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* Plot Information for Askavi Terreille

For nearly two centuries Askavi floundered, brought low in the wake of the Red Queen’s war. The institution of one court with its Two Queens and the end of restitution payments promises a brighter future. Still, War knocks on the Eyrien’s door from all sides and the people fight against the need to meet it.
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Author Topic: The Court of Hidden Knives  (Read 333 times)

Description: Attn: Cassian

Offline Drakkar Estaroth

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    • reddescent
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      Warlord Prince of Askavi

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      Askavi, Terreille

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      Gavin

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The Court of Hidden Knives
« on: May 17, 17, 09:45:42 AM »
Mid-Winter, Early 192 AP - Gravesend

This thread takes place two days after The Second Climb  but immediately before Black Blade, Bright Heart

The door to Cassian Ankara’s infirmary in Gravesend was kicked off the hinges as Vannevar Raskin entered, dragging the Warlord Prince, Drakkar Estaroth, in behind him.

HEALER! WE NEED YOUR AID, NOW!” Vannevar roared. It was possible that he wasn’t endearing himself to Court Healer of Gravesend, but that was a worry for later. For now, the Blood Seeker Captain needed to see to his leader’s fate. Drakkar mumbled something, then coughed, spitting a mouthful of blood onto the stone floor of the infirmary. Vannevar was no Healer, but he’d seen wounded men on the battlefield, seen them being triaged in the Healer’s tents in more Territories than he could properly name right now.

His leader and friend was dying.

--

Drakkar Estaroth understood pain. The dagger wound in his side was not even the worst pain he’d ever felt. But the poison it had been laced burned in his veins and set his skin aflame. The mechanics of the attempt on his life were no different than many others he’d faced over the centuries. Someone looked for a time when he appeared vulnerable and attempted to end his life over slights real or imagined.

Today was different, though.

The poison used by his would-be assassins wasn’t made solely to kill him. It was meant to induce suffering.

Everything has a Price, Elder Brother.

A growl escaped Drakkar’s throat, but his voice was a rasping whisper, forced from lungs that could barely draw or hold a breath.

Or did you think killing Eristovar Errsa would come without cost?

Shut up, Tavar.” he grumbled. The last thing he needed was philosophy and remorse at a time like this.

You heard them, didn’t you? You heard what they said before they moved to attack you.

For Eristovar.

Drakkar was alone in the practice yard when he felt the presence of others alongside him. They’d been hidden from his perceptions right until the moment of attack. He’d snapped the first one’s arm like kindling, then fought off a second as quickly as he dared. When he recognized his assailants as members of the Territory Guard, Drakkar was insulted.

Prince Yatskaya would be embarrassed that he allowed trash such as you to guard Lady Kriat.

The dagger blade slid between his second and third ribs. The Warlord Price snarled in rage as the voice whispered into his ear.

My thoughts exactly, Blood Seeker. The only thing on which we'll ever agree.” the Prince whispered.

Drakkar spun and drove his elbow into man’s temple on instinct, driving him back.  Dastovar Rance, Prince of Snow Cliffs District, glared at him with barely concealed malice. He’d arrived to bring the Province’s tithes several days ago. Drakkar returned that glare as ice coated the ground between two of them. Between the four of them. Between the nine of them. Each time Drakkar blinked, the number Dastovar's increased five-fold.

Poison.

That was for Prince Eristovar, Beast. Lady Kriat will not be chained to an unrepentant killer for the rest of her life. Askavi does not reward treachery with power.” Rance said.

Drakkar hauled himself to his feet even as the Prince drew his blade.

Only Vannevar’s interference saved his life, forcing the Prince to flee Gravesend with one of the guardsmen.

You knew that someone would avenge him, Drakkar. People loved him as much as they now hate you. Did you think they'd roll over quietly while you took the place of one of their Queens.

I’d...considered it.” Drakkar murmured.

---


I’d...considered it.” Drakkar rasped.

Considered what?” Vannevar asked.

Drakkar’s body went slack in his arms.


