this that Isaac decided to silence himself and wait for an answer before continuing on, for whatever Ace had withheld from him had surely been left out for a reason- one that he, an only child, might not understand.

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PostSubject: Re: Tarel Soarvas   Tue 22 Nov - 15:23

Lachlan fell completely silent when Tyrulan announced that he had known all along that Katya had not sent him. He said it in a careless, flippant manner, as if it were of little consequence to him, nothing to be concerned about because, of course, he’d already known. Lachlan had the sudden sensation of one who’d opened his eyes into unexpectedly bright sunlight, and consequently had to squint quickly against the brightness. A sudden flash of understanding—a fleeting glimpse of hazy surroundings. But nothing more. Tyrulan knew much more than Lachlan had dreamed the young Zaaltoryn knew. But as to the extent of his knowledge… Lachlan could not see that far through squinted eyes.

“Tell me, then: What would you have us do? You came with warning, so you must have a plan, yes?”

“I…” Lachlan faltered as the Zaaltoryn’s words caught up with him. He was… expecting that Lachlan had a plan? “I don’t…”

Tyrulan’s mismatched eyes were staring right into his own, and it was partially through the shock of the Zaaltoryn’s question that Lachlan stared back, completely mindless for the moment that it was not at all proper.

“I don’t have a plan, sir,” he admitted, a carefully hesitant tone entering his voice. He didn’t know what Tyrulan wanted from him, but he was fairly certain that even if he’d been able to answer this question differently… there was no guarantee that his ideas would be given much weight. Not with the royalty. “I’m just here to deliver the message. And as soon as I’ve answered every question I’m able to, told you everything I know, I’ll be leaving. I’m sure there are others here—others who you trust—who have experience dealing with M… with such threats.” Cheeks reddening as he realized what he’d almost said, Lachlan looked down to the floor at his feet, conscious of Lady Ahlmir’s presence at his side. Mages. “What I mean to say is… there are others… more qualified than me. Who can protect you.”

--

“Yeah?”

By the way Isaac spoke, Micah had the feeling that he’d been wanting to say what he was about to for quite some time. At first, he wondered what had held Isaac back. The two of them had spent so much time together, most of it in talk but some of it in silence—and much of it also alone—that he wasn’t sure what Isaac could have on his mind that would make him nervous. They were comfortable enough around each other by now, weren’t they?

“What’s it like to have a brother?”

Micah looked over at Isaac as the younger boy quickly amended his question.

“I have two brothers and two sisters,” Micah said easily, realizing that Isaac had picked up from Ace the fact that Reuben was no longer in Micah’s good graces. Not that Reuben gave a damn, of course. “Reuben and Iris are the other two. I’m the youngest. And it never gets lonely, that’s for sure,” he muttered, turning his gaze back to the forest path before them. A dusting of snow covered the branches ahead, and packed snow crunched under foot. It was all so beautiful that it was easy to forget the cold.

“Sometimes it’s frustrating. And they do and say things that make you just hate their guts. But they’re still family. Me and Iris for example,” Micah said with a laugh, his eyes seeming to look into the distant past. He knew he was wearing his heart out on his sleeve, but around Isaac he didn’t really care. “We used to argue all the time. And sometimes we fought too. When Tacha wasn’t around, at least. Blimey, she was annoying!” He glanced over at Isaac again. “And I don’t want you getting the idea that siblings are all bad. But now she’s my best friend. Since we grew up a bit. But Lach and I were always close. He used to take me and Iris swimming and fishing in the river all the time.”

A smile crept across Micah’s face as his memory whisked him back in time. “I remember the creek wound all the way around Lord Oaklear’s land and down into Himmin—right next to this olive orchard owned by this grumpy old Mage no one liked. Her name was Constance Alden. Sometimes we would swim for miles just so we could sneak onto her land and steal some of her olives. And Dusk would come with us too. I remember once…” Suddenly, Micah’s bright smile faded. Lach didn’t talk about Dusk anymore.

“Reuben always hated it when Lach or me spent time with Dusk. And Ace just hated all the arguments it caused. But no matter what, Lach and Reuben were always there for me.” Shrugging, Micah opened his mouth and closed it a few times before finally saying what he’d meant to. “So much has changed.”
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