HEALER!” Vannevar yelled.

Offline Cassian Ankhara

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Re: The Court of Hidden Knives
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 17, 11:18:20 AM »
Cassian was not unused to people storming into her infirmary, demanding aid at odd hours or unexpected moments. And she was not unused to Eyrien tempers accompanying those invasions either. But even after hundreds of years, she still suppressed an inward sigh and reminded herself that she did not have to like it, she just had to do her job.

If these Mother Night blighted males would stop being at each other’s throats so much…

“I’m here, I’m here!” she called from one of the back storage rooms, pitching her voice lightly to reassure whatever panicked soul was barging in with their emergency that she had heard them and they could stop yelling at the top of their voice and their Jewels. From the sound of their entrance, she was going to have to repair, or possibly replace, the door. She sincerely hoped the damage to the patient was worth the damage to her door.

Wiping her hands clean of detriment from the shelves she had been organizing, Cassian swept into the main area of the infirmary, taking in the sight of two men -- one very much alive and kicking, and the other slack in the first one’s arms. The only mark she could find on the injured man was a neat incision between the second and third ribs. The blood that welled from it was a vibrant red and a virulent black.

“Get him on the bed,” she instructed the man who had called her without thought to rank or temper. The infirmary was her domain, not his. “And tell me what happened,” she added. She called in various supplies -- vials, webs, herbs, clean rags, water for heating -- and set them on the table nearby as she prepared for her own sort of battle. A poisoned wound presented a myriad of issues, first and foremost the identification of the poison used. She could stem the bleeding easily enough, but stopping the poison?

Extending her Healer Craft from her left hand as she held it an inch away from Drakkar’s side, she probed gently, letting her Healer senses get a taste for the poison overtaking his system. Not witchblood. That relieved Cassian greatly. Witchblood could only be drawn out of the system and left an incredible amount of damage behind. It could not be cured or countered like other poisons could. Like this poison could. She left Drakkar’s side to begin distilling the cure from the vials at the nearby table.

Offline Drakkar Estaroth

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      Warlord Prince of Askavi

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Re: The Court of Hidden Knives
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 17, 12:39:18 AM »
Vannevar hoisted Drakkar onto the bed, earning a pained groan from the Warlord Prince. He made sure that Drakkar was comfortable and then stepped back while the Healer set to her task. The War Camps taught every Eyrien male to stand aside when the Healers and Priestesses began their work, just as they knew to move aside once combat started. Vannevar backed up to the the wall, wings twitching in irritation and annoyance at the situation before him.

Prince Drakkar was in the courtyard alone when he was attacked. It was an assassination attempt against him.” Vannevar said, the Warlord voice growing cold. Drakkar’s breathing was labored, raspy, but he was still alive. The wound stank, but Cassian was able to identify it as a compound poison, cobbled together from a plant and more virulent venom.

They had poisoned weapons. Members of the Gravessend Guard, along with some peacock from one of the circles. There will be hell to pay for this.” Vannervar said, beginning to pace the area in front of the bed while Cassian worked.

Can you save him?[/color]” the male asked. She had to save him. Morale would take a huge blow without Drakkar’s presence. He’d gotten them a seat at the table in Illyrian Kriat’s Court, though Drakkar seemed more interested in provoking the Queen than working with her. He’d made no friends in the Court. Consequently, no one was there to watch him today when he was attacked.

You must save him.” Vannevar said, stopping to watch her work.

Offline Cassian Ankhara

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Re: The Court of Hidden Knives
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 17, 11:33:40 PM »
“I’d do a much better job at saving him if you weren’t so demanding about it,” Cassian said calmly and without any sort of bite to her voice. Partially, it was because she was concentrating on distilling the right amount of antivenom for her patient’s body weight, but it was also partially because she had learned that snarling back at already snarly (Eyrien) males got her nowhere. She needed to focus on her patient, not a petty snapping match because some male couldn’t handle a witch in his face.
 
Cassian took a long, steadying breath, ridding herself of her negative emotions after a count to ten. Negativity had no place in the Healing room. It would only spoil the mending. This was one of the first lessons that apprentice Healers learned. Focusing on her Healer Craft, she began weaving the spell within her to assist the potion she was about to pour down Drakkar’s throat.
 
“Stay over there,” she told Vannevar firmly. She went to the head of the bed, lifted Drakkar’s head enough to carefully pour the antivenom into his mouth without causing him to choke (a skill she had tried numerous times on patients before finally perfecting the technique), and then, after placing both of her hands flat against Drakkar’s head, she released the Healing spell, a soft song emanating from her lips as she fed the spell into his circulatory system, imagining every artery and vein, winding down to the tiny capillaries, circling around the poisoned wound, down from temple to toes, cleansing, cleansing, cleansing…
 
Be gone, she whispered to the death that sought his life. And, this time, Death retreated.
 
It couldn’t have been an hour but it still felt like an eternity before she finished that song, that spell, and it left her drained, as expected. Sensing that Drakkar was now in a healing sleep and not slipping closer into Death’s embrace, she stepped away from her patient to care for herself, her weakened fingers brewing a restorative tonic as quickly as she could. She would make one for her patient soon enough. Cassian had learned long ago that if she didn’t care for herself after a Healing, then she would be in no shape to assist with the next phase of care, and there weren’t very many Healers in this Court nowadays to help her. She had to look after herself, because if she didn’t, who was going to look after all of these people, and, most of all, her broken brother?
 
Sipping at her brew, sitting on the nearest sturdy surface, she told Vannevar, “He’ll be alright. He’ll pull through.” Unless she had completely misjudged the Warlord Prince and he honestly wanted to relinquish his hold on life. But Cassian doubted that. His will to live, if only to exact his revenge, was strong. Warlord Princes never went quietly into that eternal night. Even in death, they raged against the dying of their own light. Cassian counted on that.

Offline Drakkar Estaroth

  • Character Account
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      Warlord Prince of Askavi

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Re: The Court of Hidden Knives
« Reply #4 on: Jun 07, 17, 09:42:17 PM »
Vannevar wondered at the female’s skill, knowing that Kaderian would eviscerate her if she failed to save Drakkar. Over successive minutes, however, Vannervar watched the female diagnose, find, and eliminate the poison from Drakkar’s body. He’d seen Healers work in the past and, if he was honest, Vannevar did not think much of any of the so-called Eyriens who lived inside of Gravesend. Those that were not the Blood Seekers appeared weak and timid, unable or unwilling to seize upon the violent strength and power that defined their people.
 
Cassian Ankhara, however, at least showed skill in her field.
 
Thank you, Lady Ankhara. Prince Estaroth does not forget those who do right by him.” Vannevar said gently.
 
The second-in-command of the Blood Seekers then found a chair and dragged it to the table, sitting down beside Drakkar and waiting for his leader to awaken.
 
Several hours later, Drakkar opened his eyes and grunted in annoyance.
 
You people...can’t even assassinate someone properly.” he groused, attempting to sit up and failing due to the wound in his side. Vannervar, who’d been dozing, awoke and slammed his fist to his chest in salute to the Warlord Prince who stood at their leader.
 
Drakkar, you’re awake.
 
You are observant, Brother. How long did I sleep?
 
Six hours. What were you doing in that courtyard alone?” Vannevar asked.
 
Practicing.
 
Never again. You will have at least three men with you at all times from now on.
 
No, Vannevar. I am still a man. I will not be cowed or silenced by fear.” Drakkar said, looking around. He recognized the room as the infirmary and snarled, clearly unhappy.
 
Why do I feel so damned weak? What was in that poison?” he asked.
 
Vannevar looked around for Cassian, unsure of how to answer the question.

Offline Cassian Ankhara

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Re: The Court of Hidden Knives
« Reply #5 on: Jun 28, 17, 03:03:08 PM »
By the time Drakkar awoke, Cassian had recovered as much energy as she would without taking a nap. She had finished her restorative brew, fed herself a hearty snack, and was now sipping chilled water. Since there was nothing to do but to monitor his vitals and wait, Cassian, during those intervals, had returned to organizing the shelves. Vannevar was obviously going to keep vigil over his leader so Cassian knew she would receive an instantaneous alert to any change in Drakkar’s condition.

But it did take her a moment to register that Drakkar had awoken and that was only because she didn’t think that Vannevar was the type of man to have a conversation with himself. Wiping her hands of dust, she came to join the two men in the other room, watching Drakkar to see if he would foolishly attempt to get out of the bed. He didn’t, which was a plus in Cassian’s book, but she didn’t think he’d stay there happily either. Eyrien men had a thing about being on their backs -- it wasn’t the most comfortable position with their wings and warriors had a thing about exposing their bellies so much.

To answer Drakkar’s question about the poison, Cassian approached, quietly attracting their intense attention. “Enough that I suggest you don’t try tempting fate again by taking another dose of it,” she advised him. She hung the dust rag on her shoulder and went to his side. One hand rested on his thick shoulder, the other hovered near the wound site. “Stay still,” she commanded softly, knowing how prickly Eyrien males could be about taking orders from a woman. “I’m just going to check you over.” Like she had been while he had been sleeping, except now he was awake, which meant that she had to warn him or get consent to do things.

Unconscious patients made things a lot easier when it came to that.

She closed her eyes and extended her Healer Craft. After a moment of finding nothing out of the ordinary for a man recovering from a recent brush with Death, she removed her hands, opened her eyes, and said, “You won’t be doing any sparring for the next few days. I can speed up the healing of skin and muscles but I can’t force your body to rebuild its energy stores. Only rest and food can do that,” she informed him. She walked away to jot down a few more notes.

“Do you know who attacked you and why?” she asked Drakkar, even though Vannevar had told her it was someone from the Gravesend Guard. She would have to report this to her Queen and, while the who didn’t matter nearly as much as the why, both questions presented a hornet’s nest of problems to consider. The more information, the better.

Offline Drakkar Estaroth

  • Character Account
    • broken2bo
    • wp
    • reddescent
    • Role

      Warlord Prince of Askavi

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      The Blood Seekers

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      Askavi, Terreille

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      Gavin

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Re: The Court of Hidden Knives
« Reply #6 on: Sep 09, 17, 12:41:09 AM »
The Healer’s voice earned an immediate gaze from Drakkar, whose head whipped around to look her directly in the eyes. The Warlord Prince’s blood and anger were still up, despite his recent awakening. He resisted the urge to snarl at her when she demanded that she stay still. Kaderian would take it ill if he disrespected a Healer trying to aid him, even one of Gravesend’s. He held still, the pain in his side less intense than it was hours ago, but still very tender.

"Do you know who attacked you and why?” she asked.

Damiar Proskur, a coward from Fell Valley Province. I’m sure he thought he was liberating Gravesend and Lady Kriat from the influence of the Blood Seekers and its evil bastard of a leader.” Drake said, snorting in derision. Vannevar’s expression was a bit more subdued, recognizing the issue that the matter presented.

He is a member of the First Circle but no longer. He’ll be removed from Lady Kriat’s trust and then I will claim a Price for his attempt on my life. These spineless fools can't even commit to killing someone properly. Bah!” Drakkar said, his breathing coming slow and steady as the room grew steadily colder. Cassian would see her breath turned to mist, feel the chill in her lungs with each breath. Even Vannervar looked uncomfortable at his leader’s words.

Drakkar simply imagined stringing up Lord Proskur’s organs and bathing himself in the coward’s blood, wearing it as a symbol of his victory and a warning to his enemies.

What say you, Lady Healer? Can I return to my duties or must I lay here like some invalid?” Drakkar asked, his tone sharp. He wasn’t trying to be rude to Cassian, but his voice was harsh nonetheless, better suited to the War Camps than interpersonal discussion.

Offline Cassian Ankhara

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Re: The Court of Hidden Knives
« Reply #7 on: Sep 22, 17, 10:55:03 AM »
Typical male. All bravado and boasting now that they were awake and pissed off. Cassian suppressed a martyred sigh at having to listen to Drakkar insult Damiar and whatever else he promised to do to the male to extract punishment. He probably deserved it and the Queen would most likely agree -- even if she didn’t like it -- but Cassian wished that all of these men could just stop fighting for...a week! Surely, they could manage not slicing each other up over petty arguments for a week, right?

Apparently not, she realized, as the room turned colder. She felt it in her fingers first, since she was trying to write down some notes. She paused and looked at Drakkar. Not challenging him, just...hoping he’d get the silent message that he should control himself. When he didn’t and Cassian’s breath turned misty with the chill, now she did sigh softly and leave the desk.

“What say you, Lady Healer? Can I return to my duties or must I lay here like some invalid?” he barked at her, as expected. If she got a thank you for saving his life, it would be a noteworthy event.

She moved over to the cabinets that held salves and other healing supplies. “Well, if you’re anything like any of the other men in this Territory, I’ll tell you to take it easy for five days and you’ll get bored after three and go charging off against Healer’s orders.” And if she dosed him into a sleep for those three days, he’d wake up even more foul tempered and ungrateful.

Cassian palmed a salve for the wound and a few satchets of restorative brews. “So, I’ll make a deal with you,” she said as she walked back. She held up the jar of salve first. “This goes on the wound three times a day. Try not to get your scar wet.” She then held up the satchets. “Drink one of these every morning for a week.” She floated all of the items over to Drakkar for him to take.

“Come see me in three days so I can check on you. And try not to get yourself killed, please? Damiar’s...whatever you want to do to him, it can wait three days, at least,” she said. She didn’t shudder at the thought of someone else dying, even though they probably deserved it for what they had done, but she wasn’t happy about it either. Theirs was a Territory being torn apart by fighting -- and she was the unlucky soul that had to patch up the survivors.

Offline Drakkar Estaroth

  • Character Account
    • broken2bo
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    • Role

      Warlord Prince of Askavi

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      The Blood Seekers

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      Askavi, Terreille

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      Gavin

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Re: The Court of Hidden Knives
« Reply #8 on: Sep 23, 17, 02:09:52 AM »
Drakkar wasn’t thrilled to be lying on his back. He’d nearly died. The thought gave him pause, but he couldn’t show weakness in front of Cassian Ankhara. She’d saved his life. He respected that and he respected the Healer enough to show his gratitude by not questioning her knowledge outright. But he trusted the people of Gravesend far less now than he did this morning.

Drakkar’s rage warmed as the High Healer fixed him with her pointed stare. He was allowing his anger to get the better of him and he knew it. Was Vannevar calming his rage out of instinct, attempting to protect the female from his wrath? Good move on his part. Rather than question his second-in-command, he looked to Lady Ankhara as she commented on his being like “other males in the Territory”. He nearly snapped back a retort about being unlike any man she’d ever known, along with an offer to show his meaning.

Vannevar must have known what he was going to say, for he shook his head to warn Drakkar away from that very thing.

Thank you for saving my life, Lady Ankhara. I have respect for your Caste and your calling. It...can’t be easy to deal with so many males who refuse to heal themselves properly.” Drakkar said. The words, and his tone, were clipped and short. His wings twitched softly, but relaxed. Drakkar reached into his Blood Opal and sensed Vannevar’s calming Craft hard at work, targeting him.

I will follow your orders and return in three days’ time. I’ll also take the medicine and apply the salves.” Drakkar said, forcing himself to breathe in through his nose and out through his mouth. His ribs hurt like hell and the one responsible for attacking him would pay. Drakkar wanted to tear off after him now, rip him to bloody shreds for his temerity, but doing so at less than his full strength was utter suicide.

The poison that was used upon me...how hard is it to obtain, Lady Ankhara? Is it native to Askavi?” he asked.

Offline Cassian Ankhara

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      Court Healer

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Re: The Court of Hidden Knives
« Reply #9 on: Oct 05, 17, 10:38:25 AM »
“Thank you for saving my life, Lady Ankhara. I have respect for your Caste and your calling. It...can’t be easy to deal with so many males who refuse to heal themselves properly,” he said.

“You have no idea,” Cassian muttered under her breath. She hitched her arms across her chest and watched him. He must have decided to thank her because of something the other one had said because she didn’t think that showing gratitude was a common trait in Drakkar. it showed in his clipped tone. Oh, he might respect the Healer Caste but only because he couldn’t Heal himself. He was dependent on them, so that respect was probably also grudgingly given.

It wouldn’t change a thing though. He had said his thanks and obediently added, “I will follow your orders and return in three days’ time. I’ll also take the medicine and apply the salves.” Cassian didn’t believe that he would follow the medicine and salves correctly but she didn’t say anything. Males. They just didn’t know when to stop and listen to reason.

Resigning herself to yet another patient who was stubborn, Cassian began composing her thoughts towards sending him off, until he asked, “The poison that was used upon me...how hard is it to obtain, Lady Ankhara? Is it native to Askavi?”

She closed her mouth. Exhaled. “It’s not hard for an aristo to obtain,” she said honestly. Aristos had connections everywhere, even across Territory lines. “But it’s not native to Askavi,” she told him. “If you do a little digging into some trade agreements and inventories, I’m sure you’ll find out who sold him that poison.”

Cassian probably had just condemned a poor merchant somewhere and she grimaced. “Just...be mindful that Black Widows also use that poison for some things so please don’t go killing their suppliers,” she suggested, feeling the futility of it already. If Damiar had a lick of sense, he would have done his business under the table and kept the innocents just looking to make enough coin to feed their families out of political conflicts like this. But she doubted Damiar had that much compassion.

She waited for Drakkar to snap at her for telling him what to do, because that’s what males tended to do. Her expression and posture were not cowed. She’d be deferential but only formally so. She had learned how to do that from centuries of working around males who thought they knew better but didn’t. And she had learned to speak up to a point. But at her core, Cassian knew her place in Eyrien society -- down towards the bottom with the rest of the women.

Offline Drakkar Estaroth

  • Character Account
    • broken2bo
    • wp
    • reddescent
    • Role

      Warlord Prince of Askavi

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      The Blood Seekers

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      Askavi, Terreille

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      Gavin

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Re: The Court of Hidden Knives
« Reply #10 on: Oct 08, 17, 11:44:08 AM »
Lady Ankhara admonished him not to kill the suppliers of the poison. Drakkar had no intention of doing so, but he would know who Damiar received it from before he cut that worm’s tongue from his head. Once more, Drakkar cursed the short-sightedness of his people; the Jhinka were an issue, their diplomats had not been heard from in sometime...yet someone had taken the time to plot his death. He cursed his under his breath as well.

The Blood Seekers and the leaders of the War Camps could no longer be his only allies.

Damiar will be dealt with, in time. For now, I’ll follow your advice regarding my healing.” he said, his tone sobered. He despised lying and understood that the High Healer had saved him from death. Despite the driving desire to find his assailant and murder him for his actions...Drakkar had given his word to Lady Ankhara. He would keep it, if only to set himself apart from every other mealy-mouthed male in Gravesend. Drakkar hated courtiers with every fiber of his being.

Once Cassian cleared him to go, he would rise to leave, with Vannevar moving to aid him. He waved his friend off. He would stand and walk out of this place himself. Drakkar stood, bracing himself against the table he’d been lying on and taking a moment to catch his breath. He sighed once, then twice, then stood tall and walked (albeit slowly) toward the door.

Vannevar nodded to Cassican in respect and followed him.

Three days later, Cassian would find Drakkar waiting in her office for her. He was still bandaged around the ribs. Vannevar was not with him this time.

He handed her the empty jar of salve and flashed her a smile that was one-part teasing and another part...something else. He looked her over from head-to-toe, as if he seeing her for the first time.

I am here to honor or agreement, Lady Ankhara, if you have time to see me.